Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Phallacious Logic

One of the vocal Chicken Littles of our church – who seems to hate the Episcopal Church but lacks the cajones to leave it honorably – recently pointed to a story from the Episcopal News Service, which includes this:

According to the churchwide Parochial Report data, membership in all 110 dioceses of the Episcopal Church totaled 2,320,506 in 2006, down 2.2%, or 51,502, from 2,372,008 in 2005. Average Sunday attendance for 2006 was reported at 804,688, down 2.6%, or 21,856, from 826,544 in 2005. Data isposted online here and here.
By the way, have you noticed that each and every year, TEC posts its membership numbers, its revenue sources, its budget, all the names of its leadership, etc.? Have you ever seen similar transparency and honesty from the AAC, the Nutwork, or the new CCCP? No, and you won't. Hell! They can't even be honest about which or how many "bishops" attend their meetings, as Mark Harris has frequently observed.

But I digress. (What a surprise, eh?)

Chicken Little then pointed out that TEC lost 990 people every week in 2006 and offered up the usual innuendo that it's all because Bible-believing orthodox folks are leaving the church in droves.

Several others have commented on the decline. Some observe that part of this is just demographics in action, as the early baby-boomers begin to die. Some note that TEC isn't losing any more members than other mainline denominations. If memory serves, I believe that the Southern Baptists have experienced a greater decline than we have. And you know what a bunch of left-wingers they are, with all their openly gay pastors! But, oh well. Let's not allow the facts to get in the way of spin.

Mind you, I decry our loss of members and regular communicants. If I had my way, everyone would be an Episcopalian, for I really don't see how a thinking, seeking person can be anything else! [And, yes, I do say that with my tongue perched in the vicinity of my cheek.]

But here's what I haven't heard anybody else say: It's not just the conservatives leaving the Episcopal Church! Read the progressive Episcopalians' blogs as I do, and you'll see that gay and lesbian members are leaving TEC too – spewing Laodicea out of their mouths, and moving to the UCC, the MCC, the Church of the Brunch, or Starbucks. I personally account for some of the drop in ASA after GC06: I took a sabbatical from my parish for several weeks after the passage of the odious B033. A dear friend of mine left because he was tired of being An Issue instead of A Person in our church. I hear similar stories throughout the country. Not a lot of them. But enough to remember there are some gay/lesbian members fleeing Laodicea, just as the "orthodox" flee HeresyLand.

Of course, the schismatics are enjoying claiming all the credit. Yeah, well … They do need to be good at something.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

One Roman Gets It

There's been much said about how the Roman Catholics are railing against gay men and lesbians. Imagine my amazement at this editorial at the November 2 issue of National Catholic Reporter!

I would like to hear bishops in the Episcopal Church speak half as clearly and passionately as this Roman Catholic spoke.


Closing the Door on Ourselves

When the musical “Fiddler on the Roof” first opened on Broadway back in 1964, few could have predicted that this tale of a Jewish father struggling to preserve tradition and at the same time to love his five tradition-breaking daughters would become a metaphor for families coping through the 1960s and ’70s with shattering social and religious change.

Recently another father and daughter struggling to resolve differences – a lesbian lifestyle that challenged his Catholic beliefs – were barred by archdiocesan pressure from telling their story at a welcoming Catholic parish in Minneapolis. [My note: That story appeared earlier here.]Besides generating publicity for the book that recounts the painful father-daughter exchange, the official decision raises again some equally painful questions about the relationship between struggling Catholics and their church.

Church leaders, of course, have boxed themselves in with tortuous logic on homosexuality that strains to reconcile loving the sinner, hating the sin, accepting those with the orientation (albeit “intrinsically disordered”), and then inviting them to make peace with their church – once they have renounced their need for sexual intimacy.

The church once viewed itself as a home for everyone and its children as works in progress. The church once had room for all who were a day late and a dollar short of the ideal, whose private lives were compromised by infidelity, racism, addictions, larceny and deception. Sunday Mass was the gathering place for the seven capital sinners, dressed up, mixed up, and trying their best, it was assumed, to navigate life’s contradictions.

Tevye comes to mind again. What guided him in his quandary over his daughters was the image of the village fiddler on his precarious rooftop perch, playing away as the father soliloquized “on the one hand” to “on the other hand,” finally resolving that, whatever his daughters did, they would always be his children, always be loved.

Unfortunately, today’s Catholic leaders, in pursuit of “Catholic identity,” are increasingly less likely to view the church as a gathering place for the faithful-but-flawed. As episcopally fueled battles heat up over who can approach the altar, and who will sort out the sinners from the worthy at Communion time, the locus of exclusion has widened to include not only the altar, but “church property.” Any parish, Catholic high school, college or university, retreat center or medical center had better think twice about hosting controversy, frank discussion, perceived criticism of church policy, prayer services for unapproved themes or any ecumenical event that attracts vituperative e-mails or faxes from those who see scandal and blasphemy everywhere. [My note: I suspect the author here is referring to St. Thomas University's refusal to allow Archbishop Desmond Tutu to speak on its campus.]

In 1997, the U.S. Catholic bishops’ Committee on Marriage and the Family -- in the best of Catholic tradition -- issued a pastoral letter for Catholic families dealing with homosexuality. They called it “Always Our Children.” Its concluding paragraph, addressed to Catholic homosexuals, says:

Though at times you may feel discouraged, hurt, or angry, do not walk away from
your families, from the Christian community, from all those who love you. In you
God’s love is revealed. You are always our children.
The text would make a wonderful note taped to the church door for returning gays and lesbians trying to resolve their sexual orientation and their faith in stable, productive lives. Except that in an increasing number of cases, they find the church doors locked.

So where then, when our lives get complicated, when our children turn out different from what we thought they would, when controversy invades our homes, do we go? If Catholics can’t turn to their churches as the most appropriate place for hearing one another’s stories and, through them, finding balance and compassion, where will we do the work of reconciliation that makes us church?

The article appeared here. I wish more of our bishops had the courage to speak as clearly as this Roman Catholic did.

MadPriest, take note: There's at least one sane Roman!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Showers of Blessing

I woke up this morning feeling crippled. My left knee was injured badly. Last evening, my sister called; she and my brother-in-law were coming through town, and they offered to transport some of my mother's belongings [if I had sorted through them] down to their farm, to stage them for the estate sale we're planning to have next weekend. I had been assiduously avoiding that sorting chore, but I flew into a flurry of doing some gross sorting in the couple of hours before they arrived. As my sister and I were carrying a heavy box downstairs, I lost my balance and went tumbling. My back slammed against a post, and my knee got stuck between gravity and this box. I didn't know I was hurt until this morning. What woke me up was the awareness that my knee was screaming at me.

