April 2007 Archives

A good list to make

Sarah Dylan Breuer, and Episocpal priest of "Sarahlaughed.net" fame, started a list a couple days ago of points of agreement between - here is a long list: Conservatives/Liberals, Traditionalists/Progressives, Reappraisers/Reasserters, or whatever terms you want to use. You know, those disparate groups that are yelling at each other and driving the Church into division and possible schism.

Go to Dylan's website and participate. I do believe that if rational minds prevail, we will again realize that within at least Anglicanism that there is far more that we agree on that unites us than divides us. Regrettably, this kind of exercise can degrade into just repeating what one believes and what one demands all others believe, too.

We shall see who happens.

From this morning's Old Testament Reading:

Wisdom 1:16—2:11, 21-24 (NRSV)

But the ungodly by their words and deeds summoned death; considering him a friend, they pined away and made a covenant with him, because they are fit to belong to his company. For they reasoned unsoundly, saying to themselves,

“Short and sorrowful is our life,
and there is no remedy when a life comes to its end,
and no one has been known to return from Hades.
For we were born by mere chance,
and hereafter we shall be as though we had never been,
for the breath in our nostrils is smoke,
and reason is a spark kindled by the beating of our hearts;
when it is extinguished, the body will turn to ashes,
and the spirit will dissolve like empty air.
Our name will be forgotten in time,
and no one will remember our works;
our life will pass away like the traces of a cloud,
and be scattered like mist
that is chased by the rays of the sun
and overcome by its heat.
For our allotted time is the passing of a shadow,
and there is no return from our death,
because it is sealed up and no one turns back.

The coming confrontation

Here is the problem: Within the youth of this nation there is developing two distinct groups fundamentally different than the way these groups have been construed in the past, primarily due to the influence of adults (parents, youth leaders, the media). I starting thinking about this a bit more while reading an article in Rolling Stone entitled "Teen Holy War" about BattleCry - a radicalized movement focused on Christian youth for the purpose of compelling them be at war (literally) with those forces opposed to their understanding of the Christian faith and American society.

The first group comprises those who are "secular" in the sense that they have not been raised in any faith tradition. I've known many parents who claim that they do not want to involved their children in any particular faith tradition when the kids are young because they want their kids to be able to choose for themselves what faith to adhere to when they are adults. (It sounds all altruistic and modern on the surface, but it is a cop-out, generally, for lazy parents. Sorry, but that is my experience.) Then, there are those parents who themselves are "secular" whether due to being atheists or being honest and admitting that they just have no real interest in faith development. I have to say, I have more respect for the second group than the first, but that's just me and it doesn't matter who I respect or not.

These "secular" kids grow up not knowing the conceptual frameworks of "faith" in general and religious faith in particular. What they know comes from the media and perhaps some few friends who are able to talk about their own faith experience/expression. (One downside of this way of raising children is that it gives the kids no foundation upon which to make judgments about what is or is not legitimate religious expression, opening them to exploitation and recruitment by cults, which are still quite active on college campuses). Enabling kids to make sound judgments as adults does not mean we do not expose them to something while they are children.

The second group are those who might be called "religionists" and who are the type of youth that are raised within the radicalized segments of American Christianity, BattleCry being the prime example. I went to BattleCry's website right before the official launch. At the time, I thought this may be an interesting and productive effort, but I think I'm changing my mind. While I don't think there are any like groups on the radical-left side of the Christian faith, the same way of thinking is certainly evident among many “liberal” groups and people.

I understand the primary instincts and emotions of the adults who propagate this way of thinking and being concerning the faith, culture, economics, politics, and other religious expressions outside of Christianity. At the base level, the reasons are good - giving the kids the tools they need to be open and honest about their faith, protecting them from exploitation by unscrupulous marketeers and the like, giving them a sense of self-esteem even when ridiculed within the general culture, exercising their Constitutional freedoms of speech and religion, and passing on the faith to the next generation. All good things, frankly.

The problem is that the adults of groups that include the politicized Religious Right, radicalized leftist groups, and youth ministries such as BattleCry, is that they demand a form of the faith that is confrontational in the extreme, very narrow in its thinking, fundamentalist in its view and practice of the faith, uncompromising with anyone who holds differing viewpoints and beliefs, and then taking the next step of demonizing the other and declaring them "enemies" that must be properly dealt with.

So, in the coming years we will be confronted with the battle between these two groups as they grow into young adults. Of course, numbers of them will moderate their way of thinking and being and some will even crossover to the "other side." Yet, patterns of understanding, thinking, and behaving will have already been imprinted. If something doesn't change, and soon, the current "Culture Wars" will seem like a garden party in comparison. Radicalized Secularists vs. Radicalized Religionists. (Or, in the case of BattleCry, radicalized Christian Religionists vs. Everyone else) What will be lost is civility, the ability to live peacefully in a democratic society, loving one's neighbor as oneself, and a culture that is free and respectful of difference.

What is lost is the middle group of balance and thoughtfulness. What will be/is being lost is the ability of the two extremes - "secular" young people growing into adulthood and the "religionist" young people growing into adulthood - to understand each other, to work together, and the ability to compromise within the over all system so to build a respective and civil society where freedom of thought, speech, and action are still considered inalienable rights.

What must be done, frankly and regrettably, is that the "middle-way" must be asserted forcefully enough to be heard and recognized but not so much as to become a third group within the radicalization. What must be done, too, is support for those forms of the Christian faith that promote intentional maturity into adulthood, intentional faith development and maturation, intentional programs that encourage respect and understanding of differences (without political correctness or identity politics), and those programs that allow students to have a firm foundation build strongly and yet allows them to question and search for themselves. This is readily possible within Conservative Christianity and within Liberal Christianity, but rarely possible in Anti-Liberal Christianity or Anti-Conservative Christianity (and this is where we are in most of American faith-politics right now).

Here is a YouTube video produced by BattleCry, and I think the message itself is important and good - we need to do something to reach our young people.

Here is a Nightline piece on "Teen Mania" and "BattleCry"

Eatable Vestments

So, Reverend Lovejoy and his wife on the Simpsons rekindled their sex life after getting Homer and Marge's mattress. (To understand how they got the mattress in the first place, you will have had to have watched the episode.)

The Lovejoy's station wagon pulls up in front of the house. They jump out and run towards the front door. The Rev. Lovejoy says, "You put on the Michael Bolton CD while I put on my eatable vestments."

Eatable vestments. That's funny.

Speaking of the Church of England, just a couple new links of the melding of Emergent and the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.

hOME

"techno-mass" Listen to the Gloria and St. Patrick's Breastplate in a slightly different way.

Speaking of Lexington, KY (when?)
vine+branches

Oh, we Anglicans

I found this graphic on the Vindicated weblog. I stole it off of the Flickr site. Now, I know this is the mother church, the Church of England, but the fruit doesn't fall far from the tree for us Episcopalians.

coe.jpg

Will I arrive?

We truly know not what our future holds. I do not know.

"Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us."

If we know what is in store, we may never arrive.

What is "Anglicanism?"

