The restaurant that shall not be named

I didn’t eat Chick-fil-a on Wednesday, but I’m also not going to boycott them forever.  So I don’t really fit into a “camp”.  I know I’m late in the game here, but I had trouble sorting out my emotional reaction to Wednesday.  I’m sad that I’m on sabbatical right now, because this is great material for a sermon, Sunday school class discussion, or youth group.  It’s a great “case” to start discussion about a lot of theological and practical issues – it’s all about needing a good dialogue with people of every viewpoint.

Why I do like Chick-fil-a and will go again

  • The food is good, and healthier than most other fast food options.  Except the milkshakes, they are way too good to be anything close to healthy.  I think maybe they put crack in their waffle fries, because…oh, so good.
  • It’s very kid friendly – my kids LOVE it.
  • They give out lots of coupons (which never actually expire, despite what the date on the coupon says), and you know how much I LOVE coupons.
  • They give out free bowls of cheerios for babies, and you know how much I LOVE free stuff.
  • You can dress like a fool and get free food once a year.  Some people even dress up and go to three different CFAs  to get three different free meals, can you believe it?!
  • The restaurants are clean, they even have sanitizer wipes on all the high chairs.  And you know how my OCD self LOVES clean stuff.
  • The employees are extremely polite and helpful, carrying my tray to my table when my hands are full of children and getting refills for my drinks without me having to get up, all without expecting a tip and while wearing a smile
  • In college, there were several times for a fundraiser or other student event that they would generously donate food (every time I asked, they gave)
  • Their WinShape Foundation does support a lot of worthy causes, ones I certainly agree with, but I do hope this recent controversy gets them to at least take a closer look at the anti-gay organizations they support and rethink where they send their money.  Because it does matter, especially to their GLBTQ employees and patrons.
  • I truly believe the owners and executives are guided by Christian values and doing their very best to be faithful in their personal and business lives, even though on this particular issue I think they are wrong.
  • They close on Sundays (even though I always crave it on Sundays)
  • They are a very successful business and employ a lot of people in a difficult economy, straight AND GLBTQ people.  So boycotting their restaurant would be hurting their employees who work hard and need to earn a living just like the rest of us, and if I boycotted every company that did things I didn’t like, I would have no where to eat or shop.  Thanks to this guy for reminding me of that.
  • I respect CFA for not promoting the Appreciation Day, and I think it would be really great if they donated a portion of their record breaking sales to a cause that the GLBTQ community would support, like The Trevor Project or any bullying or suicide prevention group.  I think that would do a lot to build some bridges without compromising their personal beliefs.  And wouldn’t it have been really awesome if all those people who bought CFA food on Wednesday would have taken it to homeless people instead of eating it?!
  • One CFA is doing something really cool by partnering with a Pride Fest.  Isn’t it amazing what can happen when we sit down at table together for a conversation instead of throwing around words and instagram photos?!

While I do like CFA, I also did not want to in any way be a part of  Wednesday’s Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day.  It literally made me sick to my stomach – my stomach was in knots all day and the day after as people kept posting pictures of their “successful” days eating at CFA.  I’ve been thinking about it a lot, and I think I was so upset by the whole thing because it seemed that everyone forgot that there are real people, real children of God involved in this “issue”.  Every time one of my facebook friends posted a picture of their crowded CFA, my heart hurt for all of my friends and the people I don’t know who are truly hurting because of the current words being spoken and the policies in place and the potential bans being lobbied for in states all over the country.  People who work just as hard as the rest of yet are denied many civil rights because of who they are and who they love.  People who have loving families.  People who have great faith and love God.

