Pope Says Okay to believe in E.T., But Not In Gay Marriage

Well, the Vatican seems to be open to aliens.  I like that.  It’s heartwarming.  It’s progressive.  Though only speculative reasoning by the Vatican’s chief astronomer, the Pope threw open his arms to his “brother aliens.”    Fr. Jose Gabriel Funes is Chief Astronomer for the Vatican.  

The astronomer began the interview titled, “The Alien is my Brother,” by saying that, “Astronomy has a profound human value. It is a science that opens the heart and the mind. It helps us to put our lives, our hopes, our problems in the right perspective. In this regard, and here I speak as a priest and a Jesuit, it is an apostolic instrument that can bring us closer to God”, said Fr. Funes in the interview. 

And further on the subject of the aliens, the good astronomer had this to say:

Asked is he sees a contradiction between the Catholic faith and believing in aliens, he said, “I think there isn’t (a contradiction). Just as there is a multiplicity of creatures over the earth, so there could be other beings, even intelligent (beings), created by God. This is not in contradiction with our faith, because we cannot establish limits to God’s creative freedom. To say it with St. Francis, if we can consider some earthly creatures as ‘brothers’ or ‘sisters’, why could we not speak of a ‘brother alien’? He would also belong to the creation.”

Alas this brings up lots of interesting questions and contradictions in the Vatican’s positional stance on other issues closer to home.  This excellent post from the Guardian sums up the contradiction nicely.

That the Catholic church isn’t freaking out at the possibility of alien existence for one thing gives me hope that they might stop freaking out about other things that really do exist. Contraception, perhaps, or homosexuality. The Vatican might become open to the possibility of married priests, or female ones. And that would be super.

But, yeah, no.

E.T. ain’t heavy, he’s my brother.  But the gay couple, we won’t carry them.

They’re now a threat to Creation itself. (Step back, Climate Change!).  Says the Pope in his address to world diplomats–a plea for the environment and creation:

“Creatures differ from one another and can be protected, or endangered, in different ways, as we know from daily experience. One such attack comes from laws or proposals which, in the name of fighting discrimination, strike at the biological basis of the difference between the sexes,” he said.

“I am thinking, for example, of certain countries in Europe or North and South America,” he said.

Well, this speech, January 5 2010, came just after Mexico City declared gay marriage legal, and as Portugese Parliament was doing the same.  Hmm.  

I love that the Vatican embraces Aliens and what had been only science fiction before, but I hope they turn their attention to more immediate matters: the millions of gays and lesbians who want equality, and would like just a little of that love the church wants to dole out on Extraterrestrials they’ve never seen.  Irony seems a paltry word to describe this kind of injustice.  It’s cruelty inscribed in Jesus’ name.   This would make Jesus weep a second time.  

God is not science fiction, and probably aliens are not science fiction (I’ll give the Pope two points there).  Pope Benedict, gays aren’t monsters, gay marriage no threat to reproduction or creation in the world.  But the Church, unfortunately, is fast scripting themselves as Fantasy–out of touch with their own directives, mandates and missions, even their own Author.  Instead of walking away from the Church, I challenge people to go back in and help fix it.  Update it.  Teach it.  Vote out the bad policies.  Uncover God where He’s been shrouded.  Shake the dust off people’s shoulders who have been sitting there comatose for years.  Tell them there’s more than singing, more than preaching, more than baptizing, more than dinners and potlucks—there is a host of things to do work on, a host of people to reach out to, a host of folks in need.  

This plot is slumping.  Cut to the action again.  Bring in new characters, better dialogue.  

This novel idea, Christianity, has more potential, and could be a bestseller–could even change the world— but it’s gonna take a lot of work.

What Will You Do with this Symbiont You’ve Been Given?

jadzia_dax-002Recently saw a rerun of Deep Space Nine where Jadzia Dax is reviewing a possible Trill initiate. Just to clarify: Trills have the opportunity to join with a symbiotic species which will live through many hosts. Imagine a worm that lives off you, but also provides you with the lifetimes of all its previous hosts and the knowledge it’s accumulated. There are millions of Trills, but only a few thousand of these symbiants, so there’s quite a competition for them. It’s an honor to be joined. The host’s personality and the symbiant’s personality alters when they are joined, and they become a new person. “The two become one.” But because the symbiant has lived such a long time, its personality is pretty strong as an influence, and Trills try to choose for a host a pretty strong personality who has defined themselves before joining—not someone who has no personality or desires–someone who offers nothing to the symbiant, nor to society, but who just wants to live off the symbiant (ironic).

In “Playing God” in Season Two, Jadzia finds herself reviewing a potential host. The problem is that he is eager to get the nod from her, but not to add much to a symbiant’s life. He has no passions, no plans for his life. He is living his father’s dream–not his own.

I thought about this. Here was a man who was not doing anything with his life. He was hoping that the symbiant would give him a life….

How many times do we do that in a relationship? We cancel out ourselves to make sure there is room for someone else. We stop living because we want to be “joined” with someone. We’d do anything to be “joined” including becoming what they want…. and yet we forget that we could add to the mix too.

