Thursday, March 29, 2007

albany bishop jumps to rome, renounces orders

This is breaking news and though this is my diocese, I don't have many details yet. The Albany Priests' and Deacons' Update e-newsletter announced that Bishop Daniel Herzog, the newly retired Albany diocesan, has become Roman Catholic, and as this requires a renunciation of his orders and his ministry as a bishop, he has done his. He will be a layman in the pew.

This follows hard on the heels of former Albany suffragan David Bena's transfer to the province of Nigeria. I don't know what effect these moves, together, will have on the diocese and the clergy.
More details will follow as they become available.
subsequent -
Here's the ENS write-up, with comments from PB Jefferts Schori. Herzog is only the third Episcopal bishop to make the jump to Rome.
Here's the letter from the current Albany diocesan, Bishop Love.
subsequent -
This from the local rag, the Albany Times-Union.

to reiterate: read father ephraim radner's latest doohickey: its v. good, and represents father wb's opinion pretty exactly

Some highlights from the whole thing: (Father Ephraim's text is in italics):

We [conservative Episcopalians] must now choose our way with respect to the Communion, and choose it in a manner that can be evaluated rather clearly according to the Communion’s own calling.


...we now stand apart from them [official ECUSA structures and ECUSA bishops], and our work stands apart from theirs. If this puts us in conflict with these structures and their representatives, so be it.


As an Anglican Christian, I continue to wish to give myself to the vocation of Anglicanism within the larger Church, one of embodying a faithful Scriptural and ministry to Christ Jesus within the difficult yet glorious discipleship of “communion”. I continue to believe that this is an imperative gift to offer the larger Church in a time of wrenching human confusion and uncertainty in the trust of the Gospel within the world. I remain an Anglican, because I believe that God continues to give us work to do.


Those bishops who do not in fact share the “mind” of the House of Bishops, must say so openly and separate themselves from that mind; they must have a different mind, a mind that is at one with the larger church’s.

They must respond positively to the Primates’ request, by publicly acceding to their recommendations, both in word and deed: clarifying their own commitments on matters under dispute, and following through with the request to gather and nominate a Primatial Vicar to a Pastoral Council – now seemingly capable of being made up only of 3 persons, given TEC’s refusal to participate.

[These, I believe, are crucial. It is time for ALL American bishops to be unambiguous. There is a majority in the HoB whose commitment to the Communion is clearly secondary (at best). They have said so unambiguously. Windsor-minded / Camp Allen / Network bishops MUST now be equally clear.]

Individual congregations and clergy and laity within TEC should encourage Communion-minded bishops to this work, by urging them forward and committing themselves to the Pastoral Scheme as it unfolds under the direction of the Communion and the Communion-minded. Such a commitment could be given in a number of ways, but it should be done openly and clearly.

[Support your bishops when they speak and act unambiguously. Prod them when they don't. They need our support, just as we need them to act.]

Communion-minded bishops and their supporters may indeed face sanctions from the official structures of the TEC – other bishops, the legal offices of 815 and the Executive Council. This will represent the practical side of the conflict now upon us. But be of good cheer – He has overcome the world.

[When those living in darkness persecute us, its a good indication that we are behaving with integrity. Rejoice that we've been given an opportunity of confessing the faith and being maligned and opposed for it. And give thanks that no one is burning us at the stake. Yet. Support one another in tangible ways.]

We must in all things act together, and not apart. Shall there perhaps be a moment on October 1st when we shall stand as one mind and one heart? But if this is to happen, the choices we make today must move in this direction and not another.

[Unity is critical. The thorn in the flesh of the orthodox hitherto has been disunity. And the orthodox primates are not without some blame for this. But we must STOP NOW the fracturing off into various incoherent, foreign jurisdictions. Network bishops, AMiA bishops, and the CANA bishop must each forego maneuvering to become the Primatial Vicar, and lay aside their own agendas for the sake of orthodox unity. This is crucial. And the primates of the various "foreign jurisdictions" must work for and promote unity among all the orthodox in N. America, even if it is at the expense of the prerogatives and autonomy of their own American jurisdictions -- like AMiA and CANA. Unity is critical, and is the Achilles heal of the orthodox. Expect 815 to attempt to exploit it -- perhaps by making a counter-proposal, or putting forth her own vicar.]

Some have wondered if I am counseling us to “leave” the Episcopal Church. There are certainly ways to do this that are unambiguous, and I am not in a position to judge those who take such an unambiguous path. However, for those like myself who are committed to the Communion path outlined above, “leaving” is not as clear as it may seem. We have not moved; last week, our bishops as a House have moved.

[Amen. As Ronald Reagan, I think, said about the Democratic party: I never left it; it left me. Everyone should bear in mind that the culpability for the fallout in all of this is squarely on the shoulders of ECUSA as the innovators. If you innovate, you run the risk of alienating your brethren. But don't whine about it when others don't like your "new thing". This seems to be the infantile course of the ECUSA bishops. My advice to them: stop your moaning about how anguished and sorrowful you are at the Communion response to your innovations. You were warned before you went down this path. You went down it anyway. Now suck it up. Take responsibility for what you've done. If it's all worth it, then quit whining. If it wasn't worth it, then repent. But in any case, quit with the mewling hypocrisy about how sad you are.]

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

two pieces well worth reading

One is from Father Ephraim Radner, and constitutes Part 2 of the reflections I brought to your attention last week (which are also well worth (re)reading).

The other is from Jordan Hylden, a bright young thing (Fry on Waugh), and Junior Fellow at First Things and postulant in the Diocese of North Dakota. Jordan writes about the ECUSA House of Bishops' response to the Dar es Salaam Communique. Some of the more interesting bits from Jordan's piece:

In their statement, the American bishops accused the global Anglican primates of “unprecedented” spiritual unsoundness and solemnly spoke of the Episcopal Church’s “autonomy” and “liberation from colonialism,” which they understood to be threatened by the creeping rule of “a distant and unaccountable group of prelates.” Apparently, they were serious. With no sense of irony, the bishops of an overwhelmingly white, wealthy, and liberal American church actually saw fit to accuse their fellow Anglicans—many of whom are from poor third-world countries—of “colonialism.”

Sadly, the bishops’ rejection of the Pastoral Council means that the disorderly and painful fracturing of the Episcopal Church will likely continue apace, since the bishops do not seem willing to provide any sort of acceptable safe space for conservatives. It also means that tension with Rowan Williams and the primates will ratchet up another notch—their proposed Pastoral Council, by which the primates intended to work with the Episcopal Church, will almost certainly now be implemented against the Episcopal leadership’s will. Conservatives who wish to participate in it will have to do so in defiance of national church leadership, and they may be subject to discipline.

The absurdity of this situation—wherein Episcopalians could be disciplined for daring to conform to Anglican “doctrine, discipline, and worship,” just as printed in every single prayer book in every Anglican pew—apparently has not yet occurred to the Episcopal bishops.

And here is the crucial bit. This part has been under-noticed, I think. Though I'm pleased we noticed it at Whitehall. It concerns the House of Bishops at-first-sight bizarre and even absurd insistence that "The meaning of the Preamble to the Constitution of The Episcopal Church is determined solely by the General Convention of The Episcopal Church.” Of course this is where the Episcopal Church defines and constitutes itself as a "constituent member" of the Anglican Communion, and "in communion with the See of Canterbury". The fear of the bishops is of course that if the Anglican Communion suddenly decided that a majority of ECUSA is no longer a "constituent member" of the Communion, or if the See of Canterbury suddenly decided that ECUSA was no longer in communion with him, but that the Network IS, then that would potentially have very bad legal ramifications for the liberals: the conservatives (who remain "constituent members" of the Communion, and who remain "in communion with the See of Canterbury" might suddenly find themselves the sole heirs of the Episcopal Church, as the Episcopal Church has defined and constituted itself. The lunatic ECUSA bishops must not let that happen, so in a move that Jordan Hylden rightly notes to be worthy of Lewis Carroll, the bishops declare that they are the sole arbiters of who is in communion with whom. "You can't kick us out! Only we can kick us out!" What will they do next? Send Rowan Williams an invitation to the Lambeth Conference?

