Friday, September 30, 2011

Schismatics Lose Another One

I know, I know ... it's not supposed to be about "winners and losers" ... but who are we kidding?

Connecticut court: breakaway parish can't keep property

The bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut says he wants to talk with members of a local parish that broke off from the national church after it consecrated its first gay bishop in 2003 about either rejoining the Episcopal faith or leaving the property.

Bishop Ian Douglas' comments came after the state Supreme Court ruled Friday that parishioners at the 135-year-old Bishop Seabury Church in Groton cannot keep the building and land.

Parish members say in a statement that they're disappointed with the ruling and will be discussing what to do next with their lawyers.

The parishioners and their pastor refused to turn over the building and land to the diocese after leaving the church in 2007, but were allowed to stay there while the legal case was pending.

[Source link: SF Gate]

BREAKING NEWS: Military Chaplains Authorized to Preside at Same-Sex Weddings

U.S. military chaplains can officiate at gay weddings

(Reuters - source link) - U.S. military chaplains will be allowed to officiate at same-sex weddings under new guidelines following repeal of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy on gays serving openly in the military, the Pentagon said on Friday.

A chaplain may participate in or officiate at any private ceremony on or off a military installation as long as the ceremony is not barred by state and local laws, the Defense Department said in a statement.

Chaplains do not have to officiate at ceremonies that go against their religious tenets, it said.

The repeal of the Defense Department policy that barred homosexuals from serving openly in the military -- known as "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" -- took effect on September 20. More than 14,000 U.S. service members were thrown out under the rule, which dated from 1993.

The new guidelines said that decisions on the use of military property should be made on a "sexual-orientation neutral" basis, the statement said.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Diocese of Los Angeles Stands up for The Dream Act

Gov. Brown has until Oct. 9 to sign AB131 -- the bill providing qualified immigrant students with access to state financial aid for higher education. AKA California's DREAM Act Assembly Bill 131 was adopted by the state legislature this past summer and is awaiting Gov. Jerry Brown's signature by Oct. 9. Brown's action on AB131 is expected to occur during the nationwide DREAM Act Sabbath 2011 sponsored through Oct. 9 by Interfaith Immigration, a coalition endorsed by the Episcopal Church and its Public Policy Network.

In the Diocese of Los Angeles, the bishops and Program Group and Peace and Justice Ministries have affirmed the sabbath effort by encouraging ongoing education - beginning this weekend -- around all aspects of fair and just immigration reform. Bishop Suffragan Mary Glasspool addresses the topic in this week's "Just Action" video segment:

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Let those with ears to hear ...


(And to all my Jewish friends celebrating a New Year -- Shanah tovah!)

Preachers, choose your words wisely

[Editorial in tomorrow's Los Angeles Times]

On 'Pulpit Freedom Sunday,' churches should remember that their tax-exempt status prohibits them from politicking. And the IRS should enforce that law.

September 29, 2011

On Sunday, hundreds of preachers are expected to celebrate something called "Pulpit Freedom Sunday" by sermonizing about the moral qualifications of candidates for public office. The event is organized by the Alliance Defense Fund, a Christian legal organization. The alliance is offering legal representation to clergy whose remarks might run afoul of the prohibition of politicking by churches. It's a challenge the Internal Revenue Service should take seriously.

Under the law, not only churches but other so-called 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organizations must not "participate in, or intervene in (including the publishing or distributing of statements), any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for public office." The restriction, which dates back to the 1950s, is based on a sound principle: that organizations characterizing themselves as charitable and receiving a government benefit should refrain from election activity.

For some religious conservatives, this policy isn't just unwise; it's unconstitutional. But tax exemption isn't a constitutional right. It's the creation of Congress, which has the right to attach conditions to that benefit. Put another way, churches may have a 1st Amendment right to comment on elections, but they don't have the right to a tax exemption.

Two other criticisms concern the way the IRS enforces the restriction on politics in the pulpit. One is that the agency's policing of political preaching is so lackadaisical that the effort isn't worthwhile. But that picture is belied by statistics provided by the IRS. In the 2006 election cycle, the last for which the agency has published data, it received 237 referrals and selected 100 (44 churches, 56 non-churches) for examination, finding political activity in 26 cases.

The other criticism is that IRS enforcement has been subjective and sometimes politically motivated. Consider the inquiry into an antiwar sermon preached in 2004 at the All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena. In the sermon, the church's former rector presented a scenario in which Jesus participates in a debate with George W. Bush and John F. Kerry. The preacher didn't endorse either candidate but said that Jesus would have told Bush that his war strategy in Iraq "has led to disaster." In 2005, the IRS wrote the church that its tax exemption was in jeopardy; in 2007, the agency closed the investigation but continued to maintain that the sermon was illegal.

