Monday, May 30, 2005

stupid blog mess

There is so much you can do on the internet. So much wonderful stuff. This is apparently my English speaking profile. What is yours? (Who cares, actually? Soon I will return to spirit-blogging.)

Your Linguistic Profile:

50% General American English

40% Dixie

10% Yankee

0% Midwestern

0% Upper Midwestern

I hope to have "Dixie" creep up to 100% some day. For now, I am gratified that it is what it is. I have got to beat down that phonetic yankee. Was Sherman's march to the sea not enough, but now there must be linguistic hegemony? Shame.

lee nelson and the field of stars

For those of you who don't know, Lee Nelson is walking the Camino de Santiago at the moment. I urge you to check out what has become his travel blog. While you're at it, say the Glorious Myeteries for him, or maybe the Itinerary.

May the Almighty and merciful God direct him in the way of peace and happiness, and may the Angel Raphael accompany him on the way, so that he may return home again with peace, and health and joy. Amen.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

i hate labyrinths

Here are some tips on walking a labyrinth:

1. Focus by pausing at the entrance. Become centered. Give acknowledgment through a bow, nod, or other gesture and then enter.

2. Walk purposefully while observing the process. When you reach the center, stay there and focus several moments. Leave when it seems appropriate. Be attentive on the way out.

3. When leaving turn and face the entrance. Give an acknowledgement of ending, such as " 'cha" or "Right on" or even "Amen."

4. After walking the labyrinth reflect back on your experience.

5. Walk often.

I found this advice here, and to it I would only add:

6. Be crucified with Christ and washed in his precious blood, that you may be delivered from your sins, and live with him in his glory.

What do you think of the emperor's new clothes? What is your favorite substitute for being sanctified?

a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away....

Last night I saw the new Star Wars movie. I have to say it was pretty good. I agree with most of what the Times had to say. It was marred by some silly dialogue, as remarked, such as

"You're so beautiful!"

"I love you."

"No, I love you."

"No, I love you!"

And Anakin still sometimes seemed like a petulent child (why is his nickname "Annie?" isn't that gay?). There are also some silly bits about fighting for democracy and let freedom ring, but apart from that, I was impressed. Possibly it was because the movie is pretty dark. Another good decision: Jar-Jar-Binks appears only once, for about three seconds, and is completely silent.

The last fifteen minutes or so of the movie is a fairly overt transition into the aesthetic of the first three movies (Episodes 4-6), with the Nazi-esque uniforms and the 1970's starship computer buttons. That was bold, and a nice touch (I thought).

philip turner on the ecusa

"We must say this clearly: The Episcopal Church's current working theology depends upon the obliteration of God's difficult, redemptive love in the name of a new revelation. The message, even when it comes from the mouths of its more sophisticated exponents, amounts to inclusion without qualification."

(From the current issue -- June / July 2005 -- of First Things)

Turner is complaining about the Episcopal Church's new theology of "radical inclusion", which works itself out practically in such things as the notion of an "open table" and of the Clinical Pastoral Education requirement in most dioceses (I complained about that all Summer once).

He's absolutely right. ECUSA's new theology leaves no room for notions of sin, redepmtion, forgiveness, repentance, justification, sanctification, holiness of life, etc. etc. Insofar as ECUSA engages, practically, with such things, she engages them on her own terms, not on the terms of the 2000 year old Catholic Church. I.e. ECUSA says "we are Christians" -- though by "Chrisitan" she means something other than what the Church has always meant hitherto. The working theology of radical inclusion within ECUSA may therefore safely be regarded as non-Christian.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

the pontificator

Fr. Kimel has gone over to Rome. The Episcopal Church has lost another faithful and very talented priest. Read about his decision here. We wish him well, of course. And I must say that I am grateful for his ministry with Pontifications. It has been very helpful for me and many others. I hope he continues with it.

Monday, May 23, 2005

behold, i am come...

I have returned, and am in the midst of a complicated graduation ritual, stretched over three days.

