March 2007 Archives

I've been having another debate on Titusonenine. It all started with comments made by the Archbishop of Canterbury about the Church needing to be a safe place of gay people.

Here is the link to the whole thread.

Here is what I final wrote to a sarcastic challenge to prove what I think.

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I have started this 16 different ways. I’ve written from an academic perspective to a purely personal one. It has gone from a few paragraphs to an essay to a survey to a paper to a thesis (albeit a short one, as those kind of things go).

Where in the world do I begin with a lifetime of experience – living, praying, studying, observing, praying some more, seeking God with all my heart, reading, listening, watching, and on and on and on.

You know, time and again I am accused by people of “obviously not studying the bible,” or “obviously choosing to conveniently ignore parts of the bible,” or “obviously being deceived by Satan,” or “obviously just wanting to justify sin,” or “obviously so immature in the faith that I cannot understand God’s simply truth,” or “so corrupted by meaningless academics that I can’t understand the plain reading of Scripture,” or “obviously…”

I really have been accused of all those things, repeatedly, because I have come to believe through all that I’ve detailed in the second paragraph that the way the Church through her Tradition has dealt with the few pericopes presumed to deal the all issues homosexual has been wrong. I initially came to the question with trepidation and with the same assumptions as most Christians continue to hold. When someone accuses me of what I’ve detailed in the preceding paragraph, I want to laugh. The first thought that comes to my mind is, “you’re an idiot for assuming such a thing… why don’t ask questions to find out rather than making an --- of yourself.” But, that is not the “love thy neighbor as thyself” kind of thing to do, so I repent and keep quite and go on.

iPod Shuffle - 4:14 pm

Out of great silence, comes tunes:

1. Kate Bush, Wow, from 'Lionheart'
2. Howie Day, End of Our Days, from 'Stop All the World'
3. The Benedictine Monks of Santo Dominico, Anon: Ut Queant Laxis Resonare Fibris (I think), from 'Chant II'
4. Fleetwood Mac, Go Your Own Way, from 'Greatest Hits'
5. Fleetwood Mac, Sara, from 'Greatest Hits'
6. Aimee Mann, Just Like Anyone, from 'Bachelor #2'
7. 'Wicked, Defying Gravity, from 'Original Cast Recording'
8. U2, With Or Without You, from 'Joshua Tree'
9. John Coltrane, Lush Life, from 'The Gentle Side of...'
10. Lone Justice, Shelter, from 'Shelter'

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

The City #12

Here is a nice review of Into Great Silence from the Washington Post.

I was talking to some seminarians last week who went to see the movie. The movie has been held over three times now. Anyway, they said in a full theater the movie started - silence. Silence continued. And more silence. When the movie ended and as everyone filed out, suddenly someone realized as they were talking to a friend who was to see the next showing that.... wait for it.... wait for it... the theater never played the soundtrack!

The entire theater sat through the whole movie in shear and utter silence - nothing. Well, you can imagine, especially after reading the review from the Post, that the theater goers were a bit upset. They complained to the manager. They requested compensation. The manager basically said, "If all of you sat through an entire movie with no sound and didn't tell anyone, you're all idiots and don't deserve a refund!"

Now, generally, I would agree. However, this movie is entitled "Into Great Silence" and it was playing in arguably the most "art-house" theater in New York City. It is not unreasonable to think a silent movie was simply an artistic trick.

Too funny.

The same

I just returned from seeing the movie "300," the fictionalized story of the Spartan defeat of the Persians a very long time ago. Two weeks ago, I saw "Into Great Silence," the documentary of the life of the Carthusian monks of the Grande Chartreuse. Most people will say that there could not be a better example of two movies so profoundly different - opposite sides of a continuum between quiet serenity and brutal, brash violence. I'm just thinking...

And it is a true statement, but there is a profound similarity in these two movies of men and about men. You see, the men depicted in Into Great Silence and the men depicted in 300 have one thing in common - they all gave and continue to give their lives for something greater than themselves. They sacrifice(d) their lives for something beyond themselves. One group sacrifices for the work of God and the salvation of humanity. The other group sacrificed for freedom and for the salvation from annihilation and slavery of the people of Sparta. Regardless, they give and gave up their own lives, these men did and do. The Religious cast and the Warrior cast, represented in these two films.

What does it mean to be a man? I read again and again of the crisis in the development of boys, the depression of men, the lack of purpose, lack of direction - it is all around us. This is nothing new, but it seems to have reached destabilizing proportions over the past 30 years or so. What does it mean to be a woman?

There used to be a sense that it is a virtue to give of oneself to something beyond oneself. Women gave in the caring for their families and the rearing of children. Men gave in supporting and protecting their families and their nation. These are stereotypic roles, of course, and generalizations, yet in them we find a mechanism for the living for something or someone beyond oneself. There was purpose, direction, and security in knowing what was expected. These "old fashion" notions have fallen away, but what are we left with?

There is coming a time, and I believe we are in the beginning stages, when the true nature of men will be reasserted, but there is no longer the cultural call to and so few examples of virtuous expressions of manhood. They have been expunged for the sake of political correctness. We no longer teach boys how to be "men," but rather to deny their maleness for androgyny. Maleness is to be engineered out of boys because it is "naturally contrary to the benefit of women's equality." Women should be equal.

My fear is, since men have been relieved of the oh, so terrible stereotypical role of provider and protector of families (witness how easy it is for men to relinquish any responsibility to provide for their children and families, too easy to abandon them), my fear is that what will be left are men who are completely self-absorbed and prone to irresponsible expressions of maleness through violence and banality. I fear that maleness will be reasserted in new forms of barbarism to the detriment of a good and ordered society. Do we not see this happening all over the world?

