Wednesday, February 28, 2007

into great silence

I have been itching to see this since I first heard about it. The New Liturgical Movement has held out the possibility of offering the DVD to those interested. It seems to be the end of their interest-gathering time period. I urge you, if you are interested, to inform them of the fact.

jim naughton's response to canon harmon's response to jim naughton: this is absurd

Read Naughton's response in its entirety here. Read Canon Harmon's piece, to which Naughton is responding, here. Essentially Naughton is asserting that the Dar es Salaam Communique was made intentionally ambiguous in order to preserve the "status quo" (Naughton's phrase) in the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion.

Naughton avers:

My own sense... is that ambiguous language is employed deliberately by those who perfect that [sic] final versions of these documents so that a “unanimous statement” can be released that keeps the Communion together long enough to argue another day.


Obviously, if Williams expects us to ban blessings (and then police the ban), Bishop Jefferts Schori will have a much harder time persuading our Church to accept the Primates’ recommendations than if Williams simply expects us to maintain what is essentially the status quo.

Good grief. This is patently absurd. As though ambiguity in the service of disagreement (what liberals often and speciously call "Anglican comprehensiveness") were the raison d'être of the Church. If the Communion exists so that the world can see our disagreement and disunity, then the sooner it falls apart the better. Naughton would do well to remember the Primates' statement in paragraph 21 of the Communique:

However, secondly, we believe that there remains a lack of clarity about the stance of The Episcopal Church, especially its position on the authorisation of Rites of Blessing for persons living in same-sex unions. There appears to us to be an inconsistency between the position of General Convention and local pastoral provision. We recognise that the General Convention made no explicit resolution about such Rites and in fact declined to pursue resolutions which, if passed, could have led to the development and authorisation of them. However, we understand that local pastoral provision is made in some places for such blessings. It is the ambiguous stance of The Episcopal Church which causes concern among us.

Compare the nonsensical celebration of ambiguity and argument with our Lord's own prayer in John 17, where he explicitly links his gift of unity to truth in Apostolic doctrine in such a way that the world may see and be compelled by it. If ECUSA ambiguity and the disunity it fosters are so compelling, then why are we leaking members like a sieve in the face of enormous increases in the secular population? And don't cite horse hockey, as Schori has attempted to do, about our comparatively low birth rates. The Lord didn't bestow his unity so that we could maintain ourselves (even this we can't seem to manage), but so that we could bring in those outside the economy of salvation, the so-called "unchurched".

People tempted to deceive themselves into thinking that the Communique means to allow ECUSA to continue its practices which are at variance with Christian teaching as received by the Communion (what Naughton calls "the status quo") would do well to ask themselves 1) whether the Communion's visible unity is in jeopardy, and if so 2) why its in jeopardy. If they really believe that ECUSA can continue tacitly authorized practices at odds with the Communion's doctrine without deepening this crisis, they are delusional.

my catholic quiz results

I took this twice and twice got the same results, so I suppose they must be accurate. I was so sure I'd be "New Catholic" or "Evangelical Catholic":

You scored as Traditional Catholic. You look at the great piety and holiness of the Church before the Second Vatican Council and the decay of belief and practice since then, and see that much of the decline is due to failed reforms based on the "Spirit of the Council". You regret the loss of vast numbers of Religious and Ordained clergy and the widely diverging celebrations of the Mass of Pope Paul VI, which often don't even seem to be Catholic anymore. You are helping to rebuild this past culture in one of the many new Traditional Latin Mass communities or attend Eastern Catholic Divine Liturgy. You seek refuge from the world of pornography, recreational drugs, violence, and materialism. You are an articulate, confident, committed, and intelligent Catholic.

But do you support legitimate reform of the Church, and are you willing to submit to the directives of the Second Vatican Council? Will you cooperate responsibly with others who are not part of the Traditional community? - Rome of the West

Traditional Catholic


Evangelical Catholic


New Catholic


Neo-Conservative Catholic


Radical Catholic


Liberal Catholic


Lukewarm Catholic


What is your style of American Catholicism?
created with

on serving at the altar


Having served hundreds and hundreds of low Masses, sung Masses, Solemn High Masses, etc., I can say that they have changed me as a human being. And I only learned to serve when I was twenty-one. When you serve in the old rite, you have to take on another persona. It is the most self-emptying and transformative experience you can go through, at least if you take it seriously. The way I was taught, you always have your hands folded, you always look down, each step is subtle and measured, and all movements are supposed to be slow and elegant. When you are before the throne of God, you should act like it. This act grafts you into the continuous worship of God that has gone on since before time began, as it goes on in heaven continuously, and as our ancestors prayed before us. This is the ultimate democracy of the dead (to quote Chesterton): that we should continue to worship as they did, emptying ourselves of our own modern ideas of how worship and religion should be.

Liturgy is gravely serious business, but the paradox is that this is what makes it so fun. Children will often behave like angels for their parents because they know that their parents like it that way. They may be little devils most of the time, but when they know they should behave, they can do it on cue and earn even more appreciation from their parents for their efforts. This is how I feel when I serve Mass. Yes, I am a dissipated, foul-mouthed, hypocritical, uncouth runaway ex-monk. But at least I can be angelic in front of God for twenty five minutes on a Wednesday evening. It is my way of trying to show God that I might not be such a terrible scoundrel after all. It is my poor attempt at the widow’s mite.

And when it is done right, when it is true rational service mixed with humility and bodily motion, a low Mass can be even more beautiful than a starry sky, a craggy sea shore, or a snow covered mountain that shoots up into the clouds. This is what we are here for, it is our eternal vocation: to serve, to dance, and to be joyful before the throne of the Lamb. Ecce Agnus Dei…..

Read it all here.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

my catholic quiz results

This is via All Too Common and Texanglican. Here are my results. Apparently I am 311% Catholic. Hahaha! Take that Fr Kimel!

I don't know what these categories really mean. What's a "New Catholic"? Or a "Radical Catholic"? Etc. Also, I don't really think of myself as having an immature faith. Perhaps that's a sign of the immaturity of my faith...?
You scored as New Catholic. The years following the Second Vatican Council was a time of collapse of the Catholic faith and its traditions. But you are a young person who has rediscovered this lost faith, probably due to the evangelization of Pope John Paul II. You are enthusiastic, refreshing, and somewhat traditional, and you may be considering a vocation to the priesthood or religious life. You reject relativism and the decline in society that you see among your peers. You are seen as being good for the Church.

A possible problem is that you may have a too narrow a view of orthodoxy, and anyway, you are still a youth and not yet mature in your faith. - Rome of the West

New Catholic


Traditional Catholic


Radical Catholic


Neo-Conservative Catholic


Evangelical Catholic


Liberal Catholic


Lukewarm Catholic


What is your style of American Catholicism?
created with

not encouraging

In light of the Dar es Salaam Communique's request that all civil litigation between and among ECUSA entities be halted because it is fundamentally anti-Christian, the Presiding Bishop's Chancellor, David Booth Beers, has responded with clarity to attorneys asking whether ECUSA's suits against dissenting parishes in Virginia would, in fact, cease:

[Episcopal News Service] Lawyers for the Episcopal Church have told two attorneys representing some of the 11 Diocese of Virginia congregations involved in a legal dispute over possession of church property that "there is no basis at this time" to put that litigation on hold.


In their February 26 reply, David Booth Beers, chancellor to Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, and his colleague Heather H. Anderson, first reminded the two attorneys that the Anglican Communion is a federation and not a "juridical or legislative body."

Thus, they wrote, it "has no legal authority over the affairs of its members."

Indeed. I don't, however, think anyone was suggesting that the Communion does have any legal authrotiy over the affairs of its members. On the other hand, the Primates do have moral and doctrinal authority. Whether ECUSA recognizes that fact is another matter. The actual question being put to Schori, Beers, et al., was: Are you and your clients going to do what is right? Is your behavior in the civil arena going to be in accordance with God's law?

Clearly not. But thanks for being clear.

Read it all at Stand Firm.

Monday, February 26, 2007

presiding bishop briefs 815 staff on the primates' meeting

From ENS here.

