Archive for August, 2011

MUST BE WEDNESDAY

Wednesday, August 31st, 2011 | Uncategorized | 39 Comments

‘Cause there’s a new Roman Catholic “rebellion” a-brewin’:

There is open rebellion among the clergy of Austria’s Catholic Church. One highly placed man of the cloth has even warned about the risk of a coming schism as significant numbers of priests are refusing obedience to the Pope and bishops for the first time in memory.

coughREFORMATIONcough.  Man, these allergies are killing me.  Anyway, Austrian memory doesn’t seem to go back that far.

The 300-plus supporters of the so-called Priests’ Initiative have had enough of what they call the church’s “delaying” tactics, and they are advocating pushing ahead with policies that openly defy current practices.

Are you guys going to nail some theses to a church door?  Come on, nail some theses to a church door!  That never gets old.  Anyway, what kind of a church do these folks want to change Rome into?

These include letting nonordained people lead religious services and deliver sermons; making communion available to divorced people who have remarried; allowing women to become priests and to take on important positions in the hierarchy; and letting priests carry out pastoral functions even if, in defiance of church rules, they have a wife and family.

That’s right.  For some reason, they want the Roman Catholic Church, which current rocks a billion and change in communicants, to emulate the Episcopal Organization, which doesn’t rock much of anybody anymore.  Hell, Rome has more peeps between its sofa cushions than the Episcopalians have in their pews. 

The issues that supporters of the initiative want addressed may be revolutionary, but they are by no means new: they constitute basic questions that have been around for a long time but have never been addressed by church officials.

Sigh.  On the bright side, the desperate need for the separation of press and church is convincingly demonstrated.  But it should be illegal to write anything at all for any publication anywhere in the world when you’re that titanically stupid.

CALIFORNIA?

Wednesday, August 31st, 2011 | Uncategorized | 20 Comments

Just so we understand each other, those of us here in the sane part of the United States have no intention of coming to the rescue when that sick joke you call a state finally comes crashing to the ground:

How will parents react when they find out they will be expected to provide workers’ compensation benefits, rest and meal breaks and paid vacation time for…babysitters? Dinner and a movie night may soon become much more complicated.

Assembly Bill 889 (authored by Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco, will require these protections for all “domestic employees,” including nannies, housekeepers and caregivers.

The bill has already passed the Assembly and is quickly moving through the Senate with blanket support from the Democrat members that control both houses of the Legislature – and without the support of a single Republican member. Assuming the bill will easily clear its last couple of legislative hurdles, AB 889 will soon be on its way to the Governor’s desk.

Under AB 889, household “employers” (aka “parents”) who hire a babysitter on a Friday night will be legally obligated to pay at least minimum wage to any sitter over the age of 18 (unless it is a family member), provide a substitute caregiver every two hours to cover rest and meal breaks, in addition to workers’ compensation coverage, overtime pay, and a meticulously calculated timecard/paycheck.

To put it another way, if you somehow manage to talk us into a financial bailout, every American flag in the country will instantly become obsolete insofar as they’ll all have one too many stars.  Since you’ve shown that you can’t govern yourselves, you’re going full-fledged colony if you want any of our money.

PERSONAL RULE

Wednesday, August 31st, 2011 | Uncategorized | 15 Comments

His Royal Majesty, King Barack I, by the grace of God King of the United States, Emperor of North America, Protector of Canada, Mexico and Greenland and Regent of Iceland, summons the Congress to listen to a Royal speech:

That night was supposed to belong to the Republicans. It was to be a showcase for the eight GOP contenders for president, a chance to use two hours of national television coverage of their debate in California to bash Obama. A chance to look presidential. But with only 198 words in a letter to the leaders of Congress, Obama  reminded them who is president right now.

Even though the speech would conflict with a scheduled debate between members of His Majesty’s Loyal Opposition.

In deciding on the grandest possible venue to unveil Obama’s jobs plan and in picking Sept. 7 even though it clashed with the Republican candidates’ debate in California, the White House was playing political hardball. But it is also ratcheting up the pressure to deliver a program that is more than just a rehash of past proposals and is bold enough to put the economy on a course more positive than today’s.

