Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Out and About - July 2007

C’mon and, c’mon and
have a little downtime.
Drink a little fine wine.
Lose yourself in cloud formations
and good vibrations.

Jenny Morris

Above: South Center Lake, Minnesota – July 4, 2007.

Above and below: Summer in Minnesota!

These two photos were taken at Minnehaha Falls in Minneapolis on July 1st, 2007.

Above: Purple coneflowers (Echinacea) in full bloom in my front garden.

I’ve greatly enjoyed working in the garden since the return of spring – though with the “severe drought” conditions in Minnesota, such work has meant being very diligent about watering!

Above: My friend Dan. I love this photo as it totally captures Dan’s vibrant and positive spirit.

Dan and I met at the Twin Cities Gay Pride Festival at the end of June, when he and his friends Stephanie and Lynn stopped by the CPCSM informational booth I was staffing. I’ve appreciated and enjoyed his friendship ever since.

On the July 4th holiday we spent time with friends of his up at Center South Lake (near Center City, and part of Minnesota’s Chisago Lakes Chain). In was while on the lake that I snapped this great photograph of Dan.

Above: Dan and Lynn with Cosmo, Lynn’s partner Stephanie’s cute little dog – July 26, 2007.

Above: Honoring Dignity Twin Cities president and Rainbow Sash Alliance USA coordinator Brian McNeill with CPCSM’s 2007 Bishop Thomas Gumbleton Peace and Justice Award – July 13, 2007.

I’m standing at left with Jim Larson, Paul Fleege, Brian McNeill, and Pat & Jenny Downey. Sitting in front is Jeanne Cornish and Pat’s sister Theresa Downey from Louisiana.

For more images and information about this event, click here.

For an insightful article by Episcopal Bishop John Selby Spong about Dignity, click here.

Above: St. John’s Abbey, Collegeville, Minnesota – July 18, 2007.

I took this photo while attending a retreat at the nearby St. John’s University Episcopal House of Prayer. Entitled “Unity in Diversity,” this retreat explored the Old Catholic Church – its history, spirituality, and conciliar (non-hierarchal) approach to church governance.

Old Catholicism is based on Christian community life as it was practiced in the early, unified Church, before the first of several schisms tore Christianity apart. The church’s distinct identity as “Old Catholic” comes from its Catholic tradition and the history of Christianity in western Europe, which colors its church life.

For more information about the history of Old Catholicism, click here.

Above: Rev. Robert Caruso (left) of Cornerstone Old Catholic Church, St. Paul, Minnesota, facilitated the “Unity in Diversity” retreat.

Robert’s knowledge of Old Catholicism is quite extensive, and I hope to interview him about the Old Catholic Church and, among other things, its openness and acceptance of homosexuality for the next issue of The Rainbow Spirit, the journal of the
Catholic Pastoral Committee on Sexual Minorities (CPCSM).

Pictured with Robert is fellow Cornerstone Old Catholic Church members Zilvinas and his daughter.

Above: A photograph taken in the beautiful and peaceful grounds of the Episcopal House of Prayer.

For many Minnesotans, summer is marked by innumerable cook-outs, barbeques, trips “up north,” and “downtime” either “by the lake” or “on the river” – basically any place outdoors so as to make the most of the season’s non-wintry weather.

So far this year it hasn’t been unbearably “buggy” – no doubt due to the aforementioned drought conditions that we’re experiencing here in the “land of ten thousand lakes.”

On Thursday, July 19, I shared in a wonderful meal in the back garden of the home of Ken and Carol, the couple I use to live with in the Seward neighborhood of South Minneapolis. Pictured above at this gathering are my friends Paul, Carol (with grandson Cass), Ken, and Kerry.

Above: Carol and her grandson Cass - July 19, 2007.

On Sunday, July 29, current and former members of the CPCSM board gathered on the back deck and in the garden of my home for some summer “downtime.”

Pictured above are (from left) Rita O’Brien, CSJ; Theresa O’Brien, CSJ; Craig Barrett; and Paul Fleege.

Above: From left: Paula Ruddy, Chuck Rice, and Brigid McDonald, CSJ.

Above: Theresa O'Brien, CSJ; Rita O'Brien, CSJ; and Mary Beckfeld enjoy the peaceful atmosphere of my garden during our CPCSM get-together on Sunday, July 29.

* “‘Downtime’ [from Jenny Morris’ 2002 album Hit and Myth] is essentially a pop song but with twists of jazz and world influences. An array of instruments lend their character to ‘Downtime,’ from eccentric string melodies to Cuban/South American percussion and flamenco guitar, while Morris confidently enacts a feel-good lyrical flow about the virtues of chilling out!” – The Music Network.

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Back in the USA
It Sure Was Cold!
An Energizing and Spirited Weekend
Out and About - April 2007
Out and About - May 2007
Out and About - June 2007

Monday, July 30, 2007

Making Church Reform Optional

Rita Ferrone on the “backward step”
of Summorum Pontificum

Commonweal has published an insightful commentary by Rita Ferrone (pictured below) on Pope Benedict XVI’s motu proprio, Summorum pontificum, that gives broad permission for the celebration of the Tridentine Mass.

A nationally known speaker and writer, Rita Ferrone is the author of several books about liturgy. Her Rediscovering Vatican II: The Liturgy (Paulist Press) will be published in the fall. She has also written numerous articles for publications such as Catechumenate, Today’s Parish, Today’s Liturgy, and Ministry and Liturgy. Rita has contributed to religion textbooks for several major publishers and served as editor of the Guidelines for Catechesis, currently in use in the Archdiocese of New York.

