For those of you who might be interested in interacting with me in a more formal way at the Philadelphia Trans* Health Conference, here is what I am up to:
On Wednesday May 30th I will be caucusing with the clergy. If you are a trans* identified seminarian or clergy person, plan on coming to this event on Wednesday from 2pm to 5pm. There will be a conversation for seminarians and a chance for clergy to converse surrounding both shared ministry interests and by denomination.
On Thursday May 31st (in a location off site and yet to be determined): The Archbishop Michael Seneco of the North American Old Catholic Church will be hosting a "Theology On Tap" event. We'll eat some good food, drink some good drinks, and talk about theology. This is open to everyone no matter your denomination. My guess is it will be pretty Christian centric, so keep that in mind, but all are welcome. It's going to be a lot of fun.
On Friday June 1st from 12:45-2:05 I will be on a panel with Joy Ladin. We'll be talking about trans* specific approaches to sacred text. Joy is a wonderful person, a poet, and a deep thinker, and a Jewish scholar. This is going to be a really fun conversation.
On Saturday June 2nd from 12:00 to 1:00 at the conference my ordination to the Diaconate of the North American Old Catholic Church will be happening, presided by Archbishop Michael Seneco. All are invited and welcome. If you are a clergy person or a faith leader you are invited to arrive a little early and to robe and/or vest and process. I am thrilled that my ordination will be happening in the context of the conference.
If you are not going to be in Philly, but would like to be a part of the ordination by livestream, I will be attempting to live stream the event. I set up a channel on justin.tv and will be posting a link. I will probably get it up and running around 11:45 just to make sure that it's going, so plan on tuning in for that.
In about a week and a half I'll be at the Philadelphia Transgender Health conference. I'm looking forward to the conference for a lot of reasons: I get to see some of my very best friends, I'll be on the east coast and eating Jim's cheesesteaks, I get to do a fun panel presentation, a theology on tap event, and get ordained to the Diaconate! It's going to be an awesome weekend.
I am also looking forward to meeting some folks who I have connected with via twitter or this here blog. I always feel like I need to offer a "here's what you might encounter when meeting me" before events. A friend passed along this video: and it's pretty spot on for my experience as well.
But here's a couple of extra tips: If you see me, please, feel free to say hello. I WANT to meet people. If when you spot me I look angry or bored, it's probably just that I am overwhelmed. It's still okay to say hello.
I might be super awkward and have trouble making eye contact. It's not because I don't want to talk with you, it's because these conferences stress me out and I'll be trying to gather my wits.
I will probably not attend many of the sessions. I find that I do better when I can go at my own pace. So if you want to have a longer conversation (which I welcome) it might be best to do it during a session time as the halls are quieter.
So yeah, those are some tips for the care and feeding of this introvert. Please, though, if you're going to be there, let's connect! If you want to schedule a time to meet up and hang out, just send me an email. My Saturday is going to be a wash, I think, but Wednesday through Friday (with some exceptions) will be good. I'm also going to put up another post with some specific stuff I'm involved in that if you are a church nerd you might want to check out.
I've been thinking a lot about "the shoulds" lately. There are so many things I feel like I "should" be doing: I should be out protesting injustice everywhere and getting arrested, I should be living in a communal house, I should be educating lots of people about trans* issues, I should be updating this blog more, I should be engaging in more conversations about queer inclusion in the church, I should go out more often with friends, I should read less and be more social, I should show up at community events, I should, I should, I should.
And then when I don't do these things I feel guilty. Weighed down by feeling like I am not a good enough Christian, not a good enough radical, not a good enough person.
I was telling my friend Brian about all of this and he related something a friend once told him: "When I left the evangelical church I exchanged the guilt about hell and evangelism, etc. into a guilt around activism." That really resonated with me. When I was in the evangelical church there was a priority placed up "witnessing". In actuality there was a priority placed upon extroversion. And I never measured up. I was scolded for not being willing to go up to strangers and share my faith. Scolded for having only a couple of close, deep friendships instead of having shallow relationships with everyone around me. It was always a pressure to be and to do more.
And now I am in the liberal/progressive/radical circles and the pressure is back. The pressure to show up to community events, the pressure to protest, the pressure toward communal living. And once again I don't measure up.
But here's the thing: If I forced myself to live communally (to pick one example) I would be a total jerk because I would be living without the space and resources I need to be a healthy person. Instead of giving back to the community I would resent my housemates. I would be exhausted and unhappy. What would be the good in that?
I am trying to learn how to be patient with myself. To uncover what it is that I really need to be a healthy and whole person. I am trying to let go of the guilt and "the shoulds". I think there are times to push myself: There are times when I need to show up at a community event or a protest. But there is also the reality that I am built for different things. I need to live into my own unique giftings and not feel guilty about that.
I prefer to spend my weekends at home, alone, with a good book or three. I work best when I can be alone and uninterrupted. I don't like a lot of noise in my living space. I love to preach and to do public speaking, but I need several hours to recover afterwards. I can sometimes be a more eloquent activist by writing a letter than I would be if I tried to speak about the issue. There is nothing wrong with any of these things (except the fact that they are rarely valued in the larger culture).
I am also trying to determine the areas in my life where I haven't been living from my strengths; the places where I speak up even though I am not ready because I feel like I have to, the places where I have been pretending to be an extrovert for too long and so am feeling burnt out, and the places where I have been neglecting the things that make me feel whole (like journaling). I am trying to make sure that more of my life is lived from within the "sweet spot" (to use Cain's wording) of my introversion.
I believe that we are meant to live into our wholeness. That divinity comes from that sweet spot. That being who we are and embracing who we are is a gift to the world. We need to stop with the shoulds and the guilt.
What are "the shoulds" that are burning you out? What guilt do you need to let go of? Who is it that you are meant to be? What unique calling do you have? Where is your "sweet spot" and how are you going to do more to live into that space this week?
Last year at the Wild Goose Festival I got the chance to sit down and interview Jennifer Knapp. For those that don't know her, she is a wonderful musician who got her start in the Christian music world and made waves a couple years ago when she came out. The first part of that interview is here. Here is part two:
Last year at the Wild Goose Festival I got the chance to sit down and interview Jennifer Knapp. For those that don't know her, she is a wonderful musician who got her start in the Christian music world and made waves a couple years ago when she came out. This is the first part of that interview (part two should be up next week):
I honestly don't have the words. here's a poorly written blurb on the newest information. the fact that she had to take this plea because she was faced with a racist and transphobic system, a possibly bigoted jury and judge, and it all just makes me fucking sick. she's being penalized for surviving.
Are you coming to the Philadelphia Trans Health Conference? If so, plan to get there on Wednesday afternoon for some really exciting networking.
On Wednesday starting at 2pm we’ll be having a special caucusing session. In addition to being able to network with people from your denomination later in the afternoon, we’re also going to be having some other special caucusing opportunities.
In an effort to build community and to create lasting support networks for folks around the country we’ll be caucusing around shared interests. Some of the ideas for caucuses proposed so far are: Folks in rural ministry, people who are “stealth”, Folks who are interested in doing media advocacy, and more. The hope is that these caucuses will be the first step in starting small groups of folks who will provide support and resources to one another year round.
If you have a group you would like to be in, or a topic for a group that you would like to suggest, please contact Shannon Kearns at firstname.lastname@example.org.
There will also be a caucus for trans* identified folks in seminary or other spiritual formation courses.
Please pass this email around to your various email lists and invite folks you know who might be interested.
Thank you and looking forward to seeing you in Philly!