February 2009 Archives

Math fail

This is just sad, but it is what we get when we think that a child feeling good about him/herself (self-esteem) trumps actually learning something - like math! Now, I never applied myself concerning mathematics because I don't like it, but I hope I am not this bad. I just switched from Verizon to another carrier. I'm glad. This comes from the Fail Blog, which can be hilarious!

What such things do to me

I've found myself getting caught up once again in arguments with people on certain blogs that come to no good end, at least as far as I can understand. Perhaps, God in His providence does something and perhaps lurkers take away something worth while. Actually, I've found myself in an argument on one blog and a discussion on another, but on both of them I find myself the odd-man-out - too liberal for some and too conservative for others. At least on the more liberal blog, the discussion is civil and respectful. I wish I could say the same for the other blog.

Anyway, I've found myself distressed too much, again. I can't do anything, can't convince anyone even if I should, even as I try to persuade individuals to step back for a moment and consider the call of God to love even our enemies, to lay down our lives even unto death for a friend. Now, one might die for the sake of a friend, but how much more is love shown if one gives up life for an enemy! What love - a love of a kind demonstrated by Jesus. We are called to such a kind of love, but how difficult is it for us to understand and imagine such love in our broken world, even now in our broken Church. We do not listen well, even if we hear. We do not attend to God's call nearly enough. We miss so much.

There was a point in my life when I nearly chucked the whole church thing. This was before I became an Episcopalian and before I discovered Anglicanism. I wouldn't chuck God, because I experienced God on deep levels that would not allow me to simply turn away, no matter how fed up I was with church and people who claimed to be Christians.

There is part of me that feels like chucking everything all over again, but I know I cannot. I'm fed up with all the acrimony, all the stubbornness, all the self-righteous and arrogant pride, all the hypocrisy. The second chapter of Romans begins with a charge of a kind to not judge - who are we to judge in our own blindness and sin? "You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things." Right after Paul got those Roman listeners all riled up with "Amen's" and "Hallelujahs" in the previous verses, he socks it to 'em by saying you folks are doing the very same things - so stop making yourselves out to be all superior and all better than and all holier than thou! Who are you!?

As I've gotten all sucked back into these same, tired debates and arguments... my joy leaves, my anxiety returns, and I become discouraged because I know that all of us and this Church in all our troubles continue to set a very poor example of Jesus and the love of a kind we cannot fathom but are yet called to live into and exemplify for a devastated world.

We present to the world an example of a profoundly deficient life in a Gospel that we proclaim to be all sufficient. No wonder we decrease in attendance; no wonder people pay little attention to our prognostications; no wonder they look at us and say that they really would rather go get a cup of coffee and read the New York Times than attend to their souls in the Church.

God touches souls, and they can do nothing else but respond. These institutions of ours and these battles we fight over purity, doctrinal exactitude, and perfection of life when perfection is simply not possible - it all add up to us all being like the Pharisees of old stacking up laws and regulations upon the shoulders of people looking for some kind of peace. Jesus came to take upon Himself our heavy burdens - his yoke is light. Who are we to pile them up? Jesus demands everything, and in return we are given everything made new.

I came across the following while doing some investigative work for my job. It is posted on a rector's blog and quotes a portion of a sermon delivered by another priest. I think this is what I've tried to say in my head, in my deficient writing, in my arguments to people that are all caught up in the externals. Here is the source of the quote, the rector's blog, World of Our Making.

jbell-300x225.jpg "Tom was our preacher on Sunday, and his sermon moved me and many others deeply. Speaking on the Gospel text from Mark 1:40-45, where a leper is cleansed and made whole by the gentle and willing touch of Jesus, Tom related a story about attending a recent concert by the famed violinist Joshua Bell at Avery Fisher Hall in New York."

After an ovation from the packed house at the end of the program, Bell offered his rendition of Massenet’s “Meditation” from “Thaïs” as an encore. You could just hear the intake of breath, not only because people recognized it, but because it was so extraordinarily gracious, beautiful and soft. People were sitting forward in their chairs, there was a hush in the hall. Everybody stopped coughing if you could imagine that. Bell gets to the very end and plays a final series of ascending notes which ends with a suspended harmonic, the finger just barely touching the string. The harmonic was ethereal, as if you had climbed the stairway to the angels. It was stunning. I was in tears. And I turned to my wife and said, “How can a human being do such a thing?”

