Likeness or notions?

It is time that Christians were judged more by their likeness to Christ than their notions of Christ.
- Lucretia Mott,
Quaker abolitionist and women's rights advocate (1793-1880)
as quoted on God's Politics

Schoolboy Howlers 22

If you cross XY and XX chromosomes, you get XX (female), YY (male) and XY (undecided).

Missionskyrkan has a change of heart

On November 30, I wrote that the
central board [of the Svenska Missionskyrkan ("Swedish Mission Church")] decided 21.11.09 to allow, but not to force, pastors to perform same-sex marriages, starting March 2010, by which time an Order of Service will have been developed.
After taking a lot of flak, the central board rescinds their decision, debates it again in February and takes it to the Church Conference in May 2010. Hopefully, this means that the decision will have a broader base - but it might, of course, also be voted down. We'll have to wait and see.
Dagen reported on this new development 12.12.09.

A new secessionary bishop in Sweden

Arne Olsson, the bishop of the so-called Mission Province whom bishop Walter Obare from Kenya consecrated in 2005, turns 80 in 2010 and steps down from his episcopate. In his place, the ever meddlesome Obare will consecrate Roland Gustafsson, 57, who up till now has worked as a missionary in Kenya, mainly teaching at the seminary of the ELCK.
Gustafsson is not an ordained pastor as yet, so he will be ordained on January 16, 2010, awaiting his consecration on March 20.
God bless him and the Mission Province. It is good that there is an alternative for those conservative members of the CofS and the ELCF that feel as if their space is shrinking.
As well they might feel, since it no longer are the misogynistic and homophobic fundamentalists who call the shots in the large Lutheran churches in Sweden or Finland. I don't bear them ill will. I just don't really want them around.
Gustafsson vald till ny biskop i Missionsprovinsen (Kyrkans Tidning 30.11.09)
Missionsprovinsen fick biskop efter tufft förhör (Dagen 1.12.09)

Loldog marine

About dogs and people

Women and cats will do as they please, and men and dogs should relax and get used to the idea.
- Robert A. Heinlein
as quoted by the Episcopal padre

Hammarskjöld on leadership

Your position never gives you the right to command. It only imposes on you the duty of so living your life that others may receive your orders without being humiliated.
Dag Hammarskjöld
as quoted on the blog Child of Illusion

Another Swedish church introduces same-sex marriages

On October 22, the (Lutheran) Church of Sweden, the country's ex-State Church, decided to start implementing a gender neutral view on marriage as quickly as November 1st. I blogged about it at the time.
Now, one of the largest Free Churches in Sweden, the Svenska Missionskyrkan ("Swedish Mission Church") has taken a similar decision. Their central board decided 21.11.09 to allow, but not to force, pastors to perform same-sex marriages, starting March 2010, by which time an Order of Service will have been developed. The central board was not unanimous; the decision was taken by 11 votes to 5.
The Svenska Missionskyrkan is in the process of uniting with two other Free Churches, the Baptists and the Methodists, in about two years' time. The Baptists, too, are discussing same-sex marriage, and at the moment the trend seems to be that the local congregations will be given the right to do as they please.
Samkönade vigslar möjligt i Missionskyrkan från 1 mars (Sändaren 21.11.09)
Missionskyrkan öppnar för homovigslar (Dagen 21.11.09)
Missionskyrkan avgör samkönat lokalt (Norrländska Socialdemokraten 21.11.09)
Missionsförsamling får avgöra vigselfråga (Sveriges Radio 21.11.09)
Samkönade vigslar lokal fråga (Sveriges Radio 22.11.09)
Gävlepastor tvekar om samkönade äktenskap (Arbetarbladet 22.11.09)

Gandhi on Christ and Christians

I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. They are so unlike your Christ.
- Mahatma Gandhi
as quoted on Child of Illusion

That's bad!

Except that one where you're naked in church.
Thanks to Wounded Bird!

Kenyan Lutheran bishop rebukes Swedish church on lesbian bishop

Nairobi (ENI 16.11.09). The executive committee of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Kenya has expressed shock, dismay and disappointment at the consecration of the Rev. Eva Brunne, a lesbian who lives with her partner, as a bishop in the Church of Sweden.
"We condemn in the strongest terms possible this unfortunate and anti-scriptural development in a church body that bears the name of the great reformer, Dr Martin Luther," said Archbishop Walter Obare, the leader of the ELCK in a statement on 13 November, after the church's executive committee meeting in Nairobi.
Geneva (ENI 17.11.09). Church of Sweden Archbishop Anders Wejryd triggered outrage from a Lutheran church in Africa when he ordained an openly lesbian woman as bishop of Stockholm on 8 November. The archbishop asserts, however, that neither his church nor his country supports promiscuity, but that Sweden is a "surprisingly moral society". He said the Swedish church encourages faithful and stable relationships between people whatever their sexual orientation may be.
Comment: Bishop Obare is, once again, meddling in the affairs of the Church of Sweden. I wonder who put him up to it this time.
By the way, Wejryd is an Archbishop, but Obare's title is "Presiding Bishop". If you want to be exact. And why wouldn't you?
On a different note, there was another bishop consecrated on the same day (8.11.09) as bishop Brunne of Stockholm. Bishop Tuulikki Koivunen Bylund of Härnösand (northern Sweden) was born in Finland but moved to Sweden in order to be able to be ordained, as the ELCF didn't ordain women at the time. The ELCF still hasn't any female bishops, so bishop Koivunen Bylund is the first Finnish woman to become a bishop. Which is quite as historical as bishop Brunne's being the first lesbian to reach that august position.

The Navajo about waking

You can't wake a person who is pretending to be asleep.
- Navajo proverb
as quoted by Mad Hare

