Friday, April 03, 2020

"Hands off 'our' stockpile" - Jared Kushner's Message to America

This morning on Twitter, Washington Post reporter Aaron Blake offered these "before and after" screen shots from the Department of Health and Human Services website.

The first is before Jared Kushner took the mic at the Coronavirus Briefing yesterday and the second is after. They represent a striking, stunning and significant shift of the federal government policy from "ensuring that the right medicines and supplies get to those who need them most" to providing "a short-term stopgap buffer" -- putting federal policy in alignment with Mr. Kushner's assertion that:
"The notion of the federal stockpile was it's supposed to be our stockpile. It's not supposed to be states' stockpiles that they then use."





Can I just ask: WTF does that even MEAN???

Who is the "our" in "our stockpile" ... and if "the states" aren't supposed to use it who is? Jared, Ivanka & fam?

Seriously. Anybody? Buehler??? I just can't even.

If having Jared Kushner rewrite our public health policy isn't jumping the shark then there is no shark.

Thanks for letting me vent.
#BeSafe #BeKind #WashYourHands

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Of building bridges and breaking down walls

My turn to offer the meditation for our diocesan staff Morning Prayer today ... with thanks to Richard Rohr & Phil Groves:

The idea of bridge building is both admirable and common — but there is also the biblical image of wall breaking.

We build bridges across natural divides (especially rivers and canyons) but the divisions that challenge us as a human family —  male and female, slave and free, Jew and Gentile, black and white, citizen and immigrant, millennial and boomer, heterosexual and LGBTQ (to name a few) — are not natural divides. They are the walls those with power have built between us with the intention to divide us -- and they are the walls that need breaking down.

It is fear that motivated those with power to build those walls -- fear that without them they and their power will not be protected ... fear that without the walls, anyone could just come in and out. And they are right.

The world tells us to separate from “the other.” The Gospel tells us we are all one in Christ. We cannot face this crisis as individuals; we cannot carry the pain of this reality on our own, nor can we only look out for ourselves. The pain is communal and so too must be the response -- a response that breaks down any walls that divide us.

And the irony of this coronavirus crisis is that in physically separating from each other in order to protect the most vulnerable, we are breaking down those walls that divide us, recognizing that we are — as Dr. King taught us — part of “an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny."

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Let there be peace among us ... and let there be no such thing as half-assed baptized

It was the early 1990's and I was in the cocktail lounge in the Red Lion Inn in Ontario, California. Some of us were having a nightcap after the first day of our Diocesan ECW (Episcopal Church Women) Annual Meeting when we were joined by our keynote speaker ... the Right Reverend Barbara Clementine Harris (AKA the first woman ordained a bishop in the Anglican Communion.)

I was in awe as I listened to her tell stories going back to the 1974 first ordinations at the Church of the Advocate in Philadelphia and about being the first and still only one of three women in the House of Bishops. But she also wanted to hear our stories ... asking about congregations and ministries and families and listening with a deep attentiveness to those gathered around the table.

When then she turned to me and said "And how about you? How's your ordination process going?" I told her what everyone at the table already knew: I was having a rough patch with my then-sponsoring rector who had issues with women priests in general and me in particular.

Bishop Harris reached over and put her hand over mine on the cocktail lounge table top and said "This too shall pass, my dear. Just remember that the power behind you is greater than the challenges ahead of you ... and that when it's time for you to kneel in front of your bishop, the same power that got you to that moment will carry you through whatever challenges lie ahead."

And I swear I felt like I had already been ordained -- and I didn't wash my hand for a week.

Over the next 25 years I had many opportunities to work with +Barbara and I treasure each and every one of them. Learning both theology and the Electric Slide from her at Kanuga where we gathered in 1999 for a groundbreaking feminist/womanist Christology conference.

Recruiting her to do the narration for "Women of the Table" -- the video Katie Sherrod produced for the Nat'l ECW in 2002. Relying on her wisdom and counsel through the worst of the Inclusion Wars ... from Lambeth 1998 through the Windsor Report and out the other side ... and protesting with hotel workers and the Episcopal Urban Caucus.

Sharing the joyful moment of the 2006 election of Katharine Jefferts Schori as the first woman to serve as Presiding Bishop and the demoralizing moment when 2006-B033 ushered in a de facto moratorium on the election of any more LGBTQ bishops. Joining us at All Saints for confirmation in 2010 and continuing to be a persistent voice for love, justice and compassion in the House of Bishops.

