Thursday, October 29, 2009

Real Episcopalians in South Carolina

On the last couple of threads, folks have asked how to contact the actual Episcopalians in South Carolina, rather than the Calvinists that have gained control of the diocese and are trying to drag it out of the Episcopal Church.

The Episcopal Forum of South Carolina is the group that is faithful to the Episcopal Church; Joan Gundersen has confirmed that's the coordinating group working in SC. Another blogger is working at South Carolina Episcopalians, linking to the Forum. I have a hunch they're in the spot that the San Joaquin Episcopalians were a couple of years ago; I don't see a clear way to offer support to them. But as Mark Lawrence and the other Calvinists turn up the heat, South Carolina Episcopalians may develop more connections to the rest of the church.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


"The ecclesiastical crybabies of Anglicanism"

In a comment here earlier today, the Rev. Mr. David Gillespie wrote:
I like Harry T. Cook's words written in response to the Rome invitation: "if the Vatican wants the ecclesiastical crybabies of Anglicanism who have turned dissent and schism into a high art form, it is welcome to them."
Amen. Could not have put it better and more succinctly myself.

“The ecclesiastical crybabies of Anglicanism.” Doesn’t that just say it all?

Monday, October 26, 2009

South Carolina Embraces Hate, 182-117

Others have reported on the actions taken by the nominally “Episcopal” Diocese of South Carolina in their super-secret convention meeting this weekend. ENS ran a story here. In four resolutions, the Calvinists-in-Drag “Episcopalians” in South Carolina voted to have their cake and eat it, too, in measures designed to separate themselves from the cooties in the Episcopal Church.

No great surprise there. Mark Lawrence lied his way into the episcopate. [Yes, I have the PDF to prove he is a liar. I would not use that term lightly.] Unfortunately, a majority of bishops and Standing Committees were hoodwinked to believe his lies, so this “purer than thou” Pharisee is now leading the supposedly “Episcopal” Diocese of South Carolina.

Now Lawrence and his lackeys in South Carolina have passed resolutions declaring their purity. They are using the same duplicitous tactics that Lawrence used to slither in to the House of Bishops and stay just barely within the Episcopal Church. They won’t participate in TEC groups, won’t give money, won’t do anything to be Episcopalians … but will just barely stay within TEC until they can figure out a way to slither away with their property.

South Carolina adopted four resolutions to keep themselves pure from the Episcopal Church. But they couldn’t stomach the fifth resolution. That one had the gall to say "that this Diocese will not condone prejudice or deny the dignity of any person, including but not limited to, those who believe themselves to be gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered. Nevertheless, we will speak the truth in love as Holy Scripture commends for the amendment of life required of disciples of Christ.” They defeated it 182 to 117.

Pause and reflect on that for a moment. South Carolina voted overwhelmingly to separate itself from The Episcopal Church. It voted in equally overwhelming numbers against recognizing that lesbian/gay people are fully human. 182 to 117. The resolution they rejected was purportedly moderate but insulting to LGBTs. But the bigots in South Carolina couldn’t even manage to adopt that reserved, bigoted resolution. They defeated it, 182 to 117.

Mind you, there was much to despise in that resolution, including the incredibly condescending phrase about “those who believe themselves to be gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered.” (Shall we refer to others as people who simply “believe” themselves to be heterosexual!?!) But they couldn’t even adopt that weak, insulting resolution. 182 to 117.

Even that watered-down, condescending resolution failed to pass. South Carolina delegates gagged at believing that LGBTs might be fully human. South Carolina voted 182-117 against realizing the humanity of gay/lesbian Christians.

182 to 117.

Fellow queers, the Diocese of South Carolina assents overwhelmingly to the 1801 Articles of Religion. But today, 182 against 117 say we are not children of God.

I was born and raised in the South. I love many aspects of my southern heritage. But this crap out of South Carolina is just hatred – hatred without even a veneer of tolerance. Their vote makes it clear to me that these are the people who still have issues with the “niggers” and “queers.”

182 to 117.

Bishop Mark Lawrence and the Diocese of South Carolina has voted on our humanity. They voted against it. 182 to 117.

