2008/12/20

This Hannukah eve seems like as good a time as any to talk about my rather unusual email address: hannukahLinda... I mean, it's unusual for an Anglican. Hannukah is not, after all, on the liturgical calendar.

It started out as a fun nick-name that some of the students in Hebrew School called me. We sang Ladino a song entitled Ocho kandelikas and the very first line is Hannukah Linda esta aqui..., and so for a few weeks I became Hannukah Linda. Then an adult friend started joking around with it. And, I even called myself that a few times.

It was later, along about Tu B'Shevat I'd say, that I thought about the significance of Hannukh and saw it's realavance to me.

You all know the Hannukah story of Roman oppression, the resistance, desecration, and returning. If you don't, Google it. It's a grand story and I couldn't do it justice here on the blog.

But there's another story that only I can tell: my own. It's tale of oppression, resistance and failure, desecration and redemption. Like the real story of Hannukah there are some battles, and there's some blood, and some times when it looked as if all was lost.

Seriously.

And what does God give me? A tiny little dab of Hannukah oil.

See, here's the thing, it's hard to celebrate Sukkas in a foreign land. The Hebrews were having a hard time of it. You can't shake the lulav in a state of oppression, after all. They'd been in exile, treated like animals. Sukkot -- the days of our joy -- was not a present reality. But, the Hebrews remembered, and they longed for the sweetness of the etrog, the rustle of the palm and myrtle.

And what did God give them? A dab of oil.

For re-dedicating the temple, cleansing it and making it ready, God gave them one little dab of oil. Hardly enough.

But there was something in the Hebrews who re-took the temple, something in me too, and I am guessing in all of us. It's a little voice that says, "Light it anyway... see what happens."

For me, I've had some things to reclaim, some cleansing to do in my own life. But, every time I light the oil I have, no matter how small, it's enough. Dayenu!

The oil that God had tucked away in the temple burned for eight days, same number as Sukkot. Dayenu!.

Hannukah is not one of the major festivals. It's not all that spiritual. But, for me, it means that God has given me everything I need to cleanse the temple, to get myself ready for a new regime. Hannukah means that the days of my oppression are over and that Sukkot -- the days of my joy -- have been restored!

Hannukah makes new, and ready. In some ways, it's the perfect way to observe Advent. Hannukah is proof that even my own desecrated life can be restored.

The first words of the Hanerot Halalu, said while lighting the Hannukah candles are:

We light these lights
For the miracles and the wonders,

For the redemption and the battles...

So for my own battles, the miracles and the wonders I've seen, for the redemption and cleansing I've experienced, all I can say is Nes Gadol Hayah Sham, a great miracle happened here.

So, now that you know why I love Hannukah:

“Spin your dreidels, eat some latkes, and have some Hanukkah Gelt,
a Hannukkah Gelt Martini that is”.

hanukkah_gelt.jpg

Hanukkah Gelt Martini

2 parts chilled potato vodka
1 part Goldschlager

Combine in a shaker with ice, mix gently and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Serve with Hanukkah Gelt - what else?

L’Chaim!

Hat tip to Drink Of The Week.

And, while you're throwing that back, enjoy a little cool Hannukah Swing from our man Kenny Ellis:



Yes,Virginia, there's Swinging Dreidel too!



And, oh yes... there's Oh Hannukah too!





* This is the portion from Maccabees that refers to the the sukkot-hannukah connection: And they celebrated the eight days [ of Hannukah] in joy as chag ha-sukkot in their remembrance of their troubles before some time on chag ha-sukkot in the mountains and caves as beasts of the field. Therefore, with branches of myrtle and branches of beauty and date palm branches in their hands, they gave thanks to He who permitted them to succeed in purifying His Temple. And with a consensus they established for the entire Jewish nation to celebrate each year these days.-- Maccabees II 10:6-8


2008/12/19

I've only got about a nano-second to post this so just let me rant because, as previously stated, I am mad. I am mad about AIDS, I am mad about the church, I am mad about the very existence of Rick Warren whom I find profoundly irritating. I am mad. I don't know why people don't get that. Is it because of that placid demeanor, the way I speak softly, urging calm? What? Why can't you all understand that I am damn fucking mad. Do I need to wave my arms around like a goose, raise my voice? Would you believe me if I got a little red in the face? What does it take for you all to see that I am mad? Please stop thinking of me as one of those good gays, one of the ones you can really talk to because I am sick of talking to you. Sick, sick, sick of it. You can't love me and hate the trannie down the street. You can't think I am reasonable but that a gay bishop is just too much. You can't think that I'm OK not like those other gays. For the love of Jesus Christ people. I AM those other gays. And I am really, really mad at you for assuming othersise. -- OK. That was mainly to my IRL friends. But, hopefully, we now all know that I am in fact mad.

