January 2006 Archives

Here is a good commentary from the TimesOnline (Longdon Times, that is) by Dr Geoffrey Rowell, the Bishop of Gibraltar in Europe. (I found this on Kendall Harmons' titusonenine, thanks!)


The dangers of unbalancing the 'broad church' of Anglicanism Credo

by Geoffrey Rowell
The Times January 28, 2006


A FEW weeks ago a European diplomat asked me to explain what was meant by saying that the Church of England was “a broad church”. As Anglican travellers know all too well, it is quite difficult to explain the identity of Anglicanism to many Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant Christians with no experience of the Church of England. It is, we say, both Catholic and reformed, a Church that experienced the Reformation of the 16th century, yet was careful to maintain the historic threefold apostolic ministry of bishop, priest and deacon; a Church that in its orders of morning and evening prayer (matins and evensong) creatively continued the pattern of the old monastic daily offices, but adapted for congregations; and which retained not only the sacraments, but sacramental signs like the ring in marriage and the sign of the cross in baptism.

If there was concern for reformation, there was also concern for continuity, and it was the faith and order of the early centuries of the Church that were looked to as the benchmark of the English Reformation. Later medieval patterns of worship and practice were tested against the practice of the undivided church of east and west and early apologists for the Church of England emphasised that the English Reformation was a reformation by tradition.

As the genius of the Church of England grew and developed within the broad structure of its “reformed Catholicism” there was room for those with different theological emphases. So the Church of England accommodated groups with differing expressions of worship and different theologies, often co-existing happily, sometimes fighting battles to push at the boundaries.

Mother

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Too Soon is simply a beautiful, beautiful song by EastMountainSouth! A testimony to a mother's ways.

Below is an op-ed piece in today's New York Times. It is timely (really a bit late), but so very needed.

------

January 20, 2006
Op-Ed Contributor
Wayward Christian Soldiers
By CHARLES MARSH
Charlottesville, Va.

IN the past several years, American evangelicals, and I am one of them, have amassed greater political power than at any time in our history. But at what cost to our witness and the integrity of our message?

Recently, I took a few days to reread the war sermons delivered by influential evangelical ministers during the lead up to the Iraq war. That period, from the fall of 2002 through the spring of 2003, is not one I will remember fondly. Many of the most respected voices in American evangelical circles blessed the president's war plans, even when doing so required them to recast Christian doctrine.

Charles Stanley, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Atlanta, whose weekly sermons are seen by millions of television viewers, led the charge with particular fervor. "We should offer to serve the war effort in any way possible," said Mr. Stanley, a former president of the Southern Baptist Convention. "God battles with people who oppose him, who fight against him and his followers." In an article carried by the convention's Baptist Press news service, a missionary wrote that "American foreign policy and military might have opened an opportunity for the Gospel in the land of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob."

As if working from a slate of evangelical talking points, both Franklin Graham, the evangelist and son of Billy Graham, and Marvin Olasky, the editor of the conservative World magazine and a former advisor to President Bush on faith-based policy, echoed these sentiments, claiming that the American invasion of Iraq would create exciting new prospects for proselytizing Muslims. Tim LaHaye, the co-author of the hugely popular "Left Behind" series, spoke of Iraq as "a focal point of end-time events," whose special role in the earth's final days will become clear after invasion, conquest and reconstruction. For his part, Jerry Falwell boasted that "God is pro-war" in the title of an essay he wrote in 2004.

The war sermons rallied the evangelical congregations behind the invasion of Iraq. An astonishing 87 percent of all white evangelical Christians in the United States supported the president's decision in April 2003. Recent polls indicate that 68 percent of white evangelicals continue to support the war. But what surprised me, looking at these sermons nearly three years later, was how little attention they paid to actual Christian moral doctrine. Some tried to square the American invasion with Christian "just war" theory, but such efforts could never quite reckon with the criterion that force must only be used as a last resort. As a result, many ministers dismissed the theory as no longer relevant.

I am continuing to read through the latest Anglican Theological Review (vol.87 num.4). This issue concerns the Windsor Report and what the essayists think our response to that report should be or what they consider to be the significant aspects of the report.

