Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Cat among the canaries

Oh the siutations one can find oneself in- perhaps never more surprisingly so than when it’s unintended.

Within hours of posting on the two ‘P’s I received another to-the point e-mail from ‘E.S.’ one of my more interesting and challenging correspondents (more on her later- she deserves her own post- at least).

‘Can I pass this on (she asked wickedly)?

‘Of course. My blog is in a public space- the Internet.’

‘Consider yourself warned,’ her only rejoinder.

And that was about all the thought I gave to it. Unemployed though I may currently be- with all of the challenges of undergoing unemployment at 62- the days are never long enough. A good part of the next forty-eight hours was spent in a combination of brainstorming & process mapping for an acquaintance who had invited me to be a participant in her year-long discernment process.

During that time I also received another e-mail from Terry. ‘Is that it-your full take on patriarchy and prophetic lives?’

I hesitated before responding and took my blessed pup for a walk- the first one possible after the most recent snow storm as daschunds have notoriously short legs.

‘Actually, I’m toying with a rather interesting train of thought since my rather protracted practice period this morning,’ I eventually admitted. ‘Putting together notes for the second part of ‘Reading the lay of the land,’ I was struck by the uncanny parallels between the toxic patriarchy in too many quarters of the Church and alcoholism.’

Terry shot back right away- ‘What?’

‘I’m not saying the Church is an alcoholic,’ I was quick to assure him. ‘Rather that patriarchy as a behaviour- a 21st Century means of functioning, shows an amazing number of parallels to chronic alcoholic bahavior- and both are equally toxic.’

‘WOW a lot to think about there.’

‘Thinking is what I’m doing here too. And sitting with it, I’m clear that it would be both preposterous and pretentious for me to even think about looking at the clinical parallels. Its the behavioural parallels which interest me: their implications and repercussions... I’m actually thinking of teasing outa 12 step model as an interpretive medium for much of what’s going on in the Churches.’

‘Now THAT could be original.’

‘Early days yet teasing it out, but it’s beginning to strike me there could be some rather striking parallels between 21st Century patriarchal behaviour & attitudes, and alcoholism. No half measures in either situation. You give up serving drinks, cheating on the side and accepting all the ‘treats’ from your ‘customers;’ or you own the toxicity of your behaviour and seek the help to live beyond it.. You’re either in recovery, or you’re not... Continuing to function with the Swiss-cheese rationalizations of drinking, or claiming the blessing of healing and growing towards the wholeness God keeps calling us to... I mean, it should be clear to even a Martian by now, just what toxic a take on reality patriarchy is. Right?’

‘Brings to mind the situation with our former pastor and the help you gave me... Thinking about your last post, I wonder if his real problem might not have been mix-and-match... He’s a good man, and did nothing to deserve his breakdown or what’s followed in its wake, but at times he could be rather ... rigid- authoritative even, and then he’d wonder why people didn’t understand, didn’t get all worked up over his ideas- you could read it in his eyes, the hurt and frustration.’

Which brings me back to E.S. who called to ‘confess’ what she’d done with my earlier post- ‘passed it on to a relatively young, former colleague of mine- a Jesuit,’ she added with some glee.

‘He probably agrees with me already, ‘ I suggested.

‘That’s not it,’ she explained. ‘There’s this other faculty member –a lay Catholic, who’s really been riding my friends ass. Started with a couple of the sermons he preached in the collegial church at mass, which sent the mathmatics guy on a real witch hunt, had him hunting out the two small books and the articles my friend’s published... Last time I spoke with my Jebbie friend he told me they’d had a real session over some gay Catholic writer- probably a theologian... You may not be the right sort of Catholic (E.S. possibly remembering our much earlier exchange on the distinctions between Rome and Anglican Catholicity) but I sent him your post.

It was about then I shared with her my latest investigatory track. (Cue the cat among the canaries)

‘Oh my, oh my, oh my God!’ and it’s moment’s like this that ‘E.S.’s intellectual passion can most often bring to mind a late May evening, mellow with the promise of summer- the night sky blown wide with light and wonder- May 24th- fireworks for the Queen’s birthday and you’re but ten years old.

Of course ‘E.S.’ pressed for details- her ready appetite for a well though-out, reasoned model she can test- or demolish –in almost any field- is both remarkable and amusing at times.

‘Early days yet,’ I reminded her- twice.

‘Well you’ve got to promise me, whatever you do with this, I’ve got to be the first one to see it.’

A promise I fully intend to keep, I’m no fool.

Monday, December 13, 2010

those two troublesome 'P's

Some conversations, usually the unexpected one’s can feel so... sacred sometimes. There I’ve said it- downright sacred. Times when, whether a prayer’s been uttered or not- the coming together, the openness and active listening leave space for something more than either of you or the sum of ones’ most evident parts. Case in point: an e-mail and subsequent call from ‘S’ this week-end.

‘S’ ostensibly wrote to ask for prayers for a fellow priest ‘who’s having one hell of a time of it.’ Considering herself a post-denominational priest (à la Matthew Fox), ‘I’ is continually being ‘slammed back and forth between the revolving doors’ of what ‘S’ described as ‘intelligent Christian practice and literal Christianity.’

When I asked for more details, ‘S’ in turn asked if she might call me.

Not the first time we’ve spoken; ‘S’ and ‘I’ are both Lutheran priests- ‘priest’ being a living reality ‘S’ has only really being embodying since here return to America a little over a year ago. After almost eight years as pastor in a two-point rural charge- her first; ‘S’ had managed to go to Sweden, the country of her birth for a sabbatical year- which ended up joyously turning into three; a period of time, to quote ‘S’ ‘I really found myself as a priest.’

Priesthood being a second career for ‘S,’ she is more than a decade older than ‘I’ who has been ordained less than five years. Their paths first crossed when ‘S’ accepted a post as interim Pastor in a large metropolitan parish.

Turns out, to differing degrees both women have been experiencing some of the same thing.

For ‘I’ it began with her questioning some of the items on the parish budget and the proportion spent on self-maintenance as opposed to either mission or service. For ‘S’ the static arose in the adult Bible study, when in response to a rather strident declaration about a particular incident in scripture, ‘S’ had referenced a contradictory version in a second gospel, and the complete omission in the remaining two.

‘Any chance this might be about the fact both pastors are women?’ I asked at one point.

‘I don’t really think so- not overtly at least, though I admit for a nano-second I was ready to react as if it might be,’ she added with a chuckle. ‘No... Perhaps I’m still seeing things through the lens of my European experience, but it’s my sense that our denomination doesn’t quite have the issues of... your British cousins- with female clergy.

‘You really sure on that?’ I nudged.

‘Oh, I have no doubt that in Keith’s mind at least, some of the surety and authority with which he was speaking was firmly rooted in his authority as head of his own household, an elected official and a male of a certain age,’ ‘S’ admitted after a moment, with an audible sigh. ‘But that’s not how I read the group, or even the weight they were willing to allow Keith to assume.’

‘How about the situation for your colleague?’

Another audible sigh. ‘Oh, that’s much more out in the open...’ Turns out ‘I’s charge was managed for more than a decade with an assortment of visiting retired clergy and theology students. ‘The laity is what kept those two churches going.’ But with ‘I’s appointment the Bishop brought them into one charge, and they’re actually trying to resurrect a third one that’s been closed for some time.

‘For ‘I’ it can be things as petty as letting her see the parish books- when she’s been specifically charged to over-see the fiscal consolidation, or believe it or not, the storage of the Communion vessels for one parish.’

‘To say nothing of her ‘new-fangled’ sermons,’ I suggested.

‘Of course,’ a third sigh.

‘I’ had originally come to ‘S’ in search of a spiritual director, though after a while their sessions began to take of a tinge of investigative therapy when ‘I’ admitted how at least two of the elders were almost invariably capable of silencing her- ‘literally cutting me off at the knees’ to quote ‘I’.

Somewhere in there, I reminded ‘S’ of her own ‘nano-second’ and suggested that as tough as it was, both she and ‘I’ should be taking some comfort from what was happening. ‘Whatever you're doing, you’re not leaving them indiffent... and what each of you is undergoing, to one degree or another, is the battle of the two ‘P’s.’

‘O.K.,’ she admitted with more than a hint of patient amusement.

‘It’s both endemic and long overdue- throughout the whole Church.’

‘And why do I have a pretty good idea of where this is heading,’ she asked after a moment with some relish.

‘But it’s not uni-directional,’ I reminded her. ‘That’s why it’s so-‘

‘-tough to deal with?’ she suggested.

‘That, and frustrating, exhausting... and personally uncomfortable.’

‘All of the above! And then some’

‘Within and without-‘

‘Talk to me about the within,’ my wise & courageous asked after a moment.

After a quick detour to the work of Dr. Peter Senge on the risks to ‘agents of change’ I drew a deep breath and shared my person experience of internalized homophobia, and not having any personal experience of same, it really caught my friends attention.

I kept it short- little more than naming the most obvious low-lights:

; elicited a sympathetic murmur

awkwardness-’ and ‘embarrassment’ at one’s difference

‘alienation from one’s body, one’s heart, and in too many cases in the past from one’s mind: existential murder in the name of God’

‘pain’- so much pain, and it’s Siamese twin ‘fear’

essentially what becomes a thousand-and-one degrees of self-hatred; most of them dressed up in appropriate verse of Scripture- you don’t have to hear ‘abomination’ too many times before you really take it to heart.

‘The hardest part was seeing it all worked out on the bodies and in the lives of too many of our POZ clients- especially in the first decade of AIDS here in Montreal. Broken & mutilated lives- why d’you think they called so much of it, ‘acting-out...’ and the bottom line is not one of my sisters in Christ, to one degree or another, haven’t lived their own version of the very same thing.’