This is, to my mind, most remarkable. For all those of us who heard the Mother Jesus sermon after the PB's election and who have since despaired of any moderation in her hard-charging, MDG-espousing, let's-just-forget-the-theology-and-get-on-with-the-[progressive]-mission persona, this briefing represents a huge turnaround for PB Schori. She sounds meek, tired, submissive, especially in the MP3 version available here from ENS; convinced, as perhaps PB Griswold may have been before her (though we're still not quite sure) that communion with Canterbury may indeed trump her gospel of radical inclusion. She's on the brink of becoming a Rowan Williams, at least temporarily, willing to hide her ideals for the sake of Anglican unity. Here are the most significant statements:

She told the gathering that the Episcopal Church is called to ensure that the conversation about the inclusion of gays and lesbians in the church continues in the Communion.
“It is part of our mission as a church,” she said. “This conversation that has been going on for at least 40 years is not going away. God keeps bringing it back to us.”
Jefferts Schori said that she understands that some people feel that the primates’ recommendations are a “hard and bitter pill for many of us to talk about swallowing.” But, she said, worldwide attitudes about the inclusion of gay and lesbian people are changing and “I don’t expect that to end.”
“We’re being asked to pause in the journey. We are not being asked to go back,” she said. “Time and history are with this Church.”

She wants us to stay at the table?! Knuckle under to the primates for now, and hope that the Lambeth 1.10 listening process will eventually enable TEC to convert the entire Communion to our way of thinking? The progressives won't be happy with this. Prophetic victory was in their grasp, and has their champion given up?

Jefferts Schori said “I ache for the pain that this communiqué is causing to people in our own church who see issues of justice as absolutely central, because I share that view. I also hunger for a vision of the world where people with vastly different opinions can sit at the same table and worship at the same table because I think that eventually that is how all of us are converted.”
She said that her understanding of the Body of Christ is that “none of us can say that we have no need of you.” She acknowledged that “we don’t always like the people God gives us.”

It sounds like conversion is more important to her than the prophetic stand of "those who see issues of justice as absolutely central." Even the rhetoric of placement of these two clauses belies her: traditionally the 'clincher' comes last -- that the 'issues of justice' would come before the sitting at the table with those we don't like shows that she holds the latter more closely. What happened in Tanzania to cause this about-face? Was she surprised at the vigor of opposition to TEC's innovations? Or did someone get to her with gentleness and personal acceptance? Has she herself been 'converted'?

“We have a very, very long way to go in raising awareness so that reason can become an equal partner in the discussion with scripture and tradition,” she said. “I think that that is one of the gifts that this church has to give to the world.”

Heh heh. Is THAT what Hooker meant when he wrote, “What Scripture doth plainly deliver, to that first place both of credit and obedience is due; the next whereunto is whatsoever any man can necessarily conclude by force of reason; after these the voice of the Church succeedeth. That which the Church by her ecclesiastical authority shall probably think and define to be true or good, must in congruity of reason over-rule all other inferior judgments whatsoever” ( Laws, Book V, 8:2; Folger Edition 2:39,8-14)." (More here).

“The reality, I believe, is that the Archbishop of Canterbury will respect whatever the primates decide, whether or not that accurately reflects the polity of the Anglican Communion,” Jefferts Schori said.

I ask again, who's pulling the strings in the Communion these days? I'm beginning to think there was a major revolution in Tanzania. 'Course, it was a long time in coming.

“I don’t know if our church is ready to say to the rest of the Communion what’s been asked of us. I don’t know that,” she said. “I do know that if we’re removed from a place where we can speak to the rest of the Communion, we’re going to lose that advantage of being there at the table to challenge views like that.”


During a question-and-answer session following her statement, Jefferts Schori said that the primates’ plan for a primatial vicar is similar to one she and other bishops proposed last November—with the addition of an accompanying supervisory pastoral council. “What is different is a structure of accountability,” she said, but she called that structure “manageable,” noting that she would appoint some of the council’s members and must consent to the choice of the vicar. She said that a “saving grace” of the primatial vicar proposal is that it would eventually end the incursion of other primates into the Episcopal Church.

She rolled over much faster on this one than Griswold would have. It sounds like she's swallowed the Primates' plan whole hog, while her own will be forgotten. This is a new administration, folks.

She said that the House of Bishops can answer the requests made by the primates. . . . While the bishops can indeed agree to do those things, Jefferts Schori said, “whether they have the will to do that, I don’t know.” Very few of the bishops are interested in acting “unilaterally,” she added.

So let us hear no blogger vainly babble that the Primates have asked the HoB to do something it doesn't have the ability to do. Even our own PB has admitted it.

“I know where my heart lies and it’s in a divided place,” she said, explaining that she hungers to affirm the place of gays and lesbians in the church and she hungers to “see this body reconciled.”
“In my better moments, I firmly hope and pray that these things are not diametrically opposed.”

The PB we elected in June of 06 was not so conflicted. Something has happened. Something has changed in her heart and mind. She's now more tightly bound to the Anglican Communion than she seemed before, and less to the agenda of radical inclusion. Which will win out in the end? God only knows. But regardless, a wonder has been worked in Tanzania, a mountain moved.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

religion: the hourly regimen of prayers that monks have followed for centuries is spreading beyond monasteries

From St. Benedict's Parish website.

By John Rivera
Baltimore Sun Staff

*O Lord, open my lips

And my mouth shall declare your praise. *

For centuries, monks have mouthed these words as they begin their daily
regimen of prayer in the pre-dawn hours. The Liturgy of the Hours --
Psalms and prayers recited at set hours -- fixed the rhythm of their
day, from rising to rest.

Also called the Divine Office, the prayers have for the most part been
the preserve of Roman Catholic priests, deacons, nuns and brothers.

But the Office is being discovered by Catholic lay people, such as those
who gather every day for Morning Prayer at St. Clement Mary Hofbauer
parish in Rosedale, or for Evening Prayer at * St. Benedict parish* in
Southwest Baltimore.

Protestants say they, too, are finding spiritual inspiration in coming
together -- or in seeking solitude -- to recite the prayers known by
Latin titles such as Lauds, Vespers or Compline.

For the average person, picking up a breviary, the prayerbook used in
the Office, is a daunting experience. A half dozen colored ribbons mark
the sections one must flip between during the prayer's various parts.

In response to the increasing popularity of the Divine Office, about a
half dozen books have recently been published or are soon to hit print.
The cyber world is weighing in, too, with such Internet sites as and springing up.

"I think there is a clear need, there's a hunger for Christian
spirituality, Christian spiritual discipline," said Phyllis Tickle, the
Publisher's Weekly religion editor who is compiling her own breviary,
"The Divine Hours." Her first volume, "Prayers for Summertime," was
released last month.

"We've gone from the ooey gooey to the importing to Christianity of
disciplines from other faiths," said Tickle, whose watch alarm reminds
her three times a day to pick up her prayer book. "Now, we have stumbled
on the fact that some Christians would like to know what their spiritual
traditions are."

Bonnie Shannonhouse has been traveling the world for six years to teach
the Liturgy of the Hours to Protestant women -- Anglicans like herself,
but also mainline Protestants, evangelicals, Pentecostals and

"When I discovered [the Hours], it pained me that the Protestants threw
the baby out with the bath water at the Reformation," said Shannonhouse
of North Baltimore.

She has written two versions of the Hours for lay people, which she
calls "The Lost Coin" series, after Jesus' parable in the Gospels about
the person who rejoices on a precious find. The Hours offer a bridge
between what she calls the liturgical churches, such as Catholics and
Anglicans, and the non-liturgical, evangelical Christians.

"We've lost a spiritual coin in our Christian hearts, and we rejoice
because it is now found," she said. "It's breaking down barriers and
prejudices and hatreds that have existed for the last 500 years."

Robert Benson, who was raised in the Nazarene Church, later became a
Methodist and now worships as an Episcopalian, has prayed the Hours
since he was introduced to them a decade ago.