Before Jesus became the centerpiece of an institution, the alleged source of doctrine, rules, boundaries and walls, he came into a world of desperation, a world of oppression, a world of brokenness, a world in need of healing. He came to all people—the sick, the sorrowful, the excluded, and he also came to the proper, the establishment, and the winners. He came to all of them and rested his finger lightly over their lives—not the heavy hand of Caesar, not the heavy hand of the religious establishment, not the heavy hand of right opinion and doctrine, but the light, almost not-quite-there touch of grace. He put his fingers on their lives, and he played a harmonic, he played a note in their lives that no one had every played before. He took the common stuff of their instruments, which in the eyes of the world was nothing, and he touched them so gracefully that they produced a sound, a love, a community, a life, that was like a new harmonic and they became a thing of beauty.

How can we as the body of Christ, the People of God, be present in times like these? How do we turn around a long 45 year decline in membership attendance [in the Episcopal Church and other mainline denominations], and how can we turn around the moral drift of these historic times and the bitterness that is so prevalent in our land right now? How do we take all that we’ve been given, which is good, and how do we make it beautiful? How do we make it sing?

I believe that we can do it. God want’s us to do it. And the world desperately needs us to do it. And we will do it not with the heavy hand of a prideful institution. We will not do it with the pride of Caesar or the wealth of Caesar. We will not do it with wonderfully organized hierarchies of power. We will not do it with careful allocation of privileges. We will not do it with right opinion or impenetrable doctrine. We will do it by placing our fingers on people’s lives and just barely touching them, playing a note that is not a note that anyone has heard in those lives before. God working through us can give us the capacity to touch and to make music, to take our common stuff and play it higher and more beautifully than its ever been played and make of us a song.

And if we can get out of our own way and let go of all the things that stand between us, people will turn to each other as I turned to my wife, and they will say, “How can this be? How can people do this?” And the answer will be, “It’s by the grace and mercy and love, and power, of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.”

Individually, if we yield, if we have patience, if we do not think ourselves to great or wonderful or pure, if we can believe ourselves to be wrong for but a moment, then perhaps God through Christ can heal us of our illness and teach us to love ourselves and others not as the world teaches us to "love," but by the way God defines it, perhaps our lives will be as the sound coming from an instrument played by a master. Perhaps people can be moved. Perhaps people will see something worthwhile and true about this Gospel we proclaim. Perhaps by God's providence people will be drawn by good examples and be saved. Perhaps.

Perhaps all those confused and hurting and searching people might turn to each other as they look upon us and say, "How can a human being do such a thing?" That's just it - these human beings can't but for the Grace of God, and only with God's help.

Is the Anglican Communion Worth It?

A couple days ago, I posted a response to one of Fr. Harris' (Preludium) comments about wanting people to understand the polity of The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion. To that wish, I agree.

But, Fr. Harris seems a bit more willing to forgo the Anglican Communion than I am or many other Episcopalians. So, I commented.

It seems that my comment and a couple others have made to a brand new post, coming up yesterday.

Here is the original blog post from Mark Harris and my response, entitledThings I wish we could get right.

Here is the second post by Fr. Harris, and resulting comments, entitled How important is it to belong to the Anglican Communion?.

You can read my comments -

Fr. Mark Harris, Executive Council member, parish priest, and author of the blog Preludium, has post a clarification concerning the polity of the Anglican Communion and the Episcopal Church entitled, "Things I Wish We Could Get Right. Technically, I agree with what he has written - it is true, factual. But, is the restatement of our polity within the Communion simply to clear up of misunderstandings (which are rampant), a justification of what we have done in the past, or perhaps the all-too-American unilateralism in the assertion of our "rights?"

I don't know - and I don't infer any negative reasoning behind Fr. Mark's post. Here is how I responded and what I asked:

Mark - I agree with you concerning the above, technically. However, where does and how does an honest and respectful interdependence within the Communion come into play (regardless of how the other guys act toward us)?

For example, there is a push to have BO33 overturned/overruled/called moot during our upcoming GC. We know how a good part of the Communion will react, even among those who are sympathetic to our position. Technically, we absolutely have the right within the Communion and within our polity to act however we determine we want to act. Yet, sometimes to act in ways that are technically permissible do not bring us to a good end.