Way to go, South Carolina! I am truly grateful that you told us who you hate. Thanks for this honesty. By a vote of 182 to 117, you declare you don’t consider LGBTs human.

Thanks for the clear message.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Romanizing the Anglicans...

... in Comic Strip Form

I like the Jesus and Mo comic strip. (H/t to Ann for introducing me to it.)

Today was good, particularly because of the tabloid that Mo is reading. Check it out.

Why Be Episcopalian?

In all the brouhaha following the release of the pitiful Around One Table video ... and while many are expressing a preference for the Episcopal Ninjas video ... a member of the HoBD listserv calls our attention to this simple, no-production-values clip of Presiding Bishop Katherine Jefferts Schori answering one person's question: "Why should I become an Episcopalian?"

See it here

or on YouTube.

A real person answering a real question, with passion and wit.

It reminds me of the joy I felt when Bishop Jefferts Schori was elected Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church. God! How I wish that woman were directing our communication and outreach efforts to the world!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

“Around One Table”

Hoax Revealed

On the HoBD listserv yesterday, I learned about the video at “Around One Table,” purportedly from the Episcopal Church. There was much brouhaha about it. Some of my TEC friends were extremely distressed, because they believed the Around One Table video was produced by and/or for the Episcopal Church. You can see it here, on YouTube, or at a site called Around One Table.

After watching the video, I immediately discerned The Truth, and I assured my friends that they had surely been duped into believing that the Around One Table video was actually produced by or for the Episcopal Church. My comments were shared on the HoBD list, which I know many of you read. But in case any of you have also fallen for that hoax, I offer my comments here, elaborated a bit more than I posted on the HoBD listserv.

If you believe the Around One Table video was created by the Episcopal Church, you are entirely too trusting ... or maybe even gullible and naive! Obviously, you were taken in by the ruse. I can't believe you fell for this video, which is so obviously a hoax!

In the first place, it's obviously not produced by a Christian church. If a Church had produced it, they would have devoted at least 10% of the time to talking about spirituality and its meaningful place in our lives. They would have made some effort to connect what we do with what we believe. After posing dire statistics, a Church would surely have said what it was doing about them.... I mean, think about it. An actual church wouldn’t have spent all its focus on the doom-and-gloom newspaper headlines, ignoring the place of spirituality, faith, and Christ in our lives. Right? Heck! Even the Unitarian Universalists would have had a more spiritual and positive message than this video offers!

Second, it's obvious that the video was created by an 8th-grader, suffering from a serious case of ADD, who has no ability to focus, and who is probably fixated on the apocalypse. The child who created that video needs our prayers. I hope someone can find him/her and offer psychological counseling. No sane adult Episcopalian would have created something as weird and dismal as this video, and s/he certainly would not have pretended it represented the Episcopal Church. No healthy individual would have presented our message on this gloomy black background.

Third, this video was created by some amateur with no knowledge of research. The Around One Table site proudly claims it based its research on five years of study with 3,000 Episcopalians. There are about 2 million Episcopalians. This means the "study" included 0.15% of our Episcopalians. And the author of this "study" says it took 5 years to ferret out the substantive values of 0.15% of The Episcopal Church? ROTFLMAO! Surely no one beyond middle school would expect such claims to be taken seriously. (Actually, I expect today's 6th-graders would know better, but I am trying to be generous.)

Finally, if a group affiliated with the Episcopal Church had produced this video, they would have shown real people, real churches, real ministry. There would have been some color in it. There would have been some real, incarnational human beings in it. They would have included some production values. They would not have used the elementary-school graphics that this PowerPoint slideshow used. They would have had access to something more sophisticated than clip-art. And they would have actually spent money to create it. Even "Save the Children" wouldn't air such a hokey, amateur video on late-night television! So you know the Episcopal Church wouldn't produce such a corny piece of tripe. After all, under the able leadership of Linda Watt, the Episcopal Church is moving into a brave new magical world of communications without staff! She and Communications Director Ann Rudig are convinced that they'll create brilliant communications after shedding most of the actual journalists and communicators who used to serve our Church and after disregarding the advice of the Standing Commission on Communications. You just know in your heart that the communications geniuses at Church Center would not have allowed such a pitiful piece to be released as our message to the world. Nah! Would not happen!