I considered skipping church. My knee hurt a lot; it was difficult to stand or walk. But I knew I needed to be with my parish today, so I made coffee and set about my morning preparations.

Photo courtesy of
this site.

You know what? I think showers are a Gift from God. Absolutely every morning, I enjoy my time in the shower. My head clears – literally and metaphorically. My mind is free to wander as I go through the motions of my daily ablutions. I don't have to think about the motions: wash hair, wash face, rinse, lather body, rinse …

But today it was not so. I couldn't put any weight on my bad left knee. And these other motor-control problems I'm having complicated the whole darn thing. I did not dare lift my right foot to wash it, for I feared the left knee could not support me and I'd tumble to my death in the shower. And my hands aren't exactly following my instructions.

And that's when it struck me: What a blessing are these little things that we scarcely even notice! The ability to take a hot shower in the morning. The ability to stand at the stove and cook. The ability to button one's own blouse. To put on make-up. The ability to feed one's cats as they curl about one's legs.

I take these abilities – these gifts – so much for granted. It will make me so sad [that's a huge understatement] if I lose them. I don't know how I would cope with the kind of dependence that many people face with dignity every day, every hour. This is being a learning experience for me.

As fate would have it, I unexpectedly got to serve as crucifer at "big church" today. Usually, adults only serve as acolytes at the boring 8:00 Rite-I-no-music-thankyouverymuch service. But they were down one at 10:30 and – woohoo! – I was tapped. With the motor control problems, it took all my concentration to carry the cross as I usually do. And with the gimpy knee, it was a challenge to walk "normally" in the processional, recessional, and Gospel procession – where it seems important not to draw attention to oneself – and especially not to one's gimpiness. But I was tremendously grateful to get this opportunity. I think it was helpful that this ministry moved me beyond myself.

Between all these manifestations of gimpiness and my mother's death, I'm having just entirely too many reminders that we are but dust, and to dust we return.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007


Yeah, I'm writing again about dreams. It seems I was dreaming about my mother again last night. It's kind of a muddle to me. Most of the dream was about being in doctor's offices and hospital rooms with her.

There was this one part that got my attention because it was so weird: It wasn't in a medical facility. I was in her home, helping her prepare a meal. I don't remember whether she had asked me to get something out of the cabinet or put something into it, but I was kneeling down at a double-door cabinet [like the ones many of us have below our kitchen sinks], trying to sort things out. I think I was trying to put some fresh fruit into storage. [God only knows why I would be putting fresh fruit in a cabinet! I'm not that stupid. But dreams have their own logic.] In the logic of the dream, the fresh produce was supposed to be stored on the right side of the cabinet, and I was doing my best to organize it there. But garbage kept tumbling out from the left side. I felt so darn frustrated, in that I couldn't tell the difference between the groceries (which I was trying to organize in the cabinet) and the garbage that kept tumbling out of it. I kept trying and trying to organize the fresh produce, but the garbage kept tumbling out.

I think I have an inkling about this one, my friends.

[Background: It's kind of weird, but I didn't post anything specific on my own blog about my mother's death on October 9. Instead, I sent an e-mail to some friends, and I went quiet on this blog for 10 days, and sent an e-mail to MadPriest a week later, which he posted here. That's as much background as I'm going to offer.]

Snow on Roses

Most of you bloggers have some sort of site meter; so do I. It tells me some basic things about how many folks are visiting my blog, how long they stay, and if they clicked here from another blog. Early this morning, I was checking my stats, and a new "referring URL" appeared. It turned out that another blogger had appreciated the poem I posted here and posted it.

I visited her blog.

And I was completely drawn in. Hie thee hence! Snow on Roses is a moving, powerful, passionate voice in the blogosphere. How the heck did I not know about this blog until today? I think I'm in blog-o-love.

As I read and read page after page in her blog, I was blown away by Tandaina's post, We're Starving Out Here, and I flagged it so I could write about it tonight. Just listen to this snippet!

There are a few things my office and co-workers tend to avoid: politics and religion. They dance around both with one another, curious but not quite brave enough to risk either subject head on. But sometimes hunger overcomes those unwritten rules.

I leaned against her office wall, a newbie hovering nervously in the doorway behind me. And from them both came hunger, great crashing waves of it, fearful rolling breakers of it, tentative pleading streams of it. At first we danced gently, she sidled up to religion and poked at it ever so tentatively.

I felt the fabric of my soul stretching, yearning. How could I see that hunger and not respond? How could I hear the longing in a voice and not offer meat and drink? Feed my sheep. There was frustration and confusion, yearning and need. So much damage done by snake oil preachers, bible thumping evangelists, hell fire and brimstone. The smoke so thick they were choking on it. And yet still they yearned for the clear sweet air.

I began speaking, tentative and careful. She sat up in her chair, leaning into the words. She didn't know even the most basic terms of theology, history, these young hungry seekers have no context. "I want..." She wanted to understand, she wanted answers, she wanted to know.

She said – so much more articulately than I – something of what I have been sensing. And about which I was thinking when I wrote the Godwin's Law entry last night. She addressed what I sense – that I am surrounded by people who need to hear the message I hear each Sunday and which informs my daily life and which keeps me putting one foot in front of the other. But she did it so much better than I ever have. And she spoke to me about the urge toward a sort of "evangelism" that I am feeling recently, as I encounter so very, very many people who have been turned off by "religion" but hunger for spirituality and a connection with the Holy.

Now … it gets strange. I flagged her essay this morning and added it to my "blog fodder" file, with every intention of coming home tonight after work and posting about it. But by the time I got home and ready to blog, she had read my Godwin's Law post and drawn it out even further. Go there; read her "Overcoming the Static"! I can't give you a soundbyte that will do justice to her essay. But I believe she's right: Many people yearn for a spiritual life – for a connection to the Holy – but have grown to hate (or fear) the church because we have let the neo-con right-wing political "Christians" claim to speak for The Church. It's so bad that I don't tell people I'm a "Christian"; I say I'm an Episcopalian, hoping they won't associate me with the "God Hates Fags" fundamentalist wack-jobs who have stolen the "Christian" label.

The Episcopal Church has an honest-to-God Gospel to share. And people are starving to hear it. As Auntie Mame famously said, "Life's a banquet, and most poor SOBs are starving to death."

Reading Tandaina at Snow on Roses was the best thing I did all day. I'll be adding her to my daily reading.

Thanks, Nina!

