Archive for the ‘Meaning’ Category

On the Bike::Riding for a Cure!

Wednesday, 30 May 2007 Leave a comment



27 May 2007

Dear Family & Friends both near and far,


I’m excited to write to you since I’m teaming up with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society again to ride for a cure!  Last year I wrote to you and entered into an invigorating summer of fundraising and training.  And, following the success of the ride and your contributions for the Illinois Chapter of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, I have decided to join the cycle team again for another event and am doing so as a mentor for the Cycle team!  

You may recall that I rode in the Apple Cider Century last year in Three Oaks, Michigan, and I’m happy to be training for that ride which is scheduled for 30 September 2007.  I have some additional involvement this year.  Not only am I a participant, but I was also invited to be a mentor for this season!  I still fundraise and train, but I also have the opportunity to partner with a group of folks who are fundraising and training for this event.  The mentor’s job is to serve as an encourager during the efforts of fundraising and a partner with participants on training days.  So, either way, I pedal with those participants both on and off the bike!

When I wrote to you last year, I wrote a letter that mentioned why I joined the Society.  To refresh your memory [and remind myself why I’m committed to community], I rode in the memory of a patient of mine who suddenly died following her diagnosis; she had an acute onset of Lymphoma.  And, I rode for Ben who was doing his best to recover from aids-related Lymphoma.  This year I ride for both Sandra and Ben.  Sandra, the patient I mentioned above and my young friend, Ben, who died last June from aids-related Lymphoma.  And yet, I ride for some new folks, too!  I continue to be amazed at how cancer, any cancer, affects all of us!  This year it’s Brian, a colleague-friend of my spouse, who is 31 and recently diagnosed with Metastatic Testicular Cancer.  Lance Armstrong’s LiveStong is not riding in or near Chicago, so this year I ride for Brian.

Drumroll please…Let the fundraising begin!

 I hope you’ll consider giving a financial gift to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.  The bleak reality of the Chicago winter has passed and outdoor training rides have begun, but the bleak realities of cancer abides and will abide until there’s a cure.  Chicago winters and the journey of blood-related cancers still present struggle and suffering, albeit not exactly parallel. And so, while I’m out struggling to pedal 35, 50, 75 and eventually 100 miles, cancer patients are struggling on their journey down a path of fatigue and suffering with an added bonus of varying emotional responses to the reality of living with cancer alongside the poisonous chemotherapy and tiresome radiation that some patients receive! 

While we can hope and trust for this summer to be beautiful and a nice reprieve from the blustering winter, most of the cancer patients I saw as a hospital chaplain hoped for a brighter and better day; they strained and hoped for a cure—hoped for a life!  The new life of spring and the subsequent enjoyment of summer-filled activities come only after some very dark days of winter which always come at different times for all of us; and for some of us who struggle with cancer, the new life of being cancer-free is far beyond our reach. 

I speak about blood-related cancers [and cancer in general] from the perspective of a Chaplain who provided services to persons and their loved ones facing what I heard articulated as an uninviting future and a shocking and lonely present.  I also speak about blood-related cancers from the perspective of one whose family has been threatened with diagnoses of blood-related cancers and the subsequent challenging times.  I have witnessed the great need of emotional and financial support when I worked with patients in the hospital.  I only wish I was aware of the emotional and financial support that is always available through the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.  Now that I am aware, I have a responsibility to my community.  This is my attempt to contribute to the society and partner with those suffering from blood-related cancers. 

Barriers to a cancer-free life are often the disease processrs, financial accessibility and emotional support.  I want my efforts and time with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society to help diminish and finally eradicate the barriers of blood-related cancers!  I hope you will help me too!  How, you ask?  Well, while I am no longer serving as a chaplain in a hospital, my path crosses many who do and I continue to meet folks suffering from cancer, including blood-related cancers.  And so, I’m teaming up with the cycle team for an early summer century.  Will you join me in helping me meet my goal of $1,760?

Now, do you ever wonder how your financial gift helps?  I always wonder where my money goes when I send a financial gift to a charitable organization, and so I have some data for you!  Though this data is specific to the Illinois chapter, this information is nonetheless helpful.

