Sunday, August 31, 2008

All Talk

The world has stopped as far as I am concerned right now. It has one name – Gustav.

My life began to make drastic changes three years ago. Katrina helped me define some of those changes.

I, as did the rest of the world, sat mesmerized by the horror that was unfolding along the Gulf coastline of Mississippi and Louisiana. Lots of unresolved issues lying quietly under the surface just waiting for the right moment to rise. I felt so inept, so useless. I wanted so strongly to DO something.

I never did enough to amount to anything. The empty feeling of doing nothing lives inside of me. Gustav is waking it up.

I am reading everything that I can read about Gustav’s path. The reports from Haiti and the Dominican Republic differ drastically from the 60+ reported dead by our US reports. Photos of the dead bodies are being taken for later identification and the bodies are then dumped into a mass grave because decomposition is happening so rapidly in the hot and humid conditions. The Guardian reports that there could be as many as 1000 dead in the Haitian town of Mapou and in Jimani (Dominican Republic) 350 dead bodies have been found with 400 people still missing.

Bishop Charles Jenkins wrote on his blog last night – his pain and unresolved “brokenness ” is evident.

This … thing…is affecting me so strongly…what affect is it having on those who lived through it…who had family who lived…or didn’t live…through it?

What difference does any of the rest of this crap we argue about matter?

What difference does it make? If all we are going to do is the same old stuff all over again, what difference does it make?

If we are defined by our actions rather than our words, what good is all of this?

Thursday, August 28, 2008

I Have a Dream
I too have a dream on this anniversary of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s famous "I Have a Dream" speech. That dream is that one day soon we will awaken from our self-indulged stupor and realize that "now is the time" to set aside all prejudices and to make "justice a reality for all of God's children" -- black, white and all colors in between, hispanic/latino/latina, female, male, gay and straight. We are all, each and every one, Children of God. And we are all -- not just men, not just white... but all of us are created equal.

When that truth is realized, then and only then can we sing, "Free at Last, Free at Last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!" Until that day, "we cannot be satisfied." There can be no compromise on justice.

Listen to the speech in his own voice here.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

August 26

Last October, we had the privilege of being in Seneca Falls, New York. I wrote the following blog on that day. I think that it is pertinent today to re-share it with those who are interested. It matters because today is August 26, 2008. On August 26, 1920, seventy-two years and one month later, the ratification process of the 19th amendment to the US Constitution was complete.

Nineteenth Amendment


Passed by Congress June 4, 1919.

Ratified August 18, 1920. 

Section 1: The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex. 

Section 2: Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.   

Find this article here.

While we may have "come a long ways, Baby", we have one heck of a long way to go. Personally, I am rather tired of being a second/third class citizen.


 

Seneca Falls, New York

Last Sunday (Oct 14) while still near Rochester NY, we decided to just do a little sightseeing nearby. So, we headed toward Seneca Lake. Our starting point was in Canandaigua, just south of Rochester and one of the ten or so Finger Lakes in the Finger Lakes Vineyard area of New York.

I saw Seneca Falls on the map and a little light bulb went off above my head. Seneca Falls. Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucretia Mott and a whole host of women. Seneca Falls, July 20, 1848. The Women's Declaration of Rights. We stood on the very spot where they and the men that supported them stood.

How sad that we are still not of one mind regarding equality one hundred and fifty nine years later. Realizing that women still cannot be ordained as priests or preachers in many areas of the world (including far too many dioceses within the Episcopal Church), understanding that here in these United States of America the Equal Rights Amendment still has not been ratified and seems unlikely to ever be and knowing that worldwide women's lives are in danger simply because they are women, it was rather disheartening to view the place where so much hope was held.

It makes it simple to understand why so many people remind us, as gays and lesbians, that our time is not yet come. Heck, if we can't even be considered equal simply because we are women, how in the world will a gay man ever be recognized as such? Considering the misconception that gay men are considered "girly" men and hated because they bring to mind that which is considered the "weaker" sex, it really makes one wonder just how in the world will equality ever come.

