Saturday, September 26, 2009

Poor, Pitiful Bishop Little

The Chicken-Little-in-Chief of the HoBD listserv today shared with us an excerpt from this September 25 editorial from The Living Church, written by Northern Indiana’s Bishop Edward Little. (The Rev. Chicken-Little-in-Chief has earned his title by his regular clucking that the Episcopal Church is dying -- nay, hemorraghing! -- due to its acceptance of queers.)

In his essay, Bishop Little recalls that Archbishop Carey “asked a difficult question in April at a conference sponsored by the Anglican Communion Institute.” For those not keeping up, the Anglican Communion Institute is a discredited group, fondly known as "Three Guys and a Webpage," supported by Don Armstrong, who is currently up on felony charges in Colorado.

Photo (at left) of Bishop Little is courtesy of Diocese of Northern Indiana

In his essay, Bishop Little claims to quote Archbishop Carey:
"Can conservative believers be assured that they have a future place in TEC without censure or opposition?”

Then Bishop Little offers his own whine:
"This question is both apt and pressing. We need a conscience clause with canonical and constitutional authority, a conscience clause that contains no sunset provision, that cannot be revoked."

As far as I’m concerned, the simple answer is simply: “No!”

Without a doubt, conservative believers in our church should be assured they have a future place in TEC without censure. I respect my parishioners who disagree with my beliefs. They are all entitled to their position, just as we progressives are bound to respect and listen to them and to engage them. But they certainly should not – and I hope they will not – be guaranteed a place “without opposition.”

How arrogant of Bishop Little to demand a Special Place Without Opposition! (Am I the only one for whom “special rights” carries some verbal baggage?)

For over three decades, progressive theologians and activists have made our case. We have done it in the face of censure, in the face of apothegms of “Heretic!,” and in the face of great, virulent opposition. Bishop Little has railed against the progressives. More recently, the Chicken-Little-in-Chief and his minions regularly call us “heretics” and deny that we are even Christians.

How dare Bishop Little and the Chicken-Little-in-Chief demand that their little sinecure be allowed to thrive “without opposition”!? Methinks they are asking for Special Privileges – privileges that they have withheld from the rest of us in the past several decades.

Has there ever been a group in the Anglican Communion that has claimed it has a right to hold its position “without censure or opposition”? I don’t know, for I am not a master of Anglican theology. But I suspect this is a Very New Thing that Bishop Little is demanding.

I think we Anglicans have spent centuries fighting about our theology, challenging and engaging each other. I don’t know how Bishop Little concocted this notion of a little island of refuge – free from any breath of criticism or challenge. But I don’t think it’s an island within the Anglican Communion. Perhaps it’s an island off the coast of Rome.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Godspeed, Betty

Last night I received a call from a friend up in Columbia: Betty Miller died Monday night.

Few obituaries convey the fulness of the person. And I know my little eulogy will fall short.

When Betty came to central Missouri and I met her, she was already a senior citizen. She had lost the husband and the love of her life, whom she had loved for many decades. But she was full of joy and hope. And she found another beloved soulmate, whom she married here. From Betty, I learned much about true love and commitment and hope.

I was blessed to be a part of the "Flamingoes" -- a group of five women who met twice a month for fun and chat and spiritual exploration. Betty was our oldest member, but also [it seemed to me] our most vibrant and optimistic. She had an ebullient sense of humor, always ready to laugh. When we met at her home, she delighted in the meals she provided and in the cocktail hour too.

Betty had a seeking, open, joyous soul. In her 70s and 80s, she dismissed the conservative dissidents in our church. She embraced the poor, the outcast, the rejected. She embraced gay and lesbian couples, accepting their love as just like her own. Betty seemed to love all God's creatures with a tenderness and ferocity that I can only admire.

Betty was a tiny woman with a great, huge, feisty heart. She loved me, when I was not sure my own parish loved me. She accepted me and my partner when our church did not seem to do so.

