the worst of us

Kendall Harmon posted excerpts from an article in the Belfast Telegraph concerning Archbishop Eames and the Windsor Report (from the Lambeth Commission).
I read some of the comments to Kendall’s posting, and present two of them to show the vastly different opinions held by many of us. The second comment, I think, speaks to the worst of us.
Comment #1 –

Overall good article. But Mr. Jensen, like others before him has missed the fact that the issue of “homosexualtiy” has been settled by resolution I.10 of Lamberth 1998 (that item was mentioned in the initial charge to the Commission, by the bye). Hence, theere was no need for +Eames and company to even deal with it.
Yes, I am afraid that most of us citizens of the US can be, and have been, “arrogant” when it comes to our many blessings. Perhaps for Episcopalians this might be a good lesson in the virtues of humility. I can speak only for myself, but I have learned much about that (with much more to learn, as I am sure someone might point out!).
Looking back at 15 months of intense verbiage, both pro and con, I can see where there was an issue of arrogance on both sides of the issue and a real lack of Christian Charity also. I confess that Z have been guilty of such lacks. But this is what we get when we treat the things of God as a matter of political action and maneuvering rather than matters calling for prayer, reflection, confession and meditiation before acting.
MondayÂ’s posting of the Windsor report (another name to keep up with!!) will tell us much about the direction that the Anglican Communion might be headed in. It will definitely be a time calling for sober reflection.
At the risk of sounding “arrogant” myself, might I suggest quite a few moments of silence occur before we all start “speaking” our view of what this report does or does not accomplish?
Veni Creator Spiritus!
Comment by (I removed the name) — 10/16/2004 @ 10:59 am

Comment #2 –

I am tired of all the “we-speak” with such comments “yes, weÂ’ve all been arrogant.” “I can see where there has been an issue of arrogance on both sides.” Speak for yourself Mr. Lewis; if you have been arrogant with regards to your many blessing, confess that and repent. “Perhaps for Episcopalians this might be a good lesson in the virtues of humility.” Translation: “everyoneÂ’s faith and practice must meet my standards.” Stop it! There is one God, the Lord. Obey Him according His Word revealed in scripture. Homosexuality is sin. Homosexuals have no place in the living Body of Christ and therefore should have no place in the visible church. Forget about man-made “higher standards” by modern day pharisees that make “arrogance” a greater sin than homosexuality. “Arrogance” is the religious version of Political Correctness. Arrogance is everything that is not tolerant, not diverse, not a “new work of God”. You want humility? HereÂ’s humility. Let God be the Judge and by God pray for mercy!
Comment by (I removed the name) — 10/16/2004 @ 11:40 am

Comment #2 comes from what I honestly believe is a dangerous form of fundamentalist, whether Anglican or American. I still wonder how this person, and the Church in general, can honestly say that now, today, in the first part of the 21st century, that the Church has it all together and knows all things, when for the past 2,000 years our history is full of getting things wrong. Arrogance? you better believe it!

