Archive for May, 2009



13
May
09

Articulate and Thought-Provoking – Is My Marriage Gay?

Excerpts from the full New York Times opinion piece to be found at “Is My Marriage Gay?”

AS many Americans know, last week Gov. John Baldacci of Maine signed a law that made this state the fifth in the nation to legalize gay marriage. It’s worth pointing out, however, that there were some legal same-sex marriages in Maine already, just as there probably are in all 50 states. These are marriages in which at least one member of the couple has changed genders since the wedding.

I’m in such a marriage myself and, quite frankly, my spouse and I forget most of the time that there is anything particularly unique about our family, even if we are — what is the phrase? — “differently married.” Continue reading ‘Articulate and Thought-Provoking – Is My Marriage Gay?’

13
May
09

LGBTQ Young People & Risk of Suicide

From a report compiled by The Trevor Project:

StaticAfAmBoy300x250Although, practically, there is no way of knowing how many suicides are completed by LGBT and questioning adolescents, reliable research on the attempt rates of this demographic group  are available. In the 2005 Massachusetts Youth Risk Behavior Survey (MA YRBS) concluded that lesbian, gay and bisexual youth are “almost four times as likely to have attempted suicide” and “more than five times more likely to have received medical attention for a suicide attempt” than their heterosexual peers.

The reasons for these disproportionate numbers are varied and many, but almost certainly include the lack of self-acceptance as the primary among them. In a 1995 study published in the Journal for Developmental Psychology (Herhberger and D’Augelli), the single largest predictor of mental health was self-acceptance. According to Remafedi (1991), highly feminine boys have also been shown to be at higher risk for suicide attempts because they are the ones perceived by others to be homosexual and behave outside of gender specific norms.

Because of this, feminine boys and “butch” girls are more likely to receive the brunt of bullying in school along with traditional society’s disapproval. As recent events have proven, the perception of being gay is enough to precipitate bullying and harassment, Continue reading ‘LGBTQ Young People & Risk of Suicide’

11
May
09

Justice Prayer

Dear Loving Parent of us all,

As we continue to recognize your presence with us,

we pray we are not lulled into unconsciousness by our own comfortable existence.

In this time of waiting give us ears to hear and eyes to see

our sisters and brothers who need our love and care.

Give us the desire to be your hands and legs in this world Continue reading ‘Justice Prayer’

10
May
09

The Trevor Project – LGBTQ Young People’s Helpline

Trevor banner

For young people, especially LGBTQ, who at are risk. If you, or someone you know is lost, feels alone, is confused, bullied, deeply troubled or having suicidal thoughts, this helpline is available 24/7. There will be more about what you can do elsewhere on this blog but, whatever you do, call if you or someone you know is at risk. Remember, you are not alone.

09
May
09

Leviticus – The Case For or Against LGBT – Part 1

[This post has been bumped by request. This is the first of a five-part series that sheds reasonable doubt on the traditional view that Leviticus labels homosexuality as an abomination. Each section is linked through the table of contents.]

ETHIC OF HUMILITY

       As someone who is strongly committed to Christian ethics, especially in conflict resolution, and to theological reflection as a defining characteristic of what makes a church a church, I am committed to the process of engaging in dialogue and conversation about the issues that divide Christianity. Honesty, theological reflection (both individual and communal) and knowledge are all essential components of Christian conversation. When scriptural evidence for particular stands or opinions is argued, experience has taught me that, many times, some or all of these components may be lacking.
Continue reading ‘Leviticus – The Case For or Against LGBT – Part 1’

09
May
09

The Bread of Life I

This is the first of a multi-part post on the “Bread of Life” discourse in John, chapter 6. In the lectionary, and in the minds of many, this chapter is dealt with by breaking it into five parts and trying to understand each part as stand-alone text. This is one discourse, however, that is offered in sequence for a reason – each section builds on what came before and cannot be fully appreciated as snippets of scripture. To understand, as best we can, Jesus’ meaning behind “the bread of life”, we need to unpack the whole. This is just such an attempt.

Text for this section of the series – John 6:1-21.

“When Jesus looked up and saw a large crowd coming toward him, Jesus said to Philip, “Where are we to buy bread for these people to eat?” This was said to test Philip, for Jesus knew what he was going to do. Philip answered Jesus, “Six months’ wages would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little.”

