I called Linda Larsen, a minister at Central Lutheran Church, at Dianne’s suggestion. The congregation of Central Lutheran was a mix of elderly people who lived in the neighborhood and had gone to the church for years and younger families who often didn’t live in the immediate area but liked the church’s politics enough to make the journey. The church had two ministers, Linda Larsen and John Nelson, under whose leadership members of the congregation made prison visits, participated in a march for an end to nuclear submarines, recycled newspapers for charity, worked with the mentally disabled, and engaged in a long list of other socially responsible works (fig. 47).

During one Palm Sunday morning sermon John Nelson asked the congregation to think about the language they used when talking about God. “We always refer to God as a he,” he said. “Did it ever occur to you that God is a she?” After the sermon an announcement was made encouraging everyone to participate in the Ecumenical Peace Pilgrimage planned for that afternoon. Central Lutheran was one of the churches along the route and the marchers were scheduled to stop and say a prayer in the church. Following the announcement we sang a hymn whose lyrics were filled with warlike metaphors: “This is the festival of the victory of our Lord. . . .” The incongruities were interesting: a gentle sermon about sexist language in the church, an announcement of a peace pilgrimage that afternoon, and a hymn that likened evangelism to war. Here was a forward-thinking church group, whose members regularly participated in interfaith activities and held socially progressive values, caught in a web of contradictions.

Later that week, I traveled with a group from Central Lutheran to a Good Friday peace march at the Bangor Naval Submarine Base, a two-hour trip from Seattle. Everyone — the usual group representing Seattle churches and other liberal religious organizations that regularly went to these things — gathered at a designated place near the railroad tracks where trains carrying nuclear warheads for the submarines entered the base. For