Sunday, September 30, 2007

The Point

Yes, of course I read it (the HoB New Orleans statement) along with many of the hurt and confused responses of sisters and brothers throughout the Communion and our LGBT tribe.
But a fall cold and real life (more on that later) kept me very much occupied elsewhere.

Time and distance from engaging with post New Orleans blogdom brought an interesting insight- for me at least. An insight informed by years of dharma study and practice as much as by the work on ‘process’ by Margaret Wheatley PhD.

Yes I was hurt and dismayed, yes I shook my head over the essential impotent irrelevance of the New Orleans offering., but the longer I sat with the experience, the clearer it became. The whole thing had to be what it was because of where they started out: a place of re-acting instead of a place of acting.

And let me be clear here- I am neither criticizing or blaming the HoB. With all the noise and acrimony of the past many months they would have had to shut themselves away for a lot longer for any other sort of outcome.
And thank God indeed there's still the rest of TEC & House of Deputies to balance the New Orleans statement!

To understand what I'm talking about, it is perhaps necessary to revisit a term I've used in this space previously, and which has earned me a certain amount of criticism. 'Bullies of the patriarchy' I believe speaks not only to the real issues at stake, but to the behaviour of many I would associate with that moniker.

Bullying is rarely ever about what it claims to be ie.
fear of the open vulnerability to both God and life which is the vocation of
every Christian.
Bullying breaches the norms and conventions of the
ie. storming out of one of the most sacred rites of our
Communion, the Primatal Holy Eucharist at Dar Es Salam.
resorts to a continually escalating vocabulary of threats and accusation which
is a non-stop denial of the essential humanity, experience and grace of its
Bullying’s charges can never be effectively met or satisfied, as its
real agenda is never admitted
(see The Chapman Memo nefariously written
back in 2003).
Bullying can never be satisfied as the essential
dishonesty of its attack requires a continual escalation and shifting of its
and need I say it?
Bullying is always an expression of a lack of emotional
intelligence, spiritual maturity and experience.

But to get back to my point about The Point.

One of the most valuable gifts the dharma has brought me has been some insight into the important and essential difference between acting and re-acting. An insight I might add which came in the rawest days of our local fight against AIDS, with friends and clients sometimes dying daily.

Re-acting always

limits any subsequent discussion or peace-making to the vocabulary and context
established by the bullies.
is implicitly incapable of including the experience and understanding of the party under attack
will always fail to satisfy either party, as it is always speaking to the past ie. earlier charges rather than the current situation & fails to call forth the bullies real

disengages, while owning both the charges of the bully and the experience of
being bullied
practices prayerfully (ie be still and know that I am God) until the deeper truth, experience and understanding of the real situation are gained, at the same time disengaging from one’s own instinctual responses
speaks or acts only from that larger place ie: taking the whole
exercise outside the area of violence and accusation, addressing both the shared
humanity of all parties and once again opening the discussion to God’s grace.

Of course I wasn’t there in New Orleans, so can only read the outcome and the pain and confusion of my brothers and sisters in Christ. But the bottom line appears to be that no one was ‘satisfied’ and the essential process our Communion is going through right now wasn’t advanced a centimetre- on the contrary judging by the reaction of the patriarchy.

Yes, I shook my head, but I also felt real sadness for our brothers and sisters wearing the onerous mantle of the Episcopacy in the American Church.
By re-acting, with the best of intentions no doubt, and only after they themselves had gone through the same agonizing long months we’ve all traversed since Dar-Es-Salam, they essentially found themselves implicitly having to overlook much of what has gone on in that same period of time:

Primatal poaching from outside TEC
irregular consecrations of more bishops
than I need to see
the damning of duly consecrated primates, bishops, priests
and the lay baptized including my radiant LGBT brothers and sisters of
too many of the resources of the Communion squandered on these ‘issues’
while the holocaust of AIDS continues to spread, wars wage and whole societies
unravel under the curse of poverty.

So it was inevitable that we all came away from the latest exercise shaken, sore and still hungry for the bread of heaven.

Unfortunately New Orleans couldn’t be anything more than it was, when the discussions were framed by the deadline and conditions established by the statement of Dar-Es-Salam.

So what’s the alternative model ?

Might I risk sounding simplistic (once again some might add) by suggesting it be that of our sweet Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ who Himself ‘drew apart’ regularly as Scripture tells us.

One of the many dharma teachers who has nourished my practice over the years speaks ’three breathes.’ Taking time ie enough breathes to get beyond whatever might be coming at us, enabling us to respond in the larger unconditional openness of the ‘now’ rather than in the dead history which lead to the original attack or accusation.

What did I expect/pray for/hope for?

Nothing short of sheer radiance!

A statement which would have established the example and teachings of Jesus Christ as the first and only principle of the exchange.

A statement which would not have wasted time or energy trying to accommodate a problematic resolution which is already effectively dead-in-the-water.

A statement which would have admitted the need for God’s grace and patience as the HoB was not of one mind on all things.

A statement which would not have contradicted or compromised the final declarations of its communique.

Only then could the meetings of TEC have stood as proof that their discussions were
outside the ‘fist’ of the bully,
a true reflection of the path that TEC has walked, and the grace they have known in their efforts to be a true embodiment of Christ’s loving vocation for humanity,
witness to glorious outcome of Christ’s Incarnation, Christ’s crucifixion and yes, Christ’s resurrection ,
only then could the current discussions have been truly taken beyond the place of accusation, acrimony and condemnation.

Once again, you have my full permission to call me simplistic, but I’d offer a parallel example.

Earlier this week, at work, I was given an opportunity to work with a colleague who was buying-into a series of continually escalating exchanges and accusation about ‘fairness’ & ‘responsibility’ with another colleague.
Both parties are basically decent human beings, each who at different times have confided in me some of their personal baggage and the resulting behaviour patterns.
‘You know you still have a choice in all of this’ I reminded Jenny, bringing her up short in her list of complaints. ‘You can still decide wether or not to buy into this game, or owning your feelings and personal history, to step outside into something larger. The choice of how you will spend your next breath is still yours.’
Of course our discussion didn’t end with my suggestion, but one thing did change, and that was Jenny. Instead of returning to her cubicle and firing off another re-active e-mail or shouting her response over their common wall, she chose to not return to her work space until we had talked the whole thing out and she was ready to get on with the real reason she turned up each day- the work awaiting her.
And when she didn’t respond?
Jenny and her colleague eventually talked about the specific work issue which had been the grounds of the latest aborted round. When her colleague tried carrying it further, turning it into a personal attack, Jenny simply disengaged- citing her ringing phone.
It may not happen next time, but it did then, and that’s some sort of a start.

