Loving the Sacred through Word and Image. The Ferryland – New Foundland Iceberg Easter 2017. A Word Press Production.

The ADQ

For the Bible Tells Me So …

For The Bible Tells Me So – Trailer

For more information go to: For The Bible Tells Me So…

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Can the love between two people ever be an abomination? Is the chasm separating gays and lesbians and Christianity too wide to cross? Is the Bible an excuse to hate? Winner of the Audience Award for Best Documentary at the Seattle International Film Festival, Dan Karslake’s provocative, entertaining documentary brilliantly reconciles homosexuality and Biblical scripture, and in the process reveals that Church-sanctioned anti-gay bias is based almost solely upon a significant (and often malicious) misinterpretation of the Bible. As the film notes, most Christians live their lives today without feeling obliged to kill anyone who works on the Sabbath or eats shrimp (as a literal reading of scripture dictates).

Through the experiences of five very normal, very Christian, very American families — including those of former House Majority Leader Richard Gephardt and Episcopalian Bishop Gene Robinson — we discover how insightful people of faith handle the realization of having a gay child. Informed by such respected voices as Bishop Desmond Tutu, Harvard’s Peter Gomes, Orthodox Rabbi Steve Greenberg and Reverend Jimmy Creech, FOR THE BIBLE TELLS ME SO offers healing, clarity and understanding to anyone caught in the crosshairs of scripture and sexual identity.

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Bishop Orama's Courageous Biblical Christianity

Originally read on:“The Anglican Scotist”

Probably by now you have heard that Bishop Orama of Oyo in Nigeria claimed

Homosexuality and lesbianism are inhuman. Those who practice them are insane, satanic and are not fit to live because they are rebels to God’s purpose for man…

Though one hopes Orama was completely misquoted, still, one might reasonably suspect that this opinion is authentic to Nigerian Anglicanism and the Global South faction; it might well be that strong, international criticism will serve not to change the opinion, but merely silence it, driving it underground where it can continue to operate unseen and unheard.

I. Curious Conservative Reactions
While some Western conservatives might disavow Orama’s comments, one might be forgiven for wondering why they would bother. Here’s Father Kendall Harmon of T19:

These words are to be utterly repudiated by all of us–I hope and trust.

Well, why is that? He wrote (beackets added):

[1]We are all in the global village now, like it or not, and the world is indeed flat. So what we say needs to take seriously the resonances that it may bring out in contexts other than our own. There could hardly be a worse statement in a Western context than to say of ANYONE that he or she is “not fit to live.” [2] It immediately brings to mind the Nazi language of Lebensunwertes Leben (“life unworthy of life”) and in flood images and activities too horrendous and horrific for any of us to take in even at this historical distance from the events themselves.

According to [1], the problem is that others will hear–we live in a global village after all, and comments like this will gain a wide enough audience to most likely hurt the Separatist cause. Why? Part [2] gives Father Harmon’s answer: it will remind hearers of Nazi language. And of course he is right about that. Bishop Orama is not a Nazi or fascist so far as I know, but he has no trouble employing their Eliminationist rhetoric. Some bishop.

But I am utterly stunned by Father Harmon’s reasons for repudiating Bishop Orama’s rhetoric. There is nothing specifically Christian–no laudable Biblical principle–invoked in Father Harmon’s words. And there is nothing significantly moral either. The trouble with Bishop Orama’s words is strictly instrumental: it will hurt the cause by bringing to mind Nazi depravity. I suppose such an instrumental reason could have a moral resonance for Father Harmon: the end–Separation–justifies the means perhaps. He did not say that Bishop Orama was in error, or that Bishop Orama’s words were unscriptural or anti-Christian. The problem? Bishop Orama could hurt the cause.

Here is Greg Griffith of Stand Firm (I do not know if he is ordained like Father Harmon: no disrespect intended):

[1] About the horrible nature of the remark, the injury to the Christian witness it does, and yes, even the “rhetorical violence” it commits… I agree completely.

[2]Describing homosexuals as “unfit to live,” or implying that that sentiment is in any way part of the Gospel message, is where I get off the bus. “Life not worthy of living” is the phrase Nazis used to describe Jews, dissenting Christian clergy, the physically handicapped, the mentally retarded, and anyone else who might spoil their vision of a pure Aryan world.

[3]If being homosexual makes one unfit to live, then being the kind of sinner Bishop Orama is makes him similarly unfit to live; and of course, that is not the Gospel of Jesus, not the Good News we have been entrusted by Christ to carry to the world.

I think it is pretty clear that Griffith does alot better than Father Harmon in stating his reasons for repudiating Bishop Orama’s remarks. The remark has a “horrible nature” perhaps due to its “injury” to Christian mission and its “rhetorical violence.” On the latter count, Griffith invokes comparisons with the Nazis in [2]. He goes further than Father Harmon, saying explicitly that the Nazi message of Elimination is not part of the Gospel message: thanks for that. Finally, in [3] there is some kind of half-baked argument that Bishop Orama deserves to die if homosexuals deserve to die–and that this is not the Gospel message.

While Griffith’s response has unmistakable specific moral content, and even refers to the Goispel message, still it leaves one wondering. What exactly in the Gospel message contradicts Bishop Orama’s message? It is odd–even comic–to see biblical conservatives in the tradition of Barth and Childs run to secular notions of moral good when push comes to shove. Guys, one does not need to hear the Good news of Christ to condemn Nazis, their Eliminationist rhetoric, and rhetorical violence: one can do that on purely secular moral grounds.

II. Throwing Down the Gauntlet
When push comes to shove, and Bishop Orama’s remarks constitute a shove, does the Gospel vision of these–or any–Separatist, Anglican, biblical conservatives have the resources to issue a specifically Christian moral repudiation? Can they do better on this count than, to choose another extreme, Borg and Crossan?

Show me. I do not think you can do it, because any sound, specifically Christian moral argument that implies the events of GC2003 are permissible for Christians counts as an utter failure of the Separatist biblical vision. In other words, to make the argument condemning the bishop’s remarks, you will end up conceding too much, and if you do not conceed too much, you will not be able to condemn the remarks.

Where is the crux of the problem? The problem is that Bishop Orama has the Bible–as construed by responsible Separatist interpretation–on his side. Leviticus is clear:

If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall be put to death; their blood is upon them.

All Scripture is of a piece, and Christ did not come to obliterate any part of the Law–not a single iota! Bishop Orama respects the Bible enough not to claim to be a biblical Christian and just pretend. His Bible says homosexuals must die–what does Father Harmon’s Bible say? Or Griffith’s? After all, Scripture is clear in Leviticus. The difference might be simply that Bishop Orama has the courage to be consistent and lift up his vision of Scripture for all the world to see, whereas other self-styled conservatives insist on hiding this unsavory part–ashamed–under a bushel.

Careful: an appeal to Authority, like the authority of a great old interpreter, is a fallacy. You ‘d have to extract the authority’s argument and let the argument stand on its own merits, and you had better hope it stands.

****************************
From:
Father Jake Stops the World

There’s been quite a bit of discussion over the last 24 hours regarding Bishop Orama of Nigeria’s disturbing remarks. There have been condemnations of the declaration that gays are “unfit to live” from all corners of the Episcopal Church. For that we can be thankful.

Yet, even in light of these condemnations, this incident has given me cause to wonder if the sentiments expressed by Bp. Orama are really an isolated incident, or are they more broadly accepted, but just not so bluntly stated?

Mark Harris points us to an interesting article in the Boston Globe, which includes this paragraph describing a reporter’s experience at St. Stephen’s Anglican Church in Nairobi, Kenya:

…Criticizing the Episcopal Church’s embrace of gays and lesbians, the Rev. Samuel Muchiri told the 1,000 worshipers “we in Kenya feel this is not what God wants.” An usher advised a visiting reporter to “remember that Sodom and Gomorrah was demolished because there were homosexuals.” Another warned that the reporter could be assaulted if he asked worshipers about the issue, and said that America’s permissiveness toward homosexuality had led Osama bin Laden to attack…

Where are they getting these strange ideas? To some degree, they are probably being taught this by their leaders. For instance, in the same article, the Archbishop of Kenya made the following statement:

“God cannot be mocked,” said Archbishop Benjamin Nzimbi of Kenya. “Here, in the context of Kenya, if we take somebody who is polygamous and we make him a lay reader or a priest, we would be doing the wrong thing. . . . If I know somebody is a homosexual, and I make him a lay reader, or I make him a priest, or I make him a bishop, I am sanctioning what he is doing as right. I am saying ‘no’ to this, and the church is saying ‘no’ to this.”

Peter Akinola, the Archbishop of Nigeria, is also notorious for his hateful words regarding gay and lesbian Christians. With leaders like Nzimbi and Akinola at the helm, it is not surprising that bishops and clergy might feel free to perpetuate ideas such as gays and lesbians being unfit to live, and that they could be assaulted because they caused 9/11.

I think that the leaders giving either explicit or implicit permission for such rhetorical violence is a big part of the problem. But I think there is something more to it than that. In the Boston Globe article, the Primate of the Southern Cone, Gregory Venables, know as one of the more careful voices among the extremists, points us towards that “something more”:

…”Sadly, the sexuality issue isn’t the issue – it’s about Scripture,” said Archbishop Gregory J. Venables, the primate of South America. “What’s happened in the States is that they’ve moved away from the view that God has revealed himself in Scripture, and they’re rewriting that with post-modernity relativism”…

The erroneous accusation that “the States” have “moved away from the view that God has revealed himself in Scripture” might sound like nonsense to us. Most Episcopalians that I know, including myself, affirm that the Holy Scriptures are to be regarded as divine revelation, which completes natural revelation. Our difference of opinion is over the matter of how we interpret this revelation.

And, it is on this point that the Global South extremists find allies among some North Americans.

This causes some problems in the current discussions regarding rhetorical violence, and gives us reason to seek further explanations regarding some of the condemnations of Bp. Orama’s remarks. Anglican Scotist offers us a good explanation of why this supposed stance rooted in “biblical authority” is problematic:

…When push comes to shove, and Bishop Orama’s remarks constitute a shove, does the Gospel vision of these–or any–Separatist, Anglican, biblical conservatives have the resources to issue a specifically Christian moral repudiation? Can they do better on this count than, to choose another extreme, Borg and Crossan?

Show me. I do not think you can do it, because any sound, specifically Christian moral argument that implies the events of GC2003 are permissible for Christians counts as an utter failure of the Separatist biblical vision. In other words, to make the argument condemning the bishop’s remarks, you will end up conceding too much, and if you do not conceed too much, you will not be able to condemn the remarks.

Where is the crux of the problem? The problem is that Bishop Orama has the Bible–as construed by responsible Separatist interpretation–on his side. Leviticus is clear:

If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall be put to death; their blood is upon them.

All Scripture is of a piece, and Christ did not come to obliterate any part of the Law–not a single iota! Bishop Orama respects the Bible enough not to claim to be a biblical Christian and just pretend. His Bible says homosexuals must die–what does Father Harmon’s Bible say? Or Griffith’s? After all, Scripture is clear in Leviticus. The difference might be simply that Bishop Orama has the courage to be consistent and lift up his vision of Scripture for all the world to see, whereas other self-styled conservatives insist on hiding this unsavory part–ashamed–under a bushel.

