Friday, December 29, 2006

On Poverty

I strongly recommend reading Christy Hardin Smith's post Bringing Poverty to the Table. Yes, as I suspected, the post was prompted by Edwards' announcement yesterday. But even if you support a different candidate, please read. As Christy noted at the end of the piece:
That it has taken a Presidential candidate standing up and talking about this issue to get it back on the front pages of newspapers — at least for the day yesterday — is unconscionable. But at least people are talking about it again, and for that I applaud John Edwards for sticking to a topic that all of us need to be talking about much more frequently.
I don't have a candidate to support yet, as Gore still seems unwilling to run, Feingold has said he won't, and Howard Dean is a man of his word, who promised not to run if elected chair of the DNC. But poverty is one of those uncomfortable, dauntingly big and complex issues that tends to get swept under the rug by the majority. Maybe it's a bit like global warming in that respect. Hurricanes Katrina and Rita were graphic examples of the urgency of both issues--we can't afford to ignore either. So I will join Christy in applauding Edwards getting poverty back into the headlines, even for one day. But I hope it will be for longer than that. Hopefully other candidates and officeholders will join him.

And I don't say this as a supporter of any political candidate. I say it as a human being. I also say it as an Episcopalian who is proud of my new Presiding Bishop who insists on keeping the focus on this issue, in spite of the efforts of others to shift the attention back to issues of human sexuality. From an interview in June of 2006:

Bishop JEFFERTS SCHORI: We need to be examining the poverty that is real around the world. We need to be examining the fact that our brothers and sisters, Anglican and not, in places like Africa and Asia don't have enough to eat. Their children don't have the opportunity to go to school. AIDS and tuberculosis and malaria are rampant in many parts of this world and people with those diseases don't have access to adequate health care. That's where our focus needs to be.

And, from a description of Katharine Jefferts Schori's book, scheduled to be released in January...
Grounding her reflections in a theology of the reign of God—‘God’s dream for creation’—she dares to ‘dream big’ herself, casting a vision of a world without poverty and hunger, where we all recognize our interdependence with every other child of God.
Jefferts Schori's book can be preordered here.

And I have heard those words echoed by Bishop Gene Robinson, and by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and by many other people I respect and admire. I hope that more and more people will talk about it--especially people who have an audience. And when people try to distract us with something shiny, I hope that we will redirect, and bring the discussion back to issues of vital importance for our human family.

(Also posted at Daily Kos, My Left Wing and Street Prophets)

Friday, December 22, 2006

Countering Anti-Muslim bigotry

Note: I started this post at the beginning of the month and then got very busy with Christmas preparations and various events for the kids. But today, after more recent developments, such as Virginia Represenative Virgil Goode's letter about the importance of tightening immigration restrictions to avoid an "influx of Muslims", I decided I'd better post it.

What I wrote earlier this month...

From Yahoo News: In U.S., fear and distrust of Muslims runs deep

When radio host Jerry Klein suggested that all Muslims in the United States should be identified with a crescent-shape tattoo or a distinctive arm band, the phone lines jammed instantly.

Another said that tattoos, armbands and other identifying markers such as crescent marks on driver's licenses, passports and birth certificates did not go far enough. "What good is identifying them?" he asked. "You have to set up encampments like during World War Two with the Japanese and Germans."

At the end of the one-hour show, rich with arguments on why visual identification of "the threat in our midst" would alleviate the public's fears, Klein revealed that he had staged a hoax. It drew out reactions that are not uncommon in post-9/11 America.
A video of news segment about this story can be seen at Crooks and Liars.

Here is a link to some columns by Dr. Asma Mobin Uddin, a Columbus area pediatrician and member of the Muslim faith. She makes public appearances (one at my church a couple years ago) to help people learn more about the misunderstood and sometimes mistrusted faith to which she belongs, has written columns for the Faith and Values section of the Columbus Dispatch, and has written a children's book, My Name is Bilal...
Bilal worries about being teased by his classmates for being Muslim. He thinks maybe it would be better if people don't know he is Muslim. Maybe it would be best if he tells kids his name is Bill rather than Bilal. Then maybe they would leave him alone. Mr. Ali, one of Bilal's teachers and also Muslim, sees how the boy is struggling. He gives Bilal a book about the first person to give the call to prayer during the time of the Prophet Muhammad. That person was another Bilal: Bilal Ibn Rabah. What Bilal learns from the book forms the compelling story of a young boy wrestling with his identity.

We Believe Conference

Quick post--it's Christmas time and all, but I wanted to post a link to this before I forgot again...

Moving Faith Forward
We Believe Leadership Retreat!
January 30-31, 2007

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Sister Helen Prejean at St. Stephen's in Columbus

On Sunday, November 12 at 7 p.m. Sr. Helen Prejean, author of Dead Man Walking and The Death of Innocents will speak at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church. She is also the founder of the Moratorium Campaign, a group seeking to halt the death penalty

30 West Woodruff Avenue
Columbus, Ohio 43210
Parking available at ARPS garage
Free will offering

You can read more about Helen Prejean here:
Sister Helen Prejean: The real woman behind 'Dead Man Walking'
Sister Helen Prejean's Personal Web Site

Friday, October 20, 2006

David Korten in Columbus, October 14, 2006

This is the beginning of my transcription of David Korten's remarks at the Earth Charter Summit that took place in Columbus, Ohio on Saturday, October 14.

It is such a joy to be here in Ohio with such a great group of people --I've just been meeting extraordinary activists everywhere I go. And, I hope you'll excuse me if I just take a moment here to go shake hands with Granny D (laughter and applause). Granny D is such an inspiration, when I was facing my 65th birthday and thinking, "Well, you know, this is kind of a transition. I guess the rest of my life I should be starting to think about winding down and passing on the responsibilities." (Laughter) And Granny D of course is an extraordinary example of what we should all be doing with our elder years. She's a great inspiration.

Now, I'm also fascinated by your politics here. Dennis Kucinich is one of my heroes--one of the most visionary politicians of our time. (Applause). And of course I note that you cover the range, to a candidate for governor who really should be in the penitentiary. Anyhow, hopefully he will find his way to the appropriate outcome.

This is a very special weekend here, I'm sure you know this is one of four sets of activities by different initiatives. And of course the Earth Charter and the Earth Charter Summit is what brings together the visionary framework for all of the rest of our work. And I'm so pleased that the Earth Charter folks here in Columbus are framing the issue in terms of creating earth community, because that, to me, is really the way to frame the Earth Charter. That it presents the principles for the earth community that we must bring forth. And that gives the substance and the lead-in to action.

And then of course the other initiaives, CIRCA, which is focussed on ending corporate colonization--that is one essential step on the path to earth community. Then Simply Living, which working on, "Okay, how do we implement it in the way we live, the way we organize our living space? The way we organize our economies."

The key to this is positive. As was mentioned in the introduction, one of the things I've come to is resistance alone is a losing strategy. Ultimately, to win we must come forward to create the positive.

And then of course the fourth, and absolutely foundational element of this quadrangle is the Voting Rights Revival. And of course Ohio here reminded us all that, among all the democratic reforms we need, it starts with counting the votes. Absolutely foundational. So, I congratulate you all on your work, and thank you for the invitation. I hope my comments today will help put the work you're doing in a deeper historical, cultural, and to some extent spiritual context.

Now, the underlying message of the Great Turning is quite straightforward. We humans have come to the end of a long and deeply destructive era. It is time to turn this world around for our own sake, and for the sake of our children for generations to come.

There's good news and bad news, and it comes in the same package. The news is "business as usual is over". Peak oil, climate change, the collapsing U.S. dollar, and spreading social disinigration born of the marginalization of the majority of humanity are coming together in a constellation of forces desined to fundamentally change every aspect of modern life.

Now, whether this convergence of forces plays out as an epic human opportunity or the final human tragedy, will depend on the stories by which we understand what's happening, and undrestand the choices that it is ours to make. And I'm going to be talking about those choices.

(More to come)

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Heads-up to people of faith for Strickland

It might be nice to have a counterpresence for this...

Columbus, OH – On October 18 Christians for Social Justice, an Ohio based organization, will educate voters that “Strickland is Wrong” on moral issues at the “Turnaround Ohio” Rally for Ted Strickland.

