Saturday, February 28, 2009

At first I thought someone had told them we were coming:


After all, it's not unusual for those of us who labor in this particular corner of the Fields of the Lord to encounter a protester or two.

But it was just a couple of us ... an advance team of project organizer types on reconnaissance "behind the Orange Curtain" (AKA in Orange County -- Anaheim, specifically) doing a site visit for July's General Convention. So an all-dressed-up-with-somewhere-to-go protester just for us seemed like total overkill ... but I got this picture to capture the moment just for the record:


Photo notwithstanding, it turns out that this time it was NOT "all about us" ... in fact it had nothing to DO with "us": Integrity -- All Saints Church -- The Episcopal Church ... any of "us."
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They were picketing the annual conference of Roman Catholic Educators (NCEA) -- who were meeting in droves at the Anaheim Convention Center ... where we'll be setting up shop from July 7-17 (give or take a day or two) for the 76th General Convention of the Episcopal Church.
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I haven't figure out what the "therefore" is in all this for me today -- and I'm not likely to in the 15 minutes I gave myself to take a little blog-time-out in the middle of a day that started with an 8:00 a.m. All Parish Meeting focused on Infrastructure and includes a 1:00 p.m. Memorial Service and the 5:00 p.m. Family Eucharist.
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Happy to entertain insights or reflections. Or not. Hope it's a beautiful day in your neighborhood. It is here in Pasadena today. And so ... back to work with me!
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Thursday, February 26, 2009

Stranger in a Strange Land:

Mormon Filmmaker Douglas Hunter Visits All Saints Church, Pasadena

I wrote about Douglas' visit to All Saints last Sunday myself earlier this week, but finally got a chance to read his own reflections on his visit -- posted Tuesday to his blog -- and wanted to share some of them here. You'll want to read the whole piece ... "On Screenings and Speaking" ... but here are a couple of excerpts to mull:

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The discussion around this film is about so much more than the film. The discussion is about theology, ethics, current events, faith, sexuality, interfaith dialogue, the way we strive for understanding, etc. The audience at the event showed they have thought more deeply and know more about these things than I have. So it was a humbling experience.

The few days after speaking publicly I spent a fair amount of time thinking about what resonated with the audience and also was not said, or what I wish I had said, and ways I can improve my message. Some thoughts:

1) We all speak of God

I need to find a more expansive way to express wonder at the common feeling of connection to God and the workings of the divine in our lives. This is something that transcends ideology and politics, cultural context, economics, and education; its a fundamental component faith. I find it thrilling that going to different churches one can be moved by the testimony of very conservative Mormons and also be moved by the gratitude and faith very liberal members of the UCC. We are all telling the stories of a powerful and caring God at work in our lives. I so want to see us uniting around these shared experiences, uniting around our shared joy over and gratitude for our encounters with the divine.

2) Dialogue is not a strategy

The question of how we engage the other is a central question of being Christian. Do we see the other as a threat? What are we willing or able to do for and for the sake of the other? Are we willing to allow the other to make demands of us? Do we allow our lives to be intertwined with the lives of others? These are only a few important questions, but one of the things that I think is problematic in the public sphere today is that we give in to the temptation to see dialogue as pragmatic, or as a strategy. As if the point of having a dialogue is to present an argument or to convince the other, to win them over, or to show them the error of their ways. I would love to see a different kind of dialogue. Dialogue as practice ...

3) Ideology and theology are not the same


One of the negative effects of the rise of the Christian right is that they have been very successful at selling the idea that theology and ideology are one and the same. They successfully sold this idea to both their followers and to the rest of us as well. It is a very attractive idea, but it is terribly misguided ...

4) Work from a place of vulnerability

We should not fear speaking and even acting from our own most vulnerable place, and even from uncertainty. This is something that I have only learned in the past few months, it is striking and new to me, also unexpected. I never really understood how much more honest it is and meaningful it is to speak from the place of one's own weakness. I am sick of making arguments and of making great efforts to be effective or convincing. I have a new commitment to weakness and to being willing to admit vulnerability to the community.

5) I am not brave

Over the past few months I have heard many times that I am "courageous", "brave", and "bold". I reject this outright. The past six months have been deeply marked by fear, and uncertainty. Not one time have I felt brave or in control or had a strong sense that I know what I am doing. I have just decided to try to craft a certain type of public ethical / religious discourse and see what happens. But the bigger point is that its not about me. The need for healing, understanding, compassion, and empathy and listening is limitless ...

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Maybe not so "strange" after all -- this "stranger in a the strange land" of Episcopaldom! Thanks, Douglas -- your courage and witness continue to bless all of us!
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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Remember that you are dust ...

This was the picture that I snapped on my way up the driveway to my office this morning ... last night's Mardi Gras balloons unceremoniously waiting the Wednesday trash pickup.


I think that this is as apt an icon for "remember that you are dust" as about anything else I've seen on an Ash Wednesday in a life lived in the Episcopal Church!

