Archive for February, 2009

1 KINGS 18:21

Posted by Christopher Johnson | Saturday, February 28th, 2009 | Uncategorized | 9 Comments

And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? if the LORD be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him.

Doug LeBlanc wonders why the story of the Episcopal Organization’s putative Buddhist bishop hasn’t received more media coverage than it has. Lord knows, Stand Firm has done its best to keep this story on the Anglican front burner. 

I think there are two reasons why the Kevin Thew Forrester election hasn’t gained any traction.  The minor reason revolves around a theory I floated at the other site to the effect that the Episcopal Organization is what the media wishes that the Roman Catholic Church, an actual Christian church with real worldwide influence, would become so that anything which might reflect badly on TEO will inevitably be downplayed.  The major reason is much simpler.

Basically, this story is not news.  Had a Roman Catholic bishop or cardinal, an Orthodox bishop or a prominent Southern Baptist or Pentecostal leader been found to be an ordained Buddhist, the resulting uproar would have spread around the world. 

Let an Episcopalian do it, though, and the inevitable reaction is that “WAH, WAH, WAH, WAH, WAAAAAAAAHHHHH!!” sound running through your head along with chuckling, shaking your head and exclaiming, “Ah, those crazy Episcopalians are at it again!”

Sort of what happens when you morph from a Christian church into a sad joke.


Posted by Christopher Johnson | Friday, February 27th, 2009 | Uncategorized | 33 Comments

If you engage in a certain activity today and use a certain type of product while doing it, then I don’t even know you anymore, man:

The tenderness of the delicate American buttock is causing more environmental devastation than the country’s love of gas-guzzling cars, fast food or McMansions, according to green campaigners. At fault, they say, is the US public’s insistence on extra-soft, quilted and multi-ply products when they use the bathroom.

“This is a product that we use for less than three seconds and the ecological consequences of manufacturing it from trees is enormous,” said Allen Hershkowitz, a senior scientist at the Natural Resources Defence Council.

I’ll bet you strangle baby seals just for the hell of it in your spare time.

“Future generations are going to look at the way we make toilet paper as one of the greatest excesses of our age. Making toilet paper from virgin wood is a lot worse than driving Hummers in terms of global warming pollution.” Making toilet paper has a significant impact because of chemicals used in pulp manufacture and cutting down forests.

A campaign by Greenpeace seeks to raise consciousness among Americans about the environmental costs of their toilet habits and counter an aggressive new push by the paper industry giants to market so-called luxury brands.

Fortunately, there’s a product available that will save future generations from the devastation caused by selfish people like you.

“Alright,” you say, “You’ve convinced me about cloth diapers, and I understand using cloth gift bags and napkins. But toilet paper??” For some people, making the switch to cloth toilet wipes is a huge leap, that’s true. But it doesn’t need to be! 

Using cloth toilet wipes actually has many advantages. For one, it’s a lot more comfortable and soft on your most delicate body parts. It’s also more economical, uses less paper, and saves you those late-night trips to the store. And cloth wipes can be used wet without any of the sopping disintegration that regular toilet paper is prone to.

Laundry day will suck even more than it usually does and since certain smells tend to linger, good luck getting chicks to come over or friends and family to associate with you more than a second but we all have to make sacrifices, I guess.


Posted by Christopher Johnson | Thursday, February 26th, 2009 | Uncategorized | 19 Comments

Here are some more people who are apparently fond of completely wasting their time once a week.  The Anglican Organization of Canada has some “Lenten meditations” available, one of which follows:

“… a Canaanite woman from that region came out and started shouting, ‘Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is tormented by a demon.’ He answered, ‘I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.’ But she came and knelt before him, saying, ‘Lord, help me.’ He answered, ‘It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.’ She said, ‘Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.’ ” — Matthew 14:22-27

This not a story for people who need to think that Jesus always had it together, because it looks like we’ve caught him being mean to a lady because of her ethnicity. At first, he ignores her cries. Then he refuses to help her and compares her people to dogs.  But she challenges his prejudice. And he listens to her challenge and grows in response to it. He ends up healing her daughter. What we may have here is an important moment of selfdiscovery in Jesus’ life, an enlargement of what it will mean to be who he was. Maybe we are seeing Jesus understand his universality for the first time.