The King seemed to realize that some might see this demand as rude and overbearing so he sent out the royal court jester to try to lighten the mood.

At the White House, officials professed to be shocked at any suggestion that they would intentionally step on the planned GOP debate. “Of course not,” insisted a wounded-looking press secretary Jay Carney at his daily briefing. Asked how 8 p.m. Wednesday was selected, he responded, “There were a lot of considerations. You have to deal with Congress’s schedule. This is one debate of many, that is on one channel of many. That was not enough reason not to have it.”

Especially when His Majesty’s Loyal Opposition can have their little tea party later.

Carney seemed to lump the Republican candidates in with animals and chefs when he noted a presidential speech always competes for viewers with other TV fare, such as “the Wildlife Channel or the Cooking Channel.”

He suggested that the debate could be shifted by one hour.

Such a move might be a bit problematic since His Majesty cannot be expected to keep to a time schedule.  But hopefully, it won’t much matter.  House Speaker John Boehner reminded Mr. Obama that he is not, in fact, a king so he doesn’t get to order the Congress around.

So His Majesty should be raising his standard any day now.

COMMON KNOWLEDGE

Tuesday, August 30th, 2011 | Uncategorized | 27 Comments

You’d think it shouldn’t be necessary to advise people against against purchasing this particular product online:

Canada’s health agency on Tuesday warned would-be parents not to purchase “fresh” semen online, saying it may be tainted with infectious diseases.

“Health Canada is reminding Canadians of the serious potential health risks of using donor semen for assisted conception obtained through potentially unreliable sources, such as the Internet,” the government agency said.

Donor semen obtained through “questionable means,” it explained, may not have been screened or tested, and therefore may not be safe.

WUSSES

Tuesday, August 30th, 2011 | Uncategorized | 43 Comments

In case you were running out of reasons to shriek like a little girl about global cooling global warming global lukewarming the weather ray from the planet Xarchon climate change, some Australian researchers claim to have found a new one.  According to them, the weather can literally drive you nuts:

Rates of mental illnesses including depression and post-traumatic stress will increase as a result of climate change, a report to be released today says.

The paper, prepared for the Climate Institute, says loss of social cohesion in the wake of severe weather events related to climate change could be linked to increased rates of anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress and substance abuse.

As many as one in five people reported ”emotional injury, stress and despair” in the wake of these events.

The report, A Climate of Suffering: The Real Cost of Living with Inaction on Climate Change, called the past 15 years a ”preview of life under unrestrained global warming.”

The paper suggests a possible link between Australia’s recent decade-long drought and climate change. It points to a breakdown of social cohesion caused by loss of work and associated stability, adding that the suicide rate in rural communities rose by 8 per cent.

The report also looks at mental health in the aftermath of major weather events possibly linked to climate change.

It shows that one in 10 primary school children reported symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder in the wake of cyclone Larry in 2006. More than one in 10 reported symptoms more than three months after the cyclone.

Know something?  I don’t want to sound cruel and I certainly don’t want to minimize or dismiss the difficulties anyone might have with these events.  But I honestly wonder how our grandparents, great-grandparents, etc. managed to make it through life without going completely bat crap.

If your ancestors lived along the southern Atlantic or Gulf Coasts, they had no radio to warn them a hurricane was on the way.  They knew nothing about storm surges.  The first they realized that they were in a hurricane was right around the time when their roofs blew off and headed up the street.

Out here in the Midwest, there were no tornado sirens in the 1800′s.  You only realized that a tornado was on the way when you saw one coming right at you across your cornfield.  There was little or no snow removal.  Assuming you could get out of your cabin, you might clear a path to the well or something but otherwise, you just sat there, read the family Bible and waited for the snow to melt.

Yet somehow, society managed to survive without everyone killing everyone else.

One wonders why.  Perhaps it results from modern man having too much information.  Midwesterners knew that tornadoes were terrifying storms and that’s about it.  There were no sirens, no radar on the television with big red and yellow splotches heading right for you and no anticipation of what might happen before it had even happened yet.

