Thursday, June 26, 2008

Doctrine and Scripture

The next essay I read was Christopher Seitz's "A Reflection on Scripture and Theology in the Canadian Anglican Context." This brought to life some more beefs that I have. I know that I am being nit-picky and that I am missing the point of the paper. There's two reasons for this. 1. I get so tired of claims that are not really reflective of either stance and 2. I can't argue the point of the paper because it is beyond my learnings to do so. I will let someone better qualified argue the Acts passage.

I have to admit that my back went up when I read this: "The Church of the the late modern West is divided, and so the claims of one of its number (The Anglican Church of Canada) to be 'the Church' are themselves part of the cause of the problems we now must face."

I realize that I don't have a good handle on attitudes and words used in Eastern Canada but I have never heard the Anglican Church of Canada claim that it was 'the Church'. In my, admittedly, small group of revisionists (but ever growing) out here, we tend to feel that we are not examples or normative of 'the Church' but rather speaking prophetically to 'the Church'. There is also the understood notion that 'the Church' would be establishment and, in general, those of a liberal or progressive bent, as traditionally understood, do not see themselves as part of establishment but on the edges, pushing for change. We see ourselves more as 'voices in the wilderness" - right or wrong, modesty or self-aggrandizement. I am not at all sure where the basis is for the claim that we see ourselves as "the Church".

Seitz goes on to write:

"The fact that the other Churches (including the vast majority of Christians today and through time) have reached a clear decision about the matter in question, and base this on either scripture or received tradition or both, establishes the point."

See the post below for my concerns about received tradition. 'Received tradition' based on information that was not complete/even shown to be wrong by research in present times. They have not so much reached a clear decision as maintained the status quo - closing themselves off from current research and understandings of sexuality.

"The very fact that the Western text of Acts has a different set of proscriptions reveals at once that the analogy was imperfect once the Christian Church became largely severed from its Jewish roots, ..."

Here is an acknowledgement that somthing can be seem as imperfect when it is severed from its roots (or context or worldview etc.). Is that not what revisionists are trying to get across? Are we not trying, apparently rather ineptly, that what has been said about human sexuality is imperfect. We don't deny that the 7 clobber texts exists. That would be foolish. What we are saying is that they are imperfect as a basis for the current debate due to their context and the different context now.

Times and understandings change. Case in point is the use of the Sodom and Gomorrah passage as a clobber passage. Very few people with any credibility will point to this passage as a proof text anymore and yet the more traditional understanding saw it as speaking against homosexuality. Closer study, placing the passage in its proper context, has shown that is not about homosexuality but about power and hospitality.

And don't think I'm letting the implication above that the revisionists don't base their understandings on scripture slide.

"Then there is the related problem, moring to the second point, that the ruling given overthrows nothing at all. It is seen to be consistant with the prophets...At question was precisely not overthrowing but unholding the Law and the Prophets. Again, there was no possibility 'doctrine' being anything other than an appeal to the scriptures..."

We revisionists really do see full inclusion (including same-sex blessings) as consistant with the scriptures. We look at the full of the scriptures (we tend to suck at proof-texting) and from that we find that full inclusion is consistant with the teachings of Jesus.

Seitz is making a case against the use of Acts 15 as an example of doctrine changing. For all I know, he may have a valid point - this is definitey not an area I feel anywhere near capable of debating, hence the nit-picking.

"This [using the Acts passage as an example of doctrinal change and other incidents like it] demands of course a serious commitment to individual texs and discrete episodes ... and not to the comprehensive scope of scipture, which inheres with is claim to be scripture, and not discrete episodes in religious history."

Do you ever feel like you have entered the twilight zone. I felt this way with some of the statements that are made in this paper. The first was that the ACC claimed it was 'the Church'. The second is in the above quote. If anything, revisionists usually get critisized for taking a comprehensive look at scriptures not with a form of 'proof-texting.' We will deal with individual texts when we are presented with them - such as the 7 clobber passages - but in general we look at the whole of the gospel rather than individual events and interpret through that lens. And we get soundly critisized for that.

