Size matters?

Growing up in Pentecostalism, I remember talk of the “faithful remnant” God always preserved even during the most apostate times. Of course, we liked to think we were part of the faithful remnant that God was preserving. Why? Because we loved God and desired to do His will, which meant that of course we were right and part of the remnant. Looking back, I see how the criteria for judgment were our earnestness and desire – very subjective indeed. I thought I got past all that when I came to Anglicanism. I thought wrong.
Some on the more conservative Episcopalians keep proclaiming evidence of the Episcopal Church’s error by posting drops in attendence or membership. Since when does size make right or good? Growth is certainly desirable and CAN be an indication of right and good. If we use this criteria, however, we have to admit that the Mormons, the Pentecostals, and the like are the MORE right and good than we are, conservative or liberal. Therefore, if numbers as indicators of who is doing the right thing and whose theology is more correct are this important, we need to become Mormons or Pentecostals.

“A person who never travels always praises his own mother’s cooking.”

The above quote comes from an this essay I came aross today by The Rev. Dr. Philip Turner entitled, “ECUSA’S GOD A Descriptive Comment on the ‘Working Theology’ of the Episcopal Church U.S.A.”
I think he says some things that we all need to consider. Turner suggests that a primary problem in the Episcopal Church is not so much moral, but theological.

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Taking some time to engage

Classes begin again in a week. Over the past few weeks I have taken some time, in the midst of finishing a paper on Christology, to be engaged in the debates that our Church is going through right now. I do not presume or pretend that I have anything useful or important to say, but engaging in the debate certainly helps me clarify my own understanding and sharpen my ability to verbalize what I actually believe in the midst of challenge. This is taking place primarily through Kendall Harmon’s website: titusonenine.
Here are links to the specific posts of Kendall’s that I have make comments:
Don Browning reviews Bradford Wilcoxç—´ Good Christian men: How faith shapes fathers


The Anglican Decision

I know I need to shorten what I write. I suspect that will come in time when I am not so much attempting to just get stuff out of my mind and onto “paper.”


ignite sounds like a very interesting idea. What is it? From its website: “Ignite is the Short Film Festival which brings out Big Truths through Short Films.” Australia is its home.
It seems that there is no specific theological bent that has to be adhered to, just as long as one stays within the theme and relies upon a biblical passage for inspiration. I suspect that if something like this were held in the U.S. and if sponsored by Religious Right organizations, all films would have to pass by censors for “right belief” and theological “purity.”
It would be terrible if one of the shorts came out against the war in Iraq, or supported claims of global warming, socialism, the poor, or God forbid the equal treatment under the law of gay people. I知 being cynical, of course, but I do wonder whether a film festival like this could be presented in the U.S. as purely a celebration of film and art using themes drawn from the Bible, or whether there would have to be a conservative social or an evangelistic agenda behind them all.

Reality is coming up from behind

Peter Cullen, the rector of my field placement parish, gave a sermon today. I cannot do it justice, but he talked about when he was a teenager and his mother always suggested that he go to the school dances so that maybe he might meet a wonderful girl and live happily ever after. This led him to always think that some day, maybe, sometime in the future that would all happen. He still thinks that way – in the future, maybe, someday, sometime, he will find that something that is supposed to make his life complete. Of course, it was a situation experienced way back when as a kid that set his disposition towards always thinking that in the future… in the future what is supposed to be will be, rather than seeing that right now…
He talked of how this has carried over into his spiritual life. Sometime in the future is when he is supposed to experience all this stuff of God. He waits, looks for that thing to approach him from somewhere ahead of him and say, “He I am.” He realizes, now, that it is likely to come from behind.
This infects us all, I believe. But, just maybe, maybe right now that which is supposed to be has sneaked up on us from behind and tapped us on the shoulder and said, “I’m here.” We don’t expect such things from behind, but maybe when we always strain to look ahead to realize life we continually miss it, because it is coming up behind us.
It really got me thinking, especially as one who always expected things to “work out right” sometime in the future when God would heal, or fix, or make things the way they are supposed to be. Things have rarely worked out as I expected them to. My expectations are too low and too limited.
I have always been future oriented – I always expect things to be “right” in the future – faith is things hoped for, yet not seen, right? Maybe, just maybe, God has been tapping me on the shoulder from behind saying, “Here I am.” Maybe, just maybe, I have not been able to feel the tap or see the reality of God, of God’s truth, of God’s grace and mercy, of His fulfillment. Maybe the reality of life, real life, has been beside me all along. Maybe I need to simply stop always looking forward to expectations that should be realized right now, from behind. Isn’t that just like God, to do things in a way that is unexpected so that we can realize far more than we could ever hope for or conceive of in our very limited forward looking.
Just stop. Just stop. Keep still for but a moment, and maybe I will see and know. Maybe if I can just stand still I will realize what has been with me all along. Be still, and know that I am God. Tap, tap, tap. “I am here.” Wait just a moment, please. A still small voice that is too easy to miss when I am in such a rush – a blur, a flash… what?, did I hear something?
We live in a hyperactive world moving somewhere at full force. All engines go. Just do it. What if true life, reality, is to stop and allow the rush of this world to go on without me, to be a blur, unfocused, moving towards who knows what, and I just stand still. Ah, I can hear it. Can I hear it? Peace. Joy. Freedom. Finally, maybe finally, from behind, I am enabled to love the Lord my God with my whole heart and finally, unexpectedly because it isn’t approaching from ahead of me, I can love my neighbor as myself. Maybe, finally, I can experience that life hoped for but yet unrealized because I致e been wrongly looking forward. Be still. Stop. Turn my head. There it is.

