Thursday, March 31, 2005

blessed john donne

Originally uploaded by gwbrark.
Today is the feast of blessed John Donne, priest and poet. From the legend:

"'Any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind. And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls: It tolls for thee.'

"These words are familiar to many; their author John Donne, though less well known, is one of the greatest of English poets. In his own time, he was the best-known preacher in the Church of England. he came to that eminence by a tortuous path. Born into a wealthy and pious Roman Catholic family in 1573, he was educated at both Oxford and Cambridge, and studied law at Lincoln's Inn. Some time later he conformed to the Established Church and embarked upon a promising political career of service to the State. The revelation of his secret marriage in 1601 to the niece of his employer, the Lord Keeper of the Great Seal, brought his public career to an end. In 1615, he was persuaded by King James the First and others to receive ordination.

"Following several brief cures, Donne rose rapidly in popularity as Dean of St. Paul's Cathedral, London, from 1622 until his death. He drew great throngs to the Cathedral and to Paul's Cross, a nearby open-air pulpit. His sermons reflect the wide learning of the scholar, the passionate intensity of the poet, and the profound devotion of one struggling in his own life to relate the freedom and demands of the Gospel to the concerns of a common humanity, on every level, and in all complexities."

And here is my favorite of his sonnets:

Batter my heart, three-person'd God; for you
As yet but knock, breathe, shine, and seek to mend;
That I may rise, and stand, o'erthrow me and bend
Your force, to break, blow, burn and make me new.
I, like an usurpt town, to another due,
Labour to admit you, but Oh, to no end,
Reason your viceroy in me, me should defend,
But is captiv'd, and proves weak or untrue.
Yet dearly I love you, and would be loved fain,
But am betroth'd unto your enemy:
Divorce me, untie, or break that knot again,
Take me to you, imprison me, for I
Except you enthrall me, never shall be free,
Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.

And finally, here is the collect:

Almighty God, the root and fountain of all being: Open our eyes to see, with thy servant, John Donne, that whatsoever hath any being is a mirror in which we may behold thee; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

the regina coeli

Originally uploaded by gwbrark.
Particularly appropriate during Eastertide:

Queen of heaven, be joyful, alleluia; Because he whom so meetly thou barest, alleluia, Hath arisen, as he promised, alleluia: Pray for us to the Father, alleluia.

V: Rejoice and be glad, O Virgin Mary, alleluia.
R: For the Lord is risen indeed, alleulia.

Let us pray.

O God, who, by the resurrection of thy Son Jesus Christ, didst vouchsafe to give gladness unto the world: grant, we beseech thee, that we, being holpen by the Virgin Mary, his Mother, may attain unto the joys of everlasting life. + Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.

Apparently St. Gregory the Great heard angels chanting the first bit, and then added himself "Ora pro nobis Deum, alleluia." A fitting prayer.

pray for the bishop of los angeles

What a thing to go through!

Lord Jesus, comfort and heal Bishop Jon Bruno. Look with compassion on him in his affliction, and by your great mercy deliver him. Restore him to soundness of body, and by the healing blood of your cross, cast out the infection in his bones, and all infirmities of body and soul. Enable him by your grace to be united through his sufferings with you in your Passion, for the sake of your love. Amen.

From: Bishop’s Office []
Sent: Tuesday, March 29, 2005 4:29 PM
Subject: A message from the Rt. Rev. J. Jon Bruno

March 29, 2005

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

It is important for me to keep you fully informed of my physical health. On
the 23rd of March I came off antibiotics, the doctors believing the
infection was killed and everything was going to be just fine. I was
overjoyed with being able to attend services on Good Friday and Holy
Saturday, and again on Easter Sunday, without any complications.

I was just looking forward to getting the boot off my leg on Monday. The
evening of the 27th, Easter Sunday, my foot inflamed again, and it was
obvious the infection was not killed, and it had penetrated the bone. On
Monday morning, I went to the doctor, and, in consultation with my doctors,
my orthopedist and my infectious disease specialist, I made a decision.

They suggested there were three ways to handle this recurring infection.
The first one was to open the foot again, clean it out and go through
another course of antibiotics. They said that would have only a 15% to 20%
chance of success. The second was a treatment of antibiotics without
opening the ankle, and that had an even lower rate of success. The third
option was to amputate my left foot and ankle and put me into a temporary
prosthesis. This has a 99.5% chance of success.

Since this is a localized infection in the porous bone of the ankle, I made
a thoughtful, prayerful decision to have the amputation and proceed toward
full recovery. I hope this does not distress you and hope you understand
this is the best way for me to return to full service to this Diocese
within the next three or four weeks.

God bless you. Thank you. Please keep me in your
prayers and thoughts.

Yours in Christ,

+J. Jon Bruno

did you know?

