VANITY OF VANITIES

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014 | Uncategorized | 30 Comments

One of the problems with running a site like this for as long as I have is that you eventually figure out that as far as The Issue is concerned, there is, in the words of whoever wrote Ecclesiastes, “no new thing under the sun.”

The left knows that all their arguments in favor of The Issue have been slapped down and that they have no valid arguments with which to replace them.  Which means that they continually need to find new ways to say the same thing.  Which also means that you will pretty much know exactly what’s in any given story before you even read it.

Case in point: the Rev. Dr. Mark Achtemeier actually thinks he’s found the Achilles heel of traditionalist Christians regarding duh gaze.  See if you can figure out what it is.  In case you don’t feel like reading Achtemeier’s article, I put the answer on the very next line but I’m going to render it in white so you’ll have to highlight the space just below this paragraph in order to see it (I don’t see why I should do all the work around here).

THE BIG PICTURE

Regular as clockwork:

I myself had learned to support the categorical condemnation of same-sex relationships by appealing to scattered fragments of Scripture. But Irenaeus helped me understand that being able to cite Bible passages in support of a particular teaching is no guarantee that the teaching is either true or faithful. Where does that leave us?

Fortunately, the church across the centuries has developed guidelines for interpreting Scripture that help keep our use of particular passages in touch with the true portrait of God’s love in Christ. When we apply these guidelines, the Bible’s teaching about gay people and their relationships appears in a whole new light. In my book I show how the application of these time-tested principles of biblical interpretation produces an overwhelmingly positive biblical case in favor of gay marriage. I came to realize how my former reliance on fragmentary, out-of-context quotes from Scripture had led me to lose touch with the “big picture” of God’s love that lies at the heart of the Bible’s witness.

This is not the first time well-meaning Christians have made such a mistake. Some of my devout Presbyterian ancestors used fragmentary quotations from Scripture to defend their traditional beliefs supporting slavery and the subjugation of women. In those cases the church eventually came to embrace a more faithful interpretation of the Bible that did a better job of remaining in touch with the “true portrait” of God’s love for all people in Christ.

Here’s the problem I have, Mark.  When Our Lord said the following:

You have heard that it was said to those of old, “You shall not commit adultery.”  But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

Was He not referring to a fragment of Scripture, taken out of context, namely this one here?  Seems to me that if a fragment of Scripture, taken out of context, tells you not to commit adultery, then maybe you shouldn’t commit adultery.

Are you calling the Risen Lord wrong for saying what He said, Achtemeier?  If you are, then, in the immortal words of Alan Parsons, “I wouldn’t want to be like you.”

Because you’ve just rendered the entire Bible utterly meaningless.

AND NOW…IDIOTS

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014 | Uncategorized | 43 Comments

Ladies and gentlemen, give it up for Tracy Van Slyke, authoress of the SINGLE dumbest thing ever written:

Thomas [the Tank Engine] and those friends are trains that toil away endlessly on the Isle of Sodor – which seems to be forever caught in British colonial times – and, on its surface, the show seems to impart good moral lessons about hard work and friendship. But if you look through the steam rising up from the coal-powered train stacks, you realize that the pretty puffs of smoke are concealing some pretty twisted, anachronistic messages.

ANNNNNNNNND we’re off.  What kinds of “pretty twisted, anachronistic messages” can be worked into a kid’s TV show, Tracy?

For one, these trains perform tasks dictated by their imperious, little white boss, Sir Topham Hatt (also known as The Fat Controller), whose attire of a top hat, tuxedo and big round belly is just a little too obvious. Basically, he’s the Monopoly dictator of their funky little island. Hatt orders the trains to do everything from hauling freight to carrying passengers to running whatever random errand he wants done, whenever he wants it done – regardless of their pre-existing schedules.

Because he’s a human being and they’re…talking machines?

