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'être is to promote use of the Book of Common Prayer 1928. I clicked on the link displayed. It correctly displayed but when I clicked on it 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:

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.

Monday, August 3, 2009

And the Debate Goes On...

Meanwhile back at Queerty the angry anti-religionists continue to blame and judge. I guess that my point, "Beware of those with answers," was lost.

My last comment:

There are clearly people on here who are convinced that they are "in the know." They have they answers. The know what God thinks or they know that religion is evil. To me this is the definition of "wing nuts." They exist at both extremes.

Religion, God, Jesus, Mohammed, the Hebrew Prophets have been used to justify hateful, bigoted behavior throughout history.

These same entities and people have been used to inspire great works of art and great acts of love and charity.

You don't need religion to accomplish either of the above but for some people it supplies the catalyst. In my understanding of God through Jesus Christ that love and charity is the intended outcome, the hatefulness and bigotry is a human abuse that "makes the baby Jesus cry."

I will say that people who rail against any institution and blame it for their oppressed stated miss the meaning of being created in God's iamge. You are empowered to be a power for good in this world or to be a victim and blame. Chose to use your power for good… if it is an outcome of faith or atheism matters not.

You can say I don't need a building to worship God. I would say that is like saying I don't need the United Way or the Red Cross to help my neighbor. I guess it depends on who you see as your naighbor.

Get involved in making the world a better place. That's what really matters. I would say very few people can do that alone. And telling other people that the place they have found to accomplish that is somehow meaningless accomplishes nothing but to demean their attempts.

Think, before you speak… or shout… or blame.

We are all in this together.

Meanwhile at AP

This AP article was linked on PageOneQ

LOS ANGELES — Two Episcopal priests in same-gender relationships are among the nominees for assistant bishop of Los Angeles, officials said Sunday.

The Rev. John L. Kirkley of San Francisco and the Rev. Mary Douglas Glasspool of Maryland will be among six candidates on the ballot when lay people and clergy vote in December, despite a long-standing request from world Anglican leaders for a moratorium on consecrating openly gay bishops.

Los Angeles Bishop Jon Bruno said in a statement Sunday that he was "pleased by the wide diversity" of the nominees. Separately, the Diocese of Minnesota on Saturday announced that a lesbian was among its three candidates for bishop. That election is set for October 31...

Queerty Reports on Gay Nominees

"Great!" says I when I see the pictures of the three gay nominees for the episcopacy on the the gay "news" blog Queerty. At least the secular blog noticed. Queerty is more gossipy than some of my favorites, but I do follow it.

Well that didn't take long. Just weeks after opening up the clergy ranks to gays, the Episcopal Church is seeing three homos nominated for the job. This is certain not to cause any controversy!

Two priests from from California and one from Minnesota join three heteros in nominations to become assistant bishops. Which means from here until December, where two new bishops will be selected,, liberals Episcopalians will be having it out with conservatives who don't want no gays in their church!

Also, maybe we'll hear from the global Anglican Communion, and its growing power base in Nigeria, about how the Rev. Canon Mary Douglas Glasspool of Baltimore, the Rev. John L. Kirkley of San Francisco, and the Rev. Bonnie Perry of Chicago (pictured, L-R) will bring eternal damnation upon their souls!

It was disappointing to read the article with it's sarcastic tone.

My response:

As a voting member (deputy) to the recent convention in Anaheim it is GREAT to see that the a secular gay sight is reporting this at all. Maybe some of your readers might be looking for a church and want to join one that is putting a lot on the line to be inclusive.

If they want the real story, accurately reported and without the stereotypical gay snark, please google this story. We really are moving faster than most main-line churches to get the Gospel right.

Read the original blog here.

Impact of Episcopal Church actions on LGBT issues...

From the LA Times, Aug 2, 2009:

With a little more than 2 million members, the Episcopal Church of the United States is far from being the country's largest Christian denomination. But its recent pronouncements indicating support for openly gay bishops and church blessings for same-sex couples will have reverberations beyond that church, beyond Christianity and even beyond religion. For all the theological issues it raises, acceptance of gays and lesbians at the altar reflects -- and affects -- the campaign for equality in the larger society.

Read the rest...

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Not to be outdone... here comes LA

Of a slate of 6 clergy nominated for Bishops Suffragan of Los Angeles, one is a Gay Man and one a Lesbian.

The Rev. Canon Mary D. Glasspool met her life partner, Becki in 1988.

The Rev. John L. Kirkley and his husband Andrew have an African-American son.

Of the slate of six, two will be elected to serve as Bishops Suffragan (Assisting the Diocesan Bishop) at a Diocesan Convention in Riverside. CA. The full slate follows with links to more information on the candidates:

The Rev. Canon Diane M. Jardine Bruce, rector, St. Clement's by-the-Sea Church in San Clemente, California;

The Rev. Canon Mary Douglas Glasspool, canon to the bishops in the Baltimore-based Diocese of Maryland;

The Rev. Zelda M. Kennedy, senior associate for pastoral care and spiritual growth, All Saints Church in Pasadena, California;

The Rev. John L. Kirkley, rector, St. John the Evangelist Church in San Francisco (Diocese of California);

The Rev. Silvestre E. Romero, rector, St Philip's Church in San Jose, California (Diocese of El Camino Real); and

The Rev. Irineo Martir Vasquez
, vicar, St. George's Church in Hawthorne, California.

