Saturday, October 31, 2009
"Where does he stand on 'your issues,'" I was asked a little while ago ... as it became clear that his election was likely.
"Which one of "my issues" are you asking about?" I asked back. (Still feeling a little contrary since the Dodgers aren't in the World Series.)
"You mean "my issues" of proclaiming the Good News of God in Christ Jesus -- or "my issues" of protecting the dignity of every human being -- or of striving for peace and justice -- of serving the least, the last and the lost? Which "issues" do you want to start with?"
When asked about ministry with the marginalized, including the LGBT community, bishop-elect Prior replied, [from the DioMN website candidate Q&A page] "The amount of work and witness still needed to combat the lack of respect for the dignity of every human being is unquestionably clear.
[In seminary] the core Gospel justice value of inclusion became a theological priority. Consistently since that time I have worked to challenge systems that at best marginalize, and at worst outright exclude others based on race, gender, sexual orientation or age. The foundational question that I always ask those I serve with is this: who is not, and why are they not, at the table."
So ... would I have loved to have had the Diocese of Minnesota send a woman or LGBT bishop to the House of Bishops? Absolutely. When faced with equally qualified candidates for any leadership position I believe it behooves those with the power to do so to exercise a preferential option for the under-represented and to bring those without power to the table.
Nevertheless ... I believe at this point in the life of the church it is a sign of GREAT good news that a diocese has had the opportunity to choose from a slate of qualified candidates the one they and the Holy Spirit have discerned to be the BEST bishop to lead them into God's future. A slate that included men and women, gay and straight, Anglo and Native American. This is our Episcopal Church at its best.
The Diocese of Minnesota has elected a new bishop. Let us rejoice and be glad with them!
"When told the reason for daylight saving time, the old Indian said ... ‘Only a white man would believe that you could cut a foot off the top of a blanket and sew it to the bottom of a blanket and have a longer blanket.’"
~ From a Lakota website (via Facebook)
Bishop Burt was buried yesterday in Marquette, Michigan. We (All Saints Church) were ably represented by both our rector and rector emeritus. And we (All Saints Church) continue to be blessed by the work and witness of John Harris Burt all these many years after he left us to go be Bishop of Ohio -- where he exercised a prophetic and visionary ministry that helped continue to move this Episcopal Church forward on that arc of history that we are told bends toward justice.
By Elaine Woo -- October 30, 2009 [source link]
John Harris Burt, a retired bishop who advanced a tradition of social activism at Pasadena’s All Saints Episcopal Church with his bold support of the civil rights movement when he was rector in the 1960s, died Oct. 20 at his home on Lake Superior outside Marquette, Mich. He was 91.
Burt died after a long illness, said his daughter Susan Burt.
A friend of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., Burt helped organize massive civil rights rallies in Los Angeles, including a 1963 event in South Los Angeles that attracted 30,000 people. He also was a vocal supporter of Cesar Chavez and the farmworkers movement.
Burt was one of four rectors "who really shaped All Saints to be a peace and justice church," said Rector J. Edwin Bacon, who currently leads the Pasadena church, one of Southern California's largest and most liberal.
It is known for its outspoken clergy and the strong stands it has taken against war, poverty and racial and ethnic discrimination over the last seven decades, beginning in 1942 when Rector Frank Scott stood in front of trains to protest the removal of Japanese Americans to internment camps during World War II.
Burt, who succeeded Scott in 1957, became known over the next decade for his courageous support of King.
In 1963, Burt sat in the first row behind the lectern at South L.A.'s Wrigley Field (later demolished), where King addressed what was then the largest civil rights rally held in the city. It raised thousands of dollars to support King's nonviolent crusade against racial inequality in the South, including a $20,000 pledge by entertainer Sammy Davis Jr., one of several celebrities who spoke at the rally.
In 1964, he again sat behind King as the great civil rights leader addressed 15,000 people at the Coliseum for an interfaith rally called "Religious Witness for Human Dignity."
His vocal backing of King caused some worshipers to leave All Saints; an anonymous caller threatened to bomb Burt's house. When a group of church trustees asked him to stop preaching about racial issues, "he said he was always open for people to come and share their dissent with him, but the pulpit at All Saints is free," said George F. Regas, who succeeded him as rector.
He believed that so strongly that he "felt obligated the next Sunday to preach on racial justice," Regas noted.
Burt was born April 11, 1918, in Marquette, where his father, Bates Burt, was a community activist and rector of St. Paul's Episcopal Church. John's younger brother, Alfred S. Burt, became a famous composer of Christmas carols, including "Caroling Caroling" and "Some Children See Him."
