Friday, March 30, 2012

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Documenting the "Living Word"

I've just posted over at Sensus Fidelium a number of photographs documenting Catholics for Marriage Equality MN's ongoing series of Lenten prayer vigils at the chancery office of the St. Paul-Minneapolis Archdiocese.

As you'll see, one participant describes these gatherings of vigilers as "the Living Word," the embodiment of Christ in our midst.

You can view my documentation of the Living Word outside the chancery by clicking here.

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
A Catholic Statement of Support for Marriage Equality
A Catholic Rationale for Opposing the "Marriage Amendment"
Tips on Speaking as a Catholic in Support of Marriage Equality
Catholic Attitudes on Gay and Lesbian Issues: An Overview
A Head and Heart Response to the Catholic Hierarchy's Opposition to Marriage Equality

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

A Springtime Walk Along Minnehaha Creek


My new home in South Minneapolis is quite close to Minnehaha Creek which is a tributary of the Mississippi River. The creek starts at Gray's Bay at Lake Minnetonka and winds 22 miles through the cities of Minnetonka, Hopkins, St Louis Park, Edina and Minneapolis. It flows into the Mississippi just beyond Minnehaha Falls.

Last Sunday (March 25) I enjoyed a walk along Minnehaha Creek with my friends Rick and Brian. Because of the unseasonably warm weather we've been experiencing in the U.S., signs of spring are already bursting forth in Minnesota – as these photos show.

Above: Brian and Rick on one of the many foot bridges that span Minnehaha Creek.

Above and left: From the ground and branches alike, flowers and blossoms are budding and blooming!

Above: In the Twin Cities and elsewhere, the greening of the earth is once again beginning – though about six weeks earlier than usual!

Left: Rick.

Above: Brian by the creek.

Right: A picture of me by Minnehaha Creek that Brian took.

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Waiting in Repose for Spring's Awakening Kiss
Spring in Minnesota
In the Footsteps of Spring

Images: Michael Bayly and Brian Hutchins.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Richard J. Foster on Prayer

I mentioned in an earlier post that during Lent some friends and I are studying Richard J. Foster's Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth. We've discovered that not all aspects of this particular book speak to the fullness of our experience as spiritual seekers. Nevertheless, Foster's work contains many inspiring spiritual insights worth reflecting upon and sharing. An example is the following excerpt from the book's chapter on prayer.

To pray is to change. Prayer is the central avenue God uses to transform us. If we are unwilling to change, we will abandon prayer as a noticeable characteristic of our lives. The closer we come to the heartbeat of God the more we see our need and the more we desire to be conformed to Christ. William Blake tells us that our task in life is to learn to bear God's "beams of love." How often we fashion cloaks of evasion – beam-proof shelters – in order to elude our Eternal Lover. But when we pray, God slowly and graciously reveals to us our evasive actions and sets us free from them.

. . . We must never wait until we feel like praying . . . Prayer is like any other work; we may not feel like working, but once we have been at it for a bit, we begin to feel like working. We may not feel like practicing the piano, but once we play for a while, we feel like doing it. In the same way, our prayer muscles need to be limbered up a bit and once the blood-flow of intercession begins, we will find that we feel like praying.

– Richard J. Foster
Celebration of Discipline
pp. 33 and 45

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Religious Communities' Response to LGBT Lives and Relationships: "A Test of the Awakening"

Over at Religion Dispatches, author Diana Butler Bass talks about her latest book Christianity After Religion: The End of Church and the Birth of a New Spiritual Awakening with Candace Chellew-Hodge. I found the following exchange particularly insightful and hopeful. Perhaps you will too!


Candace Chellew-Hodge: You write about some of the reasons people aren’t going to church anymore. Perhaps they’re bored, angry, or they don’t feel church fulfills their needs. What do you think people really want out of religion these days?

Diana Butler Bass: That’s a great question. I think people don’t want to be wounded and bossed around and they don’t want to be treated like children. Instead, I think people want to be part of spiritual communities where they are valued in terms of their life experience and the insight that they bring to the construction of religious life and their understandings of God and neighbor. I think there is a real need for religious institutions to listen to the voice of all of God’s people rather than telling them what to do.

I also think that people want deep ways of trying to connect with who they really are. People want to understand their own inner lives, and insofar as religious institutions can help people make those connections that would be a real step ahead.

People also want connection with God. They want to know how you connect with wonder, awe, transcendence, and how we can connect with our neighbors in meaningful ways. They’re interested in how we can form networks of care, networks of doing justices, and networks of service in which we can make a better world.

