Saturday, June 30, 2007

Attention, Friends of the Geranium Farm!

Almost every day, I enjoy the essays of Barbara Crafton's "Almost-Daily E-mo" delivered into my e-mail inbox. From time to time, I have featured some of her essays here. One of her messages this week included an out-of-ordinary appeal, which I copy here:

Dear friends, the Geranium Farm could use a little help! Donations to the Farm cover the cost of the website and – full disclosure – Barbara Crafton's pension payments, which are a bit overdue at present. If you have enjoyed the eMos over the years and can afford to do so, a modest donation would surely come in handy right now. Please be assured that this is not a marketing preamble that will end up with your having to pay for the eMos – they are, and will always remain, gloriously free.

But it does cost us money to keep them coming. A few facts: the Geranium Farm is in 68 countries now, visited by thousands of people every day. The eMos themselves go to about 20,000 people. At any given time, 350-450 candles are lit in prayer in the Vigils section of the Farm. The Farm has a deacon, Joanna Depue, whose ministry has been approved by our bishop – making her the first virtual deacon in the church. It has a parish kitchen, the HodgePodge, in which you can find out all sorts of interesting things. It furnishes audio versions of the eMos to the sight-impaired or just to people who really miss the South – they are read by Buddy Stallings, a Missisippian. Carol Stone writes about economics from a Christian perspective in such a way that even I can understand it. There is a You-Tube presence through the ministry of Matthew Moretz, by far the coolest person on the Farm, whose popular "Fr. Matthew Presents" video explains it all to you, and Lane Denson's "Out of Nowhere" appears regularly on the Farm, along with the work of other writers. There is an archive of every eMo ever published. And there is more.

If you can help us keep it all afloat, please do. I will be most grateful. Visit

I mailed my check today. I encourage you to do the same, if you're one who has enjoyed Barbara's+ reflections and contributions to the wider church. If you don't know her, click here to visit the Geranium Farm. She often recalls me to "first things," when the wackiness of the Anglican Communion threatens to distract me. Please support her work, if you can.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Oh, Canada!

Look who's back! The Admiral of Morality, whose wisdom and wit I value much, has been almost as quiet as Brother Causticus. He had posted only twice in the past month, and I confess I had grown slack about checking his blog.

Some wellspring seems to have broken forth, however, and now I find that he has spoken on several topics in the past week – on the actions of secessionists in California and Colorado, parishes making a real difference in their community, Baron Carey of Clifton [a.k.a. the 103rd Archbishop of Canterbury], Virginia's rejection of the Anglican Covenant draft, and the actions of Canada's General Synod. (And, yeah, I'll also acknowledge that in one post he mentioned me and this blog; I'm still coping with nosebleed from being mentioned in the same breath as the venerable Bishop Epting and Tobias+ Haller! I am not worthy to gather up the crumbs from under their tables . . . . But I digress.)

But here's my point . . . and I do have one. Ever since watching the webcast of the Anglican Church of Canada's General Synod, I have wanted to write about the two "headline" resolutions on which they acted. In one, they declared that the blessing of same-sex unions is not inconsistent with core doctrine. In the next, they declined to authorize such blessings. Now I see that the good Admiral has articulated some of my own thoughts (and many better ones) at his "Lift High the Cross."

Here are a few snippets:

The effect of this outcome is to demonstrate quite clearly, that the people and clergy of the Anglican Church in Canada, a country where same sex marriage is established everywhere, already view same sex unions as normative paths to holy lives. The bishops do not share this view, at least not enough to act on it positively as a body. Their position has no doubt been partly arrived at, by the regular and intense lobbying of the Archbishops of York and Canterbury, who have also urged the House of Bishops in the United States, to act in a similar way.

Some bishops, speaking to the Anglican Journal after the weekend's vote, indicated that this was because the "theological work" had not been done on blessings, or that it has been done "somewhat improperly," using the wrong words. . . . This sort of criticism against the Report, is certainly not credible. The Report . . . provides strong and clear theology. It is a model of synodical processes and discernment. Going forward, it is certainly a strong and persuasive model for any Church throughout the Communion.

The real issue, as the pastoral directive indicated, is the intense pressure the Canadian Church, especially the bishops preparing for Lambeth, are under to not make further waves.It is the same pressure that has been brought to bear against the Episcopal Church for years . . . .
He rightly observes that both the U.S. and Canadian churches have been subject to immense "political" pressure. That pressure has not come just from the "Global South" and dissidents within our church, but from some who share or have shared our theological views. [cf Rowan Williams]

He notes, as did we all, that the Canadian clergy and laity voted quite clearly in support of blessing gay relationships. In the order of bishops, the vote failed 19-21. The Admiral remarks:

The Synod shows . . . the clear disconnect not only with our discernment and actions, but with our people and bishops. Bishops are supposed to be symbols for and real keepers of, unity in the Church. This unity, however, cannot be had at the price of deception or by ignoring the beating of the Holy Spirit's wings. This type of unity is not real.What is real, is that the people and clergy of the Anglican Church of Canada, like other true and faithful Christians around the world, hear the beating [of the Spirit's wings]. . . .But we are a Church where this is not enough. It is not enough to have the people and clergy do one thing, while the bishops do another. The impulse against this sort of dis-union helps to define us as Episcopalians and Anglicans.
To which I say: Amen! Go there and read that.

I will add these further remarks, at the risk of incurring the wrath of my friends on the progressive side.

I was very happy when our General Convention consented to the consecration of Gene Robinson to the episcopate. I viewed it then – and I still do – as a gigantic leap forward for the Church. However, I regret that our church had not already approved a liturgy (building upon the theological work that had been done) to provide for the blessing of same-sex unions. There, I think we got it backwards. It would have been more easily defensible if we had developed such a liturgy and now-Bishop Robinson and his mate had received that sacrament, before he was consecrated a bishop in our church. But we are people of the Incarnation. The good people of New Hampshire elected him, and our church consented to that election, because the bishops and delegates at General Convention perceived in him the fruits of the Spirit. I support the decision, even as I wish the "order" or chronology had been different.

I hope our church will soon set it right by adopting a liturgy for the blessing of gay/lesbian "unions" or "marriages" or whatever they choose to call it. No matter what Canterbury or the Lambeth Conference or the Primates do in the intervening years, I hope we will draw upon Canada's work: get our theology and our practice and our liturgy all in synch. No more "under the radar" blessings. No more "wink-wink-nod-nod." No more "plausible deniability" from bishops, nor clergy having to "make it up as they go along." Let's develop a liturgy that reflects our theology, and get on with it.

