July 2006 Archives

Anglican Centrist

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Here is the link to a post by the Anglican Centrist on the problems of our Church.

On diversity:
Our Hope and Our Future depends on any person being welcome in the Episcopal Church – not for who they are but for whom Jesus Christ is.

Continuing response

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Another response to Harding's essay by Alan-in-London. Actually, just go to his site and read responses.

Might I refer to myself as a "pragmatist?" Then, as A-in-L states below, are we Anglicans going to throw away this more pragmatic way of approaching the faith, if in fact we do approach the faith in this way?


Alan-in-London Says:
July 27th, 2006 at 7:03 am

A very interesting essay. In the end, however, I would actually question whether the ordinary person is in thrall to scientific ‘objectivism’ and methodological ’scepticism. Rather, ‘pragmatism’ rules the day, what works for them and helps them get along with life and other people. Whilst this might be galling to those who think they know the ‘truth’, it avoids the horrors of totalitarianism, political and religious. It is interesting that Polanyi recognised this ‘pragmatism’ (dislike for grand moral or political theories) in the English during the second world war, which helped save western civilisation and democracy for the world. How interesting too that it is Anglicanism - a form of English Christianity - that too could be viewed as theologically ‘pragmatic’. Are we to throw this away for some totalitarian vision of the ‘truth’?


Response

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My friend, Jon, one of the few people from my Chi Alpha days with whom I am still in contact, wrote a response to Harding's essay I referenced in a post, yesterday. Even though he accidently posted the comment to my weblog and I am glad he did, it is still a good and interesting response. So, I am posting it here. Thanks, Jon. I will say this, however, that we need to remember that Harding is attempting to apply Polanyi's ideas to the troubles within The Episcopal Church...

The essay was interesting, but ultimately disappointing; I think that Polanyi's thought is caught in the same loops that he critiques. In short, (pardon my rudeness) philosophizing like this seems like just more mental masturbation about mental masturbation.

Polanyi's thoughts are understandable given that he saw World War II close up... but could he have written about the "self-destruction of all the major European institutions" if he had lived to the present day and seen European prosperity, and powerful trends for increasing unity and peace, flower so beautifully?

Postmodernism is only "hyper-modernism" in the realms where the mind believes that the "right" knowledge equals truth or salvation. And that's as much the core of the allure of Fundamentalism, as it is of atheism. The former, by the way, is continuing to grow and become ever more controlling and political in the US, despite the increasing diversity of religion, culture, and lifestyle in the country.

There is a fascinating essay by the Rev’d Dr. Leander Harding on his weblog. The title is Michael Polanyi, “Moral Inversion” and The Episcopal Church. I first came across the ideas of Polanyi in one of my Master's classes at Kent. We were studying ideas of truth and knowledge as they related to human development, particularly among the young and even more specifically among college aged students. The idea of "tacit knowing" and how we in the West understand and categorize what "knowing" or "knowledge" really is simply grabbed me. Whether you agree or disagree with Harding's use of Polanyi's theories in describing some of the pressing problems of Western Christianity in general or The Episcopal Church specifically, it is an essay well worth reading! Here is the link to the essay. Hat tip to Titus1:9.

From the essay:

"Until the churches can find a way to work their way out of the false scientism and objectivism of the hyper-modernity that is called post-modernity we should expect a relentless and irrational attack on the Church’s teaching tradition from within the churches’ own intelligentsia that will be an echo of the self-destructive intellectual history of Europe. The ideologues of this attack will be cocooned in a self-reinforcing circularity of thought that will be impervious to criticism because all critiques can be dissolved in the acids of its skepticism. At the same time we should expect to see an increasing preference for power over persuasion legitimized by the conviction that for the long overdue new age of justice to come the only moral thing to do will be to play a very cruel version of hard ball. Given the history of self-destruction of all the major European institutions we should not doubt the potential destructiveness of this dynamic for church life if it is left unchallenged. I say these things in the spirit of biblical prophecy; that is as a form of prayer that it might not be so."

New study by the AAP

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A new study by the American Academy of Pediatrics in their journal Pediatrics entitled: The Effects of Marriage, Civil Union, and Domestic Partnership Laws on the Health and Well-being of Children found that there is no appreciable difference in children raised by either heterosexual or homosexual parents.

