Monday, November 29, 2010

Sermon for Advent One - Twenty Ten

I'm in Burlingame for most of the week working on SCLM-C056 Blessing Task Force business -- blessed to be doing work I'm honored and challenged by and delighted to be in the company of a GREAT cloud of witnesses at the Mercy Center. So I'm a little late getting this posted ... yesterday's sermon (which feels like a week ago already, but there it is!)

Sometimes I'm not sure it's OK for a preacher to admit they liked a sermon ... but I liked this one. And yes, I was preaching to myself a big chunk of the time. Particularly in the staying-hopeful-in-spite-0f-it-all part. Happy Advent, Everybody!

Watch the video or read the text:

Recalculating 2.0: Navigating the New Normal

Happy New Year, Church! We knew it was coming … the signs of the “end times” that lead to new beginnings are popping up all around us … and of course I’m talking about the – “Rose Parade Parking Here” signs -- have brought us once again to this new beginning … a new church year on this First Sunday of Advent.

We know that Advent is a time of waiting …the hymns and lessons are full of the language of waiting and yearning and anticipation: O Come, O Come Emmanuel – Singing Songs of Expectation – Keep you lamps trimmed and burning … and every year I’m reminded that Advent waiting is its own special animal.

A friend of mine once described how "waiting" during Advent is different than some of the other kinds of "waiting" we do -- waiting for a bus, for example. Waiting for a bus is both boring and anxiety-producing. Will it be on time? Will I make my connection? Am I waiting at the right bus stop . . . what if I looked at the schedule wrong? Where IS that bus, anyway? That's waiting in anxiety.

Waiting in expectancy is more like being seated in the concert hall, waiting for the curtain to rise. We know something wonderful is about to happen: and everyone else is waiting with the same expectation. We may know what to expect -- we've bought the tickets, looked over the program, checked out the performers - but the experience is yet to happen. And so we wait -- we wait expectantly; we wait in the tension of both knowing and NOT knowing -- open to the experience about to unfold: expectant rather than anxious.

And I believe that is exactly the kind of "Advent Attitude" God calls us to aim for: to live in both trust and tension as we prepare, once again, for the coming of the One whose birth turned the world upside down as certainly as the preparations for his birthday turn our schedules upside down every year at this time. For the righteousness Jesus offered - the love he proclaimed -- was too radical, too inclusive, too dangerous to survive without creating chaos for the status quo -- then or now.

It is an amazing irony that the very Jesus who gave his life to show us how to love each other been co-opted by those who understand the Reign of Christ to be not about the Lordship of Love but about obedience to orthodoxy. And – unfortunately – the signs of that irony are as ubiquitous in the culture as the Rose Parade parking signs are in Pasadena … including our own Archbishop of Canterbury who was behaving badly again this week. Bless his heart.

But instead of just talking about what Advent is NOT I wanted to talk this morning about what it is: to look at not just the waiting but what we’re waiting FOR.

My second image for Advent this is Advent as an ADVENTURE. I’d like to be able to tell you I hit upon the connection in the root words of both Advent and Adventure through some kind of impressive original-language word study like the rector does but actually it was the 2 freeway southbound last week. I was stuck in traffic on my way the Cathedral Center behind a U-Haul truck – and their current ad campaign is “U-Haul … Adventures in Moving.” So after a few minutes of staring at the back of the truck I started to think … hmmmm … Advent. Adventure. Advent. Adventure.

And here’s what I came up with The Advent Adventure is NOT just a commute to Christmas – it’s the beginning of another year of our spiritual journey into God’s future. And this year we’re taking that journey into what people keep calling “the new normal.”

Now, I “get” that 50 is the new “30.” (I don’t actually BELIEVE it but I get it!) But I’m still trying to figure out the “new normal.”

Part of my confusion is this. Here’s a quote I read in an editorial the other day:

Helpless anger is a familiar sensation today. We all feel that way at times about government and helplessness seems to be a daily part of life on many levels. Americans who pride themselves on their ability to get things done are bound to feel a deeper sense of frustration in the face of events they cannot control.
Sounds familiar. It’s exactly what everybody else seems to be saying after this bruising election cycle in this challenging economy facing global climate issues and rampant polarization. Except this is a quote in a now-defunct magazine called “The Episcopalian” – and it was published in October 1969.

I’m not bringing it up this morning to in any way dismiss the very real challenges we face as a congregation, as a nation and as a global community as we figure out what this “new normal” thing is. I bring it up to remind us – to remind myself – that “helpless anger” is, in fact, a classic response to fear and anxiety – and that just because it’s part of our history doesn’t mean it has to be part of our future.

I had an email from a blog reader last week thanking me for something I’d written and in the process saying “I don’t know how you can stay so hopeful in the middle of all of this.” And I thought for Pete’s Sake … we belong to the God whose love was powerful enough to fix even Good Friday! As Christians we are people of hope – hope that is NOT the same as optimism -- but hope that is grounded in the promise of the resurrection –the promise that the love of God more powerful even that Good Friday can empower us to overcome the challenges we face.

As we begin this Advent Adventure that is NOT just a commute to Christmas we can choose to be grounded in that hope -- in the ancient values that have guided the journeys of the faithful down through the ages. The route may differ from years past. The obstacles may shift and change. But the journey is the same.
And the values are the same. Love, Peace, Compassion, Justice. Ancient values for the “new normal.”

And so what I’m wondering this morning is if the 2010 version of the old Advent “keep your lamps trimmed and burning” hymn might not be “keep your GPS charged and programmed.” I can’t remember the last time I ‘trimmed a lamp’ – the closest I ever came was reading about it in “Little House in the Big Woods.” But I sure depend on my GPS! And some of you may remember when I shared the “GPS epiphany” I had during the “Excellent European Adventure” Louise and I had last summer. Here’s the long story short:

We were on a month-long European adventure with the most patient GPS on the planet. She never panicked. She never raised her voice. She never freaked out when the road signs suddenly changed from Italian to German and then back to Italian. She never said, “How many times do I have to tell you?” She never said, “I cannot believe you missed that turn.” And she certainly never said, “No! No! the other left!” Instead, no matter how clueless or far afield we got, her patient, persistent refrain was, “Recalculating.”

I think it is fair to say it took us a little while to trust her – and we can pinpoint the moment when that happened. It was as we were arriving at our hotel on Lake Como, in Italy – which is absolutely as fabulous as everyone says it is, and you can totally see why George Clooney wants to hang out there. I’m looking at the map, and Louise is looking at the GPS, and she’s saying, “This can’t be right. We’re going to end up in the middle of the lake. Our hotel is on the other side of the lake. There’s no way this could be right.” So we’re driving along – and the tension is mounting -- and suddenly our patient, wise, persistent GPS says … “In 500 meters, board the ferry.”

Who knew there was a ferry? Well, the GPS did, and we never doubted her again.

The “epiphany” for me was that the way the GPS guided Louise and me on our Excellent European Adventure is how I believe the Holy Spirit guides each and every one of us on our Excellent Earthly Adventures as followers of Jesus. She is patient, she is persistent. No matter how clueless we are or far afield we go, her patient, persistent refrain is, “Recalculating.”

And it is my brothers and sisters, an ancient refrain. Like a GPS connected to the satellite that keeps it on course as long as it is plugged in, we are connected to the love of God who will keep us on course if we stay plugged in and keep our lives in alignment with God’s justice, with God’s love, and with God’s compassion.

And we “plug in” when we come here, to remember that we are both loved and called to walk in love -- come to be fed a fuelled and go back out into the world and witness to that love. “Do this in remembrance of me” – we will say in just a few minutes, when we gather around this table to share the bread and wine made holy. “In remembrance of,” to remember – as the rector says, to reverse our amnesia – that we are loved by God and called to go and to return, to plug in our GPS.

