April 2008 Archives

Vestments (or what?)

Okay, so Low-Church or High-Church, Cassock-alb or Cassock-amise-alb, whatever you druthers concerning what are proper vestments...

How about these vestments of praise!???

Steven Cobert coined the term "truthiness" when his TV show, The Cobert Report, launched on Comedy Central. "Steven Cobert believed America to be split between two camps whose philosophies could never reconcile - those who 'think with their head' and those who 'know with their heart,' he explained, was the quality of a thing feeling true without any evidence suggesting it actually was." (Click on truthiness above for the wiki that gives some good examples.)

"Thus by the time Cobert took to the airwaves, by the time James Frey landed in trouble, the rift between the actual and the artificial had already become a topic of wide discussion. For many on the left, it was Bush himself who stood as the clear cause of it. A born-again Christian who credits unquestioning faith with saving him from delinquency, Bush is notoriously, even proudly uncurious about the world. Online, many bloggers highlighted this detachment by branding themselves of 'the reality-based community.' This was a reference to an infamous and revealing interview that an unnamed Bush aide had once given to the journalist Ron Suskind. According to the aide, opponents of Bush were part of 'what we call the reality-based community' - a label not meant to be complimentary, because to the aide, 'discernible reality' was a stock of faltering value. The United States was 'an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality,' the official told Suskind. 'And while you're studying the reality - judiciously, as you will - we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out.'" [True Enough: Learning to Live in a Post-Fact Society, by Farhad Manjoo, pp.191-192]

I remember a while back reading several articles on Neo-Conservatism and about those within our current administration who were neo-conservatives. One aspect of neo-conservatism mentioned in the articles was the notion of the "American Empire" - we are to be (or already are) an empire and should act as one in the world. Our current foreign policy demonstrates the ascendancy of this ideology. We can also see this ideology within the American-Christian Religious Right and their frenzied attitude concerning America - the idea that the United States is a divinely created and prospered country.

I wrote in a blog post a while back (among several) that I do not want Empire! There is no need for this country to be an empire! Why should we be? What do we gain from being such a thing? Certainly not security.

I contend that there are those who have made the United States of America an idol. American has become their god and they worship at the foot of this nation-state. Their sense of self-worth and purpose is embedded in the "success" of this nation-state and comes from imposing their way of thinking - religiously, politically, culturally - on all others. Their hubris blinds them to "reality" and establishes a fantastical idea of the world and their place in it - "feeling" over "discernible reality ." They would rather have goose-bumps than truth.

I am certainly thankful for the freedoms we have in the U.S., for the opportunities available to those who work hard (at least in the past), for our Constitutional form of government, and for the good that we as a people have done in the past (recognizing the harm that we have also caused), but as a Christian I believe that this is only a nation-state that will wax and wane, be virtuous and corrupt, and will ultimately survive as a worthwhile society only when we put aside our self-interest and work against arrogant-pride and the vainglory of empire.

Speaking of traditional church architecture (see below), here are some photos I took of St. Paul's Church in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn. St. Paul's is the parish in which I serve. I, for one, love the architecture (Upjohn and Cram).

Click here to see some photos I took during Lent (you'll notice the purple coverings).

There is a constant stream of people coming in to look at the church whenever the doors are open. It is a fixture in the neighborhood - a traditionally working-class Roman Catholic neighborhood that is gentrifying with bunches of young, yuppy types with strollers. At times, we have "stroller-jams" before and after services. I often hear people describe St. Paul's as "the English Church."

Oh, the humanity...

cartoon from www.weblogcartoons.com

Cartoon by Dave Walker. Find more cartoons you can freely re-use on your blog at We Blog Cartoons.

Just for the fun of it...

You think some "conservative" Anglicans are down on The Episcopal Church. You think some American-Evangelicals are down on Anglicanism, period. Well, consider how this Fundamentalist website views The Episcopal Church, the Church of England, and Anglicanism.

Let me be like the Religious Right websites when they warn you to click on a link at your own risk.

Clink on this link at your own risk!

A foretaste of glory divine:

" The Episcopalian Religion is straight out of the pits of hell. They teach that performing the seven sacraments are absolutely essential to go to heaven. This is the same damnable heresy which Roman Catholicism teaches."

Interesting results from a study on church architecture and the "unchurched,"

"Stetzer suggested that the unchurched may prefer the more aesthetically pleasing look of the Gothic cathedral because it speaks to a connectedness to the past. Young unchurched people were particularly drawn to the Gothic look. Those between the ages of 25 to 34 used an average of 58.9 of their preference points on the more ornate church exterior. Those over the age of 70 only used an average of 32.9 of their 100 preference points on that particular church exterior.

"I don’t like modern churches, they seem cold," said one survey respondent who chose the Gothic design. "I like the smell of candles burning, stained-glass windows, [and] an intimacy that’s transcendent."

More than half of the unchurched indicated the design of a church building would impact their enjoyment of a visit to church. Twenty-two percent said the design of the church would strongly impact their enjoyment of the visit and 32 percent indicated it would have some impact. More than a third said it would have no impact whatsoever on their visit.