"Because of my evangelical background, all I knew about prayer was the
kind of extemporaneous, conversational prayer that's most common, almost
exclusively used in evangelical settings," said Benson, who has written
his own simplified Office, "Venite, a Book of Daily Prayer."

"I didn't know anything about corporate prayer, daily prayer, monastic
prayer," he said. "This was prayer that was not dependent on my
eloquence or my spiritual depth at a given point in time. It required
simply faithfulness, not always an easy thing to do."

The benefit to praying at fixed hours is that "it keeps our focus on God
during the day," said Etta Patton, who says morning prayer at St.
Clement Mary Hofbauer and evening prayer by herself. "You take that time
to stop the busyness of the day, all the distractions."

The practice of the Office is rooted in the Jewish tradition of fixed
hours of prayer and receives its Christian inspiration from St. Paul's
admonition to "pray without ceasing."

By the fourth century, monastic communities had set apart specific parts
of the day for prayer, and between the fifth and the ninth centuries,
the Office developed its form of eight hours: Matins and Lauds in the
early morning; the Little Hours during the day of Prime (the first hour,
before dawn); Terce (the third hour, 9 a.m.), Sext (the sixth hour,
noon) and None (the ninth hour, 3 p.m.); and the evening and night
prayers of Vespers and Compline.

Though monks can devote their entire day to prayer, the Christian in the
world usually chooses a portion of the Office: just morning prayer or
Vespers, or maybe just the Little Hours of Terce, Sext and None (Prime
has been dropped).

Although the Office can include prayers, hymns and religious readings,
the recitation of the Psalms is at its heart. They are recited or sung
and are done in an antiphonal style, with one side of the congregation
taking one strophe or stanza while the other listens, and then reversing

Dale Dombrosky discovered the Office when she stopped at * St. Benedict's*
in 1990. "I was going through a particularly hard time in my life, and
the Psalms really spoke to me. Sometimes, they express praise, sometimes
petition, sometimes anger. It's like a real conversation with God," she

"To me, this was a healing for me, to be able to speak to the Lord like
that," she said. "That's how I came back to the church. Really, the
Liturgy of the Hours has been a saving prayer for me."

Many who recite the Office have a sense of participating in a cosmic
wave of prayer. "It's not just us here. People around the world are
saying these same prayers," said Nancy Cappellini, who often drives from
her Owings Mills home to morning prayer at St. Clement Mary Hofbauer in

"You feel like you're in union with the whole church."

Originally published on Apr 12 2000

Thursday, February 22, 2007

on the primates' key recommendations

For the full Communique and Recommendations, read here.

First, note that their proposal is for "an an interim response . . . in the period until the Covenant is secured." (paragraph 30) It is the Covenant that they hope will ultimately solve this problem and give the Communion a way to handle such problems again if they ever arise. It remains to be seen whether the Covenant design process can come up with a document that reliably is able to do that.

"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. "

This Pastoral Council acts on behalf of the primates, not on behalf of the ABC. Who's calling the shots in the Communion these days? Clearly, the primates are. I think ABC Williams abdicated the traditional role of ABC (WWLD - What would Laud do?) when he waffled on Gene Robinson. Williams has not exercised the authority he could have, so the Primates have filled the gap. Or restored the breach. In this climate of rapid change in the ecclesiastical structures of the Communion, I lament (as Whitehall has heard me do before) that so little appeal has been made to the Fathers. We began morphing with the Virginia report, but GC03 and the Windsor Report have accelerated and even directed the metamorphoses. Whatever happens, the Anglican Communion in 2010 will not look, structurally, anything like it did at the turn of the 19th century. These are historic years.

The Primates recommend "the Pastoral Council and the Presiding Bishop invite the bishops expressing a commitment to “the Camp Allen principles”, or as otherwise determined by the Pastoral Council, to participate in the pastoral scheme; 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.

So this Pastoral Scheme would apply only to the Camp Allen bishops, and only at a diocesan level (so far). Provision could be made for AMiA and other groups who wish to be included. Note who nominates the PV - NOT the PB, nor the ABC, but the Camp Allen Bishops themselves. This is clearly NOT what PB Schori had in mind when she first suggested it. She and the other TEC bishops who worked on the proposal wanted the appointment to be made by the PB in consultation with the ABC, and the Primatial Vicar to be responsible to the PB only. No primates involved. Again I ask, who's pulling the strings in the Communion these days?

"Once this scheme of pastoral care is recognised to be fully operational, the Primates undertake to end all interventions. Congregations or parishes in current arrangements will negotiate their place within the structures of pastoral oversight set out above."

So would TEC be better off with many small interventions or one big one? The interven-ers are only interested in what works - one scheme is as good as another, if the people are getting legitimate pastoral care. As far as the primates are concerned, if TEC doesn't like a million small interventions, they can choose one big one; but intevention there will be, because faithful people are crying out for deliverance. You could say it's a matter of social justice.

"In particular, the Primates request, through the Presiding Bishop, that the House of Bishops of The Episcopal Church 1. make an unequivocal common covenant that the bishops will not authorise any Rite of Blessing for same-sex unions in their dioceses or through General Convention (cf TWR, §143, 144); and2. confirm that the passing of Resolution B033 of the 75th General Convention means that a candidate for episcopal orders living in a same-sex union shall not receive the necessary consent (cf TWR, §134);unless some new consensus on these matters emerges across the Communion (cf TWR, §134).

What's most important about these two requests is, I think, that the HoB is not being asked to do anything it can't do. The primates are not misunderstanding American polity. Instead, they're doing a remarkable job of translating American polity into answers that other provinces with other polities can accept. What they're asking is for the HoB to 1. bind their own conduct by resolution of their own house; and 2. give their considered interpretation, as a house, of Resolution B033. If the former happens, will bishops who break their word be liable for presentment? They should be, but I doubt our PB will prosecute. As regards the latter, the primates want to know what TEC's intention is, and they're asking the HoB to interpret an ambiguous resolution. Do the American bishops believe that B033 is Windsor Compliant? They're not asking the bishops to control the consent votes of their own standing committees or undermine the prerogatives of the HoDep. They're asking for an interpretaton, hoping for a show of good-faith. The reason the primates asked the HoB for this is that that's the traditional catholic synod that all the other Anglican polities recognize. A synod is supposed to be made up of bishops, not of lay or clergy. The fact that TEC allows lay and clergy to participate is cute, but we've got to translate their words into a traditional, catholic ecclesiological language that can be understood everywhere.

"The Primates request that the answer of the House of Bishops is conveyed to the Primates by the Presiding Bishop by 30th September 2007.If the reassurances requested of the House of Bishops cannot in good conscience be given, the relationship between The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion as a whole remains damaged at best, and this has consequences for the full participation of the Church in the life of the Communion."

This is the threat clause. The details will be spelled out in the Covenant design process. As for timing, it seems like the Primates want all the ducks in a row in time for Lambeth. They seem to be willing to relenquish the power they've taken up for Lambeth, but not for the ABC. My, how things have changed. I think the Primates as a rule hold a much more catholic ecclesiology than we in TEC do, or many at Lambeth Palace do, I think -- namely, that local synods report to ecumenical councils -- the Anglican version of which is provincial synods reporting to Lambeth. The problem is that Lambeth has always been clear that it exercises only advisory authority and does NOT constitute a church council, nor can it decree with authority in matters of doctrine. That's why even Lambeth 1.10 is only a statement of the mind of the Communion, not a binding doctrinal law. To my mind, all these are weaknesses that make us less catholic as a communion than we ought to be. But they are traditional. Sigh.

"The Primates urge the representatives of The Episcopal Church and of those congregations in property disputes with it to suspend all actions in law arising in this situation. We also urge both parties to give assurances that no steps will be taken to alienate property from The Episcopal Church without its consent or to deny the use of that property to those congregations."

