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

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

How very Bonnie!

The Lead at Episcopal Cafe is reporting that Bonnie Anderson has announced that The Episcopal Church's House of Deputies, of which she is President, will discuss whether it wants to explore the revision of controversial Resolution B033 in a committee of the whole before the relevant legislative committee begins its work.

Here is her letter:

Dear Deputies and First Alternates,

With just a few days left before we gather together in Anaheim for the 76th General Convention, I want to inform you of a procedure available to the House of Deputies that we will propose to use to have a discussion, not debate, regarding resolution B033 that was concurred at the 75th General Convention. We will have this discussion in the context of a “Committee of the Whole”. The purpose of this discussion will be to exchange information and viewpoints among the deputies, and to inform Legislative Committee #8 World Mission, to which committee all the resolutions relative to B033 have been assigned.

What it is:

Committee of the Whole is a parliamentary process that enables a legislative body such as the House of Deputies, to discuss a topic in an orderly manner, without debate or taking a final action on a resolution on the matter. It is used primarily when a deliberative assembly wishes to have a discussion on a particular topic.

How it will happen:

The Legislative Committee on Dispatch of Business will present a special order of business to the HOD in the same manner all special orders are presented. The HOD will review the procedure presented by Dispatch and the House will vote whether or not to use or to amend the Committee of the Whole procedure as proposed.

When it will happen:

During the legislative session on Wednesday, July 8, Dispatch will present the special order for consideration by the HOD.

If the special order is adopted, on Thursday afternoon, July 9, the HOD will meet for one hour in the first session of the Committee of the Whole during the regularly scheduled legislative time; and on Friday morning, July 10, the second session of the Committee of the Whole will meet for one hour during the regularly scheduled legislative session.

It is my belief that the House of Deputies will benefit by having an opportunity to discuss B033 apart from the context of legislative procedure. Many deputies have indicated their longing to discuss B033 together as a House. The HOD Legislative Committee on World Mission (#8) has indicated their work will be aided by this conversation in the HOD prior to the committee’s open hearing on the topic.

I look forward to our work, prayer and deepening relationship.

Please join me in daily thanksgiving for our ministry together, as it is and as it is yet to become. Please join me daily in asking the Holy Spirit to be present with us in all our deliberations, celebrations and conversations.

Bonnie Anderson, D.D.
President, The House of Deputies

Smart. Very smart.

Politically. Theologically. Spiritually. Psychologically.

Nothing like an open, transparent, honest process where all sides can speak from their hearts and minds and listen to the hearts and minds of others.

This is a refreshing breath of fresh air, given the "secret theology committee" of the House of Bishops which is studying - in secret - the "issue" of LGBT people in the church and our full participation in all the sacraments of the church.

The constellation of the membership and the process they will use to 'study' LGBT people is also - did I already mention? - secret.

So, right from Jump Street, Bonnie scores a home run.

Will we - not just LGBT people but the entire church for passing something which is in clear violation of our canons - get an apology? Will B033 be rescinded?

Well, I think that's a possibility in the Senior House (of Deputies), but I'm not holding my breath waiting for anything like this to pass the Junior House (of Bishops).

++KJS has been pretty clear that she wants to move "beyond B033".

And, Bonnie Anderson has not been shy about saying that she holds the opposite opionion.

I only hope that +++Himself (Rowan Williams) will come and listen to the conversation. I trust he will find it quite illuminating.

Right. I'm not holding my breath for that one, either.

Hey, a girl can hope, right?

Meanwhile, Brava, Bonnie Anderson.

Now, THAT's what I call leadership.

Monday, June 29, 2009

How to get to heaven in Ireland

Note: Contributed by Ms. Conroy, herself. Yes, she's feeling better.

I was testing children in my Dublin Sunday school class to see if they understood the concept of getting to heaven.

I asked them, 'If I sold my house and my car, had a big jumble sale and gave all my money to the church, would that get me into heaven?'

'NO!' the children answered.

'If I cleaned the church every day, mowed the garden, and kept everything tidy, would that get me into heaven?'

Again, the answer was 'NO!'

By now I was starting to smile.

'Well, then, if I was kind to animals and gave sweeties to all the children, and loved my husband, would that get me into heaven?'

Again, they all answered 'NO!'.

I was just bursting with pride for them.

I continued, 'Then how can I get into heaven?'

A six year-old boy shouted out:


Marching to Anaheim with IntegrityUSA: A history lesson from herstory

This time next week, I will, no doubt, still be fighting jet lag, trying to get my sense of direction, finding the closest neighborhood bodega for some local grown fruits and veggies, and, no doubt, breathing in copious amounts of LA smog.

It's all about getting ready for General Convention, AKA "Anglican Brigadoon," which will rise from the mist for ten days and then be gone for another three years.

A great deal will happen in those ten days. We'll all be thoroughly exhausted by the end of it all. And, strangely invigorated.

It's important, first, to pause for a little history lesson from the intrepid and always articulate Susan Russell.

We'll be seeing lots of these pithy and informative clips as a run up to as well as during General Convention.

You can 'stay tuned' here at IntegriTV.

Thanks to Our Ms. Brooks (Susan's beloved Louise) for yet another stellar job.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Life, Interrupted

Girl interrupted at her music
Johannes Vermeer

“Do not fear, only believe.” (Mark 5:21-43)
IV Pentecost – June 28, 2009
The Episcopal Church of St. Paul, Chatham
(the Rev’d Dr.) Elizabeth Kaeton, rector and pastor.

One of my favorite modern theologians once said, “Life is what happens when you’re busy doing something else.”

Believe it or not, that was John Lennon. Yes, one of the Beatles.

He also wrote, “All you need is love.” That’s a nice sentiment, but he was wrong about that one. I’ll save that one for another sermon.

“Life is what happens when you’re busy doing something else.”

To put it another way, “Sometimes, the best part of life is the annoying interruptions.”

This morning’s gospel story is an important case in point.

Jesus is being interrupted. Several times. Let me put the scene in context for you. Jesus is in his hometown of Galilee.

He had been drawing large crowds of people from all over the region – even from “Judea and Jerusalem, Idume’a and from beyond the Jordan and from about Tyre and Sidon” (Mk 3:7-8) – so he instructed his disciples to get him a boat “because of the crowd, lest they should crush him, for he had healed many, so that all who had diseases pressed upon him to touch him.” (Mk 3:9-10).

He was on a teaching mission, and he taught from his boat in the water so that the people could hear him. He could teach from the boat uninterrupted by people trying to get close to him, to touch him. He and his disciples were crossing the Sea of Galilee, stopping to teach at one side and then crossing to teach at the other.

Our gospel lesson last week told the story of the storm that came up on the sea as they were crossing to the other side. In my imagination, I can see all the fishermen from all the other little boats that had followed him, excitedly telling everyone else how this man had calmed the storm and led them all to safety.

Jesus intends to resume his teaching, but he no sooner lands on the shore in the country of Ger’asenes when he came upon a man who was quite mad. He had been living ‘among the tombs’, scripture says. One can only assume what grief had driven him to such madness which Mark describes as “unclean spirits.” Jesus heals him and then gets back in the boat to once again cross to the other side.

He is no sooner out of the boat than a man named Jarius, a religious leader in the synagogue, falls at his feet and begs Jesus to heal his little daughter. Jesus immediately agrees and follows Jarius to his home, but lo! There is to be yet another interruption.

A woman – a woman, for goodness sake, and one with a 12 year hemorrhage, no less – was desperate to be healed. She said to herself, “If I just touch the hem of his garment, I shall be healed.” She did and she was, but that did not escape the attention of Jesus. Well, he knew that “power had gone forth from him,” so he turned about in the crowd and said, “Who touched my garments?”

I can only imagine Jarius at this moment, standing at the sidelines, pulling his hair out in frustration and worry about this unnecessary and annoying interruption. I mean, his daughter was sick unto death, and there was Jesus, wasting time with an unclean woman!

Jarius’ worst fears were suddenly realized. Even as Jesus was pronouncing her healed, word came that the daughter of Jarius had died. You can hear the sadness behind the angry words of the messenger who said to Jarius, “Why trouble the Teacher any further?”

Jesus ignored even the interruption of death and said, “Do not fear, only believe,” and continued the journey to the home of Jarius, taking only Peter and James and John with him. Once there, he took the little girl by the hand and said, “Tal’itha cu’mi; which means, ‘Little girl, I say to you, arise.”

And immediately the little girl, the 12 year old daughter of Jarius, got up and walked.

Jesus had been on a teaching mission in his hometown and had been interrupted by no less than three acts of healing and a major storm. Scripture tells us that he left that place and went to his home synagogue where he taught on the Sabbath.

