Come in! Come in!

"If you are a dreamer, come in. If you are a dreamer, a wisher, a liar, a Hope-er, a Pray-er, a Magic Bean buyer; if you're a pretender, come sit by my fire. For we have some flax-golden tales to spin. Come in! Come in!" -- Shel Silverstein

Saturday, May 31, 2008


It’s about the Incarnation

As many of you are painfully aware, the Rt. Rev’d Gene Robinson, duly elected and consecrated Bishop of New Hampshire, has not been invited to attend Lambeth Conference, the once a decade gathering of Bishops and Primates around the Anglican Communion which has, for over thirty years, pledged to be part of a ‘Listening Process’ of the stories of LGBT people.

Never mind. Bishop Gene will be there anyway.

The Incarnation has always been something of a scandal. For some, the Incarnation is a threat that must be silenced or destroyed.

Bishop Gene and his beloved Mark have received constant death threats. When Bishop Gene was in England just a few weeks ago, Mark received two death threats on the answering machine of their home – they were "angry and credible" and a serious concern since that number has been carefully guarded.

It goes without saying that Bishop Gene will need greater security and protection while at Lambeth. That actual expense will come to over 70,000 American dollars.

Thank God, quite a bit of it has already been raised, but there is a wee bit of a gap - about 20 thousand American dollars worth.

That's where you come in. I am counting on the readers of this Blog to be generous again. You were wonderful in responding with the Christmas Appeal for the kiddo’s in the City of God with over $10,000 in contributions. I’m hoping you will be just as generous with this Christmas in July Appeal.

Please make out your check to The Episcopal Church of St. Paul, marked “Bishop Gene” and mail it to:

Christmas in July
The Episcopal Church of St. Paul
200 Main Street
Chatham, NJ 07928

It will go into a special bank account and be mailed to Bishop Gene’s discretionary fund on July 7th.

Or, you may prefer to use your credit card and send your donation electronically by PayPal. Just click on the PayPal icon under the video of Bishop Gene’s blessing in the upper right hand corner of the top of this blog. Please do be mindful of the fact that PayPal charges a hefty fee for that convenience.

Bishops Gene will be at Lambeth. Jesus said to love those who hate us.

Let’s keep Bishop Gene safe while he’s there. Jesus said we must be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.

It's all about the Incarnation - the embodiment of love in a culture of hate and violence - and being present, anyway.

And the band played on . . . .

Well, the Newark Bears lost in overtime, but they played one helluva game.

The St. Paul's Combined Choir sang The National Anthem beautifully. One of the ushers was watching us from the sideline. You could tell she had heard many, many church choirs sing the National Anthem many, many times. She actually looked impressed.

And, my pitching? Well, my form was great, but it was a good thing I didn't have to pitch from the mound or I never would have made it over the plate.

Sixty feet is a LONG way to throw a ball. Thirty feet is much more like it.

Even so, the old 'soup bone' is a bit sore tonight. I'll need to soak it in the tub and get Ms. Conroy to give it a good massage. If the Bears weren't rained out tonight, they just might have called me to help them out.

;~) Hey, you never know.

All in all, we had a wonderful time. AND, we made $500 for the music program.

You can see some pictures here. Enjoy! As you can tell, we most certainly did.

Sexism Sells -- But We're Not Buying It

So we've got a woman as Speaker of the House, several women in the Supreme Court and a woman running as a candidate for the Democratic nomination as President of the United States.

In Episcopal Church, we've been ordaining women for over 30 years, there's a woman as Presiding Bishop, and a woman as President of the House of Deputies.

So, sexism is a thing of the past, right? Why do we need the Episcopal Women's Project to have The Angel Project?

There's no sexism in America. There's no sexism in The Episcopal Church.

Sure, and I've got a Bridge to sell you in Brooklyn.

Take Action: Sign on NOW!

Go and visit the Human Rights Campaign webpage (here) to Support Marriage Equality for ALL! We need folks from all manner of life - LGBT, straight, black, white, old, young - to make our voices for equality heard.

Here's the letter you'll be asked to sign.

I do support the right of every American to marry, including gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender couples. I believe that marriage and other civil rights protections are essential to making all families safer and more secure.

By signing this petition, I agree to support efforts to make marriage equality a reality in our country, and to oppose any attempts to discriminate against GLBT couples and individuals.

Thank you. Remember, that website is

Friday, May 30, 2008

Uncle Stanley and Uncle Ronald

The New York Times

May 30, 2008
How Governor Set His Stance on Gay Rights

When David A. Paterson was growing up and his parents would go out of town, he and his little brother would stay in Harlem with family friends they called Uncle Stanley and Uncle Ronald.

Uncle Stanley and Uncle Ronald, he said, were a gay couple, though in the 1960s few people described them that way. They helped young David with his spelling, and read to him and played cards with him.

“Apparently, my parents never thought we were in any danger,” the governor recalled on Thursday in an interview. “I was raised in a culture that understood the different ways that people conduct their lives. And I feel very proud of it.”

Mr. Paterson, who two months ago was unexpectedly elevated to be governor of New York, has accepted gay men and lesbians since early in life. From his first run for office, in 1985, he reached out to gays and lesbians, and in 1994, long before gay rights groups were broadly pushing for it, he said he supported same-sex marriage.

As he rose in politics, he became a go-between in the occasionally strained relationship between gay and black residents in his district and beyond, using his easygoing manner to broker disagreements and soothe hurt feelings.

On Thursday, the governor, who is still largely unknown to many New Yorkers, appealed to them to recognize what he called the basic common sense of allowing gay men and lesbians married elsewhere to gain the same rights here as heterosexual couples.

In doing so, he is stepping to the forefront of an issue that has often tripped up his party nationally, and he is going further than either of the two Democratic presidential candidates have been willing to do.

“People who live together for a long time would like to be married — as far as I’m concerned, I think it’s beautiful,” he said in a news conference called to discuss his directive to state agencies to revise their regulations to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other jurisdictions, like California.

“I think it’s fine, regardless of the tenets of religion or the beliefs of some,” he added. “It’s something that the government should allow for people. It’s maybe misunderstood in this generation.”

But already on Thursday, there were signs of a backlash against his decision, with some conservative groups mulling whether to mount a legal challenge to the directive. Some Republican legislators said that Mr. Paterson is wading into an issue that should be settled by the Legislature, and likened it to the ill-fated attempt by his predecessor, Eliot Spitzer, to grant driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants without seeking legislative support.

“It’s outrageous that the governor did what he did,” said Michael Long, chairman of the state’s Conservative Party. “He’s for same-sex marriage, that’s fine. I have no problem with that. To do this in the dark of night, through the back door, to begin the process of destroying the sanctity of marriage, is really wrong.”

It was shortly after Mr. Paterson was sworn in, on March 17, that his legal counsel, David Nocenti, approached him to discuss a February appellate court ruling in Rochester. In that case, the court said that because of New York’s longstanding practice of recognizing marriages from other jurisdictions, a community college in Monroe County must provide health benefits to the wife of a woman who was married in Canada.

Mr. Nocenti recommended that Mr. Paterson order all state agencies to bring their policies in line with that decision.

Mr. Paterson quickly agreed to do so, not only because the state risked legal exposure if it did not, but also because such a directive would be a strong statement of principle about an issue he cares about deeply. He met with his inner circle, and there was no dissent.

On May 14, Mr. Nocenti’s memo went out to the agencies. The governor’s plan called for not publicizing the directive until after June 30, when the agencies were asked to report back to Mr. Nocenti with the revisions necessary to comply with the court ruling. Once the governor approved those changes, he planned to announce them publicly. But Mr. Nocenti’s memo was reported on Wednesday night by The New York Times, and the governor described its contents at a dinner with gay advocates on May 17.

