Wednesday, February 28, 2007
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.
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.
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?
http://saint-louis.blogspot.com - Rome of the West
What is your style of American Catholicism?
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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
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.
http://saint-louis.blogspot.com - Rome of the West
What is your style of American Catholicism?
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[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
“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 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.”
“In my better moments, I firmly hope and pray that these things are not diametrically opposed.”
Saturday, February 24, 2007
religion: the hourly regimen of prayers that monks have followed for centuries is spreading beyond monasteries
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
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
http://www.liturgyhours.org and http://www.universalis.com 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
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
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.
"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."
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.)
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.
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. . .
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.
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.
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
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.
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
Keeping a Holy Lent Part One: Theory
Keeping a Holy Lent Part Two: Practice
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.
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.
Friday, February 16, 2007
“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
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.
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
Keep praying for the primates.
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.
"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
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 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
"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 "...by 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.