The depths of this episcopal delusion is reminiscent of the scene in Woody Allen's movie Bananas, where the character played by Allen is made the dictator of a small Latin American nation called San Marcos. He decrees that all children under the age of sixteen are now over the age of sixteen, that the national language will be changed to Swedish, and that all citizens are to change their underwear every thirty minutes, and wear it on the outside for easier inspection by the authorities.

In the end, this move is to insure that the ECUSA hierarchy can maintain, come hell or high water, their own legal basis for suing the pants off the orthodox if they try to leave ECUSA with any property. But it just goes to show the absurdities into which base desires can lead you.

Here's what Jordan says about it:

By stating that the meaning of this sentence is determined solely by General Convention, the Episcopal bishops are doing nothing less than claiming that what it means to be Anglican, what it means to be in communion with Canterbury, what it means to be a part of the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church and hold to the historic Christian faith—that all of this is to be decided solely by the democratic vote of clergy and laypeople once every two years in a Marriott hotel convention room, with reference to nothing and nobody. It is breathtaking in its arrogance.
Breathtakingly arrogant indeed. Go read the two pieces for yourself. They're both very good.

mississippi passes 'what-if' abortion bill

The governor signed a bill Thursday that would criminalize abortion in the event that the U.S. Supreme Court overturns the 1973 decision that legalized the procedure. The measure, signed by Gov. Haley Barbour, would ban nearly all abortions in the state if the court were to overturn Roe v. Wade. In that event, anyone performing an illegal abortion in Mississippi would face one to 10 years in prison. . . . Proponents of the bill say the ultimate goal is to one day challenge Roe v. Wade. Anti-abortion activists and some lawmakers believe that with the recent appointments of new, conservative justices on the U.S. Supreme Court, Roe v. Wade could be overturned.

Read the entire AP story, and a write up from NARAL, an abortion-rights group, that reads thus, in part:

Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, called Gov. Haley Barbour's (R-MS) decision to sign a statewide abortion ban into law an egregious attack on women's freedom and privacy. . . Keenan continued that Barbour's action makes him the latest example of anti-choice politicians who continue to attack safe, legal abortion, while they refuse to support commonsense policies, like better access to birth control, that would prevent unintended pregnancies. "The hypocrisy is blatant," Keenan said. "In the Bush tradition, Gov. Barbour won't support or promote a different vision for Mississippi—one that allows families to make personal, private decisions without political interference. Mississippians are tired of divisive attacks on women's freedom and privacy."

The abortion debate is a perfect example of the kind of apples-to-oranges conflict that constitutes the American culture wars; of which TEC's crises are a part. One side wants human rights and privacy, the other wants to stop the murder of innocents. These two perspectives differ so fundamentally that the issue at the root of the debate seldom sees the light of day; that is, I believe, the same issue that's at the core of TEC's crises -- the authority of Scripture in our lives and culture. What we need is a campaign for good, grass-roots philosophical analysis that can point out where people's values differ and what it is they're believing about the world and themselves that necessitates those values. We need to have widespread local discussions about what is true, real, and valuable - it's the only way a culture like ours will ever reach homogeneity and relative peace.
It's interesting, too, that this post follows one about the annunciation. Talk about your unwanted pregnancy.

Monday, March 26, 2007

behold the handmaid of the lord: happy annunciation

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

as rome burns, +peter lee calls for his fiddle

The Bishops overwhelmingly rejected a “Pastoral Scheme” that was proposed by the Primates of the Anglican Communion at their February meeting in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. By doing so, the bishops reaffirmed that the Episcopal Church is a self-governing, autonomous church, and that it is not divided.

Hahahaha! Indeed! And the earth is flat, and the Episcopal Church is vibrant and growing. If you say so, Father. Read it all here.

does the primates' pastoral scheme violate tec's constitution?

Read the Constitution.

There's no part that talks about primatial jurisdiction, because the very idea of the Presiding Bishop as a primate is a new one, only loosely incorporated in the Constitution. The constitution does give General convention full power to institute a number of alternative pastoral schemes, including bishops for foreign lands, missionary bishops, the creation of new (even non-geographical) dioceses, etc. General convention, or the Executive Council acting when GC is in recess, could certainly participate in any such pastoral scheme it wanted to. There's no clause here that clearly rules out participation in the Primates' scheme, such that the House of Bishops could point to it and say, "This clause precludes our participation."

But how many of the Bishops, do YOU think, took time to look over the Constitution before voting for their statement, hmmmmmmm?

What must the argument have been? - that somehow the Pastoral Council would be able to direct 815? Surely not, for even a cursory reading of the Primates' proposal disproves that. The Council would have nothing to do with anything in TEC except as regards the Primatial Vicar, and except to represent the Primates in negotiating the necessary particulars of this temporary arrangement. What about this felt threatening to the Bishops? Their statement seems, upon reflection, to be based on ignorance of their own canons, fear of primatial intevention, fear of the 'plundering' of the church, and, dare I say, wounded pride. Ignorance, fear, pride, love of money - high motives, all.

does the primates' pastoral scheme violate tec canons?

This is what the House of Bishops claimed in its statement: that the primates' pastoral scheme with their version of the primatial vicar "violates our church law in that it would call for a delegation of primatial authority not permissible under our Canons and a compromise of our autonomy as a Church not permissible under our Constitution. "
Well, here are the relevant passages from the Constitution and Canons, Title I:
Sec. 4 (a) The Presiding Bishop shall be the Chief Pastor and Primate of the Church, and shall:
(1) Be charged with responsibility for leadership in initiating and developing the policy and strategy in the Church and speaking for the Church as to the policies, strategies and programs authorized by the General Convention; . . .

(c) The Presiding Bishop shall perform such other functions as shall be prescribed in these Canons; and, to be enabled better to perform such duties and responsibilities, the Presiding Bishop may appoint, to positions established by the Executive Council of General Convention, officers, responsible to the Presiding Bishop, who may delegate such authority as shall seem appropriate.

Whitehallians, tell us what you think - but I don't see anything here that precludes the appointment of a Primatial Vicar, as was first suggested by a group of bishops including former PB Griswold and PB Jefferts Schori, or TEC's participation in the Primates' pastoral scheme. If TEC was willing to find a way forward based on these canons, it could be done. The House of Bishops seems now to be worried that the inclusion of officers of the Primates on the Pastoral Council would put undue power in their hands: but look at the original proposal:
2. The Primatial Vicar would be accountable to the Presiding Bishop and would report to an Advisory Panel that would consist of the designee of the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Presiding Bishop’s designee, a bishop of The Episcopal Church selected by the petitioning dioceses, and the President of the House of Deputies (or designee).
Compare it to the Primates' proposal:

A Pastoral Council

The Primates will establish a Pastoral Council to act on behalf of the Primates in consultation with The Episcopal Church. This Council shall consist of up to five members: two nominated by the Primates, two by the Presiding Bishop, and a Primate of a Province of the Anglican Communion nominated by the Archbishop of Canterbury to chair the Council.

A Pastoral Scheme

. . .

􀂃 We acknowledge and welcome the initiative of the Presiding Bishop to consent to appoint a Primatial Vicar.

. . .
􀂃 in consultation with the Council and with the consent of the Presiding Bishop, those bishops who are part of the scheme will nominate a Primatial Vicar, who shall be responsible to the Council;

􀂃 the Presiding Bishop in consultation with the Pastoral Council will delegate specific powers and duties to the Primatial Vicar.

