Archive for the ‘Robby’ Category

Monday
February 24

A Warm Invitation

By lucchesi

I learned a valuable lesson in ministry this week: a personal invitation can go a long way. I have been struggling with the best way to do outreach for OUTLook, because it has seemed that my previous methods have been futile. I can make public statuses, facebook events, and large announcements, but somehow we kept running into issues because people wouldn’t come to our meetings. OUTLook’s membership has radically shifted over the past two years, and I have really been struggling with how to keep the few new members we get.

Soren recommended that I follow up with each of the new members individually, and I sort of rolled my eyes, thinking that that was such an obvious solution, but doubting that it would do much. That reaction, was in fact, me not wanting to put in the extra time it would take to write all those notes. I am strapped for time, and this was another thing to add to my growing to do list. However, I received a message the day after Soren made his recommendation from someone from my old worship community here in Boston who invited me to a special event. He knew that it was an event that would appeal to my interest in languages, specifically Spanish, and took the time to send out an individualized invitation. The gesture meant so much to me that I did two things. 1) I went to the event, and 2) decided to try that out for the next OUTLook meeting.

Lo and behold, it worked. That personal invitation, instead of a mass email or facebook event, was enough to bring back some returners. OUTLook will never be a group that is as large as the other LGBTQ groups on campus, and we certainly don’t want to be, but having four guests at the meeting means a much more diverse conversation than if we had one. This gives me hope that I might actually have these skills in ministry, when for a while I thought I didn’t. I presumed other people would do some of the outreach for me, so it is empowering to know I can do it myself.

Monday
February 10

Why do I believe what I believe, in my context?

By lucchesi

I recently came across this article in the National Catholic Reporter, which is my favorite resource for all things Catholic (and when you’ve been around as many Methodists as I have, sometimes you really need some Catholic time) (I kid) and it brought up a question that I’ve been dealing with for a long time: Why do I believe what I believe?

First answer that comes to mind is that I don’t know. I was raised Catholic, somehow fell into the Anglican/Methodist communion, and often times find myself saying that its all good. I have a strong, strong, intuition about a lot of things, and as I’ve discussed numerous times on this blog, my challenge has often been to put words to that experience. Similar to the author of the article, Mariam Williams, cultural context complicates trying to justify faith. Although the situations are wildly different, both African-Americans and the Queer community have wildly conflicting views of Christianity. Being surrounded by queer and queer friendly theologians and clergy at BU, it is easy for me to make the connections between Liberation Theology and the queer movement, and I am in a safe space that allows for a reading of books on queer theology. However, most people never get the privilege to explore these issues so deeply because their experience being queer in the church has been one of repression and hate.

Williams notes that she had ”been immersed in African-American literature written and set in the 1920s; every author considered Christianity a white man’s religion that held black people back from progress.” Again, I am not equating the two struggles as the same, but in the queer community, Christianity is seen as a straight person’s religion. It is an able-bodied person’s religion. It is a white religion. It is a cisgender religion. So I find myself often on the defensive about what I believe instead of actually being able to find a way to actually articulate what I believe. Inherent in any explanation I give is at least a reference to my experience coming out, which in itself is a major privilege.

Monday
February 3

Circling Upwards and Sliding Backwards

By lucchesi

I have yet again put too much on my plate this semester. I have a chronic hoarding problem that affects my mentality when scheduling, so this semester, like so many semesters before, I find myself with too much to do and too little time. And I want to emphasize, THIS HAS HAPPENED BEFORE. This is why I have issues maintaining the two blogs I have had to keep up in the past, just like I do now, along with lots of other work.

This is a recurring problem. Heck, recurring problems are recurring problems, at this point. My philosophy has always been that in life, we circle upward in a spiral. We are constantly moving upwards, but we are circling, so that after every rotation, we return to a point at which we were before. We are higher up, but in the same position vertically. These points that we keep coming across are our various blocks, vices, and bad habits. In an upwards spiral, returning to them, however, means being higher up, meaning that we take a lesson (or more, hopefully), and apply it to the situation so we are better equipped every time we make that rotation.

