Wednesday, August 31, 2005

anglican hurricane blog

From CaNN, a Katrina blog.

august 31: day of prayer in louisiana

Governor Kathleen Blanco: "As we face the devastation wrought by Katrina, as we search for those in need, as we comfort those in pain and as we begin the long task of rebuilding, we turn to God for strength, hope and comfort.

I have declared August 31, 2005, a Day of Prayer in the State of Louisiana. I am asking that all of Louisiana take some time Wednesday to pray. Pray for the victims and the rescuers. Please pray that God give us all the physical and spiritual strength to work through this crisis and rebuild.

Please pray for patience for those anxiously waiting to hear from family members or to get word about their homes. Pray for the safety of our hard-working rescuers and those they are bringing to safety.

I know, by praying together on Wednesday, that we can pull together and draw strength we need; strength, that only God can give us.

In my prayers, I will also thank God for the strong and resilient people of this state and how they are working to meet this challenge."

From KCLA in Louisiana.

Thousands and thousands and thousands of people now have nothing. No home, no food, no phones, no cars, nothing.

Offer your prayers tomorrow for the survivors, for the dead, for the bereaved, for the homeless, for the injured, for rescue workers, civic leaders and police, and for clergy in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. Lord, in thy mercy, hear our prayer.

Donate to the Red Cross here.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005


Read the whole thing here. Then go sign up for John O'Sullivan's anglo-catholic podcast.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

the feast of saint augustine of hippo

Assist us mercifully, O Lord, in these our supplications: that we, whom thou dost suffer to put our trust and confidence in thy mercy; may, at the intercession of blessed Augustine thy Confessor and Bishop, obtain of thy goodness the wonted effects of thy compassion. Through etc.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

the hysteria of some

The great bogeyman for the Episcopal revisionist is the frightening figure of the fundamentalist. This figure has become even more frightening with the rise of Islamic terrorism. Now revisionists can meld together in their fevered imaginations the figures of William Jennings Bryan and Osama bin Laden to form that terrifying demon who haunts their nightmares—the Episcopal fundamentalist! The fundamentalist is narrow-minded, irrational, aggressive, zealous, fanatical, and very, very dangerous. Like Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Terminator, the fundamentalist can’t be bargained with. He can’t be reasoned with. He doesn’t feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And he absolutely will not stop until he has taken full control of ECUSA and purged it of his enemies.

The fundamentalist sees everything in black and white and thus is incapable of negotiating questions that do not yield easy answers. The fundamentalist cannot emotionally tolerate ambiguity and paradox. He needs to live in an utterly secure universe where every theological and moral problem has a bright solution. No matter what the cost, the fundamentalist will impose his brutal designs upon the Episcopal Church—unless he is defeated, nay eradicated, first.

Read the whole thing here. Thank you, Fr. Kimel.

my american prayer...

Okay, I'm about to be political. At the end of the day, the one issue I care most about is life. I'm pro-life; and for better or worse, I'm a one issue voter. But I do like Obama. He seems like a nice guy. A talented guy. An inspiring guy. And as a Christian, I am sympathetic to many positions of the secular left in America.


But honestly, I think this video is kind of horrifying. First of all what is "American Prayer"? And once we've sorted out what it is categorically, what is THE American Prayer that they keep singing about? (And what is the "change" they keep touting on their placards? Obviously change can be good or bad...) Secondly, what is the "church you can't see"? America? God have mercy on us. I like America as much as the next guy. I'm profoundly grateful for having been born here, etc. But in no sense is it "a church" -- let alone "the church". Nor is it even in any sense church-like. Nor will Obama make it such, nor should he. I have always found the civic religiosity of (conservative) middle-American Protestantism to be revolting and dangerous. Its bizarre, and no less revolting and dangerous, to see it now being co-opted by the left. Also, I find it disturbing that Obama is seldom (ever?) shown in this video as a live person. Instead we just get a kind of granular, Chairman Mao-like visage of Obama waved at us from time to time – as though Obama were an abstraction, a spiritual ideal destined ever to remain slightly out of focus, just beyond the horizon of tangibility, distant, but ever smiling and benevolent – he is the immaterial force that inspires this in-gathering (this “ekklesia” if you will) of Americans in a communion of faith, hope, and love. He’s the loving power that inspires Forest Whitaker to gaze into heaven (expecting to see Obama?) and put his hand over his heart - the One, perhaps, implicitly who has gotten "to the top of the mountain" and will now tell us what he sees. And its hard to forget the fact, looking at the image toward the end of this video of the pregnant couple smiling at one another over the woman's womb, that the policy of Obama and his party is to ensure this woman's "right" to root-out and destroy the human life inside of her, ostensibly the source of this couple's joy.


By all means vote for Obama if you like. America could certainly do much worse. But vote for him because he’s a sensible guy with a sensible policy platform. Not because his election will align the planets and inaugurate the Age of Aquarius. This Obama messianism really frightens me.

a prayer against 'undenominationalism'

O God, Who hast revealed to us the whole gospel of salvation, and wouldest have all men go on unto perfection in the full knowledge of Thy revelation, have mercy on those who know only the bare elements thereof; and grant that they, laying aside prejudice, may strive to advance in the realization of Thy truth; and rising above human compromises may fully believe Thy divine teaching, and seek no other basis of Christian unity than the fulness of the faith once delivered to the saints. Through etc.


“We’re trying to secure everything at St. Andrew’s, New Orleans, which
includes church, day school buildings, parish house, parish hall.
The tougher challenge is facing again the terrible decision about
evacuation. Churches have been enlisted by the state to urge
evacuation, because a Category 4 storm hitting New Orleans could put
us under 18 feet of water for weeks. “Think Pompeii” they said.
Trouble is, there are too few roads leading out and many can’t leave– older persons and those who care for them, people in nursing homes,
hospitals, etc.. Mandatory evacuation is not possible here–a dilemma
for anyone in the path of such potential destruction. Please to pray
for all of us in the path of Katrina.”

From T1:9. Thanks Fr. Harmon.

Lord deliver them from storm and tempest, and from defilement of any kind. Give your angels charge over them. Holy Mary, pray for them. Through Jesus Christ our Lord.

the secret of their success (the cost and glory of hospitality)

Thousands were inspired by direct conversations with Brother Roger, and speak of his compassion and interest. Essentially, though, he taught them what he practised himself: the sustaining power of prayer: “I do not deny the value of all these talks we have with them, yet the finest thing is not to be found there, but in our waiting in contemplation” (from Panorama Aujourd’hui).

Read the whole thing here.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

sacramentalism, relics, and hallowed materiality

When the ordinands lie prone and motionless during the Litanies, you would take them for inanimate objects. When their hands are anointed and bound, you will realise that the Church claims (as it were) those hands for her own. Those hands, newly anointed, are to be kissed by the faithful after the ceremony. The priest, in fact, corresponds in a sense to Aristotle’s definition of a slave—he has become a living tool.


And, for the second count, it is to be considered that the efficacy which our theology attributes to this or that ceremony, this or that kind of contact with material things, is not a direct efficacy, as if the ceremony or the thing touched exercised any influence in its own right. We kiss the priest’s hands because the bishop who ordained him, in the name of the whole Church, has prayed Almighty God to bless whatever these hands touch in benediction. We take holy water because this same priest, in the name of the whole Church, has prayed that God would protect in certain ways all those who, out of piety, should so make use of it. In a word, we are treating material objects and vocal formulas as the occasions upon which God himself will see fit to bestow a blessing upon us, in answer to the prayers offered when the object was hallowed, or the formula instituted. An exception must, of course, be made in favour of spots which are kept sacred by historical memories, or of relics which belonged to the saints; here our appeal for help is grounded, not upon the places themselves but upon the events which happened there, not upon the relics themselves but on the merits of the saints who have left them to us. And if, here and there, a taint of superstition (properly so called) infects the devotion of ill-instructed souls the Church will rather smile at their folly than hold up reproving hands; she knows how to deal with children.

By Ronald Knox. Read the whole thing here. Thank you Fr. Kimel.

clergy and church members in the episcopal diocese of connecticut file formal charges against bp. andrew smith

Read the whole thing here. See, Beloved? More escalation. This is why I do not understand Bp. Smith's actions at St. John's. He had to have seen this kind of retaliation as inevitable. I certainly did, and I'm much more ignorant than he is.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

can anything good come out of nazareth? come and see.

Today, August 24, is the feast of St. Bartholomew, the Apostle of our Lord.