But the moment I'm remembering the most poignantly today is the Integrity Eucharist in 2009.

It was the General Convention immediately after Lambeth 2008 and B033 was still on the books. The "smart money" was on the bishops being unwilling to do anything to rock the Anglican Communion boat ... especially when word got out that Rowan Williams -- then Archbishop of Canterbury -- was coming to address us and urge us to stay in line.

Nevertheless, we persisted. We pulled out all the stops for the Integrity Eucharist with the two historic "firsts" -- Bishop Barbara preaching and Bishop Gene presiding -- and former Presiding Bishop Ed "There Will Be No Outcasts" Browning in the house.

+Barbara began her sermon as she began every single one I ever hear her preach: "Let there be peace among us, and let us not be instruments of our own or others’ oppression" ... a sermon that included this quintessential Bishop Harris quote:
"If you don’t want GLBT folks as bishops, don’t ordain them as deacons. Better yet, be honest and say, “We don’t want you, you don’t belong here,” and don’t bestow upon them the sacrament of Baptism to begin with. How can you initiate someone and then treat them like they’re half-assed baptized?"
Every prediction to the contrary and the Archbishop of Canterbury notwithstanding, we left the 2009 General Convention with B033 behind us and with the formation of a Blessings Task Force charged with creating trial liturgies for the blessing of same-sex relationships. And the rest -- as they say -- is history.

Today as we grieve her passing and celebrate her life and legacy, I am absolutely convinced that the sermon Bishop Barbara preached to that 1600+ member congregation gathered in that Anaheim hotel ballroom that July 2009 night was one of the factors that turned the tide.

And I am equally convinced that the power behind her words that night is the same power that continues to call this church forward into God's future -- to meet whatever challenges lie ahead.

One more Bishop Barbara quote ... this one from an ENS interview "I love the church because the church has proven time after time that she can rise to new heights and be more than she has been."

We are more than we have been as a church because of the work and the witness, the grit and the grace of +Barbara Clementine Harris. May the power behind us continue to equip us as we stand on the shoulders of those who have led us thus far on the way. Rest in power, our beloved sister. We've got this.

Monday, February 17, 2020

One in the Spirit: Claiming the DNA of Anglican Comprehensiveness

One in the Spirit is an initiative of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles focused on deepening and broadening the mission of the Church as outlined in our catechism: “to restore all people to unity with God and each other in Christ.”

In response to the Gospel call to be agents of reconciliation, we envision a recovery of our deep connection to each other and our world so we can participate more fully in the transforming work of love. And what we plan to build together  is our capacity as a diocese to expand relationships and deepen connections across differences in order to strengthen our shared commitment to follow Jesus.

Our aspirations include creating conversational communities to drive bridge building across the differences that simultaneously enrich and challenge us as a diverse, multi-cultural diocese utilizing existing diocesan programs and resources as well as creating new ones.

We have audacious goals: but the challenges of this present day call for nothing less if we are going to be the change we want to see. Those goals include:
  • To live more fully into our baptismal promise to respect the dignity of every human being. 
  • To proclaim in Christ’s name that we will not submit to our era’s epic division and polarization. 
  • To understand better how barriers of class, race, language, nationality, culture, politics, geography, orientation, and identification blind us to the burning image of the divine in one another. 
  • To feed hearts that are hungry for connection and community in a secularizing, isolating age. 
  • To choose not to choose between challenging systemic oppression in all its forms and respecting the dignity of every single human being. 
As 21st century Anglicans we are the spiritual descendants of 16th century Anglicans who chose not to choose between being catholic and protestant in the 16th century … a seemingly impossible thing when people were burning each other at the stake over theological differences. Claiming that DNA of Anglican comprehensiveness, we are uniquely wired as a community of faith to offer an antidote of hope and joy to the destructive and pervasive narratives of anxiety and fear that fuel division and polarization in our church, our nation and our world.

We are convinced that claiming that core piece or our Anglican identity will equip us to do the work of bridging the differences that challenge us as 21st century disciples … whether theological or political; cultural or generational or any other category that threatens to divide us.

Our initial task is to pull together a diverse team of leaders from around the diocese who will begin work on a process of collaborating and collating: doing an inventory of what programs, projects and initiatives are already in place doing this core Gospel work of reaching across difference and imagining together what we can create to both amplify the existing work and create new opportunities that don't yet exist.

