September 2009 Archives

Boys

I think the following quote from Frank Schaeffer sums up well a position regarding boys as boys and not products to secure, protect, or actualize to support parents' or "advocates'" ideas of how to handle kids.

I grew up in a fairly self-contained neighborhood set within a huge woods with streams and lakes. All we did was play outside - we were boys being boys. We got hurt. We healed. Our parents' did not freak out when something happened after boys being boys.

Anyway, this from Frank Schaeffer (Francis Schaeffer's son) on his experience at an all-boys prep school in England.

"Of course, no one sued anyone when their child had an accident or sliced open his hand with a penknife. We all carried one. It would have been considered bad form to sue. How could a boy build a fort if he wasn't allowed to climb trees? How could he cut saplings to make bows and arrows if he had no knife? Someone was always getting stitches. We were boys! [emphasis his]

Freedom from litigiousness meant that we were in young male heaven. Who could have ever learned to love life as we did if we had been stuck indoors playing 'safely' on video games, plugged in, wired up, and growing obese? Thank God there were no computers! We didn't play games about reality, we were reality! We built things. We climbed things. We were never indoors if we could help it. There was no tree off limits, no pond too deep, no river too dangerous. Everyone had to learn to swim. And who didn't know how to climb? And everything we did was dangerous, difficult, and challenging; otherwise, what was the point?

It was virtually impossible to be overweight, or restless, let alone suffer from attention deficit disorder in Great Walstead [School]. We were just too busy being happy, physically exhausted little boys in a secure and predictable environment." [Frank Schaeffer, Crazy for God, pp185-186]

Yes, I quite agree. We pamper and try to so govern the lives of our children that we disadvantage them developmentally, in my humble opinion. They are so terribly bored and increasingly lack vivid imaginations. They are becoming less ingenious and entrepreneurial. They may have great eye-hand coordination, but they are often hallow. We hamper their potential when we try to so manage their lives that they are never really able to expand their boundaries and stretch their abilities. Yet, Schaeffer's last sentence is very important, "...in a secure and predictable environment."

And technology continues...

Technology continues... consider the implications of the following two efforts:

3D holograms go tactile -

-and-

Future nears with bionic lens -

What is the Future of Anglicanism?

The Guardian UK (online) is in the midst of a series entitled, "What is the future for Anglican conservatives?"

Here is the introductory two paragraphs:

Has the long Anglican civil war ended in defeat for both sides? Within the church, the liberals have been outmanoeuvred and may be excluded from the communion's decision-making bodies. But the cost of this has been to establish the conservatives as anti-gay, and in the wider culture that is a great defeat for them, too. So will they abandon that fight, and move to others? Will attitudes to Islam be the next great struggle within Christianity?

The Bishop of Rochester, Dr Michael Nazir-Ali, returned last week to devote himself to the care of persecuted Christians; and it is Muslims, he thinks, who are doing the persecuting. In countries like Pakistan, this is clearly true. But will conservative Christians be able to construct a narrative against Islam in Europe and America? Should they be trying to do so? Does it really threaten the future of Christianity?


Monday's Article by Savitri Hensman: "It is all too easy to project evil on to another group..."

Wednesday's Article by Julian Mann: "We must rise to the challenge posed by Islam, as the church teaches..."

Just a couple comments about the last question in the second paragraph above - If we only envision Christianity as being comprised of institutions, then perhaps there can be threats to "the future of Christianity." This, however, is an improper way of understanding Christianity or the Church even as far too many Christians fall prey to the concept. The Church's institutions exist to help people come into a relationship with God and to help in their discipleship. Of course these things can happen without the institutions, too, but the Church as institution provides a means for the common practice of the Faith. Institutions may be challenged or destroyed, but the Faith cannot be.

Additionally, Christians that have to fight against Islam on a religious plain (as opposed to a political or social plain where we find Jihad and societal Islamic Law) have already lost. If we have to implement laws to protect Christianity because Islam is bringing in more converts and those converts are more devoted to their faith, then those who advocate the need for Christianity's protection against the Islamic faith have already failed. They already live a form of the Christian faith that is so deficient that it no longer captures the imaginations of non-Christians. The lives of Christians in this kind of situation no longer bear witness to an authentic Life in Christ, so why would anyone give a listen to what we have to say? Why would anyone be drawn to the faith of this kind? Why would the Church in this situation have legitimacy? If our only answer to Islam is to pass civil laws against it, then we do not bear the image of God - the imago Dei.

