WET CLEAN-UP ON AISLE THREE!

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014 | Uncategorized | 31 Comments

At Salon (natch), Adam Hamilton Episcopalians all over everything:

I want to say a word about Jesus. Some are quick to point out that while Jesus never addresses homosexual relationships, he does describe heterosexual marriage as God’s will. That is true, but the context of these passages is never in reference to loving same-sex relationships. The context of his reference to heterosexual relationships is, if I remember correctly, always about divorce. I don’t think we can take Jesus’s silence on this issue as approval of same-gender relationships. But it is important, given that Jesus is God’s definitive Word by which all other words about God are judged, that he does not speak to this issue at all.

I have suggested above that the handful of passages in the Bible that seem to speak directly to a prohibition against same-sex marriage and companionship could be prohibitions against something entirely different from what we mean today when we talk about two people sharing their lives as loving companions. But even if they are directly condemning same-sex relationships, we’ve seen already that not everything explicitly taught in scripture captures God’s timeless will. Some scriptures seem clearly shaped by the cultural norms and the theological and social presuppositions of their authors. They do not seem to reflect the heart of God revealed in Jesus Christ. We have seen that the New Testament church took the bold step of acknowledging that much in the Old Testament did not reflect God’s continuing will for his people, setting aside circumcision, kosher laws, and much more.

Dear LORD.  We know that You can create entire universes while we can’t create anything anywhere near as impressive as that.  And we claim to believe Your Holy Spirit inspired the writers of Holy Scriptures.  But some of the Scriptures that Your Holy Spirit inspired, “seem clearly shaped by the cultural norms and the theological and social presuppositions of their authors,” and do not reflect Your continuing will for your people.

Ramen.

Adam?  Big man?  If the Lord Jesus Christ spoke of male-female marriage as God’s will, as you quite correctly assert that He did, then why in name of Frank freaking Griswold should “the context of…loving, same-sex relationships,” assuming that such things existed in that time, which they didn’t, matter in the slightest?

Do you really want to trot out that “Jesus never directly addressed homosexual activity” cliche again, Adam?  After all, Jesus never directly addressed lots of issues.  Racism, sexism, polluting the environment, “homophobia,” genocide, overdue library books, etc.

If that’s the standard now, A, I hope you have some great “theological reasons” lined up as to why that man, that woman, that additional woman and that Ford F-150 pick-up over there can’t “marry” inside of a Christian church.  Because you can be damned sure that they’ll use your “theological reasons” for homosexual marriage against you.

AND NOW…IDIOTS

Monday, April 14th, 2014 | Uncategorized | 21 Comments

Seriously, South Fayette, Pennsylvania School District?

SERIOUSLY?!!

The mother of a South Fayette High School student convicted of disorderly conduct for recording classmates bullying him wants a judge to reverse the decision and the district to apologize.

Shea Love, 40, of South Fayette questioned why school officials contacted police to discuss a possible violation of wiretap laws but refused to confront the students whose voices she says were captured on an iPad tormenting her son.

Love requested the identity of her son, 15, a sophomore diagnosed with a comprehension delay disorder, ADHD, and an anxiety disorder, be kept private out of fear of retribution.

“The whole thing has been a horrible nightmare,” Love told the Tribune-Review on Sunday. “This whole ordeal has made my son miserable.”

Asked to discuss the case, school board President Len Fornella said: “I can’t comment on that.”

Other school board members, Superintendent Bille P. Rondinelli, high school principal Scott Milburn and assistant principal Aaron Skrbin did not return calls or could not be reached during the weekend. South Fayette police could not be reached.

According to a transcript of a March 19 hearing before South Fayette District Judge Maureen McGraw-Desmet, the boy said he made the seven-minute recording “because I always felt like it wasn’t me being heard.”

He said classmates harassed him for several months, and even though he told his mom, he didn’t have anything to show for it.

“I wanted some help,” he said. “This wasn’t just a one-time thing. This always happens every day in that class.”

Milburn called South Fayette police Lt. Robert Kurta on Feb. 12 requesting he come take a report because he believed he “had a wiretapping incident.” State law generally prohibits secret audio recording.

After questioning the boy, district officials forced him to erase the recording and punished him with a Saturday detention, which he served, according to the hearing transcript. Kurta, who testified that he did not hear the recording, charged him with disorderly conduct, a summary offense.

Kurta did not return calls. He told the judge that he didn’t think the case warranted a felony wiretapping charge but made the decision to pursue a summary charge “because I believe that he committed a crime.”

McGraw-Desmet found Love’s son guilty. She fined him a minimum of $25 and ordered him to pay court costs. McGraw-Desmet could not be reached.

Love said her son is appealing the judge’s decision.

The family intends to file a civil lawsuit against the school district.  If this had been my son, the only damages I would ask would be the deed to the property of South Fayette High School and enough money to hire a wrecking crew to tear the entire building down while I watched.  Then I’d drive to a local fast food establishment and order lunch just so I could listen to South Fayette HS’s former principal ask me if I wanted “fries with that.”

