Archive for January, 2009


Posted by Christopher Johnson | Saturday, January 31st, 2009 | Uncategorized | 16 Comments

…and Central New York Episcopal Bishop Gladstone “Skip” Adams preferred to make a political statement rather than give me something to eat:

St. John the Evangelist Church is a large Catholic parish one block away from the former Good Shepherd buildings. Msgr. Meagher, the priest at St. John’s, graciously offered to host Good Shepherd’s Thursday night soup kitchen,the Shepherd’s Bowl, temporarily while we are transitioning from one location to another. Last week, having already vacated the buildings, we hung signs on the former Good Shepherd property directing Shepherd’s Bowl people to St. John’s where they would find a good warm meal and free loaves of bread.

This Tuesday our attorney handed the keys to our former building over to the Diocese of Central New York. I considered taking the signs down, but thought better of it. Surely, I thought, the Diocese of Central New York would not want to make it difficult for poor, hungry people to find a soup kitchen.

Silly me.

There were only about 10 people at the Shepherd’s Bowl last night. We could not understand why there was such a steep drop-off until we passed our old building. The walks had been shoveled, the locks changed and all the signs had been taken down.

What do you know?  I can still be shocked by the actions of these people.  But the Diocese has its reasons, I guess.  Can’t have anybody slipping on Diocesan sidewalks.  And Heaven forfend that the poor, hungry and cold get a hot meal and a loaf of bread from conservative Anglicans temporarily operating out of a Roman Catholic parish.

Maybe this action was unauthrorized but given the vindictiveness of Episcopalians, I suspect that it was authorized by someone.  And maybe the Bishop didn’t know about it but he is top dog in the Episcopal Diocese of Central New York so he’s ultimately responsible for actions taken therein.  So I’m just going to come right out and say it. 

Gladstone “Skip” Adams is a truly evil man.


Posted by Christopher Johnson | Saturday, January 31st, 2009 | Uncategorized | 9 Comments

Sometimes it’s just better to leave stuff alone.  The caption to this BBC video reads as follows:

A special Koran prayer school has been set up in Yoyakarta where transgender Islamic Indonesians can pray.

Trust me.  You aspiring Anglican bloggers out there will thank me later.


Posted by Christopher Johnson | Friday, January 30th, 2009 | Uncategorized | 16 Comments

The MCJ’s Northeast bureau chief sends along this reason why some of us don’t mind calling ourselves Puritans:

Related story here.


Posted by Christopher Johnson | Friday, January 30th, 2009 | Uncategorized | 19 Comments

What have you got planned for the weekend? 

I’ll probably break out the crock pot at some point and get a nice, slow chili going.  Other than that, I’m going to sip bourbon-and-sodas, read my book(Peter Heather’s The Fall of the Roman Empire; just started it and it’s quite good), watch a movie or two and take lots of naps.  It’d be even better if there was some kind of football game on television but I guess I can’t have everything.

But all that indolence doesn’t start for another three hours so in the meantime, let’s drop by the Episcopal Life letters section and see who’s around.  After praying to St. Desmond-of-the-Six-Figure-Honorarium for a successful letter, Gary Paul Gilbert of Jackson Heights, New York continues:

Because Real African WordTM is about interrelatedness, there is no point in setting religion and humanism against each other, as Chamberlain does, for that would be to fall into what Tutu calls solitariness. I have no problem with and would affirm “a Gospel that behaves more like secular humanism than God’s direct intervention into human history.” What would direct intervention look like, given the gradual retreat of religion from the realm of facts, as in the case of evolution? Ethics, on the other hand, remain important and religion at its best can continue to contribute to the Real African WordTM of all peoples.

Gary?  When you go to church, what, exactly, do you do there?  If you’re down with “a Gospel that behaves more like secular humanism,” getting up early on one of your days off just to watch strange ceremonies and put some of your hard-earned money into a collection plate seems kind of…well…weird if you ask me.

For crying out loud.  You don’t see Christopher Hitchens fighting one of his hangovers in order to sit through Morning Prayer at St. Paul’s or Westminster, do you?  You can be a secular humanist in the comfort of your own home and it won’t cost you a dime, Gilbert.  So man up!

