December 2006 Archives


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I think we in this country have lost our understanding of, desire for, and adherence to vows!

One's word, a handshake, a commitment used to be all that was required to conduct personal and business affairs. Now, even "iron clad" contracts are litigated unto death because people and corporations refuse to honor their commitments - their contractual obligations.

Contractual obligations are a form of vow, but vows are more somethin', somethin'. What?

And what about marriages? Well, we know we suck at keeping our vows to our beloved! There is indeed a crisis in the institution of marriage, but it isn't because of the gays. A very big reason is our cultural proclivity to understand and make vows that might require a denial of self. Ah, we cannot deny self in whatever whim we decide to pursue and regardless of how it effects someone else. Oh, we may enter into a vow or even a contractual pre-nup, but we have every intention of breaking them if we don't like the outcome.

I was looking through various websites for other than Episcopalian American "Anglicans" and just wonder - wonder in amazement. The Charismatic Episcopal Church lost 30% of its priests and parishes not too long ago. I really don't know why, but some sort of internal fight. And people say The Episcopal Church is in self-destruct mode because parishioners of 200 or so parishes out of 7,000+ have left or are contemplating leaving this Church. The Charismatic Episcopal Church claims to be one on of the fastest growing denominations in the world, but even with this group of "God fearing, Bible believing, apostolic succession totin', Spirit-filled Christians," can't keep from splintering again and again. What about the vows the clergy take to obey their bishops?

What about these vows? I took a vow to obey my bishop, period. There were no qualifiers in the vow - "I vow to obey my Bishop only if s/he agrees with my already determined theological or liturgical perspectives...” Bishops vow to guard the faith. Priests are abandoning their vows; bishops are abdicating their responsibilities and refusing to carry on their vows.

If it comes to a point where I cannot function under my bishop, then I will resign. Even then, I have to admit that I am the one breaking the vow! We have a problem, and I don't see any relief in the coming years.

Oh, and I think the Church of Rome moved wholesale from the vow of guarding the apostolic faith by instituting the innovation of Papal Infallibility. That is one reason why I became an Anglican and not a Roman Catholic. But, that's just me.

Anyway... vows, vows, vows. Soon, we will not be able to trust anyone. What a wonderful world that will be - - - for lawyers.

James 5:12 (New International Version)

"Above all, my brothers and sisters, do not swear—not by heaven or by earth or by anything else. Let your "Yes" be yes, and your "No," no, or you will be condemned."

Home for Christmas

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It is nice to be home for Christmas. I went to my parent's church for their Christmas Eve service. It might be similar to the traditional Anglican service of Lessons and Carols, except that they are probably clueless about what that service is.

I've been going most Christmas Eve's for the last, I don't know, 15 years. Since becoming an Anglican, this service has become less and less meaningful, primarily because it is really just Christmas entertainment. That probably isn't far, in fact I know it isn't because it is quite meaningful to many, but it isn't for me. My parents attend a Christian & Missionary Alliance church - a squarely American-Evangelical Church born out of the Wesleyan Holiness Movement through A. B. Simpson. My former tradition, Pentecostalism (of the Southern California sort), also began within the Holiness Movement. Now, I suppose, some would say I'm just a "snooty Episcopalian." (Of course, that would mean I have money - HA!)

Anyway, I've changed. I met over lunch with a very long and close friend of mine near Cleveland before making my way to my parents. She and I both met during my graduate studies at Kent State and have been close ever since. We both commented on how much we have changed over the last 16 or so years, particularly concerning the way we engage with our faith, as if we can separate our "faith" from our "selves." I have been changed by this tradition that I have given myself to - that I believe God has called me into.

The problems the Episcopal Church is having these days are of its own making, to a great degree. I can't say that I am opposed to some of the changes, but I do see the direction the Church has been heading and it troubles me. I have become more aware of the notion of "catholicity," particular due to my education at The General Theological Seminary in New York City, and at my field placement and current parish of St. Paul's Carroll St., an Anglo-Catholic parish (probably somewhere between a Nashotah House and an Affirming Catholicism form of Anglo-Catholicism). I have changed, and it makes life difficult.

I think about this day when God became man, the Incarnation, and think about how all of humanity changed. The Creation changed. All things changed. This change in all things was and is a glorious thing, but the reasons for its happening are tragic. As a result, this change has been fraught with difficulty and anguish. Humanity has honored this fundamental change in the way we understand ourselves and God in not so good ways. As a matter of fact, the Church universal has been pretty bad in its attempts to uphold the high standards and calling resulting from this most significant event. The Mystical Body of Christ continues, but the Church, which is supposed to be the physical manifestation of the Mystical Body, has screwed-things-up more than it has not. Yet, it is this Church universal that God chooses to work through in all its fallible and imperfect ways. All things changed. All things continue to change. Are we able to see the changes encouraged by God and those encouraged by some other thing? Are we able to correctly or properly discern change?

My hope and prayer as I think about his most significant change and day is that in all my changing I will live into the real life understanding of what life in Christ Jesus is supposed to be. My hope and prayer is that my life will be a reflection of that most significant change, and that somehow, in some way, I can be an example in some simple way - an encouragement to others and a vehicle through which God can work to continue the work began so long ago - to reconcile us all to God, to one another, and to all of Creation.

So, whether I get anything out of a Christmas Eve service at my parent's church is really moot. The meaningful thing is whether this event, the significance of this day, has changed me for the better, for the good, for the reasons God has ordained for my life.

It is nice to be home for Christmas. I wish the local Episcopal Church had not been closed. A Christmas mass would be nice, but that is another story.

Merry Christmas!

There is a new study released yesterday that suggests that most all people have sex before they are married. Is this really new news? No, but it does suggest that abstinence programs have not had their desired effect.