Easy for them to say. What would this look like on the ground in, say, Connecticut? They've asked a lot of the bishops themselves, because someone like Bp. Smith of CT would have to be content to not visit the grounds of his dissenting parishes, not enforce licenses to minister, not enforce his own inhibitions, not to confirm or ordain; in short, let those impertinent 6 parishes go on thumbing their noses at him in the buildings he thinks he owns until the Covenant gets OK'd sometime after Lambeth 08 + an additional round of consultation + the ACC's 14th meeting. You'd have parishes temporarily without Episcopal oversight, waiting until the Primatial Vicar can send someone to see them and confirm their litte ones. From which parishes do you ask assessment? Which parishes have the right to join in diocesan convention? Are those parishes in or out of communion with their local diocesan? Who has responsibility to fill vacancies if a dissenting rector dies or retires? In short, this is a request to temporarily send our tightly-enforced local diocesan structure into a spiral of chaos until the Covenant is finished and ratified. Is it worth it for Christian charity?

Or maybe it's the dissenting parishes that need to knuckle under and submit, temporarily, to their bishops. But would those bishops respect the identity of their formerly-dissenting parishes? They might not attack property, but is parish income 'property'? Doesn't the myth of the Dennis Canon give all parish property to the diocese? Are the primates making a ruling on the Dennis Canon? The primates are asking us to think of parishes as the owners of their property, and the parish/property unit to be transferrable -- but that's not the way our canons describe things. This is where I would like to see a perfect world's 815 do some spade-work on fitting the Primates' recommendations into our canons. I suppose the Pastoral Council is supposed to do that.

All you legal-beagle Whitehallies, what's the process in the American legal system to simply drop a case like this? If a dissenting parish and an attacking bishop were to take this call seriously, who should drop their charges first?

And here's another interesting thought. The two parishes seceding from the diocese of Pittsburgh would, apparently, come under the jurisdiction of the Primatial Vicar - who is very likely to be Bishop Duncan, currently of Pittsburgh! Even if it's not him, would they be willing to accept the same Primatial Vicar as, say, the Virginia cluster?

And here's something even more interesting: During this controversy, it has been noted that the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church was not, originally, supposed to be a primate. That function was abrogated only recently, and only because TEC needed someone to represent us among the other primates, and the PB was the natural choice. If we carry this reasoning out, then a Primatial Vicar would actually be the only acting Primate for American Anglicans and therefore our sole primatial representative in the Communion.

All told, I think this document presents more of a challenge to TEC than to the intervening foreign archbishops. And that's as it should be.

an interesting / good analysis of dar es salaam

Above all, it was Williams’ goal to maintain the catholic substance of Anglicanism while avoiding schism. On the one hand, Williams had to convince Anglican evangelicals to remain in a church that lacks the confessional clarity and simplicity of mainstream evangelicalism—even though evangelicals tend to discount the value of church unity if it appears to cut against scriptural truth. On the other hand, Williams had to convince Anglican liberals to discipline an American church with which they had much in common—even though liberals tend to discount both scriptural truth and church unity if it seems to cut against progressive goals....


It has been a long road, and much uncertainty lies ahead. But what uncertainty remains is principally related to the decisions now facing the Episcopal Church. As for the Anglican Communion, its choice has been made. Years from now, it may well be that we will look upon this week as a crucial turning-point in Anglican history, crucial as anything since the English Reformation. For the Anglican Communion has finally decided to live up to its name: a global communion of churches, diverse yet united by a common faith and mutual hope, seeking together the mind of Christ, living humbly and prayerfully under the authority of Scripture. So may it remain.

From First Things via Stand Firm via Texanglican. I encourage you to read the whole thing. (Go to First Things for the purpose.)

what kendall harmon would have said on the newshour if he'd had time...

From the interview with Kendall Harmon and Susan Russell about the Primates' Communique on the Newshour with Jim Lehrer. Transcript here. In no way do I mean to imply that Kendall Harmon's responses were inadequate. I think he did a great job. I'm just taking a little more focused look at what Russell says because I think she displays concisely every fallacy behind the progressives' thinking.
MARGARET WARNER: Reverend Russell, do you see it as that serious a challenge, that really the American Episcopal Church is now, quote, "in the penalty box"?

REV. SUSAN RUSSELL, President, Integrity USA: I don't know if I'd use that analogy, but I agree we are in a very serious time in the church. From my perspective, the American Episcopal Church has now been very strategically and very intentionally painted into a corner by those in the American church who have been advocating for a schism for many years.

And we're now faced with what I would call a Sophie's choice of having to choose our vision of the inclusive gospel over our inclusion in the communion. It's a profoundly un-Anglican way to make decisions, given that historically we have been a people of God who have not required common belief in order to be in communion with each other.

So I think the greater challenge we face has much less to do with gay and lesbian people or bishops or blessings, but how we're going to be church together. I think that is really under attack by the radical religious right, who is willing to split this church if they can't recreate it in their own image.
Ok, where do we start? First, I think she's right. The primates are acting politically, not just pastorally, because that's how stuff actually gets done in human institutions. Yes, this is the culmination of a lot of political maneuvering by Americans who want not schism but permanently repaired relations with Anglicans worldwide (as well as historical orthodoxy). It so happens that TEC's innovations have created the possibility of schism, so schism from the schismatics is what may be needed for these American faithful. And let's not forget that in all of these political machinations, TEC had its representatives. At no point has any of the institutions of communion failed to lend an open ear to TEC. In fact, at several points TEC has been invited to make its case as well as it possibly can. If we've failed in that, let's not blame some vast (and by 'vast' we mean 'tiny, politically disenfranchised for 40 years') right wing conspiracy -- let's fess up to our own doings, here. Next, tell the Non-Jurors that it's 'un-Anglican' to force a choice between ideals and communion. What about the oaths of conformity that were required of all English clergy in the Reformation? Tell that to the dioceses within TEC who still don't ordain women, despite decades of pressure -- are their rights to their own opinion being respected? Next, what Christian group in the entire history of the Church has ever 'not required common belief'? We have creeds for that sort of thing. What Kendall Harmon did say here was perfect: the issue is about essentials vs. inessentials. Some differences of opinion are acceptable; others aren't. Next, let's stop all this 'create the church in its own image' stuff. What does it really mean? It's the hint of a biblical allusion but doesn't actually refer to any biblical concept. The church is never said to be made in God's image. If having a strong ideal and pushing for it to be accepted is 'making the church in your own image', then American conservatives aren't the only ones doing that. Russell herself calls it 'leadership' later on in this interview.
MARGARET WARNER: And yet, Reverend Russell, you said that you think the idea of not being able to tolerate these differences is somehow in conflict with what you said was the essential nature of the Anglican Communion. Explain what you meant.

REV. SUSAN RUSSELL: Well, absolutely. I mean, if we look at the historic roots of who we are as Anglicans, we have the same DNA. We come from the Church of England, which was formed out of the crucible of the English Reformation, and had at one point to decide whether it was going to be Catholic or whether it was going to be Protestant.
At a time when people were burned at the stake over such significant and foundational theological divide, the Anglican Church and the Church of England found a way to be both. And that's the heritage we've carried up until now. . .
Rev. Russell forgets that it was we Anglicans who were burning people at the stake for being Catholic, and vice versa. All this only stopped after the Glorious Revolution in 1688, when English society had simply run out of energy for any more revolutions or heretic-burnings. You might as well look at Good Archbishop Laud's kick-off of the English Civil War over the Scottish prayer book, and say that it's essentially Anglican to start wars over liturgical standardization. Is not this, also, the heritage we've carried up until now?
[Rev. Russell continues] . . . The fact is, the American church does hold a minority opinion on the blessing of same-sex unions and the full inclusion of all the baptized in the body of Christ. We know we maintain a minority opinion, but we maintain that that minority opinion is a leadership opinion, in much the same way that we've held a minority opinion on whether or not women should be bishops or women should be priests.
Historically, the rest of the communion has come along on that issue. We believe that lives lived in holiness, and fidelity, and mutual respect transcends the orientation of the people involved in the relationship. We believe God blesses those relationships, and so should the church.
The full inclusion of all the baptized in the body of Christ -- St. Paul didn't go for that. That's what excommunication is all about. If you support this kind of 'full inclusion', you've got to come up with some workable model for Christian discipline. good luck. And what Russell calls 'leadership' here, the Africans call 'imperialism'. That's part of our English heritage, too. And I don't know how you define a life lived in holiness if not by the scripture and Christian tradition. Those definitions don't allow homosexual activity to be defined as a holy behavior. If you want to do that yourself, fine, but you've got to explian why God has to honor your definition of a holy life.
MARGARET WARNER: May I ask you, Reverend Russell -- let me ask you, just as a practical matter, speaking of deciding, there's little more than seven months away before this deadline. How will the Episcopal Church of the U.S. go about making this decision, how to respond?

