Saturday, May 31, 2014

Quote of the Day


Things have moved very quickly, taking the Church by surprise. The movement for the recognition of same-sex marriages and civil unions has been astonishingly successful. While the Catholic hierarchy rejects all legal acceptance of same-sex couples, its arguments are unsatisfying, especially because they are unaccompanied by a viable alternative proposal. Meanwhile gay and lesbian couples exist, known and appreciated by their friends and families, at least in liberal democracies where ancient homophobic attitudes are in retreat. Catholic bishops in these countries feel obliged to raise their voice, offering a warning that they see as a prophetic, counter-cultural witness. Unfortunately, given the actual play of forces today, this aligns the bishops with countries where homosexuality is a taboo subject. Stressing in rather abstract terms the respect due to homosexual persons, the bishops have been loath to enter into dialogue with LGBT folk or even with theologians favorable to gay rights, on the pretext that to open such dialogue would in itself compromise church teaching.

. . . Moral teaching cannot abstract from the lived situation of those to whom it claims to apply. If one insists exclusively on principles, leaving their application to pastoral wisdom, which in its turn is impoverished by an exaggerated fear of betraying the principles, one risks finding one day that these principles, worked out at a great distance from reality on the ground, have become anemic and sterile. A credible moral reflection would demand attention to the testimonies of those who have lived the different possibilities of gay and lesbian experience, so as to measure soberly the various values in play. This dialogue could be enriched by steeping our reflections in literature, which illuminates from a thousand angles the complexity and variety of human relationships, even if a heavy censorship has made its text difficult to decipher in the case of gay realities. Such exposure threatens theology with the loss of its certitudes about the unalterable essences of love, marriage, and friendship. Humanity remains a territory unknown to itself, for the more it is explored, the more the enigmas multiply. The Bible, if well read, in a liberative key, espouses and deepens this complexity; church discourse, to do the same, needs a new praxis of dialogal openness and self-critique.

Related Off-site Links:
Catholics and Same-Sex Relationships: A Pathway to Doctrinal Change? – Terence Weldon (Queering the Church, February 14, 2014).
Homosexual Relationships: Another Look – Bill Hunt (The Progressive Catholic Voice, September 8, 2012).
Creating a Liberating Church – Rosemary Radford Ruether (The Progressive Catholic Voice, July 15, 2010).
Commonweal, Catholicism, and Same-Sex Marriage (Part 1) – Francis DeBernardo (Bondings 2.0, May 31, 2014).

For more of Joseph S. O'Leary at The Wild Reed, see:
Joseph O'Leary Responds to Carson Holloway's Arguments Against Gay Marriage
The Decline of the Neocaths?
The Church and Homosexuality: An Excellent Overview

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:

The Call to Be Dialogical Catholics
From Rome to Minneapolis, Dialogue is What's Needed
Comprehending the "Fullness of Truth"
Our Catholic "Stonewall Moment"
"Catholic Teaching on Homosexuality is Complex and Nuanced"
Relationship: The Crucial Factor in Sexual Morality
Joan Timmerman on the "Wisdom of the Body"
The Dreaded "Same-Sex Attracted" View of Catholicism
Quote of the Day – December 11, 2013
Three Excellent Responses to Cardinal Dolan
Beyond Respectful Tolerance to Celebratory Acceptance
A Conservative Catholic's Contribution to the Journey to Marriage Equality
Quote of the Day – June 15, 2013
Rediscovering What Has Been Written on Our Hearts from the Very Beginning
God Weighs In on the Gay Marriage Debate
Beyond the Hierarchy: The Blossoming of Liberating Catholic Insights on Sexuality

Image: Gonzalo Orquin.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Mystics of Wonder, Agents of Change


Before the month is out I want to share at least one of the two posts I have planned that feature images and commentary on this year's In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theater's Mayday parade.

And so I share this evening some of the photographs I took as I walked through the parade's staging area on the morning of Sunday, May 4, 2014. A few days later, when reading George A. Maloney, SJ's Mysticism and the New Age: Christic Consciousness in the New Creation, I was struck by how Maloney's description of modern mystics reflects in many ways the energy, creativity, and rich symbolism of the Mayday parade and those who labor to make it the vibrant reality it always is. What's also similar is the emphasis on potential transformation as the result of our relational engagement with the unfolding realities of creation. Here's part of what Maloney says of modern mystics:

Regardless of whatever culturally-conditioned theological and philosophical vehicles were employed in interpreting the Christian message, mystics, universally and throughout the centuries, have moved within the context of a dynamic and developmental process of the unfolding of the God-human-world relationships.

As modern mystics are led progressively into the inner meaning of reality, they are not led away from the created world, but rather are led into reverence and worship of God as present everywhere within the created world. The flowers, the trees, birds, animals, the beauties of each new season, the sun, moon, stars, the mountains, lakes, oceans; the whole world reveals to the contemplatives the loving presence of God, concerned to give Him[/Her]self actively and creatively to us humans beings in His[/Her] many gifts.

