I've Landed!

Monday, December 15, 2014


I like what my pastor said recently.
He wasn't talking about me, I don't think, but what he said "fit".
"Sometimes you need to speak of where you have been, so you can appreciate where you are in order to get where you are going."

Another way of saying it is in the words of my psychologist from decades ago, "If you speak aloud of your hate, it will shrink into anger and if you speak honestly of that anger it will shrink into hurt and you will understand yourself better and be able to deal with the hurt.  The bottom line is always hurt."

It has been a good year of growth for me.       


I have spoken and now I am reconciled to the kindness that is there.

Someone said recently, "My goal is to see you reconciled."
I knew not what that meant, but now I feel it.
It is peace.

I have taken down certain posts and I ask your forgiveness if I have ever hurt you.

Merry Christmas,
                            Peace on Earth,
                                                    and Good Will To Mankind.


Monday, December 1, 2014

Just how badly do you want that pill?

re-post for the newcomers to this blog of a popular post I first posted  in October of 2012

Just how badly do you want that pill?

I am not a fan of pharmaceuticals.

I'm a nurse, I thought about becoming a pharmacist, and I really wanted to be a teacher.  These three interests have come together to make me a very informed consumer when it comes to medications, and an outspoken critic of bad and missing information given to consumers of meds......many of whom are seniors.

When I was 21, already an RN with a career, I suddenly developed thrombophlebitis in both legs.  I was sent off duty to bedrest & my excellent physician ordered the medication Butazolidin Alka for me. Within two days I was having weird attacks of chills.  Being a nurse I screamed for help immediately.  My excellent doctor came to my home and immediately stopped the new brand-name medication, drew a vial of blood from my arm and left.  It turned out I had a life-threatening side-effect of Butazoldin Alka: hemolytic anemia.  My red blood cells were rupturing.

I was one of the lucky ones.  Withdrawing the medication saved my life (though I required treatment for the anemia).  Some other consumers across the nation were not so lucky.  For some people the hemolysis of red blood cells did not stop even when the medication was withdrawn, and death ensued.

Eventually, Butazolidin Alka was taken off the market.  Remember, when I took it, it was on the market.  Thank you, Drug Company, for all those "comprehensive" test studies before you sold it to me!!!  Can't tell you how great it was being one of your unsuspecting uninformed human guinea pigs.....and paying you money for the "privilege".

The testing of medications before being "FDA approved" involves small numbers of patients.  Once the "approved" medication is released to the general public, the real testing begins.

According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, complications from prescription medication use is the 4th Leading Cause of Death in the USA.

In  2006 a report by Dr. Gary Lull revealed nearly 800,000 Americans die every year as the result of medicine made by pharmaceutical companies.
That same year, 2006, the pharmaceutical industry was listed as the  #1 most profitable industry in Fortune 500 !!!!!!!!

We teach our kids to "Just Say No To Drugs".

That is excellent advice to us, too.

It is possible to say "No, thank you," to a physician.  Especially to things like statins.  Our grandparents never took a statin and probably ate hogs for breakfast.....and most of our grandparents did not drop  dead from high cholesterol.  Yes, eventually they died, but no pharmaceutical company got rich on their fears.

Take a walk.

Consider leaving the statins alone.

Remember Baycol ( a statin by Bayor)?  In the four years it was on the market (1997 -  2001) it caused 100,000 deaths.

My excellent physician and I have an agreement:  I only accept prescriptions for generic meds.   Brand name drugs lose their patent after 12 years and become relatively cheaper generics.  By that time, hundreds of thousands of guinea-pig-people have consumed the brand name medication.....and we get a better picture of which meds need withdrawn from the market due to causing deaths, liver failure, kidney failure, deafness, blindness, psychotic break-downs, suicides.....on and on and on.  And which are safe.  And which get BLACK BOX WARNINGS.

Fen-Phen was taken off the market after 24 years,

Vioxx was taken off after 6 years.....