Bishop Spong's Manifesto

Bishop John Shelby Spong:
A Manifesto! The Time Has Come!
I have made a decision. I will no longer debate the issue of homosexuality in the church with anyone. I will no longer engage the biblical ignorance that emanates from so many right-wing Christians about how the Bible condemns homosexuality, as if that point of view still has any credibility. I will no longer discuss with them or listen to them tell me how homosexuality is "an abomination to God," about how homosexuality is a "chosen lifestyle," or about how through prayer and "spiritual counseling" homosexual persons can be "cured." Those arguments are no longer worthy of my time or energy. I will no longer dignify by listening to the thoughts of those who advocate "reparative therapy," as if homosexual persons are somehow broken and need to be repaired. I will no longer talk to those who believe that the unity of the church can or should be achieved by rejecting the presence of, or at least at the expense of, gay and lesbian people. I will no longer take the time to refute the unlearned and undocumentable claims of certain world religious leaders who call homosexuality "deviant."
I will no longer listen to that pious sentimentality that certain Christian leaders continue to employ, which suggests some version of that strange and overtly dishonest phrase that "we love the sinner but hate the sin." That statement is, I have concluded, nothing more than a self-serving lie designed to cover the fact that these people hate homosexual persons and fear homosexuality itself, but somehow know that hatred is incompatible with the Christ they claim to profess, so they adopt this face-saving and absolutely false statement.
I will no longer temper my understanding of truth in order to pretend that I have even a tiny smidgen of respect for the appalling negativity that continues to emanate from religious circles where the church has for centuries conveniently perfumed its ongoing prejudices against blacks, Jews, women and homosexual persons with what it assumes is "high-sounding, pious rhetoric." The day for that mentality has quite simply come to an end for me. I will personally neither tolerate it nor listen to it any longer. The world has moved on, leaving these elements of the Christian Church that cannot adjust to new knowledge or a new consciousness lost in a sea of their own irrelevance. They no longer talk to anyone but themselves.
I will no longer seek to slow down the witness to inclusiveness by pretending that there is some middle ground between prejudice and oppression. There isn't. Justice postponed is justice denied. That can be a resting place no longer for anyone. An old civil rights song proclaimed that the only choice awaiting those who cannot adjust to a new understanding was to "Roll on over or we'll roll on over you!" Time waits for no one.
I will particularly ignore those members of my own Episcopal Church who seek to break away from this body to form a "new church," claiming that this new and bigoted instrument alone now represents the Anglican Communion. Such a new ecclesiastical body is designed to allow these pathetic human beings, who are so deeply locked into a world that no longer exists, to form a community in which they can continue to hate gay people, distort gay people with their hopeless rhetoric and to be part of a religious fellowship in which they can continue to feel justified in their homophobic prejudices for the rest of their tortured lives. Church unity can never be a virtue that is preserved by allowing injustice, oppression and psychological tyranny to go unchallenged.
In my personal life, I will no longer listen to televised debates conducted by "fair-minded" channels that seek to give "both sides" of this issue "equal time." I am aware that these stations no longer give equal time to the advocates of treating women as if they are the property of men or to the advocates of reinstating either segregation or slavery, despite the fact that when these evil institutions were coming to an end the Bible was still being quoted frequently on each of these subjects. It is time for the media to announce that there are no longer two sides to the issue of full humanity for gay and lesbian people. There is no way that justice for homosexual people can be compromised any longer.
I will no longer act as if the Papal office is to be respected if the present occupant of that office is either not willing or not able to inform and educate himself on public issues on which he dares to speak with embarrassing ineptitude.
I will no longer be respectful of the leadership of the Archbishop of Canterbury, who seems to believe that rude behavior, intolerance and even killing prejudice is somehow acceptable, so long as it comes from third-world religious leaders, who more than anything else reveal in themselves the price that colonial oppression has required of the minds and hearts of so many of our world's population.
I see no way that ignorance and truth can be placed side by side, nor do I believe that evil is somehow less evil if the Bible is quoted to justify it. I will dismiss as unworthy of any more of my attention the wild, false and uninformed opinions of such would-be religious leaders as Pat Robertson, James Dobson, Jerry Falwell, Jimmy Swaggart, Albert Mohler, and Robert Duncan. My country and my church have both already spent too much time, energy and money trying to accommodate these backward points of view when they are no longer even tolerable.
I make these statements because it is time to move on. The battle is over. The victory has been won.
There is no reasonable doubt as to what the final outcome of this struggle will be.
· Homosexual people will be accepted as equal, full human beings, who have a legitimate claim on every right that both church and society have to offer any of us.
· Homosexual marriages will become legal, recognized by the state and pronounced holy by the church.
· "Don't ask, don't tell" will be dismantled as the policy of our armed forces.
We will and we must learn that equality of citizenship is not something that should ever be submitted to a referendum. Equality under and before the law is a solemn promise conveyed to all our citizens in the Constitution itself. Can any of us imagine having a public referendum on whether slavery should continue, whether segregation should be dismantled, whether voting privileges should be offered to women?
The time has come for politicians to stop hiding behind unjust laws that they themselves helped to enact, and to abandon that convenient shield of demanding a vote on the rights of full citizenship because they do not understand the difference between a constitutional democracy, which this nation has, and a "mobocracy," which this nation rejected when it adopted its constitution. We do not put the civil rights of a minority to the vote of a plebiscite.
I will also no longer act as if I need a majority vote of some ecclesiastical body in order to bless, ordain, recognize and celebrate the lives and gifts of gay and lesbian people in the life of the church. No one should ever again be forced to submit the privilege of citizenship in this nation or membership in the Christian Church to the will of a majority vote.
The battle in both our culture and our church to rid our souls of this dying prejudice is finished. A new consciousness has arisen. A decision has quite clearly been made. Inequality for gay and lesbian people is no longer a debatable issue in either church or state. Therefore, I will from this moment on refuse to dignify the continued public expression of ignorant prejudice by engaging it. I do not tolerate racism or sexism any longer. From this moment on, I will no longer tolerate our culture's various forms of homophobia. I do not care who it is who articulates these attitudes or who tries to make them sound holy with religious jargon.
I have been part of this debate for years, but things do get settled and this issue is now settled for me. I do not debate any longer with members of the "Flat Earth Society" either. I do not debate with people who think we should treat epilepsy by casting demons out of the epileptic person; I do not waste time engaging those medical opinions that suggest that bleeding the patient might release the infection. I do not converse with people who think that Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans as punishment for the sin of being the birthplace of Ellen DeGeneres or that the terrorists hit the United Sates on 9/11 because we tolerated homosexual people, abortions, feminism or the American Civil Liberties Union.
I am tired of being embarrassed by so much of my church's participation in causes that are quite unworthy of the Christ I serve or the God whose mystery and wonder I appreciate more each day. Indeed I feel the Christian Church should not only apologize, but do public penance for the way we have treated people of color, women, adherents of other religions and those we designated heretics, as well as gay and lesbian people.
Life moves on. As the poet James Russell Lowell once put it more than a century ago: "New occasions teach new duties, Time makes ancient good uncouth." I am ready now to claim the victory. I will from now on assume it and live into it. I am unwilling to argue about it or to discuss it as if there are two equally valid, competing positions any longer. The day for that mentality has simply gone forever.
This is my manifesto and my creed. I proclaim it today. I invite others to join me in this public declaration. I believe that such a public outpouring will help cleanse both the church and this nation of its own distorting past. It will restore integrity and honor to both church and state. It will signal that a new day has dawned and we are ready not just to embrace it, but also to rejoice in it and to celebrate it.

- John Shelby Spong

To test a man's character

Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power.
- Abraham Lincoln (1809-65)
as quoted on Musings of Episcopal padre

King on thinking

Rarely do we find men who willingly engage in hard, solid thinking. There is an almost universal quest for easy answers and half-baked solutions. Nothing pains some people more than having to think.
- Martin Luther King Jr.

Gallup on same-sex marriages in Finland

The Finnish weekly newspaper Sunnuntaisuomalainen had Taloustutkimus do a survey asking,
The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Sweden is going to start marrying same-sex couples. Do you think the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland should marry homosexual couples?
The survey was made in late October. 1.003 Finns over 15 years of age from the whole country except the Åland Islands were interviewed.
The results, published here, show that 44% are positive and 39% negative to same-sex marriages within the ELCF. The number of positive answers are higher in the south (i.e., the big cities), among people with higher education, women and young people, and among people who voted Green, Left or Swedish in the last general elections.
One interesting statistic was left out, since church membership wasn't recorded. The questions were put to the whole population, not just church members. This is, however, more of a principle than a practical problem, since about 81% of the population belong to the ELCF.
Archbishop Jukka Paarma (who is retiring next year) is surprised by the high number of positive answers (and so am I, a little), but he affirms that the ELCF won't even discuss the matter if the State doesn't pass a gender neutral marriage law. One such law is, however, being prepared.