John Burt graduated from Amherst College in 1940. After postgraduate studies at Columbia University and a stint as a social worker on New York's Lower East Side, he entered the Episcopal Theological Seminary in Virginia and was ordained in 1943.
During World War II he served as a Navy chaplain in the Pacific theater. After the war, he served at St. John's Episcopal Church in Youngstown, Ohio, where he helped lead efforts to integrate swimming pools and housing.
In 1957, he arrived at All Saints in Pasadena, where he was active in civic matters as president of the Pasadena Community Planning Council. He also was president of the Southern California Council of Churches and vice chairman of the United Nations Assn. of Southern California.
In 1967, he became the eighth bishop of Ohio. An early advocate for the ordination of women, he vowed to resign as bishop if the Episcopal General Convention failed to approve the ordination of female priests in 1976. The measure succeeded, and in early 1977, Burt ordained the first of eight women he would elevate to the priesthood during his 17-year tenure as bishop.
In 1978, he helped found a coalition of ecumenical and political leaders to keep steel plants open in Youngstown, with proposals that included allowing workers to buy the mills. The effort failed, but his advocacy earned him the prestigious Thomas Merton Award, which had previously been given to activists Dorothy Day, Joan Baez and Dick Gregory.
After retiring in 1984, Burt remained active in the ecumenical movement as president of the National Christian Leadership Conference for Israel from 1992 to 1998.
He is survived by his wife, Martha; four daughters; six grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.
Friday, October 30, 2009
Read the rest of David's inspiring sermon here.
Watch for election results from Minnesota tomorrow here.
Pray with the Diocese of Minnesota and all who seek God's will for their lives & ministries:
Gracious God, you give light and life to your people. You guide us in pathways of renewal and transformation. Light the way before us now, as we discern and choose the ninth bishop of the Diocese of Minnesota. May we find a pastor who will lead us in hope, challenge us to ever greater faithfulness, and equip us with love for mission and ministry in the church and in the world. We pray in thanksgiving for your guiding presence and your grace, in the Name of Jesus our Savior. Amen.
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Here are the remarks President Obama made a few minutes ago following the signing of the Matthew Shepard/James Byrd Hate Crime Prevention Act into law.
"After more than a decade of delay, we have passed inclusive hate crimes legislation to help protect our citizens from violence based on what they look like, who they love, how they pray or who they are."
"As a nation we've come far on the journey toward a more perfect union and today we're taking another step forward."
He described hate crimes as "... crimes that are meant not only to break bones but to break spirits, not only to inflict harm but to inspire fear. We understand that the rights afforded every citizen under our Constitution mean nothing if we do not protect those rights from unjust laws and violent acts and we understand how necessary this law continues to be."
You can watch the whole statement here on YouTube ... and you can email the White House and thank President Obama for his actions today here.
We pray for victims of hate crimes;
for those who have been targets of violence
just because of who they are;
for their families and all who grieve for them.
We give thanks for all those who have
labored, lobbied and prayed
for inclusive federal hate crimes legislation
and for the Hate Crime Prevention Act
signed into law today.
Bless us, we pray, with the knowledge
that we are secure in your love;
that we can make a difference;
that you call us always to seek and serve Christ in all persons
and to respect the dignity of every human being.
And may the peace the world cannot give
reign in our hearts always.
More than 1 million emails/faxes and phone calls sent to Capitol Hill since 2002 in support of hate crimes legislation;
More than 300 organizations (civil rights, religious, law enforcement, etc) who signed on in support of the Matthew Shepard Act;
86,582 total hate crimes reported since the introduction of the first hate crimes bill on November 13, 1997. Of that reported number, 13,528 of those hate crimes have been based on sexual orientation.
14 floor votes in the House and the Senate over twelve years to finally get the bill to the President's desk;
At least 26 states whose Attorneys General have supported the hate crimes bill since its' introduction;
1 President who was an early supporter of hate crimes legislation; 1 who did all he could to stop a hate crimes law for the LGBT community and 1 who signed it into law.
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
She will be the first woman ordained to the priesthood in the history of the Fort Worth diocese, which was founded in 1983. The Rev. Ms. Slaughter also will be the first woman rector of a parish in the diocese. The Episcopal Church approved women’s ordination to the priesthood and episcopate in 1976 and the first women were ordained priests in January 1977.
More about that later.
The point of this blog post is not prayers we'll offer tomorrow. It is Google searches we made yesterday.
