Quote

“People do not live in the present always, at one with it. They live at all kinds of and manners of distance from it, as difficult to measure as the course of planets. Fears and traumas make their journeys slanted, peripheral, uneven, evasive.”
– Anais Nin (1903-1977), American writer

Baring False Witness

In my e-mail today, I received the daily news update from Focus-on-the-Family known as Citizenlink. One of the news blurbs focused on the Bishop of Recife in Brazil being deposed from his position.
This story is yet another, and in my opinion one of the most egregious, example of the failure of Christians to be Christian in the ideological “wars!” We simply must stop this kind of blatant mischaracterization, intentional misinformation, and forthright lying. Neither theological liberals nor conservatives are innocent. I have heard as many theological liberals as conservatives castigate and defame their opponents.
As followers of the Way of Christ, we are told: “For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:3-5, NIV) What are the weapons we are to use: prayer, humility, mercy, grace, peace, truth telling, care for those unable to care for themselves, selflessness, and many others. Yet, to listen to the forces theologically aligned against one another in the Church is to hear the worst of the ideological and political battles going on between Republicans and Democrats. Our way should be profoundly counter-cultural, but only if we dare to live out the call of the Gospel of Christ.
I want to say that Focus-on-the-Family just doesn’t understand Anglican structures and polity, but these people are not stupid – plus, the American Anglican Council played a large part in this news piece.
It is an example of propaganda and the intentional practice of baring false witness against the American Church, its parishioners, and its leaders. Whether we agree or not with the approval and consecration of Bishop Robinson in the Diocese of New Hampshire, or on the gay question generally, to knowingly misinform, twist the truth, and lie about people and events is completely unjustifiable and unchristian. The end does not justify the means, even if you consider this whole affair war.
If you do not recall, this bishop traveled to the U.S. to participate in illegal and irregular confirmations in the Diocese of Ohio. The four or so reactionary parishes in Ohio conducted a protest confirmation service with retired American bishops and the Bishop of Recife (and perhaps others?), without informing and receiving the permission of the Bishop of Ohio. These confirmations were done in secret in an Orthodox Church building and only later made public. The Archbishop of the Anglican Church in Brazil responded by disciplining the Bishop of Recife over his illegal actions.
The news story:

Brazilian Bishop Defrocked for Standing Up for Truth
by Pete Winn, associate editor
SUMMARY: The ordination of a gay bishop in the U.S. is having repercussions worldwide.
A major Anglican bishop in Brazil has been defrocked because he opposed the installation of American homosexual Bishop Gene Robinson — and said so publicly.

This is absolutely a distortion of the truth. The bishop would not have been removed if he protested against the inclusion of homosexuals in the Church, but he illegally transgressed not only diocesan boundaries but also provincial boundaries by coming to the Diocese of Ohio to participate in secret and irregular confirmations without the knowledge of his own Archbishop or the Bishop of Ohio. I am sure there are priests and bishops in Brazil who publicly disagree with the American and Canadian Churches’ positions on homosexuals and have not been removed from office. This statement is a lie, and these people know it!

The archbishop of Brazil, Orlando Santos de Oliveira, has ousted the Rt. Rev. Robinson Cavalcanti.
Cavalcanti is a solid evangelical and opposes the recognition of homosexual clergy, according to the Rev. Canon Ellis Brust of the American Anglican Council, who has been following the situation.

Continue reading

Troubled

From what I know, which I admit is limited, most all of the business ventures our current President was involved with throughout his adult life either failed or did very poorly. I will not speculate why, but that is the information I have.
Now, we have a war with no end in sight, a natural disaster, a probable additional nation disaster with hurricane Rita, an incredibly high and ever increasing fiscal deficit, and there is nothing about raising taxes to pay for the billions needed to take care of the Katrina tragedy or for the war, and a continued push for continued tax cuts.
A budget surplus was squandered. I just don’t know what goes on inside our President’s head, and the heads’ of his advisors, as they continue down a path that suggests fiscal ruin. I don’t understand how a Republican, as the party that supposedly champions fiscal responsibility, continues down this path. It makes no sense.
Pork barrel spending by Congress is no better. There is no restraint. They are raiding the treasury for their own benefit and not for the benefit of the nation as a whole or for future generations. Where are the responsible leaders?
I am troubled by the greed, the self-serving, and the short-sighted fiscal policies. Will this administration be just another example of our President’s string of failures? And, just so we are clear, I am not a liberal nor a socialist.

How hard is it?

This is nothing new, I know, but I’m just thinking…
The “real” Church (the one God recognizes), simply is. The One Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church, as we might put it, simply is. God has His criteria for who is part of that Church and who is not, for whatever reason. That is God’s prerogative regardless of what we may think about it. That is what makes God’s Church – it simply is.
We like to attempt that determination ourselves – what the “real” Church really is and who belongs to it. We have nice imaginations and go off on flights of fancy, but what we want to think makes no difference to God in establishing what the Church simply is or who simply belongs to it. Western Protestantism has excelled at this and made it into a true art form. All of Christendom participates, however.
How hard is it to recognized that all our machinations of what is and who belongs are nothing more that our attempts to place ourselves in God’s place and our attempts to create the Church in our own image?
We say all kinds of things and establish all kinds of criteria and create all kinds of policies to define who and what we are, and we mistake these policies and criteria for God’s. Pride and arrogance are very hard things to recognize in ourselves and at times even harder things to repent of.
I am not a religious relativist or a Universalist, and I recognize the inconsistency in what I just wrote above and my own attempt to make the claim that Jesus Christ is the only way to God. At least I think I can say that I may be absolutely wrong!
Life is so much easier when I leave all those judgments to God. I am called to evaluate, to discern, and will have to make judgments, but ultimately the Spirit of God is the only one who knows the heart of any wo/man and whether s/he is a member of the “real” Church or not.
I think I am called to encourage and challenge anyone and everyone to have a relationship or closer relationship with God through Jesus Christ by the enabling of the Holy Spirit. I don’t have to do anything more by way of judging who is in or who is out or what is real and what is not, thank God! Thank God that I can leave that to the “real” Judge – the one who saves us from ourselves.

