Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Evolution in Georgia

Sunday I went to church in Winder at St. Anthony's Episcopal Church. A very small turn out. The homily on John's "Christmas" gospel was very nice. Seems someone in Winder thinks that perhaps Evolution and Christianity are compatible. Not a popular view, but one worth promoting to those who might be thinking that the every Christian is living in the 14th century or headed for it...

Monday, December 28, 2009

Kyle Monday Update

The patient is having visitors and watching the game at his parents' home today. Swelling is down. No pictures are allowed.... sorry.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Kyle and the Ankle

So here's the story now that I am on a network that lets me type more than 10 letters per minute.

Kyle twisted his ankle at the Spencer house in Dunwoody on Wednesday night. He struggled through Christmas eve and we went to St. Bart's for midnight mass. It was swollen but he was determined and he had some vicodin from a toothache left over.

Christmas Day it was more swollen, but we still assumed a bad sprain since he could stand on it.

By the evening after the family dinner in Winder it became apparent that we had to get help. Neither of us had our insurance cards... but with the help of David Gandell and many call to BC/BS we got a number and a location for urgent care. Saturday morning we went. It took a while but it was the day after Christmas and everyone was wonderful and patient.

He was inside for an hour and emerged... "It's not what we thought and pretty bad," he said.

Seems he has a very bad case of arthritis. There was no sprain, but the aggravation lead to nastiness that was the beginnings of cellulitis. Bottom line: Doctor said. "Lucky you got here today." He put him on Keflex and said if the swelling does not go down or gets any worse in the next 24 hours, he would be admitted to the hospital for IV antibiotics. For the the full course of the antibiotics he must stay on his back with the foot elevated.

Now he's slung up it his dad's study, I am with Koda back in Dunwoody.

The swelling is going down. He's under strict orders not to get up though. We are thanking our respective deities and he will see the doctor in Rochester when we return.

Stay tuned for updates. I can be contacted via facebook and IMed at AIM: RochNYguy


Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas 2009

It has been a blessed year for me. As I prepare for for my annual pilgrimage to St. Bart's in Atlanta for smell and bells and southern belles, male and female, I wish you all a wonderful holiday and a new year that brings you great blessings and during which which you can bless others.

Christmas has become a cliché in our modern lives. It has been turned into a commercial extravaganza, but most disturbingly of late it has become a battle cry for right wing fundamentalist to claim exclusion. They rail that "Merry Christmas" is no longer politically correct.

There are certainly many layers of discrimination to unpack that have been laid upon many for the 2,000 years since Christ's birth.

But can we not pause and recall the birth of a man who brought a very clear message that can be celebrated by people of all faiths? "Love God and your neighbor as yourself," He said. When questioned as to the most important of all the rules previously established in his own Jewish tradition, He said that through these two you can view all the laws and words of the prophets.

Regardless of your faith tradition or theology this simple reduction of our common beliefs are what unite us and through them we can forgive each other the words that have been spoken and deeds that have been done in the name faith to tear us apart.

Let us remember that, nor matter how we have been led astray, no matter how His words have been used to divide, that we were once told that it's not as complicated as we have made it.

This season of joy and throughout the new year, let us remember that which connects us all. Love your neighbor as yourself.



Friday, December 18, 2009

For !00,000 Blessings Campaign

Two pretty lucky guys chat about their marriage and how Integrity and the Episcopal Church have blessed us... and what else needs to happen to lead our church into a place where it can live out it's called.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Silent Monks sing Hallelujah Chorus

UPDATE: This Gay Men's Chorus Classic seems to invaded many a high school chorus.... Alert the AFA!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

A moment of the Triumph of Conscience

When I think of the defeat of Marriage Equality in the Senate of the State of New York on December 2, 2009, this will be the video that will bring tears to my eyes and hope to my heart:


A moment of Conscience Overcome

A moment of Conscience Overcome:

The Albany Times Union Capitol Confidential Blog credits the tremor that started the wave of defeat to the the alphabet. Senator Addabbo, a Democrat committed to voting yes, but a freshman Senator, lost his nerve and voted no. A yes vote was then cast by Adams and the next person to vote was Alesi. He is my senator and the first Republican to vote. He was considered a strong possibility to vote with us. With head in hands, he was obviously influenced by Addabbo cave in and saw his political cover disappear. He thought, was called on a second time and voted, "No."

I would like to say that I feel badly for him, but in times of stress a person of strong ethics and conscience will do the right thing not the politically safe thing. We have talked with Senator Alesi enough to know that he did not vote his conscience, he voted out of political expediency and fear.

The irony here is that his seat is incedibly secure. He has not had a credible challenge in my memory. He is a Roman Catholic, but comes from a very progressive diocese. He is well educated and his district is well educated with several very progressive colleges.

If we don't have our integrity, what do we have?

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Misery needs company

After a gut wrenching gay of watching my senate in action, I feel like crawling back in bed. I will however join others in town to mourn the defeat of marraige equality. Misery doesn't just love company, it needs it. We cannot bear this alone.


We went to a sizable demo in Rochester, given about 5 hours notice that there would even be a vote.

The more we learn the less we respect the local Senators who all voted against civil rights...

More to come.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

A President Speaks

I am not convinced that investing anything more in Afghanistan, shedding one more drop of blood or losing one more life is worth whatever we might achieve.

But I am quite sure that for the first time since I have been alive, I heard a commander-in-chief speak with clarity and maturity to the troops and the nation.

This was no jingoistic, rah-rah presenatation. This was a position clearly presented, and whether or not I believe in the mission, I believe the man. I know that this is an intelligent human being who has listened to all sides, reviewed facts carefully, questioned advisors and made a decision. It is so moving after the last 8 years especially I see some one who is "the decider," not because he says he is but because he acts the part.

He may be wrong. He may not get reelected because he has distanced himself from the left and could do nothing to change the minds of right. He may not get re-elected because he is willing to take a stand that may not be popular but that he believes is right.

I feel somehow more hopeful about the future of this country when this man speaks even when I disagree with what he has to say.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

8 ball says, "Looks Promising"

From the Gay City News comes this analysis.
After a very long day of chaos, passion, and frustration in the New York State Senate, a couldn’t-be-higher stakes meeting that included the governor, senior Democratic lawmakers, and top LGBT advocates was capped by a dramatic announcement offering the best sign yet that marriage equality may become a reality by New Year’s Day.

With the Legislature unprepared to cooperate with Governor David A. Paterson in his push to adopt a budget reduction plan during the extraordinary session he called on November 10, the Senate Democratic leadership spent much of the day in on-and-off caucusing and huddling to answer the question that seemed uppermost on the minds of Albany-watchers Tuesday — whether to bring the marriage equality bill, passed for the second time by the Assembly in May, to the floor for debate and a vote.