Careful: an appeal to Authority, like the authority of a great old interpreter, is a fallacy. You’d have to extract the authority’s argument and let the argument stand on its own merits, and you had better hope it stands.

The reality, which most thoughtful people accept without a second thought, is that scripture contains all things necessary for salvation, but also includes lots of other stuff as well. The argument has never been “The bible said it, I believe it, that ends it.” Otherwise, we’d be executing disobedient children, to give but one bizarre example of the biblical mandate. The debate has been over how to define what exactly is “necessary for salvation,” and what is “other stuff.”

Apparently, there are some bishops, such as Orama, who have not been informed of this particular nuance in the discussion regarding scripture. That is a rather frightening realization, it seems to me.

Regarding our continued discussion of this topic, I want to draw your attention to a recent reflection from Elizabeth Kaeton entitled What the Anglican Communion Can Learn from Dog Fights. Elizabeth affirms what the Anglican Scotist has pointed out:

…People like Fred Phelps don’t make up the hateful words on the signs they hold up during the funerals of people with AIDS or soldiers who have died in Iraq. That self-proclaimed but unlicensed minister of God takes them right out of “The Good Book.”

It is Levitical logic, of course, almost pristine in its purity and simplicity. Indeed, some of us in the LGBT community have said to our orthodox and conservative sisters and brothers that if they really believe every literal thing in Scripture, then they are compelled to pick up a rock and stone every last LGBT person to death…

But then Elizabeth continues with some thoughts that I think it is important for us all to hear:

…The worst thing we mongrel dogs can do is to allow ourselves to be baited into a blood-sport by those who glorify and are entertained by violence.

We must resist that temptation with every thing that is in us. This is not about us. It is not about homosexuality or even scriptural interpretation.

This is about power and violence and we who claim the high calling of Christ Jesus must be about peace and justice, mercy and compassion, and walking humbly with God.

This is neither our fight nor our sport. Let’s not dignify it with our blood. Let us not insult the blood that was shed for our salvation.

Let us, instead, like our Samaritan sisters and brothers in Christ, use our wit and our intelligence.

The Samaritan woman, that mongrel dog, said to Jesus, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” (Mt. 15:27)

And Jesus said to her, “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.” (Mt 15:28)

May it be so for us in our day and time.

And may God have mercy on us all.

I understand that some will need to express their outrage and indignation. But let’s not allow ourselves to be baited into pointless arguments that just may tempt us to toss out our own forms of rhetorical violence.

This is not some kind of rhetorical game. We must stand against violence and oppression. But let us make our stand with intelligence, wit and dignity.

J.

 


Bishop Orama’s Courageous Biblical Christianity

Originally read on:“The Anglican Scotist”

Probably by now you have heard that Bishop Orama of Oyo in Nigeria claimed

Homosexuality and lesbianism are inhuman. Those who practice them are insane, satanic and are not fit to live because they are rebels to God’s purpose for man…

Though one hopes Orama was completely misquoted, still, one might reasonably suspect that this opinion is authentic to Nigerian Anglicanism and the Global South faction; it might well be that strong, international criticism will serve not to change the opinion, but merely silence it, driving it underground where it can continue to operate unseen and unheard.

I. Curious Conservative Reactions
While some Western conservatives might disavow Orama’s comments, one might be forgiven for wondering why they would bother. Here’s Father Kendall Harmon of T19:

These words are to be utterly repudiated by all of us–I hope and trust.

Well, why is that? He wrote (beackets added):

[1]We are all in the global village now, like it or not, and the world is indeed flat. So what we say needs to take seriously the resonances that it may bring out in contexts other than our own. There could hardly be a worse statement in a Western context than to say of ANYONE that he or she is “not fit to live.” [2] It immediately brings to mind the Nazi language of Lebensunwertes Leben (“life unworthy of life”) and in flood images and activities too horrendous and horrific for any of us to take in even at this historical distance from the events themselves.

According to [1], the problem is that others will hear–we live in a global village after all, and comments like this will gain a wide enough audience to most likely hurt the Separatist cause. Why? Part [2] gives Father Harmon’s answer: it will remind hearers of Nazi language. And of course he is right about that. Bishop Orama is not a Nazi or fascist so far as I know, but he has no trouble employing their Eliminationist rhetoric. Some bishop.

But I am utterly stunned by Father Harmon’s reasons for repudiating Bishop Orama’s rhetoric. There is nothing specifically Christian–no laudable Biblical principle–invoked in Father Harmon’s words. And there is nothing significantly moral either. The trouble with Bishop Orama’s words is strictly instrumental: it will hurt the cause by bringing to mind Nazi depravity. I suppose such an instrumental reason could have a moral resonance for Father Harmon: the end–Separation–justifies the means perhaps. He did not say that Bishop Orama was in error, or that Bishop Orama’s words were unscriptural or anti-Christian. The problem? Bishop Orama could hurt the cause.

Here is Greg Griffith of Stand Firm (I do not know if he is ordained like Father Harmon: no disrespect intended):

[1] About the horrible nature of the remark, the injury to the Christian witness it does, and yes, even the “rhetorical violence” it commits… I agree completely.

[2]Describing homosexuals as “unfit to live,” or implying that that sentiment is in any way part of the Gospel message, is where I get off the bus. “Life not worthy of living” is the phrase Nazis used to describe Jews, dissenting Christian clergy, the physically handicapped, the mentally retarded, and anyone else who might spoil their vision of a pure Aryan world.

[3]If being homosexual makes one unfit to live, then being the kind of sinner Bishop Orama is makes him similarly unfit to live; and of course, that is not the Gospel of Jesus, not the Good News we have been entrusted by Christ to carry to the world.

I think it is pretty clear that Griffith does alot better than Father Harmon in stating his reasons for repudiating Bishop Orama’s remarks. The remark has a “horrible nature” perhaps due to its “injury” to Christian mission and its “rhetorical violence.” On the latter count, Griffith invokes comparisons with the Nazis in [2]. He goes further than Father Harmon, saying explicitly that the Nazi message of Elimination is not part of the Gospel message: thanks for that. Finally, in [3] there is some kind of half-baked argument that Bishop Orama deserves to die if homosexuals deserve to die–and that this is not the Gospel message.

While Griffith’s response has unmistakable specific moral content, and even refers to the Goispel message, still it leaves one wondering. What exactly in the Gospel message contradicts Bishop Orama’s message? It is odd–even comic–to see biblical conservatives in the tradition of Barth and Childs run to secular notions of moral good when push comes to shove. Guys, one does not need to hear the Good news of Christ to condemn Nazis, their Eliminationist rhetoric, and rhetorical violence: one can do that on purely secular moral grounds.

II. Throwing Down the Gauntlet
When push comes to shove, and Bishop Orama’s remarks constitute a shove, does the Gospel vision of these–or any–Separatist, Anglican, biblical conservatives have the resources to issue a specifically Christian moral repudiation? Can they do better on this count than, to choose another extreme, Borg and Crossan?

Show me. I do not think you can do it, because any sound, specifically Christian moral argument that implies the events of GC2003 are permissible for Christians counts as an utter failure of the Separatist biblical vision. In other words, to make the argument condemning the bishop’s remarks, you will end up conceding too much, and if you do not conceed too much, you will not be able to condemn the remarks.

Where is the crux of the problem? The problem is that Bishop Orama has the Bible–as construed by responsible Separatist interpretation–on his side. Leviticus is clear:

If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall be put to death; their blood is upon them.

All Scripture is of a piece, and Christ did not come to obliterate any part of the Law–not a single iota! Bishop Orama respects the Bible enough not to claim to be a biblical Christian and just pretend. His Bible says homosexuals must die–what does Father Harmon’s Bible say? Or Griffith’s? After all, Scripture is clear in Leviticus. The difference might be simply that Bishop Orama has the courage to be consistent and lift up his vision of Scripture for all the world to see, whereas other self-styled conservatives insist on hiding this unsavory part–ashamed–under a bushel.

Careful: an appeal to Authority, like the authority of a great old interpreter, is a fallacy. You ‘d have to extract the authority’s argument and let the argument stand on its own merits, and you had better hope it stands.

****************************
From:
Father Jake Stops the World

There’s been quite a bit of discussion over the last 24 hours regarding Bishop Orama of Nigeria’s disturbing remarks. There have been condemnations of the declaration that gays are “unfit to live” from all corners of the Episcopal Church. For that we can be thankful.

Yet, even in light of these condemnations, this incident has given me cause to wonder if the sentiments expressed by Bp. Orama are really an isolated incident, or are they more broadly accepted, but just not so bluntly stated?

Mark Harris points us to an interesting article in the Boston Globe, which includes this paragraph describing a reporter’s experience at St. Stephen’s Anglican Church in Nairobi, Kenya:

…Criticizing the Episcopal Church’s embrace of gays and lesbians, the Rev. Samuel Muchiri told the 1,000 worshipers “we in Kenya feel this is not what God wants.” An usher advised a visiting reporter to “remember that Sodom and Gomorrah was demolished because there were homosexuals.” Another warned that the reporter could be assaulted if he asked worshipers about the issue, and said that America’s permissiveness toward homosexuality had led Osama bin Laden to attack…

Where are they getting these strange ideas? To some degree, they are probably being taught this by their leaders. For instance, in the same article, the Archbishop of Kenya made the following statement:

“God cannot be mocked,” said Archbishop Benjamin Nzimbi of Kenya. “Here, in the context of Kenya, if we take somebody who is polygamous and we make him a lay reader or a priest, we would be doing the wrong thing. . . . If I know somebody is a homosexual, and I make him a lay reader, or I make him a priest, or I make him a bishop, I am sanctioning what he is doing as right. I am saying ‘no’ to this, and the church is saying ‘no’ to this.”

Peter Akinola, the Archbishop of Nigeria, is also notorious for his hateful words regarding gay and lesbian Christians. With leaders like Nzimbi and Akinola at the helm, it is not surprising that bishops and clergy might feel free to perpetuate ideas such as gays and lesbians being unfit to live, and that they could be assaulted because they caused 9/11.

I think that the leaders giving either explicit or implicit permission for such rhetorical violence is a big part of the problem. But I think there is something more to it than that. In the Boston Globe article, the Primate of the Southern Cone, Gregory Venables, know as one of the more careful voices among the extremists, points us towards that “something more”:

…”Sadly, the sexuality issue isn’t the issue – it’s about Scripture,” said Archbishop Gregory J. Venables, the primate of South America. “What’s happened in the States is that they’ve moved away from the view that God has revealed himself in Scripture, and they’re rewriting that with post-modernity relativism”…

The erroneous accusation that “the States” have “moved away from the view that God has revealed himself in Scripture” might sound like nonsense to us. Most Episcopalians that I know, including myself, affirm that the Holy Scriptures are to be regarded as divine revelation, which completes natural revelation. Our difference of opinion is over the matter of how we interpret this revelation.

