Archive for November, 2009
Monday, November 30th, 2009 | Uncategorized | 9 Comments
Class? Put everything away and take out a pencil. We’re going to have a current affairs/geography pop quiz. Take one of these and pass the rest back.
Read the following passages and then write down the place that bat crap-hysterical enviro-leftist whack job George Monbiot considers to be the most evil place in the whole world. I’ve removed anything that might give the question away so you’re all going to have to think hard. You may begin:
When you think of ______, which qualities come to mind? The world’s peacekeeper, the friendly nation, a liberal counterweight to the harsher pieties of its ________ neighbour, decent, civilised, fair, well-governed? Think again. This country’s government is now behaving with all the sophistication of a chimpanzee’s tea party. So amazingly destructive has ______ become, and so insistent have my ________ friends been that I weigh into this fight, that I’ve broken my self-imposed ban on flying and come to _______.
No talking during the quiz.
So here I am, watching the astonishing spectacle of a beautiful, cultured nation turning itself into a corrupt petro-state. ______ is slipping down the development ladder, retreating from a complex, diverse economy towards dependence on a single primary resource, which happens to be the dirtiest commodity known to man. The price of this transition is the brutalisation of the country, and a government campaign against multilateralism as savage as any waged by ____________.
You should have said something before we started. Yes you may but I would suggest that you hurry. You still have to finish the quiz on time.
Until now I believed that the nation that has done most to sabotage a new climate change agreement was _________________. I was wrong. The real villain is ______. Unless we can stop it, the harm done by ______ in December 2009 will outweigh a century of good works.
If you finish early, bring the test up to my desk and then read for a while.
It is now clear that ______ will refuse to be sanctioned for abandoning its legal obligations. The Kyoto protocol can be enforced only through goodwill: countries must agree to accept punitive future obligations if they miss their current targets. But the future cut ______ has volunteered is smaller than that of any other rich nation. Never mind special measures; it won’t accept even an equal share. The ________ government is testing the international process to destruction and finding that it breaks all too easily. By demonstrating that climate sanctions aren’t worth the paper they’re written on, it threatens to render any treaty struck at Copenhagen void.
Shhh. No talking.
In Copenhagen next week, this country will do everything in its power to wreck the talks. The rest of the world must do everything in its power to stop it. But such is the fragile nature of climate agreements that one rich nation – especially a member of the G8, the Commonwealth and the Kyoto group of industrialised countries – could scupper the treaty. ______ now threatens the wellbeing of the world.
Time’s up. Pass your tests forward.
The answer? No, it isn’t the United States. It’s Canada. According to George Monbiot, Canada threatens the welfare of the entire world.
Beats me, class.
Monday, November 30th, 2009 | Uncategorized | 70 Comments
Reading this piece on the Vatican’s new Apostolic Constitution for Anglicans, one gets the impression that its author, the Rt. Rev. Pierre Whalon, bishop-in-charge of the Convocation of American Churches in Europe REALLY wants to cut loose:
In light of the lack of consultation with its own bishops, including the new Archbishop of Westminster, the unexplained delay between the announcement and the publication of this “Apostolic Constitution” (currently available only in English and Italian), as well as the insult offered to the spiritual leader of Anglicans, the Archbishop of Canterbury, there are certainly reasons to worry about the Roman Catholic Church. On the eve of my consecration as Bishop in Rome, which took place on November 18, 2001 at our parish of St. Paul’s-Within-the-Walls, I had the signal honor to be invited to the Holy See by Pope John Paul II, who wished to offer me a formal welcome to Europe. This unprecedented act of hospitality touched me deeply, as well as the Pontiff’s brief speech, in which he affirmed that the commitment of his church to the path of ecumenism is irrevocable, and has the unswerving goal of the reunion of all Christians.
I’ve got news for you, Pete. John Paul II wanted exactly the same thing Benedict XVI wants and in pretty much the same way. But excuse Pete while he does his ritual prostrations.
However, this new constitution does not seem congruent with that declaration of eight years ago, which was absolutely in line with the great decrees of Vatican II[peace and blessings be upon it], Lumen gentium and Unitatis redintegratio. This new document quotes them, but seems to have forgotten their spirit. Instead of the measured, humble cadences of those great documents, a triumphalistic accent colors Anglicanorum coetibus.
