Thursday, February 28, 2013

Episcopal Bishops Step Up for Marriage Equality

As Americans we pledge to be a nation of liberty and justice for all and as Episcopalians we promise to respect the dignity of every human being – and today dozens of Episcopal bishops put both that pledge and that promise into action by signing onto amici curiae briefs calling for the repeal of California’s Proposition 8 and DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act.)

Their actions are yet another sign that as a nation we are past the tipping point and that the time is now for marriage equality. As a life-long Episcopalian, a priest and pastor and a lesbian I could not be more proud of my church and of our bishops for their principled stand for justice.

Today was an important step forward for those committed to a Protect Marriage Movement that protects all marriages and to a Family Values Coalition that values all families.

And here in Pasadena at All Saints Church we look forward to the day in the not-too-distant future when civil marriage is once again available to all our couples and to the end of federal discrimination against same-sex married couples.

For more info, read the Diocese of California press release here

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

"Perpetuating Racial Entitlement?"

I heard it earlier today in a news report and thought I must have heard it wrong: Supreme Court Justice Anthony Scalia could not POSSIBLY have dismissed voter protection as "racial entitlement" -- Seriously??? And yet, there it was "Whenever a society adopts racial entitlements, it is very difficult to get out of them through normal political processes."

And all I could think about was how far we've come as a nation and how far we have yet to go until that "liberty and justice for all" thing is a reality and not just a pledge ... and about the price people like Jonathan Daniels paid to get us to where we are ... and about the responsibility we have to make no peace with oppression until justice really does roll down like water -- and righteousness like an ever flowing stream.
O God of justice and compassion, who put down the proud and the mighty from their place, and lift up the poor and afflicted: We give you thanks for your faithful witness Jonathan Myrick Daniels, who, in the midst of injustice and violence, risked and gave his life for another; and we pray that we, following his example, may make no peace with oppression; through Jesus Christ the just one: who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Speaking of the "out of control deficit" ...

I saw these numbers on Rachel Maddow last night, but here's the "picture worth 1000 words" to illustrate the reality of that "out of control deficit" that Republicans are trying to save us from by tanking the economy. Seriously, people. Get a grip!

Source: "The Deficit is Actually Shrinking Despite the Beltway Propaganda"

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Two Sources for Celebration in the last 24 Hours

The first one is this amazing video of the response Fred Phelps' "Westboro Baptist Church" protesters got when they showed up at Santa Monica High School on Monday morning to protest the school's GSA (Gay/Straight Alliance). Seriously ... give yourself the gift of two minutes of awesome witness to equality:

The second one I'm filing this under "it's never the wrong time to do the right thing" ... and that's the "breaking news" that a whole bunch of prominent Republicans -- including California's Meg Whitman who RAN on a "Yes on 8" platform -- have signed onto a friend of the court ("amicus") brief in the upcoming Supreme Court marriage equality case ... as reported by NBC News:

Once 'inconceivable,' Republican leaders sign pro-gay marriage brief
Supporters of same-sex marriage hope for a boost this week when dozens of high-profile Republicans, many no longer in office, submit their legal argument to the Supreme Court on why gays and lesbians should be allowed to wed, bucking their party's platform. In a move described by one scholar as “inconceivable” just two years ago, more than 80 Republicans have signed the brief to be filed in the case of Proposition 8, a California law banning same-sex marriage, according to the American Foundation for Equal Rights, which is waging the legal battle against the law. The nation’s high court will hear arguments in the case in late March.
Read the rest here.

Seriously. Not bad for a 24 hour news cycle!

Monday, February 25, 2013

What making history looks like in Texas

Busy Monday. No time to blog. Hardly time to check email. Check email anyway. Find one from Blake Rider with link to "first episcopal church gay wedding in the state of texas." Follow link. Find fabulous pictures of joy filled day of celebration and blessing. Take time to blog anyway. Life is short ... too short to miss the chance to celebrate when history is made!

Mazel tov, Anthony and Dennis! Together 23 years and now "blessed to be a blessing." May God continue to bless your love, your covenant and your journey ... and thank you for your witness which has been a blessing to us!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Giving Thanks for Thomas Merton

I am a huge Thomas Merton fan. I forget the process of how I became aware of him and his work but I remember the result: I devoured everything I could find that he wrote -- checking out book after book from the Ventura Public Library and reading them from the bleachers at the City College pool one summer while my boys had their swimming lessons. (This would put the time frame circa late 1980s/early 1990s)

Like Joan Chittsiter (for whose quote this blog is named) and Verna Dozier, his was one of the voices that gave meaning to words I'd heard my whole life, gave context to the call to live out Micah 6:8 and gave challenge to everything I thought I knew about what the church was intended to be and what I my life was supposed to be about.