One of Seitz's arguements is that, at least in the Acts 15 passage, "the Holy Spirit spake in relationship to the dominical teaching remembered..." The implication being (or at least as I understand it) that this is not the case with same-sex blessings or at least with the revisionist understanding of the Holy Spirit in this case. But revisionists turly believe that the Holy Spirit is speaking for full inclusion and that this is a continuation of the Holy Spirit speaking to the love, compassion, and inclusion of those society sees as outcasts and sinners. We speak in general terms and use specifics to highlight or example what we mean.

I will admit to getting confused in this first paragraph of the conclusion. And my confusion just grows and grows as I read farther. There appears to be a statement that the revisionists give a central role to doctrine. And yet when I talk to those in the middle or on the reasserters side I find them saying that we need to have a good theological and doctrinal basis for same-sex blessings and that the lack of this is a significant weakness in the revisionists stance. And yet I seem to be reading that we are the ones with an obsession with doctrine. Once again, I am not an academic, so I could be reading this wrong.

But it does remind me of an incident in my family's past (you didn't think I could go a day without a family story did you?) We would quite often get transients at our door looking for money. In one such instance one came to our door asking for money for a bus ticket. This was at noon on the first day of school in the fall and things were at sixes and sevens around the house. My mother had a couple of quarters and that was it. She informed the man that she had no money. He started yelling that all the white man ever thought about was money. I did a double-take at that - who was the one that was asking for money (and who was known to threaten violence when he didn't receive it as shown in a prior incident).

I realize that I live in an upside down world out here. Often things are backwards of larger centres but some of the claims made in this paper make me shake my head. There are times when revisionists are being credited with things that I find opposite of my experience. It leaves me with a feeling of disconnection and confusion with the paper as a whole and a lack of focus on what is the underlying arguement centered around Acts 15.

I know, I know that I have been nit-picky but I have to get the nit-picking out of the way in order to be more clear headed to see the paper in its true intent.

Love and Prayers,
Ann Marie


I have just been reading come of the papers submitted to the Primate's Theological Commission dealing with the request from General Synod for more about the blessing of same-sex relationships. First, I will confess that I am biased and most people know in what direction (and if you don't already know, it will rapidly become clear.) I will agree on at least one thing though. I do believe, especially in Canada where same-sex couples can be married, that we need to look at this through the lens of marriage. If we were to bless same-sex relationships outside of marriage, we would, in all fairness, have to look at blessing opposite-sex relationships outside of marriage (with which I will also admit to not having a problem as long as they qualify under the criteria of adult, healthy, committed etc.)

My beef for awhile has been a falling back on the early church fathers and tradition. I have done a fair amount of reading by feminist authors (I know - quel surprise first, that I actually read anything through to the end and second, that I would read feminist authors.) It has become clear how shaky the ground was behind many of strictures against the feminine and women. To large extent it was based on Plato's understandings and the resulting world-view that the feminine is inferior to the masculine. This created structures and mind-sets of fear of being considered feminine or having traits of the feminine. I could go into this in way more depth, but unlike usual, I am not feeling particularly verbose today - too much time spent doing research on church programs.

Suffice it to say that many prohibitions were placed on women because of an assumption of the inferiority of the feminine (decided by a man or men) and a tradition of exlusion and, at various times, oppression ensued. Today, we have a better understanding of sexuality and have made a fair amount of headway - although we still have a long way to go before we embrace a wholistic understanding of human sexuality.

I have respect for the writers of these papers as academics and learned men. I struggle to interact on an academic level for I willingly acknowledge that I am more intuitive and experiential. I have only read two of the papers so far and will probably have to read them a few more times before I fully understand what they are presenting. However, there are a couple of points that come to mind, in general, as I am reading.