The people there, who had known him since he was a child, took great offense at his teaching and would not receive him. So, he left that place and continued his teaching mission, often interrupted by other miraculous acts of healing.

Are you noticing a pattern, here? It is in the interruptions where healing happens. Even when death interrupts, there is, with Jesus, new life and renewed hope and healing.

This morning gospel story asks us to take a look at our lives to see what we might learn. Look over your life and begin to notice the patterns.

Have you ever been on a path, thinking that you were working toward your goal, and then found yourself – your life, the pursuit of your goal – interrupted? Did you ignore the interruption?

Or, did you follow it? Where did it lead you?

If you ignored it, where do you suppose it might have led? Would you be in a different place now?

Are you in a different place because of that interruption?

Did you find that it took you someplace you never would have asked for or imagined, but you are now exactly where you are supposed to be, because of that annoying interruption?

I believe we are where we are supposed to be, even when where we are feels as if it is, itself, an interruption.

How many of you have raised your voice to heaven and asked, “Why this, God? Why me? Why now?”

And, how many of you, having thought you were on one path but feeling yourself pulled away by life’s interruptions like illness, or death, or something like madness, have fallen on your knees and pleaded with God, “What am I supposed to do now?”

Pay attention to those times. Pay very close attention.

Interruptions, I have come to believe, are holy moments – God-filled, Spirit-sanctified moments.

Interruptions – especially the most annoying ones – are moments when Jesus may be calling you to do something different. Take a new path. Learn an important lesson that you couldn’t learn any other way.

In those moments, it may be important for you to remember two things.

Remember the words of John Lennon who said, “Life is what happens when you’re busy doing something else.”

But, more importantly, remember the words of Jesus who said to Jarius, “Do not fear, only believe.”


"Alle, alle auch sind frei!"

The Big Parade is about to begin in NYC.

It's PRIDE Day. A day to take the shame and humiliation inflicted by others that have been - and still are - part of what it means to 'come out' as an LGBT person, and turn it on its head.

It's time to say enough to those who want to make us society's whipping boys and girls.

Time to get off the impossible merry-go-round of telling us that we are disgusting because we are 'promiscuous' while denying our civil right to marriage.

Time to take a step off the lowest rung on the Cultural Ladder and celebrate ourselves as part of God's creation:

Our resilience.

Our faith.

Our imagination.

Our creativity.

Our intelligence.

Our passion.

Our determination.

Our belief.

Our endurance.

Our fidelity.

Our enormous contributions to the same culture that would shun and condemn us.

Today is the day to be proud of all that we have achieved, despite the odds, and all that we will accomplish.


Enjoy the day.

Olly olly oxen free!

All ye All ye Come in Free!

Come out, come out, wherever you are!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Eating spinach

I started packing last night for General Convention. I leave right after church on Sunday, July 5, which is a mere eight days from today.

I've become really good at packing. Five years as Canon Missioner to The Oasis can do that for you. In those five years, I lived out of a suitcase and traveled extensively enough to get two free trips to Hawai'i in frequent flier miles.

I can pack for two weeks in one medium suitcase - clothing, hair care products, toiletries, shoes, sneakers - the works. I use a small carry on bag for my medicine, a change of clothing (just in case my luggage goes to Bangladesh while I go to Anaheim), my laptop, and assorted reading material.

Over the years, I've invested in some Travel Jack and Chico Travel clothing which roll up into little balls and don't wrinkle. And then, of course, I can accessorize with scarfs and shawls and jewelry that also don't take up much room.

What is that line from "Steel Magnolias"? Olympia Dukakis' character says something like, "My dear, the difference between human beings and lower life forms is our ability to accessorize."

Amen, sistah!

The worst things to pack are sneakers and books. This time, I got the books taken care of on my Kindle, TBTG,

My Puma's, however, are my Puma's.

And, if I don't take them, I won't exercise and if I don't get in at least 40 minutes of exercise - 20 minutes of cardio and 20 minutes of weight resistance - every morning while I'm at General Convention, well . . . let's just say it won't be a pretty sight.

Well, it won't be a pretty sight anyway. Oh, parts of GC are, to be sure. My favorite part is the people-watching.

There's a real festival quality to the whole event. People who only meet face to face once every three years, but have been doing this for five, six, seven conventions, are the best to watch. They greet each other like long-lost relatives and you know what? They are. Indeed, they are sometimes closer than their closest relatives.

The Bible Studies and Daily Eucharists? Well, frankly, I'm ambivalent. It really just depends on who is at your table for Bible Study. In all the times I've been attending General Convention - and, my first one was in 1985 in Anaheim - I've never ended my time with a full table or the same people around the table for Bible Study.

The first ones to bail are the bishops. That sort of sets the tone for the rest of the participants to suddenly remember they have something Very Important to which to attend. Besides, 'institutional' daily bible study really doesn't require a whole lot of imagination and creativity. It might be good if we engaged scripture a little differently - creatively - inventively.

The first or second Daily Eucharist is glorious, as is the last. The rest begins to feel like - oh, I don't know - SHOW TIME!

When you're in a room - check that, arena - with 5-8,000 of your closest friends, the performance aspect of the liturgy becomes the overpowering thing.

The debut of new psalm or choral settings, the 'rock star' status of the preacher - all of it becomes more elevated and the sacrament becomes secondary to it. I'm probably not expressing this well.

For me, I think it's mostly that this Big Eucharist happens Every Day. I mean, I loves me a good lobster dinner - but once, maybe three times a year is just fine, thank you. If I had it Every Day, it wouldn't be as special or taste as good. Does that make sense?

The legislative process? What's your favorite metaphor for something slow and painful? Root canal? Yup, certain issues can be like that. Watching paint dry or grass grow? Yup, that'll do. Watching sausage being made? Yup, yup, yup.

Mostly, for me, it's like watching open heart surgery. In and among the clumsy, klutzy, back-thumping familial greetings and the slow, decidedly un-sexy 'bump and grind' of the legislative process, there is an exquisite delicacy to the timing of things.

There's an amazing institutional and personal vulnerability that sometimes makes people look away with a combination of deep respect and embarrassment. Other times, one can only gawk and stare in awe or disbelief.

On the whole, it's a pretty amazing event in the life of the church.

So, why am I grumpy?

I suppose part of it has to do with Ms. Conroy's knee. We won't know until Thursday when the surgery will be scheduled. And, we know that repairing a ruptured tendon is more complicated than knee replacement surgery, and the recovery time is longer.

I really don't want to leave if she's going to have surgery while I'm away. And, I really don't want her to postpone it until I come back.

She's fine, thanks to so many of your prayers. And, we have lots of people who are more than willing to help.

It's not that. It's not her. It's me.

I know this is silly and I just need to put on my Big Girl Panties and get over my self, but I'm still smarting from the last General Convention - especially B033.

I'm sorry, but there it is.

I know I'm not going to get an apology for B033, but you know what? I need one. Not that it would be 'nice' to have one. I think it's needed and necessary.

I think the church needs to apologize - to EVERYONE - for breaking our own anti-discrimination canon in order to appease the orthodox as well as assuage the anxieties of the blokes at Lambeth Palace.

It didn't work. They've gone off and started the ACNA, the CCP, the ACA, and God only knows what other alphabet soup of splinter groups that have formed.

I think someone actually wrote an essay recently, warning about a severe shortage of 'A's' and 'C's' in the Anglican communion.

No one should be surprised that the appeasement intent of B033 didn't work. Formation of splinter groups and strident behavior are all part and parcel of the history of Evangelical Anglicans.

Meanwhile, some of my dear friends who truly have a vocation to the episcopacy were deeply hurt by B033 - and the dioceses that would have called them are impoverished for the loss of them.

I know I am / we are not going to get an apology. It's all "let's just move beyond B033" and reaffirm our canons which do not allow us to discriminate. I suppose there's some real political merit in that.

I'm used to the horse-trading that goes on in religious politics. '

No apology but let's see if we can move ahead on liturgical rites for blessing covenants'. Right.

'No apology but let's put our efforts into getting marriage equality'. Right.

'Let's move beyond B033 and work for all the sacraments for all the baptized.' Right.

I got it. I understand. Unlike many of my colleagues, I do believe we will get stuff done at GC. Some stuff will stall in the HOB, but not everything. And, not for long.

I think the overwhelming mood about the pending legislation concerning marriage equality or all the sacraments for all the baptized is like spinach. If you don't like it, you know it's good for you and you have to eat it, but you really don't want to, but you'll do it if you're told you have to because, well, because it's good for you and you're tired of fighting with your parents about it.

