Sunday, September 30, 2012

California Governor Steps Up for LGBT Youth

"Late last night, California Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law Senate Bill 1172, a bill to protect young people from dangerous and disproved efforts designed to change their sexual orientation or gender expression that have proven to inflict great emotional harm, which we believe to be child abuse."

Read more here

Saturday, September 29, 2012


From: TransEpiscopal
To: Susan Russell
"In honor and memory of Louise Brooks and with deepest gratitude for the support and encouragement offered by both of you in and through Out of the Box."
Just completed a three-day "strategic planning meeting" with a great cloud of Integrity witnesses. (more on that later.) Deeply grateful for hard work of claiming legacy of past while imagining new frontiers in the future. That and moved and grateful to TransEpiscopal for the gift of this icon as an outward and visible sign of the ongoing transfiguration at work in the Episcopal Church through the work and witness of those committed to proclaiming the Good News of God's inclusive love available to absolutely everybody!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

An Evening w/Gene Robinson at All Saints Church!

Friday, October 5 | 7:30 p.m.

In his new book "God Believes in Love: Straight Talk on Gay Marriage," Bishop Gene Robinson makes the case for same-sex marriage through the lens of faith and morality — helping readers to better understand why full marriage equality is vitally important — and why it is a violation of civil rights to deny access to marriage because of sexual orientation.

In his visit to Live Talks Los Angeles, he’ll address important, frequently-asked questions like: “What’s wrong with civil unions?” and “Why should straight people care about gay marriage?” … in a conversation moderated by actor, activist and All Saints Church member Bradley Whitford.

Plan to come and spend an evening with one of our generation’s most prophetic voices for inclusion and welcome Bishop Robinson back to All Saints Church. Details here.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Space Shuttle over Pasadena

[photo credit: Jeff from CPK]

I missed the shuttle flyover here in Pasadena which happened while I was in New York ... but here's a great shot Jeff @CPK got ... which he had displayed in the restaurant this afternoon when I was picking up my lunch and I asked him to send me a copy and he did.

Cool, eh?

Sunday, September 23, 2012

What Mitt Romney & Mark Lawrence have in common:

You know how Mitt Romney has that secret plan for America he can't tell us any details yet but we should trust him? Turns out Mark Lawrence has one of those for the Diocese of South Carolina, too!
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

We announced last month on August 20th that the Standing Committee and I were in agreement on a course of action regarding the future of the Diocese of South Carolina and the challenges many of us face because of decisions by the recent General Convention of the Episcopal Church.

However, for many reasons it was then and is now, imprudent to reveal that course of action. Things are progressing—we have not stopped or dropped the ball.

Please know that I understand the level of anxiety and concern of many in the diocese. Nevertheless I must ask you all for your continued patience and prayers as we seek to deal wisely and carefully with a fluid situation that requires great discernment and sensitivity on a regular basis. I will communicate to you the details at the very earliest moment such a communication is prudent.

Faithfully yours in Christ,
--(The Rt. Rev.) Mark J. Lawrence, Bishop of South Carolina
h/t Titusonenine

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Monday, September 17, 2012

Earth to Mitt Romney:

Away from the news all day I'm sitting here in near disbelief at the callous disregard of and utter contempt for 47% of the American people demonstrated by the words of presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

Ask my Iraq War veteran Obama supporting son if he's a victim. Ask my working overtime in the auto industry son if he's a victim. As for me, the only "victim" in this sad scenario is the truth that John 8:32 tells us will set us free ... Where do I order my "We Are The 47%" t-shirt, coffee mug and bumper sticker?

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Homecoming 2012 ... What WILL you do with your one wild, precious life?

Today was my eleventh Homecoming Sunday at All Saints Church -- I celebrated my 10th anniversary on August 1st -- and as always it was a grand conglomeration of festive Eucharistic celebration, food, fellowship and faith in action. Here are a few random snapshots:

And here's the rector's sermon -- arguably a conversation between Mary Oliver and Mark 8:27-38. The quote that's getting the most "re-tweets" over on twitter is: "Religion is for people trying to stay out of hell. Spirituality is for people who've been through hell."