One (of the many) wonderful thing(s) about parents is that they buy you stuff. Specifically, they buy you The People's Anglican Missal, A Handbook for Priests, The Priest's Manual, and the Classics of Western Spirituality John of the Cross volume.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005


Hello, friends, from the Pittsburgh airport. I am en route to what I hope will be my last meeting with my diocesan authorities before my priesting. I shall return late Friday night, and probably will not have much internet access till then.

In the meantime, ponder these things in your heart, namely my chief (possiblyh only) objections to Papism: (1) the doctrine of the pope (specifically, infalibility, and certain titles like 'head of the Church on earth') (I'm very happy to call him the Christ Vicar, the Patriarch of the West, Primus inter pares, etc. etc.), (2) the notion that the late Marian doctrines are, in fact, dogmas, elements of the Catholic Faith, apart from which there is no salvation. Now I believe the Marian doctrines (I think), i.e. her Immaculate Conception and Assumption -- I just don't think that its necessary that everyone believe them. But then again, not even the Roman Church says that its necessary that one believe that its necessary that one believe Mary was Immaculately Conceived and assumed bodily, etc. (Do you follow me?) What do you all think?

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

blogs, swarmming about to protect their nest of chocolate eggs

Here's a new blog that promises to Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus. Welcome to the virtual world of orthodox Episcopalianism. Note the address is:

And is not:

That's something else. Something srange, yet compelling.

Monday, May 16, 2005

bishop theologians... or the lack thereof

It occurs to me -- just a thought, really -- that maybe the reason there are almost (absolutely?) no bishops in ECUSA who are very theologically sophisticated is because ECUSA is overly democratic in its canonical / constitutional functioning. What I mean is that becasue bishops must be elected by their jurisdictions, and because their election must be ratified by General Convention, we wind up with a bunch of crowd-placating compromisors. There are certainly no N.T. Wright's in America, no Rowan Williamses. And it seems as though there have not been any for a very long time. In fact, I can't think of any American episcopal (in the broad sense) theologians. Does Philips Brooks count as a theologian bishop, or was he merely one of the first true heretic bishops? Does anyone know?

Sunday, May 15, 2005

renowned biblical scholar, bp. spong, has a new book

From Nicholas Kristof's editorial in the Times today:

It's entirely possible to honor Christian conservatives for their first-rate humanitarian work treating the sick in Africa or fighting sex trafficking in Asia, and still do battle with them over issues like gay rights.

Liberals can and should confront Bible-thumping preachers on their own terms, for the scriptural emphasis on justice and compassion gives the left plenty of ammunition. After all, the Bible depicts Jesus as healing lepers, not slashing Medicaid.

The gadfly of all things good, Jack Spong, has a new book out. Kristof's editorial is sort of a review of it.

Bp. Spong has figured out that Judas didn't betray Jesus, that St. Paul was "a self-hating gay", and that Jesus was "probably married to Mary Magdalene".

Spong's book is very valuable according to Kristof:

This book is long overdue, because one of the biggest mistakes liberals have made has been to forfeit battles in which faith plays a crucial role. Religion has always been a central current of American life, and it is becoming more important in politics because of the new Great Awakening unfolding across the United States.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

new truth!

Originally uploaded by gwbrark.
From Bp. Griswold's Pentacost message:

And wouldn't the alchemists be amazed at our ability to do what they always wanted to do, namely turn one element into another. Those ancients didn't have the cyclotron. This learning, and unlearning I believe is all part of what Jesus meant when he said "I have many more things to say to you but you cannot bear them now. However, when the Spirit of truth comes he will guide you into all truth."

For those of you who aren't nuclear physicists, a cyclotron is...

A circular particle accelerator in which charged subatomic particles generated at a central source are accelerated spirally outward in a plane perpendicular to a fixed magnetic field by an alternating electric field. A cyclotron is capable of generating particle energies between a few million and several tens of millions of electron volts. (From

Read the whole Griswold message here.

Friday, May 13, 2005

john paul the great on the fast track to sainthood

Originally uploaded by gwbrark.
ROME, May 13 - Pope Benedict XVI said today that he had decided to forego the rules of the Roman Catholic Church and immediately put his predecessor, Pope John Paul II, on the road to potential sainthood.