So, you take a 'no thank you helping', pour lots of salt and pepper on it and mix it with a ton of butter and just do it.

I think that even those among us with the dullest of sight understand that a strategy of 'appeasement' won't work. Doesn't work. Hasn't worked.

Some dioceses, like South Carolina, are poised to join the ACNA. It has already been announced that Kendall Harmon isn't going to waste his energy and effort by going to General Convention, but rather, has been named something like Anglican Development Coordinator.

As if we don't get the message in that, Bishop Lawrence. As I said the other day, it's like hearing a low growl coming from a dog who's possessive of his bone.

What I really need in the next eight days is an attitude adjustment. I need to get my head wrapped around the political realities of General Convention and focus in on all the positives.

I need to call together a circle of prayer and be faithful to it as part of the preparation of my soul.

I need to eat my own spiritual spinach, too.

I know what to do to get myself ready. That's not it.

I think the truth of it is that I'm just going to be grumpy for the next couple of days.

Fair warning, is all.

Friday, June 26, 2009


Prayers for Ms. Conroy, please.

She has apparently ruptured the patellar tendon - the tendon that helps to keep the knee cap in good alignment - on her right leg.

I don't know how this happens, so don't ask, but apparently it is a side effect of the 3rd or 4th generation antibiotic - especially when one already has a weakness in that area - which she took for a sinus infection about 6 weeks ago. She had a torn meniscus repaired then about 10 years ago, so I guess that's where it settled.

She's on crutches and taking Vicodin for the pain, which is considerable. Mostly, though, she's frustrated and annoyed.

Surgery is in the near future. We'll know more after the MRI today, especially in terms of the complication of the surgery and recovery.

We're trying to figure out Plans A,B and C. General Convention July 5-18 is not helping at all.

So, after doing a load of her laundry, fetching her coffee and breakfast, walking and feeding the dogs, running to the store for milk, fresh vegetables and trash bags - which represent all of her morning chores - then, set about tackling MY morning chores - I handed her a second cup of coffee, looked up at her with as much compassion and tenderness and love as I could muster, and said, "Don't get too used to this, okay?"

We both fell out laughing.

She's as frustrated about not being able to do things for herself as I am about having to do them for her.

We'll work it out. We always have. We always will.

In the meantime, of your kindness and mercy, please keep her in your prayers.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Two stars gone but not forgotten

Farrah Fawcett

An amazing beauty.

A brave, courageous battle against cancer.

A deep faith.

A life cut short too soon.

Michael Jackson

An incredible talent.

A controversial figure.

An enigma wrapped inside a conundrum.

A life cut short too soon.

May they both rest in that peace which passes all human understanding.

May their families and children and all who mourn their loss find the comfort of their faith.

"O, call back yesterday; bid time return."

I've just been sent this artist's rendition of one of the last moments at the very last meeting of the Standing Committee of the now former Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth, the former (now deposed) Episcopal Bishop of Fort Worth, Jack Iker, presiding.

The report is that after Jack Iker made this heart-felt but heady promise, members of the Standing Committee spontaneously broke into the unmistakable, distinctive sounds of what has become known as "Texas Anglican Chant."

Several coyote were heard to join in, as the chant closely resembles their mating call, but Iker assured everyone that no 'natural laws' were either violated or broken.

(Thanks to the New Yorker for the cartoon, and my friend Richard who sent it along. For a magazine filled with cartoons that are 'too sophisticated to be funny', I found this one is hysterical. Or, maybe it's just because, deep down somewhere, I really am going to miss the 'Men in Black' at General Convention.)

"May you live in interesting times"

I'm not sure I'm going to know where I am when I get to General Convention in Anaheim.

First of all, the "Men in Black" - the four always grim-looking clerical deputies from the Diocese of Fort Worth - will not be at their station. They were, for me and for many, the 'outward and visible sign' of the line for 'biblical orthodoxy' in sands of The Episcopal Church.

I won't miss their mostly humorless presence or their mean spirit, but it may take me a few minutes to orient myself to the place.

Added to that is this: I just read in a letter from Bishop Mark Lawrence to his diocese that the ubiquitous and peripatetic Kendal Harmon, Canon Theologian for the Diocese of South Carolina, will not be at General Convention.

I'm still trying to get my head wrapped around that reality.

You can find the whole thing here, but this is the "announcement"
Later this summer, just two weeks from today, I will gather with the deputies of the Diocese of South Carolina, and other brothers and sisters in Christ at the 76th General Convention of The Episcopal Church. We will meet from July 8—17th in Anaheim, California. Our beloved retired bishop, Ed Salmon, and I will be representing us in the House of Bishops.

Those representing us in the House of Deputies are: In the clergy order, John Burwell, Steve Wood, Haden McCormick, and David Thurlow: and in the lay order, Wade Logan, Lydia Evans, Boo Pennewill, Reid Boylston, and Lonnie Hamilton (Alternate).

Seasoned observers of General Convention and delegates to our own Diocesan Convention may immediately notice that long time General Convention strategist, Kendall Harmon, while elected to the deputation, is not slated to attend this year’s event.

This will not go unnoticed in many quarters of the House of Deputies and it should not go unexplained to our own diocese.

Well, that's the understatement of the season!

Here's the Bishop's explanation:

In numerous conversations, Kendall and I have felt that the strategizing and networking to pass or defeat resolutions, for most of us in the conservative or reasserting cause, is no longer anything for which we have passion or, for that matter, any hope of success—even if we should attempt it.

The cause of biblical orthodoxy within TEC is no longer a realistic thing to strive for through the councils of TEC. Politically speaking, we have lost the day. Those of us who are going from South Carolina go to bear witness—to speak the truth as we have received it, and with love (as St. Paul enjoins us).

But the days of strategizing with others who may align sympathetically with us to win some political victory through resolutions on the floor of the HOD or HOB is, at least for now, a thing of the past. We are too small and insignificant of a “party.” Too many have been, or have felt, driven out of our Church.

Along with these facts, I fear that the ecclesial-political operatives of General Convention seem too determined to ignore the prevalent teaching of Scripture and the Church, as well as the mind of the larger Communion, but we shall see. I do not state this as one who is disheartened by it. It is just a reality that needs to be recognized and admitted—call it “reality therapy” if you will.

It is my conviction that Kendall’s time and energy can be better directed by working in his new role as Anglican Communion Development Coordinator.

Wait, wait, wait. . . did you catch that?

Not-so-carefully hidden in those last two paragraphs is a very interesting emerging strategy. One might also read it as a 'warning' of sorts, the way a dog begins a low growl when you approach him as he's chewing on his bone.

I'm not going to speculate on what this all means.

Right now, I'm feeling a little sad not to hear Kendall Harmon at the microphone, on the floor of Convention or at the Hearings.

When I was Floor Leader for IntegrityUSA, I always kept one eye on Kendall and the other eye on the caucuses of various deputations - progressive and conservative, all the while watching what was going on during legislative sessions.

On many levels and in a variety of ways, it's going to be an interesting General Convention, but we will be poorer for not having Kendall Harmon there.

The term "worthy opponent" has never been more appropriately applied.

Good luck and God Bless, old chap. Do not doubt for one minute that you will be sorely missed by many on both sides of the aisle.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

And these are the guys who lecture LGBT people on 'the sanctity of marriage'?

South Carolina Governor Sanford admits extramarital affair
By Matthew Bigg

ATLANTA (Reuters) - South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford tearfully admitted on Wednesday he had been unfaithful to his wife, likely ending any chance he might be a Republican contender for the U.S. presidency in 2012.

Sanford resigned as chairman of the Republican Governors' Association and was replaced by Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour, another possible 2012 candidate.

"Any aspirations for 2012, if he had any, are certainly out of the question," said Robert Oldendick, a political scientist at the University of South Carolina.

Sanford's confession at a tumultuous news conference ended days of speculation over his whereabouts. After he disappeared last week, his staff first said he was hiking on the Appalachian Trail. It later emerged he had traveled to Argentina to be with his lover, leaving his family over Father's Day weekend.

Asked if he was alone during the Argentina trip, he replied: "Obviously not".

Shedding tears, Sanford apologized to his wife Jenny, his family, friends and staff when he made the shock announcement after returning on Wednesday from Buenos Aires.

Admitting his affair, Sanford said he had "developed a relationship" with a "dear friend" from Argentina.

"It began very innocently, as I suspect many of these things do, in just a casual e-mail back and forth," he said.

"But here recently over this last year it developed into something much more than that. And as a consequence, I hurt her. I hurt you all. I hurt my wife. I hurt my boys. I hurt friends ... I hurt a lot of different folks."