Old road maps may not navigate us through a new normal -- but we can keep our GPS charged and programmed – and She will see us through. And there’s no time like the present to start trusting our Spiritual GPS the way Louise and I finally started trusting our European GPS.

Because the truth on this First Sunday of Advent in the year 2010 is that the world we’re called to navigate is not an Advent world – and I’m not just talking about the Christmas carols at the mall or the Christmas Blend at Starbucks we’ve been drinking for a month already. It is not a world waiting in eager anticipation for the curtain to rise – it is waiting in anxiety for the next shoe to drop.

There’s the helpless anger of people who “want their country back” and the hopeless hunger of people who wonder where their next meal is coming from. The saber rattling is escalating in Korea while the combat continues in Afghanistan and the AIDS pandemic continues in Africa as health workers combat cholera in Haiti. Hunger and homelessness are on the rise and violence against women and the bullying of LGBT youth are rampant.

And the church – the Body of Christ on earth that is supposed to be helping people make sense of all this – make a difference in the middle of all this – navigate through all this – well … it seems to have unplugged its GPS altogether and just keeps driving around the same old block: from “Keep-gay-couples-from-getting-married Street” to “No-women-bishops Avenue” to “The-Bible-said –it-I-believe-it-that-settles-it Boulevard” to “Protect Christmas by emailing everybody you know and telling them not to let anybody wish them “Happy Holidays” Road.”

And then there’s shock and dismay when yet another poll shows more and more people find the church irrelevant.

Yep. It’s time for some Advent Recalculating, alright. So here’s the breaking news for the First Sunday of Advent 2010:

All Saints Church is not committed to making God’s love tangible 24/7 and turning the human race into the human family because Ed Bacon had a glory attack one day and said, “Church – here’s what we’re going to do.” All Saints Church is committed to making God’s love tangible 24/7 and turning the human race into the human family because we are committed to the ancient values that fuel our journey into “the new normal.” The values of prophets like Micah … do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with your God; and apostles like Matthew … love God and love your neighbor as yourself.

So as we begin this Advent Adventure 2010 that is NOT just a commute to Christmas let us do so guided by the ancient values that have guided the journeys of the faithful down through the ages.

Let sing the familiar hymns and pray the familiar prayers and keep our lamps trimmed and buring AND our GPS charged and programmed as we wait the coming – once again – of the one who loved us enough to become one of us in order to show us how to walk in love with God and with each other:

Come, O Christ and dwell among us! Hear our cries, come set us free.
Give us hope and faith and gladness. Show us what there yet can be.
Set us free to be the change you call us to be.
Set us free to live your love.
Set us free to be your justice.
Set us free to journey into the adventure of God’s future this Advent and always.
Happy New Year! Amen.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Recalculating 2.0: Navigating the New Normal

I'll post the link up to the video of today's sermon when it's up but here's a snippet:

Because the truth on this First Sunday of Advent is that the world we’re called to navigate is not an Advent world – and I’m not just talking about the Christmas carols at the mall or the Christmas Blend at Starbucks we've been drinking for a month already. It is not a world waiting in eager anticipation for the curtain to rise – it is waiting in anxiety for the next shoe to drop.

There’s the helpless anger of people who “want their country back” and the hopeless hunger of people who wonder where their next meal is coming from. The saber rattling is escalating in Korea while the combat continues in Afghanistan and the AIDS pandemic continues in Africa as health workers combat cholera in Haiti. Hunger and homelessness are on the rise and violence against women and the bullying of LGBT youth are rampant.

And the church – the Body of Christ on earth that is supposed to be helping people make sense of all this – make a difference in the middle of all this – navigate through all this – well … it seems to have unplugged its GPS altogether and just keeps driving around the same old block: from “Keep gay couples from getting married” Street to “No women bishops” Avenue to “The Bible said it, I believe it, that settles it” Boulevard to “Protect Christmas by emailing everybody you know and telling them not to let anybody wish them “Happy Holidays” Road.

And then there’s shock and dismay when yet another poll shows more and more people find the church irrelevant.

Happy New Year, Church! Time to get our act together and be the hope God is calling us to be to a world in desperate need for it!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Thanks, GAFCON!

Christmas came a little bit early for those opposed to the Covenant proposal wending its way through the "discernment process" in the Anglican Communion. It came in Section 5 of the Oxford Statement issued on November 24th by the GAFCON bunch*:
For the sake of Christ and of His Gospel we can no longer maintain the illusion of normalcy and so we join with other Primates from the Global South in declaring that we will not be present at the next Primates’ meeting to be held in Ireland. And while we acknowledge that the efforts to heal our brokenness through the introduction of an Anglican Covenant were well intentioned we have come to the conclusion the current text is fatally flawed and so support for this initiative is no longer appropriate.
Signed by a number of Primates and some other episcopal flotsam, this is ... for all intents and purposes ... a:

Yes, the Church of England Synod this week (11/24 to be precise) voted to continue to consider the proposed Anglican Covenant. But the Oxford Statement (issued on 11/24. Hmmmm ...) makes it PERFECTLY clear that when One has Sole Possession of The Absolute Truth then One has no need for consensus, collaboration, compromise or a Covenant. And One will certainly not attend meetings and sit down with those with whom One disagrees. In fact -- when all is said and done -- all One requires is Capitulation.

Some of us have (sadly) known that for a really long time. (And if anybody wants a window into how we've lived that sad reality out here in the Diocese of Los Angeles revisit my 2007 blog "Story Time.")

But that was then and this is now. And now that the folks the Anglican covenant was designed to keep at the table have turned their noses up at it it seems to me that sacrificing the vocations and relationships of the LGBT baptized on the altar of Anglican Unity becomes ... well, redundant at best. And throwing out historic Anglican comprehensivness in response to hysteric Anglican policitics becomes ridiculous at least.

And so it seems to me that as we -- TEC (The Episcopal Church) -- do our "due diligence" study of the Anglican Covenant what we need to be studying instead of something that's already failed to hold the Communion together is studying how to create something that will bring us together.

Like maybe focusing on the values that unite us rather than the issues that divide us. Like building a church for the 21st century that worries about who will COME if we proclaim the Good News of God available to all rather than who might LEAVE if we include everybody.

And now that we've got the "Get Out Of The Covenant, Free" card maybe we can start doing that work! So Gracias, GAFCON. (The thank you note is in the mail!)


*If you need GAFCON tutorial here's a link to a 2008 post about their 'Global Anglican Future' Conference from which I was honored to be banned.

Friday, November 26, 2010

And the Black Friday Award goes to:

Luna & Juno for their Post-Thanksgiving Synchronized Sleeping Routine!

[Eat your heart out, Esther Williams!]

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Let the Feasting Begin!

[Thanksgiving Eve @ Chez Brooks-Russell]

The pies are in the oven. The green beans are in the casserole. And we are thankful, thankful, thankful!

Happy Thanksgiving from our house to yours!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

What the signs of the "end times" look like in Pasadena CA:

Yep. Bleachers for the Rose Parade. Already up at the corner of Colorado & Orange Grove. Happy-Almost-Advent, Everybody!

ROUND ONE TO +ROWAN (The Pilgrims would be so pleased!)

The first round on the Anglican Covenant debate went to +Rowan Williams as the Church of England Synod voted today to continue to consider the ill-conceived proposal by sending it to dioceses for further consideration.

The Christian Century reports:
The chamber at Church House in London was full for the lengthy debate, which saw a number of Synod members express their reservations about the Covenant.

In his last speech to Synod, the Bishop of Lincoln, the Rt Rev John Saxbee, said the Covenant represented “factory farmed religion rather than free range faith”.

“I entirely support the process – so long as it doesn’t end,” he quipped.

He said a Covenant would only lead to a two-tier Communion and second-class Anglicans.

