Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Begging to differ with the Bishop of Christchurch

It's a REALLY busy day in this corner of the kingdom and I seriously don't have but a few minutes to respond to the latest episode of "As The Anglican World Turns" as the Anglican Consultative Council meets in New Zealand.


This quote from yesterday's ACNS release begged for at least a quick follow up:
"Bishop of Christchurch the Rt Revd Victoria Matthews told delegates at the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) meeting today that she thought there were two Anglican Communion Covenants: one in people’s heads, the other the one written down."
What I think is actually going on here is that there are two Anglican Communions: one in Bishop Matthews' head and the other one that has actually read, marked, learned, inwardly digested and rejected the proposed Anglican Covenant.

And -- loathe though I am to say "I told you so" -- this is exactly what we get for not managing to suck it up in Indianapolis and give a firm "NO" to the proposed Anglican Covenant from the Episcopal Church. I was honored to the proposer of GC2012 Resolution D007 urging its rejection and what I said in the hearing in Indianapolis is just as true today:
Despite protestations to the contrary, the proposed Anglican Communion Covenant attempts to create a centralized authority that would constrain the self-governance of The Episcopal Church and other churches of the Communion. This unacceptably inhibits Communion churches from pursuing the gospel mission as they discern it.

You will hear this evening from a variety of voices speaking from a variety of perspectives on this issue, and I come to speak as a traditionalist. Our scripture and our tradition tell us to value the ideal of covenant while our reason tells us to reject this proposal lest we throw out the baby of historic Anglican comprehensiveness with the bathwater of hysteric Anglican politics. Like a wolf in sheep’s clothing, the proposed Covenant is nothing less than coercion in covenant clothing – and I urge its rejection.
One of my most memorable GC2012 moments came from a senior deputy from the Diocese of North Carolina who -- in a hearing on another matter -- sagely observed: "Where I come from we have a saying that goes 'When the horse is dead, dismount.'"

This horse is dead -- and it is LONG past time to dismount and quit wasting our precious time and resources when there are so many critical Gospel issues calling for our response.

Monday, October 29, 2012


Looking at all the status updates from east coast friends while watching the storm reports reminds both how connected and how fragile our lives are. Be safe. Be loving. Be aware.
O God, in you we find safety. As we prepare for the arrival of the storm, may we be gathered in the safety of your loving embrace. As we face the possibility of danger through lost power, damaged homes and churches, keep us and our dear ones safe. May your love for us unite us -- and support us; and enable us to support those for whom danger breaches their hope. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.
[Mark Beckwith, Bishop of Newark]

Thursday, October 25, 2012

What happens when you get on my last gay nerve

So it's been a tough week. I had to deal with getting through Louise's birthday for the first time without Louise during an exceptionally busy week at work in the pressure-cooker of an election campaign where everytime you think they can't POSSIBLY sink any lower they do -- and someone like Richard Mourdock (of "God intends the pregnancy of a woman impregnated by her rapist" fame) steps up and says something so heinously horrible that it cries out for a response -- which of course I did. If you missed it, it's here.

So the post got one comment. From someone who goes by "LG" -- an episodic commenter on this blog whose comments are often so polemic that they end up in the little blogger trash can. But it's been a tough week. And my last gay nerve was gotten upon. And so I decided to post her comment. And then I decided to respond to her comment. And THEN I decided to elevate the whole enchilada from a comment thread to a blog post.

So here you go: [a] what it takes to get on my last gay nerve ... LG's comment:
He said, that the child is a blessing from God. (not the rape-- obviously.)Rape (of men or women) is a horrible crime of violence, punishable by many years in prison.

Of Women who are rape victims, less than 2-3% become pregnant. Of those that become pregnant by a Rapist, 15-25% choose to abort the baby. However, in the general population of women, unplanned pregnancies are aborted at 50+%.

I wonder why this is? Do you think its because, they don't want a 2nd act of violence against their own body? The vast majority of rape victims choose to raise their own child. Of the women that do abort the rapist's child, a percentage of them, regret their decision
... and [b] what it looks like when it happens! (my response)
LG ... as you have no doubt noticed I delete more of your comments than I post up.

I am making an exception today in the hopes of using your unrepentant ignorance as a teachable moment. I will use very short words in very clear sentences. Please try to follow along:

Richard Mourdock said a pregnancy resulting from a rape was "what God intended."

Not only does Mr. Mourdock presume to know the mind of God -- he will presume to use the power of his office -- if elected -- to inflict his understanding of what God intends on a woman pregnant as the result of a rape by taking away her right to choose whether to continue or to end the pregnancy.

I have neither the time nor the inclination to research your statistics because they are utterly irrelevant to the case in point.