Kathryn Macek of Berkeley, California pulls off a rare double here.  She invokes the hoariest of all liberal Christian mantras while simultaneously telling all you Roman Catholics what you really think.

I wonder if those young people, instead of being “totally disillusioned by the liturgical and theological reforms of Vatican II”, are, instead, fascinated by something (the Tridentine Mass) that, to them, is new and exotic. The reforms of Vatican II happened a long time ago; the younger generations were raised on them. They, like many of us in the ‘older generations’, are seeking something fresh, a way to see our liturgies and rituals from a different angle, through a different lens. God speaks through drums and dance as well as through the familiar liturgical forms. Can we remain open to hearing God’s voice no matter the medium?

Hey!  They’re talking in a whole different language!  Look at that shiny thing with bread in it!  Pretty!  And what’s all that smoke and stuff?!  Wow, this is “new and exotic” and “fresh” and “from a different angle” and “through a different lens!!”  So that’s why worship was so empty!  All that dancing and all those drums and giant, papier-mâché puppets were so BORING!!

St. Doug’s Episcopal Church has 500 members including Jenifer Lewis of Winthrop, Maine.  499 of those members plus all of the clergy vote to leave the Episcopal Organization and affiliate with ACNA.  Guess what?  Ms. Lewis gets the building.

Here’s how I see it: if I’m a member of a church, and the majority of the members vote to leave the national church, they are the ones who are leaving.  It doesn’t mean they get to kick me out of my church home.  It means they need to find a new church home elsewhere and those of us who remain will deal with the question of our future.

Which I guess would temporarily make Jenifer both rector and vestry until the Diocese sent a priest over and all those Episcopalians are bussed in to make people think there’s a viable congregation there.  Then when those eventually leave, Jen would hopefully get her own table at St. Doug’s Restaurant and Bar. 

Open nightly.  May we recommend the braised scallops in white wine sauce?


Posted by Christopher Johnson | Thursday, January 29th, 2009 | Uncategorized | 19 Comments

Like everybody else, I’ve been worrying about my financial situation lately.  Librarians tend to do that a lot anyway even if the economy is booming.  But I guess I should lighten up what with the world possibly ending this summer and all:

Still worried that the Large Hadron Collider will create a black hole that will destroy the Earth when it’s finally switched on this summer?

Um, well, you may have a point.

Sucks to be us, I guess.

Three physicists have reexamined the math surrounding the creation of microscopic black holes in the Switzerland-based LHC, the world’s largest particle collider, and determined that they won’t simply evaporate in a millisecond as had previously been predicted.

Rather, Roberto Casadio of the University of Bologna in Italy and Sergio Fabi and Benjamin Harms of the University of Alabama say mini black holes could exist for much longer — perhaps even more than a second, a relative eternity in particle colliders, where most objects decay much faster.

I think I’ve come up with a name for artificially-created particles like this and you probably already know what that name is.

Under such long-lived conditions, it becomes a race between how fast a black hole can decay — and how fast it can gobble up matter to grow bigger and prevent itself from decaying.

Episcopalians.  See what I mean?  Sometimes this is just too easy.

UPDATE: Down in the comments, Zach Frey points out that if the world does come to an end, you’ll be able to watch it online here.


Posted by Christopher Johnson | Thursday, January 29th, 2009 | Uncategorized | 16 Comments

At my old liberal Episcopal parish, I can recall world hunger presentations in which something like the following would take place.  Everyone would draw lots.  One or two people would get themselves a steak dinner with all the trimmings.  A few more people might get an unpeeled potato or carrot.

A few more would get a small slice of some stale raw vegetable or other.  And everyone else, usually half or more than half the group might get grass or nothing at all.  By participating in this, we rich Americans were supposed to experience what it was like to be poor and hungry.

Of course the effect of this life lesson was considerably blunted by the fact that anyone who didn’t get a free meal could have popped into the McDonald’s just down the street for a Big Mac after the program was over.  But many of us did learn what it was like not to eat some kind of food for 60 minutes or so.

