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Confronting Anti-Gay Anglicans at Lambeth Palace: A Fantasy Speech for Michael Curry

Joseph Kagunda, the Bishop of Mt. Kenya West, who has led an anti-Gay purge among his clergy.

Joseph Kagunda, Anglican Bishop of Mt. Kenya West, who has led an anti-Gay purge among his clergy.

When +Michael Curry, who becomes Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church two weeks from now, goes to the Anglican Primates’ Meeting at Lambeth Palace next January, I hope he’ll tell the African bishops this.

“You need to stop believing what the white man told you about Gay people. Just because the white man said it doesn’t make it true. It is a fact that the English clergy who came to Africa and brought you the Gospel – may their names be forever enshrined in heaven for it! – also brought with them the racism of England, the imperialism of England, the greed of England, the false ethnic superiority of England, and the homophobia of England.

“LGBTs represent no threat whatsoever to your culture, your churches, your families, your children, your survival or your prosperity.

“Nor is homosexuality a Western import, unknown to you prior to the arrival of the white man. Your own indigenous, homegrown, native LGBT community proves that. So does your own indigenous, homegrown, native LGBT history. In most of your clans, if not all of them, sexual variation was recognized for what it is – a phenomenon of nature, not of choice, a characteristic evidenced early in childhood, an intrinsic part of who that child is. Your cultures historically accepted this variation, they didn’t seek to destroy it.

“Every one of the native languages and dialects of Africa has a name for homosexual persons that predates colonialism. So stop saying it is a Western import. It’s not true, you know it’s not true, and so do your own people.

“Today you work in concert with your corrupt governments, armies and other institutions to scapegoat LGBTs, to distract your people from the real problems of poverty, lack of education, pollution and uneven economic development. Let me tell you, scapegoats are no more permissible today than they ever were in the Christian church. All people are sinners. Christ died for our sins. Do not seek to re-crucify him to enhance your own social prestige. He dined with tax collectors, prostitutes and sinners, including the likes of you and me. If he were here today he would surely dine with LGBTs and bring them the same kind of spiritual healing he brings to everyone else, Gay or Straight, black or white, male or female, slave or free, rich or poor.

“LGBTs do not need curing; they do not have a disease. They need the same human dignity we seek for all persons. And they need freedom from oppression and homophobia, brought to you by white fundamentalist Americans today as they were brought to you by white evangelical Englishmen in the 19th century.

“You are Africans. You are black. Think for yourselves, and put away the prejudices of your white conquerors, so that your nations, clans, families, citizens and churches can take their proud place in the world as persons entitled to the dignity God gave us all in creation and in our salvation.

“The same things you are saying about LGBTs today are what white Englishmen said about you 150 years ago; that you were morally inferior, dangerous and unworthy of freedom, and thus ripe for exploitation.

“Imitate Jesus, not those flawed but blessed saints who brought you their tainted version of him. Stop this persecution of those who are different from you. You don’t have to accept same-sex marriage, but you must stop the violence your governments, churches and clergy are committing against people every bit as capable of love as you are.

“And let us all remember that the greatest sin we can commit as bishops is discord, disunity and schism.

“Back off. Make peace, not war. Understand who your real enemies are, and be friends with those who offer you friendship and peace.”

I posted this on Facebook this afternoon, and some Episcopalians think I should send it to Bishop Curry. (One person called it condescending.) I don’t expect him to pull it out of his pocket and read it to the African bishops – he’s a gifted preacher and doesn’t need tips from me – but I do think it needs to be said in plain English.

It isn’t the whole story by any means; the three worst anti-Gay Anglican churches in Africa (Nigeria, Kenya and Uganda) are different nations with different histories, cultures and politics. But they have several things in common besides their homophobia; all are former British colonies, and all were taught Christianity in the 19th century by low-church, “evangelical” English missionaries. All three had homophobic laws imposed by their Anglo overlords – laws they now support more than the English do. All three Anglican national churches compete with Islam, Roman Catholicism and Pentecostalism, each one homophobic in turn.

I don’t expect any of these countries to “see the light,” make LGBT Pride Day a national holiday and embrace same-sex marriage. But it is reasonable to demand that their Anglican churches stop promoting anti-Gay violence, stop scapegoating and fear-mongering for political gain, and stop tearing apart the Anglican Communion over a triviality like Gay sex when their own citizens suffer such appalling poverty, insecurity and lack of resources.

Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, last year at Trinity Church, Wall Street, New York. (Richard Perry/The New York Times)

Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, last year at Trinity Church, Wall Street, New York. The parish largely finances the Anglican Communion. (Richard Perry/The New York Times)

I also think it’s time that Justin Welby and the Church of England be rebuked for cozying up to these violent Anglican bishops. He’s planning on recognizing anti-Gay American schismatics as a legitimate Anglican province and kicking the Episcopal Church to the curb – and he needs to be stopped.

He’s the ultimate target of my fantasy speech. Bishop Curry will be entering a minefield at Lambeth Palace just two months after taking office as the American Presiding Bishop, and I hope he doesn’t allow his own flock to be mistreated.

He will face a lot of pressure in London to be nice, speak diplomatically and turn the other cheek. I hope he understands that Jesus’s advice doesn’t apply in this situation. If he is personally snubbed, as Welby’s predecessor did to openly-Gay Bishop Gene Robinson (and the entire American Church) the last time, so be it. But +Michael doesn’t have the right to make every LGBT person in Africa, and every Episcopalian, be smited too.

We are counting on him to understand what he will face is a human rights issue more than a theological one, and to make no peace with oppression.

