Archive for September, 2008
Posted by Christopher Johnson | Tuesday, September 30th, 2008 | Uncategorized | 53 Comments
Katharine Jefferts Schori riffs on pastoral ministry:
Tending the soil is a great part of pastoral work. It is important to the whole of the flock and the whole ecosystem. The Western plains ecosystem was dominated by bison (buffalo) until fairly late in the 19th century. Those great grazers actually had a creative role in fostering the diversity and productivity of the plains. The bison were hunted almost to extinction for their hides, for sport, sometimes intentionally to deprive Native peoples of their livelihood, but also to make room for cattle and sheep.
Not that that’s a bad thing. It gives us something else that we can ostentatiously apologize for. We LOVE doing that. We call it Episcopal crack.
Competition between cattle and sheep herders, and lack of care for that great pasture led to great range wars in the Western U.S. in the 19th century. Because sheep will chew the grass down to the roots if you leave them too long on the same ground, the cattle ranchers who shared the open range often shot the sheep, and sometimes their keepers.
Insert unbelievably lame comparison here.
Now, pastors in the church rarely shoot other species, but verbal violence sometimes accomplishes the same thing.
That’s a bit of a stretch, Kate. Actually, that’s one of the dumbest things you’ve ever said. But on the bright side, it looks like Greg Griffith and I will be dining on lamb chops for the rest of the week.
We may tolerate or encourage attempts to remove species of Christians who seem excessively different. The irony of the range wars is that pasture land is most productive when it is intensely managed for the benefit of many species – either by free-ranging herds well-adapted to their ecological context, or by careful human intervention that moves the flock or the herd from one small pasture to another every few days.
Does all that mean you’ve changed your mind about running Bob Duncan?
Those bison moved fairly freely across the plains, never staying too long in one place. Their mobility contributed to the health of the pasture, and to its diversity. The tall-grass prairie is one of the most diverse and productive ecosystems in North America. The very act of grazing encourages a flush of new growth in the grass, and if the animal doesn’t keep chewing on the same patch for too long, that productivity soon results in a greater harvest for the whole system. I don’t think it’s too great a stretch to think about how chewing (or ruminating) on a theological or spiritual issue at great length affects the health of the flock. The gatherings of Christians whose pastors build permanent high fences to keep the flock from exploring other pastures rarely thrive over the long term.
For those of you scoring at home, that was a convoluted and stupid blast against GAFCON.
Those communities who have enough freedom to wander over to another patch of grass, who don’t perseverate or obsess over three clumps of grass in one corner, have a greater chance to thrive. No species of grazer can stay healthy if kept on the same ground for long. The grasses suffer, and so do the sheep. And when animals are confined too long in one place, parasites thrive.
That’s a terrible thing to say about David Booth Beers. A few tedious paragraphs about going green follow. Here’s one of them.
Most of us begin with the relatively easy, local initiatives like changing the light bulbs to compact fluorescents, or examining our use of disposable items, and then move on to upgrading building insulation and heating and cooling systems. Old buildings can be a challenge, but many have found creative ways to install photovoltaic systems on the roof and even power-producing windmills. General Seminary is doing the geothermal drill. Those who have the opportunity to rebuild or build anew can explore the latest in low-carbon or sustainable building footprints. Doing that kind of work in the congregation can be a remarkable teaching opportunity that will raise the skill of other pastoral gardeners in their own homes and the larger community. Discovering how much waste a congregation produces, and how much can be recycled, is another way of teaching and even changing community norms. There are still too many local communities that make no provision for recycling, or have only inadequate programs.
As long as you’ve installed compact fluorescents, don’t sweat teaching that Bible stuff. But be sure not to forget to badger your parishioners about the stuff they put in their mouths. They’ll thank you for it.
I want to reflect on the pasture in another way, literally in what it provides to eat and drink. How does our own diet affect others? What’s the origin of the bread and wine for our sacramental meals? How is that reflected in what we put on our dinner tables? There is growing consciousness about those issues and their complexity, and they all have rich theological roots and implications. Pastoral ministry has a significant responsibility to teach, challenge, and explore the connections between what we eat and what kind of body results. It’s the very foundation of our eucharistic theology, which should equally influence our daily fare.
The economics of food in this country, and increasingly around the world, depend excessively on petroleum and on corn. Oil subsidizes the production of fertilizer as well as the perceived need to till and otherwise prepare the soil. We’ve seen how a shift to the so-called biofuels has removed a great number of calories from the tables of the poorest around the world. At the same time, our own food is increasingly corn-derived, with terrible health consequences for us and for the environment.
Hey, at least Kate’s not talking about cow flatulence again.
Cattle were not created to eat corn, but rather grass, and while hamburgers and steaks may be produced more rapidly on corn, it is at great cost to the health of the cows, those who eat them, and the “pastures” called feedlots which would better be called manure factories.
Quick Anglican blogging tip: sometimes it’s just better to leave the obvious set-up lines alone.
The overdependence on corn in our food supply also means that excess harvests are rewarded, which only depresses prices in developing nations where that staple food is most needed.
People are starving to death all over the world because you’re not shopping at Whole Foods, you heartless bastards.
Good pastoral care of the pasture and the flock would insist that the pasture needs to be encouraged to return to a semblance of the diversity in which it was created. At least part of the system must return to grazing on grass, where the natural products of the herd return to fertilize the system rather than becoming point sources of pollution. Our lack of trust in the created order is reflected in our over-management and waste of resources, from tractoring the field several times in a season to feeding cattle on corn and antibiotics and then having to treat the waste they produce as hazardous material.