Face it: No matter what we do, we're already "toast" in the eyes of the conservatives and neo-Puritans who are nominally still within the Episcopal Church. [Cf +Duncan et al] There is absolutely nothing we can do that will make the vociferous Africans [cf +Akinola et al] withdraw the bishops they have installed to support insurrection and poach our parishes. The more I survey the Anglican landscape, the more convinced I am that our only option is to continue on the course upon which we began at the 2003 General Convention. But this time, let's not do it by half-measures. Let's work to get everybody on board (as the Canadians are doing … albeit too slowly for some of us), and get on with being the Body of Christ in this place.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Road Trip

When I wrote Tuesday, I was in the middle of a business road-trip. I like my job, and I handle the day-to-day stuff just fine. But what really excites me is getting out of the office to consult with folks in the towns and counties around our state. That's what I got to do this week. There's something about "hitting the road" that excites me.

The trip this week was to some far-flung rural places. For me, one of the best features of this trip was this it was entirely on state and county roads. In two days and nearly 500 miles of driving, I never set tire upon an interstate highway.

I started my work in Warrensburg – a town whose chief "claim to fame" is that it was the site of the "Old Drum" court case back in 1870. As the U.S. Senate site describes the case:
The lawsuit concerned the shooting of "Old Drum," the best hunting dog of a local farmer. A neighbor who suspected that Old Drum was moonlighting by killing his sheep gave orders to shoot the dog if it appeared on the property again. When Old Drum was found dead near the neighbor's house, the farmer filed suit, seeking damages of fifty dollars. . . . Vest's summation to the jury (pdf) at that trial has become familiar to dog lovers across the country through succeeding generations. . . . So famous did it become that, in 1958, the town of Warrensburg, Missouri, where the speech took place, erected a bronze statue to honor Old Drum . . . .
Hanky Alert! If you are a dog lover, don't read Vest's "summation to the jury" without a Kleenex nearby. This is the speech in which "A man's best friend is his dog" was coined. Vest's closing argument in the Old Drum case, known as his "eulogy to the dog," won the case and became a classic speech, recognized by William Safire as one of the best of the millennium. For the sake of my dog-loving friends, I captured some shots of the bronze statue of Old Drum on the courthouse square.

Then I headed north, almost to the Iowa state line. Maybe it's just a sign that I've been in the Midwest for so long that I found these vistas beautiful.

As I neared my destination, turning north from one county road to another, this sight stretched ahead of me. I don't know whether you can make it out. In the distance, what I saw was a huge wind-farm ahead of me. I talked today with someone who lives there, and she tells me that these gigantic windmills were 12 miles away. Amazing!

All in all, I was amazed at the quiet beauty of this little corner of Missouri.

I know: You count on me to deliver opinions and rants on the state of the Anglican Communion. This week, I simply enjoyed a delightful drive through some rural areas of Missouri. No doubt, I'll be back to Anglican commentary and ranting in the next few days.

Scotty Update

A few of you have asked how Scotty's getting along. I wish I could offer something more definitive. He's still in the vet hospital. His glucose levels keep bouncing all over the chart (from 50 to well over 500). He is looking a little more lively. The World's Best Vet and I continue talking and working on it. But I cannot tell what the future will hold for either of us.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007


Sorry I had to leave without covering the rest of the Canadian General Synod. I intended to drive to St. Louis Sunday for "Mass on the Grass" in Tower Grove Park and my first-ever "Gay Pride" parade. [Hat-tip to Cecelia, who's already expressed my thoughts about the "pride" phrase.]

But things took a different turn Sunday. When I woke bright and early, I realized that my big orange guy was not at all well. I called my vet at home, and she met me at the clinic. It's the same diagnosis as back in the fall (diabetic ketoacidosis), and she has begun the same treatment routine. So far, he's holding his own. [You can find background in my October postings, or just search "Scotty" in this blog.]

Unfortunately, I had to "hit the road" Monday morning for a business trip that couldn't be rescheduled. But I'll see him again Wednesday.

Meanwhile, a local news station carried this coverage of the Pride event in St. Louis, focusing on the Episcopal Diocese's participation. I'm glad they focused on the church's participation. But it did tick me off when they identified Jeff as "Activist" when "Episcopalian" or "gay Episcopalian" would have been the accurate identification. Would the active conservatives be labeled "activists"? I think not. But consider the source: the segment ran on the Fox affiliate. Friends who were there tell me we had over 240 Episcopalians marching in the parade -- by far the biggest turnout ever. A lot of us -- gay and straight -- felt it was especially important to get the word out that there is a church where gay folks are welcome and happy; I'm grateful for those who marched when I could not.

Enough for now. I have organizations with which to consult and miles to go before returning home tonight.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Canadian Anglicans cont'd

They're now debating Resolution 186 (Blessing of Same Sex Unions - Core Doctrine of ACC), which has been amended (via a friendly amended) to read: "That this General Synod resolves that the blessing of same-sex unions is not in conflict with the core doctrine of The Anglican Church of Canada."

A conservative moved to refer the question to the bishops' Pastoral Theological Commission, but that motion failed. It passed in the house of Bishops (18 no, and 21 yes) , but failed (150 no, and 95 yes) among the clergy and laity.

Debate now is continuing on the main resolution.

I'll continue writing here.

8:50 pm update: I'm not sure about all the parliamentary procedures, but it seems they have ended debate because that's what the agenda called for.

No vote was taken on Resolution 186.

I kept watching, though, even after the session ended.

We Anglicans have a rich musical heritage. We have much to celebrate in that heritage. But the Canadians ended the night with a couple of guys playing guitar. (It wouldn't surprise me to learn that our GC has done the same thing, but they didn't have Webcasts.) It was very nice guitar, mind you. But still . . .

Sheesh! Spare us all, O God, from the musical indulgences of relevant and revisionist liturgical planners.

Anglican Church of Canada

This afternoon I've been watching the "open discussion" about the resolutions before the Anglican Church of Canada's General Synod (analogous to our General Convention) regarding same-sex unions.

They'll resume tonight, and you can watch the Webcast on their site.

Father Jake (among others) provides a description about the action the Canadians took this morning. As he reported, the Canadian church this morning voted that "the blessing of same-sex unions is a matter of doctrine, but is not core doctrine in the sense of being credal."

I think they were wrong to term it a "doctrinal" matter, as I continue to believe it's a matter of adiaphora, but never mind. That's the action they took, and so that's how the discussion will proceed.

I tuned into the Webcast this afternoon.

These are the resolutions they were discussing, and on which they will vote tonight:
Resolution Number: A185 (Voting Requirement for Resolutions A186 and A187)
That resolutions A186 and A187 be deemed to have been carried only if they receive the affirmative votes of sixty percent of the members of each Order present and voting, and if a vote by dioceses is requested, only if they receive the affirmative votes of sixty percent of the dioceses whose votes are counted.

