Tag Archives: church

Wishful Thinking

So, in case you didn’t guess, my post yesterday was complete fiction.

I have NOT been offered a position as Corporate Chaplin to the Disney Corporation and (sadly) will not be packing up and moving to the Happiest Place on Earth.  It was fun pretending though!

If I could create myself the perfect job, the one I made up yesterday would be fairly close to being it.  I hope you enjoyed reading my joke as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Happy April Fool’s Day!

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Big time news!

I would like to take this time and announce a big change in the life of Pastor in Mouse Ears.  I have been called up to the majors!  No, not baseball.  I’ve been hired on by Disney!  I know it’s amazing.  I’m still a little dazed myself. But, I will be asking my Bishop for permission to be appointed beyond the local church to the position of Corporate Chaplain of the Walt Disney Corporation.

Unbeknownst to me, Disney staff have been following this little blog since the very beginning.  They have been impressed with how I have dealt with issues both large and small, as well as my respect for Disney films and the parks.  And due to a complex situation that I am not allowed to know the details of, a corporate chaplain position has been created and I have been offered the job!  What will I be doing for Disney?  Well, quite a lot it turns out.  The job description is quite extensive.

First, and most importantly, I will be providing spiritual and emotional support for Disney employees.  Much as I do now, I will be a sounding board for those who need it and provide a safe space for those who want to examine and question their faith.  I will connect with people through weddings, funerals, and other touchstone moments in their lives.  My other duties are a bit more unique.

As the inaugural chaplain, I will have the privilege of creating an entire chaplaincy program that will encompass not only the Disney Corporate Sites, but both US resorts and the cruise line as well.  I will test the feasibility of on site chaplains at the resorts.  Again, to primarily to address the needs of cast members but also to liaise with guests in crisis, most especially Make a Wish families.  In addition, I will be creating age-based, Disney themed, Christian curriculum (tentatively named ‘Faith, Trust, & Pixie Dust) that will be available for church groups and religious organizations visiting the parks.  That work will be adapted for use on Disney cruises and I will look for new ways to recruit clergy for the cruise line.

As I’m sure most of you know, Disney weddings are an increasing demand at the parks.  Interestingly, more people are now requesting Disney funerals.  I will be looking at the feasibility of incorporating memorial services into events that Disney Parks offer to guests.  This will be a bit of a challenge to figure out if  there is a way to honor these requests in a way that is respectful of the family yet not overly impactful to other guests.

There will also be a media piece to the job.  I will be informed of Disney media projects and attend pre-screenings to identify issues that might raise controversy in the religious community.  I will help prepare press releases to deal with any concerns and, if necessary, be the public face of the Disney Chaplaincy to address those concerns with the media.  This part of the job feels less exciting.

I am hoping I will continue to be able to write this blog, but I may be bound by confidentiality and professional ethics to a different level of privacy.  Maybe I will get to published on Oh My Disney.  You never know.  For now, I will keep you posted on all my upcoming changes.  Maybe I will get to meet some of you at a Disney Park.  I’m going to ask very nicely to see if they will make me a custom pair of ears with a clergy collar on the front so I will be recognizable out and about in the parks.  I can hope.  It’s an exciting time for me and I’m looking forward to the work ahead.

 

Oh, and by the way, Happy April Fool’s Day!

 

Poor Unfortunate Souls

When I was a kid, the first ‘blockbuster’ line I ever saw was not at a movie theater.  It was at my school.  The line stretched from my school gym, past the office, down the primary hallway, made a turn at the music room, went down that hall and out the door.  Once the line was outside it went down the sidewalk to the parking lot where it turned again to head down the drop off area and end at the school driveway.  It was very impressive to nine year old me, but also very confusing as all these people were lined up to get a shot.  The MMR vaccine had just been released to the general public (instead of just children and those at highest risk) and so many people wanted to protect themselves that hospital and doctor’s offices couldn’t handle the demand.  So they set up immunization clinics at schools and people literally waited hours in long lines to take advantage of the availability.  It was important.  Being a shot avoidant nine year old, I didn’t understand that but my mother explained it to me.

