Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Kill the Queer Christians?

A new Episcopalian looks at the current events in the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion, and asks the piquant question: "Why is it bad to make gays bishops, but okay to kill them?" In my mind, the author totally nails the hypocrisy of the Anglican Communion in general and the Archbishop of Canterbury in particular. Like many other reasonable people, the author wonders why the Archbishop of Canterbury took a few hours to condemn our election of an honest lesbian candidate for bishop, but -- after weeks -- still can't speak one word against legislation designed to create homophobic genocide in Uganda.

The author writes:

A lot of nice Episcopalians are wondering why it's worse to elect gays as bishops than target them for genocide. Even those that find gays embarrassing don't usually want to kill them, or report them to the police. Some of us know most of the politics behind all this, but are still incredulous. There's a fine line between diplomacy and hypocrisy; the Archbishop of Canterbury has crossed it, holding hand high as he dashes over the finish line.

Click here to read the whole essay. No wonder the Archbishop of Canterbury isn't considered a moral leader for our world in our time.

Deep thanks to Ann for finding this essay. Read it!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Ethos of MidMO

I often long for the years when I lived in midtown Atlanta. I was there from 1982 to 1996. There are so many things I miss about that urban setting. The diversity of people. My many, dear friends. The progressive attitudes. (John Lewis was my U.S. Rep.) The marvelous variety of restaurants. And did I mention the marvelous diversity of people and their progressive attitudes?

Now I am in central Missouri. And thanks to Grandmère Mimi, I now know that Missourians rank 38th on the “happiness scale” of the 50 states. That’s true for me. There are at least 37 other places in which I would rather reside. But, alas, my very good, satisfying, and rewarding job keeps me in this miserable place.

Here's a case in point.

On November 1, our little town instituted mandatory trash removal and curbside recycling. I was delighted! Finally, I had a bin in which I could put my recycling and wheel it out to the curb … while before I had to collect and sort it, then drive it to a recycling center periodically. Now, we all have two blue trash bins – one for trash and one for recycling. … Mind you, Atlanta did this back in the early ‘90s. My little mid-Missouri town is just now getting around to it.
I am absolutely astonished by the number of people in my town who are outraged that the city is foisting this “Communist Plot” – this Vast Left-Wing Conspiracy upon them. The local newspaper is full of the fulminations. Sheesh!
They are livid that they should be asked to separate their trash from their recyclables.
They are livid that they have to pay $2 more per month for curbside recycling.
Now a group has formed to try to reverse this reasonable move.
These people are Neanderthals. There’s no other way to put it. What a bunch of idiots.

This week, I was chatting with a friend who viewed these things as I do. We suddenly hit upon a solution: The city should have issued bins in “camo” décor. Given the number of hunters and rednecks around here, we bet they would have embraced this new system as God’s Own Will … if only the city had issued trash and recycling bins in “deer-hunting camouflage décor.”

Mind you, not everyone in this town is an idiot or genetic throwback. There are many good people. [How come most of them are Episcopalians? ] But, by and large, I am living in the shallow end of the gene pool.

Wouldn’t you know? Just as I was pondering the benighted, backward, camo-worshipping ethos of my current home, a friend send me a photo of his cousin’s Christmas decoration.

This says it all. This is not Photo-Chopped. This is an actual photo a friend sent to me of his cousin’s “Chrismas” decoration.

That pretty much says it all, I think.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Bleak Midwinter?

Today I received the parish Advent/Christmas letter, with a fine meditation from our rector.

She reminds us of Christina Rossetti’s words that shape one of our favorite songs:

In the bleak midwinter, frosty wind made moan,
earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone;
snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow,
in the bleak midwinter, long ago.

She then proceeds to share a Ugandan prayer she found, inspired by Rossetti’s words:

In the bleak midsummer, dusty winds made moan,
earth stood hard as iron, water dirty brown;
dust was blowing, dust on dust, dust on dust,
in the bleak midsummer, not so long ago.

Our rector is from below the equator, so I appreciate the other prayer she offered. And doubly so, because my mind is always halfway below the equator, with our friends in the Diocese of Lui. When they celebrate Christmas, the weather will be as it is virtually every day: temperature well above 90 degrees and days lasting 12 hours.

Shariya+ continued: ”That prayer served for me as a potent reminder that the task of preparing for the Nativity, and the yearning entailed in such an enterprise, is a global endeavor. Throughout our broken and wounded world, despite anguish and sorrow, in defiance of incredible impediments and obstacles, in the midst of a variety of circumstances and contexts, hearts are readying for the birth of joy.”

