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Archive for September, 2007

Five Questions from Avanoo

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1. Who is your best friend and why?
2. What is the best piece of advice you have been given?
3. Why do you write?
4. Are you married – single – divorced – coupled?
5. If you could share something, a particular piece of advice with someone what would that advice be?

Avanoo  


Frozen – Remixed



The Power of Goodbye


Visions of Maplewood Center

He got up early as was his custom, the air outside was cold, dew was still on the grass, the sun just making its way into the sky. With his ablutions finished he dressed for the cool morning and clicked the garage door that went up clunkyly and noisy. With one solid push the bike stirred forward.

He had three routes he could have taken. The central route which, at certain times united him with other students riding to school, the Northern route which followed a main artery Eastwards or the Southern route, which was much quieter and he could ride by himself and not be bothered to entertain others on the way to school.

Approaching Maplewood Center the building stood as a sentinel in the small neighborhood. He could see the mist still hanging over the field in the rear of the building. He locked his bike up and made his way to the entrance door that was manned by his favorite teacher, Mrs. Slevin. She was his English literature teacher, from the UK she was a true master of her art.

He had, in his pocket, a pass and a key! Those were his charms to get past the gatekeeper of Maplewood Center. Jerome had negotiated his way into school society by applying his abilities in the science department. And now, before any one had set foot in the school, he would find himself alone in this great big building, to set up the science department.

The gate keeper was wary of allowing him past her, though with a signed declaration of a rite of passage, she could not deny him entry into the world that awaited him. Through dark halls he made his way to room S-101, the science department teachers lounge.

It was his job to get papers graded in time for the start of class. He made coffee for the teachers, whom would be arriving shortly. He prepped biology labs and made copies of handouts on the old copy machine that used ink and rollers.

After getting the lounge set, Jerome made his way to the cafeteria because they served breakfast and he was the first one to eat each morning. He knew that one of his mentors would like food, as she always asked him to get her some, so expecting a request he took a tray upstairs with assorted goodies and cereals.

It was something to him to feel needed and appreciated. He gave himself to these adults, offering himself up to be adored. These relationships were tantamount to his growth as a young person. What he lacked at home was given freely and without question, here at school. His position in the science department would guarantee him an award never bestowed on another student in the schools history upon graduation. But he would not know this for some years.

One by one they came to the lounge, in various states of disarray, wakefulness and dress. Jerome knew their needs before they had to voice them, so all that was said was “thank you.” Day after day, week after week, month after month, Jerome made his way to Maplewood Center each morning. He had become the caretaker to the department.

The role of caretaker was something that Jerome would be forced into soon enough, yet that term would remain unidentified to him for many a year. With the state of affairs at home he had learned how to take care of adults while he remained a young boy. Living like an adult was normal for him. Making adult decisions came naturally.

Addiction and alcoholism were issues that he had to contend with at home, and in his second year at Maplewood, he would face his biggest challenge, family tragedy. Because Jerome held such a position at the school, everyone knew what had happened to him and to his family. When Jerome was taken from them for such a long period of time, they made sure he would not fall behind in his studies. It was as if the school was an extension of parental supervision.

He came home from school that day and the suitcases were in the living room, and one in his bedroom. “Pack” his mother told him, “you’re going to your grandparents tonight, there is no time to waste, gather your books and your games, your father will be home soon and you have an evening flight to catch.”

He was informed and prepared, but nothing would prepare him for what he would eventually see upon his arrival. Fainting at the sight, he fell to the floor, his head hitting the cold cement floor it was just too much for him to bear. The matriarch of the family had been taken from him, a disaster that would take Jerome on an odyssey of self awakening for the rest of his life, loosing crucial people in his life would be a common theme. This was ammunition for his father, used against Jerome to break his spirit and beat him into submission.

Jerome stood like a warrior against all that would befall him. Whatever evil was unleashed upon him, he always had sentinels to guide him, adults to love him, a God to forgive him and a religion that would teach him good from bad, right from wrong.

Maplewood Center would be his fortress and protection through the worst of times at home. He gave of himself every day. He studied, and served without question. He played sports as if they were salvation attaining. He hardened himself against the tide, and he survived. Although what did a boy know about survival?

Jerome had been given a gift by the matriarchs of the family. Gifts that he would have to realize would serve him well throughout his life, not only as a young boy. It is hard to maintain visions for an entire life when people are taken from you so early in life. but those early memories were all he had to hold onto. Jerome would see the value of the many lessons he was taught as a young child. For a few short years in his memory he was loved without abandon, he was protected from the evil in his family, he was shielded from the monster of addiction, though it was present every day of his life. As long as there were those he was protected by, he did not feel the wrath of evil upon himself.

