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Gender: Male
Hometown: Kentwood, MI
Home country: USA
Member since: 2001
Number of posts: 23,508

Journal Archives

Transgender faithful incorporate theology, ritual in their transitions

The minister blessed the chalice of wine and loaves of bread before inviting everyone in the pews of St. Michael's United Church of Christ in West Chicago to partake of Holy Communion, a sacrament she had once been excluded from because of her gender identity and transition.

"We don't slip in unnoticed — we are specifically invited by Jesus to this borrowed table, to share, to remember," Cindi Knox remembers announcing to the congregation that July 5 liturgy. She was licensed as a minister last month and is openly transgender, her sex reassignment and spiritual life often intertwined and woven in her ministry.

"We thank God for the gifts of bread and wine, body and blood," the congregation replied.

The 53-year-old cleric in feminine glasses with white hair parted to the side said she knows she could have chosen to live as a woman and hide her birth sex, but she believes transparency helps her as well as those she serves spiritually.


Dumb Florida Criminals: Woman tweets looking for weed, deputies respond

When a Florida woman took to Twitter on Tuesday to request that someone bring her some weed, deputies responded.

Twitter user @Rosa_Sparkz, who describes herself as a twenty-something from Jupiter, FL, took to the social media site around 1:30 p.m. and tweeted "Somebody bring me weed. I'll pay for it."

Within an hour, The Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office sent this reply via its own Twitter account: "Where should we meet you?"

@Rosa_Sparkz, who lists her name as “Goddess,” even wrote back, stating “@PBCountySheriff follow back so I can DM you the location.”


10 Reasons I Love Being American & Catholic

3) Increasingly, Catholics in America reflect the wider world and its concerns. In 2007, 2 out of 3 Catholics in the US were white. Only seven years later, 41% of Catholics in the US are not of European ancestry – Latinos, Africans, African-Americans, Indians, Asians, etc. Newer Catholic immigrants bring to the US issues and concerns that face the wider world — and we should be grateful for that broader vision. We American Catholics sometimes get upset when our issues do not seem to be as pressing for the rest of the Catholic world. But when we recall that the US Catholic Church accounts for only 6% of the entire Church, well, it puts our pressing issues in perspective. The Catholic Church is not a good place if you are afraid of encountering others, especially others in need. It is, however, a good bellwether of the makeup of the United States in the near future.

Just as important as the future, is where we have come from. That is because…

4) Our history is important to us – because it shaped and recorded the history of culture. Through the centuries, the Catholic Church has preserved and developed ancient authors’ texts and ideas. Augustine of Hippo wrote the first tell-all autobiography, and he wrestled with age-old questions of good and evil. Remote Catholic monasteries served as a beacon of intellectual life as the ‘dark ages’ and plagues ravaged much of Europe.

Thomas Aquinas, a thunder-thinker of the thirteenth century, was dialoguing with Jewish and Muslim scholars about Aristotle long before interreligious dialogue was hip. Bartolomé de las Casas, a Dominican friar, wrote passionately about the evils of slavery and colonialism in the 1500s, long before post-colonial theory hit the scene. Jesuit missionaries studied the stars, recorded languages throughout South America and Asia, and adapted to the cultures of local peoples. Jesuits also defended the indigenous Guarani against European colonial powers in South American communities.


Fr. Robert Barron among new Los Angeles auxiliary bishops

In a stunning move, at Roman Noon this Tuesday, the Pope named the 55 year-old rector/president of the Windy City's Mundelein Seminary as one of three auxiliary bishops for the nation’s largest local church — the 5 million-member archdiocese of Los Angeles — alongside two of its most well-regarded lifers: Msgr Joseph Brennan, 61, the career pastor turned lead vicar-general to Archbishop José Gomez, and the Irish-born Msgr David O’Connell, 61, whose decades of ministry in LA’s violence-torn South Central corridor arguably comprise the Stateside bench’s most potent example yet of the “peripheries” Francis insistently wants present at the church’s center.

While each bishop-elect brings a compelling story, to use one op’s term, the appointment of Barron is likely to “suck the air out of the room” far beyond the three-county SoCal juggernaut, now the largest diocese in American Catholicism’s five centuries of existence. A protege of the late Cardinal Francis George (whose own successor in Chicago some leading prelates hoped Barron would be), the nominee's Word on Fire ministry of films, widely circulated, conservative-leaning columns and YouTube commentaries have made him a household name in church circles as well as one of the US fold's most popular speakers, and now, the highest-profile Stateside priest to enter the episcopacy since one Timothy Michael Dolan became an auxiliary of his native St Louis in 2001 after seven years of taking Rome by storm as rector of the Pontifical North American College.

