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When “Gay” Becomes “Peoplewhostrugglewithsamesexattraction”

From “Eye of the Tiber”, which says it is “breaking” Catholic News – so you don’t have to:

Diocese Of Gaylord, Michigan To Change Its Name To Peoplewhostrugglewithsamesexattractionlord, Michigan

Peoplewhostrugglewithsamesexattractionlord, MI—Parishioners in the Diocese of Gaylord, Michigan are being asked by their new Bishop, Steven Raica, to begin referring to themselves as Peoplewhostrugglewithsamesexattractionlordians.

The news came just days after Raica was installed Bishop of the flamboyant Roman Diocese. Raica told parishioners during his first homily as Bishop that, basing his decision on Sacred Scripture, that all Catholics residing in Gaylord, should not act upon their citizenship and to henceforth avoid the term Gaylord.

“I don’t care whether you believe that you were born in Gaylord, or whether you simply woke up one day to find yourself living here. We are more than mere citizens of this city…we are children of God, who calls us to fulfill His will and to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s cross the difficulties we may encounter from being from this region of the country.”

Raica went on to say that, although acting upon their citizenship by means of voting or running for office in the city is contrary to natural law and therefore cannot be approved, he assured Catholics living in the diocese that they can still serve a purpose.

In the end, Raica said that being from Gaylord ultimately does not satisfy the desires of the heart. “I’ve heard from many family member of those living here, asking if I could help their loved ones move back home. But this is not a simple fix. As the saying goes, ‘you can take the man out of Gaylord, but you can’t take the Gaylord out of the man.”

At press time, former Major League Baseball player Thosewithhomosexualtendencies Perry has come out in favor of the proposed name change.

via Eye of the Tiber .


Cleansing the Temple–and Our Bodies and Minds–of Idols

Bondings 2.0

On the Sundays of Lent, Bondings 2.0 will feature reflections by New Ways Ministry staff members. The liturgical readings for the Third Sunday of Lent are: Exodus 20: 1-17; Psalm 19: 8-11; 1 Corinthians 1: 22-25; John 2: 13-25. You can access the texts of these readings by clicking here.

Today’s Gospel reading is sometimes referred to as the “Cleansing of the Temple” and is an episode recorded by all four Gospel writers.  John the Evangelist says that Jesus “made a whip out of cords” and drove the money changers and animals out of the temple area.  I imagine Jesus might have shocked his friends and followers by acting in such a forceful way.  At the very least, his words and actions never fail to discomfort me.

Jesus is obviously upset by what he sees, but why?  Explanations are many and varied.  Some commentators suggest he was upset by the…

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The prayer of Tobias and Sarah (Tobit 8:4-8)

In preparation for the Rome family synod 2015, the bishops of England and Wales have invited Catholics to reflect in lectio divina on a selection of biblical texts, and in the light of their reflections, to answer a set of questions about their experience of marriage and family life.

In the second of the selected texts, we read about the prayer of Tobias and Sarah before their marriage, in Tobit 8:4-8.

Jan Havicksz. Steen ca. 1626 – 1679 Tobias’ and Sara’s Wedding Night

In my application of lectio divina to this text, the two lines that particularly spoke to me, with the reasons,  were:

‘It is not good for the man to be alone;
    let us make him a helper like himself.’(v,6)

Indeed, it is not good for man to be alone. We all need a companion, a “helpmate” , to assist us in our daily tasks, to support us in times of difficulty, and to shore our joy in the good times. This line mirrors a similar line in the creation story of Genesis 2: “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper as his partner.”  As John McNeill has pointed out (in “Sex as God Intended”),  the reference to “helper” is gender neutral: it could be a same -sex partner, and need not necessarily be construed as a wife. In this particular statement of the principle in Tobit, gay men will be interested to note that this is even more explicit – I will make him a partner like himself.

In my life, I experienced for many years the comfort, joy and support of such a companion “like myself”, a same – sex partner who  shared with the routines of attending to household tasks and resonsibilities, the care of children when they were with us, and we accompanied each other through several major life stages: deaths of parents and other relations, marriages of my two daughters, and crises in careers.