But I’d pay for my lunch with my own money.  I’m not greedy.

FREE VERSE

Monday, April 14th, 2014 | Uncategorized | 7 Comments

Furniture companies have dozens of nail guns
in their wood shops as a result of how great they succeed.
That way they will have more chances of landing a job and of
moving forward to higher career goals. Reaching the
perfect horizontal or vertical line is not that easy
with the traditional accessories such as bubble leveler.

From today’s comment spam.

ADVENTURES IN MISSING THE POINT

Monday, April 14th, 2014 | Uncategorized | 23 Comments

Kyle Smith put together a list of what he considers to be the five most overrated sports movies.  I can’t argue with three of his selections although I (slightly) dispute the inclusion of Rocky IV.

That’s because just about everybody knows going in that most movie sequels are complete wastes of time.  Of all the movies I’ve seen in the Sequel Era, the only sequel I ever saw that was better than the original was Superman II.  The rest were either blindingly obvious, disappointing, painfully embarrassing or all three. 

Ghostbusters II, anyone? 

So when you get to the third sequel of your movie series, you’ve been a cartoon for a long time so you might as well have a little fun with the franchise.  Stallone was a genius at coming up with great villains and he invented an outstanding one here.

Admit it.  When Ivan Drago finally went down and didn’t get back up, you screamed with joy at the top of your lungs and shouted, “U. S. A.!!  U. S. A!!” as loudly as you could.

Silently and inwardly, of course.

But with his choice for the most overrated sports movie of all time, Smith goes completely off the rails:

Sorry, sports fans, but God doesn’t waste His time organizing fantasy old-timer baseball games, and sentimental rubbish like [Field of Dreams] trivializes belief in the Almighty. This is a brain-dead ghost story that could have been written by the staff of a Hallmark commercial.

Kyle?  Buddy?  Hate to burst your bubble here, champ, but Field of Dreams was never a sports movie and was never intended to be.

Ladies?  Here’s a little Inside Male for you.  If youve never seen Field of Dreams before, you’re watching it at home with your Significant Male Other some evening and he starts crying at the very end, you can infer two things about your guy. 

Your old man didn’t have as great a relationship with his father as he wanted to have.  And he’d enthusiastically give up everything he owned if he could somehow change that. 

Or just have one more game of catch.

RE-EDUCATION

Sunday, April 13th, 2014 | Uncategorized | 22 Comments

Tolerance has had a bad stretch lately.  The new CEO of Mozilla, the makers of the Firefox Web browser, which I do not currently and will never again use, was forced out after less than two weeks when it was discovered that he had contributed to the campaign for the passage of California’s Proposition 8, which attempted to legally codify the definition of marriage in that state as between a man and a woman.

World Vision, a Christian charitable institution, recently changed its policy and declared that its branches were now free to hire the same-sex married if they so desired, only to reverse itself a day or so later after a firestorm of criticism from Christian traditionalists.

WV’s second reversal caused the left to accuse conservative Christians in general and World Vision in particular of WANTING TO KILL EVERY SINGLE CHILD IN THE ENTIRE WORLD while simultaneously affording brain-dead, leftist drama queens like Rachel Held Evans the chance to publicly sob into their fainting couches.

And recently, Brandeis University, which used to be a pretty liberal college, caved in to pressure from Big Islam and withdrew its award of an honorary degree to Ayaan Hirsi Ali,* a woman described by Big Islam as an “Islamophobe” and someone who has been a fierce critic of both Islamic religion and Islamic culture.  With outstandingly good reason.

What’s going on here?  Are we seeing the rise of some sort of new radically-activist American Bolshevism?  Not at all, says Tom Krattenmaker.  It’s just that some of you people have absolutely no understanding of what tolerance really means:

Following revelations that recently appointed Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich had supported California’s anti-gay-marriage Proposition 8, he is out. And so is tolerance in this country — at least according to critics of the pressure campaign that led to Eich’s involuntary resignation, and other campaigns like it.

For those involved in the religion, culture and politics debates, the Mozilla episode has sparked new rounds of recriminations. With it has come the now-customary rhetorical question from conservatives: How do gay-rights liberals get away with calling themselves the “tolerance” people when they show such nasty intolerance toward anyone who disagrees with them?

How? Because they believe in tolerance — a good thing — and it only makes sense that they not tolerate actions and words that exclude gays or represent other forms of intolerance.

So if you’re intolerant of what you, and you alone, consider to be intolerance, you’re tolerant.  Right.  Almost immediately realizing how bonecrushingly stupid that assertion is, Krattenmaker then proceeds to walk it back.  A bit.

There is much to argue with here, but Tooley’s and Dreher’s perspectives are right in one respect. Sometimes liberals — and conservatives too, as Dreher admitted — take their principles to extremes and turn them into rigid ideologies and purity tests.

