April 27, 2007

Big ol' gay Mass

Trolling for stories today on my favorite right-wing Catholic blog, I discovered this tidbit about a big ol' gay Catholic Mass being celebrated in San Francisco, and broadcast live on BBC radio -- purportedly the first ever such broadcast to approach the issue of what it means to be gay and christian by the BBC.
Sadly, the article paints a picture of questionable motives by some participants -- highlighting the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, (members seen pictured above), a drag group who is known to dress as nuns, pass out sex toys and evangelize with a "go and sin some more" motto. Cheeky and cute, but I fear it is ultimately damaging to the cause and provides way too much ammunition for those who fear "godless homosexuals." There is a time and place for confrontation, and I don't think that the Mass is that place. Just sayin'.
Much more interestingly, the Mass is being celebrated by a U.S. Jesuit preist, Father Donal Godfrey, who said he was delighted the BBC was "exploring how gay people fit into the perspective of the Christian narrative."
"Being gay is not special," he said. "It's simply another gift from God who created us as rainbow people." Can I get an amen? I'm sure Fr. Godfrey is going to catch holy hell for this, so let's be sure to lend him our support.
The preacher will be James Alison — a homosexual British Catholic theologian and author of 'Is it ethical to be Catholic? — Queer perspectives'. I'd love to examine his perspectives, because I am woefully insulated at my super-de-duper gay friendly Catholic Church on Chicago's northside. But particularly because I am only now starting to come out in this community, I could use all the info I can get, as I'm sure I'll run into the full spectrum of reactions.

April 17, 2007

Chocolate vs. kissing

Still on a high from my, um, passionate weekend with my girlfriend, I stumbled on this story that gave me pause. From the article:
    "There is no doubt that chocolate beats kissing hands down when it comes to providing a long-lasting body and brain buzz -- a buzz that, in many cases, lasted four times as long as the most passionate kiss."

Now, I love chocolate. I mean I reaaaaally love the stuff, particularly dark chocolate. That milk chocolate stuff is for lightweights. But really, as much as I love chocolate, I cannot say that these results are anywhere near accurate, in my humble opinion. A fine piece of dark chocolate might inspire a little happy dance, a sugar buzz and a brief moment of euphoria, but cannot produce the tummy flips, temperature rise and lustful out-of-body experience of a truly passionate kiss.
I have to wonder if the 20-sometings they used for this study were adept kissers, because I think that could skew the results significantly. I for one would rather subsit on truffles than bother with a bad kisser. For that matter, I could probably get a bigger high from eating a piece of liver sausage, than from playing tonsil-hockey with a bad kisser.
Luckily, I don't have to suffer that fate.....
So lets hear it. Chocolate vs. kissing: which tickles your fancy?

April 16, 2007

Why o why

Well, I haven't had much of a desire to write anything here for awhile. Recently, another blogger asked me just what was the purpose of my blog.
I honestly couldn't answer, accept to say that after my friend Delle died, I felt compelled to do what she asked of me: write more. And Delle wrote so beautifully, so prophetically. She had a real gift for it. She was convinced that I could be a pretty decent writer if I put my mind to it. High praise from someone I deeply respected -- and who had earned the respect due her as a published author, screenwriter, and frequent preacher at St. Gertrude's Catholic Church.
So, I'm trying to fill some pretty big shoes -- shoes that I know I never can fill.
I know that she would want me to be writing about faith -- and I'm doing my best to do that here. I don't think it's any coincidence that a good deal of my readers (and friends, for that matter) are agnostics and atheists, not to mention fallen-away Catholics. Do my words resonate with them, even if we do not agree? I hope so.
But perhaps I'd like to expand my topics a little. There are so many other intersting things that I observe and parts of my life that I'd love to write about. I've always had trouble nailing down just what to write about, which is why I set such narrow paramaters here on this blog. Am I ready to expand? Write about more? Would anyone even care? Or would this blog just devolve into a daily navel-gazing diatribe -- as if anyone would want to read about the minutae of my daily existence.
So, for now, I'm not sure where I want to go. Anyone got a map?

April 12, 2007

The Secret: it's grace.

