Sunday, August 31, 2008
Saturday, August 30, 2008
Friday, August 29, 2008
Two early reactions:
Americans United for Life Action President and CEO Dr. Charmaine Yoest: “With this bold and inspired selection, Sen. McCain has verified his stated commitment to assembling a truly pro-life administration. You can be sure the vice presidential selections will have far-reaching ramifications in this race.”
Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese: “Sarah Palin not only supported the 1998 Alaska constitutional amendment banning marriage equality but, in her less than two years as Governor, even expressed the extreme position of supporting stripping away domestic partner benefits for state workers. When you can’t even support giving our community the rights to health insurance and pension benefits, it’s a frightening window into where she stands on equality.”
Let the games begin!
Thursday, August 28, 2008
From a story in the Dallas Morning News about the debut of a woman preacher at Irving Bible Church this Sunday:
"If the Bible is not true and authoritative on the roles of men and women, then maybe the Bible will not be finally true on premarital sex, the homosexual issue, adultery or any other moral issue," he said. "I believe this issue is the carrier of a virus by which liberalism will enter the evangelical church."
OR ... "this issue" could be the bearer of good news of the inclusive love of a God whose embrace extends beyond bias and bigotry by which liberation will be proclaimed to the captive, freedom to the oppressed and sight to those blind to the sin of sexism.
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
And SHE totally rocks ...
"With eyes firmly fixed on the future, and in the spirit of unity with the goal of victory, with faith in our party and our country, let's declare together with one voice right here, right now that Barack Obama is our candidate and he will be our president."
And how thrilled am I to be home on vacation watching it all unfold live on CNN! History made right in front of me ...
Together since 1953 ...
.... they founded "The Daughters of Bilitis" in 1955 -- a lesbian rights organization that "became a tool of education for lesbians, gay men, researchers, and mental health professionals." Del Martin was a leader in feminist and civil rights causes. She was the first out lesbian elected to the National Organization for Women (NOW). She was a founding members of the Alice B. Toklas Lesbian/Gay Democratic Club. She was also the founder of Old Lesbians Organizing for Change, fighting ageism and homophobia together.
Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon became the first couple to legally marry in the United States on February 12, 2004 in San Francisco, California. They married again on June 16, 2008, when California became the second state to legally recognize same-sex marriage.
Upon her death, Phyllis said, “Ever since I met Del 55 years ago, I could never imagine a day would come when she wouldn’t be by my side. I am so lucky to have known her, loved her, and been her partner in all things. I also never imagined there would be a day that we would actually be able to get married. I am devastated, but I take some solace in knowing we were able to enjoy the ultimate rite of love and commitment before she passed.”
Rest eternal grant to her, O Lord, and may her soul and the souls of all the departed rest in peace and rise in glory.
OK ... I'm probably a little biased. (Well, probably there's no "probably" about it ...) But what a TOTAL home run Hillary hit last night with her speech at the Democratic National Convention!!
If by some chance you missed it, CNN has it on video here ...
You Go, Girl!!!
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
It's been a particularly "quick" summer -- what with Lambeth and all -- but I've enjoyed these couple of weeks of being really OFF and able to concentrate on the business of family life -- the sad task of working with my brother to get my mother's "affairs in order" in Minnesota and the joyful (but exhausting!) task of incorporating a new puppy into our family here at home.
And while I still hope to read a few more novels and see a couple of movies I've got a meeting of the diocesan task force on marriage equality this afternoon and a couple of Integrity Board business conference calls this week, so the end of the "lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer" -- such as they have been this year -- is definitely in sight.
So here's what caught my eye this morning as I'm starting to wade back into what's up where:
+Rowan Williams has published his "reflections on Lambeth" via a Pastoral Letter to the Bishops of the Anglican Communion posted today by ACNS.
I found it disturbing that the ABoC seems determined to continue pander to the schismatics whose determined actions over the last decade have polarized the differences between our Anglican provinces into the divisions that now threaten to reinvent Anglicanism into something neither Hooker nor Cranmer would recognize. +Williams writes:
We were conscious of the absence of many of our colleagues, and wanted to express our sadness that they felt unable to be with us and our desire to build bridges and restore our fellowship. We were aware also of the recent meeting in Jerusalem and its statements; many of us expressed a clear sense of affinity with much that was said there and were grateful that many had attended both meetings, but we know that there is work to do to bring us closer together and are determined to do that work.
Where's the determination to do the work of fully including the LGBT baptized into the Body of Christ? Where's the expression of "sadness" that the Bishop of New Hampshire continues to be punished for the new Anglican Cardinal Sin of Honesty? And where's the recognition that nothing short of capitulation to their narrow, exclusivist agenda will be enough to bridge the chasm between the Gafconistas and rest of the Anglican Communion. To say the least, this latest missive out of Canterbury is ... disappointing.