In the interview, Mr. Paterson said he believes deeply that gay men and lesbians today face the same kind of civil rights battle that black Americans faced. He acknowledged that this position put him at odds with some black leaders, who bristle at such comparisons.

“In many respects, people in our society, we only recognize our own struggles,” Mr. Paterson said. “I’ve wanted to be someone in the African-American community who recognizes the new civil rights struggle that is being undertaken by gay and lesbian and transgendered people.”

When Mr. Paterson became governor, gay activists cheered, saying they would have an ally in Albany even more committed than Mr. Spitzer. The Web site of The Advocate, a gay magazine, ran a story headlined, “Could Spitzer’s woes have a silver lining?” The story called Mr. Paterson “the best-case scenario for gays and lesbians in the state.”

Mr. Paterson introduced the State Senate’s first hate crimes bill in the 1980s and refused to support a compromise that did not include gay men and lesbians. When the Senate ultimately agreed to pass a hate crimes bill in 2000, it marked the first time the phrase “sexual orientation” appeared in New York State laws.

Mr. Paterson, then a senator, said: “Now I can die in peace,” adding, “If nothing else ever happens here, I feel that I can point to a contribution that I made.”

During his years as minority leader of the Senate, from 2002 to 2006, his warm relations with the majority leader, Joseph L. Bruno, a Republican, helped pave the way for laws extending civil rights protections to gay men and lesbians, and coincided with a softening of Mr. Bruno’s views on gay rights.

“From the get-go, when I first introduced marriage, which was in, like, 2001, he put his name down right away as a sponsor,” said Senator Tom Duane, a Manhattan Democrat and the only openly gay member of the Senate. “The second I asked him if he wanted to be a sponsor, he said yes. When he was minority leader, he also fought for funding for groups and he’s been great on H.I.V./AIDS issues, as well. He has been 100 percent behind us.”

Some lawmakers said they particularly admired Mr. Paterson’s position on gay marriage because it would have been easy for him to let the issue rest once he became governor.

“I just think it shows the steel in his spine,” said Assemblyman Micah Z. Kellner, a Democrat who represents the Upper East Side. “He knows he is now the governor of all people in New York State, gay and straight.”

Mr. Paterson said he does not see his support for gay marriage as an issue of political fortitude, but rather something more human and almost reflexive.

“All the time when I’d hear Uncle Stanley and Uncle Ronald and my parents talk, they were talking about the civil rights struggle,” Mr. Paterson said. “In those days, I knew I wanted to grow up and feel that I could change something.”


Thursday, May 29, 2008

Okay, I'm nervous

Friday night.

7:05 PM.

Newark Bear's Stadium, Newark, NJ.

Right after the St. Paul's choir sings the National Anthem and the Director of the Choir receives the check from the Manager of the Newark Bears for our fundraising efforts, the rector of The Episcopal Church of St. Paul, Chatham, (that would be moi) gets to throw the opening pitch.

I've been practicing for two weeks.

There was a pitching clinic at the church two Sundays ago. It was raining so we moved our location from the ball field outside the church parking lot to the Parish Hall.

My junior warden (bless his heart), squatted down with the glove in front of his chest. Pointing at his nose, he kept repeating, "Aim the ball right here. Don't listen to them. Aim the ball right here."

Meanwhile, a whole host of men who absolutely have my best interest at heart kept yelling out their best advice.

"Hold the ball with three fingers and your thumb."

"Don't push it, throw it."

"Put a little spit on your fingers."

Meanwhile, my junior warden (bless his heart) kept saying, "Don't listen to them. Look at me." Pointing to his nose, he kept repeating, "Aim the ball right here."

So, I took his advice. And, by George, I'm actually getting pretty good.

I never hit his nose, but I threw the ball 36 feet with power, speed and (thanks be to God), accuracy.

And, I didn't break a window.

It's 60 feet from the pitcher's mound to the batter's plate.

I'm more than half way there.

And, even Ms. Conroy says that my form is damn near perfect.

That's because I've been watching Pedro Martinez.

Okay, okay. So, now he's pitching for the Mets.

At least it's not the Yankees.

Pray for me, a sinner.

(Sorry. All the tickets are sold out. You'll have to watch it on C-span.)

P.S. If you want information about a really fun and easy way to make money for one of your church's ministries, don't hesitate to call.

"Consider the lilies"

Note: Melissa is our most brilliant Director of Christian Education at St. Paul's. She preached this sermon last Sunday. I can't wait for you to enjoy it, too.

Worrying About Tomorrow
Melissa Brandes, M.Div.
The Episcopal Church of St. Paul, Chatham
May 25, 2008
Matthew 6: 24-34

A few months ago I learned that my camp would be offering a “Wilderness Leadership Training Backpacking Trip” this May, and I immediately signed up for it. I have worked at camp for seven years now, and I have seen my friends go off for a week of backpacking or canoeing or kayaking with a group of kids…and then come back a week later exhausted and filthy with lots of great stories about their experiences. And, while I had been camping before, I had never been backpacking—never been out on the trail in the wilderness for a week. I was dying to know what it was like, and a little concerned that I wouldn’t be able to handle it. That’s why I had never volunteered to lead a trip myself. I would have no clue what I was doing, and I wasn’t really sure I would make it. So, when I saw this opportunity to go on a trip and learn how to lead in the wilderness, I couldn’t wait!

There were six of us on the trip: two leaders—Kent, who some of you met when he preached and told stories here, and my friend Lindsay who has lead at least 20 trips for camp over the last six years—and three participants: my friends Dan and Karen who had also led trips for camp, and me. The sixth participant was, of course, Jonah the spaniel, Kent’s faithful dog. As soon as I arrived at camp, I realized that I was the only one on the trip who had never done this before. Even the dog knew more than I did, and had his own pack.

I began to feel a bit self-conscious. What if I did something wrong? What if I looked stupid? What if I really couldn’t keep up physically? There were so many things that came as second nature to my friends that I had all sorts of questions about.

The first day was fine…well except for the pain in my shoulders from the backpack, and the need to hike a mile further than we had expected to find an unoccupied campsite, which also required us to make a frigid stream crossing without the aid of a bridge…or a log…or rocks, and then a night on the very hard wooden floor of a lean-to where the temperatures must have dipped below freezing. I didn’t sleep all night, and in the morning, had another frigid stream crossing to look forward to. I was beginning to wonder why people did this by choice as recreation.

Day two saw my uncertainty and self-consciousness increase. I felt as if everyone was watching my every step and judging whether I was doing things right or wrong. Even the dog kept coming to the back of the line to check on me. And then they asked me to lead for awhile, which I know is what you do with the slowest hikers to keep the group together and not let anyone lag behind. “I’m too slow,” I thought, “And they want to see if I can read the map and know where I’m going. I’m going to get us lost.” I felt completely inadequate. And now, being in the front of the line, they could really all watch me. We hiked over ten miles that day, at the end of which I was exhausted. I could hardly lift my legs and I felt clumsy—like I would trip and fall with each step. And, I was lagging behind again. Everyone else seemed just fine—and I was about to collapse. I was physically tired, and mentally beating myself up because I couldn’t go further and faster.

