Okay, another long blog discussion

So, I am once again involved in another long blog discussion over the recent letter sent by the new Presiding Bishop Jefferts-Shori to the Bishop of San Joaquin in California – one of the diocese that are attempting to move out of The Episcopal Church. Her letter comes after Bishop Schofield’s letter to his diocese as their diocesan convention approached.
Anyway, if you dare, read the comments and help me. Where am I wrong? Seriously. I know that my writing can be better, but I want to know where my inconsistencies are apparent.
The link is here.
Oh, I post under “Bob G+”


There is so much swirling around in my head and there is no time to sift through it all. How wonderful it would be to have time just to think, to work through things, or to be able to complete a project in a thorough manner.
It would be nice, but that is not the world in which I live, and frankly it is the world of too many of us. So, we do what we can.
I need to remind myself that the Church is God’s – St. Paul’s, The Episcopal Church, the Anglican Communion, or the Assemblies of God to extend out even further. I tend to be a perfectionist and to set high expectations for myself. I have learned to be realistic, but in the back of my mind a voice still says, “You should be able to do all this and do it up to the standards that the people and God warrant.” It would be nice.
Why am I here? I am here to glorify God. I am here to be in relationship with those around me. I am here to love them and help them be as God’s desires them to be – free, joyful, faithful, loving, forgiving, free (because this is very important), secure, content, giving, free, at peace, able to hear the still small voice of God, and so many other things.
I am a priest. This isn’t a job; it is a sense of being. It is more than an identity. My life is not my own, and I am one under authority. I am one in Holy Orders – a servant. Honestly, all the other stuff is (or should be) on the periphery. I too often focus on those peripheral things because they shout the loudest to be paid attention to.
From the Westminster Larger Catechism:

Question 1: What is the chief and highest end of man?
Answer: Man’s chief and highest end is to glorify God, and fully to enjoy him forever.

The Shorter Catechism is the same, only shorter (funny how that works, isn’t it?) and more familiar:

Q. 1. What is the chief end of man?
A. Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.

Oh, that this would always be in the forefront of my thoughts!
This brings me to the attitude adjustment that I’ve needed for a long time. I just hope it sticks. The work of my mind or hands is a service to the Church, in whatever function I happen to be fulfilling or in whatever capacity I am called: data-analyst, priest, spiritual director, confessor, gutter cleaner-outer, graphic designer, and so on.

30 Seconds to Mars

30 Seconds to Mars

Until you crash
Until you burn
Until you lie
Until you learn
Until you see
Until you believe
Until you fight
Until you fall
Until the end of everything at all
Until you die
Until you’re alive
Don’t save me, don’t save me, cuz I don’t care
Don’t save me, don’t save me, cuz
I don’t care
Until you give
Until you’ve used
Until you’ve lost
Until you lose
Until you see, how could you believe?
Until you’ve lived a thousand times
Until you’ve seen the other side
This is my chance, this is my chance
Don’t save me, don’t save me, cuz I don’t care
Don’t save me, don’t save me, cuz
I don’t care
Until the truth becomes a lie
Until you change, until you deny
Until you believe
This is my chance, this is my chance
I’ll take it now because I can
This is my chance, I want it now
Don’t save me, don’t save me, cuz I don’t care
Don’t save me, don’t save me, cuz
I don’t care
Save me, save me, save me
Save me, save me, save me
I don’t care

Adventures in Anglicanism

Bishop Scofield of the Diocese of San Joaquin has issued a letter to his diocese leading up to their diocesan convention. My take on the leader is that the resolutions before convention will remove those in the diocese from The Episcopal Church. Perhaps the presentment against Bishop Scofield by the other bishops of California, which was found to be without merit at the time, was premature. You can read the letter here.
Here is a response by Father Jake Stops the World
There is a lot of discussion of this letter at Titusonenine. I responded to an earlier comment that decried the attitudes typically associated with Californians of a social permissiveness or post-modernist way that says that all beliefs are equal, thusly:
Brain wrote:

So over time, what shapes what? Does the church remain a focal point of faithfulness amid “live and let live” or does a 97% unchurched population influence the church to “believe whatever ya want”? As far as mainline synods and denominations, the data is there for all to see.

Faithfulness to what? A very particular way of interpreting Scripture? A checklist of does and don’ts? A litmus test of theological principles? The two greatest commands given to us by Jesus? From the perspective of the unchurched people around us, I posit that it isn’t what we may think. They want to see people who actually live what they say – like Mother Teresa, like the Amish in Pennsylvania. Like Bishop Scofield? Life you or me? Like liberals or conservatives?
You know, with regard to the “believe what ya want” and the ethos behind post-modernism or its cousin “relativism”, the way we respond to people, the way we engage one another in disagreements, the way we speak and convey our principles and beliefs, the way we DO all these things become paramount. Talk is cheap. “They will know you are Christians by your love…” There ain’t a whole lot of lovin’ goin’ on.
Anyone can say anything and believe anything – Christian or non-Christian, liberal or conservative. It is only when the post-modernist and unchurched people see such a difference in our lives that they cannot deny that there is something profoundly significant in what we proclaim, expressed through our actions so as to not be found to be hypocrites. We can demand that post-modernism be rejected, but it isn’t going away. Our words must match our actions, and most non-Christians believe that we are a bunch of hypocrites in that regard – conservative or liberal, it doesn’t matter.
We as Christians will now have to honestly live lives of significant difference (as the Gospel calls us to do), and that is not just in our profession of beliefs or some demand that people stop behaving in certain ways. The unchurched look and see huge logs sticking out of our eyes. I think this is a problematic point in much of what I read from reasserters over some of the moral issues we are struggling over. I have no doubt that Bishop Scofield is a godly man who seeks after God’s will, but his description of all other Episcopalians who do not agree with his way of living out the Anglican/Christian life is problematic. Again, in a culture where anyone can believe whatever they want with equal regard, it is a demonstratably different life that will attract them and will prove to them that there is something different about THIS Gospel.
An example of this is how the liberal news media was bending over backwards to report on and trying to explain the profoundly different way the Amish responded to the murder of their children in Pennsylvania. In the Amish, they saw lived out the command to forgive and to love without hypocrisy. They look at us in all our pronouncements and infighting and accusations as nothing more than a bunch of hypocrites – ala Ted Haggard.
In a post-modernism world, we have to get off the pot! How often do we step back and really think of how the unchurched see us?