The good news, of course, is that even as we enter these 40 days of Lent with ashes on our foreheads -- and balloons in our dumpsters -- we remember not only that we are dust and to dust we shall return, but that in that dust we return to the God of ultimate love, creativity, compassion and justice.

We remember that at its end life is changed, not ended.

We remember that the God who loved us enough to become one of us to show us how to love one another waits to gather us into Her loving embrace.

We remember all that and more as we now journey, once again, into these 40 days of prayer and reflection; conversation and contemplation; silence and solidarity.

And may the God of hope fill us with all joy and peace in believing through the power of the Holy Spirit -- this Lent and always. Amen.

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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Presidential Address: INSPIRING!

Not seeing Dick Cheney over the president's right shoulder: PRICELESS!


Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori reflects on: "Varied understandings"

Just posted to Episcopal Life Online is this QUITE provocative opinion piece by Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori -- reflecting on her recent meeting with the primates in Alexandria, Egypt. ENJOY!


Varied understandings

Different lenses provide different views of Scripture

[Episcopal Life] The primates' meeting has come and gone, and I'm sure there will have been abundant commentary by the time this is published. I'd like to reflect on some of the deeper issues behind our conversations about sexuality, particularly the influence of our understanding of gender.

The most intriguing conversation I had in Alexandria was with a primate who asked how same-sex couples partition "roles." He literally asked if one was identified as the wife and one as the husband, and then wanted to know which one promised to obey the other in the marriage ceremony. Several of us explained that marriage in the West is most often understood as a partnership of equals, and has been for some time.

Those of you with a few more years on you may remember that the marriage service in the 1928 (and earlier versions) of the Book of Common Prayer did indeed have language about the wife obeying her husband. It's pertinent here to note that the 1662 English Book of Common Prayer is still the norm in many provinces of the Anglican Communion, and it uses the same kind of language about obeying in the marriage service.

As I traveled from the airport to the hotel where we met, I noticed that almost every woman on the street past childhood was veiled, with at least her hair covered with a scarf, and in a not-small number of cases, covered head to toe in a long, flowing garment. I even observed a couple of women whose coverings were so thorough that I couldn't even see a slit for their eyes -- the fabric must have been thin enough for them to see through, but not for others to see in. The hotel had only a handful of female employees, mostly professional women who worked behind the desk. Only a couple of them wore no scarf.

The striking thing was that the meeting room where the primates' deliberations took place, the hotel's largest and principal conference room, was bedecked with several large paintings of half-naked women. It was a space that, in normal circumstances, apparently was used only by men. I found it striking that public expectations of women are modest dress and covering, yet there is evidently a rather different attitude toward men's entertainment.

These complex and conflicting gender expectations have something significant to do with attitudes there and in other parts of the world toward male homosexuality. The greatest difficulty in many cultures, including parts of North American society, is the perception that one of the partners in such a union must be acting like a woman -- and that is most definitely not a socially desirable status! It is an attitude directly involved in the handful of scriptural references to male homosexuality in the Hebrew Bible. The New Testament references have more to do with abusive and exploitative behavior.

At the same time, one could readily observe public behavior in Egypt that would be identified as same-sex affection in our own culture -- women and men holding hands with others of the same gender. Yet in that culture it is seen merely to express friendship and is not associated with sexuality.

All of which is to suggest that all of us read Scripture through the lenses we have -- our cultural norms, our scientific understanding and our theological understanding of the purpose of marriage. We also privilege particular parts of Scripture in the way we build our lectionaries.

One morning at worship at the primates' meeting, we heard the reading from Corinthians that says women should be quiet in church and ask their husbands at home if they have questions (1Cor 14:33b-35). It was followed by the Gospel passage that recounts Salome and Herodias' request for the head of John the Baptist. I don't believe that section of the Gospel, alone, is ever read at Eucharist in the Episcopal Church -- because there is precious little good news in it.

I had one other pertinent encounter in Fort Worth, Texas, after the primates' meeting. I was greeting a long line of people at the end of the day of the reorganizing convention for the diocese. I spoke with a man in a wheelchair who appeared to have had a stroke.

The next person in line began by telling me that the guy in the wheelchair was a retired obstetrician/gynecologist and that "he's the most interesting gay man I know, and I'm proud to call him a friend." Rather an unusual conversation starter. And then he went on to say, "All of this is really about male supremacy, isn't it?" His words, not mine, but worth consideration.

There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3:28

-- The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori is presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church.

My Mardi Gras Gift to You!

As my lunch hour ends and I prepare to re-enter another All Staff Meetings All Day Tuesday @ All Saints Church, couldn't resist sharing this teachable moment from our favorite Lesbian News Diva:

Probably nobody else can relate to this, but ...


Q. What exactly do radical reappraisers do during Lent?

A. EXHIBIT A: All Saints Church's "Lenten Toolkit 2009" Blog

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It was a question that came from a commenter on one of the posts over at Titusonenine, and while the odds are it was intended as a rhetorical one, I decided answering it in this forum would be a great way to publicize our "new for this Lent" blogspot.

