February 2007 Archives

Sign of the cross

I get weekly e-mail updates from a variety of organizations. Today's came from Christianity Today, a more Evangelical news magazine. There is an article by Nathan Bierma about making the sign of the cross, which traditionally Evangelicals do not do - it's too "Catholic."

The author referenced two new books on the practice and history of the Sign of the Cross.

I've watched over the years in my own move from American Evangelicalism to Anglicanism in The Episcopal Church and still further towards Anglo-Catholicism as more staunchly Protestant and particularly Evangelical expressions of the faith have begun to re-incorporate many of the ancient Traditions of the Church universal back into their practice. Such things as weekly communion and now making the sign of the cross, for example.

He writes:

After reading these two books, this previously ignorant Protestant, for one, has decided to introduce the sign of the cross into his daily prayer, as a link with the early church, a sign of God's claim on me, and a reminder of the mystery of the Trinity.

Whether we practice it or not, the sign of the cross is one manifestation of how physical—how embodied—worship really is.


An important aspect of Episcopalian and Anglican devotion, particularly the High-Church/Anglo-Catholic bunch, has been the keeping alive this very idea of the embodiment of what we do as devotion and demarcation of who and what we are. In ideas of incarnation, a unique Anglican strength, we realize that during our common worship and in private devotions, our bodily actions and our doings are as important in our formation as is the stimulation of our minds. Orthopraxis - right doing. It is a full-bodied worship experience incorporating all the senses and postures.

The Dean of GTS has spoken

Ward Ewing, Dean of The General Theological Seminary, my seminary, has written a statement regarding the Communique from the Primates Meeting.

Kendall posted it on his weblog. You can read it here. Read the comments. Really, read the comments. What have we come to? What are we devolving into? The triumph of the American religion, which bears little resemblance to what God calls us to, IMHO.

A Modest Analysis

A statement from Progressive Episcopalians of Pittsburgh concerning Bishop Duncan's claims made in his pastoral letter concerning the Primates Meeting of the numbers that support his position (chart), entitled, "A Modest Analysis of NACDAP’s 'Anglicans in the United States'"

Here is the link.

Via: Thinking Anglicans

New demands

Archbishops Akinola of Nigeria and Nzimbi of Kenya have demanded that The Church of England (Canterbury) certify to them by September 30th that they have stopped all same-sex marriages or blessings and do not ordaining homosexuals.


Led by Nigeria's Archbishop Peter Akinola and Kenya's Benjamin Nzimbi, the bishops said if Canterbury "does not come back to us by September 30, we will decide whether they will continue being with us or not."

"Let us know if they will have stopped celebrating same sex marriages and ordaining homosexuals," Bishop Akinola who is the chairman of the Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa (Capa) said during the launch of an HIV /Aids prevention plan at Panafric Hotel.

Read the whole article. Via comments on In a Godward Direction.

Hard and complete scholarship

Tobias Haller, priest, member of TEC's Executive Committee, offers some thoughts on Ash Wednesday and the call of the Primates for adequate response by The Episcopal Church on his blog, In a Godward Direction. Read the post and the comments!

One thing I find encouraging about ++Katherine is that she comes from the "hard” physical-sciences and not the "soft" social-sciences. What I mean is that when she looks for justifications for positions or to prove a hypothesis she will look for actual data, thorough research, complete scholarship, etc. Too many of us from a social-science background or from within the Humanities over the last 30 years have resorted to arguments based on "feelings." We must do this or that because it "feels right" or so that we do not damage the "feelings" of others, etc. The tendency is to do some studies, but only enough to give us enough confidence to press our point, not enough to persuade critics. Simplistic, I know, but that is a beginning. I have been through too many classes concerning social and personal "develop theories" and listened to too many people give justifications for doing this or that thing based no little more than "feelings."

This issue of whether TEC has given good and rigorous and complete theological and Scriptural justifications for our attempts to change thousands of years of Tradition and Scriptural interpretation concerning the morality of homosexual relationships has come back to us with the answer of, “NO!” I agree, and I don't think we have. I think there are too many people in the leadership of TEC (staff-priests-bishops) who wish to make justifications for our actions based too much on "feelings" (reflected in such subjective “proofs” as issues of justice, inclusion, and the like - as important as they are), rather than on hard, rigorous, and complete research and scholarship. The result is that we have been woefully lacking in our response to the challenge of the wider Christian community to our attempts to change Christian Tradition and understanding. We have not done our homework well – perhaps just enough to make ourselves feel good about our effort.

We have acted with hubris, not because our actions are intrinsically wrong, but because our attitudes are paternalistic towards all those "homophones" that refuse to accept our "enlightened" new understanding. It is time for hard theological work, hard research, and hard scholarship! Frankly, because of our arrogance it may be too late to persuade anyone. This is the legacy being realized my too much attention to “feelings” and not hard data and thorough scholarship over the last 40 years.

The hard work is what ++Katherine will hopefully demand of us, as she would demand of someone proposing a new theory concerning octopuses.

Then, from the comments, is the following:

When I was in college, there were several racist incidents on campus. House meetings were held, and campus-wide meetings were held. One of the African-American students in my house said something that struck me to this day. We were talking about how to understand each other better, how to bridge cultures and learn from each other. Several women suggested that we needed to hear from our African-American sisters, hear their stories and learn from them.

This particular lady stood up, crying, and said "WHY do I have to teach you? Why is it incumbent upon ME to educate you about this? I live it, I'm tired of it. Go out for yourselves and find out what we, as black women, are talking about. Take classes, read history, study it yourselves. It is not my job as a black woman to educate you all about racial injustice."

As a lesbian, I'm feeling much the same way. There are myriad resources for these bishops, priests and congregations to use to educate themselves about our theological position. Why should we have to continually answer the call of "PROVE it to us!" They don't want it proven to them. They don't open their ears to hear, or their eyes to see the oppression of GLBT people in the church. I have had to educate MYSELF about this subject, they can, too. The bishops have the same resources (even more, I'll bet) than I do. They are intelligent and learned. But their hearts and minds are closed.

It is a two-way-street, and what do we do when the other party has no interest in learning or any further study?

The City #10

It is 11:44 and Jody Foster is coming to the podium. I look out the window and huge snow flakes are falling. Looking out the window, looking at this side of St. Paul's, across the street to Guido's Funeral Home, and looking down the street at the steeple of the Roman Catholic Church, it really is magical.

There is something about a snow fall in the city.

Safer Sex?

Well, maybe. After watching this I doubt few people would want to get close to the guy! Okay, be prepared, this is a bit off-color, but hilarious.

To change?

Bonnie Anderson, President of the House of Deputies of The Episcopal Church, comprising 800+ clergy and lay deputies and meeting with the House of Bishops every three years at the General Convention, the Church's governing body, has issued a statement in response to the Primates' Communiqué.

Here is a couple statements that I find particularly poignant:

Their Communiqué, however, raises profound and serious issues regarding their authority to require any member Church to take the types of specific actions the Communiqué contemplates and whether they have authority to enforce consequences or penalties against any member Church that does not act in a way they desire. The type of authority for the Primates implicit in the Communiqué would change not only the Episcopal Church but the essence of the Anglican Communion.

All Anglicans must remember that the second Lambeth Conference in 1878 recommended that "the duly certified action of every national or particular Church, and of each ecclesiastical province (or diocese not included in a province), in the exercise of its own discipline, should be respected by all the other Churches, and by their individual members."

This has been the tradition of the Anglican Communion. To demand strict uniformity of practice diminishes our Anglican traditions.

She used the word "recommended" rather than other words such as - "mandated," "declared," "established" – more in line with the Tradition of Anglicanism. Lambeth is not a body that establishes official doctrine for The Anglican Communion and all provincial Churches within it. It is not a "Curia" or a "Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith." This has been repeated over and over again as the factual and historical Tradition of Anglican governance, yet reactionaries against the decisions of the last two U.S. General Conventions keep pushing and pushing as if the bishops assembled at Lambeth had such power.

Of course, as their relentless drive to so establish Lambeth continues, it will become the de-facto decision making body with “authority” unless there are those with enough backbone to say, "NO, this is not what Anglicanism has been and this is not what Lambeth is!"

Cling to him and do not depart...