Sanford was one of several Republican governors seen as possible 2012 presidential candidates. Others include Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, Minnesota's Tim Pawlenty, and Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal.

As chairman of the Republican Governors' Association, Sanford has been one of the party's most visible spokesmen at a time when its fortunes in Washington are at a low ebb.

Last week, Senator John Ensign, another potential Republican presidential contender in 2012, announced he had an affair and resigned from the Senate leadership.


Apologizing for his "selfishness", Sanford asked for "a zone of privacy" for his wife Jenny and their four sons.

He did not identify the woman in the affair, whom he said was separated from her husband and had two boys.

South Carolina senator Lindsey Graham offered his support to his fellow Republican: "I hope Mark will reconcile with his family and can continue serving as governor," he said in a statement. Sanford's final term as governor ends in 2011.

When U.S. media had reported Sanford's whereabouts were unknown since last Thursday, and that even his wife did not know where he was, his aides had said he was hiking on the Appalachian Trail in the eastern United States.

They said he needed a break after a tough state legislative session. During his absence, some South Carolina politicians accused him of abdicating responsibility in state affairs.

Sanford flew back from Argentina to Atlanta early on Wednesday. He initially told a reporter for The State, South Carolina's biggest newspaper, he had changed earlier plans and decided at the last minute to go to Argentina and drive along its coastline.

Sanford gained prominence this year by opposing Democratic President Barack Obama's economic stimulus bill and rejecting $700 million of South Carolina's portion of the funds on grounds the law was reckless and would undermine the state's fiscal stability.

The state's Supreme Court ruled this month that the federal cash must be accepted.

(Additional reporting by Andy Sullivan in Washington and Jane Sutton in Miami, Editing by Alan Elsner and Pascal Fletcher)

The Prayer Book is a Girl's Best Friend

I hardly know what to say, except that Suzanne Guthrie totally ROCKS!


Consider this your mid-week pick-me-up.

Now you can make it through the rest of the week.

You just can't make this stuff up

Might as well just put your jaw on the floor now.

I would never link to VirtueOnline, but I know you won't believe me unless I at least tell you how to find this article.

It's from 'Virtue Online' (an oxymoron if there ever was) in the featured section "From My Ear to Yours," and dated 6/23/09.

A friend sent it to me and I didn't / couldn't believe it, so I went over there to see for myself.

Even so, I still can't believe he actually wrote these words - and wasn't making a joke.

Rumors abound that Ft. Worth Bishop Jack Leo Iker's long term goal is to take his diocese to Rome. Not true. Numerous sources have told VOL that he is deeply committed to the new North American Anglican Province and he will work with his fellow bishops over the thorny issue of women's ordination.

A number of his Ft. Worth priests were recently seen at the Anglican Use conference in Houston. He has told them that if they want to go to Rome, they can do so, but they can't take their property with them.

See what I mean?

You just can't make this stuff up.

Where's Alice and why is that rabbit scurrying along complaining about being late?

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Holy Defiance, Holy Hope

Susan Russell posted this picture at her FaceBook site last night. She has other GC memorabilia on her Blog.

That's the scene from the IntegrityUSA Eucharist held in Denver in 2000. You can read one account of that convention here.

You may not know this, but that picture represents a 'first'.

Can you guess what it is?

Take a close look at all the people standing around the altar.

On the left in front of the altar is Bishop Steve Charleston who was the preacher that night. He totally rocked the house.

"No more victims!" he said, "No more. No more."

That's Michael Hopkins, then President of IntegrityUSA, presiding. Susan Russell, soon to be IntegrityUSA President is standing behind him. Standing behind Bishop Charleston is me, standing next to Tracey Lind and Jeannette DeFriest.

In between Tracey and Jeannette is +Gene Robinson. To his left is Joseph Lane and Jason Samuels. Behind Jeannette is Cynthia Black.

That woman to the left of the Unknown (to me) Man in Black is Bonnie Perry. And, that looks like Mac Thigpen way over there on the right.

There are obviously others you may recognize but I don't.

Starting to figure out the Very Big Radical Thing that happened that night?

Yup. Other than Bishop Steve, everyone else standing 'round that altar is an LGBT person.

Now, you may say, "Yeah, so what?"

Well, it was a Very Big Radical Thing in 2000. Indeed, it was the Very First Time LGBT clergy vested and 'came out' during an IntegrityUSA Eucharist.

I remember posing for a picture on the steps of the Cathedral and everyone was absolutely giddy with our 'group coming out' being recorded for posterity.

Sounds silly now, I know. I know. It incredible to remember that this picture was taken only 9 years ago.

We had been so very, very weary of being ignored. Intimidated. Threatened. Frightened. Or, seeing our sisters and brothers being treated that way.

Many of our LGBT sisters and brothers preferred to stay in the pew, traveling 'incognito', because to do otherwise would have endangered their ability to do their ministry back in their home diocese.

Others of our LGBT brothers and sisters whose vocations to ordination had been denied because of their sexual orientation were also sitting in the pew and, for the first time, had some hope - a vision of the possibility and health and wholeness which comes when the truth is told and the secret no longer has power over your life.

It was an act of Holy Defiance.

The Outcast gathered in the Sanctuary.

The Unclean who had been washed in the Blood of the Lamb.

Those who hunger and thirst for justice being fed Holy Food and given Holy Drink so that they might tend to the hunger and thirst of others.

To you, it may look like a group of clergy con-celebrating at the altar with a bishop.

But to me . . . to me . . . well, to me it's not too big a thing to say that it is a wee glimmer, a bright and shiny ray, of the in-breaking of the Realm of God.

Goodness knows, we need to see images like this. B033 continues to threaten and intimidate and frighten. Vocations continue to be denied based on sexual orientation.

We need to recapture that pioneering spirit of Holy Defiance from Denver and bring it with us to Anaheim.

The Spirit of Holy Defiance unleashes Holy Hope.

If you recall, Gene Robinson was elected bishop of NH three years later.

I continue to hear the prophetic words of Bishop Steve Charleston, calling us on, "No more victims. No more. No more."

No more victims of injustice. All the Sacraments for all the Baptized.

Justice begins, as it always has, with the holiest acts of Holy Defiance:

Love Incarnate, Love Divine.

Monday, June 22, 2009

"The violets in the mountains have broken the rocks."

This video is making the rounds in some corners of FaceBook.

I hope it goes viral.

The comment about 'The Mt. Rushmore of Divorce' is particularly brilliant. Indeed, I do believe we have our own in The Episcopal Church:

David Roseberry, David Anderson, and William Wantland (that last one was particularly messy, as I recall). There's got to be a fourth pillar of 'Anglican orthodoxy' in The Episcopal church who has left his wife for some arm candy, divorced and remarried, but I can't call it up right this very red hot second.

Ten years off purgatory for the submission of a viable fourth candidate.

I know. Sadly enough, there are lots of divorced and remarried bishops in the HOB and clergy and leading laity in the HOD.

I'm looking for the ones who are so-called orthodox who love to lecture to LGBT people about 'the sanctity of marriage'.

I think I see a 'photoshop opportunity' in someone's future - and LOTS of T-shirts and buttons on sale at the IntegrityUSA booth at General Convention.

Can't you see it? A picture of the faces of four scoundrels on "The Mount Rushmore of Divorce" with a quote under it: "What do these guys know about the 'sanctity of marriage'"?

Reminds me of that great quote:

"If you want to protect and defend' marriage, pass a constitutional amendment outlawing divorce."

There is a promise of some sun today, but until then, I can hear Karen Carpenter singing "Rainy Days and Mondays always get me down."

I'm replacing it with the mantra: "The violets in the mountains have broken the rocks."

Hope this little clip brightens your Monday. Onward!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

I'm not sure why I'm posting this

Maybe it's the rain we're having here in the Northeast Corridor.

Maybe it's making me grumpy.

Watching the ACNA (Anglican Church North America) meeting in Assembly in Bedford, TX is a bit like watching distant relatives you never really liked behaving badly in public.

It's embarrassing. Really.

Even though you try hard to pretend it doesn't really matter.

The news media are on it, giving it just the right spin, from subtle like NPR to obvious, like USA Today.

The NPR headline read: "Conservatives Push For Rival U.S. Anglican Church."

"Rival". Says a lot, doesn't it?

Not 'real'. Rival.

