Thursday, March 27, 2014

Franklin Graham: Making Jesus Look Bad One Interview At A Time

Seriously. If you were going to write a parody of a right-wing Christian anti-gay rant you couldn't do better than Franklin Graham did yesterday in his inteview with the Charlotte Observer -- throwing in just about every fear mongering homophobic sound bite he could think of ... including, of course, the disclaimer that "he's not homophobic."


And -- for the record -- he's tired of being "demonized" by the "gay lesbian movement."

Guess what? I'm tired of folks like Graham making Jesus look bad and convincing yet another boatload of people that they know enough about being a Christian not to want to be one. Seriously.

So of course I blogged about it -- over at the Huffington Post. Check it out. Cheers!

Lobby Day with Congresswoman Judy Chu

Honored to be part of the Planned Parenthood Lobby Day here in Washingon ... and to meet with Congresswoman Judy Chu to thank her for her sponsorship of the Women's Health Protection Act.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Juno the Wonder Dog ... AKA One of the Best Dogs Ever

Just a few of the "many faces of Juno" -- one of the best dogs ever. She left us at 1:15 this morning -- her immune system was just too compromised by IMHA (Immune-Mediated Hemolytic Anemia) -- a condition where her immune system attacked her red blood cells. Her body just gave out and she slipped away. Our devastation at losing her is tempered by our gratutide for having had her in our lives.

Juno lost her sight from genetic glaucoma at just 18 months ... and she never let being blind slow her down for a nano-second. She was a joyful, willfull, force of nature from the minute she arrived with us on August 19, 2008 (I remember the date because it was my mom's birthday!) until she "took ill" last Thursday night. Bottom line: Love is worth the pain we make ourselves vulnerable to when we love.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Singing the Lord's Song in a Strange Land

The bishops in the Episcopal Church are gathered for their annual spring meeting at Camp Allen in the Diocese of Texas. The Office of Public Affairs sent out an update of their work together today -- including this summary of the reflection presented by one of my own bishops -- Mary Douglas Glasspool.


The theme for the spring meeting of the Episcopal Church House of Bishops is "How Shall We Sing The Lord’s Song in a Strange Land?"

The day began with Morning Prayer, with a reflection presented by Bishop Mary Glasspool of Los Angeles followed by silent reflection and meditation. She shared her experience of moving from the East Coast to the “foreign land” of Southern California.

Using the familiar Emmaus road story, she built up to talking about Christ’s presence in the Holy Eucharist saying, “And what we are to recognize here, in the Eucharist – in the breaking of the bread and the sharing of the wine at table – is Christ’s Presence as the stranger becomes Companion. And what we are to see, as well, is that the action doesn’t stop at the table. That, for us, is Emmaus. We are called to go back to Jerusalem – to go out into the world – in joyful witness to Christ’s love. To feed the hungry; heal the sick; clothe the naked; free the oppressed; shelter the homeless; confront evil, sin and injustice and manifest, to the glory of God the power of the love that has overcome death.”

She concluded her spirited charge to bishops: “I suggest that, if you find that the strange land is where you live, you might consider rediscovering yourself so that you can be all of who you are. Offer hospitality and create space for the other…. And, above all, remember it’s the LORD’s song – so don’t forget to sing it.”

This gave the bishops plenty to pray about for the rest of the morning.


And let the people say: AMEN!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

The Graham Cracker Wars Heat Up

You may remember a few days ago I posted a piece about my friends Jason and Tim and their adorable family and how they were part of the new Honey Maid Graham Cracker ad campaign entitled "This Is Wholesome." If you missed it, here's the link.

Anyway, in the piece I noted that it was going to make the wing nuts more nuts than the Cheerios commercial did a few months ago ... and I was right. The Huffington Post is reporting today that a group called "One Million Moms" is slamming Nabisco, Honey Maid, et al for the ad which they say "normalizes sin."

Seriously. Can't make this up.

And then they go on to urge moms to step up and make their opinions known on this idea that there are wholesome families with two dads.

Well, I'm a mom. And I have an opinion. So I went to their website ... which promises to send your email directly to Nabisco. They even have a helpful email already written for you. It reads like this:
As a parent and a member of, I am highly offended by your company's disrespect of millions of American families by supporting the homosexual agenda instead of remaining neutral in the cultural war. It is a poor business decision to offend so many of your core customers in your most recent "This is wholesome" commercial. 
If conservative families cannot find corporate neutrality with Honey Maid, Nabisco and Mondelez International, they will vote with their pocketbook and support companies that are neutral. Selling quality products has nothing to do with a person's sexual orientation. In attempting to be politically correct, you are offending a huge majority of your customers.  
There are plenty of cookies and crackers on the market that do not support liberal causes and which moms can buy for their families. We have a choice! As a result of this advertising campaign, Honey Maid, Nabisco and Mondelez International will not have my family's business unless this commercial is pulled off the air immediately. 
I will not be able to support your corporation until you decide to remain neutral in the culture war. I implore you to consider how your commercial deceives viewers by normalizing sin and then calling it wholesome. 
I look forward to hearing from you regarding my concerns.

