Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Waking Up in America Today



That morning you wake up
remembering the over 500 people
shot in cold blood by another maniac
with access to assault weapons
knowing that thousands ...
are still without power and water in Puerto Rico
and still stunned that the USA voted to oppose
a UN resolution condemning the death penalty
for LGBT people --
aware that tomorrow is the deadline
for Dreamers to hold onto the thread of hope
that keeps them in the only country they know
and that last night militarized police in Saint Louis
again brutalized peaceful protesters
as Congress again regroups
to take down Medicaid --
this time through the budget process.
And the Breaking News
while you're brushing your teeth?
Raging debate over whether or not
the Secretary of State
called the President a moron.


This is not making America great, my friends.
By any measure known to humanity it just isn't.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Finding Gratitude Where I Can


    This morning I'm finding gratitude in the evidence that we can still be outraged as a nation at the outrageously inexcusable excuse for a President who is currently inhabiting the White House.

    And yes: this IS me choosing my words carefully.

    At this point we could be so inured by the constant assault of racist, sexist, nativist, white supremacist, (etc. etc. etc.) diatribes, tweets and actions emerging from the Shop of Horrors masquerading as the White House that we become resigned to the damage this lunatic is inflicting on our body politic in general and on those most vulnerable and marginalized in specific.
    But here's the deal, Mr. President. We are not hapless frogs in a pot passively allowing the water temperature to slowly rise until we are too incapacitated to resist.

    We are an increasingly woke people organizing, strategizing, and onto your bull****. The more smoke you throw in front of it the more we know to pay attention to what's going on behind the curtain. And every time you come for one of us you come for all of us.

    We're on to you. We're done with you. And we are going to resist you and the toxin of white supremacist heteronormative patriarchy you represent until we reclaim the aspirational values of a nation conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all people are indeed created equal. We are not throwing away our shot. Indeed, we have only begun to fight.

    That's what I'm grateful for this morning.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Again We Remember


Today we will gather in the chapel at All Saints Church at 12:10 p.m. for our daily Noon Eucharist and remember those we lost and how we were changed sixteen years ago on the day that has come to be known as simply a number: 9/11. Revisiting how we marked that anniversary fifteen years ago today at All Saints Church ... 9/11/2002 ... as we continue to hope for a world where differences enrich rather than divide and we strive to be the change we want to see.

===============

The candles massed in front of the altar burn in tribute to the names being read from the lectern – Naomi Leah Solomon, Daniel W. Song, Michael C. Soresse, Fabian Soto – as other names scroll above the altar projected on a video screen – John Bentley Works, William Wren, Sandra Wright, Myrna Yashkulka.

The church is silent save for the reading of the names and the careful footsteps of those who come forward to light a candle -- the gentle thud of a kneeler lowered for prayer --the quiet rustle of pages turned in a prayer book.

“American Airline Flight 11”– Anna Allison, David Lawrence Angell, Lynn Edwards Angell, Seima Aoyamma. The names began at 5:46 – the west coast moment when the first plane struck – and will continue through the morning until we gather for Eucharist at noon. The table is already set. The red frontal – blood of martyrs – covers the altar. The chalice is vested, the missal marked. The credence table is ready, too: flagons of wine, silver chalices and ciborium lined up – ready to hold the holy food and drink of new and unending life we will share here at All Saints Church.

“All Saints.” Charles’ deep voice breaks the silence as he begins reading the next segment of the list of names: “World Trade Center, continued” – Paul Riza, John Frank Rizzo, Stephen Luis Roch, Leo Roberts. I remember the ancient words of comfort from the prophet Isaiah, “I have called you by name and you are mine.” As Charles tolls the names of the dead that assurance echoes again and again in my head. These names I do not know – some I cannot even pronounce – each and every one known to God. Beloved of God.

“United Airlines Flight 93”: Christine Adams, Lorraine Berg, Todd Beamer, Alan Beaven. Gone from our sight yet gathered into God’s embrace -- seated at the heavenly banquet we can but glimpse through the sacrament we are preparing to share -- the offering of praise and thanksgiving we will present at this altar.

I look again at the ciborium massed on the credence table – the candles flickering in the polished silver – the light of lives lost reflected in the vessels holding the bread of life. It staggers the mind to consider what they represent – the magnitude of the collective loss of love, joy, hope and possibilities taken on that day a year ago with such sudden unexpectedness.

Takashi Ogawa. Albert Ogletree. Gerald Michael Olcott. The pain of death and loss mingles mysteriously in the promise of life and hope. Body and Blood. Bread and Wine. Strength for the journey and hope for the future. Hope for a world where differences enrich rather than divide. Hope for the end of wars waged in the name of the God who created us not to destroy but to love each other.

Dipti Patel. James Matthew Patrick. Sharon Christina Millan Paz. “Whoever you are and wherever you find yourself on your journey of faith there is a place for you here.” Thanks be to God. Alleluia. Amen.

Saturday, September 02, 2017

What "Fake News" Looks Like

We hear a lot about "fake news" these days from someone tweeting from the White House.

Under the barrage of those tweets identifying anything the Tweeter-in-Chief disagrees with as "fake" (Oh, let's just pick national news stories verified by multiple sources including sworn testimony in congressional hearings as an example) it's easy to forget that there actually is news that is fake ... as in made up ... as in manufactured ... as in patently not true.

Yes, it's tempting to dismiss the impact that actual fake news has on those who read it uncritically and allow it to feed, water and fertilize the unexamined bias and bigotry that frames their worldview. However -- given the very real threat that fertilized polarization poses to the foundations of our democracy -- we ignore it at our peril.

Here's an example. I saw it fly by on Twitter and thought ... c'mon, really? This is so fake it must be FAKE fake news because ... seriously!

But no. I went my own self personally to the website (conservativepost.com) and pulled this screen cap:


It purports to be the "shocking image" of Black Lives Matter protesters blocking Hurricane Harvey relief ... in August ... in down jackets ... with snow on the ground. I know. I can't even.

If it's possible to get more fake than that I quite honestly don't want to know about it.

But let's be clear: these are the same folks tweeting their outrage that Obama failed to meet the needs of the victims of Hurricane Katrina -- which happened during the Bush administration. They are the ones who are convinced Climate Science is a myth -- but Genesis isn't. And these are the voters who elected as their president someone who seems incapable of differentiating between fact and opinion -- proving that it is in fact a dangerous thing to live in a world where facts are not a thing.

Thankfully, scripture has an antidote to this craziness: John 8:32 ... "the truth will set you free." But in order to implement that antidote we have to activate it. So speak the truth. Call out the lies. Smoke out the fake. If we can be the change we want to see we can also be the truth that will set us free.


Monday, July 31, 2017

Good News vs. Fake News: La Lucha Continua

There is an old axiom about "the preacher preaching to the preacher" -- and it was never more true than the 8th Sunday After Pentecost when I preached this sermon I needed to hear: How to persist in resisting evil without becoming the evil we deplore. Thanks to inspiration from Walter Wink, Susan Thistlethwaite, Fredrica Harris Thompsett, George Regas and  ... of course ... Jesus.

==========


Let there be peace among us, and let us not be instruments of our own or others’ oppression. Amen.

Some of you will remember this prayer -- the one I’ve come to think of as the Gospel According to Barbara. They are the words Bishop Barbara Harris – the first woman bishop in the Anglican Communion – has used to begin every sermon I ever heard her preach. They are also the words that have become my own mantra to stay focused as an active member of The Resistance.

And boy howdy have they been getting a work out over these last days, weeks and months.

