This is a test.
So, it seems the Bush administration, at least some within the administration, are willing to admit that things are not going as planned in Iraq. Perhaps, there may be even a re-evaluation of whether our policy and strategy have been correct. Staying the course when it seems the situation is continually deteriorating is not prudent or wise.
People have been saying for years now that our strategy towards Iraq is untenable and unwinable. The voices of those who called upon the administration to step “outside the box” of “old-war” mentality of conflict between states were ignored or ridiculed. This war is being fought under an old and inappropriate model, in my uninformed opinion. In my mind, we are like the English in their attempt to defeat the revolutionaries during our war of independence. They just didn’t get the fact that their way of fighting just didnâ€™t work any longer, and they lost. Some people in this administration just don’t seem to get the fact that the way of war has now changed.
If we end up pulling out of Iraq before we reach our stated goals or if the conflict ends in a way that suggests our weakness and the American people’s unwillingness to complete what we began, legitimately or illegitimately, the impression is that we are unreliable, unstable in our commitments, and are willing to let huge numbers of people die in our wayward attempts to impose our will on the world. Okay, but what do we do now?
The American people will fight to the end and sacrifice whatever needs to be sacrificed if we believe that the conflict is for a greater good. The World Wars are good examples. We entered them reluctantly and overcome our isolationist tendencies. Vietnam and now this war in Iraq were entered into not for some greater good that will benefit not just us but the world. No, we entered into these wars upon a faulty foundation, and with a faulty and perhaps illegitimate intent, and we are witnessing the results.
Will we learn? Will there be leaders willing to move towards a solution that recognizes the complexities of the new world dynamic? I hope so. Perhaps the more important question is whether the American people will be wise enough to recognize a good leader from a poor one. Will we allow ourselves to be manipulated, again? Will we recognize wisdom? Will we realize the folly of empire? Will we recognize that there really is a solution, but it will mean that we change our way of thinking and our way of relating to much of the world? I hope so. This isnâ€™t about liberal vs. conservative. Those paradigms mean little in this day in day, frankly. It will take someone, all of us, to look beyond these ways of dicing up the world and one another.
The warning applied to the Anglican Communion and The Episcopal Church:
Galatians 5:14-15 (TNIV)
For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.
We are devouring one another. It is a travesty. The distinctive spirit of Anglicanism is under great pressure to give way to the spirit of the world, the devises and desires of men.
It’s too easy to be pulled off target. What should be the few basic things we aim for in life that will bring about an honest and true balanced life?
In a culture of consumption and a culture that demands our self-worth be defined by externals (the degree of wealth or power or physical prowess or beauty or talent or education or whatever-lifts itself-up-at-the-moment) that we can accumulate or attain, we will never make it to that point of balance if we allow ourselves to be subsumed by its demands.
To what are we called? Within the Christian faith, it is first to love God with all our being and secondly to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. Selflessness? Considering the needs of or what will benefit others before our own needs? Rejection of those things within culture that work counter to the Way of Christ? What is the “Way of Christ?”
Really, what is that “Way” – can we disassociate from our culture enough and put aside the demands of our fellow citizens who consciously or unconsciously demand our acquiescence and confirmation to the culture’s way-of-things to begin to learn, to move, to have our being within God’s economy of life?
Jesus was crucified for looking at things in such a way. His disciples where martyrs because of that way of being. What could it cost us? What will it cost to keep balance, to keep our sight on the target? I don’t know if I’m doing such a good job.
Galatians 5:1 – Freedom in Christ
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.
I’ve just about had it with the blatant lying and misinformation – bearing false witness – of leaders and organizations of the Religious Right. Focus-on-the-Family’s daily e-mail news update had a piece about the growing number of Gay Chambers of Commerce, and how they are just ploys to desensitize regular, god-fearing Americans to the perversion of gay behavior.
Here are a couple paragraphs:
Gay chambers of commerce exist in at least a half-dozen states, and in cities as large as Chicago. One, called Plexus, is forming in Cleveland â€” and organizers say Chase and KeyBank are already on board, with additional partnerships being eyed with other trade groups like the Greater Cleveland Partnership and the Council of Smaller Enterprises.
