Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas in Winder

Christmas is winding down in Winder.

Yesterday Mike and Laurie, Jessie and Russell with baby Laura Kate arrived at Freta's for Christmas day dinner.

On Christmas Eve, Kyle & I went to Midnight Mass at the Cathedral Church of St. Phillip.

Today Pam & Jeff came back from southern GA. They joined Elaine, Freta, Kyle and me for dinner.

And the snow is still on the ground.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Location:Winder, GA United States

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Why we elected the wrong President

Why we elected the wrong President

What a difference a day makes...

The release of of the "compromise" on "tax cuts" is appalling.

I compromise assumes that both start from a clear position and then meet somewhere in the middle. In no way can anyone feel that the President started anywhere but in the middle and moved 3/4 of the way toward the Republicans. A good compromise leaves both sides equally unhappy. There are no unhappy Republicans. They are already using this concession in their fund-raising literature. The Democrats are all unhappy, and many of them (this one included) are miserable. There is no semblance of Democratic principals of giving a break to the middle class and making the wealthy pay back to society for they way in which they have been blessed.

The term "tax cut" in the context of this discussion is totally erroneous. The tax rates that have been in place for 10 years are being left alone.

To paraphrase Steven Colbert, "As one of the top 2% income earners I look forward to not hiring anyone new in 2011 with the same amount of money I had in 2010."

Earlier this year I got into a tiff with a conservative friend about the "birther"/socialist crap. "I just don't trust Obama," she said.

Today... me neither.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Why we elected the right President

Why We Elected the Right President

This morning's hearing on DADT should help people to better understand why we chose the right President of the United States in 2008.

Senator McCain is clearly incapable of seeing beyond his own narrow world view or of thinking outside the box. It is without question that the senator served his country proudly and suffered in Viet Nam. Currently however his an aging, out of touch man. At the outset of hearings, he petulantly objected to a the time that each questioner would have and referred to this a "transcendant issue." Beyond the fact that he has constantly come up with new reasons to ignore a report he promised to observe, his questions show just how like George W Bush he is in looking not for reasons to inform a decision, but reasons to support a decision he has already made.

He is clearly angry about the fact that his concepts of LGBT people are dissolving around him.

Senator McCain's focus on debunking the study is that the direct question was not asked, "Do you favor the repeal of DADT?"

As a military man, his dismissal of the military leader's approach to gathering information is quite surprising. The idea that active duty military be allowed to vote on a question like would be unprecedented. In fairness, the senator admitted that the responses to a direct question should be used as only one factor in the decision.

There is another major problem with the idea of polling troops. Regardless of the guarantees of privacy in response, in an era of DADT how many would respond positively given peer pressure and the fear that they might be labeled gay or gay-loving. Let's not forget the make-up of young enlistees. Most are straight out of high school. (This was tangentially referred to in response to why the response of Marines are more negative than any other branch of the armed forces.) Their life experiences with openly LGBT people are limited as is their education. Their understanding is highly influenced by the "icky" thoughts of gay sex and not an understanding of sexuality.

And the first caller on C-SPAN demonstrated why a vote on this is a bad idea. He was an active duty soldier at Fort Drum. He didn't want his children serving with people who were "abnormal." I wonder if he knew our "abnormal" friend when he was serving at Fort Drum?

Watching this hearing reminded me that, no matter how well intentioned, Dan Choi and his friends chained themselves to the wrong fence when they chose the one surrounding the White House. The President has made his support of repealing DADT clear. It is the Senate that is unable to function democratically, that is using tricks of Parliamentary Procedure to block the opinion of a majority. Perhaps chaining themselves to the doors of the Senate chamber would have been more appropriate, if not more effective.

I have been frustrated with President Obama's ability to move things faster. I wish he would point out in this debate that the majority of the citizens of the United States of America voted for Barack Obama directly in opposition to John McCain.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

You Voted For It....

You Voted For It....

You got it.

The GOP vows to block everything until they get their way... and they're not even in control yet.

Meanwhile at the AFA...

Today's email from the AFA (American Family Association).
Lame Duck Congress to push through a repeal of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell'

Call your senators today: Vote "No" on the repeal. The stakes could not be higher.
Really? The stakes could not be higher? Really? There's nothing like hyperbole to reveal desperation.

How about refusing to extend unemployment benefits to people who are about to enter the holidays without money for food? How about the fact that almost every reputable economist says that the extension of benefits will help the economy to boot.

DADT repeal is a no-brainer for everyone but "white evangelicals.

Really AFA, get a grip.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Except for white evangelicals...

Except for white evangelicals...

I usual read the headlines and summaries from One News Now, just to keep my liberal blood flowing. Today, however, I had to click on the link for this lead:

Christians differ on lifting 'don't ask, don't tell'
A new survey from the Pew Forum says most American Christians -- with the exception of white evangelicals -- favor letting homosexual men and women serve openly in the military.

A sad statement about this ultra conservative source is that they either did not see the racism in the summary or were reveling in it. (Trust me, this is not a site for non-biased journalism.) Either way it it was revealing.

And of course with the release of the report, all proponents are trying to moderate their positions. Now pray that the Senate sees and deciphers the handwriting on the wall.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Half of San Francisco

Half of San Francisco...

Was doing what were. Project Runway. World Series. Project Runway. World Series... and then the unthinkable... Mondo LOST... ick! horrible. Read ProjectRungay blog

But it's a shut out. Two outs top of the ninth. SF (Gay Mecca) - 9, Texas (Dubyah's Team) 0... NADA. ZIP....

And....... one walk. Francouer, high to right field... IT'S OVER! First shut in World Series since 1962 (can that be true?)

No Matter. Take that Texas!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

From Joe.My.God:

The latest result of avoiding the Elephant in the Room:

ARKANSAS: School Board Member Celebrates Gay Suicides And AIDS

From Independence County, Arkansas: Midland School District board member Clint McCance took to Facebook to mock the suicides of LGBT youth and celebrate the deaths of gay people from AIDS.... (read the rest here)

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Could NY Politics get worse?