What the Presiding Dumpster Diver seems to be saying here is that you really ought to only eat whatever you find lying around. And if you can’t find anything, well, tough.
Do shepherds drive their flocks hundreds of miles to sample a seasonal delicacy for a day or two and then return to their origin? Or do they wait until the local delicacies are in season and then move the flock a few hundred yards? Long-distance migrations are the exception in nature, as they are immensely wasteful of calories. The source of our food, whether distant or local, is an intensely pastoral issue. The energy used to bring us grapes from Chile in February ultimately limits the diets of others. By insisting on a diet of long-distance food, we are slowly becoming cows of Bashan.
Speak for yourself, Cow of Second Avenue. But so much for Whole Foods then. That is a funny thing for a New Yorker to advocate seeing the alarming lack of arable land in and around New York City. Everything Kate eats comes from a long distance away. But do go on, Presiding Bishop.
Lest you think this is a frivolous conversation,
Pretty much everyone with a functioning brain thinks that, K-Jammer.
think about how much energy goes into the debates over whether or not churches should offer gluten-free wafers or alcohol-free wine at communion. We are deeply invested in the quality of our eucharistic food; part of the challenge is to extend that to our daily bread.
Insert incredibly lame political analogy here.
When communities (or flocks) begin to dig into these pastoral issues, they discover the connections between food and justice, environment and poverty, corn and starvation in sub-Saharan Africa. And another pastoral ministry ensues – learning how to do political work, which is an essential part of building the Reign of God. Politics is pastoralia, and if you don’t believe me,
Which no one with even a residual intellect does.
consider the kind of society that Jesus and the prophets are continually dreaming up. It begins with that vision of the heavenly banquet, enough for all and enough to spare for a feast, no one eating the bread of anxiety, no one forced to eat on the run for fear of following armies. Jesus fed people for a reason, and he kept an open table for the same reason.
Does…uh…God…have anything…to do…with…the…pro…cess? Here I thought Jesus came into the world in order to save us from our sins. I never knew that He actually came into the world in order to open a first-century Jerusalem organic restaurant. The things you learn at Piskie Pravda.
Political pastoral ministry is about helping to build a society where that abundant table is open to all, and it’s going to take all the wisdom of serpents and the naiveté of hopeful doves. Effective pastoral ministry equips parishioners to share the political labor, in the ministry of developing just and peaceful communities. I hope your sermons in the next few weeks will encourage all your flock to share in that pastoral work and cast an informed ballot.
Let’s talk about another aspect of pasturing the flock – fences.
Gee. Wonder where the Dear Leader is going with this?
In order to function effectively, the fences cannot be too high or too rigid.
Like the ones in Pittsburgh.
They have to give clear boundaries, but be capable of being moved so the sheep can feast on new pasture.
Or when the 55-year-old guy who’s been divorced four times and is currently shacking up with a 25-year-old woman and doing an 18-year-old college student on the side wants to be a bishop.
Christianity has thrived in new contexts, particularly ones of oppression and want, where people are starving for food that sustains. But the fences around the re-emerging church in China are somewhat different than the ones around the church in Sweden. In both places they are nurturing the flock in similar ways. Jesus himself seems to acknowledge the reality that there are varied flocks in pastures that are now separated: “I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice.” The question is when; in the meantime, the pastoral task is to prevent the fences from becoming so petrified that they can’t be moved, so high that new sheep can’t enter,
Ones that want to consecrate homosexual bishops, say.
or so dangerous that they maim any sheep who try to go exploring.
Well, you’ve beaten that metaphor to death, Presiding Bishop. Who do you think you are, Frank Griswold?
Jesus’ pastoral fences were pretty minimal – and he kept on moving: “the son of man has nowhere to lay his head.” Fences can also function to keep out predators. The challenge is always to know which is a wolf in sheep’s clothing and which a sheep in wolf’s clothing.
I’m not sure but I think Kate’s referring to Jack Iker there.
Jesus didn’t seem to worry a whole lot about which was which, except to say that the ones that try to sneak in probably don’t have the best interests of the flock at heart. Fences that are built of fear or fences that deny the ability to wander within limits are life-denying; they do not lead to abundant life. They only result in gnawing the grass down to nothing.
They also result in “churches” whose membership numbers and ASA’s are dropping like they’ve been thrown into the sea with millstones around their necks.
Caring for the flock includes what has traditionally been thought of as pastoral care –assisting the ewes to deliver healthy lambs, marking or branding the new members of the flock, nursing the sick, carrying the weak for a time, and driving off predators. There is also the ongoing need to ensure that some sheep don’t bully others or keep them from grazing.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, Duncan and Iker suck, we get it, Kate. But I never knew sheep bullying was such a serious problem. Granted, I haven’t spent a lot of time around farms but I don’t remember ever seeing some bully sheep shoving a weaker sheep against his locker, knocking his books to the ground or stealing his lunch money.
I guess I should get out more.
Posted by Christopher Johnson | Tuesday, September 30th, 2008 | Uncategorized | 2 Comments
“Practice What You Preach.” It was a headline writer’s dream. The Archbishops of Canterbury and York (the two top prelates of the Anglican Communion) were the keynote speakers in London, last week, at the annual dinner of The Worshipful Company of International Bankers (no kidding). They had been asked to address the topic of the world’s financial crisis.
