Lent

I don’t know what to give up for Lent this year. Basically, I have all day to figure out what I can go without for 40 days before Easter.

I wish I could give up toxic people, but the best I can do is to avoid them and not let them into my life. Somehow, meeting them is unavoidable. I know there are circumstances where it’s inevitable (like bosses and co-workers), but I’m thankful that part is minimal.

Any suggestions?

Akinola and Company (with focus on Company)

A friend of mine forwarded this to me. The Reverend Susan Russell comments on our lovely Anglican friends in Nigeria. It’s nice to know Akinola and Company (one mentioned here) and their American minions (the American Anglicans) are so concerned about butt sex.
——————–

Nothing like a little rabid rhetoric from Nigeria — that bastion of
Christian orthodoxy — along with your morning cup of coffee to get your
Wednesday morning going:

>From UPI:
http://www.upi.com/AfricaMonitoring/view.php?StoryID=20070902-831713-6007-r

The Anglican Bishop of Uyo, Rt. Rev. Isaac Orama, has condemned the
activities of homosexuals and lesbians, and described those engaged in them
as “insane people.” “Homosexuality and lesbianism are inhuman. Those who
practice them are insane, satanic and are not fit to live because they are
rebels to God’s purpose for man,” the bishop said.

Inhuman.

Not fit to live.

I just saw the piece on Google alerts but Fr. Jake had the story yesterday
… check him out before you email/comment that this is just one Nigerian
Nutcase who stands alone.

Inhuman.

Not fit to live.

This is what we’re up against, people. If anybody out there is deluding
themselves that this is just a “gentleman’s disagreement” about polity or
theology or hermeneutics then here’s your wake-up call:

http://tinyurl.com/29bsgc

Acknowledgement: This post is an excerpt from The Reverend Susan Russell’s blog, An Inch At A Time.

Distractions Behind The Pulpit & Keys Falling Down A Pocket In The Universe

What a weekend it has been.

For the first part of the title: I attended services at St. Paul’s this morning this morning and the guest preacher was John Fanestil. His sermon was about social justice in response to the Gospel reading of the the woman who washed Jesus’s feet with ointment from the alabaster flask, but I was incredibly distracted. I found him very handsome and he was about 6’2″ (another plus). Clergymen aren’t supposed to that good-looking? Or should they?

On Friday, I bought a copy of Armistead Maupin‘s Michael Tolliver Lives. I’ll say more about this in a post after this one. I read this one all weekend and finished it this morning.

Also on Friday, I also went to Sephora in Fashion Valley and bought myself Burberry London as a treat for making it through the first week of the summer course. Well, I do have some other motives for buying the fragrance.

As I was waiting in line to pay for this gift to myself, a friend of mine called me and wanted me to go with him to Top of the Park. This friend of mine can at times have no manners at all and be very pushy, and he was adamant about wanting to go to the Friday night rooftop cocktail party, but I didn’t want to go. I just wanted to go home and read my book before I met another friend of mine at 11pm for some boba. Somehow, my protest that I had nothing to wear didn’t make him back off. Word of advice: never use this excuse with the fashion-challenged unless you can shame them. I compromised and met him for drinks. He’s the type of person who likes to be in crowded places, but I wasn’t quite in the mood as my daytime attire didn’t translate well into evening. I managed to have a good time despite that I really didn’t want to be there, and I barely drove home after a couple of beers. I had to call my other friend to pick me up instead of meeting him at the boba place.

I did have a brief talk with my pushy friend on Saturday morning after he called me the next morning and aggressively invited me to go biking and rollerblading with him. Being Japanese, I don’t like to say “no” at all, and I’ll give a reason or an excuse instead. However, I realized I had to adjust my communication style with him and just hit him over the head with “no.” I told him that’s how I’ll have to deal with him in the future and then he backed off. While I may find my friend’s trait annoying at times, he is a very good friend of mine and I value his insight at times.

My friend called me again later in the evening and he was itching to go out. However, I had the novel to keep me company on Saturday evening and I told him that. He suggested going out to Urban Mo’s, but I already had my fill of restaurant food for the past few days. He was bored and restless. I asked him if he could just read a book, and he didn’t want to do that (he normally is an avid reader). As a joke, I suggested he wank. He wasn’t into that suggestion either. He met someone at Top of the Park and was waffling about calling him. Where is the pushiness when he needs it. I told him to make the call.

I did join pushy friend and a friend to the service on Sunday morning where I was distracted by the clergyman. Afterwards, we went out to Brians after lunch.

After parting ways with my friend, I went out for an afternoon of errands. Sometime after I got home, I lost my keys. I don’t know how this happened, but my keys are gone. I turned everything upside down, but I still couldn’t find them. One nagging suspicion is that I left them at the car wash or at Target, but there is no good explanation of how I could have driven home and lost my keys. I don’t remember re-attaching the car key to the rest of the keys, so anything is possible. The house keys are easily duplicated and my brother had a back up copy of my car key, so not all is lost. I just hate that the keys seem to have fallen through a pocket in the universe.

Kudos to Archbishop Desmond Tutu

Here is a man more worthy of screentime on ShindoTV: Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa. On the BBC website, Tutu mentions there are more pressing issues in Africa, yet many of his fellow Anglicans have focused on homosexuality. Some are more worried about gay priests than they are about other issues: poverty, disease, and political corruption. Tutu says:

We’ve, it seems to me, been fiddling whilst as it were our Rome was burning. At a time when our continent has been groaning under the burden of HIV/Aids, of corruption.

There are so many issues crying out for concern and application by the church of its resources, and here we are, I mean, with this kind of extraordinary obsession.

Bishop Akinola, are you listening? African nations such as Nigeria and Zimbabwe are in turmoil, yet you’re preoccupied with gays when you are in a position to help your fellow Nigerians and other Africans.

The Most Reverend Tutu, you’re my hero.

Kudos to Archbishop Desmond Tutu

Here is a man more worthy of screentime on ShindoTV: Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa. On the BBC website, Tutu mentions there are more pressing issues in Africa, yet many of his fellow Anglicans have focused on homosexuality. Some are more worried about gay priests than they are about other issues: poverty, disease, and political corruption. Tutu says:

We’ve, it seems to me, been fiddling whilst as it were our Rome was burning. At a time when our continent has been groaning under the burden of HIV/Aids, of corruption.

There are so many issues crying out for concern and application by the church of its resources, and here we are, I mean, with this kind of extraordinary obsession.

Bishop Akinola, are you listening? African nations such as Nigeria and Zimbabwe are in turmoil, yet you’re preoccupied with gays when you are in a position to help your fellow Nigerians and other Africans.

The Most Reverend Tutu, you’re my hero.

Further thoughts on Bishop Akinola

I wonder if Peter Akinola‘s controversy over homosexuality and stirring up conservative Episcopal/American Anglican congregations to join him is less about morality and more about the money the arch-diocese of Nigeria will gain from defector churches. While many African Anglican diocese receive assistance funds from the American Episcopal Church, much of it goes to feeding the hungry and providing medical care for AIDS and malaria. That Akinola is willing to forgo this leads me to think he’s counting on revenue from American parishes that put themselves under his leadership. While Nigeria may be able to play the numbers game by claiming more members nationally, financial contributions from fewer, but more affluent American members may be the pay-off Akinola seeks as he courts angry conservatives who aren’t happy with the ordination of women, gays, and lesbians. Why else would he be so moved to declare the “growing acceptance of homosexals a satanic attack on the church.”

Update:
Here is the American Bishop’s response to Akinola’s planned visit to the US.

Meddlesome Bishop Ignores His Own Back Yard

This post on Wayne Besen’s website is very interesting. Peter Akinola, the Anglican archbishop of Nigeria, has some very screwed up priorities. Instead of being concerned with the well being of Nigerian citizens (among which are his parishioners) in the wake of a rigged election, he is more upset about us in the US and if the Episcopal Church has a gay bishop (Gene Robinson of New Hampshire). Political instability, poverty, and disease ravage his country, yet he leads a moral outcry against the US. As Besen points out, what about the issues in Nigeria? While he is not a member of the government, he is one of the most influential people in that nation. Like most moral crusaders, he uses sex as a red herring to distract from the issues he fails to address. As bishop, he could do well to follow the example of Desmond Tutu, a bishop whose work for peace first began with being a voice against apartheid and human rights abuses in South Africa.

One bishop did speak out about the Nigerian election, but it wasn’t Akinola.

Easter Vigil at St. Paul’s Cathedral

I went to the Easter Vigil at St. Paul’s Cathedral and took some photos. The first part of the service is beautiful. The nave is completely dark and the only lighting are the candles everyone holds in one hand while holding the liturgical program in the other. I tried taking numerous photos to capture the candlelight, but this one below is the only one I like:

I tried taking pictures of the bishop and the rest of the clergy when they were at the baptismal font, but I could barely see a thing in those pics. This congregation candlelight shot was the best one, despite its blur.

The Very Reverend Scott Richardson (Cathedral Dean), as usual, preaches an amazingly intelligent and deep sermon.

Several clergy members, including the Very Reverend Scott Richardson. Two of the priests are women, which is really cool.

A shot of the congregation before the service is over.

Here is another shot of the congregation with the Right Reverend James Mathis (San Diego Bishop) in the background.

This is the second time I’ve ever taken photos inside a sanctuary during a service. The last time I did that was during a Michaelmas service at St. Paul’s on K. Street in DC. I also took tons of pictures at the National Cathedral, but that was before the evensong service.

Happy Easter!

Surfing the Episcopal Blogosphere

As usual, I always find Susan Russell’s An Inch At a Time to be insightful. Her recent entry about conservative dirty fighting and using Levitical issues to distract on frome more germane ones, such as the war, poverty, etc, is definitely thought provoking. I definitely admire her for her outspokenness.

Here is a recent article in the New York Times about the division in the Episcopal Church.

Peter Akinola, the Anglican Primate of Nigeria, creeps me out. As an openly gay man and an American Episcopalian, I find him to be extremely frustrating (to put it kindly). He is the leading international voice of homophobia in the Anglican Communion. He is a voice of violence, whether it is implicity against LGBT people or counter-violence against Muslims in Nigeria. And he has become influential in some extremely conservative factions of the American Episcopal Church. Normally, xenophobic right wingers (as Susan Russell observes) would never dream of placing the US under foreign influence, but this is what a few them wish to do regarding episcopal authority. Certain issues are anathema to them – the new national bishop is a woman, but more dangerous to them is the presence of LGBT in the church. An entry about Peter Akinola on titusonenine has some sampling of conservative responses. This was the most chilling response:

We need to defrock Griswold & elevate Bishop Peter Akinola to take over as Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church USA. He seems to be a man of faith & conviction which are characteristics that Mr. Griswold lacks. I have no problem the network becoming aligned with the Global South and the Southern Cone. The Anglican Communion is + Rowan Williams’ to loose.

Most of the responses seem to echo the one above, but thanfully, someone speaks up:

It is one thing to consider homosexuality a sin, based on one’s reading of Scripture, and to preach against it, it is quite another to express the kind of hateful venom Peter Akinola has expressed and to do so while watching one’s people suffer poverty as one sits in one’s limo is atrocious. His sucking up to tyrants, while hardly unique to him, is another blot on him and his message. We kill our brothers and sisters if we call them fools. How many such murders has Peter Akinola committed with his rhetoric? I doubt saying someone is sinning is tantamount to murder, but saying some is a brute beast and less than a dog surely is. As someone seriously struggling with this issue, I look to those who practice the love of neighbour which Christ said is the second commandment and like to the first, which is love of God. I do not find such Christian love in anything Akinola does or says. Not saying I find clear Christianity on the other side either, but if Akinola represents what it is to be Christian, I have to wonder whose teachings I am reading in the Gospels.

It’s tempting to have a Sinead O’Connor type of moment where one would rip up Akinola’s photo and proclaim, “Fight the real enemy!” It has theatrical appeal, but assaulting the image of this man would accomplish nothing. The question is, how does one deal with an international bully, especially since we live in the age of the bullies?

An Open Letter From Bishop Robinson

Well, I picked a hell of a time to become an Episcopalian. I’m here to stay unless told otherwise. Here is the open letter from Bishop Robinson regarding the recent General Convention, forwarded to me from the local Integrity e-mail list.

June 24, 2006

An Open Letter to my Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgendered Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

From V. Gene Robinson, Bishop in the Church of God in a blessed place called New Hampshire:

Many of you have been writing to me, in the aftermath of General Convention, to ask what I am thinking, now that the Convention has called upon the Church to deny consent to the consecration of partnered people as bishops. Frankly, like all of you, my thinking is all over the map. But here is where I am, only a few days later.

First, let’s give ourselves some time to recover. In the first few moments of having the breath knocked out of us, we struggle just to breathe, unable to think about much of anything other than getting some oxygen back into our lungs. We have been dealt a blow that has knocked the wind out of us. Let’s be kind to ourselves, breathe a little, before we try to move on. Nothing has to be decided or done in the next few hours or days. Let’s catch our breath, remembering that breath is a powerful image of the Holy Spirit in the Old and New Testaments. Let’s allow ourselves to be re-infused with that Holy Spirit which has never abandoned us, no matter what the Church does or doesn’t do.

Let’s remember what DID happen at the General Convention. Faithful gay and lesbian Episcopalians showed up and witnessed to the power of Almighty God working in and through their lives. You would have been SO PROUD of Integrity, Claiming the Blessing, the Episcopal Women’s Caucus, The Witness, and countless other groups speaking on our behalf. Susan Russell, Michael Hopkins, Carol Cole Flanagan, Elizabeth Kaeton, Bonnie Perry and others too numerous to mention put their hearts, souls and every waking moment into representing ALL of us so very well and so faithfully. We owe them such a great debt. Faithful gay and lesbian Episcopalians were EVERYWHERE, witnessing to God’s saving grace in their lives – being so joyful and filled with God’s Spirit, there was no denying God’s love in their lives.

We gathered at Trinity Church to celebrate the eucharist as the people of God. Not only were the nave and balconies filled, but the basement and sacristy as well, with gay and straight alike proclaiming God’s love for ALL of God’s children. It was a glimpse of heaven, and of the Church as it ought to be. Let’s not forget that we have been given a foretaste of the heavenly banquet where the marginalized are given an honored seat at the table.

The Episcopal Church declared its opposition to any constitutional amendment – federal or state – which would short circuit gay and lesbian couples seeking the civil right of having their relationships legally acknowledged.

On Sunday, we elected a Presiding Bishop who is committed to the full inclusion of gay and lesbian people into the life and work and leadership of this Church. The Spirit was palpable, once again in Trinity Church, as the election balloting unfolded before our very eyes, pushing forward to the election of the first woman as Primate and Presiding Bishop. If indeed, as I have often said, this fight is really about the end of patriarchy, then that patriarchy was dealt an awesome blow in +Katharine’s election. When the primates next meet, it will be a new day, and at the table will be a representative of the world’s majority – women – incarnate in our primate. Thanks be to God for that! You go, girl!

To our joy, the House of Deputies refused to give in to threats from within and without our Church, and decisively rejected the call to withhold consent from partnered people elected to the Episcopate. We thought that was the end of it. But alas, it was not.

+Frank Griswold – who, let us remember, has been a sometimes reluctant, but ever faithful champion for us, and who has paid a great price for presiding at my consecration – brought back the “moratorium” resolution in a heavy-handed and inappropriate way (in my humble opinion). He seemed absolutely intent on getting this resolution through as a way of getting us all to the Lambeth table.

I don’t know whether or not our Presiding Bishop-elect was coerced or merely persuaded to join in this appeal, but it is clear to me that her support for such an action provided the push needed to convince the Deputies to adopt a resolution more prohibitive than the one they had rejected the day before. Gay and lesbian deputies, many in tears, not to mention our straight allies, rose to the microphones to pledge their support of our new primate as she goes off to represent us in unfriendly places, to “give her what she needs” to continue the conversation. The scene of gay and lesbian deputies, willing to fall on their own swords for the presumed good of the Church, voting for this resolution against their own self-interest was an act of self-sacrifice that I won’t soon forget.

Keeping us in conversation with the Anglican Communion was the goal – for which the price was declaring gay and lesbian people unfit material for the episcopate. Only time will tell whether or not even that was accomplished. Within minutes – yes, MINUTES – the conservatives both within our Church and in Africa declared our sacrificial action woefully inadequate. It felt like a kick in the teeth to the ones who had gotten down on their knees to submit to the will of the whole, even though the price of doing so was excruciating. Such a quick, obviously premeditated and patently cruel reaction from the Right can be seen only as the violent and unchristian act it was.

So what now?

It is too soon to strategize, too soon to know what it all means. But here are a few things I DO know:

The Spirit IS working in the Church. We cannot claim that the Spirit is working in the Church only when we get our way. We must continue to believe that that Spirit is working even when the Church takes an action which hurts us, when it seems to take us in the wrong direction. We are in this struggle for the long haul, and so is the Spirit. We cannot fathom at the moment how this turn of events serves justice. But God will not be mocked, and God will be our salvation. Let’s not forget that.

We are STILL loved beyond our wildest imagining. That was true the day before Convention; it is still true. This vote does not change that. Just because the Church lost its courage, just because the Church was willing to sacrifice US for access to a conversation with Anglicans around the world (which they hardly seem ready to engage in themselves), it does NOT mean that God has changed. If you listen carefully, God is STILL saying to God’s lgbt children, “You are my beloved. In you I am well pleased.” This vote may say a lot about the Episcopal Church, but it says NOTHING about you and me as gay and lesbian children of God. Blessed Martin Luther King once said, “Pontius Pilate’s sin was not that he didn’t KNOW what was right, but
that he lacked the courage to STAND UP for right.” Pray for the Church.

We are in this for the long haul. OF COURSE there are going to be bumps along the road, perhaps a few places where the road has washed out completely. The journey toward justice is neither a straight line nor easy. Just ask our brothers and sisters who are people of color, and still experiencing the pain of racism. Just ask our sisters who still pay the price of sexism and misogyny, both inside and outside the Church. We follow a savior who dealt with plenty of setbacks and disappointments – not to mention being “done in” by his friends. We are in good company here. But we won’t last for the long haul without Jesus! Let’s keep saying our prayers and listening to the One who knows and shares our burden.

We’ll be watching. Now that the Anglican Communion and the majority of Convention have gotten what they asked for, let’s see if anything changes. Will the rest of the Communion finally be willing to engage in the listening process promised for the last 30 years? Will anything be done in the domestic dioceses of this Church to move us along, or will this only be seen as a “blessed” respite from this debate? Will the Network dioceses and parishes give up their blatant drive to split this church apart and join us in our efforts to be reconciled, or will they only cry “not enough” and demand more? We’ll be watching – and we’ll want the “middle” to give us an accounting of what this Convention vote got them. And we’ll be asking, “Was it worth declaring us less than children of God, marked as Christ’s own forever?”

We are not defeated, for God is still with us. Let’s remember that at its best, the Church has pushed the “pause” button, not the “stop” or “reverse” buttons. If we continue to make our witness, and if those for whom this sacrifice was made continue to threaten and make one-sided demands, the Episcopal Church will see its mistake and find its prophetic voice again. Maybe it will even repent of the harm done to us in this faithless and fearful act. Time will tell. In the meantime, we are not defeated, nor will we be paralyzed by this sad and woeful action. Dwelling on what happened and why will not serve us or the Church well. We need to turn away from yesterday and focus on tomorrow.

We know how all this is going to end. It is not arrogant to say that we believe we know how all this is going to turn out. It will end with the full inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people in the life and ministry and leadership of the Church. It will take a long time. Some or all of us may not live to see it. But happen it will! In a strange way, I think the conservatives know it too. All we’re arguing about now is timing. It will be enough for each of us to play her/his own part. Each of us can provide a pair of shoulders for someone else to stand on, just as surely as we stand on the shoulders of those who have gone before us. This is a never-ending march toward justice for ALL, and NO ONE is going to be left behind. In the end, the reign of God will come. And oh what a privilege it is for each of us to play a small part.

We are worthy of God’s love – NOT because of anything we have done, but because God has MADE us worthy to stand before God through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. As I said at Convention, the Gay Agenda is JESUS! If we keep that ever before us, in the end all will be well.

I love, respect, appreciate and honor each of you more than you could ever know. Please keep me in your prayers, as you will be in mine. And to God be the glory!

+Gene