It’s about then both of us stopped trying to hide our tears.

‘And the difficult thing is, once we’ve been broken open by life or the Holy Spirit herself- once She’s had Her way with us-‘

‘- the Comforter.’

‘Source of all healing... Once we’re seemingly back on our feet again, it’s still an on-going process.’

‘Coming out, you mean?’

‘Coming out, but also being continually ‘bracketed;’ when the first thing people see about you is that your gay or a woman, and a lot of them never quite get over it either, however well intentioned they might be.’

A sigh of experience on the other end of the line.

‘Essentially it’s coming out to the sacramental nature of our very lives.’

‘Within and without-right.’ ‘S’ reminded me with an audible breath which just might have been prayer.

‘Internalized homophobia’ a hint of surprise in ‘S’s voice, as if fingering a new object.
‘That ‘nano-second’ of yours? Sounds like it just might be a momentary twinge of internalized patriarchy,’ I suggested playfully. ‘Which means, with what of I know of your mindfulness practice, your intelligence and the passion you apply to making your Church a relevant reality, you’re also wearing the vestments of the second ‘P.’’

‘Tell me,’ she asked.

‘Prophecy- my treasured friend... Doing your very best to live and breathe yourself into the Church- here and now- the Spirit unfailingly calls us to be.’

Audible tears, though this time they sounded different- perhaps relief.

‘And the amazing thing is how radically different they are. Patriarchy is cold, hollow and dark- rigid, reactive , accusatory and divisive, always working out the ‘us’ and ‘them’ of any situation... The roof of the prophetic life is as high and wide as the sky itself, as open as we let our hearts to She who calls us forth in Love- that’s the life and vocation you and ‘I’ are living into.’

‘Aching towards’ more like it,’ with a hint of self-depreciating irony.

‘And this is still all new for ‘I,’ I reminded her. ‘Lucky- no make that blessed she is to have found you.’

‘And she hasn’t had the blessing of my break away.’

It didn’t end there.

A while later something ‘S’ had said during our first conversation came to mind, only months after her return to America. ‘It may sound strange... but you know, in a way, the most surprising thing was how more mature many of the younger Swedish Christians appeared to be.’

‘All those generations of Swedish protestanism?’

‘As indifferent as they might seem most of the time, the whole thing is a lot less... indirect- less complicated. Does that make any sense?’

‘Tell me more.’

‘Well a lot of the time it’s a pretty secular sea you’re swimming in- but it’s like everyone’s recognized and accepted that. So when you do have a conversation with someone: a conference with a parishioner or what first appears to be a casual conversation on the street, it rarely theoretical or to score a triangulated point... This is going to sound strange, but in a certain way it feels more.. adult-‘

‘-Spong!’ I interjected.

‘Excuse me?’

That’s when I explained about Bishop Spong’s casual on-air mention of ‘mature Christianity,’ and once I was sailing on the generous jet stream of some of the finest Anglican minds we were soon soaring into the vastness of post-transactional theology and its blessed implications.

‘S’ signed off with a half-dozen titles on her list.

Only moments later the phone rang again.

‘I forgot to thank-you – for everything... Oh, and I’ve figure out who you are- the older brother I never had- my äldre bror,’ she added with a chuckle. ‘I love you-‘

‘-Love you too... and give my love to ‘I'. too’

See what I mean, how unexpected as it might be, Life can be so much more than the sum of its parts.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


Religion has always suffered from the tendency to become an end in itself, to seclude the holy, to become parochial, self-indulgent, self-seeking; as if the task were not to ennoble human nature but to enhance the power and beauty of its institutions or enlarge the body of doctrine.

Abraham Joshua Heschel

Nothing worth doing in completed in our lifetime, therefore, we must be saved by hope. Nothing true or beautiful or good makes complete sense in any immediate context of history; therefore we much be saved by faith. Nothing we do, however virtuous, can be accomplished alone; therefore we are savced by love.

Reinhold Niebuhr

It is by immersing ourselves in the complex realities of planetary and human conditions that we begin to understand the true nature of incarnational and redemptive faith. The God of the Bible desires the active living of divine purpose over merely celebrating the idea of correct belief in the One True God.

Bill Phipps

What Jesus preached was ‘the kingdom’; what he got was the church!

Don Cupitt

There is so much evidence today to support ‘the kingdom of God’ emphasis in the teaching of Jesus that it is difficult to understand let alone justify the exclusions, divisions, and differences that accompanied the growth of the church. Today, with the church in decline and mired in outdated beliefs and practices, it would seem that we need to learn how to think the kingdom way of thinking, and to live the kingdom way of living. Every attempt to do so is an indication that the kingdom way is not a reduced view of faith but a fulfillment of the dream of Jesus for life in the kingdom now.

Anne Squire

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Reading the lay of the land- part one

Amazing the exchanges we can find ourselves in- and often over the most unexpected things.

Case in point: a conversation which began almost a month ago; when engaging with the blog posting of one of our more conservative bloggers my response included the word ‘reactive’ to describe the role the Church too often takes in contemporary life.

Turns out, it took Terry a whole to track me down, but several days later he sent me an e-mail. ‘The comment you left- short as it was, really bothered me. Just what did you mean, by your “almost inevitably reactionary?”’

Turns out the author of the original post is a social acquaintance of Terrys- the cousin of a neighbour who is a good friend of Terrys. Their paths crossed at a recent anniversary party where doing ‘the networking thing’ they’d exchanged cards and through this he’d eventually checked out the blog in question. Terry himself eventually admitted that not only is he not an Anglican; he and his wife have pretty much ‘sleepwalked’ through much of their involvement with the local congregation of the denomination they were both born into.

A response from me not only welcomed his kiwi voice but clarified the difference between ‘reactionary’ and the word I had indeed used. Which apparently only encouraged Terry to write and ask: ‘ok, then what did you mean by ‘almost inevitably a reactive stance’?

In brief, I explained how too often when the official or visible representations of the Church engage with situations or issues of contemporary life they almost inevitably arrive with trunks of doctrine and great suitcases of scriptural verses- their minds essentially already made up before the conversation has even begun. As a result they almost invariably not only fail to meaningfully engage, they usually don’t even hear what the ‘other’ party might be saying.

‘You mean like the danged Pope on condoms?’ he shot back. ‘Talk about being out of touch with reality!’

‘The pope’s one example of the Church’s failure to engage meaningfully with contemporary reality- yes, but there’s also all the missed ‘headliner’ opportunities.’

‘Headliner opportunities?’

‘I give you three names- Dawkins, Hitchens and Harris. Dawkins and Hitchen lead the way with what many conservative Christians simply objectified & dismissed as ‘attacks on God. And while Harris might not have caught quite the same volume of limelight he’s on his third, general release book- just in time for the Christmas holidays; positing that science is the only basis for an authentic moral code.’

‘I remember hearing something about Hitchen’s book- probably in the media.’

‘And where was the articulate reasoned engagements by the ‘professional,’ the ‘expert’ Christians... and I’m not talking about Sunday sermons, letters to the editor or even personal blog posts here. All three men, to varying degrees of success chose the public area of published books (also available in electronic versions)- equally available to individuals wrestling with the current behaviour and issues within their own denominations and to those outside the Church who might pick up either author out of idle curiosity but end up finding what they read only affirms their troubled personal experience of the Church... And where was the voice of the Church, engaging in the same forum, the issues these three men raised?’

‘But wouldn’t that have been “reactive”?’

‘I’m not talking about taking on the three men personally, or even a point-by-point refutation of their arguments. I’m talking about looking at their work as symptoms and addressing the underlying issues- the real questions; contemporary anguish or indifference- in an articulate, engaged manner- IN EXACTLY THE SAME FORUM... You can’t tell me that our Churches have become so addled with their unilateral pronouncements that they’ve forgotten how real engagement & communication work?’


‘At least two of those three men probably became millionaires on those particular titles, and there was the leadership of my particular denomination working itself into a very expensive fit over the election of one honestly gay bishop?’

‘To say nothing about Bennie finally working his mind around to allowing that condoms are permissible- for male prostitutes?’

‘As if anyone even considers what the Pope might have to say on the matter anymore? He’s effectively made himself irrelevant- on condoms and everything else.’

‘But what’s your alternative then?’ Terry asked before signing off.

‘Well as people of faith- people who believe in the active, engaged, passionate presence of the Holy Spirit in the everyday reality of our lives, we might be a little more open- ready to see what’s really going on ‘out there’; ready to listen; to learn- ready for whatever the situation might really be to be a learning opportunity for us as well as a "situation to be addressed".... It’s my experience that whatever the experience one might be stepping into, Ruah is usually there already ahead of us.’

Obviously a patient man, Terry didn’t give up on me and once I’d explained my slip- using Hebrew, probably in the cause of simplified keyboarding Terry shot back’ Keep going.’

Turns out he’d never heard of St. Patrick’s Breastplate. When I waxed slightly lyrical speaking of the Holy Spirit not only actively, if exceedingly patiently present in our lives but ‘above us, below us, before us and working in our wake, within us and without,’ things got really interesting.

‘Whoa! You really believe all that?’

A couple prayerful, thoughtful of days before days before I wrote back: ‘I can only represent my experience, but for me I guess what it boils down to is the seal of our baptism- as simplistic as that might sound. Scripture and countless glowing examples in history stand proof of our Lord’s promise being kept- to send the Comforter. Not that I’m in anyway implying that the Holy Spirit works only in and through the lives of the baptised, but if She is present anywhere, it’s got to be through Baptism.’

