Monday, April 21, 2008

Interview with Bishop Robinson

Last week I was driving to work and listening to NPR, as usual, and heard the beginning of Terry Gross's interview with Bishop Gene Robinson on Fresh Air. I didn't get around to listening to the whole thing online until today.

It's a great interview, as all of Terry's are. Bishop Robinson talks about Lambeth and the current debates in the Episcopal, and about his upcoming civil union with his partner Mark, his struggle with alcoholism, his personal prayer life, and basically all the means of grace in his life. We are so fortunate that the people of New Hampshire chose him as their bishop.

Listen here.

Sunday, April 20, 2008


Today is the first full day of Passover and also Palm Sunday for Orthodox Christians. While our brothers and sisters of faith (Jewish and Christian) are celebrating these spring feasts of liberation and redemption, we Western Christians are more than halfway through the Easter Season.

Like Christians for many centuries, I hate this division. I have Jewish friends and Eastern Orthodox friends and it seems like together we could offer a better witness to the world of God's goodness if we celebrated these great feasts in better harmony.

I think it is silly that in spite of repeated attempts, Christians cannot agree on a common date for Easter. I think it is silliest of Western Christians not to adopt the Eastern practice which brings Easter into proximity with Passover, thereby highlighting the historic setting of Jesus' death and Resurrection and also offering opportunities for shared reflection on God's saving grace among Jews and Christians.

But, I trust that in our silliness, God is in fact continuing to work for our liberation. So, may these feasts be opportunities for us all to seek greater unity with one another. May we remember one another in our celebrations and wish each other peace.

If God had given us each only one chance at redemption, and not continued to invite us into greater wholeness, it would have been enough, Dayenu.

Dayenu, Deyenu,

Wednesday, April 16, 2008


It is one year since the horrific shooting at Virginia Tech. I remember that day well. I was working at the University of Delaware then, just a few hours from Blacksburg, and my boss's son was a senior at Tech. He didn't have classes that day, and was supposed to leave Blacksburg to come to Delaware for the weekend. There were anxious phone calls from parish members calling to make sure he was okay. I'm sure my boss was concerned, but he assumed that no news was good news. He did get a call from his son in the afternoon who had been on the road when the shooting happened and stopped when he heard the news, knowing his dad would be worried. It's a scene that I'm sure was repeated tens of thousands of times as everyone connected with Virginia Tech was stunned and frightened.

Since then I've written here about other school shootings. None as tragic as Tech's, except to those who were actually involved. Every act of violence is tragic. And every act of love and every choice for forgiveness over revenge is a small unraveling of violence in the world. On this sad anniversary, perhaps we should each look for a way to be loving or forgiving in order to unravel some of the tragedy, and to help redeem the deaths of the Virginia Tech students and faculty.

The Rev. Scott Russell, the Episcopal Campus Minister at Tech wrote this moving essay about today. We were a part of the same province when I was at Delaware and I know Scott to be a caring, funny, and gifted priest.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Moving Forward

Just over a week ago the Church of Wales voted NOT to allow women to be ordained to the episcopate.

You'd think I'd be used to this by now, but sometimes it still catches me by surprise. I think I continue to be stunned the we human beings can be so slow to catch on and so persistent in our prejudices and ignorance. That's what I think happened in Wales. But the reality of it took me by surprise. Even after the fabulous celebration in Lodi and getting to sit at the feet of our amazing Presiding Bishop, Katharine Jefferts Schori, and after feeling my own sense of vocation affirmed and confirmed. When I read the news from Wales I cried, and felt terribly discouraged. It was like the one step back, after two steps forward.

But today comes the news that Australia has appointed a woman as assistant bishop in Perth, and so the Anglican Church of Australia becomes the fourth province in the Anglican Communion to welcome women into the episcopate. And we're moving forward again.

I'm very grateful. It doesn't make rational sense to me, but as long as there are some who say I shouldn't be a priest because I am a woman, these moves are about my own vocation, not only the Church's vocation in the world. I assume it is the same for people of color or gay and lesbian people who are told they can't do or be something because of unalterable characteristics of who they are. And so as long as their are people willing to be more inclusive of others, it is progress for all of us.

May God bless Kay Goldsworthy, and the whole Church through her ministry.

Friday, April 4, 2008

A Time to Break Silence

On the 40th anniversary of Dr. King's death, and in light of the situation we find ourselves in today with the war in Iraq and Afghanistan continuing and poverty rising in the U.S. and around the world, I want to recall a speech that Dr. King gave 41 years ago today. It was delivered at a gathering of Clergy and Laity Concerned at Riverside Church in New York City. It comes from that era of King's life in which he was most controversial, and most courageously following Christ. You can read the whole speech here. May his words again spur us on to greater compassion, greater activism, and greater faith.

"...There is something seductively tempting about stopping there and sending us all off on what in some circles has become a popular crusade against the war in Vietnam. I say we must enter the struggle, but I wish to go on now to say something even more disturbing. The war in Vietnam is but a symptom of a far deeper malady within the American spirit, and if we ignore this sobering reality we will find ourselves organizing clergy- and laymen-concerned committees for the next generation. They will be concerned about Guatemala and Peru. They will be concerned about Thailand and Cambodia. They will be concerned about Mozambique and South Africa. We will be marching for these and a dozen other names and attending rallies without end unless there is a significant and profound change in American life and policy. Such thoughts take us beyond Vietnam, but not beyond our calling as sons of the living God.

In 1957 a sensitive American official overseas said that it seemed to him that our nation was on the wrong side of a world revolution. During the past ten years we have seen emerge a pattern of suppression which now has justified the presence of U.S. military "advisors" in Venezuela. This need to maintain social stability for our investments accounts for the counter-revolutionary action of American forces in Guatemala. It tells why American helicopters are being used against guerrillas in Colombia and why American napalm and green beret forces have already been active against rebels in Peru. It is with such activity in mind that the words of the late John F. Kennedy come back to haunt us. Five years ago he said, "Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable."

Increasingly, by choice or by accident, this is the role our nation has taken -- the role of those who make peaceful revolution impossible by refusing to give up the privileges and the pleasures that come from the immense profits of overseas investment.

I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a "thing-oriented" society to a "person-oriented" society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.

A true revolution of values will soon cause us to question the fairness and justice of many of our past and present policies. n the one hand we are called to play the good Samaritan on life's roadside; but that will be only an initial act. One day we must come to see that the whole Jericho road must be transformed so that men and women will not be constantly beaten and robbed as they make their journey on life's highway. True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it is not haphazard and superficial. It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring. A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth. With righteous indignation, it will look across the seas and see individual capitalists of the West investing huge sums of money in Asia, Africa and South America, only to take the profits out with no concern for the social betterment of the countries, and say: "This is not just." It will look at our alliance with the landed gentry of Latin America and say: "This is not just." The Western arrogance of feeling that it has everything to teach others and nothing to learn from them is not just. A true revolution of values will lay hands on the world order and say of war: "This way of settling differences is not just." This business of burning human beings with napalm, of filling our nation's homes with orphans and widows, of injecting poisonous drugs of hate into veins of people normally humane, of sending men home from dark and bloody battlefields physically handicapped and psychologically deranged, cannot be reconciled with wisdom, justice and love. A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.

America, the richest and most powerful nation in the world, can well lead the way in this revolution of values. There is nothing, except a tragic death wish, to prevent us from reordering our priorities, so that the pursuit of peace will take precedence over the pursuit of war. There is nothing to keep us from molding a recalcitrant status quo with bruised hands until we have fashioned it into a brotherhood.

This kind of positive revolution of values is our best defense against communism. War is not the answer. Communism will never be defeated by the use of atomic bombs or nuclear weapons. Let us not join those who shout war and through their misguided passions urge the United States to relinquish its participation in the United Nations. These are days which demand wise restraint and calm reasonableness. We must not call everyone a Communist or an appeaser who advocates the seating of Red China in the United Nations and who recognizes that hate and hysteria are not the final answers to the problem of these turbulent days. We must not engage in a negative anti-communism, but rather in a positive thrust for democracy, realizing that our greatest defense against communism is to take offensive action in behalf of justice. We must with positive action seek to remove thosse conditions of poverty, insecurity and injustice which are the fertile soil in which the seed of communism grows and develops."

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

New Blog

As I mentioned below, I am currently working on a Doctor of Ministry project that I will finish in another few weeks. This project has become a new blog called Joining the God Movement where I will post much of the model I've designed for local communities as well as other thoughts and articles on issues of justice, peace, and the missio dei.

I hope you'll share your thoughts and ideas about how we can more fully participate in God's Reign!