Archive for November, 2008


Posted by Christopher Johnson | Sunday, November 30th, 2008 | Uncategorized | 28 Comments

And Mr. Stanley Zimmerman of Whiting, Indiana quickly surges into an early lead in this year’s World’s Greatest Episcopalian competition:

United we stand; divided we fall: As an Episcopalian by choice, I’m appalled by those who would leave this union of intellectual, thinking believers, to associate with purveyors of a legalistic theology.  Would one trade the “New York Times” for the “National Enquirer;” the “New Yorker” for a comic book?

Wow.  It’s hard to see how Episcopalianism can possibly be done any better than that.  Concise and brilliantly contemptuous; sir, I am in awe.  As the St. Louis Rams’ radio announcer said a lot back in 1999, “You won’t catch him today!”


Posted by Christopher Johnson | Sunday, November 30th, 2008 | Uncategorized | 12 Comments

What the heck, nobody else is covering the place:

The 4th International Conference on Gross National Happiness began in the capital yesterday. More than 90 participants from 25 countries are participating in the three day conference. The Prime Minister Lyonchhen Jigmi Y. Thinley graced the opening of the conference.

Addressing the participants at the opening, the Prime Minister Lyonchhen Jigmi Y. Thinley said the conference is taking place at a time when Bhutan is celebrating three significant events; the centenary celebration of the monarchy, the coronation of His Majesty Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck and the successful institution of parliamentary democracy in the country.

The conference, he said, is a special celebration of the timeless gift of GNH by His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo not only to the Bhutanese people but to the human society in general. He said the conference is one of the most important and meaningful activities of the centenary celebrations.

The Prime Minister said it’s encouraging to see the aspects of GNH being implemented in communities around the world.

During the three day conference, participants will present papers on themes related to GNH including psychology, environment, community relations, education, health, living standard, governance, culture, time use and economy, and their indicators.

Later, His Majesty granted conference participants an audience.  But what, you may be asking, exactly is Gross National Happiness?  This right here is what Gross National Happiness is.

Gross National Happiness (GNH) is an attempt to define quality of life in more holistic and psychological terms than Gross National Product.

The term was coined by Bhutan’s former King Jigme Singye Wangchuck in 1972 in response to criticism that his economy was growing poorly. It signaled his commitment to building an economy that would serve Bhutan’s unique culture based on Buddhist spiritual values. Like many moral goals, it is somewhat easier to state than to define. Nonetheless, it serves as a unifying vision for the Five Year planning process and all the derived planning documents that guide the economic and development plans of the country.

While conventional development models stress economic growth as the ultimate objective, the concept of GNH claims to be based on the premise that true development of human society takes place when material and spiritual development occur side by side to complement and reinforce each other. The four pillars of GNH are the promotion of equitable and sustainable socio-economic development, preservation and promotion of cultural values, conservation of the natural environment, and establishment of good governance.

‘Kay.  Rest assured that if you already smell a leftist Episcopal sermon coming on, you’re not even close to being alone.


Posted by Christopher Johnson | Sunday, November 30th, 2008 | Uncategorized | 8 Comments

Captain Yips demonstrates why the “inside strategy” is a waste of time:

In short, I don’t think that the Inside Strategy can work, not on it’s own.  It’s been tried for almost 50 years and has record of failure unblemished by success.  It might, however, succeed if the Common Cause Partnership succeeds.  The combination of inside and outside pressure might crumble the entire rotten edifice.  I cannot see how the Innies could prevail on their own:  half a century ago, when their predecessors were in the majority, they could not resist the well organized revolutionaries.  I can’t see prospect for another outcome now.


Posted by Christopher Johnson | Saturday, November 29th, 2008 | Uncategorized | 48 Comments

Charles Alley would really like all us Anglican conservatives to calm down:

From my early experience with the AAC, and later the Network, the goal was clearly nothing short of reforming TEC. That is a noble goal and, when recognized as one’s vocation, should be pursued without reservation. Such a goal also demands periodic progress checks and adjustment of strategies in order to keep the goal viable in the face of changing circumstances. Ultimately, when the institution proves to be incapable of reformation, the only choice is to separate and attempt to influence the situation by parallel development. What I mean by parallel development is that an alternative institutional model is developed which will succeed where the former model fails, and thereby, ultimately replace it. Hence, the formation of a new province in North American Anglicanism is a natural result of the attempt to reform TEC.