This Primates’ Meeting, full of brinksmanship engineered by Welby, is going to be a knife fight. I don’t want +Michael hurting anyone or being hurt himself – but he has no right to be passive when others try to shed our blood.

Jesus often fought with words; +Michael should too.++

Michael Curry, Episcopal Presiding Bishop-Elect, preaching this summer in Hayneville, Alabama at the 50th anniversary of the martyrdom of civil rights activist Jonathan Daniels, a seminarian. (Selma Times Journal)

Michael Curry, Episcopal Presiding Bishop-Elect, preaching this summer in Hayneville, Alabama at the 50th anniversary of the martyrdom of civil rights activist Jonathan Daniels, an Episcopal seminarian. (Selma Times Journal)

‘This Fragile Earth, Our Island Home’ and the Legacy of Howard E. Galley

Earth.space.com

This morning on Twitter I discovered that someone was trying to steal credit for the most distinctive phrase in the 1979 Book of Common Prayer.

It was an honest mistake and it’s since been corrected. But it was in an article by the official Episcopal News Service, and I couldn’t let it stand.

Howard E. Galley, Jr. wrote Eucharistic Prayer C late one night in 1974, upon returning to his office at the Episcopal Church Center (“815”) after leading an evening group for Church Army trainees at the General Theological Seminary in New York. I was one of his students in that yearlong training course. After graduation and a lengthy internship, we were commissioned as Evangelists with a national preaching license.

It was a busy year for Howard; a satisfying and productive year. His main job was shepherding an entirely new version of the American Prayer Book. The English version of the BCP, first published in 1549 shortly after the death of King Henry VIII, is a classic of English literature which has guided the worship and nourished the souls of Anglicans worldwide for centuries. The original Book has only two equals: the Authorized King James Version of the Bible and the collected works of William Shakespeare.

God faue the Kyng, indeed.

God faue the Kyng, indeed.

Howard Galley was up to the task.

His job title at Church headquarters was “Assistant to the Coordinator for Prayer Book Revision.” The coordinator was a diplomat, priest-scholar and liturgist named Fr. Leo Malania, whose day job was serving on the faculty of the Mercer School of Theology in the Diocese of Long Island, New York.

What this meant in practical terms was that Leo had a big clean office at “815,” where he showed up occasionally when the Standing Liturgical Commission had a meeting. As his assistant, Howard Galley did all the day-to-day work, in a smaller office piled with papers, charts, journals, magazines, correpondence, books and workbooks and notebooks.

Leo was the star; Howard wrote the script. Leo would breeze in from Long Island, shoot his scenes, and leave. By all accounts he was a great actor in this lengthy production, from roughly 1968 to 1980. It was the most important work in the Episcopal Church during the 1970s, and no one could have led it but him. He was a former assistant to the Secretary-General of the United Nations and a renowned liturgical expert with international contacts at the highest levels of scholarship in the Vatican, the World Council of Churches, Orthodoxy and other top church bodies. His was the name that ultimately carried the day.

But the actual coordinator was Howard.

So imagine how plucked I was to discover this ENS article today, attributing Howard’s finest writing to some retired bishop named Atkinson at a church in Virginia. I never heard of this guy before, but I was not surprised to see someone else credited for Howard’s seminal work.

I fired off a tweet when I saw the article, and soon was contacted by the ENS reporter, Lynette Wilson. She told me she had based her article, which is about stewardship of the Earth, on something she was told concerning the authorship by someone at that church in Virginia. Apparently this Bishop Atkinson was so taken by Howard’s phrasing of Eucharistic Prayer C and the theology embedded in it, and spoke of it so often, that in time local people started attributing the prayer to him. The bishop must have been a wonderful teacher.

But he did not write that prayer. Howard did, after one particularly good night at the National Institute for Lay Training at General Seminary, which he served as dean.

The Close at night, by the Rev. K. Jeanne Person.

The Close at night, by the Rev. K. Jeanne Person.

As one of his trainees I was present with about 10 other people, the first time Mass was celebrated a few days later using Howard’s revolutionary new prayer. When worship was done, we were in awe of what he had written and asked him lots of questions about it. All we knew beforehand was that the Rev. Bill Coulter, another NILT faculty member and the only priest, would celebrate using a new prayer; then out tumbled this fabulous new thing with so many features – including responses from the congregation – that had never been done before in Christian history.

Howard was kind of shy about it, but he told us when and how it came to be. He even attributed our good group meeting a few nights earlier as his inspiration. He’d sat in his office at “815,” looked out the window and saw a big, beautiful moon over the city. Five years earlier, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin had first set foot on that moon – an epochal event in human history.

In 1969, in living rooms across America and around the world, we watched live television coverage from the moon, and everyone saw for themselves that we live on “this fragile Earth, our island home.”

Howard consecrated that moment five years later and claimed it for God.

I could say much more about that year in my life and Howard Galley’s place in it, and someday perhaps I will. Now, however, I just want to get down these basic facts. Because I don’t ever want to see again, in a publication of the Episcopal Church or anywhere else, one more false claim about the authorship of Prayer C.

I know of two other living witnesses to this account: the Rev. Anthony Guillen, Hispanic/Latino Missioner of the Episcopal Church, who like me was a Church Army trainee that night; and Patti O’Kane, the longtime partner of Howard Galley’s best friend and associate, Sr. Brooke Bushong, also of the Church Army, who later became a deacon in the Diocese of New York.

The Rev. Sr. Brooke Bushong, late of the Church Army.

The Rev. Sr. Brooke Bushong, late of the Church Army.

