Aldon Hynes's blog

Reflections on Orlando

Terms of Engagement

I seek to have open and honest discussions about what has happened. Fundamental to this is a willingness to listen to what others are saying and a willingness to change one’s own opinion. If you are trying to score points for your side, I’m not really interested. If you believe that President Obama is a Muslim or was somehow involved with the Orlando shootings, I cannot take you seriously. I cannot even be your friend on Facebook. The same goes to people who believe that the right to have a weapon that can fire over 180 rounds a minute or have magazines that contain more than ten rounds trumps the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.


My first reaction is grief and sadness. I recognize the desire to address the problems of hatred and gun violence in America. It is urgent. However, I believe it is important to own our grief, to sit with our grief, to not rush off to do something right away, as a means of not dealing with our grief. If you haven’t wept for the victims in Orlando, for those who loved them, and for our country, that may be the most important thing you need to do right now.


A friend posted on Facebook

Reach out to someone who is Latinx and a member of the LGBTQ community and let them know that you value and support them. If you don't already know someone like that, it's time to make a new acquaintance. Their heartache knows no bounds today.

Current estimates are that about .3% of the population is trans. What percentage of the people you know are trans? I have around 3000 friends on Facebook. Off the top of my head, I can think of seven friends that are transgender. To match the demographics, it should be about nine, so I’m about in range. There are probably others that are I just don’t know their gender identity.

Three to four percent of the population identify as LGBT. I don’t know what percentage of my friends identify as LGBT, but that sounds about right. A my friend above suggested, if you don’t know someone who identifies as LGBT, you need to find some LGBT people to become friends with.

Likewise, about 17% of the population is Latinx. What percentage of your friends are Latinx?

You need to show solidarity and shared grief with Latinx and LGBT friends.


Another friend posted

Don’t Pray for Orlando, Fight Against Hateful Ideology

As many of you know, I am exploring becoming an Episcopal priest. I understand the need for calls to action, but I believe saying “Don’t Pray…” is misguided. It creates a false dichotomy and promotes black and white thinking: either we pray or we do something.

If we say instead, don’t JUST pray, or don’t pray without doing something, or don’t pray as a political statement as an effort to avoid taking responsibility, then we are saying something much truer and more important. Prayer should change us. Prayer should move us to help make the world a better place.

Congressman Jim Himes framed it very well in his speech, No More Silence. Moments of silence are important to deal with grief and to show solidarity with others that grieve. However, if your job is to serve the common good and when you are asked what you are doing to address hatred and gun violence in this country, and all you offer is silence, you are not doing your job. “When you bow your head and think about what you will say to your God … there will be silence.”

Counter Narrative

Besides the obvious efforts of improving gun safety in America, there are other things that we can change. A good starting point is to think about counter narrative. Congressman Himes does a little bit of this in talking about the victims. Do you know more about the gunman or the victims? We need to know the victims. You can start with this list.

The official narrative talks about the gunman’s support for ISIS. The official narrative doesn’t talk about his interest in the New York Police Department, his posting selfies of himself in unofficial NYPD garb. It doesn’t fit the story that people are trying to tell us.

There is another counter narrative that people may mention in passing, but doesn’t seem to get as much attention as it should, the gunman’s history of domestic abuse. This counter narrative jumps out at me because of a Muslim woman I know who was a victim of domestic abuse. In Muslim communities, too often women who suffer domestic abuse are told to be quiet about it, to not speak out. We need to encourage all people, and perhaps especially right now, Muslim women, to speak out against domestic violence.


Some of my atheist friends are quick to blame the violence on religion. They claim that no one kills people in the name of atheism. They may even be so bold as to claim that atheists have no beliefs. They may believe that, but it sounds self-contradictory to me. Blaming people of various different religious beliefs, include a belief in “No God” and the religion of “atheism” is just as bad as blaming people of various sexual orientations, gender identities, races, or ethnicities.

In the discussion about the “Don’t Pray” post, a friend wrote,

in this country, right now, religion has been playing a dangerous role in promoting hate speech and violent acts against those who don't fit the mold. So right now, religious organizations across the country need to take a hard look at the part they have been playing in the outbreak of gun violence and mass murders.

This is something many of my religious friends have also been saying, especially my Methodist friends lamenting the lack of support for LGBT people at their General Conference which recently ended. It is something many of my Episcopalian friends have been talking about as they celebrate the decision of the Scottish Episcopal Church at their synod to pave the way for allowing same sex marriages, despite threats from others in the Anglican Communion.