In our Collect of the Day this morning we prayed that we might: "so pass through things temporal, that we lose not the things eternal."

It is the same prayer we pray absolutely every year at this point in the lectionary cycle - - and yet it is arguable that in this particular year the tsunami of the twenty-four hour news cycle has made holding onto those "things eternal" more of a challenge than many of us can ever remember.

And that is why gathering together is such a critically important part of our resistance. We come together as community to pray, reflect and recharge -- to remember who are and whose we are. We come together not to escape "things temporal" but in order to engage them in the service of the eternal values of love, justice and compassion.

And then we go out -- refueled and refreshed by the bread and wine made holy: Go out to love, serve, challenge -- and resist -- for another week.

It is who we are as All Saints Church. It is part of our DNA.

A few weeks ago I was making my way to the chapel for Noon Eucharist and one of the memorial plaques caught my eye. Now, next Tuesday -- August 1st -- will the sixteenth anniversary of my first day at work here at All Saints Church. So it is fair to say I have walked by that memorial plaque literally hundreds of times.

But for some reason -- that quiet weekday morning in an empty church -- it tapped on my shoulder and demanded my attention.

It reads:

In affectionate memory of Julia Adele Meeker.
A consecrated member of this parish
rich in good works for all peoples.
"She fought the good fight
and kept the faith."
1861 - 1930

Julia Adele Meeker was born the year Civil War tore our nation apart and died the year after the Wall Street Crash threw it into the Great Depression -- with the First World War thrown in between. I can't even imagine the troubles she saw -- the challenges she faced -- the evils she resisted. And yet what we know is at the end of her life what the community who loved her wanted us to know about her was that she was rich in good works for all peoples ... and that she fought the good fight.

One of my teachers and mentors is historian Fredrica Harris Thompsett -- and Fredrica taught us that the reason we learn our history is to get a running start on our future. And so as we gather this morning to be refueled and refreshed for the challenges ahead of us, it bears remembering our history.

It bears knowing that we stand on the shoulders of all those who have gone before us -- those known and unknown to us -- who ... like Julia Adele Meeker ... fought the good fight. And to recognize that the fight we fight -- the resistance in which we engage -- the struggle that continues -- is not just an historic one. It is a cosmic one.

It is the fight between nothing less than good and evil. It is the cosmic struggle between the Good News of love, justice and inclusion and the Fake News of fear, judgment and discrimination.

Now, the term may have been coined in the last election cycle but Fake News has always been around. It is as ancient as the mythological story of the serpent in the Garden telling the first humans they didn't need God ... they could do it themselves if they just ate from that forbidden tree.

It is woven into the narrative of our spiritual family album in story after story after story as we chose domination over collaboration; chose our own way over God's way; chose fear over faith. And was part of this morning's reading from the Hebrew Scriptures when Solomon ... given the gift of whatever he might ask of God ... asked for discernment between good and evil.

Cosmic Fake News manifests itself in what theologian Walter Wink described as "the domination system" -- which operates according to the myth of redemptive violence, entrapping us all in the amazingly self-destructive dynamic of violence responding with violence to violence and on and on.

When I discovered Walter Wink's work in seminary I discovered a powerful tool to understand both the depth of our culture’s commitment to the way of violence and the power of the Gospel as a viable alternative to that way of violence: Of the power of the Good News of Love to ultimately triumph over the ongoing struggle to defeat the Fake News of Domination. The struggle continues ... la lucha continua.

A critical part of that struggle is to refuse to become the evil we deplore; to bear witness to the truth that resistance and reconciliation are not mutually exclusive. We put into action the truth that we can be both resisters and reconcilers every time we offer this blessing:

"And the blessing of God Almighty be with you -- those you love, serve, challenge and resist -- this day and always."

We are lovers and servers and challengers and -- yes -- resisters. And yet even as we resist we ask God's blessing on those we resist.

Because the good fight we are fighting is on behalf of the Good News of the God who loved us enough to become one of us in the person of Jesus. And the Jesus we follow is the one who will not rest until there is not a single stranger left at the gate.

Go ahead. Close your eyes. Picture the person you would most NOT want to be in heaven with. Have you got someone? OK ... That is the very person Jesus won't rest until he or she is inside the gate ... is gathered into the loving embrace of the kingdom of love, justice and compassion. That is the Jesus we follow.

And the Jesus we follow had as many parables to proclaim that Good News as there were people who needed to hear it. We hear some of them in this morning's Gospel from Matthew ... a Gospel that reads a little bit like all the best outtakes left on the cutting room floor pulled together and stuck into the 13th Chapter of Matthew so they don't get lost in the annals of time:

The kingdom is like a mustard seed ...
The kingdom is like yeast in a loaf of bread ...
The kingdom is like a treasure ...
The kingdom is like a pearl of great price ...
The kingdom is like a net cast into the sea ...

Jesus had as many parables as there were people to hear them because there is no "one size fits all" story about the kingdom of God ... because the kingdom of God is as deep, and as wide and as abundant as the infinite love of God.

The Good News we have staked our lives on is that we can resist to our last breath ... blog post, tweet, email, protest march and petition ... the actions of those who participate in the oppressive domination systems that surround us ... while at the same time refusing to let the "fake news" that they are anything less than beloved children of God win out over the Good News that God loves us all beyond our wildest imaginings.

Another quote from Walter Wink: "Evil can be opposed without being mirrored. Oppressors can be resisted without being emulated. Enemies can be neutralized without being destroyed."

And we can fight the Good Fight without losing sight of the Good News in the process. We not only can ... we must.

Our baptismal promise to respect the dignity of every human being requires us to stand up and speak out when the dignity of any member of the human family is threatened. This week we stood in solidarity with members of the transgender community who once again found themselves being used as sacrificial lambs on the altar of partisan politics.

The unconscionable attack by the current administration on the fitness of transgender Americans to serve in the military was not only unwarranted -- it was antithetical to our core values as Americans and as Christians.

As our brilliant friend Susan Thistlethwaite wrote: “Transgender Americans do not “weaken” the military or the country. The profound truth of the American experiment, when we are living up to it, is that we are much, much stronger as a people when all are treated equally and have equal rights. Blaming and shaming transgender people is not only a betrayal of our national political aspirations to “all” being “created equal,” it is a betrayal of deeply held religious values.” [Manufacturing Resentment, 7/26/17 | HuffPost]

At All Saints Church we will continue to stand with and for all those on the margins. We stand with all those in danger of losing healthcare, with anyone being profiled because of their race or their religion, with neighbors under threat of deportation, with refugees seeking a safe haven and with Dreamers seeking an education. We will challenge those who applaud excessive force by law enforcement officers and those who threaten to undermine equal protection for LGBTQ Americans.

We refuse to choose between competing oppressions; instead we will stand together and resist any and all assaults on the dignity, the safety and the humanity of any and all of God’s beloved human family.

And we will not allow ourselves to be either distracted or discouraged as we continue in to live out All Saints’ DNA-deep commitment to turn the human race into the human family – a commitment that fuels our resistance, sustains us in the struggle and inspires our vision for a kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven that includes absolutely everyone.

Full stop. No exceptions. Period.

One of the handful of biblical citations I carry around in my back pocket at all times is John 8:32 ... "the truth will set you free."

And the truth is Jesus didn't come to make people comfortable -- Jesus came to tell the truth about the good news of God's inclusive love available to absolutely everybody and to debunk the fake news that some people are more loved, some people are more saved, some people are more worthy.

If Jesus' goal was to make people comfortable there would've been no cross and there would've been no resurrection and we wouldn't be here over 2000 years later still fighting the good fight.

