Monday, July 30, 2007

the moral compass

step right up and spin the wheel. See how the Episcopalians measure up.

I recommend exploring the website. Some interesting stuff here about the presence of religion in the virtual world.

bp. duncan expresses despair at network meeting

"God, in His wisdom, has not used us to reform The Episcopal Church, to bring it back to its historic role and identity as a reliable and mainstream way to be a Christian. Instead The Episcopal Church has embraced de-formation – stunning innovation in Faith and Order – rather than reformation," Duncan stated.

Read it all.

the vatican goes high-tech

VIENNA, Austria - Organizers of Pope Benedict XVI's visit to Austria next month are offering the faithful a foretaste: daily cell phone text messages with quotes from the pontiff.

The Archdiocese of Vienna said the service, which began Sunday and will continue through the pope's Sept. 7-9 visit, will provide free excerpts of his sermons, blessings and writings.

Read it all from Yahoo News.

church of what's happening now

Here's a list of the resolutions that passed at the recent Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) national Convention. There are several that mention abortion: the DoC have been pro-choice since the very moment of Roe vs. Wade. Note the resolution against overweight clergy (perhaps they'd save even more money on the church health insurance plan if they cracked down on smoking clergy, and elderly clergy, and clergy with really fast sports cars), the affirmative action resolution for racial representation among clergy (does proportional representation make St. Paul's list of qualifications in I Timothy?), the resolution restoring our connection with our food through participation in local farming initiatives, resolutions against torture, for universal children's health insurance, against big tobacco, supporting all immigration, and of course the obligitory anti-Iraq-war resolution.

Several things worry me about this list:
1. Most of these resolutions are toothless, in that they don't contain provisions about funding or delegations of responsibility to make sure this stuff gets done. A DoC pastor friend of mine who was there described them as 'feel good resolutions'. The Episcopal Church is very good about following up its resolutions with concrete action - however, I'm not sure if that makes me more or less worried about our own convention's actions.

2. Most of these resolutions are chock full of statistics and policy suggestions and the latest findings of science and culture, but they're thin on bible and theology; granted, in the DoC, most of that spadework has already been done and can be assumed; but I worry that church conventions are now expected to be more activist than reflective, more political than theological. TEC definitely suffered from the same malady in the Summer of 06. This whole grab for political relevance smacks of temptation to me. When Jesus had a chance to comment on the hot issues of His day, He said, "Render unto Ceasar the things that are Ceasar's, and unto God the things that are God's." and "My kingdom is not of this world." It was a sidestep, an attempt to refocus our minds on God rather than on today's issues. Church conventions ought to keep that example in mind. And after all, oughtn't there to be at least ONE place in our world where we set aside the divisive concerns of our temporal world and live together as citizens of an heavenly city?

faith and order anniversary

... church historian and Lutheran pastor Dr. Martin Marty, professor emeritus at the University of Chicago, summarized the many ecumenical accomplishments of the Faith and Order movement in the last 50 years. He cited advances such as mergers of denominational variations into united churches; the development of various state, national and world councils of churches; the number of full-communion agreements; and theological breakthroughs such as the signing of the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification by the Roman Catholic Church and the Lutheran World Federation.

At the same time, Marty counseled against minimizing the difficulties the movement still faces. These difficulties are not so much in the area of faith, he observed, which operates in the area of mystery, depth and amplitude but is hard to define. Rather, the "sticking points" have to do with sexual issues and authority issues, he said. These still remain communion-dividing issues within and among the churches and keep Christians from sharing the common Eucharist.

Read the whole thing here. Faith and Order has always been the theological side of the modern ecumenical movement. Dr. Marty contends the thorniest theological disagreements have been either solved or made moot, issues such as baptism, the presence of Christ in the Eucharist, and liturgical differences. Only ecclesiological and social issues remain. What do you Whitehallians think? Has Faith and Order brought us substantive change, or are its accomplishments, such as the influential Lima statement from 1982, merely an illusion, with real differences hiding behind vague language? What is the best measure of success in the ecumenical effort -- agreed statements and signed concordats, or common work and worship, or something else?

