Monthly Archives: April 2013

Thank you, Brittney Griner

Check out a related post on Jason Collins.

As with pro basketball, I do not follow college basketball on my own. I pay enough attention so I can  hold conversations with my wife who rather avidly and faithfully follows both the women’s and men’s teams from a university in Durham, North Carolina. The result is that I do know who Brittney Griner is – although I could not run down the details of her amazing career.

Earlier this evening, I posted about Jason Collins coming out of the closet.

I am grateful to my friends Margaret Aymer Oget and Shaya Gregory Poku for reminding me that Brittney Griner left the closet on April 17.  In doing so, they helped me realize that I should have posted about her actions as well.

The words I wrote about Jason Collins apply to Brittney Griner as well:

But as of today – and that today should have been April 17, Brittney Griner is one of my heroes. 

I give thanks for the witness and courage and faith and grace of Brittney Griner. I pray that her actions will make life better, safer, fuller, more human, and more humane for the people I know and love and for all the LGBTQ members of the human family.

A number of questions need discussion as we ponder the different reactions to the same act of coming out by Brittney Griner and Jason Collins. For starters:

  • What role does sexism play?
  • What role does patriarchy play?
  • Are female athletes stereotyped as lesbians?
  • Do female athletes who come out fuel male fantasies while male athletes who come out fuel male fears?
  • Does a greater level of tolerance related to sexual orientation exist in the WNBA and women’s sports than in men’s sports? If so, why is that and what role does it play?

No doubt we need to address other questions – many other questions. For now, those make a good beginning.

And for me, one part of the answer lies in thanking Margaret Aymer Oget and Shaya Gregory Poku for raising these questions for me, no matter how poorly I have addressed them at the moment. And another part lies in saying:

Thank you, Brittney Griner.

See you along the Trail.

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Filed under Current Events, Sports

Governor Bryant – test the evidence

I do not believe in capital punishment. I believe the state should not kill. But, if the state does, then the state has an awesome responsibility. That includes being as certain as possible that no available evidence should go unexamined and untested.

In that spirit, I have asked Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant to stay Willie Manning’s execution and order DNA testing of crime scene evidence. You can too.

The Innocence Project writes about the case:

Willie Manning is on death row in Mississippi, awaiting execution for the abduction and murder of two college students in 1992. He was convicted on circumstantial evidence, including the testimony of a jailhouse informant who had previously given a statement implicating another person. No physical evidence has ever linked Willie to the crime, and he has always maintained his innocence. He has been seeking DNA testing of crime scene evidence for years.

Incredibly, the Mississippi Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 decision that there is “overwhelming evidence of guilt,” so no DNA testing is needed. His execution has been set for May 7th. Eighteen men have been exonerated by DNA testing after being sentenced to death, including Kennedy Brewer of Mississippi. We are asking the Governor to stay the execution and order the DNA testing that will definitively prove Willie Manning’s guilt or innocence. Join us in calling on Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant to stay Willie’s execution and order DNA testing!

My letter has gone. Will you send one?

See you along the Trail.

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Filed under Capital Punishment, Current Events, Death Penalty

Thank you, Jason Collins

Check out a related post on Brittney Griner.

I follow professional basketball just enough to talk about the sport with my sons. Before today, I did not know who Jason Collins is. I still don’t know much about his playing career or his ability.

But as of today, Jason Collins is one of my heroes. In an article published on the Sports Illustrated Web page and soon to appear in the print version, Jason Collins left the closet:

I’m a 34-year-old NBA center. I’m black. And I’m gay.

With those words, Jason Collins broke a barrier in sports. He became the first openly gay male athlete to acknowledge his sexual orientation while still active in a major American team sport. I encourage you to read his full statement, but here are some quotes that spoke to me:

The recent Boston Marathon bombing reinforced the notion that I shouldn’t wait for the circumstances of my coming out to be perfect. Things can change in an instant, so why not live truthfully?

I learned that long ago. Again and again, life has reminded me of that reality. Sometimes I live according to Jason Collins’ wisdom; I hope to do better.

My parents instilled Christian values in me. They taught Sunday school, and I enjoyed lending a hand. I take the teachings of Jesus seriously, particularly the ones that touch on tolerance and understanding.

I give thanks for his parents and the support they and his faith provide. I pray that all may know such support from family and friends.

Some people insist they’ve never met a gay person. But Three Degrees of Jason Collins dictates that no NBA player can claim that anymore. Pro basketball is a family. And pretty much every family I know has a brother, sister or cousin who’s gay. In the brotherhood of the NBA, I just happen to be the one who’s out.