Resolution Number: A186 (Blessing of Same Sex Unions - Core Doctrine of ACC)
That this General Synod resolves that the blessing of same-sex unions is consistent with the core doctrine of The Anglican Church of Canada.

Resolution Number: A187 (Blessing of Same Sex Unions)
That this General Synod affirm the authority and jurisdiction of any diocesan synod, with the concurrence of its bishop, to authorize the blessing of committed same sex unions.

Resolution Number: A189 (Revision of Canon 21 on Marriage)
That this General Synod request the Council of General Synod to consider a revision of Canon 21 (On Marriage) including theological rationale to allow marriage of all legally qualified persons and to report back to General Synod 2010.
The open discussion this afternoon was on these resolutions. Here are my observations, in no particular order.

This was the Anglican Canadian Church General Synod (analogous to our General Convention) acting as a "committee of the whole," in which there was open discussion with no votes, no motions, no amendments. I gather they just wanted to give folks a chance to comment openly. I think that's a good thing. Tonight's session is where the action will happen.

Unlike us in 2003, the Canadians don't have a "do or die" issue before them. They don't have to vote a gay bishop's consecration up or down. But a number of resolutions are before them regarding the issue of same-sex blessings (SSBs), about which they must decide. The background on all this is more than I can (or want to) tackle here.

The statements were overwhelmingly against SSBs. I didn't tally the statements, but my impression was they were something like 80% against. It was difficult to watch/hear so many people stand up and give their (to me) narrow understandings of Scripture. Person after person denied the godliness and Spirtual gifts that I have seen in gay/lesbian relationships.

What made it all the more difficult is that the conservatives seemed so kind and heartfelt in their statements. There was no lambasting. They seemed to be genuinely pained and genuinely to be seeking the Spirit's guidance.

It was good to be able to view the discussion live. I hope that the Episcopal Church will have similar live Webcasting technology available when General Convention meets in 2009. It was good to see and hear the statements -- not just to read the "spin." I remember how desperate I was to hear reports from GC06 and how grateful I was to read the bloggers who reported promptly about what happened. The Canadians have gone one, very good step further in Webcasting their Synod. Good on them!

Here are some pedestrian observations from my watching this open discussion:
  • The Canadians don't seem to wear "symbols" of their order as we Episcopalians do. I couldn't tell from their dress whether they were laity, clergy, or bishops. They dressed pretty casually -- almost no collars or purple shirts -- and it was only through an occasional comment that I could discern whether any were priests or bishops in the church. From the photos I saw of our General Convention, priests and deacons wear collars, and bishops wear their purple shirts. I wonder how come the culture in the Canadian church is so different.
  • It seemed to me that the speakers were overwhelmingly male and white. To me, our General Convention seems much more "colorful" and diverse. My impression was that there are many more women who speak in our General Convention. I wonder what's the difference.
  • In two hours of statements, with speakers limited to 3 minutes each, I must have heard nearly 60 speakers. But I don't think I heard more than two people self-identify as gay or lesbian. My impression is that the Episcopal Church had many more gay and lesbian speakers at our General Convention. Are there just no gay men and lesbians in the Anglican Church of Canada's General Synod? or are they afraid to speak? or are they waiting 'til tonight to speak?
Those are my pedestrian observations. Here are the ones that I think are more substantive, as I listened to and watched Canada's General Synod.

The Canadians are aware -- surely more than we were in 2006 -- that their votes may bring upon them the same kind of ire that we have suffered from the Global South. Similarly, they are more aware that they may be subject to the kind of primatial boundary-crossings that we have witnessed in the Episcopal Church.

I was impressed by the people who expressed strong love for their brothers and sisters in the Canadian church. Maybe the same level of passion was expressed in our General Convention, but having the Canadian sessions Webcast let me see their fervor and passion. In their statements, several acknowledged that there may be deep divisions as a result of their votes tonight -- the acknowledgement that some people may leave the church, depending on the outcome. I was impressed by the folks who passionately wished for a way to heal the divisions before they adjourn their General Synod meeting.

I've babbled on here for too long without making too much sense of all this.

I encourage you to log on and watch tonight, as I will.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Living In A Crucified Place

Over at Telling Beads, Jeffri Harre has posted Living in a Crucified Place, which echoes some of my own thoughts when I saw our Presiding Bishop's interview with Bill Moyers.

Here is his concluding paragraph:

We are familiar with this crucified place because we have been living here most of our lives. The mostly unspoken implication is that the entire Episcopal Church is being asked to stand here. It is not. Heterosexual bishops are still being consecrated. Opposite gender marriages are still being blessed. Unless there is a moratorium on all consecrations and all marriages while the Anglican Communion sorts through these issues, then the heterosexual members of the Episcopal Church are not standing in this crucified place.
I probably should not draw a connection (much less an equivalence) here, but I can't resist. The Anglican Communion News Service today publicized the fact that Anglican clergy joined ecumenical partners in "an Act of Worship . . . to mark the start of the America’s Cup yacht races." Bless pets? Of course! Bless jewelry? No problem! Bless military aircraft carriers? Yep! Bless the luxury ships of the wealthy? Naturally! But bless the faithful, committed relationships of gay men and lesbians pursuing lives of holiness in the Episcopal Church? Heaven forfend! Certain folks would rather rip the Anglican Communion to shreds before approving such a travesty. Sheesh!

As the bumper sticker says: If you're not angry, you're just not paying attention.

I am grateful – truly grateful – for the support of "privileged" persons such as Bishop Jefferts Schori and many of my dear friends who are articulate and passionate on our behalf. But sometimes I do share Jeffri's frustration with those who can speak (albeit with a pained sigh) of "standing in a crucified place" when they have never been called "worse than dogs"– when they have never had to plead or struggle for the right to serve (with our whole selves, our souls and bodies) in the Church. I'm conflicted. Sometimes grateful for the crumbs that are dropped off the table, and sometimes angry at the injustice of it all. Tonight, I'm just conflicted.

Go read Jeffri's essay. It's thoughtful and thought-provoking.

Seen & Reported

I am a devoteé of church signs. As I travel, my eye is always drawn to those marquis signs outside churches. Sometimes they are just too funny.

One of my favorites was when I was in Atlanta:

I thought it was a natural synergy.

I recalled it this week when a couple of colleagues told me about this church sign spotted in southwest Missouri:

Hmmm … I guess they haven't yet had the abuse-prevention training.

And, yes, as you may have suspected, those images aren't actual photographs. No camera was at hand when they were seen. The "slogans" are real. But the images were created with the Church Sign Generator ... bless their hearts. If you want to see some other real church signs that will tickle your funny bone, go here.

Do you have other fun "church signs" to report?