Decidedly NOT disappointing is Marilyn McCord Adams' comprehensive "Unfit for Purpose" -- a reflective overview of what-brought-us-to-where-we-are-and-what-our-options-are-now for the Anglican Communion. Consider it a "must read."
A plethora of Lambeth Reviews are now dotting the Cyber Landscape. Here's an assortment from "the other side of the aisle":
Chris Sugden pretty much gave it a "thumbs down."
+John Howe wonders if it was "the last Lambeth Conference."
The AAC had more thumbs down than Carter has pills.
Andrew Carey used his post-Lambeth review to slam TEC ... one more time.
George Conger ... well, George is George.
And now back to my regularly scheduled vacation ... what's left of it!
Monday, August 25, 2008
I've always been a political animal. I think it was in our family DNA. The values my parents raised us with included a deep love of this country and its foundational values of liberty and justice for all -- and they instilled in us a deep sense of our responsibility to participate in the political process.
The first election I remember being aware of was 1960 ... I was 6 ... and four years later, I walked our precinct with my mom handing out literature for ... Barry Goldwater. And in 5th grade I won first prize in a D.A.R. essay contest for a piece entitled “The Land I Love is America.”
Yes, the family political roots went deep.
We watched conventions together ... crunched up on the old couch in the den on the black & white TV with the rabbit ears ... and we stayed up late following election returns. I remember explaining the electoral college to classmates on the elementary school playground because Daddy explained it to me. And when I was in high school in Santa Barbara I volunteered to drive voters to the polls to make sure that shut-ins had the opportunity to vote. I voted in my first presidential election in 1972 – the year I turned 18 and they lowered the voting age TO 18 … I think I thought they did it just for me!
And in college, I majored in history and political science ... planning to go to law school and thinking that one day I might find my own role in the political process ... believing that the American Dream really is worth the work it takes to preserve and protect it even as I believed we were not yet "there" in the liberty and justice for all part. Along the way I got sidetracked … never made it to law school and stayed home and raised kids and stayed a registered Republican … even though I increasingly found myself voting “across party lines.”
That changed in 1992. I was watching the Republican Convention television coverage – cooking dinner while the boys did their homework when Pat Buchanan rose to the podium and gave what has come to be known as his "Culture War" speech. I listened with increasing horror as his narrow, exclusivist, fear-mongering rhetoric laid out a vision for what this country needed -- a vision that bore absolutely NO resemblance to the values my parents had raised me to understand were core to the “Grand Old Party” of my Republican roots.
I turned the stove down under the simmering green beans, told the boys to finish their homework and I’d be right back … and I drove the six blocks down to the grocery store where earlier in the day I’d noticed the card table out front with the “Register to Vote” sign. I changed my party affiliation that day – explaining to the woman at the card table that if I got hit by a bus tomorrow I was NOT going to die a Republican. And I’ve never looked back.
And so here I am again tonight – glued to another political convention. There aren’t two kids doing homework at the kitchen table this time … one’s in Kentucky working two jobs to try to make ends meet and the other is in the Army. But there are familiar signs and the balloons, the speeches and the pundits.
And what a relief to hear in the those speeches the same dream of the America I wrote about with such hope and love and pride in 5th grade … the America where liberty and justice for all is not just a slogan but a reality. It is a dream that will never die … and it was impossible to hear Ted Kennedy inspire us one more time to believe it NOT to believe it. Not to believe that yes we CAN fix what is broken about the American dream -- and yes we CAN heal the divisions that challenge us as a nation.
I’m still a political animal. And tonight I've never been prouder to be one.
Sunday, August 24, 2008
In today's NYTimes ...
We’ll Marry Each Other as Often as Needed wherein columnist Bob Morris describes his recent marriage to long-time partner Ira, concluding with these words:
For the moment, Ira and I are legal newlyweds. The other day he told me he loves being married.
“But if we hadn’t been able to get married, I’d still feel as married as I did before we got married,” he told me. “And if the laws change, we’ll just keep getting married wherever we have to until we’re absolutely married for good.”
Complicated? Perhaps. But then so is marriage, for better or worse, over and over again.
Traditional family values. Til death do us part. What part of "happily ever after" do they want to take away from Bob and Ira ... or Ellen and Portia ... or Michael and Warren ... or Marilyn and Carole ... or Pat and Kate ... or Bart and Tony ... or Harry and Mike ... and, and, and, and, and ...??????????
