Saturday, October 26, 2019
Good people of deep faith read the same Bible and come to different conclusions about what God wills, intends and blesses. Patriotic Americans come to different conclusions about how best to defend the Constitution against all enemies—foreign and domestic. And what makes America great is that we are protected in our differences by the rule of law — and that no one is above the law.
Yes, we have failed over and over again to make the aspiration of liberty and justice for all a reality — but the fact that it remains an aspiration is the North Star of our journey toward a more perfect Union.
I come from Republican stock who would support many of the policies I disagree with in the current administration — but they would not be willing to either participate in or support the dismantling of the fabric of our democracy that is happening in broad daylight in front of our eyes.
Where are the Republicans who will put country before party and recognize that if we let this continue, our democracy is the baby that goes out with the bath water? Where are the patriots who will stand against this civic heresy that a President is above the rule of law?
Resistance is not an option. It's a duty.
Friday, October 25, 2019
I'm still at All Saints in Pasadena as a member of their clergy staff ... dividing my time 40/60 parish and diocese ... and still living into a new paradigm of being "bilocational." But suffice to say it's exciting, energizing and just a little intimidating to be given the chance to both imagine and implement this new initiative which is the brainstorm of our Bishop Diocesan John Taylor.
And that brings me to the question which is the title of this post: So what exactly is your new job?
The announcement that went out back at the end of June does a good job of outlining the vision ... you can read that here ... but the Clif Notes version is this:
Known as “One in the Spirit: Finding Divinity Within Difference in the Diocese of Los Angeles,” the 3-year initiative will begin in September guided by a new staff officer, working group, and mission statement prioritizing four goals:My job is to pull together a diverse team of folks from around the diocese who will initially work on a process of collaborating and collating: doing an inventory of what programs, projects and initiatives are already in place doing this core Gospel work of reaching across difference and imagining together what we can create to both amplify the existing work and create new opportunities that don't yet exist.
- “To live more fully into our baptismal promise to respect the dignity of every human being.
- “To understand better how barriers of class, race, language, nationality, culture, politics, geography, orientation, and identification blind us to the burning image of the divine in one another.
- “To proclaim in Christ’s name that we will not submit to our era’s epic division and polarization.
- “To feed hearts that are hungry for connection and community in a secularizing, isolating age.”
A core piece of this work is our Anglican identity -- remembering that we come from spiritual ancestors who found a way to hold together the seemingly irreconcilable tensions of being both catholic and protestant in the 16th century -- and trusting that the DNA of Anglican comprehensiveness will equip us to do the work of bridging the differences that challenge us as 21st century disciples.
The plan is to have our Steering Committee in place by the end of November and then to call together a broadly based Task Force early in the new year. Stay tuned for more updates on that as we continue to build as we fly. And ... if you're a Diocese of L.A. peep ... come find me at Diocesan Convention and let's talk. I'd love to hear your thoughts and ideas as we build this together.
In the meantime, I wanted to share these words from our Presiding Bishop's opening remarks to Executive Council last week ... works that are germane not only to this Engagement Across Difference initiative but to our work in the world in these days of challenge and polarization.
The United States is being torn asunder within by the inability to be in deep relationship with each other and yet hold differing positions and convictions. And the test of this democratic experiment will be the capacity of this particular nation to hold differences in the context of deep and real human relationships.This is us ... the Diocese of Los Angeles. Ready to see what happens.
I really believe that Jesus was right. That the Way of Love, doesn't mean the way of agreement. But it means the capacity to love each other, and therefore, to seek the good together. Whether we agree or disagree. This is the democratic experiment; this is not just religious platitude. Dr. King once said, “History is replete with the bleached bones of civilization that have refused to listen to (Jesus),” who said love your enemies, bless those who curse you.
This country must not become a valley of dry bones. And frankly, the only way is the way of love. There is no other way. And maybe, this wonderful little church of ours, can offer that. This Way of Love to the body politic.
Not for political ends, not to change anybody's vote. But to change how we relate to each other as human beings.
And then we see what happens.
Written by the Right Reverend John H. Taylor (Bishop of Los Angeles) and posted to his Facebook page this morning -- shared with his permission.
A conservative website has given its readers the opportunity to cull intimate emails and photos of Representative Katie Hill. It's a sad story. She's having a lousy divorce. But that's public life for you. Members of Congress should follow its ethics rules. Candidates shouldn't have affairs with subordinates, as Hill admits doing. She may have issues with alcohol, for which she deserves our prayers. The House ethics committee will no doubt do its work diligently and hold her appropriately accountable.