This morning ritual was performed day after day. Funny, responsibility. Jerome knew what that was in the sense of being responsible for others, but that was one of the toughest lessons Jerome would learn – to be responsible for himself later in his life.

At school, Jerome was safe. He never spoke of his home to those at school, but by his actions, he spoke volumes. A child that is so thirsty for guidance and willing to do anything that was asked of him without question told them that “something must be wrong.” He was never abused at school, at home that was a very different story, many of the mentors in the department became mentors outside of school for him.

He mowed their lawns, washed their cars, did errands and took care of homes whilst they went on vacations. So Jerome had much to do on summer vacations, they kept him very busy and away from the evil presence in his life.

So it went year after year. Maplewood Center would be the most important time in his young life. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. But Jerome survived and thrived. In the end they gave him the highest award for his service to the school, the American Legion Service Award given to him by the faculty of the school, it was one of the proudest days of his young life.


Substitute for Love …

Madonna – Drowned World (Confessions Tour)


Maplewood Center …

They’d driven past the school several times since moving into the neighborhood. First to figure out the distance from home, and secondly to plot a route to travel because Jerome would be biking to school now. No more early morning wake up calls, no school bus. He would now be responsible for getting himself into school on time.

Maplewood Center for the Arts. It was a new school, only been open a year and tomorrow would be the first day of school. That morning he rose from bed and readied himself for the fifteen minute bike ride to campus. He locked his bike in the yard and approached the front doors.

Welcome signs were all over the place. Direction arrows and special color coded lockers were on the first floor, along with administrations, shop, the locker room and the cafeteria and assembly hall. This was the big time. The sensation of being in a new school with a new system of six class sessions was new to him. How would he manage, who would be his friends?

Making their way to home room, the cacophony of sounds was like the buzzing of flies in his ears. up the broad staircases to the second floor, home room was in the English department. He would find that the school was sectioned in study subjects. English, Mathematics, Sciences, Library Services, Music and Band and finally Social Studies.

It would be a fine dance of movement and time, getting from class to class and get down to his locker to change out books and get to class on time. It’s a good thing that Jerome had several days of orientation in Maplewood so that he could get accustomed to the new schedule.

As the day progressed he felt better and better about where he was. He wasn’t the only one trying to find their way through the maze of middle school. Science would be first period, followed by English, Mathematics and Home Economics. Ah the best time of day, “lunch.” Jerome was fixated on where he would sit and who would talk to him, it was a big room with fold out tables and stools. Some kids were just plain mean.

After lunch the back court was open so he could stretch his legs and get some air from outside, since the building was a closed system. There were no windows in the building save for small staircase windows on each of the four corners of the building.  P.E. was next for him. Jerome new of phys ed. from his elementary school days, playing in street clothes getting dirty and washing up in the restroom. P.E. today would mean uniforms, and cleats and “changing” in front of other boys.

Walking into the boys locker room, the first thing that hit him was the smell of sweat, grass and dirt. Varsity and mainline P.E. classes shared the same locker room. They were all introduced to the gym teachers and were given numbers to the lockers assigned randomly. Jerome would find that his locker mates would become fast friends.  Struggling with the lock in his hands he had to figure out the combination and get up to his locker which was on the top most level of a six level locker grid. “You have a locker for your gym clothes and shoes, and a large locker next door for your change out.” They were all listening attentively. “You’ve got ten minutes to change out and get outside to the basketball courts.”

PE. was an experience from hell for Jerome. And it was going to get worse as the end of class drew near. Sweaty and dirty from playing on the courts kids were showering after class, “Showering” he thought to himself. Did I have to shower in that big room as well? He wrestled with this though for many days as it would happen. The only persons who had ever seen him naked were his parents. Now he would have to shower with other kids like him, probably thinking the same thing. Alas, for the most part those who were in the showers were not so transfixed with each others bodies as they were with getting in and out of the shower with time to spare before the next bell rang.

The first week passed by and Jerome was settled into a system of alarms, bells and whistles. Eventually the day came when he would take his first step into a gym shower with the other boys. Fighting against fear and ridicule, gym would become a feast for the eyes, a smörgåsbord of smells and a dance with make sexuality.

“Sexuality” what was that? Jerome knew the first day he set foot in the locker room that he was different. Something inside was just not right for him. He just knew it. But at that time, he couldn’t quite put his finger on what “it” was. He was drawn to certain boys, he hunted the locker room for like minded, or so he thought, like minded boys like him. He was a young sportsman, soccer, wrestling and swimming were his chosen intra murals.