The Church of Sweden will perform same-sex weddings

The (Lutheran) Church of Sweden decided yesterday, 22.10.09, to allow same-sex weddings to be performed within the Church, starting as (surprisingly) early as November. The decision does not mean, however, that pastors that are consciencous objectors are forced to perform such weddings against their beliefs.
This decision has, not unexpectedly, kindled much critizism both from within and from without. Catholic and Orthodox groups have expressed their "sadness" in a joint statement, and the (Anglican) Church of England is worried about what this will do to the Porvoo Communion.
They are, of course, entitled to their opinions. This is, however, just that - a difference of opinion. There are many others that have been overcome or are ignored - sacraments, priesthood, apostolic succession, the role of the Bible and of tradition, the institution of the Pope, the roles of the Virgin Mary and the other saints etc. This one - the embracement, acceptance, non-acceptance or damnation of non-heterosexuals - is cumbersome because it is new, nothing more.
I welcome the Swedes' decision!
Ja till samkönade äktenskap (Kyrkpressen 22.10.09)
Svenska kyrkan godkände vigsel för par av samma kön (Kyrklig tidningstjänst 22.10.09)
Samaa sukupuolta olevien parien kirkollinen vihkiminen hyväksyttiin Ruotsissa (Kirkon tiedotuskeskus 22.10.09)
Sweden allows gay couples to marry in church (PinkNews 22.10.09)
Wejryd: Inga präster ska tvingas att viga (Dagen 23.10.09)
Homoäktenskap i Kyrkan #1: Länkar (Antigayretorik 23.10.09)
Homoäktenskap i Kyrkan #2: I väntan på katastrofen (Antigayretorik 23.10.09)
Homoäktenskap i Kyrkan #3: Varför splittring just nu? (Antigayretorik 23.10.09)
Katolsk-ortodox reaktion på svenska kyrkans beslut (Charlotte Therese 23.10.09)

King: "Injustice anywhere ..."

I am cognizant of the interrelatedness of all communities and states ... Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly.
- Martin Luther King Jr.,
from his "Letter from a Birmingham Jail"

To Parliament!

After repeated suggestions and long thought, I've decided: I'm running for Parliament in 2011! I'm trying to be nominated on the list of the Swedish People's Party in the Uusimaa constituency.
If you would care to support my candidacy publically, morally, or financially, please see my political homepage (mostly in Swedish and Finnish) or contact me. Thank you!

"An unholy disorder"

I don't know about you, but I practice a disorganized religion. I belong to an unholy disorder.
- Kurt Vonnegut (1922-2007)
as quoted by MadPriest

Twee Vaders

This is a catchy tune. You'll be singing it all day. And if you don't like the idea of a boy loving both his fathers and saying so, don't listen...

Thank you, Uffe, for sending this to me!

Lolcat innocence

Two pots

Some time ago, I found this story on Charlotte Therese's blog. Thank you for sharing it with us!
An elderly Chinese woman had two large pots, each hung on the ends of a pole which she carried across her neck. One of the pots had a crack in it while the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water.
At the end of the long walk from the stream to the house, the cracked pot arrived only half full. For a full two years this went on daily, with the woman bringing home only one and a half pots of water.
Of course, the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments. But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection, and miserable that it could only do half of what it had been made to do.

After two years of what it perceived to be bitter failure, it spoke to the woman one day by the stream. "I am ashamed of myself, because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your house."
The old woman smiled, "Did you notice that there are flowers on your side of the path, but not on the other pot's side? That's because I have always known about your flaw, so I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back, you water them. For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate the table. Without you being just the way you are, there would not be this beauty to grace the house."

Each of us has our own unique flaw.

Value the teachers!

There is an old slogan that goes: "Those who can, do. Those who can't, teach."
This is, of course, false on the face of it. To be able to teach, you don't only have to "can", you have also to be able to teach "can". That's two abilities, not just the one that narrow experts have.
The teachers do an incredible job. We should value them more!
Child of Illusion has a picture of a good new slogan that someone put on a t-shirt. Pop over and take a look!

Danny Kaye on life

Life is a great big canvas; throw all the paint on it you can.
- Danny Kaye
as quoted on Bailey's Buddy

Sweden: Many "No":s to same-sex weddings in church

The Swedish Pentecostal newspaper Dagen ("The Day") has made a survey of what the different religions and denominations will do with same-sex couples coming to them, asking to be married. Not surprisingly, most didn't want to perform such a ceremony. The by far largest denomination in the country, the (Lutheran) Church of Sweden, is, however, positive to this development. And then there is the third group, who haven't made their minds up yet.
The list of the different religious groups can be found here in Swedish, but to mention some:
The Church of Sweden
The Jews
The Quakers
The Roman Catholic Church
The different Orthodox churches
The free churches, including e.g. Pentecostals, Seventh-Day Adventist, Methodists, the Salvation Army and some Lutheran organisations
The Moslems
The Mormons
The Jehovah's Witnesses
The Scientology Church
Some Lutheran organisations
There is also the question what to do with consciencious objectors, i.e. pastors who refuse to marry same-sex couples.
In many of the above religious groups, there is an ongoing discussion about the right to perform marriages - should our church retain that right or give it up? Does the right to perform marriages include an obligation for the individual pastor to do so? Should the right to perform marriages no longer be a question for a whole denomination, but rather given individually to those pastors who have no objections to marrying anyone that the state deems worthy? These questions are far from being solved.

You know that your dog has trained you well when ...

... you have a picture of your dog in your wallet, but not one of your kids.

A beautiful priest for our wedding, please!

Many happy couples want their wedding to be beautiful. Brides spend hours at the beauty parlor and at the florists, and much effort is put into choosing the right gown. The church and the venue for the wedding feast are chosen most carefully. Bridegrooms have even been known to shower and shave before the ceremony!
Here in Finland, the demand has now arisen that we priests should be beautiful, as well - or at least, not downright ugly. Couples have turned down priests because of their weight, and have recommended others to go to a professional cosmetologist or to the same hair salon as the bride. If the priest is a woman, one might assume.
Having the choice to either laugh or weep, I choose laughing, since that is funnier. Not that this superficial trend is funny, of course.
But to my knowledge, I haven't been turned down for my looks yet. For my opinions, yes, but that is another matter.
Or is it?
Hääparit vaativat kaunista pappia (YLE 12.9.09)
Brudpar kräver en snygg präst (Dagen 14.9.09)

Lolcat evil

Schoolboy Howlers 18

Poetry is when every line starts with a capital letter and doesn't reach the right side of the page.

Biblical inerrancy or Christ?