So, I've commented a couple times on Titusonenine over this report. A lot of people want to suggest that the report is meaningless because it matters not what the "world" does, but what Christians are called to do and what we are to call society to do. Yes, but the study report does suggest that our methods have failed. Several people want to once again bring in the evil of homosexuality, which must always be brought into any discussion of sex and The Episcopal Church, it seems. After all, the satanically inspired homosexuals are the reason for the present problems within the Church (and really society all together - particular in their attempts to destroy heterosexual marriage!). Right!?

I don’t think it is so much a forcing to focus on the homosexual issue, but it is easier to focus on “them” than to deal with “our” own failings. These kinds of statistics simply point out our hypocrisy and selective adherence to Scriptural norms. We all fail, and I think that should generate within us a sense of humility. It doesn’t seem to have that effect, however. Who wants to be humble when it feels so much better when we can extol our own vision of who we imagine ourselves to be and condemn everyone else who we like to think does not live up to our own self-selected, but failed, standards.

We should have very high standards, but realize and acknowledge our own failings first. This will save us the embarrassment of trying to explain our hypocrisy to a jaundiced and unbelieving world.

We could pass laws in the U.S. that mirror those up for consideration in Nigeria, which the good Archbishop publicly advocates for, but even if we pass such laws the ability to negate heterosexual sexual adventures and the bringing about of the salvation of marriage will not be advanced.

The Pharisees had lots and lots of laws they tried to obey and tried to force all of the Hebrews to obey to prove their devotion to God, and it didn’t work for them or for the people. It will not work for us, either.

Jesus made clear a change must first happen within the heart of the individual - only in that change will an honest change occur in the behavior of our citizens - homosexual and heterosexual. We focus far too much time on legalisms and less time on aiding the change of human hearts.

These statistics make clear that laws and even social pressure have not worked in this instance. Regardless of what we hope(d) will (would) happen, we are shown that our approaches to encouraging and realizing marital fidelity and sexual abstinence have simply not worked. So now what? Our attempts at scapegoating will not help.

Church cartoon

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From The Cartoon Blog. These cartoons are great, and oh so pertinent!

cartoon from

Cartoon by Dave Walker. Find more cartoons you can freely re-use on your blog at We Blog Cartoons.

cartoon from

Cartoon by Dave Walker. Find more cartoons you can freely re-use on your blog at We Blog Cartoons.

Anthropologist Foresees a Christian Renaissance

"Ideologies Are Virtually Deceased," Says René Girard

In the book, the French professor states that "religion conquers philosophy and surpasses it. Philosophies in fact are almost dead. Ideologies are virtually deceased; political theories are almost altogether spent. Confidence in the fact that science can replace religion has already been surmounted. There is in the world a new need for religion."

In regard to moral relativism, defended by Vattimo, René Girard writes: "I cannot be a relativist" because "I think the relativism of our time is the product of the failure of modern anthropology, of the attempt to resolve problems linked to the diversity of human cultures.

"Anthropology has failed because it has not succeeded in explaining the different human cultures as a unitary phenomenon, and that is why we are bogged down in relativism.

"In my opinion, Christianity proposes a solution to these problems precisely because it demonstrates that the obstacles, the limits that individuals put on one another serve to avoid a certain type of conflicts."

The French academic continues: "If it was really understood that Jesus is the universal victim who came precisely to surmount these conflicts, the problem would be solved."

According to the anthropologist, "Christianity is a revelation of love" but also "a revelation of truth" because "in Christianity, truth and love coincide and are one and the same."

The "concept of love," which in Christianity is "the rehabilitation of the unjustly accused victim, is truth itself; it is the anthropological truth and the Christian truth," explains Girard.

I think this is an interesting example of how consideration of the great and divisive issues of our day and their resolution will occur over time. Regrettably, we are at the point where we expect solutions and results and action NOW, not even tomorrow, but NOW. We can see this dynamic at play in the Anglican Communion right now, if we want to consider Christianity as the example, as Girard in fact does.

Solutions to truly significant human problems will not be realized in the immediate, in the urgent. In time flaws and weaknesses will be made plain and strengths will be clear.

As a Christian, I see our human endeavor outside of the immediate. My American 21st Century self wants to be subsumed by the tyranny of the urgent, but I need to see the human endeavor as something that has been, is, and will come - an eternal perspective of life ever after. The resolutions of the significant issues of our time will be resolved beyond my lifetime, but working for solutions and Truth is an everyday affair.

If I honestly want to know Truth, I have to be willing to admit in humility that everything I’ve believed up to this point could be wrong. If I don't, then what I am really after is something that supports my already determined opinions, or at least in the general direction my thinking is going. Over arching Truth comes over time. Our Lord said that there is more truth to be made plain.

If we all can step back for a moment and consider that we could very well be wrong, all of us would be so much further ahead as we try to live with one another, respect one another in our differences, and we might truly have an idea of diversity without relinquishing the quest for Truth and the worth of our own systems and positions - if, in fact, time proves that these systems and positions bear up. The Anglican expression of Christianity has such a tradition, but this tradition is under a great strain right now. I don't know whether we will survive intact, frankly due to people who want solutions and resolutions NOW. The demand for NOW comes from both the left and the right.

The homosexual issue that seems to be the flash-point of so much angst and consternation among American society and Christians worldwide today will be resolved not right NOW, but over time. Change is hard and too many resist it (of course, not all change is good and change for change sake is rarely all that great!).

