Archive for October, 2009


Posted by Christopher Johnson | Saturday, October 31st, 2009 | Uncategorized | 37 Comments

Add Gregory Cameron, the Anglican Bishop of St. Asaph, to that long list of Anglicans who wish that Pope Benedict XVI had not been so papal recently:

“I think I have two concerns really. It seems to me that what we’ve got here is basically a case of ecumenical bad manners. The decision by the Pope, I think, has taken a lot of people by surprise. There was no consultation whatsoever with the leadership of the Anglican Communion. The Archbishop of Canterbury was given 24 hours notice of the announcement and I would have hoped that that was not the way we do things.

‘More significantly, I think there is a sort of unwritten convention between the Christian world communions – the Anglicans, the Lutherans, the Methodists, the Catholics, the Orthodox – that they should try and keep unity as far as possible in each others Christian world communions.

‘And what we’ve seen, I think, in the case of the Pope in this last couple of weeks is a move which flies in the face of that, which says actually I’m happy to see division and I’m happy to invite Anglicans to join us. So quite worrying.’

Further, Father Gregory told me this afternoon,  ‘The trouble is that certain departments in the Curia seem to think that being the office of “the Vicar of Christ” allows them to behave without reference to anyone else, and that we’re grateful for the crumbs that fall from the table. I long for good ecumenical relations with Rome, but the respect needs to be mutual. Most of the Roman Catholics I know are just embarrassed.’

Two things.  The Pope owes the Anglican Communion exactly jack-squat.  He’s got his own church to look after and that’s a tough thing to do when you have to worry about Anglican feelings getting hurt over perceived slights.

Consultation?  Mutual respect?  Bishop, how long did you “consult” with the Roman Catholic Church before you decided to ordain women?  How much respect did you display when the Episcopalians unilaterally changed 2,000 years of Christian teaching in 2003 and the Communion decided to never do anything about it?

Fact is, the very last Christians in the world who should whine about non-consultation and lack of respect from other churches are Anglicans.  But you’re absolutely right about one thing, Bishop.  Respect is a two-way street.  With what measure ye mete and all that.

But do you want to know the real reason Rome didn’t consult with you?  Because it knows, or should, that once you start talking with Anglicans, the talking never ever stops.  And I have the feeling that Benedict XVI would like to have a plan that (1) actually accomplishes something and (2) comes into existence sometime in the lifetimes of the people reading this.


Posted by Christopher Johnson | Saturday, October 31st, 2009 | Uncategorized | 27 Comments

It appears that the bid of lesbian Episcopal priest Bonnie “It’s an Order of Mongolian Beef, Not a Higgs Boson It’s a River, Not a Pie” Perry, who is a lesbian, to lesbianally become the next Episcopal Bishop of Minnesota has gone down in flames.


Posted by Christopher Johnson | Friday, October 30th, 2009 | Uncategorized | 36 Comments

Maryland Episcopal Bishop Eugene Sutton announces a bold, new Episcopal Organization outreach to disaffected Roman Catholics:

In the wake of Vatican plans to make it easier for Episcopalians to become Catholic, the Episcopal bishop of Maryland would like to make one point clear: The door swings both ways.

Lost in talk of the splintering of the Anglican Communion, Bishop Eugene Taylor Sutton says, is the appeal that the 45,000-member Episcopal Diocese of Maryland has held for former Roman Catholics and others looking for a big-tent church.

While attention focused on the conversion en masse last month of a Catonsville-based order of Episcopal nuns to the Catholic Archdiocese of Baltimore, the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland has received three former Roman Catholic clergy in the past couple of months, Sutton says.

“We just want to remind people that this switching from Anglicans becoming Roman Catholics goes both ways,” Sutton said. “Many, many laypeople in our churches came from the Roman Catholic Church. We get many clergy.”

Sutton’s proposal, of course, is the same one which has been in place for years, the one that enabled us to send Rome George Rutler and Rome to send us Matt Fox.  Or us to send Rome FW Ken and Rome to send us folks who leave comments in blogs that always include the words, “I was raised Catholic but…”

I think I’ve finally figured out why Episcopalians are so bent by Benedict’s proposal.  All the Holy Father has done or will do, in essence, is to make it easier for Anglicans to join the Roman Catholic Church.  And I suspect that not all that many western Anglicans will avail themselves of the Papal offer.

So what’s the problem?  The problem is this. 

The Pope has essentially said to western liberal Anglicans, “Do I have to spell it out for you?  If you want us to ever consider you apostolic while you’re on the path that you’re on, it’s not going to happen.  Ever.  As far as we’re concerned, your people are fair evangelistic game.”


Posted by Christopher Johnson | Wednesday, October 28th, 2009 | Uncategorized | 56 Comments

If genius can be defined as the ability to drive people completely insane by the most innocuous action, then Pope Benedict XVI is a genius.  For reasons known only to their Vague, Ambiguous, Non-Judgmental, Inclusive Deity Concept, Newsweek’s Jon Meacham and the Washington Post’s Sally Quinn of On Faith asked atheist Richard Dawkins what he thought about the Roman Catholic Church’s provision for disaffected Anglicans:

Q: The Vatican is making it easier for Anglicans — priests, members and parishes — to convert to Catholicism. Some say this is further recognition of the substantial overlap in faith, doctrine and spirituality between the Catholic and Anglican traditions; others see it as poaching that could further divide the Anglican Communion. What do you think?

And as might be expected, the megalomanical old loudmouth went bat crap:

What major institution most deserves the title of greatest force for evil in the world? In a field of stiff competition, the Roman Catholic Church is surely up there among the leaders.

Ooh, ooh, I know!  For the 100 million or so people they butchered last century.  No, wait, that’s atheism.  For legally forbidding any religious views other than their own?  Yeah, you’re right, that’s also atheism. 

For torturing, imprisoning and sometimes murdering people who disagreed with them?  Nope, atheism.  For forcing people into concentration camps, often working them to death?  Son of a…atheism again. 

Okay, I’m stumped.

The Anglican church has at least a few shreds of decency, traces of kindness and humanity with which Jesus himself might have connected, however tenuously: a generosity of spirit, of respect for women, and of Christ-like compassion for the less fortunate.