This isn’t a new concept.  I remember Frank Griswold trotting out something like it once.  But it makes one wonder why people who write crap like this waste their time going to church.  Why in the world do they bother?

Why, to worship of course. 

To worship what?  A first-century rabbi who could turn an artful phrase now and then?  A prejudiced Jewish guy who “grows” when called out on his racism?  A guy who undergoes a moment of “self-discovery” when instructed by some Canaanite woman?

What in the world is so inspiring about that?

Either Jesus was God Incarnate, Who came into the world to pay for the sins of the world, or He was not.  And if He was not, then you might as well order your “worship” around readings from Plato or Aristotle or any other “great teacher” you like for all the good it would do you.

You can do it on your own, though.  Pretentious ceremonies of self-congratulation and pondering my own wonderfulness have never been something I’ve been able to make myself do.  Since I know myself too well.


Posted by Christopher Johnson | Thursday, February 26th, 2009 | Uncategorized | 21 Comments

Now and then, you get dealt pocket kings:

My son Anthony attends Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT). Normally, he avoids the on-campus Neumann Center Mass and goes to St Stanislaus’ down town for the Latin Mass. Well the weather was bad, and so he and his fiancee went to the Newman Center mass. Well, it was an “interesting” mass. Not in good way either. He sent me pictures.

Apparently the priest decided to “sprinkle” water on the congregation at the begining of Mass. Well the ritual deviated from the usual sprinkling rite. First there was the ritual blessing of the super-soaker (!)

It was actually worse than the pictures make it out to be. He processed into mass behind the cross wearing the Mickey Mouse hat and a gold masquerade mask. Once the singing stopped, the first thing he did was blow a kazoo and say, “Happy Mardi Gras.”

But when the other guys pairs his ace, you have to lay those bad boys down:

The Rev. Luis Barrios, an Episcopal priest canonically resident in the Diocese of New York, was sentenced to serve two months in a federal prison after he and five others were found guilty in January of entering the Fort Benning military base in Georgia as part of a protest against the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation. He is scheduled to begin serving his sentence on March 9.

In an open letter to supporters after his conviction, Fr. Barrios said that the ultimate goal of his social activism is “being able to organize the religiosity of the people, so they can reach their liberation.” He said it is his “duty to our Goddess to build a better world.”

UPDATE: Barrios’ letter is here and he does, in fact, refer to “our Goddess.”  Thanks to Mark.


Posted by Christopher Johnson | Thursday, February 26th, 2009 | Uncategorized | 27 Comments

Mr. Jim Rome, the host of a nationally-syndicated radio sports talk show, recently stumbled across an interesting theory of comedy.  Simply put, everything becomes either funny or a whole lot more pleasant if it is accompanied by Mr. Boots Randolph’s delightful tune “Yakety Sax” which was popularized by the late British comedian Mr. Benny Hill.

I’ve taken the liberty of calling this the Boots Randolph Effect and I propose to test it as follows.  I will read portions of this essay by Katharine Jefferts Schori while “Yakety Sax” is playing.  Keep in mind that I do not possess professional-quality recording hardware or software so the quality of this MP3 is not as good as I’d like it to be.

Let me know what you think.  And be honest.  Science depends on it.

UPDATE:  That little gray thing is the MP3 in QuickTime for those who prefer that format.  The box is the MP3 in WindowsMedia.


Posted by Christopher Johnson | Wednesday, February 25th, 2009 | Uncategorized | 17 Comments

The Rev. Chip Seadale of Jacksonville, Florida writes Episcopal Life:

I am glad to have the opportunity to respond, but I feel like the little African-American girl who gets a chance to say something when no one else will listen. Please know I have bright eyes and a longing heart, too!


I do not think a written covenant is a good thing. I defer to all the professors and bishops and clergy and our scholars [who have had] a say in all this. Frankly, I’m just a workin’ parish priest here (who’s pickin’ up the pieces of lives after a community has left the Episcopal Church):

Sounds like you’ve been doin’ a lot of work despite all that’s been happenin’ and takin’ place and goin’ down in TEO over the last few years.  Performin’ the liturgy, preachin’ sermons, celebratin’ the Eucharist, visitin’ the sick and what not. 