Such a strategy is incoherent for those who have as their vocation the call to remain in TEC. It is not that the members of this group are against the formation of a new province, or doubt the sincerity of those forming it, but rather it is not a logical alternative for those who have a call to stay. Perhaps the difference lies in the goal to which they are called. Some conservative voices do not see as their vocation the reformation of TEC. Rather, the call is recognized as to stand as a witness to the truth in the midst of the theological chaos. They are called simply to be the Church and provide an alternative model of doing church within TEC. In this way these parishes can provide a witness to what the Church is meant to be so that TEC might have the opportunity to see what it has become.

The brewing conflict between Common Cause Partners and Communion Partner Bishops and Rectors is the result of a lack of communication between the two groups. The former group has not heard the Communion Partners’ articulation of their call, which is to remain in TEC as a witness. The assumption has been that they have the mutual goal of reforming the church. Because of this assumption, it has been widely stated that the Communion Partners Plan is a “non-starter,” or that the Communion Partners will have “no alternative” but to join the new province once it is formed. When one substitutes the goal of being a witness for that of reforming the church, it becomes obvious that joining a new province is not an alternative at all. In fact, joining a new province would be an act of disobedience for those who are called by God to remain as a witness.

Brad Drell is unimpressed.

So, the new inside strategy is no longer reformation of TEC, but to remain as a witness. A witness to what and to whom? A witness of Christ to folks who have abandoned the faith? So that “TEC might have the opportunity to see what it has become?” Come on, they know what they are becoming.

With all due respect to Father Alley, this is all starting to seem like a big waste of time, a grasping at straws to find a reason not to leave the Episcopal Church and thereby hold onto buildings and pension funds. Now, I am being a bit harsh to Fr. Alley, here, inasmuch as I understand that church is supposed to be a safe place in the world and not another war zone in the culture wars. But, we didn’t turn the church into a cultural war zone – they did – and staying in TEC is staying in the war zone.

Moreover, the Common Cause Partnership is not going to respect the position of the Communion Partners movement for selling out the goal of reforming TEC. As I read Fr. Alley’s statement, he’s essentially telling conservatives like me that, well, TEC is unreformable, but we aren’t going to do anything about it. We’re just going to go about being the church in TEC as much as we can. This is the new “inside strategy.” The problem is that this isn’t a strategy; it is a capitulation.

Charity is always and everywhere called for toward those with whom we agree as well as those with whom we disagree.  But so is honesty; as the Lord reminded us, our yes should be yes and our no should be no.

Does that occasionally lead to overly harsh language here and other places?  Yes and I don’t exempt myself from that charge.  But if out of fear of giving offense or saying the wrong thing, you refuse to confront your brother about his drinking problem, then you don’t love your brother.

The simple fact of the matter is that the goals of the Communion Partners and the goals of the Common Cause Partnership are irreconcilable and no amount of “communication” will change that.  While yammering for the sake of yammering is a time-honored Anglican tradition, there comes a time to face reality.

If both sides now agree that the Episcopal Organization is beyond reform, then a new province becomes a logical necessity while refusing to associate with one becomes an evasion.  How can Alley or anyone else justify remaining connected to an organization they think is irredeemable? 

The Communion Partners wish to remain in TEO as a “witness?”  A witness, Drell rightly wants to know, to what?  “So that TEC might have the opportunity to see what it has become?”  I’ve got some bad news for the Communion Partners and anyone else practicing the “inside strategy.” 

TEO likes what it has become. 

And if 2003, 2006 and what will no doubt happen next year do not convince the dwindling number of Episcopal conservatives of that, nothing ever will.  If the Communion Partners and other inside strategists don’t see the need for a new province after next year’s General Convention, then they love the institution far too much. 

Besides, walking away is a far more Biblically-sanctioned witness anyway.  After all, Christ didn’t tell the Twelve to save the dust of their feet when they left places that refused to receive the Truth.


Posted by Christopher Johnson | Friday, November 28th, 2008 | Uncategorized | 19 Comments

Missouri Episcopal Bishop George Wayne Smith is a lot of things but one of the things George Wayne Smith is most emphatically not is stupid.  Unlike his Presiding Bishop, George knows perfectly well that the Episcopal Organization in general and the Diocese of Missouri in particular are in deep trouble:

In a time when the Episcopal Church is in persistent decline, what is God asking of us the Church in the Diocese of Missouri?

The first of these questions requires little explanation for anyone paying attention to the news these days. The second, however, begs some background. So here are some numbers.

In 2007, the five-year decline and ten-year decline in average Sunday attendance for the whole Church were at 13 percent and 14 percent, respectively. Those are astounding numbers. The decline is steep, and one lasting this long with such unchanging rates will have become endemic.