What is true about NBA players is true for me is true for all of us. Whether we know or whether we do not know, we have all met an LGBTQ person, we have all met many LGBTQ persons. We love LGBTQ persons. LGBTQ persons love us. I know and love LGBTQ persons. I am blessed that LGBTQ persons know and love me.

I give thanks for the witness and courage and faith and grace of Jason Collins. I pray that his actions will make life better, safer, fuller, more human, and more humane for the people I know and love and for all the LGBTQ members of the human family.

See you along the Trail.

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Filed under Current Events, Sports

Purple flowers, Cleveland Heights back yard 4

Cleveland Heights, July 7, 2012

Comings and goings
in a variety of purple shades
at the same time

Cleveland Heights, Ohio
7 July 2012

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Filed under Cleveland Heights, Photo

For tonight

After today’s win in St. Louis, the Pittsburgh Pirates are in first place in the Central Division of the National League.

The first place Pittsburgh Pirates.

They have not had a winning season since 1993.

The first place Pittsburgh Pirates.

That is a record for futility unequaled in any of the four major sports.

The first place Pittsburgh Pirates.

Last year they were at or near the top of the division until late in July.

The first place Pittsburgh Pirates.

A late August and September collapse washed them out of the wild card spot.

The first place Pittsburgh Pirates.

It is early in the season.

The first place Pittsburgh Pirates.

They have only played 25 games.

The first place Pittsburgh Pirates.

137 games remain … but for tonight, they are:

the first place Pittsburgh Pirates!

See you along the Trail.

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Filed under Baseball, Sports

The usual mixture

I bask in the Manhattan sun,
warm against my face

and remember Ireland a year ago
with Tricia and with friends,

and rejoice with Joel and Roja
whose promises drew us across the water,

and ache for Joe who joined us there
and today grieves his brother’s death.

Disparate feelings stir, mix, tug,
today, as every day. Life.

27 April 2013
Shire near the Hudson

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Filed under Family, Friends, Ireland, New York, Poem

The responsibility of knowing

“Thank you for listening to me,” she said. Her eyes held mine as firmly as her hand clasped mine. “Thank you for listening.”

Listen I had as she spoke to me and to others in the UN community gathered for a reception for her and her colleagues from UNRWA in Syria. She spoke.

She spoke of life as a Palestine refugee. Her parents driven from their home as children and arriving in Syria to live supported by UNRWA – the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East. There, in a camp, she was born.

She spoke of insecurity and not belonging.

She spoke of working for UNRWA – and caring for over 500,000 Palestine refugees find themselves in Syria.

She spoke of the conflict in Syria – a conflict that did not involve the Palestinian refugees until the last quarter of 2012. Then the conflict began to penetrate their communities and the Palestine refugees came under huge pressure that has increased.

She spoke of Palestine refugees driven from where they live – with nowhere else to go. Lebanon can be a place of refuge, but the cost of living makes life difficult for people who live so close to the edge.

She spoke of young Palestine refugees forced to choose, taken, swept into the maelström of war.

She spoke of being displaced. Three times. Since December. Her husband has lost his job and gone to Lebanon with their two older sons – for their safety, while she remained behind in Syria with their younger sons and her work.

She spoke of colleagues who refuse to obey emergency messages and come into work any way because they recognize the needs of the Palestine refugees and want to do what they can to help. Sometimes they, sometimes she, spends the night at work.

She spoke of courage and grace.

She spoke of trying to raise enough funds to provide the Palestine refugees $1 a day for six months.

She spoke of what should be – Palestinians living in Palestine – and until then, what needs to be – the international community fulfilling its obligations to protect the Palestine refugees.

She spoke. I listened.

As I said good-by, she thanked me for listening.

I recognize the power of listening and the ministry of presence. I seek to practice it. I encourage others to do so.

My first response was to say, “You are welcome. You are very welcome.”

I meant it. But it did not seem enough. I went on, “Thank you. You honor me by sharing your stories with me. I am so grateful.”

I listened. But I will do more. My new friend graced me with her story and her pain. Now I know and I bear the responsibility of knowing. I carry her and the Palestine refugees with me. I will remember. I will share what I heard and understood. I will pray. And I will find ways to act.

If you have read this far – you too have listened. You know. You bear the responsibility of knowing. What will you do?

See you along the Trail.

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Filed under Current Events, Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations, United Nations