January 2007 Archives

Pink- Dear Mr President - Live

I am ambivilent about Pink, but I've kind of watched her and listen to hear over the last few years and I must say that I think there is something there. I've heard her speak - I think there is an authenticity to her. She's smart, and not just smart at marketing herself.

Anyone who knows me knows that I am not a ragging liberal, by a long shot, although... While I do not necessarily agree with some of what she sings, I do agree with the questions she asks and what we, and I me we because we are the ones who elected this man and his government, should be focusing on as a people - particularly those of us who claim Christ.

Anyway, here is a video entitled "Dear Mr. President:"

via: Elizabeth Kaeton's weblog Telling Secrets

Sermon - Conversion of St. Paul

St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Carroll St., Brooklyn
The Rev. Robert Griffith
January 28, 2007

The Conversion of St. Paul and our Own

Today we are celebrating the Feast day of the Conversion of St. Paul. It was actually January 25, but because St. Paul is our Patron, today is the day were we do-it-up-right.

What was so significant about this conversion we heard of in the readings today?

Who was this man, called Saul and later Paul?

Saul was born in the Roman city of Tarsus making him an honest Roman citizen. This becomes significant as we follow his life through his conversion through his ministry and into his imprisonment in Rome. At his circumcision, he was given the Hebrew name of, “Saul.” At the appropriate age, his parents sent him off to Jerusalem to study the Law under he great Rabbi Gamaliel. It seems that Saul was a prodigy who had the attention of the leaders of the Jewish people.

We are introduced to Saul at the stoning of St. Stephen, the martyr, when Stephen accused the Sanhedrin, the council of Jewish religious leaders, of betraying God. In Acts 7, we find this, listen:

When they [the Sanhedrin] heard this, they were furious and gnashed their teeth at him. But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. "Look," he said, "I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God."

At this they covered their ears and, yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at him, dragged him out of the city and began to stone him…. Meanwhile, the witnesses laid their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul.

While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit." And Saul was there, giving approval to his death.

At this point, the persecution of the followers of Jesus began and they were driven out of Jerusalem. Saul comes up again in Acts 8 & 9 and this is what is said of him;

“But Saul began to destroy the church. Going from house to house, he dragged off men and women and put them in prison.”

And again -

“Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord's disciples. He went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem.”

I suspect that if he were present in our day, he might be referred to as a religious terrorist.

However, Saul was not by any means uncultured or ignorant. He was educated in the best Roman and Jewish schools. He was fluent in Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic, at least. He debated philosophers in Greece, and he was a Hebrew of Hebrews, zealous for service to God.

That was Saul, before his conversion.

Why the Word made flesh

From "On The Incarnation" by Athanasius:

"You [Macarius] must understand why it is that the Word of the Father, so great and so high, has been made manifest in bodily form. He has not assumed a body as proper to His own nature, far from it, for as the Word He is without body. He has been manifested in a human body for this reason only, out of the love an goodness of His Father, for the salvation of us men. We will begin, then with the creation of the world and with God its Maker, for the first fact that you must grasp is this: the renewal of creation has been wrought by the Self-same Word Who made it in the beginning. There is thus no inconsistency between creation and salvation; for the One Father has employed the same Agent for both works, effecting the salvation of the world through the same Word Who made it in the beginning."

I just wonder about the development of the concept of the Trinity of God. How much of our acceptance of God as Trinity today carries a stigma or the weight (wrong word?) of coming from the very difficult endeavor of attempting to explain and make palpable to a Hellenistic society then such a very strange idea of a god being made real but different within a human - a composite? - and how much of it is accurate in today's way of thinking?

In common life, are we really tri-theists (the egg example)? Are we really modalists (the 'man' example - father, son, brother)? Does "Trinity" of hypostases and ousia explain anything, really? Or, do we just throw up our hands and say it is beyond us? I accept the doctrine of the Trinity because it is accepted in the common life of the Church, but it is easier for me to believe in a tri-theistic God of complete unity of purpose and relationship or in Modalism. (I am Trinitarian, just in case someone later in life wants to accuse me of being a heretic!)

("It was mainly under the influence of the Cappadocian Fathers that the terminology was clarified and standardized, so that the formula "Three Hypostases in one Ousia" came to be everywhere accepted as an epitome of the orthodox doctrine of the Holy Trinity." - Wikipedia)

If we all could wander like Luiz!

I am always impressed with Luiz Coelho's posts on his weblog Wandering Christian. He isn't political, he isn't issue driven, he isn't out to prove a point, he simply writes about God and his encounter with the things of God (with a few exceptions).

I am envious. My hope is that I just might be in that kind of place - that kind of insightful and that kind of humble.

Well, then there is my last post and my wish above is kind of blown out of the water.


This is absolutely gross! It's so gross you can't help but watch!


What does it all mean...

How have fundamental assumptions of knowledge and truth been changed by the advent and development of the Internet, particularly the Web? We have to be cognoscente of the long-term changes that may be developing within younger people as the Web becomes an integral part of their lives and the primary vehicle in the search for information and truth.

If anyone can post a website and make truth claims no matter how "out there," and if informational websites come and go, as so many do when the first link we use to find the site no longer works, how does that influence the developmental aspects of how we think about the accumulation of knowledge and the understanding of how to discern truth claims? A website claims "this is absolutely true," above and beyond the "competition," and then it is gone. Is the "truth" gone?

This may be a bit fare fetched, but the way the Web is so ingrained in the daily lives of people, especially younger people, it will eventually effect the way they perceive and understand information gathering and truth claims, and particularly with the ascendancy of Post-Modernism as the foundational worldview of young people.