Ted’s Truth Truck along with handheld signs and banners will be used to expose Ted Strickland’s record on abortion and homosexual unions. Ted’s Truth Truck has visited several cities in Ohio since its launch on Sept. 28. Dozens of Christians will make the point that Ted Strickland’s votes and public statements on key social justice issues are contrary to the views of most of Ohio’s faith community.

Christians for Social Justice's wes (sic) site, is designed to compare some of Ted Strickland's votes, positions, and statements to the Biblical Christianity.

The “Strickland is Wrong” Voter Education Outreach will present a billboard truck, banners, and handheld signs displaying Strickland’s record on abortion and homosexual unions at Lifestyle Communities Pavilion (formerly PromoWest), 405 Neil Avenue in Columbus, Ohio on Wednesday Oct. 18, 2006 from 5 - 7 PM

Appropriating "social justice" for a narrow conservative agenda...the mind boggles.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Earth Charter Summit

What: Earth Charter Summit 2006
When: October 14th, 2006 8:30 AM - 1:00 PM
Where: SGI-USA Columbus Community Center
1197 Noe Bixby Rd
Columbus OH 43213
Why: Because you support

I. Respect and care about the Community of Life
II. Ecological Integrity
III. Social & Economic Justice
IV. Democracy, Non-violence & Peace

In addition to "top-down" reforms, ... any lasting solution will require commensurate "bottom-up" reforms that build and strengthen solidarity at the people's level. These are the two interlinked prerequisites of change on a global scale.

Daisaku Ikeda, "The Challenge of Global Empowerment"

We share one planet. What happens in one country can affect the other. We are so inter-dependent that we cannot behave as if we live in isolation.

-- Kofi Annan, UN Secretary-General, interview in A Quiet Revolution

Sometimes when we think of global problems, we get disempowered. But when we take action at the local level, we are empowered.

-- Dr. Wangari Maathai, founder of the Green Belt Movement

Contact Ernestine Jackson for more info: 614-237-3815

Guest Speaker: David Korten, author of The Great Turning: From Empire to Earth Community

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Letter from We Believe to Rod Parsley

September 18, 2006
Pastor Rod Parsley
World Harvest Church
4595 Gender Road
Canal Winchester, Ohio 43110

Dear Pastor Parsley,
Several Christian Clergy who are members of We Believe Ohio received your invitation to meet at Mt. Sinai Ministries in Cleveland on September 19. Your letter outlined your hope to explore how the resources of World Harvest Church, the Center for Moral Clarity, the World Harvest Church Ministerial Fellowship, and Reformation Ohio might be used to help area churches "win Ohio for Christ."

As members of We Believe Ohio, an interfaith group of religious leaders from across the state, we are concerned about your tactics of manipulating religion for political gain. Faith should inform public policy, but our Constitution does not permit the establishment of any one religion over another. Your wish to “win the state for Jesus Christ” may be shared by many. However, your repeated use of this kind of language in the political arena is exclusionary and crosses the line separating religious and governmental institutions, which has allowed religion to flourish in our state and nation.

We believe the most effective way to promote and protect all Ohioans is to lift our state’s diverse faith voices in support of the common good. Our faith calls us to build a state that includes and celebrates all Ohioans, affirms their dignity and protects their rights. Our faith calls us to build an Ohio in which children and adults no longer fall into poverty and lose their health care and housing. Our faith calls us to build an Ohio in which people earn a living wage to support their families. Our faith calls us to ensure that all children receive a quality education. Our faith calls us to invest in our neglected inner cities and rural areas. Our faith calls us to bring these moral issues into the public arena.

Religion should not be used to divide and exclude, it should unite and include. In your book Silent No More, you wrote of one of our faith traditions, “America was founded, in part, with the intention of seeing this false religion destroyed.” Therefore, we can only assume that when you implore us to “win the state for Christ” you mean that the faiths and traditions of those who are not Christian in Ohio must lose, or even be destroyed. The implications of your perspective are frightening for Ohio.

As brothers and sisters in faith, we call upon you to end your divisive tactics that violate the American tradition of religious tolerance. End your campaign of manipulating religion for political gain, and end your rhetoric that separates Ohioans from one another. Some of the We Believe clergy who you invited to Tuesday’s meeting at Mt. Sinai Ministries plan to attend. We invite you, in the reconciling spirit of the God who loves us all, to join with us in building a united Ohio—an Ohio in which all of God’s people are accorded the dignity, well being and freedom that our faiths and our Constitution demand.

We Believe Ohio –
Northern Ohio Clergy Leadership
Imam Abbas Ahmad, First Cleveland Mosque
Rabbi Richard A. Block, The Temple-Tifereth Israel
Rev. Daniel Budd, The First Unitarian Church of Cleveland
Rev. Dr. Joan Brown Campbell, Chautauqua Institution
Rev. Felix Carrion, Euclid Avenue United Church of Christ
Rev. Dr. Kenneth W. Chalker, First United Methodist Church
Rev. George T. Hrbeck, Lutheran Metropolitan Ministry
Rev. Dr. John Lentz, Jr., Forest Hills Presbyterian Church
The Very Rev. Tracey Lind, Trinity Episcopal Cathedral
Rev. Dr. Marvin McMickle, Antioch Baptist Church
Rabbi Howard H. Ruben, Anshe Chesed Fairmount Temple
Kuldeep Singh, Sikh Youth Federation
Rev. Georgiana Thornton, St. Paul AME Church

Columbus Area Ramadan Iftar Dinner

WHEN: Saturday, Oct. 7, 6:30-9:00 p.m.
WHERE: Ohio Union West Ballroom, 1739 North High Street, Columbus, OH 43210
(614) 292-5200
DETAILS: Sharing Ramadan Iftar Dinner is a community event sponsored by the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Ohio Chapter.

Reservations requested by calling the CAIR-Ohio (Columbus) Office at 614-451-3232.

Please note, there is an OSU home football game at 3:30 so please carpool and leave early to avoid traffic delays. Valet Parking will be available near the Union entrance on High Street for a small fee.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

We Believe GOTV Rally

Please join We Believe Ohio on Thursday, October 5 at 7:00 p.m. for a Get Out the Vote Rally for Justice at Congregation Tifereth Israel!

Our Keynote Speaker will be the Rev. Dr. James A. Forbes, Sr. Pastor of the Riverside Church in New York City. Dr. Forbes has been recognized by Newsweek Magazine as one of the twelve "most effective preachers in the English-speaking world."

The rally will also feature Sister Simone Campbell, the National Coordinator of NETWORK, a leader in the global movement for justice and peace.

Bring your friends and family to rally for a more just Ohio!

Congregation Tifereth Israel is conveniently located in downtown Columbus at 1354 Broad St.

For additional information about the evening and our speakers, please visit our Web site at

If you are interested in becoming involved with initiatives that We Believe has endorsed, please note that over the summer of 2006, We Believe endorsed several issues with implications for the November election. These include the Minimum Wage Effort (Let Justice Roll), Get out the Vote (IAF), and Affordable Health care (CAHO). Each of these efforts has a need for volunteers, and are listed (along with contact information) on our Web site at:

Thank you for your support of We Believe Ohio! We look forward to seeing you on October 5th!

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Defending Church-State Separation: National speaker comes to Columbus

I posted about this a while ago, but since the event is tomorrow, I thought a timely reminder was in order...

Sunday, September 17, 2006 3:00 P.M.

North Congregational UCC
2040 W. Henderson Rd.
Columbus, OH 43220

Rob Boston (assistant director of communications for Americans United for Separation of Church and State) will be speaking on speaking on "Defending the Separation of Church and State in Difficult Times"

Click here for more details.

You can read more about Rob Boston here.

Rob Boston's book, The Most Dangerous Man in America?: Pat Robertson and the Rise of the Christian Coalition is available at,, and Barnes &

Episcopal Social Justice Forum

Crossposted from the Diocese of Southern Ohio Updates blog...

Social justice forum

Jeffrey Price, director of Public Policy for the Diocese of Southern Ohio, will speak at St. Alban's on Wednesday, Sept. 20 at 7 p.m. The church is located at 333 S. Drexel Avenue in Bexley.