Two points: first, the make-up of this Pastoral Council is not so different from that of the Advisory Panel that was already suggested. TEC gets two out of four seats in the Advisory Panel, and two out of five on the Council. One in either case goes to the ABC, and the only other difference is the presence of Primates or the President of the House of Deputies.

Second point: what the primates ask for is precisely what PB Jefferts Schori suggested! There's no usurping of primatial authority. Their ideas fit neatly within the canons and within Jefferts-Schori's own proposal, with the one exception that they ask that the Primatial Vicar be responsible to the Pastoral Council, not the Advisory Panel. the Vicar's powers still come from the PB as delegated powers, so the Vicar would still be responsible to the PB for their use.
Again I say, if the leaders of TEC wanted to find a way forward under these canons, without dividing the church or driving anyone away, they could. It's not that hard. It might take changing 'responsible to the Council' to 'reporting to the Council' or some such, but negotiation could work all that out. But the House of Bishops clearly isn't interested in negotiation, only in stating who they are - again - as if anyone had any doubt. Maybe if they say it louder this time, the rest of the Communion will finally say, "oh, yes, we see, that's all it is. Ok, do as you please." The fact is our communion partners DO understand us just fine; and they still believe our communion stands in jeopardy.

you, yes, you can help the archbishop of canterbury meet with the house of bishops!

On E-Bay. This is hilarious.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

a great piece from father ephraim radner

Read it all here.

He seems to think its Game Over for the orthodox in ECUSA. He has been one of the most coherent and conciliatory voices among the orthodox -- definitely not a hot head. That he thinks its over says much about the gravity of the situation in light of the House of Bishops' rejection of the Primates' requests.

So what now? In my view, the Communion MUST establish the Pastoral Council / Primatial Vicar, now clearly without the help or input of the ECUSA hierarchy. If the councils of the Communion do nothing, then Anglicanism in American will be lost... for years or decades, if not forever. The orthodox will continue to bleed off into a myriad independent and incoherent jurisdictions, or will simply move away from Anglicanism altogether, to Roman Catholicism, Orthodoxy, etc. Moreover, if ECUSA is allowed to get away with their intractable arrogance, then Anglicanism will be betrayed as an incoherent theological joke -- one in which a thousand mutually exclusive doctrines are held and taught in the name of plurality.

The ONLY way forward, I believe, is for the Primates and the ABC to act NOW (by which I mean something like "by the end of this year") 1) to allow ECUSA to go its on way, apart from the Communion, and 2) to provide a coherent place / primatial jurisdiction for the orthodox who wish to remain in communion with Canterbury and the rest. Lastly (and this will be the most difficult and unlikely): the American orthodox -- Network dioceses, CANA, AMiA, etc. -- must band together and agree to abide by the Primates and the ABC's decisions.

There are a lot of if's and unknowns here. But they must be sorted out very quickly, in my view, or American Anglicanism will be lost.

PS: Now is the time for action by the orthodox BISHOPS in ECUSA. Its time for them to stand up and start acting like orthodox bishops. Its time for them to act concertedly, coherently, unitedly, and humbly -- as the shepherds God has called them to be, and to whom He has given His Holy Spirit for that purpose. The orthodox bishops must come together and show bold leadership. If they do, their priests and laity will follow them. If they don't, all will almost certainly be lost.

the house of bishops resolution rejecting the primates' pastoral scheme

Here's the first Mind of the House resolution, and the one which actually accomplishes the rejection.
Mind of the House of Bishops Resolution Addressed to the Executive Council of the Episcopal Church

Resolved, the House of Bishops affirms its desire that The Episcopal Church remain a part of the councils of the Anglican Communion; and

Resolved, the meaning of the Preamble to the Constitution of The Episcopal Church is determined solely by the General Convention of The Episcopal Church; and
Resolved, the House of Bishops believes the proposed Pastoral Scheme of the Dar es Salaam Communiqué of February 19, 2007 would be injurious to The Episcopal Church and urges that the Executive Council decline to participate in it; and
Resolved, the House of Bishops pledges itself to continue to work to find ways of meeting the pastoral concerns of the Primates that are compatible with our own polity and canons.
First, you've got to wonder why that opening resolved clause is there, about the preamble being interpreted only by General Convention. Though I haven't heard a lot of conservatives push this argument recently, the progressives are still hyper-worried that the preamble might bind us to the Communion, such that we can't do whatever we jolly well please. Which makes one wonder whether independence (in spiritual terms, rebellion) is really more to TEC's taste than Communion or catholicity, and really the root of all of this, from Bp. Robinson onward. What kind of conversation, do you suppose, went on at Camp Allen to necessitate this clause?
It's also more than a little immature to say that our words mean precisely what we want them to mean, no more and no less. Words do mean things, and communication would be impossible if words didn't have recognized meanings outside of people's own perspectives. You can't make 'red' mean 'blue'. If you do, you're speaking in code, not straight-forward language. What exactly is the HoB's intention in claiming the sole right of interpretation here? Are they going to transform our preamble into a minefield of code words that mean whatever we want them to mean? Why not just be honest and change the words, rather than giving the same old words brand new, and sometimes contradictory, meanings? That's called 'deception' or 'lying', though I'm sure the HoB just thinks it's being clever.
As for the second clause, note that the idea of a Primatial Vicar has not been rejected. Only the Primates' version thereof has been rejected. There's still room here for PB Jefferts-Schori's plan to be effected. Ruth Gledhill is right: this is a game of one-upmanship, a face card to finesse the primates' power. Regardless, as this resolution bears upon TEC's commitment to being catholic, it is to me a frightening indication of, indeed, the mind of the house .

the episcopal church house of bishops rejects the primates' requests

Read all about it here (or elsewhere). You can read the actual thing here. Their statements were filled with the tired rhetoric about the leadings of someone they think is the Holy Ghost (its a ghost alright: the Zeitgeist), and they even said that the Primates' requests in the Dar es Salaam Communique were a return to "colonialism." How pathetic.

"Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter." - Isaiah the Prophet

And again:

"A time is coming when men will go mad, and when they see someone who is not mad, they will attack him saying, 'You are mad, you are not like us'." - Saint Anthony the Great

Saturday, March 17, 2007

george weigel: the end of the anglican communion

From here and elsewhere. Among other things he writes:

In the wake of the Second Vatican Council, as hopes for ecclesial reconciliation between Rome and Canterbury ran high, it seemed, briefly, as if Cardinal Newman might have been wrong. With the Anglican Communion now fracturing into a gaggle of quarreling communities no longer in communion with each other, it looks as if Newman had the deeper insight into what King Henry VIII wrought.

To which I say: this is a premature judgment. Its not over till its over. Pace Weigel, the Communion has not yet fractured into "a gaggle of quarreling communities no longer in communion with each other." Several Anglican Provinces have declared that their communion with ECUSA, specifically, is broken; several more have declared that their communion with ECUSA is impaired. But apart from ECUSA, Anglicanism remains pretty robust and cohesive. Fragmentation of the kind described by Weigel is certainly a grave danger for the Anglican Communion, and its one possible outcome of the real mess we're in. But it hasn't happened yet. And frankly it is immensely disheartening to have so many well-intentioned Christians (many of them former Anglicans) circling around the wounded body of Anglicanism, licking their lips, waiting for the vindication of Newman's conversion, which they seem to think can only come when Anglicanism is dead and eviscerated, and all the world can smell the putrefaction.

