Extraordinary and Straight: We hear through the grapevine that Pr. Susan Strouse, the ELCA pastor who serves First United Lutheran Church (SF), has been admitted to the roster of Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries.
The ELCA regards Pr. Strouse as "on leave from call" because the congregation she serves is an independent Lutheran church. (First United was expelled from the ELCA in 1995 for its role in the calling and ordaining Pastors Frost, Johnson and Zillhart in 1990.) As a general rule ELCA pastors may be on leave from call for three years and after that are liable to be dropped from the clergy roster. Pr. Strouse has served First United since December, 2004.
In February we noted the Sierra Pacific Synod Council's offer of a conditional synodical call: Pr. Strouse could have the call on the condition that First United applied for membership in the synod. We do not know the current status of that offer.
Pr. Strouse becomes the first straight (though, in truth, our fact checkers were too shy to confirm this) pastor admitted to the ELM roster. This, we hear, departs from a long-standing practice. According to our sources, a number of straight ally clergy and seminarians have applied for admittance to the ELM roster to protest ELCA policy regarding LGBT clergy. To date, these applicants have been denied because other opportunities to be rostered for Lutheran ministry are available to them.
The Presbyterian Fallacy: On October 2, the nine-member Permanent Judicial Commission (PJC) of the Pittsburgh Presbytery unanimously ruled that the Rev. Janet Edwards, a Presbyterian minister in Pittsburgh, had violated neither Scripture nor the constitution of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) when she presided at the marriage of two women.
The PJC rule unanimously that the constitutions of the PC (USA) and the state of Pennsylvania define marriage as an act between a man and a woman, and consequently, the rite Edwards performed could not possibly have been a wedding ceremony.
In April of this year, the Permanent Judicial Commission of the General Assembly (GAPJC), the PC (USA)’s highest court, issued a similar ruling in the case of the Rev. Jane Adams Spahr. The GAPJC ruled that Spahr had not violated denominational law when she officiated at weddings of lesbian couples in 2004 and 2005. The GAPJC ruled that the ceremonies Spahr performed were not marriages.
As reported by the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, the decision as read by PJC Chairman Rev. Stewart Pollock declares:
It can’t be an offense to the constitution to attempt to do the impossible.
(This is an interesting point on which the Presbyterian Church and the Vatican disagree: see General Decree Regarding the Delict of Attempted Sacred Ordination of a Woman which imposes excommunication for attempting something which the Roman Catholic church believes impossible.)
Frankly, we feel that Pr. Edwards was exonerated for the wrong reason. We are more readily persuaded by her argument that PC (USA) has not prohibited same-sex wedding ceremonies and that the church's statement that pastors "should not" perform same-sex marriages are advisory and not binding.
The PJC's reasoning that the definition of marriage is inviolable looks to us like a variation on the Fallacy of Necessity, but there's no need to take our word for it, you can check the list of fallacies and decide for yourself.
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No Milk Day: We would have missed this if it hadn't been for the Catholic News Agency. On October 4, Callifornia Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed bill AB 2567 that would have designated May 22 as Harvey Milk Day in honor of the gay San Francisco Supervisor who was assassinated at San Francisco City Hall on November 27, 1978. California recognizes several "Days of Special Significance" on which public schools are encouraged to commemorate contributions by community leaders. It was hoped that Harvey Milk Day would allow schools to conduct activities fostering respect for all and educate students about a civil rights leader who is often omitted from history lessons.
Governor Schwarzenegger offered this explanation of his veto:
I respect the author’s intent to designate May 22nd as ‘Harvey Milk Day’ and a day of special significance for California public schools and educational institutions to honor Harvey Milk as an important community leader and public official in the city and county of San Francisco. However, I believe his contributions should continue to be recognized at the local level by those who were most impacted by his contributions. For this reason, I am unable to sign this bill.
The Odd Couple: Jesus and Buddha are alive and well and living together in a cheap apartment in the Tachikawa district of Tokyo. Or at least, that's the story as told in Saint Young Men, a manga created by Hikaru Nakamura (a woman, not to be confused with Hikaru Nakamura, the chess grandmaster, who is a man).
Together Jesus and Buddha encounter modern life in Japan, they discover the Internet, they visit amusement parks and public saunas, they shop.
Jesus wastes money, writes a blog, and keeps his underwear in the fridge. He wears T-shirts that say 父と私と精霊 ("Dad, Me and the Holy Spirit"). There's a GPS device in his crown of thorns, and girls mistake him for Johnny Depp.
Buddha is "economical", enjoys cooking and cleaning, scolds Jesus for not doing the dishes, and though a vegetarian, fixes meat dishes for Jesus' lunch box.
We would not presume to say what any of it means. "Are they straight?" we asked, but our hapless fact checkers, unable to read Japanese, could not say.
First Course: Curl Your Fingers: If you watch the Travel Channel between September 29 and October 12, you might see a television ad for the ELCA.
According to Kristi S. Bangert, executive director, ELCA Communication Services, the limited run of television spots is intended to
give ELCA members an idea of what it would be like to see this church's ministry stories being told in a very public way. We hope that through television, billboards and print media, members of the ELCA will be equipped to own and tell this church's story, the story of what God is doing in us and through us for the sake of the world.
The ad campaign is made possible in part by a grant from Thrivent.
The ads are also featured in the Our Brand section of the ELCA web site.
We'd feel much better about this if there were some assurance that no fingers were lost in the cutting of those carrots.
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