Price will discuss how Episcopalians can be educated to understand the Christian faith so that they may be strong disciples, equipped to exercise ministries of social justice and reconciliation. The Church has historically been an exceptional agent of direct services, hands-on care of and for persons in need. Where it has (in the past) fallen short of the mark of justice is in the area of systemic change and addressing the political and social systems that keep people in poverty or fail to uphold all persons as children of God, worth of dignity and respect.

The event is free and open to the public. For directions or more information, call St. Alban's at 614.253.8549.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Blog issues

I've been having some trouble with the template of this blog, so I decided to start from scratch with a new template. Some things are missing at this point, like the Haloscan comment code. Thank you for your patience while I get this sorted out.

Monday, September 11, 2006

The Challenge of Terror

I thought this might be a good time to excerpt and link The Challenge of Terror, written by John Paul Lederach in the days that immediately followed September 11, 2001. Lederach is a Professor of International Peacebuilding at the University of Notre Dame. Clearly, the U.S. government didn't heed his advice when responding to the events of 9/11/01, but I still think the essay is worth reading. And, since the media is busily revisiting everything else about that tragic day, I can't think of any reason *not* to revisit these thoughtful words.

Military action to destroy terror, particularly as it affects already vulnerable civilian populations will be like hitting a fully mature dandelion with a golf club: This will further perpetuate the myth of "evil United States military might" and will assure yet another generation of recruits.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Faithful Democrats

I'm aware of not having posted much lately on this blog--haven't had a whole lot to say, or time to compose my thoughts. Most of my efforts have gone into trying to generate some income for our household. Getting kids settled back into school, and Daughter in Ohio's birthday the other day. My "baby" is now 11 years old. Kids are good for reminding you just how fast time goes by.

But I wanted to make sure I posted about this new site, for anyone who wasn't aware of it. It is called Faithful Democrats.

In it, Ted Strickland, who is running for Governor of Ohio, has a piece about being a 'golden rule" Democrat.
For me, the goal is not to be a liberal Democrat or a conservative Democrat. For me, the goal is to be a Golden Rule Democrat.

Being a Golden Rule Democrat means you do your best to treat other people the way you yourself would want to be treated. In a political context, it means working for a government rooted in sound judgment, having a thirst for justice and committed to serving its people.

During my early years as a Congressman, I placed a plaque in my office with the following quote from the Hebrew Scriptures. It's from Micah 6:8: "And what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?"

Throughout my public service I've tried to live by those simple, powerful words.

Click here for the rest.

Last month, I took part in a blogger conference call with Ted Strickland. It is transcribed in three parts:
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

Alternate link for comments

Sunday, August 27, 2006

B.R.E.A.D. Columbus Fundraising

Back in the spring, Demetrius reworked the logo (seen below) for a local interfaith social justice organization. The organization's name is B.R.E.A.D., which stands for "Building Responsibility, Equality, and Dignity". They now have a Cafe Press shop, and proceeds from the sales will go to support the work of B.R.E.A.D. Columbus (currently having a fundraising drive). Click the logo to visit the store.

B.R.E.A.D (Building Responsibility Equality and Dignity) Columbus Online Store

If you would like to know more about the work and philosophy of B.R.E.A.D., I have provided some links:

BREAD Rises in the Buckeye State
The Nehemiah Assembly: packed like sardines for justice
Rabbi: G-d *expects* us to do justice!
Bread rises!

Those are about the most recent assembly. Here are some older articles:

Pulling together to fight for jobs
Casting Stones (a sermon by Susan Ritchie at a Unitarian Universalist church in Dublin, Ohio)
Church-based programs transform communities (from the Worldwide Faith News archives)

Alternate link for comments

Friday, August 18, 2006

Episcopal Diocese of Southern Ohio Update Blog

After the past couple days of e-mail updates from the diocese, I decided it was time to put together a blog just for matters related to the diocese. Click the graphic below to visit the new blog.

Alternate link for comments

The Rt. Rev. Herbert Thompson Jr. 1934-2006

From the Diocese of Southern Ohio

A giant of the faith
The Rt. Rev. Herbert Thompson Jr.

Rest in Peace

In an e-mail note to you yesterday, Bishop Price shared the news that Bishop Thompson died unexpectedly on Wednesday while in Florence, Italy. He was supplying there and had preached on Sunday. He apparently collapsed after swimming and could not be revived.

We don't know any details about arrangements at this point, but we will let you know as soon as possible, both through this e-mail and posted on our website.

We have established a website for you to share your memories of Bishop Thompson and to celebrate his life. Some of these may be used for a special tribute issue of Interchange that will be published later this month. Visit the site at I also invite you to submit stories, memories, photos or comments about Bishop Thompson to Interchange. Send them to Richelle Thompson by e-mail, please. The deadline is Aug. 23.

Bishop Price plans to send to the clergy later this afternoon a special prayer for Bishop Thompson that he is asking to be included in Sunday worship. Some congregations are holding special services today and tomorrow to celebrate the life and ministry of Bishop Thompson. A release to the media and a biography of Bishop Thompson are on our website and can be reprinted for inclusion in the worship bulletins, if you'd like.

Please keep Herb, Owen, Kyrie and Christian, and all of Bishop Thompson's family in your prayers.

Rest eternal grant to him, O Lord;
And let light perpetual shine upon him.
May his soul, and the souls of all the departed,
through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.


Richelle Thompson
Episcopal Diocese of Southern Ohio

Alternate link for comments

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Sad news

I just received this message from the Diocese of Southern Ohio

Brothers and Sisters

Word has just reached us that The Rt. Rev. Herbert Thompson, Jr, retired bishop of Southern Ohio, died suddenly today. He was traveling in Italy and passed out after swimming and was unable to be revived.

Bishop Ken Price
Episcopal Diocese of Southern Ohio

I can't even begin to imagine what his family is feeling right now. All I can think to say is that they are in my prayers.

Alternate link for comments

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Muslims and the Separation of Church and State

The following is a partial transcript (in progress) of a talk given at last night's meeting of the central Ohio chapter of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State.

Predident of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, Central Ohio Chapter:
Our speaker is Romin Iqbal. He is the civil rights coordinator for the Council on American-Islamic Relations. He's an attorney practicing in Ohio, and works primarily in the area of religious discrimination in the workplace, and other issues which affect civil rights of Muslims and other minorities. CAIR, America's largest Muslim civil liberties group, has 32 offices, chapters and affiliates nationwide and in Canada. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, increase dialog, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.

Romin Iqbal: A little bit about myself. I was born and raised in India, which would be the largest democracy, and then I immigrated to the U.S., which would be the oldest democracy. I went to law school here as well, and what I found fascinating was the whole concept of separation of state and church. On how a secular democracy in India deals with the issue, and how they deal with the issue in the U.S. And what surprised me when I came over here is that there was still a debate going on in the U.S. over the issue of separation of state and church.

Now America is an advanced economy and an industrialized society, and I was surprised that there was still a debate going on in the westernmost nation, if you will, on the separation of state and church. And what surprised me even more is that there is a significant portion of the American population which does not necessarily believe in the concept.

As an outsider, and as a person who has lived in a third world nation, this is not something you think of the U.S. and for a western democracy, that is something which really surpised me--that the debate is still going on in the U.S. and the matter is still not settled. From an outsider's perspective, I found it very interesting.

I actually saw a poll recently, and in it they asked people living in western democracies their views on evolution and creationism. And the U.S. was in the bottom in terms of people who believe in evolution. I think Finland is the highest at 84%, and then you keep going down. And again, I was just blown away by the fact that the U.S. was actually at the bottom of people living in western democracies who actually do not believe in evolution. So that is something which to someone like me is very interesting, and maybe once I get done here, someone can fill me in on what's going on. (Laughter) Why so many in the American population, living in a prosperous, industrial democracy still do not believe in evolution.

Anyway, today I'm going to basically talk about the Muslims in the U.S. Seventy-five percent of the Muslims in the U.S. are actually born in the U.S. I was not, so I would be a minority of Muslims who have actually immigrated. What I'm going to talk about today is who the Muslims are in the U.S., and what do they believe in, and whether organizations like yours can build an alliance with Muslim organizations on this issue of separation of state and church, and whether it's even possible. And where do the Muslims stand on these issues of vouchers or evolution or stem cell.

