Sunday, April 29, 2007

the sixth eccumenical council

I've been "researching". After years of Anglican equivocation and casuistry, there's something rather refreshing about this kind of clarity in a Church Council:

Many years to Agatho, Pope of Rome! Many years to George, Patriarch of Constantinople! Many years to Theophanus, Patriarch of Antioch! Many years to the orthodox council! Many years to the orthodox Senate!

To Theodore of Pharan, the heretic, anathema! To Sergius, the heretic, anathema! To Cyrus, the heretic, anathema! To Honorius, the heretic, anathema! To Pyrthus, the heretic, anathema!

To Paul the heretic, anathema!

To Peter the heretic, anathema!

To Macarius the heretic, anathema!

To Stephen the heretic, anathema!

To Polychronius the heretic, anathema!

To Apergius of Perga the heretic, anathema!

To all heretics, anathema! To all who side with heretics, anathema!

May the faith of the Christians increase, and long years to the orthodox and Ecumenical Council.

Friday, April 27, 2007

wars and rumors of wars

Read this from Father Dan Martins. Intriguing. Frightening. By comparison, I am totally out of the loop. A consequence of being an insignificant and very young, priest. I agree with everything Father Dan says. (You will have noticed my touting of the Anglican Communion Institute's writings in the last several weeks. Also: don't miss the latest ACI piece in the "Father WB's Shared Items" box at the bottom of the sidebar.)

Thursday, April 26, 2007

the first orthodox martyr of the current anglican crisis?

Read it all here. It looks as though Canon Rodney Hunter, 73, was murdered in Malawi for his steadfast proclamation of the catholic, orthodox faith, as received by the Anglican Church, in opposition to the strange doctrines of the liberals.

In any event: may the Saints and Angels receive him. May God grant him eternal rest and perpetual light.

Monday, April 23, 2007

the seven martyrs of the melanesian brotherhood

Today (April 24) is the feast of the Seven Martyrs of the Melanesian Brotherhood, who were tortured and murdered for their proclamation of the Gospel on the island of Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands in 2003. (Today is the feast on the liturgical Kalendar of the Church in the Province of Melanesia; its not on the Kalendar of ECUSA.)

There is a new book by my friend Father Richard Carter, sometime chaplain of the Melanesian Brotherhood. Buy it from Amazon UK.

Also: read more about the martyrs and the context within which they bore witness to our Lord here.

Read a sermon about the martyrs preached at Westminster Abbey by the Archbishop of Melanesia here.

Take a moment to pray:

Lord, we adore you for your unsurpassable greatness, and for calling us to bear witness to your peace. We thank you for proclaiming yourself in the lives of your servants in the Melanesian Brotherhood; we especially thank you for the gift of your holy servants, Brothers Nathaniel Sado, Robin Lindsay, Francis Tofi, Tony Sirihi, Alfred Hill, Patteson Gatu and Ini Paratabatu. We thank you for the witness they bore in laying down their lives for the sake of your Son, to proclaim the Kingdom of your Peace. We ask that through their example and intercession, we too may be empowered to proclaim to those who yet live in darkness and fear, the Good News of your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ; that the whole world may come to know his salvation. Through the same Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

(The image above is from the cover of Father Carter's book. Buy it. Read it.)

Sunday, April 22, 2007

a question for those of you who pray the daily office (or anyone really)

Do you have a way to order your daily intentions? I.e. is there a system to your intercessory prayer? If so what is it? I.e. do you pray for family on Monday, clergy on Tuesday, heretics on Wednesday, the sick and suffering on Thursday, the dead on Friday, etc. etc.? How do you do it?

And a more general question: what is your daily prayer discipline? I'll tell you mine. Its straight-forward: Daily Morning and Evening Prayer (1662) (Coverdale Psalter), with the ECUSA 1979 Propers (lectionary, collects, etc.), the whole thing enriched with antiphons (from the English Office -- link in sidebar), and the Final Anthems of the BVM. Once a week or so I'll say the Litany of the Sacred Heart or something like that. Very occasionally I'll say the Rosary.

The reason I ask the first question is that I've never developed a system for intercession, so it remains sporadic and piecemeal. I have a kind of litany of proper names for whom I intercede (though not at every office). I feel the need for more order to my intercessions.

the virginia tech massacre: my sermon from today

I don't normally post my own sermons, but this one is germane to current events. Also, the media commentary and hand-wringing about this tragedy are really frustrating to listen to. Here is what I say:

Today’s reading from Acts [9.1-19] begins with Saul “breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord.” The reading ends with Saul being baptized and finding both illumination and strength.

“Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went…” that he might bind those whom he found who belonged to the Way.

And Ananias tells Saul that Saul is to be filled with the Holy Spirit, and regain his sight, and be filled with strength.

Here we see in the beginning a man filled with threats and murder, seeking to bind the disciples of Jesus. In the beginning we see Saul under the dominion of Satan, whom Jesus says “was a murderer from the beginning” (Jn. 8.44). And the Hebrew word “Satan” means accuser. And at the end of the reading we see Saul filled with the Holy Spirit, the giver of life. And the Greek word for Holy Spirit “parakletos” means Advocate. In the beginning Saul is under the dominion of the Accuser, who brings murder; and in the end he is filled with the divine Advocate, who brings life.

Last week 33 people were murdered at Virginia Tech, and our society is in the midst of a painful attempt to understand those murders. I believe that, as a culture, we lack the tools to come to terms with what was perpetrated that day, because our culture has become what many are calling “post-Christian.”