On the other hand, the Roman Catholic Church spends all its time beating up people and stealing their stuff.  Big bullies.  Always beating up people and stealing their stuff.

The Anglican church does not cleave to the dotty idea that a priest, by blessing bread and wine, can transform it literally into a cannibal feast; nor to the nastier idea that possession of testicles is an essential qualification to perform the rite.

And here we go.  Dawkie?  You do not “cleave to the dotty idea” that there’s a God, cupcake.  Why should any of us Christians care what you think about anything at all?

It does not send its missionaries out to tell deliberate lies to AIDS-weakened Africans, about the alleged ineffectiveness of condoms in protecting against HIV.

In effect, Catholic missionaries deliberately try to arrange as many African deaths as they possibly can.  Tell me again that fairy tale about how people don’t need God in order to live moral and ethical lives, mein Dawkie, old chum.

Whether one agrees with him or not, there is a saintly quality in the Archbishop of Canterbury, a benignity of countenance, a well-meaning sincerity. How does Pope Ratzinger measure up? The comparison is almost embarrassing.

I have to admit that Dawk Victory got that one right.  One is a forceful, dynamic and forward-looking Christian leader who is not afraid to take risks for the Gospel and is undaunted when people get mad at him.  The other is the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Poaching? Of course it is poaching. What else could you call it?


Maybe it will succeed. If estimates are right that 1,000 Anglican clergymen will take the bait (no women, of course: they will swiftly be shown the door), what could be their motive?

Gee.  Wonder what It Was A Dawk And Stormy Night is going to say next.

For some it will be a deep-seated misogyny (although they’ll re-label it with a mendacious euphemism of some kind, which they’ll call ‘an important point of theological principle’).

Mendacious euphemism?  You mean like “an atheist explaining Christian theology” or something?  Actually, that would be more like “an embarrassingly idiotic waste of time.”

One wonders how their wives can stomach a husband whose contempt for women is so visceral that he considers them incapable even of the humble and unexacting duties of a priest.

That doesn’t make even a little bit of sense.  I don’t think I’ve ever been a woman but I have to believe that if a man who had visceral contempt for women asked me to marry him, I’d most likely turn him down.

For some, the motive will be homophobic bigotry, and a consequent dislike of the efforts of decent church leaders such as the Archbishop of Canterbury to accept those whose sexual orientation happens to deviate from majority taste.

How Much Is That Dawkie In The Window?  There are lots and lots and LOTS of “sexual orientations” that happen to deviate from majority taste.  Why don’t the Anglicans get all prog, save time and take them all on right now?

Some “sexual orientations” should be easy enough to handle while others might cause problems.  Will the three women John Smith is planning to marry each get their own set of bridesmaids?  If so, it could get kind of crowded up there at the altar.

Lots of churches are going to have to do away with pet-blessing Sundays for, um, obvious reasons.  But maybe they could replace them with spanking paddle-blessing Sundays.  Then, instead of passing the peace, people could…Johnson, for the love of God, drop it now!!

Never mind that they will be joining an institution where buggering altar boys pervades the culture.

Professional atheist logic, ladies and gentlemen.  So “buggering altar boys” pervades Roman Catholic culture, does it?  Yet Roman Catholic parents keep baptizing their kids Catholic and bringing them to Catholic churches every Sunday.

Do you seriously believe that every Roman Catholic parent in the world is that cruel?  Because if “buggering altar boys” really did pervade Catholic culture, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. 

Know why that is, dumbass?  Because Eastern Orthodoxy would be the largest and most important Christian tradition in America since all those Roman Catholic parents would have shaken Catholic dust from their feet decades ago.

So either you think that every single Roman Catholic in the world is the most vile person who ever lived(every single one; if you’re a Catholic liberal or if you’re unmarried but attend a Catholic church, you’re aiding and abetting) or your sentence not only makes no sense at all but jumps into Lake Libel and swims across it.

Come up with a mendacious euphemism for that, tough guy.

Turning to the motives of the poachers, here we find cause for real encouragement. The Roman Catholic Church is fast running out of priests. In Ireland in 2007, 160 Catholic priests died, while only nine new recruits were ordained. To say the least, those figures don’t point towards sustainability.

Yeah, that billion-and-change the snackeral mappers are pulling in is a cause for real concern.  But slow down, big smacker.  Have you seen the latest Episcopal numbers

At the rate they’re shedding peeps, every Episcopalian will eventually be his or her own bishop and diocese and they’ll be holding General Conventions at the Old Country Buffet.

No wonder that disgusting institution, the Roman Catholic Church, is dragging its flowing skirts in the dirt and touting for business like a common pimp: “Give me your homophobes, misogynists and pederasts. Send me your bigots yearning to be free of the shackles of humanity.”

And people actually think that professional atheists are arrogant, bigoted pissants full of scorn, contempt and white-hot hatred for views other than their own.  But I have a serious question, Dawkie.

I’m a Protestant and proud of it.  Lots of people who regularly comment here are Roman Catholic and equally proud of that.  I don’t know how loathsome little d-bags like you handle this sort of situation but I’ve generally found that if I want people to treat my views respectfully, I need to treat their views respectfully.

Even atheist views, Dawkie.

Do you seriously think that any Catholic is going to be convinced by digusting rhetoric like that?  Do you seriously believe that Catholics reading that are going to slap their foreheads and exclaim, “Dawkie’s right!  We need to become Anglicans immediately!”

Because if you do, you’ve just set back British education 100 years.

Archbishop Rowan Williams is too nice for his own good. Instead of meekly sharing that ignominious platform with the poachers, he should have issued a counter-challenge: “Send us your women, yearning to be priests, who could make a strong case for being the better-qualified fifty percent of humanity; send us your decent priests, sick of trying to defend the indefensible; send them all, in exchange for our woman-haters and gay-bashers.” Sounds like a good trade to me.

I can see why you like Dr. Williams.  He’s the sort of churchman who will never get in your way.  He’ll appear on BBC chat shows with you and the conversation and what “debate” there is will be pleasant.  And he’ll never insist that you believe anything in particular.

It’s not how we western Anglicans do stuff.