MadPriest once again comes up with some very interesting ideas, as he writes his "Thought of the century" (7.8.09). Extract:
If the Bible is in any way inerrant, written by God or dictated by God, then what was the point of Jesus?
There would have been no reason for the Word to become flesh. [...]
If the Bible is the word of God then we better hope God isn't lying. And we wouldn't know whether he is or not. However, if the Bible is written by independent witnesses to the acts of God then we have more reason to believe that those acts of God actually happened.
In other words, the Bible is more trustworthy and a zillion times more exciting if God didn't have anything to do with its writing and compilation.
In a comment, Counterlight points out that
There is one completely inerrant book written by God himself that is so holy, some regard it as "uncreated;" with God from the very beginning of time.
That book is the Quran, according to Muslim belief. The Muslims would agree with you. They certainly don't need any Incarnate Word.
Happily, despite the best efforts of fundamentalists to turn it into such, the Bible is not the Quran. It remains what it says it is, a testament.
A few years back, I preached a sermon (in Swedish) where I made a similar point. A translation of the pertinent passage:
In our present-day Lutheran church, there are many things that need reforming, e.g. regarding bureaucracy and structures. What the edge of reform must point to is however in my opinion the misinterpretation of the expression ”the word of God” that has come to the fore and damages individuals to the core, when they are hit by loose bible verses. That is hardly what the author of the Letter to the Hebrews had in mind when he writes (4:12f): Indeed, the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing until it divides soul from spirit, joints from marrow; it is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And before him no creature is hidden, but all are naked and laid bare to the eyes of the one to whom we must render an account. In this passage, as in the New Testament in general, ”the word of God” is not a collection of texts (which usually is called ”the Scriptures” or something similar). It is to the ”word of God” that we must render an account. ”The word of God” is not the Bible, but Jesus Christ, God's living and active word that became flesh. The Bible contains words from God when it proclaims Christ, but it also contains other things, for example the Jewish ritual law that Jesus made obsolete. They have a place in the Bible because they paint a background to why Christ had to come to the Earth, but they aren't the word of God even in the sense that the phrase usually is understood.
The Bible is in itself a very good book and worth close study. But in our church it competes with Christ forthe title ”the word of God”. We have to reform this competitive situation. It is the message of Christ's love that is important, not what we happen to be able to combine from different odd verses.

Lolcat sleepy day

About dogs and people

Anybody who doesn’t know what soap tastes like never washed a dog.
- Franklin P. Jones
as quoted by the Episcopal padre

In front of one's nose

To see what is in front of one's nose needs a constant struggle.
- George Orwell
as quoted on the Daily Dish

That's bad!

Thanks to Wounded Bird!

Vacation time!

I'm taking the month of August off blogging
- I'm in need of a vacation.
I'll leave you with a couple of recent photos,
just to illustrate the versatility of the Pastor Bastard's work.
(Photo: Joakim Palmén)

(Photo: Niklas Montonen)
All the best! The Lord be with you!
See you in September!

Quotation from Bailey's Buddy

Work like you don't need the money, love like you've never been hurt, and dance like no one is watching.
- Satchel Paige
as quoted on Bailey's Buddy

King on quality and quantity

The quality, not the longevity, of one's life is what is important.
- Martin Luther King Jr.

Mother Love?

Here's a nice one!
A mother was so upset with the fact that her daughter was a lesbian, that she arranged to have her daughter raped. Her idea was that if the daughter even once could have a real man, her misguided interest for other women would disappear.
Crazy! Disgusting!
Read the story on One Utah. And thanks to MadPriest, through whom I found it.

Schoolboy Howlers 17

The headmaster caned me only on rear occasions.

True and false moralists

A true moralist, after years of study and thought, works out a rule of life and sticks to it.
A false moralist expects everybody else to stick to it.

On the Jamaican homophobic society

Through Aqurette and the Box Turtle Bulletin (BTB), I found an AP article dated 20 July 2009, entitled Gays live - and die - in fear in Jamaica. This is terrible, but enlightening, reading for those who paint a rosy picture of freeminded Jamaican potheads. A few excerpts:
Even now, about three years after a near-fatal gay bashing, Sherman gets jittery at dusk. On bad days, his blood quickens, his eyes dart, and he seeks refuge indoors.
A group of men kicked him and slashed him with knives for being a "batty boy" — a slang term for gay men — after he left a party before dawn in October 2006. They sliced his throat, torso, and back, hissed anti-gay epithets, and left him for dead on a Kingston corner. [...]
Many in this highly Christian nation perceive homosexuality as a sin, and insist violence against gays is blown out of proportion by gay activists. Some say Jamaica tolerates homosexuality as long as it is not advertised — a tropical version of former President Bill Clinton's "don't ask, don't tell" policy for the U.S. military.
Jamaica's most prominent evangelical pastor, Bishop Herro Blair, said he sympathizes with those who face intolerance, but that homosexuals themselves are actually behind most of the attacks reported against them. [...]
Perhaps playing to anti-gay constituents, politicians routinely rail against homosexuals. During a parliamentary session in February, lawmaker Ernest Smith of the ruling Jamaica Labor Party stressed that gays were "brazen," "abusive," and "violent," and expressed anxiety that the police force was "overrun by homosexuals."
A few weeks later, Prime Minister Bruce Golding described gay advocates as "perhaps the most organized lobby in the world" and vowed to keep Jamaica's "buggery law" — punishable by 10 years — on the books. During a BBC interview last year, Golding vowed to never allow gays in his Cabinet.
The dread of homosexuality is so all-encompassing that many Jamaican men refuse to get digital rectal examinations for prostate cancer, even those whose disease is advanced, said Dr. Trevor Tulloch of St. Andrews Hospital.
"Because it is a homophobic society, there's such a fear of the sexual implications of having the exam that men won't seek out help," said Tulloch, adding Jamaica has a soaring rate of prostate cancer because men won't be screened. [...]
Sherman, meanwhile, is simply trying to move on with his life. But he said he will always remember how, after his attack, patrolmen roughly lifted his bloodied body out of their squad car when a man admonished them for aiding a "batty boy." A woman shamed them into driving him to a hospital; they stuffed him in the car's trunk.
The BTB comments:
So predominant is hatred of gay people there that it outweighs basic decency - simple compassion you’d show a dog.
Shameful. And even more shameful, of course, is the fact that the churches seem to endorse this behaviour. At least, by not speaking out against it.