Martin Minns, the hand on the sword behind Akinola's pen, has an interesting spin on that. The NPR article opens with these words.
Martyn Minns recalls the moment he knew he had to leave the Episcopal Church, the U.S. branch of the worldwide Anglican Communion. It was 2005. He was rector of Truro Church in Fairfax, Va., and he was talking with a young family who told him they could no longer attend a church that accepted gay bishops or diverged from what they called Orthodox Christianity.

"As I looked at them, I realized that I had a decision to make," he says. "Either I moved with them into a rather uncertain future, or I lost the heart of the congregation. So for me it was a matter of, 'Do I want the church of the future, or the church of the past?' "

That's rich, considering the ACNA uses the 1549 BCP as its 'official' prayer book.

1549. Yup. It's 'back to the future' for these boys.

(UPDATE: I've been informed that it's actually 1662. Check the comments.)

The Quote of the Day Award goes to Susan Russell, the undisputed Queen of the Soundbite:
"It would be as if Sarah Palin were to take a small, but vocal, percentage of very conservative Republicans and decide that they were going to create a parallel United States without having the White House at the center," Russell says.

Brilliant. Gave me my first smile in all of this embarrassing mess.

The title from USA Today said it all:

"New U.S. Anglicans launch, to ban women, gays as bishops."

Yup. They got that right. They are united in negativity - and therein lie the seeds of their own destruction.

Oh, they would tell you that they are united in Christ Jesus. Or, as Moderator Duncan but soon-to-be Archbishop of the ACNA would put it, he
. . . looks forward to the new church attracting anyone who seeks "the reliability of Scripture, the Catholic tradition and Pentecostal power. The Anglican Church bridges all three … If you see the love of Jesus in us, you will join."

The question, however, is how can one see the 'love of Jesus' in exclusion?

How does one see the face of Jesus in the midst of judgment and condemnation?

How does one have the temerity, the arrogance - the incredible cheek - of claiming the name Anglican while rejecting everything that historic, traditional, classic Anglicanism has stood for:


A Spirit of Gracious Accommodation.

The 'Via Media'.

The Big Tent of Anglicanism - or, in the words of C.S. Lewis: the 'roomiest room in all of Western Christendom'.

It's not that The Episcopal Church or Anglicanism doesn't welcome conservative views. It's that the so-called orthodox don't accept any views except their own.

One more quote from the article in NPR:
George Pitcher, an Anglican priest at St. Bride's Anglican Church in London and religion editor at the Daily Telegraph, agrees. He says the communion welcomes conservative views.

But, he says, "when they want to say this is the one true way, and we want to impose it on all Anglicans, then it's at that stage that the broadly tolerant Anglican Communion says, 'Well that's not the way we do things.'

Amen, my brother.

The cloudy, overcast, intermittent drizzly weather isn't helping, but if this is the "New Anglicanism," all of a sudden, I'm finding that I'm describing myself as a "Conservative Anglican".

I'm not sure why, but that makes me grumpier than the weather.

Oh, BTW, what's up with this video? Do you think they did that 'leaders coming out of the right of the screen' is intentional or is the formatting all wrong?

No, no, no. Don't even go there about Duncan's eyebrows. I mean it. It's a life style choice for him. He's allowed. Remember? He's the one who doesn't allow anyone else any choices. Not you.

Sheesh, I really am grumpy, aren't I?

In honor of the weather . . .

Really, I'm thinking something happened and I'm now living in Portland, OR or Seattle, WA. For the last few weeks, it's either been overcast with an annoying drizzle or pouring down rain.

It's like Mother Nature has had a really bad hangover and wants us all to know what she's been experiencing.

So, I figure, if ya can't change it, ya might as well serenade it.

This is one of my favorite pieces. Brilliant, really. Enjoy!

A Baptismal Love Letter: Peace! Be Still!

“Peace! Be still!” Mark 4:35-41
A Baptismal Love Letter
Pentecost III – June 21, 2009
The Episcopal Church of St. Paul, Chatham, NJ
(the Rev’d Dr.) Elizabeth Kaeton, rector and pastor.

Dear Jake,

It is a very small world, and getting smaller every day. By the time you read this for yourself, you will be preparing for the Sacramental Rite of Confirmation. I hope your parents will have saved this letter for you, so that you can reflect on it as you commit your life to Christ.

As I write this, in 2009, the world is in pretty bad shape. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan continue unabated. The Middle East is in another period of unsettling calm in the long violent journey ironically known as ‘The Peace Process.”

There is continued unrest in the Congo, Sierra Leon and Darfur and malaria, dysentery and AIDS continue to kill many all across the continent of Africa. And, in Iran, there is revolution and the resulting smell of blood in the air.

It is a very small world and getting smaller every day. I confess that I have been following the Twitter and Huffington Post and FaceBook messages from Iran in ‘real time’ (whatever that really means) all weekend.

It has been an amazing thing to follow a community of people rise up against an oppressive theocracy and claim the right to choose freedom – even if it costs them their very lives. Even in death, the cries for liberation from oppression can never be silenced.

I am aware that I am following the thoughts and feelings and actions of people I have never met – people who live on the other side of the world, people for whom I am as foreign to as they are foreign to me – and yet, they have been in some of the deepest prayers of my heart.

It’s a very small world and getting smaller every day. I can’t even imagine how much smaller the world will be in 12 years from now when you read this letter. And yet, Jake, the world really hasn’t changed that much. People are still people.

Joy and suffering will always be inseparable companions at the center of the human enterprise.

The God who spoke to Job from the midst of the whirlwind speaks to us today, and we would do well to listen. Modern technology allows me to ‘listen in’ on the people in Iran from an iPhone in my car on Main Street in Chatham, NJ, but if we listen to the people of the world with the ears of our heart, we can hear God still thundering at us with the words God spoke to Job:

“Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?” “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding!”

This is the Ultimate Divine Smack-down. We, like St. Paul, are being pulled from off our high horse. God demands of us as God demanded of Job - Who do we think we are? Where were we when God laid the cornerstones of the universe and when the morning stars sang together and all the heavenly beings shouted for joy?

Right now, in this country, we are in difficult financial times. People are loosing their jobs and they fear they will lose their homes. In the midst of this time of darkness, some of us are just beginning to see the light.

Some of us are just beginning to make the connections between our own previously unrestrained impulses for greed and what is happening in the rest of the world. When we are able to work through our fear and anxiety and remember who is really in control of the universe, we are as sobered and humbled and awed as Job.

Thousands of years ago, St. Mark reports that the disciples of Jesus were out with him in a boat. Suddenly, a great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was being swamped with water.

Jesus was in the stern, asleep on the cushion and the disciples woke him up, saying, “Teacher, we are perishing! Don’t you care?”

And, Jesus rebuked the wind and the storm ceased. And then, Jesus turned and rebuked the disciples saying, “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?”

It is awesome and humbling, Jake, to stand in the presence of the Living God and be smacked-down by God’s power. Sometimes that happens, as it did for your parents, the day you were born.

You are a miracle, Jake, and your birth has forever changed the lives of your parents and grandparents and all who love you.

Sometimes the Great Divine Smack-Down comes when you find yourself on your knees, scared and anxious, or hurt and resentful, or confused and perplexed, or humbled and awed.

Other times it comes at the sight of the suffering of others, like listening in as real people talk in real time in the midst of a real revolution in Iran.

At other times, it overcomes you when you witness a glorious sunset or the resilience of the human spirit or calm in the center of a storm.

In the midst of those times, Jake, I encourage you to remember the words of God to Job which he spoke from the midst of the whirlwind (38:1-11), and the words of St. Paul to the people in Corinth (2 Corinthians 6:1-13) – “Now is the acceptable time; see, now is the day of salvation! . . . We are sometimes . . . . treated as sorrowful, yet we are always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing and yet possessing everything.” With God in Christ Jesus, all things are possible, if we but have faith.

Most especially, Jake, when you are in the midst of a Great Divine Smack-Down, remember the words of Jesus who spoke to his disciples from the midst of the boat after he had calmed the storm: “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?”

It’s a very small world and getting smaller every day. We are learning that, even though we are separated by continents, we are all connected in this world which God has made.

The sad truth is that technology is uniting more people than many religions. We must change that.

Today, I am one with the people in Iran and I am one with the people in Ghana, the birthplace of your parents.

I am one with the people of Iraq and I am one with the people of Afghanistan.

I am one with you and you are one with me and we are one with everyone in this church – no matter our ethnic heritage – because we are baptized into Christ’s Body.

Our world may be very small and getting smaller every day, Jake, but in Christ, our hearts and souls and minds expand and we are connected, one to another, and to God through Jesus.

That is the mystery of our faith.

We are all together in this boat – this planet Earth – with Jesus.

Even in the midst of the chaos of the world that storms all around us, Jesus is with us.