Shoot-First Apologetics

A cautionary article for our times, and from the Evangelicals no less:
Shoot-First Apologetics
What a dead bluebird taught Walter Martin about defending the faith.
Richard J. Mouw | posted 11/10/2006 07:59AM
I was chided recently by someone who was upset with me because of my extensive dialogues with Mormon scholars. “How can you engage in friendly conversations with people who believe such terrible things?” he asked me. I tried to explain that if we are going to criticize Mormonism, it should be on matters that they actually believe, not on what we think they believe. I said the best way to know Mormon beliefs is to actually engage in dialogue with Mormons.
“You don’t need to have dialogue with Mormons to know what Mormonism is all about,” the person retorted. “All you have to do is read Walter Martin! He had those folks figured out!”
As a high school student in the 1950s in New Jersey, I was a Walter Martin fan. He was not as well known in those days as he would be after 1965, when he published his much-reprinted Kingdom of the Cults. But he was already a dynamic speaker who could stir up an evangelical audience with his engaging, sharp-witted critiques of Mormonism, Christian Science, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Seventh-day Adventists (this last group he would later remove from his list of dangerous cults).
Continue reading below

Continue reading

Interesting stuff to read…

Here are some interesting articles I’ve read today:
1. George Soros – ‘Excerpt: Feel-Good Society
2. Archbishop of York – ‘Respect for Every Person
3. Archbishop of York – ‘Archbishop blames ‘chattering classes’ for collapse of Britain’s spiritual life‘ from the Daily Mail

This article touches on some interesting points about the role of religion in society. Britain and the United States share some common points here, and I think I do agree with the Archbishop.

4. A .pdf document entitled ‘Social Isolation in America: Changes in Core Discussion Networks over Two Decades‘ from the American Sociological Review

iPod Shuffle – 12:35 pm

Here is what the iPod has given me today:
1. Smashing Pumpkins, Landslide, from ‘Rotten Apples’
2. U2, Wild Honey, from ‘All That You Can’t Leave Behind’
3. The Russian State Symphony Capella Choir – Rachmaninoff, Amen Alleluia, from ‘Sacred Treasures III’
4. Aimee Mann, I Can’t Get My Head Around It, from ‘The Forgotten Arm’
5. Norah Jones, Be Here to Love Me, from ‘Feels Like Home’
6. Kate Bush, Don’t Push You’re Foot On The Heartbreak, ‘Lionheart’
7. Berlin, Take My Breath Away, from ‘The 80’s’
8. Gabrielle, Dreams, from ‘Magnolia’ soundtrack
9. Joi, India, from ‘One and One Is One’
10. Dashboard Confessional, Hey Girl, from ‘A Mark, A Mission, A Brand, A Scar’
11. Moby, Lift Me Up from ‘Hotel’ (Disk 1)
Fr. Jim Tucker of Dappled Things:

The rules, for bloggers who want to play:
Get your ipod or media-player of choice, select your whole music collection, set the thing to shuffle (i.e., randomized playback), then post the first ten songs that come out. No cheating, no matter how stupid it makes you feel!

Goals and/or Outcomes

The United Nations Millennium Goals have become a primary focus for The Episcopal Church of late, particularly since the last General Convention. The new Presiding Bishop stresses the goals as a good direction for this Church to move, and I agree. What comes first, however?
What separates the Church from a social-service organization? I think the first “goal” of the Church is well stated in the Catechism as it declares the Mission of this Church:
Q. What is the mission of the Church?
A. The mission of the Church is to restore all people to unity with God and each other in Christ.
For the Church, it seems to me that the Millennium Development Goals (MDG’s) are an outcome, not a “goal.” As we are reconciled to God and one another and all of creation we are transformed and enabled to love God with all our being, and for the purposes of this post more poignantly to love our neighbors as ourselves.
Out of our new love of God and neighbor, we desire to relieve the suffering of humanity. In that desire, perhaps because of that desire, we can look to the MDG’s as a means of fulfilling our devotion to Christ. The MDG’s are “outcomes” of what God does within us as we are continually made into the image of Christ.
In my opinion, this is the difference between the Church and a social-service organization. If we remove the first “goal,” we miss the point. We get the cart before the horse. We need to be careful not to allow organizations like the United Nations to set the agenda for the Church, although we certainly need to listen to and work with them.