A Day in the Life of a Mother of Three Boys

My siblings and I possess several letters written by our mother Dorothy Harper, which only serve to make us more in awe of her.

She raised 5 children, with a husband who was away from home much of the time in the early years in his role as national youth leader for the Methodist Church in the US. She held down the home front, while writing scripts for religious radio programs, and volunteering for church and civic causes.

Here are some excerpts from one of the letters that our mom wrote almost every day that dad was travelling. This one was from the time there were only us three boys — Steve 1 year old, Hal 3, and Rusty 5.

Dear Snookums,

The name of this is “From Morning Til Night.” As you drove out the driveway, the whole tribe, pajama clad, stood on the porch waving til the last streak of you disappeared down the road, then made a mad dash for the kitchen. Stevie hollered, “Bake-bake” (bacon) as he hoisted himself into his highchair. Russ and Hal had the usual verbal skirmish about who would sit in the green highchair. As they ate raisin bread toast and bacon, Hal said, “Mama aren’t you glad I didn’t wet my pants last night? Soon I’ll be a big boy up to the sky! I’ll be so big I haf to stoop down to come in the door.” The veracity of this statement was immediately challenged by Rusty, “Nobody can get that big. They couldn’t get in the house at all if they were that big.” This produced an argument that lasted thru breakfast….

Hal sat dawdling over his scrap of bread. There was something on his mind: “Mommy, what makes food spoil?” I explained how little bugs called bacteria got onto the food and would eat and walk around on it and make it taste bad. Then followed much discussion. “Can we see the bugs? Why can’t we see little enough? Why don’t they like to live in the refrigerator? Why don’t we just keep some left-over bread and things out so they can get on them and not our good food? I want to hurry up and go to school to see that machine so I can look at all those bugs”….

Hal hollered from the living room, “What does m-a-c spell?” I answered, “Mac”. “You mean like Mac-a-roni? Oh! I didn’t know I could spell!” Delighted with himself. (Normally he just calls out letters like v-r-a that don’t spell anything.) This spelling spree is in imitation of Rusty who reads off letters from cereal boxes, signs, etc…

As I was writing this, Hal came up with an old pill box Bert Lyle left under the bed. “You know what I got in this? I got some old raisins I pulled out of my toast, and I’m saving them so the little bugs will have something to eat.”

Meanwhile. Russ is in the back bedroom teaching Stevie to jump across from one bed to the other. One is too high for Stevie to climb, but he pulls himself up and makes as if to dive across, and falls like a chunk of lead into Rusty’s arms. Both are tickled to death…

By this time, Hal is into the refrigerator. “Now, Hal, What am I going to tell you?” “You are going to say get out of the refrigerator—but I’m not the one letting all the cold air out. Stevie’s just standing here punching the light off and on and wasting ‘lectricity!”…but as I return to writing, Hal is back in the refrigerator. “Hal,” I call in my warning voice, and the explanations just flow; “but Rusty wanted some water. Aren’t you glad I’m sharing my cold water with him?” By now Stevie has pushed his highchair over and is walking around on the table.

I herded them out to the front porch with a bunch of toy cars and planks to run them on, but Stevie has decided to call on the Johnsons. He is across the street in a wink at their front door in his diaper. When I get him back, settled with the ball and hammer set, Rusty and Hal want to go across the street to see the new child riding a stick-horse and playing cowboy.…

While Stevie is contentedly banging away, I will recall for you the events of yesterday when ElizabethAnn (a girl from next door) pretended to be the Mommy washing Hal, and Hal squealing, “But I don’t want to be washed AGAIN!” She had washed Stevie’s hair under the hydrant for the third consecutive day, and brought him in curled and shiny on top as a new penny, but with as dirty a face and legs as a street urchin.

At nap time, we discussed deep sea fishing, with special emphasis on octopuses, and “what they do to you!” Before we went to bed, they needed to see a picture of one which I managed to find in a dictionary. Then, as a final gesture to ward off sleep, they wanted to play everybody-take-a-turn-singing-their-favorite-song. Rusty asked for “Go to sleepy little baby”, a song Grandma Harper mostly makes up as she sings. I said I didn’t know it, and Rusty exclaimed. “Well, Mother! I learned how to play “Hallelujah” on the piano and spell cat and tree. It looks like you’d be smart enough to learn one little old baby song!”

