Looking for Christ

November 21, 2008

As mentioned some time ago, I am no longer maintaining this site save for occassional odds and ends. Here is one of those, my senior seminary sermon. Note that the audio problems at the begin go away after a couple of minutes.

Gospel:  Luke 17:11-19

(If that doesn’t work, click here.)

My son is in third grade this year, and at Lee Elementary, that means that this is the year for the Hawaii program.  You see, each year at Lee Elementary, there is a designated play or show for each grade, a sort of liturgy for the kids (and their parents) to either look forward to or to dread, depending on their personality, gifts, and talents.  This particular year, Brian’s production was the history and culture of Hawaii.

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Chasing Cars…

May 30, 2008

I love this song by Snow Patrol.  Especially this part:  “I need your grace, to remind me to find my own.”  That is so beautiful.  It reminds me of this post I wrote a few months ago, and especially of The Body’s Grace, by Rowan Williams.

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We’ll do it all
Everything
On our own

We don’t need
Anything
Or anyone

If I lay here
If I just lay here
Would you lie with me and just forget the world?

Read the rest of this entry »

I know, I know: I just said I was done writing for a while. But I have had something on my mind lately and I’ve decided to write this post, so maybe I’m pulling a Barbra Streisand…

What has caught my eye lately is all of the political fuss over Geraldine Ferraro and the Clinton campaign—the allegations of sexism and racism and the furor it has generated. It seems to me that much of the same stuff gets roiled up in church politics: secular advocacy rolls over into the church because we don’t (and shouldn’t) compartmentalize our lives between what happens in the public square and what happens in our houses of worship.

Perhaps what should happen, though, that doesn’t happen as often, is that we should take our gospel values into the public square (keeping the separation of church and state distinct, for reasons I’ve discussed elsewhere). Those values, I think, shed some light on the problems that have been raised in the recent political campaigns. Namely, inequality in power and the resulting injustice cannot be solved by obtaining and using the same kind of power that originally created the inequality. To do so is a little bit like using the military to oust a military dictator in a coup, and then putting another dictator in his place. Perhaps the new dictator has a different face, but he is still a dictator. It does not fundamentally change the dynamic of the power structure. Read the rest of this entry »

“Today I met the boy…”

I have been thinking of late, as I read more about the diferences between eastern and western psychology, of desire and risk.  I’ve been studying Comfortable with Uncertainty and it has been going painfully slow.  Each two page section takes me about a week to process, as the Buddist teacher Pema Chodron talks about what it takes to have an open heart by rending your own in order to find compassion, loving-kindness, patience, and mercy.

I was reminded this weekend of the not-yet-Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan William’s essay The Body’s Grace.  It is either a “light-academic” or “heavy non-academic” read, but manageable either way and worth the time.  It absolutely revolutionalized the way I think about sex and desire.  I say revolutionalized but crystalized is a better word.  He articulates, as good theologians do, what we already know to be true deep within us, in the essence that comes from our divine maker, from the breath of life.

I’ve been thinking about a guy this weekend.  It is interesting, this desire.  Western psychology, it almost seems to me, would have us surpress our feelings until they are safe.  Maybe it is just me, but the advice I have gotten from my friends, and even when I think back to advice from my many days in therapy, the advice when beginning to take an interest in a guy is this:  don’t get carried away.  Don’t let your feelings get the best of you. Read the rest of this entry »

Communion Denied

May 22, 2007

If you haven’t heard, the invitations to Lambeth 2008 are in the mail.

Well, most of them.  A few are notably missing and will never arrive.

Read the press release here and The Living Church’s coverage here.

So +Gene will not be invited to Lambeth, but may attend as a guest, and Minns and Murphy (of CANA and AMiA) will not be invited either.

Hmmpph.

So much for Communion and Reconciliation. Read the rest of this entry »

Imagine…

March 9, 2007

A song with a gay singer singing “why don’t you come with me little boy, on a magic carpet ride.”

A movie with an older gentleman who has sexual dreams and fantasies about the high school boy next door.

I could keep going, but when I heard the old song “Magic Carpet Ride” on the radio this morning, I started thinking about the hyposcrisy of the complaints the religious right against us.  (That song is about a man, singing “why don’t you come with me little girl.”)  They use secular gay activities against gay Christians.  Imagine if the tables were turned.  The movie “American Beauty” is the second example.  (In the movie, a middle aged man has fantasies about the high school girl next door.)  If that were a gay movie, there would be a public outcry from the Christian right and the movie would have been shut down.

I’m not arguing for the “rightness” of these examples within their heterosexual context (nor if they were to be done in a GLBT context), only for the hypocrisy of the Christian right.

We argue in the church for Christian ethics.  We don’t argue for every single activity that every single gay person has ever performed to be considered appropriate for Christian living. Read the rest of this entry »

I’m currently reading Know My Name: A Gay Liberation Theology, by Richard Cleaver.  I have referred in several comments and posts over the past several days to our distinct lens for reading scripture as a gay and lesbian people.  I am holding up Cleaver’s example as such a topic.  The Samaritan parable, held up by Jesus as a parable of “Who is our neighbor?,” so often is interpreted by the established institutions as a parable focused on the injured traveler, as Cleaver points out.  Of course, if we examine our history and look through the lens of the time, that was not the point.  The point was to focus on the Samaritan– someone who had a completely different take on religion than did the Jerusalem religious establishment.  The injured traveler was only a tool of the parable to demonstrate the importance of action rather than doctrine.  Read on!  (from pp. 5-7 of the book).

A traveler was going from Jerusalem to Jericho when some muggers attacked him.  They not only took his money, they took his dignity too:  they beat him up and stole his clothes, then ran away, leaving him half-dead in the gutter.

Soon a bishop came by.  He was on his way home after going to Jerusalem to pick up a car given to him by a Cadillac dealer there, who was one of the biggest financial supporters of the diocese.  The car rode beautifully, and the bishop particularly appreciated the cream-colored glove-leather upholstery.  A little luxurious, perhaps, but after all (the bishop was thinking as he took the curve just beyond Bethany), good quality wears better than shoddy goods.  In the long run, what looks like luxury is prudence.

Just beyond the curve, where the road descends to the Jordan Valley, he noticed something piled beside the road.  “Litterbugs” was his first thought, but when he got closer, he could see it was a body.  He slowed to see more, wondering if he should stop, and noticed that whoever it was had been beaten and was bleeding.  He didn’t really want blood all over the interior of his new car, but somehow that seemed like a petty reason not to stop.  Then he realized that the person was naked.  That settled it; it would never do for a bishop to be seen with a naked person in his car.  Think of the scandal!  Preserving the good name of the church was more important than any passing act of charity, especially in times when the institution was under attack from wild, semi-educated preachers from the backwoods– and trying to keep the goodwill of the colonial administration, too.  Anyway, this was a job for the social service professionals.  Their agencies got a lot of funding from the diocese.  It wasn’t as if the bishop weren’t helping indirectly.  He drove on. 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 »

On Good Sportsmanship

June 21, 2006

I knew as a boy that when playing sports there were two things you could do when you were playing an opponent who I clearly had the better of- who I had the skills, gifts, or whatever to just really overpower on the playing field.  I could either 1)  get the advantage and, once I had the advantage and secured victory play at my advantage while allowing the other player the grace to feel enough strength to be able to compete; or 2) get the advantage, keep the advantage, and just really smear the other player all over the place- to wipe him into the ground and show him that I had the superior talent.  I was taught that good sportsmanship dictated that the former is preferable.  I believe it is the former that we are called to practice as members of the Body of Christ. 

I've read a lot of disappointment in the 30 minutes or so since the General Convention announced the moratorium on gay and lesbian bishops.  I've seen voices that wanted, despite the overwhelming "victory" of this convention, to clean up, to wipe the "opponent" out, to eradicate any chance of a comeback.

I'm not so disappointed.  I'm not willing to devalue the rest of the communion in such a way.  It's just not how I was raised, despite my strong disagreements with their teachings.

I think what we are doing helps us to send a clear message to the rest of the communion that we do value them, and that we are willing to give and take in this relationship.  I think the much, much bigger issue is the issue of same-gender marriage, and thank goodness we did not offer that up in this compromise.  Only a few people can be consecrated as bishops, and we have many other bishops willing to act on our behalf.  But we have many, many folks affected by the discrimination against us in the sacrament of marriage.  That is something we can't stand for. Read the rest of this entry »