Saturday, June 30, 2012

Celebrating Independence Day the All Saints Church Way

Tomorrow the services at All Saints Church in Pasadena will begin with this opening versicle and response:
Minister: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all people are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
People: For the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the Protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.
The processional hymn will be "O Beautiful for Spacious Skies" and then we’ll pray this Collect of the Day for Independence Day:
Lord God Almighty, you have made all the peoples of the earth for your glory, to serve you in freedom and in peace: Give to the people of our country a zeal for justice and the strength of forbearance, that we may use our liberty in accordance with your gracious will; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
The rector will preach to “The Life of Christian Patriots in a Moral Universe” and one of our parish veterans will bring up a folded flag at the offertory (it will be my kid at the 11:15) and we'll end with "Lift Every Voice and Sing."

It is, arguably, my favorite Sunday of the year. Film at eleven!

Harry Knox Completes Work as Integrity's Interim E.D.

As we look to the beginning of the 77th General Convention of the Episcopal Church next week, we pause to mark the end of the good work Harry Knox has done in his role as Integrity's Interim Executive Director. Today is his last day in the position he assumed in September 2011 -- and as we send him off to new and important work we give thanks for the blessing of Harry's work and ministry among us.

Moving on to serve as the President and CEO of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice in Washington DC, Harry leaves with Integrity's deep gratitude for his work and wisdom.
Direct us, O Lord, in all our doings with thy most gracious favor, and further us with your continual help; that in all our works begun, continued, and ended in you, we may glorify your holy Name, and finally, by your mercy, obtain everlasting life; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Ed Bacon Writes A Book

From the July issue of Saints Alive -- the All Saints, Pasadena monthly newsletter -- my rector Ed Bacon invites us into the birth of his upcoming book: 8 Habits of Love.

Somewhat to my surprise, I have written a book. The title is 8 Habits of Love, and in one way or another, you are all in it. Although the material for this book has come from many experiences on my life’s journey, I know that the final product would not have its scope and depth without my having spent more than 17 years at All Saints Church, living, working and growing with all of you.

It started in the fall of 2008 when Oprah Winfrey needed to interview a person “of the cloth.” She had hosted Eckhart Tolle for a teaching series from his book A New Earth on her radio show, “Oprah’s Soul Series.” A number of people had challenged her that the material was too New Age and somehow un-Christian. I accepted an invitation from her office to talk this through with her in Chicago on a radio show.

Later in the year as I participated on a three-person panel on her national television program, Ms. Winfrey pointed out that I was the only one of the three who hadn’t written a book. In a matter of months I had engaged a literary agent and a book coach and had a book contract.

The All Saints community has been the crucible in which the concept for this book has evolved. Long interested in the dynamics of love and fear, I have noted that the most frequent injunction in scripture is, “Do not fear” and that Jesus said, “Perfect love casts out fear.” My sermons on living in the House of Love versus the House of Fear have generated the most response over the course of my preaching. I know the impact of love and fear on one’s brain, body, relationships, and systems. I know that all of us have our fears but when we become our fears life becomes distorted, we are less than who God created us to be, and we cannot become our authentic selves.

So I’ve written a book about eight habits we can practice to keep fear from taking over the driver’s seat of our lives. On many levels, 8 Habits of Love is a description of the kind of life that invigorates our worship, work, affection, and play at All Saints. Exploring the eight habits of love takes us on an adventure of self-discovery.

Writing about them has also been quite an adventure. With expert help from my agent and later my book coach I wrote the proposal for the book and then the book itself over the course of two years, including the sabbatical All Saints gave me last summer. Upon returning to All Saints last Homecoming Sunday, I turned the book over to a very gifted editor who gave the book its final shape.

I have experienced these necessary ingredients for fruitful writing —a passionately held idea; a team of people who, with commitment and care, work and pray for a compelling product; time and solitude to plumb important depths of one’s own soul and relationships; editors, editors, and more editors, doing more and more editing; and, for me, a sympathetic life partner who both believes in the project and suffers no bull.

The most potent ingredient in the recipe has been all the people who worship, support, and cheer the adventure called All Saints, Pasadena. Appropriately we will launch the book at All Saints on Sunday, September 9, prior to the publication in New York on September 11. Between now and then I will be on summer break, reading and preparing sermons for next year and having a family vacation. I will return a week early from my time away to preach that Sunday and to thank you all for making possible this wonderful adventure of producing a book, using all that I’ve learned from all of you and our journey together.


And this week, Publisher's Weekly gave 8 Habits of Love this "starred" review:
Rector of All Saints church in Pasadena, Calif., Bacon discusses 21st-century spirituality and the critical role of love as a liberating, joy-filled and guiding force; he has “an unshakeable certainty that within each and every human being there lives a core of love and goodness.” He offers eight simple habits—play, forgiveness, stillness, truth, candor, compassion, community, generosity—to change the way we think and behave. The habit of generosity opens hearts so one may give and receive. Practicing the habit of candor deepens relationships, and the stillness habit restores a calm confidence. The habit of truth causes us to challenge our assumptions about ourselves and others and leads to growth. Along with personal anecdotes, memories, and stories of soul survivors, Bacon interpolates the thoughts of poets, sages, scholars, and writers, such as the Dalai Lama, Thomas Merton, and Alice Walker. Readers who find a life-giving energy pulsing in these pages will pass this book on to those they love.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Of Sausages, Elephants and Wolves

The art of governance has frequently been compared to the art of sausage making -- in that knowing too much about what goes into either can cause one to lose one's appetite for both. This has arguably never been more true than the run-up to this 77th General Convention of the Episcopal Church.

To say that it "hasn't been pretty" would redefine understatement.

I wrote about it last week in my blog about the B033 Elephant in the Living Room ... how I believe a significant part of the challenge we face is the UNfaced rupture of trust in the experience of B033 and its collateral damage not only on the lives and vocations of LGBT Episcopalians but on the real-or-perceived consoldation of power in the hands of the House of Bishops.

