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THIS JUST IN

Saturday, June 27th, 2015 | Uncategorized | 36 Comments

Legendary MCJ commenter Katherine who’s due for a promotion one of these days (watch this space, K) for making The Editor look competent, reports that TEO selected Mike Curry as its next Peeb.

REZZOS

Saturday, June 27th, 2015 | Uncategorized | 29 Comments

The Episcopal Organization’s GenCon 2015 is officially under way in Salt Lake City.  Back when I was exclusively an Anglican blogger, this used to be a particularly exciting time for me.  I started blogging in 2001 but never got any national or international traction at all until Binky started linking to my stuff.

I realized that the Episcopalians were a comedy gold mine even back when they were making international headlines (2003 and 2006) because of all the goofy resolutions TEO kept voting on.  Like this one.  Considering the “right” the US Supreme Court just invented, you can kiss off any “conscience clause” TEO might provide its ministers:

Resolved, the House of _________ concurring, That the 78th General Convention declares that the terms “man and woman” and “husband and wife” in the services of The Book of Common Prayer, “The Celebration and Blessing of a Marriage,” “The Blessing of a Civil Marriage,” and “An Order for Marriage,” shall be equally applicable to two persons of the same gender, and that those terms may be modified when used in these services to be gender neutral.

People with a lot of money should pay more taxes, says a church with a single parish that’s richer than most countries.

Resolved, the House of _______ concurring, That the 78th General Convention of The Episcopal Church support efforts to reduce economic disparities in the United States by:

Calling for a reversal of federal tax cuts, such as decreased taxes for the highest tax brackets, for inheritances, and on capital gains; and tax cuts that have increased the wealth gap and reduced budget revenue for domestic needs; and

Calling for a reversal of the recent erosion of progressivity in federal tax rates, as highly progressive tax rates were a means of building a strong middle class in the past, and must be an important means of reducing severe inequalities of income and wealth in the future.

My home town’s a candidate for GenCon 2018.

Resolved, the House of _______ concurring, That the following sites be considered for the 80th General Convention:  Anaheim, California (Diocese of Los Angeles), Baltimore, Maryland (Diocese of Maryland), Louisville, Kentucky (Diocese of Kentucky), Minneapolis, Minnesota (Diocese of Minnesota), and St. Louis, Missouri (Diocese of Missouri).

Keep your fingers crossed.  FER-GU-SON, FER-GU-SON, FER-GU-SON!!  TEO is conflicted about drones and stuff.

Our work reviewing the implications of drones during this last triennium has concluded that remotely operated weapons are significant as tactical weapons that in many circumstances permit more proportionate applications of force than alternatives and are, in that respect, fully consistent with the principles of the Just War tradition. Further, given the dependence of drone operations on tactical and logistical support in their theaters of operation, the moral issues posed by drones are fundamentally quite similar to the issues posed by covert warfare generally. These issues generally reflect the challenges posed by the changed nature of threats from violent extremists, compared with threats from nation states, and by the capabilities for networked terrorist recruitment and violence created by globalized social media.

The resolution further acknowledges that the greater capability created by drones for monitoring at high resolution the activities of intended targets for extended periods of time, including the interactions of targets with their families, can cause experiences of moral dissonance that are qualitatively different from those experienced by soldiers on conventional battlefields, albeit with similarities in some circumstances. There is a role for pastoral ministry in supporting operators, their families, and others involved in this new kind of warfare that needs concerted support from the Church.

The impacts of targeted killings for further recruitments in “revenge cultures” are clearly a concern, but the Commission is likewise mindful that the devastation being experienced in traditional societies is not exclusively a consequence of remotely directed targeted killings. Violent religious extremists have targeted and executed tribal elders to project their power in the lands where drones are operating, with the result that the tribal structures that previously maintained order have been severely weakened, perhaps beyond the point of revival. This is largely a consequence of murders by terrorists.

That it is.  Moving on to vastly more important matters, TEO wants to go all Real African Word on the Middle East.

