Storycorps: “Oh Mama, I Knew You’d Come”

Ruth Coker Burks was a young mother in her 20s when the AIDS epidemic hit her home state of Arkansas in the early 1980s. She took it upon herself to care for AIDS patients who were abandoned by their families, and even by medical professionals, who feared the disease.

Coker Burks, now 55, has no medical training, but she estimates that she has cared for nearly 1,000 people over the past three decades, including her friend Paul Wineland’s partner.

She became involved after visiting a friend at a Little Rock hospital where one of the state’s early AIDS patients was dying. “The nurses were drawing straws to see who would go in and check on him,” Coker Burks tells Wineland at StoryCorps in Hot Springs, Ark.

“And so I snuck into his room. And he wanted his mama. And so I marched myself out to the nurses’ station and I said, ‘Can we call his mother?’ And they go, ‘Honey, his mama’s not coming. He’s been here six weeks. Nobody’s coming.’

“And so I went back in and he looked up at me and he said, ‘Oh, Mama, I knew you’d come.’ I stayed with him for 13 hours while he took his last breath. I called his mother and I told her that he had died and she said, ‘I’m not burying him.’ So I had him cremated and I brought him home.”

Caring For AIDS Patients, 'When No One Else Would' : NPR.

Earlier today, this Storycorps installment made me burst into sobs. I was reminded of some Seattle friends who died of AIDS; I knew a few people whose family had abandoned them to their fate and left them to rely on the kindness of strangers. I know people who volunteered at AIDS hospices years ago in the Chicago area, too. They had also sat with the dying, because the families would not be there for them, in all senses.

The sobs came when Coker Burks said “Oh Mama, I knew you’d come.”

I was overcome with grief for an unknown mother’s son, and had to log out of my work phone line for a few seconds so I wouldn’t be caught crying on the line if a call came in.

I sobbed for the son who wanted his mama, and for the mama who would not come, and for the kind woman who stood in for so many mothers and fathers who would not, or could not, be there for their sons and daughters, dying of AIDS.

Those were dark days, but thank God for Ruth Coker Burks. It reallly did get better because of people like her.

Equality Matters: Going Undercover At NOM’s Anti-Gay Student Conference Gives A Fascinating Glimpse Behind NOM’s Moderate Facade

When Carlos Maza, a gay activist who monitors the National Organization for Marriage, the “moderate” anti-gay marriage group (let’s face it, the ANTI-GAY HATE GROUP) went undercover to attend one of their weekend training sessions, he found himself connecting with another attendee in a surprising way.

Read the whole thing, it’s like a spy novel except with Leviticus-spouting Religious Right leaders trying to “turn” a roomful of impressionable college students, instead of Communist moles posing as tweed jacketed leather-patched college professors.

Yeah, it’s that complicated.

Also, take note of some interesting details:

  • Many of the college attendees were from either BYU or Arizona State
  • Most of the leaders were from the evangelical/fundamentalist/Biblical literalist end of the Protestant spectrum
  • These groups are normally suspicious of each other but they worked together to pass CA’s anti-gay (marriage)Prop 8
  • It’s not necessarily a good thing that the Catholic Archbishop of San Francisco helped to ram Prop 8 down gays’ throats.
  • Retiring Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson was involved in some kind of dialogue, curious about the reaction to him.
  • Someone who works for the Institute of Religion and Democracy was also there. They hate Bp. Gene.

Carlos attended the “It Takes A Family (To Raise A Village)” conference at the end of July, well before the Archbishop-Elect of San Francisco was arrested for drunk driving in San Diego, the same city where the conference was held. His election as Archbishop was announced with great joy and a little loathsomeness by one of the organizers while Carlos and other attendees were being bused to an event. Ugh.

In the empty lobby of a small hotel in San Diego, a conservative Mormon from Utah and a progressive gay activist from DC saw eye-to-eye on the overwhelming majority of “pro-family” and “pro-marriage” issues.

It was the kind of unholy alliance I never expected to form at an anti-gay conference.

Flying home the next morning, I thought about how small our differences had been all along. I’d spent the weekend thinking of myself as some kind of spy working behind “enemy lines,” assuming the worst about every person I met. I was terrified that I’d be discovered by the other attendees and felt certain that they’d turn on me the second they discovered who I was.

In reality, though, the “enemy lines” were a bit blurrier than I had imagined them to be. Most of the students who attended NOM’s ITAF conference weren’t anti-gay zealots; they’d decided to show up after hearing about the event from their professors, their churches, or their parents. Many of them, like the BYU student, were genuinely interested in preventing divorce and ensuring that married couples maintain healthy and lasting relationships. Few of them had ever even heard of the Ruth Institute before attending.

It seemed silly that I had spent all weekend feeling so embattled.

Then I remembered the Regnerus study – how NOM’s speakers had spent the weekend trying to depict gay parents as predatory towards their own children.

I remembered Gagnon’s speeches and NOM’s use of Christianity as a weapon to condemn LGBT people as unrepentant sinners.

And I remembered Leviticus.

The ideological divide between me and the BYU student may have been small, but NOM had spent the entire weekend trying to widen it by teaching her that gays and lesbians – including me – are unstable, dangerous, and unworthy of raising their own families. Despite the promise to focus on “marriage, not gayness,” ITAF had been a veritable crash course in demonizing LGBT people.

via EXCLUSIVE: Undercover At NOM’s Anti-Gay Student Conference | Equality Matters

Reactions are a little… mixed. I found this glowing account from St Paul’s Cathedral Blog (Episcopal Diocese of San Diego):

A fair amount of humor peppered the otherwise tense conversation. It was interesting to sit in the huge, warehouse-like sanctuary with my partner, Kathy, and to know that we were sitting right next to people who were opposed to gay marriage. Not a comfortable experience, but a good one, because it means that we can all be in one room together and discuss this hot topic without coming to blows.

Kudos to Skyline. Huge love and thanks to Bishop Robinson. My favorite picture is to the right! — Fearless Love:; Report From Skyline Church

But alas, tolerance is lacking in this official wrap-up (with slideshow) from the Ruth Institute blog:

Generally, the biblical voice is silenced or the event becomes so infused with allegations of “hate” that the arguments are no longer really heard. Sunday night was so different. Everything was heard and you could hear a pin drop. All the intelligence was on the biblical side; all the sentimentalism was on the gay side. Neither Rob nor Jennifer ever backed down… they made their points with great civility and lucidity. — A Conversation on the Definition of Marriage

Ah, ergh. I can only hope that the young people who had attended that weekend’s conferene were insufficiently indoctrinated to see it that way. The detail about praying over the facility to protect it from forces of conflict (which was somehow meant to keep the evil gay cooties at bay?) was kind of… weird and too much like “praying the gay away” to my mind.

I can’t really post this on the church blog; it’s too distracting and upsetting and political. And creepy! But I wanted to react to it, so here it is. UGH. To the National Organization for Marriage, and their education arm the Ruth Institute, that’s my reaction: UGH.

Your positions are not Christ-like, and you twist His words and say things He never said to support your position.

