Tonight on many PBS stations airs “Love Free Or Die”, the story of ‘the first openly gay bishop in Christendom’, Gene Robinson:
Tonight on Independent Lens. Montana PBS airs it at 9pm.
The Lazy Paralytic
1. When Jesus returned to Capernaum after some days, it was reported that he was at his home. 2. So many gathered around that there was no longer room for them, not even in front of the door; and he was speaking the word to them. 3. Then some people came, bringing to him a paralyzed man, carried by four of them. 4. And when they could not bring him to Jesus because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him; and after having dug through it, they let down the mat on which the paralytic lay. 5. When Jesus saw this he grew angry, “Why did you wreck my roof? Do you have any idea how much that cost to install? Do you know how many tables and chairs I had to make in my carpentry shop to pay for that roof? The reeds alone cost five talents. I had them carted in from Bethany.” 6. The disciples had never seen Jesus so angry about his possessions. He continued, “This house is my life. And the roof is the best part.” The disciples fell silent. 7. “It’s bad enough that you trash my private property, now you want me to heal you?” said Jesus, “And did you not see the stone walls around this house?” “Yes,” said the man’s friends. “Are these not the stone walls common to the towns and villages of Galilee?” 8. “No,” Jesus answered. “This is a gated community. How did you get in?” The man’s friends grew silent. 9. Then Jesus turned and said to the paralytic, “Besides, can’t you take care of your own health problems? I’m sure that your family can care for you, or maybe the synagogue can help out.” 10. “No, Lord,” answered the man’s friends. “There is no one. His injuries are too severe. To whom else can we go?” 11. “Well, not me,” said Jesus. “What would happen if I provided access to free health care for everyone? That would mean that people would not only get lazy and entitled, but they would take advantage of the system. 12. Besides, look at me: I’m healthy. And you know why? Because I worked hard for my money, and took care of myself.” The paralyzed man then grew sad and he addressed Jesus. “But I did work, Lord,” said the paralytic. “Until an accident rendered me paralyzed.” “Yes,” said the man’s friends. “He worked very hard.” 13. “Well,” said Jesus, “That’s just part of life, isn’t it?” “Then what am I to do, Lord?” said the paralytic. “I don’t know. Why don’t you sell your mat?” 14. All in the crowd then grew sad. “Actually, you know what you can do?” said Jesus. “You can reimburse me for my roof. Or I’ll sue you.” And all were amazed. 15. “We have never seen anything like this,” said the crowd.
- Rev. James Martin, S.J.: Parables Of The Not-So-Social Gospel (huffingtonpost.com)
- What If Jesus Had Been A Republican? (alternet.org)
Get to the Bozeman Library tonight at 7pm…!
Kathy Baldock, a straight, Evangelical Christian and Executive Director of Canyonwalker Connections, will offer the public a chance to consider, discuss and debate the arguments for a Christianity that is welcoming and affirming of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgendered persons. All are welcome.
For More about Kathy and her experience, please visit http://canyonwalkerconnections.com/about-2/ .
This forum is presented By Montana Pride 2012
- MT Pride 2012 Presents Kathy Baldock: The Argument For LGBT-Inclusive Christianity (dgsmith.org)
- Montana Pride 2012: It’s Not Just A Party (dgsmith.org)
- Kathy Baldock:”Trans-mockery in the House of God?” (queeringthechurch.com)
I’m really very excited. Here’s why:
My friend Kathy Baldock will be journeying to Montana from Reno this week to join us for MT Pride 2012. She will be here to speak to faith leaders, join her LGBT brothers and sisters for Montana Pride and will present at least twice. The first is at the Bozeman Public Library on Tuesday.
Entitled “The Argument For LGBT-Inclusive Christianity”, Kathy will share her story (which is really remarkable) and her conviction that there is nothing that prevents Christianity from openly embracing and affirming LGBT persons. Here’s the blurb:
Kathy Baldock, a straight, Evangelical Christian and Executive Director of Canyonwalker Connections, will offer the public a chance to consider, discuss and debate the arguments for a Christianity that is welcoming and affirming of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgendered persons.
For More about Kathy and her experience, please visit http://canyonwalkerconnections.com/about-2/ .
This forum is presented By Montana Pride 2012.