As you may know, the killer, Seung-Hui Cho, sent a rambling and vitriolic “manifesto” to NBC on the day of his rampage. While only parts of it have been released, it seems to paint a picture of an outsider, someone who was desperately lonely, who could not find a place for himself in the community in which he lived. In his writings, Cho rails against the decadence of university culture, against the promiscuity and the valuation and display of wealth, against drunkenness, and so forth. Having spent the last eight years of my life in American universities, I can tell you his description is pretty accurate – the social life of universities is libidinous and self-indulgent; it is dominated by pleasure-seeking to the exclusion of much else. And the thing is, in every university (and probably in every social-group or community) there are loners and weirdoes, people who don’t fit in – people who to some degree are ostracized by those who maintain and celebrate the dominant values of the group. My school had several of this sort of people. They didn’t get bids from fraternities; they weren’t invited to parties; they were sometimes openly ridiculed; they often sat alone in the dining hall. After awhile, usually after a year or so, they would give up trying to be a part of the group, and their desire to be accepted would be displaced by a more or less intense animus for the values of the community form which they were excluded – in the case of universities, this means that they often began to display an overt antipathy for the celebration of the passions in drunkenness, recreational drug use, and casual sex, all of which are the cornerstone of the social life of many universities. (Tom Wolfe has just written a novel about this called I am Charlotte Simmons.)

It worries me that American culture seems increasingly Dionysian. We seem increasingly to understand a healthy society to be a society in which the pleasure-seeking of its members is formally ordered and facilitated. It has become a cliché to say “It’s a free country” as a retort to those who question instances of one’s pleasure-seeking. Someone will say “you shouldn’t do this or that," and you’ll respond “it’s a free country.” As a society we are internalizing the notion that no one should interfere with the gratification of our passions. As often as not, this translates into our thinking that no one, not even the most helpless, should interfere with our pursuit of a pleasant, self-sufficient life – not the poor, not the emigrant, not even the unborn.

The thing that strikes me as most tragic about the Virginia Tech killer’s rambling manifesto was his indictment of our culture… that precisely because he was excluded from it, he was able in a sense to see it from the outside, in a clearer light perhaps than we are able to see it from within. Of course this does not absolve him from his actions – and its also not to say that his victims were individually hedonists. From what I hear, his murderous rampage was fairly indiscriminate. He perpetrated a horrendous and heartbreaking evil. But as a culture, to an indeterminate degree, we share in his guilt. To be sure: the blood of those students is on his hands. May God have mercy on him. But their blood is on our hands as well… because we hold up, or at best we tolerate, Dionysian values, and we exclude from our company those loners and weirdoes who are unable to join in our revels.

The 19th Century philosopher Friedriech Nietzsche was a proponent of Dionysian values – he advocated giving free reign to passion. Indeed, shortly before his death, he went insane and began signing his letters “Yours sincerely, Dionysus.” Nietzsche saw Christianity as a kind of slavery that stifles passion and prohibits people from flourishing, by constraining their freedom to do what they want to do. Nietzsche seemed to feel this personally, and he advocated a metaphorical devotion to the pagan god Dionysus, whose followers in antiquity would worship at wild parties, with drunkenness, ecstatic dancing, lewd sexuality, which would end with the ritual slaughter of a sacrificial victim, often an animal, but in the myths also sometimes a human, and indeed always (it was said) Dionysus himself. The god would then be reborn endlessly, to be re-murdered endlessly, to perpetuate the cult of passion and ecstasy. As with much of pagan mythology, there is a keen insight about human nature in the story of the cult of Dionysus, an insight that Nietzsche understood and embraced, but which we as a culture do not seem to see. The insight is this: the lust for violence is an integral component of the unbridled reign of human passion. Violence and murder are inevitably entailed by servitude to our appetitive desires. We can see this in the domestic abuse that often accompanies addiction; we can see it perhaps on a geopolitical level in our society’s addiction to oil, and we can see it in an excruciating way in last week’s tragedy in Virginia. The government of the passions sustains itself by violence and murder. And societies or communities that construe their self-purpose as guarding liberty in the basest sense of protecting an individual’s right to gratify his lusts… these kinds of societies are doomed to contend with violence and strife. And indeed in America: as our social ethics have become increasingly libertine, so have we seen a dramatic increase in violent crime.

So what is the answer? It may not surprise you to hear me say it: the answer is Jesus Christ, and him crucified. There are striking similarities between the story of Dionysus and the story of Jesus. Both are gods who are murdered and who return to life so that their followers can flourish. But there are striking dissimilarities too: for one thing, the myth of Dionysus was just that: a myth. Even pagans in antiquity understood this. Pagan myths were stories that explained the human condition - they were really allegories about invisible and impersonal gods, stories the efficacy of which was found through their ritual enactment. In Christianity, on the other hand, while we do find similar typologies, similar allegories, we are not dealing with a mere allegory. Our god is a real, historical person, who had flesh and blood – and this is a fact that is emphasized in the cycle of gospel readings after Easter, including today’s. Our God is not only the the undifferentiated Maker of Heaven and earth, dwelling in inaccessible darkness, but he also cooks breakfast for his friends. Our myth really took place; and whereas the pagan stories found their power through ritual enactment – with us, our ritual enactments have power in (and ONLY in) the historical veracity of what we are reenacting. Its reversed. Most significantly, however, our God is not a god who enables the gratification of our lusts through and endless cycle of being murdered and reborn. Rather Christ dies once for all, to bring about our flourishing by delivering us from slavery to our lusts. And we return again and again to our rituals – the sacraments – to access that once-for-all gift of deliverance and life, the gift which Jesus himself is, not merely on some distant and intangible Olympus, but in our world, on a hill outside Jerusalem, in the most holy sacrament of the altar, and in the hearts of all his faithful people.