For the last few years we have produced a "Lenten Toolkit" offering weekly reflections from All Saints Church staff members -- but this year we've turned it into an online site with opportunites for reflection and conversation ... plus links to sermons, etc.

So come and check us out. Bookmark us and visit during Lent. Add your thoughts and reflections as we journey together these 40 days that lead to the Easter. And give thanks for the questions along the way that offer both the challenge and the opportunity to respond to the faith that is within us.
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Monday, February 23, 2009

Live in Captivity: The Mormon Filmmaker & The Lesbian Priest

[photo: Jack LeVan]

There's an old saying about being "busier than a one-armed paper hanger" ... and that's kind of how it is around All Saints Church right now. So I do NOT have time to actually "blog" about how great it was to welcome Douglas Hunter to All Saints yesterday and how much fun we had screening his film, "The Contstant Process."

Happily, there's an ENS article that tells most of the story and the video of the Forum is up online, so I'm just going to post those for now and get back to work.

More later ...

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[Episcopal News Service] Filmmaker Douglas Hunter didn't set out to befriend or even to film the Rev. Susan Russell when researching same-sex marriage for a new documentary, he told an audience at All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena, California, on February 22. Rather, the 40-year-old father of three wanted to explore "the dynamic between religion and sexuality" and to engage those outside his own Mormon faith.

Read the rest of the ENS article here

Watch the All Saints Forum here

"I DO" Campaign Launched by EQCA



Good news for those who want to help make a difference in winning back the freedom to marry here in California and securing equality for all across this great country of ours!

"Let California Ring" is a visibility project to encourage support for marriage equality AND to get conversations started with those who need to hear our witness. From the EQCA website:

They say the hardest part of a conversation is the first line. Display your gear with pride and spark a conversation. Tell your story to open hearts and open minds.

So Click here to a order a button, t-shirt or yardsign ... and help us change hearts and minds ... a conversation/inch at a time!

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If you missed it ...

Here's the 10 minute segment from last night's Oscar Show that included a tribute to Sean Penn's performance as Harvey Milk and Penn's acceptance speech:



(And this one gets an ironic hat-tip to Greg Griffith over at Stand Firm ... who posted up the YouTube clip before I had time to search for it this morning. Of course, he entitled his post "Reflecting on my shame" ... but thanks anyway, Greg!)

And the Oscar Goes To ...


... this commercial (the first one on the YouTube clip below) that aired here in L.A. during the pre-Oscar "red carpet" show.


Saturday, February 21, 2009

"Laissez Les Bon Temps Roulez"

Just a few pictures from the OH, SO FESTIVE Mardi Gras Fete held this evening at the Diocesan Cathedral Center ...

As you can see, there were beads galore ... (Exhibits A & B being Jim White -- Chair of our L.A. GC09 Deputation and Randy Kimmler -- Integrity Board Chaplain.)

Celebs in attendance included Canon/Poet/Writer/Sage Malcolm Boyd and Dean of St. John's Pro-Cathdral Mark Kowalewski.

But Steve took the prize -- as usual -- for Most Fabulous Fashion Statement.

All in all a great time was had by all ...

... so Happy Mardi Gras to all -- and to all a Good Night!
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"All Church All the Time"

That's what my friend Jim calls weekends like this ... it IS an "all church all the time" weekend which started out with a GREAT gathering this morning featuring my rector Ed Bacon and our new BFF Fr. Geoff Farrow in a conversation about Life, Lent & Everything.


We WILL have video up of their conversation eventually ... so stay tuned ... but for now, it's on to the next event: doing tech checks for the screening of "The Constant Process" here at All Saints tomorrow (10:15 ... drop by if you're in the neighborhood!) and then getting ready for the Mardi Gras party at the L.A. Cathedral Center -- a fundraiser for our witness at June's Pride Parade in West Hollywood and July's General Convention in Anaheim.

Anyway, Happy Almost Lent, everybody. Back to work with me!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Rumor has it ...

... that Himself, (AKA the ABofC ) will be dropping by Anaheim in July for a quick cuppa and a few words of cheerio to the General Convention crowd. (Yet to be confirmed, it IS being reported on Episcopal Cafe so we know the odds are good ...)

While striving always for gracious hospitality (not to be confused with "gracious restraint") it could be delightful to welcome +Rowan Williams to join us for a little taste of "The Happiest Place on Earth" (and if Mad Priest is paying attention today, I'm imagining a photoshop of Cantaur with Mickey Mouse ears might just be coming soon to a blog near you! :)

What would NOT be delightful would be for his presence with us to drag out the same old threats of unity-vs.-justice that have held the mission and ministry of the Episcopal Church hostage for way too long.

What would NOT be "gracious" would be efforts to inappropriately influence the legislative decisions facing GC2009 as we consider how we live out our baptismal promises in doing the work God has given us to do.

What would NOT be acceptable would be for the vocations and relationships of the LGBT faithful to once again be reduced to bargaining chips in the game of global Anglican politics.

So here's my wondering this afternoon.