A link to the study.

Something

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Something is going to happen.

I was walking along 5th Ave. in Park Slope yesterday in search of one of those little ironing boards. The weather was nice on a late Sunday afternoon, so there were lots of people on the street and it was easy to overhear all kinds of things. There were three boys (two black and one Hispanic) just hanging out and as I passed by I heard them talking, saying:

Boy one: How old are you?

Boy two: Eight, going on nine? (that 'going on nine' is VERY important to an eight year old!)

Boy one: You work?

Boy two: Yeah.

Boy one: Why do you work?

Boy two: To buy video games!!!! (Like, why else would I work, stupid!)


I was listening to a story on NPR the other day. The story topic was the decline in the percentage of Americans who visit our national parks. While the over all number of visitors has increased over the past twenty or so years, the percentage of the population visiting the parks has dramatically decreased. Why?

One 'expert' believed that he could trace the beginning of the decline to the rise of youth video-game use. How can the national parks compete with video-games? How can much of anything compete with video-games among young people?

Several months ago, I read a story of a company determined to create and sell 'Christian video-games.' An example: the Crusades! So, a video-game where good, strong, upstanding knights during the Crusades kill bad, evil Muslims as the godly knights battle to retake Jerusalem from the infidels. Nice, huh? I suspect that for these good Christian video-game creators, it is terrible for thugs to kill each other over cars or drugs or whatever, but it is glorious for Christian knights to kill Muslims. I guess consistency of belief goes out the window when it comes to video-games and our attempts to persuade non-Christian youth that we, as Christians, are in fact as cool as they are!

There is a discussion going on at Titus1:9 concerning the increase in the "feminization" of the Church and American Christianity focused on an article from the United Methodist Church. Interestingly, a lot of the criticism centers on the American Evangelical praise music that seems to romanticize our relationship with God - one person referred to the music as depicting "my girlfriend Jesus."

There are elements of misogyny in some comments, but in general it is an interesting debate and one that we should be aware of. Too many articles have appeared lately in the national media on the crisis of the American male, particularly boys. In the Church, the fact is that fewer and fewer men are participating in organized religion - at least in Christianity. What is the answer? There are probably lots of answers that do not require us to look backwards to some fictionalized "glory days," but it will benefit us to pay attention to the social problem - even as it moves into the Church.

When the rubber hits the road, however, the only people to blame for men’s disassociation with American religion are men! We men can try to blame-shift all we want, but if we want to be real men we will have to face reality and admit that individually, each guy that stops participating in the Church does so by his own volition. Quitting is not the fault of women or romanticized worship music, as much as we may not like the music. Claiming that the fault rests with women or the feminization of the church just sounds misogynist, in my humble opinion. Just be. Or, as the very manly 'Nike' cajoles us to "Just do it!"

Here is a poem submitted by one of posters at Titus1:9:

re: manly Christianity - I love this part of a poem by Adrian Plass(e?)

“He said, ‘Look, I’m not asking you to spend an hour with me, A quick salvation sandwich and a cup of sancted tea. The cost is you, not half of you, but every single bit. Now tell Me, will you follow Me?’ I said ‘Amen’… no, I quit.

‘I’m awfully sorry Lord,’ I said, ‘I’d like to follow You,
But I don’t think religion is a manly thing to do.’
And He said, ‘Forget religion then, and you think about my son.
And you tell me if you’re man enough to do what he has done.’

‘Are you man enough to see the need? Are you man enough to go?
Are you man enough to care for those that no one wants to know?
Are you man enough to say the things that people hate to hear,
And battle through Gethsemane in loneliness and fear?
And listen, are you man enough to stand it at the end,
The moment of betrayal by the kisses of your friend?
Are you man enough to hold your tongue? Are you man enough to cry?
And when the nails break your body, are you man enough to die,
Man enough to take the pain and wear it like a crown,
Man enough to love the world and turn it upside down?”