Kathy will also present a workshop at Montana Pride 2012. Talking to Churches and Faith Leaders- How Do We Start? Evangelical Christian and LGBT ally Kathy Baldock will offer some guidance and understanding about creating a conversation with Christian faith leaders. She will share her experiences in changing hearts and minds about LGBT persons in churches and faith communities. She will also address the topic of creating “open and affirming” churches.
She will be hanging out with us all week and will be marching in the parade and participating in the Pride Interfaith Service, Sunday June 17th , 10 am at the Holiday Inn.
Kathy is also available to the faith communities of the area during the week she is here. If you’d like to speak to her, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To my mind, equality will be won when we do two things:
- Win over the churches, and
- Engage the families of LGBT people in our struggle- especially the moms.
With Kathy’s help, we’re going to do our best to win over some churches in the next week- and maybe a few mothers….
- Montana Pride 2012: Details! (dgsmith.org)
- Montana Pride 2012: It’s Not Just A Party (dgsmith.org)
- “Day of Dialogue” From Focus On The Family is Sacred Discrimination (dgsmith.org)
- ‘Family’ leader vows to never stop hating LGBT people (rawstory.com)
- Kathy Baldock:”Trans-mockery in the House of God?” (queeringthechurch.com)
- Queen Latifah Made It Official “Coming Out” At Gay Pride 2012 (operationadvocateimpact.org)
An excellent article from Science Daily:
In the United States, where blacks bear a disproportionate burden of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, black religious institutions could help turn the tide. In a new study in PLoS ONE based on dozens of interviews and focus groups with 38 of Philadelphia’s most influential black clergy, physicians and public health researchers find that traditional barriers to preaching about HIV prevention could give way to faith-friendly messages about getting tested and staying on treatment.
The public health community has long struggled with how best to reduce HIV infection rates among black Americans, which is seven times that of whites. In a new paper in the journal PLoS ONE, a team of physicians and public health researchers report that African-American clergy say they are ready to join the fight against the disease by focusing on HIV testing, treatment, and social justice, a strategy that is compatible with religious teaching.
“We in public health have done a poor job of engaging African-American community leaders and particularly black clergy members in HIV prevention,” said Amy Nunn, lead author of the study and assistant professor of medicine in the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University. “There is a common misperception that African American churches are unwilling to address the AIDS epidemic. This paper highlights some of the historical barriers to effectively engaging African American clergy in HIV prevention and provides recommendations from clergy for how to move forward.”
The paper analyzes and distills dozens of interviews and focus group data among 38 African-Amereican pastors and imams in Philadelphia, where racial disparities in HIV infection are especially stark. Seven in 10 new infections in the city are among black residents. With uniquely deep influence in their communities, nearly all of the 27 male and 11 female clergy said they could and would preach and promote HIV testing and treatment.
That message, delivered by clergy or other influential figures, would provide a needed complement to decades of public health efforts that have emphasized risk behaviors, Nunn said. Research published and widely reported last year, for example, suggests that testing and then maintaining people on treatment could dramatically reduce new infections because treatment can give people a 96-percent lower chance of transmitting HIV.
“For decades, we’ve focused many HIV prevention efforts on reducing risky behavior,” said Nunn, who is also based at The Miriam Hospital. “Focusing on HIV testing and treatment should be the backbone of HIV prevention strategies and efforts to reduce racial disparities in HIV infection. Making HIV testing routine is the gateway to getting more individuals on treatment. African American clergy have an important role to play in routinizing HIV testing.”
The barriers clergy members face
Many religious leaders acknowledged that they’ve struggled with how best to combat the epidemic, particularly with challenges related to discussing human sexuality in church or mosque, according to the analysis in the paper.
“One time my pastor spoke to young people about sex, mentioning using protection,” the paper quotes a clergy member as saying in one example. “I was sitting in the clergy row; you could feel the heat! I was surprised he said that. Comments from the clergy highlighted they were opposed to that. It’s a tightrope walk.”
Many clergy members also said they face significant barriers to preaching about risk behaviors without still emphasizing abstinence.
“It’s my duty as a preacher to tell people to abstain,” one pastor told the research team, “but if they’re still having sex and they’re getting HIV, there has to be another way to handle this.”
What clergy can do
Many clergy members suggested couching the HIV/AIDS epidemic in social justice rather than behavioral terms, Nunn said. They also recommended focusing on HIV testing as an important means to help stem the spread of the disease and reduce the stigma.