When we finally made it to the campsite, Kent said, “Wow, that was some beautiful country today, wasn’t it?” And the others agreed. I thought to myself, “What country? I didn’t see anything but my feet.” I had hiked through 10 miles of one of the most beautiful parts of the Adirondack Park and hadn’t seen any of it. I was preoccupied by my worry. I was literally worried about my life--what I would eat and what I would drink (whether I would cook the ramen correctly or instead blow up the stove…whether I would purify the water, or instead give everyone dysentery from giardia) and I was worried about my body—what I would wear (Did I bring the right clothes? Did I bring enough clothes? Would I freeze or overheat? Should I have packed a bikini instead of long underwear? Would my body give out before we made it to camp?). Plus I was worried about a whole host of other things. I was, in fact, so worried about being the weakest or doing something wrong that I couldn’t experience the trout lilies which were in bloom with their green and purple mottled leaves and bright yellow flowers—and I couldn’t consider the haunting song of the loons on the lake. I became blind and deaf in my preoccupation with worry.

After the trip, a friend shared some words of wisdom with me. He said, “Be open to experience life.” I think that it is worry that keeps us from being open to experience life. Most of the time, we worry in anticipation. We worry about what might be coming. I was worried about the impending judgment of my friends that would surely come when we reached the next campsite…or while hiking the next day. We worry in anticipation of “bad” things. We worry that pain and loss is coming, tomorrow. The anxiety we feel is a natural reaction. Not one of us wants to feel pain, or to be lonely. We worry because what might be coming will hurt. We fear being open to experience the painful things, and so close ourselves off from experiencing the pleasurable things as well. We cut ourselves off from fully embracing the joys of today. We allow ourselves to get so caught up in what tomorrow might feel like that we walk right by the lilies and the birds, which are the very things that will sustain us tomorrow.

But it’s hard not to worry. If you are anything like me, you worry about tomorrow all the time. My tomorrows are uncertain. They are full of questions about career, and home, and relationships, and identity. All around the edges the fear of failure and loneliness creeps in. I worry because I’m not sure what to do with tomorrow. I know many of you also worry about tomorrow and what might be lost because of an economy that’s in bad shape, or because of sickness and disease.

The thing about tomorrow is that it will come. No one can stop it from coming. Worrying won’t keep it from dawning. We have little control over tomorrow, BUT we DO have control over today. We have the power to fully experience today—to stop and take a deep breath and look around—to spend time with each other and get to know each other better—to appreciate the people and things in our lives that are truly important to us. We have a choice. We have the power to decide to be open to fully experience all the lilies of the field and all the birds of the air in our lives.

“So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.”

And today’s joys—today’s hopes—today’s faith—today’s love—these are the gifts that we have to share with each other and to treasure in our hearts. These full and joyous experiences are what will burn within us when tomorrow does come, no matter what it brings.

Because, “[m]y friends, life is short, and we do not have much time to gladden the hearts of those who make this earthly pilgrimage with us. So be swift to love and make haste to do kindness.” Do it today.


They say it's your birthday!

Happy Birthday, Bishop Gene!

You are a gift of and to the church.

(And you're parents think you're pretty nifty, too!)

P.S. If you leave your birthday greeting here, I'll make sure to send it on to +Gene later tonight.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

This makes me absoltely weak with laughter

(Maybe I'm in more need of a day off than I think.)

Remember that song you sang as a child?

Liberty and Justice sitting in a tree
K - I - S - S - I - N - G
First comes love, then comes . . . .


(Totally stolen from Susan Russell's Blog. I didn't even ask permission. It's that good, right? Right. So, you can steal it from me.)

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Support for those studying for Ordained Ministry

Kevin Martin, Dean of the Cathedral in Dallas, Texas and I have been working on a plan to generate support from our National Church for those studying for Ordained Ministry.

As some of you may know, The Episcopal Church is the only mainline Church that does not give support to seminarians from on the National level. Everyone seems to lament this and the amount of debt that now faces our graduates.

We are urging Deputies to take one of the following two forms (or your own) to your convention before GC 09 for passage. The more dioceses that do this, the more weight this will carry with the budget building process of the national church.

Thanks for your consideration. Help us create some momentum for this long over-due issue.

FORM I: Support for those Studying for Ordained Ministry

Resolved, that the Episcopal Diocese of _______________at its Convention
meeting on ___________________________ requests that the 2009 General Convention urge that the Standing Committee on Program, Budget and Finance provide funding to the Society for the Increase of the Ministry for the next triennium which matches the current work of SIM in the amount of $100,000 in year one, $150,000 in year two, and $200,000 in year three..

Resolved, that the General Convention request SIM to report annual to theExecutive Council this work and its effectiveness in meeting these demands.

Resolved, that Executive Council provide a full report to General Convention 2012.

Supporting Information

The mounting costs of theological education are placing an ever increasing financial burden upon those offering themselves for ordination.

SIM (Society for the Increase of the Ministry) reported in the autumn issue of their newsletter, The Call, that of the 42% of the class of 2008 reporting having debt, they estimate that they will graduate with an average MINIMUM indebtedness of $62,000.

By their own figures reported to SIM, their debt payments and debt service will come to about $12,000 per year against a medium income of $45,500 (26%).

SIM also reports that enrollments at our official seminaries continue to decrease. They report that the number of students in Master of Divinity Degree programs at Episcopal Seminaries has decreased 25% over the last three academic years.

The Episcopal Church has never provided, on a national level, for such preparation. SIM does provide such support and has developed systems of accountability for providing such support to those in need.


Form II: Support for those Studying for Ordained Ministry

Whereas, the mounting costs of theological education are placing an ever increasing financial burden upon those offering themselves for ordination,

And whereas, the Episcopal Church has never provided, on a national level, for such preparation,

And whereas, the Society of the Increase of the Ministry does provide such support and has developed systems of accountability for providing such
support to those in need,

Therefore, be it resolved that the Episcopal Diocese of _______________at its Convention meeting on ___________________________ requests that the 2009 General
Convention urge that the Standing Committee on Program, Budget and Finance provide funding to the Society for the Increase of the Ministry for the next triennium which matches the current work of SIM in the amount of $100,000 in year one, $150,000 in year two, and $200,000 in year three..

Furthermore, that the General Convention request the society to report annual to
the Executive Council this work and its effectiveness in meeting these demands and that Executive Council provide a full report to General Convention 2012.

Supporting Documentation

SIM (Society for the Increase of the Ministry) reported in the autumn issue of their newsletter, The Call, that of the 42% of the class of 2008 reporting having debt, they estimate that they will graduate with an average MINIMUM indebtedness of $62,000.

By their own figures reported to SIM, their debt payments and debt service will come to about $12,000 per year against a medium income of $45,500 (26%).

SIM also reports that enrollments at our official seminaries continue to decrease. They report that the number of students in Master of Divinity Degree programs at Episcopal Seminaries has decreased 25% over the last three academic years.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Lessons and Hymns for July 4th

This has been sticking in my craw for some time. And, some of you know how I get when something sticks in my craw.

I was not happy with the Memorial Day Celebration. Oh, I threw in some Patriotic hymns and prayers for our nation and one for 'heroic service', but they rang shallow for me, given all that is going on in the world - and in our country - right now.

So, I spent part of my holiday weekend making sure that the next Patriotic Holiday - July 4th - provides us some lessons in history.

Yes, I could preach on it, but I don't think I could be more eloquent than some of language of our historical documents.

So, inspired by one of my brothers, Ernest Cockrill, from El Camino Real, I decided to develop a sort of "Lessons and Hymns" with Eucharist for July 4th.

On the surface, it looks like a long service, but I wish to point out two things: (1) Most of the hymns are 1 - 3 verses long (or, short, actually, for an Episcopal service) and (2) there is no sermon, per se ;~)

All of the prayers come from the Book of Common Prayer. All of the historical quotes are, as near as I can figure, accurate.

So, tell me what you think. I trust your honesty.

PS - Please feel free to "steal, "borrow" or adapt this for your congregation, as you deem appropriate. Appropriate attribution will be deeply appreciated.