I hear it sometimes gets pretty warm down in Florida which probably means that you may do a lot of sweatin’ while you’re doin’ all that workin’ and piece pickin’ up so I hope that your wardrobe is mostly cotting(and for those of you scorin’ at home, that was, of course, a Stan Freberg reference).

Can we agree without something in writing?

I guess we could agree without somethin’ in writin’.  Nothin’ theoretically wrong with that.  But the line of people who want to sell Chip a car forms on the right.

God did.

This is where the “Uh…WHAT?!! would go.

I try very hard to be on God’s side.

Which is a pleasant place to be what with God always agreein’ with Himself and all.

Love is the name of EVERY game.

Except for American football.  And Canadian football.  And baseball.  And basketball.  And hockey.  And golf.  And stock-car racing.  And Canadian five pin.  And skittles(all varieties).  And crown green bowls.  And shove ha’penny.  And Devil Amongst the Tailors.  And horseshoes.  And washers.  And Bottle Caps.  And soccer.  And kickball.  And tetherball.  And hopscotch.  And billiards.  And snooker.  And carpet bowls.  And water polo.  And team handball.  And Mah Jong.  And chess.  And the Chinese, Japanese and Korean versions of chess.  And go.  And checkers.  And nine men’s morris.  And backgammon.  And Rock, Paper, Scissors.  And poker.  And blackjack.  And whist.  And auction bridge.  And contract bridge.  And pinochle.  And canasta.  And craps.  And Tic-Tac-Toe.  And Yahtzee.  And that version of “football” you played in school where you folded a piece of paper into a triangle and shoved it back and forth across the desk.  And Parcheesi.  And Monopoly.  And Candyland.  And Hungry, Hungry Hippos.  And Rock ‘Em, Sock ‘Em Robots.  And Operation(the goofy game for dopey doctors).  And…

Chip Seadale+

(Once a lawyer–and proudly so!)

I’m confused, Chip.  Are you proud that you were a lawyer or are you happy that you are no longer a lawyer?  Because I have to think that whole “not getting it in writing” idea of yours can’t have been very popular with your clients.  Was that why you got in the Episcopal business?


Posted by Christopher Johnson | Tuesday, February 24th, 2009 | Uncategorized | 32 Comments

Broccoli-shaped irrelevance to attend APOSTATE-A-PALOOZA!! this summer:

The Most Rev. Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, will attend General Convention for the first time when it meets July 8-17 in Anaheim, Calif.
Archbishop Williams, who is scheduled to attend the first two days of convention, will participate in Bible study and deliver a keynote address at a global economic forum in the evening on July 8.


Posted by Christopher Johnson | Tuesday, February 24th, 2009 | Uncategorized | 9 Comments

Does God answer prayer?

Of course He does.  But I don’t mean that in the same way that Benny Hinn, Kenneth Copeland or Rod Parsley might mean it, a supernatural intervention that will make your problems vanish overnight(although that’s entirely possible).  I mean that sometimes you might not much like the answer God gives you.

Case in point.  Over the years, I’d run up a painful amount of credit card debt.  It had gotten to where just making minimum payments was approaching impossible.

I’d prayed about it a lot, hoping that God would somehow intervene and make it go away or show me how I could.  One evening, not too long ago, I finally got this forceful reply.

“You already know what you have to do.  You already know how to fix this.  But here’s a microscopically less humiliating way to go about it.”

For all the problems I had with him while he was alive, my dad took care of his kids.  I got a decent inheritance when he died.  Not great but enough to matter and to give me at least a few years past retirement.

Long story short, I manned up, made the Prodigal Son-ish admission, took the financial hit and got it done.  And with that, I give you Mr. Jay Nixon, the new Democratic governor of my state[Missouri], on the Barack Obama economic stimulus doohickey:

I don’t know how old Jay’s kids are.  But if I was one of them, the first thing the old man would hear from me when he returned home from this trip would be, “Hope you enjoy the nursing home, Dad.  Won’t be top of the line or anything, what with having to pay off that debt you saddled us with, but we’ll do the best we can.

