April 2006 Archives

It is all changing

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As I was watching ABC Evening News, the final story was on the retirement of Keith Jackson - the 50+ year sports reporter with a very distinct voice and a "Woe Nellie."

All those things that I grew up with and just kind of expected to be around are passing away. It is inevitable, I know, but the lose of those things is disconcerting. When I think about watching 'The Wide World of Sports' in the '70's, the Olympics, and especially football games, it is that voice - Keith's voice - that I hear.

It is all changing.

Quote...

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"Until you make peace with who you are, you'll never be content with what you have."

~ Doris Mortman

Inward and Outward

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Several months ago, if you remember, the Bruderhof Community ended their daily e-mail 'meditation' known as "The Daily Dig." I loved their posts not only because they presented good stuff to think about, but also because they were simply, graphically wonderful. I love simplicity, subtlety, and understatement. There was a guy (Gentry) who wanted to encourage the Bruderhoff to resume their Daily Digs and started a web-mail campaign, but the Community ended all their Internet projects, including bringing down their extensive website. It was a shame.

Now, there is a new project that achieves about the same thing from 'Church of our Saviour' in Washington D.C. and their daily e-mail 'meditation' (if that is the right word to use?) known as "On the Way." It could be good. We shall see. Regardless, here is today's message, an excerpt from Bruce Willis from 'Sojourners:'


People of the Way
by: Jim Wallis

The early Christians were known for the way they lived, not only for what they believed. For them, the two were completely intertwined. The earliest title given to them reflected the importance of their kingdom lifestyle. They were not called the people of "the experience" or the people of "right doctrine" or even the people of "the church." Rather, they were the people of "the Way."

It is equally significant that the Christians were known as "the people" of the Way. More than just individuals who had been converted, they were now a people, a new community of faith, which had embarked together on a new way of life. To follow Jesus meant to share Jesus' life and to share it with others.

"Spirit-led"

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It is far too easy to claim that one's (or a group's) beliefs or calls for change are "Spirit-led," especially when those beliefs are contrary to the long and traditional understanding of things. Anything we want to change, we now tend to claim the leading by the Spirit and a prophetic voice. Where is the proof?

Coming from a Pentecostal background, I have witnessed Spirit-led stuff that defies reason or logic. I have heard prophetic voices that I know did not know the situation or facts before the prophetic utterance.

Much of what is claimed to be "prophetic" within our Church is nothing more than voices calling for change. I think we need to be very careful when we use the word "prophetic," and when we really mean change, say change. Lots of things need to change within our Church, but not all of the calls for change are "prophetic” or specifically “Spirit-led.”

The proof of the correctness of any change, I suspect, must come with time and with hindsight. Only if we are willing, that is, to admit or recognize that the previously called for changed, or the change itself if undertaken, may in fact not have been led by the Spirit and then we are willing to undo such change. Otherwise, we are not truly seeking the Spirit of God for the Truth of God, but only striving for change for the sake of change and the ascendancy of our particular viewpoint.

Loss of Community and Self

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Here are the last few paragraphs from this week's 'My Turn' essay from Newsweek, written by Carolyn V. Egan and entitled, "Sidewalks Can Make a Town a Neighborhood."


"Parents have become slaves to their children's schedules, terrified to let their offspring out of sight. New houses are huge, enclosing all of life. They're connected by technological portals to the outside world, making an abstract of everything beyond their walls.

"We worry about the safety of our children if we let them loose to wander sidewalks, even while we hear more and more stories of predators on the highways and byways of the Internet. We have forgotten that we cannot protect our children by telling them to hop in and buckle up. Our children do not develop the instincts to discern and avoid danger from the back seat of an automobile. We deprive them of self-mastery by insulating them from very cold and very hot temperatures, from rain, from wind. They do not know who they are without a plan, without a ride. While we encourage dependence in our children by chauffeuring them everywhere, we also encourage in them habits of selfishness and parochialism.” [Interesting thought!] “Adult maturity is rooted in the unstructured roaming of childhood.

"Sidewalks are becoming nostalgic artifacts of a time before three- or four-car families. To me, their absence represents disturbing changes in the way we connect to one another - and the habits, values, and capacities we bequeath to our children..."