This can be downright counterproductive. At no time was that more apparent than when Toms shoes, which donates millions of free pairs to poor children, faced a boycott drive for having the temerity to consider a distribution partnership with Focus on the Family. Toms had broken the cardinal rule that states that thou shalt never cooperate with an evangelical group that actively opposes gay marriage. Never mind shoes for the needy kids.

See if the following sounds familiar.

From the viewpoint of this principled tolerance, it is utterly ridiculous to expect a shrug and “whatever” in the face of disrespect and bigotry against racial or sexual minorities. This tolerance can tolerate a lot — pretty much everything, in fact, except intolerance. But here’s my call to tolerance champions: Except in the direst situations, please confine the condemnations to actions, ideas and words, and resist the temptation to write off entire individuals, organizations and religious movements. Sometimes a little patience is in order too. Those with strong religious beliefs about marriage are not all going to change overnight.

If you’re scoring at home, the fundie term for that is “hate the sin but love the sinner.”  Krattenmaker’s not at all happy about having to borrow that concept in its entirety.

There’s a saying associated with evangelicals and homosexuality that goes, “Love the sinner, hate the sin.” It’s highly debatable whether the coiners of that phrase live up to the “love” part, but there’s something in that notion that the tolerance brigade might well appropriate and apply the next time word seeps out about a CEO or anyone else in the spotlight who opposed, or still opposes, gay marriage:

Intolerance for the offending act, and tolerance for the person.

But Tom knows that it’s the only way that he can make his ridiculous “argument” work.

*This, by the way, is what Ms. Ali would have told Brandeis students.

UPDATE: As bad as things are here, they’re way worse in other places.  Fuinseoig?  You’re up.

TRIAL SEPARATION

Saturday, April 12th, 2014 | Uncategorized | 15 Comments

Some of the comments on various Anglican blogs about the recent Justin Welby controversy suggest two odd conclusions, at least to me.  Amazingly, the Anglican Communion doesn’t exist and never has.  And if there is a split in what I used to think was the Anglican world, the Anglican left may end up being the people who walk away from Canterbury.  At ENS, Jeremy Bates goes all 1776 on Welby’s narthex:

And would someone please remind the Archbishop that the Anglican Communion is NOT, as he puts it, a “global church”? He has no authority here. He has no authority in Africa. The sooner he acknowledges these facts, the better.

Indeed, because the Anglican Communion is not a global church, Episcopalians do not “need to learn to live as a global church” under Canterbury’s direction.

The idea that the Anglican Communion is a “global church” is complete nonsense.

It also smacks of self-serving English imperialism.

Some wiseass blogger responds.

So Gene Robinson was never an Anglican bishop then? Good to know.

Since Cecil Rhodes is apparently still alive, Bates ducks the question.

The whole point of being Anglican is that foreign prelates do not have jurisdiction in other provinces.

That was the principle on which Henry VIII founded the Church of England as a church independent from Rome. That is the principle on which The Episcopal Church ordained Gene Robinson and Mary Glasspool.

The attempt by two successive Archbishops of Canterbury to mis-portray a family of independent churches as one “global church” — headquartered in, where else, London — is nothing more than a transparent power grab by Englishmen pining for erstwhile imperial influence.

Lambeth should cease forthwith these foolish attempts at theo-political imperialism. Nothing could be less Anglican.

Wiseass blogger FTW!!

Really want to go there? Then explain to me why Gene Robinson and his supporters were so angry when Rowan Williams barred him from the last Lambeth Conference. According to you, “theo-political imperialism” is a really bad thing so the Episcopal Church shouldn’t have been allowed to impose Robinson on the rest of the Anglican world. Nothing could be less Anglican.

Yet TEC insisted upon it then and still does today. But you and I both know that you can’t have it both ways. You’re either part of an international Christian tradition or you’re not. If you claim that you are, then you have certain obligations to others who share that tradition but who may have committed the unpardonable sin of disagreeing with you. If you no longer wish to be “Anglican,” then the sky’s the limit.

TEACHABLE MOMENT

Saturday, April 12th, 2014 | Uncategorized | 12 Comments

You are FAR too emotionally invested in a scientific theory when you find yourself hoping that tens of thousands of innocent people die just so you can publicly and smugly declare with as much “sorrow” as you can fake, “If only people had listened to me.”

Part of being a science communicator is hoping a natural disaster kills as many members of the audience as possible, as soon as possible, with as much media exposure as possible. As a communicator myself, I’d like nothing better than for thousands of middle-class white people to die in an extreme weather event—preferably one with global warming’s fingerprints on it—live on cable news. Tomorrow.

The hardest thing about communicating the deadliness of the climate problem is that it isn’t killing anyone. And just between us, let’s be honest: the average member of the public is a bit (how can I put it politely?) of a moron. It’s all well and good for the science to tell us global warming is a bigger threat than Fascism was, but Joe Q. Flyover doesn’t understand science. He wants evidence.

So we’ve probably reached the limits of what science communication can achieve. At this point only nature herself can close the consensus gap—or the fear gap.

UPDATE:  D’OH!!  A commenter informs me that this is a parody site.  Click on the “About” button.