Bartholomew is that Apostle who is also called Nathaniel. For Nathaniel is his true name, whereas Bartholomew is his patronymic, derived from Bar-Tolomai, that is, Son-of-Tolomai. The Gospel according to John hath no mention of any Apostle by the name of Bartholomew, but speaketh of Nathaniel as gbeing led to Christ by Philip; whereas the other Gospels speak of Bartholomew and his fellow Philip, but make no mention of Nathaniel. Hence he was that Galilean of whom John saith: Philip findeth Nathaniel, and saith unto him, we have found him of whom Moses in the Law, and the Prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph. And Nathaniel made answer: Can any good thing come out of Nazareth? To whom Philip replied: Come and see. And when Jesus saw Nathaniel coming unto him, he said: Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no guile. Whereupon Nathaniel asked: Whence knowest thou me. To whom, in answer, Jesus made mention of something whereof only Nathaniel had knowledge, most likely a secret struggle as to his vocation, saying: Before Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig tree, I saw thee. Whereupon this man, whose goodness Jesus commended as a true IOsraelite, and a man without guile, made his allegiance, saying: Rabbi, thou art the Son of God! thou art the King of Israel!

There are no historical records of the Apostle Bartholomew except in the Scripture. But the popular tradition concerning him is as followeth. In the division of the world among the Apostles it fell to his lot to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the region which the ancients styled Hither India, which was a name applied to parts of Ethiopia, Arabia, Persia, and the lands adjoining. And he went thither, and preached the coming of the Lord Jesus, taking with him, for their instruction, the Gospel according to Matthew. When he had turned many in that region to Jesus Christ, and had endured many toils and woes, he came into the Greater Armenia. According to the unanimous tradition of the later historians of Armenia, that country was the place of his passion and death. For it is said that he there brought to the Christian Faith Polymius the King, and his wife, and likewise the inhabitants of twelve cities. This provoked a great hatred against him among the priests of that nation, who so stirred up Astyages the brother of King Polymius, and inflamed him against the Apostle, that he savagely ordered Bartholomew to be flayed alive and beheaded; under the which martyrdom he gave up his soul to God.

His body was buried at the town of Albanopolis in the Greater Armenia, where he had suffered. His relicks are reputed to have been carried hither and thither in after times, for example: to the island of Lipari; and then to Benevento; and lastly, the Emperor Otho III brought some of them to Rome, where they were laid in the church dedicated to God in his name on the island in the Tiber. And his feast is kept on August 24th, the traditional date of the translation of these last-named relicks. He is revered as the Apostle of the Armenians, and is invoked as the Patron of hospitals, but most of all as one who for his goodness merited praise from the Lord. The love that Christ had for this Israelite without guile is shewn by the Evangelist John, who recordeth that Nathaniel was with Peter, Thomas, and the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples, on the shores of the Tiberian Sea, when after the resurrection their Master came to comfort them, and fed them with the food which, with his own hands, he had prepared and cooked for them.

Stanza 2 of Vesper Hymn:

Bartholomew the good, now crowned with Saints in light,
A radiant, golden star, is than the sun more bright:
May heavenly lustre shine on our beclouded way,
That, purged and healed in soul, we reach the perfect day.


Almighty and everlasting God, who didst give to thine Apostle Bartholomew grace truly to believe and to preach thy Word: grant, we beseech thee, unto thy Church, to love that Word which he believed, and both to preach and receive the same. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

From the Anglican Breviary. St. Bartholomew reminds us to what lengths the saints are willing to go to proclaim to the world God's own self-communication, the gospel of Jesus Christ. He was willing to be flayed alive for the sake of the gospel. How far would we go to proclaim our Lord? Is the glorious crown of martyrdom a crown we would wear?

Holy Bartholomew, pray for us!

this is encouraging

Brother Roger Schutz pursued many ecumenical dreams in his long life, but in death one of them came true: At a Eucharistic service celebrated Tuesday by a Roman Catholic cardinal for Brother Roger, a Swiss Protestant, communion wafers were given to the faithful indiscriminately, regardless of denomination.

Read the whole thing here. Folks can get carried away with the Taize aesthetic, and they can ape it to their detriment. But Taize was (and is) used powerfully by the Lord.

and now for something completely different....

HAT KHRAI, Thailand -- The monster fish announced itself with four resounding whacks of its tail, thrashing against the net that had trapped it in the pale brown water of the Mekong River.

It was a fish called the giant catfish and it was the size of a grizzly bear, taking 5 boatmen an hour to pull it in and 10 men to lift it when they reached the shore in this remote village in northern Thailand.

It was only after their catch had been chopped into pieces and sold that they learned how special it was. At 2.7 meters, or 9 feet, long and weighing 293 kilograms, or 646 pounds, it may be the biggest freshwater fish ever recorded.

Read the whole thing here. Chalk this up to my fascination with mysterious things, and my love of fishing.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

++griswold to kentucky reporter

I see my ministry as one of connecting pieces, reminding people of a variety of points of view, that they don’t have a corner on God’s truth. God’s truth has many dimensions. The Anglican tradition has always … been a tradition in which widely divergent points of view have been held together not by one point of view capitulating to another but by common prayer, focusing beyond opinions on the person of Christ.

This is the kind of vaccuous claptrap that really rankles. Can anyone sympathetic with Bp. Griswold's perspective explain what he is talking about? If its true that no one person has "a corner on God's truth", is that true for Griswold? What is the pluriformity of God's truth supposed to be like? How can we assess the truth value of a statement asserting (as true, presumably) the pluriformity of "God's truth"? I just can't see how (A & ~A) is anything but absurd. Help.

"Person A is apostate" say the Connecticut 6.

"It is not the case that person A is apostate" says Bp. Smith.

Is the hierarchy really interested in "living in tension" here? Actions speak louder than words, as Fr. Mark of St. John's, Bristol, I'm sure, will tell you.

Maybe ++Griswold isn't talking about the kinds of doctrinal differences on display in Connecticut. But if not, what's the point? And what, pray, is he talking about?

Read the whole thing here.

why the roman catholic church is failing... err... wait a second....

The Church needs to be more Christian and less Roman. I pray that this ultra-traditionalist Pope will come to see what Christ really taught. His positions on sexuality, respect for the laity, the priesthood, and other topics are more militaristic than they are Christian. He must decide to follow Christ rather than the great earthly powers.

A comment from here about World Youth Day, etc. Translation: "The Pope should be a liberal Protestant." Its a real shame Pope Benedict doesn't understand Catholic doctrine.

what is the unchanging principle? by j. barrington bates

Elsewhere in his text, Chauvet asserts a definition of another component of the eucharistie liturgy, Scripture. he proposes an innovative definition of Scripture, saying it includes "not only the Scriptures themselves, but . . . everything pertaining to the understanding of revelation: basic catechetical instruction and the present-day propositions concerning the on-going formation of Christians, as well as the corpus of patristic, medieval, and contemporary theologies."21 He goes so far as to claim texts which the Bible retains have survived because of their use in the liturgy,22 thus rejecting the notion that liturgy survives primarily as a means of proclaiming that same Scripture. The norm, he says, "is thus not the Book alone, but the Book in the hand of the community. The Church thus represents the impossibility of sola scriptura."23 In other words, Chauvet posits that Scripture is much more than words, that it cannot be understood, received, or apprehended as a text alone, and that the congregation serves in an integral way as the context for proclamation-without which Scripture simply would not be Scripture. Working from a framework of identity, Chauvet holds that the combination of gathered assembly and received tradition serves to endow the printed word with its particular character as the Word of God.

Read the whole thing here. Sola Scriptura is certainly problematical. And I think many of Anglicanism's current woes have their roots in a Communion-wide exegetical deficiency which, in turn, has its roots in a Communion-wide ecclesiological deficiency. Not that our Church is deficient, nor that our exegetical praxis is (necessarily) deficient, but rather that our Church has deficiently defined both; and the one
because of the other.

Moreover, I have sometimes said that one thing the Anglican Communion lacks -- and it in turn is a manifestation of the unity we lack -- is a panAnglican Eucharistic rite: a rite that is authorized for use anywhere in the Communion. I would propose that such a rite be the 1662 BCP rite. It is, after all, the sort of Mother Rite, the Rite from which all of the myriad Anglican and quasi-Anglican rites sprang. But what do I know?

miroslav volf: not by sausage alone

As I was thinking about Djeda Gjordje and his well-worn Bible, I remembered having heard that in any village in Mauritania, one of the poorest nations in the world, you could find a dozen men able to recite the whole Qur’an by heart. True, unlike most of the Bible, the Qur’an is written in verse, which is easier to remember than prose. But still it takes time to commit such a large book to memory and to keep it there. On the fringes of what we call civilization, many people take a great deal of time to read texts about great questions of human existence and the challenges of a life worth living.

