A Tale of Two Churches: Living in DC During the Gay Marriage Showdown

I’m living in Washington DC.

The very same Washington DC where the United States Supreme Court will commence hearings on whether  marriage freedom is a constitutional right this week.

In other words: It’s a gay marriage showdown. And I have a front row seat.

I see a serious mix of messages on this subject, and not by accident.  I intentionally attend churches which disagree with each other.  I am a regular at a liberal United Church of Christ.  I also spend time at a very Conservative Roman Catholic Church.  Ten-thirty United Church service. Noon Mass. I do this for the same reason I wear one earring that says “Oui” and one which says “Non” every Sunday–because Truth usually hangs out “somewhere in the middle.” Also, because I can, because I like to pray, because it’s fascinating, and because it gives me a real perspective on organized religion.

In case you were wondering, it usually looks something like this
In case you were wondering, it usually looks something like this

Here’s what the gay marriage debate looked like on Sunday, presented from two very different Christian angles:

The members of the United Church of Christ prayed for marriage equality during the service–twice.  Everyone was encouraged to gather at the Supreme Court and stand for “marriage equality”.  During coffee hour, a new church member marveled aloud at the incredible support for gay marriage.  A clergywoman overheard and said “Well of course! Love. Equality. No questions asked.”

Catholic Mass, meanwhile, is a little (lot) different.  The members have been encouraged–strongly–to march for marriage.  Translation: Keep it between a man and a woman. That is the Bible’s word, and God’s design, period. No questions asked.

Well, now, this is interesting.  Both congregations serving up prayers and protests related to gay marriage.  Both praying to the same God. They make reference to the same Bible. They know the same Jesus. They both have scripture to back up their points.

But their positions could not be more different.

Christians who support gay marriage have the golden rule. They have affirming and inclusive scripture like Galatiens 3:28 – “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” They take a non-literal, contextual stance on scripture which condemns homosexuality, and reach instead for messages of compassion. They argue stuff like this, and this, and this.

Christians against gay marriage have words like “sin” and “family values.”  They claim to take scripture very seriously, especially bits like Leviticus 20:13 – “If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall surely be put to death; their blood is upon them.” They sound something like this, and this, and this.

Side by side, it’s all kind of confusing.  Again, these are all people, talking about other people, making reference to the same Bible/Messiah/God.

It gets more confusing on street level.

This is the logo for the big anti-gay marriage organization:


…and this is the logo for the big pro-gay marriage organization:


Here’s an anti-gay marriage advertisement:

Now here’s a pro-gay marriage advertisement:

.Here’s a kid testifying about her parents:

Here’s a kid testifying about his parents:

Want to hear more anti-gay marriage rehtoric? Visit frc.org
Want to hear more pro-gay marriage rehtoric? Visit hrc.org!

Want to show up to protest on March 26? GREAT:

If you’re for same-sex marriage…
If you're against same-sex marriage...
If you’re against same-sex marriage…

So, ladies: Wear red. Bring your kid. Quote the Bible.  You’ll fit right in.

(…wherever you go.)

I’m not trying to make a point with this, exactly (although, full disclosure, I am personally a big supporter of marriage equality). I just find it interesting to watch, especially from my current vantage point. Even though there are fundamental differences between the two movements, the superficial similarities are just so striking.

And with that, I present:

The ‘Which Side Said It?’ Gay Marriage Game!

Can you tell whether the quote is from an argument for or against gay marriage?

  1. God promises to find the lonely and place them within families. We are cautioned against the idea of making an idol out of our familial relationships, foregoing any alliance above that of our affiliation to Jesus.
  2. We first learn about diversity and acquire a respect for difference through the complementarity of our parents.
  3. Very few people would have believed just a couples of decades ago that the definition of marriage would be debated in the US Supreme Court, but here we are. The fact that so many have gathered in response to these critical court cases should give everyone hope as we find our way forward.
  4. It is our job to stand up and yell “sin!” any time we hear someone manipulating the words of Jesus to prove their own personal beliefs, to remind the world of the greatest commandments.
  5. Since Christians are a “people of the Word,” we look to the Bible to justify our thinking. That’s essential to Christianity, although all too often we get it wrong, at least at first.
  6. The single greatest argument we can present to the world is to live out marriage in all its God-ordained fullness and beauty. Every generation has its moment: This is ours.
  7. At some point along the way, we decided it was acceptable to misquote the Bible to prove whatever we felt like. It is in this that Christians have truly missed their mark.
  8. If the constitution says ‘marriage is this,’ then people whose marriages are not consistent with the constitution … (shrug.) I’d love to think that there was another way of doing it.

