Daily Archives: June 7, 2008

The Bishop of El Camino Real Offers Guidelines for Same Sex Blessings

Dear Friends,

Greetings to you of Grace and Joy! I write to let you know of my reflections as well as of new liturgical guidelines in light of the new opportunity for gay and lesbian persons to marry in the state of California. First of all, let me express my personal joy in the Supreme Court decision. While this victory is not yet complete, the Supreme Court’s decision is a deep breath of freedom that has been long awaited and fought for. Take in its refreshing spirit and all that this means for gays and lesbians not only here in California but for those around the world who do not experience a fraction of the freedom we enjoy in our country.

After reflecting with our Standing Committee, other California bishops, the chair of the Massachusetts task force on same-gender marriage and Bishop Tom Shaw, also of Massachusetts, here are the guidelines – for now. You may have a same-gender civil marriage and blessing in your church provided an Episcopal priest does not officiate at the marriage itself or sign the marriage license and the Book of Common Prayer is not used. For example, you may have a civil ceremony conducted by someone other than an Episcopal clergyperson, followed by a blessing of that union (which could surely include a Eucharist) by an Episcopal priest. Various liturgies have been used around the diocese for blessings; a practice which was approved by the 2004 El Camino Real diocesan convention. These guidelines are not a tremendous change from our previous guidelines, but rather an addition that helps us live into a new reality. As the national church proceeds toward full sacramental inclusion, so shall our diocese. As with all couples, your discernment and discretion is integral to the process of determining the suitability of blessing the marriage. My consent, per the instruction of the 2004 resolution, is still required.

Please know that I have decided upon the new guidelines in light of the current climate in our diocese and the national church as a whole, and looking ahead to the upcoming Lambeth Conference. They will be too liberal for some and not permissive enough for others. I welcome your feedback as we move through these historic times. Also, as a means of encouraging ongoing conversation and exploration, I am appointing a Task Force on Marriage and Family in our diocese. As I understand it, it has been a long time since El Camino Real has had any structured conversation about what distinguishes a Christian marriage and what it means to live with “Christian family values” in our tradition and in our very diverse world. While I rejoice at the election and consecration of Bishop Gene Robinson, it would seem that the deeper conversation about covenant relationships – no matter the gender – has been of less importance in a very political conversation about human sexuality focused on the specificity of gender. I would like to have a different conversation, one less focused on gender but which looks more carefully at the theology of Christian marriage and family life as we understand them in our tradition.

We are in the midst of a very long conversation prompted by our awareness of the complexities of human sexuality and our desire to live in relationships of integrity with God and with one another. May we continue prayerfully, loving each other. May we extend grace and understanding to one another in the various ways we are experiencing these times. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and grieve with those who grieve. Indeed, may we honor the covenant relationship we share together with Christ, “bearing each other in all things.”

My prayers and blessings to you for fruitfulness in our common ministry for Christ’s sake,

–(The Rt. Rev.) Mary Gray-Reeves is Bishop of El Camino Real

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Episcopal Church (TEC), Same-sex blessings, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Bishops

Donald Sensing: Why D Day is so Important

Placating Stalin was one reason the Allies had to invade Germany through France. All the military and political leaders remembered early 1918, when the newly-in-power Soviet government under Lenin had made a separate peace with Imperial Germany. Even though all the Allies had agreed early in WW II that no separate peace agreements would be made, the nag was always there.

Moreover, neither Roosevelt nor Churchill had any desire at all to see all Germany overrun from the east and fall under the hammer and sickle. The only way to prevent that was to place American and British soldiers on the ground inside Germany. Invasion through northern Europe was the only way to do that (Churchill’s claim that an invasion from the south, through Europe’s “soft underbelly,” proved fantastical in rolling up the Italian peninsula. Whatever Europe’s underbelly was, it wasn’t soft.)

The Allies could afford to succeed by a mere whisker on the Normandy beaches. Indeed, the planned American and British timetable for operations commencing June 7 proved wildly optimistic. But they did succeed, rather handily most places, as it turned out, and that was enough.

But any failure would have been only catastrophic. As in all major military operations, logistics was the central issue. The moon and tide conditions were acceptable on days in May, June and July; in fact, May 19 was seriously discussed as the invasion date for some time. But the Allies’ supreme commander, Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, postponed the invasion to June 5 because doing so would yield him an additional 100 landing craft, mostly LSTs, used to land tracked and wheeled vehicles directly onto the beach.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Military / Armed Forces

Jesters of Different Faiths Use Laughs to Bridge the Divide

The Jewish comedian began with a routine about raising adolescents. “There was a reason Abraham was asked to sacrifice Isaac at 12 and not 13,” he said. “At 13, it wouldn’t have been a sacrifice.”

A half hour later, the Muslim comedian took the stage, raising his hands so the Jew could pat him down for weapons. He then urged the Muslims and Jews in the theater, adversaries on the world stage, to cheer their commonalities: “C’mon,” he exhorted, “let’s give it up for lunar calendaring.”

The evangelical Christian comedian also did a half-hour set, observing that though his children’s school teaches abstinence, it also gives out condoms. “That,” he said, “is like a department store saying ”˜No shoplifting, but just in case, here’s a trench coat.’ ”

It was only at the end of the program at Drew University here that all three comedians were on stage together. Operating under the wistful supposition that a troupe of jesters getting disparate people to laugh it up together is a first step toward something larger, the Jew, the Muslim and the Christian sought to ring in world peace in the only way they knew how: with a shamefully bad if highly enthusiastic Irish jig.

The dance was not pretty, but it had the audience convulsing.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Religion & Culture

Ending Her Bid, Clinton Backs Obama

Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton formally threw her support behind Senator Barack Obama on Saturday, clearing the way for Mr. Obama to head into the general election with a plan to challenge Senator John McCain in typically Republicans states.

Mrs. Clinton, speaking here to an audience of advisers and supporters who had been invited to attend from across the country, used the final rally of her presidential campaign to end her barrier-breaking bid for the presidency and endorse Mr. Obama. She pledged that she would do what it takes to help Mr. Obama win the White House.

In her last rally as a presidential candidate, Mrs. Clinton expressed deep gratitude to the voters. who had cast ballots for her. She suspended her campaign, rather than officially ending it. That’s a technicality that will allow her to raise money to retire her debt and to control the delegates she won. It is not an indication that she has any intention of resuming it.

Mr. Obama stayed away because he understood this was her moment.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, US Presidential Election 2008

LA Times: Gun owners tired of hiding their weapons embrace 'open carry'

For years, Kevin Jensen carried a pistol everywhere he went, tucked in a shoulder holster beneath his clothes.

In hot weather the holster was almost unbearable. Pressed against Jensen’s skin, the firearm was heavy and uncomfortable. Hiding the weapon made him feel like a criminal.

Then one evening he stumbled across a site that urged gun owners to do something revolutionary: Carry your gun openly for the world to see as you go about your business.

In most states there’s no law against that.

Jensen thought about it and decided to give it a try. A couple of days later, his gun was visible, hanging from a black holster strapped around his hip as he walked into a Costco. His heart raced as he ordered a Polish dog at the counter. No one called the police. No one stopped him.

Now Jensen carries his Glock 23 openly into his bank, restaurants and shopping centers. He wore the gun to a Ron Paul rally. He and his wife, Clachelle, drop off their 5-year-old daughter at elementary school with pistols hanging from their hip holsters, and have never received a complaint or a wary look.

Jensen said he tries not to flaunt his gun. “We don’t want to show up and say, ‘Hey, we’re here, we’re armed, get used to it,’ ” he said.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Law & Legal Issues, Violence

Jim McKay RIP

Jim McKay, 86, a longtime television sports journalist, has died of natural causes in Maryland, according to a statement from the McKay family.

McKay is best known for hosting “ABC’s Wide World of Sports” and 12 Olympic Games.

McKay won numerous awards for journalism, including the George Polk Memorial Award and two Emmys — one for his sports coverage, the other for his news reporting — for his work at the 1972 Munich Olympics, which were tragically affected by the Black September terrorists’ attack on the Israeli athletes in the Olympic Village.

“There are no superlatives that can adequately honor Jim McKay. He meant so much to so many people. He was a founding father of sports television, one of the most respected commentators in the history of broadcasting and journalism,” ESPN and ABC Sports president George Bodenheimer said in a statement.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Sports

Milwaukee Episcopal Diocese to sell camp

The executive council of Milwaukee’s Episcopal Diocese has voted to put Camp Webb, its 135-acre lakefront property near Wautoma, on the market.

The site has hosted summer camps and other activities since 1960 for thousands of children and adults through church-run programs and other organizations.

But usage has declined over the years, and the diocese has been spending most of its annual Christian formation budgets to subsidize the camp, which has a $400,000 debt, Milwaukee Bishop Steven Miller said Friday.

Read the whole article.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC)

In Detroit Stolen Jesus statue found in alley

They will now have to answer to Jesus.

An 8-foot statue of Jesus that was stolen from the cross at the Church of the Messiah on Detroit’s east side was found in an alley near the church.

The Rev. Barry Randolph said Patricia Bower, a woman who lives in the neighborhood, decided to take a shortcut home and found Jesus “in a bush, between two trees” Wednesday night.

Randolph and a church member went to pick up Jesus and found the green-hued, weather-beaten statue with only a hand missing.

“We are truly grateful,” Randolph said Thursday.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Episcopal Church (TEC), Parish Ministry, TEC Parishes

One Young woman campaigns for Iraq’s disabled

Watch it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Iraq War

Dmitry Medvedev Raises Specter of Depression, Faults U.S.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said “economic egoism” has led to what may be the worst economic contraction since the depression of the 1930s, and placed some of the blame on the U.S.

The Russian leader said no single country, even the U.S., can reverse the global economic decline alone, and claimed a role for Russia in finding a solution.

“An underestimation of risks by the largest financial companies together with the aggressive financial policy of the world’s largest economy led not only to corporate losses; unfortunately, the majority of people on the planet became poorer,” Medvedev said in St. Petersburg.

Medvedev was speaking at the opening of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, Russia’s largest trade and investment fair, held in his hometown for a 12th year. Officials expect the event to match the $12 billion worth of deals signed last year.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Economy, Europe, Globalization, Russia

Recession Fears Reignited

The likelihood that the U.S. is in a recession appeared to increase Friday, following weeks of hopes that the country might be skirting one.

Unemployment rose sharply and payrolls shrank for the fifth consecutive month. The economy news came on a day that oil surged to record prices, the dollar weakened and the Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged nearly 400 points. The deteriorating job numbers led markets to scale back the odds that the Federal Reserve will boost short-term interest rates this fall to ward off inflation.

The jobless rate posted its largest one-month gain in two decades, rising to 5.5% in May from 5.0% in April, the Labor Department reported Friday. Payrolls, measured by a separate survey, fell by 49,000 jobs last month, bringing the tally of job losses so far this year to 324,000.

The rise in unemployment has been accompanied by higher food and energy prices, pushing up the “misery index” — the sum of the unemployment and inflation rates — to around 9.4, the highest level since the recession of the early 1990s apart from a one-month blip in 2005.

Read it all from the front page of this morning’s Wall Street Journal.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources, Housing/Real Estate Market, Stock Market

Notable and Quotable

“Capitalism without failure is like Christianity without hell.”

–Legendary investor Warren Buffett in the Chicago Tribune, May 5, 2008

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Eschatology, Theology

David Brooks: The art of growing up

And yet, though we’re never going back to the 19th-century, sin-centric character-building model, for breeding leaders, it has its uses. Over the past decades, we’ve seen president after president confident of his own talents but then undone by underappreciated flaws. It’s as if they get elected for their virtues and then get defined in office by the vices – Clinton’s narcissism, Bush’s intellectual insecurity – they’ve never really faced.

It would be nice to have a president who had gone to school on his own failings. It would be comforting to see a president who’d looked into the abyss, or suffered some sort of ordeal that put him on a first-name basis with his own gravest weaknesses, and who had found ways to combat them.

Obviously, it’s not fair to compare anybody to Lincoln, but he does illustrate the repertoire of skills we look for in a leader. The central illusion of modern politics is that if only people as virtuous as “us” had power, then things would be better. Candidates get elected by telling people what they want to hear, leading them by using the sugar of their own fantasies.

Somehow a leader conversant with his own failings wouldn’t be as affected by the moral self-approval that afflicts most political movements.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Psychology, Theology, US Presidential Election 2008

Time Magazine: The Unretirement of Reverend Wright

When Sen. Barack Obama severed ties with his Chicago church, most political observers saw the move as a way for the candidate to insulate himself from the controversies stirred by its retiring pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright Jr. But Trinity United Church of Christ does not have that kind of insulation. According to sources within Trinity, Wright, 66, who began the process of retirement two years ago, is resisting fully relinquishing his duties as senior pastor, hanging on to power in the church he helped build.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Other Churches, Parish Ministry

Pennsylvania Priest Steps Down During Investigation

The Rev. Michael Ruk, priest-in-charge of St. Paul’s Church, Levittown, and All Saints’ Church, Fallsington, Pa., has voluntarily stepped down from his duties at those congregations until the [disciplinary] review board of the Diocese of Pennsylvania completes its investigation and reports their findings to the Rt. Rev. Allen L. Bartlett, assisting Bishop pro tempore, and the diocesan standing committee.

Read the whole thing.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Episcopal Church (TEC), Parish Ministry, TEC Parishes