What are we trying to accomplish? What kind of people are we trying to form as we deal with our children? How many of our decisions concerning our children are based solely on fear?

I truly believe we do ourselves and our children no good by trying to remove from their lives all hardships, all inconveniences, all failures, all responsibilities, all things that might impinge upon their self-esteem, all the things that build character, sense of self, understanding of their true potential born of experience rather than psycho-babble, understanding of their limitations... We do them no good by making them, even unintentionally, as neurotic, self-absorbed, and over-burdened by planned-activities, as ourselves.

We do our children no good when we make excuses for our own laziness and apathy when we don't get up on Sunday mornings for church and say things like, "I don't take my children to church because I want them to have the freedom to choose their own religion." I have experienced far too many new college students who arrive on campus with no ability to make good and rational judgments about what is a legitimate form of religious expression and devotion and what is not - they are prime targets of the cults. They've been taught nothing and do not know how to judge or discern - they have no foundation.

So, what is the answer to a world that is, in fact, dangerous? Part of the answer is rediscovering the very real experience of community, which also means the rediscovery that the ‘other’ is at least as equally important as the self. We are increasingly loosing our ability to understand the experiential necessity of living in tactile neighborhoods (communities) where the other adults and older children are engaged with one another and are looking after the younger children for their safety and formation. While this is a very loaded phrase, it really does take a village to raise a child, at least as well-adjusted child.

Lord willing and the creek don't rise, I should finally be ordained priest by June 3rd at the latest!

Fr. Jason

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Well, I just got word that my former roommate and classmate at General Theological Seminary has begun blogging. Here is his blog:

Barefoot Priest

I have to tell ya, I am a bit surprised (in a good way) that he uses the term "father" rather than the more egalitarian "brother" (he just seems more the "brother" type to me???), and he is wearing a chasuble! A betrayal of your low-church leanings, Jason! :-) Unless, of course, I'm just clueless, which is more than possible.

It is what it is...

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A heterosexual who is in a relationship with someone of the opposite-gender is a heterosexual

A heterosexual who is in a relationship with someone of the same-gender is a heterosexual who is acting against his/her orientation (nature?), but is still a heterosexual

A heterosexual who is celibate is one who is celibate, but still a heterosexual

A homosexual who is in a relationship with someone of the same-gender is a homosexual

A homosexual who is in a relationship with someone of the opposite-gender is a homosexual acting against his/her orientation (nature?), but is still a homosexual

A homosexual who is celibate is one who is celibate, but still a homosexual

Offensive (or not?)

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The politic of "affirmation" and politically correct assertions that to offend is the paramount sin continue to march through the Church.

An article caught my attention from the Christian Science Monitor on the newly released "Gospel of Judas," the early Gnostic writings determined to be heresy well over a millennia ago. I first saw reference to this article on Kendall Harmon’s weblog, Titusonenine.

The article mentions that many progressive Christians are taking this newly released gospel and using it to buttress their claim that "diversity" has always been a hallmark of Christianity. They are using the fact that there were various communities and theologies during the beginning centuries of Christian development to justify their own variant views of Christian belief and practice.

Now, I am the first to agree that we change and our understanding of God, the Gospel, and the way we live it out in the world change. I don't believe this means that God changes! Likewise, as an Anglican I support the vigorous debate of different ideas, but there comes a point when one stops believing in much of the traditional and orthodox Christian tenants at which point one stops being a Christian, despite what one wants to call one's self. To use the early controversies as a justification for the chaos in theology and practice that is present today is not right, since during those early days many of those variants of Christian belief and practice were declared to be heretical, especially the Gnostic forms of all this stuff.

"To think that noncanonical texts legitimizes diversity today 'is to ignore the fact that that diversity was not accepted [in the early church],' says Ronald Simkins, director of the Kripke Center for the Study of Religion & Society at Creighton University in Omaha, Neb. "It's a naive use of history.'" Amen.

Then, there is the whole thing about being offensive!

"At the Episcopal Cathedral of St. Paul in Boston, the congregation has stripped Holy Week observances of traditional content that strikes members as offensive. On Palm Sunday last weekend, for instance, parishioners heard an adapted Passion narrative that removes biblical language seen as blaming Jews for Jesus' crucifixion. And the hundreds who observe Good Friday won't pray for those who haven't yet received 'the Gospel of Christ' but for those untouched by 'the grace of God'..."