When Hal’s 2nd turn came (the first time he always chooses, “I Love Little Pussy”) he picked the song Rusty made up months ago when he told me he was going to “compose some songs.” It has such elevated thoughts as: “Ears from the hall, ears from the hall, earsy, dearsy, mearsy………..” The second verse is : “Nose from the hall…….etc.” Occasionally I choose this song when my turn comes, and this pleases them no end. It has become such a classic in the family.

Hal wistfully remarked, “I wish we had a mother hen and a daddy hen so we could get us lots of chickens, about a hundred, cause you got to have a mother and a daddy hen before you get baby hens, don’t you?”

COME HOME, Daddy Hen!
Love, Snookums

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Marching or Standing By

After telling governors they need to use national guard units to “dominate” protesters; after saying  looters should be shot (rather than arrested); after threatening to bring in the armed forces to any state that doesn’t put down the protesters with violence; our president did in fact use armed forces.

They used tear gas, rubber bullets, and flash bombs to “dominate” completely peaceful protesters who wanted justice for a black man murdered in cold blood by Minneapolis police officers. Our president did this so that he could show how powerful he is and how Christian he is by having a photo op in front of a church, holding a Bible he does not own, and has never read.

cartoon by Tim Holmes

There have been many brilliant responses to the violence advocated and practiced by the president and the heroism of protesters against racism across the county. The best I have seen, in my own biased opinion, is from our Montana Logging and Ballet Company friend, Rev. Steve Garnaas-Holmes, from his blog today at unfoldinglight.com

                                                 UNLESS

 At the cross the people stood by watching;
and the leaders scoffed.
                  —Luke 23.35

Three officers stood silent
while a fourth killed a helpless man, slowly.
Centurions at the crucifixion.

To kill, all we have to do is stand silent.
The killing is already going on.
All we have to do is stand by. Stay silent.

Don’t raise your voice.
Don’t protest.
Don’t question what happens.

Don’t object when the Emperor desecrates the holy place.
Don’t defy the secret police.
Don’t cry out. Don’t disrupt.

That’s all you have to do to abet the killing. Stay silent.
The killing will go on, just fine.
Thank you for your cooperation.

Unless you would like your own cross
to bear. Unless you would stand with the man
with the crown of thorns.

Unless you wish to take your faith that seriously
in these serious times.
Unless in you the Holy Spirit is already crying out.

Unless in this kingdom of death you would be resurrected.
Unless you have already died and your life is hidden in Christ.
Unless in you life is stronger than death, love is stronger than fear.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

The future of our nation will be determined by whether we are able to march together to get freedom for all of us, or whether we will let the killing continue by standing by.

Here are two songs about marching and gentleness that are both essential sides of the freedom coin. Steve wrote them for the Montana Logging and Ballet Company 30 years ago, but they sound like he penned them for his blog this morning. The songs follow one after the other from this link.

“Freedom Way” from “Take the Barriers Down” album and “Oh Be Gentle” from “We Don’t Get It” album of the Montana Logging and Ballet Company, words and music by Steve Garnaas-Holmes https://soundcloud.com/tim-holmes-studio/freedom-way-by-montana-logging-ballet-co

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The Difference a Stable Genius Could Have Made

In a parallel universe, the following might have happened. Warning to conspiracy theorists: this did not really happen. It is what is called “fiction” or even “a feeble attempt at humor.”

The time is 1940. The US has survived the depression, under the leadership of a rich man who is president. Some detractors accuse him of narcissism, racism, womanizing, corruption, and telling lies in every single fireside chat. However, by his own admission, he is a stable genius who singlehandedly rescued Wall Street, drove up the stock market to unbelievable heights, put everybody to work who wanted a job, and made America great again.

September 1940, New York Times headline: German Planes Bomb London All Day

The President calmly goes on the radio for his fireside chat to calm the nation.
“My adoring fans, some people are trying to run down my friend Adolf Hitler. I have looked into his eyes. I trust him. He cabled me that the bomb stories are all lies put out by people in England to destroy his good name. All he is doing is making Germany great again. Fortunately for you, I am here to tell you to ignore fake news from England. As my foreign advisor says, ‘You can’t trust the frogs.'”

December 8, 1941, New York Times headline: Japanese Make War on US and Britain

The President goes on the radio for his fireside chat. “My adoring fans, yesterday the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. I think that’s in California. This a day that will live in infamy. We will fight them with the infamy and the navy and the air force and the space force. We will fight them on the beaches, we will fight them in the houses, we will fight them in the brothels. We will destroy them until not a Mexican is left. I will be a war president and I will win the greatest victory ever. The war will be over by Easter.”