People are fascinating. We are attracted to them because they are fascinating. Even the most “serving” personality has thoughts and dreams that happen to no one else. We all can hear the death knell on a relationship when one person tries to eliminate what makes them “them” in order to get “joined.” And we all hear wedding bells when two strong interesting individuals get together–as two strong people, bringing something to the relationship.

So, what will you do with this life you have been given? And what will you contribute to your joining? How will you contribute to the world? What are your passions? Do this, find this, before you get “joined”—-you will contribute a lot to your joining–whether it’s a marriage, a workplace, a family, a faith.

Hmmm. We forget that sometimes–we Christians. God is not here to hollow out his creation and make them clones of Jesus. He needs something to work with. That’s why you gotta be the best Trill you can be as a host for such a cool symbiant. (Oh my, I’ve surely crossed a line—Jesus as Symbiant….) But I think it works. I’ve met too many Christian young adults who are empty vessels–no personality–save worry about not doing the right thing—who are hiding who they are and I think they get this message from well-meaning folks and colleges. Hey, good men and women, God doesn’t want “you” to be a robot, a device that he manipulates, downloads His thoughts and desires—he enjoys a cool person to talk with, to “join” with.

Give him one. The more interesting, the better.

Bishop Robinson’s Prayer to Open the Inaugural Events

Pardon my side trip from Science Fiction and Fantasy. But this is important. It’s unfortunate that HBO blacked out the opening prayer of Bishop Robinson, especially after so much controversy over Rick Warren’s selection to pray on Tuesday. Here’s the video. This was shot by Sarah Pulliam of Christianity Today. Christianity Today, in a really nice gesture, allowed it to be posted on their blog and here on Youtube. Sarah, you may have saved a moment in history, important to a whole community.

HBO also decided not to identify the Gay Men’s Chorus when they sang with Josh Groban. It looks like coincidence, but it hurts a whole community to be nearly erased from this historic moment. What you can’t erase, though, are all the gays and lesbians who are watching, and all their friends who are watching, and requiring something different and something better from this new administration. For your enjoyment, here is the well-written, and surprising, prayer of Bishop Gene Robinson. I love the irony of the Blessings section. Full text appears afterwards.

Full text of the prayer, courtesy of the Advocate. I hope they don’t mind that I’m posting it here–I think it should be spread as far as we can spread it.

Good afternoon,

Before this celebration begins, please join me in pausing for a moment to ask God’s blessing upon our nation and our next president.

Oh God of our many understandings, we pray that you will bless us with tears, tears for a world in which over a billion people exist on less than a dollar a day, where young women in many lands are beaten and raped for wanting an education, and thousands die a day from malnutrition, malaria and AIDS.

Bless this nation with anger – anger at discrimination at home and abroad, against refugees and immigrants; women, people of color; gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people.

Bless us with discomfort at the easy simplistic answers we prefer to hear from our politicians instead of the truth about ourselves and our world, which we need to face if we are going to rise to the challenges of the future.

Bless us with patience and the knowledge that none of what ails us will be fixed any time soon and the understanding that our next president is a human being, not a messiah. Bless us with humility, open to understanding that our own needs as a nation must always be balanced with those of the world.

Bless us with freedom from mere tolerance, replacing it with a genuine respect and warm embrace of our differences.

Bless us with compassion and generosity, remembering that every religion’s God judges us by the ways we care for the most vulnerable. And God, we give you thanks for your child Barack, as he assumes the office fo the president of the United States. Give him wisdom beyond his years, inspire him with President Lincoln’s reconciling leadership style, President Kennedy’s ability to enlist our best efforts, and Dr. King’s dream of a nation for all people.

Give him a quiet heart, for our ship of state needs a steady calm captain. Give him stirring words, we will need to be inspired and motivated to make the personal and common sacrifices necessary to facing the challenges ahead.

Make him color blind reminding him of his own words that under his leadership there will be neither red nor blue states but a United States. Help him remember his own oppression as a minority, drawing on that experience of discrimination that he might seek to change the lives of those who are still its victims.

Give him strength to find family time and privacy and help him remember that even though he is president, a father only gets one shot at his daughters’ childhoods. And please God, keep him safe. We know we ask too much of our presidents and we’re asking far too much of this one, we implore you oh good and great God to keep him safe. Hold him in the palm of your hand that he might do the work that we have called him to do. That he might find joy in this impossible calling and that, in the end, he might lead us as a nation to a place of integrity, prosperity and peace.

Amen.

__________________

Many in the GLBT community, knowing that Robinson was only going to pray on this first day–a Sunday morning when most other Christians would be in church–still they were looking forward to this representation by both Robinson and the Gay Men’s Chorus. Noticeably, they are hurt.

Though it didn’t get played on TV, on HBO, and will only be heard in snippets tomorrow morning in a collage playback before the swearing in, I hope this video gets round the world tonight to make up for it. Networks and Cable television have no idea the power of Youtube to completely make them obsolete in regards to news and events. You can’t erase a people from history. Not anymore.