Monday, April 30, 2012

An Update on Bishop Bruno

 Update on Bishop Bruno: "Bishop Jon Bruno thanks everyone for the outpouring of prayers and love that he has received since his April 26 diagnosis with acute monocytic leukemia. He has begun intensive chemotherapy at the City of Hope, to wh...ich he transferred on April 27. His medical team continues to evaluate the effectiveness of this particular protocol and to determine next steps of treatment.
The Bishop remains actively engaged in leadership of the Diocese; however, because he is in protective isolation, he cannot receive visits, calls or flowers at this time. Cards are very welcome and may be sent to the Cathedral Center, 840 Echo Park Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90026.
Mary Bruno and the Bruno family join the Bishop in thanking everyone for the many expressions of ongoing support and prayer."

Good News for RCRC and for Harry Knox!

This just in from Integrity ... good news for Women's Reproductive Rights AND good news for my friend Harry Knox!

Integrity is proud to announce that our interim Executive Director, Harry Knox, has been appointed President and CEO of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice.

“We are delighted both for Harry and for RCRC,” said Caroline Hall, President of Integrity, “while of course, being sorry that we will not benefit from his expertise and leadership for longer. When we hired Harry for this interim position, we knew that he was in discernment, seeking another permanent position commensurate with his abilities and experience and that his time with Integrity would be limited. We are grateful for all he has done for us and for the work that he continues to do as he completes his recommendations for Integrity’s next steps and helps us prepare for our General Convention presence.

As marriage equality is gaining strength so reproductive rights are increasingly under attack. The Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice provides an excellent platform for Harry’s extraordinary gifts as it meshes his passion for women’s rights with the opportunity to articulate an alternative faith voice to the dominant right-wing outlook.”

"It is an honor and a privilege to be Integrity USA's Interim Executive Director, said Knox. “Integrity is at the forefront of faith in action. I am deeply grateful to have worked with an organization that has been such an effective witness and gracious presence for the LGBT community in the Church and the world."

Integrity will continue to benefit from Harry’s  gifts during this time of transition as we prepare for and look beyond General Convention -- working with the board and staff to ensure that Integrity has a powerful presence in Indianapolis and is positioned to go from strength to strength as we continue to work in the dioceses to make All mean All.

Click here to read the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice's press release about Harry

For more information contact:
Louise Brooks
Director of Communications
Integrity USA

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Sadly and literally a "Sign of the Times"

From Saturday's "March Against the War on Women" here in Los Angeles.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

My bishop needs your prayers

My bishop needs your prayers. In the email message send to our diocese on Thursday, Bishop Bruno shared:
"Having had what I thought was a bout of pneumonia since the House of Bishops last met in March, I have gone back into the hospital to determine what this nagging problem has been … and I will start immediately to begin aggressive treatment for Acute Monocytic Leukemia (AML M5)."
The full statement is available on the Diocese of Los Angeles website.

Please do keep Bishop Bruno; his wife Mary and their family; the Diocese of Los Angeles -- especially bishops suffragan Diane Bruce and Mary Glasspool; and his doctors in your prayers during this difficult time. Give thanks for his prophetic witness to the Good News of God's inclusive love available to all people everywhere. And pray that he might be restored to a place of wholeness in body, soul, mind and spirit through the healing power of God's grace and love.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

VAWA passes in the Senate

The Violence Against Women Act gives law enforcement the ability to investigate, prosecute and prevent violent crimes against women. It also funds vital programs for victims of domestic violence. This year’s reauthorization modernizes existing programs and explicitly prevents VAWA grant recipients from discriminating against victims who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender -- a provision long overdue.

So of course there were efforts to amend it in the Senate -- and it will face a tougher fight in the House. So pay attention. Keep up on this one. Call, email, text, tweet and lobby your Congressional Representative to stand up againt violence against women -- ALL women -- and get this puppy signed into law!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Deep in the Heart of TEXAS!

Some Breaking News from the Lone Star State:

So it's been a very busy Tuesday and I have one more meeting (at 7pm) and while I'm getting my ducks in a row for that I get an email "Subject: Big News from Texas" and I think "Yeah, well, isn't everything big in Texas?"

And it turns out to be the release of a 124 page paper entitled "Unity in Mission" from the Episcopal Diocese of Texas WITH a FAQ sheet on how they will move forward with the blessing of same-gender unions if/when resources are approved in Indianapolis. Seriously. Check it out!

From the Press Release: Texas Bishop Announces Plan to Navigate Proposed Rite
The Bishop of Texas, C. Andrew Doyle, announced his response to the likely approval at this summer’s General Convention of the blessing of same-gender covenants today at a special meeting of diocesan clergy. Bishop Doyle outlined his plan to help unify the Diocese of Texas, addressing both liberal and traditional congregations’ positions at the gathering at Camp Allen April 24.
Bishop Doyle began working with former Secretary of State James Baker in 2010 to develop the outline of his plan. He has since received support for his leadership from people in the diocese who represent the broad diversity of opinion on the blessing of same-gender covenants.

“My plan does not ask for further debate or require approval,” Bishop Doyle told the clergy gathered at Camp Allen. “I have not asked people to change their positions or even to like the plan that I am setting before us,” he explained. “It is my deepest desire to offer a generous breadth of pastoral care for our members throughout the diocese. “
Unity in Mission -- A Paper on Common Mission and the Challenge Posed by Division
FAQs -- Frequently Asked Questions

Monday, April 23, 2012

Who do we say that they are?

I'm still "dwelling" on my experience with the APU students on Thursday night last week. If you missed it, I wrote about it on this blog here ... and then in a piece on the Huffington Post called "Voices from a Parking Lot" that posted up live today.

As I noted in the comment over on Facebook:
Would appreciate any help you can give “liking” – sharing – tweeting – commenting – etc. As wearying as it all is, we cannot afford the luxury of “movement fatigue” when these kids are still being relegated to parking lots to speak of their struggle to rise above "the continual nausea of eating your own shame."
Because that's what still haunts me from that last Thursday night in the Citrus College Parking Lot -- the idea that a bright, creative, 20-year college student has to live with the nauseating impact of internalized homophobia just breaks my heart. And pisses me off.