Meanwhile, down the street is someone who is finally being held accountable for his shadow foreign policy but not his well-illuminated male predation. A new book adds scores of stories to what we knew already. Sickening behavior toward women that, it were undertaken in the form of assaults on members of almost any other cultural group -- African-Americans, Jews, Muslims, Latinx people -- would result in eternal disgrace. But in our society, you can still do that to women and get away with it. If you are a bisexual woman, and you comb your friend's hair, you get your naked pictures on a blog, and an investigation promptly ensues. If you're a powerful man, assaulting women time after time, your buddies say “but Clinton” and line up for your reelection campaign.
As for why there’s such a double standard, my siblings in faith, it's our fault. We Christians, at least in the aggregate. It's because of the continued distortion of the true gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. It's because many of us have committed the error of male supremacy.
A powerful 80 million-strong bloc of conservative Christians keeps Trump in power while participating in ecclesial polities that keep women down. One of the authors of the new book "All The President's Women: Donald Trump And The Making Of A Predator," Monique El-Faizy, nails it in a "Huffington Post" interview:
"The structure of the evangelical church, where Trump gets the bulk of his support, is very patriarchal. For them, this kind of patriarchy is what God has instructed them to do, and they find all kinds of different ways of rationalizing it. Early on, I called an old source of mine. I said, 'How on earth are you supporting him?' And they said, 'God uses imperfect vessels.' So they rationalize it by saying, [Trump] is being used, he’s a tool of God. He doesn’t need to be perfect, we’re all sinners. But at the very core of their support is just a comfort with patriarchy and the idea that women are supposed to be submissive to men."
Not every evangelical or Christian Zionist, of course, behaves or thinks abusively about women. Obeying their male preachers and Bible study teachers, many treat women with deep respect and reverence. Male supremacy reigns nevertheless. We see it parts of the Muslim world, unfortunately. But we also see it in our Christian home town. Most non-denominational churches won’t permit a woman in the pulpit or top leadership. If your daughter or granddaughter wants to preach the gospel, for instance, she had better not be a Southern Baptist, the denomination Jimmy Carter left over just this issue.
No enlightened Bible scholar can actually find reliable warrant for such prejudice. Your local male-dominant pastor will probably quote Deutero-Pauline writings such as this clunker from Ephesians: "For the husband is the head of the wife just as Christ is the head of the church." But these are probably not the the apostle’s words. Scholars have known this for hundreds of years. Try this: Read 1 Corinthians 13 and then Ephesians 5. It's like comparing Yeats to the second inaugural address of Calvin Coolidge. Paul thought Christ would return in Paul's own lifetime. He didn't think people should bother to get married. So he devoted no energy to deciding who should take out the garbage. A loyal member of Paul's movement probably wrote Ephesians as the church dug in for the long haul and Greco-Roman male dominance smothered living memories of our Lord's egalitarianism.
Yet Ephesians' household codes and the work of post-Pauline writers and editors -- not the gospels, not Paul's genuine texts -- undergird the social teachings of modern evangelicalism. They help keep Trump on Air Force One while poor Katie Hill girds for ignominy. If there's a deep state in control of our civic lives, there you have it -- deep in the darkness of misogyny committed in the name of him who came in light and love to save and lift up all people to love God and care for one another in the spirit of mutual self-sacrifice.
So come, spirit of the risen Christ. Come cleanse, teach, and unite your church. Show us the way to the Oxford Annotated Bible, Education for Ministry, and a really good seminary like Bloy House, The Episcopal Theological School at Claremont. That includes all us preachers in the progressive denominational church, who must do the hard and sometimes unwelcome work of sifting the canon for its essential nuggets of justice, righteousness, peace, and love. It means teaching explicitly about what Paul said and probably didn’t say.
Because in these times, now more than ever, we need well-educated Christians — Christians who refuse to acquiesce any longer in the heretical error of male supremacy.
(Photos: All Saints Pasadena; Rep. Katie Hill)
Wednesday, October 16, 2019
On Thursday, October 10 in Los Angeles an auditorium packed with LGBTQ community members in specific and supporters of equality in general gathered to hear nine of the Democratic candidates for President field questions about their hopes and dreams for our nation at a town hall entitled "Equality in America."
At exactly the same time in Minneapolis, an enthusiastic crowd gathered to hear Donald Trump make his case for "Making America Great Again" by continuing the policies he has advanced during his three years in office.
The contrast could not have been more stark. The differences could not have been more distinct. And the divide could not have been deeper.
The Los Angeles crowd heard a diverse field of competitors for the presidential nomination in their party address how they would work to both reverse the steps backwards during this administration and move to take steps forward toward the goal of full equality for LBGTQ Americans. Representing different generations, cultural and geographic contexts, ethnicities, genders and orientations they offered a hopeful, forward looking vision for a nation living out its aspirational ideal of a nation conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all people are created equal.
