New Year

Last day of 2011. I always have a bit of anxious anticipation thinking about what the new year will bring.  I’ve learned that when I’m open to whatever may come, I am generally amazed at what the past year brought forth – positive and negative. This past year has been no different!

Happy New Year, everyone!

I’m Christian, unless you’re gay.

Dan Pearce writes this piece on his blog, “sdl.” It is worth reading!  It is about, after all is said and done, how we live out the calling of Jesus Christ – how we are and are not living up to the example and commands of Jesus. Here are a couple paragraphs to give you a taste.

Why is it that sometimes the most Christlike people are they who have no religion at all?

“I have known a lot of people in my life, and I can tell you this… Some of the ones who understood love better than anyone else were those who the rest of the world had long before measured as lost or gone. Some of the people who were able to look at the dirtiest, the poorest, the gays, the straights, the drug users, those in recovery, the basest of sinners, and those who were just… plain… different…

“They were able to look at them all and only see strength. Beauty. Potential. Hope.

“And if we boil it down, isn’t that what love actually is?

“Don’t get me wrong. I know a lot of incredible Christians, too. I know some incredible Buddhists and Muslims and Hindus and Jews. I know a lot of amazing people, devout in their various religions, who truly love the people around them.

“I also know some atheist, agnostic, or religionless people who are absolutely hateful of believers. They loathe their religious counterparts. They love only those who believe (or don’t believe) the same things they do.

“In truth, having a religion doesn’t make a person love or not love others. It doesn’t make a person accept or not accept others. It doesn’t make a person befriend or not befriend others.

“Being without a religion doesn’t make somebody do or be any of that either.

“No, what makes somebody love, accept, and befriend their fellow man is letting go of a need to be better than others.

“Nothing else.

I know there are many here who believe that living a homosexual life is a sin.


But, what does that have to do with love?

I repeat… what does that have to do with love?

Come on. Don’t we understand? Don’t we get it? To put our arm around
someone who is gay, someone who has an addiction, somebody who lives a
different lifestyle, someone who is not what we think they
should be… doing that has nothing to do with enabling them or accepting
what they do as okay by us. It has nothing to do with encouraging them
in their practice of what you or I might feel or believe is wrong vs

It has everything to do with being a good human being. A good person. A good friend.

That’s all….

My request today is simple. Today. Tomorrow. Next week. Find
somebody, anybody, that’s different than you. Somebody that has made you
feel ill-will or even [gulp…] hateful. Somebody whose life decisions
have made you uncomfortable. Somebody who practices a different religion
than you do. Somebody who has been lost to addiction. Somebody with a
criminal past. Somebody who dresses “below” you. Somebody with
disabilities. Somebody who lives an alternative lifestyle. Somebody
without a home.

Somebody that you, until now, would always avoid, always look down on, and always be disgusted by.

Reach your arm out and put it around them.

And then, tell them they’re all right. Tell them they have a friend. Tell them you love them.

If you or I wanna make a change in this world, that’s where we’re gonna be able to do it. That’s where we’ll start.

Every. Single. Time.

Because what you’ll find, and I promise you this, is that the more
you put your arm around those that you might naturally look down on, the
more you will love yourself. And the more you love yourself, the less need you’ll ever have to find fault or be better than others.  And the less we all find fault or have a need to be better than others, the quicker this world becomes a far better place to live.

And don’t we all want to live in a better world? Don’t we all want our kids to grow up in a better, less hateful, more beautiful “world?

I know I do.”

Read all of the post.

Think on such things – try to come into the idea that the Way of Jesus Christ is so contrary to this American culture of ours! It matters not how much the left or right or liberal or conservative or Roman Catholic or Evangelical or Anglican or Protestant or Independent wants us all to believe that THEY (their group, their belief system, their denomination, their church) have it all exactly right and so lovingly warn everyone else that if they don’t get on board they are going straight to the Lake of Burning Fire for all eternity -crispy critters.

We are blind. Why? Because we are fallible, because we see in part, because we know in part, and because we will not know fully until we get on to the other side.  Why, then do we have to pretend that we or I or s/he or us are exactly right?

New Order?

Henry Kissinger and Chairman Mao, with Zhou En...

Henry Kissinger speaking with Chairman Mao.

The following quote by Henry Kissinger in his recent book, “On China,” relates to the reasons for the profound one year change from near-war animosity between China & the U.S. to both governments preparing for Nixon’s historic first visit to Mao’s China. This is the “It” that begins the quote.  What lessons can we learn for our dealings with the prevalent proclivities we find in our antagonistic and animosity filled culture and the Church’s engagement with it?

“It did so by sidestepping the rhetoric of two decades & staying focused on the fundamental strategic objective of a geopolitical dialogue leading to a recasting of the Cold War international order.” (On China, Kissinger; p. 234).