Much of the background here, including the misattribution of authorship, is due to the low status of lay ministers in the Episcopal Church. The Standing Liturgical Commission would never have hired Howard Galley as coordinator of Prayer Book Revision; that important post had to go to a member of the clergy – because no one who was not ordained was considered capable or legitimate. This is the “Bishops’ Church,” after all; that’s what “episcopal” means. Prestige is the sole province of clergy in this church (and in most others), with one result being collateral damage to Howard Galley’s essential contribution in compiling that revolutionary Book.

I’m not interested in sour grapes; this is just a fact of life. But I will not allow Howard’s name to be forgotten or his contributions to be trashed, especially by people who don’t know what they’re talking about.

I am apparently the Last Man Standing among the old Church Army crowd. So I have an obligation to my friend and to other lay ministers to set the record straight and preserve Howard’s legacy.

He was quite a character; by far the best teacher I’ve ever had, and that includes some really good ones, especially Sr. Brooke and Fr. Bill. The fourth member of the NILT quartet was Capt. Tom Tull, a former missionary in Alaska who was “young and dumb” in 1974. Tom came into his own years later as an AIDS activist and minister in San Francisco. We all had that in common, frankly, but that’s another story.

If Leo Malania was a movie star, Howard Galley was a headliner on Broadway. I’ve never seen a human being hold a crowd’s attention like Howard could, night after night, anywhere but a Broadway theater. He was electrifying; loving, gentle, incredibly smart, faithful down to his bones. And he was also, by age 45 or so when I first met him, the very picture of a divo.

Mick Jagger

Mick Jagger

That’s Italian for “a god.” But unlike a rock star or Broadway headliner, Howard wrote all his own material and gave a different performance every night.

That’s just what teachers do. But even the best ones aren’t enthralling every time out like he was.

We all think we know what female divas are about, in opera or the theater; lots of ego, massive self-centeredness, ordering people around. That’s the popular stereotype, but the actual goddesses of the theater – Bernadette Peters, Ethel Merman, Chita Rivera, Angela Lansbury, maybe Irina Menzel – are spellbinding.

They don’t stop the show; the audience stops the show to go nuts over them. They say Merman held the last note of “I Got Rhythm” for 32 bars without a breath; of course the audience rioted!

Merman was an Episcopalian; I wouldn't be surprised if she gave Howard lessons.

Merman was an Episcopalian; I wouldn’t be surprised if she gave Howard lessons.

But Howard was a man. I compare him to Jason Robards in Moon for the Misbegotten by Eugene O’Neill, which was playing at the Morosco Theatre that year, with its long stretches of monologue for the two protagonists. (Colleen Dewhurst was every bit as strong as Robards, her ex-husband; if anything she stole the show because her character starts out at a disadvantage to her drunken, eloquent, loudmouth bellower of a man.)

JasonRobardsColleenDewhurst.MoonTVmovie

Every night with Howard was like going to Broadway. There I was, a 22-year-old hick from the sticks, staring open-mouthed at this teacher who was so thrilling and demanding, vulnerable and full of faith.

(If this reminds you of anyone you know, please don’t mention it until after the webcast.)

Now I will end this, by reprinting the three comments I left on the Episcopal News Service website this morning. I’m trying to set the record straight and create a larger internet presence for my great teacher, who died in 1993. I can’t find a single photograph of Howard anywhere online, so this will have to do.

He was a great man. So let me add right now, if anyone from that era deserves a place on our liturgical calendar in future years, it won’t be Leo Malania or any of the thousands of others who contributed to prayer book revision. It will be Howard Galley, a devout Catholic who was a thorough Evangelist.++

Ceremonies

___

Comment #1 on Episcopal News Service’s website:

Howard E. Galley, Jr. of the Church Army wrote those words, not Bishop Atkinson. I was present the first time they were used to consecrate bread and wine at the Eucharist, in a classroom at General Seminary, New York, in the summer of 1974. The Rev. Bill Coulter celebrated for my Church Army training class; Capt. Galley, Sr. Brooke Bushong and Capt. Tom Tull were there along with six lay ministry students, including Anthony Guillen, who was later ordained and became Hispanic/Latino Missioner at 815. Howard told us after Mass how he came to write that prayer, late one night at 815 after one of our evening classes. He wrote it all in one sitting, then refined it with Brooke and a few other friends a few nights later at a bar in Brooklyn Heights.

He was Assistant to the Coordinator for Prayer Book Revision and General Editor of the new BCP, the day-to-day staffer who kept the wheels turning for the Standing Liturgical Commission in the runup to the General Convention of 1976, at which the Draft Prayer Book was provisionally approved for three years before winning final approval in 1979. Howard Galley wrote that prayer and no one else.

On his behalf I respectfully request a correction.

___

Comment #2:

What Bishop Atkinson must have done was to quote Howard Galley’s phrase (and perhaps celebrate Mass using it) so often at Emmanuel, Greenwood, that in time people began to think he must have written it.

Besides Fr. Guillen, I have another witness who was present during the creation of this prayer: Sr. Brooke Bushong’s partner Patti O’Kane, who still lives in Brooklyn Heights and can supply details about Howard, Brooke and others meeting for a drink a few nights after he composed the prayer. He read it to them, and they were the first persons to ever hear it; he asked for feedback and they gave him some. A few days later Fr. Bill Coulter gave it its world premiere in a little room at GTS.

___

Comment #3:

Historical footnote, for the record: Howard knew within a couple of weeks that “this fragile earth, our island home” was a hit; Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin had landed on the moon only five years earlier. And Howard knew that the environmental theme also resonated quickly; the first Earth Day happened in 1970. But the thing he was proudest of in that prayer was that it’s the first in Anglican history to invoke the Blessed Virgin Mary as part of the consecration.