Remember the great Mac/PC ads that were adapted into great No on 8 ads during the 2008 election? Here's one of my favs to refresh your memory:




Maybe what we need to do is turn some of our YouTubing geniuses loose to gently, amusingly and graciously make the points that we do NOT have to choose between our baptismal promises to respect the dignity of every human being and our deep desire to be part of the global Anglican Communion.

Maybe they could remind us -- and anyone who might come along for the ride (oh ... General Convention deputies and bishops come to mind!) -- that if you Google "Jesus Gracious Restraint" you're going to get a WHOLE lot less hits than if you Google "Jesus Liberate the Captive" or "Jesus Feed the Hungry" or "Jesus Love Your Neighbor as Yourself."

And maybe, just maybe, we could -- if we start now -- take back the power from those outside this church to frame the debate we need to have as we take our places in the councils of our church -- The Episcopal Church -- in Anaheim.

You remember that church, don't you? It's the one forged in the crucible of the American Revolution, which -- of course we remember from Confirmation Class but if we've forgotten it's still right there in our BCP (page 10 in the Preface):

... when in the course of Divine Providence, these American States became independent with respect to civil government, their ecclesiastical independence was necessarily included; and the different religious denominations of Christians in these States were left at full and equal liberty to model and organize their respective churches, and forms of worship, and discipline, in such manner as they might judge most convenient for their future prosperity; consistently with the constitution and laws of their country.

So there you have it. If, indeed, +Rowan decides to drop by, then by all means we should make him as welcome as welcome can be. (I will PERSONALLY make sure there's a reserved seat for him at the Integrity Eucharist -- just in case!) But just because we put out the Welcome Mat doesn't mean we put away our Prayer Book, our Baptismal Promises or our history as a particular people of God this particular neck of the woods.

Because at the end of the day, it really IS a Small World After All -- and it's the same small world we've ALL been called to serve in the name of the one who loved us enough to become one of us -- and then called us to walk in love (not to be confused with "walk in gracious restraint") with one another.
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And the MOST important thing we can do toward that end is to remember that our debates and decisions in Anaheim will ultimately be about how we are living out that baptismal call -- NOT about how we're complying with The Windsor Report or simplfying life for the Archbishop of Canterbury.
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Breaking News From Utah: "The Greatest Threat to America Is ..."

No, you can't make this stuff up -- check out what Utah State Sen. Chris Buttars considers "the greatest threat to America:" (Hint: It's not the tanking economy, global warming, children without health care or even "the terrorists.")

Nope, it's ...



Click here to add your voice to the HRC email action protesting this kind of shameful, bigotry from elected officials.
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Thursday, February 19, 2009

Meanwhile, in other news ...

Here's the press release our communication director just sent out about the Forum at All Saints on Sunday featuring Mormon filmmaker Douglas Hunter and the documentary short-film we made together last year. (Yeah, I might have titled the release something other than "Mormon Filmmaker and Lesbian Priest" -- but you DO want any media types who might be interested to actually READ the thing when they get it!)

Anyway, looking forward to welcoming Douglas to All Saints Church on Sunday. If you're in the neighborhood, drop by!
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PRESS RELEASE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 19, 2009

Mormon Filmmaker & Lesbian Priest to Speak at All Saints Church, Pasadena

An unlikely collaboration between Mormon filmmaker Douglas Hunter and Episcopal priest Susan Russell began when Hunter explored the production of a documentary project designed to explore the theological divide on gay and lesbian issues. An internet search, typing in “Christian gay,” brought him to Russell -- who became the centerpiece of his 19-minute film, "The Constant Process."

During the making of the film, Russell and Hunter formed a deep friendship -- and Hunter found himself speaking out in opposition to his church leaders when he joined the "No on 8" campaign during the 2008 election.

On Sunday, February 22nd, Douglas Hunter will be the featured speaker in the All Saints Church Rector's Forum. The program begins at 10:15 a.m. and will include a screening of Hunter's film and reflections from both Hunter and Russell on the journey that brought them together and where they go from here. Both will be available for media comment following the program, which concludes at 11:00 a.m. All Saints Church is located at 132 N. Euclid Avenue, Pasadena, 91101.

For further information, contact Keith Holeman, All Saints' Director of Communications, at 626.583.2739 or kholeman@allsaints-pas.org.

Geoff Farrow to speak in Pasadena on Saturday

Fr. Geoff Farrow, the Roman Catholic priest who chose conscience over compliance and defied his church's edict to support Proposition 8 in the November 2008 election will be a featured speaker at All Saints Church in Pasadena on Saturday, February 21st.

The program will begin at 9:00 a.m. in the All Saints Forum with a conversation between Fr. Geoff and All Saints Rector Ed Bacon on "how to stay focused on faith and hope when the going gets tough." Following the plenary session, Fr. Geoff will lead a small group conversation continuing to explore the issues of faith, conscience and the Christian call to do justice.

