Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The last entry... for now.

Having met with two members of the staff-parish committee, I have a better idea of yesterday's meeting. The two members chosen to have lunch with me are also choir members, so it was a gentle and pleasant conversation. There were two main points the committee wanted to convey:

1 - They want reassurance from me that sending this letter is not to be the first of a series of controversial, public acts that I'm going to make. The church is having a difficult time with membership and they can't afford to engage in any controversy. (Side note: Jesus, the figurehead of the Christian church, never fled controversy - never mind losing followers, he actually gave up his life to torture and crucifixion in the process. It is a sad state of affairs that his followers will put political concerns ahead of being brave and following their teacher.)

My response to this was to indicate that I am not likely to become a hugely controversial figure with repeated protests, letters to the editor, etc. However, I will not sit by in silence while flagrant human rights violations are being committed. As I did in the writing and sending of this letter, I will discuss my proposed actions with the leaders of the church so that they may voice concerns. Next...

2 - There is the PDA concern. Brett: Have my actions led anyone to think that this should be a concern? Response: Well, no, but you are in a small town and it is difficult to separate your private and your professional life. What you do in private impacts your professional status.

They are basically asking me not to touch Andrew in public. Granted, I'm not likely to walk down the street in broad daylight holding Andrew's hand. Holding your beloved's hand is a way to have a quiet display of intimacy that is innocent yet sweetly touching. However, if cars begin honking and rednecks start jumping out of their cars to smear a couple queers, it's no longer so sweet.

Here was my return question: Is hugging such a PDA? When told that yes, that can be taken the wrong way, I demonstrated how preposterous that was, as I have publicly hugged lots of people - male and female - and it would be absurd to hug others and nod my head at Andrew. I will be discreet and not do anything to flagrantly attract attention to homosexuality, however, I ask in return that, should someone voice anger at my hugging Andrew in a silly context (choir party, end of a big concert, etc.), they treat the person's ridiculous concern with the appropriate disregard.

That's about it, my dear readers. The church now has an "official position" and has "dealt with" the letter. Rumors that it was an act of insubordination will henceforth be squelched. I do not need to meet with the committee, and though I have read some more angry letters, I no longer feel the need to write them down. It's a lot of ignorance.

What now? Business as usual. It is hard to ignore the fact that certain people now hate me because of the letter. Sitting in meetings, I am aware that some of these people have written angry letters, some have spread rumors, and others wish for me to resign.

It has worked out well, but in the end, it is clear that I do not belong here. This should not have been such a big deal in the first place. People should not have seen a gentle and loving letter as an attack or act of insubordination. Rather than causing them to think, they just rebuilt their walls of ignorance with stronger fortifications. How sad.

Still, it caused some people to think, and some to change their vote. I am happy for that. Others feel that they have someone to talk to who will not judge them and who is not afraid to discuss gay-related issues. This, too, is a beautiful thing.

I would like to thank all of you who have given me your support, either through leaving comments, sending e-mails, or speaking with me on the phone (extra thanks to those entrapped on the phone with me in one of my, um, stronger moods!). I am grateful to have such a group of friends, family, and loved ones.

The blog has now run its course. There may be an addendum later on, but I think this about does it. I may start writing just for kicks, so check back every now and then should you feel so inclined.

Namaste.

-Brett

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

I'm not fired.

I only have a little bit of information about the meeting:

- Nobody [on the committee] wants me to leave.

- They like me.

- They don't have a problem with my sexual preference [ugh, this word!].

- They just think it was a case of bad judgment and that the letter included too much information.

Tomorrow (Wednesday), I will have lunch with two members of the committee and hear more about the meeting. Then I will appear before the committee on Monday and talk with the whole group.

So... I don't have much to say right now. My main thought is that it looks like they just want to slap my wrist for a "bad judgment call" and leave it at that. I will certainly not apologize for my actions, nor will I offer them my wrist.

I love the attitude: we are alright with your "preference" - heck, we like you! - but we don't think it's alright that you talk about it when the state is voting to write cold-blooded discrimination against you into the constitution. Have a little tact, please, and stay silent. We like you more that way.

Where was the "too much information"? I wrote that my homosexuality was never a choice. I talked about Andrew holding my hand when I was sick and how that kind of devoted love gave me strength to perform well. There was no talk of sex, there was nothing that was inappropriate for a child to read. If I am to stick around, they need to recognize the double standard in being "alright with me" but requiring me to stay silent on such a personal issue when the rest of the country gets to talk out against it. Lord!