Resolved, the House of _______ concurring, That the 78th General Convention call upon members of The Episcopal Church to engage in an intentional process of “Ubuntu” and of peaceful, mutual discernment regarding the policy approaches of TEC toward advocacy, economic investment or divestment, humanitarian mission, and peacemaking in Palestine and Israel; and be it further

Resolved, That the Office of the Presiding Bishop, the Office of Government Relations, the Episcopal Public Policy Network, and a broad range of advocacy groups and ministries within the Church be tasked with collaboratively defining and facilitating such a process, to be enacted at all levels of the Church — community, congregational, diocesan, national, and international; and be it further

Resolved, That this collaborative group collect and disseminate a wide range of educational resources, and collaborate with a wide range of policy experts, humanitarian aid organizations, and ecumenical and interfaith groups to inform and enliven a process of listening and conversation among those of differing convictions; and be it further

Resolved, That methods of peacemaking and mediation be applied so that The Episcopal Church in its deliberations and advocacy efforts might model the love of God and the possibility of civil dialog over controversial and confounding issues of global conflict.

In other words, we don’t want to actually propose anything substantive but we want you to think that we did.  And then there’s the ligbits.

According to Amnesty International, “legal rights are diminishing for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people across the African continent.” In Uganda, where it was already illegal to be gay, the Anti-Homosexuality Act passed by the parliament lengthened sentences for consensual homosexual sex and made it illegal to “promote” homosexuality. In Nigeria, “the conditions of imprisonment have become wider, and the punishment much harsher, when Nigeria’s president passed amendments to existing laws in January 2014.” A similarly harsh bill has been proposed in Kenya’s parliament.

Too often, the Bible is cited as a text that justifies these draconian punishments and the violence and discrimination that accompany them. But across Anglican Africa, an increasingly active network of church leaders, scholars, and activists is working to change ways of interpreting the Bible’s teachings on human sexuality and to use those new, more generous understandings to oppose draconian anti-gay laws and violence against LGBTI people.

Church-wide offices and Episcopal parishes and dioceses with companion relationships in Anglican Africa can form relationships with these African leaders and scholars who are working to change the Church’s legacy of anti-gay teaching.

The Standing Commission on Anglican and International Peace with Justice Concerns, its successor, or a task force pursuant to Joint Rule of Order IX.22 can compile information and resources about this work happening in African Anglican contexts. These resources will help church-wide offices, parishes, dioceses, and advocates develop and facilitate relationships among people in different contexts working to stop-anti gay violence across the Anglican Communion.

While we’re here, we might as well work in guns and stuff

In 2013, guns killed more than 33,000 Americans and almost 90%of the firearms used in these deaths were handguns. A proven and effective way to prevent gun violence is to require handgun purchasers to obtain a license from law enforcement officials following a background check. Studies show that licensing is a particularly effective way to achieve comprehensive background checks and deter illegal straw purchasers of handguns. Recent new research by top national experts strongly supports the effectiveness of handgun purchaser licensing. For example, Missouri’s repeal of its handgun purchaser licensing law led to a 25% increase in firearm homicide rates while Connecticut’s adoption of its handgun purchaser licensing law led to a 40% decrease in firearm homicide rates. (See: http://taleoftwostates.com) In addition, national polling shows that 72% of Americans, including 59% of gun owners, support licensing for gun purchasers (See http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25998881) Handgun purchaser licensing is fully consistent with the 2nd Amendment Right to Bear Arms as defined by the US Supreme Court in the Heller decision. This resolution aligns The Episcopal Church with a national movement calling for handgun purchaser licensing as advanced by Faiths United to Prevent Gun Violence. (See: http://faithsagainstgunviolence.org).

Also, did you know that the Episcopal Organization  is officially on record as supporting compassion?  As Paul Harvey used to put it, ITTTTTTTTTT’s true.