The AB of York, John Sentamu, decried an “Alice In Wonderland” market in which the share price of banks were not valued on performance, but on how willing the government might be to buy them out. Sentamu labeled those who profited from selling short “bank robbers” and “asset strippers.”
The AB of Canterbury told the bankers that the financial world had become detached from reality and urged governments to be bold in their market interventions.
One single news cycle later, the Church of England stood accused of having used controversial short selling practices in order to maximize profits on its own £5 billion portfolio of investments. A Church spokesperson immediately denied any dubious financial activity, but the books indicate that there was fire where holy smoke had been detected.
The short-selling claim against the COE came from Ekklesia, a British-based religious issues think tank. Jonathan Bartley, co-Director of Ekklesia, called on the COE to “put your money where your mouth is.” (Another great headline some wag used). Fellow co-Director, Simon Barrow, observed; “Condemning others while playing the system to your own advantage will strike many as lacking the kind of integrity and creative endeavor the churches could be demonstrating[Gee. Ya think?!! – Ed].” Barrows is the author of a book entitled, “Is God Bankrupt?” (You can’t make this up).
Ekklesia made its claim based on a reading of the 2007 Annual Statement of the Church Commissioners, the group that manages the COE’s assets. The document records the COE’s holdings in oil and mining companies, banks and properties. The total portfolio averaged a 9.5% return over the past decade — and it would appear that COE did benefit from speculation in oil, commodities such as gold and copper, and sterling (the British Pound).
Mr. Bartley said the 2007 Report makes no attempt to dissemble the facts. The COE “hedged against a fall in the value of sterling and set up a currency hedging program in 2006, effectively short selling sterling in the currency markets.”
Posted by Christopher Johnson | Monday, September 29th, 2008 | Uncategorized | 27 Comments
Western Louisiana’s Stephen Henthorne thinks the Episcopal inside strategy has failed:
Posted by Christopher Johnson | Monday, September 29th, 2008 | Uncategorized | 5 Comments
Not that he cares even a little bit about something so trivial and stupid but Jack Iker now has a bullseye on his back:
“Why now?” someone might ask. “Why is this the time for our diocese to separate from the General Convention of The Episcopal Church and realign with another Province of the Anglican Communion?”
Here are a few of the thoughts that come to mind:
1. This is God’s time – our kairos moment – and it has been coming for a long time. We believe that God the Holy Spirit has guided and directed us to this particular time and moment of decision. Some might well ask, “Why has it taken us so long to take definitive action, given the past 30 years of the shenanigans of The Episcopal Church?” We have explored every avenue and exhausted every possibility. Now is the time to decide to separate from the moral, spiritual, and numerical decline of TEC.
2. Actions of the General Convention have brought crisis and division to the whole Anglican Communion, not just TEC. More than 20 of the Provinces of the Communion have declared themselves to be in a state of broken or impaired communion with TEC because of the ordination of a homosexual bishop living in a sexual relationship with another man and the blessings of same-sex unions in many places throughout this church. We need to dissociate ourselves from the bishops and dioceses that are violating the teaching of Scripture by doing these things.
3. The heresies and heterodoxy once proclaimed by just a few renegade bishops – like James Pike and John Spong – are now echoed by the Presiding Bishop, who is the chief spokesperson for TEC and speaks on behalf of our church to the rest of the world. She does not reflect the orthodox beliefs of Episcopalians in this diocese. The greatest problem we face with Katharine Jefferts Schori is not that she is a woman, but that she is not an orthodox bishop.
4. If we do not act now, we will lose our momentum and lose our God-given opportunity. Many laity and clergy who have been standing with the Diocese, as a beacon of hope, will give up and leave for other Anglican bodies. We will never be stronger than we are right now! We will never have another chance to act with such a strong majority. The Episcopal Church many of us were born into or became members of many years ago no longer exists! It has been replaced by a liberal, revisionist sect that does not deserve our allegiance or support any longer.
5. TEC is not turning back and matters will only get worse. General Convention is out of control and beyond reform. The Deputies seem to think that they can do whatever they want as long as they can muster a majority vote, even if what they propose is contrary to Holy Scripture. We will not accept majority votes of the General Convention that compromise the Christian ?faith. The more they change the teachings of the church, the less tolerant they are of dioceses such as ours. By the time I retire (in the next 7 to 13 years), this diocese will be unable to elect an orthodox bishop to succeed me.
6. TEC is coming after us, and they are the ones that brought on this crisis. In October 2006 the chancellor to the PB wrote a letter to our diocese demanding that we change our Constitution to remove the clause that says that we will not accept General Convention dictates that are contrary to the Bible and the apostolic teaching of the church. In addition, we were instructed to remove provisions stating that all church property in this diocese is held in trust for the use of our congregations and to state instead that our property ultimately belongs to TEC. If we don’t make such changes, the letter asserted that the Presiding Bishop would have to determine what actions she must take “in order to bring your diocese into compliance.”
7. At this time there is nothing in the Constitution or Canons of TEC that prevents a Diocese from leaving. Oh, I know that General Convention officials claim that dioceses cannot leave TEC, but you will not find that anywhere in the Constitution and Canons as they presently stand. So we have this window of opportunity to do what we need to do, for you can be sure that the next General Convention will close off this option by adopting amendments that will make it even more difficult to separate in the future.