I see it happening in many congregations. People tell me they see the church as an institutional bureaucracy going nowhere fast, but not in their congregation. When I hear that I actually know there are thousands of smaller groups of folks in Christian, Jewish, Buddhist and other groups meeting all over the place that are experiencing that. Those are the communities that are beginning to embody the spirit of the new awakening.

This is where women and LGBT folks become very important. Those movements have been liberationist movements and have made tremendous strides to help us all become a better country. But there is something even deeper than the fact of their being liberationist movements—women and LGBT people are saying ‘We are people and our whole personhood is in God. We want to be part of community that hears the wisdom of our experience, that accepts us for who we really are.’

In a very real sense, what the feminist movement and the LGBT movement have become for religious communities is a test of hospitality. Are you really open to accepting and welcoming everyone? Is the personhood of the gay couple as welcome as the personhood of the straight couple? That becomes a test of the awakening. It’s not simply what’s your political position about the rights of these people, but are these people really people? And are they people with their full wisdom, their full experience, their full sense of who they are? Are they really, truly welcomed into the deepest realms of making community?

To read Chellew-Hodge's entire interview with Bass, click here.

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
A Return to the Spirit
Celebrating and Embodying Divine Hospitality
Keeping the Spark Alive: Conversing with “Modern Mystic” Chuck Lofy
The "Underground Church"
Rome Falling
A Time to Re-Think the Base and Repair the Damage
Time for a Church for Grown-Ups
Quote of the Day – March 20, 2011
Many Voices, One Church
Compassion, Christian Community and Homosexuality
Of Mustard Seeds and Walled Gardens
The Sufi Way

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Out and About – Winter 2012

With today being the first day of spring here in the northern hemisphere I thought I'd take some time to look back over the past two months or so and share some of the highlights of my journey as an out gay man, striving to be all about embodying God's compassion and justice in the world.

As most of my readers would know, it's been an incredibly mild winter in Minnesota – especially here in the Twin Cities. Of course, like many others, I've been pretty vocal in my appreciation of the lack of snow, ice and bitter cold. But at the same time I must admit it disturbs me that the unseasonable weather we've been experiencing is the result, no doubt, of humanity's detrimental impact on the environment.

One thing I will say: the mild weather certainly made my end-of-January move from St. Paul to Minneapolis a hassle-free experience. It also helped that I had a number of friends – including my new house-mate Tim – willing to assist me in this move.

Left: My new home in Minneapolis.

The last social event I hosted in my home in St. Paul was my "Reclaim the Tea Party" tea party! Pictured above at this gathering are my friends Catherine, Phil and Kate. Oh, and what tea party would be complete without a hare at (or, in this case, on) the table?!

My January 19 tea party provided me the opportunity to finally use the china tea cups and saucers that I've been gradually collecting since my December 2008-January 2009 visit home to Australia. During that time, while visiting my hometown of Gunnedah, I was inspired by a delightful afternoon tea at the home of Gwen Riordan, a longtime family friend.

Fast forward three years and to my afternoon tea in St. Paul, to which I invited a number of the wise and inspiring women in my life. My good friend Phil was also on hand to help serve the tea and an assortment of delicious sweets – including a truly epic orange cake made by my friend Kathleen (pictured at left with me and our mutual friend Catherine).

Right: Speaking as Executive Coordinator of Catholics for Marriage Equality MN at the January 26, 2012 fundraising event for Minnesotans United for All Families at Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis.

Above and below: My final moving weekend was January 28-29, and helping me out were a number of my friends. Pictured above from left: Curtis, Tim, Brigid and Jim.

Above: Brent and Lisa, who feature in one of the "video vignettes" that comprise Catholics for Marriage Equality.

Above: Phil, Liana and Curtis.

Although I took a break from blogging at The Wild Reed for most of the past six weeks or so, I was still updating a number of other blogs, including The Progressive Catholic Voice, Sensus Fidelium and A Prince Named Valiant. This last one is my tribute to the Prince Valiant adventure strip which on February 13 celebrated its 75th anniversary.

The image above is a panel from the 75th anniversary installment of Prince Valiant. To view this installment in its entirety, click here.

To read A Prince Named Valiant's two special 75th anniversary posts, visit here and here.

Above and right: Catholics for Marriage Equality MN's weekly Lenten Prayer Vigil in front of the chancery office of the Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis.

As one of the organizers of this vigil, I'm happy to report that 80 people gathered on the First Sunday of Lent, and double that number last week on the Fourth Sunday of Lent.