Today, however, it's not an elephant I'm thinking about but a wolf:  -- ( from the post I just put up on the HoB/D (House of Bishops & Deputies) list serve:)
If you're one of the five preachers on the planet who hasn't used this story as an illustration at some point -- or one of the ten laity who hasn't heard it - here's the Cherokee Legend that has been echoing in my head as we wrestle with the budget/structure/trust debacle du jour:

An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. "A fight is going on inside me," he said to the boy. "It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil - he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego." He continued, "The other is good - he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you - and inside every other person, too." The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, "Which wolf will win?"

The old Cherokee simply replied, "The one you feed."

Friday, June 22, 2012


No, it's not a typo. It's a new word. My friend Giles Fraser, an extraordinarily clever English clergyman, invented it on Monday: | noun -- Definition: the lies people tell in order to justify homophobia

And so he inspired me, not to invent a new word but to start a list -- a list of the lies people tell in order to justify homophobia. Here's what I've got so far:

"Homosexuality is unnatural."Actually, homosexuality naturally occurs in species ranging from primates to gut worms. Why a percentage of animals (including humans) express a sexual orientation toward members of the same sex isn't clear. What is clear is that they do, which makes "homosexuality is unnatural" a homophib.

"Being gay is a choice."Another homophib. Regular-or-decaf is a choice. Chocolate-or-vanilla is a choice. Paper-or-plastic is a choice. Homosexuality is no more a "choice" than heterosexuality is. There is no consensus among scientists about the exact reasons that an individual develops a heterosexual, bisexual, gay, or lesbian orientation, but there is a consensus that sexuality is a continuum. So the "choice" is not to be gay, straight, or somewhere in between; the "choice" is to build our own healthy relationships -- and leave other people alone to build theirs.

Read the rest  ... (there are five more) ... on the Huffington Post

And so he inspired me, not to invent a new word but to start a list -- a list of the lies people tell in order to justify homophobia. Here's what I've got so far:

An Elephant in the Living Room: Coming Soon to a General Convention Near You!

Tick Tock General Convention! As I write this blog the "countdown clock" says 12 days | 14 hours  until GC77 Day One. The most recent "breaking news" came yesterday from the Presiding Bishop ... who entered the Great Budget Debacle with her own budget proposal.

The point of this brief blog is not to revisit the unfortunate series of events that created this unprecedented budget mess for the Episcopal Church or evaluate the pros-and-cons of the Presiding Bishop's proposal -- for that I commend Tom Ferguson's most recent Crusty Old Dean post.

What I do want to do is to introduce my increasing conviction that the budget impasse is not only an issue-unto-itself but a symptom of a deep rupture of trust represented by an "elephant-in-the-living-room" named B033.

I want to say I do not believe we have ever truly explored the impact of the events that ended the 75th General Convention in Columbus -- where having spent 10 days as the "council of the church" we ended up with precious little to show for it except a boatload of resolutions that fell through the cracks and a last minute betrayal of the gay-and-lesbian baptized to secure invitations for our bishops to Tea at Lambeth.

I want to suggest that until we deal with the rupture of trust of caused by that historic ramrodding of B033 through the House of Bishops -- and by then Presiding Bishop-elect Katharine Jefferts Schori's plea in the House of Deputies to concur with its misguided capitulation to homophobic based bigotry -- we're going to continue to replicate the cycle of misunderstanding, mistrust, suspicion and polarization to the continued detriment of the mission and ministry of the Church and the Gospel.

I know. Me with an opinion on something. I'm sure you're all shocked. (Not!) And so -- in conclusion -- here's a look back to the moment-after-that-moment ... the day the elephant showed up in the living room: my post-B033 "rant" preserved for us by our friends over at Stand Firm. (Thanks again, guys!)

I "stand firm" behind EVERY word I said that day ...

( ... and -- just to clarify -- the point of my taking exception to Greg's interjection was his use of "homosexual" [which I didn't say] rather than "gay and lesbian" [which I did.] Minor point, perhaps, but one worth making when it comes to giving others the authority to name themselves.) Tick Tock General Convention 77!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

That was then/This is now (Or: The more things change the more they stay the same)

As the clock ticks toward General Convention 2012, my pre-convention prepraration has included reading the Blue Book, writing some resolutions, brushing up on Episcopal polity, digging through the archives and trying to keep up with email. (All while doing my regularly-scheduled-pays-the-mortgage-parish-priest job... knowing that all the other deputies are in pretty much the same boat.)

ANYWAY ... those last two agenda items -- the archives digging and email reading ... came right up against each other today as I encountered two very similar gauntlets thrown down -- one prior to the meeting of the 65th General Convention in 1976 over the impending ordination of women and the other just this week in advance of the 77th General Convention over the impending authorization of liturgical resources for the blessing of same-sex unions.

AKA Same stuff/different day. Onward to Indianapolis!

An Open Letter to the Bishops of the Episcopal Church in the United States of America

February 23, 1976

Reverend Fathers in God:

The undersigned, meeting recently at Seabury House as associates in the Fellowship of Concerned Churchmen, have reviewed the issues which are throwing the Episcopal Church into increasing turmoil and confusion.

We feel impelled by our faith and by our loyalty to the Lord Jesus Christ and to His Church to make a solemn declaration of conscience before our Bishops and the Episcopal Church. We use this means to make clear with all the gravity which lies in our power our common attitude.

We do not intend to list here, much less to debate, the many issues which divide churchmen today, the resolution of which will affect the character and validity of the Christian witness of all Episcopalians. We simply wish to state with all the emphasis at our command the nature of our attitude, both now and in the face of possible developments in General Convention which could influence such fundamental principles as: the validity of the Catholic Orders of the ordained ministry; the beauty, majesty and dignity of our common worship inherited through the Anglican Book of Common Prayer, and the maintenance of the Catholic faith embodied and protected therein; the authoritative Christian nature of the moral and ethical values held and taught by the Church.

There must be no conceivable doubt, Sirs, that in all these areas we are moved by a deep sense, a deep certainty, that the Episcopal Church is being urged to make irrevocable errors which could remove it from the Holy Catholic Church and could destroy -- whether at one move or gradually and insidiously -- its validity and credibility as an authentic voice of God to man in our age.

We beg you to understand and to believe that we and many other churchmen with us face a true crisis of conscience.