The speaker explained that he looked at polling data from the past five years, and that his talk would be centered around that rather than his own views and experiences. He also noted that he was not speaking for CAIR.


Columbus has about 45,000 Muslims, most are Somalis who have come here as refugees, but that's not typical. In terms of ethnicity, the largest group of Muslims are from South and Central Asia, which would be India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and that would be around 33%. Then African Americans are the second largest group of Muslims, which is around 30%. The third is people of Arab origin which is around 25%, and then you have Whites and East Asians.

In terms of other demographics, 60% of Muslims have an undergraduate degree. Eighty-two percent of citizens are registered to vote.

Voting patterns of Muslims in 1996, 2000, and 2004

In 1996, almost 75% voted for Clinton, Dole got 20%, and 5% went to the third party candidate.

In 2000, the Republicans were very successful in getting a large share of the Muslim vote. Bush and the Republican party were very successful in reaching out to Muslims, and they had a faith-based alliance--that's what they called it. A faith-based alliance between Muslims and Evangelical Christians. And even though more Muslims voted for the Democrat in 2000, the difference from 50% came down to only 10%. And I was reading the Zogby international poll, and they said there were 55,000 Muslims in Florida in 2000, and almost 70% of them voted for Bush, as compared to 1996, when only 27% of them voted for Bush. So Bush was very successful in winning over the Muslim vote in Florida. And in fact all over the country, even though he did not get more votes than the Democrat, he narrowed the gap in 2000.

How he did that was basically, again, the Republicans were able to build a faith-based alliance with the Muslims. Also, I remember watching this debate in 2000. It was the second debate, and they asked a question about racial profiling of African Americans. And Bush talked about that and then he said Arab Americans are racially profiled in what's called "secret evidence". People are stopped, and we have to do something about that. So Bush spoke up against racial profiling in the debate, and supposedly this was a reason that a lot of Muslims went over to the Republican side, because Bush brought up the issue of racial profiling and he spoke against it.

Now in 2001, we obviously had the terrorist attacks, and in the 2004 election, I looked at a lot of different polls, and I did not see any poll where more than 10% of Muslims voted for Bush.

To be continued...

Alternate link for comments

Monday, August 14, 2006

Dispatch article on "We Believe"

I was wondering what was going on lately with We Believe--hadn't heard anything from them for a while. There's an article in the Columbus Dispatch about their efforts...

Congregations such as Brown’s on the Near East Side are moving beyond traditional charity work by conducting voter registration before and after Sunday services. Other churches helped collect petition signatures to place a minimum-wage initiative on Ohio’s Nov. 7 ballot.

We Believe recently agreed to support a get-out-the-vote effort targeting urban neighborhoods in Columbus, Dayton, East Cleveland and Lorain.

"There has certainly been a variety of evidence that the religious left has sought to countermobilize in response to the Christian Right," said Corwin Smidt, director of the Henry Institute and Political Science Department at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Mich.

"It’s a little too early to tell how much effect they are likely to have."

Many congregations involved in the movement experienced declining membership in recent years while attendance at the megachurches associated with the religious right soared.

Still, leaders say they believe their message will attract those in a wide variety of denominations as well as non-churchgoers who consider themselves religious or spiritual.

"This is our moment," Ahrens said. "The vision for a Christian Ohio that the religious right has is not a vision that most Christians in Ohio have.

"Given time this will catch fire."
Click here for the rest.

Alternate link for comments

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Church/state separation and Muslim civil liberties

I received notice of the following event from the Central Ohio chapter of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State...

Monday, August 14, 2006 - 7:00 PM
Northside Branch Library 1423 N. High Street Columbus 43201

Mr. Romin Iqbal, Civil Rights Coordinator for the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), will be speaking on:

* The Muslim perspective on issues such as school vouchers, religious prayer in schools and other church-state separation issues
* How a weakened wall of separation between church and state affects the rights of Muslims and other religious minorities
* Issues on which Muslims and evangelical Christians agree and disagree; where the relationship between the two groups is headed

A question and answer session will follow. The monthly chapter meeting will be conducted after the Q&A. All members and non-members are welcome to attend the speaker and meeting.

Romin Iqbal is an attorney, licensed to practice law in Ohio and works primarily in the area of religious discrimination in workplace and other areas that affect the civil rights of Muslims and other minorities.

CAIR, America's largest Muslim civil liberties group, has 32 offices, chapters and affiliates nationwide and in Canada. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.

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General Admission for Jefferts Schori's Investiture

I received these details in an e-mail newsletter from the Diocese of Southern Ohio. The investiture of Katharine Jefferts Schori on November 5 is open to the general public, but general admission tickets are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Details below...

Investiture of 26th Presiding Bishop

In rites on November 4-5 at Washington National Cathedral, the Episcopal Church will welcome Katharine Jefferts Schori as its 26th Presiding Bishop.
The Cathedral's 11 a.m. All Saints' Sunday liturgy on November 5 will include the formal seating of Jefferts Schori -- elected to office June 18 during proceedings of the 75th General Convention -- in the Presiding Bishop's cathedra, or official chair. All are welcome to attend the service on a first-come, first- seated basis as capacity allows.

General-admission tickets for the Saturday Investiture will be distributed on a first-come, first- served basis by the Office of the Presiding Bishop, which, in consultation with the Cathedral, has sought to achieve the fairest possible manner of ticket distribution. According to policy detailed below, tickets may be requested no earlier than August 15 and by postal mail only.

Requests must be mailed to: The Office of the Presiding Bishop, 815 Second Avenue, New York, NY 10017. They must be mailed and be postmarked no earlier than August 15, 2006. Tickets will be distributed on the basis of when requests were mailed (not received).

Each request may include the names of up to two people
No requests for groups will be honored
No requests by e-mail or fax will be accepted

The request for tickets should include a self- addressed stamped envelope in which tickets will be sent or in which you will be informed that tickets are not available
Tickets will be mailed the first week after Labor Day. Included in the mailing will be information about access to The Cathedral and when the doors will be opened.

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Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Ohioans for a Fair Minimum Wage files ballot petitions

Dr. Rev. Eric Brown addresses crowd

From the press release:

Supporters of Minimum-Wage Increase File Petitions,
Call Current Wage an “Injustice”

Columbus, Ohio – A throng of supporters for an initiative to increase Ohio’s minimum wage gathered at the Statehouse today to rally for a raise. The rally was followed by a march to the Ohio Secretary of State’s office where petitions were filed to place the minimum-wage increase on the November ballot.

Dr. Eric Brown, Pastor at Woodland Christian Church in Columbus, Ohio, derided the current minimum wage of $5.15, which has stayed at or below that rate for over ten years. He explained that a full-time, minimum-wage earner in Ohio makes $10,712 a year, which is nearly $3,000 below the federal poverty standards for a family of two. “Paying a hard-working, single mom nearly $3,000 less than the established mark of poverty is an injustice,” said Dr. Brown.

Other initiative supporters spoke from experience about the challenges faced by low-wage earners.

“Healthcare coverage is out of the question when you work for minimum wage,” said Shannon Spradlin. “My husband and I both work full time and we still can’t afford it. When we get sick, we have to make a hard choice between going to the hospital and getting help, or waiting it out and hoping it just goes away.”

Tim Burga of the Ohio AFL-CIO and Co-Chair of Ohioans for a Fair Minimum Wage said that over 700,000 signatures were filed at the Secretary of State’s office and that he fully expects this amendment to be on the ballot this fall. Burga went on to say that, “after ten long years of holding the minimum wage at $5.15 per hour, the need for this constitutional amendment has never been greater.”

The ballot initiative seeks to amend the Ohio Constitution to raise the minimum wage from $5.15 to $6.85 per hour, beginning in January, 2007. The wage will then adjust annually for inflation based on the Consumer Price Index.

“The time has come to take politics out of this issue and put the minimum wage into the Ohio Constitution. Doing so with annual adjustments for inflation will ensure that the minimum wage will always keep pace with the cost of living and prevent anyone from playing politics with this important issue ever again,” said Burga.