OK ... enough about me. Here's the quote I found on Facebook this morning that dragged me back down Merton Memory Lane -- one which I wish I'd had when I preached my "both/and" sermon ("Fully Alive") a couple of weeks ago, but which will most certainly be working its way into one of the meditations I've got on my "to do" list for what's left of Lent:
There is a pervasive form of contemporary violence to which the idealist fighting for peace by nonviolent methods most easily succumbs: activism and overwork. The rush and pressure of modern life are a form, perhaps the most common form, of its innate violence.

To allow oneself to be carried away by a multitude of conflicting concerns, to surrender to too many projects, to want to help everyone in everything is to succumb to violence. More than that, it is cooperation in violence.

The frenzy of the activist neutralizes his work for peace. It destroys his own inner capacity for peace. It destroys the fruitfulness of his own work, because it kills the root of inner wisdom which makes work fruitful.

-- Thomas Merton, "Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander"

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

What do Barack Obama, Dick Cheney, Laura Bush and Colin Powell have in common?

What do Barack Obama, Dick Cheney, Colin Powell and Laura Bush agree about? Marriage Equality! (Spread the word!)

Friday, February 15, 2013

Making the Argument for Math Atheists

An "oldie but a goodie" this cartoon came to mind this week hearing about a college student struggling to "make it through the math requirement."

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Lent One and The Temptation of Scriptural Literalism

Luke 4:1-13

Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing at all during those days, and when they were over, he was famished. The devil said to him, "If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become a loaf of bread."

Jesus answered him, "It is written, 'One does not live by bread alone.'"

Then the devil led him up and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And the devil said to him, "To you I will give their glory and all this authority; for it has been given over to me, and I give it to anyone I please. If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours."

Jesus answered him, "It is written, 'Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.'"

Then the devil took him to Jerusalem, and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, saying to him, "If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, for it is written,

'He will command his angels concerning you, to protect you,' and 'On their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.'"

Jesus answered him, "It is said, 'Do not put the Lord your God to the test.'" When the devil had finished every test, he departed from him until a more opportune time.


I can’t even begin to estimate how many times I’ve heard and/or preached this Gospel According to Luke appointed for the First Sunday in Lent … and yet this year I had one of those “heard it again for the first time” experiences with it.

And what I heard – for the first time – is that the third temptation … the one that sends the devil off to wait for “a more opportune time” … is arguably the Temptation of Scriptural Literalism.

Seriously. Check out the passage above.

In the first two challenges, Jesus responds with quotes from Scripture: “One does not live by bread alone” and “Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him” – and the devil is stumped.

It is in the third one that the pattern changes.

This time it is the devil who leads with Scripture – trying to tempt Jesus to jump off the temple with: “For it is written 'He will command his angels concerning you, to protect you” and “On their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.”

And while Luke records Jesus’ answer as “Do not put the Lord your God to the test” what I also heard his year was “Dude! You’re not supposed to take this stuff literally! These Scriptural texts are powerful metaphorical language for the love of God that so palpably surrounds us that even in times of trial, challenge and danger we can dare to risk all for the Good News of God’s love, justice and compassion, knowing that nothing can separate us from that love and from its source. This isn’t about jumping off a roof, for Pete's Sake – it’s about changing the world! Now get out of here – I’ve got work to do.”

And there it is. After decades of reading, marking, learning and inwardly digesting this Gospel According to Luke, on this First Sunday in Lent 2013 I was struck with the divine irony that when the devil had run out of other temptations, he turned to Scriptural Literalism in his last ditch effort to keep Jesus from his appointed rounds as the rabble rousing rabbi from Nazareth.

I am confronted with how that pattern has continued in the church over the last two thousand years as it has succumbed over and over again to the temptation to confuse the Living Word of God with the Literal Words of God and has let the devil tempt it into using the Scriptures as weapons to defend the Institutional Church rather than as tools to build the Kingdom of God.

And I am convinced that we can do better than that. Just as Jesus refused to let the devil tempt him with Scriptural Literalism in the 1st century wilderness, we must resist the same temptation in the 21st – because it makes no more sense now than it did then to take the Living Word of God and misuse it as the Literal Words of God. Jesus knew that – and when he called the devil on it, the devil had no option but to “retire until a more opportune time.”

May God give us the grace – and the wisdom and courage – to go and do likewise. Because God knows we've got work to do!