[Answer key: 1) For; 2) Against; 3) Against; 4) For; 5) For; 6) Against; 7) For; 8) Against]

Alright, Washington. Bring on the romance.

Alright, Washington. Bring on the love, and the freedom, and the rights, and religion.

…whatever that means.

Incredible New Media Numbers for #Election2012

My Twitter feed was on FIRE last night. So was my Facebook. The New York Times was talking Instagram. The internet was going crazy.  Want to know just how crazy?

Ladies and gentlemen, I present the numbers:

1, 02 1, 235: The number of Twitter interactions (likes & retweets) for Obama’s “4 more years” tweet/picture

4, 309, 088: The number of Facebook interactions (likes & shares) for Obama’s “4 more years” picture

22: The % of people who told Pew Survey that they shared their voting decision online

52,000: Approximate number of instagram pictures with the hashtag #iVoted according to the news this morning

103, 798: Actual number of instagram pictures with the hashtag #iVoted by 7:30 EST November 7th

40: The number of states whose residents tweeted about Obama or Biden significantly more often than Romney/Ryan during the campaign.

7: The number of states whose residents tweeted about Romney or Ryan more often than Obama/Biden during the campaign.

71.7 million: Election-related mentions in Facebook posts and comments in the U.S. on November 6th

88.7 million: Election-related mentions in Facebook posts and comments globally on November 6th

327,000: Peak number of “tweets per minute” following Obama’s win

4, 340: The number of Twitter interactions on Obama’s “4 more years” picture since I started writing this (about half an hour ago)

4, 934: The number of Facebook interactions on Obama’s “4 more years” picture since I started writing this (about half an hour ago)


Record-breaking (and counting…)


Read More:

Election 2012 on Facebook: Chatter reaches new heights
‘The Twitter Election’: Move over Obama, social media had a big night too
Five Record-Breaking Election Moments on Twitter

(Sources: Pew Survey, CBC News, Sydney Morning Herald, Statigram, Facebook, CNET, National Post)

This Country is our Company.

Once upon a time a year ago, I wrote a “popular” blog post on my otherwise less-popular Tumblr. And by popular, of course, I mean my friends really liked it…because, you know, I’m really living the new media dream over here.

The positive reception from my friends was actually more than I could have asked for, especially in this case.  The blog post was an open letter/slap in the face aimed directly at many of these very friends, not to mention myself. Context: At the time, a couple of Facebook-mediated political debates had gotten WAY too personal.  Friendships were being literally put on hold over this. No exaggeration. The Big Picture was my attempt to cool tension with the cunning use of logic, blow-up dolls, and chimpanzee warfare. Our many nights spent eye-rolling and taking offense needed to STOP.

Those nights did stop, of course. Tones softened, people apologized, we switched to discussing Friday night exploits and well-formed opinions the latest Google doodle.  You know, current affairs.

Why does this matter now? Certainly, no one in my circle has had a bi-partisan fiesta recently.  The Big Picture, as I called it, continues to be realized in most circumstances.  Still, I started thinking very intensely about this old blog post the other day. Not in its previous context, of course–I can’t even really remember that context properly.  Rather, there was one line I wrote in there which got me thinking, a line which is actually quite disturbing in retrospect:

“And then you pull his hair and he kicks you in the balls and soon your front yard looks like the House of Commons.  Cue shitshow.”

To answer your first question: Yes, this is what I consider “rhetoric.” I would like to thank the Ontario education system.  I would also like to thank whoever taught me the term “shitshow.”

To answer you second question: The hair pulling/ball kicking thing is not the disturbing part.  I don’t think there is much actual ball-kicking action happening in the House of Commons. I consider myself an authority in these matters, you see, on account of that one time in residence when I played a weird Question Period drinking game.