The Gospel is patently offensive to this world, whether a conservative or a liberal world. There is no possible way to remove the offense without completely gutting the teachings of Jesus! It does none of us any favors by attempting to strip the Gospel of its offense and of its power, except that there are too many people who do not want to be held to account for who and what they really are - all of us! We have all sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

To attempt to strip the Gospel or the Bible of offensive things will end in having none of it remaining, because offense will be found by some in all of it! So, just stop. Deal with it as it is. Let it challenge us, enrage us, reform us, save us, transform us, convict us, enliven us, instruct us, and lead us into relationship with the God who desires that we be reconciled to Himself, to one another, and to His good creation! To do otherwise is to be so very paternalistic by believing that people can't handle the Truth, which may cause them some sort of discomfort or amendment of life. How sad. How shortsighted. How immature. How untrusting.

Holy Week is over and I am so tired, worn-out, bushed. It was wonderful, but I'm paying the price right now. Try staring at data on a computer screen all day - everything is in a fog and I keep loosing track of what I am doing.

Last night, I finally was able to watch a couple episodes of "God or the Girl" on A&E. The show follows four young guys as they work through discerning whether they are called by God to be Roman Catholic priests and celibate. I remember my fellow CPE'er, Noel, who was a Roman Catholic seminarian in Chicago and from the Philippines, when he would come up and say to me, "How's live without a wife?" Joking with him, I told him that only Roman priests had such a problem - Anglican and Orthodox priests don't. This TV program is well done and so poignant, at least for some of us.

I saw in the four participants the struggles I have experienced over the last six or seven years in my preparation for the priesthood. One guy, Steve, is so vulnerable as he struggles through the "giving-up" of so many personal things as he discerns his call. Here is his bio, "Steve Horvath, 25, shocked his friends and family back in Virginia by leaving his job as a high-paid consultant to become a campus missionary at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln. Now shaking off the comforts of the privileged life he once had (and could still return to at any time), Steve finds himself simultaneously drawn to and terrified of the level of sacrifice he must make in order to truly heed God's call." At 24, Steve was making eighty thousand dollars a year, etc.

In this particular episode, Steve relinquishes his hesitation and agrees to go to a mission in Guatemala to work for a short time with the poor - the real poor. His life is changed forever, and by the time he leaves he is in tears. I can see in him the process of giving up of self. It is so hard giving up all that could be in our lives for the incredible and tremendous privilege of serving the people of God, His creation, humanity.

My dean at Kent State wrote a letter of recommendation to General Theological Seminary as I was applying for admittance. He wrote something along the lines of "I believe Bob's pursuit of the priesthood is a tremendous waste of his talent and ability, but he will do very well..." A bit blunt. I have a great deal of respect for my former boss, Dr. Terry Kuhn. I don't know exactly what happened, but I do know that after the completion of his Ph.D. and during his first teaching position at a Roman Catholic college run by nuns, he was forever turned off to organized religion, although not to faith. He was truly a mentor of mine (and I use those words very sparingly).

There are so many different things I could have done. I was a very reluctant aspirant to Holy Orders. I started the discernment process really because a group of priests would not let me go, not because it was something I wanted to do. I am thankful, but the process has been so hard.

Lord willing, I will soon come to the end of all the preparation and will be ordained priest. It is then only the beginning. The dying to self and giving of oneself to God and His Church, to people, is the process of making oneself completely vulnerable to... what?... everything. The process of coming to the point where one willingly gives up one's life for the work of God is arduous, but I can't think of anything I would have rather done or anywhere I would rather be right now.

I thought a couple times this past week as I watched the people of St. Paul's: how incredibly fortunate and privileged I am to be able to be with them, to serve them, to watch God work in their lives, and see them transformed into the very people of God. Having to work a full time job, especially as a data-analyst, in order to be able to be with these people is not what I want to do. In yesterday's episode, as Steve was going to Guatemala he kept saying that he could go back to work, make lots of money, and give it away so that lots of other folks could go and do the hard work of caring for humanity. He was making excuses, hanging onto his previously prosperous life, in the midst of having that part of him ripped out, and facing his fears and anxieties. Steve could go back to his old life, but the place God has for him is probably not in the business world, but in the world of the Church. He has to give up self.