ingmar bergman has died

Read about it here. I appreciate Bergman. His films resonate. I worry that he never saw the light, though I think Fr Kimel has disagreed with me on this point.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

a word of hope from saint augustine

The city which has given us birth according to the flesh still abides, God be thanked. O that it may receive a spiritual birth, and together with us pass over unto eternity! If the city which has given us birth according to the flesh abide not, yet that which has given us birth according to the Spirit abides for ever."The Lord does build up Jerusalem." Has He by sleeping brought His building to ruin, or by not keeping it, let the enemy into it? "Except the Lord keep the city, he that keeps it wakes but in vain." And what "city"? "He that keeps Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep." What is Israel, but the seed of Abraham? What the seed of Abraham, but Christ? "And to your seed," he says, "which is Christ." And to us what says he? "But you are Christ's, therefore Abraham's seed, heirs according to the promise." "In your seed," says He, "shall all nations be blessed." The holy city, the faithful city, the city on earth a sojourner, has its foundation in heaven. O faithful one, do not corrupt your hope, do not lose your charity,"gird up your loins," light, and hold out your lamps before you; "wait for the Lord, when He will return from the wedding." Why are you alarmed, because the kingdoms of the earth are perishing? Therefore has a heavenly kingdom been promised you, that you might not perish with the kingdoms of the earth. For it was foretold, foretold distinctly, that they should perish. For we cannot deny that it was foretold. Your Lord for whom you are waiting, has told you,"Nation shall rise up against nation, and kingdom against kingdom." The kingdoms of the earth have their changes; He will come of whom it is said, "and of His kingdom there shall be no end."

(From Sermon 55, on Luke 11)

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

another picture from the st. michael's conference

father peter toon on what's most likely to happen

Sadly, I have to say I agree that this seems the most likely scenario:

As things stand in July 2007, the scenario, in my view, that is most likely to happen in the USA is not that there will be the old PECUSA (as a Unitarian Liturgical Church) doing its own thing on its own, and a new "orthodox" Province in the USA, part of a 38 member Global Anglican Communion, proclaiming orthodoxy alongside the degraded old PECUSA. A more likely scenario will be that the old PECUSA continues with a few (by comparison with the liberal majority) conservative dioceses; that several African Provinces have dioceses or networks in the USA (overlapping each other and sometimes competing one with another), that there are all kinds of associations and links of parishes with other overseas bishops; that the number of small jurisdictions of continuing Anglicans of one kind or another continues and increases, even as a few of them unite with one another; and that an increasing number of Anglicans in frustration either cease to be church goers (as happened in a massive way in the 1970s with the introduction of the new liturgies and women priests) or go to Rome or Orthodox or various forms of Protestantism-especially interdenominational churches. To create a new Province in the USA will be exceptionally difficult for it will need in the USA powerful (but rarely experienced) centripetal forces and from overseas all kinds of diplomatic, theological and constitutional help and advice. And the wrath of the old PECUSA will work to make it not happen!

From here. If this is indeed the way things ago, as seems to me most likely, I think Anglicanism will have been vindicated as just another protestant denomination and perhaps it will be time to disband and join other families. A depressing thought. In the meantime, buckle down where you are, and proclaim the Gospel.

Friday, July 20, 2007

catholicity -- part one: the primitive unity

The following was first published in 1947. It is from:


A Study in the Conflict of Christian Traditions in the West

being a Report presented to His Grace the Archbishop of Canterbury

E.S. Abbott
H.J. Carpenter
V.A. Demant
Gregory Dix
T.S. Eliot
A.M. Farrer
F.W. Green
A.G. Herbert
R.C. Mortimer
A.M. Ramsey
A. Reeves
C.H. Smyth
The Bishop of Southampton
L.S. Thornton

Part I, Section 1

It is inevitable that in trying to understand the problems which arise from our divisions we should look back to the primitive unity created by our Lord, and ask what sort of unity this was. It consisted no only in unity of organization or in the promise of a world-wide universality, nor yet in the bond of charity: it consisted rather in a whole via vitae which included belief, worship and morals. It is often remembered that in the seventeenth chapter of St. John our Lord prayed for the unity of His disciples: it is sometimes forgotten, however, in our modern discussions that this prayer for their unity was linked with His prayer for their sanctification in the truth: 'Sanctify them in Thy truth; Thy word is truth'. The unity of Christians, coming as it does from the unity of the Father and the Son, is interwoven with their sanctification in the truth which our Lord delivers.