As a priest that happens to be gay, I do not see the exercising of our right to forgo BO33 or rejecting the call of most of the rest of the Communion to maintain the moratoria as a positive way forward.

Why? Not because we do not have the right to do as we please for whatever reason(s), but because we do not live on an ecclesiastical island. If we exercise or legal right to determine for ourselves what we shall do regardless of international/inter-provincial reactions (even when we hate the other position), what comes of our GLBT brothers and sisters in most of the rest of the Communion where their only option is silence or violence when our place and voice and influence is denigrated even further or removed altogether from the greater Communion?

There has to be a point where our all-too-American hubris and unilateralism gives way. For the safety of and the yet-to-be-realized justice within the rest of the Communion for GLBT people (or anyone else), we may need to put aside full implementation of what we believe to be true and just within our own Church. For their sake, I’m willing to sacrifice a bit longer and steer away from what we have the technical right to decide and do.

Can we do that? Can we act in ways other than our American cultural proclivity towards hyper-individualism and unilateralism? I'm just asking, or perhaps seeking a different way forward.

The Joy of the Lord

"...Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength." (Nehemiah 8:10)

Israel returns from captivity and re-discovers the Law of Moses. As they hear the Law of God read to them, they are greatly grieved. We read the above from the profit Nehemiah.

There is an aspect of the Christian faith that is Joy! Not "happiness," that may well depend on circumstance and outside-of-self influences, but a sense of joy that is internal and not dependent on environment. Paul learned aspects of this kind of joy when he writes about being content in all things:

"I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want." (Philippians 4:12)

"The Joy of the Lord" is something that I learned and experienced during my time in American-Evangelicalism and Pentecostalism. It is not explained by emotionalism or "enthusiasm." It is not "euphoria;" it isn't silliness; it is not self-deception or mania; it isn't the temporary fix of shopping-sprees or too much drink or drug; it isn't those common kind of things.

It comes in part from learning to hear the "still small voice of God" and from listening to the wisdom of God's moving among the community. It is part of learning to sense the directing of the Comforter in life and receiving the grace and healing of God through the sacraments. It is putting aside our pride and rebelliousness against anything other than what we want to thing think is so. It is stepping out of our cultural proclivities of greed, selfishness, hyper-individualism, and idolatry. It is seeking to "love God with all our hearts, all of our minds, and all of our souls." That is the first and greatest of the Commandments of All Mighty God - the first part of the summation of the Law of Moses. This joy comes from looking outside of and beyond ourselves and our own narrow interests - the second Great Commandment is like the first, "Love you neighbor as yourself." It comes, in part, from humility, with a realistic estimation of ourselves and our condition. It comes by faith, but not blind faith.

It is a joy that those who have experienced it understand. It is very, very difficult to try to explain it to others, but there you go. There is always the possibility that it is all a figment of imaginations and nothing more than chemical reactions in the brain, but I doubt it. The associate rector of the parish through which I entered The Episcopal Church (Jim Beebe, St. Paul's Akron, OH) said often that those who have had a genuine experience with God have a very difficult time describing it. The words are simply not there - words fail us.

I know to some people this will sound like I am lifting up certain people over others - those who have "had the experience" are better than all the rest of you who haven't! This is not popular within a culture that demands that we cannot assert much of anything that makes some people feel deprived or less than, despite from where those feelings come. (The irony is that these feelings of affront, of insecurity, of unabated self-interest, will greatly hinder the ability of a person to actually experience this joy!) I'm not at all trying to build up a "better than thou" attitude, but the reality is that some have and some have not had such encounters of the Divine (there are always experiences that some have and some do not have). It changes not a bit the "joy of the Lord" experienced by people if we insist on not talking about such things because some people might feel excluded or lesser - what I desire is that all people have such experiences.

So, anyway, I came across this video. It reminds me of the "joy of the Lord" exemplified by my past experiences with the people I knew and with whom I met God. The beginning is some man explaining the video in an African language I do not understand, the rest is just good.

The Velvet Revoultion

There is a great article, a profile, of Archbishop Rowan Williams in this month's edition of The Atlantic (I love this magazine!).

