Saturday, December 29, 2007

Confidence & harm

Call me a naive Canadian, but in the last several days as so many of us have wept. grieved & prayed over the recent outrage at St. Nicholas Episcopal Church, Atwater CA, I’ve become quite concerned that we brothers and sisters of Christ’s fullest blessing not unwitingly harm ourselves, each other, or the Church of Christ Jesus.

Perhaps the most unfortunate instance of this was insistence of a couple of 'our' blogs on using a seriously unflattering photo of John-David Schofield in their reporting. Most of you will know which unfortunate picture I’m referring to.

I’m not disputing the picture was taken. I’m not disputing the man was there, holding that piece of paper. But unfortunately in the current context, this photograph objectifies a man, who, whatever else is still our brother in Christ, and who was created in the image and likeness of God. I might even suggest that use of this photo is personally invasive, as it hauls a brother’s personal issues into the public forum of faith in a context which has nothing to do with what’s currently going on.

I mean, I haven’t heard of anyone using this photo offering to meet with John-David to help and counsel on his personal pain.

Please don’t misunderstand me, I’ve wept and sat vigil with the people of St. Nicholas, Atwater, as so many of my radiant brothers and sisters have, and yes, for a moment, when reading a report I wailed ‘why the isn’t anyone doing something?

And on the next breath I regained my senses…
I might even suggest that what we have here is a perfect example of my sense of what’s truly going on in the Church right now– in the bigger picture of living process- that of Christ leading His Church out of centuries of frightened dualistic thinking.

No one needs to be objectified

No one needs to be called names

So long as we remember that what’s going on here is process, a dance of change & transformation, and we (humanity) are only one of the dancing partners- thank goodness & THANK GOD!

This is still the Church of Jesus Christ, Son of the True & Living God

And to momentarily resort to Holy Scriptures; it is a terrible thing to fall into the hands of the living God

so of course nothing’s going to be easy or run smoothly

we’re all being call forth out of fear,

we’re all being called into a larger, clearer, living experience of God’s passionate love and unconditional blessing… ‘a love beyond our wildest imagining’ to quote one blessed brother yet again.

we’ve all got healing and growth- and Christ’s necessary grace- to engage in here.

No more guys in black hats and white hats- this is not an old western movie. This is Christ Jesus, working through all of us to move us – the Church- beyond the fearful need to objectify, to damn, to conquer, to destroy- all verbs too commonly found in Christian history.

Working to move us into becoming the most radiant, unconditional embodiment of God’s love humanity has ever known.

An embodiment of Christ’s love ‘beyond our wildest imagining’ (and you all know where I got that from).

There is no way, the words or actions of John-David Schofield at St. Nicholas Episcopal Church, Atwater, CA can be justified, excused or explained as anything other than what is so obvious to us. But in the end, his true accountability for everything, like ours, is to the true & living God.

And in the meantime our responsibility has to be to not lose sight of our vocations as baptized Christians, as a people of hope, working with Christ Jesus for the renewal of His Church.

Yes, ache & get angry, but we can’t let that pain and anger stop us from being there for the people of St. Nicholas, and all the other parishes being manhandled in a similar manner.

Yes, ache & get angry, but we can’t let that pain and anger stop us from being there to listen to the hurt, confusion and disillusionment of our fellow Christians over the antics of certain ‘professional ‘ religious.

Yes, ache and get angry but we can't let otrage be our only witness or presence in our collective vocation of radiant embodiment.

Yes, ache and get angry, it can't stop there, or we’ll never see past the fear, to glimpse the active, working presence of Christ, who has promised to never abandon his flock.

And perhaps nothing has embodied that fearful thinking more than the rare anger or concern I’ve read about ++Katherine’s presence in all of this.

Where is she? What’s she doing? Essentially is what more than one voice has been asking,

It may just be my personal opinion, but as much as I honor and admire this particular sister-in-faith, a white cowboy hat might look slightly ridiculous on herright now, and riding into Atwater, both guns blazing would hardly do honor to the office of Presiding Bishop or the Church.