Well hold your horses. Another possible outcome of our real mess is that the Anglican Communion will roundly censure and discipline the North Americans, and will find ways of strengthening the Communion's common life in a covenantal / conciliar way that would seem to many to be a compelling (and non-papal) counterpoint to Newman's predication of Protestantism (in its pejorative sense) to the essence of Anglicanism. Is this why many Roman Catholics seem so eager for Anglicanism to fail, and to be seen to fail? Because a reformation of Anglicanism in a fundamentally catholic direction would throw a wrench into their ecclesiology, or at least into their eccelesiological apologetics?

Look, sometimes I think about Baptists, et alia, the way that Weigel seems to be thinking about Anglicanism in this piece. That non-catholic instantiations of Christianity are inconvenient, distracting, and better off dead. But then I remind myself that the Reformation was not a surprise to God. As distasteful as most of Protestant rhetoric and piety are to me, these people are Christians too. And their presence in the world falls within the purview of the sovereignty of God and the Holy Spirit's work in Western culture. My job is not to be a fly in Baptist ointment, but to be the best Christian I can be with the light with which I have been graced, and to tell Baptists (and Roman Catholics) the story of God's reign in my heart -- and not to tell them how I would have God reign in their heart. Is this syncretic? No. I want the same thing for them that I want for myself: for Jesus Christ to be Lord of life in whatever way seems best to him.

But to return to the Weigel piece, next he says:

As Canada's finest Catholic commentator, Father Raymond de Souza, wrote last year (reflecting on the attempts of Dr. Rowan Williams, archbishop of Canterbury, to hold the Anglican Communion together), "Some [Anglicans] argue that [homosexual acts] are sinful; others that they are sacramental. This is an unbridgeable gap and it appears impossible for Canterbury to straddle it, try as he might." Dr. Williams has tried mightily; he seems to have failed.

Again, this isn't quite right. Dr. Williams has not been attempting to bridge a gap between homosexual acts being at once sinful and sacramental. Dr. Williams may not be right about everything, but I think he's yet capable of judging a patent absurdity when it stares him in the face. And this gets at the heart of Dr. Williams' fundamental catholicity: he's willing to submit his judgment to that of Holy Church. He has consistently said as Archbishop of Canterbury, as have the Primates and the other instruments of our Communion, that the Anglican teaching on licit sexual activity is clear and unambiguous: sex is licit within the sacramental context of lifelong marriage between one man and one woman, the end. For the rest of us, abstinence from sex is the name of the game. There is no ambiguity here. There is no attempt to dwell in some irrational aporia. Here is the Anglican teaching for all the world to see. If Americans wish to be Anglicans, they must conform themselves to this teaching. That's what Windsor, Dromantine, and Tanzania were about.

Could Anglicanism crack open and implode thanks to the ecclesiological stress laid on it by ECUSA's innovations? Certainly. But it hasn't yet. Let's not jump the gun. There is a heroic and prayerful effort under way to prevent just such a cracking. I invite would-be gadflies to join us in working and praying for Anglican (and pan-Christian) unity, that the world may see and know that the Father sent the Son. Apart from that, be the best and humblest Christian you can be.

Friday, March 16, 2007

"wake up call" in south carolina

Fr. Mark Lawrence's election to the See of South Carolina has been declared null and void. There were apparently two problems: Fr. Lawrence did not receive the necessary number of consents from Standing Committees, and some of those that he did receive were in electronic form, where the canons specify they be written. ENS claims the latter as primary reason for the nullification of the election. See the Diocese of South Carolina's update here. This has got to be a disappointing outcome for the faithful in that diocese, and we pray God to guide them through the coming months.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

a fantastic sermon on the priesthood

Speaking of the fact that in divorcing "the spiritual reality of catholicism from the practical realities of human institutions, we deny the miracle of the Church and pave the way for corruption and innovation, heresy and schism" (cf. Father Thorpus' previous two posts), here is something good:

By Father John Heidt. Read it. Being a priest, the sentence that sticks out to me is:
Let your priest guide you through the maelstrom of ecclesiastical chaos - in gentleness, charity, and in good sense. He is your ruler, your monarch, as well as your teacher and priest, for he is among you, though unworthy...
This is so misunderstood (cf. Wilco) in America today, yet this is the heart of the real Gospel aporia into which we are called to live. I am accutely aware of my own unworthiness. Yet as a priest, I take seriously that I am a father in Christ, showing forth the Almighty Father, through the gift of the Holy Spirit, and the objective grace of the Eternal Son. I love the fact that parishioners in their 90's call me, in my twenties, "Father." It is a worldly absurdity -- foolishness to the Greeks (1 Cor. 1.23).

God knows I do not show forth Christ as a priest because I am worthy to do so, or even capable of doing so. If it were left to me, all anyone would see would be my very real unworthiness and incapacity. But with God all things are posssible (Matt. 19.26). And (laudatur Iesu!) "God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise, God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong, God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are" (1 Cor. 1.27f).

the draft covenant: part II

This is part 2 of an analysis of the Draft Anglican Covenant. Part 1 wondered why the theological idea of communion was treated so shabbily in the Draft, and why the leaders of the Anglican Communion feel the need to depart from communion as a basis for our unity and re-create that unity in a Covenant. This is, I think, the germ and core of the criticism that the whole idea of a Covenant is 'un-Anglican'. Dr. Radner summarizes it this way:

I wonder about the way he [Dr. Franklin] discerns its character in terms of novelty. Certainly, this has been the source of many criticisms of the proposed Covenant in its very identity: it is somehow an innovation within Anglicanism, some have said, an alien element whose introduction will further just the kinds of “curial” re-orderings of the Communion that will undercut the traditional autonomies the buttress Anglican ecclesial life and witness. So how new is the Covenant’s purpose and form in fact? My main argument below is that it is not new at all. It is, rather, who we already are and are called to be more and more.

First, let us note that my criticism is not one of those Dr. Radner mentions. If anything, traditional catholic ecclesiology supports 'curial re-orderings' and does not support 'traditional [Anglican] autonomies', which are, in the case of TEC, being used as excuses for the undue taking of license - indeed, licen-tiousness. If I were merely a pragmatist, I should support the Covenant's innovations because they tighten the central leadership's reins on erring TEC. My side wins, as it were. But we ought not win practical victories at the expense of our Catholicism. Our souls depend upon it.

But in fact, the Covenant does indeed introduce innovations. Dr. Radner's argument - and we could quote him copiously to this point but, for the sake of brevity, without which no one can please bloggers, we'll move on - Dr. Radner's argument is not that critics of the Covenant are simply hallucinating and there is nothing new in the document. Rather, his point is that the innovations that are being proposed stand at the end of a long and authentically Anglican process which began before Gene Robinson, began in fact with the very exportation of the Faith that created the Communion, and which has only recently been recognized for what it is by documents such as the Virginia Report, the Eames Monitoring Group Report of 1988, and the Windsor Report. These documents describe a movement toward something like a Covenant that has been afoot for some time, but we tend to forget the Winsor Report's and the Covenant's continuity with this process because of the events around GC 03, etc. Dr. Radner believes that whatever the Covenant does to our ecclesiology has actually already been done, that it merely reflects developments that have already taken place in our Communion. The Covenant Design Group puts it this way:

What is to be offered in the Covenant is not the invention of a new way of being Anglican, but a fresh restatement and assertion of the faith which we as Anglicans have received, and a commitment to inter-dependent life such as always in theory at least been given recognition.

