I watch the tides come in and go out as I am riding the train into the city and back home again. Between Newark and New York City, there are large stretches of marshland, rivers, and water-ways. The marshes are all brown and tan this time of year and when the sun is setting or rising, they are golden. It seems strange to see these marshes full of reeds and other water-plants in such urban settings – bridges, trestles, tracks, some abandoned factories, stranded boats sitting cockeyed on the banks of rivers. Yet, here are wetlands and in the spring the green pushes up and it is quite striking.
In the summer months when the wind blows, these stretches of land remind me of wheat fields in the plain states that cover acres and as the wind blows waves move across the landscape. It is like that.
In the wetlands – the marshes – as the tide comes in new “rivers” or “creeks” appear where water runs in to fill the marsh and again when the water drains away as the tide goes out. Nature moves in her own rhythm – coming and going, change, death and life. Creation.

Good comments

Mark Harris, an Episcopal priest in the Diocese of Delware, has written a couple new comments on his blog, Preludium, concerning world-wide Anglicanism. The posts are for March 7th & 8th, entitled, “Hold the Anglican Church of Nigeria to Account” and ” Not a Worldwide Church, but a Fellowship”, respectively.
Read them here.

Great Days & Stuff

It is days like today that make me glad to still be in New York City. Over the last couple of months, what I wanted most of all is to be in a much less populated area – and to chop wood! I used to chop wood every now and then when I was a kid, and that is simply what I thought about doing. Good, physical work, good exercise, good time to think – yup, give me an axe, some wood, and let me go at it.
Today, however, the weather is beautiful and I walked over to Bryant Park in Times Square for lunch. I love being there in nice weather – so many different kinds of people, so many different things to observe, to see, to experience. While eating my salad and watching all the people go by, suddenly someone decided to practice his bagpipes during his lunch break – just for a while, but it was very nice. Today, I am glad to still be in New York!
I missed an episode of “Lost” two weeks ago. I’ve waited until iPods were able to show video before buying one, so now I did as part of my birthday and Christmas presents. I downloaded the episode from iTunes for $2.00 and watched it commercial free. (Okay, either pay or suffer through commercials, I know, but sometimes paying is worth it!) Oh, technology!
The SLVR is a mighty fine cell phone!
Sufjan Stevens is a mighty fine tunesmith!
N.T. Wright’s book, The Last Word: Beyond the Bible Wars to a New Understanding of the Authority of Scripture is excellent.
Our Lenten project for St. Paul’s youth (and a couple adults) is going well. “ImageFaith” is the project I came up with – during Lent, we take foundational concepts of the Christian faith, like Grace, or Mercy, or Hope and we learn a little more about them, discuss them, and then for the coming week we take our little disposable cameras and by noticing the “noise” all around us (all the stuff we miss in our incredible busy lives – stop and smell the roses kind of thing) we find “images” that connote the concept.
This past week Grace was the concept. It dawned on me that a wonderful image of “Grace” is sunlight falling on leaves. I took pictures of sunlight streaming down on plants. Unmerited favor, freely given by the sun, is “received” by the plants and made into substance. We receive unmerited favor from God, engage with it, and we are changed.
There were some great photos! It is a fun and interesting, and very challenging, project.

Experience – Individual & Collective

We hear so much about “experience” being an “authority” in our lives – we use experience to justify all manner of things. It often trumps all other authorities as if my own personal experiences can determine the right or the wrong, proper or improper, acceptable behavior or unacceptable behavior, right thinking or wrong, etc. I’m just not “all that,” as if I am competent to always make sound judgments all on my own.
There are two sides of experience, I think. Well, actually many sides, but these two are the particular ones I am thinking about right now.
First, there is the healthy aspect of personal experience that does inform our understanding of things. Most certainly our personal experiences lead us to and away from many things – thoughts, ideas, behaviors, places, etc. – often depending on whether our past experiences of those things brought harm or enjoyment to our lives. We are not, however, islands unto ourselves.
There is also a very unhealthy aspect of person experience due to the fact that we are creatures who so easily engage in self-deception. “If it feels good, do it” is not really a good motto to live by, despite what so many ’60’s generation baby-boomers want to believe. Sex, for example, in free-love with anyone we want any time we want does not bring us sexual-freedom or long-term fulfillment, does not contribute to healthy relationships where we are able to love and be loved in an environment of trust and vulnerability, does not contribute to healthy families in which children are raised to have a good sense of self-worth and self-respect, but it does help created isolation, lack of concern for the wellbeing of the other, and contributes to unwanted pregnancies, STD’s, and HIV infection. Is titillation really the best consideration? The same can be said for drugs, pornography, money, and so many other things. We are very creative in the ways we justify our self-destructive/deceptive behaviors and ways of thinking – and we compel others to join us.
It isn’t a question of whether sex (or any thing else in-and-of itself) is a good thing or not – of course it can be, is! The question is always about the responsible experience of such things, which brings me to my second thought about experience – our collective experience.
A better judge of what is good for us and what is not is the collective experience of many people over many generations. This may also be termed, “Tradition.” Because we are prone to self-deception within our own narrow bounds of maturity, education, and understanding, we will be wise to consider tradition regardless of whether it agrees with what we want to be or do at any given time.
There must be a balance between individual experience and collective experience – tradition. The ’60’s generation has made an art of elevating personal experience over collective experience and declares it a most important “authority” in our judgment of what is right or wrong for us individually and for society. Later generations have followed along, with corrections as they move from Modernity to Post-Modernity and rebel against the conventional doings of the preceding generation. And, of course, we Americans have so little regard for tradition. Well, we also are losing our ability to think collectively as our society fragments into individualistic isolationism – rugged individualism run amuck.
The tradition is not always right. Sometimes correction must be made, and it is a very messy time when correction takes place. We must avoid the pendulum swings that move us too far into individualism or too far into collectivism. There are times when I (we) must yield to tradition and the collective wisdom, because I am limited and narrow and inexperienced. There are other times when I (we) recognize something isn’t right and fight the majority opinion found in the tradition. Again, balance and a realization that my own opinion is not paramount are needed.
It is funny how the hard-conservatives and hard-liberals both rely upon extreme individualism when making their claims. We see the result in the polarization of our politics and in the culture-wars, which have intruded upon the Church. It seems that individual experience speaks to the authorities we use to make judgements, in relationship with tradition, but is not an authority all by itself.