Following are two brief excerpts from Ferrone’s Commonweal article, “A Step Backwards: The Latin Mass is Back”:

The motu proprio . . . lays the groundwork for the creation of two liturgical establishments within the Latin-rite Catholic Church – one worshiping according to rites mandated by the Council of Trent, the other according to rites mandated by the Second Vatican Council.

It was not the intention of Vatican II, or of the popes who implemented it, to create a situation in which two forms of the Roman rite would exist side by side. The liturgical reform of the council was intended as a true reform, addressing genuine problems of the old liturgy for the good of the church as a whole. Now, with the stroke of a pen, Pope Benedict has made that reform optional. Individual priests may use the preconciliar rites at will, and groups of the faithful who ask for celebrations according to the preconciliar norms may not be refused them. . . .

It is hard to credit the pope’s claim that his edict is intended for the benefit of the faithful. How can it be “for the benefit of the faithful” to return to a ritual of baptism in which the parents of infants say nothing? In the spirit of ecumenism, the liturgy that came out of Vatican II eliminated the abjuration of heresy and schism that non-Catholics made before being admitted to Catholic communion. How can we justify reviving such practices today? There was no catechumenate in the Tridentine church, despite a crying need around the world for this liturgical structure of evangelization and formation. How can we deprive adult converts of the catechumenate - which canon law now requires them to have? The reform of the liturgy was not a mere matter of aesthetic preferences, of “contemporary relevance” versus “timeless mystery,” of Latin versus the vernacular. The reformed liturgy embodies the values of the council in innumerable ways.

Given the series of concessions that have already been made to Catholic traditionalists, and the radical views and program of those to whom this pope has given his approval and endorsement in the past, it is difficult to believe that with Summorum pontificum a definitive compromise has been reached and the matter will end there. A more plausible understanding of the present moment is that it marks another step toward a goal that the vast majority of Catholics would not countenance if it were openly acknowledged – namely, the gradual dismantling of the liturgical reform in its entirety.

To read Rita Ferrone’s commentary in its entirety, click here.

Image of Rita Ferrone: Lois Kindle (TheFloridaCatholic.org).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Holy Spirit Absent in Attempts to Revert to Latin Mass
The New Motu Proprio: “Nothing but Headaches for Bishops, Priests, and Laity”?
Joan Chittister on the Restoration of the Tridentine Latin Rite
James Carroll on “Pope Benedict’s Mistake”
“Uncle Vince” is at it Again

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Friday, July 27, 2007

EC Founder Responds to "Ex-gay" Claims

In the current issue of Review, the quarterly publication of Evangelicals Concerned (EC), Dr. Ralph Blair, founder of EC (and pictured below) responds to two recently published articles supportive of the “ex-gay” movement and its various claims.

What’s this got to do with homosexuality and Catholicism?

Well, while it’s true that the Catholic hierarchy doesn’t espouse the more outlandish claims of the “ex-gay” movement (such as the benefits of
reparative therapy), an undeniable sense of shame around the homosexual orientation and its expression is nevertheless shared by both the “ex-gay” movement and “official” elements within the Catholic Church, such as the Courage apostolate - which disavows the term “gay” in favor of “same-sex attracted.” (See the previous Wild Reed posts: The Real Meaning of Courage and The Many Forms of Courage.)

Accordingly, Marten Woudstra’s “wise words of sound biblical scholarship and loving pastoral care” quoted towards the end of Blair’s commentary are applicable to any and all Christians – Catholic or Protestant, conservative or progressive, gay or straight.

In addition, the remarks of theologian Paul King Jewett that conclude Blair’s article are ones that many in positions of authority within the Catholic Church need to hear and reflect upon.

But don’t take my word for it, read for yourself the wisdom contained in Ralph Blair’s commentary.


Comments on
“The Road to Healing” by Anonymous

(Christianity Today, April 2007)
“My Secret Struggle with Same-Sex Attraction”
by Julie Lyons

(Charisma, May 2007)

By Dr. Ralph Blair
Summer 2007
Vol. 32. No. 3

Can we assume that the editors of Christianity Today and Charisma still believe the “ex-gay” claims they publish? Or do they publish them so that they might not perish at the hands of anti-gay constituencies? Here’s a little quiz to calculate credulity. Suppose you have a daughter at a good Christian college. She says she’s dating a very nice young man who loves the Lord and, by the way, he’s “ex-gay.” Would you be worried? Months later, she says she’s no longer dating him. Now she’s dating another very nice young man who loves the Lord and, by the way, he’s never been gay. Would you be relieved? Your honest answers to these two questions reveal your confidence in “ex-gay” claims.

And yet, even after years of “ex-gay” scandal, failed promises and naive or willful ignorance, evangelical editors and preachers continue to push the “ex-gay” claims.

Chuck Smith, Jr., evangelical leader whose father heads the Calvary Chapel movement, says: “Having spent my entire life within one Evangelical faith community or another, I am convinced that the majority of those Christians with that same background simply do not understand homosexuality.” [Believe me, the same can be said about those in the Catholic hierarchy who pen ill-informed documents such as this.]

That’s true but tragic, for he goes on to say: “On the other side of the issue, we find gays and lesbians who have become so accustomed to being slammed, denounced and rejected by Christians, that they have given up on the religion of Jesus Christ because they find its prejudice against them incapable of providing them compassion, understanding or hope.”