Breaks my heart because I've raised two boys -- and it was hard enough to watch them have to navigate the challenges of self-esteem and self-understanding through those tough years of young adulthood without the burden an internalized shame about their sexual orientation. And pisses me off because I know for a fact-certain that as a card carrying, collar wearing Christian the faith I both espouse and represent has been mis-represented and mis-used to convince this kid -- and others like him -- that there is something inherently shameful about being gay. Or lesbian. Or bisexual or transgender.

So tonight, as I was doing some research for a vestry committee meeting tomorrow night ("Reframing Hope: Vital Ministry in a New Generation" by Carol Howard Merritt ... check it out ... great book.) I came across this paragraph that resonated not with the committee meeting coming up tomorrow night but with the parking lot experience last week:
Scripture reminds us that we have the power to bless and to curse. (Genesis 12:3) This may seem like a foreign concept, but any father who hears the words “I love you” from his child knows the power of a blessing. The words create a reality. Parents also often have the power the bless and curse, and indeed we parents are typically the first ones to create our children’s realities. Our answers to their question of “Who do you say that I am?” have a lasting effect on them, for better or worse. When children are formed under the constant drone of disparaging words, it can damage them for their entire lives. Whether disparaging or affirming, others’ words form our attitudes, shape our ability to trust and model for us how to give and receive love.”
What word do we give our LGBT children? Who do we say that they are? If we do not say it loudly, clearly, openly and often that they are a BLESSING then they are at risk of growing up internalizing the message that they are a CURSE ... and ending up living with the continual nausea of eating their own shame.

The question isn't whether we have the power to bless. The question is whether we have the will to use it.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Discovering the "Art of Discovery"

It started with an email
from our youth director Isaac
on Sunday afternoon:

"I’m e-mailing you because I was asked to find a priest
that would be free this Thursday to come and pray for an event that Haven
(the secret LGBT club at APU)
is hosting at Citrus College.
I thought of you, especially since you came out
in the article that was published at APU’s magazine a while back.
Let me know if you will be free this Thursday
and could make to the event."

I wasn't exactly "free."
I was scheduled to be at a meeting down at City Hall
planning LGBT Heritage Month coming up in June --
but when I checked out the Facebook event link Isaac sent
and read about what the APU student group was putting together
I sent my regrets to the Heritage Month planning team
and put "Art of Discovery" on my agenda instead.

They had me at:
We are the Haven of APU,
group of students working specifically
to create brave spaces on our campus for the LGBTQ community.
We are forced to meet in secret.”

So Thursday night,
instead of heading south on the 110 to Los Angeles City Hall
to a meeting in the Mayor's Chambers
with a planning team working to put together
a month of celebrations honoring our LGBT Heritage,
I headed east on the 210 to an event in the parking lot of Citrus College
with a courageous team of young leaders working to create
a safe space to speak their truth
and claim their experience as LGBT people.

More about the event:
Hosted by Haven, which is a support network of LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer) students and supporters from Azusa Pacific University that is not yet recognized by the school "Art of Discovery" is an evening of music, art, dance, poetry and much, much more exploring the topics of gender, sexual orientation, sexual identity.

It will be held in the Citrus College Student parking lot that runs along Barranca, next to APU (the back parking lot of Citrus College). Last year we were able to host it on campus, but this year after a number of denied proposals by APU's administration we have been limited to hosting this off campus. Citrus has graciously given space on their campus.

We believe it is important for people of sexual or gender minority to have the freedom to express themselves, share their stories, and exist openly within an affirming and supportive community. This night of expression exists to create a space that reminds us that we are not alone and with the continued effort of students, alumni, family, and friends, one day the LGBTQ community will be able to exist openly without repercussion.
The evening began
with the organizers introducing the purpose of “Haven” …

We believe that the full spectrum of sexual orientation is something to be celebrated, not suppressed.

We exist primarily to provide a safe place acceptance
for those of any sexual orientation
who might feel marginalized by APU’s policies or culture.

Though on campus advocacy is not our primary purpose,
we hope to be a springboard for events
that promote awareness, tolerance and equality
among students of all sexual orientations and gender identities.

... and then a reading of this poem by Mary Oliver: "Wild Geese"

You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about your despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting --
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

And then I was invited up
to give an opening prayer
followed by the “as advertised” evening
of music, art, dance, poetry and much, much more.

And I sat in the parking lot of Citrus College
in awe of the courage of the witness of these brave young people –
touched by the power of their pain
in the face of institutional and individual homophobia.
And I recognized how far we are
from turning the human race into a human family
that equally loves, values and affirms its LGBTQ family members
as I listened to the 20 year old college student
speak of his struggle to rise above
“the continual nausea of eating your own shame.”

And then I got in my car
and drove west on the 210 –
back to my regularly scheduled life
where it is so easy to get complacent
about “how far we’ve come”
and so tempting to succumb
to what they’re calling “movement fatigue”
and so hard sometimes to remember
when I’m preaching from the pulpit at All Saints Church
or sitting in the hall of the House of Deputies
or meeting the Mayor’s Chambers at L.A City Hall
or going about any of the other daily details
of my very busy, very important schedule
that there are kids in parking lots
and lecture halls and church pews
struggling to rise above
the continual nausea of eating their own shame
when they should be
claiming their place in the family of things.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

More Planned Parenthood = Less Abortion

"A Religious Attack on Women" is what the Pasadena Star-News entitled my Letter to the Editor ... which they printed on Sunday, April 8. (Yes ... that would be EASTER Sunday ... so it kind of got lost in the shuffle.)

Anyway ... better late than never ... and because the War on Women continues unabated, here it is:
Pasadena Star-News [April 8, 2012]

As a priest and pastor, I have reason to be grateful that the 40 Days for Life group has been out drawing attention to the Planned Parenthood health center in our community. The scripture that comes to my mind is John 8:32 - "The truth will set you free" - because while these protesters pray to end abortion, the truth is that Planned Parenthood is answering their prayers with action.