To think that all that work we put into making every other Christian tradition exactly like us ecumenism has been blown to hell because of that stupid Bavarian.
Strongly conscious of the evil effects of the various schisms, especially on the credibility of the Gospel that we all are responsible to proclaim, the Anglican Communion took the initiative of launching the ecumenical movement at the dawn of the last century. We had thought that in these last decades some real progress was being made. But the resurrection of the language of assimilation in the latest document can only disappoint all who seek the reconciliation of all Christians, whatever their particular denomination. The Vatican can rest assured that we Anglicans will not create “Roman-rite jurisdictions” for unhappy Roman Catholics!
To make matters worse, the Catholics insulted Rowan Williams.
I strongly applaud the serene manner of His Grace Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, in responding to the maladroitness of the announcement and language of this new Constitution. Instead of breaking with partners whose conduct is so peremptory, or expressing a perfectly justifiable anger, Archbishop Williams decided to keep a long-planned appointment with Benedict XVI. As a sign of apology for his disrespect, the Pope offered the Archbishop a golden bishop’s pectoral cross.
Pete? Ever have to take off a bandage that’s on a hairy part of your body? The best way is to man up, grab it and pull with one quick motion.
It’ll only hurt for a moment. If you do it slowly, you just prolong the discomfort. The same principle applies here.
Thing is, Pete, Dr. Williams is part of the problem and the Pope knows that. If the RCC had consulted Dr. Williams or any other Anglican while drafting this document, they would still be arguing about what the first word should be.
Better to get this done, release it and go from there regardless of who feels “insulted.” Besides, Pete, why should the Pope bother what the Archbishop of Canterbury thinks about anything when Dr. Williams basically admitted that ecumenism is a fraud?
In a remarkable speech on Nov. 19 at the Gregorian University, the heart of Roman Catholic teaching, the archbishop called our sister church back to order. In light of the progress of the past four decades and the permanent change of the theological modes of expression of the churches which have now come to hold in common the meanings of salvation and the identity and mission of the church, how can a “second-order question” like the ordination of women harm the unity achieved on these “first-order questions”? In his address, the Archbishop said, “And the challenge to recent Roman Catholic thinking on this would have to be: in what way does the prohibition against ordaining women so ‘enhance the life of communion,’ reinforcing the essential character of filial and communal holiness as set out in Scripture and tradition and ecumenical agreement, that its breach would compromise the purposes of the church as so defined?”
That doesn’t sound like a bishop open to the possibility that he might be wrong, Pete. That sounds like a bishop who thinks Rome is wrong and needs to change. To be more, you know…Anglican.
All Christians should hope that these developments do not signal a step back from that commitment which John Paul II had so firmly declared in 2001. In light of other recent clumsy initiatives, if the Vatican continues to insist anew on dusty decrees of a bygone era, it will isolate the Roman Church from other Christians. In the context of globalization, which the Archbishop of Canterbury called to mind, this would be a tragedy for us all.
In those immortal words of Daffy Duck, “Let’s run through that again.” The Catholics rock a billion and change worldwide. Anglicans claim 80 million but the ones that are actually advancing the Gospel dwarf those of you in the West who abandoned the idea of serious evangelism decades ago.
“Insisting anew on dusty decrees of a bygone era” will isolate Rome, Pete? Are you serious? Western liberal Anglicans have been making Christianity up as they go along for a great many years now. Rome insists that the words of Scripture mean what they say.
Guess which tradition is dying. So just say ”Whore of Babylon” and call it a day, Pete. You know you want to.
Monday, November 30th, 2009 | Uncategorized | 18 Comments
If former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee is thinking about running for president in 2012, he should forget the idea:
Maurice Clemmons, the 37-year-old Tacoma man being sought for questioning in the killing this morning of four Lakewood police officers, has a long criminal record punctuated by violence, erratic behavior and concerns about his mental health.
Nine years ago, then-Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee granted clemency to Clemmons, commuting his lengthy prison sentence over the protests of prosecutors.
“This is the day I’ve been dreading for a long time,” Larry Jegley, prosecuting attorney for Arkansas’ Pulaski County said tonight when informed that Clemmons was being sought for questioning in connection with the killings.
Clemmons’ criminal history includes at least five felony convictions in Arkansas and at least eight felony charges in Washington. The record also stands out for the number of times he has been released from custody despite questions about the danger he posed.
