Saturday, January 31, 2009

Required Watching!

Thanks to Episcopal Cafe for the "heads up" on this Father Matthew YouTube ... which IMHO should be required watching from everyone from the senior staff at 815 to my parish Incorporation & Growth team and ANYONE else interested in growing the gospel and the church.

Here's how the 2:42 piece is described on the YouTube blurb:

A quick piece that was made for the "A Brand New Way" Conference for Young Adults in the Episcopal Church held in Houston, TX in the Summer of 2008. This was made because I couldn't make it to the conference like I really wanted to. Matthew Moretz is an Episcopal priest at Christ's Church in Rye, New York. He likes evangelism, just not the type most people are familiar with.


Friday, January 30, 2009

Check it Out: Mel & Mike White are going to be a team on "The Amazing Race"

So I was sitting here fiddling away on Facebook on a nice quiet Friday evening and the TV show I wasn't really watching ran a commercial for the new season of "The Amazing Race" -- and darned if there wasn't Mel White and his son Mike as one of the teams!

Check out the CBS website here ... and here's a shout out to Mel & Gary -- the first same-sex couple we married at All Saints during those brief, shining months of marriage equality here in California.

Go, Team White!

Creating Change in Colorado

From my colleague, Jan Adams, attending the "Creating Change" conference in Denver this week:

The Rev. Deborah Johnson of Inner Light Ministries knows how to preach it. She's convinced we're coming into a new time and we must not try to put new wine into old wineskins. So she brought some admonitions.

"There are no gay issues -- there are simply justice issues."

"If we are gay by nature, it is by God's design and it is good."

"I did not join this movement to get heterosexual privilege!"

On the last point, she urged us to remember that we face discrimination because we don't conform to "the rules" of gender and we should not be hoping to become insiders--we need to understand ourselves as being about destroying gender-based privilege, along with other forms of power over each other. She concluded:

"The world, the planet, is waiting for America to come to grips with its privilege!"

Here's a video clip from the conference-in-progress:

Thursday, January 29, 2009

A New Bishop on deck for the EPISCOPAL DIocese of Fort Worth

Breaking News via press release (thanks, Episcopal Cafe!) from the Diocese of Fort Worth:

The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori has recommended the Rt. Rev. Edwin F. "Ted" Gulick Jr., bishop of Kentucky, to be the provisional bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth. If elected by the special meeting of the convention of the diocese, Bp. Gulick will be installed during the meeting. Bishop Gulick will serve part time as he continues to serve as bishop of Diocese of Kentucky.


The special convention is scheduled for Saturday, February 7th. Do keep the Episcopalians of Fort Worth in your prayers as they take this BIG next step forward in mission and ministry in their corner of the kingdom!


Come out, Come out, Wherever you are!

Judge denies request to keep Proposition 8 donors secret
[The Sacramento Bee]

A federal judge today denied an attempt by Proposition 8 supporters to withhold disclosure of late campaign donors to the state's same-sex marriage ban.

California's Political Reform Act, approved by voters in 1974, requires disclosure of the name, occupation and employer of anyone contributing $100 or more to campaigns. The suit challenges the constitutionality of the disclosure requirement, claiming donors to Proposition 8 have been ravaged by e-mails, phone calls and postcards -- even death threats.

Yes on 8 campaign officials said hundreds of people have alleged harassment, intimidation or threats. Attorneys for Proposition 8 assert that First Amendment rights to be free from retaliation outweigh the state's interest in disclosure.

But U.S. District Judge Morrison C. England Jr. disagreed.

"The court finds that the state is not facilitating retaliation by compelling disclosure," he said.


Among the comments on the online article was this keeper:

Funny how it's the Yes on 8 side that's afraid to be known. Don't hear that from the No on 8 side, do we? Why? Because bigots hide in the dark ...


Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Bumped by a U-Haul

So the Breaking News on Jane Velez-Mitchell's Headline News show today turned out NOT to be what a "panel of experts" thought about Ted Haggard's fall from grace -- it was an obviously-high-on-something blond-in-a-tank-top who stole a U-Haul and led police on a high speed chase across most of Southern California this afternoon.

(As I said to the nice CNN man in the suit who walked me out to the car waiting to bring me back my office, "If this is the Big News that must mean we've fixed Iraq and the economy, right?" He said, "I don't think so, Ma'am.")

ANYWAY ... if you bothered to watch you know we each got about four words in. (If you DIDN'T bother you didn't miss anything!)

Just for the record, though, since I had them all ready, here are some of the pithy comments I had HOPED to make in response to Jane Velez-Mitchell's question, "So what do we make of the Ted Haggard mess?"

I had hoped to say that this whole tragic story is yet another illustration of what happens when someone thinks they have to be or become someone they're not in order to be accepted, to be loved, to be whole.

I wanted to say that I agreed with the psychologist who said Haggard's story sounds like a classically bi-sexual man and that rather than beating himself up for being erotically wired to respond to both men and women, he should work on staying faithful to his wife and not beating himself up for being who he is.

I also wanted to say (and at least had a chance to START to say) that the other minister on the panel (whose name eludes me at the moment) who went to such pains to declare that being homosexual was "no worse a sin than being an adulterer" was Exhibit A of the presenting problem in Ted Haggard's life -- and that problem wasn't his sexual orientation but his theological orientation.

It was buying the lie that "the church" has for too long told LGBT people -- the lie that they needed to live a lie in order to be loved by God -- the lie that Ed Bacon debunked on Oprah a couple of weeks ago when he said "Being gay is a gift from God" -- the lie that it is time for us to put behind us and get on with building up a kingdom that includes ALL God's beloved children equally at the table.

