Thursday, June 25, 2009


I grew up in a family where pride was problematic.

Maybe it was because my mom was from Minnesota where “getting too big for your britches” is still a felony, not just a misdemeanor.

Or maybe it was my dad’s New England practicality and down-to-earthedness that didn’t leave much room for what he called “blowing your own horn.”

Whatever the cause, it’s taken me a good long while to get to the place where I recognize that there are indeed times and places where a modicum of pride is not only acceptable but appropriate. And this is one of those times.

But let’s start with The Gospel According to Merriam-Webster:

PRIDE: the quality or state of being proud:
a: inordinate self-esteem : conceit
b: a reasonable or justifiable self-respect
c: delight or elation arising from some act, possession, or relationship

While “a” is NOT what I’m talking about, I have experienced plenty of both “b & c” in response to the All Saints vestry’s June 2nd resolution declaring: “that the sacramental right of marriage is available to all couples, but that the clergy of All Saints Church will not sign civil marriage certificates so long as the right to marry is denied to same-sex couples.”

Here are a couple of examples. The first one is a comment on the blog I wrote the day after the vestry resolution taking All Saints out of the civil marriage business:

Dear Rev. Russell,
Every time I hear anything about All Saints Pasadena, I feel proud to be a Christian (which can be hard sometimes considering some of what goes on in the name of Christ). This resolution is one more of those things. I don't know how it is possible that I can feel so connected to a church when I haven't even been in the building, but I imagine it might have something to do with the Holy Spirit. Thank you, thank all of you, so much. I hope that you wonderful people at All Saints know what a blessing you are to so many.
Signed: Katie B

And the second is from an interview I gave to one of the reporters who called for background about the story: Every time I think I couldn’t be more proud to be part of All Saints Church, something like this vestry resolution happens and I’m reminded all over again what a privilege it is to be part of a congregation that has prophetic witness in its DNA.

That’s right: I’m proud. It is pride that includes reasonable and justifiable gratitude for leadership that actually leads – that is committed to being a head light and not a tail light on the issue of marriage equality. It is pride that arouses both delight and elation at the privilege of putting faith in action in a way that makes God’s love tangible 24/7. And it is pride that goes not before “a fall” but goes after a step forward on that arc of history we keep being told bends toward justice.


SCG said...

You have every right to be proud of this!
In fact, this resolution was met with delighted surprise in a gathering of queer and straight artists in Tallahassee, FL, many of whom are convinced that Christianity is a form of fascism (sigh!). So the continued prophetic witness of All Saints *is* noted, and celebrated, in other corners of the country.
Thank you!

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

While definition (a) is definitely a spiritual problem, I have come to know that 'hubris' is also a construct of patriarchy. For some, the larger spiritual problem is lack of pride, aka 'shame' aka 'low self esteem'. Forty years after Stonewall, it is well nigh time to turn 'shame' on its head and be proud of what God hath made, and all that we do in the name of the goodness of God's creation. In the words of Bishop Steve Charleston, "No more victims. No more. No more."