May 2005 Archives

Compromise

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The Senate did what the Senate should do - compromise. The "middle" held during this round of our continuing governmental crisis. The fundamentalist social and political forces on the right and left condemn compromise. They can be satisfied only with complete victory and the obliteration of their "enemies." How can a democracy function if the loyal opposition is demonized to such a degree? How can a democracy function if debate, disagreement, and compromise are not upheld as the ideal?

I am so hesitant to use words like "Fascist" or “Fundamentalist” in their pejorative meanings to describe people and movements because we can have honest, real, and strongly held opinions and disagreements, but when those who advocate and demand their positions be the only positions possible and demand that their positions be imposed upon everyone else, then the term "Fascist" or “Fundamentalist” may certainly apply.

Below is an excerpt from a recent press release from Focus on the Family Action, their political arm, after the Senate compromise concerning the Filibuster and conservative judicial nominees was announced. Dobson is becoming, I fear, someone in the likeness of a Fascist (or similar political/social theory). He and his political organization look more and more like the radical religious Fundamentalists who are causing such havoc throughout the world.

He, and those like him and who agree with him, cannot countenance compromise. It is either their viewpoint/position/theology/social theory, or nothing. He and those like him are not "democrats" or "conservatives" in the generally accepted and traditional definitions of these words. The way he expresses his Christian faith causes me to pause. Even the elect can be deceived; and I wonder more and more whether the politicized American Evangelical and Fundamentalist movements are being lead down a path of deception.

Here is the quote:


"This Senate agreement represents a complete bailout and betrayal by a cabal of Republicans and a great victory for united Democrats," Dobson said. "Only three of President Bush's nominees will be given the courtesy of an up-or-down vote, and it's business as usual for all the rest. The rules that blocked conservative nominees remain in effect, and nothing of significance has changed.

"Justice Clarence Thomas, Justice Antonin Scalia, and Chief Justice William Rehnquist would never have served on the U. S. Supreme Court if this agreement had been in place during their confirmations. The unconstitutional filibuster survives in the arsenal of Senate liberals.

"We are grateful to Majority Leader Frist for courageously fighting to defend the vital principle of basic fairness," Dobson added. "That principle has now gone down to defeat. We share the disappointment, outrage and sense of abandonment felt by millions of conservative Americans who helped put Republicans in power last November. I am certain that these voters will remember both Democrats and Republicans who betrayed their trust."

Random Thoughts

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More involvement with free-association...

I graduated with my Master of Divinity degree from The General Theological Seminary of the Episcopal Church, New York, NY, on Wednesday, May 18th, at 10:00 am. Amazing. It feels so strange. It all happened too quickly.

My parents left last Sunday after being with me for my official last day at St. Paul's, Carroll St. Brooklyn, as their seminarian. I preached. I did all right, I suppose. People said it was a great sermon, but I never can tell. I am satisfied. The rector wants me to stay. I would love to stay! I truly fell in love with that parish. Money, of course, like always, is the problem.

Yesterday, Monday, I woke up and realized that the beginning of everything else was upon me. It feels so strange. I watch people with whom I had this incredible experience move away into the rest of their lives. I'm not ready for them to leave. I'm not ready to say good-bye. Their leaving seems swift and I cannot keep track. I know these feelings are nothing new and every senior class goes through this. I missed saying good-bye to Jason and Jodie. I did not get together with Jon before he left for Lexington. I missed completely Elise's departure, and I only saw Sonia's stuff being loaded into a moving van.

Yet, I am already into the rest of my life, working, searching for a ministry - the next phase is here. I am in it. I don't mind it, but I wish we all could stay together as a monastic community generally does. It seems we are just now able to look past our little idiosyncrasies and simply be together. Three years is enough, and it certainly is not enough.