Over the past decades cultural critics have bemoaned the loss of biblical literacy in the West. Even educated people are unable to understand great classics of Western literature because they are unfamiliar with the Bible, which forms its indispensable background. That’s a major cultural loss. But that loss is small compared to the moral, spiritual and intellectual impoverishment that comes from letting our lives be saturated by the superficial instead of being immersed into the profound.

Read the whole thing here. Via T1:9.

order of service for the funeral of frère roger

Song : Christe, lux mundi, qui sequitur te habebit lumen vitae, lumen vitae.

Christ, light of the world, those who follow you will have the light of light, the light of life.

Read the whole thing here.

scientists speak up on mix of god and science

Disdain for religion is far from universal among scientists, and some are beginning to speak out about their faith.

Read the whole thing here.

Monday, August 22, 2005

catholicism in the south

This New Catholicism is young and optimistic, but it is unlikely to tolerate the open dissent that went with the 1970s and the “cultural Catholicism” of generations past. That form of Catholicism is dying, and its death is symbolised by the northern US parishes with plummeting congregations, a shortage of priests and huge debts as they pay off child-abuse scandals. It seems that in the parishes where “anything goes”, everybody went.

Father Timothy Reid, 34, one of the priests who has moved south, told Time magazine that he moved to Charlotte as “it’s more vibrant here because we’re creating a Catholic culture almost from scratch”.

Father Jay Scott Newman, pastor of St Mary’s, Greenville, South Carolina, said: “Here you are not Catholic because your parents came from Italy or Slovakia. It’s because you believe what the Church teaches you is absolutely true.”


However, the tension between Evangelicalism and Catholicism in the US is waning. As the main Protestant churches continue to haemorrhage members, money and influence, the two main religious forces in America are Catholicism and Evangelicalism. Despite the historical tensions, these two religious forces are surprisingly convergent; their steady rapprochement and shared conservative agenda has been analysed in the recent book Is the Reformation Over? Many ascribe George Bush’s election to his second presidential term to the fact that he appealed to the New Catholic vote as well as the right-wing Evangelical vote.

A fascinating article in The Times (London). Read the whole thing here. Thank you Fr. Kimel.

congratulations to father lee nelson

Father Lee Nelson, a Worker in the Vineyard, was ordained priest yesterday. Congratulations.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

over a million turn out to see pope benedict at world youth day

COLOGNE, Germany (AP) -- More than 1 million Roman Catholic young people who had camped out overnight in an enormous field welcomed Benedict XVI on Sunday for the concluding Mass of his four-day trip to Germany, his first foreign travel as pope.

As he began his homily, calling on the pilgrims and visitors to World Youth Day to make wise use of the freedom God had given them, the sun broke through the thick, gray clouds.

"Freedom is not simply about enjoying life in total autonomy, but rather about living by the measure of truth and goodness so that we ourselves can become true and good," he said.

He said there is a "strange forgetfulness of God," while at same time the sense of frustration and dissatisfaction has led to a "new explosion of religion."

"I have no wish to discredit all the manifestations of this phenomenon. There may be sincere joy in the discovery," he said. "Yet, if it is pushed too far, religion becomes almost a consumer product. People choose what they like, and some are even able to make a profit from it."

"But religion constructed on a 'do-it-youself' basis cannot ultimately help us. Help people to discover the true star which points out the way to us: Jesus Christ."

He urged the youth to take the time to regularly attend Sunday Mass.

"If you make the effort, you will realize that this is what gives a proper focus to your free time," he said.

Read the whole thing here.

I wonder how many youth would turn up to an Episcopalian youth event? A hundred? A thousand? I wonder how many of those actually believe in God? Its also amusing, in the light of events such as this, that the RC Church is often accused of being uninclusive

Friday, August 19, 2005

comment from primate of the orthodox church in america on the death of br. roger

J-Tron's comment below:

Such an incredible tragedy. Guess it goes to show that there's nowhere where we are truly safe from the depravity of evil and sin except in the bosom of Christ.

Let me add to the mix the response of Metropolitan Hermon, the Primate of the Orthodox Church in America:

"Having just learned that Brother Roger’s life on earth has been senselessly taken from him and that he has fallen asleep in the Lord, I greet you with brotherly love in Christ and extend my sincere condolences.

Throughout the many years of his monastic life and service, Brother Roger was a well-known example of dedication to the work of Christian Unity.

Through the example of his life, Brother Roger reminded all Christians of our call to be one in the Lord. The great legacy that he leaves behind has now been entrusted to you.

Be assured of our fervent prayer that the Lord will grant rest with the saints to His newly-departed servant, Brother Roger, and make his memory to be eternal!”

responses to the death of frère roger

From ++Rowan:

(ACNS) The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, has expressed his shock and sadness on learning of the horrific death of Brother Roger of Taizé:

“This is an indescribable shock. Brother Roger was one of the best loved
Christian leaders of our time, and hundreds of thousands will be feeling
his loss very personally, and remembering him in prayer and gratitude.

“But the shock and trauma for the community at Taizé will be heavy-and
it will be for all the young people who witnessed this event. All of
them are in our prayers.”

And from Pope Benedict:

At the end of today’s catechesis in Castel Gandolfo, Pope Benedict XVI paid homage to Brother Roger, who was killed yesterday in Taizé (eastern France). Visibly shaken and speaking extemporaneously, the Pontiff said this morning that he “received very sad, terrifying news; that Brother Roger, founder of the Taizé communities, was killed in a knife attack, most likely by a deranged woman”.

“This most sad news strikes me even more because just yesterday I received a letter from him,” the Pope said, “a very moving and loving letter in which he was wholeheartedly one with the Pope and all those who were in Cologne” for World Youth Days, an event that to which he could not come because of his health conditions, but in which he was “spiritually present”.

Benedict XVI also noted that, in his letter, Brother Roger said he intended to come to Rome and that the Taizé community wanted to walk with the new Pope.

“In this moment of sadness we can only commend to the Lord’s goodness the soul of His faithful servant who has reached eternal happiness,” the Pope added.

And lastly, an article from the Herald Tribune can be found here. Rest eternal grant unto him, o Lord; and let light perpetual shine upon him. May his soul, and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercies of God rest in peace. Amen.

youthful throngs cheer pope

Read the whole thing here. Apparently wind was an issue.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

fidelium anime per misericordia dei requiescant in pace. amen.

Frère Roger has entered the life of eternity

During the evening prayer on Tuesday 16 August, in the midst of the crowd surrounding the Community in the Church of Reconciliation, a woman - probably mentally disturbed - struck Brother Roger violently with knife blows. He died a few moments later.

In its sorrow, the Taizé Community thanks all those who are supporting it by their affection and their prayer. On the morning of 17 August, after Brother Roger’s death, the following prayer was read in the church:

“Christ of compassion, you enable us to be in communion with those who have gone before us, and who can remain so close to us. We confide into your hands our Brother Roger. He already contemplates the invisible. In his footsteps, you are preparing us to welcome a radiance of your brightness.”

The funeral of Brother Roger will take place on Tuesday 23 August at 14.00.

Each afternoon, from 15.00 to 19.00, his body is placed in the church of Taizé, so that all who wish may go and meditate close by him.

Eight years ago, Brother Roger designated Brother Alois to succeed him, as the person in charge of the community. Brother Alois has entered straightaway into his ministry as servant of communion at the heart of the community.


strange and sad -- the demons are full of hubris

The murder during a church service of one of the 2Oth century's leading
cross-faith figures, Brother Roger, has shocked the congregation. A
36-year-old Romanian woman stood up during the ceremony yesterday [Tuesday,
August 16] and stabbed the 90-year-old three times in the throat. He died

One mourning worshipper said Brother Roger gave everybody a sense of peace
and that his loss like this was incomprehensible. The Protestant pastor from
Switzerland commanded great respect from followers of all the world's major

It was in eastern France, where he died, that he founded the Taizé monastic
community in 1940. Today its over 100 brothers include Protestants and
Catholics from more than 25 countries.