When I was with Betty, I sensed I was close to God. For it was clear to me -- it was palpable -- that she was on a first-name basis with God. Betty was a holy woman. It was clear to me that she walked and talked and laughed with God. And she probably told God the crazy things that some people were doing in God's name.

I haven't known many people I would call "saints." I haven't known many people whose lives were transparent with the Holy Spirit. But Betty was one. I shall not see her like again. She died in this world Monday night. I have no doubt that there was a great festival in heaven that night. Rejoicing in heaven, while we mourned our loss.

I believe Betty is now in God's heavenly kingdom, and I like to imagine what that's like for her. I bet she is awestruck at the glory of seeing God, now face to face. But I also bet she is hard at work, telling God and the angels about the people she treasures here still on this earth.

As luck would have it, my sister today reminded me of this song. I played it again and again. I think Betty would like it. More to the point, it reminds me of her - of her great faith, her great soul, her great compassion.

Play it here. An awesome rendition of Amazing Grace. (The server won't let me embed it.)

Schmaltzy E-mails

I bet many of you get the same kind of schmaltzy e-mails that I do from some of my friends. You know. The ones that remind you how precious friendship is ... or the ones that have some sort of inspirational message. Most of them promise you great rewards if only you will forward the message to several other friends. Mostly, they make me gag with their saccharine sentiments.

I was delighted to receive this one this week. It will become my standard response.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Tea-Baggers and Their Ilk

Note: For some reason, Blogger isn't letting me upload photos ... so you are stuck with my unrelenting prose. Deep apologies.

I have been watching these wacky town hall meetings and the “tea-baggers” get-togethers and all the other gatherings of angry right wing whack jobs.

They all seem to be speaking out against government programs. They seem to think that only Folks Lower Than Them benefit from those government programs. It is not lost on me that many of these folks are what we called Poor White Trash. (And my family was in that category.) And it is not lost on me that many of those white-trash protestors are racist pigs who are taking their pot-shots against our first black President.

Whitewash it how you wish. …. And, yes, I use that term advisedly. … I believe President Carter was correct when he said that a significant portion of these protests are coming from out-and-out racism. I am sick unto death of it.

Well … I have this to say to them. For a long time, people have claimed that our nation was founded on Christian values. As I understand them, true Christian values consist of taking care of the poor, the uneducated, the widow, the immigrant, the outsider. If these right-wingers want to show their Christian values and their American patriotism, I suggest they return to the Gospels.

Most of those wing-nuts are already drinking from the trough of the government programs that they call socialism. Now they want to bar others from the benefits they enjoy.

Here it is, wing-nuts. Sign on the dotted line for your anti-socialism pledge. (And I thank my friend Tom Woodward for sending this along!)


I, ________________________, do solemnly swear to uphold the principles of a socialism-free society and heretofore pledge my word that I shall strictly adhere to the following:

I will complain about the destruction of 1st Amendment Rights in this country, while I am duly being allowed to exercise my 1st Amendment Rights.

I will complain about the destruction of my 2nd Amendment Rights in this country, while I am duly being allowed to exercise my 2nd Amendment rights by legally but brazenly brandishing unconcealed firearms in public.

I will foreswear the time-honored principles of fairness, decency, and respect by screaming unintelligible platitudes regarding tyranny, Nazi-ism, and socialism at public town halls.