Consider all the facts, my friends, and then relax. There's no way in the world that this video is actually a production of or by the Episcopal Church. I'm pretty sure it's something a middle-school student produced one night when s/he was facing a last-minute deadline on a school project to show s/he knew how to use PowerPoint and what the kids call "emo" music.

You know as well as I do that our beloved Episcopal Church wouldn't crank out something this gloomy and half-baked for a national (or international) audience.

Wouldn't happen. Couldn't happen. No way.

This must be a hoax from someone who hacked into the Episcopal Church website. It has to be!

Doesn't it?

So tell me: What do you think of the Around One Table video?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Continuing Diocese of Quincy

A Seven-Parish Diocese?

The continuing Episcopal Diocese of Quincy met in convention, after a bunch of others hied off to narrow-minded Anglican parts unknown. God bless those remaining Episcopalians!

According to a report from Episcopal Life Online this week:

The Peoria, Illinois-based continuing diocese of Quincy adopted a slightly reduced budget of about $140,000 at its 132nd annual synod gathering, Oct.17, according to Bishop John Buchanan. Bishop Christopher Epting served as keynote speaker at the gathering, held at St. Paul's Cathedral in Peoria. Quincy and other continuing dioceses are being aided in reorganizational efforts through a Church Pension Fund grant, Buchanan added. The current diocese includes seven congregations but, said, "There is a spirit of optimism and people are anxious to get on with the work of the church." [emphasis added]
Seven parishes?? I know the Diocese of Quincy was tiny even before Ackerman and his queens moved away. But does a "diocese" of 7 seven parishes stand any chance of surviving on its own? Does this make any sense? There are currently three dioceses in Illinois. The Diocese of Chicago has about 125 congregations, the Diocese of Springfield has 40 congregations, and the continuing Diocese of Quincy has seven.

I'm all for maintaining an Episcopal Church presence throughout the U.S., no matter what the dissidents do. But I must ask why anyone would maintain the overhead of a 7-parish diocese in western-central Illinois. With two other viable dioceses in Illinois, why try to maintain a separate diocese for Quincy?

The Diocese of Quincy abuts my Diocese of Missouri. I know several Episcopalians drove from their Illinois homes most Sunday mornings to attend church in the St. Louis area during the Ackerman Regime. I don't know them well enough to guess what they must be thinking.

But I'm thinking about the Episcopal Church in this day. And I have to ask why we would try to fund the overhead to maintain a diocesan office in Quincy, when it seems to me most of those seven parishes could find episcopal oversight from Chicago, Springfield, or Missouri.

Fight in court to argue that the assets of the Episcopal Diocese of Quincy rightfully belong to TEC? You bet! No question about that.

But in this new age, why not consider whether Quincy needs to be a separate diocese? Pittsburgh is considering whether it should reunite with the Diocese of Northwestern Pennsylvania. Some are wondering about the various dioceses in Michigan. To me, it seems like a good time to consider which dioceses are viable and whether the old lines of demarcation make sense. After all, many of the diocesan boundaries were established when bishops had to ride on horseback over dirt lanes. Now that we have cars and interstate highways, do those old diocesan boundary lines make sense? I'm not sure. But I hope someone is asking those questions.

Mind you, I am merely asking the question. I hope some you in the affected dioceses will offer your comments here.

Romanizing the Anglicans

The news was all over the place Tuesday: The Roman Catholic Church has found a way to say “welcome home” to disaffected Anglicans and Episcopalians. The Episcopal Café has a good story, full of helpful links, as does Simon Sarmiento at Thinking Anglicans. Go there. Cardinal William Joseph Levada, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in the Roman Curia [formerly the office of the Inquisition] made the announcement for the Roman Catholic Church.

For a long time, there have been some in our midst who have been livid – first about the 1979 Book of Common Prayer, then about women in holy orders, and more recently about gay men and lesbians in holy orders and the blessing of same-sex relationships. Many of them have talked about or yearned to “swim the Tiber.”