NOSTALGIA

Saturday, April 12th, 2014 | Uncategorized | 36 Comments

I graduated from high school in 1974.  And the other day, I got to thinking about the bands that I really liked back then and realized that there weren’t all that many of them since, well, most of the bands I used to love when I was a kid were actually garbage.  Here are my five favorites from that era:

(5) KISS – These guys went national when I was in freaking HIGH SCHOOL and I’m 58 years old.  So if you’re between 30 to 40 years old and you think that KISS “kicks ass,” as the kids say, then, for the love of God, get help and get help now.

(4) The Electric Light Orchestra – A friend of mine and I saw these guys live when they came to town on their “Out of the Blue” tour in the late 70′s.  InCREDible show.

(3) The Rolling Stones – The last truly great recording these guys did was 1972′s “Exile on Main Street.”  I absolutely wore that baby out back then and I still listen to it on CD all the time.  But I basically hated all the Stones recordings that followed it and I’ve only sporadically enjoyed Stones’ songs ever since.

(2) Pink Floyd – Before Roger Waters turned into an über-leftist, anti-Semitic crank, the musical Bobby Fischer, Pink Floyd albums were, unique among pop music recordings then or now since they were inner-directed rather than outer-directed.  That resonated with a titanically-lonely personality like me.  And since they didn’t record them very often, Pink Floyd albums were events, something to eagerly anticipate, often for a very long time.

(1) The Sex Pistols – I loved their whole ”Get your asses up on stage, say whatever crap you think that you have to say, get the hell off the stage and shut the hell up!!” ethos.  And they did come up with the single most ferociously anti-abortion song ever written by anybody (the lyrics are here but make sure that none of your kids are anywhere nearby when you click on that link).

All of which means that this will either be a disaster or really, really KEWL!!  A St. Louis tour date is scheduled for July 1 so don’t count on getting a hold of me that day.

DEAR ISRAEL

Friday, April 11th, 2014 | Uncategorized | 7 Comments

Never forget that you have WAY more friends in the United States than you have enemies.  So if you ever have to undertake an action in self-defense that might appear controversial to the rest of the world, please don’t hesitate because we’ll back you.

Jews should have learned a long time ago that the rest of the world wants them dead and that the surest road to national suicide is to depend on the good auspices of somebody else.  Which is not to say that you don’t have enemies here because you do.  Powerful enemies.  One of which is the current United States Government:

The Obama administration has been waging a secret media war in capitals across two continents blaming Israel for the recent collapse of peace talks with the Palestinians, according to former Israeli diplomats and Washington, D.C. insiders familiar with the peace process.

Multiple sources told the Washington Free Beacon that top Obama administration officials have worked for the past several days to manufacture a crisis over the reissuing of housing permits in a Jerusalem neighborhood widely acknowledged as Israeli territory.

Senior State Department officials based in Israel have sought to lay the groundwork for Israel to take the blame for talks collapsing by peddling a narrative to the Israeli press claiming that the Palestinians were outraged over Israeli settlements, the Free Beacon has learned.

These administration officials have planted several stories in Israeli and U.S. newspapers blaming Israel for the collapse of peace talks and have additionally provided reporters with anonymous quotes slamming the Israeli government.

The primary source of these multiple reports has been identified as Middle East envoy Martin Indyk and his staff, according to these insiders, who said that the secret media campaign against Israel paved the way for Secretary of State John Kerry to go before Congress on Tuesday and publicly blame Israel for tanking the talks.

“The Palestinians didn’t even know they were supposed to be abandoning negotiations because of these housing permits, which are actually old, reissued permits for areas everyone assumes will end up on the Israelis’ side of the border anyway,” said one senior official at a U.S. based pro-Israel organization who asked to remain anonymous because the Obama administration has in the past retaliated against critics from inside the pro-Israel world.

“Then Martin Indyk started telling anyone who would listen that in fact the Palestinians were angry over the housing issue,” the source said. “Eventually, the Palestinians figured out it was in their interest to echo what the Americans were saying.”

Lurch basically admitted that the Obama Administration has chosen sides.

US Secretary of State John Kerry said Tuesday that both Israelis and Palestinians were responsible for the current crisis in peace talks, but appeared to allocate the lion’s share of the blame to Jerusalem.

“Both sides wound out in a position of unhelpful moves,” Kerry said at a hearing of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, delineating what he said led to the current impasse.

“The prisoners were not released by Israel on the day they were supposed to be released and then another day passed and another day, and then 700 units were approved in Jerusalem and then poof — that was sort of the moment,” Kerry said.

The secretary of state was referring to the planned fourth release of Palestinian security prisoners, which was originally slated for March 29. Israel did not proceed with the release on time, with Jerusalem saying that it was delayed because the Palestinian Authority had demanded that Israeli Arabs be among those freed and was unwilling to commit to extend peace talks beyond their April 29 deadline. 

Good luck, Israel.  You’re going to need it.

