I just love Christians, don’t you know

I’ve been having another debate on Titusonenine. It all started with comments made by the Archbishop of Canterbury about the Church needing to be a safe place of gay people.
Here is the link to the whole thread.
Here is what I final wrote to a sarcastic challenge to prove what I think.

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iPod Shuffle – 4:14 pm

Out of great silence, comes tunes:
1. Kate Bush, Wow, from ‘Lionheart’
2. Howie Day, End of Our Days, from ‘Stop All the World’
3. The Benedictine Monks of Santo Dominico, Anon: Ut Queant Laxis Resonare Fibris (I think), from ‘Chant II’
4. Fleetwood Mac, Go Your Own Way, from ‘Greatest Hits’
5. Fleetwood Mac, Sara, from ‘Greatest Hits’
6. Aimee Mann, Just Like Anyone, from ‘Bachelor #2’
7. ‘Wicked, Defying Gravity, from ‘Original Cast Recording’
8. U2, With Or Without You, from ‘Joshua Tree’
9. John Coltrane, Lush Life, from ‘The Gentle Side of…’
10. Lone Justice, Shelter, from ‘Shelter’
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!

Idea originally from Fr. Jim Tucker of Dappled Things

The City #12

Here is a nice review of Into Great Silence from the Washington Post.
I was talking to some seminarians last week who went to see the movie. The movie has been held over three times now. Anyway, they said in a full theater the movie started – silence. Silence continued. And more silence. When the movie ended and as everyone filed out, suddenly someone realized as they were talking to a friend who was to see the next showing that…. wait for it…. wait for it… the theater never played the soundtrack!
The entire theater sat through the whole movie in shear and utter silence – nothing. Well, you can imagine, especially after reading the review from the Post, that the theater goers were a bit upset. They complained to the manager. They requested compensation. The manager basically said, “If all of you sat through an entire movie with no sound and didn’t tell anyone, you’re all idiots and don’t deserve a refund!”
Now, generally, I would agree. However, this movie is entitled “Into Great Silence” and it was playing in arguably the most “art-house” theater in New York City. It is not unreasonable to think a silent movie was simply an artistic trick.
Too funny.

The same

I just returned from seeing the movie “300,” the fictionalized story of the Spartan defeat of the Persians a very long time ago. Two weeks ago, I saw “Into Great Silence,” the documentary of the life of the Carthusian monks of the Grande Chartreuse. Most people will say that there could not be a better example of two movies so profoundly different – opposite sides of a continuum between quiet serenity and brutal, brash violence. I’m just thinking…
And it is a true statement, but there is a profound similarity in these two movies of men and about men. You see, the men depicted in Into Great Silence and the men depicted in 300 have one thing in common – they all gave and continue to give their lives for something greater than themselves. They sacrifice(d) their lives for something beyond themselves. One group sacrifices for the work of God and the salvation of humanity. The other group sacrificed for freedom and for the salvation from annihilation and slavery of the people of Sparta. Regardless, they give and gave up their own lives, these men did and do. The Religious cast and the Warrior cast, represented in these two films.
What does it mean to be a man? I read again and again of the crisis in the development of boys, the depression of men, the lack of purpose, lack of direction – it is all around us. This is nothing new, but it seems to have reached destabilizing proportions over the past 30 years or so. What does it mean to be a woman?
There used to be a sense that it is a virtue to give of oneself to something beyond oneself. Women gave in the caring for their families and the rearing of children. Men gave in supporting and protecting their families and their nation. These are stereotypic roles, of course, and generalizations, yet in them we find a mechanism for the living for something or someone beyond oneself. There was purpose, direction, and security in knowing what was expected. These “old fashion” notions have fallen away, but what are we left with?
There is coming a time, and I believe we are in the beginning stages, when the true nature of men will be reasserted, but there is no longer the cultural call to and so few examples of virtuous expressions of manhood. They have been expunged for the sake of political correctness. We no longer teach boys how to be “men,” but rather to deny their maleness for androgyny. Maleness is to be engineered out of boys because it is “naturally contrary to the benefit of women’s equality.” Women should be equal.
My fear is, since men have been relieved of the oh, so terrible stereotypical role of provider and protector of families (witness how easy it is for men to relinquish any responsibility to provide for their children and families, too easy to abandon them), my fear is that what will be left are men who are completely self-absorbed and prone to irresponsible expressions of maleness through violence and banality. I fear that maleness will be reasserted in new forms of barbarism to the detriment of a good and ordered society. Do we not see this happening all over the world?
Societal changes needed to come, and they have. As Paul said, there is neither male nor female with regards to the place of each within the purview of God’s good work and will for us. The sexes are equal. Culturally, even within Christendom, this has hardly been the case, and still isn’t. We do not listen very well.
Within two generations, we have generally lost the meaning of womanhood and manhood. There has been a feminization of men and the masculinization of women. I know that there are still those who demand that the two sexes are essentially the same and there should be no distinction made between them – women can do “men’s” work and men can do “women’s” work. Yes, they can for the most part. Aren’t we liberated!
The problem is that the sexes are not the same. Most people understand this, but those with their hands on the levers of power and influence for the last few decades do not agree. They have had the upper hand. The social sciences are realizing the differences, although there are still the die-hards who will never countenance such a surrendering of the politically correct dogma. In the striving to prove that men can be womanly (their feminine side) and women can be manly (their masculine side), we have completely lost who we are as men and as women.
I don’t advocate a return to the 1950’s, but I would push for admitting that the social experiments with gender over the last 50 years have not worked to bring about a new utopia, or even to realize the equality of the sexes.
What has happened? When the women’s liberation movement got into full swing, and there needed to be such a push, what tended to develop was an internalized rejection of what had been traditionally feminine. Rather than women realizing the unique qualities of the feminine and demanding that men give those qualities their equal dew, a good many “liberated” women simply took upon themselves the worst of male characteristics. In order to be free and equal, women had to be like men. Conversely, for women to be free from male domination, men had to be brought down a notch – meaning they had to be “feminized” – the new-age sensitive kind of guy.
What are men, really, if they are not providers and protectors? It is inbred, whether through evolution or by a divine act of God. We can deny it all we want, we can try to force men to be something they are not, but they will return to what they are, eventually. And we are. The question is whether we will realize the best of what manhood really is, or whether we will realize the worst – and the best will not be realized if the push continues to deny what is essentially male. Women are the great civilizers of men, frankly, and if women reject that role as they pursue equality, then what we are left with are men who are, again, brutes and barbarians.
We need to find a new way of expressing the nature of men and the nature of women that does not deny who and what we truly are – our best qualities lived into for the betterment of society and for something other than our individual selves. There needs to be a new recognition that women can really be feminine and men can really be masculine and the qualities of the two are equally needed and should be equally esteemed. Otherwise, we are left with Parish Hiltons who return women to being sex-objects (and women who believe their self-worth comes from objectification), and men who live completely irresponsible, banal, and violent lives, and more then willing to objectify women.