Also in today's NYTimes "Weddings and Celebrations"are signs that I'm not the only California Clergy Person with weddings galore:
Kenneth Lyle Shepard and Jack Lawrence Kouloheris were married on Thursday in a civil ceremony at San Francisco City Hall by Mary Ortega, a deputy marriage commissioner. Canon Mary E. Haddad, an Episcopal priest, led a blessing of the union on Saturday at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco. (Mary is a former clergy colleague here in Los Angeles ... )
Joshua David Wayser and Richard Dayton Schulte are to be married on Sunday by Rabbi Lisa Edwards in Malibu, Calif., at the home of Bill and Ellyn Lindsay, friends of the couple. Mr. Schulte and Mr. Wayser are adopting their fifth child, Isaac, who is 4 months old and will have a baby naming ceremony performed by Rabbi Edwards as part of the wedding festivities. “After you have so many children, you get embarrassed about inviting people to another baby naming,” Mr. Wayser said. (Mavel tov to the whole family ... and Lisa and I co-officiated at an interfaith blessing last year at Disney Hall and is a great friend and ally.)
And finally, here's a quote from my niece Jennifer ... whose wedding to her charming husband Travis I had the privilege of presiding at in April 2007:
What's wrong with people who don't get that everybody has the right to be happy? How lame is that?Well said, Jen! How lame indeed?
Watching this garden wedding unfold last night brought to mind this commercial -- being frequently aired here in California -- and asking the poignant question: What if you couldn't marry the person you loved?
Thankfully, last night there were no obstacles to the vows that were said, the celebration that was celebrated, the "happily ever after" we all gathered to support. But we've got our work cut out for us keeping it that way as the religious right mobilizes to take away the rights all Californians now have to marriage from some Californians ... the gay ones.
It's going to be a busy fall!
From the feature in today's L.A Times:
Susan Russell, a priest at All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena, a liberal congregation that has long supported the rights of gays and lesbians to marry, said "fair-minded Californians" should be concerned about some of the tactics and arguments of faith leaders on the other side.
"I will defend to my last breath the right of any of those folks to exercise their religion as they believe they are called to do it," she added. "But I'll resist to my last breath, vote, e-mail and blog their right to inflict their religious beliefs on the Constitution of the state of California."
Russell said that the idea that the court's decision infringed on religious liberty was a "red herring." Divorce is legal in California, she said, but that doesn't mean that Roman Catholic priests have to perform marriages for people who have been divorced.
Saturday, August 23, 2008
Healthcare providers should not be allowed to let faith interfere with delivering care.
By Richard P. Sloan
August 23, 2008
Earlier this week, the California Supreme Court ruled against two physicians who allegedly denied -- based on their religious opposition -- a legal medical treatment to a patient based on her sexual orientation. The decision was issued in a lawsuit filed by a lesbian against doctors in a Vista, Calif., medical group who refused to artificially inseminate her. This is a welcome, if unusual, turnabout in a disturbing trend that has characterized American medicine over the last three or so decades: an increasing willingness to allow the actions of individuals to disadvantage, and even endanger, others if those actions derive from religious faith.
Almost every state in the nation has legislation permitting healthcare professionals -- from physicians to nurses to pharmacists -- to deny patients legal medical treatments that they may find religiously objectionable. At the federal level, the Bush administration announced plans Thursday to implement a regulation that would deny federal funds to hospitals, health plans and other entities that do not permit their employees to opt out of participating in legal medical procedures -- including those associated with reproduction and terminal sedation -- that they oppose out of religious conviction.
This summer, a "pharmacy for life" was set to open in the suburbs of Washington. Like other similar pharmacies, it won't stock condoms, contraceptives or the so-called morning-after contraceptive Plan B, despite the fact that pharmacies are licensed by state governments giving them the exclusive right to dispense medications. In exchange for these monopoly rights, pharmacists have an ethical obligation to act in the interests of patients.
Recent studies have shown that 14% of U.S. doctors, when confronted by possibly objectionable but legal medical treatments, not only would refuse to deliver such care but also would refuse to inform their patients about it or refer them to physicians who would deliver the care. That translates to about 40 million people who would receive substandard care from these physicians, who believe that their religious convictions are more important than the well-being of their patients.
The tradition of religious freedom in the United States is one of the founding ideals of this country. But as our framers envisioned it, religious freedom referred to a right to practice one's own religion free of interference from others. It did not refer to religiously based interference with the rights of others, who may have their own and different religious traditions. Even in the relatively religiously homogeneous era of the framers, such interference was not acceptable. It is even less so in 21st century America.
With religious heterogeneity growing, the devotional demands of one group may be increasingly at odds with those of others. Yet too often, our deference to religion in contemporary American society has allowed us to subordinate all other values. It has allowed us to routinely accept religiously motivated behaviors that we otherwise would have no reluctance to sanction and that, indeed, would be impermissible with any other justification.
So it's time to say "enough." In the United States, we all are free to practice our religion as we see fit, as long as we do not interfere with the well-being of others by imposing our religious views on them. If physicians or other healthcare providers who have religious objections to legal medical treatments will not at a minimum inform their patients about those treatments and refer them to others who will deliver them, they should act in a way that is consistent with their convictions and the well-being of their patients and find other professions.
