We have watched sermons from

We have watched sermons from Barbara Brown Taylor in our Preaching class, so here is one she recently gave dealing with current issues in the Episcopal Church, which reflect current issues in our society, especially since the judicial ruling in Massachusetts, yesterday. Thanks, Chris, for the e-mail.

From
http://www.christiancentury.org/faithmatters.html
20 October 2003 Where the Bible leads me By Barbara Brown Taylor
During the fourth century, at the height of the Arian controversy in Constantinople, one Christian wrote that it was impossible to go into a bakery for a loaf of bread without debating the nature of Christ.
Was he the eternal Son of the eternal Father or was there a time when he was not?
With bishops physically assaulting other bishops over this question and emperors changing sides on a regular basis, the debate spilled out of the church into the streets, where the Athanasians favored passages from John’s Gospel and the Arians shot back with passages from Mark.
When I read this chapter of early church history, I thanked God for letting me live in a later one. Then I got back to planning classes and grading papers.
That was before the 2003 General Convention of the Episcopal Church, however, when a majority of delegates from across the United States confirmed the election of the Rev. Gene Robinson as the first openly gay bishop in the Anglican Communion.
Since then, North Georgia has come to resemble Constantinople in at least one regard: no Episcopalian goes anywhere without being asked for his or her position on homosexuality.
While no physical assaults have yet been reported, the debate has split churches and threatened budgets. It has also involved heated references to scripture. Robinson fans tend to favor passages from the Gospels, while Robinson foes shoot back with passages from Paul.
In the crossfire, it is not hard to understand why Anthony the Great fled civilization for the desert in the middle of the fourth century. Depending on who your neighbors are, snakes and hyenas can look like pretty good company.
The problem I run into at the bakery is that I do not have a position on homosexuality.
What I have, instead, is a life. I have a history, in which many people have played vital parts. When I am presented with the issue of homosexuality, I experience temporary blindness. Something like scales fall over my eyes, because I cannot visualize an issue.
Instead, I visualize the homeroom teacher who seemed actually to care whether I showed up at school or not.
I see the priest who taught me everything I know about priesthood, and the professor who roasted whole chickens for me when my food money ran out before the end of the month.
I see the faces of dozens of young men who died of AIDS, but not before they had shown me how brightly they could burn with nothing left but the love of God to live on.
I see the face of my 16-year-old friend, still waiting for his first true love, who says that if he found out he was gay, he would kill himself.
Other people have other stories, I know, but these are the stories that have given me my sight.
To reduce them to a position seems irreverent somehow, like operating on someone’s body without looking him in the face.
I used to believe that swapping stories was one way to get closer to people who see things differently than I do, so that both of our truths get stretched, but I have almost given up on that.
Where I live, at least, there is little sense that life stories can be “true.”
Only scripture is true, so that the debate about the place of homosexual Christians in the church today hangs on what various
biblical writers did or did not mean by one of five passages that were written at least 1,950 years ago.
I love the Bible.
I have spent more than half of my life reading it, studying it, teaching and preaching it.
While I do not find every word of it as inspiring (or inspired) as some of my fellow Christians do, I encounter God in it reliably enough to commit myself on a daily basis to practicing the core teachings of both testaments.
When I do this, however, a peculiar thing happens.
As I practice what I learn in the Bible, the Bible turns its back on me.
Like some parent intent on my getting my own place, the Bible won’t let me set up house in its pages.
It gives me a kiss and boots me into the world, promising me that I have everything I need to find God not only on the page but also in the flesh.
Whether I am reading Torah or the Gospels, the written word keeps evicting me, to go embody the word by living in peace and justice with my neighbors on this earth, whatever amount of confrontation, struggle, recognition and surrender that may involve.
In this way, I have arrived at a different understanding of what it means to follow the Word of God.
The phrase has become a double entendre for me, meaning not only the Word on the page but also (and more crucially) the Word made flesh.
If Jesus’ own example is to be trusted, then following the Word of God may not always mean doing what is in the book.
Instead, it may mean deviating from what is in the book in order to risk bringing the Word to life, and then facing the dreadful
consequences of loving the wrong people even after you have been warned time and again to stop.
These days I guess everything sounds like a position, even a confession like this one.
I do not know what is right.
All I know is whom I love, and how far I have to go before there is no one left whom I do not love.
If I am wrong, then I figure that the Word of God will know what to do with me.
I am betting my life on that.
* * * Barbara Brown Taylor teaches at Piedmont College and Columbia Theological Seminary.

comments? e-mail me

If of interest, here is

If of interest, here is the link to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court’s ruling:
GOODRIDGE, et al. v. DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC HEALTH, et al.
Andrew Sullivan has a great commentary on his website.

