Monthly Archives: October 2009

A Wretched Man: novel to be released soon

The edits are finally done, and the manuscript has been formatted for printing.  Front and back cover designs are in place for the galley copies that have been ordered.  A limited, preliminary print run will produce galley copies (also known as advance reader copies) that will be provided to reviewers.  The publication process slowly chugs along, and now I must wait nervously and hope for a favorable review or two …

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Vatican call for #Anglicans to join #Catholics revisited

A couple of days ago, I posted on the reaction to the Vatican’s invitation to conservative Anglicans who disagreed with the Episcopal Church’s policy on gay and female clergy.  Here’s more blogosphere feedback.

A press release from Voice of the Faithful asks, IS THE ANGLICAN COMMUNITY GOING TO SOLVE THE PRIEST SHORTAGE?  Voice of the Faithful is a progressive group of Catholics who coincidentally are holding their annual convention this weekend on Long Island.

Susan Russell (recent past president of Integrity USA) links to an NPR audio and quotes Jim Naughton:

I think for Episcopalians, what we need to do in the wake of this announcement is to continue going out there and saying, look, we do offer very traditional liturgy, beautiful music, a style of worship that many people like. But we are a democratically governed church. We think men and women are equal at the altar, and we respect the dignity of gay and lesbian Christians. If that makes us outcasts, I think that that’s a status that we embrace happily. So if what we’re talking about here are people offering alternatives, I think Episcopalians offer that alternative to their Catholic brothers and sisters. 

Is Pope Benedict’s action dynamite under the logjam of stalled ecumenical discussions?  This is the question posted on America, the American Catholic Weekly.  In another post on the same blog, noted Lutheran theologian Martin Marty is quoted:

Bypassing forty years of Anglican-Roman Catholic conversations-cum-negotiations and blindsiding Archbishop Rowan Williams, the head of the seventy-million-member Anglican Communion, Vatican officials announced that they were taking steps to receive Anglican (in the United States, Episcopal) clergy through conversion into the Roman Catholic priesthood.  Headlines had it that Rome wanted to “lure,” “attract,” “bid for” or “woo” priests and congregations to make the drastic move, while the Vatican front man, as he fished for Anglicans, said he was not fishing for Anglicans….

And, a third post on the same blog suggests that the fine print over the acceptance of married Anglican priests into the Catholic church needs some clarification.

One Anglican cleric who blogs as Madpriest, dismisses the Anglicans who are receptive to the Pope’s invitation as “The Dying Gasps of Anglican Misogyny.”

Religion writer Julia Duin at the Washington Post raises lots of questions:

And which elements of the Anglican liturgy will these converts will be allowed to retain? Anglicans have multiple versions (1662, 1928, 1979 to name a few) of their Book of Common Prayer. Will they have to accept Roman Catholic theology on transubstantiation (the bread and wine really becoming the body and blood of Christ), on papal infallibility, on the bodily assumption of the Virgin Mary into heaven, not to mention the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception, which holds that Mary was born without sin?

Finally, Minnesota blogger, progressive Catholic Michael Bayly, dares to speak that which must not be spoken.  In a post entitled Keeping All the Queens Under One Roof, Bayly suggests that there is a subtext of closeted and repressed gay clergy in both the Anglican communion and the Catholic communion.

We’re not supposed to talk about this aspect of the drama in the Vatican. But there is as much an overlap of closeted gay priests and bishops with liturgical and theological orthodoxy as there is of closeted gay politicians finding ways to oppress other gays who are out and open.

Bayly quotes Chris Dierckes:

If personal experience and lifelong immersion in a sub-culture is any form of persuasive evidence, I can tell you that conservative Anglo-Catholicism — at the clerical level — is totally dominated by gay men. Mostly repressed. What used to be called when I was in seminary, the pink mafia. And the thing that is the initial trigger for this decision is the upcoming very likely to happen decision to ordain women as bishops in the Church of England (there have already been women priests there for about 15 years or so). Which has a certain irony in this case. If these Anglo-Catholics join the Roman Communion they can join up with very conservative Roman Catholic groups like Regnum Christi and The Legionaries of Christ, also totally dominated by closeted gay fellows. You don’t need to be Sigmund Freud to see the awesome tragic humor in a bunch of non-wife-having grown men wearing pink dresses (and in the Pope’s case super expensive fabulous Prada shoes!!!) telling everybody else they shouldn’t be gay.