So there is to be something new, something 'fresh' about the Covenant, something that reflects the latest novelty of Anglican development. I see nothing in the Design Group's report about studying the Fathers or trying to be more catholic. I see nothing in Dr. Radner's comments about studying the Fathers or trying to be more catholic. To the extent the covenant fails thus, it also fails to be an instrument toward greater union with other Churches who claim catholicism. Do they not display the same catholicism we claim? Have they not 'communion' as well as we? Why must our process of definition be pointed only inward, not at all outward to the rest of the Body of Christ? If TEC has such responsibility toward Nigeria, does not the entire Anglican Communion, insofar as it claims to be catholic, have such responsibilities toward Rome and the Patriarchs? Self-exploration inevitably clashes with Christian self-surrender - can we not embody something of the self-effacing, essentials-only spirit of the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral in the document that is supposed to clarify and define who we are today? The Quadrilateral was borne of long study in the Fathers, and it shows not only in its substance, which is properly reflected in the Draft Covenant, but also in its ecumenical spirit, which is not reflected in the Covenant.
As to the novelty itself which the Covenant introduces, I understand it to be the very coup that was accomplished at the Primates' meeting in Tanzania - namely, that the Primates emerge as the most powerful body of leaders in the Communion, and the only one with any real power. Section 5 of the Covenant acknowledges the Archbishop of Canterbury, but only gives him the power to convene the instruments of Communion; the ABC becomes a QEII-type figurehead. The Lambeth conference exists as a support group for bishops and with the amorphous mission "to guard the faith and unity of the communion" (although I support more 'curial' forms, note that this vague mission could allow Lambeth to go beyond its traditional advisory-only authority). The ACC is relegated to coordinating parts of Anglican ecumenical and missionary work, and who is it that gets carte blanche?

The Primates’ Meeting, presided over by the Archbishop of Canterbury, assembles for mutual support and counsel, monitors global developments and works in full collaboration in doctrinal, moral and pastoral matters that have Communion-wide implications.

Ok, ok, maybe this could be less earth-shattering than I've claimed -- that is, if it weren't backed up by this in section 6: Each church commits itself . . .

. . . to seek the guidance of the Instruments of Communion, where there are matters in serious dispute among churches that cannot be resolved by mutual admonition and counsel:
1. by submitting the matter to the Primates Meeting
2. if the Primates believe that the matter is not one for which a common mind has been articulated, they will seek it with the other instruments and their councils
3. finally, on this basis, the Primates will offer guidance and direction.

Who's calling the shots these days? Who exercises real pastoral authority, according to the Covenant? Why isn't our chief pastor, the ABC, given this job?
Dr. Radner is correct. The Covenant only articulates developments that are already afoot. The document does not seek to make us more catholic or bind us more closely to our catholic traditions. It DOES reflect the Global South's distrust of ABC Williams - that's why the ABC loses authority (and Williams is probably happy for this, because he doesn't wear his WWLD bracelet) - and the Global South's distrust of the ACC - that's why it gets shoved aside. It reflects the fact that the Global South primates only trust those instruments of communion that they can control - Lambeth and the Primates' meeting. Dr. Radner is right. The document does indeed reflect recent Communion developments. But they aren't developments toward catholicism.
Don't get me wrong. I like the Primates. I agree with them. I even like most of the Covenant. But I fear we banish one evil while inviting another in. I fear the Anglican masses in the Global South won't care so much about being Catholic as being Evangelical, and will too quickly sacrifice our catholicism to enforce Evangelical faith. Much as I've prayed for decades that TEC would rediscover its Evangelical faith, I don't want the Anglican Communion to lose its catholicism. The process that gives rise to this Covenant at this time in our life as a Communion is itself a symptom of a weakened urge toward catholicism in both TEC and the Global South. A strengthened catholicism would fix all our problems without sacrificing anything essential. A Covenant could do this for us, should do this for us - but this Draft does not.

the draft covenant: part I - this is what's wrong with the covenant

This is part one of a two-part analysis of the Draft Covenant. You can read the entire Covenant here. I also recommend highly Eprhaim Radner's comments and Dr. Poon's response, as posted on Whitehall last week, as well as the Covenant Design Group's report.

I decided to split this post in two because there are really two things going on that are of interest to me - one is genuinely an ecclesiological development, and the other is a pragmatic, political matter. Personally, I don't think these two spheres ought to be separated. The church ought always to stive to sbumit real-world practicalities to God's call; we ought ever and always to be expressing in our 'real' world the greater realities of the Spirit. Catholicism IS one of those realities. Ours ought always to be getting purer. Where we divorce the spiritual reality of catholicism from the practical realities of human institutions, we deny the miracle of the Church and pave the way for corruption and innovation, heresy and schism -- 'detestable enormities', all.

But the leaders of the Communion don't seem to see it that way. So the major ecclesiological innovation in the Covenant is tucked away, mid paragraph, mid sentence, barely even more than a reference or implication - not through any practice of deceit, I feel sure, but simply through neglect, which is worse. The first part of this post, below, will be dedicated to fleshing that innovation out. But because Dr. Radner and others have so vehemently denied that there exists any ecclesiological innovation in the Covenant, the second part of this post will be dedicated to proving, from the Design Group report, Dr. Radner's comments on the formative impulses of the document, and the Covenant itself, that there is, in fact, an ecclesiological innovation in the Covenant. And yes, for all of you who thought you've heard me imply it, here at, 'innovation' IS generally a dirty word. At least when it comes to the Church and its faith once received.

So the paragraph in question comes in the 5th section, on "Our Unity and Common Life" and reads thus:

Of these four Instruments of Communion, the Archbishop of Canterbury, with whose See Anglicans have historically been in communion, is accorded a primacy of honour and respect as first amongst equals (primus inter pares). He calls the Lambeth Conference, and Primates’ Meeting, and is President of the Anglican Consultative Council.

The first sentence here is one of only two times in the document the word 'communion' has real theological content (the other time it refers to sharing the same Eucharist) and is not just the name of the particular group of churches we're talking about. What's wrong with this, despite the proclamation right at the beginning that we "uphold and act in continuity and consistency with the catholic and apostolic faith, order and tradition . . . ", is that the theological concept of communion, born of the blood and sweat of the Church Fathers, is nowhere mentioned as the foundation for our unity or identity. It only appears here, noted as an historical fact that explicitly has nothing to do with what the Covenant is trying to accomplish. Historically, we've been in communion with Canterbury, but today we Covenant to make that relationship obsolete, at least on the most foundational level of our identity. It's in our past, not our future.

The future of the Anglican 'Communion' seems to be to become the 'Anglican Covenant Group of Churches', an arrangement which may bear some strucutral similarities and historical continuities to an actual communion of Churches but may not be one in actuality.

Let me be clear that the creation of this kind of covenant does not, I think, necessarily destroy the communion we share already as Anglican Churches in communion with Canterbury. It could even, for all practical purposes, enhance our experience of that communion by more clearly articulating our understanding of God's expectations for ourselves and our communion partners, so long as we are clear that the Covenant does not create or define the relationship of communion, but only clarify it to help out infirmities (ahem, TEC). And by all means, let the miracle of communion be the foundaton we build upon, not the stone which the builders rejected.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Monday, March 12, 2007

some of the silliest nonsense i've ever seen

I hate Labyrinths. They are counterfeit, nonsensical substitutions for real devotion. They are basically idols that facilitate at best nothing, and at worst self worship.

This has got to be one of the stupidest things I've ever seen. It is brought to you, naturally, by Grace Cathedral in San Francisco. Before you click on it, guess what it is. If you guessed "a state of the art online finger meditation tool" then you guessed correctly. Now go look at it and feel the pathos of aging hippies trying desperately and failing to invent something meaningful out of nothing.

Meet the priestess in charge of this codswallop. Sometimes I'd like to lock such people in a room with someone who takes his religion seriously, and see what happens.