Jesus tests Philip, one of the disciples. But, why? Well, in John’s gospel, the disciples have yet to get it – to actually see the light. They are still being taught and this becomes a teaching moment.

It’s not just that Jesus has been out among the people doing healing miracles, or that Jesus had turned water into enough wine for a large party, that should have clued the disciples in – but that a lesson about the bread of life had already been given. In John 4, the disciples has been concerned that Jesus hadn’t eaten, and Jesus told them that he had food to eat that they did not now about. He then explained that he was fed by “doing the will of God.”

Jesus had already drawn a distinction between food – bread for bodily sustenance – and the bread of life that feeds the soul. So now bread – food – becomes the subject of another lesson in faith. Continue reading ‘The Bread of Life I’

07
May
09

The Hero’s Journey – or, Ministry Suicide

When the word “myth” is used to describe foundational social or faith stories, the result is oftentimes a reaction of insult and anger. For most, that word conjures up images of fictional or embellished stories, perhaps compiled from many disparate sources – in short, myths are not considered to be truth. The word “myth”, however, is value neutral on the criteria of truth. Myths are society’s fundamental stories, usually involving heroes or major events and based on reality, fiction or some combination of the two that explain or validate traditional practices or belief patterns. Myths are the foundations of culture – every culture has them – the bedrock upon which social values, mores and norms are built.

There is, then, a tendency to romanticize myths beyond the level of ideology, adventure and chivalrous displays that already exist. Entirely common is the process of day-dreaming ourselves in the role of the mythical hero – to become so enamored with the myth, that our ability to see ourselves apart from it becomes blurred. Generally, this very act circumvents the intended message of the story, and creates a compound myth that is now approaching fantasy. Most times, this is quite harmless, but when a pastor crosses this line, faith can become a casualty. Continue reading ‘The Hero’s Journey – or, Ministry Suicide’

07
May
09

Empty Ritual

Mark 11:15-19 and 1 Corinthians 1:18-25 are texts about showing how empty some common practices have become. Jesus erupts seemingly out of nowhere, upsetting the civic peace that the Roman and Jewish authorities work so hard to maintain. hat is Jesus up to? Aren’t Jesus’ actions immoderate?

It strikes me that Jesus is blowing the whistle on temple practices that have taken on a life and importance of their own, and have no bearing on worshipping or promoting faith in God. Jesus appears to be acting recklessly, by attacking the status quo at the temple. At the same time, the temple practices themselves are deemed foolish and even abusive in the eyes of Jesus. Continue reading ‘Empty Ritual’

07
May
09

Prayer For a Caring Community

Bumped

A PRAYER FOR CARING COMMUNITY

(adapted from the Ten Commandments)

 Save your people, God who is our God:

From not loving you as we should;

From the worship of the gods of material wealth and comfort;

Continue reading ‘Prayer For a Caring Community’

06
May
09

The Elusive Promised Land – Gen 15

The Reading:  Genesis 15.1-12,17-18

This kind of ceremony is an ancient Hittite method of forming a contract. The participants in the covenant walk through the animals’ blood as it runs in the ditch. The one who breaks the covenant will forfeit their own blood – their very life.

Likewise, the smoking fire-pot and flaming torch are also Hittite images of gods. God, who figuratively walks through the blood twice, is guaranteeing both sides of the contract. For many this brings to mind how Jesus, God incarnate, lived out the covenant with the offering even of his own mortal life.

What I find interesting, however, is the reason for the covenant in the first place. Abram expresses concern over two things. Continue reading ‘The Elusive Promised Land – Gen 15’

05
May
09

Litany for Mothers’ Day

Eternal God, on this day we lift up all mothers to you. Scripture has prepared us to recognize that by your grace, mothering takes many forms.

We lift up those . . .

… who have experienced joy and fulfillment in mothering

… who have known the pain of a child’s death

… who are facing motherhood again, or for the first time

… for whom childlessness represents a loss
Continue reading ‘Litany for Mothers’ Day’

05
May
09

A Vision of Inclusion

The crux of chapter 9 of John, which you’ll be reading shortly, is found at the beginning and end. In between, we find examples that illustrate the points being made.  The verses that make up the middle paragraphs are rich with symbolism, but there’s only so much that can be covered in one page. So I will concentrate mostly on the beginning and ending. This is a powerful testament to including rather than excluding those we deem unacceptable. Continue reading ‘A Vision of Inclusion’

04
May
09

Open Letter to Legislators of NY – Same-Sex Marriage

Whenever one writes letters to legislators it is always better if it is short, sweet and to the point. The problem with that is that the lack of logical arguments that can fit into a short letter tends to limit their educational and persuasive value. Short letters simply allow room to state an opinion – one among a plethora of opinions fielded by constituents – that do little to edify, persuade or even debunk opposing arguments.