Here is everything Jesus Christ, the Son of God, said about homosexuality as it was understood in His time:


In my admittedly lacking Biblical knowledge, I do believe that Jesus said that the whole of the Law came down to just two things: love of God, and love of one’s neighbor. Well, one thing really: LOVE.

So that probably means that all that stuff in Leviticus about shellfish, mixing linen and wool, and killing gay people for LOVING EACH OTHER no longer applies. Because: LOVE.

And one last thing: This post is dedicated to the memory of John Thurman, who passed away after suffering a fall this week. His spouse Dave Fleer now must go on alone.

John never really recovered from a head injury received several years ago. He was badly beaten and left for dead in front of his home, in what was likely a hate crime. The assault was never solved, or even investigated to any degree by local police in Munster, Indiana.

That is the consequence of the HATE preached with sweet-sounding words behind closed doors by anti-gay groups like the “National Organization of Marriage.” Behind those doors, they admit that opposing marriage for gays polls a little better than opposing life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for gays. They pass out handouts to young people emphasizing that gays should be killed, and “their blood shall be upon them.” As in, “you get a free pass for killing the gay neighbor, because it’s not really murder, God says it’s OK”

Like I said, UGH. Thanks to Carlos Maza’s courageous (and initially mischievous) undercover work, the cover is pulled back on NOM to reveal them as something unwholesome, and definitely not following the two greatest commandments.

Potential images for my banner from Hawaii trip, and Father Manny’s Purple Poncho

Ho, well, I never post anymore, blah de blah. We had a wonderful time in Hawaii, pictures are all still on my laptop and need to be culled and copied to my desktop machine. However, I found a few on the card that was in my camera this morning when I took a picture of Father Manny in his purple Lenten poncho (okay, church purists, it’s a chausuble).

Here’s one of his photo-op pictures, which will shortly be uploaded to the St Nicholas Facebook page and used on the website for the rest of Lent.

I enjoy “Faddah” Manny’s sermons so much; he’s open, friendly and approachable, pretty much as he is in this picture. Today’s sermon started out as a commentary on that famous reading from John that includes “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoso believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

OOH! Here’s the St Paul’s Cathedral Choir singing John Stainer’s “God So Loved The World,” a piece we sang at St Nick’s last year during Holy Week. I love singing this piece – and we’re only about 8-10 voices WITH the extra people who ring in for the big services. St Paul’s is a traditional Anglican choir with boy altos and sopranos. I particularly love the twitchy boy in the final closeup – he’s next to the kid that the camera zooms in on.

We sound a bit more like this choir:

Anyway, after that musical interlude, more photography and churchy stuff, and finally, a soaring bit of Hawaii.

The background was chosen because there was too much backlight when he was at the altar, coming from the windows behind him. He had someplace to be so I quickly directed him over by the font, which is “dressed” for Lent. Note the empty font pool behind him, and the arrangement of leafless branches; the symbolism is stark, but the potential for life and renewal is there in the coming of Spring and the water of Life. The folks responsible for decorating the church for the liturgical seasons have really been creative this year; they’ve been given free rein and the result has been interesting, engaging, and tasteful while also being innovative and working with a minuscule budget. I can’t wait to see what they do on Holy Saturday for the Great Vigil; the sanctuary will be full of light and spring flowers, I know that.

Today was nice as we had another new person attending with her young son, and last week’s new person was there with her daughter too. The kid’s program is really unfolding in a neat way -today was another of the “Children’s Gospel” Sundays, where the kids go to the Noah’s Ark area (a comfortable lounge with couches off the main gathering space) and conduct their own service and read the Gospel, then talk about it. They get invited forward before the first reading, and are then sent off to do their thing (supervised and guided, of course, but it’s their activity). They return to their families just before the Eucharist (communion) and we seem to have it working well. Other Sundays, they either are with their families, or they actually help conduct the main service; the committee that designed the program figures it’s easier for families to schedule things for specific Sundays due to the sports and extracurricular activities they’re signed up for other weeks.

In other churchy news that’s also funny, we’ve somehow put our hands (paws?) on an Easter Bunny costume, which belongs to St Bede’s Bensenville. They’re merging with us at St Nicholas in May, so there’s been some sharing back and forth (I need to try to take some photos next week to send over there of us as a “get to know you” thing). They are bringing some treasures with them – among them some stunningly beautiful Stations of the Cross, which have already been installed along our back wall and will be used (I think at the Good Friday service). But they also offered the bunneh suit, and Faddah Manny was game for running out the back at the end of the Easter Sunday service, de-ponchoing (he’ll be wearing the cream/gold festive chausuble that day) and hopping (heh) into the bunny suit. Well, that’s clearly not workable, so we’ll find someone else to be the bunneh. In fact, we need a Bunneh Stig.

We somehow need to meld this:

with THIS.

In related news, it appears that The Stig may simply have been hatched from an egg, so Bunny Stig is actually entirely possible.

And on that bombshell I’ll move on to the soaring pictures from Hawaii.

We went for a drive down along the North Shore one day on Oahu, and more or less blundered into yet another area that was historically significant in World War II, but had seen its glory days pass by, Dillingham Airfield. I have picture on the laptop of the signs for it, but quickly switched to a new card when I noticed some interesting activity on the tarmac.

Got it together quickly enough to get this and other similar pictures:

They flew around a bit, and then the glider was released and the little yellow plane came back down to line up for the next go-around. The glider landed:

Glider N387BA landing, its single wheel just inches from the asphalt

Managed to get it just before the single wheel kissed asphalt (OOH!).

Glider N387BA getting tow cable set for another go around Dillingham Field

It came to a stop and the pilot hopped out to hook up the cable for another go-around. Lovely day for soaring. I know very little about gliders other than the obvious, but this looked like a lot of fun. There were a couple of outfits there that seemed to be selling glider rides but it looks like this was flown by Honolulu Soaring. I can’t get the tail number to match up with them – glider N387BA is registered in Alabama, but there are mentions of it being at Dillingham. The tow plane is a pretty distinctive little yellow guy with a great big GRRRR!! toothy grin.

I’ve made banner images for a couple of the other pictures and will be adding more, you’ll see them appear if you refresh a time or two.

Chick-fil-A DO NOT WANT But They’re Coming Anyway

This is not all that good and joyful: anti-gay corporate poultry product shills Chick-fil-A are building a restaurant near me, I’ll pass it every day. Ugh.

Bet Chick-fil-A wishes this month would end. Over the past few weeks, the restaurant chain’s deep ties to the anti-gay movement have been exposed and uncovered by a number of activists, most notably Jeremy Hooper at Good As You. Whether it’s Focus on the Family, the National Organization for Marriage, the Pennsylvania Family Institute, or Exodus International, Chick-fil-A ties run deep.

Of course, the President of Chick-fil-A wants gay people to share no hard feelings. The restaurant will gladly feed homosexuals gobs of chicken sandwiches, after all. But when it comes to marriage, Chick-fil-A believes strongly that same-sex couples just don’t deserve equal rights.

via Yes, Chick-fil-A Says, We Explicitly Do Not Like Same-Sex Couples | News.

In which I run off at the mouth ranting, then has a Pifanee!

