Wednesday, February 21, 2007

From Charles Hill, a parishioner at St. Clement's, Honolulu, written in the early hours of Ash Wednesday
*****************************************
THE LAST RITES FOR A MAN IN A WOMAN'S FROCK WHO VISITS THE ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY
(It is time to call a demon what it is, a devil in primate's robes)

I think I want to wear a pretty flower print frock,
perhaps top it off with an Easter bonnet with all the frills upon it
then knock on the Archbishop's palace door,
and invite him to laugh at my expense,
show him a legion of lesions in my soul,
all what keeps me ever so sore
abandoned by church, nation, and home.

I think I want to proclaim a fast,
shore up my energy for all who have died unjustly in the past
because he wanted to kiss a rose
and she wanted to play basketball too much;
life's joys denied them
all in the name of a God they serve,
they go on killing us all the day long
strip us, burn us at the stake, take away our dreams,
make examples of us to shame our names for love,
call all our goodness wrong.

I think I want to don a fresh frock today
then stop the clocks and after veiling my eyes, weep.
What else is there to do to keep the peace?
I think I want to kiss the hand that feeds me,
kiss the lips of the salty lover at my side who frees me,
and with my best frock on rise to the occasion at holy mass, at holy communion
stand up for Jesus in high and low places
to proclaim

no judge or priest or primate or pope or Archbishop may stop me
from wearing a frock,
from stopping the clock,
from stripping away the veil of ignorance here and now.

So bless me, O Lord, for I have sinned
leaving so much undone that might have been.
I think I'm already buried alive up to my eyeballs
in this crock of clergy shit called
divine right of straight and narrow,
the right of the oppressors to suck out my marrow;
all of them cannibals of truly human soul,
they eat my heart while it beats
and drink my blood as it flows
and call their churchly judgments acts of compassion.

I have been damned to hell like Crazy Jane was judged by her Bishop,
hanged glistening, bleeding from barbed wire
like Matthew Shepard was left out in the freezing Wyoming night,
killed by the same Christians who with their Bibles open to John 3:16
beat my brains out until they ooze into the street,
there is no survival rate available, it's too late to count out thirty coins of silver,
there's always more to betrayal,
and they tell me over and over and over again,
as I breathe my last,
"There is hope for you because God loves you, but not what you are,"
and at last I join my brothers and sisters from the past,
free at last, Thank God Almighty,
I'm free at last.

And when I die please ask them for my body and bury me
or burn me, I don't care,
but put me down in my pretty flower print frock
and before you scatter my ashes or bury my corpse,
stop the clocks,
if only for an hour
because time never ticked for me in this world anyway
where I have had no power, no face, no name, no peace,
only moments of pleasure when I wore a flower print frock
to guide me back to a dream of a lovely place the world might have been,
to a happy home I never had in this life,
and
hope
to
God
will
be
in
the
next
world
to
come.

Let me rest in peace, please, finally, in my frock give me my last rites.
Glory be to the Creator, and to the Christ,
and to the Holy Spirit
as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be
(but please not like it was in my lifetime)
world without end, amen.

charles hill
honolulu, hawaii
February 21, Ash Wednesday, 2007
Ash Wednesday

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

"...for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.' Matthew 25:43-43

When I read the Archbishop of Canterbury's sermon at Zanzibar, I was greatly heartened. For him to speak to the issue of slavery and our sins of omission, it seemed as though his sermon held an underlying warning to make certain that the very same sins were not repeated. I still believe that is exactly what he was warning. However, it would seem it fell on deaf ears.

I know that when we initially founded the group - Fort Worth Via Media and also the Via Media USA - one of the primary concerns was that we not make this about the "gay issue". We wanted so clearly to be a voice for the broad middle, hoping that once our voices spoke in clarity that others would join in our cry for this Episcopal Church. Many in the founding group were not "pro-gay" per se. They were not sure of their own particular stance toward the consecration of Gene Robinson as a bishop in this church. We knew there were others who also were concerned about "homosexuality" yet wanted to remain Episcopalians in the Episcopal Church. We didn't want to scare off what we deemed as the majority that sat in that "moderate" middle group. I think that time is past and that many have firmly taken up the stance that we cannot be a church bent on following the gospel of Jesus if we cannot include every member.

I firmly believe that this whole mess is NOT about the gay issue -- it is about power and authority and who has it and who doesn't and who wants more of it. However, be that as it may be, gay and lesbian Episcopalians are the ones suffering. So, whether it is truly deep down about gay and lesbian issues or not, it is about gay and lesbians in this church. We are being used as the fodder.