....heck, even Heroin used to be approved by the FDA....opps all the patients got addicted!  Let's take back our approval!........oh, let's arrest those people who peddle the stuff now that we don't approve it!

"FDA Approved" means very little.

I am not saying never take meds prescribed by an excellent physician.

I am just saying, be informed and look out for yourself.
Don't be afraid to ask for more education and explanation....or even ask for time to think about it while you bone up on it yourself before deciding yes or no.

By the way, it does not help to get a second opinion from a doc about this (unless the doc is a close and loving relative to you) .  In my experience, physicians are under the charm of the big drug companies.

Get your second opinion from your pharmacist.  Pharmacists know more about meds than docs do and are under no illusions about the FDA and the drug companies.
Docs know more about you.  Pharmacists know more about drugs.
Ask the pharmacist if there is a generic medication similar to the brand-name med ordered by your doctor.  Call your doctor's nurse and ask to have a generic med substitued and the nurse can fax the new order to the pharmacy.

Just how badly do I want that pill?

"What will happen to me if I do NOT take this pill?"
"Is there something I can do to help my health other than take this pill?"
"Is there a cheaper version or cheap relative of this pill if I must have this kind of medication?"
"If I must take it, would a lower dose be effective?"

Be captain of your ship.

"Brand name" is great in clothes, risky in medications.
Sure, if I am already dying and an experiment is needed, go ahead with the experiment of a brand new "cadillac" medication on me.
Other than that, give me the cheaper safer version about which much is already known.

Riverwatch, RN

PS       I always take my blood pressure pill....always.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

putting it into perspective and rehydration salts

Please keep this in mind when looking at "plagues":

There are 300,000,000 to 500,000,000 cases of cholera yearly.

100,000-120,000 deaths yearly are from cholera.
Deaths from cholera are generally caused by dehydration.

The World Health Organizations states that some home products can be used to treat and prevent dehydration. 


A home-made solution of one liter of plain water with table salt (one level teaspoonful) and  common sugar (three tablespoons) can be made.

     Quart of Water



The homemade solution should have the "taste of tears.
If available, supplemental zinc and potassium can be added to or given with the homemade solution.

Also, salted rice water, salted yogurt drink, and salted vegetable or chicken soup can be used.
  And a medium amount of salt can also be added to water in which cereal has been cooked, unsalted soup, green coconut water, unsweetened weak tea, and unsweetened fruit juice. 

Treatment with rehydration salts is also lifesaving in the early stages of Ebola infection.

Thanks for stopping by,
Riverwatch, RN

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Thank you for your effort

Subject: The Bagpiper

        Time is like a river. You cannot touch the water twice, because the flow that has passed will never pass again. Enjoy every moment of life.

As a bagpiper, I play many gigs. Recently I was asked by a funeral director to play at a graveside service for a homeless man.
He had no family or friends, so the service was to be at a pauper's cemetery in the Nova Scotia back country.
As I was not familiar with the backwoods, I got lost and, being a typical man, I didn't stop for directions.
I finally arrived an hour late and saw the funeral people had evidently gone as the hearse was nowhere in sight.
There were only the diggers and crew left and they were eating lunch. I felt badly and apologized to the men for being late.
I went to the side of the grave and looked down and the vault lid was already in place. I didn't know what else to do, so I started to play.The workers put down their lunches and began to gather around.
I played out my heart and soul for this man with no family and friends. I played like I've never played before for this homeless man.
And as I played "Amazing Grace", the workers began to weep. They wept, I wept, we all wept together.
When I finished, I packed up my bagpipes and started for my car. Though my head was hung low, my heart was full.
As I opened the door to my car, I heard one of the workers say, "I never seen anything like that before, and I've been putting in septic tanks for twenty years."

Apparently I am still lost......it's a man thing.              anonymous          


Thursday, October 30, 2014

Short Pieces of String

Want to be happy and at peace?  Just remember that you are doing quite well.

Life is lived by putting short pieces of string together.....and that seems to work well enough.

As Woody Allen said, , “80% of life is just showing up.” 

