Thursday, July 19, 2018

Speaking of Sudan

A few days before I left for General Convention, I came down with a sore throat and went to the doctor. When I explained I was to be gone for two weeks, she gave me the full arsenal: antibiotic, steroid, and the "good" cough syrup (with codeine). Alas, it didn't help.I left home with a sore throat. By the time I arrived in Austin, I also had laryngitis. This is a horrible affliction for someone like me, who tends to be fairly verbose.
Oh well.
Somewhere in the midst of Convention, Lauren Stanley alerted me that a couple of resolutions were coming to the floor regarding the Episcopal Church in Sudan and she asked me to speak in favor of them. Of course I would!
I am grateful to Mark Sluss for capturing these pics of me speaking to the more than 800 Deputies.

What a Difference a Few Years Makes

Turn on your virtual “way back machine.”  Way back in 2012, The Episcopal Church’s General Convention authorized a liturgy for same sex blessings. The move was pretty radical back then.  Now the U.S. has authorized same sex marriage, and The Episcopal Church has moved along. In fact, our Church has moved along so far that all but 8 of our 110 dioceses now offer marriages for all persons in our congregations.

But back in 2012, we couldn’t know all this was coming. Only blessings, not marriage, were available.  Our Bishop offered a way for parishes to offer same sex blessings in our churches. But with a caveat: The vestry and parish had to be supportive. I wrote in anger back then, that my parish was going to talk about whether even to talk about such rites. We held those listening sessions back in May 2013. They broke my heart. I should not have been surprised that the opponents of same sex blessings were the most vocal.  I remember sitting in our church, listening to the old “Adam and Steve” arguments, the Leviticus arguments, the “traditional understanding of marriage” arguments, and I wept quietly and alone in my pew. My parish leadership decided not to pursue the issue. Why would they? I was the only active, gay parishioner in the parish. But I was angry and deeply sad.
Now fast forward to this month’s General Convention. The committee charged to consider same sex marriage [SSM] held hearings, as all committees must. The room was crowded. A parish in Houston had chartered a bus to bring opponents of same sex marriage to speak to the committee.  They and others dug up all those hackneyed arguments.   And you know what?  I didn’t cry. Not a single tear.  I just felt sorry for them. Because I knew we had moved well beyond their arguments. 
And indeed we did.  The House of Bishops and the House Deputies both passed resolutions A086 and B012 . Both make clear that every priest in The Episcopal Church can officiate in their own congregations at same sex marriages, as they do for all other marriages. In the 8 of our 110 dioceses whose bishops are opposed to SSMs, those bishops have agreed to “provide generous pastoral response” to let local congregations celebrate these rites.
As blessed Martin Luther King wrote, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”
And God has wiped away my tears.
The Episcopal News Service article on the hearings included this photo.  In the standing room only crowd, I was on the floor. Not crying. Not even worried about the outcome.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Blogging the General Convention

I served as a Deputy at the General Convention of The Episcopal Church for the first two weeks of this month. I and other Deputies posted news at http://missourideputation.blogspot.com/  That site was set up to offer public updates to others in the Diocese of Missouri.
I returned home on July 15, two weeks after I left for Austin. I am weary. Although I slept and ate too little, I loved serving as a Deputy, loved reconnecting with friends whom I so seldom see, and – most of all – loved being part of the conversations about the actions and stances of my beloved church. Just today, I have literally finished unpacking my bags and boxes after #GC79. But I am still “unpacking” and reflecting on what happened.
There are some things I will post on the diocesan blog. But there are a few things that I would prefer to share in this smaller circle of my friends. I’ll switch back and forth between the two blogs, depending on the content.  

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Prayer Book Revision: Not Now. Maybe Never.

If you serve as a Deputy to General Convention, be prepared to have your heart broken open. Sometimes in joy. Sometimes not.

For me, today was a heartbreak of the sad variety. I recognize that others may rejoice.

There will be no revision of the 1979 Book of Common Prayer, which I dearly love despite its limitations. Certainly not in the coming three years, and perhaps never. Yes, I mean that literally: perhaps never.