Integrity

The vestry of one of the largest Episcopal churches in Colorado voted to align with the Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA), ruled by Archbishop Akinola of Nigeria, and declared that they are no longer be a part of The Episcopal Church – USA. The rector had been inhibited (not allowed to function as a priest in the diocese) by his bishop due to “financial irregularities” until all the investigations had ended. They are ongoing. With the vote to align with CANA, the priest returned to the parish because he said it was no longer an Episcopal church but a CANA church, so he is no longer subject to his “former” bishop’s authority. In an article in the Rocky Mountain News, the Rector of the parish made a few statements. I want to make a comment after the portion of the article below:
Episcopal parish secedes from Colorado diocese
By Jean Torkelson, Rocky Mountain News

March 26, 2007 As its banned rector watched, the vestry board of one of Colorado’s largest Episcopal parishes, Grace and St. Stephen’s in Colorado Springs, voted this morning to secede from the Episcopal Diocese of Colorado — and the national church, as well.
At the same time, the Rev. Don Armstrong took back control of the 2,000-member parish for the first time since being put under investigation in December by Bishop Rob O’Neill for what the diocese called “misapplied funds.”
“I am sitting in my office for the first time in three months,” Armstrong said in a telephone interview. “Now that I’m no longer a priest under Rob O’Neill’s authority I can say or do what I want.
“I’m going to publicly clear my name by refuting his accusations,” he said. Furthermore, he said, “The national church and the House of Bishops have made it clear there’s no place or tolerance for conservative, orthodox Episcopalians.” (emphasis mine)