Planned Parenthood does more than any other organization in the country to prevent unintended pregnancies by providing preventive services like birth control and accurate information to everyone who needs it, regardless of their personal or financial circumstances.

I've been appalled that leaders of the religious right have been fighting so hard to restrict women's access to birth control. They've gone down a dangerous road that does nothing to reduce abortion or address the needs of the women and families. In fact, they've put their energies toward judging and shaming women.

I find this attack on women absolutely unacceptable. And I urge my fellow clergy to lead with compassion and focus on real solutions, like supporting organizations that provide women with the tools and information they need to reduce the need for abortion services. My faith calls us to focus on God's work and help people obtain life-saving preventive health care like cancer-screenings and contraception.

As 40 Days for Life comes to a close, I'd like to thank Planned Parenthood for doing so much to end the need for abortion, and for being there for everyone who needs them, every time.

Rev. Susan Russell
All Saints Episcopal Church
Seriously -- I was a history major because there was no math requirement and even I can "do the math" that tells me the more access women have to comprehensive health care the fewer unplanned pregnancies there will be and the fewer unplanned pregnancies there are the fewer abortions there will be.

We are now looking forward here at All Saints Church to Sunday, April 29th and the chance to welcome Planned Parenthood's Cecile Richards to the Rector's Forum for a presentation entitled "Turning the War on Women to Advantage"

Cecile Richards is President of Planned Parenthood Federation of America and the Planned Parenthood Action Fund. Here's the description of the upcoming Forum:
Women’s health care has the best of all possible advocates in Cecile Richards. Even before the panel of four conservative Republican men held their press conference explaining what women could and could not do with their bodies, Richards had taken Planned Parenthood to a new level, adding advocacy for the needs of women and families to its service component.

On the tails of the Susan B. Komen Foundation’s withdrawal of financial support from Planned Parenthood, Richards used social media to rally energy across the nation against the conservatives’ growing attack on women. The result was a huge increase in dedicated donors and supporters for Planned Parenthood, as well as a reversal from the Komen Foundation.

A life-long organizer, Richards knows how to turn bodies into voters and activists. She has been especially successful in attracting young people to the organization, persuading peer educators to become spokespeople and essential activists. About a third of these young leaders are now young men. The daughter of former Texas Governor, Ann Richards, she was raised in a family committed to social justice and public service. She founded and served as president of American Votes, a coalition of 42 national grassroots organizations working to maximize registration, education, and voter participation nationwide. Before taking the helm of Planned Parenthood, she served as deputy chief of staff for House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi.

All Saints is especially delighted to have this opportunity to speak with Cecile Richards in keeping with our long-standing tradition of supporting women’s right to access comprehensive medical care and accurate information. In 1989, then rector George Regas convened a task force of 25 women to reflect on the Supreme Court’s decision to narrow the access to abortion, with a resulting resolution by the Vestry declaring All Saints a Prayerfully Pro-Choice Church, advocating for more and better types of birth control, making abortion less and less a necessary option.
Come by, if you can. "Stream in" if you can't!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

At work in the fields of the Lord ...

... AKA Pasadena City Council

Seriously. Who knew that an open hearing on a Master Development Plan could be a spiritual experience? Who knew that after over five years of hearings, meetings, reviews, redesigns, rebuttals, EIRs, hearings, meetings, reviews and RE-redesigns we would end up with a UNANIMOUS City Council supporting the All Saints vision for new facilities for mission and ministry in the Pasadena Civic Center?

Who knew that the Open Hearing ... we were Agenda Item #20 scheduled for 7:00 p.m. ... would last until 10:20 p.m. ... with council deliberations to follow. Who knew that 45 people would sign up to speak to the plan ... and 40 of them would be supportive. Not just supportive -- but eloquently enthusiastic about the vision, design and planning of world class architecture created to give contemporary articulation to traditional themes in resonance with the iconic buildings already on the All Saints campus.

And although the hearing was about approving a "master plan" -- the massing, placement and density of the proposed buildings -- it was also about the ministries those buildings will incubate. Cultivate. Facilitate. Originate.

Again and again as speaker after speaker came to the microphone, they began their two minutes before the Mayor and Council with how the work and witness of All Saints Church had touched them. Their families. Their organization. Their lives.

  • All Saints incubated the AIDS Service Center which now serves the greater San Gabriel Valley ...

  • All Saints is where I learned to sing in the children's choir 35 years ago and where I'm raising my daughter now ...

  • When I married my husband at All Saints Church ...

  • We are building a youth program for young people in this community who aren't here yet and these buildings will give us the capacity to serve them ...

  • I am not a member of All Saints but I am a member of the Pasadena community that is better because of the work they do for all of us ...

It was humbling. It was inspiring. And -- at the end of the day (or night, more accurately) ... the City Council after over five years of hearings, meetings, reviews, redesigns, rebuttals and EIRs gave us their unanimous consent to move forward.

From the statement issued by the rector to the parish:
The Master Plan we submitted last night has been refined, strengthened and improved by constructive and creative feedback received from the wider Pasadena community during its long and comprehensive approval process of hearings, studies and community consultations.

The unanimous City Council support for our Master Plan demonstrates the power of authentic community to work to bridge differences through cooperation and compromise. We will continue to live out our longtime commitment to “Make Glad the City” as we design, build and commission these buildings for our ongoing mission of turning the human race into the human family.

We are excited to move into the design and implementation phase as the next step in realizing our long-held dream to increase All Saints’ capacity for service to Pasadena and to bring world class architecture to the Civic Center.
We've got a long ways to go before we break ground ... much less move in! ... but we are infinitely closer because of last night's vote of confidence by the City Council. And infinitely inspired by the great cloud of witnesses who spoke -- as well as those who wrote letters, sent emails, attended house meetings, and kept the faith during this long approval process.