The night before Jesus died he said “Now is the judgment of this world.” Because the work he was about to do was undertaken precisely to end, once for all, the cycle of human bondage to carnal desires with its foundation in vengeance and murder and the ritual placation of demons. This was something only a god could do, and not just any god, not Dionysus, but only the Lord of Lords. And this shows what Jesus meant when he said “I have not come to bring peace, but a sword” – the sword that is the judgment and the destruction of secular culture – a “sword that no human being can fail to dread or resent even though” (or perhaps because?) [Rene Girard] it represents God’s love for us, and is the overthrowing of the powers that bind us in darkness. To some degree we’ve all fallen in love with our captors, and Christ's judgment of "the ruler of this world" is hard for us to bear.

If we are to be honest, we have two choices: Dionysus or the Crucified. With Dionysus we get the gratification of our carnal appetites and the will to power, but (as Nietzsche understood), we must also embrace the violence and death on which its built. As a culture , if we choose Dionysus, we must be prepared for more and more Columbines and Virginia Techs….. Or we can choose the Crucified; we can submit our lives to him and find in his government of our hearts a life transformed by the power of the only true God, who not only is alive, but who is the Lord of life. In him alone, as St. Paul bears witness in today’s reading from Acts, in Christ alone are we delivered from threats and murder; in Christ alone will we find illumination and strength.

monk news

Here's an interesting little article in the NYT Sunday Magazine on the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal, a Franciscan reform order in based in New York. They play rock music and picket abortion clinics.

Postulant Andy, a 26-year-old from Chicago, is typical of today’s postulants. “I was looking at religious orders across the Midwest,” he said. “But I didn’t really fit any of them. You could see a big problem in religious life; it was very evident. A lot of orders didn’t have a prayer life; they didn’t go to Mass daily; they were very loose, not taking their poverty seriously.”

Friday, April 20, 2007

the british are coming!!! well, the welsh, anyway

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, announced April 16 that he intends to visit the United States this autumn in response to the invitation from the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church.

Speaking in a news conference in Toronto, Williams said he would make the visit together with members of the Standing Committee of the Primates, of which Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori is a member, and the Anglican Consultative Council.

"I look forward to some sharing of our experiences as pastors as well as discussion of the business of the Communion. These are complicated days for our church internationally and it's all the more important to keep up personal relationships and conversations," he said. "My aim is to try and keep people around the table as long as possible on this, to understand one another, and to encourage local churches on this side of the Atlantic and elsewhere to ask what they might need to do to keep in that conversation, to keep around the table."

Read it all from ENS. I guess this means the E-bay auction was a success?

south carolina bishop, take two

Statement of the Standing Committee of the Diocese of South Carolina for immediate release:On September 16, 2006, the people of the Diocese of South Carolina overwhelmingly elected the Very Rev. Mark Lawrence as our next bishop on the first ballot. We are fully persuaded that the Holy Spirit spoke in that election and we were reassured that a majority of both bishops and standing committee's intended to consent to this election. We are determined to carry forward our diocesan mission within the context of the canons which give order to our common life.Accordingly, at our meeting today, we unanimously passed a resolution reconvening the 216th annual meeting of the Diocese of South Carolina, with was recessed. At that re-convened meeting, we will request that the convention take the necessary steps to allow the calling of a special convention later in the summer for the purpose of again electing the Very Rev. Mark Lawrence. Formal notification will follow shortly.

Read the whole thing. Note that Lawrence received 1 more consent than was necessary, but PB Jefferts-Schori threw them out on a technicality -- as is believed, out of spite, since South Carolina has asked for alternative primatial oversight.

dennis canon fails again

Read the whole thing.

The Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society of the Episcopal Church (abbreviated DFMS) was told by a New York supreme court judge that it could participate as little more than an observer in the property dispute lawsuit by the Episcopal Diocese of Central New York against St. Andrews Church in Syracuse. Supreme Court Justice James P. Murphy in a written decision earlier this week ruled that "DFMS only asserts that St. Andrew's property is held in trust for the benefit of the Episcopal Church as promulgated by certain Episcopal canons, and as such, the Court finds its legal interest to be insufficient." The judge allowed DFMS to intervene in the ongoing lawsuit, but "that the permissive intervention of the DFMS should be limited."

Note this is not quite a repudiation of the Dennis Canon (I.7.4-5), but it is an expression of skepticism on the part of the judge that that canon makes TEC a significant party in the lawsuit. As far as the court is concerned, it's a dispute between the parish and the diocese, and 815 may only watch. The Dennis Canon states, "All real and personal property held by or for the benefit of any Parish, Mission or Congregation is held in trust for this Church and the Diocese thereof in which such Parish, Mission or Congregation is located." This decision is typical of those to which we've drawn your attention at Whitehall - judges tend to treat the Dennis Canon with skepticism, as a rule that applies to internal squabbles and not to real legal affairs. It's as if the local Yale Club (just an example) passed a by-law that it now owned all the cars belonging to its members, without all the members actually agreeing to hand over their titles. The Dennis Canon depends only upon internal coercion, strong-arm tactics, and threats for its effectiveness. The courts don't seem to recognize it. Luckily for 815, the aforementioned activities are a well-used part of the playbook. Yessiree, we at TEC are all about eliminating oppression in the world, as per the MDG's. If it were Akinola doing to his liberal parishes what TEC's bishops are doing to their conservative ones, we'd hear plenty of squawking on behalf of the powerless.

if christ be lifted up . . .