Many years ago our Rector Emeritus George Regas challenged us to live out the prophetic Gospel by "setting audacious goals and celebrating incremental victories."

This morning we are still celebrating the incremental victory that came in the wee hours of Friday morning: the defeat of the latest effort to take healthcare away from millions of Americans. It was an incremental victory ... make no mistake about that: we know that battle is far from over.

And yet against a lot of odds the combined voices of women and men over days and weeks and months -- in the streets and on the phones and at town hall meetings and in the halls of Congress -- including my mother-in-law who called her Senator so often that when she called the intern answered "Good morning, Mrs. Hall. What can we do for you today?" Together we  fought the good fight ... like our sister Julia Adele Meeker ... and proved once again that together we can make a difference for "all peoples"

In a few moments we come together again around this table -- not to escape "things temporal" but to engage them in the service of the eternal values of love, justice and compassion. And then we will ask God to send us out -- refueled and refreshed once again by the bread and wine made holy -- to love, serve, challenge -- and resist -- for another week.

It is who we are as All Saints Church. It is part of our DNA.

Let there be peace among us, and let us not be instruments of our own or others’ oppression. Amen.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

In Solidarity with the Transgender Community

Comment issued by All Saints Church in Pasadena in response to the July 26, 2017 assault on the dignity of transgender Americans by their President.

Our baptismal promise to respect the dignity of every human being requires us to stand up and speak out when the dignity of any member of the human family is threatened. 

 Today we stand in solidarity with members of the transgender community who once again find themselves being used as sacrificial lambs on the altar of partisan politics.

The unconscionable attack by the current administration on the fitness of transgender Americans to serve in the military is not only unwarranted -- it is antithetical to our core values as Americans and as Christians.

As our brilliant friend Susan Thistlethwaite wrote: “Transgender Americans do not “weaken” the military or the country. The profound truth of the American experiment, when we are living up to it, is that we are much, much stronger as a people when all are treated equally and have equal rights. Blaming and shaming transgender people is not only a betrayal of our national political aspirations to “all” being “created equal,” it is a betrayal of deeply held religious values.” [Manufacturing Resentment, 7/26/17 | HuffPost]

At All Saints Church we will continue to stand with and for all those on the margins. We stand with all those in danger of losing healthcare, with anyone being profiled because of their race or their religion, with neighbors under threat of deportation, with refugees seeking a safe haven and with Dreamers seeking an education. We refuse to choose between competing oppressions; instead we will stand together and resist any and all assaults on the dignity, the safety and the humanity of any and all of God’s beloved human family.

And we will not allow ourselves to be either distracted nor discouraged as we continue in to live out All Saints’ DNA deep commitment to turn the human race into that human family – a commitment that fuels our resistance, sustains us in the struggle and inspires our vision for a kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven that includes absolutely everyone.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Celebrating with the CofE & Reprising "An Ontological Argument"


Over the weekend while we were busy here in Los Angeles consecrating a new bishop and the rest of the country was busy being embarrassed by the fallout from the behavior of the current resident of the White House at the G20 there was a seismic shift across the pond in the CofE as our "Mother Church" took actions to ban so called "reparative therapy" for LGBT   people and to open the way to "welcome and affirm" transgender people.

As reported in the Guardian:
The General Synod, meeting in York, voted in favour of the move by 284 votes to 78. It was the second time in two days that it gave overwhelming support to motions seen as positive towards LGBT people, suggesting to some a significant change of mood. 
Huge shout outs to all who worked so hard in this campaign in specific and down through the years in general ... for it has been a long, long journey to this point -- and it's not over yet.

I'm thinking today particularly of friends Colin Coward and Jayne Ozanne who have stood in the breach over and over again. And I'm thinking of the many incremental victories it takes along the way toward the audacious goal of the full inclusion of all baptized in all the sacraments. And I'm grateful that today we get to celebrate here -- across the pond -- with our CofE siblings who are celebrating two of those incremental victories today.

Well done!

Meanwhile -- of course -- there is push back from some who self-identify as "evangelicals" and who presume to dictate to all of us how the "clear truth of scripture" is on the side of heterosexism and that the marginalization and oppression LGBT people is God's will ... and for their own good. (This blog post as case in point.)

The short answer is: poppycock.
The longer answer is one I've been giving for decades ... summed up in this ontological argument from 2005 ... written a few months before we (the Episcopal Church) went to Nottingham to plead our case for full inclusion to the Anglican Consultative Council.

An Ontological Argument: April 2005 (originally posted on the EveryVoice Network)

It seems to me that the essential matter at hand is not sexuality but baptism – and the essential question on the table is, “Will this be a church where all of the baptized are fully included in the Body of Christ or not?”

It also seems to me that whatever “threat to the unity and mission of the Anglican Communion” we are currently experiencing must be firmly laid at the feet of the committed percentage of the American conservative fringe whose criterion for being included is being agreed with. Finding that they have been repeatedly disagreed with by the duly selected representative voice of the Episcopal Church on this baptismal question their quest has shifted to orchestrating an “end run” on the historic polity of the Episcopal Church – successfully escalating an ongoing family fight into an international schism.

To further that end, in the months since General Convention 2003 every time there has been any hope of reconciliation, whiff of compromise or effort to seek the classical via media they have skillfully upped the ante, leading us to this seeming impasse on this decades old disagreement du jour. For if we are going to be honest about our differences – about this “impaired communion” – then we must trace them not to 2003 and the consecration of the Bishop of New Hampshire but to 1974 and the ordination of the Philadelphia Eleven.

If the criteria for impaired communion are our differences on who among the baptized may exercise ordained ministry – on whether or not the orders of all our bishops will be received throughout all of the Communion -- then our communion has been impaired for over thirty years – indeed, we are not in agreement on that yet within our own American Episcopal Church!

I remember well my experience at General Convention 1994 in Indianapolis when ECUSA bishop, Bill Wantland, explained to me that I had tremendous gifts for ministry but could never “be” a priest because I was “ontologically incapable of being an efficacious bearer of a sacramental presence.”It was a very clarifying moment.

According to Bishop Wantland, the very essence of my being – my “ontology” as a woman – prohibited me from exercising sacramental ministry. And yet, we have managed to muddle along, he and I, in the same church – impaired communion and all – for lo these thirty-something years.

What has changed? Why is THIS issue – the fuller inclusion and gay and lesbian people into the mission and ministry of the church – THE issue that will split the church when we have managed to work through so many others in the past? We have for decades lived in communion with those who differ on the role of women in ordained ministry in spite of those differences. Why has the ordination of an openly gay bishop – the blessing of gay unions -- become the “defining issue of orthodoxy?”

I actually got to ask that question of David Anderson (president of the American Anglican Council) just a few months before GC2003. And like my 1994 conversation with Bill Wantland it was another clarifying moment.

David was a clergy colleague of mine in Los Angeles for many years. We agreed about a few things and disagreed about more but were nevertheless “in communion” with each other. We ate lunch together once a month for a year with other clergy colleagues reading and discussing the catechism together as part of a dialogue and reconciliation effort by our bishop. We ran into each other at early morning “Mananitas” services for the Cursillo community to which we both belonged. Heck, I sang in a praise band that was part of the prayer team in David’s hotel suite the night before the episcopal election in the Diocese of Pittsburgh when David was on the ballot.

Yes, we were always at opposing microphones when debates happened on diocesan convention floor, but at one time it seemed that the essentials of the beliefs we held in common were more important than the very real differences that sometimes kept us apart.Until 2003. A few months before Minneapolis and GC2003 we were both part of a pre-convention meeting between AAC and Integrity “core leadership.”