. . . Modern mystics breathe and realize in their breath and in the breath infused into every living being that it is the uncreated energies of God which give human beings and our world the capacity to evolve. . . . Creation for the mystic is an ongoing process. Whatever is, can become a point of meeting God the Doer, the almighty and loving force energizing the universe.

To be clear, the Mayday parade is not a "Christian" event. Yet I truly believe that there are many people who through their words and actions, including the ceremonies and events they facilitate and participate in, embody the qualities of the mystic (Christian or otherwise). And they do so without ever using the term "mystic" or indeed any religion-based words to describe themselves or their activities.

Perhaps another way to put what it is I'm trying to express is by saying that both humanity's spiritual heritage and capacity are so much deeper and broader than any one religious framework, narrative, or vocabulary. I mean, think about it: I'm sure we've all met people who profess no religious belief or affiliation, or perhaps a mixture of beliefs, and yet who embody depths of compassion, integrity, and justice-making that inspire and transform far more profoundly than those who rigidly adhere to one particular religious tradition.

The theme of this year's Mayday parade was "Wonder? Wonder!", and the following quote by Sandy Spieler (excerpted from the book Theatre of Wonder and included in the parade program) not only helps explain this year's parade theme but reveals the potential spiritual/mystical capacity of this particular event and of theater and the arts in general.

We enter the world with an exclamation point in one eye and a big question mark in the other. Most of our work boils down to the spiritual dialectic of WONDER?! Here we have the gift of a world filled with astonishing intricacies of beauty and diversity, tumultuous miracles, fomenting power and the patient relentless cycle of birth, death, and birth again. This joyous wonder has us enacting great pageants that revel in the obvious yet mysterious connection of all things. Still, in the midst of this glory, we witness the awful poverty of body and soul perpetuated by the hatred of self, the other, and the earth. This foreboding wonder calls us to untangle the artificial constructs of racism, classism, sexism and inexplicable greed. It asks us to dance down the linear fear of death that manufactures systems of excess and genocide – and ultimate defeat. Our exclamations and questions spiral according to the internal and external pulse of the times, giving rise to the specific content of our work over these years.

Blessed are the weird people – poets, misfits, writers, mystics, painters, troubadours – for they teach us to see the world through different eyes.

(from “Beatitudes for the Weird”)

For previous Mayday Parade posts, see:
See the World! (2013)
The End of the World as We Know It (2012)
"Uproar!" on the Streets of South Minneapolis: Part 1 (2010)
"Uproar!" on the Streets of South Minneapolis: Part 2 (2010)
Getting Started: Mayday 2009 (Part 1)
Celebrating Our Common Treasury: Mayday 2009 (Part 2)
May Day and a "New Bridge" (2008)
The Time is Now! (2006)

See also the previous posts:
The Potential of Art and the Limits of Rigid Orthodoxy to Connect Us to the Sacred
Jesus: Mystic and Prophet
Mystics Full of God
Keeping the Spark Alive: Conversing with Modern Mystic Chuck Lofy
Toby Johnson on the Mysticism of Andrew Harvey
The Sacred Heart: Mystical Symbol of Love
The Winged Heart
A Return to the Spirit
In the Garden of Spirituality – Kabir Helminski

Images: Michael J. Bayly.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Maya Angelou, 1928-2014

What I would really like said about me is that I dared to love. By love I mean that condition in the human spirit so profound, it encourages us to develop courage and build bridges, and then trust those bridges and cross the bridges in attempts to reach other human beings.

– Maya Angelou

Related Off-site Links:
Maya Angelou, Poet, Activist And Singular Storyteller, Dies At 86 – Lynn Neary (NPR, May 28, 2014).
Maya Angelou – The Official Website

Image: Bob Richman (2010).

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Quote of the Day

On the . . . issue of same-sex marriage, Catholic opinion [in the U.S.] has tended to be slightly more favorable than the population as a whole and way more favorable than Evangelical opinion. The 2007 Pew Poll found that 42% of Catholics expressed support for same-sex marriage versus 36% of the population as a whole. In terms of trends, 40% of Catholics supported same-sex marriage in 2001 with that number increasing to nearly 60% by 2014. By contrast, only 13% of Evangelicals favored same-sex marriage in 2001 and just 23% approve of it today.

. . . The real Catholic-Evangelical convergence is between the Republican leadership, the Catholic bishops, right-wing Catholics, and rank-and-file Evangelicals, a coalition that was cemented by Karl Rove with his aggressive outreach to 'conservative' Catholics during the Bush administration. But the fact that a big chunk of moderate and progressive Catholics are missing from this coalition continues to be lost on many in the media. It’s as if as long as the bishops are vocal in their objections to progressive polices and someone in the public is making noise, there’s a tendency to attribute it to “Catholics.” How else to explain the PPRI number that only 37% of Catholics oppose the contraception mandate in the Affordable Care Act, when the widespread perception that Catholics were broadly disapproving of it helped gin up early and critical opposition?