Wow, I actually got a comment that isn’t spam, a request for a washing machine part, or looking for Fry Sauce. It’s from a recent post called “My God is the God of the Poor,” which was just a link to a awesome recent post by Pastor Dan that ***Dave passed along.

In it, I said as I quoted pastordan

Something else I believe as a liberal Episcopalian, put a little more aggressively:

My God is the God of the poor. You can be for the poor or you can go to hell.

A month later, I get this rather condescending comment from someone named Dan Kegley, and since this is my blog, I get to be not only condescending right back, but also slightly snotty and obnoxious. But hey, it’s my blog. I suddenly got inspired to respond with important, well-thought out arguments, but those darn LOLcats got in my Bible and messed with my sin tax again.

I has a pifaneee!!1!

How sad that one would relate a man’s wealth, or lack thereof, with how God, in His wisdom, will judge us all at His time and place. How can you speak of liberalism, with its oddities and corruption of heart, being obviously at war with morality and values of any kind, as having a “leg up”, so to speak, in God’s eye? I have never heard that God wishes for us to take from producers and give to the lazy or unproductive. I am not referring to those on hard times, or those whose hardships have them in a bad place currently. Liberals, though, actually see a calling to punish hard working men and women, as if that elevates those who do nothing to help themselves. The Lord Himself, on many occasions, spoke of the need for man to strive and produce for his own family, as no one other than the head of the family can lay claim to the prosperity or destitution by which the family comes. I believe your words will never be taken seriously by progressives who cannot understand the good hearts of men, and who by their political nature want for destruction and chaos to reign, as in this they prosper in wealth, control over men, and unquestioned power. How sad.

— commenter Dan Kegley, who has a sad

How sad indeed that you seem to inhabit a completely different version of reality, because it will be very difficult for us to communicate across the divide. Since I know what state you probably hail from, I’d love to introduce you to some lovely liberal Christians there who might give you a whole new perspective on Jesus and His mission to the poor (and also the proper raising of cows, chickens, and dogs).  I’m a pretty rotten liberal Christian by comparison to them, but I mean well, give as much as I can, and hope to do better.

What are liberalism’s “oddities?” What “corruption of heart?” Are we talking religion or politics? If religion, best not raise the spectre of corruption lest we have to go into the many and varied kinds of priest/clergy sex scandals plaguing the conservative churches, not to mention embezzlement or financial fraud cases by either clergy or lay leaders (all too common in Utah, for example, as the sheep are very easily clipped there).

I’m not at war with morality, and I have values. This doesn’t give me a “leg up.” This puts me on a path that may be different from yours that is no better, and no worse. I think war is immoral, I think capital punishment is immoral. I also think Han shot first, which is both a moral position and a value judgement.

Let’s talk about taking from the producers and giving to the unproductive next. You really need to stop reading Ayn Rand, and start reading your Bible – it seems that at least one reading in church each week mentions the poor in some context (I go to church every week, unlike many Americans who claim church attendance but don’t actually go). Strangely, I do not think Ayn Rand thought much of this Bible thing. She seems very selfish and unpleasant and her characters are cardboard cutouts. Seriously, producers? Do you grow your own wheat? Weave your own linen, unmixed with wool? Live in a gulch? Of course not.

Here are a few mentions of the word “poor” in the Bible. Several of them are very familiar even to non-religious Americans – the ones that keep buying the Bible, but not reading it, apparently.  As it happens, the ones in the beginning are what Jesus said about the poor.

Multi-Version Concordance

Poor (276 Occurrences)

Matthew 5:3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven. (WEB KJV WEY ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)

Matthew 6:2 When then you give money to the poor, do not make a noise about it, as the false-hearted men do in the Synagogues and in the streets, so that they may have glory from men. Truly, I say to you, They have their reward. (BBE NAS)

Matthew 6:3 But when you do merciful deeds, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand does, (See NAS)

Matthew 11:5 the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. (WEB KJV WEY ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)

Matthew 19:21 Jesus said to him, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have, and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” (WEB KJV WEY ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)

Matthew 26:9 For this ointment might have been sold for much, and given to the poor.” (WEB KJV WEY ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)

Matthew 26:11 For you always have the poor with you; but you don’t always have me. (WEB KJV WEY ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)

Mark 10:21 Jesus looking at him loved him, and said to him, “One thing you lack. Go, sell whatever you have, and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me, taking up the cross.” (WEB KJV WEY ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)

Mark 12:42 A poor widow came, and she cast in two small brass coins, which equal a quadrans coin. (WEB KJV WEY ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)

Mark 12:43 He called his disciples to himself, and said to them, “Most certainly I tell you, this poor widow gave more than all those who are giving into the treasury, (WEB KJV WEY ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)

Mark 14:5 For this might have been sold for more than three hundred denarii, and given to the poor.” They grumbled against her. (WEB KJV WEY ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)

Mark 14:7 For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you want to, you can do them good; but you will not always have me. (WEB KJV WEY ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)

Luke 1:48 For he has had pity on his servant, though she is poor and lowly placed: and from this hour will all generations give witness to the blessing which has come to me. (BBE)

Luke 4:18 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim release to the captives, recovering of sight to the blind, to deliver those who are crushed, (WEB KJV WEY ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)

Luke 6:20 He lifted up his eyes to his disciples, and said, “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the Kingdom of God. (WEB KJV WEY ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)

Luke 7:22 Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John the things which you have seen and heard: that the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. (WEB KJV WEY ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)

Luke 11:41 But if you give to the poor such things as you are able, then all things are clean to you. (BBE NIV)

Luke 12:33 Give what property you have in exchange for money, and give the money to the poor; make for yourselves money-bags which will not get old, wealth stored up in heaven which will be yours for ever, where thieves will not come nor worms put it to destruction. (BBE NIV)

Luke 14:13 But when you make a feast, ask the poor, the maimed, the lame, or the blind; (WEB KJV WEY ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)

Luke 14:21 “That servant came, and told his lord these things. Then the master of the house, being angry, said to his servant,’Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in the poor, maimed, blind, and lame.’ (WEB KJV WEY ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)

Luke 16:20 And a certain poor man, named Lazarus, was stretched out at his door, full of wounds, (BBE DBY YLT NAS RSV)

Luke 16:22 And in time the poor man came to his end, and angels took him to Abraham’s breast. And the man of wealth came to his end, and was put in the earth. (BBE DBY YLT NAS RSV)

Luke 18:22 When Jesus heard these things, he said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell all that you have, and distribute it to the poor. You will have treasure in heaven. Come, follow me.” (WEB KJV WEY ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)

Luke 19:8 Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, half of my goods I give to the poor. If I have wrongfully exacted anything of anyone, I restore four times as much.” (WEB KJV WEY ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)

What Jesus said, world without end, amen.  Pray silence for reflection…

Okay, pause over. And as it happens, it turns out Jesus’ Mom the God-Bearer was poor!  No wonder he’s always harping about them…

That’s only about a third of the quotes – some of them are repetitive because of the multiple versions of the Gospel. But Luke is my favorite of the Evangelists, because his language is poetic and full of interesting detail. There are a bunch more quotes on that web page of course, these are just the Gospel ones to illustrate what has become an increasingly tiresome and over-argued point.  Jesus loved him some poors.