After a long discussion I finally said to David, “We’ve been at this for decades, you and I, agreeing to disagree about any number of things. Help me understand why THIS issue is the one that you believe will finally split the church – why is this disagreement one we cannot overcome?”

And David said to me, “Because genital activity is so important to God that God has drawn a fence around it – and within that fence is only a man and a woman within the sanctity of marriage. Anything outside the fence is not subject to blessing and for the church to do so is to unravel the very fabric of the faith.”

Excuse me? If I heard David right – and in checking with my colleague in the room at the time I am assured that I did – the essential matter … the thing that matters MOST to God … is “genital activity?” I’ve got first year EfM students who could make compelling rebuttal to that contention – along with the Old and New Testaments, the received tradition and “reason” by any reasonable definition.

Is that the only argument David has to offer? Of course not – but it was clarifying to me that for the Reverend Canon David Anderson, President of the American Anglican Council, it was a defining one. It was clarifying to me because it was a window into just how far beyond the bounds of historical Anglicanism this small band of conservative reactionaries are willing to go in their quest to turn the Episcopal Church into something neither Hooker nor Seabury would recognize and my sainted Aunt Gretchen – who died with a “Save the 1928 Prayer Book” bumper sticker on her car – would find shocking.

And it has led me to conclude, in the weeks and months since that meeting, that what we are seeing play out around us has less to do with the essentials of the faith than it does with an exit strategy – an exit strategy devised by those who have determined to split this church rather than continue to live in communion with those with whom they disagree.

It is a strategy under-girded by a virulent absolutism that seems to justify any means toward the end of “preserving orthodoxy” and is, in fact, working to destroy the unity of the church while placing the blame for the break up with those of us who have repeatedly committed to STAY in communion with those with whom we disagree.

Which leads me to my own “ontological argument” and it is this: there is an essential difference between feeling excluded because you are not agreed with and BEING excluded because of who you are.

The current “persecution of the orthodox” in so-called “liberal dioceses” is nothing more than the self-fulfilling prophecy of the spoiled, entitled childish behavior of those pitching a fit after being told they must learn how to work and play well with others. The Gospel for Easter 5 tells us that in our Father’s house there are many mansions. St. Paul tells us that essential to the Body of Christ are its many members. And our historic tradition as Anglicans tells us that when we live into the true via media we CAN hold in tension perspectives that others find “mutually exclusive” (catholic and protestant come to mind!)

It is long past time to leave the tantrum throwers to their kicking and screaming -- just like I did to my own young sons when they tried the “my-life-is-over-if-you-don’t-buy-me-the-Cocoa-Puffs-fit” in the cereal aisle. Sometimes, no matter how you yearn to reason them out of their tantrum, you just have to keep the shopping cart moving.

And I believe we have reached that point in this ecclesial tantrum that is threatening to consume us. It is time for the church to move on – to GET on with the work of the church: feeding the hungry, healing the sick, liberating the captive and proclaiming the Good News of God in Christ Jesus available to ALL! Those are the “essential matters of faith and practice” that should be consuming our energies in this Anglican Communion – in this Episcopal Church.

And so may God give us the grace to get back to this work we have been given to do – this Gospel we have been charged with proclaiming – praying all the while that the tantrum will end and we might find unity in the places we can agree and the grace to disagree agreeably in the places we cannot.

Monday, May 08, 2017

The Church of Enough

Sermon preached at All Saints Church in Pasadena at the 7:30 a.m. service on Sunday, May 7, 2017

My first up-close-encounter with Jesus was the mosaic that hung above the drinking fountain at the Lutheran Day School I attended from first grade on. Every time I stopped to get a drink – between kick ball games or turns at the jump rope – there he was: looming above me surrounded by fluffy sheep with a lucky lamb in his arms, gazing down with a patient, loving look on his blue-eyed face. Jesus the Good Shepherd. [I don't have a picture of it but this one is close!]

I remember that mosaic every year when “Good Shepherd Sunday” rolls around … the Sunday in our lectionary cycle when our lessons focus on sheep and shepherds as icons of who God is for us and who we’re called to be for each other.

It is the Sunday when we hear the familiar words of perhaps-the-most-memorized and beloved passage in all of scripture: “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.”

And it is the Sunday when we hear in the collect of the day -- the prayer that begins our worship -- not just the job description of Jesus as shepherd but our marching orders as sheep: O God, whose Son Jesus is the good shepherd of your people: Grant that when we hear his voice we may know him who calls us each by name, and follow where he leads ...

Follow where he leads.

A few years ago I was in Memphis and I was able to squeeze in a visit to the Civil Rights Museum – a moving and inspiring tribute to those who dared to dream of a nation where liberty and justice for all truly meant all. At the entrance to the museum is a striking sculpture of a spiral of human figures reaching high into the sky, each one standing on the shoulders of another – paying tribute to all those who have gone before and continue to support us as we carry on the struggle toward equality for all in this nation of ours.

Our brother +Gene Robinson has spoken of this very sculpture as an icon for the work we are about in the church and in the world as we stand on the shoulders of those who have gone before us. This morning I remember one of those shepherds: Bishop John Krumm.

A former bishop of Southern Ohio, John Krumm retired here in the Diocese of Los Angeles and was active until his death in 1995. I’ll never forget when Bishop George Barrett – another giant of justice – climbed into the pulpit to begin his homily at Bishop Krumm’s funeral.

“John Krumm was never disillusioned by the church,” he said, stabbing his boney finger into the air for emphasis, “because John Krumm never had any ILLUSIONS about the church!”

And then went on to recount how he had served the church he loved ably and prophetically for nearly 60 years in ordained ministry during times of extraordinary change and challenge. And that’s the church I grew up in. It was a time when the sheep were scattered and the church was both paralyzed AND polarized over the last great schism that was going to split the church, destroy the Anglican Communion and (I think I’m right on this) destroy western civilization as we know it: the ordination of women.

John Krumm was in the forefront of that struggle – so my first awareness of him was as one of the list of those my Aunt Gretchen used to mutter about over Sunday dinner if -- in spite of my mother’s best efforts to steer the conversation elsewhere -- it ended up on church politics.

My Aunt Gretchen died with the “Save the 1928 prayer book” bumper sticker on her car and when I ran into her best friend Pat Reiman at a diocesan event after her death and my ordination, Pat said, “Gretchen would have been so proud … or at least I’d like to think she’d have come around by now.”

And I think she would have – come around by now – because one thing for sure: she’d have kept coming around. She wouldn’t have let anything drive her away from the church: even the church itself which sometimes seems to spend more time getting in its own way than it does getting on with it’s mission and ministry – when it gets so busy fussing that it forgets its foundation.

Which brings to mind the first hymn I ever memorized – all five verses!
The Church’s one foundation is Jesus Christ her Lord
She is his new creation by water and the word
From heaven he came and sought her to be his holy bride
With his own blood he bought her and for her life he died.


“The Church’s One Foundation” is not any particular creed or doctrine or theology or agreement on who should be ordained to what … nope “The Church’s One Foundation Is Jesus Christ our Lord.”

That’s the message I internalized as a junior choir member and it’s the message that has sustained me and sustains me still.

Bill Moyers describes it as the historic conflict between the religion of the priests and the religion of the prophets … of the tension between the religion about Jesus and the religion of Jesus.