…actually, I’m an authority  in these matters because in first year I logged enough hours of CPAC background noise to invent said drinking game, but that’s beside the point.

The point: Unless I am seriously missing something, I think it’s fair to say that Parliament is usually relatively free of any (literal) ball-kicking. Why, then, does my 2011 impression of the House of Commons involve directionless catfighting? It’s not a good sign that, looking to allude to a dead-end animal throwdown, I jumped to “Oh!  A shitshow! You mean like that thing that happens when we put our political representatives together in a room?”

Something is very wrong with that picture.

First of all, I will absolutely defend this impression.  It  may be really messed up that I was so quick to go there, but it wasn’t baseless. And I’m certainly not the only person to make this comparison.  In the thick of the Robocall scandal this spring, for example, an editorial in the Ottawa Sun proclaimed “If I said MPs sound like monkeys fighting over bananas I’d get letters from monkeys pointing out that at least they could see bananas.”

Harsh, but I’m just saying–I am neither the first nor last to have compared Parliament to a zoo. Credit where credit is due: In a proper debate, sometimes the claws need to come out.  That said, though, a couple of recent news stories have been showing a side of the House of Commons which comes just a littttttle too close to that monkey-brawl analogy for my liking.

Cases in point: The NDP heckled Green Party leader Elizabeth May so badly during question period that she had to sit down–and after settling the crowd, the Deputy Speaker didn’t even think to ask her to finish her interrupted point [video].  Meanwhile, the Conservatives have been wasting everyone’s time talking about how devastating a “carbon tax” would be…arguments made a just a bit less relevant by the fact that a carbon tax is not even on the table (the opposition party never even proposed it…their platform opts for cap-and-trade. Not the same thing.).

These stories may not amount to ball-kicking/hair pulling, but it’s certainly not what we hired these people to do. And the shitshow, if I may reuse the term, is coming from both sides.

I can’t suggest a solution at this very moment, per se, but I might suggest that it’s really time for us taxpayers to put our business hats on and raise the bar for these politicians, also known as our employees.

Ah, yes. That’s right.  These Members of Parliament are our employees. Specifically, they are our issues management employees.  We have a large and diverse organization to keep afloat, this “Canada,” so we have brought in issues managers that represent the ideologies, principals, and interests of all stakeholders. Members of Parliament, we call them. And we pay them.  We pay them to come together and make things work.

I’m not saying it’s an easy gig, but there are many jobs that aren’t easy. These politicians signed up to be Canada’s problem solvers.  In fact, we hired them as Canada’s problem solvers. So, yes, when we put them in a room with other problem solvers, we should have the absolute expectation that they respectfully try to actually solve problems.

(Yes, this bothers me enough to use italics three times in a paragraph. Shit just got real.)

Right now, I’m looking at what’s happening at Headquarters (aka the House of Commons) and I just want to call in Human Resources.   I want to flip the company culture. Most of all, I want everyone to know that they are on hardcore probation.  Because while our politicians are technically always on probation, it would be cool if they brought that attitude to work with them.

Example A: in a meeting, even one centered around debate and controversy, it’s probably not a good idea to shout and heckle someone down to silence while your bosses are watching.

Example B: in a meeting, even one centered around debate and controversy, it’s probably not a good idea to sit around the  table sharing hypocritical gossip about colleagues rather than discussing solutions.

Relentlessly barking at your co-workers to shut up? Not acceptable. Using blatant falsehoods to sabotage co-workers with whom you are supposed to solve critical problems? Not acceptable. Flaunting this behavior in front of your bosses?

Yeah, I’m sticking with my “zoo” analogy.

And guess what, folks? We’re the bosses. We’re watching. Would you pay an employee charged with problem solving/issues management to run around in circles trying to silence their co-workers? Or, worse, embark on a transparent campaign to get these co-workers fired?

We should be running a Canada which doesn’t accept the people on our payroll wasting time gossiping around the water cooler about how those orange guys across the hall rub them the wrong way.  We certainly shouldn’t accept them bringing that attitude into an issues management meeting.  And when our employees scream and shout at the green lady until she sits down?

She’s there for a reason. We hired her. And we hired them. This isn’t an issues manufacturing branch–this is issues management.  Let’s run it that way.