Episcopal Church Convenes Task Force on the Study of Marriage

Truly honored to be amongst such an august crowd of folks called to do this important work. (And grateful the Presiding Officers not only for the appointment, but for moving this work forward.) Happy Valentines Day!

Presiding Bishop, President of House of Deputies announce 12-member Task Force on the Study of Marriage

The Episcopal Church
Office of Public Affairs
Thursday, February 14, 2013

Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and President of the House of Deputies the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings have announced the 12 members of the church’s new Task Force on the Study of Marriage.

Approved at the 77th General Convention in July 2012, Resolution A050 called for the creation of a task force of “theologians, liturgists, pastors, and educators to identify and explore biblical, theological, historical, liturgical, and canonical dimensions of marriage.” The group is expected to consult broadly across the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion, develop tools for theological reflection and discussion, and make a report to the 78th General Convention in 2015.

“The theology of marriage has evolved over time, with biblical examples including polygamy, concubinage, and other forms of relationship no longer sanctioned in The Episcopal Church,” noted Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori. “We no longer expect that one partner promise to obey the other, that parents give away their children to be married, or that childbearing is the chief purpose of marriage. This task force is charged not only to take the pulse of our current theological understanding of the meaning of marriage, but to assist the faithful in conversation and discernment about marriage, in particular what the Church might hold up as “holy example” of the love between Christ and his Church.”

“The Episcopal Church's theology and practice of marriage has changed significantly over the centuries, and we need to understand more clearly what we as a church mean when we use that word,” President Jennings said. “I am grateful to the twelve leaders who have offered their time and expertise to help the church have a wide-ranging discussion about marriage and respond to the issues raised by the marriage debate in civil society.”

The members of the Task Force on the Study of Marriage are:

The Rev. Brian C. Taylor, chair, Diocese of the Rio Grande
Carolyn M. Chilton, Diocese of Virginia
The Rt. Rev. Thomas C. Ely, Diocese of Vermont
Joan Geiszler-Ludlum, Diocese of East Carolina
The Rev. Gail Greenwell, Diocese of Kansas
The Rev. Tobias S. Haller, Diocese of New York
The Rev. Canon W. (Will) H. Mebane, Jr., Diocese of Ohio
The Rev. J. David Knight, Diocese of Mississippi
The Rev. Dr. Cameron E. Partridge, Diocese of Massachusetts
The Rev. Susan Russell, Diocese of Los Angeles
The Very Rev. Dr. Sylvia A. Sweeney, Diocese of Los Angeles
The Rt. Rev. W. Andrew Waldo, Diocese of Upper South Carolina

Resolution A050 is available in full here.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Ash Wednesday: Choosing a Both/And Lent

Ash Wednesday 2013: Choosing a Both/And Lent
We have arrived at Ash Wednesday again –
the entry point for yet another 40-day Lenten journey toward Easter.
We hear again the words as familiar
as their outward-and-visible signs etched on our foreheads:
“Remember you are dust and to dust you shall return.”
 On this Ash Wednesday,
as the liturgical season shifts from Epiphany to Lent,
we are called to make a shift, too.