I'm pleased to see that Nina is blogging again and Dancing through Doorways. I don't know what has kept her so quiet since July, but I send my good wishes and prayers.

She posted her results of yet another online quiz, and I couldn't resist taking it. Alas, my worst fears are confirmed.

What Kind of Reader Are You?
Your Result: Book Snob

You like to think you're one of the literati, but actually you're just a snob who can read. You read mostly for the social credit you can get out of it.

Literate Good Citizen
Dedicated Reader
Obsessive-Compulsive Bookworm
Fad Reader
What Kind of Reader Are You?
Create Your Own Quiz

But I must demur. Yes, I am a book snob. That part is true. I went to a small private college with a "great books" curriculum that placed value on reading the great works of western literature, and I was, alas, a literature major.

However, it is absolutely false that I think I get any social credit for the books I read (or have read). I am quite certain that my recent readings in Henri Nouwen [I have Lisbeth to thank for that one!] does me any good whatsoever in this conservative, fundie community.

So ... ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I beg for an acquittal. Not "guilty" or "not guilty," but at least an acquittal.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Rowan's Dream: Focus of Unity

There has been much brouhaha in the last few days about a note that the Archbishop of Canterbury sent to Central Florida's Bishop Howe. If you haven't been following the story, ENS has it here. For more detail and nuance, visit Thinking Anglicans for the background here, then the updates here and here.

When Rowan Williams was appointed Archbishop of Canterbury, I was very happy. I thought he was a fine theologian for the 21st century. But he has made quite a muddle of his office. He may go down in history as The Great Disappointment.

But there is this comfort for him: He and others before him have argued that the See of Canterbury is the "focus of unity" for the Anglican Communion. He seems to have earned that position. Through his lukewarm, temporizing statements, he has finally managed to be the Focus of Unity. The one thing about which folks seem to agree is that he is maddening. It's clear from the wildly left-wing blogs as well as the rabidly right-wing blogs.

Of all the comments I have seen, my favorite is this from Father Andrew Gerns.

Perhaps Rowan Williams should visit the local passport office and get himself a visa to become a permanent resident of Laodicea. I think he'll fit in quite well there.

Godwin's Law

A member of the HoBD listserv today offered up this snippet from the Wall Street Journal:

But what is it about the evangelical "product" that makes it so desirable? Any number of scholars have noted that, in recent years, it has been the churches that demand the most of people--tithing, bowing to firm doctrines, observing strict rules of conduct--that have grown the fastest. There seems to be something in our nature that requires from religion not just feel-good spirituality but strong moral direction. We are willing to make sacrifices to live by the dictates of a religiously grounded truth.
I know I'll have to invoke Godwin's Law on myself for saying this, but I can't help it.

I see a parallel in our nation and in our church to the rise of Nazism in Germany. The desire for black vs. white, good vs. evil. The desperate need of a group to have a scapegoat they can blame. In Germany, it was the Jews. In the U.S., gay men and lesbians are being blamed for everything from Hurricane Katrina to the attacks on New York City.

Interestingly, the HoBD poster did not reveal that the WSJ piece is a book review, nor did he quote the lines from the WSJ that reveal the mega-churches are selling a product in ways that would do Wall Street proud and that they're basically fighting among themselves like Coke and Pepsi fight in the marketplace.

Others have observed that the fastest-growing segment of our society is "No Religious Preference." And the recent Barna study suggests that many young people are declaring a pox upon all our so-called Christian houses because the radical right has claimed the "Christian" patent. Those are lines of fruitful contemplation.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Into the Darkness

My friend David reminded me of this. Neither he nor I know the source, but it sure does make sense to me.

When you come to the edge of all the light you have
And step into the darkness
You must be convinced of one of two things:
Either Someone will be there to catch you
Or you will be taught to fly!

Thursday, October 18, 2007


I have always loved dreams. They are so quirky and weird. One minute, I am awake; then I am dozing. Then this weird other consciousness takes over while am asleep, and the dreams move in. Then I am awake again and in my "right mind."

Ever since my mother died last week, I have been having a battle to manage a good night's sleep. I've had weird sleep patterns. I've gone to bed much earlier than usual, awakened in the middle of the night, and/or found myself awake much earlier than usual.

But last night surely wins the prize for the weird dream. I'll tell it here as if it were real.

All of a sudden, I was living in a different place. I was in a magnificent urban high-rise apartment. I became aware that there was a very large, very sick fish swimming aggressively outside. It was the shape of a discus or angel-fish, but lots bigger, and it was obviously in distress, like it was dying, and it had scary fangs. But, instead of swimming in water, it was floating in the air. It started attacking my windows.

Then the scene got darker. As usual, I had all my windows open, enjoying the breezes. But this crazed fish starting attacking my windows, ramming into them, and I was running around the house trying to close those windows. But it got into the living room window before I could close it.

The crazed, huge, dying fish landed on my living room floor. I knew it was aggressive, and I tried to find something, some sort of "weapon" with which I could knock it unconscious. But I wasn't fast enough. Before I could take action, this fish had jumped onto the sofa and had its fangs around my Big Orange Guy's neck. This huge, crazed fish was killing my beloved cat.

While I tried to beat the deranged fish off my beloved cat, I awoke.

Thank heavens, I awoke.

How crazy is that?

A dream about a crazed fish … flying through the air, out of water … digging its fangs into my beloved cat Scotty and trying to kill him??

This is some wacko stuff.


I know several of you are offering me support and prayers while I deal with my mother's death last week.

I suspect this is the weirdest thing I have yet posted on my blog. Damned if I have a clue what to make of it.

When Lisa Questioned the PB

A few of you have noted that two of my questions to Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori "made it" to the webcast Tuesday. Let me assure you, I don't have any "pull" or inside track to our church hierarchy. But ENS had issued an appeal for folks to call-in or send questions via e-mail that might be used in the webcast. Knowing I would be at work during the webcast, I simply submitted my questions via e-mail before the event.

In response to some questions that have been asked: Yes, I was delighted that two of my questions got asked back-to-back during the webcast. [For those of you with high-speed connections, they got asked about 37 minutes into it.]

I submitted three questions. The first one was admittedly angry and argumentative. It was essentially a distillation of the one I posed here. It was not used, but I think the Presiding Bishop (sort of) addressed the gist of it in her opening statement.

Here's my amateur transcription of the two questions that were used and of the PB's responses to them.

