Mystery vs. Banality

This article from the Church of England Newspaper.
Dr Hope reiterates warning on banality
Number: 5719 Date: May 27, 2004
“The Archbishop of York has accused the Church of offering entertainment and distraction rather than mystery in its worship.
“Warning the Church of overdoing debate, the Most Rev Dr David Hope also said that in some of its debates the Christian community seems to have lost the ‘kindness, gentleness, forbearance and long sufferingÂ…’ which he said characterised the earliest Christian communities….
“He said it is ‘ironic’ that the Church seems to have ‘abandoned the mysterious in favour of the banal’ just as the genre of Harry Potter/Lord of the Rings films and literature is captivating young and old.”

Amen! I couldn’t agree more with this Bishop. The last paragraph is of utmost importance when considering effective ministry and outreach to younger generations.
During a recent meeting of the Board of Trustees of The General Theological Seminary, of which I am a student representative, another student rep. and I were giving an update of student concerns and experience for the Education and Formation Commission. There was a comment made about the worship experience at General, and a bishop member was incredulous that Rite I Evening Prayer was still being used. “No one gets anything out of Rite I any longer and it is useless,” or something like that was his comment. I commented that younger people seemed to like the language of Rite I and that studies suggest they are seeking the ancient and mysterious, rather than the trendy and banal. Anglicanism provides well for both of these desires, but many children of the 60’s (most of our leaders) are still attempting to be “modern” and “relevant,” which means they want to jettison much of the tradition and high-church liturgy – the ancient and the mysterious. This is fine for some, but they are determined to continue “remaking the world in their image” when the needs and desires of “the world” have changed and passed them by.
Bishop Hope, I believe, is correct. Read the rest of the article by clicking the below link.

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Grace and Holiness

I realize without doubt that I am in great need of God’s grace! There is no hope in me without grace and mercy. The Law has revealed that we are incapable of measuring up to God’s standard of holiness and “rightness.” My life reveals the same thing.
It can be easy to extend this understanding of our inability to do anything to warrant God’s favor to making excuses then for my failure and my turning away from longing for and striving for holiness. Simply because I cannot does not mean I do not put myself in the position to. Not by my own effort, but by allowing the Holy Spirit to do His work I am able to move forward to the prize for which I (and we) have been called by God to realize. The Spirit calls, I respond. I, of course, have to make the effort and then it is the Spirit of God that enables me to arrive at the goal. Even when I am not able to make the effort, the Comforter is there to aid and to encourage and to forgive when needed.
What is the goal? To love God with all my heart, for in this my being will desire not that which satisfies my old nature, but that which builds up my new nature. To love my neighbor as my self, for here I find my own expression of God’s love and the embodiment of the image of God within me. I am to put my hands to the plow and not look back so that I (and we) may move into the Way of God. In this is life to the full.

C.S. Lewis

“Of all tyrannies a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience …. To be ‘cured’ against one’s will and cured of states which we may not regard as disease is to be put on a level with those who have not yet reached the age of reason … You start being ‘kind’ to people before you have considered their rights, and then force upon them supposed kindnesses which they in fact had a right to refuse, and finally kindnesses which no one but you will recognize as kindnesses and which the recipient will feel as abominable cruelties.” –
– C.S. Lewis

Institute on Religion and Democracy

An interesting article from the NY Times:
Conservative Group Amplifies Voice of Protestant Orthodoxy
May 22, 2004
As Presbyterians prepare to gather for their General
Assembly in Richmond, Va., next month, a band of determined
conservatives is advancing a plan to split the church along
liberal and orthodox lines. Another divorce proposal shook
the United Methodist convention in Pittsburgh earlier this
month, while conservative Episcopalians have already broken
away to form a dissident network of their own.
In each denomination, the flashpoint is homosexuality, but
there is another common denominator as well. In each case,
the Institute on Religion and Democracy, a small
organization based in Washington, has helped incubate
traditionalist insurrections against the liberal politics
of the denomination’s leaders.
With financing from a handful of conservative donors,
including the Scaife family foundations, the Bradley and
Olin Foundations and Howard and Roberta Ahmanson’s
Fieldstead and Company, the 23-year-old Institute is now
playing a pivotal role in the biggest battle over the
future of American Protestantism since churches split over
slavery at the time of the Civil War.

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Truth and Grace

Focus on the Family’s Mike Haley has written a new book on homosexuality: ‘101 Frequently Asked Questions About Homosexuality.’
There is a question posed to Haley by the interviewer Trish Amason, assistant editor of Citizen Link.

Q: There are so many ways that the church has tried to respond to the homosexual. From total acceptance of their lifestyle, to complete judgment. Why do you think the church has such a tough time responding to homosexuality from a right perspective?
A: The two things that constantly need to be kept in balance in dealing with homosexuality are truth and grace.
What I mean by that is, if you get a church that is extreme in truth then what they are going to do is they are going to become a legalistic church, they are going to forget the grace component of it. But if you get a church that is so geared and off base when it comes to grace, they get sloppy and they get permissive in that grace.
But when you balance grace and truth and you remember that homosexuality is indeed against God’s original intent, it’s sin, but you balance grace with that — that Jesus died on the cross as much for that person who struggles with homosexuality as He did for whatever your sin is — if we balance those two, then I think the church will stay very solid.