Societal changes needed to come, and they have. As Paul said, there is neither male nor female with regards to the place of each within the purview of God's good work and will for us. The sexes are equal. Culturally, even within Christendom, this has hardly been the case, and still isn't. We do not listen very well.

Within two generations, we have generally lost the meaning of womanhood and manhood. There has been a feminization of men and the masculinization of women. I know that there are still those who demand that the two sexes are essentially the same and there should be no distinction made between them - women can do "men's" work and men can do "women's" work. Yes, they can for the most part. Aren't we liberated!

The problem is that the sexes are not the same. Most people understand this, but those with their hands on the levers of power and influence for the last few decades do not agree. They have had the upper hand. The social sciences are realizing the differences, although there are still the die-hards who will never countenance such a surrendering of the politically correct dogma. In the striving to prove that men can be womanly (their feminine side) and women can be manly (their masculine side), we have completely lost who we are as men and as women.

I don't advocate a return to the 1950's, but I would push for admitting that the social experiments with gender over the last 50 years have not worked to bring about a new utopia, or even to realize the equality of the sexes.

What has happened? When the women's liberation movement got into full swing, and there needed to be such a push, what tended to develop was an internalized rejection of what had been traditionally feminine. Rather than women realizing the unique qualities of the feminine and demanding that men give those qualities their equal dew, a good many "liberated" women simply took upon themselves the worst of male characteristics. In order to be free and equal, women had to be like men. Conversely, for women to be free from male domination, men had to be brought down a notch - meaning they had to be "feminized" - the new-age sensitive kind of guy.

What are men, really, if they are not providers and protectors? It is inbred, whether through evolution or by a divine act of God. We can deny it all we want, we can try to force men to be something they are not, but they will return to what they are, eventually. And we are. The question is whether we will realize the best of what manhood really is, or whether we will realize the worst - and the best will not be realized if the push continues to deny what is essentially male. Women are the great civilizers of men, frankly, and if women reject that role as they pursue equality, then what we are left with are men who are, again, brutes and barbarians.

We need to find a new way of expressing the nature of men and the nature of women that does not deny who and what we truly are - our best qualities lived into for the betterment of society and for something other than our individual selves. There needs to be a new recognition that women can really be feminine and men can really be masculine and the qualities of the two are equally needed and should be equally esteemed. Otherwise, we are left with Parish Hiltons who return women to being sex-objects (and women who believe their self-worth comes from objectification), and men who live completely irresponsible, banal, and violent lives, and more then willing to objectify women.

Integrity

The vestry of one of the largest Episcopal churches in Colorado voted to align with the Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA), ruled by Archbishop Akinola of Nigeria, and declared that they are no longer be a part of The Episcopal Church - USA. The rector had been inhibited (not allowed to function as a priest in the diocese) by his bishop due to "financial irregularities" until all the investigations had ended. They are ongoing. With the vote to align with CANA, the priest returned to the parish because he said it was no longer an Episcopal church but a CANA church, so he is no longer subject to his "former" bishop’s authority. In an article in the Rocky Mountain News, the Rector of the parish made a few statements. I want to make a comment after the portion of the article below:

Episcopal parish secedes from Colorado diocese
By Jean Torkelson, Rocky Mountain News

March 26, 2007 As its banned rector watched, the vestry board of one of Colorado’s largest Episcopal parishes, Grace and St. Stephen’s in Colorado Springs, voted this morning to secede from the Episcopal Diocese of Colorado — and the national church, as well.

At the same time, the Rev. Don Armstrong took back control of the 2,000-member parish for the first time since being put under investigation in December by Bishop Rob O’Neill for what the diocese called "misapplied funds."

"I am sitting in my office for the first time in three months," Armstrong said in a telephone interview. "Now that I’m no longer a priest under Rob O’Neill’s authority I can say or do what I want.

"I’m going to publicly clear my name by refuting his accusations," he said. Furthermore, he said, "The national church and the House of Bishops have made it clear there’s no place or tolerance for conservative, orthodox Episcopalians." (emphasis mine)

My point is that in most dioceses under most bishops that are liberal, conservatives do have a place. Granted, they often are not paid attention to (which is a mistake in my opinion), but a place is to be had. What most diocese and bishops, whether liberal or conservative, will not provide a place for a priest or a vestry voting to seperate from the Episcopal Church or the diocese. There is a big difference!

If it becomes blatantly clear that the priest, vestry, or by parish vote (whether conservative or liberal) that they are intent on separating from the diocese and their bishop, why should they expect an equal place at the table in the diocese when the bishop has a fiduciary duty to protect the interests of the diocese and the people who choose to remain Episcopalians? So, if a priest or a vestry or even by a parish vote, there is a decision to no longer recognize the canons of The Episcopal Church, the Church period, or the authority of the bishop of the Episcopal diocese, then they have decided to no longer have a place in that diocese. In that case, why is there an expectation for a place or surprise when the bishop inhibits the priest, removes the vestry, and takes control of the Episcopal parish? In the polity of TEC, that parish is his/hers (the bishop’s) - it belongs to the diocese.

I have witnessed the prejudice and negative reactions by officials in liberal dioceses toward the conservatives within the diocese. The reactions, actions, and attitudes of these liberals are wrong (really they are not liberals, but rather anti-conservatives - true liberals do provide an honest place at the table even for those with whom they have the most disagreement). The counter-reactions of the conservatives to move towards repudiating their very church, diocese, and bishop are also wrong.