Resolved, the House of _______ concurring, That the 78th General Convention affirms the Charter for Compassion and its encouragement of respectful and compassionate conversation while honoring full expression of differences, and encourages its study and a prayerful response; and be it further

Resolved, That the 78th General Convention asserts the importance of joining with other partners to further the understanding of the principles of compassion and how we might live more intentionally, putting compassion at the center of our daily lives and relationships within the Episcopal Church and beyond, in ecumenical and interreligious contexts, within our cities and towns, and in the world; and be it further

Resolved, That the 78th General Convention encourages all dioceses to study the Charter for Compassion and to participate in its call to action.

If you want to support compassion on your own time, click here.

WHILE I’VE GOT YOU

Thursday, June 25th, 2015 | Uncategorized | 30 Comments

As long as we’re banning the public display of certain flags, says the Washington Post’s Alexandra Petri, here are fifty more that need to go.  No argument about Missouri, one of this country’s worst.  But Kansas?  I love you and you know that I do.  My paternal family is all from there, I’d retire to western Kansas if I had the resources and the chance to visit Ness City, where my grandmother was born, with my father shortly before he died is one of the highlights of my life.  But if you feel the need to prominently feature the name of your state on your state flag then your state flag sucks.

AND NOW…IDIOTS

Thursday, June 25th, 2015 | Uncategorized | 31 Comments

That’s it.   I’m done.  Eff  ‘em.  Eff ‘em all.  I now think that both Confederate Memorial Day and Robert E. Lee’s birthday should both be Federal holidays and that on those days, Confederate flags should be mandatorially displayed everywhere, in all states of the Union, north and south.  Because you’ll never guess what some douchebag named Lou Lumenick wants to ban:

If the Confederate flag is finally going to be consigned to museums as an ugly symbol of racism, what about the beloved film offering the most iconic glimpse of that flag in American culture?

I’m talking, of course, about “Gone with the Wind,’’ which won a then-record eight Academy Awards, including Best Picture of 1939, and still ranks as the all-time North American box-office champ with $1.6 billion worth of tickets sold here when adjusted for inflation.

Because…RACISM

Based on a best seller by die-hard Southerner Margaret Mitchell, “Gone with the Wind’’ buys heavily into the idea that the Civil War was a noble lost cause and casts Yankees and Yankee sympathizers as the villains, both during the war and during Reconstruction.

Producer David O. Selznick, a liberal Jew, did temper Mitchell’s vision somewhat, banning the N-word but allowing a lot of references to “darkies.’’ There is no direct reference in the film to the Ku Klux Klan, but it’s still pretty clear

To Lou, anyway.

that the unseen “political meeting’’ that Rhett and Ashley attend after the attack on Scarlett involves the activities of vigilantes in white sheets.

SELL-BY DATE

Wednesday, June 24th, 2015 | Uncategorized | 8 Comments

or, Why I Am Out Of Work.

Now and then, the last two and half years have been rough, a lot rougher than I thought they were going to be.  Emotionally, I’ve spent entire days in my chair watching ION television programming because I just didn’t see the point of going out of my way to do anything at all.  And financially, things have started to bite and bite HARD as more and more of my bills don’t get paid on time.

But I get it, I truly do.  I just wonder why it took the Board of Directors so long.

OLD TIMES THERE ARE NOT FORGOTTEN

Monday, June 22nd, 2015 | Uncategorized | 55 Comments

Considering what just happened in Charleston, South Carolina, Russell Moore, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, thinks that it’s time for certain people to put away childish things:

Defenders of the [Confederate] flag would point out that the United States flag is itself tied up with ugly questions of history. Washington and Jefferson, after all, supported chattel slavery too. The difference is, though, that the United States overcame its sinful support of this wicked system (though tragically late in the game). The Confederate States of America was not simply about limited government and local autonomy; the Confederate States of America was constitutionally committed to the continuation, with protections of law, to a great evil. The moral enormity of the slavery question is one still viscerally felt today, especially by the descendants of those who were enslaved and persecuted.

I don’t think that Russ realizes the rhetorical trap that he’s just walked into so let’s enlighten him, shall we?  Russ?  What if there had never been a Confederate States of America?  What if the South had never seceded?  Know what would have happened to American slavery then, Russ?

Not much of anything at all.

