Monday, July 31, 2006


Religious Left organizes for Political Influence

Read the whole thing.

At a church in Washington, hundreds of committed Christians met recently and tried to map out a strategy to get their values into the political debate.

But these are not the conservative Christian values which have been so influential lately. This is the religious left.

"Jesus called us to love our neighbor, love our enemy, care for the poor, care for the outcast, and that's really the moral core of where we think the nation ought to go," Dr. Bob Edgar, General Secretary of the National Council of Churches told CBS News correspondent Russ Mitchell.

The National Council of Churches represents about 50 million Christians in America — the majority of them mainline Protestants.

"Jesus never said one word about homosexuality, never said one word about civil marriage or abortion," Edgar said. He calls this movement the "center-left" — and it's seeking the same political muscle as the conservative Christians, a group with a strong power base in the huge Evangelical churches of the South.

I've said before that the church has a responsibility to be political, and that's true. The goals of this group of religious leftists even make sense to me, as far as they are an expression of Christian goals for a just society. Where I disagree is in the silence, the "Jesus never said one word about. . . " bit. But that's a theological difference, and to be expected.

No, what's most troubling to me about this is the assumption of a view of history that says the left ran things from the beginning of time until the 70's (as is only proper), when the rabid, zombie-like conservatives revolted and turned the world upside down (there's a new twist to 'blame it on the 60's'). Now leftists must unite to remind the upstarts of the proper order of things. Ok, I'm reading a little into it here, but you get the idea. The point is that the religio-political landscape in America has been constantly changing as long as there have been people on the continent. That kind of over-simplified view of our history is what produces fear in the left, be it religious or political or both; and fear, in my experience, is a major motivator of leftists both in America and in TEC. Leftists are generally quite afraid of what would happen if rightists controlled things.

This oversimplified history is not helpful. It only fuels fear, whereas "perfect love driveth out all fear." If we could all realize that today's religio-political situation is just a blip on the radar screen of history, that will pass, will change, will ultimately be wiped away in the glorious reign of Christ, perhaps our fear would be undercut, and we could love each other better. Conservatives with their 'literalist' eschatologies may be better prepared to do that, I think, than someone who doesn't believe in Christ's second coming as an actual event culminating human history.

For the Good of the Family

Read the whole thing.

The African American Church has always played an important role in improving the lives of African Americans. It is appropriate and significant that we begin to deal with the breakdown of the family in the church,” said Rev. Brenda Girton-Mitchell, Associate General Secretary for Justice and Advocacy for NCC.

“This conference ["Breaking the Silence", held in D.C. next week] will equip African American church leaders and congregations to strengthen Black families and the community as a whole,” she said.

The training is aimed at empowering and equipping clergy and laity to address family issues in a way not taught in Sunday school or seminary. The conference will also focus on the development of tools and messaging around support for low income families.

Knowing that children who do not live with both biological parents are twice as likely to be poor, to have birth outside of marriage, to have behavioral problems and to not graduate from high school, participants will address the issues that undermine African American families, particularly low-income households, from entering into and maintaining healthy families and strong marriages.

This is fantastic. Anything that helps us knit families together more closely and root them in the Christian faith seems to me to be a good thing -- a necessary corrective to the growth of 'secular' culture and 'secular' parenting, which seems more often to be dysfunctional than not these days. Not that Christian families are immune from harm, but I think loving and obeying Christ has got to be the place to start to put our own families, and our culture, back together. Pray that this conference may be successful.

South Carolina announces nominations for Bishop

South Carolina Standing Committee announces three nominees for bishop

Friday, July 28, 2006 [Episcopal News Service]

The Standing Committee of the Diocese of South Carolina announced July 27 that three men are nominees to succeed Bishop Edward L. Salmon Jr. The three nominees are:

the Rev. Canon Ellis English Brust, 48, chief operating officer and chaplain to the president of the American Anglican Council, headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia;

the Very Rev. Mark J. Lawrence, 56, rector, St. Paul's Episcopal Parish, Bakersfield, California; and

the Rev. Stephen D. Wood, 42, rector, St. Andrew's Church, Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina.

The electing convention will meet at St. Philip's Church in Charleston, South Carolina, on September 16.

Under the canons the Episcopal Church (III.16.4(a)), a majority of the bishops exercising jurisdiction and diocesan Standing Committees must consent to the man's ordination as bishop within 120 days of receiving notice of the election.

The consecration is planned for February 24, 2007.

Salmon, 72, was elected in the fall of 1989 and consecrated on February 24, 1990, as the thirteenth bishop of South Carolina.

The names were announced a few days ahead of the August 1 deadline listed on the search committee's website. The website also said that the nominees would be chosen during June and July, and the slate "sealed until after General Convention 2006."

I don't know the other two candidates, but Brust did a fine job at General Convention leading the AAC daily briefings. Not that's a qualification for bishop or anything. I liked him, though, and I think he'd be both soundly orthodox and properly pastoral.

The Bible Belt is vertical - perhaps a necktie?

Thanks for this map to the Glenmary Research Center.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

two things: an article about father david roseberry and the ecusa mess, and some remarks about sexuality and schism

The Episcopal Church, one of the most historically significant churches in America, is on the verge of implosion. It has endured schism before but nothing like what it faces today. Its "civil war over homosexuality," as The New York Times put it, threatens not only to divide its 2.3 million members but also to separate it from the 77 million-strong global Anglican Communion.

Once viewed as the Republican Party at prayer, over the past 30 to 40 years the Episcopal Church has morphed into something else altogether, losing much of its membership along the way. The turning point was 1976, when the church began ordaining women to the priesthood, and in the three years since Robinson's election, it has lost the numerical equivalent of a congregation a day. With Sunday attendance hovering around 800,000, the church has come to represent less than 3 percent of Anglicans worldwide and a little more than 1 percent of American Christians, making it, as the writer Allen Guelzo recently put it, "statistically negligible on the horizons of both American Christianity and the Anglican Communion."

A long but interesting article from the Dallas Observer. Read it all here. First saw it at T19. Two things that consistently frustrate me in the media:

(1) They keep saying that the conflict is because of an "openly" gay bishop. Who cares that we have an "openly" gay bishop? The issue isn't his public disclosure of his sexual orientation. Nor is the issue his sexual orientation itself. The issue is his sexual activity. He has broken his marriage vows, and is in a sexual relationship with someone other than his wife, lifelong fidelity to whom he solemnly swore in the presence of God.

The orthodox (and especially you priests out there) need to be consciencious about this rhetoric. Our problem is not with people who are "openly gay"!!!!! Our problem is with sexual activity outside the context of marriage, and we uphold the historical teaching of Scripture and the undivided Church that marriage can only be between one man and one woman, for life. It is quite possible to be "openly gay" and faithful to this teaching. And if you can manage it, God bless you.

(2) The media keep talking as though it is the orthodox within ECUSA who are schismatic. This is not so. I don't think its possible to be orthodox and schismatic, since to be orthodox means to be united in the same mind and the same judgment as that of the whole Body of Christ, because Christ is the head of the whole Body, and not merely of a single one of its members. To separate from ECUSA, and thereby to divide ECUSA, is not necessarily schism. It is not scism, namely, when ECUSA has separated itself from the judgment of the whole Body, as ECUSA has indeed done on many counts. 1 Corinthians 1.10 says "I appeal to you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree and that there be no dissensions [schismata] among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment."

St. Paul goes on to say that there is only one baptism, that we are not baptized into some faction, nor into some part of the Body, but rather we are baptized into the one Body, into the one Church. In our situation, the relavent fact is that we were not baptized into the Episcopal Church in the USA. We were baptized into the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church, which is the One Body of Christ. We are called to preserve the unity of THAT Body, and therefore our loyalty must be to that Body, and our submission must be to that Body's judgment. For it is THAT Body, His One and Only Body, against which our Lord has promissed the gates of hell shall not prevail (Matt.16.8) and outside of which there is no health, no salvation (Acts 4.12). He made no such promise about ECUSA.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

A Rose by Any Other Name?

