Saturday, July 07, 2007

Bishop Frade:That's How The Light Gets In

After reading Bishop Frade sermon, I thought about the conversation we had during a down time between services at St. Mark's. He told me about his experiences at Asbury, the discrimination and outright prejudice toward the young, black students when Asbury was forced to integrate. I don't think Bishop Frade consciously set out to be an activist. He saw the injustice occuring and decided to do something about it rather than other Christians who turned a blind eye to it and pretended to not see it. Some saw it and made excuses such as, "well black people don't worship like us." That was code for, "we don't want them in our churches and we don't do outreach due to the cultural differences." Baloney! Bishop Frade was a faithful Methodist who became an activist Episcopalian. Praise God!
Bishop Leo Frade
Episcopal Bishop of the Diocese of Southeast Florida
That’s How the Light Gets In A sermon preached by The Right Reverend Leopold Frade, Bishop of Southeast Florida, at his Annual Visitation for Confirmation on Trinity Sunday, June 3, 2007, at Trinity Cathedral, Miami “Ring the bells that still can ring.Forget your perfect offering.There is a crack in everything.That’s how the light gets in.” Those words come from a poem by the Canadian poet and composer Leonard Cohen. I thought that they were an appropriate way for your Bishop to be able to make you aware of the different cracks that exist at present in your church.
I don’t know if you know that one of the hurricanes the year before last caused considerable damage to the roof of our Cathedral. Unfortunately, now we have a major crack in our roof where we can see not only the light, but even the stars and the moon. But also you need to be aware of other cracks that at present exist in this Cathedral. That’s why it is important for you to be reminded of this poem: “Ring the bells that still can ring.Forget your perfect offering.There is a crack in everything.That’s how the light gets in.”
I am sure you know how imperative it is to take care of this unfortunate crack in the roof of our Cathedral. It must be fixed soon, and I know that your dean is working very hard to accomplish it, but he needs your help and your money to achieve it.
I know that we have an excellent dean--we chose right--but even if some of you tend to believe it, you have to be aware that he doesn’t walk on water. Yes, trust me on this--he really doesn’t walk on the water of Biscayne Bay to get to work and back home. The dean actually drives back and forth in his car across the bridge like the rest of us mortals. He needs your help and your money to fix that hole in the roof. Now the crack in the roof we need to fix--patch it, cover it and block the light. But there are other cracks that exist in our church of which we must be aware. We must fix the crack in our roof, but let’s be careful to leave those other necessary cracks alone, so that through them light may get in and shine to banish the darkness of our world.
I am not only talking about this Cathedral, but also about the many cracks that the Episcopal Church seems to have--or as some may perceive it, the imperfections of our Episcopal Church. Yes, we are a Church that has many cracks. We are an imperfect church, and there are many things that someone from the outside looking in may perceive to be flaws that need to be fixed. I am sure that some may even think that we must be the craziest bunch of believers in all of Christendom.
But that is precisely why I became an Episcopalian. That is why I left a calm, cozy, culturally friendly Protestant denomination to belong to a church where priests were being put in jail, and where bishops dared to question many things that were considered as untouchable and not for discussion. I must have been crazy, but I have no regrets. Many people can’t understand us. I just heard a comedian saying that Episcopalians are a kind of Cliff Notes of religion, or for the youngsters here the of religion.
Some people, when they look at us from the outside, think that we are just “Catholic Light” and that instead of asking our penitents to say a couple of “Hail Marys,” we suggest that they should have a couple of Bloody Marys. I wish it were that easy to be an Episcopalian! So if you think that by being confirmed or received in our church this morning you have it made, I’ve got news for you. It is not that easy to be one of us.
So I say to all of the candidates for confirmation and reception and to all of you that will witness the vows that are going to be made: “Ring the bells that still can ring.Forget your perfect offering.There is a crack in everything.That’s how the light gets in.” The current struggles that we are going through in our Anglican Communion are just an example of what I mean. We are being asked by our brothers and sisters of our Communion to patch the cracks that we have made. I won’t pretend that our actions have not affected the Communion as the British accented prelates stated: “The recent actions of the Episcopal Church of the United States of America have damaged the bonds of affection of the Anglican Communion.” There is no question about it, and for that we can be sorry and apologize. But the fact that we apologize doesn’t mean that we are about to fix that crack. You see, that’s how the light gets in. Some may say that this newest crack is much worse than those that occurred in the past, but I am convinced that they are just trying to justify their prejudice. At the same time there are others that while they vilified this new group demanding their rights, they are jealous to protect their own rights and will scream holy hell if someone would treat them the same way that they treat others.