Insecurity and fear to this degree demonstrate a real misunderstanding of God's Ways and God's willingness or ability to cause the Church to stand. It is placing in Christian faith within a framework that suggests only institutions, and not the practice of a faith in the living God through Jesus Christ.

hat tip to: Simple Massing Priest

The Project

The Red Hook Project NYC is coming along, but still has a way to go. Input welcome.

The conversation continues over at Fr. Jake Stops the World. It is interesting trying to make an argument when focused on liberals rather than conservatives. I have to think differently and use very different examples.

Here is one of my latest posts:

We all should go back and read, "Rules for Radicals." (A little before my life, though I was alive, but Political Science was my academic focus so I read Alinsky.) Alinsky spent a lot of effort trying to devise various creative means of achieving his objectives in ways that didn't exacerbate greater social problems and helped elevate/change as many people as possible. As much as it is possible to be at peace with all people, we should creatively purse again and again as many different means as needed to achieve our end without reverting to division and myopic nationalistic interests (which the world knows Americans are apt to do). Our end goals should include the changed hearts and minds of the oppressors as much as relief for the oppressed. That is an enduring relief, and the Cure of Souls of oppressors is the business of the Church in the name of Jesus. That's the difference between Gospel centered objectives and just socio-political action objectives.

If our efforts, noble or not, do not achieve a better end for those in the most desperate circumstances and if our efforts do not elevate even our opponents (love your enemy is God’s call to us, even when our opponents won’t love us) then we need to creatively devise new methods.

Bluntly, we need to creatively devise new methods. Gandhi and King refused to play by the rules of the political zeitgeist of their time. People like Malcolm X were not willing to be patient in ways that actually helped the overall situation and could not see the wisdom of King's methodology. Both are means to an end, but King's proved far more effective.

The different and more radical camps within our Church are playing by our current polarizing, individualistic U.S. political zeitgeist - Culture War mentalities and identity-politics, as examples. We need to be more like Alinsky, Gandhi, and King locally and globally and less like the Bushies.

Finally, Rowan Williams. My knowledge of his efforts with all involved is too limited to make pronouncements, but… If I was the Secretary General (SG) of the U.N. and if I thought that I could best help the ethnic groups in Burma survive the genocidal campaigns of the military dictators, even if many people in the U.S. thought I wasn't publicly being nearly as forceful or condemning of the military as the SG should be, and if I knew that the most helpful efforts for those dying would mean that I had to say a few things that would piss off lots of Americans, you better believe I would piss off a lot of Americans and do what I knew would help the suffering and dying.

I would probably think that the Americans weren’t being slaughtered and jailed by dictators, so if I had to suffer their indignation while they made high-minded pronouncements in their prosperity (and hubris), then so be it.

So, the following is a response to Ted, who asked: "What then should TEC do when others refuse to walk with us or alter the "level of communion" i.e. tiers?" It just keeps getting longer.

------

Ted… Bear with me. This is too long, I know. I am doing a bit of “processing out loud,” which will drive some people crazy.

We should listen and act like a global group of Christians that aren't myopically centered on our own parochial interests. All of our councils do err and our understanding is limited; this should cause great humility within us. This is what I'm thinking...

Surveying our socio-religious TEC landscape, it seems to me that we have allowed ourselves to be so “tainted” by the cultural zeitgeist and accept its precepts uncritically that we have lost sight of the Way of Christ. Much within our culture works against the kind of life we are called to by Christ. Whether it is the schismatics with regard to TEC nationally or the schismatics with regard to the Communion globally, we need to step back and consider the greater goal and that our Christian reality is long-term and for all, not just for the next several years and not just for our own little group.

I am more than willing to forgo some of my “rights” as a Caucasian, as a male, as a gay person, as a priest, for the sake of those less fortunate than I am or in places where our influence is vitally needed for the safety of those in trouble. No matter what some say, the voice of the American Church in the Communion does have a life-saving impact on places like Nigeria, Uganda, et.al., where LGBT Christians at present have options of only silence or violence. Without our presence in the Communion, those primates are far freer to do and advocate for whatever they want – the extremists win. We have a long way to go in this country, but our plight is nothing in comparison to theirs. If those provinces want to absence themselves from the Communion, so be it. We, however, do not need to. As a matter of fact, it is vital that we don’t, particularly if it happens because of our stereotypical American hubris and self-interest.

The way we are thinking, IMHO, is wrong. For example, over the last 30 odd years, we have taken on a more psycho-therapeutic or a political-activist way of thinking in ministry (both are important, but neither are the way of the Church’s ministry). As a Christian who happens to be gay, firstly, and as a priest that happens to be gay, secondarily, I do need the “validation” of others to understand my worth. It is nice, but I don’t “need” it. When we believe that being able to be considered for a bishop position is somehow the way we are to validate personal worth or importance, we leave the realm of the way of Christ and enter into the realm of our socio-political cultural zeitgeist. My validation as a Christian or priest, gay or straight, male or female, black or white, has nothing to do with whether I am eligible for consideration to any office or order of the Church. My or my ministry’s worth is a result of the veracity of the ministry I do in the name of God – and my security resting in the love and care of God, not other people’s opinion of me.

To believe that being a bishop is a “right” that validates one’s existence or importance is incredibly “cleric-centric” to the point of almost denying the vital nature of the laity and the distinct ministries of each Holy Order. (The danger of the above way of thinking, of course, can go too far and result in people justifying the use of orientation, sex, or race as criteria for exclusion from leadership or orders. The solution, however, is not to go so far as to say that validation of personhood or ministry can only come from the ability to have a position within an institution.) I believe this is where we are, however, at this time. The Episcopal Church seems to be saying that as a gay person/priest that my ministry or personhood is only validated if I can be considered for a bishopric. I disagree. Likewise, I don’t need my relationship validated by the blessing of an organization (church or otherwise). It is nice to have, but certainly not necessary to my understanding of God and God’s transformative and healing work within us.

We are not an island unto ourselves. For our Church to be so consumed over whether a gay person can be a bishop or have a same-sex relationship blessed or not to the point of not caring whether we are part of the greater Church or Communion (whether intentionally or as a result of our unwillingness to compromise) when other LBGT people in other countries can conceiving of not much more than staying alive is just too myopic and nationally self-centered for me.

We must think differently, because the way we’ve been thinking and doing has resulted not in a good end but rather in anger, bitterness, hatred, and division in the Body of Christ. None of us are innocent. The current way of thinking and doing, both by the liberals and conservatives, has not presenting to the world a way of Christ that brings peace and unity. We need a third way.

Saying all that, I think we should for a few more years abide by the moratoria. I know that certain segments of the Communion have already determined that they don’t like us and reject us. So what? Does that mean we act just like them, but from a different perspective? Will we take the high moral road or just take our marbles and go home to our little patch of the globe? We must understand that we cannot simply act like those we accuse of acting wrongly, whether within the local, national setting or within the global setting.

Thanks what I’m thinking, for what it is worth.
Bob | Homepage | 09.04.09 - 12:24 pm | #

Okay, I'm doing it again. This time not on Titusonenie and debating the "conservatives," but I'm debating the "liberals" at Frather Jake Stops the World. The conversation deals with Fr. Jake's recent post: The Train Won't Stop Going. The discussion comes from the seven Episcopal bishops visiting Canterbury, presumably about remain in communion with the Sea of Canterbury if the Episcopal Church rejects the Communions method of communion.

Here is the first post I made. It is too lengthy, I know, but my "processing out loud" just never ends.

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

Sorry for the length... this is a bit of a soapbox.

One point of being "Catholic," Anglo or otherwise, is to have a very deep-seated understanding that those "scoundrels" are just as much a part of the Body of Christ and just a vital to the Body of Christ as am I or are you. If any of us want to be a Christian, with integrity to the call of Jesus Christ, we cannot say "good riddance," or that you or I or any of us can get along just fine without the other. It is a fallacy believed by both the "conservatives" with regard to the TEC and the "liberals" with regard to the Communion.

