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Chi Rho Connection, Vol. VII, No. 4

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  • Adam DeBaugh
    ************************* CHI RHO CONNECTION The eNewsletter of Chi Rho Press, Your LGBT Christian Publishing House Vol. VII, No. 4 5 March 2006
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 5, 2006
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      *************************
      CHI RHO CONNECTION

      The eNewsletter of Chi Rho Press,
      Your LGBT Christian Publishing House
      Vol. VII, No. 4
      5 March 2006

      *************************

      Contents:

      1. Will the Oscar go to...? And, more
      importantly ... Lessons from "Brokeback Mountain"
      for the Presbyterian Church (USA), by Michael Adee
      2. Two Lenten Studies
      3. May We Suggest "Come Home!"?
      4. Modern Proverbs (Tongue in Cheek)
      5. "Christian with a Twist"
      6. Sanctoral Cycle
      7. Adam's Last Word

      --------------------------------------------------

      This issue's Quote:

      "Until we have faced the controversies of life,
      explained our own position on them, and, at the
      same time, been open to the opinions, information,
      and attitudes of others, we have not really joined
      the human race. We have only been observers of the
      struggle rather than participants in the human quest
      for truth."
      Sister Joan Chittister

      (Joan D. Chittister, a Benedictine Sister of Erie,
      PA, USA is a best-selling author and a well-known
      national and international lecturer. She is founder
      and executive director of Benetvision: A Resource and
      Research Center for Contemporary Spirituality, and
      past president of the Conference of American
      Benedictine Prioresses and the Leadership Conference
      of Women Religious. Sister Joan has been recognized
      by universities and national organizations for her
      work for justice, peace, and equality for women in
      Church and society.

      Thanks to James Michael Hayes, of MCC Boston,
      Massachusetts, USA for this quote.)

      *****

      Welcome once again to the Chi Rho Connection, the
      electronic newsletter of Chi Rho Press. Thank you
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      Direct all other e-mail to Adam@....

      --------------------------------------------------

      1. Will the Oscar go to...? And, more
      importantly ... Lessons from "Brokeback Mountain"
      for the Presbyterian Church (USA)

      (Editor's Note: We saw this excellent article on
      the More Light Presbyterians list-serve and was
      given permission to reprint it here by the author,
      Michael J. Adee, M.Div., Ph.D., National Field
      Organizer, More Light Presbyterians and openly
      gay Elder, First Presbyterian Church, Santa Fe,
      NM. michael@... www.mlp.org. Many thanks
      to Michael for his gracious permission and his
      wise insights. Not only are Michael's points
      well taken for the Presbyterian Church, but for
      all churches struggling with the issues of LGBT
      people of faith in their midst.)

      It is clearly becoming one of the most highly
      acclaimed and talked about films in history based
      upon the award-winning short story by the Pulitzer
      Prize-winning author, Annie Proulx. Proulx's story
      of Ennis del Mar and Jack Twist, two ranch hands
      who meet in 1963 herding sheep on a mountain in
      Wyoming, fall in love and have a twenty year
      relationship against all odds appeared first in
      the New Yorker in 1997. One film critic said that
      it is "a film in which love feels almost as if it
      were being invented."

      Why is it in 2006 it has become "the love story"
      with 8 Oscar nominations and winner of 4 Golden
      Globes among other awards? Why is it that this
      film set box-office records in its limited release
      in major cities and opened under protest in small
      towns all across the country? Why is it that film
      reviewers and critics have hailed this film as the
      "one movie connecting with the heart of America?"

      Moreover, what are some lessons from "Brokeback
      Mountain" for us as people of faith in the
      Presbyterian Church (USA)? I would like to
      suggest ten lessons. Unlike some of its most
      outspoken and virulent religious critics who
      comment on the film without seeing it, I read
      the book three times, saw the film three times
      as well.

      So, what lessons does "Brokeback Mountain" offer
      for the Presbyterian Church (USA) in particular
      and Christianity in general? I will suggest ten
      and I hope that you might add your own.