More to come tomorrow afternoon...

-Brett

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

'Twas a good day.

Yetserday was a day of all positive and no negative letters. Here's hoping I won't see the reversal of that tonight. The meeting to discuss "the issue" will not be for another two weeks. The minister wanted to be sure that nobody in the church could claim they didn't know about it. I have mixed feelings on waiting so long.

Work calls, so here are the letters. They should be a nice pick-me-up after some of the negative stuff from the previous days.

-Brett


*****

November 12, 2006

Dear [The Minister],

I want to write in support of Brett in the current controversy. I will start by saying that Brett asked my opinion on the content of the letter and whether he should send it at all. Because Brett was careful to use his own paper, money, and home address and because he never identified himself with [The Church], he was clearly exercising his right as a citizen to advocate for a position that is important to him. I felt so comfortable with the letter that I helped stuff, stamp, and seal the letters that Brett sent.

In this morning’s sermon, you spoke eloquently about the freedoms that we enjoy in our country and the sacrifice that thousands have made to preserve that freedom. I fear that there are those that believe in freedom for only those with whom they agree. This would amount to a disavowal of the commitment by the veterans whom we just honored.

Beyond the church’s duty to uphold Brett’s right to express his opinion, the church is also facing an important decision. Will the church accept the truths we have learned over the last several decades and understand homosexuality as a biological reality rather than a sin, or will the church cling to cultural and historical biases that found their way into our religious tradition? As is apparent from the way I framed the question, I think the church must select the first option.

Therefore, I hope that [The Church] will stand firmly behind Brett—not because it is pragmatic or easy, but because it is right.

Thank you for your thoughtful consideration of these matters.

Sincerely,


*****

November 14, 2006


Dear [Head of the Staff Parish Committee],

Over the past six months it has been my pleasure to gain the friendship of Brett. What a joy it has been to become acquainted with this fine young man. Knowing him has been like a breath of fresh air in my life. What a unique and gifted individual he is. I am so grateful that he is my friend.

His musicianship is absolutely amazing, as I’m sure you realize. Seldom do we encounter anyone of his caliber in the… area. [The Church] is truly fortunate to have a person of his capabilities as their music director. His dedication to producing the finest music possible for weekly worship goes without saying. What joy and inspiration it must be to hear him play each week.

It was my pleasure to hear the sermon he delivered to your congregation back in September. What a thought provoking and well-crafted message it was. This was yet another demonstration of his depth and wealth of gifts. Not only can he play like you seldom hear but also he can do the same thing in the pulpit. How extraordinary he is.

I know that there is controversy in the church because of a position he took on the marriage amendment which Virginians recently voted on. While I know it might be a bit unusual for a church music director to take such an open stand, I honor and defend his right to do so. He felt very strongly about the matter and as an American decided to state his views. His letter clearly demonstrated the depth of his convictions and how deeply he felt personally on the issue. Reading it is a moving experience.

I am so sorry that some have taken offense at what was only intended as a statement about love. Brett has a remarkable respect for life and would not intentionally harm or offend any person on purpose.

In his sermon namaste, “I bow to the divine in you,” was the theme. That certainly is Brett’s attitude toward life and his fellow human beings. I have seen nothing but kindness in his treatment of others. He deserves the same in return.

It is my hope that [The Church] will be able to embrace Brett with love, compassion and understanding. Let your powerful proclamation of “Open hearts, Open minds, Open doors” be uppermost in your minds and in your decision-making. Use this event as an opportunity for dialogue and a time for a clear demonstration of the love the church professes.

It is my hope and prayer that [The Church] will be able to work its way through this matter to a positive conclusion for all concerned and that the wonderful work Brett has begun will continue without interruption.

Sincerely,

*****

November 12, 2006

Dear [The Minister],

Living in a town like [The City], one can never be immune from “hearing things.” I have heard that you are hearing much negative response to Brett’s letter encouraging people to vote against the “marriage amendment.”

I want you to know that [The Church]’s response to this is pivotal for me. I not only believe, but I know based on the best scientific evidence, that homosexuality is not a choice people make. Therefore, the church should be welcoming, supporting and nurturing gay people and be thankful for the loving, committed relationships they form. The church of Jesus Christ must celebrate love always and everywhere.