During these weeks since Christmas
our lessons have focused on the “epiphanies”
of those who encountered Jesus along the way
and knew somehow,
at some point,
in some perhaps indescribable way,
that they had experienced the holy:
had experienced what a clergy colleague once called
one of the “Ahas!” of God.
And now our focus shifts,
as it does every year at this time,
from stories about those outward manifestations
of God's presence among us
to a more interior place
as we journey with Jesus
on the road we know leads to Golgotha –
to the cross –
and ultimately, to the resurrection.
And so, on this Ash Wednesday,
I want to call us to a "both/and" Lent
with my annual advice for the journey ahead:
Don't give up epiphanies for Lent.
A both/and Lent is one
where we refuse to become so inwardly focused
that we forget to notice –
to give thanks for –
to respond to –
those encounters we can and will have with the holy
in the next 40 days.
A both/and Lent
prevents us from succumbing to the temptation
to become so focused
on our own “journey with Jesus” that we forget
that as long as there are still strangers at the gate,
"walking humbly with our God" is not enough:
and reminds us that we are also called to "do justice."
A both/and Lent empowers us to
claim “justice doing”
as essential to our identity as Christian people –
as Lenten pilgrims and always.
And a both/and Lent gives us the grace
to pray silently to God
who is in secret,
and gives us grace
to proclaim loudly to the world
that our gospel call to do justice is rooted
deeply in our history as a people of God –
as we hear today in these words of the prophet Isaiah:
"Why do we fast, but you do not see?
Why humble ourselves, but you do not notice?"
Will you call this a fast,
  a day acceptable to the LORD?
Is not this the fast that I choose:
  to loose the bonds of injustice,
  to undo the thongs of the yoke,
  to let the oppressed go free,
  and to break every yoke?
Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer;
    you shall cry for help, and he will say, Here I am.
“Here I am,” our God promises –
ready to lead us through whatever wilderness we face:
to accompany us wherever the journey goes.
And on this Ash Wednesday 2013,
I believe one of the wildernesses we are being called into
is labeled “gun violence”
as we continue to work with those committed
to ending the culture of violence
in our streets and in our nation.
Another is called “economic justice”
as we continue to advocate
for those on the margins
who are most vulnerable
to the changes, chances and challenges of the global economy.
And yet another is marked “equality”
as we strive to live out our baptismal promise
to equally respect the dignity of absolutely every human being,
regardless of race or gender,
sexual orientation or gender identity,
class or culture.
If we are to be a people
who have bread to share with the hungry
we must continue to challenge those
who prioritize drone warfare over child welfare.
If we are to serve the God
whose fast is “to let the oppressed go free”
we must speak out when gay and lesbian families
continue to fall short
of the equal protection guaranteed all Americans.
And if we are to choose the fast Isaiah offers us this Lent,
we must continue to undo the thongs of the yoke of oppression
as we work for just immigration reform.
Because, my brothers and sisters,
my fellow Lenten pilgrims:
Now IS the acceptable time.

And may the God who calls us into this wilderness
be with us and bless us on the journey
with a “both/and” Lent
as we walk with Jesus
on the road we know leads to Golgotha –
to the cross –
and ultimately,
to the resurrection
and to new life.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

speaking of love ...

With Valentines Day looming, a couple of thoughts on love for today ...
"Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice. Justice at its best is love correcting everything that stands against love." -- Martin Luther King, Jr.

Friday, February 08, 2013

Just a little loveliness ...

... from All Saints Church last Sunday.

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Just Posted: Open Position at All Saints Church!

Know someone with a gift for connecting people with each other and with opportunities for ministry, a heart for the Good News of God's inclusive love and a boatload of energy for congregational development? Have we got a job for them: Associate for Congregational Development at All Saints Church in Pasadena. Job description and details here. Help us spread the word!

Associate for Congregational Development

All Saints Church, a progressive, inclusive and dynamic 4,000-member Episcopal church is seeking to hire a full-time Associate for Congregational Development.

All Saints Church is in the urban center of Pasadena, California, and a presence in regional Los Angeles. It has a long history of interfaith relationships and an ongoing commitment to local, national and global issues of peace and justice. It strives to follow God’s prophetic call to live out God’s inclusive love through Spirituality, Community and Peace & Justice.

The Associate for Congregational Development will be responsible for:

• Developing, monitoring and maintaining systems for:

o Inviting and welcoming new members;

o The engagement and tracking of every member;

o The training, retention, nourishing and rotation of parish leadership;

• Analyzing trends in parish/church life and national life;

• Small groups ministry;

• Parish Life ministries and activities;

• Vocational discernment and life skills offerings for members;

• Identifying, training and coordinating volunteers;

• Leading the stewardship/development/grant writing and incorporation functions.

The position requires the following:

• Excellent skills in organizing people and administering programs;

• The ability to cultivate leadership and inspire others to action and reflection;

• The ability to work cross-culturally and collaboratively;

• The ability to train, supervise and support both staff and volunteers;

• Experience in administration and in managing a budget, i.e., the ability to query basic data into useful information;

• Experience in Development, fundraising and/or grant writing;

• Excellent oral and written communication skills and knowledge of PC computer systems;

• Experience with tracking information using databases;

• The ability to work collegially in a large staff;

• A warm, welcoming, supportive, innovative, open, flexible and playful nature.

The Associate for Congregational Development must be present for Sunday services and for all special events. Although not required, bilingual (Spanish/English) communications skills are highly desirable.

We are interested in someone who eagerly embraces the values that All Saints has of promoting children and youth ministries, of a commitment to peace and justice, of blessing same-sex covenants, of transforming church and culture through a multicultural lens and of providing interfaith leaders for our time. Being committed to an ongoing process of multiculturalism, we encourage applications from women, persons of color, and gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons. We are an equal opportunity employer.

We are open to applications from clergy and from lay persons.

Full benefits, including health and dental insurance and pension, are provided. If you are interested, please send your résumé and a letter about yourself to:

Christina Honchell
Or FAX: 626.584.4237
Or email: (Word or PDF documents only)

All Saints Church
132 North Euclid Ave.
Pasadena, CA 91101

No phone calls, please. Deadline for receipt of materials: February 28, 2013


This morning’s announcement that the Boy Scouts of America “need more time” to make a decision about ending discrimination against gay scouts and leaders is deeply disappointing. It not only lets down gay youth who are looking to the Boy Scouts to walk the talk of their diversity statement (“Scouts come from all walks of life, all types of family units, faiths, and racial and ethnic groups”) it also betrays the Scout oath “to help other people at all times” inserting a asterisk after “other people*” that reads *unless they are gay kids wanting to experience the gifts that Scouting offers.”

Over a decade ago at its 2000 General Convention the Episcopal Church adopted a resolution to “Encourage the Boy Scouts of America to allow membership to youth and adult leaders irrespective of their sexual orientation.” And now the Boy Scouts “need more time” to send the message to young gay American kids that they are just as loved, valued and important as their straight friends and neighbors? The time is now to end discrimination against our kids – and fair minded Americans need to step up, speak out, and drown out the voices of those marginalizing and excluding gay youth from Scouting. Justice delayed IS justice denied – and both our kids and our country deserve better!

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

BREAKING NEWS: Pentagon to extend (some) benefits to same sex military spouses!

This just in from the Washington Post:

The Pentagon has decided to extend certain benefits to the spouses of gay and lesbian personnel, according to officials and people notified about the decision, responding to the increasingly vocal appeals of same-sex couples in the military.

The military expects to announce the decision later this week.

Read the rest here

What a wonderful andidote to this awful story from yesterday about the wife of a solidier killed in Afghanistan who couldn't even get back the wedding ring from her dead wife because they were a same sex couple:

When her spouse was killed in Afghanistan, Tracy Johnson drove across town to her mother-in-law’s house — clutching her marriage certificate — so she could hear the Army’s formal notification. No one from the military came to her door.

She later watched as the American flag that cloaked the coffin of her spouse, Donna Johnson, was offered, not to her, but to Donna Johnson’s mother – the next of kin, as U.S. law stipulates. She was denied death benefits, she said, that are standard issue to heterosexual spouses of service members who die in action: free health care, tuition assistance, and monthly indemnity compensation of about $1,200.

And then there was the ring. On Valentine’s Day 2012, Tracy Johnson placed that band on her wife's finger during their marriage ceremony in Washington, D.C. Last October, as Johnson escorted her wife's body home from Dover Air Force Base, the Army asked Johnson to carry the wedding ring, designated as a “personal effect.” After arriving in Fayetteville, N.C., Johnson was obliged, by a federal statute, to deliver the ring to an Army officer who then provided it to Donna Johnson’s mother who, in turn, gave it back to Tracy Johnson. She wears it on her finger today.

Read that one here ... and give thanks that the arc of history appears to be bending just a LITTLE closer to justice.

Saturday, February 02, 2013

Yes ... I said "Mississippi!"

Missed this "Breaking news" yesterday from our friends over at Episcopal Cafe ... but it's never to late to share good news!!
According to CJ Meaders @cjmeadersiii, live blogging the Annual Council #diomscouncil of the Diocese of Mississippi, the Rt Rev Duncan Gray has announced that he will give permission for use of the same sex blessing rite in the diocese. He also called for the election of a co-adjutor: (Read up from bottom of stream:)

"I have chosen to take this step so that the deep emotion can be born by me and not at the outset of new episcopacy" B. Gray

Re: optional same-sex liturgy..."No congregation or clergy will be asked to betray their conscience."

"There will be trial and provisional use of the Liturgy for same sex blessings in our diocese."

Bishop Gray: "I am formally and officially calling for a Bishop Coadjutor"
So there you have it. And good for him! Anybody so inclined to drop Bishop Gray a note and thank him I suggest you act on that inclination right now ... Lord knows he'll be hearing from folks on "the other side of the aisle" (as we speak, heads appear to be exploding over at Stand Firm) and it's never a bad time to exercise a ministry of encouragement! Click here to send an email to Bishop Gray's office. Go ahead. Do it. Now. (Seriously!!) You'll be glad you did! :)

Friday, February 01, 2013

ONE BILLION RISING to end violence against women

February 14 is a global day of awareness to end violence against women -- the brainchild of Eve Ensler (of Vagina Monlogues fame) and All Saints Church is honored to stand with ONE BILLION RISING. Check it out:

SOOOO proud of my All Saints colleagues for putting this together! Help us spread the word!