Subway Observation #4

On the subway this morning, I watched as a youngish man was talking to his female companion (or at least the woman standing next to him). He is a new father. You know the old joke – the man pulls out his wallet and out spills three feet of pictures of his kid, and he has to show you. The proud father!
This man did the same thing, but more in line with the technological times. He passed his cell-phone to his female companion and she skipped through all kinds of really cute snap-shots of the man’s baby. Anyone could tell that if it were 20 years ago, he would have pulled out his wallet and three feet of pictures would have spilled out. He was a proud father.

How the “world” sees our wrangling

From The Living Church, via Titusonenine:

At the final press conference, the Most Rev. Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, said the meeting had damaged the church’s witness in the eyes of the world.
“Looking at the levels of human greed, terror and suffering around the world, it is difficult for people to have transformed views about the Anglican Communion when we have our own internal divisions,” he said as quoted by Episcopal News Service. “I do hope that people will bear the MDGs as the primary vision.”

I must agree with ++Rowan! We delude ourselves if we think the world will look upon all of our politicking and demands for uniform belief with respect, thinking, “oh, look at those principled and honorable people standing firm in their honest assertions of truth. I want to be part of them!” No, for the most part I think they see us as being out of touch with reality and the concerns of the world.

Draft Anglican Covenant

Here is the Primate’s Final Communique and the draft of the proposed Anglican Covenant.
Go here for the final communique, which deal with The Episcopal Church a little more harshly.
The Anglican Covenant cover page begins:
Report of the Design Group
Introduction to the Draft Text of the Covenant
A Proposal for a Text of the Anglican Covenant
The Status of this Document
This document is the Report of the Covenant Design Group and includes a draft text for a possible Covenant proposed by the Design Group for discussion. It has not yet been officially adopted by any of the Instruments of Communion and is not offered for approval or authorization but released for wider consultation and debate. It was received and debated by the Joint Standing Committee and the Primates and changes are already proposed.

Read it here.
Download it in .pdf format here.
My initial take – well, it isn’t bad. It makes me nervous when at any time I think I am giving over autonomy. It was VERY difficult for me to vow to obey my bishop. VERY difficult, but I did it with complete intent because this is how this Church conducts its affairs, and I believe that I am called to this Church at this time. So, I make my vow, and I mean it, despite how it makes me feel at times.
We are not really giving over any actual autonomy. The four Instruments of Communion will take on new responsibilities, and will be given new types of authority as we live into the Covenant. Of course, this is only the draft. I’m sure changes will be made.
It does sound more Evangelical/Protestant than Catholic, but there is room for both. It does seem to take on a more centralized point of reference concerning new teachings or interpretations of Scripture that may cause particular concern or trouble for other Provinces. There does not seem, however, to be a mechanism for the Instruments of Communion to attempt to force a particular point-of-view on another Province, except for the removal of the particular Church from the Communion. That can be done, now, so it isn’t a big departure. Time will only tell what kind of authority is granted to the Instruments of Authority when such problems occur in the future.
If this is passed right now, I could live within it. The problems will come when my “living within it” does not match other peoples’ definition of “living within it.” Then, we are right back were we started.

Oranges, anyone?

There is an article in today’s New York Times covering the ancient Lenten tradition of “pelting one’s neighbors with oranges” found in Ivrea, Italy.

The carnival is a bizarre and messy affair and, like most everything in Italy, has a long story behind it. One version has it that feudal lords gave pots of beans to the poor, who began throwing the beans back into the streets out of disrespect for such meager charity.
But a far more interesting account tells of a population incited to rebellion by the violent act of a woman who, as the yarn goes, was only protecting her honor. That woman was Violetta, a young commoner who presented the head of the local tyrant — Marquis Raineri de Biandrate — to her fellow citizens from the castle balcony after he tried to steal her virginity on the eve of her wedding.
This practice of noblemen claiming a right to enjoy a betrothed woman before her husband did was certainly not exclusive to this place. But it is said to have been exercised quite regularly by that marquis, much to the chagrin of the women and their families. The citizens, empowered by Violetta’s defiance, stormed the castle and burned it to the ground.
The carnival is rich in costumes, music and symbolism. The oranges of the Ivrea battles represent the head of the marquis. The pulp and juice are his blood.
“It’s a festival that represents the people against any type of oppressive power,” said Roberto Vola, 43, as he tried to speak over the roll of kettle-drums and the blare of techno music.