Indeed, as Anonymous says: “I have found very few conservative churches where it is safe to struggle in this area.”

According to Anonymous, “there’s no quick fix.” But is there a “fix” at all? His double-talk says there isn’t. First he denies that homosexual lust is the issue. Then he concludes: “In my early years, I concluded I was gay because of my thoughts and desires”. Yes — as others conclude in their early years that they’re heterosexual because of their thoughts and desires. “I no longer believe that I am gay.”

How’s that? “I am a new person in Christ.” And that means what? “I am a heterosexual man who struggles at times with homosexual thoughts.” A heterosexual man who struggles with homosexual thoughts? This is what Christianity Today heralds as “The Road to Healing”?

In the 1970s, hoopla about breasts growing back, after double mastectomy and prayer, turned out to be a hoax. Christianity Today editor Harold Lindsell then cautioned about gullibility when it comes to “healings”. But antigay editors don’t welcome such caution these days. Charisma sought my critique of “ex-gay” claims. Then they decided their article was too long to include my cautionary comments. Of course, there was plenty of room for all the “ex-gay” testimonials that fit Charisma’s agenda.

Although sexual orientation in women is more fluid than in men, in Lyons’ story for Charisma, it doesn’t appear that she ever was attracted sexually to women. Recalling what she calls “a strong
attraction for other girls,” she’s clear “it had nothing to do with sex” and notes repeatedly that, in adolescence, she experienced “sexual attraction to boys.” She asserts: “I never had a sexual relationship with a woman, adopted a lesbian identity or participated in that lifestyle.” And yet, she adds: “the desire for a woman’s love and affection remained, compounded by fantasizing and continued loneliness.”

Then, just before she married, she says a “Spirit-filled Christian counselor broke off me a curse of ‘sexual perversion’ in my family.” Lyons doesn’t explain further what that was about, though she says her relationship with her parents was “very good,” contrary to what she notes Christian counselors purport to be true for gay men and lesbians. Lyons testimony is a bit confusing. But she admits “sexual orientation is a mystery” and warns that, “many ministers and Christian teachers arrogantly assume there are easy answers to these questions. There aren’t.”

And while many ministers and Christian teachers arrogant1y assume there are easy answers to these questions in a few woodenly applied Bible verses [or in Roman Catholicism’s case, a number of ill-informed church teachings] on “homosexuality,” there aren’t. For example, in the mid-l980s, Marten Woudstra was asked by fellow conservatives to give his insights on homosexuality and the Bible. As chair of Old Testament translation for the NW Bible, president of the Evangelical Theological Society, longtime professor at Calvin Seminary and author of the New International Commentary on Joshua, he was, obviously, a recognized evangelical scholar. He stated: “I do not think the Old Testament and New Testament texts are all that clear to warrant a strongly negative stand of the Christian church.”

He said there was, rather, a real need to raise “the more general question of love that is the fulfillment of law and of love doing no harm to the neighbor. (Rom 13:10).” Woudstra concluded: “I think, as those who love the inerrant Word of God, we want to be doubly sure that we read that Word correctly. Jesus says that His yoke is easy and His burden light. Let us make sure that as we put a burden on anyone such as complete celibacy we do so because we are 100% sure that this is Jesus’ burden. Otherwise we should leave this to the individual conscience.”

Those were wise words of sound biblical scholarship and loving pastoral care. They should instruct us these days. With over three decades of tortured testimonies from “ex-gays” and the disillusionment of former “ex-gays” who now want nothing more to do with a Christianity that hyped hypocrisy and peddled a “snake oil” of self-help instead of the salve of salvation and sanctification by grace, it’s high time for serious Christians to extend Golden Rule love to all — as Christ calls us to do in a crystal clear commandment.

It’s well to recall the words of Fuller Seminary theologian Paul King Jewett: “We are left with the feeling that the church has overdone it, no matter how you cut it, and that homosexuals have certainly suffered more wrong than they have committed, and that there must be flaws in whatever theology of nature or hierarchy of sins has made homosexuality be viewed as the nadir of depravity. This feeling increases when one becomes acquainted with responsible, Christian, homosexual people.”

Ralph Blair

A special “thank you” to my friend Rick for bringing this commentary by Ralph Blair to my attention.

Recommended Off-site Links:
Evangelicals Concerned
Box Turtle Bulletin

See also the related Wild Reed posts:
The Stumbling Block of Fundamentalism
The Quackery of Paul Cameron Exposed – Again!
Johnson and Tushnet Debate is as Much About Revelation as it is Homosexuality
The Dreaded “Same-Sex Attracted” View of Catholicism
The Real Meaning of Courage
The Many Forms of Courage
Trusting God’s Generous Invitation
A Catholic Bibliography on Gay Issues

Thursday, July 26, 2007

George Maharis: “Man of Courage”

Over at the excellent Gay Species blogsite, D. Stephen Heersink continues his “Profile of Courage” series with a tribute to American actor George Maharis.

Heersink’s tribute is a very insightful examination of the important role Maharis played in “breaking through much of [Hollywood’s] homophobic mold.”

Heersink’s very honest sharing of his own struggles as a teenager to overcome “the stereotype of effeminate, emasculated, pathetic” gay men is also very moving and instructive. He notes, for instance, that: “It was not my sexuality and preference, but [this] ‘stereotype’ that was the single greatest barrier.” For as Heersink reminds us, this particular stereotype embodies “the false presumption” that “gay equals effeminate, dysfunctional, and unhappy.”