"My child, when you come to serve the Lord, prepare yourself for testing. Set your heart right and be steadfast, and do not be impetuous in time of calamity. Cling to him and do not depart, so that your last days may be prosperous. Accept whatever befalls you, and in times of humiliation be patient. For gold is tested in the fire, and those found acceptable, in the furnace of humiliation. Trust in him, and he will help you; make your ways straight, and hope in him. " - Ecclesiasticus

Our cultural icons

I was amazed and I-don't-know-what on Sunday and Monday when the cover story for two of New York's primary newspapers (tabloids that they tend to be, but still...) featured Britney Spears and her hair-cutting escapade. The newspapers said she was near an emotional breakdown.

I wonder what goes through the minds of the editors of these two newspapers - money, I suspect. To think, Britney Spears carries more weight than everything else going on in this city, this state, this country, and this world. What does this say about us?

I heard it said somewhere that historically when a culture began to be more concerned with entertaining itself and looking for constant distraction, well, that was the beginning of the end for that culture.

Britney has been elevated by - whom? - someone, some group, to be more important than the devastation of war, the horrid conditions that most of the world's children live in every day, the corruption of government and business, the new baby surviving against all odds, and so on.

This reminds me of the tragic death of Anna Nicole Smith. Diana Butler Bass wrote an outstanding short essay entitled, Paying Respects to Anna Nicole Smith on Jim Willis and friend's section of Beliefnet called, "God's Politics." Read it! . Really, go right now and read it this day before Lent! (See, you even have a really long link so you can't miss it...)

Subway Observation #4

On the subway this morning, I watched as a youngish man was talking to his female companion (or at least the woman standing next to him). He is a new father. You know the old joke - the man pulls out his wallet and out spills three feet of pictures of his kid, and he has to show you. The proud father!

This man did the same thing, but more in line with the technological times. He passed his cell-phone to his female companion and she skipped through all kinds of really cute snap-shots of the man's baby. Anyone could tell that if it were 20 years ago, he would have pulled out his wallet and three feet of pictures would have spilled out. He was a proud father.

How the "world" sees our wrangling

From The Living Church, via Titusonenine:

At the final press conference, the Most Rev. Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, said the meeting had damaged the church’s witness in the eyes of the world.

“Looking at the levels of human greed, terror and suffering around the world, it is difficult for people to have transformed views about the Anglican Communion when we have our own internal divisions,” he said as quoted by Episcopal News Service. “I do hope that people will bear the MDGs as the primary vision.”

I must agree with ++Rowan! We delude ourselves if we think the world will look upon all of our politicking and demands for uniform belief with respect, thinking, "oh, look at those principled and honorable people standing firm in their honest assertions of truth. I want to be part of them!" No, for the most part I think they see us as being out of touch with reality and the concerns of the world.

Draft Anglican Covenant

Here is the Primate's Final Communique and the draft of the proposed Anglican Covenant.

Go here for the final communique, which deal with The Episcopal Church a little more harshly.

The Anglican Covenant cover page begins:

Report of the Design Group
Introduction to the Draft Text of the Covenant
A Proposal for a Text of the Anglican Covenant

The Status of this Document
This document is the Report of the Covenant Design Group and includes a draft text for a possible Covenant proposed by the Design Group for discussion. It has not yet been officially adopted by any of the Instruments of Communion and is not offered for approval or authorization but released for wider consultation and debate. It was received and debated by the Joint Standing Committee and the Primates and changes are already proposed.

Read it here.

Download it in .pdf format here.

My initial take - well, it isn't bad. It makes me nervous when at any time I think I am giving over autonomy. It was VERY difficult for me to vow to obey my bishop. VERY difficult, but I did it with complete intent because this is how this Church conducts its affairs, and I believe that I am called to this Church at this time. So, I make my vow, and I mean it, despite how it makes me feel at times.

We are not really giving over any actual autonomy. The four Instruments of Communion will take on new responsibilities, and will be given new types of authority as we live into the Covenant. Of course, this is only the draft. I'm sure changes will be made.

It does sound more Evangelical/Protestant than Catholic, but there is room for both. It does seem to take on a more centralized point of reference concerning new teachings or interpretations of Scripture that may cause particular concern or trouble for other Provinces. There does not seem, however, to be a mechanism for the Instruments of Communion to attempt to force a particular point-of-view on another Province, except for the removal of the particular Church from the Communion. That can be done, now, so it isn't a big departure. Time will only tell what kind of authority is granted to the Instruments of Authority when such problems occur in the future.

If this is passed right now, I could live within it. The problems will come when my "living within it" does not match other peoples' definition of "living within it." Then, we are right back were we started.

Oranges, anyone?

There is an article in today's New York Times covering the ancient Lenten tradition of "pelting one's neighbors with oranges" found in Ivrea, Italy.

The carnival is a bizarre and messy affair and, like most everything in Italy, has a long story behind it. One version has it that feudal lords gave pots of beans to the poor, who began throwing the beans back into the streets out of disrespect for such meager charity.

But a far more interesting account tells of a population incited to rebellion by the violent act of a woman who, as the yarn goes, was only protecting her honor. That woman was Violetta, a young commoner who presented the head of the local tyrant — Marquis Raineri de Biandrate — to her fellow citizens from the castle balcony after he tried to steal her virginity on the eve of her wedding.

This practice of noblemen claiming a right to enjoy a betrothed woman before her husband did was certainly not exclusive to this place. But it is said to have been exercised quite regularly by that marquis, much to the chagrin of the women and their families. The citizens, empowered by Violetta’s defiance, stormed the castle and burned it to the ground.

The carnival is rich in costumes, music and symbolism. The oranges of the Ivrea battles represent the head of the marquis. The pulp and juice are his blood.

“It’s a festival that represents the people against any type of oppressive power,” said Roberto Vola, 43, as he tried to speak over the roll of kettle-drums and the blare of techno music.

Now, this may be a stretch, but it got me thinking about "nation building" and our attempts to establish democracies in Afghanistan and Iraq. Admittedly, both efforts are still in effect and the end results will not be realized for a while yet. So, there yet may be success as defined by the U.S. administration.

This story of throwing oranges points to a consideration: freedom must be won by those who will experience or live within such freedom. These Italian towns people of antiquity rose up and fought the marquis and rebelled against the status quo of oppression. Most examples of the establishment of democracy show that the local populations rose up against the oppressors and forged a new social and political world for themselves.

Now, I've heard it said that places like Japan and Germany are examples of nation states where democracy was "imposed" upon the populous for their own benefit. Well, that may be true as it goes, but these places were utterly destroyed during WWII. Germany already had some experience with democratic processes. Japan was an extremely hierarchical social system and if the emperor said this is how it was going to be, then that is how it was. The emperor surrendered to the Allies, and the American's institute a new democratic system quite contrary to the people's experience.

This has not happened in Afghanistan or Iraq. For these two regions to move into democratic systems, they will have to win it by their own initiative. We cannot impose it upon them because of their own cultural realities. They have never known democratic processes. The Taliban will probably take back control of much of Afghanistan, regrettably. I heard last night that the Taliban are now bombing girls schools in an attempt to stop the education of females (which was official policy when they ruled the country). Iraqis needed to rebel against Hussein themselves.

They need to start throwing their own oranges.

This may mean many more years of oppression and there are things we can do to help the locals, but we cannot do it for them.

Common is some places

This, from a recent online article from The Living Church (an independent Episcopal news magazine) covering yesterday's Sunday Eucharist for the Anglican Primates meeting at Christ Church Cathedral in Zanzibar:

Over 600 worshippers packed the Cathedral, built in 1878 on the site of Zanzibar's former slave market in Stone Town. Archbishop Williams served as preacher, Archbishop Donald Mtetemela of Tanzania served as celebrant and the bishops of Zanzibar and Dar es Salaam served as deacon and sub-deacon in the elaborate Anglo-Catholic service which was conducted in both English and Swahili.

In high ritual style, Archbishop Mtetemela sung the liturgy, as clouds of incense arose from a censer held by the former Archbishop of Zanzibar, John Rahamdhani. The altar service reflected an ecclesial style seldom seen in The Episcopal Church, with copes, maniples, zucchettos and other finery. Yellow roses covered the front of the altar and much of the cathedral in honor of Quinquagesima Sunday."

(emphasis mine)

Well, they are right, this kind of thing is seldom seen in The Episcopal Church these days, except for the cadre of High-Church and Anglo-Catholic parishes that are faithfully making their way forward. The overall Church, however, is far more high-church (high-ritual or "Catholic") than it was 40 years ago! There are those who say that Anglo-Catholics "won the battle but lost the war," meaning that a good bit of the style of high-worship has been adopted by the wider church (Eucharist every Sunday, sung Eucharist, vestments, etc.), but all the depth behind why Anglo-Catholics worship they way they do has not - some say "style over substance." Of course, only certain things have made the transition to the wider Church, as the clip above suggests.