“Hey, you’ll at least have a mattress to sleep on and three squares a day most days with any kind of luck.  If the heat there’s not that great, one of us will pick you up a coat from Goodwill some time.  And after all is said and done, isn’t that the most that any of us can reasonably hope for?”


Posted by Christopher Johnson | Monday, February 23rd, 2009 | Uncategorized | 40 Comments

Our tour of the ruins of the Episcopal Organization brings us to the NatCat which hosted this thing a little over a week ago:

On Valentine’s Day weekend, about 1,300 participants gathered at Washington National Cathedral for the Sacred Circles Women’s Spirituality Conference, which explored the theme of love in action as a collective and powerful force that could reshape the world and save the planet.

Surprisingly, unleashing this “collective and powerful force that could reshape the world and save the planet” doesn’t seem to require doing copious amounts of high-grade Jamaican chronic.

From February 13 through February 14, the conference included such topics as Rediscovering Ancient Paths of the Divine Feminine, Inspiration from the Soul, and Dancing with Shakti, which is the Sanskrit name for sacred feminine creative power.

Or maybe it does.  I’m not quite sure.

Designed to celebrate all faiths[All together now.  Well of course it is! – Ed], the opening plenary began with Jewish Renewal Movement leader Rabbi Phyllis Berman conducting a sacred interfaith Shabbat in tandem with cantor Holly Taya Shere, whose “Holy, Holy, Holy” chant resonated deeply throughout the cavernous Gothic spaces.

Keynote speaker Karen Armstrong, author and religious historian, declared that “unless we learn to practice the Golden Rule globally, we are unlikely to have a viable world to pass on to the next generation. . . . What we need in our world is a change of heart and mind to allow compassion to penetrate our thinking.”

The acknowledgment of love’s fervor reached a climatic note on Valentine’s Day morning of the conference when the featured speaker, Elizabeth Lesser, co-founder of the Omega Institute, the largest retreat center in America, declared, “It was a sense of calling to come to this city, on this day, at this time. . . . Your tender heart—this is what is going to save our world,” she urged the audience. “No matter what you do in the world, you can make a difference with your heart,” Ms. Lesser concluded.

Camaraderie of the heart joined women throughout the rest of the day as they spilled over the cathedral grounds, voicing their spiritual renewal and experiencing transformation in the workshops.

The Institute on Religion and Democracy has more.  The thing opened this way.

A Lakota medicine woman officially opened the conference by offering up a bowl of smoldering tobacco and directing the participants to face the four directions while she went through a ritual to “invite the spirits:”

“To the sacred guardians of the East,” the leader said, “all the medicine that comes from the East, we welcome you. Acupuncture, Tibetan medicine.”

“To the sacred guardians of the South,”—the place of the physical body, innocence, and warriors, “we ask for laughter, healing, joy.”

“To the sacred guardians of the West”—the place of great mystery, the vision quest, and death, “The place of finding your own divinity.”

“To the sacred guardians of the North”—the Earth element, whom she called to “gather spirit and wisdom,” and regarded as the place of transformation, change, and the “White Buffalo Woman.”

“Come spirit of many names, come” the medicine woman concluded.

Looks like ganja did, in fact, figure prominently in the festivities.

Elizabeth Lesser, co-founder of Omega Institute and guru to Oprah Winfrey, spoke about the importance of emotional and spiritual intelligences.  Karnamrita Devi Dasi led the audience in the call-and-response of Hindu devotional songs, called Kirtan, before Lesser’s talk. Among those honored in her songs was the Hindu term for the feminine divine.

Lesser recalled the pagan history of what is now St. Valentine’s Day, at which time the Romans honored Lupa, the she-wolf who suckled Rome’s mythical founders, Romulus and Remus, and Juno, queen of the Greco-Roman pantheon. Said Lesser, “I think it’s time for us women to take back Valentine’s Day,” to “take it back for Lupa the she-wolf and Juno the fertile goddess, and Valentine.”

A private Washington, DC Christian college offered continuing-edjummakayshkin credits for students who attended this pagan Woodstock.  Hint: the school ain’t Baptist.