Let me give you a little background of why I say this: I became an Episcopalian almost 40 years ago because I saw in this church a group of Christians that were willing to defend justice and the rights of those being abused. For me it truly reflected what I was reading that Jesus Christ was saying in the Gospels.
I had just been asked to leave a Methodist-affiliated college in the south because of my big mouth. After the forced integration of my college, I just couldn’t understand how people who seemed to be truly devoted and committed Christians were able to insult, discriminate and even persecute Americans who happened to be black. There were black persons from other countries in that college and I never heard a complaint about them, but when the first African-American student showed up all hell broke loose.
As a foreign student, I had been raised in a different culture and I lacked those chips of selective racial prejudice in my brain. So I decided that it was OK to challenge Southern white persons from Kentucky on issues of race. Big mistake!! That’s how I ended up in New York, and it was there at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine that I became enamored by the beautiful liturgy of our church.
It was love at first sight and there I discovered a church that didn’t ask you to leave your brain at the door, but allowed you to come in with your brain in order for you to think and reason with it; a church that besides having a firm belief in the Scriptures and a willingness to be guided by tradition, also believed that reason is a gift of God for us to use.
You see, reason is what would not allow us over 400 years ago to accept the theory of “Limbo” that Rome so assiduously taught up to a few weeks ago. Also it didn’t allow us to insist that the sun rotated around planet earth and that our planet was the center of the universe. Now, reason was also a factor that prevented us from saying dumb things like that the Teletubbie Tinky Winky was gay because of his triangular antenna, his color purple and his handbag. Reason has helped us to recognize that Blacks and Hispanics are not inferior, that men are not superior to women and that women can and are called by God--and ordained by the church--to be deacons, priests and bishops.
What is exciting is that the Spirit of God has been active during these days and is helping us to comprehend that human beings don’t end up being gay or lesbian because they are possessed by demons or have simply chosen an “unnatural” way of life. It was that 3-legged stool of Anglican thought, Scriptures, Tradition and Reason, that moves the members of our church to be involved in bringing justice and peace and “to respect the dignity of every human being.”
Today as we look at the photographs of marches and demonstrations during the days of the Civil Rights movement in our country, you are bound to recognize in the crowd an Episcopal priest dressed in black with a round collar around his neck. When you go through the list of people jailed, attacked and even martyred, you will find many Episcopalians, including a seminarian named Jonathan Myrick Daniels who was killed in Alabama while saving the life of a young African-American woman.
It was through the cracks that were made with blood and sweat during those days that the light of justice and racial equality got through in America. Now we are not totally perfect ourselves, and we need to sadly accept our own sins and remember with shame that even in this Cathedral black persons were not fully welcomed until a few decades ago. But there were those among us who were willing to create cracks and made it possible for the light to get in, and the changes began to happen--and they will continue to happen.
Some talk about the decrease in membership in our church as a symptom of our discussion on sexuality. But they forget to mention that the main exodus from our denomination was not because of Prayer Book changes or the ordination of women or the acceptance of gays and lesbians, but it was mainly due to the departure of white persons who refused to worship next to a black person who had dared to enter into their beloved homogeneous, culturally friendly environment through cracks that were being made by our clergy and laity to end segregation and discrimination.
There were other cracks in our church that were made, and through them other groups of persons that were being kept away were able to get in. It took a long time but I was there to witness it: It was in 1976--a year when I was so handsome and slim and with lots of hair--at General Convention in Minneapolis when we voted to allow the ordination of women to the priesthood and episcopate. Another crack was made, but you see that’s how the light gets in. Then 27 years later I came back to Minneapolis, and by 2003 I was overweight and with very little hair. But at that General Convention another crack was made. That year the bishops and deputies consented to the election of 10 bishops, something that is a routine for us. However, one of those bishops was the Bishop of New Hampshire, who happens to be a gay man in a committed relationship. And that’s how the light of justice got in.