The House of Bishops took the resolution we passed in the House of Deputies, threw it in the trash can, and wrote their own resolution, completely ignoring the supposed dialogue they had with the Deputies. As you may know, no resolution can come out of General Convention unless both Houses pass it in identical form. So this afternoon, on a voice vote, the Deputies concurred with the Bishops' sparkly new resolution, which they had shared with no one before its adoption. So much for collegiality. Our vote to concur with the Bishops on a voice vote was by a substantial margin, but few of us were happy in casting that vote. I certain tasted gall in casting my vote.

You can read the final resolution here: https://www.vbinder.net/resolutions/A068?
house=hb&lang=enc

As part of their resolution, the Bishops "memorialized" the 1979 BCP. Our canonical experts and
church history buffs don't seem to know what "memorialize" means in the Bishops' resolution. It
isn't a parliamentary term. Even the Bishops who passed the shiny new A068, when asked,
couldn't or wouldn't offer a definition.

Folks around GC seem to think it means the 1979 Prayer Book is being declared The Once and
Forever Prayer Book of The Episcopal Church, never again to be amended or revised. It can, however, be ossified.

The good news: Our beloved Church will be spared the anxiety of BCP revision.

Further (but  mixed) good news: The Bishops' resolution creates a new task force that is authorized to create new liturgies such as we have in Enriching Our Worship and the Book of Occasional Services.

But here's what I see as the very bad news: The traditionalists in our Church [and that is a term they prefer; it is not disparaging] have long complained that we no longer have "common prayer," but have a variety of authorized rites, ranging from parishes that only use the 1928 BCP, to ones like mine that use the '79 BCP, to ones that only use Enriching Our Worship.  The traditionalists here in Austin fought hard against the resolution to revise the BCP. Well, they have their wish. We won't have common prayer. We will have increasingly diffuse prayer and liturgies, thanks to the Bishops who decided to enact their will unilaterally, with no consultation with the Deputies.

The Bishops in their sparkly new resolution created a new task force that can create as many new liturgies and rites as they want, so long as those are published apart from the Prayer Book.  What will be the result? A multiplicity of liturgies and even less "common prayer." This worked really well in the Church of England, which is saddled with the 1662 version as its official prayer book. I'm sure we can learn from their example, since they are over 350 years ahead of us.

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Ah, for a uniform

For a few brief seconds in my last year of high school, I thought of joining the military. This was when the Vietnam War was raging. 
I quickly realized I didn't want to join the armed forces.  I just wanted to be spared the decision of what to wear every day. Wearing a uniform would be so very simple. 
And now I have a job like that at Schnucks.  All I have to decide is whether to wear the black or tan khakis.  The rest is set.  Black Schnucks polo shirt. Shoes and socks prescribed. Apron provided. Cap provided.  
This is so much easier than dressing for work used to be. 

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Employment Update

A few of you have asked me for an update on my job/life situation since being terminated from job at the Missouri State Archives on June 30.  I very much appreciate your concern. Not many people are asking. I understand that folks are being very kind and not pressuring me with questions.
             
Things are pretty much status quo

I got hired at the Schnucks grocery store in early August.  I’ve now been working in the Schnucks Deli Dept. for about 3 weeks. They're working my butt off about 38 hours/week.  I like the work, but it sure is physically exhausting.  I'm getting a bit better and a bit faster.  I wish the managers could see how well I work with our customers.  I'm making about $250/week, compared to the $2800/month I used to make.  Obviously, finances are a big concern. 

Here’s a bit of good news about the Schnucks job: I generally work 7am to about 3pm.  It forces me to get up, shower, and go out into the world 5 days a week.  (Church takes Sunday.)  So I’m too busy and too exhausted to drop back into that Slough of Despond that took over my life in April and again in July.  I think it’s pretty funny that I’m too tired to be depressed.  LOL!

I filed my application with Central MO Community Action last week to be a Community Organizer. (More about that at http://showmeaction.org/services/community-organizing.)  I don’t know how long they'll take to begin the interview process, but they invited me to apply, I think my application is strong, and I'm optimistic. I think this is the job I really want. 

