Monday, April 26, 2010

Why Marriage Matters

As many who friended me on Facebook already know, Kathy Berg, a member of All Saints Episcopal Church in Bentonville, died this past Sunday. Mrs. H, Spud and Sprout took dinner over for her surviving partner/wife and daughter. We listened to what happened at the hospital, and what Philine went through that fateful afternoon, and I thought I would share it with all of you.

They were transported to the hospital, and Philine and Amanda were pretty banged up, but OK. Kathy, on the other hand, was in critical condition after being thrown from the vehicle. Philine had called one of Kathy's sisters, and they were at the hospital too. Only one nurse would talk with Philine about Kathy's condition, and that was just to say that she had some fractures and such. The medical staff at Northwest Medical in Bentonville had taken Kathy's family into the chapel to tell them about her condition and what her chances were. It wasn't until one of Kathy's sisters told the staff that Philine was Kathy's wife and she should be the one making the decisions that anyone let her into the loop. If it weren't for the support of Kathy's family, Philine would not have known what was happening until it was too late.

Now take a page from Jesus and put yourself in Philine's shoes for just a moment. Here you are, just after a car wreck, injured and in shock. Your spouse is in the same hospital, but no one will tell you what is happening. You aren't allowed to go and see the person you have shared your life with and have been raising a child with. No one will talk to you about her condition. Even when the rest of your family arrives at the hospital, you are left out of the loop. Wouldn't that make you angry? Wouldn't you want to spend the last moments of your wife or husband's life next to them, holding their hand? How would you react in this situation.

This is the same situation that lesbian and gay couples face whenever they go to the hospital. Even with power of attorney, living wills, and domestic partnership papers, they are many times left out of these critical decisions and robbed of the last moments of their parters lives. Sometimes, as in the case in Miami last year, the patient dies alone as her partner and children fight for just a minute with them. And it is bullshit.

I personally don't give a damn what conservative Christians reading this think of homosexuality. I don't care what label you want to put on it or how much you think you are "defending the sanctity of marriage" by voting down marriage status to same sex couples. People deserve to have the people who have shared their life's journeys with them close by. Whether you are gay or straight, if you have dedicated your life to being with someone else, then you have a right to be with them in their time of need PERIOD. To deny a loving couple this fundamental right is more evil than anything you in your self righteous minds could ever think that they are doing behind closed doors.

This brought the marriage equality issue home to me in more of a way than reading about the plight of others. This happened in my back yard, to people I care about. And I am tired of my friends being treated like subhumans. It has to end.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

New York Times Weighs in on Act 1

The New York Times has an editorial about Arkansas Act 1 here. It affirms my opinion that the "broad net" approach was too vague and was meant to discriminate agains one group "teh Gays" and actually hurt the children in Arkansas awaiting adoption and good foster homes. According to the editorial:

A 2009 report by the Arkansas Department of Human Services found 517 children awaiting adoption but only 228 adoptive homes available.

In this case, just like with the Jim Crowe laws in the 20th century, the majority in Arkansas is wrong. There is no "Gay Agenda" except to be accepted as people and not second class citizens or a dispised and outcast group. Gee, what a crime... to want to be treated like a human being. Shame on Arkansas.

One final glimmer of hope in the conclusion:

What is most important is the ruling’s recognition of Act 1’s discriminatory and unwarranted disqualification of potential parents, no matter how prepared and eager they are to give children a good home. That sound bottom line should survive any appeal.

I pray it is so.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

War Eagle Cave...

One of the most surreal experiences I ever had was in War Eagle Cave near Rogers. As we walked through the cave, we listened to stories of Jesse James and other outlaws and bootleggers who had used the cave throughout the years. Somehow, being inside the womb of the Earth like that puts me in a more contemplative mood. Two things in particular stood out, and made a dramatic impact on my thinking.

When we reached the end of the trail, the guide turned off all of the lights and we were plunged into total darkness. This was a darkness so deep and so black that it actually hurt my eyes as they seemed to search frantically on their own for any source of light. After a minute or so, our guide turned on his flashlight and the world suddenly seemed as bright as if the Sun were shining down on us. I was amazed that one small light could have such an impact on our senses.

