From Monday’s Austin American Statesman:

Gay rights in the Mexican desert

Border state of Coahuila passes law recognizing gay unions.


MEXICO CITY BUREAU
Monday, January 29, 2007

SALTILLO, Coahuila — San Francisco this isn’t.

Here on the outskirts of the forbidding Chihuahua desert, where ranches sprawl for miles and cowboy culture rules, life is marked by a conservative streak that dates back to the Spanish friars of the 1500s.

So, many residents in the border state of Coahuila were surprised this month when the state legislature approved civil unions for gay couples, instantly placing Texas’ neighbor on the vanguard of gay rights in the Americas. Coahuila joins Mexico City, Buenos Aires and a southern state in Brazil as Latin American locales approving gay unions.

Click here for the rest.

And my commentary:  The town of Piedras Negras, which I wrote about here, is in Coahuila.  If the conservative deserts of Mexico can be transformed by the ever increasingly revelatory picture of just how big God’s love is- from the days of the friars’ colonization and imposed culture upon the indiginous people to today when we GLBT people are now free of legal discrimination there (unfortnately, just across the border in Texas that is not true…yet), there is truly hope for freedom for everyone in God’s vision which continues to unfold before us.

j

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MLK’s Committment

January 31, 2007

Commitment Card

Martin Luther King, Jr.
1963 

I hereby pledge myself—my person and body—to the nonviolent movement. Therefore I will keep the following ten commandments:

  1. Meditate daily on the teachings and life of Jesus.
  2. Remember always that the non—violent movement seeks justice and reconciliation — not victory.
  3. Walk and talk in the manner of love, for God is love.
  4. Pray daily to be used by God in order that all men might be free.
  5. Sacrifice personal wishes in order that all men might be free.
  6. Observe with both friend and foe the ordinary rules of courtesy.
  7. Seek to perform regular service for others and for the world.
  8. Refrain from the violence of fist, tongue, or heart.
  9. Strive to be in good spiritual and bodily health.
  10. Follow the directions of the movement and of the captain on a demonstration.

I sign this pledge, having seriously considered what I do and with the determination and will to persevere.

Name____________________Address__________________ Phone___________________

Nearest Relative___________Address__________________

Besides demonstrations, I could also help the movement by:

(Circle the proper items)Run errands, Drive my car, Fix food for volunteers, Clerical work, Make phone calls, Answer phones, Mimeograph, Type, Print Signs, Distribute leaflets.
 

ALABAMA CHRISTIAN MOVEMENT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS


Birmingham Affiliate of S.C.L.C.
505 ½ North 17th Street

F.L. Shuttlesworth, President

To:  ebuchanan@house.wyoming.com, tross@wyoming.comg.bagby@bresnan.net, kDecaria@senate.wyoming.com

Subject:  Gay Marriage Bill- Vote Against

I am a seminarian in the Episcopal Church, working towards ordination to the priesthood.

I am deeply saddened to hear of recent passage by the Senate judiary committee of a bill that would outlaw Wyoming’s recognition of perfectly valid marriages from other states due to discrimination based on sexual orientation.

The idea that the bill was passed in compliance with the Federal Defense of Marriage Act is no veil for the discrimination supporting this bill.  The Defense of Marriage Act in no way, shape or form requires states to enact such legislation.  We all know that nearly all benefits from marriage derive from state law, and the Federal Defense of Marriage Act only withdraws federal benefits to married same-gender partners– it does not in any way compel other states not to recognize valid marriages between two loving and committed people.

Fair-minded people understand that civil rights of marriage belong to all committed people in a relationship that want them, regardless of sexual orientation.  Religious institutions can voluntarily withdraw or extend the religious benefits of marriage to those whom they chose as they have historically.  Marriage is only strengthened by extension of its benefits to those who are committed to each other in fidelity, monogamy, committment, and love.

I love Yellowstone National Park.  Wyoming is a wonderland and playground for America.

If Wyoming passes this bill, I will sadly forgo the opportunity to take my children there.  My children do not need to be exposed to a people who cannot understand the difference between learning to accept each other in loving disagreement and legalized discrimination.

Jeff Martinhauk

Austin, Texas

Rowan does not get his way

January 29, 2007

British Prime Minister Tony Blair has realized that the church is out of touch with the culture, that it is falling behind, and resistant to the progressing revelation of Christ in today’s world.

“British Prime Minister Tony Blair on Monday said he has rejected demands from the Roman Catholic Church that churches and faith-based organizations be exempted from new legislation protecting the civil rights of the gays and lesbians.”

“Last week the head of the Roman Catholic Church in England, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, threatened to shut down the Church-run adoption agency rather than submit to the regulations that could force it to allow gays and lesbians to be adoptive parents. He was backed up by Anglican and evangelical leaders.”

“I support the right of gay couples to apply to adopt like any other couple,” Blair said at a news conference. “That is why there can be no exemptions for faith-based adoption agencies offering publicly funded services from regulations which prevent discrimination.”

See the whole article here.

As usual, this is my own analysis and not that of any organization I affiliate with. 

