Wednesday, February 17, 2016

The Spin Cycle: Of Primates and Presidents

So the ONLY reason I would ever post something from Anglican Ink (AKA as the "Fox News" of Anglicanland) is as a teachable moment.

It's all about the spin, friends. In the above referenced article, the Ink folks are framing this as if TEC representatives going to a meeting they are not only elected but expected to attend is somehow news. And that would be because their earlier spin of the Primates Communique: that a slim majority of the Primates voting to excluded TEC voices from the ecumenical polity and doctrine dialogues under their purview equals getting booted off the Anglican Island. This is, in fact, a vast over-reach of their primatial authority aided and abetted by faux journalists whose charter is to make TEC look as bad as possible as often as possible before breakfast.

Stay with me.

How is this different than Mitch McConnell "framing" the fact that it is the President's job to nominate a Supreme Court Justice to replace Scalia as something to be challenged? Saying "the American people deserve a voice in selecting the next Supreme Court Justice" as if the American people did not HAVE a voice in the election of President Obama -- twice -- is nothing other than the same kind of desperate effort to spin the facts on the ground into the world as they wish it were.

Bottom line: Senators don't get to tell Presidents what their job is and Primates don't get to vote churches off the Anglican Island.

And if we don't call foul on the erstwhile journalists who suggest otherwise then shame on us.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Open Letter to Mitch McConnell

The sudden death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia sent shockwaves through the nation in general and political process in particular this weekend. Arguably more shocking than the death of a 79 year old man from a heart attack was the immediate "spin" from Speaker McConnell's office that (and I quote):
The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court justice. Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president.
Today's editorial in the Los Angeles Times says it concisely and well:
This is self-serving sophistry. The American people do have a voice in any nomination Obama makes. They “spoke” when they elected him to a second term that has 11 months remaining. His authority to nominate Supreme Court justices is no more diminished by his supposed lame-duck status than any of his other constitutional powers.
I am grateful for the friend who posted this link on Facebook to contact Speaker McConnell's office and giving me the opportunity to say:
Dear Mr. McConnell,

I was raised by Goldwater Republicans to honor our legacy as a constitutional democracy. I was taught -- and I still believe -- that with all its flaws our system of governance remains the best hope of representing the greatest number of citizens toward the goal of liberty and justice for all to which we aspire as a nation.

Raised with those values, I am quite frankly gobsmacked at your utter abdication of the Senate oath you swore to protect our Constitution against all enemies -- foreign and domestic -- expressed in your indefensible position that the duly elected President of the United States should abdicate his constitutional responsibility to fill the now vacant Supreme Court seat.

We are better people than that, Mr. McConnell. My Republican parents taught me that. Please reconsider your ludicrously partisan position for the sake of this country we all love.

(The Reverend) Susan Russell
Pasadena, CA
Do feel not only free but encouraged to go and do likewise.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

BREAKING: Justice Rolls Down Deep in the Heart of Texas

After what Bishop Andy Doyle described as "a nineteen year fight" today the Diocese of Texas overwhelmingly approved the removal of Canon 43 paving the way for the equal treatment of the marriages of same and opposite sex couples.

The vote was 499 votes in favor and 144 votes against reordering the canons to remove Canon 43 which read:

In his address to the diocese, Bishop Doyle noted that Canon 43 "has not kept anyone dissatisfied with TEC from leaving" and "what it has done is keep talented clergy from other parts of the country from coming to the Diocese of Texas." He also noted "this is not a vote for marriage or against marriage. This is a vote for mission."

And I cannot help but pause for just a moment to recognize how far we have come as a church to the day when this is possible "deep in the heart of Texas." I remember a day over a decade ago now when we were able to get an appointment to talk to the then-bishop in Dio Texas about the Claiming the Blessing initiative. That appointment was contingent on [a] there be no public acknowledgement that we had met and [b] being willing to come up the back "freight elevator" so as not to be seen entering the building.

What a difference a decade or so makes.

There will be more to say as the dust settles but in this moment I want to claim the challenge of George Regas -- one of our Giants of Justice -- and that challenge is to "set audacious goals and celebrate incremental victories."

We are still on the journey to the audacious goal of the full inclusion of LGBTQ people in the work and witness of the Episcopal Church and today's historic vote in Texas is a great big fat incremental victory worthy of celebrating. #BigTime

Let's start by sending Bishop Doyle an attaboy for his leadership on Twitter at @TexasBishop. Because today's actions, my brothers and sisters, are proof certain that evolution is not a theory -- it is a reality. We just saw it happen.

And then give thanks for the persistent and powerful leadership of those who have worked within the Diocese of Texas -- quite literally "an inch at a time"-- to make this day possible. I think personally of Laurie Eiserloh and Muffie Maroney who have been at this work since Jesus was in the youth group. Along with many others in the Diocese of Texas their faith, perseverance and commitment made justice roll down today -- deep in the heart of Texas.

Let us rejoice and give thanks for it!