The words that kept popping into my head on Wednesday as I scrolled through facebook updates were smug and pharisaic.  I know you were not intentionally either of these on Wednesday.   For those of you who are my friends who participated in Appreciation Day, I know you are loving and kind people.  And I understand the reasons you went to CFA on Wednesday, really I do.  But I just have to say, from the outside looking in, to people who think differently from you, it did not look kind and loving.  Jesus was always on the case of the Pharisees who strove to live by the letter of the law (First Amendment Rights!  “Biblical” Definition of Marriage!) but who failed to see or help people who were hurting.   People are more important than issues and causes and being right.

I didn’t find out until afterward, but actual churches were rallying behind CFA and telling their members to go on Wednesday.  Really?  Is that what we are called to do?  The whole Bible for me, and the whole mission of the church, can be summed up in these (condensed) words of Jesus:  Love God, Love Neighbors.  No “love CFA”  No “love the first amendment”.  How was the demonstration on Wednesday anywhere close to loving God or loving our neighbor?!

What I think Wednesday did was to confirm in the minds of many GLBTQ folks and non-Christians that all Christians are anti-gay and judgmental.  There was a study done a few years ago, and those were the top two perceptions non-Christians had of Christians, and I doubt the perception has changed.  I think Christians need to concentrate more on the Love God, Love Neighbor stuff if we are ever going to seen as relevant again.

I know that not all people who went to CFA went because they hate gays and that many of them had good intentions.   But even though you may say that you don’t hate gay people, you have to look how they are treated in society and see why perhaps they have their guard up and feel hated by what happened on Wednesday.  When CFA gives money to organizations that spread lies, fear, and hatred of the GLBTQ community, it feels like hate.  When CFA gives money to organizations who actively promote bans on gay marriage, it feels like hate.  When the COO of CFA says he wants to strengthen families, yet also wants to deny GLBTQ people the right to be a family unit with all of the benefits that come with that, it feels like hate.  When he goes on another interview and says, “”I think we are inviting God’s judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at Him and say, ‘We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage,’ and I pray God’s mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to try to redefine what marriage is about,” it feels like hate.   When hundreds of thousands of people flock to Chick-fil-a in a counter protest and post celebratory pictures and status updates, it feels like hate.   It just does, so a little sensitivity is needed when dealing with these “issues”, yes?

I really hope we can all learn something from these last two weeks, me included, as we keep striving to be the people of God in a  complicated world.

In closing, I quote John Stewart about my hope for the future, “In 10 years, America will have a lot more gay marriage and a lot more Chick-fil-a restaurants because they are both quality products.”  You really should watch his whole bit! It’s crass at some parts, but hey, it is The Daily Show.

Other things that inform me

The Bible is not anti-gay by Neely Stansell-Simpson

Dan Cathy Interview

Some Words For Christians on Both Sides of the Chick-fil-a War by Rachel Held Evans

5 Reasons Why the Church Failed Yesterday by Mathew Paul Turner

Would Jesus Appreciate Chick-Fil-A?

Now onto things we can all get excited about!  Olympics!  Funny Kids!  College Football!   Back to School Shopping!  Sabbatical!

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Intervention

A few years ago, I went to PC for the Montreat Middle School Conference and happened upon this fairy statue and blogged a sentence about it, which led to much weeping and gnashing of teeth from the internets (OK, so not weeping and gnashing of teeth, but people who did not agree with me and had a lot to say about it) forcing me to offer a rebuttal.

Well…Mr. Belk is at it again.  This year at the MMSC, I walked to the cafeteria to see the makings of another gigantic statue between it and one of the dorms (where I lived for two years).  I took a picture with my phone and posted it on facebook.

There were lots of comments – none in favor of the statue.  So I went on a statue quest to find out just how many statues there were and how many of them were donated my Mr. Belk.   Here are my findings.

When I attended PC, there were three odd abstract statues…all given by Mr. Belk:

Odd as they were, a little art is good for you.  But in the eight years that I have been gone from PC, they have added 20 statues…for a total of 23 (including the one in construction).

The first one I remember seeing was a child reading on the ground…he now has a friend reading on a bench.  I remember thinking this one was somewhat endearing at first.  It’s located outside of the library so it makes a little sense.  And he was fun to pose with.

