Thursday, October 12, 2006

Makes the Heart So VERY Sad!

The following comment was posted today in response to the NPR Morning Edition story about two women celebrating 40 years of living happily ever after:

I noticed in the obituaries that Dana Rose, a 52 year-old priest in the Diocese of Newark died in August. He was active in The Oasis, the AIDS Resource Center, and an AIDS bereavement program in NYC that he founded called CenterBridge. Can anyone here tell me/us whether his death was due to AIDS? -- Tony Seel

Words failedme in trying to understand why lies behind this question about the passing of brother priest on this post about two women celebrating decades of living happily ever after. My initial instinct was to "moderate" it (AKA delete it) but decided to do some research instead.

A colleague pointed me to this post on the Stand Firm site which read: "

The Living Church reports in its obituaries (10/22/06, p. 28) that a 52-year-old priest died recently in the Diocese of Newark. There is no mention of his illness, but it does say that he was the education coordinator for The Oasis, a ministry of the diocese to gays. It also says that he was project director for the congregational training programs at the AIDS Resource Center and that he founded CenterBridge, an AIDS bereavement program in NYC. I know that we can’t assume that he died of AIDS, but I am guessing that it was his life-giving lifestyle that did him in. How sad."

And I was able to point the poster (The Reverend Tony Seel of St. Andrew's in Vestal NY) via email to the moving tribute to Dana Rose's life and ministry posted in August by the ever-eloquent Elizabeth Kaeton and his response was:

Thank you; I went to the tribute, but my question wasn't answered there. Did he die from AIDS?

Words still fail me in trying to understand such narrow obsession about why someone died rather than how they lived (and for the record, I don't have any information about Dana's HIV/AIDS status).

But re-reading about all that Dana was and did and offered to this hurting world was in itself an answer of love and service outliving the slings and arrows of those who are determined to tear down rather than build up. And if it truly comes to a "Choose This Day" moment it is getting easier and easier with every day to choose the Gospel of love lived and served by priests like Dana and let those who choose otherwise to walk apart with their snide certitude. Which isn't to say it doesn't make the heart sad so to do. Very sad.

22 comments:

Christine said...

moving post and so true. thank you.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

I found Tony's email address and this is what I wrote to him directly this morning:

Dana Rose passed peacefully from this earthly realm and now rests eternally in the unconditionally loving arms of his Savior. Like many African Americans, he struggled most of his adult life with hypertension which was complicated by diabetes. This lead to kidney failure which resulted in his untimely death at age 52.

Yes, Dana was an honestly, openly gay man. But he was neither HIV positive nor had AIDS. Not every gay man is infected. The virus that causes AIDS does not discriminate in terms of gender, age, race, ethnicity, country of origin, class or educational status or sexual orientation. AIDS is an equal-opportunity disease.

Indeed, gay men are, in the large, global picture, a very small percentage of those infected in the AIDS pandemic. You, no doubt, are keenly aware that globally, it is heterosexual men who infect women with impunity, who then give birth to infected newborns.

Indeed, one of the most heinous situations of the pandemic is the combination of the HIV virus with ignorance and superstition, resulting in the rape of young girls and Roman Catholic nuns because the belief is that having sex with a virgin will cure the disease.

Furthermore, I am absolutely certain that, as a good bible-believing Christian man who is a member of the World-Wide Anglican Communion, you are doing everything you possibly can to help stem the rising tide of this pandemic.

I know that besides tithing at your church, you are contributing generously to the Millennium Development Goals.

I'm sure you are also saving up your pennies to be able to afford a mission trip to a country in the Global South where you may be of some direct, hands-on assistance to our sisters and brothers who are part of what has become, in effect, a medical genocide.

May God bless you in all of the good works of ministry and mission which you do in the Blessed Name of Jesus.

Bruce Garner said...

Tony, please explain to me what possible difference it could make if Dana died from AIDS? Did that impact his ministry? Did it make him any less a human being, any less a child of God? Do you inquire about the cause of death of everyone or just gay men? What is your real interest in this?