Entrance Hymn: 718 "God of Our Fathers"

Blessed be God, who Creates, Redeems and Sanctifies.
And blessed be the Realm of God, now and forever.

BIDDING PRAYER: Hear the words of The Declaration of Independence, signed on July 4, 1776. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” As Christians who are Americans, we gather this day to thank God for the gifts of our freedom and liberty, to honor those whose vision, wisdom and sacrifice secured these ‘unalienable Rights’ for us and every generation, to confess that while we believe that all are created equal, we have not always allowed others to enjoy that freedom or those rights; we ask God’s forgiveness and call upon God’s unconditional love and boundless mercy to grant that we may be given the strength and courage to live more fully into our faith and beliefs. Let us pray:

O Lord our Governor, bless the leaders of our land, that we may be a people at peace among ourselves and a blessing to other nations of the earth.
Lord, keep this nation under your care.

To the President and members of the Cabinet, to Governors of States, Mayors of Cities, and to all in administrative authority, grant wisdom and grace in the exercise of their duties.
Give grace to your servants, O Lord.

To Senators and Representatives, and those who make our laws in States, Cities, and Towns, give courage, wisdom, and foresight to provide for the needs of all our people, and to fulfill our obligations in the community of nations.
Give grace to your servants, O Lord.

To Judges and officers of our Courts give understanding and integrity, that human rights may be safeguarded and justice served.
Give grace to your servants, O Lord.

And finally, teach our people to rely on your strength and to accept their responsibilities to their fellow citizens, that they may elect trustworthy leaders and make wise decisions for the well-being of our society; that we may serve you faithfully in our generation and honor your holy Name.
For yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and you are exalted as head above all. Amen.

Hymn 720 (verse 1) "National Anthem"

Let us now remember our history, that our past may inform our future.


"In the name of God, Amen. We, whose names are underwritten, the Loyal Subjects of our dread Sovereign Lord, King James, by the Grace of God, of England, France and Ireland, King, Defender of the Faith, &. Having undertaken for the Glory of God, and Advancement of the Christian Faith, and the Honour of our King and Country, a voyage to plant the first colony in the northern parts of Virginia; do by these presents, solemnly and mutually in the Presence of God and one of another, covenant and combine ourselves together into a civil Body Politick, for our better Ordering and Preservation, and Furtherance of the Ends aforesaid; And by Virtue hereof to enact, constitute, and frame, such just and equal Laws, Ordinances, Acts, Constitutions and Offices, from time to time, as shall be thought most meet and convenient for the General good of the Colony; unto which we promise all due submission and obedience. In Witness whereof we have hereunto subscribed our names at Cape Cod the eleventh of November, in the Reign of our Sovereign Lord, King James of England, France and Ireland, the eighteenth, and of Scotland the fifty-fourth. Anno Domini, 1620."

Hymn 433 "We Gather Together to ask the Lord's blessing"


We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

Hymn 720 "National Anthem" (verse 2)

MARCH 31, 1776

"I long to hear that you have declared an independency. And, by the way, in the new code of laws which I suppose it will be necessary for you to make, I desire you would remember the ladies and be more generous and favorable to them than your ancestors.

"Do not put such unlimited power into the hands of the husbands.

"Remember, all men would be tyrants if they could. If particular care and attention is not paid to the ladies, we are determined to foment a rebellion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any laws in which we have no voice or representation.

"That your sex are naturally tyrannical is a truth so thoroughly established as to admit of no dispute; but such of you as wish to be happy willingly give up -- the harsh tide of master for the more tender and endearing one of friend.

"Why, then, not put it out of the power of the vicious and the lawless to use us with cruelty and indignity with impunity?

"Men of sense in all ages abhor those customs which treat us only as the (servants) of your sex; regard us then as being placed by Providence under your protection, and in imitation of the Supreme Being make use of that power only for our happiness."

Hymn 716 "God Bless or Native Land”


We will ponder your proposition and when we decide we will let you know. But should we accept it, I here and now make this condition that we will not be denied the privilege without molestation of visiting at any time the tombs of our ancestors, friends, and children.

Every part of this soil is sacred in the estimation of my people. Every hillside, every valley, every plain and grove, has been hallowed by some sad or happy event in days long vanished. Even the rocks, which seem to be dumb and dead as they swelter in the sun along the silent shore, thrill with memories of stirring events connected with the lives of my people, and the very dust upon which you now stand responds more lovingly to their footsteps than yours, because it is rich with the blood of our ancestors, and our bare feet are conscious of the sympathetic touch.

Our departed braves, fond mothers, glad, happy hearted maidens, and even the little children who lived here and rejoiced here for a brief season, will love these somber solitudes and at eventide they greet shadowy returning spirits.

And when the last Red Man shall have perished, and the memory of my tribe shall have become a myth among the White Men, these shores will swarm with the invisible dead of my tribe, and when your children's children think themselves alone in the field, the store, the shop, upon the highway, or in the silence of the pathless woods, they will not be alone. In all the earth there is no place dedicated to solitude.

At night when the streets of your cities and villages are silent and you think them deserted, they will throng with the returning hosts that once filled them and still love this beautiful land. The White Man will never be alone.

Let him be just and deal kindly with my people, for the dead are not powerless. Dead, did I say? There is no death, only a change of worlds.

Hymn 385 "Many & great, O Lord, are thy works"


Oppressed people cannot remain oppressed forever. The yearning for freedom eventually manifests itself, and that is what has happened to the American Negro. Something within has reminded him of his birthright of freedom, and something without has reminded him that it can be gained.

Consciously or unconsciously, he has been caught up by the Zeitgeist, and with his black brothers of Africa and his brown and yellow brothers of Asia, South America and the Caribbean, the United States Negro is moving with a sense of great urgency toward the promised land of racial justice. If one recognizes this vital urge that has engulfed the Negro community, one should readily understand why public demonstrations are taking place.

The Negro has many pent up resentments and latent frustrations, and he must release them. So let him march; let him make prayer pilgrimages to the city hall; let him go on freedom rides -and try to understand why he must do so. If his repressed emotions are not released in nonviolent ways, they will seek expression through violence; this is not a threat but a fact of history.

So I have not said to my people: "Get rid of your discontent." Rather, I have tried to say that this normal and healthy discontent can be channeled into the creative outlet of nonviolent direct action. And now this approach is being termed extremist. But though I was initially disappointed at being categorized as an extremist, as I continued to think about the matter I gradually gained a measure of satisfaction from the label.

Was not Jesus an extremist for love: "Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you." Was not Amos an extremist for justice: "Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever flowing stream." Was not Paul an extremist for the Christian gospel: "I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus." Was not Martin Luther an extremist: "Here I stand; I cannot do otherwise, so help me God." And John Bunyan: "I will stay in jail to the end of my days before I make a butchery of my conscience." And Abraham Lincoln: "This nation cannot survive half slave and half free." And Thomas Jefferson: "We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal . . ."

So the question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be. Will we be extremists for hate or for love? Will we be extremists for the preservation of injustice or for the extension of justice? In that dramatic scene on Calvary's hill three men were crucified.

We must never forget that all three were crucified for the same crime--the crime of extremism. Two were extremists for immorality, and thus fell below their environment. The other, Jesus Christ, was an extremist for love, truth and goodness, and thereby rose above his environment. Perhaps the South, the nation and the world are in dire need of creative extremists.

HYMN: "We Shall Overcome" (insert)


With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.

Hymn 597 "Oh Day of Peace that Dimly Shines" (vs. 1)

The Holy Gospel of our Savior Jesus Christ, according to Matthew 11:16-19, 25-30

"But to what will I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to one another, 'We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we wailed, and you did not mourn. 'For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, 'He has a demon'; the Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, 'Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!' Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds."