Notice that there was the same rate of decline in the years before General Convention 2003 as it was afterward; the controversial decisions of 2003 can hardly be “the cause” of the decline. It is something deeper.

The number-crunchers, in fact, tell us that the roots of this decline go back at least fifty years. In the Diocese of Missouri, our ten-year decline is 6%, and our five-year decline is 2%, and statistically stable in the past few years. These numbers are markedly better than those of the whole Church, but they are hardly sustainable.

The fact that these numbers in Missouri give us the fourth best of any diocese in the Church is itself nothing less than sobering. A decline, and still fourth best—that’s embarrassing.

What should the Episcopal Organization in general and the Diocese of Missouri in particular do about this, George?

My provisional answer is this: Go deeper. And go outside.

The instinctive answer might be to turn inward, to get our own house in order before engaging in anything beyond ourselves. Wrong.

I believe that the movements to go deeper, and go outside, are but two parts of a single movement, mutually sustaining. The deepening of true prayer, both communal and personal, will result in mission; the work of mission, in turn will convert us, deepen our spiritual awareness. It is that missional spirituality which truly interests me.

God’s mission in the world is to reconcile all things and all people, through Jesus Christ. The more anxious the times, the more we need in this Diocese to participate in that mission. This missio Dei—God’s project, as many theologians translate that Latin phrase—is the answer to what ails us.

Meaning what?  Reaching out.

But going there and forming a strange little missionary community did something to us also. And seventeen more people came back to Missouri with the mission bug, for the sake of their communities.

The next step, as I see it, is to find a place within the borders of this Diocese for the work of mission together–one close by, one that is where we live. It is not a choice between mission far off and mission close by; one simply builds upon the other, and both are necessary.

As far as I can tell from the Journals, the work of the Church in that era focused almost entirely beyond itself, which was a matter of mission and not program. And it happened by way of personal and corporate sacrifice.

New Churches were planted. Deaconesses went into regions of southeast Missouri, to start congregations there and to minister to those in material need, making sacrifices themselves in order to do so.

Rural poverty became a pressing concern, as did matters of racial justice, both in St. Louis and beyond. It was a pretty lively and interesting Church. Recruiting clergy, to Missouri, capable clergy, was not difficult during these hard times, because this Diocese was such a fascinating place to be.

And as far as I can tell, any time the Church remains so focused beyond itself, it will thrive. Whenever it turns in on itself, danger lurks. Mission is the lifeblood of the Church.

That it is.  But what are you going to reach out with, George?  How are you going to get folks in the door?  With free coffee and Danish, by the sound of it.

Then there was the time in Mark’s gospel, when Jesus journeyed into the land of Tyre and Sidon, a creepy, foreign place just next door to his home country, but the kind of place to make a pious Galilean hyper-ventilate.

In truth, pious Galileans would not go into Tyre and Sidon at all, there being Gentile people and all their nauseating Gentile stuff.

But look at Jesus, crossing over into another place, a place where he is not at home, a land of risk and adventure and of “the other.” There he meets a local woman, that Syrophoenician woman. The encounter was transforming for the woman, and not coincidentally, it was transforming for Jesus, who learned some things about himself and his mission that he had not known before.

It happened precisely through that movement which took Jesus beyond his comfort zone, and into a place to encounter “the other.”

Good luck with your missionary endeavors, George.  But when one considers that Jesus had a pretty good idea of what His “mission” was when He was twelve years old, faced down Satan, healed the sick again and again, ordered the weather around and raised three people from the dead, one is a bit confused by the idea that God Incarnate has a “comfort zone” or has anything to learn from anybody at all.

Unless, of course, you don’t really believe in any of that ridiculous “miracle” stuff.  If you think Jesus of Nazareth was nothing more than some first-century Jewish sage whose teachings happened to catch on, then George’s Jesus makes sense.

The problem with all that is why Jesus should be singled out.  The ancient world was full of people whose ideas are eminently worthy of emulation and study.  Aristotle was one of the greatest minds the world has ever known.  Marcus Aurelius was the most important Roman this side of Cicero.  And honesty compels us to admit that many of the precepts attributed to Mohammed are entirely praiseworthy.

What’s the difference?  The difference is simple.

All of those people are dead. 

Jesus is alive.

And live Saviors who died to give us a way to eternal life mean WAY more than dead smart guys whose ideas have a political use or social cachet these days, George.  FYI.

Why do you seek the living among the dead?