      1. "Love is a Force of Nature." The intriguing
      subtitle for the film reminds us that love is
      natural, that we are created to be in loving
      relationships with God, ourselves and others.
      Jesus teaches this ethic of relationships and
      love in Mark 12:28-31.

      2. Same-sex love is perfectly natural, and normal,
      for those persons who discover themselves falling
      in love with someone of the same sex, like Ennis
      and Jack. It is time for the Church to recognize
      that same-sex love and same-sex sex exists, it is
      natural and part of being created in the image of
      God just like being created heterosexual for those
      persons who fall in love with persons of the opposite
      sex.

      3. Homosexuality is about love, falling in love,
      being in love and wanting to be together, not
      different from heterosexuality. This is about
      integration of one's body, soul and life and sharing
      life deeply with another. Annie Proulx says of her
      story, "This is a deep, permanent human condition,
      this need to be loved and to love."

      4. The closet is not a place that offers life or hope,
      and the longer the Church insists that lesbian, gay,
      bisexual and transgender persons stay in the closet,
      not discover who they are and claim their creation in
      the image of God, the Church will be complicit in taking
      away life and hope. Jake Gyllenhaal who plays Jack
      Twist said of the story and the film: "A friendship?
      No, its not. It's a love story. They're two men
      having sex. There's nothing hidden." And, the closet
      truly never protects anyone, it only prolongs the
      isolation and opportunity for liberation.

      5. We do not need to fear same-sex love in ourselves,
      or LGBT persons in our families or church. Heath Ledger
      who plays Ennis del Mar has a theory about why the movie
      makes some men uncomfortable: "I suspect it's a fear
      that they are going to enjoy it. They don't understand
      that you are not going to become sexually attracted to
      men by recognizing the beauty of a love story between
      two men." At the Australian premiere of "Brokeback,"
      a reporter told Ledger that some religious groups were
      protesting the film in America and he responded, "that's
      immature." Persons who are secure in their sexuality
      and comfortable in their own skin offer acceptance and
      hospitality to others. Ledger is right, it is time for
      us to grow up as a Church and a country.

      6. Ex-gay ministry is bad theology and bad medicine.
      It is unnecessary, it does not work and it sadly too
      often leads to deadly results. After falling in love
      with each other, both Ennis and Jack obey the social
      and religious pressures of their day to be "heterosexual"
      marry women and become fathers. Neither marriage works,
      of course and everyone is hurt by Ennis and Jack not
      being allowed to be themselves and together. How many
      more lives, marriages and families will the PCUSA allow
      to be hurt and destroyed before it recognizes and
      embraces same-sex love and relationships?

      7. Body and soul are connected, flesh and spirit are
      inseparable. The story of Ennis and Jack painfully
      remind us that it is not possible for one to separate
      one's sexuality from one's behavior. For the Church
      to say that "it is [sort of, but not really] OK to be
      gay, but don't have sex" and to ask LGBT persons to
      split ourselves off from who we are and who we fall
      in love with to be part of the Church is not only
      illogical, it is cruel and un-Christian. It goes
      against everything we are taught by Jesus in the
      Gospel and the Biblical teachings of becoming whole
      persons.

      8. Times have changed, people are changing. People
      are much more open and ready to stretch, even embrace
      same-sex love and relationships than most of us are
      willing to accept, imagine, even dream of. Adam
      Robinson in a USA Today article entitled, "It's a
      date: 'Brokeback' romance draws couples," said, "Give
      us straight men some credit. Not all of us are
      homophobic and turned off by films that deal with
      relationships. We're not all 13-year old boys anymore."
      So, will the Church give people credit for being open-
      minded and open-hearted, or insist on old prejudices
      and discrmination against LGBT persons? We have a
      choice.