AN ADDENDUM -- lest you be afraid of him, the man in the link, who "takes his religion seriously" is not a wizard, but rather (as Charles W. has pointed out in the comments) a Schemamonk from the Valaam Russian Orthodox Monastery. Schemamonks, from what I can tell, are like the Navy SEALS of Eastern monasticism.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

deadline approaches for standing committee consents for south carolina bishop-elect

As you can read elsewhere in the blogosphere, particularly one T1:9, the deadline for standing committee consents for the Rev. Mark Lawrence, bishop-elect of the diocese of South Carolina, is fast approaching. Rev. Lawrence has already received consents from the necessary majority of bishops with jurisdiction and consents from 52 of the 111 standing committees. 56 consents are needed. See here for updates from the diocese of South Carolina. The diocese has a list of consents already received: note who has held out -- not the Southern dioceses, nor the midwestern, but the Northeastern and California dioceses (except for San Joaquin and San Diego). Only one of the 6 New York dioceses has given consent, and only Western Mass. from New England has consented. Province II is woefully behind.

As the post on T1:9 notes, Rev. Lawrence could become the first bishop-elect in over 70 years to be refused consent. We consent readily to a man who left his family to come out of the closet in New Hampshire, but Rev. Lawrence, who surely is just as well respected in his diocese as Gene Robinson was in his, and who was elected resoundingly on the first ballot (Bp. Robinson was elected on the second), has to beg and plead? Would we RATHER our bishops be gay?

I heard a number of excuses in 2003 that the diocese of New Hampshire had spoken, and that was that. The election had given us the will of God for New Hampshire, and God forbid we intervene by refusing consent. Instead, we get this from Via Media:

"The case against consenting to Father Lawrence's election is not based on his theology or personal beliefs, but on the way these are likely to affect the polity, and hence the unity and integrity, of this church . . ."

Say what? Is this not an exact description of the hullaballoo we've been dragged through since Bp. Robinson's election? Is this not an exact description of the dangers of electing a very liberal woman as Presiding Bishop? Is this not an exact description of the fallout we caused by ordaining women to the priesthood? Is this not a crystal-clear admission that godly living and good theology are not at stake, but simply partisan politics between TEC's left and right? You often hear me ask, "Who's calling the shots these days?" I ask, what does this campaign say about the priorities of Via Media and TEC's left wing? Via Media claims to be made up of moderates who want nothing more than to stay in TEC. But this move unmasks them. The group ostesnibly is worried that Fr. Lawrence, all by himself, is going to rip apart the ecclesial fabric of our church -- is this a reasonable fear? Surely at his most vehement he would only issue letters, as Bps. Iker and Beckwith and others have done, and support the request his diocese has already made to receive alternative primatial oversight - which plan, by the way, PB Schori has already expressed support for and is likely to press the HoB to agree to.

Which all stacks up to mean that Via Media's campaign to undo this canonically proper election is basically nothing but spite. And it's a power play to exercise Rehoboam-like authority over a peer, like the princes of the gentiles. And if it succeeds, it's likely to endanger any assurance coming from the HoB that TEC is willing to play nice for the time being.

more liturgical antics (file this one next to the clown eucharist)

Read it all here. Hat tip to Johnny.

Unusual Mix of Prayer and Politics
Yale Divinity School students burned a copy of the Bill of Rights and the Ten Commandments at a recent Ash Wednesday service before marking their foreheads with the ashes – not as protest, they say, but to repent for their own complicity in “the ongoing injustice being perpetuated by our nation.”

“Ash Wednesday is the beginning of Lent where we remember our sins and the ways that we are complicit in evil in our society. As an American, the way that’s most clear today is through the War on Terror and the war on Iraq,” said Christopher Doucot, a first-year master’s student who came up with the idea for the service. About 40 to 45 students, faculty, administrators and local residentsattended the service, intended to provide an opportunity for reflection on such topics as secret prisons, “indiscriminate bombings,” domestic spying and torture.
“We were reminding ourselves of our own complicity,” said Doucot. “We’re not pointing fingers at anyone but ourselves.”

Thursday, March 08, 2007

100% committed?

Episcopal Diocese of Kentucky Bishop Ted Gulick delivered his annual convention address February 24 during a Service of Holy Baptism, using the baptismal covenant as his rubric for speaking about the life of the Diocese of Kentucky and as a context for apologizing to its gay and lesbian members. . . . Recalling his 2004 convention address in which he apologized to those members of the diocese who were offended by his vote consenting to the election of the bishop of New Hampshire, Gulick spoke directly to the diocese's "devoted" gay and lesbian members. He said he was sorry that his vote during the 75th General Convention to approve Resolution B033 and thus withhold such consents in the future, may have caused them pain and "a sense of alienation from Christ's bond or me."
Gulick, however, also said he was "100 percent committed to reconciliation" . . .

Hmmm..... one wonders whether these conflicting apologies constitute 100 percent commitment to anything in particular.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

father ephraim radner comments (some more) on the covenant

Read the whole thing here. Interesting deliberations around the catholicity of Anglicanism and the forthcoming, revised Covenant. Father Ephraim was responding to this comment from Father Michael Poon. Father Michael was in turn responding to this, Father Epharim's initial comments on the Covenant. What do you think?

Dr. Poon’s pointing to the central element of common prayer and the Prayer Book as the doxological center and context for Anglican hearing of Scripture in its “right interpretation” accurately exposes the complexity of this “old” and “new”. He calls for a return to the “ancient way”. And he is right: the Book of Common Prayer no longer functions in this anchoring and formative way for Anglicans as a Communion, much to our detriment. But I have already heard faithful (and centrally “orthodox”) Anglicans of a more catholic tradition criticize the Proposed Covenant precisely because it lifts up the 1662 Prayer Book as a “guiding” document for the Communion as a whole. Even leaving aside modern revisions and elaborations and perhaps perversions of the Prayer Book tradition within many evangelical and non-evangelical churches around the world, designating a liturgical form that is theologically oriented towards a fairly Protestant outlook (at least within an Anglican range) is seen by many “Anglo-Catholics” as highly problematic; and especially among newer churches who have never perhaps even been ordered within a history that attaches directly to the 1662 English edition. So there is a large question here: Is the “ancient way” closer to the pre-Reformation order of eucharistic life? Or is it to be found in a gathering of the Communion around an originating liturgical order whose focus in, e.g. 1662, is to be viewed as providentially integrating of our common life, even if not directly constructive of it in this or that local or national church? This is a central concern that, perhaps, the Covenant will need to address more substantively. I personally believe in the latter, and understand the draft Covenant to do the same; but I recognize that it will require some common discussion, prayer, and—frankly – effort and charity for this to be agreed upon. We will agree, I hope, as impelled by God; but that impulsion will be recognized only in a certain kind of shared openness.

Here is where the conciliar character of the Proposed Covenant is perhaps more prominent than Dr. Poon would like: the form of “Doxology-orthodoxy, right interpretation of the Word, and right and proper praise [that] underpin Christian ecclesial life” is not up for grabs, is not some human invention, but it must nonetheless be recognized and embraced by the human followers of Christ within the church. Conciliar life undergirds covenant not because councils and their members do not “err”; just the opposite. Conciliar life undergirds covenant because it is the formal agency of the erring Church’s act of constant re-conversion to the truth. It does not supersede the truth; it apprehends it within the historical life of the Church, which includes her many failures. Is there a place in this – and not simply a possible place but even a necessary place – for learning from the Global South? For all the failures and continuing failures, I believe this is already happening, precisely through these conciliar structures that have been emerging over the past few years. In this sense, the “status quo” is not so much being calcified as it is, in its uncovering of its authentic roots and purposes, being transformed.