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Father's Day 2016

Father’s Day
two thousand and sixteen:
The Psalm asks
“Why are you so full of heaviness, O my soul?”
and I respond
because no one heeds the epistle
“There is no longer Jew or Greek,”
and I think of Orlando;
straight or gay,
Muslim or Christian,
and all the other
false divisions
for we are all one in Christ Jesus.

Then I read the Old Testament lesson
and the news headlines,
but the Lord was not in the news headlines,
and I read the social media posts
but the Lord was not in the social media posts
so I sat quietly
and wept
for Stanley
and Amanda
and Oscar
and Cory
and Tevin
and Javier
and the list just goes on and on
and the Lord was in
the sound of sheer silence.

So I read the Gospel
and the news headlines
and found our woes are called
for many demons
have entered our political discourse.

Then I returned to the Psalm
“Why are you so full of heaviness, O my soul?”
and I replied
“I will yet give thanks to God.”

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“I don’t know how to love him”
plays in my brain
as I read this week’s lesson.

“A woman of the city,
who was a sinner”
and I stop to think
of my own sinfulness.

George Herbert asks,
“She being stain’d her self,
why did she strive
To make him clean”?

Yet I find myself with Mary
stain’d my self
not knowing
“What to do, how to move him”
“Should I scream and shout?
Should I speak of love,
Let my feelings out?”

On Facebook
a friend shared a link
“Thinking about ordination?
Think again”
and the soundtrack
of Jesus Christ
swells in my soul:

If he said he loved me
I'd be lost
I'd be frightened”

“Entering this ministry
will be one of the hardest things
you will ever do”

After fifty six years
I’m still trying to find
the ministries
I’m called to.

In our Baptismal Vows
we are all called
to seek and serve Christ
in all persons.
That is hard enough

But when and why
are we called
to be
or other roles
in the church?

The article warns
that for the ordained
“You’ll be made to feel insignificant…”
“You will feel a deep sense of loneliness…”
“You will have friends who will walk away from you…
“You will disappoint people…”
“You will disappoint yourself…”

Even just in discernment
I have felt most of this.

Another song from
Mary in
Jesus Christ Superstar
comes to mind.

“Can we start again please?”
As I wander down
this discernment path
when it gets tough
and I know that I cannot do this
I long for the days
when I could blissfully
convince myself
I had not heard God’s Call.

Then an upcoming lesson
“No one who puts a hand
to the plow
and looks back
is fit for the kingdom of God”

I am not fit
for the kingdom of God.
I have disappointed people
I have disappointed myself.
I have disappointed God.
I am not worthy
so much
as to gather the crumbs.

“But thou art the same Lord,
whose property is always
to have mercy”

The article ends,
“Maybe you can’t do this.
That’s okay.
Because God can.”

And Mary’s lyrics come back
“He scares me so
I want him so
I love him so”

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If you blame the gorilla
you’re part of the problem
If you blame the parents
you’re part of the problem
If you blame the child
you’re part of the problem.
If you blame the zookeepers
you’re part of the problem.

If you blame
a former first lady,
a senator,
or real estate developer
you’re part of the problem.

If you blame
the refugees
the immigrants
single young mothers
struggling to get by
you’re part of the problem.

If you blame
the victim
the system
the lawyers
or press
you’re part of the problem

If you blame yourself
but do nothing
to address the wrongs
you’re still part of the problem.

We are all part of the problem.
Too often
we don’t love
our neighbor as ourselves
if the neighbor seems
or simply
different from ourselves.

We find
those parts
of ourselves
we don’t like
in others
and blame them
of seeking to repair
what we don’t like
about ourselves.

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A Reflection on Mary Magdalene

I’ve been thinking a lot
Mary Magdalene
ever since
stumbling across
George Herbert’s poem
of the same name.

As a straight white cis male
in the established church
I have the privilege
to not worry
the concerns of her sisters.

When I go to the bathroom
that matches
my gender identity
and gender expression
no one questions
my decision.

When I go out for drinks
I don’t have to worry
about someone
roofying my drink
or being found
behind a dumpster
by a swimmer.

I don’t have to worry
about getting paid
seventy percent
of what my coworkers make
or about a glass ceiling
limiting my career.

Yet there is all the more need
for me and my brothers
to wash our Savior’s feet
with our tears.

Ours is not the sin of commission,
through any fault of the victim.
Ours is the sin of omission,
of benefiting from injustice
and saying nothing
doing nothing
to correct
the wrong.

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