Could NY Politics get worse?

Yes.

In my neck of the woods signs say "I'm mad too, Carl. PALADINO for Governor."

My sign will say, "I'm mad that a hooligan and homophobe can win a primary in my state."

Earlier he told a reporter that he would "take him out." Today, Mr. Paladino spoke in NYC to reveal his homophobic side:

"Not suprisingly, Paladino said he would veto any legislation that seeks to legalize gay marriage in New York.

"I just think my children and your children would be much better off and much more successful getting married and raising a family, and I don't want them brainwashed into thinking that homosexuality is an equally valid and successful option," he said. "It isn't."

Calling himself the "religious values candidate," he said "I will not support immoral legislation."

Friday, October 1, 2010

Apple Schmapple



That's right, "Apple Schmapple." I know. I'm a Mac Disciple.

Two days ago I went into the Apple store. I wanted this new Apple TV thing! I was told, "It will be released in early October."

"Could you be more specific?"

"Sorry, we don't know more than that," said the sweet young thing.

"Can it stream any video from the web?" I asked.

"Let me get you someone who knows more."

10 minutes later another Apple Blue Shirt approached.

"Can I help you?"

"Yep. I want to know more about Apple TV."

"We can learn together!" he said and led me to an iMac where he brought up the website.

While I politely listened, he told me nothing I did not know. "We haven't seen it yet."

Huh? Must not going be here for a while...

This morning I opened my e-mail in the doctor's office. Apple TV is here! Order online or come in to an Apple store.

Off I went after my appointment. Arrived at 12:10.

"I'd like to get an Apple TV," I said to yet another Blue Shirt.

"Yeah! I saw got that email too. Let's see where they are. I just got in."

An older Blue Shirt looked at him and said "They're sold out."

"I was here the day before yesterday and ...."

"Man, I guess we are both gonna have to wait!"

OK, Apple. So you are the best at what you do... except when it comes to customer service.

Flashing back to my 2.5 hours with the AT&T guy, who could not get the order in on day one of iPhone 4.

Fool me twice shame on you. Fool me once... I mean fool me twice... you know. It's not nice to fool people!"

Thursday, September 30, 2010

More thoughts on Tenure

More Thoughts on Tenure

My last blog post inspired some great discussion on Facebook. I hope some of those folks will start reading my blog. It's over here at nhoughton@blogspot.com.

"Tenure exists to protect bad teachers."

"Tenure keeps you from being fired."

These are two comments that are commonly thrown around. As Lawence O'Donnell says, "When you come to my show you are entitled to your own opinions, but you are not entitled to your own facts."

These two statements are simply not true. Tenure make sure that seasoned teachers are not dismissed without cause and due process.

Twice I sat on a tenure panel. For those who don't know how the process works in New York it goes like this.

When a tenured teacher is brought up on charges they must go before a panel of 3 people. One is chosen by the school board, one by the union and the third is a professional arbitrator. These charges may include incompetence, insubordination or moral turpitude (look it up, it's as ambiguous as it sounds) among other things.

A lawyer represents the teacher, another the district. They each present their evidence and the panel renders a decision by majority vote.

When I served the first time the teacher was dismissed by unanimous vote. The district had documented clearly through observations and attempts to offer support to improve performance that this person should not be teaching.

The second time, the documentation and the evidence presented by the district was poor. The witnesses presented by the teacher were convincing. That teacher's credentials were not revoked.

So why is an educator entitled to this kind of protection? Well let's suppose that a parent or a group of parents show up in the Principal's office with a complaint that evolution is being referred to as if it were science, or that rumors were running around that that teacher was a homosexual and the Principal decided that rather than standing up for that teacher it would be easier to start writing poor evaluations and... well, you get the picture.

The concept here is something called "academic freedom." It allows teachers to open up discussions on controversial issues without the fear of being muzzled or fired. (This is certainly more of an issue at the middle, high school and college level.) Dealing with controversial issues in an academic setting is important. It allowed me to read aloud books by Mildred Taylor. She writes about the realities of a segregated, Jim Crow south in wonderful and blunt terms. I lived that segregation growing up in Florida and collecting "mortgage" payments from people in shanties and wondering what was so cool about the "colored" bathrooms that I could not use. I expect I brought a reality to bigotry that many other white teachers could not.

I have been blessed to work with some wonderful principals. They supported me. They allowed me to bring my passions to the classroom and the school. But once upon a time...

I walked into school and was greeted by the principal who called me into his office. "Your in some deep shit now," he said. The blood drained and I search my mind for what I could possibly have done.

"Last night at the dinner table one of your students told his parents that you said _____ in class." Please insert the most offensive word for vagina that comes to mind. "They have called the Superintendent and he is meeting with them in an hour."

My response was, "(name), do you believe that I would have said that?"

He replied, "Well, you never know what might slip out."

"That is a word that I DO NOT USE. EVER." I left the office and went to a planning space to gather myself for the day. My colleagues covered for me, I was so upset.

After a half an hour of going over the previous day, I finally figured out what had probably happened. The kids were playing a word game. One smart aleck (probably a Facebook follower), came up with a smirk and said, "Mr. H, is 'prick' a word?"

"Yes," I had replied, "You can 'prick' your finger with a needle. Remember Sleeping Beauty?"

My best guess is that the old "telephone game" had taken over and by the time kids went home the word had been changed. I called the parents and explained. All was fixed.

With that kind of administrative support, who needs enemies? Well I know I was glad for tenure.

And of course there are the times when I chatted with several students (and one fellow teacher) about why "That's so gay" is hurtful. (So, like you meant that's so 'WONDERFUL?')

A few parents with torches and pitchforks and no tenure and this "non-crappy" teacher may not have completed a 35 year career.

I hope that some of you might rethink your positions on tenure. And thanks to "Academic Freedom" we can agree to disagree about that.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

MSNBC: Say it isn't so...

MSNBC has let me down!