Originally uploaded by gwbrark.
I didn't mean to launch immediately into invective as soon as Eastertide was upon us. In the spirit of not being sour about things, I am intending to eat a bowl of spaghetti during the Easter Octave (I have been avoiding carbs for some time now, and I was trying, with mixed success, to fast during Holy Week).

Also: The Anglican Breviary (and other sources) witness to the meritorious practice of praying the "triple prayer" before Morning Prayer (or Matins and Prime, if you go in for that sort of thing). The Triple Prayer is 1) the Our Father, 2) the Hail Mary, and 3) the I Believe. Also after Compline. The "dual prayer" (Our Father, Hail Mary) is recited silently before the other offices.

Now: here are wo other prayers, the saying of which before the opening versicles of Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer is praiseworthy and a balm to the soul:

Aperi, Domini
Open thou, O Lord, my mouth to bless thy holy name; cleanse also my heart from all vain, evil, and wandering thoughts; enlighten my understanding; enkindle my affections; that I my say this Office worthily, with attention and devotion, and so be meet to be heard in the presence of thy divine Majesty. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Prayer of St. Gertrude
O Lord, in Union with that divine intention wherewith thou thyself on earth didst render thy praises to God, I desire to offer this my Office of prayer unto thee.

I recommend the appending of these prayers to the beginning of one's BCP or other prayer book. I have as yet not done this, but I intend to do, as soon as I can think of a way to laminate stuff.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

the very rev'd paul zahl on what's up, what's been up, and what will be up

Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know. He's not an Anglo-Catholic. He's antinomian. He's a lutheran. Whatever. He's an ally, and he's very wise.

This is from Dean Zahl's essay in Virtuosity:

There is precedent in our history for both strategies. The Protestant
Reformation ended up, in most regions, with an outside strategy. It was
never the Reformers' founding idea to separate from the old church. But
politics and also resistance on the part of the old church meant that it
worked out that way. The Methodists, similarly, started with an inside
strategy, to renew the Church of England from the inside out. But again,
resistance from the Established Church, coupled with the needs of the
American frontier, created a situation from which only an outside
strategy could finally prosper....

The inside strategy sounds good. And it basically is good. It takes the
more apparently humble path in seeking not to supplant or lecture the
old church, but rather to listen to it, and walk with it in a more
patient and gentle way. None of us would probably wish to protest at
this point. It was always one of the attractive features of the Roman
Catholic charismatic renewal that their prayer groups seemed to embody a
humble spirit in relation to the church at large. These people were
content to meet in church basements and in home groups clustered around
renewed local churches, and not draw down upon themselves the criticism
of self-righteousness or a "holier than thou" attitude which renewal
groups in the Protestant denominations usually encounter.

The problem with the inside strategy is that in the American context,
which is culturally confrontative and often "my-way-or-the-highway", we
tend to get hounded out. Evangelical personal religion can prove
mightily threatening to traditional Episcopalian ways of doing things.
It is partly cultural baggage, for evangelicals and charismatics have
been labeled as crypto-Baptists and the like. Many convinced
Episcopalians pin their whole religious identity on not being

So the inside strategy is problematic for us. We want to do it. We want
to work within the old church. We love a great many things about the old
church. We love, for example, the Prayer Book tradition and its vertical
worship. We love the beauty of our ancient parishes - ancient, at least,
by USA standards. We love good music. We value the continuity with the
past that the old church can represent.

The question is, Will the old church let us be ourselves? That is the
question. Will we actually be allowed, within ECUSA, to develop an
acceptable inside strategy? Will bishops who oppose our emphases give us
the space to live them out?

What has happened in a great many cases is that the bishops have proven
themselves to be uncomfortable with us. Whether we are Anglo-Catholic
traditionalists, Evangelical believers in Scripture's "Old, Old Story",
or neo-pentecostal people, many bishops, perhaps even most bishops, have
seen us as slightly less than "Anglican". I remember when a former
Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church was asked what he thought of
Dr. Carey, the 103rd Archbishop of Canterbury. He remarked, "Well, he
doesn't seem very Anglican to me". What a thing to say. What a thing to


Do you remember what the Levites did when the Roman general Pompey
entered the precincts of the Temple? They offered their necks to his
soldiers. The ancient historian Josephus made much of that. His
countrymen did the same on one occasion when Pontius Pilate used force
at Jerusalem. They offered their necks to the Praetorian Guard.

Now we, you and I, have to be ready to be martyred. This is to say, we,
as the losers, probably have to be prepared to give it all away. We have
to be prepared to give away our love affair with things English, with
Gothic stone churches (peaceful, tranquil!), with needlepoint kneelers
and cherry wood pews and altar pieces, with robed pomp and even Healey
Willan. I don't wish for this. You probably don't either. But we may be
being forced, or demanded, by the God who governs all events, to get
prepared to give it all away. I hope not, for sure, but the preparedness
is our vocation for now.

The whole thing is here:

Monday, March 28, 2005

kyrie eleison

You are cordially invited to attend...