George Maharis, however, wasn’t afraid to “trounce [such] monolithic stereotype caricatures.” He was, says Heersink, “a pioneer. A legend. A hunk. A man of courage. A man of his convictions. A man [to whom] many of us are proud to pay tribute [for] his . . . courage to buck the powers that be, to give voice to authenticity, to prefer honesty rather than duplicity, and accept no double-standards.” Maharis, continues Heersink, “gave many of us who came of age at the time and thereafter the courage to stand proudly on a pioneer’s shoulders, to be an honest, out, virile, openly gay man, to reject all stereotypes, especially the dreadful monolithic anti-gay caricatures and stereotypes, to reject the reviling mockery of emasculated weak men portrayed on the silver screen, and to accept ourselves for who we are, regardless of who disapproves, regardless of who approves, despite the costs.”

Above: George Maharis, at left, as Buz Murdock and Martin Milner as
Tod Stiles
in the 1960 premiere episode of Route 66.

Following is an excerpt from Heersink’s tribute to George Maharis. Enjoy!


Concealment has been part-and-parcel of Hollywood homophobia for generations.

Which affords me the opportunity to again acknowledge the two most important “public figures” instrumental in breaking-through much of that homophobic mold: talk-show host Phil Donahue and actor George Maharis. The entire gay community has largely ignored their enormous influence, salutary contributions, their impetus to Gay Liberation, and [the] courage [they showed] that . . . led to events like Stonewall, White Night Riots . . . etc.

When responding to my own sexual interests, in my early teens, it was not my sexuality and preference, but the “stereotype” that was the single greatest barrier: the stereotype of effeminate, emasculated, pathetic man – the Liberaces, Paul Lyndes, Truman Capotes – that was the barrier. It was the hyper-emasculated stereotypes portrayed by the likes of Rex Harrison and Richard Burton in their homophobic caricature Staircase (1969) followed by the despairing travesty of Boys in the Band (1970), which initially served to inhibit many gay men from “coming-out.” The false presumption was: gay equals effeminate, dysfunctional, and unhappy.

It was not that the effeminate men existed, it was the presumption that all gay men are necessarily effeminate, dysfunctional, and miserable, presenting an intense self-image barrier to many gay men in the nascent days around Gay Liberation. Perhaps, the effeminate characteristic is so stereotypical because it is impossible to conceal, or perhaps gender-bending made them caricatures for straight audiences to mock in smug depreciation. But for many, it was these very stereotypes that created barriers for gays to “come-out.” Not that the stereotype was itself a problem, but the presumption that all gays were perceived in that light, creating a self-image that many gay men did not perceive as their own. . . . Maharis [with his] honest openness [was one of the first] to trounce those monolithic stereotype caricatures boldly.

First and foremost, Maharis may be a tad bit older, but he’s still damn sexy. Secondly, he is unquestionably manly. Third, his “spread” in Playgirl showed all his virile gorgeous Greek manhood to anyone who desired to look (and many of us looked).

Above and below: George Maharis at age 45
in the July 1973 issue of

Fourth, his open and honest sexuality, sensitivity, and artistic temperament were unlike the stereotypes hoisted on the masses by the Hollywood “arbiters of homophobia.” Fifth, his “being busted” for “doing” a L.A. undercover cop in the Sixties was a badge of honor he wore proudly (not the “bust,” per se, but the reason for it). Sixth, he chose honesty and openness to “closets” and “concealment,” encouraging others to follow suit.

Watching Maharis next to Rock Hudson on McMillan & Wife (1974) brought-out the difference in character not confined to acting. Most Southern California gay-guys knew both were gay, Maharis openly. Every L.A. queen knew Hudson was an insatiable “bottom.” And every L.A. queen speculated on every other “actor” as if it really mattered in the final analysis. But few had the courage of his convictions to be “open, out, and proudly a gay man.” Not Hunter. Not Perkins. Not Hudson. Not Chamberlain. But, George Maharis was one actor who had that courage in spades. That honesty. And no one questioned his manhood, manliness, or virility, much less his honestly handsome good looks.

– D. Stephen Heersink

NOTE: Since the December 29, 2009 death of Stephen Heersink,
his blog, The Gay Species, has been off-line.

Above: George Maharis with Judy Garland in 1963.
As well as being a respected actor, Maharis is
also an accomplished

Above: George Maharis in 2006.

George Maharis, Star of Route 66, Dies at 94
– Mike Barnes and Duane Byrge
The Hollywood Reporter
May 27, 2023

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Dirk Bogarde (Part I)
Dirk Bogarde (Part II)
Dirk Bogarde (Part III)
The New Superman: Not Necessarily Gay, But Definitely Queer
Alexander’s Great Love
A Simple Yet Radical Act

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Remembering Tammy Faye

David W. Shelton has posted a moving tribute to the late Tammy Faye Messner, former wife of televangelist Jim Bakker, on his blogsite, Skipping to the Piccolo.

Following is a brief excerpt:

Tammy Faye’s greatest legacy is that she reached out to people when they were most rejected. During the height of the AIDS crisis, she ministered to those stricken with the deadly disease. She loved the GLBT community, and she was loved by us as well.*

That her wish was that “her friend Randy McCain” from Open Door Church in Sherwood, Arkansas provide ministry during the private memorial was a testimony to just how much she loved people, no matter what. McCain had become friends with [Tammy’s son] Jay as well. In fact, Jay saw first-hand what gay Christians were really like when he visited McCain’s church last year.