My friend had no problem with that. ‘But I’ve got to remind you, I’m not really sure I’d call our gang a sacramental church,’ he reminded me. ‘In a way you Anglicans are so much luckier- having so many more clear issues and concepts to tussle with. We prots most of the time aren’t too clear on what we believe about most things.’

THAT sure gave me food for thought, and brought to mind another cherished correspondent, E.S- more on her later.

It was only several emails later we ‘got back on track’ as Terry called it. ‘About this reactive thing that got us started in the first place.’

‘You’re having an argument with your eldest son, but before the two of you even get together around the kitchen table, you’re already clear an your position- you’ve argued it out in your own mind, and possibly even with your wife; you know where you stand and what you want out of the exchange with your son.’


‘And that whole ‘conversation’ idea- talking things out- the meeting of your individual realities- really nothing more than a sham?’ I suggested. ‘An exercise in enforcement?’

‘Keep going.’

‘But what about if both of you allowed it to be an open opportunity for relationship?’

‘Relationship? Fighting over him using the car’s relationship?’

EVERYTHING is relationship. Especially if you’re a person of faith- everything is implicitly a sacramental relationship between three parties in this instance- you, your son and the limitless possibilities for understanding, growth, healing, insight and transformation the Holy Spirit brings to that kitchen table.’

‘Are you actually suggesting the two of us should have prayed before having that discussion about the car?’

I confess I chuckled.‘Not necessarily. I’ve seen too many instances where prayer has been used as a passive/aggressive opportunity to frame an argument or make points before the ‘discussion’ even begins... The two of you however could have each taken a couple of deep breaths while maintaining eye contact to disengage from the argument you’d already won in your own minds- to authentically arrive in the sacrament of the situation you found yourselves in.

‘Maybe we ought to clear up just exactly what you mean by ‘sacrament’ then,’ Terry suggested.

That’s when the comfort of a great catechist in my life- Father James R. Allen came to the fore ‘an outward and visible sign of an inward, invisible grace’ I quoted from memory.

For the next several days the emails really flew- sometimes two or three from Terry to my one- but eventually he brought us back to the issue with his son: the argument about using the car.

‘How about the possibility that it’s rarely about the seemingly obvious?’ I suggested. ‘Consciously, or subconsciously when you’ve ‘worked it out’ in advance in your own mind, the memory or resonances of many or if not all of the unsatisfactorily resolved situations in your long history with that same son kicked in too, to one degree or another. And equally, consciously or unconsciously, all the times he felt you hadn’t really listened- hadn’t to his mind understood or agreed with what he was saying- they call kicked in too. So essentially the two of you were bringing whole armies of history to that kitchen table- none of which were voiced outside your respective minds, but each of which had a vote in how you’d decided the matter.’

‘So what would have been a ‘sacramental’ approach?’ Terry asked almost forty-eight hours later.

‘How about, once you’d each drawn those couple of breaths, you as the parent opened things up to something radically new by telling your son you wanted it to be different this time? Perhaps, instead of sitting across the table from each other, the two of you had gone for a walk, or you’d teased the ‘issue of the car’ away from your shared history by asking what he thought was really at stake?’

‘OK, keep going.’

‘Maybe the two of you even managed to tease apart the car issue and your frustration with the condition of his room- and in the process discovered that his ‘slovenly chaos’ is really a statement of personhood... Maybe the two of you end up having a whole discussion about ‘personhood;’ about how your particular family functions and what it’s like for each of you in your ‘role’ of son and father- I'm suggesting that just might be the real conversation behind the car and just how wilfully defiant the state of his bedroom might be.’

Eventually Terry responded. ‘I’m not saying you’re right- or wrong. But fuck, do you realize how much things would have to change around here? Is that what you mean by sacramental?’

‘Hmmm the word ‘transformational’ is what comes to mind. But yeah, sacramental covers the same reality too. To plagiarize Ms. Oprah, it’s all about living our ‘best lives-‘ "life more abundantly”, our Saviour called it.’

‘Which means the next time Zack and I have an issue, we’re got to work at leaving all the past issues outside?’

‘Perhaps it’s the only real way of moving forward- by first stepping, un-armoured and unadorned into the raw sacrament of the present moment, to see what the grace in each of you and working through both of you is capable of.’

‘And what about old Bennie and his effing condoms?’ Jay shot back within twenty-four hours?

‘I can’t speak for ‘Bennie,’ or the Vatican’- no, make that I wouldn’t want to speak for them... but maybe, just maybe what we- the generic Church- has to do is flip the sacred paradigm and start right where the Holy Spirit places us- un-armoured and unadorned. Yes, with Scripture, dogma, canon law and whole libraries of commentary and opinion as references. They’re all the legacy of patriarchy, and if we’re really supposed to be outliving that mentality we’ve got to start where we and the Church are supposed to be- in the rawness of the very first sacrament: Life itself- the sacred, unadorned reality of our lives.’

‘No scripture? What are all those pastors and ministers going to talk about?’ Terry asked with what I’m sure was a generous chuckle on his end.’

‘Not quite what I was suggesting,’ I reminded him. ‘Scripture- which we Anglicans believe contains everything necessary for salvation, but not that everything in Scripture is necessary for salvation’ is our heritage, our sacred history,
our reference or context
. Dogma, canon law, all those tons of tomes of theological opinion and theory are all historical artefacts- but none- none of them are meant to supplant, or take precedence over the raw, sacred and very real vocation to engage the Holy Spirit, Herself in that primary sacrament- Life. That’s when dogma becomes idolatry.’

The exchanges with Terry continue- at least once daily- a sacred, wondrous, and at times outrageously funny exchange (like when Terry suddenly remembered I’m gay). But sharing what I have of our exchanges has brought us to where this exploration needs to be left for now- flipping the paradigm of patriarchy and mustering the grace to embrace- to step into- to each day step up to meet the Holy Spirit in the sacrament of our very lives.

Friday, November 19, 2010

‘Disheartening’ the word which comes to mind a little too readily this morning - and let me be clear, I’m talking about the latest antics of the ‘official organs’ of our Anglican reality.

Through the good offices of Mark Harris, I’ve been made aware of, and been struggling with the paternalistic condescension of Canon Alyson Barnett-Cowan's latest. Canon Barnett-Cowan is Director of Unity Faith and Order- a title, which itself should indicate just what deep trouble the Communion is in at present.

No, I’m not going to comment on respond on Canon Barnett-Cowan’s latest , better and more erudite minds than mine having been calling it out for what it is.

Thankfully, Canon Susan Russel once again brought us healthy alternatives to the likes of Canon Barnett-Cowan’s take on Anglican reality: a document which I would suggest should be an essential element in any Anglican sanity survival kit in these disheartening times.

And then, thankfully, there’s blessed Tobias Haller’s succinct take on what I just recently referred to as ‘this latest bit of dangerous Anglican foolishness from the Anglican patriarchy.
‘Let me put it simply: We can’t even agree on what the Covenant means; so why should we imagine the Covenant will help us come to agreement on anything else?’

Anyone else notice a pattern developing here- once again- still, it is the voices of inclusion- many of them members of our incredible LGBT tribe of faith- who are the only ones witnessing and responding to the Church the Holy Spirit keeps calling us to be- the other side of patriarchy.

Fortunately, the above quote about ‘dangerous Anglican foolishness’ was not the only conversation I’ve had in the last 24 hours. Yesterday also brought an extended telephone conversation with V.S., another alienated Anglican who I am working with to build an exploratory/transformative model for her department.

‘When are they going to realize canon law, and all their patriarchal pronouncements are not articles of faith’ V.S. asked with real frustration and some pain in response to Canon Barnett-Cowan’s latest. ‘Do they have even the slightest idea of the great violence they are inflicting on the Body of Christ in the name of the patriarchal status-quo as they continue to make our dear Church more and more irrelevant to an ever-increasing number of people?’

Waking very early this morning, to the news of the passing of a cherished brother’s father-in-law, I’ve sat with all of the above in the hopeful rawness the ‘official Church’ so often leaves us in these days. Thankfully there was also the Daily Office with its blessed, deep resonances:

John 4:23; as uncomfortable as I am personally with the implied duality of ‘true worshipers’- us/ them; there is clarion-clear reminder of what the true business of the body of Christ is about- ‘spirit and truth’.

My heart soared gratefully with the reminder of the great psalm 100 as to how the Church we are called to be, is to behave:

Enter his gates with thanksgiving;
go into his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and call upon his Name.

For the Lord is good;
his mercy is everlasting;
and his faithfulness endures from age to age.

Yes, there’s also a rather apt description of the’ latest dangerous Anglican foolishness’ in Psalm 102

For my days drift away like smoke, *
and my bones are hot as burning coals.

change the pronoun, and it too readily brings to mind the whiff of Canon Barnett-Cowan’s latest comes to mind.

But then, most thankfully this-
‘The cross --the knowledge of good and evil is of us. Not of God’
penned by margaret this morning- (margaret of the lower case ‘m’) who couldn’t be a more cherished and beloved a sister if she were flesh and blood. ‘The cross --the knowledge of good and evil is of us. Not of God-’ makes one really think; but that’s our Margaret- one of the most awesome priests I know of.

And Psalm 102 notwithstanding, I’m wrapping myself in the proven promise of Psalm 100 this morning: ‘For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his faithfulness endures from age to age.’ It bears repeating, and it’s what makes being Anglican bearable this right now.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Really....? Excuse me.

Serves me right some might say- doing an ‘Anglican’ Google News search so early in the morning to learn of the latest wounds certain purple shirts & their clamouring mob of purity police might be inflicting on the faithful.

