Sign of the cross

I get weekly e-mail updates from a variety of organizations. Today’s came from Christianity Today, a more Evangelical news magazine. There is an article by Nathan Bierma about making the sign of the cross, which traditionally Evangelicals do not do – it’s too “Catholic.”
The author referenced two new books on the practice and history of the Sign of the Cross.
I’ve watched over the years in my own move from American Evangelicalism to Anglicanism in The Episcopal Church and still further towards Anglo-Catholicism as more staunchly Protestant and particularly Evangelical expressions of the faith have begun to re-incorporate many of the ancient Traditions of the Church universal back into their practice. Such things as weekly communion and now making the sign of the cross, for example.
He writes:

After reading these two books, this previously ignorant Protestant, for one, has decided to introduce the sign of the cross into his daily prayer, as a link with the early church, a sign of God’s claim on me, and a reminder of the mystery of the Trinity.
Whether we practice it or not, the sign of the cross is one manifestation of how physical—how embodied—worship really is.

An important aspect of Episcopalian and Anglican devotion, particularly the High-Church/Anglo-Catholic bunch, has been the keeping alive this very idea of the embodiment of what we do as devotion and demarcation of who and what we are. In ideas of incarnation, a unique Anglican strength, we realize that during our common worship and in private devotions, our bodily actions and our doings are as important in our formation as is the stimulation of our minds. Orthopraxis – right doing. It is a full-bodied worship experience incorporating all the senses and postures.

The Dean of GTS has spoken

Ward Ewing, Dean of The General Theological Seminary, my seminary, has written a statement regarding the Communique from the Primates Meeting.
Kendall posted it on his weblog. You can read it here. Read the comments. Really, read the comments. What have we come to? What are we devolving into? The triumph of the American religion, which bears little resemblance to what God calls us to, IMHO.

New demands

Archbishops Akinola of Nigeria and Nzimbi of Kenya have demanded that The Church of England (Canterbury) certify to them by September 30th that they have stopped all same-sex marriages or blessings and do not ordaining homosexuals.

Led by Nigeria’s Archbishop Peter Akinola and Kenya’s Benjamin Nzimbi, the bishops said if Canterbury “does not come back to us by September 30, we will decide whether they will continue being with us or not.”
“Let us know if they will have stopped celebrating same sex marriages and ordaining homosexuals,” Bishop Akinola who is the chairman of the Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa (Capa) said during the launch of an HIV /Aids prevention plan at Panafric Hotel.

Read the whole article. Via comments on In a Godward Direction.

Hard and complete scholarship

Tobias Haller, priest, member of TEC’s Executive Committee, offers some thoughts on Ash Wednesday and the call of the Primates for adequate response by The Episcopal Church on his blog, In a Godward Direction. Read the post and the comments!
One thing I find encouraging about ++Katherine is that she comes from the “hard” physical-sciences and not the “soft” social-sciences. What I mean is that when she looks for justifications for positions or to prove a hypothesis she will look for actual data, thorough research, complete scholarship, etc. Too many of us from a social-science background or from within the Humanities over the last 30 years have resorted to arguments based on “feelings.” We must do this or that because it “feels right” or so that we do not damage the “feelings” of others, etc. The tendency is to do some studies, but only enough to give us enough confidence to press our point, not enough to persuade critics. Simplistic, I know, but that is a beginning. I have been through too many classes concerning social and personal “develop theories” and listened to too many people give justifications for doing this or that thing based no little more than “feelings.”
This issue of whether TEC has given good and rigorous and complete theological and Scriptural justifications for our attempts to change thousands of years of Tradition and Scriptural interpretation concerning the morality of homosexual relationships has come back to us with the answer of, “NO!” I agree, and I don’t think we have. I think there are too many people in the leadership of TEC (staff-priests-bishops) who wish to make justifications for our actions based too much on “feelings” (reflected in such subjective “proofs” as issues of justice, inclusion, and the like – as important as they are), rather than on hard, rigorous, and complete research and scholarship. The result is that we have been woefully lacking in our response to the challenge of the wider Christian community to our attempts to change Christian Tradition and understanding. We have not done our homework well – perhaps just enough to make ourselves feel good about our effort.
We have acted with hubris, not because our actions are intrinsically wrong, but because our attitudes are paternalistic towards all those “homophones” that refuse to accept our “enlightened” new understanding. It is time for hard theological work, hard research, and hard scholarship! Frankly, because of our arrogance it may be too late to persuade anyone. This is the legacy being realized my too much attention to “feelings” and not hard data and thorough scholarship over the last 40 years.
The hard work is what ++Katherine will hopefully demand of us, as she would demand of someone proposing a new theory concerning octopuses.
Then, from the comments, is the following:

When I was in college, there were several racist incidents on campus. House meetings were held, and campus-wide meetings were held. One of the African-American students in my house said something that struck me to this day. We were talking about how to understand each other better, how to bridge cultures and learn from each other. Several women suggested that we needed to hear from our African-American sisters, hear their stories and learn from them.
This particular lady stood up, crying, and said “WHY do I have to teach you? Why is it incumbent upon ME to educate you about this? I live it, I’m tired of it. Go out for yourselves and find out what we, as black women, are talking about. Take classes, read history, study it yourselves. It is not my job as a black woman to educate you all about racial injustice.”
As a lesbian, I’m feeling much the same way. There are myriad resources for these bishops, priests and congregations to use to educate themselves about our theological position. Why should we have to continually answer the call of “PROVE it to us!” They don’t want it proven to them. They don’t open their ears to hear, or their eyes to see the oppression of GLBT people in the church. I have had to educate MYSELF about this subject, they can, too. The bishops have the same resources (even more, I’ll bet) than I do. They are intelligent and learned. But their hearts and minds are closed.

It is a two-way-street, and what do we do when the other party has no interest in learning or any further study?

The City #10

It is 11:44 and Jody Foster is coming to the podium. I look out the window and huge snow flakes are falling. Looking out the window, looking at this side of St. Paul’s, across the street to Guido’s Funeral Home, and looking down the street at the steeple of the Roman Catholic Church, it really is magical.
There is something about a snow fall in the city.

To change?

Bonnie Anderson, President of the House of Deputies of The Episcopal Church, comprising 800+ clergy and lay deputies and meeting with the House of Bishops every three years at the General Convention, the Church’s governing body, has issued a statement in response to the Primates’ Communiqué.
Here is a couple statements that I find particularly poignant:

Their Communiqué, however, raises profound and serious issues regarding their authority to require any member Church to take the types of specific actions the Communiqué contemplates and whether they have authority to enforce consequences or penalties against any member Church that does not act in a way they desire. The type of authority for the Primates implicit in the Communiqué would change not only the Episcopal Church but the essence of the Anglican Communion.
All Anglicans must remember that the second Lambeth Conference in 1878 recommended that “the duly certified action of every national or particular Church, and of each ecclesiastical province (or diocese not included in a province), in the exercise of its own discipline, should be respected by all the other Churches, and by their individual members.”
This has been the tradition of the Anglican Communion. To demand strict uniformity of practice diminishes our Anglican traditions.

She used the word “recommended” rather than other words such as – “mandated,” “declared,” “established” – more in line with the Tradition of Anglicanism. Lambeth is not a body that establishes official doctrine for The Anglican Communion and all provincial Churches within it. It is not a “Curia” or a “Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.” This has been repeated over and over again as the factual and historical Tradition of Anglican governance, yet reactionaries against the decisions of the last two U.S. General Conventions keep pushing and pushing as if the bishops assembled at Lambeth had such power.
Of course, as their relentless drive to so establish Lambeth continues, it will become the de-facto decision making body with “authority” unless there are those with enough backbone to say, “NO, this is not what Anglicanism has been and this is not what Lambeth is!”

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Cling to him and do not depart…

“My child, when you come to serve the Lord, prepare yourself for testing. Set your heart right and be steadfast, and do not be impetuous in time of calamity. Cling to him and do not depart, so that your last days may be prosperous. Accept whatever befalls you, and in times of humiliation be patient. For gold is tested in the fire, and those found acceptable, in the furnace of humiliation. Trust in him, and he will help you; make your ways straight, and hope in him. ” – Ecclesiasticus

Our cultural icons

I was amazed and I-don’t-know-what on Sunday and Monday when the cover story for two of New York’s primary newspapers (tabloids that they tend to be, but still…) featured Britney Spears and her hair-cutting escapade. The newspapers said she was near an emotional breakdown.
I wonder what goes through the minds of the editors of these two newspapers – money, I suspect. To think, Britney Spears carries more weight than everything else going on in this city, this state, this country, and this world. What does this say about us?
I heard it said somewhere that historically when a culture began to be more concerned with entertaining itself and looking for constant distraction, well, that was the beginning of the end for that culture.
Britney has been elevated by – whom? – someone, some group, to be more important than the devastation of war, the horrid conditions that most of the world’s children live in every day, the corruption of government and business, the new baby surviving against all odds, and so on.
This reminds me of the tragic death of Anna Nicole Smith. Diana Butler Bass wrote an outstanding short essay entitled, Paying Respects to Anna Nicole Smith on Jim Willis and friend’s section of Beliefnet called, “God’s Politics.” Read it! . Really, go right now and read it this day before Lent! (See, you even have a really long link so you can’t miss it…)

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