June 1942, NY Times headline: Momentous Victory for US in Midway Battle is in View

The President goes on the radio for his fireside chat. “My adoring fans, I won the war. It cost many American lives, but I am not responsible for any of that. I’ve been a war president for almost 6 months and I’m sick of it. The cure is worse than the disease when it affects my stocks.

“How did I win the war? I called my friend, Adolf Hitler. He said he would let the US invade any countries we want in the Americas. I asked what about Mexico and Canada and Brazil, and he said we could include those too. Naturally I said he could do what he wanted in Europe, as long as we didn’t have to pay for it. He also said he’ll give me a lease for hotels on some really great beaches on the Bering Sea as soon as he conquers Russia.

“Adolf also promised to get his buddy, Japanese Emperor What’s-His-Name, to apologize for Pearl Harbor, and to promise never again to attack California. I don’ really mind if he attacks states that don’t support me and America, but I’ll let that go.

“I have ended the war with a crushing victory for me and the US. The economy will take off like a rocket. I will get the Nobel prize for Peace and for the Economy. Adolf said he will force the Nobel country to send them over. I think it’s Ireland.

“I am keeping the War Powers Act in place, which means I am cancelling the coming election, because I deserve to be president for life. Take to the streets, grateful Americans. I have won the war, and all our troops are coming home to take part in a huge parade in my honor. Do you want to know how much of a genius I am? Unlike any imposter in the future who may claim to be a stable genius who knows more than all the generals and all the scientists put together, I can spell most English words correctly.”

The rest is non-history.

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In Praise of Social Distancing

So how bad can it get? The phrase “you ain’t seen nuthin’ yet” comes to mind. When the whole world is in social distancing, what then? I’ll tell you how bad it’s getting. At our house, Pat put a handwritten sign outside: “HELP. I’m an extrovert all alone in a house with an introvert.”

Apparently, the coronavirus isn’t really dangerous to young people, and the younger the young person, the less the danger. So I have this theory.

Like our president, who is exactly my age, I know nothing about the complexities of the corona virus, but I feel free to make up whatever lies I want, because, like our president, nobody believes anything I say anymore.

So here is my theory, and I’m sticking to it until Pat reads this. Young people are in little danger because they are already pros at social distancing. They do all communication through their little screens rather than speaking to human beings. This virus is all about keeping people from face-to-face contact. That is the purpose, the raison d’être of the virus.

Yes, there are some downsides, like lots of sickness and deaths, the overwhelming of health systems, and the crash of the world economy with the resulting devastation of all that entails. But look on the bright side. The universe is sending us a signal because this virus has some clear preferences.

1. The virus favors young people. Most of the deaths will be of old people who created a political system that has led to complete dysfunction in this country, and authoritarian impulses in almost every other democracy. Who doesn’t believe in science or climate change? Old people. Who doesn’t believe there is anything wrong with racism or homophobia or a system that deliberately rewards the already rich and punishes the poor? Old people. Who voted for Donald Trump and his minions? Ye Olde people. The virus favors the young and is dooming us boomers to make room for them.

2. The virus favors introverts. Admit it, extroverts, your best chance is to behave like an introvert. Read, watch tv, write, listen to music, but don’t go talk to people in person. One of the biggest upsides of all this will be a reduction in the world’s population, less by deaths than by people not getting together face to face, if you get my drift.

3. The virus doesn’t like team sports or music from bands, symphonies, or choirs. It likes one person with one instrument, or one athlete competing against him- or herself for time or distance or whatever measurement. The upside of that is that introverts can spend more time honing their skills without having to take breaks to talk to somebody.

4. The virus doesn’t like lies, neither people who tell them nor people who believe them. Donald Trump’s lies (The virus is no different from the flu — The virus will disappear in April like magic — The virus is a hoax made up by Democrats) led to the US being less prepared and slower to react than virtually any other industrial democracy. And the virus has spread faster than it would have if, for example, Joe Biden had been president, because of the risky behavior by people who believed Trump’s lies. The virus favors the truth.

So I’m personally in good shape because I’m an introvert and our band, the Montana Logging and Ballet Company, is dead and can only make a comeback as a zombie group that doesn’t get together in person. I’m not in good shape about being old. Maybe I can lie about my age, but then I’d be in trouble for the lie, not to mention all the whoppers I have told in this Friday Good News. In fact, that title is a whopper in itself.

