January 2008 Archives

Christ-Centered Anglicanism

A good pastoral letter from a bishop within the Diocese of Lichfield (England). Read it here.

A quote:

If as a church our overriding priority, in worship and PCC meetings and wherever Anglicans come together, is who Jesus is and what Jesus is asking of us today, we will find these secondary issues look after themselves - because what unites us will then be far greater than what divides us. The churches that are growing - irrespective of church tradition or social background - are those where this happens. The churches that are declining are those where Jesus has somehow slipped quietly off the agenda and been replaced by the latest crisis or issues to do with institutional maintenance. No wonder that puts people off.

Via: Titusonenine - read the comments to Kendall's post to see what the "reasserter" side of our troubles think. Our attitudes are so messed up, and for at least some of the commenters of the post at Titus19 they have not ears to hear. The bishop calls us back to Christ-centeredness and right focus, but I fear too many of us would rather stick to the divisive issues that, like Peter, take our focus away from where it should really be.

The City #19

Just a couple random observations...

#1 - I was waiting in line for a coffee at "The Tea Lounge" in Cobble Hill (just north of Carroll Gardens) - this is my preferred coffee house hang-out when it is not just completely packed with people. I normally show up on Saturday mornings before all the stroller pushing mothers (sometimes with fathers) show up.

Anyway.... I was waiting in line for coffee and just happened to notice the number of laptop computers. I was waiting in line for a to-go coffee because there was no place to sit. There were around 23 people sitting around. A few reading newspapers or books or talking. So, I counted the laptops. Out of the 23 people sitting around, 17 were using laptops. 17! There were about evenly divided between Mac users and Windows users (normally, Mac's win).

Now, this scenario is repeated at Nadras (most exclusively Mac territory), another favorite coffee spot, and at The Fall Cafe (tends to be more Windows people - too bad). Now, at Georgia's, where I go Sunday mornings before mass, and which is definitively of the Old Neighborhood (working class Italians), there is nary a laptop in site. Of course, they don't offer Internet access, either.

#2 - It's interesting to watch people watch people. I was doing this on the subway train yesterday. A young woman was sitting down, the train was full, and I watched her as she watched the people around her. She was intent, seemingly interested, consistent, varied in who she watched, and I really wonder what was going on in her mind. What was she thinking?

Was anyone watching me watching someone who was watching people?

#3 - It is certainly easy to fall into the stereotypic New York City sense that there is little consideration for the rest of the nation. I was walking down the street last Saturday, coming back from The Tea Lounge, and thought, "It can be so easy to never think about the rest of the country. And, how easy would it be to just not care? I don't think it is a matter of not recognizing the importance of what goes on in the rest of the country, but that everything is available here - first. So much starts here and goes around the world before it comes back around. It seems that the rest of the country could go away and New York City (along with perhaps Long Island, parts of New Jersey, and parts of upstate where all those second/vacation homes are located) would be perfectly okay and may New Yorkers might not even notice.

Worrisome, indeed

The Remain Episcopal group of the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin held a meeting (Moving Forward, Welcoming All: the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin) this past week to try to plot out the future events necessary to reconstitute that diocese after its former bishop and Convention voted to affiliate with the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone (the southern portion of South America). Remain Episcopal is made up of members of that diocese who have been determined to resist their former bishop's and diocesan leaders’ moves to leave The Episcopal Church because of differences over theological positions and social issues. They have withstood lots of criticism, accusations, and rejection by their own diocese, just like conservatives have in liberal dioceses (and I personally witnessed the literal spiting of venomous condemnations by a liberal diocesan official concerning conservatives in my own diocese of canonical residence - I was shocked and very discouraged).

So, right before that +Katherine, our Presiding Bishop, sent letters to all eight members of the Diocese of San Joaquin Standing Committee giving notice that she no longer recognizes them as the Standing Committee. Well, no canon gives her the authority to do such a thing, as other bloggers have commented on (see below).

Episcopal News Service report of +Katherine's decision and letter

This doesn't seem to be going over very well, even among the traditionally liberal bloggers that have been unsympathetic to the recent events in San Joaquin and its bishop, let alone the whole "reasserter" efforts over the last six years.

Fr. Jake's comments on +Katherine's actions

Mark Harris (Executive Council member, commenting on Province VIII's dismissal of one of its representatives - form San Joaquin - to the Executive Council)

Finally, Dan Martins' blogs about all this and the tremendous opportunity +Katherine has squandered to build momentum for reconciliation. A quote from his post:

This is a monumental gaffe on her part. Unless, that is, she isn't really interested in inclusion or reconciliation, but only ideological victory for her side, in which case a scorched earth "take no prisoners" policy is the way to go.

The rapid disintegration of due process in "this Church" should be worrisome to those of every ideological and theological stripe. More on that later.

To be honest, I am worried! Accusations fly against “conservatives” who seem to flaunt Canon Law, and it seems that “liberals” may be attempting to do the same thing. God help us – if we stop being a people under the Rule of Law, we simply devolve into chaos and anarchism.

Considering my last post and what I have witnessed among too many pseudo-liberals/pseudo-conservatives I have encountered in academe and in "this Church," I hope and pray that those who really do want nothing more than ideological victory (conservatives and liberals alike) do not win the day. This has got to stop!

I don't care about the "winning" of my theological or ideological position. I care about being what Christ calls us to be, and that is found in The Fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23), the two Great Commandments of Jesus (Mt 22:35-40) and the “Golden Rule” (Mt 7:12), and finally Paul's definition of LOVE found in I Corinthians 13:4-7. This is what I want to win so that a world desperate for hope, peace, and reconciliation will actually see something worthwhile in us to consider. They certainly don't now - the way we've been acting - everyone one of us. Do we really think the world looks upon us and thinks we are good or honroable? Really?

Yes, theological and ideological "positions" do have consequences, but Anglicanism has always allowed for diversity and a wide spectrum of opinion to exist. I have witnessed too many people working against traditional Anglican comprehensiveness in the past - pseudo-liberals who want nothing more than to rid "this Church" of "those ignorant fundamentalists" - and in the present - pseudo-conservatives who declare a person a heretic simply because they call for a reconsideration of the way the Church deals with homosexuals. A pox on all their houses! Whitewashed hypocrites, all of them! Do you get the idea that I'm a little exorcised about all this? Of course, how easy is it for me to say, "I'm right and all you people better get your act together according to what I think should be!" Hypocrite, me.

Why do we so like to declare that the other side has compromised with the “prevailing culture” and not see that we have done the very same thing? When has “winning” become of utmost importance? When has the end come to justify the means?

Vindictiveness

I've studied and worked within "liberal" environs for the last 28 years - as a student and employee of public universities and as a member of the Episcopal Church. As one who even while in high school described himself as a "progressive-conservative" without feeling any contradiction in the term (I was a political and international-affairs geek in high school), I have seen and been shocked by the gleeful vindictiveness expressed by people both conservative and liberal when their opponents have taken a tumble.

I have to be honest when I say that I've experienced and witnessed the most extreme forms of vindictiveness and bitterness coming from those who describe themselves as “liberals.” I don't know why, considering that within the liberal framework they should be most tolerant and most concerned for the welfare of people of all perspectives. After all, a primary tenant of liberalism is that all have a place at the table and all perspectives are given their day in the sun. Well, that is "officially" what liberals are supposed to believe and how they are supposed to behave. The reality is something different - as it is with conservatives, too.

We should produce a new video series with titles like: "Liberals Gone Wild" and "Conservatives Gone Wild" and perhaps even "Moderates Gone Missing." IDK

At least most conservatives make no bones about being inclusive of all ideas or theories or ideologies or theologies or whatever else may be out there – or even being nice about it all. There is no pretense that everything or everyone is absolutely equal, whatever one thinks about that.

I'm watching some of the "liberal" reactions within the Episcopal Church right now over the Diocese of San Joaquin and its bishop as we suffer through the aftermath of their vote to leave the Episcopal Church because of their accusation of "liberal" heresy within the Church over the gay issue, as well as many other issues of concern. (Take note, I think the "conservatives" have acted no better - if anything the leaders are most egregious in their spin and manipulation of the truth as they've worked to discredit, repudiate, and replace TEC in the USA.)

I'm afraid that gleeful vindictiveness might well rule the day in the hearts and minds of the self-identified "liberal" leadership within the Church - and within the Remain Episcopalian group within the Diocese of San Joaquin. They seem to be too quick to "kick-out" or "inhibit" or "request replacement of Executive Council lay representatives".

I hope I will be proven wrong. I hope the liberals will act like true liberals! I hope everyone will act like the Church acted during and after the Civil War concerning the bishops and people of the Confederate Episcopal Church. The former bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin should have been inhibited. He made up his mind and acted by abrogating his vows made during his ordinations and now submits himself to another Province. The consequences of his actions are what was and is expected. The clergy and people of that diocese, however, are a different matter. We all get caught up in things and we all make decisions that we might come to regret. Grace, forgiveness, and mercy and all those words we like to throw around are concepts we really need to act within.

Can we be a little more patient? Really! What do we have to lose, other than our desire to exact vengeance? The Rule we should live by is not the way-of-the-world and American politics. The Rule we are to live by is "love thy neighbor as thyself" and "do unto others as you would have them do unto you." When the rubber-hits-the-proverbial-road, do we believe in this Rule or not? Are we to be shown to be hypocrites, once again? It doesn't matter how the other guys have acted or what they have done, folks. It matters how each one of us responds and then acts!

We have time, believe it or not. Let's let the characters involved in this drama dig-their-own-ditches and make-their-own-beds. The characters on their other side of the divide may prove to be no less apt to shoot themselves in the foot - to the detriment of the Church and the cause of Christ.

Dan Martins on his blog, Confessions of a Carioca, is dealing with this whole affair in San Joaquin quite well. People should read what he is writing. He knows what he is talking about.

Update:
Episcopal News Service report
Mark Harris of Preludium (Executive Council member)

A quote from Dan Martins' recent post commenting on +Katherine's decision to "dismiss" the San Joaquin Standing Committee"

This is a monumental gaffe on her part. Unless, that is, she isn't really interested in inclusion or reconciliation, but only ideological victory for her side, in which case a scorched earth "take no prisoners" policy is the way to go.

The rapid disintegration of due process in "this Church" should be worrisome to those of every ideological and theological stripe. More on that later.

I am beginning to worry.

Update: Letter of response from the 4 priests and 2 lay members of the "current"/"past" Standing Committee of the Diocese of San Joaquine

Fr. Jake comments

An uncle, again

Well, I'm an uncle once again! Josef Paul Miller, born to my sister Nichole and brother-in-law Tony. He was born at 11:45 AM, 7 lbs 7 oz, 21" long. My sister's epidural didn't kick-in in time. Ouch! She was induced.

What do we become?

I've really come to the conclusion that those who have truly struggled with their faith and their orientation, even if presently reconciled, bear the scars their entire lives to one degree or another.

This struggle and its ramifications influences relationships as well as general life. Perhaps only in hindsight do we know whether relationships and life are influenced negatively - of course, sometimes yes and sometimes no, right? It is not a matter of "being over it," because our very make-up is a result of our upbringing and thus the struggle; sometimes and with some people it can be a horrendous struggle. No matter how far we move away from our upbringing and earlier life, the influence remains even if but a shadow.

Where does this leave me, I wonder. If I put myself within the messy business of honestly wanting to know truth, all manner of things can result and I may not like the result. If I honestly seek after integrity, humility, and wisdom, then what manner of thing do I become and what must I struggle through?

If I claim to be this thing - a Christian - even if what I am is contrary to everything others say I should be, then when the rubber-hits-the-road and I bear the brunt of my convictions and have to struggle through the reality of my situations, what will I do? How will I act? What will I say? How selfish will I be? How hypocritical will I allow myself to be? I hope not much, even it if hurts, even if it doesn't benefit me, even if I face harm, even if I look like the fool, even if I am trampled, even if I must die, even if... Where do the "even if's" end in the economy of God, in the economy of Love, in the economy of the other?