So it’s nice to know that in this great, big, wonderful world of ours, there are actually some people left who think this sort of exercise isn’t about as stupid an idea as anyone has ever thought up about anything.


Posted by Christopher Johnson | Thursday, January 29th, 2009 | Uncategorized | 7 Comments

Iowahawk again.  Just go.  Now.


Posted by Christopher Johnson | Thursday, January 29th, 2009 | Uncategorized | 28 Comments

Is the Traditional Anglican Communion about to get its wish?

The Pope is preparing to offer the Traditonal Anglican Communion, a group of half a million dissident Anglicans, its own personal prelature by Rome, according to reports this morning.

“History may be in the making”, reports The Record. “It appears Rome is on the brink of welcoming close to half a million members of the Traditional Anglican Communion into membership of the Roman Catholic Church. Such a move would be the most historic development in Anglican-Catholic relations in the last 500 years. But it may also be a prelude to a much greater influx of Anglicans waiting on the sidelines, pushed too far by the controversy surrounding the consecration of practising homosexual bishops, women clergy and a host of other issues.”

I’m somewhat skeptical.  For one thing, the report cited by Damian Thompson mentions what would seem to be a major stumbling block.

One potential problem for the Holy See would be the TAC’s bishops, most of whom are married. Neither the Roman Catholic nor Eastern Catholic churches permit married bishops.

But the current Pope has been interested in conservative Anglicans for some time.

An announcement could be made soon after Easter this year. It is understood that Pope Benedict XVI, who has taken a personal interest in the matter, has linked the issue to the year of St Paul, the greatest missionary in the history of the Church.

And we all remember the warm letter of greeting and encouragement from then-Cardinal Ratzinger to the 2003 Plano Conference.

Is there anything to any of this?  Commenters down here as well as the Bovina Bloviator urge caution.  These things, they say, take time, lots of time, so I’ll defer to their views.

But to engage in a bit of wishful speculation here, it could very well be that Benedict is betting, so to speak, that the final Anglican confrontation will come in Egypt and that the Anglican Communion will shatter as a result, in which case the views of the Archbishop of Canterbury will no longer much matter.

By this action, if it is eventually taken, the Pope is doing far more than simply creating 500,000 new Catholics.  He is creating a mechanism whereby countless other disaffected Anglicans might just be encouraged to take a swim in a certain Italian river.


Posted by Christopher Johnson | Wednesday, January 28th, 2009 | Uncategorized | 28 Comments

Don’t look now but the long-awaited Anglican confrontation may just finally happen at the upcoming Primates Meeting in Egypt:

The Primate of the Church in Wales will oppose any attempt to form a parallel Anglican jurisdiction when the primates of the Anglican Communion meet next week in Alexandria, Egypt. Leaders of the GAFCON movement, however, have pledged not to back down from their support of Bishop Robert Duncan and the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), setting up the potential for a clash of views when the primates meet.

On Jan. 24, Archbishop Barry Morgan of Wales told delegates attending the annual council meeting of the Diocese of Virginia he would oppose the creation of the ACNA with “every fiber of his body.” Another North American province was “total nonsense,” he said, according to a report by Anglican blogger Mary Ailes, but the archbishop conceded that his views were in the minority among primates.

The degree of support for the ACNA among the primates is uncertain, but a core group representing a near majority have given public and private assurances of support. On Dec. 5 five primates from the steering committee of the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) met with the Archbishop of Canterbury at Canterbury Cathedral telling him that Bishop Duncan and the ACNA had their full support.

Dr. Williams, of course, desperately wants to stall.

The political strength of the GAFCON primates will be tested against Archbishop Morgan and supporters of The Episcopal Church. The proposed agenda, however, seeks to avoid a direct decision, calling for further dialogue on the issue of rites for the blessing of same-sex unions, the consecration of non-celibate homosexual clergy to the episcopate, and the violation of traditional diocesan boundaries by overseas bishops.

But he may no longer be able to.

It is unlikely the agenda for the five-day gathering will go unchanged. At their meeting in 2005 in Northern Ireland and in 2007 in Tanzania, the primates insisted on confronting the issues that had split the Anglican Communion.