Hat tip to Fr. Jake and ASM in PGH who, in a thread about Bp. Howe of Central Florida, posted a link to Louie Crew's Anglican Pages; where following the Documents link leads you to a vast collection of materials related to Anglicanism, the Episcopal Church, and of course Crew's project. Among these is a list of 26 sources detailing an attempt by several bishops, spearheaded by Bp. Wantland of Eau Claire, to exploit a loophole in Episcopal legal history. It was probably the last big controversy in PB Browning's career and the first to involve PB Griswold. You should read all these sources to get a decent grasp of the controversy (and maybe not even then), but below is an excerpt that puts it well (keep in mind this is 1996):

"In 1789, a church was formed as an unincorporated body to unite former congregations of the Church of England after the American Revolution. That church was known as �The Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America'. Over 30 years later, there was incorporated from within the church an entity known as the �Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society of The Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America' (�DFMS') for the specific purpose of fostering evangelism. The church itself remained unincorporated. In more recent times, DFMS has assumed a broader role and moved the church away from its original name so that it is now generally know to the public as �The Episcopal Church'.

"For a number of years, there has been a concern among many bishops, clergy and laity that nationally, under the leadership of DFMS, the church has been moving away from its original foundations of Faith. Previously held doctrines of virtually universal acceptance have been changed or rejected outright. This has exacerbated a decline in membership and caused censure by other Provinces in the worldwide Anglican Communion.

"There are now many thoughtful people on both sides of the theological divide who believe that a split in the denomination is likely. There are strong indications that the theological positions supported by DFMS will cause Provinces in the Anglican Communion to declare The Episcopal Church in the United States to be out of communion with the rest of the church.

"Given the foregoing circumstances, leaders within the church felt that it was once again time for a group within the body of the church to rise up and incorporate itself for a specific purpose (as DFMS had done years before). That corporation has reclaimed the historic name of the church, and adopted as its purpose the preservation of the historic faith and order of the church."

So apparently the relationship between the broad 'association' of churches that constitutes the Episcopal Church and the specialized executive office that is DFMS is not one of identity; that is, DFMS never has been the same entity as TEC (or ECUSA, or the original PECUSA). The game then becomes to somehow disassociate TEC from DFMS and create another corporation of similar conceptual dimensions to DFMS, one that could revitalize the church and possibly come to exercise the same influence over TEC that DFMS does now. It's speculation whether these leaders intended to do what the Network has talked about: supplant TEC as the ecclesiologically and legally legitimate heir to Anglicanism in the U.S. Or whether they intended to remain as the AAC is: a useful association of parishes/individuals/dioceses within TEC. Bp. Wantland said he never intended to lay any claim to the programs and funds of 815, but only wanted his group to be "a place to stand" for faithful Episcopalians. Of course, A Place to Stand is the title of the AAC's confession. I have no idea whether there was ever any formal connection between the two organizations, and I can't find on the internet any mention of PECUSA, Inc.'s fate after it lost a court battle in New Jersey and agreed to use a name that is different enough from that of TEC not to cause confusion (1999).

All in all, this is an interesting attempt to galvanize orthodox Episcopalians, but it seems like it didn't work. I don't know why. It would be interesting to chronicle all the similar attempts to do this, from the Reformed Episcopal Church to today. I don't think any previous orthodox attempt has received the kind of support both at home and among Anglicans abroad that the AAC and the Network have received.

And I must admit to being impressed at all the stuff Louie Crew has made available on his site. As much as I disagree with his theology, you've got to admire all this research.

the seventh seal

The other night I watched The Seventh Seal. I don't know. In terms of enjoyment, I give it three of five stars I guess. Ingmar Bergman is just so fantastically depressing. Why does he have to be that way? I guess because he didn't know the Prince of Peace. That, too, is depressing.

Its technically excellent, has moments of real beauty and thoughtfulness, and is better than 95% of movies. Overall, I'd say its one of those movies you should watch before you die. But don't be in too much of a hurry.

Monday, July 24, 2006

sharia law: justice, iran style

You've got to wonder about a culture that presecribes death for rubbing another man's buttocks four times.

Read the whole thing here. Very sad; very wrong.

IT WAS exactly 6am and the start of another blisteringly hot summer day when 16-year-old Atefeh Rajabi was dragged from her prison cell and taken to be executed.

Every step of the way the troubled teenager plagued by mental problems shouted "repentance, repentance" as the militiamen marched her to the town's Railway Square.

The Iranian judge who had sentenced Atefeh to death was left unmoved as he personally put the noose around her neck and signalled to the crane driver.

Kicking and screaming, Atefeh was left dangling for 45 minutes from the arm of the crane as the crowd sobbed and - under their breath - damned the mullahs.

Atefeh's crime? Offending public morality. She was found guilty of "acts incompatible with chastity" by having sex with an unmarried man, even though friends say Atefeh was in such a fragile mental state that she wasn't in a position to say no.

. . . .

It was when Atefeh appeared before Judge Rezaii for a fourth time that she lost her temper - and also her life. In a rage she tore off her hi jab - a headscarf - and told the judge she had been raped and it was his duty to punish her tormentors, not their victim.

Rezaii told her she would hang for her "sharp tongue" and that he would put the noose around her neck himself. It became a personal crusade as he travelled to Tehran and convinced the Supreme Court to uphold his verdict.

Two petitions by her friends, saying she was mentally unwell, were ignored. Her father produced her birth certificate proving she was 16. Yet the judges "decreed" she was 22.

What GC resolutions DO mean

This highly political ENS report reads like one in any newspaper, with the exception of the following deeply embedded paragraph explaining, I suppose, why this news story deserves to appear on TEC's homepage at all.

After the Episcopal Church's Ethics and New Genetics Task Force considered the moral implications of stem cell research, the 74th General Convention in 2003 passed Resolution 2003-A014, urging federal funding for embryonic stem cell research. Acknowledging that "Episcopalians generally recognize that early embryos are owed special moral consideration," the task force determined that "[e]arly embryos remaining after IVF procedures have ended could morally be donated for embryonic stem cell research." In short, the church recognized that the embryos are not destined to become human life.

Does anyone know why the task force made this determination? It sounds like they acknowledge that most Episcopalians are against this sort of thing, and then go right ahead and recommend the opposite; and I wonder, upon what grounds? Did the task force push an agenda on GC03 that was (admittedly) out of favor with TEC as a whole? If so, whose agenda was it? Another prophetic action, perhaps.

I must admit to not being current on the stem-cell research debates. It sounds from the resolution that was passed in 03 as if they're convinced that life does not begin at fertilization, so the leftover fertilized embryos remaining after IVF procedures aren't living and can be used for any purpose the parent wants, so long as they aren't needed for further IVF, and so long as the parents' rights of ownership aren't violated. Yet they have a problem with embryos deliberately created for research, and a problem with embryos obtained by purchase. What's the basis for these problems? Were they bones thrown to those who oppose this kind of research altogether? If the embryo isn't alive, why worry about whether it was 'commercially produced' or bought and sold?

confusing. There's a link here to Roe v. Wade, I'm sure -- an embryo is seen as part of a woman's body, over which she exercises sovereign ownership (stewardship?) as part of the right to privacy. Given that, what's wrong with fertilizing embryos for research -- wouldn't it be akin to donating an organ? Would that make purchasing the embryos a kind of exploitation akin to prostitution?

again, confusing.

Jefferts Schori on CBS News

Read it all. Hat tip to RealReligiousLeft.

Here's an excerpt:

Since Jefferts Schori's election, a number of dioceses have come out and have been critical. A leader in Springfield, Ill., said: "I think the Episcopalian Church is in meltdown. The lowest ebb of our beloved and beleaguered church since perhaps the Civil War if not the American Revolution." "It's predictable," Jefferts Schori said. "People who have been unhappy at the course of the church's direction over the last couple of decades, this is another piece that may offend some. It tells them change is happening whether they are interested in that change or not."

She seems honestly to think that a hardcore liberation theologian and social activist is exactly what the church needs right now, charging into the task of helping the helpless. As laudable as the action itself is, I can't agree that that kind of theology is going to solve anything. Is anyone else a little perturbed by this hard-charging attitude? Is the new policy from 815 going to be: it may offend some, but change is happening whether they are interested in that change or not?

+san joaquin charged with abandonment of communion

This is disgusting. +Los Angeles, +Northern California, +San Diego, and +California are trying to depose the bishop of San Joaquin. Why? Because he is a conservative. And, I would venture to suggest, because he upholds the Chuch's doctrine of Apostolic Order.

Read the whole thing here. And here.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Has the Dennis Canon EVER held up in a court of law?

One wonders. It has been swept aside in cases of departing parishes in California, looks from this like it may not hold up in New York. Does anyone know of a case where the Dennis canon was actually used effectively as anything more than a mere threat?