There was just the storm.  But I think there’s something else in play here.

Whatever else our ancestors didn’t know, they knew one thing that modern society does not know or has deliberately decided to suppress.  Events like hurricanes, tornadoes and blizzards were a part of life.  And sometimes people died.

Many of us moderns, on the other hand, think that we are entitled to an entirely stress-free existence.  We want a high-paying job that we love, a beautiful and adoring wife, happy, healthy and well-adjusted  kids, a comfortable retirement, to die in our sleep and awake in a seat next to Christ in heaven.

If we don’t get that, if we are forcefully reminded of what the rest of the world lives with every day, namely that life can sometimes be horribly stressful and that bad things happen to pretty much everybody, we react badly. 

This wasn’t what we signed up for.  This isn’t right.  This isn’t supposed to happen.

DEMENTIA

Tuesday, August 30th, 2011 | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

I realize that some of you kids aren’t old enough but if you’ve written or read one of these blog deals for as long as I have, you’d recognize the name Ken Layne.  The guy was one of the greats back in the day, someone we all wanted to emulate.  No longer.  Layne went into a mental tailspin after the 2004 elections and, like Andrew Sullivan and Charles Johnson, he hasn’t come out of it yet.  Ed Driscoll chronicles the decline and fall of one of blogging’s former titans.

GOD BLESS HIM!!

Tuesday, August 30th, 2011 | Uncategorized | 7 Comments

I love it when Joe Biden says stuff:

A failure by the United States to lead the world in developing clean-energy technology would be the “the biggest mistake this nation has made in its entire history,” Vice President Biden said Tuesday. 

Biden, speaking at an energy summit in Nevada organized by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), called on policymakers to put aside their ideological differences and make the investments necessary to build what the Obama administration has termed a “clean-energy economy.”

Chattel slavery, the Civil War, lynching, racial discrimination and Whites Only drinking fountains just called, Joe.  They told me to tell you thanks for the rehab, big man.

A GOOD START

Tuesday, August 30th, 2011 | Uncategorized | 8 Comments

This proposal will die in the Senate but I’d love to see the Democrats brag about killing it next year:

House Republicans are planning to introduce legislation Tuesday that will force major changes at the United Nations, an organization that the bill’s author has called a “stew of corruption, mismanagement and negligence.”

The bill, by Republican House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, would require the UN adopt a voluntary budget model, in which countries selectively choose which UN agencies to fund.

The bill is expected to be introduced on Tuesday, and will also end funding for Palestinian refugees and limit the use of U.S. funds only to projects directly outlined by Congress.

PROJECT MUCH?

Monday, August 29th, 2011 | Uncategorized | 13 Comments

Muriel Porter riffs on the Anglican Diocese of Sydney:

Sydney Diocese has always been an important player in the Anglican Church of Australia.

It is the oldest and largest of the 23 Australian dioceses, and until its recent catastrophic financial losses, was the richest. It is also the most conservative, and is strident in defence of that conservatism.

Gosh.  A diocese that is strident in defence of its theological views.  You almost never see that in the Anglican world.  But is Sydney really one of the WORST THREATS TO THE ANGLICAN COMMUNION THAT IT IS POSSIBLE TO CONCEIVE?  You’re damn right it is.

Yet in the first decade of the twenty-first century, under the leadership of Archbishop Peter Jensen, Sydney Diocese has become a force to be reckoned with in the Anglican Communion. As a leader of the alternative international Anglican movement focused in the Global Anglican Future (GAFCON) project, his diocese became what can only be described as a destabilizing influence.

Remember that time Sydney lobbied one of Great Britain’s General Synods?  No, wait, that was somebody else.  The really sad thing, says Muriel, is that Sydney used to be normal.

It was not viewed with concern, however, because it seemed to inhabit an isolated, inward-looking world of its own. And it was still recognizably Anglican, requiring prayer book services, liturgical robes and the other hallmarks of traditional Anglicanism. Not any longer.