Now, this may be a stretch, but it got me thinking about “nation building” and our attempts to establish democracies in Afghanistan and Iraq. Admittedly, both efforts are still in effect and the end results will not be realized for a while yet. So, there yet may be success as defined by the U.S. administration.
This story of throwing oranges points to a consideration: freedom must be won by those who will experience or live within such freedom. These Italian towns people of antiquity rose up and fought the marquis and rebelled against the status quo of oppression. Most examples of the establishment of democracy show that the local populations rose up against the oppressors and forged a new social and political world for themselves.
Now, I’ve heard it said that places like Japan and Germany are examples of nation states where democracy was “imposed” upon the populous for their own benefit. Well, that may be true as it goes, but these places were utterly destroyed during WWII. Germany already had some experience with democratic processes. Japan was an extremely hierarchical social system and if the emperor said this is how it was going to be, then that is how it was. The emperor surrendered to the Allies, and the American’s institute a new democratic system quite contrary to the people’s experience.
This has not happened in Afghanistan or Iraq. For these two regions to move into democratic systems, they will have to win it by their own initiative. We cannot impose it upon them because of their own cultural realities. They have never known democratic processes. The Taliban will probably take back control of much of Afghanistan, regrettably. I heard last night that the Taliban are now bombing girls schools in an attempt to stop the education of females (which was official policy when they ruled the country). Iraqis needed to rebel against Hussein themselves.
They need to start throwing their own oranges.
This may mean many more years of oppression and there are things we can do to help the locals, but we cannot do it for them.

Common is some places

This, from a recent online article from The Living Church (an independent Episcopal news magazine) covering yesterday’s Sunday Eucharist for the Anglican Primates meeting at Christ Church Cathedral in Zanzibar:

Over 600 worshippers packed the Cathedral, built in 1878 on the site of Zanzibar’s former slave market in Stone Town. Archbishop Williams served as preacher, Archbishop Donald Mtetemela of Tanzania served as celebrant and the bishops of Zanzibar and Dar es Salaam served as deacon and sub-deacon in the elaborate Anglo-Catholic service which was conducted in both English and Swahili.
In high ritual style, Archbishop Mtetemela sung the liturgy, as clouds of incense arose from a censer held by the former Archbishop of Zanzibar, John Rahamdhani. The altar service reflected an ecclesial style seldom seen in The Episcopal Church, with copes, maniples, zucchettos and other finery. Yellow roses covered the front of the altar and much of the cathedral in honor of Quinquagesima Sunday.”

(emphasis mine)
Well, they are right, this kind of thing is seldom seen in The Episcopal Church these days, except for the cadre of High-Church and Anglo-Catholic parishes that are faithfully making their way forward. The overall Church, however, is far more high-church (high-ritual or “Catholic”) than it was 40 years ago! There are those who say that Anglo-Catholics “won the battle but lost the war,” meaning that a good bit of the style of high-worship has been adopted by the wider church (Eucharist every Sunday, sung Eucharist, vestments, etc.), but all the depth behind why Anglo-Catholics worship they way they do has not – some say “style over substance.” Of course, only certain things have made the transition to the wider Church, as the clip above suggests.
At my parish, St. Paul’s Church on Carroll St. in Brooklyn, we see and we wear such things as copes, maniples, cassocks, amices, and albs. We also have incense and sanctus bells. We genuflect during the appropriate part of the Creed, and all that. This seems so odd that I would be doing such things, coming from my Evangelical upbringing.
I’ve thought a lot about when I am called to a particular church with a free-standing (“west-facing”) altar where I face the people. I don’t want to be and should not be the center of attention, and I think facing the people causes that to happen. The people’s attention moves from being aware of all that is happening from the heavenlies on down to their individual hearts, to what the priest is doing with his/her hands.
I will certainly celebrate on a west-facing altar, but I might have to explain that during times such as Lent that I think I will have to face east with my back to the people. For me, particularly during penitential times, I cannot face the people as if I am separated from them, standing behind the altar. I am one of them and like them, a sinner, and with them all I must face symbolic East towards the source of our forgiveness, freedom, reconciliation, and peace. I don’t know how that will go over.
This high-ritual style of worship is considered a throwback by many of those “in the know” of TEC. “Anglo-Catholicism” has also developed a reputation in the U.S. as being reactionary and angry, very much opposed to the ordination of women and the like. This is not our Anglo-Catholic parish nor most of the others I know of. I’ve come across the good Fathers and parishioners who do fit that bill, however. Frankly, from what I read and experience, a new interest in and a rebirth of ritual can be seen in other religions like Judaism and within civil society in general.
What I read regarding demographic trends particularly among young people, this kind of “church” is a big draw. There is a desire for that which is ancient, tried and true, not trendy, and for a return of mystery. To many young people, the language of God sounds like Rite I old English, looks like traditional church architecture, is represented by clergy who look and act the part, and ritual that is contemplative and not anthropocentric. We see it in our congregation – younger people make up the majority of visitors.
We have something very much in common with our fellow Anglicans in Zanzibar.