Clarification of Article 28

An excerpt from A Theological Introduction to the Thirty-Nine Articles of the Church of England by E. J. Bicknell, 3rd. ed. revised by H. J. Carpenter. pp. 400-403. First published 1919, this edition 1955. This article represents the views of the author and not necessarily those of Whitehall or any of its contributors. :)

The Sacrament of the Lord's Supper was not by Christ's ordinance reserved, carried about, lifted up or worshipped. This last section of the Article is carefully worded. It is based on a sound and intelligible principle. The Holy Communion was given to us by Christ for a definite purpose. We can only be secure of its blessings so long as we respect the limits of that purpose. [Bicknell goes on to explain how Christ's presence in the Eucharist is a spiritual, and therefore uncontrollable, presence, and that we can't predict with certainty where or when He will be present in the Eucharistic elements except in the context of their use in the Lord's Supper.] We cannot be certain that that Presence abides when we use the consecrated bread and wine for a new and entirely different purpose, a purpose not ordained by Christ, but prompted by the fallible logic of human devotion. . . . We cannot, as it were, bind Him to earth by our treatment of the elements. Such thoughts lie behind the very cautious statements of the Article. The practices mentioned are not condemned as sinful. No anathema is leveled at those who retain them. All that is asserted is that they are precarious, as going outside the ordinance of Christ. . . .

Reservation purely for the communion of the sick or absent is thoroughly primitive and natural. It is in full accord with the spirit of Scripture and the revealed purpose of Christ and was the custom of the primitive church. . . . [There follows a long list of patristic sources that mention reservation for this reason.] In the second Prayer-Book this permission [to reserve for the sick or absent, so long as they communicated on the same day as the congregation] was withdrawn: there was a very real danger of conveying the sacrament away and using it for superstitious purposes. In 1662 the present rubric was added enjoining the consumption in church of all the consecrated elements at the close of the service. The primary object of this was to forbid not reservation but the irreverent carrying of the elements out of church for ordinary consumption, which the Puritans were quite capable of doing. But indirectly the rubric forbids all reservation . . . This is a real loss. . . .

The Article is aimed at reservation when practiced not only for purposes of communion, but in order to provide a localized object of worship. This is a comparatively modern and entirely distinct practice. It is a use of the sacrament that diverges widely from the declared intention of Christ. It arose in the dark ages and received a great impulse through the assertion of Transubstantiation. . . .

Carrying about the Host in procession is only an extension of the same practice. . . .

The lifting or elevation of the Host after consecration in order to be adored by the people . . . Is on a level with the previous practices. This elevation must not be confused with the manual acts during the prayer of consecration, when the priest solemnly reproduces the action of Christ at the Last Supper and takes up the bread and the cup. . . .

If Christ is present in the Eucharist, most certainly He is then as always to be adored. But this, as we have seen, is quite different from adoration of the Blessed Sacrament divorced from Eucharistic worship. We have no ground for believing that He gave us the Eucharist in order to dwell among us to-day by an abiding external presence as during His earthly life or to afford a visible object of adoration. Nor, again, are we justified in that absolute identification of our Lord with the outward sign that is implied in modern Roman devotions.

Finally, let us gladly admit that in these practices as allowed by the Church of Rome to-day we do find the expression of very deep and real devotion to our Lord. But we maintain that that devotion is purchased at a great cost.

Friday, July 21, 2006

new church, new bishop

The following is from Father John Heidt. I had the privilege of having lunch with him, and with Father Nelson today. Read the whole thing here.

In a stunningly predictable move, the General Convention of the Episcopal Church elected the first ever female Presiding Bishop and the only woman Primate in the Anglican Communion. Pundits are saying that the election was somehow engineered, but perhaps this is cynical. Bishop Schori comes with excellent credentials to head up the ECUSA at this pivotal moment in its history; it should be clear to all that she has a wealth of experience relevant to governing the steadily shrinking Episcopal Church.

As Bishop of Nevada, Schori not only knows what its like to minister in a desert wasteland, she also understands numbers, having a weighty thirty five parishes and six thousand people under her pastoral charge. And in a Church which has committed itself to a whole new way of Christianity, why not elect someone with a little over ten years experience of ordained ministry? After all, freshness to the business might be beneficial in the new world of ECUSAn Christianity. Likewise with Divinity, a Presiding Bishop hidebound to the dogmas and beliefs of the past would be a disadvantage to headship in the new Episcopalian polity. This isn’t a concern with the new “PB,” she has plenty of academic experience, but not in theology. Her expertise is in marine biology and oceanography, making her a fitting successor to Griswold and his “sea of faith.”

Still, despite Schori’s obvious symbolic qualifications for the job, its only fair to ask what her election means for those few “Old Church” holdouts that are left in ECUSA, to say nothing of the awkwardly large number of Anglicans worldwide who refuse to accept her orders as a Priest, much less Bishop and Primate of a Province. So, what does it mean? It seems that a consensus is emerging among the traditionalists at the Convention. They feel that Schori’s election brings further clarity, if it were needed, to the position that the Episcopal Church now occupies. For them, a schismatic ECUSA has elected a truly representative leader and this is no bad thing, as it forces Anglicans to make a choice, to be for or against the “new religion,” as embodied in the person of the world’s first woman Primate.

Are traditionalists right in thinking this, does the first ever woman Primate really personify a radical departure from the Faith and Order of the Church? It seems that she does for at least two reasons. Firstly, as her orders are not universally accepted, either at home or abroad, she has no choice but to exist as a center of division in an office whose nature is essentially one of unity. In her person, Schori stands for a new understanding of the episcopate, one that is based on “justice” and “inclusion” rather than the common position of the Church. That ECUSA should enshrine this in the office of its chief Bishop signifies, at the very least, ignorance of the commonly held catholic conception of Holy Order and quite possibly a deliberate movement away from it. Either way, Schori’s election indicates the Episcopal Church’s de facto rejection of apostolic norms. Secondly, Schori’s wholehearted support of the gay and lesbian platform signals clear disregard for Scriptural morals and the Tradition of the Church. So, it appears that the traditionalists are right; that Schori’s election is emblematic of the New Church that ECUSA has voted into being, an ecclesial body that has swapped out Scripture, Tradition and revelation for the threefold mantra of “justice, inclusion and peace.”

The tragedy of it all is that ECUSA, or rather “TEC” (The Episcopal Church), has achieved the exact opposite of its laudable goals of establishing justice, inclusion and peace. There is no justice under Schori, no “fair play,” for orthodox, or even conservative Anglicans in her jurisdiction. This minority does not have a Chief Pastor, a principle locus of episcopal authority, of sacramental and pastoral oversight. Their consciences and the integrity of their convictions have been written off, along with the majority conviction of Anglicans worldwide. If this is TEC’s version of even handed justice, one hates to imagine how things would pan out if they had opted for a more oppressive approach.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

'theology' : because of my vanity...

... I have been re-reading parts of my thesis. Check out this sentence about the human soul:

And thereby she is led out of herself, beyond the limit of language, through death, out of the world, into the luminous darkness of an eternally deepening communion with the undifferentiated silence of God’s self-disclosure.

True. But that's a lot of prepositional phrases.

Common Cause Statement

Along the lines of some of our recent Whitehall discussions:
Proposed Theological Statement of the Common Cause Partners
We, the representatives of the Common Cause Partners, do declare we believe the following affirmations and commentary to contain the chief elements of Anglican Reformed Catholicism, and to be essential for membership.
1) We receive the Canonical Books of the Old and New Testaments of the Holy Scripture as the inspired Word of God containing all things necessary for salvation, and as the final authority and unchangeable standard for Christian faith and life.
2) We confess the historic faith of the Undivided Church as declared in the Catholic Creeds.
3) We believe the teaching of the Seven Ecumenical Councils in so far as they are agreeable to the Holy Scriptures, and have been held by all, everywhere, at all times.
4) We hold the two sacraments of the Gospel to be ordained by Christ Himself, Baptism and the Supper of the Lord, and to be administered with unfailing use of Christ’s words of Institution and of the elements ordained by Him.
5) We accept the 1549 through the 1662 Book of Common Prayer and its ordinal as the foundation for Anglican worship and the standard for doctrine and discipline.
6) We believe the godly Historic Episcopate to be necessary for the full being of the Church.
7) We affirm the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion as foundational for authentic Anglican belief and practice and as correctives to doctrinal abuses.