These sports would unite a team spirit in gym for many of his team mates just happen to be in the same scheduled period. This would soften the anxiety he was feeling about himself and his body. It would be years before he figured out what set him apart from the others.

After P.E. was  keyboard. His favorite period of the day. Music was his first passion. Jerome, like his aunt Marge played piano by ear, no less. It was a gift that he would take all the way it would go in the educational system. Sitting in the back of the piano lab, sat another young boy named Gordy. Gordy would eventually become Jerome’s best friend as the years would pass by.

At the last bell, the great rush downstairs would occur every day, as the majority of classes were upstairs in the building. Jerome would make his way to his locker and stuff it with everything that he did not need and make his way home on his bike.  It was the best time in Jerome’s young life.


RUN

run

My friend has two incredible blogs, Here and Here, go check them out, and enjoy the time lapse video, from Jeff in Dubai.

we started from al barsha (near mall of the emirates) and went to bur dubai via sheikh zayed road and back to jebel ali gardens (also thru sheikh zayed road). it took us almost an hour drive with 300+ shots (with flashes), 10-sec intervals for each shot and three sets of drained batteries. it was controlled by nikon capture from lillian (my laptop) and connected via usb and mounted on a tripod.


Not a Word

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Found on: Meditations on Meaning

I really liked this entry today… 

Earlier today, he visited an art fair just down the street from his motel. Some of the art was good. Perhaps he would have thought about buying it. But none of the artists talked to him. Not one! Instead, they sat on lawn chairs, made dour faces, and watched to make sure he didn’t break or steal anything.

After the art fair, he watched a local band play at a nearby bar. Though the patrons seemed to enjoy the music and whatever friends they came with, they stood in circles. Or looked at the floor or the ceiling. And didn’t notice him standing at the back of the room, alone, with a beer.

After the bar, he walked down a busy street. He’d learned to look at the ground while walking down busy streets. But tonight, he looked straight ahead. And he watched the pedestrians avert his eyes. It was a common courtesy in New England, he knew, but it still felt so “alien”.

He walked by a coffee shop. It was funky and charming and still open. So he walked inside. And ordered a chamomile tea. And sat down in the chair next to me. And looked at me.

I put down my book and looked at him. “I want a friend,” he said. Boldly. Firmly. Without hesitation.

And as if in answer, his phone rang. He looked at the number and smiled. “A friend,” he said. And he looked upwards, wondering, perhaps, if the heavens were listening in.

The friend’s name was Julia. She talked loudly. About how crazy things had been in her life. Something about school. Something about work. Something about boys. Something about…

In the middle of her monologue, he turned the phone off. “Remind me to tell her, tomorrow, that the cell phone coverage is flaky here. Or perhaps my battery just died.”

Then he told me about the art fair and the bar and the busy street and the friend who – he now realized – wasn’t really a friend. And I listened. As if I’d met him before. As if we were friends.

“I’m sure there are good people out there. People whose friendship isn’t borne out of innate self-interest, but rather, simply, love. But how will I find them? I must have passed a thousand people on the street today and not one of them actually saw me. You’re the first person I felt I could talk to.”

I smiled. But didn’t know what to say. This was more his conversation than mine. We were silent for awhile. Then he noticed the silence. And it was painful for him.

“I’m so sorry,” he said. “I can’t believe that I didn’t notice. You haven’t said a word to me. Not a word!”

And I told him that he shouldn’t be sorry. That I empathized with everything he’d said. And that I’d felt as if I myself was saying it.


Anglican Bishops Take First Steps to New Structure

 

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From: The Anglican Communion Network

COMMON CAUSE PARTNERSHIP SEPTEMBER 28, 2007 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Anglican bishops from ten jurisdictions and organizations pledged to take the first steps toward a “new ecclesiastical structure” in North America. The meeting of the first ever Common Cause Council of Bishops was held in Pittsburgh September 25–28.

The bishops present lead more than 600 Anglican congregations. They formally organized themselves as a college of bishops which will meet every six months. They also laid out a timeline for the path ahead, committed to working together at local and regional levels, agreed to deploy clergy interchangeably and announced their intention to, in consultation “with those Primates and Provinces of the Anglican Communion offering recognition under the timeline adopted,” call a “founding constitutional convention for an Anglican union,” at the earliest possible date agreeable to all of the partners.