We gather as we want to see Archbishop Nienstedt redirect his energies and the financial resources of the Archdiocese away from the divisive ‘marriage amendment’ and toward actions that reflect Jesus' Gospel call to care for the poor and marginalized.

For images from the First Sunday of Lent, click here.

To read Catholics for Marriage Equality MN's media release about the vigil, click here.

To sign the petition related to the vigil, click here.

To read and sign the Catholic Statement of Support for Marriage Equality, click here.

Above: Friends Phil, Tim and Curtis – Sunday, February 26, 2012.

Left: With my friend Betty – Sunday, March 18, 2012.

Above: A great photo of my friends Mary Lynn, Darlene and Theresa – Sunday, March 18, 2012.

Darlene and her husband Tom also feature in the video series Catholics for Marriage Equality. For Mary Lynn's excellent writings on Occupy Minneapolis, see here and here.

Above: By far one of the most popular signs at the weekly Lenten vigil!

Above: It's become a custom for a group of friends and I to have donuts and coffee at the Donut Cooperative in South Minneapolis before heading over to St. Paul for C4ME-MN's Lenten Vigil at the chancery!

Pictured from left: Liana, Kim, Curtis and Phil – Sunday, March 18, 2012.

Above: With friends Joey, Mary and Kathleen, celebrating Joey's 16th birthday at The Lexington in St. Paul – Saturday, March 3, 2012.

Joey and his mother Kathleen are good friends of mine. As I've documented previously, we've traveled to St. Louis together and shared a Wisconsin adventure!

King Neptune and his bride! Actually, it's my friends Curtis and Liana celebrating the former's birthday with an "Under the Sea"-themed party – Saturday, March 3, 2012.

Right: More denizens of the deep and assorted seafarers!

Left: On Saturday, March 10, 2012, about 1,000 people gathered at the University of St. Thomas Anderson Student Center to celebrate the life of longtime justice and peace activist Marv Davidov. Featured speakers – including Garrison Keillor, Clyde Bellecourt, Tony Bouza, Carol Masters, Larry Long, Bill Tilton and Carol Connolly – recalled and celebrated highlights of Marv's life and legacy.

Marv was a friend and inspiration to me and many others. He led the Honeywell Project in a decades-long campaign to halt the production of anti-personnel weapons by the Honeywell corporation. He was a Freedom Rider during the Civil Rights era of the 1960s, and a participant in the Immigrant Workers Freedom Ride of 2003. For over 50 years he was a tireless non-violent revolutionary, dedicated to facilitating positive social transformation through organizing and activism.

For a 25-minute video summary of the two-hour tribute program, click here.

Right: Clyde Bellecourt, co-founder of the American Indian Movement (AIM).

Left: My friends the McDonald Sisters – Jane, Rita, Brigid and Kate – performed a number of good-natured "Marv Parodies" at the March 10 tribute to Marv. I'm sure somewhere he was laughing along with the rest of us!

Above: My friend Eduard, who visited me from Chicago, March 2–7, 2012. We'd not seen one another since April 2008.

Left: One of a series of portraits that I took of Eduard on the afternoon of March 6. For another, click here.

Right: With my friends John and Kathy after a wonderful dinner and a night out to see Theater Latte Da's production of Jonathan Harvey's Beautiful Thing. For a scene from the film version of this play, see this previous Wild Reed post.

Above: Two of John and Kathy's sons, Aaron and Cole – preparing our dessert for the evening! And, yes, it was delicious!

Above: My new home is quite close to Minnehaha Creek and the Minnehaha Parkway – a very beautiful area of South Minneapolis. This photo was taken near Minnehaha Falls at dusk on Friday, March 9, 2012.

Right: With my friend Kathleen at our mutual friend Brigid's annual St. Patrick's Day party, at which I had the honor of being the emcee.

Left and below: A good time was had by young and old alike . . .

. . . and no party would be complete without a singing dog!

Just how mild has this past winter been in Minnesota? Well, pictured above are my friends Brian and Rick – in t-shirts and shorts in mid-March! Earlier that week I was sun bathing in my skivvies on the roof of their apartment building! (I'll spare you any pictures of that spectacle!)

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Out and About – December 2011
Out and About – November 2011
Out and About – October 2011
Out and About – September 2011
Out and About – August 2011
Out and About – July 2011
Out and About – June 2011
Out and About – May 2011
Out and About – March 2011
Out and About – February 2011