Friday, September 06, 2019

Diocesan Dodger Night 2019 #edladodgernight #GoBlue

And it's once again time for Episcopal Night at Dodger Stadium.

Introduced by Bishop Fred Borsch of blessed memory during his tenure as our Bishop Diocesan, for this cradle-Episcopalian/second-generation-Dodger Fan it has for decades now been one of my favorite of all mashups ... getting to root for my team surrounded by Episcopeeps from all around this Big Fat Episcopal Church Family of ours.

I remember bringing my boys when they were kids ... the year Brian caught a foul ball during batting practice and we had Bishop Borsch autograph it for him. (There's a picture of that somewhere in the Episcopal News archives.) I remember schlepping down from Ventura in my St. Paul's days and in from Claremont during seminary and then up from San Pedro.

I remember years when we had huge turnouts and years when it was a faithful remnant. I remember wins and loses and seventh inning stretches and the fun of running into familiar faces in line for Dodger Dogs. And I remember the year I got to be the catcher for Bishop Glasspool's ceremonial first pitch. For this life-long Dodger fan being down on the field was totally a #BucketList item!

And once again tonight is the night.

We'll be taking on the San Francisco Giants (historic rivals!) as we close in on this year's pennant race. Our magic number is 4 (any combination of Dodger wins and Arizona losses will wrap up the National League West race), Kershaw is on the mound and Bishop Taylor will be throwing out the first ceremonial pitch so we are primed for another "best ever" Dio Dodger Night.

I understand there will be about 1200 of us in attendance and am proud that 260 will be from All Saints Church in Pasadena: 160 parish members and 100 scholarship tickets from generous donors for youth in foster care. I've got my jersey on already ... and my Dodger earrings ... and can't wait for game time.

And I was also thinking driving into Echo Park this morning on my way to the office that in some ways what we do when we gather each year for Dio Dodger Night is a tiny icon of the work we're imagining as we build our Engagement Across Difference initiative: One in the Spirit.

Tonight we will be coming together from different congregations, communities, and contexts -- representing different cultures, ethnicities, identities, and orientations -- across economic, political and theological differences -- bound together by our common love of Jesus and baseball.

And if you're a Giant fan ... hey: come on down. There's a Dodger Dog (or equally attractive vegan alternative) with your name on it and may the best team win. Because maybe -- just maybe -- what we need most at this moment in our polarized and divided nation and world is to hold on tight to those moments and opportunities to come together across differences for common goals ... even if it is "just" a baseball game.

So tick-tock game time. See you at the stadium! #edladodgernight #GoBlue

Wednesday, September 04, 2019

And it was morning and it was evening and it was the second day

So here's the view outside my office window as I write this ... on the second day of my tenure as the Canon for Engagement Across Difference for the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles.

I'm looking out at Echo Park and the lake where I used to go paddle boat riding with my dad and brother growing up in L.A. in the 1960s ... at the lawn where I sat with a boatload of other Episcopalians twenty-some years ago now when we broke ground to build this Cathedral Center when Fred Borsch was our bishop 1990s in the ... in a building with a ton of muscle memory of countless meetings, events, liturgies and highs-and-lows over decades of ministry in this diocese of my birth, baptism, confirmation and ordination. And I'm still trying to wrap my head around how I ended up here doing work I couldn't have imagined doing that I can't wait to get started at.

I'm still figuring out logins and logistics as we gear up to begin this new program year and this new initiative which is the brainstorm of our Bishop Diocesan John Taylor ... in his words:

"What we will build together over the next three years is our capacity as a diocese to expand relationships and deepen connections across differences in order to strengthen our shared commitment to follow Jesus. 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."

 “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."

“Ours are 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 in our beautiful and broken world. And we believe that as Anglicans we are uniquely wired to offer an antidote of hope and joy to the destructive and pervasive narratives that fuel division and polarization."

"We remember that we come from spiritual ancestors who found a way to hold together the seemingly irreconcilable tensions of being both catholic and protestant in the 16th century – and we believe that DNA of Anglican comprehensiveness will equip us to do the work of bridging the differences that challenge us as 21st century disciples."


If any of it touches a nerve or stirs an idea or inspires a connection please do reach out. The first phase of this project will be "research and development" so if you have ideas, resources, stories or suggestions email me at srussell@ladiocese.org. This is wild and crazy work to take on in these wild and crazy times in which we live ... and we're going to need lots of wild and crazy people committed to the wild and crazy idea that we can indeed strive for peace and justice while respecting the dignity of absolutely every human being.