OK, I’ll start writing my own obituary. Just because I made up this stuff, that doesn’t mean it won’t prove to be exactly right in a world that has gone crazy. Enjoy, all of you young, introverted, truth-telling loners. The world is your oyster. Hope you like oysters.

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Let’s Give Ourselves a Valentine

I forgot today was Valentine’s Day. After 43 years, I slept in rather than racing down to Safeway at 7:00 in the morning amid the mad throng of crazed flower-buyers to find something that Pat would like. Fortunately, she likes all kinds of flowers, but today I forgot.

Early February, and I’ve already blown my chance for the Husband of the Year award. Pat is very forgiving, so she still has a shot at Wife of the Year.

Once or twice in the past I wrote her a poem, but my brain is clearly not functioning well enough now. I’d probably rhyme “valentine” with “gal o’ mine”, “rise and shine,” and “Frankenstein.”

I’m not the only forgetful one. Our country has forgotten that love is better than hate, that decency is better than bullying, and that honesty is not just the best policy, it is the foundation on which democracy rests. Our foundation is crumbling.

It’s too bad our Montana Logging and Ballet Company is no longer functioning. We would love to have written a valentine to our country from our founding fathers. Fortunately, someone on YouTube did. Turn up your speakers and click here. Happy Valentine’s Day.

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Hide and Seek

It’s almost the end of December, the traditional time for elderly people to ask, “Where did the year go?”, forgetting all about Einstein’s Theory of Relativity of Time which states that “Time speeds up exponentially as you age, except when in the presence of relatives you wouldn’t necessarily have picked had you been given a choice.”

I’m not asking where the year went, not because I’m sick of my relatives — I love them all — but because I’m tired of hide and seek. If the year is lost, I’m not looking for it.

I’m good at hiding, but I hate seeking. Car keys, Chica’s dog sweater, the milk, my darn glasses. I just had them. Pat, what did you do with my glasses?!? No, I never leave them in the spare bedroom, and … never mind, here they are. Yes, in the spare bedroom. Hey, don’t make fun of me or I won’t help you look for your phone.

I no longer like hide and seek.

I used to. When we Harpers were kids in Great Falls, we and friends would sometimes play hide and seek. On dark nights in the fall, when the weeds in the vacant lot by our house were waist high, and we didn’t use flashlights, hide and seek was a wide-open game. In the few seconds when “It” was counting to twenty, all you had to do was lie down on the ground in the weeds, and the person who was It could never find you unless he or she stepped on you. You couldn’t be seen.

So everybody gave up after a while. Either that, or we changed the rules, so that everybody was “it” except for one, and we all went stomping through the weeds after giving him or her 20 seconds to zip out into the field. We almost never found the hider unless he got scared and got up and ran and we chased. Then it looked like something out of a comic horror movie.

Now, the worst part of hide and seek is the game I play inside my head. My brain never converted to digital with the times. My memory uses a card catalogue to locate what I have stored in the brain circuits. When somebody, mentioning no names, forgets to put a card back in the catalogue, then I can’t retrieve from the “stacks” of my brain the name of my doctor; or the singer I like so much, you know, What’s-her-name; or the name of the high school classmate. I haven’t yet lost track of where I put the names of my siblings, but it’s always a possibility. I’ve become excellent at hiding things from myself, and ever less successful in the seeking.

At this point anybody under 55 has stopped reading because they have no idea what a card catalogue is, but they can recognize dementia when they hear it.

Our democracy and our denomination (United-at-least-for-a-little-while-longer Methodism) are both quite elderly, and they both are playing hide and seek with the truth. Racism was going out of style, but is it now socially acceptable again? When Jesus said God loves everybody, did he mean everybody who is heterosexual only? If you tell lies often enough and get enough people to believe them, does that make them more important than truth, which you can then label “Fake News?”

I feel like the weeds are more than waist-high, and our nation and church are searching for truth that has taken to lying down where it can’t be seen. Maybe the time is getting late, so we need to shout: “TIME OUT! EVERYBODY IN! Mom made s’mores and hot chocolate and some of you need to call your parents.”

Just a suggestion.

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Cold Montana Morn

In our now defunct band, The Montana Logging and Ballet Company, Steve Garnaas-Holmes wrote almost all the songs, and they were spectacular ones. Tim Holmes wrote a few good ones as well, while Bob FitzGerald and I wrote only a small handful of tunes not performed in our show.