I was not simply shot avoidant as most nine year olds are.  I had actually been in treatment for 27 months for kidney disease.  I had been hospitalized for the greater part of two months while they figured out what was wrong with me and then transferred me for treatment.  I celebrated my sixth birthday in the Cleveland Clinic unable to get out of bed.  They did bring me some cake in between blood draws.  It didn’t stay down.  My medication made me too nauseous.  The ultimate result of all this (in addition to my remission) was a severe needle avoidance (which I still have) and a compromised immune system.  We were told that any disease severe enough could cause a relapse and necessitate a repeat of the treatment.  I was not allowed to get immunizations as injecting a disease directly into my system was considered too dangerous for me.  After the age of five I had no immunizations.  Fortunately for me everyone else did.  As evidenced by the turn out at my school, with a great deal of enthusiasm.  In addition to protecting their own health, they protected mine.

I am confident in saying that the anti vaccine movement would make no sense to any of the people who stood in line for the better part of a day at my elementary school.  The idea that vaccines are some sort of health risk or a plot by pharmaceutical companies would seem absurd, because of course it is.  Vaccines are the single largest contributing factor to the lowering of childhood mortality in the world.  Nations that introduce vaccines, especially the MMR vaccine, show an 80% drop in childhood deaths over 10 years.  Children are healthier when they are vaccinated.  Their immune systems are stronger and they are better able to fight off other less severe illnesses.  A recent study has posited this and new studies on larger scales are being created to verify the results.  Unlike the study that posited that immunizations cause autism which was disproved repeatedly and caused the doctor who publicized it to lose his license to practice medicine.  As for the notion that vaccines are a money making conspiracy by pharmaceutical companies, it is a fact that they make more money treating diseases than preventing them.

Case in point:

Last month Oregon saw it’s first case of juvenile tetanus in decades.  An unvaccinated child cut himself while playing, got infected, and was rushed to the hospital where he was given a tetanus shot and began treatment.  Tetanus is now so rare that his care givers had never seen the disease outside of a textbook.  He spent 57 days in medical care which cost approximately $800,000.  A tetanus shot costs $55 – $65 at full price and is often free with insurance or at immunization clinics.  It is not hard to determine which option is more profitable for the drug companies.

In spite of all of this, more and more parents are refusing to vaccinate their children in spite of all the scientific evidence that it is in the children’s best interest.  They endanger not only their own children, but infants who can’t be vaccinated, the elderly, cancer patients, and children like I was who are immune compromised.  There are measles outbreaks in fifteen states, almost of third of the cases are an hour from where I live in the major city where I go to Costco, get my dog groomed, and do my specialty shopping.  That means I am likely to be exposed any time I go do my errands.  Fortunately for me, I am now safe.

Two years ago, my doctor and I had a long conversation where we decided that it was time for me to get immunized again.  Based on my overall health and the rising prevalence of anti-vaccine parents he decided that the risk of a disease flare was dramatically less than the real risk of contracting measles.  Let me be clear.  My doctor believed that risking a life threatening complication to a vaccine was safer for me than walking around unvaccinated in the current climate.  I was monitored and I am fine, but the whole thing is troubling.

If you are a Disney fan who visits Disney Parks, get vaccinated if you aren’t already.  The parks see outbreaks of disease including measles on a regular basis.  Keep yourself and those around you safe.  It’s easy and fairly inexpensive.  If you are not vaccinated, I have come to the conclusion that there is nothing that I can say that will  change your mind.  No study, no proof, no reasonable explanation will work.

How do I know this?

Remember the anti-vaccine family from earlier whose son spent 57 days hospitalized for tetanus?  When the doctors were preparing him for release, they asked the family if they would like the second dose of the tetanus immunization so their son would never contract it again.

They refused.