The ambiguous outcome of the Pasadena case suggests that the IRS needs to be more precise in its criteria for continuing with an investigation. The sermon in that instance may have gone right up to the line, but there is a line, and it divides criticism of candidates' policies from opposition to their election.

With the 2012 election season already in progress, the IRS needs to remind the participants in "Pulpit Freedom Sunday" that the law will be enforced — in a measured and consistent way.

Copyright © 2011, Los Angeles Times

Two "Hump Day" Snapshots



Monday, September 26, 2011

Go, Blue!!!

Proud of my Dodgers!!

Thank You, Mr. President!

Obama: Booing of Gay Soldier 'Not Reflective of Who We Are'
By Andrew Harmon

President Obama on Sunday condemned audience members at a recent GOP presidential debate who booed an openly gay service member currently deployed in Iraq.

Via video message from Iraq, the soldier, Stephen Hill, asked candidates appearing at the Fox News-Google GOP Presidential debate in Orlando whether they would seek to undermine repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” if elected — a question that elicited loud jeers by some in attendance.

Speaking at a fundraiser in San Jose, Calif., Obama slammed the audience reaction as well as an outburst on health insurance in a previous GOP debate.

“You've got audiences cheering at the prospect of somebody dying because they don't have healthcare. And booing a service member in Iraq because they're gay," Obama said. "That's not reflective of who we are."

Read the rest here ... and then go ahead and click here to email The White House and join me in saying "Thanks, Mr. President!" (Seriously. It'll only take a minute. And didn't our mothers all bring us up to understand the value of the thank you note?)

Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Gospel According to Stephen Colbert

I don't agree with the "Christian Nation" thing but the rest is right on:

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Cruisin' the News

Two quick updates from my Saturday News Cruise:

Catholics cannot accept gay marriage

FREIBURG, Germany (Reuters) - Pope Benedict said on Saturday the Catholic Church could not accept gay marriage ...
Just like they already don't "accept" divorce. Fine. We've got a First Amendment that protects their right to believe whatever they want to about marriage. We also have a First Amendment that protects us from them -- or anybody else -- writing their theology into our Constitution.
Obama speaks out for global LGBT rights at U.N.

"No country should deny people their rights, the freedom of speech and freedom of religion, but also no country should deny people their rights because of who they love, which is why we must stand up for the rights of gays and lesbians everywhere."
Seriously, people. Do you get what a big freakin' deal this is? What a beacon of hope these words are to voiceless LGBT people in ... oh, let's just pick Uganda or Nigeria ... whose very lives are in danger if they dare to tell the truth about who they are? I'm sick of hearing about what this president hasn't done ... let's give credit where credit is due for what he HAS done.

And this is HUGE!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Rick Perry: Arguably the Miss South Carolina of the presidential race!

I haven't exactly been hanging on every word of the Republican debates. For one thing, I've been busy. For another ... well, basically life is too short.

But even I couldn't avoid this "OMG that was the most incomprehensibly nonresponsive answer to a question I've ever heard moment" from the most recent Republican faceoff. It showed up on the morning shows, on Facebook ... even Rachel did a segment on it. And finally I had the "Aha!" moment when I realized who Rick Perry reminds me of.

Wait for it.

Miss South Carolina of "the Iraq and everywhere like suchas" fame.

Seriously. Check them out.



Am I right or what?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Supreme Court Refuses to Block Georgia Execution

Just received notice that the Supreme Court has refused to block the execution of Georgia's Troy Davis. More here.
"An evil deed is not redeemed by an evil deed. Justice is never advanced in the taking of a human life. Morality is never upheld by a legalized murder." -- Coretta Scott King

Photos from today's Death Penalty Vigil in Pasadena's Central Park.

Monday, September 19, 2011


The sound you hear
is the arc of the moral universe
bending a little more toward justice:
DADT is officially history!

CNN Report: Repeal of DADT seen as 'tipping point' in gay rights movement

Saturday, September 17, 2011

INVITE Somebody!!!

We're on final Homecoming Countdown at All Saints Church. Here's the email reminder that went out this week:
“If you think you can’t-go-home-again
Because the might-haves and
the should-haves and the didn’t-quites
have taken hold,
Then think again.”

These words from the All Saints “Homecoming” poem … penned by Anne Breck Peterson in 1982 … once again call us all back to All Saints Church for Homecoming Sunday 2011.

Homecoming Sunday is always a marvelous opportunity to greet old friends and make new ones and members of our Parish Council have outdone themselves in planning an extraordinary and festive start to this All Saints program year. We’ll welcome back both Canterbury and Coventry Choirs at the 9:00 and 11:15 services and (something new!) a variety of foods will be available for purchase from some of the area's most popular food trucks beginning at 10:00 a.m. Here's a link to their menus to whet your appetite.