Posted by Christopher Johnson | Thursday, November 27th, 2008 | Uncategorized | 32 Comments

Vous parlez au bureau du Saint-siège.  Usted está hablando a la oficina de la Santa Sede.  Sie sprechen mit dem Büro des Heiligen Stuhls.  You are speaking to the office of the Holy See. 

Pour parler à quelqu’un en français, presse 1.  Para hablar alguien en español, prensa 2.  Zu mit jemand auf Deutsch sprechen, Presse 3.  To speak to someone in English, press 4…”


“Holy See.”

“Hello, my name is Katharine Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church of the United States of America and I’d like to speak with the Vatican Secretary of State.”

“What would be the purpose of this call?”

“I would like to arrange a meeting between myself and His Holiness.  I feel that the meeting between two important religious leaders would send a clear message to the world that…”

“Who would be the other religious leader besides the Holy Father?”


“I see.  All visits with the Holy Father must be arranged by letter sent to…”

“Well, you see, I tried that and got no answer.  I kept getting the run-around, almost as if my letters were routed other places or something.”

“I’m terribly sorry about that.  You know how inefficient the Vatican Postal Service can be.”

“I’d heard it was one of the finest in the world.”

“It’s gone downhill lately.  But hang on and I’ll see if I can connect you.”

“Thank you.  ‘Tall and tan and young and lovely, the girl from Ipanema goes walking…'”

Vous parlez au bureau de tourisme de Saint-siège.  Usted está hablando a la oficina de turismo de Santa Sede.  Sie sprechen mit dem heiliger Stuhl-touristischen Büro.  State parlando all’ufficio turistico della sedia santa.  You are speaking to the Holy See Tourist Office.

Pour parler à quelqu’un en français, presse 1.  Para hablar alguien en español, prensa 2.  Zu mit jemand auf Deutsch sprechen, Presse 3.  Per per parlare a qualcuno in italiano, pressa 4.  To speak to someone in English, press 5…”

[4] “Oh, crap!!”

Che cosa avete detto, signora?”

“I pressed the wrong key.”

Che cosa?”

“Oh for crying out loud, how does it go?  Ho…premuto…il  tasto…er…errato.  And I’m not trying to arrange a trip, I’m trying to talk to the…listen, do you have anyone there who speaks English?”


“Yes…sì, sì.”

Un momento, signora.”

“‘Tall and tan and young and lovely, the girl from Ipanema goes walking…'”


“Hello, this is Katharine Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church of the United States of America.  To whom am I speaking?”

“To me.”

“And who are…what might…your name be?”

“Howard Fabermeyer.”

“And what is your position with the Vatican?”

“My goodness, I’m not connected to the Vatican in any way.  Mrs. Fabermeyer and I are Baptists.”

“Then why am I talking to you?”

“I don’t know.  This nice fellow here at the Tourist Office told me that some woman needed to talk to someone who could speak English.”

“Mr. Fabermeyer, this is costing me a lot of money…”

“See, my wife and I had just stopped in for some maps.  What with the farm in WaKeeney and all, Mrs. Fabermeyer and I have never traveled much.  A weekend in Topeka now and then, Kansas City if Mrs. Fabermeyer’s feeling particularly frisky.

“Mr. Fabermeyer, I really don’t…”

“But what with winning the Kansas lottery and all, we figured why not?  I’m retired and only run the farm part-time now anyway and Mrs. Fabermeyer’s always wanted to see Europe.  Rome sure has been interesting, gosh darn it, what with all their history and empire and pasta and such.”

CLICK!!  Dialdialdial…

Vous parlez au bureau du Saint-siège. Usted está hablando a la oficina de la Santa Sede.. Sie sprechen mit dem Büro des heiligen Stuhls. State parlando all’ufficio della Santa Sede. You are speaking to the office of the Holy See.

Notre menu a changé satisfont ainsi prêtent l’attention. Nuestro menú ha cambiado satisface tan presta la atención. Unser Menü hat gefallen so zahlen Aufmerksamkeit geändert. Il nostro menu è cambiato così soddisfa presta attenzione. Our menu has changed so please pay attention.

Se você deseja falar a alguém no português, a imprensa 1.  Εάν επιθυμείτε να μιλήσετε σε κάποιο στα ελληνικά, Τύπος 2.  Als u om aan iemand in het Nederlands wenst te spreken, pers 3.  Поговорить к кто-то в русском, давление 4.”

Oh for the love of…

“If you wish to speak to someone in English, press 26.”


“Holy See.”

“Look, this is Katharine Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church of the United States of America!  I’ve been trying to contact the Vatican Secretary of State to arrange a visit between myself and His Holiness!”

“Oh yes, we spoke before.”