REV. SUSAN RUSSELL: Well, that's a very important question, but I do want to respond quickly to the idea that we are acting unilaterally. The American church has never asked the Church of Nigeria or Uganda or Rwanda or any of our other Anglican brother and sister churches to come along with us on our vision for where the church should be.
All we've asked to have is our understandings of holy scripture and how we live that out respected.
If what we are has no bearing on what the Nigerian Anglican church is, how can we say we're linked in communion? Rev. Russell forgets that where we go, the body goes, because we are members of the body. Unless we get cut off. Which might happen.

an even better one!

Here is the link. Note how Lectio Divina is not some weird mystical nonsense having to do with Labyrinths or "Celtic spirituality".

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

a monastery movie

I found a bunch of videos of my favorite Benedictines on Youtube. A classmate of mine from college made his Solemn Vows there last year. Here's one of the videos:

dust thou art

From the "CaNN News-Editor".

While the liberals grumble over their Double Ristretto Ventis (with Half-Soy Nonfat Decaf Organic Chocolate Brownie Iced Vanilla Double-Shot Gingerbread Frappuccino Extra Hot With Foam Whipped Cream Upside Down Double Blended, One Sweet’N Low and One Nutrasweet, and Ices), we’ve pondered what a ‘liberal response’ to Dar might look like.

After all, to a flatlander, it’s all this-worldly, right? Therefore, giving your solemn word as an ordained Christian (signing on, or signing off, in wiggle-room-speak) is not to swear upon your eternal soul (your What-Now?), nor to give your word as to Christ himself (that rather inspiring dead rabbi), nor even to give the solemn pledge of a serious and worthy person, whose word is bond.

Read the whole thing here.

+mark sisk, bishop of new york, on the dar es salaam communique

Well, except the Archbishop of Canterbury now seems as focused on sex as anyone.

[Bishop Mark Sisk] I think the confusion is a result of the primates meeting. I believe that what was desired was a statement that we were wrong to confirm Gene Robinson, the gay bishop of New Hampshire and that we will never do it again. And I do not believe that the majority of [American] bishops believe that. I do believe that they did not adequately confer [with the Anglican Church and also with each other], and that’s what they apologized for. God is working in the community to help us understand that gay and lesbian people can be called to have any role within our community. My view is that [the primates] have in fact upped the ante. I think that what they’re wanting is an affirmation that we will never do this again. My own guess is that we would not respond positively to that request.

It seems like the Episcopal Church is being forced to choose between its gay and lesbian members and its membership in the Anglican Communion.

[Bishop Mark Sisk] The challenge is how far are we prepared to go in working with the communion and squaring that against the relationships we have in our community with members who are gay and lesbian. I would like to think that the communion needs to hear the voice of the Episcopal Church as well. I am prepared to work quite hard to maintain connections in the communion, but if it comes to having to choose between the communion and abandoning my gay and lesbian brothers and sisters—much as I value the Anglican community, I think they will be the losers.

From Newsweek via Titusonenine (emphasis Fr WB's).

The sad irony, of course, is that the Episcopal Church has abandoned our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters, by telling them that the destructive patterns of behavior to which they are predisposed, are in fact wholesome and conducive of spiritual health. This is a lie that puts souls in grave danger. The orthodox want nothing but for our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters to flourish. We want for them reconciliation, peace, and all that God has promised through Christ for his sons and daughters. We want for them that the sun of righteousness should rise with healing in its wings; that they should go forth leaping like calves from the stall (Malachi 4.2).

Saint Anthony the Great said in the third century: "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'."

Indeed. Now is that time. Christ, have mercy.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Tomorrow is the beginning of Lent. Prepare. To help you, here are two of my old posts about keeping a holy Lent. I haven't got a lot to add to them. Looking at the blog-o-meter, it seems that a lot of people have been visiting these two pages in the last month or so. I commend them to your attention, and hope you find them helpful.

Keeping a Holy Lent Part One: Theory

Keeping a Holy Lent Part Two: Practice

the dar es salaam communique

Here is my very short response to the Dar Es Salaam communique, which I read for the first time on a plane this afternoon: it is good. The media was buzzing with wild predictions before the meeting, and as it progressed. The sheer volume and wildness of the coverage had me starting to think wild thoughts too, I confess. But in the end this fact remained: there is at this moment no mechanism for the disciplining of the Episcopal Church the way that many would like for it to be disciplined. Such a mechanism will be embodied (presumably) in the proposed Covenant, the outlines of which have not been made public.

I would have liked to have seen something more heavy-handed from the Primates' (such as a request that ECUSA withdraw from the Instruments of Communion until the Covenant is ready to be ratified), but what we have is good. It is clear-cut and honest; it proposes hard-and-fast deadlines and sets out a concrete and measurable plan which allows ad-hoc structures (such as AMiA) to remain in place, and proposes a concrete protocol allowing alternative oversight to those who cannot in conscience accept the episcopal / primatial ministry of ECUSA's Presiding Bishop. And perhaps above all: the communique is unanimous. I cannot stress how important that fact is. We will have to wait for these things to pan out, which is a challenge, but I believe this communique proposes a realistic scheme within which the orthodox will have the space we need to wait for a final solution (an unfortunate phrase) to be worked out -- one that gives meaning to the Anglican "bonds of affection" which ECUSA was doing its best to show to be meaningless.

I urge everyone to take time to read the whole thing very carefully.

UPDATE: I guess a draft version of the Covenant has been made public after all. Its gotten lost in the other news.

paragraph 33

Here is paragraph 33 from the Primates' communique from Tanzania:

33. Third, the Presiding Bishop has reminded us that in The Episcopal Church there are those who have lost trust in the Primates and bishops of certain of our Provinces because they fear that they are all too ready to undermine or subvert the polity of The Episcopal Church. In their view, there is an urgent need to embrace the recommendations of the Windsor Report and to bring an end to all interventions.

This is like a group of school-yard bullies who have a nice little system of exploitation going and who are worried the whole apple-cart might be upset if the headmaster happens by and puts a stop to it. You see the same attitude in a child that's been caught doing something he knows he oughtn't and gets angry at his parent for catching him. The only reason TEC progressives are worried our polity is being 'undermined' is because they know that the goal of those interventions is to strip them of their 'prophetic' victory over what they consider to be outdated and oppressive sexual mores. If they were really concerned about being authentically Anglican and authentically Episcopalian ABOVE being sexually progressive, they'd be more skeptical of their own innovations, and more willing to reign in their impulses toward progressive sexuality simply because upsetting the rest of the Communion is bad form. If TEC were primarily interested in authentically being what we always have been, we wouldn't have ordained women OR consecrated Bp. Robinson OR had any problem whatsoever passing Windsor-compliant resolutions at GC06. This paragraph gives evidence of PB Schori's dangerous shell game. Find the real motive. Is it under here? Sometimes I wonder whether the progressives themselves have a clear idea of what's going on.

Friday, February 16, 2007

a few pictures from the primates' meeting

The Bishop of Dar Es Salaam celebrates mass in the chapel for the ACC Standing Committee as the Primates Meeting gets underway. Photo Credit: ACNS Rosenthal.

There are more here.

primates' meeting update

A "Sub-Group" of four, appointed by the Archbishop of Canterbury to gauge the Episcopal Church's response to the Windsor Report at ECUSA's 2006 General Convention, released its findings. I tend to concur with Fr David Anderson's analysis, which said in part:

“This report gives a ‘best-case scenario’ picture of TEC that is not only skewed in favor of TEC but quite simply fails to reflect the reality of life in the Episcopal Church..."