Keep the usual caveats in mind, particularly the one about how we’ve been here before.  But if the crunch does come in Egypt, what does TEO do about it?  I think the Episcopalians have two options:

(1) Acquiesce – Although I don’t think 815 could emotionally sign on, since it would require them to officially associate with a North American Anglican body that considers homosexual activity to be a sin, TEO itself to be apostate and TEO’s dioceses as mission fields, this might actually be TEO’s best option.

There are plenty of Anglican conservatives, this writer included, who are more than a little queasy about any continued association with the liberals at all.  Agreeing to a new North American province might be just the thing to split the conservatives and badly weaken ACNA before it even gets off the ground.

But I think the most likely Episcopal response will be to:

(2) Confront right back – Mrs. Schori could declare a new North American province to be totally unacceptable.  Then she could be the one to get up and walk out, knowing that Canada, Central America, a substantial part of South America, South Africa and Europe will follow her.

By themselves, these defections wouldn’t mean very much.  But Mrs. Schori knows that other Anglicans will also follow her out.  If the US and Canada leave, the Church of England itself would split more or less in half.  And that means that Rowan Williams will have to do something no Anglican ever likes to do.

Make a decision.  And not just any decision but one of the most important decisions anyone can possibly make.  And he’ll have to do it in front of the entire world and live with the consequences.

What will happen?  Stay tuned.


Posted by Christopher Johnson | Tuesday, January 27th, 2009 | Uncategorized | 32 Comments

Thank God Almighty, Fort Worth is free at last!!  Massive throngs of Episcopalians, too numerous to count, celebrate their liberation from Darth Iker:

Episcopalians in Parker County, Texas, a part of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth on January 18 participated in the first Episcopal Eucharist ever openly celebrated in the county by a female Episcopal Church priest.

The Episcopal Church in Parker County is a faith community founded in November 2008 under the umbrella of the Steering Committee North Texas Episcopalians, the group that is leading the re-organization of the diocese. The congregation, made up of worshippers formerly from St. Francis of Assisi, Willow Park; All Saints, Weatherford and Holy Apostles Church, meets in the cafeteria of McCall Elementary School in Willow Park, Texas about 20 miles west of Fort Worth. Victoria Prescott, who helped organize the gathering of about 20

“About 20,” of course, means less than 20.  Yeah, a TEO Fort Worth outlet can make a go of it.  Not a problem at all.


Posted by Christopher Johnson | Monday, January 26th, 2009 | Uncategorized | 43 Comments

The Episcopal Organization steps its game up.  Remember the Muslim Episcopal priest?  Get ready for the Buddhist Episcopal bishop:

The Diocese of Northern Michigan is set to elect as its bishop a priest who once received “lay ordination” in Buddhism. On Jan. 23, a diocesan search committee announced that a single candidate had been put forward to stand for election as bishop at the diocese’s special electing convention Feb. 21 at St. Stephen’s Church, Escanaba.
The Rev. Kevin Thew Forrester, rector of St. Paul’s, Marquette, and St. John’s, Negaunee, was put forward by the diocesan search team to stand for election as bishop/ministry developer under the “mutual ministry model” used by the small, rural diocese on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. A priest of the diocese since 2001, Fr. Forrester also serves as ministry development coordinator and newspaper editor for Northern Michigan.
In recent years, he also was a practicing Buddhist, according to the former Bishop of Northern Michigan, the late Rt. Rev. James Kelsey.
In his Oct 15, 2004 address to the diocese’s annual convention, Bishop Kelsey took note of some of the milestones among the lives of members of the diocese. After recognizing recent university graduations, the bishop said Fr. Forrester “received Buddhist ‘lay ordination’,” and was “walking the path of Christianity and Zen Buddhism together.”
If Fr. Thew Forrester was an Episcopalian-Zen Buddhist, and if he was elected by the special convention as bishop, objections to his being seated in the House of Bishops would be raised, according to one senior diocesan bishop. That bishop said he hoped the House of Bishops was “still sufficiently faithful to recognize the total self-contradiction this would involve and deny consent.”
So many jokes.  Too many to pick just one, actually.
I hope the Yoopers approve this guy, I really do.  I want to see what people like Katharine Jefferts Schori, John Chane, Gene Robinson and the rest of the House of Bishops do when the question of this guy’s approval comes up.  What with the lot of them being thoroughly orthodox Christians and all.
UPDATE: Know something?  It’s humbling and more than a little frightening to realize that you have personally stumbled across one of the fundamental laws of the universe.  Thanks for the heads-up, DJH.
UPDATE: David Fischler found this article in the July/August 2004 edition of the diocesan newspaper in which Forrester tries to explain what he’s about:

About six years ago, while living in Eastern Oregon, I realized the need to do some of my own soul-work. Perhaps having a child on the way had something to do with it. Perhaps turning 40 played a role. Perhaps having spent the last 20 years of my life struggling to change the church and recover baptismal ministry had left me a tad exhausted. The reasons are many, and they all led me to pay attention to my own heart and soul. Where was the Spirit? Where was life? Why did I tend to repeat the same mistakes in life and create the same hurts in those I loved?

My soul-work entered a new stage on Pentecost, at Fortune Lake Lutheran Camp, when I, as a Christian, received Buddhist “lay ordination” and a new name, to go along with my Christian name: Genpo (Japanese, for “way of universal wisdom”). I now walk the path of Christianity and Zen Buddhism. What on earth would possess me to do something like this? 

My soul-work has led me to see that the way of Jesus is the way of truth and life. Anointed by the Spirit, Jesus reveals to humanity that the way of God is the path of boundless compassion and of utter regard for all God’s creatures. I remember my astonishment upon first understanding that Jesus realized he was beloved by God at his baptism, and he had not even done anything yet. He had not achieved, changed, perfected, anything. He was loved by God simply because he was God’s child. We are beloved of God as we are, and nothing can ever change this. This is the simple truth so hard for each of us to know in our heart of hearts – at least it has been for me. Our hearts ache to know this love for ourselves. Awareness of belovedness, is, as I see it, the very life blood of the way of Jesus. For me it is sacred salve to the soul – salvific. It is the way of salvation – offering us healing from the fears, anxieties, and greeds of our own blinding egos.

I see now a Jesus who does not raise the bar to salvation, but lowers it so far that it disappears. Our own children, Miriam and Liam, have been welcomed to communion since birth not because of anything they know, but because of who they are – God’s beloved. There is nothing we can do or need do to win God’s love. That is precisely the good news. Human beings always want to make conditions. Jesus reveals that for God to love us there are no conditions. We are of God and belong to God because God has made us – each and every one of us, who are both beautiful and broken.

Zen Buddhism, for me, is about learning how to see the bedrock truth of our baptism – we are beloved. To say this may sound odd, at first. But 2,500 years ago, an Indian prince became known as the Buddha, or the Enlightened One, because he courageously sat and faced his fears, and after years of facing them, saw this basic truth about life: we are one, utterly one, yet we do not know it. We suffer because we fearfully cling to this or that thing (for me, trying to be perfect) in the hope that it will bring us happiness.

After his awakening, or enlightenment, it is said that the Buddha encountered some of his earlier friends. They noticed the change in him and asked if he were a god?  He said no, I am simply a human being who is finally awake. The way of the Buddha is essentially about waking up to who we are, and what creation is – utterly one and sacred.

That might be as perfect a description of the Episcopal religion as you will ever read.  There is nothing wrong with you.  You just have to realize that God loves you DIS MUCH!!

If God loved Jesus so much, it kind of makes one wonder why He let His Son die on the Cross, particularly when it didn’t have to happen.  If you love someone, making them die a long, slow, agonizing death for no particular reason doesn’t seem like a very loving act.

But the more I thought about it, the more this selection makes perfect sense.  If Forrester’s descriptions of the Buddha’s views are accurate, the Episcopal religion is not really high-church universalism.

It is a Buddhist sect.


Posted by Christopher Johnson | Monday, January 26th, 2009 | Uncategorized | 11 Comments

How is this situation

If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit?