what do I do

This is a very personal post. The Lambeth Commission issues its findings day-after-tomorrow, at 7:00 am Eastern Time. I have no idea what the report will suggest, but angst and worry are ever present. Not so much the kind that ties my stomach into knots, because I have learned that one hour of that kind of worry does not add anything to my life and wellbeing. All I can do is place my trust in my Lord and go forward, nevertheless, my gut still says that during the final moments I will not be ordained – and it speaks a bit louder now.
Of course, I am up writing this on a Saturday morning at 4:00 am, listening to the people going home after a night in the clubs (the seminary is surrounded by a few very large dance clubs and on Saturday and Sunday mornings around this time, the streets become very loud). Revilers are heading home. They will spend all night in clubs, but the Church no longer presents to them – anything. Anyway, here I am at 4:00 am writing about my angst before the report is issued.
I have been reluctant about this whole priest thing from the beginning. I was very up front with my Discernment Committee, my Vestry, my bishops, the Commission on Ministry, the Standing Committee, the Canon to the Ordinary, my psychological evaluator, and everyone I knew, that I really had no desire to be a priest. I began the discernment process because several priests in my diocese kept after me to consider seminary and the priesthood.
I knew very well that ordination was not something I desired while working in the Assemblies of God. Everyone told me I should be ordained. After all, I was doing pastoral work. I was burned by one church organization, and I had no desire for a repeat performance.
As I talked with close friends about all this, they agreed and affirmed my being a priest, being a pastor, doing that kind of work. After all, I lit up and become very passionate when I talked about my faith, God, the Church, and all the ramifications of such things. A few cautioned me, wondering whether I might be running away from life, or something else. They were generally lapsed Roman Catholics who saw too much of that kind of thing in their own priests. My former boss, Dean/V.P for Undergraduate Studies at Kent State where I worked for 9 years before seminary, of whom I have the greatest respect, wrote a fine recommendation for me, but said he thought it a great waste of my talents and abilities to go into the priesthood or church work.
One day at Kent while I was talking to a vivacious graduate student, I suddenly realized that my interest in her, at a base level, was not her academic education or even the realization of her goals (in good Student Development fashion), but it was her soul. It was a sudden and unexpected realization. One Sunday morning while the priests were getting the elements ready on the altar, as the choir sang, sitting in a pew watching, thinking, feeling the warmth of the sunlight streaming through the large, clear windows, I was struck by the feeling and the thought – “I can do that!”
The priestly conspiracy to get me off to seminary reached its apex when the bishop offered me a job at the diocesan office as a means to discerning whether church work and/or the priesthood might be the direction my life should go. It was a very good job, but I turned it down because after much prayer and discernment I felt it just wasnÂ’t the right time. Finally, I relented and agreed to go through the yearlong discernment process. I figured that if it is supposed to be about discernment, then it could only help me decide whether there might be something to all this encouragement.
I passed with flying colors and everyone, everyone, said that the Church really needs someone like me right now. After a year of discernment, prayer, and the prodding of lots of people, it seemed that I would be off to seminary, but it just did not feel right. I told my bishop I needed to wait another year, and he graciously consented – “Just let me know when you are ready and I will declare you a Postulant. I want you to write me Ember Day letters this coming year so I know what you are thinking.”
The process, from beginning to seminary, took four years. In the end, I went to seminary because I felt here was where God wanted me, not just because everyone kept saying I should. I am a reluctant Candidate for Holy Orders!
Then, the day before classes began, I met someone. The previous three years were very difficult, as were other periods in my life. I know what being single is like. I know what loneliness is, even though I had strong friendships, loved the people I worked with, etc. There is a fundamental difference in very close and good friends and someone with whom one can love and be loved. I have not been given the gift of singleness, even as Paul encourages us to live without encumbrances in singleness.
So, I was excited to start seminary, to be in New York, to begin this new chapter of my life. The last thing on my mind was getting into a relationship, despite what I just wrote above. Yet, this person appeared. We have been dating for two years now. Our relationship isnÂ’t as he would like it to be – I just donÂ’t have a lot of time. I told him from the beginning that I am here for a purpose and that he must understand that God always will be a first priority for me as a priest. I still don’t know whether he knows what he has gotten himself into, but I am so blessed.
Now, after six years of discernment, education, trial and tribulation, great joy, and Gene Robinson, it is quite difficult for gay people in relationships to find a “Cure,” a priestly position. What do I do if there is an agreement among the bishops of the Anglican Communion to stop all together, or hold off on ordaining gay people who are in relationships?
In eight months, I am to be ordained a transitional deacon, Lord willing. Many say that the Lord certainly is not willing. That is their opinion, but I stand before my God and am accountable to God alone.
What do I do, though, if such a recommendation, and then decision, comes down? What would happen if the Church told all aspirants that they could no longer have sexual relations with their wives or husbands? It wouldnÂ’t fly. Do I ask my partner to live in a relationship without sexual relations? That is a mighty tall request.
I may be confronted with making a profoundly unfair, unjust, and in my opinion unfounded, decision of ending a relationship, entering back into a loneliness that will only be compounded because of a profession known for loneliness, because the majority considers my relationship a profound sin and abomination. Or, do I forgo my ordination to the priesthood, my calling, for the sake of a relationship?
Despite what anti-gay forces propagate as GodÂ’s will, I do not find in Scripture GodÂ’s forbidding of same-sex relationships that are mutual, adult, loving, and monogamous. Scripture says nothing of such relationships. Our culture and society, throughout history, have certainly condemned such relationships, until more recently as attitudes change. Most in the Church cannot handle such change right now. It will, of course, in the same way that it changed with society to support inter-racial marriage, equality for minorities and woman, etc.
What do I do until that time? What do I do if they say, “ordination or relationship, you cannot have both!” I know my only recourse is my Father in Heavan.


