Sunday, July 18, 2010

Thanksgiving and remembrance

This week Argentina became the first Latin American country, and the second country in the Americas (O Canada!), to legalize same-sex marriage nationwide. ("Viva!" to Mexico's Distrito Federal for legalizing it locally.) The LDS Church made what strikes me as a token effort to stir up opposition among its members in the vicinity of Buenos Aires. I'm not sure, actually, how to explain why they refrained from organizing a more assertive opposition, something more on the scale of Prop 8. Scared cautious by the Prop 8 backlash? Worried about a backlash from the Argentine government? A largely American leadership just not so invested in what goes on outside the United States? Who knows. Anyway, justice won, though I'd be more encouraged if it had won by a larger margin.
The morning breaks, the shadows flee;
lo, Zion's standard is unfurled!
The dawning of a brighter day,
majestic rises on the world.

The clouds of error disappear
before the rays of truth divine;
the glory bursing from afar,
wide o'er the nations soon will shine.
"Zion's standard" because one of the defining values of Zion is social equality and an end to discrimination (D&C 38:26-27).

Hope flickers on.


It appears—fingers tightly crossed—that the oil well in the Gulf of Mexico has been successfully capped. My feeling about that actually isn't so much gratitude, to be honest, as it is: About frickin' time. I still want to see heads on stakes. Well, no, I don't believe in capital punishment as a matter of principle. So let me revise my vindictive fantasy: I want every BP executive, and anyone else in that company whose job responsibilities make them accountable for the Deepwater Horizon disaster, along with every person at the MMS ever guilty of taking gifts or allowing oil companies to bend the rules, to be compelled to work in oil cleanup for however many years it takes until the job is done.

One can only dream.
The angel brought me again to the door of the temple;
and look! water flowed out from under the threshhold toward the east. . . .

He said to me:
These waters flow down into the desert and into the sea,
and when they come into the sea, the waters will be healed.
Then every living thing that moves will live,
and there will be great schools of fish,
because of these waters.
They will be healed, and everything will live.

(from Ezekiel 47: 1, 8-9)

Yesterday was the three-year anniversary of my excommunication. I'm sitting here looking at the screen, with absolutely no idea what more to say about it than that. I'm not even sure what kind of scriptural passage to quote at this point. Well, no, this feels right:
I will ask my Father to send you another Advocate,
who will remain with you forever . . .
I will not leave you orphaned:
I will come to you . . .
Then you will know that I am in my Father,
and you are in me, and I in you.

(John 14: 16, 18, 20)

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Taize service, July

I led the first Friday Taize service as usual two days ago. Here are the readings as I re-rendered them (working from the NRSV and the JTS translation of the Hebrew Bible). I took this set of readings from the Taize website; they weren't the readings recommended for this week but for a different week in ordinary time. When I chose them, I recognized that Psalm 103 and Isaiah 40 were being paired together, at least in part, because they both refer to being given power like an eagle's. But it didn't occur to me until we were in the middle of the service that the eagle metaphor resonated weirdly with the iconography of the Fourth of July. Since I'm not thrilled about alliances between American nationalism and Christianity, I think the resonance was unfortunate.


PSALM 103:1-12

Bless the Lord, my soul!
All that is in me, bless God’s holy name!
Give thanks to the Lord, my soul,
and remember all God’s kindnesses.

Who but the Lord forgives all your sins?
Who but God heals your maladies?
Who pulls you back from the precipice?
Who encircles you with tender arms?
Who fills your life with good things
and gives you power like the eagle’s?

The Lord is a righteous judge,
administering justice to all who are oppressed.
This is the God who spoke to Moses—
who liberated Israel with wondrous deeds.

The Lord is merciful and kind,
slow to anger, abounding in love.
God does not treat us according to our sins
nor repay us according to our faults.
As high as heaven is above the earth,
so deep is God’s compassion for the penitent.
As far as the east is from the west,
so far does the Lord remove from us our sins.


ISAIAH 40:27-31

My people,
why do you say,
“The Lord does not see me;
God ignores the injustice done to me”?

Don’t you know?
Have you not heard?
The eternal God,
who created the earth from end to end,
is endless in power
and limitless in knowledge.

In God, there is strength for the weary,
power for the powerless.
Beyond the limits at which the energy of youth is depleted—
past the point at which athletes collapse from exhaustion—
those who trust in the Lord will find their strength renewed.
They will soar upward as if with the wings of eagles.
Running, they will not become tired;
marching, they will not grow weary.


LUKE 6:27-32, 35

Jesus said:
Listen, all of you—

Love your enemies,
do good to those who despise you,
bless those who curse you,
pray for those who mistreat you.

If someone slaps you across one cheek,
offer the other also.
If someone takes away your coat,
turn over your shirt as well.
Give to everyone who begs from you.
If someone takes what is yours,
make no effort to get it back.

Do to others as you would have them do to you.

What is so virtuous
about showing love to those who love you?
It hardly takes a saint to do that much.

I am setting for you a higher standard.
Love your enemies;
do good, and lend expecting nothing in return.
That is how you will grow into the image of God,
who showers blessings even on the ungrateful and the wicked.