Ohioans for a Fair Minimum Wage
, a coalition of non-profit, community, faith-based, civil rights and labor organizations, is supporting this issue. The coalition, which is co-chaired by the Ohio AFL-CIO, Ohio State Senator CJ Prentiss, and ACORN Ohio, filed more than double the number of signatures required to place the issue on the ballot.

Looking ahead to the campaign, Burga said, “We must pass this minimum wage increase to help lift many hard-working Ohioans out of poverty—to help other low-wage workers and ensure that inflation never again erodes the value of their paychecks.”

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Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Interfaith Prayers for Peace in the Middle East

Suffering and Hope in Our World:
Interfaith Prayers for Peace in the Middle East

When: Thursday, August 3, 2006, 12 noon - 1 PM
Where: St. Thomas More Newman Center (near OSU campus), 64 W. Lane Ave., Columbus OH 43201. Phone: 291-4674, Ample free parking available in church parking lot

At a time when violence is raging in the Middle East, we will gather for a special "Suffering and Hope in Our World" worship service led by Rev. John Wagner. We will also lift our prayers of concern for those in Darfur, South Asia, and other parts of the world. All are invited to attend.

This special worship service is being held as a part of the national "Season of Prayer for Peace in the Middle East." More information on the national campaign can be accessed at

We gather together as communities of diverse faiths to:
- pray for peace
- promote peace, harmony, restraint, and interfaith understanding, and
- foster unity among people in Central Ohio and around the world.

Sponsored by
Faith Communities Uniting for Peace

Faith Communities Uniting for Peace is a gathering of people of faith, prompted by the war on Iraq, to find common ground, encouragement and wisdom for the transformation of the world. The organization affirms that "all faiths call followers to live and speak with peace, justice and compassion," and commits itself to putting our faith values into action.

Members of Faith Communities Uniting for Peace include persons affiliated with several faith groups (American Baptist, Baha'i, Buddhist, Church of the Brethren, Episcopal, Friends, Hindu, Islamic, Jewish, Lutheran, Mennonite, Presbyterian, Roman Catholic, Sikh, United Church of Christ, and United Methodist) as well as other people of conscience.

For more information and to join Faith Communities Uniting for Peace please contact:
Rev. Deanna Stickley-Miner, Co-convener, dstickley(at)
Dr. Tarunjit S. Butalia, Co-convener butalia.1(at)

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Saturday, July 29, 2006

Melvin Lipman, President of the American Humanist Association, in central Ohio today

Yesterday I saw this article in the Faith and Values section of the Columbus Dispatch...

Humanist leader to speak here

"We feel now more than ever there’s a need to assert ourselves to stop this creeping theocracy from taking place, to let the public know that religion has no monopoly on morality," the president of the American Humanist Association said.

Lipman, the 69-year-old leader of the country’s largest humanist group, will be in Columbus this weekend for several events, sponsored by the Humanist Community of Central Ohio.

Humanists are atheists, he said, but they feel a responsibility to lead ethical lives for the good of society.

While polls show that millions of Americans don’t believe in God, Lipman said public officials ignore them because they are afraid to speak out.

"When you speak to anybody, it’s politically incorrect to be anti-gay, it’s politically incorrect to be a racist. . . . But it’s perfectly OK to say, ‘I hate atheists,’ " he said.
I was able to attend and record the event, and I have started a transcript of it here.

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Tuesday, July 25, 2006

The Right’s Values Agenda

A press release by Bob Shemansky. The date on it is July 19, but I haven't opened my e-mail for a few days. It's been a crazy week. -Renee

While we balance on the brink of yet another conflict in the Middle East, the Bush Administration would rather talk about gay marriage. As oil prices skyrocket ever higher, the Republican Party wants to talk about flag burning. Instead of dealing with the increasingly deadly war in Iraq, the Republican Congress wants to take on the burning issue of how we say the pledge of allegiance.

Today President Bush vetoed a bill that would expand stem cell research. This will happen, despite calls for passage from Senators Bill Frist (R-TN) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT), two men who are hardly known for being “liberals” or, for that matter, even voices of moderation. One of the most honored and respected voices in the Republican Party, former First Lady Nancy Reagan, who watched her husband fall victim to the ravages of Alzheimer’s disease, this week issued a statement saying, "Time is short, and life is precious, and I hope this promising research can now move forward." But these pleas for reason have fallen on deaf ears. The President, for the first time in his 5 ½ years in office, has used his veto power not to stop runaway budget deficits or halt multi-billion dollar pork-barrel projects, but to stop a bill that would expand life saving research.

Later this week and into the fall, House Republicans will again debate a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. They will do so despite the fact that it has already failed in the Senate. So what is their rationale? According to Representative Phil Gringrey (R- GA), this bill ---and I’m not making this up --- “is perhaps the best message we can give to the Middle East and all the trouble they’re having over there right now.”

Think about that for a moment. The “best message” we can give to the Middle East is that the American Congress wants to bash homosexuals yet again, insert itself into the private lives of this nation’s citizens, and negate the authority states have historically had to regulate the institution of marriage. Yep, that will certainly defuse the crisis in Lebanon and hasten the end of the Iraqi civil war so we can finally bring our brave troops home.

In truth we all know what these hot button issues bills are about. They are not about doing anything constructive on the great issues of the day. They are about politics, pure and simple. The Gay Marriage Ban and bills like it are being trotted out because 2006 is an election year, and since Republicans can’t talk about anything on which they have been successful; since they can’t talk about how they’ve united us, they will talk about things designed to divide us even further.

Personally, I believe the voters are smarter than that. I think they’ll see through these smokescreens. And come election day ---in the immortal words of The Who ---I think the voters will make it clear that they “won’t be fooled again.”

Bob Shamansky is a lifelong Central Ohio resident, lawyer, and local businessman. He served as a Special Agent in the United States Army’s Counter Intelligence Corp during the Korean War, and as a Member of Congress representing Ohio's 12th Congressional District from 1981-1983. He is facing Rep. Patrick Tiberi (R-Genoa Twp.) as the Democratic nominee in the 12th Congressional District.

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Sunday, July 09, 2006

Religion and Science

I've been listening to another radio interview with Katharine Jefferts Schori, the Presiding Bishop Elect of the Episcopal Church. This one was on Oregon Public Broadcasting. Given that religion and science are supposedly at odds with each other in America today, I am of course fascinated to hear the perspective of a bishop who worked as a scientist at a university.

Christy George: You came to religion as a scientist--you came to your calling in the church as a scientist. What do you think are the underlying issues feeding things like the fight over evolution?

Katharine Jefferts Schori: I think part of it is a shift in cultural, moral views. Do we live in an Enlightenment world view, or do we live out of a postmodern understanding. Are we willing to live with a variety of faces of truth, or do we insist that there is only one possible understanding of truth and that any human being can possess that understanding.
More from that interview here.

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Friday, July 07, 2006

Politics: the "art of living together in community"

At work yesterday I was talking about the whole Episcopal/Anglican kerfuffle, and a couple of my coworkers found it amusing that the Anglican church, which is known for having split from the Catholic church in the first place over "issues of human sexuality" is supposedly heading for schism over such issues now. I need to read more about the cultural issues behind all of this so that I understand it better. But I agree with Katharine Jefferts Schori that we need to get back to the business of mission too...

As I've mentioned below, she recently did an interview with Diane Rehm on NPR, and I've transcribed some of it. In the most recent segment I've posted, Diane Rehm asked Katharine Jefferts Schori if she feels able to speak out on political issues, or if she is restrained in some way.

Katharine Jefferts Schori: I've made major statements about the Federal Budget the last time around, and on immigration issues. The church has a voice to contribute to the conversation, and I think it's essential that we do so. Obviously, if we're a nonprofit organization, we can't promote one particular candidate or one particular political initiative. But we have a responsibility as Christians to express our moral understanding of the implications of actions of Congress, and our government, and I think we need to do more of that work probably than less.
I think the work around Millennium Development Goals has been a politically motivated initiative in the large sense of what that word "politics" means. I understand it as the art of living together in community. We are called to transform the world around us as Christians, into something that looks more like the reign of God. And the last time I checked, I don't think the hungry are all being fed, I don't think the ill people are all being provided with healthcare. We have work to do.
More here.