The same thing applies in our world today. There are still places where people are trapped in painful darkness of lonliness, poverty, shame and grief. Injustices surround us to where many of us feel like we are in that dark cave, frantically searching for one small light, one sliver of hope to dispell the oppressive night that they are in.

In order for this to happen, we have to present that light to the world. The Christophers have a motto, "It is better to light one candle than to curse the darkness". For action to be taken, for injustices to be righted, people need to know. That is why it is so important to share these stories when you hear of them and to take some sort of action when you can. Stand up for what you know is right.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Update on Act 1 and an Asshat Award

According to the Max Brantly at the Arkansas Times, Attorney General Dustin McDaniel is going to appeal Friday's Circuit Court ruling that I discussed earler. From the Arkansas Times:

Initiated Act 1 was approved by approximately 57 percent of the voters in the 2008 election. I believe the people of Arkansas deserve to have the state’s highest court decide whether or not to override their decision. Therefore, I have instructed attorneys in my office to appeal the Circuit Court’s ruling on Initiated Act 1 to the Arkansas Supreme Court.

McDaniel's earlier statement said, "A number of factors will have to be considered and evaluated before a decision is made as to whether an appeal would be in the best interests of the state." I've asked the AG's office what those factors were.

UPDATE: McDaniel called the Times this afternoon to answer our questions. "I’m not offering any predictions on how it’s going to come out," the attorney general said, "but I think that everyone would expect it to be appealed. Avoiding an appeal is very unlikely so the question is whether the state’s lawyer is a participant in that and I think we almost have to be."

I realize that Mr. McDaniel is doing his job, but I still think it stinks. This reprehensible law hurts children and denies same sex couples the right to adopt or foster children who need stable loving homes, but takes away my right to decide who raises my children if something should happen to me and Mrs. H.

This is a blatant attempt by the Arkansas Family Council (an arm of Focus on the Family) to make sure LGBT couples remain second class citizens. Even though the wording was carefully crafted to not specify them (since the previous law that did was struck down), they made no bones about it being to prevent LGBT's from adopting or fostering children during its campaign.

Because Dustin McDaniel is doing his job, as distasteful as it is, and Jerry Cox is once again spreading hate and discontent, I hereby award the Arkansas Family Council the Asshat of the Day.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Reflection on Yesterday's Gospel Reading...

When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?" He said to him, "Yes, Lord; you know that I love you." Jesus said to him, "Feed my lambs." A second time he said to him, "Simon son of John, do you love me?" He said to him, "Yes, Lord; you know that I love you." Jesus said to him, "Tend my sheep." He said to him the third time, "Simon son of John, do you love me?" Peter felt hurt because he said to him the third time, "Do you love me?" And he said to him, "Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you." Jesus said to him, "Feed my sheep.
There is nothing I like better than spending a hot summer day next to a cool river or pond fishing. As a young hillbilly, my two brothers and I would take our loaf of stale bread and our little Zebco fishing poles down to the pond in the middle of the mountain we lived on. We could spend hours down there catching and releasing brim and perch until sunset, then retire first to the house for dinner, and then to the tent in the middle of the yard where we spent our summer nights. Such carefree days were always welcome.

I imagine Peter was thinking something similar when he told his fellow disciples, “I’m going fishing,” and took his boat out to see. Fishing was more than just a livelihood to him, it was familiar. And really, who could blame him for looking for something familiar. Already the man whom he considered a great friend and teacher had not only been brutally tortured and murdered by Roman authorities, but now had come back to visit him not once, but twice! If it were me in the same situation, I would be looking for something more familiar too, after I pried myself off the ceiling, of course.

And I think Jesus understood this, too. When he appears to the disciples from the shore, he doesn’t announce himself or yell at them to get back to work. He even helps them haul in the biggest catch they had probably ever seen before whipping them up a hearty breakfast. I can just see Jesus cooking over the fire smiling and muttering to himself, “I did everything but draw them a picture saying I’d be back and they still didn’t get it…” and then nearly rolling on the ground with laughter seeing Peter tripping over himself to get dressed and swim back to the shore when Peter realizes who is waiting for him. He helps keep up the familiarity by having breakfast with them as they probably did many times before.