The bottom line is that ++Katherine, like the rest of us, is accountable to Canon Law, which has been prayerfully writ over time, in a conscious effort to know the will of the Holy Spirit, alive and at work in the Anglican Communion- exactly where we all find ourselves right now.

And that Canon Law provides our secessionist brothers a breathing spell of a specific duration in which they’re given a chance to reconsider and renounce their earlier actions.

And I would suggest that by respecting this requirement ++Katherine is showing herself to be a living embodiment of the best of Anglican tradition and practice.

Hurt, confused, angry, worried for the future of the Anglican Communion probably describes all of us in the fellowship of full inclusion right now. But it’s essential that none of us unwittingly play into the secessionist agenda by re-acting to whatever they do, or by adopting their frightened dualistic ideology and language.

One of the great blessings of my sitting practice is the understanding that to re-act is to always respond from a position of weakness or defeat to another’s action.

Bottom line: Jesus Christ is to be found in the thick of this work of transformation- this breaking open and transformation of all of our understandings and experience of the living Christ in our midst.

And my sense is equally that as far as Canon Law allows that’s also where +Katherine is aiming for. She did send her legal and clerical representatives to witness the events of Advent IV at St. Nicholas Episcopal Church. She has put the other secessionist bishops on notice, and never was our sister’s radiant grace more evident than when she side-stepped the antics of +Peter et al at the celebration of the Blessed Sacrament in Tanzania.

As scary, confusing and uncertain as it may feel at times, none of us is alone in this.
We are the Body of Christ, and as a living body, I would suggest that if we have faith, the only appropriate image for the current process is ‘growing pains.’

Growing pains and a glorious calling forth out of fear and fearful thought, speech and action.

Growing pains in a vocation of radiant transformation.

Growing pains which as any parent will tell us are a sign of health, a sign of life, and for me nothing stands proof of this more radiantly than all the wondrous brothers and sisters in faith who have stepped up to claim the promises of their baptismal vows, found their voices and bear witness to their radiant lives on faith- whether in the pew or here on the internet…. which includes each one of you m'dears.


God’s Greatest Blessing, to God’s Greatest Glory- always & unconditionally

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Fast'n Fabulious! (David's version)

Tonight I'd like to share with you a recipe which over the last sixteen years has become a blessing in my Advent practice, when with the approach of the anniversary of the Blessed Incarnation, I am only too aware of the too many friends and clients we lost here in Montreal during the first two dacades of the holocaust of AIDS when I was privileged to be on the front line of service.


2 1/2 cups (265ML) all-purpose flour
1 tsp (5ML) baking soda
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 jar (750ml) sweet Mincemeat
1 can Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk
2 cups chopped candied cherries*
1 cup candied ginger or gingembre en sirop, cut small
2 teaspoons of ginger powder
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1 teaspoon of nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350F (150C). Grease two 9x5x3-inch (1.5L) loaf pans.
Stir together flour and baking soda; set aside. In large bowl, combine
eggs, mincemeat, Eagle Brand, chopped cherries and ginger. Add dry
ingredients; mix well. Divide batter between prepared pans. Bake 1 hour
and 20 to 25 minutes or until done. Cool 15 minutes. Turn out of pans;
cool completely. Garnish with candied cherries if you wish. Wrap well in
foil. Store in refrigerator or freezer

And like most things associated with this blessed time of year, there's a story associated with this recipe. As my first Christmas approached after the death of my sweet Louis, I knew that I had to do something purely out of personal need- that migtht be an act of faith- in those early months of grief you can't be sure- but at least it might be a step further in healing.

Some important background: not only was my sweet man a graduate of L'institute d'Hotelerie de Quebec here in Montreal, he was a master in the kitchen and had presided over more than one epicurian restaurant. As if that weren't intimidating enough, our Mam not only raised seven children on seriously limited resources; she constantly out-does herself in the kitchen as both a baker and a chef.

So that first Christmas, less than ten months after sweet Louis' death, I had more than enough reasons to give up before starting. Somehow I came across a recipe for Christmas fruitcake, and memories of the smells; both of Mam's Christmas kitchen and our kitchen when Louis baked, came flooding back.