Is such a reordering possible in our two-decades old U.S. Culture War that has perverted our governmental processes and the Christian Faith in the U.S.? 

What should we sidestep? How do we do it?  What remains of the enduring “strategic objective” of the Church – for those who claim Christ who desire to find a way beyond the hubris, the anger, the bitterness, the spitefulness, the willful ignorance, the vengeful attitudes and actions that subsume so much of what is the Body of Christ, today?


It seems, and I experience, that within the Christian Faith, which is by nature relational (contra to the religion that developed around it), the more questions that are answered or settled the more we realize what we don’t know and what is yet to be understood and discovered! It is invigorating and confounding at the same time. It is infinite.

This, I think, is a similarity to the exercise of science.  Together, these both are the seeking of truth and knowledge, even though on different plains of experience, explanation, and understanding.

The New “Anglicans”?

When I was in seminary (2002-2005), Gene Robinson was consecrated the new Bishop of the Diocese of New Hampshire. I don’t believe this was any kind of “political move” or a decision by the diocese for reasons of political-correctness, but the people of the diocese voting for a priest they knew, had faith in, and considered to be faithful to the Gospel. The fact that he was gay and had a partner didn’t keep them from voting for him. There are, of course, lots of opinions about him, the diocese, and act of consecrating him a bishop in The Episcopal Church.  A whole lot has happened since then.

One aspect of the outcome has been the leaving of many Episcopalians to other Christian bodies and the creation of the Anglican Church of North America – a place where disaffected Episcopalians could flee and where some of the other “Continuing Anglican” bodies could affiliate. The hope was/is that this new church would replace the Episcopal Church as the official Anglican Provencal institution. This hasn’t happened. IMHO, many of the actions taken by the four dioceses, the parishes, clergy, and people who left the Episcopal Church and their motivation proves to be very American, but not very Anglican.

One such new institution is the Anglican Mission in America (AMiA). This group actually left the Episcopal Church earlier, over women’s ordination, I think.  They ended up being under the authority of the Anglican Church in Rwanda.  The Rwandan Church consecrated new bishops to oversee this new church institution.  The Rev. Church Murphy, former Episcopalian, was one of these new bishops.  He now leads/led this group of churches.

So, now, some things have happened between the House of Bishops of the Rwandan Church and now-bishop Murphy that raises the ire of Murphy and some others in the AMiA.  The Primate of Rwanda went about disciplining Murphy, which, of course, Murphy didn’t like.  An ultimative was give to Murphy and the consequences for non-compliance were spelled out. A couple days ago, Murphy and the other AMiA American bishops affiliated with the Rwandan Church have announced that they are splitting with the Rwandan Church. Who knows what will finally play out, but it seems that Murphy and company may end up creating yet another Protestant denomination in the U.S. – another sect.

When I moved out of American-Evangelicalism and into Anglicanism (via TEC)
in the mid-1990’s, I recognized that there was a great deal in common
between American-Evangelicalism and Anglican-Evangelicalism. One issue
that wasn’t really dealt with in my parish was the difference between
the two. I’ve come to learn the difference. There was a real failure
among priests to teach “Anglicanism” – whether Evangelical,
Anglo-Catholic, or Broad Church – and how it is distinct and different
(yet similiar) to the other traditions. I think this is an underlying
issue among a lot of folks who left, who stayed, who broke-off, etc. It
is my opinion that this is a primary reason underlying the actions of
Murphy and others.

Anglican-Evangelicals are Catholic! American-Evangelicals (within
which I was raised) are not.  As a matter of fact, they are often
anti-Catholic (both in polity and with respect to the Roman Catholic
Church). I think many American-Evangelicals who came into Anglicanism
through the Episcopal Church, like myself, never learned the difference
between Anglican- and American-Evangelicalism. When the going got tough
within the Episcopal Church, many of us reacted just like
American-Evangelicals, which means there was no issue or problem
believing we could simply break-off and start our own thing, since to
divide is the time-honored American-Evangelical way of “solving” or
avoiding problems. They, we, I, didn’t act like Anglican-Evangelicals,
who because we are Catholic, simply don’t separate, break-off, or form a
whole new church. There are times when conservatives are in the
ascendency and times when liberals are, but it seems to me that a
fundamental difference within Anglicanism is that we suffer through if
we have to because the Church is the Church Catholic, period, and cannot
be divided.

Chuck Murphy and those of the AMiA
who now spurn Rwanda are simply following the path they set out on and
doing the very American-Evangelical thing. It is expected.  That is how
American-Evangelicals react to so many of the interpersonal and
authoritarian problems. I say this not out of anger or bitterness toward
my former tradition, because I am very glad of it, but out of a real
desire to be authentically “Anglican.”