Sunday, March 11, 2012

2012.03.11 Either vs. Or—or Both

In our nation, and perhaps in the world and in our churches, we are trying to move from rigid positions of EITHER/OR to supple positions of BOTH/AND.

I think of piano playing. You can’t play music that soothes souls with rigid fingers. You also can’t make peace with inflexible minds and hard hearts.

The process of getting to BOTH/AND is painful, like any enormous world view change. It’s a time when EITHER and OR fight more vociferously, even viciously. Both are afraid.

I remember when my children would fight over who had more favor or love. They never put it that way, but if they got anxious about parental attention, which happened more than a few times (some of it through parental fault and flaw) they competed for the love they all already had in full and equal measure. Today I'm proud about how they have grown up and into each other.

On a larger scale we get war and more war in our politics, on our streets, among our religious perspectives, in our homes, and in our families—not just with foreign lands. These latter only become convenient scapegoats for looking deeply and honestly at ourselves.

The temptation is to hop on one side or the other and stay there believing yourself loyal and devoted when really you’re only a loyal-ist. Peace is a higher value than victory.

Now we hear radio talk show celebrity,chauvinist of conservative patriarchy, Rush Limbaugh curse a female college student for testifying to Congress about wanting her health care insurance to cover contraception. By Limbaugh’s rhetoric she can be EITHER a “slut/prostitute” OR a “pregnant madonna.”

The fight is on and the battle ground is a woman’s body. Once again.

Women, especially Roman Catholic women, don’t want to call this a women’s liberation issue, a feminist platform. It is politics they say. It is about health care they say. It is about religious freedom and the economy. Yes it is all that, AND......

I ask: on whose body is legislation about birth control coverage visited? Do men take contraception pills? Do men get pregnant? Not yet. So is this an EITHER/ OR fight disguised by new language? Is it a gender justice issue in essence? Certainly it’s a patriarchal power issue.

I don’t agree with some religious traditions that disallow blood transfusions for the sake of purity of creation. I also think practitioners of such faiths should have their choice even if it means their choice leads to their death. That doesn’t mean insurance companies would stop covering blood transfusions, or that you and I would stop donating our healthy blood, does it?

When will we enjoy a society and a church that is BOTH/AND, women and men together for the common good? God AND humanity cooperating for the good of all creation? Heaven-in-earth and earth-in-heaven?

In this BOTH/AND vision, Church and state institutions BOTH take their lumbering free time to make changes for justice AND individual people are free to make their own moral choices.

I guess any vision begins with one, or a few.

Wise, brave U.S. Senator, Olympia Snowe, moderate Republican of Maine fits that bill for me. Fed up with partisan politics and gridlock (EITHER/OR impasse,) Snowe walked away. She will not seek a fourth term, believing she said that she can do more good outside the halls of power, traditional change agents.

Brava Olympia Snowe. And thanks.