Ed Bacon has said more times than most of us can count that being a member of All Saints Church is not a spectator sport. So be with us this Sunday as we begin another year together of putting faith into action; of speaking truth to power; of making God’s love tangible 24/7.
And here's my "add-on" ... a YouTube video a colleague emailed to me a week or so ago but I just discovered in my "deferred maintenance inbox" this morning. It reminds me there are plenty of folks out there who have plenty of reasons NOT to be part of a church. Until they find one like mine. Or yours!

So INVITE SOMEONE to Homecoming Sunday or next Sunday or to the next or the next ... so we can say "Welcome Home" to them, too!

[Sadly, it turns out the folks who made this video don't exactly practice what they preach about full inclusion but hey ... if you remember last week's lesson about Joseph and his brothers it turns out God can "mean for good" all KINDS of things that start out markedly less-than!]

Friday, September 16, 2011

35 Years Ago Today ...

Thirty-five years ago today General Convention paved the way to make this picture -- and others like it -- possible.

For many it's hard to imagine an Episcopal Church that doesn't include women in all orders of ministry -- and for others the struggle for women's ordination is part of their lived history in the Church!

So let's give thanks to Louie Crew for reminding us on Facebook this morning that today ... this very day ... is the 35th anniversary of the day that the General Convention of the Episcopal Church voted to end discrimination against the ordination of women with a resolution that read:
Resolved, the House of Deputies concurring, That a new Section 1 of Title III, Canon 9 be adopted, with renumbering of the present Section 1 and following, the said Section 1 to read as follows: Section 1. Theprovisions of these canons for the admission of Candidates, and for the Ordination to the three Orders: Bishops, Priests and Deacons shall be equally applicable to men and women.
And thanks to George Werner for this -- also reminding us of some of those who were in the forefront of that important fight for equality:
"I just found D-1 from '76 Convention: Signees: George Regas, Lueta Bailey, Lois Barnum, Dupuy Bateman, James Birney, Leona Bryant, Gordon Charleton, Charles Crump, Mark Dyer, Joe Green, Sally Head, Hugh Jones, Charles Lawrence, Clay Myers, Dillard Robinson, Lucile Roca, Ed Romig, Bob Royster, Bart Sherman, Gordon Stenning, Ross Sidney, Charity Weymouth, Stew Wood & me. Special moment!"
So Happy Anniversary, Church!!

(And thanks to all who worked so long and hard to make it happen. May we be given grace to serve the Church in our generation as faithfully as you served it in yours!)

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

"Good Christian Belle" Kristin Chenoweth on why she's "pro-gay"

I don't really like the term "pro-gay" ... but that's the way the Joy Behar show promos this spot with actress Kristin Chenoweth talking about her faith, about her support for LGBT equality and her new series "Good Christian Belles" (incidently being filmed in part on the All Saints Church campus here in Pasadena. Go figure!)

Anyway ... check it out ... she's great. (And I particuarly like her line about how reading the Bible is like eating fish: you eat the meat but don't choke on the bones!)

So how's your week going?

We are knee deep here at All Saints Church in "The Great Vault Project" -- the replacement of the electrical vault that serves the All Saints campus. Here's just a little glimpse ... through my office window ... of how much fun we're having:

Monday, September 12, 2011

"This is my song" ...

This is my song, O God of all the nations,
A song of peace for lands afar and mine.
This is my home the country where my heart is;
Here are my hopes, my dreams, my holy shrine;
But other hearts in other lands are beating
With hopes and dreams as true and high as mine.

My country's skies are bluer than the ocean,
And sunlight beams on cloverleaf and pine;
But other lands have sunlight too, and clover,
And skies are ev'rywhere as blue as mine.
O hear my song, thou God of all the nations,
A song of peace for their land and for mine.

- Words: Lloyd Stone (1934)

This was the presentation hymn at All Saints today: a moving tribute to patriotism that transcends tribalism.

I was celebrating at the 9:00 service ... which is the one where the kids come up around the altar for the consecration. So while we were singing the presentation hymn I was looking at 30-some little people all looking up at me. And it occurred to me in that moment they were all born after 9/11 ... or were so tiny in 2001 that they don't remember what the world was like before the Twin Towers fell and the Pentagon was attacked and the passengers of Flight 93 crashed their plane into the fields of Pennsylvania -- giving their lives to save others.

They don't remember what the world was like before 9/11. But they know what the world is supposed to be like. They know that whoever they are there's a place for them -- because they don't ever remember not being welcome at the altar. They know that they're part of turning the human race into the human family -- because that's the message they hear week after week at All Saints Church. And they know that they are fearfully and wonderfully made – and so is absolutely everybody else.

And so this hymn -- this Song of Peace -- didn't tell them anything they didn't already know. That the God who created them in love created every other child in their human family in the same love. That the God who inspires their prayers inspires children of all other faiths in their prayers. That the song of peace is for their land and for ours.