Whatever percentage of women choose to do what -- and for whatever reason -- when faced with a pregnancy resulting from rape IT IS THEIR CHOICE.

Let me repeat that part.
Listen carefully:

Not yours
Not Mr. Mourdock's
Not Congress
Not the White House.

The woman
Who was raped
And is pregnant.

It is HER choice.

You can have any opinion on that choice you choose to have just as you can have any opinion on what God intends about just about everything.

What you cannot have is permission to write your opinion -- your theology -- into our Constitution.

And neither can Mr. Mourdock.

And THAT ... my unrepentantly ignorant friend ... is precisely the point which you persistently insist on remaining ignorant about.

Adjective: Lacking knowledge or awareness

Here endeth the response to your comment. Time to move along.

Richard Mourdock: Democracy vs. Theocracy

I just sent this blog off the Huffington Post ... not sure when it'll go live on their platform (you never know how long it takes the editors to do their thing) but here's my two cents on Richard Mourdock:

On Tuesday night, October 22, 2012 Indiana Richard Mourdock made the most compelling case for atheism this Episcopal priest has ever heard when he uttered the words: “Even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that is something that God intended to happen.”

As a priest and pastor I can’t count the number of times I’ve met with, talked with, counseled with and engaged with people who struggle to make sense of “the God thing.” Many of those conversations start out with the statement “I don’t believe in God” – but once I get them to tell me about the God they don’t believe in it turns out I don’t believe in that God either.

Because here’s the deal: If I thought my only choice was between “Richard Mourdock’s God” – who “intends” that a woman bear the child of her rapist – and “No God” then I would be an atheist faster than Mitt Romney can change positions on a political issue.

But I am not an atheist. The God I know and serve is one of justice, love and compassion – not judgment, exclusion and condemnation. The Jesus I follow is the one who preached peace, challenged poverty and liberated women. And the church I belong to is one that stands proudly in the prophetic tradition -- committed to putting our faith into action on the issues of social justice that challenge our generation just as our forbears did in theirs.

Ironically, the very same day Richard Mourdock made news with his comments about “what God intends” CNN ran a piece asking “Is Obama the ‘wrong’ kind of Christian?” The lengthy feature article included a history of American Christianity that outlined the faith and values that make me a Christian, summarized here:
“When Obama invoked Jesus to support same-sex marriage, framed health care as a moral imperative to care for “the least of these,’’ and once urged people to read their Bible but just not literally, he was invoking another Christian tradition that once dominated American public life.”
Obama is not the “wrong” kind of Christian: Obama is my kind of Christian. And Mourdock is not. And as theologically indefensible as I find his position on a woman’s right to choose, the First Amendment protects his right – and the right of each and every American -- to be whatever kind of Christian or Muslim or Jew or Buddhist or Atheist they choose to be.

What the First Amendment does NOT protect is the right of any of us to write our theology into our Constitution -- something Joe Biden got totally right in his vice presidential debate with Paul Ryan:
“I accept my church's position that life begins at conception. That's the church's judgment. I accept it in my personal life. But I refuse to impose it on equally devout Christians and Muslims and Jews and--I just refuse to impose that on others, unlike my friend here, the congressman. I do not believe that we have a right to tell other people that women can't control their body.”
There are many things at stake in this presidential election -- but choosing between faith and freedom isn’t one of them.

Protecting the freedom of others to believe what they choose to believe about what “God intends” protects not only our own freedom to believe what “God intends” but defends our democracy from the very real threat of theocracy embodied in the policies of candidates like Richard Mourdock. And that is a battle worth fighting – no matter what you believe or don’t believe about God!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Blast from the Past | Look at the Future

The craziness continues. In the news today:

Yes -- these are the people who would turn the clock back not just four years but FORTY years ... or more. And it's time to stand up. It's time to speak up. And it's time to Draw.The.Line.

And it's time to watch this:

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

October 23, 2012

Today is the 66th anniversary of the birth of Louise Emerson Brooks. The "weather forecast" is for mostly sad with scattered showers of gratitude for the gift of her life and thanksgiving for the support of so many people who loved and appreciated her. And for everybody who's said "Let me know if there's anything I can do" here's the answer: Get Out the Vote.

Help make sure nobody turns the clock back in this country to a time when pre-existing conditions equaled no insurance, when being a woman equaled no choice and when being an American meant having to cringe every time the President opened his mouth. Stay on message. Move Forward. Happy Birthday, Louise!

[October 23, 1946-September 2, 2012]

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Bravo, Phil Snider!

Phil Snider gives one of the best rebuttals to the anti-equality folks I've ever heard -- but you have to listen to the whole thing ... trust me on this one!