Paterson had placed the measure on his calendar for the session, and many dozens of same-sex couples kept vigil all day long in the Capitol hallways outside the Majority Conference offices, chanting, “We deserve a vote, we deserve a vote.”

A vote was not to be — that day, at least. But shortly after 8 p.m., Paterson, four senior Senate Democrats — Jeffrey Klein of the Bronx and Westchester, the deputy majority leader; Eric Adams of Brooklyn; and Manhattanites Eric Schneiderman and Thomas K. Duane, the measure’s lead sponsor — and Alan Van Capelle, the executive director of the Empire State Pride Agenda (ESPA), the state’s LGBT lobby, appeared before the press to announce that the Senate leadership has made a specific commitment to hold a debate and vote on marriage equality before the end of 2009.

The implications cannot be underestimated. Since April, Paterson has consistently called for a vote, which ESPA on several occasions demanded and Duane said repeatedly he has the bipartisan support to pass.


Grover on Marriage

Saturday, October 24, 2009

NPR Satire of the RC Welcome...

Can't miss this from NPR! Where's my checkbook? It's pledge week.

From: outreach@vatican.com

To: Disaffected Anglicans

CC: sheila@vatican.com

Subject: Fed up?

Greetings from Vatican City!

If you're reading this letter, you're probably a lifelong Anglican. You've worked hard at your faith and always played by the rules. But lately you haven't been happy with certain developments. Maybe you're even on the fence about your religion. Sometimes you drive past a Catholic church and wonder, "What goes on in there?"

Consider this your official invitation to find out. Since the Reformation almost 500 years ago, people have tended to emphasize the differences between Anglicans and Catholics. But there are a lot of similarities, too. For example, both Catholics and Anglicans consider themselves adherents of the one true faith, whereas people of other religions generally consider themselves in the top 10.

You're probably saying to yourself, "Changing religions sounds like a lot of work." But we want to assure you we're committed to helping make your transition as smooth as possible. You can even keep driving to your former Anglican church, and we'll pick you up with our free weekend shuttle service. It's all part of the Catholic Church's plan to broaden its earthly ranks, using state-of-the-art technology calibrated to poach top talent from all faiths. (For example, our shuttle service outreach program targeted Ivy League Buddhists with driver's licenses.) For years, we've been sending undercover scouts to churches, temples and mosques, getting the e-mail addresses of decent choir sopranos (we're low on sopranos) and anyone who cringes when something remotely gay happens.

Read it all here.

Bishop Frade (SE Florida) on Roman "welcome"

The Vatican has issued a blanket statement recently "welcoming" disaffected Anglican priests into the Roman Catholic Church. This has long been done on a case-by-case basis but now the "Almost Welcome" mat is out. Oddly Canterbury has issued statements spinning this as a positive move toward unity.

Bishop Leo Frade of the Diocese of SE Florida, recently in the news for welcoming Father Cutie (If my Spanish serves me that's Coo-tee-ay', though he is a cutie as well) from the RC tradition, has released a wonderful letter to his Diocese on this. I picked it up from The Lead - Episcopal Diocese of Washington.

"I have always said that the road between Rome and Canterbury and between Canterbury and Rome gets a lot of traffic. For centuries we have been exchanging clergy, and today the Episcopal Church has many priests—and several bishops–who once were Roman priests. Among our diocesan clergy are six former Roman priests, and we have two who are in the process toward being received as Episcopal priests.

"We have not created a special Roman prelature, or provided them with a lamination of their Roman rites over our Episcopal liturgies; but instead we fully welcome them, married or celibate, as clergy in our Communion. They are not ineligible to be called to the episcopate simply because they came from Rome. They are not second-class clergy, but priests in good standing, with all the benefits and full participation in the life of our Church.

"Let me end by expressing my disappointment with the lack of ecumenical love that the Vatican statement shows. I do not criticize them for receiving our clergy and laypersons, just as we receive theirs, but for their fanfare and promotion of this invitation.

“'Ut unum sint' doesn’t mean that we all may be one under the authority of the Bishop of Rome, but that we all may be one under the ultimate authority of our Lord Jesus Christ. Let us continue to pray for that unity."

- The Rt. Rev. Leo Frade

Friday, October 23, 2009

Western AIDS workers introduce homosexuality to Africa

An African Archbishop has accused Western aid workers of sabotaging African values and leading young African men into homosexuality.

Anti-gay religious Web site LifeSiteNews has posted several articles about the claims made by various African Archbishops, who have accused the West of importing "moral relativism," encouraging promiscuity by promoting condom use to stem the African rate of HIV infection, and giving young men supplies of lubricants so that they might have gay sex.

An Oct. 21 article referenced an interview between a National Catholic Reporter reporter and Archbishop Charles Palmer-Buckle of Ghana, in which Palmer-Buckle, when asked whether "there really [is] a Western campaign to corrupt African values?" declared, "We don’t only suspect that there is a campaign, we think it’s deliberate."

Read it all at EDGE

Micahelangelo on the March on Washington

"The march in fact has only made us all stronger as a movement. We were able to organize in a few months, using new media, and got 200,000 people to D.C. without spending much on traditional advertising. David Mixner is to be lauded for his passion and putting the idea out there. Cleve Jones, for his vision and his steadfastness at doing it quickly and keeping the costs down to a mere $150,000. Robin McGehee, Kip Williams, and all the other young activists, for tirelessly organizing the event and using the Net roots so skillfully.

"We now know it can be done successfully on short notice and for little money. That means a couple of things: We need to continue making a lot of noise — online, but also getting into the streets and protesting everywhere. And we need to march again on Washington — or at least let them know we’re prepared to do so if we don’t see some real action, real soon."

- SiriusXM radio host and activist Michelangelo Signorile, from a lengthy Advocate opinion piece on the ramifications of the National Equality March.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

A Presbyterian on Spong

From the blog Southern Fried Faith comes a reflection on Spong's Manifesto worth reading.
Last week, retired Episcopal bishop, John Shelby Spong, issued a manifesto titled, "The Time Has Come!" In that essay Spong essentially said that for him, enough was enough, especially when it comes to Christian responses to homosexual issues based on a certain reading of the biblical texts and a certain understanding of Christian ethics and how they play out in church life. "I will no longer debate, " he wrote, "the issue of homosexuality in the church with anyone." Period.

I've been mulling over his essay, or as I earlier characterized it, "broadside," for several days. And I've been reading the reactions of others to it, as well. Some agree. Some disagree. Some do both, kind of an "agreement, but..." sort of thing. Statements have appeared like:

"...the battle is NOT won."
"I hate to see him leave the debate..."
"No, the battle is not won!"
"...we must engage people in order to change hearts and minds."

Or, like those words penned by my fellow Presbyterian blogger, John Shuck at "Shuck and Jive" (http://www.shuckandjive.org), "We need more people to follow the lead of Bishop Spong and speak clearly. This clear speech is what is required to penetrate the fog of homophobic propaganda and the hand wringing of the weak-kneed who unwittingly corroborate with it."


The priest of the small Episcopal church I briefly attended a while back was quick to label Spong as a heretic and sometimes, jokingly I trust, call for his burning — along with the Presiding Bishop, et al.

Spong is, by certain standards, a heretic. But then, so am I. And that has nothing to do with his, or mine, view of homosexuality. That view, that understanding, flows from a theological journey. For Spong, traditionally understood theism is a woefully inadequate conception of what we term "God." The Bible is a collection of theological reflections which can inform our own reflections and no more. It is not, in any way typically understood, the Word of God.

read the whole blog here

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

TKQ: On The Catholic Church and Anglican Priests

This is the first in a series. My husband Kyle, in his pithy, southern style issues so many to-the-point quotes that I have decided to start capturing them. So here is the first of "Today's Kyle Quotes" (TKQ)

"Big News! The front page of the New Times has the story. The Pope says that priests who are unhappy with the Episcopal Church can come on over and stay married. Y'all need to say, 'If your tired of your money going to lawyers for pedophiles and promoting the spread of HIV/AIDS come on over [to the Episcopal Church]. We're having a Fire Sale.'"

Gotta Have IT!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Busy, Busy, Busy

Taken a little time off to work on some other projects...

Meanwhile, this is where I have been:

Friday, October 2, 2009

Repression = Hypocrisy

This sort of stuff is used to rail against organized religion. Sadly the real sin is in the way in which "Christians" betray Christ.

From AmericaBlogGay

Three years ago, on September 21, 2006, Raymond J. Lahey, the Catholic Bishop of Antigonish in Nova Scotia, Canada, sent a letter to his parishioners urging them to speak out against same-sex marriage:
I would encourage every adult Catholic to contact your Member of Parliament on this issue and express to him or her your views on the nature of marriage. You can do this by phone or in writing, and you can do it in your own informal and respectful words.

Today, we have so many problems with our social structures that the second chance to correct one of them by reaffirming the specific nature of marriage is a wonderful opportunity for us. We can express ourselves both as Canadians who are not uncaring for the range of persons who comprise our society, and as people who at the same time want to do the right thing.
Now that same Catholic Bishop, Raymond J. Lahey, is in custody on child porn charges.
A former Roman Catholic bishop in Nova Scotia turned himself in to Ottawa police Thursday afternoon and was in custody in the central station cellblock.

Raymond Lahey, 69, who stepped down abruptly on Saturday as the bishop of Antigonish in Nova Scotia, faces charges of possession and importation of child pornography.

Wearing a collared shirt and sweater under a tan jacket, a grim-faced Lahey said nothing as he entered headquarters with his lawyer, Michael Edelson.

Edelson also gave no comment.

An arrest warrant was issued on Wednesday for Lahey, who is well known in Nova Scotia for having orchestrated a high-profile apology and a $15-million, out-of-court settlement to victims who were sexually abused as children by a former priest in the Diocese of Antigonish.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

My Husband on the NY Times "Coming Out" Artcle.

My husband is an amazing man. He has written a bolg entry YOU have to read...

The glaciers melted and left the Great Lakes.
Krakatoa blew its top and sent Europe into a little ice age
Barbra recorded " Color Me Barbra".....

The universe changes, sometimes as slow as melting glaciers, sometimes as fast as a few million kiloton explosion, you have to pay attention, either way.

This Sunday's NYT Magazine has a cover story about gay kids in 2008 : (errrrr, 2009.. time moves slower up here...) READ IT ALL HERE

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Taking on the lies in Maine

In the State of Maine this No on Prop 1 ad takes on the "protect our children" attack head on.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

If only the US were as evolved...

This Spanish Toreador seems comfortable with his own sexuality. I am not endorsing bullfighting, but according to Americablog...

Matador Joselito Ortega will be plugging a club-scene energy beverage called Gay Up and have those words embroidered into his cape in large, red cursive letters....

"I am a bullfighter. That is not going to change. I am going to go out into the ring as I have done until now, to risk my life, and the seven goring wounds on my body prove that," he told The AP Wednesday. "If the gay community welcomes me as an image or a symbol, that is fine."

OK! Now how about the NFL or MLB? San Fransisco 49ers? The Giants?


+Gene and the Decay of Civilization

The Bishop of New Hampshire, The Rt. Rev. V. Gene Robinson, spoke at Momentum Conference about where we find our inner power. I would commend you to watch a 5 minute clip at the link below below.

I was taken aback once more by his story of death threats, especially a revelation that the NH polices arrested a man in January of this year with a sawed-off shot gun and an Internet generated set of directions to his house.

The lack of civil discourse in our "discussions" of health care has been high on my list of concerns about society. But +Gene's reminders about the constant death threats starts one digging for the roots of our civilization's decay. I would contend that there is something rotten that needs to removed, a cancer that cannot be allowed to grow.

It does not escape me that the people who want Gene Robinson dead probably are saying the same thing, and many in the name of the same God in whom I believe.

Gene understands that or each of us there is a "True Compass." He does not use this phase, but it is the title of Edward M. Kennedy's autobiography, and the late senator's deep faith is what drove him to champion the reversal of injustices.

Religion at it's best helps us to see the big picture, draw us into communion, community, and civilization. It is, as presented in Dan Brown's new book, the basis of a Masonic belief that finding commonalities that bring us together spiritually is the mortar of civilization.

Surely those who preach segregation through religion, for that is what any claim to knowing who is in and who is out amounts to, are making great progress in our country. Those who preach Armageddon and a "left behind" understanding of The Bible are in danger of creating a self-fulfilling prophecy.

This is a religious and a secular issue. There are talk show hosts who encourage demonizing the opposition. They make excuses for assault rifles at public gatherings. They encourage racist images and fascist references. Their prophecies are in danger of becoming fulfilled as well.

So I ask, what is the cancer that must be removed from society in your mind? Is it really +Gene Robinson?

Watch +Gene HERE

Coming Out in Middle School - NYTM

The New York Times Magazine will publish an article on "Coming Out in Middle School" this Sunday. For most LGBT people in generation middle school (AKA junior high) was hell on earth. It still is at least purgatory, but kids ate coming out younger. The resources that are available make this possible.
Going online broke through the isolation that had been a hallmark of being young and gay, and it allowed gay teenagers to find information to refute what their families or churches sometimes still told them — namely, that they would never find happiness and love.
And given the fact that a young man in Ohlahoma is featured, I found this amazing:
In one corner, a short, perky eighth-grade girl kissed her ninth-grade girlfriend of one year. I asked them where they met. “In church,” they told me.
So we turn these people away, because?

Read the full article HERE.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Broadway Impact buses to DC

The buses are full... but if you are in NYC you can sponser one!

March for Equailty update

There will be a bus from Rochester. Get aboard!

And you can get on a bus in Rochester for $60/person. Click HERE to find out how. Kyle and I will be riding!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

End of Summer Outside Stuff

This growing season has been amazing! It has meant weeding has been a bear... especially after being out of town for a month. But the reward is that one of the "reblooming" irises actually did! Immortality is said to be a reliable rebloomer is more temperate climes, but this is only the second season I have seen it preform in Rochester.

Meanwhile I have finally tackled dividing the iris in one bed.

Next year will probably not be as spectacular as this year was, but the tangled mess of rhizomes had to be attacked. Hard for me to throw out as much as I did, but it was also the only way to get red of the grasses that were tightly woven among the roots. I dug up 4 varieties completely, treated the area with Round-up weed killer and replanted the divided clumps a few days later.

Four new beds were planted by using Round-up and then hand-digging out the area of the remaining roots.

The hideous lean-to is a little less hideous thank to the wall/fence I built. YES, I BUILT. The testosterone treatments have finally kicked in...

It's almost done!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Facts? We don't need no stinking facts!

This chart is compiled from information presented, as stated from the World Health Organization and presented in an article "The brutal truth about America's health care" from The Independent (UK).

It would seem that this data quite well documents the inefficiency of Health Care in the US. That would be the response from an reasonable individual. Facts are facts, right?

Below follows a post which is very revealing of the mentality with which facts are received in the current state of what passes for "debate." This was a response posted to a blog according to a friend of mine. The data is real. The response may be apocryphal, or it may be, we can only hope, satire:

ndependentusa wrote:‹
Saturday, 15 August 2009 at 01:42 am (UTC)
As an American living in the rugged state of Arizona, be it known that us American's consider Britain our closest ally and friend. In spite of our first American Revolution in the late 1700's, Americans today, have a special friendship and respect for the people of England and the UK.

The actual TRUTH from terra firma on this side of the pond is simply this:

A majority of Americans DO NOT want universal health care as you have in England. If England's people feel their system serves them well, so be it.

We do not want a government run, socialized healthcare system period. This issue has polarized the American people based on an ugly past of slavery and racism. Minorities in America want free handouts, and "Dis-advantaged" status from our government. The working middle class of America do not want to pay for handouts to the poor and ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS period.

We the people in the United States are currently in a fight for our lives and Liberty again. Our government is trying to force Progressive and Liberal ideas down our throats, while they have been slowly cooking us in a pot of liberalism over the past 30 years.

Progressive and Liberal ideas have slowly infiltrated every aspect of our society over the last 3 decades, and average American people are starting to now understand what is happening.

Americans are starting to understand the CODE WORDS that progressives are using to try and re-frame all speech and ideas, and laws with: DIVERSITY, INCLUSIVENESS, MULTI-CULTURAL, SOCIAL JUSTICE, ECONOMIC PARITY, GENDER EQUALITY, AFFIRMATIVE ACTION, ETC, ETC.

All of these terms are basically mean REDISTRIBUTION OF WEALTH.

We are undergoing a second REVOLUTION to erradicate the INSIDIOUS institutions of the Progressives and the left wing Liberals, and to reclaim true LIBERTY AND FREEDOM across our land.

We Americans have empathy with our friends in England, and think that it is wrong of your government to CENSURE englander's FREE SPEECH. SPEECH CODES ARE SIMPLY WRONG. WE MUST ALLOW ALL TYPES OF SPEECH, EVEN WHEN THEY ARE LABELED AS "HATE SPEECH", in order to hear ALL ideas period.

We draw the line on free speech when a DIRECT THREAT TO SOMEONES LIFE IS MADE.

Most of our media is controlled by PROGRESSIVE thinking people.

The main source of TRUTH in our media right now is FOX NEWS CHANNEL period.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

How Not to Get an Opinion

Here is a poll from website Onenewsnow. The article heading referred to this as a poll on "ObamaCare." Do you think that they really want my input?

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Death of Senator Kennedy and Civil Discourse

Today, without fear of using hyperbole, is the end of an an era. Senator John McCain is one of the contemporaries of Senator Ted Kennedy that get this. In spite of his many philosophical differences with the Kennedy, he recently stated that there were few if any members of the Senate who could replace him and that if he were able to be present and active in the Senate now that health care reform would be in a "very different place."

As we watch Senator Kennedy eulogized today we here from those who talk about his fierce passion and his gentle compassion. While publicly battling issues "The Lion of The Senate" spent time offering personal support for those on both sides of the aisle.

The concept of agreeing to disagree is lost on too many. Respectful, civil discourse is in grave danger. I have bemoaned the demise of civil discourse many times and here is a town hall meeting with the aforementioned candidate for President of The United States of America as he attempts to show respect for the man who is President of The United States of America.

Edward M. Kennedy 1932 - 2009


Rest in Peace and Rise in Glory
Champion of Civil Rights and Social Responsibility

Friday, August 21, 2009

Racism, Classism, Xenophobia and Health Care

Sadly this debate has brought out the worst side of the jingoistic crowd in our country. The debate has been swallowed by blatant racism, class-ism and xenophobia. A man talks about the success of universal health care in Israel and a woman in the background shouts "Heil Hitler." There seems to be no problem with wearing a loaded gun, even a semi-automatic, to a town hall meeting or even an appearance of the President. People lie about parts of the legislation and use inflammatory language to do it such as "death panel."

The fear that we will support undocumented aliens is an example. We already do that and they are billed twice as much for services as insured patients. When they can't pay... well eventually someone pays.

This is the most un-American time in recent history. We are edging toward giving radical right wing groups real power and supporting independent militia. Scary times.

Does it have anything to do with the fact that there is a black man in the White House? I think it has everything to do with that. Many of these people want to see him fail even at the expense of dismissing real American Values.

They just want to wear us down. Don't let it happen. Continue to support real reform and call your congress person.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

I Guess TEC Dodged an Earthquake in Anaheim

John Piper, pastor at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, wrote a blog post today interpreting a recent tornado in Minneapolis as a sign that Jesus Christ, who "controls the wind, including all tornados," sent down a twister because the Lutheran Church is considering lifting restrictions on gay clergy at a convention there this week.

MinneapolistornadoThe tornado damaged portions of the convention center where the Lutherans are meeting as well as the steeple of the Central Lutheran Church.

Concludes Piper: "The tornado in Minneapolis was a gentle but firm warning to the ELCA and all of us: Turn from the approval of sin. Turn from the promotion of behaviors that lead to destruction. Reaffirm the great Lutheran heritage of allegiance to the truth and authority of Scripture. Turn back from distorting the grace of God into sensuality. Rejoice in the pardon of the cross of Christ and its power to transform left and right wing sinners."

Lutheran Shortly after the storm hit, the 1,014 Lutherans passed a social statement by a one vote margin:

"The social statement is a long document that essentially says that the church will agree to disagree on the issue of same-sex relationships, but will neither punish congregations that decide to bless such relationships nor force congregations that reject blessing same-sex couples. 'This church also acknowledges that consensus does not exist concerning how to regard same-gender committed relationships, even after many years of thoughtful, respectful, and faithful study and conversation,' the statement says in part. “'We do not have agreement on whether this church should honor these relationships, uplift, shelter and protect them, or on precisely how it is appropriate to do so.' But LGBT Lutherans are hailing the vote, which came in at 676 to 338, exactly the 66.67 percent margin needed."

From TowleRoad

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Here's WHY this Towm Hall Meeting Crap is Happening:

FB Readers Click Title then "View Original Post" to see entire entry:

Twice as many people watch Fox as CNN and MSNBC combined. Presumably many of them rely on a single source for their information.

And then the is the radio:

Pray for this Country, These People....

From Joe.My.God:

At a Las Vegas town hall meeting, a woman yells "Heil Hitler!" at an Israeli immigrant speaking about his home country's national health care. She does this while the man is live on the air with a local television station. This country is lost.

You go BARNEY!

At a town hall meeting a questioner asked Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) if he supported the Nazi-like policies of "Obama" and then displayed a picture of The President with a Hitler style mustache.

Frank's response, "On what planet to spend most of your time?"

Sometimes it apparently takes a "sissy" to say it like it is.


Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The 1928 final revision of the BCP

I received a letter from the Episcopalians for Traditional Faith opining the work of General Convention. No surprise there.

Their Raison d'ĂȘtre is to promote use of the Book of Common Prayer 1928. I clicked on the link displayed. It correctly displayed www.etf1928.org but when I clicked on it www.1928.org. And here is part of what was displayed:

Sponsored listings

My memories of the 1928 Prayer Book are fond. I like an occasional glance through it. It's in my historical collection. If I collected cars I am sure I would treasure a 1928 Ford, but probably not rely on it to go further than a local visit.

I am currently reading Leviticus. What a fascinating look at what the Lord told the people of Isreal wandering the desert. Would I rely on visiting my priest to have my boils and rashes checked? Probably not in 2009.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Health Care, Pass it on

What follows is a health care e-mail (forwarded and forwarded etc.) I received followed by a response which I returned as a reply all. All capitalization and overuse of exclamation marks is original. And the twisting of the truth goes on....

Sent: Thursday, August 13, 2009 8:02 AM
Subject: Fwd: FINALLY. THE $64,000 ? WAS ASKED

(Picture of President Obama in Interview)

My response:

Dear (deleted),

Please pass this back along the forwarding route.

I believe that under the plan proposed there is a public option (or should be) for those who DO NOT HAVE ACCESS to any other healthcare from their employer or cannot afford health care. Do any of you fall into that category? Congress does not (Although my congressman does not take the plan currently offered congress because he has a better plan already.)

But the real question $128,000 question has been asked and not answered by those opposed to health care reform. It was asked by a guy from Canada in one of the nasty blog discussions that I followed. "If single payer universal health in Canada (or Sweden or the UK or... pick your place) is so horrible, then why aren't there mobs of people calling for the heads of the legislature... or even any legislation proposed that they return to privately controlled plans? We are talking about democracies folks.

So maybe the problem is not who gets what but how much of the truth we hear after the information is twisted and distorted by the insurance lobbying groups. They are the only ones who will lose here.

I attended a local town hall meeting. Lies went unchallenged. Civil Discourse was repressed. The news covered the man who cried about how his tax money would go to "killing babies." This is untrue. The Hyde act prohibits it. The news coverage didn't mention that. The news coverage also did not cover the woman who told of her sister, gainfully employed with great health insurance she was laid off. She found a new job but had to buy her own insurance. She was wiling to pay anything. But she is a Type 1 Diabetic. No one will insure her.

The first speaker said that he knew of no one that had not access to health care. Probably true. He lives in a privileged world where that is probably true. But 40% of Americans are without health care. Whether they can't afford it, are gambling that they won't need it or can't get it due to a pre-existing condition we all pay for this. Many of these people use the Emergency Room as their primary care physician. This is the most costly and least efficient health care. We all pay for this in increased cost of care, increased cost of insurance or, in rare cases, in the inability to use an ER for what it is really intended. Even of that only cost a few lives a year, that's a few lives too many.

So while we go on without adequate health insurance in our country some are using scare tactics, half-truths and lies to stonewall progress. Most of these people are hapless shills of organized lobbying by groups that they don't know about and would be aghast if they realized what they were doing.

And, yes we need torte reform too so that Doctors can avoid ridiculous insurance costs and they should be paid at level commensurate with their skill and education. The money that is going to health insurance should be going to health care.

Neil Houghton


Neil Houghton
3873 Rush Mendon Road
Mendon, NY 14506

My blog: http://nhoughton.blogspot.com/

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Annual Report from Pompanuck

Again this year Kyle and I were welcomed into the Gandell Family reunion at Pompanuck. The full name is Pompanuck Farm Institute. This delightful place is in the foothills of the Adirondacks and within a few miles of the Vermont border near Cambridge, NY.

Every year we join our adopted family. The beautiful roundhouse is where we stay in the room under the stairs. It's much bigger than Harry Potter's. The commercial kitchen is turned into a behive of activity as folks take turns cooking their specialty. The meals produced by David and Joyce Dean are nothing short of miraculous. This year he arrived in a rented mini-van filled to overflowing with groceries from a decimated Price Chopper. The cuisine ranges from tex-mex to upscale cajun. Over the years he has seen to the import of dishes and glassware to suit his presentation. This year it was square white plates for 24 and beautiful bordeaux glasses.

Dahn has in the past done authentic Tuscan cuisine. She spent a week in Tuscany at a cooking school. Kyle is the master of southern comfort food. His pork roast, collards, onion gravy, a salad of cucumbers and artichokes... you can check all the details at Kyle's blog.

As I write at midweek, the Halpern's are leaving for NYC (Fort Lee, NJ actually). Dahn's brother Dave and Darcy are on their way. And so it goes all week. Great food, fun and interesting people. The young adults, the kids, David's sister Ruth and her husband Leo from Chicago.

The thunderstorms just passed and the sun is out. The search for the snapping turtle in the pond continues.

We always discuss a book. This year Dara Horn's The World to Come is our novel and Deep Survival is our nonfiction selection.

In Horn's novel a painting by Marc Chagall is stolen by Ben, who remembers it hanging it his house as a child. This seminal event brings us into a riveting story of the family's history which starts in early twentieth century Russian and the pogroms that drove out the Jews. I was only familiar with this from Fiddler on the Roof, based on the stories of Shalom Aleichem. I learned much more about the story tellers who wrote in Yiddish. What is "the world to come?" Read this author's Jewish perspective. It believe it was the first story I have read that took place in a Jewish-presumptive world. Very worth the read.

Deep Survival was not my cup of tea. The authors points are well taken but he glorifies foolishness for the sake of thrills. "Flying a plane upside down 10 feet off the ground in the mountains" seems to be something he recommends. He also talks about the attributes of those who survived the World Trade Center disaster by acting counter intuitively in a way that seems somehow demeaning to the event.

At home I am planning to expand my iris/daylily beds. For the price of separting some rhizomes and sharing some of my irises at home, I will have new stock for the project.

Darcy's minute dog (a teacup poodle?) pees on two legs. She walks on her front feet as she does this.

The snapping turtle in the pond has been captured. His or her fate is unsure.

Rep. Massa Supports Single Payer Universal Health Care

Congressperson Eric Massa (D-NY) announced his support of a Single-Payer Universal Health Care this week. This will not be widely well received. I encourage you to show your support! Here's the letter I sent:

Thank you for your support of "Single Payer" National Health Care Insurance. For your information the Episcopal Church's General Convention, meeting this summer in Anaheim, CA, passed the following resolution supporting your position.

* FINAL VERSION - Concurred
Resolution: D048
Title: Adoption of a "Single Payer" Universal Health Care Program
Topic: Health Care
Committee: 09 - National and International Concerns
House of Initial Action: Deputies
Proposer: The Rev. Gary Commins

Resolved, the House of Bishops concurring, That the 76th Convention of the Episcopal Church urge passage of federal legislation establishing a "single payer" universal health care program which would provide health care coverage for all of the people of the United States; and be it further

Resolved, That the General Convention direct the Office of Government Relations to assess, negotiate, and deliberate the range of proposed federal health care policy options in the effort to reach the goal of universal health care coverage, and to pursue short-term, incremental, innovative, and creative approaches to universal health care until a "single payer" universal health care program is established; and be it further

Resolved, That the Episcopal Church shall work with other people of good will to finally and concretely realize the goal of universal health care coverage; and be it further

Resolved, That church members and the Office of Government Relations communicate the position of the Episcopal Church on this issue to the President and Members of Congress, and advocate passage of legislation consistent with this resolution.


The Episcopal Church, along with several other denominations in the National Council of Churches, previously called upon the Congress and the President to ensure universal access to health care for all people in the United States by the end of 2006.

That deadline has now passed, and the situation is worse than ever. More than 47 million people in the U. S. are currently without health insurance, more than 75 million went without for some length of time within the last two years, and millions more have inadequate coverage or are at risk of losing coverage. People of color, immigrants and women are denied care at disproportionate rates, while the elderly and many others must choose between necessities and life sustaining drugs and care. Unorganized workers have either no or inadequate coverage. The Institute of Medicine has found that each year more than 18,000 in the U. S. die because they had no health insurance.

While we in the United States spend more than twice as much of our gross domestic product as other developed nations on health care ($7,129 per capita), we remain the only industrialized country without universal coverage, and the United States performs poorly in comparison on major health indicators such as life expectancy, infant mortality and immunization rates.

Almost one-third (31 percent) of the money spent on health care in the United States goes to administrative costs. Single-payer financing is the best way to recapture this wasted money. The potential savings on paperwork, more than $350 billion per year, are enough to provide comprehensive coverage to everyone without paying any more than we already do.

Under a single-payer system, all Americans would be covered for all medically necessary services, including: doctor, hospital, long-term care, mental health, dental, vision, prescription drug and medical supply costs. Patients would regain free choice of doctor and hospital, and doctors would regain autonomy over patient care.
Physicians would be paid fee-for-service according to a negotiated formulary or receive salary from a hospital or nonprofit HMO / group practice. Hospitals would receive a global budget for operating expenses. Health facilities and expensive equipment purchases would be managed by regional health planning boards.
A single-payer system would be financed by eliminating private insurers and recapturing their administrative waste. Modest new taxes would replace premiums and out-of-pocket payments currently paid by individuals and business. Costs would be controlled through negotiated fees, global budgeting and bulk purchasing.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Tim Horton's Fixed!

They have reversed their decision... Within minutes of my letter beings sent. Y'all are welcome! Here it is from JMG.
Congratulations! All your emails and phone calls were heard. From the Tim Hortons corporate site:
Recently, Tim Hortons was approached in Rhode Island to provide free coffee and products for a local event, as we do thousands of times a year across Canada and the United States. For 45 years, Tim Hortons and its store owners have practiced a philosophy of giving back to the communities in which we operate. As a company, our primary focus is on helping children and supporting fundraising events for non-profit organizations and registered charities.

For this reason, Tim Hortons has not sponsored those representing religious groups, political affiliates or lobby groups. It has come to our attention that the Rhode Island event organizer and purpose of the event fall outside of our sponsorship guidelines. As such, Tim Hortons can not provide support at the event. Tim Hortons and its store owners have always welcomed all families and communities to its restaurants and will continue to do so. We apologize for any misunderstanding or inconvenience this may have caused.
And now NOM is "saddened" because their agenda is apolitical and their membership open to people of all faith. Apolitical. Really?