“It was in the name of Jesus that a Methodist ship caulker named Edward Rogers crusaded across New England for an eight-hour workday. It was in the name of Jesus that Dorothy Day marched alongside autoworkers in Michigan, brewery workers in New York, and marble cutters in Vermont. It was in the name of Jesus that E.B. McKinney and Owen Whitfield stood against a Mississippi oligarchy that held sharecroppers in servitude. And it was in the name of Jesus that Martin Luther King Jr. went to Memphis to march with sanitation workers who were asking only for a living wage.”

This is what it is to follow Jesus. This is both receiving and becoming the bread of life in and for the world. This is high calling we have been given as 21st century disciples of the Jesus who is still known to us in the breaking of the bread.

It is in the name of Jesus that the Sacred Resistance Movement has called us into the streets over these last weeks and months. For the Women's March in downtown Los Angeles and for subversive liturgies in our own Pasadena civic center. For Earth Day and the March for Science and for the May Day Workers' March.

It is in the name of Jesus our rector and others were arrested in acts of civil disobedience during Holy Week -- protesting the targeting and deportation of our immigrant neighbors. To stand with refugees and with Planned Parenthood and with LGBTQ youth.

And it is in the name of Jesus that we are mobilizing to oppose the legislation that would dismantle our healthcare system, strip millions of American of their health insurance and end protections for those with pre-existing conditions.

When we listen to the lesson from Acts appointed for this Sunday I wonder how it is possible for a preacher to hear those words of what it means to be the church -- to give to all because of their need ... not because of their ability to pay ... or co-pay ... how is it possible to hear that passage read on Sunday and not talk about what happened in Washington on Thursday.

As sheep whose job description is to follow Jesus, where Jesus is at this very moment is where the least, the lost and the marginalized are.

That sheep in Jesus' arms in the mosaic over the water fountain? In my imagination this morning that sheep is the 100th sheep ... the one Jesus left the other 99 to go get.

The one with the pre-existing condition.
The one who didn't have all the paperwork filled out.
The one who is still waiting for the immigration hearing in order to make his or her case.
The one who came out and was thrown out by his family and is living on the streets ... and Jesus comes and puts him over his shoulders and says "You are mine."

That is the Jesus we follow. That is the church we are called to be. A church whose one foundation is not a doctrine, a dogma or even a 501(c)(3) .. but whose foundation is Jesus Christ, our Lord ... the good shepherd of ALL the sheep.

Here's what our rector -- Mike Kinman -- had to say about what it is to follow Jesus in our day as Rogers and Day and King did in theirs:

"In the beginning was the Word, the Word was with God, the Word was God. All things came into being through the Word."

The ultimate pre-existing condition is God, God who creates, redeems and sustains.

God who challenges and heals. God who breaks chains and obliterates binaries. The ultimate pre-existing condition is God.

No law can cast out this pre-existing condition.
No bill can stop God's healing power.
And God uses us -- all of us. Our hands, hearts, minds, and voices.
God uses all of us to be healers to each other.

So absolutely, let us flood the Senate switchboards.
Let us kill this abomination of a bill before it can strip health care from millions of people when we should be adding it to millions more.

But let us not fear.

Instead, let us commit to making sure no one among us goes without care.
Commit to caring ourselves for those abandoned by a government that is supposed to be by the people and for the people.
Commit to letting the pre-existing condition that is God flourish in all of us, flow through us.
If we put love first. If we let God love the world through us. There is enough."

The church OF Jesus is the church of enough.

And it is the church we need never be disillusioned by -- even as we pray for it to become all God would have us make it be.
Mid toil and tribulation and tumult of her war
She waits the consummation of peace forevermore
Till with the vision glorious her longing eyes are blessed
And the great Church victorious shall be the Church at rest.
The sheep of other folds will all be gathered in together. There will be one flock and one shepherd. And the kingdom will have come on earth as it is in heaven – and we will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. Thanks be to God. Alleluia. Amen. .

Friday, April 28, 2017

Actually, yes ... we do understand Mr. Trump. We totally understand.


Actually, we totally understand. We really do.


We understand that the last 100 days have been about dismantling the foundation of our historic constitutional democracy in a concerted effort to lay a foundation for greed, graft, oppression and oligarchy.

Oh, we understand, Mr. Trump. That's why we're resisting. And will continue to resist at every turn the "foundation" you are attempting to lay.

Check us out on May 1st when we're back in the streets -- because we TOTALLY understand what is at stake here. La lucha continua and #SiSePuede

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Science is a Thing: Reflections on 20 Years of Love in Action


I write this on a jet somewhere over Nebraska while millions of people gather in the streets around the globe to remind themselves and each other that science is a thing.

Homeward bound from Cincinnati after an Episcopal Communicators conference I am struck by the irony that the ability to wake up in Ohio and be home in time for lunch in Los Angeles -- and to both write and post a blog from a laptop linked to in-flight wifi -- is all because of the science people are taking to the streets to remind themselves and each other -- and their elected officials -- is a thing.

Twenty years ago I had the honor to gather in Cincinnati for another conference ... the JPIC (Justice, Peace & Integrity of Creation) Summit -- sponsored by the Episcopal Church and bringing together hundreds of people from around the world -- including Ambassador Juan Somavia of Chile Samovia said in his keynote speech.
"The world is going through a period of increasing moral indifference to the plight of others, marked by a win-at-all-costs mentality -- and therefore we must assert our fundamental belief in the dignity of every human being." 
That was 1997. This is 2017. That clarion call has only become more urgent. And the church's role has only become more essential.

And so today as I fly home from one conference and remember another, I also remember these words from the sermon Verna Dozier preached at our closing Eucharist twenty years ago.

"You are a peculiar people," she said -- in what would be one of her last public appearances as she struggled with Parkinson's Disease. "And by the grace of God may we always remain so." Reminding participants us that we were "change agents," Dr. Dozier said:
"Let the word go forth -- you have set your sights on General Convention, not as politicians but as people of the Spirit. Too often "we make statues of justice, honor them, and then consider our duties discharged," she added. "We must not distance ourselves from those for whom we do mercy ... for justice is love in action."
We are still a peculiar people -- gifted with the understanding that faith and science are not protagonists but partners in how we understand our journey in the realm we name as "this fragile earth, our island home."

And so I pray today -- somewhere over Nebraska in a jet plane with in-flight wifi -- that the same commitment that fueled us to leave Cincinnati twenty years ago called by Verna Dozier to remember that justice is love in action will fuel our work in the days, weeks and months ahead as we engage in this movement of Sacred Resistance -- taking to the streets as necessary.

That we will use that love in action to challenge moral indifference to the plight of others wherever we find it; refuse to succumb to a win-at-all-costs mentality; assert our fundamental belief in the dignity of absolutely every human being; and remind ourselves -- and everyone else -- that science is a thing.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Sad News from North Carolina

Waking up to sad news of the death yesterday of Bishop Chip Marble ... a Giant of Justice and quite literally one of my favorite people on the planet.

Grateful that I got to hug his neck in Salt Lake City -- and that he was there to see the Church take a giant step toward the full inclusion of LGBT people in its work and witness.

The work is not yet done ... but we are inarguably further on the road toward that goal than we would be without the work and witness of those like Bishop Marble who risked much to stand in solidarity with the most marginalized.

We stand on his shoulders as we continue the work of dismantling systems of oppression in the name of the One who created us in love and called us to walk in love with each other. La lucha continua. May his memory be a blessing and may he rest in peace and rise in glory.

[Here's the link to the Living Church publication of the announcement in the Diocese of North Carolina newsletter.]