Harold T. Lewis, the moderate Rector of Calvary Episcopal Church in Pittsburgh, PA(!) wrote an essay on the differences between "covenant" and "contract" and his experiences in a diocese that is headed by the leader of the reactionary movement within The Episcopal Church. And, I am just now reading the essay by Ephraim Radner, Rector of Church of the Ascension in Pueblo, Colorado. Radner tends to be conservative from a Catholic perspective. I truly like his essays!

The following paragraph from Lewis's essay, Covenant, Contract, and Communion: Reflections on a Post-Windsor Anglicanism is significant, I think:


"I contend that this quintessential Anglican trait of an ability to allow for such differences," (he earlier detailed some of the significant differences effecting the Communion right now - primarily revolving around homosexuality) "this covenantal existence that has, since the time of Richard Hooker, allowed for divergent views under the Anglican umbrella, no longer obtains. Anglicanism today has ceased to be guided by covenant, which understands the church to be supple. Instead, it is beginning to be guided by contract, which understands the church to be rigid. IN as assiduous and tenacious reverence for and reliance on laws - biblical, constitutional, canonical - Ecclesia Anglicana is exhibiting an unprecedented sense of distrust stems almost solely from the existence of divergent views on the subject of human sexuality. Specifically, many opine that any individual, diocese, or national church body that believes that homosexual persons can be fit for ordination, or that the church should consider recognizing same-sex blessings, has removed itself from the ranks of orthodox Christians...

"What makes such actions so troubling is that the theology of those who hold such views is deemed suspect, and their very fitness for ministry is called into question. Actions arising from such suspicions can have serious consequences..." (pp 604-605)

The following is from Radner's essay, Freedom and Covenant: The Miltonian Analogy Transfigured:

"...polity that is 'open, democratic, and participatory - flowing out of the life of the community.' 'Autonomy' within a culture of 'democracy represents a vital piece of self-imaging for Episcopalians.'

"But is this understanding simply the result of ECUSA's long immersion in an American culture, an appropriation of the secular foundations of American government?...

"There is a theology here. It does not, however, look much like the theology expressed by the eighteenth-century organizers of the Episcopal Church, whose interest in democratic voting was real, but limited (and certainly not universally shared). Instead, the biggest theological problem confronting the inventers of American Episcopalianism was bishops themselves, and how to justify them in a political and religious context in which 'prelacy' was often attacked as intrinsically oppressive and seditious... William White's goal for the yet-to-be established Anglican body in the United States was that it should provide a religious option from those who were drawn to 'episcopal' forms of ecclesial life and worship.

"Today's historical-pneumatic claims to liberty on the part of defenders of ECUSA's autonomy are something else altogether.... But, their shape, within the context of historical Anglican debate, is quite surprising: it turns out to be far closer to the reformed congregationalist radicalism of someone like John Milton than to anything resembling 'Episcopal' values. This similitude demonstrates the paradox - and the irony - of current ECUSA official theology in the debate about Anglicanism and the Anglican Communion. It appears as if the most extreme of anti-episcopal ('anti-prelatical') theologies is now wedded to an American ecclesial body distinctive precisely through its commitment to 'prelacy.'"

Good stuff! I like Lewis' focus on covenant rather than the legal black and white of contract, and the Body of Christ being supple rather than rigid. On the other hand, as I have been moving more towards a "Catholic" (not "Roman") understanding of the Church, Radner's emphasis on the unique situation of the American Episcopal Church being a church of prelates is important, since there is a move by both the "conservatives" and the "liberals" to push their views in a way that does seem more congregational than epsicopal.

iPods kill ears!!!

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It was bound to happen - doctors are seeing a dramatic increase in the hearing loss of teens. A primary reason is the increased use of devises such as iPods and other MP3 players. An article appears today in the Wall Street Journal reporting on doctors' new concerns. A new understanding of what is going on that makes this round of concern different from the concern expressed during the early '80's over Sony's Walkman headsets is that the new "earbuds" feed the sound directly into the ear (direct feed) and does not block outside noise. Go buy a sound-minimizing headset (sound-isolating or sound-canceling earphones).

What I thought interesting is that the hearing loss is associated as much with the duration of listening than the volume of the music.