A good piece in the New York Times. I talk often about the contribution of technology and busyness to hyper-individualism and the growing isolation of people in our society. Here is a contribution to the growing social debate; a debate which I think has great significance for the Church. Hat-tip to Titus1:9

July 16, 2006
The Way We Live Now:
Confidant Crisis

By ANN HULBERT

By now, I bet almost everybody knows somebody who has joined a social networking Web site like MySpace.com, with more than 90 million members, or Facebook.com, a college-based Web site that has become a high-school favorite, too. That means most people probably also know that “friend” is no longer just a noun, but a verb, one that entails minimal exertion: “to friend” a person involves an exchange of mouse clicks, one to request a spot on someone’s (often very lengthy) list of people granted access to his or her online profile, and a click in response to accept the petitioner. If you’re too old and busy to be logging on obsessively to this Internet social scene, you’re doubtless enmeshed in your own way, e-mailing far-flung acquaintances or anticipating the spread of free Internet telephone service.

This from an article in the Pittsburg Post-Gazette article yesterday concerning mainline denominations, America’s moral compass, and the Culture Wars:

The single issue hamstringing the mainline churches is homosexuality and its place in the church. At its 2004 General Conference in Pittsburgh, the United Methodist Church maintained its stance against gay ordination and same-sex blessings. Last year, it was the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. The national gatherings this summer of both the Presbyterians and Episcopalians were consumed by it.

“We’ve been fighting in this ditch for 28 years and the ditch is getting deeper,” the Presbyterians’ former moderator, Marj Carpenter, of Big Spring, Texas, said in a speech at the denomination’s General Assembly last month. “It’s starting to affect our mission work, our youth ministry, and our evangelism, and I’m ready to try something else.

“Please, let’s get on with being the church, taking the gospel into the world and offering them something else other than arguments.”

I’m beginning to believe that the only honest solution to these incessant arguments and battles is a rearrangement of American Christianity. Even in the denomination that is known to be the middle-way, the Via Media, The Episcopal Church/Anglicanism is being pulled apart.

The extremes of both the liberal and conservative sides in the mainline denominations will not allow for the compromise that the middle-ground normally enforced. As the articles says below, the middle remains silent and allows the issues to be framed and debated by the extremes. It is similar to the American Culture Wars lived out in our nation’s government as extreme partisanship rules the day and the necessary element of compromise that is essential for democratic government falls by the wayside.

Derek H. Davis, dean of the college of humanities at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor in Texas and an expert in church-state relations, said part of the problem is that moderates in the mainline churches have gone silent.

“My own sense is it’s a voice that’s greatly needed in our present condition,” he said. “It tends to be a debate that’s vigorously pursued on the far ends. It makes the cultural wars in America seem more profound than they should be.

“The mainline churches have always represented this moderate middle. Without their voice, we’re not debating, we’re dividing.”

John C. Green, a senior fellow with the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life and a professor of political science at the University of Akron, blames the churches’ divisions on the country’s deep rifts.”What we lack is a consensus on what is moral and what we should do about it,” he said. “But if history is any guide, the current warring parties — whether in the mainline churches or in the country at large — are unlikely to provide a solution.

“Quite literally, they are part of the problem.”

If the middle does not rise up to keep the extremes under control and from destroying the denominations, then the mission of the Church will never go forward and the ditch truly will become deeper and deeper, or else one side or the other will prevail and we will see the same kind of purge we witnessed when the fundamentalists gained full control of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Monday, July 17, 2006 By Steve Levin, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

I was visiting a blog I haven't been to in a while - Two World Collision. On it, the blogger has the words from Dolly Parton's song "Travelin' Thru" from the movie "TransAmerica." A very good movie, whether you agree with the content or outcome or not.

I have come to have great respect for Dolly Parton. Because my parents have always liked Country Music, I've witness the progression of her career and life. These past few years I've seen her in a number of interviews and she strikes me as someone who is very comfortable in her own skin (no matter how tucked or pulled that skin may be). To me, she exemplifies someone who is "real."

There is that part of Dolly Parton that I hope I can be like - her ease, her lack of animosity towards others, her self-deprecating humor, her willingness to give the benefit of the doubt to those she may disagree with or dislike, her quickness to laugh, etc. She puts people at ease, it seems, and is unwilling to play God by making quick, self-serving judgments that belittle or condemn others outright. There is a sense of accomplishment in her life, but a humility that keeps it all very real. She realizes that there are reasons behind why people are as they are and that life is tough.

