Each of us is on a life journey. We often have a clear destination and a roadmap, yet we set out and our lives unfold as they unfold. We become who we are as we become who we are. Here are the more public aspects of who I am now.
I am an ordained Baptist minister.
When I was ordained, the officiating minister, David B. Freeman at Weatherly Heights Baptist Church, said that my path would be “akin to that of a Hebrew prophet”. I was to observe people “in their communities, listen to the cries of the least among them, then speak the word of the Lord to them”.
Since my ordination, I have carried out this charge in various ways: by writing op-eds, essays, and articles, making a migrant justice film called The Second Cooler (narrated by Martin Sheen), preaching, and conducting weddings and funerals for people who had no other pastor.
Although the focus of my ministry has been to call for justice for illegal immigrants, guest workers, and, to a lesser extent, domestic labor, I also am an LGBTQ ally. Typically, I have addressed gender and sexual orientation issues as they intersect with illegal immigration issues.
I am a liberation theologian.
My major theological influences have come from Latin America via what is called “liberation theology”.
Liberation theology has to do with reading the Bible through the lens of oppressed peoples. By the same token it implies reading or analyzing oppressed peoples through the lens of the Bible. Primarily the emphasis is on structural oppression and includes such things as oppressive economic policies and military dictatorships.
Liberation theology involves what is called praxis: observing, analyzing, acting, reflecting. The emphasis is on action with an orientation to justice rather than charity.
Nicaragua’s Ernesto Cardenal, about whom I’ve published a few essays, has influenced my thinking and what I produce more than any other. One of my treasures is a poster featuring his image which he signed for me. If you’re interested in exploring his work, “Prayer for Marilyn Monroe” is a good place to begin.
I am an immigrant advocate.
The word “immigrant” is a misnomer since the people I advocate for are not immigrants. People coming to the US seeking citizenship are immigrants. The people I advocate for are really displaced persons. The majority are displaced by economic policies. They include both illegal immigrants and “guest workers” who come legally with a visa. Others have been displaced by natural disasters, homophobia, and gang violence. Quite often there can be overlapping “push” factors which force people from their homes.
I am a film maker.
Well, that is if you can accept that a woman who has made a single film is a film maker, then I’m a film maker. To date, I have made only one, The Second Cooler. It is a feature (meaning full-length) documentary and has appeared in 8 film festivals around the US and the Dominican Republic, winning 4 top awards. Martin Sheen, for reasons I still don’t quite understand, provided the narration. Pro-bono.
I am an LGBTQ ally.
I have always felt that LGBTQ issues were among the important, if under-examined, issues affecting persons who are crossing our southern border illegally. And, I’ve occasionally been asked to speak about LGBTQ persons and issues in Christian settings.
On Monday, February 9, 2015, I received national and international attention when I became the first Southern Baptist minister to perform a same sex marriage. The interest in me, I suspect, was augmented by the fact that I am in Alabama. Fortuitously for reporters, I wore a photogenic rainbow striped scarf.
I am not really a craft cocktail connoisseur.
After a lifetime of not drinking cocktails because I mostly didn’t like them, I recently discovered “craft” cocktails. I also discovered there are people who actually care about cocktails. They care what goes into them, care about how the flavors blend, and care about who is ordering the cocktail: “Do you like a sweeter one,” they ask, “or something smokier?” I’m not much for similes, but if I were I might say that I’m like a chilled-to-the bone lonely wanderer who entered a pub and was served up a Corpse Reviver #2 by a discerning bar tender. Revival has often surprised me. It comes when and where it will.
With my blog, I am inviting you to walk a spell with me on this journey. We’ll find out where we are when we get there.