The unity, in all its aspects, has sprung directly out of the entrance of God into human history in the eschatological event of Redemption. This event includes the age-long preparation of Israel for the Messiah. It has its centre in His birth, life, death and resurrection. It includes no less the church which is His Body, and the Spirit who through this Body brings tinto the world the powers of the age to come. It is vital in our believe that the Church is a part of the eschatological event, and a Divine fact. For the essence of the Church is our Lord, who is both the summing-up of the old Israel, and the head of the new Israel. Thus the members of the church do not constitute the unity themselves: rather they are brought into a unity which is there already. In the words of Archbishop Frederick Temple:

'Men speak as if Christians came first and the Church after: as if the origin of the Church was in the wills of the individuals who composed it. But, on the contrary, throughout the teaching of the Apostles, we see it is the Church that comes first, and the members of it afterwards.... In the New testament... the Kingdom of Heave is already in existence, and men are invited into it. The Church takes its origin, not in the will of man, but in the will of the Lord Jesus Christ.... Everywhere men are called int: they do not come in and make the Church by coming. They are called into that which already exists: they are recognized as members when they are within; but their membership depends on their admission, and not upon their constituting themselves into a body in the sight of the Lord'.

(from the Sermon: Catholicity and Individualism, preached at the consecration of Truro Cathedral.)

To be continued.... Comments so far?

iran arrests 14 squirrels on charges of espionage

You can tell that Iran is feeling a little beleaguered these days when there are reports that Tehran may be under attack from rodents!

That is what the official Islamic Republic News Agency reported this week, that police had, ahem, "arrested" 14 squirrels on charges of espionage.

The rodents were found near the Iranian border, allegedly equipped with eavesdropping devices, according to IRNA.

When asked to confirm the story, Esmaeel Ahmadi Moghadam, the national police chief, said, "I have heard about it, but I do not have precise information." He declined to give any more details

IRNA said that the squirrels were discovered by foreign intelligence services – but were captured by police officers several weeks ago.

Read it all here.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

from j.m. neale's translation of the sarum diurnal

At Matins bound, at Prime reviled, condemned to death at Tierce;
Nailed to the Cross at Sexts; at Nones his blessed side they pierce;
They take him down at Vesper-tide, in grave at Compline lay;
Who henceforth bids his Church observe these seven hours alway.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

convenient truth

A new Anglo-Papist blogger, Jeffrey at Omnibus Sanctis. Check out his sage commentary on the motu proprio.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Thursday, July 12, 2007

mystical exegesis of psalm 45

That's what I've been reading.  Take for example verse 9 / 10:  "Kings' daughters were among thy honourable women:  upon thy right hand did stand the queen in a vesture of gold, wrought about with divers colours."

Richard of St. Victor writes:  "O most sweet light of the purified mind, O wisdom of all the sciences, which are, as it were, honourable women to the Queen, that queen who always standeth on the right hand of God in a vesture of gold.  Sometimes as a herald before a king, sometimes as a sound before the articulate word, sometimes as righteousness before the face of God, sometimes as the law in the presence of the Judge, so are these her handmaids to her, the Queen.  But thou, O Queen, art thyself the immaculate law, the faithful testimony of the Lord, the lucid precept, the right judgment, the holy fear of God, the sweet meditation, herald and interpreter of the entire God."

Historical criticism is so boring.

the new religion (ecusa) and the sanctity of life

The following is an insightful comment from Dave on Stand Firm's latest on the recent furor over the Rev'd Elizabeth Kaeton's grotesque fantasies:

What this whole episode has driven home to me on a visceral level is that we’re not in a debate over abstractions. We’re in a struggle where ideas have immediate and direct consequences for the soul. Our Worthy Opponents’ demand for absolute autonomy and freedom to pursue desires and to define themselves by those desires leads to a deep revulsion at the institution that most attenuates desire and freedom in the name of something higher: the family.

This is NOT just a case of one side rallying around a banner, or “cheering for the laundry.” It shows in distinct terms the practical consequences of ideas, in this case the effect of liberal “Christianity” on one’s feeling and sensitivity towards families and the intrinsic good of children. There is, of course, a connection between Kaeton’s lifestyle, her willingness to threaten Anne Kennedy, and her belief in the absolute good of abortion.

I read this essay a couple of years ago and I think I was just as repulsed by it as I was by her cruel “dream” about Anne’s children. In it she recounts the yearly ritual of a woman who has been haunted and eaten away with guilt over an abortion she had 30 years ago. But rather than pastorally guide this poor soul into the freedom of repentance and the path of healing that only Christ can provide, she affirms this woman’s actions, and constructs a grotesque new ritual (dare I say “liturgy") in which the child is memorialized and grieved over, while at the same time the action that took the child’s life is also affirmed as “sacred.” Even in the face of 30 years of grief and guilt as the result of an abortion, Kaeton couldn’t bring herself to question the absolute and intrinsic good—indeed the “sacredness” of a woman’s “right to choose.”

As if it needed saying: a basic spiritual insensitivity to life is present in both episodes, and are not just a case of one unhinged lesbian priest’s unguarded tirade. In both cases, the root moral cause is a demand for absolute freedom without qualification, and the abstract idea that animates this demand is the rejection of the propositional moral authority of Christianity proper.