God knows I love RACHEL and like Keith and Ed and the gang. But this education week thing has shown that MSNBC is a vulnerable as anyone to heavy spin.

The whole thing started with a great gathering of teachers in front of Prometheus and over the famous Rockefeller Plaza ice skating rink. There we many voices of reason. Many teachers who tried to explain that tenure does not protect bad teachers it only provides due process.

One young teacher stood up and said, "I don't need tenure."

She has become the clip of the week. The head honcho in the NYC school system said, "we need more passionate wonderful teachers like this."

Sure you do bucky... until she makes too much money, or is stuck with a class that is loaded with parents that question her methods, challenge her choice of literature, don't agree with her stance on evolution, etc. Then you will let her fry and the years of union activists that have fought to protect her from the whims of administrators or wacky parents.

Oh, and by the way Mr. Chancellor, do you even know that she can teach her way out of paper bag? Have you observed her? Here's a great example of why we need tenure! A young teacher gets up and kisses your ass on TV and she's the best thing since sliced bread. What if she gets on National TV one day and says the Chancellor has no clothes... and she has no tenure?

MSNBC, shame on you for playing into this! Ed Schultz, now's the time for you to get your Union suit on and tell it like it is.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Dear Dems: Go Forth and Make Hay

Dear Dems: Go Forth and Make Hay

Two things from today's news should be noted:

Americans are split 50/50 on how they feel about Health Care Reform in a series of polls. BUT one poll suggests that 40% who are unhappy with HCR are unhappy because it did not go far enough. 40% of 50% is 20%. So, on average 70% of Americans think HCR is a good thing or that they want MORE.

The Republicans just blocked giving subpoena power to the congressional investigation of the oil disaster in the gulf.

OK Democrats, stop being wimps about taking credit for what you have done and shaming the Grand Oil Party for their obvious pandering to BP et. al.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

On Mosques and Book Burning and Responsibility

On Mosques and Book Burning and Responsibility

This morning I watched the news story on MSNBC about the "pastor" who is not only threatening to burn the Koran, but standing in front of the sign, "International Burn the Koran Day." His defense was pretty much "they started it."

Perhaps taking responsibility for his own actions is on order. Perhaps the media taking the responsibility for fanning the flames is in order.

And so the real message of of Christianity and Islam continues to be subverted.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Follow Up from my Friend

I received a reply from my friend.

She took issue my characterization of the email as a diatribe. It was a comment on character, she said. I think when the bottom line is that you have presented evidence to show that President Obama's objective as turn the US into a socialist state diatribe is fair. But more troubling is, as I said the tenor of the message and the tea-party mentality that makes this sort of thing acceptable.


The President of the United States is a target in a carnival game, next to Osama Bin Laden...




For the information only, here is the text of the forwarded message. Diatribe? You decided.


SINCE IT IS ALMOST IMPOSSIBLE TO KEEP UP WITH EACH NEW REVELATION ABOUT THIS GUY AND HIS BELIEFS, THIS IS A GREAT REFERENCE LIST TO START WITH!


KEEP THIS CIRCULATING, GOD KNOWS THE OTHER SIDE IS DOING THE SAME THING WITH THEIR PROPAGANDA


The Fundamental Transformation of America


When Obama wrote a book and said he was
mentored as a youth by Frank,
(Frank Marshall Davis) an avowed Communist,
people said it didn't matter.

When it was discovered that his grandparents,
were strong socialists
who sent Obama's mother to a socialist school
where she was introduced to Frank Marshall Davis. He was
later introduced to young Barrack Hussein Obama
People said it didn't matter.

When people found out that Barrack Hussein Obama was
enrolled as a Muslim child in school and his
father and stepfather were both Muslims,
people said it didn't matter.

When he wrote in another book he
authored "I will stand with them (Muslims)
should the political winds shift
in an ugly direction"
people said it didn't matter.

When he admittedly, in his book,
said he chose Marxist friends
and professors in college--
people said it didn't matter.

When he traveled to Pakistan ,
after college on an unknown
national passport,
people said it didn't matter.

When he sought the endorsement of the
Marxist Party in 1996 as he ran
for the Illinois Senate,
people said it doesn't matter.

When he sat in a Chicago Church
for twenty years and listened to a preacher
spew hatred for America and
preach black liberation theology,
people said it didn't matter.

When an independent Washington organization,
that tracks Senate voting records, gave him
the distinctive title as the "most liberal senator,"
people said it didn't matter.

When the Palestinians in Gaza
set up a fund raising telethon
to raise money for his election campaign,
people said it didn't matter.

When his voting record
supported gun control,
people said it didn't matter.

When he refused to disclose who
donated money to his election campaign,
as other candidates had done,
people said it didn't matter.

When he received endorsements from
people like Louis Farrakhan and
Mummar Kadaffi and Hugo Chavez,
people said it didn't matter.

When it was pointed out that he was
a total newcomer and had absolutely
no experience at anything except
community organizing,
people said it didn't matter.

When he chose friends and acquaintances
such as Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn
who were revolutionary radicals,
people said it didn't matter.

When his voting record in the Illinois
senate and in the U.S. Senate
came into question,
people said it didn't matter.

When he refused to wear a flag,
lapel pin, and did so only
after a public outcry,
people said it didn't matter.

When people started treating him as
a Messiah and children in schools
were taught to sing his praises,
people said it didn't matter.

When he stood with his hands over
his groin area for the playing of the
National Anthem and Pledge of Allegiance,
people said it didn't matter.

When he surrounded himself in the White house
with advisors who were pro-gun control, pro-
abortion, pro-homosexual marriage and wanting to
curtail freedom of speech to silence the opposition
people said it didn't matter..

When he said he favors
sex education in Kindergarten,
including homosexual indoctrination,
people said it didn't matter.

When his personal background was either
scrubbed or hidden and nothing
could be found about him,
people said it didn't matter .
When the place of his birth
was called into question,
and he refused to produce a birth certificate,
people said it didn't matter.

When he had an association in Chicago
with Tony Rezco--a man of questionable character and
who is now in prison and had helped Obama
to a sweet deal on the purchase of his home--
people said it didn't matter.

When it became known that George Soros,
a multi-billionaire Marxist,
spent a ton of money to get him elected,
people said it didn't matter.
When he started appointing White House Czars
that were radicals, revolutionaries,
and even avowed Marxist/Communist,
people said it didn't matter.

When he stood before the Nation
and told us that his intentions were to
"fundamentally transform this Nation"
into something else,
p eople said it didn't matter.

When it became known that he had
trained ACORN workers in Chicago
and served as an attorney for ACORN,
people said it didn't matter.

When he appointed cabinet members
and several advisors who were
tax cheats and socialists,
people said it didn't matter.
When he appointed a Science Czar, John Holdren,
who believes in forced abortions, mass
sterilizations and seizing babies from teen mothers,
people said it didn't matter.

When he appointed Cass Sunstein as Regulatory
Czar who believes in "Explicit Consent,"
harvesting human organs without family consent,
and allowing animals to be represented in court,
while banning all hunting,
people said it didn't matter.

When he appointed Kevin Jennings, a homosexual,
and organizer of a group called gay, lesbian, straight,
education network as Safe School Czar and it became known
that he had a history of bad advice to teenagers,
people said it didn't matter.
When he appointed Mark Lloyd, as Diversity Czar,
who believes in curtailing free speech;
taking from one and giving to another to spread
the wealth; who supports Hugo Chavez,
people said it didn't matter.

When Valerie Jarrett was selected as Obama's
Senior White House Advisor and she is an
avowed Socialist,
people said it didn't matter.

When Anita Dunn, White House Communications Director
said Mao Tse Tung was her favorite philosopher- -
and the person she turned to most for inspiration,
p eople said it didn't matter.

When he appointed Carol Browner as Global Warming
Czar, and her being a well known socialist working
on Cap and trade as the nations largest tax,
people said it doesn't matter.

When he appointed Van Jones, an ex-con and
avowed Communist as Green Energy Czar,
who since had to resign when this was made known,
people said it didn't matter.

When Tom Daschle, Obama's pick for health
and human services secretary could not be
confirmed, because he was a tax cheat,
people said it didn't matter..

When as President of the United States ,
he bowed to the King of Saudi Arabia ,
people said it didn't matter.

When he traveled around the world
criticizing America and never once
talking of her greatness,
people said it didn't matter.

When his actions concerning the Middle-East
seemed to support the Palestinians
over Israel , our long time ally,
people said it doesn't matter.

When he took American tax dollars to
resettle thousands of Palestinians
from Gaza to the United States ,
people said it doesn't matter.

When he upset the Europeans by
removing plans for a missile defense system
against the Russians,
people said it doesn't matter.

When he played politics in Afghanistan by
not sending troops early-on when the
Field Commanders
said they were necessary to win,
people said it didn't matter.

When he started spending us into a debt
that was so big
we could not pay it off,
people said it didn't matter.

When he took a huge spending bill
under the guise of stimulus
and used it to pay off organizations,
unions, and individuals
that got him elected,
people said it didn't matter.

When he took over insurance companies,
car companies, banks, etc.,
people said it didn't matter.

When he took away student loans
from the banks and put it
through the government,
people said it didn't matter.

When he designed plans to take over
the health care system
and put it under government control,
people said it didn't matter.

When he claimed he was a Christian during the election and tapes were later made
public that showed Obama speaking to a Muslim group and 'stating' that he
was raised a Muslim; was educated as a Muslim; and that he is still a Muslim--
people said it did n't matter.

When he set into motion a plan
to take over the control of all
energy in the United States
through Cap and Trade,
people said it didn't matter.

When he finally completed his
transformation of America
into a Socialist State ,
people finally woke up---
but it was too late.

Add these up one by one and you get a phenomenal score that points to the fact that Barrack Hussein Obama is determined to turn America into a Marxist-Socialist society.
All of the items in the preceding paragraphs have been put into place. All can be documented very easily. Before you disavow this do an internet search.

The last paragraph alone is not yet cast in stone. You and I will write that paragraph. Will it read as above or will it be a more happy ending for most of America ?

If you are an Obama Supporter don't be angry with me because I think Barrack Hussein Obama is a socialist. Far too many facts support he is indeed a Socialist.

If you seek the truth you will be richer for it. Don't just belittle the opposition. Search for the truth. Democrats, Republicans, Independents, Constitutionalists, Libertarians all need to pull together or watch the demise of a free democratic society. Pray for Americans to seek the truth
and take action for it will keep us FREE.

Our biggest enemy is not China , Russia , North Korea , and Iran our biggest enemy is a contingent of politicians in Washington DC .
The government will not help, so we need to do it ourselves.
Send this to everyone in your mailbox.

P. S.: I would like to add that one of the biggest enemy -- if you still think "it doesn't matter" is the person that looks at you when you consult your mirror!!

=

Monday, August 9, 2010

Open Letter to a "Conservative" Friend

Open Letter to a "Conservative" Friend...

Earlier today I opened an an email from a dear friend of many years. It was entitled "Didn't realize he did so much that DIDN'T MATTER....Interesting read." The lengthy missive went on to present a "logical" string of facts to prove that President Obama is a socialist. It closes with "Add these up one by one and you get a phenomenal score that points to the fact that Barrack Hussein Obama is determined to turn America into a Marxist-Socialist society."

I stopped all that was on my agenda to respond:

Dear Sharon,

There is so much we have in common. Much more than separates us. One of those things is a that we love this country... one might say we are patriotic.

I am saddened when I see this sort of "logic" trying to prove that the President of the United States is a socialist. There is no question that his political leanings are more progressive (or liberal, if you prefer) than conservative. It was because of his promises, his progressive agenda that he was elected.

As an openly gay man, those positions have given me great hope that I might be granted all the Constitutional rights and responsibilities that I have been denied based on who I love. I voted for this man because he promised to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." I voted for him because he promised that my then partner, now husband, would have access to the health care he was denied because our marriage was not legally recognized. I have a very personal understanding of what health care reform means. I can tell the story of the stress that exists when someone has no health insurance. Frankly, I have been disappointed that he has been unable to fulfill many of these promises as quickly as I would have liked.

Without regard to whether we agree on these issues, or others however, the letter you forwarded to me causes great concern. There is a propensity to label those with whom we do not agree in terms which are laden with emotion. When a conservative sees someone labeled as "socialist", or a liberal see someone labeled as a bigot, or "hater," conversation ceases. Civil discourse and dialogue stops, and that which makes us an effective example of representative democracy is weakened.

What can we do about this? Often we feel helpless as individuals to change such broad societal trends. But change must start somewhere. We can stop forwarding letters like this to anyone. I suspect that this will stop you from forwarding such emails to me. Please consider stop forwarding inflammatory material this to those with whom you agree.

We can stop labeling people in terms that are extreme. It is an easy way to make them the "other." It brings all chance of meaningful engagement to an end.

Let's all work together to mitigate separation and facilitate discussions based on our common humanity. Let's play to our best instincts, that which those of us people of faith might call a grace-filled placed.

Fondly,

Neil




Tuesday, August 3, 2010

TOMORROW: Decision on Prop 8 challenge decision...

The first level Federal Court decision on a Prop 8 challenge will be issued tomorrow. The constitutional lawyers who argued on opposite sides of Bush v. Gore have joined together to challenge the constitutionality of Prop 8. This proposition overturned the right of same-sex couples to marry in California. Olsen and Boise. liberal and conservative, agree on little... but they do agree that denying equal access to marry is a denying the pursuit of life, liberty and happiness to one group of Americans on grounds that are not defend-able under the Constitution of the United States of America.

It's not "We the STRAIGHT People..."

From Joe.My.God....

This is it. The decision on Perry Vs. Schwarzenegger will be issued by Judge Vaughn Walker tomorrow (Wednesday).
The federal court announced today that it will release its decision in the American Foundation for Equal Right’s landmark case, Perry v. Schwarzenegger, on Wednesday. Text “EQUAL” to 69866 to get a text message with the official decision on your mobile phone the moment the court releases its decision, or sign-up for an email alert at equalrightsfoundation.org. Join AFER on its Web site to watch a live press conference with our plaintiffs and co-counsels Ted Olson and David Boies following the release of the decision. As we receive news about the details of the release, AFER will update our Facebook and Twitter profiles, along with our Web site.
While most on our side are confident the decision will go our way, the result will likely be appealed immediately.

UPDATE: Rex Wockner adds: "The Perry order will be e-filed between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. PDT tomorrow (between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. EDT - between 21h and 23h GMT/UTC). It will be available electronically to the public not only through PACER but also directly from the court's website free of charge soon after it is e-filed."

The adorable, optimistic, Episcopalian below will be riveted.

BOL Provincial Workshop: Martinsburg, WV

BOL Provincial Workshop: Martinsburg, WV

And on we move... Another group gathered to discuss ways in which we can move forward in Christ for full inclusion!


Monday, August 2, 2010

Water and Waste Reduction in Airports

Water and Waste Reduction in Airports

How much do you pay for bottled water in an airport? How much waste is created by plastic water bottles from that water? Here's an idea for a solution.

The TSA won't let you bring bottled water through security. Many of us end up spending hours on the other side of security clearance and we need water. If you go to the food outlets or the news store they will gladly sell you 2 cents worth of water for 2 dollars.

So how about a better solution that saves us money and saves a little space in the land fills?

In the Northeast water dispensing machines are not so common, but in the West they are everywhere. So why not put them in boarding areas in airports? You can bring in a reusable water bottle and fill it for 25 cents. It saves you some money and saves the environment another plastic bottle.


OK entrepreneurs, take this idea and run with it. I'd be happy is you sent me $0.005 cents a dispense.

http://www.facebook.com/?tid=1560439775766&sk=messages#!/group.php?gid=144060898945535&v=info

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Spinning Gold into Dog Poop

Chelsea's wedding ... a reason to celebrate or divide?

Somtimes it is just amazing that folks can turn joy into dog poop. Chelsea Clinton's marriage has given the "Concerned Women for America" a chance to celebrate love, and hope and commitment. Instead they choose to use it as a platform to warn of the evils of interfaith marriage.

Worldview perspectives, it turns out, are important on a daily basis. The Christian worldview is rooted in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ — making him the Lord over the Christian’s life. The Christian faith — indeed, virtually all religious faith, if taken seriously — is inherently exclusive because it is the lens through which all of life is viewed and shaped.

If doctrine is more than just cultural observances, there is no way it can merely be a casual, insignificant part of a believer’s life. For the true Christian believer, this means a life lived in light of Christ’s singular claim that He is “the way, the truth, and the life.” Taking His claim seriously, that He is the only way to the Father (John 14:6), means that all decisions are made in light of His teaching and commands. This includes His teaching that marriage is intended by God to be a life-long covenant — not just between the couple, but sealed by God and witnessed by fellow believers in the couples’ church community. That said, real Christian marriage includes a commitment to follow Christ, both in lifestyle and in childrearing.



I guess I should be happy to know that they are not just hung up on the same-sex thing, they are also worried about the same religion thing. Well, more specifically about the same one-true-religion thing.

It's been a while since I have thought back to theology of abundance approach to life. What is it with spending so much time being mean and crabby and mean and negative and MEAN... when there is so much to celbrate. Glass half full or half empty? For so many it's glass empty, broken and walking through the shards with bare feet.

That anyone who believes in God can stay mired in that is a real mystery.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Anne Rice is OUT ... of Christianity that is.

From Joe.My.God comes a quote from Anne Rice's Facebook page. She's done with Christainity. Ms. Rice who very publicly returned to Christianity in 2005 has done a one-eighty. This is bound to be great fodder for discussion. I wonder how her son, Christopher feels about this?