Freedom of religion is a cherished value in American society. So is the right to be free of religious domination by others. Richard P. Sloan is a professor of behavioral medicine at Columbia University Medical Center.
Friday, August 22, 2008
"We are threatened with a Communion based on fundamentalist interpretations of scripture to please the Africans, and a hierarchical system of control to please the Roman Catholics. We want neither, for neither are Anglican."
Thursday, August 21, 2008
Gosh, I hate when that happens!
"If you don't know how many houses you have, then it's not surprising that you might think the economy is fundamentally strong." -- Senator Barack Obama
... describing an All Saints Youth program that "provides a space where our youth can learn to HONOR God with their lives, CONNECT with other Christians, GROW to be more like Jesus, SHARE their faith with others, and DISCOVER their gifts so that they can SERVE God and serve others around the world."
I think that just about covers it. Where were these guys in MY youth group days when it was all pizza and volleyball all the time????
Way to go, team!
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
So here's to today ... a perfectly lovely summer day, coming to an end but still lovely.
An Act of God.
Let us rejoice and be glad in it!
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
You can read all the sad details here ... but it seems that by the time the frozen carcass started to thaw and it was discovered that one of the feet was rubber (you can't make this stuff up) the two "Bigfoot hunters" -- surprise! -- had fled the California hotel room where they had been staying.
An organization called Searching for Bigfoot, Inc. is the injured party in this sad story, and they are (and I quote) "seeking justice for themselves and for all the people who were deceived by this deception."
Shocked, I tell you. Shocked.
But wait ... here's the best part: More than 200 people attended a press conference in Palo Alto, Calif., at which Searching For Bigfoot members announced that they were in possession of a dead Sasquatch. The group, however, conceded at the time that DNA tests performed on the carcass were, at best, inconclusive.
Monday, August 18, 2008
Before the anti-marriage equality folks start cranking up their red herring machine to try to "spin" this court decision as "the thin end of the wedge" that will lead to "making clergy marry gay couples!!!" remember:
1 - On May 15, 2008, the California Supreme Court struck down discrimination re: Civil Marriage. Period.
2 - Freedom of religion quarantees that no clergy person can be compelled to act against their conscience in the exercise of their pastoral duties.
3 - There are other places where California civil law regarding marriage differs from the canon law in some traditions. For example, California has had no fault divorce since 1970 and lawyers have not been lining up to sue Roman Catholic priests who won't remarry divorced couples. Neither will they be lining up to sue those clergy whose theology precludes their presiding at the marriage of a gay or lesbian couple.
Sunday, August 17, 2008
Friday, August 15, 2008
From Episcopal Life Online:
Jefferts Schori said that on the question of moratoria affecting gay and lesbian Christians, the Episcopal Church has been living in a "season of gracious restraint for some time and I don't see there is any church-wide push to end that in the coming months. The General Convention is going to have to consider these issues. General Convention is the only body that really can decide to do anything significant related to them. Individual bishops have always made their own decisions within the canonical responsibilities of their dioceses."
From The Church Times:
...how do we reconcile Resolution 19 from 1897 with 1.10 from 1998?
“That it is important that, so far as possible, the Church should be adapted to local circumstances, and the people brought to feel in all ways that no burdens in the way of foreign customs are laid upon them, and nothing is required of them but what is of the essence of the faith, and belongs to the due order of the Catholic Church.”
The politics of the church make Rowan Williams act against his beliefs on gay marriage. We don't have to do the same.
Extensive research has proven that I am not the Archbishop of Canterbury. Neither, in all likelihood, are you. These facts, in hand for some time now, acquired new significance yesterday with the revelation that Rowan Williams, who is the Archbishop of Canterbury, believes, what a great many Anglicans believe, namely: "that an active sexual relationship between two people of the same sex might ... reflect the love of God in a way comparable to marriage, if and only if it had about it the same character of absolute covenanted faithfulness."
As archbishop, Williams might feel that the proper execution of his office requires that he puts aside his personal convictions. Juggling numerous concerns and multiple constituencies, he may have reason not to speak out boldly on behalf of one marginalised audience for fear of alienating another. Equipped with a variety of subtle ways to move the Anglican Communion toward a fuller understanding of human sexuality, he can initiate imperceptible advances on one front while publicly taking a hard line on the other. There are wheels within wheels, and he can make them all spin. He is the Archbishop of Canterbury.
But I am not. And neither are you. We can either speak our truth - which as it turns out is also his truth (and more important, we believe, His truth) and organize ourselves to reform the Churches we love, or we can sit back, beg our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters to be patient, and hope that somehow the Communion will arrive at a new consensus on homosexuality without anyone seeming to have so much as nudged it in that direction.