Both cases demonstrate once again what’s at stake in the current debates: not just ideas, but whether or not we can build a Church and a community that cultivates a feeling for the sacredness of life, instead of a pseudo-Church that memorializes atrocities and cultivates a fixation on death.

Monday, July 09, 2007


I hate posting on stuff like this because its so unedifying.  But I feel some kind of deontological compulsion.

The Rev'd Elizabeth Kaeton is an ECUSA Priest in the diocese of Newark.  She is the president of their standing committee.  She is a partnered lesbian.  She has a blog.  She's an outspoken advocate of the New Religion that is the Episcopal Church in the United States of America.  She is apparently a deeply troubled person.

Father Matt Kennedy is the mind behind Stand Firm.  Yesterday Ms. Kaeton mused very publicly (on her blog) about Father Kennedy's wife, the Rev'd Anne Kennedy.  Ms. Kaeton has decided that Mrs. Kennedy is a domestic slave, and that one day she will doubtless murder her own children, and then lay "their lifeless little bodies in a perfect row on their perfectly made beds in their perfect suburban home", and that the Kennedy children will thereby become martyrs of the feminist cause, unmasking the oppressiveness of the patriarchy at the root of traditional (=hateful) Christianity.  Thus Ms. Kaeton's thoughts seem to run.

Read it all here if you like.  Its shockingly gross, but also shockingly honest.

I think Ms. Kaeton probably has a diseased mind.  I'd guess that she's suffered in life, probably at the hands of men.  That's just a guess.  But people usually don't think such horrid thoughts, nor give voice to them, out of the blue, nor even calculatedly, nor certainly out of humility, nor ever out of love.  But while Ms. Kaeton's own baggage may explain why she'd think such thoughts and record them in a very public venue, it doesn't excuse her behavior.  I hope she asks God and the Kennedy's for forgiveness, and I hope she can find the courage and humility to look for the help she needs to deal with the stuff in her consciousness that this vileness bubbled out of.  

May God bless Father Matt and Anne Kennedy and their children, and Elizabeth Kaeton and her partner and their families.

confessions of an episcopal fundamentalist

I highly recommend the Rev. Kenneth D. Aldrich's article in the July edition of The Living Church. It's available on-line here. He does a great job of stating, in terms recognizable to liberal Episcopalians, the basics of straight-up traditionalist Christianity. He could have done more with the history and character of the movement, for which I recommend you read this website. It has a great list of legitimate and scholarly fundamentalist websites at the bottom.

I wrote a letter to the Editor of TLC about this article, which I hope they publish. While researching for that letter, I came across this website from the PCA Historical Center, an Archive & Manuscript Repository for the Continuing Presbyterian Church. It had the full text of the Doctrinal Deliverance of 1910, one of the seminal statements of American Fundamentalism, which is still a good guide to the movement's theological and cultural underpinnings. According to this document, widely influential in American fundamentlism, the five "Fundamentals" of the Christian faith are these:

1. The inerrant inspiration of Holy Scripture (as I read it, this statement is compatible with the belief that the bible is inerrant in all matters of faith and morals but not necessarily so in matters historical and scientific);

2. the Virgin Birth of Christ;

3. the doctrine of a substitutionary atonement;

4. the bodily resurrection of Christ from the dead;

5. the reality of the miracles reported in the Gospels.

If you believe these five things, welcome to the ranks of the Fundamentalists. The label is yours for the taking, and I suggest you do. Most of the baggage we associate with fundamentalists and their churches is not theological but comes from bad personal experiences or economic classism - wealthy East-Coast liberal churchmen sneering at the crass and unsophisticated theologies of lower-class midwesterners. The irony is that many so-called or self-styled fundamentalist churches do not themselves know thier roots or what they stand for, or their very important place in the history of this country and of the Church in America.

I note, also, since Fr. WB has started us in the sad irony department, that according to the PCA Historical Center, the 1910 Doctrinal Deliverance came as a result of some irregular ordinations (sound familiar?) of clergy who refused to affirm the virgin birth and were charged with heresy (sound familiar?), and that the charges were dismissed (sound familiar?), and that some years after this excellent stand on their part, the PCUSA General Assembly repealed the Deliverance, claiming that as a General Assembly it had no authority to say what was essential to believe and what was not (sound familiar? try getting General Convention to affirm any fundamentals! or our new Presiding Bishop, for that matter.).