Anglicans and GLBT

Last week, two sets of news concerning Anglicans and GLBT hit the world.
The first one dealt with a letter sent by two English bishops, Christopher Hill and John Hind, to the Swedish archbishop, Anders Wejryd. ++Anders had sent a letter informing the Porvoo churches about the Church of Sweden's stance on gay marriage, and the English letter was a response to this.
In effect, the bishops Hill and Hind (oh, so diplomatically!) threatened the Church of Sweden with ecumenical repercussions if the Swedes wouldn't desist accepting gays as Christians and full members of the Body of Christ. This has created quite an uproar in Sweden, where some see it as an interference in internal matters, while others (happily saying "I told you so") predict the downfall of the Church of Sweden and of the Porvoo Communion.
I think the English bishops have every right to communicate with the Swedes and inform them of their thoughts in a matter where the Swedes first took the initiative. The Swedes, however, have an equal right to ignore the English, if they choose to do so. Ecumenism doesn't mean that everyone should do the same thing, but that we all should look to what unites us, rather that to that which divides us.
The other Anglican news was that on 17 July, the Episcopal Church in the USA (ECUSA), which is part of the Anglican Communion, authorized bishops to bless same-sex unions and research an official prayer for the ceremonies. This moved the church closer to accepting gay relationships despite turmoil over the issue in the Anglican family. The Anglican spiritual leader, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, has struggled to keep the communion unified.
Anglican leaders had pressed the ECUSA for a moratorium on electing more gay bishops than Gene Robinson, elected in 2003, and asked the church not to develop an official prayer for same-gender couples. But the measure adopted Friday by the Episcopal General Convention noted the growing number of U.S. states that allow gay marriage, civil unions and domestic partnerships, and gave bishops in those regions discretion to provide a “generous pastoral response” to couples in local parishes.
The 2 million-member Episcopal Church earlier in the week approved a resolution opening the doors to ordain gay men and women as clergy. These and related issues have already prompted some congregations to leave the Episcopal fold and form the rival Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) that claims 100,000 believers. Anglican churches in regions like Africa have broken ties with their more liberal U.S. brethren.
Here, too, the split is unfortunate, but the Episcopalians must do what they think is right. As must their opponents, of course.
The Bishops' letter, dated 26th June 2009
Engelsk oro över svensk äktenskapssyn (Kyrkans Tidning 15.7.09)
USA-kyrka bryter anglikanskt löfte (Kyrkans Tidning 15.7.09)
Gay clergy eligible for all Episcopal ministry (365 Gay 15.7.09)
Episcopal Church USA to ordain homosexual bishops (Spero News 16.7.09)
"Vi kan vara på väg att bli isolerade" (Kyrkans Tidning 16.7.09)
Anglo-Swedish rift over church gay marriage (The Local 16.7.09)
”Klipp banden med England” (Svenska Dagbladet 16.7.09)
Chans till besinning (Dagen 16.7.09)
Könsneutralt äktenskap (Från prästgårdsfönstret 16.7.09)
Engelska kyrkan i genuspanik mot Sverige (Trollhare 16.7.09)
Gay bishops more likely after US passes ‘nuanced’ motion (Church Times 17.7.09)
English bishops say Swedish proposal redefines marriage (Church Times 17.7.09)
Koskinen svarar på "anglikanattacken" (Kyrkans Tidning 17.7.09)
”Vi viker oss inte men bör ändå be Engelska kyrkan om ursäkt” (Dagen 17.7.09)
Episcopal Church moves toward blessing gay unions (Reuters 17.7.09)
Vad är viktigast? (Karin Långström Vinges blogg 17.7.09)
The Church of England Condemns the Church of Sweden (Aqurette 17.7.09)
Auf Wiedersehen! (Dagblogg 17.7.09)
Brevdebatt förvånar anglikansk biskop (Kyrkans Tidning 18.7.09)
Episcopalians: Bishops can bless same-sex unions (AP through 365 Gay 18.7.09)
Den västerländska kyrkan splittras (Dagen 21.7.09)

Lithuania's new law against information

On July 14, 2009, the Seimas (the Lithuanian parliament) voted to pass a law that bans information on homosexuality, bad hygiene, gambling and hypnosis (among other things) in schools or in media accessible by young people. The law, titled 'Law on the Protection of Minors against the Detrimental Effect of Public Information', includes "the propaganda of homosexuality [or] bisexuality" as a detrimental factor on young people.
In June, the then-President Valdas Adamkus vetoed the law, but the 141-member Seimas has the power to override him and did so with a vote of 87-6. It is expected the law will come into force on March 1st, 2010.
On July 12, the country's new President, the former European Commissioner Dalia Grybauskaitė, came into office. She has voiced her opposition to this law, but is powerless to do anything about it. Many Human Rights organisations - e.g. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch - have expressed their concern about the significant narrowing of the rights to free speech and to information, that this law entails. The blogger Aqurette comments:
The irony is that Lithuania fought long and hard for its independence from the Soviet Union. Freedom of speech was at the top of the agenda. And now, after eighteen years of post-communist democracy, it introduces a law that bans free speech. Joseph Stalin would be so proud.
And we certainly wouldn't want to disappoint him, now, would we?
What really worries me, however, is the attempt (within the EU) to legislate moral issues. That has never worked and it will never work. If something is sinful, a sinner will try it. Making sin illegal can't cure the incurable. And since we all are sinners, it is obvious to me that we try to legislate away not our own sin, but our neighbour's. This is not how lawmaking should work.
While laws reflect the morals of the legislators, the laws themselves should be concerned with actions that hurt others in some way, not with trying to enforce moral behaviour on those that haven't the same values or basis for their morals as the legislators have. If morals are to be influenced or changed, you should use information, not legislation.
Lithuania's parliament passes 'Section 28-style' law to ban homosexuality in schools (PinkNews 14.9.09)
Litauisk lag mot homosex och hypnos (Svenska Dagbladet 14.7.09)
Homoseksualumas yra meilė! ( 14.7.09)
Ny morallag i Litauen får kraftig kritik (Kyrkans Tidning 15.9.09)
Litauen antar lag mot homosex (Dagen 15.7.09)
Mycket att göra i EU: korkad litauisk lag antagen (Karin Långström Vinges blogg 15.7.09)
Dumstrut över Litauen (Antigayretorik 15.7.09)
Homoseksualumas yra meilę (Aqurette 15.7.09)

The last refuge

Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent.
- Salvor Hardin
a character in a book by Isaac Asimov

Join the Church electronically!

For a few years now, it's been possible to leave the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland electronically. A humanist society in Tampere (the largest city in Finland outside the Helsinki area) has thoughtfully provided this service, which has been very popular.
Now, the Church has made a countermove. Through the websites (in Swedish) or (in Finnish), it is possible to join the Church electronically. One obstacle has - up till now - been the need to know which parish you're joining. Through the new service, your application is automatically sent to the right parish, which then, presumably, contacts you and wishes you welcome.
About time, one could say - but better late than never. And we'll see what effect, if any, these websites have. At least they're streamlining a process that so far has been rather difficult.

A lesbian Reformed pastor ordained in Switzerland

On June 11, I published this item in Swedish on my multilingual blog, Kalles kyrkliga kommentarer. I was asked by a certain person to translate my text into English, and having done that I thought it best to publish it here, as well. Enjoy, or don't, as the case may be!
A little more than a year ago, the French-speaking Swiss Marianne Weymann (see picture) was ordained in Église protestante de Genève for work within Église évangelique réformée de canton du Vaud, a little further inland from Geneva. At present, she works in the congregation Terre Sainte (Holy Land) in Céligny.
What makes this interesting, and is the reason I wanted to blog about it, is that pastor Weymann is a Lesbian, and that the Church authorities have been aware of it all along. There are no skeletons in the cupboard here! Of course, this is the first time it happens, but that doesn't matter.
In Geneva as early as in 1988, pastor Weymann was engaged in founding the group C+H (Chrétien-ne-s et Homosexuel-le-s) for christians, homosexuals and combinations thereof. Twenty years later, the EPG had had a change of heart, and she could be consacrated (as the word is there. Well done! I wish God's rich blessings on pastor Weymann and her co-workers!