As is often said, people are free to come and go into and out of Episcopal parishes, but the church is not anything other than Episcopalian. I have much more respect for those people/parishes who according to their own conscious must leave the denomination and who do leave and form a new church, than those who repudiate their organizational structures and canons and attempt to deliberately do what they know they do not have the legal or canonical authority to do.

A New Airline

A friend of mine sent this along, and, well, I think it is kind of funny.
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Lutheran Viking Air

WE ARE PLEASED TO ANNOUNCE LUTHERAN VIKING AIR IS NOW OPERATING IN MINNYSOTA, AND ALSO SERVING VISCONSIN, NORT AND SOUT DAKOTA.

If you are travelin soon, consider Lutran (Lutheran) Viking Air, da no-frills airline. You're all in da same boat on Lutran Air, where flyin is a upliftin experience.

Dere is no First Class on any Lutran Viking Air flight. Meals are potluck. Rows 1-6, bring rolls; 7-15, bring a salad; 16-21, a main dish, and 22-30, a dessert. Basses and tenors please sit in da rear of da aircraft.

Everyone is responsible for his or her own baggage. All fares are by free will offering and da plane will not land 'til da budget is met. Pay attention to your flight attendant, who will acquaint you wit da safety system aboard dis Lutran Viking Air 599.

Okay den, listen up. I'm only gonna say dis vonce. In da event of a sudden loss of cabin pressure, I am frankly going to be real surprised and so vill Captain Olson, because we fly right around two tousand feet, so loss of cabin pressure would probably mean da Second Coming or someting of dat nature, and I wouldn't bodar wit doze liddle masks on da rubber tubes. You're gonna have bigger tings to worry about den dat. Just stuff doze back up in dair little holes. Probably da masks fell out because of turbulence which, to be honest wit you, we're going to have quite a bit of at two tousand feet, sorta like driving across a plowed field, but after a while you get used to it.


In da event of a water landing, I'd say forget it. Start saying da Lord's Prayer and just hope you get to da part about forgive us our sins as we forgive doze who sin against us, which some people say " trespass against us," which ain't right, but what can you do?

Da useof cell phones on da plane is strictly forbidden, not because day may confuse da plane's navigation system, which is seat of da pants all da way. No, it's because cell phones are a pain in da wazoo, and if God meant you to use a cell phone, He would have put your mout on da side of your head.

We start lunch right about noon and it's buffet style wit da coffee pot up front. Den we'll have da hymn sing; hymnals are in da seat pocket in front of you. Don't take yours wit you when you go or I am going to be real upset and I am not kiddin.

Right now I'll say Grace: "Come, Lord Jesus, be our guest, and let deze gifts to us be blessed. Fadar, Son, and Holy Ghost, may we land in Dulut or pretty close."

Happy Landin wit da Lutran Viking Airline!

The City #11

After getting off the subway and walking to my coffee & pastry place before work, I saw a black car-service pull up to the curb. New York car-service cars are almost always black, Ford, and have darkened windows.

A man and a woman step out, dressed in jeans. They embrace for a good bit, kiss, and continue.

He gets back into the car and she hurries off with shoulder bags and a pony-tail. As the car slowly pulls away back into traffic, it comes up beside her.

Her head turns, oh so slightly, as she glances back to the car and her beloved within. She probably could not see within, but I suspect he turned his head, perhaps ever so slightly, to see one last time his beloved.

A romantic notion, I know. But, why not? Day-in-and-day-out, we pass through this world. We perceive and we believe. Love, real love, still abounds.

Sermon, 5th Sunday of Lent

St. Paul’s Church – Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn
The Rev. Robert Griffith
The Fifth Sunday of Lent, March 25, 2007


“I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?”

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

We find God’s people in a predicament in the context of today’s Old Testament reading from Isaiah 43. Isaiah chapters 40 - 55 take place during the middle of the sixth century B.C. The northern Jewish kingdom of Israel ceased to exist long before, and people of the southern kingdom, Judah, are languishing in the Babylonian exile. God’s chosen people that lived in the Promised Land were now aliens in a strange and pagan country, taken captive by a foreign power. In 586 B.C., the City of God, the holy city of Jerusalem, was destroyed by the Babylonians. The royal line of David came to an end, and Solomon’s glorious temple lay in ruins and ashes. The people of God were not able to practice their religion, as God had given it to be practiced. The temple, the very dwelling place of God on earth, was gone. The peoples’ rebelliousness separated them from their God.

All that they had known was no more. Nothing left. It surely must have seemed to many that their God had abandoned them. Perhaps, even, that the gods of Babylon were stronger than their own God.

As they lived in exile their children grew to know the “old country” and the “old ways” only in stories. The new generations did not know the glories of their former country, the splendor of worship in the temple, and the promises of their God in a land flowing with milk and honey. As best they could, some kept the traditions alive through the oral history and by the words of Moses and by way of the prophets.

Blindness

Someone wrote in another blog, commenting on The Episcopal Church's House of Bishops resolutions this past week:

“We are witnessing the decline and fall of Christianity in Western culture…”

I don’t buy this. First of all, it sounds as if the presumption is that God will not be able to cause the Church to survive in Western culture. Sure He can, and will.

We may no longer have our privileged position of state-sanction (whether explicit or implicit), but Christianity will survive and flourish. Flourish, because I think what will happen is that Christianity will become something that people participate in because they truly believe it and desire to do so, not because it is culturally expected or demanded. This will give us a much stronger Church, although the membership numbers will probably be less. It will also give us a far less culturally determined Church - less influence from both the political and social left and right.

This is God’s Church, and He will do what He will do. We are not in control of it nor can we determine its outcome. Our House of Bishops will be shown to have acted correctly or incorrectly, as will our Church and our whole Communion, in time. IN TIME. God’s time is not ours, and his timing is not our timing. Why do we so worry and think that we humans are God’s only means of defense?

An additional observation: We are blind if we think that the conservatives are any less influenced by our culture than are the liberals. We both are, and we both reflect the negative and positive aspects of the political and social positions of left and right.

To say that the conservatives or liberals are more or less influenced by our culture positivity or negatively simply shows the difference of what we choose to focus on. Hyper-individualism and consumerism of the right, or political-correctness and hyper-inclusion of the left.

The proverbial you-know-what

Well, the proverbial you-know-what has hit the proverbial you-know-what. The House of Bishops has issued three resolutions concerning the Anglican Communion relationships and the Primate's Communique from Tanzania.

The First Resolution:

Mind of the House of Bishops Resolution Addressed to the Executive Council of the Episcopal Church

Resolved, the House of Bishops affirms its desire that The Episcopal Church remain a part of the councils of the Anglican Communion; and

Resolved, the meaning of the Preamble to the Constitution of The Episcopal Church is determined solely by the General Convention of The Episcopal Church; and

Resolved, the House of Bishops believes the proposed Pastoral Scheme of the Dar es Salaam Communiqué of February 19, 2007 would be injurious to The Episcopal Church and urges that the Executive Council decline to participate in it; and

Resolved, the House of Bishops pledges itself to continue to work to find ways of meeting the pastoral concerns of the Primates that are compatible with our own polity and canons.

Adopted March 20, 2007
The House of Bishops
The Episcopal Church
Spring Meeting 2007
Camp Allen Conference Center
Navasota, Texas

The Second Resolution:

To the Archbishop of Canterbury and the members of the Primates' Standing Committee:

We, the Bishops of The Episcopal Church, meeting in Camp Allen, Navasota, Texas, March 16-21, 2007, have considered the requests directed to us by the Primates of the Anglican Communion in the Communiqué dated February 19, 2007.

Although we are unable to accept the proposed Pastoral Scheme, we declare our passionate desire to remain in full constituent membership in both the Anglican Communion and the Episcopal Church.

We believe that there is an urgent need for us to meet face to face with the Archbishop of Canterbury and members of the Primates' Standing Committee, and we hereby request and urge that such a meeting be negotiated by the Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church and the Archbishop of Canterbury at the earliest possible opportunity.

We invite the Archbishop and members of the Primates' Standing Committee to join us at our expense for three days of prayer and conversation regarding these important matters.

Adopted March 20, 2007
The House of Bishops
The Episcopal Church
Spring Meeting 2007
Camp Allen Conference Center
Navasota, Texas

The third resolution, and the longest, is telling. It needed to be said. Here is the link to the Episcopal News Service for the full texts of the resolutions.

A couple points from the third resolution that I find important:

Other Anglican bishops, indeed including some Primates, have violated our provincial boundaries and caused great suffering and contributed immeasurably to our difficulties in solving our problems and in attempting to communicate for ourselves with our Anglican brothers and sisters. We have been repeatedly assured that boundary violations are inappropriate under the most ancient authorities and should cease. The Lambeth Conferences of 1988 and 1998 did so. The Windsor Report did so. The Dromantine Communiqué did so. None of these assurances has been heeded. The Dar es Salaam Communiqué affirms the principle that boundary violations are impermissible, but then sets conditions for ending those violations, conditions that are simply impossible for us to meet without calling a special meeting of our General Convention.

It's time we play fair and the expectations for adherence are the same. The side doing the violating will not stop, however. The AMiA has already stated that it will not be a part of the Primate's scheme, which means that the Primate of Rwanda will presumably not abide by the scheme's call to halt boundary crossings.

After detailing four reasons why the Primates' scheme for a Primatial Vicar and Pastoral Council will not work, this statement is made:

Most important of all it is spiritually unsound. The pastoral scheme encourages one of the worst tendencies of our Western culture, which is to break relationships when we find them difficult instead of doing the hard work necessary to repair them and be instruments of reconciliation. The real cultural phenomenon that threatens the spiritual life of our people, including marriage and family life, is the ease with which we choose to break our relationships and the vows that established them rather than seek the transformative power of the Gospel in them. We cannot accept what would be injurious to this Church and could well lead to its permanent division.

I have said for a while now that what we are seeing within what was once traditional Anglican Evangelicalism is the worst of American Evangelicalism. The tactics and attitudes of the disaffected Episcopalians have mirrored our profoundly dysfunction cultural and political attitudes and actions - polarization, empire building, arrogance and pride, winner-take-all, no-compromise, character assassination, lies and misrepresentations of truth. The ends justify the means - it is so 21st Century American reaction-ism, but profoundly not Christian.

Theologically, I have a lot in common with the more conservative side of the Church. Pietistically , I've moved far closer to the Tradition and the Catholic side of the Church. Yet, I cannot accept the means by which the extremes of these two sides have conducted their crusade to force capitulation and the expulsion of The Episcopal Church from the Anglican Communion.

It will be very telling when the Archbishop of Canterbury decides whether to accept the House of Bishops invitation for a face-to-face meeting.

Statements to Bishops

The Episcopal Church House of Bishops is meeting. They are considering the proposed Anglican Covenant presented during the Primates' Meeting in Tanzania a few weeks ago, along with the Primates demands of and timetable for the American Church.

This House of Bishops meeting is for "listening." The September meeting will be for decision making. Here are two essays presented to the Bishops concerning the proposed Anglican Covenant and the demands.

By Ephraim Radner (who writes for the Anglican Communion Institute, among other things)

By Katherine Grieb for the House of Bishops

Just wear a patch - take the gay away

The Rev. Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, has become a prominent voice in conservative Evangelical and Fundamentalist Christianity in the U.S. I have seen him quoted not only by Southern Baptists or Pentecostals but even by conservative Episcopalians. He is articulate and unapologetic concerning his particular view of what Christianity is and what is not - and along with that who is and who isn't a Christian. He is a Fundamentalist.

Last week, we wrote an article in which he seemed to acknowledge that homosexuality will probably be proven to have a genetic or physiological link - not just a decision made by sex-crazed guys. This caused quite a stir in-and-of-itself among a slue of conservative-religious-politicos. He also stated that while he will probably be against some sort of gene-tinkering or therapy, he might be inclined to support a "hormone patch" to be worn by the mother during pregnancy in order to change the unborn baby's homosexuality.

The Washington Post reports that Mohler in a Friday interview stated:

In an interview on Friday, Mohler said that Christian couples "should be open" to the prospect of changing the course of nature -- if a biological marker for homosexuality were to be found. He would not support gene therapy but might back other treatments, such as a hormonal patch.

"I think any Christian couple would want their child to be whole and healthy," he said. "Knowing that that child is going to be a sinner, we would not want to make their personal challenges more difficult if they could be less difficult."

Since it will be a terrible thing to know that one's child is going to be a "sinner," then we should do all we can to make sure that doesn't happen. Imagine, being able to weed out the sinfulness of us all! Wouldn't that be great - we will no longer be "sinners." If we can do it for the sin of homosexuality, why can we not do it for all sins? Lying, adultery, hypocrisy, murder, gluttony, pride, sloth, not loving God with our whole heart nor loving our neighbors as ourselves - all could be done away with through a patch or genetic/hormonal tinkering. Man will truly be his own salvation at that point, right?

I wonder what that will do with the whole issue of the necessity of Grace, Salvation, and the Passion-death-resurrection of Jesus. God should have just waited until our science progressed to the point where we could genetically or hormonally "change nature" to rid us of sin, rather than Jesus' self-sacrifice on our behalf. Oh well. I know this is not what he means or intends, but it is a logical progression of the idea, is it not?

Link to the Washington Post article

Link to Truth Wins Out commentaries over this issue. TWO was founded by Wayne Besen, author of “Anything But Straight: Unmasking the Scandals and Lies Behind the Ex-Gay Myth” (Haworth, 2003).

Link to Albert Mohler's original article: Is Your Baby Gay? What If You Could Know? What If You Could Do Something About It?

Link to Albert Mohler's follow-up article

There is an organization called "Christian Worldview Network," and the do all kinds of stuff. They offer a "World-view Test" to see how Christian or how worldly one is. I took the test, and I came out as a Secular Humanist. Now, that is absurd and it will give an indication of how far-right politically and socially and spiritually this group is or has become.

Now, I will be the first to say that it is vitally important that Americans, really all people, understand the concept of "world-view." We all have one. Americans tend to not understand that one's world-view colors their thinking and understanding of everything. World-view is the colored glasses we see through. To the point that this group strives to help people understand the concept and reality of world-view, I'm happy. The problem is what they then present as THE "Christian World-view."

So, I get their e-mail updates and announcements. Today, they have an opinion piece written by a father of four and youth paster. The title of the essay is, "Don't Give Spiritual Custody of Your Children to The Church." This is one time when wading through a bunch of less-than-rigourous stuff (or crap, depending on your perspective) you find something good.

Read the essay. I think it gets at an important issue. It is about the failure of the Church in dealing with young people, and that failure begins by not calling parents to be the primary disciplers of their own children.

I find it interesting that my parish, a city-parish in its Anglo-Catholic tradition, had no "Christian Education" space. The presumption was that kids were brought up in the faith at home first, and through the regular rhythm of Daily Offices and Eucharist.

Don't Give Spiritual Custody of Your Children to The Church

By Ray Baumann

America saw the days of manufacturing leave us some time ago. We live in a truly global economy. Look at the labels on your clothes right now. My shoes were made in China, my shirt in India, and my pants in Macau. Pick up a few items around you and see where they were made. My assumption is that most were made in China. Does America make anything? There are few things for which Americans actually have to labor to make anymore. I guess we figure why make the effort if someone else will do it for half the cost? All in the name of cheap labor.

I want to address another outsourcing epidemic happening in our churches. I know you’re trying to figure this out. No, I’m not talking about bringing in preachers from overseas and paying them less money than your current pastor. I’m talking about the church taking away responsibilities (labor) from parents.

Episcopal Election declared void

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has declared "null and void" the election of the Very Rev. Mark Lawrence to be the 14th bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina. (Episcopal News Service)

Read the entire article from ENS.

Statement from the Diocese of South Carolina

The way this has transpired is plainly and simply wrong. If New Hampshire can choose a priest to be bishop whose election has prompted the presenting troubles within the Anglican Communion, after nearly ever other Christian entity asked that it not be done, then the people of South Carlina can elect the bishop of their choice. I supported the prerogative of the people of New Hampshire to elect who they felt God called them to elect. I support the prerogative of the people of South Carolina to elect the person they believe God is calling them to elect.