Tammy’s message was always about strength and grace. Life gave her a lot of lemons, and as she often sang in her PTL days, she made lemonade. She suffered with cancer for eleven years, and her final appearance on CNN’s Larry King Live was a message of love to everyone.

To read David’s tribute in its entirety, click here.

Also, if you’re interested in learning more about the life of Tammy Faye, then I highly recommend Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato’s 2000 documentary film,
The Eyes of Tammy Faye.

Shortly after Tammy’s death on July 20, I viewed this film with my friend Kathleen for the second time. Once again I was struck by Tammy’s genuine loving spirit. Oh, sure, the
“prosperity gospel” she and her former husband preached was (and remains) abhorrent, yet one can’t deny that Tammy Faye was a woman who, in many ways, transcended the limits of the evangelical world and sought (and found) God’s loving presence in the lives of all.

Accordingly, I admire her willing and proactive participation in such a searching journey. I also admire how she wasn’t afraid to share the experiences and insights gained as a result of such journeying - experiences and insights related to the acceptance and unconditional love of oneself and others as blessed creations - human becomings - of a loving God.

Amazon.com’s Sean Axmaker describes The Eyes of Tammy Faye as follows:

Tammy Faye Bakker, she of the layers of makeup that made her face into a living Halloween mask, will forever remain a camp icon of ’80s culture for many of us. Directors Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato aren’t above needling Bakker for her more excessive accouterments, but The Eyes of Tammy Faye is ultimately a loving, sympathetic portrait of “the first lady of televangelism.” The film charts her life from traveling evangelist to the mother of three religious cable networks, and her fall from grace when husband Jim Bakker was forced out of the PTL (Praise the Lord) ministry after a scandalous affair. Always entertaining (sock puppets introduce each section) and at times surprising (did you know that Jim and Tammy were the first television ministers to reach out to the gay community and people with AIDS?), it rarely strays from Tammy Faye’s version of events. Jerry Falwell becomes the story’s sole scapegoat, but even the film’s best arguments don’t quite make Jim Bakker an innocent victim. But then it’s not his film, it’s Tammy Faye’s, and Bailey and Barbato seem to have fallen in love with their charismatic subject. If nothing else, they reveal the woman behind the cultural joke and celebrate a spiritual survival story.

And Edward Guthmann of the San Francisco Chronicler observes the following of the film:

The Eyes of Tammy Faye demonstrates, if nothing else, that there’s a genuine person – chastened by mistakes and more compassionate, perhaps, for all she’s suffered – beneath the war paint and the stardust. “We’re all just people made out of the same old dirt,” Tammy declares firmly. “And God didn’t make any junk.”

Amen, sister. And Rest in Peace.

* This love and admiration for Tammy Faye by the GLBT community even extends to those gay men who are seemingly incapable of loving themselves as gay, and who tragically do indeed perceive their God-given sexual orientation as “junk.” This heartfelt commentary by CourageMan, who identifies as “same-sex attracted” rather than “gay,” attests to this.

Recommended Off-site Link (and opening image source):

Monday, July 23, 2007

Holy Spirit Absent in Attempts to Revert to Latin Mass

But Magic would not tarry,
it moves from arm to arm.
It would not stay with them,
Magic is afoot,
it cannot come to harm . . .

“God is Alive, Magic is Afoot”
Words: Leonard Cohen
Music: Buffy Sainte-Marie

Recently, two Catholic priests, Joseph O’Leary and John Carville, have written insightful commentaries related to Pope Benedict XVI’s document, Summorum Pontificum.

In his commentary* in the Catholic Commentator, the official publication of the Baton Rouge diocese, Fr. John Carville points out that
Summorum Pontificum is the pope’s attempt to “step toward reconciliation with a minority of Catholics who do not want to let go of the old Latin Mass [i.e. the Tridentine Mass] . . . celebrated before the Second Vatican Council.”

Fr. Joseph O’Leary, in his online commentary, calls the Catholics who comprise this minority, “neo-Tridentinists.”

Interestingly, both writers, in their own way, reflect on how recent efforts to revert to the Latin Mass are contrary to the movement of the Holy Spirit in the Church.

For instance, Carville notes that: “A fundamental liturgical principle is involved [in the issues raised by Summorum Pontificum] that was beautifully expressed by a bishop on the council floor of Vatican II, a bishop familiar with a rite far older than our Latin, Tridentine one dating from the 16th century. This most convincing argument came from an Eastern rite patriarch, Maximus IV Saigh of Antioch. He said that from the perspective of the Eastern rite it was strange that the presider in the liturgy would use a language that differed from that of his congregation, who in turn had to pray in a language they did not understand. ‘A living Church has no use for a dead language.’ Since it is the instrument of the Holy Spirit, language should be living.”

Yet according to Joseph O’Leary, those desperate to see a return of the Tridentine Mass and its Roman Canon are in denial of the Holy Spirit.

In his commentary,
Manichees, Marcionites, Pneumatomachs, and Neo-Tridentinists, O’Leary notes: “The role of the Spirit in the revived [i.e., vernacular] liturgy is powerfully expressed; whereas there is no reference to the Spirit, and no Epiclesis, in the Roman Canon. The Spirit is another pesky Vatican II innovation that Tridentinists want to put back in its closet. While the pneumatological deficiencies of the Tridentine rite were blameless when we knew no better, consciously to revive them is to quench the Spirit and become a Pneumatomach [i.e., one who denies the sacred presence and action of the Holy Spirit].”