September 11, 2002 – the first anniversary of 9/11 – was the first time I celebrated at the All Saints altar. There is a lot of liturgical water under the bridge since that day … and I’d be hard pressed to count all the many, many moments of grace and power they represent. And yet I've never been more aware of what a privilege it is to preside at that altar ... to bless that bread and wine … to present the gifts of God for the people of God … to be part of making God’s love tangible … than I was today. With those thirty-some eyes looking up at me while we sang:

My country's skies are bluer than the ocean,
And sunlight beams on cloverleaf and pine;
But other lands have sunlight too, and clover,
And skies are ev'rywhere as blue as mine.
O hear my song, thou God of all the nations,
A song of peace for their land and for mine.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Bishop Walter Righter | October 23, 1923 - September 11, 2011

Give rest, O Christ,
to your servant with your saints,
where sorrow and pain are no more,
neither sighing, but life everlasting.

Remember 9/11 | Pray for Peace | Work for Justice

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Q. Where were you on 9/11?

Tuesday was the morning I didn't lead chapel. Monday was a late EfM night for me and so on Tuesdays our principal led chapel for the K-6th grade students of St. Peter's Parish Day School and I came in later in the day.

So on Tuesday 9/11/2001 I got up later than usual, poured my cup of coffee and settled into the "big chair" in the living room to watch a little morning television. And -- like so many others who I've heard had a similar reaction -- at first I thought I'd stumbled on a rerun of some kind of disaster movie. Except it was on all the channels. And it wasn't a movie.

And I watched as the second plane hit the Twin Towers.
And I got dressed and went up to St. Peter's and led chapel.
And I fielded calls from parents who wondered how to talk to their kids.
And I called parishioners who had family members traveling and didn't know where they were.
And I listened to the eerie silence over the San Pedro peninsula as the airspace was shut down.
And I called my kids. And my mom. And my best friend. And I told them I loved them ... just in case.
And I tracked down our rector (Alan Richardson) who was in New York City on sabbatical and found out that he was OK.
And I met with our parish leadership and we called everyone in the parish to tell them we'd be having a service at 7pm.
And we gathered. And we prayed. And we cried. And we waited to see what would happen next.

The next day ... September 12th ... our kindergarten teacher brought me a drawing one of her students -- Ben -- had made that morning, It was a typical kindergarten assignment -- draw something "alike" and something "different."

And here's what Ben drew:

It remains for me -- ten years later -- a reminder that the world that is is not yet the world that God would have it be.

And it remains for me -- ten years later -- a profound gift that in the wake of the tragedy of 9/11 a child opened his box of still-sharp-for-the-new-school-year Crayola Crayons and drew an icon of hope.

On Sunday, September 16 like clergy all over the country I had to get up in the pulpit and say something. And -- thanks to the miracle of the "Way Back Machine" -- here's what I said:

September 16, 2001~ St. Peter’s, San Pedro ~ Susan Russell
Exodus 32:1, 7-14; Psalm 51:1-11; 1 Timothy 1:12-17; Luke 15:1-10

I grew up on Morning Prayer. The versicles and responses found their way into my mental "hard drive" without my even knowing they were being "saved to disk" – but there they are:

Show us your mercy, O Lord;
And grant us your salvation.

Clothe your ministers with righteousness;
Let your people sing with joy

Give peace, O Lord, in all the world;
For only in you can we live in safety

"For only in you can we live in safety." Those words I’ve said a thousand times became sort of a mantra this week as the grim horror of the events of Tuesday morning replayed over and over and over again … etching themselves into our collective consciousness.

The week seems a blurred combination of stunned disbelief at the horrors unfolding from New York and Washington and a desperate need to respond in some way … any way. Lines at the blood banks: at least we can give blood! Services here at St. Peter’s on Tuesday night and again on Friday afternoon: at least we can pray! Donations to the relief organizations (including our own Episcopal Relief and Development Fund which is centered in New York City) just beginning to scratch the surface of the incalculable needs: at least we can give!

At least we can do something ... anything! … and yet it seems so little in the face of so much evil.

Listen to the words of Bishop Roskam of the Diocese of New York "… we may not have control over the evils that happen to us. But we do have control over the actions we take in response. If we make destructive choices in the aftermath of evil, we extend its influence into the present. If instead we make positive choices, we stop the evil, even transform it. The way Christ did on the cross."

We gather this morning under the Christus Rex … this great symbol of our risen Lord -- who took the evil of death on the cross and transformed it into an icon of hope for us and for all humankind. As the Body of Christ in the world, now is the time for us to start thinking about what kind of positive choices we can make to begin to transform the evil that has made itself so real to us.

For it is now the beginning of beginning to begin to imagine the "what next" as we journey together into God’s future as people of faith.

People of ALL faiths. As a minister of the Christian Gospel and a priest in the Episcopal Church I speak unabashedly out of the particularity of my experience of Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior … of my own journey of faith in Christian community … of my reliance on the Good News of God in Christ Jesus as a vehicle for transformation and redemption for the whole of creation – not just a means of individual salvation.