How much time does it take to understand that "love your neighbor" has nothing to do with sex?

And some still argue that it isn't about Power? Come on…

Friday, August 22, 2008

Ergo Ego Go

My feet are short, wide across the ball and narrow at the heel with really high insteps and arches. Thankfully, I am not really tall or very big boned. My feet do not have to carry too much more than these were intended to carry. Still, because of the size and shape of my feet, I have some painful moments of every day, especially from my left foot. This is all brought clearly home to me when I try to dress "up" for a special occasion, in this case, a funeral. Whoever deemed it a good thing for women to squeeze themselves into the various and sundry types of underpinnings to keep up this façade of a perfect body will one day rot in hell. The same thing goes for whoever decided that a man should wrap a piece of material around his neck and tie it in a knot. Why must beauty be described by some strange code of pain and discomfort? If beauty truly comes at a price, well, all I can say is that I am broke.

I cannot count the inordinate amount of time that I have spent in front of a closet trying to figure out what to wear. It is so extreme as to be truly sinful. Most of the wasted time nowadays is due to the extra meat that seems to have attached itself to my middle and posterior portions of my anatomy. Clothes just don't hang any more…these cling…normally in places I do not wish these to cling.

I like to look nice. I like my clothes to match my shoes (at least a near match) and for those clothes to look as though they belong in this century, style-wise. I like my hair to be as tamed as it can be, but on humid days, I take what I am given and give thanks. Some things I can do something about and some things I can't.

However…

I am tired of wasting this time. I am tired of not being comfortable. I don't want to be in pain inflicted due to ego. Mainly, it is taking time away from the things that are really important.

There is so much work to do and so little time. Having just returned from the funeral of a friend's father, this is so much clearer now than just a while ago. What difference does it make if our clothes match this or that? How can we waste so much of our time messing with our hair, our clothes, our egos…all the while it is never enough, never quite right. (at least for me) Why have I not been able to let go of all of this?

It just doesn't matter.

We labor daily for "the food that perishes". The will of God…that is all there is, seeking that will in the understanding that Jesus is "the Bread of Life", the only bread we need. I do not believe that the suffering that one might have to experience in a lifetime should come from ill-fitting shoes or clothes that are too tight or even the anxiety of trying to look "right".

The anxiety should come from the question – am I doing enough to help the children of God? Am I following God's will for me? Am I an instrument of God's Peace and Love? Do people look at me and see the face of Jesus shining?

Or does my partner have to listen to my ranting, raving and whining about nothing to wear or how crappy this or that looks on me? Or does our son experience the after effects of the crabbiness created in my anxiety over not finding the right fit or the right outfit? These things are not the "Bread of Life". This cannot be the will of God; rather it is the will of me alone.

My ego…my self…putting me before all other things.

As a blessed friend used to tell me…"It ain't always about you, honey." Sometimes it is all about someone else's problems. Sometimes it is ALL about me. But the point is this; it should never be that much about me.

Everliving, everloving God, Creator of all that is, seen and unseen, known and unknown, let me set aside all those things that make it about me as an individual. Let me strive to be a vehicle of peace and love and to let the face of Jesus shine through me. Help me to set aside the small ego-based issues so that I might truly seek to do your will.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

As I Watch From Afar

You just have to know that I am giggling. It is rather sad, I suppose, but then, living amongst this type of stuff for so long sort of warps a sense of humor, don't you know?

Here is the latest, sent out last night - a Saturday night, no less! So, for your early morning enjoyment, read on!