And now this American church is being told by a number of persons from other cultures and nations, as well as from a small group of our own members, that we must patch the crack that occurred due to our actions. That is very easy for them to say, but if we do that, how will the light of justice get in? I know that by refusing to patch that crack our “bonds of affection” with some of our brothers and sisters are being strained or even broken. I know that there may even be other drastic consequences. But every time I falter and begin to think that maybe we should compromise, I remember Jonathan Myrick Daniels. He could have compromised and not bothered to try to register African-American voters in Alabama. He could have stayed home up north, but instead he chose to make a crack in the name of Christ at the boulders of injustice that blatantly existed in the South at that time. Every time I falter I think of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who could have minded his own business and not bothered to challenge the boulder of apartheid in South Africa. I am convinced that we must be willing to permit these cracks that have occurred in our church so that the light of justice can continue dwelling among us.
If we are not hypocrites and hold double standards, we must say that injustice is injustice in any way, shape or form that it may appear. As a Hispanic I say that if I want justice and equality for those like me, then I have no business whatsoever being part of anything that seeks to deny justice and equality for others, even if those others are gays and lesbians. You should not talk about equality on issues of race and culture if you at the same time--using selected verses from the Bible--refuse justice and the full participation in the life of our church to others with a lifestyle different from yours.
You see my dear candidates, it is not that easy to be an Episcopalian. My God, even our first American bishop was refused ordination by the British because he was not going to pledge allegiance to crazy king George that Americans had just defeated in our Independence War! God bless those Scottish Jacobites who in Aberdeen, Scotland, dared to make a crack in the Anglican Communion and consecrated our first bishop, Samuel Seabury, against the will of the powers to be at the time. That’s how the light got in and we were able to have our first American bishop.
It didn’t take long for the Brits to realize that we were here to stay, and that we were not anymore the Church of England but the Episcopal Church of these United States of America. Now, I know that you want to be confirmed and received by me this morning, but I want to make sure you know that we really mean for you to keep the promises that you are about to make.
We really mean it when we ask you to reaffirm your renunciation of evil and to commit to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Yes, my beloved candidates and all of you present this morning in this Cathedral, you need to be aware that we really mean it when we ask all of you if you are willing to persevere in resisting evil and also if you are willing to love your neighbor as yourself. Not some neighbors but all neighbors. Not just those who talk like you, or cook like you, or vote like you, or pray like you, or those whose affections God has wired different from yours. We really mean all.
I also want to be sure that you know the consequences of responding to the last question of the Baptismal Covenant with, “I will, with God’s help.” It’s important, because with the condition of the world we live in today, it could really make a difference for good. That final question is going to be this: Will you strive for justice and peace among all people? Will you? Will you respect the dignity of every human being? Will you really do that?Do you realize how many cracks we will have to make to be able to achieve this?
I have to admit that if I say that I believe that we must strive for peace, then I must chisel hard and make a crack at that boulder of war brought to our nation through lies and deceit. A boulder of war that brushes aside the death of over 3,000 American youngsters and now insists on a surge that will only increase the number of those killed. If I am to declare that I must strive for justice, then I must be willing to say stop the embargo against the people of Cuba. It has failed and it only punishes the poor and the weak and not those in power in that island. If I believe in resisting evil, then I must do something to stop the exploitation of farmworkers taking place today in Immokalee, Florida. I must also be willing to look at immigration issues with the eyes of the one who insisted in proclaiming that we must love our neighbors as ourselves.
There are other churches in our country where blacks and Hispanics are kept away.
There are quite a few other churches out there where gays and lesbians are bashed and considered evil, where war is praised and encouraged, where women are kept in their place, churches where cracks are not allowed to happen. This Cathedral is not one of them. Now if you really insist on becoming an Episcopalian, then welcome to this church and help us to make sure that we keep some of our cracks. It’s important--you see, that’s how the light gets in. AMEN.