Recently I was musing about missing out because I couldn’t do Steve-style songs like the pop-folk-jazz-gospel-rock-humorous-satirical ones that he did. Maybe my “talent” would have been more suited to writing country music, despite never having played or sung a country song. I say that only because I know nothing about it. So, on a bleak snowy morning not long ago, I tried my first lyrics for that genre.

Cold Montana Morn
lyrics by Rusty Harper
The temperature was falling and the snow was blowing sideways,
The woman on the TV said they’re closing all the highways.
Your momma said, “Let’s call in sick” — and that’s why you were born.
You were conceived in love on a cold Montana morn.

We didn’t stop to think about the world that you would live in,
The meanness, all the hate and fear they use to make us give in,
The greed of wealthy people who must always get their way.
Good thing that love, not fear, won out and you are here today.

The rich are grabbing all they can, we hear from all reports,
They bought the president and Congress, and they bought the courts.
They trash the jobs and close the plants, like humans do not matter.
The bottom line is this: the fat cats all are getter fatter.

They buy up land and rivers, jobs, trophy wives and power,
They justify it with big lies that they change by the hour.
But you have always known the truth: the reason you were born
Is, despite their wealth, they do not own the cold Montana morn.
They’ll never own you, launched in love on a cold Montana morn.

Well, there it is. I can see that Garth Brooks isn’t going to call, so I’ll get back to mucking out the corrals, metaphorically speaking.

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Telling the Truth, Sort Of

Like most people, I try to tell the truth all the time, but there are times when it needs to be fudged a little. For instance, no matter who is asking it, the question “Does this make me look fat?” has only one correct answer and many variations on the incorrect answer.

For decades I was in management positions, and had a strict policy of truth-telling, but with as much tact as possible. That sometimes gets tested when you are asked by third parties to give a recommendation for one of your employees who is applying for work elsewhere.

Of course, managers are usually glad to sing the praises of great workers to help them up their career ladder.

It is more difficult if the person has some deficiencies, but you still want to help them get the new job.

Here are common phrases used by managers everywhere:

(for a lazy person) You’ll be lucky to get him to work for you.

(for a person who frequently steals from the petty cash fund) She takes change seriously.

(for a person with a serious alcohol problem) In his present job, his best skill is being wasted.

(for a generally incompetent person) No one would be better for your job.

Then you have the problem of people that you really want to keep because they are great at what they do, so you would just as soon have them not get the new job they are seeking.

That problem can be solved by honest recommendations like these:
When she finally shows up, she works harder than anyone else.

When he’s sober, he’s the best there is.

I’m no longer working, so I had to find other ways to use my diplomatic truth-telling skills. I now use them when discussing politics with people who support Donald Trump. The conversations remain convivial when I say truthful things like these:

When the President’s wall is finally built, it will keep a lot of trash out of this country, depending on wind currents.

When it comes to white supremacy, President Trump has done a lot personally to prove that proposition a complete fallacy.

The President alerts us all to the prevalence of fake news every single time he speaks.

No other politician has ever taken the Peter Principle to such heights.

Donald Trump promised to do something big about the national debt, and did he ever deliver.

Who else could have turned our enemies into close friends? Bosom buddies, actually.

Of course he’s religious. He’s a self-made man and he worships his creator.

No president has ever made such a radical difference in the respect America receives from our allies.

Even women who are Democrats are moved by Trump’s charisma. He touches them all.

I feel like I am doing my part to make dialogue in this country more civil, while speaking the truth. Sort of.

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Really Welcome

I was proud of our Helena St. Paul’s United Methodist Church when we became a Reconciling Congregation some years ago. That means we declared that we welcomed LGBTQI+ people into full participation in our congregation, despite the excluding and judgmental stance of our denomination.

We intend to remain welcoming, denomination or no. Still, we have something to learn from the Green Street United Methodist Church in Winston-Salem North Carolina. Here is their welcome statement:

“Welcome to Green Street, where the Kingdom of God is breaking through!

“We practice the radical welcome of God:
Whether you are
single, married, divorced, widowed,
black, brown, white, or mixed,
straight, gay, bi or confused,
transgender, cisgender or non-binary,
born in the USofA, or undocumented,
we welcome you.

“We love crying infants and wiggly toddlers
athletic moms and out-of-shape dads,
immature gray-haired people
and children with old souls.

