Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Church of England Edges Into 20th Century

In case you missed the memo, the General Synod of the CofE today uncharacteristically "refused to take note" of the report of their House of Bishops -- and by doing nothing to dismantle the sacramental apartheid relegating the LGBT baptized to second class membership in the Body of Christ they actually nudged the institutional church marginally closer to the 20th century.

May have more to say on this later and may not ... depending on the press of business around here given what a colleague today aptly named as "The Chaos of Now."

But as we've written many times before: achieving audacious goals means celebrating incremental victories. And today was one of those across the pond. From the One Body, One Faith press release:
"Today’s events in the Church of England are unprecedented, with the refusal of the General Synod to take note of the Report of the House of Bishops’ reflection group, GS2055. Both the defeat of the motion by the House of Clergy and the rebellion against it in the House of Laity send an unequivocal message to the house of Bishops that their approach to human sexuality is lamentably out of step with membership of the Church of England and with the nation."
La lucha continua.

Friday, February 03, 2017

A Word From My Bishop-elect

So it's my day off and I'm having that second cup of coffee on the couch enjoying not having an agenda other than getting some laundry done at some point and I come across this great post by our Bishop Coadjutor-elect, John Taylor on his Facebook page. 

I thought it was so great that I asked for -- and received -- permission to share what is not only a brilliant model for how to manage social media interactions in these challenging times but a great glimpse into who it is we've elected as our next bishop here in the Diocese of Los Angeles. And so ... without further ado ... from my friend and bishop-elect John Taylor I give you:

A word about my Facebook page: 

From time to time, I post articles I find interesting or say what’s on my heart and mind. All my posts are public, and I welcome your comments. I ask that you please not say anything you wouldn’t say at my house over a festive spread of snacks and beverages with children present. Please avoid profanity and broad generalizations about people.

For instance, irrespective of your policy position, the following sentences can’t be graciously or even accurately completed with any word or phrase except “beloved of the Most High God” or a word or phrase intrinsically derived from it:

“All undocumented workers are ______,”
“All refugees are ______.”
Try it. It’s fun!

Also, please remember that you are my friend, in conversation with my other friends. That will help you avoid the attack ad hominem – any comment which questions the qualifications, motives, character, or sanity of your conversation partner. Besides being unkind, such comments generally tell the reader that you are having trouble coming up with a substantive argument.

If you ask someone for a response, and they don't reply, it doesn't mean you've won or they're wrong and you get to say so in your next comment. Pretend they just went out for more Diet Coke and beer. Everyone has the right to disengage.

Finally, it’s important to remember, when tempted to make an ad hominem attack, as we all sometimes are, that a criticism of a powerful person whom you like is not a criticism of you.

Vigorous criticism of the powerful is one of the things that makes America great. They can totally take it. Actually, since it’s just my Facebook page, they won’t see it. They don’t care. The only people listening and caring are those you might find sitting around the table over at my house one day, reaching for a chip and inquiring about your family.

I delete offensive comments as soon as I see them. I usually save those I delete and would be happy to tell you my reasons if you ask off-line. Thanks for listening, and blessings in Christ.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Actual Facts As Opposed To Alternative Facts

From my brilliant friend Jason Lyon. Please read, mark, learn, inwardly digest, forward, share and #resist.

For the period 2001-2013, there were an average of 31,269 gun deaths in the US each year.

For the same period, there were an average of 260 deaths by domestic terrorism each year (median: 28 - helpful because the 9/11 deaths skew the mean by almost 10x).

Note that this number accounts for ALL deaths by terrorism, not just those attacks credited to Islamic extremism. Therefore ...

Your odds of dying by gunshot are 1 in 300.
Your odds of dying in a domestic terrorism incident are 1 in 20 MILLION.
You are more than 15 times more likely to die of being struck by lightning than to die in a terrorist attack.

TAKEAWAY: Our government is stoking an irrational fear of a minuscule threat.

More #actualfacts:

-The attackers in Ft. Hood, San Bernardino, and Orlando were AMERICAN BORN and radicalized in the US

-The attackers in Oklahoma City, Charleston, Newtown, UVA, Columbine, and Aurora were all American born and purportedly Christians.

-The 9/11 attackers were from Saudi Arabia (15), UAE (2), Egypt and Lebanon (1 each). Nearly 3,000 people died on 9/11. NONE of these countries is included in the proposed immigration ban.

-Total domestic terrorism deaths caused by people from proposed ban countries Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen: ZERO.

TAKEAWAY: The anti-terrorism proposal does not address the sources of domestic terrorism.

Last #actualfact: The First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America states that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof..."

The US Supreme Court has repeatedly held that preferences for a particular religion violate this Clause.

TAKEAWAY: At least part of the immigration ban proposal is unconstitutional.

#wearethemajority #resist

Thursday, January 26, 2017

New wedding resource based on changes authorized by the 2015 General Convention

“Every parish priest should have this resource, which will help them become familiar with the marriage canon and marriage liturgies authorized in 2015. Tobias Haller offers wise pastoral guidance. Drawing from his years of experience, he explores the many options and recommends sound liturgical and pastoral practices.” — The Revered Dr. Ruth Meyers, Dean of Academic Affairs and Hodges-Haynes Professor of Liturgics, Church Divinity School of the Pacific
This came in my email today.