“We met deeply aware that we have arrived at a critical moment in the history of mainstream Anglican witness in North America. God has led us to repentance for past divisions and opened the way for a united path forward. To him be the glory,” said Bishop Robert Duncan, convener of the council.

The full text of the bishops’ joint statement follows:

Common Cause College of Bishops Statement

In the Name of God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit, to whom belong all might, majesty, dominion and glory.

We, the College of Bishops of the Common Cause Partnership, meeting together in Pittsburgh, September 25–28 in the Year of our Lord 2007, solemnly affirm this agreement.

In the grace, mercy and power of God, and in repentance for past disunity and disharmony, in thanksgiving for our full reconciliation in the Lord Jesus Christ, to give expression to our unity in the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church as Anglicans in North America, and for the sake of our mission to extend the Kingdom of God, nurture faithful disciples through Word and Sacraments, seek the lost, and partner globally with other orthodox Anglicans, we hereby commit to do the following:

  1. In order to achieve greater unity and strengthen our partnership in the Gospel, we the undersigned commit ourselves to the Common Cause Partnership as set forth in the Articles of the Partnership (see Appendix 1).
  2. We declare clearly that we are taking this as a first step in the formation of the “separate ecclesiastical structure” in North America called for at Kigali in September, 2006.
  3. In consultation with those Primates and Provinces of the Anglican Communion offering recognition under the timeline adopted, we intend a founding constitutional convention for an Anglican union (see Appendix 2).
  4. Those presently-participating bodies which have not yet joined the Common Cause Partnership will decide at the next meeting of their legislative bodies, either to enter the Partnership or leave full membership in Common Cause, becoming observer bodies. It is expected that all presently-participating bodies will be able to enter the Partnership.
  5. We will work together on the regional and local levels and avail ourselves of the various ministries of the Common Cause Partners. We will deploy clergy interchangeably as outlined in the Articles of the Partnership. We are free to invite our fellow bishops in this College to share episcopal acts and our sacramental life.
  6. The College of Bishops will meet every six months in order to accomplish our stated objectives. The leading bishop of each Partner will serve on a Lead Bishops Roundtable, which may be expanded as they may determine. The Roundtable will advise us in matters referred to it (see Appendix 3).
  7. We are committed to the Great Commission. We will make disciples who make disciples and plant churches that plant churches, not resting until the millions of unreached souls in North America are brought to Christ, until all groups on the earth have indigenous churches firmly begun within them and our Lord returns in glory.
  8. We ask our Chairman to inform the Primates of the Anglican Communion of these commitments in the hope that our emerging common life will commend us to them as full partners.

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From: Father Jake Stops the World

It appears that the final scene of the attempted coup by the ultra-conservatives has finally commenced. From the Network:

…In order to achieve greater unity and strengthen our partnership in the Gospel, we the undersigned commit ourselves to the Common Cause Partnership as set forth in the Articles of the Partnership (see Appendix 1).

We declare clearly that we are taking this as a first step in the formation of the “separate ecclesiastical structure” in North America called for at Kigali in September, 2006…

This group of “disaffected, breakaway bishops” includes members from the American Anglican Council, Anglican Coalition in Canada, Anglican Communion Network, Anglican Essentials Canada, Anglican Mission in America, Anglican Network in Canada, Anglican Province of America, Convocation for Anglicans in North America, Forward in Faith North America and the Reformed Episcopal Church.

Of particular interest is that I would imagine that this “declaration” was also signed by at least four bishops who are still members of the Episcopal Church; Bps. Iker of Fort Worth, Duncan of Pittsburgh, Schofield of San Joaquin and Ackerman of Quincy. This is sheer speculation on my part at this point, as, once again, the document was released without signatures. Such a curious custom among this group. If these bishops have declared that they are working toward the “formation of the ‘separate ecclesiastical structure’ in North America,” they need to be held accountable for such an action. One wonders how much more these bishops need to do before they are judged to have abandoned the Episcopal Church.

Such a judgment needs to be made. Most likely, these four bishops will claim that their dioceses can simply transfer over to this new entity. As has been explained to them many times, that’s not how it works. But, they will most likely try anyway. Which means that the faithful Episcopalians within those dioceses need to be making some plans, if they have not already. It would seem to me that they need to be contacting the Episcopal Church Center, and find out how they go about electing a Standing Committee to be their ecclesiastical authority until such time as an interim bishop is appointed.

The court cases over property will be a mess, although this development will not significantly change anything. In order to be recognized as a “replacement” or an “alternative” to the Episcopal Church, this new “ecclesiastical structure” will have to seek approval from two thirds of the Primates and the Anglican Consultative Council to have their name added to the list of churches recognized as members of the Anglican Communion. Even if somehow this new structure was to get the necessary approvals, the process will most likely take a few years. Until that happens, it is doubtful if a case can be made for the existence of a “denominational split.”