Bruce Garner, Atlanta

... said...

Since the post where the comments appeared was caused by my own gaff, I feel the need to add a point of clarification here.

The comments of which Susan is speaking appeared following a post of Matt Kennedy's wherein he took great pleasure in casting aspersions on both The Episcopal Majority and a local youth group called Growing American Youth (G.A.Y.). Mr. Kennedy decided, based on the links appearing on TEM's site, that TEM is slanted toward support for homosexuals. (I'm being kinder than he was, to be sure).

Well, the links that appeared on TEM's site were MY links that, in my haste to get something put together for TEM, I got mixed up with the set of links I'd been working on for TEM. (side note: I am the webmaster/site admin for TEM). I'd been assembling links for my blog and for TEM, and I got them bunched together, then posted them to TEM's site. In other words, I goofed and posted stuff to TEM's site that didn't belong there. I've since corrected the mistake.

So, for the record:

The links that had appeared on TEM's site, and have removed (but remain viewable in cache) do not necessarily represent the viewpoint of The Episcopal Majority, were not approved by the TEM Steering Committee, and were a careless mistake on the part of TEM's webmaster. We are in the process of assembling a more useful and representative set of links and these will be posted to the site in good time.

Jeffrey

Matt Kennedy said...

Jeffrey,

I did not write the article to which you refer. It was authored by Greg Griffith.

In Christ,
Matt Kennedy+

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Actually, I think this nasty boy ought to be reported to his bishop.

Doesn't this constitute "behavior unbecoming a priest?"

Doesnt' this merit at least a "godly admonition" from his "Father in God"?

Tony Seel said...

I was trying to understand whether he died from his life-giving lifestyle. As I said to Elizabeth privately, it stands to reason that 95% of the population would have more cases and deaths from any disease. What might be illuminating would be to see what percentage of each population is infected. As I also said, it is said that women are too often the victims of the risky behavior of their men.

Tony Seel said...

And Elizabeth is in no position to be commenting on what I write in light of what she writes on her blog(and where is the inclusive and tolerant love of diversity?). Elizabeth, how judgemental on your part.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Tony,

No comparison. None whatsoever.

I dare you to find one instance, just one, where anyone - including me - from the liberal/progressive side of the church has done anything as heinous as trying to smear the name of a brother priest who has died.

This is lower than low. Snake belly low. Lower than whale turd low.

And, from a priest!

You attempt to defend yourself by saying that you were "trying to understand if he died from his lifegiving lifestyle . . ."

You lost me at "lifegiving lifestyle," pal.

Dana didn't have a lifestyle. He had a life. I don't see one shred of evidence on any webpage of your having anywhere near the ministry Dana had.

You should pray to be half the priest Dana was.

Dana was my friend. A good friend. And, a good priest who did more to relieve the suffering of others in the midst of a modern plague than most priests I know.

Even when he was falsely accused, he never waivered in his works of corporal mercy, gentle kindness, or generous forgiveness.

I will miss him forever.

And as for your vapid argument about tolerance and inclusivity, let me say this as clearly as I can:

No Christian anywhere ought to have any tolerance for bigotry and hateful prejudice. There is no room in the Household of God for such toxic waste.

None at all.

You pervert the inclusivity and tolerance which are the cornerstones of Anglcian Accomodation.

Judgement? Let me tell you about judement.

You have done less to smear the name of Dana Rose and more to reveal your serious deficiency in pastoral skills and abilities.

You have brought judgement upon yourself.

On behalf of all of those who deeply grieve and morn Dana's passing: Shame on you!

How dare you disturb us in this time of our bereavement.

There can be no better example of Bottom Feeding - even if I tried to create an example of what Ed Friedman taught - than what you have done here.

Shame on you!

Lisa said...