This week, the Roman Catholic Church made it official: a systematic way to welcome Anglicans into Mother Church. Strangely, they will allow Anglican/Episcopal male priests to come into the church with their wives. [Apparently, you can be a married male priest if you’re an Anglican, just not if you’re a Roman. Go figure!] But they will draw the line at married male bishops. And, of course, no girl-cooties and no queers.

As Bishop Christopher Epting observes, this merely “formalizes what has already been happening informally ….” The media are having a feeding frenzy anyway.

I was grateful to find this statement from the Very Reverend Sam Candler, Dean of the Cathedral of St. Phillip, Atlanta. I commend it to you:
I welcome the news of Pope Benedict XVI and the Vatican to make provision for the conversion of certain Anglican Christians to the Roman Catholic Church.

In the past ten years, I have noticed many of my disenchanted Episcopal and Anglican friends drifting toward Roman Catholic structures. They have been arguing for more ecclesiastical order and authority. It has long been my prediction that our current Anglican controversies will be cleared up, finally, with a choice between distinctly Anglican and distinctly Roman ecclesiologies. Much of our current controversy, having been precipitated by sexuality issues (ordination of women and homosexuality), is more accurately about authority, uniformity, and legal order.

The Roman Catholic tradition, certainly a long and esteemed tradition, is very good on these very issues: authority, uniformity, and legal order. The Anglican tradition (in my opinion having begun in the fourth century A.D., and thus almost as old as the Roman tradition) is very good on other matters. In particular, the Anglican tradition of Christianity is very good at allowing local authority and jurisdiction to exist in partnership with wider authority and jurisdiction.

Many disenchanted Anglicans and Episcopalians have actually been arguing in the last ten years for more centralized and universal jurisdiction, when the Anglican tradition of Christianity has always resisted such universal and centralized jurisdiction. Thus, it is gratifying that the best centralized and universal jurisdiction in the world-the Roman Catholic Church-has been able to make provisions to welcome such disenchanted Anglicans.

I note, too, the gracious words in the joint statement of the Archbishop of Winchester and the Archbishop of Canterbury. There is good relationship between these two branches of Christendom, the Roman and the Anglican. Fruitful ecumenical conversations have certainly enabled the Vatican to allow go forward with these provisions, and I salute all those who have beeninvolved.

I believe there is room in the kingdom of God for various ecclesiastical styles, and I pray that God will direct us all to a place where we can more freely preach the gospel and work toward the kingdom of God.

20 October 2009
I think Dean Candler has it exactly right: There has been a minority within the Episcopal Church who have yearned for a rule-based faith firmly ruled by a father figure. Now they have a formal way to enter into it. Godspeed to them.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

True Communion

Thanks to Grandmère Mimi for typing Bishop Charles Jenkins' "Reflections on Communion" essay from ChurchWork (Fall 2009), the official publication of the Episcopal Diocese of Louisiana. You must go to her blog to read the entire essay; it has not been posted on the diocesan ChurchWorks website.

You will remember that Bishop Jenkins is retiring early, reportedly because of the emotional and spiritual toll that Hurricane Katrina (and the huge recovery effort) has taken on him.

He writes passionately and gratefully about the support his diocese received – in tangible and intangible ways – from people throughout the Anglican Communion after the levees broke in New Orleans.

These snippets caught my attention:
When evil stands before me, I stand not alone, but this fractious, schismatic, heretical, wonderful, faithful, sacrificing, Christ-like Communion stands beside me, before me, behind me, and above me. As lonely as the past four years have been, even in dark nights of depression and doubt, I have not been alone.
And this:

Communion is not only about right believing and right acting. When our lives were in the ditch by the Jericho Road, when we had been robbed of life's dignity and much of the material of life, our Samaritan was the Anglican Communion. Rich and poor, orthodox or whatever, conservative and liberal, they came to us. They gave us of what they had and all prayed for us.