It’s a very small world and getting smaller every day. Be not afraid, Jake, but have faith. Amen.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Cyber Bullies

Note: A friend over at HOB/D - the listserv for bishops and deputies for General Convention - wrote to say that he has apparently been 'blocked' from two of the more notoriously toxic uber-conservative, so-called 'orthodox' websites. this is my response to him:

There is a term for what you - and I and others - have experienced. It's called "Cyber Bully".

While this phenomenon is most predominantly seen among children and teens, it is also becoming increasingly known and documented among adults. Women (no surprise) and LGBT people are a common, favorite target.

You can 'google' the words 'adult cyber bully' and get lots of helpful information. The following is what I have gleaned from a variety of sites on the topic:

A cyber bully delights in the negative attention s/he gets from participating in bullying. The cyber bully attains a deep sense of gratification from the perception of control and power s/he gets from the resulting sense of intimidation from his/her targets.

Cyber bullies are often highly articulate and adept at rhetoric, with a particular skill at turning words, phrases or an argument on their heads. The medium of print - often anonymous - in cyberspace provides a special thrill to many cyber bullies.

Cyber bullies harbor a great deal of internal aggression which they direct at others, which may include projection, false criticism, and patronizing sarcasm, while contributing nothing of any value to the conversation.

They also love to enlist others in an argument and then sit back and watch the argument. Greg Griffith over at "Stand Firm" is a master at this art. I understand that his target du jour is Mark Harris.

Greg is up to his old tricks of posting something out of context from Mark's blog, making a pejorative statement about it, and then sitting back to watch everyone enter the fray - anonymously, of course.

It's all so sadly predictable.

Apparently, he's also done the same thing with Louie's open letter to Bishop Parsely. I'm told that he trolled Louie's website, choosing the most unflattering and provocative picture of Louie and Ernest he could find, made a few comments - just to put some blood on the water - and then threw it all into the shark pool.

And then, he sat back and delighted at the feeding frenzy that ensued.

I thank God that I am blocked from that site. It turns my stomach just to think about it, much less see it for myself. I'm sure it breaks the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Let us not forget that these are the very ones who consider themselves the uber-Christians of the Anglican world - those who have left or are leaving or are the 'dissident remnant' because people like me are 'killing the church."

They are also very adept at creating conflict where there formerly was none by raising questions that are not so much about the pursuit of answers, much less 'the truth', but, rather, are more about casting doubt or calling into question the character and integrity of a person.

Indeed, no answer is ever good enough.

They will split hairs, obfuscate and change the question entirely with the objective of (1) frustrating the correspondent (2) creating the illusion of their being in control (3) casting doubt upon the integrity or character of the person to whom the question is directed.

We have seen this with questions about who is paying the expense of the cost of litigation in the church. That these questions are being raised by the very ones who are either lighting or fanning the flames of discontent is no coincidence.

Notice: no answer will be good enough.

Notice, too, that when a question was raised about funding for the 'secret' theology committee, the response was to raise a question about the source of funding for the cost of litigation in the church.

That's classic, according to the cyber bully resources on the Internet. It's also a tip off to the not-so-secret agenda of the 'secret' theology committee.

Another classic example of a situation of cyber bullying is when I voluntarily removed my (ahem) 'membership' at Stand Firm. That simply enraged the bullies there who then blocked my access to their web page.

It's the old, "You can't divorce me, I'm leaving you - and I'm taking the house, the car and the kids," all-or-nothing, scorch-the-earth, strategy we've seen in many cases of domestic violence.

One of my spiritual directors once said to me, "Sometimes the best spiritual gifts come in the ugliest wrappings." Have no doubt - you are better off for not being able to visit that toxic waste dump.

Here's some of the best advice given as to how to deal with a cyberbully which I have gleaned for myself:

1. Ignore them. Don't respond. Don't engage. I know. It's very hard to do, especially when they attack you or the integrity of someone you know or care about. Ignoring them, however, denies them the negative attention they seek as well as the gratification they feel about the illusion of power they have created.

2. Become alert to provocation. The cyberbully watches and waits and stirs the pot occasionally with additional provocative information. Know that s/he gets intense gratification from watching others engage in destructive behavior. Don't engage.

3. Become an observer. It takes you out of the firing line and enables you to study the perpetrator and collect evidence. When people use bullying behaviors they project their own weaknesses, failings and shortcomings onto others.

In other words, they are telling you something about themselves by fabricating an accusation based on something they themselves have done wrong or desperately fear they may have a proclivity for.

Whenever you receive flame mail or have been otherwise engaged by a cyberbully, train yourself to ask the question, "What are they revealing about themselves this time?"

4. Collect information. This is one time you don't want to hit 'delete'. Create a folder labeled, "Abuse" and keep comments made about you or flame or hate mail you've received. It may come in handy if you. . . .

5. . . . . decide if you want to take action. The best thing is to remove yourself from visiting their web pages. That has already been done for you, thank the Sweet Baby Jesus.

Most ISP's allow you to block email from people. Do that.

If people send you snippets of nasty remarks made about you on other websites, save them. You can always send them to your ISP at: For example, if your ISP is AOL, you would send it to

You have to be prepared to be persistent. Mail each piece of flame mail separately. Eventually, your ISP will respond.

If the violence escalates and you want to take action, you must be prepared and you must be ready to strike back. Hard. Get help from a professional techie before you even consider doing this.

Oh, and it wouldn't hurt to pray for the cyber bullies in your life. It probably won't change them but it will help you. Enormously. At least, that's what's enabled me to deal with the cyber bullies in my life.

Did you know?

Thursday, June 18, 2009

An Open Letter to Bishop Henry Parsley from Two Named 'Louie Crew'

I am delighted to post this with permission of Louie Crew regarding the 'secret panel' of theologians of the House of Bishops who are studying the issue of homosexuality and the blessing of our sacred covenants of relationship in marriage or civil union or domestic partnership in The Episcopal Church. Oh, and may I just say, "Brava, Quean Lutibelle. And, Amen."

June 18, 2009

Bishop Parsley,

In 1911, when his son Erman was only six, the local Klan came in the dark to the home of my grandfather and demanded:

"Louie, it is time for you to do your civic duty."

Louie stood them down while Erman watched from behind a window, frightened by the torches and the hoods.

Then to Erman's amazemenet, Louie called out the name of every hooded man. Erman thought his father had magical skills, not realizing that as president of the local bank, his father had loaned the money used to buy most of the buggies and horses of the vigilantes.

"John! Gary! James! Henry!......" Louie called to the panel before him; "you know that you are up to no Christian good when you have to hide your face to do it."


+Henry, Bishop of Alabama, Ernest and I still pay taxes on Louie's property in Coosa County. You know that you are up to no Christian good when you have to hide the identity of the special panel that you have appointed to study us secretly.

Nor do you treat all parties equally. This week the MISSIONER, published by Nashotah House, identified The Rev. Daniel Westberg, a professor at Nashotah House, as a member of the secret panel and Dr. Ellen Charry, a professor at Princeton Theological Seminary, as the panel's chair. (See page 3 of the current issue)

The writer had sufficient knowledge to characterize the theologyical position of each member of the secret panel.

Why does one of our most conservative seminaries have access to information that you have denied to all who have requested it, including those of us who share fiscal responsbility with you at General Convention?

End the duplicity. Take the hoods off all members of the committee. Let there be transparency and decency.

I have been baptized.

Louie Crew, L1 Newark


Note: Well, the tone of the . . .(ahem) . . .'conversations' on the HOB/D listserv is heating up. Must be getting close to General Convention in Anaheim.

You know, my Momma didn't raise no fool. I know when the White boys in power are playing around with language. One of them pulled my last, poor tired nerve when the conversation went 'round again to "blessing same-sex relationships" and he predictably went straight to the old canard of "But will this then lead to blessing polyamourous relationships?"

Grrrrrrr. . . You know, I keep saying this stuff, but sometimes, I just have to say it slow and loud and clear - which is what I do when I am frustrated because the children are misbehaving.

This all came under the thread "Acceptance":

I wish to make a plea here for a change in language that keeps us focused on the issue before the church, at least, as LGBT people understand it.

LGBT people are not - I repeat NOT - asking the church to bless our same sex relationships.

We are asking the church for the same thing afforded to 'opposite sex' (to quote the former Ms. California) relationships. We are asking the church to bless the COVENANTS we make between each other.

That's it. That's all.

With all due respect, 'opposite sex' couples do not ask the church to bless their relationship. Neither are those of us who are 'same sex' couples.

