Tuesday, November 28, 2006

a blog challenge!

This is what I would like to see from Jefforts Schori, or really any liberal / reappraiser who is on board with the New Religion: I would like to see a theologically coherent account of what sort of catholicity they have in mind when, Sunday by Sunday (or twice daily if they say the Office), they affirm that they believe in a (single) Church that's catholic. (For that matter, I wonder what sort of apostolicity, what sort of sanctity, and what sort of unity they have in mind... but first things first.) What does "catholic" mean to those who, for example, want to drive Bishop Schofield out of ECUSA?

Remember I said I want a "theologically coherent" account. "Catholicity means radical inclusion," doesn't count as an answer.

The winner will receive a "Help us Kait Shoree we r catliks" coffee mug.

This challenge is prompted by Father Thorpus' comment below, which deserves to be read entire. But if you're not that ambitious, here's a highlight:

Interesting reading from Zechariah this morning: "Thus said the LORD my God: Be a shepherd of the flock doomed to slaughter." It continues with the taking of two staves, one Grace, the other Unity by name. Both end up getting broken...

jordan hylden in 'first things'

No one thought it possible, but there is a wave of nostalgia sweeping through the ranks of conservative Episcopalians for their old presiding bishop, Frank Griswold. Of course, he may well have been heretical, but no one could really tell for sure. His statements were a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside a bureaucracy, raising what commonly is known as “Episco-babble” to something of an art form. By and large, we conservatives could confidently ignore what he said, resting assured that no one understood him anyway.

But those days, alas, are now gone. Our new presiding bishop, Katherine Jefferts Schori, is by comparison a model of clarity, and within the span of a month has managed to offend a rather astonishing range of people, including Catholics, Mormons, individuals without a graduate degree, and mothers with children.... In short, from her recent actions and public statements, it is reasonable to infer that her term is likely to tear the Episcopal Church in two—and, what’s more, that that is precisely what she intends.

Read it all here.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

rowan and benedict

The Archbishop of Canterbury has been visiting Rome. He had a short-ish, private meeting with the pope (about 25 minutes), and they officiated at Noon Prayers (what was once called Sext) together. Read all about it here.

I have two friends who are a part of the Archbishop's entourage. Here is what one of them (Mr. Christopher Wells of Notre Dame) had to say:

Last night was the single greatest ecumenical event that I have witnessed--the welcoming of Anglicans at the community of Sant'Egidio at their evening prayer, which was given to a commemoration of the 7 Anglican martyrs of Melanesia. Their relics were presented to the community and will remain there. The founder of the community, A. Riccardi, basically presented a mini-ecclesiology as martyrdom-- unity in the body of Christ now, around the cross--in his address to Abp Rowan; and the latter responded in kind.
(As an aside, one of the seven Melanesian Martyrs was an acquaintencce of mine: Br. Alfred Hill was the guestmaster at Chester Rest House on Guadalcanal, while I was staying there.)

The link at the beginning (here, if you missed it) contains the the addresses of the Archbishop to the Pope, and of the Pope to the Archbishop. Benedict didn't really mince words.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

eucharist means thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving.

The General Thanksgiving:

Almighty God, Father of all mercies, we thine unworthy servants do give thee most humble and hearty thanks for all thy goodness and loving-kindness to us, and to all men; We bless thee for our creation, preservation, and all the blessings of this life; but above all, for thine inestimable love in the redemption of the world by our Lord Jesus Christ; for the means of grace, and for the hope of glory. And, we beseech thee, give us that due sense of all thy mercies, that our hearts may be unfeignedly thankful, and that we shew forth thy praise, not only with our lips, but in our lives; by giving up ourselves to thy service, and by walking before thee in holiness and righteousness all our days; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom with thee and the Holy Ghost be all honour and glory, world without end. Amen.

Monday, November 20, 2006

schori celebrates diversity

++++++Katharine Schori to Bishop Schofield: "...seek a home elsewhere."