This Communion that I have experienced is the Church forced by circumstance to be what I think God has created His Church to be. I warn those who would break down and destroy this tender vessel that they are on the side of the enemy. Whether the iconoclasts be from the left, the right, or from the don't care side of things, let the warning be heard, Communion matters. Communion is not simply a matter of affiliation, or of like-minds; for some of us Communion is life or death. Communion is more than a man-made Covenant between us. We are called by God the Father into a greater Covenant that we dare not break. We are called to be here, together, one, broken, messy and yet strong, faithful, and rejoicing in the Lord.

The issues are many, the disagreements and disappointments many, and the opportunity to each do our own thing (which we suppose to be of God who blesses all our doings) is enticing. Such is not real religion.
I am awed and impressed by this essay. On many issues that are currently garnering headlines in the Episcopal Church, Bishop Jenkins and I would be in opposing corners. But I have been impressed by his faithfulness. And I am pleased to be in communion with him.

His essay also helps me as I think about my diocese’s relationship with the Episcopal Church of Sudan. ECS Archbishop Daniel Deng Bul is certainly no friend of LGBTs; in fact, you could say he is an active, vocal enemy. I have ranted about him plenty of times on this blog. And there are people and parishes in our diocese who want to walk away from our Companion Relationship with Lui, Sudan because of Archbishop Daniel’s words. But, at base, his words do not affect the relationship between my Diocese of Missouri and Sudan’s Diocese of Lui. We know their people. We spend time with them at least twice a year. When the rains are delayed, we worry and pray for their crops. We support their clergy and their school teachers. We send support to their hospital. We learn from them what simple faithfulness and fierce discipleship mean. We pray for each other. We bear one another’s burdens. We remain friends in Christ. No matter what venom Archbishop Daniel spews. Because – thanks to many trips back and forth and time spent together – we know each other and we care for each other.

If Archbishop Rowan Williams continues on his insane course to foist upon the Anglican Communion a juridical covenant that will divide supposed sheep from purported goats, I expect Sudan and the U.S. will wind up in different pastures. I hope and pray the Anglican Communion will not do that. It would be tragic to divide our churches that way.

Much more important are the close personal ties we have between the parishes in Missouri and Lui, which are mirrored among so many parishes and dioceses throughout the Anglican Communion.

True communion is this: People bearing one another's burdens, sharing each other's joys and sorrows and hopes. People sharing the Eucharist together as they visit friends who live thousands of miles apart. Missouri and Lui have it. So do many others. I pray Archbishop Williams and the Anglican Communion will not rip it from our hands and hearts.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Bishop Spong Has Had Enough

Louie Crew shared this essay with the Bishops/Deputies listserv today. I have not yet been able to find an online source for the essay, so I am reprinting it here in full.

Bishop Spong seems to have reached the point that led me to write "Your Education is Not My Problem" way back in 2006. By and large, Christians have seen the fruits of the Spirit in the lives of gay men and lesbians and have realized that the old interpretations of Scripture were wrong -- just as wrong as the interpretations that declared African Americans the "children of Ham," ordained by God to be slaves and servants ... and a boatload of other interpretations such as the belief that the earth must be flat. And those who describe their spiritual lives as "none of the above" have overwhelmingly said that the gay issue isn't even an issue.

Yes, there is a vocal band of Christianists who are still shrieking and screaming that homosexual relationships are an abomination and an assault on The Way God Meant Things to Be. Many of them use that as a rallying cry for fundraising purposes. They're about as relevant as the Flat Earth Society.

I'll acknowledge there is also a small and shrinking group of faithful Christians who are still struggling with this issue. They have held one interpretation of Scripture all their lives, and they are troubled in their souls by this topic. They are willing to engage in thoughtful, respectful dialogue. I am still willing to engage them, and I suspect Bishop Spong would be, too. I think his rant is directed to the StandFirm types, the "Virtue" online types, and those like the troll who has recently become such a fan of this blog.

I thoroughly enjoyed Bishop Spong's manifesto, and I hope you will, too.