Then take a minute and go read the blog he just posted in response to the "gone viral" thing ... it's called "About the Springfield City Council Speech" and it starts out:
The last few hours have been a bit of a whirlwind for me, to say the least. I’m really heartened by all of the emails, Facebook messages, and kind words that I’ve received over the last 24 hours. As I read each one, I don’t see them simply as messages that seek to affirm a particular talk I gave on a particular night in Springfield, MO (as grateful as I am for such affirmations), but rather, I view them as a reflection of the thousands — indeed, the millions — of people who, on a daily basis, are journeying together because we believe that our world can be a better place, a fairer place, a more beautiful place — for all people and not just for some — and we won’t stop calling for a more beautiful world to be born. I’m also grateful for all of the people who have come before us — many whose names history won’t recall — who have allowed us to be where we are now, on whose shoulders we stand. These folks may not be famous — more times than not they are friends or family members who have bravely told their story, often in the face of major consequences. They are the ones who have brought us to this place, and we carry their stories with us as we try to build a a more just world.
Can I get an "AMEN!"????

Saturday, October 20, 2012



Years ago
when we were going through a tough time
a dear friend helped me understand
that feelings are sometimes like weather
that you can’t control
you can’t avoid
and you most certainly can’t wish away.

my friend helped me understand
when feelings are like weather
you just have to let the front blow through
batten down any hatches that need battening
put on your galoshes if you have to
and wait for the weather to change.

it is the nature of weather to change
and so it will
and it does
and I learned that then
and I’m working to re-learn that now
and to trust that still
while being grateful for good friends
willing to wait out the weather with you
when you need them to.

Friday, October 19, 2012

New Word of the Week: ROMNESIA

Friday's my day off so it's usually a morning I get caught up on laundry and housework -- and this morning all that was going on with the news in the background: news that included a stump speech by President Obama in Fairfax, Virginia where he coined a new term: ROMNESIA.

From the transcript:
“Now that we’re 18 days out from the election, ‘Mr. Severely Conservative’ wants you to think he was severely kidding about everything he said over the last year. He’s forgetting what his own positions are, and he’s betting that you will too. I mean, he’s changing up so much and backtracking and sidestepping. We’ve got to -- we’ve got to -- we’ve got to name this condition that he’s going through. I think -- I think it’s called ‘Romnesia.’” "I’m not a medical doctor, but I -- but I do want to go over some of the symptoms with you because I want to make sure nobody else catches it."
And then he went on to say
"If you come down with a case of ‘Romnesia’ and you can’t seem to remember the policies that are still on your website, or the promises that you’ve made over the six years you’ve been running for president, here’s the good news: Obamacare covers pre-existing conditions."
And there you have it: ROMNESIA. Sad for Mitt Romney. Bad for America!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

BREAKING NEWS: South Carolina Shoe Finally Drops

Readers of this blog will recall last month when I wrote about what Mitt Romney and Mark Lawrence had in common here. (No, it wasn't a binder full of women -- it was a "secret plan" that we should trust him on.)

Well, time ran out on that one for Mark Lawrence today as Episcopal Cafe is reporting: "Disciplinary Board for Bishops certifies that South Carolina Bishop has abandoned the church"
The Disciplinary Board for Bishops has advised Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori that the majority of the 18-member panel has determined that Bishop Mark Lawrence of the Diocese of South Carolina has abandoned the Episcopal Church “by an open renunciation of the Discipline of the Church.”

Following complaints of 12 adult members and two priests of the Episcopal Church in the Diocese of South Carolina, the determination was made under Canon IV.16(A).

The 18 member board – composed of 10 bishops, four clergy, four laity – issued a letter dated September 18. Following the assembly of numerous documents, the Presiding Bishop received the letter in her Church Center office on October 10; the letter was received via U.S. Mail.

On Monday October 15, the Presiding Bishop called Lawrence and, speaking directly with him, informed him of the action of the Disciplinary Board. She also informed him that, effective noon of that day, the exercise of his ministry was restricted. Therefore, under the canon, he is not permitted to perform any acts as an ordained person.
This is SUCH "breaking news" that there was an update to the ecafe story between the time I started typing this and went back to snag the link ... so stay tuned for updates.