Let’s take a look at what happens when people move out of that comfort zone, that area of familiarity, and answer the call:

Peter and the disciples answered that call and began spreading the “evangelion” the good news throughout the known world. Today we still see the results of this call.

In 1955, a Montgomery, Alabama woman moved out of the familiar and refused to be moved to the “colored” section of the bus she was riding. That decision helped to spark a civil rights movement that in 2008 saw the first African American elected to the highest office in the United States.

In 1974 11 women stepped out of their comfort zone and answered a call to ordained ministry within the Episcopal Church. 36 years later, we have seen not only the election of women bishops within the Church, but in 2006, the election of the first woman Primate in the Anglican Communion.

More recently, at St. Gregory’s Episcopal Church in San Francisco: a life-long atheist and partnered lesbian heard the call and not only walked into the service there, but shared in communion. Just taking that small step out of her comfort zone lead to the establishment of a food pantry that feeds over 900 people daily.

Further forward, in 2003, the Episcopal Church and the Diocese of New Hampshire heard the call to “tend my lambs” and elected the first openly gay and partnered bishop not only in the Episcopal Church, but the Anglican Communion. Now we have elected a second openly gay partnered bishop in the Diocese of Los Angeles, and the Episcopal Church has moved to the forefront of a movement of a socially relevant, inclusive gospel seeks to emulate Jesus life and ministry by welcoming all and realizing that no one person is better or worse than another.

And, of course, in 2006, a newly ordained vocational deacon moved out of his own familiar ground in his native Texas and moved into the heart of Razorback Country to plant a new Episcopal Mission. That leap of faith established a counter culture congregation that now boasts of membership between 80 and 100 English speaking parishioners and between 25 and 30 Spanish speaking parishioners and the return of a married former Roman Catholic priest to ordained ministry.

All of these things started with just one person moving out of his or her comfort zone and taking that brave step forward into the unknown. We each hear this same call today in big and small ways. From offering the young LDS missionaries an umbrella when it is raining to even just a smile, a touch or a kind word to a total stranger, Jesus is calling us to move beyond the familiarity of our church pews and our places of work and into a world of possibilities. But, like Peter and the Apostles, and like Paul after the Damascus Road, we have to have the courage to take those first steps. In those first steps, we have the potential to see something truly glorious.

15 Years Ago Today in Oklahoma

It was 15 years ago today that the Federal Building in Oklahoma City was bombed in an act of domestic terrorism. Let us today not only remember the lives lost then, but the danger we face today of another tragedy.

From the Book of Common Prayer:

Almighty God, kindle, we pray, in every heart the true love ofpeace, and guide with your wisdom those who take counsel for the nations of the earth, that in tranquillity your dominionmay increase until the earth is filled with the knowledge of yourl ove; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Dear Lord, look with pitty upon us, your servants, as we mourn those that were lost in the tragedy in Oklahoma City this day. Give us comfort in our loss and wisdom to prevent the mistakes of the past from being repeated in the future. We ask this in the name of your Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ, to whom with you in the Holy Spirit be honor and glory throughout all ages. Amen.

Friday, April 16, 2010

What an Historic Day!!!

For those of you playing the home game, two MAJOR events happened today. The first is all over the news: President Obama has signed an executive order making hospitals that accept Medicare and Medicaid allow same sex partners visitation rights and power of attourney rights. Second, and probably the biggest news comes out of KARK channel 4:



Excellent paper on same sex marriage!

Geeklet has posted an excellent paper on same sex marriage and why churches SHOULD be on the bandwaggon in support of it. Not to mention she does it in flawless APA format ( which after 18 months of writing, I should know). Well, what are you waiting for... Go Read it!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

And We're Back with the Asshat Award...