The pope's announcement effectively dispensed with a church law that requires a five-year waiting period before beatification cases can be opened, and thus put John Paul, who made more saints than all other popes combined, on the sainthood fast track.

Benedict's brief statement, made in Latin to a group of priests gathered at St John's Basilica on the 24th anniversary of the assassination attempt against John Paul, also set off a long round of applause.

Read the whole thing here.

vatican praises steps by anglicans to deal with gay bishop

VATICAN CITY (AP) - The Vatican on Thursday praised steps by Anglican leaders to deal with the election of a gay bishop in the United States and the blessing of same-sex unions there and in Canada, saying there were now foundations for continued dialogue and cooperation.

The assessment came after Anglican leaders on Feb. 24 asked the U.S. Episcopal Church adn the Anglican Church of Canada to temporarily withdraw from a key council of the world Anglican communion because of the crisis that threatened to split their 77 million members.

Read the whole thing.

from fr. aidan nichols' essay

Since everyone else in the anglican blogosphere is posting bits of Fr. Aidan's essay, here is one of my favorites:

The purpose of the Ecumenical
Movement is not to arrive at a lowest common
denominator Christianity. It is to restore the integrity
of Christendom on the basis of the total revelation
given to the Church by Christ and daily rendered a
living reality by the Holy Spirit.

Read the whole 40 page essay on Anglican Uniatism here.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

apparently evangelism was happening at the air force academy -- shame!

A chaplain at the Air Force Academy described a "systemic and pervasive" problem of religious proselytizing at the academy and said a religious tolerance program she helped create to deal with the problem was watered down after it was shown to officers, including the major general who is the Air Force's chief chaplain.

The academy chaplain, Capt. MeLinda Morton, spoke publicly for the first time as an Air Force task force arrived at the academy in Colorado Springs on Tuesday to investigate accusations that officers, staff members and senior cadets inappropriately used their positions to push their evangelical Christian beliefs on Air Force cadets.

Read the whole thing here. I think one of my professors was involved in blowing the whistle, as it were.

the archbishop of canterbury's directive about the panel of reference

Whereas it has been represented to the Primates of the Anglican Communion meeting in February 2005 that certain parishes have been unwilling to accept the direct oversight of their diocesan bishops and that certain dioceses are in dispute with their provincial authorities;

And Whereas the Primates have recognised the principled concerns motivating those parishes and dioceses and acknowledge the various attempts which have been made to meet their difficulties;

And Whereas the Primates have recommended that a body be established to assist in the resolution of these difficulties:

Now in pursuance of the Primates' recommendation, I direct that:

1. There shall be an advisory and consultative body to be known as The Panel of Reference ("the Panel");
2. The members of the Panel shall consist of not less than nine persons qualified by professional and pastoral skills and experience and appointed by myself as necessary from time to time;
3. The functions of the Panel shall be:

3.1 At my request to enquire into, consider and report on situations drawn to my attention where there is serious dispute concerning the adequacy of schemes of delegated or extended episcopal oversight or other extraordinary arrangements which may be needed to provide for parishes which find it impossible in all conscience to accept the direct ministry of their own diocesan bishop or for dioceses in dispute with their provincial authorities;
3.2 With my consent to make recommendations to the Primates, dioceses and provincial and diocesan authorities concerned, and to report to me on their response;
3.3 At the request of any Primate to provide a facility for mediation and to assist in the implementation of any such scheme in his own province;
Provided always that the Panel shall in consultation with me have power to determine which classes or categories of cases fall within its competency to consider in line with the concerns expressed by the primates at their meetings in Dromantine in February 2005 and in Lambeth Palace in October 2003.