Integrity Eucharist on eve of Minnesota Diocesan Convention #Episcopal

Last night I walked with Integrity.  I was blessed to participate in the Integrity Eucharist at historic St Paul’s Episcopal Church on-the-Hill on Summit Avenue in St Paul, Mn.  This weekend, the Minnesota Diocese of the Episcopal Church will choose it’s ninth Bishop, and Integrity USA, the LGBT Episcopal advocacy group, celebrated Eucharist with the local LGBT community and allies on the convention’s eve.

St Paul’s dates back to 1854, four years before Minnesota was granted statehood.  It has a long and proud history that includes hosting the first electing convention when Bishop Henry Benjamin Whipple became the first Bishop of the Minnesota Diocese.  More recently, St Paul’s has been the home to progressive Christians and Episcopalians.  The first woman on a Vestry from Minnesota was elected at St. Paul’s.  The Rev. Jeannette Piccard of Philadelphia Eleven fame was a longtime member.  Here is a link to her Wikipedia entry:

Jeannette Ridlon Piccard (January 5, 1895 – May 17, 1981) was an American teacher, scientist, priest, and aeronaut who was a pioneer of balloon flight. A member of the famed Piccard family of balloonists and of the International Space Hall of Fame, she was the first licensed female balloon pilot, the first woman to fly to the stratosphere, and a speaker for NASA. Her 1934 flight held the women’s altitude record for three decades. Called a woman of causes and irrepressible, Piccard is remembered as one of the Philadelphia Eleven, the first women to be ordained Episcopalian priests.

David Norgard The homilist last night was the Rev. David Norgard, recently elected to serve as the President of Integrity.  Rev. Norgard, who has served parishes in San Francisco and New York City, returned to his Minnesota roots for the occasion (born in Hibbing, home to Kevin McHale and Bob Dylan).  He told his story of truth telling and coming out to his bishop during his candidacy process, thus becoming the first openly gay Episcopal priest in Minnesota in 1979.  The full text of his homily has been posted on the Walking with Integrity blog.  Here is a portion:

Coming out does not make life easier…but it does unequivocally make life better.  Telling the truth and seeking justice, while painfully difficult at times, are inherently better options for living than their alternatives because they are the constellation that leads us on the path toward integrity.  And as the psalmist says, “No good thing will God withhold from those who walk with integrity.”

I met new friends, including Rev Norgard, and old ones as well, including Ross Murray, the interim Director of Lutherans Concerned / North America.  Ross was a leader of Goodsoil at the recent ELCA 2009 Churchwide Assembly, and I worked as a Goodsoil volunteer.

Our prayers are with the Minnesota Episcopalians as they meet in Convention this weekend.

Voice of the Faithful: Progressive Catholic Convention

I have blogged several times about the upcoming Call to Action (CTA) Conference in Milwaukee  beginning November 6 (click here to follow the thread).  However, I have been remiss in reporting the annual conference of Voice of the Faithful (VOTF) that will convene this weekend in Melville, New York.  Both CTA and VOTF are progressive Catholic organizations, but I am not sure how they differ or how they are alike.

Here is the agenda for the VOTF convention:

Schedule of Events

Friday evening, October 30th

7 pm-8:45 pm          Registration & cocktail hour

7:00 pm-8:45 pm    Presentations on Strategic Platform and the American Catholic Council 
(Come find out where you fit into the action plan that VOTF is unfolding by learning more about the five platforms: Local/Diocesan Action, Protect Children/Support Survivors, Universal Church Reform, Networking and Partnerships, and Spiritual and Communal Growth.  Get an overview of the proposals, ask questions, and sign up for involvement!  This new strategy has a place for every VOTF member to participate in meaningful activities that will help us “make our voices heard.”)