I was talking this morning with Fr. Cullen after Morning Prayer as I walked to the subway and he walked to the gym. We were discussing what to do about the Study Guild provided by the national Church Center to be discussed by the Church concerning the Primate's Communique. We were lamenting the mess we are in.

Anglicanism is not an organizational structure. Anglicanism is a way of approaching the faith. Anglicanism is realized through organizational structures, but not contained within them. ( "Catholicism" may be applied commonly to the Church of Rome, but Rome cannot contain the faith "Catholic." Yes, lots of disagreement about whether that is true or not - whether Cranmer was a heretic - yadda, yadda, yadda.) It rests within a notion of "Common Law." Perhaps, this is becoming more difficult to live into the further we move away from the British understanding of the "Common" - "Common Prayer"

It is a shame when those structures that are supposed to be the embodiment of Anglican Faith tend to no longer act Anglican. Anglicanism will survive, by the grace of God, even if those structures do not.

Emergent and Contextualization

The following comes from regular e-mail updates I get from Emergent Village (the website for the ongoing Emergent Church conversation). Brian McLeran posted about his experiences this past year traveling all over the world and listening to many different and other voices.

From Brian McLaren:

"I have become convinced of two things in this travel. First, we Christians in the West or North (and especially in the United States) live in an echo-chamber; it's so hard for us to hear "the voice of the other" over the clamor of our own incessant and redundant broadcasting. Second, we desperately need to hear these voices, for our own good and for the potential of increased partnership in the future. I hope to introduce as many of these voices to as many people as I can in the months and years ahead.

"For example, in a recent trip to Malaysia (arranged by the hospitable and charming master-networker Sivin Kit and friends), I met a young Malaysian theologian named Sherman Kuek. Sherman sent me a piece he wrote recently on contextualization and tradition, from the perspective of someone involved in the emergent conversation in Asia."

Sherman is an itinerant minister and an Adjunct Lecturer in Christian Theology at Seminari Theoloji Malaysia (STM). He spends much of his time journeying with his friends in reflecting on faith, life, and culture in a profoundly theological and yet simple way. Sherman blogs on www.ShermanKuek.net.

From: Sherman YL Kuek, OSL


In speaking of contextualisation, there are (rather simplistically) two trends of thought:

1) The gospel consists of a "static universal core", a series of articulations which is time insensitive and perennially unchanging. The contextualisation project is simply about enfleshing this core with a cultural facade for the facilitation of communication and understanding. The core, essentially, does not change.

2) The gospel consists of a "dynamic universal core", a series of articulations which is time sensitive and perennially changing with the development of our theological understanding. The contextualisation project, whilst being about the cultural expression of this "dynamic universal core", is also about allowing the enfleshment process to provoke us to re-examine the legitimacy and relevance of the universal core. This means that the universal core, by its sheer dynamic nature, is vulnerable to being modified, changed, eradicated, retained, or reaffirmed in accordance with that deemed necessary.

I suspect that the "emerging" people are those who are more ready to embrace the second of the two approaches, and not anyone is willing to sit well with this methodological vulnerability.

But anyone who is seriously going to engage his/her context authentically would almost immediately see that the second of the two is probably the only way by which one can be authentically contextual in his/her theological methodology.

II
This section dwells on some further sustained thoughts pertaining to the "dynamic universal core". If we posit that the dynamic universal core is "time sensitive and perennially changing with the development of our theological understanding", what reasonable sources possess legitimate ascendancy over the dynamism of the core?

It is open knowledge that the emerging people are serious about engaging with the dominant culture confronting the Christian gospel (in the West the postmodern culture, and in Asia perhaps the postcolonial ethos). First and foremost, this engagement is about the vulnerability of allowing the dominant culture to challenge the Christian gospel with serious questions regarding the adequacy, accuracy, and even the absolute rightness of the latter.

But it is probably a misunderstanding beyond proportions that these people engaging with culture are actually permitting the culture to redefine the core. It is most likely that culture raises questions which shed doubt on the perennial universality of the core, but not necessarily that culture redefines the core.

In my observation, it seems to me that whilst culture is permitted the role of the "interrogator", the contextual thinkers are going back into the Great Christian Tradition to seek solutions for these problems raised by culture. They do not claim that culture itself provides the answers. They seem to have an implicit understanding that the Great Christian Tradition itself possesses more than a sufficient wealth of wisdom to provide plausible solutions for challenges posed by culture. The Great Christian Tradition causes one to expand and deepen the core such that one realises that his definition and demarcation of the core may have been overly limited and unnecessarily fossilised.

Thus, it is not uncommon for contextual thinkers to move beyond the boundaries of their own limited traditions (i.e. their denominational / traditional boundaries and familiar scope of theological positions) towards other even older traditions in search of responses to the problems posed by culture. This explains the openness of the emerging people towards the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox traditions and their willingness to listen to other ecclesial voices beyond that with which they are familiar. Again, this is not something deemed acceptable to every Christian thinker of every tradition. Some traditions are, by their sheer nature, implicitly closed to conversations which challenge the rudiments of their all-familiar categories.

The Christian faith is more than 500 years old. In fact, the memory of the Christian Church goes back beyond 2,000 years. The contextual thinker holds on to this wealth of ecclesial life and therefore understands that there is no need for theological insecurity, for he has a long, long history - a Great Story of which he is a part - consisting of multiple voices of wisdom who have come before him and who would be able to infuse wisdom and impart solutions in his endeavour to be a relevant voice within the present scheme of life. This is the reservoir of ecclesial jurors for the contextual thinker which many others fail to observe or choose to ignore all together.

For him, the challenges posed by cultural confrontations do not cause him to pander into a state of intimidation and self-preserving defensiveness, for he looks beyond himself and his restrained traditional familiarity; and behold, a world of endless possibilities is open before him as he gleans from the voices of his many Fathers who once treaded the path on which he now finds himself. Someone aptly comments (and the contextual thinker certainly mirrors it well): "It's not about the old ways, it's about the much older ways".

I want to add that, and it is my humble opinion, that Anglicanism provides the medium in which all these things can be realized in a more full and complete way. Why? Because Anglicanism encompasses within itself all these indices - ancient and mysterious faith from its Catholic side going back to the introduction of Catholic Christianity in Britain during the earliest days of the Church, in its Evangelical side with the long, storied history of vibrant personal faith and missionary zeal, and in its Broad Church tradition which pushes the church to question and think diligently.

Yet, we are caught up in pulling ourselves apart because of, what? Oh, lots of reasons. The only thing that matters is that the genius of Anglicanism is being compromised and made ineffectual by those determined to do the unAnglican thing of imposing their perspective on all others. We are missing the door open to us because of our own myopia and selfishness. What a shame! What a tragedy.

iPod Shuffle - 4:45 pm

On a relatively nice Wed-nes-day, music...