And there right at the top of the screen, ‘Human Dignity is supreme, says Archbishop of Canterbury’ .

Yup, wouldn’t have believed it, if there hadn’t been a news story from what appears to be a credible Indian news source ‘The Mangalorean- where Mangaloreans meet’ with all the details of fawning crowds, wild applause and people begging for William’s autograph and to have their photographs taken with him.

Is it just me- it seems there is so very much wrong with this latest public performance by a man who seems to be doing everything possible to strain ‘the bonds of affection’ with this particular Anglican.

I mean, where is God, the Anglican understanding of the same, the life, witness and redemptive love of our Lord Jesus Christ- the Good News- just where is it in this latest broadside of a pronouncement?

Am I just imagining it- the faint whiff of post-colonial condescension to William’s making this pronouncement overseas? To say nothing of the blatant hypocrisy of this coming from this particular individual whose own actions would appear to indicate a casual or only occasional acquaintance with what human dignity entails. Coming at a time when:

he continues to tolerate the prissy waffling of traumatized misogenists within the ranks of his own Church’s clergy over the consecration of women bishops; essentially dismissing the vocations of certain sisters to serve in this capacity, discounting both their lives and faith and implicitly admitting that the C of E is not ready yet to deal with more than one half of the human race as dynamic, living human beings living valid lives of faith sealed by their baptism.

he not only continues to objectify and dismiss LGBT faithful, once again dismissing our vocations, gifts and lives within the Church; he continues to dodge prophetically speaking out against the vicious, rabid homophobic speech and actions of certain of his brother bishops and primates

he not only fails to show any real leadership or to take a prophetic stand against the province- raiding, the creation of irregular bishops and the founding of mutant parishes; he has essentially capitulated to their vociferous noise and violence by unilaterally dis-inviting the American Church from a major committee of the Communion, and now publically wondering on how the next meeting of the primates will even be possible.

As one ‘recovering Anglican’ acquaintance of mine suggested recently ‘if it’s not that he’s blinded by the illusion of his own imagined brilliance, perhaps he’s suffering from brain-freeze... I mean all those degrees & books. Perhaps he’s just not connecting with reality- with the consequences of his words and actions.’ This, coming from an acquaintance who is not only an interesting, published academic, but someone who describes herself as passionately loving her ‘Anglican home, ‘ but also very much aware of just what a toxic situation it can be- as interesting and exciting as that might be at times.’

I mean, within the last month there was another news story quoting +++Rowan saying that his primary job as A of C was basically holding it all together- keeping people at the table, I believe was the term he used.

Is the man even listening to himself?

Everyone at the table, while certain parties have to stand because their chair has been removed (The Episcopal Church); while others are being essentially told to remain quiet & wait on their knees next to the Presiding chair (women called to the Episcopacy), where others are allowed so long as they remain silent, clear away and probably stay behind to wash up afterwards (LGBT baptized); and where the noisiest & must disruptive, the most threatening are not only invited to the feast, accorded private meetings with that same chair, but undoubtedly assured everything will get better with better rules (The ****ing Covenant).

Unfortunately, it doesn’t end here- this regrettable state the A of C appears to be suffering from; buried in Elizabeth’s latest thoughtful post is a quote.

Broadhurst is recorded as saying, "The question is, how do we continue to live our history with integrity?"

John Broadhurst, currently the Bishop of Fulham ( CoE) is one of three English bishops who have publically declared their intention to join the new Anglican ordinariate of Rome.

Ex-cuse me???

‘Live our history with integrity?’

He makes the Church- OUR Church- the Living Body of Christ sound like bunch of war widows and spinsters who’ve taken up residence in the cafeteria between dusting duties at a rarely-visited local museum. Is it any wonder that an ever-increasing number of individuals are living quite functional lives without any reference to our Churches, and those who do, too often are attracted to the theatrics & posturing exaggerations of certain sects?

As Elizabeth astutely remarks: ‘That being said, I didn't realize that the mission of the Church - any Church - was to 'live our history'. Silly me, I thought it was about working to bring in the Realm of God "on earth as it is in heaven."

As if this weren’t enough, there’s all the militaristic imagery used by too many of these orthodites. Case in point, the Rev. Stephen Bould, St. Peter’s Folkstone- another one shuffling off to the ordinariate who announced recently:

"It is a battle we are fighting now. Let's fight it with flair, imagination and spirit."

(ht: blessed Mimi, Queen of the South)

I’d remind Rev Bloud that this ‘battle’ is one of your making- and all the battle imagery and sabre-rattling in the world is not going to ramp things up enough to ever satisfy you, as the majority of those you would raise into a mob have already left the house and sadly are either indifferent or embarrassed by such misogeny and homophobia (check the recent Pew Survey, Stephen).

And of course Rowan’s ‘condition-‘ whatever it might be only makes things worse.

But where is all this leading?

Well one need look no further than the example of another bishop- this one a retired Roman Catholic bishop who recently pronounced that public officials who have supported abortion or same-gender marriages should submit to acts of public penance. I mean, is anyone even listening to the likes of this? Which century does this poor soul believe he is living in?

But sadly, underlying this bishop’s strange performance in the media is a deluded arrogance & certain other behaviour traits which continue to wound, embarrass and bring shame on the Church as these ‘official mouthpieces’ continue to dodge ownership of the emptiness of their Churches, the suffering, voilence and harm inflicted by the historical Church, and the living consequences of their perpetuation of such disconnected conceit.

Fortunately for me, this week another cherished friend, who knows of what she speaks reminded me that ‘the Church has always been saved most powerfully & most prophetically by the grace of God working through the laity.’ (h.t. blessed B.C.)

And that other friend, the one I mentioned earlier, who sees so much of the official Church as a toxic parent- well I guess I sort of ‘flipped her paradigm’ as she told me in one of our subsequent conversations.

But back to that earlier conversation- the one with the toxic parent assessment: K.W, (my friend cited above) asked what I thought might be ahead for the Church- referring to my usual frame of reference- transformative process development.

“Well in the short and middle term at least,’ I offered, ‘it’s the Episcopal Church who will continue to be the Holy Spirit’s ‘agent of change’.” And you don’t have to have read Peter Senge’s monumental work –as both of us have- to know that it’s the ‘agents of change’ who most often get cast into a ‘crucified place.’

‘But what do you think will be the next big step- the next transformative moment?’ K.W. asked.

‘Probably when the American Church, at the prompting of the Holy Spirit, Herself, open themselves up to try something different- as a onetime experiment perhaps. However it will be so Penticostally transformative there will be no going back.’

‘And what’s that?’

‘The House of Bishops and the House of Deputies meeting together- as equals at a National Convention of the American Church. One conversation, one sacred process- the accountability of transparency, one vote per. The Church would continue a hierarchy with its three orders of priesthood, but a dynamic hierarchy, a living organism, just as the Body of Christ has always been called to be.’

It took her a moment to respond.

‘You’re not serious? ... WOW.... just WOW.’

We went on to discuss how it’s both obvious and inevitable, if one is living, seeing and believing in the active, transformative presence of the Holy Spirit in our midst; if one has any understanding or appreciation for transformative process. The House of Bishops would continue to pray, meet & debate together in between the national convocations of the Church being called- all together- the living, learning, praying, striving Body of Christ, the perfect embodiment of the ‘learning organization’ Senge refers to in his work.

‘So, it’s not all down the drain for the Church?’ my friend asked from the painful place of her experience.

It took me a moment.

‘When have you ever seen a drain in the floor of one of our Churches ? Drains aren’t even an option in the architecture of the Body of Christ.’

‘If you say so,’ she conceded after a moment.

I laughed. I mean the possibility of anything I might think or say having any effect on the future of our Church is that preposterous.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

the inescapable sacrament of our lives

for a cherished brother- Martin Buber says it much more skilfully and articulately than I- the bolding is mine:

There is something that can be found in one place. It is a great treasure, which may be called the fulfillment of existence. The place where this treasure can be found is the place where one stands.
Most of us achieve only at rare moments a clear realization of the fact that we have never tasted the fulfillment of existence, that our lives do not participate in true, fulfilled existence, that, as it were, it passes true existence by. We nevertheless feel the deficiency at every moment, and in some measure strive to find- somewhere- what we are seeking. Somewhere, in some province of the world or of the mind, except where we stand, where we have been sent- but it is there and nowhere else that the treasure can be found. The environment which I feel to be the natural one, the situation which has been assigned to me as my fate, the things that happen to me day after day, the things that claim me day after day- these contain my essential task and such fulfillment of existence as is open to me. It is said of a certain Talmudic master that the paths of Heaven were as bright to him as the street of a man's native town. It is a greater thing if the streets of a man's native town are as bright to him as the paths of Heaven. For it is here, where we stand, that we should try to make shine the light of the hidden divine life.

Martin Buber, The Way of Man

with much love and a deep bow

Friday, October 15, 2010

AWE-and then-SOME

What sad and awesome days we get to live through.

First there were the stories- one after another- as the media finally caught on to what our tribe has known for far too long- our young are dying, too often and unnecessarily because of being bullied, taunted and shamed for who they are and who they love.

This is not news, but thankfully the media has made it news lately, and as I read and wept over the details of these young men, I couldn't help but be proufoundly aware of what a powerful, transformative opportunity the Holy Spirit was offering we people of faith to witness, teach and embody the real truth of the life, death and unfailing love of our resurrected Lord.

Yes, I blogged the previous posts, and I emailed: my network of LGBT clergy,a bunch of gay sangha buddies,and some of the most awesome LGBT people of faith I know: urging them to post to IT GETS BETTER, to blog, to be visibly present at the memorials and protests at people of faith.

But there's a whole wondrous lot of folks who have wondrously done so very much more:

First of all Dan Savage and his husband, who couldn't possibly know what an incredible force for love healing and good they were unleashing on the world with their creation of that first post to IT GETS BETTER.

And in their wake the thousands- literally thousands of LGBT folk- MY TRIBE! who posted to the site. I've spent hours listening to you, hearing your stories and blessing you for your generosity.

And as I did I found myself sitting in a strangely familiar place- the realization that once again it was my tribe- the very victims of this violence, both verbal and physical, who were teaching the world; giving them a living example of what it truly means to be human- to be created in the image & likeness of the living God.

Once again it was LGBT owning that 'crucified place' and reaching out to others, the only embodiment love and hope and concrete, experiential advice many of them would know.

It was about then I bombarded many of those I love personally with my e-mail calls to witness and action, and I promptly was struck by two realizations:

As generous and loving, as brave and caring as my spiritual kin in the Church are, they and I both knew our love, encouragement and support couldn't quite be as generous and open-ended as we would all want it to be. By telling LGBT youth at risk they could be assured of unconditional love, support and acceptance at every Anglican/ Episcopal Church, in many cases would have only increased their suffering, their experiences of rejection, bigotry and emotional violence.

In the days which followed a few of our clergy preached, and preached powerfully and none more so than Michael Hopkins, and Ed Bacon of All Saints Passadina.

Two remarkable bishops: Mark Beckwith and George Councell issued a joint letter following the death of Tyler Clementi .

There was a letter from Bishop Mark Sisk to the people of New York

And it was about then that the second realization struck: recognizing how much homophobia is learnt or supported by 'official religion' made these messages necessary, but where was our Church where they were most needed: out there on U Tube
personally embodying to the Love beyond our wildest imagining which created us, redeemed us, sustains us, and daily calls us forth to live life more abundantly?

And it's about then we got the eminently lovable Harry and Wayne and remarkable Father Brian Coleman
And in the days since I continued to storm heaven for our Church to step up to the plate, to not this time blow the opportunity for transformative witness, healing and embodiment.

Well, as cold and damp as it is here in Montreal today, with driven rain and wild winds driving leaves off the trees and into the rain-soaked ground, we were given SUCH a gift- to our Church, to my tribe, to the world, with this: our Bishop Gene Robinson's personal witness... making his POWERFUL witness to God's unfailing, unconditional love and the vocation of LGBT people- right where it needs to be heard right now- on U Tube.

Words.... there's just aren't words for my deep personal gratitude to this cherished brother in Christ; for my appreciation and joy to be able to witness 'the Gene effect-'his powerful, positive presence and the Christ-centered directness of his ministry and for the difference he makes in LGBT lives- never more so than in the hall of more than three thousand LGBT leaders, the first time I heard the bishop speak.

Here's a thought: try imagining what our Church would be like if the blessed faithful of New Hampshire hadn't listened to the prompting of the Holy Spirit, if they hadn't acted on the answer to their prayers. Moribund, stale, status-fffing-quo ? Worse than you want to imagine!
Thank-you New Hampshire. God bless you New Hampshire- yeah, I know S/He already is, look at the extraordinary gift of a Bishop you got!

Another cherished friend who cannot go unmentioned is notre Grandmere Mimi, bien-aimee. Every step of this current growing awareness by the media of the tragic effects of the bullying of LGBT youth, Mimi has blogged- speaking out against homophobic bullying and lamenting these unnecessary deaths. Mimi has been a longtime courageous ally of full inclusion of the LGBT faithful; a refugee from Roman Catholicism, the lady is a living blessing to our Church, and we are the better for her voice and its witness. Today, Mimi's post directs us to another Church leader John Vest and his pastoral letter against homophobic bullying

And, as another 'much beloved' Elizabeth reminds us, U Tube videos such as Gene & Brian's can be powerful tools of ministry and teaching. Savy Elizabeth tells us, the more often the videos are accessed, the higher they rise in the IT GETS BETTER inventory. So please share them, please pass them on, please share them with the youth in your parishes, in your schools.

Yes,as wonderful as Harry & Wayne are, as powerfully prophetic as Brian and Gene witness to the unconditional, unfailing love of our God, I'm still storming heaven for more; more LGBT Anglicans/Episcopalians who will self-identify as such on camera, and witness to their lives, and their growth and healing in that Love beyond our wildest imagining.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Where are they?

Please don't get me wrong.

I am grateful- deeply grateful and very moved- for the intial act of courage and grace by Dan Savage and his spouse and for the incredible individuals who have stepped up to the plate and given their personal witness- speaking out against the bullying, violence and ugliness too many of our tribe experiences, and none more so than LGBT youth.

Of course, I'm speaking of the It Gets Better initiative.

Early this morning, I read that the original site has literally been overwhelmed with submissions and that Dan and his volunteers are scrambling to organize a site which will be able to accomidate this outpouring. But among all those thoughtful, caring, articulate individuals trying to reassure LGBT teens, I didn't see one priest, one bishop, one self-identifying Episcopalian or Anglican reaching out to those kids.

This evening, an online friend actually sent me a link to an Advocate story featuring some of what it considered the 'best' offerings- and yes, they were both powerful and impressive. But when I'd clicked my way through them all, I found myself needing to go to my bench with a very real sadness I was feeling.

And the longer I mindfully, prayerfully sat with the ache, I was surprised to find it went a lot deeper than either the details of the recent bully & the suicides they caused;or the touching testimonials of the 'It Gets Better' initiative. The underlying ache; the large, deep-muscle bruise is a long-standing one... the hurt of a gay person of faith waiting for the Churches to speak out, to stand up, to place themselves on the front lines with my tribe at this time of ugliness and suffering. Just as we waited in the first dark decades of AIDS on this continent. A time when we were essentially to consider ourselves lucky if certain Churches even agreed to bury our AIDS dead.

And once again, they, the Churches are making themselves noticable by their absence & silence; their seeming indifference; their preoccupation elsewhere in a month which has seen at least gay five suicides directly linked to homophobic bullying.

Though I have not been tracking the stories in any sort of systematic manner, I was only able to find one instance online of a denomination (the Society of Friends) speaking out and demonstrating. Yes, there are commemorative demonstrations and acts of solidarity in several U.S. cities tonight, but where is the voice or example of my own Church.

Once again life has offered our priests and bishops the opportunity to stand in the prophetic place, to embody the Love beyond our wildest imagining which created us, redeemed us, and thankfully continues to sustain us. And once again they the Churches appear to have missed their cue.

Perhaps saddest of all, is the fact their silence, their impotency, thir absence and withholding of their prophetic and healing gifts of ministry, no longer even surprises me.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Dr. Peter's Affirmation

You might have to be Canadian to appreciate and remember the prophetic impact of the life and work of Dr. Peter Jepson-Young, a very young, beautiful Canadian doctor who came out on national television as a gay man living with HIV/AIDS more than twenty years ago. For the time remaining, this beautiful spirit shared his life and the reality of living with AIDS with the people of Canada on CBC television, and the film made from his weekly broafcast went on to win an Academy Award.

In a very dark and frightening time, living on the front lines of AIDS service when most of our clients often daily lived the marginalization, poverty and rejection of a frightened world, Dr. Peter was a beacon of courage and very real grace for me.

Today marks the 20th Anniversary of the broadcasts, and in love, appreciation and gratitude for the life and example of Dr. Peter Jepson-Young I would offer Dr. Peter's Affirmation.


I accept and absorb all the strength of the earth
to keep my body hard and strong;

I accept and absorb all the energy of the sun
to keep my mind sharp and bright;

I accept and absorb all the life force of the ocean
to cleanse my body and bring me life;

I accept and absorb all the power of the wind
to cleanse my spirit and bring me life;

I accept and absorb all the mystery of the heavens,
for I am a part of the vast unknown.

I believe God to be all these elements,
and the force that unites them;

And from these elements I have come,
and to these elements I shall return;

But the energy that is me will not be lost.

Dr. Peter Jepson-Young
©1987, Dr. Peter AIDS Foundation

Rest eternal grant to him Oh Lord; let light perpetual shine upon him.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Extraordinary-Times Two!

Who would have thought- twice in one day- two very public admissions that mistakes- costly mistakes have been made!

First, of course. I’m referring to President Barak Obama’s prophetic admission in his address to the American people that the war in Iraq had been a mistake. God bless and protect that man please! As the American war machine gradually withdraws from its occupation of Iraq thousands upon thousands of American soldiers, mercenaries will be coming home to the morass of bankruptcies and dispossession the Republicans and their arch war criminals Bush and Chaney have left the nation in. If we think the Teabaggers are frightening, it’s really only going to get scary when unemployed/underemployed troops, many of them suffering from PTSD find themselves living with the daily realities of American excesses.
God forgive them, some of the returning soldiers may actually call for another war to deliver them from the realities many if not most of us have been struggling with in what the media is now calling the ‘Great Recession,’ though as I know only too well personally, there’s nothing great about any of the mess the f-fing Republican left the American people.

Seriously, I daily beg God’s protection and strength for President Obama; has the world ever seen a more ungrateful, self-obsessed bunch of spoiled brats than the Republicans and their ilk.

Iraq a mistake- the admission wonder number one.

The second one even more startling- the public admission by former president Fidel Castro that the arrest and persecution of Cuban gays during his administration was wrong, and he took personal responsibility for this!

Of course, he’s only taking responsibility for the legal repression during the first years of his regime as some Log Cabin Queens might only too readily point out, but the man’s got to start somewhere.

The friend who sent me the link to the Castro story, like myself, describes himself as an alienated Anglican and he shares much of my love, passion and respect for the prophetic, transformational possibilities in the Anglican principle of the three legged stool. As we’ve agreed more times than I can remember- often with some frustration or regret- the Anglican model really does have limitless potential for healing & transforming this world- for bringing about the healing, justice and restored humanity implicit in the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. But the link in his e-mail was also prefaced by a question: 'Does our Anglican Communion need the example of Fidel Castro, for it to get its shit together and start repenting?'

For their participation in countless generation of misogyny; the objectification, exploitation and abuse of our sisters- never more so than within its own walls.

For their complicity and cowardice in institutionalized, collective and personal anti-Semitism.

For their complicity, profiting and cowardice in the objectification, exploitation, suffering and the essential denial of the humanity people of colour- whether through the obscenities of slavery, colonialization, the Jim Crow laws, or a list of affronts to God and God’s creation too long for this space.

For their on-going objectification, vilification and their participation in the violence, discrimination, murder and objectification of my LGBT brothers and sisters- within and outside the Church.

In certain quarters- often with the best of intentions, I hear individuals within the leadership of our Church – many of who I respect and love personally- wrestling with the future of the Church- calling for a ‘servant Church’ model. Well amateur that I may be, I’m going further. In the name of the Love beyond our wildest imagining- that same Love which created us, Which incarnated and personally suffered the ignorance, hypocrisy, the pettiness and greed, the violence and injustice human beings only too often show themselves to be capable of- the Love which sustains us and continually offers us- individually and collectively- another chance; that same Love which overcame death on the cross and which unfailingly extends Her call to us to live ‘Life more abundantly'; in the name of that same Love, I’m calling for a repentant Church- a Church which not only owns it’s complicit past but which having de-constructed and learned the lessons of its past allows itself to be led by the Holy Spirit into being transformed into the Church God has called us to be since the creation of the world.

None of that ‘easy’ Book of Common Prayer acts of repentance, whose well crafted beauty works the tongue like the finest of wines; I’m suggesting the Church- OUR Church, might be long overdue for the type of transformative repentance which owns the particulars of its past, learns from them and outgrows them by leaving itself open to be re-made, transformed- transfigured. I’m suggesting that God’s Creation has been suffering and longing, bleeding, starving and dying; waiting for the ‘official Church ‘ to get over itself and get on with God’s business of healing the world.

Comment from another alienated Anglican- ‘as long as the Church continues to behave the way it does, it deserves to be deserted, denied and broken open.’ At the time she was actually referring to Rowan’s willingness to sacrifice our Episcopal brothers and sisters for the self-righteous, frightened rage & hate of the Anglican Taliban.

But the earlier question still stands: Does our Anglican Communion need the example of Fidel Castro for it to get its own shit together and start repenting?

Thursday, August 19, 2010

To get them thinking...

Out front weeding the other day with Willie the blessing daschund supervising; one of my neighbours stopped to chat on his way home . The first time we’d ever really talked; he’s in his early thirties and until that day it’s been little more than a cordial but rushed 'Bonjour' or 'Salut'. This happens with a lot of the people on our charmed little street when we're working in the front garden.

As my grandfather would have said, my neighbour's a tall drink of water, with thick 60’s sideburns down either side & a pencil-thin line of dark hair bracketing each side of his chin. Definitely a slightly homely original. When not dressed retro, he’s usually in what I've probably assumed were ‘medical whites-’ perhaps on staff at one of the medical facilities or seniors’ residences within easy distance of our little street. Turns out however he’s a kitchen aid at one of those same facilities, and his irregular hours account for his mid-afternoon return home. Six-a.m. ‘till three p.m. means he’s usually leaving home just before five-thirty in the morning.

It’s when we were speaking of his working hours that the conversation got really interesting. Talking about how his schedule can complicate relationships- out of sync with family, friends or a partner. And here it’s important to remember we were speaking in French where words have a qualifying gender association. Specifically, I’d referred to ‘ton partenaire- elle ou lui devrais...’ ‘your partner, he or she must..’.

In his very next sentence- without making an issue of it- he made it clear the partner was she- 'ma blonde' the girlfriend- and the ease of the clarification as much as anything was a reflection of the very civil reality of living in a country where gender is not a qualifying consideratin for marriage; where the rights of my LGBT tribe has been fully protected under the Canadian Human Rights Charter for decades (Merci encore Pierre Trudeau), and where gay men and women serve with full human dignity in our armed forces. We went on to speak of other things...

He’d already stepped away, and I was back on my knees just about to resume weeding when he hesitated and turned back. 'Est ce que je peut tu demander un question?’ Can I ask you something?

Mais oui..

'Did you really think I might be gay?' Not the slightest hint of anything but amused curiosity in his voice.

I couldn’t help it- I chuckled, and went on to explain that for me referring to the possibility of his partner being of either gender was a courtesy more than speculation about his gender. How, after living as an out gay may for more than a couple decades now, I’ve learned to never under-estimate the wondrous diversity of my LGBT tribe. And besides which, it got him thinking didn’t it?

It took him a moment, but he also laughed. 'You’re right... Growing up, one of my best friends was gay, and he works in construction now. A contractor with his own company. ‘Mais, j’ai jamais pensé que quel q’un pourrais me tromper pour un gaie..’ But I never thought...

Another chuckle, and he headed off for a quick nap and then to prepare supper for his ‘girlfriend’ who doesn’t get home until shortly before six.

And then last evening, a call from F and his partner who live in a state with none of the protection or rights offered to LGBT Canadians. F is in his early eighties. He, and M, his spouse of more than thirty years are both retired academics and apparently the other day heading out to do the groceries, F was stopped in the parking lot by one of his neighbours.

‘All this stuff, going on in California, about gay marriage... If it were possible, would the two of you, at your age even bother?’ Probably nothing more than idle curiosity on her part, F assured me, but I didn’t miss a beat- in reassuring her of course we would. 'The whole nine yards-' he told me, 'you know how M and I love to dress up.'

Apparently, just over a year ago, when invited to attended the black tie wedding of M’s niece ‘up north,’ the two of them had given a lot of thought to rental or purchase of new tuxedos. They’d ended up buying- ‘just in case it ever becomes possible’ F explained.

‘A civil marriage- sure- for the longer overdue legal rights and protections- to help create a new statistical reality...'

'Been married for twenty-eight years,’ F told his neighbour, ‘in the eyes of God at least- which is the only party who really matters.’

F & M were married by an Episcopal priest- a convert himself, he was also responsible for both mens’ encounter with the Episcopal Church- their baptism & confirmation. F & M are also godfathers to one of that priest’s grandsons. Now that's what I call the radical welcome of real mission!

‘You know what really gets me though-’ F told me with a hint of frustration, ‘when they insist on calling it same-sex marriage, as if our bits and pieces are the most important thing about us. ’

M was on their second phone and shared how he still loves confusing folks when he refers to F as his husband. ‘Of course, in the right company, I might also call him my wife...’ he chortled.

Things really got wild when I shared with both men the slight linguistic shift I resorted to several times recently. 'Gender-discordant couples-' and even that’s a little more reactive than I generally like to be. It doesn’t exactly disarm the prejudice and assumption of certain gender-discondantly-inclined individuals to try to impose their definitions what’s normal and acceptable in the eyes of God- but at least sometimes it gets folks thinking- or rethinking, and that’s got to be some sort of progress.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Prophetic Voices

Still early here, when I write this, but already the day has been nailed down in a larger awareness of our sacred vocation by three living prophets speaking truth to... our wounded, larger world.

First Mark+ Harris, a priest who- from all that I know of the dear man- is a living blessing of impecable integrity, prophetic courage and a wondrous gift to our Church. Mark is writing of 'Mission' specifically, but it sounded to me as one of the clearest expressions of our vocation to meet the Holy Spirit in the sacrament of our daily lives to live and labour- to dance towards becoming the healing, transformative- prophetic Church we are called to be. Mark writes:

Mission is on some important level a natural outgrowth of the Incarnation. If God is present in the world in Jesus, in whom the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and if Jesus was just as we are (yet without sin) then in some way, even in the sin and various small deaths in our lives we ought to be able to find God present, Jesus present, in all we meet. Finding God in new places and living with Jesus Christ present in the stranger is mission... being sent out to see where God is now.

Once we have seen Jesus, God present with us, we are doomed to going out and seeing the face of Jesus in those we meet and come to know. And, in that context - the context of knowing and meeting and caring - the Good News is realized. The Good News is that God has already been there and love those people, and therefore we too can go there and love them, and somehow in the mutuality of that encounter, God's saving Grace is realized.

And while we're still within the sacred process of the Church God is calling us all to be, I'd draw your attention to another post by blessed Elizabeth+ Kaeton at The challenging days Elizabeth and her spouse, the blessed Ms. Conroy are living through together has large, prophetic resonances for the vocation and future of our Church. Elizabeth is yet another living blessing and radiant gift to our Church and a deeply cherished friend. I'd not only refer you to this morning's post but would suggest you keep in touch with Elizabeth's blog in the weeks ahead.

The third prophetic voice is equally powerful and challenging. It's Chris Hedges- a man with whom I may often disagree over his read on details or degree, but whose intelligence, spiritual huger and humanity I greatly respect. I refer you to Chris' latest post 'The Tears of Gaza'

The Tears of Gaza Must Be Our Tears
Posted on Aug 9, 2010
By Chris Hedges

Chris Hedges made these remarks Thursday night in New York City at a fundraiser for sponsoring a U.S. boat to break the blockade of Gaza. More information can be found at

When I lived in Jerusalem I had a friend who confided in me that as a college student in the United States she attended events like these, wrote up reports and submitted them to the Israel consulate for money. It would be naive to assume this Israeli practice has ended. So, I want first tonight to address that person, or those persons, who may have come to this event for the purpose of reporting on it to the Israeli government.

I would like to remind them that it is they who hide in darkness. It is we who stand in the light. It is they who deceive. It is we who openly proclaim our compassion and demand justice for those who suffer in Gaza. We are not afraid to name our names. We are not afraid to name our beliefs. And we know something you perhaps sense with a kind of dread. As Martin Luther King said, the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice, and that arc is descending with a righteous fury that is thundering down upon the Israeli government.

You may have the bulldozers, planes and helicopters that smash houses to rubble, the commandos who descend from ropes on ships and kill unarmed civilians on the high seas as well as in Gaza, the vast power of the state behind you. We have only our hands and our hearts and our voices. But note this. Note this well. It is you who are afraid of us. We are not afraid of you. We will keep working and praying, keep protesting and denouncing, keep pushing up against your navy and your army, with nothing but our bodies, until we prove that the force of morality and justice is greater than hate and violence. And then, when there is freedom in Gaza, we will forgive ... you. We will ask you to break bread with us. We will bless your children even if you did not find it in your heart to bless the children of those you occupied. And maybe it is this forgiveness, maybe it is the final, insurmountable power of love, which unsettles you the most.

And so tonight, a night when some seek to name names and others seek to hide names, let me do some naming. Let me call things by their proper names. Let me cut through the jargon, the euphemisms we use to mask human suffering and war crimes. “Closures” mean heavily armed soldiers who ring Palestinian ghettos, deny those trapped inside food or basic amenities—including toys, razors, chocolate, fishing rods and musical instruments—and carry out a brutal policy of collective punishment, which is a crime under international law. “Disputed land” means land stolen from the Palestinians. “Clashes” mean, almost always, the killing or wounding of unarmed Palestinians, including children. “Jewish neighborhoods in the West Bank” mean fortress-like compounds that serve as military outposts in the campaign of ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians. “Targeted assassinations” mean extrajudicial murder. “Air strikes on militant bomb-making posts” mean the dropping of huge iron fragmentation bombs from fighter jets on densely crowded neighborhoods that always leaves scores of dead and wounded, whose only contact with a bomb was the one manufactured in the United States and given to the Israeli Air Force as part of our complicity in the occupation. “The peace process” means the cynical, one-way route to the crushing of the Palestinians as a people.

These are some names. There are others. Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish in the late afternoon of Jan. 16, 2009, had a pair of Israeli tank shells rip through a bedroom in his Gaza apartment, killing three of his daughters—Bessan, Mayar and Aya—along with a niece, Noor.

“I have the right to feel angry,” says Abuelaish. “But I ask, ‘Is this the right way?’ So many people were expecting me to hate. My answer to them is I shall not hate.”

“Whom to hate?” asks the 55-year-old gynecologist, who was born a Palestinian refugee and raised in poverty. “My Israeli friends? My Israeli colleagues? The Israeli babies I have delivered?”

The Palestinian poet Taha Muhammad Ali wrote this in his poem “Revenge”:

At times ... I wish

I could meet in a duel

the man who killed my father

and razed our home,

expelling me


a narrow country.

And if he killed me,

I’d rest at last,

and if I were ready—

I would take my revenge!


But if it came to light,

when my rival appeared,

that he had a mother

waiting for him,

or a father who’d put

his right hand over

the heart’s place in his chest

whenever his son was late

even by just a quarter-hour

for a meeting they’d set—

then I would not kill him,

even if I could.


Likewise ... I

would not murder him

if it were soon made clear

that he had a brother or sisters

who loved him and constantly longed to see him.

Or if he had a wife to greet him

and children who

couldn’t bear his absence

and whom his gifts would thrill.

Or if he had

friends or companions,

neighbors he knew

or allies from prison

or a hospital room,

or classmates from his school …

asking about him

and sending him regards.


But if he turned

out to be on his own—

cut off like a branch from a tree—

without a mother or father,

with neither a brother nor sister,

wifeless, without a child,

and without kin or neighbors or friends,

colleagues or companions,

then I’d add not a thing to his pain

within that aloneness—

not the torment of death,

and not the sorrow of passing away.

Instead I’d be content

to ignore him when I passed him by

on the street—as I

convinced myself

that paying him no attention

in itself was a kind of revenge.

And if these words are what it means to be a Muslim, and I believe it does, name me too a Muslim, a follower of the prophet, peace be upon him.

The boat to Gaza will be named “The Audacity of Hope.” But these are not Barack Obama’s words. These are the words of my friend the Rev. Jeremiah Wright. They are borrowed words. And Jerry Wright is not afraid to speak the truth, not afraid to tell us to stop confusing God with America. “We bombed Hiroshima, we bombed Nagasaki, and we nuked far more than the thousands [killed] in New York and the Pentagon, and we never batted an eye,” Rev. Wright said. “We have supported state terrorism against the Palestinians and black South Africans, and now we are indignant because the stuff we have done overseas is now brought right back into our own front yards. America’s chickens are coming home to roost.”

Or the words of Edward Said:

Nothing in my view is more reprehensible than those habits of mind in the intellectual that induce avoidance, that characteristic turning away from a difficult and principled position which you know to be the right one, but which you decide not to take. You do not want to appear too political; you are afraid of seeming controversial; you want to keep a reputation for being balanced, objective, moderate; your hope is to be asked back, to consult, to be on a board or prestigious committee, and so to remain within the responsible mainstream; someday you hope to get an honorary degree, a big prize, perhaps even an ambassadorship.

For an intellectual these habits of mind are corrupting par excellence. If anything can denature, neutralize, and finally kill a passionate intellectual life it is the internalization of such habits. Personally I have encountered them in one of the toughest of all contemporary issues, Palestine, where fear of speaking out about one of the greatest injustices in modern history has hobbled, blinkered, muzzled many who know the truth and are in a position to serve it. For despite the abuse and vilification that any outspoken supporter of Palestinian rights and self-determination earns for him or herself, the truth deserves to be spoken, represented by an unafraid and compassionate intellectual.

And some of the last words of Rachel Corrie to her parents:

I’m witnessing this chronic, insidious genocide and I’m really scared, and questioning my fundamental belief in the goodness of human nature. This has to stop. I think it is a good idea for us all to drop everything and devote our lives to making this stop. I don’t think it’s an extremist thing to do anymore. I still really want to dance around to Pat Benatar and have boyfriends and make comics for my coworkers. But I also want this to stop. Disbelief and horror is what I feel. Disappointment. I am disappointed that this is the base reality of our world and that we, in fact, participate in it. This is not at all what I asked for when I came into this world. This is not at all what the people here asked for when they came into this world. This is not the world you and Dad wanted me to come into when you decided to have me. This is not what I meant when I looked at Capital Lake and said: “This is the wide world and I’m coming to it.” I did not mean that I was coming into a world where I could live a comfortable life and possibly, with no effort at all, exist in complete unawareness of my participation in genocide. More big explosions somewhere in the distance outside. When I come back from Palestine, I probably will have nightmares and constantly feel guilty for not being here, but I can channel that into more work. Coming here is one of the better things I’ve ever done. So when I sound crazy, or if the Israeli military should break with their racist tendency not to injure white people, please pin the reason squarely on the fact that I am in the midst of a genocide which I am also indirectly supporting, and for which my government is largely responsible.

And if this is what it means to be a Christian, and I believe it does, to speak in the voice of Jeremiah Wright, Edward Said or Rachel Corrie, to remember and take upon us the pain and injustice of others, then name me a Christian, a follower of Jesus Christ.

And what of the long line of Jewish prophets that run from Jeremiah, Isaiah and Amos to Hannah Arendt, who reminded the world when the state of Israel was founded that the injustice meted out to the Jews could not be rectified by an injustice meted out to the Palestinians, what of our own prophets, Noam Chomsky or Norman Finkelstein, outcasts like all prophets, what of Uri Avnery or the Israeli poet Aharon Shabtai, who writes in his poem “Rypin,” the Polish town his father escaped from during the Holocaust, these words:

These creatures in helmets and khakis,

I say to myself, aren’t Jews,

In the truest sense of the word. A Jew

Doesn’t dress himself up with weapons like jewelry,

Doesn’t believe in the barrel of a gun aimed at a target,

But in the thumb of the child who was shot at—

In the house through which he comes and goes,

Not in the charge that blows it apart.

The coarse soul and iron first

He scorns by nature.

He lifts his eyes not to the officer, or the soldier

With his finger on the trigger—but to justice,

And he cries out for compassion.

Therefore, he won’t steal land from its people

And will not starve them in camps.

The voice calling for expulsion

Is heard from the hoarse throat of the oppressor—

A sure sign that the Jew has entered a foreign country

And, like Umberto Saba, gone into hiding within his own city.

Because of voices like these, father

At age sixteen, with your family, you fled Rypin;

Now here Rypin is your son.

And if to be Jew means this, and I believe it does, name me a Jew. Name us all Muslims and Christians and Jews. Name us as human beings who believe that when one of us suffers all of us suffer, that we never have to ask for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for us all, that the tears of the mother in Gaza are our tears, that the wails of the bloodied children in Al Shifa Hospital are the wails of our own children.

Let me close tonight with one last name. Let me name those who send these tanks and fighter jets to bomb the concrete hovels in Gaza with families crouching, helpless, inside, let me name those who deny children the right to a childhood and the sick a right to care, those who torture, those who carry out assassinations in hotel rooms in Dubai and on the streets of Gaza City, those who deny the hungry food, the oppressed justice and foul the truth with official propaganda and state lies. Let me call them, not by their honorific titles and positions of power, but by the name they have earned for themselves by draining the blood of the innocent into the sands of Gaza. Let me name them for who they are: terrorists

Difficult and challenging times though they be, there has never been any possible doubt of the acting, caring, transformative presence of the Holy Spirit in our midst, and of Her unfaltering invitation to us- heart and arms open wide- for us to join Her in the sacred dance of healing this world- and this morning I give heartfelt thanks for each of these three voices and their prophetic courage.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

This is NOT a joke

Truly amazing the grief and pain we are expected to suffer these days in the name of our Anglican faith- and what makes it sadder still is that most, if not all of this comes from the hands of those who so proudly sport their purple shirts and shiny pectoral crosses.
Case in point, an innocent Google news search this morning of the word ‘Anglican’ for the latest in Anglican-land brought up the following headlines:

‘General Synod Gives Anglican Trads in England No Option on Female Bishops’ from Peter J. Smith at something called

‘Gay Anglican blocked from becoming bishop’ from AFP

Perhaps intended as a more positive note, there was also:

‘Church of England bishops 'will be allowed to become nuns', according to Synod source’ from Damian Thompson at the Telegraph UK

‘Anglicans to relax rules on church weddings’ from The Guardian

‘Learn about Anglican chant with new series’ from Lexi Bainas at The Citizen

Not that I look to the secular press for either my theology or spiritual nourishment; I was practicing what became a useful ingredient in the grief management program I co-developed during the darkest years of AIDS here in Montreal. Essentially, what I was looking for this morning was a sense of the message the official organs of our Church was sending to the ‘secular world’ it only too readily objectifies and vilifies.

Perhaps I should have known better; having survived the last decade of life in Anglican-land; but I came away sadder than ever and seriously concerned about the functional competency of certain ‘official Anglicans’ who continue to inflict yet one wound after another on our Church.

In a nutshell, it would appear that by their latest actions, the purple shirts of the CoE are basically telling the world our Church is incapable of engaging with contemporary realities in an authentic, engaging manner, and showing by their actions that the assessment of those who walked out of our pews or who have never darkened are door is correct- our Church is essentially irrelevant to their lives.

‘General Synod Gives Anglican Trads in England No Option on Female Bishops’: That certain quarters within our Church are even having this discussion: questioning the vocations of certain fellow Christians to the episcopacy because of their gender, is scandalous. That they are also wasting time, energy and the Church’s resources arguing over the means for accommodating the self-righteous misogyny of certain quarters is worse than scandalous, especially when one considers that similar pandering to prejudice in the secular world would be considered illegal.

‘Gay Anglican blocked from becoming bishop’ once again, becoming more and more Vatican-like in its pronouncements, the response of an official organ of our Church is a resounding NO to the realities of the sacrament of life in this time and place, apparently never for a moment entertaining the possibility that the Holy Spirit, Herself, might indeed be trying to accomplish a transformative miracle through the incredible, faithful lives and witness of our LGBT brother and sisters in our midst.

Not that this should come as a surprise, following on the heels of Dr. John’s earlier call to the episcopacy, and the shameful violation of his personhood when he was required to assure certain delicate sensibilities that his marriage is indeed celibate.

O.K., but what about the other headlines our Church has made in the last twenty-four hours?

‘Church of England bishops 'will be allowed to become nuns'

Less than a week ago, an e-mail I received bore the caption ‘YOUR Church is a bad joke people don’t even hear anymore-never mind bother to laugh at.’ This from a well-known, Anglican-born, human-rights lawyer who had served in a number of capacities in a wealthy Anglican parish and now worships in the United Church of Canada when she is home here in Canada. ‘More and more Anglican culture is showing itself reactive, incapable and irrelevant of addressing & engaging the complexities of contemporary life on this earth- a mockery of Christ’s passion for his creation,’ she wrote in response to the denial of Dr. John’s candidacy.

‘Anglicans to relax rules on church weddings’

‘Learn about Anglican chant with new series’

The meaningless irrelevancy of these last two should be obvious.

In a world which is literally choking on the fruits of Christian imperialist objectification of God’s creation, where thousand die unnecessarily each hour due to the unchristian distribution of creation’s resources; where millions will never know anything by abject poverty; where wars are waged and anonymous bombs are set off daily in the name of the god certain nations and individuals have been taught, where one half of humanity is objectified, exploited, , still forced to live under legalized discrimination to accommodate fearful misogynists, mutilated, violated and publically stoned, the best the Synod of one of the principal and most visible provinces of our Church can do this morning with the Good News of our lord Jesus Christ is ‘Anglicans to relax rules on church weddings’ and ‘Learn about Anglican chant with new series’?

As simplistic as it might sound, I think there’s only one question I’d ask of Rowan this morning:

What would Jesus do- you remember Him- turning the money changers out of the temple- calling the purity police of his times on their impersonations of whitened sepulchres?

Or if that’s just a little too uncomfortably obvious, how about ‘Just what do you think the Holy Spirit might be trying to accomplish –through the message of our empty pews- the persistent radiant presence of our LGBT brothers and sisters in faith- through the repeated dismissal of your impotent objectification of the complexities of contemporary life- your repeated failure to accommodate misogyny and homophobia in our cannons and congregations – and the toxic results complicity in corporate culture and your refusal to prophetically witness to the fruits of imperialistic hubris?

Yes, there is the shining exception of our American brothers and sisters- led by our wondrous sister +Katherine, and forever indebted to the courage and faith of the current Bishop of New Hampshire in answering God’s call to the episcopacy; which essentially resulted in our Church being dragged- kicking and self-righteously screaming in some quarters, into the twentieth century. But the price these two individuals, and countless others have paid and continue to pay is unconscionable and should be an embarrassment to our Church.

And perhaps that’s what saddens me the most this morning- the possibility that in certain quarters these issue might be little more than the contemporary version of debating how many angels can dance on the head of a metaphorical pin. While for the rest of us –the little guys- our faith can literally at times be a matter of life and death, a costly reality. Our faith is not an 'academic matter. Our lives are lives are not a joke for the jousting and idle speculation of purple shirted egos.

Another voice I’ve listened to within the last week- another life-long Anglican told me she doesn’t even want to hear from the Church anymore, whose involvement is reduced to Sunday eight o’clock communion and the generous monthly check she send by mail. ‘I’m beginning to feel like one of those Roman Catholics who live their faith inspite of their Church- inspite of the foolishness over birth control, inspite of the scandals of pedophile priests, inspite of the silly get-ups and obscene excesses seemingly necessary for the Roman rite while millions starve and children die of malnutrition.

And judging by this morning’s offerings of the currently most visible quarter of our Church to the world, I understand exactly what she’s saying.

Rowan the Irrelevant and John the.... (well that one may be only too obvious I’m afraid) you’ve sacrificed the very last suggestion of any confidence in your leadership, in this quarter at least. ‘Official’ though you may be, you leave me feeling something other than Anglican- one of those folks with no option but to live and find their faith in but inspite of the antics of their ‘Official Church.’

We are indeed a people of hope, as one much loved brother reminds me, and all my hope is on the working of the Holy Ghost in this sorry mess, and thankfully She’s not finished with us yet!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

I post this in love, prayers & faith for a truly treasured friend in faith Kirstin, who today enters hospital to begin a punnishing first round of treatments for her second travail in the school of cancer.

Kirstin, who blogs at is a member of the Episcopal Church in Californa & has a wonderful ministry with street people.
Articulate, intelligent, gutsy- qualities I love in many of the people I love; no one is more surprised than I how cherished this being has become to me, how much her struggle has woven itself in my heart and its days.

I'm make that begging your prayers for Kirstin

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.

My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live:
If Jordan above me shall roll,
No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life
Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.

But, Lord, ’tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait,
The sky, not the grave, is our goal;
Oh, trump of the angel! Oh, voice of the Lord!
Blessed hope, blessed rest of my soul!

And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul !

It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Love you Kirstin

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

We Stand Inside Your Church

This past week-end the U.S. celebrated/honoured the memory of Stonewall, of those who have gone before us, those we may have lost for now.
What better time to remember the work of a LGBT elder and personal hero- Malcolm Boyd - who has graced and suffered our Church as a priest for more than fifty years.
This prayer comes to us through the generous ministry of Kittredge Cherry, an author & radiant minister in the MCC Church, and is offered with love and profound gratitude most particularly for the radiant priesthood of two treasured brothers in faith, who actually got to meet each other this past week-end.

We Stand Inside Your Church
By Malcolm Boyd

Christ, as lesbians and gay men we stand inside your church and know a wholeness that can benefit it. We learned long ago that we must regard the lilies of the field, putting our trust in you.

Pressured to hide our identities and gifts, we have served you with an unyielding, fierce, vulnerable love inside the same church that condemned us.

Carefully taught that we must feel self-loathing, nevertheless we learned integrity and dignity and how to look into your face and laugh with grateful joy, Jesus.

Although we have suffered a long and continuing torture, we assert a stubborn, unshakable faith in your holy justice.

Negativism was drummed into us as thoroughly as if we were sheet metal. We learned what it is to be misunderstood, perceived as alien, even sometimes hated. Yet, because of your grace and love, we witness to the fullness and beauty of all human creation, including ours, in your image.

We are alive and well and stand inside your church. Bless us, Christ, to your service.

source:Equal Rites: Lesbian and Gay Worship, Ceremonies, and Celebrations