Finally, in answer to all the "how are you doing?" questions all I can really say is "I'm doing." One thing at a time -- an inch at a time. As I told friends at dinner last night, the best analogy I can come up with is I feel like I'm waiting for the novocaine to wear off: everything is a little numb; everything is a little slow; everything is a little weird. And one minute I'm kind of OK and then next minute I'm totally not. And that's just going to be how it is until it isn't that way anymore.

I am more grateful than I can find words for all the love, support and care received -- and even more grateful for all the tributes and affirmation of Louise's life, work and witness. Of course I thought about that when Ed preached about our "one wild, precious life" ... and thought that nobody summed it up better than Michael Hopkins did in the words he spoke at her memorial service on September 8 ... words he shared on his blog which included:
Louise's great gift was enabling people who have no voice to have one. She took flesh and enabled it to have a word, and in doing so, justice was made. You might notice that is backward from "the Word was made flesh," but that is how it works. The Word was made flesh so that flesh might speak the word, or, to use another important concept from John's Gospel, The Truth became flesh so that those in the flesh might speak the truth. And when that happens we see glory and justice is made.
Happy Homecoming!

Friday, September 14, 2012

The Gospel According to Hillary Clinton

Let me be abundantly clear: There is absolutely no excuse, rationale or alibi that justifies violence against other members of the human family -- and faith based violence is categorically antithetical to the core values of ALL world religions.

That said, the events of this week in Libya, Egypt and across the Middle East call us to look at the reality of our interconnectedness as a global community -- and consider how and where we can be agents of peace, justice and compassion: the truly "traditional values" of all three Abrahamic faiths. Here's how journalist Joseph Hanania explains the challenge in a story filed yesterday with Aslan Media:
In what businessmen might call cross-promotion, Muslim fundamentalists spread the word about this Christian fundamentalist video. And Hollywood, with its multi-million dollar promotional budgets, could not have been more successful. As word spread, the video scored over one million hits. The results were just as predictable as shouting “fire!” in a crowded theater.

Amid the smoke, Muslim fundamentalists launched an apparently planned military attack. Four American diplomats were murdered, including our popular ambassador, J. Christopher Stevens, who had helped overthrow the Libyan dictator. American fundamentalists lit the match and tossed that match into the pile. Libyan (and other Arab) fundamentalists fanned the flame as cover for their planned 9/11 attack. The two groups had worked hand in hand to create this result.
So what can we do? Are we powerless against these forces of fundamentalism that infect all our faith traditions? Are we doomed to stand by helplessly as flames are fanned and fingers are pointed while God's dream of a human family as beloved community is unrealized at best and undermined at worst?

Not according to the U.S. Secretary of State -- who offered nothing less than The Gospel According to Hillary in her speech marking the end of Ramadan on September 13:
"Refraining from violence is not a sign of weakness in one's faith; it is absolutely the opposite, a sign that one's faith is unshakable. We can pledge that whenever one person speaks out in ignorance and bigotry, ten voices will answer. They will answer resoundingly against the offense and the insult; answering ignorance with enlightenment; answering hatred with understanding; answering darkness with light.”

"In times like these, it can be easy to despair that some differences are irreconcilable, some mountains too steep to climb; we will therefore never reach the level of understanding and peacefulness that we seek, and which I believe the great religions of the world call us to pursue. But that's not what I believe, and I don't think it's what you believe. Part of what makes our country so special is we keep trying. We keep working. We keep investing in our future."
This is not apologizing for America's values -- this is preaching them. This is the kind of leadership we need to debunk what Ed Bacon calls "the myth of the separate self" and instead build up authentic communities of shared values of justice, peace and compassion. This IS the change we can not only believe in but live into. And it is ours to choose.

So let us "choose this day" to proclaim the Gospel According to Hillary: to answer ignorance with enlightenment; to answer hatred with understanding and to answer darkness with light.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

In today's mail: City of Los Angeles Tribute to Louise Emerson Brooks

From Our Archives: Interfaith Peace Service

In 2007 over 600 Muslims, Christians and Jews gathered together to pray for peace and to celebrate the common heritage of their shared Abrahamic faiths. This video is offered today in the ongoing hope that the prayers for peace will overcome the calls for violence and we will one day become the human family we were created to be.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Whoever you are and wherever you find yourself ...

... there is a place for you here!