I can just barely imagine embracing the latter of these two strategies if I were the Archbishop of Canterbury and privy to the secrets of Lambeth Palace and the Anglican Communion office.
Were I the archbishop, though, I would have to acknowledge that the nature of my dispute with liberal Anglicans — particularly those in the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada — must now be understood in a new light. We do not differ over essential matters such as the nature of Jesus or the mechanics of salvation. We do not differ over sexual ethics, or the interpretation of Scripture. Rather, we differ over the proper response to a belief we hold in common.
What is most objectionable about Williams' recent machinations are his efforts to construct a Communion in which only one response is permissible. He has sacrificed his opportunity to act on his convictions because he believes that his office demands it. One may disagree with that choice, but one can respect it. What one cannot respect, and must not accept, are his efforts to impose a similar sacrifice on those who believe that their offices — as pastors, as friends, as Christians — demand a different conclusion.
Under Williams's leadership, an elitist view of history is acquiring the force of doctrine. One may believe that the world needs examples of gay and lesbian couples living in what he refers as "covenanted" relationships before it will readily adapt to the notion of gay marriage, but those who act on this belief face consequences. One may believe that social movements are driven from the bottom, by the men and women affected by existing discrimination, but one must behave as though such change is legitimised by ecclesial elites.
As Anglicans, we have fallen into the habit, lately, of holding lengthy meetings, from which prelates emerge with fresh pronouncements about how we are to regard people we have lived with and loved for our entire lives. We are to abide by these pronouncements or accept that whatever happens next is on our heads.
Through these meetings, Williams is gently, adroitly, yet unmistakably coercing people who wield none of his power to make his compromise with conscience their own. He is asking Churches and their members to pay a price — in lost relationships, lost vocations, lost credibility, lost integrity — that he has deemed acceptable, with the promise that it will facilitate some greater, slowly-materialising good. I might do the same thing if I were the Archbishop of Canterbury.
Thursday, August 14, 2008
And from Tuesday's "Echo Press"
Betty Lou (Bundy) Brown, 82, died July 24, 2008 at her home in Alexandria.
Betty was born August 19, 1925 in Alexandria to Anna Hesse and Worth Bundy; the second of their two children. Her mother died when Betty was only 3 years old and a few years later her father’s remarriage brought Tillie Gustafson into the Bundy family; Betty’s much-loved stepmother.
A cheerleader at Alexandria High School, Betty graduated in 1943. She traveled to Washington, D.C. and worked in an FBI office during World War II and then moved to Los Angeles, where she found work in “the movie business” as the head usherette at the Los Angeles Theatre. It was there that she met William “Bill” Comstock Brown and they married in May of 1953.
Their daughter, Susan Lynn, was born in June 1954 and son, Bill Jr., in September 1955. The Brown family was raised in Southern California, but frequent summer vacations in Alexandria kept Betty and her family in touch with friends and relations in Douglas County. An avid golfer, bowler, crossword puzzler and baseball fan, Betty was a full-time homemaker who volunteered at her church and was involved in local community projects. A lifelong Lutheran, Betty was a member of Calvary Lutheran Church.
Her husband, Bill, died in 1987 and after a number of years spending summers in Minnesota and winters in California, Betty eventually returned to Alexandria to live permanently in 2001.
Betty loved to knit and crochet and was always working on a sweater or afghan for somebody. Another favorite pastime was bingo and she enjoyed frequent casino field trips with her Bingo Buddies. She was a faithful attendee of her Class of ‘43 reunions at Alexandria High and enjoyed the blessing of many lifelong friendships.
She is survived by her daughter, Susan Russell of Pasadena, CA and her son, Bill Brown of Santa Ynez, CA; grandchildren, James and Brian Russell and Jennifer and Christine Brown; brother, Don Bundy; and sisters-in-law, Irene and Shirley Bundy.
Betty was preceded in death by her husband; and by her brother, Bill Bundy.
A funeral service was held Tuesday, August 12 at Calvary Lutheran Church in Alexandria.
Sunday, August 10, 2008
August 10, 2008 ~ All Saints Church, Pasadena
Well, I’m back from Lambeth.
Lambeth Conference 2008 – the every-ten-year gathering of Anglican bishops – is, as they say, “in the books.” (And the response to that versicle is “Thanks be to God!”) Louise and I are grateful to be back home in general and back at All Saints in specific – thankful for all your prayers and good wishes – emails and blog comments. We truly felt that we were surrounded by a cloud of All Saints witnesses during our three-week witness in Canterbury. And by the end of it, as I noted in the article I wrote from “across the pond” for this week’s Saints Alive, I was very ready to click my ruby slippers together because there really IS “no place like home.”
