The Wedding at The Castro

At church on Maundy Thursday evening, we washed one another’s feet. Our seminarian shared a homily about Jesus upending power structures as he commanded all of us to love one another. My mind wandered to Indiana. Would Jesus refuse to serve gay people at a restaurant? It doesn’t fit with my reading of the Gospel. More likely, he would have sat down with them and shared a pizza and Gov. Pense and the Republican legislators would ask him, “Why do you eat and drink with gay people and sinners?” (Luke 5:30).

Of course, the bigger issue in Indiana, and other states, is same-sex marriage. Certain Evangelical Christians feel that marriage is a sacrament reserved for one man and one woman. Because of this, they cannot, in good conscience cater a gay wedding.

The story that jumps out here is the wedding at Cana. What if that wedding had been in The Castro District of San Francisco in the early 80s? Would Jesus have gone? Would he have turned water into wine? Would he have healed those with AIDS?

All of these thoughts swirl in my mind as I see the headline, Poll: Gay People More Popular Than Evangelicals.

It brings to mind the quote from John Lennon

Christianity will go. It will vanish and shrink. I needn't argue about that; I'm right and I'll be proved right. We're more popular than Jesus now; I don't know which will go first—rock 'n' roll or Christianity. Jesus was all right but his disciples were thick and ordinary. It's them twisting it that ruins it for me.

There was quite a backlash to this, even though there was a lot of truth to those words and it makes me wonder what the reaction to the poll will be.

The title of the article is disturbing to me, not because gays are more popular than evangelical Christians, but because it sets up a false dichotomy. The article mentions in passing, towards the very end, that 45% of evangelical Christians ages 18-29 favor same-sex marriages. Those who define the church in terms of social issues that exclude large groups of people are the ones that seem to be doing the most damage to Christianity.

Tomorrow morning, churches will be filled with people in their Easter finest. Will they hear the message of a risen Lord who heals the sick, washes his disciples’ feet and loves those that the leaders of the day reject, or will they hear a message of self-righteousness that seems to me to deny the very reason for the crucifixion and resurrection.

Good Friday Fog

We know the science behind fog
when the water vapor begins to condense.
We know the poetry behind fog
on little cat feet.
We know confusion of fog,
the fog of war or a foggy mind.

This evening, I drove to church in a fog.
Snow, melting on a warm day
and condensing on a cool night.
The family cat died earlier this week.
My wife and daughter have been sick
and I’m going to church
to contemplate
the mystery
Good Friday.

I know the story,
I’ve heard it year after year,
but like the fog
there is still a beautiful mystery.

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Maundy Thursday

How do you wash feet online?
I’m not talking about posting about it
on Facebook
I’m at Maundy Thursday Service
at Grace and St. Peter’s.

And I’m obviously not talking
about something physical
with water.

No, I’m thinking about
how we subvert power structures,
how leaders become servants
and how we allow others
to serve us
in our brokenness.

It isn’t easy
to step outside of the power structure
no matter what your role
particularly online
where snark reigns supreme
but it seems
desperately needed.

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April Fools' Day 2015

Rabbit, Rabbit, Rabbit. April Fool’s Day, 2015. I think back to all the great April Fool’s pranks over the years, and I wondered what good pranks there would be this year. Perhaps I was too tired, too busy, or just too distracted, but I really didn’t see any great pranks. The only two that stood out was the augmented reality game, Ingress, being taken over by Pacman charactrs, and a co-worker who made brownies out of brown construction paper, cutting the paper in the shape of the letter E.

Yet with the news these days, it has become harder and harder to tell what is a prank, and what people really believe.

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Politics and Eggs – O’Malley

The progressive populist technocrat of deep faith as seen from the Matrix

OK, now I'm supposed to say, "Hmm, that's interesting, but... " then you say...

For some reason, the Oracle’s line from The Matrix comes to mind as I sit down to write about hearing Governor O’Malley speak at Politics and Eggs in New Hampshire this morning. Everyone else is writing inside baseball, covering the horse race aspects of the 2016 presidential campaign. I figure, maybe I should write it as a theatre review.

The dress rehearsal of “O’Malley for President” had a wonderful, though a bit clichéd script, right out of the progressive populist playbook. “This great story we have the opportunity to write together...” Talking about how we all grew up believing “if you work hard, you can get ahead…”

He talked about his father seeing signs, “no Irish need apply… He never forgot that and neither have I”. He got the quote from Micah 6:8 in there about acting justly, loving mercy and walking humbly with our God.

He spoke about trickle down economics driving us into the recession and what makes economies grow, and countries strong, is a growing middle class. Perhaps his best line was about immigration, saying that the symbol of America is not barbed wire fence, it is the Statue of Liberty.

I remember in high school hearing a clarinet recital by my music teacher. It was phenomenal, or so I thought. Yet all the reviews talked about the performance being wooden, sounding like someone practicing their scales.

So, the quote from the Matrix comes to mind. It is the story line that the new kids on the bus have already written for the election season. We need a Democratic primary. We need an anti-Hillary. Hillary is old, flawed and unstoppable. She has the reverse Midas touch. Everything she touches turns to scandal. The press has a palpable sense of exhaustion in dealing with these scandals. We need to get to real issues. And yet it is the press that focuses on the horse race and the scandals.

One of the reporters commented on not seeing O’Malley igniting the grassroots enthusiasm that Obama did. In The Matrix, the Oracle goes on to say:

Sorry, kid. You got the gift, but it looks like you're waiting for something.

This progressive populist technocrat with deep faith.

It is an odd combination. I always think of technocrats as being centrist and faith being a domain of the right. Can O’Malley pull of uniting these?

There were a few believers in the audience, people who had lived in Baltimore when O’Malley was a councilman there, a bright and upcoming New England mayor who has looked to O’Malley as a mentor. Yet most of the crowd was made up of rich old white male power brokers, not exactly the crowd to respond to a progressive populist’s message.

So, the real question is, will O’Malley be able to draw in people who weren’t at the politics and eggs breakfast. He had a strong inclusive message, “The more people included, the better we can all do”. Will we see that in his campaign organization? He spoke of open data and performance management. Will we see performance management techniques applied to the campaign?

He said we have to look to one another. Will he do that in his campaign? And then, there is the role of money in politics. Has Citizen’s United moved our political system so firmly into high dollar donor based campaign structure that we are stuck with political dynasties?

For a dress rehearsal, it was a good performance. O’Malley knew his lines, even if the delivery was a little wooden. The script was solid. Yet there are many performances between now and primary day in New Hampshire. Perhaps it is best to wrap up this review with another quote from the Matrix.

I wanna tell you a little secret, being the one is just like being in love. No one needs to tell you you are in love, you just know it, through and through.

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