“Hence,” writes O’Leary, “the inopportune restoration of Tridentine rites is a move in the direction of three ancient heresies: Marcionism, Manicheanism and Pneumatomachism. This could be a fatal error for the Catholic Church.” (Note: I’ve added the links within these excerpts from O’Leary’s commentary.)

Carville concludes his July 18 commentary by reminding us of the work of the Holy Spirit at Vatican II and, in particular, the decision at this Ecumenical Council to approve the vernacular Mass – now the “ordinary and normative rite for our liturgy.”

Writes Carville: “We must remember that [in our] Catholic faith . . . the teachings of Ecumenical Councils, in union with the pope, are guided by the Holy Spirit. They are the result of debate, but in this case the voice of the Spirit seems to have been heard rather clearly. The vote approving the Constitution on the Liturgy was 2,162 for and 46 against. Seven votes were invalid. The Holy Spirit had lined up his votes rather well. We forget so soon, and in the name of tradition.”

All this talk of the Spirit being sidelined and ignored just makes me smile, chuckle, and recall the beautiful and haunting Buffy Sainte-Marie song, “God is Alive, Magic is Afoot” – with lyrics by Leonard Cohen. In the context of this song, “Magic” can readily be seen to be synonymous with “the Spirit” - a Spirit that is very much alive and which “cannot come to harm” by our misguided attempts to ignore or extinguish it.

God is afoot; Magic is alive.
Alive is afoot,
Magic never died . . .

God was ruler.
Though his funeral lengthened,
though his mourners thickened,
Magic never fled.
Though his shrouds were hoisted
the naked God did live.
Though his words were twisted
the naked Magic thrived.
Though his death was published
round and round the world,
the heart did not believe.

Many hurt men wondered,
many struck men bled.
Magic never faltered,
Magic always led . . .

Though laws were carved in marble,
they could not shelter men.
Though altars built in parliaments,
they could not order men.
Police arrested Magic,
and Magic went with them,
for Magic loves the hungry.

But Magic would not tarry,
it moves from arm to arm.
It would not stay with them,
Magic is afoot,
it cannot come to harm.
It rests in an empty palm,
it spawns in an empty mind,
but Magic is no instrument,
Magic is the end . . .

This I mean to whisper to my mind.
This I mean to laugh with in my mind.
This I mean my mind to serve
'til service is but Magic
moving through the world;
and mind itself is Magic
coursing through the flesh;
and flesh itself is Magic
dancing on a clock
and time itself the magic length of God.

Words: Leonard Cohen
Music: Buffy Sainte-Marie**
© Stranger Music, Inc./Caleb Music-ASCAP

* To read Fr. John Carville’s commentary in its entirety, see page 4 of this PDF document.

For a reaction from a “neo-Tridentinist” to Fr. Carville’s commentary, click here.

** “God is Alive, Magic is Afoot” is available on Buffy Sainte-Marie’s album, Illuminations.

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
The New Motu Proprio: “Nothing but Headaches for Bishops, Priests, and Laity”?
Joan Chittister on the Restoration of the Tridentine Latin Rite
James Carroll on “Pope Benedict’s Mistake”
“Uncle Vince” is at it Again

Friday, July 20, 2007

Rules and Regulations – Rufus Style


Yes, it’s Friday night – which means “music night” at The Wild Reed!

Tonight I’m happy to present “Rules and Regulations,” the second single to be released from singer/songwriter Rufus Wainwright’s latest album, Release the Stars.

As with so much of Wainwright’s work, “Rules and Regulations” is a richly orchestrated, theatrical pop song inspired by the traditions of cabaret, musicals, and opera. Its accompanying video may well have you laughing out loud. Well, parts of it had that effect on me, at least! Oh yeah, and Rufus looks very cute in his long johns!

For these reasons and others, I invite you to sit back and enjoy Rufus Wainwright’s “Rules and Regulations” . . .

All my little life I’ve wanted to roam.
Even if it was just inside my own home.
Then one day I chanced to look back.
Saw you sitting there, the innocent culprit . . .

I think it’s great that, while on one hand, Rufus acknowledges that, “these are just the rules and regulations of the birds and the bees . . .” - rules that he feels compelled by others to follow, there’s nevertheless an obvious and playful subversiveness in how he sings these lyrics and, of course, in the antics that he and his friends get up to in the video. How on earth they kept a, ahem, straight face is beyond me!

Notice, too, toward the end of the video, that most of his gym buddies look as though they may actually be ballet dancers.

And finally, for a review of Rufus Wainwright’s recently released album, Release the Stars, click here.

Image 1: Paste magazine.
Image 2: TheDropOnline.com

Recommended Off-site Links:
Rufus Wainwright’s Official Site
Crystal Clear – A 2005 interview with Rufus Wainwright from The Observer.

And for more music on The Wild Reed visit:
Fleetwood Mac’s “Seven Wonders” – My Theme Song for 1987
Crackerjack Man
All at Sea
Actually, I Do Feel Like Dancing
“And A Pitcher to Go”
The Living Tree
Classic Dusty
Soul Deep

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Joan Chittister in Australia

Brian Coyne of Catholica Australia has written a compelling report on Benedictine Sister Joan Chittister’s recent public address in Sydney, Australia.