You mean they…look like…like…Baptists?!!

These days, it is quite rare to find Anglican church services in Sydney that follow an authorised prayer book or lectionary of the national church. Just as rare are robes. In fact, it is rare to find the services called “services” or even “worship”; they are usually now “meetings” or “gatherings.”

So Sydney performs weird ceremonies and dresses funny.  I seem to recall things like that happening in another Anglican church but I can’t remember which one. 

Sydney diocesan leaders seriously began their public involvement with the wider Anglican world in the lead-up to the 1998 Lambeth Conference. At that time, they joined forces with conservative American Episcopalians (Anglicans) to draw African and Asian conservatives into a coalition designed to defeat what they saw as liberalizing tendencies in the Anglican Church, particularly in North America.

Their first major victory was the controversial decision of the 1998 Lambeth Conference to oppose the ordination of homosexual people and the blessing of gay partnerships. That decision, and its rejection by both the United States Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada, has in recent years provoked the development of the alternative GAFCON movement, in which Sydney Diocese has taken a leadership role disproportionate to its size and status.

Hmmm.  Aligning with other Anglican churches who share your theological views during international Anglican gatherings.  Don’t think that’s ever happened before.  Darn right Sydney’s a threat.

Sydney’s role is not just secretarial. Its diocesan budget funds provision of training programs to GAFCON-aligned national churches in Africa and Asia sourced from the diocesan training college, Moore Theological College, among other things.

The influence of Sydney Diocese and its leaders is felt in various parts of the Australian church in a number of ways. Until the diocese’s recent financial debacle, funding was directed to certain Sydney-friendly dioceses. There is close contact with clergy and lay leaders in the orbit of Ridley Melbourne, one of the two theological colleges in the Diocese of Melbourne.

coughTRINITYWALLSTREETcough.  Allergies.

For the past 20 years, Phillip Jensen has had considerable influence in the selection of Sydney clergy. Through these roles and his church-planting activities, his influence is arguably more significant than his brother’s more public role. Together, the brothers have had a disproportionate impact on Australian and world Anglicanism for close to two decades.

Selecting clergy based on their theological views.  Wow.  You never see that in this country, that’s for sure.

Perhaps even more troubling is the close Sydney link with the Australian Fellowship of Evangelical Students (AFES), now the predominant student Christian organization across Australian universities since the demise of the once-dominant Student Christian Movement and the decline of diocesan-funded university chaplaincies.

What’s troubling about Sydney aligning with a student group, Muriel?  This.

There is some evidence of increasing Sydney influence against the ordination of women infiltrating Anglican dioceses that support women in church leadership, most notably Melbourne Diocese, and AFES is part of that.

AFES is also believed to be part of the spread of Sydney-style opposition to women in church leadership in Protestant churches such as the Churches of Christ as well. Parishes near university campuses are, according to anecdotal reports, particularly vulnerable to influxes of students converted by AFES who bring their newly-acquired conservative stance into parish life.

That right there is the real reason why Muriel wants to nuke the place.

The ordination of women to the priesthood in the early 1990s in the vast majority of Australian dioceses, but not Sydney, caused inevitable strains, but the consecration of women bishops in Perth and Melbourne in 2008 ramped up the tension significantly.

This is mainly because of the means by which women bishops became possible. The previous year, the highest Anglican church court, the Appellate Tribunal, cleared the way for women bishops through a definitive interpretation of the church’s constitution.

The constitution’s basic qualifications for bishops (“canonical fitness”) applied equally to women priests as to male priests, the Tribunal said. Sydney Diocese strongly resisted this interpretation, and complained bitterly when the Tribunal decision was announced. Its leaders, it seems, are still smarting.

Well that and all this other weird crap Sydney’s doing.

More serious has been Sydney Diocese’s recent introduction of diaconal presidency, and its Synod’s overt support – some say, permission – for lay presidency. (Diaconal presidency means clergy ordained as deacons but not as priests can preside at Holy Communion, the central Christian worship rite; lay presidency extends that permission to lay people as well. In longstanding church law and tradition in the Anglican, Catholic and Orthodox churches, priests and bishops are the only persons authorized to preside at Holy Communion.)