At that time Jesus said, "I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will.
All things have been handed over to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.

"Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."

Hymn 597 “Oh Day of Peace that Dimly Shines” (vs. 2)

Let us pray: Almighty God, who hast given us this good land for our heritage: We humbly beseech thee that we may always prove ourselves a people mindful of thy favor and glad to do thy will. Bless our land with honorable industry, sound learning, and pure manners. Save us from violence, discord, and confusion; from pride and arrogance, and from every evil way. Defend our liberties, and fashion into one united people the multitudes brought hither out of many kindreds and tongues. Endue with the spirit of wisdom those to whom in thy Name we entrust the authority of government, that there maybe justice and peace at home, and that, through obedience to thy laws, we may show forth thy praise among the nations of the earth. In the time of prosperity, fill our hearts with thankfulness, and in the day of trouble, suffer not our trust in thee to fail; all which we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Prayers of the People Form III Book of Common Prayer 387

The Peace

The Announcements

Offertory Anthem: "Battle Hymn of the Republic" (insert)

The Prayer of Great Thanksgiving Prayer C Book of Common Prayer 369
Sanctus S -
The Lord’s Prayer Book of Common Prayer 364
The Fraction and invitation Book of Common Prayer 364

Communion Hymn 671 “Amazing Grace”

Post-communion Hymn 607 "O God of every nation"
(kneeling as you are able)

Let us pray: O God, you made us in your own image and redeemed us through Jesus your son: Look with compassion on the whole human family; take away the arrogance and hatred with infect our hearts; break down the walls that separate us; unite us in bonds of love; and work through our struggle and confusion to accomplish your purposes on earth; that, in your good time, all nations and races may serve you in harmony around your heavenly throne, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Final Blessing

Closing Hymn: 719 "O Beautiful for Spacious Skies"



Sunday, May 25, 2008

My Confession

Bless me Father for I have sinned. It has been two days since my last confession.

I wore Crocs today.



Not tacky.

Not in church.

Sue me.


Sunday morning giggle

From I Can Has Cheezburger (of course).

Saturday, May 24, 2008

My prophet's better than your prophet

There's another interesting discussion going on over at HOB/D - the House of Bishops/Deputies Listserv. One writer laments that it is time for the church to be more prophetic. Another argues that the church, as an institution, cannot be prophetic. It’s an interesting discussion.

I have often joked that the book I will write about this time in our common lives of faith will be titled, “On being a prophet in a not-for-prophet church.”

Which begs the question: What does it mean to be a prophet? More specifically, what does it mean, today, to be ‘prophetic’?

I suppose it should come as no surprise that, in this time of schism, we use the term a lot these days. Everyone who says or does an unpopular or counter-cultural thing which is seen to be bold or courageous, or makes a sincere attempt to discover or interpret the will of God is said to be ‘prophetic’.

The term is so subjective that it can describe someone who is simultaneously a ‘true’ and a ‘false’ prophet, depending on one’s particular perspective. What is ‘prophetic’ to one is ‘rebellion’ to another.

Postmoderns often use the term ‘prophet’ when we mean social commentators who are particularly successful in an analysis of culture and economics, such as “prophets of doom” and “prophets of greed.” Thirty years ago, Simon and Garfunkle sang, “The words of the prophets are written on the subway walls and tenement halls.”

I’m not in my office, so I don’t have access to my OED to look up the word. However, I do happen to have here Abraham Joshua Heschel’s book “The Prophets,” given to me years ago as an ordination present, now all dog-eared and marked, which I still treasure.

According to Heschel the Hebrew prophets are characterized by their experience of what he calls theotropism — God turning towards humanity. Heschel argues for the view of Hebrew prophets as receivers of the "Divine Pathos," of the wrath and sorrow of God over his nation that has forsaken him.

He writes: “Prophecy is the voice that God has lent to the silent agony, a voice to the plundered poor, to the profane riches of the world. It is a form of living, a crossing point of God and man. God is raging in the prophet's words.”

That is, unarguably, a standard which delivers a cold slap in the face to those who bandy the term about in much the same way that we often use the word ‘truth’.

I’m reminded of Jack Nicholson’s gripping performance on the witness stand in the film, “A Few Good Men”: “The truth?” he thunders. “You can’t handle the truth.”

And, in the situation he was describing, he was absolutely right. His words didn’t dignify what was right, but it was the truth – and it was, simultaneously, blasphemy. I don’t know about you, but I can’t handle the truth of what is happening, right now, in ‘Gitmo’.

Were those who died defending this nation, whom we honor this weekend, recipients of a ‘Divine Pathos’? Were they doing God’s will? Did they lay down their lives at the crossing point of God and humanity? Is war – any war, not just the one now raging in Iraq and Afghanistan – a ‘manifest destiny’ or participation in an act of supreme hubris?

Are the MDGs (Millennium Development Goals) as adopted by this church prophetic, or would we give a more urgent, clearer voice to ‘the silent agony” of “the plundered poor” if we follow more nearly Christ’s imperative to the rich young man to “sell everything you have and give it to the poor”?

Is my prophet better than your prophet?

As much as I know ‘my side’ is being prophetic, I have no doubt that ‘their side’ holds out the same conviction. The truth? Can we handle the truth?

I think the truth is that we need, first, to agree on what we mean when we say we want the church and/or her people to be prophetic. If we use Heschel’s standard, do we not, to a person and position, all fall woefully short?

I grew up in Massachusetts listening to the likes of Tip O’Neil and the Kennedy boys who would always begin a discussion or debate with the request to ‘define your terms.’

So, I’ll ask the questions again: What are we talking about when we call someone a ‘prophet’? What do we mean when we call the church to be ‘prophetic’?

Friday, May 23, 2008

The Art of Childhood

Proud Grandmother Alert

WARNING: The following may contain more sweetness and light than some may be able to tolerate. Diabetics and those with dental or periodontal disease may be at special risk.

Cynics and those with an addiction to following the daily drama of "As The Anglican World Turns" may be prone to an outbreak of something near the experience of joy, which they may not immediately recognize and may come as something of a shock. Those with high blood pressure may be at risk.

Proceed with caution. You have been duly warned.

Last night I had supper with my grandkiddo's (oh, yes, and their parents, of course) and then went to the Art Show at Mackie's Elementary School.

This is Mackie's self-portrait.

I asked her, "How did you do that? Did you look in a mirror or do it from memory?"

"Oh, I was just thinking of myself in a happy place and remembered what I felt like."

"Was that difficult?"


"Really? Why?"

"Well, because other people see you in a different way than you see yourself."


Here, she was going for an expression of emotion.

"So, what were you feeling when you painted this?"

"What do you think, Nana?"

"Hmmm . . . looks very light and airy to me."

"Good job, Nana! I was thinking about floating in the pool, looking up at the sky and thinking that Daddy needs to cut the lawn."

"Yes, I see."

This is her attempt at sculpting

"Well, Mackie, this is pretty green."

"Right. It's beautiful, don't you think?"

"Oh yes, absolutely. What were you thinking when you put it together?"

"I was thinking of what would happen if a grape evolved into an animal."

"Really?! What a funny thought!"

"No, Nana. It was very serious. Don't you see what it is?"

"Oh, dear. I'm so sorry. I'm afraid I don't."

"It's a grapeasaurus. You might not have recognized it."

"I didn't, actually."

"It's okay, Nana. It's extinct."

Her baby sister Abby was her biggest fan. It was an hour after her normal bedtime, but she was a real champ.

"What color is this?" asked Mackie.

"BRUE!" exclaimed Abby

"Right! And, what color is THIS?"


