Random and not so random musings from a 5th generation NE Missourian who became a 1st generation Episcopalian. Let the good times roll!

I have decided the four most dismissive and frustrating words in the English language are "You can't possibly understand."

My mother, who suffers from chronic pain recently, calls me on the phone because she's hurting. I try to be sympathetic. I say, "I know you're in a great deal of pain," and BLAMMO! I'm cut off at the knees.

"You can't possibly understand the kind of pain I'm feeling."

At this point, I am always thinking, "What am I supposed to say at this point? What can I possibly say? Anything I say will not be good enough. If that's how you're going to be, then why the hell did YOU call me? How can I even show I care when you dismiss my care right from the get-go? Screw it, then."

In an attempt not to take it personally, I remind myself, "This is not about me. This is about her pain. This is just transference from the pain onto me, the handy object." But it's still hard...and frustrating...and at times my response is "Oh, the hell with it."

This week, while cruising the blogosphere and following dialog with the locals, I find I'm having the exact same feelings about the upshot of the Bishops' statement in New Orleans in their attempt to define things for the Anglican Communion. Worse yet, it feels that way from all sides.

My take on the statement was "Big deal, so what." I had suspected from the get-go that 1) the HOB was going to give the AC a "non-answer" about their demands since the AC has no authority over the ECUSA, and 2) their answer would please no one--not the righty bishops, not the AC, not the GLBT crowd, not the left end of the ECUSA, because in order to deal with the AC, their answer HAD to be a non-answer. I was right on both counts.

I was okay with a non-answer. It's my opinion that what we doctrinally do in the ECUSA is not much of the AC's business. We can't force the right to fall in line with inclusivity, we can only influence over time. They can't dictate to an autonomous body. It's also my opinion that truly full inclusivity in the GLBT sense is still a ways off, until more individual attitudes are changed. We're not talking about what I wish, we're talking about "just the facts." But ECUSA is ahead of the curve, and I don't see the statement as a step backwards (BO33 from the 2006 General Convention is there, like it or not, at least until 2009.) The right wing bishops wanted to free Barabbus and hand them Gene Robinson for crucifixion, but that didn't happen.

But what I find so horribly frustrating is I am surrounded by "You can't possibly understand." I lurk a lot of sites, post on very few. The extreme right leaning crowd, frankly, is going to walk no matter what is said. There is no point discussing why I believe in full inclusivity in the church for GLBT folks to them, they have written me off as an apostate (Ok, I secretly like being an apostate, but that's another story.) But the part that hurts is that there is also no point in me throwing my .02 worth to certain GLBT folks I know who are hurting terribly and feel like the Bishops' statement was a sellout, either, because the tone of their posts told me that anything I say, because my take was not exactly the same as theirs on the Bishops' statment.

I followed and lurked along with a LOT of pain on both the OasisMissouri group and the Anglican GLBT group. Some GLBT folk are so hurt, they are talking about leaving the church. Some have made animal blessings the target of their anger ("the church authorizes animal blessings but not same sex couples.") One poster even went so far as suggest that straight people in the congregation simply see GLBT's as "their little exotic pets" so they can look cool and pretend to be inclusive. I could see that nothing I could say in an attempt to empathize would be enough. Been there, done that, bought the t-shirt. I was doomed to get "You can't possibly understand, you're straight."

It is not rocket science to realize this is anger that is being directed at the "handy objects"--local clergy and local fellow congregants instead of the real bad guys. Well, DUH, of course I can't totally understand, but I can get a good enough idea of the pain, to realize we still need work on "inclusivity." I would just once, though, like to not get "you can't possibly understand" when I am trying to be there to share someone's pain on this issue, and not have my head chewed off when I don't agree on every single point about the speed (or lack of) that this happens.

Sorry for being so negatively wound up, but we all need to just chill, and meanwhile, love each other the way God intended-- to love the image of God within the person inside of all those layers, who is not constrained by gender, or orientation, or looks, or opinions.


Kirk, I don't have all the answers to the big questions, but it occurred to me that with respect to your mother and her pain it might help if you said, "Mom, I'm sorry you're in so much pain," instead of, "I know you're in a great deal of pain."

It might not make any difference at all, but you wouldn't be giving her the "I know" - "you can't know" lead in.

As for the rest of the stuff, those of us who are straight can't possibly know - and that's the truth of it. We admit it.

GLTB folks differ in their reactions to the HOB statement, too.

We can only love each other. If others don't love us, then we love them anyway.



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I'm a longtime area resident of that quirky and wonderful place called Kirksville, MO and am wondering what God has hiding round the next corner in my life.

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