DO-OVER

Wednesday, April 9th, 2014 | Uncategorized | 18 Comments

Let’s get one thing out of the way at the start.  This post and the past several Anglican posts preceding it should most definitely not be interpreted as anything close to a changing of the Editorial mind about the Anglican Communion or the “official” Anglican tradition in general.  Since both are dead, both should lie down as quickly as possible.

That said, if past performance is indicative of future results, Justin Welby should have emphatically walked back his controversial remarks of the other day by now and Anglican Journal just gave him a chance to.  But my gracious lord of Canterbury wouldn’t take it:

What I was saying is that when we take actions in one part of the church, particularly actions that are controversial, that they are heard and felt not only in that part of the church but around the world…And, this is not mere consequentialism; I’m not saying that because there will be consequences to taking action, that we shouldn’t take action. What I’m saying is that love for our neighbour, love for one another, compels us to consider carefully how that love is expressed, both in our own context and globally. We never speak the essential point that, as a church, we never speak only in our local situation. Our voice carries around the world. Now that will be more true in some places than in others. It depends on your links. We need to learn to live as a global church in a local context and never to imagine that we’re just a local church. There is no such thing.

You know what that means and I know what that means.  But over at Naughton’s, they don’t have the slightest conception of what that means.  Tobias Haller:

Justin, we understood you the first time, and your concern is noted. It is also misplaced and wrong, and it is exactly consequentialism, phrase your call for “consideration” how you will. The essence of a charge of being “inconsiderate” is based on unintended consequences. I think your comments in the interview comparing same-sex marriage to adultery are far more inconsiderate, inflammatory, and damaging, and will likely continue to fan the flames of homophobia.

Perhaps you are the one who needs a lesson in “consideration.”

I left the following comment over there but I seriously doubt that it gets in.

So you’re suggesting that it was actually wrong for the Anglican left to demand that Gene Robinson be unquestioningly accepted as an Anglican bishop? And that the Anglican left is equally wrong for condemning Nigerian and Ugandan Anglican episcopal support of laws passed in those two sovereign nations?

Because “local context” goes both ways. Just sayin’.

UPDATE:  No surprise whatsoever but Your Editor is wrong yet again.

UPDATE:  They’ll never do it, of course, since, if they actually did, they would stop being “apostolic” and start an existence as one more liberal Protestant sect along the lines of the United Church of the Zeitgeist but some of the comments following mine suggest that many Episcopalians would be quite happy to cut the Anglican Communion loose.

HYPOCRITICAL CRAPWEASEL WATCH

Wednesday, April 9th, 2014 | Uncategorized | 70 Comments

I can’t remember the last Democrat for which I voted for any office, high or low.  They’re hard leftists with their hands in my pockets, emptying my wallet, corrupt liars or both.  But if my only two choices in a general election are [INSERT DEMOCRAT NAME HERE] and Louisiana Republican Vance McAllister, I’m definitely voting for the Democrat: 

Fifth District Congressman Vance McAllister, who campaigned for office last fall as a devout Christian and devoted father and husband, admitted Monday he had engaged in an extramarital affair and asked for “forgiveness” after The Ouachita Citizen and its sister newspapers exposed his transgressions.

McAllister issued the statement to take responsibility for his actions after The Ouachita Citizen, The Franklin Sun and the Concordia Sentinel published video surveillance of McAllister passionately embracing and kissing one of his congressional aides. The aide, Melissa Peacock, was his district scheduler.

Peacock resigned from McAllister’s congressional staff Monday, according to McAllister’s chief of staff, Adam Terry.

McAllister did a full Jimmy Swaggart.

“There’s no doubt I’ve fallen short and I’m asking for forgiveness,” McAllister’s statement said. “I’m asking for forgiveness from God, my wife, my kids, my staff, and my constituents who elected me to serve. Trust is something I know has to be earned whether you’re a husband, a father, or a congressman. I promise to do everything I can to earn back the trust of everyone I’ve disappointed.”

Two things, Vance.  You’ve already got forgiveness from God just on the basis of your asking for it; He’s funny that way.  And I certainly hope that your constituents, your staff, your kids and hopefully even your wife will find it in their hearts to forgive you as well.  Since Ms. Peacock has not only lost her job but will probably lose her husband, I’m not sure about your prospects there but give it your best shot.

Because all of us have sinned and come short of the Glory of God.

Here’s the deal, Vance.  I wouldn’t count on getting back trust any time soon.  People can forgive quite a bit.  “Tax problems” aren’t as important as they once were since many regular people have “tax problems” themselves.  Since I don’t want either of these things, I don’t really give a crap if some lobbyist hooks you up with a boat or a beach house.

But as someone who wanted to be married for most of his life but could never make it happen, knowing that someone stood up and made a vow before the Creator of the universe and then pissed all over that vow is kind of a deal-breaker for me, Vance.  I hope you’ve got something lined up because your congressional career is finished.