The first paper I read was "What Would John Henry Newman Do?" by Dr. George Sumner. (First of all, until I went to seminary I had never heard of John Henry Newman so I guess even knowing who he is now is a sign that something sunk in at Emmanuel.) Dr. Sumner speaks of Newman's proofs "that a particular proposal is in fact a true develpment of doctrine." One of these proofs is that of "chronic endurance". The saving facet of this proof is that Newman appears to have seen endurance as past, present, and future.

However, if we just concentrate on the past and present as the reasserters would have us do, we would run into the problem that I have as a feminist with the church's more traditional understanding of the role and capabilities of women. The traditons were based on a world view and understanding that has since been shown as being in severe error. As more and more information comes to light about human sexuality in general, and homosexuality in specific, we can see where what has been held in the past is no longer valid in the present. I guess time in the future will tell if endurance reaches into the future but gazing into my crystal ball I would suggest that the future will show that same-sex blessings are a true development of doctrine.

The problem being that most of us don't look to the future. We state that because the past has not allowed for it, neither should we, after all it is tradition. There isn't even an openess to the idea that the future might prove that same-sex blessings are consistent with established doctrines.

Dr. Sumner writes:

"With respect to chronic endurance, we should recall that, while the traditional view has only been found among a relatively small number of Christians for almost twenty centuries, the revised view has only been found among a relatively small number of Christians for two generations. Does this mean that the proposal could never pass the tests? No, but it does mean that it manifestly has not done so yet."

Ah, he does allow for the future changing. But it becomes clear that he is very doubtful that this is possible. I would say that he is a bit premature in this. Many things that we now accept have had a slow acceptance initially as they so often challenge the status quo and mind set. We may have twenty centuries and a majority of Christians who believe that same-sex blessings are not consistent with scripture or doctrine but those twenty centuries did not have the information or understandings that are available today. Are we to ignore new studies and information? Are we not to act because there has been a negative mind set for twenty centuries? (I will allow that same-sex blessings may not pass the endurance test but I am fairly confident that it will do so which makes me as set in my views as those who do not share them are in theirs. I just don't find it a valid arguement that past centuries have held a view as wrong when they did not have the information we have today, including even an concept of homosexuality.)

I should also state that I don't believe that just because something is new that we should embrace it full tilt. I do think that tradition is generally good and a solid criteria for judging something valid. In this particular case, I find that current studies and findings of human sexuality do not, in the main, support the foundations underlying the traditional view. And so we come full circle.

So, I see two things wrong with the arguement - 1. That the present traditions and doctrines are, at best, based on incomplete understandings of human sexuality and, at worst, downright false assumptions. 2. That we seem to forget that apsect of "chronic endurance" that reaches into the future, and focus on the past and present as the data on which we base our judgement of enduring.

Love and Prayers,
Ann Marie

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Celebration and Thanksgiving

I was on holidays last week. I went up to a lake and camped for a week by myself. My family joined me for the weekend. I think I could have used another week but I am thankful for the one I had. (I get 4 weeks of holidays a year. I use up three of them in August and carry one week over "just in case". My vestry likes me to use that week up before I start into the next years holidays so I usually take the week in June.) These holidays were in between two events for which I want to offer up prayers of celebration and thanksgiving.

The first event was the graduation of my third child/second daughter. That was on June 14. (And yes, I was present at the Pride Parade. My picture was even in the paper but you have to know it was me. The camera focused on a gorgeous cross dresser and blurred the people behind but, if you know it's us, you can see my Dad and me in our clericals marching in the parade.) The family was all out. Because the class is so small, each grad is allowed 15 dinner tickets so most of those attending the grad were able to eat supper. Jay won the creativity award and the Credit Union bursary as well as receiving a certificate for graduating with more than 30 credits. She looked absolutely gorgeous and was constantly smiling. The youngest also got an award for most academically improved in grades 7-11. (That's two awards for him this year as he also received Air Cadet Rookie of the Year.) The after grad party went over safely - no major instances.

The second event was when my family was driving to join me at the lake. My older daughter phoned me to tell me they driving through Martinsville and would be at the lake in just over an hour. Just as we finished the conversation, I heard a piercing scream and the phone went dead. I tried phoning back imediately but was unable to get through. Frotunately, for my nerve's and imagination's sake, she phoned back relatively quickly. Someone had just t-boned them off an approach to the highway. All were okay including the people in the other car. For some miraculous reason, the van did not roll. My family only had scrapes, bumps and bruises. There was $19,000 worth of damage done to the van so it was totalled off but who cares. I could have lost 1/2 my family in one instant. I have been offering up prayers of thanksgiving ever since - every time I think about it or hear that scream in my head.

Love and Prayers,
Ann Marie

Pondering Separation

I have been thinking about Malcolm's comment on the post below. He brings up a concern that I shared when I first saw the idea a few months back. If we were to separate, even for a brief time, we give a free playing field to those who would work to change this church into a more narrow minded entity.

I vividly remember a certain week at seminary. We had a retired bishop from the States as a guest lecturer for a class on evangelism. Ash Wednesday also happened to fall in that same week. Three things stand in my mind about that week. First of all, the retired bishop, in a response to one of my direct questions, told me that he would never have considered me for the priesthood based on the fact that I have no management experience. I pointed out that I was in the process of raising four children and have been involved in numerous executive positions in a variety of community groups - President/Chair, Secretary, Treasurer etc. (Let me tell you that dealing with mothers about a dance recital or skating carnival is not an easy task - it requires many skills of management and diplomacy.) Anyhow, these experiences count for nothing apparently. In order for this bishop to accept me, I would have had to have a piece of paper to give value to my skills and learnings.

During one of the sessions we were discussing how to deal with issues. At least that is what we were suppose to be discussing. We divided into two groups of about 5. I was all set to give an example from my recent internship. My supervisor/mentor was quite conservative, which could have led to a few problems if any of our parishoners brought up the issue of human sexuality. She and I sat down to discuss how we would deal with this. Both of us realized that we were not going to change the other's beliefs on this topic. We agreed that if the issue came up, we would explain where we stood and leave it at that. No critisizing the other's stance. For us the more important work was to look after our people. Instead of focusing on the issue and letting it stress us and our relationship, we chose to focus on the tasks that we believed God was calling us to do in the parish. I shared this experience with my group, hoping it would lead to some discussion of how we work together with differences.

Instead, what the group focused on was my support for full inclusion of all people, in this case, specifically GLBTs. A discussion then followed about how the church should draw doctrinal lines and people who believed as I did placed outside.

Have I mentioned before that I am a feminist. I'm sure you would never have guessed unless I stated it outright. That Ash Wednesday, we had Imposition of Ashes in the evening. This was the winter after my internship so I had been somewhat out of college life and hadn't fully entered back into the life of the community - so many new people and being past Senior Stick (head of the Theological Students Society) I was trying to stay in the background, especially because there were decisions and things happening on TSS with which I was in a fair amount of disagreement. I looked up at the front and all of a sudden realized that all five of the ministers invovled with leading the service were male. This in spite of the fact that there were a number of capable females available.

I was not in a good space that week to begin with. But these three instances really had me questioning whether or not my call was in the Anglican Church in general and in my particular diocese to be more specific. I called up my Dad and we met at Timmy's (Mom was having a bridge night at their house). Dad did his best to help me deal with the feelings and questions these three instances had fostered. He kept pointing out to me that although I might have been somewhat isolated in my current situation there were others who thought as I did. He used the example of a diocese that I had lived in back in the mid-nineties, which had just elected a new bishop. That wasn't much help though as it did not give me the community support I needed then and there.

Shortly after that, I led a seminar in my Anglican Church and Soceity class. I had chosen the seminar on Anglicanism in other parts of the world. That was when I first realized the possibility for what is happening now. I read up on the African provinces and their growing influence with a theology and vision that did not mesh with mine. I remember speaking passionately about my concerns in that class. (I do get quite passionate which turns people off - they think that I am getting emotional - it's more that I get very intense about what it is I am speaking on). After class my prof suggested to me that I consider a call in another denomination. (I will admit to a bit of elitism in my response to that suggestion. I am a cradle Anglican - never lapsed and he came to the Anglican Church in his adulthood.) I think that he mistook the reason for my intensity in the class.