Inevitably, the trains get in a fight with or pick on one another (or generally mess up whatever job they are supposed to be doing) until Hatt has to scold one of them about being a “really useful engine”, because their sole utility in life is their ability to satisfy his whims. Yeah, because I want to teach my kid to admire a controlling autocrat.

Trace?  Sweetie?  You do know that Sir Topham Hatt isn’t the central focus of that show, don’t you?  And that sentient trains don’t actually exist?

But there was one particular episode that caused me to put the brakes on Thomas for good. It revolved around James, a red engine who is described in the opening credits as “vain but lots of fun.” (Wait, it’s OK to be vain if you can show others a good time occasionally? Great – that’s going in my Parenting 101 book.) In the episode “Tickled Pink”, poor vain James, is ordered by Topham Hat to get a new coat of paint. But while James has only had an undercoat of pink slathered on, Topham Hatt interrupts and demands that James go pick up Hatt’s granddaughter and deliver her and her friends to a birthday party right now.

You all know what pink means.

James is mortified that he has to travel while pink and proceeds to hide from all the other trains along the way. When he’s caught, the other trains – including Thomas – viciously laugh and mock him.

Thomas the Tank Engine.  Gay basher.

“What are you doing James? You’re a big pink steamie,” says Diesel, the bad-boy engine. (For the record, all the “villains” on Thomas and Friends are the dirty diesel engines. I’d like to think there was a good environmental message in there, but when the good engines pump out white smoke and the bad engines pump out black smoke – and they are all pumping out smoke – it’s not hard to make the leap into the race territory.)

Check that.  Thomas the Tank Engine.  Racist gay basher.

But once James gets back on the rails and picks up Granddaughter Hatt and her friends, all seemingly ends well because the girls love pink.

Well guess what? It’s not OK. You think a little boy watching Thomas is going to file away the lesson that pink is OK for boys? No, what kids remember is that James was laughed at, cruelly, over and over again, because he looked different and was clad in a “girly” pink color.

Whatever, kid.  Trace?  You’re right to be concerned.  If you play any given version of a British Thomas episode backward, do you know what you’ll hear?  Campaign commercials for the UK Independence Party (play an American version backward and you’ll hear a whole lot of people explaining why Barack Obama is the single worst president in the history of the United States of America).

Get help, Tracy.

WHO KNEW?

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014 | Uncategorized | 24 Comments

Not only is the moon American but it’s also Protestant (and Calvinist at that). ;-)

BEATDOWN

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014 | Uncategorized | 28 Comments

If A. S. Haley is right, TEO is getting its ass handed to it in South Carolina.

Your prayers are requested …. Bill (not IB)

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014 | Uncategorized | 33 Comments

**UPDATE**

My Mom has never read a blog before. This afternoon I guided her to MCJ on my tablet, and showed her the comments you folks have made. She was moved to tears – more than once. Thank you very, very, very much. Bill

* * * * * * * * * *

I seldom consider asking people for anything, but –

My Dad passed away at 6:30 PM Monday [today, for me] most unexpectedly. He was suffering from Parkinson’s and aspiration pneumonia (a tendency to fail to clear the lungs of foreign materials) as well as having had his vision almost completely eliminated by 50+ years of glaucoma. Although he had entered a hospice program about a week ago, his death was not considered imminent.

Your prayers are requested for Bill (my Dad), Bill (myself), and all our family. My Dad was 90, and he and my Mom would have celebrated their 65th anniversary shortly. She’s taking it hard, as I knew she would. Every night of their married life, the last thing they did before going to sleep was to say the Lord’s prayer together. They did so for the last time Sunday night.

“The LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.” (Job 1:21)

Bill (not IB)

IPECAC

Monday, July 21st, 2014 | Uncategorized | 17 Comments

A month or so ago, while she was in Britain, Katharine Jefferts Schori dropped in on some English church ladies.  And I simply cannot emphasize this too strongly.  If you’ve just eaten or drank something,

DO NOT

click on that link.