Most young people no longer grow up within a family of faith, no matter what religion or pietistic practice. Either parents have an honest, but flawed in my opinion, intention of allowing their children to choose their own religion when they become adults or the parents are just too lazy to get them off to church, temple, mosque, or whatever house of worship, kids will begin to search for Truth and Meaning. Today, almost of their entire searching process is on the Web. They generally will not visit brick-and-mortar buildings and visiting small-groups is becoming less likely. If they are given no instruction at home or school in how to judge legitimate from illegitimate religious expression or true from false truth claims, the Web provides a vast plain of land mines just waiting for the kids.

The copious amounts of information on the Web is wonderful, but if we are not given the tools to enable us to effectively judge between truth claims and if we are not taught how to effectively navigate through it all, we are preparing a generation for mental/informational chaos. I'm not talking about making declarations that the information on this or that website is false, but the ability to discern and judge prudently, especially when forms of popular post-modernism yell that all points of view are of equal value and truth, all worldviews are accurate and acceptable, or all moral positions are worthy of consideration and respect.

Christian tradition claims that it is the only True religion - Jesus Christ is the only way to God, etc. If our primary assumptions negate such claims of absoluteness, and if knowledge is always shifting and appearing and disappearing, as it does on the Web, how will the Christian faith respond? What will be the anchor point for young people?

I'm just thinking about his stuff. It all is very unformed and unfinished, but still rolling around in my brain.

Need the money NOW

Listening to Morning Edition this yesterday morning, I heard an economics piece on what states are trying to do meet their budget requirements. Most states, unlike the federal government, are required to have balanced budgets year-in and year-out.

The report focused on states that are in the process of selling off their physical assets in order to need budget demands - they need the money NOW, as the reporter emphasized as he spoke of the Illinois plan to sell off its state lottery to private investors.

Several months ago, I heard similar reports about Indiana's, Michigan's, Illinois', and Ohio's plans to sell of such things as state toll-roads, turnpikes, and bridges - mostly large physical infrastructures. Now, I can understand that there are times when this may truly be advantages and prudent. I don't think in these cases that we are in such times.

The reporter this yesterday morning said that the opposition in Illinois claims that a private group will do nothing but market the lottery more strongly and the end result will be greater harm for poor folk and those who are addicted to such things. (For some strange reason, I cannot use the "g" word with my host provider. Whenever I use the word for what people do in Las Vegas and Atlantic City, I am given an error message and can't post. How strange is that? It has taken me a whole day to figure why I couldn't submit this post.) This kind of have may not result from the sell last year of Chicago's Skyline bridge-highway system, but it does set up situations where either tolls will be charged or increased or maintenance will suffer because private firms are all about making a profit and not serving the public good. Okay, that's fine, but when we talk about public works originally paid for by tax funds, there is an obligation of government to manage those projects well.

Selling off state assess because the legislature cannot discipline itself to arrange state budges to meet the basic needs, rather than pork-barrel projects or even niceties when the coffers are flush with money, has become the new M.O. in many states. This is obviously very shortsighted. But, when people are desperate and unwilling to make hard decisions, then what do we expect?

Decisions have to be made: Will the people hold government officials accountable so that they are wise and diligent in the allocation and spending of the people's money? Will the people be willing to live with less and be inconvenienced more for a little more money in their pockets? Will the people and government be willing to take the long-term view of things? Will people be willing to allow for the further stratification of society - the rich becoming richer and able to afford whatever they want while the middle-class and poor continue to live with less and less? Will the people and government go back to believing in the public general welfare and be less obsessed with their own greed? Will the political parties stop crassly promising the world at no individual cost in order to win elections to gain more and more power for themselves? Will special interests be brought to account? Will people begin to act more altruistically and less selfishly? Will our elected officials make the hard and perhaps unpopular decisions for the benefit of future generations?

To be honest, I think we are at a point in this country where we will act positively to any of the above. It is easier to think in the short term and desperately sell off public assets rather than to answer in a positive direction to any of the above questions.

I'm not a pessimist, but I am becoming much more of a realists as time goes on. The Religious Right talks a lot about morals. They focus on sex and keeping for themselves what they feel is theirs. What about the issues of morality surrounding the Golden Rule, loving our neighbor as ourselves, even loving our enemy, and looking out for the welfare of the least of these? The Church looked far different as portrayed in the Acts of the Apostles by Luke (the Book of Acts in the Bible) concerning the welfare of its members than it does now. They all sold everything they had and laid it at the apostles’ feet so that it could be distributed to all who had need! Personal greed and the fulfillment of personal want have replaced concern for the welfare of the least of these - the very people Jesus said will be the greatest.

Strange experiences

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I won't mention what happened in an Episcopal church down the road last Wednesday. I filled in for a the priest-in-charge, and, well, the experience was the stuff of all the nightmares a priest may have about making Eucharist come true and all rolled into one.

What do ya do? I just rolled with it. I'm sure the people, particularly the visiting English couple visiting their daughter, thought, "My Lord, is this what the American Church has come to???" Mass got said, God worked, and, well, it is over.

This is going to be a rambling post. I can tell already.

So, this past Sunday I said mass at Christ Church. They use the Anglican Service Book this time of year. The Anglican Service Book is all the 1979 Book of Common Prayer in Elizabethan language (except for Rite II, Prayer "C"). Everything sounds like Rite I. There are a lot of additional devotional stuff, too, which tends to make a bit more Anglo-Catholic - or just plain Catholic (that which is of the Western Church, which frankly is the Church of Rome).

First of all, I have never said a Rite II mass before, whether in contemporary language or old. This is such a strange experience for an Episcopal priest since Rite II is probably used in 98% of all parishes, with perhaps an early morning Rite I service in some places for the old folk. (Interesting, isn't it, that the younger folk seem to like the older English. It is "church" or "spiritual" language, I've heard them say aplenty. Hummm. Of course, the Hip Hop Eucharist is also popular in certain quarters.) Anyway, this was my first time doing a Rite II mass.