We do not classify worship as an easy matter for word changes; it affects the Church's very being. We do not classify changes in the nature of the priesthood and episcopate as a mere matter of adjusting to "enlightened modern secular views" of sociological relationships, to be accomplished by parliamentary maneuvers and voted by parliamentary majorities favoring constitutional or canonical changes; such changes can destroy the sacramental life of the Church. We do not classify the rise of a relaxed moral code and teaching as admirable evidence of growing tolerance or as a permissible way to adjust ourselves to a secular society increasingly impatient to throw off all moral restraints; we see it as treason to Christian teachings about morality, sin and repentance, to whose hard truths we must remain loyal if we make any pretense of passing on the message proclaimed by Jesus Christ.

In all of this, we perceive the most immediate threat to the Church's life to lie in the proposal to ordain women. We must proclaim in all conscience, with deep pain, that the proposed changes in the nature of the ordained ministry are unacceptable to us. In this we believe we speak for all those who, like us, are first and foremost loyal to the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church of the Creeds and have always hitherto been loyal to the Episcopal Church as a cherished expression of the universal Church. If General Convention were to exceed its authority and purport to authorize the ordination of women into the priesthood or the episcopate, we would refuse to accept this action. We would not recognize the validity either of General Convention's action or of any results of such action. We would not accept or recognize as priests or bishops any women purportedly ordained under such spurious authority. We would never submit to such a development, for to do so would be to betray our most conscientious religious beliefs and loyalties.

A moment of truly profound crisis and tragedy is upon us and the Church. Those who are striving to push the Church irretrievably into that crisis and tragedy should be under no illusions as to the test to which they put us nor as to our immovable will. They should be under no illusion that, if successful, they would not shatter the unity of our branch of the Church, in the inevitable course of time.

Right Reverend Sirs, you and all others in and out of positions of authority in the Church should understand beyond the shadow of a doubt that we, the undersigned, stand together in our resolve to fight with every Christian means at our disposal to prevent an alteration in the nature of the ordained Ministry. Our confidence is strong that such a change can be prevented. We rely upon God's continued guidance and protection of His Church.

However, if God in His inscrutable purposes should permit the Episcopal Church to depart from the Catholic community, we would feel called by him to be steadfast. Moreover, we and countless Episcopalians sharing our crisis of conscience are confident that, whatever trials might come, God would in due season open an acceptable way of preserving the Christian heritage we have received. It is a heritage in which we glory, which has strengthened and uplifted us, of which we would not deprive our posterity, and which will not die.

We want you, our Bishops, to know the depth of our feeling. We want you to know our fixed resolve. We trust that, knowing these things, you may help all Episcopalians to understand what is at stake and to draw back, even at this late date, from condemning the Church to carry its Cross to Calvary. If Calvary were to become inescapable, nobody should forget that Calvary was not the end of the story.

Our faith is threatened but we trust in the God who parted the waters of the Red Sea. We are beset but we are serene. We are in arms and we are confident.

Faithfully yours in Christ,

This letter has been signed by the following individuals, representing the organizations and publications stated, and the original signatures are on file with the Chairman of The Fellowship of Concerned Churchmen.

(The Hon.) W.R. Baker, Vice President, The American Church Union
Frederick Cooper, Vice President, Episcopal Renaissance of Pennsylvania
Ellen Crowell (Mrs. Albert W.), Chairman, The Certain Trumpet
(The Rev. Canon) Albert J. duBois, President, The American Church Union
(The Rev. Canon) Albert J. duBois, Coordinator, Episcopalians United
(Mrs.) Dorothy A. Faber, Editor of The Christian Challenge
(The Rev.) J. Raymond Fisher, Board of Directors, The Foundation for Christian Theology
(The Rev.) Stanwood E. Graves, Board of Directors, The Foundation for Christian Theology
W. Clark Hanna, Past President, Episcopal Renaissance of Pennsylvania
(The Rev.) Robert C. Harvey, The Canterbury Guild
Perry Laukhuff, Editor of The Certain Trumpet and Chairman, The Fellowship of Concerned Churchmen
(The Rev.) Carroll E. Simcox, Editor of The Living Church
(The Rev.) Harry J. Sutcliffe, Director, The Episcopal Guild for the Blind
Walter R. Swindells, Managing Editor of The Anglican Digest


Declaration of the Standing Committee

The Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of South Carolina

June 15, 2012

1. As the Standing Committee of the sovereign Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of South Carolina, we view with dismay and great sadness what appears to be the inevitable outcome of the 2012 General Convention of the Episcopal Church, that is, the official approval of a rite for the blessing of same-gender unions. This is a defining moment in the life of the Episcopal Church, being the first formal adoption of doctrine, discipline and worship which are contrary to the unequivocal mandate of Holy Scripture, the historic Christian faith, Anglican doctrine, and the pronouncements of the four instruments of Anglican unity. Furthermore, the adoption of such a rite at General Convention contravenes the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church, and the Book of Common Prayer, and in so doing reveals the bankruptcy of our own polity and institutional integrity.

2. Of greatest concern is not that a blessing of same-gender unions contravenes specific verses of Scripture, though that is unacceptable – of greatest concern is the theology which underlies this rite, set forth in the 82 page I Will Bless You document, which patently redefines the Christian faith, subverting the doctrines of creation and baptism, the nature of sin and salvation, and the grace of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

3. We have compassion for those who struggle with and act upon same-gender attraction, and we urge equal treatment for all men and women in the church. Our Lord calls us all, equally, to repent of sin that we might receive forgiveness and cleansing through the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, restoration to the Body of Christ, and transformation through the power of the Holy Spirit.

4. We hereby repudiate, denounce and reject any action of the Episcopal Church which purports to bless what our Lord clearly does not bless. Specifically, we declare any rite which purports to bless same-gender unions to be beyond the authority and jurisdiction of the General Convention of the Episcopal Church and without force or effect.

