Monday, July 20, 2009

The Episcopal Agenda

At the recent Episcopal General Convention, Episcopalians effectively lifted their temporary ban on gay bishops. They also chose to begin drafting an official prayer for same-sex unions.

In leading with its conscience like that, the Episcopal Church, the American wing of the worldwide Anglican Communion, has given Anglicans abroad, and some at home, another full-body rash.

It must've been a resoundingly difficult time for convention delegates, choosing between their beliefs and the prospect of a permanent Anglican split. I found myself imagining what those days at the gathering in Anaheim, Calif., were like. I suspect the average day's agenda looked a lot like this:

7-8 a.m. Prayers. Optional. Gene Autry room.

7:30-9 a.m. Breakfast.

9 a.m. All-Day Excursion to Disneyland. For spouses and those who can't face our reality.

9-10:15 a.m. Business Meeting. What to do when half your diocese wants to secede. Practical and legal direction.

10:15-10:30 a.m. Break.

10:30 a.m.-noon Seminars.
1. "Disagreeing in Christ: How to Keep the Dialogue Open and Civil." Donald Duck Room
2. "Schism: A Form of Resurrection?" Snow White Room
3. "Bishop Gene Robinson: A Symbol of Our Problems, Not the Cause." Fairy Godmother Room

Noon-1 p.m. Lunch.

1-2:15 p.m. Business Meeting. Budget question: Will the overseas Anglicans who no longer want our financial assistance cancel out the financial losses we're incurring due to domestic churches fleeing the fold?

2:15-2:30 p.m. Break.

2:30-3 p.m. Prayer Service. Not optional. Let's remember why we're here.

3-4:30 p.m. Seminars.
1. "The Conservatives Speak: Some of Us Still Haven't Given Up." Scrooge McDuck Room
2. "The Archbishop of Canterbury: Toughest Job in Christendom?" Goofy Room
3. "Fleeing to Catholicism: Bad Idea." Dumbo Room

4:30-5:30 p.m. Free Time.

5:30 p.m. Departure for those wishing to attend the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim game. No matter what part of the country we come from, tonight we're on the side of the Angels.

5:30-6:30 p.m. Cocktails.

6:30-8 p.m. Dinner.

8-10 p.m. Informal job networking. Pinocchio Room.

8 p.m. Movie. "Oranges are Not the Only Fruit." Cinderella Room.

8-11 p.m. Socializing. All arguments attaining a certain decibel level must be taken elsewhere. Huey, Dewey, and Louie Rotunda.

Notes: The gym is open all day. A psychologist will be available from noon to midnight in the Peter Pan Room. A doctor is on hand all day in the Seven Dwarfs Room for anyone feeling faint or nauseous. If you wish to participate in tomorrow's excursion to Knott's Berry Farm, sign up by 1 p.m. this afternoon. If you wish to flee altogether, we understand. But even if we don't know where you're hiding, God does.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Flashing Their Independence

Today is the Fourth of July. As fireworks boom outside in celebration of Independence Day, I’ve decided that a number of people have displayed various forms of independence lately.

Take William Crilly, whose actions at the Omaha, Neb., Pride parade displayed a total freedom from common sense.

The Pitch reported that Crilly attended Omaha’s Pride with a rainbow-colored wagon. Atop the wagon, which judging by the photos was meant to look like a coffin, a sign read, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ Our Lord.”

Obviously Crilly hadn’t come to ogle the fellas. Or maybe he had—you just never know.

Kansas City resident Kendra Konrady also came to Omaha with a purpose. As a Human Rights Campaign volunteer she handed out HRC stickers along the parade route. She saw Crilly’s mini-float and heard the men with it spouting Bible verses. She tossed a few stickers onto the wagon.

A voice said, “You better not do that.” Crilly pushed Konrady away from the wagon and put her in a headlock.

Whiplash is not your average Pride souvenir. I usually wind up with just stickers, beads and candy.

The crowd responded and Crilly let her go. She found a cop, who arrested him for assault.

It might come as a shock, but I feel some sympathy for Crilly, who’s described as 66 and wearing two hearing aids. Here’s an older deeply religious man from the heartland who is seeing his world turned upside down by gay freedom.

Or he could be a hate-filled bastard with tiny nuts. I don’t know.

Either way, Crilly did a stupid thing. Making the affair worse yet for him, news of what happened spread through the Pride crowd, and HRC signed up 159 new members.

Oh, the wages of putting a Pride marcher in a headlock and showing a remarkable independence from self-control.

Martina Navratilova grabbed independence from her relationship over a year ago, but now the icky details are coming to light, thanks to the lawsuit filed by her former partner Toni Layton, who told Britain’s Daily Mail that the tennis legend threw her out faster than you can say “Judy Nelson.”

Layton claimed that Navratilova ambushed her, suddenly ejecting her from their Sarasota, Fla., home in a scene that included aggressive security guards, changed locks and lawyers waving a $10,000 settlement document at her. “I was thrown out, left homeless, penniless and with only the clothes on my back.”

Martina was kinder to Wimbledon opponents.

Layton has filed a domestic partnership lawsuit against Navratilova, claiming she suffered “emotional, mental and physical trauma.” The lawsuit maintains the two agreed to split “all funds and assets earned and obtained by either while together.” Which means Layton is due a pretty Czech penny.

Layton said, “The greatest irony is that all this is happening in Florida, a state that doesn’t recognize gay rights. Marti makes out she’s a champion of gay rights, yet here she is, hiding behind Florida’s antiquated same-sex laws.”

This battle is shaping up to be both personally and politically ugly. Meanwhile Martina reportedly has a new girlfriend. Despite her throwdowns with Judy Nelson and now Toni Layton, Martina shows no inclination to be independent of women.

Gay and lesbian Mennonites hope to be free of discrimination from their church. While the Mennonite Church USA conference was going on in Columbus, Ohio, some 100 ministers and church members prayed and sang outside. They were dressed in bright pink.

The “pink Menno” protest was all about independence from spiritual pain. And independence from good fashion sense.