By far his proudest moment in the overall, decades-long process of Prayer Book revision was winning final approval for the most important provision of all: the rubric on p. 13 terming the Holy Eucharist “the principal act of Christian worship on the Lord’s Day.” For the first time since the Reformation, Sunday Mass was restored to its rightful place in Anglican worship.

This Church owes Howard Galley and everyone associated with Prayer Book revision the highest honor we can bestow. People think that what the ’79 Book did was get rid of “thees and thous,” but that was the least of it. The Commission, Bishops and Deputies gave us back our Communion with Christ, and we must never forget what they did. This Book made history because it made us Catholic again, in practice as well as thought.

So now you know.

So now you know.

Finding Out What It Is to Be Truly Human

Kind of a hot guy, actually. (Auguste Rodin)

Kind of a hot guy, actually. (Auguste Rodin)

This post will probably be a bit ragged, because I haven’t thought the subject all the way through. But it’s been stirring inside me long enough that it’s time for me to try to get some notes down and hope that they mean something to you. In the past people often called my writing stream-of-consciousness, which I’ve never thought was correct, but maybe this entry will be an example of what they meant.

Here’s a lesson appointed for Morning Prayer tomorrow. I’ll reprint the whole thing so you can see the context. St. Paul, whose writing is always wise and eloquent, claims that he put these gifts aside when evangelizing in Corinth, so that instead he could give “a demonstration of the Spirit and of power.” If he did that, he was surely a master teacher, but in this letter he will now eloquently explain his wisdom! (I’m convinced he knew that every word he wrote was holy scripture.)

1 Corinthians 2:1-13 (NRSV)

When I came to you, brothers and sisters, I did not come proclaiming the mystery of God to you in lofty words or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and him crucified. And I came to you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling. My speech and my proclamation were not with plausible words of wisdom, but with a demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might rest not on human wisdom but on the power of God.

Yet among the mature we do speak wisdom, though it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to perish. But we speak God’s wisdom, secret and hidden, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. None of the rulers of this age understood this; for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But, as it is written,

“What no eye has seen, nor ear heard,
nor the human heart conceived,
what God has prepared for those who love him” –

these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. For what human being knows what is truly human except the human spirit that is within? So also no one comprehends what is truly God’s except the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit that is from God, so that we may understand the gifts bestowed on us by God. And we speak of these things in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual things to those who are spiritual.

Learning what is truly human, seems to me, is our task in life.

And I can’t say I’ve arrived at the point of knowing; it’s more that I feel like I’m getting there, and also that I feel like I’ve always known. I want to ask, Don’t we all really know what it is to be truly human?

We may not live up to it – most people don’t, the world doesn’t – but that’s because we prevent ourselves from knowing.

We do, all of us, know what it means to be human. But we push that knowledge-awareness down deep inside; we seem to find it painful to know what’s human and not, so we keep ourselves from thinking about any of it.

As Leonardo Ricardo would say, we’re all about “pretend.” When I was a kid our adolescent term was having a “false front.” (Teenagers are experts on this subject, with built-in bullshit detectors.)

I never really lost mine and I bet you didn’t either. I’m not sure anybody does, but boy, does this world have massive incentives to give in to the BS.

Corporate life requires it – any large organization, for-profit or not. Bureaucracy demands we all worship the bullshit.

the-organization-man

Family life demands it in most families – at least the ones we grow up in. I suppose we think we don’t impose it in the families we ourselves create, but then again we probably do.

Commercial life – politics and television – are all about the bullshit. A TV show may make comedy or drama about rebelling against the BS (“The Daily Show,” “Breaking Bad,” “Downton Abbey”) but every eight minutes it’s “brought to you by the bullshit.”

There’s nowhere you can go (including church) and not be knee-deep in bullshit. That’s all the Church of England puts out anymore, and the rest of them are usually even worse. I don’t really follow the CofE anymore, and even if I did I wouldn’t want to go into this, but the latest thing is some kind of yes-and-no from the House of Bishops about same-sex marriage; “Gay people are welcome, and marriages are legal now, but of course we can’t conduct them, and we don’t let clergy officiate, and they ought not even get one privately themselves, but of course we can’t prevent them, and though it might be possible to offer some prayers after people get the civil rite, prayers aren’t the same things as blessings, you see,” which makes no theological sense at all and therefore is pure bullshit, the Anglican kind, you get the idea, it’s all who-fucking-cares.

June Butler cares, Mark Harris cares, Alan Wilson does, Leonardo perhaps and Louie (Crew) Clay almost certainly. But me, I long since don’t care. Leonardo knows his vocation, to tell the world and church “Let’s quit pretend.” But that’s his vocation and not, thankyouJesus, mine, not where the CofE’s concerned. I don’t fucking care, it’s not human there anymore.

What does it mean to be truly human? One of God’s names is Reality. (h/t Bill Coulter, late great.)

Here in the Episcopal Church we mostly think our places are getting more human all the time; I think that about my own congregation online, and I hope you think it about yours, too – that you’re right to think so. Even the Methodists got human yesterday, though only in New York and we’ll see how long it lasts. The retired dean of Yale Divinity School officiated at his kid’s wedding awhile ago, so two bigotbrains put him up on charges, which were set to kick off Monday till the conference bishop called the whole thing off. Good for him; good for the dean and his wife and his kid and his son-in-law. The dean is quoted in today’s paper thanking God for such a great son-in-law. That was nice; truly human.