So what exactly happened at Lambeth? Like the old joke says, I’ve got good news … and I’ve got bad news.
Before we left for England, I told a PBS producer shooting a pre-Lambeth report here at All Saints that the headline I hoped we’d write when it was all over was “The Coup Has Failed: Anglicans Continue to Muddle Along.” And for what it’s worth, the good news is I got my headline.
For in spite of the dire predictions of a great coup d’état in the works that would vote the American and Canadian churches off the Anglican Island and might just throw the Archbishop of Canterbury out with the bathwater for good measure, the breaking news out of Canterbury was that there was no breaking news out of Canterbury.
Yes, sadly, a handful of the 38 Anglican provinces chose to boycott the Lambeth Conference, and 20% of the bishops chose to stay home rather than engage with those with whom they disagree. But for those who did show up – 670 of them, by one count – rather than an outbreak of schism they experienced an outbreak of civility. The interactions between the bishops over their two-week conference were marked by generosity and by a holy curiosity and genuine interest in learning from each other about mission and ministry in the various parts of the global communion. Building on those relationships – one-on-one, diocese by diocese, year by year – will continue to build up the bonds of affection that make up the fabric of this global communion which is our Anglican family of faith. And that is good news!
And I am both proud of and grateful for the work our Lambeth Witness of LGBT Anglicans offered toward building those relationships. Here’s how I answered the “why are you going to Lambeth” question before we left for England:
Because it is critical that the gay and lesbian faithful, who have seen their lives and vocations reduced to bargaining chips in a decade-long game of Anglican politics, speak out together and give voice to the hope and the faith their witness to the Anglican Communion represents. And so we are going to witness to the Good News of God in Christ Jesus made present in our lives, in our vocations and in our relationships.
Although it didn’t occur to me at the time I could have saved some words and just referred questioners to today’s reading from Romans: How are they to hear if no one preaches to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent?
It was in response to that sense of being called to proclaim – of being sent to witness – that our courageous, faithful, tireless corps of LGBT witnesses (and straight allies!) got to work. Our numbers included Anglicans from Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Mexico, Brazil and Uganda working with American, Canadian and UK activists – all part of an “Inclusive Communion Network: Proclaiming God’s Justice, Living God’s Love.”
And of course there was the Bishop of New Hampshire – a sitting, diocesan bishop denied participation in the official Lambeth Conference meetings – but willing to be sent, nevertheless, to proclaim the Good News of God in Christ Jesus, who – he keeps reminding us all – “loves us beyond our wildest imaginings.”
It’s leap of faith work, this stuff … because at the end of the day there are no measurable goals, no quantifiable outcomes, no …what do they call them? … “metrics” to judge our work a success or a failure. We came. We prayed. We witnessed. And we may never know if hearts were touched or minds were changed.
Except for this one … a bishop from North India who sent an email of thanks to conference organizers, who passed it on to us. It’s from Bishop P. K. Samantaroy from Punjab, India:
“Coming from a conservative back-ground I was not even prepared to listen to any person who supported the gay and lesbian people. However, [I have] changed my opinion. I have become aware of the pain and agony people have bear because of our attitude towards each other.
Further, I am convinced that despite their different and often opposite positions all are committed to live and grow within the Anglican family. The binding force in a family is love. I have decided not to be hasty in judging the gay and the lesbians. I wish to learn more about their life and problems. I have also decided to regularly pray for them. I wish to encourage the other members of the Anglican Communion to do the same.”
One bishop. One email. One inch of the planet growing greener. And that is good news.
And now the bad news.
Like Peter, who the gospel writer Matthew tells us, started walking on the water toward Jesus and only began to sink when overcome by doubt and fear, Rowan Williams – after two weeks of a miraculous “walking on water” Lambeth Conference – sank like a stone in the last two hours.
Williams had the chance last week in Canterbury to keep walking on water … to step out in faith and try something that some say is impossible: to find a way forward as a communion of faith refusing to be divided by the differences that challenge it. But by pushing his preference that the American and Canadian churches abide by the moratoria on blessings of same sex unions and the consecration of any more openly gay bishops, he undid in a two-hour span a good percentage of the good work that had been accomplished over the two-week conference.
For at the end of the day – and against all odds -- the mind of the bishops gathered was to live with the differences they had spent all that time discussing rather than let them be exploited into the divisions the schismatics have been insisting they must be. They offered a great whiff of hope to the end of the inclusion wars and a vision for the beginning of a new way of being communion together. And instead of embracing that nothing-less-than-a-miracle new way of being – instead of walking on the water toward Jesus – Williams retreated into fear and doubt and threw down a gauntlet to the Americans and Canadians – challenging them to make a “Sophie’s Choice” between the full inclusion of their provinces in the Anglican Communion or the full inclusion of their LGBT baptized in the Body of Christ.