Thursday, July 05, 2007


Bruce preparing Sangria
Centerpiece with Queen Mum The Man of Honor, Mr. Herb Steer Carla Jack and Bruce Doug and Carl St. Andrew's Couple Herb and MargoHerb with his Birthday gift, a wall fountain in church garden Herb, Father Paul Rasmus, Babpiper Herb and Piper Crowd gathering around On June 28th, Integrity and St. Andrew's Episcopal Church member, Herb Steer celebrated his 90th birthday. To help celebrate Herb's birthday, St. Andrew members joined with Integrity at our June Integrity Service which was followed by a birthday party for Herb.
Herb served his beloved England well as the personal valet to King George VI before moving to America in 1954. So needless to say, his birthday party was a British theme from decorations to a bagpiper.
In addition, the Palm Beach Post wrote a great story about Herb. Other articles regarding his service to the Royal Family have been written in the past.
And on Herb's birthday, he received a wonderful surprise in the mail...a personal birthday greeting from Queen Elizabeth.
We all love Herb and appreciate his friendship and hope Herb has many more birthdays to come.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Keith Olbermann's 4th of July Commentary

Olbermann's Special Commentary: Bush, Cheney Should Resign
“I didn’t vote for him,” an American once said, “But he’s my president, and I hope he does a good job.”
That—on this eve of the 4th of July—is the essence of this democracy, in 17 words. And that is what President Bush threw away yesterday in commuting the sentence of Lewis “Scooter” Libby.
The man who said those 17 words—improbably enough—was the actor John Wayne. And Wayne, an ultra-conservative, said them, when he learned of the hair’s-breadth election of John F. Kennedy instead of his personal favorite, Richard Nixon in 1960.
“I didn’t vote for him but he’s my president, and I hope he does a good job.” The sentiment was doubtlessly expressed earlier, but there is something especially appropriate about hearing it, now, in Wayne’s voice: The crisp matter-of-fact acknowledgement that we have survived, even though for nearly two centuries now, our Commander-in-Chief has also served, simultaneously, as the head of one political party and often the scourge of all others. We as citizens must, at some point, ignore a president’s partisanship. Not that we may prosper as a nation, not that we may achieve, not that we may lead the world—but merely that we may function.
But just as essential to the seventeen words of John Wayne, is an implicit trust—a sacred trust: That the president for whom so many did not vote, can in turn suspend his political self long enough, and for matters imperative enough, to conduct himself solely for the benefit of the entire Republic.
Our generation’s willingness to state “we didn’t vote for him, but he’s our president, and we hope he does a good job,” was tested in the crucible of history, and earlier than most. And in circumstances more tragic and threatening. And we did that with which history tasked us.
We enveloped our President in 2001.And those who did not believe he should have been elected—indeed those who did not believe he had been elected—willingly lowered their voices and assented to the sacred oath of non-partisanship.
And George W. Bush took our assent, and re-configured it, and honed it, and shaped it to a razor-sharp point and stabbed this nation in the back with it. Were there any remaining lingering doubt otherwise, or any remaining lingering hope, it ended yesterday when Mr. Bush commuted the prison sentence of one of his own staffers. Did so even before the appeals process was complete; did so without as much as a courtesy consultation with the Department of Justice; did so despite what James Madison—at the Constitutional Convention—said about impeaching any president who pardoned or sheltered those who had committed crimes “advised by” that president; did so without the slightest concern that even the most detached of citizens must look at the chain of events and wonder: To what degree was Mr. Libby told: break the law however you wish—the President will keep you out of prison?
In that moment, Mr. Bush, you broke that fundamental com-pact between yourself and the majority of this nation’s citizens—the ones who did not cast votes for you. In that moment, Mr. Bush, you ceased to be the President of the United States.
In that moment, Mr. Bush, you became merely the President of a rabid and irresponsible corner of the Republican Party. And this is too important a time, Sir, to have a commander-in-chief who puts party over nation.
This has been, of course, the gathering legacy of this Administration. Few of its decisions have escaped the stain of politics. The extraordinary Karl Rove has spoken of “a permanent Republican majority,” as if such a thing—or a permanent Democratic majority—is not antithetical to that upon which rests: our country, our history, our revolution, our freedoms. Yet our Democracy has survived shrewder men than Karl Rove.