But it takes a lot more than being for Gay rights to make us human; have you seen any Gay porn blogs lately? They’re all for Gay rights, at least I presume, but good grief, they’re inhuman.

Or they were until yesterday, when somebody Tumbld this:

catchotd:

We need to quit it with all the “cumdump whore” and “slave faggot” bullshit, you know? We’re willingly throwing ourselves into an identification that’s demeaning and dehumanizing, and that’s so dumb. Like, damn, love yourself; if you wanna scarf down three dicks and swim in a veritable pool of cum, then more power to ya man, you’ve got my respect.

Amen brother

Interesting that the reblogger said Amen.

MEANWHILE, back here at the farm, I try to make sense of my life and keep up with how much I’ve changed these last ten years. It’s really astonishing to me; I can’t make sense of it. I’m 62, my body is starting to wear out and my soul is cleaner than ever. (Should I have written “purer”? That’s what it feels like, even though nothing can be crazier than to proclaim to myself or anyone else “I feel like I’m being purified.”)

That is what I feel, though, and it’s damn weird.

So what was it Paul said again? The Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. For what human being knows what is truly human except the human spirit that is within?

I sense, more than know, what that means. Has something to do with a spark of life inside. Some bit of honesty is surely part of it; and increasing [crotchety] impatience with everything that isn’t real.

You know when people get old, they get crotchety; men especially. I’m only 62, which I’m sure to some of you is death warmed over. And only 62, to others.

I want to ask all the old people, “Did something like this happen to you? Is this normal? Is this like the reward we get for living this long?”

I do not know; I’m living this by myself, and no one can ever be sure of what’s going on with them. Our human capacity for self-deception is too great. Every discovery has to be tested; we’re too involved with ourselves to observe objectively.

Mind you I don’t claim one bit of better-than-you; I am after all still looking at porn sites. And on some level I don’t mind that at all – or I wouldn’t if could find any humane ones. The internet was made for porn, so there’s more of it than ever, but very very few where people treat each other decently.

I worry about what young Gay men are looking at these days. The internalized homophobia is just thick – except it isn’t all internalized, it’s disseminated, it’s broadcast, it’s enforced.

Here we thought, those of us who are now veteran activists, that we were rooting out societal homophobia and the psychic kind with it, but it seems like kids are killing themselves as much as ever.

I’d show you graphic examples or provide links, but you don’t want to see it. I don’t want to post them.

Instead here’s a nice thing; my Straight friend Tim found it yesterday.

Now I’ll start to wind this up. When I bought this house ten years ago my sexuality was on a certain trajectory. What turned me on at 20 still turned me on at 50, while my interests got much narrower and more focused – like “I want what I want exactly this way.” I felt some concern about that, like the world stopped containing 3 billion men and now had only 300,000, but I felt I was refining my desires too. Then a couple of years ago, I finally finished the 1000th draft of my third/ultimate novel, and quickly, my sexuality changed.

This wasn’t just my aging body, but the satisfaction/destruction of a gestalt. “The Gospel According to Gay Guys” is (or so I hope) the world’s ultimate love story with the world’s hottest sex.

And then I was done, and I’m not into that stuff anymore. Or I am, but not in the same way. I said it already, I got it out of my system, so it’s out with the leather and in with the sweat pants and pajama bottoms. (I suppose I should sell that stuff on Ebay.)

“Refining” sexuality sounds similar to “purifying” one’s soul. Meanwhile there’s this other thing going on.

I have said the Daily Office twice a day now for almost ten years, and posted it online. I was in love with God at 20 and I’m certainly in love with God even more now.

I think the repetition, as well as aging, is what does it.

I’ve told people on my sites, “Daily Office, twice a day for 30 days, and you’re bound to get closer to God.” Pray twice a day in an organized, disciplined way, and you won’t be able to stay away from God – even if getting closer is the very thing that scares you. (We want to get close, but typically not too close. Getting noticeably close causes most people to panic and back away; sure did me for awhile.)

I think probably nuns and monks, and Wesley with his Method, got this right a long time ago, even though I’m not sure they fully grasped it or anyone can.

Never my idea of a Gay role model…

Never my idea of a Gay role model…

But here is what I’ve learned: the soul’s desire is union with God; reunion, from before all time, and communion, here and always.

The soul’s desire is that all of life is worship, no matter what we’re doing at the time.

We can’t just will this attitude in ourselves as if it’s a decision we can make. Try that and you’ll forget it completely in 15 minutes.

Instead it works like this. “7 a.m., time to get up for the webcast. 12 noon, time to post the next services. 12 midnight, time to post again.” And the same tomorrow and tomorrow, day after day, month and year until it’s a habit that becomes a way of life.

I can tell you for sure that if I am getting closer to God these days, and I am getting refined and purified, it isn’t any doing of mine. None, zero, at most I just cooperate. At most I’ve just let go of my fear. God is no one to be afraid of; you won’t lose your personality (what makes you human), you’ll gain it more than ever before.

So you won’t be able to stand some things you used to be into. You’ll click off “House of Cards” because it simply got too dark. (The British original was both more humorous and more disturbing; I don’t like disturbing anymore. I don’t want those people in my house.)

Maybe you’ll end up selling all your sexgear, I dunno. (I do know it is better to have started getting it when you were 20-30-40 than to have waited until you were 50-60 to finally let yourself be who you are.) Whatever happens as you age, you really can welcome it, assuming you got on the right path in the beginning.