His comments reflect the concerns of opponents and even supporters of the Covenant who fear it would stymy diversity and centralise the Communion in such a way as to make it too authoritarian and overly focused on discipline.
The AP report leads with "Conservatives reject global unity plan"
The traditionalists dismissed the covenant as "fatally flawed," but the plan also has been attacked by liberals within the church.

"While we acknowledge that the efforts to heal our brokenness through the introduction of an Anglican Covenant were well intentioned, we have come to the conclusion the current text is fatally flawed and so support for this initiative is no longer appropriate," said the statement from leaders of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans and the GAFCON movement.

The statement was endorsed by archbishops from West Africa, Rwanda, Tanzania, Nigeria, Uganda, Kenya, Australia and Anglican Church of North America, a breakaway group from the Episcopal Church.
Meanwhile, the No Covenant Coalition issued this statement:

“The No Anglican Covenant Coalition is disappointed that the Church of England has voted to continue consideration of the Anglican Covenant. The debate made it clear that many members believe the Covenant will undermine the traditional Anglican comprehensiveness. We have lost this round. We will continue to oppose the Covenant in the Diocesan Synods and work to defeat it when it returns to the General Synod.

“We note that the GAFCON Primates have said ‘the current text is fatally flawed and so support for this initiative is no longer appropriate.’ A two‐tier communion appears to be unavoidable.”

I'm finding it ironic that this step toward dismantling historic Anglican comprehensiveness was taken on the Eve of the holiday that celebrates our Puritan ancestors -- those who abandoned their Sceptered Isle for America the Beautiful because the CofE wasn't "pure" enough and wasn't "scriptural" enough for them.

Who left home because the Big Tent of traditional Anglicanism was TOO big and who came here to start over and live out their dream of a sola scriptura church with more ecclesiastical rules for the hierarchy to enforce and less elbow room for the Spirit to move.

Ironic that the CofE our Puritan ancestors fled is now on the verge of throwing in their lot with those who would have them become more the church those Pilgrims came here to create. My, my, my.

Happy Thanksgiving, anyway! (Yes, please to the turkey. No thanks to the theology!)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

My question for Cantuar

From +Rowan's address to the CofE General Synod today:
"To say yes to the Covenant is not to tie our hands. But it is to recognise that we have the option of tying our hands if we judge, after consultation, that the divisive effects of some step are too costly."
Too costly to whom, Sir?

To the voiceless LGBT baptized in Uganda still waiting for a word of hope from Canterbury while her church -- the Anglican Church -- supports legislation criminalizing her for trying to build a life with her partner?

To the LGBT youth whose internalized self-loathing resulting from his church's message that he is an abomination turns to self-destruction rather than be doomed to a life of loneliness, isolation and despair?

Or to all those yearning in these times of challenge for words of life and leadership from an increasingly irrelevant institutional church that will suspend a bishop on a dime for tweeting about an upcoming Royal Wedding but stands silent while LGBT people once again have their vocations and relationships sacrificed on the altar of global Anglican politics?

The "H" word in operation here isn't homosexuality. It's Honesty. And it's Hypocrisy. And it's a Horrific abdication of leadership when the Archbishop of Canterbury can dare to stand this day and make a statement so sweepingly dismissive of the pastoral needs of the LGBT baptized and crying needs of those LGBT people yearning to be evangelized.

Shame on you, +Rowan Williams. Shame on you.

Today's Statement from the No Covenant Coalition

I am so very proud to be associated with this great cloud of witnesses!


LONDON 23/11/2010 – As the Church of England General Synod prepares to debate the proposed Anglican Covenant, a group of unlikely campaigners are working hard to ensure that there is a serious debate about the potential risks involved.

Started just three weeks ago after online conversations among a small number of international Anglican bloggers, the No Anglican Covenant Coalition has built on the work of two English groups, Inclusive Church and Modern Church, to set the shape of the debate.

“A month ago, General Synod and the entire Communion were sleepwalking into approving the Covenant without a proper discussion of the issue,” according to Coalition Moderator, the Revd. Dr. Lesley Fellows. “In some places, the Covenant was being presented as a means to punish North American Anglicans. In Britain, the United States and Canada, it was being spun as nothing more than a dispute resolution mechanism. I’ve spoken to many Synod members who were only dimly aware of the Anglican Covenant. An astonishing number of people thought I was referring to the Covenant with the Methodists.”

The week preceding the General Synod debate has seen a flood of articles criticizing the Covenant, including:

• an article by Canadian canon law expert the Revd. Canon Alan Perry, challenging the assertion that the Covenant would have no impact on the constitution and canons of member churches of the Communion;

• an article by the former Chancellor of the Anglican Church of Canada, the Hon. Ronald Stevenson QC, a former judge of the Court of Queen’s Bench, critical of the lack of clarity regarding the disciplinary procedures in the Covenant; and

• an article by the Bishop of the Convocation of American Churches in Europe, the Rt. Revd. Pierre Whalon, challenging the idea of enhancing communion by excluding those who disagree with the majority.
“We are all strongly committed to the Anglican Communion, but we are not convinced that this proposed Covenant will do anything to keep the Communion together,” according to the Revd. Malcolm French, the Coalition’s Canadian Convenor. “Covenant supporters have hurt their case by being dismissive of critics while failing to make a compelling case for this proposed Anglican Covenant. And no one has been prepared to explain the initial and ongoing costs to implement the Covenant.”

Within the last three weeks momentum has gathered to encourage the Church of England to wake up. The first test will come tomorrow, when General Synod debates the Covenant and votes on a motion for initial approval, the first step towards final approval at a later session. Although significant decisions such as women in the episcopate normally require a
two‐thirds majority, questions should be asked about why the English House of Bishops has proposed only a simple majority for the Covenant.

The articles referred to, and several others, can be found on the No Anglican Covenant website

Revd. Dr. Lesley Fellows (England) +44 1844 239268
Dr. Lionel Deimel (USA) +1‐412‐512‐9087
Revd. Malcolm French (Canada) +1‐306‐550‐2277
Revd. Lawrence Kimberley (New Zealand) +64 3 981 7384
Revd. Hugh Magee (Scotland) +44 1334 470446

Stay tuned. For updates from the CofE Synod follow #nocovenant on Twitter

A "Fictional" Argument about the Anglican Covenant

This is IT in a nutshell. Bravo!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Speaking of the Anglican Covenant: Is it time to cue Tom of Warwick yet?

Camelot. It's one of my favorite musicals.

I grew up listening to the original Broadway cast album -- vinyl, of course -- over and over and over again. Richard Harris. Julie Andrews. Robert Goulet.

What's not to like about knights in shining armor committed to the noble ideals of the Round Table? About radical ideas like using the power of might FOR right -- not to mention cool costumes, great music and a juicy love story.

We know, of course, that Camelot didn't last. The noble ideals of that Round Table couldn't withstand the quarrelling and bickering of those who wanted to return to those halcyon days of yesteryear where might MADE right and to get back to bashing heads rather working across differences.

And at the end of the play ... when King Arthur has lost not only his dream of a new kind of kingdom but his wife and his best friend ... as he prepares to lead his troops into a battle he'd hoped never to have to fight ... he tells the story of the ideals that lay in shattered all around him to a boy -- to Tom of Warwick --in hopes that Tom will carry those ideals into the future and that maybe, just maybe, the vision he had for Camelot would survive -- if only in the imaginations of those who heard the story.

So what I'm wondering today -- as the troops gather to do battle across the pond this week over what has come to be known as The Anglican Covenant -- is if it might not be time to put out a casting call for a Tom of Warwick.

I'm wondering as I read the blogs and counter-blogs and points and counter-points if the Communion we're fighting over isn't already as much in ruins as King Arthur's Camelot was by the end of Act II of the musical I grew up singing along to.

And I'm wondering if the grand experiment of Anglican Comprehensiveness isn't already in the dustbin of history as yet-another doomed-by-naiveté scheme to call us beyond our worst-into-our-best selves.