The Power and Dignity of the Priesthood

Okay, here is another piece by Father Harding from his weblog. I have to say, he has a way with words and identifying issues. I wonder if anything has really changed in ten years? I do think so, except that younger people seem to have a higher view of the priesthood.
The Power and Dignity of the Priesthood
This was published in an edition of the Sewanee Theological Review devoted to ministry. It touches on the discussion on this site about the priesthood. A Talk given at the Annual Meeting of The Society for the Increase of the Ministry at Trinity College, Hartford, Connecticut, November I, 1995, By the Rev. Leander S. Harding, Ph.D.
Copyright ゥ 1994
Much has been written about the perception of a crisis in the priesthood. The Cornerstone Project was developed by the Episcopal Church Foundation in order to help strengthen ordained leadership at a time when clergy are reporting themselves to be discouraged, confused and highly stressed. One of the most recent findings of the Cornerstone Project is that the parish priests in the project had difficulty articulating a theology of priesthood. The staff found that the priests in the project could discuss theological readings with competence but that when they spoke about their parish ministries they did not tend to speak in theological categories. I was one of a group of clergy, theologians and Cornerstone staff who attended a conference at the College of Preachers in June of 1995 to attempt to understand the meaning of this finding and to suggest a course of action. The thoughts that I am going to share with you tonight represent my contribution to that discussion.

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There are those in the Episcopal Church who have strong predisposition towards the clergy being only functionaries. It is an extream anti-clericalism that denies, in my humble opinion, what Holy Orders are meant to be within the universal, apostolic, and catholic Church.
The Rev. Dr. Leander S. Harding, rector of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Stamford, CT, recently commented on this in his weblog.
Here is an excerpt:

“The beauty of the ordination rites is about the only thing we have to save Holy Orders from becoming a mundane job. It might seem to some that the cleric as employee would be a relief from a church in which too much is made of clergy and too little of the ministry of the people. Making ordinations and services of installation more mundane, more matter-of-fact will have the consequence of also making the ministry of laity more mundane and less awesome. The trend of the last 25 years of secularizing our understanding of the clergy role has done little to make the people of God more holy or more empowered in their baptismal ministry and it has done much to reinforce the very clericalism( the priest does the ministry, the people receive and evaluate it) that is so deplored.”

Read it all on his weblog, or click below.
This piece puts into words my very thoughts on this whole subject. Click below to read the entire article, which first appeared in the National Episcopal Clergy Association newletter, by Father Harding.

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A Word to the Church

A Word to the Church
From the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church
Salt Lake City
Thursday, January 13, 2005
[Episcopal News Service]
To the faithful in Christ Jesus, greetings in the season of Epiphany. We rejoice together with you that God has “caused a new light to shine in our hearts” revealing God’s glory in the face of Jesus Christ our Lord. The sufferings of our brothers and sisters in the aftermath of tsunamis in South Asia and flooding and mud slides in California and here in Utah where we are meeting, make us long all the more for this new light revealed to us in Christ. We are mindful as well of the suffering around the world caused by global poverty, HIV/AIDS, malaria, other diseases, and war. In this suffering world we are called to “serve and signify God’s mission to the world, that mission whereby God brings to men and women, to human societies and to the whole world, real signs and foretastes of that healing love which will one day put all things to rights” (Windsor Report, paragraph 3).
We decided at our September meeting in 2004 to set aside this time so we might together begin to receive the Windsor Report with humility. We have met for a day and a half in Salt Lake City. We welcome with gratitude the work of the Lambeth Commission on Communion. We realize this is a long-term effort which will most likely extend beyond our March meeting. In the meantime, we aim to practice the more intentional consultative processes called for by the Windsor Report. We also anticipate the Executive Council of our church joining in this consultation.

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Arthur Schopenhauer

Just for the heck of it, I decided to find out more about Arthur Schopenhauer, the German philosopher who lived from 1788-1860.
“He is known for having espoused a sort of philosophical pessimism that saw life as being essentially evil and futile, but saw hope in aesthetics, sympathy for others and ascetic living.” (
Here is another quote:
We forfeit three-fourths of ourselves in order to be like other people.
Arthur Schopenhauer
Well, what about Michael Polanyi and his theories of tacit knowledge?

These are the times

“All truth passes through 3 stages: First, it is ridiculed; Second, it is violently opposed; Third, it is accepted as self-evident.” – Arthur Schopenhauer
I believe we are now in the “violently opposed” period of the universal Church’s change in belief of Truth concerning homosexual people and their inclusion in the Church and God’s purview, let alone in the full life of society.
Today is the final day of the brief but very important meeting of the Episcopal Church’s House of Bishops in Salt Lake City. The bishops are meeting to deal with the Windsor Report issued last October by the Lambeth Commission on Communion. The Anglican Communion, and elements of the Episcopal Church, are up-in-arms after the 2003 General Convention’s consenting to the ordination of the first openly-gay bishop (Gene Robinson of the Diocese of New Hampshire) and its acknowledgement that the blessing of same-sex unions is taking place within Episcopal Church congregations. For most who oppose the above actions, they also oppose the ordination of gay clergy (deacons, priests, and bishops), period.

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