My point is that in most dioceses under most bishops that are liberal, conservatives do have a place. Granted, they often are not paid attention to (which is a mistake in my opinion), but a place is to be had. What most diocese and bishops, whether liberal or conservative, will not provide a place for a priest or a vestry voting to seperate from the Episcopal Church or the diocese. There is a big difference!
If it becomes blatantly clear that the priest, vestry, or by parish vote (whether conservative or liberal) that they are intent on separating from the diocese and their bishop, why should they expect an equal place at the table in the diocese when the bishop has a fiduciary duty to protect the interests of the diocese and the people who choose to remain Episcopalians? So, if a priest or a vestry or even by a parish vote, there is a decision to no longer recognize the canons of The Episcopal Church, the Church period, or the authority of the bishop of the Episcopal diocese, then they have decided to no longer have a place in that diocese. In that case, why is there an expectation for a place or surprise when the bishop inhibits the priest, removes the vestry, and takes control of the Episcopal parish? In the polity of TEC, that parish is his/hers (the bishop’s) – it belongs to the diocese.
I have witnessed the prejudice and negative reactions by officials in liberal dioceses toward the conservatives within the diocese. The reactions, actions, and attitudes of these liberals are wrong (really they are not liberals, but rather anti-conservatives – true liberals do provide an honest place at the table even for those with whom they have the most disagreement). The counter-reactions of the conservatives to move towards repudiating their very church, diocese, and bishop are also wrong.
As is often said, people are free to come and go into and out of Episcopal parishes, but the church is not anything other than Episcopalian. I have much more respect for those people/parishes who according to their own conscious must leave the denomination and who do leave and form a new church, than those who repudiate their organizational structures and canons and attempt to deliberately do what they know they do not have the legal or canonical authority to do.

The City #11

After getting off the subway and walking to my coffee & pastry place before work, I saw a black car-service pull up to the curb. New York car-service cars are almost always black, Ford, and have darkened windows.
A man and a woman step out, dressed in jeans. They embrace for a good bit, kiss, and continue.
He gets back into the car and she hurries off with shoulder bags and a pony-tail. As the car slowly pulls away back into traffic, it comes up beside her.
Her head turns, oh so slightly, as she glances back to the car and her beloved within. She probably could not see within, but I suspect he turned his head, perhaps ever so slightly, to see one last time his beloved.
A romantic notion, I know. But, why not? Day-in-and-day-out, we pass through this world. We perceive and we believe. Love, real love, still abounds.

Sermon, 5th Sunday of Lent

St. Paul’s Church – Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn
The Rev. Robert Griffith
The Fifth Sunday of Lent, March 25, 2007
“I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?”
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
We find God’s people in a predicament in the context of today’s Old Testament reading from Isaiah 43. Isaiah chapters 40 – 55 take place during the middle of the sixth century B.C. The northern Jewish kingdom of Israel ceased to exist long before, and people of the southern kingdom, Judah, are languishing in the Babylonian exile. God’s chosen people that lived in the Promised Land were now aliens in a strange and pagan country, taken captive by a foreign power. In 586 B.C., the City of God, the holy city of Jerusalem, was destroyed by the Babylonians. The royal line of David came to an end, and Solomon’s glorious temple lay in ruins and ashes. The people of God were not able to practice their religion, as God had given it to be practiced. The temple, the very dwelling place of God on earth, was gone. The peoples’ rebelliousness separated them from their God.
All that they had known was no more. Nothing left. It surely must have seemed to many that their God had abandoned them. Perhaps, even, that the gods of Babylon were stronger than their own God.
As they lived in exile their children grew to know the “old country” and the “old ways” only in stories. The new generations did not know the glories of their former country, the splendor of worship in the temple, and the promises of their God in a land flowing with milk and honey. As best they could, some kept the traditions alive through the oral history and by the words of Moses and by way of the prophets.

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Blindness

Someone wrote in another blog, commenting on The Episcopal Church’s House of Bishops resolutions this past week:

“We are witnessing the decline and fall of Christianity in Western culture…”

I don’t buy this. First of all, it sounds as if the presumption is that God will not be able to cause the Church to survive in Western culture. Sure He can, and will.
We may no longer have our privileged position of state-sanction (whether explicit or implicit), but Christianity will survive and flourish. Flourish, because I think what will happen is that Christianity will become something that people participate in because they truly believe it and desire to do so, not because it is culturally expected or demanded. This will give us a much stronger Church, although the membership numbers will probably be less. It will also give us a far less culturally determined Church – less influence from both the political and social left and right.
This is God’s Church, and He will do what He will do. We are not in control of it nor can we determine its outcome. Our House of Bishops will be shown to have acted correctly or incorrectly, as will our Church and our whole Communion, in time. IN TIME. God’s time is not ours, and his timing is not our timing. Why do we so worry and think that we humans are God’s only means of defense?
An additional observation: We are blind if we think that the conservatives are any less influenced by our culture than are the liberals. We both are, and we both reflect the negative and positive aspects of the political and social positions of left and right.
To say that the conservatives or liberals are more or less influenced by our culture positivity or negatively simply shows the difference of what we choose to focus on. Hyper-individualism and consumerism of the right, or political-correctness and hyper-inclusion of the left.