4. The Panel shall continue in existence for the period of five years or until I shall determine in consultation with the members of the Primates' Standing Committee that its functions have been fulfilled (whichever shall sooner occur);

And I call upon:

1. Each Primate or Moderator of the Communion which has such a scheme of delegation or extended episcopal oversight to lodge with me a copy of such scheme within 14 days of receiving this document and to notify me within 28 days following any change to such scheme;
2. Each bishop of the Communion to respect fully and in accordance with its spirit any scheme of delegation or extended oversight established in his or her province;
3. Each parish of the Communion which considers that in all conscience it cannot accept the direct oversight of its bishop to work with him or her in the first instance towards finding some appropriate means for delegated or extended episcopal oversight within the diocese and Province in which the parish is situated;
4. The Instruments of Unity of the Communion to work tirelessly towards reconciliation and healing "that the world may believe."
5. The names of the members of the panel will be issued next week from the Anglican Communion Office and Lambeth Palace.

back in the elm city

I have returned from Babylon. I don't think I shall visit NYC very much until I make my fortune as a priest. That way, when I'm very rich, I won't have to (1) walk anywhere (unless I want to), (2) take public transportation or taxis, (3) eat anywhere but the Yale Club, 21, Town, Cafe des Artistes, or the Knickerbocker, (4) stay anywhere but the Ritz Carlton or the Four Seasons.

By way of explanation: call me provincial (I am from the provinces, after all), but I cannot abide "The City" for very long under normal circumstances. Its just that there are so incredibly many people. There are so many cars, making so much noise and trying to run you over. There is so much hollering and generic insanity.

And then there's the issue of getting to, around in, and away from "The City". On this excursion I came into town on the Metro North railroad. And it is a very unsavory experience, full of those acquisitive-sounding, low-level workers at places like Morgan Stanley, who shout vulgarities at each other about profit margins and sex. (The ruffians on the train I don't mind as much.) I rode out of town with M. in her car. We got lost trying to find 95 and wound up driving around "The City" for an hour. We nearly killed several bicyclists, and were ourselves nearly killed by taxis at every turn.

But, lest you think I am a fuddy-duddy, the trip had its sublimities and amusements. we never made it to the MOMA, but we did make it to the zoo in central park, where we observed a cage full of Cotton-top Tamarins. We also saw a very impressive troop of some type of Sea Ape, which would leap individually from rock to rock in a little enclosure filled with water. At one point, one of them climbed a pole and began to swing wildly back and forth. At another point, one of them scooped a little duckling out of the water -- the duckling had become separated form its sibblings -- and tossed it back to the mother duck. Very impressive. We also witnessed the Feeding of the Sea Lions.

The most pleasant part of the foray was my walk with M. down from the Upper East Side (near the Hewitt School) back to Midtown. It was very nice, walking along Central Park, until we got back to Midtown, where the insanity began again. But walking along under the trees, in the glorious sunshine and the temperate vernal breeze was lovely indeed. Our final hoozah were a few moments in St. Thomas Church, where we briefly adored our Lord in his sacramental presence, and said a prayer before our Lady of 5th Avenue.

So it was not all bad. Nevertheless, whenever I return from "The City", what I really want (along with Robert E. Lee) is a farm in Virginia, with all the fried chicken and buttermilk I can stand.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

more from 'the city'

As I sit in my hotel room, sipping coffee, reading the paper, and listening to Noel Coward, I read the following:

Vatican radio found guilty of pollution

A Rome Court convicted a Vatican cardinal [is there any other kind of cardinal?] and a top Vatican Radio official of polluting the environment with electromagnetic waves from a transmission tower. The 10-day jail sentences of Cardinal Roberto Tucci, former head of Vatican Radio's management committee, and the Rev. Pasquale Borgomeo, the station's director general, were suspended, said the rev. Federico Lombardi, the program director. he said the transmission was legal and the Vatical will appeal the verdict.

Meanwhile, Noel Coward croons on, "Would you like some madeira?" And I prepare myself to examine the pictures at the MOMA.

one of those silly, throwaway posts

I am currently in New York City ("The City" as people call it in Connecticut, to my annoyance). What's in my iTunes playlist? Noel Coward singing Mad Dogs and Englismen. What am I reading whilst whizzing along on the Metro North? The Christian Priest Today by ArchBp. Michael Ramsey. I recommend both very highly.

Monday, May 09, 2005

and now for something completely different

My dear friend, Caleb, has started a blog. It is here. I encourage you to look at it. Caleb is one of the smartest people east of the Mississippi. He may actually be the coolest person so situated.

