November 2006 Archives

Joke - I can't resist

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Sitting on the side of the highway waiting to catch speeding drivers, a State Police Officer sees a car puttering along at 22 MPH. He thinks to himself, "This driver is just as dangerous as a speeder!" So he turns on his lights and pulls the driver over.

Approaching the car, he notices that there are five old ladies -- two in the front seat and three in the back - eyes wide and white as ghosts.

The driver, obviously confused, says to him, "Officer, I don't understand, I was doing exactly the speed limit! What seems to be the problem?"

"Ma'am," the officer replies, "You weren't speeding, but you should know that driving slower than the speed limit can also be a danger to other drivers."

"Slower than the speed limit?" she asked. No sir, I was doing the speed limit exactly... Twenty-Two miles an hour!" the old woman says a bit proudly. The State Police officer, trying to contain a chuckle explains to her that "22" was the route number, not the speed limit. A bit embarrassed, the woman grinned and thanked the officer for pointing out her error.

"But before I let you go, Ma'am, I have to ask... Is everyone in this car ok? These women seem awfully shaken and they haven't muttered a single peep this whole time." the officer asks.
"Oh, they'll be alright in a minute officer. We just got off Route 119."

Anglican Orders

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Pope Leo XIII's Apostolicae Curae (On the Nullity of Anglican Orders) Promulgated September 18, 1896.

The Archbishops of Canterbury and York respond: Saepius Officio
Answer of the Archbishops of Canterbury and York to the Bull Apostolicae Curae of H. H. Leo XIII on English Ordinations.

I re-read Saepius Officio this morning. Ah, yes, I am confident in my priestly ordination. Foolishly so, perhaps, but confident none-the-less. We tend to cast out each other all the time. Too bad for us.

Not bad for melodrama

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Here is an interesting article from the National Catholic Reporter.

What do you think? How does this relate to what may be happening within the Anglican Communion and The Episcopal Church?

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Not bad for melodrama

A year ago we lamented in this space the disappearance of the U.S. Catholic bishops. Well, we meant that in a metaphorical sense. They hadn’t actually disappeared; they had just become far less visible on the national scene than in an earlier era.

Here’s how we put it: “We are watching the disintegration of a once-great national church, the largest denomination in the United States, into regional groupings bent on avoiding the spotlight and the big issues.”

We noted that there was war and starvation everywhere; fresh clergy sex abuse reports out of Philadelphia, Los Angeles, and Spokane, Wash., to name a few; 20 percent of U.S. parishes without a pastor; a Congress poised to reduce health care coverage and food stamps; the United States accused of torture and keeping combatants in secret prisons; and so on. And the bishops had nothing to say. They would talk only to each other about internal church matters.

We are compelled, then, to report that the bishops have not entirely disappeared. For they gathered again, in Baltimore this year, and, continuing their trip inward, issued documents on such burning issues as birth control, ministry to persons with “a homosexual inclination,” and how to prepare to receive Communion. Now, none of these matters is unimportant. Don’t get the wrong impression. We’ve had documents aplenty about all of them before. And these topics -- unlike the war in Iraq, say, or what it means to have a president and vice president endorsing torture -- are even covered in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

Over and over again

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I keep listening to this over and over again. I just cannot get past how incredibly beautiful and haunting is:

Praise the Lord O My My Soul (Greek Chant)

Vespers (All-Night Vigil), for alto, tenor & chorus, Op. 37
Composed by Sergey Rachmaninov
Sung by the USSR Ministry of Culture Chamber Choir with Irina Arkhipova

Unbelievable, particularly Irina Arkhipova and those who sing the Basso Profondo part!

iPod Shuffle - 4:20 pm

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Here is what the mighty iPod gave up to me this later Tuesday afternoon - and yes, it is almost dark outside. Blah.