Stetzer noted that despite these survey results, most of the churches that look like a cathedral are in decline. Just because someone has a preference for the aesthetically pleasing, Gothic churches doesn’t mean they’ll visit the church if that’s the only connection point they have to the congregation, he said.

It is a small study and I don't think we can made concluding or definitive statements because of it, but it does add to the continuing body of evidence and the realization that things are a-changin', and not in the direction that certain people want things to go. Read the whole article here.

Hat-tip: Titus19

Try experiments on my rats

I just want to repeat a portion of the C.S. Lewis quote below. I think it needs repeating:

"Novelty may fix our attention not even on the service but on the celebrant. You know what I mean. Try as one may to exclude the question, 'What on earth is he up to now?' will intrude. It lays one's devotion waste. There is really some excuse for the man who said, 'I wish they'd remember that the charge to Peter was Feed my sheep; not Try experiments on my rats, or even, Teach my performing dogs new tricks."

A quote from the book, "True Enough: Learning to Live in a Post-Fact Society," by Farhad Manjoo:

"It's important to remember that the death penalty advocates and opponents in Ross and Lepper's study didn't know that they were interpreting information in a skewed way. Indeed, Ross says, each of us thinks that on any given subject our views are essentially objective, the product of a dispassionate, realistic accounting of the world. This is naive realism, though, because we are incapable of recognizing the biases that operate upon us. Think of the Dartmouth and Princeton football fans I told you about earlier. When they looked at identical film clips of a game, each side 'saw' a different reality. They did not know - and really, could not know - that their perception of the event didn't match the reality of it because, for them, the perception was indistinguishable from its reality. How they 'saw' the game was how it really was.

"What's dangerous about this naïveté is that it spins out into our appraisals of other people. We're jarred and offended when other people don't agree with what, to us, is so brilliantly clear. 'If we think we see the world the way it is,' Ross explains, 'then we think that reasonable people ought to agree with us. And to the extent that people disagree with us, we conclude that they are not reasonable - they're biased'... 'If we let you look at other people's responses, we find that exactly to the extent that the other person disagrees with you, you think they're biased. You think their opinion reflects biases rather than rational consideration.'" (p. 152)


Do you think this may well explain our current Anglican inability to meet one another in a form of understanding that can lead to compromise?

The City #21

Riding the subway this morning, I had a feeling of dread thinking about the verdict coming this morning concerning the Shawn Bell trial. I'm worried about the outcome.

Update: The verdict is in and all three policemen were acquitted. What happens, now?

This morning I debated wearing clericals at the last minute before I left for work. Friday's are "business casual" at CPG, and frankly I didn't want to wear anything around my neck. Sitting on the subway, I wish I had.

There were a couple black people sitting around me, and I wanted to ask them what they thought would happen this afternoon. I wanted to know what they were thinking and feeling about all this. I didn't because I am a "white-boy asking stupid questions," someone intruding upon personal space. There comes a point when a person just doesn't want to try to explain a lifetime of experience to someone they know they will never see again - especially someone they think cannot understand to begin with.

Wearing a collar, well, there is still an identification with something more than someone who just can't understand and who won't do anything anyway. (Don't laugh.) With a collar, there is a generally understood justification for asking such questions. People still recognize a "something more than self-interest" - a concern that goes beyond the individual, beyond race, beyond being worried about my own lily-white behind.

The other thing is that the collar still gets a priest into places a "regular/normal" person can't go. The collar still gives me an entré into people's lives (strangers) that I can't enter otherwise (and of course the opposite can be true, too). There is still, remarkably, a respect for the collar. It's also becoming a curiosity.

Anyway, I wish I would have gone with my instincts and worn clericals. My soul is heavy, right now. There are no easy answers, and too many people will be terribly grieved this day. Was the judge right in his decision? Hindsight will tell us, but right now it doesn't make a difference. People are functioning on emotion and not rational thought. Tomorrow and the days ahead, hopefully we will be rational.

Waterboarding

Waterboarding. Well, our Executive wouldn't allow it to be outlawed.

From "unsubscribe-me:"

(Hat tip: Sam Norton at Elizabethan via Topmost Apple)

C.S. Lewis speaks

bls from The Topmost Apple posted this additional quote from C.S. Lewis in response to the Lewis quote I mentioned previously. It's a good one!

C.S. Lewis (excerpted from the book, Letters to Malcolm, Chiefly on Prayer):

"Novelty, simply as such, can have only an entertainment value. And they [conservative church goers, which he believes make up the majority] don't go to be entertained. They go to use the service, or if you prefer, to enact it."

"Every service is a structure of acts and words through which we receive a sacrament, or repent, or supplicate, or adore. And it enables us to do these things best...when, through familiarity, we don't have to think about it. As long as you notice, and have to count, the steps, you are not yet dancing but only learning to dance. A good shoe is a shoe you don't notice. Good reading becomes possible when you need not consciously think about eyes, or light, or print, or spelling. The perfect church service would be one we were almost unaware of; our attention would have been on God."

"But every novelty prevents this. It fixes our attention on the service itself; and thinking about worship is a different thing from worshipping."