Prediction.  If Richard Dawkins is anything, he’s a publicity whore.  So as soon as people get bored with him, which should be any day now, Dawkie will declare that he’s a deist. 

He’ll get a book and a book tour out of it which should make the old fraud happy.  Only problem will be that his deity will be the weak, impotent, spineless jellyfish of the western liberal Anglicans.

On one level, I would not, if I were Roman Catholic, be terribly upset by this article.  Dawkie’s just being Dawkie; crap like this is what he does.  I would, however, be enraged at two people

Newsweek’s Jon Meacham and the Washington Post’s Sally Quinn.

A venture connected to what used to be two legitimate American news media sources publishes one of the most virulently anti-Catholic screeds I can ever remember reading and does it in the most dishonest way possible.

By getting somebody else to do it for them.

Meacham and Quinn wanted to say something like this directly but knew they would catch hell if they did.  Solution?  Ring up the most controversial figure you possibly can and ask him what he thinks(An atheist?  At a site called On Faith?).

If people yell at you, use that old “we were only trying to contribute to the debate” canard.  Jon?  Sal?  We were, as they say, born at night but not last night.


Posted by Christopher Johnson | Tuesday, October 27th, 2009 | Uncategorized | 90 Comments

The first Episcopal pew reaction to the Vatican’s Anglican provision has appeared in Lil Slice O’ Goofy.  You already know what’s here so I’ll just hit a few high points. 

If you’ve got something important to do, all this basically is the word “bigotry” expressed in various ways over and over.  I’m not going to mention any of the names of the people who wrote this stuff because it’s late and I don’t feel like it:

Bishop Catherine Roskam’s idea of “a church that treasures diversity of thought” is to be warmly welcomed. As I have recently argued in two Australian newspapers, the Anglican church is “theologically more spacious, liturgically more accommodating, ethically more comprehensive, and pastorally less strident, than any other part of the church universal.” There are no seriously arguable reasons why anyone should leave this church, in particular to join a church that promotes a monolithic, Rome-centered version of the Christian religion that is quite indefensible on historical and theological grounds.

Dude was a former Roman Catholic priest but you already knew that.  Moving on.

I am, always have been and always will be an Anglo-catholic rejoicing in the great inclusiveness and wonderful services of the Anglican Church. Yes, there are many points of view and many different church practices within the Anglican Communion but as long as we all can admit that there are many different views then there is no need for anyone to go across to the Catholic Church or go into fundamental Christianity.

I don’t know what planet this guy lives on.

One of my Roman Catholic clergy friends said to me several years ago, “We send to you our brightest and our best, and you seem to send to us your dregs, dissidents, clergy and laity who won’t be happy anywhere.” This latest effort on the part of Rome will show the truth in that thinking. May they go in peace, with our blessing.

It’s a win/win then.  But Prof?  FW Ken?  I’m really sorry.  I never realized you guys were so miserable.

I found this announcement very sad. It represents yet another attempt by the current pope to stand in the way of efforts to bring the Christian church into line with the good news of the gospel: that all who accept Christ as savior are to be affirmed as equal in the sight of God and other human beings — irrespective of their race, gender or sexuality. Pope Benedict needs conversion to the Gospel!

Shall we go on sinning that grace might increase?

After all these years apart I am wondering why as Anglicans we need to look at the Roman Catholic Church for guidance? The Anglican Church is light years ahead of the Roman Catholic Church with the concept of what is ministry; i.e. married priests, women priests and bishops. It is the Roman Catholic Church that should look to us.

And I’m sure the Vatican will get right on that.

The Episcopal Church should return the favor — offer a comparable deal to Catholics and Catholic priests who are interested in moving into the 21st century.

Now you’re talking.

The Anglican Church has traditionally been inclusive regarding membership and participation in communion; whereas, the Roman Church has ever been exclusive and restrictive in its practices. Those individuals who like to engage in discriminatory practices surely must need someplace to pray; their local Roman Catholic church is entirely appropriate.

Believing that actions speak louder than words, a simple review of the Church of Rome suggests that closed minds would be more comfortable in the Roman setting than the Anglican.

Dude, just say, “Whore of Babylon.”  You know you want to.  I’m teeing this next guy up for you, Prof.

Unlike the USA, the U.K. does not have a constitution prohibiting the non-interference by the government in religious affairs. The U.K. Parliament had two occasions on which it could have resolved this issue: I – in about 1850, Rome with the consent of the English government re-established its hierarchy in England. Parliament should have conditioned that on recognition of Anglican orders and permitting all Christians to receive communion at Roman Masses. II – in 1896, when Pope Leo issued his famous condemnation of Anglican orders, Parliament should have prohibited its enforcement in England. While some may condemn such ideas as an encroachment on religious freedom, such freedom does not include the right to marginalize fellow Christians — which has been precisely what Rome has done over nearly 500 years. Unfortunately, we Anglicans have not done what is needed to make Rome respect us. The recent developments are the result. The lesson Rome must learn is respect for those who disagree with it by actions, not words. Let’s start with respecting our ordinations — ALL of them, without regard to gender or sexual orientation.

What was so damned wrong with burning ’em at the stake anyway?  At least they respected us back then.

If those who become Roman Catholic Christians can truly assent to that communion’s (Vatican-approved) statements of dogma, doctrine, and moral theology, that’s exactly where they should be. Clergy would have to be ordained again; the infallibility and authority of the pope, assumption of Mary, indulgences, transubstantiation, Roman Catholic “anthropology” and divorce/remarriage come to mind as among the non-negotiables. I wonder how many can genuinely fit within that interpretation of Christianity! I doubt that the pope’s invitation implies that one can hold to the form and substance of classical Anglican theology and be housed in any way within the Roman faith community.

Pretty much.  Next?

A headline in an English newspaper, “Vatican parks tank on Rowan’s lawn,” is regrettably closer to reality than the timid response by Archbishop [of Canterbury Rowan] Williams to the disruptive attempt by the current Vatican administration to undermine the integrity of the Anglican tradition.