I agree with this statement, to a degree! I take issue with his position against homosexuality because it is against God’s original intent. Is it? Yes, but so is heterosexuality against God’s original intent as we experience it in this fallen world. We will never be holy as God is holy. That is what grace is all about – despite the fact that we will never be as God intended, we are still brought into relationship with God through Jesus Christ. We live in a fallen world where we have to understand that life lived will never be as God intends, so what then?

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Marriage and Civil Rights

This from CitizenLink Update from Focus on the Family.

“***In Congress, yesterday, Rep. Marilyn Musgrave, R-Colo., testified about the need for a constitutional amendment to protect marriage.
“Gays are not excluded from the benefits of marriage by others,” Musgrave said, “they are excluded by their own choices. Marriage is and — for the entire history of mankind — has always been, a relationship between persons of the opposite sex, and the primary function of marriage has always been to provide a legal context for procreation and child rearing by fathers and mothers.”

Can we say, “Blame the victim?” I do not accept the “victim” label, but Musgrave has simply gone too far. We do not enjoy the commonly held benefits of marriage because we choose not to. Never mind the examples of men and women marrying an opposite gender spouse due to social or religious pressure when they know the marriage is a sham. Never mind the pain and confusion straight spouses goes through because they cannot understand the lack of passion, or the depression, or the distance of their spouses who hide or attempt to deny the fact that they are gay. Never mind the broken families that result from when spouses hiding their homosexuality simply cannot go on with the charade any longer, often because of the love and respect they have for their straight spouses. Never mind the tremendous guilt gay spouses endure when they know they cannot love their wives or husbands in the way they desire and deserve. Never mind the gay spouses profound disappointed and disillusionment when the promise of the ex-gay movement and the Religious Right that God will turn them into heterosexuals if they just make the right steps in faith so that God will honor their faith and make them into heterosexuals. Never mind all that, because now they can enjoy the benefits of marriage just like the heterosexuals! Being a homosexual is not a choice. Engaging in sex is, but simply engaging in heterosexual sex does not make anyone a heterosexual, and visa-versa.
I am so disappointed to hear Musgrave make such an idiotic statement, such an ignorant statement, such a calloused statement. Regardless of whether you agree with gay peopleÂ’s longing to be married or not, to say homosexuals can enjoy all the benefits of marriage simply with a choice to act like a heterosexual without regard to the feelings and wellbeing of their supposed marriage partner is irresponsible! For gay people to heed her call to take straight men or women as their spouses would only add another nail in the already fragile state of good marriages. If you want to save the institution of marriage, do not demand that gay people marry straight people so that they can enjoy the benefits of life-long, monogamous, and mutually loving relationships with all the civil benefits accorded straight people.


Now that my Internet connection has been restored and final exams are over…
I went out for Sushi with Kendal and Mindy and Nick tonight. On the way back, Kendal and Mindy ask me to be their yet-to-be-born son’s Godfather. I’m very honored, but conflicted. They will be in Oregon next year, and I have no idea where I will be. Isn’t it more ideal to have a Godparent close by?
I would truly love to be his Godfather. I’m not sure of what will be best for him.

Constitutional Amendments & the Founding Fathers

This is a quote from Focus on the Family’s CitizenUpdate:

“Constitutions should consist only of general provisions;
the reason is that they must necessarily be permanent, and
that they cannot calculate for the possible change of
–Alexander Hamilton

Wouldn’t this negate the proposed Constitutional amendment on gay-marriage? Was there lesson learned with the Prohibition amendments?

Tony Blair

The Atlantic Monthly magazine’s lead article for May is entitled, “The Tragedy of Tony Blair: Spin, Scandal, and the Fearful ‘Yes’ to a War He could have Stopped.” The cover photo of Blair is barely recognizable
As I initially browsed through the article, I felt a strange sense of sadness. Over the years whenever I heard Blair speak, I wished my own president sounded as good.
Reading the article more intently, the following lines struck me:

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Law & Parents

“For law, in its true notion, is not so much the limitation, as the direction of a free and intelligent agent to his proper interest, and prescribes no farther than is for the general good of those under law… So that, however it may be mistaken, the end of law is not to abolish or restrain, but to preserve and enlarge freedom. For liberty is to be free from restraint and violence from others which cannot be where there is no law: but freedom is not, as we are told, ‘a liberty for every man to do what he lists.’
“The power, then, that parents have over their children, arises from that duty which is incumbent on them, to take care of their offspring during the imperfect state of childhood. To inform the mind, and govern the actions of their yet ignorant nonage, till reason shall take its place, and ease them of that trouble, is what the children want, and the parents are bound to.”
John Lock: Second Treatise on Government, Chpt. 6, paragraphs 56-57