Cleveland resident Charles Giunta said such gay chambers are part of homosexual activists’ drive for special status under the law.
“That way,” he said, “they can access federal funding, state funding, local funding as a behavior-based minority.”
Linda Harvey, president of Mission America, said even though the gay community brags about its buying power, the bravado is often more myth than muscle.
“The vast majority of people involved in homosexuality are projected by many studies to be people that are employed sporadically, because of their lifestyle,” she said. “They are more unstable.”
So, Linda Harvey, who I know from Ohio and who makes the most outlandish and false statements, writes that gay people are so unstable that they can’t keep jobs. I remember so vividly the arguments used by the anti-gay Religious Right a few years ago declaring that gay people should not be given “special rights” because they make so much more money than average citizens, are far better educated than average citizens, and have much more economic influence that average citizens. They speak out of both sides of their mouths.
Linda Harvey, and Focus for disseminating her statements, are charlatans. They have to know that their pronouncements are so blatantly false. They are liars, and their sin will catch up with them. How many more people have to suffer and be deceived because of their idiocy? How much more damage will the cause of Christ undergo because of their hypocrisy and false witness. Their cause is lost if this is the way they attempt to win – they take people to be fools.
What was given to me this morning by my iPod. It is so giving and demands so little!
1. Sarah McLauchlan, Ice Cream, from ‘Fumbling Towards Ecstasy’
2. Smashing Pumpkins, Tonight, Tonight. from ‘Rotten Apples: Greatest Hits’
3. Sarah McLauchlin, Wear Your Love Like Heaven, from ‘Solace’
4. Sufjan Stevens, Romulus, from ‘Greetings from Michigan…’
5. Natalie Imbruglia, Good Bye, from ‘White Lillies Island’
6. Suzanne Vega, Songs in Red and Gray, from ‘Songs in Red and Gray’
7. Sarah Brightman, Scarborough Fair, from ‘La Luna’
8. Wilson Philips, Impulsive, from ‘Wilson Philips’
9. Joi, Everybody Say Yeah, from ‘One and One is One’
10. Eastmountainsouth, Mark’s Song, from ‘Eastmountainsouth’
Yesterday, I was riding the “F” train back to Brooklyn. Around 32nd. St., I noticed on the other end of the train another guy in a clergy collar. “Hum,” I thought, “I wonder who he is.”
Through the next couple of stops and as the congestion lightened a bit on the train, the other guy came closer. Finally, we introduced ourselves. He had on an “Anglican style” collar, so I figured him to be an Episcopalian or perhaps a Lutheran.
He asked, “Roman or Episcopalian?”
He is a Roman Catholic priest, pastor of a parish, and was just returning from the meeting with the Archbishop of this archdiocese of all clergy concerning the anonymous letter of no confidence. He said it was not a nice meeting and the archbishop made a number of enemies that day.
I don’t think I have ever seen another clergy person in a collar on the subway, other than other clerics I am with at the time. It is strange, and I was surprised to feel like, “Oh, another one of me!”
An interesting post and article on Pontifications about the use the term “Godself” as a non-gender specific variant of the the traditional pronoun “himself.” I could say, rather: the attempted enforcement of political-correctness by a small group of people who think that refering to God in the masculine encourages violence to women – or even wife-beating, so says some Church of England clergy. As the Ponficator writes, send in the folks of Monty Python – this is all getting a bit silly.
Read the article.
On the other hand, this need among some to make sure that we never refer to God in any way but the masculine is equally problematic, and in my humble opinion absurd. God, in creating us in His/Her/Godsown image, created us male and female. Doesn’t that suggest that God is both and neither exclusively?
I tend to think that we simply cannot competently or correctly demand God be what we want God to be. I may use “He,” with a capital H, but that doesn’t mean I must believe God is completely male. It doesn’t mean I cannot accommodate those who refer to God in the feminine, except maybe when those other people insist that the only way I can refer to God is the way they demand I refer to God. Ya know what I mean? God is my father in heaven, therefore I image God in the masculine, but thatâ€™s just me.