Who knew that an open hearing on a Master Development Plan could be a spiritual experience? If we didn't before, we do now!!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Why Our Missing Voices Matter

My Huffington Post response to GLAAD’s "Missing Voices" (the study finding that LGBT faith voices were underrepresented in the mainstream media) concludes:
If information is power, then this information gives us the power to challenge media outlets to balance their reporting; to cultivate diverse religious voices; and to include our voices in the public discourse on LGBT equality. It also challenges progressive people of faith to stand up and speak out, by email, blog comments, Twitter, and even telephone, if necessary, and to "believe out loud" in order to be the change we want to see in the world.
Read the rest here, including:
Our missing voices matter because the traditional Biblical values we proclaim -- justice, love, and compassion -- offer an antidote to the judgment, literalism, and condemnation of the religious right. Our missing voices matter because there are legions of folks out there yearning for a spiritual community and thinking they know enough about being a Christian not to want to be one. And who can blame them when everything they know about what Jesus taught is what Jerry Falwell said or Pat Robertson preached. Our missing voices matter, because when we let Rick Warren speak for Christianity, we let Jesus down.

Our missing voices matter because in town halls, state houses, and the halls of Congress, legislators are lobbied by those determined to write their theology into our democracy. Our voices matter because in order for the First Amendment to protect our freedom of religion, it must also protect our freedom from religion, and the best rebuttal to the rabid religious right is a mobilized messaged religious left.

Our missing voices matter because there are LGBT youth growing up with no clue that there's a God who loves them just the way they are, and that there are communities of faith that would support and encourage them as they grow into the full stature of their gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender adulthood. As my friend Bishop Gene Robinson said, "These are kids who couldn't find Leviticus if their life depended on it, and they end up suicidal because they're convinced God thinks they're an abomination." Our missing voices matter because no child should ever believe he or she is beyond God's love, and our voices offer a lifeline to kids who think their precious lives aren't worth living.

Meanwhile, across the pond:

h/t to Titusonenine on this one ... the Guardian has an article on fixing the leak problem over at the CofE before selecting a new archbishop. From the piece:
An inquiry into the 2010 leak was carried out by Lady Fritchie, a crossbench peer, but its findings were never published. A Church of England spokesman said on Sunday the report was never intended to be made public and was "a private document for the archbishop and CNC members".

The spokesman added that there were no plans to start a fresh investigation into the 2010 leak. "In these sorts of situations anyone on a committee could theoretically have spoken to a third party who then passed it on. That means we are talking about potentially hundreds of people," he said.
Maybe it's just me but ... theoretically ... I would think that getting off your butts and having those conversations in order to ensure the integrity of a process as important as the selection of the next Archbishop of Canterbury might be a better use of time than ... oh, let's just pick trying to cram the proposed Anglican Covenant down the throat of the wider Communion.

But maybe that's just me.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Missing Voices

Did you see the GLAAD study called "Missing Voices" about how LGBT voices of faith are underrepresented in media? Did you get the part where if we don't speak out Rick Warren ends up speaking for Jesus? Do you wonder if there's a "market" for our voices and if anybody cares if we DO speak out? Here's "Exhibit A" ... (and there are currently 754 comments) ... the blog stats from the "Open Letter to the Purpose Driven Pastor" I posted over at the Huffington Post earlier this week.

Yes, our voices matter! I've got a blog coming on this over at the Huffington Post called "Our Missing Voices Matter" so stay tuned for that. But for the moment, I just wanted to post up the link to the GLAAD study which found ... hope you're sitting down ... that LGBT religious voices are "underrepresented" in the national news media.

AKA: No. Duh!

The study found that that three out of every four people of faith called on to speak about LGBT issues in the media came from anti-LGBT traditions. The report was commissioned by GLAAD and conducted by the University of Missouri Center on Religion & the Professions and examines the religious voices presented in national news outlets in print and television on LGBT issues.

From GLAAD's Ross Murray's report on the study:

The research found that the media was overwhelmingly relying on the voices of those whose religions have formal policies opposing LGBT equality, despite the fact that acceptance of LGBT people is growing across all faith traditions. These voices come disproportionately from the Evangelical Christian and, to a lesser degree, Roman Catholic traditions. Most messages from these voices about LGBT people were negative.

“Today’s media has a responsibility to reflect the diversity of religious voices, rather than just those who choose not to support LGBT people,” said Ross Murray, Director of the Religion, Faith & Values Program at GLAAD. “By elevating select anti-LGBT voices who are out of touch with so many in their own churches, media is falsely representing views of entire religious groups and contributing to a climate that isolates LGBT youth and adults from their faith, a false dichotomy that no one should have to make.”

Evangelical Christians account for almost 40 percent of all the negative statements about LGBT issues made by religiously identified spokespeople. And half of the faith organizations called on by the media were Evangelical, even though only a quarter of Americans identify as such.

Spokespeople for Roman Catholic hierarchy accounted for another 12 percent of negative statements, despite the fact that lay Catholics - whom these spokespeople are used by the media to represent - are by and large supportive of the LGBT community.

Equally striking was the finding that voices from the growing number of religious groups that are affirming of LGBT people were largely missing. The mainstream media used far fewer religious sources from Mainline Protestant (17 percent), Jewish (5 percent), or other religious sources whose messages could be expected to be predominantly positive.

A majority of Americans of all religions and denominations support the LGBT community in matters like non-discrimination and hate crime protections. And support continues to grow across the country even on the issue of marriage equality. According to the Public Religion Research Institute, support for marriage equality is strongest among Jews (76 percent), and non-Christian religiously affiliated Americans (63 percent), a group that includes Buddhists, Hindus, and Muslims. But a majority of white Catholics (56 percent), Hispanic Catholics (53 percent), and white mainline Protestants (52 percent) also favor allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry.

Media portrayals reinforce cultural biases, particularly about the relationship between religion and the LGBT community. LGBT or pro-LGBT sources are often presented without any religious affiliation, thus contributing to a false and overly sensational ‘religion vs. gay’ frame. Despite their underrepresentation, there are many examples of LGBT-affirming religious voices, some of whom identify as LGBT themselves.