About dogs and people

If I have any beliefs about immortality, it is that certain dogs I have known will go to heaven, and very, very few persons.
- James Thurber
as quoted by the Episcopal padre

To die for

If a man hasn't discovered something that he will die for, he isn't fit to live.
- Martin Luther King Jr.

Says God

And it came to pass that God visited the earth, and He did behold a series of billboard ads attributing to Him utterances of such banality that they would never pass His lips in a billion years. And it came to pass that God in His wrath considered a libel suit, but in the end opted simply to mount a cantankerous, self-contradictory ad campaign of His own...

I never said, "Thou shalt not think."

Okay, you've got multiplying down. Now let's try replenishing for a while.

I don't care who started it. Just stop it.

If you seek to know my ways, read a science book.

You'd better have stopped fighting by the time I get back, or you're all grounded.

Six days? Yeah, right. I'm a scientist, not a magician.

E=mc². Yeah, that's one of mine.

The dinosaurs didn't believe in you either.

Excuse me? Where do you see my name on the front of the Bible?

Only six thousand years old? Oh, that's a good one.

Just look at this planet! Do you expect me to clean this up?

I love Marilyn Manson, too. Maybe more than I love you.

Here's a clue—if they say they're doing it in my name, they're lying.

I gave you a bigger brain for a reason. Start using it.

Want to know how old the earth is? Ask the earth, not the Bible.

If you don't clean this place up, you won't get another millennium.

I don't blame video games when my children start shooting each other.

I like to kick things off with a bang. A Big Bang.

If you didn't hear it straight from my lips, take it with a grain of salt.

All this will someday be your children's.

There is no such thing as killing in my name.

Stop smirking. I'm talking to you, too.
Thanks to Ad Hoc and Karin!

Havel on hope

I am not an optimist, because I am not sure that everything ends well. Nor am I a pessimist, because I am not sure that everything ends badly. I just carry hope in my heart. Hope is a feeling that life and work have a meaning. You either have it or you don't, regardless of the state of the world that surrounds you. Life without hope is an empty, boring and useless life. I cannot imagine that I could strive for something if I did not carry hope in me. I am thankful to God for this gift. It is as big a gift as life itself.
- Vaclav Havel
as quoted on Musings of an episcopal padre

Penguins, penguins, penguins...

Penguins! Endearing creatures that seldom get eaten by polar bears, of geographical reasons. I've come across them in a few different contexts lately.
One example is the story of the two male Humboldt penguins, Z and Vielpunkt (picture), who are raising a chick together in the "Zoo am Meer" zoological park in Bremerhaven, northern Germany. The proud fathers are one of three homosexual penguin pairs at the zoo. They assumed the role of surrogate parents when an egg was cast aside by a heterosexual pair. The zoo has tried to have gay birds incubate an egg before, but this is the only occasion it has worked.
The story has appeared at least in the Huffington Post and the Local (Germany), and on Of course, I could be wrong... and the Pet Blog during the first days of this month of June, 2009.
I found another charming story about penguins on Of Course I Could Be On Vacation...:
Touching Penguin Ritual
Did you ever wonder why there are no dead penguins on the ice in Antarctica - where do they go? Wonder no more!!!
It is a known fact that the penguin is a very ritualistic bird which lives an extremely ordered and complex life. The penguin is very committed to its family and will mate for life, as well as maintaining a form of compassionate contact with its offspring throughout its life.
If a penguin is found dead on the ice surface, other members of the family and social circle have been known to dig holes in the ice, using their vestigial wings and beaks, until the hole is deep enough for the dead bird to be rolled into and buried.
The male penguins then gather in a circle around the fresh grave and sing: "freeze a jolly good fellow."
(Actually, I have some small doubts about the veracity of the last statement. Is this a penguin story or a shaggy dog story, one might wonder. The answer, however, is obvious.)

Laugh or die!

You don't stop laughing because you grow old. You grow old because you stop laughing.
- Michael Pritchard
as quoted on Bailey's Buddy

LGBT bishops - ecumenical problems or possibilities?

Now, there are two of them.
In 2003, Gene Robinson was elected Bishop of New Hampshire within the Episcopal Church in the USA (TEC), and a couple of weeks ago, Eva Brunne was elected Bishop of Stockholm within the Church of Sweden. Both +Gene and +Eva are homosexuals.
This has created quite an uproar in some circles, and many arguments have been used in attempts to show how wrong this is. I won't bore you with them all; my readers are surely well aware of them.
One argument does have some merit to it, namely the argument that this will impede ecumenical relations between churches, especially between Protestant and Orthodox churches, but also between Western and Third World Protestant churches. The Danish Christian newspaper Kristeligt Dagblad published an article about the issue on June 6, and the Swedish blogger Per Westberg commented on the article the same day.
There is, admittedly, a rift between the Orthodox and many Protestant churches. This rift has, however, officially been in existance since 1054, even before any Protestant churches existed, and unofficially several centuries longer. This is, of course, a shame. During the ecumenical processes of the last half-century or so, attempts have been made to bridge the gap, but success has only been minor and has concerned details. The main achievement of the ecumenical discussions have been the discussions themselves. And I'm not running them down; being able to sit at the same table and discuss issues calmly is a very good thing in itself.
But when Conservatives on either side accuse proponents of female clergy or homosexual rights of sabotaging the ecumenical relations, they are, surely, exaggerating. Far greater questions lie on the table - the Eucharist (or Communion, if you prefer), the Filioque dispute, the status of the Saints etc. Since we haven't been able to solve these - or even make a dent - why protest so vocally over the minor questions that have been raised now?
I doubt that the real issue at hand is Ecumenism; Ecumenism is apparently only being used as yet another argument in the attempt to bury the questions of women's and LGBT rights.
The relations between Protestant churches can also be affected. This is already the case within the Anglican community, where several African church leaders, notably the Nigerian Archbishop Peter Akinola, are actively working against TEC and +Gene. ++Peter is even leading a secessionary movement, taking seceding American parishes and dioceses under his wing, in open defiance of Anglican structure and tradition.
African Lutherans are probably in the same mind frame. This was seen in 2005, when bishop Walter Obare of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Kenya ordained a Swede, Arne Olsson, as bishop of the splinter movement Missionsprovinsen (the Missionary Province), which had come into being as a reaction to the alleged liberalism of the Church of Sweden. No big reactions on the election of +Eva have yet been heard, but it's probably just a matter of time.
The problems have been there all along, but the development during the last decades have been detrimental, I must admit.
What is, however, the core issue here? Can ecumenical relations exist, if they mean that one of the churches involved has to pretend to be something it isn't? Shouldn't we rejoice in that which is common to us all, and agree to disagree about that which is not? Shouldn't the love of God and the grace of our Lord Jesus be enough as common ground for us to stand on?
Why should the relatively minor questions about human sexuality be elevated to such heights, and be allowed to carry the blame for wrecking the relationships between Christians? That is absurd. At the bottom of it all lies different attitudes toward those who are different, different attitudes with mainly cultural, not religious, background. If these questions are raised now, instead of being swept under the rug as before, is it the question raiser or the rug sweeper that should be blamed for the increased tension?
Neither, I hope - since they both should sit at the table addressing these issues, too...