“We welcome friends of Jesus and church-phobics,
religious refugees and agnostic doubters,
corporate executives and starving artists,
tree-hugging vegans and red-meat eaters.
the unemployed and over-employed,
Republicans, Democrats, independents and anarchists,
the tattooed, pierced, both or neither,
people who know it all
and those who have hard questions.

“We don’t care if your family came here
on the Mayflower or came across the border,
came through Ellis Island,
were brought here as slaves, or seek refuge.
Everyone is welcome.

“We believe that black and brown lives matter
and that white privilege is real.
We welcome the least, last, losers and the lost,
upper class, middle class, working class,
or people with no class at all.
If a crowded room gives you an extrovert buzz,
or if silence soothes your inner introvert,
there’s a place for you here.

“You are welcome
if you have sobered up or are still using,
in recovery or thinking of rehab.
We love sinners and saints,
neighbors, strangers and enemies.
Your presence enriches us.
Thanks for visiting,
and welcome home.”
                               Now that’s a welcome.

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Hate does Not have the Final Say

In one sense, I am glad our father, Rev. George Harper, is no longer alive to see what is happening to the United Methodist denomination that he loved and served. I am sorry that my wife Pat and others like her have to see this day, after all the years she and they have put into service for our global church.

Church people often have very different views about divisive social issues. Political fights can be vicious and dehumanizing, as with civil rights and women’s rights. When the church fights over such issues, the fights are even more vicious, because the Bible is often used as a club to bash the “unbelievers.”

Our denomination was split, and the conservatives were figuratively waving the Bible as if it were one book with a clear message about what and who God hates, while the progressives were also “waving” the Bible but saying that Jesus’ and the prophets’ message about love was the opposite of the Bible’s culture-endorsing passages.

Then we split into two different denominations.

The time was just before the Civil War. The conservatives who would become the Methodist Episcopal Church South argued that the Bible taught that slavery is not only accepted, but ordained by God, and that there are 120+ places in the Bible that say so, in both the Hebrew and Christian scriptures, such as these:

When a slaveowner strikes a male or female slave with a rod and the slave dies immediately, the owner shall be punished. But if the slave survives a day or two, there is no punishment; for the slave is the owner’s property. Exodus 21:20-21 New Revised Standard Version

Slaves, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, in singleness of heart, as you obey Christ; not only while being watched, and in order to please them, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart. Ephesians 6:5-6 NRSV

The progressives of that time argued that these were cultural values of the Biblical times as well as the present time, but that God’s intent was that love and justice as taught by Jesus and many of the prophets meant the exact opposite.

Even our present-day United Methodist conservatives no longer believe the myriad Biblical passages showing God endorses slavery. I truly believe that years from now they will no longer believe the six places in the Bible that see same-sex love as unnatural and cursed by God. (There are three verses in the Hebrew scriptures and three in the letters of Paul and his disciples writing in his name, but none in the gospels.)

The debate in St. Louis this week was instructive. When people advocated for acknowledging that Christians disagree on these matters, they used the words of love and inclusion. We are all created in God’s image. We are all children of God. All means all.

Not all, but many for the Traditional Plan were simply mean-spirited. They personally attacked our own Bishop Karen Oliveto (bishop of the area including Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, Utah and one church in Idaho) because she is married to a wonderful woman. Never mind that Bishop Karen is a loving Christian person who is also one of the best preachers and spiritual leaders in the country. The personal attacks, often cloaked in passive-aggressive language, feel like the same ugliness directed toward people of color and women, both in the past and in the present political debates in this country.

That wasn’t enough. They not only voted to keep the hateful language about same sex prohibitions, but tried to add amendments that would force millions of us out of our own denomination. There would be provisions to kick out not only bishops and clergypersons, but also whole churches, like St. Paul’s in Helena!

The outcome was murky, with our United Methodist Judicial Council ruling some of the worst parts of the plans to be unconstitutional. In fact, the entire Traditional Plan which passed will be ruled on by our Judicial Council in late April.

Regardless of the outcome, I trust we will continue in Helena to stand for the God that Jesus described as “Love” and will be proud to be “loyal opposition” of our denomination or part of a new coalition of like-minded churches if the worst happens.

I also believe that Hate never has the final say. As Martin Luther King, Jr., said, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” I trust we will be on the right side of justice with our LGBTQ+ siblings, though it might no longer be under the banner of “United” Methodism. I imagine John Wesley and my father, not as rolling over in their graves, but as saying something like this: “God approves of Bishop Karen, and so do we.” Hate never has the final say.

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