Tim Horton's supports NOM

From JMG we read:
Tim Hortons, the Canadian doughnut chain with over 500 locations in the U.S., is sponsoring a National Organization for Marriage anti-gay event in Rhode Island, at which the featured speaker will be the reptilian Maggie Gallagher herself. Wesli Dymoke at Providence Daily Dose is floored:
Yes, Tim Hortons. The Dunkin Donuts of Canada. You know, Canada — where same-sex marriage has been legal nationwide since 2005 (and since 2003 in Tim’s home, Ontario). What in the world are they doing sponsoring something like this? Their site says that they support “local initiatives that make a difference” — such as little leagues, Halloween safety, and the like. And that they sponsor community initiatives with a focus on “helping children and supporting fundraising events for non-profit organizations and registered charities.” But not “those representing religious groups [or] political affiliates,” such as.. well, how would you characterise a group like NOM?
Truth Wins Out notes that despite the above-cited corporate rule, donations are often made at the discretion of local franchisees. Contact the Tim Hortons corporate office and let them know how you feel about their Rhode Island outlet's sponsorship of Maggie Gallagher's hate fest.
My response to "Contact Us"
My husband and I (yes, I am male) were married in Canada. We visited there often and when Tim Horton's moved into the US it felt like a little bit of Canada was closer.

Now we are told that a franchise in Rhode Island is supporting the anti-marriage equality NOM (National Organization for Marriage). I don't care if it's $5 or $5000. Say it isn't so. We'll be back to Dunkin Donuts until we here this has been stopped. And we will miss our little bit of Canada.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Divsion of the Iris

For Myrte and Scott and Lisa... presents from my garden.

Just before leaving for Pompanuck I remembered that I promised Myrte some irises that she had admired. Earlier this year she was a up when the yard was in full bloom and she joined us for our June pilgrimage to Borglum's Iris Farm. I dug in and divided three cultivars that she had admired. It's my first time to do this and it was way overdue! One single rhizome planted 4 years ago yielded 20 rhizomes. So when I return the job will continue. Click here to see the almost 50 varieties I have. Some are named, others I don't know their names and some Dana Borglum said.. you name it! He has a large area from seedlings he has crossed or allowed nature to generate.

The first is one surely is named. I have had it in my yard for 6 years. This was before I started labeling. It is a beautiful rich burgundy red with velvety falls and matte standards. Until I find an exact match, it is "Neil's Red."

"Honky Tonk Blues" is one that took a lot of searching to match. It is about 6 years old as well and has been divided with less care than I took this time. Ruffles of primary to pastel blue and heavily laden stems make it an easy to grow winner.

The beautiful shades of earthy beige standards with a dusty rose throat and falls that are mindful of the purple mountains majesty make "Mother Nature" a bouquet in one bloom.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Finally on our way to Pompnuck. Dahn, if you are reading this, don't hold dinner.

Friday, August 7, 2009

An open Letter to the Episcopal Diocese of Albany

I come to this with an agenda. I am a Vice President of Integrity USA. Our stated purpose is the claim "all the sacraments for all the baptized."

So, full disclosure.

Having said that I have a very honest question. What is it that separates my diocese (Rochester) from your diocese? OK.... 200 miles... but I was asking theologically or rather broader than that.

I am a member of a rather small, semi-rural congregation where 12-15 people will show up at the Gay Pride parade. I know that as soon as the state allows same-sex marriages and the diocese comes to terms with this, they will dance at my wedding. Our Diocesan Convention passed a resolution last year supporting marriage equality.

It is my understanding that in your diocese there were resolutions passed forbid blessings of same-sex couples and the use of diocesan property for such. I understand that your clergy is forbidden to participate in these events.

So again, what separates us? There is not a monolithic point of view on the part of the parishioners in our diocese. I suspect that neither is their agreement with all the people in your diocese.

I expect that we all take the Bible seriously but like most Episcopalians few of us read it daily. I expect that beyond being a place of worship our churches are place where our family of choice gathers. We run capital campaigns, do community outreach and do our best as human beings to love God and each other as ourselves.

Chances are that there are as many LGBT people in Albany (by percentage) as in Rochester. I would guess that, based on your public positions, there may be fewer in your pews...

But beyond that what makes our Dioceses so different?

Just asking a question that might feed the dialogue in which we all say we want to engage.

Dig Your Own Daylilies

It was our second trip to Borglum's Iris Farm this year. June is for Irises and August for Daylilies. These are the very nicest people! Dig your own. $8 for a huge clump that an easily be split into 2-4 plants. Even if you don't buy a thing it is worth the trip. For more info click here.

Our Local Town Hall Meeting on Health Care Reform

Got to Honeoye Falls an hour early. The meeting had been move to a larger venue and people were lined up. Eventually it was moved outside. Cars were parked a 1/2 mile down the road by the time it was underway. Probably 500+. The comments were predominantly opposed but because of rude shouts it was hard to estimate the real balance. More spoke against than for.

After establishing rules of conduct, Rep. Massa opened by saying that there was was no mention of abortion and that explained the truth surrounding the euthanasia lie. He also said that in its current state he could not support the bill. There was a great imbalance of benefit to NYS that needed to be fixed ... and he wants a public option.

Eric Massa was very generous in allowing people to make speeches before they got to a question. Much more than I believe was appropriate.

The first questioner set the tone for a disconnect with reality and the "color" of the crowd. "I don't know anyone who can't get health care." Probably a true statement in the white male privileged world in which this guy and the majority of the crowd lives. Although Massa's response did not really challange the man's assumption, but later he did get the cogent point that many people without health care were using Emergency Rooms for primary care is the most inefficient and least cost affective way to get health care.

One speaker identifying herself as an Emergency Care Physician, whith lab coat and with a stethescope over her shoulder told us that it is government control that is closing down... huh? As if we did would not believe her claim without the costume. (Later I asked her personally if health care via Emergency Room wasn't an expensive alternative... and she said said that was not true!)

Another emergency care physician later debunked her and did it well without a lab coat.

Then the was the RTL man who cried about how babies would be killed with his tax dollars. Massa patiently explained again that the bill did not say anything about abortion and that the Hyde Act would not be effected which provides protection against what he is concerned about. He cried and interrupted and said he was being dishonest... and of course the media covered him.

Another woman told of her sister who could not get insurance because she was diagnosed with diabetes. The crowd was moved to silence... and of course the media did not report this.

Those opposed were constantly trying to blame everything on "Obama." Never once was he refered to as President Obama or even the President. It made me think that many of these people are opposed to health care reform or think they are for a completely unrelated reason. They are angry because there is an African-American Democrat in the White House.

And today they are showing their true colors. As the unemployment rate actually dropped bit they say it couldn't possibly have anything to due with the economic stimulus package...

Daylilies From 2009

Here us a sample of my daylilies this year. Click here for the full album.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Were we at the Same Meeting?

NBC's local news coverage of a the Town Hall meeting on Health Care Reform begs the age old media question, "Were they at the same meeting I was?" Eric Massa said he would not support the bill as written. What they did not say is that he wants a public option... a statement he made with no ambiguity in the face of a crowd that was about 70-30 in opposition to any reform.