8. The vast majority of our younger clergy, those ordained in the last 10 years or so, are in favor of the decision to separate and realign. They are the voice of the future of this diocese; they are the leaders who will take us into the next decade and beyond. You will notice that most of the clergy leaders opposing this move are already retired or on the verge of retiring. This is not their battle; they have had their time to lead. Now it is time to let this next generation step forward and lead, as we prepare a future for our children and our grandchildren.
9. We have international support for making the move at this time. Not only has the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone made provision for us to join them on a temporary basis as full members and partners in mission, but several Global South Primates are standing with us and have expressed their willingness to support us in this bold move. They have stuck their necks out for us and offered their encouragement, assistance and support. We must now have the courage of our convictions and act! What a joy and relief it will be to be part of a Province where we are not always under attack and on the defensive. We will then aggressively pursue the formation of an orthodox Province in North America in conjunction with the Common Cause Partnership.
10. Most importantly, this decision is about the truth of the Gospel and upholding the authority of the Holy Scriptures. We believe in God’s full self-revelation in Jesus Christ, not in the speculation of humanist unitarians who have been elected to high offices in our church. Many leaders of TEC are teaching a false Gospel and leading people astray. Now is the time for us to take a bold, public stand for the biblical faith and practice of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church.
Posted by Christopher Johnson | Sunday, September 28th, 2008 | Uncategorized | 32 Comments
(B) Disgust since religion is a private matter and should be kept private.
(C) Bemused contempt since neither is an Episcopalian.
(2) You are a highly-educated Episcopal minister of a conservative bent. The Presiding Bishop has just declared a conservative bishop deposed without trial or vote in the House of Bishops, fired his Diocesan Standing Committee and appointed a new bishop and Standing Committee to replace them, violating entire pages of Episcopal canons. Your bishop enthusiastically supports the Presiding Bishop’s actions. The proper response to all this is:
(A) Silence since you are required to respect those set in authority over you.
(B) Outrage and an immediate announcement that you’ll have the “deposed” bishop into your parish as soon as possible regardless of what your own bishop thinks about it and even if you have to pay for the deposed bishop’s plane ticket out of your own pocket.
(C) A Scholarly Paper of Death posted on the Anglican Communion Institute web site setting out in long and laborious detail why the Presiding Bishop’s actions were both wrong and contrary to all norms of catholic Christianity.
(3) You are the Archbishop of Canterbury. A province of the Anglican Communion has just deposed a conservative bishop contrary to its own canons which promises to add even more fuel to the Anglican controversy fire. Your next public statement should:
(A) Declare that the province’s action was “unhelpful.”
(B) Denounce the province’s action in the strongest possible terms, tell the world that the deposed bishop is still an Anglican in good standing and announce that the offending province would not receive any invitations to any Anglican meetings for the foreseeable future.
(C) Consist of strident comments to the press on a subject about which you know nothing.
(4) Anglicanism’s traditional “three-cornered stool” consists of:
(A) Scripture, tradition and reason
(B) Ten-year-old Glenmorangie, twelve-year-old Glenmorangie and eighteen-year-old Glenmorangie.
(C) Katharine, Jefferts and Schori.
(5) Whenever you eat the bread of Holy Communion:
(A) You are reminded of Christ’s broken body on the Cross for the sins of the world.
(B) You are reminded of your own sins.
(C) You wish somebody on the Altar Guild would at least season this cardboard before they made you choke it down.
(6) Ideally, Anglican sermons should:
(A) Be no longer than ten minutes.
(B) Deal with subjects that interest you.
(C) Be optional.
(7) The wine of Holy Communion:
(A) Reminds us all of the blood shed by Christ on the Cross for our sins.
(B) Ought to be given to all the people all the time, not like the Catholics do it.
(C) Had better be something good or you’re going to raise a ruckus with the Altar Guild first thing Monday morning.
(8) African Anglican bishops like Peter Akinola, Henry Orombi and Emmanuel Kolini are:
(A) Great servants of God doing a job the difficulty of which you can’t even begin to imagine.
(B) Servants of God with whom you strongly disagree but servants of God nonetheless.
(C) Particularly evil bigots who shouldn’t be listened to by anyone.
(9) The Roman Catholic Church is:
(A) Part of the body of Christ.
(B) A reactionary institution that would subvert the world to its power-mad designs.
(C) An institution that’s neither here nor there as far as you’re concerned as long as it continues to make your Guatemalan maid happy.
(10) Conservative Protestants like the Southern Baptists and the Pentecostals are:
(A) Part of the Body of Christ.
(B) Handy institutions with which to entertain the mentally retarded.
(C) As cogent an argument as can possibly be conceived against universal suffrage.
The answer to every question, of course, is C.
Posted by Christopher Johnson | Thursday, September 25th, 2008 | Uncategorized | 37 Comments
The Rev. Gavin Dunbar recently attended a meeting of Georgia Episcopal clergy with the Maximum Leader. Outwardly, Dunbar reports, Mrs. Schori is rather impressive:
Anyone who expected to see an ogre in action at the diocesan meetings with Katharine Jefferts Schori this past weekend went away disappointed. She is Miss Congeniality – a formidably able woman of charm and intelligence to whom many responded with enthusiasm. Moreover, as far as I could tell, she is that rare bird, a liberal who believes in tolerance and diversity. My impression is that she believes adequate provision should be made for those who use the 1928 Prayer Book and for those who have theological reservations about the ordination of women. If these impressions are right – major caveat – then we do not have to fear much from her on those particular matters.