The proverbial you-know-what

Well, the proverbial you-know-what has hit the proverbial you-know-what. The House of Bishops has issued three resolutions concerning the Anglican Communion relationships and the Primate’s Communique from Tanzania.
The First Resolution:

Mind of the House of Bishops Resolution Addressed to the Executive Council of the Episcopal Church
Resolved, the House of Bishops affirms its desire that The Episcopal Church remain a part of the councils of the Anglican Communion; and
Resolved, the meaning of the Preamble to the Constitution of The Episcopal Church is determined solely by the General Convention of The Episcopal Church; and
Resolved, the House of Bishops believes the proposed Pastoral Scheme of the Dar es Salaam Communiqué of February 19, 2007 would be injurious to The Episcopal Church and urges that the Executive Council decline to participate in it; and
Resolved, the House of Bishops pledges itself to continue to work to find ways of meeting the pastoral concerns of the Primates that are compatible with our own polity and canons.
Adopted March 20, 2007
The House of Bishops
The Episcopal Church
Spring Meeting 2007
Camp Allen Conference Center
Navasota, Texas

The Second Resolution:

To the Archbishop of Canterbury and the members of the Primates’ Standing Committee:
We, the Bishops of The Episcopal Church, meeting in Camp Allen, Navasota, Texas, March 16-21, 2007, have considered the requests directed to us by the Primates of the Anglican Communion in the Communiqué dated February 19, 2007.
Although we are unable to accept the proposed Pastoral Scheme, we declare our passionate desire to remain in full constituent membership in both the Anglican Communion and the Episcopal Church.
We believe that there is an urgent need for us to meet face to face with the Archbishop of Canterbury and members of the Primates’ Standing Committee, and we hereby request and urge that such a meeting be negotiated by the Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church and the Archbishop of Canterbury at the earliest possible opportunity.
We invite the Archbishop and members of the Primates’ Standing Committee to join us at our expense for three days of prayer and conversation regarding these important matters.
Adopted March 20, 2007
The House of Bishops
The Episcopal Church
Spring Meeting 2007
Camp Allen Conference Center
Navasota, Texas

The third resolution, and the longest, is telling. It needed to be said. Here is the link to the Episcopal News Service for the full texts of the resolutions.
A couple points from the third resolution that I find important:

Other Anglican bishops, indeed including some Primates, have violated our provincial boundaries and caused great suffering and contributed immeasurably to our difficulties in solving our problems and in attempting to communicate for ourselves with our Anglican brothers and sisters. We have been repeatedly assured that boundary violations are inappropriate under the most ancient authorities and should cease. The Lambeth Conferences of 1988 and 1998 did so. The Windsor Report did so. The Dromantine Communiqué did so. None of these assurances has been heeded. The Dar es Salaam Communiqué affirms the principle that boundary violations are impermissible, but then sets conditions for ending those violations, conditions that are simply impossible for us to meet without calling a special meeting of our General Convention.

It’s time we play fair and the expectations for adherence are the same. The side doing the violating will not stop, however. The AMiA has already stated that it will not be a part of the Primate’s scheme, which means that the Primate of Rwanda will presumably not abide by the scheme’s call to halt boundary crossings.
After detailing four reasons why the Primates’ scheme for a Primatial Vicar and Pastoral Council will not work, this statement is made:

Most important of all it is spiritually unsound. The pastoral scheme encourages one of the worst tendencies of our Western culture, which is to break relationships when we find them difficult instead of doing the hard work necessary to repair them and be instruments of reconciliation. The real cultural phenomenon that threatens the spiritual life of our people, including marriage and family life, is the ease with which we choose to break our relationships and the vows that established them rather than seek the transformative power of the Gospel in them. We cannot accept what would be injurious to this Church and could well lead to its permanent division.

I have said for a while now that what we are seeing within what was once traditional Anglican Evangelicalism is the worst of American Evangelicalism. The tactics and attitudes of the disaffected Episcopalians have mirrored our profoundly dysfunction cultural and political attitudes and actions – polarization, empire building, arrogance and pride, winner-take-all, no-compromise, character assassination, lies and misrepresentations of truth. The ends justify the means – it is so 21st Century American reaction-ism, but profoundly not Christian.
Theologically, I have a lot in common with the more conservative side of the Church. Pietistically , I’ve moved far closer to the Tradition and the Catholic side of the Church. Yet, I cannot accept the means by which the extremes of these two sides have conducted their crusade to force capitulation and the expulsion of The Episcopal Church from the Anglican Communion.
It will be very telling when the Archbishop of Canterbury decides whether to accept the House of Bishops invitation for a face-to-face meeting.

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