What’s the right path? The one that commits to being human, to expecting that out of yourself. The one that doesn’t mind wandering away without feeling guilty. The one that’s authentic for you, so you can be authentic with others. This “right path” doesn’t prevent you from hurting, making mistakes, loving and losing; going through dreadful things sometimes. Jesus could have done without some of those wilderness times – but he wouldn’t have been himself if he hadn’t had them.

My life still isn’t all put together, and I doubt it ever will be. Still, I’m almost shockingly happy.

That “human spirit within” is the only way to go. And I pity the fool who doesn’t go there.++

Put Grandmère Mimi among the Wikipedia Notables, Where She Belongs!

It has come to my attention that Wikipedia contains a glaring omission. It has no listing for June Butler, aka “Grandmère Mimi,” among the Notable Natives in its entry for Thibodaux, Louisiana.

WANTED: Suspicion of blogging.

I am sure Jimmy Wales, founder of the free online encyclopedia, never intended such a shameful oversight. Grandmère is a Distinguished Personage in any city – in every city – much less the capital of Lafourche Parish, there on the banks of the bayou.

So I am appealing to all my friends, followers, and my very large Entourage to correct this mistake immediately.

Now the good news is that Mimi’s entourage is even bigger than mine. Yes, that’s hard to believe, but hey, she’s got white hair and looks harmless. But do not be deceived; she’s notorious.

She always returns to the scene of the crime.

For many years Ms. Butler has masterminded a criminal enterprise called The Wounded Bird, from which her influence has spread worldwide. She was among a handful of shadowy operatives who prevented the Church of England from adopting the Anglican Covenant, along with her accomplice, one Jonathan Hagger, who goes by the alias MadPriest. Together these  anarchists have sought to undermine all Anglican Stuffiness and Pretense™,  which is all that keeps those old English bishops from crashing over at the slightest puff of wind.

Ask yourself, people: what institution will she try to topple next? The CIA, the Stock Exchange, the Jane Austen Lending Library & Tourist Trap plc?

Mind you, this so-called Mimi (which in English means, “Me, me!”) got started innocently enough; for years she cultivated her image as a charming, inoffensive Church Lady. But one fateful day, she got introduced to a life of crime, and let it be a lesson to you all. Ms. Butler took her first bribe.

Ten years ago she accepted the offer of a free, all-expenses-paid vacation at a palace in the American Southwest, where she rode around in limousines and ate like a queen – despite knowing that her hosts were charter members of the International Gay Cabal (known to the CIA as the “Gay Agendists”). These subversives succeeded in beginning her conversion to warped ways.

Experienced spies will tell you that everyone can be seduced to The Other Side. For some it’s sex, and for all we know that may have been part of her downfall. But for others, “the love of money is the root of all evil.” Those Gay tempters must have taken her to the top of a mountain and shown her, “All this can be yours!”

She signed right on the spot, happily entering a life of sordid degradation.

Within a few years, Ms. Butler published a four-part series called “Confessions of a Recovering Homophobe.” It’s still in print today. Even worse, she began undermining all standards of propriety in the Diocese of Louisiana, particularly concerning a man referred to in official publications as “the practicing homosexual Bishop of New Hampshire.” (Co-conspirators know him only by his code name, “Gene.”)

From there Ms. Butler infiltrated a very popular blog run by one Terry Martin, a purported Episcopal priest using the alias “Father Jake.” This gave her access to a vast worldwide network of radical ne’er-do-wells and brilliant criminal minds, known to occupy key positions in the misty Anglican Mafia. She rose in the organization by mild, reasonable-sounding comments on events in the underground war on the Establishment, and occasional jokes she blamed on the patently fictional “Doug.” Fellow travelers took her to be a sweet, kindly old Southern lady who was no threat to their positions. But the bodies began piling up quickly behind her.

The Bishop of Pittsburgh – disappeared! The Bishop of Fort Worth – kaput! San Joaquin, even Quincy, Illinois, no town was too small to escape her wicked bloodletting. She became the de facto ecclesiastical authority (though she modestly calls herself merely Ordinary) in every section of the country.

And then, my friends, she went after The Mother of Them All – yes, Canterbury itself.

She triumphed a few months ago by reducing the Anglican Communion Office to rubble – though no photographic evidence exists that she actually burned the Anglican Covenant in a pagan ceremony under the ancient fig trees at Lambeth Palace. One source reported that instead of singing the hymn St. Anne, as any proper Anglican would do after burning effigies at the stake, the rebels danced instead to Dixieland jazz, in defiant violation of three known rubrics in the 1662 Prayer Book.

(Another report, since discredited, maintained that while the Covenant remained unlit, Ms. Butler oversaw a deliberate burning of the steak – known as “blackening” in south Louisiana. An eyewitness reported, “That wasn’t beef, ya’ll, that was largemouth bass. Them’s good eatin’.”)

The Foreign Office confirms that Ms. Butler’s passport shows multiple trips between Thibodaux and Heathraux. Her dossier in MI5 is six inches thick.

THEREFORE, as one of the many secret acolytes of our High Priest and Grandmère, and yes, a card-carrying subversive myself, I call upon all hippies and yippes, Gayboys and Dykegrrls, friends and relations, and everyone who knows anyone to join our Amalgamated Queer Entourage and rectify this horrible oversight in Wikipedia at once. Way-farers of the World, Unite!

As they say down in Cajun country, “If Grandmère ain’t Notable, Thibodaux don’t knaux Notable.”++

Treat her nice and she might let you kiss her ring. (revdlesley.wordpress.com)

Anglican Covenant Defeated; Time for Something New

This is what killed the Anglican Covenant: Elton John and David Furnish got married in 2005 and the world didn't come to an end, even for English church ladies and closeted curates.