      9. Often called the "gay cowboy" movie, Director Ang
      Lee suggested that it was much more and of course it is.
      Upon receiving his Golden Globe award, Lee spoke of "the
      power of movies to change the way we are thinking." Too
      often we only see others through our prejudice. The old
      stereotypes melt away in what one film critic said of
      "Brokeback" by calling it a "groundbreaking, deeply felt,
      emotional love story that deals with the uncharted,
      mysterious ways of the human heart." As people of faith
      and Christians, we often speak of the place of mystery
      within our beliefs, creeds and faith traditions. The
      uncharted story of Ennis and Jack seems profoundly
      familiar and first-person to many of us, myself included.
      I see myself in both Ennis and Jack, and pray for a
      different ending to their story and the mystery of my
      own story.

      10. Brokeback Mountain was the only safe place for
      Ennis and Jack to be themselves, to be together, to
      express their love for one another, to be whole. It
      was sanctuary for them in every sense of the word.
      How often I wish that the Church would be sanctuary
      for all of God's children, not just some. Here's to
      the Presbyterian Church (USA) being sanctuary for all
      of God's children, including God's lesbian, gay,
      bisexual and transgender children sooner rather than
      later.

      Brokeback Mountain is up for 8 Academy Awards [this]
      evening at the 78th Academy Award Celebration in Los
      Angeles. You can bet I will be watching the show with
      a big box of popcorn and cheering on a film and a story
      that, as Director Ang Lee has said, "has the power to
      change the way we're thinking."

      And, more than what we are thinking, it is my prayer
      that it will be part of the change we seek in how we
      treat each other in the Church and world by seeing
      the sacred in one another, recognizing and blessing
      love wherever it is found, and in being God's family
      with no one excluded, where everyone is welcome and
      loved.

      with hope and grace,
      Michael Adee

      --------------------------------------------------

      2. Two Lenten Studies

      Lent began on Wednesday, March 1, away, and Chi Rho
      Press is very proud of our two books of Lenten devotions.
      Here is a brief description of each one.

      "'You Need Only To Be Still:' Using the Hebrew Scriptures
      to Journey Through Lent," by Randy Jedele. Spiral bound,
      5½" x 8½", 100 pages. A book of daily devotions for Lent,
      in which author Randy Jedele takes us on a journey through
      the Old Testament. A lay Christian Education minister in
      the United Church of Christ in Iowa, Randy Jedele has drawn
      on his strong Protestant and Congregationalist background
      to enliven the Hebrew Testament for us in new ways in these
      Lenten devotions. View it on our Web site at this link:
      http://www.chirhopress.com/products/product_details/BookRevYouNeedOnlyToBeStill.htm

      $10.95 each, six or more copies for $8.95 each, plus
      shipping and handling.

      *****

      Our first book of Lenten Meditations was "For
      Another Flock," written from a Gay Roman
      Catholic point of view. "For Another Flock: Rainbow
      Meditations and Study Guide for Lent," by Jeffrey Lea.
      ($10.95 each, $8.95 each for six or more copies, plus
      shipping and handling.) View it on our Web site at:
      http://www.chirhopress.com/products/product_details/BookRevForAnotherFlock.htm

      $10.95 each, $8.95 each for six or more copies,
      plus shipping and handling.

      --------------------------------------------------

      3. May We Suggest "Come Home"?

      "Come Home! Reclaiming Spirituality and Community as
      Gay Men and Lesbians," second edition, by Chris Glaser.
      First published in 1990 by HarperCollins, the second
      edition was published in 1998 by Chi Rho Press with
      the addition of five new chapters to the original 20.

      "Come Home!" is perhaps Chris Glaser's best book. It
      is divided into five sections, each with five chapters.
      The five sections are entitled, "Welcoming God's
      Acceptance," "Receiving Our Inheritance," "Discerning
      Our Call," "Making Our Witness," and "Declaring Our
      Vision."

      Bishop John Shelby Spong called "Come Home!" "powerful,
      sensitive, and provocative. . . . Glaser stands inside
      his own humanity as a gay male and hears the word of
      God through the Bible. Christians, gay and straight,
      need this book if we are to be the body of Christ."

      This is a brilliant and important book by perhaps the
      best-known Gay Christian writer in the U.S. today.

      The Rev. Carter Heyward called "Come Home!" "an
      enthusiastic compelling testimony to the power of
      faith in the lives of many gay and lesbian Christians."