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Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Katharine Jefferts Schori on the Diane Rehm Show

Presiding Bishop Elect Katharine Jefferts Schori did an interview on the Diane Rehm Show on NPR last week. I've transcribed some of it here.

It's a girl!

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Musings on the 4th of July

On my way home from the gym a few days ago, I noticed a new sign in front of a local church. You know--the kind of sign where someone can rearrange the letters for a new message each week. (Create your own here.) I'm invariably alone in the car on my way somewhere when I will see a new message that is just so dang outrageous that I have to talk back to it--out loud. Especially the ones that purport to be "quotes" from God, "You think it's hot here?" or "Don't make me come down there!"

*Down* here? You mean You're not *already* "down here"? What gives? I thought You were everywhere"!

But other signs just catch my attention, inspiring me to turn them over in my mind for a little while. And sometimes I turn them enough times that they end up meaning something entirely different from what the writer most likely intended.

Yesterday was one of those times. The sign I saw, just a few blocks from my house, said "America, you must be born again." Their 4th of July message, apparently. But here's where *my* mind went with that...

July 4 is traditionally thought of as our nation's birthday--the country having been "born" on that day back in 1776 with the signing of the Declaration of Independence. The current administration likes to use the holiday to reinforce sentiments like "support and thank our troops--by blindly supporting our agenda." But when you stop and think about the what a radical document the Declaration of Independence really was--and still is--you can't help but realize that its message is diametrically opposed to the "Shut up and wave your little flag" brand of patriotism.

So, thinking of it that way, comparing the America of 2006 with the ideals upon which this nation was founded, I find myself embracing the message, "America, you must be born again". I know--that's *not* the message the church people had in mind when they put up the sign. But that's what I got out of it. I couldn't help but smile to myself at the irony of that.

America, you must be born again. But, could we please do it without the bloody revolution? I've got kids to think about, you know. How about we just spend some time remembering our roots?

We made a flyer with quotes from our founding fathers (and mothers). Here are a few of them...

George Washington
If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.

Thomas Jefferson
War is an instrument entirely inefficient toward redressing wrong; and multiplies, instead of indemnifying losses.

James Madison
The means of defense against foreign danger historically have become the instruments of tyranny at home.

Benjamin Franklin
Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.

Click here to get your own printable flyer. If you don't have a color printer, it still works pretty well in black and white. Feel free to share it at any Independence Day festivities you attend today.

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Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Religious Left Blog

Quick note that I've got some posts at my Religious Left Blog that are related to General Convention, such as the beginning of a transcript of Claiming the Blessing's new video Voices of Witness.

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Sunday, June 25, 2006

The UN Millennium Campaign

One of the outcomes of the General Convention of the Episcopal Church this past week was that the convention affirmed the UN Millennium Development Goals. These goals have been championed by Episcopalians for Global Reconciliation, the group that hosted the U2Charist I attended last week . You can read Bishop Curry's sermon at that event here. Presiding Bishop Elect Katharine Jefferts Schori was on record as supporting these goals in her candidate interview...

The Presiding Bishop has an ability to call this whole church to claim the wonderful richnesses of God's creations, the gifts of all human beings, whatever color they are, whatever language they speak, whatever country they live in, to build that reign of God. The next Presiding Bishop has an ability to hold out the vision of the Millennium Development Goals as a concrete image of what Isaiah's dream looks like. What it means to feed people--to feed the one third of the world's population who don't have enough to eat every day, to insure that girls and boys around the world have access to education, that mothers have adequate prenatal health care so that healthy children are born, that there's clean water, that there is adequate sanitation, that there are structures put in place to promote ongoing productive development around the globe.

To be that kind of energy and engine in making those Millennium Development Goals come to reality. I think that's the centerpiece of what the next Presiding Bishop has to call us to.
These are the Millennium Development Goals

1. Eradicate extreme hunger and poverty.
2. Achieve universal primary education.
3. Promote gender equality and empower women.
4. Reduce child mortality.
5. Improve maternal health.
6. Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases.
7. Ensure environmental sustainability.
8. Develop a global partnership for development.

I've added a Millenium Developement Campaign banner to the sidebar here. They come with different celebrities on them--the one I chose has Jane Goodall. Click here to get a banner for your own web site or blog.

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Open letter from Bishop Gene Robinson

This morning I discovered, thanks to a comment from the moderator at An Inch at a Time, that there is a new post from Bishop Gene Robinson...
First, let’s give ourselves some time to recover. In the first few moments of having the breath knocked out of us, we struggle just to breathe, unable to think about much of anything other than getting some oxygen back into our lungs. We have been dealt a blow that has knocked the wind out of us. Let’s be kind to ourselves, breathe a little, before we try to move on. Nothing has to be decided or done in the next few hours or days. Let’s catch our breath, remembering that breath is a powerful image of the Holy Spirit in the Old and New Testaments. Let’s allow ourselves to be re-infused with that Holy Spirit which has never abandoned us, no matter what the Church does or doesn’t do.
Click here to read the whole letter.

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Saturday, June 24, 2006

June 24

On my children's birthdays I am, of course, reminded of the circumstances surrounding each of their births. Thirteen years ago at this time, I was in the process of checking into the hospital to have my first child.

The sequence went like this. My due date was still 3 weeks away, but I was having major contractions that kept me awake almost all night. I finally fell asleep at about 6 in the morning. At 8 in the morning, the phone rang. It was my mother-in-law, letting us know that she was about to ship the car seat, which was the "new baby" gift she'd told us she would be sending. At 8:30 my water broke.

In the narrative of Son in Ohio's birth, we would often note with humor how considerate he was to wait until his ride was ready, and to be born during "banker's hours", allowing his Daddy-to-be a full night's sleep before the Big Day. Even though he was early, he was officially "full term", and his time of arrival turned out to be quite convenient.

Thinking back on that story recently, I wryly observed to myself that there hasn't been much reason to use the word "considerate" or "convenient" when talking about my firstborn. Of course that is true of most children, but even greater degree when the child has Asperger's Syndrome. The effect our son's uniqueness has had on our lives and my spiritual development is a multi-faceted topic that I won't explore with you just now. One day, there may be a book. ;)

For now, I'll just say that it is one of several life experiences with which Godde has seen fit to bless me that has leads me to feel moved to compassion toward those who are marginalized. People who are in any way "on the outside looking in". People who others feel free to judge without any real knowledge of what "makes them tick", or any real interest in hearing them tell their stories. The ones people are always talking about, but rarely talking with.

Anyway, last night I was remarking to my husband that when I started out blogging about the General Convention, my motivation was to present a broader, richer picture, without the overemphasis on "controversial issues" that the mainstream press is known for. Yet here I am, very much focused on that very same thing, what I've heard people refer to as "issues of human sexuality". And what I realized something--actually it's something I realized a long time ago, but just hadn't articulated yet. I don't consider the question of who may be consecrated as a bishop or who may have their union blessed and celebrated in their local community of resurrection (church) to be "issues of human sexuality". For me, it's more about marginalization versus inclusion. And marginalization just plain sucks.

And as such, the Body of Christ should not be in the business of marginalizing anyone. Even when "everyone else is doing it", we need to be the voice of radical welcome. Because that's what Jesus was.

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Friday, June 23, 2006

A woman's place

Thank you, jc, for creating this bumper sticker I suggested earlier today.

Click here for a photo gallery of Katharine Jefferts Schori at General Convention.

And click here for all the recent news stories from the Episcopal News Service.

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Thursday, June 22, 2006

God's heart was the first to break

By the time I left for work this morning, most of the comments about the turn of events at the end of the General Convention had been "head" comments rather than "heart" comments. This morning I saw a comment in response to last night's post (at another blog) and it conveyed mixed feelings, but had a "maybe this is for the best" approach. Throughout the day today, I noticed that there was a fair amount of argument at Father Jake Stops the World and An Inch at a Time about whether or not the resolution calling upon...

Standing Committees and bishops with jurisdiction to exercise restraint by not consenting to the consecration of any candidate to the episcopate whose manner of life presents a challenge to the wider church and will lead to further strains on communion.

...was a good thing or a bad thing, and if it was reason to feel demoralized.

Okay, that pushes one of my major buttons. Of course there can be rational, logical arguments made both in favor of and against the resolution. But it raises my hackles when anyone tries to tell anyone else how they "should" feel about something. 'Cause I've had people do that to me, and a really don't like it.

And I know it can be done with the best of intentions. A person might be distressed by seeing another person in pain, and hope to alleviate that by offering another way to look at the situation (It's a blessing in disguise!) or by engaging in some problem solving. I understand that. But sometimes I just need to be able to speak my pain, or my frustration, and have it acknowledged. Words of commisseration/support can be nice too, but I understand how hard it can be to think of something to say. I've been struggling with that since I heard the news about the resolution.

This is the excerpt I read in the Dispatch, to which I referred in my post last night.

For Mike Wernick, president of the Episcopal gay advocacy group Integrity-Central Ohio, yesterday’s developments offer hope.

"And not just for gays or lesbians," he said. "It’s anyone who’s marginalized.

"In my opinion, when Jesus came, Jesus came to expand God’s circle. He came to make it so that there would be no one left on the outside."
That article, if you recall, was entitled Limits on gay bishops rejected.

Imagine having those feelings of hope, and then having them crushed again so quickly. I know Mike. He goes to my church. He and his partner have been members of the church longer than I have, and they are certainly more active members than I am. In their relationship with the church, I think it's safe to say that they both "give" more than they "take". So, in the face of that, to have your church pass a resolution that seems to treat you as something less than a fully included member of the Body of Christ, well--ouch! You know?

And again, I really don't want to get into the "rightness" or "wrongness" of the resolution, or what kind of sense it made strategically, or the importance of maintaining ties with the Anglican Communion. The truth is that real people have been hurt by the decision. I believe that they must be permitted to speak their pain, and we need to hear them.

To my gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered brothers and sisters in Christ, I *still* don't know what to say, except to tell you that I am grieving with you.

And even though there was no physical death, this is still a time of mourning for many people. So I am moved to post this link to the sermon William Sloane Coffin preached after his son died in a car accident. In it, he noted that the one thing *not* to say to a person who is grieving is, "It was God's will."

My own consolation lies in knowing that it was not the will of God that Alex die; that when the waves closed over the sinking car, God's heart was the first of all our hearts to break.

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Jefferts Schori's homily at the convention's closing Eucharist

Excerpted below, click this link for the rest.

If you and I are going to grow in all things into Christ, if we're going to grow up into the full stature of Christ, if we are going to become the blessed ones God called us to be while we were still in our mothers' wombs, our growing will need to be rooted in a soil of internal peace. We'll have to claim the confidence of souls planted in the overwhelming love of God, a love so abundant, so profligate, given with such unwillingness to count the cost, that we, too, are caught up into a similar abandonment.

That full measure of love, pressed down and overflowing, drives out our idolatrous self-interest. Because that is what fear really is -- it is a reaction, an often unconscious response to something we think is so essential that it takes the place of God. "Oh, that's mine and you can't take it, because I can't live without it" -- whether it's my bank account or theological framework or my sense of being in control. If you threaten my self-definition, I respond with fear. Unless, like Jesus, we can set aside those lesser goods, unless we can make "peace through the blood of the cross."

That bloody cross brings new life into this world. Colossians calls Jesus the firstborn of all creation, the firstborn from the dead. That sweaty, bloody, tear-stained labor of the cross bears new life. Our mother Jesus gives birth to a new creation -- and you and I are His children. If we're going to keep on growing into Christ-images for the world around us, we're going to have to give up fear.

What do the godly messengers say when they turn up in the Bible? "Fear not." "Don't be afraid." "God is with you." "You are God's beloved, and God is well-pleased with you."

When we know ourselves beloved of God, we can begin to respond in less fearful ways. When we know ourselves beloved, we can begin to recognize the beloved in a homeless man, or rhetorical opponent, or a child with AIDS. When we know ourselves beloved, we can even begin to see and reach beyond the defense of others.

Our invitation, both in the last work of this Convention, and as we go out into the world, is to lay down our fear and love the world. Lay down our sword and shield, and seek out the image of God's beloved in the people we find it hardest to love. Lay down our narrow self-interest, and heal the hurting and fill the hungry and set the prisoners free. Lay down our need for power and control, and bow to the image of God's beloved in the weakest, the poorest, and the most excluded.

We children can continue to squabble over the inheritance. Or we can claim our name and heritage as God's beloveds and share that name, beloved, with the whole world.

Alterate link for comments

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Today's turn of events

Today's Columbus Dispatch had an article entitled Limits on gay bishops rejected, but by this afternoon I found out, er, not so much.

The 75th General Convention June 21 approved a resolution that calls on bishops and Standing Committees to "exercise restraint by not consenting to the consecration of any candidate to the episcopate whose manner of life presents a challenge to the wider church and will lead to further strains on communion."

Click here to read the Statement of Conscience from bishops who "prayerfully dissent".

A lot of people must be feeling socked in the gut right about now. An Inch at a Time is the blog of Susan Russell, the President of Integrity. For anyone not familiar with that organization, it is "A witness of God's inclusive love to the Episcopal Church and the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community." Anyway, Susan's blog might be a good place to post words of support/commisseration, if you feel so inclined.

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Convention Update

From the daily e-mail from the Diocese of Southern Ohio...

Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold called for a special joint session meeting on Wednesday of the House of Bishops and the House of Deputies. The topic for the joint session is to determine the Episcopal Church’s response to the Windsor Report.

The call for a joint session followed after the House of Deputies on Tuesday voted down a resolution that would have put a moratorium on the election of gay bishops and the development of rites for same-sex blessings. Also on Tuesday, the House of Bishops extended debate for nearly two hours beyond its planned adjournment time. They discussed how to be open and honest with the feelings of members of the House while at the same time wanting to be responsive to the requests from the Anglican Communion.

Several bishops said they felt it was important to bring to their dioceses a statement on General Convention’s response to the Windsor Report and on how to relate with the Anglican Communion. The Joint Session is scheduled to follow the 9:30 a.m. Eucharist.

Wednesday is the last day of General Convention and the last meeting of the two houses until 2009. Both houses still have several pieces of legislation to consider, in addition to the Windsor Report responses.

Bishop Price asks your prayers for discernment and wisdom for the bishops and the deputies as the largest bicameral body in the world struggles to speak with one voice.

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Monday, June 19, 2006

Archbishop of Canterbury welcomes 26th Presiding Bishop

From the Episcopal News Service:

Archbishop of Canterbury welcomes 26th Presiding Bishop

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams issued a statement June 19 on the election of Katharine Jefferts Schori, Bishop of Nevada, as the next Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church. Jefferts Schori was elected June 18 to succeed current Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold.

Click here to read the rest, and for the picture of the *real* Rowan Williams. The picture you see above is the Rowan Bear, as featured in Gadgets for God on the Ship of Fools web site.

You know how you can get a song in your head, and there's nothing else for it but to play it a few times, and sing along? Well, I wasn't going to be able to get that Rowan Bear image out of my head--I kept thinking of it every time I saw a picture of the real Rowan Williams--until I finally posted the picture.

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Regrets and Bishops

Father Jake has a post up about the major resolutions people have been watching

This afternoon two Windsor resolutions were considered by the deputies; A160 (expression of regret) and A161 (election of bishops).

Click for the details.

UPDATE: Susan Russell's thoughts on the resolutions can be found here
Resolution Interruptus

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Gene Robinson's 6/16 Sermon, full text

To make it easier to print, I've combined the transcript of Gene Robinson's sermon at the Integrity Eucharist into one file here.

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From Susan Russell, President of Integrity

Ever since I heard the news that the Episcopal Church had elected its first female Presiding Bishop, I have been checking Susan Russell's blog, An Inch at a Time, to see if she had posted about it yet. This morning, checking blogs one last time before leaving for work, I found this:

What a wild, amazing, Spirit-filled, historic day behind us -- may God give us grace for the wild, amazing, Spirit-filled journey ahead of us!