This video was just "launched" for use in our newcomer/welcome ministry at All Saints Church in Pasadena -- and I thought it WAY too fabulous to hide under a bushel basket. (See also: Matthew 5:16)

And ... just in case you're in the neighborhood ... next Sunday (September 16th) is Homecoming Sunday ... Join Us!

Reflecting on 9/11: Strength for the Journey and Hope for the Future

Ten years ago today I celebrated for the first time at the All Saints Church altar. The occasion was the first anniversary of what has come to be known as simply "9/11" -- and this is the reflection I wrote following that service.

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.

Monday, September 10, 2012

How can I thank you? Let me count the ways ...

While every day is arguably the first day of the rest our lives, some days are more "loaded" with significance in that regard than others... and so I want to start out this particular first day of the rest of my life with this expression of gratitude.

And if there was world-enough-and-time (being the well brought up young lady my mother hoped I would be) this would not be a blog but individual handwritten (on Crane's informal stationery) notes to absolutely everybody who surrounded Louise with prayers during her illness and surgery and blessed us in our grief at her passing.

So for her family -- for myself, for Louise's brother Fred and her sister-friend Julena, let me offer our profound thanks and gratitude ...

To all who prayed without ceasing ... in the blogosphere and at the bedside. We felt your love and support and I know Louise did, too.

To the phenomenal doctors, nurses and health care teams at the Norris Cancer Center and at Keck/USC Hospital. who did absolutely everything they could until there was nothing left to do -- and then with grace and abundant sensitivity enabled us to send her off with peace and dignity.

To the entire All Saints Church community for gifts too many to number -- prayers, support, space, grace and love. For mobilizing on what was arguably one of the busiest weeks of the launching-program year to make Saturday's celebration of her life so exactly what she wanted it to be that we shattered our own oft-repeated mantra of "progress not perfection." It was so perfect I don't believe even Louise would have had any "post-production notes" to go over ... other than to say thank you to everybody.

To those who dropped everything and came to be with us -- especially Michael and John Clinton, who are family in ways that transcend DNA; colleagues Lis Jacobs, Caroline Hall, Sharon Groves, Neil Thomas, Denise Eger, Joel Kushner, Ellie Steinman; Roland Stringfellow, Mel White & Gary Nixon; Jay Johnson; Lynn Jay; Mark Kowalewski & Dan Ade and so many others; Deacon Vicki Gray for blessing us with her ministry; Mary B and April; Kay Sylvester for her presence and prayer beads and for all the diocesan colleagues who reached out and showed up; my brother Bill who schlepped from Santa Ynez; Carissa and Pam for their incarnational and pastoral "being there" for us; Christina for her ministry of presence; Bear and Susan for sharing so much of the journey of this last 10 months; Susan for her ministry of healing and friendship; Rose for her faithful friendship to Louise and Julena over so many years and for remembering we all needed to eat something; Edna and Stasia for tending our confused Luna and Juno during the vortex and taking that anxiety away;

To those who made the service exactly what she wanted it to be ... the All Saints staff -- driven by Melissa and Zelda as the Liturgy and Pastoral Care "leads; Gary who did the amazingly lovely flowers; the reflectors who helped tell the story of Louise in the context of the liturgy: Julena, Jacqui and Michael; the readers who made the words of Steven Charleston and Ralph Waldo Emerson "come alive" -- Jim and Christina and Alma for being such a powerful prayer-warrior; Candace who sent the Charleston piece that was the perfect "first reading;" the musicians who helped us "pray twice" -- James, Liz and our dear friend Dr. Bobby Rodriquez; vergers, ushers, acolytes and communion ministers and Randy, the best thurifer ever; Ed for the heartfelt and "on message" homily and +Gene for being there in both words and spirit; +Mary for the power of her presence and prayers -- in the service on Saturday and at the bedside the Sunday before; all who stepped up and told stories and shared what they loved and appreciated about Louise during the reception; Chris for organizing every last detail of the reception and all who served, schlepped, and re-scheduled in order to make it happen and to Becki for knowing when we needed what we didn't even know to ask for.

To all those members of Louise's extended family who brought their love and support into the circle of light and love that surrounded those of us in her "immediate family" in the stress and grief; cousins Fred and Chris who made the trek from Colorado and Wisconsin and their families who held down the fort at home; Rose and family who have been "familia" to Louise for so many years; long time friends Arlana and Andrea and Tim who was with us in spirit from Seoul and Colleen and Kelli who were with us in fact. And a particular shout out to Leon and Jackson who she loved so very much and who carried Julena and me through the last few weeks on the wings of their love and support.