Susan, put your mind at ease. It's really very simple. People like Tony will rejoice in the death of any gay man or lesbian -- from whatever cause. They will attempt to make that person a demon -- even without cause, as Elizabeth's post makes clear. They will vigorously deny the truth that most deaths of AIDS worldwide are caused by heterosexual men and the overwhelming majority of child abuse crimes are perpetrated by heterosexual men. Such facts do not serve their ends, so they will simply lie. Lies are much more effective for them. Yes, they are liars, and the truth is not in them. There really is no point in asking sites like SF for honesty or integrity. They're clueless about the meaning of those words.

Will said...

This heart (mine) ... which only barely has the "nerve" to enter any church in the last few years, has been so very richly blessed to have found a warm and loving welcome in the Episcopal Church. This and other posts by Tony give me a feeling beyond sadness in my heart. I'm at a loss for words, and grateful to those of you who have powerful responses. His taunting hatefulness continues to merely tell me what fear and reaction lies at the core of those who are committed to demeaning, dismissing, and alienating God's beautiful LGBT sons and daughters. As for Fr. Rose ... we can rejoice that he is living in the fulness of eternal life. No more kidney failure or any other physical challenges for him!!

Will

Tony Seel said...

Elizabeth, I am not trying to smear anyone's name. I asked a question. 52 is a young age to die. People with AIDS often die young. My thesis: AIDS effects more homosexuals than heterosexuals when percentage of population is factored in. Dana was a gay man. If you think my thesis is wrong, please disprove it.

Tony Seel said...

Lisa, I don't rejoice in anyone's death, except to say that those who know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior go to a better place. I do wish that gays would find a better life in this place by leaving what is for too many a death-giving lifestyle.

RMF said...

I think Lisa said it best in her post. There are some troubled individuals who bask in anger, outrage and division. We hold out our hands to them in the eternal hope of reconciliation promised and lived by our Lord and Savior.

I suppose when the offered hand is bitten or slapped we are sometimes not surprised; but perhaps we are ashamed (for them) when it is bitten or slapped with such glee and pride.

Pray for the world and thank the Lord He came to show us a better way.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Tony,

You write: "I do wish that gays would find a better life in this place by leaving what is for too many a death-giving lifestyle."

This is the central problem with the neo-Puritans and so-called orthodox Evangelicals: You have a real savior-behavior complex.

The way in which a person lives or dies is simply none of your business. Ultimately, it's between them and God.

Oh, I know the neo-Puritan argument: If you see someone rushing headlong to jump over a cliff, you're going to shout: "Stop."

Well, what you obviously don't know, Tony, is that God is always - ALWAYS - at the bottom of that cliff, ready to catch us.

We who have taken risks for the sake of the Gospel - to live with integrity and authenticity, claiming the fullness of the gifts given to us by God - know this.

It's what compells us to take risks for the sake of the Gospel time and time again.

OH, and in case you've forgotten, we proclaim Jesus as our Savior and Lord - not you or anyone in the AAC or the ACN or the AiMA or even in The Episcopal Church or the Anglican Communion can claim the role of Savior except the One who came for our salvation.

And, lest we forget the context of this issue - you were persistent in knowing the exact cause of Dana's death within the context of a particular thread on SFiF.

You didn't "simply ask." It was hard not to hear the gleeful rubbing together of your hands behind your questions about the cause of Dana's death.

Not even my obituary of Dana, which identified his cause of death as "complications due to hypertension and kidney failure" satisfied you.

You couldn't WAIT to hear an affirmation of your convictions ("hypothesis") that, yet again, here was proof positive that the "gay lifestyle" was "death-giving."

So, yes, you were, in fact, trying to smear Dana's good name. What cowardice not to own up to your own motives - however misguided or cruel.

I'll bet you can even say with a straight face, "I don't hate gay and lesbian people. It's their lifestyles I abhor."

Oh, and about "gay lifestyles": here's one for ya, pal: Read my essay on my blog about my partner and my THIRTY YEARS together.

Here's the real news flash: Ours is not a unique situation.

Not by a long shot.

There are more of us ("more homosexuals than heterosexuals when percentage of population is factored in," to use your standard)who are Christians who really take it seriously that the bible calls us to life-long, faithful, monogamous relationships.