As my friend says, "Get up, dress up, show up."

There are rewards for living.

Thanks for your visit,

Monday, September 22, 2014


Quicksilver and the Tower

Ahh, we vain writers.
We long for permanence in the written word.
We assume permanence in the written word.
Our message will last forever and be well understood!

What a joke.

Language is as fluid as the nearest river!
Word meanings are always changing.  Languages are always intermingling.


Now add the aging brain of me to the quicksilver of language and you know I'm on a slippery slope!

And that is not the half of it.

We live in a day and age that is tongue-tying and mind-boggling!  You know.

We are building the tower to heaven again that got those ancient ones so tripped up in language that they babbled!'

I was fascinated with the Tower of Babel story as a child.
It didn't make sense to me even as a child that God would abolish a skyscraper  tower because it might actually pierce heaven !

Pictures of "the tower" show our version of their  tower.

The ancient story is that "the tower" was being constructed to reach heaven!
And before they reached their goal, the language of all people was confounded.

To truly understand the scriptures we must think the unthinkable.

Yes.  Like God is going to tremble at any manmade   skyscraper  because it might ascend the stratosphere and ....what?  Bump into some hidden dimension?  Are you serious?

Image result for images for the tower of babel

Think the unthinkable starts with un-think the thinkable.

Why do we think antiquity had no nuclears, no world class CDC, no globalists running around  trying to grap all power?

Why do we think if there is  no record, it "didn't happen"?

Why do we think we are the modern advanced age, building upon the shoulders of others who came before us, those poor unfortunate darlings?

Why does it not occur to us we are merely repeating something that was even more advanced than our scene before it was wiped to the ground?

We aren't arrogant are we?  Nah.  Not us.

Piercing the heavens.  That's what those ancient arrogant brilliant rebel people were up to!

Piercing the heavens.  That's what we are up to!
The secrets of the universe.....the "god particle".....creation of life.....eternal life......power unlimited...that is the tower the ancient arrogant brilliant rebel people were constructing.

I think we have a lot in common with them.

Historians of the ancient world have tried to come up with a picture of the "tower of Babel" and they have such a low opinion of our ancestors, they think those ancients were building a skyscraper!!!

 Look how our ancient ancestors are depicted.  Lowly workers with few machines.
Image result for images for building the tower of babel

Bricks.  They did use bricks.

We used bricks.  Lots of bricks.

Check out CERN's Hadron Collider where they search for the secrets to being all powerful.

A sideways tower built to pierce the heavens.

I cannot help but wonder if this looks anything like the ancient Tower of Babel?

I don't know how many bricks the ancients used, but some of the ancients got tired of carrying bricks!
Refused to work on the project.

Yeh.  We moderns have also experienced social opposition to the building of this brick edifice that is meant to pierce the heavens.

We moderns have already run into a few strange problems  with our collider  (sideways tower).

We explain away the unexplainable and we forge on, undaunted.

This tower is where the World Wide Web was born,

The World Wide Web which has become so important to me I think I might go insane from withdrawal should it ever be taken away!

Maybe even die from eating too many M&M's as I try to cope!

Image result for images for girl eating M&M's

But, seriously, let's think about how that World Wide Web is affecting us.
Is it possible the natural consequence of our tower is to affect our ability to speak coherently?

Think the unthinkable.

Listen to the newscasters.  Listen to the teachers.  Listen to yourself!

Are we beginning to babble?

Just yesterday during a conversation a woman said,"What bothers me is the conscientousality of it."
We all paused and looked at her.  Finally somebody said, "You mean constitutionality?"
"Yes", she said. "What did I say?"

Just recently I heard an elementary school teacher say, "Please!  Tone it down!  You are being too quiet and I won't tolerate this!"  (She was angry.)

A newscaster said the other day, "Well, that created a tempest in a tea cup!"  (errr isn't that tempest in a teapot?)

"Karen, you're on!  I mean Sharon.  Did I just call you Karen?"

We expect this from the oldies.  But from people in their prime?   I don't think this is normal.