And it has survived the frequent stain of politics upon the fabric of government. But this administration, with ever-increasing insistence and almost theocratic zealotry, has turned that stain into a massive oil spill. The protection of the environment is turned over to those of one political party, who will financially benefit from the rape of the environment. The protections of the Constitution are turned over to those of one political party, who believe those protections unnecessary and extravagant and quaint.
The enforcement of the laws is turned over to those of one political party, who will swear beforehand that they will not enforce those laws. The choice between war and peace is turned over to those of one political party, who stand to gain vast wealth by ensuring that there is never peace, but only war.
And now, when just one cooked book gets corrected by an honest auditor, when just one trampling of the inherent and inviolable fairness of government is rejected by an impartial judge, when just one wild-eyed partisan is stopped by the figure of blind justice, this President decides that he, and not the law, must prevail.
I accuse you, Mr. Bush, of lying this country into war.
I accuse you of fabricating in the minds of your own people, a false implied link between Saddam Hussein and 9/11.
I accuse you of firing the generals who told you that the plans for Iraq were disastrously insufficient.
I accuse you of causing in Iraq the needless deaths of 3,586 of our brothers and sons, and sisters and daughters, and friends and neighbors.
I accuse you of subverting the Constitution, not in some misguided but sincerely-motivated struggle to combat terrorists, but to stifle dissent.
I accuse you of fomenting fear among your own people, of creating the very terror you claim to have fought.
I accuse you of exploiting that unreasoning fear, the natural fear of your own people who just want to live their lives in peace, as a political tool to slander your critics and libel your opponents.
I accuse you of handing part of this Republic over to a Vice President who is without conscience, and letting him run roughshod over it.
And I accuse you now, Mr. Bush, of giving, through that Vice President, carte blanche to Mr. Libby, to help defame Ambassador Joseph Wilson by any means necessary, to lie to Grand Juries and Special Counsel and before a court, in order to protect the mechanisms and particulars of that defamation, with your guarantee that Libby would never see prison, and, in so doing, as Ambassador Wilson himself phrased it here last night, of becoming an accessory to the obstruction of justice.
When President Nixon ordered the firing of the Watergate special prosecutor Archibald Cox during the infamous “Saturday Night Massacre” on October 20th, 1973, Cox initially responded tersely, and ominously.
“Whether ours shall be a government of laws and not of men, is now for Congress, and ultimately, the American people.”
President Nixon did not understand how he had crystallized the issue of Watergate for the American people.
It had been about the obscure meaning behind an attempt to break in to a rival party’s headquarters; and the labyrinthine effort to cover-up that break-in and the related crimes. And in one night, Nixon transformed it.
Watergate—instantaneously—became a simpler issue: a President overruling the inexorable march of the law of insisting—in a way that resonated viscerally with millions who had not previously understood - that he was the law.
Not the Constitution. Not the Congress. Not the Courts. Just him. Just - Mr. Bush - as you did, yesterday.
The twists and turns of Plame-Gate, of your precise and intricate lies that sent us into this bottomless pit of Iraq; your lies upon the lies to discredit Joe Wilson; your lies upon the lies upon the lies to throw the sand at the “referee” of Prosecutor Fitzgerald’s analogy. These are complex and often painful to follow, and too much, perhaps, for the average citizen. But when other citizens render a verdict against your man, Mr. Bush—and then you spit in the faces of those jurors and that judge and the judges who were yet to hear the appeal—the average citizen understands that, Sir.
It’s the fixed ballgame and the rigged casino and the pre-arranged lottery all rolled into one—and it stinks. And they know it.
Nixon’s mistake, the last and most fatal of them, the firing of Archibald Cox, was enough to cost him the presidency. And in the end, even Richard Nixon could say he could not put this nation through an impeachment.
It was far too late for it to matter then, but as the decades unfold, that single final gesture of non-partisanship, of acknowledged responsibility not to self, not to party, not to “base,” but to country, echoes loudly into history. Even Richard Nixon knew it was time to resign.