albany bishop jumps to CANA

Our bishop suffragan, David Bena, has announced his transfer to the Province of Nigeria under Archbishop Akinola, to minister to CANA alongside Bp. Martyn Minns. This is, of course, quite understandable: he had intended to retire as of Feb. 1st anyway, so instead of that he simply transferred to Nigeria. His wife, similarly fed up with TEC, became Roman Catholic recently. I have the greatest respect for Bp. Bena and his work in our diocese. Local press coverage, usually slanted against our diocese, was fair (read it here). Bp. Bena's move was not entirely unexpected, but all we had to go on was rumor. The only worries that I see being expressed by other leaders in this diocese are hopes that this move will not contribute to division in the church in general. I don't think it will. Some may take it as, if you will, a rodent fleeing a sinking ship - why should they stay in TEC if the man who led them gets the heck out of dodge as soon as his obligations are up? If it was ok for him while he led us, why not now? I don't see it that way: he had a call and an opportunity to minister in a different context, but still within the Anglican Communion. It's just as if he transferred to, say, our sister diocese of Down and Dromore, Northern Ireland. The move ought not to be seen as a repudiation of the diocese of Albany's catholicism, even as part of TEC, and Bp. Bena makes that clear in his letter to Bp. Love. The only caveat that can be offered is that the Province in which Bena now serves is in impaired communion with TEC but not, I think, with the faithful dioceses within TEC.
It remains to be seen what will happen if TEC's bishops do, in fact, acquiesce to the Primates' demands, and CANA comes under the Primatial Vicar. In that case, Bp. Bena would not in fact be in any manner of impaired communion with TEC or the diocese. It may be this hope that has led to his choice of timing.
All told, I'll miss him and envy CANA. They're getting one heck of a bishop.

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Below is a letter I recently received from Bishop Bena. At his request, I am forwarding it to you. As you will read in the letter, Bishop Bena, in faithful obedience to his understanding of God’s call, has transferred to the House of Bishops of Nigeria, where he has been received by Archbishop Peter Akinola. He will be working with the Rt. Rev. Martyn Minns, as a Missionary Bishop of CANA.

We are grateful to Bishop Bena for his many years of faithful service to our Lord and His Church, as Bishop Suffragan of the Diocese of Albany. We were richly blessed by him. We now wish Bishop Bena all God’s blessing as he answers this new call.
Faithfully Yours in Christ,
+William H. Love

Read the Letter from Bishop Bena here.

on confessions and penance

From Arturo Vasquez. Scroll down past the Lope de Vega and Longfellow poems. Not sure I agree with him entirely, in the end. But he writes beautifully, convincingly, and anyway I'm at least 90% on board. I guess the point is: its beautiful.

Monday, March 05, 2007

the pb's address the other night

A few days ago Schori addressed ECUSA via a webcast orchestrated by Trinity, Wall Street, the richest church in the world. Watch the whole hour-long thing here, if you can bear it. There is also a transcript of Schori's opening remarks (the first fifteen minutes or so of the whole thing) here.

Some people I love and respect found Schori's remarks encouraging. I don't share that sentiment.

First of all, and perhaps most distressingly, given yet another opportunity to clarify her attitude to Jesus being "the way, the truth, and the life" (with the definite article), Schori again affirmed that she believes Jesus' rightful place to be in the pantheon of pagan gods, one among many equally true (though mutually exclusive... how does that work exactly?) ways to what she calls "the divine." Schori emphatically asserts:

"Jesus is not the only way to the cross."

I think this statement is too absurd even to be false. What could she possibly mean? Without Jesus, the cross is just a tree. Trees are great. They provide oxygen and shade; you can build houses out of them; they provide a home for birds; some of them bear tasty fruit or nuts. But they don't save you from sin and death. Only ONE TREE, according to the universal witness of our two-thousand years of teaching, offers salvation. And the ONLY REASON it saves is because on it Jesus Christ, uniquely perfect God and perfect man, gave his uniquely divine life for us in uniquely perfect obedience to the only eternal Father. ONLY CHRIST is capable of this perfect obedience (cf. Hebrews 5.8). The cross without Him is totally lifeless and frankly uninteresting. Forget about women's ordination. As far as I'm concerned, Schori can't be a bishop because she's not a believer.

Next Schori hints at the reason she is interested in staying in the Anglican Communion: because doing so holds out the possibility of "converting" the whole Communion to ECUSA's detestable enormities:

"Conversion of understanding," she says, "is the most essential piece of what we're about."

As far as I could tell there was, by contrast, no humility on Schori's part, to say nothing of regret as requested by the Windsor Report. I mean to say, one would expect that innovators within the Church ought to be willing to admit that they could be wrong. After all, that is the whole point of apostolic councils, the sensus fidelium, etc. "New things" (and liberals have assured us that "the Spirit" is doing just such a "new thing" in ECUSA) will be confirmed by the Holy Spirit through such avenues. That's how it has always been. In Acts 15, when a dispute rose up about whether Gentile converts to Christianity had to be circumcised and keep the Law of Moses, Paul and Barnabas were sent to Jerusalem to ask the the Apostles and Elders. The Apostles and Elders, under their Primate (who by the way was James, not Peter), decided the question, and all agreed to be bound by their verdict.

This is what must happen in Anglicanism. We all must agree to be bound by the verdict of our Apostles and Elders in council. Since there has been an Anglican Communion, this has been the operative assumption. The problem, as has been brought to the fore by ECUSA's actions at the General Conventions of 2003 and 2006, is that this has only been an assumption, it hasn't been explicit (thus the need for a Covenant -- more on this matter anon). What has happened in our case is that ECUSA has gone to our Apostles and Elders (for example at Lambeth 1998) about the question of whether Christians with a homosexual orientation must keep the Church's discipline with regard to sexual activity. The Apostles and elders have given judgment on this matter, and ECUSA (unlike the Christians at Antioch in Acts 15) have refused to be governed by the Godly judgment of our Apostles and elders.

Lastly, a very disturbing statement that belies ECUSA's good faith in the councils of the Communion, Schori says about ECUSA's stance: "we are called to pause, but not to go backward." It seems to me that both repentance and the moratoria called for by Windsor, Dromantine, and now Dar es Salaam, require backing up a few steps. If ECUSA is so intractable, if she will not conform her life and practice to Anglican doctrine on principle (which I understand actually: for liberals this is a matter of principle), then why insist on remaining in the Communion? What's the point? You're bringing everyone down! As Schori has said with regard to "dissident" dioceses within ECUSA, it makes more sense that ECUSA should depart from the Communion in peace. ECUSA and the Communion have different doctrines and different practices. What basis is there for unity? Why insist on it without foundation? On this point I agree with the liberal activists.

how deacons are made

I was honored to be at Texanglican's ordination to the diaconate (pictured at left - thats Tex with hands on his head) this past Saturday in Fort Worth. You can see videos of it here at All Too Common. Many blessings in your ministry Deacon Foster. I'm very happy to have you as a fellow soldier.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

time will tell

Here's a little interesting reading from VirtueOnline's archives. It's an article written for VOL's e-digest dated June 7, 2003 - that's just after Gene Robinson's election in NH (which took place two months before GC03). Robinson's election is only one of several inflammatory events that took place that Summer, and we sometimes forget the others. One was the appointment, by ABC Williams, of Jeffrey John to be Bishop of Reading in the UK. Dr. John professed to be a celibate gay man, and he later resigned his see to prevent becoming a cause of division. Another inflammatory event was, of course, the approval of rites for same-sex blessings in the Diocese of New Westminster, Canada by Bp. Ingham. According to Virtue, Bp. Bennison of Central PA had done the same thing months before, and one of his priests underwent such a ceremony with his partner.

Already, two months before GC03, 14 of the Primates had issued a fiery statement about Bp. Ingham's actions, Archbishop Akinola had spoken out against both ABC Williams' appointment to the see of Reading and Bp. Ingham's actions, Bp. Duncan had released a fine statement about Robinson's election, the entire province of South East Asia declared broken communion with the diocese of New Westminster, 13 Canadian bishops condemned the developments in New Westminster, ABC Williams condemned (very politely) the developments in New Westminster, and the Primates meeting in Gramado, Brazil, noted and approved of ABC Williams' condemnation of the New Westminster affair. So we see that all of the conflict we experience today in the Communion had begun months before GC03, much of it even before the election in NH. Bp. Robinson's election, GC03's consent, and Griswold's steaming ahead with the consecration all added fuel to the fire that was already burning.