"For those who care, and I understand if you don't: Today I quit being a Christian. I'm out. I remain committed to Christ as always but not to being 'Christian' or to being part of Christianity. It's simply impossible for me to 'belong' to this quarrelsome, hostile, disputatious, and deservedly infamous group. For ten ...years, I've tried. I've failed. I'm an outsider. My conscience will allow nothing else.

"In the name of Christ, I refuse to be anti-gay. I refuse to be anti-feminist. I refuse to be anti-artificial birth control. I refuse to be anti-Democrat. I refuse to be anti-secular humanism. I refuse to be anti-science. I refuse to be anti-life. In the name of ...Christ, I quit Christianity and being Christian. Amen."

- Famed novelist Anne Rice, from her Facebook page.

BOL Provincial Workshops

Another Believe Out Loud Workshop Well Received


The third in a series of Provincial Workshops about Believe Out Loud was just completed in Danbury, CT. This event targeted toward Episcopalians in Provinces 1 and 2, was held at St. James Church in Danbury, CT. The rector and local Integrity/Danbury members were wonderful hosts. Chap Day, Province 1 Coordinator and John-Albert Moseley, Province 2 coordinator facilitated this session we me. Many, many positive comments were received and participants left energized and ready to return to their home parishes to Believe Out Loud.

Of all the major protestant denominations, the Episcopal Church is the only one without a welcoming congregation designation that is consistent across the church. We have chosen to adopt the Believe Out Loud branding. This creation of Intersection is intended to be a universally recognized symbol of welcome to LGBT people. It goes beyond just saying "We welcome all." It includes a very intentional model of how to discern what that welcome looks like. Integrity has worked to modify the process so that it more clearly reflects the polity of the Episcopal Church. Our designation then becomes "Believe Out Loud Episcopal Congregation (BOLEC)."

The program focuses on understanding the steps to become a BOLEC as well as learning tools to spread the good news that your church lives out out Baptismal Covenenant, "to respect the dignity of every human being."

We share our stories and learn how to tell them effectively to others. Using parts of Marshall Ganz model of public narrative, we look for challenges, choices and outcomes in the stories of what brought us to discovering our mission in the Church. We learn about graceful engagement and how to frame our stories in ways that they will be heard by others.



If you wish to join us, please go to www.integrityusa.org for additional scheduled events. We will be in Martinsburg, WV this weekend and then in Atlanta, Austin and central Ohio. Another event is in the works for Denver in September.

JOIN US!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

38 Years of LGBT Supportive Leadership

38 Years of LGBT Supportive Leadership in The Episcopal Diocese of Rochester:


"History" was the theme of Pride in Rochester this year. That played well with the Episcopal Diocese of Rochester. We have 38 years of history of supporting the LGBT community in Rochester. Our placards celebrate our leadership starting in 1972 with Cannon Walt Szymanski and Bishop Robert Spears. This leadership has been unbroken through Bishop Burrill, Bishop McKelvey and now Bishop Singh.

This year we set a new mark in that history with an African-American lesbian priest celebrating our annual street Eucharist. The Rev. Deborah Brown also preached on the Gospel text about the "good" Samaritan. Although never labeled as "good" she pointed out, the entire phrase is now capitalized. We are all good, created in God's image, and need to claim our goodness, she posited.



This was the first of three Pride Parades in which our Bishop, The Rt. Rev. Prince Singh, was able to join our contingent. During the first year of his episcopacy, he was at Lambeth and last year at General Convention. He was greeted by cheers and thanks by thousands of parade participants and onlookers.

His wife, Roja, and son, Eklan, joined us as well.


Tomorrow Prince and his family leave for a month long visit to his homeland in southern India. As we marched along he shared that word of his support for an inclusive church had spread to his home parish and he was dis-invited to preach there.

"It all good," he said, "I will be preaching at several Cathedrals."


And so it goes. We will continue to witness to God's Love that is more inclusive and amazing that we deserve or can imagine. We will continue to believe... OUT LOUD!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Time Away

The Believe Out Loud workshops are really keeping me going. In a church where there is so much politics (which to be sure has been our friend) and so much jockeying for power and control these experience are so thoroughly refreshing. For the most part people can lay aside the silly stuff and really celebrates what brings us together and Episcopalians who love this church and are celebrating its move into a future which is long overdue.

Allowing that the word's of Our Lord may have been edited for publication, I can only see him saying, "It's about damn time."

It seems that we are beginning to move beyond a time of much that has slowed our movement and frankly kept some of us a afraid of stepping on a mine. I could hardly be considered the paragon of political correctness. We certainly come to group with diverse tastes in liturgy, with varying sensitivities to and viewpoints on completely inclusive language and broadly different musical tastes. But when we mix it up and are authentic with one another, the nit-picking is recognized as nothing more than that. We focus on what the core of our mission is and how we can accomplish it together. Effective synergy requires an assumption of good intent. It requires an open-mindedness toward one another and only when that can be achieved can we be ready to gracefully engage those with which we disagree.

I think if we examine ourselves we will find that at as movement our lack of ability to work together has caused many lost opportunities.

This Workshop Series has thus far represented diversity within the Episcopal Church. Registration in Portland was about 50% female. In San Diego about 35% female. We have had a good mix of gay and non-gay. More people of color and a broader range of ages has been a problem... but it is a problem for the whole church, not just for our group of LGBT and supporters but for the larger church.

These workshops have been a model of how we can work together. Sounds simple... and it really is.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Picking Your Battles

One of the primary tools of the Believe Out Loud workshops that Integrity will be presented around the country this summer is "Graceful Engagement." It is the idea that when you talk with someone with whom you may disagree, you do it from a frame of the positive commonalities, the grace-filled intersections.

Recently a blogger for whom I have the greatest respect, Joe Jervis of Joe.My.God. posted a Facebook comment:

...had a very satifying encounter with a subway preacher during which someone may have been told to shove a certain book into the diseased orifice of his mother.
I responded:

How was that satisfying? What was gained?

Of course the responders took me to task. Of all the responses my "favorite" was:

Better to be heard. . . than be like millions of germans(sic) that kept thier(sic) mouths shut and allowed the holicaust(sic).

We are so quick, on both side of any issue to invoke Nazi era images to support our liberal or tea-party agendas. In my mind that diminishes something so horrifying that it pushes the limits of the first amendment.

Of course I support Joe's right to speak up... I was just suggesting that he might choose to do that when it really might make a difference, which he does on a regular basis. This was one of those moments when someone was so fanatic about their point of view, one might argue mentally ill, that their screaming "sodomite" probably was best left to stand on its own.

Was this an opportunity for engagement of any sort, graceful or not, that would have made a difference? In preparing for our workshops we have been struggling with metaphors that are not militaristic to say... "You have to pick your battles."

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Orangina Ad

McDonald's had a successful gay-friendly ad in France. Oragina's was judged too polemic to air by the company. Too bad. I'd stock up!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Unconditional Love



There are those days when all one wants is someone who loves you unconditionally. Someone who assumes good intent when you work your ass off. Below are the members of my family that do that for me. The one with the tail does it so perfectly and the other one tries really hard. I just want to say thanks.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

My new iPhone 4 ... maybe.

My New iPhone.... maybe.

Luckily Nicki Liberti is very cute. We spent a quality hour together today at AT&T. After about a half hour wait I stepped up to Nick's station. Systems were running slowly, but after about 20 minutes, Nick said "$219, please swipe." I like a bargain, but that was just too good to be true. I suggested that I wanted a 32 GB model and I think I am being charged for 16 GB. Sure enough the system had downgraded me. I was the first, but not the last. Agents huddled. No luck. After 3 retries the info was entered manually and I was promised a phone call to confirm.

Nick just called to reconfirm my billing info and said that April 24 was still good. Nick could not have been nicer and I was in a great mood so I am hopeful. The blogs are ripe with horror stories. AT&T + Apple = Toyota?


Monday, June 14, 2010

Funny Christian Spam

Funny Christian Spam

Who knows how real the need in this one, but the fruit of the labor will be slow in coming. Here is the closing line:

May God bless you as we join together in the vain yard of God.


Last Iris of the Season

Last Iris of the Season

The last iris of the season is is "Orange Harvest." As you can see it is quite determined to bloom beyond the others and still has a few buds...

The first Standard Dwarf Bloomed in later April. In Early May, the intermediate "Immortality" started to bloom and on May 17, the tall bearded irises started. Almost a month later they are almost done. "Gypsy Moth" bloomed last week and Orange Harvest has been blooming since May 11.


Saturday, June 12, 2010

Invictus

Finally got to see "Invictus." First movie in a long time that has so emotionally engaged me early on. Did some research and found this ad on YouTube.


Monday, June 7, 2010

The Anglican Smack Down

Last Sunday's reading in Episcopal Churches across the nations was John 16:12, "I still have many things to tell you, but you cannot bear them now..." This is the pivotal scripture which supports the "God is Still Speaking" campaign of the United Church of Christ. It also is the pivotal scripture against the concept of a fundamentalist literal interpretation of the Bible and for a broader look at what the Bible and Jesus says to us now in 2010. (Something to do with "Love one another")

This has been the Pentecost of Dueling Anglicans and the gloves are off. If you are not of the Anglican persuasion, trust me, this is a wild as we ever get in public. In one corner we have the Archbishop of Canterbury, trying his damnedest to slow the progress of any news flashes from the Holy Spirit, whose appearance, after all, is the reason we celebrate Pentecost, and the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, trying her damnedest to speed up progress without falling apart.

Diane Butler Bass accurately and eloquently describes the formal fisticuffs in The Huffington Post:
Unless you've been sleeping in a cave, you are probably aware that the Episcopal Church (of which I am a member) has been arguing about the role of LGBT persons in the church. Along with the Anglican Church of Canada, the Episcopal Church has opened itself toward full inclusion of gay and lesbian Christians. Here in North America, this has caused some defections (fewer than at first predicted), some legal suits (most have been settled in favor of the Episcopal Church), monetary fallout (hard to separate from general economic downturn), and bad feelings (which, sadly enough, remain). But what is most surprising -- and I regularly hear this from bishops, clergy, and congregational lay leaders -- is that things are much less tense in the Episcopal Church now than they have been in recent years. Folks are moving ahead in their local parishes doing the sorts of things that Episcopalians are pretty good at doing -- creating beautiful worship, praying together, and feeding hungry people.

Despite the fact that the Episcopalians are bumpily journeying into a renewed future, some other Anglicans -- mostly in Africa -- are pretty mad that we've included our gay and lesbian friends and relatives in our churches. Large communities of Anglicans in places like Uganda (the same Uganda that recently tried to pass a death-penalty law for gay people) and Malawi (the same Malawi that recently sentenced a gay couple who wanted to marry to 14 years of hard labor) are seriously unhappy with American Episcopalians and Canadian Anglicans.

And this leads us to the Pentecost pastoral letters.

While (somewhat ironically) attending a conference in Washington, DC entitled "Building Bridges," Rowan Williams sent out his Pentecost letter to Anglicans worldwide, which, after saying a lot of nice things about missions and diversity, pulls rank and proclaimed that he's going to kick people off important committees whose national churches have violated a controversial guidelines laid out in documents called the Windsor Report and the Anglican Covenant. This includes the Canadians (who let gay Christians get married) and the Americans (who recently ordained a lesbian bishop in Los Angeles) and some Africans (who ordained some Americans who were splitting churches in places like Virginia and Pennsylvania).

In response, Katharine Jefferts Schori essentially accused Williams -- in a nice sort of Anglican way -- of being a theological dictator. As she says in understated fashion, "Unitary control does not characterize Anglicanism." For non-Anglicans, trust me, those are fightin' words.

This is not a conservative/liberal argument (both Rowan Williams and Katharine Jefferts Schori are theologically liberal). This is a fight between rival versions of Anglicanism, a quarrel extending to the beginning of Anglicanism that has replayed itself periodically through the centuries down to our own time.