And thankfully, our blessed Communion is further along than Jenny.

Personally, I’d most readily refer to all of the radiant voices of inclusiveness within the Communion which continue to nourish, bless and inform me daily. You know who you are.

I would also take great hope from the existence of the House of Deputies within TEC, the structure of our own Canadian Synod, and similar structures throughout the Communion.

Then there’s the courageous embodiment of grace in the insistence by our countless LGBT sisters and brothers in faith, of their full inclusion in that same Communion, through God’s grace and the rite of baptism.

But there’s also the unwavering assurance that ‘God so loved the world that S/He gave His only begotten son Christ Jesus’

Thankfully this is not our Church, our Truth, or even our issue that our beloved Communion is undergoing at the present time.

Unfortunately, too often in the past, too much Christian history has been one of ever- escalating action and re-action; a direct result of the dualistic-thinking necessary for the establishment of the patriarchy which for too long imposed its fears and insecurity on Christian practice.

But through God’s unfailing grace and the living contradiction to patriarchal dualism we LGBT people of faith embody at this time, Christ’s Church is once again being called out of fear, to be the radiant embodiment of God’s love which has always been it’s true vocation.

To act (embody Christ Jesus in the world)
rather than re-act in the realm and vocabulary of fear.
the choice is always ours.

A new day...

But for this to happen, the ‘listening process’ becomes more essential than ever.

Not just whatever forums and ‘public processes’ individual dioceses and provinces may offer, but every blessed life, every blessed voice within the Communion- and none more or less so than my radiant, blessed LGBT sisters and brothers- each and every one of you.

LGBT lives - LGBT grace - essential - yes essential to the life and future of the Anglican Communion.
Who would have ever imagined the day?
But that is exactly where we are now.
Dare I say it? Praise God!

All we have to do is show up- be still and know that I am God, to quote scripture.

The Communion may rend- no make that- the Communion may be rent. But it will still be the Communion, working its way back to the inclusive wholeness God has always wanted for all of Creation & the Church.

So what are we supposed to be afraid of in the long run? Nothing comes to mind... because this is not just our process of growth beyond fear, not just our growth in grace, this is not just our Communion.

It never was. Thank God.


Saturday, September 22, 2007

++Rowan, who else

Is this man for real?

I'm referring to ++Rowan aka His Grace, Archbishop of Canterbury of course, the same individual who has remained silent to all appearances during raids on American dioceses, during the consecrations of irregular 'missionary bishops,' and during the firestorm of invective raining on the American Church and two individuals in particular, whom I honour as a sister and brother in Christ Jesus.

'In response to a question about the significance of his brief visit, Archbishop Williams said it "probably would not make much difference on the whole,""

Duh? This is his best shot at responding to all the noise and nastiness that’s been going on?

Is this speaking hope to the regular decent human beings who faithfully turn up most Sundays to take their place in the pew, hoping for some semblance of sanity, for something which speaks to the complex reality of their every-day lives?

Is this pastoral care for the millions of LGBT Anglicans ( both known and unknown) who courageously refuse to default on Christ’s call to each of them personally, as people of faith, as baptized Anglicans?

Is this reaching out to all of the African Anglican’s ‘under the radar’ whose lives are a daily struggle with AIDS, poverty and the political realities in countries like Zimbabwe?

This isn’t even the proverbial bad parent handing out stones instead of living bread. This is positive neglect.

And unfortunately it doesn’t end there...

Quoting from the Integrity USA blog ‘Walking with Integrity’

‘I asked +Rowan what word of hope he had for the gay and
lesbian baptized. He repeated assurances of the communion’s stated opposition to
discrimination against gay and lesbian persons. I followed up and asked whether
that opposition to discrimination applied to the world outside the church but
not within the church.
He answered it was a matter of how people perceived a
person’s "choice of a style of life" and how that affected what level of role
that person was "eligible for" within the church. (‘Choice’ of a ‘lifestyle.’
Flashback to the 70s.) He also said 'we’re concerned with the appropriate limits
of pastoral response to gay and lesbian people'.

‘Choice of style of life’?

What century is this man living in? Sorry ++Rowan you're well on the way to making yourself just about as relevant as the current incumbent of the Chair of Peter.

Has the man even heard of the word ‘science’? Of the anthropological work on the unique and essential roles LGBT men and women have played through-out human history? Of the pathology called ‘homophobia’ and of its common-cause links to misogyny, racism and violence? Of the embodiment of same-gender relationships within the creature kingdoms?

Dear brother ++Rowan, listen closely please...

My being born gay is nothing short of a gift from the hands of the one true living God.

It’s not a mistake.

It’s not a genetic error,
and yes, it is a part of God alive and working in Creation.

My baptism and confirmation within our Church is equally unblemished as yes, even yours- and like yours it is only through the grace of our Lord Christ Jesus.

And yes, I’ll say it, the presence of my LGBT brothers and sisters within the wondrous work-of-grace which our Communion is called to be is just as essential as yours, as ++Peter’s, as that of all those who have stormed from the sanctuary of the Episcopal Church in America.

Do the math ++Rowan, it is the same grace which made me a gay man in the image and likeness of God which baptized, confirmed and calls me daily to be a living wintness and embodiment of Christ's love and healing grace.

‘Style of life’?

The creation of my LGBT brothers and sisters as LGBT children of God is not one jot less wondrous, less challenging, less valuable, less joyous and less essential, than those of my straight sisters and brothers.

And one more thing brother ++Rowan aka ‘Beloved Rowan.,’ ‘The appropriate limits of pastoral response to gay and lesbian people?’

How can you even consider such an ugly homophobic concept?

Those ‘appropriate limits’ are limitless if we’re speaking of Christ’s love and yearning for humanity.
‘Appropriate limits’ for the LGBT baptized are exactly- let me say that again EXACTLY THE SAME as those for all humanity.