Or not.
I don't know about you, but I'm not ready to give up on the ideals that infuse the DNA of our historic Anglican tradition without a fight. Forged out of the crucible of the English Reformation our spiritual ancestors found "a way where there was no way" to hold in tension the seemingly irreconcilable challenges of their day. And surely it can't be harder to figure out how to be gay and straight together in the 21st century than it was to figure out how to be catholic and protestant together in the 16th!

They didn't need an Anglican Covenant to make that happen and neither do we.

What we need is to know our history. To claim our tradition. To empower our leaders. And to mobilize those who don't yet recognize what's at stake in these debates to stand up and speak out before it's too late. Before the dream of Communion is as remote as the dream of Camelot became.

Am I convinced we can do it? Of course not. But I'm convinced we're called to try -- because we've been privileged to be part of the grand and noble experiment of Anglican Comprehensiveness and it's our job to preserve it to pass on to future generations ... not stand by and watch it be thrown out in the bathwater of global Anglican politics: not let it all have been "one brief shining moment." We CAN do better than that!
So let's not cue Tom of Warwick just yet. Let's keep working. And -- of course -- praying:
Holy God, we pray for thy holy catholic church. Fill it with all truth, in all truth with all peace. Where it is corrupt, purify it; where it is in error, direct it; where in any thing it is amiss, reform it. Where it is right, strengthen it; where it is in want, provide for it; where it is divided, reunite it; for the sake of Jesus Christ thy Son our Savior. Amen.

Jim Naughton Being Brilliant ... again

"This is governance by hurt feelings, a system in which power flows to those who complain the loudest and the most frequently. The covenant lacks any of the safeguards, contained in most civil codes, to protect the accused from frivolous accusations." -- Jim Naughton

Read the rest here ... "A tool for the strong to oppress the weak" on The Lead

More on the Joys of Travel:

So now we're an "ISM"??????

Of course I pay attention to what "the other side" is writing. Not as much as I used to when Claiming the Blessing was my full-time job or when I was President of Integrity ... but I still pay attention. Get "Google Alerts." Read some of the blogs. Open up emails when folks forward me stuff. Like this one that came in today ... and article entitled "Lesbianism linked to upbringing."

The article goes on to declare; "A recently released study shows a link between childhood family structure and the rate of female homosexuality -- undermining the claim that sexual orientation is genetic or biological."

You can read the whole piece here ... although for my money you don't have to go any further than the next sentence:
Family Research Council (FRC) looked into the family lives and worship rates of 7,643 women between the ages of 14 and 44 ...
Unbiased, scientific study at its best yeah, shure, you betcha. Think I'm overstating just a tad? Check this out ... it's the follow up poll on the website that "broke" the "Lesbianism" story. One News ("a division of the American Family News Network.") How's this for objective fact gathering? Poll:

What factor below do you believe plays the greatest role in same-sex attraction among girls and women?
  • Indoctrination of feminist values through public education

  • Cultural promotion of sexual deviancy

  • Movement away from biblical plan for marriage and family
Yep. Really. Couldn't make it up. If I wanted to.

So check it out. Here. And then ... if you have a minute and feel like it ... contact these clowns and tell them what you think about their "poll.

Yes, Yes I know -- it won't really make any difference. When you think you have Sole Possession of the Absolute Truth you don't really care what the facts are. But Jesus told us in Matthew 5:16 to "let your light so shine" so let's shine some light and speak some truth to the powers that think they can run roughshod over our families and our relationships and who dare to keep pushing this crap out into the culture.

Ready. Set. Go. Do it. Now. (Thank You!!)

Saturday, November 20, 2010

"No Covenant" Notable Quotables: My Top Ten & Then Some List!

Once I started thinking in terms of "No Covenant Quote of the Day" it became clear there were a lot of really good ones floating around out there. And since it's a cold, rainy evening not fit for going out and doing anything productive and since the football game we're watching has ceased to be interesting (24-3 in the 3rd quarter) here's what I've come up with for starters. Anybody got any more to add???
"The worst thing about the Covenant is that it will create a church of the lowest common denominator in which the only things we can embrace will be safe and uncontroversial. They will keep us locked into old established ways rather than allowing us to embrace the challenges of making Christ know in the ever changing culture in which we live." -- The Satirical Christian

"We need to find new ways to be united without forcing ourselves to be what we're not." -- Mr. Catolick

This process and the proposed Anglican Covenant are not building unity, they are turning disagreement into institutionalised disunity - even inventing mechanisms of exclusion to facilitate the process. -- The Anglican Resistance Movement

"Let me put it simply: We can’t even agree on what the Covenant means; so why should we imagine the Covenant will help us come to agreement on anything else?" -- Tobias Haller

"Surely we don’t have to sign a contract to be part of the family?" -- The Druidic Covenant

"We believe in an Anglicanism based on a shared heritage of worship, not on a set of doctrines to which all must subscribe. Our understanding of Anglicanism leads us to view the covenant as profoundly un-Anglican." -- the No Covenant Coalition

"The covenant is a waste of time and money." -- Simon Sarmiento

"What I dislike about the Anglican Covenant is not just that it is institutionalised homophobia, but that it ... is an attack on traditional Anglican pluralism. Its architects think it is pluralism that has got us into the mess we are in. If only we all thought roughly the same, they muse. What they do not see is that the cure is so much worse than the presenting problem." -- Giles Fraser

The problem with having disciplinary sanctions on churches which take "controversial actions" is that almost any new innovation will be controversial to start with. Therefore, this is tantamount to saying "Thou shalt never do anything for the first time". -- Jonathan West commenting in The Guardian

"For bonds of affection the Covenant substitutes bonds of law." -- Louie Crew

"Anglicans who made it through the challenge of being both catholic and protestant in the 16th century can meet the challenge to be both gay and straight in the 21st century without losing the charism of Anglican comprehensiveness. -- Me

"It seems that we need an Anglican Covenant because some of the Primates can’t bear to be in the same room as others – and because they disagree on theology. Is this really an example of loving one’s neighbour and do we want to institutionalise this behaviour?" -- Lesley Fellows

Another Anglican Covenant "QUOTE OF THE DAY:"

Wherein Mr. CatO'Lick explains what tactics the Anglican Covenant supporters will be using in next week's debates at the CofE General Synod and offers this sage advice:

"We need to find new ways to be united
without forcing ourselves to be what we're not."

Thursday, November 18, 2010

And the "NO COVENANT" Quote of the Day goes to:

"Let me put it simply: We can’t even agree on what the Covenant means; so why should we imagine the Covenant will help us come to agreement on anything else?"
Yep ... Tobias Haller. Read the rest here.

Standing Against the Inevitable

"Those who oppose equal rights for the LGBT community are not just standing against the right of gays and lesbians to marry the person they love, or to openly serve in the military -- they are standing against the inevitable." - Arianna Huffington
Love this quote. And loved Huffington's piece in (wait for it ...) The Huffington Post. (I know ... Duh!!)

Entitled "The Split Screen Struggle Over Gay Rights" she frames the debate this way:
America finds itself at a real turning point in the struggle for gay rights. And, as during all turning points, it's as if we are watching the struggle unfold on a split screen: progress on one side, setbacks on the other.
Read the rest here ... and give thanks for smart people who "get it" and who ... BTW ... are going to be the featured speaker in the All Saints Rector's Forum on Sunday, November 28th. (I'm just sayin' ... :)

Celebrating Bishop Christopher in Los Angeles

Honored to be with members of the Diocesan Program Group on LGBT Ministry who gathered at St. James "in the City" Church on Wilshire Boulevard on Monday night for a reception honoring the work and witness of retired Ugandan Bishop Christopher Senyonjo. Pictured above are [from left to right] Karl Hoaglund, Jim White, Joanne O'Donnell, Neil Tadken, Bishop Christopher, Me & Randy Kimmler.