I don't know, Modernism is passing by and Post-Modernism seems to have the day. The "next big thing" is in play somewhere. As for me and my house (if I had one), I will look to the beginning of Wisdom and Truth as my source. I believe that to be the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and of Sarah, Ruth, and Mary. (That does mean that I think others do not understand many aspects of the Truth, or in fact that others very often example that Truth more clearly and faithfully than those who claim the name).

"All truth passes through 3 stages: First, it is ridiculed; Second, it is violently opposed; Third, it is accepted as self-evident."
- Arthur Schopenhauer


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Today is Sunday, the Third Sunday of Advent, Rose Sunday, the Sunday of reprieve from the previous two weeks of self-examination and fasting as we wait, wait, wait for the coming of the Holy One in the Feast of the Incarnation, otherwise known as Christmas. For Anglicans, the Incarnation of God who became like us and one of us for our benefit is perhaps the most important day of human history. But, we don't act like it most of the time.

Okay, so, that is supposed to be what this Sunday is, but I feel such a disconnect between what supposedly is happening and what is really happening.

Frankly, there is huge disconnect between what the Christian faith claims to be and what Christians actually are in this country. I don't blame non-Christians for being so hesitant or outright hostile towards the Church. We have allowed the expectations of this American culture to warp our understanding of what the lived Life in Christ is all about. We vaguely see what it could be, but rarely are we willing to give up what is necessary to realize that blessed life. So, we live but a shadow of the true life God has made available to us.

What does the Epistle for today say about worry and peace? We do not have to be overwhelmed with worry, but as we present our requests to God with thanksgiving, the peace of God that transcends all understanding will guard our hearts and minds. What is true religion? According to James, it is that we take care of the orphan and widow in their distress and we keep ourselves from being polluted by the world. How many of us practice that kind of religion? What does all this mean to us?

But, those are questions and considerations that require humidly and quiet contemplation - self-examination - and during this Christmas Season, who has time for any of that? No, we have the real holiday spirit - spend, spend, spend on more things that will ultimately prove to be worthless. We trade peace for stress, joy for anxiety, things for time spent in relationship with others, and so on.

All is not bad, of course. Giving in a spirit of joy is wonderful, and many of us are right there. But, Advent is not that. It is just that we Christians have sold our birthright for a bowl of red potage called consumerism, materialism, nationalism, and sectarianism.

This would truly be a Rose Sunday, a reprieve and relief from the hard work and revelation of self-examination and self-denial, if in fact we were doing any of it in the first place. But, most of us aren't and we are disconnected from our Tradition and that which makes us who we are supposed to be. To bad for us! To bad for the world.

What then?

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It isn't good when one pretends to care about and be interested in something, tries to convince himself that he really does and is, but in those moments of utter truthfulness that must be confronted from time-to-time, realizes that he really could care less.

What then?

Soy is why you're gay!

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Some things just don't need comment. Here is an article on a Religious Right website describing the new theory of why some males are homosexual - soy is "feminizing," so says Jim Rutz on WorldNetDaily.

An excerpt:

"Soy is feminizing, and commonly leads to a decrease in the size of the penis, sexual confusion and homosexuality. That's why most of the medical (not socio-spiritual) blame for today's rise in homosexuality must fall upon the rise in soy formula and other soy products. (Most babies are bottle-fed during some part of their infancy, and one-fourth of them are getting soy milk!) Homosexuals often argue that their homosexuality is inborn because "I can't remember a time when I wasn't homosexual." No, homosexuality is always deviant. But now many of them can truthfully say that they can't remember a time when excess estrogen wasn't influencing them."

The funny thing is, I remember a report coming out of one of the Religious Right anti-gay groups (Focus-on-the-Family, perhaps???) a few years ago. They were reporting that "research" demonstrated that gay men have above-average penis size, and that the result was embarrassment and fear over the "deformity." This pushed them to avoid women and heterosexual relationships and to be with "like" people. Okay, well, I suppose their "research" and the conclusions drawn could be debated. Now, we see the new most current "research" showing small penile size and homosexuality result from the same source - soy products. Who is right, hum? I suspect neither.

Read all about it here.

I suggest all of us now boycott all soy products until God changes the formula so that it stops making heterosexual guys gay!

Via: Dappled Things

Howie Day & Remy Zero (RIP)

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The City #7

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I was walking to the subway the other day after work. There were a lot of people on the street and Lord and Taylor just completed their Christmas decorating, so lots of tourists were out and about in the area. Of course, I work only a few blocks from the Empire State Building, which creates its own world of tourists along the block on which it sits.

Anyway, as I was passing DataVision I sensed this moving object on my left, just behind me. At first I thought it was a little kid on a scooter or skateboard rolling along with his parents. The object, or kid, just kind of stayed there as I walked along. Finally, I slowed down and let them pass.

Well, it wasn't a kid I noticed rolling by. I though, at first, why is that grown man sitting on his skateboard? Then, I noticed that he wasn't "sitting." He had no legs.

This young, good looking, well dressed in a sweater and scarf guy rolled by me on his skateboard with camera in hand. I was amazed. He used his white leather clad hands to push himself along, agilely weaving through the crowd. I don't really know how to describe him. His torso, covered in what looked like a woolen "sock" covering his lower body that sat upon the skateboard. I don't know where his torso actually ended - whether he had lower parts or whether he may not have been born with legs at all. This may sound insensitive, but he looked like a wooden stump plopped down on his skateboard.

I followed him the block or so to the subway. I was amazed at what I perceived to be his sense of comfort and ease as he pushed himself along. I don't know whether he was a tourist or a native. His shoulders were broad, probably because, I suspect, he used them as his sole means of transport and support. Truly, this guy was not "handicapped," despite missing his whole lower body.

I watched other people as they passed him by. Some heads turned, some never noticed him, and others simply glanced. I was particularly interested in how those standing up against the buildings, not walking, responded to him. Again, most just looked and watched as he passed by.