AND NOW…IDIOTS

Monday, April 7th, 2014 | Uncategorized | 43 Comments

Some Spanish researchers recently claimed to have discovered the Holy Grail, the cup that Jesus employed at the Last Supper.  I’m not convinced but since I’ve never been a relics kind of guy, that doesn’t much matter.  Candida Moss, professor of the New Testament and early Christianity at the University of Notre Dame, is also skeptical:

Even if you strip off the precious metals the cup is still too fancy. Agate was widely used to carve high-value objects like signets and cylinder seals in the ancient Near East. The historian Pliny the Elder describes owning agate cups as a sign of wealth and luxury. The imperial biographer Suetonius tells us that, of all of the riches of Alexandria, the emperor Augustus kept only a single agate cup. The emperor Nero—known for his debauchery apparently collected the things. In 66 C.E., when one of Nero’s contemporaries, Petronius, realized that he was about to be executed by the emperor and planned to commit suicide, his final act was to smash an agate ladle worth 300,000 sesterces rather than allow Nero to get his hands on it. To put that in perspective: male laborers living in Republican Rome made about 3 sesterces a day. While agate could likely be acquired much more cheaply, aristocratic Romans were serious about their agate.

Yeah, uh, Candy?  Cupcake?  If I remember the Scriptures correctly, the Lord informed His disciples that the place where He was to eat His final Passover with his disciples had been prepared in advance so there would have been no need for Our Lord to have owned any particular item involved with it. 

Inasmuch as, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head,” why would the Son of the Most High God have ever owned His own chalice?  This is the intellectual and theological reason why, claims Candy, professor of the New Testament and early Christianity at the University of Notre Dame as well as an intellectual and theological badass.

Arguably the bigger issue is the cup’s appearance. As any fan of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade knows, Jesus would have used a simple carpenter’s cup. Like all dramatic reenactments, Indiana Jones has some minor historical flaws, but it certainly got that right. Archeological excavations have yielded many examples of ancient Israelite cups and they are made of cheap durable fabrics.

‘Kay.  Except that the “carpenter’s cup” in IJ&TLC was lined with gold.  Just sayin’, Candy.  Roman Catholics?  I know that most of you have gotten a huge kick out of how often you’ve rolled the Anglicans and quite justifiably so; if you’ve got a mark who doesn’t know he’s a mark then work that mark for as long as you can.

But Candy and ND are all yours.  So you will hopefully forgive a few Anglican chuckles.

HORNET’S NEST II

Saturday, April 5th, 2014 | Uncategorized | 28 Comments

You have to hand it to Justin Welby; the man has seriously rattled Anglican leftists all over the world.  The Guardian’s Andrew Brown is honest enough to admit that people with functioning consciences realize a Western gay person not receiving a pointy hat and hooked stick or not being able marry his or her partner in church just isn’t as ethically serious a matter as people being raped or MURDERED, except, perhaps, to moral bankrupts, sociopaths or, apparently, western Anglicans:

There are some sympathetic aspects to Welby’s position. In fact, there exists a perfectly good moral defence of it. The odd thing is that it’s not a Christian defence at all, but a strictly utilitarian one. The suffering caused to a lesbian priest in England who cannot marry her partner is – as far as we can measure and compare these things – less than that of an African woman raped and then murdered along with her children. If there really is some kind of exchange between the two, however tenuous, the utilitarian philosopher Peter Singer would surely argue that the African’s interests come first. 

Nor are we relieved of moral responsibility for a crime or tragedy simply because other parties are more to blame. If some lunatic holds a knife to my child’s throat and says he will kill her if I say “Cheese”, it would be wrong to say “Cheese” just to show how irrational the lunatic is being. The whole point about moral blackmail is that something of value could be lost to the blackmailed person.

Right here, of course, is where the “but” goes.

Archbishops are not supposed to be Peter Singer-style utilitarians. And it seems to me that there are two things wrong with the Welby position from the point of view of Christian ethics. The first is surely that, while we have the right to make our own decisions about whether or not to yield to moral blackmail, we have no right to make them for other adults.

You might object that an archbishop is there to make decisions for other people, so different rules apply. But he is also there to set an example. And this leads to the second Christian objection to this kind of blackmail. Christians are called on to do what is right, and to trust that God will bring good out of it even if evil immediately follows. Failing to do what you believe is right is, in some lights, a kind of blasphemy.

A reading from Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians:

Now concerning things offered to idols: We know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffs up, but love edifies.  And if anyone thinks that he knows anything, he knows nothing yet as he ought to know.  But if anyone loves God, this one is known by Him.

Therefore concerning the eating of things offered to idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is no other God but one. For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as there are many gods and many lords),yet for us there is one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we for Him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and through whom we live.

However, there is not in everyone that knowledge; for some, with consciousness of the idol, until now eat it as a thing offered to an idol; and their conscience, being weak, is defiled. But food does not commend us to God; for neither if we eat are we the better, nor if we do not eat are we the worse.

But beware lest somehow this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to those who are weak.  For if anyone sees you who have knowledge eating in an idol’s temple, will not the conscience of him who is weak be emboldened to eat those things offered to idols?  And because of your knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died?  But when you thus sin against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ.  Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never again eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble.