And, it is on this point that the Global South extremists find allies among some North Americans.

This causes some problems in the current discussions regarding rhetorical violence, and gives us reason to seek further explanations regarding some of the condemnations of Bp. Orama’s remarks. Anglican Scotist offers us a good explanation of why this supposed stance rooted in “biblical authority” is problematic:

…When push comes to shove, and Bishop Orama’s remarks constitute a shove, does the Gospel vision of these–or any–Separatist, Anglican, biblical conservatives have the resources to issue a specifically Christian moral repudiation? Can they do better on this count than, to choose another extreme, Borg and Crossan?

Show me. I do not think you can do it, because any sound, specifically Christian moral argument that implies the events of GC2003 are permissible for Christians counts as an utter failure of the Separatist biblical vision. In other words, to make the argument condemning the bishop’s remarks, you will end up conceding too much, and if you do not conceed too much, you will not be able to condemn the remarks.

Where is the crux of the problem? The problem is that Bishop Orama has the Bible–as construed by responsible Separatist interpretation–on his side. Leviticus is clear:

If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall be put to death; their blood is upon them.

All Scripture is of a piece, and Christ did not come to obliterate any part of the Law–not a single iota! Bishop Orama respects the Bible enough not to claim to be a biblical Christian and just pretend. His Bible says homosexuals must die–what does Father Harmon’s Bible say? Or Griffith’s? After all, Scripture is clear in Leviticus. The difference might be simply that Bishop Orama has the courage to be consistent and lift up his vision of Scripture for all the world to see, whereas other self-styled conservatives insist on hiding this unsavory part–ashamed–under a bushel.

Careful: an appeal to Authority, like the authority of a great old interpreter, is a fallacy. You’d have to extract the authority’s argument and let the argument stand on its own merits, and you had better hope it stands.

The reality, which most thoughtful people accept without a second thought, is that scripture contains all things necessary for salvation, but also includes lots of other stuff as well. The argument has never been “The bible said it, I believe it, that ends it.” Otherwise, we’d be executing disobedient children, to give but one bizarre example of the biblical mandate. The debate has been over how to define what exactly is “necessary for salvation,” and what is “other stuff.”

Apparently, there are some bishops, such as Orama, who have not been informed of this particular nuance in the discussion regarding scripture. That is a rather frightening realization, it seems to me.

Regarding our continued discussion of this topic, I want to draw your attention to a recent reflection from Elizabeth Kaeton entitled What the Anglican Communion Can Learn from Dog Fights. Elizabeth affirms what the Anglican Scotist has pointed out:

…People like Fred Phelps don’t make up the hateful words on the signs they hold up during the funerals of people with AIDS or soldiers who have died in Iraq. That self-proclaimed but unlicensed minister of God takes them right out of “The Good Book.”

It is Levitical logic, of course, almost pristine in its purity and simplicity. Indeed, some of us in the LGBT community have said to our orthodox and conservative sisters and brothers that if they really believe every literal thing in Scripture, then they are compelled to pick up a rock and stone every last LGBT person to death…

But then Elizabeth continues with some thoughts that I think it is important for us all to hear:

…The worst thing we mongrel dogs can do is to allow ourselves to be baited into a blood-sport by those who glorify and are entertained by violence.

We must resist that temptation with every thing that is in us. This is not about us. It is not about homosexuality or even scriptural interpretation.

This is about power and violence and we who claim the high calling of Christ Jesus must be about peace and justice, mercy and compassion, and walking humbly with God.

This is neither our fight nor our sport. Let’s not dignify it with our blood. Let us not insult the blood that was shed for our salvation.

Let us, instead, like our Samaritan sisters and brothers in Christ, use our wit and our intelligence.

The Samaritan woman, that mongrel dog, said to Jesus, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” (Mt. 15:27)

And Jesus said to her, “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.” (Mt 15:28)

May it be so for us in our day and time.

And may God have mercy on us all.

I understand that some will need to express their outrage and indignation. But let’s not allow ourselves to be baited into pointless arguments that just may tempt us to toss out our own forms of rhetorical violence.

This is not some kind of rhetorical game. We must stand against violence and oppression. But let us make our stand with intelligence, wit and dignity.

J.

 


Labels … Let us Reflect on them …

krystallnacht.jpg

Krystalnacht – The Night of the Broken Glass…
The Beginning of The Holocaust

auschwitz-birkenau_memorial-copyb.jpg

arbeit-macht-frei.jpg

Work Makes You Free …

buchenwald.jpg

A Survivor from Buchenwald

_41265550_8vadveshrtrs416.jpg

Yad Vashem – Jerusalem Holocaust Memorial

 

capttok10206280145new_zealand_world_heritage_auschwitz_renamed_tok102.jpg

Auschwitz – Concentration Camp

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

Red Ribbon

The Red Ribbon – Synonymous for AIDS

Pride Flag

The Pride Flag – Proud Symbol for all things Gay

250px-aids_quilt.jpg

The Names Project AIDS Memorial Quilt – For all those who died from AIDS
My friends,My family, My brothers and sisters…

yellow_star_of_david.jpg

The JEW – The Star of David used during the Holocaust …
**********************************

You who live safe
In your warm houses,
You who find, returning in the evening,
Hot food and friendly faces:
Consider if this is a man
Who works in the mud
Who does not know peace
Who fights for a scrap of bread
Who dies because of a yes and a no.
Consider if this is a woman,
Without hair and without name
With no more strength to remember,
Her eyes empty and her womb cold
Like a frog in winter

Meditate that this came about:
I commend these words to you.
Carve them in your hearts
At Home, in the street,
Going to bed, rising;
Repeat them to your children,

Or may your house fall apart,
May illness impede you,
May your children turn their faces from you.

Primo Levi

Survival in Auschwitz

 

pink-triangle-3.gif

The Homosexual – Also Used during the Holocaust …

fateless_240.jpg

A Young Man – Hungarian Jewish Boy –
From Fateless, the Motion Picture

dach-id.jpg

The Label Chart Used By the Nazi Party within
the Death Camps and Concentration Camps to
Identify people…
Location, Ethnicity, Area, Orientation, Religious Affiliation

 

There weren’t only Jews in the Camps…

silencedeath.png

The ACT UP slogan for Gay and AIDS circa 1980

jc.jpg

What Would Jesus Do???

diploma1a1.jpg

This is my Label – I earned every hour of it, with Pride…

pride-arm2.jpg

We Should Be Proud, but we should remember what labels have done to millions world wide over the Decades. I think it is time to move past them, to stop labeling and Outing people. I think we need to learn to live together PEACEFULLY in order to stop the killing of ALL people around the world…

THAT WE SHOULD REMEMBER – SO THAT WE NEVER FORGET!!


Temporal Shift …

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Hello, my name is Jeremy and I am a Graduate Student in the Department of Theology at Concordia University… Try that one on for size…

Today was a big day … My first day of school as a Graduate Student. The beginning of the Fall semester is always fraught with drama long lines and insanity. This morning brought with it some sad memory, as my Monday-Wednesday morning class is in the Mother House in the West end of the house which has been transformed from living quarters of former nuns to classrooms and offices. I wanted to go visit the chapel this morning and spend some time in prayer, but that wasn’t in the cards today.

Christian Origins is my first class of the week, and it seems, because of certain technical problems, [read:no internet connections or electronic availability] in the room we are using, means a room change is in the offing soon. I saw some familiar faces from my summer as an independent student.

Thank God that none of the witches from the religion department are in any of my theology classes! There IS a God!!!

I took the afternoon to do some power shopping for books at the Diocesan Book Store in the core after class, and I even treated myself to a BK Lunch, Woo Hoo!! The Eaton Centre food court is really interesting at lunch time lots to see…

The Textbook for Christian Origins, Theo: 206 is called The Shaping of Christianity, and can be purchased at the Diocesan Bookstore at Place Cathedral at the McGill Metro. The book ran me $33.87.

I came home from my journey to the “Core” and took a short power nap before my evening class, hubby decided to join me for a nap… [he just can’t nap by himself when I am home] … I had 3 hours to nap, and I was in the middle of this fantastic adventure dream, it was action packed and I was really into it, when the alarm clock went off at 5:15 and it startled me so bad and I was so groggy that I could not hold onto the visual to write anything about it… I know I was in a town with a above ground subway system, it was dark and I was running all over the place. So I washed up and left for class and I couldn’t raise the dream in the light, I hate when that happens…

This evening I went to my Theology 204 with Fr. Ray was quite interesting. I saw many of the same faces that were in my morning Christian Origins class, which was great because this class is a lot smaller – with about 45 students in a smaller intimate lecture room. I think it is going to be a great semester…

The University Book Store also has the course packs for Theo: 204 Christian Ethics with Fr. Ray. The texts books are available and are on reserve in the library.

We had some really great discussion, and it is really nice to have Fr. Ray teaching the course, since he is one of my spiritual advisers, on the Catholic side. I told him that I had one foot in the religion of my family [Catholicism] and one foot in the Anglican Church, having been given a green light by Bishop Barry. So now Fr. Ray calls me the Anglo-Catholic. I am hoping that I reach some place new in my spiritual journey.

We are going to play Word Association now:

Your three words are:

Ethics — Morals — Christian

We talked about Religious Studies being a study in culture, society, history and tradition and Theology having a different Methodology, it is faith seeking understanding. Will we agree on all issues in Theology, probably not. Especially with a GAY, HIV+, Married, Catholic Queer in the classroom. This should be an interesting semester. I can look into my crystal ball and see much discussion and choppy waters ahead.

We all introduced ourselves in class and shared our majors and reasons for taking that class, many of us are in Core Studies for Theology, though, many of the students are from many other departments like Psychology [YAWN] Applied Human Sciences [Double YAWN] and others… If today’s discussions were indicative of what’s to come, this class should be incredibly enjoyable because of the varied beliefs, opinions and ages of students in the class. There are a few Graduate and Master’s students in the class, which is really cool…

Tomorrow should be even better with Religions of Tibet. I have high hopes for this class because I have been studying Buddhism and other Eastern Religions over the past four years, last academic year I took Buddhism and Jainism [at the same time] which was a real challenge. I did better in Jainism because it was more writing and academic study into a tradition that is labor intensive, because of the scarcity of primary source material. I flubbed on my Buddhism final exam, which hurt my grade. I hate huge multiple choice exams with very little writing!!! I perform better when I write.

See I did learn something in University! I learned how to write Good Essays and I learned how to write academically sound papers. It took me four years, but I was successful in my writing career. Writing here as well, has enhanced my academic writing because I can work out my ideas here before I add them to a paper.

In The Montreal News:

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The Strike at the Notre Dame de Neige cemetery is OVER!! Thank Bloody Christ, it is about time – for Pete’s sake! Now gravediggers go back to work on Monday and they have over Seven Hundred and Fifty Caskets to bury, that have been in cold storage for Months!!

I talked to Fr. Ray about this on the way home tonight, we walked to the Major Seminary where he was parked just up the hill from home, The Bishop of Montreal got involved to try to end the strike, we all admit he was a little late with his word, but it seems to have worked! The Religious Authority has some sway over our community thank God for that!