That’s exactly why they did it.  At a staff meeting a couple of weeks back, Benedict XVI told his advisers, “Come up with a plan that’ll piss off the Anglicans and have it on my desk by tomorrow morning.  And somebody fetch me a Leinenkugel’s!  Now!”

I am amazed by the mildness and conciliation of the Anglican response to the insensitive, poaching, schismatic actions of the Roman church. Unhappy Episcopalians may want to leave not because of any substantial issues, like adherence to the creeds or following Jesus’ teachings. They are unhappy because they are wed to an interpretation of a seven verses (out of more than 31,000) in the Bible which align with their bigotry. If the Episcopal Church were to make adherence to the creeds or belief in the divinity of Jesus optional, I could understand the Romans or, for that matter, the Lutherans, making special provision to welcome Episcopalians. In the current situation, the pope is just stirring the pot.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, we’re all bigots, blah, blah, blah.  But dude.  “Schismatic actions of the Roman church,” Gracie?  Hate to be the one to break this to you, sunshine, but the Reformation actually didn’t start when Anglican monk Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the door of Canterbury Cathedral.

Let us not impede the spiritual quest of those who desire to move and grow within the intellectual and self-righteous rigidity of Rome.

You regularly thank God that you are not as other men are, don’t you?  Pretty much every day, I’m guessing.

I think it is fine for people to change churches anytime they wish. I was a Methodist for almost 30 years and have been an Episcopalian for 36 years. I plan to remain in the church I have chosen all my life. It is interesting to me, this latest development, because my friends who are Roman have so little freedom in the area of choice of parish, and in other areas of faith. I wonder if the “Catholic wannabees” will be happy after they change.

Being part of a Christian church with actual beliefs will take some adjustment but they should be fine.

The Episcopal Church should offer positions to Roman Catholic priests who wish to be married and have children.

Leo Frade’s way ahead of you.  So far, his “Gittin’ Sahm!!” program has been a tremendous success

The Roman Catholic Church never misses an opportunity to draw the bigoted and reactionary to itself. With every backward move, they doom themselves to irrelevance.

Said it before and I’ll say it again.  The Roman Catholic Church is currently rocking a billion and change.  The Episcopal Organization claims 2 million but that’s only if you squint at their numbers while looking at them sideways.  The RCC can reach into its sofa cushions and find more peeps than attend Episcopal churches.


Posted by Christopher Johnson | Tuesday, October 27th, 2009 | Uncategorized | 52 Comments

It may well be that not all that many Anglicans will take advantage of the Vatican’s provision for Anglican traditionalists but that doesn’t mean that the Vatican proposal wasn’t entirely worthwhile.  Because it’s provided us with the delightful opportunity to watch James Carroll go completely ballistic:

Last week’s anti-Anglican salvo from Rome

Anti-Anglican salvo?  How do you figure, Jimmy?  Near as I can tell, all the Vatican has done is to streamline the process whereby Anglicans can become Catholics if they want.

shows how far the Catholic leadership has fallen from the heights of Vatican II.

Peace and blessings be upon it.

The invitation to “disgruntled’’ members of the Church of England’s extended family to abandon the Thames for the Tiber is a rejection of contemporary human experience, a resounding response of “No!’’

That’s kind of the idea.  You know, in the world but not of the world?  Be not conformed to this world but be transformed, etc?  Any of this ringing a bell, Jim?

The church against the modern world, after all.

That’s not a sentence, Jim.  Sentences need verbs and that doesn’t have one.

Not only a cruel assault on a fellow Christian communion that is valiantly struggling to strike a balance between liberal and conservative impulses;

Actually, it’s a dispute between a Christian communion and a pseudo-spiritual organization that has spent the last few decades relentlessly abandoning anything resembling actual Christian principles while keeping the jargon and the funny clothes but to-may-to, to-mah-to, as they say.

not only an insult to loyal Catholic liberals who will be denied what converted Anglicans are offered (notably a married clergy);

Correct me if I’m wrong but I assume that any Roman Catholic can worship in any church that is in communion with Rome so I can’t for the life of me figure out where you hallucinated that one, Jim.

not only a slap at women and homosexuals whose progress toward equality is a global measure of justice;

How’s that, Jim?  Nobody has to attend a particular church if they don’t want to.  Liberal folks start their own churches all the time.  You ought to look into it.

not only a stark contrast with the common Anglican practice of fully welcoming alienated Roman Catholics, while eschewing any pressure on them to convert –

Which they usually do anyway.  But I’m not sure that’s a virtue, Jim, since Episcopalians don’t believe much of anything and since you “convert” to Anglicanism merely by deciding that you’re an Anglican.

there is more.

Well, that’s good.

Equally damaging, the Vatican’s preemptive exploitation of Anglican distress explicitly ducks the large and urgent challenge facing every religion and every religious person, which is how to positively reconcile tradition with the massive changes in awareness, knowledge, and communication that come with the scientific and technological breakthroughs that daily alter the meaning of existence.

There’s the real reason Jim’s bent.  The “Turn the Roman Catholic Church Episcopalian and Make Richard McBrien Pope Before the Old Geezer Buys the Farm” Project has been set back 50 years.

From the misfit fringe of another denomination,

And my main man knows all about misfit fringes.

Rome recruits the naysayers it needs to bolster what has become its own place on the margin of Catholic life.

Uh…er…um…what?!!  Jim?  You do know that the RCC’s currently rocking a billion and change, give or take?  And that when Catholics make pilgrimages to the center of their Church, they generally don’t go to Schenectady?

First there was Opus Dei, with its crypto-fascist origins,

Actually, Opus Dei was started by Freemasons who had penetrated the Church.  Keep it down.

then there were the Holocaust-denying lovers of Latin

If you like…a little…Latin…in the Mass, you think the Holocaust didn’t happen?!!  I have no idea where Jim got that one.  Orange Sunshine, maybe?

and now the Anglo-fundies.

Otherwise known as actual Anglican Christians.

Come on over, guys!

If the alternative is sharing a religion with a contemptible old bigot like you, I imagine a lot of people will.

While the Vatican and its recruits just say no, the rest of us attempt to apply tested modes of ethical reasoning to revolutions, for example, in genetic science that separate reproduction from sexuality.