I went through a tough period of discernment that winter and spring. Was the Anglican Church the place for me? Was my sponsoring diocese the place for me? I chose to stay with both because I believed it was important for my voice to be heard. Not "my voice" specifically but the things I had to say. I knew that there were people who needed to know that they were not alone in their thinking, that needed to know that there are other possibilities and understandings within our faith, that needed someone to care and voice their concerns.

These instances and my reflections in the post below highlight a tension in my life in the church. I can see the benefit of not being so emeshed in our communities - in being able to stand back and objectively work together. It is possible as my supervisor/mentor and I proved. But I agree with Malcolm as well. If we leave we give free reign to those who would shape the church in the image they desire. I have remained in this church to be a voice for those who do not have a strong voice. When I considered leaving either this denomination or this diocese, I have always hesitated for who would then speak of the possiblities that are offered. (This particular way of thinking is a legacy from my Dad. He had burn out in the early '80s. He returned to ministry because he felt his particular voice was needed.)

So yes, separation might be healthy. But what do we stand to lose? Is there some other alternative that gives the benefit of stepping back without the loss of our voice in the wider community?

Love and Prayers,
Ann Marie

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Ecumenical Service

In 2005 Saskatchewan celebrated its 100th anniversary. The local Celebrate Saskatchewan committee approached ministerial about planning an ecumenical service to help mark the event. Ministerial agreed and a tradition was started.

The next year, ministerial was asked if it would host an ecumenical service on the Sunday of Community Days. Based on the response the year before at the Celebrate Saskatchewan service, we agreed. We don't wait to be asked any more. The ecumenical service is now part of the Community Days.

I love the ecumenical spirit in Biggar, both on ministerial and among the people. There is a sense of eagerness as we move toward one of our ecumenical events. It is amazing how we can come together to praise God. There is a sensitivity to our different ways of expressing our theology and our praise of God. This year our liturgy planning committee had representatives from the Anglican , the Lutheran, the Presbyterian, the Associated Gospel and the Seventh Day Adventist Churches. There is no discord in the planning with each of us being sensitive to the other without going overboard. Interesting enough this year we pulled in a lot of more traditional style resources from the Church of England and the ELCIC, although I offered a variety of samples. It is a real joy to work with people whose main aim is to praise God while fostering a sense of unity - especially after all the shenanigans going on in Anglican land.

Music is one of the resources we use to draw us together. We have a wonderful lead musician in the Roman Catholic music director. Her energy and enthusiasm as well as her knowledge of the local musical talent make our music ministry truly ecumenical. We sing a broad spectrum of pieces with a number of talented musicians.

This year was another wonderful service. It has me thinking about Mark Harris' recent post.

"Then BabyBlue wrote a note to that blog entry. You can read it HERE: She asks, "And what of charity for all, malice toward none? What if we all just agree to separate for a period?" Again, in the midst of all the mutterings, a gentle reality check. Early on in the development of the Covenant idea the Rev. Dr. Katherine Grieb, one of our two representatives on that group, suggested to the bishops that perhaps we ought to consider a time out. She said, "I suggest that we enter a five-year period of fasting from full participation in the Anglican Communion to give us all time to think and to listen more carefully to one another. I think we should engage in prayerful non-participation in global meetings (in Lambeth, in the Anglican Consultative Council, in other Communion committee meetings) or, if invited to do so, send observers who could comment, if asked, on the matter under discussion. We should continue on the local level to send money and people wherever they are wanted. (This is not about taking our marbles and going home.) We need to remain wholly engaged in the mission of the church, as closely tied as we are allowed to the See of Canterbury and to the Anglican Communion as a whole. But we should absent ourselves from positions of leadership, stepping out of the room, so that the discussions of the Anglican Communion about itself can go on without spending any more time on our situation which has preoccupied it."

This past week I was with a good friend and suggested the same. Now this is not exactly what BabyBlue was asking for, but at least the idea that the Episcopal Church might "fast from full participation" was working at something of the same hope - that we might "step out of the room." Perhaps across the great divide we can do more than Dave Walker suggests, politely chuck used vegetables and rotten eggs at one another.

I do not believe BabyBlue's remedy is the answer, but there may be some other possibilities. More importantly, her remark triggers a conversation that we ought to take to heart. Are there ways to admit the separations and live with them for a while?"

At first when I heard this idea put forward, I was hesitant. Is not separation a sign of defeat? But as I reflect on what is suggested and my own experiences with the local ministerial, I begin to see some real value. I think that one of the reasons we are able to work so well on ministerial is our ability to separate ourselves. We can listen respectfully to each other and work together well because we are not trying to prove we are right by proving the other wrong. We are able to see our focus in fostering a sense of God's presence in our community and finding ways to help people express it and give thanks for it without falling into too much disagreement. We are able to let go and let others express themselves without censoring or critizing what they have said because we respect that they have the right to their beliefs.

The speaker today, by virtue of being our newest member, was the Seventh Day Adventist member. We worked together as a planning group to chose a theme and readings for our worship. He then put together his talk without further input from us. I may not have agreed with all that he said, although there wasn't much to disagree with, but I respect what he had to say because I know it comes from his faith and from his heart. Even had I found major disagreement with what he preached I would not have made an issue about it because I can respect his understanding of the scripture and the interpretation for how it should be lived out in our lives.

I think that this is all possible because I am not emeshed with him. I can hold myself separate. Maybe Anglicans worldwide to need to stand separate from each other in order to come together in common service to God. That separation will give us the chance to focus on other more important service to God such as feeding the hungry, and healing the sick, and working with God to bring about the kingdom. Maybe in that work we can find the unity that is so lacking right now.

I truly wish it could be done without separation for I believe we each have much to offer. But I begin to see that it is not possible to do so right now. There is too much history between us. Each of us feels we have too much at stake in what is happening. My experience with the ecumenical community here gives me hope that if we can separate and then work together on what is really important without our various polarizations coming into play, we might be able to work more fully together in the things that really matter - discernment of God's will for the restoration of creation and acting upon that discernment, each of us with our own understandings and skills without constantly trying to prove how right we are in our understandings and how wrong the other is. Maybe we could then truly celebrate our diversity and the wondrous gifts that God has given us, using those gifts to draw us together in praise and service.

Love and Prayers,
Ann Marie

Friday, June 06, 2008


Today we held our fundraiser for community outreach.

We are a small church in rural Saskatchewan. We cannot meet our yearly expenses without drawing down on our savings. Even with extra fundraisers, we don't come close.

Our community holds community days once a year. They're happening this weekend.

Last year we held a BBQ at the community days to raise money to get school supplies for children whose families could not afford them. We were able to make that project extend for two years. We were so happy with last year that we decided to do it again this year.

We needed a new project as last year's still had funding. So we decided this year to raise money for the local Family Centre to co-sponsor a family fun day. This would involve rental of the local pool or bowling alley and a BBQ.

We did well for small town Saskatchewan. We should be able to completely sponsor the fun day with what we raised.

I love this on two levels. The first is that we did raise enough money for the project. The second is what it teaches us about stepping out in faith. It's been threatening rain. We had gorgeous weather - not too sunny but yet warm enough for people to eat outside at the tables. It also teaches about how we will suceed when we work for the kingdom - when we look beyond ourselves and our own needs to helping others with their needs.

We actually did better than last year and last year was a bit of fluke. We couldn't get the day we wanted last year. Although we did luck out and find a c0-sponsor that hadn't already been approached by the time we started looking. We managed to get the same co-sponsor again this year. They're an awesome help. They supply the location, the burgers and buns. The town supplies the tables which they drop off and pick up. We supply the BBQs workers and extra supplies.