      Virginia Ramey Mollenkott said, "If courage, honesty,
      and insight are beautiful, then this is one beautiful
      book. . . . I rejoice that in this book all the gay
      men and lesbian women who have been robbed of their
      spirituality are issued an urgent invitation: Come
      home!"

      "Come Home!" by Chris Glaser offers a vision of faith,
      hope, and affirmation inviting gay men and lesbians to
      come home to their spirituality through Christian faith
      and community. Order your copy today!

      "Come Home!" is available for $19.95 each, $14.95 each
      for six or more copies, plus shipping and handling.
      http://www.chirhopress.com/products/product_details/BookRevComeHome.html

      --------------------------------------------------

      4. Modern Proverbs (Tongue in Cheek)

      *** Never be afraid to try something new. Remember,
      amateurs built the ark. Professionals built the Titanic.

      *** Conscience is what hurts when everything else feels
      so good.

      *** Even if you are on the right track, you'll get run
      over if you just sit there.

      *** Politicians and diapers have two things in common.
      They should both be changed regularly and for the same
      reason.

      *** An optimist thinks that this is the best possible
      world. A pessimist fears that this is true.

      *** Indecision is the key to flexibility.

      *** It hurts to be on the cutting edge.

      *** I am a nutritional overachiever

      *** I am in shape. Round is a shape.

      *** A day without sunshine is like night.

      *** I have kleptomania, and when it gets bad, I take
      something for it.

      *** The real art of conversation is not only to say
      the right thing at the right time, but also to leave
      unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment.

      *** Age doesn't always bring wisdom. Sometimes age
      comes alone.

      *** You don't stop laughing because you grow old,
      you grow old because you stopped laughing.

      --------------------------------------------------

      5. "Christian with a Twist"

      Here is a selection from our second major book of
      reflections, "Christian with a Twist: Reflections
      on Scripture that are a bit more inclusive, a bit
      more relevant, and with a bit of a bite," by the
      late William Gaston.

      "Christian with a Twist" is available for $19.95 each,
      $14.95 each for six or more copies, plus shipping and
      handling. You can read more about it and order it at
      http://www.chirhopress.com/products/product_details/BookRevChristianWithATwist.htm

      As the subtitle suggests, Bill's writing has a bit
      of a bite, and we believe you will enjoy his sharp,
      but loving take on Scripture, life, and faith.

      Here is a selection entitled "Checking or Savings?"
      from the Lenten section of "Christian with a Twist."

      Please read Matthew 6:1, 3, 5, 19-21

      Is Jesus trying to take all the fun out of doing good?
      To my mind Jesus is not so much forbidding our pleasures
      as he is just telling us like it is. He is saying you
      can do things one way and get immediate pleasure, and
      that is not necessarily bad. Or you can do it another
      way without instant gratification and prepare yourself
      for a better tomorrow.

      We worship in a beautiful church building that costs a
      pretty penny to operate. If we can afford to give our
      share to cover the expenses there is nothing wrong with
      feeling good about it. Giving more so that those who
      cannot give very much can none-the-less feel welcome is
      also good. Many of us give by check, keep an accounting,
      and take a tax deduction in April. Jesus would not
      condemn that.

      But Saint Peter will not be looking over our tax returns
      when he assigns us our cloud in heaven. What will be
      felt for eternity is the private joy we had in giving,
      maybe to our church, maybe to another church, maybe to
      a need that nobody else noticed.

      We do a lot of praying out loud here in church. Each
      Sunday several step up to the microphone to do that and
      several more open their arms in front of the church to
      those in need after the sermon. God notices and God is
      pleased, but it is the ways that these spoken prayers
      touch hearts and inspire private prayer that lives in
      heaven.

      There is also nothing wrong with enjoying the creature
      comforts of life. I expect Jesus would not mind staying
      in my apartment and riding in my Subaru if he were to
      visit Washington in the flesh. It is very likely if he
      came to do a revival weekend at MCC, someone would offer
      him a private room and bath in their larger home so he
      would not have to deal with my sofa bed.