1. Jon Brian, Magnolia, from the 'Magnolia' soundtrack
2. The Russian State Symphony - Rachmaninoff, Hymn of Praise, from 'Sacred Treasures'
3. Sarah Brightman, Scarborough Fair, from 'La Luna'
4. Joi, Asian Vibes, from 'One and One is One'
5. 'Till Tuesday, What About Love, from 'Welcome Home' (brings back memories of sitting in my drawing and graphic design classes doin' work and listenin' to tunes)
6. Sarah McLachlan, Mary, from 'Fumbling Towards Ex...'
7. Benedictine Monks, Anon: Santus Dominus Deus Sabaoth,
8. Berlin, Take My Breath Away, from 'Top Gun' soundtrack
9. Aimee Mann, Beautiful, from 'The Forgotten Arm'
10. Moby, Bring Back My Happiness, from 'Everything Is Wrong'
11. Skott Freedman, I'd Like to Think I Would, from 'Some Company' (simply a beautiful song!)

Via:
Fr. Jim Tucker of Dappled Things:

The rules, for bloggers who want to play:

Get your ipod or media-player of choice, select your whole music collection, set the thing to shuffle (i.e., randomized playback), then post the first ten songs that come out. No cheating, no matter how stupid it makes you feel!

A real change?

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Considering past discussion on "open communion" and whether the Eucharist is simply a memorial or having something to do with "real presence," here is a snippet of an interview by The Catholic Herald in the UK with Archbishop Rowan Williams.

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The American Catholic writer Flannery O’Connor was once invited to a New York literary salon. Over dinner the hostess, who had the power to make or break writers’ careers, said that she believed the Eucharist was merely a “symbol”. Flannery O’Connor replied: “Well, if it’s a symbol, to hell with it.” Later, O’Connor wrote that there was no other answer she could have given, because the Eucharist “is the centre of existence for me; all the rest of life is expendable”.

I think that is a wonderful quote and I want to stand and applaud it.
Is that also true of you?
I think so, but I might want to refine the language a bit. Of course, the Eucharist is a symbol, but I think what Flannery O’Connor was saying is that if it is just a symbol in the sense that it is something detached from what it is about, and it is just working in your mind -- well, no, that’s not it. The Eucharist is not a visual aid and it’s not a jog to memory. It’s an event, an encounter. And if it is not an event in which some utterly earth-shaking change occurs, if it is not an encounter with the risen Christ, well, indeed, to hell with it. It just becomes something that we do as opposed to something God offers or does. That’s at the centre of my own feeling about the Eucharist.

But how close can Anglicanism get to transubstantiation?

I think partly because of the Thirty-Nine Articles giving transubstantiation a very bad press, Anglicans don’t especially want to go down that route. In spite of a lot of very interesting work – P J Fitzpatrick’s book – on the Eucharist, I still think there is a problem being bound to that particular theory of what happens. What I want to say: the bread and the wine, the sacrament, become fully and perfectly the carriers of the agency of Jesus, as fully as his literal flesh and blood are the carriers of his agency and identity. And what that means and how that happens, I am not sure we can carve up quite as neatly as St Thomas.

Read the whole interview.

and the sun goes down

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I hate this time of year! It is 5:00 pm, the sun went down, it is dark, and I want to go to bed.

Anglican Uniatism

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I just finished reading a rather longish paper (41 pages) given by Fr. Aidan Nichols, OP, for the Anglican Use Conference in 2005. It is an interesting paper tracing the developments of the Catholic expression within Anglicanism. He ends up talking about the hope of reunification of the Western Churches, particularly Rome and Canterbury.

He writes of the possibility of something like an Anglican Uniate Church where those Catholic elements remaining within Anglicanism come under papal authority but are given rights to their own liturgical traditions and some sort of self-governance.

The "Anglican Use" Roman Rites are for those Episcopalians who could not countenance the ordination of women to the priesthood, who wanted to swim the Tabor, but keep the various English traditions. The Book of Divine Worship is the result - merging strains of the Roman Rite, Sarum, and various Anglican traditions. It is an interesting book. I have a copy.

Anyway, here is the paper. I thought it was interesting reading.

Oh so trendy

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I was looking through a service bulletin of a memorial liturgy that my host helped with the other day. On the inside cover was some info on the church and a bit of information on communion.

The communion bit started out, “It is the practice of The Episcopal Church that all people are welcome to come to communion…”

No, it isn’t. When my host mentioned this to the rector – that the Canons had not changed, the Prayer Book has not changed – the rector simply said something like, “well, most everyone is doing it anyway and besides, 70% of the bishops approve it.” At which point, my host asked, “Oh really, during what General Convention was it voted on and changed?” Of course, the rector had no response because the official teaching of the Church has not changed. I really doubt that 70% of the bishops approve of such a thing. I know that our liturgics professor at General, who is young, smart, and up-and-coming, certainly does not agree with it.