Many people on the left said that his election should not be consented to because of statements he has made that suggest he may - let me say this again, may - view favorably his diocese aligning itself with groups that seek to remove themselves from The Episcopal Church. Fr. Lawrence has publicly stated that he will remain loyal to TEC, despite that certain groups do not believe him.

What makes this particularly grievous is that the denial of consent may be a result of technicalities. These are not the times when the denial of consent is based on only a couple lacking votes that could be the result of sending the consents electronically, without a "signature," rather than sending paper consents with a signature of ink sent through the U.S. Mail. "Several dioceses, both on and off American soil, thought that electronic permission was sufficient as had been their past accepted practice." (Statement from the Diocese of South Carolina)

Regardless of where I may stand on the various issues we are fighting over, I cannot support what I know is gleeful rejoicing in some quarters. Fr. Lawrence pledged to remain loyal to The Episcopal Church. Why should we not take him at his word? If he is lying and if he attempts to pull South Carolina out of TEC, a presentment can be made against him.

My hope is that the people of South Carolina will elect him, again.

For the sake of security...

What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don't they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something but don't get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. (James 1:1-3)

Something that we want, but we cannot have?

Security!

It is common to desire to be secure, to be safe, to be free (or at least according to what we can conceive of "freedom" being). An expectation has been perpetuated among the population that we have a RIGHT to be secure and to have no harm beset us. This expectation plays on our desire for security, but has been used to perpetuate political and legal careers, economic wealth, and ideologies. The problem is, we will never be secure or safe from harm. We demand it, but we do not receive it because it is outside the realm of possibility to live into such an expectation. We demand it and temporally do stuff in our attempts to have it, but we do with wrong motives - in order to benefit only ourselves, our own "pleasures."

We cannot demand that soap will not cause us to fall in the bathtub, resulting in a broken pelvis. We try to demand such things, and we sue the soap manufacturer and the distributor and the packaging company when such things happen and wonder why no warning was on the label, "CAUTION: This product is slippery and if you step on it in the bathtub dire consequences could result." What we want is to not be held responsible for our own actions. What we want is millions of dollars that we think we can get because of "their negligence." ...never our own fault, never simply an accident, never our own negligence.

We cannot reasonably expect that we can be completely safe from terrorist attacks (whether homegrown or foreign) or that citizens of other nations will not do to us what we do to them. We want safety, but we do not want to do what is necessary to secure the highest level of safety genuinely possible. Instead, we demand that the world and cause-and-effect work the way we want them to, not the way they really do. So, in order to try to delude ourselves into feeling more secure or safe, we give up some of our own freedom, we invade other countries, we destroy other societies, we exploit other peoples, and yet we never realize our desires - security, safety, peace, freedom. As a matter of fact, we make things worse.

We ask, but do not receive because we ask in order to please ourselves. We demand security. Why? What are our motives? To perpetuate a nation-state? To secure the notion that we can be happy by buying more stuff? To protect our mountain-o-things? To protect our families from harm - that I can see, but the others above, I cannot accept as a follower of Jesus Christ.

Our security, our peace, our freedom, our life can be found in God, but we delude ourselves if we think they can be found in guns, wars, envy, pride, arrogance, selfishness, nationalism, and the like. Let's invade more countries. Let's invade Iran or North Korea or Venezuela or Cuba or Syria or maybe even Russia, and let's see how much more secure we become.

James writes that there are two kinds of wisdom.

"But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness." (James 3:17-18)


We don't hear too much about these kinds of attitudes or this kind of living from hawks seeking empire or the Religious Right. We want security, so we wage war. We want safety, so we send armies to kill in order to be safe. "Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness." Perhaps, if we took responsibility for our own actions, if we did not live only for our own pleasures, if we found true inner security by way of the true source of security, rather than through manufacturing means of self-deception, we would not need wars to attempt to be "secure."

I'm not naive. I know that there are loads of people out there who are willing and wanting to kill every one of us even as they destroy themselves, too. It is reasonable to try to stop them. BUT, what caused them to want to kill themselves in order to kill us in the first place? As a Christian, it ultimately makes no difference to me whether the U.S. continues to exist, whether certain economic theories continue to rule, whether I live in plenty or want.

What makes a difference is that I love God with my whole self and, and, and that I love my neighbor as myself! What makes a difference is my motive for wanting or asking for anything. What makes a difference is whether I ask for my own pleasures or for the betterment of humankind, made in the image of God.

Into Great Silence

I'm going to see Into Great Silence this evening. I am so excited! Watch the trailer here. The ending gives me goose bumps.

Anyone left out?

I like this cartoon.

From the CartoonChurch webiste

Kendall Harmon's Mother

Canon Kendall Harmon's mother passed away yesterday. Please pray for the repose of the soul of Mary Ann Harmon. Pray, too, for Kendall and his family. We know it is a hard time.

Kendall posted her obituary, here.

As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives and that at the last he will stand upon earth. After my awaking, he will raise me up; and in my body I shall see God. I myself shall see, and my eyes behold him who is my friend and not a stranger. (491, BCP)

Most merciful God, whose wisdom is beyond our understanding: Deal graciously with the Harmon family in their grief. Surround them with your love, that they may not be overwhelmed by their loss, but have confidence in your goodness, and strength to meet the days to come; through Jesus Christ our Lord. (494, BCP)

Millstones, anyone?

I've been sick all week. Just a bit ago, the school bus that picks up and drops off kids rolled up after a hard day at school. The engine rumbles as it idles, red lights flashing, cars backed up, as kids stream off.

I can hear the commotion in my apartment - two sides face out over the street where the bus stops. A clear, exited voice raised up, "Mama! Mama!" He was so exited about something. The trust and love - the innocence, the excitement to see his Mama.