I’ll bet Muriel didn’t have the slightest feeling of irony when she wrote that paragraph.  So there’s really no use pointing out that according to “longstanding church law and tradition,” women and practicing homosexuals shouldn’t be ordained at all, never mind receive pointy hats.

The Archbishop of Canterbury expressed his disapproval in strong terms. This move was of such concern that it prompted a challenge to the Appellate Tribunal, which declared diaconal and lay presidency under the terms of the 2008 motion to be unconstitutional.

The subsequent 2010 decision by Sydney Synod to defy the Tribunal on the matter is unprecedented, indeed provocative, and has created consternation around the national church.

Not entirely, Muriel.  Off the top of my head, I can think of two Anglican churches that have been defying the international Anglican world for almost ten years.

No one from Sydney Diocese has denied that the intention is to continue allowing deacons to preside at Holy Communion despite the Tribunal decision. On the contrary, the heading on the report of the debate at Sydney Synod in the diocesan newspaper was “Deacons can keep celebrating.” Anecdotal evidence suggests deacons are continuing to preside at some Sydney Holy Communion services.

Let’s see.  Sydney is told that its policy is unconstitutional whereupon it flips off international Anglicanism.  That sounds vaguely familiar for some reason.

Of greater concern is the notion that a diocese would publicly declare that the opinion of the Appellate Tribunal is merely “advisory” and able to be ignored. This undermines the church constitution and such goodwill as continues to exist between the dioceses.

Head?  Meet desk.

The Tribunal is the body that interprets the constitution; it is the final arbiter. If it is to be ignored, then the constitution itself is being ignored. It is a throwing down of the gauntlet that cannot be ignored.

Why?

The Australian church is facing a real crisis that may yet prove to be the “bridge too far.” How the national church will be able to handle this situation and prevent possible repercussions both nationally and internationally is as yet unclear.

For all these reasons, Sydney Diocese can be seen to pose a threat to the stability of the Anglican Communion, to the cohesion of the Australian Anglican Church, and also to other Anglican churches such as those in the United Kingdom, in the United States, in Canada, and New Zealand.

Tru dat.  Look how stable and cohesive the Anglican Communion is now.  In the last nine years, nothing has happened to upset the Pax Anglicana in any way, shape or form.  NOTHING AT ALL!!  But if these damned Sydney reactionaries aren’t reigned in, it could all come crashing down overnight.

Churches not aligned with it, taking a different view principally on the issue of homosexuality but also on women in ordained ministry, are portrayed as deniers of the Gospel. These claims, from determined, persuasive, well-resourced church leaders bearing gifts of support for, and assistance to, emerging churches, are hard to resist.

coughTRINITYWALLSTREETcough.  Sorry about that.  Allergies again.

BREAKING

Monday, August 29th, 2011 | Uncategorized | 6 Comments

Millions of Americans can’t find jobs.  Must credit Nick Kristof:

I’ve spent a chunk of summer vacation visiting old friends here, and I can’t help feeling that national politicians and national journalists alike have dropped the ball on jobs. Some 25 million Americans are unemployed or underemployed — that’s more than 16 percent of the work force — but jobs haven’t been nearly high enough on the national agenda.

When Americans are polled about the issue they care most about, the answer by a two-to-one margin is jobs. The Boston Globe found that during President Obama’s Twitter “town hall” last month, the issue that the public most wanted to ask about was, by far, jobs. Yet during the previous two weeks of White House news briefings, reporters were far more likely to ask about political warfare with Republicans.

A study by National Journal in May found something similar: newspaper articles about “unemployment” apparently fell over the last two years, while references to the “deficit” soared.

GIT ‘ER DONE!!

