It’s different this time…

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Dear Friends,

We have often talked about the “new thing” God is doing in this world over the course of our struggle for the Gospel of Justice, Mercy and Love. And, here we are! – entering into a “new thing” many thought would never be seen in their lifetimes: a new again time manifesting the presence of God in astounding and resilient ways!

  • The Presbyterian Church (USA) and its decisions on ordination, marriage equality, and the revised definition of the definition of marriage in our constitution to “between two people”…
  •  The Supreme Court of the United States’ ruling on marriage equality, the upholding of the Affordable Care Act and recent decisions in challenges to housing practices for folks who have low incomes…

All of these –  “great victories” of profound impact; policy decisions that will change (have changed!) this society and the world  in ways we have yet to imagine. Celebrate? Oh, yes! Celebrate, indeed! With time for pause that honors the celebration…knowing as we do…

the enormous sacrifices of arriving at this shore;
the violence;
and the many who are not with us because they did not live long enough to see it –
or lost their lives getting us here.

Celebration calls for remembrance, always, so we pause and honor all those who have placed in our hands “the wonderful key” that has the promise to set us free.

Even with that “key in hand,” we know that once the legislative work is done, the work of changing hearts and minds continues. The planting of love and the withering of violence toward each other continues with new and robust laws and polity on our side.

I suggested this to someone yesterday, and they responded that I shouldn’t be so quick to “draw a rainbow” over the world, just yet!

But there is something different this time. It is palpable…

It’s not that so many positive things are happening, but the confluence of it all – against the landscape of the faith, spirit and hearts of our sisters and brothers of Mother Emmanuel in Charleston…

President Obama was right in his eulogy when he said our eyes have been opened by the Grace present in our community, yes our community, of Charleston. How simple they made it for us who are too complicated to see: at the core of every dream and hope and promise we have is the willingness and practice to forgive and love one another no matter what. No matter what. No matter who. No matter why.

Have we been and can we be loving and courageous in the face of such tragedy? Clearly, the answer is, “Yes.” Yes, or we wouldn’t be this far. But we’re in the new stratosphere of our dreams and aspirations with these changes that we have worked to attain – and the assailants who might hope to deflate us are even more determined to do so; too often in revolting and despicable ways.

But opponents’ actions, no matter how heinous and wrong cannot change our greatest saving grace, our amazing grace, if you will – that we are loved by God and called to love one another no matter what. Whatever others may do, they must be…

Held accountable and loved;
Challenged and loved;
Taught how wrong the are and loved;
Stopped from doing harm and loved –

And forgiven, no matter what. I know…

I don’t know if I can do this, honestly, certainly not by myself. But when we do it together, when Mother Emmanuel does it, when victims of crime time and again forgive their oppressors, when the saints of our progressive movement have done it time and again… when congregations, families, communities and more embrace and accept nothing less than love, it seems I can, as well.

“Love God with all you have -and  love one another as you love yourself.”

It really is different this time – not the message but the possibility that we have heard it in ways that will clear the path for the “new thing” God is doing. A “new thing” that will take hold with doves and a rainbow such as we’ve never seen before!

Peace,

Ray


.June 24, 2105

Being Taught to Love
Mother Emmanuel AME Church, Charleston, South Carolina

Being taught to love from Ray Bagnuolo on Vimeo.


June 18, 2015
Our Prayers and Arms Around Emmanuel AME Church

Charleston, South Carolina


James Anderson, James Dale, Rutgers, BSA and SCOTUS!

Editor’s Note: In the days ahead, an historic decision on marriage from Supreme Court of the United States will be announced, that began with courage and commitment of folks like these. I asked Jim to write an intro to his involvement with SCOTUS, while at Rutgers and as an advisor to Jim Dale and his challenge before SCOTUS following his expulsion as a Boy Scout leader, because he was gay.

Here is a link to a documentary of the struggle, which includes the two James’. Plays better on some browsers than others.) See Jim’s Bio here at LGBTRAN


From Jim Anderson:

Untitled-1I was “out of the closet” at Rutgers when I arrived there as an assistant professor in 1977.  Later when I became a full professor, I was the only out gay man that anyone knew about (of course there were others, but they didn’t flaunt it like I did), so I reaped many benefits.  When we had homophobic strife on campus the president appointed me chair of his President’s Select Committee on Lesbian and Gay concerns. We produced a landmark report that was copied widely around the country.

When I became associate dean of our school, my main management principle was Jesus’ turn the other cheek and take the blame.  I found this to be the most effective way to get past controversies and begin to deal with them.  It never hurt me to take the blame!  My dean knew what I was doing and supported me all the way.  He left all the internal administration to me.

At the same time, I became the faculty advisor to LGBT students and the main LGBT organization.  I met many promising young LGBT students in this role, and one was James Dale, whom I believe was president of our LGBT group for two years.  It was during this time that he got kicked out of the Boy Scouts, after achieving Eagle Scout status and becoming an assistant Scout Master. There was no explanation, so I encouraged him to enquire.

As this drama, portrayed in the video, unfolded, I encouraged him to pursue it, but I did my best to tell him, do this only if you want to, NOT because I want you to.  But he was hot to trot.  So watch the video and enjoy.

Lots of the LGBT students came to me with relationship problems.  I always told them to take their partners as they are or leave them, but don’t try to change them.  They will change, but not the way you necessarily want them to.  I would use my Rafael as an example.  I have been trying to change him for 44 years, and he does change, but NOT according to my “plan.”

Hugs, Jim


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