For several decades, it has seemed weird to me that we should sing “In the bleak midwinter,” since Jesus was born in a country that surely doesn’t experience bleak midwinter in December. As if we Northern Hemisphere people had the right to define the story!

Still, the hymn moves me. Enjoy it here with the Gloucester Cathedral Choir.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Advent Message from Rowan?

You must – absolutely must! – go to Bill Carroll's blog and read An Advent Message from the Archbishop of Canterbury.

I loves me that Bill Carroll.

H/t to Louie Crew via the HoBD list.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Williams on Ugandan Legislation

Archbishop Rowan Williams Finally Expresses a Bit of a Quavering, Timid, God-Forbid-I-Should-Be-Charged-with-Colonialism Misgivings about the Ugandan “Anti-Homosexuality” Law

Q: What could possibly be worse than the Archbishop of Canterbury remaining silent on the proposed "anti-homosexuality" legislation in Uganda?
A: His expression of quasi-support for the damnable legislation.

The Archbishop of Canterbury has managed to achieve the worst possible statement now.

Thank God for the Episcopal Church I love ... and the Episcopal Diocese of Missouri which I treasure. If I were judging Christianity in general and the Anglican Communion in particular based on the "courage" and "leadership" of Rowan Williams, I'd choose atheism over Anglicanism.

Episcopal Life Online reports:

In a Dec. 12 interview with a London newspaper, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams said legislation pending in the Ugandan Parliament that would introduce the death penalty for people who violate portions of that country's anti-homosexuality laws "is of shocking severity."

These were the first public comments Williams has made about the proposed changes to Uganda's existing laws against homosexuality. The bill being advanced by a member of parliament has drawn opposition from leaders and advocates in the Episcopal Church and elsewhere.

The news story goes on. Read it. I’m grateful that Episcopal Life ran the story.

It’s high time that the Purportedly-Intellectual-and-Spiritual Bearded One has finally found a moment in which he could align his vertebrae so he could express some “misgivings” about this hideous legislation from Uganda. Of course, it’s embarrassing that the purported “leader” of the Anglican Communion took a lot longer than His Odium, Pope Benedict XVI, to reach this obvious conclusion.

Alas and alack … What is one to do when Benedict XVI is a downright progressive compared to the Archbishop of Canterbury??

Mind you, Archbishop Rowan Williams does not oppose the hideous legislation. He merely thinks the death penalty is “of shocking severity.”

Gosh! Ya think????

Let’s cut to the chase: His supposed friend Jeffrey Johns would be sentenced to death in Uganda. Death! So would the gay/lesbian priests Rowan has knowingly ordained and the closeted gay bishops he has knowingly consecrated. And Rowan simply thinks the law might, MIGHT! be “of shocking severity.” Well … I think Rowan Williams might be a victim of shocking cowardice and (as they say in the Ozarks) pure chicken-shittedness. In a word, he is an embarrassment.

Here’s the “letter to the editor” that I sent to Episcopal Life in response to
their story about the Grand Tufti's quavering misgivings about the proposed Ugandan legislation:


Dear Editor:

Thank you for sharing the news that Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, has finally managed to express some qualified misgivings about the anti-homosexuality law currently under consideration in Uganda. He took a mere 12 hours to decry the election of a lesbian as bishop suffragan in Los Angeles, but apparently required weeks and weeks to decide that perhaps there’s a problem with imposing the death penalty on homosexuals in Uganda.

You wrote: "Opponents fear that people, including family members and clergy, who support and advise homosexual people could be prosecuted and punished under the proposed law." I think you are dancing much too carefully on this point. This is not simply a matter of what some opponents fear. The legislation is clear: If anyone in Uganda knows a person has had homosexual relations and fails to report it to the Ugandan government, that person would be liable to imprisonment. This would include priests to whom a person made a confession; the draconian Ugandan law allows no exception. Secular and religious people throughout the world – with the exception of the Archbishop of Canterbury (until now) – have opposed this part of the legislation.

As currently written, the Ugandan law would impose its penalties even on Ugandans who "commit the sin of homosexuality" in Antarctica or in the U.S. or anywhere else on this planet. Under the proposed law, the Ugandan government would have the right to extradite that person and imprison or kill him/her. The current Archbishop of York, Ugandan by birth, was able to gain asylum in England. No such asylum would be allowed to Ugandan-born homosexuals, if the Ugandan law is passed.

You wrote: "He [Archbishop Williams] also noted that while the Anglican Church in Uganda opposes the death penalty its archbishop, Henry Orombi, has not taken a position on the proposed changes to the law."
Would you please direct me to the official statement from the Anglican Church in Uganda, in which it has stated its opposition to the death penalty proposed under this law? I may have missed it, but – in my weeks of monitoring this legislation – I have seen no statement in which the Anglican Church of Uganda has taken any official statement/position against this legislation. In fact, several of the Anglican priests and bishops in Uganda have been at the forefront advocating for the passage of this legislation. So I hope you will correct me and direct me to some official statement in which the Anglican Church in Uganda has breathed a word of opposition to – or even doubt about – this legislation.

As you are surely aware, Roman Catholic Pope Benedict XVI – certainly no friend of "homosexuality" – decried the hideous Ugandan legislation several days ago. The U.S. Department of State decried it months ago, as have myriad human rights organizations throughout the world. I am pleased that Archbishop Williams has finally tumbled to the conclusion that has been so abundantly clear to secular and religious leaders throughout the world for weeks and months. Better late than never, I suppose, that we are finally hearing from the supposed “leader” of the Anglican Communion.


I know that many of you have been much more outspoken and effective than I on this topic. This is my meager offering.

Frankly, I think Archbishop Williams' timid, chicken-shit misgivings about the Ugandan legislation have me even more angry than the inept, quavering silence he had maintained until now.

Has the Archbishop of Canterbury utterly lost the courage and voice that that marvelous bishop in Wales, Rowan Williams, once had?? I desperately miss that brave Welsh guy.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Deep Thought du Jour

Why is it that – no matter what care I take with the laundry – underwear always comes out of the dryer wrong-side-out?

This peeveth me greatly.

Philosophical explanations and pastoral counsel welcome.

P.S. For those who may have missed it this summer, I offer again – and commend to your use – the "Liturgy of the Laundry" crafted by our friend Kirkepiscatoid. It's here. I especially appreciate this litany:

We have not paid attention to how many pairs of underwear we have left. We have not realized that the one pair of jeans we love the most lies dirty. We have run out of white socks.
Have mercy on us, Lord.
We have been deaf to your call to buy laundry detergent, and our manifold sins in this issue are intolerable to us.
Have mercy on us, Lord.
We confess to you, Lord, all our past unfaithfulness: the lack of attention to "delicate cycle" and "regular cycle",
We confess to you, Lord.
Our self-indulgent appetites and ways, and our exploitation of wearing certain items of clothing after picking them out of the dirty clothes basket,
We confess to you, Lord.
Our anger at our own frustration, and our envy of those who get their laundry done in a timely manner,
We confess to you, Lord.
Our intemperate love of worldly goods and comforts, and our dishonesty in mixing "colors" and "whites",
We confess to you, Lord.
Our negligence in cleaning out the lint filter in the dryer, and our failure to commend the faith that is in us,
We confess to you, Lord.
Accept our repentance, Lord, for the wrongs we have done: for our blindness to our bulging dirty clothes basket, and our indifference to what remains that we can wear to work and not look like a fool,
Accept our repentance, Lord.
For all false judgments, for uncharitable thoughts toward our neighbors who actually IRON their clothes, and for our prejudice and contempt toward those who never seem to "run out" of any item of clothing,
Accept our repentance, Lord.
For our waste and pollution of your creation, and our lack of concern for using "earth-friendly laundry products",
Accept our repentance, Lord.
Restore us, good Lord, and let your anger depart from us;
Favorably hear us, for your mercy is great.
Accomplish in us the work of our laundry,
That we may show forth your glory in the world.
By the cross and passion of your Son our Lord,
Bring us with all your saints to the joy of his resurrection, white as snow, like bleached socks and underwear.

To which I can only add: Thanks be to God for Maria!

Monday, December 07, 2009

Can the Diocese of SC Vote on Glasspool?

Recent, fervent comments from Kendall Harmon and Mike Malone make me wonder: Can the bishop and Standing Committee of the Diocese of South Carolina vote on consent to Bishop-Elect Glasspool and still remain within their canons?

You will recall that the Diocese of South Carolina voted on this resolution – offered by its Standing Committee and Deans – back in October:

Resolution #2
Subject: Second Guiding Principle for Engagement
“Godly Boundaries”
Offered by: The Standing Committee and Deans
Whereas the governing bodies of The Episcopal Church have failed to operate within the boundaries of its canons and continued participation in such behavior would make the Diocese of South Carolina complicit in this dysfunction, be it
Resolved that this Diocese authorize the Bishop and Standing Committee to begin withdrawing from all bodies of the Episcopal Church that have assented to actions contrary to Holy Scripture, the doctrine, discipline and worship of Christ as this church has received them, the resolutions of the Lambeth Conference which have expressed the mind of the Communion, the Book of Common Prayer and our Constitution and Canons, until such bodies show a willingness to repent of such actions; and be it
Further resolved that the Diocese of South Carolina declares that the most recent example of this behavior, in the passage of Resolutions DO25 and CO56, to be null and void, having no effect in this Diocese, and in violation of our diocesan canon (XXXVI sec.1).

I have searched all over that diocese’s site, and I cannot find a final, passed version of that resolution. But I seem to recall they passed it. Correct me if I’m wrong.

If they indeed passed this resolution, withdrawing from all bodies of TEC, how can they vote on any action of the Episcopal Church, including the election of Bishop-Elect Glasspool?

Addendum, 12/09/09:
I'm sorry my short note was confusing to some of our right-leaning friends. Nor did I realize that Kendall Harmon would send over1,000 people over to my humble blog today. So let me clarify.

I am well acquainted with the Constitution and Canons of our Church. I know that the Diocese of South Carolina can register its opposition by refusing to vote. I know that "no vote" constitutes a "no" vote.

And I'm aware of the silly resolution that South Carolina passed, in its effort to distance itself from the lepers in the Episcopal Church.

When I asked, "Can the Diocese of SC Vote on Glasspool?," I meant to ask whether the folks in South Carolina would have the courage to abide by the resolution they passed. I wonder whether they will have the courage to refuse to vote and take counsel in our church. They passed a resolution pledging themselves to withdraw from all the "heretical" counsels of the Episcopal Church. Of course, they will see this and all other episcopal elections as "tainted" by TEC's "heresy." I am well aware that their abstaining from the Glasspool election would count as a "no" vote. Any idiot knows that. Duh!

What I want to know is: Will the Diocese of South Carolina be able to contain its homophobia enough to decline a vote on Glasspool? Will that diocese have enough integrity to abstain on this vote?

Later, it will become interesting to see whether SC has enough integrity to forbear on future votes on which it might want to speak. Then we shall see whether SC has real integrity or an Alice-in-Wonderland view of the world.

Bottom line: If SC meant what it passed, they will "withdraw themselves" from a vote on Bishop-Elect Glasspool. If they vote on this one, they will prove themselves liars and homophobes. In other votes, they may reveal more of themselves. In passing their silly resolution, the Diocese of South Carolina opened themselves to a special sort of scrutiny. I look forward to observing their actions.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

For Whom Can the Presiding Bishop Speak?

I was generally pleased with the Presiding Bishop's statement on the proposed legislation in Uganda that would extend the anti-homosexuality laws to include capital punishment for some homosexuals and prison terms for those who advocate human rights for LGBTs. I am glad she spoke out against this law that has been roundly condemned by all human rights advocates on the left and many on the “right.”

But this troubles me a bit: Now I read (from Episcopal News Service) that “The release of Jefferts Schori's statement was followed shortly by an announcement that a request for a Dec. 7 teleconference meeting of the church's Executive Council had been ‘withdrawn’ by the members who signed a petition in mid-November asking for a meeting ‘regarding the urgent human rights situation in Uganda.’”

Our elected members of the Executive Council are withdrawing their petition, so they won't meet and won't issue a statement on behalf of our church.

When I read the Presiding Bishop's statement, I was jarred by her use of "we think" and "we believe" and "we regret." Maybe I flunked Episcopal Catechism 101, but I didn't realize we had a Primate who was authorized to speak unilaterally of behalf of our whole church. I thought only the Roman Catholics had that. I thought we had General Convention and Executive Council to speak on behalf of all of us. I seem to recall Mark Harris wrote powerfully on just this point fairly recently.

Today, Mark seems happy that our Presiding Bishop spoke unilaterally on this matter. In fact, he tags his essay: “The Episcopal Church speaks on the question of the Uganda anti-gay bill.” But The Episcopal Church has not spoken. Our Executive Council has not spoken. Only Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has spoken. Or so it seems to me.

Thanks be to God, our Presiding Bishop has spoken words that I appreciate. But she does not have the weight of the Episcopal Church behind her. She spoke in her own, solitary voice. Her voice is certainly louder than mine, probably louder than that of the Executive Council, and it will be carried by more news media. But, in fact, her voice represents only one vote, as does mine. When our Presiding Bishop speaks in her voice, she speaks in only one voice – not with the full voice of our whole church, and she lacks the backing of our whole church as the Executive Council might have expressed it.

I rejoice that she has spoken these words against the Ugandan legislation. But I regret that she has therein silenced the voice of our Executive Council – the true “voice” that could actually speak on behalf of our whole church. Only the Executive Council can speak on behalf of all the laypeople, priests, deacons, and bishops of our church. Apparently, they have fallen down in front of our Presiding Bishop, now that she has issued her personal statement. In that, I believe they have failed in their duty as our representative voices. I regret that they are so easily cowed.

So I'll take a minority view which will probably be unpopular: I am glad to see KJS's comment. But I do not believe she has the authority to speak unilaterally for all of us, and I don't believe she's entitled to speak in the "we" voice she appropriated; only our General Convention or Executive Council have the right to speak on behalf of our church.

Thus, I am very disappointed to hear that the Executive Council members have cancelled their teleconference Monday. It seems to me that our Presiding Bishop can only speak for herself. Only the Executive Council can speak for all of us. Apparently, they have cancelled their Monday meeting, choosing to believe that our Presiding Bishop’s statement is good enough.

It is indeed good.

But it is not good enough.

Our Presiding Bishop is not an Archbishop. I don’t believe our Constitution and Canons allow her to speak on behalf of The Episcopal Church.

So why is our Executive Council canceling their meeting??

That's my paltry -- and probably minority -- view. I stand willing to be corrected. What am I missing here?

Addendum (12/5/09): I strongly encourage you to visit Father Jake's blog, where he has some good analysis, then good dialogue with some members of our Executive Council. What appears at his blog tracks some conversations I've had with Executive Council members. I am now content.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Advent of the Grinch

A Story in Three Acts

Scene 1: On Thursday morning, Thanksgiving Day, I was listening to my local NPR affiliate. They air the odious "Marketplace" program the last 10 minutes of each hour. Marketplace had some story/report, in which they characterized Thanksgiving Day as "the official start of the holiday season." Obviously, those people have no sense of what “holidays” and “holy days” are about.

Scene 2: On Friday, November 27, I went to a local grocery store. As I came out, the Salvation Army bell ringer greeted me with a cheery, "Merry Christmas!" I nearly froze in my steps. I wanted to turn on him with a snarl and counter, "It's not even Advent yet, asshole -- much less Christmas!" I didn't, of course. Most Americans don't even know what Advent is. They don't have a clue about the liturgical seasons. So I let it pass. But I deeply resent the American rush into the commercial Christmas.

Scene 3: Sunday morning, as I was getting ready for church, I heard the radio report that people in the U.S. had spent $10.2 billion -- 10.2 billion dollars -- on "Black Friday." Where did that $10.2 billion go? I can't help but think how much food, how many mosquito nets, how many vaccinations it could have purchased.

If you've been reading my blog over the years, you will recognize that I enter something like this funk every year. I respect and long for the peace that Advent affords us, as a contrast to the American Frenzy of Good Cheer between Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. Yet again, I have entered that season where I commute between Grinchville and the Longing for Peace.

In our parish newsletter, just received this week, our rector offered a marvelous message. Here are some pullouts from her message:

Perhaps we may treat Advent as a season when time is relished as a gift from God -- a gift to be savored and appreciated, rather than one to be squandered or hurtled through in frenzy.
Preparing for birth is a deliberate exercise -- it calls for intention, and dedication of time and effort. It calls for a focus which can only be cultivated when one is rested and refreshed. My hope for each of you this Advent is that you will slow down in order to engage in holy anticipation.
Obviously, slowing down for holy anticipation will be a seriously counter-cultural exercise!

I also suspect my response has to do with the fact that our diocesan missioners are currently in Lui – and that half my heart and spirit are with them. They are blogging here and here. The people of Lui are never more than a heartbeat away from my mind and my recollection of the time I spent there. It makes me humble about our experience in the U.S.