You can read the lyrics below (thanks to Two World Collision). You can also watch Dolly's video on YouTube.

Living an Illusion

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Living the Collective Illusions
Thomas Merton

People are constantly trying to use you to help them create the particular illusions by which they live. This is particularly true of the collective illusions which sometimes are accepted as ideologies. You must renounce and sacrifice the approval that is only a bribe enlisting your support of a collective illusion. You must not allow yourself to be represented as someone in whom a few of the favorite daydreams of the public have come true. You must be willing, if necessary, to become a disturbing and therefore an undesired person, one who is not wanted because he upsets the general dream.

My source: Inward/Outward
Their source: Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander

The politicized Religious Right and "pro-family" groups keep pushing for victim-hood status as they claim their free speech rights are being violated. There is an element of truth here in the sense that chaplains at the air-force academy, for example, are being kept from praying and saying very sectarian things in the midst of the religiously mixed student body. Another example, see below, is a high school valedictorian who began witnessing to the assembled students, family, and friends about Jesus Christ. Her microphone was turned off shortly after she deviated from her text and began evangelizing the crowd. She and the Religious Right legal organization - The Rutherford Institute - are suing for the violation of the student's First and Fourth Amendment rights.

There have been so much negative representations of Christianity over the past few decades – much of it self-inflicted and not as a result of blatant anti-Christian sentiments of the media, as some claim. It is not a matter of our rights to force people to listen to us as we witness to them, but we are to earn the right to be listened to. We fall far short in our actions and words, particular by those who most stringently demand their rights. Many in the politicized Religious Right claim that their imperative to “save souls” - in their particular, very American, and very sectarian understanding of how that is supposed to happen - supersedes any consideration of the rights or feelings of those who do not agree with them. They are demanding that they have the right and the ability to evangelize anyone, anywhere, no matter the venue or purpose of the event - especially when the situation is a government sponsored event, as in a public high school graduation ceremony.

It is their right to free speech. I agree that it is their right, in the same way that it is the right of a Muslim, Hindu, or a Buddhist to witness before the same crowd in the same way. (Of course, the politicized Religious Right would have a fit if a Muslim valedictorian evangelized the crowd at a graduation ceremony – because they have a right not to hear the deceptive lies of Satan spewed forth by false religions in a government sanctioned function.) I say, let them say all this stuff whenever and however they want as long as they allowed others the same right. I fear, however, that they do not want others to have that same right.

The problem is that in this day in age most people are going to react very negatively when they are confronted with blatant and sectarian evangelization - not necessarily because they hate "real Christians" or hate God, but because these "real Christians" are acting with very little respect or consideration for those before whom they are speaking. In the long run, it will be counter-productive to the Religious Right's cause of saving the souls of everyone - again, according to their understanding of how that is supposed to happen to the exclusion of any other form or means.

The loud, shrill, arrogant, and demanding tone of speech and action being employed by the politicized Religious Right will not bring mass conversations to their form of the Christian faith, but more likely will turn more people away from the cause of Christ and Jesus' call for all to be reconciled to God and one another. There is such a profound lack of "love your neighbor" in their actions - it’s all about securing their rights, regardless of the rights of anyone else.

Yes, anyone who claims to be a Christian can express their faith and their experience, but there are times and places and means of doing so that truly will be effective and others that will not be. A lot has to be undone at this point before earning the right to be heard from here on out.

Oft used quote...

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What length will people go?

"Of all tyrannies a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience .... To be 'cured' against one's will and cured of states which we may not regard as disease is to be put on a level with those who have not yet reached the age of reason ... You start being 'kind' to people before you have considered their rights, and then force upon them supposed kindnesses which they in fact had a right to refuse, and finally kindnesses which no one but you will recognize as kindnesses and which the recipient will feel as abominable cruelties."
- C.S. Lewis

The First Time

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This morning, at 10:00 am, at St. Paul's Carroll St., I celebrated my first Eucharist, or as they say at St. Paul's - Mass. Low-mass, Rite I Prayer II. I was/am glad!