And at least they’re reading scripture:

Then, you have the athlete series:

I must note than in my statue quest, I did discover that the only sport not represented in bronze form is soccer.  As the wife and sister-in-law of former PC Soccer players, I don’t know whether I should be enraged or proud: “Soccer is TOO good for a dumb statue!”

There is the school pride series:

PC’s founder, William Plummer Jacobs.  This man I like – he founded PC and Thornwell Home for Children and married my great grandparents…so perhaps he deserves a statue.

The giant (and by giant, I mean GIANT) “William Wallace” statue to represent PC’s mascot, the Bluehose.

Confucius, who lives outside the Carol International House and the Confucius Institute Office.  This statue was the only one not gifted by Mr. Belk.

And finally, the WHAT WERE THEY THINKING?! series:

I love watching So You Think You Can Dance, and appreciate dance in general, but PC does not have a dance program, so this statue really makes no sense on the campus.

Again, I do have an appreciation for fairies (especially as the mother of a three year-old girl), but as a statue outside of the science building on a college campus, it is ridiculous.

There used to be three frogs, but two of them met an unfortunate end…can’t say I’m sad about that…I have no appreciation for human-sized frogs playing instruments and dancing.

And soon to be in this category, the statue in construction “The Human Link”.

It’s a 24-ft sculpture on top of a 4-ft brick base.  This is not necessarily a bad statue, I actually really like what it represents:  It “conveys a sense of community and fellowship.   The 1-ton, 24-foot-tall bronze and stainless steel sculpture features three figures helping each other climb a helix structure.  The piece serves as a metaphor for individuals striving to better themselves and their communities. It also exemplifies the benefits of cooperation and the need for human interaction.”  But the hugeness of it and the placement of it between Clinton Hall and GDH doesn’t make any sense and just breaks up the green space.  It just makes my heart sad. *sigh*

I think PC and Mr. Belk need a statue intervention.

I hope that those of you who haven’t been back to PC in a while appreciated your tour of PC’s statues.  Didn’t know what you were missing, did you?

on on PC

So in response to the serious comments from yesterday’s flippant post, let me say this:  I know that Belk donated the statues and that PC didn’t actually spend money on them, but there has to be a point when the big guys here say, “Thank you so much Mr. Belk – you do amazing things for this school and we are so grateful for enabling us to provide quality education to quality students.  We really appreciate the art that you have donated to the campus, and we recognize the important of supporting the arts, however, we have much more crucial needs X, X, and X and we would like to be able to use the funds that may go to statues for those things so that we can better educate our students.”  I know no one wants to insult such a big donor, but really there are SO MANY RIDICULOUS statues on campus.  At first, it was kind of comical, but now each time I come back there are MORE RIDICULOUS statues, and I come back every year for the middle school conference.  I work for a church, which also does its share of fundraising, so I understand the need for money.  But we recently received donations for a bell tower.  We do not need a bell tower.  But we do have many other needs, so we called the donor, expressed our appreciation, shared our current needs, and asked if we could use the funds in that way, and she agreed.  viola.  And if Mr. Belk still insists on donating art, why not feature art that either 1) has anything to do with the campus and its ideals of faith and service or 2) the art of current students and alumni – at least that way it would mean something to the campus rather than be a point of mockery by students and the surrounding community.

But that is just one of many things I don’t understand about PC.  To its credit, the leaders have done some amazing things to improve the common areas of campus – the renovated/expanded library is actually not scary or smelly; the new Biology building is incredible; the renovated campus center is SO much better and more usable; the dorm lobbys are nicer and more welcoming.  But I still lift great complaints about the dorms.  We are here this week with 600+ middle school students (and a handful of high school students), and this is a great opportunity to show what a wonderful place PC is and that it should be on their list of potential colleges.  But then you house them in Georgia dorm.  One of our rooms has giant holes in the walls and ceiling tiles missing.  Our bathroom has rust all around the doors, and the cabinets are falling apart.  Not to mention how dirty it is.  I know that students share the blame in the condition of the dorms, but really?  The middle schoolers that came with us are less likely to come to PC after staying in Georgia for sure.