 

God help the outcasts

This weekend has been a very stressful one for me. The legislative body of my denomination is meeting this weekend to determine where we stand as a denomination on the inclusion of LGBTQI people in the life of the church.  There are a variety of options on the table.  The choices range from full inclusion at every level to complete exclusion of LGBTQI people and punishment of those clergy or groups that ignore exclusionary regulations.  My hope is that we will choose full inclusion.  My fear is that we will choose the opposite.  I believe the most realistic outcome is that we will choose something in the middle.  No matter what happens, no matter what choice is ultimately made, the inevitable consequence is that my denomination will never be the same.  Those who do not get what they want will leave.  Those who are excluded will leave.  The church will be broken.

In reality, of course, the church is already broken.

We would not be where we are right now if the church wasn’t already broken.

When we get to a point where we are debating who does and does not belong in the church we are no longer the church, we are something else.  When we draw lines and determine who is inside and who is outside we step away from Jesus’ command to love one another.  When we say someone is not deserving we ignore the gospel message that God loves the world.  When we punish people for including as many people as we can, we are denying the reality that God’s grace is given to each person regardless of who they are.  There is no way to even justify having this debate while being the Church in the world.

I have never been an outsider in my Church. Even when I could have been made to feel less than or like I was overstepping, I was embraced. I don’t really know what it is to not be welcomed. I said once in an interview that I am a square peg in a square hole.  I fit in my denomination.  Not everyone has had that experience.  That is a failure of our church.

Jesus found those on the margins and included them.  He challenged those with power and privilege to open themselves to the outcasts and outsiders.  When the we forget these basics of the faith we forget who we are supposed to be as followers of Jesus.  God doesn’t place boundaries on love and inclusion and neither should we.

The church is broken and my heart  is broken with it.

Snowpocalypse 2019 — Week 1

For those of you who are unaware of these facts, I will explain a few things.  First, I live in the Pacific Northwest.  Second, the Northwest has been hit with a huge winter weather event.  Now, this isn’t on the level of the Polar Vortex that swept through the Midwest a couple of weeks ago.  We aren’t getting temperatures in the negative range and we aren’t risking frostbite when going outside.  But it’s been a challenge.  A lot of our communities are hilly and, at least on the west side of the state, we get very little snow.  We can go years without seeing any snow on the ground at all.  So, our little community wasn’t quite prepared for the week we’ve had.  I have been keeping track of my experience and will now share it with all of you.

Day 0 — Preparation Day

Image result for mickey mouse fireplace

The snow was due around 4:00 in the afternoon.  I spent the day getting ready.  I’ve brought in food from the outside freezer and stocked the pantry.  I got out the snow shovel and stashed it on the deck right outside the back door.  I took Disney Dog out for a nice long walk about 2 in the afternoon then filled up her food bin too. By 4, we were in, settled, and prepared for the weather. There was no snow.  I fired up the stove and oven and made myself some homemade pizza and cookies. There was no snow. I dug down through my old video games and pulled out Epic Mickey and started to play through it again.  There was no snow.  Disney Dog went outside and we headed to bed.  There was no snow.  I feel over-prepared.

Day 1 — Snow!

olaf-frozen

Got up this morning to snow!  My preparations were not in vain.  Disney Dog bounced around the yard and rolled in the several inches that fell last night.  She is in and out all day.  I have spread towels by both doors to try and catch the snow that falls off her.  It finally stopped snowing after lunchtime and we took a walk to the church to evaluate.  It is surprisingly bad.  The roads are covered, the sidewalks are impassable, the church parking lot is under a foot of snow.  On the was home, I step in a snow covered pothole and wrench my ankle.  It’s been less than 24 hours and I am done.  I make a hamburger casserole and stream old sci-fi television.  It starts snowing again.  Disney Dog is still having a good time.  I have to trick her into thinking we’re going for a car ride to get her inside for bed.  I think she resents me.