Sacred Choices:
Re-Framing the Abortion Debate
A Panel Discussion to benefit the Rosie Fund, Inc.
Cosponsored by Yale Health Professional Students for Choice

April 5, 2005
6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
The Beaumont Room (L-221A) in Sterling Hall of Medicine
Yale School of Medicine, 333 Cedar Street, New Haven, CT 06510

How do we move past the religion vs. choice war and build an alliance to defend reproductive choice in our country? Join us as we consider past and future relationships between religion and reproductive rights. Clergy, doctors and activist women brought about the climate in which Roe v. Wade came to pass in 1973. Now in 2005, we will explore the intersection of religious and pro-choice beliefs from the perspectives of a provider, a religious leader, an academic researcher and a woman who has exercised her right to choose.

Linda Ellison is a doctoral candidate at Harvard Divinity School, writing her dissertation on ìAbortion and the Politics of God: Patient Narratives and the Psychology of Religion.î

Dr. Emily Fine is a pro-choice provider active in Greater New Havenís Jewish community.

Lorraine Gengo is the Editor-in-Chief of the Fairfield Advocate and author of the 2004 article ìI Had an Abortion.î

Rev. Barbara Hager, Board member of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice of Connecticut and Chairperson of the American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut

How do different religions view their beliefs in a woman's moral agency and right to control her own body and reproductive destiny? How do those who deal with reproductive choices see their activities as related to their faiths? Please join us - to learn from our expert panelists, to hear more about the work of the Rosie Fund, and to continue your support of reproductive freedom.

RSVP, if possible, but join us either way! For more information or to RSVP, please email or call Rosie at (203) 777-4446. Please invite your pro-choice friends and colleagues as well! Refreshments will be served.

Directions for driving and parking are available at Once you have parked in the Air Rights Garage, it is a quick and easy walk to Sterling Hall of Medicine! Exit onto York Street and turn left. Follow York Street one block to Cedar Street (you will pass Yale New Haven Hospital on your right side). Turn left onto Cedar Street and Sterling Hall of Medicine is halfway down the block on your left. We will have greeters just inside the door to help you find the Beaumont Room.

About the Rosie Fund...
The right to choose is meaningless without access to abortion services. The Rosie Fund was founded in 2003 by a group of Connecticut residents committed to helping women overcome legal and economic barriers that anti-choice legislation has placed around abortion services. Part of the National Network of Abortion Funds, the Rosie Fund provides funding for women who would not otherwise be able to obtain the abortion services that they require.

Please make a donation to the Rosie Fund at the event at level you feel most able to contribute. All donations are tax deductible to the fullest extent of the law. Donations can also be sent by mail, made out to ìThe Rosie Fund, Inc.î and sent to The Rosie Fund, P.O. Box 6205, Hamden, CT 06517

Rose Garden* $500 and above
Bouquet of Roses $100 to $499
Red Rose $50 to $99
Pink Rose $25 to $49
Rosebud $10 to $25

* A donation of $600 will cover the entire cost of a first-trimester abortion for a woman in need.

Thank you!
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Rachel Thomas
Director of Programs & Projects
Women Faculty Forum at Yale University

Sunday, March 27, 2005

the very unfortunate litany of 'saints' from the easter vigil at the church where i work

[I mean please: John Denver! Really! But my hands were tied.]

Holy Mary, Mother of God: Come, rejoice with us!

Abraham and Sarah: Come, rejoice with us!
Moses and Elijah: Come, rejoice ... etc.
Miriam and Esther:
Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Daniel:
John the Baptist, Sim-e-on and Anna:
All you holy people of Israel:

Peter, Paul and James:
John, Thomas, Mary and Martha:
Simon of Cy-REE-nee, Joseph of Ar-i-ma-THEE-a:
Philip, Bar-na-bas, Pris-cil-la and A-QUILL-a:
Lydia, Dorcas and Phoebe:
All you holy Apostles:

Stephen, POLy-carp and Per-PET-u-a:
Thomas More, William TYNN-dale:
DEET-rich BON-huf-fer, Abraham Lincoln:
Martin Luther King, Stephen BEE-ko:
Thomas Becket, Oscar Ro-MER-o:
Jonathan Daniels, Matthew Shepard:
All you holy Martyrs:

Matthew, Mark, Luke and John:
Clement and Ath-a-NAY-sius:
Patrick and Co-LUM-ba:
Thomas A-QUI-nas, Catherine of Si-e-na:
Henry NOW-wen, Thomas Merton:
C. S. Lewis, Rein-hold NEE-bur:
All you holy Evangelists, Pastors and Teachers:

Giot-to and Rembrandt:
Johann Sebastian Bach, Jo-han-nes Brahms:
Dante A-li-ghier-i, Hil-de-gard of BING-en:
John Bunyan, John Milton, William Blake:
Harriet Beecher Stowe, Emily Dickinson:
Isaac Watts, John Mason Neale:
Duke Ellington, James Weldon Johnson:
Red Barber, Jackie Robinson, Roberto Cle-MEN-te:
Eleanor Far-jeon, Fred Rogers:
Minnie Pearl, Ma-ha-lia Jackson, John Denver:
All you holy Artists and Performers:

Francis and Clare:
Be-ne-dict and SER-gi-us:
John WYCK-liffe, Martin Luther:
George Fox, Roger Williams:
John and Charles Wesley, Absalom Jones:
Ig-NA-tius Loy-o-la, William Booth:
Dorothy Day, Mother Teresa:
All you holy renewers of the Church:

Florence Nightingale, Clara Barton:
Doro-the-a Dix, Jane Addams:
Frederick Douglass, Prudence Cran-dall:
W.E.B. Du-BOYCE, Elizabeth Cady Stan-ton:
Harriet Tubman, Mother Jones, Say-zar CHA-vez:
Corrie Ten Boom, An-dré Troc-mé:
Ryan White, Benjamin Spock, Rachel Carson:
All you holy renewers of society:

ALL THOSE WE LOVE who have gone before us:

O all you holy saints together: Come, rejoice with us!

Saturday, March 26, 2005

my good friday sermon

Originally uploaded by gwbrark.
In the name of the + Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

It is finished.

The Lord of Life hangs lifeless on the cross. He who made all has himself been unmade for our sakes. He who gave man breath has this day heard that breath used to curse him. He who made man from the dust of the earth has this day suffered his own creatures to drive nails into his flesh. He who called his disciples by name has this day been forsaken by all of them.

When I first began to take my obligations as a Christian seriously, I would cook up ludicrous schemes for Lent. I would resolve to fast for forty days and forty nights, or to attend mass every day, or something else heroic and ascetical. Every year I would fail. And every year, remembering the previous year’s failure, my Lenten commitment would get smaller in the hope that I might once actually be able to carry through with it. By now, my Lenten commitments have become quite manageable. This year I resolved to pray the Angelus every day and to abstain from eating flesh meat on Fridays. The Angelus is a devotion to the Blessed Virgin, and it only takes about a minute or two to pray, and I know it by heart, so I thought that this year maybe Lenten success would be finally within reach. Alas, it was not to be. This year was as big a failure as any, and I have to content myself with having only intermittently prayed the Angelus.

It is a source of shame to me that the easy terms of my religiosity – the daily praying of this little, tiny prayer – is too much for me to offer my Lord and King, Jesus who forsook everything that was his (and everything was his) so that I would not suffer condemnation; Jesus who hung on the cross for three hours so that I would live and be free. And I count his love so little that I cannot offer him the smallest token in return. When we read these stories in the gospel, our tendency is to find our counterparts in disciples like Peter, James, John, Martha, the Mary’s. But truth be told, I think that we are more often most like Judas, who counted the cost of the presence and friendship of God almighty, and found it trifling.

Today we are confronted with the cost of our disobedience and sin. Because we are petty and foolish and acquisitive, God sent his Son. And when Jesus ran up against our sin, it broke him. When our vanity and lust and pride and self-seeking and disdain were laid on him, he began to bleed and to suffocate. And after three hours of bleeding and suffocation, he died with the words “It is finished.”

In Latin the words are “consumatum est.” It is consummated; and that is somehow more fitting. For what we see in the dead visage of our crucified God is the full physical expression of his love for us. Jesus loved us intensely, and that love found carnal expression in an utterly gratuitous outpouring on the cross.

George Herbert was a great priest and poet who lived in Stuart England. In his poem “The Sacrifice,” we are asked to consider our Lord as Man of Sorrows. The poem has many poignant moments. One of the most striking, for me, is when it is observed that the cross represents life to everyone except Jesus. For our Lord was the Lord of Life. All life was his from the beginning. And the Lord of Life dies, so that we, the heirs of death from Adam, might live. Listen to the words of Herbert’s poem in which Jesus speaks:

The soldiers also spit upon that face
Which Angels did desire to have the grace,
And Prophets once to see, but found no place:
Was ever grief like mine?

Thus trimmed, forth they bring me to the rout,
Who Crucify him, cry with one strong shout.
God holds his peace at man, and man cries out:
Was ever grief like mine?

They lead me in once more, and putting then
Mine own clothes on, they lead me out again.
Whom devils fly, thus is he toss'd of men:
Was ever grief like mine?

And now weary of sport, glad to engross
All spite in one, counting my life their loss,
They carry me to my most bitter cross:
Was ever grief like mine?

My cross I bear myself, until I faint:
Then Simon bears it for me by constraint,
The decreed burden of each mortal Saint:
Was ever grief like mine?

O all ye who pass by, behold and see:
Man stole the fruit, but I must climb the tree;
The tree of life to all, but only me:
Was ever grief like mine?

Lo, here I hang, charged with a world of sin,
The greater world o' the two; for that came in
By words, but this by sorrow I must win:
Was ever grief like mine?

Such sorrow, as if sinful man could feel,
Or feel his part, he would not cease to kneel,
Till all were melted, though he were all steel.
Was ever grief like mine?

But, O my God, my God! why leavest thou me,
The Son, in whom thou dost delight to be?
My God, my God
Never was grief like mine.

Shame tears my soul, my body many a wound;
Sharp nails pierce this, but sharper that confound;
Reproaches, which are free, while I am bound:
Was ever grief like mine?

Now heal thyself, Physician; now come down.
Alas! I do so, when I left my crown
And Father's smile for you, to feel his frown:
Was ever grief like mine?

In healing not myself, there doth consist
All that salvation, which ye now resist;
Your safety in my sickness doth subsist:
Was ever grief like mine?

Betwixt two thieves I spend my utmost breath,
As he that for some robbery suffereth.
Alas! what have I stolen from you? [Only] death:
Was ever grief like mine?

A king my title is, prefix'd on high;
Yet by my subjects I'm condemn'd to die
A servile death in servile company:
Was ever grief like mine?

They gave me vinegar mingled with gall,
But more with malice: yet, when they did call,
With Manna, Angels' food, I fed them all:
Was ever grief like mine?

They part my garments, and by lot dispose
My coat, the type of love, which once cured those
Who sought for help, never malicious foes:
Was ever grief like mine?

Nay, after death their spite shall further go;
For they will pierce my side, I full well know;
That as sin came, so Sacraments might flow:
Was ever grief like mine?

But now I die; now all is finished.
My woe, man's weal: and now I bow my head:
Only let others say, when I am dead,
Never was grief like mine.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

terri schiavo

One can hardly be an American these days without weighing in on the Terri Schiavo mess. Here's what I think:

The lives of all human persons are holy and should be preserved if possible. It is not obvious to me, though, that Terri Schiavo is a living human person. If she is, then it would be wrong to end her life. But if her soul has already left her body, then I don't think it would be wrong to discontinue the processes that keep her body "alive." Because the case seems murky, I think that society, her family, etc. are obliged to err on the side of caution and not to discontinue her feeding and what not.

On the other hand, it is obvious that this whole thing is a sad, sad mess. And the right thing to do in this case is difficult to discern because the facts are not empirically discernible. Its very unfortunate, however you slice it. We should pray for Terri Schiavo's soul and for her husband, her parents, and the litigators involved in the all of it. Pray that life may be preserved, that grace may operate, that wisdom may be exercised, that sins may be forgiven.

prayer for wednesday in holy week

crux sacra sit mihi lux
Originally uploaded by gwbrark.
Make me cheerful under every cross, for love of thy cross; take from me all which displeases thee, or hinders thy love in me, that I may deeply love thee. Melt me with thy love, that I may be all love, and with my whole being love thee. Amen.

-E.B. Pusey

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

a prayer for holy week

Originally uploaded by gwbrark.
O Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, we pray thee to set thy passion, cross and death between thy judgement and our souls, now and in the hour of our death. Vouchsafe to grant mercy and grace to the living, rest to the dead, to thy holy Church peace and concord, and to us sinners everlasting life and glory; for thou art alive and reignest, with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever. Amen.

-Hours of the BVM before the 14th C. (from "A Manual of Anglo-Catholic Devotion")

Sunday, March 20, 2005

rowan williams on abortion

This is from Archbishop Rowan Williams in the Sunday Times (London) today:

"For a large majority of Christians — not only Roman Catholics, and including this writer — it is impossible to regard abortion as anything other than the deliberate termination of a human life. Whatever other issues enter into the often anguished decisions concerning particular cases, they want this dimension to be taken seriously.

"Equally, though, for a large majority of Christians this is a view which they know they have to persuade others about, and recognise is not taken for granted in our society. The idea that raising the issues here is the first step towards a theocratic tyranny or a capitulation to some neanderthal Christian right is alarmist nonsense."

The whole thing is to be found here:,,2092-1532854,00.html.

It was originally posted by Fr. Harmon (

Saturday, March 19, 2005

sufjan stevens

seven swans
Originally uploaded by gwbrark.
Now, this is an Anglo-Catholic blog about Theology and Devotion (in the 21st century). It isn't my habit to do one of those "here's what's in my itunes playlist right now" things. That being said, if you are young (or not), and your tastes run to the musically "indie," then stop what you are doing and go out and buy Sufjan Steven's albums, especially "Seven Swans." This guy is obviously a bona fide Christian of some profundity. Some lyrics from his song "The Transfiguration" (he has a song called "The Transfiguration"!!!!):

What he said to them,
the voice of God: the most beloved son.
Consider what he says to you, consider what's to come.
The prophecy was put to death,
was put to death, and so will the Son.
And keep your word, disguise the vision till the time has come.

Lost in the cloud, a voice. Have no fear! We draw near!
Lost in cloud, a sign. Son of man! Son of God!

Perhaps just as incredible is the review of this album at I mean, how is it possible to get jaded, indie ironists to extol the virtues of intense, heart-on-your-sleeve Christianity? This is a cause for rejoicing.

Read the review; buy the album.


The wonderful thing is that this story is in the New York Times. The front page of the online edition, no less.

"ALAPAHA, Ga., March 17 - Few episodes in this modern age have drawn the Southern talent for tall tales like the legend of Hogzilla, the alleged 12-foot, 1,000-pound wild hog shot and killed on a South Georgia farm last June."

Etc. etc. Dig it.

I'm sorry, but I couldn't resist posting this. Its just so, so wonderful.

Friday, March 18, 2005

the bishops' decision

What does WB think of the ECUSA Bishops' recent decisions? He is largely ambivalent. On the whole I regard it all negatively. This is not a time for equivocation, the bishops' favorite parlor game. They very intentionally left wiggle room for priests to continue to bless homosexual relationships, and some of the bishops have been explicit in their intention to do so. From the Living Church, via Titusonenine:

"Two diocesan bishops told the House on Saturday that no matter what was decided, nothing would deter the blessing of same-sex unions in their dioceses.

"Bishop Jon Bruno of Los Angeles told the Los Angeles Times that though he would observe the moratorium against the blessing of same-sex unions, he would not impose the moratorium on his clergy nor discipline those who performed the rites...:"

The bishops need to lead ECUSA in the dirrection of accepting the gospel's call to forsaking autonomy. ECUSA needs a healthy dose of obedience, submission, coporate self-denial.

Why is it that every single decision that the EUCSA hierarchy makes is wreathed in ambiguity, qualifications, loop-holes, exceptions, and general sophistry? Why can't their yes be yes and their no, no? This seems to me to be the kind of tepid religiosity that our Lord found most offensive.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

why are we christians?

There are a number of possible answers the question of why I am a Christian. One is that I was born a Christian. But that answer just pushes the question back: why, then, do I remain a Christian? I suppose the answer is that I have come to believe Christianity is right. By "right" I mean that I believe it describes the cosmos accurately. If one were to come up with a core list of propositions that describe Christian belief essentially (maybe the three great Creeds or soemthing), then all of those propositions would be true.

Thinking Christianity to be RIGHT assumes that Christianity is a metaphysical scheme; and in a sense it is. But more than that, I think evangelicals are onto something important when they say that Christianity is a RELATIONSHIP. In a very important sense, Christianity is essentially a relationship of the individual creature with God in Christ. And as with any relationship, the indiidual Christian's relationship with God in Christ ought to have fruits, or consequences, in the life of the Christian. That is certainly true of my life. That is, my life, my activities, my outlook, the little things I do each day, are all diffferent in virtue of my being a Christian, of being in a relationship with God in Christ. Moreover, the DIFFERENCE in my life reenforces the act of intellective belief. And the stronger the faith, the more I feel I am able to see how different my life is in virtue of the Christianity as a relationship. In an important sense, therefore, I AM a Christian -- or maybe I have remained a Christian -- because being a Christian has made a difference in my life.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

the melanesian brotherhood

Originally uploaded by gwbrark.

I had the opportunity to live with the Melanesian Brotherhood in the Solomon Islands during 2002. It was an experience I will never forget, and for which I am inexpressably grateful. The Church in Melanesian is, from what I know of it, the kind of catholic Christianity for which we ought all to be striving. The Melanesian Brotherhood is also the largest religious community in the Anglican Communion, with something like 500 brothers.

Here is a link to the transcript from a radio program with interviews with Br. Richard Carter, and some other of the brothers. Great reading.

"From 1999 onwards, basically, MBH made a decision that they couldn't just sit by and watch the country divide like it was dividing. But had to take an active stance. The HQ of the MBH here at Tabalia became a refugee centre for the displaced people - first for the Malaitans as they fled off their land when they were threatened. Later when the Malaitans were to strike back, many Guadalcanal people camped at Tabalia - so really we helped refugees from both sides during the conflict. In addition to that our houses in Honiara became safe houses; places where people come who felt threatened."

Of further note, the Church in Melanesia is celebrating the glorious witness of the seven brothers martyred on the weather coast of Guadalcanal on April 24, the date of the martyrdom of the first three brothers, two years ago. It is my hope that ECUSA will authorize an American commemoration for Lesser Feasts and Fasts. I encourage you to observe liturgically April 24 as the feast of the Seven Martyrs of Melanesia in your church. I will be posting appropriate readings and collects and what not in future.

Monday, March 14, 2005

why are we christians?

I think this is an interesting question. Why are we Christians? What motivates our belief, or our assent? I am curious what you think. This is a healthy exercise in apologetics, and a clarifying reflection. A related question: what is Christianity, essentially? Its a religion, obviously. But what is it particularly? Is it a system of morality? A worldview? A metaphysical schema? Some combination?

Saturday, March 12, 2005

malawi ghosts

What if the White House were haunted? Would we get from Scott McClellan what we have got from the Rev. Malani Mtonga regarding the ghosts at the Malawi president's house?

'Malawi President Bingu wa Mutharika has temporarily moved out of his 300-bedroom state mansion, claiming it is haunted by ghosts, a senior aide said.

Reverend Malani Mtonga, presidential aide on Christian affairs, said Mutharika had asked the clergy to pray to "exorcise evil spirits".

"No strategy designed from the pits of hell will prosper against the president because we have asked for divine intervention to cast the blood of Jesus against any evil plots against the president," Mtonga told The Associated Press.'

Read it all, as they say, here:

theology and devotion

See? John Stott says so.

"Besides, reverence always precedes understanding. We shall
know him only if we are willing to obey him."

From (directly) Titusonenine (

Friday, March 11, 2005

hotel rwanda

Went to see the movie Hotel Rwanda last night. Very good. Very moving.

I confess to having a longtime fascination with the Rwanda Genocide. It just seems so inexplicable and evil. And in the movie, the voice on the radio, sort of embodies, in a formal way, my sense of the inexplicable and disembodied evil at work. The whole thing was just so demonic.

And the character of Paul is a very moving Christ figure. Or maybe just a radical disciple. Or maybe there's no difference between radical discipleship and being a Christ figure. In any event, Paul forsakes everything, lays down his life for his friends (though he doesn't actually die -- in fact he spoke at my school recently); but he abandons his claim on everything, on life itself, for the sake of others. He becomes, in Kierkegaard's words, the most injured of all -- the one with no "mine" at all.

Go see the movie. Its incredible.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

dean zahl on staying

mains3 "I would say: “Stay in the Episcopal Church as long as you can, until they push you out. We have a contribution to make. It is not a contribution we will make by ‘winning,’ for I think we have lost. But the ascendant party needs us, not just to feel that they really are ‘tolerant,’ but to somehow arrive at a finally catholic expression of Christianity. If we leave, there won’t be any ‘heavy water’ for purposes of gospel fusion; there won’t be any lodestone by which, one day, a course correction could be made. I feel like we are the lead, in the sense of the comic book ‘Superman’: the lead that may still protect them from the kryptonite of the world’s ‘never-failing stores.’ Without us, in other words, they will finally choke and tremble in the deadly night air, because the whole thing was derived, was ingested, from the world’s ideas – and those ideas change, like the weather. So, dear brethren and sistren, stay in, so long as you can.

“On the other hand, if they – the regnant Episcopalians – really won’t give you a shred of space, then, sigh, you will be forced out. Like the character Ripley in the movie ‘Alien,’ slip through the airlock and tie yourself up in the escape shuttle and push off into the great unknown. And if it really comes to that, then, and then only, watch that you allow no stowaway!…”

From the interview at posted by Fr. Harmon at Titusonenine.

Dean Zahl describes exactly how I often feel, i.e. that we've lost, that its only a matter of time, that the consideration of a vocation in the Episcopal Church is rather like looking at the cross on which one knows one will shortly be crucified. I say "often feel" because I don't always feel this way. At other times, and always among some, there is real generosity, openess, and vulnerability with those on the "other side." In any case we are called to know nothing but Jesus Christ, and him crucified. And if our proclamation of Christ crucified is accomplishible, by his grace, only through our superficial ruination, then so be it. I didn't make myself an Episcopalian; I have been placed here by Another. And this is where I mean to stay until I am no longer able to stay.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005


First of all, I am now blogging with a mac. It has made things slightly more complicated, blog-wise. For example, my profile and links and what not are now at the bottom of the blog. I don't know why, and I'm not savvy enough to fix it. Also, posting pictures is rather more complicated. I'm sure these are all work-around-ible issues.

Also: some have wondered what I meant by "therapeutic" in reference to Evangelicalism. Now, I didn't mean it in any kind of pejorative sense. I just mean that evangelicals, with their emphasis on a personal relationship with Jesus have concomittant emphases on devotional EXPERIENCE. Hence, perhaps, all the closed eyes and raised hands at praise and worship events. This is mainly the sort of thing I had in mind. The experience of feeling close to God, loved, intensely devotional, etc. can all be very good (and were good for me last weekend). We just shouldn't cling to the experiences, as such. Its just like fiddleback chasubles and six candles on the altar for anglo-catholics: great stuff, but not objects of devotion in themselves.

We would all do well to remind ourselves every day that we are serving our crucified and risen Lord, and that we are preparing for his second Advent. The point of religion is not to feel this way or that way; its just to serve the one and only End, Jesus Christ.

So likewise with, e.g., Jack van Impe below. I was actually pleasantly surprised by his little talk. He spoke rather favorably of the pope and of Roman Catholicism. He kept citing Irenaus, Justin Martyr, and Origen. He referred to them as "priests of the Church." And he knew the Bible like the back of his hand. It was really amazing. I'm just not sure he's RIGHT. And even if he is right, I'm not so sure it matters.

what the prot's are up to

I spent the lion share of the evening watching Jack van Impe, Kenneth Copeland, et al. on the internet. Amazing. There's a whole 'nother world of doctrine out there.

Maybe the Lord is returning shortly. Maybe Revelation really is all about nuclear war with Russia, the state of Israel, etc. etc. I don't suppose it matters much. I mean, whether its true or not (for the record, I'm not a Premillenial Dispensationalist) wouldn't affect what we're meant to be about: proclaiming the gospel of our Lord.

I rounded off the evening by listening to a sermon by Fr. Matthew Weiler of the Cathedral Church of the Advent in Birmingham. A welcome relief after all that pre-trib, post-trib, hellfire mess.

Monday, March 07, 2005


It seems to me that the word "reconciliation" is one of those words that has gotten so thrown around and fetishized that it has been emptied of most of its conceptual content. Really, what does it mean anymore? I now associate it with very vague notions of generic theological liberalism. "The Church is about bringing Christ's reconciling love to the world" and such things. What? How?

Here is a letter from Bishop Griswald: .

In it he says "I am grateful that bonds of understanding and affection bind us together and call us to an ever deeper and more costly living out of the reconciliation brought about by Jesus through the Cross." What does it mean????

empty church


Churches are empty, quite possibly due to lackluster and weak priests. Latitudinarianism is largely responsible. When did we get the idea that there are these three branches of Anglicanism, Catholic, Evangelical, and Liberal? There never were any liberals till Coleridge tried to turn the Church into a Quaker Meeting House.

Read this article:,,1-2-1511237,00.html .

And thank you Young Fogey, et al. (

Saturday, March 05, 2005

evangelicalism is therapeutic

Greetings from the Mohonk Mountain House ( in the mountains of New York state. I am on a retreat run by the New Canaan Society (, an evangelical men's group headquartered in, that's right, New Canaan, Connecticut.

I have been introduced to something called "freestyle" praise and worship. It can be moving, though in general I think it ought to be tempered by traditional devotion, i.e. to the Blessed Virgin, and to our Lord's sacramental Presence.

So far, I've heard talks on the transforming power of mercy, and something about "windows on the soul," both of which were pretty good. Sherry after High Mass is not to be scoffed at; but good old evangelicalism can remind one of what a blessing it can be actually to let oneself go a bit and get into some of the culturally lower forms of music.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

evelyn underhill

For those of you who don't know, Evelyn Underhill is great. Particularly some lecture she gave to young parochial priests about the life of prayer, the name of which I can't remember at the moment. But Dn. Nelson, at Conjectures, has posted a short little thing about how important prayer is to everything else. (Theology and Devotion for the 21st Century!) Its great. Dig it.

a little more on the primates' meeting

Quite possibly the most interesting recounting of the Primates' Meeting of yesterweek. Particularly interesting:

- In early drafts of the communique, apparently there was an expression of repentence from ECUSA.
- Global South primates were absent from the Friday Eucharist.
- The chastisement of the Global South primates after David Virtue's leaking of the communique.
- Etc.

Once again, it underscores Archbishop Williams skillful and Godly leadership. I don't mean to sound like a groupie, but he does seem to have done a great job.

Thanks to Fr. Harmon at Titusonenine.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

is this man the guardian of the ark of the covenant?

Sometimes weird stuff really interests me. Today, I have been contemplating the likelihood that the Ethiopian monk in this picture is the keeper of the Ark of the Covenant. That is what he claims. Here is an interview with him.

If he's not the keeper of the Ark, then he's a liar. Or just really deluded.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

byzantine roman catholicism and anglicanism

There is a very interesting apologia at Pontifications from Fr. Chrysostom Frank about the similarities between classical, high Anglicanism, and Byzantine Roman Catholicism. In addition to some of the more obvious similarities (married priests, a more collegial ecclesiology, etc.), Fr. Chrysostom also observes that there is more of an appreciation for the close connection between theology and devotion. Here is an exerpt. What do you think? Lex orandi lex credendi? Would it tempt you if the Anglican ship were definitively to sink? Is it tempting now? Has the Anglican ship sunk? Etc.?

This liturgical experience with its resultant liturgical theology, an experience common to both Anglican and Byzantine Christianity, was aptly articulated by the 1984 Anglican-Orthodox Dublin Agreed Statement: “(63) Anglicans and Orthodox hold that the liturgy and all worship are essentially for the expression, maintenance and communication of the true faith. Liturgical texts are thus fundamental doctrinal standards for both.” and “(53) Faith and worship are inseparable. Dogmas are not abstract ideas existing in and for themselves, but revealed and saving truths and realities intended to bring mankind into communion with God.”

Read the whole thing here.