Proposed Covenant Declaration of the Common Cause Partners
We intend by God’s grace:
• to partner together in a renewed missionary effort in North America and beyond, driven by our passion for Jesus and His Gospel.
• to ensure an orthodox Anglican Province in North America that remains connected to a faithful global Communion.
• to create a unity in the essentials of our Anglican faith that respects our varied styles and expressions.
• to build trusting relationships marked by effective coordination, collaboration, and communication.
In general, I'm a big fan of this Common Cause partnership. The only thing that makes me wonder is the bit about the prayer books -- changes in prayer books between 1549 to 1662 were so radical, it sounds strange to affirm all of them at once. Seeing as there's not a consistent theology among all those revisions, I'm not sure they are capable of acting as a 'standard for doctrine and discpline'; hence this sentence is historical in nature, or a matter of liturgical policy; it doesn't really belong in a purely theological statement.
I also wonder just a bit why they have to qualify the affirmation of the Ecumenical councils. Is this confirmation of the fear, recently voiced on Whitehall, that Evangelicals among the Network or their Common Cause Partners are simply not Catholic enough? Makes the entire statement seem very Protestant to me -- in keeping, though, with authentic Anglican tradition ala the 1662 BCP.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

from TLC: No Longer Catholic

Thanks to Fr. Jake for this link. The article is by Gary Kriss, who is a member of my own diocese. I don't know him personally.

Although by and large I like this article, there are a couple of needs for correction. First, the Elizabethan settlement never 'comprehended' anything. This is a common misconception about the settlement (so I don't blame Fr. Kriss for it), that it initiated the Anglican identity in 'comprehension for the sake of truth.' This is revisionist history; that is, reading something into history that wasn't there the first time 'round. The Elizabethan settlement was not, in fact, theological in nature -- it was merely an oath of conformity to CofE doctrine and practice and an oath of alligience to the English crown. It was a very partizan thing, in those days. People who would not take the oath were looked on as suspect citizens, though it was not in itself grounds for arrest, as I understand it. If there is any thing vaguely resembling 'comprehension' there, it would be found in the fledgling recognition that although the sovereign was willing to command men's bodies in a minimum standard of behavior, their souls and theological minds could remain their own; that is, so long as they didn't communicate their heresies to anyone. The metaphor we should use to properly understand the Elizabethan settlement is not an exoskeleton, that defines the boundaries of what is 'comprehended'; but rather an endoskeleton, that defines the shape of the core and from which growth may go outward. This is, I think, the essence also of Catholicism. It is a minimum standard -- the Apostolic doctrine and the Apostolic leadership -- which, if held to tightly, allows for a great deal of growth and exploration and expression outward. If Kriss is right and TEC has abandoned its hold to the endoskeleton of a commitment to Catholicism, both in doctrine and leadership, then we can expect the shape of TEC to be something along these lines.

Second, a correction, an opinion, about the Network -- I'm not so sure Kriss's read of the Network's motivation is accurate. They are not merely Evangelical, such that what matters first and foremost is biblical doctrine and not the historic episcopate. He should know from being in the diocese of Albany -- our bishops are network bishops, and they are strongly catholic on this issue. I believe there is much more catholicism in the Network than Kriss fears. That's been my experience, anyway. Make what you will of it.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

liveblogging whimsy....

A very up-to-the-minute series of thoughts:

I am watching Black Narcissus. Compelling so far. MM is in Rwanda. Tomorrow is my day off. Here is a picture of me from Saturday, preparing to hear confessions:

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Ten calls from GC06 for direct political advocacy

Below are excerpts from ten resolutions passed at GC06 committing TEC to direct political advocacy. These are culled only from those resolutions that were actually passed -- a number of more directly political resolutions did not get a chance to be voted upon. To be clear, I am not here taking a stand on any one of these political issues, one way or t'other. Some of them I favor, others I don't. What concerns me, though, and drives me to post these, is that I've heard Episcopalians often speak in the harshest terms of the alliance between church and state on the political/theological right (e.g. the Christian Coalition) and whine about how the US under Bush is one step from a becoming an evango-fundie theocracy; but they often fail to see how political their own Christianity is, and at its most fundamental levels. Again, to be clear, I don't necessrily oppose the marriage between church and state -- much good Gospel work has been done through that kind of alliance, in the grand scheme of Christian history. The church certainly has a responsibility to speak up about political issues that concern it from time to time (e.g. MLK, jr. on civil rights, Roman Catholicism on abortion). But let's have no imbalance in the criticism. All sides are political, and all sides have a right, perhaps a responsibility, to be so. The bold print below is mine own and highlights the specific clauses that call for political action, and usually on a specific side of an issue. For more on General Convention Resolutions, click here.

. . . Resolved, That in receiving and affirming the communiqué, the Episcopal Church call upon governments to pursue the achievement of the MDGs through:

1. significantly increased official development assistance to poor countries;
2. debt cancellation premised upon a country’s need for resources to meet the MDGs;
3. fair and open trade policies that allow developing countries to compete in international markets with rich countries;
4. policies designed to alleviate structural barriers and social injustices that exacerbate the effects of poverty in the developing world; and
5. policies that promote full accountability and transparency among developing countries for the use of resources derived through foreign aid while still allowing strategies for accountability and transparency to be dictated by developing countries themselves; and be it further . . .

Resolved, That the 75th General Convention encourage the dioceses of the Episcopal Church to urge their congregations and institutions to pray for our sisters and brothers in the Diocese of Jerusalem and the Middle East; to visit the Christian congregations in the Holy Land; to receive visitors from the Holy Land; to work for justice, peace, and reconciliation in the Holy Land with renewed commitment; and to urge elected officials and policy makers to seek solutions that will realize these goals for all.

And be it further
Resolved, That the 75th General Convention of the Episcopal Church deplore any action by the Government of the United States which unduly emphasizes enforcement, including militarization of the border between the United States and Mexico, as the primary response to immigrants entering the United States to work, and be it further . . .
Resolved, That this campaign call the church to commit to welcoming strangers as a matter of Christian responsibility, to advocate for their wellbeing and protection and to urge its members to resist legislation and actions which violate our fundamental beliefs as Christians, including the criminalization of persons providing humanitarian assistance to migrants.

Resolved, That the 75th General Convention reaffirm the Episcopal Church’s historical support of gay and lesbian persons as children of God and entitled to full civil rights; and be it further
Resolved, That the 75th General Convention reaffirm the 71st General Convention’s action calling upon “municipal council, state legislatures and the United States Congress to approve measures giving gay and lesbian couples protection[s] such as: bereavement and family leave policies; health benefits; pension benefits; real-estate transfer tax benefits; and commitments to mutual support enjoyed by non-gay married couples”; and be it further
Resolved, That the 75th General Convention oppose any state or federal constitutional amendment that prohibits same-sex civil marriage or civil unions.

Resolved, That Episcopalians strongly encourage state legislatures and state and local boards of education to establish standards for science education based on the best available scientific knowledge as accepted by a consensus of the scientific community. . . .

Resolved, That the Episcopal Church urge all worshiping communities, missions, parishes, dioceses, provinces, seminaries and educational institutions, boards and commissions to:
Educate their constituent members about HIV/AIDS with a goal of eliminating any stigma associated with the disease.
Educate their local, state and federal elected officials and representatives about HIV/AIDS with the goal of creating knowledgeable, compassionate, and sensitive public policy in educational services, support services, and medical treatment institutions.

Resolved, That the 75th General Convention affirm that Global Warming threatens the future of God’s good creation, and the effects of Global Warming disproportionately hurt the lives of the poorest and most vulnerable in the United States and around the world; and be it further
Resolved, That Episcopalians and The Episcopal Church at every level support efforts that seek to reduce Global Warming, including national and international legislation that increase the supply of clean energy and reduce consumption of fossil fuels; and be it further . . .

Resolved, That the 75th General Convention, affirming our commitments to become a transformed, anti-racist church and to work toward healing, reconciliation and a restoration of wholeness to the family of God, urge the Church at every level to call upon Congress and the American people to support legislation initiating study of and dialogue about the history and legacy of slavery in the United States and of proposals for monetary and non-monetary reparations to the descendants of the victims of slavery.