All the Republican Party was pledged to do about slavery was to do whatever it could to stop it from spreading; for two reasons, Abraham Lincoln had no intention of doing anything about slavery in the states where it already existed.  He had no idea what to do about it and realized that the votes for a radical step simply were not there.

If Lincoln had been a secret Garrisonian and tried to force the issue, the Republican Party would have blasted apart, the Democrats would have dominated American politics for at least several generations and chattel slavery might very well have persisted in the United States until well into the 20th century.

It’s entirely possible that the southern US or an independent Confederacy would have evolved its way out of slavery fairly early on.  But tell me something, Russ.  What do you think American race relations be like today if the last vestiges of American slavery had only finally and officially been abolished in 1937 or 1945?  How revered a symbol do you think the Stars and Stripes would be anywhere?

So, in a way, the United States of America owes the Confederate States of America a debt of gratitude.  By forcing the issue, by moving up the timetable, the South unintentionally got rid of North American slavery a lot faster than that evil institution might have finally died.

The gospel speaks to this. The idea of a human being attempting to “own” another human being is abhorrent in a Christian view of humanity. That should hardly need to be said these days, though it does, given the modern-day slavery enterprises of human trafficking all over the world. In the Scriptures, humanity is given dominion over the creation. We are not given dominion over our fellow image-bearing human beings (Gen. 1:27-30).

Excellent point.

The southern system of chattel slavery was built off of the things the Scripture condemns as wicked: “man-stealing” (1 Tim. 1:10), the theft of another’s labor (Jas. 5:1-6), the breaking up of families, and on and on.

Pay attention, Russ.  If the South had stayed put, the term that you would have used here would be the American “system of chattel slavery.”  Were not the Southern states American?  And after all, next-to no one in the North was in all that much of a hurry for the South to free its slaves.  Before the war, several Northern states and territories even passed laws forbidding free black from living within their borders.

In order to prop up this system, a system that benefited the Mammonism of wealthy planters, Southern religion had to carefully weave a counter-biblical theology that could justify it (the biblically ridiculous “curse of Ham” concept, for instance). In so doing, this form of southern folk religion was outside of the global and historic teachings of the Christian church.

Perhaps.  But if you find yourself, day after day, being condemned by your fellow countrymen as the worst sinners in all of human history, if you find Northern clergymen, most of whom had never interacted with or even seen a black person, exulting in the prospect of black people slitting your throats, as many Northern clergy did, it’s only human nature to try to justify yourself Biblically.

The abolitionists were right—and they were right not because they were on the right side of history but because they were on the right side of God.

Irrelevant.  Before the war, American abolitionists were a very small, loud-mouthed minority.  Even Lincoln ran from the term.

The Apostle Paul says that we should not prize our freedom to the point of destroying those for whom Christ died. We should instead “pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding” (Rom. 14:19).

Agreed.

The Confederate Battle Flag may mean many things, but with those things it represents a defiance against abolition

In his magisterial series, The Ordeal of the Union, the historian Allan Nevins made a profound observation.  The problem of American slavery had two aspects.  The first, getting rid of slavery, was the easy part.  The second, what Nevins called “race adjustment,” was something that the South only dimly understood and the North never even remotely grasped.

Basically, “race adjustment” means, “Okay, they’re free.  Now what?”

That right there might have been the reason for Southern secession and the creation of the “Confederate Battle Flag.”  We’re the ones living with these people; as far as you Northerners are concerned, black people are abstractions that you’d rather not have around.  So pardon us while we work all this out on our own.

and against civil rights. The symbol was used to enslave the little brothers and sisters of Jesus, to bomb little girls in church buildings, to terrorize preachers of the gospel and their families with burning crosses on front lawns by night.

Russ has an unassailable point here.  You can argue all you want about what the “Confederate flag,” the blue St. Andrew’s cross, fimbriated in white on a red field with thirteen stars really means but the fact of the matter is that racists have been allowed to seize this symbol and make it their own.

Because nobody tried to stop them.

