Thursday, July 31, 2003

Doug LeBlanc, regular editor of Christianity Today, has a nice little piece on his relationship with Gene Robinson, whom he has known for five years. What is telling here is that the friendliness between an evangelical and a progressive gay priest is unusual enough to warrant an article! LeBlanc writes of his genuine liking for Robinson:

"Make of this what you will. Call it fundamentalism with a smiley face, or cognitive dissonance, or even one conservative's hypocrisy. I prefer to revel in this paradox. During General Convention of 2003, and after it, I intend to nourish this paradox with goodwill, honest writing, and—God willing—still more serendipitous humor."

It is a nicely written story, and liberals would do well to read it and remember that their activist conservative brethren are, with some nauseating exceptions, mostly good, kind, spiritually aware folks. But for goodness' sake, these encounters need to be a heckuvah lot more frequent.

My email is thehugoboy@hotmail.com...

As of this afternoon, my hope is that Arianna Huffington will run for governor. She would be a far more formidable progressive candidate than Peter Camejo. If the right splits its vote amongst the likes of Issa, Simon, McClintock and (perhaps) Riordan, Arianna might have a shot. The LA Weekly reports today that Peter Camejo might drop out and endorse Arianna if she runs; this would give the progressive left one single candidate around whom to unite. Here's hoping!

My beloved girlfriend Eira and I are headed for Colombia on August 9. We will be visiting Bogota, Santa Marta, and Bucaramanga.

Wednesday, July 30, 2003

My hyperlinks are working!

My beloved California (I am a sixth-generation Golden Stater on my mother's side) is headed for an October vote on whether or not to recall Gray Davis, our singularly uninspiring governor. I voted for Gray in 1998; last fall, I voted for Green Party candidate Peter Camejo.

For those who want to keep up with California politics, Rough & Tumble is indispensable.

For those of us on the Left, the best hope is that the recall is defeated outright. Despite widespread dislike of Davis, I suspect that with a strong turnout of core Democratic/progressive voters, the recall can be turned back. A modest prediction: the recall fails narrowly, 48-52%; most inland, southern, and far-northern California counties will approve the recall, but Los Angeles and the Bay Area will provide Davis with just enough to survive.

I suspect Feinstein will stay out, as will Schwarzenegger. The conservative vote will be split three ways (at least), primarily among the right-wing lightweight Darrell Issa, even lighter-weight Bill Simon (who lost to Davis last fall), and the smart, thoughtful, and troglodytically conservative Tom McClintock. McClintock is actually leading (as of tonight) in the GOP Straw Poll. Go at once and vote!

General Convention opens today! My conservative friends at Classical Anglican Net News have a nice site to keep track of developments...

Tuesday, July 29, 2003

Check out the following links:

The first is a sermon by Michael Hopkins, president of IntegrityUSA, making it clear that even if things go badly for progressives at General Convention, he will stay within the Episcopal Church USA:

Specifically, Hopkins remarked last week:

"I am not going anywhere. No matter what happens at this Convention, I will remain not only in the Church but serving it. I will not attempt to get my way by threatening to leave. And I still ask those on all sides of the debate to take such threats off the table.

I acknowledge that I do so against very real feelings to flee. Staying in the Church may indeed be the hardest thing I ever have to do. But, with God’s grace, I will do it. I ask each of you to make the same commitment. I ask my brother and sister gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender Episcopalians to make the same commitment. I ask my sister and brother conservative Episcopalians to make the same commitment."

On the other hand, here is Ephraim Radner, a leading (and quite thoughtful) conservative priest from Colorado:

He writes that should the Left prevail at General Convention:

" Should General Convention give consent to Robinson and rites for same-sex blessing Deputies, (we conservatives) should seek - alone or with or following others - to give public voice to the conviction that GC has taken a step into constitutionally and evangelically illegitimate actions which cannot and must not be followed, and whose activities and budget no longer warrant support. The language here is important: it is GC that will have moved beyond and outside the Catholic faith that upholds and embodies Christian "communion", while others will have chosen to remain within it. While there are many who will claim that orthodox Episcopalians are "breaking communion" by their dissent from GC, this judgment is not only wrong but must be continually refuted."

I don't dispute the right of the Right to do everything in their power to block assent to Robinson's election. Radner is no David Virtue; the former is an erudite and profound writer, and probably a heck of a good priest. But no matter how he couches it, the language above is the language of a threat: "our way, or the highway". Hopkins' decision to stay and fight, even if the convention rejects both Robinson and a rite for same-sex unions, looks courageous and more Christian by comparison.

Monday, July 28, 2003

One of the really unpleasant figures in the world of online Anglicanism is David Virtue (I have no idea whether or not that is a pseudonym). Here he is, writing yesterday on the subject of the so-called homosexual agenda within the church:

"What Parsley (the traditionalist Bishop of Alabama who has proposed a compromise on the subject of Gene Robinson's elevation) doesn't get is that ECUSA's pansexualists will stop at
NOTHING to win. Louie Crew has spent a lifetime pushing sodomy, and
he's getting old. Time is running out for the Church's First Sodomite
to have ECUSA justify his own behavior. This is his kairos moment. He
wants to die knowing that an acknowledged homosexual is made bishop.

Bishop Parsley doesn't get it. He thinks he is dealing with reasonable
men and women. He's not. He doesn't get it that SODOMY IS THEIR
RELIGION not Jesus or the creeds or the gospel, and they will stop at
nothing to get Robinson elected and rites for same-sex blessings
brokered in."