Jan Nunley [moderator]: This is from Lisa, a parishioner in Grace Church, Jefferson City, Missouri. After the primates' meeting in Tanzania, you called for the church to observe "a season of fasting," and after the House of Bishops meeting you said further that we are all standing in "a crucified place." The questioner says: Would you please explain what sacrifice, fasting, or "crucifixion" non-homosexuals are enduring in the Episcopal Church today and what personal sacrifice have you suffered as a result of the primates' meeting or the action of the House of Bishops?
Katharine Jefferts Schori: That's a very fair question. Personally, what I suffer – the crucifixion I suffer – is not being able to include the fullness of the gifts of my gay and lesbian brothers and sisters – that they are not yet able to live those out in all orders of ministry in this church … that their unions are unable to be blessed in most places. And we as a body lose the witness of that commitment.

I will leave it to others to decide whether the Presiding Bishop answered my question. She enjoys her marriage, while faithful gay men and lesbian are denied a blessing on their covenants and while gay men and lesbians receive no counseling or pastoral care that is analogous to what heterosexual couples receive. She carries the bishop's crozier, while our bishops have declared they will allow no other honest gay man or lesbian to be consecrated. She thinks her sadness qualifies as "standing in a crucified place." Well … that is what she believes, that is how she feels. I remain perplexed as to what she has lost or sacrificed. But maybe that's just me. To me, it sounds like a white man in the '60s being really really sad that his black brothers and sisters didn't get to vote, while he still exercises his full privilege. Maybe that's just me. And maybe that's just my anger at her claiming to stand in "a crucified place," when I fail to see her (or any of the supposedly sympathetic, supposedly heterosexual bishops) suffering anything at all.

Mind you, I was impressed at the interview overall. But her talk of "fasting" and "standing in a crucified place" just really, really rankles. Yes, I respect her. But I wish she would drop that "crucifixion" jargon, because it rings very hollow to me.

Jan Nunley [moderator]: This is another question from Lisa. It seems that the loudest voices are more akin to our fundamentalist brothers and sisters in the U.S. than with the heart of Anglicanism, and then she asks: What if any hope do you see on the ground in the "Global South" that might give us all hope for reconciliation or at least détente within the Anglican Communion?
Katharine Jefferts Schori: The very recent CAPA meeting of Anglican leaders in Africa was pretty clear about the need to focus on people who are dying of hunger and disease and to lower the anxiety levels about issues of sexuality because those are not primary issues in most of Africa.

I submitted this question as a "softball." The fact is, many Episcopalians individually and many Episcopal parishes are providing on-the-ground ministry in the "Global South" – even in provinces that claim we Episcopalians are apostate. We are continuing to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, minister to sick. Let us not lose sight of that fact.

Lest I sound too critical, let me add that I am very grateful that our church is beginning to use the Web for broadcasts like this. I was pleased to see our Presiding Bishop engage questions from across the spectrum. I am glad to see our church using this medium. I am delighted to see our Presiding Bishop speak directly to the church, and I think she and Jan Nunley did a very fine job of using this medium.

BTW, surely I am not the only one to observe that none of the Usual Conservative Suspects have so much as mentioned this webcast. Sites like SFiF, T19, and Drell haven't even mentioned that it occurred. I have a hunch it's because they want to pretend that KJS is the Devil(ess) Incarnate, and they don't want their denizens to see her as the thoughtful, real person she is.

In balance, I am grateful for our Presiding Bishop. And I am very, very grateful that she is willing to answer questions from the likes of me. I think this is a positive movement for our church.


I saw this slogan today on a church sign:

We persist in prayer
because of the hope
that God will hear us.

Ugh. How depressing. If I merely had a "hope" that God would hear me, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't even bother. Fortunately, I am assured that God not only hears my prayers – each and every one of them – but that God even hears and understands those "sighs too deep for words" that nobody else would even recognize as prayers.

Monday, October 08, 2007

A Marvelous, Ordinary Sunday

Several of you know that my parish welcomed a new rector yesterday, and have asked me to give you my reactions. Here they are.

I had a delightful day at church yesterday. My parish welcomed the Reverend Shariya Molegoda [late of St. James, Cambridge] as our new rector, after a long, long 26-month interim period.

No, we didn't have a difficult interim period. Yes, we intended it to be very long, as our last resident rector had been here 34 years, and we knew we needed quite a while to transition

Although I wasn't on the search committee, I have served on the vestry through this transition period, and I was pleased as pleased could be with the call.

Our parish just loves to party and "make a big deal" of things. But Shariya+ asked that there be no big party. She said she wanted to keep the focus on liturgy and worship – not on her. I have a sense that's going to be a hallmark of her ministry here. We honored her wish.

However, she led the Adult Forum, talking about who she is and what has brought her here. She was born and raised in Sri Lanka, a lifelong (and generations-long) Anglican. I can't now convey the "spirit" of this Adult Forum gathering, but it was impressive to me. She could have been a monastic, but chose a parochial vocation instead. As she spoke, and as she answered questions, something comes through loud and clear about her quietness and contemplation. I also was moved by her willingness to speak of her faith in ways that I don't often hear Episcopalians speak. Thoughtful, joyful, and deep. It was challenging and en-couraging to me.

During the Adult Forum session, one parishioner asked her a rather pointed question about her preaching style – whether it would just be a series of anecdotes, or would come "from the Word." Shariya's answer caught me up short. She described how she goes about preparing a sermon, reading the scriptures, praying and meditating on them, then concluded: "The sermon is the end product of one person's prayer, which is then offered to the community." Then, I think, she said something about hoping it would resonate with us and become our prayer also. I grew up in a tradition where sermons were a "preaching-at." This is a very different approach, and one I embrace. I look forward to her further offerings.

And her sermon on this first Sunday in our parish? It was dense, thoughtful, and not for the faint of heart or spirit. I think we are "back in business" as the "thinking Christian's place to be." The search committee members who visited her former parish were right: Her sermon will give me fodder for thought throughout the week.

Throughout my parish's transition period, I've heard members of our parish yearning [yes, yearning!] for more spiritual depth. I am hopeful that Shariya+ may be the person who can take us there.

I think we may have called a rector who will call our parish to deeper personal spirituality and greater outreach to the community.

The Spirit's Whimsy

During the Adult Forum, someone asked a question, to which Shariya+ responded about what happens when we truly open our church doors. She took the response in one direction, but it occurred to me that when we really open our doors, we never know who or what may come in through them.

I served as a Eucharistic Minister yesterday, so I was sitting in the chancel during the service.

Wouldn't you just know it? Midway through the sermon, a homeless man came in, sauntered right down the center aisle all the way to the front, and seated himself in the transept. [That kind of stuff just does not happen here. We're not in an urban parish, but in a small town of ca. 40,000 population.] Was it providential? I'm pleased to say that my friend Marc moved up and sat with this guy, and had a good exchange. The man told Marc he just needed a place to be quiet for a time. And as we said our liturgy and sang our hymns, I think we provided that quiet, hospitable-but-not-pushy place. At least I hope we did.