"Good job, Abby! That's right! It's PURPLE!"

(Did I mention that Abby is going to be two in August?)

This one is entitled: 'MacKenna likes to look at dinosaurs'

And, indeed, she does.

There was a full house at the Art Show - proud parents and grandparents were standing in long lines to 'oooh and aaah' at the work our children had done. It was really quite impressive.

I also found myself delighted that, in these uncertain economic times, her school has not cut the arts from their budget.

A concert is planned in the middle of June featuring children playing their instruments, singing and dancing.

The art of childhood is dependent upon the stimulation of an active imagination.

Compromise that, especially in the midst of war, and you compromise the art of being human.

Indeed, it may well be that, in these days of gas prices hovering around $4.00 a gallon and in the midst of war, the best antidote to the toxicity of our times is a child's whimsy and fantasy.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Mutterings over the graves of soldiers

Mutterings over the graves of soldiers

On Memorial Day we'll hear about men who gave their lives for their country, but many lives were not given, they were taken, and taken stupidly and carelessly.

By Garrison Keillor

May. 21, 2008 | The Current Occupant tossed Nazis into a speech last week, something he rarely does since it only reminds people of Dick Cheney. He likened those who would negotiate with terrorists to those who tried to appease the Nazis, an awkward comparison, since Nazis were self-defined and wore the swastika proudly, and terrorists are anybody we nominate to be terrorists, who may include terrorists, people who know terrorists, people named Terry, or people with wrists. One reason Guantánamo is kept top-secret is so you and I won't know how many innocent people have been locked up there and how little the bureaucracy cares about innocence, which might remind people of the Nazis.

The Nazis have served us well as an embodiment of evil even after they're all dead and buried, thanks to wonderful movies with cruel men with bad skin and guttural voices -- and the word itself, which has an ominous buzz to it, unlike the gentle "communist," a cousin to "communion" and "community," though when it comes to outright hardcore evil, communism outdid the Third Reich hands down. Stalin was the most murderous man in the history of the world, having had a larger victim pool to work with, and yet "Stalinist" is not the epithet it should be.

That's because communism was exploited for short-term political advantage after World War II by Richard Nixon and other weasels of the right, much the way "terrorist" is today, to scare people into acceding to unprecedented secrecy and concentration of power and freedom of bureaucrats from any accountability whatsoever. Spooky old hammerhead politicians found anti-communism to be wonderfully profitable and they rode that horse for years and cheapened the language.

The war on terror, to most people, is a lame joke, and Republicans who've been embedded in Washington too long are now finding that the word "terrorism" has lost its tread. This multitrillion-dollar war is going to wind down, one way or another. The Occupant will hand it off to the next president, who can then negotiate with people who know people who know terrorists and work out a way to extricate our people from the desert.

If a Democrat does it, it will be appeasement, and if a Republican does it, it will go down as a courageous act of statesmanship, but one way or another, it will be done.

I got a letter from a U.S. Marine in Fallujah ("trapped in this heat and smoke ... running in circles that won't change anything") who, though a "right-wing social conservative," asks, "Where are the protests from my contemporaries in America's colleges? Why do I not detect an appropriate sense of urgency from our citizens and elected officials?"

It's only May. You will see more urgency from elected officials as November nears. Sen. McCain is now talking about withdrawal except of course he wants to call it "victory," and Republicans up for reelection are learning to sound a little more thoughtful and even skeptical about the war. In Minnesota, a man is up for reelection who sat on a Senate committee with oversight responsibility for the rebuilding effort in Iraq and who showed no keen interest in the billions of dollars disappearing down rat holes. He is now starting to recover some memory.

Meanwhile it's almost Memorial Day and here is a vet on television talking hopefully about his dream of making a good life who has been horribly burned and grafted back together, his head looks like a candle stub with a mouth and blinking eyes. Your heart goes out to the brave young man. And what choice does he have other than to be brave? It's either that or the life of a potato. But who did this to him?

On Memorial Day we'll hear about men who gave their lives for their country, but many lives were not given, they were taken, and taken stupidly and carelessly. And there has been great public piety about those men and their "sacrifice" on the part of politicians who blithely sacrificed them.

Back in 2001, McCain said that a person couldn't talk policy to the Current Occupant for more than 10 minutes and then his mind wandered and he was anxious to talk about baseball. His impatience with detail was apparently a factor in the disastrous move to disband the Iraqi army. I hope he gets to spend some time in his presidential library in Dallas and catch up on what he missed out on.

© 2008 by Garrison Keillor. All rights reserved. Distributed by Tribune Media Services, Inc.

Memorial Day

The media and the marketplace are already celebrating this weekend as "the Official Start of Summer" with sales on cars, household items and summer clothes.

Summer doesn't begin 'officially' on the calendar until mid-June.

Never mind. While families around my town are creating vacation checklists and otherwise getting ready to open that summer home on the Jersey Shore or put the boat in the water, a decided minority of others are preparing to observe the real reason for this weekend's observance: honoring those who have made "the ultimate sacrifice" for our country.

Our culture - as it often does - sets its focus on the wrong thing.

Does the church? Should the church?

For some reason I haven't quite figured out, I always get a little squirrely in my soul about singing patriotic hymns in church. I don't think it's the separation of church-state thing. And even though the words sound like a prayer, it just sounds . . . well . . . foreign to my ears to sing, "God bless our native land . . ." in church.

I go through this conflict during the July 4th Celebration as well. Perhaps it's due, at least in part, to the fact that I grew up in an strongly immigrant-identified Roman Catholic community. Any patriotic songs - American or Portuguese - were the staple of the music (complete with marching musical band) of church picnics on the Parish Grounds and celebrations in the Parish Hall. Never in church. Ever.

At St. Paul's, Chatham, after the Collect of the Day, we will pray that perfectly wonderful Prayer for Heroic Service (BCP, p. 839)

"O Judge of the nations, we remember before you with grateful hearts the men and women of our country who in the day of decision ventured much for the liberties we now enjoy. Grant that we may not rest until all the people of this land share the benefits of true freedom and gladly accept its disciplines. This we ask in the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen."

And, just after the Post Communion Prayer and before the Blessing, we will also recite the words of the "Thanksgiving for National Life" (page 838), before we launch into what I suspect will be a rousing recessional of "My Country 'tis of thee" (#717).

However, as I'm walking down the aisle, watching some of the folk dab a tissue to an eye or two, I'll notice the slight lump in my throat and it won't be a swell of patriotic pride. Rather, it will be that place where my internal conflict will register itself.

In the midst of the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the church undoubtedly has a special responsibility to honor our men and women who have died in battle.

Perhaps my uneasiness is that the church is quick to honor our dead but not as diligent to work for peace. Perhaps my uneasiness is more about my own failure not to have done more to raise my voice in protest as well as prayer and patriotic song.

I don't know. What do you think?

Should patriotic hymns be sung in church?

A less than subtle fashion hint for Ms. Conroy

It's really all my fault. I bought my first pair of Crocs in Hawai'i five years ago. I thought they were pretty cool. I also brought a pair home for Ms. Conroy.

I thought they would make great beach shoes. You know. Instead of flip flops.

Now, she wears them all the time. In all colors. Everywhere.

I wouldn't say they look 'stupid'.

Just tacky.


Help me out here . . .Anybody else think this Croc fad is, well, a crock?

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The American Liberal Lion

I was born in Massachusetts where the Kennedy family reigned in state politics and in the government as well as in our hearts.

I have a very clear memory of the the wall in my grandmother's kitchen, right over the table, where pictures of her "Holy Trinity" were hung: Jesus in the middle, Jack
Kennedy on the left and Bobby Kennedy on the right.