This brings to mind all the other young people who are around the city begging for money or food or some other thing. Discounting those street people who truly have mental and emotional disorders (there are a lot of them) and those why may truly find themselves in a bad sort for a time, I still see a lot of younger folks sitting out on the sidewalks begging. This one couple sat for almost an entire year in one spot upon a large pile of blankets and sleeping bags with their dog by their side. They begged, had signs requesting help, and down-and-out stories. They sat there for almost a year reading books. They sat on the same corner as the building around them was torn down and construction on a new one began. I suspect they were finally forced to move.

I have a hard time with some of these people. I give money to street people, but I've come to the point where I give to those who are obviously mentally problemed. Many younger people I see, and it is only my initial perception and gut instinct, could easily work. They could find work in the City, but I suspect the kind of work they would initially find would not be to their liking. So what!

And then, I see this guy on his skateboard. What am I to think of those able-bodied people, now? "Get a job." I know that there are a myriad of reasons why people do what they do, but I can't bring myself to feel sorry for those street folk begging for money when I see this guy. He, truly, is one who must overcome tremendous obstacles in his attempt to live a normal life. I noticed him holding back as the light changed waiting until it seemed that all the cars that were turning had done so. It would be frightening to simply cross the street. Cabbies and truck drives, really anyone, could easily miss him as he crossed the street. Yet, he continues, he travels, he overcomes his problems and lives. He isn't begging for money. I doubt he is feeling sorry for himself.

I don't know. I've worked multiple jobs at one time trying to support myself in years past. I know I could do it again. While I may find myself at some point in the future being brought low and having to beg for money, I just don't think I could be a "beggar," particularly when I see people like this young guy making his way through the streets of New York City.

iPod Shuffle - 10:30am

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One might think that all I have on my iPod today is Natalie Imbruglia, Sarah McLauchlin, or Sufjan Stevens, but it is not the case. It seems that Shuffle has a tendency to hit the same songs (or artists at least) often. Anyway, here is the list...

1. Natalie Imbruglia, Intuition, from 'Left Of The Middle'
2. Sarah McLachlan, Fear, from 'Fumbling Toward Exstacy'
3. Sufjan Stevens, The Transfiguration, from 'Seven Swans'
4. Kat Williams, Stand By Me, from 'Compilation'
5. Sarah McLachlan, Drawn To The Rhythm, from 'Solace'
6. Noral Jones, Those Sweat Words, from 'Feels Like Home'
7. Sarah McLachlan, Last Dance, from 'Surfacing'
8. The USSR Ministry of Culture Choir - Peter Tchaikovsky, Amen, And With Thy Spirit, from 'Sacred Treasures I'
9. U2, Elevation, from 'All That You Can't Leave Behind'
10. Natalie Imbruglia, Butterflies, from 'While Lillies Island'

and then, just to show that there is some more stuff to listen to

11. Sufjan Stevens, The Upper Peninsula, from 'Greetings From Michigan'
12. Aimee Mann, Humpty Dumpty, from 'Lost In Space'
13. Sugar, Helpless, from 'Copper Blue'
14. Moby, Everything Is Wrong, from 'Into The Blue'

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!

Idea originally from Fr. Jim Tucker of Dappled Things

Snow Patrol

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I was listening to Condoleezza Rice this morning. She was commenting on, actually criticizing, some of the conclusions and suggestions of the Baker-Hamilton Report.
She commented specifically on Baker's suggestion that we talk to our enemies - like Iran and Syria.

Baker and Hamilton have compared the current situation with the former policy of talking to are enemies, like our former arch-enemy the Soviet Union. Rice believes the comparison is invalid, for various reasons. One thing she suggested about former policies of engagement with the Soviet Union was that our goal concerning the Soviets was centered on changing their behavior. Likewise, she suggests that the refusal to talk to countries like Iran or Syria is intended to illicit the same result - a change in their behavior.

I was struck by her repeated use of the word "behavior." The goal of the present administration is to force these countries to change their behavior. The next thought that came to mind was the intent of the Religious Right to change the behavior of American citizens. Their intent is to change "homosexual behavior" into "heterosexual behavior" or at least no sexual behavior, to change "pro-environment behavior" to "pro-business behavior", to change abortion behavior, fornication behavior, and adultery behavior - lots of other kinds of behaviors, too.

All laws are for the purpose of changing behavior for the well ordering of society. All law is morally determined in some way or another. However, this present administration, supported and encouraged by the Religious Right, is intent on changing (or forcing the change of) the behavior of our citizenry. They are intent on changing the behavior of whole other countries.

The question that doesn't seem to come up a lot, or at least in public, is WHY people or countries behave in certain ways. To understand why, it seems, would go a long in better understanding how to respond and react. To understand necessitates talking and LISTENING to the other person or country. There are reasons why people and countries behave in certain ways. Some of those reasons of legitimate and some aren't. In the development of foreign policy, or even domestic laws that emphasize one moral position over another, to talk to the "enemy" will only benefit the cause a peaceful existence. I think Baker and Hamilton are right. We need to talk to even our enemies.

The problem is that those with their hands on the levers of power do not believe talk and listening are appropriate with some. There is no reason to talk to domestic or foreign "enemies." They already know how people and nations aught to behave, so there is no point in listening to why or how or to think that they might misunderstand or be wrong. How about changing our behavior - why do we not ask why, talk and listen? It seems a wiser course of action and behavior than to bomb and invade and demean others. In the long run, this may be our best course of action against international terrorism!

New Mac

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Well, I bit the bullet over lunch and bought a new MacBook - in priestly black! I'm in love!