Monday, March 20, 2017

Of Congress and Councils and John 9:1-41


So I often do the Noon Eucharist on Monday
and almost always have some prep time over the lessons
to figure out what I'm going to say to the "two or three"
who gather in the chapel on any given Monday at 12:10 p.m.

Today I got sucked into a bit of a vortex
and so crossed the quad lawn with stole in hand hoping that someone
 -- including the Holy Spirit --
would show up.

Prayers answered.

Here were the lessons ... Ephesians 5:8-14
There was a time when you were darkness, but now you are light in Christ.  Live as children of light.  Light produces every kind of goodness, justice and truth.  Be correct in your judgment of what pleases our Savior.  Take no part in deeds done in darkness, which bear no fruit; rather, expose them.  It is shameful even to mention the things these people do in secret; but when such deeds are exposed and seen in the light of day, everything that becomes visible is light.  That is why we read, “Awake, O sleeper, arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.”
And then the very LOOOOOONG Gospel from John 9:1-41
As Jesus walked along, he saw someone who had been blind from birth. The disciples asked Jesus, “Rabbi, was it this individual’s sin that caused the blindness, or that of the parents?” “Neither,” answered Jesus, “It was not because of anyone’s sin – not this person’s, nor the parents’. Rather, it was to let God’s works shine forth in this person. We must do the deeds of the One who sent me while it is still day – for night is coming, when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” With that, Jesus spat on the ground, made mud with his saliva and smeared the blind one’s eyes with the mud. Then Jesus said, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means ‘sent’).

So the person went off to wash, and came back able to see. Neighbors and those who had been accustomed to seeing the blind beggar began to ask, “Is this not the one who used to sit and beg?” Some said yes; others said no – the one who had been healed simply looked like the beggar. But the individual in question said, “No – it was me.” The people then asked, “Then how were your eyes opened?” The answer came, “The one they call Jesus made mud and smeared it on my eyes, and told me to go to Siloam and wash. When I went and washed, I was able to see.” “Where is Jesus?” they asked. The person replied, “I do not know.”

They took the one who had been born blind to the Pharisees. It had been on a Sabbath that Jesus had made the mud paste and opened this one’s eyes. The Pharisees asked how the individual could see. They were told, “Jesus put mud on my eyes. I washed it off, and now I can see.” This prompted some Pharisees to say, “This Jesus cannot be from God, because he does not keep the Sabbath.” Others argued, “But how could a sinner perform signs like these?” They were sharply divided. They addressed the blind person again: “Since it was your eyes he opened, what do you have to say about this Jesus?” “He is a prophet,” came the reply.

The Temple authorities refused to believe that this one had been blind and had begun to see, until they summoned the parents. “Is this your child?” they asked, “and if so, do you attest that your child was blind at birth? How do you account for the fact that now your child can see?” The parents answered, “We know this is our child, blind from birth. But how our child can see now, or who opened those blind eyes, we have no idea. But do not ask us – our child is old enough to speak without us!” The parents answered this way because they were afraid of the Temple authorities, who had already agreed among themselves that anyone who acknowledged Jesus as the Messiah would be put out of the synagogue. That was why they said, “Our child is of age and should be asked directly.”

A second time they summoned the one who had been born blind and said, “Give God the glory instead; we know that this Jesus is a sinner.” “I do not know whether he is a sinner or not,” the individual answered. “All I know is that I used to be blind, and now I can see.” They persisted, “Just what did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?” “I already told you, but you will not listen to me,” came the answer. “Why do you want to hear it all over again? Do not tell me you want to become disciples of Jesus too!”

They retorted scornfully, “You are the one who is Jesus’ disciple. We are disciples of Moses. We know that God spoke to Moses, but we have no idea where this Jesus comes from.” The other retorted: “Here is an astonishing thing! You do not know where he comes from, yet he opened my eyes! We know that God does not hear sinners, but that if people are devout and obey God’s will, God listens to them. It is unheard of that anyone ever gave sight to a person blind from birth. If this one were not from God, he could never have done such a thing!” “What!” they exclaimed. “You are steeped in sin from birth, and you are giving us lectures?”

With that they threw the person out. When Jesus heard of the expulsion, he sought out the healed one and asked, “Do you believe in the Chosen One?” The other answered, “Who is this One, that I may believe?” “You have seen him,” Jesus replied. “The Chosen One is speaking to you now.”

The healed one said, “Yes, I believe,” and worshiped Jesus. Jesus said, “I came into this world to execute justice – to make the sightless see and the seeing blind.” Some of the Pharisees who were nearby heard this and said, “You are not calling us blind, are you?” To which Jesus replied, “If you were blind, there would be no sin in that. But since you say, ‘We see,’ your sin remains.”
As I was reading the (loooooong) Gospel
some of the vortex that had kept me from reading it ahead of time
contextualized what I was reading.

And having spent some of the morning
listening to the Intelligence Committee Hearing on Capitol Hill
I was practically blinded by the light
shining on the truth
that these Living Words of the Gospel of John
describe the actionsof ancient governance councils
who were as uninterested in finding the actual facts
relating to the issue in front of them
(what happened with the person born blind)
as some of those sitting in our current governance councils (AKA Congress)
are in finding the actual facts
relating to the issue in front of them
(what happened with the Russians inserting themselves into our election process.)

Instead -- and in both cases --
they are so convinced of their own truth
and so determined to dismiss anything contrary to their own narrative
anything that challenges their power or worldview
that they remain blind
when the truth is right in front of them.

To which Jesus replied,
"If you were blind, there would be no sin in that.
But since you say "We see"
your sin remains."

Let those with ears to hear, listen.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Homiletic Home Run

We heard a totally awesome sermon today at All Saints Church in Pasadena: a biblical, pastoral and prophetic trifecta. The preacher was on fire and the congregation was right there with him. Here's an excerpt:
Sisters, brothers and gender-nonconforming siblings we are in a desert right now and people are dying because Pharaoh is among us once more.

Now, Pharaoh is not just one person or one administration -- but a culture of domination and an entire system of supremacy that takes a new name with each new generation -- and Pharaoh has come out with a budget plan.

A budget plan that says God's creation is not to be loved and preserved but mined and polluted and fashioned into a golden calf.

A budget plan that turns plowshares back into swords choking off funding for arts and education to build new and mightier chariots for Pharaoh's army.

A budget plan that takes from the meager rations of the poorest of God's children and uses that money to fund slave-catching ICE agents to cast God's children out and the building of a wall to keep white people's fears in.

A budget plan that leaves absolutely no doubt that "make America great again" means make America white again. 
And here's where you watch the whole thing:

Friday, March 17, 2017

Who ARE these people and why are they running our country?

So I started getting the "White House Daily" because I went to the website and told them my "Obamacare Story." I decided that was a good thing ... cuz it gives me a chance to see what they think they're doing and how they're spinning their propaganda wheel. This is a screen capture from today's email:



As you can see, it includes the President's schedule and "News Reports." One of the news reports the White House sends you to ... on purpose ... in its daily email ... is a Washington Post op-ed dripping with cutting edge satire totally disemboweling the immoral budget proposal presented by this Abominable Administration.
 

Here's just one brief excerpt ... you will totally want to go read the whole thing here:
"All schoolchildren will be taught by an F-35 wearing a Make America Great Again hat. They will also have new school choice options including the choice not to afford any school at all, because at school you are taught things like grammar and pronouns and spelling and history, and these are all potentially inimical to the future we are trying to build. We will also be cutting Meals on Wheels programs to feed children, because they are not improving performance as we would like. Feed children just to feed them? What are we, SOFT? No. No we are not!"