However, one of my advisers at Marsh and I got into a full fledged yelling match (okay, not quite, just a discussion) about the issues of this model. She what is apparently a Wesleyan model that acknowledges that some people “slip”, and fall backwards on their journey. My initial impulse was to say that this was wrong, because it doesn’t take into account all of the experiences that we’ve had that supposedly would make us stronger. However, as evidenced by my schedule, we don’t always take into account our experiences when moving forward. As hesitant as I am to admit failure, I seem to be in the place of sliding back.

However, that doesn’t mean that I haven’t learned from those previous experiences. I certainly am better prepared to deal with busy semesters like this one. One thing I certainly have learned is that sometimes, you just need to deal with it and go and do the work instead of indulging in how tough it is. So now, back to work.

Sunday
December 8

The Water in the Glass with the Coaster upside down on the Table

By lucchesi

I want to start by admitting something: this blog terrifies me. Blogging in general terrifies me. I am not much of a writer, and putting my thoughts down onto paper (generally putting my thoughts into words) is something I am very actively working on because I don’t like doing it. I have had to blog in the past for a class as well as for a previous job in addition to the one I hold at Marsh, and it drives me up the wall each time. Blogging forces me to process the information I receive in my life in a way that is unnatural for me, and for that reason, blogging is good. Blogging is like exercise, and like exercise, I don’t do it enough (or in reference to exercise, I don’t do it at all), and the more I do it, the more adept I become at it, making it (a bit) less painful and (a bit) more enjoyable.

That being said, I still don’t like it (both blogging and exercise). The experience of writing for me is like that prank where you put a coaster on a glass filled with water, flip it over, place it on a table, and slip the coaster out so that if someone picks the glass up, all the water spills everywhere, effectively making the table impossible to clear. My feelings, reflections, and thoughts about things are the water, and my body is the glass. I am good at personal reflection and discernment, and I like to keep it to myself, which is what the coaster does; it keeps the water within the glass, even when it is tipped over and placed on a table. However, the act of asking me to write out those feelings is like pulling out that coaster, and when I write, I lift the glass off the table and the water pours out everywhere, creating a mess and making me cry.

Writing for me is not a container. For some people, the best way to process outside stimuli is by putting it into words; words are their container. However, my container is my body. Myers-Briggs tells me I am an ENFP, and although I hate labels, I am a textbook ENFP, especially in regards to how I Perceive things, iNtuit them, and discern my Feeling from them. I know something because I feel it in my gut, and I am good at recognizing and processing those gut feelings. But I don’t do it intellectually; I process things by acting in the sense that I perform an action: I worship, I perform, I sculpt, I do, because to act is to do, and it is in the doing that I start to understand things. It can be a long, arduous, and frustratingly slow process, but it is what I have spent the last three-and-a-half years honing in my theatre training. I am not necessarily awful at writing. I am actually proud of my individual voice when I write. I like to think that, for people who know me, they read what I write in my distinct dulcet baritone voice. I have blogged in the past, and I have written papers, and each time I do it, I get better at it. But it is still hard, trying, and exhausting. Going back to the cup/water/coaster/table metaphor, I am still ashamed of the mess that I make when I lift up that glass and water pours everywhere.

I don’t mind cleaning up that mess, however, because water (for the most part) won’t cause permanent damage; water doesn’t leave a stain or a stench. Well, with blogging, lets say the liquid in the glass is milk. Blogging is inherently public. I am assuming someone else will read this blog and because this is the internet, the baggage that it carries is immense; people years from now will read this and I will still be held responsible for what is said here. My last blog post, I wrote about a scripture reading I would be preaching on for Marsh’s vespers service later that week. I made some inferences and intuitions about the Gospel lesson, and came to a conclusion. That conclusion was one that I didn’t necessarily think all the way through to its completion, and in follow-up discussions, realized it didn’t really reflect my theology, or any theology with widespread acceptance. There probably won’t be any problems with that blog post in the future, so I am not deleting it; I doubt a future employer is going to fire me because of the biblical exegesis I attempted as an undergrad.

But what if I said something really risky? What if I really pushed my boundary and wrote about something where I was really uncomfortable? Because this whole putting-ideas-to-words thing is not my strongest suit, I run the very real risk of writing something that a) doesn’t  say what I intended it to say, and/or b) ruffles feathers that I didn’t intend to ruffle. I don’t know exactly where I want to be in five or six years, but wherever I end up, I will be responsible for what I have previously put out into the world. Writing about theology is exceptionally sensitive because it deals with the parts of our lives where we are exceptionally vulnerable, and I am just not comfortable enough with how I translate my thoughts onto paper to commit to putting more complex ideas out into the world. That blog post, and the sermons that I wrote, were just the tip of the iceberg; they were relatively safe, and I tip-toed around a deeper theological reflection because I simply don’t think I am capable of standing by what I say.

So much of my process in this internship here at Marsh has been about identifying how I process things theologically and how I express that. Like I said earlier in the container bit, I am a body know-er, and if I want to continue my theological education and go into ministry, I need to learn how to translate that body knowing into other forms. This blog is good for that. In fact, this blog is great for that, because I don’t like doing it. If blogging is exercise, then I am going to the gym, fighting through the sweat, blood, and tears so that I can get better at it. And only if I am hard-pressed will I admit that I have gotten a lot better at this style of reflection. In fact, I feel like this is possibly the best I have done in expressing my feelings in a blog post.

So I wrote this post for a number of reasons. I want to ask all of you to not permanently hold me to what I said in the last post, because although it was a creation of my intuition, it is not a whole summation of what I believe about Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection (a contrition for the proliferation of the utilization of words ending in -tion). I also wanted to see if I could actually put to words my insecurity in putting ideas to words, because there is a way to avoid spilling the water all over the place when you lift up the glass (you have to slide the glass to the edge of the table and have a pitcher to catch the liquid as you slide the glass off the edge; it leaves a bit of a trail, but cleanup is minimal compared to the alternative). And at the end of the day, learning how to do this blogging thing is building up my arsenal of sponges so that if I make a mess, I will know how to clean it up. And finally, I wrote this blog post so that I could wrap up this metaphor by saying that I will no longer cry over spilt milk.

Monday
November 18

Advent Advent

By lucchesi

Advent is coming. The season of anticipation of Christ’s arrival is almost here, making this week an Advent of Advent (sort of, not officially liturgically speaking of course). Many of my friends use Thanksgiving as the official cue to start playing Christmas/holiday themed music, but I am a pretty staunch advocate of waiting until the first Sunday of Advent (even though technically actual “Christmas” music should wait until the 25th).

I will be preaching at the Vespers service next Sunday in the basement of Marsh Chapel, in Robinson Chapel. It will be the last Sunday in the Season after Pentecost, and the Gospel reading is Luke 23: 33-43. The passage starts with the crucifixion of Jesus and ends with Jesus telling one of the other criminals on his side that he shall enter Paradise with him. When I was in middle school, my class watched Jesus Christ Superstar to help us understand what the Lenten season, especially Holy Week was about. Pedagogical debates about the efficacy of Andrew Lloyd Webber as a teaching tool aside, the Crucifixion scene was, in a word, dramatic. I’ll never forget how the raising of Jesus on the Cross was repeated from multiple different camera angles, so we could view the dirty, sweaty, emaciated Ted Neely playing Jesus as detailed as possible. The moment that the Cross sort of “clicked” into place was also replayed what seemed like a million times, an image that will be emblazoned in my memory. It was all very drawn out, taking about a minute of screen time, accompanied by ethereal ambient music and stylized laughter.