1.'Till Tuesday, What About Love, from 'Welcome Home'
2. Original Wicked Cast, Something Bad, from 'Wicked Soundtrack'
3. Rufus Wainwright, Oh What A World, from 'Want One'
4. Halloween Alaska, Telling Me, from 'Halloween Alaska
5. Smashing Pumpkins, Zero, from 'Rotten Apples'
6. Kat Williams, Here's That Rainy Day, from 'Here's That Rainy Day'
7. Anna Nalick, Breath (2AM), from single
8. U2, Rejoince, from 'October'
9. Sigur Ros, Hoppipolia, from 'Takk...'
10. Silversun Pickups, Common Reacter, from 'Carnavas'
11. Snow Patrol, Same, from 'Final Straw'

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 Word of the Lod

Quoting Habakkuk 1:5, in The Acts of the Apostles 13:41 -

" ' Look, you scoffers, wonder and perish, for I am going to do something in your days that you would never believe, even if someone told you.' "

What may be the "something in our days" that the Lord is doing - something that we might hardly believe?

The exact quote from Habakkuk reads as follows:
"Look at the nations and watch—
and be utterly amazed.
For I am going to do something in your days
that you would not believe,
even if you were told."

One might find it interesting to read further on in Habakkuk. My question above isn't meant to follow the course of action found in Habakkuk, but to simply ask us to think about what God might have up-his-sleeve for our time - beyond what we can think or believe, beyond our wildest imaginations. God usually works beyond our imaginations, I think. We need to expand our expectations and hopes - to begin to understand and see through the perspective of God's Way of things. There is another verse in the O.T. (don't remember where right this moment) that says something like, "God's eyes go to and fro looking for someone to prosper."

Another example of the sea change...

I've been saying for the last 10 years or so that there is a generational sea change being realized in North America, particularly in the U.S. To be honest, I'm less familiar with what is going on in Canada, but I suspect something similar.

I've said over and over again that the tail end of Generation X, Gen Y, and whatever is next, are of a different temperament when it comes to what resonates with them within the whole Christian melee and spirituality more generally. The Social Gospel of liberal, mainline Protestantism is dead (not to suggest working with the poor is dead, however!), the Baby-Boomer Seeker church experience has run its course, the liberal "god is dead" or perhaps "Process" theological perspectives have shown themselves to be not very satisfying to most people. The younger generations, so demographers and generationalists suggest, seek after something more solid and ancient (read, not trendy), something that restores a sense of mystery, and something that is respectful and none-condescending - unlike much of what passes for "modern" church.

I've said before that I hear more and more from younger people that they prefer the language of Rite I (Elizabethan English), they like the more formal liturgies, that they find resonances with contemplative and monastic-like spiritual experiences.

Now, I know that what I hear does not represent all young people and there are those who want absolutely nothing to do with High Church liturgy, old sounding English, or contemplative quiet. That's fine and good, but on the whole, there is a difference between our parents’ generation and the younger generations. I find that older people in the Church (the 1928 Prayer Book generation) and the young seem to have much more in common then the big group in the middle that now controls the Church. Funny, how that works. But, it is a good thing that within The Episcopal Church, and Anglicanism at least as it has been traditionally practiced, there is an allowance for the flourishing of different forms to meet the differing needs of various peoples.

I've also found that young people tend to want to be challenged to think and seek, but not told what to think or do by "authorities." They respect the authorities generally, but want them to help them seek and find rather than to indoctrinate them. No easy believe-ism for these folks!

Groups that do challenge, that take seriously the young people's wants and desires and NEEDS, that provide a way to the faith that shows seriousness and respect, are growing. Those that pander to political and social whims are not. I believe we will shortly witness a migration out of the neo-conservative political and social "Culture War" churches.

So, I found it interesting today when I took two young seminarians to lunch. One is 23 (or 22, I don't remember) and will probably be our seminarian this fall. The other is a young married guy. A lot of our conversation revolved around the Church, the young, what is happening, and what the future may hold. I listened, mostly (at least I think I listened, mostly).

These are smart guys. They go to General. They talked about their class and the attitudes and desires of their classmates. They even talked about an obvious difference between themselves and the "1960's hold-overs" that reign right now in the Church. "If the church can survive past the baby-boomer generation, there might be hope," from a rector friend of theirs who is a baby-boomer but recognizes both the good his generation has enabled and the baby they threw out with the bathwater.

I look at what is happening among the Emergent Church crowd (See the Episcopal/Lutheran Church of the Apostles in Seattle, Washington). Anyone who does not recognize the sea change either doesn't want to acknowledge what is happening or is truly blind. Again, not all are going to like High Church liturgy, etc., but there is a fundamental change nevertheless.

These two guys said there is even a semi-secret group at General that is regularly saying the Rosary. The Oxford Tradition of General is not dead, despite the 1960's "reformers" who want it to be so. How frustrating it must been for these folks whose life work has been to remake the Church into something else (what, I don't know), only to see young people raising the hands in front of them saying, "NO!" The "reformers" are now "The Man," and they are experiencing the rebellion of the youngsters and they don't know what to do with it (after all, aren't they the ones who are supposed to cast down tradition and authority and institutions?). Their work for naught, perhaps. Who knows...

One guy talked about his wife at Yale. An Episcopal Church in Newhaven has a regular chanted, candlelit Compline and the sanctuary is packed with young people. The rector doesn't know what to do - totally surprised by the result. I'm not.

Today, in the New York Times, an article entitled "Monks Who Play Punk," about a relatively new Roman Catholic monastic order in the Bronx.

"Upstairs, a 100 or more young people lingered in the quiet, candle-lighted sanctuary after an hour of prayer and song in front of the Eucharist. Brother Columba Jordan strummed his guitar and sang in a soft voice.... Two friars with heads bowed sat on either side of the alter, listening to the confessions of men and women waiting patiently in line."
This is New York City, folks. I see this kind of thing all over the place! And, then, there is also Revolution Church, which gets at the same thing in a very different way.
"The monthly holy hour of prayer and song and ensuing music festival are part of an event called Catholic Underground..." [By the way, some of the monks have a Funk and Punk band, complete with long beards and gray, hooded habits.] "...the creation of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal, a religious order founded two decades ago this year in the Melrose section of the Bronx. Members own no personal possessions and beg even for their food. Nevertheless, the order's 10 friars are bursting with new recruits at a moment when many Roman Catholic religious orders are struggling simply to maintain their current numbers."

"Yet despite the simplicity of the order's lifestyle, the Fr4iars of the Renewal see their message as one othat has a powerful appeal to young people in the 21st century.

'We don't advertise, we don't promise you glow-in-the-dark Frisbees, none of that," said the Rev. Bernard Murphy, the order's head. 'Young people are idealistic, and so we live in a community that lives a high ideal.'"

"'The millennial generation is a spiritual generation,' said Brother Paul Bednarczyk, of the vocation conference. 'I think they are searching for meaning in their life, and I think they are looking to do something that is going to have an impact on the world.'"

In the article, as it ends, the are a couple comments made by people who the order ministers to. We read comments like, "When you're running on an empty tank, they're pretty much there to fill up the tank;" or this from a women who lost hear let when she had an encounter with a fire truck, "Ever since I starting coming here, I feel better about myself. I want to live again. Everything I eat here is spiritual."

Interesting, ah?

I'm afraid a good many people in The Episcopal Church (and within many churches!) still don't get it. Not only do they not get it, they actively try to keep their heads in the sand. As a seminary friend of mine used to say, "I can't wait until this generation of leaders in the Church retires. Then maybe we can get back to being the Church." I understand the point and count-point between all generations. There is always idealism among the young and a reaction to their parent's generation. This is nothing new. Yet, I still say there is as much of a profound change in this generation and the Boomers as we saw between the War II generation and the Boomers. We shall see what happens.

I was sitting in the church office in St. Andrew's House (where I also live) updating the church's computer. The office used to be one of the rooms for the doorman when the building was the monastic house of the Cowley Fathers (Society of St. John the Evangelist), and so is right at the main entrance.

The children's choir was practicing upstairs in the library and doing quite a good job. Soon, they stared bounding down the stairs. Two guys, around 11 years of age, good kids, came down first by themselves and I heard, "something something something, 'damn', something something something..."

Now, I know in comparison to students being shot to death hearing the word, "damn," coming from an 11 year olds lips is quite minor. Yet, I stopped them as they neared the main door and said something like, "What did I hear?" They looked at me all quizzically like, and said, "huh?" I then added, "what was this about something something something, 'damn' something something?" They then dismissed me, continued talking to one another, and walked out.

Now, being dismissed for calling them on swearing doesn't surprise me or really bother me. I understand it, but this minor incident does bring up a couple things.

First, why bother with such seemingly minor stuff?

When I was working as a missionary to college students in Europe, primarily in Munich, Germany, the family I lived with had a son around 5 years of age. He used to get all over me when I would say words like "shoot" or "dang" or some seemingly innocuous nothing word. His mom didn't allow him to swear. Now, I thought this was a bit extreme, until she told me why even those words were out of bounds for her children. Do you know why they were out of bounds?

As the mom said, "There are so many very good and precise English words that can be used to express what you are thinking or feelings. I want my kids to use real words and not just filler words." I like that. So, calling the kids on using a word like "damn" is to call them, at least from my perspective, to use real words - to be smart.

Secondly, many of the kids use swear words because they think it is "adult." Now, in New York the "F-bomb" if an average New Yorker's, "ah." Saying "damn" is minor, yet it is something. If the kids yield to peer pressure and the belief that they will be more "something" if they use these words, smoke this stuff, do these things - which are all generally negative and play into their own natural rebelliousness - what is it leading them towards? Maturity? A strong and positive sense of self? True humility and right pride? Compassion? Strength? Intelligence? Self-control? I don't think it leads to any of these things, but more towards insecurity, an expression of self that is ultimately personally and collectively destructive, and a form of bondage to what others demand that they be.

Incidentally, as adults, we have a responsibility to be an example for them that demonstrates the best of human potential, that which elevates the society to greater forms of civility, of positive expression, and altruism, not to banality and base, purulent behavior.

The question is how best to discourage what is not productive and not beautiful or not good, and how best to encourage the pursuit of the beautiful and the good - for Christians, to love God with all our being and to love our neighbor as ourselves. Calling them on such things is part of it, but as they dismissed me in my lame attempt to be funny and corrective at the same time, sometimes the way we do just doesn't work. Sadly, sometimes our example compounds the problem.

Perhaps I could have been more direct with less of an attempt to soften the chastisement (which I admit came from a place of insecurity on my part). Instead, perhaps I should have called them on it seriously and with authority and with explanation of why those kinds of words are inappropriate - be smart, don't give in to peer pressure, let the words that come from your mouth be honoring to God, have a secure sense of self and recognize that growing up and being adult doesn't been you have to incorporate into yourselves the worst of our humanity. Who knows?

You think this all a bit much to hang on a four-letter word? Mayor Giuliani demonstrated to New Yorker's that if you focus on the small things, the big things tend to take care of themselves. Even his worst political opponents give him credit for that.

These are small things, but the more we call kids to grow into their better selves in the small things, I think the more we enable the big things to take care of themselves.

From Anselm


"Theology is faith seeking understanding." Anselm

The threefold rule

From a review of the Anglican Brevery, by Addison H. Hart in Touchstone.

" My own sincere belief in the importance of the Daily Office was influenced by, among others, the late Anglican spiritual writer, Martin Thornton, whose books (in particular, Pastoral Theology: A Reorientation; Christian Proficiency; and English Spirituality) made a convincing case that the classical shape of a sound Christian piety is the regular (regular in the sense of a “rule of life”) commitment to the three essentials: Eucharist, Private Devotion, and the Daily Offices. If one practices this “threefold rule,” he will be adequately nourished, inwardly transformed, and possess the right God-given balance of objective and subjective elements in his spiritual life. Such a rule is as old as the faith itself.

Of the three ingredients, the Daily Office—praying the Psalms and listening to the Word—has the distinction of standing objectively above and beyond ourselves and our worst tendencies to become emotionally self-serving in prayer, a condition to which many subjective and often sentimental “devotions” lead. Rather, the Office lifts us up to the ongoing prayer of the Church, addressing us with authority even as we address the Lord. Its beauty and benefit to us is its very objectivity."

The Archbishop of Canterbury gave a very good lecture to seminary students in Canada. He lectured on the Church's dealings with Scripture - it seems a fair and evenhanded treatment and a good corrective.

From the Archbishop's 16th April 2007 Larkin Stuart Lecture, Toronto, Canada, entitled,

‘The Bible Today: Reading & Hearing’


"Popular appeals to the obvious leave us battling in the dark; and the obvious – not surprisingly – looks radically different to different people. For many, it is obvious that a claim to the effect that Scripture is ‘God’s Word written’ implies a particular set of beliefs about the Bible’s inerrancy. For others, it is equally obvious that, if you are not that savage and menacing beast called a ‘fundamentalist’, you are bound to see the Bible as a text of its time, instructive, even sporadically inspiring, but subject to rethinking in the light of our more advanced position. As I hope will become evident, I regard such positions as examples of the rootlessness that afflicts our use of the Bible; and I hope that these reflections may suggest a few ways of reconnecting with a more serious theological grasp of the Church’s relation with Scripture."
Read the entire lecture.

-----------

From the, From the Anglican Journal, Anglican Church of Canada:

Williams bemoans loss of listening to Scripture
Marites N. Sison, staff writer

Apr 17, 2007

The Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams has lamented what he called the lack of “rootedness” in the Anglican approach to Scripture and said “we’ve lost quite a bit of what was once a rather good Anglican practice of reading the Bible in the tradition of interpretation.”

He added: “We read the Bible less in worship. We understand and know it less…(we’re) either underrating it or misrating it, making it carry more than it’s meant to, as Richard Hooker says … We don’t have a very clear sense that we’re reading the Bible in company with its readers from the centuries and indeed, at the present moment.” Archbishop Williams made the observation in response to a comment about a seeming lack of theological tradition among Anglicans, following a Larkin-Stuart lecture delivered April 16 before an audience of mostly theology students from Wycliffe and Trinity Colleges in Toronto.

Archbishop Williams also said that he wished the current debate on sexuality that has bitterly divided the Anglican Communion would be framed in terms of “biblical justice and biblical holiness” instead of the prevailing conservative view of “biblical fidelity” and the liberal view of justice.

“I share the unease about simply opposing biblical fidelity and secular justice,” he said, adding that what was needed was a “proper theological discussion” of the issue.

In his lecture (named after Canon Cecil Stuart, long-time rector of Toronto’s St. Thomas’ Church, and its benefactor, Gerald Larkin), Archbishop Williams examined the current practice of reading the Bible and said Christians need to be reminded that, “before Scripture is read in private, it is heard in public.”

Those who assume that the typical image of Scripture reading is a solitary individual poring over a bound volume should remember that for most Christians throughout the ages and in the world at present the norm is listening, said Archbishop Williams. This, he said, “underlines the fact that the church’s public use of the Bible represents the church as defined in some important way of listening: the community when it comes together doesn’t only break bread and reflect together and intercede, it silences itself to hear something.”

Archbishop Williams also described the “fragmentary reading” of the Bible as “highly risky,” citing as an example Saint Paul’s use of same-sex relationships (Romans 1:27) as “an illustration of human depravity – along with other ‘unnatural’ behaviours such as scandal, disobedience to parents and lack of pity.”

He said: “What is Paul’s argument? And, once again, what is the movement that the text is seeking to facilitate? The answer is in the opening of chapter 2: we have been listing examples of the barefaced perversity of those who cannot see the requirement of the natural order in front of their noses; well, it is precisely the same perversity that affects those who have received the revelation of God and persist in self-seeking and self-deceit. The change envisaged is from confidence in having received divine revelation to an awareness of universal human sinfulness and need.”

There is a paradox in reading that Scriptural passage “as a foundation for identifying in others a level of sin that is not found in the chosen community, “ Archbishop Williams said, adding that this “gives little comfort to either party in the current culture wars in the church.”

It is “not helpful for a ‘liberal’ or revisionist case, since the whole point of Paul’s rhetorical gambit is that everyone in his imagined readership agrees in thinking the same-sex relations of the culture around them to be obviously immoral as idol-worship or disobedience to parents,” he said. “It is not very helpful to the conservative either, though, because Paul insists on shifting the focus away from the objects of moral disapprobation in chapter 1 to the reading/hearing subject who has been up to this point happily identifying with Paul’s castigation of somebody else.”

Archbishop Williams said the point he is making “is not that the reading I propose settles a controversy or changes a substantive interpretation, but that many current ways of reading miss the actual direction of the passage and so undermine a proper theological approach to Scripture.”

Before his lecture, the Archbishop of Canterbury received honorary doctor of divinity degrees from Wycliffe College and Trinity College during a joint convocation.

I'm a Justin Martyr








You’re St. Justin Martyr!


You have a positive and hopeful attitude toward the world. You think that nature, history, and even the pagan philosophers were often guided by God in preparation for the Advent of the Christ. You find “seeds of the Word” in unexpected places. You’re patient and willing to explain the faith to unbelievers.


Find out which Church Father you are at The Way of the Fathers!



Google, funny

The people at Google have a sense of humor with otherwise dry and technical stuff, like directions:

Take 60 seconds to do this:

1. go to www.google.com
2. click on "maps"
3. click on "get directions"
4. type "New York, NY" in the first box (the "from" box)
5. type "London, England" in the second box (the "to" box)
(hit get directions)
6. scroll down to step #23

Virginia Tech

I really can't bring myself to write much about the shootings in Blacksburg, VA - at Virginia Tech.

While working with students in Chi Alpha at Kent State, I went down to Virginia Tech a few times for Spring Break outreach. This was years ago, but the connection is still present.

After all my years working with students, I find this kind of happening so terribly troubling. For Virginia Tech, this will be their Kent State. I know how the shootings at Kent so many years ago remains in the very place of Kent. It will remain in and through and at Virginia for its continued history.

What can be said? Just pray for those who have died, for their family and friends, for the family of the shooter, and for the community of Virginia Tech.

I cannot get over the performance of "Praise the Lord O My Soul (Greek Chant)" from Rachmaninov's "Vespers" by the USSR Ministry of Culture. I've written about the female soloist before (can't remember her name, now). I get chills every time I listen to it - over and over again.

I can't get away from this.

Old Jewish proverb

Steve Greenburg, an Orthodox Rabbi and a senior educator at the National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership in New York, spoke Monday at the College of Charleston on homosexuality in the Jewish tradition.

The "Charleston Post & Courier" ran an article about the lecture, and here is a few paragraphs where Greenburg tells an ancient Jewish

That two-way street illustrates a distinguishing characteristic of the Jewish faith: "God so loved us, He gave us Torah," he said. He gave Jews the Book, and it is up to man to read it, learn it, interpret its meanings and apply its lessons.

"There is no such thing as (biblical) literalism," Greenberg said. "Language is simply too slippery. Of course, that was understood from the beginning."

To illustrate the point, Greenberg recounts an old Jewish proverb:

Three rabbis are arguing about the best method to purify an oven. One insists it's already pure, the others - a majority - say it's impure. But the dissenting rabbi is undeterred. In an attempt to prove he's right, he calls on God for help.

The oven is pure as the aqueduct flows backward, he declares. And with a rumble, the aqueduct flows backward.

That's no proof, say the other two, ignoring God's intervention.

The oven is pure just as this tree uproots itself! Sure enough, the tree tears itself from the ground.

That's no proof, say the other two.

So the dissenting rabbi calls on God one last time: "Send down a voice from heaven to tell my brethren the truth!"

And God, in a booming voice, speaks of the purified oven.

Even this is insufficient to appease the two rabbis, for purification is addressed clearly in the Torah: Divine revelation, then, is accomplished in the house of study, with an eye bent on the book, not turned to heaven.

When the dissenting rabbi tells God what has transpired, God laughs. "My children have defeated me!"

With this anecdote, Greenberg argues for the "rich possibilities" of sacred texts. Nothing is black and white, he said, nothing so austere that mankind can afford to forgo argument and exploration.

I truly desire to better understand the way Jews approach, interact with, understand, and apply the Torah (and all the Law and the Prophets). This will, or should, speak volumes to us as Christians as we approach, interact with, understand, and apply the Old Testament and all of the Bible.

via: Titusonenine

The Duke University incident

The Duke university sex scandal had nearly come to an end. It wasn't pretty. One of the Lacrosse students, Reade Segilmann, issued a statement. Perhaps, despite everything that was so wrong about the whole incident, something good will come of it. If the students and everyone else involved will be able to come away from this with the same kind of attitude as Segilmann's, perhaps redemption is possible.

From Segilmann's statement:

This entire experience has opened my eyes up to a tragic world of injustice I never knew existed. If it is possible for law enforcement officials to systematically railroad us with no evidence whatsoever, it is frightening to think what they could do to those who do not to have the resources to defend themselves. So rather than relying on disparaging stereotypes, or creating political and racial conflicts, we must all take a step back from this case and learn from it. This tragedy has revealed that our society has lost site of the core principle of our legal system, the presumption of innocence.

For everyone who chose to speak out against us before the facts were known, I sincerely hope that you are never put in a position where you experience the same pain and heartache that you have caused our families. While your hurtful words and outrageous lies will forever be associated with this tragedy, everyone will always remember that we told the truth, and in the words of Abraham Lincoln, “truth is the best vindication against slander‘. If our case can bring to light the some of the flaws in our judicial system as well as discourage people from rushing to judgment, than the hardships we have endured over this past year will not have been in vain.

As the healing process begins for our families, I feel as though it is my responsibility to create something positive out of this experience. During my time away from school I got the chance to learn a lot about myself: Who I am and who I want to be. This case has shown me what the important things in life really are as my entire perspective on the world has changed. I view this situation as a unique opportunity to make a difference and I know that there are many people who can benefit from the lessons I have learned.

I fully intend on continuing my education and look forward to pursuing the goals I have set for myself. I have the deepest appreciation for my educational and athletic opportunities and my dream is to return to both by this fall. My ultimate aspiration moving forward, is to live a life that will make all of those who stood by my side throughout this injustice, proud to know that they defended the truth.

First Communion

I am in Ohio this weekend for my nephew's first communion. It really wasn't his "first communion," that happened in The Episcopal Church, where he was baptized. Now, he is going to a Roman Catholic school and participating in the Jesuit parish church, so the need for his first communion. It was good.

There was a reception for family and friends at my brother's and sister-in-law's house afterwards. Lots of people. A whole slew of kids below 10 and most below 5. Uncle Bob (that's me) is not used to being around so many kids for such an extended period of time. I had a lot of fun and the kids were great, but man does all that energy wear one out. As all the parents will say, "We've learned to tune it out." Oh, well, good for that, but I am yet to learn that particular skill.

Here comes my nephew down the stairs. He is 3 and about the cutest little guy you could imagine!

A different way of knowing

Jon Meacham, editor of Newsweek magazine, introduces a long article on religion in last week's edition. Meacham is an Episcopalian and I've seen him on a number of television programs surrounding issues of faith. In reading is long introduction, the influence of his Anglicanism and the Prayer Book come through.

For instance, the article asks the question, "Is God real?" and then enters into a "debate" between Rick Warren, pastor of perhaps the most influential mega-church in the country - Saddleback Church in Orange County, CA - and author of the very popular "The Purpose Driven Life," and Sam Harris, atheist and author of two books on why there can be no God ("The End of Faith" and "Letter to a Christian Nation"). In his introduction, Meacham describes Warren as one who "...believes in the God of Abraham as revealed by Scripture, tradition, and reason." (emphasis mine) This three part formula of "Scripture, tradition, and reason" will be quickly recognized as the Anglican "Three legged stool" and describes how Anglicans deal with issues of Truth.

Now, Warren may well have taken to referring to the Anglican formula as his own, and more power to him. However, I wonder whether Meacham is graciously applying his own Anglican understanding upon Warren. As an Evangelical, I don't know whether Warren would include Tradition and Reason as two authorities in discerning Truth. Anyway, I think it great that Meacham's Anglicanism comes through.

Second, Meacham is discussing the perennial and eternal, it seems, debate of whether God exists or not. He writes, "There are, of course, religious counter-counter arguments to these counter-arguments; the debate goes on world without end." (emphasis mine) Again, here we see the influence of the Book of Common Prayer in Meacham's word selection. We can also see the influence of the 1928 Prayer Book or Rite One from the 1979 Prayer Book, whether because of the poeticalness of the combination of these three words or whether he truly prefers Elizabethan English I don't know. But again, being an Episcopalian comes through in his writing, at least for this article.

Now, Meacham quotes Harris in the introduction as saying, "I doubt them equally [the Biblical God, Zeus, Isis, Thor...] and for the same reason: lack of evidence."

My first thought was, "It is a different way of knowing." Meacham describes Blaze Pascal's descriptions of his vision of God that resulted in his writing what we know as the "Pensées." The brilliant mathematician tries to describe this seemingly unexplainable experience of the voice of God speaking to him. It is a different way of knowing.

Michael Polanyi did much research in the concept of "knowing" and how we judge what is knowledge and how we prove we have such knowledge. He came up with the notion of the "Tacit Way of Knowing."

Polanyi said something like: in the West, this rational system we have, knowledge is judged by what we can reproduce through tests and other such "proofs." He said that if we had to have a serious operation, we would want to make sure the surgeon was the best - that he knew what he was doing. Yet, if that surgeon where to go back and retake some of the entry-level exams during his first year of medical school - chemistry, physiology, etc. - he would probably flunk the exams. We in the West would tend to say he did not have the knowledge necessary to be a competent doctor or surgeon, yet we know he is. Polanyi then says to look at our grandmothers. They make bread by touch - no recipe, no list, and if we demanded that they write down exactly the measured ingredients and the process, they couldn't. The bread is made through a way of knowing that the rational West has a difficult time acknowledging. Tacit knowing, intuition, and perhaps this knowledge of God.

We cannot "prove" that our grandmothers REALLY knew how to make bread if we demand a rational detailing of the process. We cannot "prove" that God does not REALLY exist because we cannot give a rational detailing of empirical facts of evidence. Knowing God is a different way of knowing than chemistry and its empirical evidences.

We want to demand that there really is only one way of knowing - Western, rational, materialistic, and empirical. In some ways, these guys are "Rational Fundamentalists" (use of the word "fundamentalist" is perhaps unfair, but...) - there is little or no recognition or allowance that there can honestly be other ways of knowing or interpretation of observable evidence. They close themselves off to perhaps a whole different means of discovery, expansion, and knowing beyond ourselves.

Meacham writes about Pascal's Wager: "It is smarter to bet that God exits, and to believe in him, because if it turns out that he is real, you win everything; if he is not, you lose nothing. So why not take the leap of faith?"

It's only a shadow

Though I walk through the valley of death...

It's only a shadow...

(Misty Edwards)

Found this while reading: Confessions of a Carioca, so I took it.

I like his Title line, "'Liturgy Nerd' was not one of the options!" Ditto.

What Be Your Nerd Type?
Your Result: Literature Nerd
 

Does sitting by a nice cozy fire, with a cup of hot tea/chocolate, and a book you can read for hours even when your eyes grow red and dry and you look sort of scary sitting there with your insomniac appearance? Then you fit this category perfectly! You love the power of the written word and it's eloquence; and you may like to read/write poetry or novels. You contribute to the smart people of today's society, however you can probably be overly-critical of works.

It's okay. I understand.

Social Nerd
 
Drama Nerd
 
Gamer/Computer Nerd
 
Science/Math Nerd
 
Musician
 
Artistic Nerd
 
Anime Nerd
 
What Be Your Nerd Type?
Quizzes for MySpace

From the Gospel according to John

We need to keep in mind:

John 16:12-15 (NIV)

"I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will take from what is mine and make it known to you."


Hallelujah Nuns

Easter Day may be over, but Easter Week is still with us. So, here is a wonderful thing to watch:

(Turtle Creek Chorale doing Handel's Hallelujah Chorus, with nuns)

via:Preludium (Mark Harris)

In my Christianity Today daily e-mail news update, there was a short article entitled "Re-engineering Temptation" about the controversies resulting from the blog entry by Al Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY, on possible Christian responses to ideas of preventing homosexuality through hormonal therapies that prevent prenatal homosexuality or negate the sexual temptation for one's own sex in adulthood.

This short article dealt with the Christian ethics if a true biological component is confirmed in the establishment of a homosexual orientation (not preference).

In the article, the author mentioned a five years study being conducted at the Oregon Health and Science University by Dr. Charles Roselli. This paragraph really caught my attention, for one reason that the author of the article didn't attempt to refute it.

"The story begins at the Oregon Health and Science University, where Charles Roselli studies homosexual sheep (about 8 percent of rams are gay). His research, now more than five years old, has confirmed a link between brain chemistry and sexual preference. But his data does not indicate whether chemistry or preference comes first."
At least this seems to suggest that if we look to nature for signs of right theological definitions and concepts, then we will need to conclude that within nature, homosexuality is present and a normal part, even if in small percentages.

So, here are two links to press releases by the university concerning the research of Roselli:

BIOLOGY BEHIND HOMOSEXUALITY IN SHEEP, STUDY CONFIRMS

BRAIN DIFFERENCES IN SHEEP LINKED TO SEXUAL PARTNER PREFERENCE

If science is done well, it will tell us what is observably and verifiable factual. What we choose to do with that information, those theories, those facts, is the realm of ethics and theology.

Alan Chambers, president of the ex-gay umbrella group "Exodus International" commented in the article:

"People like me who struggled with it and found freedom are more than sufficient proof that we can overcome our genetics," he said. "Science will never trump the Word of God."
Frankly, I agree with him, with a caveat. Science and theology deal with two different realms of knowing. Each, rightly construed, should inform one another, not conflict. After all, good science will help us understand what God has wrought. Good theology will help us understand what to do with the knowledge.

Science will never trump Scripture, but Scripture rightly understood will never contradict good science. This was the thought of those ancient Christian monks who developed the beginnings of our modern understanding of science and the observation of the world as it is.

What science may well do is help us understand whether we have rightly interpreted and understood the Word of God! In this case, if science gives us reliable and verifiable evidence that there is in fact a biological determinate concerning homosexuality, then the way we approach, understand, and apply the Word of God concerning this issue may well need to change - not because God changes or the Word of God changes, but because we are wrong in our traditional understanding and application of the Word of God.

After the science, then theology comes into play. What shall we then do?

Speaking of Dr. Rowan Williams, here is a good article from the Guardian UK, entitled:

Why the church must ease the pain of Rowan's Passion

Here is the lengthy message Bishop Pierre Whalon distributed to his convocation, Episcopal Churches throughout Europe, concerning our Anglican and Episcopalian problems of the last few years and the U.S. House of BIshops statements from last month.

This is about 9 pages long, but is well done and gives a good overview of, well, everything.

___

The Feast of John Keble, 2007

Dear sisters and brothers of the Convocation,

In the swirl of meetings and statements that have characterized this period in the life of The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion, it seems good to try to take stock of the situation at present. As you know, the House of Bishops met from March 16 to 21. We had before us a draft Covenant for the provinces of the Communion. We also have a disagreement between the American Bishops and the Primates’ Meeting, as expressed in our reply to their Communiqué.

We are our past…

The present crisis has its roots well into the past, of course. One could begin the story of the missionaries of the nineteenth century, who courageously evangelized people around the world. However, they did so not in the context of the local culture, but their own. They taught the Faith as if it were unchanging and unchangeable, not only in its doctrine but also in its moral teaching. As Roland Allen pointed out in his classic book, The Spontaneous Expansion of the Church, the missionaries changed their supposedly fixed morality from support of slavery to opposition to slavery. And it changed again, when birth control was allowed.

Until the mid-twentieth century, almost all the bishops in the Third World were Anglo-Saxons. When finally local Christians began taking charge of their churches, their Anglican moral heritage was already ambiguous, not only with the hangover of colonialist hypocrisy itself, but with uncertainty about the foundation of moral teaching.

My predecessor here in Europe, Bishop Stephen Bayne, led in calling together an Anglican Congress in Toronto in 1963. The Congress endorsed a manifesto written by Michael Ramsey then Archbishop of Canterbury, and the other seventeen primates of the day, significantly entitled “Mutual Responsibility and Interdependence.” As Bishop Bayne remarked at the time, “Some will have to cease thinking of the Church as a memorial association for a deceased clergyman called Christ.” Indeed. The new energy for mission that this manifesto unleashed led to the doubling of the numbers of the Communion within forty years, from forty million to eighty, and growing from eighteen provinces to the thirty-eight we have today.

As time has gone on, the extraordinary growth of the Communion is the cause of some chaos, as the First World culture in which the missionaries encased the Gospel has itself continued to evolve, while the Third World has progressively sought to “inculturate” the Good News. In other words, they have begun to re-think the Faith in terms of their own local cultures, which are not by any means homogeneous. Among other issues to face has been the ambiguity of moral teaching, apparently immutable unless “the whites” decide to change it.

The Archbishop of Canterbury

I have gone through a lot of feelings and questions with regard the current Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, over the past three+ years. He has lived a proverbial lifetime over the past three plus short years, and it really is unfair to him.

He was elected during my seminary experience and most of us, at least those with whom I spoke, were excited about Williams - a well known, well respected, and very good academic and theologian. He was the primate of the Anglican Church in Wales. He was of the Anglo-Catholic (Oxford Movement) side of the Church. He was then (and still is) a participant of a number of organizations that strongly emphasize an intentional understanding and support of the continuance of our Church's Traditions (our catholicity), while seeing our Church as being in very different circumstances then we were even 50 years ago, thus allowing for the positive movement forward in examining our approaches to the hermeneutical endeavor. I truly respect the man as a theologian and compassionate Christian thinker.

When all hell broke loose during the second half of 2003 with the American Church's consecration of the current Bishop of the Diocese of New Hampshire, we looked to see what ++Rowan would do. What would the leader of the Anglican Communion actually do or say? We believed his responses would be thoughtful, fair, respectful of all sides as his position requires, and consistent to what he has proposed and done in the past - continuance of the Anglican Tradition and with his own convictions.

++Rowan obviously has tried terribly to keep the Communion together over the past few years. I do not envy him one bit - really, this responsibility that has been laid upon his shoulders was not of his asking when he was selected to be the new Archbishop of Canterbury. He is in an impossible position, but he is in the position nonetheless.

Yet, I have gone through various feelings about him as a leader. For the longest time, I was perplexed by his decisions. I just didn't understand where he was leading and how the direction he seemed to be going would result in a good outcome. Then, I thought, "This man is brilliant. He will simply let the players play themselves out and as the Archbishop, invite all bishops to Lambeth and those who choose to opt out, opt out. They will not be a part of the councils of this Church."

Last year, I began hearing a lot of rumblings by English clergy about the Primate of All England, ++Rowan. The rumblings revolved around his inept leadership and inability to make decisions. Well, these are English clergy talking about a Welshman who took control of the English Church - who knows what is going on behind the scene. More rumblings about the real regret many of the English clergy now feel about his selection as the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Now, I really don't know what to think. Right now, I'm thinking that this man is a brilliant academic, politician and leader he is not. I hope I am wrong.

With this man, through a whole series of events and circumstances, a vacuum of leadership developed within the structures of the Anglican Communion and over the past three+ years others have quickly stepped in to fill that vacuum. It seems those who have filled the void are pushing the Communion to be something it has never been. Those who believing in maintaining the Tradition have not stepped up to the plate to challenge the Anglican innovators. This new Church, if they succeed, will look very much like the Roman Church. The same group is trying to force the American Episcopal Church (and really all the more "Western" Churches) to conform to its will and is assuming power that it never had, with little resistance by the rest of the Communion. Well, until...

From the last American House of Bishops meeting three reports or "Mind of the House" resolutions, were issued. From one, comes this quote commenting on the assumed and increasing juridical power of the Anglican Primates Meetings:

"It sacrifices the emancipation of the laity for the exclusive leadership of high-ranking Bishops. And, for the first time since our separation from the papacy in the 16th Century it replaces the local governance of the Church by its own people with the decisions of a distant and unaccountable group of prelates."

I do know that ++Rowan is a very strong believer in the collegial process, a conciliarly process, and I respect that. The only problem is that in order for these kinds of processes to succeed, there needs to be agreement on all sides that they will all sit at the same table, abide by the same rules, and that no one violates another or decides to take all their marbles and go home. This has not been the case, and rather than call the violating parties to account ++Rowan has bent over backwards attempting to accommodate them - to keep them in the Communion. He violates or gives up the very Anglican Tradition he so wishes to preserve. At least that is how it seems to me.

I have come to think that he is way over his head. He cannot make needed decisions and he is allowing himself to be bullied by certain other strong leaders. He is relinquishing his authority to others, and I just don't know why.

If he simply said from the beginning to the American Church, or to the Nigerian Primate, or to half a dozen other people that he will not tolerate this kind of behavior, we would not be in this kind of chaotic situation. There still would be angry people jockeying for power and influence in order to undo what they believe should not have been done, there still would be provinces that call for an Anglican realignment, still be members of parishes that left the Church, and all of that. However, the Archbishop of Canterbury still would be in control; loved or hated, he still would be in control. Now, he is not. He is giving up his authority as head of the Anglican Communion - the only real specified authority in the Communion - to a group of prelates who up until six years ago had no such agreed upon power. Being in Communion with the See of Canterbury may soon be only an historical concept.

He is taking a three-month sabbatical before the September 30th deadline for compliance by the American Church to the demands of the Primates Meeting. I just wonder upon returning whether he will resign, whether he will have come to some sort of epiphany, whether he will have rediscovered his spine, whether he might even announce that he is swimming the Tiber. Who knows? I don't.

I just wonder what could have been accomplished under his archbishopric if the force of division had not raised its ugly head. Perhaps this kind of leader he was never meant to be. Perhaps, his talents and subsequent influence would have been better served had he stayed in academia, or perhaps simply a bishop of a diocese in Wales.

I wonder if he has any peace of mind any longer.

Happy Easter

A glorious Easter Day to all, and a wonderful, meaningful Eastertide.

Was it worth it?

Well, the entire thread (the last two posts) has finally ended. The Titusonenine "elves" (those who mind the weblog) have shut us down.

I do understand what the guy is saying: the whole of Scripture speaks against same-sex relationships that include certain behaviors and that all examples of same-sex behaviors are negative and that there are no positive examples, either. So, whether there are positive qualities in same-sex relationships that include certain behaviors makes no difference, Scripture speaks consistently against all forms of behavior, period.

I contend that the presumption that all forms of same-sex relationships is a faulty premise to begin with and that this faulty premise clouds our right reading of Scripture, particularly of those few verses traditionally strung together to justify a anti-relationship position.

I agree that the examples of same-sex behaviors mentioned in Scripture are negative - but negative like: gang rape, in the progression of idolatry heterosexuals engaging in same-sex sexual behaviors contrary to their heterosexual nature. All examples present a negative image, but all the examples of negative behavior are in fact negative, whether engaged in by homosexual people or heterosexual people.

Of course, when Paul uses the word "nature" in Romans chapter 1, what does he in fact mean? "Natural Theology" had not been developed yet. And even if this were the case and we could look to all of nature, God's creation, to discern what is proper and what is not, how does one neglect examples of same-sex sexual behavior among animals (I've seen plenty of male dogs mount other male dogs, etc.). What does one do with human hermaphrodites? And, if we are consistent, look at the violence within the animal kingdom. Do we want to take this as our example of a right ordering of human society? It looks more like "social Darwinism - survival of the fittest" than the call of Christ to love our neighbor as ourselves.

From what I understand, the prevailing Hellenistic (Platonic) definition of "nature" is more like one is left-handed by nature, blue-eyed by nature, tall by nature, a man by nature, etc. Thus, if Paul was trying to explain something to the people then, did he use a Platonic understanding of "nature?" If he did, then "nature" should be understood to imply "heterosexuals by nature" who are engaging in homosexual sexual acts contrary to the "nature," likewise, if there in fact is a "homosexual orientation," then if homosexuals engage in heterosexual sexual acts then they, too, are acting contrary to their homosexual "nature."

But then again, lots of people disagree with this line of thinking. I don't really know within a Jewish system what "nature" might mean. We can certainly assume that if the Jews of the time where obedient in obeying the Law, then men would not be engaged in things like what a man does with a woman with another man.

By the way in answering one of my many questions of him (which aside from this one he refused to answer), it was made clear that his method of engaging Scripture is within an interpretive system that is not Anglican. He seems to be a premillennial dispensationalist, which if fine if one wants to be because God only knows what the end will look like, but it is not an Anglican theological perspective. I wonder what he understands Anglicanism to be, and why he would attend and Anglican church, and why he finds it rewarding to post on an Anglican blog. Who knows.

Anyway, the Triduum continues, Easter is shortly upon us. The grave will not hold!

I just love Christians, part 2

So, after my lengthy post (read the receding post), my protagonist continued to ask:

“I kindly invite you Bob G+ to provide sufficient detail on the particular forms of same-sex behavior that you believe are not forbidden by God.”

I thought and wrote and thought some more in an attempt to come up with a new way of presenting the "material" that just might make a dent in his armor. I decided to ask how he thought I would respond. You can read his responses (posts #125 & #126).

Here is how I finally responded:

-------
Truth Unites…Truth Divides -

You wrote: "My hope and prayer, as you meet and are led by the Holy Spirit in prayer and in His Word, is that you are led by intellectual honesty and spiritual integrity..."

This part of your sentence is exactly what I have done over the past 30 years. And that searching, seeking, praying, studying, discerning, listening, humbling myself, wrestling, more studying, more praying, has lead me with all integrity and intellectual honesty to conclude that Scripture, rightly divided and rightly understood in proper context and intent, does not say what anti-inclusion folks want/demand it to say. Scripture does not condemn all forms of gay relationships.

Now, if you can't accept that this is where the Spirit of God has lead me (and an increasing numbers of people in all Christian communities), I can't help it - as you alluded to in your second post directly above, my judge is my Savior (thankfully), and in His providence and grace I commend my soul, my future, my hope, my salvation, my joy, my sorrow, my life. In Him I live and move and have my being.

April 2011

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