Resolved, That the 75th General Convention adopt the following statement:
The 75th General Convention of The Episcopal Church declares that efforts to criminalize homosexual behavior are incompatible with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, incompatible with resolutions at successive Lambeth conferences including the 1998 Lambeth Resolution I.10, and incompatible with the Primates’ statement from Dromantine . . .
And be it further Resolved, That the Secretary of the 75th General Convention convey this resolution to the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, all Primates in the Anglican Communion, the President of the United States, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Secretary General of the United Nations, Anglican Observer of the United Nations, heads of state of all nations represented by Bishops and Deputies, all U.S. Senators and Representatives and the Governors of all states or territories within the pastoral jurisdiction of The Episcopal Church.

. . . Resolved, That the General Convention establish the work toward the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals as a mission priority for the coming triennium . . .
. . . Resolved, That the General Convention endorse “The ONE Campaign,” the U.S. movement for the MDGs, through The Episcopal Church’s “ONE Episcopalian” campaign; call on all parishes, missions, congregations, and dioceses, and individuals to join the ONE Episcopalian campaign; and publicly endorse The ONE Campaign’s call for the United States government to annually spend an additional one percent of its budget to combat global poverty, and to be active advocates for the achievement of this work.

TEC Budget Priorities

* FINAL VERSION - Concurred
Resolution D031
Title: Budget Priorities
Topic: Mission Strategy
Committee: Program, Budget and Finance
House of Initial Action: Deputies
Proposer: Ms. Pan Adams (Arkansas)

Resolved, That the 75th General Convention endorse the following statement of mission priorities in rank order for the for the 2007–09 triennium and direct the Joint Standing Committee on Program, Budget & Finance to use these priorities in forming the Budget for the Episcopal Church.
We offer these mission priorities as an expression of our commitment to Jesus Christ.
We are committed to the importance of our ministry of reconciliation and communion at every level of our communion.
We embrace diversity and seek to promote inclusion and power sharing which underlie and inform all priorities, decisions, and all that we do. In faithfulness to these commitments, we continue to honor our covenants and partnerships with domestic and overseas dioceses. We recognize that the work of mission depends in large part on increasing the leadership capacity of clergy and lay leaders of the church. We affirm the spirit of the budget adopted by the 74th General Convention and identify for the mission of the Church during 2007–2009 the following priorities, listed in rank order of importance:

1. JUSTICE AND PEACE: Promoting justice and peace for all of God’s creation and continuing and accelerating the leadership role and programs of the Episcopal Church, which support the eight (8) Millennium Development Goals* in the dioceses of the Episcopal Church and in the world.

2. YOUNG ADULTS, YOUTH AND CHILDREN: Reaching out to young adults, youth and children through intentional inclusion and full incorporation in the thinking, work, worship and structure of the Church.

3. RECONCILIATION AND EVANGELISM: Reconciling and engaging those who do not know Christ by participating in God’s mission of reconciling all things to Christ and proclaiming the Gospel to those who are not yet members of the church.

4. CONGREGATIONAL TRANSFORMATION: Revitalizing and transforming congregations through commitment to leadership development, spiritual growth, lifelong learning, dynamic and inclusive worship, greater diversity, and mission.

5. PARTNERSHIPS: Reaffirming the importance of our partnerships with provinces of the Anglican Communion and beyond and our relationships with ecumenical and interfaith partners.

* The Millennium Development Goals

Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger

Achieve universal primary education

Promote gender equality and empower women

Reduce child Mortality

Improve maternal health

Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases

Ensure environmental sustainability

Develop a global partnership for development

The Mother Jesus Sermon

Presiding Bishop-ELECT.
June 21, 2006

Last Sunday morning, I woke very early but it was still dark. I must have been thinking about something. I wanted to go for a run, but had to wait for enough light to see. Ran by back of Hyatt. The men working by the dumpster were startled.

I saw a man from convention center and we said a quiet good morning. Then I found a quiet green park in the middle of this city. There was a man standing there, in an orange reflective vest standing by orange cones. I said good morning; he responded in kind. Then there was the bleary-eyed fellow with several bags. Said good morning to him, too but when past him on street, not the sidewalk.

A rabbit was hopping along the sidewalk. It looked at me and we shared a moment of greeting. A woman delivering Sunday papers, getting out of the car and delivering the paper to doorsteps. She didn’t get out of the car until I was well past her.

On the other side of the freeway, I found two guys, just going to work. They, too, looked weary.

There was some degree of weariness in all of them. Trying to greet each other, but the sense of relationship, whether out of fear, or caution, meant that we had a long way to go.

Can we dream of a world where all creatures, human and not, can greet each other without fear? Christ said his kingdom was “not of this world.” His willingness to go to the cross is so radical that fear has no import. The love that he invites us to imitate has no possibility of reactive or violent response. His followers didn’t fight back.

He calls us friends not agents of fear.

If we are going to grow to full statute of Christ, our growing will need to be rooted in a soil of internal peace, confidant and planted in the overwhelming love of God. Given so abundant, so profligate, that we are caught in similar abandonment. The full measure of God, cast down and overflowing, drives out our , self-interest. That is what fear is. A reaction; an unconscious response. As if we are saying, “that’s mine and I can’t go on living without it.”

Whether its my bank account or my sense of control. Unless we can make sense of the blood of the cross, we will live in fear. That bloody cross brings new life into the world. That sweaty, bloody, tear-stained cross bears life. Our mother Jesus gives new birth to a new creation and we are his children.

We have to give up fear. What did the godly messengers say when they turned up to the shepherds: fear not. You are God’s beloved and he is well pleased with you. When we know ourselves beloved of God, we can respond in less fearful ways. When we realize this, we can response to the homeless man; seek and reach beyond the defenses of others.

Our job as we go out from this convention is to go out without fear and lay down our sword and shield; fill the hungry and set the prisoners free. Lay down our self-control and serve God’s image of the beloved in the weakest, poorest and least included. Not to squabble over our heritage.

But to share that name of the beloved with the whole world. AMEN

I did not hear this sermon when it was delivered, and I came to it now hoping I missed out on some contextual point that might make the reference to 'mother Jesus' palatable. Seeing the context now, I must admit to confusion. That paragraph has some superficially strong cross language -- but the more I contemplate it, the more it looks like a deliberate connection of the cross with childbirth -- bloody, sweaty, tear-stained, etc. She's bypassing the redemptive virtue in Christ's blood and calling it creative instead?

So the next question to be asked, regardless of the orthodoxy of her reinterpretation, is, Why would +Jefferts Schori say this, particularly at this moment to this audience (Gen. Convention the day after her election)? Why would she only mention Jesus once, and that in the context of a radically feminist re-interpretation of the merit of the crucifixion? I can only surmise that she put it here because she's honest, and this is her own theology which she wanted to share with everyone, letting them know who she is and what she believes. +Jefferts Schori has shown herself to be not un-mindful of political dynamics in the church -- is she speaking here directly to the orthodox (who, incedentally, were mostly attending the alternative mass down the street), saying we should not fear her or the future -- if so, why throw in this obviously challenging re-imaging? Was she speaking to the progressives, telling them they need not fear -- what, winning? ostricization by the Communion? Maybe the collective wisdom of Whitehall's readers can unravel this mystery.

Episcopal Church and Abortion

This is the "Explanation" section of a Resolution to General Convention that would have rescinded TEC's membership in the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (sometime the Religious Coalition for Abortion Rights). The resolution was left pending in the House of Bishops.

Although the Executive Council failed to note it in their Blue Book Report, they voted to join the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice at their January meeting in Iowa. The above resolution brings this action to the General Convention because the January vote affects the entire church in establishing an affiliation with an organization whose statements are inconsistent with ECUSA's own, such as: "You are to claim your godlike, God-given role in creation by saying yes or no, secure in the knowledge that whatever you decide, after having honestly sought what is right, God will bless." (RCRC"s Considering Abortion? Clarifying What You Believe, p.7). ( The Episcopal Church doesn't bless all decisions regarding abortion as stated in Resolution A054 passed at the 71st General Convention "We emphatically oppose abortion as a means of birth control, family planning, sex selection, or any reason of mere convenience." and takes the opposite position by acknowledging decisions and actions can be out of the will of God, and recognizes the need for repentance and confession at the beginning of each liturgy.) This resolution seeks clarity from the larger Church on the issue of life.