(And this was my favorite:)

President Obama says the time has come for post-partisan politics in this country -- and I say the time has come for post-homophobic religion in this country.

Let's end the collateral damage to those like Ted Haggard who grow up thinking they have to choose between who they are and how they love and whether or not they can love & serve God.

Let's give young LGBT folks OUT role models so no matter what their sexual orientation ends up being, there is someone they can look to and say, "I want to grow up like him/her."

Let's model that it is no longer acceptable to preach family values and devalue gay and lesbian families.

(Even WITHOUT the U-Haul I wouldn't have gotten all that in during a Headline News segment ... but I'll be ready for 'em next time!)

More Coming Attractions:

I'm scheduled to be on the CNN Headline News show "Issues with Jane Velez-Mitchell" this evening talking about the church and hypocrisy regarding LGBT issues in general and Ted Haggard in particular.

Tune in if you have a few minutes ... supposed to be 7:40 eastern/4:40 pacific.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Coming Attractions

Equality Forum is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to advance national and international gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) civil rights through education.

Their annual Forum event is April 27 - May 3 this year and I've been honored to be asked to preach at Christ Church, Philadelphia at the Interfaith service on Sunday afternoon, May 3rd.

Check out the program ... looks like there's something for just about everybody! ... and think about putting a trip to Philadelphia on your "to do" list for 2009!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Just Another ...

I'm not sure it if was the accumulation of all the things that were on the "to do after New Year's" list that got pushed back to "after the Inauguration" -- or because last week was a short week with MLK Day off on Monday and then All Inauguration All Day on Tuesday -- or if it's the collateral damage of sacrificing two Saturdays in a row on the altar of Post-Prop 8 Politics ...

Whatever it is, Monday was particular manic in my little corner of the kingdom and I'm hoping Manic Monday leads to Tranquil Tuesday. (Note that "hoping" is not the same as "counting on!" :)

But at the end of this long, Manic Monday, the thing I'm still thinking about is an experience this morning on the drive into work:

So I'm driving down Fair Oaks this morning, having treated myself to a Starbucks to reward myself for heading into the office when I know most of my colleagues are still in bed on a Monday. (They may do the same thing on Friday when I'm the one sleeping in -- if so, I say party on!)

Anyway, I'm at the light behind an SUV that still has a "W/04" sticker in the back window ... opposite a "McCain/Palin" sticker in the other corner. And then I notice the license plate frame. It says:

You Suck ...
And that's sad.

Honest. That's what the owner/driver of this late model, not-inexpensive, SUV chose to go out and purchase ... then dig through the junk drawer in the garage or kitchen and find a screwdriver to mount around the license plate on their car ... in order to display this profound message to the world at large:

You Suck ...
And that's sad.

That's the message they want you to know about them when you don't know anything else about them. (Well, I guess we know their voting record, but you get my point.)

What's it like, I wondered, to have that worldview that "You" (and I'm taking that as a generic "ya'll" not a specific "you Susan") "Suck."

What does it say about how you make choices about what matters and what doesn't.

About what we pay for with our taxes and what we don't. About who's entitled to equal protection -- or equal rights -- and who isn't.

Maybe I'm making too much of a license plate cover glimpsed at a stoplight at the beginning of a Manic Monday. Or maybe not. Maybe it was a glimpse into why this work we do -- this striving to turn the human race into the human family stuff -- this preaching respect for the dignity of every human being stuff -- this trying to love your neighbor as yourself stuff -- is worth the long hours, the manic Mondays, the sacrificed Saturdays and the two steps forward, one step back that characterizes that journey along the arc history that bends toward inclusion.

Maybe it's an explanation of the over 400 emails we've gotten in response to seven simple words spoken by Ed Bacon on national TV: "Being gay is a gift from God."

Maybe we do have the antidote to the poison that tells people THEY Suck ... which leads them to project that self-loathing and leaks out into our common life with not just license plate frames but with words and actions and policies and politics that tell people -- fellow human beings -- members of the same human family -- equally fearfully and wonderfully made by the One who loved us enough to become one of us to show us how to love one another -- that they "suck."

And that, my brothers and sisters, is what's sad.

So I'm grateful -- at the end of this Manic Monday -- for conference calls and spread sheets; calendar meetings and scheduling charts; huddles about Lent and emails about Oprah; for Noonday Eucharist and afternoon coffee; annual report drafts and video shoot schedules. I'm even grateful for the large pile of "things left undone" on my desk.

Because tomorrow is another day. And maybe -- just maybe -- we'll get the chance to let one single solitary person know they do NOT Suck by making God's love tangible -- in a hug, an email, a blog post, a staff meeting or maybe even in Starbucks.

Reclaiming the planet, an inch at a time, until the Garden of Eden grows green again. Tomorrow.
(Good Night, Moon!)

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Sean Penn: Male Actor in a Leading Role

Amen, Screen Actors Guild!!

Dear Mr. President,

It was just another Sunday in paradise ... here's a shot of the crowd on the lawn after the 11:15 service at one of those declining liberal mainline churches ... AKA All Saints Church, Pasadena.

Every Sunday we're given a chance to "put our faith into action" and this morning the "action" was one my mother would TOTALLY have approved of: writing thank you notes! (Or, more accurately, signing and personalizing thank you letters to President Obama for the actions he's taken in these first days of his historic presidency.

As you can see ... it was bumper-crop-business at the action tables ...

... and not everybody even waited for a table to get their letter done!

The result was over 1200 signed letters -- which will be wending their way to Washington next week.

Here's the text from our letter ... in case you're inspired to "go and do likewise."
January 25, 2009
Dear President Obama,

Thank you for your courageous, principled and inspiring leadership in the initial days of your presidency.