$100:                Provides free health education for 10 patients

$500:               Provides a blood cancer patient with financial aid to support medical treatment and travel for one year

$1000:              Assists in the organization of 47 Illinois support groups and education programs for patients, and contributes to Society sponsored blood cancer research.  Donors contributing at this level are welcomed into our DeViller’s Society, named for the family who started the Society in memory of their son, Robert

$10,000:           100% of your gift will help support a cutting-edge blood cancer research project of your choice

Below is a chart to help you see where your money goes when you donate through me to the Illinois Chapter of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. 

As you can see from this chart, the money that is raised for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society goes to aid three sectors within the Society, the largest percentage supporting patient and community service.  This is what impresses me with the Society, and why I want to team up again with the Leukemia & Lymphoma’s Team in Training cycle team.  I invite you to consider with me how you can participate in the patient care of those living with blood-related cancers.  Ready to give?  You can donate online securely at my Team in Training website. 

The address is  Or, if you’re the check-writing type, you can mail your check to my house…which I’m not publishing on the internet!  Please include my full name in the memo line ensuring that your funds are listed under the appropriate participant.

Last April when I sat down to write my very first support letter to many of you for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, I recall both the excitement and challenge of raising money and training for a century.  I now find myself in that place again!  Those who supported me became beacons of hope!  It is my hope that this list of beacons will grow exponentially!  Thanks in advance for your support—financially and especially emotionally during this time of fundraising and outdoor training each Saturday!

Just Do It for a Cure!


P.S. Thanks in advance for your help, financial and otherwise!  I’m grateful for your partnership in the endeavors I pursue!  I’ll look forward to hearing from you!


Waiting for the Call

Thursday, 24 May 2007 Leave a comment

I’ve recently become interested in this group. In a recent email, the following was shared. I hope that you find the information informative and meaningful. Read on!

Church Within A Church Movement

Sharing a Must Read

Waiting for the CallFrom Preacher’s Daughter to Lesbian Mom

Jacqueline Taylor’s memoir takes readers

from the foothills of the Appalachians – and her childhood in a strict evangelical household where dancing, movies on Sunday, and even saying “gosh” or “gee” were forbidden – to contemporary Chicago, where she and her lesbian partner are raising a family. In a voice that is comic, clear-eyed, and loving, Taylor recounts the challenging and hilarious journey that carries her in profoundly different directions from those she or her parents could have ever envisioned.

Taylor’s father was a Southern Baptist preacher, and she struggled to deal with his strictures as well as her mother’s manic depressive episodes. After leaving college, Taylor finds herself questioning her faith and identity, questions that continue to mount when – after two divorces, a doctoral degree, and her first kiss with a woman – she discovers her own lesbianism and begins a most untraditional family that grows to include two adopted children from Peru.

Even as she celebrates and cherishes this new family, Taylor insists on the possibility of maintaining a loving connection to her religious roots. While she and her partner search for the best way to explain adoption to their children and help them answer the inevitable question “Which one is your mom?”, they also search for a church that will unite their love of family and their faith.

Told in the great storytelling tradition of the American South, full of deep feeling and wry humor, Waiting for the Call engagingly demonstrates how one woman bridged the gulf between faith and sexual identity without abandoning her principles.

Reverend Mel White says of Waiting for the Call;

“This deeply moving story of a lesbian Christian’s journey to

self acceptance is a rare celebration of life. I found myself alternately weeping and then laughing out loud at Jacqueline Taylor’s memoir of her staunch Souther Baptist father and clever but sometimes manic mother, of her missteps on the road to a long-lasting, committed relaitonsip, and of the wit and wisdom of her adoptive daughters.”

– Reverend Mel White

author of Religion Gone Bad: The Hidden Dangers of the Christian Right

and cofounder of Soulforce


Book Review: Waiting for the Call: From Preacher’s Daughter to Lesbian Mom

Originally published in Bay Windows, April 19, 2007.

When I first read the title of Waiting for the Call: From Preacher’s Daughter to Lesbian Mom, I expected the tale of a woman rejecting her religious upbringing and denouncing her parents as she came out. Jacqueline Taylor’s memoir is thankfully not as simple as that. It is an insightful, compassionate story about coming out, motherhood, and faith, woven into a narrative that reveals the many layers of what we mean by “family.” It is less about rejection than transformation.