I don't want to work a full-time job and then put in what is left of my time and energy for St. Paul's, but this seems to be what God has for me now. The position at the Medical Trust is a good one, and I am thankful for God's provision, but my most productive hours are spent not being about the cure and care of souls. I have to come to terms with the fact that this may well be, and is probably, what I am called to right now. I have to give up self.

Triduum

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I am leaving my "secular" job and now entering into the Triduum of Easter. Tonight, Maundy Thursday services begin the three days of Jesus' Passion leading to Easter Sunday.

I have been thinking a lot lately of the appeal of High Church liturgy (whether Anglo-Catholic or simply High Church) for many people, particularly younger people, coming out of American-Evangelical/Pentecostal/Charismatic churches. There are an increasing number of young people from these backgrounds migrating to St. Paul's and our "non-fussy Rite I Anglo-Catholic" church. I really only have to look as far as myself to see this phenomena in action. (Okay, okay, so I’m young in spirit if not so young in fact – age is an attitude of the mind and dependent on perspective – right!?)

I thought the other day, at the Renewal of Vows for the Diocese of Long Island, as Prof. Jim Farwell (my former liturgy professor) was talking about the Triduum liturgies, that it seems that a connection between Pentecostalism (or at least "experiential" forms of Evangelical Christianity) and Anglo-Catholicism is that both are truly experiential. In different ways, of course, by they still share this common aspect.

I don't know. There is something out there right outside my reach to explain these ambiguous thoughts going through my mind. I've been thinking, too, of doing some surveys and asking non-cradle Episcopalians (and particularly the non-High Church) what attracts them to this kind of liturgy/service. A book, perhaps.

So, off to Maundy Thursday and the continuing and deepening discovery of the slow yet persistent work the Seasons of the Church and their liturgies, the Word, and the Sacraments have on the formation of one's Christian self.

"God and the Founders"

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Here are a couple paragraphs from the excerpt appearing in last week’s edition of Newsweek from Jon Meacham's new book "American Gospel." Jon Meacham is the managing editor of Newsweek, an Episcopalian, and I've heard him speak on a number of television and radio programs. He is good, despite my disagreement with a few of his theological perspectives.

He is commenting on the current issues of faith in public life, the culture wars, and the animosity that seems to inflict much of our current and common life.

"Understanding the past may help us move forward. When the subject is faith in the public square, secularists reflexively point to the Jeffersonian 'wall of separation between church and state' as though the conversation should end there; many conservative Christians defend their forays into the political arena by citing the Founders, as through Washington, Adams, Jefferson, and Franklin were cheerful Christian soldiers. Yet to claim that religion has only recently become a political force in the United States is uniformed and unhistorical; in practice, the 'wall' of separation is not a very tall one. Equally wrongheaded is the tendency of conservative believers to portray the Founding Fathers as apostles in knee britches.

"The great good news about America - the American Gospel, if you will - is that religion shapes the life of the nation without strangling it. Driven by a sense of providence and an acute appreciation of the fallibility of humankind, the Founders made a nation in which faith should not be singled out for special help or particular harm. The balance between the promise of the Declaration of Independence, with its evocation of divine origins and destiny, and the practicalities of the Constitution, with its checks on extremis, remains the most brilliant American successes."

(Newsweek, April 10, 2006, Vol. CXLVII, No. 15, p.54)

The new "Ten Commandments"

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An interesting perspective on the new ABC mini-series "The Ten Commandments" from Jewsweek.

The donut

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This is a good story sent to my seminary class' Internet group - by Renee Feener, a classmate and now priest at the Cathedral in St. Louis (a great woman!). What I like about the story most of all is the creativity of the professor - whatever it takes to get this stuff across to the next generation. The story itself is somewhat hokie, but good nevertheless.

----- The story...

There was a certain professor of religion named Dr. Christianson, a studious man who taught at a small college in the western United States. Dr. Christianson taught a required course in Christianity at this particular institution. Every student was required to take this course regardless of his or her major.