The actions of your first week have immediately increased my hope for peace and justice and are inspiring a new generation of Americans to be people with an inner moral sense -- to be people of conscience. Your work has inspired me to respond by recommitting my my own energies and resources toward the good of all. Thank you for inviting each of us into the work of restoring our country's moral leadership in the world, calling us to confront the moral issues of our day, which includes respecting the dignity for everyone in our human family.

Your appointment of Senator George Mitchell as special envoy for Middle East Peace brings the United States to a new level of commitment to peacemaking in an area of the world so oppressed by an increasing cycle of violence, which will never solve anything. Appointing a dedicated and experienced peacemaker who commands global respect restores our integrity in the international community, demonstrating that we recognize that Unites States' involvement is indispensable in achieving the goal of establishing a lasing peace between Israelis and Palestinians.

As a person of faith, I am deeply grateful to you for bringing an end to our country's morally grotesque and counter productive practices of torture. What a moving and healing us of your moral authority! I feel the same about your lifting the the shame of Guantanamo from our country's future reputation in the world. Your Executive Order banning torture and closing Guantanamo move the heart, stir the conscience and take enormous strides forward in our collective responsibility to ensure dignity and justice to every member of the human family. You have my passionate commitment to stand with all your efforts to prevent human rights violations both at home and abroad and to restore human rights standards everywhere.

With great respect and appreciation,

[Your Name Here!]

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Dear World ...

It was a REALLY long day at work in fields of the Lord ... AKA attending the Equality Summit at the L.A. Convention Center. I've got notes and pictures and thoughts to share but that will happen tomorrow. Right now it's Chinese take out and an early bedtime for me ... but first this quick post I can't resist sharing that came from an L.A. colleague via I-can't-remember-where.

Dear World,

We, the United States of America, your top quality supplier of the ideals of liberty and democracy, would like to apologize for our 2001-2008 interruption in service.
The technical fault that led to this eight-year service outage has been located, and the software responsible was replaced November 4.
Early tests of the newly installed program indicate that we are now operating correctly, and we expect it to be fully functional on January 20, 2009. We apologize for any inconvenience caused by the outage. We look forward to resuming full service and hope to improve in years to come. We thank you for your patience and understanding.

Here's where we'll be today ... "fllm at eleven."

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Another picture worth 1000 words ...

Just posted to Bishop Robinson's blog ...

more photos from Inauguration Day!

[photo credit: Mark Andrew]

Pictured here with now-Mr. President Obama
is the lovely Ella Robinson
and her fabulous father, Bishop V. Gene Robinson.


Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Sermon from this morning's National Prayer Service

Harmonies of Liberty
Isaiah 58:6‐12, Mt 22:6‐40
Rev. Dr. Sharon E. Watkins
[photo: Donovan Marks]
National Prayer Service; January 21, 2009
Mr. President and Mrs. Obama, Mr. Vice President and Dr. Biden, and your families, what an inaugural celebration you have hosted! Train ride, opening concert, service to neighbor, dancing till dawn . . .

And yesterday . . . With your inauguration, Mr. President, the flame of America’s promise burns just a little brighter for every child of this land!

There is still a lot of work to do, and today the nation turns its full attention to that work. As we do, it is good that we pause to take a deep spiritual breath. It is good that we center for a moment.

What you are entering now, Mr. President and Mr. Vice President, will tend to draw you away from your ethical center. But we, the nation that you serve, need you to hold the ground of your deepest values, of our deepest values.

Beyond this moment of high hopes, we need you to stay focused on our shared hopes, so that we can continue to hope, too. We will follow your lead.

read the rest here ... (REALLY worth it ... trust me ... she was GREAT!)

94 - 2: IT'S OFFICIAL!

Say hello to Madame Secretary of State!

We're not in Kansas anymore, Toto!

So I got this information from several sources (thanks all!) yesterday but this is the first moment I've had to [a] check it out myself much less [b] get it up on this blog ... and I'm doing that over a teriyaki chicken bowl at my desk during what passes for a late-lunch hour!
ANYWAY, check it out -- here's the link to the Civil Rights Agenda page on the White House website. (The info, I am told, was updated shortly after noon yesterday!)
Too busy to "click here?" Then just read this part:
"While we have come a long way since the Stonewall riots in 1969, we still have a lot of work to do. Too often, the issue of LGBT rights is exploited by those seeking to divide us. But at its core, this issue is about who we are as Americans. It's about whether this nation is going to live up to its founding promise of equality by treating all its citizens with dignity and respect."
-- Barack Obama, June 1, 2007

Expand Hate Crimes Statutes: In 2004, crimes against LGBT Americans constituted the third-highest category of hate crime reported and made up more than 15 percent of such crimes. President Obama cosponsored legislation that would expand federal jurisdiction to include violent hate crimes perpetrated because of race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, or physical disability. As a state senator, President Obama passed tough legislation that made hate crimes and conspiracy to commit them against the law.

Fight Workplace Discrimination: President Obama supports the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, and believes that our anti-discrimination employment laws should be expanded to include sexual orientation and gender identity. While an increasing number of employers have extended benefits to their employees' domestic partners, discrimination based on sexual orientation in the workplace occurs with no federal legal remedy. The President also sponsored legislation in the Illinois State Senate that would ban employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

Support Full Civil Unions and Federal Rights for LGBT Couples: President Obama supports full civil unions that give same-sex couples legal rights and privileges equal to those of married couples. Obama also believes we need to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act and enact legislation that would ensure that the 1,100+ federal legal rights and benefits currently provided on the basis of marital status are extended to same-sex couples in civil unions and other legally-recognized unions. These rights and benefits include the right to assist a loved one in times of emergency, the right to equal health insurance and other employment benefits, and property rights.