5. In view of the persistent movement of the General Convention of this church away from orthodox Christianity, including its expected embrace of such a rite of same-sex blessings, we further affirm and assert our calling in this diocese to seek to “make Biblical Anglicans for a global age,” and we declare that we will not walk with General Convention down the road they are choosing. We will instead continue to partner with Anglican dioceses, provinces and other Anglican entities here and abroad to further the spread of the Good News of salvation for sinners through faith in Jesus Christ.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Tuesday Morning Quickie

The Good News is the First Amendment protects your right to be as bigoted, homophobic and/or sexist as you want to in the privacy of your own religion. The Better News is the First Amendment protects US from the bigotry, homophobia and/or sexism of your religion. Seriously, people! Get off the "attack on religion" high horse and read the freakin' Bill of Rights!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

The Gospel According to Louie Crew for Father's Day

Knowing that I might not be with Dad when the end came, I said to him – forgive me, lgbtq friends, this is not politically correct; it sounds like apologizing for who I am; I am trying to be honest with you as I try to be honest with God -- “Dad, I know that I have not been the son that you wanted, but I love you very much.”

He was down to 90 pounds He struggled with the side of the hospital bed to sit up, and he would not let me help him. He got eyeball to eyeball and said, “Louie, you have never been more wrong. You are the son that I wanted, and I love you very much.”

I realize that some of you may not have had a father that loved you like that. But let me tell you about my other father, because he's your father too. The God who made heaven and earth made you. You are the daughter God wants. You are the son God wants. Let your pride be in God's absolute love of you.

Remembering My Dad on Father's Day

My dad -- Bill Brown -- was born in 1913 in Atlantic City ... the seventh of seven children ... into a family context that Daddy described as "episodically privileged." His father ran "legitimate theaters" and at 16 -- as the Depression gripped the nation -- young Bill left school to make it on his own as an usher in "Roxie's Army" at the Radio City Music Hall.

A few years later he headed west and ended up at the Los Angeles Theater in downtown L.A. ... one of the great old movie palaces ... where he became the manager in the late 1930's ... and where he was working when, as he told it, the Japanese had the gall to bomb Pearl Harbor on his 28th birthday and so he signed up.

He served in the army in Burma, India and China as newsreel photographer and then returned to the L.A. and "theater biz" after the war ... where he met my mom ... who had come west from Minnesota (ya sure you betcha!) and was the head usherette at the grand old theater.

So here we are -- the official vacation photo circa 1960 ... it's one of the ways I remember my dad best ... he loved that trailer and getting out exploring with us ...

... a break from the suit-and-tie part of this life which was his 30+ year career managing theaters in L.A. and then Santa Barbara -- back in the day when a theater manager stood in the lobby and greeted patrons.

Daddy never saw a room he couldn't work ... never met someone he wasn't interested in talking to ... and he modeled a deep respect and curiosity about people and places that was one of his great legacies. That and a great tolerance for differences -- respectfully offered -- that was a hallmark of my growing up.

Daddy was a "Goldwater Republican" with strongly held opinions -- and as I turned out to have some pretty strong opinions of my own we had lots of "spirited conversations." I remember friends in college being amazed that I could actually go toe-to-toe with my dad about ... well, George McGovern comes to mind! ... but Daddy was convinced that encouraging us to think for ourselves was part of his job. Love and acceptance in my family wasn't conditioned on agreeing with each other ... and I think maybe that's one of the greatest gifts he gave us.

Here's another picture that is sort of quintessential Bill ... a camera around his neck and a drink in his hand.

Daddy retired in 1977 and he and my mom had ten years of traveling, golfing, and grandparenting ... here he is with my Jamie ... his first of four grandchildren ...

... born between 1981 and 1985. He died in the summer of 1987. After months of failing health he was ready, he said, to "pack it in" when he could no longer even follow his beloved Dodgers or swing a golf club. A lot has happened in those 25 years and I wish he'd been here to see it all.

Well, most of it. I wish he'd been able to see his grandkids grow up. I wonder if he'd have been as surprised as my mom was that I ended up a priest. I can only imagine how much fun he would have had with digital photography. And I wonder what he'd have to say about what's happened to the Republican Party he valued so much. I think he'd have as little patience with the "Tea Party" craziness as I do. And know that even if we disagreed we'd be able to go toe-to-toe on it.

I know I was blessed to have him for my dad. And on this Father's Day I just wanted to say "Love you, Daddy. Miss you!"

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Another Diocesan Dodger Night in the Books: Dodgers Win & +Mary Rocks!

It was a beautiful night for a ball game ... and All Saints Church was out in force to cheer on the Dodgers to a 7-6 victory over the Chicago White Sox AND our Bishop Mary Glasspool as she threw out the ceremonial "first pitch. Photo above is Bishop Mary with partner Becki Sander ... and photos below are a look at the fun everybody else was having. Enjoy!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

D018 - End Discrimination Against Same-Sex Marriages

Assigned the Resolution number D018 by the General Convention Office today, I am delighted to be part of the team bringing this "Dump DOMA" resolution to the 77th General Convention of the Episcopal Church.

D018 End Discrimination Against Same-Sex Marriages

PROPOSER Russell, The Rev. Cn. Susan
ENDORSED BY Engstrom, The Very Rev. Marilyn; Hopkins, The Very Rev. Michael


Resolved, the House of ______ concurring, That the 77th General Convention urge members of the United States Congress to pass legislation that would repeal the Defense of Marriage Act and allow the U.S. federal government to provide benefits to couples in a same-sex marriage.


According to the United States Government Accountability Office (GAO), there are 1,138 statutory provisions in which marital status is a factor in determining benefits, rights, and privileges. These rights and responsibilities apply to only male-female couples because the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) defines marriage as only between a man and a woman. Currently there are seven states and jurisdictions representing thirteen dioceses where civil marriage is equally available to both opposite and same-sex couples. And a number of federal courts have ruled that DOMA is unconstitutional for failing to provide equal protection and unfairly disadvantaging legally married same-sex couples.

The Episcopal Church has a long history of supporting equal civil protections for same-sex couples, including opposing federal or state constitutional amendments prohibiting same-sex marriage (GC2006-A095). Urging Congress to end discrimination against same-sex marriages is not only in alignment with prior actions of General Convention, it is in alignment with our baptismal promise to strive for justice and to protect the dignity of every human being.

The Consultation: Putting Faith in Action at #GC77

The Consultation has been bringing together leaders from around the Episcopal Church to focus on their common commitment to peace with justice since 1985. Together they create a platform for legislative priorities at each General Convention of the Episcopal Church ... and here's the one for #GC77 (which [a] will be our hashtag on twitter because [b] it is the 77th General Convention of the Episcopal Church and [c] our Methodist cousins used #GC2012 for their General CONFERENCE 2012 a few months ago.