But as Gertrude Stein said about Oakland, California, there’s no “there” there.
Nonetheless I went away from this meeting sad and sorry. For this very personable and intelligent woman lacks something critical to any Christian, but certainly to one holding public office in the church – an adequate understanding of the Christian faith, a commitment to upholding it, and an interest in engaging in rational discussion with those who do. It is not that she is not theologically educated: she dazzled the crowd with knowing references to the Athanasian Creed and the doctrine of perichoresis. But she employs such language only to evacuate it of its content – as theological baubles brought down from the attic to ornament a theological perspective that can only be called sub-credal, for it falls below the level of what the Constitution of the Episcopal Church speaks of as “the historic Faith and Order as set forth in the Book of Common Prayer”. In so doing she perpetuates the illusion that the Church can be united as a spiritual community without coherent doctrine.
Case in point: that first-century Jewish guy the fundies are always going on about.
Let me illustrate. At her meeting with the clergy, she asked us to meditate on Mark 1:11, “You are my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased”, the words spoken by “a voice from heaven” to Jesus at his baptism in Jordan. We were to apply this text directly to ourselves, and to ponder what it meant to be assured of God’s unconditional love and approval. To judge from the responses, the assembled clergy loved this exercise, and in the discussion that followed the conventional themes of inclusiveness emerged – although a few did acknowledge a nagging sense that God might not be altogether “well-pleased” with them.
Because if you seriously think that an exercise that vapid is something important, that’s all you think He is. A first-century Jewish guy no different than anyone else.
What no-one acknowledged was that this approach to the biblical text rested on very thin ice. It simply ignored what the text actually says: “Thou art my beloved son” – the singular, and not the plural “you” – or, as it appears in St. Matthew’s gospel, “This is my beloved son” – this person, and not any others.
If you believe what Mrs. Schori believes, that whole dying-on-the-Cross-for-the-sins-of-the-world thing goes right out the window.
That (unacknowledged) exegetical fact has critical theological implications, likewise ignored. On the one hand it means that the human race does not by nature immediately enjoy divine sonship and God’s love. On the other it means that only Jesus does. And therefore our share in the love of God is not by nature but by grace, not immediate but mediated, and mediated by Jesus. “There is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5). As sole mediator of God and man, as the one through whom alone we may come to enjoy the Father’s love and approval, Jesus has the right to command our faith and obedience to his word, as means and conditions for receiving the benefits of his mediation. And that opens up the whole question of what faith and obedience to him involves: in particular, the right ordering of the Church’s life, and the right ordering of the human soul.
Satan “believes in” God. Muslims and Christians “believe in” Mohammed. But most intelligent people know that is not the same thing or even a particularly good thing, never mind something to brag about.
And that brings us directly to the questions which Ms Jefferts Schori and her adulators dismissed as ungracious nit-picking by trouble-making conservatives. “We all believe in Jesus” she assured us, but what do we believe about Jesus? Who is this Jesus? In her account, a person of remarkably little consequence.
Move over, Benny Hinn and Rod Parsley. Ladies and gentlemen, it gives me great pleasure to introduce you to leftist Pentecostalism.
When I ventured to raise this exegetical and theological problem, Ms Jefferts Schori made no answer. But other persons present were quick to refute me. One appealed to the immediacy of his feeling of God’s love as proof that I was wrong about the need of mediation. Subjective experience trumped doctrine.
The following is as concise an explanation as you will ever read as to why a “parallel” Anglican province in North America is a horrible idea since no Christian church can have any relationship of any kind, even theoretical, with the Episcopal Organzation and maintain any credibility at all. It is also why the spiritual danger you are in increases every moment that you remain an Episcopalian.
Another dismissed the authority of Scripture and the Church’s teaching as irrelevant, because, he said, (I kid you not) he had heard the voice of God when Ms Jefferts Schori spoke! An over-excited response, no doubt – but virtually the whole room then endorsed his comments with a standing ovation.
Bottom line. The Episcopal Organization is not Christian.
Sad as it is that an officer of the Church gives so little importance to the mediating person and work of Christ, it is even more sad that so many Episcopalians see no problem there, and resent those who do.
It was never about women’s ordination, homosexual priests and bishops or any other single issue. These were only symptoms, they were never diseases. Cancer begins long before anyone realizes it is there.
Posted by Christopher Johnson | Thursday, September 25th, 2008 | Uncategorized | 5 Comments
The Episcopal left isn’t even trying to hide its intentions anymore. San Diego Bishop James Mathes attempts to defend the indefensible:
Yesterday was a difficult day in the House of Bishops and the Episcopal Church. I want you to hear directly from me about the House of Bishops’ vote to depose the Bishop of Pittsburgh for abandoning the communion of this Church. The House of Bishops reached this decision after weighing considerable evidence. We also prayed and listened intentionally to each other; our decision was careful and informed.
So what had Duncan done to merit deposition, Jim? Well, uh…he hadn’t actually done anything. But he was going to. Everybody knows it.
The Bishop of Pittsburgh has led the efforts to separate the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh from The Episcopal Church by advocating for changes in the accession clause in that diocese’s constitution and canons. He also supports a canonical change which would move the diocese to the Province of the Southern Cone. His actions supporting these changes were never in dispute.
