Thanks for returning for the continuing adventures of my working through the list of campaign questions for ADF's 2018 elections. After today, with the questions thus far, we'll be 3/4 done. Again, I'm grateful for your diligence, and commitment to finding the best candidate for ADF.
Today's batch of questions:
How will you encourage ways of making ADF accessible to children (with parental consent, of course)?
I've only recently come by my stepchildren (all teens, only one living with Rev. Missy and me), and prior to that, my only connections with children came through my time teaching martial arts (Aikido & HapKiDo) in Louisiana and California, as well as through Orange County Outdoor Science School (5th-6th graders - CA). Pretty structured, and pretty disciplined... and I wasn't the one coming up with those structures and discipline practices. I was simply participating in, and enforcing the boundaries of those systems.
That being said, when it comes to ADF's level of children's accessible religious programming, I can encourage ADF parents to connect with the professional educators in ADF, and work with them to create a proposal that I can bring to the Mother Grove as the advocate for our members who are parents of children who need religious programming.
The solution needs to be built by the folks with that need, and given support by the rest of us. I'd be first among that number of supporters.
How do you view environmental issues within the context of ADF? What, if any, goals do you have to change the current actions or lack of actions currently present within ADF?
Whew... ya know... sometimes I wish folks didn't ask me certain questions, because my answers to those questions come with a lot of passion and intense opinions. I guess I have that wish because I'm always fearful of how folks will interpret my passion-Fire around these topics. It's raw and sincere... and it's how I really feel.
I'll try to sum up my thoughts on this: Earth Religion + "Waters of Life" as sacrament - any direct engagement or outcry during NoDAPL = Hypocrisy. Planting Trees (trees = druidy thing) + Flint, MI - water for HUMAN BEINGS = No Water for Trees = Focusing on the wrong thing = lost in our own Cosmos.
If EarthMother is part of our core liturgy, and we claim our relationship with her as sacred, then I will be Her voice as best I can. She is at every one of our rites, and gives so much to us. I consider her to be a sacred member of our organization. Like Her, I would have no vote on the Mother Grove, and also like Her, I have a mighty voice. May mine help us achieve engaged Excellence in our relationship with Her.
How do you view the role of solitary members within ADF and how do you anticipate that role will change over the course of your proposed term?
The roles solitaries play now seem to be both a cameo as the biggest single category of our membership, and a main role as our biggest blindspot; an under-utilized resource and an under-explored ministry. In a one-year term, with no vote on the Mother Grove, I'm not sure how much I would be able to "do" in regards to their role(s); however, I could work with some of the regional representatives and the solitaries in their respective areas to help build a stronger, collective, "solitary" voice.
How would you look to heal divisions in the organization, bring the organization to a sense of more inclusive wholeness and create a positive vision for all members regardless of whether they are clergy, dedicants, solitaries, old-timers, newcomers, etc. Do you feel that all members are equal?
As Members' Advocate, I'd be in a position to work with the underserved and marginalized among us, standing as their representative and advocate. The divisions that exist between the folks in the center and those pushed to the margins cannot be healed without having a shared truth. Only then can there be reconciliation. Healing comes from the person who did the breaking doing the work, not the broken person "getting over it" for the sake of healing divisions. For the health of the membership and organization, I'd advocate for seeking outside help from applicable professionals. ADF needs a cultural change around what divisiveness is, how it arises, and what we can do about it... and for as smart as we are, we're better served by allowing a third party to help us heal. I believe we're in a place where we aren't able to hear one another... and it's a lonely place for us all. We need help.
Now, do I feel all members are equal? No (for the weighted voting alone, but there's more...)
There's a lot of great words about inclusivity and equality and balance on our website and promotional material, but as we invest more and grow deeper in the organization, we discover there are unspoken standards for privileging seniority in the group, or ADF academic accomplishments in the study programs, or clergy status, or the level of clergy status, or initiate status, or dedicant status, or how any and all of these factors add up to hold power OVER instead of sharing power WITH.
It's assumed that our accomplishments will command respect, but that's not where respect is born. That's where the the not-enoughness is born. I don't have enough *whatevers* to feel like I'm of worth, OR that person doesn't have enough *whatevers* to be taken seriously.
This sounds like the government officials victim-shaming the kids protesting the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School by saying "they're just kids, and had to have coaching from others." Dig it... kids are freakin' smart, and are pretty much guaranteed to see solutions that our older minds can't imagine.
So, no... as things are now, all members are not equal.
How would you ensure fair treatment of members regardless of ethnicity, nationality, gender identity, sexuality, or immigration status? Or ability or class. Or age.
Ensure fairness in the face of the -ISMs (ageism, sexism, racism, nationalism, ableism, etc)? No one can ensure that; however, I can advocate for putting people and boundaries in place, for setting clear expectations of behavior, and for enforcing those rules without making excuses, gaslighting, victim-blaming/shaming, and further harm.
If I can't achieve that, I'd counsel the member to stay and keep fighting the fight with me, or that this isn't a safe-place for all ethnicities, nationalities, gender identities, abilities, classes, or ages... or whatever the case may be, and encourage they make the healthiest decision for them.
How would you work to make ADF as respected and legitimate as any other church in the USA, and the world?
By raising awareness and advocating for all the changes and upgrades mentioned in this, the previous 2 posts, and any forthcoming posts. Like noted earlier, the MA doesn't really have any structural power, but I can be a pretty convincing advocate.
Just gonna be honest and say that, in my opinion as a full time priest and religious studies scholar, the UUs have a GREAT system for bringing together diverse, different, and independent people and their beliefs... while STILL having meaning and value... and legitimacy... and respect.
They'd be a great model from which to receive Inspiration's gifts.
In real actions, how would you, if elected, improve on the great job the MG has been doing?
I'd like to offer the folks who want an answer to this particular question the opportunity to go to Part 1 and reread what I've written so far. If you still don't have an answer to this question, please ask follow up questions through the comments or privately, if you'd prefer. In any case, if you have follow up questions, I'd like to add them to the end of the ongoing questions list.
Tomorrow, Part 4