Christ’s ministry and Christ’s sacrifice on the cross were as EQUALLY and as UNCONDITIONALLY made for me as for you, dear brother Rowan.

And it is Christ’s words, Christ’s example which I and my LGBT sisters and brothers of faith cling to, and are nourished by daily.

It is Christ’s unconditional love ‘beyond our wildest imagining’ which has us turning up most Sundays in the pews of the same churches which historically have tried to teach us to hate our God-created selves, our bodies and the love that we yearn for.

Dear, dear ++Rowan have you ever even considered the blessed irony of the fact that it is once again the Communion’s current version of the ‘most despised’ who are calling the Communion to live a more real & vital embodiment of Christ’s unconditional love? Just as it was when the Church struggled with its fear of racial and cultural differences, with its objectification and exploitation of women, and with its demonization of our Jewish sisters and brothers.

Dear, dear brother ++Rowan, the sad truth is indeed that if we’re speaking healing, if we’re speaking the larger embodiment of Christ’s living, passionate love and grace working in our Communion, your visit to New Orleans ‘probably would not make much difference on the whole.’

In closing, I’d remind you of the words of another brother in faith, +Jack, Newark retired- words which must be haunting your sleep these nights, but words which also inform the prayers of many of us these days

"You were appointed to lead, Rowan, not to capitulate to the hysterical anger of
those who are locked in the past. For the sake of God and this Church, the time
has come for you to do so. I hope you still have that capability."
Dear brother Rowan, no one ever said it was going to be easy, but if you’re needing the comfort of solidarity in prayer, you’re always welcome in the pews of my LGBT sisters and brothers. There’s always room with so many people working so hard and acrimoniously to make sure they never fill up. There’s always room, ++Rowan, and through the living grace of Christ Jesus we’ll always welcome you as a beloved brother striving for God’s Greatest Blessing for God’s Greater Glory- always & unconditionally.


Thursday, September 20, 2007

A couple of finer points

I should have known it would get me into 'trouble'..... trouble of sorts at least.

Referring to Canon Elizabeth+ Kaeton as 'Sistah Liz' in an earlier blog, brought an e-mail from a fellow Anglican in the Northern U.S. The gentleman in question had been referred to me months ago for what I'll call fraternal support in a very personal question, and I'd mentioned this blog in passing.

Responding to my 'Sistah Liz' in this space he inquired about my skin pigmentation- 'black men are so-' he went on to reveal more than I needed to know about his personal fantasy life.
Needless to say he didn't get an answer to his question, though we have since both e-mailed and spoken on the phone.

For the record -though it shouldn't be an issue in this forum-my mother is Welsh born and my late father of blessed memory though English born, had Welsh origins- thus accounting for our rather unique family name. (Which should still leave unanswered the question of pigmentation if you know anything about contemporary Wales).

Likewise, for that same record, Canon Kaeton and I have never met. My affection and my deep appreciation for Elizabeth+'s articulate grace and on-line presence are purely that- on-line. My only claim to kinship with Elizabeth+, +Gene, Susan+, ++Katherine or ++Peter ( all previously cited as brothers or sisters in this space) is Christ Jesus and the seal of the baptism we share.

And if that's not enough I'd better be finding myself an editor for this space!

Which brings to mind, an earlier criticism of an earlier post in which I admitted that in our household Presiding Bishop ++Katherine Jefferts Schori is remembered as the Great ++Katherine.

My respondant suggested that perhaps as a Canadian writing from Montreal I shouldn't be commenting on events within the Church 'south of the border.' And once again, my only defense- the only one I need, is detailed above.

The Canadian/U.S. border doesn't even register on Christ's heart!

And as to the Great ++Katherine, I stand by my understanding that she and +Gene continue to be great & wondrous blessings to the Church and to the world in these dark and troubling times. One has to look no further than the report of ++Katherine's sermon at the opening Holy Eucharist in New Orleans to see God at work.

“Beloved is the word before each of our names” she reminds us before also speaking to much of the “judgmental language” and how it cuts off the chance for conversation. “None of us is wholly free of blame for we have all sought to judge those who oppose us.” She spoke of “outcasts among us who have not felt beloved,” and suggested that “we need to suspend judgment…and see God’s beloved before us.” Her closing words? “May we be peace for all who are gathered here and all those who await our actions.” (All of this reported in the Integrity U.S.A. blog 'Walking with Integrity')

Where do I see ++Katherine leading us? Towards the same radical grace Christ embodied in His earthly ministry and in His long-suffering passion for all of God's Creation.

Which brings me back to another radiant sister- Canon Elizabeth Kaeton who attached to a recent powerful post what I believe could serve as a personal standard in our individual practice:

Lord, plunge me deep into a sense of sadness
at the pain of my sisters &
inflicted by war

that I may learn to cry as a child
until my tears baptize me
into a person who touches with care
those I now touch in prayer.

Believing as I do, that among other things, what the Holy Spirit is working in the Church and humanity at this time is a call to a non-dualistic place the other side of each and every fear, where there is only 'we' and 'other' and 'difference' are only archaic artifacts of a primitive, fearful, doubting of God's love, I can only be profoundly grateful for this call to God not to give up on us. Thank-you Elizabeth+.

For God's Greatest Blessing to God's Greater Glory- Always Unconditionally !


Monday, September 17, 2007


Yes, I know it's a big week, when more than a few of us wish we could be spending it in uninterrupted prayer for +Katherine, the Episcopal Bishops and +Rowman meeting in New Orleans.
And yes, there's still the horror of Iraq, the insanity of Afghanistan, and the bullies of the patriarchy continue with their anoying 'threats,' but then...... then there's the radiant grace and articulate faith of some of our LGBT sisters and brothers that just about make me bust with wonder, joy. and thankfulness.

Two specific instances of God's grace speaking through wondrous LGBT lives in the last ten days (in chronological ordrer).

The Living Church Foundation Sept 11, 2007 reported on an incredible address +Gene Robinson delivered at the General Theological Seminary on Sept 10 2007. And I quote:

''I'm going to do my best to be at the table.
More than anything I wish I could be in the same room with Archbishop [Peter]
Akinola [of Nigeria] so he could hear from my own lips how God has transformed
me through scripture. The miracle is that I heard God's voice in scriptrue. I am
fiercely committed to it. It literally saved my life."