There was footage of a man who cried about the abortions that would be funded under this bill.. and then there was Massa's statement that there was nothing about abortion in the bill. Only problem was that was one of his opening statements, an hour before this overought guy started challenging every reasuring response form Congressman Massa.

ABC's local coverage was even less specific. Surprising given that they are a "Clear Channel" franchise.

All in all there was certainly passion and a few rude interuptions from both sides... but it was, after watching the national news and bloggers, much more civil than not.

Massa was a class act.

When the Ents March

In what I believe to be a commentary on LGBT activism in General and the March for Equality in Washington on Oct 11 specifically, I steal a post from my dear friend and fellow Tolkienista, Chap James Day:

One of my favorite parts of the Lord of the Rings, is when the Ents, a peaceful ancient race of tree shepherds that resemble trees, upon noticing the destruction of the forest by the White Wizard Saruman, march to war against his tower at Isengard. Normally the Ents would leave the wars of man and elf alone. The image is moving, and speaks to the injustices of the world, and to those who would rather not get involved because they do not see how it directly effects them. It is not until they are themselves hurt, that reaction is warranted.

I feel also called to think about the march itself. I am not one who would every consider war, and I usually take a lot of hitting before I bite, to use an archaic image of a dog with mean master. Yet, now I feel as if I may be marching. To war? I hope not. To justice, maybe a bit presumptuous to assume I could ever bring justice. Still I am marching out of what I feel is indignant acts, in protest, and in assertion of my rights.

Now is the time when the Ents march, and I wonder if you yourself are considering the journey, and who makes up your fellowship.

This Ent is pulling up roots!

Civil Discourse... right.

Kyle and I are going to a Town Hall Meeting on health care reform held by our Representative, The Honorable Eric Massa tonight. We have watch the tactics used at many of these events by the opponents to heath care reform. Hopefully there will be real civil discourse, but the moon is full.

In our our own fora we don't do such a good job however. As readers will know Queerty actually reported on the presence of three openly gay candidates in upcoming elections for Bishop. Two are up for Suffragan Bishops in Los Angeles and one for the eighth Bishop of Minnesota.

Now Queerty is a rather secular... OK, rather bawdy (but not lewd or pornographic) website... so their snide presentation of the news should not have surprised me. But what is very telling is the comment section to which I contributed. one commentary refers to the lowest common denominator as the target audience. Unfortunately that is a sad, but true commentary on the dicussion.

Regardless of religion's role in the horrific treatment of LGBT people there is no ground to be ceded to any attempts to right those wrongs. Perhaps what religion's real sin has been is to birth to absolutists both within and without. There is no gradiation on any issue of these people,

You can read the lack of civil discourse here.
At the dentist... Both of us in one week.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Bishop Beckwith on "ism" and baseball

The Strike Zone, Professor Gates and the Archbishop

The Rt. Rev. Mark Beckwith, Bishop of Newark

One of the important things baseball players need to learn early each game is the dimension of the home plate umpire’s strike zone. The rule bookspells it out, but in reality the strike zone is whatever the umpire says itis. The players have to figure out if the umpire’s zone runs a bit high,or favors pitches that are low. Players adapt to the umpire’s perspective – and calibrate their split-second decisions to swing or not to swing accordingly. A relative harmony exists if the umpire is consistent. But if the umpire changes the strike zone in the course of a game, players get disoriented and squawk, managers kick up dust – and home plate umpires have the authority to toss offenders off the field, which they do with great

A couple of weeks ago, Professor Henry Louis Gates of Cambridge, Massachusetts and Harvard University, no doubt felt that the local strike zone had radically changed when, after having difficulty getting the key to open the door of his house, a Cambridge policeman appeared in his kitchen (having being alerted to a possible break-in) and demanded identification.

Professor Gates squawked -- and the officer/umpire handcuffed him and carted him down to the station. Charges were soon dropped when details were sorted out, but conversation about the incident – in print, on the air, in the Rose Garden and around kitchen tables all over the country, has continued, often with great passion.

And well it should. Yet from where I sit – and squawk, the conversation should not be about the details of the incident – or whether or not Professor Gates or Officer Crowley is racist; but on the dimensions of the strike zone of civil rights. The Constitution has spelled those dimensions out, and decades of civil rights laws have reinforced them; but in reality one’ s civil rights are whatever an umpire says they are. And for decades, no – for a couple of centuries, the umpire– be it the police department, the school system, the church, a corporation or a community association, has been taught to favor those who are white and punish those who are not.

Most of us have learned this cultural prejudice – and have adapted to it. We need to unlearn it. We need to create a strike zone for civil rights that is fair and consistent for everyone. Our diocesan mandate to anti-racism training speaks to this need for learning and change. It is hard work, because habits die hard. But it is necessary work; indeed it is Gospel work. In response to the number of conversations that have been generated as a result of the Cambridge incident, we are thinking of renaming our work anti-racism “dialogue” rather than “training”, to dispel any illusion that a training can provide some sort of certification that renders one an
expert. We are all life-long learners on this one.

Around the same time that the Cambridge incident took place, Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, wrote a twenty-six paragraph response to two actions of General Convention, which offered pastoral generosity to same gender blessings and full inclusion of gay and lesbian people at all levels of ministry. Perhaps out of need, and certainly because of circumstance, the Archbishop has become the de facto umpire for the wonderfully diverse, deeply faithful yet fractious Anglican Communion. Clearly, he wants to hold the Communion together. To his credit, the Archbishop is deliberate in thought – and in expression. He is a gifted scholar. He draws on the
insight from scripture and the clarity of prayer. Yet in two places, he refers to homosexuality as a lifestyle (“their chosen lifestyle is not one that the Church’s teaching sanctions [paragraph 8]; “it is that a certain choice of lifestyle has certain consequences” [paragraph 9]). His phrases cause me to squawk, because the Archbishop has tried to change the strike zone.

Homosexuality is not an issue of lifestyle; it is a matter of identity. We don’t choose our identity; we are challenged to claim our identity as God ’s gift to us. The Church that I have chosen to serve is about the mission of helping all of God’s children claim and celebrate their identity asimago dei – as created in the image of God. The heartbreak for so many these past decades is that countless numbers of people have been taught to hide or deny their sexual identity – or have been pressured to choose a lifestyle that keeps anxious and angry umpires at bay, at the expense of their soul’s health and their true giftedness.

The Episcopal Church has made a rather courageous decision to reverse this trend, to be honest about who we are as a church -- and to affirm the giftedness of all among us. We are daring to create a strike zone that provides opportunity to all, and does linguistic violence to none.

Snagged from a listserv... I will update source as soon as available.

Update: From a letter to the Diocese of Newark at the Diocesan Website.