I wonder whether the sanguineness of the report is not, in part, out of a charitable generosity toward ECUSA. On the other hand, I agree that it does not represent the "facts on the ground" in America. A particularly trenchant point was made by Canon Harmon near-adequacy of the Episcopal Church's response to Windsor is belied by several subsequent bishop nominations of people living in non-celibate, same-sex relationships, as well as by the authorization of rites for the "blessing" of non-celibate, same-sex relationships in several dioceses. Sure, there haven't been lots of such instances. But the several that there have been illustrate that the phenomenon is a burgeoning one in ECUSA, and that ECUSA, whatever her intentions (which I suspect were not conducive of Anglican unity to begin with), has not managed to halt its drift away from the teaching of the Communion, to say nothing of the Church catholic. The report seems either blithely blind to the fact of such authorizations and nominations, or content that they are only happening (so far) in a few dioceses. But then again, they are happening right where one expect them to be (i.e. NOT Fort Worth or Pittsburgh). And their occurance is in the face of ECUSA's ostensive (near) compliance with Windsor. How does that work exactly?

NB: TEC = ECUSA = The Episcopal Church (in the United States of America).

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

what's wrong with sentamu?

So if you're following the Primates' meeting, and you're wondering, as I was, why the invitation to the Archbishop of York, Dr. John Sentamu, was so controversial, here's an answer from Ekklesia:

Dr Williams has wanted Dr Sentamu to chair the meeting in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, in order to free up his own role. It has been traditional for Canterbury to chair the meeting, but Dr Williams wants to play a pastoral rather than an administrative role. Ironically, the gathering is supposed to prepare the ground for a Lambeth Conference aimed at producing a settlement within Anglicanism.

There's also this, from the TimesOnline:

Although the Archbishop of York is technically Primate of England, he has never before been invited to be part of the Primates’ Meeting, one of the three “instruments of communion” of the worldwide Anglican Church. The Church of England is represented by Dr Rowan Williams, Primate of All-England and “focus for unity” of the Church.
But officials in the Anglican Communion decreed that this week Dr Sentamu should for the first time be allowed to accompany Dr Williams to Dar es Salaam, to represent the Church of England and free up the Archbishop of Canterbury to chair the meeting.
His presence was, however, never put to a vote and the African primates say they should have been consulted before Dr Sentamu was included.
Although he is regarded in England as a charismatic and orthodox Christian, Global South leaders suspect Dr Sentamu of being a closet liberal who would resist the disciplining of the pro-gay US Episcopalians.
As a former judge who on several occasions outwitted the dictator Idi Amin at risk of his own life, Dr Sentamu is also one of the best legal brains in the Anglican Church. He is deemed by insiders to be skilled at getting “results”.
The African primates have written personally to Dr Williams protesting against Dr Sentamu’s presence. The Archbishop of Canterbury replied that it was not a problem and argued that it had been done by the book.
It is highly unlikely that Dr Williams will countenance the humiliation of Dr Sentamu being expelled from the meeting, and insiders in Tanzania were last night predicting a deal would be done.
Significantly, the leader of the Global South primates, the Archbishop of Nigeria, Dr Peter Akinola, yesterday flew in an extra archbishop of his own, Nicholas Okoh, Archbishop of Bendel. He is one of the nine archbishops in the Anglican Church of Nigeria and has nine dioceses in his province. Before his ordination, Archbishop Okoh was a colonel in the Nigerian army.
Dr Akinola could demand that Dr Sentamu be permitted to stay only if Archbishop Okoh be given a seat at the primates’ table. There could even be a deal over the US Primate, Katharine Jefferts Schori. Dr Akinola will almost certainly not countenance them both being at the meeting unless Archbishop Okoh is also there.

Both of these news stories display the tell-tale signs of inaccuracy and speculation throughout, and you can see the two stories disagree over the status of the chair, so I don't know how trustworthy these speculations are. But it's food for thought.

Let's see if I've got this right:
ABC Williams announces he'd like to break with precedence and play a pastoral/presidential role at the meeting, as ABC, instead of being there just as the representative from England. To represent England, then, he invites the Archbp. of York. Seems kosher to me. York has that kind of historical prestige, plus Sentamu is African, somewhat Evangelical, but broad-minded enough to be relatable to the liberals. But the Global South primates object because Sentamu is suspected of being too broad-minded after all, and it's not customary for York to be there; they worry as well that the ABC is stacking the votes. (Though because it's hard to predict where Sentamu would come down, he can hardly be called a stacked vote unless some wrangling has already been done.) So Akinola invites one of his Archbishops, who in theory has the same ecclesiastical precedence as Sentamu, as a way to balance the votes (or stack them further, depending on which side's spin you like). We'll see how all this plays out. All told, I must admit I'm a little surprised about this suspicion of Sentamu - not that it's misplaced, mind you; I heard him speak several times at GC06 and though he's a company/Communion man through and through, he was definitely broad-minded. I'm just surprised that the Global South would show such little confidence in ABC Williams' motives as to be this skeptical of these choices. Perhaps this is a frightening measure of the deterioration of the relationship between the ABC and the Global South primates.

the blessed virgin mary and the primates meeting

Read Jill Woodliff's meditation here. An excerpt:

She who believed that Jesus would inherit the throne of David stayed at the foot of the cross. She who believed that He would reign over the house of Jacob forever stayed at the foot of the cross. She who believed that His kingdom would have no end stayed at the foot of the cross.

She gave birth, remaining a virgin. She watched the end, believing in no end.

Amen. If we resolve to wait and adore at the foot of the cross and we think the Mother of God doesn't wait and adore with us, then we are either blind or dishonest . "Behold your Mother!" Take her into your own home (John 19.26).

May we see Jesus through her eyes.

Holy Mother of God, pray for us sinners!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

primates meeting news

One of the most interesting (and troubling) developments so far in Tanzania is Archbishop Akinola's flying one of his Nigerian archbishops to Tanzania to join him at the meeting. Why is this disturbing? Because it can only be read within the context of Rowan Williams' decision to have the Archbishop of York join him at the meeting, as well as in the context of Archbishop's Akinola's past statements about not needing to go through Canterbury to get to Jesus. This looks like a dangerous one-up-manship. Lent and Beyond has good analysis and prayer.

Keep praying for the primates.

some more prayers to pray during the primates meeting

I urge you, first, to prayer for the primates. I urge you, second, to these prayers during the Primates' Meeting. I also remind you again of the helpful resources and information at Lent and Beyond.

If you pray the Daily Office, and I hope you do (see the links in the sidebar if you would like to say it online), pray these and other intercessions at the end of the office, just before "The Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ..." Print them out and put them in your Bible, BCP, or Office Book.

For the Unity of the Church

Our God, amidst the deplorable division of your Church, let us never widen its breaches, but give us universal charity to all who are called by your name. Deliver us from the sins and errors, the schisms and heresies of the age. Give us grace daily to pray for the peace of your Church, and earnestly to seek it and to excite all we can to praise and to love you; through Jesus Christ, our one Savior and Redeemer. Amen.

(A prayer of Thomas Ken)

For the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams

O God, the shepherd and ruler of all the faithful, look down favorably upon your servant Rowan, whom you have been pleased to appoint pastor over your Church; grant, we beseech you, that he may benefit both by word and example those over whom he is set, and thus attain life eternal, together with the flock committed to his care. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

from the lessons this morning at mattins

In 1 Timothy 1.18 - 2.6, passim. Its particularly pertinent now, at this juncture in the common life of Anglicans, and in view of ECUSA innovations:

"This charge I commit to you... that you may wage the good warfare, holding faith and a good conscience. By rejecting conscience, certain persons have made shipwreck of their faith... whom I have delivered to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme. First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all men... For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all."

Monday, February 12, 2007

prudentes sicut serpentes

Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves. Matthew 10:16

My mother just drew to my attention this piece in the NYT. It concerns Christian scientists (big C, little S), specifically of the evangelical stripe, who must navigate "secular" academia.

Asked whether it was intellectually honest to write a dissertation so at odds with his religious views, [Dr. Ross] said: “I was working within a particular paradigm of earth history. I accepted that philosophy of science for the purpose of working with the people” at Rhode Island.