I can’t imagine that they will gain such approvals from the Primates, let alone the ACC. This collage of organizations include some that have been declared “not in Communion” for some time. To simply graft them in without serious study of the theological difference that divide them from the larger Communion would seem to be foolhardy. Beyond that, if the Primates allow this splinter group full membership, they will have also given permission for similar groups to form in their own backyards. That should be enough to give most of the Primates reason to have serious reservations about this new structure.

Now, indulge me as I reflect a bit on my “glass is half full” perspective, which I know some of you find quite frustrating. When I’m done, you will have the opportunity to offer the other perspective to your heart’s content.

I don’t necessarily think it is such a bad thing for these folks to form their own church. In the end, it wouldn’t be much different from the Missouri Synod Lutherans. There’s really not much left to discuss. And one way or another, we need to get past this constant bickering and move on. There’s many more mission imperatives that we need to be addressing. Such a division will be tinged with sadness. Some of my friends will be leaving TEC as a result, and that hurts. But I really think it is time to let them go.

Regarding the legal matters and property issues; the leadership of TEC has a fiscal and moral responsibility to not allow our assets to be taken by illegal and immoral means. That’s not going to change. But let the leaders and lawyers work that out.

Our focus needs to be those who will remain faithful to TEC but reside within areas where they are a minority. They are going to need our support as they enter uncharted territory.

I hope that some of these congregations will see this as the beginning of an exciting adventure. Imagine going from 60 congregations to 10 overnight. The new leaders, elected from among the faithful remnant, will have to gather together and ask themselves “What do we do now?” And that will be the moment when new possibilities, fresh dreams, and powerful visions will be glimpsed. There will be churches to plant, maybe in innovative ways never imagined before. There will be structures to put in place, and maybe it will be a more shared leadership that in their previous experiences they could have never thought possible. Means to connect pockets of the faithful that are scattered over remote areas will have to be discovered. Maybe a circuit rider on a Harley? I love it.

Our God declares “Behold, I make all things new!” Our Church is being renewed before our eyes. Sometimes such a shift feels painful. Sometimes it can bring us to the point despair. Well, life is painful. And we all sometimes despair over change. But, what an exciting adventure!

Ok. I’ll set the glass down now. Your turn.

*****************************

Breakaway Episcopalians Unite
by The Associated Press

Posted: September 28,  2007

(Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) A leading Episcopal conservative announced plans for a partnership Friday that aims to create an alternative to the “liberal-leaning” Episcopal Church.

Bishop Robert Duncan of Pittsburgh, whose diocese is considering breaking away from the national denomination, said the group will be called the Common Cause Partnership.

The founders are a mix of groups with varying ties to the Episcopal Church and the world Anglican Communion. Among the members will be Episcopal dioceses and parishes that have broken away or plan to split from the national church, congregations that have never been part of the Episcopal Church and fellowships that are considered schismatic by the Anglican Communion.

Duncan said that forming a separate North American church structure for conservatives is “necessary because of the drift of the church in the West.”

“We’re in a time of reformation,” Duncan said.

The partnership will include the Convocation of Anglicans in North America, a network of Episcopal parishes that have split from the U.S. denomination and have aligned with Anglican Archbishop Peter Akinola of Nigeria, an outspoken critic of Episcopal acceptance of gay relationships.

The Episcopal Church, the Anglican body in the U.S., caused an uproar in the worldwide Anglican family in 2003 by consecrating the first openly gay Episcopal bishop, V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire. The 77 million-member Anglican Communion is a fellowship of churches that trace their roots to the Church of England.

Ever since Robinson’s election, theological conservatives in the U.S. have been trying to stay together, so they can create an alternative Anglican province in the United States. But they have often moved in many different directions, including individuals leaving on their own to join other denominations.

In a sign of these differences, some traditionalist Episcopal groups were not part of the founding meeting, held this week in Pittsburgh. Duncan said he hopes they will eventually join.

According to the Episcopal Church, about 66 of its more than 7,000 parishes have either left or voted to leave the national church, or have lost a significant number of members and clergy.

Duncan said that 51 Anglican bishops, saying they represent 600 congregations, attended the four-day meeting here where the partnership was planned.

Anglican conservatives and liberals are deeply conflicted over how Scripture should be interpreted on a wide range of issues, including salvation, truth and homosexuality.