As governor, Mike seems to have done a lot of this sort of thing.
Several prosecutors around the state are upset with Gov. Huckabee for grant- ing clemency to violent criminals, but he is blaming the prosecutors for often not seeking the maximum penalty and keeping felons locked up longer.
Until now, Huckabee has refused to comment on his controversial policy of making violent prisoners eligible for parole– they include murderers, armed robbers and rapists, who often return to a life of crime after they’re freed – but in a statement to The Leader this week, he lashed out at prosecutors for not doing more to keep prisoners behind bars – to which Pulaski County Prosecuting Attorney Larry Jegley had this response: “That’s a load of baloney.”
“All he has to do is look in the mirror and say, ‘I let (convicted rapist) Wayne DuMond go free who then killed at least once and probably twice.’”
Jegley says the governor ignores the will of the people when he reduces a life sentence without parole that was handed down by a jury.
Nice knowing you, Mike.
ATTENTION AL GORE, ROWAN WILLIAMS, LIBERAL DEMOCRATS, THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH, LEONARDO DICAPRIO, SHERYL CROW, PRIUS DRIVERS, ETC.
Sunday, November 29th, 2009 | Uncategorized | 26 Comments
Scientists at the University of East Anglia (UEA) have admitted throwing away much of the raw temperature data on which their predictions of global warming are based.
It means that other academics are not able to check basic calculations said to show a long-term rise in temperature over the past 150 years.
The UEA’s Climatic Research Unit (CRU) was forced to reveal the loss following requests for the data under Freedom of Information legislation.
The data were gathered from weather stations around the world and then adjusted to take account of variables in the way they were collected. The revised figures were kept, but the originals — stored on paper and magnetic tape — were dumped to save space when the CRU moved to a new building
The admission follows the leaking of a thousand private emails sent and received by Professor Phil Jones, the CRU’s director. In them he discusses thwarting climate sceptics seeking access to such data.
The CRU is the world’s leading centre for reconstructing past climate and temperatures. Climate change sceptics have long been keen to examine exactly how its data were compiled. That is now impossible.
Roger Pielke, professor of environmental studies at Colorado University, discovered data had been lost when he asked for original records. “The CRU is basically saying, ‘Trust us’. So much for settling questions and resolving debates with science,” he said.
Does Climategate(or Climaquiddick) discredit science? Of course not. A true scientist wants to find out how, when, where or why and he’ll go wherever the data takes him. Climategate(or Climaquiddick) most emphatically does discredit SCIENTISTS!! with a political agenda.
And that’s all to the good, something even enviro über-leftie George Monbiot understands.
I have seldom felt so alone. Confronted with crisis, most of the environmentalists I know have gone into denial. The emails hacked from the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia, they say, are a storm in a tea cup, no big deal, exaggerated out of all recognition. It is true that climate change deniers have made wild claims which the material can’t possibly support (the end of global warming, the death of climate science). But it is also true that the emails are very damaging.
The response of the greens and most of the scientists I know is profoundly ironic, as we spend so much of our time confronting other people’s denial. Pretending that this isn’t a real crisis isn’t going to make it go away. Nor is an attempt to justify the emails with technicalities. We’ll be able to get past this only by grasping reality, apologising where appropriate and demonstrating that it cannot happen again.
Tell you what, George. Work out the science, work it out honestly, bring in the skeptics to avoid even the appearance of political bias and then get back to us.
If we’re convinced that you’re on to something, we’ll trade in our pickups and our SUV’s for Smart cars tomorrow.
I would, anyway; I have to figure that the adrenaline rush would be out of this world(Does that semi see me or not or…).
So let us know when you get the “science” nailed down, George.
Saturday, November 28th, 2009 | Uncategorized | 39 Comments
Church of England? You may not be aware of this but one of the many reasons why nobody likes you anymore is that you gave Humphrey Southern a pointy hat:
Wishing people a Happy Christmas could be seen as an “insult” or even an “obscenity” as not everyone is in a position to celebrate, a bishop has warned.
The Right Reverend Humphrey Southern, the Bishop of Repton, said it was a “hollow” greeting to make to those who were suffering.
Writing in the monthly Derby diocese newsletter, he said: “This is the ‘Happy Christmas’ month. Yet to many that greeting will be hollow, coming as an insult, or even an obscenity.”
The bishop, 49, went on to ask: “What can ‘Happy Christmas’ mean in a family whose father has been killed in a military operation in Afghanistan that fewer and fewer people understand (still less support)?
And herrrrrrrrrre comes the leftist politics.
“How do you wish ‘Happy Christmas’ to a community in the Indian Ocean who can probably count on the fingers of a couple of hands the number of Christmases they will see before their home disappears under water, victim to global warming?
No need to sweat that one, Hump. The SCIENTISTS!! at the Climate Research Unit will just change the data again and those folks in that Indian Ocean community of yours will be dry as a bone forever.
“What could it possibly mean to the victim of bullying, ostracism or racial intimidation in your workplace or neighbourhoods or community?”
So wipe that smile off your face!
While Advent was meant to be a season of preparation and expectation “too often”, he said, “that means things like shopping and decorating: working to create a domestic cocoon in which to be ‘Happy’ with friends and family.”
God forbid anyone should take pleasure in their friends and family.
Those who choose to celebrate Christmas in a cocoon and ignore the plight of others are “like the people who took their ease in the Inn, missing entirely what was happening in the Stable just around the corner,” he concluded.
Yo, Ebenezer. You mean they should have been all like, “Is that the Son of God who will take away the sins of the world in that stable over there? Why, yes, I believe it is. We’d better go over and say hello or something?”
This is so stupid on so many levels that it’s hard to know where to begin. So if you want to enjoy the holiday with your friends and your family, you don’t care about the less fortunate?
Interesting statement, that, since it implies that as long as there is one person anywhere in the world who is either less fortunate than you or has had a rougher year than you did, it is your Christian duty to be miserable 24/7/365.
Jesus said that the poor would always be with us and I think He meant that in a much broader way than just people who didn’t have sufficient money or resources. There are always going to be the “less fortunate,” always going to be people who have undergone tragedies or suffered some great loss or other.
Families and friends are a gift from God, a gift meant to be enjoyed. Merely making yourself feel bad about the less fortunate does not mean that you are concerned about them. Actually doing something for the less fortunate, big or small, whether it’s opening a food bank or checking up on a grieving friend, does.
But it is the ignorance of human nature that is absolutely breathtaking here. The period from May, 1990 to October, 1992 was the worst of my life. I had just gotten my Master’s in Library Science and was getting rejection letter after rejection letter.
I had even interviewed for a reference librarian position at the library where I had worked on and off since high school and was turned down. So I had no money apart from the occasional temp job and whatever I could get from selling whatever of value I had.
Add to this the fact that I was living with my father, someone with whom, to say the least, I had never been particularly close, and watching my mother die of Alzheimer’s one day at a time. Suffice it to say that I almost memorized Psalm 88, I read it so often.
Christmas was pretty much all I had back then. It was a little break, a little whiff of encouragement, a little indication that things would get better, and I grew to love it way more than I did when I was a kid.
I couldn’t buy anybody much of anything so the background stuff began to matter a lot more. Christmas Eve services, jumping in with the choir to sing the “Hallelujah Chorus” at the end(if you’ve never tried that, I heartily recommend it), and greeting friends there.
Going over to my sister’s next morning. My sister’s egg casserole. Performing my goofy uncle responsibilites. You know, the whole “domestic cocoon in which to be ‘Happy’ with friends and family” thing.
What’s your point, Johnson? The point is that if people hadn’t said ”Merry Christmas” to me during that stretch and then went home to their friends, their families, their houses and their substantial bank accounts, I can’t say for certain whether I’d be alive today.
Thanks to Priscilla.
Saturday, November 28th, 2009 | Uncategorized | 9 Comments
Jim Treacher notices another mainstream media inconsistency:
The media’s full of stories about a married couple who conned their way into the White House and made a mess. But when I say it…
Saturday, November 28th, 2009 | Uncategorized | 10 Comments
Friday, November 27th, 2009 | Uncategorized | 8 Comments
His reasons are, of course, not conservative reasons. But guess who thinks ObamaCare would be a disaster and needs to be killed. I’ll give you a hint:
Thursday, November 26th, 2009 | Uncategorized | 6 Comments
Wednesday, November 25th, 2009 | Uncategorized | 11 Comments
St. Louis County has finally gotten around to filing charges relating to last August’s town hall assault of an African-American man:
Six people arrested in August outside a raucous town hall meeting in south St. Louis County have been charged with misdemeanor ordinance violations.