“Transparency and Transformation” The Consultation Platform 2012

The Consultation is a coalition of thirteen independent organizations in the Episcopal Church committed to peace with justice. We come to the 2012 General Convention in Indianapolis understanding clearly that The Episcopal Church is facing the challenge to be a vehicle of God’s mission in the world in a time of economic fragility, societal upheaval, and an impulse toward rigid religious doctrine.

We give thanks for our Church's baptismal identity and common life embodied and expressed in the ministry of all the baptized in the governance of our church. This governance by all the baptized has enabled this Church to respond to the challenges of the times for generations and serves as a model of inclusive and responsive governance to the entire Anglican Communion.

As we have been equipped for mission by this baptismal governance, we call the church going forward to strive for the transformation of ourselves, the church, and the world as promised in our baptismal covenant. Therefore, we challenge The Episcopal Church, gathered in this 2012 General Convention, to live more fully into the five promises of our Baptismal Covenant:

1. To continue in the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread and in the prayers.
  • Affirm our baptismal ecclesiology and restore Confirmation as an effective pastoral response to significant turning points in the Christian life.
  • Support authorization of liturgical rites of blessing for covenants made between two people of the same gender.
  • Adopt changes in canons to support marriage equality.
  • Work for the elimination of the US federal Defense of Marriage Act and support civil marriage equality.
  • Support more gender equality in “Holy Women, Holy Men”.

2. To persevere in resisting evil and, whenever we fall into sin, to repent and return to the Lord.
  • Work for the abolition of modern human slavery – especially the trafficking of women and children.
  • Defend the right of workers to organize. Insist on fair and transparent hiring and treatment of individuals who work at the church center, including the maintenance workers as a model of just and humane treatment.
  • Actively work to bring about comprehensive and compassionate immigration reform.
  • Continue the struggle to dismantle racism and all forms of prejudice and oppression, including sexism, heterosexism, homophobia and ableism.
  • Renew the call to every diocese and Episcopal seminary to mandate anti-racism training
  • Include in Safe Church training an orientation to domestic violence, bullying and appropriate responses.
  • Actively work to end transgender discrimination in all forms.

3. To proclaim by word and example the Good News of God in Christ.
  • Encourage new forms of ministry and leadership development, especially among our youth and young adults, communities of color, and multicultural ministries.
  • Support participation in the Anglican Communion and respectfully decline to endorse the Anglican Covenant.
  • Demand greater transparency in financial reporting from The Episcopal Church

4. To seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving our neighbor as ourselves
  • Fully support the UN Millennium Development Goals, including the 0.7% allocation of government funds.
  • Continue the church’s active involvement in supporting our public schools.
  • Promote community investing.
  • Work to reform the US tax codes for compliance with justice for all.
  • Insist on US foreign aid and military assistance standards to assure that human rights are upheld.
  • Engage Episcopalians and inform them of the value of the existing structure of The Episcopal Church's governance.

5. To strive for justice and peace among all people and to respect the dignity of every human being.
  • Work for the end of violence against women, children and sexual and gender minorities throughout the world.
  • Work for environmental justice, especially as it impacts poor and disenfranchised communities.
  • Strive to change US budget priorities that fuel the culture of violence at the expense of health and welfare at home and abroad.
  • Continue to support selective conscientious objection in the military.
  • Call upon Episcopal ethicists to study the technological changes in modern warfare, e.g. the increased use of drones and emergent technologies.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Argued April 10, 1967 | Decided June 12, 1967

Happy 45th Anniversary Loving v. Virginia!

Today is the 45th anniversary of the Supreme Court's decision to end all race-based restrictions on marriage in America with Loving (pictured here) vs. Virginia. Only 45 years ago it was perfectly legal for a state to arrest a couple if they were interracial. The world can change ... somebody tell the Church of England!

I just LOVE it when Giles Fraser is Livid!

And today he has plenty to be livid about. The Church of England has come out with a "communique" on equal civil marriage that is [a] unsigned [b] unattributed and [c] unequivocably opposed to same-sex marriage, calling it "The greatest threat to the church in 500 years." Seriously. You might want to read the whole report here ... or not. But in the meantime here's what Giles has to say. Enjoy!

The Church of England says it is against gay marriage. Not in my name | Giles Fraser

[source link] I am furious about this ridiculous and unrepresentative statement from the Church of England on gay marriage

The Church of England has spoken. And apparently, we are against gay marriage. We are not "anti-gay", we hope you understand. After all, as the statement says: "We have supported various legal changes in recent years to remove unjustified discrimination and create greater rights for same sex couples." Oh, no. We are not homophobic. It's just that we (the straight religious people) think that if gay people are allowed to get hitched in church then that will ruin things for the rest of us. The presence of homosexuals at the altar, vowing lifelong love and fidelity, will devalue the institution of marriage. It would be like letting women join the Garrick.

Apologies for the sarcasm. But I am spitting blood about the latest ridiculous statement from the Church of England. First, it is worth exposing the straightforward lie that is expressed here – that the C of E hierarchy has been supportive of civil partnerships. It has not.

In the main House of Lords debate in June 2004 the majority spoke against it and voted six to one in favour of a wrecking amendment. The leadership of the C of E will do anything to keep gay people out of the church. It uses the sickly language of welcome but won't let gay priests (even celibate ones) become bishops and is prepared to cut the Church of England off from the Episcopal church in the US because they do. At every turn, the Church of England treats gay people as an unwanted headache.

The other shameful aspect about this statement is that it purports to represent the views of the whole Church of England. "How can a church that is so divided on this issue produce so one-sided a statement?" asks a contributor to the Thinking Anglicans web site. Quite. This statement has not gone before General Synod for any sort of discussion. It has not been discussed at diocesan level. It has been put together by small team in Church House, Westminster, who purport to speak in the name of many thousands of people who will think the whole thing is complete tosh. Those receiving this contribution in government need to appreciate that it has all the democratic authority of a President Putin election victory.