Oppose a Constitutional Ban on Same-Sex Marriage: President Obama voted against the Federal Marriage Amendment in 2006 which would have defined marriage as between a man and a woman and prevented judicial extension of marriage-like rights to same-sex or other unmarried couples.

Repeal Don't Ask-Don't Tell: President Obama agrees with former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff John Shalikashvili and other military experts that we need to repeal the "don't ask, don't tell" policy. The key test for military service should be patriotism, a sense of duty, and a willingness to serve. Discrimination should be prohibited. The U.S. government has spent millions of dollars replacing troops kicked out of the military because of their sexual orientation. Additionally, more than 300 language experts have been fired under this policy, including more than 50 who are fluent in Arabic. The President will work with military leaders to repeal the current policy and ensure it helps accomplish our national defense goals.

Expand Adoption Rights: President Obama believes that we must ensure adoption rights for all couples and individuals, regardless of their sexual orientation. He thinks that a child will benefit from a healthy and loving home, whether the parents are gay or not.

Promote AIDS Prevention: In the first year of his presidency, President Obama will develop and begin to implement a comprehensive national HIV/AIDS strategy that includes all federal agencies. The strategy will be designed to reduce HIV infections, increase access to care and reduce HIV-related health disparities. The President will support common sense approaches including age-appropriate sex education that includes information about contraception, combating infection within our prison population through education and contraception, and distributing contraceptives through our public health system. The President also supports lifting the federal ban on needle exchange, which could dramatically reduce rates of infection among drug users. President Obama has also been willing to confront the stigma -- too often tied to homophobia -- that continues to surround HIV/AIDS.

Empower Women to Prevent HIV/AIDS: In the United States, the percentage of women diagnosed with AIDS has quadrupled over the last 20 years. Today, women account for more than one quarter of all new HIV/AIDS diagnoses. President Obama introduced the Microbicide Development Act, which will accelerate the development of products that empower women in the battle against AIDS. Microbicides are a class of products currently under development that women apply topically to prevent transmission of HIV and other infections.


Are we going to agree with the new president about everything? My kids have the answer to that ... "Duh!" But can we just take a minute to let it sink in what a difference 24 hours makes ... from a White House that PUSHED the Federal Marriage Amendment to a White House that opposes one? Supports Hate Crimes legislation, opposes "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and supports an inclusive Employment Discrimination Act?

We're TOTALLY not in Kansas anymore, Toto.

And the response to that versicle, boys and girls is: THANKS BE TO GOD!

(And now, back to my regularly scheduled Wednesday afternoon workload!)

The role of religion under Obama

A report from the Christian Science Monitor

[Washington] - After decades of ceding God to the GOP, at least in the public square, Democrats – with President Obama in the lead – are speaking with a fuller religious voice. The watchword? Inclusiveness.

It's a voice that signals openness at a time when diversity in American religious life is rising.

"We know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus – and nonbelievers," Mr. Obama said in Tuesday's inaugural address.

Wednesday's National Prayer Service, a tradition since George Washington's inauguration, featured faith leaders chosen "to symbolize America's traditions of religious tolerance and freedom," said the 2009 Presidential Inaugural Committee. It included, for the first time, a sermon delivered by a woman.

For Obama, the broad outreach into the faith community isn't confined to ceremonies but is emerging as a key element in his approach to coalition-building, say religious leaders who worked on the transition.

"Barack Obama is himself a person of faith, but he also believes that the faith community has a real role to play in creating the kind of social change we need now," says the Rev. Jim Wallis, president of Sojourners, a network of Christian social activists.

Indeed, religious groups have been broadly advising the Obama transition team on issues ranging from poverty to criminal justice to foreign policy. "To move from a consuming, polluting, poverty-creating economy to one that conserves, is a good steward of the environment, and focuses on bringing people out of poverty, that's more than a structural crisis, it's a spiritual one," says Mr. Wallis.

Obama's predisposition to stake a big tent that includes a broad range of faith traditions has been evident early.

Who leads the prayers at presidential inaugurations is usually about as controversial as whether to put an American flag near the podium. Preachers such as the late Billy Graham typically struck a broad, ecumenical tone acceptable to a wide range of religious adherents.

Not so this inaugural cycle. Obama's choice of the Rev. Rick Warren – a popular Evangelical who has campaigned against gay marriage – to deliver the inaugural invocation riled many liberals. Obama's subsequent invitation to V. Gene Robinson, the first openly gay Episcopal bishop, fired up the other end of the religious spectrum.

"Bless this nation with anger: anger at discrimination at home and abroad, against refugees and immigrants, women, people of color, gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people," said the Right Rev. Robinson at Sunday's opening of inaugural ceremonies.

Obama's choice of two spiritual leaders with such distinct and controversial views signals that differences are not to be avoided but are an essential part of the conversation.

"Rick Warren and Gene Robinson are symbols and represent large constituencies – and were in that sense daring choices," says Charles Haynes, a scholar at the First Amendment Center in Washington. "But I think the mood of the country is to say: This is what we want. People want to see the president trying to represent the country as a whole. If there ever was a moment when we have to have a cease-fire in the cultural wars, it's now. Given the nature of the problem the country faces, we cannot afford to demonize each other, to tear each other down."

Many presidents have tried to build coalitions, including those involving religious leaders, but Obama is working from an exceptionally inclusive template.

"President Obama, like most presidents, is a coalition-builder, but this president sees a broader end product," says John Green, senior fellow at the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. "Obama seems to have a more inclusive view of religion than some people on the right and some people on the left.

"This is a very productive place to be but a very difficult place to be in a pluralistic society," he continues. "It is often difficult to recognize the authentic spirituality of different faiths without bringing them into conflict with each other."