I just started crying. I don't know why. Not a bad thing.

Then, I started thinking...

It is so hard for kids growing up in these times. Growing up has never been easy, but in these times, well. So many kids - so innocent, so hopeful, so trusting - are being so harmed and their young lives bent and destroyed by so much of our culture. A culture that we allow. (Does poetic license cover using sentence fragments to make a point, or am I adding to the problem?)

So much of culture is degrading. I spent yesterday wondering through MySpace and so many of the high school and college age people, well, their pages are full of sexualized images of themselves or their language and descriptions of themselves is jarring. They mimic the adult MySpace pages. These kids are Paris Hilton, Nicole Richy, and Justin Timberlake wannabes. This is the impression they are fed and accept - image is everything; the image is sexualized; to be someone you have to be sexualized by exposing as much as you can get away with and having ripped abs. No substance. No depth. Only image. And we let it happen.

What are we doing and allowing to be done to our children?

South Park did a perfect job exposing all this in their typically rude, crude, and particularly gross way through this episode - "8.12 - Stupid Spoiled Whore Video Playset," originally airing Dec. 1, 2004 (I think). You can read a synopsis of the episode from Wikipedia. Here is the script, if you want to read it. It isn't for the easily skweemish - it is typically South Park. And, here is the final video of the "South Park Whore-off."

At the conclusion of the Whore-off, Mr. Slave says, "People, don't applaud me. I'm a dirty whore. [the crowd falls silent] Being spoiled and stupid and whorish is supposed to be a bad thing, remember? Parents, if you don't teach your children that people like Paris Hilton are supposed to be despised, where are they gonna learn it? You have to be the- [feels something in his stomach] ooohooho, Jezuth Christh. You have to be the ones to make sure your daughters aren't looking up to the wrong people."

I don't know. We spend less and less money educating our children well. We spend less and less with them, period. We give them over to other people to raise and to the culture, which is not the way to maturity, self-respect, sanity, freedom, peace, joy, or wholeness. It is the way of manipulation, deception, and making lots of money for some corporations and certain people. God, save us from ourselves, and save the little children. Who will be wearing a millstone around their necks?

More battles, less faith

It seems there is a fight brewing between a couple dozen Religious Right organizations lead by James Dobson and Jerry Farwell and the National Association of Evangelicals, representing approximately 30 million American Evangelicals. The Religious Right organizations are demanding the resignation or firing of the Rev. Richard Cizik, who directs the NAE's Washington office, because of his "relentless campaign" against global warming.

You can read the article on Christianity Today online.

"The issue that is dividing and demoralizing the NAE and its leaders is related to global warming," wrote the leaders, none of whom are members of the association. "If he cannot be trusted to articulate the views of American evangelicals on environmental issues, then we respectfully suggest that he be encouraged to resign his position with the NAE."

I thing the Ted Haggard incident may be a bit more demoralizing that global warming. None of the Religious Right organizations are members of the NAE, yet they demand the NAE abide by their demands. The NAE is moving in directions that these Religious Right groups do not accept. Since they believe that they themselves define who and what American Evangelicalism is, then a departure from their political, social, and moral agenda cannot be tolerated, especially when the challenge comes from the organization that represents far more Evangelicals than do the Religious Right organizations. Of course, there is cross pollenization.

Regrettably, some of the comments are just comical.

"The letter's signers, who included American Family Association Chairman Don Wildmon and Family Research Council President Tony Perkins, charged that Cizik has a "preoccupation" with climate concerns. Referring to a January USA Today article on evangelical identity, they said, 'We believe that some of that misunderstanding about evangelicalism and its 'conservative views on politics, economics, and biblical morality' can be laid at Richard Cizik's door.'"

Now, the accusation that Cizik is preoccupied with anything is laughable considering the Religious Right's decade's long preoccupation with same-sex marriage, with homosexuality, or with sex period. Then, to assert that the general public misunderstands evangelicalism because of Cizik's emphasis on global warming is just absurd. If there is a general misunderstanding of evangelicalism, is comes directly from the Religious Right organizations who have abandoned their spiritual mandate and have take up nationalism, right-wing politics, and laissez-faire economics.

The battles between the fundamentalists and the more progressive-evangelicals for the soul of American Evangelicalism have begun. Who truly represents American Evangelicals? We shall see whether the NAE gives in to the bullying tactics of the Religious Right demagogues. Anglicanism is not the only faith tradition with looming battles. Anglicanism may pull itself apart, but we are not the only ones.

An interesting article about a Roman Catholic, The Rev. Keith Pecklers, SJ ("a leading international authority on liturgy") concerning what Rome can learn from Anglicans.

I appreciate his statement about Anglicans showing a way to live with questions honestly and in the open. The few Roman Catholic clergy I know talk about the same thing - or themselves refuse to discuss "issues" openly.

Here is the article.

The Monasatic Fling

So, I was reading the New York Times at the Tea Lounge in my neighborhood this morning, and starting reading an article on the changes happening to social networks, you know, like MySpace and Facebook. There is a growing trend for more interactive and inter-connected social networks. An example of "Ning" was given, so I thought I would troll over and see what it was about.

There are several of us clergy that gather every Thursday at The General Theological Seminary on Thursdays for Evensong and then dinner. We hang out. Most of us have high-church, if not Anglo-Catholic, sympathies. I am a Curate and a wonderful and growing Anglo-Catholic parish. (I feel the need to specify that his parish is more progressive than some that have become quite reactionary against womens ordination, etc.).