– Patricia Miller
"The Catholic-Evangelical (Non-)Coalition"
Religion Dispatches
April 30, 2014

Related Off-site Link:
Catholic Bishops and U.S. Evangelicals Make Strange Bedfellows – Francis DeBernardo (Bondings 2.0, May 25, 2014).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Catholic Attitudes on Gay and Lesbian Issues: An Overview
A Hopeful Trend
Jonathan Capehart: "Catholics Lead the Way on Same-Sex Marriage"
Patrick Hornbeck on Why Good Catholics Are Challenging Church Line on Homosexuality
Media Matters
First They Take Manhattan
Naming and Confronting Bigotry
American Catholics and Obama
On the First Anniversary of Marriage Equality in Minnesota, a Celebratory Look Back at the Important Role Played by Catholics

Monday, May 26, 2014

Interiors XIX

Images: Michael J. Bayly.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Petula Clark: Still Colouring Our World

I mentioned a while back that my parents were planning to see Petula Clark in concert in Port Macquarie, Australia. I would have loved to have joined them as I've long been an admirer of Clark's music. How long? Well, since I was in fifth grade, which was when I asked my parents for the "Best of Petula Clark" album that was being advertised on TV. That was in 1976!

Anyway, I couldn't attend the May 7 concert with my parents as I had to return to the U.S. on April 18. They did attend it however, and thoroughly enjoyed it. My mum has written a review, which I share after the following video clip which shows Petula performing her hit "Colour My World" on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1967.

As one commentator on YouTube notes about this performance:

Elements of psychedelia hit middle America with shots of moving colored liquids. Yet the bulk of the number pays tribute to the then-trendy cliches of 'Swinging London': Bobbies, mod chicks in mod clothes on Carnaby Street, and the Palace Guards. Overall, extremely '60s!


. . . Just as long as I know you're thinking of me,
there'll be a rainbow always up above me.
Since I found the one who really loves me,
everything I touch is turning to gold.

So you can colour my world with sunshine yellow each day.
Oh, you can colour my world with happiness all the way.
Just take the green from the grass
and the blue from the sky up above.
And if you colour my world,
just paint it with your love.
Just colour my world.

Well, Petula Clark at age 80 is still colouring our world with the lovely gift of her music and, as a result, still bringing happiness and inspiration to many.

Here's my mum's thoughts on the "fabulous" Petula Clark performance that she and dad experienced in Port Macquarie on the evening of Wednesday, May 7, 2014.

I'm pleased to report on our attendance at the fabulous
Petula Clark performance.

The venue was the controversial Port Macquarie Glasshouse. The construction costs were
astronomical but, on a positive note, we now have a facility which attracts high profile entertainers.

Petula provided something for everyone ... lots of hits from the '60s, new songs from her latest CD, Lost in You (well received!), and selections from movies and stage shows. Also, for two numbers, she accompanied herself on the grand piano! Accomplished pianist!

The years have certainly been kind to her! She was energetic and handled the up-tempo numbers with gusto, and moved with ease and grace on the stage. Her powerful and perfectly pitched voice thrilled all.

Over two hours of entertainment interspersed with humour, combined with interesting and touching anecdotes. No doubt, due to her many years on stage, screen and theatre, those present warmed to her and the result was enthusiastic audience participation.

Her brilliant Musical Director, Grant Sturiale, and the Aussie musicians excelled!

One of the many highlights was her cover of the song "Imagine." She reminded us of John Lennon's special qualities, especially his spirituality.

Throughout the night she was very generous in her praise of other artists. This I admired.

Leaving the stage, she was given a standing ovation ... deafening!

There are many exits from the Glasshouse and unfortunately we may have chosen the wrong one as, on our return home, we read in the concert program that she almost always stays to greet fans afterwards. Oh, no! . . . we may have missed the opportunity to speak with her! Never mind, it was still a night to remember.

If she travels your way, I highly recommend you take the opportunity to enjoy her great concert.

– Margaret Bayly

Above: My parents, Margaret and Gordon Bayly, photographed April 14, 2014,
three week before seeing Petula Clark in concert in Port Macquarie.

Did you know that for her 2013 album Lost in You, Petula re-recorded her 1964 hit "Downtown"? She did this despite the fact that when the idea of recording a new version of what, undoubtedly, is her signature song was first suggested by producer John Owen Williams, she expressed disinterest.

Then, she recalls, "I was played this beautiful [instrumental] track . . . and I said it was lovely, and they told me it was [intended for] 'Downtown.' I got to the microphone and I didn't know how I was going to sing it, and it really feels like a new song."

Reviewing Lost in You for, Philip Matusavage writes of the "Downtown" remake: "Already a song loaded with melancholy, the stately version here acquires new meaning with its weary but amiable delivery summoning forth powerful nostalgia and the sense of someone fondly remembering their youth."

Steven Rosen says of the new version of "Downtown," "It is now a ballad, [with Clark's] voice sometimes narrating the words as much as singing them. At the chorus, where the original song had her voice rise on "down" – connoting excitement – this time she straddles turning "down" into a minor-key note. The result is to make the song elegiac, a salutary tribute to a friend (the original version) from long ago."