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Ambrosian Rite traditional chant. It is different from Gregorian or Anglican chant.

Via: Dappled Things.

Some examples of Anglicans chanting and singing in America:

The Lord is my shepherd: Hylton-Stewart (Calvary Episcopal Church)

This is the day which the Lord hath made: Anonymous [16th Century English polyphony] (Calvary Episcopal Church)

Christus factus est: Bruckner (Calvary Episcopal Church)

Ave Maria: Parsons (Church of the Redeemer Chamber Choir)

O Magnum Mysterium: Victoria (Church of the Redeemer Chamber Choir)


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Ever since college, I have been enamored by the political and social philosophy of Libertarianism. I might even say that I tend to be a Libertarian, but in a qualified way.

The Libertarian Party, the largest third-party and only other national party besides the Democrats and Republicans, is an interesting mix of people. During the 1980 presidential election, the Libertarian Party decided to field a national campaign on par with the Republican and Democratic parties. They had a large national convention and poured a lot of money into national advertising. Ed Clarke, their presidential candidate, was a telegenic and competent speaker. The party steered clear of the more controversial issues that fringe Libertarian Party members champion - like the legalization of drugs - and really did mount a solid national campaign. If my memory is correct, the party garnered 5% of the national vote. It was quite a good showing for a third party, particularly during an election year when John Anderson conducted a very successful independent presidential bid. The party hasn’t done nearly as well since, although they still field a large number of candidates and do win some local elections (I think they have one member in the Congress).

Most people who know anything about Libertarianism consider them to be "Conservatives," but frankly the political philosophy is something in-and-of itself - different and distinct from conservative and liberal philosophical traditions. Most philosophical-Libertarians situate themselves within the Republican Party primarily because of general agreement on governance issues - they are opposed to government intrusion into citizen's lives, they favor small government, federalism, free-enterprise, and most fundamentally individual liberty. These points have been traditionally shared by Republican conservatives, although the Republican Party right now is controlled by a cadre of people who I don't think are truly "conservative." I don't know what they are, but some have termed them "neo-con's." In today's political and social climate, Barry Goldwater might well have described himself as a Libertarian rather than a Conservative.

The thing that generally separates most Libertarians from run-of-the-mill Republicans is a more live-and-let-live mentality when it comes to social or moral issues. This belief gets them into trouble with current-day Culture-War Republicans who have replaced economic issues with morality issues as the party's primary focus (aside from the "War on Terror"). A lot of philosophical-Libertarians who do not belong to the Libertarian Party (because of the traditional problems with all third-parties - lots of kooks as members) have become more and more frustrated with Republican Party leaders and the neo-con rank-n-file who are determined to impose a very narrow and sectarian view of morality upon the rest of the citizenry.

I was listening to NPR the other day and a fellow from the CATO Institute (a Libertarian thank-tank) wrote a piece in the current issue of The New Republic musing over that fact that philosophical-Libertarians are beginning to look to the Democratic Party as a viable alternative to the Republican Party, which they view as having rejected traditional conservative ideals of limited government, economic freedom, and personal liberty - thus, the "Liberal-tarian" moniker.

When it comes to social and moral issues, I think Libertarians will find themselves more comfortable in the more moderate Democratic Party (strongly liberal-minded Democrats have become the minority in the party). The problem many Libertarians will have with many Democrats will be over personal responsibility and liberty issues. Libertarians are far more likely to take a strong stand on person responsibility over life decisions and livelihood then some more "democratic-socialist" minded Democrats. Really, if the Republican Party still stood of solidly Conservative principals, Libertarians would still be right there in the midst of the party.

It will be interesting to see where Libertarians end up. It all depends, I think, on whether traditional conservatives will take back the Republican Party from the Religious Right and Neo-Conservatives. It also depends on whether more leftist-minded Democrats begin to exert more influence once again on the Democratic Party. The country is far more conservative than it was back in the '60's and '70's. While most Republicans askew Libertarianism, it is still a constituency with enough Republican members to make or break some elections. Perhaps, perhaps the Libertarian Party could take advantage of all this and become a true third-party alternative. I think we need a strong alternative, but that party has a long way to go to be an honest option for most Americans.

An essay by theologian Miroslav Volf entitled, The Church's Great Malfunctions. Read it!

"We should be our own fiercest critics, doing so out of the deep beauty and goodness of our faith."

Nice and ethical

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This morning, I read through Eugene Peterson’s introduction to his rendering of the Bible in The Message, which has become very popular particularly among Evangelicals.

He studied and became a seminary professor of Greek and Hebrew and intended to remain a scholar. Something happened along the way and his vocation turned to the pastorate. He is a Presbyterian.

Upon taking his first church, he discovered that most people where not at all interested in Scripture, or if they once were they were bored by it. This seems odd to me, after all Presbyterians are perceived to be more "of the mind" and studious. He said that he found himself being a translator between two world languages - that of the Bible and that of the world. He was surprised be this realization, since he figured the worlds were the same.

This brought up thoughts in my mind about how so many Christians function in this world. Even among the Evangelicals and Fundamentalists, so few really have a strong grasp of Scripture. Most, frankly, either aren't interested or will not take the time to read and study the Bible. This skews their perception and experience of the Christian life.

A strong statement: It is not possible to live within the Way of God without having an understanding of Scripture. It is through Scripture that we peer into God's intent for the human life, a way of living that is best suited for us. It also has the power to transform our carnal minds into minds set on Christ and a way of life that is eternal. It forms us, changes us, and guides us. It is part of the equation that takes us and over time makes us into the image of Christ. As good Anglicans, Scripture is understood through Tradition and Reason. Just want to make that point!