Brett chose to write a letter to people he knows to try to persuade them to vote against the marriage amendment to the Virginia constitution. As it happens, because he has only lived in [the city] for about a year, most of the people he knows are members of [The Church]. He was not targeting church members nor speaking to them as a staff person of the church.

People who think their children are not safe with Brett are confusing homosexuality with pedophilia. The latter is always wrong, no matter the sexual orientation of the perpetrator. Brett is a professional and will behave professionally with the children and adults he works with. Parents seem not to be concerned to have their children work with heterosexual adults, but I would wager that situation would be the more fraught with danger of inappropriate behavior.

In addition, there is some talk of [The Church]’s standing in the community if Brett stays - that its reputation will be tarnished somehow. [The Church] should stand strong for the people Jesus would have stood strong for – the outcasts and marginalized in our society.

Thank you for your consideration in this matter.

*****

Nov 12, 2006

Dear Brett,

I just want you to know that I support not only the position you took in your letter regarding the “marriage amendment,” but also the fact that you wrote it at all. As a concerned citizen, it is your right to try to persuade others to see the rationality of your cause. I hope the people to whom you sent the letter have been at the least open to your position and at best swayed by your prose. It is deeply lamentable that in the 21st century your sexual identity and the right to legal protection within committed, loving relationships are issues at all.

Your friend,

*****

November 12, 2006

Dear [Head of the Staff Parish Committee],

I received a letter from Brett recently concerning the marriage amendment.

What a courageous young man! He is an idealistic, wonderful human being as well as a brilliant musician. What a treasure for [The Church] and our community! We are blessed to have him in our midst.

How I pray that the church won’t penalize him for his stance. Perhaps it could be an opportunity for growth and education for all of us.

Wishing for your church and our community patience, tolerance, love and compassion.

Sincerely,

*****

November 10, 2006

Dear Brett,

I appreciated your very courageous October letter, and meant to respond sooner – but here I am, “after the fact”!! I certainly voted against the marriage amendment, and was disappointed, yet not surprised, when it was approved by the voters. I do believe that eventually this will come before the Supreme Court, and will be solved in favor of ALL citizens of our nation living the lives of their choice.

Thank you for sharing your excellent talents with us, through the beautiful outstanding music we are fortunate to enjoy each Sunday.

Sincerely,

*****

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

More letters.

Let's start with the negative:

*****

Dear Mr. ____,

After more than a week of thought and prayer, I have decided to reply to your verbose letter of October 30, 2006. Let me assure you that I don't need you or anyone else to suggest how I should vote on any issue or any candidate. While you may think it appropriate to use a list of names and addresses from your employer to contact members of the congregation for political reasons, I find it unconscionable.

Furthermore, I consider your disregard for your employer, supervisor, administrative board members and the entire congregation of [The Church] a sever breech of trust. The issue of your gay orientation is none of my business and quite frankly, I had no interest in such a disclosure. Unfortunately, you elected to force this divisive issue on the church and the congregation against the advice of church leaders. I cannot and will not sit idly by as you or anyone else seeks to use the church for personal reasons. This response is not intended to be anymore of an attack against you than your letter was against [The Church] and me. i was offended by the arrogance and contempt shown by the distribution of your letter.

Sincerely,

*****

I'll refrain from commenting, but please feel free to do so! Just click where it says, "leave a comment," and throw on your two cents' worth.

And now for a positive one (albeit with a somewhat negative beginning):

*****

Dear Brett,

I find that your letter of October 23 may have been both ill-advised and too personal but as a citizen and a man of conviction one could not take away your right to express your opinion.

For many years I was engaged in the business of higher education. In the 1960's youth across this country were being advised to "feel free" to express their opinion resulting in changes to many aspects of our culture. Working with young adults enhanced my insights to the openness of young men and women to live their lives, both in their careers and their personal lives, often in opposition to the conventional culture. Today's young men and women are reluctant to remain silent. Obviously, ,you are a product of the late twentieth century and current twenty-first century.

[The Church] hired you for your remarkable talents in both music and other aspects of the Christian faith. I can not see that your strengths have been weakened due to your admission of your sexual orientation. I will continue to support your employment at [The Church] and pray that our Christian compassion will dominate the day. Remember the United Methodist slogan---"Open hearts, Open Minds, and Open Doors".

You will be in my prayers.

Sincerely,

*****

Dear [head of Staff Parish Committee],

We would like to tell you how much Brett has meant to us as Music Director of [The Church] over the past year. He has brought a vibrancy and joy into the music that is evident when listening to and watching him play the organ or piano. That joy spills over into the hymns we sing, making them more meaningful. His talent and love of music is inspiring. We appreciate, too, the information he share son the music he plays during the Sunday services.