I also applied for the City Clerk position here in Jefferson City a while back.  They told me to report for a written exam last Friday.  When I got into the room, there were 41 people.  I thought surely they must be applying for various city jobs.  But, no.  I learned from the HR woman in charge that these were the 41 people culled from over 100 applicants for the Clerk's job.  I got my test results a couple of days ago.  I scored 94% and am now moving into the next round.  It will probably be a couple of weeks before the “hiring committee” begins to schedule interviews.

I've applied for a lot of other menial full-time jobs, but haven't  heard back from any of them. 

My state retirement income won't kick in until the end of September, since I had no notice that the SOS was going to fire me.  That will give me a little more income each month. I am learning to make each penny scream before I spend it.  :-) 

I filed for unemployment, but the Secretary of State office protested it, so I haven't gotten a penny there.  I have filed an appeal, and will have a hearing at some point, probably within the next month.  The State Unemployment process/bureaucracy is a nightmare. I hope you never have to go through it. 

I think that's all I have to report. 

Many thanks to all of you who are sending me prayers and good wishes, 
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After the Firing: The Unemployment Shag

After I was fired on June 30, I licked my wounds for a few days.  Then I went to State Retirement System.  I had been eligible for full retirement for a couple of years, but I had no desire to retire.  I had a marvelous meeting with the MOSERS retirement counselor which went for a couple of hours.  She was marvelous  She told me that I then needed to go to the state health insurance people (MCHCP).  I went there, and again had a marvelous counselor who walked me through the options.

They told me that I then needed to go to the State Unemployment Office.  I went there.  I presented myself to the person at the reception desk.  I was curtly informed that one cannot meet with a person.  He gave me a brochure and told me I had to file my unemployment claim online.  There is no way to sit down with a human being and figure out how to work one’s way through the system.

I went home and logged onto the online Unemployment system.  It is a user–vicious system.  I have everything short of a PhD.  But I couldn’t get past the fifth screen.  No matter what I entered, it gave me error messages.  No matter what I did, I couldn’t enter the correct data to get past those error messages.  Fortunately, my sister was here, and she didn’t feel the stress I felt.  She was able to help me navigate the Unemployment enrollment.

But what would you do if you didn’t have access to a computer?  Or if you didn’t have a calm sister to help you navigate that system?

What would you do if you had to find your way to someplace like our public library but didn’t know how to navigate that system?

What if you had to rely on public transportation and couldn’t get to the public library when it is open?

I have become convinced that the Unemployment System is designed to keep people from getting their Unemployment benefits.

And, by the way, if you manage to sign up for Unemployment, you must sign in again every week to prove you have been searching for a job.  So you have to get yourself to a computer every week, navigate the user–vicious system, and make your claim.  Good luck with that, if you don’t have computer skills and reliable transportation.

I haven’t been able to do it.  Once I started working part –time, the system has rejected my claims. 

If I can’t navigate this system, how in the world will others do it???



#povertyblog

Poverty Blog: Pharmacy Benefits

Upon realizing that I had lost my health insurance and pharmacy benefits after June 30, I called my local pharmacy to see what the drugs would cost me without insurance.  The results were shocking.  I reeled!

In the past, I had paid $8 for 30 day prescriptions, and $24 for 90 day prescriptions. 

Here are the figures they gave me for the cost without insurance:

* Clonazepam is the drug that helps control my “essential tremors” disorder. It keeps my hands from jumping around like the old “Mexican beans.”  I need it to function in the world.  Cost with insurance for 30 days: $8. Cost without insurance: $28.58.
* Lisinopril keeps my carotid artery clear after my surgery in 2015.  With insurance  for 30 days: $3.  Without insurance: $49.40.
* Effexor: The antidepressant I desperately need, having lost my job and facing an uncertain future.  With insurance for 90 days: $24.  Without insurance: $356.17.  Needless to say, I decided I couldn’t afford this prescription that I most needed.
* Prilosec: A digestive drug that helps me.  With insurance for 30 days: $8.  Without insurance: $227.96.
* Prevachol: Helps with cholesterol.  With insurance for 90 days: $24.  Without insurance: $437.55.

As you may imagine, I decided I couldn’t afford any of these prescriptions.  I saw my life and health crashing around me.