Sitting on the fence

The most evil thing about sitting on the fence is that you have to erect the fence first.
- Rev. Jonathan Hagger
a.k.a. MadPriest

Worst one, ever 7

The pod vegetables I bought for the gumbo I was making were so-so. They were medi-okra.

That's bad!

My short-term memory is not as sharp as it used to be.
Also, my short-term memory's not as sharp as it used to be.
Thanks to Wounded Bird!

Equal before God

Before God we are all equally wise - and equally foolish.
- Albert Einstein
as quoted on Musings of an Episcopal padre

Lesbian bishop-elect in Stockholm

The Diocese of Stockholm in the (Lutheran) Church of Sweden has elected a new bishop after Caroline Krook, who is retiring. The new bishop-elect is Eva Brunne (55), who recieved 413 votes against 365 for Hans Ulfvebrand, her opponent in the final second round of the election on May 26.
Bishop-elect Brunne has extensive experience as vicar in the parishes of Flemingsberg and Sundbyberg.
Especially Flemingsberg has given her insights into the present religious situation in urban Sweden, where the Church of Sweden is incresingly becoming a minority church, in parallel with Catholic and Orthodox churches of different hue, as well as Muslim and non-religious people. In Flemingsberg, she habitually introduced herself as "the Evangelical Lutheran pastor", just to make sure.
Eva Brunne lives in a registered partnership with another woman, and has a three-year-old son.
Eva Brunne vann biskopsvalet i Stockholms stift (Press release from the Diocese of Stockholm 26.5.09)
Eva Brunne vann biskopsval i Stockholm (Kyrkans Tidning 26.5.09)
Eva Brunne blir ny biskop i Stockholm stift (Dagen 26.5.09)
Eva Brunne vann biskopsvalet i Stockholms stift (Dagens Nyheter 26.5.09)
Sverige fick homosexuell biskop (Hufvudstadsbladet 26.5.09)
Habemus mamam! (Karin Långström Vinges blogg 26.5.09)
Go Eva, Go Eva! (Carl Martin Hægermark 26.5.09)
Sverige fick homosexuell biskop (Kyrkpressen 27.5.09)
Eva Brunne ny stockholmsbiskop (Antigayretorik 27.5.09)
Världens första lesbiska biskop? (Senapsfrön och fikonspråk 27.7.09)
(No caption) (Stone of Witness 1.6.09)

Lolcat on caffeine

Wink wink!

A man with a winking problem is applying for a position as a sales representative for a large firm. The interviewer looks over his papers and says, "This is phenomenal. You've graduated from the best schools; your recommendations are wonderful, and your experience is unparalleled. Normally, we'd hire you without a second thought. However, a sales representative has a highly visible position, and we're afraid that your constant winking will scare off potential customers. I'm sorry... we can't hire you."
"But wait," he said. "If I take two aspirin, I'll stop winking!"
"Really? Great! Show me!"
So the applicant reaches into his jacket pocket and begins pulling out all sorts of condoms: red condoms, blue condoms, ribbed condoms, flavored condoms; finally, at the bottom, he finds a packet of aspirin. He tears it open, swallows the pills, and stops winking.
"Well," said the interviewer, "that's all well and good, but this is a respectable company, and we will not have our employees womanizing all over the country!"
"Womanizing? What do you mean? I'm a happily married man!"
"Well then, how do you explain all these condoms?"
"Oh, that," he sighed. "Have you ever walked into a pharmacy, winking, and asked for aspirin?"
Thanks to MadPriest!

Judge NOT!

I was shocked, confused, bewildered as I entered Heaven's door,
Not by the beauty of it all, nor the lights or its decor.

But it was the folks in Heaven who made me sputter and gasp -
the thieves, the liars, the sinners, the alcoholics, the trash.

There stood the kid from seventh grade who swiped my lunch money twice.
Next to him was my old neighbor who never said anything nice.

Herb, who I always thought was rotting away in hell,
was sitting pretty on cloud nine, looking incredibly well.

I nudged Jesus, 'What's the deal? I would love to hear Your take.
How did all these sinners get up here? God must have made a mistake.

'And why is everyone so quiet, so somber? Give me a clue.'
'Hush, child,' said He, 'they're all in shock. No one thought they'd be seeing you.'

Thanks to John 11:35!

Gay adoption law in Finland

Last Friday, May 15, 2009, was a great day in Finnish history. Our Parliament voted to allow gay couples in registered partnerships to adopt the biological children of their partners. The bill passed by an 108-29 vote with 61 MPs absent and one abstainee. The individual votes can be found on the Parliament's web site here.
Under the law, children would be eligible for alimony and gain the right to inherit the estate of non-biological parents. In the case of separation, the non-biological parent would also qualify for visitation rights.
Registered partnerships were created for gay couples in 2002.
As can be seen by the large number of absentees, the law didn't pass without controversy. The smaller ruling parties, i.e. the Swedish People's Party (to which I belong) and the Green League, were unanimously for the new law, together with the opposition Left League. Two smaller opposition parties, i.e. the Christian Democrats and the populist True Finns, were unanimously against. All other parties were divided.
The Finnish Parliament has 200 MPs, but the Speaker doesn't vote. And in this case, almost a third of the MPs were absent...
Earlier in the week, a True Finn MP, Pentti Oinonen, caused controversy when he suggested that pet owners may demand the right to marry their pet dogs. Oinonen (whose name was misspelled by PinkNews, btw) later said he had not intended to cause offence. He did not apologize for or retract his statement, however.
This weekend, Oinonen was elected first vice chairman of his party, a strong suggestion that his style of retoric is not frowned upon among the True Finns, but rather embraced.
The one True Finn who was present for Friday's Parliament vote was Pirkko Ruohonen-Lerner, my colleague in the City Council of Porvoo.
Homoperheiden adoptiolaki kuohutti eduskunnassa (Helsingin Sanomat 12.5.09)
Regnbågspar får adoptionsrätt (Hufvudstadsbladet 15.5.09)
Eduskunta hyväksyi perheen sisäisen adoption homopareille selvin äänin (Helsingin Sanomat 15.5.09)
Riksdagen godkände intern adoption (Vasabladet 15.5.09)
Finland allows gay couples to adopt partner's children (PinkNews 15.5.09)
Lapselle syntyy oikeuksia (Helsingin Sanomat 16.5.09)

Worst one, ever 6

I thought I saw an eye doctor on an Alaskan island but it turned out to be an optical Aleutian.

Be careful what you wish for

A married couple in their early sixties were celebrating their 40th wedding anniversary in a quiet, romantic little restaurant. Suddenly, a tiny, yet beautiful, fairy appeared on their table. She told them:
"For being such an exemplary married couple and for being loving to each other for all this time, I will grant you each a wish."
The wife answered: "Oh, I want to travel around the world with my darling husband." The fairy waved her magic wand and - hey presto - two tickets for the Carnival Destiny appeared in her hands.
The husband thought for a moment: "Well, this is all very romantic, but an opportunity like this will never come again. I'm sorry my love, but my wish is to have a wife 30 years younger than me."
The wife and the fairy were deeply disappointed, but a wish is a wish. So the fairy waved her magic wand and - hey presto! - the husband became 92 years old.
The moral of this story: Men who are ungrateful blighters should remember that fairies are female.
Thanks to MadPriest!