The six, including a Post-Dispatch reporter, had attended a demonstration outside an Aug. 6 forum called by U.S. Rep. Russ Carnahan, D-St. Louis, at Bernard Middle School in Mehlville to discuss health care reform.
The charges were filed Tuesday by the St. Louis County counselor’s office, which prosecutes misdemeanor ordinance violations in unincorporated areas. All are to appear in court Jan. 21.
The maximum penalty upon conviction would be one year in jail and a $1,000 fine.
Some bloggers have been writing for months about the lag between the arrests at the politically-charged event and the filing of charges.
Yes we have. But County Counselor Patricia Redington insists that politics wasn’t involved.
County Counselor Patricia Redington insisted it had nothing to do with politics, influence or pressure from any official.
“These charges are like the 90,000 other charges we file each year,” she said.
Ordinance violation charges are usually filed within four to six weeks of an incident, Reddington said, but this case involved interviews with dozens of witnesses and review of many videos posted on the Internet.
I think that’s probably reasonable. This was a complicated case with lots and lots of video evidence to look over. And I suppose that a great many statements were given to the police that night.
Post-Dispatch reporter Jake Wagman, 30, of University City, was charged with interfering with a police officer. The charges allege that he failed to obey repeated commands “to leave the site of an ongoing disturbance.”
Elston McCowan, 47, of St. Louis, and Perry Molens, 50, of De Soto, each were charged with assaulting a person and interfering with police. They are accused of scuffling with and injuring Kenneth Gladney, a demonstrator with the Tea Party, a group generally opposed to Democrats’ universal health care proposals.
Javonne Spitz, 51, of O’Fallon, Mo., and Brian Matthews, 34, of Glendale, also were charged with interfering with an officer. Cheryl Johner, 55, of Arnold, was charged with assaulting a person and destruction of property for allegedly pushing another woman and breaking her cell phone.
The Post is going to fight the charges against their guy.
Post-Dispatch Editor Arnie Robbins issued a statement Wednesday that said, “Jake was covering a newsworthy incident. He was not in the way or interfering with the police. His press credentials were fully displayed. The charge is unfounded and will be challenged in court.”
What will happen? No idea. But stay tuned.
Wednesday, November 25th, 2009 | Uncategorized | 9 Comments
Dr. Ephraim Radner bitchslaps John Chane:
The Washington Post’s On Faith weblog recently published “A Christian Case for Same-Sex Marriage,” a column by Bishop John Chane of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington. The occasion for the piece is a debate about a law that would legalize same-sex marriage in the District of Columbia. But Bishop Chane’s main goal, as he tells us, is to “offer a short history of changing Christian understandings of the institution of marriage” that will counter traditional Christian arguments against same-sex partnerships.
Chane wishes that journalists would stop listening to those stupid fundies and start listening to him. Unfortunately, says Radner, Chane has nothing particularly worthwhile to tell them about the Christian religion or anything else.
Journalists, he worries, think that traditionalists speak for the church and for the Christian tradition. They speak for neither, according to the bishop. Given the high profile of the Post, and Bishop Chane’s standing as a bishop of a prominent (if recently beleaguered) Christian body, one should probably take his remarks seriously. Alas, as a short history his remarks cannot be taken seriously at all, but amount to a tissue of popular myths, used to promote a tired and unfounded historical perspective whose application now has a track record of political intolerance.
Dr. Radner really hopes Chane isn’t dumb enough to run the “inconsistency” smack seeing as the Episcopal stance on divorce, say, has helped contribute to our current social turmoil.
Bishop Chane first argues that traditionalists are inconsistent — maybe even hypocritical? — because Jesus was against divorce and traditionalists are not “demanding that the city council make divorce illegal.” Of course, Jesus did not proclaim all divorce wrong (cf. Matt. 9:9).More important, by begging his own question here—just what is the status of divorce, then?—Bishop Chane undercuts his case: the state’s accommodation of divorce has indeed encouraged and even created turmoil in social relations. If anything the failures of church and wider culture in this area are actually a good argument for restraint on further social confusion.
Probably not a good idea to bring up Paul either, John.