Fun was had by all. It got a bit overwhelming at one point. One of the BBQers figured that we sold 40 burgers in five minutes. It was all we could do to keep up.

I prayed hard over this project last year because I knew that if we failed last year, they wouldn't try again this year. I prayed again this year because they work so hard and have such big hearts. Our prayers were answered in spades. Thanks be to God.

Love and Prayers,
Ann Marie

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Gay Pride and a Feminist

In a week and a half Saskatoon will be holding its Gay Pride Parade. At first I thought that I would not be able to go as it's my daughter's grade 12 grad and she informed me it was a no-brainer as to where I should be. However, God works in wonderful ways. It turns out that Jay wants her hair done at a small salon in the city right on the parade route. The appointment will take one and a half hours so athough I may not be able to march in the whole, I will still be there for some.

Each year that I am here there seems to be a theme in the questions I am asked. The first year was - "So, what do you think about this whole gay thing?" The second year the question was around same-sex couples raising children. The third was - "Why can't they just stay in the closet?"

This year is - "Why do they have to have a parade? You don't see so&so's insisting on one. I have thought on this a bit. I haven't come up with a whole response but I do have some thoughts. (Surprise! Surprise!) I am not going to defind the right to march as that is a given. I think that this question is an extention of last year's question. It comes from our own discomfort with our sexuality and the tradionally perceived roles of the sexes.

There is now a tacit acceptance that same-sex couples exist. People realize that they are not going to go away and the old euphemisms we used to hide them will no longer work. But we're still uncomfortable so we prefer couples remain where we don't have to acknowledge the relationship.

The Gay Pride Parade challenges that. The very fact that we are uncomfortable should challenge us to look more deeply. Instead, the reason given for opposition barely scratches the surface. We know that it is not PC to wish GLBTTs back into the closet so we voice our concerns by pointing out that no one else holds special parades. We won't mention Anglicans parading in downtown Saskatoon (albeit a relatively short distance) in 1976 from the Cathedral to a larger church. After all, that was a religious procession. Nor will we mention cross town walks on Good Fridays. Those are a form of the Stations of the Cross. Nor will we mention Marches for Jesus.

I would point out to those who question that the parade is a statement that gays are no longer willing to live in the closet in which society has placed them. "Fine," is the response. "But they are no longer in the closet. Why do they have to be in our face about it?"

Unfortunately, our very discomfort shows the whys. Because society still wants them in the closet. We still don't want to see that sexuality and relationship is not just a man-woman thing. We still don't want to publically acknowldege that sex is good in itself, that it can be fun, wholesome, and meaningful without producing children.

And, of course, there is the discomfort over the challenge to stereo-typic roles. It's a threat to see women dressed and in the role of male husband. Heaven forbid that women should ever discover that we can survive and find meaning in life without a man. Or the challenge to those of us who choose to emphasize our femininity but, due to socialization, feel that our very femininity is inferior.

And, certainly, only women should ever wear skimpy clothing to sell our sex. Men doing so is just gross. Who do they think they are? (I will admit that the Saskatoon parade is actually quite sedate in this matter but people conflate it with the parades that get TV time.) Only cheer leaders should advertize their sex.

And then there are the male couples. We all know that, because the ideal couple is male-female, one of those men has got to become like a woman. And the female role is definitely inferior - so one of those men must be letting all of his macho brethern down. How could he?

So, for me, it is not just about being gay or being hand-holding same-sex couples in public. It is, on a less public and acknowledged scale, also about challenging centruies old mis-perceptions about human sexuality and proper (and inferior) role of the feminine.

On the 14th, I will march with my friends to state their right to live their lives fully in public - to the potential for which God has created them. But I also march as a feminist demanding that we celebrate the whole range of sexuality and that we accept all as valued and equal.

Love and Prayers,
Ann Marie