My response to the reality … the centrality … of this faith in my life is to invite others to "come and do likewise" … to experience the joy and peace that I find in this community as we strive to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul and mind … and our neighbors as ourselves.

All our neighbors. Jew and Gentile. Muslim and Mormon. Orthodox and Otherwise. Nothing that divides us is greater than the love of the God who created us all. Never has it been more crucial that we work together to find the bonds of our common humanity and strive together to combat this evil perpetrated by a few which threatens to destroy us all. Never have the stakes been higher – never have the questions asked in our baptismal vows had more meaning:

Will you persevere in resisting evil?
Will you proclaim by word and example the Good News of God in Christ?
Will you seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbor as yourself?
Will you strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being?

The response to each and every one of these questions is "I will, with God’s help" – and never before has that answer held as much promise and as much power at it does today: for it is only with God’s help that we can undertake the challenges ahead of us. And undertake them we must.

As people of faith we must challenge the voices in our culture which call for revenge against a people they do not know or a faith tradition they do not understand. And we must work together to overcome the voices of narrow exclusivism in our own traditions which feed and nurture the kind of fanaticism we have seen acted out with such destructive power.

I read with horror and amazement the transcripts from the dialogue between Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson on Tuesday’s tragedy: blaming the ACLU, feminists, gays & lesbians and those who support a woman’s right to choose for causing this calamity: for bringing down God’s anger on the United States. "I point the finger in their face and say 'you helped this happen'" said Falwell.

And I thought of the public fury over photos of the reaction of a handful of Palestinians to the news of the destruction of the World Trade Center. How indignant I would be to have the venom spewed by Falwell, Robertson and their ilk portrayed as definitive of "Christianity." No less appalled than the millions of Islamic faithful who watch in horror as their spiritual heritage is categorized and vilified based on the actions of the evil ideologues who orchestrated these heinous attacks against humanity.

I realized with sobering clarity on Friday morning as I watched the service from the National Cathedral, that I hold much more in common faith with the Islamic and Jewish leaders who gathered with Billy Graham and our own Bishop Jane Holmes Dixon to pray for peace and healing than I do with these "fellow Christians" who use the Gospel of Jesus Christ as an assault weapon aimed at those with whom they disagree.

In the days and weeks ahead, I pray that God may lead us into a place where bridges can be built, where understanding can begin, where people of all faiths can begin to work together to overcome these forces that threaten to divide us. United we can combat the evil that surrounds us – trusting that the God who would leave the 99 sheep to find the one who is lost; who would search all day for the lost coin; will be with us as well, in these present difficult days.

Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold writes, "we are keenly aware that violence knows no boundaries and that security is an illusion. To witness the collapse of the World Trade Center was to confront not only our vulnerability as a nation in spite of our power, but also the personal vulnerability of each of us to events and circumstances that overtake us.

Many are speaking of revenge. Never has it been clearer to me than in this moment that people of faith, in virtue of the Gospel and the mission of the Church, are called to be about peace and the transformation of the human heart, beginning with our own. I am not immune to emotions of rage and revenge, but I know that acting on them only perpetuates the very violence I pray will be dissipated and overcome.

I pray that these events will invite us to see ourselves as a great nation not in terms of our power and wealth but measured by our ability to be in solidarity with others where violence has made its home and become a way of life.

Yes, those responsible must be found and punished for their evil and disregard for human life, but through the heart of this violence we are called to another way. May our response be to engage with all our hearts and minds and strength in God's project of transforming the world into a garden, a place of peace where swords can become plowshares and spears are changed into pruning hooks."

Give peace, O Lord, in all the world;
For only in you can we live in safety.


Remembering remembering 9/11

As we prepare for tomorrow's events marking the 10th anniversary of 9/11 I'm remembering the service we held at All Saints Church in Pasadena marking the first anniversary on 9/11/2002.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, September 09, 2011

Our Presiding Bishop on 9/11

"The greatest memorial to those who died ten years ago will be a world more inclined toward peace." --Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori on 9/11

Presiding Bishop reflects on the tenth anniversary of 9/11. from The Episcopal Church on Vimeo.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Quote of the day ...

"If by a liberal they mean someone who looks ahead and not behind, someone who welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions, someone who cares about the welfare of the people - their health, their housing, their schools, their jobs, their civil rights, their civil liberties... if that is what you mean by 'liberal,' then I AM PROUD TO BE A LIBERAL." - John F. Kennedy (via Katie Sherrod)


Crane collapses at Washington National Cathedral

[Episcopal News Service] A 500-foot crane erected at Washington National Cathedral to repair damage caused by a recent earthquake collapsed at 10:55 a.m. on Sept. 7 and fell into an outbuilding in the cathedral grounds.

A note on the cathedral website said that emergency services, engineers and contractors had arrived on the scene to make initial assessments and that further information would be posted following a complete analysis.