"We are thrilled to welcome Fr. Geoff to All Saints Church," said Susan Russell, Senior Associate for Communication. "His courageous willingness to step out in faith makes him a true hero to so many who look to the church to speak for the oppressed and marginalized."

All Saints Church is located at 132 N. Euclid Avenue, Pasadena, 91101.

For more information, contact Anthony Parker at All Saints Church at aparker@allsaints-pas.org, or at 626.583.2744.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

God willing and the Primates notwithstanding ...

... three years ago this very day we began officially living happily ever after.

I posted a blog that morning ... "Live from Wedding Central" ... and then off we went to celebrate the love that brought us together in the warm embrace of 400 of our closest friends, relatives and parishioners in a liturgy of word and sacrament that continues to be a source of blessing to our already-blessed lives together.

In these three years we have grieved the loss of my mother, survived both General Convention in Columbus & Lambeth Conference in Canterbury AND the longest presidential primary in the history of the world.

We have buried two sweet cats and one beloved dog and brought a new puppy into our family.

We white-knuckled our way through the 15-month deployment of my older son in Iraq and we commiserated with my younger son on the challenges of getting and keeping a job in this impossible economy.

We celebrated getting a new washer and dryer and argued over whether we really needed new curtains in the guest room.

We worked together to try to defeat Propostion 8 here in California and mourned together when bigotry prevailed at the ballot-box (and we're not done yet!!)

It's called "having a life" ... not to be confused with "a lifestyle" -- and today we're celebrating the joy of having someone to share that life with ... the good and the bad, the in sickness and in health, 'til death do us part.

Grant that their wills may be so knit together in your will, and their spirits in your Spirit, that they may grow in love and peace with you and one another all the days of their life. Amen.



Monday, February 16, 2009

Maybe it's just me ...

... or are there others out there who experience an entire aisle of Easter Candy in the supermarket the-Monday-of-the-week-before-Ash Wednesday just a LITTLE "rushing it?"


Just for the record ...


Having mentioned my childhood aversion to flying monkeys in last week's sermon, I was amused to be directed this week to this bumper sticker -- which is evidently making the rounds in certain quarters.

Of course, one always hopes it won't come to that, but it DOES come down to a "Plan B" ... :)
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Sunday, February 15, 2009

Anglican Insurrection 101



"There is no restraint gracious enough to thread the camel of broad Anglicanism through the needle of the narrow dogmatism of this bunch of rabid revisionists."


Yesterday I posted a link to the Anglican American Council's 42 page catalogue of crimes against "Anglican Orthodoxy" and indictment of the American Episcopal Church. Here are some further reflections:

What The Anglican Insurrection is about is NOT whether New Hampshire should be able to elect a bishop who is gay or whether Michael & John/Susan & Louise should have their relationship blessed by the church.

The Anglican Insurrection is about insisting on a very narrow set of doctrinal "truths" that become the litmus test for whether or not one is [a] Anglican [b] Christian and therefore [c] "saved."

It is -- at its core -- antithetical to the classically Anglican comprehensiveness that has shaped our communion since Hooker, Jewell and Andrewes, et al and is, therefore, far more radically revisionist than anything anyone in TEC has yet managed to dream up.

There is no restraint gracious enough to thread the camel of broad Anglicanism through the needle of the narrow dogmatism of this bunch of rabid revisionists. It is long past time for that truth to be told.

It is time for the Diverse Center of this Episcopal Church -- a center historically willing to live with the tensions of difference in the service of the unity of the Body of Christ -- to refuse to be blackmailed into actions contrary to our Baptismal Promises by those insisting that we have "no choice" but to choose between full inclusion of all the baptized locally and full inclusion in the work and witness of the Anglican Communion globally.

It is a false choice.
It is a lie.
It is time for us to say "no more" and to move on with the mission and ministry of the Gospel:

to preach good news to the poor.
to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind.
to release the oppressed
to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor.

See you all in Anaheim!
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Saturday, February 14, 2009

THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH: TEARING THE FABRIC OF COMMUNION TO SHREDS ...

... is the title of what our friends at the American Anglican Council have sent as a kind of "Valentine" to the Primates of the Anglican Communion.






You may or may not want to read it all here (it is 42 pages, so give yourself some time ... and you many need the BIG bottle of Rolaids).

If you want the Clif Notes version, start here, from the Executive Summary:


In the following sections we describe how the leadership of The Episcopal Church has been systematically destroying the foundations of Anglican Christianity within the United States, and tearing the fabric of the Anglican Communion to shreds.