I say this only because it stands in such stark contrast to the passage from Luke that we will be reading this Sunday. That entire, physical putting-Jesus-on-the-Cross is summed up by Luke like this: “When they came to the place that is called The Skull, they crucified Jesus there with the criminals, one on his right and one on his left” (Luke 23:33). Certainly, a more dramatic and image filled telling of the Crucifixion works for the stage and screen (although I have not seen the Passion of the Christ, I’m sure the scene is quite similar), but there is something incredibly dramatically (from a dramatic stand point, not implying camp or over-the-top-ness) interesting about the simplicity and implied silence of Luke’s verse. Say I am a theatre director (which I am), staging a crucifixion (which I currently am not). Filling the aural and visual space of the theatre with images, pictures, and sounds of pain and suffering would certainly put the audience at unease. However, if I staged this scene in a very minimalist way, the audience would have to deal with their own images and emotions that they associate with Christ’s execution. In the silence, our body-minds fill the space with our own emotions, judgments, presuppositions, and prejudices. In a narrative like Jesus Christ Superstar, our emotional landscape is sort of dictated. Obviously, we each would watch a scene like that and take away different parts of it, but there is a specific choice to control the emotional tone of the scene. Just meditate on the one verse, Luke 23:33 for a second: “When they came to the place that is called The Skull, they crucified Jesus there with the criminals, one on his right and one on his left.” That’s it. Our minds fill in the imagery for us, whether it is biased by the art we’ve seen, the movies we have watched, the Easter services we attended as a child, or the academic study of theology that many of my colleagues have engaged in. So to sum all this up, in my grand, theatrical retelling of the Passion, we all now know how I will stage the Crucifixion. Sorry for the spoilers.

So what does this have to do with Advent? Well, I’m not really sure. I was quite puzzled myself when I saw this as the passage I would be preaching on to prepare us for Advent. However, it makes sense if we look at the liturgical year as a cycle. Easter is not the end of the Liturgical year; next Sunday is. But we are revisiting a what would be grouped with other Holy Week texts. This passage opens with the execution of Christ, and next week we start the mystery of Christ’s birth. The juxtaposition of Christ’s death and birth is so reminiscent for me of Shiva, the Hindu God of destruction. Without getting to deep into Hindu theology, Shiva brings about the destruction that always precedes new creation. The juxtaposition of Luke and Advent in this liturgical year certainly harks back to this primal impulse that creation can only come about with destruction. That is one of the things that makes both the narrative of Jesus’ resurrection so potent and the structure of the liturgical year so smart; it taps into a shared desire to understand the mystery of not just creation but creating. Shiva is a patron of Art, which is no surprise.

Many of these themes I am exploring in my journey as an artist-theologian, and it is encouraging that I get the opportunity to explore these themes more fully in the context of preaching. These were just my initial thoughts in my process towards a sermon, and I actually didn’t expect them to formulate like this, which is the outcome of just free writing. This will be expanded for my sermon next Sunday.

 

Sunday
October 27

Sermon on Luke 18:9-14

By lucchesi

I was asked to preach this Sunday, and so I went for it. Here it is!

———————

In William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, the ill-fated prince assembles a group of players to act out a play that implicates the King in the murder of the previous King, Hamlet’s father. He says to them, “For

anything so o’erdone is from the purpose of playing, whose end both

at the first and now, was and is, to hold as ’twere, the mirror up

to nature; to show virtue her own feature, scorn her own image.”

 

In my experience, however, it is much easier to “hold the mirror up to nature” when you are not actually holding it up to yourself. Although I study theatre primarily, I don’t call myself an actor. I do act, but most of my work is in directing, so sometimes I am called, in service of the story, to make people aware of some of their acting habits. I have watched the actors in my program grow from freshman year to senior year; I have also seen them in class where their acting habits are brought into the light and smothered out of them. One actor has trouble in the upper register of his voice, another has trouble finding clear actions, and another has no sense a build in a monologue and scene. As a director, I am trained to pay attention to that and bring it to the actor’s attention if he or she is falling back into harmful habits.