There's been a lot of buzz recently about The Secret, a new-age movie out on DVD, extolling the virtues of "The Law of Attraction." Admittedly, I have not yet seen the film, but I've been involved in New Age religious circles enough to get the gist of it: The Law of Attraction is about creating our own reality, as "co-creators" with God, with the power of our intentions.
Now, without wading into the dozens of philisophical questions this theory proposes (and oh, there are many), I'd like to just point out the one huge glaring ommission -- the thing that has always left a bad taste in my mouth -- when it comes to the religious philosophies based on this theory. Scientology, Christian Science, Religious Science and others all claim this concept as the basis of their religous teachings. God wants us to have what we want (especially skads of money, in the case of Scientology), and we have the power to make it all happen. In essence, we are gods.
Now I have no doubt that there is enormous power in our intentions. I have witnessed this firsthand in my own life. But when I make an affirmation for my life, when I pray, when I ask the universe to deliver whatever it is that fulfills my needs -- I do so without an arrogant belief that I have created this reality. Instead, I recognize the key component to manifesting our desires -- and that is the gift of grace. Without the gift of grace -- the intersession of God -- we would have no power to create. Some may call this the divine intention -- but I think that it is important to recognize and acknowledge that the divine intention -- the gift of grace -- is in all that we ask for. "Not my will, but thine be done." This makes our intentions a powerful act of submission, which I frankly think scares the pants off of many in New Age circles. It's an admission that we are, in fact, not in control. We can only ask, and receive. And afterward, hopefully, give thanks.
A week ago, I asked for a list of things, and by the power of Grace, all was delivered to me by weeks end. It would be the height of arrogance for me to believe that *I* was able to manifest all of my wants and desires by some force of my own will. No, it is in submission that we receive, and someone better let the rest of the world in on that secret.

April 06, 2007

Do not be afraid

Delle at Aunt Lossie's 1
Today is Good Friday, a day that I have anticipated with many tears in the past few weeks. I know she wouldn't like it, but I just can't bring myself to go to the services today. Instead, I will remember and let myself be comforted by good friends, on this day. Delle Chatman was my spiritual mother, and passed on after a 4-year long battle with Ovarian Cancer, on election day last November. Delle was a prophet, and I don't have any problems saying so -- for anyone who ever spent more than a few moments in her presence, or who heard her speak from the pulpit at St. Gertrude's church, knew it. I swear, sometimes I could see that woman's halo! Knowing her transformed my faith in more ways that I can list here. And Good Friday was all hers -- as she presided over the services that day. She is with me today, even if it is not her arms that will cradle the cross as the faithful process up to kiss it. I miss you, Delle. And I will try not to be afraid today.


Homily written and delivered by Delle Chatman
Scripture Verses: Matthew 28:1-10
St. Gertrude’s Catholic Parish
March 27, 2005

The first day of the week was dawning.

The first day of the week?

That’s Monday. For you and me. Christians start the week after Sunday, their sabbath, so Monday is our first day of the week. For Mary from Magdala – whose reputation will have us, her descendants thinking of her as a reformed prostitute when the gospel shows us that she was perhaps the bravest disciple on Good Friday, along with the Lord’s mother, and Mary, the mother of James and John. It is no sin to look to these women as heroes, and to give St. John his due as well for sticking it out at the foot of the cross. I’m not going to linger there because we’ve moved on. The clock kept ticking, the hours kept using by and this morning our gospel story picks up on the disciples’ first day of the week.

It was a bloody, awful, scary, heart-breaking Monday morning. For these two women and hundreds others throughout Judea, thousands of people who had been fed, healed, and encouraged by Jesus but remained silent on Good Friday and watched Jesus die from a distance. Now it is the first day of the week after a weekend of Hell on earth.

And these two women head for the Lord’s tomb. That is where they most want and need to be right now. There is a burial ritual that has not been completed, He died so quickly even Pilate was shocked Jesus hadn’t lasted longer on the cross. Joseph of Arimethea helped out with a burial linen and a tomb, but they were hurrying to get the body wrapped by sundown when the Sabbath would begin. These two Marys found it in them to return to the tomb, return to the crime scene, in order to fulfill the last and the least tribute to this soul that had been driven out of its body so cruelly.

Probably if they hadn’t gone, Jesus’ mother would have. Mary, Jesus’ mother, probably had to be restrained. Perhaps Magdala had to promise to do it, or Mary was going to go, by herself if she had to. He couldn’t just be thrown in a tomb and forgotten. What mother present could have borne that?

So Magdala and the mother of James and John go. By the way James and John were from Zebedee and their nickname was "the sons of thunder." Sons of thunder. Only not on Good Friday, huh? Their mother has to go and fulfill the custom for their slain leader.

And what do these two women run into?

An earthquake.

An angel.