So this is what "conversation and reconciliation" looks like. Fascinating.

But what an honor for Bishop Schofield! Seriously. It vindicates his sanctity and wisdom.

k.j. schori: catholics are dumb and children are bad for the environment

From the NY Times Magazine. Nice PB outfit, KJS.

Hat tip.

How many members of the Episcopal Church are there in this country?

About 2.2 million. It used to be larger percentagewise, but Episcopalians tend to be better-educated and tend to reproduce at lower rates than some other denominations. Roman Catholics and Mormons both have theological reasons for producing lots of children.

Episcopalians aren’t interested in replenishing their ranks by having children?

No. It’s probably the opposite. We encourage people to pay attention to the stewardship of the earth and not use more than their portion.

You’re actually Catholic by birth; your parents joined the Episcopal Church when you were 9. What led them to convert?

It was before Vatican II had any influence in local parishes, and I think my parents were looking for a place where wrestling with questions was encouraged rather than discouraged.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

an interesting article and some thoughts on the devotional aspect of my priesthood

Read it all here. Its title is "Pope plans recruitment drive among disaffected Anglicans."

It says "The recruitment drive is a potential embarrassment for Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, who is travelling to Italy for his meeting with the Pope." But then it goes on to say:

"While the Pope is keen to welcome any conservative Anglicans, he is also keen to forge good relations with Williams. 'The Vatican will do nothing to undermine Williams at such a precarious moment in Anglican history,' one source said."

How does one reconcile these sentiments?

In the end, I suppose, it doesn't really matter whether they can be reconciled. Either the pope is planning a "recruitment drive" or he isn't.

I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, and to be personal about it: I am a young priest. No doubt I'm one of the youngest priests in the Episcopal Church. I've been priested for just over a year. My experience of being a priest so far? With few exceptions, it has been a thankless, joyless, unrewarding, heartbreaking, exhausting, and profoundly lonely enterprise. Among my fellow clergy, I have been surrounded in turns by heresy, backbiting, scandal, cynical political maneuvering, and downright atheism. I've known a woman-minister to deny the sacraments to a layman on his deathbead because he could not accept the ministrations of another priest who was a transexual. That's ECUSA. Among the laity, I've encountered combinations of casual indifference, high-minded-secularist condescension, and loads of uncertainty, confusion and precipitous action in the face of the Anglican ecclesial incoherence. In short, I feel ready to retire. Or at least this explains why the prospect of "going over to Rome" is so alluring. Not because the grass is greener in Rome: I know that there is plenty of Roman nuttiness, particualrly in America, and there too is plenty of scandal and cynical maneuvering and what not. But even as an Anglican, one can see the Glory of God shining through the fissures in Rome's worldly surface. And while I think I can see that Glory in Anglicanism too, its certainly not as clear. One has the impression that the glowing of the fissures in Anglicanism might just be the fire of judgment at its core, rather than the Shekhinah Glory. Yet do I hope.

On the other hand, I sort of expected this. General Convention 2003, with the election of Gene Robinson, happened during the summer after my first year at Seminary. So I experienced a good two years of Anglicanism's downward spiraling before my ordination. When the time came for me to be priested, the hand was writing legibly on the wall, and I had serious reservations about being made an Episcopal priest. I had a fairly clear idea of what it would mean for a catholic Christian to submit to ordination in the Episcopal Church. In the end, I felt God was telling me that this was the place where I could be closest to his Son's own priesthood. The ony real priesthood is in the person of Christ (in persona Christi, as they used to say), and therefore to minister the cross in the person of Christ means to minister in Christ at once as priest and as victim. I felt God telling me that here, as an Episcopal priest, I could give the most and get the least. Here I could pour myself out in union with Christ's own outpouring. Here I would have an opportunity to pray for those who don't know what they're doing. Here I could expect dividends only from the treasury of Christ's merit. Knowing this, in the weeks before my ordination, I began to pray Michael Ramsey's prayer at the end of my office each day:

Lord take my heart and break it: break it not in the way I would like, but in the way you know to be best. And because it is you who break it, I will not be afraid, for in your heands all is safe and I am safe. Lord, take my heart and give to it your joy, not in the ways I would like, but in the ways you know are best, that your joy may be fulfilled in me.