Are there same-sex couples who do not practice these biblical values in their relationships?

Of course.

Are there more - many, many, many more - heterosexual couples who do not practice these biblical values in their relationships?

You bet there are.

I'm willing to bet that even in your tiny little congregation, there are couples who are living together who are not married.

Indeed, when was the last time you presided over the marriage of a couple who had not been living together before marriage?

Does this make it right?

By no means!

The difference is that those of us - gay or straight - who are serious about following Jesus and strive to follow His Way actually struggle to live our lives with conformity to the gospel.

Here's another newsflash for ya, pal: There is no such thing as a "gay lifestyle."

There is only promiscuity which is widely practiced by people of all sexual orientations, as well as religions and creeds.

The difference is the difference that Jesus makes in our lives of faith.

Thomas Merton coined a phrase which I think is applicable to those neo-Puritan, so-called orthodox Evangelical Christians who see it as their business to snoop around in other people's lives and pronounce judgement "for their own good."

It's called: FUNCTIONAL ATHEISM

If you really believe in God and the omnipotent power of God to save lifes, then you wouldn't be so arrogant as to try to do God's work for God.

Let God judge us, as God will most certainly judge you, Tony, for your spiritual arrogance.

Rejoice and be glad that God is far more merciful and forgiving than most of your fellow pilgrims in the ACN, AiMA or AAC.

Meanwhile, get on with the work of mission and ministry, Tony.

Leave us to grieve and morn our dead and take your cruel and purulent curiosity in the lives of LGBT people with you.

I can't imagine even Matt Kennedy, the webmaster of SFiF, parish priest and father of three, being happy about this situation you've created.

Several people over at SFiF have the pastoral heart and moral courage to have criticized you in print for your behavior.

If you won't listen to me, listen to them.

Luiz Coelho said...

"I do wish that gays would find a better life in this place by leaving what is for too many a death-giving lifestyle."

Oh, I really wish that too...

I wish that gay people find the love of their lives and engage themselves in loving long-term relationships, like, for example, this blog's author.

I wish that all gay people take care of their bodies, not having sex without proper protection.

And I am pretty sure that you wanted to say that. This promiscuous lifestyle, which some gays live, is, unfortunately, very death-giving.

But nobody here defends promiscuity...

revsusan said...

Luiz ... AMEN!

Will said...

And ... may I add ... a lifestyle in which a vast number of heterosexuals engage; speaking of that "death-giving lifestyle" that is killing a much higher number of heterosexuals than homosexuals if unbiased WHO figures are to be believed. In my mind there is some irony in the fact that the highest rate of HIV+ infections is taking place on a continent where Fundamentalist religion (both Christian and Islamic) is so very prominent.

Jack said...

Elizabeth, Luiz and Susan,

Wow I continue to be blessed by all of you. Thank you for having the moral courage to speak the truth in love to some of these "haters". It definitely warms this Anglican/Episcopalian Heart way over here in The Diocese of Europe. :)

... said...

Matt: thanks for the correction. I was indeed referring to Greg Griffith's post. My apologies for incorrectly listing you as the author.

... said...

Tony said: "Lisa, I don't rejoice in anyone's death, except to say that those who know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior go to a better place. I do wish that gays would find a better life in this place by leaving what is for too many a death-giving lifestyle."

The only conclusion one can realistically draw from this, Tony, is that you are suggesting that Dana Rose did not know Jesus Christ and Dana has not "gone to a better place" because of his "lifestyle".

I know it may come as old news to most of us, but that admonition about not bearing false witness against our neighbor is still in effect.

The Pilgrim said...

Toewalker said . . . .
"The only conclusion one can realistically draw from this, Tony, is that you are suggesting that Dana Rose did not know Jesus Christ and Dana has not "gone to a better place" because of his "lifestyle".

I know it may come as old news to most of us, but that admonition about not bearing false witness against our neighbor is still in effect."

And so is the admonition in I Corinthian, ch 6 v. 9