It took six weeks after my ordination, but I didn't want this, too, to be a hurried affair. Even while I say that my priestly ordination was the culmination of around seven years of discernment and work, it was really this morning when it all came together. Being ordained to the priesthood without fulfilling my priestly sacramental functions - then why be a priest? I actually did a competent job.

Anglican Risk

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It was inevitable!

The game of Anglican Risk.

"The classic battle game of global domination now with a spiritual dimension."

Thanks to Wendy Proter, former fellow seminarian, for this notice!

Truth, I suspect...

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Questions and answers in the The Wittenburg Door

Bob Gersztyn for the Door asks, "Someone has said that Star Wars is the myth of the 21st Century, for Americans."

Terry Mattingly responds, "...The Star Wars universe gives you good verses evil, yet then turns right around and puts you in kind of an Eastern religious, yin yang context where there are the two sides of the force, the dark side and the light side. It wants to have Eastern religion and Western religion at the same time... People are constantly telling Anakin Skywalker, later Darth Vader, to trust his feelings. Why? Why are you supposed to believe that both the good guys and the bad guys want him to trust his feelings? They guy's feelings are all messed up. How is he suppposed to get to truth through is feelings when his feelings are a circus? You can't have truth any way other than feelings because the culture of the 60's, and thereafter, is all based on experience, feelings and emotions. Anything else is linear, transcendent, doctrinaire truth, and we can't have that. That's old fashioned Judeo-Christian or something. So, however you find truth, it's got to be entertaining, fun, edgy and visual, and make you feel a certain way. Trusting your feelings is very close to the heart of the '60's, as I said earlier"

A bit later Terry Mattingly responds, "Yes, that's what Roberto [Rivera Arcarlo] means when he says the Star Wars universe wants it both ways. It wants to have good and evil, and moral certainty but yet then again it doesn't want to have a conceptof truth taht actually gives you that, and that's America. We want very badly for everything to be true except the parts that kind of bug us."

Terry Mattingly being interviewed by Bob Gersztyn of the Wittenburg Door. Mattingly writes the column On Religion and works as a journalist for the Scripts Howard News Service in D.C. His new book is entitled, Pop Goes Religion: Faith in Popular Culture

Pertaining to a question about the potential for TV and the Internet as vehicles for evangelism or church programs, "I'm of the belief, as I say in the book, that media makes lousy evangelism, but media makes tremendous pre-evangelism."

The Wittenburg Door July/August, 2006, Issue No. 206, pp 8-9.

Lay Episcopalians for the Anglican Communion (LEAC), a strident group reacting against the Episcopal Church leadership (they wore black arm bands during the General Convention in Columbus), states here that they were moving forward with their plans to bring presentments against the "40" bishops who "laid hands on" New Hampshire's bishop Gene Robinson at his consecration, and against him. They have refocused their efforts, however, because of what they believe happened at General Convention in Columbus and over the past few weeks. Their new goal is targeting the “middle 80% in parish pews across the nation" who they believe are being dooped by apostate clergy and led into non-Christian beliefs.

I am amazed that this group really believes that 80% of Episcopalians are too stupid to comprehend the Christian faith on their own. Of course people can be deceived, but this is one of the most well educated churches in the country. Now, they will target those 80% and attempt to convince them that they are in fact that stupid and that they have in fact let themselves be deceived by nefarious forces and that they should rise up against their priests and bishops and join LEAC in coming back to the true faith. I don't think they will have much luck, and it isn't because 80% of Episcopalians are heretics, but because very few Episcopalians are fundamentalists!

Here is a snippet of the whole article:

“We go now full-bore into the most challenging and crucial mission since LEAC’s founding. Our attention must now be directed to assisting what we call ‘the middle 80%’ in parish pews across the nation, many unwittingly led down a blasphemous path. They have quietly if not secretively been taken away from their Christian vows and historic faith, although still mouthed in their creeds every Sunday.

“If we don’t succeed, most will go innocently away from Christianity, perhaps forever, blindly favoring comfortable ‘unity’ while losing their historic Christian home. We want to keep a robust national church, not a remnant. We want to save souls in unity with Christ, not unity in Unitarianism.”