ACNS 4024 | ACO | 17 AUGUST 2005

Statement from the Secretary General on the death of Brother Roger of Taizé

Wednesday 17 August 2005

The news of the death of Brother Roger has saddened Anglicans around the
world, and we are especially shocked by the violent manner of his death,
which was in stark contrast to his lifelong ministry of peace and

The Taizé community which he founded, whose witness to ecumenism and
reconciliation especially among young people will be his lasting
memorial, has influenced Christian worship and spirituality worldwide,
and it is to that Community that I extend our prayers and heartfelt
sympathy at this time.

ACNSlist, published by Anglican Communion News Service, London, is
distributed to more than 8,000 journalists and other readers around
the world.

For subscription INFORMATION please go to:

For daily updates on local, national and communion-wide news stories
please visit the ACNS Digest page:

Monday, August 15, 2005

mainline protestantism will reach a certain point where it will appeal only to wiccans, vegetarians, sandal-wearers, and people who play the recorder

I realize that this is not an argument against the moral integrity of the agenda of the lib prot's. But it does seem, nonetheless, to represent the facts. Assuming the lib prot's are right (in the moral sense), maybe the Lord just means for the Church to die out???

"No one will feel at home there if they believe in God."

A New Exodus? Americans are Exiting Liberal Churches

"We have figured out your problem. You're the only one here who believes in
God." That statement, addressed to a young seminarian, introduces Dave
Shiflett's new book, Exodus: Why Americans are Fleeing Liberal Churches for
Conservative Christianity. The book is an important contribution, and
Shiflett offers compelling evidence that liberal Christianity is fast
imploding upon itself.

Shiflett, an established reporter and author, has written for The Washington

Post, The Weekly Standard, National Review, The Wall Street Journal, and
Investors' Business Daily, among other major media. He is also author of
Christianity on Trial and is a member of the White House Writers Group.

Shiflett's instincts as a reporter led him to see a big story behind the
membership decline in liberal denominations. At the same time, Shiflett
detected the bigger picture--the decline of liberal churches as compared to
growth among the conservatives. Like any good reporter, he knew he was onto
a big story.

"Americans are vacating progressive pews and flocking to churches that offer

more traditional versions of Christianity," Shiflett asserts. This author is

not subtle, and he gets right to the point: "Most people go to church to get

something they cannot get elsewhere. This consuming public--people who
already believe, or who are attempting to believe, who want their children
to believe--go to church to learn about the mysterious Truth on which the
Christian religion is built. They want the Good News, not the minister's
political views or intellectual coaching. The latter creates sprawling
vacancies in the pews. Indeed, those empty pews can be considered the
earthly reward for abandoning heaven, traditionally understood."

Taken alone, the statistics tell much of the story. Shiflett takes his
reader through some of the most salient statistical trends and wonders aloud

why liberal churches and denominations seem steadfastly determined to follow

a path that will lead to their own destruction. Shiflett also has a unique
eye for comparative statistics, indicating, for example, that "there may now

be twice as many lesbians in the United States as Episcopalians."

Citing a study published in 2000 by the Glenmary Research Center, Shiflett
reports that the Presbyterian Church USA declined by 11.6 percent over the
previous decade, while the United Methodist Church lost "only" 6.7 percent
and the Episcopal Church lost 5.3 percent. The United Church of Christ was
abandoned by 14.8 percent of its members, while the American Baptist
Churches USA were reduced by 5.7 percent.

On the other side of the theological divide, most conservative denominations

are growing. The conservative Presbyterian Church in America [PCA] grew 42.4

percent in the same decade that the more liberal Presbyterian denomination
lost 11.6 percent of its members. Other conservative denominations
experiencing significant growth included the Christian Missionary Alliance
(21.8 percent), the Evangelical Free Church (57.2 percent), the Assemblies
of God (18.5 percent), and the Southern Baptist Convention (five percent).

As quoted in Exodus, Glenmary director Ken Sanchagrin told the New York
Times that he was "astounded to see that by and large the growing churches
are those that we ordinarily call conservative. And when I looked at those
that were declining, most were moderate or liberal churches. And the more
liberal the denomination, by most people's definition, the more they were

Any informed observer of American religious life would know that these
trends are not new--not by a long shot. The more liberal Protestant
denominations have been losing members by the thousands since the 1960s,
with the Episcopal Church USA having lost fully one half of its members over

the period.

In a sense, the travail of the Episcopal Church USA is the leading focus of
Shiflett's book. Indeed, Shiflett states his intention to begin "with the
train wreck known as the Episcopal Church USA." As he tells it, "One Tuesday

in latter-day Christendom, the sun rose in the east, the sky became a
pleasant blue, and the Episcopal Church USA elected a gay man as bishop for
a small New Hampshire diocese." How could this happen? The ordination of a
non-celibate homosexual man as a bishop of the Episcopal Church flew
directly in the face of the clear teachings of Scripture and the official
doctrinal positions of the church. No matter--the Episcopal Church USA was
determined to normalize homosexuality, even as they have normalized divorce
and remarriage. As Shiflett explains, "It is commonly understood that the
election of the Reverend Gene Robinson, an openly gay priest, to be bishop
of the diocese of New Hampshire was undertaken in clear opposition to
traditional church teaching ! and Scripture. What is often left unsaid is
that this is hardly the first time tradition has been trounced. The Reverend

Gene Robinson's sexual life was an issue and was accommodated, just as the
Episcopal Church earlier found a way to embrace bishops who believe that
Jesus is no more divine, at least in a supernatural sense, than Bette

What makes Shiflett's book unique is the personal narratives he has
collected and analyzed. Exodus is not a book of mere statistics and
research. To the contrary, Shiflett crossed America, interviewing both
conservatives and liberals in order to understand what is happening within
American Christianity. Shiflett's interviews reveal fascinating insights
into the underlying realities and the personal dimensions of theological
conflict. Exodus is written in a very direct style, with Shiflett providing
readers anecdotes and analysis of his personal interaction with those he

One of Shiflett's interviewees was the Reverend Bruce Gray, Rector of St.
John's Episcopal Church in Richmond, Virginia. In an interesting comment,
Shiflett recalls that this was the very church where Patrick Henry gave his
famous speech in 1775--the speech in which Henry cried: "Give me liberty, or

give me death!" As Shiflett notes, "The Episcopal Church, by freeing itself
from many of its traditional beliefs, sometimes appears to be well on its
way to achieving both." Revered Gray supports the election of Gene Robinson
as Bishop of New Hampshire, and he told Shiflett that the biblical
condemnations of homosexuality had been considered by thoughtful people who
had decided that the texts do not mean what they appear to mean. He cited
his own bishop, who had issued an episcopal letter arguing, "Many people
believe any homosexual activity is purely prohibited by Scripture . . . .
But other Christians who take Scripture seriously believe that the Biblical
writers were not addre! ssing the realities of people with a permanent
homosexual orientation living in faithful, monogamous relationships, and
that the relevant scriptural support for those relationships is similar to
the expectations of faithfulness Scripture places on marriage." That is
patent nonsense, of course, but this is what passes for theological argument

among those pushing the homosexual agenda.

In order to understand why so many Episcopalians are leaving, Shiflett
visited Hugo Blankenship, Jr., son of the Reverend Hugo Blankenship, who had

served as the church's Bishop of Cuba. Blankenship is a traditionalist, who
explained that his father must be "spinning in his grave" in light of
developments in his beloved Episcopal Church. As Shiflett sees it, the
church that Bishop Hugo Blankenship had served and loved is gone. In its
place is a church that preaches a message Shiflett summarizes as this: "God
is love, God's love is inclusive, God acts in justice to see that everyone
is included, we therefore ought to be co-actors and co-creators with God to
make the world over in the way he wishes."

Shiflett also surveys the growing list of "celebrity heretics" whose
accepted presence in liberal denominations serves as proof positive of the
fact that these groups will tolerate virtually anything in terms of belief.
Shiflett discusses the infamous (and now retired) Episcopal Bishop of
Newark, New Jersey, John Shelby Spong. "When placed in a wider context,
Spong is simply another character from what might be called America's
religious freak show." Yet, the most important insight to draw from Spong's
heresies is the fact that he has been accepted without censure by his
church. As Shiflett explains, Spong's views, "while harshly criticized in
some quarters as being far beyond the pale, are present not only throughout
the mainline but throughout Protestantism, even in churches that are assumed

to maintain traditional theological rigor."

In Shiflett's turn of a phrase, these liberal theologians believe in a "Wee
deity," a vapid and ineffectual god who is not much of a threat and is
largely up for individual interpretation.

On the other side of the divide, Shiflett spent time with conservative Roman

Catholics, the Orthodox, Southern Baptists, and the larger evangelical
community. In considering Southern Baptists, Shiflett largely drew upon
interviews he conducted with me and with Richard Land, President of the
Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention.
Shiflett understands recent Southern Baptist history, and he takes his
readers through the denomination's "conservative resurgence" that defied the

conventional wisdom that denominations can never be pulled back in a more
conservative direction.

More importantly, Shiflett understands that doctrinal beliefs are the
crucial variable determining whether churches and denominations grow or
decline. He deals with the statistical data honestly, even as he points to
the larger context and the underlying factors at work.

Shiflett's opening story about the seminarian who was confronted by his
peers underlines the importance of theological seminaries as agents for
either the perpetuation or the destruction of the faith.

In this case, seminarian Andy Ferguson, who had questioned the
anti-supernaturalistic claims of his seminary professors, was confronted by
a fellow seminary student who said, "We've been talking about you. We know
you're having a rough time, and we've finally figured out what your problem
is . . . . You're the only one here who believes in God." Andy Ferguson
decided that his fellow student was right. "They believed in things like the

redemptive power of the universe, but I was the last one there who wanted to

defend the biblical God--the God who makes claims on us, who said we should
do some things and not do others, and who put each one of us here for a

In the end, Andy Ferguson left the liberal seminary, converted to
Catholicism, and went into the business world. He told Dave Shiflett that
liberal Protestantism is doomed. "Mainline Protestantism will reach a
certain point where it will appeal only to Wiccans, vegetarians,
sandal-wearers, and people who play the recorder. No one will feel at home
there if they believe in God."

Exodus is a book that is simultaneously brave and honest. Refreshingly, he
eschews mere sociological analysis and points to the more foundational
issue--truth. No doubt, this book will be appreciated in some quarters and
hated in others, but it is not likely to be ignored.


R. Albert Mohler, Jr. is president of The Southern Baptist Theological
Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. For more articles and resources by Dr.
Mohler, and for information on The Albert Mohler Program, a daily national
radio program broadcast on the Salem Radio Network, go to For information on The Southern Baptist Theological
Seminary, go to Send feedback to

Saturday, August 13, 2005

sic semper tyrannus

WB is off to Virginia for a week, Beloved. But do not fear! The blog will follow him there.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

planned parenthood video -- you must see it to believe it

America's favorite institutional champion of mass murder has produced an educational video for teens. It features a superhero named "Dionysus" flying around and educating people. She also has a gun with which she shoots Christians (who look like zombies) with giant condoms. Then she dunks a "misinformed conservative" senator into a vat of toxic waste, turning him into some kind of suckling-pig-mutant.

Download it here, then applaud Planned Parenthood's heroic virtue and irenic tolerance.

(Also, if you missed it, you can read +Gene Robinson's interview with Planned Parenthood here.)

Thanks to Caleb for discovering this.

as alistair mcintyre put it, what europe needs is another benedict

Aug. 15, 2005 issue - On the day before pope John Paul II died last April, as the faithful and the curious gathered in St. Peter's Square awaiting word of his fate, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was speaking in the village of Subiaco inthe mountains outside Rome. Priests, monks and nuns listened in the chill air of an austere Gothic convent as he told them, "Europe has developed a culture that, in a manner unknown before now to humanity, excludes God from the public conscience." Attempts to manage human affairs while "disdaining God completely," he said, have led us "to the edge of the abyss."

Read the whole thing here.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

an interesting site

Check it out. Its The Hermitary, resources and reflections on hermits and solitude.

love as self-gift, part 3

III. Best Practices

I firmly believe that situations in the Episcopal Church such as the one at Rosemont have been handled incredibly poorly, and the poor handling of these situations has lent itself to bitterness, no just between the principle parties in the dispute, but between the ideological camps who take up the cause of either party. It is depressing to consider how far Bp. Bennison has fallen in the estimation of conservatives who might otherwise have given him a chance. Likewise, Fr. Moyer has alienated himself from many for what is seen as his grandstanding. [11]

Good practices (to say nothing of “best” practices) are hardly discernible among any of the various parties in the Episcopal Church these days. Too often conservatives cling so tightly to doctrine that they lose their grip on charity. Too often liberals talk about “inclusivity”, “diversity”, and “tolerance” out of one side of their mouths, while clamoring out the other side of their mouths for the ouster of those they deem intolerably anachronistic.

The kettle usually boils when money or property is involved. This is no accident, for what better illustrates Kierkegaard’s point than money? Money is nothing if not the concretized demarcation of mine and yours. A best practice would therefore seem to be one that maximally downplayed the acquisitiveness at play in disputes over money or property. Such a practice would likely involve the Good Shepherds of our contemporary ecclesial culture being willing to forsake all and worship in the local middle school gymnasium if it came to it. It would involve the Bp. Bennison’s of our time not holding their (legitimate) prerogatives so dear that they will not forego them for the sake of love, even love for their enemies.

A word about power is in order. In the polity of the Episcopal Church, it is almost always the bishops who have the real power. Fr. Moyer, for example, could not inhibit or depose Bp. Bennison if he wanted to. That being the case, a best practice must be cognizant of the fact that, barring special circumstances, the bishop holds almost all the cards. This is as it should be. But given that this is so, it falls on the bishop to take the loving initiative in self-offering. Bishops must be willing to make concessions. Storehouses of good will must be built. Trust must be manifest. And if acrimony persists, bishops ought to be willing to part company on the most generous of terms.


11. When he was consecrated as a bishop in the Traditional Anglican Communion, he succeeded in alienating many even in his own “camp.” That action appears to justify accusations of grandstanding, and suspicions among liberals that he was only out for a mitre all along.

one of wb's more lucid and, i dare say, incisive moments

I refer you, Beloved, to a comment thread in Pontifications, well worth the several weeks it will take you to read. Find it here. Its good to see serious philosophical engagement with the issues. Reproduced below is one of my own comments which cuts to the heart of those things on which I am forever declaiming:

From the Scotist: “My point was whatever Paul had in mind shouldn’t settle what the passage means—the text doesn’t belong to Paul regardless of his authorship, but it does belong to the worshipping Church (and, I should say, to God who inspired Paul). Paul’s intended meaning, supposing we can discern it, can only be one ingredient among others in our interpretation. Worse–we should remain open to the Spirit moving us as we read it, even if the Spirit moves us away from whatever Paul himself meant.”

Echoing Fr. Stephen, and what Fr. Kimel hinted at, it seems to me that we can pretty freely grant the Scotist’s proposition above. But would even liberal Episcopalians be so audacious as to claim that their coterie is coextensive with “the worshipping Church”? Amazingly, that’s what Scotist seems to imply. Has no one commenting on, e.g., Romans 1 ever been “open to the Spirit” until the late 20th century in the Episcopal Church? I grant his last sentence, that we should be open to the listings of the Spirit, even if they lead us away from what Paul seems to have meant. There seems to be a suppressed premise: that the doctrine of ECUSA is, in fact, a product of the ECUSA’s hierarchy’s having been “open to the Spirit” in its exegetical undertakings. The problem, though, is that that is exactly the claim of the whole Tradition, which concludes otherwise than ECUSA regarding human sexuality. And why on earth should ECUSA’s view be so privileged over and against 2000 years of commentators who have consistently concluded otherwise? That’s what I want to know. Is it maybe because ECUSA is so rich and lily-white, as J.S. Spong implied at Lambeth 1998?

Even Origen humbly deferred to the decisions of Holy Mother Church, should she ever decide against him, as she would do.

a book review

And this takes us to the third essential context: that of ecclesiology, of the understanding of the Church and the mystery of salvation. As presented today, it is the result of too many reductions. For if its root is surrender to culture, its pattern of development is shaped by clericalism. Clericalism is, on the one hand, the reduction of the Church to a power structure; and on the other hand, her reduction of that power structure to clergy. Thus, the alleged inferiority of women within secular society corresponds to their inferiority within the ecclesiastical power structure, their exclusion from the "clergy." And therefore, their liberation in secular society must correspond their liberation in the Church, i.e., their admission to the priesthood, etc.

The Church simply cannot be reduced to these categories. As long as we try to measure the ineffable mystery of her life by concepts and ideas a priori alien to her very essence, we mutilate her and her real power, glory and beauty. Her real life simply escapes us.

Read the whole review here.

a very good point

Here is how we should think of it: parts of the Anglican Communion (most notably, ECUSA's General Convention) are claiming authority for themselves that not even the pope claims. Namely, they are claiming doctrinal authority over the Apostolic patrimony of the sacraments of Holy Orders and Matrimony, and over Morality in general. In Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, for example, Pope JP II explicitly denied that he had authority over such things:

I declare that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women...

Ironically, to clamor for the ordination of women (or, by extension, a permissive attitude toward sexuality outside the confines of Christian marriage) is to claim for the Church and the pope even more doctrinal authority than they claim for themselves.

Likewise, the ECUSA General Conventions of 1976 and 2003 have gathered unto themselves considerably more doctrinal authority than have either the Roman Magisterium or the Pope. Consider the following from the Anglican Use Society:

The Magisterium of the Catholic Church, her teaching office, is an instinctive
stumbling block for many. Here, we can only point out the following:

The disciples were promised by our blessed Lord the Gift of the Paraclete, the
Holy Spirit, Who will teach you all things (Jn 14:26). This was at the very end of our Lord’s ministry, on the night He was betrayed. Clearly, He had not even then
taught them everything.

In the unfolding life of the Catholic Church, guided by the Spirit over these two
thousand years since, we see the fulfillment of this promise. We believe that the
Church has enjoyed the fulfillment of the Lord’s promise over those centuries: He
has kept the Church from error while she has taught boldly, confident in the Spirit,
just as we see the Church teaching in the Acts of the Apostles.

With respect, we must point out to our Episcopalian friends who have trouble
accepting the Magisterium, the teaching office of the Catholic Church, that they
find themselves in a Church which has a teaching office as well, one which their
own Tradition does not allow. Today, the General Convention of ECUSA
exercises a teaching office which would astound the founding fathers of the
Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America in 1789. GC was
never meant to be a doctrinal body. Anglicanism, as Archbishop Geoffrey Fisher
of Canterbury said in the 1940s, neither had nor wished to have distinctive
doctrines of its own; rather, it sought to be the Church of the early fathers and
councils of the Church, and offering itself to the service of the future, undivided
Church as a bridge between traditions.

The legislatures of different Anglican provinces today claim authority the Pope has
declared he doesn’t have – over Matrimony, Holy Orders, morality. It would seem
that those troubled by the claims of the Catholic Magisterium need to consider where it is more likely that the Spirit is working.

Read the whole thing here. (Be warned: It is a pdf file.)

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

wb on the town

Last night I talked to an openly gay man who is leaving the ECUSA, after being a lifelong Episcopalian. Why? "Because," he said, "I am a sinner. But I know that my Redeemer lives, and that one day I will stand before him. Gene Robinson is denying the living God. My God lives. And all this human bull$#!* heaped up against him is for nothing."

He told me that he had decided to leave when he read this talk between +Gene Robinson and Planned Parenthood. He said that he had wept and, though he loved Anglicanism, that he knew he could not find redemption here, and that redemption was what he needed most.

He is becoming Greek Orthodox.

What can ECUSA say to people like that? This is my second openly homosexual friend to leave ECUSA over what they say is a false gospel. The other became Roman Catholic.

Monday, August 08, 2005

an anchoress

Today, Agnes Long is a Roman Catholic hermit. She lives alone in a thickly wooded section of Madeline Island, in northern Wisconsin. Her beloved husband is dead; she hasn't seen her children in years. She wakes before dawn, prays throughout the day, eats small meals, works outside, makes religious paintings, and rises in the middle of the night to pray. Although she sees people when she drives her little truck to the grocery store or to mass, she has no one you might call a friend. And though she answers her phone when it rings, she doesn't often engage in what you would call conversation. "I feel that my whole life has been in preparation for where God has me now," she says, as she slips the old photo back into the pages of her prayer book. "When you go into solitude, you find out who you really are."

Read the whole thing here.

love as self gift -- part 2

II. Theological Reflection

Fr. Moyer claims several theological reasons for not welcoming the ministrations of Bp. Bennison at Good Shepherd. In a letter from early March 2002, shortly before being inhibited, Fr. Moyer asked Bp. Bennison to clarify his position by “publicly affirming Jesus Christ’s uniqueness and bodily Resurrection, the unacceptability of sex outside heterosexual marriage, and the Holy Scriptures as God’s inspired Word.” And in a letter dated March 5, 2002, from Fr. Moyer’s lawyer, Mr. John H. Lewis Jr. to the Chancellor of the Diocese of Pennsylvania, the question was raised as to whether it was Bp. Bennison himself who had openly renounced the doctrine of the Episcopal Church (consonant with Title IV Canon 10 Sec. 1). [9]

It seems that the sorts of problems represented by the problems with Good Shepherd are always exacerbated and often caused by various parties’ standing on principle, demanding their due, fighting for their rights. The conflict between Good Shepherd, Rosemont, and the Bishop of Pennsylvania is no exception. I recognize that many see a distinction between love and justice, love being understood as self-effacing and justice being concerned with self-interests. [10] I would argue, though, that such an understanding of love and justice is incorrect and ultimately unchristian. In the West, theologians have traditionally held that God is a simple substance, that God has all perfections and has them maximally. It follows from such a doctrine that love and justice (assuming they are perfections) are really the same thing, and that that thing is the Essence of divinity. But one need not get into economic Trinitarian theology to reach such a conclusion, for if we hold Christ to be the paragon of love and justice, then to hold simultaneously that there is an incompatibility between them is to hold that there is an incoherency behind the person of Jesus.

That we ought to look to Christ as the source and content of Christian moral teaching is a broader and more easily defensible claim yet. And just as Christ did not regard equality with God as an opportunity to stand on his divine prerogatives (cf. Philippians 2.5ff), so the model for Christians is not to regard our own relationship with God, nor what follows from that relationship, as an opportunity to lift ourselves up as special cases, or as meriting anything whatsoever. Rather are we to imitate Christ in his self-emptying, taking up our cross and following him (Mark 8.34).

In these, as in most of my theological reflections, I am guided by Kierkegaard. In Works of Love, he writes “Love is a giving of oneself; that it seeks love is again love and is the highest love” (WL 264). Love therefore is to be the guiding principle of all Christian activity. And the logic of love is such that it seeks itself: love seeks love. And because God is love (1 John 4), to acknowledge that Christian love seeks love is to acknowledge that Christian love seeks God. Self-giving love consists “in helping the other person to seek God” (WL 264).

Kierkegaard goes on, in Works of Love, to speak of justice on the terms of the World. “Justice is identified by its giving each his own, just as it also in turn claims its own. This means that justice pleads the cause of its own, divides and assigns, determines what each can lawfully call his own, judges and punishes if anyone refuses to make any distinction between mine and yours” (WL 265). And this describes exactly what happens when Christians fight among one another over property. They seek to divide and assign, to allot, to seek their own. Or sometimes they ask the civil magistrate to divide and assign on their behalf.

One wonders what would have happened had the situation in Rosemont been a competition to see who could out-give the other. How might things have been different? Our Lord, after all, did not stand on principle before Caiphas, Herod, and Pilate. Had he insisted on the world’s justice, he would have loudly maintained his innocence and (who knows?) he might have been persuasive, and we might have gone unredeemed. But he did not, because love seeks not its own, but empties itself on behalf of the other. Kierkegaard goes on to explain the essential unity of the virtues love and justice. Our lives, as Christians, are grounded in love, namely the love of God that shows itself in Christ’s outpouring on the cross. Justice is all about demarcating mine and yours.

As Paul says, ‘All things are yours,’ and as the truly loving one in a certain divine sense says: All is mine. And yet this happens simply and solely by his having no mine at all; therefore: ‘All things are mine – I, who have no mine at all.’ But the fact that all things are his is a divine secret, since humanly speaking the truly loving one, the sacrificing, the self-giving one who loves, totally self-denying in all things, is humanly speaking the injured one, the most injured of all, even if nhe himself makes himself that by continually giving himself. (WL 268)

For when one loves perfectly, “the wondrous thing occurs that is heaven’s blessing upon self-denying love – in salvation’s mysterious understanding all things become his, his who had no mine at all, his who in self-denial made yours all that was his” (WL 268).


9. Bp. Bennison, at Easter 2003 wrote an article entitled “The Challenge of Easter” for the Pennsylvania Episcopalian wherein he claimed that Jesus was a sinner who “acknowledged his own sin [and] knows himself to be forgiven.” Apart from whether this might actually be true, the fact remains that this statement is radically counter to Episcopal and Anglican doctrine.

10. I believe such a distinction is, for example, at the bottom of Reinhold Niebuhr’s Love and Justice. [GOE, anyone?]

Sunday, August 07, 2005

love as self-gift: being a theological analysis of doctrinal and property disputes in ecusa -- part 1

Because it might be helpful, and because I am a shameless self-promoter.....