What was striking in this relationship was how much it was a genuine “partnership”, in a way that just did not apply to m


“grant that we may grow old together” (v.7)

Pope Benedict once noted,  when addressing Italian local government officials, that one of the values of marriage, is that it relieves government of many financial obligations – for example, that of caring for the aged. At its best, marriage ensures that instead of depending on the state for care, ageing couples can rely on each other and their children for that care, in the comforting situation of a family home.

It is iniquitous of the Church to expect gay men to be deprived of that family support when they need it most. We too, need companionship, love and family support as we grow old.

The questions suggested by the English bishops for further discussion .  with my responses to some, were:

  • How might Sarah and Tobias have felt on their wedding night, knowing Sarah’s history?
  • How do you think Sarah’s parents felt leaving their daughter in the bridal chamber again? Can you describe a time when you felt something similar?
  • What does it mean to walk in trust with the Lord?
  • When have you and/or your family had an experience of God’s mercy?
  • What part does prayer play in your daily life?
  • How has prayer helped you and/or your family?

The key questions to draw the conversation together might be:

  • How does this story ‘speak’ to us about our ‘call’ to be a family?
  • How does it speak to our ‘journey’?
  • How does it speak to us about our ‘purpose’ or ‘mission’ as a family?
  • What support do we need from the Church?
  • What is already available? What needs to be developed?
  • From our family life experience, what do we offer that could enrich the life of the Church?

Queen Esther’s ‘Coming Out 101’ (with dubious Disney accompaniment)

Catholic Trans*

As you can see from this 17th century painting, my decision to tell Esther’s story through Disney music is entirely in keeping with traditional iconography.

I’ve talked before about why I think coming out
of the closet is a good thing
, but lately I’ve been
reflecting on the coming out process itself as a
choice of radical honesty.

And as it turns out, the best inspiration for
radical honesty comes right from Scripture (The
Book of Esther
to be precise).

Queen Esther is a cool woman by most accounts,
but did you know she’s a perfect analogy for being queer!? Here’s why:

1. She is locked in a system of rigid gender roles.

The setup of Esther’s story is that King Xerxes keeps his women (yes, plural) on a short leash. One of those wives, Queen Vashti, isn’t too keen on being at the King’s beck and call like a doorman. So one day…

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Germans Support Marriage Equality – Poll

Nearly three quarters of Germans support same-sex marriage, according to a poll published on Wednesday, as Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives weigh up extending more rights to homosexual couples ahead of a September election.

Berlin Mayor Klaus Wowereit (first row 2nd R), U.S. Ambassador to Germany
Philip Murphy (first row 3rd R), Britain’s ambassador to Germany Simon
McDonald (first row L) and the Green Party parliamentary faction co-leader
Renate Kuenast (first row 2nd L) open the Christopher Street Day (CSD)
parade in Berlin, June 23, 2012. The annual street parade parade is a celebration of
lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender lifestyles and
denounces discrimination and exclusion.
Nearly three quarters of Germans support same-sex marriage, according to a poll published on Wednesday, as Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives weigh up extending more rights to homosexual couples ahead of a September election.
The survey for RTL television and Stern magazine suggested 74 percent of Germans were in favour of allowing homosexuals to marry and 23 percent against.
Support is strongest among people voting for the opposition Greens and centre-left Social Democrats (SPD) but even among those backing Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU), almost two-thirds were in favour, the poll showed.
The CDU wants to boost its appeal among urban voters as it gears up for this year’s vote.
Merkel’s government is preparing to amend the law to grant same-sex couples greater adoption rights after Germany‘s constitutional court ruled last week that gay people should be allowed to adopt a child already adopted by their partner. Heterosexual couples already have the right.
The court has given the government until July 2014 to amend the law.
Last weekend, a close Merkel ally hinted that the party may also be ready to abandon its opposition to giving gay couples the same preferential tax treatment as married heterosexuals.
Homosexuals in Germany can form civil partnerships but cannot marry. Opposition parties accuse the CDU, staunch advocates of traditional family values, of dragging their feet on gay rights.
The CDU’s more conservative Bavaria-based sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU), has warned against rushing to change the law.
Earlier this month, the lower houses of parliament in both France and Britain voted in favour of gay marriage.
(Reporting by Gareth Jones; Editing by Tom Pfeiffer)