We are among the recipients of Brett's letter and are also among those who look forward to enjoying Brett's music and talent at [The Church] for many years to come.

Sincerely,

*****

So, the letters continue to come in. So far, I've received three negative and eight positive letters.

The staff parish committee will meet next Tuesday (two days before Thanksgiving). The idea is that they will meet and discuss, then invite me to join them and talk with me. If they end up sticking to that format, it's going to be an uncomfortable hour (or more... or less, I suppose) when they meet. Here's hoping the people on my side speak up and are as vocal as the angry opposition! Here's hoping, also, that they will be considerate and allow me to speak.

Thanks for reading, and please don't hesitate to leave a comment.

Love,
Brett

Monday, November 13, 2006

Today's Top Prize.

Today was a big day. Extra stuff was going on in the music program today, and then I had the recital to deal with as well. This means a full 4 1/2 hours at church in the morning, an hour at home for lunch and practice, another hour with the ensemble, and then the actual recital. This is the day today's Award Winner chose to deliver this beauty:

*****

November 8, 2006

Dear [The Minister],

Brett’s letter left me with a very sad feeling for [the church]. Something like this can cause a split in the church, which [the church] does not need at this time. I think he showed disrespect for our church leaders by going against their advice and bringing the church into the political arena. Due to this selfish act, we will pay the price long after he is gone.

Brett has so much talent which [sic]we could use to benefit our church. How he lives his private life is between him and his God. However, I think he is a poor roll [sic] model for our young people and it is time to ask for his resignation.

In Christ,

*****

I wasn't even hurt by this letter. How could something so petty, trite, and irrational touch me?

The newest batch of letters.

Here is a bunch of positive letters. The first one is from the first person who spoke with me the Tuesday the letters exploded. I'm coming to appreciate her more and more. There was one negative letter today, though that one deserves its own post.

*****

Dear Brett,

I have been reflecting about your letter of October 23, 2006, and I want to commend you for being courageous enough to express your convictions. Silence means many things, but it does not necessarily get anything changed. When I attended college, a student who was gay attempted suicide. One of my former coworkers is faced with his family ignoring his sexual orientation.

When we understand each other, we no longer have to fear each other. My friends are very diverse, and they enrich my life. I do not want to exclude anyone until I have a reason to exclude the person.

I appreciate your musical ability, your sense of humor, your kindness, and your friendliness. My GED students are in awe of you. Sometimes, I hear the children talking with you, and I catch myself smiling. None of these qualities are influenced by sexual orientation.

A loving relationship is difficult at times. If someone is fortunate enough to have a good relationship, I think the two people should be able to share their lives as a couple. A political cartoon in our local paper summed up my thoughts quite well. In the cartoon a man tells his wife that he is saving their marriage. The wife asks the husband if he means he is no longer staying out and abusing her. His answer is of course not, but he will vote for marriage between one man and one woman.

I am apprehensive about the reactions your letter will bring, but I admire you for standing up for what you believe.

Sincerely,

*****

Dear Brett,

Just want you to know I realize the enormous courage it took to send your letter. Your honesty and openness are certainly to be admired. However, knowing the mindset of many in our community, I feel you may receive some backlash. Please know you have my support and friendship and if there is any way I can be of help – I am here. I don’t want you to be hurt by this – I am hopeful it will just blow over.

Warmly,

*****

To Whom It May Concern,

This letter is in support of Brett.

How fortunate we are at [the church] to have such a talented individual as Brett.

Our first thoughts after Brett’s first Sundays were, “Wow, he’s only 25 and so accomplished as an organist, pianist, and choir director!”

Brett has our unconditional support as a Director of Music.

Respectfully,

*****

My collection of positive letters is growing. There are a few that I have not put here for various reasons, but to date, I have 9 letters and am expecting quite a few more this week. A dozen letters is certainly enough to fight the statement, "everyone in church is angry."

And now, time to post the real winner...

-Brett

Phone calls.

Knowing that I will eventually be called upon to defend myself, it seemed like a good idea to try to gather as much written support as possible. I made a list of people who had given me words of support or encouragement and called them up to request a letter. Many of these conversations were touching, and it did my heart good to hear the shock and disgust in people's voices when I told them my job was on the line.