Monday, August 29th, 2011 | Uncategorized | 25 Comments

Another homosexual is in line for an Episcopal pointy hat.  And none of this LA assistant bishop crap either; we’re talking about someone getting the Big Miter in the Big Apple down the road a few years:

Tracey Lind, who serves as Dean of Trinity Cathedral in Cleveland, Ohio. Previously, she was the Rector of St. Paul’s, Paterson, New Jersey; the Associate Rector at Christ Church, Ridgewood, New Jersey; and the Director of Community Ministry, Bronx Youth Ministry, in the Episcopal Diocese of New York.  She is 57 years old and is married to Emily Ingalls.

While it’s outrageous that MCJ favorite Bonnie “It’s a Distributor Cap, Not a Pepperoni Pizza It’s a River, Not a Pie” Perry was passed over for the homosexual bishop candidate slot yet again, the Editor has decided to be magnanimous.  So start sending those e-mails, people, because this needs to happen!

COCKEYED OPTIMIST

Sunday, August 28th, 2011 | Uncategorized | 13 Comments

For 500 years, the Anglican tradition has survived many calamities, argues Tom Wright.  It will survive the Current Unpleasantness:

Plus ça change. From today’s perspective, 1866 looks to be the Church’s high Victorian pomp; but the same voices are raised today, warning that the Church of England, never mind the wider Anglican Communion, is finished. The ship is going down, and it’s time for the lifeboats, whether those sent across the Tiber or the homemade ones which offer a ‘safe’ perch for ‘conservative evangelicals’

Not that Anglicans don’t have problems, mind you.  All Christians do.

I would be the last to say there are no causes for alarm. Every age has produced serious challenges to Christian faith and life, within the Church as well as outside. Ours is no exception. But it may be worth reminding ourselves what the Church is for, and what the Church of England in particular is known to be for up and down the land — except, of course, among the chatterati, who only see ‘gay vicars’ in one direction and ‘happy-clappies’ in the other.

Dr. Wright has what might be termed an Episcopalian outlook.  “The Episcopal Church is dying?!!” your Episcopal friend angrily exclaims.  “Balderdash!!  The Episcopal Church is not dying!!  My parish has never been healthier!!”

Snapshots from my time in Durham tell a true story of what the Church is there for. The foot-and-mouth crisis strikes the Dales, and the local vicar is the only person the desperate farmers know they can trust. A local authority begs the Church to take over a failing school, and within months, when I visit, a teenage boy tells me, ‘Well, sir, it’s amazing: the teachers come to lessons on time now.’ Miners’ leaders speak of the massive coal stocks still lying there unused, and we campaign, in the Lords and elsewhere, for the new technology that can release it. The new vicar at a city-centre church, dead on its feet a few years ago, apologises that the weekday service is a few minutes late in starting; he has been helping a young, frightened asylum-seeker whose case is coming up the next day. In one old mining community, so many shops had closed that the bank shut as well; the local churches have taken it over, and run it as a credit union, a literacy training centre and a day centre for the very old and the very young. In a world where ‘family’ means ‘the people in the neighbouring streets who are there for you when you need them’, I ask a young adult what’s different now she’s become a worshipping member of the Church, and she replies, ‘It’s like having a great big second family.’ The Church, said William Temple, is the only society in the world that exists for the benefit of its non-members. I have to report that this vision is alive and well, and that the Church of England, though not its only local expression, is in the middle of it.

And a lot of these people are Christians and stuff.

This is the real ‘Big Society’. It’s always been there; it hasn’t gone away. Check out the volunteers in the prison, in the hospice, in charity shops. It’s remarkable how many of them are practising Christians. They aren’t volunteering because the government has told them we can’t afford to pay for such work any more. They do it because of Jesus. Often they aren’t very articulate about this. They just find, in their bones, that they need and want to help, especially when things are really dire. But if you trace this awareness to its source, you’ll find, as often as not, that the lines lead back to a parish church or near equivalent, to the regular reading of the Bible, to the life of prayer and sacrament and fellowship. To the regular saying and singing of prayers and hymns that announce, however surprising or shocking it may be to our sceptical world, that God is God, that Jesus is Lord, that the Holy Spirit is alive and well and active in a community near you.

Which, apparently, can only be done inside the C of E.