Then I've put together kind of a "Hit Parade" -- a selection of just what exactly "the leadership of The Episcopal Church" said that rose to the level of "systematically destroying the foundations of Anglican Christianity within the United States, and tearing the fabric of the Anglican Communion to shreds."
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My understanding of idolatry includes the assumption that I can know and comprehend the way in which God saves people who are not overtly Christian. I understand that Jesus is my savior, I understand that Jesus is the savior of the whole world. But I am unwilling to do more than speculate about how God saves those who don't profess to be Christians. I look at the fruits of the life of someone like Mahatma Gandhi and the Dalai Lama and I see Christ-like features …
Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, Virginia Theological Seminary, May 25, 2007


"One of the tragedies afflicting the church right now," he said, "[is that] so many of us seem to think that salvation depends on our theological correctness."
The Rt. Rev. Jeffrey Lee, Bishop of Chicago, Chicago Tribune, Feb 3, 2008


It is not something of which I should repent and I have no intention of doing so. I have been led to understand that I am loved by God just as I am. That is not to say I am perfect but it is my belief that my orientation is value-neutral. It is what I do with my relationship that God really cares about … We worship a living God, not one locked up in the Scripture of 2,000 years ago…
Bishop Gene Robinson to the Guardian November 4, 2008


The creeds are not about checking off a bunch of propositions. They are about giving our heart to a sense that Jesus shows us what it looks like to be a divine human being.
Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, Parabola, Spring 2007

For almost forty years, members of the Episcopal Church have discerned holiness in same-sex relationships and, have come to support the blessing of such unions and the ordination or consecration of persons in those unions. Christian congregations have sought to celebrate and bless same-sex unions because these exclusive, life-long, unions of fidelity and care for each other have been experienced as holy. These unions have evidenced the fruit of the Holy Spirit: joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
Episcopal Church Center, "To Set Our Hope on Christ," 2005

I would be a fool to regret that decision. Gene Robinson is one of the finest priests that I've ever known and one of the finest bishops I've ever known. There's no way, shape, or form that I could not have voted for Gene Robinson.
Jon Bruno, Bishop of Los Angeles, The Advocate, October 26, 2004

It‘s very unfortunate and embarrassing that the [Christian religion] is in large part responsible for this act of bigotry.
The Rev. Ed Bacon, rector of All Saints Episcopal, Pasadena, Ca. referring to the vote in favor of California’s Proposition 8 which prohibits same-sex marriage, Los Angeles Times, Nov. 8, 2008
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UPDATE: See "The Anglican Insurrection 101"

A Valentines' Message ...

... from the Fifth Chapter of the Gospel According to Mark:



[The Message] I am telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves. This is what God does.

He gives his best—the sun to warm and the rain to nourish—to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty. If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that.

"In a word, what I'm saying is, Grow up. You're kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you."


V. The Word of the Lord

R. Happy Valentines Day!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

"Dear Bishop Iker:"

Fort Worth Episcopalians engaged in struggle that’s not new in Christian history

From a Commentary in today's Fort Worth Star-Telegram ... on the latest episode of "As The Episcopal World Turns in the Diocese of Fort Worth."

(Thanks to Katie Sherrod for the "heads up!")

Bishop Iker:

You just decided to leave. You were done with all that crazy Episcopal Church U.S.A. stuff. You followed your star, fine and good. But please don’t pretend that you’re the one staying and others — here all along — are the ones forming a new diocese. They are the ones continuing.

So go in peace. Take the souls who feel likewise along with you. But following the council of Jesus, take nothing more than your staff, sandals and bag on the way to your promised land.

Be blessed while you do it, but don’t pretend to be something you’re not. Or lay claim to their property and resources. No fair initiating the divorce and then expecting to the get the house as a part of the property settlement. You’ll need to find an apartment.

Read the whole piece here ... and DO keep the good people of the Diocese of Fort Worth in your prayers as they move ahead into God's future as Episcopalians.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

On the 20th Anniversary of +Barbara Harris' Consecration:

Church of England inches closer to approving women bishops

By Matthew Davies

[Episcopal News Service -- London] The long and arduous road towards accepting women bishops in the Church of England became an inch shorter February 11 as the General Synod passed a motion to send a draft measure on the matter to a revision committee that will spend the next 12 months reworking the legislation.

The draft measure has two principal objectives: "to give the General Synod power to make provision by canon allowing women to be consecrated as bishops; and to set out the legal framework for the arrangements to be made for parishes which, on grounds of theological conviction, feel unable to receive the ministry of women."

The synod was not asked to amend the draft legislation, only to decide on whether it should be "considered for revision in committee." With a majority affirming that decision, synod members now have until March
16 to submit proposed amendments for review by the revision committee.

Full story here

Combating Hate Crime Lies

OK folks, remember how we're "keeing an eye on the other side?" Well, so is the HRC ... and they're working on an action to keep the noxious video "Speechless: Silencing The Christians" ... from airing on television.

“Make no mistake. This is the opening salvo in a campaign designed to denigrate LGBT Americans and deny us our basic rights,” said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese. "Just as our community is at a point where measures protecting millions of Americans heads to Congress and a willing President, the AFA unleashes 60 minutes of lies and distortions to scare voters. The AFA and its allies have never been 'speechless' when it comes to promoting their own agenda, and that's driving a wedge in the very places where LGBT Americans work, live and even pray.”




After you check out what my friend Harry Knox has to say, consider clicking here to join the HRC action alert.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Keeping an eye ...

... on "the other side."