Anglican leaders had set a Sunday deadline for the Episcopal Church to pledge unequivocally not to consecrate another gay bishop or approve an official prayer service for same-sex couples.

On Tuesday, U.S. bishops affirmed they would “exercise restraint” by not consenting to a candidate for bishop “whose manner of life presents a challenge” to Anglicans and the church.

The promise, however, is not an outright ban and has been rejected as inadequate by some conservatives. The Episcopal leaders also promised they would not approve official prayers to bless same-gender couples.

The Rev. Jan Nunley, a spokeswoman for the Episcopal Church, noted that conservatives have tried before to unite around their opposition to decisions by the national church. But many have remained low-profile splinter groups.

Members of the Common Cause Partnership acknowledge they must work out theological differences over whether they should ordain women, and over spiritual and moral standards for ordained and lay leaders, among other issues.

The Common Cause bishops plan to meet every six months, provided their individual territories vote to join the partnership. The partnership plans to hold its first constitutional convention late next year and seek recognition from the Anglican world spiritual leader, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams.

©365Gay.com 2007


Living with Other People

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Moral Foundations and Moral Persons

Moral knowledge is one thing; moral action is another. When we act on our knowledge, we verify and correct our knowledge, and we form ourselves as moral persons. We might systematize the results of this process into a logically coherent theory, but the foundation of the process is not the logic of the system, it is the people performing the operations of insight, judgment, and decision at each step along the way.

The foundations of moral insights and judgments are persons.

Moral foundations, then, are the characteristics and features of moral persons which are implicated in any concrete task of authentic moral knowing and doing. In our business and professional lives, we frequently find ourselves struggling to decide between the easy road of mediocrity and the difficult road of integrity. In all these cases, what is being tested is our moral foundations, whi we are and what we have become as moral persons.

What is distinctive about social forces is the way in which other people’s operations of knowing and acting come into the orbit of our own knowing and doing and to shape our sense of identity, our image of ourselves as persons. Because we are creatures of meaning, our capacities for action are formed in large measure by the ideas we have about ourselves, and it is these ideas that are most powerfully communicated in social interaction.

In interacting with others, we encounter a curious and powerful force which can go to the root of our senses of who we are and what we are about. This is the force of role-taking.

Role-taking with others can be nurtured or it can be refused; it can give rise to shared meaning or it can be challenged in conflict; it can be the means for mutual learning and mentorship, or for duplicity and exploitation. What is significant for our own purposes is that this socialization scheme transforms the self constituting thrust of moral action into a mutual or reciprocal constituting among people in communities and societies.

“Freedom”

If asked what what is foundational in ethics, probably most of us would get around to talking about freedom. This is not just because we value our political freedom; it is also because we cherish our personal ethical convictions and become extremely nervous when someone else tries to push their moral rules upon us. There is something personal and inviolable about ethics which demands that we recognize freedom of choice.

The more we are confronted with significant differences on issues like abortion, euthanasia, war, gay and lesbian rights, government spending, or free markets, the more we appeal to the fundamental moral obligation to respect the freedom of others. How can we talk about moral foundations without talking about freedom.

To develop morally, we must become “bigger” persons. This can be nurtured through social institutions, experienced mentors can guide this process, the support of others can accelerate its pace, and all of this can dramatically enrich the quality of achievement. Yet none of these can take our place for coordinating and directing our personal becoming. In this arduous process of adult growth, our own deliberations and decisions more and more form our moral character.

If we are lost in a strange city and we are trying to make our way back to our hotel, the first thing we need to do is get our bearings. When we have established our bearings, they tell us what we need to know to set our journey in motion and to keep us on track.

Fundamental moral obligations are like getting our bearings. They provide us with a general map of the moral landscape, they provide us with tools for situating ourselves in relation to the most important moral landmarks, and the point out to us the directions of moral progress and decline.

To understand this landscape and the bearing provided by fundamental moral obligation we must identify a series of components and discover how the components work together.

The first component comes from the first insight into moral foundations: if moral knowing and doing are founded on the persons we have become, and if moral action has the twofold thrust of constituting moral action and constituting moral persons, then our fundamental obligation if to take responsibility for developing ourselves as moral persons through our moral action.

The second component of fundamental moral obligation comes from the second insight into the social structure of moral foundations. If moral action not only constitutes us as moral persons but helps us reinforce and transform general patterns of moral identity in culture, then our fundamental moral obligation is to participate in reinforcing and developing virtuous patterns of social identity.