So let me get this straight: in 1994 General Convention passed a resolution stating that we "emphatically oppose abortion, etc." But the Executive Council doesn't realize this when it votes in January to make us part of the Coalition? Then it 'fails' to report it in their Blue Book Report, as if it wasn't such a big deal and it just slipped their minds? "Oh, yes, we remember now, there was that one thing about abortion that we did, completely reversing a direction of the General Convention -- really, it was just an oversight, and we're sure no one really cares anyway." Probably the most concerning thing that this fiasco highlights is the corruption in TEC's polity: it seems like no authority is binding and those in power are able to press their agenda regardless of the previous statements of any governing body of the church. Resolutions at General Convention don't MEAN anything unless the people in power want them to. We treat Lambeth 1.10 the same way -- it's only the 'listening' clauses that should be binding, not all that bit about "rejecting homosexual practice as incompatible with Scripture". Same seems to go for Windsor -- the parts about not crossing episcopal boundaries should be binding, but the bits about moratoria are matters of 'autonomy.'

Here's a good article about the Executive Council's decision.

Friday, July 14, 2006

To pick up a conversation from Jake's Place

Here's a post I put on Father Jake Stops the World -- a blog of revisionist tendencies, whose commentators are generally intelligent and which Fr. Jake works hard to keep cordial. Orthodox posters, if careful about wording, are not generally abused. It's a great read if you want to get another side to all that's going on in the Communion. I thought Whitehall readers would enjoy taking a stab at this.

There is, though, something I don't quite understand about all this. There seem to be some among us in TEC who are committed first and foremost to TEC, and others who are committed first and foremost to the Anglican Communion. I know there are reasons of ecclesiology that drive many of the latter -- the idea is that our claims to Catholicity (and hence also to valid sacraments, ordinations, even salvation) depend upon our historic episcopal succession from, and continued communion with, the mother church, CofE. I see similar ecclesiologies active in Roman Catholicism and the Eastern churches. What I see from those who are committed first to TEC is a love for the church we've become in the last 40 years, the inclusive church, the church that lets everyone have their own opinion, the church that stands up for civil rights and human rights and all the oppressed -- in short, a liberation theology church. Does this mean that a preference for liberation theology is driving us to make poor ecclesiological decisions? Asked another way, what is the ecclesiological reason behind the commitment to TEC above the Anglican Communion? Is there a precept somewhere in Anglican theology that a church's identity as a national church (because that's what we began as) or as a province somehow trumps its identity as Anglican (given that it is this latter that gives uumph to our claims to Catholicity)?

for those who don't know....

Since his cracker jack inside-scoop reporting at General Convention, Father Thorpus has been making regular contributions to Whitehall.  Extend him a warm, Whitehall welcome!

presentment likely against bishop of san joaquin

The bishops of California, Los Angeles and San Diego are preparing
presentment charges which may be filed as early as next week against
the Rt. Rev. John-David Schofield, Bishop of San Joaquin, according to
three persons who attended a diocesan meeting July 8 at St. John’s
Church, Los Angeles.

For those who don't know, San Joaquin is one of the dioceses that has requested "alternative primatial oversight" since General Convvention.  It is also one of the three dioceses that maintains the apostolic teaching on Holy Order (i.e. that does not attempt to ordain women).  Read the whole thing here.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

The toxic effects of being the holiest person in a congregation

In my role [as Episcopal priest], I could act out of my best nature for hours at a time. I could produce kindness when all I feel is fatigue. I could present patience when circumstances warrant irritation. I could shine like the sun until long after dark when I need to, but my soul did not operate on a solar calendar.

My soul operated on a lunar calendar, coming up at a different time every night and never looking the same two nights in a row. Where my role called for a steady circle of bright light, my soul waxed and waned. There were days when I was as full as a harvest moon and others when not so much as a sliver appeared in the sky. My soul’s health depended on the regular cycle of these phases. I needed the dark nights that gave the stars their full brilliance as much as I needed the nights when the moon shone so brightly that I could make shadow puppets with my hands. The problem with the collar was that it did not allow for such variations. It advertised the steady circle of light, not the cycles, so that it sometimes scorched my neck.

. . . I had set out to wear a collar in the first place because I thought it would mark me as someone committed to going all the way with God. Will you seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbor as yourself? My initial answer had been yes, I would. I would give myself completely to that ministry. I wore my collar the way I wore my wedding ring, as a symbol of my vows. But, as I suspected when I first opened the box from Wippell’s, what the collar symbolized to other people was not under my control. In the same way that a prisoner’s stripes identified someone with a criminal record, a collar identified someone with divine aspirations, which does not always bode well for the person who wore it.

While I knew plenty of clergy willing to complain about the high expectations and long hours, few of us spoke openly about the toxic effects of being identified as the holiest person in a congregation. Whether this honor was conferred by those who recognized our gifts for ministry or was simply extended by them as a professional courtesy, it was equally hard on the honorees. Those of us who believed our own press developed larger-than-life swaggers and embarrassing patterns of speech, while those who did not suffered lower back pain and frequent bouts of sleeplessness. Either way, we were deformed.

[Excerpted from Barbara Brown Taylor’s book, Leaving Church: A Memoir of Faith; I found it on her personal website (, under the link to her newsletter.]

I recommend reading this entire excerpt, and perhaps the book itself, which chronicles the author’s decision to leave parish ministry for a university career. For clergy, it’s good to hear a colleague’s point of view on all this, and for lay people, it’s good to get a glimpse behind the rector’s mask. Barbara Brown Taylor is reputedly a very fine preacher, but don’t expect an exposition of orthodox Christian theology – she’s down on orthodoxy, as a rule.

What struck me about this excerpt is the interplay between the human failings of clergy and the expectation laid on them for holiness of life. I don’t think anyone ought to be ordained who does not WANT holiness of life, or who would find the acquisition and maintenance thereof a burden. Perhaps our parishioners would find our example more inspiring if we actually found it so, if we found authentic holiness of life to be an exhilaration, the only time when we felt truly alive. We should resist any idea that human failing = true humanity; the point of the incarnation is that human perfection = true humanity.

Now, I’m not accusing Barbara Brown Taylor of this error per se. What she calls the ‘solar’ and ‘lunar’ cycles are the public, holy mask clergy are expected to wear and the private, inconstant, sometimes messy inner self. She’s right to point out that a vocation to the pastoral project seems to demand hypocrisy, seems to require us to wear the holy mask even when our souls wane, and that it becomes detrimental possibly to our flocks and surely to our careers to show too much of the dark, ‘lunar’ ups and downs. In my seminary counseling classes they called this unnecessary or harmful self-disclosure. People don’t come to see us, they come to present themselves before God, and we have to appear holy, often holiEST, to facilitate that.

I’d like to suggest, though, that it doesn’t do any good to call the holiness ‘false’ and the human failings ‘true’. In my short tenure as a clergyman, I’ve found that I tend most toward the early symptoms of burn-out when I am least holy, personally; when my disciplines have slipped and I’ve lost touch with the vital God whose minister I try to be. That’s when I feel like a hypocrite. The ‘problem with the collar’ that does not allow us to be human is rather its virtue, its lure toward ‘just a closer walk with Thee’ – not that it will somehow make us holy when we aren’t, but rather that bearing its burden and swearing its oaths bind us to the inspiring vision of a more single-minded search. If anything, the collar should identify priests as searchers after holiness, who perhaps have been on the road a time and have developed a certain amount of maturity and success, and humility about that success, along the way.

ecusa and the king of the jews

Here is another problem with General Convention: they passed a resolution stating that Christian Scripture expresses and anti-Jewish prejudice. The problem, more precisely, is that ECUSA now claims that the Word of God contains a (bad) anti-Jewish prejudice. Given the fact that Christian Scripture was written by Jews, I guess ECUSA is now repudiating the Christian claims of our Lord being the fulfillment of the (Old Testament) Law and Prophets. I mean, it was the mainstream 1st century Jewish denial of our Lord's claims with regard to his relation to the Old Covenant, and with regard to the Church (his Body) as contiguous with Zion, which were the target of Christian (and Jewish Christian) critique in Scripture. So ECUSA must now be saying that the mainstream 1st century Jews were right, or at least somehow just as right, as the authors of Scripture with their "anti-Jewish prejudice."

This is a problem as I believe it amounts, at best, to corporate anxiety within ECUSA about whether our Lord really is the fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, David's heir, etc. At worst, it amounts to a corporate DENIAL of these things. And note that some kind of revision of "lectionary use" is one of the avenues suggested for dealing with this "prejudice" in the Bible. I imagine they have in mind a continuance of a shift, manifest in the RSV and NRSV translations, as well as in the Revised Common Lectionary (which will be mandated in ECUSA within a few years), of not reading the Old Testament typologically, and concomittantly not reading the New Testament as a fulfillment of the Old. It is just more impoverished, liberal protsteant (in the worst sense of those words) enthrallment exclusively to the Historical-Critical method of Biblical interpretation.