Despite two centuries of being told the opposite, in fact, the Church can’t help itself. Secular modernism still likes to pretend that the world runs itself, and that ‘religion’ has to do with private spirituality and ­otherworldly hope. The Church — not least those who want to create a ‘pure’ type of Christianity, and look either to Rome or to a ‘biblical’ sect to provide it — has often colluded with this secularist shrinking of the task. But the genuinely biblical vision, rooted in the four gospels, is of God already being king of the world, through the victory of Jesus. ‘All authority in heaven and on earth,’ said Jesus, ‘has been given to me.’ And on earth. The Church exists to demonstrate what that means.

What does the Church of England have to do to regain its lost influence?  Pretty much what it has always done.

It exists, in other words, to do and be for the world what Jesus had been for his contemporaries: to bring healing and hope, to rescue people trapped in their own folly and sin, to straighten out the distorted pictures of reality that every age manages to produce, and to enable people to live by, and in, God’s true reality. It exists not to rescue people from the world but to rescue them for the world: to see lives transformed by the gospel so that people can discover a new depth and resonance of what it means to be human, precisely by looking beyond themselves to God, to the beauties and glories of his creation, and to their neighbours, particularly those in need. The Church does this through liturgy and laughter; through music and drug-rehabilitation programmes; through prayer and protest marches; through preaching and campaigning; through soaking itself in the Bible and immersing itself in the needs of the world. When God wants to change the world, he doesn’t send in the tanks (as many, including many critics, think he should). He sends in the meek; and by the time the world realises what’s going on, the meek have set up clinics and schools, taught people to read and to sing, and given them a hope, meaning and purpose which secular modernism (which gave us, after all, Passchendaele and Auschwitz as well as modern medicine and space travel) has failed to provide.

And it’s right here where Dr. Wright goes completely off the rails.

None of this, of course, provides the answer to the questions about women bishops, or gay clergy, or the Anglican Communion, or how to relate to our Muslim neighbours. But if you put the hard questions in the centre of the picture, everything else gets distorted. Let’s take a deep breath and remind ourselves of our real focus: the kingdom of God, the lordship of Jesus, and the power of the Holy Spirit. Then, as Jesus himself nearly said, everything else will fall into perspective. At its best — and there is a lot of the ‘best’ out there — this is what the Church of England is all about.

Normally, I don’t like it when any living person claims that this or that situation has never happened before; there is, as the writer of Ecclesiastes put it, no new thing under the sun.  But I think the Current Unpleasantness is historically unique.  Contra Dr. Wright, the present controversy is unlike any that Anglicanism has ever experienced before.

The problem with the Church of England and the rest of the Anglican world is basic.  Forgetting this or that particular issue, all of which are merely symptoms, there are two factions in modern Anglicanism.  And these two factions have mutually-exclusive ideas about what “the kingdom of God, the lordship of Jesus, and the power of the Holy Spirit” actually means in practice.

The largest faction more or less believes that the Bible is the Word of the living God, inspired by the Holy Spirit, and that omnipotent deities don’t change their minds.  On the other hand, the deity of the smaller but much wealthier faction believes that we not only can but we must interpret Scripture not based on what the words actually say but on the “spirit” behind them.

Which interpretation is helpfully provided by “theologians” and always trends in a leftist direction.  Put simply, one faction believes the Word of God even when that Word gets in its way while the other is quite happy to “interpret” any and all obstacles out of its way.

Look.  I hope Dr. Wright’s assessment of the situation is entirely correct and I am completely wrong about all this.  At this point, only a direct, forceful and unapologetic Christianity can save Great Britain.

But when you have a considerable number of British Anglicans who use Christianity to slap on a coat of “spiritual” varnish on their entirely-secular agenda and who would, if they were legally able to do so, depose Rowan Williams and make Katharine Jefferts Schori the Archbishop of Canterbury, it is worse than delusional for Dr. Wright to talk about the Church of England regaining any meaningful influence on British society.