Translation: we have our house “theologians” declare that they’ve “studied” the issue and decided that boinking a man/woman/other you’re not married to isn’t a sin any longer.

While the Vatican just says no, the rest of us reckon with the ways in which the worldwide status of women emerges as the key to development and a hoped-for eradication of poverty.

Don’t know what any of that has to do with Christian doctrine but if you say so, Jim.  Seems to me that the Church has spent a lot of time at that sort of work over the centuries.

While the Vatican just says no, the rest of us see the link between triumphalist rejection of pluralism and the intolerance that undergirds most of the world’s violence.

Figured the old fraud would play that card.  Don’t know if you know this or not, Jim, but those weren’t Roman Catholics flying those planes into the World Trade Center in 2001.  The Taliban is not made up of Southern Baptists.  And Al-Qaeda does not consist entirely of homocidal Presbyterians.  Dumbass.

The story of the Vatican raid on the Anglican communion was front page news because these issues go deeper than religion.

How so?

Nothing less than the survival of the human species is at stake.

The Roman Catholic Church making it easier for Anglicans to join will destroy the world?  Wow.  For the love of God, get a freaking grip, Carroll.

Will 21st-century fundamentalism thwart science across the globe?

Science hasn’t been thwarted by “fundamentalism” yet, assmaster.

Will old habits of tribalism, nationalism, and excluding religious denominationalism prevent a new world humanism from emerging?

In other words, will people stop believing this risen-from-the-dead-for-the-sins-of-the-world crap?

Will the ancient wisdom of moral philosophies embedded in the great spiritual traditions be available as guides to future decisions?

Sure, why not?

Or will rational, self-critical, ecumenically minded religion self-destruct just when humanity most needs its positive influence?

Here’s hoping, Jim lad.

Catholicism is only part of this story, yet the affirming spirit of Vatican II

Peace and blessings be upon it.

was a resounding yes to the human future.

As opposed to the almost 2,000 years before it when everybody wanted to blow everything up and kill everybody else.

The Catholic Church, with due modesty, embraced its role as a builder of that future in equal partnership with other believers and all people of good will. That meant not just tolerance for differing religious bodies, like the Anglican Communion, but a compact of mutual advancement.

In other words, the Catholic Church began to be Episcopalian.  Ah, those were the days.

That respectful mutuality is now betrayed, but only partly so.

By the Roman Catholic Church deciding that it’s, well, Roman Catholic.

The affirmative spirit lives on outside the Catholic Church – notably among Canterbury’s affiliates – but it is alive inside Catholicism, too.

Got that right.  Although I’ve got to think that the number of National Catholic Reporter staffers probably isn’t all that impressive.

Nothing defines the ongoing triumph of Vatican II

Peace and blessings be upon it.

more clearly than the way the Catholic people – who are the church – are taking this latest demonstration of the Vatican’s rampant fallibility.

Funny.  I’ve read nothing but praise for the Vatican proposal from Catholics.  But I’m pretty sure that when Jim Carroll writes, “The Catholic people – who are the church,” he means Jim Carroll.

Rome has spoken. Now, let the conversation begin.

No, let’s not, Jim.  For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?


Posted by Christopher Johnson | Tuesday, October 27th, 2009 | Uncategorized | 8 Comments

They had the votes.  They don’t have ’em now:

Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) said Tuesday that he’d back a GOP filibuster of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s health care reform bill.

Lieberman, who caucuses with Democrats and is positioning himself as a fiscal hawk on the issue, said he opposes any health care bill that includes a government-run insurance program — even if it includes a provision allowing states to opt out of the program, as Reid has said the Senate bill will.

“We’re trying to do too much at once,” Lieberman said. “To put this government-created insurance company on top of everything else is just asking for trouble for the taxpayers, for the premium payers and for the national debt. I don’t think we need it now.”

Lieberman added that he’d vote against a public option plan “ even with an opt-out because it still creates a whole new government entitlement program for which taxpayers will be on the line.”

His comments confirmed that Reid is short of the 60 votes needed to advance the bill out of the Senate, even after Reid included the opt-out provision. Several other moderate Democrats expressed skepticism at the proposal as well, but most of the wavering Democratic senators did not go as far as Lieberman Tuesday, saying they were waiting to see the details.

UPDATE:  Seems Nanner McBotox doesn’t have the votes either.

The House Dem leadership has conducted its preliminary whip count and has tallied up less than 200 likely Yes votes in support of a health care reform bill with a robust public option, well short of the 218 needed for passage, according to an internal whip count document I’ve obtained.

The document — compiled by the office of House leader James Clyburn — was distributed privately at a meeting between Clyburn and House progressives today where the fate of the public option was the subject of some contentious debate, with liberals demanding that House leaders push harder to win over votes.

Clyburn spokesperson Kristie Greco would only say: “We currently do not have the votes for a robust public option.”


Posted by Christopher Johnson | Tuesday, October 27th, 2009 | Uncategorized | 10 Comments

Mr. President?  How’s your war against Fox News going these days?

Eight American troops were killed in two separate bomb attacks Tuesday in southern Afghanistan, making October the deadliest month of the war for U.S. forces since the 2001 invasion to oust the Taliban.

The deaths bring to 55 the total number of American troops killed in October in Afghanistan. The previous high occurred in August, when 51 U.S. soldiers died and the troubled nation held the first round of its presidential election amid a wave of Taliban insurgent attacks.


Posted by Christopher Johnson | Monday, October 26th, 2009 | Uncategorized | 37 Comments

One really has to wonder why folks like the Rev. Paul Bresnahan of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Salem, Massachusetts are so angry about the possibility of getting rid of their “bigots.”  Only thing I can think of is that Bresnahan fears that the Vatican plan just might work and greatly strengthen the Roman Catholic Church while greatly weakening the Episcopal Organization:

The Rev. Paul Bresnahan of St. Peter’s Church in Salem said he is troubled by the Catholic Church’s unexpected overture this week, which appeared to be aimed at conservative Anglicans who have become disillusioned with their church, in part over its acceptance of openly gay bishops and female priests.

“It sends a terrible message to the gay community,” said Bresnahan, the father of two gay sons. “It says, in effect, you’re not welcome here. To me, that slams the door shut in your face.”