TANTRUMS

Monday, July 21st, 2014 | Uncategorized | 33 Comments

After all this time, it still amazes me what petty, vindictive creeps Episcopalians can be:

The retirement savings of more than 80 non-clergy employees of the Diocese of South Carolina and its parishes are being held hostage by their former pension plan at the Episcopal Church (TEC).

The lay employees have been trying to arrange for the rollover of their retirement savings since February, when they first contacted the Church Pension Group, which provides retirement, health and other benefits to employees of The Episcopal Church, its parishes, dioceses and other institutions. The employees became eligible to rollover their funds into another qualified plan when their employer, the Diocese or the parishes that voted to disassociate from the denomination, officially ceased to be employed by any TEC organization or parish.

In mid-March, the Diocese’s pension administrator Nancy Armstrong began correspondence with TEC’s Church Pension Group administrator to notify it that several Diocese employees would soon begin the rollover process.  After numerous emails back and forth, Frederick Beaver, a senior vice president with the Church Pension Group, informed Armstrong that protecting TEC’s pension plans is “paramount” and said he would contact her when he has “definitive legal responses.”

For more than six weeks, the Pension Group has not responded to communication on the issue and has not provided the promised legal response.

“TEC is in non compliance with the Department of Labor and the Internal Revenue Service requirements, said Jim Lewis, Canon to Bishop Mark Lawrence.  “These 403B contributions are being incorrectly held.”

GIFT HORSE

Sunday, July 20th, 2014 | Uncategorized | 27 Comments

Jacqueline Small must be absolute hell to shop for at Christmas:

Of course women can be talented and capable religious leaders, but the current push for women’s ordination or appointment to the bishopric [in the Church of England] doesn’t erase prejudices that have thrived in, and because of, Christian churches. Allowing them to join the boys’ club is a small gesture to placate progressives, and distracts from other archaic policies.

Such as?  If you have to ask, you haven’t been paying attention at all.

A Church that gives women more power gets points for liberality, but it seldom has to address deeper issues of patriarchy, like male language for God, permissive attitudes toward gendered violence, and expectations that women must prevent men from lusting. Nor does such a Church necessarily affirm LGBT lives, or welcome non-white people.

It’s like I’ve always said.  For the left, it’s a journey not a destination.

SHAKIN’ ALL OVER

Sunday, July 20th, 2014 | Uncategorized | 20 Comments

When the new machine arrives and I get up to speed on it, I’ll probably start doing things differently around here.  For one, there’s a pretty good chance that I’m going to start posting periodic fund-raising appeals.

I’ve fiercely resisted that idea ever since I started doing this but I no longer have much choice.  Since the state and federal unemployment bennies have run out and aren’t likely to come back, I’m living on my inheritance so things are going to get tight.

Initially, I’ll probably only do it every three or four months.  And it’s not going to stay on the top of the page for a week straight; I’ll post it once and that will be that.

But if New Madrid kicks in any time soon, money will be the least of my problems.

APPS

Saturday, July 19th, 2014 | Uncategorized | 28 Comments

As far as the “Is the Church of England apostolic?” question is concerned, What’s-His-Face’s explanation of the women bishops vote doesn’t help the C of E’s case any:

This comes to you with warm Christian greetings and the wish to communicate personally to you the decision of the General Synod of the Church of England to admit women to the episcopate.

This is an occasion of deep rejoicing for many, especially for many of the women clergy in the Church of England. They feel that this decision affirms their place and ministry in the life of the Church. For others in the Church of England, the decision may be a source of disappointment and concern.

The decision may also be a source of disappointment and concern for folks in actual apostolic churches not, at present, in any sort of official relationship with the Church of England.  The Roman Catholics and the Orthodox, say.  But do go on.