Monday, June 18, 2007

Revelation & Experience

Brother Tobias Haller offers a thoughtful commentary on the relationship between scriptural revelation and human experience, as they inform our reading and interpretation of God's will. Go there and read that.

European Episcopalians Reply to Draft Covenant

According to Bishop Pierre Whalon, the deputation of the Convocation of American Churches in Europe sent in its commentary on the proposed draft Covenant, as requested by the Episcopal Church. It includes these statements:

If we are a Communion, then we need to remember the Eucharistic implications of the term, being one in the Body of Christ, which we share. If we don’t talk to each other about basic issues of our own polity, how can we possibly be considered a credible ecumenical partner when talking to other Churches? If we don’t share a common vision of our Church’s mission in the world, seeking and serving Christ in each other, what distinguishes the Anglican Communion from other far-flung, charitable organizations?

This is a restrictive Covenant, rather than one that challenges us to listen to each other and to the Holy Spirit, to carry out our mission – God’s mission – together in all its diversity, and to explore the boundaries of our faith and mission. The “Covenant for Communion in Mission” proposed by the Inter Anglican Standing Commission on Mission and Evangelism, and building on the Five Marks of Mission, comes much closer to what we believe would be an appropriate covenant for the Anglican Communion (if indeed one is needed).

Bishop Pierre Whalon offers his own thoughts on his blog; click here to read his comments.

New on Video

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and Bonnie Anderson, President of the House of Deputies, offer an overview of the Episcopal Church's recent Executive Council meeting, held June 11-14 in Parsippany, New Jersey. TheRev. Jan Nunley, deputy for communication for the Episcopal Church, reports. Go here for the video. They both look tired. But the discussion is good. Very good. Check it out.

Hysteria in Western Louisiana

This information was sent by a colleague, who comments: "The Windsor Bishops (at least some of them) are proving to be nearly as much trouble to TEC as the younger generations of British Windsors are to theirmother the Queen ..."

This particular link is to a site for a new group in Western Louisiana set up at AAC urging called the "Windsor Coalition of the Diocese of Western Louisiana." They are sponsoring "information sessions" with Bishop McPherson as the featured speaker. Here is the key portion of their front page:

Orthodox Anglicans across the nation must begin thinking the unthinkable. The Episcopal Church is almost certain to have its ties cut with most of the other Anglican Provinces in the world. Its position as the Continuing Church in America will be terminated, and the future configuration is unknown.

The Diocese, along with the other Windsor Dioceses, will have to decide if its ties with the world wide Anglican Communion are more important that its ties with The Episcopal Church.

Should the Diocese elect to stay with the Anglican Communion and reject the Episcopal Church, angry and unprincipled actions by the Episcopal Church can be expected. They could attempt to depose our bishops and clergy, installing rogue bishops and priests in their place. They have already unleashed a cascade of law suits against persons and parishes who can no longer abide with what appears to be apostacy [sic] and heresy. These suits are in contravention of Scripture, but procede [sic] apace. This, in spite of the statedrequest of the Tanzanian Communique to forswear such legal tactics.

It continues to amaze me how some segments of the Episcopal Church continue trying to whip-up hysteria in this church of ours. Something like 99.5% of our parishes are doing just fine. But a few people are still trying to make it appear as if there were a Crisis of Global Proportions. What a bunch of frauds!

Desperately Seeking Schism

Reactions to the Executive Council Statement

"There they go again."

AP Reporter Rachel Zoll has a June 14 story entitled " Episcopal Panel Rejects Anglican Demand" which begins:

A key Episcopal panel defied conservatives Thursday, saying that Episcopal leaders should not cede authority to overseas Anglicans who want the church to halt its march toward full acceptance of gays.

The Episcopal Executive Council said that Anglican leaders, called primates, cannot make decisions for the American denomination, which is the Anglican body in the United States.

Did she read the Executive Council statement? The Executive Council did not "defy" anyone. In fact, their statement was humble and pastoral. If you want defiance, look to the statements of the dissidents within and outside the Episcopal Church, in which they label us "heretics" or "apostate" or call some of us "worse than dogs." That is defiance. What the Executive Council did was to express our fervent desire that we can maintain communion with other Anglicans throughout the world.

But I suppose reporters are desperate for conflict.

And Michael Conlon's Reuters report ("U.S. move on gay bishops may widen Anglican split") is no better.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Another Schism?

Note: Since posting this on Tuesday night, additional information is coming in. Updates are added at the bottom of this post.

Jonathan Petre, of London's Daily Telegraph newspaper, reports that a split in the Anglican Communion is at hand. His story begins:

A powerful coalition of conservative Anglican leaders is preparing to create a parallel Church for conservatives in America in defiance of the Archbishop of Canterbury, provoking the biggest split in Anglican history, The Daily Telegraph has learned.

According to sources, at least six primates are planning the consecration of a prominent American cleric as a bishop to minister to Americans who have rejected their liberal bishops over the issue of homosexuality.

Surprisingly, he reports: "Insiders said the scheme was not being led by the maverick Global South leader, the Primate of Nigeria, Archbishop Peter Akinola, who has already set up a similar 'missionary' Church in America headed by Bishop Martyn Minns."

I hope this whole story is inaccurate. Right now, our church's Executive Council is meeting and will frame a response to the primates' communiqué from Tanzania. Most of us hope to maintain dialogue with the other provinces of the Anglican Communion.

Let's see now ... we already have AMiA, CANA, FIF/NA, the "Network," the AAC, and a bunch of other groups claiming the mantel of True Orthodoxy. Several of them are headed by men who tried and failed to be elected bishops of the Episcopal Church. I wonder which group may now be ready to race to the head of the pack proclaiming that they are, in fact, the reallytrulyhonest-to-God "orthodox" ones. This is getting more ridiculous by the week, as the schismatics seek to out-purify one another.

Meanwhile, we real Anglicans go on about the work of the Gospel, seeking transformation in our personal lives and doing our small part to bring about the Kingdom of God in our midst.

Update (06.13.07): Thinking Anglicans is providing more information about this story, which has been confirmed. This time, it's the Archbishop of Kenya who wants to play in the American sandbox and former Episcopalian Bill Atwood (of the Ekklesia Society) who is to be consecrated a bishop. Look to Thinking Anglicans for excellent coverage as more details emerge.

Update 2 (6.13.07): Religious Intelligence has a story on this, calling it a new blow for Anglican Communion unity hopes.
Father Jake is on the story, too. He gives it something of a yawn in Kenya Follows Nigerian Model, saying:
So now Rwanda, Nigeria and Kenya are being allowed to pillage parishes in North America. None of the entities will be recognized by Canterbury, of course, but I'm not sure that matters to them anymore. Any means, including invasions, to justify their ends; the expansion of their personal kingdoms, which more and more appear to have nothing to do with Anglicanism.