At the same time, boosting religion's prominence in Democratic Party politics could deepen rifts within the party establishment.

"In religion, as in politics, he's trying to include a lot of people, and a lot of people will be upset," says Stephen Prothero, a religion professor at Boston University. "The movements for civil rights, for abolition and temperance, were movements that had religious people behind them, who were there for religious reasons. It makes sense, especially for someone like Obama for whom ideas matter so much. But there's a possibility that Democrats are going to end up being more religious than Republicans."

That prospect alarms activists who work to preserve separation of church and state.

"It remains to be seen what Barack Obama will do with the moral or ethical advice he is getting from religious leaders," says the Rev. Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United, in Washington. "It would be odd if he were not meeting with people of faith, but he has to temper his religious views with the demands of the Constitution."

These days, at least in America, religious leaders are not the political leaders. But at the National Prayer Service here on Wednesday, Sharon Watkins, general minister and president, Disciples of Christ, noted scriptural advice to kings and leaders of yore:

"We need [the leaders of this nation] to be guided by the counsel that Isaiah gave so long ago: to work for the common good, the public happiness, the well-being of the nation and the world, knowing that our individual well-being depends on a world where liberty and justice prevailed. This is the biblical way. It is also the American way."

Good Morning, America!

Good Morning America ... and welcome to The First Day of the Rest of Our Life as a nation dedicated to the proposition that ALL are created equal!

So +Gene Robinson was Jon Stewart's guest last night on The Daily Show. (Incidentially the only news show my son said he and his colleagues watched when they were deployed in Iraq because all the rest was "BS.") Quick-on-his-feet as always, our Bishop of New Hampshire may just have given a whole generation a new way to think about the game of chess! :)

Also, you'll want to check out +Gene blogs about his Inauguration Day experiences here ... as well as his reflections on Sunday's concert here.

Thanks to Episcopal Cafe for the link to this video -- and stay tuned for more on this morning's Nat'l Prayer service ... still in progress as I write ... where Sharon Watkins preached a TOTALLY fabulous sermon that deserves a much wider audience than whoever is still at home on a Wednesday morning watching CNN!

What a GREAT beginning to this First Day of the Rest of Our Lives in the U.S. A.!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Yes We DID!!!

Here's what history looked like through the lens of the AP photographer ...

And here's what it looked like this morning at All Saints Church in Pasadena!

The cheering crowd numbered in the hundreds ... folks from the parish and the community-at-large who made their way to the All Saints Forum ...

... signed in, found some bagels, pan dulce & coffee and found a seat in the crowd ...
. ... that settled in to watch on the "big screen" a moment in some ways too-big-for words!
For this little, it was chance to get pictures in the baby book that said "you were THERE sweetie!" when he's old enough to understand what happened on January 20, 2009.
For others, it was a chance to put finally away the Countdown Clock and look forward to a New Tomorrow!

Much more to say, to ponder, to celebrate ... but for the MOMENT it's "back to work we go" as the regular business of a busy parish Tuesday takes back over my calendar.


Monday, January 19, 2009

Integrity Statement on Bishop Robinson's Inaugural Invocation

Integrity celebrates Bishop Gene Robinson’s historic presence in the Inaugural celebrations for our nation’s 44th President as a giant step forward taken for LGBT equality.

“There are miles to go before we rest in this journey toward being truly a nation of liberty and justice for ‘all,’” said Integrity President Susan Russell, “but when Bishop Gene Robinson took his place at the podium at the Lincoln Memorial yesterday we all moved closer toward realizing that goal. In addition to offering the invocation at Sunday’s Inaugural Concert, we are thrilled that Bishop Robinson will be among the invited guests at the prayer service on the Tuesday morning, will attend the swearing in ceremony, will view the Inaugural Parade from the Presidential viewing stand, and will attend the National Prayer Service at National Cathedral on Wednesday.

“Any disappointment that Bishop Robinson’s powerful opening prayer was not part of the HBO broadcast pales in comparison to the power of his iconic presence at the Lincoln Memorial on this historic occasion. Bishop Robinson’s invocation included prayers for patience, safety and compassion – and to 'Bless us with anger – at discrimination, at home and abroad, against refugees and immigrants, women, people of color, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.' It will echo through the ages as words of hope, vision and promise."

“We look forward to both the opportunities and challenges ahead as we enter a new era of partnership in our common commitment to overcome bias, bigotry and discrimination for all Americans.”

UPDATE: Obama staff takes heat for not airing bishop's prayer

President-elect Barack Obama's inaugural committee took the blame yesterday for Bishop V. Gene Robinson's invocation at the Sunday welcoming concert not being televised nationally, Politico reported.

Thousands of attendees heard the opening prayer given by Robinson, the openly gay New Hampshire Episcopal bishop, but viewers on HBO's telecast missed it. The inaugural committee said the telecast, including Robinson's invocation, will be shown on the big TV screens along the National Mall today.

"We had always intended and planned for Right Rev. Robinson's invocation to be included in the televised portion of yesterday's program. We regret the error in executing this plan - but are gratified that hundreds of thousands of people who gathered on the mall heard his eloquent prayer for our nation that was a fitting start to our event," inaugural committee spokesman Josh Earnest told Politico.

Initial Inaugural Invocation on YouTube

Thanks to Christianity Today's Sarah Pulliam:

A picture worth a thousand words:

Sunday, January 18, 2009

A Prayer for the Nation ...

