Standing on the Side of Love

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Garth Ogzewalla 

Eighteen years ago,  my wife and I, along with our 6 daughters, moved to a new ward in Sugar Land, Texas.  Garth was a member of the congregation.  I met him, but didn’t really get to know him.  He left the Mormon church soon after we arrived.

Almost 20 years passed before we were to reconnect.  It happened through the Talkeria.  No longer are we just acquaintances.  I consider him a close and valued friend.

Last week he gave a talk at a special ‘vespers’ service sponsored by the church he now attends.  The theme was “Standing on the Side of Love.”  He kindly sent me a copy.

Every reading has brought tears to my eyes.  My sweetheart’s evaluation: “That is so beautiful.  We need to share it with all the kids.”  So, kids…I hope you read and enjoy.

More Kin than Stranger-by Garth Ogzewalla

It was a prayer vigil after the Pulse nightclub shooting… Mormons showing support to the LGBTQ community. (You may be surprised, but so it was.) Would I like to come?, Sam asked. “Of course I would”… but *then* he asked “would you like to *say* something?”

Now I should have known he was just being polite.  Everybody who came was given a chance to share feelings, if they wished. But I thought he was asking more.  I thought he was asking for a talk, a homily.  So I fretted over it.  What could I say?  Here I am, a straight, atheist, apostate, no immediate family (that I know of) who is gay.  Surely a theist could give a better prayer!  Surely an LDS church member could address recent church actions more convincingly. Surely someone with gay family members could speak more movingly of their pain or how to find comfort.

Then I thought, “NO”!  What is more appropriate, more timely, more helpful than an outsider showing solidarity.  Isn’t that what we need to mortar the cracks and fissures that appear between us?   If I only worry about and support those who are just like me those cracks widen to canyons.  If I only care for my own, what merit is there? (Oh, there is some to be sure. Loyalty and faithfulness to community, family and even self does have value.  But if we feel and care for those who are NOT our own how much more commendable is that?

That is why I need to worry about your civil rights.  Why this male needs to respect women and women’s rights, this citizen needs to welcome the immigrant, this white man needs to stand with a “black lives matter” sign, why I (blessed, educated, wealthy) need to safeguard the minimum wage worker, and this free man needs to be mindful of the prisoner.  Indeed, why this cisgendered atheist needs to bow in prayer with the LGBTQ.

In truth, we are all in this prayer circle together.  What’s more, we are not only in the same circle, we are more kin than stranger.  This is the great paradox.  The paradox that belies all I have said and turns it on its head as moot.  For when I support your rights, no matter how different you seem at first, I am actually supporting the rights of my own community.  Despite how foreign you first feel, on closer inspection, we are of the same family. You are my brother, my sister.  I am your child, and you are mine.  We are one.

May it be so, Amen

5 thoughts on “Standing on the Side of Love

  1. Sounds great, but…. I stand with the real equal love of Christ. Dr. Martin Luther King reflected that so well. His style would have never varied from, “ALL lives Matter,” and “equal rights for both men and women,” rather than just equal rights for women which has led to women ironically becoming “MORE Equal” than men, lest the media and “religion” have blinded us from this fact = http://www.realsexism.com

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The patriarchy (including connected with religion) hasn’t served women or men. It induced the same rape culture that says women are responsible for men’s actions, and men are animals who can’t control themselves. And many other issues that affect everyone.

      That doesn’t discount the fact that women, minority races, and people with diverse sexual orientations and gender identities have been tragically oppressed and can be discussed and supported individually. Those in power were predominantly white males, and there will be some course correction required as we evolve and fix the system and collective culture.

      For example, in addition to mainstream feminism being about equality for all, as more men are embracing their fatherhood amazingly, and the previous gender roles established by the patriarchy are shattered, we’ll see more men given custody of their children when appropriate, as opposed to simply favoring the women due to those roles.

      This happens as we all break out of patriarchy and stand for each other, both in the movements as mentioned here and in broader movements. We’re getting there. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

      1. “We’re getting there.” Yes, we are.

        “Stand for each other.” Yes, we must. A beautiful concept that sometimes we don’t grasp. Instead, the cracks & fissures grow into walls. Fortunately, during my lifetime, I have seen several walls of division come tumbling down. And many divides mortared over.

        Great progress is being made in our social fabric. More are coming.

        Thanks, my friend, for your comment.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Tom,
    I’m glad you brought in Martin Luther King. This country was so blessed by his leadership during the fight for civil rights. Otherwise, things could have easily gotten very ugly.

    Boy, do we ever need more men like him!

    Liked by 1 person

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