Read it all here....

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Three Bishops, No Waiting...

Three Bishops, No Waiting...

Talk about winning the culture wars! Today Kyle and I attended the blessing of a civil marriage of two men. The marriage was performed in Massachusetts and blessed in a church where one of the men is the Rector. The current Bishop of Maine, and former Canon from Rochester, The Rt. Rev. Steve Lane, officiated. The current Bishop of Rochester, The Rt. Rev. Dr. Prince Singh, celebrated the Eucharist and the retired Bishop of Rochester, The Rt. Rev. Jack McKelvey, preached. And did he preach! (McKelvey and his wife were the witnesses when Kyle and I were married in Toronto, Feb. 22, 2008.)

Coming on the heals of the Presiding Bishop calling out the Archbishop of Canterbury for his wimpy unwillingness to really get what Pentecost is really about, it crowned a week of bringing the legislative victories of General Convention to the pews of your run-of-the-mill Episcopal Parish.

But wait, there's MORE! This did not happen in San Francisco, NYC, South Beach or Provincetown. This happened in BATH, NY. In the heart of the Southern Tier of New York, trust me, this place could not be more Middle-America. The demographic of the small city in rural NY is probably little different than any village of 5,641 in Nebraska or Eastern Oregon.

I could not be happier for The Very Rev. J. Brad Benson and Dr. Carl Johengen. I hope they sent this in to the New York Times.

Likewise, I could not be prouder of the Episcopal Church!


(Photo by David Gandell)

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

New Car!

Our JEEP Grand Cherokee was push 100,000 miles and things were beginning to point toward major investments. So we headed the official car dealer of the Episcopal Diocese of Rochester and bought ourselves some new wheels. We had already decided we loved the car when we open the lift back to discover two more seats!





Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Iris Bloom Report 06/01/10

Iris Bloom Report 06/01/10

Some Late Bloomers...

Kyle's favorite flower is white... and so this was his first choice at Borglum's last year. We are not sure what its name is so as usual Dana said, "Probably a seedling, you name it." And so "Pure Frilly White it is until otherwise identified. It is so completely white, falls, standards and even the beard that it looks like a wedding dress.

The other late bloomer was in the Pleasant Valley end of the summer value pack. Not expecting all to survive I planted them all in one bed. But everyone came up and 90% of them bloomed. They were all delightful surprises and this was one of the gems. "Repartee" has peachy standards and violet falls. With a rust to purple beard surrounded by peach shoulders, it is full and dramatic. Hard to believe the rhizome cost about $2.


"Pure Frilly White"


"Repartee"

Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day 2010

Iris Bloom Report 05/31/10

Much is waning and the "Honky-Tonk Blues" is in full profusion. On this Memorial Day Weekend the little league park was hopping on Sunday afternoon when I stopped by after church. Kyle and I were house-sitting for David and Dahn. I was the leader of morning prayer in the absence of a clergy leader at St. John's. As is too often the case to be coincidence, the reading appointed was one to which I had a special connection. I shared:

I was in Boston for a conference several years ago and the principal speaker was Massachusetts State Assemblyman, General Convention Deputy Byron Rushing. He was speaking about how to respond to those who like to “proof-text,” that is to say make a point with an isolated passage form scripture out of any context.

“Simply say to them ‘John 16:12,” he said, “Then walk away. Since they are probably not Episcopalians, they won’t have to open their Bibles.” But for the sake of those of us who are he read: Jesus said to the disciples, ‘I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.’"

Since then, this passage has become part of the signature line on my e-mail. It certainly is the underpinning of the UCC campaign, “God is still speaking.”

“I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now."

Now, whenever anyone speaks to you in absolutes about what the Bible says you too can respond, “John 16:12.”






Saturday, May 29, 2010

New Irises from Borglum's

New Irises from Borglum's

And here are the new kids we brought home. "Bold Look" and "Tiger Honey" lost there blooms and a small pink one that was tucked in with another clump has not opened yet.


This was identified as a seedling by Silvia. While there are many, many named irises at the farm, there are also many that were raised from seeds and never registered. Dana and Silvia always say "You name it!"



"Celebration Song" is a lovely pastel two-tone with pale pink standards and lavender falls.


"Supreme Sultan"


"Seneca Creamsicle"


This may be the answer to the mystery question... I need to compare carefully. "Seneca Pink Delight" is a registered cultivar by Dana Borglum. "Beverly Sills" has a pink beard... so the picture I posted may be neither "Vanity" or "Sills." There is another iris about to bloom which may be the opera diva's namesake.

Borglum's Iris Farm - Annual Iris Visit


Borglum's Iris Farm - Annual Iris Visit

Friday was our first visit to Borglum's this year. We hit it spot on this time. The tall bearded iris were in full bloom. 4 acres of them.

Borglum's is on ridge in between Canandaigua Lake and Seneca Lake. This year we returned with 6 clumps and some beautiful named cultivars. Two were hybridized by Dana Borglum.



Here's the setting. Surrounded by working farms, we passed their neighbor's horse and buggy on our way in.


Name irises stretch row after row. If you want one of them Dana or Sylvia can usually point you to one in the "you dig" areas.




The area around their house is beautifully landscaped. Here a clump of "Mariposa Skies" blooms in front of the shed.




Behind Kyle is a "you dig" area. Named irises and un-named seedlings are mixed together here. You get a cart, recycled grocery bags and a shovel. For $7.50 you can dig a clump. A clump might contain one or more cultivar and could easily be split into two to four healthy rhizomes.


This display area by the barn contains irises, lupines, peonies and daylilies.


In this cultivation area you will see three of the named irises. "Seneca Creamsicle" is in the forground. Behind that is "Supreme Sultan." "Seneca Pink Delight stretches down the center of the area.


"Bold Look" came home with us...


... as did "Supreme Sultan"



Take a shovel and dig a clump!

Potted peonies in more than 50 varieties are also available...