Do keep the good people of South Carolina in your prayers as this sad saga continues. Our friends in San Joaquin and Fort Worth can testify to the fact there is life after schism and rebirth and renewal are both possible. Remember that individuals can leave the Episcopal Church -- dioceses and parishes cannot.
O God of unchangeable power and eternal light: Look favorably on your whole Church, that wonderful and sacred mystery; by the effectual working of your providence, carry out in tranquillity the plan of salvation; let the whole world see and know that things which were cast down are being raised up, and things which had grown old are being made new, and that all things are being brought to their perfection by him through whom all things were made, your Son Jesus Christ our Lord; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Presidential Debate "Morning After" 2.0

More accurately it's the "lunch break after the debate" but here goes:

What a difference two weeks and a drop in the polls makes! Whatever didn't happen before the first presidential debate to empower, enable or equip our 44th President to bring his "A Game" sure changed for this one. As the New York Times editorial put it:
On Tuesday night, in the second debate [President Obama] regained full command of his vision and his legacy, leaving Mitt Romney sputtering with half-answers, deceptions and one memorable error.
I thought Candy Crowley did a FABULOUS job under some pretty extraordinarily difficult circumstances -- and everytime I thought Romney couldn't get more rude or condescending he "went there."

That said, I had my favorite moments -- and you probably did, too. Some of mine were captured in my twitter feed ... I was WAY too nervous about the whole darned thing to just sit there and listen ... so here's a look at some what struck me. (These were toward the end of the debate ... and you can follow me on twitter at @revsusanrussell:)

The one that totally got the "twitterverse" going -- and a gift that kept on giving all day today -- was the "binders full of women" comment Mitt Romney made in response to the question by a young woman about equal pay for equal work. If you missed it, there's a great YouTube clip of the moment circulating -- check it out here.

That moment inspired a great outbreak of creativity in the cyber-sphere ... here are just a few:

Overkill? I don't think so. Not only did Romney utterly avoid the young woman's question about equal pay but his advisers spent most of today talking all over each other and trying to figure out just where he DOES stand on equal pay for equal work by women which ... if I may just say ... WHY ARE WE EVEN HAVING THIS CONVERSATION IN 2012?????


As Obama Deputy Campaign Manager Stephanie Cutter put it:
It’s troubling that Mitt Romney’s campaign still can’t get their answer straight on where Mitt Romney stands on the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which gives women greater ability to enforce in court their right to fair pay. From the six seconds of silence six months ago when they were first asked this question, to a top aide’s walk back of a statement last night that Mitt Romney wouldn’t have supported the law when it was passed, the Romney campaign is making what should be an easy answer extremely complicated. But, for millions of women, there is nothing complicated about it.

As the President said last night, this is not just a women’s issue, it’s a family issue and an economic issue. Three weeks out from an election, the American people need a clear and final answer on whether Mitt Romney would have signed the Lilly Ledbetter Act into law – and whether or not he would sign the Paycheck Fairness Act that President Obama has been fighting for.
And because my lunch hour is about up and I need to get back to work, I'm not going to even get INTO Romney inferring that the single mothers are responsible for assault weapons in our streets, that "self-deportation" is a just immigration policy and that a reduction in "capital gains" will help the middle class. As one twitter friend wrote:

Next stop: Foreign Policy Debate in Florida -- moderated by Bob Schieffer. Tick Tock Electon Day!

Monday, October 15, 2012

"Dear Mr. President ..." (AKA My Unsolicited Advice on the Eve of the Second Presidential Debate)

This one just wrote itself this morning when I turned off the news in disgust.


Dear Mr. President,

We all know that the stakes are high for the upcoming debate, so I'm writing today with some advice that I hope will be helpful.

First of all, it is critical that you aggressively debunk the egregiously misleading and untruthful messaging the Romney campaign keeps putting out there. For example, remind us that you are running on a strong record that includes ending the war in Iraq, saving the auto industry, increasing private-sector jobs and (against all odds!) accomplishing health-care reform that gives not only hope but insurance to Americans with pre-existing conditions -- not to mention our kids, who can stay on our policies until they're 26.

But don't be too aggressive. If you come out swinging too hard, the pundits will call you rude and disrespectful and make a big deal about how you're trying too hard. So you need to nail him without hammering him.

Read the rest here ...

Friday, October 12, 2012

Judgment Day

Good News just in via email from the Diocese of Los Angeles:

Judgments grant Long Beach, North Hollywood properties to Diocese

[The Episcopal News, Los Angeles] -- Final Judgments in favor of the Diocese of Los Angeles and the Episcopal Church in cases regarding Long Beach and North Hollywood property disputes have been entered by the Orange County Superior Court.

"The Judgments conclude the trial court portion of the cases and declare that the Diocese holds the properties in trust for the current and future mission of the Episcopal Church," said diocesan attorney John R. Shiner. "It is ordered, adjudged and decreed that final judgment is entered in favor of Plaintiffs [including] the Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Los Angeles... and Plaintiff-In-Intervention The Episcopal Church and against defendants," each Judgment reads.

"We will move forward with an orderly transition," said the Rt. Rev. J. Jon Bruno, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles, who was present in the courtroom Aug. 24 for the recent proceedings. "Being people of compassion and understanding, we have been in touch with the attorneys for both congregations, and we will make every effort to respect the dignity of all involved."