Here's what Barak Obama said about the stupid and hateful decision to ask Rick Warren to pray at his inaguration:

Obama replied, "let me start by talking about my own views. I think that it is no secret that I am a fierce advocate for equality for gay and lesbian Americans. It is something that I have been consistent on, and something that I contend -- intend to continue to be consistent on during my presidency.
OK. What he was consistent on is that he is not for equality at all. He did not support No on 8, he said that he is not in favor of marriage for all. What's fierce about that? Get real Barak baby. You are for us as long as it's convenient. DOes barak Obama think we are stupid?

What I've also said is that it is important for America to come together, even though we may have disagreements on certain social issues. And I would note that a couple of years ago, I was invited to Rick Warren's church to speak, despite his awareness that I held views that were entirely contrary to his when it came to gay and lesbian rights, when it came to issues like abortion. Nevertheless, I had an opportunity to speak. And that dialogue, I think, is part of what my campaign's been all about; that we're not going to agree on every single issue, but what we have to do is to be able to create an atmosphere when we -- where we can disagree without being disagreeable and then focus on those things that we hold in common as Americans. Now see, I don't think of myself as an issue. I think of myself as a human being. And when you disagree with someone about gay rights, those are MY rights, and I am a human being not an issue. It is not OK to have different views about my human rights. That is not OK. A few years ago, when I was younger and dumber, it was OK. It's not OK now. Be clear, Barak, it is totally disagreeable to discuss my human rights as if they were up for debate. That IS disagreeable. So don't act like we can just sit around sipping tea and talk about "the issue" of my full inclusion in American life like it's OK because we're all being nice. Because if you think that's OK then maybe later on we can have a nice chat about slavery. All without being disagreeable, of course.

"So Rick Warren has been invited to speak. Dr. Joseph Lowery, who has deeply contrasting views to Rick Warren on a whole host of issues, is also speaking. During the course of the entire inaugural festivities, there are going to be a wide range of viewpoints that are presented. And that's how it should be, because that's what America's about. That's part of the magic of this country, is that we are diverse and noisy and opinionated. And so, you know, that's the spirit in which, you know, we have put together what I think will be a terrific inauguration. And that's, hopefully, going to be a spirit that carries over into my administration." Well, that almost appeals to my Anglican sensibilities of inclusion. But, you know what, and maybe this is just me, but oppression is not magic. It's just not. And, I don't think I have to say anymore about that. I'm all for a big tent. But, let's not pretend, not even for one minute, not even a nano-second, that there is anything magical about oppression. It's too closely tied witht he myth of the magic black man which Barak should be all too aware of since he is now a victim of it himself. We are not magical people and oppression is not magical and my full -- and I do mean FULL -- humanity is not up for discussion.

My name is Linda Diane McMillan and I approve this message.

2008/12/14

Gaudete!

Rejoice, rejoice! Well we Anglicans certainly get that part. We tend to like the rejoicing part quite a bit. But, I saw something else in the readings that caught my eye this morning. It both comforts and annoys me because, while it does explain some things, it is not the news I really wanted.

Way down in the reading, almost hidden is this little gem:

"Then will God's own peace, which goes beyond all comprehension, stand guard over your hearts and minds, in Christ Jesus, our Lord."

And to get this peace you really don't have to do all that much. Be nice, so nice that people actually notice it. Keep anxiety out of your minds, and the use of helpful drugs for this is not prohibited. Tell God what you need, and be thankful about it. And, you will get the peace. It's in the Bible.

So, since I am in kind of a grumpy place, I said to the Lord, "Well, where is my peace? and why is my mind so chatty, and my spirit unurestful, and why is it hard to pray, and where is my peace?" and, as is His practice, the Lord said nothing. Nothing at all.

So I re-read the pericope and noticed the "beyond all comprehension..." part. Here's the thing, what I really wanted, and what I was expecting, was a kind of peace that I could understand. You know, I wanted it to feel good. In fact, I am not sure that a peace which I can't even conmprehend is of any use to me. But, not understanding, I can't be sure.

So, the good news is that we may have more peace than we realize, our hearts and minds might be better guarded than we think, and God is quite possibly still working and refining us even when it seems like He has abandoned the project.

The bad news is that whatever He is doing is beyond comprehension. So, once again, we are left in the fog at the end of the pier.

Gaudete!

2008/12/08

There's a story I want to tell you. It's a pretty good story too. But, while I work on getting around to that, our friend Diane has posted a stunning sermon over at Faith in Community. If I were going to say anything really important, I hope I'd say something like what she said. Hei thee hence, I'm giving this my highest recommendation.


And, remember that her excellent dog, Scout, has a blog too. Scout's Food For Thought hasn't been updated in awhile but it's worth clicking over for the photos. You've just gotta love this dog.

+++

And, as an added bonus, I would like for all the strighties out there to read this. And, since they don't require any further enlightenment on this subject, Diane and Ann are exempt. The rest of you really should do your best to read the whole thing. Hat tip to Barbi over at Feathers and Faith for the link.