Caleb's ecclesial home is the Vineyard. I'm praying he'll come to see the truth of Apostolic Succession and semi-pelagianism. But then again, maybe he's praying for me to be slain in the Spirit. In the meantime, we love Jesus together.

the movies

Originally uploaded by gwbrark.
I've just returned from seeing the movie Kingdom of Heaven. It's silly, but there are lots of fun and impressive battle sequences, a la Braveheart, the Lord of the Rings, Troy, etc. etc. etc. I'm very impressed with what they can do with all that digital technology nowadays.

The things that annoyed me about the movie have to do with the pop theology. Orlando Bloom became the champion of some kind of weird gnostic Jerusalem that he called (I believe) a "kingdom of conscience." Salahadin was portrayed as a kind of sword-weilding Martin Luther King on horseback, who only started fighting to establish a land of tolerance and ethnic harmony.

In the end, the message of the movie is this: "The proposition 'nothing is worth fighting for,' is worth fighting for... to the death." I didn't go see it for a message, but I wonder how many people will take its message without a grain of salt?

Sunday, May 08, 2005

ritual notes

I just got a copy of Ritual Notes, around in which I am enjoying looking. I have to say, as much as I would like to implement everything they suggest (I've heard of "ritual notes parishes"), I just don't think its practicable, esp. for someone in my situation, and not least because I'm not in charge. I wonder if there's a middle way. I suppose the best thing to do, in terms of a partial implementation, is to comport oneself as per their recommendations during the liturgy.

I do wish we could all go back to ad orietem or ad apsidem, as the case may be. After thinking about it for a long while (a few years), I think that celebrating versus populum implies a number of theological things that ought not to be implied. Or maybe its more accurate to say that celebrating thus can implicitly give the impression of certain theological things that are incorrect. For example, it de-emphasizes the mass qua sacrifice, and proportionately disctracts from our Lord and his sacrifice.

This has become a rant. I wonder what others think / recommend (esp.viz. implementing Ritual Notes).

Saturday, May 07, 2005

today in newport

Today in Newport, Rhode Island, Fr. Kendal Harmon is preaching at St. John the Evangelist, one of the great catholic parishes in ECUSA. There is a votive mass for the ending of schism. May schism be ended. Please see my prayers against the same, here, here, and here.

I very much wanted to go, but have other commitments today. We all ought to join them in praying for the end of schism and heresy.

Friday, May 06, 2005

diary of a country priest

Journal d'un Cure de Campagne
Originally uploaded by gwbrark.
I had the souls in my cure watch the Robert Bresson movie Diary of a Country Priest.

If you've never seen it, I recommend it highly. Its something of a challenge to get past the slow pace of it, what with having been weened on car chases and exploding things. But the movie is incredible.

One of the final lines: "It doesn't matter. All is grace."

Thursday, May 05, 2005

benedict's coat of arms

benedict's coat of arms
Originally uploaded by gwbrark.
You've been waiting with baited breath, now here it is. Pope Benedict's coat of arms! You will notice that it includes the Moor of Freising, the Bear of Corbinian, and the Sea Shell of Santiago. Hooray!

And, sadly, as an indication that the papal tiara is gone for good, the papal tiara is gone (for good).

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

congratulations to me

As of today, I have finished all the requirements for the Master of Divinity degree. I think. They send me so many emails about little logistical things and what not. Who knows? I would be surprised if I haven't overlooked something. But providing that I haven't missed something, I am now DONE. I won't say "Sod off, stupid school," until I have diploma in hand, and not even then as I'll be back next year for new and different things. (Hello, school friends. What a nice school we have.)

But because we are in that brief window of time when the weather is glorious, the world's colors sublime, and because I handed in a very tedious and long paper yesterday having to do with church administration, in short, for the moment: congratulations to me.

fr. kimel on authentic catholicity (which doesn't equal diversity)

The Church is catholic because Jesus is catholic. He comprehends within himself the fullness of deity. The Church is catholic because she is mystically united to the God-man and sacramentally makes him present to the world. The Church is catholic because she embodies the wholeness of truth and teaches the dogmas of faith fully and completely. The Church is catholic because in her communion sinners are reborn in the Holy Spirit and brought into the salvation of the Kingdom.” The Church is catholic,” writes Georges Florovsky, “because it is the one Body of Christ; it is union in Christ, oneness in the Holy Ghost—and this unity is the highest wholeness and fulness.”