Photos from USA Today:
(by Kevin Lamarque/Reuters):

As reported in The Boston Globe
(Photos by Kevin Lamarque/Reuters):

In the invocation offered by Bishop V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire at today's inaugural welcoming ceremony, the openly gay bishop called on God to "bless us with anger – at discrimination, at home and abroad, against refugees and immigrants, women, people of color, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people." Robinson was tapped to give the invocation today after an uproar over President-elect Barack Obama's invitation to evangelical pastor Rick Warren, an opponent of same-sex marriage, to give the invocation during the inauguration Tuesday.

Here is the full text of the prayer, from Robinson's diocesan web site:

"A Prayer for the Nation and Our Next President, Barack Obama"
By The Rt. Rev. V. Gene Robinson, Episcopal Bishop of New Hampshire

Welcome to Washington! The fun is about to begin, but first, please join me in pausing for a moment, to ask God’s blessing upon our nation and our next president.

O God of our many understandings, we pray that you will…

Bless us with tears – for a world in which over a billion people exist on less than a dollar a day, where young women from many lands are beaten and raped for wanting an education, and thousands die daily from malnutrition, malaria, and AIDS.

Bless us with anger – at discrimination, at home and abroad, against refugees and immigrants, women, people of color, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.

Bless us with discomfort – at the easy, simplistic “answers” we’ve preferred to hear from our politicians, instead of the truth, about ourselves and the world, which we need to face if we are going to rise to the challenges of the future.

Bless us with patience – and the knowledge that none of what ails us will be “fixed” anytime soon, and the understanding that our new president is a human being, not a messiah.

Bless us with humility – open to understanding that our own needs must always be balanced with those of the world.

Bless us with freedom from mere tolerance – replacing it with a genuine respect and warm embrace of our differences, and an understanding that in our diversity, we are stronger.

Bless us with compassion and generosity – remembering that every religion’s God judges us by the way we care for the most vulnerable in the human community, whether across town or across the world.

And God, we give you thanks for your child Barack, as he assumes the office of President of the United States.

Give him wisdom beyond his years, and inspire him with Lincoln’s reconciling leadership style, President Kennedy’s ability to enlist our best efforts, and Dr. King’s dream of a nation for ALL the people.

Give him a quiet heart, for our Ship of State needs a steady, calm captain in these times.

Give him stirring words, for we will need to be inspired and motivated to make the personal and common sacrifices necessary to facing the challenges ahead.

Make him color-blind, reminding him of his own words that under his leadership, there will be neither red nor blue states, but the United States.

Help him remember his own oppression as a minority, drawing on that experience of discrimination, that he might seek to change the lives of those who are still its victims.

Give him the strength to find family time and privacy, and help him remember that even though he is president, a father only gets one shot at his daughters’ childhoods.

And please, God, keep him safe. We know we ask too much of our presidents, and we’re asking FAR too much of this one. We know the risk he and his wife are taking for all of us, and we implore you, O good and great God, to keep him safe. Hold him in the palm of your hand – that he might do the work we have called him to do, that he might find joy in this impossible calling, and that in the end, he might lead us as a nation to a place of integrity, prosperity and peace.

And ...
The Associated Press -- The event began with a convocation by the Right Rev. Gene Robinson, who asked the crowd to pray for "understanding that our president is a human being and not a messiah."
Detroit Free Press -- “God, we give you thanks for your child Barack,” the Rev. V. Gene Robinson, the Episcopal bishop of New Hampshire, said during the event invocation. “Give him wisdom beyond his years. Give him strength to find family time and privacy ... Please, God, keep him safe. We know we ask too much of our presidents, and we know we are asking far too much of him."
Robinson’s prayers seemed to touch the sentiments of many of the tens of thousands who began gathering at dawn to see Obama and star-studded concert called We are One: The Obama Inaugural Celebration at the Lincoln Memorial.
Houston Chronicle-- In the end, the Obamas celebrated familial normalcy on the grandest of stages, reveling in the bond that Rev. V. Gene Robinson sought for them during his invocation at the start of the show. “Help (President-elect Obama) remember that even though he is president,” Robinson prayed, “a father only gets one shot at his daughter’s childhood.”
USA Today -- Robinson asked God to give Obama wisdom, a "quiet heart" and "stirring words" to inspire the nation in a time of challenge and sacrifice. He concluded by imploring a "good and great God" to keep Obama safe to do his work and "find joy in this impossible calling..." Did you pray along? To whom? Share your prayer here.

MLK Sunday @ All Saints Church

We must all learn to live together as brothers or we will all perish together as fools. We are tied together in the single garment of destiny, caught in an inescapable network of mutuality.

We celebrated Martin Luther King Sunday at All Saints Church with great music, powerful preaching and words from King's last Sunday sermon ... preached March 31, 1968 at the National Cathedral.

Minister: We hold these truths to be self evident.
People: .....that all people are created equal.

Minister: Let justice roll down like waters,
People: .....and righteousness like an every-flowing stream.

Almighty God, by the hand of Moses your servant you led your people out of slavery, and made them free at last. Grant that your Church, following the example of your prophet Martin Luther King, may resist oppression in the name of your love, and may secure for all your children the blessed liberty of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

A READING FROM "Remaining Awake Through a Great Revolution," A SERMON PREACHED BY DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR.

Through our scientific and technological genius, we have made of this world a neighborhood and yet we have not had the ethical commitment to make of it a brotherhood. But somehow, and in some way, we have got to do this. We must all learn to live together as brothers or we will all perish together as fools. We are tied together in the single garment of destiny, caught in an inescapable network of mutuality. And whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly. For some strange reason I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. And you can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be. This is the way God’s universe is made; this is the way it is structured.

John Donne caught it years ago and placed it in graphic terms: "No man is an island entire of itself. Every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main." And he goes on toward the end to say, "Any man’s death diminishes me because I am involved in mankind; therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee." We must see this, believe this, and live by it if we are to remain awake through a great revolution.

