Maureen Fiedler: How 12 Religious Traditions View Gay and Lesbian People

Sr. Maureen Fiedler offers an excellent overview of where faith traditions are on the question of homosexuality in her article Radio Program Explore Homosexuality in Different Faith Communities. Well worth the read, and tuning in to her 12-part radio series. These radio interviews could offer a great opportunity for small group conversations within your community.

Here’s an excerpt of Maureen’s article:

Public opinion about homosexuality is changing rapidly, and civil law is not far behind. Gays and lesbians are increasingly open about their relationships and accepted. In some states, they now can marry legally and adopt children.

But among those who are people of faith — with a few exceptions — gay men and lesbians wrestle with how to be faithful to their religious traditions while living fully the human reality in which they discover themselves.

That’s why it seemed just the right moment for “Interfaith Voices” (the public radio show I host) to broadcast a series titled “Gay in the Eyes of God: How 12 Traditions View Gay and Lesbian People.” It began this summer and will stretch into the fall. It was made possible by a grant from the Arcus Foundation.

This series offers much more than scriptural or theological conversations, although those are included. We hear the often poignant stories of gay and lesbian people struggling with who they are as they try to stay faithful to their respective traditions. …

Read the whole article.
Find out more about this series and Interfaith Voices.

An American Nun Responds To Vatican Criticism

“Our gift to the church is to be with those who have been made poorer, with those on the margins. Questions there are much less black and white because human realities are much less black and white. That’s where we spend our days.” — Sister Pat Farrell, president of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious and the vice president of the Sisters of St. Francis in Dubuque, Iowa.

Read the transcript and listen to Sr. Pat Farrell’s interview with NPR’s Terry Gross on Fresh Air (July 17, 2012).

Homicide Watch D.C.: Marking Death To Claim Life

Laura Norton Amico walk through an alley in Columbia Heights where a 17-year-old girl was found dead in a garbage container. (Washington Post)

I’ve been doing what I can to support Laura Amico Norton and her work as founder of the blog Homicide Watch D.C. Its mission: Mark every death. Remember every victim. Follow every case. As Laura says, “Their deaths needs to be marked if we are living consciously in this city.”

She’s a 28-year-old former newspaper reporter whose web site chronicles every murder in Washington D.C. Laura supports her work out of her own pocket and is hoping to get grant funding.

Recently, BBC reporter Jane O’Brien met Laura at a Bloomingdale neighborhood prayer vigil for Billy Mitchell. Mitchell was murdered when he, allegedly, tried to intervene in a street altercation between a man and a woman. You can listen to O’Brien’s excellent interview with Laura on BBC Outlook (starts at minute 16).

“I think those people who don’t even get a funeral announcement are just as important as the ones who do get the coverage,” says Laura. “Who they were and how they died say as much about our city as the one’s who do get a news write up.”

By being online, the web site provides a place to form community for the family and friends of murder victims. It becomes a place of solace; a place that meets the need for the victim’s community to get concrete information about the legal aspects of the case and as a place to meet others who knew their loved one, but whom the family might not have met.

As one neighbor put it, “She’s putting a face on every victim who is murdered in DC.”

For more on read Can I Get A Witness?: Laura Amico’s DC Homicide Blog

Latino USA Radio Interview: Remembering Chiapas’ Bishop Samuel Ruiz

I did a radio interview with Latino USA’s Mincho Jacob on Wednesday about the death last week of Roman Catholic Bishop Samuel Ruiz of Chiapas, Mexico.

I’m not sure if Mincho read my Huffington Post column on Bishop Ruiz or if my friend Sean Collins at Latino USA tipped Mincho off that I might be a person to call. Either way I was grateful for the chance to remember Bishop Ruiz with the Latino USA audience.

To listen to the interview, click on the link below and go to minute 3:00.

INTERVIEW: http://latinousa.org/salsa/wp-content/lusaaudio/930seg02.mp3

However, the story before is also worth listening to. It’s with Arizona-based journalist Terry Greene Sterling on the trial of members of the paramilitary group the Minutemen who are accused of killing nine-year-old Brisenia Flores and her father Raul Flores.

BBC’s Two Part Show on Archbishop Oscar Romero

DSCN0012The BBC’s Heart and Soul ran an incredible 2-part radio show on Oscar Romero this week on the 30th anniversary of Romero’s assassination. Join Julian Miglierini as he speaks to those who remember Romero, and travels to a village in El Salvador’s poor north, where he is revered as a saint.

“Thirty years ago, El Salvador’s Catholic Archbishop Oscar Romero was shot dead while celebrating mass. He knew he was in danger – not long before his death, he said that if he was killed – he would rise again in his people. Today, his face is everywhere in the country – on murals, T-shirts and key rings. Many compare him to Martin Luther King, Gandhi or even Che Guevara.

But how was it that this man of the church became such an outspoken advocate of the poor and oppressed? And why did he become such a threat to the rich oligarchy that someone wanted him dead?Listen to BBC’s Julian Miglierini as he speaks to those who remember Romero, and travels to a village in El Salvador’s poor north, where he is revered as a saint.”