The Court will take up another case, involving the congregation of St. James', Newport Beach, on Oct. 24.

The litigation began eight years ago when a majority of members of All Saints' Church in Long Beach, St. David's Church in North Hollywood, and St. James' Church in Newport Beach voted to disaffiliate from the Episcopal Church and the Diocese of Los Angeles. A Court returned a fourth property -- St. Luke's of the Mountains Church in La Crescenta -- to the Diocese in 2009.

#vpdebate Morning After

The New York Times editorial summed it up for me:
Vice President Joseph Biden Jr. would not sit still for a parade of misleading and often blatantly untruthful descriptions of the state of the economy and the Republican prescriptions for it. Though his grins and head-shakes were often distracting, he did not hesitate to interrupt and demand an end to “malarkey.” The result, expertly controlled by the moderator, Martha Raddatz of ABC News, was both entertaining and enlightening.
On Friday morning, MSNBC's Richard Lui asked for "your most memorable moment" via twitter and I sent:
Best #debate moment: Hands down Biden defending a woman's right to choose #msnbc2012 (Although, "So now you're Jack Kennedy?" was a close second.)
And my favorite tweet from last night came from Hilary Rosen:
Joe Biden won not because he was aggressive which he was - but because he didn't let Ryan get away with making stuff up.
In the post-mortem this morning the best the GOP seemed to be able to muster was that Biden was "disrespectful" -- when the real disrespect was Ryan's continued refusal to give specifics about how their tax plan adds up (because it doesn't) and his continued repetition of debunked untruths.

One of his favorites is the myth that the Obama administration "stole" from Medicare to fund Obamacare -- AKA "The $716 Billion Question" -- which clarifies here:
“Republicans claim the president’s $716 billion “cuts” to Medicare hurt the program’s finances. But the opposite is true. These cuts in the future growth of spending prolong the life of the Medicare trust fund, stretching the program’s finances out longer than they would last otherwise…It’s true that experts, including Medicare’s chief actuary, doubt that some of those spending cuts will actually be implemented. But if they are, Medicare would spend less each year than it had been expected to otherwise, allowing Medicare to stretch further the income it receives from payroll taxes and premiums.”
That's just one example -- and it's an important one. But more importantly it goes to the pattern of the Republicans in this race to keep restating their opinions as fact and hope that the American people "buy it" without giving us specifics.

The stakes are too high, the challenges are too great and the work of rebuilding this country on the other side of the Bush Administration Debacle is too important to leave it to "trust us -- the details are behind the curtain in Box #2. This isn't "Let's Make A Deal" -- this is "Let's Elect A President."

Finally, whoever you think won or lost the debate (and I think it totally went to Biden) the really winners were the American people who actually got some clarity about the relative positions of the campaigns on everything from a woman's right to choose to on privatizing social security to getting us out of Afghanistan.

The one thing Paul Ryan got absolutely right was the moment when -- toward the end of the debate -- he noted that this was about "what kind of country we're going to be." And if we want to be a country where women lose the right to choose, where Social Security is privatized and Medicare becomes a voucher program, where the rich get richer and the middle class pay more taxes, where same-sex couples continue to have their marriages marginalized by the federal government as the war in Afghanistan continues to take American lives then go ahead -- vote Romney/Ryan.

But after last night's debate don't say he didn't warn you.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Flooded by Grace

So here was what the water looked like running down the street as I headed home this afternoon in response to "flash flood warnings" on my phone.

And here's what the water looked like standing about two inches deep in the study behind the garage. I didn't even know where to START ...

So I posted an SOS on Facebook ...

HELP! We're flash flooding in Altadena and I have a flooded study and if there's anybody in the Altadena area who could come help me I'm in desperate need of it. I don't even know where to start!

And within 20 minutes I had a team of Good Samaritans from All Saints Church and a staff member from Five Acres up the street helping move furniture, box up pictures and papers and shop-vac up the water off Louise's great-grandmother's Oriental rug.

Meanwhile, other Facebook friends were Googling "rug doctors" for me ... and found one who said they could be there in 30 minutes.

So the sodden rug got rolled up while the boxes got moved into the garage ...

And two hours later Louise's great-grandmother's  rug was on its way to the rug doctor, the electricity was turned back on and the fans were humming away drying out the room ... and I was feeling SO incredibly blessed to be surrounded by such an amazing village -- to be part of an authentic community.

Elizabeth Drescher taught me the term "multiplatform convergence" -- the ways our many communication platforms connect and converge to create community ... and today I got to experience that in a very tangible and powerful way as the "platforms" converged to provide prayers, support and elbow grease to come up around me in a moment of challenge and anxiety.