I pledge to eliminate all government intervention in my life. I will abstain from the use of and participation in any socialist goods and services including but not limited to the following:
  • Social Security
  • Medicare/Medicaid
  • State Children’s Health Insurance Programs (SCHIP)
  • Police, Fire, and Emergency Services
  • US Postal Service
  • roads and highways
  • air travel (regulated by the socialist FAA)
  • the US Railway System
  • public subways and metro systems
  • public bus and lightrail systems
  • rest areas on highways
  • sidewalks
  • all government-funded local/state projects (e.g., see Iowa 2009 federal senate appropriations)
  • public water and sewer services (goodbye socialist toilet, shower, dishwasher, kitchen sink, outdoor hose!)
  • public and state universities and colleges
  • public primary and secondary schools
  • Sesame Street
  • publicly funded anti-drug use education for children
  • public museums
  • libraries
  • public parks and beaches
  • state and national parks
  • public zoos
  • unemployment insurance
  • municipal garbage and recycling services
  • treatment at any hospital or clinic that ever received funding from local, state or federal government (pretty much all of them)
  • medical services and medications that were created or derived from any government grant or research funding (again, pretty much all of them)
  • socialist byproducts of government investment such as duct tape and velcro (Nazi-NASA inventions)
  • use of the Internet, email, and networked computers, as the DoD's ARPANET was the basis for subsequent computer networking
  • foodstuffs, meats, produce and crops that were grown with, fed with, raised with or that contain inputs from crops grown with government subsidies
  • clothing made from crops (e.g., cotton) that were grown with or that contain inputs from government subsidies

If a veteran of the government-run socialist US military, I will forego my VA benefits and insist on paying for my own medical care.

I will not tour socialist government buildings like the Capitol in Washington, D.C.

I pledge never to take myself, my family, or my children on a tour of the following types of socialist locations, including but not limited to:
  • Smithsonian Museums such as the Air and Space Museum or Museum of American History
  • the socialist Washington, Lincoln, and Jefferson Monuments
  • the government-operated Statue of Liberty
  • the Grand Canyon
  • the socialist World War II and Vietnam Veterans Memorials
  • the government-run socialist-propaganda location known as Arlington National Cemetery
  • all other public-funded socialist sites, whether it be in my state or in Washington, DC

I will urge my Member of Congress and Senators to forego their government salary and government-provided healthcare.

I will oppose and condemn the government-funded and therefore socialist military of the United States of America.

I will boycott the products of socialist defense contractors such as GE, Lockheed-Martin, Boeing, Northrop Grumman, General Dynamics, Raytheon, Humana, FedEx, General Motors, Honeywell, and hundreds of others that are paid by our socialist government to produce goods for our socialist army.

I will protest socialist security departments such as the Pentagon, FBI, CIA, Department of Homeland Security, TSA, Department of Justice and their socialist employees.

Upon reaching eligible retirement age, I will tear up my socialist Social Security checks.

Upon reaching age 65, I will forego Medicare and pay for my own private health insurance until I die.

_____________ _________________________
Signed Printed Name/Town and State

Monday, September 07, 2009

End of Summer

Several bloggers and Facebook friends are remarking this weekend that it's the end of summer. Indeed it is, and with it comes a certainly melancholy for me. This weekend, I noticed a few maples and dogwoods are tinged with red and golden colors. This does not make me happy. For me, autumn is a time of melancholy and loss as the world begins to die again.

I spent a long-ago late summer listening again and again and again to the soundtrack of Aspects of Love on cassette tape. [Remember those?] From time to time over the years, I replayed it ... until I no longer had a tape player. I never knew it had been produced as a musical.

Any other secret romantic fans of Aspects of Love out there? Anybody know where to get the musical on CD or DVD? Tell me in the comments.

With thanks to Sharon for pointing me to this video.

If the embedding doesn't work, watch it here on YouTube.


Love, love changes everything
Hands and faces, earth and sky
Love, love changes everything
How you live and how you die
Love, can make the summer fly
Or a night seem like a lifetime
Yes love, love changes everything
Now I tremble at your name
Nothing in the world will ever be the same

Love, love changes everything
Days are longer, words mean more
Love, love changes everything
Pain is deeper than before
Love will turn your world around
And that world will last forever
Yes love, love changes everything
Brings you glory, brings you shame
Nothing in the world will ever be the same

Off into the world we go
Planning futures, shaping years
Love (comes in) and suddenly all our wisdom disappears
Love makes fools of everyone
All the rules we made are broken
Yes love, love changes everyone
Live or perish in its flame
Love will never never let you be the same
Love will never never let you be the same