And since I’m on my soap box and talking about PC’s missed opportunities, let me say a word about the recent meeting of all of the SC presbteries.  In May, all five presbyteries gathered at PC for worship, tours of the college and Thornwell, and our regular Spring stated meetings (which they do every five years).  It is not easy to get all these people here, many have to travel much farther than they do for regular presbytery meetings, but I understand the reasons.  It’s great to gather as a larger part of the body of Christ.  It’s a great time to showcase two of the most important missions of  SC churches and presbyteries (Thornwell Home for Children and Presbyterian College), and since the college is continually trying to uphold it’s church-relatedness, it’s a big opportunity.  So what does PC do?   We have lunch after our meetings on Saturday in GDH.  They charge all the ministers and elders $8.  They serve us not-so-appetizing hot dogs, hamburgers, plain Lays chips, and watermelon – we couldn’t even finish it was so bad.  Really?  

But that’s just my soap box – I just really think PC is amazing – I had the best four years, I wouldn’t trade a second of my time here for anything.  So it makes me sad when opportunities are missed to really highlight what PC is really about. 

PS – yesterday’s post now includes a picture of the fairy in case you thought I was making it up.

FAIL

I am spending the long weekend in Disney World with over 1000 youth from three denominations at an event called Faith in 3D.  We left Friday morning at 6:00am.  I will not have access to internet while we are there (nor will I have time to post althought I’m sure the material would be abundant), so I am writing a few blogs ahead of time.  This is your first “Away From My Desk” blog post:

I saw this heading tothis article:  8 States are Tobacco Flunkees, and knew that SC had to be one of them, so I clicked on the article, and sho’nuf I was right.  It really is ridiculous how few steps SC has taken to educate people, raise taxes on cigarettes, and eliminate smoking in public places.  In our town, there are only 8 restaraunts that are completely smoke-free.  That’s unbelievable!  We were so spoiled living in Atlanta where everything was smoke free.  And now we have to request Non-smoking, and still get seated close enough to the smoking section to smell it.  I mean, really people, how do you expect a half-wall to keep the smoke from getting to the other section?!  With all of the research on the impact of second-hand smoke, how in the world are people still allowed to smoke in a public building?!  I just don’t get it. 

Speaking of smoking, when people come into the church office smelling like smoke asking for money for gas or groceries, I’m always tempted to yell, “Well why don’t you stop buying ciggarettes and spend THAT money to buy food for your kids?!”  I have little sympathy for this.  And I don’t know how to handle that.   I know times are hard for many people, but we all make choices about how we spend the money we do have.

bailout

I’m not a numbers person – and I’m not a money person.  It just doesn’t make a lot of sense to me.  But I know there is something not right with what’s going on with the bailout, in whatever form they are talking about.  These companies screwed up through risky business and questionable practices.  And now they are going to get an out, and still get paid more than I do.  I heard that one of the top execs at Washington Mutual had just started with a $6 million signing bonus, and it was in his contract that he would get $8 million if he was fired without due cause.  So he stands to get $14 million for 18 days of work – there’s just something wrong with that.  How is anyone’s work really worth that much? 

That’s a LOT of money.  I talked about the Wall Street mess last week in my sermon*, and just posed the question:  What if the government gave all of that money to charity instead – through programs like Habitat for Humanity that help people get back on their feet.  What if they brought back the state psychiatric facilities?  That would get many homeless people in safe environments – for them and for the public.  What if?  I’m not saying that it would solve any problems, but it’s interesting to consider.  How different would that look?