As much as “liberals” (that isn’t the right designation, because so many of this group are not really liberals, but are ecclesiastical anarchists – or, perhaps, closeted Congregationalists), as much as this group of people want to complain about the “conservatives” (see above, but plug in the word “conservative” for “liberal”) and their violation of their ordination vows and the Canons of this Church by calling on foreign bishops to “save them” from the evil of The Episcopal Church, they themselves (the pseudo-liberals) are perhaps even worse offenders of violating the Canons, the Prayer Book, and “doing their own thing.”

For the good ordering of the Church, the founders of this Church (who also happened to be the founders of our American form of government), created checks and balances so that what was decided in Convention for the entire Church was thoroughly vetted and well thought through. It is an amalgam of Episcopal and democratic governance that includes the clerical orders and the laity in all decision-making. It is a good thing.

So, now, throughout this Church on both sides of the great divide, we have these groups of people doing whatever they want to do, whatever feels good or right to them, and to hell with the Canons and the Book of Common Prayer. It is anarchy, and chaos is running rampant. This house will not stand.

There are ways to change the Canons and practices of this Church, so go through them. If the outcomes are not what our group likes, whether we call ourselves liberal/progressive or conservative/evangelical, or the great middle, too bad. We then have to decide whether we will be a loyal opposition or whether we will be rebellious adolescents at best and anarchists at worst. This doesn’t give any of us the right to violate vows or Canons. If it becomes too much for us to bear, then we respectfully and quietly resign our orders in this Church and seek out like-minded jurisdictions – perhaps Rome, perhaps Constantinople, perhaps Geneva, perhaps Springfield, MO, or perhaps Salt Lake City. Isn’t this what our new Presiding Bishop has suggested to Bishop Schofield of San Joaquin, and if it is true and good for him then it is true and good for this rector and all those who insist that they know better than the councils of this Church and are “doing their own thing.”

Yes, there is a time for the loyal opposition to engage in a bit of ecclesiastical disobedience, but order must be maintained and those who violate their ordination vows and the Canons must be ready to accept the consequences of their decisions and actions.

I certainly respect those to who believe we should open communion to all people. The disciples weren’t baptized in the name of the Trinity when Jesus instituted the first communion, after all. According to Scripture, there was still a lot they did not understand about what Jesus was truly doing or who he truly was. Yet, they all did decide to give up everything and follow him (with one notable exception). There can be good theological debate on this issue, but we need to have that debate and bring the suggested changes before the General Convention to decide. Otherwise, we cease being Catholic, we cease being Episcopalian, we cease being a Church that functions in deliberation, wisdom, and good order. We become like the tradition I came out of (American Evangelical/Pentecostal/Charismatic) in which the newest trend rushes through every couple of years.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! My hope is that we all can live in a state of thankfulness, always.

So, I am once again involved in another long blog discussion over the recent letter sent by the new Presiding Bishop Jefferts-Shori to the Bishop of San Joaquin in California - one of the diocese that are attempting to move out of The Episcopal Church. Her letter comes after Bishop Schofield's letter to his diocese as their diocesan convention approached.

Anyway, if you dare, read the comments and help me. Where am I wrong? Seriously. I know that my writing can be better, but I want to know where my inconsistencies are apparent.

The link is here.

Oh, I post under "Bob G+"

Interview with Rowan Williams

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A very good interview with Rowan Williams in The Church Times before his visit to Rome. It is rather long, but well worth the read. Via Titusonenine

Attitude

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There is so much swirling around in my head and there is no time to sift through it all. How wonderful it would be to have time just to think, to work through things, or to be able to complete a project in a thorough manner.

It would be nice, but that is not the world in which I live, and frankly it is the world of too many of us. So, we do what we can.

I need to remind myself that the Church is God's - St. Paul's, The Episcopal Church, the Anglican Communion, or the Assemblies of God to extend out even further. I tend to be a perfectionist and to set high expectations for myself. I have learned to be realistic, but in the back of my mind a voice still says, "You should be able to do all this and do it up to the standards that the people and God warrant." It would be nice.

