All posts by al77

Memorial Day 2017

Memorial Day originally was called Decoration Day – a Day to remember the Union soldiers who had died in the Civil War by strewing flowers on their graves. Later it became a day to remember all our country’s war dead. However, in more recent practice it’s bec primarily a weekend to celebrate the start of the vacation season.

We decided that this year, St. Paul’s will celebrate the holiday by focusing on the original purpose of remembering the fallen. We’ve expanded that to include not only those who died but also those who suffered injuries to body and soul, injuries that prevented them from returning to the life they had left behind. For this essay I’ll expand further to include all the war dead and war damaged.

By the time of the Civil War killing technology had advanced enough to produce great battlefield carnage. The victims were mainly young men. World War I saw the dawn of massive – and essentially futile – battles involving new technologies such as large artillery, tanks, poison gas. The death toll was so high that some prewar social customs had to be modified so they could be continued after the war in spite of the shortage of young men.


Music to cry by: Two songs by Eric Bogle, a Scot transplanted to Australia. Both are about WW I but the themes are universal. Green Fields of France mourns those who died while The Band Played Waltzing Matilda mourns those who came back broken.


By World War II the demographics of the victims changed dramatically. The advent of tactics designed to induce terror – the London Blitz, the firestorm bombings of Dresden, Tokyo, etc, then Hiroshima, Nagasaki, mostly killed civilians. Today’s ever expanding smaller scale wars continue to reduce ancient and modern cities to rubble. The primary direct and indirect casualties are women, children, and other noncombatants.

Therefore, on this, and on following Memorial Days, let’s remember, honor,and mourn all of God’s children who were killed or had their lives destroyed by war. All were God’s children!

Then let’s pray that enough of us work to bring God’s Kingdom of love, compassion, reconciliation – peace – to our only world before it’s too late! Both scripture and real world experience tells us that you can’t fight darkness with more darkness, violence with more violence, hate with more hate. Your only weapon is God’s love – the love that Jesus embodied. War is not the answer!

Transgender issues

We talk about LGBT people but mostly we mean LGB. Our society has reached the stage where, at least officially, it’s ok – and fairly safe – to be gay or lesbian. People look pretty much the same whether gay, lesbian or straight. As a result, you can be out as gay – but when you walk down the street you’re not automatically telling that to strangers. To come out as transgendered is different and much more difficult. Continue reading Transgender issues

St. Paul’s on the subject

[first posted in Blogs 1/14/2011]

The Episcopal church seems to make the headlines via parishes that leave because they don’t approve of gay bishops, gay priests, blessing of same-sex couples, etc. (Most don’t approve of women priests either – certainly not women bishops!) It’s happened here in Connecticut – and the court battles are not over. Fortunately a majority of the Episcopal bishops, priests and congregations in the US do not support the conservative agenda. (Unfortunately this is not the case in much of the rest of the world.)


However, what really matters to us as individuals is the parish itself. In most ways a parish is quite independent and sets its own agenda – including its view of the LGBT community. Here at St. Paul’s our basic view was settled a long time ago when an openly gay priest was installed. Those offended by the LGBT community left – and controversy left with them.

We have gay, lesbian and transgender parishioners and our previous priest was a lesbian. However, we are not a “gay church” we are a diverse church. You will find poor and rich (actually more like middle class comfortable), different occupations, different backgrounds (including different religious backgrounds), some racial diversity, and the full range of sexuality and gender identity. All this in a small, friendly church where everyone is a full member of the family (of course this includes a few slightly strange relatives)!

Large organizations, such as the Episcopal church, like to be safe and not make the membership too uncomfortable (remember the civil right era when the mainstream churches mostly had to be dragged into the struggle?). As we can see, the right wing does not compromise. It also does not allow for the possibility of any scriptural interpretation besides their own. As a result, those of us on the opposite side are expected to make all the compromises in order to keep the organization together. Under many circumstances compromise can be a very reasonable thing. However, no compromise can be justified when issues of justice are at stake. Although our main concern is what happens here in Willimantic and its surroundings, we do add our voice to this ongoing battle when possible. To illustrate, the following is a resolution passed by the vestry (Episcopal-speak for the council or board) in October 2006:

I. Resolved: that the Vestry of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Willimantic, CT, urges the Rt. Rev. Andrew Smith, Bishop of Connecticut, to lift immediately his inhibition regarding the blessing by clergy of same-sex unions and their officiating at civil unions.

II. Resolved: that the Vestry of St. Episcopal Church, Willimantic, CT, affirms our shared mission of Christian inclusiveness by endorsing the following paragraphs from a resolution recently adopted by the parishes of St. Francis Church, Stamford, and St. Paul’s on the Green, Norwalk:

We are committed to full inclusion of everyone, no matter who they are or where they may be on their faith journey, and we oppose any attempt to discriminate against any person based upon race, gender, age, sexual orientation, physical ability, or socio-economic status.

We will continue to invite those who are not yet here to experience God’s radical welcome as an Episcopal church doing church differently and functioning as the kind of Episcopal church we believe God expects us to be. We are firm in our understanding that in God’s economy there are no outcasts. And we welcome dialog with those who disagree with our perspective.”


Continue reading St. Paul’s on the subject