But here’s a weird thing.  I’ve used the same locally owned pharmacy almost since I moved to Jefferson City.  The first time I called them to renew a prescription was to ask for the Clonazepam.  I explained that I had lost my job and was without insurance.  The pharmacist said, “Let me check the lowest cash price.”  And the price was $7.64.  Not the $28.58 they had initially quoted.  Not even the $8 that I paid with insurance. 

Next I needed to refill the Prilosec, which was supposedly going to be $227.96.  When they checked the “lowest cash price,” they gave it to me for $11.38.

Fortunately, I got my insurance reinstated before I had to refill any of the other prescriptions, but they are all now back to where they were before.

Where is the justice in this?  As a person with insurance, I had very affordable prescriptions.  Having lost my job and my insurance, I was quoted utterly unaffordable insurance.  But then, perhaps because I’m a longtime customer, a pharmacist happened to check the “lowest cash price,” and some of them were even lower than what I had paid with insurance. 

This was just one of the things that made me realize how very privileged I am.  If I were a person who had never been insured …. and if I didn’t have a longstanding relationship with this pharmacy, would they have told me that there is such a thing as a “lowest cash price”?  I suspect not.  I suspect that if I were an ordinary poor and uninsured person, I would have dropped all my prescriptions.  And my health would have declined dramatically.

I am so lucky.  And the poor and unconnected are so deprived by our medical/pharmaceutical system!

#povertyblog


Fired

Many of you know that I lost my job on June 30. I was late that day.  The administration called me into a conference room shortly after I arrived.  They presented me with two letters.  One was a letter they had already signed, firing me.  The other, which they had already prepared, was my letter of resignation, effective immediately.  Because suicide hurts less than murder, and because of my pride, I signed the letter of resignation.

Life has been a bit crazy in these 2 months since I lost my job.  A job I had held for nearly 18 years, and in which I had excelled.

It strikes me as rather odd that they decided to fire me because I was late to work one too many times. Yes, that was the cause.

I am going to try to blog a bit more as I face serious poverty.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Republican Dogs Chase ACA for Six Years ... Now Wonder What To Do

Here's the email I sent today to Blaine Luetkemeyer, Republican U.S. Representative from Missouri's 3rd District. I'm sure it won't change his right-wing reactionary mind.  But I needed to have my say. 


Dear Congressman Luetkemeyer,

I see you are on record as supporting the American Health Care Act, to be voted on tomorrow in the House of Representatives.  I strongly urge you to vote against this legislation.

There are many aspects of this bill which I oppose.  Let me focus on two.

At present, low income people can get a subsidy up front to make their health insurance affordable.  The Republican proposal would eliminate that and instead offer a tax credit.  But, Congressman, very few low income Americans have the first clue about how to itemize their tax returns. They take the standard deduction in what’s the equivalent of the 1040EZ form and off they send it.  These tax credits might technically be available to them, but do you realize how few of them would have the first clue how to access and claim those tax credits?

The Republican spokespeople keep saying this proposed law would make health care “accessible” to all.  I know where there is a Rolls Royce car dealership in Missouri, so a Rolls Royce is technically accessible to me.  But could I afford it?  Not a chance.  There is a great difference between affordable and accessible health care insurance, and the independent, bipartisan reports have made it clear that the proposed law makes health insurance much less affordable for people with low incomes.

Over the past six years, the U.S. House of Representatives has voted hundreds of times to repeal the hated “Obamacare.”  You have had six years to think carefully about a reasonable alternative.  This is not a reasonable alternative.  I expect many of the voters who swept you and Donald Trump to power in November will be decimated by this law.

The U.S. House reminds me of a dog that’s been barking at and chasing a car for six long years.  Now the dog has finally caught the car.  And he wonders what the heck to do with it.  Because he never really had a plan.

Congressman Luetkemeyer, the law being proposed in the House is not a plan that adheres to the words engraved in the Missouri State Capitol: The welfare of the people shall be the supreme law.

Please vote for the good of the people of the U.S. and of Missouri.  Please vote against this terrible piece of legislation.

Respectfully yours,
Lisa Fox
Jefferson City, Mo.

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