“Increase in us true religion” was part of the Collect of the Day that began our worship last Sunday ... a Sunday I had the privilege of being the preacher at All Saints Church in Pasadena, and here's some of what I said. (You can watch and/or read the whole sermon here.) Can't wait to see what Day Three brings!

==========

When we pray for God to increase in us true religion we are asking to be to deployed into the hard, challenging, joyful gospel work of tearing down walls and building bridges; of living out that promise we make to simultaneously strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every single human being … even those whose actions, policies and worldview we deplore.

 It is work we have been committed to for decades in this church and in this diocese and it is work that our bishop John Taylor is calling us to focus on with intentionality as we launch “One in the Spirit” a diocesan initiative with four goals:

• “To live more fully into our baptismal promise to respect the dignity of every human being.
• “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 proclaim in Christ’s name that we will not submit to our era’s epic division and polarization.
• “To feed hearts that are hungry for connection and community in a secularizing, isolating age.”

Starting this week I will be dividing my time between continuing to serve as a member of the All Saints clergy staff team and leading this initiative as a member of the bishop’s staff.

There will be much more to share and explore in the weeks and months ahead but today is a day to rejoice and be glad in this opportunity to make true religion — that which binds together people in their quest for the divine — not just something we pray for once a year but a reality we try to live all year long.

Nobody ever said it was going to be easy.
And yet that is the work we have been given to do.

It is why we gather around the altar table week after week, year after year, to be fed by the holy food and drink of new and unending life — reminding us that it is in the broken that we are made whole and that until all of us are gathered in none of us are truly home.

Reminding us that our true religion — that which binds us together in our search for the divine – is the ligament of love intimately linking us with all creation as we strive to make God’s love tangible in this beautiful and broken world.

Monday, September 02, 2019

United in the Fight Against White Supremacy

So honored to be among the great cloud of witnesses speaking out and working to challenge and dismantle white supremacy.

Here's a great summary video our colleagues at MPAC ... the Muslim Public Affairs Council ... put together of our recent event with Congressman Adam Schiff at All Saints Church. Together we CAN be the change we want to see!

Friday, August 09, 2019

ICYMI ... Countering White Supremacy with Congressman Adam Schiff


Scheduled way back in June, the idea for the event sprang from Capitol Hill testimony of Omar Ricci -- Chairman of the Islamic Center of Southern California -- on the issue of inaction towards white supremacist violence.

After that hearing, Congressman Schiff agreed to participate in a community forum with Omar and MPAC ... and All Saints and IKAR joined as co-sponsors as "a powerful message of our unity against hate." We secured the venue (All Saints Church), recruited a panel of interfaith leaders (Salam Al-Marayati, Andre Henry, Mike Kinman, Omar Ricci, Susan Russell and Brooke Wirtschafter), and issued  joint statement which began: “We must move beyond words, thoughts & prayers and into action.”

Over 600 community members gathered at All Saints Church on Monday, August 5 for a two hour program that included remarks from Congressman Schiff and wide ranging panel discussions and questions from the audience.

You can watch the whole forum here and I hope you will ... it is well worth the time and -- IMHO -- a beacon of hope and encouragement that together we can be the change we want to see.

Monday, August 05, 2019

Countering White Supremacy: Moving from Words to Action

Tonight we welcome Congressman Adam Schiff to All Saints Church for a Community Forum entitled “Countering White Supremacy” – an important and timely conversation exploring how we can combat bigotry and discrimination and promote pluralism, acceptance and freedom for all.

Here's the video clip Rep. Schiff recorded to promote the event:



Scheduled way back in June, the idea for the event sprang from Omar Ricci [Chairman of the Islamic Center] testifying on Capitol Hill in May on the topic of inaction towards white supremacist violence. 

After that hearing, Congressman Schiff agreed to participate in a forum with Omar and MPAC ... and All Saints and IKAR joined as co-sponsors as "a powerful message of our unity against hate."

And so we secured the venue (All Saints Church), recruited a panel of interfaith leaders (Salam Al-Marayati, Andre Henry, Mike Kinman, Omar Ricci, Susan Russell and Brooke Wirtschafter), and issued  joint statement which began: “We must move beyond words, thoughts & prayers and into action.”