For more of Petula Clark at The Wild Reed, see:
Pet Sounds
Well, Look Who's Coming to Port Macquarie . . .

Recommended Off-site Links:
As She Releases Her New Album, Petula Clark, 80, Recalls the Love Affairs, the Loneliness and the One Lasting Regret of Her Lifetime of Fame – David Wigg (Daily Mail, February 1, 2013).
'60s Legend Petula Clark on Coppola, Chaplin, And "Downtown" – Michael Musto (The Village Voice, April 16, 2013).
Petula Clark: "John Lennon Gave Me Some Advice That I Can't Repeat' – Michael Cragg (The Guardian, February 20, 2013).
Petula Clark: "I've Had a Strange Life" – Neil McCormick (The Telegraph, February 13, 2013).
Petula Clark, 80, Experiments with AutoTune, Evokes Lana Del Rey in Pop Comeback – Andrew Hampp (Billboard, April 16, 2013).
Petula Clark: After Decades, Miss 'Downtown' Hits Midtown in Cabaret – NPR (January 20, 2012).
Petula Clark's Official Website

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Friday, May 23, 2014

Quote of the Day

When does the anti-gay Christian become irrefutably a bigot? The moment he or she does anything to restrict the rights of any other person based solely upon the fact that that person is gay.

You, anti-gay Christian, have the God-given freedom and the American right to believe whatever you want, and to worship and congregate with anyone and everyone who shares your beliefs. What sane person would argue that?

It is not beliefs which make a person a bigot. It is actions.

– John Shore
Is Every Christian Against Gay Marriage a Bigot?
May 19, 2014

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:

Nicolas Chinardet Asks: "What Exactly is a Bigot?"
Naming and Confronting Bigotry
The Giant Pink Elephant of Religion-Based Bigotry
Quote of the Day – October 20, 2011
Soft Bigotry
More on the “Soft Bigotry” of Fr. James Livingston’s Recent Op-Ed
Quote of the Day – April 20, 2011
Frank Rich on the "Historic Turning Point in the Demise of America's Anti-gay Movement"

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Across the U.S., Anti-Marriage Equality Laws and Amendments are "Toppling Like a Line of Dominoes"


Perhaps, like me, you've had a hard time these past few weeks keeping up with the many advances in marriage equality that have been made across the U.S. It really has been quite something, hasn't it? I mean, in state after state, same-sex marriage bans have been either struck down or challenged as unconstitutional.

Since Edie Windsor's DOMA victory last June, there have been 18 consecutive court victories for marriage equality. These victories have come from judges appointed by both Democratic and Republican presidents. In just the past two weeks, courts in four states – Arkansas, Idaho, Oregon, and Pennsylvania – have ruled in favor of marriage equality. A decision is expected soon from the 4th Circuit Appeal Court on the Virginia same-sex marriage ban, which could bring marriage equality not only to Virginia but to all the other states in the 4th Circuit: North Carolina, South Carolina, and West Virginia (Maryland is already an equal marriage state).

Currently, 44 percent of U.S. citizens live in states with marriage equality on the books, including the entire northwest region of the country. More than one commentator has remarked that we are now way past the tipping point for acceptance of marriage equality – observations that have been recently confirmed by a Gallop poll that reports support for same-sex marriage at an all-time high of 55 percent.

Emily Bazelon, a senior editor at Slate and author of Sticks and Stones, provides a helpful summary and analysis of the unfolding situation when, in her May 20 article, "Who Needs the Supreme Court," she writes:

What’s amazing is that so far, all the courts have followed the equality move, and the momentum raises a question no one would have dreamed of a year ago: Will gay marriage become the law of the land without the Supreme Court doing anything more?

Here’s the map and the math (with thanks to my colleague Mark Stern, who had this at his fingertips):

• Three states have legalized gay marriage by popular vote (Washington, Maryland, Maine).

• Seven states got it through the legislature (Vermont, New Hampshire, New York, Delaware, Illinois, Rhode Island, Minnesota), plus the District of Columbia.

That’s 10 states, without help from judges. This reflects the smartest tactic of the gay-rights movement, which prioritized winning at the ballot box over winning big in the courts, since persuading voters means changing hearts and minds.

• In seven more states, beginning with Massachusetts a decade ago, gay marriage arrived through the courts (Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey, Iowa, New Mexico, California, Oregon).

• In seven more states, judges have struck down state bans, but the granting of marriage licenses is on hold, because an appeal is pending. And in four more, judges have issued limited pro-marriage decisions (requiring states to recognize a marriage for purposes of a death certificate, for instance).

Add it all up, including Pennsylvania, and we’ve arrived at 29 states where same-sex marriage is legal or on its way there unless an appeals court blocks it—past the halfway point and far past the tipping point. (Yes, 32 states still have laws or constitutional amendments on the books that deny marriage equality to same-sex couples. But those are the laws that are toppling like a line of dominoes.)

We’ve arrived here so much faster and more agreeably than anyone could have predicted even a year ago, when the challenges post-Windsor looked like they would split the district courts, take their time wending their way through the appellate process, and maybe arrive back at the Supreme Court in, say, 2017, safely after the next election. Instead, no judge wants to write the opinion denying the benefit of marriage. Judge John Jones of federal district court in Pennsylvania, who issued today’s ruling, was endorsed by none other than Rick Santorum, beloved of the religious right. Judges aren’t supposed to rule by the polls, but that doesn’t mean they’re unaffected by the rising tide of public support, especially among young people. As Northwestern University law professor Andrew M. Koppelman said to Adam Liptak in the New York Times: "It is becoming increasingly clear to judges that if they rule against same-sex marriage their grandchildren will regard them as bigots."

Of course, the best part of all the advances we're witnessing is seeing real people and families celebrating the legal recognition of the loving and life-giving unions of their same-sex loved ones. And of course, seeing the joy of same-sex couples themselves as, with marriage equality bans struck down, they journey to (and often wait in line at) their state court houses to be married. I'm happy to report that this was exactly the case with my friend and fellow gay Catholic blogger William D. Lindsey who, on May 12, married his longtime partner Steve in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Congratulations Bill and Steve!

On his always informative and insightful blog, Bilgrimage, William has been writing extensively about recent events in Arkansas (and indeed across the nation). He has also shared some wonderful anecdotes and images of his and Steve's marriage ceremony. Following is a sampling of William's recent posts:

Equality, Y'All: Marriage Equality Arrives in Arkansas — A Report from on the Ground

Sealed, Signed, Delivered, and Oh Happy Day: Steve and I Married Today in Little Rock

More Oh Happy Day: In Which I Tell the Rest of the Marriage Story

Photos from Yesterday's Wedding: "Equality is Always an Arc and the Arc of Justice Always Bends Toward Equality"

Hallucinating Arkansas and Our Big Fat Gay (Arkansas) Wedding: A Response to Those Who Have Asked, Why Arkansas?

Catholic Bishop of Arkansas Attacks "Same-Sex Marriage," Calls on State Supreme Court to Close Door Opened to Gay Couples to Marry

Why It's So Important for Same-Sex Couples to Have the Right to Marry in Arkansas (and Similar Places)

"It's Like 1957 in Little Rock, a New Dispensation": An Update on the Marriage Equality Story in Arkansas

Breaking News: Arkansas Supremes Stay Same-Sex Marriages in One-Sentence Ruling

Arc of the Moral Universe Arcs Through Little Old Arkansas, and We Move an Inch: Keeping Hope Alive

Marriage Equality in the U.S.: Where Things Now Stand — Overviews from the Latest News

I particularly appreciate Bill's thoughts on the May 20 tweet from blogger Rocco Palmo on the "shift in strategy" of the U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops (USCCB), a shift that sees it no longer issuing individual statements on rulings striking down state same-sex marriage bans.

Writes Bill:

It has to be becoming downright embarrassing for [the USCCB] to issue the same tired statements as state after state falls to human rights for a stigmatized minority group, with strong judicial statements noting that marriage is a human right and that the exclusion of gay people from civil marriage is malicious and harmful — not to mention, unconstitutional.

Each statement [the bishops] issue as another state falls only drives home the point, for thinking people with well-formed consciences, that they've placed themselves on the wrong side of history's moral arc, and have painfully and decisively hollowed out their moral authority to teach about human rights and concern for those on the margins. So that now fewer and fewer people listen to them any longer, no matter what the Michael Sean Winters of the church say about how authority resides at the top and should "force" us to "submit."

Amen, Bill! Amen.

Above: William Roletter, left, and Paul Rowe, press close to one another as they apply for their marriage certificate at City Hall in Philadelphia, May 21, 2014. Pennsylvania's ban on gay marriage was overturned by U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III on May 20. (Photo: Matt Rourke/AP)

Related Off-site Links:
Arkansas Judge Strikes Down State's Ban on Gay Marriage – Michael Winter (USA Today, May 9, 2014).
And Oregon Makes 18: Federal Judge Strikes Down State's Same-Sex Marriage Ban and the Nuptials Begin Immediately – Zack Ford (, May 19, 2014).
Judge Michael McShane Writes Unusually Personal Decision in Oregon Gay Marriage Case – Jeff Mapes (, May 19, 2014).
A Rough Day for the Anti-Gay National Organization for Marriage (NOM) – Amanda Terkel (HuffPost Politics, May 19, 2014).
Federal Judge Strikes Down Pennsylvania Same-Sex Marriage Ban – Chris Geidner (, May 20, 2014).
In Pennsylvania, Marriage Equality is Here to Stay – Mark Joseph Stern (Slate, May 21, 2014).
State-by-State: A Frenzied Few Months on the Same-Sex Marriage Front – Greg Botelho (CNN, May 21, 2014).
Gay Marriage Support Hits All-Time High of 55 Percent Nationwide, Gallup Poll FindsHuffPost Gay Voices (May 21, 2014).
Same-Sex Marriage Support Reaches New High at 55% – Justin McCarthy (, May 21, 2014).
Gay Marriage Battle Spreads to Montana, Beyond – Brady McCombs and Lisa Baumann (Associated Press, May 21, 2014).
North Dakota, South Dakota Only States Without Same-Sex Marriage Challenges – Associated Press via Minnesota Public Radio News (May 21, 2014).
Anti-Gay Leaders Incapable of Introspection in Light of Marriage Equality Losses – Alvin McEwen (Holy Bullies and Headless Monsters, May 22, 2014).
First Lawsuit To Strike Down South Dakota Same-Sex Marriage Ban Filed – David Badash (New Civil Rights Movement, May 22, 2014).
North Dakota is Now the Only State with An Unchallenged Gay Marriage Ban – Carson Walker and Kevin Burbach (Associated Press via HuffPost Politics, May 22, 2014).
Meet the Guy Who May Take the Last Unchallenged Gay Marriage Bans to Court – Niraj Chokshi (The Washington Post, May 22, 2014).
Legal Fight Over Gay Marriage Spreads to 30 States – Carson Walker and Brady McCombs (Associated Press via ABC News, May 22, 2014).
Which States Allow Gay Marriage?Mother Jones (May 22, 2014).
Federal Judges Now Seeing the Simple Truth About Gay Marriage: It's a Matter of Love and Equality – Nick Wing & Paige Lavender (HuffPost Politics, May 23, 2014).

UPDATES: With Eye on History, Judges Nix Gay Marriage Bans – David Crary (Associated Press via Yahoo! News, May 24, 2014).
U.S. Could Have Nationwide Marriage Equality in a Year, Says Lawyer – Trudy Ring (The Advocate, May 25, 2014).
U.S. Census Bureau to Recognize Married, Same-Sex Couples as FamiliesLGBTQ Nation (May 27, 2014).
The Week Republicans Stopped Fighting Marriage Equality – Chris Geidner (, May 30, 2014).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Signs and Wonders
Marriage: "Part of What is Best in Human Nature"
"I Want You to Become a Part of Me – Each to Become a Part of the Other"
The Same People
The Same Premise
The Changing Face of "Traditional Marriage"
What Straights Can Learn from Gay Marriage
Dr. Erik Steele and the "Naked Truth on Same-Sex Marriage"
Dale Carpenter on the "Win-Win" Reality of Gay Marriage

Image 1: An unidentified gay couple at Philadelphia's Liberty Bell. (Photographer unknown)
Image 2: Edith Windsor is mobbed by journalists and supporters as she leaves the Supreme Court in Washington, DC on March 27, 2013. (Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Image 3: Spencer Geiger, left, and Carl Johansen protest for equal marriage in Norfolk, Virginia, outside the courthouse where arguments are heard in Bostic v. Rainey on February 4, 2014. (Photo: Jay Paul/Getty Images)
Image 4: William D. Lindsey (seated) and his husband Steve. (Photo: Marcus Radhard)
Image 5: Matt Rourke/Associated Press, May 21, 2014.

Something to Think About . . .


Related Off-site Links:
Cardinal Praises Transvestite Conchita Wurst: "There is Multi-coloured Variety in God’s Garden" – Christa Pongratz-Lippitt (The Tablet, May 22, 2014).
What’s So Doctrinal About Gender Normative Clothing? – Bob Shine (Bondings 2.0, May 20, 2014).
Why Catholic Students Are Rallying Behind a Girl and Her Tuxedo – Lilit Marcus (Yahoo! Shine, May 19, 2014).

See also the previous Wild Reed post:
Signs and Wonders

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Quote of the Day

When people say that poetry is a luxury, or an option, or for the educated middle classes, or that it shouldn’t be read at school because it is irrelevant, or any of the strange and stupid things that are said about poetry and its place in our lives, I suspect that the people doing the saying have had things pretty easy. A tough life needs a tough language—and that is what poetry is. That is what literature offers—a language powerful enough to say how it is.

It isn’t a hiding place. It is a finding place.

Related Off-site Link:
Only Six Books: Excerpt From Jeanette Winterson’s New MemoirThe Daily Beast (March 6, 2012).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
The Potential of Art and the Limits of Rigid Orthodoxy to Connect Us to the Sacred
Remembering Wilfred Owen
"Thou Hast Thy Music Too"
After Loving
E. M. Forster's "Elusive Ideal"
Don Gorton on the Significance of Maurice (Part 1)
Don Gorton on the Significance of Maurice (Part 2)
At Swim, Two Boys: A Beautiful Novel
Love At Love's Brightest
Remembering Doris Lessing, 1919-2013
As the Last Walls Dissolve . . . Everything is Possible
Time and Remembrance in the Poldark Novels
"Hers Would Be the Perpetual Ache of Loss and Loneliness"
Passion, Time and Tide
Quote of the Day – November 22, 2013

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Signs and Wonders

Put it down to yesterday's post on the transforming bursting-forth of spring if you like, but tonight I'm inspired to share my hope and belief that God's transforming love breaks through into the world through the actions of humans – humans who are mindful and responsive to this love both in the depths of their being and in all aspects of creation around them. As Mother Teresa once said, "God loves the world through us – you and me."

Accordingly, I also believe that the signs and wonders of love and justice, healing and inclusion, wholeness and new life that our brother Jesus so beautifully and powerfully embodied continue to be experienced today through the actions of those open to God's spirit of transforming love.

As a follow of Jesus, I refer to this spirit as the Christos and attempt to daily embody it as best I can. I'm also on the look out for inspiring and hopeful examples of others embodying this love, and the signs and wonders that result. I'd like to highlight this evening three such examples of this embodying of God's transforming spirit of compassion and justice. May they encourage and inspire you as much they do me!

Let's start with the following news report concerning Jessica Urbina, a non-gender conforming student at San Francisco's Sacred Heart Cathedral Preparatory School, who was told that her picture would not appear in the school yearbook because it violated a policy on "required dress for female students."

Notes the Associated Press:

Sacred Heart has issued a formal apology to Jessica and her parents, Tony and Ana Urbina, and have said that Jessica's photo will indeed appear in the school yearbook. The letter, co-authored by John F. Scudder, Jr (the school's president) and Gary Cannon (the principal) was published on Sacred Heart's website and also addressed concerns from gay and lesbian alumni: "While we believe SHC to be a safe and supportive environment for all, this situation has reminded us that we still have much growth to achieve. While many gay and lesbian alumni and students have commented on the inclusive, supportive aspect of our school community, others have remarked on some prejudice that still exists. As a school, we must better learn how to support our students who are navigating issues of gender identity.

Another hopeful and encouraging aspect of this story is the overwhelming support that Jessica has received from her fellow Catholic students and the wider community

Jessica's brother, Michael Urbina, a budding activist, didn't take his sister's yearbook rejection lightly. He started a grassroots campaign, #JessicasTux, asking other high schoolers to wear bow ties to school last Friday, then post the pictures on Twitter and Instagram. The campaign took off, and soon Jessica had thousands of supporters from around the country.

"I've seen all these people with all the ties. Honestly, I've cried multiple times. I'm overwhelmed with all the support," Jessica told the local San Francisco NBC affiliate.

I find it incredibly hopeful that the leadership of this Catholic institution has the courage to admit that it (and by extension all of us) are still growing in understanding of complex issues such as gender identity – and, I'd add, sexual orientation. The logical next step is to admit that our church's teachings on these matters are not set in stone but rather also still in a process of development.

I also appreciate Bob Shine's recent comments on the incident at Sacred Heart:

While this story had a positive ending, we still need to address the question of why this incident, and the harm done to Jessica, occurred at all. The Archdiocese of San Francisco mandating that women wear dresses for senior photos is not based in Church teaching, nor does it emerge from wise pastoral practice. It is silly and outdated, and nothing more than a naked attempt by the hierarchy to suppress contemporary understandings of gender.

Let’s hope that Sacred Heart Cathedral Prep’s example, both in how damaging their mistake was and in their willingness to learn through the process of dialogue,will inform other Church institutions such that they will avoid future incidents.

For more on this story click here.

For the official statement released by the Urbina family, click here.


I have to say that I always get inspired when those in positions of authority within the Roman Catholic clerical caste free themselves from the strictures of this caste and actually embody the definitely un-caste focused message and example of Jesus. An example of this occurred recently when a bishop in Malta, Charles Scicluna, celebrated International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, and Transphobia with a gay Catholic group.

Here's an excerpt from a Malta Times article about this, well, wonderful development.

Drachma LGBTI and Drachma Parents Support Group organised a thanksgiving Eucharistic celebration to commemorate the annual International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, as well as the tenth anniversary from the foundation of the Drachma Community.

The celebration, held at the Carmelite Church in Mdina, was celebrated by Mgr. Charles Scicluna, Auxiliary Bishop of Malta, together with a number of priests who have over the years supported Drachma in its pastoral work among the LGBTI community.

. . . "The Drachma Community hopes that this celebration can serve as a clear message against all forms of homophobia and transphobia in our society. This celebration also demonstrates that it is possible for LGBTI persons to fully integrate their sexuality with their spirituality," the group said.

Drachma LGBTI was founded in 2004 by a group of young LGBTI persons, with the aim of exploring their faith in connection with their sexuality. Today it includes lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgendered and intersex persons, as well as friends of LGBTI individuals who wish to meet to pray together and explore the connections between sexuality, gender, gender identity, faith, spirituality and religion.

"Drachma is a group largely inspired by the Christian tradition, values and spirituality but is open to people coming from different religious traditions or none at all. Drachma also explores ecumenical and inter-faith spaces," the group said.


