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!