Although Dr. Christianson tried hard to communicate the essence of the Gospel in his class, he found that most of his students looked upon the course as nothing more than required drudgery. Despite his best efforts, most students refused to take Christianity seriously. This year Dr. Christianson had a special student named Steve. Steve was only a freshman, but was studying with the intent of going on to Seminary. Steve was popular, well liked and an imposing physical specimen. He was the starting center on the school football team and the best student in the class.

One day, Dr. Christianson asked Steve to stay after class so he could talk with him. "How many push-ups can you do?" Steve said, "I do about 200 every night."

"200? That's pretty good, Steve," Dr. Christianson said. "Do you think you could do 300?"

Christ Among the Partisans

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This Op-ed piece appeared in Sunday's New York Times. I have said many a time that neither the Republicans nor Democrats are God's way. The social-gospel liberals who inhabit the Democratic Party are not the way as the Religious Right conservatives of the Republican Party are not the way. The way of Jesus is always a third way. We all need to hear what Wills wrote, else we as those who follow Jesus as the Christ will forever be taken down a path that does not lead to God's will being done on earth as it is in heaven, but down a failed attempt to accomplish the vain efforts of man. I particularly like Wills' references to things being of "different orders." I discovered this article by way of Titusonenine.

Gary Wills writes:

The New York Times

April 9, 2006
Op-Ed Contributor
Christ Among the Partisans
By GARRY WILLS

THERE is no such thing as a "Christian politics." If it is a politics, it cannot be Christian. Jesus told Pilate: "My reign is not of this present order. If my reign were of this present order, my supporters would have fought against my being turned over to the Jews. But my reign is not here" (John 18:36). Jesus brought no political message or program.

This is a truth that needs emphasis at a time when some Democrats, fearing that the Republicans have advanced over them by the use of religion, want to respond with a claim that Jesus is really on their side. He is not. He avoided those who would trap him into taking sides for or against the Roman occupation of Judea. He paid his taxes to the occupying power but said only, "Let Caesar have what belongs to him, and God have what belongs to him" (Matthew 22:21). He was the original proponent of a separation of church and state.

Boys

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I was cleaning off my computer desktop (a Mac, of course!) and read this html file. Since I do not have kids, I do think it is hilarious!

BOYS~

Raising Boys (some new ones)

Things learned from raising Boys (honest and not kidding):

1.) A king size waterbed holds enough water to fill a 2000 sq. ft. house 4
inches deep.

2.) If you spray hair spray on dust bunnies and run over them with roller blades, they can ignite.

3.) A 3-year old Boy's voice is louder than 200 adults in a crowded restaurant.

4.) If you hook a dog leash over a ceiling fan, the motor is not strong enough to rotate 42 pound Boy wearing Batman underwear and a Superman cape. It is strong enough, however, if tied to a paint can, to spread paint on all four walls of a 20x20 ft. room.

5.) You should not throw baseballs up when the ceiling fan is on. When using a ceiling fan as a bat, you have to throw the ball up a few times before you get a hit. A ceiling fan can hit a baseball a long way.

6.) The glass in windows (even double-pane) doesn't stop a baseball hit by a ceiling fan.

7.) When you hear the toilet flush and the wor! ds "uh oh", it's already too late

8.) Brake fluid mixed with Clorox makes smoke, and lots of it.

9.) A six-year old boy can start a fire with a flint rock even though a 36-year old man says they can only do it in the movies.

10.) Certain Lego's will pass through the digestive tract of a 4-year old Boy.

11.) Play dough and microwave should not be used in the same sentence.

12.) Super glue is forever.

13.) No matter how much Jell-O you put in a swimming pool you still can't walk on water.

14.) Pool filters do not like Jell-O.

15.) VCR's do not eject "PB &J" sandwiches even though TV commercials show they do.

16.) Garbage bags do not make good parachutes.

17.) Marbles in gas tanks make lots of noise when driving.

18.) You probably DO NOT want to know what that odor is.

19.) Always look in the oven before you turn it on; plastic toys do not like ovens.

20.) The fire department in Austin, TX has a 5-minute response time.

21.) The spin cycle on the washing machine does not make earthworms dizzy.