The evening included a slide show provided by Albert Ogle and an opportunity to hear from Bishop Christopher about the plans for his new "St. Paul's Centre for Reconciliation & Equality" which includes ministry to and with LGBT Ugandans along with other marginalized and vulnerable communities.

Bishop Christopher is in the United States for a month long education tour which will include visits to San Diego and San Francisco as well as New Orleans, New York and Washington DC.

Stay tuned for more information on Bishop Christopher's ministry and how you can help support his prophetic witness.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The more things change ...

... the more they stay the same. And yes, somebody ends up getting screwed.

In case you missed the latest episode of "As the Anglican World Turns" now-bishop Gregory Cameron made the above referenced statement regarding the ill-conceived Anglican Covenant proposal in a BBC radio conversation with Lesley Fellows ... a CofE priest and the convenor of our "No Anglican Covenant Coalition."

You can read more about it over on the "No Covenant" blog ... and stay tuned for the next episode as the drama continues.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

What will the Anglican Covenant do to the Church?

[with thanks to Thinking Anglicans for this great summary being distributed "across the pond" as part of the run up to the General Synod vote on the proposed Anglican Covenant]

As a General Synod member you will soon be asked to cast your vote on the Anglican Covenant. This leaflet explains why you should vote against it.

The Covenant is designed on the presupposition that the proper way for Anglicans to resolve disagreements is for a small committee to decree the Anglican position and for the rest of us to believe what we are told. It would produce tighter restrictions on General Synod’s powers to introduce changes — whether on women priests, or new liturgies, or moral judgements like contraception and the remarriage of divorcees.

You may find this so un-Anglican as to be incredible. The Covenant’s proponents know it will be unpopular in England, so until the vote is taken they will present it as a small bureaucratic matter. In other parts of the world church leaders are much more open about the intention to decree Anglican doctrine and forbid dissent.

The background

An Anglican Covenant was first proposed by the Windsor Report in 2004 after one diocese in the USA had elected an openly gay bishop and another in Canada had approved a same-sex blessing service. Opponents could not legally expel the North Americans, so the Covenant in effect redefines the Anglican Communion with a view to excluding them. The final draft was agreed at the end of 2009 and it is now up to the 38 Provinces of the Anglican Communion whether to sign it.

From the Windsor Report onwards the clear intention has been to establish a new regime with power to decree Anglican doctrine. However the provinces are selfEgoverning and cannot be forced to sign it. The text therefore stresses that each province will still be self-governing and the Covenant will only affect its relations with other provinces. However its very purpose is a regime sufficiently centralised and authoritarian to forbid certain actions. The small print therefore makes it possible.

What would the Covenant do?

Signatories undertake not to introduce any new development if another Anglican province opposes it, unless granted prior permission from the Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion. This is a body of 15 people, legally the trustees of the Anglican Communion.

The Covenant describes itself as ‘foundational for the life of the Anglican Communion’ and states that ‘recognition of, and fidelity to, the text of this Covenant, enables mutual recognition and communion’ – which until now has applied anyway across all the provinces. In other words, recognition and communion would be withdrawn from non-signatories.

Thus the Anglican Communion would be redefined as the new international structure, to which the provinces — even Canterbury and York! — will only belong if they sign up. For the first time since Henry VIII the Church of England would be subordinated to an outside international authority. This would create serious conflict with its role as the established church. The text denies that there is any subordination as provinces may leave at any time; but if they do, they will no longer be part of the Anglican Communion. In effect each province is being told: either you sign up and allow other provinces to intervene in your internal affairs, or you will no longer count as part of the Anglican Communion.

How would it change the Church of England?
By signing the Covenant the Church would commit itself ‘to act with diligence, care and caution in respect of any action (our italics) which may provoke controversy’; and, if any province objects, the Standing Committee will have power to decree the Anglican teaching on it. This would affect the Church of England in many ways.

It would become more dogmatic as each new ruling lays down a new official Anglican teaching. The effect would be felt not only nationally but also in parishes, as open-minded clergy came under increasing pressure to toe the line.

It would become more timid as new proposals could be blocked by objections – possibly from just one archbishop the other side of the world. Thus decision-makers would feel obliged to conform to international Anglicanism instead of responding appropriately to local situations.

It would become more backward-looking. Instead of Classic Anglicanism’s balance of scripture, reason and tradition, which allows for new developments, the Covenant reduces Anglicanism’s authorities to ‘the Scriptures, the common standards of faith, and the canon laws of our churches’, thus making it harder to justify changes. If it had been in force in 1944 when the first woman priest was ordained, it would almost certainly have prevented Anglicanism ever having women priests.

It would become more centralised and clerical. Though the text denies it, in effect General Synod would be subordinated to the new centralised authorities, mostly bishops and archbishops. The voice of the laity would be significantly reduced.

It would hinder mission. Many younger people are put off by the Church’s apparent reluctance to change and backward-looking stance on many issues. Whether or not they are right, to turn this stance into an essential feature of Anglicanism is bound to alienate many and create a new obstacle to mission.

It would hinder ecumenism. Proponents of the Covenant hope it will help international discussions; but local initiatives would be subject to objections from far distant Anglicans who do not know the local situation.

It would be expensive. Substantial additional funds be needed to administer it and these have not yet been identified. As its main purpose is to create the means to expel The Episcopal Church (USA) and the Anglican Church of Canada from the Anglican Communion, this will probably mean losing their generous contributions.

The theological context

Behind this debate lies a longstanding theological disagreement. Reformation Puritans believed Christians should submit to the supreme authority of the Bible, that every question has a single biblical answer, and that therefore there should be no disagreement between Christians. Their successors today therefore welcome a central hierarchy with power to decree the Anglican teaching on each issue. Anglicans with different theologies sometimes support them in the mistaken hope that this will avoid schism.

Classic Anglican theology, rooted in Richard Hooker and his successors, values reason and thus expects Christians to learn from others. We have therefore been better at staying united because we accept disagreements as normal and debate them openly within the Church, without threatening schism, until such time as consensus is reached.

The way to keep united is to insist, as the Church of England has normally done, that differences of opinion may be freely and openly discussed within the Church, in the interests of seeking truth, without invoking power politics or threats of schism.

Want to know more?

Visit and follow the links.

To contact the authors email or write to Jonathan Clatworthy at 9 Westward View, Liverpool L17 7EE.

This leaflet is sponsored by Modern Church and Inclusive Church. (Modern Church was formerly known as the Modern Churchpeople’s Union.)

Saturday, November 13, 2010

That was then ... This is now

Giles Fraser on the proposed Anglican Covenant

"What I dislike about the Anglican Covenant is not just that it is institutionalised homophobia, but that it ... is an attack on traditional Anglican pluralism. Its architects think it is pluralism that has got us into the mess we are in. If only we all thought roughly the same, they muse. What they do not see is that the cure is so much worse than the presenting problem."

Read the rest of Giles' Church Times commenatry here.

And don't forget to keep an eye on the "Anglicans for Comprehensive Unity" No Covenant website.

Ode to Harry Knox

If I could be in two places at one time today, one of me would be in Washington DC right now at the ordination of my friend Harry Knox.

I met Harry when I was the Executive Director of Claiming the Blessing trying to get "Voices of Witness" funded and he was the brand, spanking new Director of the brand, spanking new Religion & Faith Program at HRC (Human Rights Campaign.)

Over the years I've had the privilege of standing back and watching Harry work some major miracles.

I was honored to be asked to be part of one of Harry's brainchildren ... the HRC Religion Council ... and have seen firsthand the healing and hope the witness of that truly phenomenal bunch of faith leaders have offered to the struggle for LGBT justice.