I'm off to Chicago tomorrow for a meeting with The Chicago Consultation at Seabury Western. Good work with great people toward important General Convention goals. (Film, as they say, at eleven.)

But before taking off, I wanted to point interested parties to what the American Family Association is up to now. They've got a "Family Values Survey" up online along with a video entitled "Speechless: Silencing The Christians."

Click here to see the video (take your Dramamine -- it'll make you queasy) and to fill out the survey.

Why bother? Because if we're going to rebut the lies we have to know what they are. If we're going to reframe the debate we have to do our homework. If we're going to preach the love that casts out fear, we have to contend fearlessly with the phobia being preached on the other side of the aisle.

Come, labor on!
The enemy is watching night and day,
To sow the tares, to snatch the seed away;
While we in sleep our duty have forgot,
They slumbered not.

Come, labor on!
Away with gloomy doubts and faithless fear!
No arm so weak but may do service here:
By feeblest agents may our God fulfill
God's righteous will.
.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

This morning's sermon ...


It was a little Wizard of Oz, a little Howard Thurman and a little Barbara Harris ... and I called it "Demons and Tigers and Bears, Oh My!"

(And oh ... BTW ... the February 11, 2009 is the TWENTIETH ANNIVERSARY of the consecration of Barbara Clementine Harris as a Bishop in the Church of God. Let us rejoice and be glad in it!)


Saturday, February 07, 2009

So did you hear the one about the lesbian priest and the Mormon?

No, it's not a golf course joke -- it's a feature article in today's Los Angeles Times:


The piece has been a long time coming ... Times staff writer Duke Helfand interviewed us for it during the Prop 8 campaign and the photo (above by Christina House for the LA Times) was taken on the day of the nationwide post-election Prop 8 protests.

I'd begun to think maybe this wasn't as interesting a story as Duke thought it was and then this morning ... TA DA!

Faith forms a bond for a lesbian priest and a Mormon father of three

A documentary film about same-sex marriage and theology leads to friendship, admiration and new understanding.

By Duke Helfand
February 7, 2009

Who could have foreseen what would happen between the Mormon filmmaker and the lesbian priest? Not Douglas Hunter, even after he took a leap of faith and trained his camera on the Rev. Susan Russell.

And maybe not even Russell, who had undergone a remarkable transformation from onetime suburban soccer mom to priest and outspoken champion of gay rights.But the friendship that took root when Hunter asked Russell to play the central role in his documentary about same-sex marriage and theology would lead two people from different worlds to a new understanding of themselves and their faiths.

Read the rest here ...

And thanks to those who've "picked it up" for comment:
Episcopal Cafe

Mad Priest

PRELUDIUM

... and note that the film will be part of an April film festival in Southern California.

Friday, February 06, 2009

"Don't Divorce Us!"

With the announcment of the March 5th Supreme Court hearing on Prop 8, "The Courage Campaign" has launched a "let our voices be heard" campaign.


"Fidelity": Don't Divorce... from Courage Campaign on Vimeo.

And here's the letter they're asking us to sign:

We, the undersigned, share President Barack Obama's view that "for too long, issues of LGBT rights have been exploited by those seeking to divide us. It's time to move beyond polarization and live up to our founding promise of equality by treating all our citizens with dignity and respect."

Yet, on December 19, 2008, Ken Starr and the Prop 8 Legal Defense Fund filed legal briefs defending the constitutionality of Prop 8 and seeking to nullify the 18,000 same-sex marriages conducted between May and November of 2008.

The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in this case on March 5, 2009, with a decision expected within the next 90 days. We, the undersigned, ask that the Court invalidate Prop 8 and recognize the marriage rights of these 18,000 couples -- and all loving, committed couples in California -- under our state's constitution.

As Americans who believe in the rule of law and fundamental civil rights, we know that Ken Starr and the Prop 8 Legal Defense Fund's shameful attempt to nullify these unions will not be vindicated in the eyes of history. We know that, ultimately, love will prevail, no matter how hard they try to fight it.

Sincerely,
click here to add your name to the list -- speak out to let love prevail!

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Responding to the Primates

So I'm taking a break from the Episcopal Urban Caucus Assembly events to get caught up on "other work" -- including getting a response out to the just concluded meeting of the Primates in Alexandria.

In case you missed it, here's the link to the ACNS release on the Primates' "Communique" -- which included:

There are continuing deep differences especially over the issues of the election of bishops in same-gender unions, Rites of Blessing for same-sex unions, and on cross-border interventions. The moratoria, requested by the Windsor Report and reaffirmed by the majority of bishops at the Lambeth Conference, were much discussed. If a way forward is to be found and mutual trust to be re-established, it is imperative that further aggravation and acts which cause offence, misunderstanding or hostility cease. While we are aware of the depth of conscientious conviction involved, the position of the Communion defined by the Lambeth 1998 Resolution 1.10 in its entirety remains, and gracious restraint on all three fronts is urgently needed to open the way for transforming conversation.