Here ends the reading.  You may be seated.

The situations are different, of course.  What Paul says here, Andy, is that because of what Christ accomplished for us on the Cross, Christians have the freedom to do a great many things.  But if exercising Christian freedom causes or could cause harm to another Christian or even to another human being, true Christians ought to have enough concern for others to volutarily refrain from exercising their freedom.

Because which is more important?  A gay “marriage” or a human life?

Please stand for the Nicene Creed.

Brown’s piece is a commendable effort to at least try to understand both sides of the issue Welby raised.  The response of San Francisco California Episcopal Squishop Marc Andrus, on the other hand, is an intellectually-incoherent mess.  Par for the Episcopal Organization course, in other words.  It starts out like this:

The Archbishop of Canterbury has made public statements that reveal at best a lamentable naiveté and at worst both homophobia and colonial thinking. Archbishop Justin Welby has claimed that the Church of England, if it marries gay and lesbian people there is responsible for the deaths of homosexuals in Africa.

Which is not what he said AT ALL, Andrus, you pea brain.  I hope you all have some IQ points to spare because you’ll lose quite a few of them if you read all of this.  But let’s get the meaningless boilerplate out of the way, shall we?

The archbishop was shown the mass grave of Christians from a village in Africa, killed, he was told because their neighbors did not want to become gay by association with people whose religion supported rights for LGBT people. It is clear that the archbishop was shocked by the brutality behind this mass murder, and the very scale of the killing. I too am overwhelmed by it.

You, too, are “overwhelmed” by something you didn’t see or experience.  Right.

In the face of tragedies larger than a human can take in, I think we often go to answers and solutions that we know, that are familiar.  Here, I think the archbishop fell back on a solution that was already unjust, but familiar to him: retrench around marriage as only between a woman and a man. Don’t inflame violent people further.

Or my gracious lord of Canterbury took people at their word and suggested that western Anglicans, for the sake of people that they claim are their Christian brothers and sisters, might want to consider backing off exercising their “rights” for a while.  To-may-to, to-mah-to.  Then Andrus gets even dumber still.

Welby’s argument is parallel to saying that the segregation laws in the United States that obtained until the mid-60s and the disenfranchisement of women in the United States until the 20th Century should have both been continued if someone claimed that blacks and women in other countries would be endangered by moves towards greater justice here.

Only to a blithering idiot, Andrus.  In fact, it requires a blithing idiot to consider that a serious argument about anything at all.  As inadequate or unjust as the American political system far too often was in our history, that inadequacy or injustice had absolutely no effect whatsover on non-Americans.

But since the Anglican Communion crosses borders, decisions made by its individual churches have a profound effect on every other church in the Communion.  If the Episcopal Organization wants to give Robbie a pointy hat and a hooked stick, Robbie becomes, by the rules of the Anglican game, an Anglican bishop regardless of what Africa and the rest of the world think about it.  While we’re on the subject of colonialism, Marc. 

We should remember that the archbishop has made his views on same-gender marriage clear. In an address to the House of Lords he reiterated, as he did in the radio interview most recently that marriage is a sacred institution reserved for heterosexuals. In fact, in this most recent interview the Guardian wrote that the archbishop did not want LGBT people to be treated with any greater severity than adulterous heterosexuals are treated. The core idea here if anyone cares to look closely is that same-gender relationships are sinful.

That pretty much bottom-lines it there, Marc.  As most of us figured out a long time ago, The Issue has only one right answer and until the Third World understands that answer and accepts it, we here in the comfortable West are quite prepared to accept a little “collateral damage,” if you know what we mean and we think you do.  Oh, we’ll pretend to feel bad about it but you know how it is.

HORNET’S NEST

Saturday, April 5th, 2014 | Uncategorized | 37 Comments

It’s entirely possible that I badly underestimated What’s-His-Face.  Because, mirabile dictu, my gracious lord of Canterbury just did something that his broccoli-shaped predecessor regularly and strenuously went out of his way to avoid doing.  Justin Welby pissed off the Anglican left in a major way:

The Archbishop of Canterbury revealed today that Christians in parts of Africa face abuse, violence and even death because of decisions on sexual equality made by Anglican Churches in the West.

Justin Welby, the spiritual head of the Anglican Communion, made the comments in an hour-long phone-in programme on LBC radio today.

In particular he was was responding to a question from Kes, a Church of England priest who had called in to ask why English clergy were not allowed to decide for themselves whether to marry gay couples.

“Why we can’t do it now is because the impact of that on Christians in countries far from here like South Sudan, like Pakistan, like Nigeria, would be absolutely catastrophic and we have to love them as much as the people who are here,” he said. 

“At the same time we have to listen incredibly carefully to the LGBT communities here and listen to what they’re saying and we have to look at the tradition of the Church, the teaching of the Church, and of Scripture which is definitive in the end, before we come to a conclusion [on the issue of same sex marriage].”