Second, Bishop Chane says that traditionalists are inconsistent in their defense of the centrality of heterosexual marriage because, after all, Paul thought marriage inferior to the celibate life. But, of course, the apostle Paul’s teaching does not claim that marriage is an inferior state, but rather that it is often an impractical one in comparison with celibacy. Bishop Chane’s disingenuous assumption that traditionalists ought to apply Paul’s teaching to all of human life was certainly not shared by other writers in the New Testament (or by Jesus), and such an attitude made only partial inroads into the Church’s practical life some centuries later. Most Christians, including Christian priests even in the Middle Ages, understood Paul’s teaching within a larger theological reading of the Scriptures that included a created sexual difference, the blessing of procreation, and the social responsibilities of church and state to nurture families. Within this reading, celibacy is a great gift, and an evangelical vocation for some, and it remains so.
And that late sacrament notion? Meaningless.
Third, Bishop Chane claims that “the church did not bless marriages until the third century, or define marriage as a sacrament until 1215.”While technically accurate in a way, the statement is wholly misleading: the “sacramental” nature of marriage, in a large sense, was already defined theologically (though not canonically) in the early 5th century by none other than Augustine, building on longstanding traditions, and the Church was deeply engaged in the formation, blessing, and ordering of married life long before this, regardless of whether standard liturgies had been formulated and enforced. The canonical standing of marriage is a red herring.
John? Dr. Radner lines his bird cage with those “patriarchy” bumper stickers of yours.
Bishop Chane’s odd denigration of the material and economic world as theologically insignificant here is astonishing, as is his whole-cloth reduction of family life before recent Western modernity to patriarchally controlled property. Bishop Chane’s claim is in fact historically false on a technical basis, given the range of economic and legal orderings of property within the Middle Ages (many of which placed legal possession in the hands of women), especially among the vast majority of the population living in agrarian contexts. It is also supremely ignorant of the actual dynamics of family life in such contexts of poverty, where common and mutual support is actually presupposed, necessary, and relied upon. Social historians like Martine Segalan have provided sophisticated analyses that have uncovered the differentiated egalitarian and mutual support among married couples that underlay rural existence in Europe over the centuries. The place of procreation in such contexts was indeed central, but for that reason hardly disposable with today’s new (and limited) economic conditions.
Put simply, all of Chane’s presuppositions are lies.
Bishop Chane’s logic, in making all his (largely unfounded) points, is that “our evolving understanding of what marriage is leads, of necessity, to a re-examination of who it is for.” That is, we now believe marriage is about mutual love, but we didn’t before; we now believe it has spiritual, not just economic, potential, but we didn’t before; and therefore, if we can change in this direction, we can apply these insights to same-sex partnerships. Bishop Chane’s rhetoric of “continual change” masks his argument’s many weaknesses: the purported changes never really took place as described, and never moved logically or closely in the direction of same-sex marriage. His argument and conclusion are false.
Intolerant lies specifically designed to advance a viciously intolerant political agenda.
Finally, it is important to point out that the errors in this picture are not merely the mistakes of the misinformed. They serve a political purpose within Bishop Chane’s church whose malice cannot be overlooked. Bishop Chane writes that “the proposed legislation would not force any congregation to change its religious teachings or bless any couple.” Perhaps. But Bishop Chane’s own church sees the matter very differently in many instances when it comes to ecclesiastical authority. Episcopal dioceses and Anglican dioceses elsewhere in North America now routinely refuse to ordain candidates who oppose church blessings of same-sex marriage. Bishop Chane’s own former diocesan communications officer routinely called for the removal from church councils of Anglicans opposed to same-sex blessings. “For if they do this when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?” (Luke 23:21): Chane’s assurances of “freedom” in the civil sphere ring hollow given his own stunning lack of support for theological and pastoral equality in the Episcopal Church.
Seriously, John. You’re not fooling any of us anymore. Intelligent people knew you were a joke a long time ago.
Wednesday, November 25th, 2009 | Uncategorized | 19 Comments
The Episcopal Diocese of Missouri held its convention last weekend and Bishop George Wayne Smith wanted attendees to know just how gosh-darned spiffy Episcopal matters are around here:
The work of mission becomes all the more crucial for a Church like the Episcopal Church, which continues its numerical decline. Over the last decade, our Church has lost 16 percent in Sunday worshipers. In the one year from 2007-8 average Sunday attendance declined 3.1% among domestic dioceses. These are not happy numbers. In that same one-year period the Diocese of Missouri showed a .4 % increase in Sunday worship, which continues the same pattern of radical stability this Diocese has seen for the past decade.
Less than 1%, huh? George, you and I both know that that’s a rounding error, buddy. But what’s the reason for the decline? It’s not about Robbie, insists George.
I think it is important to say numbers like these out loud, and to do so without blame or scorn. Finding fault is not my purpose; telling the truth is. There are underlying reasons for the decline and they may be other than the supposed reasons—for example less to do with a gay bishop and more to do with the increasingly rapid secularization of American culture. More to do with the small number of babies Episcopalian parents tend to have. But I find that telling the truth about our Church’s decline takes away anxiety.
Mrs. Schori has already famously remarked that Episcopal moms don’t squirt them out as often as the Catholics do. But if “secularization” were a factor, wouldn’t other churches show similar freefalls?
What about those kids who do manage to make out of the womb, eventually decide that the Episcopal Organization has nothing to tell them and join other churches? Does that play a role at all? And then there’s the whole money issue.
Another matter of numbers must be named, and that is the financial reality affecting people throughout this diocese. Clergy and laity tell me about lay-offs and underemployment, job transfers and job losses. These are pastoral and fiscal realities everywhere in this diocese. Parishes suffer economically whenever people lose jobs and parishes with investment income have seen that income diminish dramatically. Such has been the case for the Diocese of Missouri and our investments. Parish giving has mostly been meeting the anticipated marks—which is not to say that every parish has met the full assessment. But giving this year at least has been close to historic trends. The drop in investment income, however, has taken its toll. And in light of these realities Council has drafted a responsible budget to propose to you. I do not call it a balanced budget for two reasons. On the revenue side there is the realistic projection that the income from parish assessments will be underfunded, and on the expense side there are obligations and possibilities that will not be met—including the the fact of not funding a senior position on my staff. And so I balk at calling this a balanced budget. But even with all the pain involved, it is at least a responsible budget. I remain convinced that we have all the resources, human and financial, to do what God calls us to do. We will have to arrange our work differently than we have in recent years—but the greatest wealth of this diocese lies in the 14,000 Episcopalians living in the eastern half of the state. As we move ahead we will need to tap this human resource more closely.
Meaning: a lot of you are going to have to do a lot more volunteering a lot more often. Moving on, General Convention was a lot of fun without all those damned fundies around.
The spirit of the General Convention was by far the most pacific of the three I have attended. Most of the the bishops and deputies tried finding ways to move toward one another, despite ongoing disagreement.
Which there wasn’t any of.
The tensions around the counter-balancing issues of the Anglican Communion and human sexuality did not resolve, nor is such resolution likely in the near term. Even so, my sense was of most people trying to move toward one another.
Are there any conservatives left in this diocese? If there are, I’ve got two words for you and both of them are neener.
You should know that I remain committed to the Church’s full inclusion of the faithful gay men and lesbians among us, maintaining all the while the greatest degree of communion possible. It is no easy matter. And timing is everything, as far as I can tell. These issues do not always want to balance. I know that for many in the Diocese of Missouri the tension around these matters becomes too painful at times; it does also for me. I am, however, now mostly at peace with this tension, trusting that the Church remains in God’s hands.
I’m sure you are, George. I’m sure it keeps you up at night now and then. George Wayne Smith, if you need him.
Tuesday, November 24th, 2009 | Uncategorized | 15 Comments
This guy had a WAY worse one:
Tuesday, November 24th, 2009 | Uncategorized | 15 Comments
If you’re not sure what to get that special someone for Christmas, the Obama Administration has a suggestion. And it’ll only cost you a fiver:
The 2008 election showed what a difference grassroots organizing can make. But as the President has said many times, there is still work to be done to bring about the change we all fought for.
This button shows that you’re working hard for reform, and standing firm against the special interests that fight to maintain the status quo.
It also shows that you’re stupid enough to drop a five-spot on a button. But times have changed. I’m old enough to remember when this sort of idea was considered a joke.
Tuesday, November 24th, 2009 | Uncategorized | 18 Comments
If I read this court filing correctly, the Episcopal Organization has just taken greed to a whole new level. They’re not only suing parishes out of their meeting houses, they’re suing the lawyers who represent those parishes.
Thanks to Kevin.
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