 

This is always a weird role for me to play, because I am so aware of my bad habits as an actor. I actually have many of them. Its one of the reasons I don’t act as much. I can be immovable in my acting choices, stiff in the lower body, and unspecific with my arms. Often times, I have to tell an actor that she is doing the exact same things that I do. I always end up feeling guilty about that, because I hate getting direction. I’m really good at giving it, and awful at receiving it. I inevitably take it personally. “What do you mean, my character is unclear? What are you saying about me?”

 

Luke’s Gospel today is all about hypocrisy, and it has much more wide-ranging implications than my little anecdote about theatre training. However, that was my entry point into this lesson. When I am a director, I am in a position of power, and I feel like I abuse it when I give an actor a direction that also applies to myself, and it is that irony that makes it hypocritical. In the case of the Pharisee, he prays to God in the temple in a way that does not serve God, and the irony there lies in the fact that he is a religious leader.

 

It was the hypocrisy of the religious leaders in the Christian church nearly five centuries ago that led Martin Luther, a disgruntled Catholic priest, to post his famous 95 theses on a church door. We celebrate that today on Reformation Sunday, and I could not think of a better Gospel reading to stir us to action in a church that is sadly still broken. And although today is more about the Protestants, I sense I am called to talk about the Catholic tradition from which I come, a tradition that has been riddled with round after round of bullets of controversy, from extravagant spending to a particularly sensitive topic to Bostonian Catholics, the child abuse crisis.

 

Most recently, Pope Francis has dealt with one of the main public figures in the Catholic world in Germany, Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst, also known as “Bishop Bling Bling”. He was recently suspended by the Pope on account of a massive renovation of clergy residences, poised to cost $7.5 million, and subsequently sextupling in cost (that’s times six).

 

Now, I am not suggesting that Pope Francis is going to bring about another schism in the church, but I think its important to note that he is taking on the powerful institution (ironically enough, that he runs) and the hypocrisy that has plagued it for years. This might not be the Reformation, but it certainly is a reformation. In light of the social justice impulse behind the Jesuit order of priests, in which Pope Francis is a member, Bishop Tebartz-van Elst is being extremely hypocritical, and finally the Church is paying attention.

 

Of course, it was Jesus who talked all the time about hypocrisy! You have today’s Gospel reading about the Pharisee and the tax-collector. You have Matthew 6.5, which also takes place in a church: “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full.” You have famous metaphor of Matthew 7.3-5: “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” I think Jesus is serious about this one.

 

For me, today is about the “protest” part of “Protestantism”. We need to stay engaged in the fight against hypocrisy in our church, like Martin Luther so courageously did nearly 500 years ago. But let’s first go back to the theatre metaphor really quick. Constantin Stanislavski, known as the grandfather of modern acting, was known to say, in regard to bad acting habits, “Awareness is the seed of all change.” My awareness of the hypocrisy of me giving direction to actors helps me be sensitive to the needs of the actor so he or she can stay in service to the story, in which case it is no longer really hypocrisy. All of this systemic change is only possible if we start from ourselves, and the first step is to just be aware of where in our life we do not follow what Jesus teaches, and with that awareness, we will actually be more equipped to join others in following his footsteps.

 

Amen.

Monday
October 7

World Communion Sunday

By lucchesi

Happy World Communion Sunday! Any occasion that has a larger, worldwide ecumenical focus is an event that gets my attention. There are many reasons for this, among them my pension for dramatic, worldwide things. But on a more serious note, the Eucharist is, for me, the most potent mystery and challenge of being a Christian. There are so many layers to comprehending the Eucharist that I don’t think I am even close to a cursory knowledge of what it all means, be it metaphorically or theologically. However, I have encountered a deepening of this mystery in some of the most unexpected ways.

 

I have always been interested by the old-time Catholic rule about not eating for an hour before receiving the Body and Blood of Christ. I had never really understood it, and never followed the rule on purpose. What would happen, however, was I would often go to mass having skipped breakfast, so indeed, Jesus was my first meal of the day. On one such day, I had gotten up early and had not had the chance to eat breakfast, and then went to mass three hours after awakening. I was absolutely starving and genuinely looking forward to communion because it would be my first morsel of food that day. When it came time for the Liturgy of the Eucharist, I could barely stop myself from drooling when the priest held the bread in front of everybody, as if he was taunting me. I got in line and when I finally received the Eucharist, my hunger was quenched and I felt fulfilled and satisfied (at least until coffee hour). What was unique about the situation was that in that moment when I received the host, I was struck by the awesome power of the hunger metaphor for receiving the Body and Blood of Christ. My literal hunger somehow deepened my sense of the metaphorical hunger for Christ that I experience.

 

It has been interesting clocking different aspects of my spiritual development since I started this internship a year ago. One of the various markers that I have been following has been my relationship with the sacraments. It has been easy in the past for me to accept the idea of sacramental mysteries on a surface level and be content about it just staying a mystery, and I am now coming into a phase where I that simple acceptance of a mystery is not good enough; for it to be a mystery, I need to understand why it is a mystery. I’m curious to keep tracking this onwards.

 

Monday
September 30

Where am I?

By lucchesi

Where Am I?

 

One of the challenges that I’m approaching as part of this internship is finding a solid faith community. At any given time in my faith journey I have split myself up between no less than two, and up to five different worship groups. Sometimes there are a few in the same tradition; for example, I find myself switching among attending the student Catholic mass at BC and the student Catholic mass at BU and the regular Catholic mass at Shrine of St. Anthony’s downtown. And of course, we can’t forget our Protestants: Marsh Chapel, and occasionally an Episcopal parish. These are all communities that at one point in time I have considered myself connected to, and of course, there is the plethora of churches in San Francisco (my hometown) within which I also have roots.

 

This approach to faith communities has advantages and disadvantages. The advantages are that I get explore many different styles of worship and practice, and all of them influence my personal, spiritual life. My own spiritual practices are an intricate tapestry of influences from many different Catholic settings and a mix of a number of Protestant ones as well. I also get to satiate my interest in ecclesiastical architecture and examine how different spaces affect worship. I also get to meet so many interesting people, and the flipside is also true: I am not pressured into staying in one community if I feel a pull somewhere else.

 

There are also distinct disadvantages, though, the main one being a lack of a solid footing in one community. Much of my spiritual energy in college has been spent trying to figure out where I belong, and it wasn’t until junior year that I found some semblance of that, and it was only when I was splitting my time between two communities. I have settled down a little bit, but then I find myself dealing with major time issues on Sunday when I am attending two different services. And through all this, I am plagued by the fact that in less than nine months, I will be starting this whole search over again.

 

I think the reason why there was a shift junior year was because I was working at the chapel. This affected my “church hopping” for two reasons. One was that I now had actual work during the time when most protestant parishes worship (late morning) so I physically could not be two places at once. The second was that I now had people to actually reflect with and process my experience at any other faith communities I tried out. Freshman and sophomore year, I focused too much energy on finding a faith community that I lost the pleasure in the journey. And even in my current, odd worship situation, there is a certain joy about being able to call my entire Sunday my “church day”. Of course that means I am taking the Sabbath on Monday.

 

Monday
September 23

Spiritual Practices

By lucchesi

We Associates have been talking about “Spiritual Practices” a lot in our weekly vocation meetings with our advisers, and it has really forced me to think about my spiritual practices as an artist. Over the years, I have employed a variety of tactics to bring myself closer to the divine in my daily life, among them praying the rosary, meditating, and mindfully cleaning the dishes. All of them have been lovely additions to my daily routines, but I have not delved deep enough into any of them, thus they fall by the wayside when my schedule gets hectic (which it inevitably will). One of my (many) goals this semester is to create for myself a “sustainable” spiritual practice, which does not (just) mean good for the environment. I need a practice that I can do every day, a repeatable physical action, that I can do when I am tired, when I don’t have time, and most importantly, when my mind is in another place.