And finally there is the absurd hyperbole of the thing. "The greatest threat to the church in 500 years." Do us a favour. Worse than the dissolution of the monasteries? Worse than secularisation? It is telling evidence of the irrational fear that the church leadership has of gay people that they are prepared to make such ridiculous statements. And as a threat specifically to marriage, what about divorce? Unlike homosexuality, this is a subject on which Jesus was pretty specific, but the C of E is perfectly prepared to marry divorced couples. Indeed, they are perfectly happy to marry gay people too – just so long as they marry people of the opposite sex. For years, gay men and women have been pressured into lavender weddings and often lives of misery so as to live out a model of supposed respectability. The church has blessed these marriages, and blessed pets and battleships, but they won't allow gay people who love each other to make lifelong commitments in the sight of God.

The church is no more a cartel of moral wisdom. And those of us who still stick with it – though there are days like today when this is increasingly hard – do so in the hope that it can be called back to a deeper moral seriousness that is not in hoc to bourgeois notions of respectability and prejudice. This is not a great day to be a member of the Church of England. I am simply ashamed.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

L.A. Pride 2012: "Come As You Are"

Yes, it was Pride Day in L.A. again -- and this year was yet another "best ever" as we joined with Lutheran colleagues for Eucharist-in-the-street to begin the day ... and then our fabulous Bishop Mary Glasspool and her equally-fabulous partner Becki wow'd the crowds along Santa Monica Boulevard. Here's a glimpse at the Diocese of Los Angeles: At Work in the Fields of the Lord -- June 10, 2012.

Saturday, June 09, 2012

At Work in the Fields of the Lord! (AKA Gay Pride L.A.)

Thanks to the great work of an amazing cloud of witnesses we are ready to rock and roll at the L.A. Pride Festival again this year! Here's a look at the just-opened booth at the festival ... and nearly all the ducks are in a row for tomorrow's Eucharist and Parade.

If you want to take a look down "memory lane" here are photos from years back ... Enjoy! (And join us tomorrow as we make some more Gay Pride History!)

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Reflections on "Out of the Box," Dissonance and Anglican Comprehensiveness

"Voices of Witness: Out of the Box"
debuted a week-ago-tomorrow and has already racked up over 3000 views on IntegriTV's YouTube Channel -- and is "in the mail" via DVD to every bishop and deputy to General Convention. And a study guide is Coming Soon to the Integrity website ... here's the page to bookmark.

If you've not watched it yet, of course you'll want to go right now and see for yourself. But first, check out what viewers are saying about the groundbreaking documentary giving voice to the witness of transgender Episcopalians:
Fiercely, beautifully, compelling. Enlightening and comforting to ALL of us who need to courageously live into our true selves, whoever that is and wherever that takes us. - Sharyn D, Los Angeles CA
Powerful, heartfelt and beautifully done. Thanks for this blessed gift. – Donna M, Pasadena CA

Someone at my parish told me during coffee hour today how much they loved this film and how proud it made them feel to be part of the Episcopal Church! I hope to share it widely here in Oregon, I think it might be especially useful for clergy.—Andy M, Portland OR

Just watched it -- so terribly impressed -- thanks to all who made this film possible -- As a form LCMS Minister of Education I was especially impressed with the priest who left the LCMS and who spoke so clearly about God's love for us all. – William R, Washington DC

Gripping, heart- wrenching, challenging.... Outstanding! – Ann R, Alexandria VA

Moving, thoughtful, and the humanity of transgender people shines through every frame. This is a wonderful tool to educate all about a subject that is so misunderstood and feared. Great work!!! -- Bill B, Los Angeles CA

And as seen on twitter: "awesome, inspiring, powerful, needed, feeling called to replicate this in Jamaica."
Of course, there are dissenting voices. (After all, this IS [a] America and [b] The Episcopal Church.) I was intrigued by one of those ... Kendall Harmon over at Titusonenine ... not because he has another perspective (which of course I expect) but the way he chose to frame this introduction to the piece on his blog.

Entitled A new Video on Transgenderism put together by TEC Reappraisers to be shown at G. Convention 2012 he introduces the discussion with this disclaimer:
This is an important video because it represents the prevailing theology among the TEC elite. It is something you need to be aware of as illustrated by the fact that it is planning on being screened at General Convention 2012, and that it contains two members of the House of Bishops in its content. You, however, need to make your own decisions about whether to view it since the theology advocated will cause major dissonance--KSH.
Wow! Just "Wow!"You'd think after all these years I'd be past the point of being flummoxed what comes from the Titusonenine side the aisle but I have to admit -- they got me again! Seriously.

The idea that theological "dissonance" requires what amounts to A Warning Label is ironically antithetical to just about everything I was raised to understand was uniquely Anglican about being Anglican -- especially the gifted ability to hold in tension seemingly irreconcilable "dissonances" -- Protestant/Catholic come to mind just for starters.

Try as I may to wrap my brain around what lies behind a disclaimer that urges caution in viewing an alternative theological perspective 'since the theology advocated will cause major dissonance' all I can come up with is Henri Nouwen's "house of fear." Dissonance (according to Merriam Webster) is defined as
1 : lack of agreement;
2 : a clashing or unresolved musical interval or chord
So if there's no place for lack of agreement in conversation with each other there's no actual conversation. And if there's no place for clashing or unresolved musical intervals or chords then there's no actual music. Or at least nothing I'd consider worth listening to.

Isn't the "dissonance" of the voices of those with whom we disagree most often the ones who challenge us to grow and change? And aren't the "dissonances" of clashing or unresolved musical intervals exactly what make great musical moments great?

Of course I could go on and on but I have other work to get to and -- at the end of the day -- I guess I've talked myself out of being flummoxed. Kendall represents a cadre of folks -- bless their hearts -- whose criterion for being included is being agreed with. We've lived in that tension -- that dissonance -- for years and now that the Episcopal Church has pretty definitively come down on the side of historic Anglican comprehensiveness our mission is to move forward with those who are ready to claim, proclaim and celebrate that. And if others can't live with the "dissonance" then there it is.

Nevertheless, it (dare I say it?) .... Makes the Heart Sad.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Do Senate Republicans think they're in an episode of "Mad Men" for heaven's sake?