“I KNOW we spoke before, a-hole!!  I haven’t gotten through yet, okay?!!  I’ve talked to the Vatican Tourist Office and some idiot from Kansas and I’ve just about HAD IT!!

“I’m terribly sorry, Bishop Schori.  We’ve been having all kinds of trouble with our new voice mail system.  The Holy Father’s furious about it.  Please remain on the line and I’ll put you right through to the Office of the Secretary of State.”

“In English?”

“Certainly, Bishop.”

“Thank you.  Thank you very much.  ‘Tall and tan and young and lovely, the girl from Ipanema goes walking…'”

“Hello.  You have reached the Office of the Vatican Secretary of State.  The Secretary of State is not in his office at the present time.  Please leave your name, telephone number and a detailed message and the Secretary will get back to you as soon as he can.”



Posted by Christopher Johnson | Wednesday, November 26th, 2008 | Uncategorized | 11 Comments

On days like this, these blog deals can be a bit tough.  Everybody’s either on their way some place else or has shut it down for a few days so there’s really not much going on.  Add to this the fact that the Editor doesn’t get off his library job until 9:00 PM and the place is basically empty right now.  So with that in mind, I give you Katharine Jefferts Schori translated from English to Japanese and from Japanese back to English:

The American saintly public meeting makes starting the person of some person from main teaching region of the castle stronghold grieve. Value. We make remember to Episcopalians before those of the thing which the door where they probably would like to return opens. As for us Episcopalians of main teaching region of fort worth it chooses new leadership, it uses in order the work of good news of the part of that of Texas to continue. Yes Christ us request many theology, the effort where the faithful people from the social prospect are best as for work, and the American saintly public meeting of the good news which is called continues to welcome the variety.


Posted by Christopher Johnson | Wednesday, November 26th, 2008 | Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Does this sound familiar?

Dr Justin Barrett, a senior researcher at the University of Oxford’s Centre for Anthropology and Mind, claims that young people have a predisposition to believe in a supreme being because they assume that everything in the world was created with a purpose.

He says that young children have faith even when they have not been taught about it by family or at school, and argues that even those raised alone on a desert island would come to believe in God.

“The preponderance of scientific evidence for the past 10 years or so has shown that a lot more seems to be built into the natural development of children’s minds than we once thought, including a predisposition to see the natural world as designed and purposeful and that some kind of intelligent being is behind that purpose,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

“If we threw a handful on an island and they raised themselves I think they would believe in God.”

In a lecture to be given at the University of Cambridge’s Faraday Institute on Tuesday, Dr Barrett will cite psychological experiments carried out on children that he says show they instinctively believe that almost everything has been designed with a specific purpose.  

Dr Barrett claimed anthropologists have found that in some cultures children believe in God even when religious teachings are withheld from them.  

It should:

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse.


Posted by Christopher Johnson | Tuesday, November 25th, 2008 | Uncategorized | 12 Comments

Is the hammer about to be dropped on the Southern Cone?

A conservative province in the Anglican church faces “punishment” this week for offering a safe haven to conservatives.

Senior bishops and laity meeting in London are to consider suspending the Anglican church in South America for taking rebel US dioceses under its wing.

In a further indication that the liberals are winning the Anglican wars, The Episcopal Church of the US, which was suspended at a previous meeting, is expected to be welcomed back into the fold after sticking by its pledge not to consecrate any more gay bishops.

The Latin American Province of the Southern Cone headed by English-born bishop, the Most Rev Gregory Venables, has aroused the fury of liberal primates after a fourth US diocese voted to leave The Episcopal Church and realign with it.

The penalty being considered against the Southern Cone, which has 22,000 members in Argentina and surrounding nations, includes the removal of voting rights at the forthcoming meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council, the central governing body of the Anglican Communion, in Jamaica next May.

Is there anything to this story?  Not much says a commenter at Stand Firm.

Take a deep breath, folks. This story is way overblown. No one is going to be able to deprive the Southern Cone of a voice and vote at the next ACC meeting.

1. First, as to membership. The ACC Constitution provides that the PSC is a member, and Art. 3 requires, as we know by now, a two-thirds vote of all the Primates “to alter or add to the schedule” of membership. No matter how much TEC and its allies might wish it, they are not going to be able to kick the PSC off the membership schedule.

2. Next, as to vote. Section 6.1 of the ACC Guidelines states: “Only members of the council shall be entitled to vote on business before the council.” Section 7.2 provides: “The Council may at any time with the consent of the Standing Committee revoke, amend, or supplement these guidelines or any part of them for the better conduct of the business of the council.” I doubt whether the power to “revoke, amend or supplement” would include the power to deprive a duly constituted member of its right to vote—remember that at Nottingham in 2005, the Primates had made only a request of TEC and ACoC that they “voluntarily withdraw” their representatives from the Council.