Pornographic misunderstanding

A vicar books into a hotel and says to the receptionist, "I hope the porn channel in my room is disabled."
"No," she says. "It's just regular porn.... you sick bastard."
Thanks to MadPriest!

Stinking clergy

The clergy are like manure - excellent when spread all over the country while doing their work but when gathered together in a heap they stink.
- George Bell
Bishop of Chichester, England (1929)
as quoted in The Guardian 2.8.08

Hot air

The pastor put sanitary hot air hand dryers in the rest rooms at his church, but after two weeks took them out.
When asked why, he confessed that they worked fine but when he went in there he saw a sign that read, "For a sample of this week's sermon, push the button."

The secret of a good sermon

The secret of a good sermon is to have a good beginning and a good ending, then having the two as close together as possible.
- George Burns (1896-1996)
US actor and comedian
as quoted on Musings of an Episcopal padre

Schoolboy Howlers 16

The Papal bull was a mad bull kept by the Pope in the Inquisition to trample on Protestants.
Source: Carinas blogg

St. Francis on proclaiming peace

While you are proclaiming peace with your lips, be careful to have it even more fully in your heart.
- St. Francis of Assisi

Young victims of anti-gay bullying commit suicide

Tragic news: An 11-year-old boy, Carl Walker-Hoover in Springfield, Massachusetts, USA, hanged himself with an extension cord on April 6th, 2009. Ten days later, Jaheem Herrera, also 11, used a belt to the same end in his home outside Atlanta, Georgia, USA.
Even though he did not identify as gay, Carl had been the victim of anti-gay bullying at the New Leadership Charter School for more than six months. Other students called him gay and a 'fag' and made fun of his clothes.
However, the school blamed the incidents on "immaturity". According to his mother, Carl was too scared to reveal who the perpetrators were.
The DeKalb County schools, where Jaheem attended elementary school, reportedly have an anti-bullying program in place. But one classmate reported witnessing a bullying incident in the boys room that was so severe that Jaheem passed out.
According to Jaheem’s mother, she repeatedly complained to school officials about Jaheem’s harassment, but nothing was done.
"New Leadership Charter School", indeed. New leadership is badly needed to prevent this from ever happening again! Bullying - for whatever reason, with whatever excuse, at whatever age - is just never acceptable!
Hundreds attend funeral for anti-gay bully victim (365gay 14.4.09)
Boy, 11, commits suicide after gay taunts (PinkNews 14.4.09)
Another Anti-Gay Bullying Suicide (Box Turtle Bulletin 21.4.09)

Plato on the real tragedy of life

We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.
- Plato
as quoted by the Episcopal padre

The redneck's pet fish

A redneck was stopped by a game warden just north of Kentucky’s Lake Cumberland recently with two ice chests of fish.
The game warden asked the man, "Do you have a license to catch those fish?"
"Naw, my friend, I ain't got no license. These are my pet fish."
"Pet fish?"
"Yep. Every night I take these fish down to the lake and let 'em swim 'round for a while. Then I whistle and they jump right back into this ice chest and I take 'em home."
"That's a bunch of hooey! Fish can't do that!"
The redneck looked at the game warden for a moment and then said, "It's the truth. I'll show you. It really works."
"Okay, I've GOT to see this!"
The redneck poured the fish into the river and stood and waited. After several minutes, the game warden turned to him and said, "Well?"
"Well, whut?" said the redneck.
"When are you going to call them back?"
"Call who back?"
"The FISH!"
"What fish?"
Thanks to MadPriest!

Finnish woman bishop - in Sweden

At last, a Finnish woman has been elected bishop! Sadly, this took place in Sweden...
Last week, Dean Tuulikki Koivunen Bylund (see photo) was elected Bishop in Härnösand.
She was born in 1947 in Turku, Finland, but was ordained in Lund, Sweden, in 1971 (women couldn't become pastors in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland until 1986). A Doctor of Theology, Koivunen Bylund has been Dean of Uppsala since 1995. She has two children and one grandchild.
Tuulikki Koivunen Bylund will be consecrated in November in the Cathedral of Uppsala, together with the new Bishop of Stockholm, who is yet to be elected.
See the news in Swedish and in Finnish, and her biography on my blog (in Swedish).

Gandhi on "an eye for an eye"

An eye for an eye will make the whole world blind.
- Mahatma Gandhi
as quoted on A man in red

Schoolboy Howlers 15

Methane, a greenhouse gas, comes from the burning of trees and cows.

Priests coming out of the closet

Last week, two ministers came out of the closet, one in Finland, the other in Alaska, USA.
On April 8, 2009, pastor Laura Mäntylä came out as a lesbian in the TV talk show Inhimillinen tekijä ("The Human Factor"). Her bishop, Eero Huovinen of Helsinki, issued a press release supporting her decision. More (in Swedish) on my blog Kalles kyrkliga kommentarer.
On Good Friday, April 10, father Robert Thomas came out on his blog Musings of an Episcopal padre.
Thank you, both, for giving a face to the plight of our non-heterosexual sisters and brothers in Christ! Blessings and strength to you both!

King sticks with love

I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.
- Martin Luther King, Jr.

The community of the King

The church as the community of the King must be a demonstration of the values of the Kingdom. We must flesh out what it means to love one another, to do justice, to serve others.
- Isabelo Magalit
Filipina theologian
as quoted on God's Politics

Gender neutral marriage in Sweden and in Finland

Earlier this week - on April Fool's Day, as it happens - the Swedish Parliament passed a law making marriage gender neutral. This means, that Swedish couples can get married regardless of whether they are two women, two men or one of each. I'm all for it, but I won't go into detail at the moment. Read the media (e.g. 365gay, PinkNews), will you!
Since the churches in Sweden have the right to marry people, a debate has sprung up regarding whether this right gives leeway to individual churches and pastors to refuse to marry same-sex couples. The (Lutheran) Church of Sweden, for instance, will come to a decision on the issue when its Synod meets in October.
Here in Finland, the society is traditionally far more conservative than in neighbouring Sweden. We have had registration of civil partnerships for some time now, but the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland (not to mention all the other churches) is still struggling with the consequences of this fact. And same-sex marriage isn't even an issue!

"The End is Near!"

A priest and pastor from the local parishes are standing by the side of the road holding up a sign that reads, "The End is Near! Turn yourself around now before it's too late!" They plan to hold up the sign to each passing car.
"Leave us alone, you religious nuts!" yells the first driver as he speeds by.
From around the curve they hear screeching tires and a big splash.
"Do you think," says one clergy to the other, "we should just put up a sign that says 'Bridge Out' instead?"
Thanks to Sam!

Life and breath

Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take but by the moments that take our breath away.
- Anonymous quotation on Bailey's Buddy