I went from being immobilized and feeling more alone than I have in any of the many moments of feeling alone since Louise's death to being inspired and feeling incredibly grateful for the grace of colleagues and community; for multiplatforms of communication and connection and for the abundant blessing of "those whose lives are closely linked to ours;" for being flooded by grace.

COMING OUT DAY: The 10/11/12 Version!

It's Coming Out Day 2012 and not too late in the day to put my 2 cents in the coming out story department. It's a story I've told before on this blog because -- duh! -- my story is my story is my story. But here it is again ... on 10/11/12!

“Coming Out in the Cathedral”
On July 4, 1996 at noon eastern time I was in the choir at the National Cathedral. While crowds of tourists milled about the nave of the cathedral and others gathered outside or headed toward the Mall for the fireworks festivities scheduled later it the day or lined up to see the opening-that-day film “Independence Day” (remember that one?) a remnant of us gathered in the cathedral choir for a festival celebration of the Feast of American Independence, BCP style.

The music was glorious, the lessons inspiring and the privilege of receiving Holy Communion at the altar in this amazing “house of prayer for all people” as we celebrated the birth of a nation dedicated to “liberty and justice for all” was an amazing gift I will always remember.

Oh … and I came out.

In the cathedral. On the Fourth of July. In the middle of festival Eucharist I had the great “aha” moment – the epiphany – the “I-shoulda-had-a-V8” realization that the God who had “fearfully and wonderfully” made me had made me gay. And called me to priesthood. And told me “now, go back and be the priest I called you to be.”

That’s my coming out story. I’ve told it many times before but on this “Coming Out Day” it seemed worth telling again. It seemed worth reminding myself – and anybody else who wants to listen in – that I did not come out from the fringes of anything but from what former Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold famously called "the diverse center." I came out in the context of a spiritual journey that began with my baptism at St. Paul’s Cathedral in Los Angeles in 1954 (go ahead and do the math!) and continued through Junior Choir, confirmation class, Altar Guilds and Vacation Bible Schools, ECW Boards, teas and luncheons, Diocesan Conventions, vestries and parish day school boards and finally seminary, ordination and parish ministry.

My coming out had nothing to do with a political act. It had nothing to do with a genital act. It had to do with recognizing that I could not be fully present at altar if I was not fully present in myself – and it had to do with being raised in a church where +John Hines taught me that “justice is the corporate face of God’s love,” +Ed Browning told me that in the Episcopal Church there would be no outcasts and the consecration of +Barbara Harris incarnated for me the hope that this church was actually willing to live into its high calling to live out a radically inclusive gospel.

So Happy “Coming Out Day” to me – and to the scores of LGBT Episcopalians like me. Are we a challenge to the wider church? I hope so. And I hope we continue to be. I hope that our voices of faith and witness will continue to preach, to protest and to prophesy – that we will stand in the temple and tell the Good News of God in Christ Jesus made present in our lives, our vocations and our relationships. That we will preach that Good News in and out of season.

So here's to Coming Out Day and to Independence Day -- to celebrating with BBQ, beer and fireworks our core American values of liberty and justice for all and everyone committed to our core Episcopal values of respecting the dignity of every human being. Not because we’re politically correct but because we’re gospel obedient. And here's to the diverse center -- long may it wave and long may it MAKE waves as it continues to live into the promise it inherits from Hines and Browning and Harris; from Washington and Jefferson and Madison.

Lord God Almighty, in whose Name the founders of this country won liberty for themselves for us, and lit the torch of freedom for nations then unborn; Grant that we and all the people of this land may have grace to maintain our liberties in righteousness and peace. Amen

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Calling Foul

If the presidential campaign was like basketball

and if flip-flopping was a foul

then by now Mitt Romney
.. would have fouled out of the game

"There is no legislation with regards to abortion that I'm familiar with that would become part of my agenda." -- Mitt Romney in Des Moines Register, October 9, 2012

"If I have the opportunity to serve as our nation’s next president, I commit to doing everything in my power to cultivate, promote, and support a culture of life in America." -- Mitt Romney's Pro-Life Pledge, June 18, 2011
PS -- Meanwhile, VP candidate Paul Ryan sponsored a bill during the last Congress that would deem a fetus a person and effectively criminalize abortion without exceptions, including for rape victims.

Marianne Williamson @ All Saints Church | Sunday, October 14

Marianne Williamson has a bold vision. Her goal is nothing less than the creation of a new conversation in American politics -- and she wants this conversation to lead to a new foundation for political involvement, based on principles of higher consciousness.