Another sign...

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Here is another indication of the underlying intent of Religious Right (RR) groups. The RR has given itself over to a strange ideology and political, social, and theological fundamentalism (little “f”). They no longer reflect the Christian faith, in my humble opinion. They are not even conservatives in the classical sense.

A new organization of "family-values" organizations in Georgia have banned together to form the "Coalition for Clean Baseball" to try to stop the sale of the Atlanta Braves to a person they don't like. I don't necessarily like what this guy does for a living (amassing a fortune of around 4 billion dollars) – he is a large distributor of pornography (according to this new coalition).

This group has a right to advocate for their position against porn, and frankly I would support advocacy against pornography, but what concerns me is that they are taking upon themselves the role of arbiters of who is and who is not worthy or eligible to buy and sell in Georgia and regarding the national organizations nationwide.

There was a time when men held that women were not worthy of owning land. Not too long ago, certain groups determined that blacks were not worthy to buy and sell certain assets within our nation. Now, these groups are deciding that this man is not morally worthy and should be ineligible to buy the Atlanta Braves. What if a gay person was attempting to buy the Braves - would this group mount a nation campaign to keep this “reprobate homosexual” from engaging in the economic process?

You can see what would happen if these people (who are defaming the Church and the cause of Christ) every truly obtained power. Just wait, this kind of thing will only increase. It just depends on whether their influence will continue to cause people in power to listen to them. Their true intent is being slowly laid out before the American public, and while many Americans can and do agree with some of their policies, this kind of thing (the interference with commerce) goes too far. Who is next on their list of people who are not worthy of buying and selling within the United States? They can only become more extreme.


July 11, 2006

Campaign Launched to Stop Porn Magnate from Buying Atlanta Braves
by Pete Winn, associate editor

Baseball, apple pie and pornography?

A Colorado billionaire wants to buy the Atlanta Braves baseball team. But a pro-family grassroots campaign in Georgia is springing up to oppose the purchase because of the way he made his fortune.

Major League Baseball owners will meet Aug. 8-10 in New York City in a regularly scheduled meeting. They may discuss whether John Malone's company, Liberty Media, can buy the struggling Braves from Time Warner.

No one doubts Malone's financial resources. The Englewood businessman, one of the world's richest men, is estimated by Forbes Magazine to be worth $4 billion.

But Stephen Adams, associate editor of Focus on the Family's Citizen magazine, says Malone is not what he appears to be -- and doesn't deserve to own the Braves.

What is the real agenda?

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The following news post came through Focus on the Families "CitizenLink" daily e-mail updates. The real agenda of the Religious Right becomes so much clear as time goes by.

What this article makes very clear is that the intent of Religious Right organizations, such as The American Family Association of Michigan (AFAM), who initiated the lawsuit against Michigan State, is not the "protection of marriage," but the denigration of same-gender relationships and the perpetuation of discrimination against gay people. In addition, the consequences of this kind of attitude also impact non-married couples - as in those who might otherwise be under "common-law" marriages.

My hunch is that if the Michigan public where allowed to vote on a referendum to allow state and private agencies to grant same-gender or domestic-partner insurance benefits, hospital visitation rights, etc., that it would pass, despite what AFAM wants to believe. The public may have voted to define "marriage" as being between one man and one woman, but that is not the same thing as denying any type of equality under the law to same-gender partners or relationships. The Religious Right knows this, so they have to be as diligent, demanding and harsh as they can be in order to keep the perception of the issue among the people as they want it to be.

It's called fairness and compassion. The Religious Right is not about that, however, but they simply want to denigrate and stamp out homosexuality under the misguided belief that if the public returns to believing that homosexuality is a horrible sickness and a danger to society that people will stop being homosexual. Of course, some truly believe that if society accommodates homosexuality, but will destroy the society.

Here is the article:

Family Group Sues University Over Domestic-Partner Benefits
July 10, 2006
from staff reports

Suit claims Michigan State University's policy violates marriage-protection amendment.

The American Family Association of Michigan (AFAM) filed suit against Michigan State University (MSU) last week after the school began offering health-insurance benefits to partners of gay employees. AFAM charges that it violates an amendment to the state's constitution protecting marriage.

