When the Supreme Court handed down its recent decisions supporting the cause of same-sex marriage, I was watching the proceedings unfold on the news at my summer ministry site alongside a room full of the guests we served. The mood was entirely subdued. Most murmured sentiments of ambivalent support: “Why not?” “To each his own, after all.” “It was only a matter of time.” One older gentleman was the exception. A working class Italian-American, he brought his usual brio in expressing his disapproval: “This is just horrible. It isn’t right, I tell you—it’s just disgusting!” His statement was all the more memorable for the fact that he was wearing a bright pink t-shirt with “Support LGBTQQA Rights” emblazoned across the front.
When he arrived at the hill, he knew that he did not need to go any further.
This resolve seemed out of place, given that he would be facing a force about twice as large as his own. Furthermore, he was far from home. Although the campaign was one of invasion (or, for him, reclamation), his strategy for this battle would be a defensive one.
“Come on, Pastor, it’s time to go home.”
“Mm Hmm. Alright, that’s good. I’m doin’ just fine here.”
One of the daily rituals from my ministry this summer was the repeated struggle to convince the former Protestant pastor to get up out of his chair. Sometimes it wouldn’t be too bad, and he would get right up and follow us to join the rest of the clients of the adult day center for lunch or activities or to catch his bus home. On other days, though, he was an immovable object: none of the usual tricks, such as mentioning his family, would work. The staff would go so far as to ask him to “preach the good word” and sing gospel revival songs to stir him, but sometimes to no effect.
For two frightful years in college, I was involved in student government. The Student Government Association, as it was called, usually debated issues of little import to outsiders. Each spring, however, the meeting room was packed as the organization debated the budgets for the student groups that received their primary funding from student fees. Cheapskate SGA members would question every nickel allocated in the proposed budgets.
It’s become common, in recent months, for politicians to justify a shift towards supporting the redefinition of marriage by saying that their position on marriage has “evolved.” The problem, though, is that marriage hasn’t evolved—rather, our understanding has devolved.
The other day, I was strolling along an oceanside bluff. It was a bright and clear day, warm but breezy. Far below, I could hear the surf striking against the cliff. It seemed that things could not get much better. But then I ran into a wedding reception.
In recent months, I have had occasion while driving to listen to tunes en route. The bluegrass station is something of a mainstay but, unfortunately, doesn’t come through with the strongest signal. Thus, while straying beyond the Beltway, I go in search of substitutes.
Walking the streets of Lower Manhattan with the Missionaries of Charity is not on the top ten list of activities for tourists, but this is how I have been blessed to experience the city in my summer ministry assignment. As we walk, we certainly can see the smartphones, the advertisements, and the tourists taking photos. The sisters, however, have their eyes on a building that no one is taking photos of. They enter the door that everyone else walks past: that of a run-down building that some of the poorest of the poor in Manhattan call home. The scents and visual stimuli from the flashy stores cease, and repulsive sights and smells begin as you enter and start distributing food to the residents.
Near the foot of the Hollywood Hills, in the shadow of the iconic white towering Hollywood sign, quietly sits the Monastery of the Angels, a community of Dominican nuns. In 1924, only a decade after the first movie studios began producing films in Hollywood, Our Lady of the Angels Monastery was founded by a group of sisters sent from the first American perpetual adoration monastery, St. Dominic’s in Newark, New Jersey.
Work began in mid-2011, and the total cost came to $200 million. No, it’s not a new, state-of-the-art hospital; it’s this year’s summer zombie apocalypse movie. And two hours from now, you may remember that you resolved to spend more time at the beach this summer, and that your sunny days are numbered.