And then the sermon:

Living Together as Siblings
or Perishing Together as Fools

You can see it here.
(And now, back to CNN! :)

Saturday, January 17, 2009

News from the Inaugural Front

I'm sitting here watching the news reports of the "Obama Express" heading to Washington DC. As I just shared with a colleague: getting weepy over two guys on a train platform doesn't bode well for my Kleenex conservation over the next 72 hours!

And I'm not the only one. Millions will jam the Washington Mall to be part of the historic events and the rest of us will watch, listen, TIVO or podcast this new beginning for all of us. And right there in the thick of it will be our own Bishop of New Hampshire ... who sent this missive via email early this morning:


Dear Friends,

Well, in a few hours we'll be off to Washington for the inauguration. Here are a few items that might be of interest. Please feel free to share them with whomever you deem appropriate:

1. I will be blogging from Washington, using my summer's blogspot: "Tales From the Fringe" (Perhaps this should be renamed "Tales from Closer to the Center" but I didn't have time!)

2. Sunday's opening inaugural event at the Lincoln Memorial will be taped by HBO. What I DO know is that HBO will be airing it on Sunday evening -- and the signal will be available to EVERYONE, WHETHER OR NOT you are a subscriber to HBO!

3. The text of my inaugural event prayer will be available on our diocesan website on Sunday afternoon.

4. On Tuesday night, after attending the LGBT ball, sponsored by HRC and others, I will be Jon Stewart's guest on The Daily Show, a special live-from-Washington edition. At least here in the East, it is broadcast at 11:00pm on the Comedy Channel, and then rebroadcast the next night. Check local listings.

This promises to be an awesomely wonderful time. I am so honored and humbled to be so included. The President Elect has invited me to attend a small, private worship service on the morning of the inauguration, to attend the swearing in/inauguration itself, to view the parade from the Presidential viewing stand, and to attend the National Prayer Service at National Cathedral on Wednesday.

I hope that through these invitations, in some small way, ALL of you will feel included in these events by our next president.

Please pray for me as I undertake this awesome honor. I hope to do us and the Episcopal Church proud!

You've already made us proud, +Gene! Now go keep warm, have some fun and thanks for keeping us so "in the loop!"

Friday, January 16, 2009

We are everywhere!

Check this one out ... "Born Again American" is the project dreamed up by Norman Lear ... described on the website as a "movement committed to the rebirth of American citizenship through informed and thoughtful activism."

This music piece was produced by Lear for the Inaugural celebration and it includes ... choir members from All Saints Church, Pasadena!

ENJOY! (Me ... I'm running out to get a flag to hang on the porch on Tuesday!)


Thursday, January 15, 2009

+Gene on Rachel ...

It doesn't get much better than this:

(Have been in Prop-8 Debrief meetings ALL day today with more to come tomorrow so finding this on YouTube was a GREAT way to end a really LOOOOOOOOOONG day! More later!)

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Rick Warren Takes the High Road

Rick Warren Reaches Out to Gene Robinson
By Jacqui Salmon (washington

The Rev. Rick Warren, the conservative evangelical minister who will deliver the invocation at Barack Obama's inauguration, has extended an olive branch to Bishop V. Gene Robinson.

Today, Warren issued a statement praising Obama for selecting Robinson, saying the president-elect "has again demonstrated his genuine commitment to bringing all Americans of goodwill together in search of common ground. I applaud his desire to be the president of every citizen."
So here's what I'd like to see: How about a nationally televised discussion between Rick Warren and Ed Bacon (or +Gene Robinson ... I'm easy!) on the topic: "Is gay a gift from God?"

"Dear Oprah"

So here's the letter I just sent to The Oprah Winfrey Show ...


Re: Ed Bacon on "Spirituality 101"

I just want to make sure Oprah and her production team knows how many lives have been changed and how much healing is happening out here because of Ed Bacon's unequivocable statements about God's love being equally available to ALL people. As a priest and pastor, my phone is ringing and my email box is full of people asking me, "Where's a church like his near me?"

I'm sure you're hearing from "the other side" as well but PLEASE know there are plenty of channels and shows and webcasts people can tune in to hear about judgment. THANK YOU for offering a national platform for people to hear instead about grace.

The Reverend Susan Russell

Here's where you click to go and do likewise. (Ready, Set, GO!)

Inaugural is a "coming out party" for Democrats

... from the Associated Press article that includes the line up for clergy at the National Day of Prayer service on January 21st ... a list that includes Muslim, Jewish and Roman Catholic voices.

"This inaugural is a coming-out party for the Democrats in terms of their religious voice," said Stephen Prothero, a religion professor at Boston University. "Democrats found their religious voice in the last election and I think there's interest in seeing how that voice is going to sound."

Haynes said Obama is also carrying the hopes of the many Americans frustrated by the prominence of the Christian right in recent decades, especially in the administration of President George W. Bush. That partly explains the backlash against Warren, he said.

"The sense is it's time to balance that out and to have other voices heard. He's supposed to represent change," Haynes said. "There are many people looking for a symbolic change in tone, especially when it comes to issues of religion and public life."