The one thing which probably convinced me to try this particular version was the serious role sweet minemeat plays in it- I mean I love sweet mincemeat.
I was however baking for a particular group- our POZ men and women, so some tinkering was required ie. no cut fruit or nuts. So I substituted ginger- lots of ginger- good for digestion and the immune system, and jacked the other spices.

First year four cakes for the Centre's Christmas party where the only complaint was there wasn't enough to go around. So another six for the New Years Eve celebration.

Since then, a couple more receipes have become standard additions to my holiday kitchen therapy (ginger shortbread tomorrow)and the volume of my output might vary, but never since that first Christmas have I felt alone in the kitchen when I haul out the pans and all the fixins, and work my way through one batch after another.

So from Montreal, as we approach the wondrous feast of The Incarnation I'd offer it tonight, for all of those touched by the scourge of AIDS, for all of those who have known serious loss of any kind in the past year, and for you my blessed, radiant LGBT sisters and brothers of faith.

For God so loved the world...


Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Just a suggestion...

Dear, dear +Rowan, you’ve got to feel for the man.

I mean, it isn’t as if he not trying, and he certainly challenges us, as he should,I suppose.

But seriously, I’m beginning to wonder if residence in Lambeth Palace might not be injurious for the health of our blessed Communion and of dear +Rowan’s efforts to play a meaningful role in the current situation.

Nothing a year-long sabbatical in a blue collar neighbourhood wouldn’t fix. Or if we’re really serious about a conscious effort to listen to my LGBT brothers and sisters of faith, how about finding the man sabbatical employment behind the bar of a LGBT establishment- collar, pectoral cross and all.

Yes, I’m still talking about the infamous Advent letter.

Not only does +Rowan persist in making the same, sad, categorical error of treating the consecration of +V. Gene Robinson and that of Martyn Minns as of the same nature and status; a re-reading of his letter this morning, saddened me greatly when I realized just how deeply entrenched +Rowan's assumptions are embedded in the monolithic thinking of the patriarchy.To say nothing of his body language in the most recent photo on-line

I’m sure it’s only an oversight on +Rowan’s part, but early on in his letter he cripples his representation by limiting the foundations of Anglican faith to only one of three traditional justifications for Anglican life and faith.

Scripture, tradition and reason +Rowan.

And this snow-bound morning here in Montreal I might be taking a slightly different view of just what Anglican tradition is, but please bare with me. Essentially, for me it looks like a continual calling forth out of fear and darkness and growth into an ever more authentic embodiment of our vocation to be the Living Body of Christ. Wether the issue was slavery, the objectification and persecution of our Jewish ‘elder brothers and sisters,’ the ownership of women and children, racism, exploitation of the earth or the civil and ecclesiastical rights of women. And of course, almost every time the Communion has been dragged, kicking and self-righteously posturing into a state of greater freedom and grace.

And the current situation is but another case in point, praise God!

Too often of late news of us Anglicans has been of 'splinters,’ ‘factions,’ ‘deadlocks,’ ‘impasse’ and ‘the rending of the Communion’. Makes good headlines, frightens and hurts a lot of the folks in the pew, and none more so than my blessed LGBT brothers and sisters of faith, but that’s not- read my lips, please- THAT’S NOT WHAT’S REALLY GOING ON HERE FOLKS!

Inspite of all the nastiness and acrimony, inspite of the purple-clad misogyny directed at our beloved sister ++Katherine, inspite of the dark threats against our radiant brother +Gene and our other LGBT clergy on the front line, inspite of all the ranting, name-calling, posturing, and yes, even inspite of the scandalous dishonouring of the Blessed Sacrament at Tanznia, we are still the Church of Jesus Christ, called and blessed to be the Living Body of Christ, here on earth in these difficult times.

To make it simple:
we are all in process- a process which in time will be proven to be one of endless, wondrous grace
we are all stumbling forward in faith, to a larger clearer understanding of God’s radically unconditional love for each and everyone of us
we are all, in varying degrees I admit, learning yet again the miracle of the Incarnation
we are all hearing Christ’s call to step beyond the enslavement of fear
we are all stumbling, blundering or prayerfully walking towards lives and understanding of God’s faithfulness where Scripture no longer has to be used as a weapon, where Communion becomes a verb rather than a measure of membership or exclusion and where faith is what we embody rather than what we use as a filter against the life God has blessed us with.