So the most that will happen is that a majority of the Primates might make such a request, and ++Venables can politely decline to do as they request. 

I think what happened is that TEC and ACoC were just asking ++Rowan to let ++Venables have a little of the medicine they were handed in 2005, and the request was leaked by someone who wanted it leaked to hit the news cycle before the meeting in Wheaton next week.

That sounds about right.  I find it hard to believe that Dr. Williams would support something that would probably bring on the very split he says he wants to avoid.  That split may be inevitable anyway but I can’t see my gracious lord of Canterbury deliberately bringing it on.


Posted by Christopher Johnson | Tuesday, November 25th, 2008 | Uncategorized | 26 Comments

Episcopal News Service?  I don’t to alarm you or anything but some of the folks in the pews are starting to become somewhat reluctant to buy what you’re selling:

So out of three congregations, 20 people showed up?  Wow … what a demonstration of support, what a sustaining affirmation of the direction the Episcopal Church is taking. My grandmother regularly hosted more people for holiday dinners. She would have been embarrassed to have it covered by a reporter … which is how Episcopal Life Online should feel about having reported on this.


Posted by Christopher Johnson | Monday, November 24th, 2008 | Uncategorized | 7 Comments

New England desecrates the corpse of the Anglican Communion some more:

A Province I task force has issued “a pastoral resource for Province I Episcopal clergy ministering to same-sex couples.” The document is the first of its kind in the Episcopal Church.

The report was accepted at the Province I synod held November 21 at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Concord, New Hampshire with a resolution stating that its “use is to be determined by diocesan bishops.”

The document consists of four parts: an historical and theological overview of same-gender unions; an exploration of issues specific to same-gender couples and their congregations; a statement of legalities, which vary from state-to-state; and a framework for counseling same-gender couples who desire a public commitment. An appendix of websites, books, documents and other resources is also included in the report.


Posted by Christopher Johnson | Monday, November 24th, 2008 | Uncategorized | 12 Comments

Some woman in New York said some things about some stuff:

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori on November 21 inhibited Diocese of Fort Worth Bishop Jack Iker for abandoning the communion of the Episcopal Church.

In the text of the inhibition, the Presiding Bishop wrote that “I hereby inhibit the said Bishop Iker and order that from and after 5:00 CST Friday, November 21, 2008, he cease from exercising the gifts of the ordained ministry of this Church; and pursuant to Canon IV.15, I order him from and after that time to cease all ‘Episcopal, ministerial, and canonical acts, except as relate to the administration of the temporal affairs of the Diocese of Fort Worth,’ until this Inhibition is terminated pursuant to Canon IV.9(2) or superseded by decision of the House of Bishops.”

For his part, Bishop Iker thanked the woman, whoever she is, for the compliment but since he does not consider himself an artist, wondered just what of his that she was planning to exhibit.

Katharine Jefferts Schori has no authority over me or my ministry as a Bishop in the Church of God. She never has, and she never will.

Since November 15, 2008, both the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth and I as the Diocesan Bishop have been members of the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone. As a result, canonical declarations of the Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church pertaining to us are irrelevant and of no consequence.

While the Fort Worth Standing Committee declared of its own volition that it denied without precondition the proposition of granting permission for the imposition of this proposition.  In addition, it demanded, with much erudition, prohibition of this woman’s foreign mission, whatever her predisposition. 

The Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth is a member of the Province of the Southern Cone as of November 15, 2008. Bishop Iker is a member in good standing of the House of Bishops of the Province of the Southern Cone.

We wonder by what authority the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church in the United States presumes to inhibit a bishop of the Province of the Southern Cone. We do not recognize the authority of the Presiding Bishop over us. We regret this illegal, unconstitutional, and uncanonical attempt to interfere with the rights and ministry of a diocese of another province of the Anglican Communion. We call upon her to desist from any further actions in our diocese and that she refrain from any further border crossing.

By definition.

UPDATE: Not that this is a surprise or matters in the slightest in the long run but George Conger observes that this woman is making canon law up as she goes along.

Bishop Schori’s inhibition of Bishop Iker also appears to have introduced a new interpretation of the disciplinary canons for bishops. The requirement that the church’s three senior bishops endorse the inhibition of a bishop—which had been deemed irrelevant to the case against Pittsburgh Bishop Robert Duncan in September—has been reinstated in the case of Bishop Iker.


Posted by Christopher Johnson | Sunday, November 23rd, 2008 | Uncategorized | 36 Comments

The Episcopal Diocese of Missouri just completed its convention and the following resolutions seem to have passed(if you have information to the contrary, let me know in the comments).  First off, Sudan gets put on double secret probation:

BE IT RESOLVED that this 169th Convention of the Diocese of Missouri affirms its commitment to work toward the inclusion of all the baptized, including gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people, in the whole sacramental life of the Episcopal Church. We also affirm our commitment to strengthening relationships among the Churches of the Anglican Communion, and therefore, despite the sometimes painful differences with Archbishop Daniel of Sudan in our understandings of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, resolve to renew and strengthen our relationship with the Diocese of Lui so that each may come to a better understanding of the other.

On July 28, 2008, at the Lambeth Conference, the Episcopal Church of Sudan issued a statement over the signature of The Most Reverend Daniel Deng Bul. In the statement, the ECS “strongly oppose developments within the Anglican Church in the USA and Canada in consecrating a practicing homosexual as bishop and in approving a rite for the blessing of same-sex relationships.” In a press conference following the release of the statement, Archbishop Daniel suggested that Bishop Gene Robinson should resign for the sake of unity within the Anglican Communion.

In the days immediately after this press release and conference, a number of people in the Diocese of Missouri called for the Diocese to terminate its companion relationship with the Diocese of Lui. While many in the Diocese of Missouri were hurt by the press release and Archbishop Daniel’s comments, and particularly because many of us had broken bread with the Archbishop, we do not believe that ending our relationship with Lui is an appropriate step to take. For one thing, it would appear as if we had been disingenuously trying to buy influence with our relationship. More importantly, we cannot afford to do without the gifts we receive from our fellow Christians in Sudan.

On the other hand, we do not want it to appear by our choosing to stay in relationship with the Diocese of Lui that we in any way devalue the life and ministry of the gay and lesbian Christians in our midst. We must hold the gifts of the gays and lesbians among us and the gifts of our brothers and sisters in Lui of equal value. By staying in relationship with our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters and our brothers and sisters in Lui, we believe we are witnessing to the best traditions of Anglicanism in valuing unity in diversity, and seeking reconciliation.

Translation: since you’re Africans, we’ll let it slide this time.  But insult homosexuals again and we’ll “value African gifts” a whole lot less if you know what we mean and we really hope you do.  Next, Missouri joins the anti-B033 parade. 

BE IT RESOLVED that this 169th Convention of the Diocese of Missouri affirms the following resolution and hereby submits it for consideration by the 76th General Convention of The Episcopal Church:

Resolved, that the 76th General Convention of The Episcopal Church regrets the discrimination against some candidates for the episcopate expressed in Resolution B033 of the 75th General Convention (2006) and the hurt and alienation felt by some because of that discrimination, and be it further

Resolved, that the 76th General Convention of The Episcopal Church rejects the interpretation of that resolution made by the House of Bishops at its meeting in September 2007.

The rationale for Resolution B033 of the 75th General Convention (2006) was to exercise self-restraint and thereby demonstrate a willingness to consult with the rest of the Anglican Communion about controversial decisions.

Laudable as the intent was, it has not achieved the goal of healing and reconciliation. Even the Executive Council, in its Resolution NAC026 at the fall meeting at Dearborn, Michigan, affirmed that the “broader impact” of B033 has been to discourage “the full participation by gay and lesbian persons in the life of the Church and enshrine discrimination in the policies of the Episcopal Church.”

At New Orleans in September 2007, the House of Bishops “proclaim[ed] the Gospel that in Christ all God’s children, including gay and lesbian persons, are full and equal participants in the life of Christ’s Church.” The Bishops then created an added requirement of celibacy for candidates for the episcopate, but only for some: “The House acknowledges that non-celibate gay and lesbian persons are included among those to whom B033 pertains.” Clearly this contradicts the meaning of “full and equal participants”. In the ministries of the Church, if heterosexual celibacy is not required and homosexuals are full and equal participants, then this is an unjustly discriminatory extra-canonical rule.

Missouri’s got no problems with homosexual bishops.

BE IT RESOLVED that this 169th Convention of the Diocese of Missouri submits the following resolution for consideration by the 76th General Convention of The Episcopal Church:

Resolved, that this Church supports and upholds persons in same-gender committed relationships of enduring love, mutuality, and fidelity, and be it further

Resolved, that the term “sexual orientation” in Title III, Canon 1, Section 2, shall protect all persons from denial of access to the discernment process for any ministry, lay or ordained, in this Church solely on the basis of being in such a relationship.