Why am I here? I am here to glorify God. I am here to be in relationship with those around me. I am here to love them and help them be as God's desires them to be - free, joyful, faithful, loving, forgiving, free (because this is very important), secure, content, giving, free, at peace, able to hear the still small voice of God, and so many other things.

I am a priest. This isn't a job; it is a sense of being. It is more than an identity. My life is not my own, and I am one under authority. I am one in Holy Orders - a servant. Honestly, all the other stuff is (or should be) on the periphery. I too often focus on those peripheral things because they shout the loudest to be paid attention to.

From the Westminster Larger Catechism:

Question 1: What is the chief and highest end of man?
Answer: Man's chief and highest end is to glorify God, and fully to enjoy him forever.

The Shorter Catechism is the same, only shorter (funny how that works, isn't it?) and more familiar:

Q. 1. What is the chief end of man?
A. Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.

Oh, that this would always be in the forefront of my thoughts!

This brings me to the attitude adjustment that I’ve needed for a long time. I just hope it sticks. The work of my mind or hands is a service to the Church, in whatever function I happen to be fulfilling or in whatever capacity I am called: data-analyst, priest, spiritual director, confessor, gutter cleaner-outer, graphic designer, and so on.

30 Seconds to Mars

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30 Seconds to Mars

Savior

Lyrics:

Until you crash
Until you burn
Until you lie
Until you learn
Until you see
Until you believe
Until you fight
Until you fall
Until the end of everything at all
Until you die
Until you're alive

Don't save me, don't save me, cuz I don't care
Don't save me, don't save me, cuz
I don't care

Until you give
Until you've used
Until you've lost
Until you lose
Until you see, how could you believe?
Until you've lived a thousand times
Until you've seen the other side
This is my chance, this is my chance

Don't save me, don't save me, cuz I don't care
Don't save me, don't save me, cuz
I don't care

Until the truth becomes a lie
Until you change, until you deny
Until you believe

This is my chance, this is my chance
I'll take it now because I can
This is my chance, I want it now

Don't save me, don't save me, cuz I don't care
Don't save me, don't save me, cuz
I don't care

Save me, save me, save me
Save me, save me, save me
I don't care

"Gentle Orthodoxy"

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You have to read this post by The Wandering Christian. It is wonderful. That we all may re-enter that child-like spirit that trusts and believes, is joyous and free, and experiences life to the full!

Adventures in Anglicanism

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Bishop Scofield of the Diocese of San Joaquin has issued a letter to his diocese leading up to their diocesan convention. My take on the leader is that the resolutions before convention will remove those in the diocese from The Episcopal Church. Perhaps the presentment against Bishop Scofield by the other bishops of California, which was found to be without merit at the time, was premature. You can read the letter here.

Here is a response by Father Jake Stops the World

There is a lot of discussion of this letter at Titusonenine. I responded to an earlier comment that decried the attitudes typically associated with Californians of a social permissiveness or post-modernist way that says that all beliefs are equal, thusly:

Brain wrote:

So over time, what shapes what? Does the church remain a focal point of faithfulness amid “live and let live” or does a 97% unchurched population influence the church to “believe whatever ya want”? As far as mainline synods and denominations, the data is there for all to see.

Faithfulness to what? A very particular way of interpreting Scripture? A checklist of does and don’ts? A litmus test of theological principles? The two greatest commands given to us by Jesus? From the perspective of the unchurched people around us, I posit that it isn’t what we may think. They want to see people who actually live what they say – like Mother Teresa, like the Amish in Pennsylvania. Like Bishop Scofield? Life you or me? Like liberals or conservatives?

You know, with regard to the "believe what ya want" and the ethos behind post-modernism or its cousin “relativism”, the way we respond to people, the way we engage one another in disagreements, the way we speak and convey our principles and beliefs, the way we DO all these things become paramount. Talk is cheap. “They will know you are Christians by your love…” There ain’t a whole lot of lovin' goin’ on.

Anyone can say anything and believe anything – Christian or non-Christian, liberal or conservative. It is only when the post-modernist and unchurched people see such a difference in our lives that they cannot deny that there is something profoundly significant in what we proclaim, expressed through our actions so as to not be found to be hypocrites. We can demand that post-modernism be rejected, but it isn’t going away. Our words must match our actions, and most non-Christians believe that we are a bunch of hypocrites in that regard – conservative or liberal, it doesn’t matter.

We as Christians will now have to honestly live lives of significant difference (as the Gospel calls us to do), and that is not just in our profession of beliefs or some demand that people stop behaving in certain ways. The unchurched look and see huge logs sticking out of our eyes. I think this is a problematic point in much of what I read from reasserters over some of the moral issues we are struggling over. I have no doubt that Bishop Scofield is a godly man who seeks after God’s will, but his description of all other Episcopalians who do not agree with his way of living out the Anglican/Christian life is problematic. Again, in a culture where anyone can believe whatever they want with equal regard, it is a demonstratably different life that will attract them and will prove to them that there is something different about THIS Gospel.

An example of this is how the liberal news media was bending over backwards to report on and trying to explain the profoundly different way the Amish responded to the murder of their children in Pennsylvania. In the Amish, they saw lived out the command to forgive and to love without hypocrisy. They look at us in all our pronouncements and infighting and accusations as nothing more than a bunch of hypocrites – ala Ted Haggard.

In a post-modernism world, we have to get off the pot! How often do we step back and really think of how the unchurched see us?

Shoot-First Apologetics

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A cautionary article for our times, and from the Evangelicals no less:

Shoot-First Apologetics
What a dead bluebird taught Walter Martin about defending the faith.
Richard J. Mouw | posted 11/10/2006 07:59AM

I was chided recently by someone who was upset with me because of my extensive dialogues with Mormon scholars. "How can you engage in friendly conversations with people who believe such terrible things?" he asked me. I tried to explain that if we are going to criticize Mormonism, it should be on matters that they actually believe, not on what we think they believe. I said the best way to know Mormon beliefs is to actually engage in dialogue with Mormons.

"You don't need to have dialogue with Mormons to know what Mormonism is all about," the person retorted. "All you have to do is read Walter Martin! He had those folks figured out!"

As a high school student in the 1950s in New Jersey, I was a Walter Martin fan. He was not as well known in those days as he would be after 1965, when he published his much-reprinted Kingdom of the Cults. But he was already a dynamic speaker who could stir up an evangelical audience with his engaging, sharp-witted critiques of Mormonism, Christian Science, Jehovah's Witnesses, and Seventh-day Adventists (this last group he would later remove from his list of dangerous cults).

Continue reading below

Interesting stuff to read...

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Here are some interesting articles I've read today:

1. George Soros - 'Excerpt: Feel-Good Society'

2. Archbishop of York - 'Respect for Every Person'

3. Archbishop of York - 'Archbishop blames 'chattering classes' for collapse of Britain's spiritual life' from the Daily Mail

This article touches on some interesting points about the role of religion in society. Britain and the United States share some common points here, and I think I do agree with the Archbishop.

4. A .pdf document entitled 'Social Isolation in America: Changes in Core Discussion Networks over Two Decades' from the American Sociological Review

iPod Shuffle - 12:35 pm

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Here is what the iPod has given me today:

1. Smashing Pumpkins, Landslide, from 'Rotten Apples'
2. U2, Wild Honey, from 'All That You Can't Leave Behind'
3. The Russian State Symphony Capella Choir - Rachmaninoff, Amen Alleluia, from 'Sacred Treasures III'
4. Aimee Mann, I Can't Get My Head Around It, from 'The Forgotten Arm'
5. Norah Jones, Be Here to Love Me, from 'Feels Like Home'
6. Kate Bush, Don't Push You're Foot On The Heartbreak, 'Lionheart'
7. Berlin, Take My Breath Away, from 'The 80's'
8. Gabrielle, Dreams, from 'Magnolia' soundtrack
9. Joi, India, from 'One and One Is One'
10. Dashboard Confessional, Hey Girl, from 'A Mark, A Mission, A Brand, A Scar'
11. Moby, Lift Me Up from 'Hotel' (Disk 1)


Via:
Fr. Jim Tucker of Dappled Things:

The rules, for bloggers who want to play:

Get your ipod or media-player of choice, select your whole music collection, set the thing to shuffle (i.e., randomized playback), then post the first ten songs that come out. No cheating, no matter how stupid it makes you feel!

Goals and/or Outcomes

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The United Nations Millennium Goals have become a primary focus for The Episcopal Church of late, particularly since the last General Convention. The new Presiding Bishop stresses the goals as a good direction for this Church to move, and I agree. What comes first, however?

What separates the Church from a social-service organization? I think the first "goal" of the Church is well stated in the Catechism as it declares the Mission of this Church:

Q. What is the mission of the Church?
A. The mission of the Church is to restore all people to unity with God and each other in Christ.

For the Church, it seems to me that the Millennium Development Goals (MDG's) are an outcome, not a "goal." As we are reconciled to God and one another and all of creation we are transformed and enabled to love God with all our being, and for the purposes of this post more poignantly to love our neighbors as ourselves.

Out of our new love of God and neighbor, we desire to relieve the suffering of humanity. In that desire, perhaps because of that desire, we can look to the MDG's as a means of fulfilling our devotion to Christ. The MDG's are "outcomes" of what God does within us as we are continually made into the image of Christ.

In my opinion, this is the difference between the Church and a social-service organization. If we remove the first "goal," we miss the point. We get the cart before the horse. We need to be careful not to allow organizations like the United Nations to set the agenda for the Church, although we certainly need to listen to and work with them.

B-day

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Today is my birthday. I turn 45 years old, entering my 46th year of life. I'm off to the Long Island Diocesan Convention - yeeha.

Christian Symbolism #1

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"Christian Symbolism is the use of signs and emblems to reach and present religious truths. Words often fail where symbolism succeeds, while taken together they frequently make spiritual things more fully grasped. This is as true today as when as it was in those times past, when education was not as general and printing was unknown. Like Musical Notation, Christian Symbolism illustrates that for which it stands. And it adds a certain beauty and mysticism to religion, speaking as it does of an unseen world and a supernatural faith. For the proper understanding of Christian Art and Architecture some knowledge of symbolism is absolutely necessary." (The Practice of Religion, by The Rev. Archibald Campbell Knowles, D.D., p. 48)

I could have rewritten all that and put it into my own words, but the author did a far better job than I could, so the quote. What will follow over time are very short examples of Christian symbols. Coming from the very trend dominated part of the Church, namely Amercian-Evangelical/Charismatic/Penectostalism, the discovery of the ancient traditions and symbols of the Church Catholic is amazing to me - a sense of unity through linear time and beyond, experience beyond myself or my little group, and that which is tried through experience over centuries. The mystery of the faith maintained and retained and now being discovered and rediscovered by so many people. If find it fascinating that younger generations and American-Evangelicals are on the forefront of the rediscovery of the traditions, rituals, and symbols of the Christian Faith.

The Rood Screen:

Is "that which separates the Chancel from the Nave symbolizes the Gate of Death, leading from earth to Heaven by the Cross. The Crucifix here stands on the horizontal Rood Beam above the Screen and therefore is sometimes called the Rood."

There have been a large number of Anglican/Episcopalian churches that have removed their Rood Screens over the last few decades. There are many people in my own seminary, The General Theological Seminary, which still has a beautifully carved wooded Rood Screen, who constantly call for the removal of the Rood Screen because to them in their egalitarianism it separates. I think it may say more about them (some of them that is) then it does about a reasoned and well thought-out theological perspective.

The East has likewise always made a distinction between "chronos" and "kairos." The place where these two "opposites" unite in sacred space is called the iconographic plane, the iconastasis which has evolved as the icon screen. It must be noted, however, that (particularly) in Coptic and Levantine Egypt, the screen is often carved and unadorned. The wooden screen itself proclaims its liturgical and theological function. At the time of the Second Vatican Council the church in the West proposed a pragmatic architectural response to liturgical renewal, a response that turned sacred space into community space shifting the focus away from "presence" to "priesthood." Failing to understand the function of the icon in liturgy, and the theology of the built environment of church as an icon of the "other place," we imagined the iconastasis to be a screen designed to separate the clergy from laity. It is not so, not true. The iconostasis was not designed, it evolved to become the gathering point for the laos. Nevertheless the Oriental form of iconostasis is in a way a more authentic statement about the place of sacred space than its Eastern Orthodox counterpart.

Likewise the western church, in rescuing the theology of laos from mediaevalism on the one hand and reformation reaction on the other, was hasty and made little or no proper reference to Eastern and Oriental Orthodox architectural forms. We set about eliminating rood screens, communion rails and chancels in the belief that by doing so we could either (1) make the liturgy more intelligent to the people or (2) that we could restore the church to a more "apostolic" mode of celebration of divine liturgy by having priest and people more visible to each other and therefore better able to communicate notions of "priesthood" in more authentic ways.

The consequence of all of this was the loss of mystery. The word "mystery" does not mean "that which is hidden," but rather, "that which has yet to be revealed." There were, of course, other good theological reasons for abandoning the traditional position for the celebrant of the Eucharist, for constructing nave altars, for doing away with pulpits and for involving the laity in innovative liturgical ministries; but we failed to take into account the "other half" of Christendom which for very good theological reasons developed the iconastasis. The East has not demolished pulpits and the East has continued to involve the laity in their own ministries within the sacred space called sanctuary. In the Orient there has always been a liturgical function for lay people.


Eastern Christian Worlds, Anglican Theological Review, Fall 1997 by Bayton, John

The City #6

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This morning as I was sitting in my chair for morning devotions and looking out the window at a large bell tower/clock tower/steeple of the Roman Catholic church down the street, I was struck by the sight of the cross atop the steeple as it shown brilliantly of fiery gold. The clouds were moving quickly across the Brooklyn sky and the reds and pinks of the morning sunrise were fading. At one moment in time, the clouds must have parted just the right way to allow a ray of sunlight to fall luminously upon the cross, but not the rest of the steeple. It was a wonderful sight for a moment or two.

The Mystical Christ

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Here is an interesting essay from Fr. John-Julian Swanson, founder of the Order of Julian of Norwich, on the mystical nature of Christ. This comes via Fr. Jakes Stops the World.

How can we say this and not be Universalists (with a presupposition that Universalism is incorrect, rightly or wrongly)? How do we consider what Fr. John-Julian has written juxtaposed with John 14:5-7:

Thomas said to him, "Lord, we don't know where you are going, so how can we know the way?" Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him."

Money quote, perhaps: "That same Jesus Christ died not for some, but for all, and he has brought the potential for the fullness of salvation to every human soul..."

Have Republicans heard?

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Here are a couple paragraphs from a piece written by U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn, M.D., R-Okla., entitled 'We Need to Govern from Conscience'. I wonder how many Republicans will receive their loss of congressional power and whether there might well be a return to Conservative principles. This administration and the exercise of power by the past couple Republican congresses have shown that, frankly, they are not "conservatives." They exercised power under a strange philosophy. Will this be a turning back to conservativism? We shall see.

This election does not show that voters have abandoned their belief in limited government; it shows that the Republican Party has abandoned them. In fact, these results represent the total failure of big government Republicanism.

The Republican Party now has an opportunity to rediscover its identity as a party for limited government, free enterprise and individual responsibility. Most Americans still believe in these ideals, which reflect not merely the spirit of 1994 or the Reagan Revolution, but the vision of our founders. If Republicans present real ideas and solutions based on these principles, we will do well in the future.

What Republicans cannot continue to do, however, is more of the same. Our short-term, politically-expedient, bread and circus governing philosophy has failed. Iraq is an important issue in the minds of voters, but it is not the only issue. Our majority was severely weakened by a long series of decisions that pre-date the public's current concern about Iraq.

Republicans oversaw a seven-fold increase in pork projects since 1998. Republicans increased domestic spending by nearly 50 percent since 2001, increased the national debt to $9 trillion, passed a reckless Medicare expansion bill and neglected our oversight responsibilities. While some of these decisions may have helped secure specific seats in the short-term, the totality of our excess did not secure our majority, but destroy it.

Read his entire essay, here. I don't necessarily agree with everything, but I think he is at least on the right track.

"Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely."
Lord Acton, Letter to Bishop Mandell Creighton, 1887

This is what happened to the Religious Right. The allure of power became too strong and too corrupting. The absolute confidence that they were acting according to God’s will and that they completely understood the mind of God corrupted their thinking and profoundly harmed their faith – the life lived within the Way of God.

There is honor is public service - public service - for people of faith of all stripes who ascend to positions of political and civil leadership, but I believe there is no honor in striving for those positions in order to impose a particular theological bent. There is little chance of a redemptive outcome when Christians become seduced by power.

So, we are sobered by a slap, hopefully. Will pride and arrogance continue to have their way? "For it is time for judgment to begin with the family of God..." 1 Peter 4:17. This time, the judgment comes to the politicized Religious Right.

The Truth

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Gordan MacDonald of The Leadership Journal wrote a commentary entitled The Haggard Truth on Ted Haggard and Evangelicalism in the U.S. today. I think it is worth a read, but it is a bit longer than most blog articles. While I may not agree with every point, he does hit-the-nail-on-the-head particularly concerning Evangelicalism, politics, and the way the general public both within and outside the U.S. view this movement.

What do you think?

So many people will view Haggard's sin to be homosexuality. That is not the sin. The sins are breaking his vows to his wife - adultery, promiscuity, lying, and hypocrisy. He is submitting to Dobson from Focus-on-the-Family and others for his rehabilitation. Regrettably, they will simply encourage and demand that he bury and deny his orientation even more so and in the end this will not help him. They will demand that he go through “reparative therapy,” all along saying that if only he has enough faith and if only he denies reality that God will heal him and make him into someone who can love his wife completely and fully in that certain way – a heterosexual. If this man of deep faith at 50 has not be already “healed” of these “temptations and tendencies,” do they really think that he suddenly will, now? He and his family will need to decide what their future will be, but denying reality will not help them, or him.

Another accusation

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I honestly hope that the accusation against Ted Haggard, who resigned today from the presidency of the National Association of Evangelicals and as lead pastor of his church in Colorado Springs, Colorado. A gay escort claims that he has had a three year "business relationship" with Haggard. Haggard has claimed that he has not had sex with any man and has been faithful to his wife.

If the accusation is true, it is tragic. It presents once again the problems with the claims and methods of the anti-gay Religious Right, which advocates for the denial of the reality of an honest homosexual orientation. I know too many people who have accepted the tenets of Exodus, reparative therapy, and the idea that God will heal them of their homosexual temptations and who have married someone of the opposite-sex as they step out in faith and claim their healing.

I hope and prayer is that, whether Haggard is gay or straight is that the good Lord's will can be accomplished through the tragedy, the heartache, and all the problems this will cause. Does he deserve to be outed if he is truly gay, considering he is a vocal and influential opponent of gay relationships, civil-unions, or marriage? I don't know. I think hypocrisy should be "outed" where ever it exists - first in me! I just wish that no one who is gay will get married to someone of the opposite sex. It never ends well. At least that is my experience.

Re-post, just 'cause

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Timaeus by: Plato

"We must, then, in my opinion, first of all make the following distinction: What is that which always is and is untouched by becoming? -- and what is always in a state of coming-to-be but never is? Now that which intelligence grasps by way of a rational account is what always is self-identically; while that which is the object of belief by way of non-reasoning sense-perception is that which is coming into being and perishing but never in the proper sense is. Everything, though, that is coming into being must necessarily come into being by the agency of some cause; for it is absolutely impossible that anything should be in a state of coming-to-be apart form some cause."

Welcome to November, 2006

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Here we are, November 1, 2006. Today, we move forward in our lives, in our hopes, and in our loves. Today, we see our weakness and realize our need. Today, we better understand our place in the world and how we may contribute to the elevation of humanity upward to something better. Today, we see the suffering of humanity and are startled by our own complacency. Today, we are called to have our being in the midst of the One who brings all things into reconciliation with Him, with one another, and with all of Creation. Today, we are presented with a way forward where we can realize our true selves, our true potential, and experience contentment in whatever condition of life we may find ourselves - peace that surpasses all understanding, joy beyond emotion, freedom born of the security of knowing that we are no longer bound by the systems of this world - whether realized just yet or not? Things hoped for yet not seen.

Will we accept this? Will we allow the Giver of Life and Peace to transform our hearts and minds so that we are able to honestly, truly, sincerely, and habitually love God with our whole being and love our neighbor as ourselves? Will we humble ourselves so that we perceive of a new way that enables the hungry to be fed, the lame to be healed, humanity to live in peace; and because we have been fundamentally changed that there exudes from us a light and difference that draws the fears and anger and frustration of humanity into ourselves in order to relieve and to free and to give hope? Like Jesus did.

Will we?

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

October 2006 is the previous archive.

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