Since that didn't exactly work for me, I took them up on their offer to "edit your own" and here's what
I sent:
As a mother, a priest and a pastor, I am utterly delighted by your company's focus on millions of American families in your most recent "This is wholesome" commercial. Seeing this kind of broad diversity in mainstream commercial advertising is a breath of fresh air and while I am sure you will get negative feedback from "the usual sources" I want to add my voice to those applauding your choice to spotlight the love that makes up a family in these wonderfully diverse and wholesome families. 
I am grateful that LGBT families and interracial families have the visible support of Honey Maid, Nabisco and Mondelez International and I assure you we will vote with our wallets in support. Selling quality products has nothing to do with a person's sexual orientation. In choosing to represent diversity, you are gaining a huge new market share of customers. 
We have a choice! As a result of this advertising campaign, Honey Maid, Nabisco and Mondelez International will not only have my family's business -- I'm thinking about organizing a Graham Cracker Cook Off at my church to publicize your stand for equality. 
I hope you won't hesitate to contact me if I can provide any further information or be of help in anyway. God bless!
SO ... if you're inclined to "go and do likewise" (as I sincerely hope you are!) let me make it easy for you.

Here's the link to the Million Mom peeps.
Go. Do it now. Seriously. You'll be so glad you did you'll want to celebrate with s'mores. Let me recommend the Honey Maid Graham Crackers for that!

Spring Has Sprung ... 9:57am Pacific

on the death of Fred Phelps

Just seeing reports that Westboro Baptist Church founder Fred Phelps now sees through a glass less darkly.

Giving thanks for the wideness of God's mercy which is greater than we can ask for or imagine -- and praying today for renewed commitment to work to eradicate the disease of homophobia.

Kyrie eleison.

Friday, March 14, 2014

A God Worth Giving Up for Lent

Every once in awhile I read a piece and think, "Darn! I wish I'd written that!"

This is one of those pieces: Open Letter to a Too Small God by Michael Sandlin ... just up on the Huffingon Post Blog.

You'll want to read it all here ... but here's a preview:

Any understanding of God that cannot withstand questions and rational thought is a "too small" god ...That version of you is so myopically infinitesimal in comparison to what a god worthy of worship would be that it begs to be put down for the betterment of humanity.

That version of you hurts people. That version of you encourages one group of people to feel superior to others. It justifies self-righteous judgment and it's not uncommon to see it lead to violence. That god is a god of the privileged.

It is a god designed to reinforce exceptionalism and justify the unjustifiable behavior of the powerful. That god is a god tailor-designed to make lemmings of his adherents to the point of denying realty and dismissing science for the sake of further propping up a bastardization of the god I believe Jesus was trying to teach us about.

That, my friends worth giving up. Not just for Lent but permanently.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Guest Lecture

I got to give a guest lecture today at USC in Dr. Don Miller's "Religion in Los Angeles" class.

From the invitation:

"It is
a course on Religion in LA, but with a focus on moral issues within various religious traditions.  We did a two week section on Judaism in LA, followed by a two week section on Islam.  We start our section on Christianity with Jim Heft, who heads the Institute for Advanced Catholic Studies at USC will be talking about Catholic Social Teachings.  He is followed by Chip Murray who will focus on issues of race, economic justice, and his experience during the 1992 civil unrest. You are our representative of Progressive Protestantism."

It was an honor and it was fun and after the lecture -- when the kid in the front row came up to me and said "Wow! I'd heard of the Episcopal Church but I had no idea it was a place you could have liturgy and still think" -- it was a great reminder why I love what I do.



Monday, March 10, 2014

"This Is Wholesome"

Remember that adorable Cheerios commerical that made all the wingnuts go nuts? Well, hold onto your graham crackers ... Honey Maid just came out with an even MORE adorable one that's going to make them even MORE nuts and (but wait ... there's more!) ... it features a two-dad family from All Saints!

Check it out the ad ... AND the "backstory" video ..  and then go buy some graham crackers. Seriously!

#Lentenlens | Part One

#Lentenlens is one of the things I've taken on for Lent ... using the "word of the day" as part of a mindfulness practice that includes either finding or creating an image that speaks to you of that word. Here's Lent So Far:

Friday, March 07, 2014

Ten Years Ago TODAY ...

... V. Gene Robinson became the 9th Bishop of New Hampshire. 