2008/12/04

Towards the end of his letter, the writer of 2 Peter said something like this:

"Our good buddy Paul wrote to you about the things he knew. He does that in all his letters. Of course, some of what Paul says is hard to understand. Ignorant and unstable people do try real hard to understand, but they wind up twisting it all around and getting it wrong in the process. They do that to all the hard-to-understand parts of scripture. I am warning you, keep clear of those guys. But, for you, don't worry so much about always having the right answer or being able to understand the deep mysteries of God. Just concentrate on growing in grace, knowledge and understanding will come when you need them."

I like these verses (2Peter 3:14-17) because I think they are a pretty good vindication of our ambiguous Anglican ways. We are not, after all, people with answers.

I am not reading a lot of condemnation over the quest for understanding, or even that maddening desire some of us have to know everything. The writer is just saying that these people are unstable. We sometimes read "unstable" as "mentally unstable." But, that's just because we live in a world where it is socially acceptable to make fun of those unstable ones. those mentally ill ones. Those -- over there -- who are not like us.

Whatever. I don't think that's it.

I am thinking that the writer is talking about a different kind of instability. Maybe he is saying that the impetus to comprehend what is clearly ineffable comes from not being steady in some other ways.

And, actually, I think a lot of us are a little bit unsteady. We don't really believe that allowing ourselves to be loved is enough. It's hard to believe that we don't have any say in grace, or God, or our acceptability. It's easier to believe that if we wrestle with it enough we will, at long last, understand all the things of God and that will make us acceptable, lovable, and worthy.

We want to think that we have something to do with it.

But, we don't. Not really.

I think that one of the messages here is, "Look, of course there are lots of things you don't understand, and there are lots of things you can't know for sure. But, hey, just relax and enjoy the questions; sit back and let grace grow."

A relaxing day to you all; all you lovable, worthy, accepted ones!

Things Done and Left Undone

I nicked this from Ann's very excellent blog. It's all about what we've done and what we haven't done.

I actually have a list of things I want to do. I am wondering if the rest of you keep a list, either a real one or something in your head, of things you'd like to do before it's, you know, too late. Do you?

Here's my Done/Undone list:
What I've done is in bold, undone is not in bold. As you might expect, I've included some helpful commentary.

1. Started my own blog
2. Slept under the stars - In a hammock.
3. Played in a band -- chamber music ensemble
4. Visited Hawaii
5. Watched a meteor shower - at my farm
6. Given more than I can afford to charity
7. Been to Disneyland/world --been to both
8. Climbed a mountain -- Mt. Washington is the highest I've climbed
9. Held a praying mantis -- and other critters
10. Sung a solo -- only to Rowan
11. Bungee jumped
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched lightning at sea
14. Taught myself an art from scratch
15. Adopted a child
16. Had food poisoning
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty -- only up to the crown. The arm was closed.
18. Grown my own vegetables
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France
20. Slept on an overnight train
21. Had a pillow fight
22. Hitchhiked
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill
24. Built a snow fort
25. Held a lamb -- I've held chickens and some other barnyard creatures. Not a lamb. I have eaten lamb though. That should count for something.
26. Gone skinny dipping
27. Run a Marathon
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice
29. Seen a total eclipse
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset --both - many times.
31. Hit a home run
32. Been on a cruise
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
34. Visited the birthplace of my ancestors
35. Seen an Amish community
36. Taught myself a new language -- taught myself!?!?!? Uh... no.
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David
41. Sung karaoke ---and hope I never do!!
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt -- Would like to visit Ann and see this in person.
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight
46. Been transported in an ambulance
47. Had my portrait painted
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud
54. Gone to a drive-in theater
55. Been in a movie --I produced a movie in college and feel that it should count.
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business -- dumb idea, btw
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies
62. Gone whale watching
63. Got flowers for no reason
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma
65. Gone sky diving - did ride in a stunt plane
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp - did see the holocaust museum in Houston.
67. Bounced a check
68. Flown in a helicopter
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial
71. Eaten Caviar
72. Pieced a quilt
73. Stood in Times Square
74. Toured the Everglades
75. Been fired from a job -- not smart enough to quit first!
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
77. Broken a bone
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person
80. Published a book
81. Visited the Vatican -- on my list
82. Bought a brand new car -- another bad idea but I've done it.
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had my picture in the newspaper -- my dog too!
85. Read the entire Bible
86. Visited the White House
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating -- Hey, I'm not Sarah Palin.
88. Had chickenpox
89. Saved someone’s life
90. Sat on a jury -- cleverly wiggle out of it.
91. Met someone famous
92. Joined a book club
93. Lost a loved one
95. Seen the Alamo in person
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake -- I've seen it but I thought it was too icky to swim in it.
97. Been involved in a law suit
98. Owned a cell phone
99. Been stung by a bee
100. Ridden an elephant -- but riding a camel is on the list. I've ridden other things, horses and even a donkey.