So we are at 1042 words… Have I gone on too long here???

Ok that’s all for tonight. More tomorrow from the world of Tibet…

Stay Tuned…

Oh, I forgot to mention that I am listed as an ALUMNI Blogger on the Concordia University Website!! Very Kewl!! We are also listed on the Religio Scholasticus website as well. I am really grateful for the support of my peers at Religio and as well from the University.

 


Crazy – Servant of the Bones…

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Cue the music – start the fog machine – blue light GOBO slow pans across the floor through dimly lit space, and the first beat comes…

I am alone, it is early, the bar is not yet open, but I am there alone. Just me, the music and the spirit of God. Well, what little spirit of God there was at that time of my life. It is mid-summer in Ft. Lauderdale. I have just told Todd that I was going to die…

He wept.

Over the next few weeks, the teaching would begin. The team rose to the call, one of the boys was sick and was left on the side of the road with nothing but what little dignity was left in his soul. All I needed would be provided come hell or high water. Wild Horses would never stop the charge for life. We were all sick, we were all dying. Save for two people in the entire organization. My champions would save me, if I wanted it or not. Death was not an option and I would either get it or I would die…

So it began…

At that time, the temple of sin was alive and things happened so quickly that if you blinked you would miss it. The temple was filled with every earthly delight, Bosch would have been pleased with our Garden of Earthly desires, carnal, profane and truly sinful. I loved every minute of it.

The rule was set…

You have a life, outside the temple. When you come to work, you leave your baggage at the door, do not bring it in here. No exceptions. Come to work, and you will serve me your Master and do whatever you are told without question without complaint, is that clear!

Yes Sir…

I took that time of my life as sacred and profane, but that is another story. You can read about the Sacred and the Profane over there in Pages… This is another thread to a long running story of how this boy was made a man, a saved man, a profane man, and in the same vein Sacred. You never know where your lessons are going to come from, and you are grateful for the wisdom and time people took out of their lives to care for you and teach you lessons that nobody else was going to teach you. So pay attention Little One.

This is your life we are talking about…

The gobos are tracking across the floor slowly through smoke and mirrors as the music plays just for you. I learned very early on, in that space that music would identify particular moods, paint particular pictures. Farkle and I had a ritual. He IS the only one left from the fray of men who lived and died from the temple of sin. We began each shift in our own way, begging god another night, another day, another minute. I was surrounded with warriors fighting their own significant battles with AIDS. I was not hit by the KS demon. I was not plagued by things I saw and witnessed, thank the creator. It was ugly. It was brutal and it was most importantly the fight of the century for all of us. Many men went to their deaths in our arms. We bathed them, clothed them and in the end we buried them.

Angry Larry…

When I got sober there was a man with AIDS named Larry, he was a drunk like me. But he was unique. He sat with a bottle on the table and a loaded revolver to shoot himself. He carried that gun with him and showed it to every one of us, and he told us relentlessly that he was going to kill himself. He got sober with the rest of us. Over the years following his spiritual awakening, he did something that no one else thought to do.

People with AIDS were being left in the streets. Mortuaries would not process sick people, they would not touch a body that had been infected with AIDS. Families would not bury their children. We did that. Larry opened his services to the community and he became another champion of the cause. I knew him. He eventually got rid of the gun, so I heard.

For a few minutes during transition, I would warm up the smoker, fire up the turntable and start the computer so that I could worship my God to the music of my soul. I did that every night. I worshiped whatever was going to save me.

I was servant to the men. I was servant to my Master. I was a slave for God, be he dressed or undressed. You never saw God until you witnessed true beauty of the soul in all its carnality. There is something sacredly profane about this part of my life. What went on inside the temple stayed in the temple. Many months would pass and I battled my demons of alcoholism before I finally fell into the pit of death, and there happen to be somebody watching from the sidelines.

Danny saved me that night. He was the man who cradled me in his arms, oxygen mask on my face and had called the paramedics to try and revive me. Danny took me home that night, and did not leave my apartment for a week. He fed me, bathed me and cared for me, under that watchful eye of my Master Todd. When the word was spoken, action was taken, and hell hath no fury if you did not jump when told to. Todd was very protective over his boys and men. Especially me…

We were reminded that Todd had lost love to AIDS. Bob was buried across the street in the cemetery that faced our building. It was hard – it was painful, and it was sacred. Kevin and Larry did things for me that no man ever did for me in the real world. We were the three musketeers. We were the team to beat in bar management and service. We ran a tight ship and we were accountable, respectable and reliable. We proved a mighty force against the odds we all faced.

Let’s get it on…

Shift was begun at eight. The wells were filled the beer was stocked and the ice bins were full. Put your money in the drawer and let’s get the music thumping. Like clockwork at the strike of eight bells the first note hit the turntables. They were lined up around the building. Cars were parked all over the place. The temple worship had begun. Heaven was found amid the souls of suffering men who knew they were all marked for death, but for tonight, whatever you desired was fulfilled. You could drown away your sorrow and dip into the well of living water if you wished as well. You have never lived until you party like your dying with crowds of undulating flesh as far as they eye can see. The ghosts of those men now inhabit the fantasies and dreams I have still to this day.

One by one, two by two, they died in our arms. We held them until they took their last breaths. Memorialized in the careful and blood soaked threads of quilts, as the years went by, they started collecting by the dozen, then by the hundreds. If you’ve ever seen the entire quilt unfurled, all the men who were part of my life in those first years of my epidemic life, they are all together in death, as they were in life. Memorialized until the end of time. And we remember each of their names.

So many young boys torn from life before they knew what hit them. Men who infected them had died as well. Many of my friends were taken on trips that were detrimental to them, and just robbed them of life that was still left to live.

Todd saw to it that I would never go there…

You come to work, dress as you will, you obey me and do not waver from my eye, for I know your carnal desires and you are too young to tempt the devil with his dance. Because I surely did not know what could befall me if the right charmer enticed me into his web of desire, and they all knew I was fair bait. But in order to dine from my buffet, you needed explicit permission of my Master, who never allowed any man to defile me like many had been. I was off limits. I never crossed the line provided because that meant disrespect and I could never bear to break my Master’s heart with disobedience.

I loved Him, and He loved me – I had many problems. I was depressed and angry and resentful. I had the scars of traumatic visions of my dead lovers corpse in my head, and the words of his mother still ring in my ear today “I hope that every night until you die, that you see the corpse of my dead son in your field of vision.” That curse still lives with me and will go with me to the grave. Five day old corpses are not pretty. I had to identify the remains when all was said and done. Save that he was wearing jewelry that I could identify and part of him was still recognizable – God forgive me…

I remember that day, it was early afternoon the morgue called me from work to come and do the deed. I drove in and looked upon him in that room, I wept tears that burned into my soul forever. I just could not imagine – the pain was so hard to bear. I drove over to the bar. Bill was working behind the bar. I drank until I could not stand up on my own. I drank for a week, straight…

Todd and Bill needed to find me a solution and quick, because I was on the outs.

I started suicide therapy in a group setting that lasted 32 weeks. Nothing like rehashing death week after week, until the pain was purged from your soul, but is it ever? Months went by until I got my news.

But they cared for me in all my brokenness. A young angel would earn his wings back. Come hell or high water. In the end, when all was said and done, at the end of the day I survived, but so many did not. And each night I offer them prayers in hope that when I meet my death that all of them will be waiting for me in the Temple Of Earthly Desire in the promised land of the Kingdom of God, where the sacred and profane are mingled with the blood of the Almighty and the blood of my friends who have gone before me, on that day we will be cleansed of our sins.

And forgiven by God…

Amen

Goodnight angels of men


Gay Bishop Announces Civil Union, Infuriates Church Conservatives

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I support the V. Rev. Gene Robinson. Good for him and his partner. 

by 365Gay.com Newscenter Staff

(London) The only openly gay bishop in the worldwide Anglican Church has unveiled plans for a civil union with his longtime partner, unleashing an attack by church conservatives who call it a publicity stunt. 

New Hampshire’s Episcopal Bishop, Gene Robinson, tells the British Broadcasting Corporation that he and his partner of 18 years, Mark Andrew, 53, will have a civil union shortly after the state’s civil union law goes into effect next year.

“The decision to take advantage of the new law that will come into effect in New Hampshire on January 1 is simply our taking advantage of the kinds of rights which are now being made open to gay and lesbian people in New Hampshire,” Robinson tells interviewer Michael Buerk in the program to be broadcast August 28.

The timing would bring it just weeks before bishops from around the world are to meet in London for their once-a-decade meeting called the Lambeth Conference.

Conservatives pressing the church to outlaw gay clergy accuse Robinson using the timing in a bid to gain a political advantage, something Robinson disputes.

“I am certainly not doing that to rub salt into anyone’s wounds, but no one should expect me to penalize me and my partner when these rights are being offered,” he said.

“I believe that Peter Akinola, the Archbishop of Nigeria, one of the primary spokespeople against my election [as bishop], I believe he is following his call from God as best as he can, I just wish he could believe I am following my call from God as best I can.”

Robinson first raised the possibility of entering into a civil union when he testified in April before a New Hampshire committee hearing leading up to the vote that passed the law.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, the titular leader of the worldwide denomination has been trying to keep the Church from splintering over Robinson’s election in 2004.

While Robinson will be allowed to attend the Lambeth Conference, Williams will not allow him to participate or vote.

A similar restriction has been placed on bishops consecrated in the US by Akinola.

Despite claims by the dissident faction that they are not seeking a schism of the worldwide Church when leaders gather next year for their once-a-decade meeting bishops representing almost half of the denomination’s 77-million members will be absent. 

Last month the steering committee for the Global South Primates, made up of churches mainly in the developing world and the most conservative in the worldwide Anglican Communion, said last month its bishops will boycott the meeting because the Episcopal Church, is allowed to participate. 

On Thursday Akinola issued a statement saying the “the moment of decision is almost upon us” about whether Anglican conservatives and liberals can stay together.

The statement went on to say that theological conservatives cannot stand by as the U.S. Episcopal Church – the Anglican body in the U.S. – and the Anglican Church of Canada move toward full acceptance of gay relationships.

“We earnestly desire the healing of our beloved communion but not at the cost of rewriting the Bible to accommodate the latest cultural trend,” Akinola said. “We cannot turn away from the source of life and love for a temporary truce.”

©365Gay.com 2007


Finding the Perfect Church…

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I have asked this question of some of the ministers that write for our sphere. For many years I have searched for the “Perfect Church.” Growing up in a predominantly white, middle class neighborhood gave rise to attending church with my friends. And that served me very well for most of my young adult life.

Labels had not been applied to us in this period of our lives so we were free to worship wherever we chose to. And in most cases our parents followed along, because the church was not only a religious landmark, but also housed Youth Ministry that everyone was part of for several years through high school and junior college and even for myself, Seminary.

After leaving seminary with a bad taste in my mouth for Catholicism, and Church, I walked away from God and his church. I thought that I had been slighted by clergy and I was pushed against the “choose us or get out” wall. It took me many years dealing with the truth to walk back into church.