Along these lines, Barron is one of the few incoming US bishops who's already appeared before his new confreres as a speaker, having served as spiritual director for the bench's 2013 summer retreat. Yet even as the calculus behind his Western move remains a mystery, its seismic impact on two of the nation's three largest dioceses is immediate: in LA, the bishop-elect heads to the most influential seat of pop culture on earth, his "rock star" talents for communication (and, indeed, fund-raising) on-hand to shore up a sometimes restive Anglo minority in the trenches, while in the 2.3 million-member Chicago church, the leadership of Mundelein – long regarded as the "crown jewel" of American seminaries, currently the US' third-largest formation house – now falls vacant for Archbishop Blase Cupich to fill just nine months into his tenure, a pick with implications across the Midwest.


Barron is certainly regarded as a conservative (in Catholic terms, at least), which makes it all the more interesting that (a) Pope Francis appointed him and (b) he's heading to Los Angeles, of all places.

Meet Shane, The Army's First Openly Trans Soldier

Ortega, who now serves as a Chinook helicopter crew chief with the 25th Infantry Division in Hawaii, meets all the Army's physical fitness standards, gets positive reviews from his chain of command, and always strives to put the mission first, regardless of what he's facing in his private life.

And lately, he's had a lot going on.

Despite his solid performance and commitment to serve, SGT Ortega has been at risk of getting kicked out of the Army because in official Army paperwork, he is identified as a woman.

Ortega, who was assigned female at birth, is one of the military's few openly trans service members. While roughly 15,500 transgender people are estimated to be currently serving in the military, almost all of them are forced to do so in secret since the Department of Defense's current policy forbids openly transgender individuals from serving.


Winters: Church, labor need to renew their bonds

Thus was born a strong, fraternal relationship between the Catholic church and organized labor in the United States. Nor was the relationship built only on papal teaching. Many union locals had their first meetings in the basement of a Catholic church. Many workers who formed the picket lines during the week also formed the Communion line on Sunday.

The church and labor both advocated for public policies like ending child labor and supporting the New Deal. The relationship even reached into the culture, with Karl Malden playing Fr. Barry in "On the Waterfront."

Msgr. George Higgins, a professor at The Catholic University of America, was the chaplain to the AFL-CIO for decades. If a bishop hired non-union labor for a job, he heard about it from Higgins. When the Roe v. Wade decision came out in 1973, organized labor was the only part of the political left that did not take a position.

In recent decades, the relationship between church and labor has frayed, not so much because of any conscious decision, but for a variety of reasons. It was a mistake to let the relationship fray, because some of the problems facing both labor and the church are similar or even the same.


Muslim Charities Collect Money To Help Rebuild Black, Christian Churches Destroyed By Fire

n an effort of compassion, sympathy and typical human concern, Muslim charitable organizations are raising money to help African Americans rebuild churches that were the target of arson in the United States.

There have been eight black churches torched since the deadly Charleston Massacre that left nine innocent people dead while practicing their faith in the historic AME Church of Charleston. Dylann Roof was the physcopath responsible for the shootings.

church burningThus far, the Muslim charities have been able to raise over $20,000 for the churches rebuilding efforts. It will take much more, but what a great gesture to show these two faiths are not at odds.

“ALL houses of worship are sanctuaries, a place where all should feel safe, a place we can seek refuge when the world is too much to bear. We are calling on you to help add our support to faith communities across the country pooling their resources to rebuild these churches.”


My mom is undergoing a few tests this month.

Yesterday she had a CAT scan. Next week she will have a couple more tests.

She has had health problems for a little while now.

Your prayers are very much appreciated. Thank you.

From foster care to Forbes Africa's 30 Under 30

Recently names to the Forbes Africa’s 30 Under 30 list, Ola Orekunrin is a West African doctor and founder of the regions first indigenous emergency service, Flying Doctors Nigeria. Becoming a doctor at just 21-years-old made her the youngest doctor in Britain ever. Fueled by her personal conviction and impassioned by a family tragedy, Orekunrin is one of Africa’s most successful pioneering entrepreneurs, and oddly enough, her name “Ola” means “wealth” in Yoruba, a native African language.

Orekunrin was born in London and grew up in a foster home with her sister in Lowestoft, a small seaside town in south-east England. She attended University of York for medical school. She reports immediately becoming interested in emergency trauma medicine.

After graduating as a qualified doctor at just 21-years-old, Ola was awarded the MEXT Japanese Government Scholarship after a meteoric rise in the field of medical studies. Studying at Jikei University Hospital, Ola conducted research in the field of regenerative medicine. She moved back to Europe upon completing her research.

It was during her time in medical school that a tragic event served as a catalyst for he major life and career decisions Ola made. Her 12-year-old sister, who had sickle cell anemia, fell extremely ill while visiting family in Nigeria. The closest hospital was unable to properly treat her, so Ola and her family tried to find an air ambulance service that could transport her sister quickly and safely to a healthcare facility capable of treating her. Despite searching all across West Africa, they were unable to find an air ambulance service closer than South Africa. This was a stark contrast to what she experienced growing up in England, where there were around 20 air ambulance services.


Let us pray for those impacted by the church fires in South Carolina.

May the Lord watch over these church communities.

May they find hope and healing.
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