In her talk, delivered as the keynote address of the 150th Anniversary Celebrations in Australia of the Sisters of the Good Samaritan of the Order of St Benedict, Chittister (pictured above) called on Christian people to rediscover the spirituality of St. Benedict – a spirituality that played a crucial role, she insists, in saving European civilization at the beginning of the sixth century.

Following is an excerpt from Brian Coyne’s Catholica Australia news report on Joan Chittister’s keynote address in Sydney:

The popularity and appeal of Sister Chittister was testified to by the fact that the 900 tickets on sale for the lecture were sold out seven weeks in advance . . . Organizers of the lecture informed the audience last night that the demand for tickets was so high that the lecture hall at Mount St. Benedict’s College in Pennant Hills could have been filled many times over. The audience was also informed that large groups of people traveled from all states of Australia to attend this lecture.

The thrust of Sr. Joan’s lecture was to link the major ills of Western society — its arrogance; its exploitation of the third world; its exploitation of our environment and our planet’s finite renewable resources; the social disintegration of communities; the relentless measurement of everything in terms of monetary profit and the discounting of the importance of understanding the value in leisure and sabbath; the ungodly emphasis on the production of armaments at the expense of other forms of human productive effort; a culture that encourages violence and exploitation rather than the pursuit of peace through what we screen on our media — to a contrasting set of values that sit at the heart of Benedictine spirituality. These values, Chittister argued, are the values that St. Benedict preserved and nurtured and which are credited with being the tools that this Patron Saint of Europe used to save Western civilization when it was in imminent danger of being snuffed out at the beginning of the sixth century.

She argues the world needs to urgently re-discover the wisdom of Benedictine spirituality if we are to successfully address the many challenges that face our present-day world.

Certainly to this reporter, this lecture was a tour de force — probably the single most powerful address I have heard delivered by any spiritual leader or politician in this country in half a century.

Sister Joan Chittister is such an unlikely figure to project the power and passion that she does. She could be the favorite and gentlest of aunts to any of us. Yet the way she modulates her voice; her capacity for “the memorable phrase” that condenses complex concepts in science, sociology, economics, politics or theology down to a thimble-sized idea that packs more power than that contained in a nuclear power plant; her powerful use of gesture; all these things she uses with consummate skill that it is little wonder she has become one of the most powerful leaders in modern Catholicism and is euphemistically referred to as “Pope Joan” by conservatives and liberals alike. . . .

To read Brian Coyne’s news report in its entirety, click here.

Image: Catholica Australia.

Recommended Off-site Links:
“Chittister Call for Renewed ‘Humility’ to Save Western Culture” - Catholic News.
From Where I Stand - Joan Chittister’s National Catholic Reporter blogsite.

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Joan Chittister on the Restoration of the Tridentine Latin Rite
In the Garden of Spirituality - Joan Chittister
Reflections on Associate/Consociate Programs by Joan Chittister

Honoring Brian McNeill

As I noted in a previous post, this year’s recipient of CPCSM’s Bishop Gumbleton Peace and Justice Award was unable to attend our recent Annual Community Meeting so as to be notified of and receive his award.

Last Friday, however, members of CPCSM surprised him with his award at the conclusion of the local Dignity Mass. Yes, the recipient of the 2007 Bishop Gumbleton Peace and Justice Award is none other than Dignity/ Twin Cities president and Rainbow Sash Alliance USA coordinator Brian McNeill!

Above: Brian McNeill stands with his award and with Jeanne Cornish
and Rev. Robert Caruso of Cornerstone Old Catholic Church
- Minneapolis, Friday, July 13, 2007.

Here’s the wording of Brian’s award:

Through your tireless commitment to the marginalized and your willingness to serve so fully and faithfully as a called and committed theologian, prophet, minister, and friend, you have enriched the local church in powerful and liberating ways that strengthen all of efforts in working for the full civil and ecclesial rights of all GLBT persons and for greater justice and peace in our world. In particular, we honor your leadership and prophetic witness within Dignity Twin Cities and the Rainbow Sash Alliance USA.

With our deepest respect, friendship, and gratitude for outstanding religious and spiritual leadership on behalf of GLBT persons, families, and faith communities – presented by the Board of Directors of the Catholic Pastoral Committee on Sexual Minorities at their Annual Meeting, June 28, 2007.

Above: Back row from left: Michael Bayly (CPCSM executive director),
Jim Larson, Paul Fleege (CPCSM treasurer) Brian McNeill,
and Pat & Jenny Downey.
Sitting in front is Jeanne Cornish and
Pat’s sister Theresa Downey from Louisiana.

Images: David McCaffrey (CPCSM co-founder and communications coordinator).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
To Whom the Future of the Catholic Church Belongs
Out and About – June 2007
“Take, All of You, and Eat”: Communion and the Rainbow Sash
My Rainbow Sash Experience

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

To Whom the Future of the Catholic Church Belongs

After spending time with DignityUSA,
Episcopal Bishop John Shelby Spong

reflects on the future of the Catholic Church.

My friend Paula recently shared with me a wonderful commentary by Episcopal Bishop John Shelby Spong (pictured below) entitled “On Spending Three Days With DignityUSA.”

As Spong notes in the opening paragraph of his commentary, “DignityUSA [is] a national support and advocacy organization for homosexual members of the Roman Catholic Church.” The organization recently held a conference in Austin, Texas, where 250 delegates from across the United States “assigned themselves the task of charting the future for homosexual people in the Catholic Church.”