An interesting article from The Independent, a British newspaper, on one Brit’s attempt at assessing current American culture through Broadway musicals.
Here is a few paragraphs about the musical, Wicked.

“It’s a strangely infectious way of looking at the United States. I decided to check out the politics of Broadway’s current box-office breakers – and I learnt more about post-September 11 America than in a thousand yellowing copies of The New York Times.
First stop Wicked, the bizarre political fable that has sold out the massive Gershwin Theatre until the summer of 2005. It’s a prequel to The Wizard of Oz – a reinterpretation for everybody who instinctively despised that self-righteous little bitch Dorothy, a retelling for all those kids who sided with the lonely, bitter, brilliant Wicked Witch of the West.
Wicked begins where Wizard ends. The Wicked Witch Elphaba has been melted into a pool of green gunk by the Kansas crusader; Dorothy has returned to the black-and-white banality of home. “Isn’t it nice to know that good really does conquer evil?” witters Glinda – the Good Witch of the North – with a dim-witted twinkle. The Ozian masses dance around their new queen, congratulating themselves on living in “the most wonderful place on earth”.
But something is wrong. “Is it true you knew the Witch when you were young?” somebody yells from the crowd. Glinda’s beaming smile droops – and in flashback we begin to learn how these women became polarised witches pining for each others’ deaths. It turns out that it’s not easy to be a girl with luminescent green skin in Oz. Elphaba repulsed her own parents, and she had been shunned by the other kids. She was only sent to school at all by her pompous father, the Governor of Munchkinland, to look after her paralysed, idealised sister Nessa Rose.
As she waded through the insults and bullies, Elphaba gradually realised that Oz was not the Paradise its citizens endlessly, brainlessly chant about. The talking animals who performed all the tough, tedious jobs in Oz were being increasingly blamed for everything that went wrong, from the Great Drought to vague “subversive activities” known only to the Wizard. The ordinary residents of Oz reassured themselves by deferring to the Wizard and muttering: “No, no, it couldn’t happen here. Not in Oz.”
Oz is not, the audience slowly realises, the Munchkin-filled land of magic that Dorothy imagined; it is a Technicolor tyranny. The dictatorial Wizard tried to co-opt Elphaba – and her magical powers – into his police state. “The way to bring people together is to give them a really terrible enemy,” he told her. Elphaba rebelled – and became the perfect propaganda foe, an Emanuel Goldstein for the Yellow Brick Road. The Wizard falsely accused Elphaba of having elaborate weapons and evil intentions – but far from being “wicked”, the late Witch was a freedom fighter trying to rescue the people of Oz. Confronted with his crimes, the Wizard insists: “[You can call me] a traitor or liberator/ Is one a crusader or ruthless invader?/ It’s all in which label is able to persist.”
Wicked is not perfect. Stephen Schwartz’s score doesn’t match the brilliance of the concept (“Defying Gravity” is the only really hummable tune), and the script is a weak adaptation of Gregory Maguire’s 1995 novel. But this is a show that is connecting with American audiences today, and it’s not hard to see why.
If South Pacific was a musical for an America finally confronting its racism, Wicked is a musical for a frightened, confused, suspicious America that can no longer believe its leaders. Is the grand Wizard in the White House lying to us? Is black, white and green good? Whatever you think the answers are, it is revealing that this is the Great White Way’s sell-out success of 2004.
Americans can, it seems, bear to hear subversive messages so long as they are told to them by cartoon characters, storybook witches or puppets. Isn’t the most politically subversive show on American TV The Simpsons? (Compare it to the saccharine propaganda of The West Wing.) This is the lesson not only of Springfield and Wicked, but also of the show that collected an Aladdin’s Cave of awards at the Tonys this year: Avenue Q, playing at the John Golden Theatre.”