The Church of Jesus Christ is growing faster now that at any time in its 2,000 year history. Globally more than 90,000 new converts come to Christ each day with 20,000 new Christians confessing Christ daily in Africa, and 28,000 new Christians coming daily to Christ in China.The Rt. Rev. Derek Eaton, former Bishop of Nelson, New Zealand and now Assistant Bishop in the Diocese of Egypt told more than 1,000 missionary-minded Episcopalians and Anglicans at a New Wineskins for Global Missions conference that despite Western timidity and a deconstructionist gospel being foisted on the American Episcopal Church, there are 8,000 new adult Anglican believers coming to Christ each day across the globe."We are seeing 400 new Anglican churches open each week around the world. In the Province of Nigeria there are more Anglicans in church on Sunday than all the UK, North America and Australasia put together," he told a stunned audience . . ." Read the whole thing.

Compare this to the 2005 Episcopal Fast Facts, in which we find out TEC lost 42,000 members in 2004, and has dropped 8% over the last decade.

no more limbo about limbo

Read the whole thing from Reuters.

The Roman Catholic Church has effectively buried the concept of limbo, the place where centuries of tradition and teaching held that babies who die without baptism went. In a long-awaited document, the Church's International Theological Commission said limbo reflected an "unduly restrictive view of salvation."

The 41-page document was published on Friday by Origins, the documentary service of the U.S.-based Catholic News Service, which is part of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Pope Benedict, himself a top theologian who before his election in 2005 expressed doubts about limbo, authorized the publication of the document, called "The Hope of Salvation for Infants Who Die Without Being Baptised."

The verdict that limbo could now rest in peace had been expected for years. The document was seen as most likely the final word since limbo was never part of Church doctrine, even though it was taught to Catholics well into the 20th century.

"The conclusion of this study is that there are theological and liturgical reasons to hope that infants who die without baptism may be saved and brought into eternal happiness even if there is not an explicit teaching on this question found in revelation," it said.

"There are reasons to hope that God will save these infants precisely because it was not possible (to baptize them)."

The Church teaches that baptism removes original sin which stains all souls since the fall from grace in the Garden of Eden.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

from the anglican communion institute (father ephraim radner, et alia)

We are about to enter a church struggle of fearful proportions, and to assume that business will go on as usual is quite unrealistic.

Read it all here. As usual, its very good.

the saint michael's conference, southwest

I will be there this summer - as will Andy (from All Too Common), MM and Father Nelson (from Theology of the Body), Father Christopher (from Apostilicty), and a host of other bright young things. Anyone out there within the proper age range: I encourage you to go. Anyone out there who knows people in the proper age range: i encourage you to encourage them to go. I'm really looking forward to it and expect terrific things. If you're interested, either sign up via the website (link below), or email me. A link to my email address is at the bottom of the sidebar (on the right side of the blog). -WB+

June 24th-30th, 2007
For Ages 12-20 at Camp Crucis
Much more than a ‘Church Camp’, St. Michael’s Conference is a 7-day conference where an intentional community of prayer, support, and education helps to form young Christians to be witnesses to the world of the Saving Power of Jesus Christ.

Through worship, study, discussion, recreation, and relaxation, the community seeks both a clearer vision of God in Christ, and strength and power to fight evil and serve God. For most, it is such a joyful experience that they want it to continue, and many do continue by returning year after year.

Michael is a good patron Saint. He symbolizes a strong religion, the kind of religion where true joy is to be found. This conference has already borne much fruit in the life of the Church through the lives of those Michaelites (Conference participants) who are active in their respective parishes. We are committed to making the Conference available to the youth of the Southwestern region of the United States.

Our intention is not to do a “new” thing, but to faithfully hand on what has been given to us–the Catholic Faith of the universal Church. Our worship and practice are therefore unapologetically Anglo-Catholic, and our teaching orthodox.

A typical daily schedule for Monday through Friday

7:30 am Morning Prayer
8:00 am Solemn Mass
9:00 am Breakfast
10:00 am First Class Period
11:00 am Second Class Period
12:00 noon Third Class Period
1:00 pm Lunch
2:00 pm Free Time (social, sports, naps, etc.)
5:00 pm Evening Prayer & Faculty Talk
6:00 pm Dinner

6:45 pm Discussion Groups
8:00PM Evening Social Activity
10:30pm Clean Up
10:45 Compline
11:30 Lights Out Juniors
12:00 Lights Out Seniors

To register, please go to the website and follow the directions on the front page. The cost is $300.00 and you will need to send in a $100 deposit with your registration form. The balance of $200 will be due when you arrive at Camp Crucis for the Conference. Scholarships are available for those who need financial assistance.