The crane, which was placed on the south side of the cathedral to allow workers to stabilize damaged sections on the central tower, fell against Herb Cottage -- where the cathedral gift shop is housed -- and poses a threat to Church House, where administrative offices are located. The crane also crushed several vehicles in the cathedral parking lot, according to reports.

Full story

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Today's Picture Worth 1000 Words

An update on today's Prop 8 hearing

Today was the Prop 8 hearing on the "standing" issue in the CA Supreme Court. The hearing was broadcast live -- I watched part of it thanks to the ABC7-live streaming feed. Here's what the Courage Campaign had to say in a just-received email update:

Today, Ted Olson brilliantly argued that the folks do not have "special rights" to represent the state of California and defend Prop 8. And he reminded us that their own attorney admitted in court "I don't know" how same-sex marriage harms anyone.

The state of California won't defend Prop 8, so barged in. A tiny, unaccountable, unelected web site is trying to represent the state in court to defend legalized discrimination.

Suppose well-funded, determined people disliked you so much that they put your way of life to a public vote and lied about you so they could win. Elections frequently come down to emotion, so if the folks who hate you want to win, all they have to do is scare enough people. That's why the Prop 8 legal battle matters so much. For the first time in history, we've seen the tactics and lies laid bare.


And now we'll see what the "CA Supremes" do with what they heard in court today.

Prop 8 Trial-Tracker had a live blog of the hearing ... which included this quote from Ted Olson:

Olson says in response to reporter, good justices ask hard questions. Said he was happy those questions were asked. Feels encouraged. He says our side wins either way, on the merits or on standing.
Lambda Legal issued a statement which included:

We continue to hope that the Court will ultimately decide that small groups of unelected individuals who are answerable to no one should not be able to act on behalf of the state.

"We also hope they will see that the proponents of Proposition 8 had no direct interest in the validity of the measure. Their only legal interest was getting it placed on the ballot. A philosophical interest based on prejudice against lesbian and gay people should not be enough to gain access to federal courts."
More from Ted Olson on the AFER website:
“There is ample authority that individuals do not have a right to defend a law unless they would suffer a direct and immediate harm from its invalidation,” said attorney Theodore B. Olson, who represents the Plaintiffs in the Perry case. “The proponents of Proposition 8 will not suffer any harm from a decision that grants gay and lesbian Californians their fundamental civil right to marry. It is the Attorney General who has the exclusive authority to make litigation decisions on behalf of the State, and here the Attorney General has made the sound decision that the discriminatory provisions of Proposition 8 do not warrant defense on appeal. Proponents cannot second-guess that exercise of discretion.”

Monday, September 05, 2011


by Corey Banks on the Free Wood Post

Jesus Christ filed a lawsuit today in the New York Supreme Court against the Republican National Committee for what he is calling “egregious misrepresentation of his statements and image.”

One of the attorneys representing Christ had this to say:

“For years Republicans have proclaimed their love for and loyalty to Jesus, yet their actions are highly contradictory to what Mr. Christ preached. Instead of helping the poor and the sick GOP instead punishes the poor and the sickly.

Our client isn’t telling the GOP what their agenda should be, he simply wants them to stop using his name when their actions contradict everything he stood for.

If the GOP would like to continue using his name they have to start making a significant effort to help the poor and the sick, instead of the rich, and start promoting a more peaceful agenda.”

When asked about the lawsuit, House Speaker John Boehner made the following remarks:

“Mr. Christ is entitled to his opinion, however the GOP believes that the underlying message in the Bible is that giving tax cuts to the wealthy is the true path to happiness.

Read the rest here ...

More 9/11 Memory Lane

Yesterday's post about the ECW interfaith response to 9/11 sent me further down memory lane as I paid a visit to the "Way Back Machine*" to look at some of the resources and reflections that were posted to the ECW website during the days and weeks immediately following 9/11/2001.

There was lots and lots of inspiration and information ... But for today, here a few items for reflection --

"From the Crayons of Babes":
A September 12th drawing by an Episcopal Day School Kindergarten Student ...

It was a typical kindergarten assignment: draw something "alike" and something "different." Here's what Ben, one of the kindergarteners at St. Peter's Day School, drew on September 12th -- 2001.

May God give us the grace to live into his faith in how different "God's Church" can be!


Prayers of the People
Posted to the ECW site in the days just after 9/11 ...

God the Father, Creator of heaven and earth, have mercy upon us.
O God the Son, Redeemer of the World, have mercy upon us.
O God the Holy Spirit, Sanctifier of the faithful, have mercy upon us.
O holy, blessed, and glorious Trinity, one God, have mercy upon us.