Gary Glenn, president of AFAM, said the benefit scheme is an attempt to create an alternate universe to marriage.

Waking up...

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It dawned on me the other day that I have allowed myself to be drawn into and consumed by negativity. How did that happen?

Pessimism and negativity and confrontationalism is overwhelming so many people in this country on both the left and right.

An aspect of many, not all but many, people who tend to be on the more liberal side of things is a residing negativity that seems to be always present. I'm not sure why, but that has been my observation. There is always a crisis right around the corner that will destroy just about everything. Of course, we also see this kind of attitude when dealing with morals and God’s coming punishment on what has become the Religious-Right. Right now, the left pushes the next crisis as global warming. In the 1979's, I can remember it was the coming ice-age. In a matter of 20-30 years, we went from dire predictions of advancing ice-sheets that will cover most of the upper part of the northern hemisphere to dire predictions of melting ice-sheets that will flood all our costal cities and forever damage our fragile environment. Does anyone remember the coming energy crisis when all the world’s oil will be completely depleted by the 1990's and the world economy will be plunged back into the pre-industrial era?

This isn't the stuff of philosophical liberalism, but it is the way liberal politics fueled by political-correctness and identity-politics (and lots of other things) has played out over the last 40 years or so. I have to say, too, that the emphasis on dealing with the less fortunate and less advantage among us that permeated liberalism is quite laudable and far closer to a core of the Gospel than was evident in many blue-blood Republican conservatives. If it were not for these liberals, much of the care for and integration of those who are not WASPs into every aspect of American life may not have happened as quickly or at all, no matter that the methods to achieve such care and integration didn't work very well.

One thing I liked about pre-Bush & pre-Religious Right culture-wars era conservatism is the optimism that seemed to imbue many, not all but many, conservative people. There was a trust in human ingenuity, there was faith in the human spirit, and there was an expectation for personal liberty and responsibility. The idea that the solutions to our problems were always available as we humans put our minds to the solutions and as the need (and economic imperative) made such solutions available and probable. We can face our future head on with a positive and hopeful spirit.

Again, many conservatives didn't want non-WASP's anywhere near them nor to participate in the full life of the nation. Many conservatives would have rather impose their solutions on the populace rather than allow the people to decide for themselves.

Those who whether intentionally or unintentionally worked against the positive aspects of both philosophical liberalism and conservatism betrayed their own inner inconsistencies. They were and are not "true conservatives" or "true liberals" in the classical sense.

So, I've found myself falling into the pseudo-liberal negativity, (which has also overtaken the pseudo-conservatives) even though I really do identify as a moderate (whatever that really means). I have seen the nefarious intentions of those godless or apostate types, as do so many post-Bush/Religious Right pseudo-conservatives. I have found myself being so absorbed by all this stuff that I have not lived into, as I used to do, the positive-ness that sees the future as hopeful and anything but negative despite obvious hardships and problems, as an opportunity to live life in the full (being content in all things despite the circumstances, as Paul wrote), as an opportunity for human ingenuity (an aspect of being make in the image of God) to work to solve our pressing and future problems. I have let negativity rob me of the joy and eagerness for what lies ahead; and you know what, that really deadens one's life! Life and all its stuff is not a zero-sum game.

So, I refocus and retake control of my future. As a Christian my happiness or hopefulness do not lie in the "systems of this world." There are dire problems in our world and great human suffering, but we work for their relief. Let those who want to destroy and denigrate go right ahead. They are destroying their own lives, their own security and satisfaction, and I don't have to participate with them. I take the step to move forward with what I believe to be a vision for ministry and life that is given to me by God (no, not just me but to all of us), a means of living that draws me closer to who I am in Christ and for the purposes God has for my life. There is nothing negative about that. Why do I find myself so easily pulled away and into the quagmire?

Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, sermon in York Minster during the Church of England's General Synod.

'Take nothing for the journey' (Mk 6.8)

Here is the link to the just released statement of ++Rowan Williams to the Church of England's General Synod. Rowan seems a bit annoyed. He comments on the Episcopal Church's General Convention, his Reflection statement and how some have interpreted (or misinterpreted) his statements, and with regard to the troubles the Communion is now facing. Hat tip to Titusonenine.