And then I get this e-mail forward from my dad on another option for the money.  I didn’t check the numbers or the math or the facts, so just take it for the theory that it is – again, something interesting to consider:

I’m  against the $85,000,000,000.00 bailout of  AIG.  
 
Instead, I’m in  favor of giving $85,000,000,000 to America  in a We Deserve It  Dividend.  To make the math simple, let’s assume there are 200,000,000 bonafide  U.S. Citizens 18+.  Our population is  about 301,000,000 +/- counting every man, woman and child. So  200,000,000 might be a fair stab at adults 18 and  up..  
 
So divide 200  million adults 18+  into $85 billon that equals  $425,000.00.  My plan is to give  $425,000 to every person 18+ as a  
We  Deserve It Dividend.  Of course, it would  NOT be tax  free. So let’s assume a  tax rate of 30%.  Every individual 18+  has to pay $127,500.00 in taxes.  That sends  $25,500,000,000 right back to Uncle Sam.  
 
But it means that  every adult 18+ has $297,500.00 in their pocket. A husband and wife  has $595,000.00.
 
 
What  would you do with $297,500.00 to $595,000.00 in your  family?
Pay  off your mortgage – housing crisis solved.
Repay  college loans – what a great boost to new  grads

Put  away money for college – it’ll be there

Save  in a bank – create money to loan to  entrepreneurs.

Buy  a new car – create jobs
 
Invest  in the market – capital drives growth

Pay  for your parent’s medical insurance – health care  improves

Enable  Deadbeat Dads to come clean – or else
 
 
Remember this is for every adult U S Citizen 18+ including the folks who lost their jobs at Lehman Brothers and every other company that is cutting  back. And of course, for those serving in our Armed  Forces.
  If we’re going to re-distribute wealth let’s really do it…instead of trickling out a puny $1000.00 (“vote buy”) economic incentive that is being proposed by one of our candidates for President.  As  for AIG – liquidate it. Sell  off its parts. Let American General go back to being American General. Sell off the real estate. Let the private sector bargain hunters cut it up and clean it up.

But as much as these large companies have screwed up, so have regular ol’ Americans.  I hadn’t thought of it this way until Suzie Orman was on Oprah and said that we all share the blame.  Americans took out mortgages they couldn’t afford.  They bought houses and cars they couldn’t afford.  They bought houses with no money down.  They have an average of $9,000 in credit card debt.  People were trying to live outside of their means, and the banks and lending companies took advantage of that.  And now everyone is suffering, even those of us who make a conscious effort to leave simply, who pay all their bills, and who try to be smart, not greedy when it comes to money.

But what could WE do with that money – the “we deserve it dividend”?  Pay off our house, pay for medical school, buy a minivan, start a college fund for Piglet, give money to the church and charities, and still have some left over.  I don’t think we really deserve it like the author of this e-mail says, because even though we work hard, we haven’t earned it.  But man, it sure would be nice to really be debt free.  Imagine the possibilities – the good we could do.

 

*My love would get mad if I didn’t give him credit for this idea – he is the one that came up with the “what if” – there I said it.

 

sick day

12:45 PM – Piglet is asleep. in her crib. during the day.  for more than 30 minutes.  and this is her third nap.  and she woke up this morning AFTER 6:00 AM.  This is a big deal around here because usually she’s not big on sleep during the day, but it’s not really a good thing.  She’s sick today.  She’s had a little cold for a week, and today she had a pretty high fever.  We are going to the doctor in an hour. 

I am a little frustrated because since she started daycare, I’ve stayed home with her four days because she caught something at school.  And she’s only been going a month.  I wonder if other parents are acting responsibly and keeping their kids home when they’re sick…I’m doubting it, since that’s where Piglet picks up all of her germs.  I know it’s a big incovenience to keep your kid at home when you have a job and only so many days off, but it’s not fair to the other families.  I know she’s bound to get sick, and she needs to build up her immune system, but twice in one month? 

But at least I have a flexible job and can do a lot of work from home.

I had to stop typing because Piglet woke up.  Now it’s 6:15 PM.  The verdict – her first ear infection.  She is on her fourth outfit; I am on my third.  Aparently high fever and ear infections make some kids throw up as well.  lovely.  She is just so pitiful, so tired, so uncomfortable.  But daddy’s here now, and we are with grammy at her house to watch the USC game.  So things are looking up.  Hopefully she will feel better tomorrow.

Live like no one else

Yesterday, we had free tickets to go to the Dave Ramsey “Total Money Makeover Live Event”…so we went – because I like free stuff.  Now, we are fortunate – we have basically done all of the baby steps in his plan.  We don’t have debt (except the house and now med school loans – and we aren’t taking out nearly as much as most); we have a good bit in our IRA/403b accounts; we have 3-6 months of expenses in savings.  And ministers aren’t exactly raking in the big bucks.  But we’re smart and practical.  We made it through college and seminary without debt at all – which is rare these days. 

But I went to the event because some church folks had talked about doing his “Financial Peace University” course at church.  This is an important issue that churches need to address, but after going to the event, I’m just not sure if this is the program we want to use.  It felt a little to me like the prosperity gospel – aka Joel Osteen.  (sidenote – one of the church members brought me an article on him today entitled, “God wants you to be rich now” because of a recent conversation on this very topic – ha).  Is that really what we are called to be – rich?  Dave Ramsey had a good beginning – being frugal, getting out of debt, saving money, and in the end he did talk about giving, but it seemed like an afterthought.  His slogan is “Live like no one else so later you can live like no one else”  meaning, if you are smart with your money now and make sacrifcices, then one day you can have all of the nice things – the nice cars, lobster, the big house, nice clothes – and still be debt free.  But why is that the goal?  He claims a Christian message and quotes a good bit of scripture, but to me faithful living is not working to become rich so you can have nice things, but working to be rich so you can be a blessing to others.  Ghandi said, “there is enough for everyone’s need, but not enough for everyone’s greed.”  That makes perfect sense, and goes right along with the biblical notions of Jubilee and redistribution.  I would love to see a cage match debate between Dave Ramsey and Shane Claiborne…I would even pay money for that.

Personally, the way I look at it, I am living on the generosity of others – my paycheck comes from the offering of the congregation.  To me, that’s a pretty big responsibility and I can’t justify frivilous spending.  Of course, we are particularly frugal right now with my love in school.  again.  We don’t have cable.  We don’t have nice cars.  We don’t have a big nice house in a nice neighborhood.  We don’t have fancy things – we have old second/third/fourth hand furniture and the things we got as wedding and baby gifts.  Don’t get me wrong – I am so thankful for what we have and know that others are not as fortunate.  I’m not complaining.  I’m just stating the facts.  And I think about my love being a fancy pants doctor one day…and I have an internal battle with myself.  On one hand, I want to have nice things – at least couches that aren’t blue and pink and stained and nasty.  I want a nicer house in a nicer neighborhood.  I want a pedicure.  I want TBS and TNT and USA and Lifetime and MTV.  But then I think about the Church Unbound conference we went to in the beginning of July…and the thought of simple living.  It’s not about how much you make, but how you spend it.  My love could be bringing in lots of money one day, but what could we really do with that?  It would be nice to splurge a little, but I feel called to be faithful.  To really “live like no one else”.  To give my money away joyfully and abundantly – to redistribute the wealth – to share the well.  I could go on forever…I won’t here, but the internal debate continues…

For those of you who come to read about light, funny things Piglet does, sorry – but here’s a little update – she’s WALKING.  crazy.  And she’s plays peekaboo really well.  She will hold a towel over her face (without any prompting) and wait until you say, “Where’s Piglet?”  Then she pulls it down and laughs hysterically as you say, “There she is”  And repeat…repeat…repeat….so much fun, I could play all day.