Day 2 — More snow!

aladdin snow

It once again snowed all night.  It’s stopped snowing, but the roads are impassable.  The people with Subarus aren’t even trying to leave home.  I have canceled Sunday morning worship for the first time in my working life.  I discover I have no idea what people do on Sunday mornings.  It is odd.  The neighbor dogs come over for a visit and Disney Dog plays snow games with them.  It is fairly adorable.  We go out for a walk around the neighborhood.  I only fall twice.  I begin to see people cross country skiing down the street.  It worries me.  I make raspberry muffins and warm up leftovers.  It starts to snow again.

Day 3 — Frozen fractals all around

MulanSwirlyAvalanche

It literally snows all day.  It never stops.  Disney Dog refuses to go out at all. I eventually have to shovel a path for her out the door, down the steps, and across the lawn.  She uses it but isn’t happy.  After a little while she decides it might not be so bad.  We do not go for a walk.  I keep looking out the window thinking that it will stop.  I am wrong.  People now regularly go by on skis.  I have also seen a group of people pulling small children and groceries in kayaks.  The world has changed.

Day 4 — What just happened?

bambi snow

It finally stopped snowing some time last night.  There is now approximately 27 inches of snow on the ground.  I view my driveway with despair and decide that it will all melt eventually.  My doorbell rings at 10 am and I open it to find one of the neighbors. He has come to help me shovel.  Disney Dog jumps off the porch and immediately regrets her life choices.  She sinks to her chin in the snow and attempts to swim back to the porch.  I rescue her, thank the neighbor, and head back inside to put on real pants.  45 minutes later there we have cleared a path the width of my car just in case I need to drive somewhere.  I think the skiers laughed at us as they went by.  I dig out Disney Dog’s paths again but give up on making my gate usable.  I can get out through the garage from now on.  It starts snowing again.  I make a pan of brownies in protest.  By 3 o’clock the snow is ankle deep on the driveway.  I get a call that the roads are too difficult for the garbage trucks to come.  The major reason I cleared the driveway was to get the garbage can to the curb.  I begin to feel a sense of futility.

Day 5 — A Brief Respite

Image result for fantasia snow fairies

It stopped snowing again and actually warmed up to over freezing.  I celebrate by baking bread and taking a walk with the dog.  I see several people shoveling snow off of their garage roofs.  I realize that this could be an issue as my garage is old and the roof is already sagging.  I resign myself to the loss of the building and my car since the the only ladder I own has a mere three steps.  Sacrifices must be made.  I take a loaf of bread over to the neighbor to thank him for helping me shovel.  He invites me in for drink with him and his partner.  I return home.  My gate is still blocked.  If the garage collapses I won’t be able to get back into the house until spring.  The temperature drops again and everything that melted today freezes over.

Day 6 — Living in the frozen wasteland

monster snow

It’s snowing again.   I no longer know what day it is.  I no longer have a sense of time.  Every day is just like every other day.  We’re supposed to get 6 more inches by tomorrow morning. I shovel the driveway again for something to do.  The neighbor comes over to help.  I think he wants more bread.  On a positive note, the garage is still standing.

Day 7 — This is my life now

Image result for 101 dalmatians snow

We have now had over 40 inches of snow fall.  The city has given up on running snow plows and now sends construction equipment into the streets.  I hope that the bulldozer doesn’t run over any of the skiers.  I am now out of bacon, potatoes, cooking oil, and chocolate almond milk.  I bravely head out to the store.  I find that everyone else has the same idea.  Shelves are bare and people descend on the deli like locusts as soon as hot food is available.  I make it back home with almost everything I need.  I will continue to make my own chocolate almond milk.  I have survived the first week of winter weather.  We’ll see what happens next.