I am still looking for a place to call my own. There are two campus chaplain positions I am involved in - one in Ohio and one in New York City. I would love either of them for different reasons, but I do not know whether either of them will want me. I firmly believe in a right fit for both sides. Rejection for a position is not really a problem for me, but being strung along when the church/rector/committee knows they want a woman or someone 15 years younger than I am.

Soon and very soon...

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A rule of life. I think about leaving seminary and this semi-monastic kinda type of place and realize my need for discipline. There were times when I was extremely disciplined. It seems the hardest thing I can do right now - not that I am lazy or unproductive, but those things I know I need to do for sanity's sake and for peace and to be strengthened for the journey and all that kind of stuff I just am not doing well. Here I sit, typing, rather than doing the disciplines, rule of life, devotional stuff I want to do and need to do.

Is it all about habit? Do for a while, just a little bit of discipline, and it becomes commonplace and - easy. Am I running? No. Am I working out? No. Am I taking my vitamins? No. Am I praying? Not really, at least in private devotions. Am I eating well? No. I've done all those things before and even all at the same time. Routine certainly helps, and right now there is no routine.

Soon. Soon. Soon and very soon... Maybe. I have to. There is just no question that I have to.

gay to straight

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The claim is offered before corporate board meetings, state and national legislative committees, before conventions and conferences, in front of Joe and Jane America through their television sets, and through any means possible that there is proof, "tens of thousands examples" of this proof, that homosexuals can "walk away from their homosexual desires" and become heterosexual.

This claim is erroneous because their definition of "ex-gay" or "walking away from..." is based on the notion that simply refusing to self-identify as homosexual or gay is to not be homosexual. To deny one's affectual and sexual inclination towards or attraction to the same-gender... to not engage in any type of same-gender romantic or sexual relationship... to deny that the continued longing for personal intimacy (and in this case with someone of the same gender)... to deny and not admit all these things means that the person is now "ex-gay" and not a homosexual. The person is now one of those "tens of thousands," regardless of what is truly going on inside of the person!

It is not a change from homosexuality to heterosexuality, but for 99% of "ex-gay" homosexuals, it is a change from the reality of or possibility of a mutually loving and life-long same-gender relationship to asexuality. Of course, there are those who go all the way and enter into legally recognized marriages with someone of the opposite-gender... against their nature, as Paul writes in the first chapter of Romans. Most simply exchange the possibility of relationship for asexuality.

Stuff

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Stream of consciousness:

I've started working at the Church Medical Trust as a fall back if I do not get a position over the summer. A part-time position and I am making more money than I have ever made. Of course, it is in New York, but...

Time is moving so quickly. I have a "get acquainted" meeting this past week in Ohio with a campus ministry organization. I’m encouraged.

Ashton did not do as well as he would have liked to have done at the IHSA nations in Ohio. I don't care; I am still rather fond of him! He so hoped to be a champion because his family all came to watch him. I think they were just happy to be able to see him!

The closer I get to moving away, the more I realize how much I am going to miss Ashton. I really do not want to be in a long-distance relationship, but I do not know what else to do at this point.

There is a very interesting job possibility on the horizon. It would be really out-side the box. Who knows?

I just feel like writing one-liners.

Nathan and his friend Amelia were watching a rerun of "Rowan and Martin's Laugh In" when I got home. Remember that? I loved that show.

So much to do.

Another campus ministry position will be opening up here in the Big Apple.

Something has to be done about the Religious Right. Nationalism and patriotism have become their gods. Homosexuals have become their scapegoats. With their focus on both of these things, the can avoid dealing with the profound sins and hypocrisy in their own camp. So much easier to attempt to pull the splinter out of one's neighbor's eye than to deal with the plant in one's own eye!

The very sad part concern the above is that so many unchurched people in this country are beginning to equate the very concept and presence of Christianity with these fundamentalists. The cause of Christ is so harmed.

My friend Amy never did come and visit in NYC. Boy is she going to get it!

I do love Ashton.

I have no idea where I will be living come May 31st. How about that!