Q & A with Oprah Winfrey

Q. "So what exactly did you mean by that ["being gay is a gift from God"] comment?


And a bulk of my day today will be spent answering mails in response ... including this one:

I wanted to take the time to share with you my great appreciation for the words you expressed on The Oprah Winfrey Show both last Thursday and this past Monday. “Being Gay is a Gift from God”, I cannot even type it without blurring my eyes from an unknown well of emotion and satisfaction. It is interesting and very surprising to me that I could live my life today (for the last 40 years) and for the last 17 years (being out) never crossing the threshold you pulled me through last Thursday. If you asked me last Thursday I would have said that I was a happy, confident, contributing member of society. A man blessed with so much love.
I have to tell you, no one has ever spoken so directly to the part of me that needed to hear those words of love, acceptance and inclusion. I didn’t even know I needed to hear them until you said them. It is an odd experience to find myself sympathizing with a guest on the show and in the course of one sentence being transported to another level of enlightenment. It was tangible. In that instant I felt the change manifest within me. I was different. I was unlimited potential. The weight of a new responsibility to myself and the world was now present, welcomed, and totally within my power to command.
I held my breath on Monday in fear for what I thought would be the inevitable step back; a softer version, an apology of some sort for loving with an intensity not yet recognizable by others. What came was the assertion that there was no misunderstanding, that the words are simple truth, and there will be no apology. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you.

I'm trying to imagine what it must be like to "hold your breath" for fear that someone "take back" the message that you are unconditionally loved by God.

Wow. We CAN make a difference by getting our voices out there and THANKS BE TO GOD that Orprah Winfrey offered this national platform for the Good News of a God who loves absolutely everybody to get out there!

Take a minute to thank her ... click here to send a message through her website ... because you KNOW she's getting emails from "the other side." Let's make sure she hears from us as well!

And now, back to answering emails!

"Dear Oprah Watcher, Thanks so much for taking time to write ..."

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Shout out to Al Sharpton!

Posted last night to "The Southern Voice:"

Sharpton decries churches pushing Prop. 8
Atlanta alliance forms to counter anti-gay religious rhetoric

“It amazes me when I looked at California and saw churches that had nothing to say about police brutality, nothing to say when a young black boy was shot while he was wearing police handcuffs, nothing to say when the they overturned affirmative action, nothing to say when people were being delegated into poverty, yet they were organizing and mobilizing to stop consenting adults from choosing their life partners,” Sharpton told a packed audience on Jan. 11.

“There is something immoral and sick about using all of that power to not end brutality and poverty, but to break into people’s bedrooms and claim that God sent you,” Sharpton added.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Here's what CBN (that's "Christian Broadcast Network") had to say ...

... about today's announcement about the Inauguration.

Link to video

"I meant exactly what I said."

From the website:

Another hot-button issue that sent viewers straight to our message boards was a comment made by the Rev. Ed Bacon during a discussion on spirituality.

After hearing from Sedrick, who says he had a tough adolescence growing up as a gay teen in rural Alabama, the Rev. Bacon said something Oprah says she has never heard a minister say. "Being gay is a gift from God," the Rev. Bacon said. "But our culture doesn't understand that. And consequently, the culture sends messages that you ought to isolate. And isolation is the antithesis of what all of us need."

To further explain his comment, the Rev. Bacon joins Oprah via satellite. "I meant exactly what I said," he says. "It is so important for every human being to understand that he or she is a gift from God."

Just as the message boards were buzzing, the Rev. Bacon says he has been receiving plenty of feedback. The majority of it, he says, is positive. "My e-mail was full of comments, and what I gather is that it simply unleashed a flood of healing throughout the country and Australia and Great Britain, across the continent. It was amazing."


Stay tuned for further news on this ... and do consider logging in to register for the webcast Wednesday night when I guess the panelists from last week's show -- including Ed -- will take questions.

What an interesting beginning to the New Year, eh? Who REALLY thought they'd live long enough to see Ed Bacon on Oprah AND Gene Robinson giving the opening prayer at the opening event at the Lincoln Memorial for the Inauguration Celebration of a 44th President of these United States named Barack Hussein Obama?

My, my, my!

First Oprah, then O'Reilly ... what's next????

In other news ...

Pasadena Pastor back on Oprah today to explain why "Gay is a gift from God"

Media Advisory: For Immediate Release
Monday, January 12, 2009

The Reverend J. Edwin Bacon, Jr., rector of All Saints Church, Pasadena will make an encore appearance on The Oprah Winfrey Show today, Monday, January 12, to respond to the controversy around his statement in a January 8th segment on the Oprah Show that "being gay is a gift from God."

It was no surprise at All Saints Church that the show's producers asked for some follow-up time with Reverend Bacon. "The volume of email we're getting here in Pasadena tells us that Ed Bacon's message -- the good news that God loves absolutely everybody -- is one people are hungry to hear," said the Reverend Susan Russell, All Saints Senior Associate for Communication.
"We are deeply grateful for the national platform Ed Bacon's appearance on Oprah has given this message of love, inclusion and tolerance that we hear preached here in Pasadena 24/7. We look forward to welcoming those coming toward us who are hearing for the first time that the abundant, inclusive love of God includes them!"

For more information contact Keith Holeman, Director of Communications at All Saints Church, Pasadena, at, or 626.583.2739.

Keeping an eye on the "breaking news"

It's a VERY busy Monday here in Sunny Pasadena but here's my shot at compiling some of the news items around today's announcement of +Gene Robinson's role in the upcoming inaugural celebrations. Stay tuned for more!


Gay bishop will open inaugural -- Politico

Can anybody be "America's Pastor" now? -- USA Today

Gay bishop get role in inauguration event -- Reuters

Gay Episcopal Bishop Tapped for Obama Inauguration -- US News & World Report

Bishop Robinson gets inaugural role -- Boston Globe

New Hampshire Bishop invited to offer prayers -- Episcopal Life

Openly gay bishop to offer first inaugural invocation -- CNN

N.H. bishop invited to D.C. to give prayer --Concord Monitor

Openly Gay Episcopal Bishop to Deliver Invocation at Lincoln Memorial -- New York Times


Huffington Post

Episcopal Cafe

HRC: Human Rights Campaign