Seriously ... do they even READ what they link to or just the headline? Who ARE these people and why are they in charge of our country? #Resist

Thursday, March 16, 2017

When A Budget Is An Immoral Document


Here is an "Executive Summary" of the Trump Budget:
  • Cuts nutrition funding for women, infants, and children
  • Eliminates funding for Meals on Wheels completely
  • Eliminates fund...ing for legal aid
  • Eliminates low income heat assistance
  • Eliminates community block grant, which funds disaster recovery
  • Eliminates community services block grant, which funds community anti-poverty efforts
  • Ends Senior Community Service Employment program
  • Ends housing assistance program, in the middle of affordable housing crisis is America
  • Ends Appalachian Regional Commission, which supports economic development in "left behind" communities who supported him
  • Eliminates national endowment for the arts
  • Eliminates Corporation for National and Community Service, which funds Americorps
  • Eliminates US Interagency Council on Homelessness
  • Eliminates Community Development Financial Institutions, which funds financial services in economically distressed areas
  • Slashes teacher training, after school and summer programs, and higher education aid for low income students
  • Cuts health and nursing training
  • Punishes sanctuary cities for treating immigrants like humans
  • Cuts infrastructure investments like Amtrak and FAA, hurting rural communities
  • Huge cuts to the State Dept, but promises to "keep America safe"
  • Massive cuts to Labor Dept, ending job training programs
And ... just for the record ... here's the Gospel Appointed for today: Thursday in the Second Week of Lent:
Luke 16:19–31 | Jesus said, "There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who longed to satisfy his hunger with what fell from the rich man's table; even the dogs would come and lick his sores. The poor man died and was carried away by the angels to be with Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried. In Hades, where he was being tormented, he looked up and saw Abraham far away with Lazarus by his side. He called out, `Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am in agony in these flames.'

But Abraham said, `Child, remember that during your lifetime you received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner evil things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in agony. Besides all this, between you and us a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who might want to pass from here to you cannot do so, and no one can cross from there to us.' He said, `Then, father, I beg you to send him to my father's house-- for I have five brothers-- that he may warn them, so that they will not also come into this place of torment.' Abraham replied, `They have Moses and the prophets; they should listen to them.' He said, `No, father Abraham; but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.' He said to him, `If they do not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.'"
Coincidence? I don't think so!

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

There is no mercy

Hear these words from Rep. Joe Kennedy of Massachusetts, speaking today on the floor of the House of Representatives during the debate on Great Healthcare Debacle of 2017.


"I was struck last night by a comment I heard made by Speaker Ryan where he called this repeal bill, quote: An act of mercy.

With all due respect to our Speaker, he and I must have read different scripture. The one I read calls on us to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless, and comfort the sick. It reminds us we're judged not by how we treat the powerful but how we care for the least among us.

Mercy. Defined in purely secular terms is passionate treatment for those in distress. It is kindness; it is grace. There is no mercy in a system that makes health care a luxury. There is no mercy in a country that turns their back on those most in need of protection: the elderly, the poor, the sick, and the suffering. There is no mercy in a cold shoulder to the mentally ill.

There is no mercy in a policy that takes for granted the sweat and tears and sacrifice that working Americans sweat every day to care for their family's basic needs. There is no mercy."

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Church of England Edges Into 20th Century

In case you missed the memo, the General Synod of the CofE today uncharacteristically "refused to take note" of the report of their House of Bishops -- and by doing nothing to dismantle the sacramental apartheid relegating the LGBT baptized to second class membership in the Body of Christ they actually nudged the institutional church marginally closer to the 20th century.


May have more to say on this later and may not ... depending on the press of business around here given what a colleague today aptly named as "The Chaos of Now."

But as we've written many times before: achieving audacious goals means celebrating incremental victories. And today was one of those across the pond. From the One Body, One Faith press release:
"Today’s events in the Church of England are unprecedented, with the refusal of the General Synod to take note of the Report of the House of Bishops’ reflection group, GS2055. Both the defeat of the motion by the House of Clergy and the rebellion against it in the House of Laity send an unequivocal message to the house of Bishops that their approach to human sexuality is lamentably out of step with membership of the Church of England and with the nation."
La lucha continua.

Friday, February 03, 2017

A Word From My Bishop-elect

So it's my day off and I'm having that second cup of coffee on the couch enjoying not having an agenda other than getting some laundry done at some point and I come across this great post by our Bishop Coadjutor-elect, John Taylor on his Facebook page. 

I thought it was so great that I asked for -- and received -- permission to share what is not only a brilliant model for how to manage social media interactions in these challenging times but a great glimpse into who it is we've elected as our next bishop here in the Diocese of Los Angeles. And so ... without further ado ... from my friend and bishop-elect John Taylor I give you:

A word about my Facebook page: 


From time to time, I post articles I find interesting or say what’s on my heart and mind. All my posts are public, and I welcome your comments. I ask that you please not say anything you wouldn’t say at my house over a festive spread of snacks and beverages with children present. Please avoid profanity and broad generalizations about people.

For instance, irrespective of your policy position, the following sentences can’t be graciously or even accurately completed with any word or phrase except “beloved of the Most High God” or a word or phrase intrinsically derived from it:

“All undocumented workers are ______,”
“All refugees are ______.”
Try it. It’s fun!

Also, please remember that you are my friend, in conversation with my other friends. That will help you avoid the attack ad hominem – any comment which questions the qualifications, motives, character, or sanity of your conversation partner. Besides being unkind, such comments generally tell the reader that you are having trouble coming up with a substantive argument.

If you ask someone for a response, and they don't reply, it doesn't mean you've won or they're wrong and you get to say so in your next comment. Pretend they just went out for more Diet Coke and beer. Everyone has the right to disengage.

Finally, it’s important to remember, when tempted to make an ad hominem attack, as we all sometimes are, that a criticism of a powerful person whom you like is not a criticism of you.

Vigorous criticism of the powerful is one of the things that makes America great. They can totally take it. Actually, since it’s just my Facebook page, they won’t see it. They don’t care. The only people listening and caring are those you might find sitting around the table over at my house one day, reaching for a chip and inquiring about your family.

I delete offensive comments as soon as I see them. I usually save those I delete and would be happy to tell you my reasons if you ask off-line. Thanks for listening, and blessings in Christ.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Actual Facts As Opposed To Alternative Facts

From my brilliant friend Jason Lyon. Please read, mark, learn, inwardly digest, forward, share and #resist.

For the period 2001-2013, there were an average of 31,269 gun deaths in the US each year.

For the same period, there were an average of 260 deaths by domestic terrorism each year (median: 28 - helpful because the 9/11 deaths skew the mean by almost 10x).



Note that this number accounts for ALL deaths by terrorism, not just those attacks credited to Islamic extremism. Therefore ...

Your odds of dying by gunshot are 1 in 300.
Your odds of dying in a domestic terrorism incident are 1 in 20 MILLION.
You are more than 15 times more likely to die of being struck by lightning than to die in a terrorist attack.

TAKEAWAY: Our government is stoking an irrational fear of a minuscule threat.

More #actualfacts:

-The attackers in Ft. Hood, San Bernardino, and Orlando were AMERICAN BORN and radicalized in the US

-The attackers in Oklahoma City, Charleston, Newtown, UVA, Columbine, and Aurora were all American born and purportedly Christians.

-The 9/11 attackers were from Saudi Arabia (15), UAE (2), Egypt and Lebanon (1 each). Nearly 3,000 people died on 9/11. NONE of these countries is included in the proposed immigration ban.