I've watched as over and over again as Harry Knox "made a way where there was 'no way'" and built bridges where others said they couldn't be built -- across cultural, contextual and theological differences and most impressively, across the chasm between faith based and secular activists.

The partnership between HRC and faith leaders has become a model for how our movement for justice and equality for LGBT people can not only continue to move legislation forward in the halls of Congress but how we can move hearts and minds in middle America. And Harry made that happen.

Not alone. He has had great HRC staff colleagues (in particular Dr. Sharon Groves who is a brilliant, savvy, faithful force-of-nature in her own right!) and much good will and support from all those committed to this mutual calling to speak out, stand up and work for liberty and justice for all.

But sometimes ... many times ... it was Harry. Harry standing up at the end of a long day and the end of a long conference table and saying, "Now friends ..." (in the tone of voice we all came to recognize) in order to get us back on course. Back on message. Back with our shoulders to the wheel to get whatever ox it was that was in the ditch that day OUT of the ditch and get us all back on the road we were on together. (And to remember that we were ON it "together!")

This morning Harry Knox takes a major turn on the road of his own spiritual journey. He's on the on-ramp ready to accelerate onto a brand new "superhighway" as he joins the ranks of the ordained ministry and assumes a new set of challenges and opportunities as Senior Pastor of Resurrection MCC Church in Houston, Texas.

Harry's been called to ordained ministry since Jesus was in the youth group, but its been quite a journey for "the church" to catch up with the Holy Spirit. And this morning at 10am at the Metropolitan Community Church on Ridge Street in Washington DC that's exactly what happened. And if I could have been two places at one time, one of me would have been there to celebrate. But since that's not possible, this blog will have to suffice as "cyber celebration."

And "Now, friends ..." let us pray for Harry on this, his ordination day:
Holy God, we give you thanks for your servant Harry Knox and his faithfulness to your call to ordination as a pastor to your people. Make him a faithful pastor, a patient teacher, and a wise councilor. Grant that in all things he may serve without reproach, so that your people may be strengthened and your Name glorified in all the world. All this we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Amen. Amen. AMEN!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

MEANWHILE at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco ...

... they celebrated their new Dean on Saturday!

Nothing unusual about that. Deans come and deans go ... kind of like rectors and bishops do. When one goes we thank them and send them off ... when one comes we welcome them and celebrate a new ministry.

So here [pictured left] is the now Very Reverend Dr. Jane Shaw ... the new Dean of Grace Cathedral on Nob Hill in San Francisco. I've had the privilege of working a bit with Jane ... some during our run-up to Lambeth Conference 2008 and some with mutual colleagues in The Chicago Consultation. I found her bright, insightful, faithful and occasionally funny ... all nice features in a dean. She's also a very credentialed academic and (I understand) quite a fine preacher.

Oh ... and BTW ... she's a lesbian. With a partner. Named Sarah.

Which was so interestingly "not an issue" -- in the press or on the blogs or really anywhere else that I could find. And how refreshing is that???? I love that "Cathedral Elects Lesbian Dean" is not only NOT "breaking news" ... it's barely news.

I did find one article, though. From the Bay Area Reporter ... and interestingly enough the feature concludes with some observations about how "non-newsworthy" Dean Shaw's election has been:
"There's been very little press hoopla around the fact that [Shaw] is an open lesbian," and that "speaks to the fact of where the Episcopal church is today, that sexual orientation has little to do with the choice of people for this position," said [Integrity Board member Louise] Brooks.

She said Shaw "will be the voice of a different type of Christianity ... conveying a message that everyone is a beloved child of God, and that there is no asterisk that says 'unless you're gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender.'"
And let the people say, AMEN! ... right after they say "Welcome to the neighborhood, Dean Shaw!"

For anybody who's ever had anything to do with the planning of a church wedding

This five minute video is a "must watch" for anybody who's ever planned a church wedding, had a church wedding or survived a church wedding.



"On this Veterans Day, bless all those men and women who, for devotion to their country and to the common good have offered themselves in service to our nation."

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

+Gene in the news

Just listened to +Gene's NPR interview on "All Things Considered" -- thought he did a great job.

There's also a wonderful editorial in the Concord Monitor entitled:

Bishop Robinson is a profile in courage
Technically speaking, Gene Robinson is the spiritual leader only to New Hampshire Episcopalians, a relatively small population in a relatively small state. But since his consecration in 2003, he has stood as a worldwide challenge to discrimination, to violence rooted in bigotry, to go-slow liberalism that dares not rock the boat.

Robinson emerged as one of the bravest leaders of our time, but he didn't do it on his own. His New Hampshire flock, those who voted for his ascension to bishop, took an enormous risk - for themselves and for their global church. We are all the better for it.
You can read the rest here ... and I hope you will.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

+Gene sets the record straight (so to speak) in the L.A. Times:

Gay Episcopal bishop says he isn't being 'run off'
V. Gene Robinson says his detractors have not shaken his commitment and he'll merely scale back when he steps down in January 2013.

By Mitchell Landsberg, Los Angeles Times

It was less than a month ago that V. Gene Robinson, the first openly gay bishop of the Episcopal Church, appeared in a YouTube video assuring gay and lesbian teenagers who were "in a dark place" that their lives would get better.

"I am an out and proud gay man who is also the bishop of New Hampshire," he said, staring into the camera, dressed in the purple shirt of his office. "And I am living proof that it gets better."

On Saturday, Robinson stood before a shocked diocesan convention and delivered a different message. Citing the strain of constant controversy, including death threats, he said he had decided to step down in January 2013, when he will be 65, seven years younger than the usual retirement age for an Episcopal bishop.

"The fact is," he said, addressing his parishioners, "the last seven years have taken their toll on me, my family, and you."

In the aftermath of that announcement, Robinson insisted in an interview Monday that he was not throwing in the towel, and hadn't been defeated by the detractors who blamed his election for widening a rift in the worldwide Anglican Communion over homosexuality.

"In no way am I being run off by those who opposed me or the positions that I take," he said. "If death threats were going to scare me off, I would have left in the first year of being bishop when they were coming at me all the time."

Rather, he said, he is resigning — not retiring — as bishop of New Hampshire at a normal age for someone to scale back, and he intends to be active in some role he has not yet defined. He will still be a bishop, he said, just not the leader of a diocese.

"There's no question that I will continue to be active in trying to achieve full and equal rights for gay, lesbian, transgendered and bisexual people, and I'm also very interested in how religion intersects with public policy," he said.

Meanwhile, he said, he would remain "absolutely focused" on his ministry in New Hampshire. "I have never been discouraged by any of this," he said.

"It's a terrible thing that some people feel so angry and so hateful," he added. "But that's between them and God, and I have been able to keep my faith intact and have never wavered in loving this ministry."

Those who know him say Robinson may have been feeling the strain of doing, in effect, two jobs: one as the head of a diocese of 15,000 people and one as an international gay rights icon who was a lightning rod for criticism.

"Gene initially simply wanted to be the bishop of New Hampshire — that was his vocation, his call," said Bishop Mary Glasspool of Los Angeles, who in May became the Episcopal Church's second openly gay bishop. "And I think he had to wrestle with the fact that the [gay] community worldwide had some expectations of him that he then had to consider … as he became a symbol and an icon for other communities around the world."

"Certainly," she said, "the stress of that, in and of itself, can wear you down."

Robinson "paved the way for me and for others like me," Glasspool added, noting that unlike him, she did not wear a bulletproof vest to her consecration ceremony and had never received a death threat.

Robinson's election as bishop in 2003 was a seismic event in the worldwide Anglican Communion, whose U.S. branch is the Episcopal Church. It prompted dozens of U.S. congregations and several dioceses to leave the church and affiliate with more conservative Anglican churches overseas.

Christopher Sugden, a British Anglican who is executive secretary of Anglican Mainstream, a group that promotes orthodox teachings, said the communion remained divided by the decision to consecrate gay bishops.