This is just sad, even depressing

Evangelicals call Williams a prostitute
Stephen Bates, religious affairs correspondent
Wednesday October 13, 2004
The Guardian
Conservative evangelicals flexed their muscles yesterday by denouncing the Church of England and its leader, the Most Rev Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, as sinful and corrupt, and threatening to refuse to recognise the authority of liberal bishops.
They warned that they might seek the ecclesiastical oversight of more theologically congenial bishops from the developing world if the church did not offer them the chance to align with bishops of their own stamp in England.
The complaints came in the run-up to next week’s publication of an international
commission reviewing the structure of the Anglican communion in the wake of the gay bishops dispute.
Supporters of the evangelical pressure group Reform, meeting at their conference in Derbyshire, overwhelmingly supported its plans to start disengaging from liberal bishops and refusing to pay funds to their dioceses, to indicate their disapproval of what they see as the church’s slide into acceptance of sexual immorality.
Dr Williams was denounced as a theological prostitute by the Very Rev Phillip Jensen, the controversial Anglican dean of Sydney, addressing the 200 clergy and lay members attending the conference.
He and his brother Peter, Archbishop of Sydney, have led the way in aggressive low church conservatism.
Dean Jensen was applauded as his sweeping denunciation of the Church of England took in the Prince of Wales – a “public adulterer”; King’s College Chapel in Cambridge, attacked as a “temple to paganism” for selling the records and compact discs of its famous choir in the ante-chapel; and women priests because, “as soon as you accept women’s ordination everything else in the denomination declines”.
But the dean reserved his strictest condemnation for Dr Williams, because he holds liberal private views about homosexual relationships, even though he has struggled to uphold the church’s unity by maintaining its traditional opposition to ordained gays.
“That’s no good. That’s total prostitution of the Christian ministry,” the dean declared, to applause and cries of “Amen”.
“He should resign. That’s theological and intellectual prostitution. He is taking his
salary under false pretences.”
Reform is developing links with the Anglican church in the developing world in readiness for the outcome of the report of the commission headed by Archbishop Robin Eames, set up a year ago in response to the decision by the US Episcopal church to ordain its first openly gay bishop, Gene Robinson, to lead the diocese of New Hampshire.
Bishop Robinson was elected by parishioners in the state, even though he was known to be living with his partner, in defiance of traditional church practice.
Evangelicals now want the commission to discipline the US church, or at least those of its bishops who supported Bishop Robinson’s appointment, until they repent, though there is at present no mechanism for the worldwide church to do so.
In England the first targets of conservative evangelicals are likely to include the eight diocesan bishops who publicly supported the appointment of the celibate gay cleric Jeffrey John to the suffragan bishopric of Reading last year.
Dr John was later forced to give up the appointment, because of evangelical protests, but he has subsequently been made Dean of St Albans.
Reform members are already beginning to demand answers from their diocesan bishops about where they stand on the gay issue before deciding whether to continue to support them.
But some at the conference believed that shunning bishops was not going far enough. Ian Seymour, a churchwarden in Arborfield, Berkshire, said: “The Church of England is over, its days are numbered.
“If our rector was an adulterer, a drunk or a liar, he would be removed, but if he was in a same sex relationship he would be cherished.
“The institution is sinking – new groupings will emerge.”


The “Anglican Communion Network Thank Tank” has been issuing different series of questions to the Presiding Bishop intended to narrowly define the parameters of the debates going on within Epsicopalianism and Anglicanism around the world. Below is a second list (which I want to respond to at some point in the near future, once course work slows down a bit – ha-ha), followed by a response by the Salty Vicar, who proposed what he considers more appropriate questions for the Presiding Bishop. Five more days until the Lambeth Report is issued.
Here are the “Thank Tank’s” questions (don’t you just love leading questions?):

