Saturday, March 20, 2010

Who Do You Think You Are?

I have been struck with the new show on NBC called “Who Do You Think You Are?” The past few weeks there has been the spotlight on the genealogy of several stars taking those people through the generations of their family to find intriguing aspects of the lives of their ancestors.

The first one I saw was Emmitt Smith from the Dallas Cowboys. Being a long-time fan of Smith, I watched as he journeyed through the generations to find not only his earliest ancestor in the Americas, and into the nastiness of slavery of the American South and back to Benin, Africa. There he found the slave forts of that horrendous trade still standing. He also found that the trafficking in children was still a reality in East Africa. It has changed his life.

Last night I watched as Lisa Kudrow followed her family back to find the story of a great grandmother who was murdered by the Nazis in Poland and the finding of the messenger of that tragedy who had been imprisoned in Stalin’s Siberia because of his Jewish heritage. Today, I watched the story of Sarah Jessica Parker as she traced her lineage back to a 10th generation grandmother who was accused at the Salem witch trials in the 1690’s, a story that had been totally lost to her family. Both of these women have had their lives changed because they learned their story, knew the heroism of their family members and opened up the history as it impacted their families.

I have always been fascinated in history. My undergraduate work was in the History of Thought or Philosophy. I began my own genealogical search when I was in high school and have understood how the Revolutionary War and the opening of the Erie Canal impacted the lives of my mother’s family, how the enclosures in Scotland forced the emigration of the paternal Scots’ side to the Chicago area in the early 19th century and how the opening of the Canadian Parliament induced my grandfather’s family to come to North America. I have found how the lost memories of flu epidemics, military service in the Raj in India and a terrible case of seasickness converged to bring my grandfather to the U.S. rather than his original destination in Australia.

History is not mere dusty facts written in some manipulated history book even when it is taught that way. A friend reported to me that the Texas Board of Education has removed Thomas Jefferson from their history books in favor of Phyllis Shaffley! (I am not so sure that some of the facts of Thomas are best taught but I AM clear about what I would teach about Phyllis!) History is about lives. It is about people who live lives like mine and those who read this Blog. History is personal and has affected me and those connected to me.

I wonder if those who will do their genealogies in another century or two will realize what kind of people we were---those of us who have had to battle the civil rights wars over the past 60 years. Will the children of my niece and nephew want to know about the call to stand against the kind of fear that has marked our age? Will people want to know about those of us who have had to sacrifice so much just to be able to serve the Church, or society? Will people come looking for our motivation or for the kind of ethics that we have demanded of ourselves?

How will those who come after LGBT persons learn how the idea of being sexually different meant not just discrimination but living in the fear of being jailed, considered deviant, being beaten or even killed if we did not appear to conform to society’s norm. Will succeeding generations understand the kind of terror we lived under as no less horrific as Salem in the 17th century or Nazi occupied middle Europe or slave trading Benin? And even more importantly, will succeeding generations be able to see the evil inherent in being part of the majority culture as were the people of Salem, or the people of Nazi Germany or the slave traders of Portugal and Benin?

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Mary Glasspool gets consents


Integrity joins with the Diocese of Los Angeles in celebrating today's announcement that sufficient consents have been received from both Standing Committees and bishops with jurisdiction to the election of the Reverend Canon Mary Glasspool as a bishop suffragan. We look forward to the May 15th ordination service where Canons Bruce and Glasspool will become the 16th and 17th women bishops in the history of the Episcopal Church and to the work and witness they will offer on behalf of the gospel, not only for the Diocese of Los Angeles but for the whole church.

"Integrity continues in its commitment to turn the resolutions of General Convention into realities on the ground for Episcopalians in every diocese," said the Reverend David Norgard, Integrity President. "Today's affirmation of the election of a superbly qualified candidate as a bishop in the Episcopal Church is good news not just for those who work for the fuller inclusion of the LGBT baptized, but for the whole church."

"Today the Episcopal Church said 'Amen' to what the Holy Spirit did in Los Angeles in December when we elected Mary Glasspool," said the Reverend Susan Russell, chair of the Diocesan Program Group on LGBT Ministry and Integrity's immediate past president.. "I've never been prouder to be an Episcopalian or a daughter of the Diocese of Los Angeles--where we are ready to turn this election into an opportunity for evangelism."

"Integrity is part of a nationwide campaign called 'Believe Out Loud'--resourcing congregations to explicitly welcome LGBT people into their work and witness" said Louise Brooks, Integrity's Communication Director and a resident of the Diocese of Los Angeles. "We are proud to be partners with those across this church and across the country committed to working on both national and local levels for full inclusion. And we believe the election of Mary Glasspool will be an inspiration, not just to those working in our churches, but to those standing outside of them wondering if they are truly welcome. The answer is, "Yes--come and see!"

"As openly gay and lesbian people become a common and unremarkable aspect of the cultural landscape," said Norgard, "more and more bishops will ordain LGBT persons, more vestries will elect them to serve as rectors, more congregations will elect them to vestries, and most importantly, altar guilds will be setting up weddings for two grooms or two brides. We are past the turning point and the forecast for full inclusion in the Episcopal Church is brighter than ever before."The ordination service for the new bishops suffragan will be held on Saturday, May 15, 2010 beginning at 1:30 p.m. in the Long Beach Arena in Long Beach CA.

For more information, contact:Louise BrooksDirector of Communications, Integrity

I have known Mary Glasspool for thirty years, since my seminary days, I think. I can't think of anyone I think more capable or blessed to be a bishop in the Church. Her sense of rightness and integrity is combined with a calm resolution that speaks a centeredness in Christ that goes beyond the ordinary. She will be villainized and attacked by the same kind of crazies that couldn't abide +Gene Robinson, +Barbara Harris, the Philadelphia 11 and Absolom Jones. Thus it is ever so for those who dare to follow Christ onto the deeper waters of faith for the good of the Church. My prayers will be with her throughout her ministry.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010


Someone called me “Sweetie” today. Harrumph! I never have liked to be called endearments by people who don’t know me. “Honey”, “Sweetie”, “Dear” are all appellations that have driven me nutz over the years.

In my youth those terms were used to show that somehow I was incapable of knowing anything. Their use for grown women was ubiquitous and demeaning. But since my hair began to grey, the use of such descriptive really mean OLD! I feel like I am supposed to have a walker and someone needs to wipe drool from my chin.

For some years after the rise of the women’s movement, guys got royally trashed by independent women if they dared called a woman “honey” or “sweetie”. People could be reported for sexual harassment for less. But now, younger women call me ‘Sweetie’ with impunity. It takes too much energy for me to soundly thrash someone who is serving me coffee. Somehow I have to endure the indignity of such childish terms simply because I am a “Senior Citizen”.

When did it become a liability to be older and wiser? Was it Medicare that reduced the repositories of memories and grace to the place of the meaningless? I understand when I am not as technologically conversant as my younger colleagues, but I am capable of learning. Thank you very much!

You may call me “Behind the times” for I am. You may call me a “B_____ on wheels” because I often am. But do NOT call Muthah+, "SWEETIE!"