That has been my experience of the Episcopal Church. We proclaim that we welcome everyone. What we don't often articulate is that we welcome everyone to come in and have a seat, but we also believe that the liturgy, the Word, the sacraments, the teaching will change people. It certainly changed me!

The Big Issues

It was very, very good for me to be at church yesterday. You all know I have been very frustrated by the House of Bishops statement -- and my bishop's letter. They ticked me off big-time. But yesterday I was reminded how much I love my parish and my fellow parishioners. [Thank you for the reminder, Hilary.] We go on being the Church, no matter what any bishop might say. In my parish: that's where I grow and find sustenance. Let the primates and bishops play their games. I will go on working to be conformed to the image of Christ. The bishops and archbishops have their work to do; I have mine.

I am tired of parsing and studying the statement of bishops and primates and self-anointed experts. I want to get back to the basics. I want to get back to the words of Jesus Christ and what he called us to do. Jake and Harry have provided an important ministry, in helping me to move beyond my anger and negative energy. But I am also newly energized about this renaissance in my own parish.

Thanks be to God!

When Harry Met Katharine

A marvelous thing is happening over at Father Jake's place. Harry, a much-beloved member of Jake's virtual parish, had an opportunity (with his partner and 4 other people) to have dinner with Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori and her husband. You absolutely must read Harry's story.

Like many of us, it seems that Harry has been frustrated by the scapegoating of gay men and lesbians in our church since 2003, and wounded afresh by the House of Bishops' statement from New Orleans. Here he writes of an exchange with KJS near the end of dinner:

Toward the end of my conversation with her I said, “Katharine, I’m a mature Christian. I’ve been about this for awhile, and I don’t need anything from the House of Bishops, the Primates, or my Rector—who does, by the way, turn out to be the Love of My Life. I’d like, at this point, for you to give me a charge, during this time of ‘fasting,’ to take away from this table. I want something to call my gay and lesbian brothers and sisters to do with me that has absolutely nothing to do with the Windsor Report.”

She looked at me quizzically for moment and then said, “Build a school in Central Tanganyika.”

Father Jake concluded with:

Thanks, Harry.So, it sounds like we're building a school in Central Tanganyika? Ok, then. Let's get to it.
Then go here to follow the developments.

And we are off to the races. The PB gave Harry some leads, and the folks at Father Jake's are signing on. I'll support this any way I can, and I encourage you to do the same.

Friday, October 05, 2007

What +Missouri Said

Last night, I could merely post my bishop's statement. I was too weary to offer much commentary. Tonight, I will try to be a little more evaluative about what the Bishop of Missouri – my bishop – said to the people of this diocese.

The bishop of Missouri says:
Some few of these visitors took the trouble, as friends will do, to show, point-by-point, what clarification might look like.
As I understand it, the chief attack came from the Archbishop of the Middle East, who excoriated our church, pronouncing us barely – if at all – Christian. If this is Bishop Smith's view of "friends" who offered clarification, then God save us from our enemies. And now, after the bishops' meeting, he has gone even further – claiming that our church has done nothing to seek a closer walk with the Anglican Communion.

My bishop notes that the House of Bishops resolution passed with only one dissenting vote. I keep wanting to know: Were the dissidents like Duncan, Iker, et al in that meeting? I have heard conflicting reports. Matt Kennedy's live-blogging in the final session attributed some comments to Duncan. Others declare that the Duncan crowd left New Orleans when Archbishop Rowan Williams. So … were they there or not? Did they, too, vote for the "compromise" that passed the House of Bishops with only Bishop Bennison voting no?

My bishop wrote: "More important for me is the fact that the House of Bishops, a place of rather sharp division, even fractiousness, in the recent past, has worked to find ways to move toward one another. This is no small miracle."
I would like to hear a bit more explanation. The "liberal" bishops agreed that they would not consent to any gay/lesbian candidates to the episcopate. The "liberals" agreed not to authorize any liturgies for the blessing of same-sex covenants. The liberals claimed that gay men and lesbians are "full and equal members" of the Body of Christ, deserving of civil – but not ecclesial – rights, while moving us no further toward that equality.

So, it looks to me like the liberals gave, and gave, and gave, and caved. Was there any principle – aside from a call for civil [not ecclesial] rights for gay men and lesbians – that the "liberals" upheld? And would somebody please tell me anything – any point – on which the conservatives ceded any ground at all? Maybe there was some, but I can't see it in the bishops' statement from New Orleans.

My bishop wrote: "I cannot envision the work ahead as a choice, either gays and lesbians or Communion." But isn't that precisely what he and the other bishops did? They caved in to the U.S. neocons and the Global South rather than saying that we gay/lesbian Episcopalians are truly beloved members of the church. Oh, sure, they called that we get the same kind of human rights that the U.N. urges all people should have. But what right to pastoral care within the church did our bishops defend with any vigor? I cannot find a single one.

My bishop wrote: "I write you as one filled with hope, in the aftermath of this recent meeting. My desire, in writing to you, is that I convey some small measure of that hope to you." For the life of me, I still do not understand what hope he found in the New Orleans statement. What hope does he think I can glean from that statement? What hope is he offering to the gay men and lesbians in this diocese? Yes, I hear this loud and clear: He now has the hope of getting to Lambeth. But what hope is he offering to the gay men and lesbians in this diocese?

Finally, I cannot help observing this: By the time my bishop got around to writing to our diocese, the dissidents had already met in Pittsburgh, seeking to forge their Church of the Common Cause Partners [CCCP]. Thus, my bishop surely knew by October 2 that everything the bishops did in New Orleans had been rejected by the dissidents. How can he miss the fact that everything he and his colleagues accomplished in New Orleans has been dismissed by the neocons? How can he not grieve over how he betrayed us in his ill-conceived effort to placate the schismatics? In his shoes, I do not know how I would be able to hold my head up.

Many Episcopalians in our church (in the dioceses of Pittsburgh, Fort Worth, San Joaquin, Quincy) are going to be sacrificed … or so it seems to me. My bishop claims that he is "filled with hope." Exactly what hope is he – or our national leadership – offering to the loyal Episcopalians in those schismatic dioceses?