And here's a third example of an inspiring and hopeful "sign and wonder": Earlier today a federal judge in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania struck down that state's ban on same-sex marriage. It's the second such ruling this week by a federal court and the 14th consecutive ruling in favor of marriage equality.

Wrote U.S. District Judge John E. Jones:

Some of our citizens are made deeply uncomfortable by the notion of same-sex marriage. However, that same-sex marriage causes discomfort in some does not make its prohibition constitutional. Nor can past tradition trump the bedrock constitutional guarantees of due process and equal protection. . . . Were that not so, ours would still be a racially segregated nation according to the now rightfully discarded doctrine of ‘separate but equal.' . . . In future generations the label same-sex marriage will be abandoned, to be replaced simply by marriage.


And in related news, and as a way to close this posting on hopeful "signs and wonders" of God's transforming presence in the world, I share the words of U.S. District Judge Michael McShane, one of just nine openly gay judges on the federal bench. Raised in a conservative Catholic family and a member of the Jesuit Volunteer Corps in his youth, McShane had the following to say yesterday when striking down as unconstitutional Oregon’s same-sex marriage ban:

With discernment we see not shadows lurking in closets or the stereotypes of what was once believed. Rather, we see families committed to the common purpose of love, devotion, and service to the community. . . . To those who truly harbor such fears I can only say this: Let us look less to the sky to see what might fall; rather, let us look to each other . . . and rise.

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Sign of Hope and Creativity
Something We Dare Call Hope
The Triumph of Love
"A Courageous Document"
Clarity, Hope, and Courage
Journeying Into the Truth . . . Valiantly, of Course!
Robert McClory's "Prophetic Work"
In the Eye of the Storm, a Tree of Living Flame
Getting It Right
To Believe in Jesus
As the Last Walls Dissolve . . . Everything is Possible

Opening Image: "The Raising of Lazarus" by Edward Knippers.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Let the Greening Begin . . .

One of the things I've enjoyed most since returning from my recent visit to Australia is observing the return of spring here in Minnesota.

I've always loved this time of year, and resonate with the deep spiritual significance I discern in all the unfolding transformations and bursting forth of new life that we get to witness after the often tomb-like experience of winter. Life spirals ever forward . . . and spring reminds us of this truth in a particularly hopeful and vibrant way. No wonder I use the season as a metaphor when naming and sharing my coming out story – that special type of story, of journeying, that is an act of holiness. I say this because I think for most who have experienced it, coming out entails moving out of a life-denying existence into new life. Kinda like a butterfly emerging from its cocoon!

This evening, however, the focus isn't so much on the spiritual aspect of coming out as it is on sharing some of the photographs I've taken over the past three weeks. As I've mentioned before, I'm very fortunate to live close to Minnehaha Creek and its surrounding parkway. It was in this beautiful area of south Minneapolis that all these photos were taken.

I should also note that although I've previously shared the Joyce Rupp prayer that accompanies these images, I share it again as its words and heart-felt intent seem particularly meaningful to me at this time in my life and journey. Perhaps this prayer will be equally powerful and meaningful to you too!

A Springtime Prayer

Ever-renewing and energizing Creator,
Come, stir in my dormant spiritual limbs.

Wake up my tired prayer.
Revive my weary efforts of care.
Sing hope into my discouragement.

Wash my dusty, drab attitude
with the cleansing rains of your vision.

Go deep to my roots and penetrate my faith
with the vibrancy of your grace.

Shake loose the old leftover oak leaves
of my tenacious ego-centeredness.

Coax joy to sprout from my difficulties.

Warm the buds of my relationships
so they bloom with healthy love.

Clear out my wintered debris
with the wild breeze of your liberating presence.

Nudge me, woo me, entice me, draw me to you.

I give you my trust and my gratitude as you
grace my slowly thawing spirit.

Light-filled Being, my Joy and my Hope,
let the greening in me begin.

Above: My friend and housemate Tim, standing beside Minnehaha Creek – April 20, 2014. If you look carefully you can see at the edge of the creek the last remnants of winter ice.

Above: Friends (from left) John, Bob (holding Emmet), Rick, Brian, and Tim – Sunday, May 17, 2014.

Above: Minnehaha Creek in flood – May 19, 2014.

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
In the Footsteps of Spring: Introduction
In the Footsteps of Spring: Part 1 – The Light Within
In the Footsteps of Spring: Part 2 – Shards of Summer
In the Footsteps of Spring: Part 3 – Intimate Soliloquies
In the Footsteps of Spring: Part 4 – Coming Out
In the Footsteps of Spring: Part 5 – No Stranger Am I
Full Bloom

Waiting in Repose for Spring's Awakening Kiss
Spring in Minnesota (2007)
"Jubilation is My Name": Spring in Minnesota (2008)
Spring Garden (2009)
A Perfect Day (2009
A Springtime Walk Along Minnehaha Creek (2012)
Spring Snow (2013)
The End of a Very Long Winter (2013)

Images: Michael Bayly.