The Minneapolis crowd heard the President of the United States attack a sitting member of Congress, a former Vice-President of the United States, the Speaker of the House, refugees in general and Somali refugees in particular. In a rally described by the Washington Post as "Stunning in ugliness and tone" he offered conspiracy theories, obscenities and character assassination directed at his opponents and a vision for a nation continuing on the path he has chartered during his administration ... a path notable for its chaos and corruption at home and abandonment of historic allies while embracing dictators and oligarchs abroad.
I was honored to be in the audience here in Los Angeles for the Equality Town Hall ... sitting amongst a great cloud of witnesses in the balcony above the candidates and questioners. There were a number of moments that stuck out for me: Elizabeth Warren's brilliant response to the question about marriage and connecting our trade policy to advocacy for human rights, Pete Buttigieg so artfully navigating questions about his faith, and the universal support of all nine candidates for Equality Act.
But the most powerful ones were the moments when the carefully orchestrated agenda was disrupted by transgender rights protesters calling for an accounting for the ongoing murder of black trans women in the streets of our nation. In a statement after the event, HRC President Alphonso David apologized saying, "Black and Latin trans women should not have to protest to have a voice in spaces created for the LGBTQ community."
Their pain was palpable, their voices were strong and the justice they seek is irrefutable. None of us are free and safe and home until all of us are -- and the marginalization of black trans women as the story of the LGBTQ movement's past is told and as the future of the LGBTQ movement is shaped is undeniable.
Their courage in standing up and speaking out challenged all of us to continue to live into the aspirational vision of a nation where liberty and justice for all really means all.
And in that moment, they also provided the candidates and moderators the opportunity to offer a vision for what public civic discourse looks like when we amplify rather than vilify voices of protest; when we live into the best of who are are as a diverse nation still striving to become the nation we were conceived to be; when we are willing to listen to those whose experience is not ours in order to become partners in dismantling oppression.
The greatness of America lies in the power of protest to continue to challenge its leaders to live up to the promise of greatness we have yet to fully realize … and in the willingness of Americans to be transformed by the witness of the stories, the pain and the struggle of those with the courage to speak their truth in order to set us all free.
Because -- as the radical rabbi from Nazareth taught us in John 8:32 … "the truth will set you free."
And until all of us are free, none of us are free.
Thursday, October 03, 2019
It cannot be a surprise to anyone that a man we all heard declaring on video tape those immortal words ... "When you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything." ... thinks that when you're President you really CAN do anything: that you are the exception that proves the Rule of Law.
And anyone who thought that was libtard, snowflake hyperbole only needs to dig back through the wreckage of this administration to see what damage can be wrought to the body politic when a Commander-in-Chief confuses himself with a Despot-in-Chief.
Listen to the wise words of my bishop -- John Taylor -- who posted this observation on his Facebook page earlier today:
"Trump taunted his critics today by calling on China to investigate Biden. So there we have it. From “no collusion” to super-collusion, collusion everywhere, with all the wealth and might of the United States for sale to the highest bidder. This is familiar stuff. When the leader decides it’s legal, and has the power to back it up, then it’s legal. Thus it always was -- approximately until constitutions and the balance of powers. Humanity gets it deep in our being. Much of the modern world has still never known anything else. It’s important today to remember how easy it would be to lose it."It is very important to today to remember how easy it would be to lose it. To lose it all. To lose not only what we've managed to accomplish after these couple of centuries of living into the aspirational American Dream but to lose all hope of making liberty and justice for all not just a pledge we make but a reality we live.
Humanity does get it deep in our being ... and the place we "get it" is what I would explain theologically as the Imago Dei in each and every human being: the image of God that calls us to our best and highest self -- loving God and loving our neighbor as ourselves. And yet our history as humans bears out how we've struggled to make what we get in our being align with how we live in the world.
If we could have done it on our own, there would be no need for the Garden of Eden myth to explain how death and evil entered the world. If we could have done it by following a to-do list, the Ten Commandments would have done the trick and we'd be good to go. If having the one who created us in love becoming one of us in order to show us how to walk in love with each other had worked there would have been no Good Friday.
Instead, here we are as Easter people. Continuing in the struggle to align our lives with God's values of love, justice and compassion. Continuing to be a church that is the Body of Christ -- the hands and feet of Jesus in the world -- comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable. Continuing to strive to be a nation conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all people are created equal -- a nation where the the rule of law is a thing and where a constitution and balance of powers are the bedrock of our fragile democracy.
And today -- a day when corruption, chaos and collusion dominate the news cycle -- to continue to remember how easy it would be to lose it ... as we renew our commitment to walk in love with each other in the struggle to preserve it.
La lucha continua.