Ya know what? I have a hunch that we bloggers have a much better picture of what's really happening in our church than do the bishops who sit in their cathedrals and diocesan offices. And that makes me profoundly sad.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

The Bishop of Missouri Speaks

It's been a couple of weeks since the bishops formed the dance-line and departed New Orleans. I now discover George Wayne Smith, the bishop of Missouri, has posted a statement on the diocesan website, dated October 2. As far as I can tell, it wasn't widely distributed; when I went seeking it today, I found it about four levels down on the diocesan website. Here it is, with not a jot or tittle changed.

Personally, I want to slam heavy objects against the wall. But perhaps you friends and counselors will help me see something good, something -- anything -- of integrity, in this statement.

October 2, 2007

O God, Holy and Undivided Trinity, the infinite love within your own life is the life of the world and the glory of your people: In your great mercy mend the broken places in your creation, and draw your people from the discord of our ways more fully into the likeness of the unity which you share and enjoy for all ages, O Father, Son and Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Dear Sisters and Brothers:

You doubtless have had access to various news reports coming from the New Orleans meeting of the House of Bishops late last month. I'll not rehash those matters you can find in more detail elsewhere, but I will put before you some impressions from the Bishops' meeting.

First, the location. We were in the Gulf Coast region shortly after the two-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, and the place remains a mess. Despite all the information I had absorbed through the media since August 2005, my sense from being there, on the ground, was simply overwhelming. The loss is tragic in all its particulars, but the enormity of it lies beyond description. Neighborhoods lie destroyed for miles, and entire coast lands, a waste. The aftereffects of this catastrophe and its horrors have been compounded by bureaucratic bungling—some would say malfeasance. The storm and the bureaucracy, together, have laid bare the sins of racism and classism, not only in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, but in our entire nation.

The Bishops were blessed to have time in the community. Among a dozen other workers, I spent a day at a house in the Gentilly neighborhood of New Orleans, doing nothing more complicated than hanging sheetrock. But incidental conversations with longtime relief workers and people in the neighborhood proved rich beyond measure, and I was very glad for this hot, humid day of working.

Second, there are the matters of Communion. For the first two days of our meeting, we heard from the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, and from others on the Joint Standing Committee of the Primates and the Anglican Consultative Council. Some of their words were often difficult to hear, and the tone was occasionally disturbing. Nonetheless, it became obvious that most of our visitors desired that the Episcopal Church find a way to remain in the Anglican Communion. They came not to deliver an ultimatum but to seek clarification, a matter often misunderstood in the media. That is to say, these visitors came as our friends.

Some few of these visitors took the trouble, as friends will do, to show, point-by-point, what clarification might look like. And thus, during the final two days of our meeting, we worked on addressing these issues, point-by-point. The final resolution passed by a voice vote, with a single bishop voting in the negative. The work of drafting this resolution was purposefully more consensual than adversarial in style. Documents receiving the consent of a vast majority, by their very nature, are prone to imperfection. In particular, they are likely to leave unsaid the important, pointed word that might erode a consensus. The blogosphere is alive with the naming of such imperfections. More important for me is the fact that the House of Bishops, a place of rather sharp division, even fractiousness, in the recent past, has worked to find ways to move toward one another. This is no small miracle. And we have awakened it seems, to the gift of Communion, which must not be squandered.

Finally, let me reiterate what I have said before. One purpose that I have clearly in view, in working to sustain the highest level of Communion possible, is to make sure that our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters have a place in that Communion—and that, in fact, there will be a Communion left for their full inclusion. Or, to put it another way round, any Communion excluding these our brothers and sisters would be less than complete. I cannot envision the work ahead as a choice, either gays and lesbians or Communion. I see the struggle instead as generational, requiring catholic patience and the constant beseeching of His Holy Spirit, who can turn the world.

I write you as one filled with hope, in the aftermath of this recent meeting. My desire, in writing to you, is that I convey some small measure of that hope to you.
OK. I'm waiting for the punch line. What "small measure of hope" is my bishop offering? For the life of me, I can't find one word of hope in his statement.

From Uganda

Putting Things in Perspective

While many of us continue to vent and fume at the House of Bishops, comes this news from Uganda which helps me put things in perspective.

Peter Tatchell provides this story about gay men and lesbians in Uganda. Here are a few excerpts:

Ugandan government ministers are demanding the arrest of the country's lesbian and gay human rights activists. Deputy Attorney General, Fred Ruhinde, and Minister of Ethics and Integrity, Nsaba Butoro, made the call last month in a series of radio broadcasts heard across country.

They are backed by Christian, Muslim and Baha'i religious leaders who are calling for all "homos" to be rounded up and locked away.

Buturo told the BBC that his government opposed equality for gay people and would not decriminalise gay sexual relationships. He branded homosexuality as "shameful, abominable and ungodly….(and) unnatural." Urging gays to get out of Uganda he warned ominously: "We know them, we have details of who they are."

Butoro then went even further by attending a church-orchestrated anti-gay rally held in the capital Kampala on 21 August. It was a de facto show of government support for the homophobic religious zealots who denounced homosexuality as "immoral" and paraded with placards urging: "Arrest all homos." The rally was organised by the Interfaith Coalition Against Homosexuality, an alliance of Christian, Muslim, and Baha'i organisations.

The homophobic backlash in Uganda is in response to a new campaign called "Let us live in peace." It is organised by a small group of brave, inspiring Ugandan lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) human rights activists. They are challenging decades of systematic discrimination and violence suffered by LGBTI Ugandans. Much of this homophobic persecution is incited by President Museveni'sgovernment, by Kampala's notoriously sensationalist tabloid press and, most shockingly of all, by the Anglican Church of Uganda. [The smiling photo at left is Uganda's Anglican Archbishop Henry Luke Orombi.]

Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, has failed to condemn the homophobic witch-hunt that is being stirred up by Anglican Bishops in Uganda. Indeed, he has gone out of his way to embrace and appease them in a desperate bid to stop them splitting from the Anglican Communion. Liberal and gay Ugandans are dismayed by the Archbishop's silence and indifference.

We learn there of the penalties for homosexual activity in Uganda:

In Uganda, male homosexuality is illegal under archaic laws imposed during the period of British colonial rule. Section 140 of the country's penal code criminalises "carnal knowledge against the order of nature" with a maximum penalty of life imprisonment. Section 141 bans "attempts at carnal knowledge," stipulating a maximum penalty of seven years jail; while section 143 punishes "gross indecency" between men in public or private and authorises a top sentence of five years.
While the Anglican Church of Uganda does its best to destroy the Anglican Communion, they are building bridges with Christian, Muslim, and Baha'I churches in an effort to attack gay men and lesbians.

Are you as shocked as I?