Traditionalists within the Episcopal Church USA must repudiate Virtue's nasty and intemperate language if they are to retain the moral high ground in this debate. The only way forward is to recognize, humbly and prayerfully, that reasonable men and women can disagree in love on the subject of homosexuality. The Left must acknowledge that most (sadly, not all) who oppose same-sex unions do so in a spirit of love, not of homophobic self-righteousness; the Right must acknowledge that for most gay and lesbian Episcopalians, this is an issue of justice, not an issue of sexuality. Both sides MUST repudiate their extremists.

Friday, July 25, 2003

Though I do not agree with them on everything, here is the fine site of Feminists for Life
General Convention of the Episcopal Church opens next week, with homosexuality more certain than ever to dominate the discussion. Lest my previous entry seem ambiguous, let me be clear that I do support state recognition of gay and lesbian marriages. But I think that the state ought to legitimate many things that the church cannot and will not. Caesar will do what Caesar will do, and I see no reason why Caesar's morality cannot be broad and inclusive. (For example, many (myself included) regard the use and production of visual pornography as essential sinful; many of these same folks (self again included) do not think it is the state's business to regulate our viewing habits. It is the church's responsibility, and the church's alone, to enforce morality amongst its members. We do not create morality for those outside the church:

1 Corinthians 5:12-13: "For what have I to do with judging those outside? Is it not those inside that you are to judge? God will judge those outside".

I would rather the Episcopal Church move more slowly, and avoid schism on this issue. I do think gay and lesbian relationships are not always contrary to God's will, and would personally like to see same-sex unions blessed by the church. But the work of the church will be irreparably harmed by schism; it will NOT be irreparably harmed by waiting another decade or two for ecclesiastical legitimation of same-sex unions. Let's have a twelve-year moratorium on discussing this issue, and come back to it in 2015. By that time, I fully expect gay and lesbian marriage to be legal in most -- if not all -- American states. The liberals will surely win out, but in God's time, not necessarily now.

Monday, July 21, 2003

Before moving to the Mennonites, I attended All Saints Church here in Pasadena, one of the largest and most famous liberal parishes in the Episcopal Church USA, Next week, the biennial convention of the Episcopal Church opens in Minneapolis, and not surprisingly, homosexuality is front and center on the agenda. The election of Gene Robinson (an openly gay man) as Bishop of New Hampshire this spring needs to be approved by the convention -- and if it is, as most think it will, it could lead to schism in the Anglican Communion.

I am so glad we have come to the point where all the hungry have been fed, all the prisoners have been visited, all the widows and orphans cared for, all the sick comforted, and the Gospel brought to all! I know we must have done all of those things, because if we haven't done so, I would think it a heartbreaking waste to spend so much time and energy and money on the issue of homosexuality. I myself am deeply conflicted on the subject of same-sex unions, but I also recognize that both sides in the homosexuality debate see this issue as being far more important than it actually is. Activists on both sides get to use lots and lots of self-righteous rhetoric (Lefties:"justice" and "inclusion"; Righties: "morality" and "sin"); activists on both sides throw red meat to their natural constituencies; everyone's blood pressure rises. And every moment spent debating this issue becomes one moment not spent on missions work, on building Christ's kingdom here on earth. Sigh.

Saturday, July 19, 2003

Have had multiple long discussions regarding the Kobe Bryant situation. I have little to add that has not already been said, except to say that I found his appearance yesterday with his wife to be touching and genuine. It is a risky and dangerous thing in this cynical age to trust -- it is safer (not to mention more fashionable) to affect a world-weary cynicism, an outlook that assumes that public expressions of contrition such as Kobe's are carefully staged set pieces. And yet, without knowing the man or his marriage, I can say with conviction that a swift and public apology for his infidelity was appropriate and encouraging. One would have liked to have had it BEFORE the news broke that he was to be charged, but it is always encouraging to see a man in Kobe's position taking responsibility and accepting the blame for his actions. I wish him and his wife well, regardless of the veracity of the charges against him.

Friday, July 18, 2003

My own church, Mennonite Church USA, just wrapped up its biennial convention in Atlanta. Among the resolutions passed was one concerning abortion read the PDF file here:
I really think this one "threads the needle". Like many Mennonites, I am a "seamless garment" pro-lifer (the phrase is the late Chicago Cardinal Bernardin's). I am frustrated by the silence of the Left on abortion, just as I am appalled by the Right's embrace of militarism and the death penalty. I want to protect the lives, bodies, and freedoms BOTH of vulnerable young women AND their unborn children -- rarely do I find public voices on the abortion issue that acknowledge both of those compelling needs!

Abortion is, in some real sense, a destruction of innocent life. But like my brother and sister Mennonites, I am not convinced that outlawing abortion will save lives. I also deeply appreciate their recognition that "There are times when deeply held values come in conflict with each other". Hurrah for a church -- and for those folks outside the church -- who are willing to navigate through such stormy and difficult waters, and willing to produce such a prayerful and nuanced statement. NARAL on the Left and the American Life League on the Right might not like it, but if you are infuriating the margins, you are probably on the right track.

Thursday, July 17, 2003

Welcome to my blog. I am Hugo Schwyzer, a community college professor in Pasadena, California. I teach history and gender studies. I suspect strongly that I am the only heterosexual evangelical Christian ever to teach courses at an American institution of higher education on Men and Masculinity, Women in American Society, and GLBTQ History.

I long to add my own musings to the ever-growing number of unread words that float about in cyber-space.

Vital Statistics:

Age: 36
Height: 6'1"
Religious affiliation: Mennonite, but have been a nondenominational evangelical, an Episcopalian, and a Roman Catholic.
Education: Yes. (B.A., UC Berkeley, 1989; Ph.D. UCLA 1999).
Marital Status: Blissful in committed relationship
Hobbies: Volunteer youth minister; trundling marathon runner (3:13PR); aspiring ultra-runner (one 50K down, a 50-miler for 2004);

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