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This was always my childhood home, the Church I called home. It was the place that God and I communed. And after my leaving seminary – this was the church that I returned to many years later, as a weary, AIDS suffering sinner. I was sick, and I had been away, and I met a man who changed my life when I saw him say mass in this space with his crutches and MS. I vowed never again to complain about things in my life. And I have kept that word so many years later.

Being Gay, had its issues with Church. But not to the men who led this church forward. I was a part of this church and this is where I would find prayer, support and salvation.

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As I grew into my 30’s I hit several questions in my life about faith, recovery and living with AIDS. I’d like to say that I found all my answers in “church” but that would be false. I was living in an area of town that did not afford me the ability to get to church any more. So I was not attending “church” where I had been for so many years. It was just logistically impossible to get there in time for mass.

During my second recovery, I was seeing a therapist and I had friends who were talking care of me at the time. I was having my visions and spiritual experiences outside the church I may have left the church “physically” but not emotionally and spiritually.

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Faith is like a garden. Each one of us inhabits the garden of our own making. We tend that garden daily. In the morning we walk through misty, dew covered flowers and plants, and as the day wares on the sun tracks across the sky as we sit in that garden. I believe that everyone is born into some kind of spiritual tradition, more than most may speak of but nonetheless, someone puts the seed of faith within us at some point.

If you were like me, you were baptized, first communion ed and confirmed in the Catholic faith. Some were baptized in the baptist faith and others were raised in the faith of their parents or extended families. But we all carry that seed within us.

For many, being Gay and Christian or Being Gay and Catholic was something we battled with because of the politics of the church. Now in my 40’s I can tell you that I will not walk into, better yet worship in a space that does not welcome me fully into communion. I used to compromise my ethics and my politics because I was attached to the Catholic faith by an unbreakable umbilical cord that still exists today.

When I got sick, the priests told me to come to church and I did because they were 21st century men in an archaic world of Catholicism. That lasted as long as it had to to keep my in line with my faith and connected TO my faith. God was in the church, praying with others took place in the church. Mass took place within the church. And I was ok with that way of life.

When I got sober in 2001 I was filled with questions. My faith was strong because I KNEW who God Was and who god Is still. I did not need the physical building to give me what I had created and cultivated internally over many many years of spiritual exploration. You see, faith is not something you feed once a week in a worship service. Faith is not something you partake on any given Sunday.

I was sober a four months when I came to visit Montreal in the Spring of 2002. It was Ash Wednesday when I arrived. I celebrated Easter here and I loved it. This is such a rich religious city. Later I would meet a Jesuit priest who would give me the same puzzle piece he gave all the other boys I later met on the path later on.

This is where it all starts…

I had a reason to come here and I knew after two weeks of being here, that I needed to stay here. I went back to Florida, packed all that I could and I left, never to return. Lies my mother told facilitated my move out of the United States.

I started my journey of faith in the Church Basilica of Notre Dame. It took me weeks to start putting the faith puzzle together. and now six years later, I can tell you that there are still pieces of the puzzle missing.

I had to get used to living in Montreal, Pre-Iraq War. I had to find my place in the greater scheme of things. And that took a long time. I had my citizenship on February 17th 2003, and I was sober 14 months. I decided that I would go back to school. My chosen major in the beginning was Psychology, that quickly changed to Religion.

These were the years that demonstrations were taking place in the streets and Americans were being warned to sew Canadian flags on our backpacks, so as not to acquire the ire of Canadians in Montreal, because protests against the war were daily occurrences. I did that and I participated in those demonstrations. But eventually I would hit several crises points in my life, ONE would be “where do I fit in?” I had to find my place in the community and that took two years upon beginning University. I remember sitting in Donald’s office asking the all important question: “I don’t know where I fit in and I have one foot in the South and one foot in the North – I don’t know where I should be?”

He was always apt to tell me these key words:

“If you find yourself in between and you can’t decide where to go or move, then sit where you are and survey all that you see before you. FEEL your feelings and get in touch with your dis-ease with where you are. Consult your map and ask your questions of the people on the path, then when you are ready, plot your next step, but not before you are sure of your footing.”

I met a man of faith in the Chaplaincy office. I was a man of faith and I was sure in my faith as any other man or woman was. The one difference? I was a sure gay man living with AIDS. I made no excuses and expected no special treatment, just love and acceptance, which I found in Fr. Ray Lafontaine. Still to this day, as a fellow Christian and Catholic priest in my life, he challenges me in my faith to find the answers for myself.
I attended his church at Loyola on Sunday evenings. And that worked for me because there were others like me in the church and we were all accepted.

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That haze of Summer lasted for two years. In that time I started working on my religious beliefs. And I maintained my sobriety by attending meetings in the basements of many of Montreal’s most beautiful churches. When Father Ray was moved to St. Monica’s church and new priestly blood was flushed into the chapel, I met my faith match…

Having been singled out over my marriage to my husband and the vile words shared with me by the existing chaplain of the University, I walked away from Church once and for all. Although when Fr. Ray and Fr. Paul said mass, I would always attend.

Having studied religion for so many years of my life, and having lived with AIDS for so many years, I knew several things. 1. I knew who God was. 2. I knew who God is not. and 3. I knew who I trusted to support me in my faith journey.

I have been separated from Church for a long time now. It took the invitation of friends to attend a mass said by the Very Reverend Gene Robinson in the Summer of 2006 at Christ Church Cathedral to seriously contemplate a return to Church. In 2003 I was married in the very Catholic Space at Loyal, much to the consternation of Georges Pelletier. We did it just to make a statement of faith, because the entire Loyola community was there to stand with us and profess our faith and love before our families, friends and God himself.

The only time I ever walked into a church, during my time in the field, was with my Great Aunt Georgette, may she rest in peace… I would pray in the mother house chapel with her and I would attend mass there as well. The last time I attended mass in the Mother House Chapel was the day we buried her in August of 2006.

I would never walk into another Catholic Church after her funeral. Although I still maintain a working relationship with men of Catholic faith, I don’t go to mass in the Catholic Church. The other day that marked a change in my Catholic belief system was the day that the Late Pontiff John Paul II died, and I attended mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

You see, while I was studying Religion in university, I was studying my past, making peace with it and learning why things happened the way they did for me, and I was afforded this historical review because of the professors that I studied with for the last four years. I polished my religious skills and I mastered my Christian faith.

I was getting sober in church basements and I was ministering to people in the field. I never walked away from God again. I knew better, and he would always wait for me to find Him. Some of you know about the last five years. Some of you sought me out from the field for spiritual guidance. And I was there for you without question.

I always knew where God resided within me. I knew where to find God, outside myself. I can walk into any church in the city and talk to God. And I can talk to God at any given moment of my day or night, because I have built a temple of God within me.

We are all temples of the spirit of God. Most of us do not know this truth. So I share it with you now. We are all created in the image of God, and therefore we carry the image of God within us. We are walking talking miracles of God’s love and grace. My garden of faith is Eden within me. And I share that garden with anyone who wants to come and walk amongst the flowers. I do not need a building or the perfect church to settle my restless heart.

I’ve spent the last five years searching for God in the sacred churches of Montreal. He was always there where ever I looked for Him. As for the perfect church? You will never find it, because of the true nature of men and women. Humans are imperfect sinners who need to be taught what is right from wrong. And those who come to church already have their preconceived notions of who their God is, and what they will be willing to accept, in the way of Christian teachings, dogma and practice.

So take a church full of imperfect humans and ask them to build for you the perfect church! With all the heads buzzing in the church, each with their notions of church and God, and what do you have? A room full of buzzing heads, who could not agree on what they would call church, and I am sure that their conception will not be what you had in mind either. The perfect church does not and will never exist…

Where did Jesus do his best work? In the field, over dinner in sinners houses. Working with the homeless and the poor and sick. How many times does Jesus step into a church in biblical writing? And what does he say about the ‘church?’ What would he say about all of the terrible incarnations of Church we have today – in the world?

I do believe that God and Jesus weep at the way Christianity is lived out in the millions of lives of people around the globe. We know the scripture, we know the reason yet we can’t see past the noses on our faces and we cannot take the plank out of our own eyes before we try to help another, so what does that say about active Christianity???

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I’ve been in the process of Spiritual direction for some time now, ever since coming to Montreal many years ago. I have sought the advice of many people over the years. And I work with others “in the field” every day…

Where is my “Church?” If I had to give you an address, that would be the Christ Church Cathedral because the bishop has said to the LGBT community that we are just as important to the church as any one else. That he supports us and wants us to participate in community and be active participants in our own faith. I am 40 now, and I have my morals, beliefs and values, and if I choose to leave the Catholic faith based on principle I can do that today, because of the certainty of WHO I am and What my faith means to me, because I am ‘out of communion’ with Benedict’s Church, and I can live with that today.

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But I don’t need a building to worship God. I don’t need the perfect church to teach me God’s word. I don’t need the perfect minister to keep me on the path of Godly living. Why, you ask? Because I can do all these things on my own. I celebrate my Christianity every day through prayer, word and action. I live my faith – therefore it is in front of me every day for all to see. I practice my faith. I talk the talk and I walk the walk, daily…

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This is not a task I ask you to ponder on your own and it is not for the feint of heart either. But in order to build your inner church, you must start with a foundation, a garden. Mark out the space in your heart. Till the soil and plant your seeds. Give them plenty of water and sunlight and then pray over them…

We each have the capability to till our own gardens of faith within us. Because until you have a strong garden of faith within you, will you be able to find a church that will serve you, because without the understanding and cultivation of your own garden, do you remove the judgments within your heart of men and ministry.

If you are looking for the perfect minister of Christ, he will not appear, save Christ himself. We are flawed human beings, and therefore we must understand that and with that knowledge we can better serve the community at large, and if we able to serve the community at large, we can then see God for ourselves where ever we go, and in whatever church we visit.

The best work of the field is done in the most imperfect churches, because most people know that perfection is unattainable. Your Heavenly Father is perfect, so we have every ability to be as perfect as our heavenly father is perfect. But that will take a lifetime to achieve.

In order to find church outside of you, you must first build church within yourself. You must find your definition of God, you must let your faith garden grow. You must be strong in your faith because without strong inner faith, you will not have strong outer faith for community. Without using the gardening tools that God has given you, how can you practice your faith? You must find Sacred Space within yourself, and you must build sacred space for yourself, while you are in the field.

Because, what good would looking for the perfect Church do for you, if you do not have a handle on your own inner faith to begin with??? Build your inner church and invite God to inhabit your sacred space. Get to know this God of your own understanding. There are certain things a Christian must do every day…

 

  • Read Scripture every day
  • You must Pray every day
  • You must Meditate every day
  • You must Actively Practice your Faith every day

Because the simple act of prayer – asking God for those things that weigh heavily on our hearts, must be followed up with a period of silent “Listening” for God’s voice to speak to you. Because sometimes we get the answer… ‘keep praying, not today, NO!’ Cookie cutter Christianity is too easy. You must live your faith actively in community, that is one sure way to find Jesus in the field.