With all due respect, we are not asking for your approval of our relationship, just as 'opposite sex' couples do not ask for approval of their relationships (even though the statistics prove that 50% of them will end in divorce).

With all due respect, we are not asking you to welcome us in any other special ways that you welcome 'opposite sex' couples into your congregations.

With all due respect, we are not asking you to make us members of the church or even to 'accept' us as full and equal members of the church. Our baptism already does that. We are already 'included' in the Household of God. We are asking you to recognize that fact and act accordingly.

This is not in the same category as blessing hounds, boats, motorcycles, vestments or religious jewelry.

We are asking the church to bless the COVENANTS we make between each other for faithful, life-long monogamy in a relationship marked by mutual respect, equality, fidelity and the holy love that is a reflection of the love of God.

Thank you.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

An ice cream truck? Really?

So, I was having this conversation with a friend who was very concerned about the finances of his church.

He was anxious about how they were going to balance the church budget. How to cut expenses? Where to begin? How do you define the 'non-essentials' in a church budget and what are they?

Turns out, that last question was a real humdinger!

He was trying to justify cutting the Outreach line item. That's the first place he turned with his red pen.

Really? I asked. You would start to balance the budget by first cutting Outreach?

Yeah, he says. You know. Like when you're on an airplane. The flight attendant always says In the event of an emergency place the oxygen mask on yourself first and then care for any dependent children or adults.

Well, I say, why not just cut the rector's position? I mean, except for Sunday and some sacramental acts and, perhaps, and a few pastoral emergencies, everything else can be done by volunteers. At the very least, you can cut his position in half and save yourself a ton of money.

Horrified, he says . . . .

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .(Are you ready for this?). . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . He says, "Whaaa? . . . Well. . . . that would be like . . . . . .

. . . (okay, here it is, swear to God this is true) . . . . . . .

. . . . . having an ice cream truck without a driver."

(A few moments of silence to let the words and images sink in).

Not "a ship without a captain."

Not, "a plane without a pilot."

Not, "a train without a conductor."


Really? I ask. Is that what you think about church and your rector?

Yes, he brightens. Of course. I go to church once a week for a spiritual treat. It picks me up. It's very important to me. It makes my whole week.

I realize that he's telling me the truth. From his heart.

This is an intelligent man. A life-long Episcopalian. He's in a position of elected trust in his church.

And, he thinks of church as an ice cream truck. A little weekly pick me up.

I suppose that makes his priest / rector 'The Good Humor Man'.

Well, I suppose, on one level, there's nothing wrong with that. Church should provide you with a spiritual nourishment. Indeed, it isnt' doing its job if it doesn't inspire.

But, that's not all there is to church. If church doesn't also challenge you to do something - ANYTHING - to become a better person and make the world a better place. . . to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, care for the poor, think about difficult things like what you really believe about the Nicene Creed or the full inclusion of all the baptized in all the sacraments . . . which can sometimes move you right into your discomfort zone . . . well, actually . . .I think it makes Jesus weep.

As alarming as that is, I suppose, then, that it should not be a surprise to me that, when the going gets tough, the first thing he wants to cut is Outreach. I mean, it does have it's own logic.

And, what is disturbing about that, besides the obvious theological and ecclesiological problems, is the absolute lack of creativity it represents.

I mean, how much intelligence does it take to see a plus in one column and a negative in another column to realize that in order to make the columns balance, you have two choices:

1. Cut back on the plus side

2. Find a way to add to the negative side.

Since it's much, much easier in a fragile economy to think 'cut' anyway, I understand the impulse. It may work in the corporate board room. It may even work for small businesses like ice cream trucks.

In the church, however, we operate on faith, not fear. The standard is excellence, not maintenance. We have a theology of abundance, not scarcity.

Indeed, if we don't use our creativity, I think . . . well, not to put too fine a point on it, BUT . . . I think it really pisses God off.

I mean, having a church without Outreach or Mission is like having the Ice Cream Truck and the driver but no engine.

I tell my friend all these things.

How about this? I ask. How about getting some of the Vestry members together with a few of the most creative members of your congregation? How about you do some creative brainstorming? Start to think on both sides of the ledger instead of one? Start to think in the black instead of red.

On the one hand, what about some creative ways of increasing revenues? On the other, what things can be done to increase the participation of the congregation in the tasks of the church to, say, care for the lawn instead of hiring a lawn care company? Looking at ways to cut paper production and postage and put the parish newsletter in an email? Doing some of the small 'handy-man' repairs around the church instead of calling one?

Oh, he brightens. Yeah, that would help.

Really, I say, you will be surprised at how much money you can cut from your expenses before you have to get to putting a red pencil to the line item for Outreach.

And then, your little committee can begin to talk about creative ways to raise the income side of the ledger - some fun things that are based in scripture. You just have to look at some of the parables for clues.

Really? he asks. Really, I say. For starters, look at the Parable of the Talents. Give folks some money from your Outreach budget - say, $25 each - and ask them to do something good with it. Then, the next month, have them come back and report the story of what good they were able to do with $25 in today's economy.

At the end, have a (ahem) Talent Show. Get everyone in the congregation who has a talent to perform. You know. Call it, "St. Swithin's Got Talent" and charge a small admission fee. Invite the community. Have some fun AND make a few scheckles.

I give him a few more examples like that.

WOW, he says, these are great. I can't wait to take them to my Vestry.

See? he asks. I came to you feeling all down and desperate, and I'm leaving you feeling very hopeful.

See? he asks again. The church is very much like an ice cream truck and we need clergy - even ones that aren't our own - to be the drivers.

An ice cream truck? I ask.


Tuesday, June 16, 2009

You have to be carefully taught

I don't know how he did it, but Doug C. found this very rare footage of me as a baby - before I learned how to write.

I wasn't born this way.

I was very carefully taught.


It just gets curiouser and curioser . . .

You simply can not make this stuff up.

Here's a story from Episcopal News Service about two Southern Illinois Bishops -- that would be Keith "Cry Me A River" Ackerman, recently retired of Quincy, and Peter "What Me Crazy?" Beckwith, still active in Springfield - - who are among the members of newly-announced committees of a proposed Anglican Church in North America, which is holding what it is calling its "inaugural provincial assembly" later this month.

Those 'committees' of which those bishops are members would be part of the ACNA = Anglican Church North America, which was 'blessed' into being by the GAFCON (Global Anglican Futures Conference) Statement in April, saying that they recognize the entity "as genuinely Anglican and recommends that Anglican Provinces affirm full communion with the ACNA."

Ya just gotta love it. What Archbishop of Canterbury? Who needs him?

If the boys in purple over at GAFCON says something is 'genuinely Anglican', well then, by golly, it has to be genuine. They ARE wearing purple shirts, after all, and they do speak with British accents, don't they?

When I was a Roman Catholic we called this "truth by blatant assertion."

Reminds me of that commercial for Smucker's Jam -

"With a name like Smucker's, it's got to be good."

So, who could really blame them for taking the name 'Anglican'?

"With a name like Anglican, it's got to be fudge."

But, oh, pay attention - the liberals and progressives are the 'revisionists' who continue to heap innovations like the ordination of women on the church.

You just can't make this stuff up.

Of course, this is a bit of a run-up to next week's Very Big ACNA Conference in Bedford, Texas - which, of course, is still Episcopal Church property being occupied and claimed ownership by this dissident group, apparently on the legal principle of "possession is 9/10's of the law."

Boy, are they in for a big surprise when they get their day in court.

At the ACNA Conference next week, the group's constitution and canons is expected to be ratified and the deposed Diocese of Pittsburgh's bishop, Robert Duncan, is expected to be elected Archbishop.

I hear the title of a new chapter in this tawdry saga of the History of The Episcopal Church: The Assent of the Dissident Archbishop.

One of the more articulate, polite, intelligent conservatives who regularly visits this blog and occasionally leaves messages left this wee note:

"Oddly enough, however, while it is open season on historic Christology and soteriology, there are some things that are beyond doubt, such as the propriety of ordaining women and the goodness of same-sex sexual relationships. Since we cannot know things for sure, I do not know where this certitude came from, but it is certainly there."

Well, I'm quite certain that 'open season' on the propriety of ordaining women is now closed. Has been for quite some time, my friend. Thirty-five years, in fact.

And, no one ever said anything about the 'goodness of same sex sexual relationships'. At least I've been pretty consistent about saying that there is no greater goodness or evil in same sex sexual relationship than, to quote the former Ms. California, 'opposite sex sexual relationship'.

The only thing the church is being asked to do is to bless the COVENANTS made between two people of the same sex, just as she blesses the COVENANTS made between two people of the opposite sex.