As the Synod moved towards the decision many were struck by the spirit of the debate: frankness, passion and, I am glad to say, a good deal of Christian charity.  It all indicated an intention and sincere assurance to hold all of us together in one Church. There appeared a determination that the genuinely held differences on the issue of the ordination of women to the episcopate should not become a dividing factor in the Church of England, and there was care and expressions of love for those troubled by the outcome.

“Care and expressions of love” might better be translated as “crocodile tears.”  But what What’s-His-Face actually means here is what the Episcopal Organization meant in 2003.  The Church of England is more than happy to cash the pledge checks of its sexist bigots.  And here’s the thing, Catholics and Orthodox.  We’re not changing our minds.

1.  Now that legislation has been passed to enable women to become bishops the Church of England is fully and unequivocally committed to all orders of ministry being open equally to all, without reference to gender, and holds that those whom it has duly ordained and appointed to office are the true and lawful holders of the office which they occupy and thus deserve due respect and canonical obedience;

Ever.

2.  Anyone who ministers within the Church of England must be prepared to acknowledge that the Church of England has reached a clear decision on the matter;

But we’re more than happy to continue dialogue with other churches in order to get them to realize what sexist pigs they are.

3.  Since it continues to share the historic episcopate with other Churches, including the Roman Catholic Church, the Orthodox Church and those provinces of the Anglican Communion which continue to ordain only men as priests or bishops,

According to us, anyway.

the Church of England acknowledges that its own clear decision on ministry and gender is set within a broader process of discernment within the Anglican Communion and the whole Church of God;

Since our baseline seems to be that we’re right and you’re wrong.

4. Since those within the Church of England who, on grounds of theological conviction, are unable to receive the ministry of women bishops or priests continue to be within the spectrum of teaching and tradition of the Anglican Communion, the Church of England remains committed to enabling them to flourish within its life and structures; and

5.  Pastoral and sacramental provision for the minority within the Church of England will be made without specifying a limit of time and in a way that maintains the highest possible degree of communion and contributes to mutual flourishing across the whole Church of England.

Translation: we’ll just wait ‘em out.  Everybody dies eventually.

The Church of England continues in its quest to make our unity more visible with those with whom we are in communion, and to seek greater unity with those with whom we are not yet in communion. Some of our Sister Churches in communion will share the joy of those in the Church of England, who welcome the development of having women in the episcopate. But we are also aware that our other ecumenical partners may find this a further difficulty on the journey towards full communion. There is, however, much that unites us, and I pray that the bonds of friendship will continue to be strengthened and that our understanding of each other’s traditions will grow.

Translation: Please keep talking with us so we can continue to call ourselves “apostolic.”  Besides, SQUIRREL.

Finally, it is clear to me that whilst our theological dialogue will face new challenges, there is nonetheless so much troubling our world today that our common witness to the Gospel is of more importance than ever. There is conflict in many regions of our world, acute poverty, unemployment and an influx of oppressed people driven away from their own countries and seeking refuge elsewhere. We need each other, as we, as churches empowered by the Holy Spirit, rise to the challenge and proclaim the good news of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and strive for closer fellowship and greater unity.

In other words, a lot more unites us than divides us, blah, blah, blah.  Was this thing written in New York?  Has the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Organization already become the de facto head of the Anglican Communion?

Seriously, Orthodox and Catholics.  Cut these people off.  With every little “ecumenical” discussion you have with them, you’re just making things worse.

DEAR CHURCH OF ENGLAND

Friday, July 18th, 2014 | Uncategorized | 24 Comments

How’s the water in the Protestant pool?

Sincerely,

The Russian Orthodox Church:

At the session that took place on the 14th of July 2014, the General Synod of the Church of England made a decision allowing women to serve as bishops. The Communication Service of the Moscow Patriarchate’s Department for External Church Relations is authorized to make the following statement in this regard:

The Russian Orthodox Church has been alarmed and disappointed to learn about the decision of the Church of England to admit women to the episcopate, since the centuries-old relationships between our two Churches had shown possibilities for the Orthodox to recognize the existence of apostolic succession in Anglicanism.