Come ON People! It's freakin' TWO THOUSAND AND TWELVE!! How can we even be DEBATING equal-pay-for-equal-work-for-women!! SERIOUSLY!

From the AP report: "The bill would have strengthened the 1963 Equal Pay Act by requiring employers to justify pay differences between genders, and making it illegal for bosses to retaliate against subordinates who share salary information with co-workers. Women are paid 77 cents for every dollar earned by men. That's an improvement from 1963, when they earned 59 cents for every dollar, but America can do better, said Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa."

Ya think? Ya really THINK????? Here's what Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) had to say:

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

BREAKING PROP 8 NEWS: 9th Circuit Court Kicks Case to Supremes

Marriage equality is 3 for 3 in the courts with today's 9th Circuit Court denial of an en banc rehearing in the case.

What next??? From Prop 8 Trial Tracker:

Now that en banc rehearing was denied, the proponents have 90 days to file a petition for certiorari to the Supreme Court, seeking review of the decision striking down Proposition 8. It’s likely that Justices at the Supreme Court would have their conference to take up the petition and decide whether to grant review or not sometime after their summer break in October. Oral argument would follow a few months later, and then a final decision would be issued by June or July 2013.

No one is certain if the Supreme Court would grant review of the case as it currently stands. Judge Reinhardt’s opinion for the three-judge Ninth Circuit panel is very narrow and the holding is specific to California’s unique legal circumstances. A denial of rehearing in this case leaves the decision California-specific and there may not be four Justices – the number needed to grant certiorari – who want to visit an issue that’s so limited in scope. On the other hand, the panel’s decision did strike down an amendment to a constitution of an enormous state involving a contentious issue. And allowing gay couples to marry in California would nearly double the amount of people in the United States who live in an area that allows same-sex marriage.

That's what the Prop8 Trial Tracker folks had to say. Here's what I had to say:
Today’s ruling by the 9th Circuit Court moves us another step closer to restoring marriage equality in California. Here at All Saints Church in Pasadena we would be delighted if the injunction was lifted so that we could once again equally offer God’s blessing and civil protections to all the couples in our congregation. June, after all, is the quintessential month for weddings and we would be thrilled to be back on the right side of history in struggle for marriage equality sooner rather than later. Whenever the decision for equality comes, however, we are convinced it will come because we trust that the arc of history does bend toward inclusion – and believe that today’s court decision helped bend that arc just a little closer toward ending the shameful chapter of discrimination against same-sex marriage in California.
Stay tuned.
Pray for Peace and Stand for Justice.

Monday, June 04, 2012

Q&A x 10: Top Ten Questions to Answer @ Gay Pride

Have I mentioned lately that I love what I do? I love that part of my job is to answer questions about Jesus -- about the Bible -- about the Episcopal Church -- about Jesus and gay people and the Episcopal Church. You get my drift. Anyway, in preparation for our L.A. Pride Festival this weekend, the brilliant, fabulous, thorough folks putting together the materials for our booth at the festival came up the following ten "frequently asked questions" and asked me to give them my best shot.
So here you go: Susan Russell's Top Ten Questions to Answer @ Gay Pride

1. Is being gay a sin?

No. We believe that sexual orientation is morally neutral. Sins are acts that separate us from God and keep us from loving our neighbors as ourselves. Being gay is not a sin. Bullying is a sin. Being hateful to other people is a sin. Putting yourself in the place of God to judge others is a sin. Being gay is not.

2. What did Jesus say about gay people?

Jesus said the same thing about gay people as he said about all people: God loves you beyond your wildest imagining and calls you to walk in love with God and with each other. He also said a whole lot about loving your neighbor, welcoming the stranger, embracing the outcast and ministering to the marginalized.

3. Does the Bible really condemn homosexuality?

The short answer is no; no it does not. The handful of passages in the Old and New Testaments that talk about God condemning specific sexual acts have nothing whatsoever to do with sexual orientation and instead with contexts such as cultic prostitution or gang rape. To put it another way, using the Bible as a handbook on human sexuality makes as much sense as using it as a handbook on astronomy. Just as those who wrote the Biblical texts couldn’t have imagined the science that would prove the earth actually revolves around the sun, so they had no concept of homosexuality (which wasn’t defined until the 19th century.)

4. How do I respond when people say "God hates "f--s"?

First of all, God’s nature is to love, not to hate. We believe that what God cares about is not our sexual orientation but our theological orientation – and that the question that matters is not “who do you love?” but “do you love?” Recognizing that homophobia causes some folks to project onto God their own fears, prejudices and biases against LGBT people, sometimes the best response is simply no response. It can be a challenge, but getting triggered by hate-mongers prevents us from being the change we want to see.

5. I thought gay men and women weren't allowed to be priests?

The Episcopal Church has been ordaining women to the priesthood since 1974 and we have women deacon, priests and bishops throughout the church – including two women bishops here in the Diocese of Los Angeles. When it comes to gay men in the priesthood, the issue is not homosexuality – it is honesty. The church has ordained gay men for centuries but finally the Episcopal Church added “sexual orientation” in the non-discrimination list in 1994 -- ending our version of “don’t ask/don’t tell.” Because the Episcopal Church allows for diversity of practice, the leadership of “out” LGBT and women clergy is more prevalent in some places than others. But the Diocese of Los Angeles is proud to have been in the forefront of inclusion.

6. Can I still receive Communion if I am gay?

Of course you can. In many of our churches you will hear a variation on the invitation “whoever you are and wherever you find yourself on the journey of faith there is a place for you here.” God’s love is radically inclusive and so is the Episcopal Church.

7. Despite what is happening legislatively, can my partner and I be married in the Episcopal Church yet?

The only accurate answer to this question is “that depends.” It depends on which diocese you’re in and whether you’re in a state that has civil marriage equality. For example, New York State is a marriage equality state. In four of the six dioceses clergy can both solemnize and bless a civil marriage and in one of them clergy can bless but not solemnize (a judge or justice of the peace has to do the civil marriage part). Here in Los Angeles clergy both blessed and solemnized same-sex marriages in 2008 when it was legal and our bishops have been in the forefront of working to overturn Prop 8 and get marriage equality back. As Facebook might put it: “it’s complicated.”

8. What do I tell people when they say being gay is a sin and a choice?

Tell them that Jesus said absolutely nothing about being gay but he said a lot of things about judging other people. Then tell them that while there is no consensus among scientists about the exact reasons that an individual develops a heterosexual, bisexual, gay, or lesbian orientation there IS consensus that sexuality is a continuum. So the “choice” is not to be gay, straight or somewhere in between – the “choice” is to build our own healthy relationships … and give other people the grace to build theirs.

9. Should I try to "pray away the gay?"

No. If you need to pray away something, pray away homophobia. Homosexuality doesn’t need healing. Homophobia does.

10. How do I respond when politicians condemn my sexuality, citing their belief in the Bible?

Remind them that the First Amendment protects them in believing whatever they want to about what God does or does not bless but it also prohibits them from using those beliefs to decide who the Constitution protects or doesn’t protect. Tell them to stop confusing their theology with our democracy. And then campaign for and donate to their opponent in the next election cycle.

BREAKING PROP 8 NEWS: 9th Circuit Court Ruling Due Tomorrow

The tweet from AFER (American Foundation for Equal Rights) came in just a few minutes ago and read:
So what exactly does that mean??? For that we turn to the Courage Campaign's Prop 8 Trial Tracker
Here’s where things stand right now: the Ninth Circuit, in a decision by a three-judge panel has affirmed Judge Walker’s decision striking down Proposition 8 as unconstitutional, albeit on narrower grounds than he did. Then, the proponents of Proposition 8 asked the Ninth Circuit for an en banc rehearing, to vacate their decision and put the case before a larger panel of judges on the Ninth Circuit. We have been waiting for the judges to decide whether they will grant the en banc rehearing and start the whole process over, or let the three-judge panel’s decision written by Judge Reinhardt stand.

Tomorrow, we will likely find out what the judges decided regarding the en banc hearing. If they voted to rehear the case, the current narrowly-written decision by Judge Reinhardt goes away and a new panel will convene, featuring a random selection of ten judges with the addition of Chief Judge Kozinski overseeing the proceedings. There would be new briefings and oral arguments in the case at that point, so the process would be long and drawn out.
The issues that would be at stake in a new rehearing would be: whether proponents have Article 3 standing as ballot initiative proponents to bring the appeal in the first place, and whether or not Judge Walker’s decision should be affirmed.
If rehearing is granted, the en banc panel could affirm Judge Walker’s decision, or they could reject it on the grounds discussed in Judge Smith’s dissent. After new briefing and new argument and new deliberations over the decision, they would issue a new and final decision in the case that could then result in a petition for certiorari (or ‘review’) at the Supreme Court. Depending on what the final decision ruled, it’s unclear whether the Supreme Court would take up the case or not.

Alternatively, tomorrow the Ninth Circuit could issue an order saying that en banc rehearing was denied. If that happens, Judge Reinhardt’s narrow opinion stands, and the proponents of Proposition 8 can then petition for certiorari at the Supreme Court. If the Supreme Court were to deny review, the Ninth Circuit’s decision would stand, and Proposition 8 would be struck down. Gay and lesbian couples would be allowed to marry in California. If the Supreme Court grants review, there will be briefing and oral argument and a decision next year.

Tomorrow, we will have more as soon as the new order is released by the Ninth Circuit.
So stay tuned. We now return to our regularly scheduled Monday. (And if you want to see the AFER graphic ... which is really helpful if you're a "visual learner" ... check it out here.)

Friday, June 01, 2012

Starting out PRIDE Month REALLY Proud ... of "Out of the Box"

It's been a busy June the First here in LaLa Land. Morning was spent down at L.A. City Hall with our Mayor and City Council launching "LGBT Heritage Month" -- giving awards to youth participants in the LGBT creative writing contest, listening to some of the history of L.A.'s role in the Gay Pride Movement and applauding our City Council voting unanimously to support SB1172 which would make California the first state to ban "reparative therapy" for LGBT minors. (see also: I LOVE L.A.!)

MEANWHILE the other big June 1st news was the release of "Voices of Witness: Out of the Box" -- the documentary project giving voice to the witness of transgender Episcopalians that I watched being shot in the Learning Center-turned-studio at All Saints Church and being edited in my study-turned-edit bay here at home.

It. Is. Brilliant. And I'm not just saying that because my wife produced it and our filmmaker friend Douglas Hunter directed and edited it. Seriously. It. Is. Brilliant.

Here's just ONE of the email "reviews" I got from the folks we sent it to preview just before release:
Fiercely, beautifully, compelling. Enlightening and comforting to ALL of us, even us heteros, who need to courageously live into our true selves, whoever that is and wherever that takes us.
Here's from the press release Integrity sent out for the launch:
Integrity marks the beginning of Pride Month with the June 1st release of "Voices of Witness: Out of the Box" – the groundbreaking documentary giving voice to the witness of transgender people of faith. Courageously inviting the viewer into their journeys, the film is ultimately a celebration of hope and the power of God's love to transcend even seemingly insurmountable obstacles. Produced by Integrity’s Communication Director (and my wife!) Louise Brooks, the film is being offered as a gift to the Episcopal Church as a resource for both teaching and transformation.
"Gender identity and gender expression are issues that can easily be misunderstood and cannot be wrapped up in a neat little box. So the goal of “Out of the Box” was to answer some of the most frequently asked questions and we have been blessed by a truly amazing cloud of witnesses who shared their stories and their lives with us. It has been a privilege to work with them to take this project from a dream to a reality as we offer their voices of witness to the church and to the world.” -- Louise Brooks, Executive Producer
"I believe God is calling us into this conversation now,” said New Hampshire Bishop Gene Robinson, one of the voices featured in the project. “It is an opportunity to get to understand another part of God's never-ending diversity and another way to live into our baptismal calling to love all God's children."
The third in the Voices of Witness series, “Out of the Box” was released on the IntegriTV YouTube Channel today. It will also be distributed to every bishop and deputation prior to the 77th General Convention of the Episcopal Church along with a study guide written by the Rev. Gary Hall.
So now ... without further ado ... I give you (Proudly!) "Voices of Witness: Out of the Box:"

[PS -- Be sure to go check out the comments on the YouTube page.]