 

This brings me to the theatre (doesn’t everything?). My classes are the most regular and repeatable things in my life, and one of those classes relies heavily on mental presence and an openness and willingness to take a journey (much like theological reflection). Through that class, I have been able to delve deeper into my theological life, and it is where I got the concept of a “repeatable physical action” that I mentioned above. The more specific a physical action is, the clearer the story will be to the audience. In terms of my spiritual practices, that means that even if I don’t “get something out of” a spiritual practice, as long as I am specific about doing it, my body will start to process the results even if my mind is lagging behind. And the regularity will soon make it a part of my schedule, which is my biggest downfall; I always put my spiritual, mental, and physical health a step lower on my priority list than whatever work I have to do for class.

 

One spiritual practice that has arisen out of my theatre training that is repeatable and sustaining for me is the idea of a “warm-up”. A warm-up in the theatre is much more than stretching my muscles and relaxing my singing voice; a warm-up does all those things by bringing me more fully into the space. In one of my classes, we ritualistically clean the floor together, and in addition to serving a practical purpose, it allows my mind to slow down and focus on one activity. There are many other warm-ups that we do, and all of them are more than just stretching and arpeggios.

 

I think there is mileage in looking at a “spiritual practice” as either a warm-up or cool-down to my day. If it is something easily repeatable, that I do not have to put a lot of preparation into it, I think I will be inclined to keep it up more regularly. And with that being said, I think I am going to try to go back to meditation, which is funny because for a while I was actually very consciously rejecting it. I do not like how it has come into prominence in a very pop-fad, new-age theology-but-not-really sort of way, but I would like to reclaim it back for myself. And the only way to make something repeatable is to do it a first time, so just give me ten minutes and I’ll be back.

 

Thursday
December 6

On the Relatively Soul Crushing Experience of Planning Programming, or What I Will Do Better Next Year.

By lucchesi

A blog post or two ago, I wrote about OUTLook’s upcoming lecture series, and now, here I stand, on the other side. The experience built character, to say the least.

But first, let’s focus on the positives: I learned a lot about two fascinating topics: laws relating to discrimination and the history of HIV/AIDS in America (I was not able to attend the lecture on Evolutionary Biology, but I heard it was fantastic). I got the experience of contacting speakers and following through with getting them to speak.

So then why am I disappointed? I am going to try to parse out some of my complicated feelings about the lecture series. One of my main concerns is that all three lectures had very few attendees, with the middle one having the most attendees only because the professor invited her class to see the event. I thought that I put a lot of effort into inviting people on facebook and reminding them via facebook statuses and posts, and I now realize that the problem was not how much work I put in, but where I directed my efforts. I put most of my eggs in the facebook basket, without putting a ton of attention to flyering and making personal appearances at different group events to advertise.

I feel like I will take this main lesson into planning next year’s programming, but advertising is just the external symptom for a much larger problem. OUTLook was really small this year. From talking to Liz Douglass, the main OUTLook contact, I understand that there have been many more people contacting the chapel for personal meetings to discuss GLBTQ issues and spirituality, but fewer people have been coming to meetings. I have really been thinking about why this might be, and I have come to two conclusions: 1) like the lecture series, better, more directed advertising will help more people know that we exist, or 2) this is just a phase that the group is going through. Civilizations rise and fall, and student groups do so as well.

This led me to realize, though, that I was defining success very narrowly, just in numbers attending the lecture series. Going forth to next year, I really need to try to redefine my notion of what successful planning of the semester and year will look like. On my part, I need to be better at communicating my goals and actually following through with following the appropriate steps to achieve them. I am excited for next year’s OUTLook because I really do think it is time for us to take our rightful place as a much more visible and active part of Religious Life on campus.