So how is it that the unproductive are different from those fallen on hard times? Poverty is poverty. Or are you quietly saying “the undeserving poor?” Kind of like the sort of people who show up on Hoarders screaming and yelling and arguing over piles of garbage and dead animals? The “those people” that live in urban blight and rural squalor, far from where sight of their hovels would disturb us?

Hard times is hard times. Sometimes poverty is a multi-generational weight crushing people down so far that they don’t know that there’s an up. Sometimes we’re only 4 or 5 decisions from shitting in a bucket.

Can you possibly see that liberals fight to support working class people? Fight for clean air and water and food? Fight for family leave legislation, fight for a fair wage? fight for worker’s compensation laws? Fight for universal, affordable health care (and don’t succeed because of conservative obstructionism)?
These are all things political and religious conservatives were AGAINST. Conservatives are AGAINST health care coverage for children, and against adult children who don’t yet have insurance staying on their parents’ plan for a few extra years.

Conservatives were AGAINST civil rights. They were AGAINST abolition of slavery. They were AGAINST the minimum wage, and AGAINST any increase in the minimum wage. They were AGAINST the 40-hour work week. They were AGAINST health and safety laws in the workplace. AGAINST. AGAINST. AGAINST.

Conservative means STOP. Progressive means GO. Liberal means GO FAST. Oh, and independent might therefore mean “Could go either way, stuck in neutral, may need a new clutch.”

Conservatives were FOR tax cuts for the wealthiest 2 percent in this country, whose deep pockets paid for their political campaigns and for their huge megachurches, and also paid FOR whisper campaigns and “funny business electioneering” to disenfranchise the poor and the brown. Wealthy Christian Reconstructionists like the Mellons and Howard Ahmanson Jr bankrolled “dissenters” and “orthodox believers” within mainline churches bent on splitting them apart from within. They did this because they claimed to be “for life, Jesus and morality,” but really they were in favor of regaining all the power, property, and prestige that they had lost as the mainline churches liberalized through the 60’s and 70’s. As the older churches lost membership – a lot of people stopped believing, stopped caring about religion – the newer churches that survived gained converts who were hardliners fleeing from the Lutherans or the Presbyterians or the Episcopalians, who weren’t real Christians in their eyes any more. I can’t tell you how irritating it is to be told by a fellow Christian that I am not Christiany enough, because I don’t make the Christianist cut by being more Christianish than thou.

People are supposed to be different. Conformity is boring to the Creator – we were created to be a beguiling and delightful array of allsorts. Anyway…

The moderate and liberal Christians stayed put, wondered where everyone else was, and got on with the work of the Church: serving the poor, and praising God in prayer and song. The conservative Christians preached the Prosperity Gospel and solicited donations from… yes, the poor, promising them riches on Earth as it would be in Heaven. And they had really, really crappy music (sorry, I’m a church music snob, I’m sure God is happy with whatever joyus ruckus His children make on any given Sunday).

What would Jesus think of that Prosperity Gospel, I wonder? I wonder.

The 80’s marked the time of the Republican Right’s resurgence – and also a time when the Reagan “Teflon Presidency” produced a remarkable amount of administration officials being convicted for corruption, which never touched Saint Ronnie himself. Strangely enough, Reagan was for emigration amnesty or reform, and raised taxes, and the Jim Brady law must have been galling to the NRA crowd. Reagan must have been a closet liberal, but then you can’t trust these faux-Republican Hollywood actors, can you?

There was more political corruption through the 90’s, mostly from the Right side of the aisle (yes, Clinton was a bad husband, but also a good statesman, and the country prospered). Meanwhile, Newt Gingrich went through a few wives, usually when they were seriously ill. Who’s the moral man? The man who asked his wife for forgiveness, or the man who did the unforgiveable?

And then there was Bush, and then…  and we all grieved together, and then our grief was cynically used against us to frighten us into acquiescing when they curtailed our civil rights, because TERRA!  A noun, a verb, and 9-1-1! And then Madrid and London, terra terra terra WAR WAR WAR.

Of course, the conservatives, who are always FOR the military-industrial complex were FOR WAR WITH afghanistan IRAQ (but whispered that IRAN was next and the fringe hoped that Armageddon was nigh).

And they were all FOR Halliburton getting the bidless contracts for services to the military, because duh, they were FOR OIL too.

And they were FOR the Supreme Court being just as hard-right conservative as possible, which came in deucedly handy when the Florida election almost got won by that creepy Al Gore guy.

It wasn’t just the hanging chads, it was the shortage of voting machines in urban precincts in both Florida and Ohio – but the Supes stopped the recount and there we were, stuck with that idiot pretzel-gobbling Bush guy again and his evil puppet master, Darth Cheney. Talk about your high crimes and misdemeanors, you had ’em all along with that pack of robber barons in office.

The Republicans are FOR the right people having the right to vote and AGAINST the wrong people having the right to vote. And of course they are AGAINST any group that works to enfranchise the urban and suburban poor, who the Republicans don’t wish to represent anyway, because they are unproductive parasites who can’t give them more than a few dollars.

Liberal politicians and religious leaders have always fought FOR hard-working people, but the message isn’t getting out to the people who need to hear it. It’s been co-opted and turned around 180 degrees, so that the oppressors and the corporate plutocrats cry foul, play the victim and claim all the financial benefits for themselves and their cronies. How do they do it? They own the loudest, gaudiest, blaringest propaganda machine since 1940s Argentina: FOXNews. All lies, all the time. Unfair, and unbalanced. All the news we think you need to know. Meanwhile, a good bill or a great innovation for local communities goes unreported, because politics is boring unless somebody is getting beat up by the Republicans on their pet “news” channel. And local or national religious leaders can’t get any press UNLESS TEH GAY.

How can you possibly say that conservatives have ANYONE’s interests at heart unless it’s the corporations and lobbyists who take them to the Caribbean and Scotland, and the shadowy people in the background buying the media and Congress? Whether we’re talking religion or politics, no progress has ever come from going backwards.

The Lord himself, on many occasions and not just the ones quoted above, urged his followers to sell everything, give the money to the poor, and follow Him. He urged disciples to leave family behind, if necessary. Now, that sounds pretty radical and extreme to me, and I doubt many people would take Him up on it; but that’s what’s on the table. Not “get your hands off my stack, Jack” or “I’ve got mine.”

No, it’s “Possessions and wealth will not get you into heaven. It’s what you do here that counts. Put on your sandals, pull up yo’ pants, and go tell it on the mountain.”

Now you go on to this: “no one other than the head of the family can lay claim to the prosperity or destitution by which the family comes.”

What does that even MEAN? OH, right, it’s part of the doctrine of submission and the headship of the man in the family over the woman and children, his chattel. This is a disgusting tribal artifact inflicted on Western civilization by cranky old zealots with an axe to grind, who wanted to keep the uppity wimmenfolk (especially the purty-mouthed fertile ones) under their control. It’s one of the reasons I absolutely cannot stand much of what St Paul wrote regarding the role of women in the church. We’re not going to see eye to eye on this one, Daniel, because I am a very uppity woman indeed. The man as “head of the family” is an insulting, offensive concept to me personally.

