I’ve decided to answer all the personal questions–here goes!
Question: “When will you be ready to learn about Oregon’s Death with Dignity law and all the checks and balances required of a terminally ill, cognitively intact individual to make decisions for themselves at the end of their life?”
Answer: This is a “when will you stop beating your wife?” question. The questioner seems miffed because I brought up some ethical concerns about the Death with Dignity movement in my previous e-news blog (8/21). I am quite familiar with Oregon laws in this arena. Moreover, I have had congregants who have made the choice to take their own lives through self-deliverance, and I have supported them totally. And I have concerns. It is my job as a minister to raise such concerns. Others need not agree, but this is a significant subject matter that should be discussed freely and openly. All opinions should be aired and considered.
Question: “Which writers and theologians and philosophers are personally most inspiring to you, both now and in you past spiritual development?”
Answer: This answer could fill a book, so let me limit it to three. The theologian would be Paul Tillich; the philospher would be John Dewey; the writer would be William Shakespeare.
Question: “Beatles or Elvis?”
Answer: Elvis is the king.
Question: “They say that every minister has one key sermon theme–name yours.”
Answer: Redemption: that is, we can take whatever experience comes to us and “buy back” or redeem the good from it.
Question: “Have you (and how) ever trul felt the presence of a ‘greater power’ in your life?”
Answer: I do not feel what some people call the presence of God (a comforting or peaceful presence) when I pray. I have, however, occasionally had moments when I felt that I was a part of all that exists, and that all was as it should be–a time of perfect peace and harmony. And I have had two or three mystical experiences in which I felt so strongly led to go somewhere or to do something that I could not refuse.
Question: “What is your favorite hymn, and what meaning does it hold for you?”
Answer: “Amazing Grace”: “Through many dangers, toils, and snares, I have already come; ’tis grace that brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home.”
Question: “How has growing up in the Catholic and Southern Baptist traditions influenced you as a Unitarian Universalist minister?”
Answer: As a Catholic, I learned about beauty and sensuality in worship; I learned discipline in Catholic school; I learned that some people cared enough about their faith to give their lives in service (nuns and priests), givng up a personal, intimate life; I learned about beautiful Jesus and his message of sacrificial love.
As a Southern Baptist, I learned to put the Word at the center of the worship service; I learned about passion and full-bodied preaching; I learned to sing the old traditional hymns; I learned about church structure and leadership, though ours differs greatly from those early patterns. A lot about Jesus again. I’m very high on Jesus.
From both, l learned that women couldn’t be spiritual leaders. I had to unlearn that lesson in the Unitarian Universalist church, and because I was able to do so, I will be forever grateful.
Question: “Why can’t we be friends?”
Answer: We can’t be friends so long as you are my congregant, for the same reason that you can’t be friends with your doctor or your psychotherapist. A friendship implies a peer relationship and an equal sharing of thoughts and feelings. I am a professional, and my job is to be there for you as a minister. That role prevents me from sharing as I would with a friend, for that would put an untenable burden on you as a congregant, and you would in effect lose your minister.
Question: “What’s it all about, Marilyn?”
Answer: It’s all about love.