“More to the point – a gay citizen should not be deemed inferior to a straight citizen, denied basic equality under the law, denied the right guaranteed in the Declaration of Independence to the “pursuit of happiness,” when there is absolutely no rational reason to do so. Here is a challenge to the many married heterosexual readers of this site: did you ever believe that your fundamental right to the pursuit of happiness did not include the right to marry the person you love? Has the possibility that the government might invalidate or prevent your marriage ever for a second occurred to you? If not for you, why not for gays? Why should one group in society be granted special rights over others?” (Andrew Sullivan)

comments? e-mail me

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court has ruled today: the Commonwealth of Massachusetts cannot deny equal rights, privileges, and responsibilities for marriage to couples of the same sex.
I pulled this statement from Andrew Sullivan’s website (I’m not sure where it comes from, but it seems to be a statement from the bench):

“Marriage is a vital social institution. The exclusive commitment of two individuals to each other nurtures love and mutual support; it brings stability to our society. For those who choose to marry, and for their children, marriage provides an abundance of legal, financial, and social benefits. In return it imposes weighty legal, financial, and social obligations. The question before us is whether, consistent with the Massachusetts Constitution, the Commonwealth may deny the protections, benefits, and obligations conferred by civil marriage to two individuals of the same sex who wish to marry. We conclude that it may not. The Massachusetts Constitution affirms the dignity and equality of all individuals. It forbids the creation of second-class citizens. In reaching our conclusion we have given full deference to the arguments made by the Commonwealth. But it has failed to identify any constitutionally adequate reason for denying civil marriage to same-sex couples. ”

comments? e-mail me

“…they say, ‘of all other

“…they say, ‘of all other most clear, where speaking of those things which are called indifferent, in the end he concludeth, That ‘whatsoever is not of faith is sin.’ But faith is not but in respect of the Word of God. Therefore whatsoever is not done by the Word of God is sin.” Whereunto we answer, that albeit the name of Faith being properly and strictly taken, it must needs have reference unto some uttered word as the object of belief: nevertheless sith the ground of credit is the credibility of things credited; and things are made credible, either by the know condition and quality of the utterer, or by the manifest likelihood of truth which they have in themselves; hereupon it riseth that whatsoever we are persuaded of, the same we are generally said to believe. In which generality the object of faith may not so narrowly be restrained, as if the same did extend no further than to the only Scriptures of God. ‘Though,’ saith our Saviour, ‘ye believe not me, believe my works, that ye may know and believe that the Father is in me and I in him.’ ‘The other disciples said unto Thomas, We have seen the Lord;’ but his answer unto them was, ‘Except I see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into them, I will not believe.’ Can there be any thing more plain than that which by these two sentences appeareth, namely, that there may be a certain belief grounded upon other assurance than Scripture: any thing more clear, than that we are said not only to believe the things which we know by another’s relation, but eve whatsoever we are certainly persuaded of, whether it be by reason or by sense?”
(Richard Hooker, Book Two of The Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity – so to answer the Puritan’s demand that nothing be done but that which is directly found in scripture, and if something be done that is not found in scripture, then it is sin.)