The world goes on…

My senior year in high school the yearbook (or newspaper?) took a survey of the seniors – most likely to do this, most likely to be that. I was voted most likely to be president. I loved politics – mostly international affairs.
When I was in jr. high I had the paper route in my neighborhood. It was just right for a jr. high kid. I had to give it up when I entered high school because of marching band. I was a percussionist, later to become a saxophonist. Anyway, so I would read the newspaper as I went on my route. I would get home and watch the NBC and ABC nightly news shows, and finish it off with the McNeal Lehrer News Hour on PBS. I was in jr. high. I haven’t admitted that to anyone in a very long time.
It didn’t get much better in high school, although I didn’t have much time for news programs – too busy with other stuff. I became a Social Studies teacher.
Just to prove I wasn’t absolutely a total freak, I also was voted one of the most “watchable” guys in school my senior year. Yup, that was me, breaking young girl’s hearts all over the place. All wasted. Of course, I got picked on, too. I wasn’t the most “sportlick,” as they say in Germany.
I was also voted most likely to become a reverend.
I became a “reverend” – a priest to be exact (never refer to an Episcopal priest as “reverend”).
Well, I love politics and I’m a priest. So, politics in Church is, well, it gives me goose bumps.
As an academic exercise it is very interesting to watch the power plays and the scheming and the conniving and the spin and all that. In the Church. It is sad, isn’t it?
I am always brought back to the ‘cure of souls.’ That is what I need to be focusing on, not ecclesial brinkmanship. It is too easy to get lost in the battles and the accusations and the misrepresentations of the truth. It is too easy to forget the fact that the world sees all this and runs away. And, I don’t really blame them. I wish they could get past the news reports and blog entries.
The life situations of real people – rich or poor, white or black, male or female, straight or gay, this or that – continue on. Life is hard all the way around. It is particularly hard, almost impossible in fact, for the people of most of the rest of the world. And we watch and participate in the crass politics and power plays of this Church and Communion while the real world goes on and tries to get by – a world moving further away from God.
I have a vestry meeting to get to. We welcome the new members today. Life goes on…

iPod Shuffle – 2:00 pm

Life goes on, and listening to music helps.
1. Moby, Lift Me Up, from ‘Hotel (Disk 1)’
2. U2, A Man & A Woman, from ‘How To Dismantle A Bomb’
3. Cowboy Junkies, How To Explain, from ‘Best of The Cowboy Junkies’
4. Dashboard Confessional, Hey Girl, from ‘A Mark, A Mission…’
5. Underworld, Dark and Long, from ‘Dubnobasswithmyheadman’
6. Lone Justice, Reflected (On My Side), from ‘Shelter’
7. ‘Till Tuesday, No One Is Watching You Now, from ‘Welcome Home’
8. Lise Loeb, I Do, from ‘Firecracker’
9. Susan Cagle, Stay, from ‘The Subway Recordings’
10. Moby, Another Woman, from ’18’
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