That would explain all those bracelets I keep seeing Christians wear.  You know, the ones that they look at to find out how they, as Christians, should react in any given situation, the ones with the letters WWHT? that is the sole and entire basis for the Christian religion.  What Will Homosexuals Think?  Then Bresnahan gets nasty.

“We have now received an invitation from Catholicism to return to the Mother Church,” he wrote. “For those unhappy over the Anglican/Episcopal Church’s ‘liberal’ stance on the ordination of gays and their inclusion in our leadership and membership, there is room in Rome. For those unhappy about the ordination of women, there is spiritual refuge in the purview of the Holy See. Curiously enough, the church that brings you celibacy will allow married Anglican/Episcopal Church clergy to return, as well.

“I must respectfully decline that invitation.”

And I’m sure Rome is really choked up about it, there, Paul.


Posted by Christopher Johnson | Monday, October 26th, 2009 | Uncategorized | 13 Comments

Global South Anglican primates respond to the Vatican provision:

3. We welcome Pope Benedict XVI’s stance on the common biblical teaching on human sexuality, and the commitment to continuing ecumenical dialogue.

4. At the same time we believe that the proposed Anglican Covenant sets the necessary parameters in safeguarding the catholic and apostolic faith and order of the Communion. It gives Anglican churches worldwide a clear and principled way forward in pursuing God’s divine purposes together in the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church of Jesus Christ. We urge churches in the Communion to actively work together towards a speedy adoption of the Covenant.

Aside from the doctrinal issues involved, there are two ways of looking at this.  Archbishops Akinola, Kolini, Chew et al realize the effectiveness of the Vatican move and are desperate to hold the Communion together any way they can.  Nothing else accounts for their sudden faith in a Covenant no one’s had much faith in or hope for up to now.

Of course, this can also be considered an implied threat to Dr. Williams.  A Covenant, suggest the primates, will be effective if and only if it has genuine teeth.  Give us a Covenant that’s acceptable to us, whether or not the Americans and Canadians like it or we’ll either revisit the Vatican proposal or come up with a radical move of our own.

Stay tuned.


Posted by Christopher Johnson | Monday, October 26th, 2009 | Uncategorized | 7 Comments

Mr. Raymond Humiston of Tucson, Arizona demonstrates the importance of a Preview function:

An associate of mine, Jonathon Overpeck, is a professor at the University of Az, and a national authority on Global Warming. He was part of the UN committee which recently won the Nobel Prize for Global Warming.


Posted by Christopher Johnson | Sunday, October 25th, 2009 | Uncategorized | 20 Comments

The other day, someone sent the picture to the left as a contribution to my other site.  I haven’t run it there yet because I haven’t figured out anything witty to say about it but I’m starting to think this picture will work better here than it does there.  Because that’s a pretty good symbol for the bullseye Mark Lawrence has just painted on himself:

The voting margins were huge on Saturday as a special convention of the Diocese of South Carolina approved four resolutions [PDF] supported by the diocesan bishop, the Rt. Rev. Mark Joseph Lawrence.

In summary, the five resolutions said:

“In the Diocese of South Carolina, we understand the substance of the “doctrine, discipline and worship” of the Episcopal Church to mean that which is expressed in the Thirty-Nine Articles, the Creeds, the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral and the theology of the historic prayer books.”

“That this diocese authorize the bishop and standing committee to begin withdrawing from all bodies of the Episcopal Church that have assented to actions contrary to Holy Scripture, the doctrine, discipline and worship of Christ as this church has received them, the resolutions of the Lambeth Conference which have expressed the mind of the Communion, The Book of Common Prayer and our Constitution and Canons, until such bodies show a willingness to repent of such actions … and that the Diocese of South Carolina declares that the most recent example of this behavior, in the passage of Resolutions DO25 and CO56, to be null and void, having no effect in this Diocese, and in violation of our diocesan canon (XXXVI sec.1).”

“That this diocese … will work in partnership with such Dioceses as are willing to form missional relationships providing gatherings for bishops, clergy and laity for the express purpose of evangelism, encouragement, education and mission … and that the parishes of this diocese are encouraged to enter into their own missional relationships with orthodox congregations isolated across North America and to pursue effective initiatives which are lay-led and supported.”

“That the Diocese of South Carolina endorses the [Ridley Cambridge Draft] of the proposed Anglican Covenant, as it presently stands, in all four sections, as an expression of our full commitment to mutual submission and accountability in communion, grounded in a common faith.”

This one was tabled until next year.

“That this diocese will not condone prejudice or deny the dignity of any person, including but not limited to, those who believe themselves to be gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered. Nevertheless, we will speak the truth in love as Holy Scripture commends for the amendment of life required of disciples of Christ. It is love of neighbor and the abiding concern for their spiritual well being that compels such honesty and will never allow us to remain silent.”

“Believe themselves to be?”  You’ll probably get run for that one alone, Bishop.

Is any of this meaningful?  It might have been two or three years ago but it isn’t now.  That’s how much the Vatican’s Anglican provision has changed the game. 

This is a delaying action.  Nothing more.


Posted by Christopher Johnson | Sunday, October 25th, 2009 | Uncategorized | 84 Comments

Pope Benedict XVI is not merely a placeholder for the next guy.  The Vatican’s Anglican provision might just be the most significant event in the Christian Church in 500 years:

The Rt Rev John Hind, the Bishop of Chichester, has announced he is considering becoming a Roman Catholic in a move that could spark an exodus of clergy.

Bishop Hind said he would be “happy” to be reordained as a Catholic priest and said that divisions in Anglicanism could make it impossible to stay in the church.

He is the most senior Anglican to admit that he is prepared to accept the offer from the Pope, who shocked the Church of England last week when he paved the way for clergy to convert to Catholicism in large numbers.

The Rt Rev John Broadhurst, the Bishop of Fulham, even claimed that “the Anglican experiment is over”. He said it has been shown to be powerless to cope with the crises over gays and women bishops.

Now Bishop Hind, the most senior traditionalist in the Church of England, has confirmed that he is willing to sacrifice his salary and palace residence to defect to the Catholic Church.