I am still fairly stunned by the rapidly accelerating sequence of events that left us at the end of the day with the historic choice of the first woman primate in the Anglican Communion as the Rt. Reverend Katherine Jefferts Schori (Bishop of Nevada) was elected (on the fifth ballot) the 26th Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church.
And I can't think of a better Father's Day gift to the Anglican Communion than its first woman primate.

Read the rest here.

Also, I loved this comment by Lisa at Father Jake Stops the World, and just had to include it here.

[What's the HTML code for bowing lowly & reverently?] OH WOW, Joe! That must have been awesome! I can't recall which of the Ten Commandments I'm breaking, but I'm certainly envious of you, being there on the floor when this happened.

And now ... I'm just (not-so-patiently) waiting for Padre Jake to get some shut-eye and for him to give us his own first-person account of the events of this Most Amazing Day. ;) [Sounds of "Hail Thee Festival Day" rise in background.]

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Message from Bishop Price

Bishop Price was at the evensong service at First Congregational Church last night, and he made the announcement that Katharine Jefferts Schori had been elected the next Presiding Bishop. We applauded. Here's the message that came in my e-mail this morning...

Brothers and Sisters

Today I want to share my thoughts on the historical actions taken by our church this Sunday. After celebrating Eucharist together in the Convention Center, the bishops were bussed to Trinity Church for the election of the 26th Presiding Bishop. As Secretary, it was my job to dispense and certify the ballots. Also, as a member of the nominating committee, I had a vested interest in many of the nominees. As we gathered in the beautifully redecorated Trinity Church, we were surrounded on three sides by a time line recounting the thirty years since women were first ordained. Rector Dick Burnett presented every bishop with a history book of Trinity titled "Be it Remembered." Most bishops put that aside and we got about the process of voting for our next Presiding Bishop. The first three ballots were all across the board, reflecting the high quality of all three nominees. We then broke for lunch. Afterwards, two more ballots were taken and on the fifth Katharine Jefferts Schori attained the needed majority.

Katharine is a suburb choice. She is a brilliant individual who is articulate, faithful with an obvious spiritual dimension. She will make a excellent Presiding Bishop. A few bishops were unhappy with her choice, but the atmosphere among the bishops after her election was overwhelimingly positive. It may be a hard road ahead for our new Presiding Bishop in some corners of our Anglican Commuion, but I believe she is up for that and will represent our church admirably. ENS reports initial reactions and guardedly positive.

All of our women bishops were present, and given the historic nature of this action, the book given us about Trinity Church titled "Be it Remembered" suddenly took on new dimensions. For all the things Trinity is remembered for, here was one more milestone in the rich history of the Episcopal Church. Many of us had all the women present sign that book as a memento of that occasion. In closing, I wish to congratulate our new Presiding Bishop. I believe we elected her not because just she is a woman, but because she is highly qualified woman. Yes, it is true that her election communicates the inclusive nature of the Episcopal Church, but the main reason we elected her is that we bishops truly believe that this bishop will lead us well and represent us on the world scene well. I am proud to have been the certifier of her election, and am looking forward to serving with her as I have with Bishop Griswold. But most of all, today, I am very proud to be an Episcopalian. I believe our church has made a wise and significant choice. Please keep our Presiding Bishop-elect in your prayers.


Bishop Ken Price
Episcopal Diocese of Southern Ohio

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Sunday, June 18, 2006

Katharine Jefferts Schori elected first female presiding bishop

Here's the Yahoo News article: Episcopalians elect first female leader

This page of the Episcopal News Service has videos with interview excerpts of the seven nominees who were considered. Below you can find the transcript of Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori's remarks.

"My journey as a person of faith, trained as a scientist, began in some struggle over how to understand the two of them together. One of the pieces that has been most important for me, or that was important in beginning to reconcile the two came in reading some of the scientists who talked about mystery--Heisenberg and Einstein and Bohr. Suddenly I began to recognize that people who'd been trained as I had, also *delighted* almost, in the rich, mysteriousness of all of creation. We don't know all of the answers as people of faith or as scientists. We *don't* know all the answers. They are both ways of looking at the wonder of creation. One of my favorite prayers comes after baptism, when we pray that the newly baptized will have "the gift of joy and wonder in all God's works". They're wondering in wondrous ways of looking at the environment in which we are set as human beings.
The most important priorities for the next Presiding Bishop have to do with calling us back to the center point of our mission. God calls us to build a community that looks more like the city of Shalom--the city built on a hill. The reign of God. I look around--I don't see that in very many places. I see signs of hope, I see glimpses of it, but clearly we've got work to do.

The conversation around the Communion is so focused now, at least at the highest levels on issues of human sexuality that we are ignoring our brothers and sisters around the world who are dying of hunger, who are dying because there are no vaccines for their children, who are dying because there are inadequate stocks of AIDS drugs. Those ought to be our priorities, not bickering about matters of doctrine.

The Presiding Bishop has an ability to call this whole church to claim the wonderful richnesses of God's creations, the gifts of all human beings, whatever color they are, whatever language they speak, whatever country they live in, to build that reign of God. The next Presiding Bishop has an ability to hold out the vision of the Millennium Development Goals as a concrete image of what Isaiah's dream looks like. What it means to feed people--to feed the one third of the world's population who don't have enough to eat every day, to insure that girls and boys around the world have access to education, that mothers have adequate prenatal health care so that healthy children are born, that there's clean water, that there is adequate sanitation, that there are structures put in place to promote ongoing productive development around the globe.

To be that kind of energy and engine in making those Millennium Development Goals come to reality. I think that's the centerpiece of what the next Presiding Bishop has to call us to.

The last General Convention was for me, and for many of my brothers and sisters in the House of Bishops, I think the culmination of years of thought and prayer and study. I've been wrestling with the issue of homosexuality and what it means for twenty years...twenty-five years. As a scientist, I look at creation, I see the diversity of God's creation, and, not just in the human order, but in the rest of creation, begin to see a variety. God created in Genesis and God spoke goodness.

When the people of New Hampshire elected Gene Robinson to be their bishop, they discerned gifts in that man, in that priest, in that person they had known for better than twenty years--they discerned gifts that fit what they believed the Diocese of New Hampshire needed.

When we came to General Convention last summer, clearly we were going to be faced with a challenging decision. My recollection of that afternoon when we sat in the House of Bishops to vote to consent to Gene Robinson's election was of a--I have two vivid memories. One of recalling the place in the Gospels where Jesus encounters the woman taken in adultury, and he leans down and writes in the sand, and then he says, "Go, and sin no more." What did he write in the sand? All of us would like to know!

The other memory I have is of feeling absolutely crucified in having to come to a place of making a decision like this, because I can see good on both sides. I see good gifts in Gene Robinson, I see good gifts in the calling of him to be the Bishop of New Hampshire, and I see a wonderfully blessed ministry there.

On the other hand, I see the pain that this has caused around this church and around the Communion, because people don't understand how this piece could come to be. I think we made the right decision, I think we have lots more work to do, I think we have lots more consultation and bridge-building to do with our brothers and sisters around the globe."
I find my spiritual center in this time, as in all times, in two places. One, from the Psalms, where it talks about "in rest and refreshment we shall be saved". Taking Sabbath, knowing time of stillness, is absolutely essential to my health. The other piece comes from Isaiah, and several places in Isaiah, where he sets out a vision of what the ideal of creation is. One that's often heard at funerals, where he talks about the banquet, the festal banquet set on the side of a mountain. Of rich foods, of well-aged wines, strained clear, that are meant for everyone. And the other piece where he sets out a vision of what the city of Shalom looks like, where the hungry are fed, the blind have their sight restored, the prisoners are released, good news is preached to the poor. Our call is to participate in those realities, and to make them realities for the whole world."

Here's what Father Jake had to say on his blog:

A couple of initial thoughts: Bishop Jefferts Schori was trained as a scientist. She is the only one that I can recall that emphasized the Millennium Development Goals in the interviews. She was also the only bishop who testified at the hearings regarding the MDG. As these goals appear to be emerging as the future vision of the Episcopal Church, she is the right person at the right time.

Absolutely no one I talked to before the election had predicted this. What a wonderful surprise. The Deputies are absolutely elated. Eveything happening here is begininng to stream together.

The Spirit is moving among us. God is doing a new thing in Columbus.

I need to go offer a prayer of thanksgiving.

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