“This was not an easy assignment,” observes Spong, who gave the keynote address at the conference, “since DignityUSA is treated by the hierarchy of [the Roman Catholic] Church as an embarrassing pariah and, instead of any recognition or support, its members are the recipients of enormous Catholic hostility. By Vatican orders, no Roman Catholic Church in America can allow this group to meet on any Catholic property.”

“When Dignity’s leaders picked the Hyatt Hotel in Austin as the gathering place for their national conference,” reports Spong, “Gary Preuss, a local Dignity leader, as a courtesy, notified the Most Rev. Gregory Aymond, the Catholic Bishop of Austin that they would convene in his See City. The bishop responded with a letter, acknowledging the notification and saying that he would pray for them. There was no word of welcome and neither this bishop nor any of his local Catholic priests made an appearance at the conference. How short the Church sometimes falls in the simple act of showing kindness.”

Following are further excerpts from Bishop Spong’s commentary - one that serves as a timely reminder of the important ministry of Dignity and as a hope-filled reflection on the future of the Roman Catholic Church.

Catholic opposition to homosexuality is so total and unrelenting that any American Catholic priest who says Mass for local Dignity chapters runs the risk of discipline at the hands of his local bishop. Under the auspices of Pope John Paul II a statement was issued on October 30, 1986, written by the then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, which moved the Roman Catholic Church from benign neglect of gay people into the stance of being a gay oppressor.

This “Halloween Letter,” as the gay community refers to it, urged all Catholic bishops to oppose every legislative effort, on every level of government, which sought to provide equal rights under the law for homosexual people. This included not just official Church opposition to gay marriage, civil unions and benefits for domestic partners, but also any ordinance that would make it illegal to discriminate against people in the work place because of their sexual orientation.

When Cardinal Ratzinger became Pope Benedict XVI one of his first acts was to announce his intention to purge gay males from the ranks of the Catholic priesthood. When the fine print was read, however, he limited himself to preventing aggressive or militant homosexual advocates from becoming priests. Even this Pope knew full well that a purge of gay men from the ranks of the Catholic priesthood would decimate the clergy, to say nothing of culling significantly the members of the College of Cardinals, the archbishops and bishops of that Church. The duplicity and dishonesty surrounding this issue in the Roman Catholic Church is breathtaking.

Despite this hostility, [the] gay Catholics [who comprise Dignity] still express genuine love for their Church and work tirelessly for the change that will enable them to find in their Church a place of welcome. They strive to demonstrate their loyalty to the worship tradition into which most of them were baptized. DignityUSA gathers in local chapters all across America and convenes its National Convention once every two years, to nurse the wounds of gay Catholics, to educate and inspire their members and to make people aware of their gay presence inside their beloved Church.

Because the members of Dignity know rejection first hand, they have developed a far more accepting and ecumenical understanding of Christianity than that which is official in Catholicism. Since their chapters of necessity are required to meet in non-Catholic churches, ties of friendship have tempered traditional exclusive claims. Dignity members understand what Catholic women have endured. In Dignity’s closing Eucharist, women were vested with priestly stoles while serving as full participants and co-presiders over the liturgy. These women’s hands were raised as they joined with a Graymoor priest to bless the bread and the wine and to utter the words of consecration. Catholic rules were clearly being bent here, but the presence of an ordained priest, whose security lay in that he was answerable only to the head of his order not a local bishop, nonetheless guaranteed the “validity” of the Sacrament.

For me, this conference was both humbling and exhilarating. Seldom before have I been so warmly welcomed, fully included and graciously engaged by members of this faith tradition. Seldom have I been so moved by worship as I was at this conference. The hierarchy of the Catholic Church needs to understand that these people are dedicated and committed Catholics who can neither be expelled nor driven away.

Dignity’s members are not threatening to leave their Church, they are threatening to stay! “This is our Church too,” they say, and “the hierarchy cannot define Catholicism in such a way as to exclude us.” They live out their Catholic lives in faithfulness, not in order to be troublesome, but to help to bring to Catholicism the inclusion that is called for in the gospel of Jesus. They are confident they will win this struggle for the soul of their Church and are encouraged by the incontrovertible fact that changes in consciousness are never reversed.

Inevitably every part of the Christian Church will lay aside its homosexual prejudices and embrace its gay, lesbian, transgender and bi-sexual brothers and sisters as the creation of God, the beloved of Christ and as those empowered to be all that they can be in the Holy Spirit. Benedict XVI is not the voice of the Catholic future; indeed, he will ultimately be little more than a negative footnote in Catholic history.

Every prejudice that is publicly debated is already dying, so this victory is inevitable. Diehard, retrogressive elements in every Christian Church lose ground daily. They will not prevail in this struggle. Christians cannot continue to sing, “Just as I am without one plea, O Lamb of God, I come,” and not live out that invitation.

The embarrassment of the Christian Church in our time will not result from the feared split over homosexuality; it will result rather from those Christian leaders who continue to value unity and institutional peace over truth and justice. Those are the people destined to discover that they do not, cannot and will not own the future. That future will belong to DignityUSA, to John McNeill, Sister Jeannine Gramick, Daniel Helminiak and their counterparts in every Christian tradition, who act without fear to make the Christian Church whole and to call it to be a sign of the Kingdom of God in our divided world. Indeed we live today at the dawn of a new era.

To read Bishop Spong’s commentary in its entirety, click here.

See also the related Wild Reed posts:

Honoring Brian McNeill
An Australian Bishop’s “Radical” Call for Reform
Beyond Papalism