Finally, the third component of fundamental moral obligation comes from the previous chapter’s insight into the three levels of moral meaning. The three levels of meaning are ranked hierarchically because in each case the higher level of meaning is more comprehensive.

Each higher level can resolve problems and contradictions that seem unresolvable on the lower level. It is this hierarchical relation that provides the normative direction to the terms virtue and development.

Virtue (as opposed to vice) and Development (as opposed to decline) refer to the general direction of movement from self-interest, through social order, to the wider horizons of historical ordering and flourishing. Our third fundamental moral obligation is to promote this development through the three levels of moral meaning, to remove obstacles that block this development, and to reverse forces that counter or undermine its thrust.

The general features of moral progress are seen most clearly in the movement through the three levels of moral meaning, from self-interest, through social order, to historical flourishing. The structure of moral obligation changes when self-interest gives way to social responsibility.

This growth or development from one level to the next is itself obligatory; indeed, it is more fundamental than the particular obligations we have on either of the two levels. This holds true when we shift to the higher level of historical responsibility. Not only are the obligations of each higher level more significant than those of the lower, but we are especially obliged to make this transition from lower to higher.

This is what we mean by self-transcendence.

We have the fundamental moral obligation to grow up and to continue growing up through all of our adult life.

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Evolution (Fall Photo Essay #2)

The weather is still rainy, it has been raining since last night. But in the progress of Evolution as fall marches on – here is the neighborhood as it looks today. You can see the trees around are beginning to turn more yellow in this area. The trees in the park are still green. As expected, like last year the rains came, then the temperature dropped in the city and then the trees would explode in colors – that has yet to happen in the city.

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 It is thundering and lightening as I write this so here is another shot from our living room, with the rain falling


Nobody Crucifies anybody anymore

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A comment left on Fr. Jakes Blog. It was so moving to me that I had to share it with you.

One of the central dilemmas in Plato’s Republic is how to get the philosopher — who by virtue of wisdom wants nothing to do with the government — to accept rule. There is much irony in the discussion, of course, but I don’t think this is entirely one of Plato’s reductios ad absurdum.

Our solution — not a wise one — is to say that the Holy Spirit takes care of this problem for us.

The problem with that approach is that we end up with–that’s right–elected bishops.

In an elected body, there are only a few leaders. Who may or may not be able to lead under given circumstances.

We must not forget that the glory of democracy is the measure of our willingness to put up with its flaws — and this applies to the House of Bishops as well. You get to be a bishop by making most of the people happy most of the time. Chances are that few of us here and few of us at Stand Firm would be really happy with any Bishop who actually spoke her mind. To some extent, we’ve experienced that with the Presiding Bishop — who has disappointed glbt folks and supporters even on this list! We get upset with her and then forget about it… A good thing in the long run.

There is, however, a national character–and you find it in the government of the nation as well as in the House of Bishops. It’s a character, a constitution if you will, that is little understood by foreign Primates who think they can actually establish an Anglican alternative in the States. It’s the ‘Don’t Tread on Me’ factor.

By and large, our congress and our House of Bishops are, by their natures, and by the necessary flaws of democratic action (also it’s best lights), never going to do much that impresses many.

But when uboats start blowing up boats by our shores — and when the potential fall of Britain hints at the potential fall of our own nation, woefully unprepared for war — we’re in.

And if you go on bringing in Primates from around the globe to play havoc with our Episcopal Church, there’s going to be a collective case of Hot Under the Collar.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch — I’m blessed with a parish that already knows this is a bunch of hooey and doesn’t spend time fuming about it. We happily sent a check off to JCFs parish when the church burned — and it was a substantial check considering our miniscule budget. No questions asked. We’re not at all afraid to deal with issues. We’ve got shut ins to visit, and if a kid in the parish is in a school play–an unbelievable number of parishioners go.

And I’ve even been to high school football and Lion’s Club Chili Dinners. Trust me, it’s not how I thought I’d be spending the best years of my life — but how amazing to find the best years of one’s life in bowls of chili and in kids playing TV theme songs while marching from goal post to goal post.

These things — a church burning down and all of us knowing how devastating it would be for us — and all the little things that are a life and a day and a person make us pay attention. And we just can’t spend that much time on the Communion Falling Apart or the Sky Falling Down.