So bottom line is though there may be ‘splinters’ (ouch!) and ‘factions,’ ‘deadlocks’ and ‘impasses’ they are only illusionary because this is the Living Body of Christ we’re talking about.

LIVING i.e. ‘In process’
LIVING i.e. growing, with God's grace, in our stature as children of the Living God, and in our understanding of God’s love
LIVING i.e. does anyone remember how noisy and confusing puberty was?

And as the Living Body of Christ we have Christ’s unfailing promise to support and bless his Church, we are each the living proof of His patience, mercy and grace, and none more so than my radiant LGBT brothers and sisters of faith.

Look back for a moment on that model of Anglican tradition as I have cast it, and each time Christ has used men and women of faith, usually on the margins of established Christianity, collectively or individually to be ‘a light unto the nations’ and it would appear to be that is what He is doing with an through our radiant LGBT faith community at this time.

Each time, Christ was calling us out of fear
Each time Christ was aching to free us of the smallness of our thinking, the fearfulness of our lives.
Each time Christ was leading us into a larger understanding and engagement with life
and never more clearly than now. Praise God!

Joan Didion, in her book ‘The Year of Magical Thinking’ made a powerful gift to contemporary understanding when she popularized and articulated the practice of magical thinking. And if one is honest, far too much of Christian practice has resonated with the same fearful desperation- an insult to both the True & Living God, and to the humanity we have been blessed with.

To resort to the language of the dharma for a moment, I believe that what’s really going on here is an awesome calling by Jesus Christ, radiant Son of God for Christian men and women to step beyond the shadows of dualistic thinking. The ‘yes, but’ our lives continually send back to God; the ‘yes, but’ we continually impose between ourselves and those God brings into our lives, when we use our faith or religion to objectify them to a safe distance.

I’ve been doing some work lately with two sisters on their devastating grief following the death of their doting Italian mother. One of the exercises we worked with from my years of AIDS service, has to do with ‘difference’- what difference has their mother’s death made in their lives... And what I’m suggesting here is that if we’re looking at the only big picture that really counts, the current process our Communion is undergoing isn’t really different from any of the other chapters of Anglican tradition.

Jesus Christ is still the head of this Church
and the Holy Spirit continues to challenge, bless and sustain it, and to wait for us to catch up with the radiant, vibrant truth of God’s love for all Creation.

Never more so than now, in the season of Advent, I would dare the most cynical in the Communion to spend some serious time with the awesome reality of the Incarnation.

So don’t talk to me of ‘rending’ ‘ending’ or ‘tearing’
there is no human being walking the face of this earth capable of ending what the True and Living God put into motion in the Incarnation of our sweet Lord Jesus Christ
who, as one radiant brother keeps reminding us all loves us ‘beyond our wildest imagining’

‘For God so loved to world’ pointe-finale as we say in French.

Writing this, I can’t help but be mindful and deeply grateful of the many radiant LGBT lives of faith which support and nourish my practice, and of the many courageous allies we have found in this current conversation within the Communion. Nothing moves me more easily to tears of deep and abiding gratitude than the refusal of these living prophets to resort to the name-calling, threats and posturing of those who tremble with fear at the prospect of an inclusive faith; a family which doesn’t have to exclude to include, a society and world which doesn’t have to use God’s word as a weapon.

Did I say prophetic?

Yes I did, because if one truly looks at that ‘only big picture which really counts-’ God’s redemptive love, it is so very obvious that these radiant brothers and sisters who keep witnessing, who keep acting on Christ’s promises, who keep owning their baptism, who keep turning up at the table...can there be any possible doubt of the working of the Holy Spirit through these lives who have had to come so far, and paid so dearly for their witness.

I thank God for each and every one you- living blessings that you are.

And before I resort to quoting Romans 8 again, I’ll sign off, sure in the unconditional love of Christ, a love’ beyond our wildest imagining’


for God’s greatest blessing, to God’s Greatest Glory- always & unconditionally!

