“Every generation needs a new revolution.”
-Thomas Jefferson

"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."
-Martin Luther King Jr.

Staceyann Chin, National Equality March 10/10/09 photo: Ed Needham

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

What a Difference a Day Makes (in DC for Same Sex Marriage, Charity Employee Benefits, and the Catholic Church)

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.

On Wednesday, March 3rd, loving couples in DC will be able to be married regardless of their genitalia. As a result, DC employees of Catholic Charities learned that spouses will no longer be covered by the company's new health plan.

Let's break this down, shall we?
  1. As- decent Americans are coming to realize that marriage may have more to do with mutual respect, partnership, commitment, responsibility and love and less to do with which public restroom one uses,
  2. Therefor- charity employees working for peanuts to help those in DC with the greatest needs and scarcest resources stay fed, clothed and housed will not be able to provide health care for their own spouses,
  3. Because- the church that holds the purse-strings has decided it is better to blaspheme the very essence of Christianity, to love thy neighbor, to do unto others as you would have done unto you, - in order to adhere the public to some man-made decree about sexuality while they have been 'doing unto' little boys in darkened vestries for centuries on a global basis.
That is pretty much the deal, isn't it?

It isn't the deal with World Vision. Who? World Vision, as Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Nicholas Kristof points out in his recent NYT piece, is "the largest U.S.-based international relief and development organization" with "40,000 staff members in nearly 100 countries." They are also a "Christian organization (with strong evangelical roots) whose budget has roughly tripled over the last decade."

World Vision marches to the beat of a different (dare I say, decidedly Christian) drummer. At present, the man with the drum is Richard Stearns, head of World Vision in the US. Mr. Stearn, also an author, "begins his fascinating book, “The Hole in Our Gospel,” with an account of a visit a decade ago to Uganda, where he met a 13-year-old AIDS orphan who was raising his younger brothers by himself." In his book, he observes "What sickened me most was this question: where was the Church?” he writes. “Where were the followers of Jesus Christ in the midst of perhaps the greatest humanitarian crisis of our time? Surely the Church should have been caring for these ‘orphans and widows in their distress.’ (James 1:27). Shouldn’t the pulpits across America have flamed with exhortations to rush to the front lines of compassion?"

What World Vision doesn't do is convert. It is strictly forbidden in it's bylaws. If they awaken any awareness of grace in those they comfort and care for, it is by power of example alone. Now there's a concept.

Kristof goes on to observe "Mr. Stearns argues that evangelicals were often so focused on sexual morality and a personal relationship with God that they ignored the needy" and that "[i]n one striking passage, Mr. Stearns quotes the prophet Ezekiel as saying that the great sin of the people of Sodom wasn’t so much that they were promiscuous or gay as that they were “arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy.” (Ezekiel 16:49.) "[A]rrogant, overfed and unconcerned [?]" Jerry Falwell must be turning over in his grave.

Yes, the Catholic Church would do well to take a few pages from World Vision's playbook. But lets not hold our breath. Entrenched doesn't even begin to describe the unwillingness of the Vatican to open their eyes to the world around them or open their hearts to the meaning of Christ. Even the most optimistic of Vatican III proponents would roll their eyes with a "Ne, Deo, Ne."

The hard truth to all this is the Catholic Church and Christianists the likes of Pat Robertson and Rick Warren make it real easy for many of us to turn our backs on faith altogether. Kristof points out "[t]he American view of evangelicals is still shaped by preening television blowhards and hypocrites who seem obsessed with gays and fetuses. One study cited in the book found that even among churchgoers ages 16 to 29, the descriptions most associated with Christianity were “antihomosexual,” “judgmental,” “too involved in politics,” and “hypocritical.” Given the above, is it really any wonder the words of Hitchens and Dawkins resonate so resoundingly these days?

Amidst all this hullabaloo, however, World Vision quietly carries out God's work on Earth and churches across the country equate being "open, welcoming and affirming" regardless of sexual orientation to following in the footsteps of Christ. These stories, unfortunately, are far more rarely shared than the titillating obscenities of hypocrites hiding behind crosses that make the headlines as they have in DC.

Kristof, no starry-eyed dreamer himself, concludes wondering "[i]f secular liberals can give up some of their snootiness, and if evangelicals can retire some of their sanctimony, then we all might succeed together in making greater progress against common enemies of humanity, like illiteracy, human trafficking and maternal mortality."

Agreed. And maybe, just maybe, in the process, experience a hint of grace, a moment of selflessly doing what is right and good. And Christian. That would be good, too.

Read the full piece by Nicholas Kristof in the NYT here.

1 comment:

Will (Wolf) said...

Great Blog!!!

Thanks for the invite over. You have some excellent posts!

I added you to my Blog list. I hope that you don;t mind.

Cambridge huh? I lived in Dorchester for 5 years. LOL!