St. Michael Prayer
t. Michael the Archangel, defend us in the day of battle; be our safeguard against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray; and do thou, Prince of the heavenly host, by the power of God, thrust down to hell Satan and all wicked spirits, who wander through the world for the ruin of souls. Amen.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

hstorical perspective from bernard lewis

Get more historical perspective here. (Via T19.) (Get your "Free Constantinople" bumper stickers here.) Bernard Lewis is the Cleveland E. Dodge Professor Emeritus of Near Eastern Studies at Princeton (though, pace the bumper sticker, Lewis is a supporter of Turkey).

The Muslim attack on Christendom and the resulting conflict, which arose more from their resemblances than from their differences, has gone through three phases. The first dates from the very beginning of Islam, when the new faith spilled out of the Arabian Peninsula, where it was born, into the Middle East and beyond. It was then that they conquered Syria, Palestine, Egypt, and North Africa--all at that time part of the Christian world--and went beyond into Europe, conquering a sizable part of southwestern Europe, including Spain, Portugal, and southern Italy, all of which became part of the Islamic world, and even crossing the Pyrenees into France and occupying for a while parts of France.

After a long and bitter struggle, the Christians managed to retake part but not all of the territory they had lost. They succeeded in Europe, and in a sense Europe was defined by the limits of that success. They failed to retake North Africa or the Middle East, which were lost to Christendom. Notably, they failed to recapture the Holy Land, in the series of campaigns known as the Crusades.

That was not the end of the matter. In the meantime the Islamic world, having failed the first time, was bracing for the second attack, this time conducted not by Arabs and Moors but by Turks and Tartars. In the mid-thirteenth century the Mongol conquerors of Russia were converted to Islam. The Turks, who had already conquered Anatolia, advanced into Europe and in 1453 they captured the ancient Christian citadel of Constantinople. They conquered a large part of the Balkans, and for a while ruled half of Hungary. Twice they reached as far as Vienna, to which they laid siege in 1529 and again in 1683. Barbary corsairs from North Africa--well-known to historians of the United States--were raiding Western Europe. They went to Iceland--the uttermost limit--and to several places in Western Europe, including notably a raid on Baltimore (the original one, in Ireland) in 1631. In a contemporary document, we have a list of 107 captives who were taken from Baltimore to Algiers, including a man called Cheney.

Again, Europe counterattacked, this time more successfully and more rapidly. They succeeded in recovering Russia and the Balkan Peninsula, and in advancing further into the Islamic lands, chasing their former rulers whence they had come. For this phase of European counterattack, a new term was invented: imperialism. When the peoples of Asia and Africa invaded Europe, this was not imperialism. When Europe attacked Asia and Africa, it was.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

deep thoughts from episcopal bishops

From the Diocese of Newark's website.

In the good ol' days, bishops issued statements about, oh, theology 'n' junk. Maybe I can get my bishop to issue a pastoral letter ruling out an NCAA Football playoff system.

Bishops' Joint Statement Regarding Radio Host Don Imus

We, the Bishops of the Episcopal Church in the Dioceses of Newark and New Jersey, are enthusiastic fans and supporters of the Women’s Basketball Team of Rutgers University.

We are deeply offended by the racist, sexist and demeaning comments of radio host Don Imus about the Rutgers team. While he has been generous to many charitable causes over the years (including the Hackensack University Medical Center), Imus’ words last week were cruel, reprehensible and inexcusable. He has distracted the public from the team’s wonderful achievements and the sterling character of its members.

By their strong and mature response to Mr. Imus’ insults, these young women of Rutgers have won a greater victory than an NCAA title. Their calm dignity and quiet confidence have been blessings to behold. Their light will not be overshadowed by the bigotry and insensitivity of a powerful media icon and his corporate sponsors.

We believe that Mr. Imus should face the consequences of his actions. Pending the outcome of his meeting with the team, we look for real changes in his conduct and his program. His failure to learn from this experience should result in his removal from the air.

The Rt. Rev. Mark M. Beckwith, Episcopal Bishop of Newark
The Rt. Rev. George E. Councell, Episcopal Bishop of New Jersey
The Rt. Rev. Carol J. Gallagher, Episcopal Bishop Assistant of Newark

more from father ephraim radner on the house of bishops' statement

Father Ephraim is on a roll. His (long) most recent reply to the House of Bishops' Statement is well (well, WELL) worth taking the time to read in full. Father Ephraim's analysis is absolutely devastating. I would love (love, LOVE) to read a liberal / ECUSA response to Father Ephraim here. He takes the bishops to task, point by point, and shows their statement to be, perhaps more than anything, incoherent -- but also filled with anachronism, theological error, historical inaccuracy, balled-faced animus, arrogance, and deception. Do read the whole thing. It is, in Father WB's opinion, the best and clearest piece on the ECUSA / Communion situation yet produced by anyone. Seriously.

[A minor quibble: Father Ephraim says that the House of Bishops' Statement is in fact, contrary to what has generally been said, unclear. I think that its clarity is in that it shows that the bishops are unwilling to reverse course, and therefore that it clearly reveals (1) the urgent necessity that provision be made for orthodox Anglicans in America, and (2) that the bishops will not cooperate with the Communion on the presenting issues. What is UNCLEAR is the American bishops (ir)rationale.]

Here are some excerpts (though there is much [much, MUCH] more in the document... do read it all!):

...either the matter of “full inclusion” (including to the episcopacy and same-sex unions and blessings) is a matter “indifferent”, and hence is open to compromise for the sake of the Communion; or the matter is one of essential doctrine and discipline, and therefore the bishops should simply confess openly their inability to tolerate and accept alternative views (including within the Communion).... What makes no sense is to claim there is “no going back” because of the essential evangelical issues at stake, yet also to proclaim a willingness to engage in open debate and possible new learning and readjustments of current discipline.