Too many people, I think, perceive the Christian life as being issues of niceness and ethics. Yes, being nice and ethical are very good things, but anyone can be nice and have well formed ethical behavior. Being nice and ethical are good results of a Christian life, but they are not the definitions of what life in Christ is all about. Besides, most non-Christians or unchurched people have the perception that the Church and Christians are not frankly very nice or ethical! We focus too much on those things that may be expedient or comforting - self-justification and guilt soothing - but we do not allow for the transformed life.

We are famished as Christians if we attempt to live life in Christ unaware of Scripture, God's Word to us. We are famished, even as we gorge on all manner of things: entertainment for distraction, self-actualization for "completeness," identity-politics, ethnic diversity that confuses us into believing that we understand the Middle-East because we eat at Zaytoon's, and so on.

The Sacraments are of primary importance, as is fellowship, but they alone do not complete the equation. We remove from the equation the very instrument God has supplied to us to reveal His will. We exclude the written source - our primary source document. We need to study the Word of God to understand what it means to be a Christian, to see the reality of the Kingdom of God, and to know how to move within that swirling milieu called the Way.

One of the big responsibilities of priests, pastors, and teachers is not just to be translators, but to teach the people in our charge how to translate for themselves to the point where translation is no longer necessary - they are fluent in the language of the Kingdom of God. Then, they are able to fulfill a primary role of the laity - to be translators to those living in this chaotic and messed up world.

Are we fluent, yet?

Miroslav Volf
, theologian, said something along the lines that we need "to think of faith neither as simply a system of propositions to be believed, nor as merely a set of energizing and healing techniques to be practiced, but as an integral way of life."

Revolution Church

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I've been following, kind of, the change and progress of "Revolution Church" that used to be based in Atlanta, GA. It was started and pastored by Jay Bakker. (Whenever you see two "kk's" in the word name, Bakker, one may wonder - Jim and Tammy? Yes, the son of those Bakker's). I've found his life and ministry very compelling!

I just discovered today that Jay has moved the church to the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn - the nearly new hipster neighborhood in Brooklyn, on the East River, by the Williamsburg Bridge. Vito and Monique Aiuto (who used to live in my apartment and favorites of Fr. Cullen) are pioneering a new Presbyterian Church in Williamsburg - Resurrection Williamsburg. It is only a hop-skip-and-jump from our neighborhood of Carroll Gardens.

Anyway, Jay's church - Revolution NYC - is up and running. I also discovered that he is the focus of a new "reality" documentary show on the Sundance Channel called, "One Punk Under God". Go to the site and watch a couple clips. The whole show is available on iTunes.

The funny thing is, this is really me in many ways. This is kind of the sort of perspective I honestly do have - generally. Being a data analyst is about killing me - I'm not a numbers guy. The creative aspect in what Church is, what the Gospel says, the way of presenting it all to unchurched people, to new generations, to those folks who seek. That's what I want to be doing. Now, couple this way of things to High Church Anglicanism and I'll be in heaven!!!

I've got to give the guy a call and try to get together with him.

Oh, and there is an article about him I found today in this week's Advocate. Is this the face of the future of Evangelicalism, or something completely different? More Emergent, perhaps?

It's kind of funny to think of how people see me, if I can be a good judge of that. I suspect most people these days see me as a fairly convention guy, a bit traditional. If those who know me now knew be back when I was working in campus ministry they may well have a very different perspective. I have always been a bit rebellious - I've been labelled rebellious by former pastors I've worked with. It really is in may nature to not accept anything at face value, to always try to see a third way, to try to understand the perspective of my opponents, and not fall into what is commonly expected of me. The world is too varied and interesting to fall into the trap of conventionality. I am in my own way quite rebellious.

That is why I find myself in a more-progressive Anglo-Catholic Episcopalian church. I am bucking convention and rebelling against the "established" order. Funny how that works, isn't it?

I think this is where Jesus would be if he were here today.

iPod Shuffle - 11:00 am

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Oh great iPod, give it to me.

1.Sinead O'Conner, Mandinka. from 'Never Mind The Mainstream'
2. Sufjan Stevens, Rifts & Variations An a Single Note for Jelly Roll, Earl Hines, Louis Armstrong, Baby Dodds, And The Kings of Swing To Name A Few, from "Come And Feel The Illinois
3. Anna Nalick, Breath (2AM), from 'Breat (2AM) Single'; (The words "Rain" and "Breath" intrigue me. "Rain" that brings refreshing, life, and cleansing; "Breath" is life, the Holy Spirit, the Breath that interred us...)
4. Aimee Mann, Par For The Course, from 'I'm With Stupid'
5. Underworld, Surfboy, from 'Dubnobasswithmyheadman'
6. Aimee Mann, Video, from 'The Forgotten Arm'
7. Moby, Bring Back My Happiness, from 'Everything Is Wrong'
8. Natalie Imbruglia, City, from 'Left Of The Middle'
9. U2, In God's Country, from 'The Complete U2'
10. Kate Bush, Rubberband Girl, from 'The Red Shoes'

I'm including the next two songs, too, for reasons.

11. Gary Newman, Cars, from ??? (When I first heard this song, I though, "My gosh, an alternative to Arena Rock and Disco!!!!!! I was in New Wave & Punk heaven.)
12. Sufjan Stevens, The Predatory Wasp Of The Palisades Is Out To Get Us!, from 'Come And Feel The Illinois' (This is simply an amazing song!)

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!

Idea originally from Fr. Jim Tucker of Dappled Things

A good post from Fr. Jim Tucker of Dappled Things on the question "Why do people believe..." Read it here.

A good post from Fr. Mark Harris of Preludium on the recent vote of the Convention of the Diocese of San Joaquin concerning the removal of all references to The Episcopal Church or General Convention from its Constitution and Diocesan Canons.