Within this past week, we caught glimpses of the pro-LGBT religious movement. The ‘Gay Christian? YES!’ campaign launched in Michigan. A young Christian continues his quest to demonstrate the biblical support for equality. A Grammy and Dove-award nominated Christian singer shares her story as a Christian and a lesbian. And a youth Catholic makes the difficult choice to disassociate himself with Catholic Charities because the hierarchy cannot be charitable toward homeless LGBT youth. These are the voices that only exist on the margins and are missing from mainstream media.

GLAAD offers ‘Missing Voices’ to encourage the media to accurately represent pro-LGBT voices of faith. GLAAD will be presenting findings to national and local news rooms as part of a project to elevate messages from pro-LGBT religious voices.

Download the study here

Thursday, April 12, 2012

"Nevertheless ..."

OK ... if you're sick of hearing about my HuffPost piece on Rick Warren then skip this one. But the comments are coming up on 700 and it really IS a fascinating exercise in public theology ... and managing it wasn't on my Easter Week agenda....

And ... as my rector would say ... "Nevertheless ..."

Here's the comment I just posted in response to yet-another commenter taking me to task for "mis-reading" Matthew 20 & 25 to be about "wealth distribution."

I'm bemused by the projection onto this post the idea that it promotes "wealth redistribution"

Let me make it really, really, REALLY clear: It. Does. Not.

My point in using the parables from Matthew is not that God (or Jesus or the Holy Spirit or Ruach or whoever) favors a particular economic solution to the problems of poverty. My point is that God's preferential option for the poor calls us to examine all our preconceived ideas about what is "fair" and trumps them with what is "generous."

And my issue with Rick Warren's ABC interview is not that he isn't entitled to his interpretation of Scripture -- because he most certainly is -- but to challenge the idea that his interpretation and his alone speaks for all Christians. Because it does not.

Critique my position all you want. But kindly critique what I've written ... not what you project onto what I've written. (Thanks for taking time to comment ... fascinating exercise in public theology going on here!)

And then ... if you're in the mood or have some time to kill ... go check it out and comment yourself. Seriously!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Opening Day Double Header!

This is the blog post that ran over at Walking With Integrity yesterday ... it was one of those "perfect storm" days when I actually had a day OFF and was getting caught up on things like laundry and bills when I got the update that a blog I'd posted to the Huffington Post had gone "live" just as I was sending off another one because while I was doing the laundry and paying the bills, I had come across Rick Warren's Easter Sunday interview on ABC "This Week" and just couldn't let well enough alone.

Well ... THAT one they posted up within about 25 minutes ... so there was my Double Header!

I'm proud of both pieces ... the essence of the Homophobia one appeared here on Monday and it's getting a nice response. But the Rick Warren one is getting more attention ... with the over 400 comments posted-or-pending overwhelmingly positive and grateful to be hearing an alternative voice to Purpose Drive Pastor Warren.

Check them out ... and Happy Easter Week! (Alleluia, Alleluia!)


Today was Opening Day at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles and baseball fan Susan Russell celebrated with a Double Header ... two blog posts going live on The Huffington Post on the same day.

"It's unusual for that to happen," Russell said. "But I can't think of a better way to start the new season than with a Dodger win and two blogs up on the HuffPost!"

The first -- "The High Cost of Homophobia" -- was a response to the recently released survey linking homophobic actions to self-loathing and a reflection on the collateral damage done by internalized homophobia.

The second -- "Seriously? An Open Letter to the Purpose Driven Pastor" -- was a reaction to Rick Warren's Easter Sunday interview on ABC's "This Week" and included a remedial look at the Bible and the Bill of Rights.

See for yourself:

"The High Cost of Homophobia"
Catching up on the news of the weekend, I came across a new study linking homophobia to repressed same-sex attractions. My first reaction was, "This belongs in the file folder labeled 'Duh!'" -- because it only confirms what we have long suspected, known, and experienced.

"Seriously? An Open Letter to the Purpose Driven Pastor"
According to Matthew's gospel, when Jesus comes to judge on the last day the answer that gets you into the sheep fold rather than the goat line is not "inasmuch as you were fundamentally fair" -- it was "inasmuch as you fed the hungry, clothed the naked and gave water to the thirsty." And it was most certainly not "inasmuch as you "created wealth" -- it was "inasmuch as you did it unto the least of these."

Monday, April 09, 2012

Wisconsin Equal Pay Law Repealed Because (wait for it) ... "Money Is More Important for Men"

Ironically, while I was reading this post on the care2 blogsite I was listening to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell describe the Republican War on Women as a "manufactured issue" and naming some of his women colleagues who -- he said -- "would be the first to agree" with him ... including Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski.

The same Senator Murkowski who was quoted on Wednesday saying, "It makes no sense to make this attack on women. If you don't feel this is an attack, you need to go home and talk to your wife and your daughters."


But back to Wisconsin, where Governor Scott Walker, reportedly with little notice or discussion, repealed the state’s Equal Pay law. From the report on care2:
"Republican state senator Glenn Grothman, was an enthusiastic fan of repealing the law. According to Grothman, not only is there no actual pay gap between the sexes, if there was one it wouldn’t matter anyway. After all, men need money more than women do, since they have families to support."
Seriously!! And I checked ... sadly this was NOT posted on April 1st nor does it come from The Onion.

A Facebook friend commented "there are no words" ... and I replied "I can think of the a whole bunch of them ... but the only ones I'm willing to put online are these four:"

A study to file away for future reference ...

Catching up on the news of the weekend on a blissfully lazy Easter Monday, I came across this one ... a study linking homophobia to self-phobia. My first reaction was "Duh!" ... which inspired the file folder graphic. Check it out:

From the Science Daily online article:
ScienceDaily (Apr. 6, 2012) — Homophobia is more pronounced in individuals with an unacknowledged attraction to the same sex and who grew up with authoritarian parents who forbade such desires, a series of psychology studies demonstrates.

"In a predominately heterosexual society, 'know thyself' can be a challenge for many gay individuals. But in controlling and homophobic homes, embracing a minority sexual orientation can be terrifying," explains [study leader author Netta] Weinstein. These individuals risk losing the love and approval of their parents if they admit to same sex attractions, so many people deny or repress that part of themselves, she said.