Here is an option…

If you’ve been keeping up with the statements from around the globe concerning the doings and goings on at the Anglican Primates Conference, then you are privy to a interesting process. (Check Titusonenine and Thinking Anglicans for the most current updates.) The “reasserts” are not at all happy, at least at the time of this posting. Just a few days ago, the sub-committee that was charged with evaluating The Episcopal Church’s response to the Windsor Report was being hailed as the point of condemnation for the current liberal leadership of TEC. Now, since the sub-committee’s report didn’t say what the “reasserters” wanted it to say, the more radical elements are revealing their true nature.
When I was doing my graduate work at Kent State University in College Student Development (an obscure degree), I had an Assistantship working for the Office of Campus Life. Campus Life, among other things, coordinated all the different student organizations on this campus of 23,000 students. One of my responsibilities was to help oversee the Student Activities Board (SAB), which brought educational and entertainment programming to campus. They had a nice budget of almost $200,000.
Next to the SAB office was the office for the primary African-American student organization – Black United Students (BUS). We co-mingled a lot. Ideological differences ebbed and flowed within BUS as the years rolled on. At times they were quite radical in a “Nation of Islam” kind of way, and at times they were a bit more “mainstream.” I was looking for a Bible at one point and walked into their office and asked the folks present if anyone had a Bible. The response by one of the officers was, “Why the hell would we have that racist and evil book in here?” Okay…
BUS encouraged its members to be a part of SAB, which was a good thing (and still is). One particular BUS member was chair of the committee that brought in live entertainment. I oversaw her committee. She told me once that the then Bush, Sr., administration was actively engaged in attempting to eradicate the black race. I asked her if she really, honestly, thought that the Cabinet sat around and strategized about how they could get rid of all the black people. We couldn’t even agree on the meaning of English words, since all the dictionaries are written by white people, and were naturally racists and prejudiced against black people.
Of course I challenged her on these things and she really hadn’t that ability to make a reasoned response. (Then again, “reason” is a white construct and blacks didn’t have to abide by the concepts of white devils.) Some members in BUS where used to cowering guilt-ridden-white-pseudo-liberals, and I was not any of those things. We functioned together, but that was as close as we got. Generally, I liked her, but she was in a particular stage in her development that made her not very pleasant to be around, at least for the devil white folk.
Now, part of my education in College Student Development dealt with all kinds of personality theories and scales and paradigms and stages of development and all that. There was one particular scale – the Stages of Minority Development (don’t remember what theorists put it together) – that proved to be pretty accurate, as least in my dealings with my advisee and her cohorts.
One evening after we completed a show – Adam Sandler when he was really hot – I asked my advisee and her right-hand-girl how they thought it went. My advisee’s right-hand-girl was particularly radical in her view of the evil and satanic white race, literally snarled and told me that it was a failure, ridiculous, and pathetic (it was their committee’s idea to bring Adam to campus, by the way). It did nothing for black people and was worthless. They had to spend all this money (the black people’s money) on worthless events to entertain white people. Now, a few thousand people of all different hues showed up. It was actually quite successful and the committee did a great job. So, I asked why she thought that.
I sat there in the “Lost Leader Lounge” (a big open lounge area into which all the student offices spilled) with my advisee and her right-hand-girl for the next hour and a half while the right-hand-girl went off on me and parroted the “party line” of the more radical part of the black-liberation, all-blacks-are-decedents-of-Egyptian-kings-and-queens, Louis-Farrakhan-whites-are-the-devil kind of thinking. She was obviously in State 3.
Well, she just became more and more extreme as her rant went on (I was a captive white who represented the white power structure of KSU that was putting down the black race – the opportunity was not going to be lost); she finally just went over the top. My advisee at that point stopped her, and our “conversation” was over. Other SAB committee students were furtively walking through the lounge and appealing to our staff supervisor to “save me.” My supervisor simply told them that, “He can take care of himself.” I’m sure to her it was a good learning experience for me. She was right. I really just sat still and quiet and took it all, a bit surprised and amazed, to say the least.
My point is – the irrational nature that is inherent in radical movements will eventually become apparent. This is happening within our Anglican family right now. The radical “liberals” are showing their hand and most people reject them. The radical “conservatives” are showing their hand in Tanzania right now, and most people will reject them. They will always be myopic.
What I think we should do is simply step back and let the radicals reveal their true natures and watch the whole think blow up – we can watch them self-destruct, just like my advisee’s right-hand-girl before my advisee wisely stop her. At some point, their true intent and inner issues are revealed quite apart from the good PR work they engage in.
It’s just an option. The only problem is the carnage that is left behind after everything falls apart. And, as a priest who is charged with the cure of souls of all people, and as a person trained in personal development issues, it is very difficult to just to sit back and watch. I want to help people develop well! I want to help people avoid the personal carnage that always results from such radically charged beliefs and incidents. Radicals, however, hardly ever receive from anyone they oppose or who does not prove that they already agree.