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.