My name is Beth, and if you can't already tell, I really like cats. And Jesus. And the Episcopal Church. I grew up outside of Cleveland, Ohio, and moved to Colorado for seminary in 2012. Seminary didn't work out, but my then-boyfriend followed me here, so I decided to stay. We've lived in the Front Range for seven years now, married for five. •
I've been to 8 countries (England, Israel, Italy, France, Ireland, Germany, Belize, St Lucia). Published 7 books. Competed in figure skating competitions for ten years before taking a break for college, and then picked it up again at 27. I'm very picky about my morning coffee: I only buy locally roasted beans, and grind them myself. My favorite weekend pastime is making jewelry (see @sbethdesigns) while watching Law and Order: SVU marathons. •
Tell me something about you!
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I’ve started talking with my husband about the future of our family: will we be only fur parents forever, or is parenting humans something we might consider? At this point, we have more reasons on our list of cons than pros, most of which are unique to us, and have nothing to do with what’s happening in the world right now (student loan debt being a major factor). •
When we had these talks, during which I expressed some of my existential crises — what if climate change makes the world unlivable within our child’s lifetime? What if the United States engages in nuclear war right when we start setting up the nursery? — Josh reminded me of something: it’s a pretty bad idea to let fear be your driving guide for making big life decisions. •
I still believe my concerns about society, and the environment, are legitimate. But I also know that he’s right. •
Lately, fear has been the driving motive for a lot of things I’ve decided not to do, or felt apprehensive about doing. I recently had the opportunity to hear Auschwitz survivor (and stepsister of Anne Frank) Eva Schloss speak at my alma mater. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity, since no Holocaust survivors will still be alive by the next generation. I actually considered not going, only because I was afraid that such a widely publicized event would be the target of somebody with a hateful agenda. •
But in the end, I did go. I bought an autographed copy of Eva’s book. And it was so worth it. •
Josh was right. Fear is a terrible guide for any of our life choices. •
Truthfully, I don’t want Donald Trump, Neo Nazis, or climate change to dictate my reproductive plans — or any of my plans. That gives them far more power than they deserve. I don’t want the thought of everything that could possibly go wrong to be the reason I miss out on anything worthwhile.
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I know I said I don't do the "Choose a word theme for the year" thing, but since 2020 has started, I've been thinking a lot about "hope." We know, in the abstract, what this word means - but what does it *look like* to people who are actively suffering? Specifically, I'm thinking of Australian citizens who have lost their homes, and are waiting desperately for rescue. Their future is uncertain, their lives filled with unimaginable grief. Is it ridiculous, or even cruel, to tell people in that position to "just have hope"? •
The thing is, humans need hope to survive, even if it's not much. The Bible talks about focusing on the needs of today, and letting tomorrow take care of itself. Maybe hope fulfilled looks like a bottle of clean water or sitting in a boat, away from the flames. Yes, tomorrow will bring new struggles. No, no one can promise that things will return to the way they were. Is focusing on the present moment enough, or is it grasping at imaginary straws? •
I don't know how I would be able to have hope if suddenly I found myself without a home, without food, my medication, or a stable income. Even when my husband lost his job and was unemployed for several months, we still managed to keep a roof over our heads, so we were never truly, bottom-of-the-barrel desperate. I wonder how much differently Paul's words about finding contentment in all situations would be if it were confirmed that he had anxiety disorder (who knows, maybe he did). •
Perhaps the elephant in the room is that when Jesus said he came to give us abundant life, he wasn't necessarily talking about this life- he was referring to the next. That means no longer fearing the reality of earthly death, and how many of us can, or want, to do that? Honestly, it feels a bit like a cop-out to tell someone who's lost everything that their next life will be better- just have faith! And yet, isn't that the heart of what Christian hope means? •
What does "hope" mean to you?
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It's not popular to believe in Truth. But it's always been popular to argue about what Truth even is. •
My philosophy with denominational in-fighting is, "If it's not in the Creeds, feel free to disagree" - with the caveat that one can support their position using Scripture. Plenty of Christians I admire, and have a few doctrinal disagreements with, do this very well. But it always saddens me when someone I considered biblically sound is cast out as a heretic for changing her mind about an issue that Jesus never discussed. Or an issue that, despite popular opinion, was never all that "clear" in the Bible in the first place. •
I will never advocate living in an echo chamber. At the same time, I have a foundation of faith that is extremely important to me, and don't want to be negatively influenced by anyone who tries to dismantle it. How do I balance this? Discernment is definitely in order, but I can't say who you should and should not follow. I don't think this will look the same for every person, and you can never fully judge a person's heart solely by what they post on social media. •
For me personally, I won't immediately unfollow people who call themselves "Christian" while denying central parts of the Creeds -- maybe they post really cute cat pictures -- but I won't look to them for spiritual guidance. I won't consider them an online spiritual "mentor" of sorts. But I at least like to give people a chance to explain where they're coming from. •
As a Church, we can be a little too quick to swing the Heretic Hammer when someone comes forward with an unpopular idea, not realizing -- or forgetting -- that plenty of saints we admire today were once vilified for doing the exact same thing.
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