In addition, participants who reported themselves to be more heterosexual than their performance on the reaction time task indicated were most likely to react with hostility to gay others, the studies showed. That incongruence between implicit and explicit measures of sexual orientation predicted a variety of homophobic behaviors, including self-reported anti-gay attitudes, implicit hostility towards gays, endorsement of anti-gay policies, and discriminatory bias such as the assignment of harsher punishments for homosexuals, the authors conclude.

"This study shows that if you are feeling that kind of visceral reaction to an out-group, ask yourself, 'Why?'" says Ryan. "Those intense emotions should serve as a call to self-reflection."
You'll want to read the rest here ...and then -- seriously -- file this one away. Not just for the "gotcha" moment when the next most outspokenly homophobic sponsor of anti-gay legislation caught playing footsie in the Minneapolis airport men's room or outed in some online texting/dating/hook-up scandal hits the news cycle. And you know it will happen.

Instead, file it away to remember that the hurt, pain, damage and destruction inflicted by homophobic based bigotry is all too often the collateral damage of the self-loathing of internalized homophobia. Remember it in order to equip yourself to work like crazy to eradicate homophobic based bigotry without resorting to dehumanizing those who perpetuate it.

File it way because respecting the dignity of every human being means EVERY human being ... even the ones who are wounded, blinded and reactive to their own internalized homophobia. File it away, because, in the words of Desmond Tutu: “When we see others as the enemy, we risk becoming what we hate. All of our humanity is dependent upon recognizing the humanity in others.” File it away as a reminder that the defeat of homophobia does not demand the sacrifice of our humanity.

Which doesn't mean we don't name bigotry when it bites us. It doesn't mean we don't challenge homophobia when it rears its ugly head. And it doesn't mean we won't keep insisting that we will settle for nothing short of the full inclusion of LGBT people in our churches and the equal protection of LGBT people in our country. And we will do that by continuing to fight to overturn DOMA to secure marriage equality and to pass ENDA to end employment discrimination while we continue to challenge anti-LGBT ideologues who have their theology confused with our democracy.

But here's the bottom line: We are not only "in it to win it" -- we are in it to retain our own humanity in the process by refusing to risk become what we hate: the dehumanizing fear of "the other."

So join me in filing this study away for future reference -- and then let's get back to work making justice roll down like waters -- and making liberty and justice for all not just a pledge but a reality!

Alleluia, Alleluia!

When I was a Day School Chaplain I used to tell the kids that Chaplain Susan didn't do 40 Days of Lent to just to ONE day of Easter ... and so we were going to celebrate all FIFTY Days of Easter!

So here's to the all 50 of them ... and here's a look at what the Palm Sunday to Easter Day journey looked like in my neck of the woods:

Saturday, April 07, 2012

"Come As You Are"

Our "launch" date for L.A. Pride 2012 t-shirt sales was "post-Easter" ... but why wait?

Become a walking witness to the radical welcome of God's inclusive love AND the Episcopal Church -- order yours today. You KNOW you want one! (Or two, or fifteen or 100!)

Available May 6 ... order yours now here

The Mystery of Holy Saturday

On this Holy Saturday
as we stand between the two mysteries of faith --
Christ has died and Christ is risen --
it is another kind of mystery to me
that the very Jesus
who gave his life to show us how to love each other
has had that message too often
hijacked and transformed into a weapon
deployed to dominate each other.

It is a mystery to me
that the king whose throne was a cross
and whose dying words were
“My God, forgive them
for they do not know what they are doing”
has been replaced with a judge
whose message is
“My God will not forgive you
unless you are doing it my way.”

Here's hoping the power of the resurrection will free us not only from the fear of death but from the fear of "the other" -- and empower the Church to walk in love as Christ loved us. All of us.

Onward to Easter!

Friday, April 06, 2012

Transgender Deacon Shares Life Changing Story

What a great way to end a Good Friday ... with a link to this local news segment from CBS-Sacramento on the work and witness of Deacon Carolyn Woodall. Well Done!

Transgender Deacon Shares Life Changing Story
This story is extremely rare. In fact, there are only a handful of Episcopal clergy members that are transgendered in the world.

Click here to watch the segment ... (I couldn't get the "embed" feature to work for some reason!) ... and give thanks for the witness Carolyn offers on this Good Friday to God's inclusive love available to absolutely everybody!!

"Thy Kingdom Come" - A Sermon for Good Friday

[The Altar of Repose in the chapel at All Saints Church, Pasadena]
Then they took Jesus from Caiaphas to Pilate's headquarters. It was early in the morning. Then Pilate entered the headquarters again, summoned Jesus, and asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus answered, “Do you ask this on your own, or did others tell you about me?” Pilate replied, “I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests have handed you over to me. What have you done?”

Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not from this world. If my kingdom were from this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here.” Pilate asked him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.” Pilate asked him, “What is truth?”

After he had said this, he went out to the Jews again and told them, “I find no case against him. But you have a custom that I release someone for you at the Passover. Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews?” They shouted in reply, “Not this man, but Barabbas!” Now Barabbas was a bandit.

Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged. And the soldiers wove a crown of thorns and put it on his head, and they dressed him in a purple robe. They kept coming up to him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” and striking him on the face. Pilate went out again and said to them, “Look, I am bringing him out to you to let you know that I find no case against him.”

So Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them, “Here is the man!” When the chief priests and the police saw him, they shouted, “Crucify him! Crucify him!” Pilate said to them, “Take him yourselves and crucify him; I find no case against him.”

They answered him, “We have a law, and according to that law he ought to die because he has claimed to be the Son of God.”

Finally, Pilate handed Jesus over to be crucified.
“Thy Kingdom Come” – Good Friday April 6, 2012

“Finally, Pilate handed Jesus over to be crucified.’

And we know what happens next –
we know where this familiar Good Friday story leads –
know where we will leave it
when we conclude this three hour service
of prayer and reflection; of story and song.