…like this situation?

“It is abominable, indescribable,” Louis Michel, the European Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid, told journalists in Gaza on January 26 after visiting the area. “At this time we have to also recall the overwhelming responsibility of Hamas. I intentionally say this here — Hamas is a terrorist movement and it has to be denounced as such.”

Because if you tell me you’re hungry, organizing an online protest against worldwide food shortages is not a virtuous response.  Neither is merely “denouncing” genocidal, anti-Semitic murderers and only getting around to doing that after some intended victims finally take steps to prevent their own homicides.


Posted by Christopher Johnson | Sunday, January 25th, 2009 | Uncategorized | 7 Comments

“What’s that, Edgar?”

“The BBC taking a principled stand and getting called out by the Archbishop of Canterbury action figure because of it.”

Members of a British anti-war group briefly occupied the Glasgow offices of the BBC on Sunday to protest the national broadcaster’s decision not to air a charity fundraising appeal for Palestinians in Gaza.

The two-hour occupation followed criticism from lawmakers and religious leaders who said the BBC’s decision not to air an advertisement from the Disasters Emergency Committee — a group of charities that includes the Red Cross, Oxfam, and Save the Children — was wrong. The broadcaster which rejected the advertisement saying it might harm its reputation for impartiality, and because it couldn’t be sure the money raised would reach those in need.

“My feeling is that the BBC should broadcast an appeal,” the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams said.

Mark Thompson, the BBC director-general, remained adamant against the showing the advertisement. His comments came in a blog posting on the BBC Web site.

“Gaza remains a major ongoing news story, in which humanitarian issues — the suffering and distress of civilians and combatants on both sides of the conflict, the debate about who is responsible for causing it and what should be done about it — are both at the heart of the story and contentious.”


Posted by Christopher Johnson | Sunday, January 25th, 2009 | Uncategorized | 13 Comments

It’s okay to stop reading when people say things this stupid:

Impeached Gov. [Rod]Blagojevich, on the first leg of his media blitz timed to the start of his impeachment trial, in an NBC interview broadcast on The Today Show Sunday compared himself to human rights heroes Nelson Mandela, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi.

As Dec. 9 unfolded, Blagojevich told NBC, “I thought about Mandela, Dr. King and Gandhi and tried to put some perspective to all this and that is what I am doing now.”

What, nothing about Jesus, Blags?  Nothing about how you’re being crucified for the people of Illinois?  Nothing about how you forgive the Illinois legislature because it knows not what it does?

Religious bigotry is such an ugly thing.


Posted by Christopher Johnson | Saturday, January 24th, 2009 | Uncategorized | 29 Comments

In other Episcopal self-congratulation news, the Diocese of Virginia thanks Whatever May Or May Not Be Up There Or Out There Or Wherever that it is not as other men are:

Resolved, that the Diocese of Virginia recognizes our responsibility to respond to the pastoral needs of our faithful gay and lesbian members in a spirit of love, compassion and respect, and in so doing seek to fulfill our baptismal commitment to respect the dignity of every human being; and, be it further

Resolved, that accordingly the 214th Annual Council of the Diocese of Virginia affirms the inherent integrity and blessedness of committed Christian relationships between two adult persons, when those relationships are “characterized by fidelity, monogamy, mutual affection and respect, careful, honest communication, and the holy love which enables those in such relationships to see in each other the image of God” (Resolution 2000-D039 of the 73rd General Convention of the Episcopal Church).

Very long ACI report expressing grave concern, questioning the legality of the measure and appealing to the Covenant Design Group in 5, 4, 3, 2… 

Look.  If you don’t get it by now, if you think there is still something to talk about and if you seriously believe that an Anglican Covenant will do anything about this, then I can’t help you anymore because you are criminally delusional.

Conservative Anglicanism’s got the short stack.  So if it’s going to have a chance, the orthodox primates had better be willing to push all-in at the Egypt meeting. 

And lose all their chips and walk away broke if necessary.  After all, what does it profit a man if he gains Lambeth Palace approval but loses his own soul?

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