Tuesday, October 31, 2006

nail your colours to the mast: anti-ecusa polemic from a real anglican of yesteryear

The higher the religion the more all-pervading is its "givenness," until in Christianity we find a religion whose very life is divine. Insistence upon the necessity of the Christian Fatih is no mere intellectual conservatism, but loyalty to given truth [ECUSA, sagaciously: Quid est veritas?]; insistence upon the necessity of the Christian Sacraments no mere delight in ceremonies, but the acceptance of given life; its emphasis from start to finish and in all departments is upon the action of God... not upon the action of man... [Cf. the ecusan substitution of the Millennium Development Goals for the authentic gospel, the gospel with teeth.]

This doctrine does not in any way impugn the freedom of the human will -- there must alwways be a human response to the divine action, a response which is real and not forced; but where it is rght it is a response, and not self-initiated. When we come to the Christian Religion we find that which is uniquely given in the Person of Jesus Christ, Who is Himself the Way, the Truth and the Life [
This kind of talk is far too controversial for ECUSA formally to affirm; they were urged to it at Gen. Con. and voted it down].

If this is so it is clear that the Chrisitan life is essentially supernatural. It is the ignoring or denying of this element which is the cause of most of the ineffectiveness of present-day religion [
Cf. ECUSA]. Supernatural religion is not popular, but that does not make it untrue. Protestantism dislikes it, the Reformation was largely a movement for its dethronement; Modernism dislikes it - the pathetic desire to find a merely human Christ and the condemnation of sacramental action as "magic" attest as much; Science dislikes it because it appears to the scientist to introduce an incalculable and undemonstrable element into Nature [Perhaps this explains all the ECUSAn self-congratulation around their choice of an oceanographer / pilot as Presiding Bishop]; the Man in the Street dislikes it because it is beyond his comprehension, and it is a common human weakenss to fear and therefore to hate the unknown; it remains for the catholic uncompromisingly to nail his colours to the mast and live supernaturally, confident that on that level alone will he find fully Him for Whom his soul thirsts.

(From The Elements of the Spiritual Life: A Study in Ascetical Theology by F.P. Harton, sometime Dean of Wells)

Friday, October 27, 2006

if i were king, and i were to plant a church....

... we would have Evensong, and it would sound something like this. Except we would have Aperi, Domine plus Pater and Ave privily before it, and the Sacrosanctae, Pater and Ave privily after. And the final Anthems of our Lady. But otherwise about the same. Except, also, that it would be followed by Benediction. The link, plus the picture above roughly sums up my liturgical fantasy world.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

st. raphael

Today (or yesterday) (Tuesday) is / was the feast of the Archangel Raphael (cf. Tobit).  Happy feast!  I thought the fourth verse, below, particularly appropriate given all my thoughts turning on Church unity lately.  Stay tuned for another post on the subject.  And in the meantime: St. Raphael and all ye holy Angels and Archangels, guard and defend us!

The Father's pardon from above
O Christ, bestow; thy servants spare;
And bending from thy throne of love,
Regard the blessed Virgin's prayer.

Be ever nigh, Archangel pure,
Whose name proclaims God's healing blest;
Bring to the ailing body cure,
And solace to the mind distressed.

Bright Angels, happy evermore,
Who in your circles nine ascend,
As ye have guarded us before,
So may ye still our steps defend.

So may the realms of faith be blest,
So unbelief be chased away,
Till all within one fold find rest,
Secure beneath one Shepherd's sway.

To God the Father glory be,
Praise to the Saviour, Christ our Lord,
Praise, Holy Spirit, unto thee;
And may God's Angels be our ward.  Amen.

Friday, October 20, 2006

legal fiction: or, ecusa's not a church: or, some thoughts on diocesan convention

I hope the following is coherent. I'm very tired, and must be up early againt tomorrow.

Here's the deal, folks. I am so sick of people talking about the "unity of our Church" when they mean ECUSA. Who cares about the unity of ECUSA, per se? I mean, its nice, I guess. But its not an end in itself. Its like the unity of the Boy Scouts, or the unity of the NCAA.

I will let you in on a secret: this is the source of all the confusion: the word "church" is used in reference to ECUSA, when its not really apt. There are different senses of the word "church." There is the thing on the corner, made of brick. There is the "Baptist Church." There is the "Church of England." There is the "Anglican Church." And there is the "One, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church." Etc. Guess which one of these the Lord was talking about when he held up "unity" as a virtue. Here's a hint. It starts with an "O" and ends in an "ne, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church."

A guy at diocesan convention today got up and talked about how he was Confirmed "into ECUSA," and how meaningful that was. Well, that's very moving. But, sir, it is ignorant to think that you were confirmed (or baptized, or ordained) "into" ECUSA. You are baptized / confirmed / ordained "into" THE ONE (holy, etc.) Church. And ECUSA is, at best, a PART of it. I would argue its ceasing to be even that.

That's the crux of the thing. And why ECUSA unity is expendable. Because a dissunited ECUSA is necessary for a united Holy Catholic Church. What did the Lord say? He prayed for the unity of the Apostles, and "for those who believe in me through their [the Apostles'] word..." (John 17.20). That means the Lord's prayer of unity was that the Apostles would be united and that those who have a unity of faith in the apostles' teaching would likewise be united. And that is exactly what ECUSA has repudiated, and the repudiation ECUSA has ratified: the One faith through the Apostles' teaching. Other words for that teaching are "scripture" and "tradition."

ECUSA has new, supposedly better teachings. And that's fine. They're welcome to them. But I don't want to be yoked to the new stuff. I want the old-time religion.

But that's why we shouldn't give a second thought to the unity of ECUSA. And people (please!) should stop talking about being baptized (confirmed, etc) "into" ECUSA. That's nonsense.

Monday, October 16, 2006

iraqi christians fleeing iraq

Read the whole thing here.  Here are some horribly ironical extracts:

"In the northern city of Mosul, a priest from the Syriac Orthodox Church was kidnapped last week. His church complied with his captors’ demands and put up posters denouncing recent comments made by the pope about Islam [being violent], but he was killed anyway. The police found his beheaded body on Wednesday."

"Several extremist groups threatened to kill all Christians unless the pope apologized [for saying muslims were violent]."

"Over the past three and a half years, Christians have been subjected to a steady stream of church bombings, assassinations, kidnappings and threatening letters slipped under their doors."

"...the teenage daughter of another Christian family... was kidnapped recently. The captors initially demanded a ransom, but later sarcastically said the pope was the only one who could release her. She was eventually killed."

Good grief.  What is wrong with these people?  Not only are they horribly violent, "evil and inhuman" (to quote 14th century Byzantine Emperor, Manuel II Palaiologos, and Pope Benedict XVI), but they also seem to be retarded.  No, I don't mean all Muslims.  I have no problem with Salman Rushdie, for example.  I mean the ones who rage and foam and blow people up to prove that theirs is a peaceful religion.

Friday, October 13, 2006

out of africa

Here is a very interesting article about ++Peter Akinola. It uses him as a foil for analyzing the emergence, and coming dominance, of "Global South" Christianity. We live in interesting days.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

more from canon john heidt on a.p.o.

In short, we can accept Katharine Schori as Presiding Bishop of ECUSA legally elected by the House of Bishops, just as we can accept an elected president or prime minister, but we cannot accept any kind of primatial oversight she might exercise such as acting as chief consecrator of episcopal ordinations - a primacy she apparently rejects anyway. The time has come at last for traditionalist bishops to choose or even create a true primate with real authority, local or foreign, who will have the approval of Canterbury – someone not appointed through the offices of the Episcopal Church. Then perhaps we will move a little closer to the original proposal of Bishop Grafton and others.

Read it all here. Good points, all. An especially good point is that "primatial oversight" is not something really exercised by the ECUSA Presiding Bishop to begin with. So "ALTERNATIVE Primatial Oversight" is kind of a misnomer. But the fact remains: whatever relationship obtained, hitherto, between dioceses and the ECUSA Presiding Bishop can no longer obtain. We would like for this relationship to be ended, and replaced with a relationship with another (arch)bishop who will exercise adequate and acceptable Primatial Oversight for us.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

an interesting report on christianity in the global south

From NPR's "Fresh Air" -- which I frequently find irritating and didactic. But this show is interesting. Terry Gross interviews Philip Jenkins, author of The Next Christendom: the Coming of Global Christianity, and more recently The New Faces of Christianity: Believing the Bible in the Global South.

Go here and listen

Friday, October 06, 2006

a letter from +pittsburgh

This is indeed a hopeful sign. The wait is indeed frustrating and painful. The need is indeed urgent -- as I have realized quite clearly in the last couple of months. And this underscores my frustration with actions such as those of Christ Church, Plano (much as I love them). . . . as well as my frustration with inaction to prevent this kind of thing by bishops such as +Dallas (much as I love him). The orthodox (and semi-orthodox) are indeed their own worst enemies. Notwithstanding the letter below, I remain pessimistic about the ability of Network-types to hold together in the US. I am also pessimistic, by the way, of the ability of the Communion to hold together. But all things are possible with God. And if the "Anglican Experiment" does not end in failure, as it looks like it well might, it will once again vindicate the providence of a God concerned with the affairs of men. As though such vindication were necessary. Still, it helps to be reminded. May Anglicans be so reminded, and soon. And in the meantime, all you orthodox (and semi-orthodox), I urge you: be patient, patient, patient, zealous for righteousness, and at peace:

"But do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow about his promise as some count slowness, but is forbearing toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. But the day of the Lord will come. . . . But according to his promise we wait for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. Therefore, beloved, since you WAIT FOR THESE, be zealous to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace."

(2 Peter 3.8ff, passim)

Here's +Pittsburgh's letter:

6th October, A.D. 2006
Feast of William Tyndale

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

May the grace and peace of Christ Jesus be multiplied to you, and to all who call upon Him as Savior of the world and who serve Him as Lord of all the ages.

I wrote to you back in June expressing my conviction that a new day was dawning for all of us who understand ourselves to be faithful and orthodox Anglicans whether within the Episcopal Church or gone out from it. Three months have passed since I last wrote, and the evidence bearing out that conviction grows daily.

Seven Network Dioceses appealed for Alternative Primatial Relationship in July. The Archbishop of Canterbury responded in August, intervening (in classical Anglican fashion) by asking the principals to sit down together to see if some “American path forward” might be found. In September, that mediation took place in New York without achieving resolution. Shortly thereafter, the leaders of 20 Anglican Provinces (out of 38 total Provinces and representing some 70 percent of the world’s active Anglicans) met, promising that Alternative Primatial Oversight would be provided, and that the Global South Steering Committee would work both with the leadership of the whole Communion and with Network leadership to work out the substance of such provision. Meetings to carry this pledge forward will begin within weeks. An eighth Network diocese, having joined the Appeal of the other seven, will be part of that deliberation.

One of the things the four Network bishops meeting in New York (representing the seven, now eight, appellant dioceses, and meeting with the Presiding Bishop and Presiding Bishop-elect at Canterbury’s request) refused to do was to negotiate a settlement that did not provide for all of the Network congregations in non-Network dioceses. The Global South Primates meeting in September also signaled their concern for the most vulnerable in the U.S. situation. From Kigali, the Global South Primates wrote the following words: “We are convinced that the time now has come to take initial steps toward the formation of what will be recognized as a separate ecclesiastical structure of the Anglican Communion in the USA. ” For all those “gone out” or “put out,” this gives shape to the longed-for day. For the Network deans and for the clergy and congregations of the Network’s International Conference, this is an urgent concern and answer to prayer.

In September, Network Bishops met with a wider coalition of Windsor Bishops. This was a most encouraging meeting. Recognizing the local contexts in which we bishops serve, there was agreement that each of us would continue the hallmarks of our present differentiated leadership (whether Network or non-Network). At the same time, there was consensus about our common commitment to the Windsor Report and our assessment that the Episcopal Church had by no means made adequate response. Further, to state together our understanding that acceptance of the spirit and the substance of the Windsor Report was the only way for dioceses of the Episcopal Church to go forward in the Anglican Communion was a significant achievement, as was our readiness to express the regret that Report called for. The Network has been ten dioceses standing together, and we will continue to stand as we have done. Nevertheless, having twenty or, God-willing, thirty dioceses standing together as Windsor diocese!
committed to live within Anglican Communion boundaries and under an emerging Anglican Communion Covenant, should be a great sign of hopefulness for us all.

For all in the Network, the last three years have been monumentally challenging, but, as I said in June, the new day is dawning. The contours are not fully clear, but the fearful night is passing. The Global South Primates, writing from Kigali, acknowledged the role the Network has played. The Network remains the domestic key to what is ahead. Your prayers, your participation, and your support remain as crucial as ever they have been.

We have hung together, and thus have not been hanged separately. By God’s grace this will continue. Local needs dictate different courses through the troubles. It has been this way since the defining actions in August and November of 2003. Fear not! The Lord is sovereign and is Savior. Orthodox and faithful Anglicans can be divided from one another only if we allow it to be so. The present separations are temporary. When midday comes, the Lord will have put it all back together in the way He intends, if we will but not get in the way.

“Be watchful. Stand firm in your faith. Be courageous. Be strong. Let everything you do be done in love.” (I Cor.16:13-14)

Faithfully in Christ,

+ Bob Pittsburgh

The Rt. Rev. Robert Wm. Duncan
Moderator of the Anglican Communion Network

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Monday, October 02, 2006

the dmv

Any theodicy worth its salt must account for the existence of the Department of Motor Vehicles.  Why is that place so ubiquitously fallen, so dehumanizing?  Its almost enough to make one a libertarian.