Several of my Episcopalian friends are celebrating today the defeat in England of a proposed Anglican Covenant, a power arrangement that would have punished Episkies and Canadian Anglicans for not beating up Gay, Lesbian, Trans and Bi people.

To me today’s vote is an anti-climax, so I wonder what all the shouting was about. The Anglican Covenant was dead on arrival, and I said so two days after it was introduced.

I take my friends seriously; they’re some of the leading progressives in the Church, people like Louie Crew, Leonardo Ricardo, Grandmère Mimi, Tobias Haller and others. Mimi has obsessed about this for months, hanging on every vote, diocese by diocese, reporting the numbers as if Romney and Santorum were slugging it out in the Ohio primary for future world domination.

Mimi’s happy now and I’m happy for her. Let the good times roll and all that.

Can we all get back to real life now?

FWiW, I told you so. (H/t JimB, whose handy little acronym I rather like.)

Did anyone think that English people would go for legalized ecclesiastical homophobia, seven years after Elton John married David Furnish in the royal village of Windsor?

How little respect these Americans have shown for basic English decency. For heaven’s sake, even the Tory government’s now proposing that Gay weddings be performed in churches, if the couple want.

To paraphrase Jesus, the bigots are always with you, but they’re not a majority anymore, they haven’t been for years, and it’s time we stopped acting as if they are. England isn’t America, where Rick Santorum can still hope to be president. English fundamentalists are loud, but not numerous; not in the Church of England and not in other churches either.

U.S. Episcopalians have been unduly worried – ridiculously alarmed, in fact – about this foolish Anglican Covenant. It would have created first class and second class status among member Churches, with pro-Gay North Americans stuck in the back of the bus. But the bus didn’t have a transmission, so it never could go anywhere.

I struggle to understand my friends’ paranoia, though now it’s moot. I hope it’s the last gasp of Episcopalian Anglophilia.

The Episcopal Church is not now and never has been the Church of England, even though our roots go back there. Really, all this was decided when Washington defeated Cornwallis in 1781.

We do not swear allegiance to the English crown. No English bishop has jurisdiction in the USA, including that bearded old man in Canterbury.

My friends know all this, but still they’ve run around like Chicken Little.

Let them celebrate today, the right outcome has been achieved. But honestly, people, why did you think English Anglicans would turn their backs on us? How ever much they tease us, they’re deeply affected by the “special relationship” – and they’ll never cut themselves off from Canada.

So okay, the CofE spent a million pounds and half a dozen years debating this corpse of a Covenant – Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, staked his entire episcopacy on it – and now it’s over. Done. Dead as a doornail. If the Church of England doesn’t want this Covenant, there isn’t going to be one.

Williams resigned a couple of weeks ago, knowing this thing was going down. The vote wasn’t a direct referendum on him, but it might as well have been, and so he lost. Bye bye, Rowan, enjoy that new job at Cambridge you’ve got lined up. Feel free to convert to Rome if that’s what you want. It doesn’t matter anymore.

Mind you, I’m glad that Episcopalians care about the Anglican Communion; we’ve made that loud and clear. I’m proud of my friends for taking that stand.

But as long as Rowan was head of the Communion, and doing his best to steer it towards homophobia instead of inclusion, the U.S. Church was better off without the Communion.

That’s what gets people so terrified. “Independence? How could we? Unthinkable!”

Pardon me, I thought of it. But as sometimes happens, I turn out to be more radical – and more conservative – than even my best comrades-in-arms.

They cannot conceive of continuing relationships outside the stifling confines of the Communion. I can. To me, relationships would continue better than ever between the U.S. Church and our friends in other continents.

I don’t think those relationships depend on a seal of approval from Lambeth Palace. But my friends evidently do.

They bitch and complain, some of them, about how much money we pour into the Communion, but they never decide to quit paying.

In 2008 the American Church spent over a million dollars to send bishops from all 110 dioceses to a two-week tea party called the Lambeth Conference – all but one, that is; the Bishop of New Hampshire wasn’t allowed to attend because he’s Gay. Rowan didn’t invite him.

But rather than tell Rowan to go fuck himself, all the other Americans packed up their finery and went a-teaing.

They said “the relationships are too important for us to stay home.”

I was ashamed. But there wasn’t any big outcry over their decision, so the die was cast.

Plenty of Americans complained about Gene Robinson’s exclusion, but nobody told the rest of the bishops to stay home.

Every year since, every U.S. diocese continues to appropriate laypeople’s money to pay for the next Lambeth Conference.

Some church bloggers pointed out, “This is an abusive, dysfunctional relationship,” but we keep going back like battered women.

I still say it’s better for domestic mission – that is, serving Americans, delivering the Gospel to Americans and attracting Americans to our churches – if we don’t haul around England’s baggage, much less the African baggage all this is related to.

African Anglicans are Gay-hating in the extreme. They’re the ones Rowan Williams kept giving blowjobs to.

He understood his job as keeping the Communion together at all costs. He assumed correctly that the North Americans would stay regardless, so he bent over and took African dick doggy-style.

You won’t read it anywhere else but here.

Today Rowan has lost his Church. All that butt-fucking did him no good. A majority of English diocesan synods voted him down. Mimi has now declared victory. (She’s even posted a Cajun Jig video – and claimed she doesn’t feel triumphant, which is either a lie or a joke. It’s a cool video, see it here.)

I don’t expect to sway anyone’s opinion with this post. Episcopalians are going to continue to suck off the English Church for the foreseeable future. I don’t mind, if that’s what they want to do. I don’t blame the English for hustling American dollars.