Friday, July 06, 2007

from the sad ironies department

You may remember the ECUSA Priest / Moslem, Dr. Ann Holmes Redding, who was the talk of the town a couple of weeks ago.  Well, she's been inhibited by her ECUSA Bishop, Geralyn Wolf of Rhode Island.  That means she's forbidden from functioning as an ECUSA priest for the time being.

Dr. Redding stated that "The church is going to have to divorce me if it comes to that.  I'm not going to go willingly."  That seems like a typically contemporary Episcopalian response.  "I refuse to accept that my actions have consequences!  I must be allowed to do whatever I want!  My actions must be affirmed, no matter what!"

The final irony is that while Dr. Redding is forbidden to teach, preach, or function at any ECUSA parish or institution, she has accepted an invitation to teach at the Roman Catholic Seattle University.  What strange days these are.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

another picture from the st. michael's conference

"And the Light shineth in the darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not."

I can't emphasize enough how awesome an experience it was.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

michael glatze is courageous

This is moving. I don't want to say that all, or even most, gay people can stop being gay by some kind of decision or therapy, because I don't know what its like to be them. But for the same reason, I don't want to say that some gay people CAN'T change. There are lots of well meaning people on both sides of the theological debate who take one stance or the other for rhetorical purposes. They ought not to do so. A better approach is to listen to people's stories with empathy, and expect that they will do their best to obey Christ.

Michael Glatze's story is this:

(Hat tip: SF.)

After becoming editor of Young Gay America magazine at age 22, Glatze received numerous awards and recognition, including the National Role Model Award from the major homosexual-rights organization Equality Forum. Media gravitated toward him, leading to appearances on PBS television and MSNBC and quotes in a cover story in Time magazine called "The Battle Over Gay Teens."

He produced, with the help of PBS affiliates and Equality Forum, the first major documentary film to address homosexual teen suicide, "Jim In Bold," which toured the world and received numerous "best in festival" awards. Young Gay America's photo exhibit, telling the story of young people across North America, toured Europe, Canada and parts of the U.S.

In 2004, Glatze moved from San Francisco to Halifax in eastern Canada where his partner, Young Gay America magazine's publisher, had family. The magazine, he said, sought to provide a "virtuous counterpart" to the other newsstand media aimed at homosexual youth.

But Glatze contends "the truth was, YGA was as damaging as anything else out there, just not overtly pornographic, so more 'respected.'"

In 2005, Glatze was featured in a panel with Judy Shepard, mother of slain homosexual Matthew Shepard, at the prestigious JFK Jr. Forum at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government.

"It was after viewing my words on a videotape of that 'performance,'" he writes, "that I began to seriously doubt what I was doing with my life and influence."

"Knowing no one who I could approach with my questions and my doubts, I turned to God," he says. "I'd developed a growing relationship with God, thanks to a debilitating bout with intestinal cramps caused by the upset stomach-inducing behaviors I'd been engaged in."

Toward the end of his time with Young Gay America, Glatze said, colleagues began to notice he was going through some kind of religious experience.

Just before leaving, not fully realizing what he was doing, he wrote on his office computer his thoughts, ending with the declaration: "Homosexuality is death, and I choose life."

Monday, July 02, 2007

where have i been?

Last week I was at the Saint Michael's Conference.  It was incredible.  Frankly, it was wonderful to get away from Episcopal nonsense and news of the same, and do something totally positive and constructive.  All week I was awash in teenagers (61 of them), birettas, daily Solemn High Mass, daily Solemn Evensong, and unadulterated catholicism.  I taught a class called "Christ and the Cosmos" which I meant to be a simplified theology of creation.  My only regret was that I didn't have more time.

One night we had Benediction.  The kids loved it.  The Masses were basically English Missal masses -- a.k.a. Rite I with all the proper ceremonial poured into the cracks in the Prayer Book rubrics (the six salutations, Orate Fratres, Ecce Agnus Dei, Postcommunion, Last Gospel, etc.).  One of ours priests himself made several sets of vestments -- chasubles, dalmatics, tunicles, copes -- for the Conference.  They were all absolutely beautiful.

We heard about 50 confessions from the kids during the course of the week, most of them first confessions.  During the last two nights of the conference, we had Exposition and Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament after Compline, and stationed priests around the chapel to hear confessions in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament.  It was beautiful.

The kids, by and large, seemed to love pretty much everything.  By the end they were weeping and swearing loyalty to new friends, wishing aloud that the conference lasted another week.

The picture above is from Benediction, Wednesday night.  The sight of 61 teenagers all kneeling perfectly devoutly, adoring Jesus, was incredibly encouraging.