A New Law

A New Law by Derek Webb

This may be a stupid statement, or rather maybe I'm just a bit stupid for thinking it, but I feel/believe this nation is coming upon a turning point in the way we conduct our affairs. This election hinges on a building public perception that something needs to change and the candidate that can convince enough of us and prove him/herself by invoking trust in his/her ability to tap into the public sentiment and actually present a different vision, a different way forward, and cause change will win. Are we in the midst of a primary cultural/political shift?

I read recently a commentator's thoughts that the country is in a similar position now as when Reagan came to power. Reagan called for a fundamentally different way of going about business, people responded, and he accomplished winning over a large number of Democrats. Some are saying the Obama is the Democratic Reagan and that he is able to attract a lot of disaffected Republicans. We shall see.

I've also been reading of late stuff about how the the state of affairs in this country is very similar to the way things were right before the Civil War. Different issues, obviously, different geographic outlines, yet the situations then and now are very similar. Likewise, I read an Episcopalian blogger talking about how the sentiments and affairs of the Episcopal Church right now are also very similar to the state of affairs in the Church right before the Civil War.

We shouldn't discount the severity of our national condition. I'm not warmonger or doom sayer, but do we see what we need to see, perceive what we need to perceive, understand what we need to understand when we all would rather just go shopping? Do we have eyes to see, hears to hear, or a willingness to pay attention long enough to do the good, the right?

World Christian

I've been spending far more time writing in my pen-and-paper journal than blogging of late and for various reasons. I've also been reading through years of past journals. I generally only write in my paper journals when things aren't going all that well, like now, so when I read 20 odd years of journal entries I tend to see one screwed-up person. Well, not all that screwed-up in comparison to many other people, but messed-up nevertheless. I learn a great deal through journaling, and even more so when I go back and read from my past.

When I went to Germany to spend a year doing campus ministry work in Europe, I hoped to keep a consistent journal just to keep track of everything that happened. I did for a couple months, but then slacked off, as I always do. Here is an entry that I wrote during a short visit to a student ministry in Montpelier, in the south-west of France on the Mediterranean Sea:

2-26-1990, Montpelier, France:

So far, this has been interesting. I keep getting German and French all mixed up. Its been fun meeting all the different people - French, German, English, Cameroonian, South African, Kenyan, American, and others. Lots of languages. Lots of colors. This has been really neat, although there have been interesting times of communication, or attempts at communication. Last night, we all (12-15 of us) went to Harriet's place, which was quite small. At first, I really didn't feel much like going, but after I was there for a while my attitude changed quite a bit.

We began worshiping and I thought we should forget it because we couldn't get it together. Finally, we were able to sing a few songs all together - French, German, American and British English, and other languages. We then began to pray.

As I thought about what was happening I was quite moved, but even more so now. I am continually so amazed at how color, national origins, culture, or language do not interfere with our brother/sisterhood, with our communion in Jesus Christ. We all sang and we all prayed, often not understanding each other, but all knowing that the One we serve binds us together. Knowing that the prayers we pray, not known by us all, come from hearts that are in unity of purpose and mind with our own. Thanking God together for our wonderful salvation, for bringing us all together, for the universities we serve and attend. It really was incredible. We serve a God that knows no boundaries, who loves and cares for us all the same, who has called us to another Kingdom to be citizens of another country, and to be ambassadors to this world.

If this is being a "World Christian," there is certainly no better way to experience it and learn how to be one. Certainly, staying in American one can be a world-Christian, but there is a difference. One cannot know how it "feels" until one is in another part of the world. I consider myself so privileged to be able to not just understand what it is to be a world-Christian, but to learn how to actually be one in context.


There you go. Am I a "World Christian?" It depends on how I want to define that. I have changed so much over the past five years and I realize that what I wrote above I still believe, but I also know that in many parts of the world the way the Christians live out their faith is alien to me. There is one baptism, one Lord, one God of all who does consider us all the same, knows no boundaries, and longs for us to be in unity. Yet, the way we humans choose to live out the faith falls far short when we consider the two great commands of Jesus. God is one, yet we are so not one, except through the mystical Body of Christ in which God determines membership and not us, thankfully.

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This page is an archive of entries from January 2008 listed from newest to oldest.

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