-Total domestic terrorism deaths caused by people from proposed ban countries Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen: ZERO.

TAKEAWAY: The anti-terrorism proposal does not address the sources of domestic terrorism.

Last #actualfact: The First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America states that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof..."

The US Supreme Court has repeatedly held that preferences for a particular religion violate this Clause.

TAKEAWAY: At least part of the immigration ban proposal is unconstitutional.

#wearethemajority #resist

Thursday, January 26, 2017

New wedding resource based on changes authorized by the 2015 General Convention

“Every parish priest should have this resource, which will help them become familiar with the marriage canon and marriage liturgies authorized in 2015. Tobias Haller offers wise pastoral guidance. Drawing from his years of experience, he explores the many options and recommends sound liturgical and pastoral practices.” — The Revered Dr. Ruth Meyers, Dean of Academic Affairs and Hodges-Haynes Professor of Liturgics, Church Divinity School of the Pacific
This came in my email today.

In the midst of all the challenges of our current reality -- in a time when it seems increasingly difficult to imagine moving forward beyond the deluge of Executive Orders and Breaking Bad News -- it was like a little ray of sunshine reminding me of the Gospel According to Margaret Mead:
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.”
In the midst of the Inclusion Wars struggle I would never have imagined I would get this email in my inbox today. And I did. So miracles happen. Not by themselves. But they happen.

La lucha continua. Onward and upward.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

My "Save the Affordable Care Act" Story

The Affordable Care Act made my wife Louise’s battle with kidney cancer in 2000 a part of her medical history that informed her treatment in 2012 — not a pre-existing condition that prevented her from receiving treatment in 2012.

Because of the ACA (aka “Obamacare”), not only did Louise have options for her fight with cancer, but she had the health insurance she needed to exercise those options. She had phenomenal doctors, nurses, and health-care teams at the Norris Cancer Center and at Keck/USC Hospital who did absolutely everything they could until there was nothing left to do.

And I was left “just” coping with the grief and loss of a beloved spouse -- not the helpless anger of not having been able to give her the best possible health care she needed and deserved.

There's nothing that can't be improved -- including the ACA. But to turn back the clock on healthcare for millions of Americans is both unconscionable and unnecessary. #SaveACA

Friday, January 20, 2017

Inauguration Day 2017

THE LINCOLN BIBLE (A Poem for Inauguration Day)
 by Name Withheld, only wishes to be known as "A Priest in God's Church"
 [shared with permission]


In the molecular space
 between his palm
 and Lincoln's own imprint
 on the worn burgundy
 of Holy Scripture
 there is a wall:
 built of the crumbling dust
 of liberty and equality;
 hardened bricks fashioned
 out of mud and straw
 men, scarecrows
 protecting a barren field;
 mortared by misogyny
 violence, racism,
 and the petty thirst
 for the power
 of a nation's original sins;
 painted in gold leaf,
 and hanging at the center,
 a love letter in Cyrillic
 and the portrait of a man
 named Dorian Gray.

In this whisper of space,
 between leathered skin and red velvet
 is the resistance of the holy
 where hope exists,
 thin and imaginary and growing.
 It is the place where,
 no matter how hard
 his palm presses on the sacred
 for power and glory
 It can never touch
 what is holy
 It can never silence
 the voice of God
 protesting
 with every
 holy
 breath.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Hail to the (Outgoing) Chief


It is Inauguration Eve, and I can't let the clock run out without taking just a moment to reflect on a few stand out moments (for me) from these last eight years of the Presidency of Barack Obama.

I think back to his first election November 4, 2008. Standing on the stage at the theater where we'd gathered for the Prop 8 results and watching him make his victory speech from Chicago ... while we watched the returns coming in that would (temporarily) take away the Constitutional right of same-sex couples to marry in California. And I remember what a moment it was when we heard our president-elect say these words:

It's the answer spoken by young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, black, white, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, gay and straight, disabled and not disabled. Americans who sent a message to the world that we have never been just a collection of individuals or a collection of red states and blue states. We are, and always will be, the United States of America.

It was 2008 -- and we were coming out of an era where the President of the United States supported the FMA (Federal Marriage Amendment) that would have enshrined discrimination against LGBT families into the Constitution. And we stood there and heard the words "gay and straight" come out of the President-elect's mouth. Stunning.

Yes, we can.

After his second election in November 2012 I was blessed to have great friends -- Julena and Leon -- who helped make it possible to go to the second Obama Inauguration. We got tickets through our Representatives' offices (still owe you one, Adam Schiff!) and with thousands of others made our way to Washington for January 21, 2013.

It was an extraordinary privilege to actually BE there after all those years of watching it on television. And then ... to hear him say these words in his Inaugural Address:

"We, the people, declare today that the most evident of truths –- that all of us are created equal –- is the star that guides us still; just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls, and Selma, and Stonewall; just as it guided all those men and women, sung and unsung, who left footprints along this great Mall, to hear a preacher say that we cannot walk alone; to hear a King proclaim that our individual freedom is inextricably bound to the freedom of every soul on Earth." 

Never thought I'd live long enough to hear those words come out of a President's mouth. A simply transcendent moment of hope, joy, and empowerment.

Yes, we can.

And then there was May 9, 2013 -- I remember getting a text from my friend Bishop Gene Robinson. "I don't know where you are or what you're doing but listen to the news. Your President is about to do something good and you're not going to want to miss it."

I was actually finishing up our spring clergy conference in Long Beach and had checked out of my hotel room ... so I sat in the hotel lobby and read the breaking news on my laptop: that in his interview with Robin Williams he said “At a certain point, I’ve just concluded that for me personally it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same-sex couples should be able to get married,”

Yes, we can.
And yes we did. June 28, 2014

And then there was July 21, 2014 -- the day President Obama signed the Executive Order ending federal employment discrimination against LGBT Americans.

I got the invitation to attend the signing in the East Room on Friday ... and in spite of my initial "there is no way this is going to happen" reaction, by Sunday I was on a plane to DC and on Monday I was in the actual East Room of the actual White House watching the actual President of the United States sign the actual Executive Order. And ... wait for it ... I got to get my picture taken with one of the actual First Dogs: Sunny.


It's Inauguration Eve. Tomorrow I will suit up, show up and report for duty as member of Team Sacred Resistance. But tonight? Tonight I want to look at old pictures and remember highlights of the last eight years and give thanks for the extraordinary gift of being alive to experience the gift of this President.

Thank you, Mr. President. Godspeed and God Bless.




Friday, January 13, 2017

How (Not "If") We Pray for the President


My two cents on the "how (not if) we pray for our President" issue.

Our Presiding Bishop Michael Curry and and my Rector Mike Kinman are both urging prayers for our president, our leaders and our nation at this important time in our history. That is what Episcopalians do.

The other thing Episcopalians do is provide options for how to offer those prayers. Choosing to use a form for the Prayers of the People in the Book of Common Prayer which does not use the given name of elected officials is one of those options. It is arguably a classically Anglican "both/and" option -- making room for fervent prayers for our president while pastorally making room for those subject to trauma triggers to worship safely.

And -- it is worth noting -- none (repeat "none") of the six forms of the Prayers of the People in the Book of Common Prayer make explicit provision for praying for elected officials by name. Rather, choosing to do so is rubricly a permissive exception that falls within the parameters of Anglican comprehensiveness. As is choosing to stick with the language in the Prayer Book.

For Pete's sake people: we started out as a church holding in tension being both catholic and protestant. Surely we can hold in tension landing in different places on how (not if) we pray for our President. It's part of our DNA. Let's live up to it.