Thanks, Ellen.

Remember April 30, 1997?

ellen-degeneresDid you watch “Ellen” on ABC that night, as Ellen DeGeneres came out?

Only 12 years ago. Think how much the world has changed.

And the pace of change is only accelerating. Four states now legalize same-gender marriage (42% of Americans now support it — up 9% in one month!)

A friend sent me an article from St. Louis, about how big names in that city are coming out. When I read it, I thought of Marge Connelly, a senior executive at Capital One, who did this in Richmond some years ago. And Bevel Dean, Clerk of the Richmond City Courts, who this year spoke up for the inevitability and rightness of same-gender marriage in Virginia. And Adam Ebben, who ran and won four years ago as the first openly gay member of the Virginia General Assembly.

Who will be next?

To whom do you need to come out? Its not just important people who make a difference. All of us–including straight allies–matter.

God, grant me courage to do my part.

A Preacher’s Son Comes Out

Its not what you think. . . . . but in some ways more important.

The preacher is Jay Bakker . . . . . as in son of Jim and Tammy Faye. He’s a straight ally, one of the best. Here, he’s preaching at a self-identified gospel church.

Watch this.

If you hear the power of his heart,  feel the power of his testimony, feel awed by his courage, think of where you might add your voice, your testimony, and make a difference. Today.

More to Come

My friend and colleague, Dr. Jennifer Harvey, sent me a link yesterday to a roster of 131 pictures on the website of the Des Moines Register–folks lining up to get married.  Here is a picture of her (left), her partner Chris, and their daughter Harper. jen-harvey-and-chris-patterson-and-harper

Some people scoff at the importance of this moment, especially in Virginia where it seems so far away. But the tide is changing and I feel even the hard clay of Virginia shifting beneath our feet.

 Jen teaches ethics at Drake University. She and I, along with another colleague, co-edited a book together a few years ago. 

She and Chris and Harper (Jen gave birth just last year) are living the ethic of love and care, and they are making a difference, not only in Iowa but across the entire country where the story of God’s truth marches on.  

If you want to be inspired by this movement for justice, I encourage you to visit the link 

See the range of people, feel the joy, trust that there is more to come (and pray for the protestors).

God Must Love Chickweed

I scattered some clover seed in the front yard, to drive out the chickweed. I choose to avoid using chemicals on our lawn. white-clover

Friends scoffed, saying that replacing chickweed with clover is just trading one weed for another.

But my father taught me a long time ago that a weed is a plant growing where you do not want it. There is no plant that by its nature is a weed (just as there no people that are, by their nature, worth less than others).

I choose clover because it is a legume, meaning that, like beans and peas, clover  has nodules on the roots that contain nitrogen-fixing bacteria (creating nitrogen exchange and enhancing growth).  Clover is not, of course, the lawn of choice for those who want perfectly sculpted putting greens.

God must love chickweed, there is so much of it. But in my lawn, it is unwelcome.

Grow, clover!


I called my Congressperson, the Hon. Eric Cantor, the other day to urge him to vote for HR 1913 (Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009). A pleasant-sounding young man promised to deliver my message.

The Hon. Eric Cantor
The Hon. Eric Cantor

Saturday, I received a reply by mail. Mr. Cantor thanked me, described the legislation, and assured me he would keep my views in mind “should this legislation come before in the House of Representives.”

The vote has not happened yet, so perhaps technically it is not before him. But the bill has been introduced before, many times, and according to news reports will be coming up for a vote soon.

Surely, Mr. Cantor has a view on the subject. I wish he would share it with me.

I will write to ask him to tell me how he votes, and remind him that I will keep his vote in mind should his name come before me at the next election.


Today is a day of celebration for me and Jonathan. We are having a house blessing — inviting those who helped us move last year over to share in our joy and

How wondrously things work. About this time six years ago, the Pastoral Search Team at MCC Richmond called me to spend a week in Richmond as their candidate for pastor.

Through many ups and many downs, we arrive at today: giving thanks for our home.

And that is not simply this wonderful ranch house on one-half acre south of the James but also our HOME, our community, our church, our friends, our neighbors, our roads, our parks, our river, our shops and doctors and mechanics and . . . everything that makes this home, the place where our hearts rest and our hopes soar.

I pray today that everyone in the world be so blessed as we.

Composting My Life

man-with-compostI filled my first compost bin yesterday (picture is not me, however).

The rule is to put about equal parts of “green stuff” (e.g., grass clippings, raw food peels and the like from the kitchen) and “brown stuff” (dead leaves, or in my case last year’s gumballs from our Sweet Gum tree) and let them cook together (yes, the bin can get hot). After a while, out comes wonderfully rich organic material for the garden!

Maybe that is a good metaphor for life. I mix my good stuff and my not so good stuff, and if I let it “cook” together for a while, aided by prayer and God’s grace, I can have some new, really wholesome, ways to live my life.

God in the Dirt

I was on my knees yesterday, praising God.

dirt-and-plant1I had already said my morning prayers, kneeling at the prayer desk in my study, and I did not intend to do it again an hour later. But there I was, in our front yard, on my hands and knees digging in the dirt, when I felt a very powerful connection with God.

Oh, the joy! I often say that gardening is a spiritual practice for me. In that moment, I felt it. There is something about getting my hands in God’s earth that speaks to my soul.

Today, I have to mow the lawn.

God, I pray to feel your presence in the roar of the mower as much as I feel it in the quiet of the earth.


I know St. Patrick’s Day is the day to wear green, but today is the day to BE green.

And have you noticed how many shades of green there are? Nature is just a riot of greens.

collard-greensThank you, God, for greens–trees, the grass, the flowers–and of course, collard/beet/mustard greens, too.

Especially collards.

Stormy Weather

The National Organization for Marriage posted the video, “Gathering Storm,” online, with the plan to air it nationwide in order to stop the spread of same-gender marriage.

Pretty much it has been hooted off the stage. The claims made are so ridiculous.  We’ve heard them all before.

And the parodies are endless. Below, you can tune into the Colbert Report for one of the best (it contains an excerpt from the original, too).

But still, people continue to believe the lies.

We can and will expose the lies. And the day is coming when this, like interracial marriage, will be a non-issue.

But in the meantime, let’s pray for NOM and its allies, and all those who place limits on love created by God. Let’s pray for them to remember that perfect love casts out fear, and it can cast out theirs.