The daughter of a Southern Baptist preacher, Taylor grew up often resenting the strictures placed upon her. At the same time, she admired her father’s role in the community and her mother’s quick wit, and enjoyed helping in the church. We see her inching away from her parents’ worldview, disagreeing with them at times, but never ceasing to love them.

When she insists upon going to a forbidden movie in high school, her father’s response shows that this is a story in shades of gray, not black and white. He says he won’t give her permission, but understands and respects her arguments for going. “If you do decide to go to this movie against my will,” he explains, “I will accept, even if I do not condone, your decision.”

These words echo later, when Taylor comes out after two opposite-sex marriages. After a struggle, her parents are willing to meet her halfway. “You are our daughter and our love will always be supportive of you . . . even when we disagree with what you do,” her father writes. Taylor, for her part, tells them she knows their acceptance of her doesn’t mean their views on homosexuality have changed. She knows they have come far already, and respects this.

This is more than a coming out story, however. Taylor also tells of her mother’s struggle with manic depression, and her own questioning of a God who could allow such things to happen to good people. She finds, though, that she can’t give up on the notion of a higher power. Jesus, she says “kept showing up on the side of the folks at the margin, the ones the church and society deemed unworthy.” It is this core belief that keeps her from abandoning God entirely, even when coming out puts her at odds with the tenets of her family’s religion. When she has her own children, then, she finds herself not abandoning religion but rather turning to a welcoming United Methodist church.

It is in Taylor’s description of her journey to and through motherhood that she is at her most touching, wise, and eloquent. She and her partner Carol adopt two girls from Peru in 1989 and 1990. Taylor shows us their evolution as parents, as they come to realize each child’s unique needs and learn to be “ambassadors for different kinds of families” in their community.

She conveys the many challenges of being an international adoptive family, both in dealing with others and in helping her daughters find a sense of belonging and identity. She and her partner address these issues by telling stories, real and imagined, of their daughters’ biological mothers, playing games of finding lost kittens, and finally, by making a pilgrimage back to Peru. Taylor not only reflects on the meaning of the trip for her girls, but acknowledges the losses of the biological mothers and their relatives. “We can never love one another enough to make these losses disappear,” she writes. “But I have to hope that by making room for all those loving bonds to survive and even be cherished, we make the losses more bearable.”

Her own parents never leave the narrative. We watch them become supporting, loving grandparents, despite the ongoing difference of opinion about sexuality. Bonds of love and family can trump, even if they do not resolve, all disagreements.

Taylor doesn’t paint a straight, finite line to acceptance, however. After her mother’s death, for example, her father starts dating another woman. Taylor is proud that he told his new love about his lesbian daughter, but clashes with him over his continuing insistence that he doesn’t “condone or understand” her lesbianism. He then admits his language “doesn’t accurately reflect where I am at this point in my journey.” Taylor here takes us beyond politics and platitudes and shows us all the nuances of real life.

The book’s only weakness is that it sometimes feels rushed, leaving the reader wanting more detail. When her partner goes to Peru to adopt their second daughter, her trip “was fraught with all the ups and downs and challenges that typified these adoptions,” but Taylor doesn’t elaborate further. When they look for a welcoming church for their family, “It took us awhile to find the right fit,” but she tells us none of the ins and outs of their search.

This is a fine and needed work, however. It shows that the LGBT community and the religious community do not have to be distinct or antagonistic. In fact, the subtitle is deceptive, for even as Taylor becomes a lesbian mom, she never ceases to be a preacher’s daughter. She believes in God’s call, giving herself to “a life of celebration and service” in her family and community. LGBT parents, adoptive parents of all sexualities, and anyone who has ever pondered the meaning of family or faith will find resonance and inspiration in her journey.