“We” or “I”

There has been some discussion on the House of Bishops/House of Deputies listserv lately on the change in the beginning of the Nicene Creed from the pronoun “I” to “We” in the 1979 Book of Common Prayer.
I thought this post below was good, not because I necessarily know enough to agree with his statements or not, but because of his differentiation between “assent” to belief and “a cry of the heart”:

Fr. _____’s response to the issue of the pronoun in the Nicene Creed points so clearly to one of my major problems with Western Christianity.
The common explanation is that, while the original form was for the purpose of defining “our” beliefs, participants in the Divine Liturgy must personally assent to the truths of the Gospel.
For him, as for so many of us, belief is “assent” not worship. Of course the Eastern Church can say “I,” because in the Divine Liturgy, the Nicene Creed is not a gate to the mysteries, a place through which one must successfully pass in order to enter and inner sanctum, it is worship. The Creed is a cry of the heart, not a statement of the brain.
Until we regain the sense of mystery and wonder Bill hinted at in his original post, we can continue to expect to be thus divided over issues of right “assent.”
Peace,
Jeff _____

Quote

Jon, who responded to my last post, included the following quote:
Brennan Manning: Too many of us in this culture are enslaved by things. The only way for a Christian to live in an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that their very existence is an act of rebellion. There is nothing more maddening than a free person.
I like it!! 🙂

To be “catholic”

Growing up as an American Evangelical I was acculturated into the belief that ultimately it is all about me and Jesus. There is an element of truth in that idea that I still believe. If I am stranded on a deserted island, I can still have a vital Christian experience in my relationship with God through Jesus – just Jesus and me. But, as I have written previously, I am coming into an understanding of what it means to be a “catholic” Christian. I am beginning to understand how that idea challenges my American Evangelical, lone-ranger mentality.
There is a growing conflict within me about the Episcopal/Anglican controversies over gay relationships. Now that I am ordained, I am not in the same state as I was when I was a lay person. I am now under a different standard and a different obligation to God and to Christ’s Church universal.
I am a transitional deacon and soon-to-be-priest in Christ’s one Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church, and my “rights” or my “individual” anything are no longer a primary consideration. I have put myself under a different set of parameters for living. It makes no difference what my personal beliefs may be in the grand scheme of things. They are simply my beliefs – right or wrong. As a clergyman, my responsibility is to God and to the Church and not to my own fulfillment or desires.
So, I am very conflicted right now about what I should be doing – how I should be conducting my life. I believe the decisions of GC2003 are justifiable according to Scripture and theological perspective. Yet, as a clergyman in a Church that as of yet has not come to a common understanding of all this stuff does not mean I can just act as I would like. I am one under authority.
The Church defines marriage as being between the two opposite genders. The Church proclaims that sex outside of marriage is not within God’s will, and is ultimately harmful to us. Therefore, since the Church does not yet conclude that “marriage” between individuals of the same gender is right or proper, then I should not be engaged in a relationship that includes sexual expression. Maybe, maybe not. At the same time, the Church is often wrong and does not realize its wrongness without pioneers pushing for change, without conflict, without being pushed to the edge by those label heretics. How then shall I live? As an advocate that nevertheless abides by current Church teaching? As a pioneer who stands by and acts upon my strongly held personal beliefs and advocates for change? As someone who ultimately knows that I stand before God alone as my judge and that as long as I can honestly say that I believe this to be proper before God, then I will do or be such a thing regardless what the institutions of men say?
It is very hard for me to sublimate my own feelings, beliefs, and desires for the sake of a teaching I think is wrong. It goes against my individualistic American nature. This is what I think, and I am therefore going to act upon my belief, and no one has the right to keep me from it.
I am coming to believe that the Episcopal Church acted prematurely, even if the actions taken I consider proper. I am coming to think that The Rev. Jeffrey John in England was right when he said he and his partner refrained from sexual expression in their long-term relationship when the Church of England reasserted its call for the clergy who are outside the bonds of marriage to be celibate and chaste.
I am a deacon and a priest-to-be. I vowed to obey the teachings of the Episcopal Church, and as of now the teachings are still such that marriage is between a man and a woman. I believe Scriptures calls us to express ourselves sexually within marriage. As of yet, I do not have the option of marriage either by the State or the Church, even though we are in the midst of change. As a clergyman, I am really feeling the conflict of believing I should obey the teachings of the Church as they stand, even if I think they are wrong. I am not alone, however, and must consider the well being of another.
This, for me, is the conflict of being an evangelical and a catholic Christian.