But this time, ecclesiastical support was not limited to Protestant denominations. The Catholic University of America in Washington, DC, offered continuing education credits through its Center for Spirituality and Social Work to intrepid women journeying towards the Feminine Divine.

Sure is amazing that the NatCat’s bleeding money.  Can’t figure that out at all.  The National Cathedral if you need it.


Posted by Christopher Johnson | Monday, February 23rd, 2009 | Uncategorized | 31 Comments

As part of our continuing “Why bother getting up early on one of your days off?” series, we present the Person No Different Than Anybody Else Ernest Cockrell of the Episcopal Diocese of El Camino Real riffing on some first-century Jewish guy:

Jesus was not God, Gareth.

He was a human being on earth with a mind limited to the worldview of his time.

The synoptic gospels are theologized histories with the meaning written in;the Gospel of John was an historicized theology.

It was a different time, different world view.

I see God through Jesus, but to say he was God is something Jesus – as a faithful Jewish man – would have heartily rejected.

All the I AM statements in John were the beliefs of the early Church, not Jesus’ words.

Your claim answers nothing; just exposes ignorance, and a pathetic, simplistic, interpretation of scripture.

Time to get real here, both historically and theologically – and to differentiate between the two.

Ernest W. Cockrell+
El Camino Real

Quick question, Ernie.  What the hell do people like you do when you go to church?  Knock back a couple of Jack-and-Cokes and ponder your unbelievably splendid wonderfulness?  Thank your Vague, Ambiguous, Infinitely Malleable Deity Concept that you are not as other men are, particularly those idiots who still believe that that stupid old book actually means what it says?

Seems to me that you can do that from the comfort of your own home, Ernie.  Not only could you sleep in, you’d reduce your carbon footprint and you’d have something else to be sneeringly self-righteous about.

Three birds with one stone, Ernie.


Posted by Christopher Johnson | Monday, February 23rd, 2009 | Uncategorized | 28 Comments

Pending consents, IN!!  TROE!!  DOOSE!! ING!! the world’s first Buddhist Anglican bishop!!

The Diocese of Northern Michigan elected the Rev. Kevin Thew Forrester as bishop Feb. 21 at a special diocesan convention.
Fr. Forrester, the only candidate on the slate, was elected on the first ballot, receiving 88 percent of delegate votes and 91 percent of congregational votes, according to a diocesan news release.
The announcement of Fr. Forrester’s nomination sparked controversy last month because he is also a practicing Buddhist and said he had received Buddhist “lay ordination”  and was “walking the path of Christianity and Zen Buddhism together.”


Posted by Christopher Johnson | Sunday, February 22nd, 2009 | Uncategorized | 24 Comments

Mr. Mike alerts his priests and priestesses to the gravest threat in the history of his religion:

Throughout the centuries, Anglicanism has held together evangelicals, liberals, and anglo-catholics in a single church. Such is our ethos and mysterium.

“Mysterium” isn’t even a word, Mikey.  “Magisterium” is but I don’t think you want to go there, big man.

It is this historic tradition the newly-arrived Network now seeks to undermine.

What “historic tradition” are you prattling on about, Mikey?  The Orthodox and the Roman Catholics have a 500-year head start on us.  Do you seriously mean to suggest that there have been same-sex marriages in the Christian church for 2,000 years?  Because if you do, you’re a moron.

Specifically, they have begun active church-planting in this Diocese with the assistance of the recently retired Bishop of Algoma, Ronald Ferris, who has relinquished his ordained ministry in the Anglican Church of Canada. These efforts to create a parallel Province in this country inevitably involve the recruitment of people from our own congregations, and directly contravene the ancient and modern traditions of the Christian church.

“Recruiting” people into the Christian church “contravenes the ancient and modern traditions of the Christian church?!!”  How do you figure, Mikey?  And what exactly is a “modern tradition?”  Is that like “jumbo shrimp” or “liberal Christianity” or something?”

Their goal is to alter Anglican identity.

Which apparently has been marrying and ordaining homosexuals for 2,000 years.

They want to re-shape dioceses along ideological rather than geographic lines.

Christian rather than non-Christian.  We’re funny that way.