      It is good to live well and give well. But we must not
      do either as if our lives depend on the details or amounts.
      Spend generously for yourself and others. Just be sure
      that the deductions in your checkbook bring memories and
      not regrets. And do not put too much stake in the
      deposits. You do not want God to have to pry your bank
      statements out of your hands when it is time to go.
      Actually God will not, but somebody else might. Be
      sure they do not break your heart in the process.

      http://www.chirhopress.com/products/product_details/BookRevChristianWithATwist.htm

      --------------------------------------------------

      6. Sanctoral Cycle

      As a regular feature in the Chi Rho Connection, we
      are offering up traditional saints listed in the 2006
      Liturgical Calendar and Lectionary from today until
      our next scheduled electronic newsletter.

      *****

      Sat., March 4, St. Casimir of Poland (Patron saint:
      bachelors). Praise of Mary: St. Casimir was the second
      son of Casimir IV, king of Poland. He grew up in an
      atmosphere of luxury, however the young prince turned
      his back on all of it to dedicate himself to the charity
      of the poor and afflicted. He had a special love and
      devotion to the Virgin Mary and his love for her was
      expressed as a hymn, "Daily, daily sing to Mary."

      Sun., March 5, St. John Joseph of the Cross. Sympathy:
      Sympathy consists of realizing the suffering of others
      as our own. St. John Joseph teaches us that to do this
      we have to put aside our own feeling for the love of
      Christ. St. John Joseph was often not content to
      relive the sufferings of others but at times took them
      upon himself.

      Mon., March 6, Sts. Perpetua and Felicity (Patron
      saints: barren women). Strength in weakness: God
      puts the example of women before us so that we can
      learn courage. God calls upon us to endure suffering
      of body and mind, if necessary, to prove our
      faithfulness to God. But God promises to uphold us
      by God's strength, light, and divine encouragement.
      "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made
      perfect in weakness" (2 Corinthians 12:9).

      Tues., March 7, St. Thomas Aquinas (Patron saint:
      publishers). Chastity: "I don't understand how a
      man can ever smile if he is in a state of mortal sin,"
      St. Thomas Aquinas. A story tells that when St. Thomas
      was confined at Rocca Secca, his brothers tried to entrap
      him by sending a woman to his cell. He picked up a
      burning brand from the hearth and chased her out. He
      dreamed that night that two angels had girded him with
      a cord, a token of the gift of perpetual chastity. The
      Confraternity of Angelic Warfare still wear the cords
      under their clothing for the preservation of their
      chastity.

      Wed., March 8, St. John of God (Patron saint: book sellers,
      fire fighters, heart patients). The rewards of charity:
      God rewards us for works that are pleasing in God's sight
      by giving us grace and opportunity to do yet better. St.
      John of God attributed his conversion and the grace that
      enabled him to do so much to what he had done in his prior
      life helping Christian slaves in Africa. "I have never
      seen a compassionate and charitable [person] die a bad
      death," St. Augustine.

      Thurs., March 9, St. Gregory of Nyssa. Hope in the worst
      of times: Learn from St. Gregory to stand up earnestly
      and humbly for the truth, and to leave the rest to God,
      in whose hand the gift of faith resides. "I wash my
      hands in innocence, and go about your altar, O Lord,
      proclaiming aloud your praise and telling of all your
      wonderful deeds" (Psalm 26:6-7).

      Fri., March 10, The Forty Martyrs. Strength in numbers:
      All of us that live in the grace of Christ are one.
      Thank God for binding you to others by spiritual ties
      and pray that the bond that unites you here may last
      for eternity. "Friendship which is broken by death is
      no true friendship," St. Ambrose. "An offended brother
      is more unyielding than a fortified city and disputes
      are like the barred gates of a citadel" (Proverbs 18:19).

      Sat., March 11, St. Andrew Corsini. Repentance: St.
      Andrew is a prime example of a true penitent: one who
      trusts firmly in God's forgiveness but never forgives
      himself. "Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to
      salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings
      death" (2 Corinthians 7:10).