22.) It will, however, make cats dizzy.

23.) Cats throw up twice their body weight when dizzy.

24.) 80% of Men who read this will try mixing the Clorox and brake fluid.

Those who pass this on to almost all of their friends, with or without boys do it because:

a) For those with no children - this is totally hysterical!
b) For those who already have children past this age, this is hilarious.
c) For those who have children this age, this is not funny.
d) For those who have children nearing this age, this is a warning.
e) For those who have not yet had children, this is birth control

Final Stages

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I received this announcement (see below) this morning from the Anglican Communion Network concerning their intent to replace The Church Pension Group as their source for retirement, medical, life, and property insurances. Since many of them believe that The Episcopal Church is apostate, the Church Pension Group is also by association.

I remember Fr. Wright, long-time history professor at General Theological Seminary (my seminary), who related a story about his mentor. During the controversies surrounding the approval of women's ordinations in the 1970's, the more traditional side of the Church, especially a good part of Anglo-Catholics, could not accept the ordination of women to the priesthood. Many clergy and some parishes left and "poped" or "crossed over the Tiber." Fr. Wright told me that his mentor, who in principle was opposed to the ordination of women, ask him, "Robert, do you know where I stand on women's ordination?" Fr. Wright's mentor then added, "I stand with the Pension Fund!"

There were a lot of people who "stood with the Pension Fund" over the years when our Church did things (both liberal and conservative things) that they did not approve of. Now, with this announcement, the Network moves to remove this means by which we often remained together despite our differences until cooler heads prevailed.

This is a final stage in their preparation to form a new denomination after General Convention 2006 in Columbus - if it comes to this, which I hope it does not.

I continue to be assounded by the fact that for so many Christians in this country that despite everything else, and I mean anything and everything else, that we may agree on, the issues of homosexuality and same-sex unions have now become the litmus test of whether one is a Christian or an apostate heretic. So much money, time, energy, and disregard for the impact on the lives of so many is put into recreating a wheel that if taken to its full extent will only lead to more and more division. The Charismatic Evangelical Anglicans and the Anglo-Catholics will not hold together. The pro- and anti-women's ordination crowds will not hold together. Once division (schism) begins, it will only continue in the schismatic groups. History has shown us this fact. Yet, we waste all the time, money, and energy and learn nothing from history. The forces that oppose the advancement of the Gospel are rejoicing!

Here is the announcement:

Network Announces Retirement Plan for Clergy

The Anglican Communion Network is pleased to announce the rollout, effective April 1, of its Qualified Retirement Plan for clergy. ACN-related clergy who are not in or otherwise eligible for the Church Pension Fund of the Episcopal Church USA (ECUSA) are invited to enroll.

The Plan Provider selected by the Network is American Funds, highly regarded in the investment community with more than 70 years of investment experience. The Plan is a defined contribution plan and provides for annual contributions by employers of up to 20% of compensation. Covered clergy have the option to contribute additionally to the plan in accordance with federal regulations.

Contributions are vested when made, and the benefits, which are transportable, can also be augmented by rolling over into the Plan other portable retirement accounts. The plan was launched on April 1, but arrangements can be made to apply the plan retroactively to January 1, 2006.

Application forms for parishes, clergy and other organizations to join the Network are available online at www.acn-us.org/join. Applications to enroll in the Clergy Retirement Plan can be obtained by contacting Lisa Waldron, ACN Director of Accounting, at lwaldron@acn-us.org or by calling 412-325-8900 x102.

In addition, the Network anticipates announcing a retirement plan for lay employees, property and casualty insurance programs for parishes and organizations, and a group health insurance program before the end of the year. In connection with these efforts, the Network is gathering input from its members to help with the development of a health care benefits plan. Network affiliates and partners are invited to download a health insurance survey form at www.acn-us.org. Completed surveys can be faxed to 412-325-8902 or mailed to 535 Smithfield Street, Suite 910, Pittsburgh, PA 15222.

“We are excited that we are now able to offer the retirement plan for eligible clergy,” said Wicks Stephens, ACN Chancellor. “We hope by year’s end to be able to offer a whole range of benefit options for our Network constituencies, both clergy and lay.”