"His retirement doesn't change anything," Sugden said. "The issue is the refusal of the Episcopal Church to adhere to the agreed doctrinal standards of the communion, and their leadership's determination to promote, and in North America to enforce, ethical and doctrinal standards that are contrary to the clear teaching of Scripture as received by the universal church. They have chosen to walk apart."

To Robinson's supporters, that break is a badge of courage. Margaret Porter, moderator of New Hampshire's Episcopal Diocesan Council, said there had been little regret over Robinson's selection and much sadness over his early departure.

"I think we knew initially when we took him that we'd be sharing him with the world," she said. "That's been a very positive thing."

Copyright © 2010, Los Angeles Times

A few random thoughts on the occasion of the announcement of the retirement of a bishop

The very first hymn I ever memorized (all five verses!) was "The Church's One Foundation." I could still sing them all for you this very minute (since I can evidently remember things I memorized in 3rd grade but can't remember where I put my car keys) but here's the "bottom line" ... which is also the first line:
The church's one foundation
is Jesus Christ her Lord ...
There's a lot more after that but that's the point. Of the hymn and of the church. Founded on Jesus Christ our Lord to FOLLOW Jesus Christ our Lord ... to be the Body of Christ in the World. To make the Year of the Lord's Favor a reality. To bring that kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.

And to make all that happen we've been given an abundance of historic tools that include doctrines and disciplines; prayer books and prie dieus; bibles and bishops.

If one of the most formative hymns in my journey was "The Church's One Foundation" then one of the most formative teachers was Jim Sanders ... who was my OT professor in seminary. He was the one who taught me -- over and over -- that what gets us in trouble over and over and OVER again is "worshipping the gift rather than the giver."

It got the Israelites in trouble in the desert between Egypt and the Promised Land when they decided to drag the golden calf out. It got the people of Israel in trouble once they BECAME the people of Israel when they kept forgetting that the point of the Temple was to worship God ... not to worship their Temple worship. And it's gotten the Church in trouble over and over and OVER again because instead of remembering that JESUS is the church's one foundation it gets all caught up in the other bits and pieces.

Like bishops.

I love bishops. Some of my best friends are bishops. I'm pleased, proud and thankful to be part of the church that has bishops ... a whole order of ministry specifically called and chosen to "guard the faith, unity and discipline of the church." And I'm particularly grateful to be part of the church that elects our bishops.

And here's the breaking news: bishops come and bishops go. We elect them. They serve. They retire. Some of them retire to some Dick Cheneyesque "undisclosed location" -- never to be heard from again -- and others retire to exercise vibrant ministries for years and years beyond their tenure as Diocesan. Or Suffragan. +Paul Moore comes to mind. So does +Barbara Harris. And (love him or hate him!) +Jack Spong.

So with all the hoopla around last Saturday's announcement of the impending retirement of the Bishop of New Hampshire, let's keep a few things in mind:

When +Gene retires in January 2013 he:
[a] will be 65 years old
[b] will have been Diocesan Bishop for 9 years and
[c] will have been ordained for 40 years ... and if that's not a nice biblical number, I don't know what is!
He's not being "run off." He's not going to disappear. And as fabulous a bishop as he has been for the great Diocese of New Hampshire I do not have a shadow of a doubt that the Holy Spirit has somebody else fabulous in mind to be the 10th Bishop of New Hampshire.

So let's review. Don't worship the gift, worship the giver. Remember that the church's ONE foundation is Jesus. And everybody sing:
Though with a scornful wonder
we see her sore oppressed,
by schisms rent asunder,
by heresies distressed,
yet saints their watch are keeping;
their cry goes up, "How long?"
And soon the night of weeping
shall be the morn of song.
So here's to bishops -- who come and go. And to Jesus -- who is with us always. And most of all to the Giver -- who is NOT to be confused with any of the abundant gifts we have been given by the one who loved us enough to become one of us in order to teach us how to walk in love with each other.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

MEANWHILE ... here's a celebration of All Saints Church for All Saints Sunday

Three minutes of why I love, love, love my parish!!

Responses to +Gene Robinson's retirement announcement

Love this comment on yesterday's post about +Gene's retirement announcement:
+Gene is an amazing man. If aliens landed their spaceship in my yard and demanded that I show them a Christian, I would without hesitation take them to New Hampshire and introduce them to him.

Yep. Yep. Yep!!!

Here's some of the press follow up:

Riazat Butt in The Guardian:Gene Robinson goes but rift remains
The Reverend Susan Russell, former president of Integrity USA, which works for inclusion of gays and lesbians in the life of the church, called his retirement "the beginning of the end of an era".

She told the Guardian: "We're moving towards a time when electing a gay bishop will be increasingly normative. We have just elected a lesbian dean at San Francisco's Grace Cathedral. While much of the rest of the communion struggles with issues around women, gay clergy and the covenant, we are moving forward.

"Jesus said to 'take up the cross and follow me'. He never said it would be easy. We are paying the price for being prophetic."
The Boston Globe: Episcopalians react with sadness
The last seven years "have been a great gift for all of us," said the Rev. Robin Thomas Soller, rector at Trinity Episcopal Church in Meredith, N.H., and a member of the search committee that selected Robinson. "In some ways I think it's been more of a challenge for the rest of the world, because they haven't had the opportunity to meet Gene Robinson . . . to see how genuine he is, to see his love for God and the people here."
Giles Fraser, also in The Guardian: Churchgoers are inspired by Gene Robinson
There is no doubt in my mind that Robinson has been a prophet in the Anglican communion, recalling the church to its best instincts of inclusion and commitment to those who are excluded and marginalised. In Christ there is neither Jew nor Greek, rich nor poor, black nor white, gay nor straight. Some day this will be as obvious to the church as the fact that slavery is evil. But the forces of reaction remain strong and are getting stronger.
Fraser goes on to offer quite a stunning indictment of the ill-conceived Anglican Covenant proposal, ending on this great note:
The Church of England – and by that I mean the ordinary man and woman in the pew – is considerably more progressive, on women bishops and gay marriage, than its conservative and often overly fearful leadership. Churchgoers know that the time for change is overdue. And many have come to see this because of the inspiring and compassionate faith of people like Robinson.

For too long Christianity has lent the bigotry of homophobia a cloak of respectability. Robinson is, of course, quite right to shout loudly about those "tragic stories of teenagers who have taken their own lives because religion tells them they are an abomination before God, and who believe their lives are doomed to despair and unhappiness". These days the alibi for this sort of prejudice is called unity – that we mustn't do anything that might upset our conservative brothers and sisters. Indeed, had the covenant existed in the era of the prophets of the Hebrew scriptures, it would have provided a perfect way of muzzling them too
Not much to add to that other than Amen. Amen. AMEN!

Saturday, November 06, 2010

The Beginning of the End of An Era

The Right Reverend V. Gene Robinson -- the 9th Bishop of New Hampshire -- announced today that he is calling for the election of the 10th Bishop of New Hampshire as he will be retiring in January 2013.

Walking With Integrity writes:
Integrity joins with the Diocese of New Hampshire in celebrating the work and witness of Bishop Gene Robinson as we enter a time that is arguably the beginning-of-the-end-of-an-era. And we look forward to moving more fully into God's future to a time when all the baptized are fully included in the Body of Christ!
AP's Rachel Zoll was on top of the story, as usual ... and Laurie Goodstein just posted this piece in the New York Times. I was pleased to see that our "No Anglican Covenant" campaign got some attention in her article:
Late last month, an international coalition of liberal Anglicans started a campaign to reject the covenant, saying, “The covenant seeks to narrow the range of acceptable belief within Anglicanism.”

The group, Anglicans for Comprehensive Unity, said, “Rather than bringing peace to the Communion, we predict that the covenant text itself could become the cause of future bickering and that its centralized dispute-resolution mechanisms could beget interminable quarrels and resentments.”
Meanwhile, the Concord Monitor offered this "on site" reflection from a diocesan delegate to the convention:
Nicki Bourne of Grace Episcopal Church in Concord, said Robinson has shown her and the wider church that living as a Christian means being open and welcoming to all people. “And not just gay people,” she said. “It is a constant reminder that we should be inclusive of all people and to show rebounding love.”
And what better could anyone ever say about ANY of us as we work to make God's love known in the world?

So prayers ascending in thanksgiving for the gift of the last 7 years of +Gene's work and witness in New Hampshire and to the whole church ... and in anticipation of more good things to come!

Friday, November 05, 2010

Bishops Behaving Badly

My, my, my.

So I'm finishing up a GREAT visit to the Diocese of Louisiana with a NOT so great three-hour mechanical flight delay and catching up on email at the gate. (TBTG for airport wifi!) And what a deluge of details on the reaction to our November 3rd launch of the "No Anglican Covenant" website!!

We certainly got Bishop Gregory Cameron's (bless his heart!!) attention ... and not in a good way. He's evidently compared those of us who object to this ill-conceived proposal as a wolf of coercion clothed in the sheep's clothing of covenant language to “an ecclesiastical BNP” and called us “latter-day Little Englanders.”

I'm not up-to-date enough on English Political Polemic to quite "get" the implications of that comparison but it looks like it would the be the American equivalent of playing the "Nazi" and/or "Tea Party" cards.

There are two ways to look at this IMHO:

Number One: It's a sad commentary that a bishop would resort to that kind of ad hominem vitriol rather than engaging our concerns on their merits.
Number Two: Methinks we hit a nerve.

So here's your chance to help make your voice heard. Click here to visit the Church Times website. Click on the "Question of the week" link on the left nav. And vote "Yes" to "Should the Church of England reject the Anglican Covenant."

And stay tuned. There is doubtless more to come on this one!!

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

NO ANGLICAN COVENANT launches communion wide campaign

Happy Richard Hooker Day!

It is no coincidence that today -- November 3rd AKA the Feast of Richard Hooker -- was chosen to launch an international campagin to oppose the proposed Anglican Covenant.

The new website -- No Anglican Covenant: Anglicans for Comprehensive Unity -- offers an impressive wealth of resources, background information and context to inform, empower and engage in the process of pushing back on this ill conceived proposal. And I am honored to listed among a truly amazing cloud of witnesses calling our communion to reclaim its foundational value of Anglican comprehensiveness.

Like a wolf in sheep’s clothing, the current proposal is coercion in covenant clothing. Scripture and tradition tell us to value the ideal of Covenant. Reason tells us to reject this proposal lest we throw out the baby of historic Anglican comprehensiveness with the bathwater of hysteric Anglican politics.

Here's today's press release.


LONDON - An international coalition of Anglicans has been created to campaign against the proposed Anglican Covenant. Campaigners believe the proposed Covenant constitutes unwarranted interference in the internal life of the member churches of the Anglican Communion, would narrow the acceptable range of belief and practice within Anglicanism, and would prevent further development of Anglican thought.

The Coalition's website will provide resources for Anglicans around the world to learn about the potential risks of the proposed Anglican Covenant.

"We believe that the majority of the clergy and laity in the Anglican Communion would not wish to endorse this document," according to the Coalition's Moderator, the Revd. Dr. Lesley Fellows, who is also the Coalition's Convenor for the Church of England. "Apart from church insiders, very few people are aware of the Covenant. We want to encourage a wider discussion and to highlight the problems the Covenant will cause."

The idea of an Anglican Covenant was first proposed in 2004 as a means to address divisions among the member churches of the Anglican Communion on matters ranging from human sexuality to the role of women. The current draft of the Covenant, which has been unilaterally designated as the "final" draft, has been referred to the member churches of the Communion.

The proposed Covenant establishes mechanisms which would have the effect of forcing member churches to conform to the demands and expectations of other churches or risk exclusion from the Communion.

Critics of the proposed Anglican Covenant, including members of the new Coalition, believe that it will fundamentally alter the nature of historic Anglicanism in several ways, including the narrowing of theological views deemed acceptable, the erosion of the freedom of the member churches to govern themselves, and the concentration of authority in the hands of a small number of bishops.

Two English groups, Inclusive Church and Modern Church, ran anti-Covenant advertisements in last week's Church Times and the Church of England Newspaper aiming to make more members of the Church of England aware of the dangers of the proposed Anglican Covenant.

"If the Anglican Communion has a problem, this is not the solution," according to former Bishop of Worcester Peter Selby. "Whether those who originated the Covenant intended it or not, it is already, and will become even more, a basis for a litigious Communion from which some will seek to exclude others."

The launch of the No Anglican Covenant Coalition website coincides with the commemoration of the sixteenth-century theologian Richard Hooker. "Hooker taught us that God's gifts of scripture, tradition, and reason will guide us to new insights in every age," according to the Canadian priest and canon law expert, the Revd. Canon Alan Perry.

"The proposed Anglican Covenant would freeze Anglican theology and Anglican polity at a particular moment. Anglican polity rejected control by foreign bishops nearly 500 years ago. The proposed Anglican Covenant reinstates it."

The No Anglican Covenant Coalition began in late October with a series of informal email conversations among several international Anglican bloggers concerned that the Covenant was being rushed through the approval process before most Anglicans had any opportunity to learn how the proposed new structures would affect them.

Revd. Dr Lesley Fellows (England) +44 1844 239268
Dr. Lionel Deimel (USA) +1-412-512-9087
Revd. Malcolm French (Canada) +1-306-550-2277
Revd. Lawrence Kimberley (New Zealand) +64 3 981 7384

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

"Seven whole years, not one in seven"

It's the hymn tune I woke up with in my head today ... some of us know it as General Seminary ... and one line I've always liked particularly is "seven whole days, not one in seven, I will praise Thee." But today I'm singing "years" instead of "days" in my head.

Seven years ago today I was in New Hampshire ... headed to a hockey rink where the Holy Spirit and the Diocese of New Hampshire would make a bishop in the church of God out of my friend Gene Robinson.

It was an amazing day of grace and power and challenge and opportunity. We made our way into the arena past protesters, media trucks and bomb sniffing dogs, through metal detectors and security checks. And at the end of the day New Hampshire had a new bishop and the Episcopal Church had taken another step forward on that arc of history we are promised bends toward justice. And inclusion.

And this morning when I woke up with General Seminary in my head it was REALLY early. Some call it "oh-dark-thirty." Others call it "the crap of dawn." It was actually 4:15 a.m. when the alarm went off to get me up and out and on the way to the airport. And so here I am -- seven years to the day that we were in New Hampshire together -- on my way to another "New" place ... New Orleans.

I'm writing this between flights (thanks for the free wifi, McCarren Airport!) ... and I'm honored and excited to have been invited to come to New Orleans to preach a bit, speak a bit, meet-and-greet a bit ... to talk about "Common Ground & Social Justice" in the Diocese of Louisiana.

The last seven years haven't all been easy but they've been blessed. All seven of them ... not one in seven. Blessed by opportunities to continue to move the church forward toward the full inclusion of all the baptized in all the sacraments. Blessed by chances to witness to the world the Good News of God's inclusive love. Bless by the God who loves us -- as +Gene keeps reminding us -- beyond our wildest imaginings. And who calls us to go and do likewise in Her name.

And seven years ago as we worked our way through the lines outside that hockey arena in New Hampshire I could not have imagined that seven years later I'd be heading to New Orleans. Heaven only knows what God has in mind for the NEXT seven years ... but whatever it is, I know General Seminary will be the background music!

So Happy Anniversary to Bishop Robinson ... to the Diocese of New Hampshire ... to the Church of God ... to ALL of us.

And now, on to New Orleans!