Thursday, January 29, 2009

World gets first gay head of state

Independent: ANDY MCSMITH

Iceland is set to appoint the world’s first lesbian prime minister – a former flight attendant who rose through the political ranks to become a cabinet minister.

Johanna Sigurdardottir, the 66-year-old social affairs minister, has been picked by her Social Democratic Alliance party to lead an interim government after the country’s conservative-led government collapsed.

Ms Sigurdardottir’s appointment is expected to be confirmed within days by the new ruling coalition of the Alliance party and the Left-Green movement. She would lead Iceland until general elections, expected in May.

Environment Minister Thorunn Sveinbjarnardottir said: “She is respected and loved by all of Iceland.

That this is news at all shows we have a long way to go as a prejudice free society. Why should people's sexual orientation be newsworthy?

As to claims she is "the first one"! Well, who is to say?...The first one we know about maybe! Or, the fist in a society where its not that important.



Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Son Cubanos...

Not many of the Cuban- Americans I know voted for Obama…”por ese no, que va”. Even less made any comments about Michelle’s fashion sense during her appearances in the campaign trail!!! However, as inauguration day flashed on, in my house, that of relatives and friends in the small Cuban American community of the city where we live, the chatter was all about the inauguration’s more visible…..Cubans!

With a touch of pride, a friend noted that, the very morning of the inauguration, Mrs. Obama wore a yellow gown designed for her by “una cubana”, the New York based designer Isabel Toledo. “…The color is somewhat strange, but the design, le queda bien- it suits her…”

Cuban Episcopalians were quick to remind me that, at the traditional early morning prayer service on Inauguration day, the Obama’s were welcomed to St. John’s Episcopal Church in Lafayette Square by the Rector, the Rev. Dr. Luis León, a Cuban.

Though for many in this community Obama was not the first choice, I could not help a chuckle at all the gossip and smiles generated by pictures like this one… “Oye chico, did you know that Cubans dressed and blessed…the Obamas? ” , “Of course, claro que si, la costurera y el cura…Son Cubanos!”



A Short Honeymoon

The day after the Anniversary of Roe vs. Wade and the annual March for Life our new president once again extended funding for family Planning groups that perform and promote abortion overseas. I guess that the touted “change we can believe in” slogans did not include a change of heart, changes in the direction of respect for life, nor protection for the most innocent…That was a short honeymoon!!!

It surely seems as a sad foretaste of things to come, barring divine influence! This executive order, signed without much fanfare, is yet another reminder why, for the committed Christian, for the serious Episcopalian it always seems a risk to vote for a politician who is not decidedly pro-life. It is our baptismal covenant that demands we uphold the dignity of every human being, how can we ignore the most vulnerable?

Surely there are other issues where our newly elected president will make choices we will applaud, and others we will disagree with, but none more fundamental as this one. No right can be really protected when the right to life is denied, nor the dignity of all upheld when the dignity of the most vulnerable and innocent is trampled.

These words of Rev. Luke J. Robinson of Quinn Chapel A.M.E. Church in Frederick, Md., an African-American, uttered at the 2009 March for Life, speak truth to the new power in Washington;

"I am praying that God's hand will lead him in righteousness and justice…. Today, Thursday, Jan. 22, we come here to deal with some unfinished business as it relates to the dream. We need change now more than ever….We are calling on the president of change to be an agent of change as it relates to the lives of more than 1 million children who will be slaughtered in his first year as president of the United States by a horrible injustice called abortion”

May it be so….



The Promise of Obama

I am not one easily impressed by rhetoric or show, but must admit inauguration day had very inspirational moments.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, the mere image of a young African American taking the oath for the highest office of the land communicates volumes! No less touching are pictures of the first family.

For the black community, dragged down by a history of enforced enslavement, exclusion and prejudice, Barak , Michelle and their family embody a hope, inspiration and pride which goes beyond words. Immigrants as well, find in a son of one like them, who has achieved the American dream, a validation of their own aspirations for a better life.

I liked his speech, despite the pundits! It had a good mix of sobering realities and the inspirational, even a sprinkling of Scripture….

“….We remain a young nation, but in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things. The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness…”

From this perch, there was nothing not to like in the sounds images of the day! A promise and dream fulfilled, seemingly a vision of what could be in a world where race, class or ideas are no longer instruments or determinants for exclusion in society.

Now comes the reality, how will Barak govern? Will it be from his higher convictions or from the base of his party’s own ideology? Will his be a post partisan, post racial, no politics as usual administration or just more of the same in an attractive photogenic package? Time will surely tell.

For now I plan to pray daily for our new president, for his family for our nation. The words of Rick Warren seem appropriate…

“…Give to our new president, Barack Obama, the wisdom to lead us with humility, the courage to lead us with integrity, the compassion to lead us with generosity…”



Thursday, January 15, 2009

A New Deity?

I do not plan to invoke the name of Jesus at all...pray to the God of our many understandings".

These are words uttered by the Episcopal Bishop of New Hampshire in an interview with NPR just a few days ago. He has been chosen to lead prayer at the opening event of the presidential inauguration this Sunday and wanted to make sure people felt included in his invocation of deity.

Some may applaud his attempt at inclusiveness, for me it was dissapointing! A Christian bishop who specifically excludes the name "Above all Names", the name to which "Every Knee Shall Bow..." and "...every tongue confess ..." ?

What deity is the God of our many understandings? One defined by what we think?

God is in no sense defined by our comprehension nor mental constructs which often distort the divine image! These are mere idols! Religious leaders worth their salt should point us beyond these, to the reality and awesomeness of the Divine person....not allow us to be content with our petty imaginations!

I wonder, given this and other statements in the media by bishop Gene, if he sees his ministry more as that of a bishop or a GLBT advocate? He sure spends a lot of time and is very clear on his message of inclusion but sounds quite dissapointing as an spokesperson for the One who is Lord!