April 2010 Archives

Ministry & Cyberspace

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This from the Toledo Blade newspaper concerning ministry and evangelism over the Internet:

Online missionaries spread Gospel in cyberspace

Wrath of Hell - Eyjafjallajökull Eruption

Image by orvaratli via Flickr

Incredible views of the Eyjafjallajokull volcano in Iceland and the resulting aurora borealis!

Link to the TimesOnline (UK) photos

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Indepence Day Comes Late

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A New Kind of Christianity

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Recently, someone sent to me via e-mail a review of Brian McLaren's new book, "A New Kind of Christianity: Ten Questions That Are Transforming the Faith" (HarperOne).  The review is, Anthony B. Robinson is president of Congregational Leadership Northwest.

The reviewer talks about the pertinence of the book and McLaren's thoughts for American Evangelicalism, though he says there may be less pertinence for mainline or progressive denominations/Christians.  He explains why in this paragraph:

But when the audience is, as I suspect it often will be, mainline or self-described progressive Christians, I'm less sure that McLaren's message is the thing that's needed. The tendency in mainline or progressive circles has long been to say that the problem is outdated, outmoded Christianity. The project has been to redo theology, revise language and creed, update imagery and practice, all with the idea that if we can just make Christianity fit into our present world, all will be well. In a fair number of churches this revisionist project has gone on for so long that there simply isn't much left to revise--or to sustain the dwindling numbers of the faithful. Where this updating project has so long prevailed, a slightly altered version of Shakespeare's line from Julius Caesar may be apt: the fault, dear Brutus, is not in our paradigms, it is in ourselves, that we are sinners.
This is, I think, one of the best descriptions of the plight of the mainline churches and progressive Christianity in general.

This is where something of a reforming nature must be said to "progressive" Christians in places like my own Church. The substance and core of the faith is Jesus Christ and our drawing close to Him. "A New Kind of Christianity" is really very old and is that which has endured for millennia within the living Tradition.  The reform of the progressive Church will rest in the recognition that to progress is to the returning.
Here is a video I came across yesterday from Ruth Gledhill, the Religion correspondent for the Times Online (UK), commenting on the cries of persecution from certain British Christians.  Her comments are a bit surprising because over the last six years or so, she has been critical of a lot of liberal Christian stuff (which, frankly, I agreed with a lot of the time - though not all of the time).

Her comments ring true here in the U.S., too, among Christians of a certain kind.  The difference here in the U.S. is that this cohort is trying to gain power, take power, impose themselves within government and all of society. It is certainly their right to champion their opinions or causes, but not to attempt to impose them upon all.  In England, the Church of England is established, so the tactics of these people are different, but the goals remain the same.  One such goal is to impose their particular ideas and forms of Christianity upon all and demand that their interpretations be declared the only valid ones for all of the Christian faith, despite that these forms/ideas/ideologies of the faith are only recent, historically.

While  I am not a "liberal Christians" (I suspect her use of "liberal" is in a similar way that we describe our form of government as a "liberal" democracy, and not to convey a political or religious ideology), nor am I a fundamentalist - either liberal or conservative. Yet the way the neo-conservative, Religious Right, American-Evangelical groups and people are attempting to force their narrow view of things upon all of society simply isn't going to work.  What ends up happening, and has happened, is that the Church and the cause of Christ are defamed. I think this is part of what Gledhill is getting at.

Spirit of an Age

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[Be aware, I've got to proof read the following.  Don't have time at the moment.]

When I entered the Episcopal Church, I came because I was interested in investigating a liturgical and sacramental form of Christianity.  I have to admit, and this is a bit simple, that I was intrigued by the word "Episcopalian."  I suppose that may be one reason why I chose an Episcopal church over a Lutheran church. Conveniently, there was a large Episcopal church down the street from my new apartment I rented upon moving to Akron.  So, I attended.  I knew nothing at the time of "Anglicanism."  What kept me in that parish and this Church was not simply liturgical worship or sacramental Christianity, but the ethos and history and form of power within the Anglican system and form of Christianity.  I was captured by Anglicanism, and the Church that was the Anglican Church in the U.S. was and still is, at this point anyway, the Episcopal Church.  Would I have stayed in the Episcopal Church if it were not "Anglican?" I don't know, frankly, but the history and Tradition of Anglicanism is what keeps me in this Church (and a vow I made, of course).

As I did some reading on the history of the Episcopal Church I realized the unique position Anglicanism plays within greater Christianity - there are Charismatic-Evangelicals and Anglo-Catholics and "Latitudinarians," there are Arminians and Calvinists, conservatives and moderates and liberals, there are "High church" people and "Low church" people and "Broad church" people, Protestants and Catholics... there are all kinds of people who historically have argued and fought for their particular party, piety, or theology, but who have remained together around the common worship of the Church to Almighty God.  This "Via Media" form provides a wonderful counter example to the way the World, and frankly much of Christianity, conducts itself.  We stayed together!

I recognized early on that there were forces afoot within the Episcopal Church that wished to subjugate this via media and force Anglicanism to bend to particular theological and pietistic beliefs.  Yet, we were staying together, until 2006 when an action of a bishop in the American Church, which at the time was not at all political but the actions of the people of a diocese electing a trusted priest to be their new bishop, caused everything to change. The election became very political; suddenly the reactionaries (liberal and conservative) had a cause to rally around and a straw with which to break the camel's proverbial back.