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Start with your garden
Plant it, Till it, and let it grow
Listen to your heart song
and share it with the world
Take off the blinders on your eyes
and see the world in its imperfect state
Find Christ in the field and walk with Him
talk the talk and walk the walk
practice your faith in ACTION
in time your heart will soften
and you will see God
and you will find that

‘Perfect Church’

is but
‘Perfect Union with Christ’

AND

One day
A church will find its way to you

Because you will be ready to serve…


Montreal archbishop seeks end to cemetery strike

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Cardinal Jean-Claude Turcotte speaks to the media Monday morning clarifying his position.

This situation is a travesty. And workers that have been on strike, need to return to work and clean up this MESS of a cemetery and bury the Hundreds of dead now being stored on the property in the buildings and refrigerated trucks. These workers have no respect for the dead nor do they respect our community! It is time to get back to work and get this situation taken care of before Winter sets in on us.  

CTV.ca News Staff

Montreal’s Roman Catholic archbishop has called out for an end to the labour dispute that has crippled a major cemetery’s operations.

“I have no button that I can push to say you get there, you get there, I have the power to bring understanding in a difficult situation,” Cardinal Jean-Claude Turcotte told the media on Monday.

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About 500 bodies remain unburied in a refrigerated cemetery vault at Notre-Dame-des-Neiges because of the lockout.

All burials have been put on hold since May 16, when about 130 cemetery employees were locked out, prompting a strike.

The union and families have asked Turcotte to intervene on more than one occasion but the archbishop has said he does not have the power to meddle in a labour dispute.

“I have been asked to intervene and I must remind everyone that I can not do so,” said Turcotte in a press release dated Aug. 2.

“It is true that the law confers a certain number of powers to the bishop. However, the cemetery remains under the administration and management of the fabrique whose property it is.”

Citing a legal act governing cemetery management, Turcotte said the autonomy of administrators is required.

Turcotte still decided to meet with the families to speak with them about their ordeal.

Debra de Thomassis, a woman who has been waiting to bury her grandmother and is spearheading a class-action lawsuit against the cemetery to get it working again, said the families were asked questions.

“He basically asked us how we were feeling, how we came upon to be stuck in this conflict,” she said. “He totally understands out position and is with us all the way.

“I think he decided to get involved because he needed to let everybody know what was his real position, what were his real powers,” she continued. “He doesn’t necessarily have the powers to go into the management of the administration but he certainly has the power to let them know his position.”

The families also asked if the archbishop could work out a deal where they could have a requiem and see their loved ones one more time. De Thomassis said the archbishop is looking into it.

The union has said it will not return to work until at least some of its demands are met.

According to management, salaried employees currently make an average annual income of $49,000, while seasonal workers make $27,000.

The union is demanding improvements in five key areas:

  • A defined benefit pension plan, in which workers can acquire previous years of service;
  • A four-day work week;
  • An increase in the number of weeks available to seasonal workers from 26 to 36;
  • Greater departure allowances; and

    Limiting the use of subcontracting

They have been without a contract since 2003.

With a report from CTV Montreal’s Annie DeMelt


Ministry

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“He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8

I never thought that doing something good for another would turn around and bite me in the ass. Christian ministry and emergent churches are the new faces of Christian worship and ministry. What I am is immaterial to Who I am. In the past few months as my degree was conferred to me by a University, I was thrust into a position of ministry leadership, not by my own choice, but by popular acclimation of the group who thought that I was the most logical person to lead them, in the wake of a colleague dying.

I have been working in my field here in Montreal for over five years. I work with the addicts, the alcoholics, the sick and the dying. I have probably spent more years in the ACTIVE practice of Christian Charity longer than most of you would even care to consider. When my friends were all dying of AIDS who do you think ministered to their souls, took care of their physical bodies, fed and bathed them and in the end buried them when parents of Christian faith walked out on them and left them in the streets to die alone!

My work was something that my peers and my supporters highly encouraged. I looked all over the world for the model that I would adopt to begin my work here. That church was RE:HOPE in Glasgow.

Let me stop for a moment and say this loud and clear. Just because I am a gay man, does not infer that any people I choose to support, or pray for, or attempt to raise funds for, speaks of the sexual orientation of anyone. There are straight writers on this blog and there are gay writers. They all have good messages and are people that I respect and admire. We all learn from each other.

So I know that RE:HOPE is trying to raise 12,000 GBP for their trip to the Holy Land this fall and I went OUT of my way to try and help them, because it was an easy choice and it was the right choice. I used the term “Partnered” and that has come back to me also.

You may not agree with some of my theology, and the obvious sane fact that I am a gay man of faith – speaks of just how much work I have done in 40 years of life to find my way through Christianity and Catholicism. I take what is good and I leave what is bad.’

Christianity isn’t perfect, and it is truly flawed. But Christ is perfect in his simplicity and direct in his message. People are flawed too in their beliefs and theology. People are imperfect yet God is perfect…

People have commented and Scott has commented about my choice of words and today he writes me to admonish me and to tell me about being careful of what I write, I got that.

What troubled me more – and to the point that – because I am a gay man in Ministry, some have gone as far as to question the sexual orientation of Scott Burns. I have to say that I am disgusted by this little piece of information. Don’t people have better things to do with their time than to wonder about the sexual orientation of people? Have we not grown past this little issue? Are we all adults here?

I’ve never met Scott, but I believe in his ministry. Enough to put my own reputation and this blog on the line in the sense of credibility and respect. So what, I am Gay and Scott is not? Does my support of his ministry automatically make him gay or make him suspect? Have we backtracked that much in the year 2007, that doing good Christian work comes with parameters and judgments by some? Of course it does, I should know that.

All of you out there are Christianity Majors and have decades of Christian study and worship under your belts, right? All of you have spent years in University studying Church history, Christian History and Christian Origins. right??? And all of you have spent time in a Catholic Seminary in the pursuit of priesthood as well, I suppose?

I do not make choices rashly or out of one side of my brain. You may not agree with my stance of Church, and you can question my “take” on Christian Theology. I have spent over 20 years of my life studying religion, in seminary and in University so I do know much more about church and Christianity, than the run of the mill lay person or arm chair Christian.

Living with AIDS – over 14 years now gives me certain understanding of what charity and forgiveness and true unconditional Christian love is. I know what doing the right thing is, if you lived with the threat of death every day of your life, knowing just what is going to kill you and how, you either do one of two things, you find FAITH fast or you give up and die.

I took the high road. Seeking ministers, priests and bishops who were accommodating and understanding. I am part of the Anglican faith now because I was told, unequivocally that the Montreal Diocese agrees with the blessing of Same Sex unions. I, in fact, am Married, and have been for now three years. We had a United Church wedding before God and our families.

So if you have a question about my Christian faith – You Ask Me! If you have a problem with me You Tell Me.

I cannot believe that trying to help another ministry would come back with questions, inferences and disagreements. I love it when people come to read, and many do each day. I reach out to millions with this blog, we have even saved a few lives here and there with the work that we do here.

All my kids and my peers and supporters who are part of this ministry are straight. One of them is in Seminary this fall. NONE of them question my ability to serve based on my sexual orientation. My exploration of faith has brought me to this point. And I will even go so far as to say that I probably have a better Christian practice than most of you out there, because you have to deal with doctrine, theology and teaching.

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I study Theology and though I may not agree with it, and for the most part I do not agree with any church that limits its membership to those who believe and are straight from those who believe and are gay. I have struggled with this issue for the whole of my life. And I have made peace with it.

I CAN reconcile being Gay and Being Christian, IF You CANNOT then that is your issue, not mine.

I do what I am called to do. I serve where I am called to serve. And I love unconditionally because I am commanded TO! I read scripture too and those six references to same sex, homosexuality and sleeping with a man as to a woman are all scriptures that I have spent a great deal of time, during my studies, trying to understand. I don’t think that you have spent as much time studying scripture as I have in 25 years.

Nobody has the right to judge what kind of Christian I am – or question the ministry that I work with. The reason that we have emergent churches and church plants and Christian ministries popping up all over the world is in response to the way Christianity has played out over the centuries. Nobody is pleased or agrees with the model we have, so we set out and create our own. I have done that after reaching the conclusion after prayer, study and academic work to know that Church Christianity will not work for me – it never has.

I have been a Catholic all of my life, I spent a year in a Catholic Seminary as well and I left because I would not serve Man and also because I was not a pedophile and I was not going to spend another year keep secrets for my fellows and the Catholic administration.

The members of the Anglican faith, here in Montreal, have been planting seeds in my heart for a year. They allowed me to come and go as I please. And they loved me unconditionally. And now I have made a conscious choice to become part of the Anglican communion because the Bishop himself has given the LGBT community a green light in his church. I have already written about this.

Can a Gay Man be spiritually centered – Yes of course he can. Can a gay man lead a church, Many do, quietly. I can tell you how many gay priests we have in Montreal and how many are open about it and they still have parishes and communities. I can tell you that I know a handful of Christian Ministers who will speak on my behalf and tell you that I am as true to Christian faith as I can be.

I hook up with a church I see does good work and I try to style a ministry by its example, maybe partner wasn’t the right term but still, I pray for that community and I work for the betterment of that community and I work tirelessly trying to help them.

I write letters to my supporters on my time to help You, and I get a letter of “this weighs on my heart too much” ok, that’s your issue not mine. I was just trying to help you out of a situation that you placed yourself in, then you wrote about it and asked for help, how many of us listened to you and went out of their way to help you???

And I am admonished for doing something charitable and good. I am told that Some do not agree with my theology! That’s your issue not mine. Some do not agree that a Gay man can be a good example to the people he leads, because of the inherent problem with being gay!

I will tell you here and now that sexual practice in my marriage is between ME – MY GOD and My Husband, and nobody else. Go read my writings on the Sacred and the Profane. Maybe you will learn something about how much I respect the two states of grace. You cannot have the Sacred without the Profane, because they inform each other.

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They are married in a coexistence of grace.

 

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I would like to know from you, my readers just what objections you have to what I am, Who I am and what I choose to do for a living? I put those buttons on my blog because the ministries that are there need support either financially or Spiritually. I won’t make that mistake again…

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I choose to support the needs of many and they should be grateful that a stranger would put himself out there to help another human being because he believes in the ministry of Christ. So until further notice I will remove all connection and fund raising for any ministry accept my own.

If you cannot understand what it really means to be a Christian and you can’t accept that maybe a Gay man with religious leanings, a full degree in Christian Religion Study and a further pursuance of a Pastoral Ministry Degree in Theology can lead and be a good example and a wise leader, then I invite you to be on your way.

Don’t waste another moment reading here and please, do us all a favor, do not return to this place, because we have no use for you either.

Yesterday I turned forty years old, and I had my own issues with faith, life and death, but to receive a letter of concern, admonishment and as I read it a separation in Theology and Christian faith practice insulted me. And to know that people who have come by here have questioned the dignity of another minister AND question his Sexual Orientation just because his visage and ministry appeared on the side bar of this blog made me sick to my stomach. I thought we were all adults here and that we were grown up enough to lay down our judgments and issues for the shared communion of Christianity. I guess I was mistaken.