“This is a remarkable new step from the Vatican,” he said. “At long last there are some choices for Catholics in the Church of England. I’d be happy to be reordained into the Catholic Church.”

While the bishop stressed that this would depend on his previous ministry being recognised, he said that the divisions in the Anglican Communion could make it impossible to stay.

“How can the Church exist if bishops are not in full communion with each other,” he said.

Bishop Broadhurst said that the Pope has made his offer in response to the pleas of Anglicans who despair at the disintegration of their Church.

“Anglicanism has become a joke because it has singularly failed to deal with any of its contentious issues,” said the bishop, who is chairman of Forward in Faith, the Anglo-Catholic network that represents around 1,000 traditionalist priests.

“There is widespread dissent across the [Anglican] Communion. We are divided in major ways on major issues and the Communion has unravelled.

“I believed in the Church I joined, but it has been revealed to have no doctrine of its own.

“I personally think it has gone past the point of no return. The Anglican experiment is over.”

I know I’ve been beating this point to death but I’m going to do it again. This controversy can be summed up in one word. 


In response to a pastoral problem, Pope Benedict XVI comes up with a bold, even audacious, pastoral solution(it says something about Anglicanism when non-Anglican pastors care more about Anglicans than Anglican pastors do).  The Archbishop of Canterbury, on the other hand, does nothing.

For six years.

So I guess it has to be heady stuff when Anglicans see a Christian leader actually providing solutions to problems instead of endlessly talking about the possibility of solutions to problems down the road somewhere. 

With any kind of luck.

I’ve said this before too.  Your move, Anglican conservatives.

UPDATE: Tip of the iceberg.  Michael Nazir-Ali is not ruling it out.


Posted by Christopher Johnson | Saturday, October 24th, 2009 | Uncategorized | 48 Comments

It isn’t just liberals who are upset about the Vatican’s recent Anglican initiative.  Dr. Williams’ predecessor is furious:

Lord Carey of Clifton, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, has criticised the Pope over the way he is attempting to woo disaffected Anglicans to Rome.

Lord Carey believes that it is unacceptable that Benedict XVI and his Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith had excluded Dr Rowan Williams, the current Archbishop of Canterbury, from the discussions on the issue.

Lord Carey, who stepped down in 2002, said he was angered by the apparent conduct of the Pope and he urged Dr Williams to make a personal protest when he visits Rome next month.

In an interview with the Times, Dr Carey said: “If what I hear is right, that he [Dr Williams] was only told two weeks ago, then I am appalled. He should express his unhappiness with the process,” Dr Carey said.

Two things.  I’m fairly certain the Vatican understands that Rowan Williams is part of the problem.  To bring this devotee of endless yammering into the process means the process would either never end or the result, if there ever was one, would be meaningless slush.

And once Dr. Williams invited the Americans to the Lambeth Conference, the Pope must have realized that the game was up and that consequently, there was no reason to delay any longer.  Benedict must also have known that if he worried about what Dr. Williams thought about his plan, he would get no plan at all.

Here’s the real conflict.  Pope Benedict XVI does things; he identified a problem, came up with a solution and implemented it.  My gracious lord of Canterbury rather enjoys talking about doing things. 


I don’t agree with George Rutler that the Vatican provision “is a final rejection of Anglicanism” but I do think that the plan is an indictment of Anglicanism.  All of it, including its conservatives.

Fact is that for the most part, Anglican conservatives have talked a good game.  A few bishops have been deposed here and there and some folks have been or still are being sued out of their meeting houses(which is not a tragedy if you ask these people).

Anglican conservatives have formed groups, designed logos, started web sites, held meetings, skipped other meetings and issued position papers.  And that’s basically it.  There’s not been much in the way of genuine risk-taking or an honest assessment of the situation and what needed to be done about it.

Here’s a question for all you center or slightly right-of-center Episcopal bishops out there.  It’s been documented again and again that Katharine Jefferts Schori has violated one canon after another in her attempts to depose bishops and fire standing committees.  Why haven’t charges been filed?

Because you’d lose?  Maybe.  But at least you’d be on record as opposing Schori’s lawlessness.  Yet you haven’t done anything about it at all.  Does it not concern you that the Presiding Bishop of your church thinks the rules don’t apply to her?

Since the eruption of the current controversy, too many of you have waited around for somebody else to do something.  Well guess what?  Somebody finally has.

Pope Benedict XVI.

From here on, all of you have your work cut out for you.  You’re going to have to come up with a reason for people to stick around Anglican Christianity or people aren’t going to.  And you’ve only got yourselves to blame if they don’t.


Posted by Christopher Johnson | Friday, October 23rd, 2009 | Uncategorized | 48 Comments

A standard liberal reaction seems to be emerging to the Vatican’s recent Anglican announcement.  What’s motivating all this is nothing other than bigotry.  Leading things off, New York Bishop Suffragan Catherine Roskam takes the backhanded route:

“We appreciate the welcome the pope extended to those in the Anglican Communion who are disaffected,” New York Bishop Suffragan Catherine Roskam said in an emailed statement. “We for our part continue to welcome our Roman Catholic brothers and sisters, both lay and ordained, conservative and liberal, who wish to belong to a church that treasures diversity of thought.”

The Executive Council’s Katie Sherrod, an ex-Catholic, thinks many of the folks who take the Pope up on his offer are going to be in for an unpleasant surprise.

Executive Council member Katie Sherrod of the continuing Diocese of Forth Worth is among the Episcopal Church’s former Roman Catholics.

May I cut in here for a second?  I’ve seen this over and over and it annoys the crap out of me.  I’m going to have to insist that people stop calling Fort Worth Forth Worth FORTHWITH!!  I apologize for losing my temper there.  Please continue.

“I watch with bemusement as Episcopalians leave our church to go to one that’s much more rigid and exclusive,” she said in a telephone interview. “I hope they find what they’re looking for there, but I have a feeling that some of the people who might think this arrangement will be different are going to be in for a surprise.”

Could be.  A Christian church with actual Christian beliefs might be a hard thing for some people to adjust to.  But do go on.