On the Anniversary of their birthdays and deaths, the same white votive candle was lit for them as the one for Jesus on Christmas and Easter.

They were "our" family. Our "Massachusetts Royalty."

But, they also had a daughter who was, as they said at the time, "mentally retarded," and another who was "mentally ill," but that only endeared them even more to our hearts.

Yes, they sometimes behaved like scoundrels - marital affairs, running with the fast West Coast Hollywood crowd, alcohol abuse, that car accident in Chappaquidic, and (oh, say it ain't so) divorce.

Even so, their lives embodied the Great American Dream which so many immigrant families hoped to attain. That they were not immune to human foibles only made our success seem possible.

As you no doubt know by now, Ted Kennedy has been diagnosed with a glioma - a particularly pernicious form of brain tumor. I can't tell you how desperately sad I felt at the news.

I don't know if you have seen the news clip of the moment the announcement was made on the floor of the Senate. Senator Byrd of Virgina broke down and wept. "Ted! Oh, Teddy!"

I confess, I did the same. And, she'll hate it that I'm saying this, but so did Ms. Conroy.

Maybe you'd have to be from Massachusetts to understand.

Please join your prayers with ours for Ted, The American Liberal Lion, and for his family. May God grant him strength and courage in the days and months ahead, and heal him, body, mind and spirit.

Mr. Giraffman preaches for the Anglican Province of Nigeria

Mr. Giraffman spredz da wud.

Misogyny: Hard to spell, easy to practice

Misogyny I Won't Miss
By Marie Cocco
Thursday, May 15, 2008; A15

As the Democratic nomination contest slouches toward a close, it's time to take stock of what I will not miss.

I will not miss seeing advertisements for T-shirts that bear the slogan "Bros before Hos." The shirts depict Barack Obama (the Bro) and Hillary Clinton (the Ho) and are widely sold on the Internet.

I will not miss walking past airport concessions selling the Hillary Nutcracker, a device in which a pantsuit-clad Clinton doll opens her legs to reveal stainless-steel thighs that, well, bust nuts. I won't miss television and newspaper stories that make light of the novelty item.

I won't miss episodes like the one in which liberal radio personality Randi Rhodes called Clinton a "big [expletive] whore" and said the same about former vice presidential nominee Geraldine Ferraro. Rhodes was appearing at an event sponsored by a San Francisco radio station, before an audience of appreciative Obama supporters -- one of whom had promoted the evening on the presumptive Democratic nominee's official campaign Web site.

I won't miss Citizens United Not Timid (no acronym, please), an anti-Clinton group founded by Republican guru Roger Stone.

Political discourse will at last be free of jokes like this one, told last week by magician Penn Jillette on MSNBC: "Obama did great in February, and that's because that was Black History Month. And now Hillary's doing much better 'cause it's White Bitch Month, right?" Co-hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski rebuked Jillette.

I won't miss political commentators (including National Public Radio political editor Ken Rudin and Andrew Sullivan, the columnist and blogger) who compare Clinton to the Glenn Close character in the movie "Fatal Attraction." In the iconic 1987 film, Close played an independent New York woman who has an affair with a married man played by Michael Douglas. When the liaison ends, the jilted woman becomes a deranged, knife-wielding stalker who terrorizes the man's blissful suburban family. Message: Psychopathic home-wrecker, begone.

The airwaves will at last be free of comments that liken Clinton to a "she-devil" (Chris Matthews on MSNBC, who helpfully supplied an on-screen mock-up of Clinton sprouting horns). Or those who offer that she's "looking like everyone's first wife standing outside a probate court" (Mike Barnicle, also on MSNBC).

But perhaps it is not wives who are so very problematic. Maybe it's mothers. Because, after all, Clinton is more like "a scolding mother, talking down to a child" (Jack Cafferty on CNN).

When all other images fail, there is one other I will not miss. That is, the down-to-the-basics, simplest one: "White women are a problem, that's -- you know, we all live with that" (William Kristol of Fox News).

I won't miss reading another treatise by a man or woman, of the left or right, who says that sexism has had not even a teeny-weeny bit of influence on the course of the Democratic campaign. To hint that sexism might possibly have had a minimal role is to play that risible "gender card."

Most of all, I will not miss the silence.

I will not miss the deafening, depressing silence of Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean or other leading Democrats, who to my knowledge (with the exception of Sen. Barbara Mikulski of Maryland) haven't publicly uttered a word of outrage at the unrelenting, sex-based hate that has been hurled at a former first lady and two-term senator from New York. Among those holding their tongues are hundreds of Democrats for whom Clinton has campaigned and raised millions of dollars. Don Imus endured more public ire from the political class when he insulted the Rutgers University women's basketball team.

Would the silence prevail if Obama's likeness were put on a tap-dancing doll that was sold at airports? Would the media figures who dole out precious face time to these politicians be such pals if they'd compared Obama with a character in a blaxploitation film? And how would crude references to Obama's sex organs play?

There are many reasons Clinton is losing the nomination contest, some having to do with her strategic mistakes, others with the groundswell for "change." But for all Clinton's political blemishes, the darker stain that has been exposed is the hatred of women that is accepted as a part of our culture.

Marie Cocco is syndicated by the Washington Post Writers Group. Her e-mail address is

Sunday, May 18, 2008

" . . . but some doubted."

A Sermon on Matthew 28: 16-20
Trinity Sunday – May 18, 2008
The Episcopal Church of St. Paul, Chatham
(the Rev’d Dr.) Elizabeth Kaeton, rector and pastor

Today’s scripture carries, for me, some of the most comforting words of Holy Scripture. St Matthew’s gospel reports these words about the disciples, “When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted.” (Mt 28:17)

Today is Trinity Sunday, the day I want to rename as ‘Mystery Sunday’. The whole concept of The Trinity is, perhaps, of all the mysteries of our faith, the most mysterious – and one of the most essential.

The Virgin Birth? The Atonement? Well, after all these years I’m still working that out in my journey of faith.

The Incarnation? The Resurrection? Like the Trinity, I’m standing on a cloud of unknowing and mysteriously not falling through. As John McNeil once said, "I'm standing with both feet firmly planted in midair."

However, with the Incarnation and the Resurrection, I’m able to explain some things to my brain that may not necessarily embrace logic, it most certainly is something I can get into some focus in the eyes of heart.

The Trinity? How to understand The Trinity, much less explain it? It is a mystery wrapped inside of puzzle, buried beneath a conundrum.

It’s interesting that if you do a word search in the bible, looking for the word ‘trinity’, you won’t find it. The disciples and the epistles talked about the incarnation and the resurrection, but they never talk about the God of our creation, the God of our redemption and the God of our inspiration as “The Trinity,’ per se.

Of course, scripture talks about all three, and even describes the nature of all three, but it never labels them “The Trinity.”

And yet, I believe, even as convinced a doubter that I am, that, like the Incarnation and Resurrection, the Trinity is one of the top three essentials of our faith. I’m not as concerned about your Marion Theology – whether or not Mary was a virgin when she conceived, or whether or not she was ‘assumed into heaven when she died’- or what you believe about why Jesus was crucified.

But if you can’t believe in the mysterious divinity and humanity of Jesus, and that through his life and death we are made heirs of the gift of life eternal, and that the greatest mystery of God is that God is one in three persons, well, I think we would have some long conversations about these three essential building blocks of the Christian faith and life.

As one person said to me just before the service began, "I don't believe this stuff in the first reading. How can you read this in church? It's flat out wrong. This is insulting to our intelligence. Worse than that, it perpetuates the ignorance of fundamentalism which believes this stuff is true. That is was actually written by Moses. It ignores CENTURIES of scientific fact!"

Yes, yes, I know.