It appears once again that the Telegraph attempted to make much ado about nothing. Just another Primatial Pirate on the horizon, who has decided this is the time to unfurl his Jolly Roger. He condemns himself by his unethical behavior.
Amen, Jake!

Update 3: [Hat-tip to Ann.] Archbishop Akinola has now chimed-in, too in this statement on the Church of Nigeria's website, which begins: "I have received news of the proposed consecration of Canon Bill Atwood . . . ." Didn't the Kenyan statement say their had been "wide consultation"? Could Kenya have acted without +Peter Abuja's consent and support? One wonders, when +Abuja notes that CANA is "already established in North America." Hmmm ...

I suppose none of these African primates really took seriously the September 30 ultimatum they gave our Church. Oh well ...

Wordsmith Alert

The editors of the American Heritage dictionaries have released a least of 100 Words That All High School Graduates — And Their Parents — Should Know. According to the press release:

"The words we suggest," says senior editor Steven Kleinedler, "are not meant to be exhaustive but are a benchmark against which graduates and their parents can measure themselves. If you are able to use these words correctly, you are likely to have a superior command of the language."
Go check them out. I knew all but four, and those four are all scientific terms. No surprise there.
How'd you do?

Sunday, June 10, 2007


Appearing on June 8 editions of Bill Moyers Journal, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori talked about science, the environment, and the challenges in the Anglican Communion concerning issues of human sexuality.The 25-minute segment and a full transcript is available at the PBS website.

For the most part, I was very proud of our Presiding Bishop.

I'm sure many of you wonder what she had to say about the "hot-button" issues. Well, here's the segment that troubled me most. It occurs at 20:56 in the video:

Bill Moyers: You've even been criticized by some of your liberal colleagues in the American fellowship because you have called for a moratorium for a season on ordaining more gay Bishops. Why did you do that?
Bishop Schori: It was a very painful thing to do. My sense was that there might be hope of some kind of broader understanding if we were able to pause. Not go backwards, but pause.
Bill Moyers: Is it fair to ask some aspiring gay or lesbian person who wants to become a Bishop, like Gene Robinson did in 2003, to wait?
Bishop Schori: Is it fair? No. It's not fair.
Bill Moyers: But it's necessary?
Bishop Schori: It's a crucified place to stand.
I still don't understand why she is willing to ask gay men and lesbians to stand in a "crucified place." I still want to hear her explain what crucifixion she is enduring. I still am mindful of MadPriest's commentary on this whole thing.

But all in all, it's a very fine interview. She is intense and reasonable in this interview, and it made me mostly proud to have her as the voice of our Church – in the U.S., and in the Anglican Communion.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Hearing Voices

It seems that the Rev. Mark Lawrence has been hearing voices. The Bakersfield Californian newspaper yesterday published this in-depth story about the Rev. Lawrence's candicacy for (or pursuit of) the episcopal seat in South Carolina.

The newspaper story begins most dramatically:

A visiting minister opened his mouth to sing and instead brought a personal revelation from God to the Very Rev. Mark Lawrence.

"The journey begins. Pack your things. Give your children your blessing. You've been in one place long enough," recalled Lawrence.

No one else heard this same message, as the minister was singing in tongues.

Lawrence began to weep.

"A sense of God's presence came over me," he said.

Over the year that followed, the journey would take Lawrence -- and the entire U.S. Episcopal Church -- on an exhilarating yet disquieting, headline-making ride of faith and church politics.

I must confess to some skeptical bias here. I experienced charismatic worship earlier in my life. I heard people speaking in tongues. But – just as with the interpretation of Scripture – I wonder what hermeneutics guided the Rev. Lawrence in interpreting this utterance.

The singer reportedly said (being interpreted): "The journey begins. Pack your things. Give your children your blessing. You've been in one place long enough." How come the Rev. Lawrence interpreted this as meaning he was to pack his Bakersfield belongings into a moving van and become the bishop of South Carolina?

Could the ecstatic utterances not as easily have meant he was to "pack his bags," give his blessing to his flock, and leave the Episcopal Church? Perhaps – in his objection to the Episcopal Church – he had "been in one place long enough" and needed to cast out into another venue. Maybe God was telling him to swim the Niger. Who knows? And how does one decide?

I'm curious. Truly curious. How the heck did he jump from that ecstatic and somewhat delphic utterance to the conclusion that God wants him to be the bishop of South Carolina?

There are many other statements in that newspaper account about which I would take issue … and I may blog about them if my energy holds out. But I really would like an answer to my question here.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007


A Missive from the "As If" Bishop

Fort Worth Bishop Jack Iker has offered his insights on the March meeting of the House of Bishops in the May 2007 issue of the UK's Forward in Faith magazine, New Directions, now reproduced at TitusOneNine. His story begins:

A palpable sense of apprehension was in the air as the House of Bishops of The Episcopal Church gathered at Camp Allen in Texas on 16 March 2007, for their five-day spring meeting. Everyone was in a dither about the recently issued Communique from the Dar es Salaam meeting of the Primates . . . .
Isn't this an engaging opening? You get the clear sense that Bishop Iker was right there – in the thick of it – fighting for the cause. (Whatever his cause is.) Here are some more salient quotes from his account of the meeting:

So after much talk and prayer, as the final day approached, a business session was called and the bishops moved into the legislative mode . . . .

Then it was time to perfect the 'Message to God's People,' which some bishops had been working on for days in advance of arriving at Camp Allen . . . .
Doesn't it just give you that delightful "You Are There" feeling which one gets from an eyewitness account? It's always helpful to get that "insider" perspective.

There's just one problem with Bishop Iker's account of the House of Bishops meeting. He was not there. Yes, that's right: He was not there. He was not at Camp Allen, meeting and talking with the other bishops of the Episcopal Church. He stayed away from the meeting . . . as he has stayed away from so many meetings of the House of Bishops.

Now, on close examination, if you read his story, you'll see he never says "I was there, and this is what I saw and heard." No, he just lulls the careless reader into believing that he is giving a first-person account.

Back in March, I read many first-hand accounts from the meeting. I bet I could have written a riveting story as if I were there. But I wasn't. So I didn't pen an "as-if-I-were-there" story. Instead, I relied on those who were there. I posted their reflections, mostly over at The Episcopal Majority's site.

What was Bishop Iker thinking when he submitted such a story for publication in New Directions? And why are blogs such as TitusOneNine posting it as if it were news?

Fortunately, even the commenters at TitusOneNine are acknowledging that Bishop Iker wasn't at the House of Bishops meeting. As one person said in the comments: "The tone of the narrative with phrases like A palpable sense of apprehension was in the air would suggest an eye-witness report." Indeed it would. Indeed it does.