We pray for those who have died: for those in the four hijacked airplanes,
for those in or around the World Trade Center, for those in or around the
Pentagon. May their souls and all the souls of the departed rest in peace.
Lord in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

We pray for those who may still be trapped in the rubble, those who are
injured, and for those whose loved ones have not yet been accounted for. We
pray for perseverance, and strength, and hope.
Lord in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

We pray for those whose vocation it is to serve in times like these; for
those who work on the streets as police officers, rescue workers,
paramedics, and firefighters; for those in the armed forces; for those who work with the Red Cross; for those who work in hospitals and blood banks; news rooms and
communication centres; churches and mosques and temples.
Lord in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

We pray for those in positions of leadership all over the world. We pray
for President George Bush and his advisors, for Congress, for the Mayors of New York and Washington.
Lord in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

We pray for peace in our world in the days to come, peace between races and
cultures and religions.
Lord in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

We pray for those who orchestrated this attack.
Lord in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

We pray for ourselves. Calm our fears, comfort our sorrow, guide our
response. Set us to the difficult task of forgiving those responsible for
this violence, and for being ministers of peace and reconciliation.
Lord in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

Accept our prayers, all loving God, as our best offering to you in these
days. We ask these things in the name of the Holy Trinity, Father, Son,
and Holy Spirit. Amen.

A reflection by L.A. clergy colleague Lee Walker ...

Following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack on our country, I was wondering like every other American, "What can I do?" On Thursday, I was driving to the Cathedral Center to pick up some books at the bookstore. As I was going north on Degnan towards the Santa Monica Freeway, I heard a disturbing news report on the radio. It said that some students at a college in America had gone on a rampage tearing the veils off Muslim women and roughing them up. I had already heard previous reports of a growing number of threats against Muslims in America.

I felt so powerless. I couldn't undo the horror of what the terrorists had done on Tuesday. Now I couldn't think of what to do to stop the so called "Christians" in America from attacking innocent Muslims. Suddenly, I remembered a mosque I had seen by USC at the corner of Vermont and Exposition Blvd. In the two years that I have lived in LA, I had driven past that mosque a hundred times. I had often thought that someday I'd call them and introduce myself or make an appointment to see their mullah or imam or take my youth group to visit there, but I never had followed through.

I turned right to head towards the mosque. I thought that I would go in and invite their people to come to our parish the next day for our silent prayer vigil. I wondered if I shouldn't call first to make an appointment, but then I realized that time was short. I decided to just go by and see who was there.

As I walked up the steps to the mosque, I felt rather odd. I wasn't even sure if it was a mosque. Perhaps is was just an Islamic student center attached to USC. Perhaps they were extremist Muslims who didn't like Christians. Did anyone here speak English? How would they react on this day to a priest in his clericals walking in unannounced?

I went in the door and found myself in a reception lobby. Across the lobby, I saw two young men who appeared to be in their twenties and physically appeared (to this White, native born Texan) to be Arabs. They were both casually dressed in white T-shirts and blue jeans. One was sitting behind the reception desk and the other was standing in front of it.

I walked to the desk and introduced myself telling them the name of my parish. They looked at me somewhat puzzled. The receptionist asked what I wanted. In a fumbling way, I tried to say that I just decided to come over on the spur of the moment, introduce myself, and see if there was someone there in charge with whom I could speak. The two young men were very polite, but obviously puzzled as to just what my purpose was since I clearly had no appointment, knew no one there, and seemed a bit confused myself as to what I was doing there.

The receptionist explained that there was no one there except for the two of them. He said that all the rest of the staff was at a meeting with other mosque leaders somewhere else in town, but that they would be back after 3 PM. I told them I was on my way to the Cathedral Center and would come back after 3 PM. The two men looked at each other in a puzzled way again and asked me for more details as to who I was, what my clergy credentials were, my denomination, etc.

The receptionist then stood up, came out from behind the reception desk carrying a camera and asked if he could take my picture. I thought that was very odd as no one at a reception desk had ever asked to take my picture. I mean, I'm not all that photogenic!

Then I suddenly thought, "Oh, Sweet Jesus! They think I'm some sort of right wing Christian religious fanatic who's come in to look around and find a good place to plant the bombs when I come back tonight to blow up the mosque.Then, if anything does happen to the mosque, they'll have a picture of me to show to the FBI."

However, I figured that it would only make matters worse if I refused or questioned them, so I agreed. I asked the receptionist where he wanted me to stand for the photo.

He handed the camera to the other man, walked over next to me and said, "Stand here next to me." Then, he looked at me with this wonderful, delighted smile and added, "My mother is going to love this photo when she sees it!"

I said, "Excuse me? Your mother? What's she got to do with this?"

He then said that his mother lived in Morocco. She had called him the night before, crying hysterically and begged him to leave America and come home that very day. She told him that everyone in Morocco had heard that the Christians in America were about to round up all the Muslims in America and murder them. He said that when she saw this photo, she would have proof that the Christians in America were good people, that he was safe, and that Americans would stand up for each other no matter what their religion or race or country of origin.