They reject the historic episcopate and seek to put in its place a kind of theological party leadership. There is nothing “orthodox” about these schemes.

Because I said so, that’s why.

I write to make it clear that no assistance or encouragement is to be given to the Network or its leaders in their aim of replacing the generous breadth of our tradition with a narrower one. This applies to all clergy, diocesan and parish officers in their stewardship of buildings and other human and financial resources.

So if you actually believe that the Word of God means what it says, you are in all kinds of trouble, nome sane?


Posted by Christopher Johnson | Saturday, February 21st, 2009 | Uncategorized | 34 Comments

I admit to more than a little ambivalence about resolutions like this:

The diocesan board of Central Florida unanimously approved a resolution to dissociate itself from The Episcopal Church’s affiliation with the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice on Feb. 19. According to the wording of the approved resolution, notice of the dissociation is to be forwarded to the next meeting of the annual convention with a recommendation that convention endorse formal dissociation from the RCRC for the diocese.

The Executive Council of The Episcopal Church approved membership in the RCRC on behalf of The Episcopal Church in January 2006. Other dioceses have already taken steps to dissociate from the RCRC.

An explanation accompanying the approved resolution states that the “Episcopalians hold varying political positions on the morality, legality and necessity of abortion and it is therefore improper that this diocese, by virtue of an action of The Executive Council of The Episcopal Church, be deemed a member of a political lobbying group whose goal is to promote abortion upon demand, for any reason and at any time.”

On the one hand, it is good to see anyone putting distance between themselves and an organization as morally vile as the RCRC.  But on the other, what does dissociation on the diocesan level really mean? 

Central Florida is still a part of the Episcopal Organization and has repeatedly stated that it is not going anywhere.  That being the case, this action seems like nothing more than empty symbolism.

The Diocese wants moral credit for opposing these monsters but refuses to consider the idea of separating itself from the very organization that initiated this relationship in the first place.  The Apostle James had a phrase for situations like this.


Posted by Christopher Johnson | Friday, February 20th, 2009 | Uncategorized | 35 Comments

…but the Rev. Ann Fontaine is fudge-caking tired of being so goshdarned NICE:

All I know is that every attempt to be pastoral is met with “dirty deeds done dirt cheap,” as the song says.

Big AC/DC fan, are you, Annie?  You do know that they do one called “Highway to Hell,” don’t you, Annie?  Which, if we felt like it, guys like me could…just sayin’, Annie.

In our diocese they lied to the bishop about just about everything until the moment they left.

Who’s “they,” Annie?

It is sad to separate from one another – and I am sorry they felt the need to leave. However, I must say that the energy expended on trying to please them all the time has now been released for mission and ministry.

Could someone refresh my memory?  Exactly how has EpiscoCorp tried to please conservative Anglicans?  Robbie was stuffed down the throats of the Anglican world and no one was allowed to opt out.

Repeated requests of TEO and AngliCorp Canada have either been completely ignored or evaded.  Diocese after diocese either performs same-sex marriages, allows them or is about to.  North of the border, New Westie thinks that restricting SSM’s to seven or eight parishes is the same as not allowing them at all

True, another practicing homosexual hasn’t been given a pointy hat and hooked stick but that hasn’t been for lack of trying.  And dioceses all over EpiscoCorp have called for the repeal of Resolution B033, TEO’s (sort of, kind of, if you knock back a couple of straight Beams and look at it out of the corner of your eye while squinting) response to the “no new Robbies” request.

So I’m at a loss.  I guess TEO could fall back on, “Look at all we haven’t done.  We haven’t publicly declared that Greg Griffith or FW Ken had abandoned communion.  We haven’t sued your sorry ass for back pledges or sent you a bill for all the bread and wine you downed at your old parish all those years.  Have we, Johnson?”

And they’d have a point.  Of course, it’s not canonical to do any of that stuff but Mrs. Schori hasn’t let that triviality stop her which brings me back to square one.  If EpiscoCorp has bent over backwards to placate people like me, I’d really like to know how.  Because ingratitude is an ugly thing.


Posted by Christopher Johnson | Wednesday, February 18th, 2009 | Uncategorized | 12 Comments

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