My "practice mass," my final project for my seminary career, went fairly well, except for the two major blunders I committed. I recovered well, however, and that is what counts - well, to some degree that is.

Toledo Campus Ministry Fellowship really has a lot going for it. I'm impressed.

There will soon be an exodus away from the politicized Religious Right associated churches. People will soon realize that "The United States of American" is not paradise, not God's special spot on the planet, and certainly not worth the millions and millions of dollars being wasted on waging a campaign against perceived evils (which happen to be anything that the Religious Right disagrees with).

I am fairly conservative in most of my theology (I find it easy to believe the Nicene Creed!). I am quite moderate on a good number of social issues. I want to know Truth, not dogma. I would be considered quite liberal on the whole gay issue. Well, I guess also with regard to my belief that everything I consider Truth right now could be completely wrong! I'm not a relativist, but I do not question the fact that I do not know everything, nor could I.

We, as in American, need to be humbled. We are not the world's salvation. We are not the world’s glorious standard. Even our Christian sub-culture (with the conservative elements claiming that America is just those things) is rife with hypocrisy, gluttony, pride, arrogance, and a complete disregard for the calling to love God first, and neighbor as ourselves. The United States may have a set of principles that do prove to bring hope to many in the world, but those principles are being so overshadowed by our bullying and arrogance that they have a difficult time being translated into a world which is breading religious and social fundamentalism.

The judiciary is not designed to be a rubber stamp of the executive or legislative branches of government. They are meant to be an independent check to both of those branches. The judiciary is meant to be a safeguard from the tyranny of the majority. The cries to "bring the judiciary under control" come from those who either do not understand our form of government, or who are cynically attempting to circumvent the Constitution to seize power. We do not live in a democracy! We have a representative form of government which functions within democratic principles. If we must - we live within a representative-democracy. India is more of a democracy than we are.

I cannot believe that the people I have so closely spent the last three years of my life during this profoundly significant time are all about ready to disperse into all parts of this country. Through the good and the bad, I love these people and have loved this experience.

Enough...

I received the following over a GTS list. It is an very eloquent speech.

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Texas Representative Senfronia Thompson speaks against the Texas Legislature's ban on same-sex marriage:

HJR 6 Speech

I have been a member of this august body for three decades, and today is one of the all-time low points. We are going in the wrong direction, in the direction of hate and fear and discrimination. Members, we all know what this is about, this is the politics of divisiveness at its worst, a wedge issue that is meant to divide.

Members, this issue is a distraction from the real things we need to be working on. At the end of this session, this Legislature, this Leadership will not be able to deliver the people of Texas, fundamental and fair answers to the pressing issues of our day.

Let's look at what this amendment does not do: It does not give one Texas citizen meaningful tax relief. It does not reform or fully fund our education system. It does not restore one child to CHIP, who was cut from health insurance last session. It does not put one dime into raising Texas' Third World access to health care. It does not do one thing to care for or protect one elderly person or one child in this state. In fact, it does not even do anything to protect one marriage.

Members, this bill is about hate and fear and discrimination. I know something about hate and fear and discrimination. When I was a small girl, white folks used to talk about "protecting the institution of marriage" as well. What they meant was if people of my color tried to marry people of Mr. Chisum's color, you'd often find the people of my color hanging from a tree. That's what the white folks did back then to "protect marriage." Fifty years ago, white folks thought inter-racial marriages were a "threat to the institution of marriage." Members, I'm a Christian and a proud Christian. I read the good book, and do my best to live by it. I have never read the verse where it says, "gay people can't marry." I have never read the verse where it says, "though shalt discriminate against those not like me." I have never read the verse where it says, "let's base our public policy on hate and fear and discrimination." Christianity to me is love and hope and faith and forgiveness-not hate and discrimination.

I have served in this body a lot of years-and I have seen a lot of promises broken. I should be up here demanding my 40 acres and a mule because that's another promise you broke. You used a wealthy white minister cloaked in the cloth to ease the stench of that form of discrimination.