Inspired by this quote by Martin Luther King, Jr. ...
Our goal is to create a beloved community and this will require a qualitative change in our souls as well as a quantitative change in our lives.”
... Williamson is convinced that people on a spiritual path are the very people who should be engaging the great social and political questions of today.

"There is nothing spiritual about complacency,” she says calling for an engaged spirituality rooted in the truth that "what we don't engage, we can't transform." Putting her energy where her concerns are, Williamson is mounting a major conference in Los Angeles this November to provide spiritual and political tools with which to re-envision our political possibilities.

Come be enlightened, informed, inspired and challenged by Marianne Williamson's bold vision as she makes her first visit to the All Saints Rector's Forum on Sunday, October 14 at 10:15am with a presentation entitled "Politics From the Inside Out: New Consciousness. New Politics."

For more information visit the All Saints website or call 626.796.1172

The author of 10 books, four of which were #1 best sellers on the New York Times list, Williamson founded the meals-on-wheels program Project Angel Food, began a grass-roots campaign to establish a United States Department of Peace, and has been a popular guest on Oprah, Larry King Live, Good Morning America and Charlie Rose.

Monday, October 08, 2012

"Putting the Details into 'DUH!'"

This morning I talked to my younger son for about 30 minutes. He wanted to know how I was doing; I wanted to know how his work was going; he asked how the dogs were; I asked if he'd gotten that new puppy yet. And then somewhere along the line the election came up. And he said -- my Brian said: "Don't the Romney people get that he's a Bush clone who will tank the economy all over again? Duh!"

"Duh!" indeed! And here's a great video clip that puts the details in the "Duh!"

Sunday, October 07, 2012

The End of an Era: R.I.P. Sheriff John

Sad news to share from Los Angeles today:
"Sheriff" John Rovick, the beloved Los Angeles children's TV show host whose gentle, fatherly persona made him a welcome guest in homes throughout the 1950s and '60s, died Saturday morning. He was 93.

Rovick died in his sleep at a nursing facility in Boise, Idaho, said his wife, Jacqueline. A Toledo, Ohio, native who launched his broadcasting career in radio, Rovick was a newly hired staff announcer at KTTV-TV (Channel 11) when the Los Angeles station first went on the air in 1949.
You can read the rest of the L.A. Times obituary here ... and if you weren't lucky enough to grow up with Sheriff John's Lunch Briagade to look forward to and don't know the "Sheriff John Birthday Song" then here's just little glimpse into what you missed:

Saturday, October 06, 2012

My decidely unscientific poll on the Romney vs Big Bird controversy

If you were on another planet somewhere and missed it, here's what Romney told debate moderator, Jim Lehrer at Wednesday night's presidential debate in Denver:
“I’m sorry, Jim. I’m going to stop the subsidy to PBS. I’m going to stop other things. I like PBS. I love Big Bird. I actually like you, too. But I’m not going to — I’m not going to keep on spending money on things to borrow money from China to pay for it.”
So here's my poll question: In your opinion, which of the following most disqualifies Mitt Romney from being President of the United States:
  • His utter disregard and contempt for the role PBS plays in providing free, quality, educational programming to underserved Americans. [Read this NYT op-ed if you need background]
  • His unbelievable ignorance in inferring that cutting PBS funding would have any impact WHATSOEVER on balancing the budget [which is likeunto advocating cutting your toenails in order to lose weight]
  • Both of the above.
Let me know what you think -- and then go join "Team Big Bird" here.

Friday, October 05, 2012

"God Believes in Love" Night at All Saints Church

Just a few photos from "God Believes in Love" night at All Saints Church -- a book event helping launch +Gene Robinson's great new book subtitled "Straight Talk About Gay Marriage" and blurbed by a couple of folks you may have heard of:
“My friend, Bishop Gene Robinson, has long been a voice for equality—not with anger or vitriol, but with compassion and faith. He has been guided by the simple precept that we should do unto others as we would have them do unto us.” —President Barack Obama
“For someone in the eye of the storm buffeting our beloved Anglican Communion, Gene Robinson is so serene; he is not a wild-eyed belligerent campaigner. I was so surprised at his generosity towards those who have denigrated him and worse. Gene Robinson is a wonderful human being, and I am proud to belong to the same church as he." —Archbishop Desmond Tutu
More about the book here.

Thursday, October 04, 2012

"Ode to An Empty Chair"

This is the blog I had rattling around in my head for about the last two weeks. It's the piece I sat down to write at least three or four times before it finally "came." It's a commentary I sent off to the Huffington Post on Monday and they posted up live today. And it is not only a very personal reflection on why this election is so important to me and to my family -- it is also something I am delighted ended up being timed to demonstrate that what matters about President Obama is not what he didn't do in one debate but what he DID do over the last four years. For people like me. And my wife. And my children. And the rest of the "47%" who choose hope over fear.