Amazing moments just happen over time though. A woman, I’ll call her Stella, shared with me early on that she had had the hardest time of anyone in the parish in calling a gay rector with his partner. Recently a Nigerian woman was doing laundry in our parish hall (we put a washer and drier in there so people who can’t get clothes washed — or even buy soap with foodstamps — could clean their clothes

She said to Stella, “You’re Anglican, right? How can you allow these homosexuals to be part of your church? It’s terrible.” My partner — possible the finest man I’ve ever met in my life — decided not to jump into the conversation. Stella said, “You know, even just a year ago I thought the way you did. But I’ve changed…”

There is no difference between doing the laundry and talking about who the Children of God are. The good news? Clean underwear. And open arms. And above all — sharing: soap, time, thoughts…and songs…

I’m so blessed to have a parish that lives this ideal — openness — so much so that even people who have had a hard time with the issue of hiring a gay rector have felt completely okay sharing that with me! That was the most welcoming feature of coming here to Michigan.

Alas, the Anglican Communion has some scary places in it. But people, we’ve got a good thing going in this little corner of it.

And I’m not leaving. And neither are any of the folks at St. John’s, Mt. Pleasant, Michigan.

They can throw us out. Hell, you’re not really fully Christian till you’ve been thrown out of something or been jailed for something. They can throw us out, but that won’t change a thing. We will still be Anglican. We will still be Episcopalian. And we’ll still be helping people get their clothes washed, raising money for people to buy gas to get their kids to the doctor in Grand Rapids or Ann Arbor… Or the backpacks — we put together 200 backpacks full of school supplies for kids who really needed them here in our little town.

Our problem is not gay people. Our problem is people. They need things. They get born into problematic families or with problematic disabilities. They grow up. They get married. They get cancer. They have children. Sometimes they get divorced. Sometimes they become widows or widowers. Sometimes they feel God, or love, or the world has abandoned them.

And sometimes they suddenly feel the presence of God in their lives and have to share that with people. But they also keep doing this really weird thing that we can’t seem to stop them from doing: sooner or later–they all–they die. They’re there one moment. And then they are gone. And it hurts so bad, so incredibly bad — and we all wish we had paid a little more attention to them, been a little kinder, loved them a little more.

And that’s when we gather to hear the Good News. Part of the good news is, in fact, that we could have done better. That part allows me to join the human race — to see myself as I really am. And to imagine a better me. And part of the good news is that God made me, and adores me, and can’t imagine a better me than the one he created. And that just takes your breath away.

I look at the Milky Way and I think, “Hey, the guy who made that made me.” I look at a buttercup out in a sheep field and I think “Hey, she made this buttercup so gently and so tenderly, and those tender, gentle things in me — they must be something she loves.”

And we gather. And the love of my life stands up at the front of the church and helps us all focus, and holds wine and bread with his great big beautiful hands, and sings, and he tries to tell us the good news and almost always does an extraodrinary job of it. And the deaths, and the births, and the children, and wonderful Jacob who is deaf and blind and 19 but looks likes he’s in fifth grade due to many severe developmental disabilities, and Andy who is in high school and on the golf team and recently shot a hole in one — and always makes me laugh with his ability to be present and in the moment and welcoming and just slightly grin, and his sister Kate, who is perhaps the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen and a Freshman in college and on our vestry — and Shirley, who recently turned to me after mass and said, “O my goodness, when did we start talking this loud right after church?”

And my godson Aaron who is still insisting he doesn’t believe in God AT ALL (and he’s nine!) but is willing to read the Bible with me in terms of the Force from Star Wars (we’re making progress) and is willing, at the Peace, to say to me, “The Force Be With You” — and all the mess and the joys and the hurts and the going on, the just going on and on and on, sits there before us and with us and in us, and Wayne tries to remind us that it is very, very important who we are and what we do, and the Anglican traditions gather that importance together and measure it and say, “Hey, coming up short, but not really — we’ve got bread and wine, thanks to…um, well I thought it was Mrs. Frobush but turns out it’s God again!” and from moment to moment in stuttered and stumbling reality, but with beautifully fine liturgy, and quiet confidence, we go on. And somehow, going on, we don’t go.

And we won’t. But, dear beloved friends throughout the communion: don’t tread on us. We fiercely protect our own. Nobody crucifies nobody anymore. At least not at St. John’s Episcopal, Mt. Pleasant, Michigan.


My Commitment

Help Improve the World with Bill Clinton

The Clinton Foundation. The Clinton Global Initiative.

My Commitment.Org

Can we make a difference. Is there something we can do to help the Global Community? Is there a way we can affect change to help someon, somewhere, just because it is the right thing to do. Isn’t it time we begin to think, live and act globally?


Dr. O’ Malley I presume …

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He said…”I love you too…”  

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Dr. O' Malley I presume …

george-s3-wtba-copy.jpg

He said…”I love you too…”  

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