Posts Tagged ‘Politics’

Time for a Little Diversity

Monday, November 19th, 2018

The Bishop of Albany, the Rt. Rev. William Love has issued a pastoral letter that is receiving much comment in the church and secular press. In the letter, Bishop Love forbids same-sex marriage in his diocese, even though these rites are legal in New York State. Bishop Love seems to be the only Episcopal bishop in the entire United States to make this ruling.

I myself don’t agree with his reasoning from very traditional grounds–including invoking Satan, which doesn’t do much to promote dialogue.

However, Bishop Love’s position in itself was the position of the entire Christian community a century ago, and it remains the majority view of Christians worldwide. So while I am sorry gays and lesbians will need to travel outside the Diocese of Albany for religious marriage, I hope Bishop Love will not be drummed out of the Church. I know him personally to be a kind and generous man–more generous than his written statement suggests. Surely there is enough room in our Episcopal Church to include him. —J. Douglas Ousley


The Votes Are In

Wednesday, November 7th, 2018

After much vitriol, the mid-term elections seem to have passed quietly into history, with something for everyone to be happy about and some reasons to be disappointed. As usual, qualified people lost and unqualified people won.

There was little specifically religious in the debates as far as I could tell. All Americans could be happy that so many of us voted–and, of course, that we won’t have to look at campaign commercials for a while.

Let us pray for a period of calm and maybe even some reconciliation. In any event, we can be grateful that democracy won. —J. Douglas Ousley


Remembering Eleanor

Monday, October 15th, 2018

Last week, I prefaced a panel discussion on the UN Declaration of Human Rights with a few remarks about Eleanor Roosevelt.

Mrs. Roosevelt was a member of Incarnation; she was confirmed here in 1903. She and her family attended Incarnation occasionally, and we have a ramp that was built to accommodate FDR’s wheelchair.

Eleanor Roosevelt was the guiding light and driving force behind the UN Declaration which was adopted in 1948, after much debate and many meetings. The panel discussion at the Roosevelt House on 65th Street included a United Nations official who worked for human rights. He made the interesting point that these rights were being increased in the years following the adoption of the Declaration–up until 9/11.

Since 2001, rights issues have taken a back seat to security issues. For example, a nation may ally with a dictatorship because this will help its own security; the rights of the ally’s citizens are ignored.

In my talk, I pointed out that Eleanor Roosevelt’s parish was founded as part of the Broad Church movement in the 19th Century. We may hope and pray that Incarnation’s tradition of concern for the freedom of all human beings, regardless of race or religion, will not be overshadowed by other concerns. —J. Douglas Ousley


A Great Episcopalian

Monday, August 27th, 2018

While John McCain attended a Baptist church with his wife, he never officially left the Episcopal Church in which he was raised. He often spoke of his faith in God, especially as it helped him to endure the long years in the brutal Hanoi prison.

Moreover, McCain’s funeral will be held in the National Cathedral, which is of course Episcopalian.

So I am going to claim him for our church–as an example of courage, generosity, openness, unselfishness, and just plain niceness. All Christians and other people of faith can be encouraged by his example.

A great Episcopalian. While he was only tangentially an Episcopalian, he was unquestionably great. —J. Douglas Ousley


Correction: It Matters What We Say

Monday, July 2nd, 2018

I want to correct something I said last week. On the contrary to what I wrote, it does matter what we say.

As Jesus said, it is “what comes out of the mouth” that counts. Media and especially social media have been critical in calling attention to the plight of migrant families. Earlier in the year, the voices of abused women toppled many powerful men from their influential positions.

I was wrong. Jesus was right. —J. Douglas Ousley


Those Daring Victorians

Thursday, May 31st, 2018

Last night, the New York chapter of the Victorian Society met for their annual meeting in the Church of the Incarnation.

Part of the meeting’s purpose was to give out a number of awards and grants for historic preservation efforts in New York City. As the awards were distributed, the work of many of the service organizations honored was mentioned.

Especially notable were the efforts in the 19th century to establish racial equality and women’s rights. Museum exhibits were cited that recorded the numerous activities of the abolitionists and the suffragettes.

We often forget that the Victorian era was not just a time of conservative sexual mores. It was also a period of intense activism–not, perhaps, unlike our own. —J. Douglas Ousley


An Historic Place

Tuesday, April 24th, 2018

Today, I joined a group of New York historians and history buffs to witness the dedication of a plaque which will mark the first home shared by Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt after their marriage. The brownstone is at 125 East 36th Street; Murray Hill residents were active in the effort to obtain the plaque from a city historic preservation group.

The speakers at the ceremony extolled the achievements of both Roosevelts. They particularly highlighted Eleanor and Franklin’s leadership in the areas of justice and human rights.

I was glad to be publicly thanked for attending, since I represented the church where Eleanor was confirmed. Of all the illustrious former members of Incarnation, we can be most proud of the Roosevelts–as one speaker noted, perhaps the two most important Americans of the twentieth century. —J. Douglas Ousley.


Carrying On

Tuesday, October 10th, 2017

Now being discussed is a federal law that would essentially make it legal to carry weapons in every state. Someone with an “open” or “concealed carry” permit valid in one state would be able to bear his weapon in every other state.

The value of this proposed law is not entirely clear to me. Even if the 22,000 concertgoers in Las Vegas had been armed, it’s not clear how effective they would have been in shooting back at the sniper on the 32nd floor. Even an armed security guard at his door apparently couldn’t stop the man. Moreover, carrying weapons increases the chances of suicide and escalating quarrels.

I recognize that the Second Amendment is not about to be repealed. I know clergy who own weapons for hunting and I have friends who have pistols for personal protection in their homes.

But carry permits–open or concealed–are surely superfluous for the vast majority of Americans. —J. Douglas Ousley


Fire and Fury

Wednesday, August 9th, 2017

Following the President’s threat against North Korea yesterday, a CNN correspondent was reporting from Hawaii. She was an expert in nuclear war damage and gave a long list of things Hawaiians should do in the event of a North Korean nuclear attack. For example, if they are in the city, they should go to the basement of the biggest building around; if they are in the country, they should go into caves.

A later commentator observed that this might have been an extreme reaction. War was not that imminent, he felt.

Whoever is right, the situation is alarming to any American. I was reminded of the nuclear war nightmares I had growing up during the Cold War of the 1950’s.

Whoever is right, Christians everywhere should be praying with all their might for peace. —J. Douglas Ousley

 


Words Fail

Monday, July 31st, 2017

Even the bleep-friendly media have been shocked by the language emanating recently from the White House. One such speaker terms his vocabulary, “colorful.” Christians are appalled; non-puritanical unbelievers are upset or, at best, amused.

Many appropriate Scripture verses suggest themselves. Jesus: “Let your yes be a plain yes, and your no no.” (Mt. 5.37) “Speak the truth in love.” (Eph. 4.15)

But the only verses that seem relevant to the current administration seem the many passages about conflict and brother being set against brother (Lk 12.53, etc).

Meanwhile, beyond all the White House psycho-drama, there are “wars, and rumors of wars.” (Mt. 24.6)–J. Douglas Ousley