BBC’s Heart and Soul Part I (28 minutes).

Every year on 24th March, the people of El Salvador remember the death of the man who throughout Latin America became known as the voice of the voiceless poor: Catholic Archbishop Oscar Romero, who was shot dead at the altar on 24th March 1980. But is the Catholic church he loved in terminal decline, in a country where more than one-third of the population now attend evangelical Protestant churches?

BBC’s Julian Miglierini goes to a Baptist megachurch in San Salvador where close to 80,000 people worship every week, and asks why its message should have such enormous appeal in a traditionally Catholic country. But while the Catholic church may be losing members, Oscar Romero himself seems to have lost little of his appeal. El Salvador’s new left-wing President, Mauricio Funes, calls him his inspiration. And this bookish Archbishop in his 60s has also become an unlikely icon of youth culture. Hear why the Hip Hop band, Pescozada, have just released a track in homage to him.

BBC’s Heart and Soul Part II (28 minutes).

Video: Salvadoran Archbishop Romero Last Sunday Sermon (The Appeal to Soldier to Lay Down Their Guns)

Here’s a very moving 3-minute video of images (some graphic) from El Salvador’s war and the voice over of Archbishop Romero’s last Sunday sermon on March 23, 1980,  in which he appeals to the members of the Army to put down their weapons. Romero was shot and killed while celebrating Mass the following day.

The 30th anniversary of Romero’s assassination will be in March 24, 2010. I’ll be interviewed on NPR’s Latino USA by Maria Hinojosa with Salvadoran theologian Ernesto Valiente who teaches at Boston College. The English translation of an excerpt of Romero’s sermon is below the video.

Archbishop Romero:
“We want to greet the entities of YSAX, which for so long have awaited this moment which, thanks to God, has arrived. We know the risk that is run by our poor station for being the instrument and vehicle of truth and justice, but we recognize that the risk has to be taken, for behind that risk is an entire people that upholds this word of truth and justice….

We give thanks to God that a message that doesn’t mean to be more than a modest reflection of the spoken Word finds marvelous channels of outreach and tells many people that, in the context of Lent, all of this is preparation for our Easter, and Easter is a shout of victory. No one can extinguish that life which Christ revived. Not even death and hatred against him and against his Church will be able to overcome it. He is the victor!

As he will flourish in an Easter of unending resurrection, it is necessary to also accompany him in Lent, in a Holy Week that is cross, sacrifice, martyrdom; as he would say, “Happy are those who do not become offended by their cross!” Lent is then a call to celebrate our redemption in that difficult complex of cross and victory. Our people are very qualified, all their surroundings preach to us of cross; but all who have Christian faith and hope know that behind this Calvary of El Salvador is our Easter, our resurrection, and that is the hope of the Christian people….

Today, as diverse historical projects emerge for our people, we can be sure that victory will be had by the one that best reflects the plan of God. And this is the mission of the Church. That is why, in the light of the divine Word that reveals the designs of God for the happiness of the peoples, we have the duty, dear brothers and sisters, to also point out the facts, to see how the plan of God is being reflected or disdained in our midst. Let no one take badly the fact that we illuminate the social, political, and economic truths by the light of the divine words that are read at our Mass, because not to do so would, for us, be un-Christian….

Continue reading “Video: Salvadoran Archbishop Romero Last Sunday Sermon (The Appeal to Soldier to Lay Down Their Guns)”

Sheena Iyengar: Health-care Debate and ‘Different Views About Freedom’

artofchoosingI was listening this afternoon to social psychologist Sheena Iyengar interviewed on the Diane Rehm show. Iyengar, who has a new book out called The Art of Choosing, made a very insightful comment on President Obama’s role as mediator and consensus-builder between Republicans and Democrats in reforming the American health-care system. She said:

The job of the mediator or the leader becomes how do I make sure that I surface all these ideas and take them in a constructive direction and don’t allow this group to disintegrate into a dysfunctional conflict. …

“[The leader’s role is] is to create a truly phenomenal choice that will work. And that’s actually Barack Obama’s challenge right now. If you think about the Republicans and the Democrats in terms of the health care debate. What they are really arguing about at its essence is the different views they have about freedom.

On the one hand, the Democrats are saying the only freedom that’s fair, the only freedom that I value, is one that gives everybody the same outcomes, the same health care. The Republicans are saying the only freedom that’s fair, the only freedom I value, is one that ensures equal opportunity, not equal outcome. So that means that anybody who’s worthy or who has more money or who has better health, whatever the criteria is for greater merit, the people who are more meritorious should get better health care and the people who are less should get less.

Neither position is particularly right or wrong but they are so fundamental to the two parties different views that Barrack Obama has this major challenge on his hands as to how is he going to come up with a health care option that will speak to both models such that people believing in either one of those models will believe in the choice he’s providing.”–Sheena Iyengar

Sheena Iyengar, researcher and S.T. Lee Professor of Business at Columbia University, is the author of The Art of Choosing.

You Won’t See This on HGTV

Outside model home decorated from thrift stores
Outside model home decorated from thrift stores

I woke up at 12:30 a.m. It’s really the best time to listen to the radio. I happened on Dick Gordon’s show on North Carolina Public Radio called The Story.

He was interviewing Terri Thompson, a marketing manager for a bank in North Carolina, about her penchant for only buying from thrift stores, flea markets, second-hand shops, or “found items/dumpster diving.” As the economy tanks, retail stores are going with it–but thrift stores are booming.

A recent survey from the National Association of Resale and Thrift Shops (NARTs), 74% said that September and October sales increased over the prior year, by an average of 35%. Goodwill Industries, a nonprofit that operates 2,200 thrift stories, says that same-store revenue have increased by an average of 7% compared to last year.

Dick Gordon talked to Terri Thompson about how she makes treasures out of trash. For those who are trying to live more simply and step away from the ever-hungry god of consumerism, Terri’s story is interesting. Especially when she convinces a  local builder to give her the keys to a model home and she furnished it entirely with secondhand items.

As she tells Dick, the event was a huge success and convinced many more people of the value of purchasing things used. In fact, she raised $40,000 for local nonprofits and the near-by Habitat for Humanity ReStore saw a 30% increase in customers.

Let’s put the FUN of RECESS back in recession!
Listen to the broadcast.
See 360-degree room views from the Frugal Design Showcase Home.

Midnight at the Lincoln Memorial

The only word that comes to mind is “magical.” After watching the early election returns with friends and observing a hushed moment of unbelieving silence at 10 p.m. when ABC called the election for Barack Obama, I did what has been in the back of my mind to do since Obama got the nomination. I drove through town to the Lincoln Memorial, parked my car illegally, and walked through the quiet grove to the great wide marble steps of that monument.

There were three or four other people there and a few security guards. It was misting. The steps were wet and slick. The guards were chatting among themselves and listening on their walkie-talkies to their compatriots guarding the White House where the “real action” was. (Apparently, about 2000 people gathered in Lafayette Park.)

I walked up to the foot of that massive statue of Abraham Lincoln. The words of the Gettysburg Address are carved along the walls. In his speech Lincoln reminds those standing in that muddy Pennsylvania field where so many died that “we can not dedicate — we can not consecrate — we can not hallow — this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract.”

Dr. King preached from here to a crowd of 300,000 marching on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Marian Anderson sang from here when the the Daughters of the American Revolution denied her entrance to Constitution Hall on Easter Sunday 1939.

By 11:45 p.m. there were about 50 people beginning to gather together on the steps. There was a quiet peace broken by occasional fire works from across the city and celebratory horns honking on streets below. Barack Obama was slated to give his acceptance speech at midnight. Everyone was fiddling with Iphones and other gadgets tracking the news and trying to figure out how to get a radio signal. Finally, a guy from London pulled a real radio out of his coat pocket and set it down on the steps. As Obama made his way into Grant Park in Chicago, our radio savior pumped up the volume.

If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible; who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time; who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer.

I have to say that the small gathering broke into tears.

When Obama quoted Lincoln, there was a nod of recognition. “We are not enemies, but friends…though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection.” And then in a rhetorical sweep that seemed to heal 40 years of painful history, he echoed Dr. King.

The road ahead will be long. Our climb will be steep. We may not get there in one year or even one term, but America – I have never been more hopeful than I am tonight that we will get there. I promise you – we as a people will get there.

The increasingly damp crowd shared a good laugh when Obama said:

And to all those watching tonight from beyond our shores, from parliaments and palaces to those who are huddled around radios in the forgotten corners of our world – our stories are singular, but our destiny is shared, and a new dawn of American leadership is at hand.

As Obama’s victory speech came to an end, our tiny community clapped and hollered and whooped and did a little dance there on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. Strangers hugged each other, held each other, cried on each others shoulders. The Europeans in the crowd said how proud they were to be there and share this moment with America.

It was a magical moment.

I drove back through the streets of D.C. People were everywhere. Horns were honking in celebration. People were dancing on streetcorners and waving Obama signs. Dupont Circle was mobbed with revelers cheering and laughing. In front of the Ethiopian restaurant on 18th street, there was a crowd of men singing the “Ole Ole Ole” soccer song and waving signs. At the corner of 18th and Columbia, a guy was playing a guitar and dancing.

Before leaving the Lincoln Memorial, I walked to the steps where Dr. King preached on August 28, 1963, when I was two and a half months old. There’s a small engraving in the marble to mark the spot. One hundred years after Abraham Lincoln gave the Gettysburg Address, King said:

This sweltering summer of the Negro’s legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. … But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.

We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. They have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.

At about 1 a.m. I parked the car in the alley behind my house. The city was still ariot with joy. I figured it was time to dry off and get a good night’s sleep. … but my face was hurting from all the smiling.

Welcome world, to America’s “invigorating autumn.”.