I'm going to forebear. I'm not going to lump Bishop Iker in with the lying liars. The kindest adjective that I can attribute to Bishop Iker's story is that it is "misleading." But there are plenty of Episcopalians in Fort Worth who have seen him mis-lead that diocese for several years now. Bishop Iker has been behaving as if he were a bishop in the Episcopal Church for quite a long time now. So there's really no news here.

Addendum (06.06.07): Father Jake offers an even more pointed analysis at Fort Worth Bears False Witness and reminds us all of the very fine and truly first-person account Bishop Jim Kelsey offered immediately after the House of Bishops meeting.

How Gay?

In the "Car Update" posting below, I said in self-deprecation, "Sometimes I am 'such a girl'!" You know, there's a sense that lesbians are supposed to be rather more mechanically inclined than straight women. As luck would have it, I came upon the Gayometer in my blog-surfing this evening. So I took the test.

According to the Gayometer, I'm not nearly the true-purple lesbian I thought myself to be. Alas and alack.

Now, in my defense, let me hasten to say that I believe the "test" is severely flawed. For instance, you're graded "down" if you haven't been involved in a street fight, have 0-1 tattoos, don't know how to change your oil, or don't own leather trousers. This test is all about stereotypes.

I'll accept that I'm only 46% stereotypically gay. But I'll insist that on the Kinsey scale, I'm 98% gay. So keep your hands off me, you Exodus types!

Are any of you willing to take the test and reveal your results?

Monday, June 04, 2007

Lying Liars

Just when you thought perhaps the death of Jerry Falwell had left a vacuum on the Insane Right, the so-called Institute for Religion and Democracy comes riding in to rescue stupidity from the jaws of death.

Follow along now, my friends.

The Governor of New Hampshire has signed a duly-passed piece of legislation that makes civil unions for homosexual couples legal.

In the wake of that action, the Episcopal bishop of New Hampshire has told his clergy that they can use the same discretion in blessing state-sanctioned civil unions that all priests can exercise when deciding whether to bless state-sanctioned heterosexual marriages. That is, priests can and should assess whether the relationship conforms to the standards of godliness, fidelity, and spiritual commitment. In this crazy country of ours, where clergy act as agents of the state in legitimizing the state-sanctioned institution of marriage (or, more recently, civil union), he has affirmed that all priests in his diocese have the right to exercise their conscience in the discharge of their duties.

So … what is the headline in the press release that the IRD issued today?

Episcopal Church Continues to Harden its Stance Against Marriage

Yeah, right.

"I'll take 'Fear-Mongering' for $500, Alex."

If any of you have not been following along in the service leaflet, the IRD is an extremist right-wing think tank committed to a narrow Christian view on the mainline churches and the government of the United States. They have special and well-funded initiatives in place to undermine the Episcopal, Presbyterian, and Methodist churches. Jim Naughton did a fine job of journalistic research here. [Note: In response to a valid criticism from "Anonymous" in the comments below, I have slightly edited the first sentence of this paragraph.]

Addendum (06.05.07): When it comes to giving a fine rant, I am a hopeless amateur compared to our Elizabeth+. Do surf over and read her take on the IRD press release. And her "Codification of Marriage" graphic is a true gem! Hats off to you, my sister.

Two Things

I have two things to say here – which are unrelated, except that Bishop Wolfe (of Kansas) related them in an essay I read today.

When the news arrived yesterday that Bishop Jim Kelsey (of Northern Michigan) had been killed in an automobile accident, I was stunned. I certainly can't claim any personal grief in this, for I do not know him. My only and very tenuous connection was when I read his reflections about our Bishops' meeting in Texas this spring and posted long excerpts at The Episcopal Majority's site. There was an honesty and freshness in his words that impressed me.

But his sudden death also struck me because of what happened yesterday on my drive into St. Louis. I was cruising along the highway inside St. Louis County, trying to make it to church on time. All of a sudden, traffic slowed. There had been what looked to me like a truly gruesome wreck. As I got near the accident site and saw what was there, I got a big knot in my stomach. For I realized the driver of that car had probably been toodling along minutes earlier with no thoughts of mortality, when suddenly something went horribly wrong. At that moment, I remembered life can change – or end – in an instant. From the newspaper account in Michigan, it sounds like Bishop Kelsey may have had a similar experience: Going about life as usual, driving home from a parish visitation, when suddenly something went terribly wrong. And now he and the other driver are dead. I have no adequate words to say. Except it reminds me to take each moment, each day as a gift from God. "In the midst of life, we are in death."

I grieve for his family – who have suffered this horrible loss with no warning – and for the friends who did know and love him personally.

It should remind us all to take nothing and no one for granted. It can all be taken away in the blink of an eye.

Dean Wolfe, the Bishop of Kansas, did know Bishop Kelsey, and he posted an essay that I commend to you. He recalls Bishop Kelsey's life and ministry. But here's what struck me: He also talks about the relationships and collegiality among the bishops, saying things that I have never heard. I wish everyone in our church would read this – especially those of us who often get caught up in "Battlestar Anglicana." He begins and ends by talking about Bishop Kelsey. But read this in the middle:

The fellowship of the House of Bishops is a difficult thing to communicate, and because it’s difficult to describe, it remains one of the best kept secrets in The Episcopal Church. From what I heard and read before I was elected a bishop, I expected the House of Bishops to be an unfriendly place. It was the place where the bishops of our church constantly disagreed with one another, often in a most disagreeable manner. Some of these disputes acquired a near-legendary status, and I came to my first meeting of the House with real apprehension. Would I find any evidence that the House of Bishops was a group of Christian leaders who took seriously their responsibility to love one another?

Imagine my relief when I was warmly greeted by countless bishops, and when a smiling Jim Kelsey told me to call him anytime I needed help. I never expected in a million years to be met with such authentic warmth and genuine goodwill! I did not know about the camaraderie that exists between people who do a difficult job, sometimes under extreme pressures, who hold those who do the same work with respect and appreciation. I did not know that in such a pressurized environment the bonds of affection could grow to be so strong. . . .

. . . I think it is important for people to know that bishops who may disagree vehemently on the issues of the day often hold tremendous respect and affection for one another. Sometimes over a Diet Coke, or a glass of wine, or a penny-ante poker game, these bonds of affection are further knit together. This is important and holy work, because these bonds are often tested in the next day’s conversations.

I believe that if more Episcopalians knew of these friendships, they might be inspired to preserve the relationships they have with those with whom they disagree. They might come to appreciate those relationships just a little bit more.

More than 200 men and women from across the United States and 12 sovereign nations spend nearly four weeks together each year being the House of Bishops. We share meals, worship, conversation and the work of the Church. The days are often long and the process can be extremely tedious. . . .