Like I said, if you’ve got a problem with me, that is Your Problem not mine. If you don’t have the balls to approach me and state your case, that is also your problem not mine. If you question the way I practice my Christianity, that is also your problem, not mine.

If you do not know enough to understand that I have struggled with Christianity for the whole of my life and that I probably know MORE about the intricacies and minutiae of Christianity than you do – that’s not my problem.

God speaks to me – and he knows I am Gay, He also knows I am HIV positive, so do all my kids, my friends, my peers, and even my husband. They all love me just the same. God Loves me Unconditionally. There is no separation between God and Myself.

I don’t have time to sit here and write sermons like this and justify why I can practice Christian faith because of …. to you. I don’t need to. You can sit your happy ass down and write me and tell me of your concerns with my theology and practice and if I feel moved I will write you back, or even take the time to embarrass myself in front of you by writing a rant like this one again!

I know a lot more about Christian Theological issues than you might think. I have battled with the best and the brightest when it comes to theological and ministerial discussion. And we agree to disagree. The Catholic Church allows me access to the sacraments because it is a RITE of my Catholic upbringing, I was baptized into the church and in all my years only ONE priest saw fit to condemn me openly and with that condemnation he lost his parish and his people, they all left his church! In the Anglican faith I am in full communion with the Bishop’s church and it is high about time. God WEEPS at the intolerance and judgment of Christians all over the world. And we pray for them just the same.

I have studied Papal History and I continue “on my time” to further that theological education outside the classroom. I know all about the Churches laws and decrees, I have studied at great length – the life of John Paul II one of the most important Popes in Modern History second only to John XXIII. I don’t agree with all of his writing, especially about women, birth control, homosexuality and assorted other dimensions of his writing, but you must admit that in the hallowed darkness of his chapel the Pope begged God for forgiveness for some of what he did in public, forced to speak so many words at the consternation of the Holy See and those Bishops and Cardinals who were close to the See of Peter. So I know all of your arguments.

Christianity MUST evolve or else crumble in the ruins of its own intolerance and judgmentalism and condemnations. The Church must change to accommodate the many people who have grown up in a faith and as adults we are divided from the faith because of the stance of those conservative men in certain positions. The curret Pope Benedict will never earn my allegiance or respect, because he is a dog of a man. HE is responsible for much of what John Paul II wrote as he was the man in the position of keeper of the doctrine of the faith, now he is Pope, God help us all…

Faith for me as a gay HIV Positive man is cut and dry. You do good for others, and you love others and you maintain a humble presence in the world and you do no harm. I think that this simple theological model works. Don’t quote me mumbo jumbo theological ideas because all the theology in the world will not change the man I am today and what I choose to do with my life.

Theology is too wrapped up in rules and dogma. I am wrapped up in simple Christian faith for simple Christian people. Faith is simple. Talking the talk is one thing, Walking the Walk is surely another. I can do both – I can talk the talk and I do walk the walk. You ask any of my people about what I do day in and day out, and just how much of my time I spend helping others because I am called to do that and I am sure you would be pleasantly surprised. Men of faith should be this “giving” of their time and talent for the little pittance I make in return. I work my ass off to the bone day and night, I write, I work with others because work was done for me when I needed it to. Ministry is not just about preaching the Gospel to people, but getting down in the gutter with them. How many Christians get out there and really get their hands dirty? Not Many.

So I see a group that gets their hands dirty and I start talking them up and I pray for them and I try to raise funds for them. I do that for my group too. All is not words and bible, show me the money at the end of the day – I don’t make nearly enough to support my house yet, and I have another 18 months to go before I hit my Masters and Pastoral ordination, but I am in the field, I have been in the field for years.

I have been a Christian presence in my Gay Community since I was a young boy, And I was in the trenches when Christians were fleeing like in the exodus from infected sons, daughters and children. I stuck and stayed. I raised money, stood in picket lines and I was there through the worst time when Christians turned their back on men and women who were sick and dying. I WAS THERE! I cannot tell you the countless and thankless hours that I spent in service to my community because NOBODY else would dare touch us or help us. So speak to me about active Christian Ministry. Tell me you know from what people like me lived through in our own lives! Tell me you know the words that self righteous Christians used to condemn people and people lost their jobs, apartments, lovers, family and friends. Were you there?

I can tell you about Christian families that THREW their sons on the STREET, Churches who REFUSED to perform funerals, Christian men and women who worked in funeral homes that REFUSED to process AIDS infected dead boys and men.

This is a double sided issue. Men acted with one another. Men did what they did. Do we condemn them as well? They are all DEAD and I am still alive, so God in his wisdom still sees good in me to fill my lungs with air and gives me life each day. I know how I was infected. I was trying to help another sick soul who LIED to me and then killed himself and I found out After the fact!! So fuck me right? I got what was coming to me right? I was a sinner just like the others. So fuck us !!! right??

Good Christian men kept me alive when all I wanted to do was die already. They believed I had a place in God’s kingdom, even if we did not go to any certain church. I learned Christian Charity from the best. I learned what Jesus meant by Loving others as I loved myself the hard way. I had no choice because good upstanding self righteous Christians could not stomach the horror and filth – the sickness and death. Yet, they could walk into church on Sunday’s and quote scripture and condemn from their Holy Pulpits and pews, UGH it makes me SICK to think about the past…

I can tell you that some of us angry gay men who were Christians who went to school  to become morticians so that they could start funeral parlors to give our friends proper burials and I know renegade priests who WOULD perform funerals for us and the minions of people who worked behind the scenes behind the Christian iron curtain who DID walk the walk when we needed it.

I can also tell you about cemetery workers who refused to dig graves and those religious men who stood in the way of us burying those people in hallowed graves. Shall I continue? I can tell you about ministers, Christian ministers TODAY who still condemn us. And you want me to follow their theology?

I think Not!! 

And I know good Christian people who loved me when my parents disavowed me and wrote me off as infected goods. I was not immune to judgment and condemnation. I got it from my own family which speaks to the effect that my family has no role or place in my life today – and I am 40 years old and I am still here writing this story.

I was there with Jesus, changing diapers, cleaning up shit and puke and feeding people – And I sat with them until they died, while Christians all over the world sat on their tuffets condemning us and alienating and judging us and telling us that

“AIDS was God’s punishment for our sinful lifestyles.”

I SPIT on the people who did that and I will SPIT on whomever says that to me today.

And God WEPT!!!

Christians could learn from the ministerial work we did in the trenches when it really mattered. So nobody owns the right to judge or critique my Christian life, ministry, theology or practice. Because when I take my last breath – it will then be God and I in a discussion of life review and I know for sure that he will look at me and say:

“Well done, good and faithful servant!”

1 Corinthians Chapter 13:1-3

“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.”

Deuteronomy Chapter 6:4-7

Hear, Israel: Yahweh is our God; Yahweh is one, and you shall love Yahweh your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. These words, which I command you this day, shall be on your heart; and you shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise up.

End of Sermon…


The Birthday Boys !! July 31st !!

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Yo Yo Yo – Happy Birthday to US.

Harry Potter was born on July 31st Too!!


OUTMASS 2007 at Christ Church Cathedral

The 2007

 

O U T M A S S

Christ Church Cathedral

635 Rue Ste. Catherines

Montreal

Saturday July 28, 2007

 

at 7:00 p.m.

Bring a friend and celebrate!!!

The Reverend Canon Joyce Sanchez will be Officiating

and the Bishop will be giving the sermon.

If you are in Montreal for Pride, please join us.

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OUT MASS 2006 with the V. Rev Bishop Gene Robinson
of New Hampshire…


Homeless, Hungry, Drunk and High …

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This is Cabot Square – and the Children’s Hospital to the Left of frame.

I guess I am not a thinker, by the standards of some. There are blogs that I read that put my writing of certain subjects to shame. I cannot tell you of the forest or the trees, the birds or the animals, the river or the trail.

I don’t talk about heavy metal drinking and the stupid things I did last weekend so that my friends can read just how much of an insane member of society that I really am. I have my own insanity in my sobriety. And just because I am sober, did not make it all better as I mentioned earlier tonight.

What can I tell you that would make you think? If you walk out the front doors of my building you face the BattleNet 24 Internet Gaming Station. They are always open and never close. There are three radio stations in the building that this cafe is located on the ground floor. The Towers, as I call it is a North – South facing building. We are an East – West facing building.

You cannot walk 50 paces in any direction from this building and NOT run into a busker looking for food, money and beer. There are two pubs located within 200 yards of our front door, and one karaoke bar with pool tables. Our Asian community loves karaoke. I live in what we call the Concordia ghetto area, since we are only a few blocks from campus.

There is an architecture museum across the street on Rene Levesque above the tunnel that I have visited before, when they had an open house and also they had a wonderful Expo ’67 exhibit on the anniversary.

There are 20 churches within walking distance of my home. Pentecostal, Evangelical, Catholic (French) and Catholic (English), Bethel Baptist and Franciscan friary that is due to be closed right around the corner from here.

Are you thinking yet? This will get your juices pumping… I wrote it some time ago on another blog I owned.

A fellow is dealing with the “homeless” factor in his ministry of life. And so I left him some words of advice, But I don’t know how else to tell you this, but share with you Montreal‘s daily ritual.

We have recycling posts (street collecting boxes – that have since been removed in opt for recycling in the stores primarily) all over the city where the homeless go and collect cans and bottles from these depots and they go to the grocery stores to exchange their “returnables” for more beer and wine money. They troll the kiosks and metro platforms and street garbage cans for returnable merchandise day and night. They ride the metro from one end of the city to the other every night. The stores will not sell beer and liquor after 11 pm to stem the problem. In Ontario you cannot buy liquor or beer on Sundays, but in Quebec you can.

So the tide of homeless drunks starts to rise as the stores open and they “stock up” for the morning. Downstairs on the corner (just outside) my front door they sit on the corner begging drugs and money. Out front of the grocery store and on every street corner and in the spaces in between, they sit like hookers who have claimed their spot on the sidewalk.

They are all over the place, “Literally!”

You cannot walk 50 feet in any direction in Downtown Montreal and not get begged for cash or food. Or smell POT in the air from the street kids!!! The kiosks are even worse. One cannot get through the door with out passing by someone sitting IN the doorway where you have to navigate around them, or find them sleeping, “Sprawled out” across the floor in doorways drunk and comatose!

They piss in the kiosks, they throw up on the floors, they beat each other up, and the men are “PIMPING” the women, so you see there is a whole “other” dynamic.

At night, as the evening “MEETINGS” commence they wait like buzzards for free coffee and what ever food is set out for the attendees. And they become belligerent and vocal and VIOLENT towards the people who want a cup of coffee and a cookie because that’s why we have coffee and cookies to help calm them down( the people in recovery). We have decided not to engage the homeless any longer and the city wide “homeless” directors (there are they in Montreal) men who run in homeless circles, powerless to affect change because people are set in their ways.

We have missions in town here that specialize in the feeding and housing of homeless people, every day and every night. The first problem is the sheer NUMBERS of homeless people who have migrated East from the west and up from the U.S. and down from the North, Yes, it IS a very sad reality.

There are natives who are stuck in the divide between their leaving their reservations for the bright big city, they don’t make it and end up hooking and begging in the park, they become addicted, well most are already addicted to something or other, when they get here, and they never return to their homes for fear of persecution and alienation, so they sit in the parks all day and night and troll the strip here in Downtown for cash. They are violent and painfully in trouble with each other. Come sit in Cabot Square with me and watch. It is truly sad.

IN the WINTER when the temps drop to (-20 C ) and farther, the homeless think that they can sleep in the kiosks because of the warmth of the trains, think again. They lock the kiosks at night and the homeless end up on the streets in doorways and under bridges and such. The missions go out with buses trying to get them off the street before they freeze to death. Some don’t make it and invariably, we loose a number of homeless people each Winter.

It is a rude saying, but, If you feed a stray animal they will continue returning to eat as long as food is available. And you know what that means. You will be spending allot of money on a problem that will not go away because of their lack of ability to get off the street and societies apathy to step up and help them as a community! “Oh, but it’s NOT our problem!”

Yes it is and no it’s not.

By whatever default – people end up homeless out of one circumstance or another. NOW, the reality is, DO they want off the street, if you ask any of them here, they will say NO!! So they choose to stay on the street, when they know that help is available and rehabilitation is possible.

Most of our homeless population will not ask for help, (the natives by example). They are a sad lot. Drunk, Addicted, Violent and Doomed by Default. Montrealer’s are FED UP with the population of homeless who have overtaken the streets and green spaces and Metro Kiosks. And the city does SQUAT!! They do nothing, they see nothing, they say nothing.

So what can we do as a religious body, to feed, clothe and assist the homeless, NOT Very Much.

It is a long standing problem with no city wide attention, as of yet. Most Christian people can talk the talk, but they cannot talk the talk and walk the walk for fear of being seen doing something that Jesus would have done, to go out on a Sunday and minister to the poor. Only one man I know did that from Dans le Rue – and he retired and moved away and someone else is taking care of his kids now.

Oh what would their friend and family say if they were seen cavorting with homeless people, God forbid they follow you home! or what happens if you get attacked by one on a bad day or night? Dealing with the homeless here is a dicey business, you never know when one will try to beat you up or stab you for some cash or drugs for their next fix. A homeless person is not above violence. Especially when it comes to jonesing off of drugs. That is for sure on any Saturday night or the full moon.

The “soup truck” cavorts through downtown daily feeding the multitude of young people who hang out at the Berri Metro selling drugs and hooking and such. It is very sad, that if you walk through the village on any corner at any time, they sit there, in their leather and spikes, boots and makeup, with their placards begging for food.

Some of our homeless populations are handicapped (in wheelchairs) and some of our young people have PETS!!! YES dogs and some have more than one. SO it is not only a feed the human story, it is a FEED THE PET AND THE HUMAN STORY!!!

How do we help them, well one at a time, rehabilitation is possible but at the end of the day it is useless. They stay on the streets because they know no different. The shelters and feeding stations are powerless and TOO POOR to feed the multitudes because the city won’t fund the missions and shelters. So individual churches go out and try to make a dent in the sea of the hungry and downtrodden, but alas, they are too numerous and we are too powerless to help so many who are in need.

The worlds poor, are rising in number and dying by the thousands daily in 3rd world and poorer countries, they are dying in the big cities, unnoticed by the daily hum and ritual of every day life and the business of work and survival.

Think before you put yourself out there and try to tackle a cities homeless problem, it takes alot of work, money, food and prayer. And not to mention Fortitude. I am all for helping the homeless, but I know how to pick my battles wisely. I don’t mean to sound so discouraging, but this is the reality in my big city!!

No one is immune to the homeless – we are called to share and to give – but when is enough enough?? If i gave a quarter to every homeless person I saw on the street every day, I would have NO money to feed myself on a daily basis.

THERE ARE JUST TOO MANY OF THEM TO COUNT AND HELP!!

What the saddest fact is in the homeless populations here are the women who have young children, and are on the streets. Just at Cabot square, the mothers work the Upper kiosk at the top of the escalators, and their kids beg at the bottom of the escalators. Junkie mothers with kids in tow, is terribly disturbing, Along with their “pimps” who abuse both the children and the mothers!!

What the fuck is that ??? And we are powerless to change them. Because they are stuck. There are NOT enough resources to help them off the street, get them into rehabs (waiting lists are 6 to 8 months in Quebec) and who is gonna take the children? Like family services has the ability to care for every homeless child and young person on the street? NO!!

There are natives from the many reservations and Inuit locales at all points North. They come to have their children cared for at the Children’s hospital right up the street from here. They pile out of vans, buses and cars. Some are transient and some are better off than others. When a native leaves their reservation in Quebec, it is every man and woman for themselves. Nobody gives a shit. And if they do not assimilate, they end up in a park and on the street, because they get “hooked on whatever” and they don’t repatriate.

There is – along Ste. Catherines Street a city block long mural on the wood that barricades the burned out and empty buildings that LITTER the West end of Downtown like broken defunct sentinels of lore. If you walk from here to Alexis Nihon Plaza, there are Inuit women who are vicious, belligerent, and sometimes violent. If you pass them by when they are drunk and high they swear obscenities at passersby.

They accost people for smokes and money. They are there, in the same spots day in day out… Because they have no place else to go. Cabot Square in the locale in my neighborhood where all native peoples gather. It is a rallying point for the “troops” so to speak. I pass homeless kids in front of the grocery store and I buy them cooked and prepared foods from the deli. We don’t give the kids cash, but we feed them. But they choose to stay on the street, so what are we supposed to do?

We write about these issues and nothing gets done, and I am not a rich aristocrat with money who is sitting on the land on the West end, and developers have not been able to get the land released for development. If it DID get released, we could clean up this end of the city and make it beautiful. But all we see when we walk down the street is hungry, homeless, drunk and high folk, and the burned out decrepit buildings that haven’t seen life in over a decade. The mayor does nothing…

Politics and Crime…

I could go on and on and on… But you get the picture.

If cities and local governments do nothing as they always have, this problem will continue. Until the Worlds governments take a BIG LONG LOOK at the homeless and hungry populations and they DO something concrete to stop it, we will be having this conversation until we all die.

This is a world wide problem, and no you are not alone in your quest to be Jesus, but I know that Jesus is not a “half measure” kind of man, so pick your battles wisely. Mark Kelly from CBC News did a “Seven Series Report” here in Montreal on the homeless last Winter, did it do any good for the city? Not One Bit.

The shelters are still overflowing and they can’t help everyone that Montreal calls homeless and destitute. I know a man who comes to my meeting. He’s been in the program longer than I’ve been in Montreal (now almost 7 years) and he is homeless and prefers the shelter to a life. I look at him and he still doesn’t get it but who am I to judge?

Sometimes the disenfranchised are hopeless which is sad, because I have come so far in the last six years, but many are still where I found them so long ago.

And that is sad…

 


Daniel Radcliffe's Birthday today !!

phoenix2.jpg

LONDON (Reuters) –

Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe gains access to a reported 20 million pounds ($40 million) fortune when he turns 18 on Monday, but he insists the money won’t cast a spell on him.

To the disappointment of gossip columnists around the world, the young actor says he has no plans to fritter his cash away on fast cars, drink and celebrity parties.

“I don’t plan to be one of those people who, as soon as they turn 18, suddenly buy themselves a massive sports car collection or something similar,” he told an Australian interviewer earlier this month. “I don’t think I’ll be particularly extravagant.

“The things I like buying are things that cost about 10 pounds — books and CDs and DVDs.”

At 18, Radcliffe will be able to gamble in a casino, buy a drink in a pub or see the horror film “Hostel: Part II,” currently six places below his number one movie on the UK box office chart.

Details of how he’ll mark his landmark birthday are under wraps. His agent and publicist had no comment on his plans.

“I’ll definitely have some sort of party,” he said in an interview. “Hopefully none of you will be reading about it.”

Radcliffe’s earnings from the first five Potter films have been held in a trust fund which he has not been able to touch.

Despite his growing fame and riches, the actor says he is keeping his feet firmly on the ground.

“People are always looking to say ‘kid star goes off the rails,”‘ he told reporters last month. “But I try very hard not to go that way because it would be too easy for them.”

His latest outing as the boy wizard in “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” is breaking records on both sides of the Atlantic and he will reprise the role in the last two films.

There is life beyond Potter, however.

The Londoner has filmed a TV movie called “My Boy Jack,” about author Rudyard Kipling and his son, due for release later this year. He will also appear in “December Boys,” an Australian film about four boys who escape an orphanage.

Earlier this year, he made his stage debut playing a tortured teenager in Peter Shaffer’s “Equus.”

Meanwhile, he is braced for even closer media scrutiny now that he’s legally an adult: “I just think I’m going to be more sort of fair game,” he told Reuters.

(Additional reporting by Mike Collett-White)


Daniel Radcliffe’s Birthday today !!

phoenix2.jpg

LONDON (Reuters) –

Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe gains access to a reported 20 million pounds ($40 million) fortune when he turns 18 on Monday, but he insists the money won’t cast a spell on him.

To the disappointment of gossip columnists around the world, the young actor says he has no plans to fritter his cash away on fast cars, drink and celebrity parties.

“I don’t plan to be one of those people who, as soon as they turn 18, suddenly buy themselves a massive sports car collection or something similar,” he told an Australian interviewer earlier this month. “I don’t think I’ll be particularly extravagant.

“The things I like buying are things that cost about 10 pounds — books and CDs and DVDs.”

At 18, Radcliffe will be able to gamble in a casino, buy a drink in a pub or see the horror film “Hostel: Part II,” currently six places below his number one movie on the UK box office chart.

Details of how he’ll mark his landmark birthday are under wraps. His agent and publicist had no comment on his plans.

“I’ll definitely have some sort of party,” he said in an interview. “Hopefully none of you will be reading about it.”

Radcliffe’s earnings from the first five Potter films have been held in a trust fund which he has not been able to touch.

Despite his growing fame and riches, the actor says he is keeping his feet firmly on the ground.

“People are always looking to say ‘kid star goes off the rails,”‘ he told reporters last month. “But I try very hard not to go that way because it would be too easy for them.”

His latest outing as the boy wizard in “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” is breaking records on both sides of the Atlantic and he will reprise the role in the last two films.

There is life beyond Potter, however.

The Londoner has filmed a TV movie called “My Boy Jack,” about author Rudyard Kipling and his son, due for release later this year. He will also appear in “December Boys,” an Australian film about four boys who escape an orphanage.

Earlier this year, he made his stage debut playing a tortured teenager in Peter Shaffer’s “Equus.”

Meanwhile, he is braced for even closer media scrutiny now that he’s legally an adult: “I just think I’m going to be more sort of fair game,” he told Reuters.

(Additional reporting by Mike Collett-White)