So, now that blacks and women can vote, and now that blacks and women have equal rights-you turn your hatred to homosexuals- and you still use your misguided reading of the Bible to justify your hatred. You want to pass this ridiculous amendment so you can go home and brag…brag about what? Declare that you saved the people of Texas from what? Persons of the same sex cannot get married in this State now. Texas does not now recognize same-sex marriages, civil unions, religious unions, domestic partnerships, contractual arrangements or Christian blessings entered into in this State- or anywhere else on this planet Earth.

If you want to make your hateful political statements then that is one thing- the Chisum amendment does real harm. It repeals the contracts that many single people have paid thousands of dollars to purchase to obtain medical powers of attorney, powers of attorney, hospital visitation, joint ownership and support agreements. You have lost your way- this is obscene.

Today, you are playing to the lowest common denominator- you are putting aside the real issues of substance that we need to address so that you can instead play on the public's fears and prejudices to deceive and manipulate voters into thinking that we have done something important.

I realize that gay rights are not the same as civil rights-but I can guarantee you we are going in the wrong direction. I can not hide my skin color. In fact, in most of the South, people as pink as Rep. Wayne Smith were still Black by law if they had a great grandparent who was African. I was unable to attend an integrated and equally funded school until I got my Master of Laws degree. There were separate and unequal facilities
for nearly everything.

I got second-hand textbooks even worse than the kind you're trying to pass off
on every public school student next year. I had to ride to school on the back of the bus.
I had to quench my thirst from filthy coloreds-only drinking fountains. I had to enter restaurants from the kitchen door. I was banned from entering most public accommodations, even from serving on a jury.

I had to live with the fear that getting too uppity could get you killed --- or worse. I know what third-class citizenship feels like. In my first term, one of my colleagues walked up and down this aisle muttering about how Nigras should be back in the field picking cotton instead of picking out committees.

So, I have to wonder about Rep. Chisum's 3/5 of a person amendment. Some of you folks hid behind your Bible then, too, to justify your cultural prejudices, your denial of liberty, and your gunpoint robbery of human dignity.

We have worked hard at putting our prejudices against homosexuals in law. We have denied them basic job protections. We have denied them and their children freedom from bullying and harassment at school. We have tried to criminalize their very existence.

But, we have also absolved them of all family duties and responsibilities: to care for and support their spouses and children, to count their family's assets in determining public assistance, to obtain health insurance for dependents, to make end-of-life or necessary medical decisions for their life partners---sometimes even to visit in the hospital,
even to defend our own country. And then, we can stand on our two hind legs
and proclaim, "See, I told you homosexual families are unstable." And nearly every one of you on this Floor has a homosexual in their extended families.

Some of you have shunned and isolated these family members. Some of you, even some of the joint coauthors, have embraced them within your own family for the essence of Christianity is love. Yet,you are now poised to constitutionalize discrimination against a particular class of people.

I thought we would be debating real issues: education, health care for kids, teacher's health insurance, health care for the elderly, protecting survivors of sexual assault, protecting the pensions of seniors in nursing homes. I thought we would be debating economic development, property tax relief, protecting seniors pensions and stem cell research, to save lives of Texans who are waiting for a more abundant life. Instead we are wasting this body's time with this political stunt that is nothing more than constitutionalizing discrimination. The prejudices exhibited by members of this body disgust me.

Last week, Republicans used a political wedge issue to pull kids-sweet little vulnerable kids- out of the homes of loving parents and put them back in a state orphanage just because those parents are gay. That's disgusting. Today, we are telling homosexuals that just like people of my ilk, when I was a small child, they too are second class citizens. I have listened to all the arguments. I have listened to all of the crap.

Mr. Chisum, is a person who I consider my good friend and revere. But, I want you to know that this amendment are blowing smoke to fuel the hell-fire flames of bigotry. You are trying to protect your constituents from danger. This amendment is a CYB amendment for you to go home and talk about.

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