1. Do you not agree that the primary basis of Anglican theology is the
teaching of Holy Scripture and that half a century of reappraising
scholarship has failed to overthrow the classical view that scripture
consistently views homosexual activity as sinful?
2. Do you not also agree that Anglican theology has historically always
taken seriously the witness of the Christian tradition as a guide to its
reading of Scripture and that reappraising scholarship has likewise failed
to overthrow the view that this tradition has also consistently viewed
homosexual activity as sinful?
3. Is it not also the case that there is no agreement about the cause(s) of
homosexuality and that even if there was this would not of itself mean that
homosexuality was morally acceptable?
4. In the light of the above what reason does ECUSA have for changing its
traditional stance on sexual morality? Given the widespread evidence that
exists about the harmful social and medical effects of homosexual practice,
and given that Scripture warns that those engage in homosexual practice and
who do not repent will be excluded from the kingdom of God, is not ECUSA
encouraging people to live in a manner that will harm them in this life and
cut them off from God in the next?
5. Is it consistent for ECUSA to say that it wants to be part of the
Anglican Communion and yet to take no notice of the Communion when what it
wants to do is called into question?
6. Can the consecration of Gene Robinson be seen as the consecration of a
Catholic bishop given that consent from other bishops is an integral part of
such a consecration and that the Primates Meeting had made it clear that
such consent would be lacking from a large part of the Anglican Communion?
Was this consecration not in fact an un-Catholic act and as such invalid?
-The Anglican Communion Network Think Tank

Now, here is the Salty Vicar’s response:

Here are some better questions to ask Frank, that don’t set him up.
1. What are the sources of your understanding of homosexuality? If possible, describe how they accurately represent, complement or differ from the Christian witness.
2. Please explain the method(s) you use to understand the Christian witness: how do you choose what texts you use to interpret an event in your life? When does a preacher misrepresent the Gospel? Under what criteria would you best judge your mistakes?
3. How do you see ethics generally differing from or similar to “Christian” ethics?
4. Explain the legitimate limits a Christian demands of sexual behavior. How do you justify those boundaries? How is the scriptural witness similar and/or different to your understanding? If different, upon what basis do you disagree with scripture? How do you justify this?
5. How does the church establish who is included in the Kingdom? Is it merely baptism or the taking of the eucharist? What are the fundamental criteria for discerning the difference between false and gospel teaching? How do you interpret scripture so that the written Word does not apparently contradict the Word?
5. How would you limit communion with another church? When is it justifiable to demand repentance from another church? How would this be enforced?
6. When might catholicism contradict or affirm republican or democratic polity?
These are real questions.

More stuff

Concerning homosexual behavior, a simple reading of scripture reveals this: an attempted gang rape of the two angels by heterosexual men in Sodom (Gen. 19); the Levitical code prohibition for the Jewish nation (Lev. 18: 22; 20: 13); heterosexual men who because of their idolatry and lust committed homosexual acts contrary to their nature. I do not accept Gagnonç—´ interpretation of Noah and Ham (I think it is these two!?), which postulates Ham homosexual raped his father. Even if that were true, we would have a heterosexual male involved in an incestuous rape.
What scripture condemns is heterosexuals engaged in homosexual acts � whether gang rape, or mutually agreed upon acts between heterosexuals. Likewise, scripture presents the boundaries within which sex is to be engaged, whether by heterosexuals or homosexuals, in my humble opinion.
I知 not trying to find loopholes, and I am not trying to force Scripture to say anything other than what it actually says and presents � honest exegetical investigation and hermeneutical application to current situations.
What does scripture _actually_ say? A whole lot about heterosexual relationships, but even when it talks specifically about marriage, the type of marriage it speaks of is not generally what we conceive of marriage in 21st century America. It speaks of abusive homosexual sex acts, understood then to be engaged in by heterosexuals. It speaks of heterosexuals giving up their heterosexual nature and engaging in homosexual sex. If we can resist reading into Scripture and making is support our particular wants or views, we can get down to what it actually means and what it actually says for us today.
Furthermore, science has not proven one way or another what causes people to be heterosexual or homosexual. What scientific research has shown is that for whatever definitive reason, the homosexual orientation is something that is not controlled by the individual. It is something that happens so early in life, if not during the earliest stages of fetal development, that the individual is not responsible in any way for the orientation � again, whether heterosexual or homosexual. Behavior is under our domain of control, orientation is not. The orientation, whether heterosexual or homosexual, is not changeable. To demand homosexuals live celibate lives is contrary to Paul痴 admonition that if one cannot abide in celibacy, then one should be married. How this is worked out in the lives of homosexuals is still undetermined, but is what much of this debate is all about.
In my opinion, Scripture does not oppose same-gender, mutual, loving, life-long relationships � it is within the permissive will of God, not declared forbidden by Scripture. If the whole institutions of marriage and family will be destroyed by a small minority of people having legal recognition of their same-sex relationships, then the institutions of marriage and family are not a very stable, strong, and viable institutions to begin with. How little faith in heterosexual marriage and families people must have to think that homosexual relationships can destroy something God has instituted. How little faith in God, and how much faith in the ability of Satan to destroy that which God has institute, is implied in all this rancor.