A Manifesto! The Time Has Come!
John Shelby Spong

I have made a decision. I will no longer debate the issue of homosexuality in the church with anyone. I will no longer engage the biblical ignorance that emanates from so many right-wing Christians about how the Bible condemns homosexuality, as if that point of view still has any credibility. I will no longer discuss with them or listen to them tell me how homosexuality is "an abomination to God," about how homosexuality is a "chosen lifestyle," or about how through prayer and "spiritual counseling" homosexual persons can be "cured." Those arguments are no longer worthy of my time or energy. I will no longer dignify by listening to the thoughts of those who advocate "reparative therapy," as if homosexual persons are somehow broken and need to be repaired. I will no longer talk to those who believe that the unity of the church can or should be achieved by rejecting the presence of, or at least at the expense of, gay and lesbian people. I will no longer take the time to refute the unlearned and undocumentable claims of certain world religious leaders who call homosexuality "deviant." I will no longer listen to that pious sentimentality that certain Christian leaders continue to employ, which suggests some version of that strange and overtly dishonest phrase that "we love the sinner but hate the sin." That statement is, I have concluded, nothing more than a self-serving lie designed to cover the fact that these people hate homosexual persons and fear homosexuality itself, but somehow know that hatred is incompatible with the Christ they claim to profess, so they adopt this face-saving and absolutely false statement. I will no longer temper my understanding of truth in order to pretend that I have even a tiny smidgen of respect for the appalling negativity that continues to emanate from religious circles where the church has for centuries conveniently perfumed its ongoing prejudices against blacks, Jews, women and homosexual persons with what it assumes is "high-sounding, pious rhetoric." The day for that mentality has quite simply come to an end for me. I will personally neither tolerate it nor listen to it any longer. The world has moved on, leaving these elements of the Christian Church that cannot adjust to new knowledge or a new consciousness lost in a sea of their own irrelevance. They no longer talk to anyone but themselves. I will no longer seek to slow down the witness to inclusiveness by pretending that there is some middle ground between prejudice and oppression. There isn't. Justice postponed is justice denied. That can be a resting place no longer for anyone. An old civil rights song proclaimed that the only choice awaiting those who cannot adjust to a new understanding was to "Roll on over or we'll roll on over you!" Time waits for no one.

I will particularly ignore those members of my own Episcopal Church who seek to break away from this body to form a "new church," claiming that this new and bigoted instrument alone now represents the Anglican Communion. Such a new ecclesiastical body is designed to allow these pathetic human beings, who are so deeply locked into a world that no longer exists, to form a community in which they can continue to hate gay people, distort gay people with their hopeless rhetoric and to be part of a religious fellowship in which they can continue to feel justified in their homophobic prejudices for the rest of their tortured lives. Church unity can never be a virtue that is preserved by allowing injustice, oppression and psychological tyranny to go unchallenged.

In my personal life, I will no longer listen to televised debates conducted by "fair-minded" channels that seek to give "both sides" of this issue "equal time." I am aware that these stations no longer give equal time to the advocates of treating women as if they are the property of men or to the advocates of reinstating either segregation or slavery, despite the fact that when these evil institutions were coming to an end the Bible was still being quoted frequently on each of these subjects. It is time for the media to announce that there are no longer two sides to the issue of full humanity for gay and lesbian people. There is no way that justice for homosexual people can be compromised any longer.

I will no longer act as if the Papal office is to be respected if the present occupant of that office is either not willing or not able to inform and educate himself on public issues on which he dares to speak with embarrassing ineptitude. I will no longer be respectful of the leadership of the Archbishop of Canterbury, who seems to believe that rude behavior, intolerance and even killing prejudice is somehow acceptable, so long as it comes from third-world religious leaders, who more than anything else reveal in themselves the price that colonial oppression has required of the minds and hearts of so many of our world's population. I see no way that ignorance and truth can be placed side by side, nor do I believe that evil is somehow less evil if the Bible is quoted to justify it. I will dismiss as unworthy of any more of my attention the wild, false and uninformed opinions of such would-be religious leaders as Pat Robertson, James Dobson, Jerry Falwell, Jimmy Swaggart, Albert Mohler, and Robert Duncan. My country and my church have both already spent too much time, energy and money trying to accommodate these backward points of view when they are no longer even tolerable.

I make these statements because it is time to move on. The battle is over. The victory has been won. There is no reasonable doubt as to what the final outcome of this struggle will be. Homosexual people will be accepted as equal, full human beings, who have a legitimate claim on every right that both church and society have to offer any of us. Homosexual marriages will become legal, recognized by the state and pronounced holy by the church. "Don't ask, don't tell" will be dismantled as the policy of our armed forces. We will and we must learn that equality of citizenship is not something that should ever be submitted to a referendum. Equality under and before the law is a solemn promise conveyed to all our citizens in the Constitution itself. Can any of us imagine having a public referendum on whether slavery should continue, whether segregation should be dismantled, whether voting privileges should be offered to women? The time has come for politicians to stop hiding behind unjust laws that they themselves helped to enact, and to abandon that convenient shield of demanding a vote on the rights of full citizenship because they do not understand the difference between a constitutional democracy, which this nation has, and a "mobocracy," which this nation rejected when it adopted its constitution. We do not put the civil rights of a minority to the vote of a plebiscite.

I will also no longer act as if I need a majority vote of some ecclesiastical body in order to bless, ordain, recognize and celebrate the lives and gifts of gay and lesbian people in the life of the church. No one should ever again be forced to submit the privilege of citizenship in this nation or membership in the Christian Church to the will of a majority vote.

The battle in both our culture and our church to rid our souls of this dying prejudice is finished. A new consciousness has arisen. A decision has quite clearly been made. Inequality for gay and lesbian people is no longer a debatable issue in either church or state. Therefore, I will from this moment on refuse to dignify the continued public expression of ignorant prejudice by engaging it. I do not tolerate racism or sexism any longer. From this moment on, I will no longer tolerate our culture's various forms of homophobia. I do not care who it is who articulates these attitudes or who tries to make them sound holy with religious jargon.

I have been part of this debate for years, but things do get settled and this issue is now settled for me. I do not debate any longer with members of the "Flat Earth Society" either. I do not debate with people who think we should treat epilepsy by casting demons out of the epileptic person; I do not waste time engaging those medical opinions that suggest that bleeding the patient might release the infection. I do not converse with people who think that Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans as punishment for the sin of being the birthplace of Ellen DeGeneres or that the terrorists hit the United Sates on 9/11 because we tolerated homosexual people, abortions, feminism or the American Civil Liberties Union. I am tired of being embarrassed by so much of my church's participation in causes that are quite unworthy of the Christ I serve or the God whose mystery and wonder I appreciate more each day. Indeed I feel the Christian Church should not only apologize, but do public penance for the way we have treated people of color, women, adherents of other religions and those we designated heretics, as well as gay and lesbian people.

Life moves on. As the poet James Russell Lowell once put it more than a century ago: "New occasions teach new duties, Time makes ancient good uncouth." I am ready now to claim the victory. I will from now on assume it and live into it. I am unwilling to argue about it or to discuss it as if there are two equally valid, competing positions any longer. The day for that mentality has simply gone forever.

This is my manifesto and my creed. I proclaim it today. I invite others to join me in this public declaration. I believe that such a public outpouring will help cleanse both the church and this nation of its own distorting past. It will restore integrity and honor to both church and state. It will signal that a new day has dawned and we are ready not just to embrace it, but also to rejoice in it and to celebrate it.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Ramblings … and Drive-Thru Church

It won’t surprise many of you that I really hate the cold weather in this place where I now live. We’ve had suddenly cold, miserably wet weather for the past couple of weeks. The sun is rising too late and setting too early, and it's going to get even worse very soon. This time of year always makes me yearn to return to the South.

When I got to work today, one of my listservs told me of a job opening in south Florida. I’ll confess, I’m intrigued by it. It’s a university I know, and the position sounds intriguing.

Of course, I quickly did a search for the Episcopal parishes in the area. One of them talked forthrightly about our Episcopal liturgy and our welcome to seekers. It also had a link to this video. I am glad I belong to a mainstream, liturgical church, and not to a church that provides drive-through spirituality.

or watch it on YouTube.

In Marietta, Georgia, the Methodists actually do have a drive-in church. Watch it if you dare. I am horrified.