“We need to standardize testing,” one pastor told the researchers. “One thing that we could do immediately is to encourage our congregations — everybody — to get tested. … We’re not dealing with risk factors. And we’re all going to get tested once a year. That’s the one thing that we could do that doesn’t get into our doctrine about sexuality.”
In general, many of the religious leaders said they could encourage discussion of HIV not only in main worship services, but also in ministries and community outreach activities.
Joel Connelly, who has written about the official church’s anti-gay craziness before, now addresses the move by Seattle’s Catholic bishops to use churches as places to gather signatures for Referendum 74, which seeks to rollback marriage equality in the state of Washington. Excerpt:
A painful truism of this Holy Week, Christianity’s most important days of the year: Moral leadership in America’s Catholic Church is starting to flow from lay persons in pews and priests who deal with human problems, not prelates on thrones wearing white, red and purple hats.
Just look around to events from Rome to Berlin, and from Worcester, Mass., to Seattle.
In the Archdiocese of Seattle, our bishops issued a letter saying parishes will become signature-gathering centers for Referendum 74, a ballot measure designed to roll back same-sex marriage. But the state’s marriage equality law was sponsored by a Catholic state senator and signed into law by a Catholic governor.
Archbishop Sartain and Bishop Elizondo talk about treating all persons with “respect, sensitivity and love,” but then urge support for a campaign put together by the National Organization for Marriage — an outfit that wants to “drive a wedge” between blacks and gays, “sideswipe” President Obama and make opposition to marriage equality “an identity marker” for young Latinos.
Connelly correctly identifies the root of all moral teaching: experience. The authentic experience of human beings who want nothing more than to live authentic lives is the only thing behind marriage equality and relationship recognition. The only thing. Most people care little for the dogma behind the teaching- especially, as in the case of thoughtful Christians, it doesn’t match their experience.
A key lesson: Moral authority is earned. It is not simply acquired when a bishop/cardinal/Pope is installed. The American (and Irish, and Dutch, and Belgian , etc.) hierarchy has forfeited a lot of that authority through its handling of the priest sex-abuse scandal. The despair is mitigated by the good works and wise words from those in the pews. As Pope Benedict XVI used a Holy Thursday sermon to tell priests to obey orders, Medina, Wash., lay Catholic Melinda Gates was speaking from conscience about contraception at a conference in Berlin.
Contraceptives are not a code for abortion, she said, nor an invitation to promiscuous sex. “We are talking about giving women the power to save their own lives and their children’s lives — and to give their families the best possible future,” said Gates, talking of the need for birth control in the developing world. Gates discussed the instruction in faith she received from sisters in a Catholic high school: “In the tradition of great Catholic scholars, the nuns also taught us to question received teachings. One of the teachings most of my classmates and I questioned was the one saying birth control was a sin.”
She didn’t question lessons on service, and giving back, and social justice, worthy grounding for the future co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Read it all here, and then forward it to everyone you know.
- A Catholic Case For Same-Sex Marriage (dgsma.wordpress.com)
- Seattle Archdiocese Steps Into Marriage Battle In Washington (lezgetreal.com)
- U.S. Episcopal Presiding Bishop On Gay Clergy and Contraception (dgsmith.org)
Can the love between two people ever be an abomination? Is the chasm separating gays and lesbians and Christianity too wide to cross? Is the Bible an excuse to hate? We’re going to discuss this after a screening of “For the Bible Tells Me So” Wednesday March 21st 7pm at The Procrastinator Theater in the SUB at MSU- sponsored by BridgerCare. From the movie’s website:
Through the experiences of five very normal, very Christian, very American families — including those of former House Majority Leader Richard Gephardt and Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson — we discover how insightful people of faith handle the realization of having a gay child. Informed by such respected voices as Bishop Desmond Tutu, Harvard’s Peter Gomes, Orthodox Rabbi Steve Greenberg and Reverend Jimmy Creech, FOR THE BIBLE TELLS ME SO offers healing, clarity and understanding to anyone caught in the crosshairs of scripture and sexual identity.
I’ll be facilitating a discussion which will include persons who have ben involved in ex-gay reparative “therapy”, and members of local Christian communities.
From my friend Ted Hayes:
Hope to see you there!
Here in America, we see a Catholic hierarchy all but joining forces with the Republican party to insist on their right to control what is offered as healthcare to their employees in religiously-affiliated schools and hospitals and public services. In Britain, we see a furious campaign to prevent gay couples from having civil marriage licenses, a reform backed by the Conservative prime minister, and both opposition parties. And for much of the moment, this will be what the Church presents to the world: an attempt to control the medical care for women in its employ and its determination to keep homosexuals out of the word “marriage” and, thereby, “family.”
There is a spiritual and religious cost to this. And I do not mean that the Church should always “keep up with the times.” There are moments when a Church’s role is precisely to abandon the contemporary world in order to uphold what it takes to be eternal truths. But the narrowness of the current crusades – against a pill used by 98 percent of Catholic women, whose consciences are their own, and against people of a different sexual orientation that the Church acknowledges is unchosen – damages Christianity in the culture, and, in my view, misses the forest for the trees.
Christianity is not about the control of others; it is about the liberation Christ brings to each of us, and how we can learn to trust that incarnated love in escaping our daily failures, sins, weakness, cruelties – in order to bring love into being in the world.
Exactly what I’ve been saying (although not as eloquently). The alignment with a particular party is dangerous precisely because politics and religion are partners of convenience, not of allegiance or ideology. Those shift much more often than does dogma.
Andrew further quotes Fr Ceirion Gilbert, a Welsh priest who sums up the situation in The Tablet thus:
As a priest who deals daily with young people, teachers and catechists, I fear that yet again the Catholic Church is aligning herself with the wrong side, portraying herself as the “defender” of a position and an interpretation of society and humanity at odds with that of younger generations and almost incomprehensible to them in its rigidity and – to use an admittedly “loaded” term, bigotry.
Is it possible, also taking into account Bishop Robinson’s public comments last week, that some people are actually getting it? When will the bishops get it?
The church is going to have a tough row to hoe if it believes it can play offense on sexuality while simultaneously playing defense on clerical sexual misconduct and abuse. That kind of ridiculousness is what is seriously undermining her credibility today.
Read Fr Gilbert’s full essay here. It’s fantastic.
- A Bishop Talks About (gasp) Sex (dgsmith.org)
- The Catholic Hierarchy: “Suffer The Little Children.” (dgsma.wordpress.com)
- Catholics Defend The President (dgsma.wordpress.com)
- Catholic Hierarchy’s Slipping Moral Authority (pinkbananaworld.com)
- Fugitive Catholic Priest Arrested In India (lezgetreal.com)
Yesterday Pope Benedict XVI spoke to a group of bishops on their ad limina visit- and with all the topics available to him (hunger, poverty, abuse of women, social injustice, racial inequalities, nuclear threat, stewardship of resources, etc), he chose to speak to them about the necessity of battling the “powerful political and cultural currents seeking to alter the legal definition of marriage….The church’s conscientious effort to resist this pressure calls for a reasoned defense of marriage as a natural institution,” which is “rooted in the complementarity of the sexes and oriented to procreation,” he said.
“Sexual differences cannot be dismissed as irrelevant to the definition of marriage,” the pope said.
Defending traditional marriage is not simply a matter of church teaching, he said; it is a matter of “justice, since it entails safeguarding the good of the entire human community and the rights of parents and children alike.”
Whenever I hear a leader speak the word “Safeguard”, I pay attention. It is a word used by institutions and governments to promote the protection and defense of something fundamental to it. It is not a passive word. It says to me that the Pope is ready to fight for his narrow theological/historical position on sexuality and marriage. Something he believes is fundamental to Christian faith- even though marriage is curiously absent from the Nicene Creed (325-381 ad)- which most Christian churches profess as containing the essential, fundamental elements of Christian belief today.
He did not choose dialog or express interest in hearing about the experiences of thousands (millions?) of LGBTQ catholics and their families. He did not choose to understand, he chose to condemn.
In other words, he openly advocated war.
It’s a culture war, it’s a war of ideologies. It is, in fact, if you count all the open and affirming Christian churches that welcome LGBT persons and their partners and children into their congregations, a war of christian theology. But it’s a war nonetheless.
I believe it to be totally unnecessary- and I also believe it conflicts with the very theology the catholic church espouses.