One conversation did not do my heart good. On a roll from the morning, I tried one woman on the list as a practice break Saturday evening. Despite her having voiced support at church, her tone was entirely negative. As soon as I mentioned the letter, she got real preachy, saying "I wish you hadn't sent that letter, it couldn't have done any good" over and over. Ouch! What happened? She seemed positive when she first spoke with me, but now her tone was one of remorseful anger. What caused this, I cannot say. It seems likely, however, that she liked what I said, but was then confronted with upset people. The decision was then between defending a just cause and keeping peace at home. The latter seems to have won out. Given the conservative, traditional atmosphere here (the high school's sororities are a big deal), I wonder how many people, like this woman, started off reacting positively on their own, but were scared away by the opinions of others.

Fortunately, though, the others were all quite good and were followed up with letters today.

-Brett

The UCC is the place to be.

(I'm a few days behind due to a major recital today. Friday and Saturday were filled with ensemble rehearsals and I just didn't have the energy to document things. Rather than writing one huge blog entry, I'll break things up a bit. Here we go!)

I'll admit that reading that first negative letter had me down. I knew I was going to require some tough skin, but still... that first shot stung. It was so hard to read false accusations and not defend myself. That pain, combined with the tension of the elections earlier in the week, made it extremely difficult to focus on practicing for my concert today. I had hoped for a week of 6-hour practice sessions, but I was lucky to get in 45 minutes of solid work at a time.

Hope came by way of a friend from Paris, now living in London. He forwarded the link to a mutual friend in Chicago, who is an associate minister at a UCC church there. His e-mail to me was insightful and uplifting. It gave me the boost of confidence I needed to play my best. Here it is:

*****

I wanted to let you know that you've got my prayer support behind you. I wish I had some words of wisdom to give you that would make this turn out - but you already know to be gracious, love your enemies and bless those who persecute you. Unfortunately, doing the right thing can make you end up hung on a cross. But, God will, in some way, work this for good, and already has in the hearts of several of your parishioners, it seems. As for the others, you have exposed the hatred and lack of love they carry in their hearts. That truthfulness is also a good thing. I pray for their transformation as well.

Thoughts: None of those reasons for an inquisition they've given are Christian reasons. Since when was Jesus concerned about protecting his public image more than doing the right thing by people? Never. It shows how screwed up the church is in relation to priorities. Their laundry list is Corporate America, not the church. Also, I'm saddened by what sounds like a real lack of support from the pastor of the church for you. He or she sounds pretty wishy-washy when it comes to sticking by your side. I'm sorry for that. This could be a real teaching and growing moment for this congregation around homosexuality and the meaning of the Methodist church's slogan, "Open Hearts, Open Doors". (?!)

Anyway, if I can be of any support to you, let me know. In the meantime,

"Be of good courage. Hold fast to that which is good. Return to no one evil for evil."

*****

Minor - yet relevant - correction: the slogan is actually, "Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors." I correct that just to show how open the Methodist church claims to be.

In conversation with my friend, he emphasized the word "truth." I sent out a letter that had nothing but the truth, in which I described my experiences and gave some examples of others who have struggled. The truthfulness of it all probably is why some of the reactions are so extremely angry and negative - there is nothing to argue in it. You can't dismiss the content of the letter because you disagree with it. If you live with a narrow mindset in which homosexuality plays no role, this would be really offensive because it would shatter that reality. Perhaps there is a way of explaining this that would be clearer and more profound, but after a full day, it's the best I can do.

His comments about the lack of Christian concern in the attacks are right on. They really put much of this in perspective, and it makes reading some of the other letters all the more interesting.

-Brett

Friday, November 10, 2006

It's time to get the bases covered.

At the advice of my wonderful friend Karma (I can't tell you how great it is to have you back in my life - you're the best!), I have contacted the ACLU - American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia. Here is the e-mail I sent:

*****

Dear ACLUVA:

I am a member of the ACLU writing to seek advice regarding a situation at my job.

For one year now I have been the Director of Music at a Methodist church in @#$%, VA. Having won the respect and appreciation of church and community members alike, I decided to take a stand on the marriage amendment. Two weeks before the election, I mailed approximately 100 copies of a letter to members in the community. This letter was a personal plea for people to think hard about the impact of their vote. In it, I effectively outed myself as a gay person, asking people to consider that I, someone they have grown to love, would be hurt by a vote for the amendment.