We did our best.

As far back as the 19th century, the Anglicans, members of the Eastern Church Association, sought “mutual recognition” of orders between the Orthodox and the Anglican Churches and believed that “both Churches preserved the apostolic continuity and true faith in the Saviour and should accept each other in the full communion of prayers and sacraments.”

But that ship just sailed, Canterbury.

The decision to ordain women, which the Church of England took in 1992, damaged the relationships between our Churches, and the introduction of female bishops has eliminated even a theoretical possibility for the Orthodox to recognize the existence of apostolic succession in the Anglican hierarchy.

Such practice contradicts the centuries-old church tradition going back to the early Christian community. In the Christian tradition, bishops have always been regarded as direct spiritual successors of the apostles, from whom they received special grace to guide the people of God and special responsibility to protect the purity of faith, to be symbols and guarantors of the unity of the Church. The consecration of women bishops runs counter to the mode of life of the Saviour Himself and the holy apostles, as well as to the practice of the Early Church.

And everybody knows why you really did it.

In our opinion, it was not a theological necessity or issues of church practice that determined the decision of the General Synod of the Church of England, but an effort to comply with the secular idea of gender equality in all spheres of life and the increasing role of women in the British society.

Ballgame, thanks for playing.

The secularization of Christianity will alienate many faithful who, living in the modern unstable world, try to find spiritual support in the unshakable gospel’s and apostolic traditions established by Eternal and Immutable God.

The Russian Orthodox Church regrets to state that the decision allowing the elevation of women to episcopal dignity impedes considerably the dialogue between the Orthodox and the Anglicans, which has developed for many decades, and contributes for further deepening of divisions in the Christian world as a whole.

I hope that “impedes considerably” is Russian for “kills.”  Why churches that don’t ordain women continue to insist on talking to churches that do completely escapes me.  You may come to some agreement on this or that relatively minor point here and there but you know that you’re going to crash into that solid concrete wall sooner or later.

Thanks to Ad Orientem.

NEW DRINKING GAME

Wednesday, July 16th, 2014 | Uncategorized | 34 Comments

Read each paragraph of this Mark Osler piece and then down a shot when a certain term doesn’t appear:

The furor over the Supreme Court’s decision in the Hobby Lobby case has revolved like a cyclone around several hot-button issues, including contraception, the separation of church and state, and Obamacare. The least-examined aspect is the most confounding: How is it that suing for your rights is a Christian act?

Figured out what that term is yet?  No?  Keep going.

Sadly, fighting for rights under the guise of “religious liberty” seems to be the latest way that Christians are defining themselves in the public eye. This is a sad development for the faith, for two reasons: It comes off as a bully playing victim, and it reflects a profoundly untrue view of Christ’s teaching and example. Selflessness, not victimhood, is the Christian imperative.

Got it now? If not, keep pushin’, as REO Speedwagon once said.

Both in opposing gay marriage and in the Obamacare debates, some Christian groups have taken the position of oppressed minority, often casting themselves as helpless victims of state action while they try to deny liberty to others. This is an unappealing Christianity at best, centered on an insistence that others follow the dictates of a certain kind of theology. In the public arena this worldview falls flat in the face of the bare fact that our government and public institutions are dominated by Christians.

It’s right on the tip of your tongue.

Over and over, Jesus taught us to give to others and deny ourselves. He told the rich young ruler to sell all that he had and give the money to the poor; he taught that when we feed the hungry or welcome the stranger, we honor him; and he gave us two Great Commandments: to love God, and to love our neighbors. Our own interests are not included. If we are to fight for someone, and we should, it is for others: the poor, the sick, the stranger, those in prison. It is a hard message to accept in a society that celebrates selfhood, but it is the message Christ left us with. It takes a lot of work to distort the meaning of “If anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well,” but many Christians now seem eager to do that work.