Re: the House of Bishops' discovery of a "generous Prayer Book orthodoxy" --

If the Prayer Book tradition has an “orthodoxy”, it is neither generous nor ungenerous, but sui generis, and that is what should be examined, not some myth of a pluralist commonwealth of religious questers that seems to lie behind the bishops’ vision.

Re: the House of Bishops' criticism of the primates in terms of the latter's supposed over-willingness to "break relationship" in a cultural climate where broken relationships are a big problem --

There is, in fact, something morally unsettling about the Statement’s attempt to appropriate the categories of fidelity, even of marital fidelity, in their argument against the Primates. Much like their attempt to co-opt the language of anti-colonialism, it is contradicted by the facts on the ground, some of them embodied personally by bishops themselves.

Finally, there is this:

With whom and under whom do we now fulfill our vows made before God? It is no longer possible to receive equally the claim made by the House of Bishops to be faithful to the apostolic trust, along with the claim by the “Church throughout the world” that this trust demands another set of actions and commitments. What then shall we do?

Our bishops have left us in a grievous and parlous position. It is true, as our bishops have said, that those who wish to “divide” the church are few. The concerns expressed above come from clergy, like myself, who have long labored to maintain the unity of TEC, internally and with the Communion. We do not wish what the bishops themselves, few in number though they be, are pressing upon us.

Let us who care for Christ’s embrace of Anglican Christianity in Communion redouble our prayers and our efforts to see that the will of Dar es Salaam unfold in God’s good time, and not be thwarted by another unilateral dictation of how the Communion ought to mirror the incoherent image of TEC. God help us. Much is at stake here. It is time to do all we can to assure that the Instruments of Communion be able to do their work unhindered. If TEC’s bishops do not wish to be a part of this, that is their decision. Let them have the courage of their convictions; but let us not quietly accept their invented Anglican Christianity that never existed anywhere before.

Monday, April 09, 2007

the archbishop of canterbury's easter sermon

Also very good. Read it all here. As you know, I have a special affection for the Solomon Islands, and the faithful Anglicans (and other Chrstians) there.

It was two and a half years ago; we had just finished a substantial open-air meal after a Eucharist on the football field in the tiny island of Malaita in the Solomons. The Premier of Malaita had been talking about the bloody civil war that had divided the islands until just a year earlier; and then he said, ‘I want you to bless us; I need to say in public that we were responsible as well as the people on the other islands. So I’m going to ask the crowd to be quiet, and then I’ll kneel down and ask you to pronounce God’s forgiveness for whatever we contributed to the horrors of these last years.’

keeping the faith

A very interesting article in the NY Times Magazine about Pope Benedict. It is trenchant in its analysis of the issues at play in Western culture, and in this Pope's thinking about those issues. It ends, however, with a hackneyed and jejune implication: that if the Catholic Church would just soften its moral teachings, it would be better positioned to speak to people in contemporary culture. The article quotes Fr Keith Pecklers (professor at the Gregorian): "On Sunday mornings, the people in the pews, in Europe or America, are very often divorced or gay or are using birth control. Or else they’re not in the pews; they’ve left the church." It then concludes by quoting Fr Reese (SJ), the editor of America, who was suspended from his post for allowing too much theological latitude in his journal: "Think of the silencing of theologians in recent decades... The suppression of discussion and debate. How certain issues become litmus tests for orthodoxy and loyalty. All of these make it very difficult to do the very thing Benedict wants" -- i.e. to reinject Christianity into Western culture.

It seems to me that ECUSA's efforts over the last thirty or forty years unquestionably belie that implication. Even if it were possible to make the moral teachings of the Church more palatable to contemporary mores, ECUSA's pathetic membership slide illustrates that such palatability doesn't translate into some kind of renewed interest in Christianity among those who have left the Church. It just tells them that the Church is realizing institutionally what secular folk came to believe decades, if not centuries, ago: that the Church was wrong all along.

But a softening of the Church's moral teaching is not possible to begin with: it is what it is. ECUSA's hierarchs are chasing a delusion born in the minds of people who came of age in the 1960's. They are the offspring of a curious romantic reaction to cold Enlightenment rationality, who have adopted the idiom of postmodernity for convenience, but who are thereby left with nothing to preach but weird platitudes ("God / Goddess loves you").

Catholic moral doctrine is an outgrowth of (and secondary to) catholic Christianity's sacramental ontology. We can't abandon our moral teachings without abandoning very fundamental truths about what is going on in the cosmos -- about God's love for his creation. And if you abandon the latter, then you have become secular or pagan (cf. ECUSA).