"The process of reconciliation begins when someone comes from the margins, challenges 'empire' and causes it to re-examine how it functions. Reconcilliation is not turning the tables. "

'I think we are at a moment in the Anglican Communion and the world where there is a lot of oppression going on, but it cuts both ways. The reason I am desperate to stay connected to the Global south and the Anglican Communion is that I need them for my salvation. I don't know how else I am going to understand the injustice I participate in and benefit from that is perpetuated on the rest of the world by the United States.
That is also why we need to stick together as an Episcopal Church. The worst sin
of all is to walk away from the table."

O.K. I know I'm repeating myself, but Thank God for +Gene Robinson and his witness to God's love ('beyond our wildest imagening' to quote the dear man) and for +Gene's graceful part in the wondrous growth, healing and renewal I truly believe Christ is working in His Church at this time.

I can only pray and wish that +Rowan and the other Episcopal Bishops meeting in New Orleans this week- to say nothing of whoever might end up attending Lambeth- might all be capable of such grace, generosity of spirit and love for Christ's Church.

And then we come to Canon Elizabeth+ Kaeton, or 'Sistah Liz+' as I remember her in my thankful prayers. Again, I'm repeating myself, but can that sister preach... And she's not afraid of taking on some of the more prickly sections of scripture either.

The most recent example of Canon Kaeton's grace and articulate intelligence is her sermon last Sunday available at and it's well worth the couple of minutes to read it. Elizabeth+ is preaching on the day's Gospel Luke 15: 1-10

And again I quote

You’ll miss the message if you misjudge the intended audience. Jesus tells these two parables because “the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, “This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them.”You see, the story is not so much about the sinner as the religious people of the organized religion of his day.

Jesus was telling these parables not only as an example of God’s never-ending, unconditional love, but as a model of the responsibility of being a Christian.We who profess to be followers of Christ are to be like the shepherd who had 100 sheep, and one was lost. We, like God-in-Christ, are to search out the one lost sheep until it is found. We, like God-in-Christ, are to be like the woman who had ten coins and turn the household upside-down until the lost one coin is found.Most importantly we, like God-in-Christ, are to forgive. We are to be unrelenting in pursuing those who have sinned until they are brought back into the fold and returned to the household of God.Now, that’s a difficult enough message for some to hear when we need to forgive our sister who ‘borrows’ our baseball glove and gets it all out of shape or our son who takes
the car, gets into an accident and messes up the car.But, what about the hard
stuff? What about the really major mess ups in life? What about, for example,
when someone betrays a trust? What about when someone crosses a boundary? A
sacred, albeit cultural boundary? What if that sacred, cultural boundary
involves the safety of our children?

Elizabeth+ goes on to relate the gospel to a tragic local situation:

Some of us are content to think that, if this man repents, he will be forgiven. Others of us are not. Some would like to believe that the betrayal of a child’s trust – especially in sexual matters – is an unforgivable sin. That this man should burn in hell forever.

Well, ready or not, here’s what this gospel tells us.

Jesus says that God, like the shepherd who has lost one of
his 100 sheep, is now, even now, pursuing that man.

Now, even now, God, like the woman who lost one of her 10 coins, is turning over the household of God, searching out that man who lost his way in the midst of his boredom or his loneliness or his perversion or his temporary insanity, or whatever it was that led this father of three boys to have a sexually explicit conversation with someone he thought was a 13 year old girl.

That, my friends is not just grace.That’s what some have called ‘radical grace’.And, radical grace is radical because it doesn’t stop there.

Now, even now, God is pursuing the lost among us – you and me and those whose hearts are hardened by harsh judgment and fear. But, that’s not the only message Jesus has in this gospel.

There is more than a well intentioned collect writer giving us the message that without God we can not please God.

There is more than Jesus, like Bono, standing at the microphone, telling us that every time he claps his hand, another soul is being pursued by God – another soul has repented, another angel rejoicing in heaven.Listen to that and you have missed the fullness of the message of this gospel.

Jesus told these parables to the religious people of his day – the Pharisees and the scribes – who were criticizing Jesus for welcoming sinners and eating with them.

Jesus was saying to them by way of these two parables that the church exists not so much for those who are found but rather for people who are lost.Jesus is saying to us, by way of these parables that the church exists for people like this Chatham Township man, who needs to be here in this place, or places like it, as much as sinners like you and me.

For some of us, this is decidedly NOT good news. Some of us hope this man is locked up in a dark cell and that someone throws away the key.

Jesus comes to us this morning and says that no one is so
lost that s/he can’t be found. Jesus says that no one is so far from sight, that
s/he can’t be seen.Not you.Not me.Not any one of us.

Here’s the amazing thing about radical grace: it transforms
not only the one who is being pursued, it transforms the purser.The one who once
was lost and now is found is not only changed and transformed by God’s justice,
but the one who pursues the lost is changed and transformed to administer God’s
justice with God’s mercy and compassion.

Radical grace is transformative grace and God pursues us all
with this grace relentlessly until we are all brought back into the fold, back
into the household, once again.

Here’s the gospel truth:

(Clap. Clap. Clap) Every time I clap my hands, another
person is pursued by God to bring about God’s justice.

(Clap. Clap. Clap) Every time I clap my hands, another
person is found by God to bring about God’s mercy.

(Clap. Clap. Clap) Every time I clap my hands, another angel
rejoices that God’s radical grace has triumphed over sin.

(Clap. Clap. Clap) Every time I clap my hands, you and I are
charged to seek out and find those who are lost and help them find their way
back home again.

This is what it means to be church. This is what it means to
be community. To be the Body of Christ. To be the shepherd who seeks out the
lost sheep. To be the woman who finds the lost coin.

My friends, the good news is that we are neither wretched
nor weak. We are, however, occasionally lost and need to be found.

From time to time, we all fall short and miss that mark, and
we all need to seek repentance and forgiveness, no matter how small or how great
our sins and offenses.