That sort of symbolism is out of step with the justice of Jesus Christ. The cross and the Confederate flag

Which Confederate flag, Russ?

cannot co-exist without one setting the other on fire. White Christians, let’s listen to our African-American brothers and sisters. Let’s care not just about our own history, but also about our shared history with them. In Christ, we were slaves in Egypt—and as part of the Body of Christ we were all slaves too in Mississippi. Let’s watch our hearts, pray for wisdom, work for justice, love our neighbors. Let’s take down that flag.

Yes and no, Russ.  A mile or two west of where I live, just off Watson Road and wedged in between several office complexes (you’ll miss it if you’re not looking for it), is a small cemetery for a family that used to be prominent in this part of St. Louis County.  One Memorial Day, at least a decade or so ago, someone decided to decorate the graves of the war veterans there with small flags.  This sort of thing happens here a lot.

Most were American flags; two weren’t.  Two members of that family decided to throw in their lot with the Confederate States of America and, accordingly, their graves got marked with “Confederate” flags, one of which, the familiar Battle Flag, kept getting stolen.  The other was back in a corner and nobody knew it was there.

It was only when whoever put those flags up switched to another Confederate “battle flag” (there wasn’t just one CSA battle flag, there were dozens), the so-called “Missouri battle flag,” that the problem stopped.

Because nobody knew what that flag was.

And the first Confederate national flag gets displayed at old cemeteries all the time without anybody uttering a word of protest.  Indeed, with a few slight modifications, Georgia basically adopted the First National as its state flag.

I own two Confederate flags incorporating that symbol, the Second National (the so-called “Stainless Banner”) and the Third National.  They’re not on the wall in my place; I’m not much for wall decoration.  And they certainly wouldn’t be on the wall if I ever had an African-American friend over.  I don’t know how it is with the rest of you but for me, friendships are far too valuable to squander just to win a historical argument.

NOT ASHAMED

Friday, June 19th, 2015 | Uncategorized | 21 Comments

Raymond Ibrahim on the single most offensive symbol in the world.

KANSAS-NEBRASKA ACT

Thursday, June 18th, 2015 | Uncategorized | 23 Comments

The Methodists officially begin the long, arduous process of trading the Word of the Living God for a mess of secular pottage.  And you probably already know this but if you’ve been around this site long enough, you’ve heard all his before:

United Methodists from Kansas and Nebraska are in support of allowing gay marriage in the church and enabling gay people to become ministers.

At the Great Plains United Methodist Conference on Saturday, about 1,000 representatives from churches across the two states voted to pass Petition 7, which called for “acknowledgement of diverse beliefs regarding homosexuality.”

There’s only one right answer and guess which one of us has it? Check.

The petition would strike language from the Book of Discipline – the guiding principles for United Methodists – that reads “The United Methodist Church does not condone the practice of homosexuality and considers this practice incompatible with Christian teaching,” in addition to other sentences such as, “The practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching. Therefore self-avowed practicing homosexuals are not certified to be candidates, ordained as ministers, or appointed to serve in The United Methodist Church.”

In the world but not of the world?  What are you, high?

“There’s been a major cultural shift in the world, and unfortunately the church tends to lag behind the civic community in issues of social justice,” Holland said.

“We’re behind the public sentiment in terms of homosexuality, so it’s a joy for me to see this Great Plains Conference is taking a step in the right direction,” he said.

And then there are the damned savages.

Holland said he is “guardedly optimistic” about the petition’s chances of success at the General Conference, but added that it has “historically been hard to convince the delegates from … the African countries to support this more progressive view.” He said 40 percent of delegates at the international conference live outside of the United States, mostly in Africa.

“There’s just a very different view of social issues generally,” he said. “I do believe this: If there was a vote just among U.S. delegates, it would pass at the national level. It would be close, but it would pass. When you tie in a full 40 percent of the vote from a much more conservative world view. … We’re struggling in Africa with still putting gay and lesbian people to death. We’re a long way from full inclusion.”

But more unites us then divides us so it’s all good.