Update on Fr. Tucker's "Why do people believe..." series:

Why People Believe, part 2 - 12/6/06


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Stephen Tomkins, of the Guardian newspaper in England, wrote a commentary in their online version, Guardian Unlimited. Read the whole thing. The title of the piece goes something like, "We need to fast a little to truly enjoy our feasts." Yes, we do.

The commentary touches on a couple different things - commercialization of Christmas and Easter, Christians becoming upset that secular society is "paganizing" religious holidays, and the thing that really stuck me - the concept of waiting.

But what really interests me is how thoroughly our jumping the gun has inverted the shape of both Easter and Christmas. Both these feasts are traditionally preceded by fasts: the 40 days of Lent and the 24 of Advent. After such lengthy feats of abstinence - enforced by law in the Middle Ages - our ancestors were ready for some serious partying, which is why the Christmas holiday lasted 12 whole days till Epiphany. Easter, while shorter, could also be a riot of food and drink, music and dancing, drama and sport, and egg-related fun.

We, however, do it the other way round. We buy enough chocolate eggs and hot cross buns in Lent for there to be little special about Easter weekend. As for Advent, children get chocolate every morning in their calendars, and for adults December is the booziest month of the year. The fast has become the feast, and by the time we get to the 25th we're about ready to call it a day.

Isn't that so us? It's an emblem of the contemporary west - we don't do waiting. Where our parents used to save up for a big purchase, we buy first and save later. For our grandparents, a wedding night might well have been a first; it may find us in triple figures. Technology from microwaves to the internet and cashpoint machines encourages us to expect instant everything. So why leave decorations and cards till Christmas Eve (postal service aside) as they did?

(Emphasis mine)

Waiting. I am struck by this idea. I've said for a long time now that we need to be doin' some more waitin'. NOW. Tomkins is right, I do think, we in the West can no longer wait for much of anything - relationships, wisdom, attention, rewards, material things, even God. We become impoverished, because perhaps the most significant things in life requiring waiting, patience, and sometimes silence. I can see this dynamic well entrenched in my own life, but part of my problem is over-commitment, being overly busy, and not being able to find the time to wait, to think, to listen for the still small voice of God in periods of silence.

Some examples of waiting from the Psalms:

Psalm 5:3 In the morning, O LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation.

Psalm 27:14
Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.

Psalm 33:20
We wait in hope for the LORD; he is our help and our shield.

Psalm 37:7
Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; do not fret when men succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes.

Psalm 40:1
I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry.

Psalm 119:166
I wait for your salvation, O LORD, and I follow your commands.

Psalm 130:5
I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope.

Psalm 130:6
My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning.

It is to fight against our culture to wait. Waiting is a cultivated virtue - it doesn't come quickly no matter how fast we want it. God's way of things is not dependent on our time-tables or even linear time, and our perspective should be eternal.

Our children are drugged because they have learned well the lesson of immediacy. They cannot wait for anything, and because parents have bought into the cultural zeit-geist they are unwilling or unable to teach the virtue of waiting. It is easier to drug kids than to teach them self-discipline and to help them understand the advantages of holding off for a bit in order to gain the truly helpful, useful, and rewarding thing.

We carry cell-phones with us everywhere because we can no longer wait to contact someone over even the most trivial things. An adult was text-messaging during the sermon a few weeks ago.

Even within the Church – particularly now in the Episcopal Church – we expect things to happen yesterday. Our Church finds itself stuck in a "Cult of Change" were we cannot simply wait any longer. If anything is of great worth, change should occur only after a good period of consideration, deliberation, and the concerted seeking of the vision and will of God. We don't seem to want to do the very difficult work necessary that requires times of waiting. When we demand change NOW, we loose all perspective and we jump blindly into a future where the consequences will be understood too late.

Wait. Wait. Simple wait upon the Lord. An eternal perspective. There is a time and place for everything.

Original Guardian link Via: Father Jakes Stops the World

Fr. Jake writes about Advent:

The word "Advent" comes from the Latin word for "coming." We speak of the return of Christ in three ways; past, present, and future. First, Advent refers to Christ coming as a child in a manger. Second, Advent refers to Christ repeatedly coming to us in Word and Sacrament and in the fellowship of the Church. Third, Advent is a time to prepare for Christ coming again at the end of time, the Second Coming. In many ways, we can see Advent as a season of darkness, as we wait for the light.

oops, I forgot..

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So, I'm at the Sursum Corda. I get through the first two statements thinking that I really need to do something more constructive with my hands. The congregation responds and it's my turn once again to say the concluding sentence. You know, the one that does something like this, "Let us give thanks unto our Lord God."

Oops. What am I supposed to say here? As I stand there facing everyone, arms extended, going through my mind is something like this: "Giving. Doesn't it have something to do with giving?" Fr. Cullen, acting as my deacon, is standing beside me whispering, "give...give...give..." Okay, so after a VERY long pause, I remember and sing something. Was it right? I have no clue but began "Let us give thanks..."

I am very glad that this congregation is very forgiving! Of course, I had no book in front of me. I have never needed one. Perhaps, it is smart to always have a book ready for just such occurrences. Do ya think?

Things were a bit different since we did the Great Litany procession rather than the normal beginning of Mass. Perhaps that threw me, although I doubt it. I just forgot. I remembered with no problem the long "The Gifts of God for the people of God, taken them...." with no problem. Thank goodness. And, my chanting wasn't half bad.


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Just for the heck of it, I'm going to attempt to keep a list of all those religious organizations that contain in their title "Anglican" or perhaps "Episcopal," if in fact that group lays claim to an Anglican perspective. This list will not include provinces in communion with the See of Canterbury.