"Novelty may fix our attention not even on the service but on the celebrant. You know what I mean. Try as one may to exclude the question, 'What on earth is he up to now?' will intrude. It lays one's devotion waste. There is really some excuse for the man who said, 'I wish they'd remember that the charge to Peter was Feed my sheep; not Try experiments on my rats, or even, Teach my performing dogs new tricks."

"Thus my whole liturgiological position really boils down to an entreaty for permanence and uniformity. I can make do with almost any kind of service whatever, if only it will stay put. But if each form is snatched away just when I am beginning to feel at home in it, then I can never make any progress in the art of worship. You give me no chance to acquire the trained habit..."


She then commented, "The 'trained habit of prayer' is, to me, the most crucial aspect of this; how can we advance in this if we aren't given the opportunity? If we can't make progress of this sort, we are lost and it's pointless to go to church at all, IMO."

Amen!

I think I'm slowly coming to some conclusions about who and what I am with reference to my priestly vocation and this unwieldy thing called "Anglicanism."

I've never been an "Institutional Man." Go figure. Why in the world am I then in a hierarchical institution to which I have vowed conformity and obedience? Good question! I can only answer that by saying that through discernment and the affirmation of "the people" - together with my sense that each step along the way that God was leading and two bishops' approved - here I am.

I have come to the point that when asked what I am, I say, "I am an Anglican priest in the Episcopal Church in the U.S.A." I say am an "Anglican priest" rather than an "Episcopal priest" because I have come into the Catholic notion of the Church. Our Church is Catholic (though reformed and not under the authority of the Bishop of Rome - which I do understand is problematic for other parts of the Church Catholic) and if we profess to believe that we, as Anglicans and as Episcopalians, are really part of the "One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church," then I must believe that my priesthood is more than with a denominational institution known as The Episcopal Church. This is one reason why I was so anxious and insistent that I was ordained a priest before the last General Convention (2006) - if the Convention made decisions that resulted in The Episcopal Church USA no longer being part of the Anglican Communion, then I wanted it to be known that I was ordained priest while still part of something Catholic, still part of the Anglican expression of the "One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church," still part of the Anglican Communion.

I specify "The Episcopal Church in the USA" rather than "The Episcopal Church" (promulgated since the last General Convention because some people believe to specify 'USA' is to be arrogant and noninclusive to those Episcopalians under our jurisdiction that are part of other geopolitical nation-states). I do this because while we have jurisdictions in places outside the geographical boundaries of the United States and its territories, there is not a single Episcopal Church within the Anglican Communion.

In this country, we are the expression of Anglicanism (an Episcopal Church) within the geopolitical boundaries of the USA. In our missionary work in other parts of the world, we should be striving to build indigenous churches with their own identity - "The Episcopal Church in Ecuador" or in Taiwan, for example. We support them in their efforts, but shouldn't think that we should keep them under this "American Church." That is paternalistic. There is a sense of self-loathing coming from those who insist that this Episcopal Church USA needs to take on a different identity other than "Anglo" or "American" as a heritage and cultural-ethos because there are people who are currently part of us from other cultures and countries that we are helping to become self-sufficient and independent that are not Anglo or American. We don't have to deny who we are or what we have been in order to help build the Church in other cultures and countries, unless of course we hate ourselves. Some do, and it is sad. To truly celebrate diversity and to truly appreciate other cultures, we must first understand and appreciate our own. If we hate our own, we cannot honestly understand or appreciate what other cultures have to offer us.

The Episcopal Church USA is not an "international Church" akin to the international nature of the Anglican Communion. IMHO, this is profoundly disrespectful, in ways only Americans can be, to those "Episcopal Church" jurisdictions in other parts of the world, like the Episcopal Church of Scotland. We are not "The" only Episcopal Church within the Anglican Communion, and to drop the "in the USA" implies that perhaps we are. It also implies that we are alone - better than, superior to, those other Episcopal Churches of the world, either separate now or seeking eventual, rightful independence from our jurisdiction. Take that, rabid political correctness!

I also believe it is a sin to continually divide the Church organic because of our particular dogmatic demands that the Church give way to every whim devised by our very limited and prideful notions of what Jesus means when he calls the Church to be, something. Perhaps the 2,000+ Tradition really does have something to say to our very limited and parochial-zeitgeist. Like my previous post mentions from the author Sarah Cunningham, "This kind of unexpected idolatry—the obsession with living in despair over what is wrong with the institutionalized church—creeps up on you (like most shifty little idols do). … Criticism becomes what we end up worshiping."

I am an Anglican priest that has vowed to obey my bishop, that is a bishop in The Episcopal Church in the USA, part of the Anglican Communion, institutions within the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.

All that being said, I'm really tired of the Idolatry that has resulted from the inter-perspectival fights between liberals and conservatives, The Episcopal Church USA hierarchy and rebellious priests, parishes, and bishops - both here and abroad - and my part in it all. I want and need to stop. (Although, I think I've worked for moderation and continued communion between us all rather than trying to force a particular theological or ideological perspective that results in schism!)