English Clergy survey

I came across this survey of English priests in the News Telegraph, from Britian. The following excerpt came from an article entitled: Clergy vote Rowan Williams as ‘one of the least effective’ modern archbishops by Chris Hastings, Elizabeth Day and Gary Anderson (Filed: 12/09/2004).

“The poor showing for Dr Williams may reflect the fact that he is a relative newcomer to the post and also the continuing unease among some clergy about the way he has handled the issue of homosexual ordination.
“Dr Williams was more successful in a question on the most inspirational living Christian, finishing second – but ahead of the Pope and Nelson Mandela. However, he received only half the votes of Desmond Tutu, the Nobel prize winning anti-apartheid campaigner, who took 25 per cent of the vote.
“The most treasured Biblical passage named by the 205 clergy who participated in the poll was John, Chapter 1: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the word was God.” The Gospel of St John was the most popular book in the Bible, amassing 53 votes.
“Psalm 139 which begins “O Lord, thou has searched me, and known me”, was voted the favourite psalm. The leading parable was that of the prodigal son, which won 44 per cent of the vote.
“When asked to vote for their favourite hymn, the clergy, perhaps surprisingly, chose a contemporary offering, Here I am Lord – which was written in 1981 by Daniel Schutte – ahead of traditional favourites such as Amazing Grace and Jerusalem.
“St Peter, who was described by one voter as “a bad ‘un made good” for his denial of Christ and subsequent repentance, was chosen as the favourite saint ahead of St Francis of Assisi and St Paul. The deadliest of the seven sins was pride, which was considered to be the root of most evil.”

Archbishop Akinola of Nigeria

Today, I skipped my Ascetical Theology class and went, with four fellow seminarians, to hear Archbishop Akinola, Primate of the Church of Nigeria, and primary instigator of the reactionary elements within the Anglican Communion over the consecration of Gene Robinson, Bishop of New Hampshire.
I wanted to hear from the man himself what he was thinking and doing concerning all the controversies. I came away greatly saddened, because I realized that there will be no reconciliation between him and the American Church. He is a Christian, and we are not, if we accept homosexuals.
The meeting was held at St. George’s Church of the Parish of Calvary/St. George. The Rev. Pike, Rector, introduced Akinola in glowing terms. There were about 40 people present.
Akinola is establishing a worldwide church under himself as Primate and Metropolitan. His church in America will be very small, but that is not stopping him.

A bit of history

This was posted on the House of Bishops/Deputies listserv. It kind of puts things into perspective – there is nothing new under the sun. I love the last line!

A letter dated April, 1871 — Huntington, England. It helps to imagine similar conversations 133 years from now.
“Lizzie Swain is about being married to a young Wesleyan Minister Joseph who is a native of St. Albans and young Ted Potts at Leighton is going into the Wesleyan Ministry. He has passed his examination at the Quarterly meeting and will have to pass a more searching one at the District Meeting in May but I believe he will pass as he has got some stuff in him. Methodism may last his time tho’ I doubt it will last much longer. It is too rigid and unelastic to be permanent. The Church Government is too much in the hands of the clergy and the Theology is too fixed to bear the strain of the inevitable tendency of modern thought. Our Church of England is the same. No church with rigidly defined articles will be able to stand the violent theological upheaving which has set in and which will assuredly go on. Our Church of England is already rent into sections by it and will soon split up into 3 if not more divisions. The High Church or Ritualists, The Low Church or Evangelicals and the Broad Church or Comprehnsionists or as they are humoursously styled The Attitudinarians The Latitudinarians and The Platitudinarians.”

It was Kerry

About 20 of us gathered in our apartment last night to watch the debate. Most were politically liberal and supported Kerry. One was a conservative and supported Bush. A few others were more moderate and wanted to see what went down.
I think it is undeniable that Kerry won the debate. Bush came off quite bad, I think. The man just does not instill confidence in me.