. . . . But in spite of our differences, or perhaps, because of them, great friendships arise out of our time together.

I have come to see the extraordinary gifts so many of my colleagues possess. Many are extraordinary speakers and writers and theologians. Many are great administrators and church builders. All of them have great hearts. All of them have given the better part of their lives in the service of The Episcopal Church, and they take seriously their vows to guard and guide the Church as God grants them the grace and ability to do so.

In the reflection Bishop Kelsey posted after the House of Bishops' meeting, I sensed transparency and honesty. In his posting today, Bishop Wolfe shares a similar honesty and transparency. His description of the bishops' relationships was news to me, and I share his wish that more people could know that our bishops – while they disagree – also have significant bonds one to another. And I wish that the kind of relationships he describes could trickle all through debates that are occurring now within the Anglican Communion, the provinces, dioceses, and parishes.

I'm not doing justice to Bishop Wolfe's essay. Go here and read it all.

Without a doubt, next Sunday, when I join in praying for "Katharine our Bishop, and George Wayne our Bishop . . .," I'll be doing it even more intentionally and more fervently than I did last Sunday.

"W" is a Saint

A friend sent me this item today. I'm pretty sure that it's apocryphal. But that didn't diminish my appreciation for it. My evil twin would love to hear one of our bishops or priests preach this sermon.

So without further ado . . .

President George W. Bush was scheduled to visit the Episcopal Church outside Washington as part of his campaign to restore his pathetic poll standings. His image handler made a visit to the Bishop and said, "We've been getting a lot of bad publicity because of the President's position on stem cell research, the Iraq war, hurricane Katrina, and the Veterans Administration. We'll make a $100,000 contribution to your church if during your sermon you will say that the President is a saint. The Bishop thought it over for a few moments and finally said, "The Church is desperate for funding . . . . I'll do it."

President Bush showed up for the sermon, and the Bishop began: "I'd like to speak to you all this morning about our President. George W. Bush is a liar, a cheat, and a low-intelligence weasel.

"He took the tragedy of September 11 and used it to frighten and manipulate the American people. He lied about weapons of mass destruction and invaded Iraq for oil and money, causing the deaths of tens of thousands and making the United States the most hated country on earth.

"He appointed cronies to positions of power and influence, leading to widespread death and destruction during Hurricane Katrina.

"He awarded contracts and tax cuts to his rich friends so that we now have more poverty in this country and a greater gap between rich and poor than we've had since the Depression of 1929. He has headed the most corrupt, bribe-inducing political party since Teapot Dome. The national surplus has turned into a staggering national debt of 7.6 trillion dollars, gas prices are up 85%, which the people of America cannot afford, and vital research into global warming and stem cells is stopped cold because he's afraid to lose votes from religious kooks.

"He is the worst example of a true Christian I've ever known. But compared to Dick Cheney, George W. Bush is a saint."

Car Update

Just in case you're wondering . . .

TBTG! The car situation is resolved. By late morning, the St. Louis mechanic had it fixed, and the total bill was only $60. I'm so embarrassed to admit what the problem was: corroded battery terminals. Why didn't I think to pay attention to that?? The hassle and expense it could have saved me! Sometimes I am "such a girl"! Alas . . . .

My boss let me leave work at 1:00, so that I was able to get the rental car back to St. Louis within the 24-hour time frame, thus saving myself an extra day's rental. Then I took the Metrolink (St. Louis' light rail) from the airport into the city, walked the remaining 1.25 miles to the mechanic's, arriving just before 5:00, swapped them $$ for car, and made the drive home.

I'm really impressed by the repair shop. When I called this morning to alert them there was a white car on their property and described the problem, I mentioned that I suspected it might be the starter. Almost as soon as the words were out of my mouth, I thought, "Dumb move! Talk about an open invitation to abuse! WTF was I thinking?" They could so easily have taken me to the cleaners, but they didn't. The rector who recommended them had said they were not only good, but honest too. She wasn't kidding!

So I'm home now . . . but kinda whooped. Five hundred miles of driving in these two days -- just like last weekend -- is just a bit much for this ol' gal.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

How I Spent My Sunday

or: Why Don't Cars Break Down When It's Convenient?

Caveat lector. Read this only if you're really bored or really interested in the mundane details of my life, because I'm just rambling about my little adventure of the day. Nothing earth-shaking or insightful lies ahead in this posting.

I serve on the Companion Diocese Committee, responsible for leading our diocesan relationship with our companion relationship with the diocese in Sudan. We meet the first Sunday afternoon of each month – usually in St. Louis. Usually, I attend services in my parish, then make the two-hour trek to St. Louis in plenty of time for our 3:00 meeting.

But our rector is on leave, and late this week I learned we're merely having Morning Prayer while she's away. [Don't get me started! Morning Prayer is a lovely service, but it is not a substitute for the Eucharist, for which I hunger and thirst.]

So I decided to get myself to St. Louis in time for a real church service, and of course I went to my favorite St. Louis parish – the same one I wrote about here. I checked their website a couple days ago to confirm the service schedule times, and I learned they were having a special event today, and that the service would be followed by "barbeque and potluck."

[Long parenthetical harangue: Don't get me started on the Midwest's concept of "barbeque." "Barbeque" is a noun – not a verb. Folks around here seem to believe that grilling burgers and hotdogs (and/or bratwurst) is "barbeque." It is not! As a Southerner, I know that barbeque is pork [Apologies to my Texas friends, who believe it can be beef] cooked slow and low over charcoal, onto which a delightful, tangy sauce is basted. Trust me on this. I know. There is no "via media" when it comes to barbeque. These Midwesterners are wrong, and I am right. . . . Oh, well. Even knowing that there probably would be no real barbeque in sight, of course this daughter of the South took a dish. (A marvelous orzo salad, if I do say so myself!)]

Worship this morning at Trinity was marvelous -- just marvelous. This parish manages to do very high and very warm liturgy. They are an awesome and truly diverse community. And it was fun to have so many people come over and greet me by name during the peace or after church. (One person actually hollered to me by name when she saw me standing in the line for communion. Talk about the antithesis of "decently and in order"!!) I guess I've been there often enough that I'm not really a "visitor" there anymore. -- And this was funny to me: When some of the folks saw me bringing in my dish to contribute to the potluck (having carried it over 100 miles), they were just astonished. They said it cost me my "visitor" card. :-) Uh-oh! Now I may start getting their stewardship campaign appeals. [Just kidding!]

After lunch when most folks had left, I decided to move my car, which I had parked about a block away [It's a very urban parish] and move it into their small parking lot, so it would be nearby after the committee meeting. That would leave me about an hour and a half to go to a coffee house, sit outdoors and read, browse through some of the artsy-fartsy shops, and just generally enjoy a beautiful, mild, leisurely afternoon until our 3:00 committee meeting.

