“Your outer journey may contain a million steps; your inner journey only has one: the step you are taking right now.” – from The Power of Now, by Eckhart Tolle (p. 73)
“But some things you know deep in your heart: that all human beings are made in the image of God…” That’s from Andrew Sullivan’s wonderful essay on yesterday’s historic Supreme Court ruling. It also includes a phrase that is the title of these pages and expresses a belief I’ve “known in my heart” for as long as I can remember. The new header above — a double-rainbow after a Spring thunderstorm here in Florida just a few weeks ago — seems to me symbolic.
The lower, brighter rainbow is more clear, more brilliant. It seems closer to the Earth, closer to home, and for me symbolizes the wonderful progress God’s LGBT children have made in seeking recognition and acceptance within civil society. The upper rainbow — less clear, less brilliant, but still there — to me symbolizes the progress that has yet to be made within the Church. I pray for the day when both rainbows will be brilliant and bright, expressive of the full diversity that is within God’s human family, and the welcome, love and acceptance that all People have for one another.
“There is no secret moral behavior required for knowing or pleasing God, or what some call “salvation,” beyond becoming a loving person in mind, heart, body, and soul yourself. Then you will see all that you need to see!”
From today’s meditation by Richard Rohr, OFM:
Ireland is a country with a huge Catholic majority. Though recent data indicate a decline in those who identify as Catholic, at least 84% of the population still do (Central Statistics Office Ireland, 2011). Ireland has also just become the first nation in the world to approve same-sex marriage by popular referendum. This historic change came about not by legislation passed by elected officials and not by judicial decree. It came about through the most democratic tool available to a free people.
Termed a “national act of inclusion” by former tánaiste (deputy prime minster) Eamon Gilmore, in Catholic theological language Friday’s vote can also be seen as an act expressing the sensus fidelium (sense of the faithful) in this overwhelmingly Roman Catholic country where religious faith is deeply embedded in the lives and culture of the people.
Is there a lesson here for Catholic leaders both in Ireland and around the globe? Perhaps this vote is telling the world that as Catholic Christians, Irish men and women have a deeper understanding of the Gospel than those whose role it is to preach it. Perhaps this vote is telling the world that the Gospel of Jesus — so strongly interwoven into the everyday lives of a faithful, evangelized people — challenges people everywhere to recognize that all persons, regardless of sexual orientation (or race or ethnicity or language or skin color or….), are children of God called to live lovingly, openly and honestly — just as God created us.
As an Irish-American, I am so very proud today of the country where my grandparents were born; so very proud of my many cousins and “relations” whose grandparents never left “the auld sod” and today are part of a new Ireland that has spoken loudly, clearly and forcefully.
Last Sunday we went to Lovers Key State Park for a little pre-vacation sunning. There were several large flocks of shore birds there, including Royal Terns, Black Skimmers, and Ring-billed Gulls. There’s also a pair of nesting Ospreys near the southern end of Lovers Key. Here are two photo sets showing these Shore Birds and Ospreys. (The two pictures of the 2 Royal Terns are worth commenting on: I presume this was a courtship ritual, as the terns have the distinctive black breeding plumage on the crown of their heads, but for at least ten minutes, one was trying to get the attention of the other; (s)he was either not interested or playing hard to get!)
Here’s the slideshow of the two Osprey and their nest just off the beach. They appear to be on the smaller side for the species (at least to my untrained eye).
A Facebook friend (FBF) recently shared this article from On Faith, an interview with theologian Walter Brueggemann. As the interview demonstrates, Prof. Brueggemann — one of the most influential Old Testament scholars in the U.S. — is pretty clear about how much of contemporary American culture is out of sync with an accurate understanding of the message of Scripture and the Gospel of Jesus. I suspect there are many who would be afflicted by his words, calling to mind that old adage that one of the purposes of the Gospel is “to comfort the afflicted and to afflict the comfortable.” I particularly find Prof. Bureggemann’s notion of neighborliness on point, especially living in a part of the country where so very, very many people live in “gated and guarded communities,” neighborhoods where entry is limited only to residents. This map (from Gated Communities: Are you in or out? Naples Daily News, July 26, 2013) shows how much of the area in this part of SW Florida is “off limits” to neighbors outside the gate.
On another issue, I was particular edified to read Prof. Brueggemann’s response to the first of two questions about LGBTQ people and how many who claim to be Christian treat them. Here’s what was asked, and Brueggeman’s first words in response.
You talked about the poor and healthcare. What about the LGBTQ community, especially when people use the Old Testament to argue against that community?
The discussion needs to start with what it means to be made in the image of God [emphasis added]. The confession of Christian faith is that all of God’s human creatures are made in the image of God. That means that they are to be treated with dignity, offered maintenance and security, as is necessary.
Brueggemann claims that the starting point of this discussion must be the recognition that LGBTQ people are made in the image of God. That understanding is the very reason for the title of this blog. If we are not able to see in ourselves and others a reflection of the Divine, then what possible hope is there for dealing well with any of the myriad problems this generation or any generation faces? If we can’t see the presence of God in every person — especially those whom we so readily label as “other” — then how can Christians claim to be followers of the One who came to lead all people to God?
After briefly dispatching with concerns about what some of the various texts of Scripture supposedly say about homosexuality, Brueggemann’s concluding words are worth repeating:
The texts that are determinative are those that talk about the love of God that has been shown to us in Jesus. We can’t compromise that.