If the Anglicans can’t or won’t do it, can any Christian church help change British society?  If you read enough Damian Thompson, British Roman Catholics could once they figure out a way to get clear of their hierarchy which seems to regard the idea of making more British Catholics with suspicion if not outright hostility. 

For that matter, Protestant churches who are willing to confront secular culture rather than adapt themselves to it could as well.  But influencing a nation and its culture requires something that has been in awfully short supply in the Church of England and in much of the rest of the western Anglican world for a very long time.

Courage.

Thanks to the Prof for alerting me to this.

THREE-DAY WEEKEND

Saturday, August 27th, 2011 | Uncategorized | 14 Comments

Planning a cookout for Labor Day?  Steaks, brats, burgers, hot dogs for the kids, portabella mushrooms for your brother’s vegetarian fiancée, pork steaks if you live in St. Louis, that kind of thing?  Sounds great; I wish I could be there. 

But when you get ready to buy beer, it’s probably a good idea to steer clear of this particular brand.  Unless, of course, you’re not particularly bothered by the prospect of not getting any for at least the next six months or so.

JOHNSON GOOD ADVICE

Friday, August 26th, 2011 | Uncategorized | 54 Comments

Mr. President?  I know that you and I haven’t exactly been close.  The fact of the matter is that I’m probably going to vote against you next year since I enthusiastically support [INSERT NAME HERE].

Nevertheless, I would like to take a more constructive tone around here than I have in the past so in that spirit, I propose two moves you might make to help the economy.  Granted neither will save anywhere near the amount that needs to be saved but they will help counter the prevailing notion that you are nothing more than a hard-left social engineer gambling with the house’s money.

First off, rescind this idiocy:

The economy remains in shambles yet President Obama keeps wasting taxpayer dollars expanding an already bloated U.S. government, this month launching a new office to help build a “diverse and inclusive workforce” at all federal agencies.

The new Office of Diversity and Inclusion will ensure that the entire U.S. government develops comprehensive strategies to drive and integrate diversity and inclusion practices. It will assist the different agencies in building a workforce that “respects individual and organizational cultures” by examining policy options, data trends and employee survey findings.

The goal is to eliminate demographic group imbalances in targeted occupations and improve workforce diversity. To attain this, special initiatives have been created targeting specific groups, including Hispanics, African Americans, American Indians, women and gays and lesbians. The idea is to create a workforce that truly reflects America’s diversity, according to the Obama Administration.

In fact, the Obama executive order creating the new agency assures that it will promote the federal workplace as a model of equal opportunity, diversity and inclusion. It will also establish a coordinated government-wide initiative to promote the cause. The investment is worth it because a commitment to equal opportunity, diversity and inclusion is critical for the federal government as an employer, according to the commander-in-chief.

Sir?  I assume you’re going to pay the diverse people who diversely work in your diversity office.  Since nobody likes unemployment, these people are going to have to justify the salaries they receive.  So we can expect them to produce entire libraries full of studies, reports, analyses, recommendations and regulations(“I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of trees suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly cut down”), all to advance a cause about which nobody anywhere gives a crap.

When most people have to deal with any government office, be it the IRS, Social Security, the Passport Office or any other, they prefer dealing with an office that is competent.  They want to know that the information they receive is accurate or the forms they request are the forms they need.  Nobody but a blockhead ever says, “Well, the IRS sent me the wrong form, my taxes are going to be late and I’m going to have to pay hundreds of dollars in penalties but golly, that was one diverse office!”

Second thing you can do is to remind your wife of the fate of Marie Antoinette.

The Obamas’ summer break on Martha’s Vineyard has already been branded a PR disaster after the couple arrived four hours apart on separate government jets.

But according to new reports, this is the least of their extravagances.

White House sources today claimed that the First Lady has spent $10million of U.S. taxpayers’ money on vacations alone in the past year.

Branding her ‘disgusting’ and ‘a vacation junkie’, they say the 47-year-old mother-of-two has been indulging in five-star hotels, where she splashes out on expensive massages and alcohol.

The ‘top source’ told the National Enquirer: ‘It’s disgusting. