One Less Not Yet: On December 6, about 150 people gathered at Old First Presbyterian Church in San Francisco for the ordination extra ordinem of Pr. Jay Wilson, a transgender pastor called by First United Lutheran Church to serve as Assistant Director of the Welcome Ministry.
Even though there is no official policy regarding the service of transgender people as clergy, Pr. Wilson was removed from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) candidacy process because he is a transgender person.
First United is an independent Lutheran congregation, having been expelled from the ELCA for its role in the 1990 extraordinary ordinations of Pr. Ruth Frost, Pr. Phyllis Zillhart, and Pr. Jeff Johnson.
Pr. Wilson has worked with various organizations on diversity awareness, sexuality and gender identity issues, anti-oppression, and community access.
In Ordination, Anti-Oppression Work, and Worship he wrote:
I'm particularly aware of the privilege involved with reaching the point where ordination is possible. The reality is, most people in our world, whether called by God to public ministry or not, do not have access to graduate degrees, financial support to take "good experience" internships and jobs, or the healthcare that middle class family employment provides to stay healthy enough to get there.
[I]tís important to me entering into a more privileged power arrangement as a pastor to be clear both about the power that comes with the office as well as the ways in which it has been abused in our history, how I benefit from that, and what I intend to do to avoid abusing that power and to give it up when possible to empower others.
And this is where we move from what Lutherans traditionally call "the law," or the brokenness of our world, to the Good News of the gospel. We have a God whose history and relationship has dealt with this very problem, a record of which exists for us in Jesusís reconciling work, we are moved into a relationship with God that allows us to love, reconcile, and simply be. We Lutherans speak of being "saved by grace through faith" in Jesus Christ, meaning that it's not the work we do or even the belief, but the relationship with a faithful God which brings us life and wholeness.We donít earn Godís grace through our working for justice, rather, itís what happens when we allow Godís grace to move through us in true, radical reconciliation with our neighbors. We, together, form the body of Christ on earth.

Victim or the Crime?: On December 5, Cardinal Roger M. Mahony and the Auxiliary Bishops of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles (Bishop Thomas Curry, Bishop Gerald Wilkerson, Bishop Edward Clark, Bishop Gabino Zavala, Bishop Alexander Salazar, Bishop Oscar Solis) published A pastoral message to homosexual Catholics in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. The letter reads in part:
The passage of Proposition 8 in the State of California does not diminish in any way the importance of you, our homosexual brothers and sisters in the Church. Nor does it lessen your personal dignity and value as full members of the Body of Christ...
Proposition 8 was not crafted as a concern for civil rights but as an effort to resist a redefinition of marriage. "Marriage" is not a merely religious concept, but is so fundamental to human experience that it cannot be redefined legally. The Catholic Church has historically opposed attempts to deny or to limit the exercise of the basic rights which are known through the natural law and which are expounded in Sacred Scriptures and in the charters and declarations of world bodies. Our efforts in this country to espouse equal rights for all citizens have frequently created adverse reactions for our Church...
Proposition 8 was never intended, directly or indirectly, to lessen the value and importance of gay and lesbian persons. Your intrinsic value as human beings and as brothers and sisters continues without change. If we had ever thought that the intent of this proposition was to harm you or anyone in the State of California, we would not have supported it. We are personally grateful for the witness and service of so many dedicated and generous homosexual Catholics. We pledge our commitment to safeguard your dignity.

Extravagance (Luxuria): Who says Lutherans don't know about Luxury? When you want to indulge yourself, nothing else says extravagance as boldly as the Official BASEBALL CAP!

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Buy books, music, and other Lutheran stuff now from the Store! (Frequently cheaper than Augsburg-Fortress or Concordia.)

Pr. Sophie is all a-Twitter. Again.
Pr. Sophie's Tweets:

    Hot Dish Hotline: "We cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard." What have you seen or heard that other people really need to know about? Use the Hot Dish Hotline to submit your item online.

    We wonder what explanation the bishops could offer to those who feel that their civil rights, their dignity, and their intrinsic value as human beings have in fact been diminished by the passage of Prop. 8.
    Perhaps this is an opportunity for the bishops to do a little anti-oppression work.

    Prop 8 - The Musical: On December 3, Prop 8 - The Musical, a mini-musical by composer Marc Shaiman debuted on the Internet and received more than 1 million hits in its first day.
    Among the cast are Jack Black (as Jesus), Nicole Parker, Neil Patrick Harris, John C. Reilly, Allison Janney, Andy Richter, Maya Rudolph, Margaret Cho, Rashida Jones, and Sarah Chalke.
    In the musical, Jesus presents a version of the Shellfish Argument and is unpersuasive. (With our colleagues at the Shellfish Blog, we would prefer that people avoid the shellfish argument, even as a caricature.)Ultimately the warring factions unite behind the insight that same-sex marriage could save the economy.

    TransTorah: A new web site, TransTorah has been launched to collect trans and genderqueer Jewish resources and make them accessible to anyone who wants them. TransTorah is a resource to assist Jewish communities in becoming sanctuaries for people of all genders and to help people of all genders to fully access and transform Jewish tradition.
    TransTorah is a collective of like-minded individuals, including rabbinical student Reuben Zellman, Maggid Jhos Singer, Rabbi Elliot Kukla, Max K. Strassfeld, rabbinical student Ari Lev Fornari, and artist Micah Bazant. Among the resources available from TransTorah are ritual, liturgy, sermons, commentary on the torah, and educational materials on gender diversity and judaism.
    Trans Etiquette/Respect/Support 101 is a good starting point.

    Translation of Remains: The Catholic Church in England and Wales (CCEW) reports that the remains of Venerable John Henry Cardinal Newman have been exhumed from the grave in Rednal that the cardinal shared with his long-time companion Fr. Ambrose St. John. On Sunday November 2, following the High Mass of All Saints celebrated by Archbishop Vincent Nichols, the casket containing relics of Cardinal Newman, along with items recovered from the grave at Rednal, were solemnly placed in the chapel of St. Charles Borromeo, at the Birmingham Oratory.
    The relics, including a lock of Cardinal Newman's hair, were surrounded by unbleached candles to signify the presence of the remains of a Christian who has died, but is not yet honoured by the Church as a saint.
    The casket reliquary will remain in the chapel while the process of beatification for Cardinal Newman continues in Rome.
    In August, we reported on the controversy surrounding the re-burial of Cardinal Newmans' remains.

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