We reached out to Jean, to see if she might be willing to join us again today, but we were unable to get in touch. I considered simply playing the recording of her talk from our website, but ended up going in a slightly different direction: I’ll be playing a recorded TED Talk from 2016, on a similar topic.
When I signed up to lead today’s service, I figured it would be easy to come up with things to say. I mean, after all, there’s no shortage of writings and opinions around the Church’s appropriation and subjugation of non-Christian customs and occasions.
As I’ve mentioned a few times in the past, the themes and musings present in the services I lead tend to reflect things that are on my mind at the moment. In this case, it happens to be birthdays. Mine is this coming Tuesday. It also happens to be one of those “milestone” birthdays – I’ll be turning 55.
I grew up in a rural part of Connecticut, in the northeastern United States. My home town, Plainfield, was small, the population was almost entirely white Europeans, and – as far as those in authority in my life were concerned – everybody was cisgendered and straight.
As was the social norm of the time, when someone we knew was gender non-conforming, we were all expected to act as though that fact didn’t exist. Our parents referred to their gay and lesbian relatives and acquaintances as ‘eccentric,’ and to their life partners as ‘roommates.’
We were indoctrinated to the “fact” that being cisgendered and straight was the one true “lifestyle choice,” in much the same way we were indoctrinated to believe our mainstream Christian sect was the one true religion.
For much of my life, my conscious perspective on ‘freedom’ was always in terms of “freedom to.” As a child enjoying nearly every privilege one could – an able-bodied White, Christian, cis, hetero male of European descent, born to a reasonably stable two-parent household, and living in a quiet, small, lily-white town in rural Connecticut – “freedom from” wasn’t something I ever thought about.
Since I mentioned it at the beginning of our time together, let me start my musings with a bit more background on my hospital stay. As I mentioned when I last led our service, in October, I’ve found myself during this lockdown eating less well, gaining back weight I’d thought I was long rid of, and becoming more and more sedentary. My workdays have gotten really long, resulting in my spending as much as 15 hours a day sitting in this very chair.
Well, it finally happened. On the 17th of August, New Zealand joined the rest of the world in dealing with an outbreak of the Delta COVID variant in the community. Our government’s “short, sharp” response announced that afternoon turned out not to be all that short…and, recently, has lost a great deal of its sharpness, as well.
Today, I’m going to spend some time talking mostly about myself. These musings put me in mind of the Talking Heads song lyric: “And I think to myself / well…how did I get here?” Today, as I stand before you, I’m comfortable calling myself a UU Sceptic. Even just a couple of years ago, that wasn’t the case…