Why Didn’t They Hire A GLBTQ Dean At Washington National Cathedral?

Update 2017: Cathedral Organist Benjamin Straley performed for Donald Trump. One would have hoped he would have higher standards than that! Read more about that here at the top of the page.

This article is about the new Dean of Washington National Cathedral (WNC), a cathedral church of the Anglican Communion, in the District of Columbia, in the US/los Estados Unidos.

First, a request to production: Can you kindly please keep the camera on Benjamin when he’s playing his organ voluntaries and Communion improvisations? He deserves the same respect given the priests when they’re speaking. You don’t dare move the camera from a priest when s/he is speaking. Well Benjamin deserves the same respect as does your Cathedral Choir. Are you really that bored by watching your own musicians? There’s plenty of time during the Homily or before the organ prelude or after the Liturgy to show scenes of the cathedral (I’m referring to your obsession with the stained-glass windows; it’s really a turn-off). Muchas gracias.

Hola a todos. No, they did not hire a GLBTQ Dean. Even though I think they pride themselves on being a very pro-GLBTQ cathedral church, I’m sorry to report that wasn’t shown through their choice for a new Dean. Instead, they hired — what has become the predictable — the typical “straight” white guy as the new Dean. Very heteronormative. He will be installed later this year (2016). And I have some concerns.

I read they hired, oh excuse me, I meant to say “called” (that’s church language) a fundraiser as Dean of WNC because of his fund-raising abilities at his parish church in Richmond Virginia (I think Richmond is about a 2.5 – 3 hours drive south of the District). WNC is supposedly in need of millions of dollars. I did notice that they hired a white, “straight” guy for the position. No qualified Latinos, Hispanos, Chicanos, Mexicanos, Asians, Blacks, or indigenous peoples applied for the position? One would have hoped they would have hired a GLBTQ priest as Dean and someone who does not come with white privilege, no? The last two Deans have also been the cookie-cutter white and “straight” males and both were very Low Church. The last Dean was so Low Church that I often thought he would fit in very nicely in the southern baptist convention, if he weren’t pro-GLBTQ. He was also a devout Obamabot. It didn’t seem to matter to him how many innocent people had died in his Obama’s many wars or the continued shredding of the US Constitution, as long as his Obama catered to some issue or identity politics issue special to that Dean. I was glad when he left.

I’m concerned about what this new Dean is going to do based on what the former very Low Church Dean said in an interview about the future of WNC. He referred to “changing the programme” (that’s the language he used) as I recall. I didn’t know what that meant. I don’t think of Anglican Liturgies as “programmes” if that’s what he meant. Or was he speaking in code? It sounded to me like they planned to change the music genre used at WNC from Anglican Cathedral music to something else. *roll eyes* The first thing that came to mind was praise bands and “contemporary music.” Was he covertly talking about praise bands to attract the dumbed-down mainstream sheeple to WNC? Or maybe he was talking about jazz, gospel and “global song” which I’ve already written about in the article at that link. Do people come to an Anglican cathedral to hear jazz, gospel, “global song” and/or praise bands or something other than the time-honoured music of the Anglican tradition? I don’t think so. No gracias. I could be wrong, but I can think of one person I suspect would not go along with this (changing the music) and that person is Benjamin Straley, the superb Cathedral Organist and Associate Director of Music. He’s High Church, very devout and is a candidate for ordination to be an Anglican priest. I think he will make an excellent priest. They might lose him at WNC if they start tampering with the Music Department. Unfortunately, I sense that the person who runs the Music Department is very Low Church.

I don’t know why churches think they must use different language when they hire someone than that of other businesses. The reality is that a church (parish or cathedral) is a business. In any other business, the business says “We’ve now hired [fill in his/her name] for the position.” One article I read said, “Washington National Cathedral names new Dean.” Names? Not hires? Another article used the word “picks” instead of using the word hired. The words “Names” and “picks” doesn’t necessarily apply there’s a salary to the position, but we all know there is a salary and I would think that there’s a very generou$ salary connected with the position of Dean, no? But with christian religious organisations, they constantly feel the need to wrap the new hire in the context of the Floating Cloud Being by saying, “this priest has been called by god to serve as Dean at Washington National Cathedral.” But we all know that this Dean was specifically hired by some committee within the cathedral assisted by the Bishop. It was entirely a business decision based on raising dinero/$$$$$$$$$$$$$ for the cathedral. I did read in at least one article about this new-hire that this new Dean was “called” to the cathedral. I remember hearing that language as a child when new clergy were hired (“the church has called [fill in name] to serve our congregation” and it’s still used today. Instead of saying “he was hired” or “WNC has hired [fill in name} as its new Dean.” They like to wrap new hires in poetical religious terminology, when again in reality it was a business decision and he’s getting a salary and it comes with requirements and expectations, despite all the PR/BS flowery language used to announce the appointment.

I had read that with the new Dean that the cathedral was interested in someone who could stay in that position for at least 10 years to “take the cathedral into the future.” I also read some language in one article about restoring WNC to being “A House of Prayer For All People.” What is it now? Does that translate into the inclusion of evangelical praise bands and somehow changing the Liturgies, somehow by-passing the Book of Common Prayer to accommodate anti-GLBTQ evangelical christians? If one is trying to be, “A House of Prayer For All People” that would include the haters/anti-GLBTQ crowd). “A House of Prayer For All People” would also include the Orthodox Anglicans who can’t stand WNC because (in part) they have many women priests and the cathedral is pro-GLBTQ. I do know they are planning to bring in jazz with Andy Barnett’s group (which I think would only be appropriate in a Jazz Evensong) as well as gospel music (in an Anglican liturgy?…I know they’ve done some of that already) and “global song.” Andy is one of the new priests at WNC.

I’m not at all into identity politics because I have found that often backfires. (For example “the first Asian” mayor of San Francisco is a conservative and he along with his billionaire venture capitalist owner are in the process of ruining San Francisco and making The City a playground for the super-wealthy). But they are into identity politics at WNC, so considering that’s the case, it’s too bad that WNC didn’t take Grace Cathedral’s lead. WNC could have been a little more creative with their selection of a new Dean as Grace Cathedral (Anglican Communion) here in San Francisco was some years ago when they hired as their Dean una lesbiana/a lesbian from the CofE (Church of England). She and her partner moved to San Francisco from Great Britain. She didn’t last that long at Grace Cathedral; I think the politics at Grace are rather intense. She was only there 4 years. She’s now at Stanford University. She was replaced at Grace with — I bet you can’t guess! — a “straight” white guy. How unusual, no? Yes, “straight” white guys have become so predictable and expected among hirees, no? This comes while we’re told by the wishful-thinking idiots in the GLBTQ community that “gay is now mainstream.” Gay is not mainstream on the corporate media heteronormative television networks I monitor. All I see is him-tall and her-short making out and the required and perfunctory hand-holding (she’s so terribly insecure in their relationship and needy) and fawning over each other when having a fight in the next scene. At WNC they would say: Well we have a “straight” woman Bishop for the District (Diocese of Washington, District of Columbia) and the Presiding Bishop is a Black guy. Isn’t he “straight?” Yeah, I know that but that doesn’t change the point I’m making. It would have been nice to see WNC hire a Transgender genuine progressive Dean or a genuine progressive openly Gay/Queer boy Dean. GASP! We can’t have that! I guess not and that’s likely what the CofE would say. What would people think? They’ll think what they want to think and I suspect the resident congregation from what I know about them would be quite comfortable with what I’ve suggested. And no need to care about the tourists since they’re only there for one visit anyway most likely, and by looking at them in the videos of the Liturgies some of them don’t look like they have any idea where they are. Standing with their arms folded during the hymns. Some of them have this look on their face as if they’re thinking: “How did we end up here? I thought we were going to the Smithsonian.”

No, with the hiring, oh excuse me, “calling” of this new Dean, WNC went with The Establishment tradition route, unfortunately. I’ve also noticed the pro-Establishment people they’ve invited to the cathedral to speak there and invited to Liturgies over the years. Some really despicable people with the lowest of ethics, and some with no ethics compass whatsoever. Such basura as Madeline Albright, Colin Powell and others. Their guest have been from the thoroughly rotten and corrupt Democratic and Republican Establishment. They recently invited a woman from the war-mongering neocon Obama regime to give a Homily. One would hope they would have higher standards than that at WNC! I didn’t listen to her; I wasn’t about to. Did she happen to mention her Mr Nobel Peace Prize Obama/Mr Hope and Change We Can Believe In and his current 7 wars at any point during her Homily? They also invited that Cokie Roberts to speak. I lost respect for her when she referred to George W Bush as “a very attractive candidate” (one would have hoped that the woman would have higher standards) in one of her segments over National Pentagon Radio (npr) when he first ran for president. Then the Bush Crime Family later stole that 2000 election for him with the complicity of that wretch Katherine Harris and George’s brother Jeb (the governor at the time) in Florida. I do sense they are quite the Obamabots/Dembots at WNC. It would appear that Obama’s overall despicable and barbaric record in office and his greatly expanding on the agenda of the illegitimate Bush/Cheney regime does not seem to matter to them at WNC. It’s all about party-line and party allegiance. And partisans cringe and become quite uncomfortable when a politically-independent, nonpartisan and objective person such as myself points all this out.

Maybe the next Dean in ten years — if the current Dean stays that long — at Washington National Cathedral will be from the GLBTQ community. Although doubtful, considering the backward direction the US is going (towards the 1950s if not before). Chau.—el barrio rosa

Related:

I’m an Anglican Atheist

The Anti-Gay and Sexist Orthodox Anglicans

The woman is a despicable piece of work. She’s supporting war criminal Hillary, presumably because Hillary comes equipped with a cervix (more identity politics):

6 comments on “Why Didn’t They Hire A GLBTQ Dean At Washington National Cathedral?

  1. Wes in Arlington - GLBTQ

    That’s a strange crowd up there at National. I’m feeling less and less impressed by them as time passes. You have low church Michael and high church Benjamin. Clash. I watched their video of that spiritual (“Let my people go”) and felt ill. It’s like they’re trying to be evangelicals or something. Doesn’t work in a cathedral. It’s turning me off from wanting to go up there. I noticed with the cameras that the camera is never still. It never stays in one place….always creeping somewhere. Like with pop culture television, the camera is always moving somewhere even the slightest bit for low attention span people. They say they’re a house of prayer for all people and then turn off comments on all their videos. Tells me they’re not what they preach….they don’t want all people commenting.

  2. Alejandro

    Hooooooooooola. Like I’ve said before, and I don’t mean to sound like a broken record but you’re the only person or website that writes about churches but never talks about a deity or the concept of a deity, other than your reference to the floating cloud being (lol). I like that!!! I know you’re an atheist and I’m not a christian or anything but I’ve made it a point to read all of your articles about the churches you write about. If someone asked me how to describe them I’d have to say that you approach these liturgies that you write about as someone would approach art or an art form with the music mainly and the accompanying rituals. Maybe a good keyword would be “the art of the liturgy.” That’s really what you write about with your strong preference for the high church, rather than anything religious. I’m turned off big time by religion but I like your articles so that says something.

    About the new dean, do they have any openly GLBTQ priests at WNC? Makes me wonder if the pro-GLBTQ impression they like to give is more about window dressing when they don’t put it into practice by their hiring practices. Just saying…

    Gracias y saludos.

  3. D8

    Whoa. You took them on!! I’m an atheist and watch their videos every now and then or the ones that you post. I know you are a former Anglican or you use the term “Anglican Atheist” to describe yourself. If I were religious and I use that term loosely, I would be an Anglican because I like the liturgy and they have the best music. They did have a trans priest speak there sometime ago during the service. That was a first for them with a trans priest. They could have taken their time and searched for a GLBTQ dean even if one didn’t apply for the job. What was the rush in getting a new dean? I vote for leaving the music the way it is. I’ll go to a jazz club when I want to hear jazz.

    1. Wes in Arlington - GLBTQ

      We sound similar. I’m also an atheist but I like the Anglican Mass, altho not for any religious reasons. Just the music, procession, rituals, incense, the show, the theater. I think that’s partly why some people hate on the Anglican church and say it’s not a “real church” because there are some atheists in it. I live in Arlington outside the District and have been meaning to get up there to the cathedral but haven’t made it yet. If only the Metro stop was closer.

      Sounds like lots going on up there and not all of its good. I agree with el barrio rosa. Hope they don’t piss off Benjamin and he decides to leave.

Fin. The End.