To cover by bases, I used my own stamps, paper, envelopes, and time in sending the letter. Many of the recipients were church members - they are, of course, the people I have come to know since moving here - but I did not send the letter to all church members or use a newsletter mailing list. I was simply one United States citizen sending a letter to other United States citizens in my community. There was no reference to the church whatsoever in the letter or on the envelope.

A week before sending it, I met with the minister and the head of the Staff Parish Committee to show them the letter, explain what I was doing, and give them a chance to express their opinions. Neither of them asked me not to send the letter.

There has started to be a large backlash of upset people: church members, community members, and even ministers of other churches. People are asking what the church is going to do about it.

Today, the minister told me that, depending on upcoming meetings, my dismissal was a real possibility. None of the accusations have had anything to do with the quality of my work at the church.

Should the church decide to dismiss me, they would be doing so because I exercised one of my civil rights as a citizen of the United States. Is this a case that would interest you? Would you have any advice or suggested contacts?

Please understand, I have not been dismissed as of yet. Knowing that it sometimes takes you several weeks to consider cases, I felt it wiser to contact you sooner rather than later.

I have kept a blog of the reactions (http://brettmaguire.blogspot.com), including the full text of the letter, which I will also paste below.

If you are able to offer me any advice or assistance, I would be greatly appreciative.

Thank you,
Brett Maguire

*****

We'll see what happens. Should this get ugly, I am certainly not going to leave without one hell of a fight. I apologize if my previous entry made it seem that way.

I don't think they will fire me over this, but then again, I never thought some of my "friends" would become such vocal adversaries.

Thanks to all of you for your support.

-Brett

Thursday, November 09, 2006

There's more than I thought.

Yesterday was the first real taste of the negative impact of having sent my letter. Today gave me some more details.

I met with the minister, and from what he told me, the negative reaction is huge. He has received phone calls and letters from other ministers in the city, church members, and outside members of the community. A lot of people are angry and upset and want to know what the church is going to do about it.

Now, in being certain to use my own resources to send the letter out and avoid mentioning the church, I thought I had covered myself so that this was an independent thing and not church-related. When the minister told me that he was going to call the appropriate committee together to deal with the issue, I asked what there was to deal with. I didn't do this as a church thing, why should the church do anything? Because:

1- As the director of music, I am a leader in the church. If my actions make church and community members uncomfortable and angry, I am impeding my ability to function as a leader.

2- Some parents have told the minister they will not let their children sing in a youth choir with me. If church members are unable to trust me with their children, how can I have a youth choir?

3- This past summer I told some people that Andrew was a former student of mine. This raises an ethical issue: if I was having a relationship with a student, then I have misbehaved and such behavior is intolerable. Note the "if." I am not commenting on this issue. As far as I'm concerned, what I did years ago in a state 400 miles from here has no bearing on my current job whatsoever.

4- Because the outrage is so widespread in the community, my actions could be seen as hurting the church. Even though this is hard to quantify, it could be said that if I have damaged the reputation of the church, I should not be a staff member.

Further, many people are upset by the length and content of the letter. As yesterday's writer said, "there was entirely too much information." Interesting side note: I told the minister I would not have changed that in retrospect because I felt it had to be personalized to have had an impact; if it had only been half a page it would not have been persuasive enough. The minister told me he knew of at least one person who was so angered by my letter that he voted for the amendment, even though he had planned on voting against it. Yes, this is what I'm up against.

So there's all these angry people demanding something be done. A church leader (a "higher authority") told the minister that the committee must meet to address the issue.

Question: what can be done about the issue?

Answer: anything from nothing to my being dismissed.

I called a friend who works for the American Guild of Organists Headquarters in NYC. He assured me that I had done nothing wrong in exercising my freedom of speech as an American. So... legally, I have done nothing wrong, and yet there are enough angry people demanding some kind of payback. It is extremely likely that this will now blow over, so I'm left wondering what can really be done to "amend" things. Short of my being dismissed (we used to say, "short of being fired," but that doesn't sound so nice, does it?), I can't really imagine what is left. Do they demand a public apology? Do they redefine my job and ask me to sign a contrast in which I agree not to discuss my political views with city members? I cannot imagine conceding to either of these points, so it all boils down to my being dismissed, or my excusing myself.

Maybe none of this will come to pass. Maybe it will just blow over. From the conversation with the minister, though, that doesn't seem likely. I'm not expecting to hear much for another week or so, but you may want to check out this page from time to time.

It is amazing that love and compassion could make people so angry.

-Brett