The Bible

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I've finished reading The Last Word by N.T. Wright. Very good, and while Wright tends toward the more traditional, his comments put both liberals and conservatives in their place, as any good Anglican might do.

"Biblical scholarship needs to be free to explore different meanings. This is not just the imperative of the modern scholar, always to be coming up with new theories in order to gain promotion or tenure in the university. It is also a vital necessity for the church. Any church, not least those that pride themselves on being 'biblical,' needs to be open to new understandings of the Bible itself. This is the only way to avoid being blown this way or that by winds of fashion, or trapped in one's own partial readings and distorted traditions while imagining that they are full and accurate account of 'what the Bible says.' At the same time, however, biblical scholarship, if it is to serve the church and not merely thumb its nose at cherished points of view, needs to be constrained by loyalty to the Christian community through time and space. When a biblical scholar, or any theologian, wishes to propose a new way of looking at a well-known topic, he or she ought to sense an obligation to explain to the wider community the ways in which the fresh insight builds up, rather than threatens, the mission and life of the church.

"Such a statement will provide protests - some of which will simply indicate that the protesters are still living within the modernist paradigm, and pretending to an illusory detached 'neutrality.’ Of course, the church has sometimes gotten it wrong, and tried to demand of its scholars an adherence to various forms of words, to ways of putting things, which ought themselves to be challenged on the basis of scripture itself. The Christian 'rule of faith' does not, in fact, stifle scholarship; even if it provokes the scholar to try to articulate that rule with greater accuracy and elegance, that itself will be a worthy task. Those who try to cut loose, however, discover sooner or later that when you abandon one framework of ideas you do not live thereafter in a wilderness, without any framework at all. You quickly substitute another, perhaps some philosophical scheme of thought. Likewise, those who ignore one community of discourse (say, the church) are inevitably loyal to another (perhaps some scholarly guild, or some drift on currently fashionable theology)."
(N.T. Wright, The Last Word, p.135-136)

Bring them Back

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It is my understanding that technically all parish clergy in the Church of England are required to read Morning Prayer in their parish churches every morning. Whether they do so or not is something all together different, but again I understand they are supposed to.

Being at The General Theological Seminary, that offers Morning Prayer and Evensong every day, I became spoiled that these ancient monastic offices - the prayers of the hours - where so readily available. I truly came to appreciate them and the slow but deliberate effect they have on us, if we yield ourselves to their transformative power that is.

I do think we in The Episcopal Church need to bring back the Daily Offices! I know that many parish churches and many clergy, as well as lay people, do say the Daily Offices but there is no coordination, it seems. It is my intent when ever and if ever I am able to move closer to St. Paul's Carroll St. in Brooklyn to begin the practice of reading Morning Prayer in the church once again. It is an Anglo-Catholic parish, after all, and the former home of the Cowley Fathers. Money, like always, keeps things from happening. Whether anyone else wants to participate is irrelevant, although I do hope some will. It is a wonderful way to begin the day.

It is my understanding that technically all parish clergy in the Church of England are required to read Morning Prayer in their parish churches every morning. Whether they do so or not is something all together different, but again I understand they are supposed to.

Being at The General Theological Seminary, that offers Morning Prayer and Evensong every day, I became spoiled that these ancient monastic offices - the prayers of the hours - where so readily available. I truly came to appreciate them and the slow but deliberate effect they have on us, if we yield ourselves to their transformative power that is.

I do think we in The Episcopal Church need to bring back the Daily Offices! I know that many parish churches and many clergy, as well as lay people, do say the Daily Offices but there is no coordination, it seems. It is my intent when ever and if ever I am able to move closer to St. Paul's Carroll St. in Brooklyn to begin the practice of reading Morning Prayer in the church once again. It is an Anglo-Catholic parish, after all, and the former home of the Cowley Fathers. Money, like always, keeps things from happening. Whether anyone else wants to participate is irrelevant, although I do hope some will. It is a wonderful way to begin the day.

Oh, we now have a new priest in Christ's Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church - The Rev. Sonia Waters. I attended her ordination to the Holy Order of Priests at Grace Church in Brooklyn Heights this morning. A wonderful service - and I got to see a lot of my former classmates, too. What a deal!

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