To all who wrote tributes to Louise's work and witness providing such rich tapestry of a life well-lived and cut too short. Cameron Partridge; Caroline Hall; Elizabeth Kaeton; California Faith for Equality; Episcopal Cafe; and many others.

To all who contributed in her memory to Integrity for the "Out of the Box" project or to Husky Camp for the rescue of at-risk huskies and malamutes.

Finally, to President Barack Obama for the Affordable Care Act that made Louise's battle with kidney cancer in 2000 a part of her medical history that informed her treatment in 2012 -- NOT a pre-existing condition that prevented her treatment in 2012. Because of the ACA, Louise not only had options for her fight with cancer -- she had the health insurance she needed to exercise those options.

And so today as we -- those who loved her most and still can't believe she's really gone -- spend this first day of the rest of our lives figuring out what to do next, please, please, PLEASE ... help honor Louise's life by committing to continue to make health care available for all as we live out Ralph Waldo Emerson's credo: "Give all to love; obey thy heart."

Saturday, September 08, 2012

Louise Emerson Brooks: This is to have succeeded

To laugh often and much; To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others; To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded. --Ralph Waldo Emerson.

A descendent of the author, Louise Emerson Brooks months ago selected this piece of his to be read at her memorial. It was part of the liturgy celebrating her life at All Saints Church -- and I wanted to share it here as I am overwhelmed with both sadness and gratitude. Sunday I will be back at church for a morning which will include the launch of Ed Bacon's new book "8 Habits of Love" -- a handbook for living a spiritual life from the house of love rather than the house of fear ... and a recipe for the kind of success Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote about and Louise Emerson Brooks lived. Finally, here's a link to the slide show of slide show that was part of the celebration of her life: photos represent the tip of the iceberg of a life well lived and cut too short.

Friday, September 07, 2012

"Give all to love; obey thy heart."

Surrounded by love and light, Louise Emerson Brooks died on September 2 from complications following cancer surgery. Born in upstate New York to Carson and Patricia Brooks, Louise was brought up in Richmond, Virginia with brothers Judson, Carson and Frederick. Raised in the Episcopal Church, her childhood rector was John Shelby Spong. Like her mother and grandmother before her, Louise attended the Rogers Hall School for Girls in Lowell, Massachusetts.

She fondly recalled summer visits to Los Angeles with her Uncle Hal – actor Hall Smith who played Otis Campbell on The Andy Griffith Show – and was “bit by the show business bug” at an early age. After earning her degree in theater arts from the University of Richmond, Louise moved to Southern California to pursue an eclectic media career in radio, television and filmmaking.

She landed in Santa Monica where she met her best-friend-for-life Julena Lind -- and they began compiling an impressive resume of shared road trips, board games, holidays and major life events. In 1980 she broke ground as one of the first women producers for ABC’s Wide World of Sports at the Lake Placid Olympics – and whether it was producing a radio talk show or daytime dating show, writing a screenplay or consulting on an international game show, Louise brought her gifts and skills as a consummate media professional.

Her credits included “The Love Connection” and “Leeza” – for which she received an Emmy nomination. A member of the Screen Writer’s Guild she also taught screenwriting and earned a law degree from Loyola Law School of Los Angeles. One of her great career delights was combining her experience as a producer with her love of travel in her work for Warner Brothers as an international format production consultant – work that took her from Paris to Mumbai to Kuala Lumpur to Santorini.

Louise found her way back to the church of her childhood, becoming an active member at All Saints Episcopal Church in Beverly Hills where she was a founding member of the congregation’s gay and lesbian ministry – and also served as a lay Eucharistic minister. It was in the context of that work that she met Susan. After knowing each other for a number of years as friends and diocesan colleagues they began dating in early 2003 – and they celebrated with great joy the blessing of their relationship … surrounded by friends and family … on February 18, 2006 at All Saints Church in Pasadena.