But…Pittsburgh…hasn’t actually left…uh…Jim. Sounds like you’re sentencing people for crimes they haven’t committed yet. Yeah, says Mathes, that’s exactly what we’re doing. You got a problem with with that?
Critically, he presided at the Diocesan Convention in 2007 at which the change in the constitution of diocese was approved in the first reading. His failure to rule the resolution out of order and his clear advocacy for its full passage at the upcoming convention in October by a second vote are demonstrative. The judgment of the House of Bishops was that by these actions Bishop Duncan made an open renunciation of the discipline of this church, thereby abandoning the communion of this Church.
So. The Diocesan Convention of the Diocese of Pittsburgh voted overwhelmingly to abandon the rotting corpse that is the Episcopal Organization. Bob Duncan should have ruled the resolution, passed by an overwhelming majority, out of order. Strange idea, that one, for a “democratic” church.
One could be a twit here and point out that if Frank Griswold had ruled the election of Gene Robinson out of order in 2003, no one in Pittsburgh would have ever heard of Gregory Venables. Frank didn’t have the canonical right to do that? Doesn’t matter. To nonentities like Jim Mathes, the canons mean whatever the majority wants them to mean.
There is an effort underway to suggest that the House of Bishops did not follow the canons of our Church in these proceedings. However these are the same procedures followed in three other depositions in the last few years, none of which were protested under the rules of the House of Bishops.
Episcopal morality: it’s not wrong if nobody bitches about it.
When these procedures were challenged, the House of Bishops sustained the ruling of the president. It has also been suggested that the abandonment of communion proceedings do not permit the bishop in question the benefit of due process.
“Did you shoot the President, Mr. Oswald?”
“Did you shoot the President of the United States?”
“Good Lord, no. Why would you think I would do such a horrible thing? I’ve been here depositing books all day.”
“Then what’s that high-powered rifle doing by that window?”
“That’s nothing. My wife called a little bit ago. She’s jonesing for some of my barbecued squirrel. She loves that stuff. Wants me to make it all the time.”
“I see. We’re terribly sorry to have bothered you.”
“No trouble at all. Good luck, officers”
Meanwhile, Barry “Third Time’s The Charm” Beisner weighs in.
It is true that there were several questions having to do with canonical process, and that differences of interpretation were present. Still, the fact is that the Presiding Bishop’s Chancellor gave a reasonable interpretation, the Parliamentarian ruled accordingly, and a challenge to the ruling was overwhelmingly defeated.
There were no violations of the canons at all. Because we voted that way. And since there isn’t a court of appeal in TEO, bite me.
There was no possibility for a trial because the charges were not brought under the canon which would have provided for one. Bp. Duncan did not make a convincing effort to refute the charges against him, nor did he find it possible to simply affirm that he wished to remain an Episcopalian.
Actually he did but Barry, who’s been divorced twice and married three times, didn’t believe him. Conservative Episcopalians who haven’t left yet should take note that it is now possible in the Episcopal Organization to be penalized for your opinions.
As you know from experience in a variety of organizations, it is possible to defect in place, to withdraw loyalty before leaving, to abandon before walking out the door. This has been Bp. Duncan’s behavior with regard to the Episcopal Church for several years, culminating in a pending action to formally withdraw.
Anyway, some things are WAY more important than trivialities like the rule of law. Namely, protecting the minority of Pittsburgh Episcopalians who are tired of having to listen to Duncan shove that Bible thing down their throats.
Some in the House of Bishops felt that we should wait for that formal action to take place before deposing him. I was very nearly persuaded by that argument; the tipping point for me, however, came when I considered the plight of those fellow Episcopalians in Pittsburgh who wish to remain loyal and need our help. Aware that it was they who filed the charges against Bishop Duncan nearly a year ago, persuaded that further waiting might be to their harm, and wanting to do everything we can under the law to support them, I voted “Yes” on the resolution. It was a decision which had nothing to do with Robert Duncan’s theology, nothing to do with doctrine; it was a matter of the discipline of this Church.
I’m a bit skeptical of your assertion that this had nothing to do with doctrine, Barry. Actually, I think that’s as complete a crock as it is possible for anyone to write. I mean, how much credence should anyone give to the statements of a man who has as much trouble with marriage vows as you do?
Posted by Christopher Johnson | Wednesday, September 24th, 2008 | Uncategorized | 24 Comments
Right now, the odds of there always being an England are not good at all:
Publishers and universities are outlawing dozens of seemingly innocuous words in case they cause offence.
Banned phrases on the list, which was originally drawn up by sociologists, include Old Masters, which has been used for centuries to refer to great painters – almost all of whom were in fact male.
It is claimed that the term discriminates against women and should be replaced by “classic artists”.
I can see them working. Michaelangelo and REO Speedwagon are two peas in the same artistic pod.
The list of banned words was written by the British Sociological Association, whose members include dozens of professors, lecturers and researchers.
The list of allegedly racist words includes immigrants, developing nations and black, while so-called “disablist” terms include patient, the elderly and special needs.
It comes after one council outlawed the allegedly sexist phrase “man on the street”,
In order to facilitate the removal of this term from the English language, men living in or visiting this particular location won’t be allowed on the streets.
and another banned staff from saying “brainstorm” in case it offended people with epilepsy.
An aside. Although I don’t officially have epilepsy, I have been treated for what is known as a seizure disorder ever since I was 18. I had one seizure in 1973 and I still have an irregular EEG that could theoretically prompt another.