You speak of Postmodern sensibilities, but for this postmodern I see very little difference in the way the "conservatives" (really anti-liberals) are acting and the way the "liberals" (really anti-conservatives) are acting. Duncan and Bruno, for example, are acting the same way. Both are acting wrongly.

The only difference is that the conservatives are saying, "To hell with the Episcopal Church," while the liberals are saying, "To hell with the Communion." The end result of the actions is the same – hubris and the division in the Body of Christ. It is just that one group is acing more "locally" while the other group is more "globally."

This is what frustrates me about the generation in leadership of this Church and the breakaway groups. In many ways they are both fundamentalistic in their actions. This is a particular scandal to those who claim to be "liberal" (which is why I say anti-conservative rather than truly liberal), because as things work out on the ground they are not really interested in having an open table where everyone can have a place. They are interested in only those who will at least not challenge their forgone conclusions of what is right and proper, if not already agreeing with them. At least the conservatives make no pretense about being "open" to virtually anything.

A young, black, gay seminarian friend of mine kept saying, "I can't wait until this generation of leadership is gone. Then we can get back to being the Church." Does anyone see the irony in that statement?

"Anglicans" in the U.S. cannot get along just fine without the TEC. TEC cannot get along just fine without the Communion. To go down this road is to stop being what we have always been and become something that is just like everyone else - just little sects or denominations glowing about ourselves. James Smith in his book, "Whose Afraid of Postmodernism?," stresses the Modernist fallacy that claims that "particularities" are a source of violence and evil. This notion has lead to a lowest common denominator kind of ecumenicism that has resulted in many churches a depleting membership and a growing irrelevancy of influence for the good within our society. He claims in a Postmodern world, the Church needs to reclaim our particularities, our distinctive, else we will continue to descend into irrelevance within the greater culture. Anglicans are Anglicans because we are in communion with the Sea of Canterbury, part of something far larger than ourselves and of many cultural perspectives, take upon ourselves the Western Tradition through the experience of the English Church (locally employed), and live with the incredible tension of being with people we don't like or agree with as we all come to the altar of God - regardless of whether the other people hate us or love us.

As a gay priest, a Christian, I can do nothing but always regard those who disagree with me regarding same-sex relationships with respect and be with them, even if they hate me, spit upon me, and try to exclude me from God. That doesn’t mean I agree with them or don’t advocate for different positions. I have no choice but to do such things if I want to follow the commands of Jesus rather than the edicts of an ideology, liberal or conservative.
Bob | Homepage | 09.04.09 - 9:19 am | #

In defense of religion

There is a new book: An Atheist Defends Religion: Why Humanity is Better Off with Religion Than Without It, by Bruce Sheiman. The author takes up the case for the positive aspects of religion within our society.

I came across the following article dealing with the book on Christianity Today's website. The author stipulates that while the Christian religion may be a good thing, it is still a human endeavor. The New Testament is not primarily concerned with creating a new religion, but doing something very different with the hearts and mind of people and thus with society. Here is a quote that I particularly like:

But this sort of thing, religion, does not stand at the heart of the New Testament message. The gospel isn't primarily about helping individuals to live the life they've always wanted; it tells people to die to their yearning for self-fulfillment. It is not about helping people feel good about themselves, but telling them that they are dying. It's not about improving people, but killing the old self and creating them anew. It's not about helping people make space for spirituality in their busy lives, but about a God who would obliterate all our private space. The gospel is not about getting people to cooperate with God in making the world a better place—to give it a fresh coat of paint, to remodel it; instead it announces God's plan to raze the present world order and build something utterly new.

In short, religion is about making adjustments, making the best of things, inviting God to play a part in our lives and community, and the pursuit of spirituality! The gospel says our lives and our world are catastrophes, beyond tinkering, beyond remodeling. The gospel is about the Cross, which puts a nail in the coffin of religion as such. And the gospel is about resurrection — not an improvement nor an adjustment, but the breaking in of a completely new life because the old life has been obliterated.
[A Pretty Good Religion: Be wary of anyone who starts praising Christianity; by Mark Galli; posted 8/27/2009]

Being made into the image of God (the imago Dei) is not about tinkering, but about creating anew, completely.

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

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