New Purpose

I used to us blogger for my weblog until a year or so ago when I switched to Moveabletype. My original blog was still available.
I’ve decided to rechristen my original hypersync blog – “hypersync :: reconciled.” I am posting to that blog once again as a place to delve more deeply into the whole “how to live life as a Christian who is also gay and what that all means…” kind of thing.
The ironic aspect of it all is that I am not particularly reconciled with all of it – questions linger. There is always the big question of how to navigate through all the cultural and sub-cultural minefields that plague anyone trying to live out a faithful life, be a witness, and still believe that honest and true relationships are possible. There is always the reality that most gay people have to play catch-up in terms of discovering how to have a relationship, which most straight people learn in their teens and early twenties.

Here’s the latest

Christian anti-gay and Religious Right groups are demanding that a ban on HIV+ people from traveling to the U.S. (which, frankly, I never knew existed) be reinstated before the 2006 Gay Games in Chicago. It seems the organizers of the 2006 Gay Games petitioned that the ban be waived for the upcoming athletic competitions, and it was.
I continue to be amazed that the propaganda and miss-information that the Religious Right and anti-gay activists use in their attempt to foist upon unsuspecting common folk an unabashed fear of homosexuals. Well, it does bring in millions of dollars for these groups! Greed, whether for money or for power, does terrible things to people.
Of course there are a percentage of homosexuals who are sex-addicted, irresponsible, and dedicated to whatever, just like there are a percentage of heterosexuals who are and do the same. But, these groups attempt to convince Jane and Joe Public that all homosexuals are sex-crazed, HIV+, radicals that are dedicated to destroying marriage, Mom, apple-pie, and the American way of life. It is absurd, and these people are intelligent enough to know that they are out-and-out lying! Christians? For them, the end justifies the means and the call of Christ falls flat.
Here is the latest “news” update from CitizenLink, a Focus on the Family daily e-mail update:
HIV Travel Restrictions Lifted for Gay Games
Pro-family advocates are asking President Bush to reinstate a federal ban that prohibits HIV-infected travelers from coming to United States. A lobbying campaign succeeded in getting the ban lifted in time for Chicago’s 2006 Gay Games.
Homosexuals from around the world will travel to Chicago for the event slated for July 15-22. The official Web site claims 8,000 people have registered.
Gay advocates, with the help of Chicago Mayor Richard Daley, convinced the federal government to waive restrictions on international travel for those with HIV so they could attend the games. Pro-family analysts argue that such a move is counter to the goal of stopping the spread of the disease.
Peter LaBarbera, executive director of the Illinois Family Institute, is calling on the president and Congress to reinstate the ban. He said the people of Chicago should not be subjected to activities that facilitate immoral and reckless behavior.
“Mayor Daley has forgotten his role as ‘chief protector’ of the people of Chicago,” he said. “The public-health goal of stopping the spread of HIV/AIDS must take precedence over the political wants of homosexual advocates.”
The Gay Games Web site promotes dangerous sexual activity, LaBarbera said. For example, Steamworks, a gay bathhouse that offers anonymous sex for men, is listed as a business sponsor and under “Parties and Events.”
“The evidence is clear: the extracurricular activities surrounding the Gay Games present a real health hazard to those involved and the surrounding community,” he said. “Inviting thousands of HIV-infected visitors to a Gay Games celebration that officially promotes promiscuity will only put Chicagoans at risk and help spread HIV.”

Thousands? Come on.