Listen to the babble around you.  Hear the struggle to express oneself verbally.
You will hear  things like the following examples of what I have recently heard from people in their prime:
long picture ….........instead of big picture
up stairs....................instead of up front
"Thanks for your contributes...ahh, ahh, your contributings......ahh, your CONTRIBUTION!"

It's becoming a struggle folks!  This struggle is new.   It is worsening.

Have fun listening.
Or be alarmed.


Language is quicksilver and fragile.

Your visits mean a lot.  Thanks.
Grateful for language,

Friday, September 19, 2014

Earth Angel Day

Earth Angel Day

Yesterday was sort of a hellish day. 
 If you live in the Middle East, you will be appalled hearing me whine about hellish days in America!
Hey, cut me some slack!
Earth has more than one hot spot! And when your car breaks down, nay, when the engine burns up, you are possibly on a hot spot.

It was such a bad day it threw me right into the present. Completely.
No past. No future worth thinking about.
Completely in the present I was........and that is exactly where earth angels pop up.

Being stuck in the present, I became inadvertently somebody's earth angel.
I almost didn't talk to her. 
I thought about walking over to another area to sit alone, unbothered, and brood and wait.

But some power greater than I took over and I stayed and was nice.

"Helwo", she had said.

"Hi", I had responded flatly as I contemplated how to ignore her.

I notice right off something is not normal about her. Obviously she could drive, or she wouldn't be sitting in a car repair shop. But ….she seemed.............
ok, I will say it: “over-friendly”. A touch of desperation.
Being a nurse, I am not unaware of what social desperation means. People who others reject as someone to socialize with for whatever reason become desperately needy. Often that desperation means something is not-quite-normal.

Sharon is such a person.

She is alone. Well, heck, I am alone also. That doesn't mean anything.  Does it?

Like I said, a power geater than I took over and I became nice.

She gazes at me, sitting there looking well and healthy (I am a good actress) and she says, “I wused to have a wot of money. Mmmmusch wot of money! Can wu beweive I wused to own....buswess...my own bus .. bus..buswess?”

And so I begin to listen to and decipher a tale of woe that rivals the Middle East.

That is what brain aneurysms can do for you. When one ruptures. She was 42 and at a peak of success with a business she loved and a husband she adored when tragedy suddenly struck her.

Eight years. It took her eight years to get back to where she could talk well enough to converse and “be me again”.

Eight years during which she lost her business .
Eight years during which she lost her husband to another woman.
She is no longer a woman with money.
She now hates the man she once adored.

As we talk about that she comes to see that yes, she has changed, but in some good ways.
“You could not have survived all that illness, Sharon, without becoming stronger . Your husband found he was married to a stronger and different woman! That is hard on a marriage.”
She fingers the cross on a necklace and smiles.
“Yes”, she says. “I became rewigious.”

“He loved you, Sharon. But your life took a different path and now you are stronger.”

When I had to leave, Sharon tried to follow me.
That's how I know I was an angel for somebody who needed and deserved one.

Living in the present is the best way to live. 
 I should try it more often.

Thanks for your visit,

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Trending on Equality for Women

I love turning to the younger generation to see what their perspective is.

Young Person:    Polygamy now legal?   So what?  The Mormon Church won't even speak to that.  Remember, it was done to "raise up a royal people"......it served its purpose.  End of story.

Me:       But the theology says you MUST have celestial marriage to reach exaltation, and that is to include multiple wives.  Like they do out in Colorado City.

Young Person:      Well, this is not a trending issue and won't become one.  Who cares?  No man wants more that one wife, not even Mormon men.  One is more than enough.
The big issue on social media trending now is Ordain Women....actually Ordain Women is bogged down into how women are treated in the Mormon Church.  Period.  "Ordain" is the lynchpin for huge conversations but the real trending issue is the lower status of females in the Mormon Church.  Not allowing equality in multiple ways. Real issues on old men criticizing young women and telling women how to behave and still trying to make women responsible for the sexual behavior of men.
These are trending issues for women and their daughters.

Me:   In other words, Ordain is light years further up the ladder from the rung of women's place being set forth and maintained by men?

Young Person:       Well, I can just tell you what Mormon women are posting about on social media.  Most are quite unhappy and they are also unhappy with the Mormon women who support the church position like female robots.   Here, read these comments.

These are progressive issues that are not going to go away.

Me:  Well, sounds like the women don't want to be ordained to a priesthood that puts them down.

Young Person:  Women expect to be invited to the table, every table.


Loving you for dropping by,

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Unfettered Faith & the Reformation

Well, I am old and still trying to figure life out.

I love what my daughter once told me when she was a teenager.  "Mom, it scares me to think about life."
"Really?  Why?"
"Because life is so strange it blows my mind away and the only thing stranger than life is no life.  I don't like to think about these things!"

Well, that's one reason we all keep busy.

I have lately busied myself reading on-line from a couple of volumes  of "History of the Reformation of the Sixteenth Century"
by d Aubigne'.
                                    Image result for images of old bookscommons.wikimedia.org

It was published in 1845 and that was the main reason I wanted to read it.....or should I say read at it.
Old books fascinate me as I think of the long-departed author and the world of yesteryear.

I did find some interesting thoughts embedded in the work and so I share the following about full liberty of faith, but paraphrased:

Unity in diversity and diversity in unity, is a law of nature as well as of the Church.

We are about to contemplate the diversities, or, as they have been called, the variations of the Reformation. 
These diversities are one of its most essential characteristics.
Truth is like the light of the sun: it descends from heaven one and ever the same; and yet it assumes different colours upon earth, according to the objects on which it falls.

How dull would creation be if this boundless variety of forms and colours, which gives it beauty, were replaced by an absolute uniformity!
Image result for images of natureimagico.com

But how melancholy also would be its appearance, if all created beings did not form a magnificent unity!
Divine unity has its rights, so also has human diversity.

In religion we must suppress neither God nor man.

If you have not unity, your religion is not of God; if you have not diversity, the religion is not of man; but it ought to be of both.

Would you erase from creation one of the laws that God himself has imposed on it,—that of infinite diversity?

Well, that is what this history said.

Thanks for sharing this moment with me, 

Thursday, August 14, 2014


"Alive Inside"   is an award winning documentary on the power of music to reach inside to reach the person struggling with dementia.

Here is the trailer.


I plan to see the entire documentary.  I guess I need a good cry.

Thanks for your visit,

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Needle in a Haystack

As a senior,
as a "girl" who is bored with electronics,
and as a motherly figure dismayed with  the foracious appetite for more electronics by the rising generations, it is easy for me to drift left or right of center and say,
 "This world is going to hell in a technological handbasket!"

What makes me think it is hell?

It might be heaven.

This little 3 minute video has pulled me back towards center.  I hope you enjoy it.    


Thanks for taking time with me,

Monday, July 7, 2014

A Lot of Faith

Anne Lamott speaks:

I have a lot of faith.

But I am also afraid a lot, and have no real certainty about anything.

I remembered something Father Tom had told me--that the opposite of faith is not doubt, but certainty.

Certainty is missing the point entirely.

Faith includes noticing the mess, the emptiness and discomfort, and letting it be there until some light returns.” 

Anne Lamott from Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith

   Of course my favorite book by Anne is "Bird by Bird" , a must read for every unhappy writer.

I appreciate that you stopped by,

Wednesday, July 2, 2014


From my daughter in SLC, Utah,
a copy of her Pastor's sermon

Equals In Partnership With God”

A sermon delivered by the Rev. Scott Dalgarno on June 29, 2014
Wasatch Presbyterian Church     SLC, Utah
based on 1 Cor. 12:12-27

"I want to talk about Kate Kelly this morning.
 I’m gambling on the fact that you all know who
 Kate Kelly is -- the woman who founded 
a Mormon organization called, Ordain Women.
I want to discuss her this morning because whether we are Mormon, 
or former Mormon, 
or not Mormon at all, her case is of importance to us. 
And for several reasons.

Because we live in Utah, 
and because her case brings up matters that are of critical importance 
to every one of us -- 
matters having to do with men and women and how we work together, 
and also because it brings up questions about how change happens in the world. 
How God uses change agents.

So, what do you think of Kate? 
Do you think she’s a radical; maybe a little too aggressive; maybe someone who is well meaning but whose tactics are counter-productive? Those are questions Doug Fabrizio asked her this last week on Radio West.

Or maybe you think she isn’t radical enough. 
Maybe you think she is too polite to the powers that be in her church. This how this often breaks down in the media.

It’s been interesting to me to see how differently many women understand her.
If you are paying attention you’re doubtless seen how the whole question of women’s ordination is already changing, as people are exchanging ideas about it – on Radio West, in the Salt Lake Tribune, and even more, on the blogosphere.

I’ve been especially interested to see how some women who initially found Ordain Women’s march to the tabernacle during the recent Conference meeting to be aggressive and ill conceived, now think that her chastisement, handed down by a Mormon bishop via a judgment of nothing less than excommunication, to be shocking; so shocking as to cause some women to feel they have to reconsider most everything they think about things church.

Now the ones I’m thinking of are most often mothers; mothers of girls. They are the ones who initially found themselves on the fence when this started up and who now are expressing some doubts about that position.

I am talking about mothers who have been teaching their daughters to think for themselves. Mothers who are doing their best to teach their daughters not to base their self-concept on what a boy (or a man) thinks of them.

They see wonderful sparks of life in their girls and they don’t want to see them diminished. And so they are watching their girls watch what is happening with Kate Kelly and other women who believe that full membership in their church should come with equal opportunity to lead; full opportunity to take the hand of a hurting sister and pray on her behalf when feeling that impulse, instead of having to round up a man to do it who doesn’t know either of them all that well.

One moderate Mormon woman who was shocked at the use of what she called “the nuclear option” (excommunication) said the following –

"Do we want the same narrative as in 1970s and 1990s… … conflict, confrontation and martyrdom? Is that one we want to pass on to our daughters?"
One Idaho mom said she had tried to raise feminist issues quietly, politely and behind-the-scenes for years, but it wasn’t until Ordain Women began their activism that LDS leaders began to pay any attention.
"I’m not sure at what point a larger conversation in the church would have taken place if Ordain Womenhad not decided it wouldn’t be so polite," she said. "They have opened up a space for discussion."
One very articulate young female critic of Kate Kelly spoke up in a blog that is being forwarded a lot this week. She said that Kate isn’t just asking questions. She is advocating a teaching. The organization’s name, Ordain Women,” says it all.

In response to such criticism, Kate Kelly has said,The name is NOT, Ordain Women NOW.” Just Ordain Women."

Interesting, is it not? One person’s radical is another person’s moderate. I find that fact as fascinating as anything in this discussion. I mean, how do you think Kate will be judged in ten or twenty years? These things are relative.

I’m just old enough to remember that when Martin Luther King Jr. came on the scene, he was considered quite the radical, especially by white clergy; clergy who found Dr. King to be too aggressive, too pushy. Impatient. One of the great documents in all of American letters is his answer to those critical clergymen in his letter from the Birmingham jail.

But, as persuasive as his answer to them in that letter, what truly turned the tide was the late arrival in the movement of a man who called himself, Malcolm X.
 Malcolm X came along with his wild sarcasm and eloquent stridency and in one swoop he made Dr. King sound like the mildest, most reasonable moderate by comparison.

Is Kate Kelly a radical? 
Well, some have said no. She marched on the Tabernacle, yes, but she didn’t ordain women herself, or anything like that. She didn’t claim that Mormon women already have the priesthood. Kate has never said that this is about her. She has, in fact, said quite the opposite.

You know, no matter how this plays out, it’s healthy to note that it almost always takes more than one individual to bring about change. 
Moses was called to begin the deliverance of the Hebrew people, 
but it was Joshua who got them to the land of the promise.

Neil Armstrong was the first man to walk on the moon,
but when Tom Wolfe wrote the story of pioneering efforts in American space travel in his book, The Right Stuff,” he reminded us all that it was Chuck Yeager, the test pilot with ice in his veins, who maybe had the best “stuff” of all.

Jesus made a fuss in the temple, overturning the tables of the moneychangers which probably got him killed, and then the mild mannered apostle Paul came along and made the whole Christian thing work.

So, as I said, we don’t know how this will play out for our LDS sisters. There certainly is no timetable for it. We only know change will have to come from the top; probably by “revelation,” as racial change came to the Later Day Church in the 1980s.

Here’s a note on that kind of thing. Many of you know that I lived for a short time in Rome, Italy in the 1970s. Pope Paul Vi was on the throne of St. Peter at the time. I remember asking a Vatican insider I knew about him at that time. She said, “Pope Paul wants to die.” I said, “Why?” She said, “Well, he knows change has to happen for the Catholic Church to thrive and he knows he is not the one to make the kind of change. His theology and understanding of the church is just what it is and he can’t do otherwise.” He didn’t feel, like Pope Benedict, that he could just retire, and get out of the way of people who had a different line on God.

Another line on God. One moderate Mormon feminist, Rosalynde Welch from St. Louis, said that Kate Kelly’s approach was “too activist” for her taste, but she was also deeply disturbed by her excommunication. She said that she had hoped for “a third way,” a decision by the LDS leadership that would have opened the discussion instead of a decision meant to close it down.

I was impressed with that statement. Let me tell you about something that happened when I became pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Ashland, Oregon.

I began my work at that church on Labor Day in 1994. Just two years before that the church had had a major kerfuffle over an Oregon ballot measure. A very conservative political action committee had put a measure on the ballot restricting the legal rights of gay people. It was eventually defeated but not before the Session of the First Presbyterian Church, by a divided vote, had come out against the measure.
A number of people in the church said they didn’t mind that people on the church board were against the measure, they just didn’t like the Board taking a stand against such a measure because by doing that it was acting as if the whole church was against it, and that wasn’t true. For those who spoke out, this was a matter of principle.

By the time I became pastor of that church two years later, an almost identical measure was on the Oregon ballot, and at my first Session meeting, the clerk of the Session made a motion that the Session go on record again the measure just like before.

Well, I knew what had happened before, and what it had cost the church, and I knew this was the first test of my leadership, right out of the box, so I asked that the motion be tabled and asked further that a subcommittee be assembled to study what our reformed tradition had to say about the relationship of religion and politics. I proposed that that group bring a recommendation to our next meeting concerning the measure.

Well, we met several times. I spoke about the critical value of the individual conscience for Reformed Christians and I suggested that instead of taking a stand that would have no effect at all on the vote, that instead, we take out a half page ad in the local newspaper and invite any members of the church to ante up $2 each and have their names attached to the ad under the heading, “Presbyterians Against Ballot Measure 9.” We could run it for four days. The Session thought that an appropriate “third way,” to use Rosalynde Welch’s phrase, and it was passed unanimously in place of the previous measure.

Well, an interesting thing happened that none of us could have predicted. Word got out quickly about our plan and pretty soon we had a mess of Methodists, and then a few Catholics, and then some Lutherans, and then some UCC people, and then some Jews, and we quickly doubled the size of our ad. And we had to change the title from “Presbyterians Against Measure 9,” to “People of Faith Against Measure 9.”

It took up a whole page. I was sorry Presbyterians couldn’t get full credit for the idea, but the ad was so much more impressive and effective that I quickly got over that.

You know, when Presbyterians take an oath to become an elder, or a deacon, or a minister in this denomination, one of our vows asks us if we are willing to serve with “energy, intelligence, imagination, and love.” 
I am so glad that word, imagination, is in there. Because that is what we need in order to find that third way.

Too often votes are taken in churches and what happens? 51% of the leaders defeat 49%. Or maybe 55% defeat the other 45%. And the winning group thinks, triumphantly, “Gotcha!” I’ve seen that, not a lot, but sometimes, and it is painful. It underwhelms me every time and makes me think it’s just not Christian.

With a little imagination, it might have been so different. I’m pleased to say that I have never seen the Session of this church behave that way. Not once. But it’s not because we haven’t had to deal with some hot button issues. We have, but we have worked together on them, and I know that in two particularly divisive issues, we have come to something close to a consensus that none of us, coming in, thought possible. Now that takes work, and prayer, and being willing to let something sit on the table until we come up with better answers, but it’s almost always possible.

You know, I wish I could tell you that Presbyterians were the first Protestants to ordain women, but we weren’t. 
No, that honor goes to the Quakers.

A founding principle for them has always been the belief that an element of God’s spirit exists in every soul, and therefore, all persons are equally liable to speak the capital T Truth when it needs to be said. Way back in 1660, a Quaker woman named Margaret Fell, wrote a pamphlet justifying equal roles for men and women in the church in which she pointed out that it was women who first witnessed to the resurrection of Jesus and first attested orally to his victory over death.

Presbyterians first ordained women to be ruling elders in the church in 1930, but few were elected to that position until the 1950s.

The first woman I could identify as ordained to the Presbyterian ministry was a woman named Margaret Towner. She was actually a reluctant candidate for ministry, at first. She spoke of herself as merely a helper kind of clergy person; a Christian educator who wore a robe to worship. She carved out a second tier kind of ordination at first. In time she realized she had done herself and other women who aspired to ordination, a disservice.

By the time of her retirement, though, she spoke with real fire about her own calling. Yes, and she was the first pastor to speak out about what we call today, a stain-glass ceiling in the church -- the fact that while more than half the students in our seminaries are women, almost all the tall-steeple churches are served by male pastors. Here is a little of what she said back in 1980.

We have come a long way, but I still sense a falling backward. It is my vision that someday we will realize full equality as human beings called by God to the ministry of Word and Sacrament based upon our talent and ability, regardless of what gender one happens to be. . . . Let us remember that God created human beings, male and female with distinction, to be equal in partnership with God
in creating a world of peace and love. We are called to free the oppressed, feed the hungry, bring water to the thirsty, clothe the naked, heal the sick and proclaim the day has come when God has saved the people. But until we all see ourselves as those imperfect human beings who are weak and in need of forgiveness, we still will set ourselves up as the programmers of God’s agenda and we will experience discrimination against women, minorities, and age. Let’s get on with being the Whole People of God.
That same year I was attending a pretty conservative Presbyterian Church in Berkeley California. I went there because the pastor, Earl Palmer, was such a terrific preacher and teacher. I remember one thing he said, word for word, in one sermon – it was about the ordination of women. He said, Beware of any institution that, by its precepts, effectively silences half of it’s adherents.”
This is a difficult word for me to deliver. I know that a number of you have at least one foot in the Mormon church, if not both. Or you have family or other loved ones who are there. This is a tender issue that brings up all kinds of emotions and I have done enough research to know there aren’t just two sides, or three or four to this issue. There are dozens, I would guess.

My feeling is simply that being part of a family of faith that honors the individual conscience the way we Presbyterian Christians do, means we talk about these things. We hear one another out. We explore everything around it. We seek out other voices. We do anything but silence one another.

I will tell you one thing – today is a brand new day in the ward houses in this city and all over the world. When women get up to speak there today they are being seen with new eyes and they are speaking with new tongues, whether they know it or not.
So, in closing this out, I want to speak as respectfully of Mormonism as I would of any other faith, but here is what I would say to Kate Kelly and any other person in her faith that has endured what she has just endured –

No man can take away your baptism. No man can take away your God given calling. No man. God long ago claimed you as God’s own, and no one else can get in the way of that. Not now. Not ever.

all emphasis is mine