In the midst of all the challenges of our current reality -- in a time when it seems increasingly difficult to imagine moving forward beyond the deluge of Executive Orders and Breaking Bad News -- it was like a little ray of sunshine reminding me of the Gospel According to Margaret Mead:
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.”
In the midst of the Inclusion Wars struggle I would never have imagined I would get this email in my inbox today. And I did. So miracles happen. Not by themselves. But they happen.

La lucha continua. Onward and upward.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

My "Save the Affordable Care Act" Story

The Affordable Care Act made my wife Louise’s battle with kidney cancer in 2000 a part of her medical history that informed her treatment in 2012 — not a pre-existing condition that prevented her from receiving treatment in 2012.

Because of the ACA (aka “Obamacare”), not only did Louise have options for her fight with cancer, but she had the health insurance she needed to exercise those options. She had phenomenal doctors, nurses, and health-care teams at the Norris Cancer Center and at Keck/USC Hospital who did absolutely everything they could until there was nothing left to do.

And I was left “just” coping with the grief and loss of a beloved spouse -- not the helpless anger of not having been able to give her the best possible health care she needed and deserved.

There's nothing that can't be improved -- including the ACA. But to turn back the clock on healthcare for millions of Americans is both unconscionable and unnecessary. #SaveACA

Friday, January 20, 2017

Inauguration Day 2017

THE LINCOLN BIBLE (A Poem for Inauguration Day)
 by Name Withheld, only wishes to be known as "A Priest in God's Church"
 [shared with permission]

In the molecular space
 between his palm
 and Lincoln's own imprint
 on the worn burgundy
 of Holy Scripture
 there is a wall:
 built of the crumbling dust
 of liberty and equality;
 hardened bricks fashioned
 out of mud and straw
 men, scarecrows
 protecting a barren field;
 mortared by misogyny
 violence, racism,
 and the petty thirst
 for the power
 of a nation's original sins;
 painted in gold leaf,
 and hanging at the center,
 a love letter in Cyrillic
 and the portrait of a man
 named Dorian Gray.

In this whisper of space,
 between leathered skin and red velvet
 is the resistance of the holy
 where hope exists,
 thin and imaginary and growing.
 It is the place where,
 no matter how hard
 his palm presses on the sacred
 for power and glory
 It can never touch
 what is holy
 It can never silence
 the voice of God
 with every

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Hail to the (Outgoing) Chief

It is Inauguration Eve, and I can't let the clock run out without taking just a moment to reflect on a few stand out moments (for me) from these last eight years of the Presidency of Barack Obama.

I think back to his first election November 4, 2008. Standing on the stage at the theater where we'd gathered for the Prop 8 results and watching him make his victory speech from Chicago ... while we watched the returns coming in that would (temporarily) take away the Constitutional right of same-sex couples to marry in California. And I remember what a moment it was when we heard our president-elect say these words:

It's the answer spoken by young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, black, white, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, gay and straight, disabled and not disabled. Americans who sent a message to the world that we have never been just a collection of individuals or a collection of red states and blue states. We are, and always will be, the United States of America.

It was 2008 -- and we were coming out of an era where the President of the United States supported the FMA (Federal Marriage Amendment) that would have enshrined discrimination against LGBT families into the Constitution. And we stood there and heard the words "gay and straight" come out of the President-elect's mouth. Stunning.

Yes, we can.

After his second election in November 2012 I was blessed to have great friends -- Julena and Leon -- who helped make it possible to go to the second Obama Inauguration. We got tickets through our Representatives' offices (still owe you one, Adam Schiff!) and with thousands of others made our way to Washington for January 21, 2013.

It was an extraordinary privilege to actually BE there after all those years of watching it on television. And then ... to hear him say these words in his Inaugural Address:

"We, the people, declare today that the most evident of truths –- that all of us are created equal –- is the star that guides us still; just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls, and Selma, and Stonewall; just as it guided all those men and women, sung and unsung, who left footprints along this great Mall, to hear a preacher say that we cannot walk alone; to hear a King proclaim that our individual freedom is inextricably bound to the freedom of every soul on Earth." 

Never thought I'd live long enough to hear those words come out of a President's mouth. A simply transcendent moment of hope, joy, and empowerment.

Yes, we can.

And then there was May 9, 2013 -- I remember getting a text from my friend Bishop Gene Robinson. "I don't know where you are or what you're doing but listen to the news. Your President is about to do something good and you're not going to want to miss it."

I was actually finishing up our spring clergy conference in Long Beach and had checked out of my hotel room ... so I sat in the hotel lobby and read the breaking news on my laptop: that in his interview with Robin Williams he said “At a certain point, I’ve just concluded that for me personally it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same-sex couples should be able to get married,”

Yes, we can.
And yes we did. June 28, 2014

And then there was July 21, 2014 -- the day President Obama signed the Executive Order ending federal employment discrimination against LGBT Americans.

I got the invitation to attend the signing in the East Room on Friday ... and in spite of my initial "there is no way this is going to happen" reaction, by Sunday I was on a plane to DC and on Monday I was in the actual East Room of the actual White House watching the actual President of the United States sign the actual Executive Order. And ... wait for it ... I got to get my picture taken with one of the actual First Dogs: Sunny.

It's Inauguration Eve. Tomorrow I will suit up, show up and report for duty as member of Team Sacred Resistance. But tonight? Tonight I want to look at old pictures and remember highlights of the last eight years and give thanks for the extraordinary gift of being alive to experience the gift of this President.

Thank you, Mr. President. Godspeed and God Bless.