This does put our struggle in perspective. We folks in the U.S. have it so much easier than our brothers and sisters in Uganda, whom Archbishop Orombi is seeking to destroy.

Lord, have mercy.

Medicine in 2007

I'm still having some weird physical/medical stuff going on going on with my right hand (and my left hand and my legs), about which I've written before. After an EMG, and an MRI, I had a series of spinal injections since July, which didn't do a thing to help. So my doc referred me to a neurologist, whom I saw today.

Being a new patient, I had to fill out that basic information sheet, of course (as well as that usual gazillion-page medical history form). It always makes me laugh when I encounter that "marital status" section which offers the options of single, married, divorced, and widowed. Apparently the medical profession hasn't yet figured out that "none of the above" or "gay" would be the answer for a decent minority of the population. Sheesh!

Into the exam room, where the nurse goes over all the forms, confirms the information, asks me to explain the problem I'm having. She leaves.

Then the neurologist comes in, goes over all the forms, confirms the information yet again, and asks me again to explain the problem I'm having. I keep wondering: Why the hell do they have the nurse do all that, if the doctor is going to do it all over again?

But I digress ….

While going over the info, the neurologist asks: "And you're single?" "Yes," I say – perhaps with a bit of a wry expression. After all, with the exception of a couple of states in the U.S., all gay people are officially "single," even if they've been in a committed relationship for decades.

Then we get into the neurological exam/assessment. While he's tapping various body parts to check my reflexes, we have this little exchange:

Doc: So you're single?
Me: Yep.
Doc: Ever married?
Me: Nope.
Doc: Any homosexual activity?
Me: Yes.
Doc: Have you been tested for HIV?
Me: Yes.
Doc: When?
Me: Back in the early '90s. It was Atlanta. ... Why?
Doc: Because HIV/AIDS can create some of the symptoms you're having. … Any homosexual activity since your last test?
Me: Yes.
Doc: Mmmmmm …
Am I the only one who finds that sequence just a little weird? I thought that by the Year of Our Lord 2007, most people with a college education had learned that HIV/AIDS is not a gay disease. In fact, my understanding is that in the U.S., it's growing fastest among straight women of color.

So how come he first needed to ascertain I was gay before asking me about HIV testing? That's just stupid. Seems to me the question should have been "Have you had any unprotected sex since your last HIV test?" rather than whether I'd had any "homosexual activity."

Mind you, the guy didn't seem at all judgmental. And in this part of the country, folks aren't exactly progressive about their language. And he seemed very caring. The only thing about which he was judgmental was the fact that I smoke and have no intention to quit or cut down.

But the sequence of his questions struck me as very '80s.

Anyway … based on his evaluation, he wants an MRI of my brain, and a gazillion blood tests, including HIV testing. That makes sense.

However, I'm a bit miffed that doctors in 2007 would still equate "gay" with "HIV."

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

From Kenya

When I was confirmed in the Episcopal Church in 1997, I knew that the Episcopal Church was "Anglican" and had some connection to the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Church of England. As far as I recall, I had no sense of there being a worldwide Anglican Communion to which I or we related. I can assure you I had no sense that I was ecclesiastically connected to churches in Africa.

My understanding began to grow in 2003-04, when the so-called Global South Primates began hurling invectives at our church. It grew much more deeply when I spent a couple of weeks in Africa, as part of our companion diocese relationship. Now, I understand better our place within the Anglican Communion, and I am coming to understand more deeply our interconnections.

Now, when I read statements saying "the Global South" thinks this or that, I am more aware that there is diversity in the "Global South."

Isn't it ironic? The schismatics within the Episcopal Church have made us more aware of the importance of the Anglican Communion. I daresay that folks on the left, right, and center of our current disputes have grown to care much more about our brothers and sisters throughout the Anglican Communion. And that is surely a good thing.

So I was stunned by this opinion piece from a Kenyan newspaper. Most of us hear a steady drumbeat from the likes of Archbishop Akinola that gay men and lesbians are "worse than dogs" and a "cancerous lump."

This writer had the courage to talk about what is happening in some parts of Africa. I was stunned beyond words at what she revealed. And it reminds me that this is not just a U.S. battle. Our church – and our bishops – should be even more concerned for the folks in Africa than for those in New York or Chicago or San Francisco. It seems to me that there is a very quiet "killing field" about which we seldom hear. I am grateful for this writer at The East African.

Unholy? Why not cockroaches?
L. Muthoni Wanyeki

The American Episcopal church has backed down to preserve the unity of the Anglican family worldwide. It has promised to exercise restraint with respect to the ordination of any more gay or lesbian bishops. And it has promised no longer to authorise the use of rites to bless same-sex marriages.

African Anglican bishops are, for the most part, celebrating. As far as they are concerned, they have won a major victory regarding interpretation of religious texts relating to homosexuality. Kenya’s archbishop has gone so far as to say that the capitulation is not enough — he is demanding no less than full “repentance.”

My personal opinion, for what it is worth, is that the African Anglican hierarchy itself has something to repent. It has proceeded as though African gay men and lesbians do not exist, even though some are also members of its flock. It has endorsed the prejudice and stereotypes about African gay men and lesbians — namely that they are both “unAfrican” and “unholy.”

The outcomes?

At the worst end of the scale, consider this. On July 7 this year, two black South African lesbians were executed in Soweto. It is believed that they were followed home after a party. They were removed from their car, taken to a field and gang-raped before being executed.

Their deaths were not isolated. Another woman, also known to be a lesbian, was killed in Cape Town around the same time. And, in line with the ignorant idea that lesbians can be “fixed,” over 10 women known to be lesbians were raped. An atmosphere of fear has been created.

That is South Africa. Closer to home, the Tanzanian Lesbian Association has had to help relocate two lesbians following the publication of a picture of them kissing under the banner: “Uchafu.”

Lawrence Mute, formerly a commissioner with the Kenya National Human Rights Commission, remarked last week, “Being blind, I know what being disadvantaged, being vulnerable, being discriminated against, is all about.” He was, on behalf of the KNHRC, one of the drafters of the so-called Yogyakarta Principles — an attempt to being together, in one document, the range of already agreed upon international and regional human rights standards that apply (or should apply) to ensure the equal treatment of the gay community (or communities).

Noting that the history of human rights is one of claim, contestation and confirmation, sexual rights are human rights — but remain abstract until those oppressed begin that arduous and long process of first staking claim.

That no less than one of the most powerful mainstream churches on the continent does not seem to understand this — or to even be willing to try to do so — is a cause for deep concern. Prejudice and stereotypes both cause and enable systemic discrimination. When they are “sanctioned” by those considered to be authorities, the logical outcome is the kind of hate crimes now being witnessed in South Africa.

