After a bit of holiday respite, I notice that the ELCA Facebook page is once again filling up with people angsting over the Churchwide Assembly vote allowing congregations to call partnered gays and lesbians as pastors/other rostered leaders.
Obviously I have a bias here; I have a dog in this fight, not so much for myself but for my sisters and brothers who are called to these vocational paths as well as to their relationships.
But can someone please explain to me why solidly heterosexual congregations in Outer Possum, North Dakota are freaking out over the thought that a congregation in NoCal or Ann Arbor or Manhattan might call a partnered gay person as a pastor? Can someone explain to me the use of words like "anguish" by these people in describing their state of upset?
Here's why I ask this.
This evening we are entertaining one of Fellow Traveler's high school friends, a fellow veteran, whom she found on Facebook about a year ago. He'd been seriously underserved by the VA, and FT has been helping him navigate through the system to quallify for the benefits he has coming to him, particularly for what is most surely PTSD that dates all the way back to the Vietnam era, as well as for possible Agent Orange exposure.
He's at our house today because this morning, somewhere en route to his "comp and pen" exam, he checked out. He tried calling his home but no one answered. He'd lost FT's and my phone number. He wound up calling another high school friend who is also on Facebook, and asked her to ask us to call him. And she did -- IM'd us in a panic. (All the Farmville and viral cut-and-paste silliness aside, Facebook can be a wonderful thing.)
When FT finally got ahold of her friend, he had made it to the VA, but had no idea of how he'd gotten there. He was crying over the phone, and not always coherent: "I can't remember driving here...I can't stop shaking...I don't think I can do this." FT jumped in the Jeep and drove the 40 miles to the clinic to help him; when she got there the nurses told her they were so concerned about his not having someone with him to take him home that they were going to admit him as an inpatient. FT got her friend calmed down; spoke to the staff on his behalf; helped him get his VA ID card and some meds to tide him over for a couple of days, and insisted that he stay the evening at our home instead of attempting the four-hour drive back home. She had intended to have him park his car at the VA and ride back with her, but he chose to follow her back this far. We had supper, and now we're just watching TV, chatting, trying to keep things light.
Anguish is thinking about your Vietnam tour of duty in the dark of the morning, on a four-hour drive, and suddenly finding yourself there in the jungle with your friends getting blown up next to you by unseen enemies all around you, and your heart pounding its way out of your chest, and your suddenly losing your ability to think or even to breathe, and your winding up in a hospital parking lot two hours later not remembering how you got there.
Amguish is sitting in a room with a VA doctor who's trying to find reasons to not grant you service connection, describing your experience all over again, along with the details of your entire military career and along with all the physical and emotional pain, all the failures and humiliations you have suffered, for the next 30 years because of what happened to you while you were in the Army.
Anguish is not being able to string words together into sentences, or remember instructions that someone gave you 30 seconds ago, or sleep through the night. Anguish is waking up each morning wondering what strange physical symptom is going to plague your body that day. Anguish is having panic attacks that come out of nowhere and leave you shaken and gasping. Anguish is knowing that your loved ones, the people closest to you, don't know what's wrong with you -- not really -- and not being able to explain it to them in a way they can understand.
That, dear readers, is anguish.
Getting upset because someone else's ELCA congregation may call a partnered gay person as a pastor, getting upset because you think the ELCA hasn't gotten it right about "the homosexuals," isn't anguish. I don't know what you're feeling, folks, but it's not that.