And then El Paso happened. And they Dayton happened. And the event we started planning in May took on the fierce urgency of now as we reeled from the toxic combination of unlimited access to automatic weapons in our nation and unleashed white nationalistic venom in our national discourse.

As Mike Kinman said in his comment for our press release this morning:
"We need look no further than this weekend's deadly shootings to know that white supremacy kills. It kills not only with the speed of an AK-47 but slowly through inequalities in opportunity, health care, education and more. With a president whose words and policies embody white supremacy and embolden those who would enforce it at the point of a gun, it is critically important that we come together across faith traditions and with our elected leaders to have action-oriented conversations about changing the direction in which our nation is heading. All Saints Church has always been a place for conversations like that -- and that is why we are hosting this conversation this evening."
So join us if you can. We'll be live streaming from this link ...

Thursday, August 01, 2019

Dem Debate 2.0 Postmortem


From its reality show hype intro to a format that literally pitted candidates against each other with questions baited with GOP talking points CNN did not offer a “debate” designed to help voters understand policy positions and distinctions between candidates ... it orchestrated a set-up to create the click-bait headlines they wanted in the morning: Democrats Deeply Divided.

And that — in a nutshell — is the distillation of the disease that infects our American body politic: exploiting differences into division in order to divide and conquer the majority into polarized cells and inhibit their capacity to challenge the dismantling of our democracy before our very eyes.

We have to be smarter than that. #organize
We have to be better than that. #mobilize
We have to be the change we want to see. #unify

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Remembering My Republican Daddy


I didn't remember that yesterday was the anniversary of my dad's passing until quite late in the day -- but when I did remember it made perfect sense that he'd been on my mind all day as I watched the chaos unfold in the Washington and kept shaking my head at what he would make of what had happened to his Republican Party. 

My dad -- Bill Brown -- was born in 1913 in Atlantic City ... the seventh of seven children ... into a family context that Daddy described as "episodically advantaged." His father ran "legitimate theaters" and at 16 -- as the Depression gripped the nation -- young Bill left school to make it on his own as an usher in "Roxie's Army" at the Radio City Music Hall.

A few years later he headed west and ended up at the Los Angeles Theater in downtown L.A. ... one of the great old movie palaces ... where he became the manager in the late 1930's ... and where he was working when, as he told it, the Japanese had the gall to bomb Pearl Harbor on his 28th birthday and so he signed up.

He served in the army in Burma, India and China as newsreel photographer and then returned to the L.A. and "theater biz" after the war ... where he met my mom ... who had come west from Minnesota and was the head usherette at the grand old theater.

I grew up thinking what daddies did when they went to work was wear a tuxedo and stand in the lobby to greet patrons. Daddy never saw a room he couldn't work ... never met someone he wasn't interested in talking to ... and he modeled a deep respect and curiosity about people and places that was one of his great legacies. That and a great tolerance for differences -- respectfully offered -- that was a hallmark of my growing up.

Daddy was a "Goldwater Republican" with strongly held opinions -- and as I turned out to have some pretty strong opinions of my own we had lots of "spirited conversations." I remember friends in college being amazed that I could actually go toe-to-toe with my dad about ... well, George McGovern comes to mind! ... but Daddy was convinced that encouraging us to think for ourselves was part of his job. Love and acceptance in my family wasn't conditioned on agreeing with each other ... and I think maybe that's one of the greatest gifts he gave us.

Daddy retired in 1977 and he and my mom had ten years of traveling, golfing, and grandparenting.  He died in the summer of 1988. After months of failing health he was ready, he said, to "pack it in" when he could no longer even follow his beloved Dodgers or swing a golf club. A lot has happened since then and I wish he'd been here to see it all.

Well, most of it.

I wish he'd been able to see his grandkids grow up.

I wonder if he'd have been as surprised as my mom was that I ended up a priest and I can only imagine how much fun he would have had with digital photography.

And then there's all he'd have to say about what has happened to the Republican Party he valued so much -- and about the fight we're in to save the democracy he enlisted to defend when it was under attack in 1941.

I can only imagine that he'd sign up for the fight again in 2019 -- and so it seems that the best way to continue his legacy is to go and do likewise.

La lucha continua. Miss you, Daddy!