Thinking that we should come up with a suggested prayer for the occasion, I did what all lazy liturgists do ... looked for a wheel to reinvent. And so did a "Google Search" for "prayer hate crimes" ... thinking I'd come up with some language to help get the prayer-writing-process moving.
If all I knew about Christians from what I Googled on hate crimes I'd come away thinking that all they cared about was keeping gay men and lesbians, transgendered folk, women and the disabled from having the same protection from hate motivated violence as this nation has provided for those targeted because of race, religion or national origin.
Monday, October 26, 2009
That was then:
My son Jamie is currently serving on active duty in Iraq. One of the core American values he was raised to embrace -- and he understands himself to be defending -- is our pledge to be a nation of "liberty and justice for all." I believe these important pieces of legislation will help move us AS a nation toward that long dreamed of goal – that dream of liberty and justice my son and so many other brave Americans in harm's way have sworn to preserve and protect.
We are not yet that nation when the liberty to walk safely on the streets of America protected from bias motivated violence is not yet available to ALL Americans: passing the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act will bring us one step closer to "liberty for all."
We are not yet that nation when in thirty-three states a hardworking American can be subject to the injustice of losing their job solely because of their sexual orientation or gender identity; passing the Employment Non-Discrimination Act will bring us another step closer to "justice for all."
One of the primary tenets of all religious faiths is to love your neighbor as yourself and as a Christian I follow a Lord who called us to minister unto the needs of "the least of these" as we live out our call to do justice and to love mercy in His Name. These are the Traditional Christian Values I claim as an advocate for these critical pieces of legislation today.
Martin Luther King Jr. famously said, “Justice deferred is justice denied.” Extending hate crimes protection to include sexual orientation or gender identity is the right thing to do and now is the time to do it. Ending workplace discrimination is the right thing to do and now is the time to do it. Thank you.
This is now:
You'll want to click here to listen to the interview and hear Jim be his usual faithful, on-message-for-Jesus self, but if you need to save that treat for a little later, here's the core message we all would do well to internalize:
Sunday, October 25, 2009
Of course in the cosmic scheme of things, it's a matter of small annoyance that jamming these behemoths into spaces designed for bona fide "compacts" means right-up-to-the line pushes the car next to it right OVER the line and eventually we run out of usable spaces for the aforementioned bona fide compacts to park.
Maybe there's an analogy in there somewhere about sustainability, interconnectedness and respect for neighbor -- but to be totally honest, today it was all about trying to find a parking space on Sunday afternoon.
And now that I've gotten that off my chest, I'm going to go get myself in the correct frame of mind to enjoy seeing Linda Ronstadt in concert at the Universal Amphitheatre tonight.
Grace abounds -- even when parking spaces do not!
Saturday, October 24, 2009
October 24, 2009
This week's announcement that the Roman Catholic Church will welcome disaffected Anglicans en masse is of primary interest to members of the two Christian communions. But this religious realignment is also a reminder to supporters of equality for women and gays and lesbians that they must literally preach to the converted if they are to win believers to their cause.
Pope Benedict XVI has offered the Anglicans a special status within Catholicism that will preserve their traditions and allow married Anglican priests to continue their ministry. Those likely to accept are animated by opposition to innovations including the ordination of an openly gay bishop in the United States, blessings for same-sex couples in Canada and the Church of England's decision to allow female bishops.
Not every dissatisfied Anglican will change churches. Nor will this development drown out voices within the Roman Catholic Church favoring full participation by women and homosexuals. But Benedict's action is part of a formidable religious backlash against gay rights that isn't confined to the pulpit; witness the lobbying by some religious leaders against same-sex civil marriages.
Under the 1st Amendment, churches in this country can't be forced to alter their doctrine or to stop preaching against the supposed immorality of homosexuality. Even so, supporters of gay rights in particular -- many of them Christians -- should try to dispel the notion that belief in God is incompatible with full equality for gays and lesbians.
Now as before the pope's action, Christians can be reminded -- as they have been by both Anglican and Catholic theologians -- that Jesus said nothing about homosexuality and that church leaders, including popes, have changed their thinking over the years about everything from usury to the culpability of Jews for the Crucifixion to the desirability of religious tolerance. You don't have to be Catholic (or Anglican) to realize that society as a whole would be better off if the church's views of women and gays underwent a similar evolution.
And let the people say "AMEN!" ... AND let the people take a minute to write a letter to editor of the Los Angeles Times -- affirming their editorial position and pointing out -- once again -- that those seeking communities of faith proclaiming love, justice, compassion and inclusion can FIND them ... because our welcome mat is open to all!
Thank you for your 10/24 editorial “Courting Anglicans” – in particular for the conclusion, “… society as a whole would be better off if the church's views of women and gays underwent a similar evolution.” Ironically, the Vatican’s “courting Anglicans” statement was released just days after the announcement of a Vatican sponsored celebration of the work of Galileo. Maybe it will take the Vatican less than 400 years to “evolve” to the right side of history on gender and sexual orientation equality. We can hope. But AS an Anglican – the kind staying in the Anglican Communion, not the “disaffected” kind – the good news for me and my congregation is that there ARE churches where that evolution has and is happening. The other good news is that those congregations are growing – and the door is open for all who wish to come and be part of an inclusive community to come and experience God’s love.
The Reverend Canon Susan Russell
Christine was a valiant Integrity ally and was one of the deacons at the Integrity Eucharist in Anhaeim. (pictured below) Many of you will remember her joyful procession of the gospel book during that wonderful celebration.
Survivors include her brother, Richard (Martha) Nevarrez and their children and a stepdaughter and her family. Her husband predeceased her.
Requiem Eucharist and interment will be held at Church of the Transfiguration, 1881 South First Ave, Arcadia, on Saturday, October 24 at 10 a.m. Clergy: white stoles.
Nevarrez was raised up for diaconal ministry from the Church of the Transfiguration and served there after her ordination while continuing to work as a legal secretary and administrator. She was especially interested in pastoral visitation and was a leader of Transfiguration's English as a Second Language classes and Bible study for the growing Chinese-speaking community in Arcadia.
She periodically served as a deacon for diocesan services at the ProCathedral of St. John in Los Angeles and worked with Bishop Suffragan Chester Talton on a discernment committee for deacons. She was also a volunteer supervisor in the House of Deputies at General Convention in Anaheim last July.
Nevarrez, who was born on June 24, 1945, received her theological training at the Episcopal Theological School at Claremont (Bloy House) and was one of ten deacons ordained during Diocesan Convention in 2006.
I'm literally "walking out the door" to attend Christine's memorial service this morning, but wanted to invite prayers from the wider community in thankgiving for her life and witness.
May she rest in peace and rise in glory.
Friday, October 23, 2009
I'm receiving the question as a well intentioned search for information -- and I'm also thinking with the president about to sign the bill the Senate passed yesterday in to law, you may get some of the same quesitons from those who still don't "get" why we need hate crimes legislation.
Q. I've never understood the whole idea of "hate crimes" and this is another example of it. I've had a couple of occasions to discuss the question with friends who strongly support hate crime legislation, but I've always come away scratching my head. I suppose my question is this: doesn't hate crime legislation make a mockery of the notion of "equal protection under the law?"
It's already illegal to beat someone to death with a baseball bat, for example. Where's the value in passing a special law against it in order to afford additional protection to a select group of citizens? Surely no one is credulous enough to believe that these laws will have any real deterrent effect, so what's the goal?
I'm a straight white male, Susan. Why should it be "more illegal" for someone to perpetrate violence against you than against me? Is my life worth less than yours in the eyes of the law?
A. All lives are equally valuable but, unfortunately, all lives are not equally valued. That sad reality was recognized decades ago when hate crimes leglistation was enacted to protect "equally protected" Americans who were "unequally targeted" by violent crimes solely because of their race. Perhaps you missed it when I wrote about some of these questions a couple of weeks ago. In either case, here you go again:
A hate crime occurs when the perpetrator of the crime intentionally selects the victim because of who the victim is. Hate crimes rend the fabric of our society and fragment communities because they target an entire community or group of people, not just the individual victim. However, in most cases, current law prevents the federal government from assisting state and local authorities.
What is the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act / Matthew Shepard Act?
The Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act (LLEHCPA)/Matthew Shepard Act gives the Department of Justice (DOJ) the power to investigate and prosecute bias-motivated violence by providing the DOJ with jurisdiction over crimes of violence where the perpetrator has selected the victim because of the person's actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability.
The Act provides the DOJ with the ability to aid state and local jurisdictions either by lending assistance or, where local authorities are unwilling or unable to act, by taking the lead in investigations and prosecutions of bias-motivated, violent crimes resulting in death or serious bodily injury. The LLEHCPA also makes grants available to state and local communities to combat violent crimes committed by juveniles, train law enforcement officers or assist in state and local investigations and prosecutions of bias-motivated crimes.
[All the above from the HRC website.]
Hate crime laws are ALREADY on the books. This legislation is NOT about prioritizing one kind of violence over another -- it is about giving LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS the tools they need to call on the Department of Justice for assitance in investigating and prosecuting crimes of violence on victims targeted because of who they are. Those laws have been on the books for decades for race based hate crimes. And now they're being expanded to include sexual orientation and gender identity.
And that should be good news for ANYONE who believes in liberty and justice for all -- OR in protecting the dignity of every human being.
Thanks for asking. Have a great day!
Thursday, October 22, 2009
"Hate crimes bill goes to Obama for signature." Read the news report here.
Read my reflections on that history making news report -- and some of the history behind it -- below:
We've been at this a LONG time. A quick check of the Episcopal Church archives showed that legislation supporting Hate Crimes Legislation by General Convention was passed in ... 1988.
In 1998 my friend -- and former Integrity President Michael Hopkins represented "us" at the funeral of Matthew Shepard in Wyoming, about which he wrote:
There I came face to face with the hatred that killed Matthew in the guise of protestors from a church in Kansas led by a man named Fred Phelps. They held signs proclaiming Matthew was a "fag" who was even now burning in hell, and their verbal taunts were even more horrific. The only consolation was a group of good souls standing silently between them and those of us waiting in line in the cold outside the church.
In 2007 we lobbyed on Capitol Hill for the Matthew Shepard-LLEHCB (Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Bill) knowing that even if it MADE it out of committee and onto the floor it would die on the desk of a president who had vowed to veto it. (There's me in D.C. -- along with a great cloud of HRC witnesses!)
Also in 2007, in her letter in support of the bill passed by the Senate today, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori included this quote from former Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold:
"The fact that Matthew was an Episcopalian makes our grief no more sharp, but it does give us a particular responsibility to stand with gays and lesbians, to decry all forms of violence against them - from verbal to physical, and to encourage the dialogue that can, with God's help, lead to new appreciation for their presence in the life of our church, and the broader community."
Earlier this year, I said this in an Episcopal News interview: "It's critical to get support behind this because finally we have a chance to get a hate crimes bill that will include sexual orientation and gender identity," ... "This is the time to make it happen. We have energy behind it in the House and Senate and a White House that said it will support and sign it."
This WAS the time to make it happen.
WE made it happen.
Take a minute to rejoice and be glad in that.
And then get back to work making the next thing happen!
Upon his signature, the Matthew Shepard & James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act will be the first major federal civil rights law protecting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.
Today’s 64 to 35 cloture vote and this evening’s final passage in the Senate marks a truly pivotal moment in our fight for LGBT equality. This last vote EVER on the bill happened because of the dedication of all of the people who contacted their legislators, educated their communities and gave of their time and money. But no one has worked harder than the families of Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr., for whom the bill is named.
Visit HRC's Love Conquers Hate site to celebrate this victory and send a note of thanks to the Shepard and Byrd families for their years of hard work.
CNN's report here.
Senate set to vote on hate crimes bill
Posted: 11:01 AM ET
WASHINGTON (CNN) - The fight over gay rights is taking center stage once again as the U.S. Senate prepares to vote as early as Thursday on groundbreaking legislation expanding the scope of federal hate-crimes law.
The measure, added to a $680 billion defense authorization bill, would make it a federal crime to assault an individual because of his or her sexual orientation or gender identity. The House has already passed the measure. It will go to President Barack Obama's desk if, as expected, it clears the Senate.
President George W. Bush had threatened to veto a similar measure; Obama has promised to sign it.The bill is named for Matthew Shepard, a gay Wyoming teenager who died after being kidnapped and severely beaten in October 1998.
Several religious groups have expressed concern that a hate-crimes law could be used to criminalize conservative speech relating to subjects such as abortion or homosexuality. Attorney General Eric Holder has asserted that any federal hate-crimes law would be used only to prosecute violent acts based on bias, as opposed to the prosecution of speech based on controversial racial or religious beliefs.
October 22, 2009
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
The Episcopal Church Welcome Mat:
The Vatican Welcome Mat:
Yearning for a journey of faith safe from
women clergy, the LGBT baptized,
and those pesky inquiring minds questioning
the Absolute Truth of Patriarchal Dogma?
Then, THE VATICAN WELCOMES YOU!
(Lock, stock and liturgical patrimony!)
Sometimes clarity is actually a HELPFUL thing.
If you've missed this breaking news, check out the New York Times for the details ... in a nutshell, the Vatican has announced a protocol to "make it easier for Anglicans uncomfortable with their church’s acceptance of female priests and openly gay bishops to join the Roman Catholic Church while retaining many of their traditions."
So there you have it. If you want a church that looks like "that" ... there is one. A perfectly good one. So I say, go for it. Take His Holiness Father Infallibility up on his kind off to "come on down" and go join his church.
And leave mine alone.
These newspaper clippings from the All Saints Church archives show John Burt with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. when he spoke for racial justice here in Los Angeles in 1964
The story the news clippings do NOT tell is the one about the death threats he received because of his witness for human dignity in the crucible of the Civil Rights Movement.
Burt became the rector of All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena, California, in 1957 and transformed that church into one of the largest and most active voices for social change in the country. As an advocate for social justice in the 1960s, Burt's name was linked with both local and national social and political activity.
Give rest, O Christ, to your servant with your saints,
where sorrow and pain are no more,
neither sighing, but life everlasting.
Monday, October 19, 2009
Up earlier than I'm used to on a Monday (MUCH earlier!) to attend the YWCA "Women for Racial Justice" Breakfast at 7:30 a.m. (yes, that's BE there at 7:30 a.m.!) I headed off to the Pasadena Hilton wondering why I'd thought Ann Erdman's kind offer to join her table of women bloggers was an offer I couldn't refuse.
Turns out, I was very glad I didn't. Refuse.
Really. What's not to be inspired about by a banquet hall packed with fabulous people (mostly women!) celebrating an organization with a Mission Statement "dedicated to eliminating racism, empowering women and promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all." (Did I mention it started at 7:30 a.m.?)
We honored Marge Wyatt for decades as a "constant voice for racial justice" here in Pasadena -- and some gasped in disbelief as Marge recounted "taking on a conservative school board back when they tried to ban books about the Civil Rights movement."
And I thought about the story about the Louisiana Justice of the Peace who denied marriage licenses to interracial couples. Not in 1965. Last week!
We heard inspiring words from Dr. Joy DeGruy, whose book -- "Post-Traumatic Slave Syndrome" -- frames what she calls "America's enduring injury" as the "consequence of multigenerational oppression of Africans and their descendants resulting from centuries of chattel slavery."
"There's poison in the cookies of our culture," she told the packed banquet room ... describing that poison as "Slavery that was predicated on the belief that African Americans were inherently/genetically inferior to whites, followed by institutionalized racism which continues to perpetuate injury."
"Healing must occur on multiple levels," says Dr. DeGruy on her website, "because the injury occurred on multiple levels. We begin by simply telling the truth."
So I am very glad I got up much earlier than usual on this Monday morning. Because the truth is that racism -- the poison in the cookies of our culture -- poisons ALL of us. And it challenges all of us to call this nation to its best "liberty and justice for all" self. And 7:30 a.m. isn't a minute too early to be up and about that important work. Even on a Monday!
Sunday, October 18, 2009
A little later, I'll head over to St. Luke's, La Crescenta -- where the bishops of the diocese will lead us ALL in celebrating a new chapter of mission and ministry for the Episcopal Church in La Crescenta. (See message from Bishop Bruno below.)
And then I'll head home and watch the Dodgers play Game 3 in "Chilly Philly!"
This IS the day that the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it!
"Reflections on Communion" -- Bishop Charles Jenkins
I shall never forget the day the tea arrived. Cases and cases of tea, shipped to us by the Bishop of Ceylon. More tea than I have ever seen at one time donated to us in the wake of Hurricane Datrina.
I remember my amazement when at "Community Congress 1" the realization came upon me that many of the volunteers working there were from London and came as part of the efforts to help of the Church of England.
How strengthened I was when Bishop Josiah Fearon of the Diocese of Kaduna in the Church of Nigeria phoned to say that the entire Diocese was praying for us and he and a group were trying to find a way to come to us. Eventually, Bishop Fearon came and he came to see about me.
The amount of the check may have been small, but how grateful we were for the ordinand in the Church of England who asked that the loose offering at his ordination be sent to us. That check with tens of thousands of others has made a difference.
"Like a deer caught in the headlights" was how someone described me after the levees failed. Then a call came (I wonder how he got through) from Rob Radtke at Episcopal Relief and Development asking what we needed. How the heck did I know? I told Rob we needed him. Though brand spanking new to the job, he managed to get on a plane and come. He brought with him Courtney Cowart and Peter Gudaitis.
It was humbling to be asked by the Archbishop of Canterbury during the Lambeth Conference of 2008 to search out the Bishops from Burma so affected by tsunami and pray with them. Of course, they had been praying for us.
When evil stands before me, I stand not alone, but this fractious, schismatic, heretical, wonderful, faithful, sacrificing, Christ-like Communion stands beside me, before me, behind me, and above me. As lonely as the past four years have been, even in dark nights of depression and doubt, I have not been alone. The last phone message I had before the system went down was from the Rev'd Susan Russell.
The tabernacle would not open in St. Luke's Church, New Orleans, when Frank and Phoebe Griswold and I moved aside trees to get into the church. We had Holy Communion there in the muck, mold, and mud thanks to Senior Warden Elvia James who managed to get the door open to the tabernacle. That Holy Communion pointed me towards our Communion.
Communion is not only about right believing and right acting. When our lives were in the ditch by the Jericho Road, when we had been robbed of life's dignity and much of the material of life, our Samaritan was the Anglican Communion. Rich and poor, orthodox or whatever, conservative and liberal, they came to us. They gave us of what they had and all prayed for us.
This Communion that I have experienced is the Church forced by circumstance to be what I think God has created His Church to be. I warn those who would break down and destroy this tender vessel that they are on the side of the enemy. Whether the iconoclasts be from the left, the right, or from the don't care side of things, let the warning be heard, Communion matters. Communion is not simply a matter of affiliation, or of like-minds; for some of us Communion is life or death. Communion is more than a man-made Covenant between us. We are called by God the Father into a greater Covenant that we dare not break. We are called to be here, together, one, broken, messy and yet strong, faithful, and rejoicing in the Lord.
The issues are many, the disagreements and disappointments many, and the opportunity to each do our own thing (which we suppose to be of God who blesses all our doings) is enticing. Such is not real religion.
Yours in Christ,
The Rt. Rev. Charles E. Jenkins
From Churchwork, Fall 2009, the official publication of the Episcopal Diocese of Louisiana.
Saturday, October 17, 2009
Q. I have a question that maybe you can answer if you want ... if not I understand. How do you balance faith with science?
A. The same way I "balance" apples and oranges. I don't.
Faith and Science are NOT "either/or" disciplines to be "balanced." In a nutshell, faith asks the "why" questions -- science tries to figure out the "how" questions -- they work together.
My faith is in the ultimate goodness, love, compassion and justice of the Living God who transcends humanity's best (AKA "worst!") efforts to capture, define, constrict, "dogmatify" or limit the One whose quality is always to have mercy, whose love is beyond measure, and who I believe -- as a Christian -- loved us enough to become one of us in the person of Jesus of Nazareth in order to show us how to love one another.
Certainly science and faith provide two very different avenues to understanding. Put simply, the scientific method demands experimental or observational proof before belief; religious faith by its very nature demands belief without proof. But this can be the beginning of a dialogue, not necessarily a dispute.
Ms. ARMSTRONG: Nobody expected literal proof from Scripture, and that's whether you look in the Jewish world, people like Maimonides (ph); in the Muslim world, people like Abu Sina or Al-Ghazali; or in the Christian world with Thomas Aquinas.
Religion wasn't about answering questions that we could answer perfectly well by our powers of logos, of reason and science. Religion was helping us to deal with aspects of life, facts of life for which there are no easy answers.
Friday, October 16, 2009
Thursday, October 15, 2009
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
U.S. District Judge Vaughn R. Walker, ruling after nearly two hours of arguments in San Francisco, rejected contentions by Proposition 8's proponents that precedent and tradition clearly showed last November's ballot measure permissible under the U.S. Constitution.
Walker previously ordered the Proposition 8 campaign to disclose its internal memorandums and communications to gay rights lawyers. The campaign is appealing that order to the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on 1st Amendment grounds.
So our annual staff reflection day is coming up next week and Karen Armstrong's new book is our "assigned reading" for the day.
I'm just so proud of this great (made for our 2009 stewardship season) video look into the work and witness of our 1:00 p.m. bilingual service here at All Saints in Pasadena that I wanted to share it here. Let the Fiesta begin!
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
I don't question God. The Lord is my Shepherd and I shall put none above Him. Which is why I know that if it were part of God's plan for me to stop viciously condemning others based solely on their sexual preference, He would have seen fit—in His infinite wisdom and all—to have given me the tiniest bit of human empathy necessary to do so.
It's a simple matter of logic, really. God made me who I am, and who I am is a cold, anti-gay zealot. Thus, I abhor gay people because God made me that way. Why is that so hard to understand?