And he should be ashamed of himself.
The sacrifice that will hold the Anglican Communion together is not the sacrifice of the gay and lesbian baptized but the sacrifice of a false unity based in dishonesty. It is nothing less than rank hypocrisy that the Archbishop of Canterbury is willing to lay at the feet of Canadian and American Anglicans the blame for divisions in the Communion when the only difference between what's happening in our churches and in his is that we're telling the truth about it.
Scripture tells us what happened to the foolish man who built his house upon the sand. It's time for the Archbishop of Canterbury to act like the wise man he is and build the future of the Anglican Communion on the solid rock of honest differences and not on the shifting sands of global Anglican politics. Jesus promised us that "the truth will set you free." The Communion deserves nothing less than the truth -- and so does the Gospel.
There is, however, some good news in this part of the bad news.
+Marc Andrus, Bishop of California immediately said his diocese would not abide by the moratorium on same-sex blessings and our own Bishop Jon Bruno quickly went on record with, “I can only say that inclusion is a reality in our diocese and will continue to be. For people who think that this is going to lead us to disenfranchise any gay or lesbian person, they are sadly mistaken.”
For at the end of the day, there is an ontological difference between feeling excluded because you're disagreed with and being excluded because of who you are. Brother and sister Anglicans walking away from the table because they've been disagreed with is a painful thing. The church walking away from the gay and lesbian baptized is a sinful thing.
There was a cartoon in THE CHURCH TIMES. It was set in an automobile show room and the banner announced a new model for 2008: the Anglican Moritoria. Beneath the picture of the car – sitting on blocks, rather than tires, the cartoon said: It’s much safer than the other models. Doesn’t go forward and doesn’t reverse; just stays where it is.
And staying were we are may be "safer" -- but it will not bring about that Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven we keep praying for -- it will not turn the human race into the human family --and it is not the Good News we have been called to proclaim.
And the good news is that next year when the Episcopal Church meets in its General Convention, we will be calling on it to say – once and for all -- that gay and lesbian Anglicans are not for sale as bargaining chips in this game of global church politics – that the sacrifice of their lives and vocations in this church is too high a price to pay for institutional unity – and that we are done having our mission and ministry held hostage to the dysfunction of our beloved Big Fat Anglican Family.
We’re ready to walk on water. We are ready to step out in faith in response to the one who says “Come” and to believe that miracles can happen. We’re ready to walk on water knowing that even if the strong winds blow and the naysayers nay we belong to the One who will catch us if we fall as we move forward in faith into God’s future.
And that, my brothers and sisters, is the good news that's better than all the bad news that's fit to print! Thanks be to God. Alleluia. Amen.
Saturday, August 09, 2008
Adding to division
The tensions within the Anglican Communion are a reflection of the global culture wars.
August 9, 2008
Bishops of the Anglican Communion, a confederation of churches with roots in the Church of England, held their once-a-decade meeting recently and managed to avert a long-predicted schism over homosexuality.
Although 200 conservative bishops boycotted the Lambeth Conference in Canterbury, England, other conservatives showed up and joined their liberal counterparts in soul-searching sessions inspired by the Zulu indaba, or tribal conference. Still, tensions were evident between liberal bishops from North America and conservative ones from the "Global South."
The archbishop of Sudan demanded the resignation of Gene Robinson, the openly gay New Hampshire bishop whose ordination in 2003 was the casus belli of the crisis. A female bishop from the United States suggested that "many of our bishops come from places where it is culturally accepted to beat your wife."
That Anglicans remain uneasily united is a victory for Rowan Williams, the archbishop of Canterbury who has been engaged in shuttle diplomacy between the two wings of the communion. Williams has been pleading with liberals in North America to refrain from ordaining gays and lesbians or blessing same-sex unions, and with conservative bishops in the Global South to stop meddling in liberal dioceses.
But, lacking the authority of the pope, Williams can't order the two sides to exercise restraint, and some in both camps are likely to defy him.
The dispute among Anglicans may seem a strictly religious argument, turning on whether biblical prohibitions of homosexuality should be interpreted literally or softened, as scriptural condemnations of divorce have been without much protest from conservatives.
But like the movement for women's equality, the campaign for recognition of the personhood of gays and lesbians is broader than the church; witness the gay rights movement that achieved its most important victory in the legalization of same-sex civil marriage in Massachusetts and California.
Sexual orientation isn't the only issue to resonate outside the Anglican fold. Societies like those from which some conservative bishops come are coping with a Western culture that seems to mock traditional notions of faith and family, a consequence of globalization. And tensions between the West and Islam underlie the complaint by African bishops that an endorsement of homosexuality by Western churches puts Christians at a disadvantage with Muslims -- and at risk of physical violence -- in areas where the two faiths compete for adherents.
