Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Dining While Gay, and Other Crimes

Of all the things I've seen responding to the local Episcopalians departure from the American Anglican church, this one, forwarded to me by a colleague, is the sharpest. It was written by Jim Naughton.
"The members of Truro and the Falls Church have now declared that belonging to a church that permits gays and lesbians to become bishops is too great a tax on their conscience, while belonging to a church that believes gay people should be imprisoned for eating together in public is not.
"I can suggest three reasons that Bishop Martyn Minns and his flock may have taken this decision. The first is naked bigotry. The second is a willingness to trade the human rights of innocent Africans for a more advantageous position in the battle for control of the Anglican Communion. The third is a profoundly distorted understanding of who Jesus was and what he taught.
"I'd like to believe that the last of these reasons explains the majority of the votes, because I recognize that my own salvation may depend on God showing mercy to those of us who are sincere in our misapprehensions.
"But, if Bishop Minns and his followers do, indeed, believe that gay Nigerians should be imprisoned for visiting a restaurant together, they need to inform us whether they believe gay Americans should be imprisoned for similar activities. And if they do not support the criminalization of such behavior in the United States, they need to explain why they favor--or, at the very least, acquiesce--in depriving Nigerians of rights that Americans enjoy."

Monday, December 18, 2006

Who Do We Shoot? And How ...

When confronted with the overwhelming complexity of Dust Bowl agricultural economics, Pa Joad in The Grapes of Wrath, asked a great question: "who do we shoot?" Pa Joad came to mind when reading an article by Daniel Schrag, a Harvard climate scientist, lamenting the state of public debate about climate change. Having testitfied at a Senate hearing this month, Schrag wrote, "As our leaders accept the outrageous spectacle I saw the other day as just a normal day in Congress, we will have to take the first step without them." I just wonder how. How do citizens of a democracy -- so called -- take effective steps on huge, systemic issues when the public institutions of the democracy no longer function? Sure, if the people lead, the leaders will follow -- but how, exactly, does that happen on a scale large enough to make a difference? Who do we shoot? Just asking.