Presiding Bishop Michel Curry offered these remarks to our Executive Council a few months ago and they remain words that are germane not only to our One in the Spirit initiative but to our work in the world in this time of conflict, division and polarization.
The United States is being torn asunder within by the inability to be in deep relationship with each other and yet hold differing positions and convictions. And the test of this democratic experiment will be the capacity of this particular nation to hold differences in the context of deep and real human relationships. I really believe that Jesus was right. That the Way of Love, doesn't mean the way of agreement. But it means the capacity to love each other, and therefore, to seek the good together. Whether we agree or disagree.

This is the democratic experiment; this is not just religious platitude. Dr. King once said, “History is replete with the bleached bones of civilizations that have refused to listen to Jesus who said 'love your enemies, bless those who curse you.'” We must not become a valley of dry bones. And frankly, the only way is the way of love. There is no other way. And maybe, this wonderful little church of ours, can offer that -- This Way of Love -- to the body politic. Not for partisan ends … but to change how we relate to each other as human beings. And then we will see what happens.
Together we will see what happens here in the Diocese of Los Angeles as One inthe Spirit draws us even more fully into our call to be beacons of God’s love, justice and compassion in our beautiful and broken world.

Friday, February 14, 2020

"notification of successful canonical consent process"

They came in side-by-side into my inbox yesterday so that's how I saw them as I was drinking my morning coffee.

They were just a routine set of emails ... the kind I've gotten dozens of during my decades at work in the Episcopal Fields of the Lord ... from our Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs notifying us that two dioceses -- Missouri and Lexington -- had received the necessary canonical consents to their recent elections of new bishops.


And ... I sat there for a minute staring at the subject lines before opening them -- wanting to just savor the moment and not lose sight of just how much this very ordinary, first-thing-in-the-morning email on a routine matter of church bureaucracy would have been unimaginable just a few years ago. And inconceivable a few decades ago.

It was another one of those moments when I thought of the words of George Regas ... who famously challenged us to "set audacious goals and to celebrate incremental victories."

We cannot yet say that we have reached the audacious goal of the full inclusion of all the baptized in all the sacraments when some dioceses still create separate and inherently unequal standards for access to the sacrament of marriage for same-sex couples and others still discriminate against LGBTQ people in the ordination process.

And yet the incremental victory of the election of Deon Johnson as the Bishop of Missouri is one to be celebrated. Deon is a awesomely faithful priest, pastor and person who will make a brilliant bishop ... and when he is consecrated on April 25th, he will among other things become the fifth openly LGBTQ bishop in the Episcopal Church.

Some of us lived through the height of the Inclusion Wars and the high drama of the constant threats of being voted off the Anglican Island (not to mention the Lake of Fire, which was also on our threat list) for the election of Gene Robinson as the Bishop of New Hampshire in 2003-- and we took our share of licks here in the Diocese of Los Angeles when we elected Bishop Suffragan Mary Glasspool in 2009.

And so the fact that Deon was elected Bishop of Missouri because the good people of Missouri and the Holy Spirit decided he was the right person for the job is one thing to celebrate -- but the fact that the wider church consents were received with dispatch and the news came in a regular old email just like it was the most ordinary thing in the world is absolutely an incremental victory also worth pausing to celebrate.

So congratulations, Diocese of Missouri. And Diocese of Lexington, too. Wishing you all nothing but best blessings as you begin new chapters of mission and ministry in your corners of the kingdom.

And we continue as a whole church toward that audacious goal of full inclusion, let's give thanks for all who have gone before us ... some of whom did not live long enough to get perfectly routine emails in their inbox like the ones I got yesterday. May their memories be for blessing ... and may we be given the grace continue the struggle until the work is finally done.





Monday, February 10, 2020

Nobody Is Electable Until We Elect Them


It is the eve of the New Hampshire primary. We are months away from November 3, 2020 -- arguably the most important General Election in our lifetimes -- with the Iowa Caucus Debacle still in the rear view mirror and the most ubiquitous question on every platform, in every interview and from every pundit discussing the Democratic field is "Which candidate is the electable one?"

And that question is inevitably followed by a laundry list of reasons why every single candidate is unelectable ... sending shivers of fear down spines and inspiring pearl clutching immobilization on the part of a large percentage of the still-traumatized by 2016 Democratic electorate.

