Posts Tagged ‘Politics’

The Madison Square Garden Revival Tent

Monday, November 4th, 2019

Talk has been going around the Episcopal Church that the Presiding Bishop would like to hold a revival in New York City next year, just before the 2020 election. It would take place in some large venue like Madison Square Garden or Yankee Stadium; one hopes the Garden, given the uncertainties of autumn weather.

I can’t say that I am filled with enthusiasm for this idea. When I was a boy, I was touched by a visit to a Billy Graham crusade in Boston. But, today, the idea seems a bit simplistic, not to say old-fashioned. I find it hard to imagine a skeptic or a non-religious person taking the opportunity to spend an evening with a bunch of church people.

On the other hand, Bishop Michael Curry is an extraordinary preacher. While some of his diocesan revivals have had mixed results, there is no doubt that the Episcopal Church could use some new life–not to mention, new blood. And there is no doubt that our nation could use all the religious energy it could get before the 2020 election.

I guess we will have to see where the Spirit leads us. —J. Douglas Ousley


Nations United

Monday, September 23rd, 2019

We who live in Manhattan are thinking a lot this week about the United Nations–not least, because world leaders and delegates to the annual General Assembly are tying up traffic all over our island!

And concerned citizens around the world should be thinking about how the United Nations might become more effective in promoting world peace. The organization currently seems helpless is resolving conflicts like the war in Yemen or the worldwide flood of refugees.

The Anglican Communion has had a representative at the UN for many years, but in recent years, little has been heard from that office. Anglican women from around the world come to a UN conference every spring (at considerable expense), but it is unclear what effect that meeting has on the welfare of the world.

Still, if there were no United Nations, we would have to invent it! Let’s hope that in the very near future, it will reinvent itself into a respected and effective voice for a better world. —J. Douglas Ousley


Decriminalization of Prostitution in New York State

Friday, July 26th, 2019

This post is from the Rev. Adrian Dannhauser and me:

Earlier this week on Tuesday, July 23, Incarnation hosted an educational forum on Bill A.8230/S.6419, which was introduced last month by Assembly Member Richard Gottfried and Senator Julia Salazar. The bill seeks to fully decriminalize prostitution in New York State.

We had a panel of experts who spoke in favor of the bill’s provision to decriminalize people who are in prostitution and against the bill’s other provisions to decriminalize sex buyers, facilitators of the sale of sex (i.e., pimps), and brothel keepers.

We anticipated and welcomed a large crowd made up of people with varying viewpoints on the issue. Handouts included a detailed legal analysis of the bill.  Audience Q&A included reading aloud written questions from both supporters and opponents of the bill.

Prior to the event, we were alerted to a planned protest by DecrimNY outside our forum. We shared this information with the 17th Precinct, and they arranged for two plain clothes officers to be present in the sanctuary.  From what we understand, a peaceful protest gathered outside during the event, and the 17th Precinct responded in a calm manner and in a way they deemed fit, including calling in additional officers.

When some of the protesters came inside near the end of the event, a panelist and survivor leader was speaking. The protesters were asked to comply with our written policy given to attendees that no protests or disruptive behavior would be permitted inside the church. Those who did not comply were escorted out.

While those who responded to the protest inside the church acted responsibly, we are deeply saddened that it came to this.  The issue of decriminalizing prostitution is an emotional one that involves people who have suffered greatly in many ways. We understand that conversation ensued outside, and that members of the Episcopal Diocese of New York Task Force Against Human Trafficking — the event sponsor — ministered to some of the protesters.

The Episcopal Church respects the dignity of every human being, is LGBTQ affirming, and seeks to serve the most vulnerable in accordance with the command of Jesus. We are grateful that there is common ground between activists both for and against the bill — decriminalizing those in prostitution — and pray for a way forward that reduces victimization in the sex trade and holds those that do harm accountable. —J. Douglas Ousley


On the Side of the Muslims

Saturday, March 16th, 2019

My last post might have been interpreted as being anti-Muslim. I certainly didn’t mean to imply that prejudice against Islam is somehow acceptable. Prominent Muslim leaders are often the target of such prejudice, and we Christians should defend them against such attacks.

Which brings us tragically to New Zealand, and how a climate of anti-Muslim sentiment can breed horrendous violence. Of course, there was just one fanatic who killed. But it took a village to raise him up, and a culture and social media that freely allow hate speech can’t escape blame.

Christians have to stand up against this anti-religious speech, however mild or casual or common it might be. And we also have to denounce anti-religious speech that is also racist and supremacist.

It’s often hard to determine “what would Jesus do.” In this case–in this Western culture–it isn’t. —J. Douglas Ousley


On the Side of the Jews

Monday, March 11th, 2019

Antisemitism, as many have noted, is on the rise world-wide. Perennially confused with anti-Israel sentiment, it is increasing throughout Europe, especially in the UK, France, and Germany–countries with supposedly liberal democratic values.

The remarks by the Michigan congresswoman recently would never have been countenanced, had they been about African-Americans–or about Muslims, for that matter.

Let it be said without equivocation: prejudice against Jews is morally abhorrent. This is true whatever political views one has about the State of Israel.

For Christians, there is only one side for us to choose: the side of the Jews. —J. Douglas Ousley


Why Socialism? Why Now?

Tuesday, March 5th, 2019

This was the topic of last night’s discussion at the Men’s Group. We especially focused on the distinction between 1960’s-era socialism (what I call, “hard socialism) and today’s socialism (“soft socialism.”) The former is a system of planned political economy with the state owning and controlling the means of production. The latter calls for more governmental regulation and control of society, especially in such areas as healthcare.

Debate was spirited between proponents of big government and defenders of individual freedom. What was perhaps most interesting was the fact that most of us find ourselves as Christians in the middle of the spectrum between hard socialism/communism on the one hand and unregulated capitalism on the other.

Since the middle is the preferred place for the Anglican Way, as well as for the Broad Church movement in which Incarnation was founded, perhaps this is the best place to be. —J. Douglas Ousley


Out of the Armchair

Tuesday, February 19th, 2019

While I still hold the somewhat controversial position that politics should usually be kept out of the pulpit, I am of the opposite persuasion when it comes to politics in the secular arena.

As the divide between extreme left and extreme right seems to get wider by the minute, American Christians who care about their country are obligated to weigh in with their own beliefs. For citizens, politics isn’t a mere spectator sport.

Especially if we find ourselves in the under-represented center of the political spectrum, we are bound to make our views heard. We need to find candidates to support and voices to be supported–long before the polls open. —J. Douglas Ousley


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