If you made it this far and you’re still soberish, shut it down.  It’ll come to you.

AND NOW…IDIOTS

Wednesday, July 16th, 2014 | Uncategorized | 44 Comments

At the Telegraph, Peter Stanford puts together a worthless list of the most influential women in Christian history.  How worthless is Stanford’s list?  This worthless.

On a list that includes the Mother of Our Lord and Mary Magdalene, here’s who came in at number eleven, just behind Mother Teresa:

Katharine Jefferts Schori (1954- )

Raised as a Roman Catholic, Jefferts Schori became in 2006 the first female primate (head) of one of the branches of the worldwide Anglican Communion, of which the Church of England is a member. She is Presiding Bishop of the Episcopalian Church in the US, where her appointment has caused near schism. Unusually for a Christian leader, she supports abortion rights for women.

CIRCLING THE DRAIN

Tuesday, July 15th, 2014 | Uncategorized | 93 Comments

The Church of England makes it official:

The Church of England has finally agreed that women may become bishops next year, breaking with nearly 2,000 years of tradition

Catholics?  Orthodox?  Go nuts because I simply cannot groove one for you any better than Andy Brown just did.

and ending 20 years of bitter compromises since women were allowed to become priests in 1994. 

Applause in the public gallery greeted the overwhelming vote in favour of the measure. Only 45 lay members of the synod voted against it and 152 in favour. The majorities among bishops and clergy were even greater.

As I said before, does anybody still genuinely care at this point?  Does anybody seriously believe that this vote will cause Britons to flood back into Anglican parishes (see Episcopal Organization numbers, post 2003)?

Me neither.  Short term, all that this vote will accomplish will be to allow British leftist hacks like Andy to go back to ignoring everything the C of E says and does for a while.

At least until it’s time for another Archbishop of Canterbury to be selected.

PASSAGES

Sunday, July 13th, 2014 | Uncategorized | 15 Comments

The last surviving member of rock ‘n’ roll’s greatest band has died:

And that’s it; they’re all gone. Joey, Johnny, Dee Dee and now Tommy. Even “the fifth Ramone”, Arturo Vega, is no longer with us. It seems so unfair: not only did the Ramones never achieve the commercial rewards to match their staggering influence upon the trajectory of rock ‘n’ roll, none of their principals was even granted a long life – at 62, Tommy was the Ramone who reached the greatest age.

He played drums on just three Ramones studio albums. The ones everyone, but everyone, knows are the three best: Ramones, Leave Home and Rocket to Russia. He’s on the first live album, too, It’s Alive, and between those four records you get the complete summation of why the Ramones mattered, and why they continue to matter. Over the 42 tracks on the three studio albums, lasting barely an hour and half, rock ‘n ‘roll is reduced to its undiluted essence: a count-in, a riff, a verse, a chorus. Very occasionally there’s a middle eight. But anything unnecessary – anything that distracts from the rush of excitement – is excised. The aim of a Ramones song is not to make you admire the musicianship or the arrangement. It’s to take you from a standing start to fever pitch in 120 seconds or less. And at the back of it all, playing the unfussiest drum patterns you’ll ever hear – he made AC/DC’s Phil Rudd sound like Keith Moon – was Tommy Ramone.

They got better. Of course they got better. They got so much better that for me (and for others, not lots of others, but enough of us) the Ramones were the best group rock ‘n’ roll ever produced. Not the most inventive, or the most versatile, or the most skillful, or the most emotionally resonant, or the most lyrical – but the best, because every time I put on one of the Ramones’ best records, I was reminded of how I felt the first time I heard it. And the first time I heard it, I felt: this is the sound I’ve been hearing in my head and here it is on 12 inches of black vinyl; this is what I have been waiting for since the first single I ever bought. The Ramones were the sound of juvenile excitement, expressed with such breathtaking singlemindedness that nothing could kill the excitement.

Tru dat.  RIP, Tommy.

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