We know that Jesus dies:
that the life -- the promise -- the light that shone so brightly
will be extinguished.
All that will remain of the radical rabbi from Nazareth
will be a broken body and the broken dreams of his scattered followers.
The Kingdom he proclaimed has not come.
The powerful remain powerful: the oppressed remain oppressed –
and where there had been hope there is only despair.
This is the stark truth of this day we call "Good Friday."

There is a poem I come back to again and again on this day. Its author and origin are both lost to me in the mist of Good Fridays past … I have it only as a typed (as on a typewriter … remember those?) scrap of paper in my prayer book.

And it reads:

This is the day
when life is raw, quivering, terrifying:
The day of numbed emotions,
the day of blunt nails
and splintered wood,
of bruised flesh and red blood.
The day we loathe,
when hopes are crushed.

The day we long for,
when pretences fall away—
Because the worst that we can do
cannot kill the love of God.

Yes we know what happens next …
we know where this familiar Good Friday story leads –
To the cross. To the grave. And to resurrection.

It is what we proclaim as “the mystery of faith:”
Christ has died
Christ is risen
Christ will come again

The worst that we can do cannot kill the love of God
is the good news we live our lives in response to
not just on Good Friday
but every day
as we strive to live in alignment with God’s love, justice and compassion
as we partner with God in the holy work
of turning the human race into the human family
as we search for ways to make God’s love tangible 24/7
which is the kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.

We proclaim the mystery of faith
Not the dogma of faith
Not the doctrine of faith
Not the domination of my faith over your faith.

And so it is – on this Good Friday
as we stand again at the foot of the cross --
another kind of mystery to me
that the very Jesus
who gave his life to show us how to love each other
has had that message too often
hijacked and transformed into a weapon
deployed to dominate each other.

The king whose throne was a cross
and whose dying words were
“My God, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing”
has been replaced with a judge
whose message is
“My God will not forgive you unless you are doing it my way.”

The mystery of faith is that
the kingship of Jesus is AND ALWAYS HAS BEEN
vastly different from a worldly kingship.
This is a king who is, first and foremost,
a reconciler, a redeemer and a servant.
This is a king who comes to show us
how to live as a people of God in the kingdom of God—
This is a king who models for us
what “thy kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven” looks like.

On this Good Friday
I bring to the foot of the cross
not only the gospel appointed for today
but two other gospels we’ve heard here at All Saints during Lent.

The first is the Gospel According to poet Adrienne Rich
quoted by the rector in his Palm Sunday sermon:
"We work for the creation of a society without domination."

The second is the Gospel According to anthropologist Margaret Mead:
“Never doubt that a small group of faithful, committed people
can change the world.
Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

The words of these two women
are gospels in the truest sense of the word
[which means “good news”]
because they help me understand
not only what “thy kingdom” looks like;
but also how we might dare to imagine
we can participate in making it “come.”

But back to today’s Gospel according to John.
“Are you the King of the Jews?” Pilate asked – over and over and over again.
And when Jesus was handed over to be crucified
when they reached the hill called Golgotha
the argument about his kingship continued.

"Do not write, 'The King of the Jews,' said the chief priests – write 'This man said, I am King of the Jews" and Pilate replied "What I have written I have written."

It may be what Pilate wrote
but it wasn't what Jesus said – is it?
When he interrogated Jesus,
Pilate started out by asking directly: “Are you the King of the Jews?”
and then – like a first century version of a frustrated prosecuting attorney on Law & Order–
after coming at the question
from several different angles
he had to settle for Jesus' non-responsive response,
"You say that I am a king."
Pilate said it – but Jesus didn't.

The Jesus who hung dying on the cross
had nothing to do with the trappings of kingship
or with earthly power or political authority –
with revenge or with judgment.

Instead, the ministry of the radical rabbi from Nazareth
had everything to do with wholeness,
with restoring creation to the fullness of the peace and justice;
the truth and love that God intended –
with challenging those who followed him
to the high calling of loving their neighbors as themselves.

Quite a challenge, that:
a challenge that required
turning virtually everything the world says about life and death –
about power and control –
upside down.

And it's an even bigger challenge to stay "upside down"
when the world around you is pointing in the opposite direction.

And so it wasn't very long
after the joy of Easter
and the empowerment of Pentecost
that the ways of the world
started to leak back into the infant church.

It wasn't very long
before others stepped in
where Pilate and the chief priests had left off
and began to "spin the story"
to preserve the power of a developing institutional church
rather than to empower the propagation of incarnational love.

A vestige of that can be found in the creeds we inherit …
creeds that emerged from the early church councils
reducing Jesus' life and witness to a footnote:
Creeds that skip from "born of the Virgin Mary"
to "suffered under Pontius Pilate"
leaving an awful lot
of walking in love as Christ loved us
on the cutting room floor!

Verna Dozier in her wonderful book "The Dream of God" describes it thus:

"The people of the resurrection made the incomprehensible gift of grace into a structure. [Rejecting] the frighteningly free gift of God go be a new thing in the world – a witness that all of life could be different for everybody – this gift was harnessed by an institution that established a hierarchy of those who "know" above the great mass of those who must be told." [pg. 4]

And so -- for generations –
those of us who "must be told"
were told all kinds of things
about what Jesus' life and death and resurrection meant.

And a great many of them
bore little or no resemblance
to the actual life and witness of the one the church claims to follow –
of the Jesus …
· who put table fellowship at the center of his life,
· who ate with outcasts,
· who welcomed sinners,
· who proclaimed the year of the Lord's favor,
· who was so centered in God's abundant love
that he was willing to speak truth to power
from that first sermon
that almost got him thrown off the cliff
by his irate Nazarene homies
to his last cross-examination by Pontius Pilate,
the Roman governor of Judea.

Instead we were given
Doctrines we were supposed to digest and not delve into,
Creeds we were supposed to recite and not question,
Scriptures we were supposed to memorize and not contextualize.

And then they wondered why the church was increasingly perceived as irrelevant!