From this June, 2006 Press Release, Archbishop of Canterbury:

“It is imperative to give the strongest support to the defence of homosexual people against violence, bigotry and legal disadvantage, to appreciate the role played in the life of the church by people of homosexual orientation…”

Contrasted with this January, 2007 Press Release, regarding the possible adoption in England of broad anti-discrimination laws protecting sexual orientation from discrimination, Archbishop of Canterbury and Archbishop of York:

“It is vitally important that the interests of vulnerable children are not relegated to suit any political interest.”

That was followed by the continuing revelations as reported in the Telegraph this morning that there is at least one person in Lambeth who sees things the way the Rt. Rev. Marshall of Bethlehem, PA sees it:  “I cannot help but anticipate that [++Rowan] will be remembered as having chosen a path that was not courageous or well-defined and actually fostered schism.”

++Rowan has written a lot about culture.  I don’t presume to know enough about English culture to know how to respond to his position against gay adoption– partially because it is written in typically English vaguery (another cultural difference) and partially because I don’t fully get the cultural significance of his comments on the issue.  Of course if it was in the U.S. I would be appalled at the insinuation that GLBT families might have any different considerations than any other families, as it feeds the myth that pedophilia and pederasty occurs more in gay and lesbian people than it does elsewhere.  Of course this is just blatant nonsense, hogwash, rubbish.  We make excellent parents, mediocre parents, even bad parents– just like straight people do.  Our orientation has no effect on our parenting ability.

But I do get that it seems to be in full contradiction with his earlier statement that the church must be in full support of ending legal discrimination.  That I get.

I also get that to make such a divisive statement at a time when the issue itself is so polarizing– both here and in the U.K.–  calls into question all of the issues raised in the Telegraph article. Read the rest of this entry »

This is a slightly modified version of a reflection paper I turned in for my recent January term class on Cross-Cultural Ministry.  It was a three-week intensive course, with several immersion experiences including a three-day trip to Piedras Negras, a town just over the Texas border of Mexico, including visits to several colonias, or very impoverished neighborhoods, which are described below.  Read about the local press response to us in my initial post here.  After describing the experiences of the trip, I relate this back to our problems in the U.S. and the Anglican Communion.

    Humility.  That is what I felt as I stood among the people in the colonias.  Knowing that these people had found empty state-owned land, used whatever resources they could find to scrap together homes that would barely pass as shelter for farm animals in my country; that in many cases they did not have utilities—no water, electricity, sewers, nor heating in the 30 degree weather; I felt humility.  I remember greeting one woman, looking into her face, smiling after introducing myself, and saying, “Es fria?” as a way to make conversation.  In response to asking her whether it was cold, she looked at me blankly—as if it was an irrelevant question.  I later reflected, as I grew colder and colder during the day and realized that the only building we would be in with heat was our hotel, that being cold was just a way of life during the winter.  Perhaps it is dramatizing the story, but saying, “it’s cold” was as ridiculous as saying “there is air.”  It was just part of their life.

    At the first colonia, we passed out bags of flour and cans of infant formula to those who were present.  When we ran out, we went to the van and distributed the Mexican candy we had purchased for our personal use to the children present.  There was enough flour to give a few people two bags.  Then, my heart broke when I realized that more people were still coming.  A boy with only one leg was slowly working his way up the street to meet us surrounded by his family—his disability made them late to the offering and so they did not receive food.  An elderly woman who got there late pleaded for blankets because she was cold.  She also wanted food—she had only eaten a tortilla and two cups of tea the day before.  We had neither blankets nor food left for her.

    As we drove away from that colonia, I cried.  I questioned my theology of abundance.  There was scarcity here.  There simply wasn’t enough.  Even though down the street there was a store packed full of all the things that these people needed, even though there are enough resources in the world to feed all the hungry and we have decided not to distribute them, there wasn’t enough here. Read the rest of this entry »

I’m just wrapping up a special January term studying the relationship between culture, faith, and religion.

It has been the most relevant course for so many reasons.

I only have 10 minutes before I have to be back in class for our last session, so I have to make this short.  But there was something said yesterday that I thought was particularly important.

We talked about the inculturation of religion through the ages– everything from the adoption of the name “Easter” for the resurrection from the pagan god Estre (goddess of dawn) to the dates for the Ember Days– set from the solstice and equinox days, days used in religions all over the globe based on the astronomical calendar.

Hopefully I can write more about this later, but the point is this:

If we study “theological anthropology” we find that the “official religion” breaks down only into local religion.  A quote by William Christian sums this up, “All religion is local.”  There are those seeking the “pure faith”– but I think such a thing does not exist.  Creeds, doctrines, and dogma only summarize a particular point of view at a particular point in time, usually by a particular culture.  But they are molded locally and infused with local culture to make something different.

That is why we are having such difficulty in the Anglican Communion.  There is a search for some for a “pure faith.”  But what is the “pure faith?”  It means something different to all of us based on our own local culture, our own local experience.  “Pure faith” is an illusion. Read the rest of this entry »