I've always liked the Rite II canons. I do like the Elizabethan language, though. In my sponsoring parish back in Akron, I liked to go to the early morning Rite I. It is strange, too, I think, that so many Anglo-Catholic parishes still use Rite I. Rite II is far more Catholic and far less Reformed in its theology. The Rite II prayers come more from the Patristic period, and Rite I more from the medieval period - with a good bit of Reformed concepts and language thrown in for good measure.

Fr. Cullen says he uses Rite I because it is the more "modern" of the Eucharistic prayers, despite its Elizabethan language. Okay, I get it.

This past Sunday was also my first time celebrating on a "West-facing" or "free-standing" alter where I faced the people. I didn't notice this at the time, but thinking about the experience yesterday afternoon I realized something. Since I'm used to not having eye contact with people while I'm consecrating, I remember not having any eye contact during the Words of Institution at Christ Church.

How much eye contact do priests actually have with the people during the consecration, anyway? I suspect that for those who know the prayers well it is a lot easier to look at the people at times more accommodating during the prayer. I read from the book. I elevated the elements and looked at them. Obviously, during the Sursum Corda and such places I looked at the people, but I do that when serving on an "East-facing" alter, anyway.

So, there you have it. A day of strange, but good, experiences. My first Rite II service (prayer B, from the Anglican Service Book), with other oddities included as part of their normal service structure. My first West-facing service. My first time celebrating in a different church.

A quote from Peter J. Leithart, professor, pastor, Presbyterian.

Well??? Considering my Evangelical past and considering my present, I can agree with him!

Unbearable burden of Evangelicalism

"Anti-sacramental, anti-ritual evangelicalism emphasizes a personal relationship with God, but tends to encourage what Anthony Giddens calls "pure relationship," a relationship that is not tacked down with external anchors and supports. A live-in relationship, without benefit of the rites and legalities of marriage, is a pure relationship. Evangelicalism tends to encourage a live-in relationship with Jesus.

This is wrong, a departure from Christian tradition, and unbiblical. It also places unbearable burdens on the soul. Tempted by the devil, Luther slapped his forehead to remind himself of his baptism. His standing before God was anchored in Christ, to whom he had been joined by baptism.

For evangelicals, assurance cannot be grounded in anything so external and objective. Spontaneous enthusiasm is the test of sincerity, and the source of assurance. But eternal, self-scrutinizing vigilance is necessary to ensure that the enthusiasm is really spontaneous.

Enthusiasm was supposed to liberate the soul from all the dead forms, but it comes with its own set of chains. "

Peter J. Leithart on Wednesday, January 17, 2007 at 06:55 PM

via: Titusonenine

The City #9

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I walked out of the Rectory this morning and onto Carroll St. and there it was, snow coving tree limbs, gates, banisters, cars, and it was wonderful. The snow was falling very lightly, almost done. The snow didn't really accumulate on the sidewalks or streets, but just enough to give the streetscape a nice snowy, winter feel. The air was still, brisk but not cold. The sky was gray and the "air" was just a bit misty, but not really foggy. Anyway, it was very nice.

Getting out of the subway at 42nd St., I noticed how quiet the station seemed to be. I don't think I ever remember that kind of quiet in such a busy station. No other trains were there at that moment. No sound of equipment humming or screeching, just still quite. The faint sound of the conductor's voice announcing "the next stop is Rockefeller Center" could barely be heard. It was the kind of quite that in New York you only "hear" in large stone churches or when a heavy snow is falling.

The City #8

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As I waited for the cars to pass and the light to change on the corner of President and Smith streets this morning on my way to the subway, I heard a mother say to her son as they parted ways:

Mom said, "I love you."

The son of 7or 8 years of age replied, "I love you, too."

A nice beginning of the day!


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I watched a portion of this year's American Idol auditions. The question I keep asking myself, and Ashton keeps verbalizing, is how in the world do these people not recognize that they have no talent? How can so many of these people get up before the four (this year Jewel joins Randy, Paula, and Simon) judges and actually expect to be chosen to "go to Hollywood?"

I don't get it. What is going on in their minds, in their home-life, in their schools that compels them to have such a skewed self-image or an inability to rightly judge their own abilities? Well, when feelings become the most important thing in our pedagogies over and above substantive achievements then what do we expect? It is one thing to encourage children to try anything, but there comes a point were our encouragement becomes counter productive when it changes into lying. There are things we simply cannot do well, and to pretend that we can just because we want it so badly and don't want our feelings hurt doesn't cut it. We will end up on American Idol auditions making fools of ourselves, and crying and cursing when we are not esteemed once again, when we are not lied to in order to makes us to feel good about ourselves once again, despite how well or badly we actually do.

I read a review this morning of the book, "The Decline of the Secular University: Why the Academy Needs Religion" by C. John Sommerville and published by Oxford Univ. Press. The reviewer is Stephen Carter, a professor of law at Yale University. The book is basically a critical commentary on Higher Education. This isn't anything new, of course. The author, Sommerville, also laments the hostility expressed towards religion in general as retrograde and the religious disciplines.

The reviewer writes that the Sommerville comments on how campus-life is moving swiftly to bypass secularism to favor "post-secularism." "That is, the appeal to reason is being replaced by the appeal to fashion... Worse still, to the extent that the university becomes post-secular, it will hopelessly flounder at preparing students to use the knowledge they gain." The review comments on Sommerville, who claims that secular universities have lost the sense of why they are educating students in the first place.

"The modern campus does nothing to help students ponder the most significant questions of life," the reviewer paraphrases Sommerville. These are the categories that religion can address.