The stumbling block for so many
has nothing to do with the good news of God in Christ Jesus
and everything to do with the disconnect
between the stories Jesus told
of a loving God
calling the whole human family into relationship with God and with each other
and the story the church was telling
of an angry God
demanding blood sacrifice as the price of relationship with Him.
[And it was definitely a "Him."]
And on it goes.

So when I read about the bishop who declared
"the truth that Jesus died as our sin-bearing substitute
carrying the punishment for our sins on the cross
is the glorious heart of the Gospel"
I was right back at the foot of the cross with Pilate
and the chief priests
arguing about what kind of king was this man
who never said he was a king.

And I am convinced
that if we were able to ask Jesus the question
"Are you our sin-bearing substitute
carrying the punishment for our sins on the cross?"
his answer to us would be the same as it was to Pilate:
"You say that I am."

Listen again to these words from the Gospel according to John:

Jesus said, “You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.” Pilate asked him, “What is truth?”

The truth is that the witness we have to offer the world –
the witness we call turning the human race into the human family –
has nothing whatsoever to do
with swallowing morally indefensible theories of blood sacrifice
and everything to do
with living morally accountable lives of service and self-offering.

It has to do with what Frederick Buechner names as
"the place where your deep gladness meets the world's deep need."

It has to do with being the Body of Christ in the world –
it has to do with these words we sing
as we bring the offerings of our lives and labor
to the table on Sunday mornings:

A world in need now summons us
To labor, love and give;
To make our life an offering
To all that all may live.
The church of Christ is calling us
To make the dream come true;
A world redeemed by Christ-like love
All life in Christ made new.

All life made new
is the Easter promise we claim
even as we stand at this moment
at the foot of the Good Friday cross.

All life made new
is the vision we claim
as we strive to live out
the Gospel According to Adrienne Rich
and create a society without domination …
AKA “thy kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.”

And all life made new
is goal we claim
in the power of the Gospel According to Margaret Mead
as a small group of faithful, committed people
working to change the world ... in the Good Friday mystery of faith
that the worst we can do
cannot kill the love of God.

Thursday, April 05, 2012

"I give you a new commandment, that you love one another."

I don't remember the source of this print ... and the little bit of time I had to search for it this afternoon didn't turn up anything helpful ... but it turned up on Facebook today and I thought it an apt post for Maundy Thursday.

Years ago I had a print of it on the wall in my dining room along with a whole assortment of Last Supper art ... happy for the reminder today and for another window into the radical, transforming power of the "new commandment" we celebrate on this Maudy Thursday!

Blessings, all!


UPDATE! Someone who evidently wasn't working on a sermon for Good Friday and had time to dig deeper found this link ... to info on the original work entitled "The First Supper" by Australian artist Susan Dorothea White ... who writes:
I was inspired to paint The First Supper after Leonardo da Vinci's Last Supper, by the narrative drama and magnificent composition of Leonardo's painting. I wanted to challenge the patriarchal concept of thirteen men on one side of a table that is accepted as a celebrated religious symbol. In place of the men, all with similar features, I painted an international group of women.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

From the Potomac to Pasadena: Tick Tock Easter!

"The great Easter truth
is not that we will be born again someday,
but that we are to be alive here and now
by the power of the resurrection."

'Like us, Jesus knew doubt. Like us, Jesus knew fear,' Obama said. [Reuters]

This morning I drew the 7am service in the Holy Week preaching/presiding lottery here at All Saints Church. Between 7:30am on Palm Sunday and 1:00pm on Easter Day we'll do 28 services. Some of them will have hundreds crammed into every nook and cranny of the church with a video feed reaching others in the "upper room" overflow. Others -- like this morning -- will have 8 or 10 scattered about the chapel with our prayers echoing a bit in the bigness of the mostly empty church.

A service like that calls for less of a sermon and more of a meditation ... so this morning I talked about the cost and promise of this following Jesus thing. The cost Jesus knew he was about to pay for speaking truth to power as he sent Judas out into the night to "do what you are about to do." And the promise Jesus claimed that God was with him -- no matter what. That's the journey we travel -- I said -- as ones who follow Jesus. Not just for 40 days during Lent or only in this week we call Holy ... but throughout our lives. God doesn't promise us it will always be easy -- I said -- but the Easter promise is that the God whose love is stronger even than the powers of death will be with us always ... even when we pay the price for speaking truth to power as we align our lives with God's love, justice and compassion.

After the service I went to my desk at an uncharacteristically early hour and -- over my breakfast of coffee and instant oatmeal -- found this update from the White House on the Huffington Post:
WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama says the Easter story of Christ's agony and resurrection has helped him get through the tough moments of an embattled presidency.The president got "Amens" from religious leaders at a White House prayer breakfast in the East Room as he recounted Jesus saying, "In this world, you will have trouble."

Obama says he's among those who sometimes question God's plan for him. But he says that's precisely when he recalls the "triumph" of the Easter story, and Jesus overcoming his doubts and fears before the crucifixion. This is the third year Obama has convened a pre-Easter breakfast meeting. Obama says he hoped for "a little calm before the storm" on Monday when the White House opens its gates to thousands of children for the Easter Egg Roll.
Integrity's Executive Director Harry Knox was one of those "religious leaders at the White House prayer breakfast in the East Room." I hope he got some pictures. And I'll look forward to hearing from him about how he spent his Wednesday in Holy Week.

But this morning ... as I'm finishing up my coffee and oatmeal and getting ready to attack my "Holy Week Hump Day To-Do List" ... I'm intrigued by the continuity of the core message that was preached in the chapel of All Saints Church and proclaimed in the East Room of the White House this Wednesday in Holy Week: The Good News of Easter is with us not just on Easter Sunday but every day of our walk in this troubled world as we go where Jesus went: speaking truth to power and working to make that kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven ... the kingdom of love, justice and compassion that is God's deepest desire for all of us.

Tick Tock Easter!

Sunday, April 01, 2012

"God's Self Portrait" -- A Sermon for Palm Sunday

It was a Sunday of palms, processions and preaching toward the creation of a society without domination.

As we enter the Holy Week journey to Easter ...

"Justice at its best is love correcting everything that stands against love. Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice." – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.