And though his dissertation repeatedly described events as occurring tens of millions of years ago, Dr. Ross added, “I did not imply or deny any endorsement of the dates.”

This raises some pretty interesting issues, pressing ones, even, but does so in a fatuous way. In the above quote, the very use of a particular methodology for dating in a dissertation does imply endorsement of it and its associated ideas. This is all part of the carefully constructed and troubling "myth of objectivity" which haunts academia in two ways: First there is the denial of any sort of objectivity—although I am sure this is less emphatic in the "hard" sciences, than it is in the "soft" sciences and humanities. Secondly there is the preservation of the form of objectivity that academics (self included) use to protect themselves from criticism by their peers. This is apparent in the dense fabric of language academics weave to avoid making any definitive or conclusive statements about anything. This has its advantages, of course. It allows one to keep a particular issue open to reconsideration, but usually it masks a definitive conclusion in an apparently innocuous way: it's the ultimate wolf in sheep's clothing.

I see this regularly in the use of what we like to call "theory" which gives our ideas a pleasantly reassuring scientific and objective-sounding ring, but in reality is the artificial "naturalizing" (that is, to understand something unreal as real) of perversion. It's particularly rife among people who like to extend psychoanalysis (the world's most tragic hoax) or Marxist economic theories (the second most) into other fields, in my case, ars historiae. Don't misunderstand: These people do so usually with the best of intentions, but as is the case in the NYT article, they seldom realize how deeply prejudiced they are against contradictions to their theoretical framework. They already do not recognize it to be a theory, which by definition is something that is still waiting conclusive proof.

For the conscientious Christian (a redundancy, I know), is it (1) possible to set aside one's "personal convictions" to engage other, even anti-Christian ideas? (2) Is to do so dishonest, or worse, immoral? (1) Yes; and (2) I don't believe so. In the case of the evangelical scientist, I imagine the solution is easiest, since the scientific method operates as a control over their results: it partially relieves them of responsibility for their conclusions. If they disagree with their conclusions, they probably should be exta conscientious to demonstrate the limits of their measuring devices and thereby cast doubt on them. Frankly, this doesn't matter to me very much, since if the earth is 10 billion years old or six thousand, it intersects my life in such a liminal way. (Creationism is maybe a separate issue, but I'm not sure I have a problem with the concept of a guided evolutionary process. It accords with God's deliberate pattern of mediated interaction with the created order.)

But more importantly, I believe we as Christians should strive to reinstate the desire for objectivity, even if, this side of the escahton, it is unobtainable. My reading of René Girard (more on this soon) has left me convinced that Christ's mission was ultimately one of revelation, truth, light, and objectivity. To aspire to be Christ-like is to pursue this objectivity, and this can mean in some cases being willing to shed our "personal convictions" many of which may be preventing us from attaining that goal (and to say this I am in no way discounting Christ's mission of redemption: what is sin if not falsehood, and who is Satan but a "liar and the father of lies"?). This also may mean, for those of us (like me) who find themselves constrained by the limits of a non-Christian intellectual framework, temporarily submitting to it. Or, more hopefully, being as "wise as serpents," finding ways to secrete the Gospel into our studies and academic output so as to subtly transform the perspectives of our colleagues and students and thus prepare the ground for the reception of the Gospel. Not all evangelism happens on the street corner with a sandwich board and a bundle of tracts.*

And finally, there is an extent to which the parsing of a "Christian" view of things, e.g. Creationism versus evolutionism, ultimately inhibits and counteracts the Gospel mandate. As I read this morning in St. Paul's first epistle to my namesake:

As I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine, nor to occupy themselves with myths and endless genealogies which promote speculations rather than the divine training that is in faith; whereas the aim of our charge is love that issue from a pure heart and a good conscience and sincere faith. Certain persons by swerving from these have wandered away into vain discussion, desiring to be teachers of the law, without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make assertions. I Timothy 1:3-7.

* I certainly hope that I am able to manage this. The dissertation that I hope to write would try to blow the lid off these issues as they pertain to art history, but it may be too clear of an affront to my PhD committee, so I am not entertaining great hopes.

the primates' meeting

The Primates' Meeting is getting underway at Dar es Salaam. I invite you all to pray. Priests, I would encourage you to offer your Daily Office and Mass (if you offer mass daily) with special intentions for the Primates, that they would all be given wisdom, humility, zeal for the catholic faith, and above all charity.

Because he happens to be the Archbishop of Canterbury at this moment in history, an enormous weight is being borne by Rowan Williams. I would invite you to pray for him particularly. Arguably, he bears more responsibility for the fate of Anglicanism than any other single person - maybe since Elizabeth I or Thomas Cranmer. I would not have his job for all the tea in China, and I can only imagine how burdensome this responsibility must be for him. Pray for him.

Also don't neglect to pray for Katharine Schori, the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church. She leads the province which, by its actions and impenitence, has brought the Communion to the brink of dissolution. Pray that she would be especially blessed with the grace of humility, true contrition, and wisdom.

Lent and Beyond has terrific resources to guide your prayer.

Stand Firm is shaping up to have the best, or at least the most extensive and up-to-date news coverage. (Probably the best too.) It looks like they will be doing daily video blogging. My! The Anglican blogosphere is certainly getting technologically advanced.

And speaking of "vlogging" and so forth, don't forget to check out Anglican TV. Kevin has gone to Tanzania and will be posting videos. If you donate to Anglican TV (even a dollar), I think you can get on their special secret list for extra videos or something. Its not clear to me what exactly you get by donating (or whether it might actually be too late), but I believe you get some special access to extra video coverage or something.

Lastly, I would commend the Blessed Virgin as a very suitable prayer partner for each of you. Her humility and wisdom is the antidote to Episcopalian arrogance and foolishness. When she was presented with a choice that would have enormous consequences for the whole world, she responded "Be it done to me according to thy word." In consequence of her humility, Almighty God has magnified her, and all generations call her Blessed (Luke 1.46ff).

Saint Mary, full of grace, exalted pattern of humility and Seat of Wisdom, pray for us sinners! Show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb!

Sunday, February 11, 2007

an intriguing interview with +tom wright, the bishop of durham

Read it all here. I am a little behind with this. Its been reported much elsewhere. This was an especially interesting bit with reference to Canon Kearon's expressed frustration with Archbishop Williams doing the right thing. Bishop Wright says:

"For Kenneth Kearon to accuse Rowan Williams of fostering schism is quite extraordinary. That is like someone in a house that is on fire accusing the firemen of ruining the book collection because they have sprayed water on it. It is quite clear that the split is coming from those in the American church who are insisting on doing something that the Lambeth Conference and the rest of the Communion had asked them not to do. To accuse Rowan Williams of fomenting schism is really projecting onto Rowan the schismatic actions which happened in 2003 when the Americans first gave acquiesence to Gene Robinson at their General Convention and then went ahead and consecrated him. In October 2003, the Primates said clearly that if this action goes ahead it will tear the fabric of the communion at its deepest level. The Americans went ahead and did it. All that has happened subsequently is the rest of the Communion saying we really hope you did not mean that but if you did, have you thought through the consequences? There are many in America who are trying to have their cake and eat it, who are doing the schismatic thing and then accusing those who object of being schismatic. That is the bizarre thing."

And finally, there is this trenchantness:

"Part of the difficulty is that there is a myth about in some circles that historic Anglicanism has no particular doctrine and is just a matter of worshipping together and believing what you like. If you go back to the 16th and 17th centuriesm who will find them arguing in great detail over the Articles of Religion which became the Thirty-Nine Articles. They were hugely important. The idea of doctrinal indifferentism is a very recent idea which has sprung up in some parts of America."

Saturday, February 10, 2007

alexei khomiakov on anglicanism and private judgment: and some thoughts-out-loud: what is catholicity? or: quo enim recedam?