“One of the important things is that, that was a 60-40 vote, roughly, but that doesn’t mean that the 40 percent are ready to leave the Church,” he said. “Sometimes it feels to me like these major controversial issues can be overplayed. The United Methodist Church has been debating this in one form or another for more than 40 years, and we’ve stayed united, so, yeah, I think we are going to work through this.”

Those who do not remember the past…

SAY IT AIN’T SO!!

Tuesday, June 16th, 2015 | Uncategorized | 26 Comments

For two reasons, my Metropolitan Statistical Area has long had an inferiority complex.  The first reason is that as far as most people in this country are concerned, we might as well be Des Moines, Omaha or Council Bluffs.  Ask a couple hundred people from elsewhere in the country to name a Midwestern US town and I can pretty much guarantee you that none of the answers you get back will be St. Louis.

The second reason is that when we do accomplish something nationally important, it doesn’t seem to matter very much.  As we here in the Paris of the Mississippi Valley perceive reality, it matters when an East Coast or West Coast baseball team wins a World Series.  When the Cardinals win one, it’s noted and quickly forgotten.

Consequently, folks around here tend to wildly overestimate the Cardinals.  I’ve mentioned before that the job of Cardinal manager is less of a job than it is an office to the people of this area.  We’re the second most successful professional baseball team after the New York Yankees.  And unlike other teams we could name, our Cardinals do things the right way.

Which is an idea from which many of us are going to have disabuse ourselves:

Front-office personnel for the St. Louis Cardinals, one of the most successful teams in baseball over the past two decades, are under investigation by the F.B.I. and Justice Department prosecutors, accused of hacking into an internal network of the Houston Astros to steal closely guarded information about players.

Investigators have uncovered evidence that Cardinals employees broke into a network of the Astros that housed special databases the team had built, law enforcement officials said. Internal discussions about trades, proprietary statistics and scouting reports were compromised, said the officials, who were not authorized to discuss a continuing investigation.

The officials did not say which employees were the focus of the investigation or whether the team’s highest-ranking officials were aware of the hacking or authorized it. The investigation is being led by the F.B.I.’s Houston field office and has progressed to the point that subpoenas have been served on the Cardinals and Major League Baseball for electronic correspondence.

Law enforcement officials believe the hacking was executed by vengeful front-office employees for the Cardinals hoping to wreak havoc on the work of Jeff Luhnow, the Astros’ general manager, who had been a successful and polarizing executive with the Cardinals until 2011.

The attack would represent the first known case of corporate espionage in which a professional sports team hacked the network of another team. Illegal intrusions into companies’ networks have become commonplace, but they are generally conducted by hackers operating in foreign countries, like Russia and China, who steal large amounts of data or trade secrets for military equipment and electronics.

Already, people are distinguishing between a hacking was done independently by low-level employees acting on their own and a hacking the “front office” both knew about and approved.  Right now, I don’t see the difference between the two.  If it turns out that a Cardinal employee or employees actually did this, then LOTS of people should lose their jobs, not just the ones who did the actual hacking.

That is, if MLB wants to take this seriously.

HOW TO WRITE FOR THE NEW YORK TIMES IN FIVE EASY LESSONS

Sunday, June 14th, 2015 | Uncategorized | 23 Comments

(1) Predetermine your conclusion before pressing a single key on your computer keyboard.

As acceptance of same-sex marriage has swept the country and as the Supreme Court prepares to release a landmark decision on the issue, a wide variety of evangelical churches, colleges and ministries are having the kinds of frank discussions about homosexuality that many of them say they had never had before.

(2) Find an outlier who “proves” your hypothesis.

As a young, gay Christian activist, Matthew Vines considered it a victory just to get into a room at a conservative Christian university here with four influential evangelicals who disagreed with him over what the Bible says about homosexuality.

(3) Don’t forget to include a good villain.

The book prompted a nearly instant rebuttal from the Rev. R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky.

“If we accept his argument,” Mr. Mohler wrote, “we cannot do that without counting the cost, and that cost includes the loss of all confidence in the Bible.”

(4) Along with some “conservatives” who just don’t want to seriously confront the culture any more.