Conversations were already under weigh toward an Anglican Covenant. ABC Williams, in a letter to the primates dated 23 July, still before GC03, says this:

At our meeting in Brazil, the question was raised as to whether we really wanted to be a Communion, or just a federation of local churches; and the feeling of that meetings was very strongly that we wanted to be much more than a federation.
But what does it mean to be a Communion rather than a federation? It means that provinces recognise each other as true churches of Christ, so that the apostolic ministry of one local church can be exercised freely in another local church. It means that we have ways of being accountable to each other, so that decisions in any one local church are not taken without consultation and awareness of the consequences a decision may have for other churches. It means that we regard our unity as more than a matter of human agreement, more even than a matter of doctrinal uniformity; we see it as something rooted in the Word of God who is active both through our reading and hearing of Scripture and in our performance of the sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion.

Clearly, TEC has no excuse for having breached the bonds of Anglican affection. We had two months' notice, at least. 'Regret' really is inadequate; 'repentance' is needed, but there's slim chance of that. Everything that is now to be enshrined in the Covenant was clearly articulated before GC03, but our leaders and representatives didn't take their responsibilities as Anglicans seriously. This was no sin of ignorance. The problem really is TEC's arrogance, willfulness, and willingness to sacrifice Anglican charity for 'prophetic', progressive innovations in Christian sexual morals. We chose in 03, having already been warned, to be a gay church above being an Anglican church. GC06 was our second chance. Now the primates have given us a third, with a deadline of September 07. Presuming nominal cooperation at least, GC09's approach to the Covenant will be a fourth chance. Whatever the vices of those orthodox who have jumped TEC's ship already, impatience is not one of them. Will TEC, under PB Jefferts Schori, finally choose the Communion over its 'prophetic' social justice stance? Time will tell.

progress on the MDG's in TEC's executive council

From ENS: Read the whole thing here. There are three things about this that I think are good:

1. Our church is willing to put a million dollars of its money where its mouth is to help those who need it. Nothing wrong with that - quite the contrary, this is a gospel mission. And the MDG's, for all their faults, aren't too bad a way to define, on a global scale, the Gospel imperative to do alms.

2. Instead of this being a faceless contribution by our denominational representatives, they want to use TEC's million-dollar commitment to stimulate personal giving among Episcopalians. Hopefully this will help us all live the lifestyle of generosity and charity that Jesus enjoins upon us. Just like a good ol' tithing sermon in the parish - again, nothing wrong with that.

3. Although ERD has its problems (most notably the creation of a conflict of interest in Global South Anglicans who condemned the actions of GC03 on the one hand but who relied on TEC's deep pockets on the other), and although I wish they were including ARDF in this commitment -- still, at least it's not all going to the UN, as if giving to the UN constituted mission. Plus, that place leaks money like a sieve. (And btw, ARDF includes the MDG's on their homepage as part of their mission, too. Pity the two funds can't cooperate.)

Three task forces made reports to the Executive Council on March 2. One group proposed a resolution for a Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) Inspiration Fund, using the $924,000 MDG line item in the church's budget.
That money would be used to match contributions to build a $3 million budget for anti-malaria projects by Episcopal Relief and Development (ERD), Jubilee Ministries and the Episcopal Church through the Executive Council.
ERD, which would manage the fundraising efforts, would identify additional contributions to bring the $924,000 amount up to $1 million in order to "seed the fund" and then individuals, congregations and dioceses would be encouraged to contribute $2 million.
The proposed resolution would allocate $2 million to ERD's work with the "NetsforLife" initiative in Africa, with a possible similar pilot project in Asia. The other $1 million would be allocated to initiatives in Latin America and the Caribbean.

from ens: a conversation with presiding bishop katharine jefferts schori

Read the full text here. On the whole, her summary of the situation is quite fair. I was surprised. Of course, being a progressive, she fails to grasp the central point that some ideas actually do contradict each other, and the traditionalist/progressive ideas of Christian sexuality do just that. And she's got her Anglican history wrong AGAIN: the Elizabethan settlement was much more intolerant a period than is stereotypically portrayed. Where'd that woman go to seminary?

Saturday, March 03, 2007

this is fantastic

I was at St. Andrew's-in-the-Pines, south of Atlanta, for Christmas Eve mass. Read below what they have done.

I have to say: well done. This is edifying and courageous. I wish all the orthodox would rather suffer wrong than be sucked by ECUSA into lawsuits before secular courts. ECUSA has clearly given up attempting to edify anyone and cares more about property and money than about God's law. But we don't have to play by their rules. Thank you dear brothers and sisters in Peachtree City. You are living in God's power.

I will not criticize parishes (such as the CANA parishes in Virginia) for defending themselves in civil courts. But I
will praise others for not defending themselves.

"Do not resist one who is evil... if any one would sue you and take your coat, let him have your cloak as well... " (Matthew 5.39-40)

"To have lawsuits at all with one another is defeat for you. Why not rather suffer wrong? Why not rather be defrauded? But you yourselves wrong and defraud, and that even your own brethren." (1 Corinthians 6.7-8)

"God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise, God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong..." (1 Corinthians 1.27)


Atlanta: New Anglican church severs ties with Peachtree City's St. Andrew's

By John Munford, from The Citizen

A congregation that split away from the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta is dropping its legal claims to any of the property from its former church, St. Andrew’s-in-the-Pines in Peachtree City.

Instead, the newly-christened Anglican Church of Fayette County will meet temporarily at Huddleston Elementary School for the time being, with a few services slated for the nearby Gathering Place senior citizen’s center, said parishioner Fred Burdeshaw.

The previous week’s service was shared by both the new Anglican church and those who elected to stay with St. Andrew’s-in-the-Pines Episcopal Church as they met together side-by-side.

The Anglican Church of Fayette County celebrated its inaugural service at the Gathering Place Sunday with 125 members celebrating Holy Communion with Canon David Anderson of the Convocation of Anglicans in North America.

Anglican Church leaders said they split away from the Episcopal Diocese because of concerns over the “increasingly liberal interpretation of scripture.” The church tried to work with the Episcopal Diocese to settle property issues, as only one of three parcels on the St. Andrews campus is actually deeded to the diocese, but those efforts were ultimately abandoned, Burdeshaw said.

Georgia law tends to favor established churches like the Episcopal Diocese in these types of cases, Burdeshaw said.

Instead, the decision was to abandon any potential conflict, and “we were better off to walk away, which is disappointing but reality,” Burdeshaw said.

The church is limited in the amount of dates it can rent the Gathering Place but has reserved it for Palm Sunday and Easter services, Burdeshaw said.

Nationwide, similar Episcopal congregations have also faced the growing issue of scripture interpretation, particularly in light of the national Episcopal Church appointing an openly gay bishop in 2003. Such actions have created a theological schism between those who wish for the scripture to be interpreted more traditionally and those who support the current church leadership.

Friday, March 02, 2007

democracy rears its ugly head

Jack Miles in the New York Times has this to say about the Anglican-Episcopal crisis:

Numerically, the 2.3 million Episcopalians do not loom large among 77 million Anglicans. Symbolically, however, given the global importance of the United States, the departure of the Americans will leave the archbishop exposed as a quasi-colonial, quasi-papal figurehead heading a church made up, anachronistically, of Britain and her mostly African and Asian former colonies. This will be an awkward state of affairs, and portends further fissures along the same logic that underlies the impending departure of the Americans.

Read it all here, but I warn you, it's nothing more than the usual Marxist-historicist blather that the gasbags on the left like to spew forth occassionally.