More here at T1:9. And here is the resolution (passed) from General Convention:

Resolved, That the 75th General Convention direct the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music to collect and develop materials to assist members of the Church to address anti-Jewish
prejudice expressed in and stirred by portions of Christian scriptures and liturgical texts, with suggestions for preaching, congregational education, and lectionary use, and to report to the 76th General Convention.

robert gagnon: "i am of the middle": the subgroup of the "middle" and its accomodation to sexual immorality -- a response to mark achtemeier

The disease of “middleitist” (pronounced middle-EYE-tist) has infected
many of the PCUSA’s leaders, an often vain desire to be in a
self-perceived sociological (not Christological) middle of a
denominational “elite.” This desire threatens to supplant faithfulness
to the radical call of discipleship that Jesus lovingly demanded of his
followers. Middleitis is ever in danger of lapsing into sin because it
can cloak a desire to have power and be esteemed by the powerful in the
pretended garb of unity while losing sight of the fact that Christ and
his will for our lives is the only valid middle. (What is the “middle”
in Paul’s dispute with the Corinthian church over the case of the
incestuous man in 1 Cor 5?)

Read the whole thing here.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

liberal christianity is paying for its sins

So this is the liberal Christianity that was supposed to be the
Christianity of the future: disarray, schism, rapidly falling numbers
of adherents, a collapse of Christology and national meetings that
rival those of the Modern Language Assn. for their potential for cheap
laughs. And they keep telling the Catholic Church that it had better
get with the liberal program — ordain women, bless gay unions and so
forth — or die. Sure.

Read the whole thing here (LA Times).  This one is highly recommended.

one of the nastiest things about (certain kinds of) islamic culture

I've posted stuff about "honor" killings before.  Its disgusting.  So, by the way, is suicide bombing.

'Virgin suicides' save Turks' 'honor'

Batman [Yes, Batman], Turkey -- For 17-year- old Derya, a waif-like woman, the order to kill herself
came from an uncle and was delivered in a text message to her
cellphone. "You have blackened our name," it read. "Kill yourself and
clean our shame or we will kill you first."

Derya said her crime was to fall for a boy she met at school. She knew
the risks: Her aunt had been killed by her grandfather for seeing a
boy. But after being cloistered and veiled for most of her life, she
said, she felt free for the first time and wanted to express her

When news of the love affair spread to her family, she said, her mother
warned her that her father would kill her. But she refused to listen.
Then came the threatening text messages, sent by her brothers and
uncles, sometimes 15 a day. Derya said they were the equivalent of a
death sentence.

Consumed by shame and fearful for her life, she said, she decided to
carry out her family's wishes. First, she said, she jumped into the
Tigris River, but she survived. Next she tried hanging herself, but an
uncle cut her down. Then she slashed her wrists with a kitchen knife.

"My family attacked my personality, and I felt I had committed the
biggest sin in the world," she said from a women's shelter where she
had traded in her veil for a T-shirt and jeans. She declined to give
her last name for fear her family was still hunting her. "I felt I had
no right to dishonor my family, that I have no right to be alive. So I
decided to respect my family's desire and to die."

Read the whole thing here (IHT).

honestly, this seems wiser

ACI is not counseling “doing nothing”. This is simply false. We are instead counseling a way of dealing with the failures and errors of the Episcopal Church (and, by implication, other churches in this Communion – and let us be honest in admitting that these failures, even in the Global South, are legion) in a manner that takes some of the above realities (as we see them) seriously. First, we need to gather as fully as possible those within the Episcopal Church – bishops, clergy, and congregations — who are committed to the life of Christian communion (and the reception of Christ’s word that it implies) as has been gradually articulated over the past few years through the councils of our common life. We believe that a minimum threshold at this time should include a commitment to Lambeth I.10 and Windsor’s conciliar ordering. We are using the term “constituent” bishops etc., based both on the Lambeth Conference’s, our Constitution’s, and Canterbury’s language. We believe that this group is far larger than the current membership of the Network – and those who are not members of the Network should not be impertinently dismissed as “fence-sitters” but rather should be brought together in their common commitments with other Communion-minded members of the devolving Epsicopal Church. Second, having been so gathered – and this will require more work than some seem willing to expend – they need to be formally recognized in some fashion by Canterbury and the Primates together (not simply by individuals here and there), and granted some kind of official representation (a “legate”? “vicar”?) in the councils of the Communion. Thirdly, as a body and in conjunction with the larger Communion, some provisional way of caring for clergy and congregations who are not under “constituent” oversight needs to be organized and coherently received. This need not take a long time if we are able to work together. Fourthly, we believe that the councils of unity for the Communion agree that the Constituent body in the US, and those elsewhere who similarly abide by the same threshold standards, be those only who participate in the necessarily extended “covenant process”, the rationale being that those who cannot keep promises from the past have squandered their right to determine in the future what a promise ought to be. In other words, we will not have to wait 10 years so that the ordering the Communion’s life in integrity will begin to take shape. ACI is well engaged with trying to further this vision.

From Dr. Ephraim Radner. Read the whole thing here.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Nigerian HOB responds to Archbishop of Canterbury's Reflections

First of all, a big Thank You goes to WB for the privilege of contributing to his blog.

The House of Bishops of the Church of Nigeria has responded to ++Rowan Williams' statement. Read the whole thing here:

Here's one paragraph: "His [++Williams'] analysis of the situation is quite lucid, and the liberal and post-modern tilt of some interpretations is apparent. But we must commend the fact that it appears we have finally come to that point of admitting that we are truly at crossroads as a Communion and the time to decide on the way forward can no longer be wished away. The mere fact that the Archbishop of Canterbury now proposes a two-tier membership for the Anglican Communion is his acceptance that the wound caused by the revisionists has become difficult, if not impossible, to heal. The idea of a Covenant that would ensure this two-tier membership of ‘Constituent Churches’ and ‘Churches in Association’ is brilliant as the heartbeat of a leader who wants to preserve the unity of the Church by accommodating every shred of opinion no matter how unbiblical, all because we want to make everyone feel at home."

You can taste the sarcasm. Or at the very least, the irony. Is the Catholic Church -- and Anglicanism as a part thereof -- supposed to be, fundamentally, a place for everyone to feel at home, no matter their beliefs? If so, then by all means, our unity ought to be preserved by some sort of sociological compromise, some way to get us all to co-identify without engaging theological hot-buttons. The WCC excells at this and has been in the business of sweeping theological differences under the ecumenical rug for decades now. It's no wonder the Nigerian bishops point out ++Williams' post-modern 'tilt' -- this sort of dodge is fashionable these days.

Like these bishops, I question whether the Archbishop's very practical solution has enough theological weight. Is there precedent in any patristic source for two-teir communion in the Catholic Church? Is there precedent in any Anglican ecclesiology for this sort of thing? Let's get the good Archbishop a WWLD bracelet: "What would Laud do?"

I oppose the idea of an Anglican Covenant, because it's un-Catholic. In the good ol' days, a synod would be convened, and a declaration of broken communion would be made, followed by institutional changes to reflect the new theological status. Practicality follows theology. That's the way it oughta' be.

I don't see why this process can't be done right now. ++Williams backhandedly admits that it can be: "All that I have said above should make it clear that the idea of an Archbishop of Canterbury resolving any of this by decree is misplaced, however tempting for many. The Archbishop of Canterbury presides and convenes in the Communion, and may do what this document attempts to do, which is to outline the theological framework in which a problem should be addressed; but he must always act collegially, with the bishops of his own local Church and with the primates and the other instruments of communion." So if he convenes a synod of CofE bishops, with the advice of the Primates, they can declare themselves out of communion with those provinces who want to 'walk apart', and invite all other Anglican provinces to do the same. The question of who's in and who's out answers itself. Sounds like a solidly Catholic way to do things. No Covanent needed.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

backward prattle

Some frustrating nonsense:

“A prophet is meant to be a nuisance, asking such questions precisely when we think we have so ordered our Church, community, society or relationships as not to exclude.” So wrote Rowan Williams, eight years ago.

In contrast, the Archbishop of Canterbury has just revealed his master plan for the unity of the Anglican Communion, which - on a worst-case-scenario read - looks to be designed to exclude nuisances from the Church.

The fear that many have goes something like this: sick and tired of the conflict generated by those who recognise gay relationships as having the potential to reflect the glory of God, he is proposing a Church where all controversial theology would have to be cleared with everybody else. This would be a Church where prophecy was impossible. It wouldn’t be a biblical Church: it would be a stagnant pond.

As Dr Williams once said, biblical prophecy focuses on the prophet’s ability to see things that others don’t. The prophet points to an injustice that the community doesn’t recognise, or won’t admit to itself. And, as the prophet speaks of a community’s blindness, it sees him or her as a heretic and a troublemaker.

Read more here. There you may follow the link to the original. (Wasn't working for me.)

Okay. We, as Anglicans, value Scripture and Tradition, right? I mean, whatever else we may value (reason, experience, etc.), we can all agree that we value and claim to be guided by Scripture and Tradition. Okay. Why should we think that a tiny (rich, white) segment of the Church gets to announce to the rest of the Church what is prophetic and what isn't? When did the Church ever operate that way? What basis or precedent is there for thinking that ECUSA gets to vet prophecy for the rest of the Communion? ECUSA drones on maddeningly about "listening processes" and what not, but absolutely refuses to listen to anyone else on the subject of ECUSA's proclamations' status as prophetic or not. "We ourselves decree it; we believe it; that settles it (for everyone)."

Furthermore, where did this ludicrous notion of prophecy come from? Show me a prophet in the Bible that did ANYTHING but call Israel back to obedience to the will of God as he had revealed it in Scripture. When did a prophet ever assert some new mandate or new permission, contrary to what the community had received as God's law, and based on nothing but some private revelation?

Friday, July 07, 2006

more to be proud of: well done, ecusa [*irony bell*]

A straw in the wind: in Sudan, there is a breakaway and very aggressive Anglican body that has had support, in the past, from government in Khartoum. Among the varied grounds advanced for its separation is the ludicrous assertion that the Episcopal Church of Sudan is unorthodox in its teaching on sexual ethics. In other words, some mischievous forces are quite capable of using the debates over sexuality as an alibi for divisive action whose roots are in other conflicts. And churches in disadvantaged or conflict-ridden settings cannot afford such distractions - I speak with feeling in the light of what I and others here in Synod know of Sudan.

From ++Cantuar's address today to General Synod in England.

Read the whole thing here.

I put a related question to liberal classmates one time: even supposing you're right about homosexuality, is it worth it firmly to establish (e.g.) +Robinson's moral prerogative to have a sexual relationship with his partner, knowing that Anglicans in other parts of the world (especially Islamic parts) will likely die as an indirrect result?  They responded (I'm serious) that not confirming +Robinson would result in lots of gay Episcopal teenagers committing suicide.

Nevermind that there are no Episcopal teenagers, let alone gay ones.

a sonnet

I've posted this before, but it bears repeating. Again and again, actually. It is one of my favorite poems, a sonnet by John Donne (priest), whose liturgical feast is on my birthday.

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.

gordon-conwell seminary to train episcopal priests

In an illustration of the theological polarization that is sweeping across American Christianity, an evangelical Protestant seminary on the North Shore is launching a program to train as Episcopal priests students who consider Episcopal seminaries to be too liberal. Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary announced the plan as the Episcopal Church faces possible schism because its 2003 approval of an openly gay [emphasis Father WB's - see below] priest, the Rev. V. Gene Robinson, as the bishop of New Hampshire has divided the denomination domestically and has placed it at odds with multiple African and Asian provinces of the Anglican Communion.

Read the whole thing here.

It rankles me whenever the press says that Anglican conservatives have a problem with an "openly gay" bishop. The problem is NOT that he is
openly gay. The problem is his sexual practice. The problem, in other words, is not his disclosure of his sexual orientation. The problem is his sexual activity. Someone needs to tell the media. As an Anglican conservative I will say that I have absolutely no problem with a bishop being "openly gay," if that means that his sexual orientation has been made public. I think being "openly gay" can be psychologically healthy in the way that being open about and facing one's proclivities toward destructive or sinful behavior is very often healthy. I DO, however, have a problem with a bishop (or a priest, or a deacon, or a layman) having sex with someone to whom he is not married. And Christian marriage is only possible between one man and one woman. The teaching of both Scripture and the Tradition are crystal clear on that point.

But the main point of this post is that Gordon-Conwell will be training ECUSA priests. Interesting.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

dallas' episcopal diocese joins others in bishop rift

Associated Press

The Episcopal Diocese of Dallas on Wednesday joined a growing rejection of the church's newly elected bishop because she supports same-sex relationships.

Bishop James M. Stanton, the head of Dallas' diocese and its 40,000 members, wrote a letter asking Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams for a "direct pastoral relationship" from overseas instead of being under the American church and its new leader.

At the Episcopal General Convention last month, Nevada Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori was chosen as the church's presiding bishop-elect. She supports ordaining gays and blessing same-sex relationships. She will be installed Nov. 4.

Dioceses in Fort Worth, Pittsburgh, Illinois, Florida, South Carolina and California have taken similar actions and called for Williams to assign another leader.

The Fort Worth diocese also has objected to a woman being elected head of the Episcopal Church. Some conservative Episcopalians don't believe women should be ordained priests.

Stanton said he will assemble a panel to consider his diocese's relationship with the denomination in order "to listen to the concerns of my people."

The Episcopal Church and its fellow Anglicans worldwide are struggling to prevent differences over the Bible and sexuality from escalating into a permanent break.

You can read the Diocese's press release here, and the Standing Committee's letter here. No one, as far as I can tell, has picked up on the bishop's choice of words in describing what he will seek from the Archbishop of Canterbury ("a direct pastoral relationship"), as opposed to what the Standing Committee asked him to pursue ("a direct primatial relationship"). I'm not sure WHAT the significance of this difference might be, nor IF it is significant. Is it because Bp. Stanton doesn't want to risk running afoul of the ECUSA canons, by which the diocese is currently bound? One thing is sure: the media, so far, have interpreted Dallas to be doing the same thing that Fort Worth, Pittsburgh, South Carolina, Central Florida, San Joaquin, and Springfield have done, whatever that is. I.e. whatever "primational oversight" might be, people seem to be going with the assumption that a "direct pastoral relationship" with ++Cantuar amounts to the same thing.

archbishop malcolm ranjith, secretary of the congregation for divine worship, on upcoming mass reforms

Today, the problems of the liturgy center around language (vernacular or Latin) and the position of the priest, whether he faces the assembly or faces God. I will surprise you here: nowhere in the conciliar decree does it say that the priest must face the assembly, nor that the use of Latin is forbidden! If the use of the common tongue is permitted, notably in the liturgy of the Word, the decree is very clear that the use of the Latin language should be maintained in the Latin rite. We are waiting for the pope to give us his guidelines on these subjects.

Interesting. Read the whole thing here.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

canon john heidt: the meaning of alternative primatial oversight

Both aspects of this Broken Communion are embodied in our new Presiding Bishop-elect. By her actions as Bishop of Nevada, in her statements during General Convention, and in her first sermon after her election, she has made it pointedly clear that she intends to pursue an agenda that patently ignores the authority of Scripture, is contrary to its plain teaching regarding overt homosexual relationships, and affronts the church’s Trinitarian doctrine and biblical witness by turning Our Lord into “Mother Jesus.”

As a bishop whose Orders several of us in the Episcopal Church and throughout the world cannot accept, she breaks the unity of the world-wide episcopate which she is supposed to represent and destroys that interchangeability of ministers essential for the sacramental unity of any particular community of Christians. In spite of her election as Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church, she cannot be chief pastor to those who believe she is neither obedient to scripture nor an apostolic bishop. For them some sort of alternative arrangement is now necessary.

Read the whole thing here.

Monday, July 03, 2006

to return to that meme and the business of tagging

With reference to that meme, I hereby tag:

Jody (yeah: Transcendental Blues)
Father Nelson (we need to get together)
MM (specifically)
Father Cantrell (if he'll indulge this kind of frivolity)
Canon Harmon (yeah, right; but what if?)
First Apostle (I'm willing to overlook his disparaging remark about Hank, jr.)
Tex (I know its a bit out of character, but please?)

Please excuse me, but I'm not going to go questing around the internet to find out if anyone has already been tagged.  I would ask Dcn. Johnny Awesome-o (congratulations, Deacon), but (1) I don't think he blogs anymore, and (2) his  taste in music has become more esoteric than mine, which makes me feel threatened.