Today's Asshat award goes out to former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee. Gov. Huckabee's most recent case of athlete's tongue comes in a recent interview with a college newspaper. In this interview, he compared allowing gay marriage to "allowing drug use, incest and polygamy". He said:

"You don’t go ahead and accommodate every behavioral pattern that is against the ideal. That would be like saying, well, there are a lot of people who like to use drugs, so let’s go ahead and accommodate those who want to use drugs. There are some people who believe in incest, so we should accommodate them. There are people who believe in polygamy, so we should accommodate them."

Further, his opinion on the "Don't ask/don't tell" rule in the military:

I wouldn’t support a repeal if I were commander-in-chief,” he said. “You don’t see foot soldiers out there demanding it. I’m not sure that’s the most important thing we ought to be doing for the military.”“[‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’] touches an extraordinarily small group of people,” Huckabee continued. He dismissed calls to amend the policy as “primarily a posturing point for political purposes,” and an attempt to “force something on the military that they themselves haven’t pushed that hard.

So, Gov. Huckabee... for political posturing and helping to spread a message of hate and discrimination, I dub you Asshat of the Day... Congratulations, Schmuck.

Quotes taken from The Hill .

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Coach Mike Riley, LtCOL (ret) USMC.

This man was a great teacher and a great friend. He was one of the few at my old high school that believed there was more to me than just a skinny kid who didn't do his homework. He and my dad used to give each other grief (in fun) about the Navy vs Marine Corps. When he heard I had signed up as a Corpsman and was serving with a Marine unit he said, "I guess we both got him." Rest in peace, Coach. Semper Fi!

Posted Apr 09, 2010 @ 12:27 PM

Michael B. Riley, 71, passed away at 9 p.m. Wednesday, April 7, 2010, at the Freeman West Hospital, Joplin, Mo.

He was born Sept. 2, 1938, the son of William Bernard Riley and Elizabeth Faye (Green) Riley. His parents preceded him in death.

He was a 1957 graduate of the Bishop Ward High School, Kansas City, Kan. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in Education from Pittsburg State University, Pittsburg, Kan., where he was a member of the 1961 NAIA National Championship football team.

He married Phyllis L. Redmond on June 17, 1959, in Kansas City, Kan. She survives him. Four sons, Michael L. Riley and wife Antoinette, Texarkana, Texas, Thomas Pat Riley and wife Jane, Fairfax, Va., Scott E. Riley and wife LaDonna, San Antonio, Texas, Kevin R. Riley and wife Michelle, Atlanta, Ga.; a brother, Richard Riley, Rockaway Beach, Ore., and 10 grandchildren also survive him.

He proudly served his country as an officer in the United States Marine Corps from Feb. 12, 1962, to July 1, 1982. He served for two years in Vietnam and retired as a Lieutenant Colonel.

He was also a teacher and coach at Yellville-Summit High School in Yellville, Ark., from 1984 to 1999.

He was a member of the St. Ann's Catholic Church, Carthage, Mo., Rotary International, Knights of Columbus, Coordinator of the Ambassadors of the McCune-Brooks Hospital, a board member of the Broadview Country Club and the Parish Council at St. Ann's Catholic Church.

A visitation will be held from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 9, 2010, with Recitation of the Rosary from 7:30 to 8 p.m.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 10 a.m. on Saturday, April 10, 2010, at the St. Ann's Catholic Church. Fr. Bill Hodgson will officiate.

Inurnment will be in the Park Cemetery, Carthage, MO.

Memorial contributions are suggested to St. Ann's Catholic School, the Fisher House or the Mike Riley Memorial Fund (Scholarship) in care of the Knell Mortuary, Carthage, Mo.

Arrangements are under the direction of Knell Mortuary, Carthage, Mo.

From the Book of Common Prayer:

O God, who by the glorious resurrection of your Son Jesus
Christ destroyed death, and brought life and immortality to
light: Grant that your servant Mike., being raised with him, may
know the strength of his presence, and rejoice in his eternal
glory; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one
God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Most merciful God, whose wisdom is beyond our
understanding: Deal graciously with The Rileys. in their grief.
Surround them with you love, that they may not be
overwhelmed by their loss, but have confidence in your
goodness, and strength to meet the days to come; through
Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.