For the last decade or so, for the Pride parade in June, the pastors’ van has strewn with helium balloons and other garlands. The junior and senior high kids, along with some adults, arrange the decorations before getting into parade position with some other local Presbyterians.
Someone who watched the festivities noted that the faith community was particularly very well represented this year. I marched, and the Daughter was one of the folks holding the denominational banner.
The route goes from Washington Park; down State Street, past a massive contingent from our church waving us on; across Lark Street, where you can really see the panorama of participants and supporters; bypassing the one guy with a sign and bullhorn telling us we’re all going to hell; up Madison Avenue; then back into Washington Park.
Oddly, the pastors do not drive around regularly with balloons on their vehicle. So once we’ve parked, it becomes incumbent on us to undecorate.
Still, do you know what else balloons facilitate? Making people happy. Two competing schools of thought. I took groups of two or three balloons and offered them to passersby, most of whose faces lit up when I handed them the small bouquets.
I was operating on the slightly irrational theory that people who are savvy about LGBTQ+ rights would be likewise “woke” about environmental issues.
The Daughter took a dozen or so home herself, on a CDTA bus, no less, and the balloons died on the living room floor of natural causes, not stuck inside some bird or tangled in a power line.
“In 2008, 47 such students were admitted who had lower grades or test scores than Fisher. Forty-two of them were white. Only five were people of color.
“Fisher and her lawyer Blum were not challenging the admission of the 42 white students.
“Instead, Fisher’s argument was narrowly that she should have been admitted instead of one of those students of color. It was the case that collapsed any distinction between opposing affirmative action and demanding that white people be given preference.”
There were huge Google spikes in search inquiries for “What is the EU?” in the UK, after the polling closed but before the results were announced. Of course, this doesn’t mean it was just the folks who voted for the annoying portmanteau Brexit who were looking it up; it may also been the 28% who didn’t bother voting at all. The fervent nationalism, anti-immigrant and anti-elite drove the anti-EU agenda.
After the massacre in Orlando, there was a boring conversation about whether the events constituted terrorism. Naturallymit does. From the FBI:
“Domestic terrorism” means activities with the following three characteristics: Involve acts dangerous to human life that violate federal or state law; Appear intended (i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population; (ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or (iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination. or kidnapping; and Occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the U.S.
SO the church shootings in Charleston, SC: terrorism. But one should balk at limiting the term to those actions perpetrated by a Muslim.
This is clear when you hear the primary complaint about the sit-in, which is that it was just a publicity stunt. Obviously, they are not versed in non-violent direct action, for OF COURSE it was a publicity stunt. Most protests are.
Forty-nine people were murdered at the Pulse nightclub primarily from a Sig Sauer (modeled in the AK-47, for the pedantic who try to negate the gun control debate with semantics.) Then a Senator from Connecticut, who filibustered for four bills to be voted on; there was a vote, and they were all defeated. The sit-in created a tipping point.
The flaws in the various bills can be discussed. But I think there’s some reasonable bill that would ban assault weapons, get background checks for those buying weapons at gun shows, have a seven-day background check for those who are on the no-fly list to ascertain if they really represent a risk – the aforementioned John Lewis was once on the roster. The NRA has essentially blocked the Centers for Disease Control from getting funding to study the issue of gun violence on communities. A bill would require what has become a dirty word; compromise.
This is a picture of the remains of a banner set on fire on the front lawn of the Albany (NY) Damien Center’s temporary home at the city’s First Lutheran Church this past week. As the Facebook comment read: “In the wake of the Orlando tragedy, it is very disheartening to have this happen in our local community. We appreciate all of our community’s support and love extended and stand in unity with our LGBT community during this time.”
The First Presbyterian Church in Albany, NY is celebrating 20 years of being a More Light community, which means “seeking the full participation of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people of faith in the life, ministry, and witness of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)”
For the service on June 5, our guest preacher, and leader in the adult education class, was Tony De La Rosa, the interim executive director of the Presbyterian Mission Agency for the denomination.
Tony admitted that he struggled with the recommended readings, or liturgy, for the date. Both 1 Kings 17:17-24 and Luke 7:11-17 involved women seeming to lose their children, only to have Elijah and Jesus, respectively, bring their sons back to life. How would this fit in with a More Light message?
For about a decade, between 1984 and the mid-1990s and before better HIV drugs and more enlightened medical care for AIDS patients effectively rendered her obsolete, Burks cared for hundreds of dying people, many of them gay men who had been abandoned by their families. She had no medical training, but she took them to their appointments, picked up their medications, helped them fill out forms for assistance, and talked them through their despair.
Sometimes she paid for their cremations. She buried over three dozen of them with her own two hands, after their families refused to claim their bodies. For many of those people, she is now the only person who knows the location of their graves.
In both of the Biblical tales, the mothers were overjoyed to get their sons back. Yet these young men in Arkansas with AIDS were abandoned by their families.
Tony read much of this next part:
Burks.. was 25 and a young mother when she went to University Hospital in Little Rock to help care for a friend who had cancer. Her friend eventually went through five surgeries, Burks said, so she spent a lot of time that year parked in hospitals. That’s where she was the day she noticed the door, one with “a big, red bag” over it. It was a patient’s room. “I would watch the nurses draw straws to see who would go in and check on him…
Whether because of curiosity or — as she believes today — some higher power moving her, Burks eventually disregarded the warnings on the red door and snuck into the room. In the bed was a skeletal young man, wasted to less than 100 pounds. He told her he wanted to see his mother before he died.
“I walked out and [the nurses] said, ‘You didn’t go in that room, did you?'” Burks recalled. “I said, ‘Well, yeah. He wants his mother.’ They laughed. They said, ‘Honey, his mother’s not coming. He’s been here six weeks. Nobody’s coming. Nobody’s been here, and nobody’s coming.'”
Unwilling to take no for an answer, Burks wrangled a number for the young man’s mother out of one of the nurses, then called. She was only able to speak for a moment before the woman on the line hung up on her.
“I called her back,” Burks said. “I said, ‘If you hang up on me again, I will put your son’s obituary in your hometown newspaper and I will list his cause of death.’ Then I had her attention.”
Her son was a sinner, the woman told Burks. She didn’t know what was wrong with him and didn’t care. She wouldn’t come, as he was already dead to her as far as she was concerned. She said she wouldn’t even claim his body when he died. It was a hymn Burks would hear again and again over the next decade: sure judgment and yawning hellfire, abandonment on a platter of scripture. Burks estimates she worked with more than a thousand people dying of AIDS over the course of the years. Of those, she said, only a handful of families didn’t turn their backs on their loved ones. Whether that was because of religious conviction or fear of the virus, Burks still doesn’t know.
Burks hung up the phone, trying to decide what she should tell the dying man. “I didn’t know what to tell him other than, ‘Your mom’s not coming. She won’t even answer the phone,’ ” she said. There was nothing to tell him but the truth.
“I went back in his room,” she said, “and when I walked in, he said, ‘Oh, momma. I knew you’d come,’ and then he lifted his hand. And what was I going to do? What was I going to do? So I took his hand. I said, ‘I’m here, honey. I’m here.'”
Burks said it was probably the first time he’d been touched by a person not wearing two pairs of gloves since he arrived at the hospital. She pulled a chair to his bedside, and talked to him, and held his hand. She bathed his face with a cloth, and told him she was there. “I stayed with him for 13 hours while he took his last breath on earth,” she said.
I’m not sure there was a dry eye in the sanctuary.
David Janower has passed away. He was the choral director of the fine Albany Pro Musica, and I knew and liked him personally, so I am sad. He had surgery a few months back and suffered a stroke from which he never really recovered.