Archbishop Peter Akinola, Primate of the Anglican Church in Nigeria, had a big shin-dig in his honor the other day. He has been named one of the 100 most influential people in the world this year by Time magazine, it seems.
Here is a report from an African online news source coving the event with highlights of Akinola’s speech to those assembled.
One quoted part of Akinola’s speech is worth noting, I think:
“The real reason is that the leaders of the Christian faith in the western world have come to realize that Africans can no longer be put under spiritual slavery.
â€œThe Europeans who knew nothing about African origin and background had been trying to impose things on us.
â€œWe have been through physical slavery, we have been through economic slavery, political slavery and now spiritual slavery”, he said.”
Spiritual slavery? The West is now attempting to spiritually enslave Africans?
There is no question that the West has exploited Africa and Africans. Chattel slavery was (and is) a tragedy. Akinola needs to also acknowledge the role of tribal Africans in the enslavement of their own people and the exploitation that occurs within all societies, cultures, and nations through time – Nigeria included.
To cast the consecration of a gay American Bishop, the ordinations of gay priests, or the advocacy in some corners of same-sex unions (the cause of current controversies within world-wide Anglicanism) in the West in a similar light as forced physical slavery is ridiculous and disingenuous. He may honestly perceive things in this way, but it is just plain wrong and profoundly misplaced. Is he being honest, or is he simply making hyperbolic statements for effect?
To posit that what the Western Church has done is an attempt to enslave the African Churches is absurd. They simply do not have to accept Western bishops, priests, deacons, or policies. That is their right as autonomous provinces within Anglicanism. The Western Churches do not have the authority to impose anything on the African Churches. We are not attempting to withhold money to force them to accept our viewpoint. As a matter of fact, Uganda and other diocese have rejected funds freely given by the American Church with no strings attached for medical and poverty relief.
Peter Akinola should be ashamed of himself. He can disagree and passionately advocate for his position, even to the point of breaking fellowship. That is his prerogative, but to claim we are attempting to “spiritually enslave” Africans is beyond the pale.
The website also reports:
Akinola… said the latest attempt to bring in immoral practices into the Anglican Church by some western countries is bound to crumble.
He said our western brothers appeared about to reason with us in this struggle. “They are beginning to say, letâ€™s look at their points of argument, may be these people are right”.
I don’t think Akinola’s opinion is correct. I don’t think he will find the West, at least most of it, agreeing with him. He will see it as further evidence of the West’s apostasy, but he truly does approach these subjects from a very “fundamentalist” position – it is his position and none other.
In our proto-Home Group (I am helping St. Paul’s develop a Home Group/Cell Group structure) two weeks ago, we were reading through the final sections of Peter’s first epistle. We are to be prepared always to give a defense for why we believe. So, the assignment for this week’s home group is to write a “spiritual autobiography” with the thought in the back of our minds to write in a way that will help us be prepared to give a reason for why we believe.
Here in New York, there is a kind of fascination of those who have faith, but generally for those who can simply live a life of faith without the rancor or antagonism or condemnation that is so prevalent in many Christians of a certain sort who are doing battle in their Culture War. I can’t help but run into people who want to discuss spiritual issues, God, Christianity, and what it all means in and for life. To be able to give a good explanation of or reason for the faith is important.
Fr. Jake Stops the World has made available space for essays, what in Evangelicalism would be called a testimony – of sorts, of faith and of why Anglicanism and The Episcopal Church is now so important to the writers. The first story reminds me in many ways of my own story – my own defense of the faith.
For this week’s home group, I hope to better hone my understanding of my own spiritual journey, why I came into Anglicanism, and why I am now a priest in this Church. This is a different endeavor than the spiritual autobiographies Iâ€™ve had to write leading up to ordination. It is important to remind ourselves, those of us who find in easier to talk about the significance of God in our lives, to remind ourselves why we continue on this very challenging and difficult journey of relationship with God.