The Velvet Revolution
, by Paul Elie

The place of gay people in the church is one of the bitterest disputes in Christianity since the Reformation. The Anglican Church is trying to have it both ways—affirming traditional notions of marriage and family while seeking to adapt its teachings to the experiences of gays and lesbians. Presiding over the debate, gently—too gently?—prodding the communion toward acceptance of gay clergy, is Rowan Williams, the brilliant and beleaguered archbishop of Canterbury. He’s been pilloried from all sides for his handling of these issues, but his distinctive theology and leadership style may offer the only way to open the Anglican Church to gay people without breaking it apart.

The Stimulus Bill that is making its way through the Congress contains a provision to provide funds for the renovation of facilities and buildings on public and private college and university campuses. Fine. The issue I have is that those funds cannot be used for any building that allows religious stuff to go on within it.

So, if a Student Union provides space for student organizations to meet and fairly and equally allows religious student groups to use the facilities along with all others, none of the stimulus money can be used to renovate that Student Union. What will happen is that the many administrators will simply forbid those student groups with a religious purpose from using the facilities while continuing to allow all others to do so. This is discrimination against students of faith, and I've seen it attempt attempted many times.

The Supreme Court has already ruled that this is unconstitutional - I think it was the 2001 Good News Club v. Milford Central School where the court declared that restricting religious speech within the context of public shared-use facilities is unconstitutional.

As of yesterday (Feb. 9th), here is the prohibitions on the use of $3.5 billion designated for campus facilities:

(2) PROHIBITED USES OF FUNDS. No funds awarded under this section may be used for - (C) modernization, renovation, or repair of facilities (i) used for sectarian instruction, religious worship, or a school or department of divinity; or (ii) in which a substantial portion of the functions of the facilities are subsumed in a religious mission; or construction of new facilities.

Whether this prohibition is in the final bill or not, no one can say.

There is really no reason for this, other than an attempt by those who believe that the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment of the Constitution forbids any tax money going for anything that touches religion or religious expression (or regarding people with a religious dimension to their lives). There are plenty of people who hold this opinion - I was around a lot of them in academia. This opinion cannot hold up to judicial scrutiny, and the Courts have rules ruled as such. The overwhelming majority of the American people do not hold to this position, be they Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Jewish, or frankly most non-religious people. There are those who are simply antagonistic toward religion and religious people.

If included in the final bill and passed, and while it makes its way through the courts yet again, in the mean time there will be plenty of school administrators that will grab hold of it for their own purposes. While both a student and a student/academic professional, I constantly had to advocate for "people of faith," because while certain interests where all about diversity and inclusion, their definitions of these words did not include a large swath of people - like people of faith. It always amazes me how those who shout "tolerance" the loudest are often the most intolerant. I've experience plenty of them.

The last administration was under the domination of the politicized Religious Right, which has done the Church and the Christian witness no good among the citizenry. Now, the more extreme on the other side of the equation will find favor with many in this new administration. Neither of the positions are good or positive, neither are right, neither uphold the will of most Americans, neither abide by the intent or the spirit of the Establishment Clause of the Constitution. Yet, here we are.

Ritual and...

Just to be clear, I'm not trying to cast dispersion on a group of people or play into stereotypes, but I am wondering about attitudes of groups of people I've encountered over the years. I also know that "Ritual Studies" is not a discipline that I know a whole lot about, and I've forgotten a lot concerning Behaviorism and Behavior Modification.

Part of this comes from just seeing "Equus" on Broadway with Radcliff and Griffiths and what might be understood as a commentary on religion, worship, and psychosis (among other things). Part of this comes from thinking about the "vestal virgins" that brought in and ceremonially poured the "waters of baptism" into a giant font in the National Cathedral during the enthronement of Katherine Jefforts-Shori as Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church. Part of this comes from witnessing what seems to be a need to create all kinds of different and new forms of ritual within what is supposed to be a Christian context but often lacking any resemblance to norms of Christian Tradition and liturgical forms. Are we bound by "trendiness" and pop-ideas of "relevance?" I don't know.

What would prompt the designer(s) of the enthronement liturgy to incorporate this kind of thing in the liturgy? In other contexts, what prompts priests or bishops or liturgists to depart from TEC Canons and the Book of Common Prayer that we vowed to uphold and abide by? Some say rebellion against convention or Tradition, some say boredom, some say a determination to remake Christianity in a new image (Spong-ish), some say a loss of faith, some say sincere interest in... you name it.

I don't know their intent or their thought processes, so I'm not going to make some kind of declarative statement concerning their spiritual well-being or such things. Yet, why in the case of the enthronement liturgy, when they could have used a much more Anglican/Episcopal/Traditional "bringing in the waters of baptism" or something that was not perceived by many, Anglican and non-Anglican alike, as being indicative of paganism, did they use that form? Use women exclusively in the ritual, I don't care, but why the quasi-Roman/Greek "vestal virgin-esque" dressed women carrying large urns of water? I know many people, liberal and conservative, that simply laughed at the spectacle. It was a joke, which I am pretty sure wasn't the intent of the designer(s) of the liturgy. What was their reason or motivation? What was in the minds of those who loved it?

Anyway, it makes me wonder about the spiritual condition of people I've encountered in the past and still encounter today, particularly if I see my place as a priest to be about the "cure of souls." I know I've mused about the generational shift taking place and the demographic differences between the desires of and worshiping "sense" of the upcoming generations contra the Baby-Boomers, but I'm trying to get beyond all that and trying to figure out foundational motivations, the conditions of the heart, the psycho-social-spiritual dynamics that prompt people to do or say or believe. When it comes to Christian worship, apologetics, theologies of all kinds, and personal experiences with the Divine, how does our "stuff" work its way out for good or for ill concerning the cause of Christ, deficiencies in Christian experience, and...

I wonder, and this is just wondering, whether groups of people may not be so much "Christian" in the traditional sense, as they are perhaps Ritualists and Behaviorists finding expression within Christian forms and traditions. This is an Anthropocentric rather than Theocentric focus or foundation.

I'm defining the following words, thusly:

"Ritualists" - simply, I'm thinking about those who put a great deal of stock in social or personal "rituals" and the significance of such rituals in creating meaning, rites of passage, and providing for interpersonal connections and social order and cohesion.

"Behaviorists" - those who believe that through some kind of behavior modification we can "reconfigure" people's attitudes, feelings, and actions in such ways that bring about personal and social peace, harmony, and meaning.

"Christian" - the traditional notion that there is a personal, Trinitarian God, engaged with His creation, and who has provided a way for the restoration of personal relationship between humankind and God through the finished work of Jesus Christ, the incarnate Logos. Liturgical forms of Christian worship - rituals - are designed to help encourage and foster deeper encounters with the Divine.

It seems to me that there are people who gravitate to Ritualism, or a sensing or believing that in ritual people(s) find psycho-social expression and/or cultural meaning and order. By creating rituals, there is developed cultural "touch-points" that help the masses be included in the overall social context. Then, there are behavioralists that strive to use ritual to bring about their notions of what is best for society and the Modernist ideas of a continual and forward movement and progress of humanity to more Utopian expressions of society.

The people in this group, whoever they may be, at least in the West, were probably raised with a sense of at least cultural-Christianity, so they find ready expression of their ideas within the ritualistic forms of Christianity, yet without the foundational expectation or experience of personal relationship with God. As such, Christian traditions provide a means or structure for ritual and behavior modification without the emphasis on mystical ideas of the Divine. Again, a human focus rather than a Divine focus. Form without the power.

So, there may not be a necessity for abiding by Christian Tradition or norms, or a need for theological reasoning for the doing of any particular ritual beyond the temporal outcomes hoped for. Consideration of Divine intend, if present and accepted, is of lesser importance. What is their apologetic for what they do? Sometimes, the apologetic doesn't go much beyond social ideals of identity politics or political correctness - all that we do is to make people feel welcome, included, good about themselves, and increase their sense of satisfaction or self-actualization (perhaps a la Goldstein or Maslow?).

From an anthropocentric perspective, we can do anything ritualistically that we think achieves our desired personal or social outcomes. From a Theocentric perspective, there is something else that comes into play - the desire of the Divine (as much as we are able to understand such a thing). I've come to truly appreciate Tradition - that which has survived over time and in many cultures - as something that might suggest a "realness" or legitimacy that new forms lack. Does God provide for ways of ritual that are given or revealed to humankind through Scripture and Tradition and are purposed not for social outcomes, but for nothing less than restoration of relationship between God and Man?

The City #28

Language in New York is, well, colorful. The F-word is a common as, well, "like" in some other parts of the coastal-country.

This morning, as I was walking from the subway to work, on 37th St. I passed by a construction site with two brawny construction workers standing in the street, one yelling into his cell-phone. It's kind of funny to see a skyscraper going up on a plot of land no larger that a little gas-station in the rest of the country, between other tall buildings. It's kind of indicative of New Yorkers' concept of personal-space.

Anyway, this is what I overheard as I walked through the sidewalk maze.

Ready?

"That f**king, head-ache-*ss, bullsh*t."

What did he say? That's all he said. Now, that's all I heard and I've no clue of the context of the conversation, but other than conveying that he was a bit miffed, what in the world did he actually say? Might he have said something like, "I'm a bit angry right now and what happened wasn't at all helpful!"

Yes, he could have, but it wouldn't have been nearly as colorful.

Anthropic principle -

"In physics and cosmology, the anthropic principle is the collective name for several ways of asserting that physical and chemical theories, especially astrophysics and cosmology, need to take into account that there is life on Earth, and that one form of that life, Homo sapiens, has attained intelligence. The only kind of universe humans can occupy is one that is similar to the current one... The anthropic principle has given rise to some confusion and controversy, partly because the phrase has been applied to several distinct ideas. All versions of the principle have been accused of undermining the search for a deeper physical understanding of the universe. Those who invoke the anthropic principle often invoke multiple universes or an intelligent designer, both controversial and criticised for being untestable and therefore outside the purview of accepted science."

Then, there is the bus advertisement row in London concerning the British atheist society (or humanist society, I don't remember) that paid to have the advertisement, "There's probably no God, so stop worrying and enjoy life," plastered on buses around Christmas.

Ruth Glendhill from the Times Online wrote an article about all that entitled, "D*** and b**** the atheist bus!" In it, is quoted "Clifford Longley, former Religious Affairs Correspondent of The Times and more recently of The Tablet and the BBC's TFTD," who writes:

''The statement 'There’s probably no God', as currently seen on the side of London buses, is untrue and dishonest, in so far as the word 'probably' completely fails to reflect the true state of the scientific argument. In fact it would be honest and true to say the opposite - 'There probably is a God.' A fair reading of the material below could lead to no other conclusion... In fact, this 'fine-tuning' is so pronounced, and the 'coincidences' are so numerous, many scientists have come to espouse 'The Anthropic Principle,' which contends that the universe was brought into existence intentionally for the sake of producing mankind. Even those who do not accept The Anthropic Principle admit to the 'fine-tuning' and conclude that the universe is 'too contrived' to be a chance event.

"Dr. Dennis Scania, head of Cambridge University Observatories, said in a BBC science documentary, The Anthropic Principle: 'If you change a little bit the laws of nature, or you change a little bit the constants of nature - like the charge on the electron - then the way the universe develops is so changed, it is very likely that intelligent life would not have been able to develop.'"

The commentary by Longley goes on to quote numerous other scientists regarding the "Anthropic Principle."

Yesterday, during Home Group evolution came up, for what reason I don't remember. Despite the fact that the biological sciences are built upon the notion of some form of evolution (whether Darwinian or something else), if we honestly regard this issue of origins scientifically, we have to say, "We don't know." For science, what is observable and verifiable (repeatable) is of the utmost importance. We are still in the midst of observation and investigation and while some want to say that the conclusions can already be drawn, methinks conclusions are bit premature.

When asked what I think or believe about Creationism, Intelligent Design, or Evolution (perceived as being Darwinian for the most part), I simply say, "I don't know." That's the truth. I don't. I have a belief, but not the information to assert such a belief. Yet, I can say without reservation that I believe... God created. To me, my faith or understanding of Scripture is not one bit threatened if God created in six literal 24-hour days with all creatures in the present form or whether God created over billions of years through evolutionary processes.

For some people, I think the likelihood of admitting to themselves something like, "I don't know," is too difficult, so we get religious fundamentalists that assert that even if scientific evidence proves an old-earth and evolutionary processes, they will not believe it due to their specific interpretations of Genesis 1 & 2, and secular fundamentalists that assert that despite the lack of complete, repeatable, observable evidence for evolution-without-any-intelligent-involvement, that it must be asserted as fact.

We will have even more bus advertisements in a new form of the Culture Wars.

Update: Here is Wikipedia's quick and dirty description of the Scientific Method

What will I be to them?