“It looks to me, just from all of the news coverage … it’s going to have a bigger impact in the Church of England than it will in the Episcopal Church,” she said. “At the heart of this, it comes down to the ordination of women in most cases. And even their objection to gays and lesbians, that’s also rooted in sexism, if you trace it back to its roots.”

Let’s see.  I hate male homosexuals because I hate female women.  I’m guessing Katie got that off a bumper sticker or something but, hell, I’ll play along.  Make yourself useful and fetch me a beer, woman!!  Next up, Andrew Gerns mindlessly regurgitates the company line comments:

What the Pope has done, apparently (if some press reports are to be believed) against the advice of his ecumenical advisers, has set up a process wherein whole groups of unhappy Anglicans and other long separated former Anglicans can now become Roman Catholics in such a way as to allow them to keep their prayer books and the clergy to keep their wives . A denomination which broke from the Church of England in 1991 applied to Rome for recognition and became the occasion for this new scheme.

The intent of the new rule is scoop up newly separated Episcopalians and other Anglicans around the world who are mad over the ordination of an openly gay bishop, the ordination of women and prayer book revision. Some of this unhappiness stretches back forty or fifty years!

To note what we share is not to say there isn’t a certain sting when we read the headlines. Benedict XVI has managed all at once to intrude into our own church’s internal struggles for a very narrow strategic purpose; insult the very validity of who we are; and, at the same claim to value what we offer. The move seems designed to divide us. Some may take joy in this, but I do not. It feels something like coming home to find that the burglar has left a note on the coffee table complimenting us on our decor.

It would be a shame for this turn of events to further deepen the divide between our churches and between our two traditions.

It would also be a shame if implying that an entire Christian tradition is motivated by hatred is allowed to “further deepen the divide between our churches and between our two traditions.”  Someone at The Friends of Jake opines:

This seems sensible, overall. Just as there are numbers of liberal Catholics moving to TEC, the conservatives may move back. If they prefer their women to cover their heads and be silent, their gays closeted, go for it. I suspect that the yoke of Roman authority might be a little harder to bear than they think, but whatever. Via con dios, amigos. Oh, and I’m sure they’ll be leaving the keys. After all, the RCs have plenty of emptying church buildings, and as an episcopal structure themselves, they aren’t going to advocate stealing churches lest someone do it to them. And this may be a way of cracking open the door towards non-celibate clergy for the RC. I suspect they might one day embrace the Orthodox view that clergy can marry but bishops can’t. Of course, those of liberal bent who want to stay RC may be somewhat dismayed by the effects of an influx of fractious conservatives.

This is interesting.  Prominent British “Catholic” homosexual Andrew Sullivan also seems to have gotten the memo.  In a post entitled “The Pope’s Anglican Blitzkrieg”(subtle, Sully), Excitable Andy writes:

The structure has yet to be formulated. In America, I doubt this will have a huge impact on anti-gay and anti-feminist Episcopalians, who have already had their own structure within the Anglican church and now outside it. In fact, I bet you the bigger impact could be a bunch of liturgically traumatized Catholics in England and America moving en masse to those sublime Anglican liturgies, if there are sufficient bells, smells, incense, and King James.

For now, however, it seems an almost baldly political move, made at a pace more reminiscent of modern politics and public relations than the traditional ecclesiastical creaking of the wheels. That is troubling to me. Churches are supposed to be about eternal truths and freedom of conscience, not what amounts to an unfriendly take-over bid for a franchise.

And it does not seem to have occurred because of some deep resolution of the theological disputes between Anglicans and Catholics, but merely by a shared abhorrence of women priests and openly gay ones. If you want to switch churches, prejudice seems a pretty poor reason for doing so. But this is so sudden it will take some time to absorb and it’s a little hard to take in. Stay tuned.

Down here, my main man Dale Price wonders:

A question for the blogmind: why is the Anglican left so enraged by this? I can understand why the Catholic left is sputtering–the newbies will be unsympathetic to their concerns.

But Benedict just did the “inclusivity” wing of Anglicanism a giant favor by offering to take all their Anglo-Catholic opponents off their hands. In short, he’s made it a lot easier for them to “win.”

Instead, you see, e.g., Susan Russell bellowing in anger. Sounding threatened, even.

The only thing I can think of is that despite the rhetoric, the left senses that the ultimate triumph over their foes will be an empty one.

But I’m open to other insights, because I am genuinely puzzled.

Might I propose a theory?  This move of Benedict’s really doesn’t have anything to do with the Anglicans.  Stay with me. 

The Roman Catholic Church is a large, powerful and influential Christian church worldwide.  The leftist Anglican churches are not.  But the Roman Catholic Church espouses values that liberals, Catholic and Episcopalian, find abhorrent.  How to remedy the situation?

Simple.  Turn the Roman Catholic Church into the Roman Episcopal Church, if I may invent a term.  Somehow or other, let the views of the Episcopal Organization eventually become those of Rome itself.

Only trouble is that Benedict XVI might just have set this project back decades.  By making it easier for conservative Anglicans to enter into full communion with the See of St. Peter, the Pope has potentially strengthened the conservative Catholic hand while greatly weakening the liberal Catholic position.

Which is intolerable to the Christian left.  Catholic, Anglican or otherwise.

UPDATE: New Long Island Episcopal Bishop Anthony Provenzano’s reaction is blunter than I expected.

At the heart of all of this is the reality that the Roman Church is willing to welcome angry, reactionary, misogynistic, homophobic people.

Which means what, TonyPro?  That the Episcopal Organization was perfectly happy to cash the pledge checks of all those “angry, reactionary, misogynistic, homophobic people” over the years?


UPDATE: Speaking of irrelevance.

In the recent communication between the Pope, Benedict XVI, and the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, which will allow Anglicans to become Roman Catholics with an “Anglican Twist,” we have a sad picture of how out-of-date and irrelevant institutional Christianity has become. Here we have two unimpressive Christian leaders, rooted deeply in yesterday, jockeying publicly to see who can be the most prejudiced about the role of women and the place of homosexual people in the life of the Christian Church. It would be amusing if it were not so ludicrous.

Nobody gives a damn what you think about anything anymore, John.  So here’s a suggestion.  Take a nice long swig of STFU.


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