I would never have remembered the date save for a Google search that did not find what I was looking for, but popped up a list of events that included this one. And --  because I'm on sabbatical and have time to chase cyber rabbits down digital holes -- I searched and found this piece I wrote for my EVN (Every Voice Network) blog ... 10 years ago today ... from Concord NH.

And ... may I just way ... WHAT a difference a decade makes!! 

Susan's Blog | March 7, 2004: Ordinary and extraordinary: those are the first words that come to mind thinking about the celebration of new ministry held for the Ninth Bishop of New Hampshire on March 7th.

The church was full, the children in the choir were wiggly, the people in the pews predictably increased the volume of their conversation when the organ prelude started and the procession had all the “ordinary suspects” for such an auspicious episcopal occasion: crucifers and torchbearers, choristers and clergy with a smattering of bishops in their red and white regalia.

The new bishop knocked on the door of St. Paul’s, Concord and said in a loud voice the words traditional for the celebration of a new ministry: “Open for me the gates of righteousness; I will enter them and give thanks to the Lord” – and the door swung open as the Warden responded, “The Lord prosper you; we wish you well in the Name of the Lord.”

It sounded, felt and looked like every other Investiture I’ve ever attended: comfortable in its liturgical ordinariness. Then the choir launched into the anthem -- Psalm 23. As they sang the words “Yea, though I walk thro’ the valley of the shadow of death” I looked at Gene … standing alone in front of Bishops Knudsen and Theuner … keenly aware that because of the death threats he has received since his election last June he has had to become accustomed to security guards wherever he goes ... that he has worn bulletproof vest at public events ... that he has literally “walked through the valley of the shadow of death” in these last tumultuous weeks and months.

Suddenly the ordinary became extraordinary. I was overwhelmed with a sense of both gratitude and amazement that the contagious joy which has been a hallmark of his priesthood continues to be present in this extraordinary man as he begins his tenure at Bishop of New Hampshire.

I was seized with hope that his example will enable all of us -- in smaller and simpler and less dramatic ways -- to face the valleys of shadow that we encounter ... that threaten to derail us, to deflate us, to distract us from our call to love our God and love our neighbors as ourselves.

I was reminded in the text of the Gradual Anthem -- taken from the Luke's Gospel account of Jesus' reading of the prophet Isaiah -- that when we walk through that valley ... when people from our own hometown (or parish or diocese or communion) would rather throw us off a cliff than hear that the Spirit of the Lord has anointed us to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor then we stand in very good company -- alongside not only the Bishop of New Hampshire but our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ -- Jesus of Nazareth -- Jesus the "prophet without honor in his own hometown."

And I was filled with expectation as I watched the Diocese of New Hampshire embrace their new bishop -- full of hope and joy and energy for the new beginnings ahead of them -- that we, too, can embrace our future as a people of God not fearful but hopeful -- not anxious but joyful -- not (in the words of the Collect for Ordinations prayed on Sunday in Concord) "cast down .. but raised up" -- trusting that all things are indeed being brought to their perfection by him through whom all things were made.

Thursday, March 06, 2014

Report from Sabbatical Land: Two Down, One to Go

March 6. Two months ago I embarked on a three month sabbatical leave from All Saints. A month from today I'll be "back in the saddle" teaching a Confirmation Class on Proclamation and Evangelism. Two down/One to go.

So how's the sabbatical thing going?


One of the challenges of being an Type-A personality working in the highly charged, energetic environment of a place like All Saints is having the discipline to "un-plug." Especially if discipline in general isn't one of your strong suits.

The gift of this sabbatical time -- this sabbath time -- has been the time to find a rhythm that works for me to relax, to reflect and to engage in what feels like a healthy balance.

I've cleaned out closets and sorted through "stuff" -- literally and metaphorically. I've had time to read the background pieces -- not just catch the soundbites -- on the news front. I've read fiction, re-read some old favorites (Madeline L'Engle; Joan Chittister; Mary Oliver) and gotten hooked on "House of Cards." I've found new apps to play with on my iPhone (the #waterlogue water color of my back yard illustrating this post a case in point.)

Speaking of my garden -- it looks great. My animals are thrilled with all the "mommy time" and I've even managed -- in fits and starts -- to make some progress on the "get out and walk more often" goal. (A week of travel and ten days of bronchial flu kind of knocked me off that horse, but I'm getting back on!)

I enjoyed time with justice colleagues at the Episcopal Urban Caucus Assembly in February and am looking forward to some time at the end of the month with the Planned Parenthood folks and the Marriage Task Force in DC and Baltimore.

And I've been working on the foundation for the narrative history piece I want to write about the "Episcopal Inclusion Wars." The luxury of the time to wallow around in old press clippings, essays, timelines and reflections continues to inspire me to give thanks for all those -- known and unknown to the annals of the archives -- who have labored so long, so hard and so faithfully to make God's inclusive love tangible in and through the Episcopal Church.

No, it isn't "written yet." No, I'm not even sure exactly what form it's going to take. I'm still just living with it to see where it takes me.

And that right there has been perhaps the greatest gift of sabbatical -- so far. The gift of letting go. Of deadlines. Of expectations for what I'd "do" or "accomplish" with this time away. It's an old axiom -- the one about being human beings rather than human "doings" -- and it will come as absolutely no surprise to anyone who knows me at ALL that I have always struggled to prioritize the being over the doing.

And here I sit. It's almost noon and I'm still in my sweats not really "dresssed" for the day. And I am intensely aware of the gift of mindfully being present in this moment. Giving thanks for the gernaiums blooming on the porch, the sun on the lawn, the breeze coming in through the window and playing the windchime hanging by the door, the brown lab sleeping by my feet and the kitty snoozing on the bed.

THAT'S how "this sabbatical thing" is going. Thanks for asking! :)

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

and it begins: Lent 2014

Some folks will give things up, some folks will take things on -- and some folks will skip the whole darned thing and go straight for the Easter candy already taking up an aisle at the supermarket.

This year I'm attracted to Nadia Bolz-Weber's 40 Ideas for Keeping a Holy Lent ... which begins:
Day 1: Pray for your enemies
Day 2: Walk, carpool, bike or bus it.
Day 3: Don’t turn on the car radio
Day 4: Give $20 to a non-profit of your choosing
Day 5: Take 5 minutes of silence at noon
Day 6: Look out the window until you find something of beauty you had not noticed before
Day 7: Give 5 items of clothing to Goodwill
... and so on. Concrete. Specific. Doable. Check it out.

I'm also attracted to this #LentenLens project ...

So here's #dust ...

... remembering that it is what we are and it is to what we shall return. Yet -- knowing that life is changed, not ended -- even at the grave we make our song ... (stay tuned for Easter for the rest!)

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

The apple of homophobia doesn't fall far from the tree of patriarchy

So part of my sabbatical project is a narrative history of the "inclusion wars" here in the Episcopal Church. And part of that research is reading what the folks on the "other side of the aisle" have to say. And one of the nuggets was this timeline of all the times, ways and places where the Episcopal Church has "walked away from orthodoxy/abandoned the faith received by the apostles/chosen apostate heresy, etc."

It's about what you would expect ... except this WAS a surprise to me.

The first entry?
The seminal moment when we began the "walk away?"
The metaphorical apple in the Garden that set us on the path of abandoning the Faith of the Fathers and on the road to ruin?
You ready?
"1930 Lambeth Conference passes Resolution 15, "The Life and Witness of the Christian Community - Marriage and Sex," making Anglicans the first major Christian body to approve artificial means of birth control."
Yep. Women's reproductive choice was the Rubicon. It was the thin end of the wedge -- the beginning of the end -- the Apple in the Garden.

Remember that just in case anybody ever needs convincing that sexism, patriarchy, misogyny and homohysteria are all connected. Cuz they are. And have been -- at least since 1930.

stewards of the story: words of wisdom on the cusp of lent

Love this reflection from Steven Charleston -- seen on FB this morning. As we head into Lent and look toward Easter and beyond, it sums up (for me) in a very few words both the power and privilege of being stewards of the story -- the Gospel story and our own stories -- as we claim our history and live into our future as people of God.

Last night I met with a group of Native American scholars with whom I am working on a project of both mind and heart. It was a quiet gathering, a simple sharing of ideas and visions, but the feeling it created within me has lasted well into this new day.

Tradition is wisdom collected.
Wisdom is experience gathered.
Experience is life encountered.
We are all scholars of our own story
and of other stories we learn through love.
When we share what we know,
what we value,
we spin a force of the Spirit
that reaches back to ancient campfires
and out to a tomorrow
we cannot yet imagine.

Saturday, March 01, 2014

#stormwatch 2014

It's true that even a hint of rain in the forecast can put local SoCal news stations on "storm watch" and open us up to the riducule of those around the country who live where there is "actual weather."

AND ...

... this is actual weather:

That small green blob west of Palmdale is over us right now ... with the heavy stuff coming this afternoon.

For me -- for us -- it just means fending off the water that runs off down the driveway and (on a bad day) through the garage into the backhouse. (Exhibit A: Emily pushing water away from the garage door and toward the storm drain last night.)

Messy. Inconvenient. Annoying. Frustrating.

AND ...

... neighbors up the hill are dealing with mud and rock flows from the recent wildfires threatening houses and foundations and filling up backyards and swimming pools.

So we totally need the rain. And I'm sitting here working on a attitude of gratitude for it. Even while I have one eye on the Doppler Radar and the raincoat and push-brooms by the back door at the ready -- and TONS of gratitude for all the first responders out there dealing with a lot more than just water down the driveway.