Ode to an Empty Chair

We are finally on the final countdown to Election Day, after what has arguably been the longest presidential campaign in the history of politics. And as the dust settles from all the primaries, polls, and party conventions, for me, one of the iconic moments of Campaign 2012 remains the image of Clint Eastwood talking to an empty chair during the Republican National Convention, a convention that kept repeating the question, "Are you better off now than you were four years ago?"

The clip has been replayed over and over and over again in the weeks since the Republicans gathered in Tampa. But what I'm thinking about today is the moment I saw it "live" on a television with muted sound in the lobby of Keck Hospital at USC, where I sat for 12 hours while my partner Louise was in surgery. I remember saying to her brother Fred, "Is Clint Eastwood seriously up there talking to an empty chair?" as we tried to figure out what the deal was.

Of course, like the rest of America, I later found out that that was exactly what he was doing, attempting (evidently) to make the point that an empty chair represented the empty achievements of the Obama administration over the last four years. And so, in this final campaign countdown, I want to see Clint Eastwood's empty chair and raise him my experience. Am I better off than I was four years ago? Let me count the ways.

Read the rest here.

Save Big Bird!

Thursday morning quarterbacking the Wednesday night debate

My guy did not come out swinging and the other guy did. I was frustrated by what I saw as one opportunity after the other for President Obama to set the record straight as Mitt Romney threw out one stale-dated sound bite after another in an orchestrated effort to Etch A Sketch away the policy positions that put him behind in the polls.

I'm starting to wonder if the issue wasn't that the President was prepared to debate the Romney we've been listening to for 18 months ... not the one who showed up last night. Seriously ... how do you prepare to rebut arguments that have nothing to do with the policies they've been campaigning on? It's like a sick combination of bait-and-switch and whack-a-mole!

I thought maybe it was just me, until I read this. From the New York Times editorial -- "An Unhelpful Debate" in today's paper:
Virtually every time Mr. Romney spoke, he misrepresented the platform on which he and Paul Ryan are actually running. The most prominent example, taking up the first half-hour of the debate, was on taxes. Mr. Romney claimed, against considerable evidence, that he had no intention of cutting taxes on the rich or enacting a tax cut that would increase the deficit. That simply isn’t true.
And here's a Facebook exchange from this morning that pretty much sums up my position:
Question: I was not able to watch the debates last night. Pundits claim it a slam dunk for Romney. Issues of "truthiness" aside, who do you think "won"? I am really curious to know what we common folk think.

Answer: I guess I can't put "truthiness" aside so I'm not sure I can "play" this one. Romney's debate performance was to genuine political discourse what reality television is to genuine reality. Do you "win" a debate by repeating debunked, fact-checked talking points over the moderator you bully into silence? Seriously. Did Romney dominate? Absolutely. Does than make him a "winner" any more than Charlie Sheen dominating the news cycle awhile back made him a "winner?" I don't think so. Whoever won the debate the ones who lost were those hoping for mature, effective discussion of the issues that challenge the American people in this election year.
There's lots more I could say but I have a stewardship campaign to get materials to the printer for, a new member class presentation to prepare and a pile of other work I need to get as soon as my "lunch break" is over. All that said, here are a few of my favorite "pictures worth 1000 words" making the rounds.

Overcoming the evil of dehumanization

Ed Bacon's latest blog -- 8 Habits of Love -- was just posted to the Huffington Post ... and I think it's one of the best summaries of what post-imperial Christianity has to offer a world hungry for healthy spirituality I've ever read.

Here's a quote to get you started:
"My tribe is that of the world, and everyone, everywhere is already included ... I believe that the greatest evil we face today is dehumanization. It's the root of war. It's the root of retaliation. It's the root of the spiraling cycle of violence that we see around us. It's the root of bigotry. It's the root of economic injustice. Often, our instinct is to withdraw into our fearful selves and give into dehumanization. We gain a false sense of power and righteousness by excluding others." -- Ed Bacon
Read the rest here ... and then share the good news of God's inclusive love made available to absolutely everybody.

Ready. Set. GO!

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

As the debates begin ...

As we enter final countdown for the first presidential debate in what has arguably been the longest campaign in the history of politics, here's a little bit of campaign wisdom from Facebook Friend Alan Bernstein:
"Dear Political Journalists -- margin of error is not a statistical tie. You don't simply subtract the margin of error from the candidate who leads in your poll to get the "actual" result. There is an equal possibility that you should add the margin of error to the leading candidate's polling. And this is not a partisan point -- it applies equally if a Republican or a Democrat is in the lead. So please stop calling things a "dead heat" or a "tie" when that's not what the polling indicates."