At my parish, St. Paul's Church on Carroll St. in Brooklyn, we see and we wear such things as copes, maniples, cassocks, amices, and albs. We also have incense and sanctus bells. We genuflect during the appropriate part of the Creed, and all that. This seems so odd that I would be doing such things, coming from my Evangelical upbringing.

I've thought a lot about when I am called to a particular church with a free-standing ("west-facing") altar where I face the people. I don't want to be and should not be the center of attention, and I think facing the people causes that to happen. The people's attention moves from being aware of all that is happening from the heavenlies on down to their individual hearts, to what the priest is doing with his/her hands.

I will certainly celebrate on a west-facing altar, but I might have to explain that during times such as Lent that I think I will have to face east with my back to the people. For me, particularly during penitential times, I cannot face the people as if I am separated from them, standing behind the altar. I am one of them and like them, a sinner, and with them all I must face symbolic East towards the source of our forgiveness, freedom, reconciliation, and peace. I don't know how that will go over.

This high-ritual style of worship is considered a throwback by many of those "in the know" of TEC. "Anglo-Catholicism" has also developed a reputation in the U.S. as being reactionary and angry, very much opposed to the ordination of women and the like. This is not our Anglo-Catholic parish nor most of the others I know of. I've come across the good Fathers and parishioners who do fit that bill, however. Frankly, from what I read and experience, a new interest in and a rebirth of ritual can be seen in other religions like Judaism and within civil society in general.

What I read regarding demographic trends particularly among young people, this kind of "church" is a big draw. There is a desire for that which is ancient, tried and true, not trendy, and for a return of mystery. To many young people, the language of God sounds like Rite I old English, looks like traditional church architecture, is represented by clergy who look and act the part, and ritual that is contemplative and not anthropocentric. We see it in our congregation - younger people make up the majority of visitors.

We have something very much in common with our fellow Anglicans in Zanzibar.

The world goes on...

My senior year in high school the yearbook (or newspaper?) took a survey of the seniors - most likely to do this, most likely to be that. I was voted most likely to be president. I loved politics - mostly international affairs.

When I was in jr. high I had the paper route in my neighborhood. It was just right for a jr. high kid. I had to give it up when I entered high school because of marching band. I was a percussionist, later to become a saxophonist. Anyway, so I would read the newspaper as I went on my route. I would get home and watch the NBC and ABC nightly news shows, and finish it off with the McNeal Lehrer News Hour on PBS. I was in jr. high. I haven't admitted that to anyone in a very long time.

It didn't get much better in high school, although I didn't have much time for news programs - too busy with other stuff. I became a Social Studies teacher.

Just to prove I wasn't absolutely a total freak, I also was voted one of the most "watchable" guys in school my senior year. Yup, that was me, breaking young girl's hearts all over the place. All wasted. Of course, I got picked on, too. I wasn't the most "sportlick," as they say in Germany.

I was also voted most likely to become a reverend.

I became a "reverend" - a priest to be exact (never refer to an Episcopal priest as "reverend").

Well, I love politics and I'm a priest. So, politics in Church is, well, it gives me goose bumps.

As an academic exercise it is very interesting to watch the power plays and the scheming and the conniving and the spin and all that. In the Church. It is sad, isn't it?

I am always brought back to the 'cure of souls.' That is what I need to be focusing on, not ecclesial brinkmanship. It is too easy to get lost in the battles and the accusations and the misrepresentations of the truth. It is too easy to forget the fact that the world sees all this and runs away. And, I don't really blame them. I wish they could get past the news reports and blog entries.

The life situations of real people - rich or poor, white or black, male or female, straight or gay, this or that - continue on. Life is hard all the way around. It is particularly hard, almost impossible in fact, for the people of most of the rest of the world. And we watch and participate in the crass politics and power plays of this Church and Communion while the real world goes on and tries to get by - a world moving further away from God.

I have a vestry meeting to get to. We welcome the new members today. Life goes on...

iPod Shuffle - 2:00 pm

Life goes on, and listening to music helps.

1. Moby, Lift Me Up, from 'Hotel (Disk 1)'
2. U2, A Man & A Woman, from 'How To Dismantle A Bomb'
3. Cowboy Junkies, How To Explain, from 'Best of The Cowboy Junkies'
4. Dashboard Confessional, Hey Girl, from 'A Mark, A Mission...'
5. Underworld, Dark and Long, from 'Dubnobasswithmyheadman'
6. Lone Justice, Reflected (On My Side), from 'Shelter'
7. 'Till Tuesday, No One Is Watching You Now, from 'Welcome Home'
8. Lise Loeb, I Do, from 'Firecracker'
9. Susan Cagle, Stay, from 'The Subway Recordings'
10. Moby, Another Woman, from '18'

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

Nice addition

The Cartoon Blog has some great cartoons about the Primates Meeting.

They didn't show

Primates from Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, Southeast Asia, the Southern Cone, Uganda, and West Africa refused to take communion with the U.S. Primate, Katherine Jefferts-Shori.

Here is their press release found on the Nigerian Church's website. A press release, to announce that your not taking communion with someone?

Only seven! I think that is significant. It isn't a unified "Global South" undertaking.

Here is an option...

If you've been keeping up with the statements from around the globe concerning the doings and goings on at the Anglican Primates Conference, then you are privy to a interesting process. (Check Titusonenine and Thinking Anglicans for the most current updates.) The "reasserts" are not at all happy, at least at the time of this posting. Just a few days ago, the sub-committee that was charged with evaluating The Episcopal Church's response to the Windsor Report was being hailed as the point of condemnation for the current liberal leadership of TEC. Now, since the sub-committee's report didn't say what the "reasserters" wanted it to say, the more radical elements are revealing their true nature.

When I was doing my graduate work at Kent State University in College Student Development (an obscure degree), I had an Assistantship working for the Office of Campus Life. Campus Life, among other things, coordinated all the different student organizations on this campus of 23,000 students. One of my responsibilities was to help oversee the Student Activities Board (SAB), which brought educational and entertainment programming to campus. They had a nice budget of almost $200,000.

Next to the SAB office was the office for the primary African-American student organization - Black United Students (BUS). We co-mingled a lot. Ideological differences ebbed and flowed within BUS as the years rolled on. At times they were quite radical in a "Nation of Islam" kind of way, and at times they were a bit more "mainstream." I was looking for a Bible at one point and walked into their office and asked the folks present if anyone had a Bible. The response by one of the officers was, "Why the hell would we have that racist and evil book in here?" Okay...

BUS encouraged its members to be a part of SAB, which was a good thing (and still is). One particular BUS member was chair of the committee that brought in live entertainment. I oversaw her committee. She told me once that the then Bush, Sr., administration was actively engaged in attempting to eradicate the black race. I asked her if she really, honestly, thought that the Cabinet sat around and strategized about how they could get rid of all the black people. We couldn't even agree on the meaning of English words, since all the dictionaries are written by white people, and were naturally racists and prejudiced against black people.

Of course I challenged her on these things and she really hadn't that ability to make a reasoned response. (Then again, "reason" is a white construct and blacks didn't have to abide by the concepts of white devils.) Some members in BUS where used to cowering guilt-ridden-white-pseudo-liberals, and I was not any of those things. We functioned together, but that was as close as we got. Generally, I liked her, but she was in a particular stage in her development that made her not very pleasant to be around, at least for the devil white folk.

Now, part of my education in College Student Development dealt with all kinds of personality theories and scales and paradigms and stages of development and all that. There was one particular scale - the Stages of Minority Development (don't remember what theorists put it together) - that proved to be pretty accurate, as least in my dealings with my advisee and her cohorts.

One evening after we completed a show - Adam Sandler when he was really hot - I asked my advisee and her right-hand-girl how they thought it went. My advisee's right-hand-girl was particularly radical in her view of the evil and satanic white race, literally snarled and told me that it was a failure, ridiculous, and pathetic (it was their committee’s idea to bring Adam to campus, by the way). It did nothing for black people and was worthless. They had to spend all this money (the black people's money) on worthless events to entertain white people. Now, a few thousand people of all different hues showed up. It was actually quite successful and the committee did a great job. So, I asked why she thought that.

I sat there in the "Lost Leader Lounge" (a big open lounge area into which all the student offices spilled) with my advisee and her right-hand-girl for the next hour and a half while the right-hand-girl went off on me and parroted the "party line" of the more radical part of the black-liberation, all-blacks-are-decedents-of-Egyptian-kings-and-queens, Louis-Farrakhan-whites-are-the-devil kind of thinking. She was obviously in State 3.

Well, she just became more and more extreme as her rant went on (I was a captive white who represented the white power structure of KSU that was putting down the black race - the opportunity was not going to be lost); she finally just went over the top. My advisee at that point stopped her, and our "conversation" was over. Other SAB committee students were furtively walking through the lounge and appealing to our staff supervisor to "save me." My supervisor simply told them that, "He can take care of himself." I'm sure to her it was a good learning experience for me. She was right. I really just sat still and quiet and took it all, a bit surprised and amazed, to say the least.

My point is - the irrational nature that is inherent in radical movements will eventually become apparent. This is happening within our Anglican family right now. The radical “liberals” are showing their hand and most people reject them. The radical “conservatives” are showing their hand in Tanzania right now, and most people will reject them. They will always be myopic.

What I think we should do is simply step back and let the radicals reveal their true natures and watch the whole think blow up - we can watch them self-destruct, just like my advisee's right-hand-girl before my advisee wisely stop her. At some point, their true intent and inner issues are revealed quite apart from the good PR work they engage in.

It's just an option. The only problem is the carnage that is left behind after everything falls apart. And, as a priest who is charged with the cure of souls of all people, and as a person trained in personal development issues, it is very difficult to just to sit back and watch. I want to help people develop well! I want to help people avoid the personal carnage that always results from such radically charged beliefs and incidents. Radicals, however, hardly ever receive from anyone they oppose or who does not prove that they already agree.

Responses:

The reactions and responses have begun. I do not intend to attempt to post all such responses - go to Thanking Anglicans or Titusonenine for that.

Ruth Gledhill, The Times Religion Correspondent. I love the picture posted on her entry - a nuclear mushroom cloud behind Canterbury Cathedral(?).

"'Chilling,' is how Kendall Harmon described it, warning that schism now was even closer than before."

And

"The members of the committee set up to look at this under the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams were the Archbishop of Central Africa Bernard Malango, the Archbishop of Wales Barry Morgan (one of three Primates not in Tanzania), Chancellor Philippa Amable, Province of West Africa and Canon Elizabeth Paver of the Church of England. It is interesting that Elizabeth Paver is a highly-respected General Synod member but extremely orthodox and an opponent even of the ordination of women priests. If she is on the group and the group has decreed that TEC has passed muster, I reckon that is pretty significant." (emphasis mine)

Personal Note

I have been living under a cloud ever since General Convention '03. My priestly formation in seminary occurred under this cloud. The cloud comprises trepidation towards what this wonderful thing I've discovered - this Anglican way of the Christian faith - will become, frustration that reactionaries are attempting to force their way upon everyone else (liberal and conservative), and fear that we as TEC will cease to be part of something greater than ourselves. I was ordained a priest in the One Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church and at least for now I will remain so (yes, yes, yes, I know that the Churches of Rome and Constantinople do not recognize our Holy Orders!, but they don't recognize each other's, either. We recognize them both.)

This is the first time that I feel a bit of relief! I still don't know what will happen, but for the first time in four years, I feel hopeful.

Here is the sub-committee's report on their evaluation of TEC's response to The Windsor Report during the 75th General Convention in Columbus, Ohio this past summer.

Major points:

On the expression of regret:

"The group was unsure how these words should be understood. On the one hand, there does not seem to be any admission of the fact that the action of consenting to the particular election at the centre of this dispute was in itself blameworthy. On the other, there is the use of the strong language of “apology” and the request for “forgiveness”. These words are not lightly offered, and should not be lightly received. Taken with the apparent promise not to repeat the offence (Resolution B033 discussed above) we believe that the expression of regret is sufficient to meet the request of the primates."

On the Election of Bishops living in situations contrary to Lambeth 1.10:

"The group believes therefore that General Convention has complied in this resolution with the request of the Primates."

On Public Rites of Same-sex Blessings:

"It is therefore not at all clear whether, in fact, the Episcopal Church is living with the recommendations of the Windsor Report on this matter. The Primates in their statement of March 2003 did admit that there could be “a breadth of private response to individual pastoral care”, but it is clear that the authorisation by any one bishop, diocese or Province, of any public Rite of Blessing, or permission to develop or use such a rite, would go against the standard of teaching to which the Communion as a whole has indicated that it is bound. We do not see how bishops who continue to act in a way which diverges from the common life of the Communion can be fully incorporated into its ongoing life. This is therefore a question which needs to be addressed urgently by the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church."

From what I've been reading over the last several months, I don't think many "reasserters" will be happy with this document. We will have to wait and see what they say.

A note of caution:

"The Group feels that the reality of the change of direction that some see in the resolutions of the General Convention can only be tested however by the way in which the Episcopal Church lives out these resolutions. "

This is very true! What, in fact, will we do?

This is a killer for so many:

"It is also clear that it is not only those who have expressed their strong disassociation from the decisions of the 74th General Convention in 2003 who have a commitment to the life of the Communion."

So many have been saying so strongly that the leadership of TEC has already removed itself from the A.C. and that the 75th General Convention spoke loudly that this Church no longer wishes to remain in the communion. The sub-committee recognizes that this is simply not the case.

In the Afterward, is this referencing those provinces and those primates who are trespassing on provincial and diocesan boundaries as they've attempted to set up their own jurisdictions in the U.S. and Canada?

"We recognise that the Windsor Report was addressed to the whole of the Anglican Communion. This report has been concerned with the response by the Episcopal Church to that Report. We understand that the Anglican Church of Canada is in the process of preparing its response. We have to express our concern that other recommendations of the Windsor Report, addressed to other parts of the Communion, appear to have been ignored so far."

Kendall Harmon, Canon Theologian of the Diocese of South Carolina and progenitor of Titusonenine, has posted what he would say to the Primates in Tanzania if he were there. You can read it on T19 or over at Stand Firm. The 'comments' are not working properly at T19, so Kendall suggests going over to Stand Firm.

There are two points with which I must disagree with Kendall, at least as I interpret his intentions within his essay. These two points are not about theology or moral opinion regarding homosexuality or Scriptural interpretation, but about what we are doing. (First of all, I want to concede that Kendall's mental acuity is far above mine, and he is far more “in the know” than I am.)

1. He attempts to establish that the official theological teaching and position of the Anglican Communion beyond the Creeds and the First Four Ecumenical Councils resides in the Lambeth Conference of Anglican Bishops. He implies, and believes I think, that the resolutions passed at Lambeth conferences establish the official teaching of the Anglican Communion.

2. He attempts to establish that all provinces, really all Anglican ecclesiastical entities, are bound to obey the opinions of the bishops reflected by majority vote in the final Lambeth resolutions. The implication is that the bishops are now bound to uphold and enforce those resolutions despite their own personal positions.

My response is that it is unAnglican to view Lambeth as a body that establishes the official teaching of the Communion. Lambeth has never been a Magisterium, as in the Roman Church. In addition, according to my understanding it has never been the expectation that all resolutions of Lambeth are “gospel” and must be obeyed by all Anglicans.

Finally, if the “reasserters” are rebelling against the ecclesial structures of TEC and against majority votes of TEC’s General Conventions made by bishops, clergy, and laity in order to protect a minority of “truly faithful” against abuse by the majority, then why is it wrong for TEC or the ACofC to rebel against Lambeth resolutions in order to protect the minority of gay people against abuse by the majority across the Communion, particularly in places like Nigeria? If rebellion is the rule of the day, then the U.S. and Canadian churches (as well as many other provinces) “rebellion” against Lambeth should be permitted for the sake of consistency. If “truth” is established by a majority vote (like some suggest of bishops at Lambeth), then why is “truth” not established by a majority vote within TEC’s General Conventions – the governing body that sets policy and doctrine for TEC? (“truth” with a little “t”, not “Truth”)

Well, there is such a thing as a "tyranny of the majority," and I've seen it expressed against conservatives in TEC and now I'm seeing it expressed against TEC and ACoC by the majority within the Communion. Do we really want these kinds of things settled by a majority vote? There is a reason why we do not live in a pure democracy in the U.S.!

Former Archbishop of Canterbury Carey states:

"And that is the true purpose of Lambeth Conference. It represents a pause, a staging post, where we are refreshed in spirit (and body and mind too, I hope) for the next stage of our journey. It marks a stage in the life of our Communion. And it marks a stage in our own personal journeys. So, what are the things that will you take out into the next stage of your own journey, your Diocese's journey and your Province's journey?

I hope you will take a keen awareness that you are not alone. You belong to a great family of God, and here you have come face to face with brothers and sisters from all over the world as we have spoken, prayed, eaten and worshipped together in the intimacy of that family."

(from Carey's final sermon at the last Lambeth)

Martin Smith SSJE, in a talk reporting on the last Lambeth Conference given to the monastery at Cambridge:

" Most of you know that the Lambeth Conferences are gatherings of the bishops of the Anglican Communion summoned by the Archbishop of Canterbury every ten years since the 1860s. The name derives from Lambeth Palace, the Archbishop's London residence, where they used to meet. The Conferences now take place in Canterbury. The purpose of the Conferences is for consultation. The bishops cannot legislate for the Anglican Communion or override the autonomy of the provinces. Any teaching or conclusions passed by the assembly has only an advisory character. The purpose of the Conferences has been to provide a means for periodic stocktaking of the evolving condition of world-wide Anglicanism. The reports that have been issued over the years have seldom had any earthshaking impact but they have supplied every decade current models of Anglican theological reflection so that Anglicans and Christians of other traditions can get a handle on our style of Christian witness.

"I was present not only as support for Bishop Tom Shaw SSJE, as the head of his monastic household, but as a member of the team of chaplains who were available to the conference pastorally and to help practically with the liturgies."


(Anglicans Online)

Lambeth is a time when the Bishops of the Communion gather for fellowship and to work out among themselves issues and concerns realized around the Communion. They do express their common mind, established by majority vote in a democratic fashion. There are not unanimous opinions/votes held by and agreed to by all bishops.

It is unAnglican to demand that Lambeth is a body given authority to establish the official teaching of the Communion. Lambeth is not an Anglican Magisterium, or at least it has never been. There are those who want to make it so. The only reason the attempt to establish Lambeth to be such an authority is because of convenience - they agree with Lambeth 1.10 (or at least the first part of it). If the vote had been different or if a couple of the sections were missing, they would not be appealing to Lambeth as an authority. And, do not be mistaken, if in the future the tide turns and by majority vote Lambeth begins to vote against them, they will repudiate Lambeth!

At this point and for the purposes of my response to Kendall, this has nothing to do with whether the individual points in Lambeth 1.10 are agreed to or not, my response is about what we are attempting to make the Communion to be and what it has always been. They are two different things.

Finally, as I am understanding Kendall, he is trying to establish that all Anglican ecclesiastical bodies are required to obey Lambeth resolutions. Again, this has never been the case. Lambeth may well express the "mind of the Communion," but really it expressed the minds of the bishops assembled. Now, yes, we are a Catholic church and the bishops are the points of unity, but we are a Reformed Catholic church, and the responsibility of determining what the Communion is and what it believes and does has never rested with the Bishops only, particularly with the Primates. Individual provinces may have an authority structure that rests all decisions with the bishops, and that is their right as Anglicans, but Communion wide it has never been.

Again, I think those who are demanding ejection from the Communion of the American and Canadian churches if they don't repudiate what they have done are attempting to establish the decisions of primates and bishops as the final authority out of convenience - the numbers are on their side. If the votes go a different way in Tanzania or subsequence international meetings, they will not abide by those decisions. Their convictions are true, and I can respect them! As an Anglican, however, I cannot accept their attempt to force their perspective upon everyone else and punish those who offer resistance.

What it really does come down to, in my opinion, is a rebellion against those who have decided that the Tradition needs to rethink the issue of homosexuality. They are striving mightily to maintain the Tradition as it is – as what they believe is God’s will.

Some places have gone too far too quickly in pushing the issue or acting prematurely in a typically unilateral and arrogant American way, in my opinion. But, the reaction of those who are opposed to all same-sex relationships, period, are going far to far in their attempts to make the Anglican Communion into something that it has never been. The purpose is to enforce their particular theological perspective(s) and Scriptural interpretation(s), particularly concerning the homosexual issue.

Global South

Very good piece on the coming impact of the Global South on the work of theology and praxis - a call to come into their own.

The Long Road to Full Inheritance: Anglican Communion, Anno Domini 2007
By: Dr Michael Poon

His statement, “We can only work for the theological well-being of the Communion if we are able to offer our independent theological contribution.” is very interesting.

My guess is that when the “Global South” truly brings their intelligence and cultures and experiences to bear on the work of theology, what they come up with will not sit very well with many Americans - and with those American Anglicans who are now aligning themselves with the Global South. As Americans, generally, it is very difficult for us to understand the strong significance of culture upon our understanding of everything - the “rose colored glasses” we all wear tend to distort.

What the Global South theological endeavor will do is re-orient theology and praxis in ways we Americans can hardly imagine. I look forward to it, because it will be very different than what we have come to expect as being the very “Christian” way. Most of what we think, now, is mostly American and Western and not particular Christ-centered (despite what we want to think, from both conservative and liberal viewpoints).

What will happen when suddenly Global South theology and praxis look very different from what Americans expect and want?

God's Covenant - a big amen!

You've got to read this! All the crap we will be hearing over the next few days from the Anglican Communion's Primates Meeting in Tanzania, and then this essay comes forth.

From: The Christian Century | Date: 1/9/2007 | Author: van Driel, Edwin Chr.

God's covenant

"'You did not choose me but I chose you' (John 15:16). As a church we are called, formed, judged and renewed not by our own choices, but only by God."

Quotes: The work of theology

"Theology is not simply reiteration of what has been or is currently believed and practiced by a community of faith. It is a quest for truth, and that presupposes that the proclamation and practice of the community of faith are always in need of examination and reform. When this responsibility for critical reflection is neglected or relegated to a merely ornamental role the faith of the community is invariably threatened by shallowness, arrogance, or ossification. The upsurge in fundamentalism in Christianity and Islam in recent years may yet persuade even the cultured despisers of religion, for good or for ill, religious commitment continues to exercise immense influence on human life."

Daniel Migliore, Faith Seeking Understanding

What the "world" sees

Ruth Gledhill from the British Times Online wrote a commentary this past weekend.

This one sentence is, well, the most important in my mind:

“Sometimes I just wish the Anglican hierarchy could step back and consider for a minute how all this looks to the outside world.”

I’m getting up on a righteous indignation soap-box, so get ready…

This whole situation is just so very sad. People from the right and the left yell, and yell, and yell about being all righteous and verbally attack and verbally attempt to kill their opponents with one more rhetorical jab, all the while the world looks on and says, “Yes, we are justified in ignoring the Church and believing it no longer offers anything much important for a good life.”

If the very people who claim to love Jesus so much (conservative or liberal) will not listen to the very command of Jesus to love our neighbors (in this case, simply sit down at a friggin’ table with a neighbor), or abide by the even more demanding, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…”, then why should any non-Christian listen to us?

Why should they see the hope of Christ in us? Most have already spoken - they don’t! Christians church-hop, and when they do one group or another claims God’s divine approval of their position because at the moment they have the most “already-decided” bodies in their pews. Those floundering “in the world” don’t bother looking our way any longer. How sad that we so defame the Mystical Body of Christ in the eyes of the lost by our childish antics!

Frankly, the “worldlings” probably shouldn’t look to us, because we are as screwed-up as secular society! Lord have mercy. Oh, God, please have mercy!

I’m getting off my soap-box, now.

Talk, talk, talk...

There is so much talk, talk, talk that has turned into debate that has turned in accusation that has turned into screams of heresy, perversion, and The Episcopal Church being "apostate," "anti-Christ," "gross," "rank," "corrupt," "vile," "non-Christian," "putrid," "evil," and on and on and on. The Anglican Primates meeting next week in Tanzania is set to bring all this to the forefront of our attention, even while millions of African babies starve to death. Too many people make a lot of noise before knowing the truth – too many would rather not know the truth.

Many of those who are leaving The Episcopal Church and are quoted in the media like to spasm and spit and decry the Church for ushering in a "new religion" and attempting to redefine Christianity with "new theologies" and that this Church is no longer Christian. Various people rightfully ask, "What are you talking about? What is this 'new religion' of The Episcopal Church?" It is so easy to default into using such vague and terrible sounding phraseology, particularly when called upon to give specific examples. Father Jake has rightly said that for the most part, it is a lot of baring false witness.

Well, despite what many angst ridding people want to claim, what The Episcopal Church officially believes is clear. We only have to look in The Book of Common Prayer. There we will find the official teachings of this Church. I well can live within these teachings. I don't see how anyone can call these teachings contrary to orthodox Christian belief.

We, as the Episcopal Church, do have a problem with discipline within our ranks. It is one thing to call for a re-examination of the teachings and traditions of the Church and another thing to take upon our individual selves the right to make changes unilaterally. Too many people and groups want to do their own thing, and this is not the traditional ecclesial practice of Anglicanism or Episcopalianism, although it is very American and very Congregationalist.

The writings and comments and callings of people who have developed a different belief system are their own opinions and are not the official teachings of The Episcopal Church! It is too easy to point to people whose opinions are different from our own and call them names when we have too difficult a time with the Anglican tradition of comprehensiveness of theological opinions within one Church. It is even easier to point to a few who have heterodoxy opinions of the faith and generalize to the whole Church when we want to try to prove how evil are our opponents, but it is not honest. It is not honest! It is hypocritical! It is wrong. Leave if you must – liberal or conservative – but stop engaging in the sin of baring false witness!

Now, I will be the first to say that I think there are those who claim themselves Episcopalians who have developed a belief system or a theology that bares little resemblance to historic and traditional Christian belief. I will be the first to say that this Church, generally, is more liberal than I am comfortable with. I will also say that a theology that focuses too much on the outward expressions of the faith without having a primary focus on the internal transformation that enlivens and fires-up the faithful for the doing of good works is mistaken and in the end will not meet the deep and continuing longing of people. It is about Jesus, after all. (Isn’t it easy to make such statements?!) But, what I do with all that is very important as I strive to live the life Christ calls me to live.

If I look at all the Episcopalians around me who claim to be seeking God and God's will, and if I believe their words - give them the benefit of the doubt - then I think we are in the same boat. We may disagree strongly, but unless I want to claim that my group holds all truth and understanding, then I cannot engage in what so many people love doing these days - making accusations that others are anti-Christian or want to force upon us a new religion, etc. If I make such stringent accusations then I am putting myself in the place of God; I am claiming to know the true intentions of their hearts; I am claiming to be the arbiter of all truth, when I myself am but a sinner and confused and blind and yet still seeking.

Why do we have a need to attempt to force other people to agree with us? I don' know, but we do, and this works itself out in our trying to diminish or repudiate or call evil those who refuse to agree with us. This is where we are right now in The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion. It results in all kinds talk, talk, talk and of wild accusations and generalizations and fear mongering and baring false witness as we jockey for power and the enforcement of our opinion for everyone else.

It really needs to stop. We really need to be disciplined. We really need to be more Christian and less American. We really need to get back to Anglicanism and loving God and loving our neighbor as ourselves and saying what is truthful and not what is expedient as we try to get people on our side.

Apophatic description

You know, these days in the Church I feel like I have to describe myself apophatically, and I get tired of it. It is no fun always having to distinguish what one is not!

UPDATE: It seems the guy (or gal?) who wrote the statement below may be something other than he seems. Don't know...

----
I was reading a blog this moring - Drell's Descants - and came across this comment. How is this for a good Anglican attitude?

Is there any wonder why I cannot go back to American-Evangelicalism, even as it is now so equally expressed within Anglican-Evangelicalism? I don't know, maybe he is meaning to be ironic or something.

Here he is, commenting within the context of The Episcopal Church and a possible rebuke this Church may face at the upcoming Primates Meeting ------

Comment by Sinner — 2/8/2007 @ 5:58 pm

To late to late to late for the Heretics and Pagans and Child-Killers and Homosexuals!!

They did not listen to the testimony of the living, and now they cannot benefit from the testimony of the DEAD. They have spat upon the sign of Joshua, and the sign of Lazarus would do them no benefit.

We pray that the Primates will throw ECUSA out!
We pray that ECUSA will be consumed in lawsuits!

We pray that every Bishop who has not now today chosen Christ;
we pray that every Priest and layperson who supports the new faith

will be cast down, and destroryed, will be left destitute, and their families left to beg on the street with no medical cover or health insurance or pensions from a spiritually bankrupt ECUSA

we pray all these things out of love
that they may suffer in this life
so that those who have not yet comitted the unforgiveable blasphemny
calling blessed what Chirist has cursed eternally - may yet be saved
and that for those whom have blasphemed, whom Christ has cursed, whom forgiveness cannot reach may soon be broken down to be a sign until the end of times

I just don't know

I started writing an entry yesterday about how conflicted I am these days. I have said from the beginning of my Episcopalian experience that I don't know where I fit in this Church. I'm not a reactionary (having left that "party" when I left my little part of American-Evangelicalism).

I was okay not knowing where I fit because within Anglicanism the point of focus seemed to be where one is headed, not necessarily where one has been or where one presently finds oneself - at least this has been my experience. Now, well, not knowing where I fit is a bit more complicated.

The unpleasantness that has plagued Anglicanism over the past six years in particular, and really the last twenty years or so in the making, has pushed me to the point of real conflict over who I agree with, how I go about being this thing called an Anglican priest, whether there even can be a place for me in the new configurations of this Church that have been forced upon it over the last six years. We are becoming something that has never been before within Anglicanism and while that isn't necessarily a bad thing, the means by which the change is forced by both reactionary conservatives and reactionary liberals is simply not right. It is a sad reflection of our arrogant and self-centered American selves.

Our Church is confirming the perceived American attitude of, "We are an independent Church and we can do whatever we want, and if you don't like it or it causes you problems or pain or angst, too bad. We're Americans and we can do whatever we want and justify it however we want." We may be the Church, but we are oh so American.

I'm conflicted because I have come to believe through my study of Scripture, prayer, and trying to know as much as I can about the subject as I can, that it can be within God's permissive will that not all same-sex relationships are forbidden. I believe that a gay person can be bishop, if his/her manner of life is held to the same standard of fidelity, honesty, respect, and mutuality as is expected of a straight person. Yet, the way the American Church leadership has handled the opposition to a gay-person-in-a-relationship being consecrated a Bishop has been typical of how Americans handle any world conflict these days. We do want we want to do and to hell with the opposition no matter the consequences.

We act unilaterally. We act selfishly and without regard to the real issues other nations and cultures have to deal with. I cannot defend this kind of behavior. It isn't that I disagree with the leadership's belief that faithful gay people should be included in every aspect of the Church, but I disagree with their reasoning, their forms of justification, and the way they deal with the rest of the world. They have become something inconsistent with traditional Anglicanism.

I disagree with the way they are behaving!

Likewise, I, frankly, agree with a lot of what the "conservatives" uphold as the Christian faith. I am what most people would call an orthodox believer. I can say the Creeds without hesitation or reinterpretation. I am not a Universalist because I believe to be so removes from the equation personal choice - it removes free-will as a characteristic of humankind, made in the image of God, able to accept or reject God. I believe that God has provided a way for the world's relief and for reconciliation and peace between God and creation and between humankind, and it is through the unique work of Jesus Christ that reconciliation and peace are realized. (I reject the notion, however, that the Holy Spirit cannot work through non-Christians or even through other religions, but it is always to bring people around to the unique figure of Jesus the Christ.)

Yet, I cannot condone the arrogance, the pride, the bearing false witness, the underhanded conniving and scheming, the lying, and the determination to force their particular opinion upon everyone else, and if those other people resist they will be cast into outer darkness. I cannot place myself with these people, even if I do agree with them on many points of faith and practice. They have become something other than consistent and traditional Anglicans.

I disagree with the way they are behaving!

You know, this whole behavior, or "right-doing," thing just keeps coming up over and over again - this notion of orthopraxis. Any of us may believe exactly the right thing, but the way behave certainly puts us in a whole different (what?) environment/place/position/situation/ball game... I like James! I think we are going to study it during Lent.

A faithful gay person in a faithful relationship should be considered as a candidate for the episcopate just like any faithful straight person. Yet, we Americans after hearing the pleas of, really, most of the rest of the Anglican Communion and world Christianity to wait, said we are going to do it regardless of what anyone else thinks. How is this attitude any different than the attitude of the Bush administration's determination to go into Iraq despite the pleas of most of the rest of the world?

I believe the Holy Spirit is doing a new thing among us with regard to gay people, but we are not yet able to see just what the outcome will be according to His will. We cannot attempt to corral the Holy Spirit, as if because we claim His name over our particular wants or actions that we are then right and it is in fact a move of the Holy Spirit or as a justification for anything we do that is innovative! Acting "prophetically" does not mean "doing something new or controversial."

The American Church needs to be chastised and rebuked due to our arrogance. The American Church needs to be brought back into line with the mainstream of Catholic/Reformed Christianity. The American Church should still play the very important role of advocate for change, but within the context of mutuality. And, yes, there does come the point when one group or province needs to step out - I just think the way we did it and the timing was and still is wrong. We are not behaving well.

And, I am conflicted, terribly.

So, I am a "conservative," but not a reactionary one. I am a "progressive," but not a reactionary one. I am an advocate for change, but change is not the purpose - change for changes sake is pointless. Advocacy for change in the Christian context always needs to begin with the move into an ever-deeper relationship with God through Jesus Christ, period. IMHO. What I want is to find people who can disagree on theology and piety and argue and debate and still love each other - who can be true Anglicans - and who will behave like Christ calls us to behave!

They just don't get it...

I attended the book signing event last night for Presiding Bishop Katherine's new book A Wind and a Prayer at the Episcopal Church Center's new "Catalyst Cafe & Book Store." I ran into an departmental official of the Episcopal Church who I know slightly. We talked.

This official made the comment that whenever +Katherine enters a room, her presence is noticed. A quite and confident presence. You know these kinds of people. I think she does have that kind of presence. I got my book signed.

The official made a statement about the upcoming Primates meeting in Tanzania next week. There is great controversy in anticipation of the meeting because several Primates have made it clear that if +Katherine shows up, they will not sit with her or meet with her. The official said that in light of this ability of +Katherine to enter a room and woe people as her presence is felt, that when she goes to Tanzania next week she will walk into the meeting, sit down, and everything will change. Suddenly, all the blustering of these Primates will be overwhelmed by her aura, her quiet and confident presence. He doesn't understand them!

This is the problem with many on the liberal side of the on going debates. They just really don't get it. They haven't up to this point, and rather than stepping back for a moment and reassessing, listening, and seeing how things are actually unfolding, they continue on in their mistaken assumptions. It reminds me of the Bush administration with respect to the Iraqi war and their understanding of the "enemy." They just don't get it, but think the really do.

Those Primates who are on the conservative side of the pressing issues will not be easily wooed by this women just because she has an aura about her. I hope they can be, at least so far as to sit down and get to know her, but I am not expecting it.

Another Athanasius quote

Anthanasius, in On the Incarnation:

"But since the will of man could turn either way, God secured this grace that He had given by making it conditional from the first upon two things - namely a law and a place. He sat them in His own paradise, and laid upon them a single prohibition. If they guarded the grace and retained the loveliness of their origional innocence, then the life of paradise should be theirs without sorrow, pain or care, and after it the assurance of immortality in heaven. But if they went astray and became vile, throwing away their birthright of beauty, then they would come under the natural law of death and live no longer in paradise, but dying outside of it, continue in death and corruption. This is what holy scripture tells us, proclaiming the command of God, 'Of every tree in the Garden thou shalt surely eat, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil ye shall not eat, but in that day that ye do eat, thou shalt surely die.' [Gen. 2:16f] 'Ye shall surely die...' - not just die only, but remain in a state of death and corruption."

Was the plan all along that man and woman would eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and learn what it means to face the consequences of one's actions - thus being truly able to choose competently between one thing and another? Was this all a part of learning what it meant to be made in the very image of God, who can create freely and choose freely? Or, did we truly thwart God's will for us as His creation, defying His good will and His command?

What did Jesus actually say?

This gets at the heart of how we perceive, interact with, interpret, and apply Scripture to issues of life. I don't really think we do a very good job.

On a recent blogging expedition (Titusonenine), a commenter posted a series of scripture verses that he claimed proved that Jesus indeed spoke on the subject of homosexuality. Most people who support the full inclusion of gay people in the Church today will say that Jesus never said a word about homosexuality. While I agree with that, the conclusion that, then, scripture should not be used as an authoritative contributor to the anti-inclusion arguments doesn't seem to me to be the next logical conclusion.

My response will be first, and then I will include the verses the commenter used.

---

My response to Jim the Puritan (#29) -

Jim, the verses you quote are absolutely correct, but your assumption is that all forms of same-sex relationships fall within the definition of what is immoral, automatically. The verses themselves, and thus Jesus, say nothing specific about homosexuality. I disagree with you as you attempt to say that Jesus said anything about homosexuality as recorded in the Gospels of our Lord.

What many people are asking is why the assumption? Then, when we go to Scripture and in light of what has been learned about the homosexual condition over the last 100 years or so, they say that there has been a mistake in our very human interpretation of God’s Holy Word with relation to homosexual people. They believe that a faithful biblical exegesis and hermeneutic of the few verses used to condemn all forms of same-sex relationships in light of all of Scripture cannot bear the weight of the argument against all forms of homosexual relationships. There has been a misinterpretation of Scripture, and the Tradition has supported this misinterpretation for a variety of reasons.

Even a growing number of Evangelical scholars are saying that there are great problems with the traditional interpretations, and many are changing their opinions. This isn’t God’s Word changing - it remains the same always - but our human understanding of God’s Holy Word. Is this the Holy Spirit casting new light on God’s Word? Time will tell, but we need to remember Gamaliel’s recommendation to the Sanhedrin as we work through these times.

-----
Jim the Puritan posted this:

#29 Jim the Puritan Says:
February 5th, 2007 at 1:29 pm

“I don’t find anywhere in Scripture where Jesus is talking about homosexuality as a sin,” says the Rev. Kim Smith King, senior pastor of North Decatur Presbyterian Church in Atlanta and co-moderator of More Light Presbyterians, a group supporting gay clergy.

Matthew 10:
14If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake the dust off your feet when you leave that home or town. 15I tell you the truth, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town. 16I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.

Matthew 11:

22But I tell you, it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon on the day of judgment than for you. 23And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted up to the skies? No, you will go down to the depths.[a] If the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Sodom, it would have remained to this day. 24But I tell you that it will be more bearable for Sodom on the day of judgment than for you.”

Luke 10:

11′Even the dust of your town that sticks to our feet we wipe off against you. Yet be sure of this: The kingdom of God is near.’ 12I tell you, it will be more bearable on that day for Sodom than for that town.

Luke 17:
28″It was the same in the days of Lot. People were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building. 29But the day Lot left Sodom, fire and sulfur rained down from heaven and destroyed them all.
30″It will be just like this on the day the Son of Man is revealed.”

I’ve never understood this assertion that Jesus didn’t have a problem with homosexuality. If Jesus didn’t have a problem with homosexuality, why did he repeatedly use it as the example of the results of sin?

And no, they were not distroyed because of “inhospitality.” Every Jew then knew they were destroyed because of sexual perversion and immorality.

“In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire.” Jude 1:7

Why? Why? Why?

Sometimes, I just have to ask, "Why?" I wish an answer was forthcoming, but I know it is not. Perhaps soon, I don't know. The bigger questions of life - Why am I doing this? Why am I here? I don't want this, but here I am - why?

This is simply not what I had in mind when I finished seminary. I know I'm repeating myself, but the struggle to maintain myself in this place when I have no clue as to why I'm here is sometimes almost more than I can bear.

I am thankful for the opportunity. I am thankful for the income. I enjoy working with the people I do. I just am not of the disposition to do this kind of work. (This has nothing to do with the parish in which I'm working, by the way. Just so that is clear.) It affects my attitude, my dedication to the task, my outlook, and my work. It affects the work that I truly want to be doing and for which I spend years in preparation - my best working hours are spent sitting at a desk looking at numbers. I'm slow to take the initiative, unless it has to do with certain other kinds of things - like learning a new software package or organizing something or another (I like to organize, believe it or not.). I'm a right-brain person stuck in a very, very left-brain job.

And, frankly, I don't want to whine, but sometimes it just becomes too much.

Now, in all reality, I should just shut up. I'm paid well. I work in New York City. I'm working on a project that really is of importance to the Church. I work in a nice environment with good people. I'm able to give money freely to those in need. A lot of people would jump at the opportunity to do what I am doing. It is a great opportunity for someone. I get to work with the people of St. Paul's.

Why, God, am I here doing this kind of work. I need a different attitude, and I'm trying. It just isn't coming. (Of course, in hindsight I’m sure I will understand and be thankful. Isn’t that how it always is? I certainly hope so, because if not I’m going to be pissed – at myself more than anyone because I discerned that this was were I was being put for a reason, and I will be the one who screwed-up.)

It's all your fault!

There is a thread on Titusonenine to which I've posted a couple comments. One particular poster, who can argue well, posted something along the lines that "we," meaning those who oppose the inclusion of gay people in relationships in the Church, did not start this mess, and it is the fault of the "innovators" or "reappraisers" or whatever-term-one-wants-to-use, who will not listen to the wisdom of those who will not accept the reassessment of Scripture and Tradition concerning this issue.

Phil Snyder wrote:

"One of my biggest problem with this whole 'We spending too much time on sexuality when there’s poverty and AIDS and hunger to fight” argument is that the reasserters did not bring this up. We are not the ones who insisted we fight this. We are not the ones who refused to listen to the Anglican Communion. I wish this had never been brought up and that we were able to spend our energy on fighting hunger and poverty and AIDS in America and around the world. I weep when I think of all the money and time that we have spent fighting each other so that a very small group of people will not have their feelings hurt by having their behavior labled “sin.”

If you want to work together to fight hunger and eliminate poverty and work with Africans to solve the problems in Africa, then stop pushing these new innovations in Christian belief and practice and repent of pushing them to start with and learn to listen to the wisdom of people who live in these countries on how to solve their problems."

My responses follows:

I remember reading various sermons and essays by Christians during the slavery, women’s suffrage, and civil rights battles in this country. I remember the language used and the accusations made against those who advocated and fought for the end of slavery, women’s suffrage, or equal rights and those who opposed such “innovations.” The attitudes of so many during the slavery battles, and then again during the civil rights era were the same as you have stated above. If we just ignore injustice and let things remain as they are, not rocking the boat of centuries of Tradition and “correct” Biblical interpretation, then there will be no need for battles or problems or division, etc. God’s truth will reign in glory everlasting.

The Episcopal Church was pretty much silent about the slavery issue during the Civil War. Some may say that was wise, most now claim that it was not. I really can’t say, only that there does come a point where decisions need to be made and “innovations” like the end of slavery (a biblically justified condition for up to near 1,800 years, despite a very small but growing minority that championed for an end of slavery of various kinds) need to be advanced.

The Church is doing battle right now over what it considers an injustice concerning the inclusion of gay people - those who are chaste and those in mutual, life-long, and monogamous relationships - in the life of the Church. If we understand our history and don’t try to overlay our own current-day perceptions upon those people back then, the comparison between attitudes and actions now (gay issue) and back then (slavery, women’s rights, civil rights, etc), will show that the battles were as venomous and/or virtuous then as they are today over this issue.

Time will tell who is right. Time will also tell whose interpretation of Scripture will prevail and as God’s will is always done, whose opinion is truly “on God’s side” and whose is not. (Frankly, I doubt any of us are right at this point!) But, to say with incrimination that “our side” did not start this battle and that “we” are right in “our” demand to remain as the Church have always been, is like saying that those who self-justifyingly supported the continuation of slavery or the denial of women’s suffrage or racial discrimination virtuously didn’t ask for the fight and social tumult during those battles, but rather sought peace or truth or the continuation of the “Tradition” over the “innovation.”

iPod Shuffle - 10:45 am

From my iPod this morning, the soothing sounds of:

1. John Coltrane, Alabama, from 'The Gentle Side of...' (Jason, was this your CD?)
2. Skott Freedman, Lately, from 'Swimming After Dark'
3. Slavyanka Men's Choir, Spasi, Gospodi, Lyudi Tvoya (O Lord, Save Thy People), from 'Russian Church Music'
4. Halloween Alaska, All the Arms Around Me, from 'Halloween Alaska'
5. Slavyanka Men's Choir, Dostoino yest' (It is Fitting), from 'Russian Church Music'
6. Wicked cast, Dancing Through Life, from ' Wicked Original Cast Recording'
7. The Robert Shaw Festival Singers, Velichit Dusha Moya Gospoda (My Soul Magnifies the Lord), from 'Rachmaninov's Vespers'
8. Emmylou Harris, The Pearl, from 'Red Dirt Girl'
9. Sigar Ros, Meo Bioonasir, from 'Takk'
10. Skott Freedman, Nothing More, from 'Swimming After Dark'

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

Process - Free-Will - Postliberal

From the book,


"This widespread disaffection with Enlightenment rationality opens the door to other approaches to theology. For postliberals, it means that contemporary culture is no longer the norm for Christian thought. Accordingly, the primary concern of Christian theology is not to find other language with which to express the Christian message, but to employ the narrative form of Scripture. In doing so, it reverses the tendency of modern theology to accommodate itself to culture. Instead of letting the world absorb the gospel, its goal is for the gospel to absorb the world. 'Rather than translating Scripture into an external and alien from of reference, which devalues and undermines its normative position and eventually produces an accommodation to culture, the postliberals call for an intratextual theology that finds the meaning of the Christian language within the text.'

"Evangelical theologians who share the conviction that theology's primary concern lies within the text will have reservations about Wheeler's call to employ process philosophy in hopes of getting a larger hearing. IN particular, they will question the very ideas of an independent perspective that corroborates the biblical perspective. As they see it, our most important concern should not be to find conceptual, philosophical ways of expressing the Christian message, but to let the primary symbols and narratives of Christian faith speak with their own power. To make the case he wants to for process thought, Wheeler needs to take into account the shifting theological scene."

Richard Rice, Searching for an Adequate God: A Dialogue between Process and Free Will Theists, editors: John Cobb & Clark Pinnock, p. 158.

Oh, Anglican

For the glory of the Anglican music tradition:

http://marguerite.ca/images/mastersingers.mp3

In all of our (The Episcopal Church & Anglicanism) troubles of late, all the vast theological and pietistic controversies and differences, it is impressed upon me more and more of late that what Anglicanism provides more than anything is a sustained and impressive tradition of Orthopraxy.

This is the Prayer Book Tradition; and its contribution to world Christianity is still being realized and debated.

We do what God calls us to do in the world - love God, love our neighbors (even our enemies), care for the poor, the weak, and the oppressed, share the Good News of God's accomplishment and offer of reconciliation with God, with one another, and with all His creation. Have four Episcopalians, and you will have five ideas of what all that means and how to accomplish it all. Our theological positions are hard to pin down and we argue incessantly about it all. This, to Evangelicals anyway, is not a very confidence engendering quality that indicates the "orthodoxy" of The Episcopal Church or Episcopalians.

We do the work of common worship. From one Anglican church to another, the particulars may be different but the form, structure, and purpose are the same! The doing of worship in the Prayer Book Tradition is our way of bringing the Body of Christ together - world before, world present, and world to come - as one body as we worship God and receive from Him our strength and renewal.

Anglicanism, since the Elizabethan Settlement at least, seems more about orthopraxis than a confirmed and official theological orthodoxy. Too many Anglican groups, despite their numbers, are demanding a codification of their understanding of a God ordained, unquestionable and timeless theological orthodoxy - whether the demand is coming from the hyper-conservative or hyper-liberal camps. Yet, what Anglicanism has offered and promised is only this: Orthopraxis as we seek together God and God's will for us, the Church, and the world. There is an allowance of difference in theological opinion, or at least there has been.

So many people within The Episcopal Church these days, and so, so many within Evangelicalism, what to focus squarely on issues of expressed theological orthodoxy - having everyone all at the same time believe all the right things, but Anglicanism has never been about that.

This aspect of a focus on what we do as Christians (the putting into action what we believe - actions speak louder than words!) rather than all believing the same thing is very attractive to me. I don't question that there is ultimate Truth, and that the Truth resides with an infinite God, but we as finite creatures cannot fully understand that Truth until we see Him face-to-face. As a few Evangelical pastors like to say, "That's Bible!" This is also why I really do like the Emergent Conversation!

In a post-modern world and among a majority of people who are skeptical and cynical with regards to the Christian Church in the U.S., and who are looking for authenticity and integrity, our expression of our faith through orthopraxy is only proving and making manifest, real, and visible the Truth we claim to be seeking and living out as best we can, with God's help. We can say whatever we want, we can demand others or even attempt to force others to believe what we believe, but I think it is only in our doing that we prove any validity to our understanding of things and our words.

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