Anyway, here are some choice snippets from the NY Times Magazine article:

Sociologists and even some church officials routinely apply the term “post-Christian” to Europe or parts thereof. Spain is still deeply Catholic in its cultural identity, yet polls show half the country “almost never” attends Mass, and the government has defied the church in legalizing same-sex marriage and making abortion easier to obtain. A recent survey of the Church of England by researchers at the University of Wales showed that only 60 percent of its clergy believe in the virgin birth of Jesus, and 1 out of 33 Anglican priests doubts the existence of God.
“While Europe once was the Christian Continent, it was also the birthplace of that new scientific rationality which has given us both enormous possibilities and enormous menaces. . . . In the wake of this form of rationality, Europe has developed a culture that, in a manner hitherto unknown to mankind, excludes God from public awareness. . . . A culture has developed in Europe that is the most radical contradiction not only of Christianity but of all the religious and moral traditions of humanity.”
Or consider that after I attended the nearly empty Christmas season Mass at Sopra Minerva in Rome, I strolled a few hundred yards away, just across the Tiber, to find a radically different spectacle. The Basilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere is just as ancient and just as packed with icons that are featured in art-history texts as Sopra Minerva. Here 300 people filled the pews, as is more or less the case seven nights a week at 8:30 p.m. They were mostly in their 20s to 40s, most seemed to be professionals, a group both well shod and featuring some extreme eyewear. The setting couldn’t have been more Catholic, and yet it wasn’t a Mass that was taking place. No priest officiated; there was no Communion offered, no body and blood of Christ. It was an energetic, soulful lay service, a 30-minute meditation — a well-orchestrated mix of prayer and song on a spot where Christians have celebrated their rites since around 300 A.D., conducted by and for ordinary people. Precisely at 9 o’clock it ended; people gathered into clusters and chatted briefly and then everyone headed into the night.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

the holy father's easter message

Its very good. Read it all here. The theme is actually the same as my Easter sermon: This Jesus, who was crucfied, who forever bears the marks of his suffering, and who shows his wounds to us, is risen.

We may all be tempted by the disbelief of Thomas. Suffering, evil, injustice, death, especially when it strikes the innocent such as children who are victims of war and terrorism, of sickness and hunger, does not all of this put our faith to the test? Paradoxically the disbelief of Thomas is most valuable to us in these cases because it helps to purify all false concepts of God and leads us to discover his true face: the face of a God who, in Christ, has taken upon himself the wounds of injured humanity. Thomas has received from the Lord, and has in turn transmitted to the Church, the gift of a faith put to the test by the passion and death of Jesus and confirmed by meeting him risen. His faith was almost dead but was born again thanks to his touching the wounds of Christ, those wounds that the Risen One did not hide but showed, and continues to point out to us in the trials and sufferings of every human being.


In fact, by his rising the Lord has not taken away suffering and evil from the world but has vanquished them at their roots by the superabundance of his grace. He has countered the arrogance of evil with the supremacy of his love. He has left us the love that does not fear death, as the way to peace and joy.

alleluia! alleulia! alleluia!

Happy Easter! At my parish, during the Great Vigil, we blessed the Baptismal Water in the old manner, a la the missal. Here is what was sung by candle-light, amid thick clouds of incense. It was downright emergent:

As the Procession approaches the font, the choir will sing the Canticle: Like as the hart desireth the water brooks.

Celebrant Almighty and everlasting god, mercifully look upon the devout prayer of this people called to a new birth, who, like the hart, seek the fountain of your waters: and mercifully grant that the thirst of their faith may, by the mystery of baptism, sanctify them in body and soul.

People Amen.

Celebrant Almighty and everlasting God, be preset at the mysteries, be present at the sacraments of your great goodness: and send forth the spirit of adoption for the regeneration of the new peoples whom the font of baptism brings forth unto you; that this office and ministry of your unworthy servants may be effectually fulfilled by your power. Through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God. Throughout all ages world without end. Amen.

Celebrant The Lord be with you.
People And also with you.
Celebrant Lift up your hearts.
People We lift them up unto the Lord.
Celebrant Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
People It is right to give him thanks and praise.

Celebrant It is right, and a good and joyful thing, always and everywhere to give thanks to you, O Lord, holy Father, almighty everlasting God: who by your invisible power wondrously gives effect to the work of your sacraments. And though we are unworthy to perform mysteries so great: yet you do not leave us destitute of the gifts of your grace, but mercifully incline your ears even unto these our supplications. O God, whose Spirit in the first beginnings of the world moved over the waters: that even then the nature of water might conceive the virtue of sanctification. O God, who washed away in the waters the iniquities of a sinful world, and even in the outpouring of the flood showed forth in a figure our regeneration: that by the mystery of this same element there should be an end to sin and likewise a beginning of virtue. Look, O Lord, upon the face of your Church, and multiply in her the power of your regeneration: for you make glad your city by the streams of your abundant grace, and open the fount of baptism throughout the whole world for the renewing of the nations: that by the command of your majesty she may receive from the Holy Spirit the grace of your only-begotten Son.

(Dividing the water in the form of a cross) May he, by the secret mingling of his divine power, make fruitful this water prepared for the regeneration of mankind: that having received sanctification and being born again a new creature, there may come forth an offspring of heaven from the spotless womb of this divine fountain; that all, whether sex divide them in body, or age in time, may alike be brought forth into one childhood by grace, their mother. Far hence, O Lord, at your command let every unclean spirit depart: far hence be all the wickedness of the craft of the devil. Let no power of the enemy here have place or portion: let it neither ensnare nor encompass us: let it not waylay us in secret: let it not taint us with corruption.

May this holy and undefiled creature be free from every assault of the enemy, and purified by the departure of all iniquity. May it be a living fountain of regenerative water, a purifying stream: that all who shall be washed in this laver of salvation may, by the operation of the Holy Spirit within them, obtain the grace of perfect purification.