PS. And brother +Rowan, let me know where you’re ‘drawing the suds’, and we’ll try to arrange a flight over, to drop by for a chat. I’ve got a whole lot of wondrous friends you might want to meet and listen to.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Excuse me?

O.K. I know it's been a while...

I've been taking a necessary time-out to deal with the accumulative wear-and-tear of so much patent dishonesty, self-righteous mis-representation and posturing directed at the friends of full inclusion and radical hospitality within our Communion.

I've been spending a lot of time in silence, in prayer & meditation and in dharma study.

As I confessed to a dear friend recently once again it's the Church doing violence to my spirit, causing me to bleed from a thousand and one cuts and leaving me exhausted. And its my non-religious Zen practice which not only gets me through, but keeps me sane and hoping. And before anyone calls me a heretic for praticing outside the Anglican canon, I'd invite them to plant their butt on my meditation bench or a while and see what I'm talking about.

But that's not what's got me back here this evening.

You might have guessed- it's +Rowan- once again.

Today brought news that the eminent gray beard of Cantebury has reitterated he will not be reversing his decision to exclude the Right Rev. and Very Honorable Bishop of New Hampshire from the upcoming Lambeth teaparty. (my original source 365gay

And I quote...
Archbishop Rowan Williams' office said he had also not changed his mind about refusing an invitation to Martyn Minns, a traditionalist U.S. priest who was consecrated as a bishop in the Church of Nigeria.


Has the gray eminence never heard of a categorical error? Perhaps that's why he's making such an embarassingly colossal one himself.

There are absolutely no.... make that NO POSSIBLE GROUNDS for including the prayerfully, duly elected, consecrated Bishop of New Hampshire and Rev. Martyn Minns in the same discussion or decision. One, as I said was duly elected, confirmed and prayerfully consecrated; the other participated in an irregular act of consecration orchestrated by an ecclesiastical bandit acting in comtempt of both the Windsor Report and the Tanzania Declaration (a.k.a known as our brother in Christ +Peter).

That +Rowan persists in what is so obviously a patent whitewash of the real situation is bad enough, but he then resorts to Scriptural imagery when referring to possible boycots by some of the Lambeth invitees.

"I have said that the refusal to meet can be a refusal of the cross - and so of the Resurrection," Williams said.

Except that as we only too well know, it's not +Rowan and his invitees who are bearing the pain of the cross in this situation, it's my radiant LGBT bothers and sisters in faith throughout the world who are being objectified, vilified, railed against threatened and excluded- not only in their daily lives but within the living Body of Christ.

By excluding +New Hampshire from Lambeth +Rowan himself is himself refusing Chist's invitation to become an even more vital and honest embodiment of Our Saviour's redemptive love for all humanity.

By objectifiying the lives of faith of my radiant brothers and sisters in keeping our radiant brother +Gene from his rightful place at the table, +Rowan himself is perpetuating passive-aggressie homophobia and caving in to the ravings of the bullies of the patriarchy.

Yes, +Rowan, homophobia, because that's how it would be viewed in my country, Canada, and those of you who know we will understand how strange it is for me to resort to the 'rights argument' when for so long I have insisted the core issue of the current struggle is one of baptismal validity.

And of course the saddest thing of all is that the longer this goes on, the more irrelevant +Rowan's cowardly dithering is making the Church to so many observing us from any sort of a distance outside the Church.

All of which brings to mind a living saint Harry, who once again this Christmas will not be in the pew after a lifetime of extraordinary service by himself and his late wife to the parish I grew up in. And then there's my chance encounter this week with Jen, a street person carrying psychic bruises from the Church... but tonight +Rowan is more than enough, and he makes me so very, very sad.

I sit- in silence- with Willie the wondrous daschund nearby, and that's where Love finds me, with tears of gratitude not sadness as I remember another man who did a lot of harm to my radiant tribe, but who also give me the words for my defiant insistence on our Communion being open to God's greatest blessing for God's Greatest Glory:

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

'Love beyond our wildest imagining' to quote another Living Blessing.