Waiting for the Call is published by The University of Michigan Press. Jacqueline Taylor is available for book readings or by phone for book discussions. Please contact UM Press for scheduling.The book can be ordered by phone: 800.343.4499 or on line at is $18.95 with discounts available for quantity purchases.Perfect for Sunday School or small group book discussions.
A note from a reader to Ms. Taylor:What a gift your book is to anyone who has loved and been hurt by the church, and who has had to forge a pathway to faith on their own. I have recommended it to many people in my church. I live in Massachusetts and have been a faithful Unitarian for many years.

thinking out loud: vocation, life and a myriad of other things

Tuesday, 22 May 2007 Leave a comment

While I’ve been working on getting up and running, I’ve also had some other things on my mind:

  1. the sermon I’m to preach
  2. the ongoing war
  3. my training
  4. vocation & life

Now, these don’t necessarily come in that particular order, but I sure do feel the pressure of one or several every now and again.  When I consider life at present, it seems pretty dull and bleak and unfulfiling, but I’m hopeful that recent conversations will help for me to find solace and meaning in a variety of loci.  Locus–what an interesting word.  While I pen this following consuming my lovely lunch, I’m reminded of a quote that helps me be comfortable with the now, the present, the challenging and the questionable:

we always begin as already having begun. . . “I” am always beginning or, more precisely, am always beginning again.” -Mark C. Taylor

This is my current locus…the always in motion, moving, traversing.  Preparing each week for my training, preparing for this sermon or preparing to have conversation regarding vocation and life is my attempt [my honest attempt] to always be beginning again, and again, and again, and again.  I’m convinced that this is when love is born–in that cycle [hermeneutical spiral?] of beginning.

baptistnomad dot com

Tuesday, 22 May 2007 Leave a comment

migrating…baptistnomad dot com

Friday, 18 May 2007 Leave a comment

Thanks for being a regular reader here!  To continue reading this blog, please visit where the conversation will continue!

In Memoriam of Juli Wilson Marshall: Team in Training Participant

Wednesday, 9 May 2007 Leave a comment

Many of you have heard the story of how Juli was participating in the St. Anthony’s Triathalon a couple of weekends ago and that during the swim portion, she suffered injuries that lead to her death.  She rode Tahoe’s century last year with Team in Training, and I recall meeting her.  I offer my deepest condolences to the Marshall family, extended family, friends,  my fellow TNT colleagues/athletes, and Juli’s firm colleagues. Instances such as these are never intelligible. My friend and fellow cycling sister attended the funeral; I regret that I was unable to be present.

The following was taken from Juli’s firm here in Chicago, IL:

In Memoriam of Juli Wilson Marshall (1959-2007)

It is with great sadness that we acknowledge the passing of our dear friend and colleague Juli Wilson Marshall on May 2. A partner in our Chicago office and part of the Latham family for more than two decades, Juli was 48 years old.

Categories: Life, etcetera, Meaning

locus: finding meaningful spaces [emotional & otherwise] in music

Wednesday, 9 May 2007 Leave a comment

I have been an avid listener to the Indigo Girls for many years.  I first began to listen or engage in the IG music while I lived in Texas while pursuing my first theology degree.  I must say that locus does play a role in how one engages with music, at least it did for me!  When I moved to Chicago to pursue graduate school in theological ethics at Garrett on the campus of Northwestern University, the IG’s music changed for me becoming what I could say as “much more intense” or “relevant.”  While I know those words don’t exactly capture my experience, I can say that the ways in which their music fell on my ears/entered my ears [?] was different–and different in a good way!

I found this review of their music over at MHP:  matthew’s house project giving me a greater sense of the thought process and critical awareness their music provides to listeners.  As a theologian and person believing that the Christ story is one of cultural awareness, I appreicate it when others make the honest and critical attempt to weave together theology and culture.  MHP has provided a platform and provided a real live example of this with this review of the IGs.  While I hope you enjoy this review, I also hope that you’ll consider the cultural and theological elements of their music!  The IGs talk about space, hope, and community–all of which are themes found within the Christ story.


by Zach Kincaid

I had the opportunity to recently interview Amy Rae and Emily Saliers of the Indigo Girls. Portions of that interview are interweaved below with a soft review of their album.

On the horizon they all unfold… places, spaces that we inhabit, keep, abandon, fill or empty of the ruts and rewards of community and commerce. It’s this sense of place that haunts, reprises, and redeems us in the latest offering of the Indigo Girls, “Despite our Differences.”

“Place has always been important to me,” says Amy. “It’s the flora, the fauna, the feel of the earth. I have a strong connection to the South. It’s been that way in my family for generations. I don’t like everything that’s associated with the South, and if my relation was New York City, I suppose it would be a more urban feel. But, I look for connectedness with my neighbors and my community even though we may vote and feel differently about things. Read more…