(Making three crosses over the water) Wherefore I bless you, O creature of water, by the living + God, by the true + God, by the holy + God; by God who in the beginning through his word divided you from the dry land: whose Spirit moved over your surface (he scatters the water with his hand towards the four quarters of the world) who made you to flow from the fountain of paradise, and commanded you to water the whole earth with your four rivers; who in the desert bestowed upon you sweetness when you were bitter, that men might drink; and brought you forth from the rock for the thirsting people. I bless you also by Jesus Christ his only Son, our Lord, who in Cana of Galilee by a wondrous miracle changed you through his power into wine; who walked upon you with his feet; and was baptized in you by John in the Jordan; who brought you forth together with blood from his side; and commanded his disciples that believing, they should be baptized in you, saying, “Go and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” Almighty God, mercifully assist our prayer who keep these your commandments: graciously breathe upon us. (He breathes three times on the water in the form of a cross) Bless with your word and power this element of water, that, as by nature it has power to cleanse and wash the body, so also it may be effectual for the purifying of the soul. (He lowers the Paschal Candle three times into the water.)

May the power of the Holy Spirit descend upon the fullness of this font.

May the power of the Holy Spirit descend upon the fullness of this font.

May the power of the Holy Spirit descend upon the fullness of this font and make the whole substance of this water to be fruitful unto regeneration. Here may the stains of every sin be blotted out; here may nature, created in your image, be restored to the honor of its first estate, that every man who comes to this sacrament of regeneration may be born again unto the new childhood of true innocence. Through Jesus Christ your Son, our Lord, who shall come to judge the quick and the dead, and the world by fire.

People Amen.

Celebrant (Pouring in the Oil of Catechumens) May this font be sanctified and made fruitful by the Oil of salvation, for such as shall be born again from it, unto life everlasting.

People Amen.

Celebrant (Pouring in the Chrism) May this inpouring of the Chrism of our Lord Jesus Christ, and of the Holy spirit, the Paraclete, be wrought in the name of the Holy Trinity.

People Amen.

Celebrant (Pouring in both Oils together) May this commingling of the Chrism of sanctification and of the Oil of unction, and of the water of baptism, be likewise wrought in the name of the father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

People Amen.

Friday, April 06, 2007

i hope you are having a penitential triduum

O all ye who passe by, behold and see

Man stole the fruit, but I must climbe the tree;
The tree of life to all, but onely me:
Was ever grief like mine?

Lo, here I hang, charg’d with a world of sinne,
The greater world o’ th’ two; for that came in
By words, but this by sorrow I must win:
Was ever grief like mine?

Such sorrow as, if sinfull man could feel,
Or feel his part, he would not cease to kneel.
Till all were melted, though he were all steel:
Was ever grief like mine?

But, O my God, my God! why leav’st thou me,
The sonne, in whom thou dost delight to be?
My God, my God ------
Never was grief like mine.

Shame tears my soul, my bodie many a wound;
Sharp nails pierce this, but sharper that confound;
Reproches, which are free, while I am bound.
Was ever grief like mine?

Now heal thy self, Physician; now come down.
Alas! I did so, when I left my crown
And fathers smile for you, to feel his frown:
Was ever grief like mine?

In healing not my self, there doth consist
All that salvation, which ye now resist;
Your safetie in my sicknesse doth subsist:
Was ever grief like mine?

Betwixt two theeves I spend my utmost breath,
As he that for some robberie suffereth.
Alas! what have I stollen from you? Death.
Was ever grief like mine?

A king my title is, prefixt on high;
Yet by my subjects am condemn’d to die
A servile death in servile companie:
Was ever grief like mine?

They give me vineger mingled with gall,
But more with malice: yet, when they did call,
With Manna, Angels food, I fed them all:
Was ever grief like mine?

They part my garments, and by lot dispose
My coat, the type of love, which once cur’d those
Who sought for help, never malicious foes:
Was ever grief like mine?

Nay, after death their spite shall further go;
For they will pierce my side, I full well know;
That as sinne came, so Sacraments might flow:
Was ever grief like mine?

But now I die; now all is finished.
My wo, mans weal: and now I bow my head.
Onely let others say, when I am dead,
Never was grief like mine.

-- From
The Sacrifice by George Herbert
(Read the whole thing here.)

Thursday, April 05, 2007

simul haereticus et anglicanus

If you'd like to mortify your intellect during these last days of Lent, go to Stand Firm and read the most unedifying and pointless post I've ever seen there: David Ould's anti-catholic polemic masquerading as a soliloquy on justification by faith.

For fun, count the synonyms for "poop" in the post and the ensuing comments. Its probably the most instructive engagement you could have with this little essay.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

solomon islands

An earthquake and tsunami hit parts of the Solmon Islands yesterday. People have died. Villages have been destroyed. The Anglican Province of Melanesia is one of the most robust and faithful things I've ever witnessed (and v. catholic). They have the largest religious community in the Anglican Communion -- the Melanesian Brotherhood, which has upwards of 500 brothers and novices, and which has been a powerful witness for our Lord (they are pictured above, at the funeral of the brothers martyred on Guadalcanal in 2003). They go out barefoot, two by two, with only the clothes on their back and a staff; they work miracles and lay down their lives for the Prince of Peace. I lived with them for some months, several years ago. It changed me.

So I love the Solomon Islands. Try and find ways to help those effected by this tsunami. If nothing else, pray.

Monday, April 02, 2007

from archbishop gomez

"To speak of Anglicanism today, either as a church tradition or as an ecclesial communion, is to speak of one of the most vibrant and unstable expressions of Christianity within the world," said the Most Rev. Drexel Gomez, archbishop of the West Indies.

Read the whole thing here.