Faced with this dilemma, I am writing a letter that is in two parts. The first simply states my opinion as a constituent and asks that my opinion be considered in deciding on the merits of legislating for same-sex marriage. The second part, which can easily be ignored if the legislator is so inclined, or read if he/she sees fit to consider logical arguments, outlines various points using opponents’ logic as a springboard.

Part 1.

Very briefly, I would like to state my opinion that it is a travesty that same-sex relationships are not afforded all the same civil benefits in New York as heterosexual married couples. Continue reading ‘Open Letter to Legislators of NY – Same-Sex Marriage’

03
May
09

Dignity For All Students

I have been asked repeatedly why I am a straight ally of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) sisters and brothers. Whether it is because of things I write, things I say (for instance on the floor of my presbytery) or where I choose to be activist, the fact that I am straight and a minister seem to stand out significantly. There is, at the same time, suspicion and excitement that a straight minister would care enough to be visible in support of LGBT.

Jenna and I ran directly into this while present and active at the Equality and Justice Day put on by Empire State Pride Agenda. No less that a dozen times we were asked if we would allow our picture to be taken and placed on websites or blogs. We also entered into numerous conversations, all concerning the role of the church in oppression and anti-GLBT equality.

One specific effort of Pride Agenda is Dignity For All Students, a bill in New York that seeks to address bullying for any reason including sexuality and gender expression. When asked, I responded that my interest in this is very personal. I was on the receiving end of homophobic bullying in grade and high school simply because I was slightly built (hard to imagine now) and a little effeminate. My young life in school, along with some friends, was hell that left me contemplating suicide many times during my high school years.

While meeting with an aide of Senator Farley to make the case for Dignity, I stated the reasons for my interest and followed up by saying, “We have a moral obligation to protect the most vulnerable, and no-one is more vulnerable than our children.” As an expression of our concern in this issue and the dangers faced by those deemed by peers to be different, Jenna and I will be attending “train the trainers” classes for the Trevor Project, a nationwide hot-line for children and youth at risk and contenplating suicide.

To end of bringing as much attention to the issue as I can, I am reprinting the NY Times commentary by Charles Blow. Continue reading ‘Dignity For All Students’

02
May
09

Trying to See the Next Step

Since returning to my faith many years ago, I have to fight the same recurring problem – I desperately want to see the destination of any particular leg of my journey with God. A dear friend, Ginny, used a very simple exercise to try to teach me that there is a reason that God does not reveal the ultimate goal – that we will lose sight of the joy to be found along the way.

On a night with no moon, she led me out to a spot on the farm she and her husband owned. The grass was tall in this particular spot. She gave me a flashlight and told me my destination was the barn about 100 feet away. “Shine the light on the barn,” she said, “and walk towards it.” I did and within 10 feet I tripped over something. I picked myself up and started again, this time getting about 6 feet. Then she called me back and said, “Okay! You know the general direction, go there but shine the light on the ground in front of you so you can see the next step you will take.” I, of course, made it to the barn safely and vertically. “Keep your eye on the next step, and let God guide you to the destination,” she said as she wisely ended the conversation.

My problem is that, right now, I can see the next step and it’s dark and uninviting – in fact, it’s downright scary. Continue reading ‘Trying to See the Next Step’




... or, preaching from both ends

WELL, HELLO! YOU’RE HERE.

That's too bad - I'm so sorry. Oh, well, just try to make the best of it. What you'll find here is a variety of essays and ramblings to do with things theological, social, whimsical and, sometimes, all three. I don't write to get famous - trust me, I've been told how futile that would be - but to express myself. I love to communicate and browbeat - ummm, I mean dialogue - about the things I find intriguing. Since you're here, and the door's locked, why don't you stay a while. There's a page bar under the header with links to information about us - I mean me. Don't forget to tell me what you think - in a nice way, I mean.

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