“…they say, ‘of all other

“…they say, ‘of all other most clear, where speaking of those things which are called indifferent, in the end he concludeth, That ‘whatsoever is not of faith is sin.’ But faith is not but in respect of the Word of God. Therefore whatsoever is not done by the Word of God is sin.” Whereunto we answer, that albeit the name of Faith being properly and strictly taken, it must needs have reference unto some uttered word as the object of belief: nevertheless sith the ground of credit is the credibility of things credited; and things are made credible, either by the know condition and quality of the utterer, or by the manifest likelihood of truth which they have in themselves; hereupon it riseth that whatsoever we are persuaded of, the same we are generally said to believe. In which generality the object of faith may not so narrowly be restrained, as if the same did extend no further than to the only Scriptures of God. ‘Though,’ saith our Saviour, ‘ye believe not me, believe my works, that ye may know and believe that the Father is in me and I in him.’ ‘The other disciples said unto Thomas, We have seen the Lord;’ but his answer unto them was, ‘Except I see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into them, I will not believe.’ Can there be any thing more plain than that which by these two sentences appeareth, namely, that there may be a certain belief grounded upon other assurance than Scripture: any thing more clear, than that we are said not only to believe the things which we know by another’s relation, but eve whatsoever we are certainly persuaded of, whether it be by reason or by sense?”
(Richard Hooker, Book Two of The Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity – so to answer the Puritan’s demand that nothing be done but that which is directly found in scripture, and if something be done that is not found in scripture, then it is sin.)

“…they say, ‘of all other

“…they say, ‘of all other most clear, where speaking of those things which are called indifferent, in the end he concludeth, That ‘whatsoever is not of faith is sin.’ But faith is not but in respect of the Word of God. Therefore whatsoever is not done by the Word of God is sin.” Whereunto we answer, that albeit the name of Faith being properly and strictly taken, it must needs have reference unto some uttered word as the object of belief: nevertheless sith the ground of credit is the credibility of things credited; and things are made credible, either by the know condition and quality of the utterer, or by the manifest likelihood of truth which they have in themselves; hereupon it riseth that whatsoever we are persuaded of, the same we are generally said to believe. In which generality the object of faith may not so narrowly be restrained, as if the same did extend no further than to the only Scriptures of God. ‘Though,’ saith our Saviour, ‘ye believe not me, believe my works, that ye may know and believe that the Father is in me and I in him.’ ‘The other disciples said unto Thomas, We have seen the Lord;’ but his answer unto them was, ‘Except I see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into them, I will not believe.’ Can there be any thing more plain than that which by these two sentences appeareth, namely, that there may be a certain belief grounded upon other assurance than Scripture: any thing more clear, than that we are said not only to believe the things which we know by another’s relation, but eve whatsoever we are certainly persuaded of, whether it be by reason or by sense?”
(Richard Hooker, Book Two of The Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity – so to answer the Puritan’s demand that nothing be done but that which is directly found in scripture, and if something be done that is not found in scripture, then it is sin.)
comments? e-mail me

Ashton and I have to

Ashton and I have to prepare today. Ashton has decided that it is time to put Daq to sleep. That dog has been with him for 14 years. A good life, for a dog. It is especially hard for Ashton because Daq is generally healthy, it seems. She has arthritis, and hip-displatia (sp?), although both are being managed with drugs. She also has a problem of number 2 – she just can’t hold it.
I accompany the two of them on walks on Monday’s, and she really is in pretty good shape. I run with her for a couple blocks and she goes right along, although a couple weeks ago her hind-legs, really her hips, I suppose, gave out. I felt so bad for her, and for what it means for Ashton. She recouped and was on her away again, but the writing was on the wall. It was only a matter of time, and now time has caught up with her.
It will be very hard on Ashton. He loves that dog, and she has been a consistent presence in his life. He and Brett will probably take her to the Vet. I’m not sure whether he wants me to come along or not, but I certainly will if he needs me to.
The next two weeks are going to kill me, I just know it. Four papers will be due within that time, and I just don’t know how I will accomplish everything. In a month, half of my seminary education will be over. It is going by so fast.
comments? e-mail me

Good article from The Tablet

Good article from The Tablet in the UK. This takes on a number of things, but of interest to me is some historical background on the Communion and past controversies and what some see as a creeping into a more centralized authority, with real authority, to develop common canon law and doctrine.
http://www.thetablet.co.uk/cgi-bin/archive_db.cgi?tablet-00814
comments? e-mail me