One poignant paragraph on the professed Catholic nature of Anglicanism:


The real agenda – and it bears on other matters we have to discuss at this Synod – is what our doctrine of the Church really is in relation to the whole deposit of our faith. Christian history gives us examples of theologies of the Church based upon local congregational integrity, with little or no superstructure – Baptist and Congregationalist theologies; and of theologies of the national Church, working in symbiosis with culture and government – as in some Lutheran settings. We have often come near the second in theory and the first in practice. But that is not where we have seen our true centre and character. We have claimed to be Catholic, to have a ministry that is capable of being universally recognised (even where in practice it does not have that recognition) because of its theological and institutional continuity; to hold a faith that is not locally determined but shared through time and space with the fellowship of the baptised; to celebrate sacraments that express the reality of a community which is more than the people present at any one moment with any one set of concerns. So at the very least we must recognise that Anglicanism as we have experienced it has never been just a loose grouping of people who care to describe themselves as Anglicans but enjoy unconfined local liberties. Argue for this if you will, but recognise that it represents something other than the tradition we have received and been nourished by in God's providence. And only if we can articulate some coherent core for this tradition in present practice can we continue to engage plausibly in any kind of ecumenical endeavour, local or international.

Each of us, what are we? Tourists or pilgrims?


Only the walker who sets out toward ultimate things is a pilgrim. In this lies the terrible difference between tourist and pilgrim. The tourist travels just as far, sometimes with great zeal and courage, gathering up acquisitions (a string of adventures, a wondrous tale or two) and returns the same person as the one who departed. There is something inexpressibly sad in the clutter of belongings the tourist unpacks back at home. The pilgrim is different. The pilgrim resolves that the one who returns will not be the same person as the one who set out.
Andrew Schelling

Here are a couple statements coming out of the latest Synod of the Anglican Church of Nigeria. Akinola continues on a path of separation from the Anglican communion of churches in communion with the Archbishop of Canterbury. The only option for a group of churches, leaders, or people who will not work to formulate compromise is authoritarianism. While we are a church of bishops, we are not one like Rome. There is a democratic essence within our structures and understanding of things that do not enable us to be a church under a Pope or a Curia, no matter what some may want or how they want to change Anglicanism to be more like Rome.


2. THE ANGLICAN COVENANT

Synod is satisfied with the move by the Global South to continue with its veritable project of defending the faith committed to us against present onslaught from ECUSA, Canada, England and their allies. The need therefore, to redefine and/or re-determine those who are truly Anglicans becomes urgent, imperative and compelling. Synod therefore empowers the leadership of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) to give assent to the Anglican Covenant.

3. THE LAMBETH CONFERENCE

The Lambeth Conference which is one of the accepted organs of unity in the Anglican Communion is due for another meeting in 2008. the Synod, after reviewing some recent major events in the Communion, especially the effects of the ‘revisionists’ theology’, which is now making wave in America, Canada and England, observed with dismay the inability of the Church in the afore­mentioned areas to see reason for repentance from the harm and stress they have caused this communion since 1988 culminating in the consecration of Gene Robinson, a practicing homosexual in 2003 as a bishop in ECUSA. Synod also regrets the inability of the See of Canterbury to prevent further impairment of the unity of the Church. It therefore, believes strongly that the moral justification for the proposed Lambeth Conference of 2008 is questionable in view of the fact that by promoting teachings and practices that are alien and inimical to the historic formularies of the Church, the Bishops of ECUSA, Canada and parts of Britain have abandoned the Biblical faith of our fathers.

4. GLOBAL SOUTH CONFERENCE

Synod underlines the need for maintaining the age-long tradition of a ten-yearly Conference of Bishops in the Anglican Communion for discussing issues affecting the Church. It therefore calls on the leadership of the Global South and Council of Anglican Provinces in Africa (CAPA) to do everything necessary to put in place a Conference of all Anglican Bishops to hold in 2008 should all efforts to get the apostles of ‘revisionist agenda’ to repent and retrace their steps fail.

Here is the link to the entire communique.

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