I was talking with a group of priest friends and lay friends the other day. We were talking about, what else?, the general direction of the Church and all that. All of us are completely tired of the usurpation of most all of the Church's focus and efforts by reactionaries on the left and right concerning power plays and same-sex relationship arguments. We are not unconcerned, however, about attitudes concerning the place of Jesus the Christ in our common understanding regarding salvation and restoration of our relationships with God, one another, and God's creation.

Then, we talked about the rumor that the Vatican is about to initiate another Papal Personal Prelature for Anglicans (like Opus Dei) or something like the "Uniate" Churches for Anglicans (but more than simply the Anglican-Use Catholics). Some of the group I was walking with thought that if this actually happened, it would be another very big draw for Anglicans that believed in / desired the continence of the Anglican distinctives, but also wished to be align with world Catholicism rather than liberal American-Protestantism. I think such a development would have a big impact on the Anglican Communion (perhaps even someone like Rowan Williams joining on).

Someone mentioned a comment by former Fort Worth bishop Iker to "moderate conservatives" choosing to remain in The Episcopal Church (TEC) - basically he said something like, "Welcome to being the new and despised ‘conservatives’ of TEC."

Since a good many of the "conservatives" have already left or are in the process of leaving TEC, the remaining "moderate-conservatives" or even moderates become the new bad "conservatives" that reactionary-liberals love to hate and exclude. I want to say, again, that the terms "conservative" and "liberal" break down, and many people who take upon themselves those adjectives are more pseudo than real conservatives or liberals. There is no inherent conflict between being a conservative or being a liberal, just a difference in focus and approach, IMHO. The "reactionaries" are those of any persuasion that act and react against their opponents in ways that tear apart and denigrate.

So, what will I be to them?

I suppose to many people I become one of the new bad "conservatives" because I insist on abiding by:

- The Canons and the Prayer Book (which means the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral);

- That the "Anglican Three-legged Stool" starts with Scripture as the authority (as Hooker might assert), and that Reason and Tradition are authorities that help us understand the primary authority - Scripture. This also means that for me, traditional understandings of issues with respect to biblical exegesis are not "written in stone" or "handed down" above re-evaluation and examination by the Church. Here is where the Tradition has to be taken seriously and the burden of proof for change rests upon those who seek the change. Yet, we know that our understanding of Scripture and God's will revealed through Scripture does change over time as our ability to reason well grows with maturity and knowledge. Cosmology or the homosexual issue are but two examples.

- I do not feel in the least the need to change the 1979 Book of Common Prayer, and I will assert that most people in the pews don't either, regardless of cries by certain groups of minority opinion that we must for the sake of reasons rooted in social and political causes rather than good theological reasoning;

- I believe in the call to Holiness (even as God is Holy) in our morality, ethics, and behavior coming from God's revelation to us, understanding that we all fall short and that God restores;

- I believe that God provided a way of restoration that many people reject because they demand their own way regardless (hyper-individualism). The way provided is referred to as salvation through Jesus Christ, alone;

- I have great respect for other cultures, languages, religions, and thought systems and like being engaged with them. I affirm that it is good to understand those different than myself and to be understood by them, but I in no way believe that it is my Christian responsibility as an Anglo-American, Euro-centric, English-speaking, white, gay, male to denigrate, deny, or put aside my heritage, religion, language, gender, sexuality, or traditions for the sake of some weak notion of "diversity" or to think that by doing so that those different than myself will feel any more welcome or valued or that they will have any more respect for me as Christian if I do. Really, what Muslim, Hindu, Jew (add your own designation) would respect me more when I deny what I really am or think that by putting aside what I believe that I am a person of integrity? Double-speak and hypocrisy reign when this happens.

I'm sure there a lots more I could write. When it all comes down to it, we get so caught up in all this crap thinking that we are capable of honestly knowing the full "will of God." Again and again, love God with all of our hearts and love our neighbors as ourselves. Why do we get so distracted? Perhaps, it is because we are too concerned about what we will be to "them" and not concerned enough about what we are to God.

A cunning disguise...

The Simple Massing Priest (otherwise known as Malcom) posted this video on his blog with the observation:

I sometimes wonder if Alice were a theologian, whether she'd say that the Incarnation represented God in a cunning disguise.
Yes, in quite a cunning disguise!

The Postal Service / Joshua Radin

The Postal Service

I like 'em.

Then, there is Joshua Radin

...and Chris Garneau

April 2011

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This page is an archive of entries from February 2009 listed from newest to oldest.

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