The encounter at Biola was arranged by the Rev. Caleb Kaltenbach, lead pastor at Discovery Church in Simi Valley, who is part of a younger generation of evangelical leaders and pastors pushing the church to de-escalate the fight over homosexuality. “Not everything has to be a culture war,” he said.

(5) Since some questions have only one right answer, let your outlier special plead to his heart’s content.

“In Romans 1,” Mr. Kaltenbach said, “I cannot get past where Paul says that the actual act of having sex with someone of the same gender is a sin. I can’t get past that. And believe me, with two parents who are gay, you’ve got to know I tried, even exegetically through the Greek.”

Mr. Vines, bearded and wearing a sport jacket and dress shoes, said the apostle Paul spoke in an era when there was no model of mutually loving, monogamous same-sex relationships.

He asked, “Do you see any moral distinction between a lust-filled encounter and a long-term relationship, when you approach the text?”

Mr. Vines and Mr. DiOrio decided to go to lunch at an Italian restaurant. They talked for two and a half hours, and Mr. Vines later deemed Mr. DiOrio “definitely movable.”

UPDATE:  If you’re interested, Matt’s claim that “the apostle Paul spoke in an era when there was no model of mutually loving, monogamous same-sex relationships” is completely worthless.

TIME TRAVEL OPEN THREAD

Sunday, June 14th, 2015 | Uncategorized | 36 Comments

If time travel existed, which three events in world history would you want to go back and witness?  And you have to have three; here are mine:

(1) The Battle of the Cowpens – Lots of Americans think that George Washington was the greatest American Revolutionary War general.  Lots of Americans also don’t know anything about Daniel Morgan, AKA the Old Waggoner.

(2) The Battle of San Jacinto – Sam Houston invented Texas.  And he did it here.

(3) Sam Houston’s 1861 anti-secessionist speech at Galveston – I’ve never been able to find this complete speech online  But as far as I’m concerned, this was the greatest political speech in American history.  Because Sam Houston stood up in front of a violently hostile crowd and basically called the next four years.

HOTHOUSE FLOWERS

Friday, June 12th, 2015 | Uncategorized | 74 Comments

You guys want to know something?  I had this retirement plan.  I’d buy myself a book about how to forage for food in the wild, a backpack, an ax or a tomahawk, a really good Bowie knife and something to fish with.  Then I’d load all that into my backpack along with a couple of Bibles, officially, finally and completely turn MidConJo Enterprises over to Bill (not IB) and spend the remainder of my days in the wild.

And if the coyotes wanted my carcass, they were welcome to it.

But I have to tell you guys something.  In every day and in every way, my fantasy sounds better and better, you guys:

The tech startup npm recently blogged about the unusual challenge some of its employees have agreed to participate in: they put a dollar in a glass jar every time they say “you guys.”

“We didn’t invent the idea, though I’m not sure where we first heard about it,” reads the company’s explanation on Tumblr. “But the idea is: if you believe that using the word ‘guys’ to describe a mixed-gender group of individuals is creeping sexism, and are trying to eliminate that word from your casual use, you put a dollar in the jar every time you do it accidentally.”

Yes, “creeping sexism.”

That sounds pretty intense. I’m a big user of “guys,” and when it was first brought to my attention that the phrase was frowned upon among leading feminist thinkers and people concerned with equality — especially in male-dominated workplaces — my reaction was, “Oh, come on. It’s inaccurate, but it’s not actually hurting anyone.”

But I’ve changed my mind. As I read up on the issue, I realized that my knee-jerk response (“It doesn’t seem like that big a deal to me, personally, and changing would require effort on my part and that’s hard and tiring”) is nothing more than a very typical lazy excuse for avoiding the tiny tweaks to our lives that can, as a whole, make society more equal.

Now I’m convinced that “guys” — unless we are actually addressing a group of guys — has got to go.

Do you guys agree with that?

AND NOW…IDIOTS

Wednesday, June 10th, 2015 | Uncategorized | 49 Comments

Maybe I’m getting sentimental but when people are as dumb as “novelist” Joyce Carol Oates seems to be, I can’t help but smile.