Sent: Saturday, August 16, 2008 9:42 PM
Cc: Bishop IkerSubject: Ad Clerum: Statement
To the clergy,

The following statement has been released jointly by Canon Charles Hough, Fr. William Crary, Fr. Christopher Stainbrook, and Fr. Louis Tobola in reference to the document released earlier this week concerning a June meeting between them and Bishop Kevin Vann.Bishop Iker and the Standing Committee have asked that it be conveyed to you via Ad Clerum. It will be sent to all convention delegates and alternates as well.
Suzanne Gill

+++++
From: Fathers Crary, Hough, Stainbrook, and Tobola
Date: August 16, 2008
To: The Clergy and People of the Diocese
We wish to emphasize:
1. That the documents and our conversation with Bishop Vann solely ever represented the four priests named.
2. In retrospect, we regret our choice of timing for starting these conversations.
3. We deeply regret the phraseology of the document which has caused hurt and division.
4. We remain fully committed to the goal of this Diocese, as plainly stated by Bishop Iker, to realign with an Orthodox Anglican Province.
Respectfully submitted,
The Very Rev. William A Crary, Jr.
The Rev. Canon Charles A. Hough, III
The Very Rev. Christopher C. Stainbrook
The Rev. Louis L. Tobola, Jr.

+++++++++++

Well, just what could one expect from one whose "theology hasn't changed" since he was nine years old (as stated by The Rev. Canon Charles A. Hough, III at an adult forum last year at Trinity Episcopal Church in Fort Worth.)

I bet they do all regret...in retrospect. Sounding like a good idea at one point...

So, now it is doubly, triply clear...the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth has no intention of becoming an offshoot of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Fort Worth. Rather, its intentions are to "realign with an Orthodox Anglican Province."

Big "O" orthodox?

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Still Hopeful as I Watch the Dance

In all of my thoughts about being hopeful or even optimistic about the outcomes of Lambeth, that is NOT to say that I think all went well.

It did…but it didn’t.

The idea…the hope of what might have been established was a good one. To talk and to listen…what a concept!

But as has been noted by those much closer to the whole situation, there is one point and one point only that negates anything that was good…Bishop Gene Robinson was ignored…no, not ignored but actively NOT invited. As a result, all that was truly good, all that could have actually happened was prevented by those too fearful of the presence of the Holy Spirit. They were afraid to allow her the dance.

I will not even begin to start on the pros or cons of Archbishop Rowan Williams. There are other blogs that are far more eloquent or erudite or eager or any other e-word with which one might erupt. My thoughts…he is extremely fearful. I would surmise, however, that when one refuses to speak out on behalf o one group of marginalized people for the fear of offending yet another group of people, then that one has a serious ethical dilemma.

Yet…regardless…I am hopeful.

Why am I hopeful? Because of some things I have stated in the past and because of the moratoria called for at Lambeth. What? Yes.

Regarding Moratoria – a period of waiting which deals with three issues:
1) Partnered, gay or lesbian bishops
2) Authorization of same sex blessing RITES – authorized by TEC or by bishops within their own diocese
3) Border crossing

TEC is already under our own self imposed moratorium on electing gay or lesbian bishops who are partnered – remember the odious BO33? So, we have that one covered. Plus one of the bonuses of the Indaba groups was that those bishops who thought of TEC as some wild maverick hell bent on having its own way were not aware of the fact that General Convention ’06 had already accepted a moratorium on both elections of LGBT bishops who are partnered and on authorization of same sex rites.

TEC has not authorized any same sex blessing rites. I don’t know if any bishop within any TEC diocese has authorized any such rites. The point being, this moratorium has nothing to do with blessing same sex unions. Nothing.

Border crossing – well, we all know about that one, don’t we? And we also know that it is not TEC that is doing the trespassing.

Best I can tell, TEC should be rolling in total approval by all who would criticize. We are far more in compliance with the mind of Lambeth than are many others. Including Jack Leo Iker who it is now known gave approval for several of his clergy to present a proposal to the “Holy See” of Rome to explore a partnership between Rome and the EPISCOPAL Diocese of Fort Worth. See Katie’s blog to read all about it.

You know, I just don’t understand this – how can this be seen as anything at all other than a HUGE attempt to grab up property? As if the Roman Catholic Church will be anything but welcoming as Fort Worth attempts to steal all the property built up by the Episcopal presence in the Diocese of Fort Worth? Wonder how many of these parishes the Roman Catholic Church will close and sell? Seems to be the current thing in that church – not enough money to hold open sagging numbers so the doors close and the property gets sold. Which parish first? Then who will get the money?