As he told me this, I was doing the best I could to choke back the tears. I had walked up the stairs to the mosque rather nervously and uncomfortable with meeting these "strangers" only to find that they feared that I, as a Follower of Jesus Christ, might want to murder them.

As the young man stood next to me, he turned and asked if I minded him putting his arm around my shoulder. I told him I welcomed the gesture and asked if I could put my arm around his shoulder. He was delighted and said I could. The other man with the camera looked into the view finder and told us each to say "Peace."

The man next to me grinned and said, "Peace," as he held up two fingers in
the "Peace Sign" so familiar to me as an aging hippie. At the same moment, I
decided to say peace in Arabic, which is "Sallam." But when I spoke as the
other man was saying, "Peace," in English, the word that came out of my mouth was, "Shalom," which is "peace" in Hebrew.

The camera flash went off, and hearing what I had said, They both hugged me
as I kept saying, "I meant 'sallam,' I meant 'sallam!'" And we all laughed,
probably for the first time since Tuesday.

The psychotic servants of satan who sought to divide America and throw us
into chaos have been the unwitting instruments of Jesus Christ, the Prince of
Peace. In the months and years to come, I know that the ties and friendships
between that mosque by USC and my parish will multiply and grow.

Romans 8: 28 "And we know that in all things God works for the good of
those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."

Peace, James Lee Walker +, Rector
Christ the Good Shepherd Parish
Los Angeles, California


(If you don't know about The Way Back Machine you should check it out.)

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Remembering 9/11

Like everybody else I have lots of memories swirling around in my head as the anniversary of 9/11 approaches. In 2001 I was a member of the ECW National Board. (Yes, that would be the Episcopal Church Women.) I was their "member-at-large for multi-media communications" and we had just re-launched the ECW website* -- along with a three-fold "Call to Action" focused on literacy, non-violence and leadership.

There is much I remember about what an extraordinary privilege it was to work with that great bunch of fabulous, faithful women -- and there is nothing I remember with greater pride than how quickly and clearly the women of the Episcopal Church stepped up to offer resources to build bridges of interfaith understanding in the wake of the tragedy of 9/11.

From the Episcopal Church Archives:

Episcopal Church Women will offer resources on Islam
September 27, 2001

(ENS) The national board of the Episcopal Church Women has announced the extension of its Call to Action to include a network of information and education resources on Islam.

Pointing to its "long-standing and effective network of communication" throughout the church, board member Susan Russell said that "we have a unique opportunity in these challenging times to offer resources for dialogue, education and outreach to the church at large." Already available on the ECW website is a concise background on Islam, links to Islamic web resources, and suggestions for dialogues at the local level and expect soon to be able to provide age-appropriate curriculum for youth.

"We believe we must better educate ourselves about Islam in order to challenge the misinformation and dangerous stereotyping which has so tragically emerged from the events of September 11. Secondly, as we network with members of the Islamic community, through prayer, dialogue and mutual community outreach, we have the opportunity to model Christian community in action."
Ten years and what seems like yesterday and a lifetime ago!


*Thanks to Jenny Ladefoged for the reminder that there had been an earlier version of the ECW website so we were doing a "re-launch" of the site in 2000.

Friday, September 02, 2011

The Blame Game: My Two Cents on the Economy

Is all this economic news making you as nuts as it's making me? Honest to Pete ... the craziness of House Republicans taking absolutely no responsibility for stonewalling and attacking every single effort of the President to do ANYTHING and then blaming him as solely responsible for the tanking economy just makes my head spin.

Here's some analysis from "Think Progress" that makes my point:

The public sector has been steadily shrinking. According to the conservative theory of the economy, when the public sector shrinks that should super-charge the private sector. What’s happened in the real world has been that public sector shrinkage has simply been paired with anemic private sector growth. This is what I’ve called “The Conservative Recovery.”

Conservatives complain about the results because the President is a Democrat named Barack Obama. But the policy result is what conservatives say they want. Steady cuts to the government sector, offset somewhat by private sector growth. The reality is that this dynamic sucks, and we ought to be forcefully trying to avoid public sector layoffs knowing that workers are also customers for the private sector. But we’re not.

No. We're not. And we're not going to as long as those crackpots are in charge of congress.

They're like the guy who murdered his parents and then wanted sympathy because he was an orphan. They are gleefully murdering the economy because they're less worried about the moving the country forward than they are moving Barack Obama out of the White House. They are living out Rush Limbaugh's 2009 "I hope he fails" mantra. But here's the deal. If "he" fails, "we" fail. The country fails. Families fail. People suffer.

If Solomon could figure out which was the true mother by who was willing to let the child be ripped in half and who was willing to compromise for the child's sake, shouldn't we be able to tell which is the true patriot by who's willing to have this country be ripped apart by economic ineptitude and who's willing to compromise for the nation's sake?

C'mon people. Wake up.