Would that you could say that, Mr. Bush. And that you could say it for Mr. Cheney. You both crossed the Rubicon yesterday. Which one of you chose the route, no longer matters. Which is the ventriloquist, and which the dummy, is irrelevant.
But that you have twisted the machinery of government into nothing more than a tawdry machine of politics, is the only fact that remains relevant. It is nearly July 4th, Mr. Bush, the commemoration of the moment we Americans decided that rather than live under a King who made up the laws, or erased them, or ignored them—or commuted the sentences of those rightly convicted under them—we would force our independence, and regain our sacred freedoms. We of this time—and our leaders in Congress, of both parties—must now live up to those standards which echo through our history: Pressure, negotiate, impeach—get you, Mr. Bush, and Mr. Cheney, two men who are now perilous to our Democracy, away from its helm. For you, Mr. Bush, and for Mr. Cheney, there is a lesser task. You need merely achieve a very low threshold indeed. Display just that iota of patriotism which Richard Nixon showed, on August 9th, 1974.
And give us someone—anyone—about whom all of us might yet be able to quote John Wayne, and say, “I didn’t vote for him, but he’s my president, and I hope he does a good job.”
© 2007 MSNBC Interactive


We went over to Punta Gorda, Florida's prettiest town Saturday the 30th of June and got home today. We had a great time. We spent one day up at Venice Beach with our friend Sharon who lives in Port Charlotte, but spent most of the time in Punta Gorda where my brother and sister-in-law live.
These pictures came out pretty well I think.
  1. Gordon and Larry at Sharky's Restaurant at Venice Beach
  2. Our friend, Sharon
  3. Best Western Hotel....right on Charlotte Harbor and adjacant to Gilchrest Park in Punta Gorda.
  4. Freedom Swim across Charlotte Harbor. An annual 4th of July event when folks swim from Port Charlotte across the harbor to Punta Gorda's renowned Harpoon Harry's at Fisherman's Village in Punta Gorda. Alright, so some folks cheat a little and use a raft or boat!
  5. Larry at sunset at Ponce DeLeon Park, Punta Gorda
  6. Episcopal Church of the Good Shepard,Punta Gorda
  7. " " " " " " " "
  8. " " " " " " " "
  9. " " " " " " " "
  10. " " " " " " " "
  11. My brother, Ted
  12. Neil, a friend visiting from Kent County, UK
  13. Sarah, Neil's wife
  14. During our 4th of July barbecue at my brother's house, a blue heron stopped by. Ted gave him some macaroni salad...he loved it.
  15. Gordon at Ponce DeLeon Park, Punta Gorda at sunset

Men's Spring Conference

In April I attended the wonderful men's conference at PGA Resort. The only reason I found out about it is because I was in the social work office at the hospital looking for CEU conferences.
It was called "A HEALTHY SPIRIT: Healing the Bodies and Minds of Men."
The conference was a great benefit to me as it helped me further my skills with counselling those suffering from the agony of addictions and the multitude of problems and havoc the addiction cycle creates in their daily journey. It also was a help to learn more ways to deal with stress and increase my own ability to focus, reduce stress and increase mindfulness. I learned a lot of new things about male trauma.
Anyway, it was a wonderful conference and will help me in my job.
My favorite speakers were Andrew Weil , M.D. (Top) and the great writer and poet, Robert Bly who wrote Iron John.

A Busy Spring!

Well, it's been a long time since I've posted. So I'm trying to play catch up. The Lenten and Easter season at St. Mark's was busy in and of itself. Plus we had the beautiful installation of Father Cook as our new Rector. And of course St. Mark's Episcopal Church has an annual shrimp boil soiree which was a lot of fun. Above are pictures of some of the St. Mark's Spring events. But after Easter Services at St. Mark's it was back home, change clothes and over to Margo's for the St. Andrew's Integrity members Social Butterflies Easter Brunch. There were about 20 of us for this fun time of fellowship. Integrity of the Palm Beaches is different than many Integrity Chapters in the U.S. because our chapter's membership is 50% gay and 50% straight supporters. The marigolds are actually the wonderful desert creation of the lovely Margo Emery of the world renowned Core Ensemble presenting dramatizations and musical presentations worldwide.