Our God is a God of abundant mercy and the source of amazing
grace, freely given. We do not have to earn it or work for it – indeed, we can
not. That’s the most amazing part of this amazing gift of radical

We are not wretched, miserable sinners. We are, in fact,
marvelously made by a most marvelous Creator who has made us God’s eyes and
ears, God’s arms and legs in this world.

We have been given a sacred trust and a sacred task. We are
co-creators with God, charged with helping to bring about the salvation of the
world through Christ Jesus, being led by the power of the Holy Spirit and God’s
gift of radical grace.

This . . . this . . . is what pleases God, without whom,
nothing in this world makes much sense, nor provides much pleasure

As I said earlier, Elizabeth+ relates Sunday's gospel to a local tragic situation which had unfolded during the previous week, but I think Elizabeth+'s powerful witness also speaks to the path ahead for our Church.

First we have dear +Gene, a much-loved brother in Christ who has been cursed, damned, lived under death threats, and who knows what else- emboding Christ's unconditional love and patience with his Creation- that same radiant brother extending a hand to the very brother who is working day and night to break the Communion over the awesome (and very legitimate) call by the Holy Spirit of +Gene to the Episcopate.

And then radiant Sistah Liz+ reminding us... reminding us to make it real.

With two such awesome radiant beings as +Gene and Elizabeth+ in the same post we don't even have to connect the dots.

Either Christ Jesus makes a difference or we're 'post-it Christians' -our fath little more than another costume or label we wear- something we 'consume' to avoid the real grit and grime- but also the larger grace, joy and healing to be found in these very lives we've been given.

The funny thing is, the closer we get to New Orleans, and yes Lambeth, the less fearful I am about either the outcome or 'the bigger picture.'Because the bottom line is, no matter how damaged the Communion might be by all of the acrimonious threats, the schismatic defiance, the Episcopal poaching and just plain ugliness, we're still talking- still 'in process-' even if one party insists on shouting across a divide of their making. And of course, their version of reality is neither the whole picture nor the end of the process.

And of course each time the voices of inclusion who embody the spirit of God's love incarnate take the conversation back to Christ Jesus and His vision for the Church.

After the two radiant examples I cite above it would almost be reduntant to quote St. Paul - you all know the passage- the one about nothing prevailing against the church, about nothing separting us from the love of Christ Jesus.... Well that's my faith- that's the truth I'm walking with these days, and to have such radiant examples as +Gene and Elizabeth+ to affirm that understanding- well I'm nothing short of blessed.

Thank-you +Gene. Thank-you Elizabeth+.

Thank-you and Thank God for all the other radiant brothers and sisters- you make all the difference in the world- and to countless more lives than just this one blessed in Montreal.

God's Greatest Blessing to God's Greatest Glory- Always Unconditionally


PS: You guessed it- reading Elizabeth+s sermon, I clapped too

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Sheer, Awesome Radiance

I know this has been around for a while- among other places on Susan+ Russell's 'An Inch at a Time' under the 2006 General Convention Archive. I however, only had the great joy of reading this mighty sermon for the first, second and third times this week and believe Bishop Charleston's insightful witness bears repeating in these trying times.

Of course, what I am referring to is the sermon Bishop Steven Charleston preached at the 2006 General Convention of the Episcopal Church of America, 'What Witness Will We Make?'

Among other things, this living blessing to the Church said

... the most important question before us is not about
schism or sexuality. It is about wirness. What witness will we

Christian witness is the publiic affirmation of faith. It
is how we let the world see that we practice what we preach. Today those of us
in the Episcopal Church are being called on to make our witness. We have the
opportunity to be what we say we are. The world is watching. What will we

In the Episcopal Church, we believe in Jesus Christ. We
believe in the Bible. We believe in the Good News. In fact, we believe so
strongly in all of these essential parts of our shared faith that we are not
afraid to disagree with one another about what they mean to us.

We welcome difference as the active presence of God's Holy
Spirit moving amongst us. Our witness is not to conformity but to community. As
the Episcopal Church we are not concerned that everyone in the pews
believes exactly the same thing, in the same way, at the same time. Instead, we
are concerned that no one is left out of those pews because of what they
believe, who they are, or where they come from.

Our witness is to the unconditional love of God through
the grace of Christ Jesus. Therefore we accept the risk of grace by not setting
limits to love with our own judgements of others. There are no border guards at
the doors of the Episcopal Church. We respect the dignity of every human being
and are never ashamed of who sits next to us in worship. We are all children of
God just as we are all sinners in need of mercy.

There are no walls around the Episcopal Church. We believe
that God is at work in the world. We are not concerned that this world sees us
as perfect, pure or powerful. Instead, we are concerned that people see us
practicing justice, doing mercy, and walking humbly with the God we believe
loves us all equally.

Our witness is to hope, not fear. We believe that men and
women, no matter how separated they may think they are by religious conviction,
cultural value, or social location are never truly apart unless they choose to
be. We have nothing to fear from one another unless we allow fear to be our

... Our witness is to the reconcilliation of God in a time
of fear. In the Episcopal Church, we stand together not even if we
disagree, but precisely because we disagree. We practice the radical hope of

...You and I need one another now more than ever because
there are so many others who need us both in this hurting world... For them, our
witness is not a matter of church politics. It is a matter of life and

My spirit literally soared when I read Bishop Charleston's sermon, as you might have guessed from how much of it I have transcribed here. This radiant brother in Christ is President and Dean of the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge Ma. and all I can say is Thank God for this living blessing in these trying times!

This is a Christianity, with God's grace, I can live for!

I can only imagine the joy and wonder the delegates experienced while listening to this man preach at the General Convention. Probably something akin to my experience on July 27, 2006 when I was truly blessed to hear another precious brother +Gene Robinson preach twice in one day, here in Montreal.

God's Greatest Blessing for God's Greatest Glory- always, unconditionally


Noticeable by their shameful silence

Though I have not been counting the days, it seems to me it's been at least a week since the press release from the Ven. Akintunde A. Popoola, Communications Officer for the Church of Nigeria, speaking on behalf of Bishop Orama to denouce the story posted and published by UPI.

At that time Ven Popoola promised a retraction both from the reporter and from Bishop Orama- something even now we have yet to see, and their silence makes me very sad.