8:00 pm-8:30 pm &
8:45 pm-9:15 pm       Presentations on Vigil Strategies with LI-VOTF and SNAP

Saturday October 31st

8 am  Registration and Continental Breakfast

9 am  Opening Prayer 
Welcome to Long Island – Joan Hopkins- co-chair LIVOTF

9:15 am-9:45 am
President Dan Bartley’s  Report  On the State of VOTF”
“Ask the President” Q & A

9:45 am Introduction of distinguished guests and acknowledgments – Phil Megna

10 am  BREAK

10:15 am-11:15 am Sister Joan Chittister

11:15 am-12:15 pm  Discussions, Remarks, Solutions & questions for speaker
(Attendees will have time for discussion and reflection on Sister Joan’s remarks in light of VOTF’s Strategic Plan and the opportunities available for action based on her presentation.)

12:15 pm-12:30 pm President’s Special Awards for Contributions at the Local and Affiliate Levels  – Dan Bartley

12:30 pm-1:30 pm LUNCH

1:30 pm-2:00 pm Presentation of National VOTF awards-Priest of Integrity and St. Catherine of Siena awards

2:00 pm-2:30pm BREAK (browse & check out the books & merchandise at the tables)

2:30 pm-3:30 pm Rev. Thomas Reese

3:45 pm-4:30 pm Discussions, Remarks, Solutions & questions for speaker
(Attendees will have time for discussion and reflection on Father’s remarks in light of VOTF’s Strategic Plan and the opportunities available for action based on his presentation.)

Break- Preparation for Mass

5:00 pm Mass celebrated by Father Tom Reese (including singing and prayers)


Vatican actively trolling for disaffected Anglicans #Anglican #Catholic

Last week, the Vatican made a stunning announcement.  Here is the story in the New York Times.

In an extraordinary bid to lure traditionalist Anglicans en masse, the Vatican said Tuesday that it would make it easier for Anglicans uncomfortable with their church’s acceptance of female priests and openly gay bishops to join the Roman Catholic Church while retaining many of their traditions.

Anglicans would be able “to enter full communion with the Catholic Church while preserving elements of the distinctive Anglican spiritual and liturgical patrimony,” Cardinal William J. Levada, the prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, said at a news conference here.

It was unclear why the Vatican made the announcement now. But it seemed a rare opportunity, audaciously executed, to capitalize on deep divisions within the Anglican Church to attract new members at a time when the Catholic Church has been trying to reinvigorate itself in Europe.

Not surprisingly, the blogosphere is afire with commentary.  A sampling follows.

Here in Minnesota, progressive Catholic blogger Michael Bayly quotes author and Benedictine specialist David Gibson:

While both Pope John Paul II and his successor Benedict XVI have been known as staunch conservatives, they have in fact shown a remarkably liberal willingness to bend the rules when it comes to certain groups.

For a church whose leadership has earned a reputation for reprimanding liberal Catholics who color outside the lines, these developments could be more than a bit frustrating. If conservatives can get special consideration, how about Catholics who have divorced and remarried but can’t take communion? Or those who back ordaining women? Or perhaps an exemption for the 25,000 or so priests who left the ministry in recent decades when they married? Many of them are ready, willing and able to return. Priest shortage solved.

In another post, Bayly quotes Mary Hunt:

Let history record this theological scandal for what it is. Touted by Rome as a step forward in ecumenical relations with a cousin communion, it is in fact the joining of two camps united in their rejection of women and queer people as unworthy of religious leadership.

Walking with Integrity, the blog of an Episcopal LGBT advocacy group, suggests disaffected Anglicans who would join the Roman Catholic church will be on the wrong side of history.

“It is also ironic that this announcement comes just days after the Vatican unveiled plans for an exhibit honoring Galileo–who was condemned by the church 400 years ago,” said [an Integrity spokesperson]. “Let us hope for the sake of the gospel we share, that our Roman Catholic brothers and sisters don’t have to wait 400 years for their church to get on the right side of history on the full inclusion of women and the LGBT baptized in their work and witness.

Blogger Gary Stern quotes a New York Episcopal Diocese assistant  bishop, Catherine Roskam:

We appreciate the welcome the pope extended to those in the Anglican communion who are disaffected. We for our part continue to welcome our Roman Catholic brothers and sisters, both lay and ordained, conservative and liberal, who wish to belong to a church that treasures diversity of thought.

Theolog, the blog of Christian Century magazine, contains blog links covering a spectrum of responses.  Notre Dame professor Cathleen Kaveny wonders about Episcopalians who come over who might bring more liberal attitudes regarding contraception. 

Vox Nova, a Roman Catholic blog, offers a lengthy and thoughtful post that suggests:

It is helpful for a few, meaningless for most and pernicious for those (those in the Anglican communion specifically) who have to deal with the fallout.  Oh, and it has some very interesting, perhaps unintended, possibilities for the future of the Church.

The progressive Catholic group, Call to Action, will meet next week in Milwaukee for their annual convention.  It will be interesting to hear what comes out of the convention regarding this issue.

Swedish Lutheran Church will conduct same gender marriages #ELCA #CWA09 #Lutheran

During the debates at the ELCA 2009 Churchwide Assembly in August, the opponents of  LGBT friendly measures argued that such actions would jeopardize ELCA relationships with ecumenical partners.  True enough regarding the more conservative Missouri Synod (LCMS)  and the Roman Catholic Church, but the ELCA does not have full communion agreements with either of these bodies.  On the other hand, ELCA full communion partners (United Church of Christ, Episcopal Church, Presbyterian Church USA, Reformed Church of America, and the United Methodist Church) are pretty much in the same boat as the ELCA regarding LGBT issues.  The UCC and the Episcopalians allow gay clergy while the PCUSA and UMC are wrestling  with the issue.  In fact, some within the opposition would prefer the ELCA to make a sharp right turn toward the LCMS and Roman Catholicism and away from our communion partners.

Eva Brunne A parallel situation exists with worldwide Lutheran bodies.  While African Lutherans stand strongly against the ELCA actions, the European Lutheran allies appear to be of like mind; indeed, the Swedish Lutheran Church has moved faster than the ELCA.  Earlier this year, Eva Brunne, a lesbian pastor in an open same-gender relationship, was elected bishop of the Stockholm diocese.  About the same time, the Swedish government passed marriage equality legislation, and the Swedish Lutheran Church has quickly moved to allow gay marriage within the church, according to an Oct 22 press release from Lutherans Concerned / North America.

This morning the Board of the Lutheran Church of Sweden voted and announced that the church would conduct marriage ceremonies for same-gender couples, using gender-neutral liturgies for both LGBT and heterosexual weddings.

The vote of the board of the church was taken at its meeting this morning and is reported as 176-62, with 11 abstentions and 2 absences.

Thirty years ago, Sweden declared homosexuality was not a disease. The church has offered blessings for same-gender couples since 2007. In April, Sweden passed a law that granted marriage equality to all. That law went into effect in May.

Some in the Church of Sweden are of the opinion that marriage in the church ought to be reserved for man-woman unions, and argued for that position. Today’s vote ended that debate. The new ruling will go into effect on November 1, 2009.

UPDATE: The Lutheran Church of Germany has just elected its first female leader, thus adding further evidence that European Lutherans are pretty close to the ELCA in their thinking and internal politics.

The greatest generation: “What did we fight for?”

Dad and SueIt was Tom Brokaw, the retired nightly news anchor, who coined the term, The Greatest Generation, which was the title of his popular book about the Americans that grew up during the depression and fought valiantly in World War II “not for the fame and recognition, but because it was the right thing to do.”  The wars since then—Korea, Viet Nam, Iraq I, Iraq II, and Afghanistan—lack the moral clarity and consensus that existed back then. 

My dad served on a destroyer, the USS Caperton,  in the Pacific fleet that survived Kamikaze attacks and patrolled Tokyo harbor during the peace treaty ceremony aboard the USS Missouri.  He recently visited the WWII memorial in Washington D.C. in the company of my sister, Susan.  They were part of the “Honor Flight” program, which quotes Will Rogers, “We can’t all be heroes.  Some of us have to stand on the curb and clap as they go by.”

Thanks to Pam Spaulding’s blog, Pam’s House Blend, I post a video of another WWII hero from the Allied effort in Europe, and he asks the poignant question, “what do you think I fought for in Omaha Beach?”  Listen to his answer.