It is difficult to ascertain the facts of a given situation. Indeed the history of continental philosophy since Kant might well lead one to question whether there are any such things as “facts”. Such concerns notwithstanding, it is not an especially controversial contention – indeed it approaches something like popular wisdom – that in a situation involving x number of people, there will be x number of perspectives regarding the facts of that situation.
The question of church property issues in the contemporary Episcopal Church is no different. It is nearly impossible to abstract a discussion of property issues beyond the theologico-political domain, for whenever such issues arise in the life of the Church, their material cause seems perennially to be doctrinal disputes anterior to the actual property issues. In this essay, I will attempt to follow what I know of the ethnographical approach of anthropologists. I will use a particular church property dispute – that between the Church of the Good Shepherd in Rosemont, Pennsylvania, and Bishop Charles Bennison, the Diocesan Bishop of Pennsylvania – as a foil for understanding church property issues in the Episcopal Church at large. [1]
I will attempt in what follows to give a brief history of the conflict, from the perspectives of both the Church of the Good Shepherd and Bp. Bennison. I will offer a theological reflection on a possible basis for constructive progress. I will attempt to discern the best practices for those involved in doctrinal disputes with legal / property outworkings. Lastly, I will attempt to identify the beginnings of a practical basis for an approach to resolution in such situations.

I. The “Facts”: Two Histories of a Conflict

a. Good Shepherd

The Church of the Good Shepherd in Rosemont, Pennsylvania, is an historic Episcopal church in the Anglo-Catholic tradition. Over the years, as two streams of Anglo-Catholicism became discernible, [2] the Church of the Good Shepherd came to identify itself more with the traditionalist Anglo-Catholic party with the Episcopal Church. Unquestionably, the Episcopal Church for the last thirty years has moved in a theological direction counter to that of traditionalist Anglo-Catholicism. The theological differences between traditionalist Anglo-Catholics and the wider Episcopal Church (and to a lesser extent between Traditionalist Anglo-Catholics and the wider Anglican Communion) is more than anything else, over the question of authority, and as such is ecclesiological. In terms of the famous “three-legged stool” of Anglicanism, [3] the Traditionalists tend to place the legs of the stool in the following order: scripture, tradition, reason. We are bound, they would argue, by scripture above all else, then by tradition, and lastly by reason. [4] The more progressive (i.e. mainstream) Episcopalians most often cite the three elements as though they are coequal, but in essence contemporary Episcopalian apologetics has recourse more to a four legged stool (a chair?), in order: Reason, Experience, Tradition, Scripture.
The conflict between the Church of the Good Shepherd and the Bishop of Pennsylvania arose, according to the Church of the Good Shepherd, because of the heterodox views of Bishop Bennison, the Bishop of Pennsylvania, under whose authority they found themselves. In a letter from August 17, 2002, Fr. David Moyer, the rector of Good Shepherd, explained his church’s reasoning as follows:

…I and my people could not in good conscience welcome him [Bp. Bennison] in his pastoral and sacramental capacity because of his failure to publicly affirm orthodox, biblical, catholic, and apostolic Christianity as expressed within the Anglican Communion. Bishops are called to be teachers of the Truth as revealed in Holy Scripture and set forth in the catholic creeds. Failure to do so deems one a false teacher, and Scripture is clear about one’s moral duty in that regard. I should also add that my second ordination vow, twenty-five years ago, was to "with all faithful diligence, banish and drive away from the Church all strange and erroneous doctrines contrary to God’s Word written…"

It is, unquestionably, in part, a conscience issue. On the other hand, immediately after making the vow Fr. Moyer cites above, he vowed as follows:

Bishop: Will you reverently obey your Bishop, and other chief Ministers, who, according to the Canons of the Church, may have the charge and government over you; following with a glad mind and will their godly admonitions, and submitting yourselves to their godly judgments?

Answer: I will so do, the Lord being my helper. (From the Book of Common Prayer, 1928)

One can begin to see the layers of issues at play in conflicts such as that between the Church of the Good Shepherd and the Bishop of Pennsylvania. I imagine Fr. Moyer denies that Bp. Bennison’s admonitions and judgments are in fact “godly”, and probably denies, in consequence, that he is bound by his ordination vow.

b. Bishop Bennison

The issue at hand is whether Fr. Moyer has left the communion of the Episcopal Church, a charge that diocesan authorities have made against him. Bp. Bennison has felt that he has not been permitted to visit the Church of the Good Shepherd, which by Canon Law is his duty and prerogative:

(a) Each Diocesan Bishop shall visit the Congregations within the
Diocese at least once in three years. Interim visits may be delegated to
another Bishop of this Church.
(b) At every visitation the visiting Bishop shall preside at the Holy Eucharist and at the Initiatory Rites, as required, preach the Word, examine
the records of the Congregation required by Canon III.9.5(c), and examine
the life and ministry of the Clergy and Congregation according to Canon
III.9.5(b)(5). (Canon III.18.4)

It is noteworthy that Fr. Moyer has denied that Bp. Bennison has not been permitted to visit the Church of the Good Shepherd. From the aforementioned letter from Fr. Moyer, August 17, 2002, “I have never barred the Bishop of Pennsylvania from my parish.” The question becomes what it means “to bar”, for presumably not barring a bishop from visiting is consistent, in Fr. Moyer’s view, with being “unable in good conscience to welcome” Bp. Bennison. Though it is clearly not just an issue of semantics, it is nonetheless an issue of semantics.
Because Fr. Moyer would not (or “could not”) welcome Bp. Bennison in a pastoral or sacramental role at Good Shepherd, Bp. Bennison deposed Fr. Moyer after a six-month inhibition, beginning in March 2002. In September of that year, Bp. Bennison wrote:

The Revd Dr David L Moyer did not deny the accuracy of the Findings of the Standing Committee, did not submit any statement to the Bishop of the Diocese of Pennsylvania purporting to retract any of the actions underlying the Finding and Determination, and did not take any other action that would permit the Bishop to withdraw the notice and allow the Inhibition to expire as provided by Section 2 of the said Canon of Title IV. Therefore in accordance with the provisions of the said Section 2 of Canon 10, of Title IV and Section 3 of Canon 12 of Title IV of the Canons of General Convention of the Episcopal Church, in the presence of two priests, I do hereby adjudge and pronounce a Sentence of Deposition within the meaning of Section 1 (d) of Canon 12 of Title IV of the said Canons upon DAVID LLOYD MOYER, who is accordingly, deposed from the ordained ministry.

The situation was further complicated by Fr. Moyer, after his deposition by Bp. Bennison, being granted license to minister as a priest by the Bishop of Pittsburgh, and the Archbishop of Central Africa. As many as twenty-two other bishops of the Episcopal Church subsequently offered Fr. Moyer licenses, the then-Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Reverend George Carey, and the then-Archbishop of Wales, the Most Reverend Rowan Williams both stated publicly that should the need arise, they would license Fr. Moyer within their respective jurisdictions. [5]
The whole affair thereby became quite politicized. The situation was also, in retrospect a premonition of things to come, following the consecration of Gene Robinson as Bishop of New Hampshire. The Archbishop of Central Africa, for example, questioned whether he was “in communion” with the Bishop of Pennsylvania. In the wake of General Convention, 2003 (when Gene Robinson’s election was confirmed by the Episcopal Church’s national governing bodies), the Windsor Report began the process of an explicit consideration of issues of communion: whether it is transitive, what its basis might be, etc. etc.
The upshot of Fr. Moyer’s deposition, in terms of the physical property of Good Shepherd, is an issue that has not yet been resolved. Conservatives, somewhat conspiratorially, sometimes saw Bp. Bennison’s actions as an attempt to “seize” Good Shepherd. Doing so would possibly have been his legitimate prerogative. [6] He has not made an effort to seize Good Shepherd property, and Fr. Moyer continues to minister there. Part of the reason could be that suits were filed on Fr. Moyer’s behalf against Bp. Bennison, alleging that Bp. Bennison had promised toward the beginning of the controversy, to bring Fr. Moyer up for presentment and trial, that Bp. Bennison failed to do so, and that had such a trial occurred, Fr. Moyer would have been vindicated.
The Canonical authority for Fr. Moyer’s deposition was Canon 10 of Title 4 of the Canons of the Episcopal Church, “Of Abandonment of the Communion of this Church by a Priest or Deacon”:

Sec. 1. If it is reported to the Standing Committee of the Diocese in which
a Priest or Deacon is canonically resident that the Priest or Deacon, with-
out using the provisions of Canon IV.8 or III.13, has abandoned the Com-
munion of this Church, then the Standing Committee shall ascertain and
consider the facts, and if it shall determine by a vote of three-fourths of All
the Members that the Priest or Deacon has abandoned the Communion of
this Church by an open renunciation of the Doctrine, Discipline, or
Worship of this Church, or by a formal admission into any religious body
not in communion with this Church, or in any other way, it shall be the
duty of the Standing Committee of the Diocese to transmit in writing to the
Bishop of such Diocese…If the Bishop affirms the determination, the Bishop shall
then inhibit the Priest or Deacon from officiating in the Diocese for six

The question is therefore whether Fr. Moyer openly renounced “the Doctrine, Discipline, or Worship of this Church” or was formally admitted into a religious body “not in communion with this Church.” The latter was certainly not the case, as he repeatedly insisted. His offense was in not welcoming Bp. Bennison to visit, to preach, or to celebrate the sacraments at Good Shepherd, so the question is whether this constitutes Fr. Moyer’s having renounced the doctrine, discipline or worship of the Episcopal Church.
In terms of property issues, the question of whether Fr. Moyer was rightfully deposed is precisely the question, according to Fr. Moyer’s lawyer:

David Moyer was illegally and fraudulently deprived of his status as an Episcopal priest of the Diocese of Pennsylvania. That issue is now before the Court of Common Pleas of Montgomery County. Any bid to “`seize the property’ would have to rest on the validity of the `deposition’–but that is the subject of the lawsuit now pending. (From the website of the Prayer Book Society)

That a church’s property is not actually the church’s property is unambiguously stated in Title I Canon 7. Section 3 prohibits anyone who holds, manages, or administers any church property to “encumber or alienate” it without the permission of the Diocesan Bishop, and Section 4 states that “all real and personal property held by or for the benefit of any Parish, Mission or Congregation is held in trust for this Church and the Diocese thereof in which such Parish, Mission or Congregation is located.” [7] Because the Supreme Court has determined that in civil disputations over Church property arising from doctrinal issues, the matter is decided solely be reference to the Church’s own Constitution, the question remains whether Fr. Moyer was regularly and validly deposed. [8]

1. My reasons for this are analogous to what I know of the reasons of anthropological ethnographers for taking the approach that they take, namely that pretenses to objectivity are doomed at the outset. A more honest approach is therefore simply to throw oneself into the discursive fray, allowing, so far as is possible, each voice to be heard.

2. Beginning (roughly) in 1976, with the ordination of women in the Episcopal Church, various dissenting groups have become visible, some are entire dioceses (Fort Worth, San Joaquin, and Quincy), and some formal or informal organizations and associations.

3. In many ways the so-called “three-legged stool” of Anglicanism is a gross oversimplification. It is not as if Anglicanism is the only ecclesial community who claims recourse to reason, scripture and tradition. Moreover, when the “three-legged stool” is cited as a principle of Anglican polity, its application usually runs counter to what Richard Hooker (the inventor of the “stool”) meant when he spoke of the authority of scripture, reason, and the “voice of the Church” (in that order) in his famous Of the Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity.

4. It is noteworthy that the ordering of the stool by Traditionalists is the inverse of the cognitive closeness of each of the legs, at least intuitively. I mean, whereas the traditionalists list them in order of authority, scripture, tradition, reason, we have recourse as humans first to our reason (we cannot escape it), and by virtue of our being a part of the Church we are immediate parts of the Christian Tradition, and only through the lens of these two can we approach scripture.

5. In a letter from the Most Rev. and Rt. Hon. George Carey to the Rt. Rev. John Broadhurst, dated August 27, 2002; and in a letter from the Most Rev. and Rt. Hon. Rowan Williams to the Rev. Geoffrey Kirk from early September 2002.

6. A much stronger case could be made now for Fr. Moyer’s deposition and the seizure of Good Shepherd’s property, for he has since been made a Bishop in an ecclesial body not in communion with the Episcopal Church or the See of Canterbury, the “Traditional Anglican Communion.”

7. Civil courts are very hesitant to become involved in property disputes involving church doctrine, though civil courts have reviewed ecclesiastical trials, examining pretty exclusively the consistency of a church’s application of its own rules. Cf. Smith vs. Nelson, 406 U.S. 971 (1972).

8. Cf. Watson vs. Jones 80 U.S. 679 (1872).

its good to know that i am 541% christian

Your results for Christian Traditions Selector

Rank Item Percent
1: Roman Catholic (100%)
2: Lutheran (85%)
3: Anglican/Episcopal/Church of England (77%)
4: Eastern Orthodox (77%)
5: Presbyterian/Reformed (53%)
6: Congregational/United Church of Christ (38%)
7: Baptist (Reformed/Particular/Calvinistic) (28%)
8: Church of Christ/Campbellite (21%)
9: Methodist/Wesleyan/Nazarene (16%)
10: Baptist (non-Calvinistic)/Plymouth Brethren/Fundamentalist (13%)
11: Seventh-Day Adventist (11%)
12: Pentecostal/Charismatic/Assemblies of God (6%)
13: Anabaptist (Mennonite/Quaker etc.) (0%)

Now, you take the test.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

the transfiguration of our lord

Happy Feast of the Transfiguration, Beloved.

O God, who on the mount didst reveal to chosen witnesses thine only-begotten Son wonderfully transfigured, in raiment white and glistering: mercifully grant that we, being delivered from the disquietude of this world; may be permitted to behold the King in his beauty. Who with thee, O Father, and thee, O Holy Ghost, liveth and reigneth, one god, world without end. Amen.

Friday, August 05, 2005

more on michigan and partial blogroll roundup

Greetings from Boston, Beloved. Personal matters have called me deeper into New England. But so as not to let the pace slacken, here are some resources.

First, many documents partaining to the Michigan Matter, from Thinking Anglicans.

There is news, too, from Forward in Faith here.

There are also some helpful Ruminations, brought to us by Adam, here.

T1:9, as usual, has lots of snizzle-dizzle in an Evangelical vein. Here is the T1:9 Michigan commentary.

Lastly, read what ++Nigeria has to say here. It is, as Dcn. Thropus has suggested, more temperate than I expected. Still rather warm though.

Incidentally, one of the things that annoys me most about ++Akinola (don't get me wrong, I like him alright, especially the substance of his faith) is that David Virtue fawns over him so much. Virtue can be such a blowhard. I do subscribe to Virtuosity, for news reasons, but I really think Virtue sometimes does more harm than good. And I don't like the notion of all these conservative Evangelicals creeping around, behind the scenes, plotting stuff.

Anyway, I bestow upon you all my diaconal greeting. From Boston...

Sancto Nomine, servus,

Thursday, August 04, 2005

another one bites the dust

From Fr. Cantrell at Apostolicity.

Anglican Priest deposed, but not rejected!
By The Rev’d William Ilgenfritz

(Swartz Creek, MI) This morning at 10:00am the Bishop of Eastern Michigan read a letter deposing Father Gene Geromel from the priesthood of the Episcopal Church.

Father Geromel and Father Bill Ilgenfritz, Vice-President of Forward In Faith North America, were escorted to the chapel at the Diocesan House. The Pascal Candle was burning and the Letter of Deposition was placed upon the altar. Following the reading of a rather lengthy statement by Bishop Edwin Leidel, stressing his “generosity” toward Father Geromel, the bishop and two presbyters (priests) signed the deposition on the altar and ceremonially handed it to Father Geromel.

Then Father Ilgenfritz read a letter signed by thirteen bishops to the Episcopal Church USA rejecting the deposition and licensing Father Geromel to function in 7 dioceses of the Episcopal Church.

More than 30 members of Saint Bartholomew’s Church together with members of the local press waited patiently in the lobby of the Diocesan House. The Reverend D.O. Smart, Dean of the Mid-Continental Convocation of the Anglican Communion Network, commented to reporters, “Bishop Leidel has asked Father Geromel to be disobedient to Holy Scripture and the Tradition of the One, Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, and to embrace a counterfeit Gospel.”

14 year old Samantha Holove, member of St Bartholomew’s, confronted Bishop Leidel, “Why is it wrong to stand up for Jesus? Why is it wrong to stand up for what we believe in?” Bishop Edwin Leidel offered no response.

For more information, please contact:
The Rev’d Keith Acker [xtk at cox dot net], Communications Director, Forward In Faith North America
“Upholding the Faith and Order of the Undivided Church”