StoryCorp

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Ashton and I went to record our interview with StoryCorp - the oral history project that is running across the country right now. It was one of his birthday presents. The first StoryCorp booth was in Grand Central Terminal in New York City, where we recorded our interview yesterday. There are now booths at the transportation hub at Ground Zero and two traveling booths. The interview, along with everyone else’s, are submitted to the Library of Congress for classification and cataloging.

I interviewed Ashton because of his very interesting and unusual life while growing up in New York City during the 1970's and '80's when the City was truly a "concrete jungle." It was odd how once in the booth. The interview, which was supposed to be a natural conversation between him and me, kind of became very formal. Ashton has great stories, but he said he ended up being very self-conscious of what he was saying. Sometimes, it was like pulling teeth to get him to open up. Over all, it was a lot of fun and a good interview.

I think this is a great project. A national oral history of our time and with regular people can only be a good thing. I've heard many very touching interviews on NPR's Morning Edition.

Identity Politics

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Read this great column by George Will in today's L.A. Times concerning the NCAA's attempts to force college and universities to change their sports team names reflecting anything American Indian (and I use the term "American Indian" intentionally because as one having a Cherokee heritage I know that most tribes prefer the term "American Indians" rather than "Native Americans).

Here is a bit:
"In 2002 Sports Illustrated published a poll of 351 Native Americans, 217 living on reservations, 134 living off. Eighty-one percent said high school and college teams should not stop using Indian nicknames."

Read it all.

The Lavabo Psalm

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This is just so I will have record of this when I need it later.

...you could say the lavabo psalm while your hands are being washed (Ps. 26:6-12, "I will wash my hands in innocency, O Lord, and so will I go to thine altar...").

Propoganda

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Why does our government think that through propaganda we will achieve our objectives around the world and make us all safe and sound?

We find out that Iraqi newspapers and clerics are being paid to spread our propaganda. Now that the reality of it all has become common knowledge, why would any Iraqi believe anything that comes from the United States? Whatever happened to simply speaking the truth and reporting events? Whatever happened to protecting the sense of trust and honesty as a hallmark of the United States? If what we are and what we represent to the world, if our arguments and objectives cannot be secured through open, honest, and sincere persuasion, then what is it all worth? Why bother?

Yes, yes, I know that there are people and organizations, even nations, who have no interest in mutual respect and who will do all they can to destroy us and our way of life (really, what about our way of life should be preserved?). I realize that we have to meet these people who force from time-to-time. Yet, if our policies and our efforts (our propaganda) does nothing but encourage more and more people to join the radical groups and devote their very lives to our destruction, perhaps we need to step back and question whether we should continue to follow these policies! Perhaps!?

We have the opportunity to truly "export" the best sense of what the American experiment has to offer. Freedom, self-determination, the rule of law, respect for one another, etc. We have the opportunity to present to the world a way of life and living that will inspire the best within all of us. This great experiment in democracy is not yet over, and the ideals of our Founders have not yet proven to withstand the test of time and our own purulent interests. There have been times in our history when we have been at our best. For a good part of our history, regrettably, and especially since the Cold War against the Soviets, we have been more in the mode of manipulation, arrogant self-interest, and propaganda.

As one who professes to be a follower of Christ, I must continue to call for and demand that we as a nation and as a culture are honest and forthright, admitting our mistakes, and presenting our objectives in a sense of respect and common interest. If the world does not agree with us or buy our arguments, perhaps we simply need to do a better job or examine if, gasp, we might be wrong. If we think we are right, then we can still pursue our own interests without the destructive forces of deception, manipulation, and corruption of others. Doing otherwise will be a rebuke and rebuff of our Founding Fathers, the subversion and destruction of what we actually claim to be protecting, and the corruption of the very perception of ourselves we like to believe we truly are.

Ten Fastest Growing Jobs

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This from Netscape's website concerning the jobs that are experiencing the fast growth:

Two Considerations

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Happy New Year!

There are two considerations I keep coming back to whenever I try to deal with all this acrimony and divisiveness within the Christian community, and particularly in the “orthodoxy-wars” going on within Anglicanism right now. By the way, I think we see in the problems overwhelming world Anglicanism a foretaste of what is coming for global Christianity - the fulfillment of Philip Jenkins' forecast in his book, "The Next Christendom: The Coming of Global Christianity." Perhaps...