To be catholic is, I agree, to embrace everything. It is to embrace the fullness and perfection of divine revelation. It is to embrace the totality of God’s creation. It is to embrace life. But the Church has never understood her vocation as embracing or tolerating falsehood. Hers has been a tumultuous history of discerning truth and distinguishing it from falsity and error. Catholicity and orthodoxy cannot be divorced. Both the integrity of the gospel and the happiness of mankind hang in the balance.

The preceding is from Fr. Al Kimel's response to +Charles Pennsylvania's weird excurses on the meaning of catholicity. I encourage you to read all of both of them. Fr. Kimel's thing is insightful and entertaining, a rare combination of predicates.

It seems as though the death of Pope John Paul II really stirred something in the Bishop of Pennsylvania. May it be so. His thinking never the less still appears to be weird and completely off-base.

archbishop williams and pope benedict

Rowan & Benedict
Originally uploaded by gwbrark.
A picture of Pope Benedict and Rowan Cantuar from their meeting just after Benedict's installation the other week. Apparently they spoke to one another in German, and promised to pray for one another. Not much negotiating or anything. Still, mildly reassuring.

By the way, what do you call it, properly? An installation? Consecration? Enthronement?

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

why are (episcopal) churches emptying?

According to Touchstone, the Episcopal Church has 7,220 parishes in this country. About a third of the churches grew last year, and about half declined. The average Sunday attendance in a parish is 77; 247 of the parishes have Sunday attendance of fewer than ten. (A single Roman Catholic parish in Milwaukee I know of serves 7,500 families, and children abound. That is not at all unusual.) The median age of the clergy is 53, and half are between 50 and 60. Long being the church of the upper class, ECUSA parishes hold $3.6 billion in investments. That will assure the survival of many buildings and keep clerical salaries coming, but to what purpose if the pews are empty? The denomination stands on no solid theological base, it demands little or nothing of parishioners, its evangelical outreach is practically nonexistent, and its morality is almost wholly permissive. Why go to church on Sunday morning to listen to what can be heard at home on NPR?

The Church of England, like the other Protestant state churches of Western Europe, is almost dead. A recent study of 14,000 British churchgoers and those who have left the Church show that the trend described in my book is still at work, for the same reasons. Church attendance in 1968 was a mere 1.6 million. By 1998 the figure was 900,000 and is in freefall. Liberal and weak clergy are responsible for empty pews, the study reports. Watered-down theology “has resulted in a growing number of people being left with the false impression that there are no strong reasons for Christian belief.” Silly services contribute to the public malaise. Said one interviewee, “I’ve seen balloons rising from the pulpit, fake moustaches and all manner of audience appeal…but with no real message behind it.” Lack of solid moral teaching plays a role in the decline as well. Churchgoers, the report states, want to be told how to live a Christian life and how to win others to Christ in a world gone mad with materialism. Receiving little or nothing worth having, they drop out. Why go to the State Church on Sunday morning to listen to what can be heard at home on the BBC? (See,,2-1511237,00.html.)

Read the whole thing.

Thanks, as often, to Fr. Harmon.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

pope benedict, st. benedict, anglicanism, etc.

Benedict follows a different model suggested by his namesake, St. Benedict of Nursia. St. Benedict established monasteries that became centers for the first evangelization of Europe. These monasteries played such a significant role as centers of faith and learning that the great monuments of Christian civilization in the 12th and 13th centuries are unthinkable without them – a fact the pope thinks relevant for the church’s predicament today.

Benedict agrees with Williams that the church can, and should, be a transformer of its culture. But he believes certain inescapable conditions must first be met. In his view a church that does not know its own mind or preserve its own traditions unchanged may swiftly become a captive of its culture.

Benedict wants to preserve, as the monasteries once did, the doctrine, moral teaching and liturgy of the Catholic Church. These teachings and practices are the vital instruments through which God will once again transform the world.

Read the whole thing.

Thank you Fr. Harmon.