Or so I thought.

I went to my car and turned the key in the ignition. One very pitiful click, and nothing more. Alas. So ... I walked back to the church where folks were setting up for the hot meal they provide each Sunday afternoon to the hungry. I asked for help, and one of the guys brought his car around and we tried my jumper cables. No dice. It wasn't the battery. :( I suspect it's the alternator.

I spent the next hour with much help from the rector there ... identifying a good nearby mechanic ... calling AAA to arrange a tow ... and finding a rental car agency and making arrangements so that I could get home this evening. That kept me busy 'til the meeting started. And the tow truck arrived halfway through the meeting. Fortunately, one of the committee members was willing to drive me out to the airport car rental agency. And finally I got on the road in this little Toyota Corolla and arrived home safe and sound, just a little later than expected.

I'm bummed about the expense of the rental car and the hassle of having to make an unplanned trip back to St. Louis. And I'm more than a little nervous about having my car towed to a shop where they don't know me and I'll be completely at their long-distance mercy. As Nina observed, this stuff never happens at a good time. But I sure am thankful that it happened then and there, where I had such marvelous, generous support from friendly Episcopalians.

All in all, the day was so delightful in all other ways that, while the car situation was a logistical hassle (and robbed me of the leisurely early-afternoon interlude I'd envisioned), it really was "no biggie."

Buh-Bye, Rev. Falwell

Sometimes it takes a while to come to terms with a death.

It's been while now since the Reverend Jerry Falwell was found dead in his office. I have been loathe to comment on his death. The man spewed so much hatred. It was tempting to make snide comments on his passing, to say "Good riddance to bad rubbish." I didn't want to do that – didn't want to join in the chorus. Many of my fellow bloggers from the "left" did not join in the chorus. And perhaps I'm not alone. Just this evening, listening to an NPR program, I learned that "conservative evangelicals" polled just a few years ago had more respect for President Bill Clinton than for the Rev. Falwell.

The Rev. Falwell said a whole bunch of stupid things in his career. Chief among them: He blamed gays (along with a bunch of other folks, including feminists and the ACLU) for the September 2001 attack on the World Trade Center.

But surely the most stupid thing Falwell ever did was to attack Tinky Winky as a "homosexual" and as a touchstone for the degeneration of American culture. I think that's when a bunch of folks realized that Falwell had gone totally 'round the bend.

At Salon, King Kaufman had the nerve to tackle this topic on May 16 – just after the Rev. Falwell's death. I don't understand why more of my progressive blogging friends haven't been "plugging" this story. It's delightful. So sit back, pour the beverage of your choice, and let King Kaufman tell you about his interview with the gracious Teletubbie who was so maligned by the Reverend Falwell.

Tinky Winky says bye-bye to Jerry Falwell
The former TV star recalls the trauma of being called gay by the conservative preacher
By King Kaufman

May. 16, 2007 Eight years ago the Rev. Jerry Falwell warned parents that BBC children's television star Tinky Winky was a hidden symbol of homosexuality. Falwell died Tuesday at 73, and the world wanted to talk to Tinky Winky.

"They're calling again, again, again," he said by phone from his home in Islington, in London. A spokesman said the former "Teletubbies" costar got more than 100 calls from reporters in the hour following news of Falwell's death.

"Oh dear, it's easy to say the wrong thing here," he said. "Tinky Winky sad whenever someone dies, but ..." He left it hanging there.

In a 1999 article in his National Liberty Journal headlined "Tinky Winky Comes Out of the Closet," Falwell pointed out that Winky could be taken as representing

"He is purple -- the gay pride color, and his antenna is shaped like a triangle -- the gay pride symbol," Falwell wrote. "The character, whose voice is that of a boy, has been found carrying a red purse in many episodes and has become a favorite character among gay groups worldwide."

In the resulting media firestorm, gay-rights activists called for Winky to come out while
Christian groups demanded the BBC fire him so that he couldn't, in Falwell's words, "role-model the gay lifestyle."

"It was traumatizing, really," says Winky, who now owns a holistic healing center and makes occasional appearances on British TV. "I'm a very private Teletubby. I just wanted to get away, go over the hills and far away. But when you're 7 feet tall and purple with an antenna on your head and a TV screen in your belly, where are you going to go?"

Winky says he tried to contact Falwell after the article came out, but the evangelist wouldn't take his calls.

"I wanted to know why he didn't talk to me first," Winky says. "It's not like I'm hard to reach. Have the pinwheel call me. But really I just wanted to clap him on the head with Tinky Winky bag."

The star never has clarified his sexual orientation, insisting on his privacy and denying rumors over the years that he had affairs with two of his costars on the 1997-2001 show, the male Dipsy and the female Po.

"We love each other very much," he says. "Big hug. But it's not like that. It was a kids show, know what I mean? And this Falwell guy and his followers wanted to turn us into something else. We weren't modeling a gay lifestyle and we weren't trying to corrupt anyone's kids. We were just kids ourselves, really. Give us a little Tubby toast or custard and a film of some kids washing clothes or something, that's all we needed. We didn't give a shit about modeling a lifestyle."

Tinky Winky sounds angry. The wounds are still raw.

"I'm just practicing my craft, working for the kids, and all at once the tabloids are everywhere on me," he says. "I couldn't even go out. Was it a gay club? Was I talking to a woman? It was bollocks."

Winky chuckles. "I must say, though," he says, "without getting into too many details, we had a girl in the group who ran around this kids show yelling, 'Cooter! Cooter!' And I'm the gay one? Do me a favor."

Through a spokeswoman, Po declined to comment for this article.

Winky says the Teletubbies stay in touch, and he remains friends with both Dipsy, who owns a nightclub in West London where Winky is often seen, and Po. Winky says he and Laa-Laa never really got along during the show's run, but, "We're fine now. We've come to appreciate each other."

Asked about Falwell's death, Winky turns serious and chooses his words carefully.

"I'm not going to pretend I'm sadder than I am," he says. "There were late nights during the dark times when I wished to hear news like this. I'd be lying if I denied that. I don't feel that way anymore. I like to think I've grown over the years, gotten past all that pain.

"But at the end of the day, I'm not terribly sad, and I think a lot of people feel the same way. Jerry Falwell was a divisive person, a hateful person, and what I've tried to be all about, in the Teletubbies days and since then, has been love. I've got to keep it that way. I don't want anybody feeling good about it when it's my time for Tubby bye-bye."

Frankly, I do not . . . cannot understand how that story slipped beneath MadPriest's radar. God knows, I begged him to blog it!