I have been taking phenobarbital for the situation ever since. I find the idea that I might be insulted by the word “brainstorm” to be one of the stupidest ideas in the entire history of the human race and I believe that the people who conceived such a singularly idiotic notion are wastes of perfectly good oxygen.
But I mean that in a good way. To continue.
The list of racist terms features black, which “can be used in a racist sense” and should be changed to “black peoples” or “black communities”.
I’m screwed. Webster Groves High School’s colors are orange and [TERM THAT CAN BE USED IN A RACIST SENSE] and the University of Missouri, one of my colleges, wears uniforms of [TERM THAT CAN BE USED IN A RACIST SENSE] and gold.
Immigrants is said to have “racist overtones” because of its association with “immigration legislation”,
Those of you named Jim are going to have to have your first name legally changed. Jim Crow, doncha know.
while developing nations – intended as a more sensitive replacement for Third World – is “prejudical” because it implies a comparison with developed countries.
Although not included on the Policy Press list, the BSA warns authors against using civilisation because of its “racist overtones that derive from a colonialist perception of the world”.
Good call. Everybody knows that Great Britain and Papua New Guinea are basically interchangeable.
Among the “sexist” terms to be avoided are “seminal” and “disseminate” because they are derived from the word semen and supposedly imply a male-dominated view of the world.
I have to give these people this much credit. They certainly aren’t niggardly with the stupidity.
Authors are also told to “avoid using medical labels” when writing about disabled people as this “may promote a view of them as patients”.
What are you supposed to call disabled people who have to go to the hospital for something?
In addition, the list says “special needs” should be changed to “additional needs”, “patient” to “person” and “the elderly” to “older people”.
Stan Freberg. Prophet. And I guess calling a patient a “sick” person would be out since sick people would be insulted by being judged by some discriminatory “perfect health” standard.
“Able-bodied person” should be replaced with “non-disabled person”, it is claimed.
Except if “non-disabled persons” have to go to the hospital in which case they are to be referred to as “bed-warmers.”
Posted by Christopher Johnson | Wednesday, September 24th, 2008 | Uncategorized | 51 Comments
The idea is still a longshot but I suppose the question must be asked. Is Rowan Williams thinking hard about Rome?
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, was today branded a ‘papal puppet’ after he became the first leader of the Church of England to accept visions of the Virgin Mary at Lourdes as historical fact.
He asserted that 18 visions of Our Lady allegedly experienced by Bernadette Soubirous in 1858 were true.
His words shocked millions of Protestants worldwide because they not only signified a break with Protestant teaching on the Virgin Mary but also Dr Williams’s personal acceptance of the Catholic doctrine of the Immaculate Conception, which is explicitly linked to the apparitions.
The archbishop made his remarks during a three-day visit to the shrine in the French Pyrenees – the first ever by a leader of the Church of England.
In a homily he preached at an international Mass there, Dr Williams spoke about the apparitions without any qualifications.
‘When Mary came to Bernadette, she came at first as an anonymous figure, a beautiful lady, a mysterious “thing”, not yet identified as the Lord’s spotless mother,” Dr Williams said.
‘And Bernadette – uneducated, uninstructed in doctrine – leapt with joy, recognising that here was life, here was healing,’ he said.
‘Only bit by bit does Bernadette find the words to let the world know; only bit by bit, we might say, does she discover how to listen to the Lady and echo what she has to tell us.’
He also praised the lives of the saints, another devotion seen as distinctively Roman Catholic.
‘It may be when we encounter a person in whom we sense that the words we rather half-heartedly use about God are a living and actual reality,’ he said.
‘That’s why the lives of the saints, ancient and modern, matter so much.’
Two caveats must be kept in mind. This comes from the British press and the British record of understanding fine religious distinctions is not a good one. That and the fact that deciding what Rowan Williams means any time he says something is always a dicey proposition because it tends to change depending on his audience.
All that said, might Rowan Williams actually make the jump? I still seriously doubt it. Mainly because to do so would be to basically renouce every opinion he’s ever held, from The Issue to women’s ordination and all the rest of it.
I guess it’s possible; Saul of Tarsus and all that. But I don’t think it’s going to happen. This is a guy who calls himself an Anglo-Catholic talking. Nothing more.
Posted by Christopher Johnson | Wednesday, September 24th, 2008 | Uncategorized | 8 Comments
Find the David Booth Beers! Find the David Booth Beers!
There may also be raised at this meeting the question of whether consent to the deposition of a bishop who has been certified to have abandoned the Communion of this Church must be by a majority of bishops present at the meeting at which the matter is presented or, on the other hand, by a majority of all the voting members of the House whether or not in attendance. Canon IV.9(2) states that the vote to consent must, first, take place at a “regular or special meeting of the House” and, second, be “by a majority of the whole number of Bishops entitled to vote.” My Chancellor and the Parliamentarian of the House have both advised me that the canon means that the vote must be by a majority of all the bishops who are at the meeting at which the vote must be taken and who are entitled to vote.
All ya gotta do is find the David Booth Beers!
V. The phrase “majority of the whole number” in § 57-9(A) requires a majority vote of the whole number of “members” eligible to vote, whether or not they voted.
Me, I wonder why folks like A. S. Haley still bother to point this stuff out. Why does anyone think the Episcopal Organization will be swayed even a little bit by actual reason or similar trivialities? The Issue must be pushed forward to victory at all costs and the law be damned.