And the Lord Himself. Resurrected in the flesh.

Both the angel and the Lord have to tell them not to fear.

"Then the angel said to the women in reply,

"Do not be afraid!

In reply? I wonder what the women said. Most likely they screamed.

"Do not be afraid," Jesus tells them after they have embraced his feet, and bowed before him again and again."

Magdala and the other Mary have to be told not to fear twice because the fear that had overwhelmed all the disciples was intense, maybe even ingrained. They were an occupied people who had just witnessed the savage execution of their teacher.

It is so easy to feel superior to Peter after those three denials, but which one of us honestly would have spoken up and said, "Oh, yes, he was my teacher, my leader, I pretty much worshipped the ground he walked on." Which of us would have copped to it that awful night?

Terrified! They were all terrified! And, brothers and sisters, so are we. Big things scare us, little things scare us. Things we don’t even spend time thinking about scare us when we do think about them.

What do we do about our fears?

Mainly we complain about them. For some reason, this Lenten season I became hyper-sensitive to the amount of complaining that I do and that I hear. I first looked at Easter morning as a perfect time to encourage you and myself to stop complaining. I became very sensitive to the amount of complaining we all do in the course of the day.

We complain about the weather. No matter what the weather is, there will be someone somewhere complaining about it.

We complain about the cost of things. Gas prices are up, and headed higher. The Fed says inflation is becoming an issue. Prescription drugs? Don’t get me started. I can start myself.

I made the mistake of telling my ten year old daughter Ramona that I was going on a "don’t complain" campaign. And then I complained out loud when a prescription drug I take slid off the we-will-cover-this-list on to a we-won’t-cover-it-no-way-you-can’t-make-us list. Many, many people in this church right now know exactly what I’m talking about. The loss of coverage was a blow, no doubt about it.

But my daughter heard me squealing and said, "Don’t complain, Mommy."

I felt like I was going to choke. I tried explaining to her that I had the right to complain, I was being broadsided by the system, this, I said, "Is like someone taking away the money we need to buy that Sims game you’re so wild for."

But she kept on with, "Don’t complain."

And I realized that it was a lot harder to practice than to preach. So, I went to work to try to make it easier on myself to not complain. Why was I complaining?

Well, that’s easy, I was complaining because I was afraid I would run out of . . .

And when you complain about the cost of anything if you boil the complaint down to its essence it’s coming out of fear . . .

We complain about the weather because we can not control it. And that scares us.

We complain about the people we call our friends because we can see their flaws (and – duh, they can see ours) and we’re afraid somewhere that when the chips are down they might not really be there for us.

We complain about our spouses, or significant others for much the same reason. We fear being abandoned by that person who means so much to us, either willfully or through a chillier indifference.

We complain about our children because we fear that, like the weather, we can not control them even though we gave birth to them. We fear that they will hurt themselves or others or us. We fear they will not be able to take care of themselves . . . ever. We see their flaws, and – duh, they see ours, and we know what they are up against and fear that they might not be up to it. Unless, of course, they do everything we say for the rest of their lives. Then everything will be perfectly fine.

In short, we complain because we fear, and we fear because we do not embrace the Resurrection of Christ as our own resurrection, our own second chance, our own transformational raising, yes, like Jesus, by the Hand of God no less.

This morning we rise with Christ, out of our fears, past the reach of our complaints – into inexhaustible possibilities. The Resurrection of Jesus as the Christ is a sign and more than a sign. It is the sign and it is what the sign stands for: Eternal Life. A forever-being in Love with Love and for Love.

The Beloved John who wrote the Passion narrative we read on Good Friday, also penned these immortal words: "God is love."

Jesus’ sacrifice proved God’s love for us. And early on Easter morning, God embraced us with the same love He has for His Son. And raised Jesus from the dead out of love.

Do not be afraid.

"Do not be afraid," he says and then he gives them a mission, "Go tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me."

He gives them something to do, in the midst of the Roman occupation, in the midst of oppression and grief, in the midst of hard times and challenging issues, in the midst of our friendships and our families, our jobs and our confusion – God reassures us of His protection, His love, His power, and He gives us a mission.

In these fifty Easter days that stretch out before us with Pentecost Sunday as yet another crescendo of power and grace – in these next fifty days let us set aside our complaining and our fear.

Let us embrace the inexhaustible possibilities lurking in our problems.

Let us see if there isn’t a message, some guidance from Jesus for us.

He is, after all, risen!

And He loves us more than ever.