And having not prayed it thitherto, at Evensong, right before my priesting, I added the final clause:

So, dear Lord, I am ready to be your priest. Amen.

So here I am, Father WB, episcopal priest. But I cannot forever endure the mess that ECUSA has become. It will kill me. I already feel ready to retire, and I'm not yet thirty years old. I believe that, barring some seismic turn-around, ECUSA will kill whoever remains in it. Negotiating the scylla of heresy and the charybdis of a hardened heart, is a desperate and seemingly impossible task. And that's why I welcome these kinds of Vatican murmurings. Something's got to be done. This is at least a sign of something being done by someone. I also welcome the murmurings of certain of the primates. But it remains unclear to me that they will be able to provide a home for the orthodox remnant and that, even if they can, its not at all clear (to me, anyway) that the Communion will survive America's winnowing.

In the meantime here's what I recommend: pray (really pray; if you want help, email me), read your Bible, and bless those who persecute you.

Update: I shouldn't really say that my ministry has been "joyless." It has been pervaded by joy, but its the kind of serene joy of the cross. And for me, sinner that I am, its fragile.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

boola-boola, halleluia!

Yale trounced Harvard today. Order is restored to the cosmos.

More work for the undertaker,
'Nother little job for the casket maker
In the local cemetary they are
Very very busy with a brand new grave:
No hope for Harvard,
No hope for Harvard!

Boola boola, Boola boola,
Boola boola, Boola boola,
Boola boola, Boola boola,
Boola boola, Boola boola,
When we "rough house" poor old Harvard,
They will holler Boola boo.
Oh, Yale, Eli Yale,
Oh, Yale, Eli Yale,
Oh, Yale, Eli Yale,
Oh, Yale, Eli Yale!

Fight, fight for Yale
The sons of Eli are out for glory.
On to the fray,
We'll tell to Harvard the same old story,
The cry is on, on they come
We'll raise the slogan of Yale triumphant.
Smash, bang, we'll rip poor Harvard
Whoop it up for Yale today!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Dennis Canon fails again

As I've asked before, has the Dennis Canon EVER stood up in court?

FALLBROOK, CA: Court Rules in Favor of St. John's Anglican Church Rejects Corporate Takeover Bid by Episcopal Diocese of San Diego
By David W. Virtue www.virtueonline.org
Fallbrook, Calif. (November 13, 2006) -- St. John's Anglican Church, Fallbrook, was vindicated in its fight to prevent a small group of former members and the Episcopal Diocese of San Diego, led by Episcopal Bishop James Mathes, from interfering with its corporate governance and taking over its property.

Judge Jacqueline M. Stern of the San Diego Superior Court ruled that the diocese's lawsuit failed to establish that the board of St. John's had vacated their seats, and that the small group of dissenters, orchestrated by the diocese, had failed to conduct a valid director election: "The Court concludes that the Board of Director's of St. John's Corporation consists of the individual Defendants named in the instant action; that there was no valid basis for Bishop Mathes' removal and replacement of the board of directors of the corporation; the purported election on Aug. 7, 2006 of a new board was invalid."

"We are delighted that this is the final ruling and that the courts found in our favor," Rick Crossley, senior warden of the parish told VOL. "This fits with what happened in the Diocese of Los Angeles where three parishes who fought and won their properties from Bishop J Jon Bruno."

"The difference here in San Diego is that the dispute was about who were the duly elected directors, in church law who were the vestry. They sued us under California corporate law and they were basically asserting that the vestry of St. John's had vacated their seats. They had not and the courts in San Diego agreed with our position. The bishop has given no indication what he will do."

"We are pleased that the courts agreed with us, but we are not celebrating because we know the national church through its attorney David Booth Beers has said publicly in Washington last week that they intend to pursue church property issues where the courts have seen in favor of the local parish.But Eric E. Sohlgren, the attorney for St. John's, told VOL that the victory was significant and binding.

"The Dennis Canon has become more holy to The Episcopal Church than the Holy Scriptures. The fundamental problem that the TEC has is that by relying on the Dennis Canon they ignore the laws of various states which respect corporate rights and the ability of property owners to retain their property when they exercise their religious freedom to change their ecclesiastical affiliation."

Read the rest.

church could think again over women, says williams

From the Telegraph
By Jonathan Petre, Religion Correspondent

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, has reopened the debate on women priests by suggesting that the Anglican Church may one day "think again" about the issue.

Speaking a week before his first official audience with Pope Benedict XVI in Rome, Dr Williams made clear that he remained a firm supporter of women's ordination and that "practically" he did not see how the Church's position could be reversed.

But in an interview with The Catholic Herald published today, he said he could "just about envisage a situation in which, over a very long period, the Anglican Church thought about it again, but I would need to see what the theological reason for that would be".

Dr Williams said the heated debate on the issue had "tested" his theological convictions.

He did not think the reform had "transformed or renewed the Church in spectacular ways", though neither had it "corrupted or ruined" it.

Read the whole thing here.

Interesting. I seem to recall Dr. Williams saying something similar in the context of his remarks to a Global South Primates meeting a year or so ago... maybe in Egypt? Does anyone else remember that? I can't find an references to it...

I think Dr. Williams is thinking coherently about this in general -- i.e.
if the ordination of women were a true teaching, the process of its reception would probably look something like what the current situation in Anglicanism actually does look like. But I wonder whether Dr. Williams appreciates that even within what he is calling "the Anglican Church", this teaching has not been received universally. It seems to me that for "the Anglican Church" to accept this kind of teaching, it must be received at least by the WHOLE Anglican Church. But I would argue that the teaching of Women's Ordination would need to be received by the whole WHOLE Church -- East and West, etc. -- to be authenticated as having come from the Spirit of Truth. And just as Dr. Williams doesn't see a way, practically speaking, for Anglicanism to revisit the issue, neither do I see a way for the Universal Church, practically speaking, to visit the issue to begin with.

Monday, November 13, 2006

best blog ever?

Possibly. Fr. David expresses precisely my thoughts and feelings on a number of issues. Read and be eddified.

Monday, November 06, 2006

this is the problem

An interesting interview with the Bishop of Rochester (in England), Michael Nazir-Ali. Read more here. He has grasped the problem by the root:

"In the House of Bishops on Friday, they were passing resolutions that affect the Anglican understanding of marriage at the deepest level without theological debate," he said.

"It is not only what was done but the way it was done. It was so serious that things like gay bishops are just an interesting footnote."

So true. The aging hippies learned their lesson in propounding their "theological argument" for the priesting of women. It went something like this:

"Women can be lawyers and race car drivers and presidents; therefore women can be priests!"

Sunday, November 05, 2006

i can't wait until aging hippies aren't in charge of anything anymore...

I don't just mean Schori. Or even mainly Schori. The sickness is deep.

In that day, they won't dress like this. And they won't have "Jubilation Streamers." And they won't have creepy forest nymphs frolicking in church.

The Episcopal News Service labelled the photograph above "baptismal journey," apparently because Schori was walking past the font.

Whereas, theologically speaking, the New Religion is hackneyed and incredibly dull, aesthetically speaking its really embarassing.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

more reassurances from jefferts-schori that she is, in fact, making a prey of ecusa by philosophy and empty deceit

In response to questions about whether, in fact, Jesus is the only route to God, Schori has come out with the following (from an AP interview, the whole of which is here):

“If we insist that we know the one way to God, we’ve put God in a very small box.”

So our Lord is a "very small box" -- unless he takes his rightful place: amid the pantheon of heathen gods. (Schori, in another inteview, recommends Islam, Hinduism, and Jainism as attractive alternatives to faith in Christ.)

And then, as though to clarify the christological implications, to make it absolutely clear to everyone that she does
not believe that Christ is fully God, she adds:

“Truth is, like God, more than any one person can encompass.”

I think Schori gets her notions from the elemental spirits of the Universe:

See to it that no one makes a prey of you by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human traition, according to the elemental spirits of the universe, and not according to Christ. for in him the whole fulness of deity dwells bodily. (Colossians 2.8-9)

Can anyone even pretend that the faith Schori espouses is apostolic? I mean, there we have St. Paul's words. Its as though Paul were responding to the Schori interview. In the previous post, we have the teaching of John. The gulf between apostolic christology and Schori-christology should be problematic for Episcopalians with an ounce of concern that their faith should be the same faith that the Apostles taught.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

presiding heresiarch-elect schori re-affirms that she's not a believer... at least not in the sense that the author of 1 john was (and is) a believer

This really is sad. But this is the palce to which the Episcopal Church has come. We need a 39th province, for the sake of our own souls, for the sake of the souls in our cure, and that our Lord may be lifted up without the encumbrance of institutional unbelief, to the greater glory of God. To put it another way: if we are not unshackled from ECUSA, we will be flatly unable to obey God; we will be forbidden -- in the name of "tolerance" and "diversity" and such like -- from proclaiming Christ alone as Savior, our only mediator and advocate.

Schori was interviewed yesterday on NPR's Here and Now. Listen to it here (and now). Okay. Now read this passage from 1 John, and then read the following excerpts from the interview with Katharine Jefferts-Schori. Is the faith expressed in 1 John compatible with the faith expressed by Jefferts-Schori?

1 John
5.10-12: He who believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself. He who does not believe God has made him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has borne to his Son. And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life; he who has not the Son of God has not life.

Now, here's Schori's take on the same issues (read the whole transcript here):

Robin Young: TIME Magazine asked you an interesting question, we thought, "Is belief in Jesus the only way to get to heaven?" And your answer, equally interesting, you said "We who practice the Christian tradition understand him as our vehicle to the divine. But for us to assume that God could not act in other ways is, I think, to put God in an awfully small box." And I read that and I said "What are you: a Unitarian?!?" [laughs] What are you-- that is another concern for people, because, they say Scripture says that Jesus says he was The Light and The Way and the only way to God the Father.

KJS: Christians understand that Jesus is the route to God. Umm-- that is not to say that Muslims, or Sikhs, or Jains, come to God in a radically different way. They come to God through... human experience... through human experience of the divine. Christians talk about that in terms of Jesus.

RY: So you're saying there are other ways to God.

KJS: Uhh... human communities have always searched for relationship that which is beyond them.. with the ultimate.. with the divine. For Christians, we say that our route to God is through Jesus. Uhh.. uh..that doesn't mean that a Hindu.. uh.. doesn't experience God except through Jesus. It-it-it says that Hindus and people of other faith traditions approach God through their own cultural contexts; they relate to God, they experience God in human relationships, as well as ones that transcend human relationships; and Christians would say those are our experiences of Jesus; of God through the experience of Jesus.

RY: It sounds like you're saying it's a parallel reality, but in another culture and language.

KJS: I think that's accurate.. I think that's accurate.

Is it any wonder that membership in the Episcopal Church has decreased by nearly half in the last thirty or so years? I mean, what's the point? The message of our Supreme Leader (elect) is that it doesn't really matter: "our way" of experiencing God is just one of any number of commensurate ways, expressly including Islam, Hinduism, Sikhism, and Jainism.