I would like to say that I am firmly a part of the Anglican Communion. Honestly, in the past, it always 'sounded' classier than Episcopalian. 'I am an Anglican.' I didn't hardly know what it meant. Historically, I knew some of the facts. Mostly I didn't know anything. I do now. And one thing that is clear to me above all the facts, all the rhetoric -- clear as blue October skies in Texas -- I am NOT a part of the Anglican Communion. They told me so yesterday. They said it loudly, clearly. It is still reverberating in my heart and mind. I am not an Anglican.

The roots of this Episcopal Church are Anglican but just as this country weaned itself from its English roots by revolution, so was this church cut from its Anglican roots by the same.

I am saddened that the Anglican Communion cares not at all for me and for others like me. I feel as though I have been cast off, flung to the side -- a dirty sock tossed carelessly into the corner without even a thought as to who will pick it up, clean it and return it once again to its proper place to be yet used again and tossed aside. I am tired of being used and abused.

I am disheartened that the words of a relatively few highly placed primates sitting in a circumstance obviously far removed from the same people that Jesus walked amongst carries so much weight that the gifts of gays and lesbians in this church and the entire Anglican Communion are not just ignored but deemed unworthy.

I do not believe that our Presiding Bishop bought into this rhetoric. I cannot allow myself to believe that at this moment. Yet, should she tell me and others that we are loved yet once again, it will come as a bitter balm if there are words only and no action. We are wounded. A pat on the head will not heal us. It was never enough but it offered hope of a future action. It is time to act.

I am hopeful that Bishop Katharine will come back to our church and continue to lead us into a new and deeper understanding of the mission of this church. That mission, I firmly believe, involves recognizing by action that gays and lesbians are true and full members of this body. At this particular moment, the hope that she, the House of Bishops, the House of Deputies and the Executive Council -- all vital parts of this Episcopal Church -- will make a way for the gifts of the gays and lesbians in this church to not only be recognized but utilized.

We are wounded and we cannot wait one hundred years for this Episcopal Church to recognize that.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Fragile Communion

During this entire Primates’ Meeting in Tanzania over the past few days, I have sincerely wanted to address some of the many issues ongoing. However, anything I might have written would have been redundant or not nearly as innovative as Mad Priest, Fr. Jake, Jim Naughton, Elizabeth Kaeton, Susan Russell or the many others. And who among the journalists can rival Scott Gunn of Inclusive Church or the Rev. Caro Hall of Integrity or the Rev Colin Coward of Changing Attitudes? Their journalistic styles, interweaving the facts and the emotion were just so wonderful. Many thanks for their willingness to share with us all. So, not wishing to be inadequate, plus the fact life its own self just disallowed me the time to think of what I might like to write, I have refrained...until now.

However...now that the Covenant Design Group has issued their “Anglican Covenant Draft” I feel very compelled to ask one question: How is it that this “Communion” - so revered, so desired, so very costly to some, is SO very fragile that one or two provinces within it working towards what they perceive to be justice and God’s will can threaten its fracture and ultimate demise?

Ok, so one more question. How much more of our communion at home (i.e. all gays and lesbians in this church seeking God's will in their own lives) will be sacrificed to adhere to this new “Covenant” designed by these humans?

Thursday, February 01, 2007

A Texas Legend

For some reason, the passing of Molly Ivins from this world into the next came as a shock to me. Maybe it was because of the emotional turmoil of the past weekend, the unexpected loss of my partner’s brother, which left me vulnerable. Maybe it was the passing of a sane voice in a crazy world. Whatever the reason, I burst into tears.

Sadly, even she couldn’t keep the politics in Texas honest. The popularity of her syndicated column always made me wonder just where were those people who loved her on voting day. Surely if all the people who read Molly Ivins and agreed with her were to show up at the polls on Election Day, surely we would have a much different political scene, not only in Texas but in the nation.

If Molly Ivins held back from saying what she believed, I am sure there are a whole lot of people who are very thankful. She took no prisoners -- she did not favor one idiot over another just because one happened to be of the Democratic or Republican persuasion. She demanded that people use their own brains to think rather than rely upon what someone else thought. Endowed with an uncanny quickness and insight, she had no problem translating her sardonic wit onto paper. She gave us hope that there is intelligent life out there.

Molly, you are missed already. Hopefully, you were a mentor to others who possess your acumen and are ready to step into your role. Those of us who love you cry out “Do not go gentle into that good night…”, yet we know it is our loss and your gain. May your words continue to enlighten those who read them. May these same words continue to give hope to those of us who wonder on a daily basis, “Just WHAT were you thinking?” when one of our infamous politicians do something that is so contrary to the good of the people.