Mindful of the incredible non-violent track record of my radiant LGBT sisters and brothers and our allies in these trying times, I refuse to either repeat the original story or to attribute motives to this uncharacteristc silence. It is however decideably strange, when so often in the past the schismatics have been so very quick to access the media for what I have trouble calling anything less than their problematic rants.

As a Communication Officer for a national church, the Ven. Akintunde A. Popoola HAS to know that by not delivering on either the retraction or the promised explanation of the reporter's motives and what was actually said, they are effectively by their actions endorsing the gist of the original story.

The bottom line is, until they do deal with the story in a professional manner, it's out there in all sorts of secondary sources, and in the minds of those who may have read it in its original luridness. Unless they deliver the Ven Akintunde A. Popoola stands guilty not only of mis-handling a dangerous story, but perhaps of having intentionaly plotted this scenario. If this is not the case, then let the gentleman keep his word.

For background on the Ven. Akintunde A. Popoola's credibility track record I'd refer you to an earlier post by Father Jake Stops the World.

And while on the topic of tactics, manipulation and mis-representation, I'd also refer you to the current post of Canon Elizabeth+ Kaeton, writing on internet trolls. Unfortunately this current discussion attracted more than one of these characters.

Yes, Elizabeth+ is one of the radiant sisters who continues to bless the current discussions with her insightful grace and articulate intelligence.

more later....

but for now and always....... God's Greatest Blessing for God's Greatest Glory


Saturday, September 8, 2007

and thankfully it doesn't end with UPI

from the Anglican Communion Office ( thanks to Susan+ Russell, President of Integrity U.S.A.)

"The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, has expressed deep shock at
remarks said to have been made by the Bishop of Uyo, Nigeria, the Rt Revd Isaac
Orama concerning gay and lesbian people. The Archbishop will be contacting the
Archbishop of Nigeria, Dr Peter Akinola, to seek clarification.
Dr Williams
said "The safety of people of gay and lesbian sexual orientation is a matter of
concern for us all. The Anglican Primates, along with all other official bodies
in the Anglican Communion, have consistently called for an end to homophobia,
violence and hatred. If these reports are correct I would urge the bishop to
apologise. Such comments are unacceptable and profoundly shocking on the lips of
any Christian".

and then... from the same source

In an email communication The Venerable Akintunde A. Popoola, Director of
Communications for the Church of Nigeria has stated that Bishop Orama has denied
making the statements attributed to him in a September 2, 2007, UPI report.
Additionally, the journalist who issued the statement has given a verbal apology
for the misrepresentation and has promised to print a retraction.

all of this scond item has has yet to be confirmed- both Bishop Orama or the reporter have to deliver, but the fact that the situation, for once appears not to have ended at a wall of recrimination and threat is hopeful.

And then this morning......AWESOME comes close to covering in. A ' very original Christian' and Bishop (retired) has spoken with great courage and grace to the agony of these past months .Yes! You guessed it Bishop Jack Spong- the man we all might have a few issues with on the more prickly points of his theology, but who thankfuly is part of our Communion. Bishop Spong has penned a letter to +Cantebury. (Available on the internet thanks to Canon Elizabeth+ Kaeton). I think Bishop Spong is to be commended not only for his articulate intelligence, but also for his larger understanding of the Church's vocation.