The point of the resolution is to make clear that the anti-discrimination protection applies across the spectrum of ministry: to laity, to deacons, to priests, and to bishops. The point is also to recognize and support the blessedness of God’s presence in same-gender committed relation-ships of enduring love, mutuality, and fidelity by preventing the imposition of extra-canonical restraints upon those in such relationships.

What the hell.  Let’s hit for the cycle, shall we?

BE IT RESOLVED that this 169th Convention of the Diocese of Missouri submits the following resolution for consideration by the 76th General Convention of The Episcopal Church:

Resolved, that the Ecclesiastical Authority of each diocese may authorize for use in the diocese liturgies for blessing same-gender committed relationships of enduring love, mutuality, and fidelity; and be it further

Resolved, that the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music be charged with development of liturgies of blessing for same-gender commitments to be presented to the next triennial General Convention in 2012 for inclusion in “Book of Occasional Services”; and be it further

Resolved, that, with respect to such blessings, no bishop or clergy of this Church or any other person acting on behalf of this Church shall be required or expected to perform an act contrary to a deeply-held position of conscience.

The House of Bishops, in its September 2007 statement, vowed not to allow same-gender blessings “until General Convention takes further action”. This resolution proposes such action.

Just as the relationship of a man and a woman is sanctified in marriage by the Church, the blessing of a same-gender couple will set a similar standard with respect to fidelity and life-long commitment. This kind of pastoral ministry is sorely missing in the lives of GLBT people. It is a contradiction that this Church will bless a same-gender couple’s pet and the home in which they live, but not their relationship. This resolution is not intended to treat blessing same-gender relationships as if such blessing is the sacramental rite of Marriage or a new sixth sacramental rite. It is intended to recognize God’s presence and to celebrate unity in the lives of the couple.

The “conscience” clause is intended to protect those who have deeply-seated reservations about such blessings. Its effect is to make this blessing an available option, but not a required observance[For now – Ed.]. The clause applies to all clergy, as well as other servers such as church musicians, chalice bearers, etc.

None of this is a surprise since, because of the dominance of the St. Louis parishes, Missouri is one of the more radical Episcopal dioceses.  It’s not Newark by any stretch of the imagination but it’s as close as the Midwest gets.  So it further validates the position of some of us here that accomodation with these people simply for the sake of institutional unity is a fool’s errand.


Posted by Christopher Johnson | Saturday, November 22nd, 2008 | Uncategorized | 28 Comments

World’s first pregnant fake Catholic priest(I used the word “priest” there, Prof, because “world’s first pregnant fake Catholic priestess” would be redundant and I don’t want my English teacher mother glaring down at me from heaven, thank you very much) gives birth to bouncing baby fake Catholic:

According to the Women’s Ordination Council, a St. Louis woman has become the world’s first Catholic priest to give birth.

Ever since Jessica Rowley can remember, she’s had a strong sense of her Roman Catholic identity. From her confirmation, to Catholic youth conferences, to her Jesuit education at Marquette University, she has always been devoted to her faith.

“The Women’s Ordination Council has claimed that I’m the first Catholic priest, the first woman Catholic priest to give birth. That is a huge claim and something bigger then me,” Rowley said.

The Rowleys said their baby, Finn Michael, was born at 8:38 p.m. Wednesday evening. Finn weighed eight pounds, 11 ounces, and was 21 inches long. They have plans to baptize the boy in both churches.

Well of course they do.  I could make some points about the inevitable stupidity of the story but that’s pretty much a given in stories like these.  I could also mention something about the theological difficulties of having an infant baptized twice but I’m not going to.  Because the kid’s not even a week old.  Congratulations to the Rowleys and I sincerely mean that.

Thanks for the heads-up, Ken.


Posted by Christopher Johnson | Thursday, November 20th, 2008 | Uncategorized | 20 Comments

Scientists are now addressing the question of how to build robots that will not harm humans.  As he usually does, Frank J. has come up with what is probably the most effective short-term solution.  Install Windows Vista on all robots and they won’t be able to hurt anyone since they’ll have to reboot every few minutes.  

An Anglican Communion Institute internship for all robots would certainly preclude them from taking any action, harmful or otherwise.  And it may be possible to enroll all robots in Call to Action in which case they’ll do nothing but sit through guitar masses, watch liturgical dance, get old, dry up and blow away. 

But before too much longer, I think the best idea would be to ordain all robots as Episcopal bishops since they then wouldn’t interact with human beings at all.

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