New Year, New Whatever

As I have grown older, I have been less impressed with the idea that we can start over on New Year’s Day and transform our lives. A new calendar doesn’t really change anything about us.  We are the same person we were before midnight and resolutions go from transformative to onerous by the end of the month.  With this in mind, I gave them up a couple of years ago.  Instead I use the new calendar to refocus on the things that are important to me.  I am not becoming a ‘new’ me.  I’m the same old me just more mindful of the things that are important to me.  So what does this new year hold for Pastor Mouse?  I’m glad you asked.

Big plans for 2019 here!

In April I will be visiting my third Disney Resort when the Princess and I arrive at Disneyland Paris.  I am both excited and a little nervous to be touring my first Disney park in another language.  I have been trying to learn a little French, but have no confidence in my communication skills.  I am hoping that Disney is a universal language.

I will also be attempting my first Disneybounding.  For those of you unfamiliar with the concept, it means dressing like a Disney character without the use of costumes.  Adults are no longer allowed to wear costumes, so people have begun to improvise.  So far, I’ve got a really cute Mickey outfit to wear.  I’m still working on what else I might do.

There are also a lot of Disney films coming out this year.

  • “Toy Story 4” is what I’m personally most excited for.  Every movie in this franchise has gotten progressively better so it’s hard not to be excited for the latest installment.
  • Disney is also releasing three live action / CGI remakes of older animated features.  I have never been excited for these sorts of movies.  Some of them have been very good, some less so.  Quality aside, it feels like Disney is just recycling rather than creating new content which is disappointing.
  • On the Marvel side we get the finale of the Infinity War saga.  While I am excited, there is also a sense of inevitability that the events of the last movie will be undone.  The new Spiderman movie already has publicity so we know that ‘The Snap’ isn’t so very permanent.  Hopefully the journey to the known destination will be interesting.
  • Also on the Marvel side we get “Captain Marvel”.  I am very excited for this one.  Not only do I love movies about powerful women, but Marvel has done a great job minimizing spoilers.  I have no idea what’s going to happen in this movie and I like that.
  • Finally, the Skywalker Saga ends with “Star Wars: Episode 9”.  This has been a long time coming and may be a little bittersweet for me.  The loss of my childhood heroes (one in real life) has been hard.  The end of this grand story of Empire and Rebellion will end a story that has been part of my life since I was 6 years old.

My big project for the year is to work my way through the catalog of Disney animated features in order.  There are (as of today) 57 of them.  It looks to be a long term project that is definitely achievable in a year if I stay focused.  I am hoping to blog as I go along to compare messages, styles, and over arching themes.

What are your plans for the year?  Anything big?  Let me know in the comments.

Man Up — Postscript

There is another reason I have been struggling with writing the series on Pixar shorts in my current mood.  That reason has a lot to do with Pixar itself.

It is no great surprise if you are a Disney fan that Pixar films, both long and short, are dominated by men. Until “Brave” in 2012, there were no Pixar films that feature female characters in leading role in its 17 year history.  While there were memorable female characters Dory and Elastigirl, they were sidekicks rather than leads.  I find it interesting that they have both since gotten their own starring roles in features. Unsurprisingly, the short films have a similar bias.  There are no shorts that feature a woman until we get to the bonus feature from “Brave” narrated by the witch.  I find myself uninspired to write about men telling stories about other men right now.

As an added bonus to my apathy, John Lasseter, the main creative voice behind Pixar’s success, stepped away because of his self admitted ‘missteps’ with female employees.  Apparently is was commonly known that women would not sit next to Lasseter in meetings because of his wandering hands.  This was known by me and women both and no one said or did anything to stop it.  The men who worked with him stayed silent instead of standing up with the women they worked with.  I really don’t feel like praising the work that they created while working in a culture where women weren’t valued.  Is it any wonder that there were no films, short or long, that featured women.  It is obvious in hindsight that their voices and contributions weren’t valued.  If they were, Lasseter’s behavior would have been stopped.  Again, the ‘nice guys’ didn’t do it.  They just let it keep happening.

At some point I will return to the Pixar shorts.  They are a quality body of work.  But right now, I just can’t.