I reject your reality and substitute my own.

By the way, that whole SUBMIT thing is sekrit fundamentalist code for “you must have sex with me every time I want it, whether you want to or not! And wash my smelly socks! And you will like it! And now I will read aloud from the Bible, and after that we can pretend I am a slavemaster of Gor and you are my latest acquisition. Send the children and goats out into the fields, and assume the position.”

See? Disgusting tribal artifact.

Strange that Jesus spoke to unmarried and widowed women who were not his blood relatives, whose place in His society was so precarious. This was unheard of at the time, and it’s still unheard of in ultra-orthodox Jewish communities in Israel and the US. Imagine how RADICAL, then, this was 2 millennia ago. His actions and statements were not just radical, they were dangerous and possibly blasphemous according to the standards of the time. They threatened the status quo.

Jesus had radical compassion for women, because they worked so hard drawing water (the Syro-Phoenecian woman), were too busy cleaning house and cooking to hear the Gospel (Martha), because they were poor and still gave what they had to others (the widow and her mite), or they were so broken up with grief that they didn’t even recognize Him (Mary Magdalene).

Stranger still that He chose to appear first to women at the Resurrection, including the woman called “apostle to the Apostles.”  Why do you think that might have been?

If you ask me, Jesus was very much a long-haired hippie radical. After he left, the literati got busy and did a re-write for the masses so he was a little more moderate, a little less rabble-rousy. And they made sure to put the women back down in the dust, even though the rich ones were financing the church and the poor ones were doing all the work looking after the priest’s house. It’s always the way…

It doesn’t matter to me if I’m not taken seriously by other progressives – most of whom aren’t interested in this churchy stuff.  Meanwhile, I think that progressives DO understand “the good hearts of men;” I think that progressives and liberals are good men and women who are inherently generous in spirit,  and community-minded. I think that conservatives and fundamentalists are like the Grinch, with hearts two sizes too small, never thinking of other peoples’ needs and certainly not giving any of their money away to those horrible parasites, and grumbling about the taxes they pay as the drive on federal highways and drink clean water.

Like I said, stop reading Ayn Rand and think for yourself. Because, dude: don’t you get who you’re really talking about? When you say “who by their political nature want for destruction and chaos to reign, as in this they prosper in wealth, control over men, and unquestioned power” you’re talking the Republicans, Wall Street, the US Chamber of Commerce, the TSA, the Bush Era FEMA, the Bush Era Federal Secrets Act, the AT&T deal for wireless wiretapping, Halliburton, BP, Xe, and the Koch Brothers, man!

These are the ones who:

  • took us into war with Afghanistan (right country, still there, trillions of dollars later)
  • Iraq (wrong country, still there, trillions of dollars later),
  • prospered at the expense of everybody else (toxic mortgages, credit default swaps, Bush era TARP),
  • controlled men (stop-loss rules in the military, limited amount of credit available for small business loans and job creation, obstructionism in Congress, offshoring of jobs by large companies for obscene profit margins)
  • held unquestioned power and drove the national narrative with questionable motives (Hello, Congressman-Oversight Police Officer Darrell Issa! Hello, Orange Speaker Boehner! Hello, Weeping Glenn Beck! Hello, Word-Salady Sarah Palin! Hello, Batshit Crazy Michele Bachmann! Hello, all you double-talking, fact-spinning, truth-distorting, fake-crying, black-boarding, propaganda-spouting wool-pullers!).

Do you see it yet? Soylent Green is people. SOYLENT GREEN IS PEOPLE.

No? Oh, right, you’re in that other reality where the black man in the White House isn’t American (psst, they’re lying to you) and the Founding Fathers wrote Jesus, God, and the Holy Spirit into every paragraph of the Constitution (no, they didn’t) and that this is a deeply Christian country with deeply conservative values (actually, most people aren’t all that interested in religion or politics – NEWS FLASH). Also, they have your back (sorry, they’re lying again) and share your convictions (the only convictions they have will be for election fraud, financial chicanery, or sexual misconduct).

We are all so screwed, but the delusions of people who think as you do got us in this mess by electing Bush and his pack of merry military-financial plunderers. And then you and they believed all the lies they told you and elected even more of these geniuses to the Congress, and we are all so screwed double-plus-ungood.

So after years of obstructionism by the Republicans, the Democrats “failed” to pass a GOP bolus in the bowels of the Senate pass a budget. Yet they somehow managed to get a lot done in spite of the kicking and screaming from the GOP (and health care could have been so much better, but is watered down thanks to these same obstructionist goops).

And now, it’s up to the Boehner Congress. We get to sit back and watch the stupid unfold before us for the next few years, especially going into the 2012 elections. We’ll all have to watch them punish hardworking men and women, and send many more families into destitution without “laying claim” or taking the blame for it, just to prove to President Obama that they are the ones with unquestioned power.

How sad indeed.

Survey Links Gay Suicide To Religious Messages


So: not messages like “love your neighbor, love the sinner” but more like “hate yourself, hate your sin.”

Testing Express, an app for iPhone that is supposed to work n conjunction with the WooTumblog app.

UPDATE: Works! Still not the link-grabber bookmarklet Press This used to be before a recent “security” update, but it’s not difficult to set up a lightly edited post from the iPhone now. It’s not that easy to do links with the official WordPress app, and blockquote? Fageddaboudit, you have to go through hell just to get angle brackets.

All in all, a modified “w00t!”

REAL Vermonter-American Mama Grizzly Bear Defends Her Young

@SarahPalinUSA needs to read this letter to the editor of the White River Junction (VT) Valley Times to see how a REAL mama grizzly defended her young in 2000. So good, I quoted the whole thing. h/t MadPriest Of Course, I Could Be Wrong…: ANSWER THAT!.

Sent in to MadPriest Towers by THEMETHATISME:

published by The Valley News
(White River Junction, VT)
Sunday, April 30, 2000

Many letters have been sent to the Valley News concerning the homosexual menace in Vermont. I am the mother of a gay son and I’ve taken enough from you good people.

I’m tired of your foolish rhetoric about the “homosexual agenda” and your allegations that accepting homosexuality is the same thing as advocating sex with children. You are cruel and ignorant. You have been robbing me of the joys of motherhood ever since my children were tiny.

My firstborn son started suffering at the hands of the moral little thugs from your moral, upright families from the time he was in the first grade. He was physically and verbally abused from first grade straight through high school because he was perceived to be gay.

He never professed to be gay or had any association with anything gay, but he had the misfortune not to walk or have gestures like the other boys. He was called “fag” incessantly, starting when he was 6.

In high school, while your children were doing what kids that age should be doing, mine labored over a suicide note, drafting and redrafting it to be sure his family knew how much he loved them. My sobbing 17-year-old tore the heart out of me as he choked out that he just couldn’t bear to continue living any longer, that he didn’t want to be gay and that he couldn’t face a life without dignity.

You have the audacity to talk about protecting families and children from the homosexual menace, while you yourselves tear apart families and drive children to despair. I don’t know why my son is gay, but I do know that God didn’t put him, and millions like him, on this Earth to give you someone to abuse. God gave you brains so that you could think, and it’s about time you started doing that.