But I will assert again and again that our mission starts here, in our own country, with our own people, who need to know that there is one catholic and apostolic Church where Lesbigay and Trans people and our friends are more than welcome – half the time we’re running the place.

This fact gets lost in the din of American fundamentalism.

Episcopalians have a lifegiving message but we don’t broadcast it. We hide it under a bushel. We hope people will come to us – though in fact most Americans today have never heard of us.

We’re the most important church in U.S. history, but those days are gone. Now nobody’s ever heard of us, and if they have they get us confused with someone else.

We used to be rich and powerful. Now we’re not. All the rich and powerful people left us, because we decided that Black folk should be full members, and women can be priests, and Gay people can be good, and Lesbians are smart, and Transgenders are at the very least interesting, and sometimes gifted, and always oppressed, which Jesus doesn’t want us to do to people! So hello, have a seat, nice to see you.

That’s The Episcopal Church today. It’s a great place for Lesbians and Gay men, and for young adults who have friends who are Gay; who want to raise their kids as part of a diverse community.

Growth-wise we are ideally positioned for this very moment in time. But as long as we’re still caught up in all the doings in the Diocese of Bradford – as long as we care about Lambeth tea parties – we’ll miss our chance to heal and reconcile LGBT Americans.

That’s the real tragedy of this, not what Mimi gets obsessed about; God bless her, she did it because she cares.

She can’t hear right now that what happens on these shores, not in England, is what matters. Apparently no one in the Episcopal Church can hear that, not even Louie Crew. He values those overseas relationships too much to hear it.

He said a few years ago, “It will be even worse for LGBTs in Nigeria and the rest of Africa if we walk away from the Anglican Communion. We must maintain our relationships, if only for them.”

But we’ve done so little for them, and we’re so far away, that I don’t buy it anymore. The kill-the-Gays bill is back on the table in Uganda, and taking tea at Lambeth Palace hasn’t changed a thing.

My calling, though I don’t do it well, is to American Gay people. The more we rise, the better off African LGBTs will be. They depend on us, not for direct aid but for role-modeling, for courage, for an example. Their liberation must be indigenous, though outsiders can help.

My concern is for Tyler Clementi and Matt Shepherd, and all those kids who’ve killed themselves in the Hennepin County, Minnesota School District.

It may seem old hat by now, but my concern is for people with AIDS.

What I think ought to happen is something positive; let’s organize a Queer Episkie Roadshow to every major city in the country, starring Louie Crew, Mary Glasspool, Gene Robinson, Barbara Harris, Susan Russell, Sandye Wilson, Mimi and Leonardo, dancing bishops, musicians and artists, young and old, Straight and Gay, multi-lingual and full of passion. Make it fun – make it real. We know how to put on a show! Gather a crowd in whatever church will let us in, and then just preach Jesus Christ for 2012.

Yes, have a special outreach to LGBTs, but that won’t change the message; it’s still what it always was, Jesus loves you.

If we focused on that, instead of the internal workings of Anglican Land, we could change this country, change our Church and change lives.

This is the last generation of American LGBTs we can still reach on a mass scale, where some at least were raised in Christian churches before they walked out in disgust. If we wait much longer, the entire Lesbian/Gay community will be atheist or pagan. No one will remember the old hymns anymore.

Unfortunately my friends find it easier to worry about Lambeth. I think we’ll be judged for it, though I hope we are spared.

“For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.” (Matthew 25:42-43)

That passage is a warning to people inside the righteous group, not outside of it. Progressive Episcopalians think we’re “in” when we may be out.

But a Good News Roadshow could light a fire in this Church. I bet Grandmère Mimi would be a smash hit.++

Taiko Project Drummers at the 2010 consecration of Mary D. Glasspool and Diane Jardine Bruce as Suffragan Bishops of Los Angeles. (Elizabeth Kaeton)

Vicar’s Statement on the Resignation of the Archbishop of Canterbury

Reader, in the wake of the resignation of the Archbishop of Canterbury, you’re going to see a lot of comments online discussing theology and other abstractions, but you won’t see many like this: in Uganda, Nigeria, Kenya and other countries, Anglican bishops promote hatred, terror and violence against LGBT people, resulting in many deaths and mass intimidation all over English-speaking Africa.

These are the bishops Rowan Williams was so eager to keep inside his precious Anglican Communion. He knew all about the participation of these bishops in encouraging violence, and he knew the lives lost because of it. Those lives didn’t matter to him; he condemned abstract “homophobia” a few times, but never the bishops and politicians who gained power by preaching homophobia and inciting violence. So Lesbians still get raped and killed, and Gay men still get arrested, beaten and jailed, where they die in prison with no one to claim their bodies.

In terrorism against LGBT people, there’s no difference between Anglican Africa, Muslim Iran and Orthodox Russia.

In putting the needs of the institutional church ahead of those of abused victims, Rowan’s acted just like the pope’s archbishops.

So yes, Rowan is great with theological abstractions. But he avoids all responsibility for those beaten by his friends and left bloody by the side of the road. In Jesus’s parable, Rowan is the priest who crossed to the other side of the road to ignore the victim, not the Good Samaritan. I think he should answer for it, and I rejoice at his resignation.

It won’t do the victims any good, but maybe now my Church can reclaim its basic humanity. He threw morality away to appease thugs in clerical collars.++

Little Rowan and Big Pete Akinola, the former Archbishop of Nigeria. (MadPriest)

Jerusalem: the Feast of Joseph of Arimathaea

I will not cease.

Hear it here.

I will not cease from mental fight,
Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand,
Till we have built Jerusalem
In England’s green and pleasant land.