Many bishops and divines of your communion are and have been quite orthodox. But what of it? Their opinion is only an individual opinion, it is not the Faith of the Community. Ussher is almost a complete Calvinist; but yet he, no less than those bishops who give expression to Orthodox convictions, belongs to the Anglican Church. We may, and do, sympathise with the individuals; we cannot and dare not sympathise with a community which interpolates the Symbol and doubts her right to that interpolation, or which gives communion to those who declare the Bread and Wine of the High Sacrifice to be mere bread and wine, as well as to those who declare it to be the Body and Blood of Christ. This for an example — and I could find hundreds more — but I go further. Suppose an impossibility — suppose all the Anglicans be quite orthodox; suppose their Creed and Faith quite concordant with ours; the mode and process by which that creed is or has been attained is a Protestant one; a simple logical act of the understanding, by which the tradition and writings of the Fathers have been distilled to something very near Truth. If we admit this, all is lost, and Rationalism is the supreme judge of every question. Protestantism, most reverend sir, is the admission of an unknown [quantity] to be sought by reason; and that unknown [quantity] changes the whole equation to an unknown quantity, even though every other datum be as clear and as positive as possible. Do not, I pray, nourish the hope of finding Christian truth without stepping out of the former Protestant circle. It is an illogical hope; it is a remnant of that pride which thought itself able and wished to judge and decide by itself without the Spiritual Communion of heavenly grace and Christian love. Were you to find all the truth, you would have found nothing; for we alone can give you that without which all would be vain — the assurance of truth.

From Mind in the Heart, via Restorative Theology, via Pontifications.

Okay. I take his point, in a sense. However: were I (or anyone else) to convert to a non-Protestant (in the way Khomiakov seems to be using that term) church, would not "rationalism" still be sitting in judgment over catholic doctrine? Would not the "mode and process by which" this convert attained a catholic creed yet be "a protestant one; a simple logical act of the understanding, by which the tradition and writings of the Fathers have been distilled..."? Would not Rationalism, or better perhaps would not rationality, or the reason, yet be "the supreme judge of every question" in such a case? In other words, is it not in fact the case that converts convert because the doctrine of the ecclesial entity to which they are converting makes sense to them? Concomitantly, then, is not their reason the arbiter of (Scripture and) Holy Tradition? Khomiakov finds in Anglicanism "a remnant of that pride which thought itself able and wished to judge and decide by itself without the Spiritual Communion of heavenly grace and Christian love." But here, precisely, is the paradox: does not the act and possibility of conversion, which surely Khomiakov admits, entail the very possibility of that which he here denies: namely that an individual outside the Spiritual Communion of heavenly grace and Christian love (which is the Church) may "judge and decide" rightly, by an inscrutable process of intellection and affection, that catholic doctrine is true and therefore ought to be assented to? And once he has converted, does not the Roman Catholic or Orthodox Christian, by the quotidian renewal of his resolve to remain within the Roman or Orthodox communion, just continually ratify the sovereignty of his reason as the arbiter of truth?

This question is related to that paradox raised by Augustine in the narration of his own conversion, a paradox which my intuition tells me has its roots in Platonism and also has to do with prevenient grace: how can you call God to help you when his help is necessary for you even to call out? Augustine also puts it another way, in terms of exteriority and interiority: how can you seek something (or Someone) that is already and has always been inside of you? Quo enim recedam extra caelum et terram, ut inde in me veniat Deus meus, qui dixit, caelum et terram ego impleo? Loosely: Where might I withdraw beyond heaven and earth that my God might come into me, when my God has said "I fill heaven and earth"?

In the excerpt from Khomiakov we see an assumption regarding the differentiation of Protestantism from Catholicism. And I here mean both of these terms in the kind of way that they are often used, for example, at Pontifications: such that "Protestantism" includes Anglicanism (but not Orthodoxy), and "Catholicism" includes Orthodoxy (but not Anglicanism). The basis of differentiating between Protestantism and Catholicism is by an examination and judgment of what Khomiakov here calls the "faith of the Community." This assumption is also manifest in such dicta as one sometimes hears: e.g. that Anglicans believe they are catholic because they have valid orders, whereas (Roman) catholics believe they have valid orders because they are catholic. When cited by Roman Catholics, the former belief is implicitly false and the latter implicitly true. But with regard to a determination of catholicity it is obviously question begging. What is it for an individual or a community to be catholic?

And by the way, the Vincentian Canon is a non-starter. If to be catholic, as St. Vincent says, is "to hold that which has been believed everywhere, always, and by all," the question instantly arises: by all of whom? Roman Catholics? Christians? If it is Roman Catholics, then the Orthodox are ruled out as "catholic" insofar as they do not as a body believe, for example, the universal ordinary jurisdiction nor the situated infallibility of the bishop of Rome, nor the Immaculate Conception of our Lady. And if we mean " all Christians..." then probably Southern Baptists and Nestorians are ruled in.

In the end I think the status of an individual Christian as truly "catholic" is indeed in some sense a function of the submission of their volition, a bending the knee of the heart, to the Church. And yet the submission must come about as (at least in large part) recommended by the intellect. I've never heard of anyone going over to Rome (or the East) because it didn't make sense to do so. Thus I don't think the excerpt above from Khomiakov is helpful. Anglican Christians can just as much hold their beliefs because those beliefs come to them recommended by the One Church as can Roman Catholic or Orthodox Christians. And it is just as necessary for Roman Catholics and Orthodox Christians rationally to differentiate the visible body to which they owe their submission -- to differentiate the One Church from other "ecclesial communities" -- as it is for Anglicans. Perhaps (perhaps) its true that more RC and Orthodox Christians go through this process per capita as a matter of positive fact than Anglicans. But even that is not obvious, and I tend to doubt it. We can see in this why disunity is a scandal. Were the unity of the Church visible, then catholically bending the knee of the heart would be considerably simpler, and that Christianity is a matter of obedience (as opposed to a lifestyle choice or a self-identity) would I imagine be more robustly manifest to the world, for the sake of whom the grace of unity is bestowed (John 17.21).

Why am I an Anglican? Because I am doing my best to obey the Lord's summons to his service. Because I want, more than anything, to be a slave for the sake of the Name. Lord knows it would in a very real sense be much easier for me to be Roman Catholic or Orthodox. Obeying the call I discerned to the Anglican priesthood has been, hands down, the most costly and painful thing I've ever done. I knew that it would be, and I was brought to my knees in tears in the face of this knowledge at Evensong before my ordination. When I asked the Lord why I should be an Anglican priest, I clearly discerned the answer: "because the essence of priesthood is sacrifice, and here you will be closest to the sacrifice of my Son." In my heart I accepted this, and it has been born out in my priestly vocation. I know that the Christian priesthood cannot be merely an exercise in private devotion, and I have faith that mine is not, though its hard for me to see the fruits of my ministry in the Body. But I believe that God actualizes his particular plans even though the actualization may be invisible or counterintuitive (1 Cor. 2.9).

Catholicity may be born out in the lives of individuals in complicated and inscrutible ways, but it is at least an act of obedience. And while I appreciate the good intentions of former Anglicans who perpetually exhort those whom they have left behind to climb into the Barque of Peter (or Andrew), they must also recognize that the Holy Spirit may answer Anglican prayers for conversion of heart in ways, or on timeframes, that they might not have expected. Michael Liccione, at Pontifications, has written:

One cannot cease to be Protestant by thinking like a Protestant. The way out of that box is to use all means available, chiefly prayer and ascesis but also study and meditation, to decide which principle of authority one shall submit to. Only the reformation of will made possible by such means will enable one to receive the gift of faith in its fullness.

I couldn't agree more. But what must be acknowledged is that many Anglicans have sought to submit, have sought to "believe one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church," and what's more have sought to "believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ," through prayer, ascesis, study and meditation, and who yet find themselves in the Anglican Communion -- not because they appreciate the free-thinking or free-willing it seems to afford, nor because it seems a pleasant and easy-going, non-papal brand of catholic Christianity, but rather out of obedience. What is difficult to bear is the implication (not necessarily Liccione's) that if catholic-minded Anglicans were really sincere or really obedient, they would go immediately to Rome. Once more I can assure you: I am doing the best I can, and I am still an Anglican.