This group sometimes looks as strange as all those organizations that claim some sort of relationship with the Old Catholic Churches (aside from the Union of Utrecht).

Never mind, just go to the Anglicans Online list.

I love the "No way APA" website protesting the upcoming merger of the Reformed Episcopal Church with the Anglican Province in America because of the APA's "Catholic" ways.

It's that time again

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I've been putting off saying Mass since the beginning of October primarily because I haven't had time to practice chanting. I need to practice chanting! There comes a point, however, when ya just gotta do what ya gotta do.

So, tomorrow I chant a High Solemn Mass for the second time on the first day of Advent. More than likely, I will continue saying Mass from here on out - or until Fr. Cullen decides he wants to do a Sunday once again.

There is just way too much stuff to do. I would find things so much easier if I didn't have to work a full-time job in addition to trying to be a priest, doing priestly things. I get home from work and am just too tired to be very productive. Particularly now when the sun goes down so early and I just want to sleep. Sleep. Now, there is a novel concept!

It would help if I could sleep. Getting three or four hours a sleep a night tends to make one want to fall asleep as soon as possible, when it gets dark, when I'm alone in my apartment... Oh, sleep!

It is taking me way too long to get things together to begin the discernment process for Rite 13/Journey to Adulthood. I've been talking about this for three years now, and "actively" trying to get it started over the past year. I did a lot of work today and hopefully things will begin falling into place, soon.

Then, there is the whole notion of a comprehensive method/system of Christian Formation, or as I would have once said - discipleship. We have decided that our proto-home group will become a place of invitation to new people who want to become more engaged in their own faith development. This may mean that there will be a stream of people coming in and out. We shall see how this works, but the idea was the groups and I think we have been together long enough now to survive additional people coming in and out. Now, what I want to do is begin a subtle if not underhanded way of getting the Guild heads into some form of Christian formation. A monthly "coordinating" meeting with a bit of spiritual stuff thrown in might be a way of at least beginning.

Two other things I want to work on - well, actually three. First, there has been a lot of press more recently in what seems to be a trend of "confession." This is a bit different that what one traditionally thinks of as "confession" in a confessional with a priest behind a screen offering forgiveness. There have been a number of websites that provide a place for people to "get off their shoulders" stuff they have been keeping inside - things they know they should not have done. When we are instructed to confess our sins one to another, there is real benefit for our own wellbeing. So, is there a sort of groundswell particularly among the young for a new kind of "confession?" I think there might be.

So, we have a real confessional booth at St. Paul's (since it is an Anglo-Catholic parish). More recently, it has been used to store things. Within The Episcopal Church, the "Rite of Reconciliation" has been more a face-to-face thing with the priest and penitent, but I'm wondering if presented to the wider community in the right way, and being anonymous, whether there might be an interest in the more traditional form of confession, with a twist, I suppose. I don't know.

These kind of leads to the next thing: A new Sunday evening Mass. There are a lot of St. Paul's parishioners who leave over the weekends. Many of them have homes upstate (or some other close by place). A Sunday evening Mass would allow them to be at church and still be away from Friday thru Sunday. I am thinking of the Mass being very contemplative/meditative and more "monastic" in feel. Cantors rather than a choir, lots of chanting rather than more complete Anglican hymns, perhaps periodically an interactive sermon or open time of questions, etc. Tricky, I know, but it could be good if handled rightly.

The third thing is to revive a real catechumenate process during Lent. There are a number of new parishioners who we have discovered are not baptized and who have not grown up in a faith community. Their understanding of the faith and particular of the more Catholic form of the faith is slight. There may be no interest, but I do believe we need to get back to truly instructing those who are interested in becoming a Christian.

I have been told a number of times that when a person first approaches a Rabbi about becoming a Jew, the Rabbi generally tells the person, "No!" Then, and only then, if the person returns and truly demonstrates to the Rabbi that s/he is serious does the process begin. I think we tend to be far too quick, perhaps too desperate, in bring people in and we expect things of them that they are not ready to undertake. We have developed into a "community" of ignorance of the Traditions of the Faith, of the expectations of God when we truly decide to follow Him, and the costs of being a Christian in a profoundly un-Christian culture, despite the freedom of religion and worship and the common notion that we are a "Christian nation".

So, a revived catechumenate - and even perhaps having them leave after the Liturgy of the Word and before the Holy Communion. Who knows? Something like that may be completely unrealistic, although I think that there is something to consider in the whole prospect. There is nothing wrong with having high expectations. Potential Roman Catholic converts go through the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA), and the Orthodox Church in American teaches about "the period of catechesis, especially during the lenten season, as well as the celebration of Baptism, Confirmation [Chrismation], and the Eucharist at the time of reception is reminiscent of the preparation of the catechumens in the early Church." Why not? The Evangelical side of the Church surely shows that there are people more than willing to devote themselves to their own spiritual inculcation.

Anyway, these are things I want to work on, aside from saying Mass once a week. Of course, this doesn’t even begin to touch on the other things clergy normally do. I have no clue how I’m even going to begin to accomplish any of it, especially when I’m having problems with my own devotional life.

World AIDS Day

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Today, December 1st, is World AIDS Day.

Keep watch, dear Lord, with those who work, or watch, or weep this night, and give your angles charge over those who sleep. Tend the sick, Lord Christ; give rest to the weary, bless the dying, soothe the suffering, pity the afflicted, shield the joyous; and all for your love's sake. Amen.

BCP, 124 (Evening Prayer, Rite II)


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"For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.

"The entire law is summed up in a single command: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'* If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other." Galations 5:6,14-15

* Lev.19-18

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