You don't have to be an Anglican -- or even a Christian -- to find these conflicts familiar. In the culture wars, there is no separation of church and state.
Don't miss her brilliant analysis of Lambeth 2008:
That Wild Uncontrollable Force just posted on her blog, Desert's Child. Here's an excerpt:
It seems that the Lambeth Conference Design Team, in designing a conference that built on relationships and avoided up or down votes, has indeed pitched a wild card into the plans of Archbishop Williams.
Because the bishops of the Anglican Communion learned many things at Lambeth, and among them is the fact that when any group insists that their process must result in winners and losers, everyone loses. As one observer noted, “It is not a bad thing to live and work together without resolution - walking by faith and not by sight.”
The bishops have begun to understand that they don’t have to “fix” everything, that they can talk together about things that they disagree on, talk about difficult subjects, and still love one another.It is this, that wild uncontrollable force called Christian love, that gives me hope for the Anglican Communion.
Do read it all .. and give thanks with me for the work and witness of Katie Sherrod!
The recently-concluded Lambeth Conference provided an opportunity for bishops from around the Anglican communion to discover the deeper realities of the contexts in which each seeks to spread the gospel.
A bishop's spouse from Africa reported the church's difficulty in supporting widows who are pressured to marry the dead husband's brother (even if already married), or else forfeit their children and property.
Bishops from Madagascar told of cyclones that destroy their people's homes and crops, often several times a year, and how they seek to build strong church buildings that can be havens from the storms as well as seats of learning. Western bishops spoke of the church's pastoral role in seeking to provide sacred support for same-sex couples living in monogamous, life-long relationships.
Bishops from Africa and Asia told of the difficulty of evangelism in majority Muslim societies. Sudanese bishops sought partnerships as they seek to resettle returning refugees and rebuild a devastated church structure. A Tanzanian bishop lamented the difficulty of biblical study without libraries or access to the scholarly tools Westerners take for granted. Japanese bishops spoke of the church's inability to address social change when Christianity is such a small part of society. And bishops from countless places spoke of their gratitude for the support of others as they struggle with natural disasters, corruption, war, disease, hunger, climate change and counterproductive social pressures.
Given divergences that look interplanetary in degree and scale, what does this diverse body have in common? Certainly a recognisably common framework of worship, descended from the Church of England. A reliance on sacred scripture, in common with tradition and reason, also characteristic of roots in British Christianity. And a passion for caring for their flocks – the hungry, the sick, the aged and infirm, widows and orphans, and the forgotten, as well as those who know no good news.
But the forms and structures of the various provinces of the Anglican communion have diverged significantly, in ways that challenge those ancient ties to England and the Archbishop of Canterbury. Those provinces are the result of evangelism tied to colonial structures, whether of Britain or her former colonies, and that colonial history has still to be unpacked and assessed. The present attempts to manage conflict in the communion through a renewed focus on structural ties to old or new authorities have generated significant resistance, both from provinces who largely absented themselves from Lambeth and from dissenting voices among the attending bishops.
The Anglican communion's present reality reflects a struggle to grow into a new level of maturity, like that of adult siblings in a much-conflicted family. As we continue to wrestle, sufficient space and respect for the differing gifts of the siblings just might lead to greater maturity in relationship. This will require greater self-definition as well as decreased reactivity. Jesus' own example in relationships with his opponents and with his disciples will be instructive.
Friday, August 08, 2008
by Jim Naughton
As a former journalist, I was struck first by the difference in the ways that American and British journalists attribute (or don’t attribute) the information in their stories. The British press is freer in its use of anonymous sources than its American counterpart. One is constantly reading that a paper “has learnt” something. Well, how, exactly?
Perhaps this wink-and-nod approach makes a certain sense in the cosy world of the Anglican Communion, but it’s open to abuse. A friend of mine recently found her fondest hopes transformed into the hidden agenda of the Episcopal Church by a reporter who assumed that my friend had much more influence that she has.
Thursday, August 07, 2008
The sacrifice that will hold the Anglican Communion together is not the sacrifice of the gay and lesbian baptized but the sacrifice of a false unity based in dishonesty. That +Rowan Williams' theology is identical to that held by Canadian and American Anglican churches currently blessing same sex unions is not news. What should be news is the rank hypocrisy of Williams' willingness to lay at the feet of Canadian and American Anglicans the blame for divisions in the Communion when the only difference between what's happening in our churches and in his is that we're telling the truth about it.
Scripture tells us what happened to the foolish man who built his house upon the sand. It's time for the Archbishop of Canterbury to act like the wise man he is and build the future of the Anglican Communion on the solid rock of honest differences reflected in the Lambeth Indaba Report and not on the shifting sands of global Anglican politics. Jesus promised us that "the truth will set you free." The Communion deserves nothing less than the truth -- and so does the Gospel.