I don't think there is much certainty in this life, but there certainly isn't anything about the future of ACNA or GAFCON that is certain - except for things to get curiouser and curiouser.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Proclamation not Protection:

"If we keep up this legalistic, doctrinal attitude, nothing will be possible in TEC -and we will head toward something much worse than financial bankruptcy - spiritual bankruptcy .

If we keep arguing about what is right in these terms we only delay our demise.

People who think they are protecting the faith are only delaying the death of the body they think they are protecting....

....We need proclamations folks - not protection.

We need adventurous souls not absolutely (there are none anyway) correct ones.

To look carefully means we have to exercise judgment - not keep citing Bible or creed as a way of avoiding judgments ourselves.

Knowledge about history, theology, and geography is only the beginning of wisdom.

It is the wisdom of the holy community we seek and that means we have to have people thinking about the future as well as trying to protect what they presume to be the correctness of the past.

Because we are all human we are going to be in a mess if we believe there is an absolute correctness. There ain't no such thing. It only is approximate at best!"

Walter Cameron Righter
June 15, 2009

I totally nicked this from Lisa Fox's Blog, My Manner of Life.

At the end of our time together with Bishop Barbara Harris at the Women's Commission Celebration on Saturday, we sang that old Civil Right's Song

"Ain't gonna let nobody turn me around."

Our lyrics included:

Ain't gonna let no apathy turn me around.

Ain't gonna let no patriarchy turn me around.

Ain't gonna let no Anglican Covenant turn me around.

Joan Baez, made this song 'popular' in the late 60's and early 70's when the focus was the War in Viet Nam.

I suppose God's Rainbow Tribe would end the song with, "Gonna build a fabulous world."

Make up your own lyrics and sing along with Joan. One warning, however: once you get this song in your head, you'll be singing it all day.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Faith the size of a mustard seed

The parable of the mustard seed (Mark 4:26-34)
II Pentecost – June 14, 2009
The Episcopal Church of St. Paul, Chatham
(the Rev’d Dr.) Elizabeth Kaeton, rector and pastor

I don’t watch much commercial television – mostly because of, well, the commercials. I find most of them an annoying intrusion into my viewing. There is one commercial for the NY lottery, which is particularly annoying. It features a nerdy little guy whose name is “Little Bit of Luck”. He’s not to be confused with “Beginner’s Luck” or “Dumb Luck,” and he’s very possessive of “Lady Luck.”

I know he’s supposed to be entertaining but he is only very annoying.

Sometimes, when people talk about ‘faith’ – especially a ‘little bit of faith’ – that can also sound annoying to some. Especially when you are anxious or fearful and someone comes up and says, “Oh ye of little faith.” Or, repeats the line in today’s gospel parallel about ‘a mustard seed of faith.”

I have found that ‘faith’ is a touchy matter – especially among Christians. Most particularly among Christians who are Episcopalian. And, you certainly don’t want to talk to Episcopalians about faith during times of financial uncertainty. They will hear it as an insult or a challenge almost every time.

Well, guess what? I’m going to talk about faith vs. fear this morning.

It’s time, you know, for us to have this little chat. The economy isn’t turning around as fast as we’d like. We are a culture that grew up on ‘Minute Rice’ which begat the 10 second (albeit annoying commercial), which begat the Sesame St. Generation, which begat technology, which begat the woman at the registration desk at the Y that I met this week who got very annoyed because her computer took 10 whole seconds to call up the information she was seeking.

If there’s a problem, we want it fixed. Now. We don’t necessarily want in depth analysis. We don’t want to wait for more information to come in.

Problem, meet Solution. Done. What’s the problem?

There are now four houses on my street alone with ‘For Sale’ signs in front. Okay, one has to do with an ongoing saga of a messy divorce and the other has to do with a transfer to Connecticut. I’m not certain what the other two are about, but I can guess. The one thing I can tell you is that the mere presence of those four ‘For Sale’ signs has significantly raised the anxiety level in my neighborhood.

People in my neighborhood seem to be talking much more loudly about topics of increasing insignificance – the rain is a Very Big topic of conversation. Everyone is annoyed with it. Everyone wants to know when it will end and when summer is “finally going to arrive”. I smile and say, “Summer will arrive when it’s supposed to. On June 21. Just like it does every year.”

“But, it’s late this year, isn’t it, Rev?” they ask me. “No,” I say, “Actually, it’s right on time,” adding, hopefully, “Just think of how wonderful the rain is for flowers and the ‘Jersey Big Boy’ tomatoes, and all the other plants.”

Not good enough. When talking to me, what they really want divine intervention. “Isn’t there a prayer you can say – something you might prompt ‘The Big Guy’ upstairs to bring on the sun?” I laugh and say, “Have a little patience, O ye of little faith.”

That’s when I see it: a slight flash – just a little bit of a flash - of anger. That’s when I remember that all religious language is symbolic language. That’s when I remember that, many times, when people are engaging me in conversation, they are talking in parables.

We may have been talking about ‘the rain’, you see, but we were really talking about economy. “When will the good times return? When will the economy turn itself around?” are really the questions behind, “Isn’t summer late this year?”

This passage from Mark’s gospel tells us that Jesus “did not speak to them except in parables, but he explained everything in private to his disciples.” Author May Sarton writes that some of our most significant conversations are the ones just below the conversations we are having. She called them ‘crucial conversations’; indeed she wrote a very powerful story with that very title, which I commend to your summer reading list.

It seems to me that the crucial conversations we have been having are all about our anxiety about not being in control. The truth of the matter is that there is not much in this life of which we are in control. However, we have been most adept at creating illusions of control – the insurance industry is but one example.

A sense of loss of control over income can make everything else in your life seem out of control. This week has been especially anxiety provoking for some in this church. So, let me state clearly and from this pulpit: Yes, Tim, our Missioner for Youth and Young Families, is going away for a year. Yes, he is returning after a year. He has made this promise and, as you and I know, he is a man of enormous integrity.

We who are St. Paul’s Church understand that at the core of our identity as a Body of Christ is our mission to Youth and Young Families. We have a clear commitment to that. It’s part of our unique identity. We will hire a full time person to fill in for Tim during the year he is gone. We have promised Tim that he will have a full time position when he returns. That has all been articulated in a ‘Letter of Agreement’ with Tim.

I have every confidence in the world that Tim will keep his promise to us and that, despite the gloomy financial forecast, we can /will keep our promise to Tim. We can only do that - AND keep down our "deficit" budget (which the church calls a "faith" budget), AND get a line item of credit to replace the roof, AND make this building handicap accessible – if we choose faith over fear.

Our culture preaches a gospel of scarcity. Jesus preaches a gospel of radical abundance. The Realm of God, he says, is like scattering seed on the ground and having faith enough to watch it grow. In the economy of God’s Realm, you only need one – just one mustard seed – which is the tiniest of seeds, and yet it grows into the largest, most study of all God’s plants and trees.

I know. Sometimes you see my preaching as being every bit as annoying as that nerdy ‘Little bit of Luck’ guy on the Lottery Commercial. I’m not talking about luck. I’m talking about faith. I’m not talking about gambling with our money. I’m talking about having faith in the abundance promised of God.

In my business we have a saying, “Money follows mission”. As long as we are being true to our mission, money will follow. I don’t know how that works, but after 23 years of ordained ministry, I can tell you with great confidence that I know it to be true.

I also know that we will get through this awful time of financial uncertainty. No, I don’t know when. I only know that, as a nation and a world and a church, we have been through even more difficult financial times as these and we are here today to talk about it. We need to learn some things about our own avarice and greed. We need to learn to reorder our priorities. We need to work to rediscover our faith in God who works not so much through rugged individualism but primarily through community.

We are as Christians, each one of us, seeds of hope, scattered on the common ground of our lives of faith. The seeds of the Realm of God lie deep within each one of us, scattered across the fertile ground of our souls. These seeds will take root, as Jesus says, while we sleep and then rise and we know not how the seed will eventually sprout and grow. That’s part of the mystery of our faith.

I know. It’s annoying not to know how that happens. I only know that it does. So, at the risk of being annoying, here’s what I have to say to you this morning, “Have faith.”

Just a little bit is all you need. The rain will stop and the clouds will disperse. Summer will arrive, eventually. Meanwhile, the seeds of faith are being watered and nourished in your soul. Meanwhile, the seeds of your faith which you had aimlessly scattered are beginning to take root and grow. You just have to look among the weeds of your fear and anxiety to find them.

Soon, you will see a few sprouts – “first the stalk, then the head, then the full grain in the head” – and then, before you know it, it will be time for harvest.