Understand, please, that I would never pull your credentials as a Christian if you were to say, “You know, I don’t believe any of those things, I just come to church because of the community.”

I say, “Hurray! Good for you. If you believe in the community of faith, you already believe in more than those who are able to recite the Creeds without crossing their fingers behind their backs."

Belief in the Community of the Resurrection of our Lord is a good place to start your journey in faith. I have learned, from over 20 years of experience, that we all end up where we begin: in community - with community - as the strongest statement of our faith in Christ Jesus.

I say that because believing in the community of faith is really what Jesus was all about. His relationship with the God who created him is important to him, yes of course, but only because it models for him the relationship he wants us to have with God.

And, the Holy Spirit is clearly one that he delights to tell us about – “the Advocate, who will lead us to all truth and believing” – which he leaves to us as the gift of his Resurrection.

But, it is his place among the other two and our relationship with him, and God and each other that is the sacred heart and soul of who Jesus is and why he came among us. South African theologians give us one of the most helpful notions about this.

It is called ubuntu, a word from the Nguni language in Africa which Desmond Tutu (in “No Future Without Forgiveness”) describes as meaning that "my humanity is caught up, is inextricably bound, in yours ... a person is a person through other persons."

"A person with ubuntu," Tutu says, "is open and available to others, affirming of others, does not feel threatened that others are able and good, for he or she has a proper self-assurance that comes from knowing that he or she belongs in a greater whole."

Ubuntu is not just an abstraction -- it's an idea that has been and can be incredibly powerful in helping communities heal and reconcile. In South Africa in the aftermath of apartheid, ubuntu inspired the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, put an end to the spiral of violence that had enveloped so much of the nation.

The tortured could look in the eye the very people who had tortured them and say, "What you did to me was a crime because I am a human being and not an animal. And you are responsible for it because you are a human being and not an animal. My humanity is tied up in yours. My humanity is affirmed by my choice today to treat you as a human being, who even now can make the choice not to behave hurtfully. Wounding you and punishing you will not heal me. I forgive you."

The mystery of that kind of deep forgiveness is what lies at the heart of the Trinity. Deep within the mystery forgiveness lies the gift of the unconditional love of God who created everything and proclaimed it ‘good’.

Oh, but wait. There’s more. Here’s the really important mystery of the Trinity: We need the Trinity to mirror our role in the communion of saints – those here present, those yet to come and those who have gone before, but God needs us, too.

Martin Buber (in I and Thou) puts it this way:

“You know always in your heart that you need God more than everything; but do you not know that God needs you -- in the fullness of His eternity needs you? How would humanity be, how would you be, if God did not need humanity, did not need you? You need God, in order to be -- and God needs you, for the very meaning of your life. ... There is divine meaning in the life of the world, of human persons, of you and me.”

God needs us – needs our humanity – as much as we need God’s divinity. Think about that for just a moment. How would the creatures and creation of Mother Earth be tended to if God did not, from before the beginning of time, entrust this sacred task to us? How would we care for each other, if God did not give us the gift of free will – to mess things up and set them right again. Of all the mysteries of our faith, this is the one that most boggles my mind: That God loves us so much that God has given us ultimate freedom. We are free to make mistakes in order to learn the things we need to learn. We are free to make mistakes in order to choose our freedom to help correct the mistakes of others.

One of our little ones ran smack dab into this just the other night. While watching one of her favorite televisions programs, there was a fundraiser to help little children in Africa who have lost both parents to the AIDS epidemic. Upset by what she saw, she asked her mother, “Why would God do that? Why would God allow little children to grow up without their mommies and daddies?” Her mother, ever the wise woman, took this small child into her arms and said, “Honey, let’s ask Reverend Elizabeth.”

My answer to this child’s ancient question about the presence of evil in the world and the absolute divine power of God can be found in the mystery of The Trinity. It’s because God needs us as much as we need God. It’s about relationships – about the mystery of forgiveness and unconditional love. It’s about how the entire human enterprise is dignified and God glorified in acts of justice and mercy.

There is divine meaning in the life of the world which surpasses all human understanding, all human logic, even all human belief. Our faith is built on a mystery, which is wrapped up in the puzzle of our lives, which is buried deep in the conundrum of relationships. I believe that Church, the community of faith, the Body of Christ, is at its best when it allows us to come to the well of this mystery and drink deeply of the Holy Water of our Baptism in Christ.

Logical answers will never satisfy our yearning, our thirst for God. Pure reason will not save the world or us from ourselves. Only the mystery of God’s love can do that. In the mystery of God’s love, we belong to a greater whole.

In the mystery of God’s love, I am a person because you are a person and forgiveness is promised because we are in relationship through our baptism in Christ Jesus. In the mystery of God’s love, death has lost its sting and even in the face of death, there is hope for new life – life eternal – life beyond the here and the now, because of the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit.

So let us, this day, rejoice in one of the great mysteries of our faith – the Trinity as made manifest in the church, where doubters and believers alike are welcome, for we are all pilgrims traveling deep within a mystery, come to drink deep at the Well of Unknowing.


Saturday, May 17, 2008

Before He Speaks

Careful what you preach!

These three women - Vickie McDonald, (wife of pastor Andy), Tami Cinquemani (wife of associate pastor Jeff) and Amy Achata (wife of youth pastor Jeff), have found a marvelous, creative avenue of revenge.

This is a parody of Carrie Underwood's "Before He Cheats".

I'm just glad my Ms. Conroy is not technologically savvy.

It's fun to watch from a safe distance ;~)

Graduation Day

For reasons I won't go into until AFTER that diploma is framed and on my wall, I did not attend either the Hooding Banquet or Graduation. Not to worry. When the time is right, you'll hear the whole sad story.

Instead, I chose to go into The City (there's only ONE - New York City, of course).

There were major performances at the Ballet and the Opera, so we were absolutely unable to get a reservation at any of our favorite restaurants on the UWS, where my daughter works, so Friday night we had a FABULOUS dinner at Portofino on the UES.

It was pouring down rain, but we might have been in a little bistro in Roma. The food was fabulous! And the bread, oh, the bread was surely made in heaven by the angels.

The wait staff were well trained, very efficient, and, to a person, Italian studs with flirty dark eyes, faces like chiseled statues, sexy, dangerously intriguing Italian accents and perfect, gorgeous bodies. Not a bad bun in the house.

This morning, Saturday, we slept in, and then went to the Ritz Diner for a great breakfast (I had the Mozzarella and Basil Omelet and great hot NYC coffee), and then a three hour walk around the City.

First stop - Strawberry Fields and the tribute to John Lennon, who was tragically shot and killed not far from this spot, at the entrance to his apartment at The Dakota, which can be seen from this memorial. It still makes me sad, all these years later.

We also stopped at the "Angel of the Waters," the Bethesda Monument - one of my very favorite places in the entire Park. Somebody's saying "Hey, isn't that . . .?" Yup. If you saw "Angels in America" you will recognize this place.

We walked across and through the park from the UES to the UWS - and yes, this is Trump Tower. Actually, one of five Trump Properties in Manhattan. Like him or not, Mr. Comb-Over is a pretty amazing mogul.

And here, at Merchant's Gate, we were treated to an amazing dance troupe. These boys were fabulous. You can just catch the spirit of the moment, but being there was really pretty exciting.

The boys sometimes performed alone, or did intricate dance routines with each other. Either way, their moves really excited the crowd who applauded wildly and, true New Yorkers, left generous tips.

All in all, NYC is still my favorite place in the whole world to be. Lucky me - it's just 55 minutes by NJ Transit Train.

It was a perfectly wonderful way to mark a 'commencement' - an ending (thanks be to God) and a new beginning.