Doesn’t sound too holy to me. Of course, this is just speculation based upon current news reports regarding the Catholic (big C) Church. I am sure that Jack would disagree.

All this just goes to show you that TEC is doing all that it is asked to do by those outside of the Episcopal Church and others are doing everything they can do to sabotage any efforts of reconciliation.

Reconciliation, by the way, does not mean that two groups will get back together again. It only means that attempts to work out differences will be considered and transgressions (or trespasses) forgiven and then the two groups may walk separately for a time or forever.

Schism scars last forever in the history of the Church. Yet all in all, I still see the Holy Spirit dancing in and out of it all. So, yes, I am still hopeful, even in this last folly of Jack's. In his way, he is helping to speed up reconciliation. So, once again, I am thankful to him.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Giving Thanks

I am especially thankful on this spring day in midsummer here in St. Louis. It is rather amazing to this native Texan that a mid-August day could actually be pleasant, cool even

I am also thankful for the presence of Matt here with us. He is up from Austin for a long weekend but far too short of a time as far as his mom, Tucker and I are concerned. But we are truly thankful for this bit of time. He heads back to Texas today.

One thing for which I am exceedingly thankful is being in this Diocese with Bishop Wayne Smith as its diocesan. I want to write much more about that soon.

However, right now…I am going to go enjoy the last few hours of Matt’s visit.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Future Martyrs

I often forget fear as a factor of being a gay person. I don’t know that “forget” is the proper word. I am not sure that I have even felt it in that reference. That is not to say that I don't struggle with issues of fear...I do. Far too often I fear, but that comes more from a lack of faith or a constant nagging rather than a worry for my personal safety. In example, I fear our dwindling money supplies and this crazy walk in faith that is leading us into understanding just how little is “enough”.

There have been times that I knew I should be wary while being in a certain area or of little things such as holding hands with Debbie. Yet these things are merely a peripheral type of thought. Never have I been threatened because of being lesbian. I have never even received hate mail. (This is not an invitation for those who hate me to begin!)

People called me brave when I spoke up at the diocesan convention in Fort Worth in September 2003 and gave them a face to remember as they spoke so angrily against “practicing homo-sexuals”. Afterwards, I even had a lawyer press his card into my hand and tell me to call him if I had any type of problems from having publically ‘outed’ myself. I wasn’t brave because it never occurred to me that I might have placed myself in physical danger. I did what I had to do.

I am not naïve…at least not any more. I do know that there is a real hatred born of extreme fear constantly surrounding us and that some feel the need to live out this hatred in violence. Living in a land that kills its gay sons, Matthew Shepard and Larry King live in my conscious thought daily. I am well aware that no LGBT people are safe…ever…not even in our churches. Yet, through my privileged ignorance, I have lived as though I did not fully comprehend this fact.

At Lambeth, a gathering of Anglican bishops from across the globe, a place where people were meeting to pray and listen to one another, brought together by the desire to live as one in the Body of Christ…even here there existed that hatred so real that it became evidence through vandalism. The boxes set up to hold for distribution the “Lambeth Witness”, the newsletter put out by the Inclusive Church Network were vandalized time and again. Even there, in this place meant to bring people together in the name of God, a willingness to hold fast to all that is hateful lived.

With emotions running as high as these were and still are; with so much to lose at stake, there were people who risked their personal safety to be at Lambeth, to give voice to all the LGBT Christians (not just Anglican) from all over the world to a group of bishops and archbishops who profanely refused to listen to those they consider “less than”. All the folk from the Inclusive Church Network, of which Integrity was only one part, each one of them, strait, gay, bi or trans, male or female, black or white (and all colors in between) risked their lives that the united voice of all their sisters and brothers throughout God’s kin-dom might be heard. Some listened; some didn’t. Some heard and were changed. Some turned aside to see while others turned aside to keep from seeing.

And now? After all the tents come down; after all the tired bishops return to their homes; what happens to Rose Ngeri?

She is one of the people, a lesbian from Nigeria, who came to add her voice for those with ears to hear. What of her now as she returns to Nigeria, a country where it is a crime to be openly gay or lesbian? That doesn’t mean a crime to act on being gay or lesbian; rather, it means to even profess being gay or lesbian. It means to risk imprisonment to even associate with one who is known to be gay or lesbian. That includes family members, friends, clergy…anyone who sits to dine, watch a movie, hear confession from or even pass the Peace with a gay or lesbian. What fate awaits Rose?

Elizabeth Kaeton tells about Rose and the risks she took by coming to Lambeth to speak out. When asked what danger she might have placed herself in by speaking out, she told the one who asked that men are sent to rape lesbians who speak out. For gays, the punishment is torture and murder.

Do we get that? Do we understand that, people? She may go home to Nigeria to have a group of “men” ready and waiting to rape her. RAPE her.

While Lambeth was in session, Great Britain granted Davis MacIyalla political asylum due to the latest threat he received just before Lambeth began. MacIyalla has been the victim of many death threats and physical attacks.

This is serious business…So serious that people are willing to risk their lives to be heard. That is the stuff that martyrs are made of. Are we looking at future martyrs? Will there be a day in our Anglican lectionary that is devoted to the day that Rose Ngeri died? Or Davis MacIyalla? Or will there be one day set aside for all the LGBT Anglicans that have died at the idle hands of the Anglican Communion?

Is it enough that there was no “resolution”? Is it enough that it appears (from the blogging bishops) that the US church is resolute about maintaining a way forward? Not even close to being enough…

How can the Archbishop of Canterbury suggest that there be a moratorium on the election of gay or lesbian bishops or of same sex blessings by the Episcopal Church or the Anglican Church of Canada! Knowing full well how dangerous it is to be gay or lesbian in Nigeria, Uganda, and so many more African and non-African countries, he blithely stands there as though there was nothing major for anyone to lose if we just wait for a little while so that those who are not with us at this point can catch up.

Rowan (and and all others who followed his lead), I have a suggestion for you. Get down on your knees and beg forgiveness for having allowed people like Rose to have left England with no help from you. You are complicit in whatever happens to her simply because you worked so diligently (or noncommittally) for her and Gene Robinson to be sidelined.

Yes, I have been very naïve. I have pompously gone my own way, speaking out whenever I feel the urge to speak, never fully understanding that for others torture or death awaits them as they speak out against the powerful voices intent upon maintaining a status quo that conforms to their own personal agendas. I am complicit through my own ignorance.

I do not want to walk in fear each time I feel the need to speak out. Yet, if I do not acknowledge that understanding, what am I investing? I do understand that I speak from an extreme place of privilege. I can write, travel to new places to speak, rant and rave in my white, US citizen, lesbian privilege and suffer only slightly if at all.

But I will no longer be naïve about it. But for a pure accident of birth, I am here while she is there. I don’t expect to ever be a martyr for any cause but I want to remember each time I do speak or write that Rose Ngeri very possibly will be one day.

May God have mercy on us all.

Monday, August 04, 2008


To My Dearly Beloved Partner in Life


I give thanks this day for the birth of Debbie, for our shared journey in this life. I give great thanks to God for bringing me into her life and her into mine. I give even greater thanks to God for leading us both along this pathway.


Happy Birthday, my dear D. Happy birthday, my love.

love

forever

B

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Impacts and Impasses

There is a poll on the Walking with Integrity blog asking readers what we think is the overall impact that will come from this Lambeth Conference. The results at the time that I voted expressed a “somewhat negative” impact is expected over the next decade. I disagree. I think that the conference will help bring about a “somewhat positive “impact.

One positive thing I believe that this conference showed was the ridiculousness of those who are still whining about women as priests or bishops. Regardless of which provinces do or do not ordain women or consecrate them as bishops, the Episcopal Church of the USA does as do many more. This is an accepted fact by the communion at large. It is an issue to very few other than Jack Iker or Keith Ackerman. Regardless of whether others agree or disagree, it would seem that this is just a fact that they are willing to accept that some do; some don’t.

I also believe that the “blogging bishops” were a very positive aspect of the conference. From this side of the ‘pond’, it was it a fantastic thing to not depend upon the biased or empty headed so called “journalists” for news, but more than that, it seemed to empower certain bishops, giving them confidence as they shared their own thoughts with the world wide audience. I think that we (the reader) gained insight that has never been available before this conference.

I also believe that the ludicrous reports about gay and lesbian activists “chasing bishops” around and about make the ones making the statements appear as fanatical as they are. The idea that the conference has been seen by many bishops as achieving the very purpose that the Archbishop of Canterbury desired for it, that is, one in which the bishops would come together, study, pray and listen to one another, is fairly obvious. For that one or two bishops to claim that it was a waste of time makes one wonder why they came at all. Oh, that’s right…I forgot…vacation time for the family. I hope they all had fun. I wonder if anyone has checked out exactly how much the Diocese of Fort Worth has budgeted for the past few years for this little family vacation. And then of course there is the Bishop from Quincy…the diocese can’t/won’t send delegates to the General Convention but he was certainly way over yonder in England for this little shindig.

Still, I can’t help but believe that the presence and noise of those who thought that the Indaba process was a waste of time or who thought that a statement condemning the Episcopal Church have a few less friends and fans tonight than they may have had a few weeks ago. But then, I live in both optimism and in hope – optimism that people can change their minds as they witness the rabid nature of misogyny and homophobia and hope that God can change even the most recalcitrant hearts.

The presence of the Integrity, Changing Attitude and others group was phenomenal. The work that they did, the impressions they made, their impact was huge.

Bishop Gene’s quiet and unobtrusive presence, regardless of the silly news reports, was a testament to the unfairness, to the ludicrous nature of the entire debate. If you won’t talk to us, how will you ever know us? The only thing to fear is the incredible need for some to remain obtusely ignorant. Again, in the wake of his quiet, prayerful calm, those who oppose him only appear frantic and desperate. May God have mercy on them.

Basically, I agree with Sean Rowe, the bishop of Northwestern Pennsylvania. Overall, there will be a price to pay for the fact that there was not an official “teaching” resolution emanating from the great pontiffs of the Anglican Communion (my words, not his) demanding the castration or annihilation of all gays and lesbians yet as Bishop Rowe states, “it is a price worth paying.” My hope lies in the idea that whatever price that must be paid, it will not be a fee demanded once again solely from the LGBT population of this Church.

Pray for those LGBT persons in countries without bishops like Sean Rowe, Jon Bruno and others who are willing to speak out. Theirs will not be an easy life over this next decade. Hopefully, they will eventually gain by our belief in moving forward with the Holy Spirit.
Warm Words

I clearly remember walking into the sanctuary of All Saints Pasadena. I was there for my first Integrity Board meeting in October 2006. Already overcome by the sheer fact that I was a very long way from home, I was awed by the place, to say the least. The idea of knowing the voices that had stood in that same space and spoken out against all forms of injustice sent shivers up and down my spine. I knew that I was in a holy place where great things happened in the name of the Gospel.

All Saints is the only parish that I know within the Diocese of Los Angeles. I can only assume that there are others that are similar. Mainly, I know that reading the words of Bishop Bruno on the last day of the Lambeth Conference warmed the ice that threatened to form around the edges of my heart. I read his words after reading the Archbishop of Canterbury’s call for moratoria on same sex blessings and the consecration of gay or lesbian bishops.

So, it is with great thanks that I read the Bishop of Los Angeles statement caught by Jim Naughton at Episcopal Café on the last day of Lambeth (Episcopal Cafe).

“I can only say that inclusion is a reality in our diocese and will continue to be. For people who think that this is going to lead us to disenfranchise any gay or lesbian person, they are sadly mistaken.”

Thank you, Bishop Bruno.