Having worked and taught and ministered in secular Higher Education for over 20 years, I think there is a lot of truth in his statement.

The reviewer comments that Sommerville is calling universities to better enable our natural human propensity to question and wonder. He then writes, "Because the secular project demanded 'destroying traditions,' it kicked away the props on which might rest answers to the great questions. As the university now becomes post-secular, it replaces those props with a celebration of feeling and 'fashionable moralizing.'"

The review continues, "My date book contains cartoons first published in the New Yorker. One shows a young boy in front of his class, doing arithmetic at the blackboard. He has just written '7 X 5 = 75' and says to his astonished teacher, 'It may be wrong, but it's how I feel.' There, in a nutshell, is the problem with the post-secular university. Faith is dead, reason is dying, but 'how I feel' is going strong. Should we ignore warnings like Sommerville's, 'how I feel' will be all there is.'"

The Simpson's had a related episode. A new school principal took over the elementary school where Bart and Lisa attended. She was all about the "woman's way of knowing." She divided the school into two schools in one building - one for the girls and one for the boys. Lisa was all excited, until she got to her math class. The new principal, who also taught math, only wanted the girls to "feel math" and talk about how numbers made them "feel." Lisa, all disappointed, asked if they were going to do any real equations. The teacher/principal chastised her saying that only stupid boys did things like that, but that the most important thing was how the girls felt about math and numbers. Lisa quietly slipped away and crashed the boys' math class were they were figuring out parabolas and the area within a cylinder - stuff like that.

There you have it. One of the reasons people go to American Idol auditions when they have no talent (which is just a very mean and wrong of me to say because it hurts their feelings) is because they have grown up being told that their "feelings" are the most important thing, not their accomplishments. Now, when they hit the real world and are told the truth, they aren't going to be feeling very good about themselves, are they? Oh, the years wasted and the false sense-of-self these kids have been programmed into believing. How long will it take for them to develop a true sense-of-self, if ever?

Next Sunday's Epistle Reading

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**Oops, I read the wrong year. Oh well...**

Reading though next Sunday’s Epistle lesson (3rd Sunday of Epiphany, year A) from Paul's first letter to the Church in Corinth, beginning at chapter 1, verses 10-17, I am made aware of the absolute relevancy of this reading, particularly when Paul writes:

"What I mean is that each of you says, 'I belong to Paul,' or 'I belong to Apollos,' or 'I belong to Cephas,' or 'I belong to Christ.' Has Christ been divided?"

Today in this Church, how often do we hear, "I belong to Peter Akinola," or "I belong Henry Luke Orombi," or "I belong to Martin Minns," or "I belong to Frank Lyons," or "I belong to Bob Duncan," or, or, or and it goes on an on.

Now, all these Episcopalians (or former Episcopalians) will say first off that, "I belong to Christ, and this is why I have aligned myself and my parish with" Akinola, Lyons, Minns, or whomever. They will accuse anyone who remains faithful to The Episcopal Church of belonging to something other than Christ. Why? Because those who remain faithful to The Episcopal Church do not agree with them on certain social matters or Scriptural interpretations, or theological positions.

Most all those who remain faithful to The Episcopal Church will claim that they, too, "belong to Christ."

Now, I know "liberals" who do the same thing that the "conservatives" do. Neither side is innocent of all this dividing of Christ's Body!

Why do we have the need to lay claim to something so strongly, something that is not Christ, that we are willing to see the destruction of institutions, the division and ending of all relationships, and engage in the defamation of character of all those with whom we disagree?

When Paul calls us to be of the same mind and purpose, I suspect that he means that we all are of one mind and purpose in wanting God’s will to be done upon earth as it is in heaven, not that we are all dogmatically, doctrinally, or theologically the same.

I belong to Christ. I am to love my neighbor as I love myself! It matters little to me with regard to how I relate to you, frankly, whether you agree with me or not.

Worth repeating

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I need to read this quote often.

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

- C.S. Lewis

Stuff happens...

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These kinds of lists are all over the place. I like this list because it includes Open Theism and Anglo-Catholicism.

So, vai Father Jakes Stops the World:

Stuff Happens
From connexions by way of maggi dawn; an oldie but a goldie:

Stuff happens. What do the world’s religions have to say about this vexing existential problem?

Taoism: Stuff happens. Who gives a stuff?

Hinduism: This stuff has happened before and will happen again.

Buddhism: The stuff that happens doesn’t really.

Zen: What is the sound of stuff happening?

Islam: The stuff that will happen will happen.

Judaism: Lord, why is this stuff happening to me?

Evangelicalism: Jesus, we praise you and just wanna ask why this stuff isn’t happening to someone else?

Catholicism: Stuff happens because you deserve it.

Open Theism: Stuff happens to God too.

Pentecostalism: Tuffs appensh.

Anglo-Catholicism: Verily, verily, stuff happeneth.

Atheism: Stuff happens. Then you die. No more stuff.

Rastafarianism: Let’s smoke the stuff.

...and then a few more from maggi's comments...

Hare Krishna: "Stuff" happens! "Stuff" happens! "Stuff" happens! "Stuff" happens! . .

Jehovah's Witnesses: Let us in and we'll tell you why stuff happens.

Quakers: Quietly praise God for the blessings that stuff brings.

Calvinists: Stuff won't happen to you if you work hard enough.

Christian Scientists: Agree that there is no stuff.

Televangelists: Stuff won't happen to you if you send in your love offering.

Any we missed?

Where we stand

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Just to makes things a bit more clear, for myself, as I forever try to find my way in the mêlée of theologies, polities, and arguments that present themselves in today's world and church.

I am not a liberal that is enamored by Process or Naturalist theologies and do not much care for the more radicalized versions of Liberation, Feminist, Womanist, or Queer theological perspectives. There are interesting ideas presented in these theological arguments, but I do not count myself as a follower of any of them. I am not a liberal that adheres to the exclusionist tenants of Identity Politics or Political Correctness.