In Memoriam

Two youth were shot to death by a masked gunman at a LGBT Community Center in Tel Aviv Israel. Let us pray for those killed, those wounded, physically and mentally, and the friends and family affected by this horrible act.

# English translation Transliteration Aramaic / Hebrew
1 Exalted and sanctifiedb is God's great name.a Yitgaddal veyitqaddash shmeh rabba יִתְגַּדַּל וְיִתְקַדַּשׁ שְׁמֵהּ רַבָּא.
2 in the world which He has created according to His will Beʻalma di vra khir'uteh בְּעָלְמָא דִּי בְרָא כִרְעוּתֵהּ
3 and may He establish His kingdom veyamlikh malkhuteh וְיַמְלִיךְ מַלְכוּתֵהּ

5 in your lifetime and your days bekhayekhon uvyomekhon בְּחַיֵּיכוֹן וּבְיוֹמֵיכוֹן
6 and in the lifetimes of all the House of Israel uvkhaye dekhol bet yisrael וּבְחַיֵּי דְכָל בֵּית יִשְׂרָאֵל
7 speedily and soon; and say, Amen.a beʻagala uvizman qariv veʼimru amen בַּעֲגָלָא וּבִזְמַן קָרִיב. וְאִמְרוּ אָמֵן
The next two lines are recited by the congregation and then the leader:
8 May His great name be blessed yehe shmeh rabba mevarakh יְהֵא שְׁמֵהּ רַבָּא מְבָרַךְ
9 forever and to all eternity. leʻalam ulʻalme ʻalmaya לְעָלַם וּלְעָלְמֵי עָלְמַיָּא
10 Blessed and praised, glorified and exalted, Yitbarakh veyishtabbakh veyitpaar veyitromam יִתְבָּרַךְ וְיִשְׁתַּבַּח וְיִתְפָּאַר וְיִתְרוֹמַם
11 extolled and honored, elevated and lauded veyitnasse veyithaddar veyitʻalle veyithallal וְיִתְנַשֵּׂא וְיִתְהַדָּר וְיִתְעַלֶּה וְיִתְהַלָּל
12 be the Name of the Holy One, blessed be He.a shmeh dequdsha, brikh hu. שְׁמֵהּ דְקֻדְשָׁא בְּרִיךְ הוּא.
13 beyond (far beyondc) all the blessings leʻella (lʻella mikkol) min kol birkhata לְעֵלָּא (לְעֵלָּא מִכָּל) מִן כָּל בִּרְכָתָא
14 and hymns, praises and consolations veshirata tushbekhata venekhemata וְשִׁירָתָא תֻּשְׁבְּחָתָא וְנֶחֱמָתָא
15 that are spoken in the world; and say, Amen.a daamiran bealma veʼimru amen דַּאֲמִירָן בְּעָלְמָא. וְאִמְרוּ אָמֵן

Gene's Interview in NYT

The interview can be found here:

I was glad to see it linked at Towleroad. Many of my secular favorites don't seem impressed by what the Episcopal Church did in Anaheim. Yes, I mean you Joe Jervis...

As some of the uber-conservatives like to point out, we are the Church of the Presidents. What they miss is that means that our leap into a new Christian world is prophetic. They see it as decline.

Yes, it is a slippery slope. A slippery slope that started with the inclusion of women. I like that slope.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

The Cheers for 3 Mo' Divas!

The Gandell's took us to see 3 'Mo Divas tonight at GeVa.

I could rank them in order, but I won't. You need to go and do it yourself.

This was one of the most exhilarating evenings of entertainment.. no THE most exhilarating evening of Entertainment that I have had this year.

Starting with Opera sung well these classically trained singers to us to many places far from the Opera House.

I confess to being a little leary of how far this very white man to travel on this journey. The led me gently into a world of Soul with familiar Broadway tunes and a showstopping rendition of "God Bless the Child." Then the show just kept on stopping with joyous celebration and a heart breaking rendition of Billy Holiday's "Strange Fruit." This song was new to me a left me unable to applaud. I was so deeply moved.

The show pun through pop, rock and disco to a spirit filled "His Eye is on the Sparrow."

See this!

Lesbian Candidate for IX Bishop of Minnesota

The Rev. Bonnie Perry, a lesbian, is one of 3 well-qualified candidates announced today to be the IX Bishop of Minnesota. The Diocesan Search Committee announce that The Rev. Mariann Edgar Budde, Perry and The Rev. Brain Prior are the candidates that they will present to an electing Convention in October. Additional nominees may come from "the floor." More information on all candidates can be found here.

The announcement follow just two weeks after the General Convention passed resolution D025 which effectively undoes the moratorium called for by B033.

Perry's high profile is in part as the co-convener of the Chicago Consultation a progress organization which joined Integrity this year in lobbying to move Beyond B033. Prior also enjoys visibility in the Episcopal Church as the Vice President of the House of Deputies.