Friday, August 22, 2008

Radical Reference

I finally joined Radical Reference.

From their website:

"…librarians are more freedom fighters than shushers."

--Carla Hayden, Ms. Magazine online

Mission Statement: Radical Reference is a collective of volunteer library workers who believe in social justice and equality. We support activist communities, progressive organizations, and independent journalists by providing professional research support, education and access to information. We work in a collaborative virtual setting and are dedicated to information activism to foster a more egalitarian society.

Radical reference originated as a service provided by volunteer library workers from all over the United States to assist demonstrators and activists at the convergence surrounding the Republican National Convention in New York City August 29-September 2, 2004.

Basically, if you have a question, a librarian will find you the answer!

How great a ministry is that? Librarians from across the country coming together for social change. So go ahead, post away!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Somewhat Final Thoughts


Over the past week and a half I've been trying to get my mind around my thoughts and feelings. I had a very good time, mind you. Draining, but good, but I still left with an overarching feeling of disappointment.

Don't ask me what I was expecting, because I really don't know. I suppose in my mind I realised that what happened was all I really expected to happen. I suppose what I didn't expect was just how much of a minority position inclusivness is. I had to wonder, if all of the bishops who were for the full inclusion of all of God's children into all sacraments of the church - regardless of whether or not there was a scriptural justification for it (the church is good at working on those later), if all those bishops took a vote - I wonder then, what we would find. That would, of course, till leave out people who are exclusive because of the "ick" factor - the "having sex with someone of the same sex is icky" factor (real mature, right?).

I also have no patience for bishops who won't take the Eucharist with people they disagree with or because they disagree with the celebrant over some issue. We are Anglicans, not Donatists. That is simply bad theology and there is no excuse for that.

But truly, while in the stewards programme most of the young adults didn't seem to feel that LGBT stuff was a "core doctrinal" issue, many were still against it, for scriptural reasons. This brought me to another disappointment: that the reasserters and the reappraisers aren't talking to each other - they are talking past each other - about very different things.

Many reappraisers are over the scriptural issues, so they don't realise how many of the reasserters, or even moderates are still caught in them. Upon mentioning the importance of using scriptural references for inclusion - or at least explaining why the reasserters usage of scripture is inaccurate, a reappraiser priest said to me "well they already know that, we've told them that."

Well actually, no, they don't, and no, we haven't.

Religion, and Christianity, and Church and being Anglican, means very different things to different people.

I'll admit, to me, on the most basic level, they all represent unconditional love. This does not mean condoning all sorts of behaviour - especially when we fall short of behaviour that shows love and kindness to others. Yes, of course it isn't that simple, Christianity isn't that simple, but I do believe that that is where I begin.

So I suppose that I'm proud to be part of a vibrant, living communion with people striving to live Christ's love the best they can, I'm also a bit disappointed that in many ways the Anglican Communion isn't what I thought it was. That people aren't doing what they said they would do - that a true variety of opinions aren't being heard where they need too, and that people are so wrapped up in their hurt that we can't move on or feel each others pain.

I keep trying to sound uplifted when I talk about Lambeth and it isn't that I'm not grateful for the opportunity -I am, but - I've been trying to sound uplifted since about two weeks into the trip, but in all truthfulness, my confession is that in many ways it feels more like a burden.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Article for General Parish Newsletter

Reflections of a Lambeth Steward
By Allie Graham

Having spent the past month across the pond, I can say it's good be home! But in a way it often felt like I was home the entire time. For the past four weeks I've had the honor of serving as a Steward at the Lambeth Conference – the decennial conference of all the bishops in the Anglican Communion – at the University of Kent in Canterbury, England.

As a brief background, the Anglican Communion is made up of 39 provinces, which are basically national churches, of which we – The Episcopal Church, USA – are a part. All of these national churches are descended in some way from the Church of England, and are all united through “bonds of affection.”

Bishops and spouses from all across the communion gathered to discuss and grow in their ministries and faith as well as to discuss issues facing the church and the world. We as stewards were there to provide support, security, facilitate events when necessary, answer questions, move objects, and to generally be there for the conference organizers. The stewards were Anglicans between the ages of 19 and 35 from 18 different countries spread over six continents. Between all of us we spoke 30 different languages not including Hebrew, Latin, and Ancient Greek. There were eight Americans, each from a different diocese who brought very different viewpoints and experiences to the conference.

While the media, who were restricted in where they were allowed, generally portrayed the conference as something that was either negative or futile, as someone who was in allowed in almost all of the venues and sessions, I would have to say that it was a very positive event. While the hope of many Americans and Canadians – the full inclusion of all of God's children into all orders and sacraments of the church – was not gained, there were steps forward. For a communion that many in the media claim is “broken,” all of the stewards heard bishops saying to each other:
“I like you, I'm drawn to you, I see God in you, but I disagree with you strongly, and I don't know what to do with this information.”

This was an accomplishment.

This however might not be where many of us in the west wish we were, but it is a far better place than we were before hand. Much else was discussed as well-- poverty, the environment, improving ministry, the role of a bishop, and young adult issues were only some of the issues covered.

But more importantly, we were Anglicans, celebrating our faith and history together, were worshipping together, eating together, and meeting the queen together. Yes, really. Well, not all of us met Her Majesty, but we all got within a few feet of her during the garden party at Buckingham Palace. Prime Minister Gordon Brown also dropped by our lunch at Lambeth Palace in London to give one of the most dynamic speeches of his time as PM.

I had the opportunity to hang out with both of our bishops and their spouses (+George and Ruth Councell and +Sylvester and Eva Romero) as well as with the Archbishop of Canterbury and his wife Jane. After the conference, Archbishop Rowan actually joined the stewards for almost all of a two day retreat! I was actually able to sit across from him at lunch, and we all had some fun conversations.

For whatever the press reported, the Lambeth Conference – though weakened that there were some could not or did not attend, helped to strengthen the bonds of affection within the communion, and at the very least, left the status quo and provided a wonderful time for worship, fellowship, photo-ops, and growing in God's love.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Back in the USA

I am back in the USA