And here's the ENS report, which includes this comment from the Presiding Bishop:

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori told ENS that she is encouraged by the tone of the communiqué, but acknowledged that "the long-term impact of 'gracious restraint' is a matter for General Convention," the Episcopal Church's main legislative body that next meets in July in Anaheim, California.

"We are going to have to have honest conversations about who we are as a church and the value we place on our relationships and mission opportunities with other parts of the communion and how we can be faithful with many spheres of relationship at the same time," she said. "That is tension-producing and will be anxiety-producing for many, but we are a people that live in hope, not in instant solutions but in faithfulness to God."

And, to round out the responses for the moment, here's Integrity's comment:



February 5, 2009
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

MOBILE, AL--Integrity USA is disappointed but not surprised that the communique issued by the primates of the Anglican Communion earlier today repeated the all-too-familiar call for moratoria on the election of bishops in same-gender unions, rites of blessing for same-sex unions, and cross-border interventions.

"There's an American superstition that 'bad things come in threes,'" said Integrity President Susan Russell speaking from the Episcopal Urban Caucus Annual Assembly in Mobile. "And accepting the lumping together of these three issues in one moratoria package would be a very bad thing for the Episcopal Church as a whole and its LGBT faithful in particular.”

"Calling a halt to actions that violate the polity and boundaries of the autonomous national churches that are constituent members of the Anglican Communion is preserving the historic unity of the church. Scapegoating a percentage of the baptized by excluding them from a percentage of the sacraments of the Body of Christ is participating in the appeasement of bigotry. They're apples and oranges."

Russell continued, "Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori is absolutely correct in stating that moratoria are a matter for General Convention in Anaheim this summer. Resolutions have already been submitted that would move the Episcopal Church beyond the non-canonical restraints imposed by B033 and forward on marriage equality. Integrity USA believes that General Convention will reaffirm that all the sacraments are open to all the baptized. We will be working with our allies to achieve that gospel agenda item next July."

"Integrity encourages all concerned Episcopalians to contact their bishops and General Convention deputies and dialogue with them on these issues as they prepare for Anaheim," concluded Russell. "The question on the table is whether or not we mean it when we renew that Baptismal Covenant's promise to respect the dignity of every human being. Integrity is counting on the Episcopal Church saying, "We will with God’s help."

Visit www.integrityusa.org/all for more information.


Press Contact:
The Rev. Susan Russell, President
(626) 583-2741 office
president@integrityusa.org

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Postcard from Alabama

Greetings from the frigid Gulf Coast ... where we woke up to 20 degrees and it has "warmed up" to 43. BRRRRRRRRR!!! (I expect that kind of thing when we go to Chicago but ...)

Just finished meeting with the Steering Committee of The Consultation ... good work with great people toward General Convention '09 ... and am now heading off to the opening events for The Episcopal Urban Caucus 2009 Assembly ... film (as they say!) at eleven!
.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Prop 8 Gets Day in Court: March 5th

From the AP report:

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — California's highest court will hear oral arguments early next month in legal challenges to the state's voter-approved same-sex marriage ban.

The state Supreme Court has scheduled a March 5 hearing date for oral arguments in a series of lawsuits seeking to overturn Proposition 8.

Gay couples, several local governments and Attorney General Jerry Brown maintain the ballot initiative, which passed with 52 percent of the vote, is unconstitutional.

If it opts to uphold the measure, the court has said it will also decide whether the 18,000 same-sex marriages performed when gay marriage was legal in California are valid.

After hearing arguments, the court's seven justices will have 90 days in which to issue a ruling.

Monday, February 02, 2009

"It's been a long time since I felt like one of God's children ..."

Blogging from DFW Airport on my way to Mobile AL for Episcopal Urban Caucus this week, I got an email that this segment from Ed's sermon yesterday is now up on YouTube.

Enjoy!

Sunday, February 01, 2009

"And another thing ..." (More on the CNN/U-Haul story)

I know I wrote about this last week, but just got this clip of the CNN Headline News segment I virtually wasn't on talking about Ted Haggard's fall from grace.
Here's the panel ... pastor, psychologist and priest ...

... and here's the little clip I have ... it starts just after the show's host, Jane Velez-Mitchell asked the question, "Jim Beck, what's your explanation for this man's behavior?"

video

... and if I'd been able to finish the sentence it would have been with the words: "... somebody whose real problem is not his sexual orientation but his theological orientation!"

But, no ... it was back to the U-Haul chase!

Oh well ... easy come, easy go.

But this whole exchange is definitely informing the sermon I'm working on for next week ... "Demons and Tigers and Bears, Oh My!" ... and I was totally thinking this morning in church when Ed preached a WAY kick-butt sermon that what he was talking about needing to "exorcise" from the church was exactly what we were heard from Pastor Jim Beck -- who maintains homosexuality is "no worse a sin than adultery."

Like I said last week: If we can aspire to post-partisan politics we can aspire to post-homophobic religion!

In closing, turns out there's a link to email the show if you want to express an opinion about anything -- including making an AWOL U-Haul into national news. (I'm just sayin' ...)