At the core of all your misguided beliefs is the belief that this could never happen to you, that there is some kind of subculture out there that people have chosen to join. The fact is that if it can happen to my family, it can happen to yours, and you won’t get to choose. Whether it is genetic or whether something occurs during a critical time of fetal development, I don’t know. I can only tell you with an absolute certainty that it is inborn.

If you want to tout your own morality, you’d best come up with something more substantive than your heterosexuality. You did nothing to earn it; it was given to you. If you disagree, I would be interested in hearing your story, because my own heterosexuality was a blessing I received with no effort whatsoever on my part. It is so woven into the very soul of me that nothing could ever change it. For those of you who reduce sexual orientation to a simple choice, a character issue, a bad habit or something that can be changed by a 10-step program, I’m puzzled. Are you saying that your own sexual orientation is nothing more than something you have chosen, that you could change it at will? If that’s not the case, then why would you suggest that someone else can?

A popular theme in your letters is that Vermont has been infiltrated by outsiders. Both sides of my family have lived in Vermont for generations. I am heart and soul a Vermonter, so I’ll thank you to stop saying that you are speaking for “true Vermonters.”

You invoke the memory of the brave people who have fought on the battlefield for this great country, saying that they didn’t give their lives so that the “homosexual agenda” could tear down the principles they died defending. My 83-year-old father fought in some of the most horrific battles of World War II, was wounded and awarded the Purple Heart.

He shakes his head in sadness at the life his grandson has had to live. He says he fought alongside homosexuals in those battles, that they did their part and bothered no one. One of his best friends in the service was gay, and he never knew it until the end, and when he did find out, it mattered not at all. That wasn’t the measure of the man.

You religious folk just can’t bear the thought that as my son emerges from the hell that was his childhood he might like to find a lifelong companion and have a measure of happiness. It offends your sensibilities that he should request the right to visit that companion in the hospital, to make medical decisions for him or to benefit from tax laws governing inheritance.

How dare he? you say. These outrageous requests would threaten the very existence of your family, would undermine the sanctity of marriage.

You use religion to abdicate your responsibility to be thinking human beings. There are vast numbers of religious people who find your attitudes repugnant. God is not for the privileged majority, and God knows my son has committed no sin.

The deep-thinking author of a letter to the April 12 Valley News who lectures about homosexual sin and tells us about “those of us who have been blessed with the benefits of a religious upbringing” asks: “What ever happened to the idea of striving . . . to be better human beings than we are?”

Indeed, sir, what ever happened to that?

Further Ructions in Episcopalian/Anglican World Likely And Desireable

Maybe it’s time to turn the tables on the conservatives and agitate from within the English church for inclusion, just as the exclusivists did in the American church. So there.

Mad Priest put me on to this story, it’s all his fault.

Ruth Gledhill of The Times (THE Times, of London, you know) reports that UK “pro-gays” are going to take a survey of all LGBT clergy in London, Southwark, and everywhere in the Anglican church in England. It’s an old joke that there are many, many gay and lesbian priests, who serve with the tacit approval of their bishops (some of whom are also undoubtedly gay). In Greater London, it’s estimated that up to one in five Anglican priests is gay, whether closeted or uncloseted. Thus, the conservative hoo-hah over gay clergy and bishops is thus rendered a bit hypocritical when it’s coming from the Anglican church. See “mote in one’s eye, log in thine own” and so forth. Thus endeth the lesson.

Also, Gledhill notes that hundreds of blessings of gay unions have been done, and the survey would like to get accurate numbers. Then she has been tipped that inclusive churches in Britain may try to link up with liberal parishes in the US, following on the model used by the ultra-conservative “Network” churches, many of which have since decamped for the oversight of African bishops once they found one another via the Internets tubes. Now that the US church has “lost” the most politically and theologically disaffected of the dissident faction, it appears ready to move forward more purposefully, and Gledhill thinks that there may be some kind of “TEC outpost” of the US Episcopal Church in London planned. Meanwhile, two US dioceses have announced candidate slates for bishops, Minnesota and Los Angeles – with several partnered gay and lesbian priests in the running.

Gledhill’s bombshell, already under discussion at conservative sites, quotes (apparently in full) a draft response from a number of inclusive-church groups to Archbishop Rowan’s disappointing reflection that came out after General Convention ended. This is not the Chicago Consulation’s response, this is a bunch of organizations that are all UK-based.

Ruth Gledhill – Times Online – WBLG: New push for same-sex marriage, gay ordination in Church of England

We have no doubt that the Church of England is called to live out the Gospel values of love and justice in the whole of its life; these values are intrinsic to the calling of Jesus Christ to follow him and it is out of this context that we speak. While we acknowledge the intention of the Archbishop of Canterbury to seek a way forward for the Anglican Communion, we have grave concerns about the implications of his reflections in “Covenant, Communion and the Anglican Future.”

‘For example, we consider that references to same-sex unions as a “chosen life-style”, and assertions that those who have made such a commitment are analogous to “a heterosexual person living in a sexual relationship outside the marriage bond” to be inconsistent with the Archbishop’s previous statements on committed and faithful same sex relationships and are at odds with our reading of the message of the gospel.

‘Whilst we applaud his assertion that we are called to “become the Church God wants us to be, for the better proclamation of the liberating gospel of Jesus Christ” we find no indication of how that can be achieved for those who are not heterosexual.

‘We acknowledge, once again, that there are and always have been many loyal, committed and faithful bishops, priests and deacons – properly selected and ordained – and many lay people who are LGBT or who work alongside LGBT people with delight and thanksgiving.

‘We know ourselves to be part of the church of God in England and we work, together, to bring about the reign of God in this part of God’s creation. We pray earnestly that the Church of England will continue to select, train, ordain and deploy LGBT people and enable them to exercise their calling from God in the Church of England.

‘Together, we reaffirm our commitment to working for the full inclusion of all people at all levels of ministry. We will continue to work towards liturgical and sacramental recognition of the God-given love which enables many LGBT couples to thrive. We will seek to strengthen the bonds of affection which exist between those in all the Churches of the Anglican Communion who share our commitment to the full inclusion of all of God’s faithful. We will also continue to work closely with our brother and sister churches, especially those with whom we have mutual recognition of orders such as the Nordic churches. We will work to ensure that if the Church of England is to sign up to the Covenant, it has potential for rapid progress on this and other issues.

‘We find the notion of a “two track communion” flawed in the way that the Act of Synod is flawed, and we commit ourselves to continuing the effort to find ways forward through which those who disagree profoundly on this and on other issues can continue to celebrate their common membership of the Church of England and unity in Christ’

Accepting Evangelicals

Changing Attitude

The Clergy Consultation



Evangelical Fellowship of Lesbian and Gay Anglicans

General Synod Human Sexuality Group

Group for the Rescinding of the Act of Synod

Inclusive Church

Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement (Anglican Matters)

Modern Churchpeople’s Union


I’m pleased to find St John’s-Hyde Park in London is a member of both Inclusive Church
and Changing Attitude, as I thoroughly enjoyed my Sunday visit with them a year ago in August and think they’re really on the right track, as the service was VERY well attended (a rarity in Britain). I had previously blogged on the concept of a “two-track communion” but that referred specifically to women Anglican clergy in Britain, who face similar obstacles (and obstinacies) when faced with conservative opposition to  female ordination.  If this “TEC beachhead” becomes a reality in London (it may be wishful thinking), it would be interesting to see how they respond to the very real and troubling accusation of border-crossing. From the lists of member churches at Inclusive Church and Changing Attitude, it’s clear there are plenty of welcoming, affirming Anglican parishes all over Britain, not just in London.

Wait, How Do You Grow By Excluding People Again?

As a liberal Episcopalian, I cheered and was cheered by the passage of several inclusive, progressive resolutions at the recently concluded convention. We can go forward now, I think. #ecgc
Pared-Down Episcopal Church Is Looking to Grow Through ‘Inclusivity’ –
Not everybody agrees with this view, or is happy about the changes – even some in my own state, in the two more conservative dioceses downstate, away from the Chicago urban/suburban area. They are genuinely grieved, and they believe that the church is in the process of ruining itself. I don’t agree; I think we are finally ready to progress for the first time in years. I’ve spent 10 years in the Diocese of Chicago in two small mission parishes; the first one died because people stopped coming (possibly because we had 2 gay priests in a row). At least, that was the view of the conservatives who left, shaking the dust of our space from their sandals.

I think the first one died because we were too busy trying worrying about keeping things going “just as they always had been done” and not busy enough worrying about problems other people outside the church were having keeping things going “just to keep their heads above water.” Also, it didn’t help when one beloved priest left after only a few years. I think she saw the inevitable closure more clearly than any of us were prepared to accept, and as she had a family commitment, she left us to struggle on a few more years. It was harder for people to relate to our newer priest, we started on a bad financial footing with him, and a number of people stopped coming (possibly because they didn’t want to take on more responsibilities than merely putting their bottoms in the seats on Sundays). There were definitely people who objected to having gay clergy, and the slide in numbers kept happening after Bishop Gene was elected in New Hampshire, but we also had a steady trickle of new people who came every Sunday, saw we were hopelessly in decline, and never came back.

I was surprised to run into some of them when we merged with another nearby mission parish that was much more vibrant and dynamic; it was partly the style of worship we’d practiced (the “just as we’ve always done it” kind) that had turned them off. We now have a blended style during the summer, and two services during the winter, and have a food pantry program that’s really starting to take off. There’s a lot more good being done that we were ever capable of imagining at my first Chicagoland parish, and we’re now in the process of building an addition with Diocesan funds (proceeds from the sale of the former mission, too). We’re inclusive, big time. Everyone gets a welcome. And we’re growing, much as one young man featured in this article thinks will happen.

ANAHEIM, Calif. — The Episcopal Church is betting its future on the hope that there are more young people out there like Will Hay.

Mr. Hay, 17, was one of the youngest voting delegates at the church’s 10-day triennial convention, which ended Friday. He has stuck with his church, even when the priest and most of the parishioners in his conservative San Diego parish quit the Episcopal Church two years ago in protest of its liberal moves, particularly the approval in 2003 of an openly gay bishop, V. Gene Robinson. Mr. Hay has helped rebuild his parish, which was left with 48 people and has since drawn nearly 100 new members.

Mr. Hay is no left-wing ideologue, and in fact fears that some of the convention’s landmark decisions last week may alienate even more conservatives. The church’s convention voted not to stand in the way if another gay bishop were elected and to allow for the blessing of same-sex couples.

But Mr. Hay was not troubled by those things. And he believes that the church can grow by emphasizing “inclusivity,” the favorite buzzword of Episcopalians.

We have at least 6 or 8 gay couples/family groups, we’ve got people of color, we’ve got young families and older seniors. About the only thing we don’t have in any great quantity is tweens and teens, although there’s a few college and post-collegiate people. We’re hoping with the increased space for programs and groups we’ll be able to do more with what we’ve got, and attract more people from a variety of demographics.

So far, they have paid a price for their actions. Four bishops, the majority of their dioceses and numerous parishes around the country jumped ship in the last few years to form a new, theologically conservative entity called the Anglican Church in North America. That group will not consecrate women, not to mention gay men and lesbians, as bishops. It has about 100,000 members, while the Episcopal Church has about two million.

But a church study shows that membership declined about 6 percent from 2003 to 2007.

The Episcopal Church also saw its contributions decline, though church experts say it is hard to know how much of that drop is attributable to the economic downturn. The convention voted last week to cut the budget by $23 million over three years and eliminate about 30 out of 180 staff positions at church headquarters in New York and other locations.

Those four bishops, and the priests they controlled, were at the heart of the strife in the Episcopal Church in the last few decades. Others have followed the threads of their disaffection already, but their departure has been planned for a very long time. At the time of the LAST convention, when Bishop Gene’s election had to be ratified by the entire gathering due to its timing, the Diocese of Washington (DC) came out with something called Following the Money.

The whole “Episcopal Church in schism” story is big news precisely because the small faction that resisted progress and preferred exclusion over inclusion was extremely well financed by outside entities. SOMEBODY is paying for all those trips back and forth between Africa and Virginia, home turf for some of the big name players in the continuing drama.

These outsiders have actually been bent on destroying all the mainline Christian churches, not just the Episcopalian Church, from within, or to turn them more conservative by taking them over from within. Some of our own more conservative bishops (and conservative priests coveting the power and prestige a pointy hat brings) have been used as pawns in this process.

The disaffected people are two different kinds of conservatives that are not necessarily compatible with each other; evangelical are allied with Anglo-catholic (note small “c”) traditionalists. The two wings disagree on doctrine, but agree on principle, which is apparently TEH GAY RUINING EVERYTHING. Something like this is playing out in the English church now, with the added irony that there are scads of gay priests and not a few gay bishops, but they’re all understood to be tastefully closeted. The conservatives will shortly begin to squabble over women’s ordination (the “Low Church” evangelicals will mostly be okay with it, the “High Church” ritualists will resist until their dying day). There are other issues that will divide them, such as fine details like what gestures to make, what to wear, and when or whether to use incense.

They are convinced, however, that the rest of us back at the Episcopal Ranch are going to hell in a handbasket, and that we’re actually worshiping Satan or Buddha or the Old Gods or whatnot. They absolutely do believe this; their websites and blogs are full of bile, and they seem to have a hardened-bunker mentality when it comes to Scriptural interpretation and theology.

To theological conservatives, these are signs of a church that will ultimately collapse because it has sold its soul to secular political causes. Two conservative bishops who have remained in the Episcopal Church appeared at a news briefing last week organized by a conservative Anglican group and mourned the direction their church has taken.

“I am a lifelong Episcopalian, a lifelong Anglican,” said Bishop William Love of Albany, who appeared on the verge of tears. “It is breaking my heart to see the church destroy itself.

“Rather than being a blessing for the church, I believe ultimately it will be a curse on the church. Rather than bringing more people into the church, I believe it will drive more people away.”

Bishop Peter Beckwith of Springfield, Ill., said, “It’s a disaster.”

But when asked whether they would lead their dioceses out of the church, both bishops said probably not. Part of the reason was that they would be likely to face legal wrangling over properties, and part is simply their faithfulness to the church.

“I have not sensed that this is the direction the Lord is calling us to,” Bishop Love said. “It all depends on what you focus on. My intent is to keep us focused on Jesus Christ and not on the storm.”

It may be that all the motivated conservative bishops and parishes that considered homosexuality the deal breaker have already left, or have just grown tired of fighting.

I sense that the Lord has always been calling us to come out of our comfort zones and consort with people we wouldn’t normally meet. I sense that the Lord is always welcoming the outcast and those society considers unclean.

With all the conflict-inciters mostly gone or leaving, it’s amazing how much got done at this most recent General Convention. In years past, the joke was that the conservative faction had no “YES” buttons at all when using their electronic voting gadgets. Or, that they simply held the “NO” buttons down at all times, even during dinner and social events. They also refused to take communion with other bishops in attendance at meetings (not just at General Communion). For years there was a simmering feud over “table fellowship” and whether one of the most prominent bishops would flounce out in a be-mitred huff when it appeared they might have to take communion from someone who voted to sustain Bishop Gene’s election, or God forbid, a WOMAN. At the ALTAR.

I disagree with both quoted bishops; I think the movement forward made by the Convention this cycle is surely more blessing than disaster. We can now begin to include more people than we might have thought possible, people who might not have come near a church in years out of fear of the kind of reception they might have. I’m more inclined to agree with young Mr. Hay, that a more inclusive church is bound to welcome more seekers than a church that would choose to exclude some of them.

Mr. Hay, the 17-year-old convention deputy, said he knew that other conservative Episcopal parishes in San Diego were “on the fence,” and he hoped they would not depart.

“What it’s about is keeping people at the table,” he said, “pushing more discussion.”

Well, part of the problem is that we’ve spent decades trying to keep people at the table, pushing more discussion. In the case of civil rights, more than a century has been spend wrangling over the issue. Decades ago, the Episcopal Church was often described as “The Republican Party at prayer,” but that old saw hasn’t been accurate for a long time. Something happened after the tumult of the Civil Rights efforts and the Vietnam War protests; a lot of people became priests that came from a social justice background, and women’s ordination followed not long after the end of the war. Just before that, a new Prayer Book had come out, which caused no end of ructions and there were splits and schisms over that and the advent of the women priests. A number of these smaller offshoots are banding together with the group formed around our most recent doctrinal émigrés. As to whether their group will be recognized by the Archbishop of Canterbury as a new province of the Anglican Communion is anybody’s guess, and neither is it clear whether we’d have to be tossed out on our arses to make room.

Well, we’d rather not be tossed out. We recognize that once again we’ve gone unacceptably further ahead than most of the rest of the Communion is willing to go at this time. We’ll continue to offer aid and assistance wherever it’s accepted. I’d hope that the disaffected former Episcopalians will soon set about helping the needy as a group or province (some individual congregations may have continued their charity programs, some may have been more focused on the strife of leaving).

Meanwhile, back in Mr. Hay’s San Diego, they recently held the Pride Parade, and do you know who was there? A large contingent from St Paul’s Cathedral, as documented by former Father Jake’s denizen IT, and documented by Pam’s Blend Autumn Sandeen.

The banners they carried – two big ones – said “Love To Each of You, from St Paul’s Cathedral.” Friends of Jake’s IT noted that a hate group was sequestered on a cross street, behind a line of mounted police:

At one point, we passed a side street that was blocked off. A row of San Diego mounted police sat on their horses, side by side facing the parade route. Behind them were the haters. You know the type we mean, with loudspeakers, and signs all about evil and “homosex” and the Bible. As we passed them, we heard them say something remarkable over their loudspeaker:

“If you think God doesn’t hate, then you don’t know God!”

Really. That was their message. The Dean and BP had a conversation about the haters’ idea of a God that hates, actually hates, people. The Dean and BP were deeply puzzled. “God is about love,” they agreed. “How do they get hate out of that message? What are they reading?” and the Dean told us that around Prop-H8 time, a group similar to that had invaded the Cathedral and interrupted the Eucharist in protest of inclusion.

Of course, as BP and I noted, this message of hate was being directed at the rear ends of about 8 unflappable police horses.

I think Mr. Hay is lucky to be in the Diocese of San Diego, although I can imagine what he went through when his own conservative parish split. It’s happened all over, but fortunately in most cases the courts generally resolve the property dispute in favor of the “continuing” or remaining Episcopalians – even in the case of the much more conservative Diocese of San Joaquin, which left en masse with their bishop, but tried to retain control of the properties. Deputations from the continuing Dioceses of Pittsburgh, Quincy (IL), San Joaquin (CA) and Ft Worth (TX) found enthusiastic welcomes when they attended General Convention – having been kept apart from the national church by over-controlling conservative bishops, they were overwhelmed at finally being able to participate with fellow Episcopalians in all the exciting legislative and commitee processes (I’m rolling my eyes a little, but they really are darn happy to be included). San Joaquin also recently ordained their first female priest – more inclusion.

Earlier in the week, I ran across this statement from the Bishop of Wyoming, Bruce Caldwell. He presided at the funeral of a young Episcopal man of his diocese who had been tortured and left for dead, Matthew Shephard. He was asked to explain at a luncheon last week why a “elk hunting, horse riding bishop from Wyoming come[s] to be working on full inclusion for the LGBT community.” He described the funeral, and how he came to recognize the great hunger for communion, fellowship and the sacraments that gay people carried, sometimes in spite of they way they had been treated (or mistreated) by churches.

Crowds, including many gay and lesbian people, came to Shepard’s funeral at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Casper, Wyo., and rather than distribute the Eucharist at the altar, Caldwell chose to distribute in the farthest reach of the parish hall. As the gay and lesbian people came forward with their empty hands stretched out to receive the holy sacrament, “I knew that was an absolutely holy moment, Caldwell said “I wondered why are they here, why would they have hands outstretched after the way they have been treated.”

I do indeed hope that the conservatives – those who I believe are motivated more by the need for ecclesial autonomy than by strict adherance to Scriptural literalism – find grace and satisfaction now that they have (mostly) departed. I have this feeling that we’ll both get along better without each other. Perhaps in the future there will be a grace-full rapprochement, but I suspect that most of the major players on their side would have to have an “absolutely holy moment” of their own first.

Larry Stickney Has Two (2) Followers


According to Pam’s House Blend, Larry Stickney of Protect Marriage

Washington has a Twitter follower FAIL:

Yep, two (2) followers. No SEO guys? No life coaches? No Bacon/Anti-

Bacon bots? Not an impressive showing of support for withholding

marriage rights on “moral” grounds.


I can has iPhone?

Via: Flickr
Title: Larry Stickney Has Two (2) Followers
By: GinnyRED57
Originally uploaded: 26 May ’09, 11.10am CDT PST

UPDATE: Added the link to PHB that I couldn’t do as easily from the iPhone with the image in the mix, and while grabbing it, checked Mr. Stickney’s Twitter page. Still no followers, no new updates.  Larry has a sad.