      Sun., March 12, St. Gregory I. Conversions: "Restore
      us to yourself, O Lord, that we may return; renew our
      days as of old unless you have utterly rejected us and
      are angry with us beyond measure" (Lamentations 5:21-22).

      Mon., March 13, St. Isidore of Skete. Mind yourself:
      St. Isidore teaches us to avoid opportunities to go
      astray; not only situations that may cause great danger,
      but also any that may give rise to anger, vanity,
      excessive pride and arrogance, or any other passions.
      "The enemy of our souls in his malice does all he can
      do to induce us to sin; let us on our part do all that
      we ought to do. Have recourse to prayer, and the enemy
      will be put to flight. It is by thinking of God that
      we gain the victory," St. Isidore.

      Tues., March 14, St. Fructuosus. Perseverance in prayer:
      Often we lose the joy of the Holy Spirit when we need it
      the most: during our times of trial and hardship. We
      lose the Holy Spirit because we do not pray. Jesus
      teaches us to pray always if we are to get the strength
      we need against our spiritual enemies and that we should
      be ready to meet those enemies with a spirit of confidence
      in the victory.

      Wed., March 15, St. Louise de Marillac (Patron saint:
      social workers). Our brother's keeper: "As for your
      conduct toward the poor, may you never take the attitude
      of merely getting the task done. You must show them
      affection; serving them from the heart inquiring of
      them what they need; speaking to them gently and
      compassionately; procuring necessary help for them
      without being too bothersome or too eager," St. Louise
      de Marillac.

      Thurs., March 16, St. Julian of Antioch. The good
      example: We are all blessings to someone else in
      spite of ourselves! "The heavens declare God's glory,
      not because their voice is heard, but because the very
      sight of them leads us to praise their Creator," St.
      John Chrysostom.

      Fri., March 17, St. Patrick (Patron saint: engineers).
      Zeal: The United States owes much of the Christianity
      found here to the faith and zeal of the sons and
      daughters of St. Patrick, the Irish. St. Patrick's
      life was one of prayer and penance, his humbleness
      increasing as he grew older. "Your faith is confirmed,
      not only in the hearts of people, but before their eyes.
      Heaven bears witness to it and earth likewise, the
      angels in glory and the lost in Hell," St. Augustine.

      Sat., March 18, St. Cyril of Jerusalem. Trust in the
      Word of God: "As a stout staff supports the trembling
      limbs of a feeble old man, so faith sustains our
      vacillating mind, lest it be tossed about by sinful
      hesitation and perplexity," St. John Chrysostom.
      "Long ago I learned from your statutes that you
      established them to last forever" (Psalm 119:152).

      *****

      Order the 2005-2006 Liturgical Calendar and Lectionary,
      complete with the entire year's Sanctoral Cycle, at
      this link:
      http://www.chirhopress.com/products/product_details/BookRevLiturgicalCa05_06.html

      --------------------------------------------------

      7. Adam's Last Word

      The 2005-2006 Liturgical Calendar and Lectionary, Year
      B is available on the Chi Rho Press Web site. You may
      view it and order it at this link:
      http://www.chirhopress.com/products/product_details/BookRevLiturgicalCa05_06.html

      The 2005-2006 Liturgical Calendar and Lectionary sells
      for 11.95 each, $9.50 each for six or more copies, plus
      shipping and handling.

      *****

      I will be at Chris’ Steakhouse, in Old Town Gaithersburg,
      Maryland this evening to watch the Oscars with openly
      Gay owner Keith Gross and his partner Ben Cavanaugh.
      We expect a bunch of other people as well. Check out
      their Web site, by the way, at www.hotbeercoldfood.com.
      And if you are in the area, let me know and maybe we can
      have dinner there! Tell your server you qualify for the
      10% family discount.

      *****

      Please check out the Chi Rho Cards! Our line of
      greeting cards, by the talented New York artist Timothy
      Leetch, are now available. See the descriptions of the
      cards on our Web site at:
      http://www.chirhopress.com/products/cards.html.

      Order some cards today!

      *****

      Gracia y paz,

      R. Adam DeBaugh, Director, Adam@....

      ******************************************

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