I could be considered a liberal person, in a positive way, who believes that there can be a place for all at the table, truly. Too many people I have know in academia and this Church believe the table should be open to anyone, except those who disagree with them - meaning conservatives or traditionalists. These kinds of people are not truly liberals, but rather anti-conservatives. I believe in respectful listening - and listening that means more than just giving someone the opportunity to open there mouths and say words or having the listeners simply hear words coming out of the opposition's mouths. I mean listening that requires become able to argue the opponents position as a true believer of that position - of walking in the shoes of the other person. The goal isn't that everyone agrees on particular thing, but that we recognize that in the other is an opportunity to grow and to learn and to be more balanced in our own beliefs - it is "iron sharpening iron." That takes a lot of time and energy, but that is what I think being liberal really means. At least most conservatives don't make a pretense of being "inclusive of all people" and "believing all ideas have equal value" and then hypocritically and intentionally not be either.

I am not a conservative in the way the conservatism has been demonstrated in politics and in the Church in this country. A conservatism or traditionalism that attempts to impose itself upon all and forbid opposing opinions from being expressed is not truly conservative, but is "fascist." There is no virtue in attempting to control information, control thinking, or in the attempt to control period. Yes, I do understand that all laws are controlling and have an underlying moral component. Again, what seems to be yelling very loudly "I am conservatism" in these times is trying only to mask its "fascist" or dictatorial tendencies. Questions about women or gay people in ministry and society are not closed and cannot be stopped, no matter how certain groups try to silence other people or groups. We are not blindly locked into the “way things have always been.”

I am a conservative or a traditionalist that believes in personal freedom, liberty, and the right of people to act for their own benefit, whether individually or communally. I am a conservative in the sense that I believe in personal responsibility and accountability, and in a person's intrinsic worth, peoples personal ingenuity or ability, and in the respect for other free moral agents. I believe that tradition and the past play a very important part in the continuity of ideas and practice and are essential in society moving forward in a peaceful and informed manner. After all, those who are ignorant of history are condemned to repeat it.

It seems to me that real conservatives and real liberals complement one another, because their foci are different and their work and perspectives add to a more complete picture of humanity and the world in which we find ourselves.

Something like that...

Young people and faith

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I listened to a bit on NPR's Morning Edition this morning. There is a new documentary that will be appearing on PBS stations this evening by Judy Woodruff entitled "Generation Next."

Morning Edition played a small portion of one woman's story, a senior at Davis College. She grew up in one of the Carolinas to college professor parents and in the local Presbyterian Church. She is a religion major a Davis.

She took a semester of foreign study, which isn't unusual for many American students. Her experience was, however. She took a semester (if I remember the time span correctly) and spent it in China, Thailand, and India. She spent the time studying and experiencing other religions - Buddhist, Hindu, and others that I don't remember at this time. She and her fellow students lived in ashrams, in temples, and participated in the religious activities, worship, and meditation with the monks and other religious people.

She told the story of returning home before heading out on her journey and talking to a Sunday School teacher at the church of her youth. She said he asked her, "Why do you want to travel all over the world and learn about all these other religions when you can sit in my class and I can tell you why they are all wrong?" At which point she said, "That is exactly why I want to do this!"

Her faith was shaken. She had profound experiencing meditating with the Buddhist monks. She had never experienced such things before. Waking at 4:00 am and dragging her pray mat with her, she found something and it shook the foundations of her own Christian faith.

She returned home and went though a faith crisis. Now, she is back in the denomination of her youth back at Davis, but she has become a Christian "pluralist." She believes that there is not just "one way," but there can be many ways to God.

She also talked about going and spending time at the Taize community in France, an ecumenical Christian monastic community that attracts a lot of young people. The aspect of her Taize experience that seemed to affect her most occurred during a worship service in the chapel when the singing ended and there was an extended time of silence - 10-15 minutes of silence. She was floored, amazed, astounded over the experience. "The brothers didn't tell you what to do in that time of silence...,” she said. You can to experience it in your own way. She said she couldn't believe the experience of sitting with a 1,000, 2,000 young people in silent worship.

Finally, she said that for her generation, that is what they are crying out for. They are crying out for spiritual experience where they are not told what they have to believe or told answers to questions they are not asking, but they want a place where they can discover their faith and question and experience.

For too long American Christianity has failed our young people. We have failed young people and youth because of the attempt to indoctrinate them with the "facts" as the faith sees them (or, rather, as the different sectarian groups see the "facts"). We have failed them for the most part by not being adequate examples for them. We have failed them through our own insecurity, laziness, and ignorance. Our experience of God may well be genuine and our love of God sincere, but that only goes so far as we attempt to pass on the faith to the next generation.

There is little attempt to education young people and youth about how to investigate, how to navigation through, and how to explore their own faith in relation to other religions. There is little explanation of other religions other then saying how false or horrible they are. There is little determination to be examples (do as I say, not as I do seems to rule the day – hypocrisy!). There is a profound fear and mistrust among too many Christian adults concerning the intelligence of their kids. I think there is also a profound lacking of trust that God can woe effectively and draw kids, youth, and young people on His own without the all wise and discerning adults shoving the stuff down their throats.

There is also a profound lacking in the telling of the full story of Christianity. Why in the world did this woman not know about Benedictine spirituality where monks and nuns rise at 4:00 am to pray (not all, of course, and not all at that time)? Why was this woman not told of the Desert Father's and Mother's and mediation and contemplation? Why was she not educated effectively in her own faith, first? Probably because of a fear that she might just become a Roman Catholic (gasp), probably because of the fear that if you give kids too much information they might make a wrong decision, probably because adults just don't do a very good job themselves, and probably because too many adults are too ignorant of their own faith's traditions.

I applaud what this woman did, but if there had been better instruction in her own faith as she was growing up - not the kind of instruction this Sunday School teaching attempted - she may have been able to avoid her own faith crisis. Maybe she needed the faith crisis, I don't know. But, I see too many, far too many, young people who simply jettison their faith because when they encounter so many other things via the Internet or TV or the wider world of friends and teachers through college or other information channels now open to them, they realize what has been “kept from them” in many cases. What am I trying to say?

Teach, trust, and be an example. Encourage, support, guide, and direct. Patience, trust, hope, and faith. Carefully listen, strongly challenge, and above all show how much you truly do care. Be full of integrity, honestly, and vulnerability. Just love them through their terrible times, lost times, lonely times, screw-up times, and profound times of discovery. Be an adult and don’t try to be their best-friend, but a mentor, confidant, confessor, coach.

We can teach the faith, even the exclusive claims of Jesus, without trying to withhold from them all this other stuff in the vast and wonderful world so that they don't think we are just trying to indoctrinate them. What…what…???

I think Anglicanism and The Episcopal Church is a prime vehicular for transmitting and teaching the faith to so many unchurched young people today, if only we will realize it and actually stand for something other than eating ourselves alive through controversy “sectarian warfare.”

Oh, the changes

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I have a new co-worker who is working as the administrative assistant for our project team. We have been pushed into a single cubical until someone figures out how to made new ones. It is a good thing that I don't feel the need to "piss on my territory."

She is young and lively. I like her. Since the backs of our chairs practically touch each other, we've gotten into some nice conversations, and it isn't very difficult to know what's going on "over there."

Right now, our project is just ramping-up so there is some definite downtime. I read a blogs, particularly those blogs from Anglicans I tend to disagree with - it's good to understand how the other side thinks and what there are doing, after all. There's no point in reading the stuff of those who you already agree with. Where's the fun in that? I don't do that so much with politics. I don't know why. Maybe I think I know enough about the other side to not have to bother.

Anyway, I've noticed that what she does more than anything is watch YouTube. As plenty of people have said before, YouTube is a phenomenon. I can well understand the contention that YouTube has the potential to strike at the heart of our current understanding of what "TV" is and how we center ourselves around a screen to watch other people and things - entertain ourselves, distract ourselves, hide from reality, or innocently do something mindless. Old media, if they don't change, will be in as much trouble as are the old American car companies that can't seem to change rightly and are being put out of business by foreign companies that do. Okay, not a good analogue, that it's the point that counts, right? Old media has been struggling for a long time and recognizes the need to do something, but they simply can't get themselves out of their old ways. Just look at the old record companies. It's everyone else's fault that their revenues are down and they aren't selling CD's.

I just read somewhere that some company is going to produce "TV" shows only for cell-phones.

Speaking of cell-phones: iPhone! I NEEEEEEEED one. Apple Computer, Inc. just does it right. (Well, they do design right, except for when Jobs was away, maybe.) Sometimes, something does come along that is worth the money. Of course, it's all relative - send money to feed a starving family of nine for a year or buy an iPhone???? What would Jesus do?

I know when my current cell-phone contract ends in August, well, I'm goin' after the iPhone, I am. I really doubt Jesus would do that. Of course, I don't think Jesus would necessarily be sitting on his Ikea lounge chair, feet up, in a multicolored striped bathrobe at 6:00 am, drinking home made hot chocolate, and typing on his new black MacBook (clergy-black, that is!), writing drivel on his weblog instead of spending time with the Father in his "Quiet-Time." Yup, I'm not exactly living up to the image of what the "What Would Jesus Do" crowd might think I should be doing.

Of course, I know that I'm not living up to what Jesus would really rather I (is "I" the right word, or should it be "me"?) be doing or who Jesus would really rather me be. With God's help, I'm tryin'. I will change. I know if I were, all things will be well, as Julian might have said. The question is: change into what? Now that I've squandered away the time I have for a quiet-time, it may be the kind of change that old media or the old car companies attempt to do, rather than the YouTube or Apple kind of change. In short, for the better. Who the heck knows?

Anyway, YouTube and iPhones. The world is a changin'.

Really, what would Jesus do?

Too funny

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Okay, you've got to see this Coke commercial on YouTube. I don't know where it is running, but I suspect that there will be those in the U.S. who will be up in arms about a priest making the sign of the cross on the women's forehead with a bit of Coke Light. Of course, there will be those who will condemn this commercial just because that's what they do.

iPod Shuffle - 10:00 am

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It's been a while since I've listened to music on my iPod. Today, I'm doing very mundain stuff at work and need the distraction of music or something. I've been listening to books on CD, but just finished a book and need to go to the library to get another one. Apple has a big announcement tomorrow - an Apple cellphone-iPod??

Anyway, here is what my iPod gave up this morning:

1. Sarah Brightman, First of May, from 'La Luna'
2. Orlando Gibbons, Two Fantasies, from 'GTS Schola Spring Concert 2004'
3. Aimee Mann, Satellite, from 'Bachelor No. 2'
4. Alanis Morissette, Hands Clean (Acoustic), from 'Feast on Scraps'
5. Moby, I'm Not Worried At All, from '18'
6. Gary Newman, Cars, from '??'
7. Gregory Lvovski - Bulgarian Radio & Television Choir, Hymn of the Cherubim, from 'Sacred Treasures I'
8. Kate Bush, Hammer Horror, from 'Lionheart'
9. Doug Burr, Dark As A Night, from ' The Sickle & The Sheave'
10. Kat Williams, Here's That Rainy Day, from 'Here's That Rainy Day'

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

Chalcedon compliant

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I'm Chalcedon compliant! Boy, is that ever a relief!

You scored as Chalcedon compliant. You are Chalcedon compliant. Congratulations, you're not a heretic. You believe that Jesus is truly God and truly man and like us in every respect, apart from sin. Officially approved in 451.

Chalcedon compliant




























Are you a heretic?
created with QuizFarm.com

Free Will

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From the New York Times:

Mark Hallett, a researcher with the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, said, “Free will does exist, but it’s a perception, not a power or a driving force. People experience free will. They have the sense they are free.

“The more you scrutinize it, the more you realize you don’t have it,” he said.

That is hardly a new thought. The German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer said, as Einstein paraphrased it, that “a human can very well do what he wants, but cannot will what he wants.”

Einstein, among others, found that a comforting idea. “This knowledge of the non-freedom of the will protects me from losing my good humor and taking much too seriously myself and my fellow humans as acting and judging individuals,” he said.

Via: Titusonenine

Bear with one another

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I'm thinking that a primary aspect of a peaceable life has been lost to us through however many years passing up to this year of 2007. We have lost our ability to be patient and to bear with one another through times of trouble and disagreement.

This post is very wordy, I know. Just don't have the time to tighten it up.

We have also lost our perspective concerning time. All things must be resolved, NOW. We must defeat our enemies, NOW. We must force through our pet legislation, NOW. We must purge from our churches those people and their beliefs that we perceive as apostate and heretical, NOW. We must make everyone Westernized and love democracy NOW. No compromise.

I made a comment on TItusonenine yesterday about realizing that God's truth will be realized in time, particularly concerning the whole gay issue within Anglicanism that we've been fighting over for the past three years and whether this "innovation" is of God or just apostasy. This can be applied to all the theological "innovations" that are sweeping through The Episcopal Church right now. I read in Acts yesterday morning about Gamilial and his recommendation to the Sanhedrin that they should just wait and see what happens to these followers of Jesus and the "troubles" they were causing. Gamilial gave two examples of earlier men and their movements and how once the leader was killed, the movement died. He said that the leaders of Israel should just wait - if this man Jesus is like the others, then his movement will die now that he is dead. If this is truly a move of God, then the members of the Sanhedrin will find themselves fighting against God and will surely lose. Being this way, taking this attitude, is risking and impatient and fearful people cannot do it. The leaders of Israel did not head Gamilial's advice.

A women responded and said that if these theological and practical "innovations" were the work of the Holy Spirit then all the controversy should have died down by now. Since it hasn't, then it can't be a move of the Holy Spirit. Three years? Her perspective and her allowance of time for consideration and resolution have been shrunk to three years. What can be said?

We no longer want to use persuasion to convince others of the supposed superiority of our position or argument, because that takes to much time. We revert to coercion to get our way.

When the time frame for change shrinks from centuries or decades or years to NOW, we loose perspective and we begin to see other human beings only as obstacles to achieving our wants or goals. We lose the ability to be patient, kind, and generous. We are no longer willing to bear with one another as we work through problems together, so we lose the whole concept of iron-sharpens-iron and instead seek to simply impose our will on all others because that way is more expedient. This dynamic is born out in all our perspectives - liberal or conservative - it is a problem of our time, period.

What this also means is that the challenges to our arguments are ignored or put down and the veracity of our arguments is impoverished. There is no longer any need to think through our ideas, to consider possible problems with our thought processes or our plans. Our perspective shrinks to the now, to achieving our end goal now and the means are of little consideration.

That which is truly significant is worthy of taking the time to persuade, to bear with those who disagree, to listen and consider problems in our own thoughts and goals, and to see that the end of our efforts may well be realized far beyond our lifetimes. As much as we want resolution and satisfaction NOW, possibly because we are so overwhelmed with daily life and cannot take the effort needed to persuade and bear with one another, true and honest solutions to our problems will only come with time, patience, and forbearance. A peaceable life only comes after honest peace is achieved.

We do not take the time to understand the Arab cultures and Islamic religious followers. We do not take the time for careful diplomacy and persuasion. We do not take the time for careful planning nor listening to those with differing opinions concerning things like, well, what happens after we topple a dictator. We would rather coerce nations and states to do as we see fit, because of course we know best.

We don't take the time to persuade those who disagree with our biblical interpretation or understanding of tradition or our reasoning behind our position. We do not take the time to bear with the weaker brother, or to pray and allow God to work out His will, or to allow for the fact that our perspectives could be wrong. It takes too much time to understand the position of our "enemy" to where we could argue their point as well as our own, to walk in their shoes, if you will. It all takes too much time and effort. Just do as I say, NOW! I'm right and don't challenge me!

All this does is bread contempt, hubris, and oppression. We need to bear with one another in love. Our time perspective needs to be elongated. We need to heed to the process of time and make every effort to persuade, not coercive. If the veracity of our argument is true and deep and sure, it will prevail. It will prevail over time, even if not NOW.

As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace."
(Ephesians 4:1-3)

Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Colossians 3:12-14

Glad to be an Anglican

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In reading this essay by Rev’d Dr. Leander Harding, particularly the beginning paragraphs, I remember so many of the reasons why I, as a former Pentecostal/American-Evangelical, came into this Anglican expression of the Christian faith, and why I remain and relish it so much. I remain an Evangelical, I retain Pentecostal sympathies, and I am becoming more and more a Catholic.

I am reading a book right now of a dialogue between Process theologians (“liberal”) and Free-Will Theist theologians (“Arminian-Evangelical”). All I can say is that I am not one who is attracted to Process or Naturalist theology. My fear in all of our troubles is that there are those who would not acquiesce to such a dialogue even taking place and who would forestall such a debate because it isn’t what we already believe to be the True faith. What I see in play all too often is the worst of the tradition I left as I entered into Anglicanism.