"Anglican" is an ethos or heritage as much as it is an institution. The institutions may crumble under the weight of our hubris, selfishness, and fear, but the "Anglican Way" will hopefully remain. I want it to, I will work for its survival even if the institution does not survive, and I will remain an Anglican priest.

That's what I'm think right now, anyway.

Generational voice #1

Generational voices:

Here is a 20-something woman writing a review of two books concerning the "Disillusioned Generation" in Christianity Today On-Line. The author is Katie Galli, "a barista and a member of an Anglican congregation in Glen Ellyn, Illinois." Since she says she is a member of an "Anglican" church rather than an "Episcopal" church, I suspect she may be a member of Church of the Resurrection (which has a great website and states that it is actually in Glen Ellyn). There are a number of "Anglican" churches in the area, which is in close proximity to Wheaton, IL, and Wheaton College.

Her review is entitled: Dear Disillusioned Generation: The 'failed experiment' called the church still looks better than the alternatives and was posted 4/21/2008 08:45AM.

Yes, we're Americans. We multitask all day long. Efficiency is one of our top cultural values. I, too, am pragmatic. I'd like to use Sunday morning to worship God, to get a few pointers on how to improve my relationship with Jesus, and to reconnect with community. But every Sunday, the first words heard at my institutional church are, "Blessed be God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit." And I'm reminded that we gather weekly not to hear a practical talk on how to better live out our faith or to provide a venue to tell our friends about Jesus. We gather corporately to worship God, to celebrate the redeeming work of Christ on the cross, and to remember that our lives are not about us.

Sanders and Cunningham don't completely disagree. Each spends some time giving a kick in the pants to the disillusioned, and Cunningham's warning hits home: "This kind of unexpected idolatry—the obsession with living in despair over what is wrong with the institutionalized church—creeps up on you (like most shifty little idols do). … Criticism becomes what we end up worshiping." She encourages 20-somethings to have a little more grace and patience with the failures of the church and ends her book with a love letter to the church.

The church can indeed be bureaucratic, inefficient, and, at times, hopelessly outdated. It remains one of the most embarrassing institutions to which one can belong. But it has also given us a 2,000-year legacy of saints and social reformers, and a rich liturgy and theology—the very gift 20-somethings need to grow into the full stature of Christ. [emphasis mine]


The books she reviews are:
+ Life After Church: God's Call to Disillusioned Christians, by Brian Sanders (InterVarsity)
+ Dear Church: Letters from a Disillusioned Generation, by Sarah Cunningham (Zondervan)

X-Files Movie

Read here about the new `X-Files' movie entitled: `I Want to Believe'

We do not want stagnation, but...

"Rightly or wrongly, men are conservative in their religious habits, changes comes slowly and after much thought and a period of uncertainty. Indeed, the strength of religion in human history has been due to its conservative tenacity... Much that was stated dogmatically in the nineteenth century is now having to be modified. Before changes are again made in this age we need to be certain that they are based on more secure foundations. We do not want stagnation in the life of our Church, but stability. In the restlessness and rootlessness that characterize our contemporary society changes and reforms are to be embraced with due circumspection. In Christian worship and its art the element of tradition cannot be entirely eliminated or ignored, since it is based not merely on conservatism, but also on the wisdom and experience of the past." [emphasis mine]

(Cyril R. Pocknee, The Parson's Handbook Revised Edition: 1965, pg xix. [First edition by Percy Dearmer, 1899])

Note: "Conservative" here, if not abundantly apparent, is "to conserve" and should not be associated with any ideological or socio-political or socio-religions notions.

Generations of Evangelicals

I like listening to Speaking of Faith with Krista Tippett. A very interesting radio broadcast - 7:00 AM Saturday mornings. Prime time for me. The differences in attitude and perspective of the three generations that still believe equally concerning the "fundamentals" of the faith, yet have very different opinions on how to live out such faith in the world today are apparent.

Here is a link to a recent episode where Krista interviewed three generations of leaders within the Evangelical movement: Chuck Colson - founder of Prison Fellowship and author of God & Government; Greg Boyd - founder and senior pastor of Woodland Hills Church, a megachurch in Minnesota, and author of The Myth of a Christian Nation; and Shane Claiborne - founder of The Simple Way and co-author of Jesus for President.

Listen or watch the interview.

I heard that this lecture by the Pope was excellent, so I am saving it to read later. It is just easier throwing it up here and coming back to it than searching through the Web again, although I know that it is probably quite easy to find.

-------------

DISCOURSE OF POPE BENEDICT XVI
TO THE REPRESENTATIVES OF OTHER CHRISTIAN COMMUNITIES
SAINT JOSEPH'S CHURCH, YORKVILLE
NEW YORK
18 APRIL 2008

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

My heart abounds with gratitude to Almighty God - "the Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all" (Eph 4:6) - for this blessed opportunity to gather with you this evening in prayer. I thank Bishop Dennis Sullivan for his cordial welcome, and I warmly greet all those in attendance representing Christian communities throughout the United States. May the peace of our Lord and Savior be with you all!

Fr. Tobias Haller over at In a Godward Direction picked up on my post below about Radical Welcome. Several people commented on his blog and one of his responses I thought is very important to remember as we think about High Church liturgy, Anglo-Catholicism, Tradition, young people and Baby Boomers:

I intend to spend a little time this afternoon working (and praying) on an icon of St James of Jerusalem -- but want to take a moment to second what Phil observes here, as it is well in keeping with the sentiments of the Epistle of James. Orthodoxy is useless if it doesn't lead to orthopraxy; and our worship of God is empty (however beautiful) if it doesn't impel us and nourish us for service to Christ's suffering body in the world.

This really was the classical impulse of the Anglo-Catholic movement in the hands of such as Pusey --- not simply solemn worship, but serious mission and ministry as well. There is an untapped vein of the Spirit waiting to be opened: youth today are rebelling as much against the self-satisfaction of the Boomers as the acquisitive success orientation of their children. God willing, the church is ready to enter a new age of service and worship and mission and ministry. Christ is honored in all of these, but most especially in the ministry to the living icons who populate our cities' streets, and labor in our fields.

The proof is in the puddin' and if we don't do the stuff that Jesus called us to do, as another commenter mentioned, the authenticity that is so important to younger people will be lost. Do we mean this stuff, or not? Really, do we mean it...

The City #20

Today is a day! This is the first really warm day and the streets are packed. I walked over to the Library at Bryant Park to eat my soup. Walking through the park afterwards in a sea of people. People eating, people reading. People talking, people starring. Eye Candy! Chess played, stone laid, children whirling, long lines for sandwiches. Balls rolling on the Boule courts, cameras pointing in every direction.

A guy talking excitedly to female table mates, "There is no city like New York. No city like New York - let's just get that straight!"

Fountain spraying, cutest-in-the-world puppies roaming - women watching with big smiles. Pope at the U.N. and Yorktown, a 15 minute walk from here. Germanic evangelist talking about Jesus to "Savvy Americans." Every shape, every color, every sound imaginable - all packed together. The lawn rests, this day.

This kind of day makes me thrilled that I live in New York City, "No city like New York..." Makes me want to not just live in Brooklyn, but in Manhattan. (Okay, I really like were I live in Brooklyn, but there it is different.) Makes me not want to leave.

This is a day in the City!

Knee-jerk Reactions & Tyranny

One of the problems that I've realized after being engrossed in all the political and theological battles of this Church since 2003 (for my whole priestly formation and ministry, regrettably) is that I now have knee-jerk reactions against both sides - liberals and conservatives, reasserters and reappraisers, low-church and high-church, Evangelical and Catholic - how many other dichotomies can I mention?

I can say the same thing about the Culture Wars.

I've tried to take the middle ground and understand the perspectives of the various sides. I truly believe it is incumbent upon me to be able to argue my "opponents" points at least as well as they can. Funny what stays with me from my high school debate class. I've argued for a middle way on various blogs, though inadequately I realize.

I've recognize that these "wars" are corruptive and addictive, but to completely disengage is to allow the extremists to win and to see the Church destroyed, our political system destroyed, all because one group will not rest until their perspective is imposed upon us all. Tyranny, I say!

There is a great quote from C.S. Lewis:

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

"Radical Identity"

Let's talk about Radical Welcome, errr, I would rather talk about "Radical Identity!"

I'm going to get into trouble, I just know it!

I think I want to talk about "Radical Identity," by which I mean that I identify not with any earthly or human ideology or scheme, but I identify with Jesus Christ. Identifying with Jesus Christ is a radical endeavor in our society these days. To identity with Jesus one has to die to self, to one's sense of fairness, to one's sense of justice, to one's sense of affirmation. To identify with Jesus one has to give up everything. (Of course, in giving up ourselves, we find ourselves. Don't you love oxymoronic notions of things!)

It isn't very politically-correct to identify with Jesus considering how terribly exclusive Jesus is when he says things like, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father but by me." or, when Jesus wouldn't allow the rich-young-ruler to follow him on the rich-young-ruler's own terms. Jesus just let him walk away - he must have felt very rejected. Jesus and his community completely missed out on this rich-young-ruler's gifts and talents and voice, let alone all that money!

So, while others may want to identify with this or that new and improved "radical scheme," I'll be a recalcitrant who-knows-what and just stick with radically identifying with Jesus, as much as is possible with me and with God's help.

Radical Welcome

The blog, Fr. Jake Stops the World, which I like to read, has a new entry on "radical welcome." Fr. Jake writes:

As the chart on page 3 of this document makes clear, "radical welcome" goes beyond being an "inviting", or even "inclusive" Church. For instance, compare the message of those three approaches:

The message of the Inviting Church - " Come, join our community and share our cultural values and heritage.”

The message of the Inclusive Church - “Help us to be diverse.”

The message of the Radically Welcoming Church - “Bring your culture, your voice, your whole self—we want to engage in truly mutual relationship.”

Do you see the difference? Instead of a transaction, in which we assume The Other wants something we have, a radical welcome is an invitation to enter into a mutual relationship.

Is there some risk involved? Of course. And lots of fear. One of the greatest fears of the Church in general, and many of our members specifically, is the fear of change. And if we welcome in The Other, the outcasts, those who are somehow "different," things are definately going to change. And maybe we won't like it.


Okay, so I made a comment on his blog, which I include below:

What distinguishes what I hear as “radical welcome” from, say, the current ethos of Unitarian Universalism but with liturgy? As I looked for a faith tradition to become involved in, I chose Anglicanism (TEC) because I saw in it a means of faith that hadn’t given up on the time-honored Tradition – that which has lasted through trend and whim over the centuries – and at the same time was not caught up in “traditionalism.” There was a declaration in the BCP that “this is what we believe,” but an allowance for questioning and doubt that wasn’t tied to hyper-individualism and rebellion.

I know that at times “converts” can be the most resilient concerning change – “Look what I’ve found; now you want to change it all.” Granted, there is resistance to change always, but sometimes when resistance presents itself against “change for change’s sake,” the resistance is not a bad thing. Think God there was resistance to tearing down Grand Central Station in NYC against the “modernizers” that already tore down Penn-Station.

Jarosloav Pelikan stated, “The only alternative to Tradition is bad tradition.”

There seems to me a compulsion among the “Baby-Boomer” generation (and yes this is a generalization) for continual change. In my dealing with the younger generations, they are frankly sick of it. Of course change is constant in their own lives, but what they seem to be seeking in a world-of-nothing-but-change is a constant – something they can hold on to and be sure of. That’s why, I think, traditional forms of church architecture, language, liturgy, hymnology, and the like are so attractive to younger people – often to the chagrin of their elders.

Jesus was most certainly radical in his inclusion and welcome of the people his culture demeaned and rejected, but it was always to be included in and welcomed into this one thing – as he defined it, the Kingdom of God. The rich-young-ruler, when he finally could not sell all that he had as Jesus demanded as a condition for following him, was not then given the option by Jesus to “just come along anyway.” The rich-young-ruler walked off, un-included. Jesus unbiasedly invited him into this forming Church, but not in order for the rich-young-ruler to help him decided what the forming Church was to become. There was an eternal constant that Jesus upheld and to which he required conformity that resulted in the capitulation of individual notions of things. I welcome anyone, even those the present culture ridicules and condemns, but I welcome them into something that is beyond me and beyond us.

So, if “radical welcome” is considered true and not just the desired imposition of yet another ideology, what am I to think as I keep hearing from young people that this generation of leadership is completely unresponsive, will not listen, will not consider what they as “the future of the Church” are truly seeking? An NYU student makes a comment that, “We really do like Rite I!” The rector shakes his head, dumbfounded that this could actually be possible, and says, “I keep hearing this, but I don’t understand it and just can’t believe it.” If the younger generations seek that which is ancient, tried and true, not trendy, and if they don’t have issues surrounding ancient stuff, “inclusive language,” male imagery, etc., etc., will your generation allow that? My experience thus far is that you will not – and I’m not what one would call a “reactionary conservative.” I’ve worked in academe for a long time now and in this Episcopal Church and to my chagrin I have found the most un-inclusive people to be those who yell “inclusion” the most. This is just my experience, for what it is worth. There’s got to be a better way.

The Anglican Covenant

This past week General Theological Seminary held a conference on the Covenant proposed by the Windsor Report as a means of preserving the Anglican Communion.

The Living Church, an independent weekly covering The Episcopal Church and Anglicanism, reported on the conference. This most recient article covering the final key-note speaker of three, The Rev. Canon Gregory Cameron, deputy secretary general of the Anglican Consultative Council, is telling.

Here is the link to the article.

It seems that those who voice their opposition to any kind of formal covenant between the various provinces of the Anglican Communion may well be in the minority. Now, it will be interesting to see whether this minority will abide by the same call they make to the minority in their own midst - the conservatives - to stay with the whole.

In an ideal world, I would much rather not have to resort to a formalized covenant. We can remain together if we simply decide to. There are lots of points-of-view I strongly disagree with on both the liberal and conservative side of things, but I choose to remain with these people - even the ones I don't like all that much. It may be that this Utopian idea has finally run its course. It may have run its course because those who have traditionally run the Anglican Communion - more liberal-minded Westerners - are now the minority as formerly subservient and intimidated rest-of-the-world representatives are exercising their vote and voicing their perspective and opposition.

Our troubles have gone into overtime, and perhaps the only way to preserve the Communion is to now formalize our relationship with one another beyond common heritage and our word and a hand-shake. From the paper that was to be presented from my former professor, J. Robert Wright, and subsequently read by GTS's chaplain, Ellen Slone, The Living Church quoted:

"'Without a covenant there would be even less structure for resolving differences,' Prof. Wright wrote. 'We would have no part in the greater Anglican Communion if we chose to disregard [the covenant,] we would have no mechanism within ourselves, and our ecumenical partners would have no understanding of what we as Anglicans believe. We need to devise a coherent structure of corporate Anglican identity.'"

Just some interesting trailers from Grassrootsfilms - Brooklyn, NY.

The first is a new film: The Human Experience


The second is older, God In The Streets of New York City:

The New York Archdiocese uses this film as a recruitment video for new vocations - NYPriest

FAIL blog

We've all heard about the "Stuff White People Like" blog, well what about the "FAIL" blog! Some really funny stuff.

Lord Save Us From Your Followers

A new documentary film by Dan Merchant about the wrong turn the Church-general has taken over the past however-many-years and the results.

Lord Save Us From Your Followers

Trailer:

New book concerning religion/theology and the Civil War that I think will not only be a good read for anyone interested in the nation and its attitudes leading up to and during the Civil War, and concerning slavery, but also the role Christian thought played on both sides of the issues. I also think that it will be very instructive as we learn from history how to better navigate through our current theological crises.

The Civil War as a Theological Crisis, by Mark Noll

Here is a review from Christianity Today online.

Post-Fact Society, continued

The American Family Association (AFA) - a politicized Religious Right organization - continues its anti-gay campaign by attacking McDonald's for its membership in the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC). AFA accuses McDonald's of "aggressively promoting the homosexual agenda." McDonald's released a statement as a result of the e-mail barrage promoted by AFA among its members to attempt to shame or force McDonald's into renounce its membership in NGLCC, its member on their board of directors, and any advertising within gay media.

AFA did the same thing for years concerning Ford and their advertising in gay-oriented media (the Advocate, for example) events (like the Human Rights Campaign events). AFA sponsored a boycott of all Ford automobiles and claimed to be the reason Ford's sales have declined so much over the last couple of years. (They called off the boycott and claimed victory recently.) Now, it is McDonald's turn.

What caught my attention was AFA's rebuttal to the McDonald's statement. The first sentence goes like this, "As a Christian organization, the American Family Association always seeks to be honest, accurate and completely forthright in the information we pass along to our supporters."

Anyone who knows anything about the AFA and their perceptions of "reality" concerning the gay community, the continued and repeated and intentional spreading of misinformation (bearing false witness and outright lying), stereotypes, and scapegoating knows that their self-congratulatory statement about being honest, accurate, and complete is not honest, accurate, or complete.

This is what gets me - either they are so isolated that they really don't know what is going on ("let them eat cake") or they are intentionally lying and deceiving in order to win their cause - the end justifies whatever means they think they need to employ in order to win.

Another explanation could fall within the thesis of the author of the book I am reading right now, "True Enough: Learning to Live in a Post-Fact Society," by Farhad Manjoo. I've been following this phenomena for a while now, and the author puts words to my perceptions. A couple points he is making revolve around the explosion of technology and our ability to find all kinds of "facts" and supporting commentary without having to be confronted with contrary ideas or "facts" that oppose what we already want to believe. It is the idea that "belief" and "feelings" now trump empirical "facts." This is more than misinterpretations of "facts." A second point is the notion that we honestly see completely different "realities" of the same event.

So, here we have one very large and influential group of people, the AFA and the Religious Right, who completely and honestly believe that if American society allows the acceptance of homosexuality and the legitimacy of gay relationships, that God will destroy Western Civilization. Some believe this more strongly than others, but I have read and heard and seen these kinds of statements from the leaders and their organizations that are currently the face of Christianity in this country. What lengths will they go to if their mission is to same American and Western Civilization from God's wrath due to homosexuality? This is their "reality."

In so many "conversations" I have had with anti-gay people, they seem truly unable to realize or accept that there are gay people who are not the stereotype - who are not promiscuous, who are not sexual compulsives, who are not drug addicts, who are not predatory in their attempts to recruit boys because they can't breed their own kind, and who are not always diseased and die by the time they are 49 years old. They are not able to see that "fact" at all regardless of whether such a person is standing right before them and can "prove" the reality of such a non-stereotypical life. They only "see" or accept what they already want to believe to be true as the "reality."

New technology allows any "researcher" to post the results of non-peer reviewed "studies" that proclaim the validity of their thesis, and the same technology makes widely available to people who want to believe them. In doesn't matter that the studies prove to be flawed, unreliable, and invalid. The "proof" is in the eyes of the beholder. In this kind of scenario, credentials or "expert" status no longer mean anything, because we all can create our own reality and proclaim the validity of it. When "facts" matter less than feeling and believing, what kind of a society do we end up in?

In the anti-gay cause, anti-gay Christians don't need to honestly engage their opponents or their opinions because they are able to surround themselves with like-believers and buttress their positions via like-minded media and organizations. They are in an echo-chamber, and attempt to speak outside the chamber to demand adherence to their claims by everyone else - all the while those of whom they speak and condemn know good-and-well that their propositions are invalid for the majority. They also condemn any study, regardless of whether it can be shown to be reliable and valid, that does not support their interpretation and presupposition. They testify before congress and the courts and the school boards, etc. Listen to the ex-gay rhetoric for another example of this phenomena.

Now, I well know that there are proponents of "gay-rights" that put themselves in a similar kind of echo-chamber. They find their own "reality" using their own "facts" that "feel" so "right."

What do we do at this point? How do we deal with one another? If the AFA and the HRC, as examples of virulent opponents, will not, or worse yet cannot, understand the perspective of their opponents, recognize a common "reality," or deal with the issues and problems that face both communities despite their "beliefs" surrounding those problems, then we will get nowhere.

It would seem that the final result of this kind of thinking and/or perceiving will be chaos or autocracy. When we can no longer listen, when we can no longer recognize the good in our opponents, when we can no longer compromise, when we are no longer able to love our neighbor let along our enemy, were do we end up? It would seem that a common, civil society resting on respect for difference and the rule of law will not survive. Theocracy, autocracy, oligarchy - what will be the result?

Read AFA's rebuttal to McDonald's statement here or by clicking below.

The Grid

There is the Internet. There is the Internet2, and now there is "The Grid," from the same people that brought you the Web. Super fast Internet is a reality and...

The TimesOnline (UK)

P.S. Read the "Comments." I love the one that says that this part of the Globalists' (ala Dick Cheney) campaign to control the U.S. as a fascist state.

The Epochs & MGMT & Maya Azugena

The Epochs

MGMT

Maya Azugena "Set You Free"

Subway Observation #5

I was riding home on the "F" the other day after work. The train wasn't very full. A young lady and precocious and very cute small boy in a simple stroller came in. They got on talking. She sat on the seat next to mine at the angle. The little boy came out of the stroller and plopped down on the seat next to her, on the side of me. Later, I found out he was age 3, and she was a student going to be late for class - his babysitter or au pair or some such thing. She was quick witted and funny and very good with the kid.

There was a black woman sitting opposite me. She was put together, but not in the rich-b**** kind of way - down to earth. The little boy wondered over to the seat next to her to look out the window when we pulled into a subway station. The black woman watched the little guy with a smile on her face and she watched the babysitter. I watched them all.

At one point the boy was pushing the boundaries and the babysitter, who was good with the kid, was negotiating with him, "You have two options - stand still and hold the pole or sit your butt down flat on the seat!" He wanted nothing to do with either one. So, the babysitter said, "That's it; you're going back in the stroller, now!" She proceeded to grab the kid and put him into the seat of the stroller, all the while the kid was fighting her, stiffed backed and verbally protesting.

I just happened to look at the black woman at the point the babysitter said, "that's it; you're going in the stroller..." and there was a quick nod of approval by the black woman - like, "Yup, that's what's needed. This kid needs to do what you say and you need to make him."

That split second nod of affirmation by the black woman said volumes. I remember listening a while back to a Youth Radio reporter on NPR. The reporter was young, a boy, and black. He talked about observing the difference between the way white parents handle their kids and the way black parents do so in a mall. He said that he watches white parents try to negotiate with their kids to make them do right or to stop acting up. He said it never seems to work very well.

Now black parents, he said he knew this from experience, black parents take their kids to that long hallway in the mall that doesn't have any stores and gives the misbehaving kid a "woopin'!" No negotiation. From his observations, black kids mind their mothers a lot better than white kids! I think I have to agree. The whole notion of treating one's little darlings as equals that need to be negotiated with hasn't really crossed the color-line.

So, here was this black woman quickly nodding her head in approval when the babysitter told the kid his options were up - he didn't mind and now this is what's goin' down. No questions, no more negotiation. Of course, it didn't last. The kid was up in the seat again, but this time he sat down on his butt flat and stayed there.

"How old is he," I asked. She said, "Three, going on twenty-one." We got off at the same stop and I could hear him say, "Hey, he's getting off here, too." Nothing much passes by a precocious 3-year old without notice.

Post-Fact Society

I'm reading a very interesting book right now entitle, "True Enough: Learning to Live in a Post-Fact Society," by Farhad Manhoo.

Just like "The Next Christendom: The Coming of Global Christianity" by Philip Jenkins foresaw (predicted) what we are experiencing in the Anglican Communion with the rise of the "Global South," Manhoo's book and thesis describe in eerily applicable ways what is happening within TEC and the Communion regarding our perceptions of what is going on and our attempt to assert the "truth."

His premise is that we have come to a point in society where "facts" are no longer objective, but subjective according to what we want to be true, not necessarily what can be empirically show to be true. It depends on what "facts" we are willing to accept. As he writes, "Welcome to the Rashomon world, where the very idea of objective reality is under attack." (p 25)

I see/hear/experience this more and more among those with whom I interact. I am amazed at how so many on the Anglican-related blogs interpret the same event in such drastically and diametrically different ways.

When we are determined to win at all costs and we refuse to accept that we may be wrong and when we listen only to those with whom we already agree, when compromise is no longer possible and acrimony and hubris rule the day, we have already failed God, ourselves, and the world. We simply play into the "worldly system" and into the schemes of the Enemy of our Faith.

The question in my mind is whether we will continue to abide by the "systems of this world" or whether we will begin to live in such a way that demonstrates some sort of legitimacy for our claim of a different kind of life in Christ for those who are yet to discover God. Again, the question applies to both the conservatives and the liberals and all in between.

None of us engaged in these battles (politically, socially, religiously) are without fault, none are without sin, none are without the need to repent (to God and one another) for the defamation of Christ's cause that we have flaunted before the world all in the name of Christ.

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