Anyway, these battles between "conservative" and "liberal" camps (groups defy labeling, really) concerning morals, sexual issues, Biblical authority, interpretation, and application, and polity are truly prompting realignment within global Christianity. We will only know in hindsight who will be right, although in my opinion none of us are "right."

Of course, the issue that has prompted all the acrimony and division within world Anglicanism is homosexuality, which then bleeds into greater issues of Biblical authority and application, our interface with contemporary culture, discipline, accountability, and the catholic nature of our Church - polity. This issue of what is and what can be accommodated concerning homosexuality and same-sex relationships is dividing all Christian groups, despite the certain claims from denominations or churches and their leaders that the issue is settled against homosexuals in THEIR churches, jurisdictions, or domains. Whether we like it or not, our ecclesial politics mirror our cultural politics - the wars wage on to the detriment of the call of and purpose of the Way of Christ.

What makes one a Christian? Who has the right to judge and determine how Christians should live - what God calls us to? Who is right and who is wrong? The endless debates and proclamations will continue forever. Yet, how should we live regardless of what others may say about us, be we conservative/liberal, gay/straight, Modernist/Post-Modernist, male/female, et.al.?

In my mind, at this particular time, there are two primary criteria/points we need to heed (I need to heed!) - for me these have become primary as my foundation for living out the Way of Christ.

1.) We know little, despite over 3,000 years of trying to know!
"When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love." 1 Corinthians 13:11-13 (New International Version)

Since we know in part, we must be very careful to make too strong of a pronouncement concerning who is right and who is wrong. At any particular point in time, all of us can and will think or believe heretically, even in the midst of thinking we are right and think we can "prove" it. We grow, we mature, we experience life, and as we do we change our opinions and understandings. If any of us act and believe exactly the same way and thing as we did ten years ago, we are babes still suckling on spiritual milk rather than moving onto the meat, and we all know what Paul wrote about that!

We know in part, and we must come to a place of absolute humility!

2.) Jesus gave us the greatest commandment, a new commandment, which is really the summation of all the Law and the Prophets, but is not the Law.

"One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: 'Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?' Jesus replied: 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments." Matthew 22:35-40

"One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, 'Of all the commandments, which is the most important?' 'The most important one,' answered Jesus, 'is this: Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.’

"'Well said, teacher,' the man replied. 'You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him. To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.'" Mark 12:25-33

Consider, also:
The commandments, "Do not commit adultery," "Do not murder," "Do not steal," "Do not covet," and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: "Love your neighbor as yourself." Romans 13:9
(Romans 13:8-10 in Context)

The entire law is summed up in a single command: "Love your neighbor as yourself." Galatians 5:14
(Galatians 5:13-15 in Context)

"If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, 'Love your neighbor as yourself,' you are doing right." James 2:8
(James 2:7-9 in Context)

"'Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD."
Leviticus 19:18

Well, we can debate until the cows come home whether Jesus meant to bring into the New Covenant the Moral Law of Moses or not (I don't see how anyone could read Galatians or Hebrews and think that any of the laws of the Levitical Code are to be specifically obeyed by Christians under Grace as they were by Jews). Regardless, we are called to love God with all our being and to love our neighbor as ourselves – by and in faith. The rub comes when some believe that they must define and categorize how the demonstration of these two objects of our love is to be expressed or experienced. New demands are instituted as proof of whether we truly, honestly, and completely love God or not, and often we seem to forget about loving our neighbor. Like the Pharisees of Jesus' day, we make new laws to prove to others our devotion to God.

So many of us cannot deal with ambiguity and cannot trust our neighbor that he or she is doing the best s/he can to honor God and neighbor. Some of us have to demand compliance and conformity to a particularly defined standard, and we then develop organizations to institutionalize these demands.

Live this way: I am to love God; I am to love neighbor; I must know in humility that at any moment I could be completely wrong because I see in part and will not know fully until I see Him face-to-face. If I can keep these two considerations in the forefront of my mind and intentions, I think I just might make it.

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This page is an archive of entries from January 2006 listed from newest to oldest.

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