All of us at one time or another have spouted off some heresy or another. I read this morning in the book of Acts about Gamaliel suggesting to the Sanhedrin that they simply wait to see what happens. If these guys who speak in this name are not of God, the will die away. If they are, then the Jewish elders and teachers will find themselves fighting against God. As we know, they didn’t listen. Can we head Gamaliel’s suggestion, today concern such things as women’s ordination or gay inclusion or other stuff? Anglicanism seems to have over the centuries past.

All of the “innovative” theologies that pass here and there will come and go, and in time those that are of God will remain and those that are not, will not. Over time, and time that is not measured in just a few years, people will go to where they are brought into relationship with the living God. The full and absolutely Truth of God is not to be found in any one particular Christian theology or form of worship, no matter how comforting it is to think otherwise. That isn’t a relativistic statement, but the realization that we generally get things wrong (councils err) and that in time God brings all things into His will as He reconciles all things unto Himself. God’s economy of time is not ours’ – a thousand years is as a day and all that.

I am so thrilled I found Anglicanism. I will recommend it to anyone! I am also thrilled that God has called me to be a priest in this Church, even though like Harding I was dismayed by much of what was espoused at the last General Convention '07 – both from the liberal and conservative sides, I might add. God will have the day! Why do I need to work myself into a lather? I remain a follower of Jesus Christ, despite what some might say about me. I rest in His ability to bring all things to fruition and make all things right.

Via: Titusonenine

HAPPY NEW YEAR! It is hard to believe that yet another year has passed by.

General ramblings and thoughts as I get out of bed on January 1, 2007:

Well, the death of former President Ford has given the Episcopal Church some press that doesn't revolve around gays in the Church and foreign Primates invading this province at the invitation of certain parishes and diocese. Despite what side of the troubles one might be on, there is recognition that with these kinds of things we do well.

I had New Years Eve dinner with Ashton and Peaches last night in Manhattan. After a lot of discussion of movies and Broadway (more Ashton and Peaches), we ended up talking about society and religious experiences (more Peaches and me, Peaches grew up in a Manhattan Episcopal Church). She made a comment that I thought was quite good concerning belief in such things as the birth of Jesus by a virgin - Mary. Considering the admittance that there are vast amounts of things we are yet to learn or understand in the universe and given that within that vast space there might be something like "God" or "miraculous happenings," she said that those who cannot believe in such a thing as a virgin birth should consider the fact that we humans can now accomplish such a thing. A virgin can in fact become pregnant and give birth, and if that is possible by the efforts of very limited humans how is it then such a stretch to think that God could have accomplished the same thing? I had never through about artificial insemination as a possibility for a "virgin birth."

Considering adherence to such things as the birth of Jesus by a virgin, I am reading a new book entitled: Searching for an Adequate God: A Dialogue between Process and Free Will Theists. Since I grew up within a denomination that is predominately Arminian, Free-Will Theism - otherwise known as Open(ness) Theism - makes sense to me. I do not and probably will never agree with a good number of positions held within Process Theology.

Anyway, in the first essay by Process theologian David Ray Griffin, he presents the idea of dogma divided into three groups: Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary doctrines. Primary doctrines of the Christian Faith, according to Griffin, are: 1. God, the creator of the universe, is loving; 2. the world is therefore essentially good, although it is now filled with evil; 3. it is God's purpose to overcome this evil; 4. this overcoming will include a salvation for us in a life beyond bodily death; and 5. God has revealed these truths and acted decisively to realize the divine purposes in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. (p.8)

Over time there developed Secondary doctrines to support the validity of the Primary doctrines, and Tertiary doctrines where devised as a third layer to support the Secondary doctrines. For example, the virgin birth of Jesus and the immaculate conception of Mary are considered secondary doctrines by Griffin that speak to the sinlessness of Jesus in relation to the development of doctrines of "original sin." Griffin goes on to give additional examples of Secondary and Tertiary doctrines, such as the Trinity hammered out at Nicea and Constantinople, transubstantiation, divine impassibility, omnipotence, and predestination - all of which were developed over time in order to support the Primary doctrines.

I like the idea of the primary doctrines, which Griffin claims most all Christians of whatever stripe can agree to. Griffin says that problems occur when different groups elevate the importance and necessity of Secondary and Tertiary doctrines for defining who is and who is not really a Christian. He says that the differences between the Primary and the Secondary/Tertiary are vital as we attempt to explain the Good News to new and different societies or periods of time (he wrote "redefine"). Think about the looming battles between "Modernist Christians" and "Post-Modernist Christians"! What must we absolutely declare as necessary and essential as a starting point or foundation for Christian belief?

I suppose we can all agree on the "essentials" - those Primary doctrines presented above. But, what happens after those? I agree that too many of us want to demand that our pet doctrines are essential for defining the faith. We fight wars over such things - physical, verbal, and mental. Imagine that.

Is it essential to believe in double predestination to be a Christian? Some have told me that it is, and anything else is heresy and excludes their adherents from the faith. Okay. I've been unchurched over other issues, too. Anyway, Griffin's comments are a good instigator of thought to ponder whether one claims Process theology or not. What is truly essential and necessary and how might we bring ancillary or extemporaneous things/issues into the equation erroneously?


I spent Christmas with my family in Ohio. The drive there and back was quite nice - long periods of time to do nothing but drive and listen to books on CD. I'm not used to a house full of people, particularly little ones under three - three under three and one who is nine (I can't believe that!). As much fun as they were, they wore me out! There were a few times I had to retreat to my room, which is now my niece's room as my sister and brother-in-law transition into a new home and jobs.

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This page is an archive of entries from January 2007 listed from newest to oldest.

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