James Stoll, Unitarian Pioneer of LGBT Inclusion in Church

Rev. James Lewis Stoll, who died on December 8th 1994, was a Unitarian Universalist minister who became the first ordained minister of any religion in the United States or Canada to come out as gay. He did so at the annual Continental Conference of Student Religious Liberals on September 5, 1969 in La Foret, Colorado. Later, he led the effort that convinced the Unitarian Universalist Association to pass the first-ever gay rights resolution in 1970.
After training at Starr King School for the Ministry, in Berkeley, followed by ordination, he served as pastor at a church in Kennewick, Wash., from 1962 until 1969. For reasons that have not been disclosed, he was asked to resign, and then moved to San Francisco, where he shared an apartment with three others.
In September of 1969, he attended a convention of college-age Unitarians in Colorado Springs. One evening after dinner, he stood up and came out publicly as a gay man. He declared his orientation, stated that it was not a choice, that he was no longer ashamed of it, and that from then on, he would refuse to live a lie.

“On the second or third night of the conference,” according to Mr. Bond-Upson, “after dinner, Jim got up to speak. He told us that he’d been doing a lot of hard thinking that summer. Jim told us he could no longer live a lie. He’d been hiding his nature — his true self — from everyone except his closest friends. ‘If the revolution we’re in means anything,’ he said, ‘it means we have the right to be ourselves, without shame or fear.’

“Then he told us he was gay, and had always been gay, and it wasn’t a choice, and he wasn’t ashamed anymore and that he wasn’t going to hide it anymore, and from now on he was going to be himself in public. After he concluded, there was a dead silence, then a couple of the young women went up and hugged him, followed by general congratulations. The few who did not approve kept their peace.” ’

After the convention, Stoll wrote articles on gay rights, and preached sermons on the subject at several churches. The following year, the full annual meeting of the Unitarian Universalist Association passed a resolution condemning discrimination against homosexual persons, beginning a gradual but irresistible move towards full LGBT inclusion.
No action was ever taken by the church against Stoll, and so he remained a minister in good standing, but he was never again called to serve a congregation. It is not clear whether this had anything to do with lingering prejudice against his orientation. It could also be on the grounds of some suspicions of drug abuse, or of inappropriate sexual behaviour.
Later, he founded the first counseling center for gays and lesbians in San Francisco. In the 1970s he established the first hospice on Maui. He was president of the San Francisco chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union in 1990s. He died at the age of 58 from complications of heart and lung disease, exacerbated by obesity and a life-long smoking habit
Stoll’s name is not well known today, but for this brave and honest public witness, he deserves to be better remembered.In declaring himself, he was not the first ordained clergyman to come out, but he was the first to do so voluntarily, and the first in an established denomination. His action undoubtedly made it easier for the others who followed him, and to the formal acceptance by the Unitarians of openly gay men and lesbians in the church, and to the now well-established process to full LGBT inclusion in so many denominations.



Haunted Man of the Cloth, Pioneer of Gay Rights (NY Times)

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The Queer Family in the Book of Ruth

The story of Ruth and Naomi and their deep love has often been used to illustrate love between women in the Bible.  There is more to the book than that alone, for a queer reading. Although the book begins as the story of Ruth and Naomi, it ends as that of Ruth, Naomi and Boaz, as Mona West makes clear in her chapter on Ruth for The Queer Bible Commentary, concluding with a reflection on its lesson for queer families – in all their variety.

With the strong public interest in the struggle for marriage equality and gay adoption, we often overlook the simple but important fact that not all queer families are imitations of conventional families, differing only in the minor detail of being headed by a couple of the same biological sex. We come in a multitude of forms – like the family I meet recently, comprising three men who have just celebrated 25 years of living as a mutually supportive and committed triple. This obviously does not fit with the modern conception of “traditional” marriage and family – but nor do the families of Jesus and his disciples in the New Testament, and nor does the family of Ruth, Naomi and Boaz, as we know it by the end of the book.

Continue reading The Queer Family in the Book of Ruth