Man-oh-man, what a month it's been!
On a personal level, I've gone from an Australian summer to a Minnesota winter – always a bit of an adjustment, let me tell you.
That geographical change meant that I went from a (mostly) holiday mode straight back into a full-on work mode. I say "mostly" because, as I note in a couple of previous posts, my recent vacation in Australia didn't mean a complete escape from my vocation! (See here and here.)
Of course, on a much broader and deeper level, this month has been momentous for millions around the world – especially for people in the Middle East , for workers in Wisconsin and beyond, and LGBT people throughout the U.S. I really feel as if humanity is on the cusp of a major paradigm shift in consciousness. I've actually thought this for a while now. Accordingly, I've been praying that each one of us may find the courage to respond, in the context of our own lives, to what I believe is God's call to us to move forward into a new way of being in relationship with one another and with the planet. I see this movement as a shift in consciousness – an intentional decision on our part, individually and collectively, to move away from allowing greed, fear, violence, and mindless consumption to dictate our attitudes and actions, and opening ourselves to letting justice, compassion, trust and sustainability inspire and guide us.
I see this shift as very much a global movement – one through which voices that have long been silenced are being raised up and listened to; one through which people who have been denied access to the table of discussion and decision-making are asserting their right to be acknowledged and included.
My work with groups such as the Twin Cities-based Catholic Coalition for Church Reform and my reading of and interaction with progressive Catholics around the world (mainly via the Internet) gives me much hope that this paradigm shift in human consciousness is also taking place within Roman Catholicism. Yes, in the face of entrenched systems of intimidation and oppression, people around the world – and throughout the church – are daring to be the change they long to see. It truly is an exciting time in humanity's development to be living through – and contributing to!
Of course, our hope-filled and active participation in such a journey requires nourishment and encouragement. I get these in many ways – but a major one is definitely the love and support I receive from family, friends, and work colleagues. Not surprisingly, these loved ones feature prominently in this (and every) installment of "Out and About." These posts chronicle my life as an out gay man seeking to be all about the Spirit-inspired work of embodying God’s justice and compassion in the Church and the world. My hope and prayer is that such embodiment serves to inspire others and, in some small way, contributes to that paradigm shift in consciousness that I believe God is calling us to make real in our lives and relationships.
Above: Members of my family in Port Macquarie with my good friends Jeremiah and Kristy – Saturday, February 5, 2011. From left: Sami , Ros, Dad, Tim, Jeremiah, Kristy, and Mum.
Above: Kristy and Jeremiah on the roof of Swallows' Ledge – Sunday, February 6, 2011.
Left: With Jeremiah and Kristy.
Above: The swallows of Swallows' Ledge. (For another photo of these beautiful creatures, click here.)
Above: Winging my way from one home to another, i.e., from Australia to the U.S.A – Tuesday, February 8, 2011.
Right: A very special "Welcome Home" get-together with Doug.
Above: On the evening of Saturday, February 12, 2011, Doug (left) and I prepared a meal for our friends (from left) Liana, Phil, Noelle and John. As you can see, it was a real hit!
Above: Friends Mary Lynn, Bob and Paula at OutFront Minnesota's Freedom to Marry rally at the Minnesota State Capitol -- Thursday, February 10. As co-convener of Catholics for Marriage Equality MN I was one of a number of local faith leaders to speak at this event.
Left: Also speaking out for marriage equality was Benilde-St. Margaret High School student Sean Simonson. You may recall that Sean was in the news last November after his school newsletter commentary, "Life as a Gay Teenager," was censored by school authorities.
Right: About 400 people attended OutFront MN's February 10 Freedom to Marry event at the Capitol. It was a very spirited event, and one which I'll write more about in a future post.
Above: Celebrating St. Valentine's Day with Mr. Brilliant!
Part of our celebration involved having friends over to make and decorate heart-shaped brownies – and share various readings all about love! To see what I mean, click here.
Left: Celebrating with Doug and our friend Brian the February 23 declaration by President Obama that the so-called "Defense of Marriage Act" (DOMA) is unconstitutional – and that the U.S. Justice Department will no longer defend it in federal court.
As well as being at the Minnesota Capitol in support of marriage equality, I was also there twice this month in solidarity with public workers in Wisconsin and beyond. As I'm sure you know, Wisconsin public workers, their families and supporters are involved in an ongoing struggle against Republican-backed legislation aimed at weakening unions.
The images above were taken at the Tuesday, February 22 rally. For more pictures and commentary, click here.
Above and left: The rally at the Minnesota Capitol on Saturday, February 26 was just one of hundreds across the U.S. that day, held in solidarity with workers in Wisconsin.
For more images and commentary, click here.
Above: OVation performs at the February 26 fundraiser for the Catholic Association for Lesbian and Gay Ministry (CALGM).
Right: With Jeff Longnecker, one of the key organizers of the fundraiser for CALGM.
Originally scheduled to take place at St. Frances Cabrini Catholic Church, the fundraiser was moved to United Methodist Prospect Park Church after an orchestrated campaign of half-truths and outright lies smeared both CALGM and the pastor of St. Frances Cabrini, and compelled the chancery to insist the event not be held on "Catholic property." Yes, yet another embarrassing misstep by our local clerical "leadership." (For others, see here, here, here, here, here and here.)
Above: Sheila Nelson, CALGM president; Myrna Ohmann, Catholic Rainbow Parents co-founder; and David McCaffrey, CPCSM co-founder and president, Catholics for Marriage Equality MN co-convener, and 2010 recipient of the Catholic Coalition for Church Reform's Adsum Award at last year's Synod of the Baptized.
Above left: Sue, Nan, Donna and Jeanne at the February 26 benefit for CALGM.
Above: With Doug at a February 28 Oscar Night Party.
For an insightful review of one of my favorite nominated films of this year, click here.
Right: Finally, this month saw me launch a new online project: A Prince Named Valiant, which I describe as "a celebration of Prince Valiant – the finest work ever produced in the comic art medium"!
I chose to launch A Prince Named Valiant on February 13 as it was on this day 74 years ago that the first installment of Prince Valiant was published in newspapers throughout the United States.
So far my Prince Valiant blog has just four postings. The most current one was actually first published here at The Wild Reed. Of these four, the one I'm most happy about is my interview with my Dad (left). It was his collection of Prince Valiant comic books from the 1950s that sparked my interest in Hal Foster’s masterpiece. It also eventually led me to start collecting the Prince Valiant from the Sun Herald newspaper – a weekly ritual that I maintained for 15 years (1978-1993). Anyway, this particular interview with my Dad can be found here.