Anyway, my clergy group has been discussing what kind of future Anglo-Catholicism has within the Anglican Tradition, and more specifically within The Episcopal Church (TEC). Anglo-Catholicism has alway made up a small minority in TEC. I read recently about an extensive study done by and issued by The Alban Institute, an Episcopal tank-tank dealing with issues of church growth, among many other things. Anyway, the report covered future growth trends and evangelism. From what I understand, Anglo-Catholicism is regarded as one of the very positive avenues of growth within TEC, particularly among the young and I suspect among immigrant populations. Go figure (actually, from what I've been reading about the younger generations and what I've experienced over the past several years, this doesn't surprise me!)

Alright, I went to Ning and created a new social network called "The Monastic Fling." The purpose may be anything, but I stated that it is a place where those who are frustrated with American Christianity might find the ancient monastic traditions a bit more helpful in our desire for a deeper experience of God and our faith than the trendy and sometimes shallow American Christian experience.

Check it out, if you want. I created the space to just kind of play around, but it may turn into something - who knows. The Monastic Fling

First things

I have said for a while now that one of the main schemes of the Enemy of our Faith in these times is to encourage us to be so busy that we no longer have time to sit, to be quite, meditate, listen, and rest in the presence of God. We don't take the time or make the time to be with God and to hear His voice.

We fill our minds and our emotions with so many other things that either do nothing to bring us closer to our true selves or actively work against it. Our true selves, by the way, are realized through our relationship with God through Jesus Christ.

I realize that all this religio-political crap has done nothing to encourage me on my way to knowing God more fully and knowing God's will for my life. It crowds out so much, it burns-outs my brain-cells and keeps them from firing in ways that enable understanding. Wisdom is lost.

I'm not talking about doing good theological work or Scriptural exegesis - thinking about the things of God, but about just listening and participating in the banality of the Anglican blogshere as we fight like worldlings, using the rhetorical and physical weapons of this world.

Fr. Cullen keeps telling me, "Bob, you've got to get away from that stuff." I do. The political animal that I am keeps drawing me back into the fray. I suppose I should, as others have done, fast during this Holy Lent from such things and focus instead on my prayers and filling my brain with good things. These are the first things, it seems to me.

THEOSIS IN CHRYSOSTOM AND WESLEY:

Where is deception found?

Retreatants Hear of Guises of the Antichrist

What do you think about this?

There are some interesting points, even if the examples he gives may rub some the wrong way.

Via: Drell's Descants

"Think Different"

On my website proper, there is a quote from Ann Rice. It is one of my favorite quotes and has to do with being open to the truth - and recognizing the difference between seeking truth and seeking affirmation for what one already believes. I'll include it at the end of this post.

I was praying for a very good friend of mine and his family. I haven't seen him in a long time. I prayed that he would have an open mind and discerning heart, that he would recognize the history of the Church and how things have changed, and that the same or similar things are going on right now in the Church over a wide variety of issues. I prayed that he would be open to continual growth in God's Truth, rather than seeking those things that will only confirm what he already believes.

Sometimes, that means that he (or any one of us) will be in a quite uncomfortable place. It is rarely comfortable when God challenges our understanding or belief or actions. In the end, as he and God work through the stuff, he may find that he has come back around and affirms what he originally thought or did, or he may believe differently. The difference is that he did the hard work of wrestling with his beliefs, wrestling with Truth, doing the hard work of growing-up in Christ, and being open to the Truth rather than simply and comfortably affirming current belief.

From my past experience, there is a huge hesitation (if not a bit of fear) among certain parts of the Church to delving into ideas or the writings of theologians or scholars that present significantly different perspectives because of the possibility of deception. There is strong belief that Satan and/or the systems of this world are always perched on the edge just waiting for the right opportunity to swoop down and plant deception in our minds, to corrupt our understanding of God and what is required of us and promised to us as children of God, and to supplant the Truth of God with a lie.

What this can lead to is stifled growth (not moving from spiritual milk to spiritual meat, moving from immaturity to maturity, even gaining more of the Christ-like heart and mind). What this does not mean is that being open to new ideas and concepts automatically or necessarily leads us to "liberalism," agnosticism, heresy, or anything of the like. It can lead to deception and falsehood. It can also lead us to a fuller understanding of God's Truth! We take a chance, but if an earthly father does not give his son who asks for a piece of bread a stone, how much more will our Father in heaven guard us (give to us) as we seek His Truth?

Too many of us simply don't want to take the time or place ourselves in these uncomfortable places to reconsider what we currently believe. In the end, we may come back to what we already believed - I've experience that. We may also move into a different understanding - and I've done that. When we go through the process, we come by our convictions honestly, rather than simply accepting someone else’s understanding or being intellectually lazy.

What has not changed one way or another is my (and hopefully our) desire to know God, to honor God, to worship God, to love my neighbors, and to become the man that God created me to me - realizing my gifts, potential, abilities, and the places God can lead me.

Opening ourselves to new ideas and different ways of thinking does not mean we put ourselves in a place where we will be deceived. Yes, the possibility exists. If we seek God's Truth and have faith that God desires us to know Truth, we have to acknowledge that what we believe right now could be wrong - no matter how comfortable it makes us. If we don't, we are simply seeking those things and teachers that scratch our itching ears rather than allowing challenge to force growth in truth and maturity.

What I didn’t pray for is that he will believe a certain thing or way of thinking – that he will believe like me. I can be wrong. I prayed for God’s will to be done in his life and heart and mind.

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

February 2007 is the previous archive.

April 2007 is the next archive.

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