When challenged by the LBC presenter James O’Brien about the Church of England’s decision not to perform same sex weddings, Archbishop Welby stressed that it had nothing to do with avoiding upset to African Anglicans. Rather it was about not putting them in danger.

“It [the issue of same sex marriage] is something I wrestle with every day, and often in the middle of the night. I’m incredibly conscious of the position of gay people in this country, how badly they’ve been treated over the years, how badly the church has behaved. And, at the same time I’m incredibly conscious of what I saw in January in  South Sudan, in the DRC, and other places. You know, it’s not a simple issue,” he continued.

The Guardian picked it up so expect this story to have a long shelf life.  Needless to say, Jim Naughton’s habitués are OUTRAGED over Welby’s remarks (some of those folks are in full Resolution B033, Braxton’s Lear, bat crap mode and there’s an expected, brain-dead and historically-idiotic invocation of Martin Luther King or two) while Andrew Brown should have a genteel, overly-long and repetitive sneer up any day now.

There is nothing particularly controversial in Welby’s remarks.  You’re a gay person, it’s a Sunday morning and a friend or a relation is driving you home from an extended and painful hospitalization caused by at least seven or eight people (there might have been more but you’re not sure) who loudly chanted the F-word with every punch each one landed on various parts of your body.

Your friend or relation turns on to your street and passes some Christian church or other.  Whereupon you notice several of the people who put you in the hospital, dressed in their Sunday best, walking in to worship God.  So if an acquaintance of yours invites you to his or her church the following Sunday, what’s your response likely to be?

Damn right it is.

But, as Welby correctly points out, there are two dynamics in play here and you can see the other one working if you read the comments at Naughton’s.  The actions of the western Anglican church caused non-European people to be murdered?  How dare you even imply such a thing, Your Grace?  HOW DARE YOU, SIR?!!

It must be nice for Welby to have people like Naughton’s commenters basically prove His Grace’s other point for him.  When the western Anglican left wants something, it will get it and it will not even pretend to give a crap how that affects anybody else in the Anglican world, people with whom it claims to be in “communion.”

Really sorry to hear about your family being murdered but if we want to ordain homosexuals or let them “marry” in our “churches,” we’re going to since it’s obviously an issue of “justice” so you’re just going to have to accept the fact that it’s going to suck to be you for a while.  But hey, if you want to make a Western leftist, pseudo-Christian omelette, you have to be willing to break a few non-Western, Christian eggs.

Many of us have known this for a long time.  In October, 2003, the rest of the Anglican primates told Frank Griswold exactly what would happen if Gene Robinson got a pointy hat and a hooked stick.  Frank signed his name to that document, flew home, completely ignored it and then pretended to act surprised when some of the primates got angry at Frank’s duplicity and decided to take that document seriously.

If you wanted to, I guess you can trace this mindset back to the early 1970′s and the Episcopal Organiztion’s decision to officially allow women’s ordination.  Never mind the position into which this will put the rest of the Anglican world.  And especially never mind that our decision will effectively kill any conceivable rapprochement with the Roman Catholic Church.  We want to ordain women and we want to do it right now.  So we’re going to ordain women RIGHT NOW and we can’t even pretend that we care how our decision might affect you.

What with you being wrong and stuff.  Deal with it.

I like to think that if I had to vote for a policy that might cost innocent lives, I would back off regardless of how right I thought the policy was.  One would think that if Gene Robinson had had a microgram of humility in him, he would have taken one look at the firestorm his election caused in the Anglican world and said something along  the lines of, “God only knows how much I appreciate this honor.  And I do not currently believe that there is any theological impediment against consecrating a gay bishop.

“Nevertheless, it is clear that the Anglican Communion is not ready for this step so I wish my name to be removed from consideration as Episcopal bishop of New Hampshire.  And if I should be selected anyway, I will not accept the position.  I value the Anglican tradition and the Anglican witness far too highly to subject it to violent disruption. 

“At some time in the future, the Anglican Communion will be ready for an openly-gay bishop.  But that time is not now and that openly-gay bishop does not need to be me.”

But Robbie and his supporters never said anything like that or even contemplated the idea.  Because God’s Congress the Episcopal Organization amended the Bible and any God’s Congress Episcopal Organization Biblical amendments are exactly like the law of the Medes and the Persians, which cannot be altered.

Regardless of how many Africans die.

LOCAL WEATHER UPDATE

Thursday, April 3rd, 2014 | Uncategorized | 14 Comments

Some of you have expressed concern so here’s the current Webster Groves, Missouri weather situation.  Around 7:00 or 7:30 PM, somewhere in there, the National Weather Service issued a tornado warning for a confirmed tornado in a town not too far due west of here and quickly moving east.  So I went into my walk-in closet, shut the door, turned on a light, laid down against some pillows I have in there, read for a while and dropped off to sleep for a very nice nap.  I either woke up safe and sound a little before 10:00 PM or the afterlife is going to be a tremendous disappointment for a great many of you. :-)

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