Here, let's start with the basic facts: I hate and fear gay people. The way they feel is different from how I feel, and that causes me a lot of confusion and anger. Everyone knows God is all-powerful. He could easily have given me the capacity to investigate what's behind those feelings rather than tell strangers in the park they're going to hell for holding hands. But God clearly has another path for me. And who am I to question His divine will?
Compassion, tolerance, understanding, basic decency, the ability to put myself in another person's position: God could have endowed me with any of those traits and yet—here is the crucial part—He didn't. Why? Because the Creator of the Universe wants me to demonize homosexuals in an effort to strip them of their fundamental human rights.
I'm sorry, but you can't possibly ask me to explain everything God does. He works in mysterious ways, remember?
Try to understand. If I were capable of thinking and acting any other way, then I'm sure I would, but God seems to be quite adamant about this one. He's just not budging at all. So unless our almighty Lord and Savior decides to change His mind about my ability to empathize on even the most basic level—which I find highly unlikely—then everyone is just going to have to accept the fact that I'm going to keep on hating homosexuals. And I know that He will fill me with the strength to remain mindless and hurtful in the face of adversity.
Which isn't to say that my faith hasn't been tested. Believe me, there have been times when I've drifted from the bitter and terrified life God has chosen for me. When my younger brother told me he was gay, it shook my faith to its very core. But here I am, 27 years later, still refusing to take his calls. Just the way God intended.
It's actually pretty astonishing how many complaints to the school board you can make regarding the new band teacher you've never met when you are filled with the Light of Christ and devoid of any real kindness or mercy toward His other children.
At the end of the day, I'm just trying to lead a good Christian life. That means going to church on Sunday, following the Ten Commandments, and fighting what I believe to be a sexual abomination through a series of petty actions and bitter comments made under my breath. Sure, I sometimes wish God would just reach into my heart and give me the ability to treat all people with, at the very least, the decency and respect they deserve as human beings. But unfortunately for that new couple who moved in three houses down, He hasn't yet.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I have God's work to do.
Monday, October 12, 2009
Read. Mark. Learn. Inwardly digest. HEAL!
Over in the Church of England, a proposal is circulating that would limit the powers of some women bishops if anyone – apparently anyone – objects to that woman.
Rod Thomas, chairman of Reform, a conservative Anglican group in England, was quoted as saying this so-called compromise was “sensible.”
Just months after agreeing to open the episcopate to women, conservatives are forcing the Church to pull back. The Revision Committee already has voted to change the rules so that certain powers can be removed from women bishops simply to appease those who don’t want them. If women bishops face opposition from traditionalists in the dioceses in which they serve, some of their powers – as yet undetermined – would be taken away from them and given to male bishops.
One Church of England spokesman says that in parishes that “don’t recognize women bishops and want to look to another bishop,” – read “a man” – that diocesan bishop’s duties and responsibilities to those parishes would be reduced “automatically.”
Because, apparently, it is still acceptable to declare women “nobodies.”
I find it ironic that this last brouhaha is taking place in England, which has been ruled, quite successfully, by queens and one woman Prime Minister. It’s OK for the nation to be liberal enough to recognize that women are equal, but heaven forfend if the Church were to do so!
Let me be clear: I am not a nobody. I am a beloved child of God, created in God’s image, brought into being because God loved me into being.
I have no desire to be a bishop, and certainly do not serve in the Church of England, so in theory, this latest development has nothing to do with me. But in fact, it does, because the women who are being called “nobodies” over there are my sisters in Christ. They, too, are beloved children of God, they, too, were created in God’s image because God loved them into being.
Because that is true, none of us is a “nobody.”
And from the Diocesean website:
All welcome for Service of Reconciliation and Renewal
Sunday, October 18, 2 p.m., Bishop Bruno presiding
St. Luke's of-the-Mountains Episcopal Church
2563 Foothill Blvd., La Crescenta, California
All are welcome to join Bishop J. Jon Bruno and the people of St. Luke's of-the-Mountains Episcopal Church for this liturgy marking the continuation of Episcopal Church ministry on this historic site. Bishop Bruno led prayers inside the church sanctuary on Monday, October 12, opening the way for a new chapter in the congregation's 85-year history as part of the Diocese of Los Angeles.
That was the message delivered Sunday by the Rev. Rob Holman, in his last sermon at the Foothill Boulevard church that has been entangled in a legal dispute with the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles.
"Next Sunday, as many of you know, we will be worshiping in a different building," Holman said. "All because we have chosen to stand for the gospel and the authority of God's word over our lives."
Today, St. Luke's leaders will hand over the church's keys to the diocese after losing a lengthy battle to practice its conservative brand of Christian theology and hold onto the church.