Dear Rowan,

I am delighted that you have agreed to meet with the House of Bishops
of the American Episcopal Church in September, even if you appear to be
unwilling to come alone. It has seemed strange that you, who have had so much to
say about the American Church, have not been willing to do so before now. Your
office is still honored by Episcopalians in this country, so our bishops will
welcome you warmly and politely. We have some amazingly competent men and women in that body, many of whom have not yet met you.There is clearly an estrangement between that body and you in your role as the Archbishop of Canterbury. I want to share with you my understanding of the sources of that estrangement. First, I believe that most of our senior bishops, including me, were elated, at your appointment by Queen Elizabeth II and Prime Minister Tony Blair. Most Americans are not aware that yours is an appointed, not an elected position. Those of us who knew you were keenly aware of your intellectual gifts, your openness on all of the great social debates of our generation and indeed of your personal warmth. We also believed that the Lambeth Conference of 1998, presided over by your predecessor, George Carey, had been a disaster that would haunt the
Communion for at least a quarter of a century. An assembly of bishops hissing at
and treating fellow bishops with whom they disagreed quite rudely, was anything
but an example of Christian community. The unwillingness of that hostile
majority to listen to the voices of invited gay Christians, their use of the
Bible in debate as a weapon to justify prejudice, the almost totalitarian
attempt made to manage the press and to prevent access to the wider audience and
the dishonest denial of the obvious and blatant homophobia among the bishops
made that Lambeth Conference the most disillusioning ecclesiastical gathering I
have ever attended. The Church desperately needed new leadership and so many of
us greeted your appointment with hope. Your detractors in the evangelical camp
both in England and in the third world actively lobbied against your
appointment. The hopes of those of us who welcomed your appointment were,
however, short lived because in one decision after another you seemed incapable
of functioning as the leader the Church wanted and needed.It began at the moment
of your appointment when you wrote a public letter to the other primates
assuring them that you would not continue in your enlightened and open
engagement with the moral issue of defining and welcoming those Christians who
are gay and lesbian.We all knew where you stood. Your ministry had not been
secret. We knew you had been one of the voices that sought to temper the
homophobia of your predecessor's rhetoric. We knew of your personal friendship
with gay clergy and that you had even knowingly ordained a gay man to the
priesthood. You, however, seemed to leap immediately to the conclusion that
unity was more important than truth. Perhaps you did not realize that your
appointment as the archbishop was because you had different values from those of
your predecessor and that your values were exactly what the Church wanted and
needed in its new archbishop.In that letter, in a way that was to me a
breathtaking display of ineptitude and moral weakness, you effectively abdicated
your leadership role. The message you communicated was that in the service of
unity you would surrender to whoever had the loudest public voice.A leader gets
only one chance to make a good first impression and you totally failed that
chance. Unity is surely a virtue, but it must be weighed against truth, the
Church's primary virtue.Next came the bizarre episode of the appointment of the
Rev. Dr. Jeffrey John, a known gay priest, to be the area bishop for Reading in
the Diocese of Oxford. He was proposed by the Bishop of Oxford, Richard Harries.
The nomination was approved by all of the necessary authorities, including you,
the Prime Minister and the Queen. The fundamentalists and the evangelicals were
predictably severe and anything but charitable or Christian. They and their
allies in the press assassinated Jeffrey John's character and made his life
miserable. Once again you collapsed in the face of this pressure and, in a
four-hour conversation, you forced your friend and mine, Jeffery John, who is
not only a brilliant New Testament scholar, but also one who gave you his word
that he was living a celibate life, to resign his appointment to that Episcopal
office. The message went out for all to hear that if people are angry enough,
the Archbishop will always back down. Your leadership, as well as our trust in
your integrity, all but disappeared.Shortly thereafter, you concurred in a
"guilt" appointment by naming Jeffrey Dean of St. Alban's Cathedral. It is a
strange church and a strange hierarchy that proclaims that a gay man cannot be a
bishop but can be a dean. Your credibility suffered once again.When Gene
Robinson in the United States was elected the Bishop of New Hampshire and, more
particularly, when his election was confirmed by a concurrent majority of the
bishops, priests and lay deputies at the General Convention (read General
Synod), you appeared to panic. You called an urgent meeting of the primates of
the entire Anglican Communion and allowed them to express enormous hostility. No
one seemed to challenge either their use of scripture, which revealed an amazing
ignorance of the last 250 years of biblical scholarship, or their understanding
of homosexuality. By acting as if homosexuality is a choice made by evil people
they violated everything that medical science has discovered about sexual
orientation in the last century.Just as the Church was historically wrong in its
treatment of women, so now as a result of your leadership, we are espousing a
position about homosexuality that is dated, uninformed, inhumane and frankly
embarrassing. No learned person stands there today.Then you appointed the group,
under Robin Eames' chairmanship, that produced the Windsor Report. That report
confirmed every mistake you had already made. It asked the American Church to
apologize to other parts of the Anglican Communion for its "insensitivity." Can
one apologize for trying to end prejudice and oppression? If the issue were
slavery, would you ask for an apology to the slave holders? That report got the
response it deserved. Our leaders were indeed sorry that others felt hurt, but
they were not prepared to apologize for taking a giant step in removing one more
killing prejudice from both the Church and the world. Those angry elements of
the church were not satisfied by the Windsor report, inept as it was. They never
will be until they have bent you and this communion into a pre-modern, hate
filled, Bible quoting group of people incapable of embracing the world in which
we live.Next came threats issued by the primates of the excommunication of the
American Episcopal Church from the Anglican Communion, as if they actually had
that power. Ultimatums and deadlines for us to conform to their homophobia were
treated by you as if that were appropriate behavior. When the American Church
elected Katharine Jefferts-Schori to be its Presiding Bishop and thus the
Primate of our Province, your response to that major achievement was pathetic.
You did not rejoice that equality had finally been achieved in our struggle
against sexism; your concern was about how much more difficult her election
would make the life of the Anglican Communion. Once again, institutional peace
was made primary to the rising consciousness that challenges what the Church has
done to women for so long. When Katharine took her place among the other
primates, she underwent with dignity, the refusal of some of those bishops to
receive communion with her. Is that the mentality required to build unity?Later
you issued a statement saying that if homosexuals want to be received in the
life of the Church, they will have to change their behavior. I found that
statement incredible. If you mean they have to change from being homosexual then
you are obviously not informed about homosexuality. It is not a choice or a sin,
anymore than being left handed, or male or female, or black or even transgender
is a choice or a sin. All of us simply awaken to these aspects of our identity.
That truth is so elementary and so well documented that only prejudiced eyes can
fail to recognize it. No one in intellectual circles today still gives that
point of view credibility..Next you declined to invite Gene Robinson to the
Lambeth Conference of 2008. All of the closeted homosexual bishops are invited,
the honest one is not invited. I can name the gay bishops who have, during my
active career. served in both the Episcopal Church and in the Church of England?
I bet you can too. Are you suggesting that dishonesty is a virtue?You continue
to act as if quoting the Bible to undergird a dying prejudice is a legitimate
tactic. It is in fact the last resort that religious people always use to
validate "tradition" over change. The Bible was quoted to support the Divine
Right of Kings in 1215, to oppose Galileo in the 17th century, to oppose Darwin
in the 19th century, to support slavery and apartheid in the 19th and 20th
centuries, to keep women from being educated, voting and being ordained in the
20th and 21st century. Today it is quoted to continue the oppression and
rejection of homosexual people. The Bible has lost each of those battles. It
will lose the present battle and you, my friend, will end up on the wrong side
of history, the wrong side of morality and the wrong side of truth. It is a
genuine tragedy that you, the most intellectually-gifted Archbishop of
Canterbury in almost a century, have become so miserable a failure in so short a
period of time.You were appointed to lead, Rowan, not to capitulate to the
hysterical anger of those who are locked in the past. For the sake of God and
this Church, the time has come for you to do so. I hope you still have that

John Shelby Spong, 8th Bishop of Newark, Retired

Thank-you Bishop Spong


Sunday, September 2, 2007

Radiant sunshine- this long week-end so far

Almost a week ago, when I read of the attempted mob attack on the Nigerian prison holding the 18 men accused of homosexuality, I sent the story and link out to more than twenty colleagues and contacts, assuming at the very least the report would raise an wave of protest. Silly, naive me- not one of the recipients saw fit to either respond or to mention what happened in their various, respected on-line blogs.

And I can't help but wonder what I might be missing here. I mean, these are our brothers; as, of course are the members of that same mob- neither party which can be reached by a solitary writer here in Montreal.

So why aren't LGBT folks writing the Nigerian representatives in our respective countries, reminding them they are being watched by the world?

Why wasn't the internet abuzz with righteous outrage?

Why, to my knowledge, hasn't Amnesty International done their usual great job of taking something like this to the media?

Why aren't inclusive Anglicans marching outside Nigerian embassies?

Is it possible.... an outside chance I know, that this might be an indication of some last vestiges of internalized homophobia we've all got to work with?

On another note, being the last long week-end of the summer has already brought all sorts of interesting blessings.

First, the arrival, early yesterday morning of Wendy, in full robes to do our usual morning sit out on my back deck as the sun rose. To be honest, so much had been going on in these last few days I'd forgotten I could anticipate Wendy's visit to Montreal to look after her mother's care.

Perhaps being caught unawares by the doorbell, shortly before five a.m. left me even more open to an appreciation of the great grace and depth of understanding the two of us have come to share in the two years we have known each other. (A tripple Gaassho to Dianne and Susan for making that connection)

Even though she might crinkle her eyes, trying to understand, Wendy has been nothing short of generously patient with my passionate engagement with what I believe to be the on-going renewal of the Church I was born into, whose liturgy and language will always shape my life.

Over breakfast after my shorter sit and Wendy & Dennis' full ritual out on the back deck we were able to share one of those seamless great sojourner conversations of which are such a blessing in my life.

And of course, the blessing continues as they both returned last evening for our second sit of the day, and again this morning before she and Dennis headed up north for an overnight with school friends of Wendy's.

Dennis was another great surprise blessing who roared with laughter when I referred to finally meeting him as the ‘icing on the cake’. Dennis is a gay artist, who entered Zen practice more than a decade before Wendy or I; who took ten year priest vows and now lives in northern New Jersey. He also once weekly travels into NYC to spend a day with Tom who is wondrously working towards his first anniversary clean of addiction. The news Dennis brought of Tom literally brought tears to my eyes, and nothing more so than the news that their days together often includes the two of them participating in the celebration of the Holy Eucharist at the church Tom joined after becoming an Episcopalian. To quote Dennis ' I might not be comfortable with the blood sacrifice references, but something's definitely happening there, and it's simply my job to turn up.'

Now how's that for engaging the Divine?

This morning's ritual also brought an amazing new element to our sit- something I suspect Dennis found in the Eucharist- intercession.

After Dennis and Wendy had finished, I was called back to my bench to join them.

Each of us with a generous block of the Tibetan incense I use and a lighter, we lit individual sticks and named individuals or situations we were asking healing or grace for... And wouldn't you know it, when we ran out, Dennis had extra incense tucked into his robes.

Each stick was mindfully set into the metal bowl filled with cat litter in front of us, and at times it got pretty crowded in there as a wonderful cloud of incense smoke rose over my tiny back yard.By the time we were finished none of us had escaped tears.

Breakfast wasn't possible this morning with Wendy and Dennis heading up to the Laurentians, but standing out in the street, watching them drive off into their day, I couldn't help but repeat a silent 'thank-you' over and over again. And coming into our tiny house with Willie, I sat in the sunshine and silence grateful to have been brought back to the wondrous wholeness I usually experience with sitting with members of the very special shanga Life has brought me.

Once again back on my bench, I was mindful of the very great debt I owe to the dharma and the very generous way its essential teachings have accommodated my particular practice. It's the dharma practice, if anything, which has got me through my earlier years of AIDS service and activism, which kept me from breaking under an experience of institutional homophobia, and which has left me open to the great bounty of occupying this tiny house and being rescued by Willie the blessed daschund. But of course that 'if anything' is but another unskilful way of crediting God's unconditional grace and love; as I've long ago learned there are no speed bumps between the boundaries of denominational or traditional labels when it comes to God's passion for creation.

And of course, it's the non-dualistic vision of Zen, along with the work of Wheatly and Senge among others- both generous Buddhists of another tradition, which has allowed me the reckless freedom to take such risks towards the transformation of the toxic workplace culture I work in, and to so passionately embrace the process of transformation our Communion is currently going through.

Sitting here I tried recalling all the great teaching lives and those of witness which have blessed and which continue to bless my path- some of which might even be reading this now, and I thanked each one. Which I suppose brings me back to this blog, which this morning, among other things is meant to be a collective thank-you.

Sitting out on the deck that first morning, the three of us each had a sense that what we wanted to offer this week-end's incense for was 'tuken olam' that wonderful Hebrew phrase- to heal the world. So even that residual internalized homophobia I mentioned earlier is covered. Another example of the Universe's essential seamlessness.

And speaking of seamlessness, a book I'm revisiting this week-end is 'being zen' by Ezra Bayda who practices in the lineage founded by Joko Beck, the author of one of the first significant books on Zen I read during the chaotic first years of the AIDS holocaust. And not surprisingly, Ezra speaks directly to what we're going through in the Communion right now...

In an attempt to keep from falling through the cracks in the ice, we choose our strategy, either working harder to maintain control of our lives or making
misguided attempts to escape from our difficulties with diversions, pleasures or
busyness. Rarely do we question our strategies, which are always rooted in fear.
We believe in them, as the unquestioned truth. Yet in doing so, we define our
own boundaries, our own restrictions. Consequently our life narrows down to a
sense of vague dissatisfaction...
Sometimes we have to fall right into the icy water, unable to move or breathe, overwhelmed and drowning before we're forced to deal with the deep-seated conditioning that runs our life- all the land mines of anger, fear and confusion.... When we fall into these unwanted situations, we can no longer strategize to avoid facing our pain. It's right in front of us!

Which could sound pretty grim, except that we’re speaking of The Living Breathing Body of Christ, so we’re not alone in all of this, and it would appear that all we’ve got to do is show up- mindfully working to free ourselves of our old strategies, our old stories and grievances, consciously opening to the process Christ is working with us in His Church at this time.

Casting it all in a larger context though, I’d quote another Zen practitioner and fellow Montrealer- Leonard Cohen, it’s only through the cracks that the light can stream in, and have we got cracks at this moment in time- so let there be light, to quote an even greater original source- The Original Source of all Creation

Which brings me back to another of Dennis’ wonderful deep laughs... Yesterday morning, over breakfast, when I was less than skilfully sharing with him my understanding of what’s currently going on in the Communion, he laughed when I referred to our LGBT vocation as the leaven in the process Christ is working. ‘Leaven- that’s yeast, isn’t it’ he asked... ‘You have any idea how funky yeast is’ he chuckled.

‘Oh we LGBT folks can be right funky at times, ‘ I reminded him. ‘Just look at our history as a people!"

And on that note...

God’s Greatest Blessing for God’s Greatest Glory!Always!