In recent years, Louise applied her vocational gifts to the work of media training and consulting for justice concerns, serving as the communication director for California Faith for Equality during the Prop 8 campaign and working with the Human Rights Campaign nationally. In the Episcopal Church she was a valiant leader in the movement for full inclusion for LGBT people and her legacy includes the Via Media teaching videos and the award winning “Voices of Witness” documentary series. She was extremely proud of the work she did when the IRS came after All Saints Church in 2005 and she counted as one of her greatest lifetime achievements equipping Ed Bacon to stay on message.

Her most recent project – “Voices of Witness: Out of the Box” -- was released in June and was influential in securing legislation to include gender identity and expression in the non-discrimination canons of the Episcopal Church. It will continue to change hearts and minds as it moves into wider distribution with study guides in both English and Spanish and a Spanish translation is in the works.

Louise’s passions included politics, travel and football; spending time with her beloved Luna, Juno and Baby; beating Julena at Scrabble, the Name Game or basically any game; and pointing out to Susan that the other freeway lane was moving faster. She was a loyal friend, loving sister and partner and faithful truth teller. She loved good wine, action movies, and using her gifts to make a difference.

Louise is survived by her partner of nine years Susan Russell and stepsons Jim and Brian; her brother Fred Brooks, his wife Joy and son Clayton; her decades-long sister-friend Julena Lind, her husband Leon and son Jackson; along with scores of colleagues and friends.

In our grief at her loss, we take comfort in the words of Bishop Steven Charleston, which will be part of the celebration of her life at All Saints Church in Pasadena on Saturday, September 8 at 11:00 a.m.
I rise to sing the joy of simply being human. I do not deny the pain I have known, the losses and the grief, but I will not let bitterness be all that I taste of life. There are too many sunsets that leave me standing still before their beauty, too many babies wheeled by in strollers that make me smile, too much love in the eyes I see from faces wrinkled by time but timeless in their wisdom. All of creation calls me to celebrate. All of life invites me to dance. Therefore I choose to carry my pain with head held high and walk the blessing way until the last lights fade.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Louise Emerson Brooks: The work goes on ...

As Louise was undergoing chemotherapy in early 2012, she completed her last major project, a video on transgender people of faith entitled “Voices of Witness: Out of the Box.”

In her final weeks, Louise had a strong desire to extend the video's message to Spanish-speaking people of faith. She began to fundraise in order to create an edition that had Spanish subtitles, accompanied by a Spanish-language study guide. We invite you to help us take her vision forward and extend Louise's vision and ministry to a wider audience.

On the Integrity website, you can donate to Integrity USA and designate the donation to "Brooks video production fund." This fund will support the production and distribution of OOTB in Spanish and English versions, along with their study guides. Thank you for your action in support of Louise's continuing vision and ministry.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

In Celebration of the Life of Louise Emerson Brooks

There are no words to express the depths of our gratitude for your words of support and love for us and in tribute to Louise's extraordinary life. We will celebrate her life with a service at All Saints Church in Pasadena on Saturday, September 8th at 11am with a reception to follow.

Please come prepared to grieve her loss, celebrate her life -- and to tell stories about the part of Louise Emerson Brooks that touched your life. That is quite literally what she said she wanted -- as the producer in her was very clear that she wanted a "production credit" for the liturgical celebration of her life. For more details call All Saints at 626.796.1172
For those who have asked about memorial gifts, two of the great passions of her life were the work of LGBT inclusion and the work of animal rescue. Contributions to Integrity will help support the distribution of her last documentary "Voices of Witness: Out of the Box" and contributions to Husky Camp will support the ongoing Siberian Husky Rescue that brought us our beloved Luna and Juno.

Integrity USA in memory of Louise Brooks
838 East High St. #291 Lexington, KY 40502

Husky Camp -- Siberian Husky Rescue
SHRRCA    303 Cameo Dr., Danville, CA  94526

Monday, September 03, 2012

Louise Emerson Brooks: 1946-2012

After a valiant fight and surrounded by love and light my Louise left us on Sunday, September 2nd shortly after 3:30pm. We are devastated and so very grateful for the tremendous care she received, the abundant prayers that surrounded her and for the peaceful and painless end of a long, courageous struggle.
Give rest, O Christ, to your servant with your saints: where sorrow and pain are no more; neither sighing but life everlasting.

Saturday, September 01, 2012

Today's Bible Verse for the Campaign Trail

Luke 16:10 "Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much."