Coming out of American-Evangelicalism during its political and social ascendancy, I am convinced that among a growing number of "conservative" Episcopalians was a determination to remake U.S. Anglicanism into their image of "correct Christianity."  This group of Episcopalians were not acting like traditional Anglican-Evangelicals, but more like American-Evangelical Religious-Right activists who were determined to force their particular view-points and beliefs upon the whole Church to the exclusion of another other traditionally Anglican form, particularity of the Broad Church/Laditudinarian form.  Again, coming out of American-Evangelicalism, I saw the same attitudes and tactics of the pseudo-conservative, politicized Religious Right movement and the goals of such groups as the Institute of Religion and Democracy.  This wasn't "Anglican," but was and is very "American."

Now, I will assert that much of the reaction of many conservative Episcopalians was and is due to the hubris and authoritarianism of "liberal" Episcopalians who have aped the worst of the cultural Identity-Politics and Political-Correctness juggernaut. I have seen the oh-so-welcoming and inclusive liberals act in dramatically hypocritical ways that are shockingly exclusive and demeaning to people who don't jump on their bandwagon. I am truly saddened that so many pseudo-liberal minded Episcopalians cannot countenance the inclusion of conservative minded Episcopalians, and their actions are one of the primary reasons for the more draconian conservative counter-actions. 

Most true conservative and true liberal Episcopalians do not mind at all the differences existing within the same Church, but the fundamentalist-conservatives and fundamentalist-liberals cannot accept traditional Anglican diversity, so they will rather accept the destruction of the Church than to enter into any kind of compromise or willingness to co-exist - the very foundation of Anglicanism. This is the attitude of the "leadership," however.  The extremes have been allowed to occupy the center of Episcopal and Anglican life for too long. 

Thus, the war between to extremist groups in the U.S. has been exported all over the world in their attempts to gain allies and to eject the "other" from the Anglican Communion. Purity is the war cry, for both the pseudo-liberal and pseudo-conservative agitators. This war has its origins, of course, in the U.S. Culture Wars, and we have taken up the same "weapons of war" used by the non-Christians in our own very "Christian" battles.  Too bad, because our "weapons" should not be theirs, but because they are we no longer have any kind of credible alternative to the brutish and destructive way of engaging the "other" with different beliefs or understands from our won without desiring their destruction or complete subjugation.

Well, I thing a lot of this dualism and rejection of compromise and new found authoritarianism comes from a certain Spirit of the Age, a zeitgeist, that this more generational than time-based. The "Spirit of a Generation" might be a more accurate way of describing this attitude and determination to act in such was that are profoundly unchristian.  While not all Baby Boomers have been duped by this secular "spirit," the "Spirit" does permeate the thinking and behavior of that generation.  Looking in, the actions and attitudes of, say, Bishop Bruno and Bishop Duncan are the same.  The way that Bishop Iker and Bishop Chane think are the same - perhaps opposite sides of the spectrum, but still the way they think is the same.

Fundamentalism is fundamentalism, whether expressed in a "conservative" or "liberal" form. This generation is very fundamentalistic.  It is "our way" or no way.  We will remake the world in our image and anyone that gets in our way must be eliminated - figuratively or actually.

While every generation will have both positive and negative attributes, the problems this Church, American Christianity in general, and the Anglican Communion are going through in our time will never be solved until this generation is out of power.  Period. 

The next generation of leaders will face their own proclivities, but there is something peculiar about the Baby Boomer generation.  We are no reaping the whirlwind of their generational spirit, and it is proving to be not very good.  Of course, not all that this generation has done is bad.  Change in many spheres of life and culture needed to occur, but when a generation determines to untether itself from the lessons and wisdom of the past and believes that they are uniquely predestined to usher in a new world order, well, the world is in trouble.

So, the Episcopal Church and Anglicanism in the U.S. and much of the world will just have to wait this out.  There is no way under currently leadership that a Godly solution will be found.  It just isn't going to happen.  There is too much pride, arrogance, and bitterness for the Anglican Way to triumph.  Anglicanism will continue, but it will take a while before we can begin rebuilding trust and God-centered fellowship.  It will be another 25 years before the Episcopal Church will be able to begin rebuilding.  We will be a very small Church at that point, because the current leadership will not change.  That may be defeatist, but human nature is a sinful nature and short of divine intervention, well, I pray for divine intervention.

I am very hopeful for the Church, for Anglicanism, for Christianity in this country, but I realize that we too often get in God's will being accomplished.  His Church will survive!  Anglicanism is wonderfully situated to meet emerging generations in their spiritual quest, but not the way it is being conducted right now.  We wait.  We wait for the time when we can rebuild.  Until then, we lift up the name of Jesus Christ, we preach Christ crucified and resurrected and ascended, we engage the Sacraments, and we worship together in the ancient Anglican form around the common alter, the Scriptures, and the Prayer Book. 

Sounds like English?

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Ever wonder what English sounds like to an non-English speaking Italian?  Whether it is gibberish or not, I like the song... lots of energy!

An Italian singer wrote this song with gibberish to sound like English. If youve ever wondered what other people think Americans sound like, this is it. -- cernuto - December 29, 2009

Red Hook #4

On the waterfront in Red Hook, Brooklyn.  This building was once a warehouse, but now is condos and Fairway grocery store.


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