“War” is defined thusly: “a state of armed conflict between different nations or states or different groups within a nation or state”. “Armed conflict” is an important term to notice here. I think it can also mean non-physical weapons- weapons of ideology or theology, for example. But I would be naive not to think that some of the faithful out there may hear in these words a clarion call to harm LGBT persons and their families. I would also submit that the Pope’s words have already harmed them by creating ‘enemies of the church” out of persons and families who have nothing more important in mind than following their hearts and minds- and souls. And, if you recall your history, enemies of the church have not fared so well.
And in that case, the Pope needs to take a closer look at his own catechism.
If someone attacks me and threatens my life or my way of life, according to the Catechism of The Catholic Church, I have the right to defend myself.
2264 Love toward oneself remains a fundamental principle of morality. Therefore it is legitimate to insist on respect for one’s own right to life. Someone who defends his life is not guilty of murder even if he is forced to deal his aggressor a lethal blow:
If a man in self-defense uses more than necessary violence, it will be unlawful: whereas if he repels force with moderation, his defense will be lawful…. Nor is it necessary for salvation that a man omit the act of moderate self-defense to avoid killing the other man, since one is bound to take more care of one’s own life than of another’s.
2265 Legitimate defense can be not only a right but a grave duty for someone responsible for another’s life. Preserving the common good requires rendering the unjust aggressor unable to inflict harm. To this end, those holding legitimate authority have the right to repel by armed force aggressors against the civil community entrusted to their charge.
And with the rhetoric being used by the Pope to the bishops in his address yesterday, I have every reason to believe that these are not words of someone struggling to understand the reality of LGBT persons, these are the orders of attack given by a supreme commander to his highest officials. And I’m confused because- try as I might- I can’t imagine Jesus saying them.
I also have every reason to fear for my safety and the safety of all LGBTQ persons. And before you accuse me of being overly dramatic, remember that the pro-life message has spurred numerous acts of violence- in the name of life, I might add. People in Uganda, the Middle East and elsewhere are being butchered and abused because they are known or perceived to be gay.
So do you think these words will be like soothing balm on the righteous indignation of the zealot?: …”threats to freedom of conscience, religion and worship which need to be addressed urgently so that all men and women of faith, and the institutions they inspire, can act in accordance with their deepest moral convictions.”
I’m an idiot if I don’t believe that someone out there is going to see this as a reason for violence- physical or psychological. And remember how powerful psychological threats are- those are the very things killing our kids.
I want to be clear- I am not advocating violence in any form. I’m advocating self-defense. And I’m advocating a careful, calculated, firm and reasonable response to this madness. I want the argument to be two-sided. I want the voice of the Pope and the bishops to be countered by the voices of people who see the Christian message in a different way.
If the Pope chooses war, I choose to oppose that war. I challenge it on its very principle.
So, if I may be so brazen, I would like to be one of those counter voices. Feel free to add your own voice in the comments.
To my LGBTIQ family,
Love toward yourself remains a fundamental principle of morality. Therefore it is important and necessary to insist on respect for your own right to life. I believe you have been created to fill a very important place in this world- a place often dramatically misunderstood and opposed by people out of ignorance and fear.
It is crucial that you understand that you are not alone- there are millions of people who want to understand you and accept you and who will love you. You have the right to be understood- and you have the right to love and be loved in the ways you feel are most faithful to your created nature.
You have the right to live free from fear of attack and violence. You have the right to defend yourself against ignorant attacks on your dignity, happiness and self-respect. You have the right to fulfill your potential and to follow your heart and mind and soul and dreams to the best of your ability. Despite ignorance, despite persecution, despite fear and power and hate.
I believe that we are all beloved by the God of our understanding. I believe that we are valuable in being beloved. And that value is not diminished, even in the face of anger, fear and ignorance. Even in the face of religious belief which would deny us that value.
We are a courageous, wonderful people, with visions of love and acceptance and equality and happiness that I believe are deeply important to the future of the world.
I beg you, don’t let go of these visions- no matter how strongly others try to pull them away from you. They are your birthright.
They are the key hope to a world filled with peace.
- Pope denounces gay marriage lobby to U.S. bishops, causing media ‘uproar,’ Christian activist says (miamiherald.typepad.com)
- When Will the Pope Speak Out, Too? (newwaysministryblog.wordpress.com)
- Pope denounces gay marriage lobby to US bishops (seattletimes.nwsource.com)