AUGERING IN

Tuesday, June 9th, 2015 | Uncategorized | 23 Comments

Former Anglican bishop Michael Nazir-Ali has some ideas for Church of England renewal:

The other issue, of course, in a nominally Christian country, is what can be done about the falling Anglican figures? They reveal the demise of nominal belonging, where the default position was to be “C of E”. But more and more, the “No Religion” category will become the default position of those with no strong affiliation. This puts paid to the widespread notion in Anglican leadership that people would continue, indefinitely, to declare themselves “Anglican” without ever showing up in church.

But this is about more than just figures, this is about faith. The lack of religious affiliation among the young indicates the failure of Church of England schools to effectively teach the faith, as well as deliver the national curriculum. School is a good place to start. Overcoming squeamishness about meaningful RE, teaching understanding of the Gospel in schools and, perhaps, even the revival of school confirmations could well reverse the somewhat depressing figures for young people.

The evidence in the Church of England is certainly that clear teaching, preaching and practising of the historic, biblical faith results in growing congregations. Faddishness in Liturgy, the questioning of basic truths, such as the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, and avant-garde social attitudes towards life, the family and the bringing up of children, have failed miserably to attract the allegedly “secular” masses to church. We should be putting our energies, rather, into bringing the whole Gospel to the whole nation rather than the half-baked nostrums of the “experts”.

Fine words which evoke a three-word response.

Dead on arrival.

Here’s why.  Christian churches capable of renewal do not do things like this:

Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop and Primate Katharine Jefferts Schori has been invited by the Dean of Westminster, the Very Rev. Dr. John Hall, to participate in a panel discussion and preach at London’s historic Westminster Abbey on June 13 and 14.

“This is a wonderful opportunity to join in the ancient worship life of the Abbey and I am grateful to the Dean for his invitation to preach,” Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori commented. “I give thanks for the growing and lively relationships between our two provinces of the Anglican Communion.”

On Saturday, June 13, Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori will participate in a panel discussion on Church and State relations. She will preach on Sunday, June 14 at the 11:15 am Sung Eucharist.

The Dean of Westminster said, “The Abbey welcomes hundreds of thousands of visitors and worshippers from the United States each year. It will be a particular pleasure to welcome Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, who has visited the Abbey on previous occasions, as our guest and preacher on this occasion. We look forward to further strengthening the historic links between our countries and churches.”

THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM

Monday, June 8th, 2015 | Uncategorized | 17 Comments

This comes from the Church Times so it’s safe to say that Lambeth Palace has finally acknowledged the obvious:

The decline in the proportion of British people who identify as Anglican has accelerated in the past decade, new analysis from NatCen statisticians suggests.

The proportion who say they are Anglican in the British Social Attitudes survey has fallen from 40 per cent in 1983 to 17 per cent in 2014. In the past decade, the proportion has fallen by two-fifths: from 28 per cent in 2004.

The researchers say that the survey results suggest that the number of Anglicans has fallen by as many as 4.5 million over the past ten years, from about 13 million to 8.5 million.

The biggest group remains those who say they have no religion: 49 per cent, up from 43 per cent in 2004 and 31 per cent in 1983.

Other Christian denominations have remained stable over the past 30 years. Roman Catholics make up eight per cent of the sample, down from ten per cent in 1983. The “Other Christian” sector has remained static at 17 per cent.

The proportion who identify as Muslim has grown from about 0.5 per cent in 1983 to five per cent in 2014.

So what’s to be done about it?  If past performance is indicative of future results, Lambeth will appoint a Task ForceTM which will Study The SituationTM and have a report ready for General Synod in three years.

Give or take.

Seriously.  What is there left with which to identify?  The “Anglican tradition” is dead.

Dead

Give me a reason, other than blind, reflexive adherence to, if not worship of, “tradition” to continue to respect Canterbury and I will.  Otherwise, at least have the honesty to acknowledge that the torch of whatever is left of Anglicanism has passed to other, worthier hands.

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