LET US BE CLEAR ABOUT THIS. WE all reacted with horror to the kind of human-rights violations seen during the genocide in Rwanda. We all asked ourselves: How could family, friends, neighbours turn on each other in such a devastatingly vicious manner. What we all should remember is that all it takes is sanction from authorities of any kind — the state, religious organisations and so on. We are all capable of being genocidal. We just need to believe that we are “right” in being so.

What the African Anglican bishops have essentially said is that African citizens are “right” in their prejudices and stereotypes about African gay communities. It is thus the African Anglican hierarchy that should “repent.” If we do not stop and check ourselves, we can rest assured that the damage ultimately caused will not just be to the Anglican family worldwide. The damage will be to our own.

L. Muthoni Wanyeki is the executive director of the Kenya Human Rights Commission

Many thanks to EpiScope for bringing this essay to my attention. I have begun to take EpiScope for granted, but I shouldn't. Jan Nunley is doing an amazing job there, gathering Anglican news from around the world. I don't know how she does it!


What the Bishops Could Have Said

It's no secret that some of us are very angry about the duplicity in the House of Bishops' statement from New Orleans. It's not just the bloggers. Several Deputies are also expressing their anger or disappointment.

Apparently, I am far from being alone in observing the bishops' duplicity. Even Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite, writing for Newsweek and the Washington Post, has observed it:

I’m sorry that some Episcopal Bishops are apparently yielding to world-wide and national pressure from conservatives and backing off of their courageous stance on the full equality of homosexuals in the Episcopal Church. The “compromise” position that strengthened the 2006 resolution on “restraint” in consecrating gay bishops and that explained that the Episcopal Church has no official liturgy for same sex blessing is a gentler form of deception. I have to agree with the Episcopal conservatives here (though of course for different reasons) who called this a “legal fiction.” It is fiction and it is unfortunately a step back from the truth that some Episcopalians are gay, but that all are equal in the sight of God. It also is a step back from the truth that some gay or lesbian Episcopalians have the spiritual gifts needed to be a Bishop. Bishop Gene Robinson is one of them. If you know Gene, and I do, you will quickly realize he is one of the most spiritually luminous people you will ever meet. Any church that refuses to recognize spiritual gifts for leadership is, frankly, lying to itself and no good ever comes from that.

What happens when people and societies lie about important things like the diversity of human gender preference? Well, one of the things that may happen is that some people so deny their own sexual orientation that they end up playing footsie in a Minneapolis bathroom instead of leading a healthy, self-aware life.

At the end of the day, being a liar society is fundamentally corrupting to individuals and the whole nation.

A few folks have challenged us: So what would you have wished the bishops to say?

At Telling Secrets, Elizabeth Kaeton relates just such an interchange – in which a dear friend asked/challenged her: "So," he asked, "what would you have done? If you had been in a purple shirt in NOLA, what would you have written as your statement?" She answers the question on her blog [click here], and it's a statement that would have satisfied me. Read it.

Louie Crew has also taken a turn at what the bishops might have said. His version is here. Here is part of Louie's text:
We honor the fact that repeatedly you have shared with us and with the world your disagreements with The Episcopal Church. It is important for all to listen to their critics. We will continue to take your criticism seriously, even when we determine that we disagree. Our final decisions must be our own, not decisions forced on us.
My own edit is much simpler. For the sake of honesty, I wish our bishops had amended their statement to say: "We wish we could – but we don'tproclaim the Gospel that in Christ all God's children including gay and lesbian persons, are full and equal participants in the life of Christ's Church."

Then, at least they would have been honest. Cowards, maybe. But at least honest.

Monday, October 01, 2007


I've been pondering our House of Bishop's latest action for a week now. I was so inspired by the statement they issued in March. Then I was so frustrated – even heartbroken – by the statement they issued in September.

I kept asking myself: What was the difference? Why did they speak with such passion and vision 6 months ago, and then seemed to cave this month?

Here is the conclusion I have reached.

Look back at their statement in March 2007. They rejected the Primatial Vicars scheme, speaking powerfully – even poetically and inspiringly – about who and what we are as the Episcopal Church in North American.

In September, "all" they had to address was whether they would go along with the Anglican Communion regarding the consecration of a few homosexuals to the episcopate or being pastors to the thousands of gay men and lesbians in our church.

In March, the bishops' power – their royalty – was at stake. They spoke powerfully.

In September, they spoke as if it were merely the vocations and spiritual lives of a few thousand Episcopalian queers that were at stake. They paid no attention to the homosexuals living throughout the world.

My conclusion: When the bishops' power is at stake, they will rise to the occasion. When it is "merely" the lives of a few thousand (or tens of thousands) of homosexual human beings at stake … well … frankly, Scarlett, we're dispensable if it might cost them dinner with the Queen.

Think about: What's the one and only issue that has made them rise to a prophetic voice? The protection of their own power.

It's the turf, stupid.

Oh, Really?

According to this story at Episcopal News Service:
Divine messengers "act to drive out fear," Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori said in her homily marking the Feast of St. Michael and All Angels observed September 30 at San Francisco's Grace Cathedral. "That may be the best test of the messenger's source," she added.
"When the message is about fear or hate, we can be sure that it comes from an unholy messenger," Jefferts Schori said, having noted that the "encounter between Michael and the dragon is a reminder of that reality. [Full sermon text is available here.]
Oh, really? If that is what she believes, then I would like our Presiding Bishop to tell us: Which spirit does she believe was operating in New Orleans? The message I heard from New Orleans was absolutely nothing but "fear and hate."

I don't think I'm alone in yearning for our Presiding Bishop to talk to the gay men and lesbians in our church. I would like to ask her: How are we supposed to hear anything but fear and hate in the message that you bishops are so happy about? Bishops all around our church are dancing in the street, so self-satisfied in the unanimity they found in New Orleans.

So why do most of the gay men and lesbians in our church hear nothing but betrayal and duplicity?

Talk to me like I was a five-year-old. Please.

A Sign

Several of us bloggers are angry about the obvious disconnect in the Episcopal bishops' statement from New Orleans. On one hand, they capitulated to the conservatives, promising that they will continue to reject gay men and lesbians elected as bishops and will continue to reject honest blessings of same-sex unions. On the other hand, they flat-out lied by claiming that gay men and lesbians are full and equal members of the Episcopal Church.

Louie Crew has come to the rescue again. (God bless him!) He proposes this new variant on the well-known "The Episcopal Church Welcomes You" sign.

I love it.

It's all in the fine print, as usual.