And since I've personally been guilty of all of the above, I wanted to take a minute to share this twitter exchange that snapped me out of it.


What Brad said.

The antidote to being immobilized over the question of which candidate is the electable one is to be more in love with the consequences of the upcoming election than with any particular candidate. To let the primary process play itself out. To campaign for, give to and support the candidate of your choice and then campaign for, give to and support whoever the nominee ends up being. Ignore the pundits and click bait and doomsayers and pearl clutchers. Focus on organizing, mobilizing, unifying ... and hydrating.

Remember 2018 and the Midterms. Remember there are more of us than there are of them and undivided we really are a Blue Wave that can be the change we want to see. But most of all, remember that every single candidate is unelectable -- until we get behind them and elect them.

Thursday, February 06, 2020

Dear Bonnie,

Dear Bonnie,

It is Thursday before your Saturday consecration as the 11th Bishop of Michigan and I'm sitting here with my morning coffee feeling a bunch of feels.

I'm feeling delighted for the Diocese of Michigan in specific and the Episcopal Church in general as we gain a awesome addition to our House of Bishops -- and I'm feeling challenged by how far we have yet to go until that House genuinely reflects the diversity of our Big Fat Episcopal Family.

I'm feeling sad that I won't be there in person to celebrate -- and I'm feeling grateful for both the great cloud of witnesses who will be gathering and for having lived long enough that live-streaming is a thing and we can be part of the digital-congregation celebrating out here on the Left Coast.

And I'm feeling nostalgic. Having spent some time digging through an archive of old pictures this morning, I'm remembering a long list of milestones we've had the privilege of sharing along the way to this big day; good times and bad times; steps forward and steps back; a lot of water under a lot of bridges on the journey.

I'm remembering the year you led the conga line around the floor of the House of Deputies, introducing the budget to the tune "You Can't Always Get What You Want." And I'm remembering the dour senior clergywoman who was not only not amused ... but who shook her head and said what a shame it was Bonnie Perry had just lost any hope of every being elected as a bishop. (Shows how much she knew!)

I'm remembering the crazy wild ride of 2003 when we all worked together to secure consents to the Gene's election in New Hampshire ... and then hung together to weather the storm that followed. I'm remembering when you hosted the steering committee of Claiming the Blessing at All Saints in Chicago in January and had to explain to me that "Yes, 1 is actually a temperature around here." I'm remembering when you and Thomas teamed up as the floor managers in the House of Deputies as we fought off the push back during the height of the Inclusion Wars.

I'm remembering both the devastation of the adoption of B033 in 2006 and the work you helped drive with the Chicago Consultation to move the Episcopal Church beyond being blackmailed into bigotry by those using the lives and vocations of the LGBTQ faithful as bargaining chips in a game of global Anglican politics.

And I'm remembering the unmitigated joy we shared in Salt Lake City in 2015 as the Supreme Court decision brought civil marriage equality to our country and the General Convention brought canonical marriage equality to our church. (Look at those faces!)


In an Instagram post this morning our sister Becca Stevens wrote "I've been a minister for 28 years now. And sometimes I really do believe it's all about the hokey pokey. The answer to the questions about how we live into our faith is to put our whole selves in."

And so with all the remembering, what I'm remembering most is how fully and completely you have put your whole self into all of it.

The ups and the downs ... the battles and the celebrations ... the conga lines and the caucus fights ... as a priest and pastor, as a rector and reconciler -- 100% all the time. And what I'm rejoicing in on this Thursday morning before the Saturday of your consecration is how you will continue to put your whole self in as a Bishop in the Church of God -- and how we will all be blessed by that.

George Regas ... our rector emeritus here at All Saints in Pasadena and one of the valiant allies in the struggle for both women's ordination and LGBTQ inclusion ... famously challenged us to "set audacious goals and to celebrate incremental victories.

In these dark and challenging times we need to celebrate those incremental victories more than ever as we work to dismantle oppression in all its forms and strive to respect the dignity of every single human being. And so on Saturday, February 8 we will pause for a moment in the struggle to celebrate with the good people of the Diocese of Michigan the incremental victory for love, justice and compassion of your consecration as their 11th Bishop.

Bonnie, you're going to be a great bishop ... and I'm so very proud to know you and call you friend.

All best blessings,
Susan