My talk at church

Several of you have emailed to ask how the talk at church went.  You know, it felt really good!

I so rarely give talks--I lead discussions all the time, but "giving a talk" is less familiar terrain.  As I was getting the talk ready, I kept reading over it, thinking, "This doesn't really follow this.  This feels scattered."  I think what I wrote to Claire was that it's "hodge-podgy."  If a student had turned it in to me as an essay, I would have noted that it had a lot of great ideas, but that it didn't really have good transitions.  It was time to go to church, though, so I had to take the talk as it was and trust that it would be just fine.

The thing I realized is that when you're giving a talk, your performance--your voice, your use of your body, your timing--can substitute for clear written transitions, even a clear thesis.  And that's what happened!  "Embracing Human Diversity, or the Welcome Table" seemed to flow just fine, and folks were interested and had things to say to me afterward.  Only two people had prickly things to say--everybody else was quite warm.  (I'll note that I feel it's good to have people with prickly comments--if I don't piss anybody off, I'm not doing my job.)

I talked about ways in which lefty smarty-pants (a term Biffle came up with) are all about embracing diversity--which is great!  And I gave some examples of how the Unitarians' embrace of diversity had won me over, despite my intense suspicion of any religious community.  Then I noted ways that well-intentioned folks can become complacent and complicit in the oppression of others.  I quoted Peggy McIntosh, Harriet McBryde Johnson, and bell hooks.  I talked about my own lived experience.  I talked quite a bit about disability and about Maybelle.

Apparently the talk will eventually become a podcast, and I'll let you know when that happens.

The truly great thing about the service is that all the pieces came together astonishingly well.  I wasn't entirely sure what I was going to say until I got up and said it, but I'd invited Biffle to do the music, and I'd invited Drisana McDaniel to do a couple of readings.  Biffle brought in the Beebos, a fantastic bluegrass band made of him, Bob Sachs, and Gary Hewitt.  The congregation clapped after every single song--even the offertory!  I don't believe we've ever clapped for the offertory background music before.

Drisana did two readings that were weirdly well connected to the things I was saying.  I'm sorry that the whole service won't become a podcast, because the music and the readings were a big part of what made the whole experience so satisfying for me.

After the service, we went to Jack's Cosmic Dogs for some celebratory Unitarian food.


Cate Bush said...

I can't wait to hear the podcast. I'm glad your talk was so satisfying. I love you!

Cindy said...

oh my gosh I can't wait to hear this talk, or "sermon" as we protestants call it! ;)
Please post a link when it is up and available!