Wednesday, March 30, 2005

I guess I don't understand

I know that many people in the church may not share my view.

Some family members asked me this past Easter weekend about what I, a minister, thought about what was going on with Terri Schiavo.

If Terri Schiavo wants to marry her lesbian lover, shouldn't she be allowed to?

The Rev. Elihu

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Wrapping one's mind around SoDak

I do not have deep roots in South Dakota. The reason I live here is rooted in my beloved's alma mater. She graduated from Augustana College in Sioux Falls.

It is difficult to explain some of the idiosyncracies of this part of the country. We have lived here for four years now--working in Sioux Falls, my experience feels a little more integrated, as if I am a part of something. I live here, I work here, my wife works here, my daughter is growing up here. Integrated. Living here has grown on me. Living in South Dakota for the newcomer is an acquired taste.

From time to time I will give an outsider's perspective on South Dakota life. It may help some of my family and friends and whoever gives a damn an idea of where I live.

Some fast facts:

+ The entire state of South Dakota has a population of about 750,000 people--approximately the population of San Fransisco, California. Sioux Falls (approx. 130,000) contains nearly 1/6th of the population of the entire state. About the entire rest of the state shows up in Sioux Falls on Saturday to shop. I try to stay home.

+ South Dakota has ONE telephone area code.

+ South Dakota has 15 towns/cities over 5,000 people.

+ South Dakota has one member in the US House of Representatives (Stephanie Herseth)

My mother came to visit last February to help me and my daughter after I had had reconstructive knee surgery. I had a speaking engagement near Waubay, South Dakota, that I wanted to keep. My mother was agog at the lack of visible civilation on this drive. Sure, we could see some signs on that trip--life in Brookings and the outskirts of Watertown--but generally not much. Lots of farmland we could see beyond the snowdust that was blowing across the interstate and US Hwy 12.

South Dakota is not for the faint of heart. However, it is where I live. I have been steadily learning to embrace it--the wideopen spaces, the quirky culture (someday I will tell you about Snicker Salad), and the people who love their communities and have deep connections with land and people.

It is not easy to wrap my mind about South Dakota.

But God created it. And here I am.

Rev. Elihu

Providing scholarly funding for budding students at St. Copious and other fine academic institutions

My Grandfather Elihu the First knew a young caddy named Danny Noonan who was struggling to find the means to attend college at St. Copious of Northern Nebraska--a school with not many women (mostly nuns), but nonetheless a fine liberal arts institution. A caddy scholarship was one of the only ways to fund attendance for Mr. Noonan...

Funding the dreams of aspiring students is a noble cause. Although when my alma mater came calling night after night after night, I told them I wasn't available (Yes, it was me saying that). I was too damn tired to listen to their pitch. Last night I aquiesced and listened to the promotional ability of a student making a few buck an hour at a University phone bank.

I try to be generous, much like Grandpa Elihu, who was well known for offering a Fresca to passers by in his daily life. I ended up having a good conversation with that student solictor of contributions. I talked to an MSU student from Aberdeen, SD, who shunned the school in her home town (Northern State University) in order to meet new people and have new experiences and perspectives. I'm not sure if Mankato, Minnesota would fall under the definition of broad, but I admire her intestinal fortitude. She was a pre-pharmacy student, eventually trying to get back home by attending pharmacy school at South Dakota State University. Sounds a little bit like the Wizard of Oz. I'm sure there have been many people along the way who were generous so that I could find my way in this world at Minnesota State University, Mankato. I was asked good questions, reflecting on the growing experience I had--fine professors, wise mentors. I connected my story through to the next generation of students.

Not a bad deal for a little green.

What pulled me to separate me from the contents of my wallet? First and foremost? I was asked. Second, someone who had the courage to persist beyond my shell of cantankerousness. Third, a gift of connecting me with my story and the generosity I received.

Not a bad deal indeed.

Pastor Smails