Episcopal law means whatever the Maximum Leader wants it to mean. Comrade Schori is the Episcopal Organization’s Supreme Court, if you like, so we can point out that liberal Episcopalians are liars and hypocrites until we are blue in the face and it will do us no good at all.
All the logic and precedent in the world will not change one basic fact. This game is rigged, we can’t win it and we never will.
Posted by Christopher Johnson | Tuesday, September 23rd, 2008 | Uncategorized | 16 Comments
Ruth Gledhill wonders who Katharine Jefferts Schori is really working for:
Last week Colin Bazley, former primate of the Southern Cone and now an assistant bishop in the Chester diocese, wrote an open letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury calling for the suspension of The Episcopal Church from the Anglican Communion and the creation of a new province for the conservatives. This was in response to the deposition of Bishop Bob Duncan of Pittsburgh, pictured here, and which we covered last week. This is not going to go away. Even though Dr Rowan Williams is not planning to comment and has instead headed of to Lourdes with several busloads of Anglican pilgrims, hoping no doubt for a miraculous healing for his church, six of his bishops have today put out their own statement of support for Bishop Duncan. And as we report, one of those bishops, Dr Michael Nazir-Ali of Rochester, has in an interview with me today repeated the call for a new province first made by the Gafcon leaders at their conference this summer. I’ve always held out the hope in my own heart that the split would not come this side of the Atlantic. But I’ve recently spent a little time with some extremely senior laypeople in the conservative moment. They are not ‘names’ familiar to the blogosphere. But it seems there can be little doubt. What has happened there will happen here. Expect property battles and more in years to come.
It has crossed my mind recently that Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori is secretly one of the “orthodox”. That can surely be the only reason that she has created a martyr who is now being venerated by evangelicals worldwide, and who is poised to become the sanctified leader of an orthodox movement that is demanding, and might well get, its own province.
Have we come so far from our Catholic tradition that we have forgotten the power of martyrdom, on which the Western church is built? Does no-one in TEC understand any more the meaning of sacrifice?
Because a martyr is what Bob Duncan now is. The Episcopal Church should not need a heretically catholic Anglican such as me to tell it that the next step up from martyrdom is sainthood. Bishop Duncan’s office has been inundated with emails, phonecalls and letters of supportm since the ill-advised deposition. Since Friday, he has had personal messages from six primates, including ++Anis and ++Chew, indicating their intention not to recognise the deposition and to support the Pittsburgh “remnant”. There have been all kinds of other ones as well from various bishops, clergy and laity all over the world. They are being catalogued on a new site, set up specially to venerate the deposed bishop.
And now in England, six bishops are pledging their support and saying they will continue to recognise him. Surely that is momentous enough to warrant an archiepiscopal comment? Or perhaps all pretence of episcopal collegiality has been abandoned.
Short response? Pretty much. Good that you’ve finally picked that up.
Ms. Gledhill is laboring under a bit of disadvantage. She thinks that people still care about whether the Anglican Communion and/or individual Anglican churches stay in one piece or not.
Dr. Williams knows that a split is coming or has happened already. He just doesn’t want it to officially happen on his watch, hence the complete waste of time that was the last Lambeth Conference.
For her part, Mrs. Schori cares about the Anglican Communion only insofar as it gives her and her minions an international forum and some Third World street cred. And since places like South Africa are wholly-owned TEO subsidiaries, she doesn’t even really need that.
She does care, first, foremost and every other kind of most, about The Issue. And she and her band of Entirely Secular Liberals Who Dress Funny On Sundays For Some Reason are not going to compromise on The Issue or even slighly slow it down simply to preserve some international Christian body that’s only a little more than a century old.
Glad I could help, Ruth.
Posted by Christopher Johnson | Tuesday, September 23rd, 2008 | Uncategorized | 4 Comments
Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah Fred Hiltz blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah Millennium Development Goals blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah:
Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah Millennium Development Goals blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah United Nations blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah Fred Hiltz blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah MDG’s blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah.
Posted by Christopher Johnson | Tuesday, September 23rd, 2008 | Uncategorized | 15 Comments
Your Iranian friends aren’t being very inclusive these days:
The Iranian parliament has passed the first reading of a bill that imposes the death penalty on Muslims who convert to another faith. By a vote of 196 to seven, with two abstentions, the Majlis passed the “Islamic Penal Law” bill on Sept 9
The law, which will now be referred to committee for final drafting and possible amendment, mandates the death penalty for male adult Muslims who convert to another faith. Women converts are to be jailed for life. Those who practice witchcraft will also be condemned to death.
And now for the punchline:
The law’s reach extends beyond the borders of Iran, and gives the government the authority to enforce the death penalty on any Muslim anywhere in the world who leaves the faith.
You and Mo Shea might want to discuss it with them during your next trip there, John.
Posted by Christopher Johnson | Tuesday, September 23rd, 2008 | Uncategorized | 3 Comments
Washington DC’s Episcopal pointy-hat John Chane is all for feeding the hungry and sheltering the homeless, mind you. As long as it’s not…as long as that element doesn’t get to…well, you know:
Posted by Christopher Johnson | Tuesday, September 23rd, 2008 | Uncategorized | 6 Comments
Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah Rowan Williams blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah Millennium Development Goals blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah:
Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah Millennium Development Goals blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah Katharine Jefferts Schori blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah United Nations blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah John Sentamu blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah St. John the Divine blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah.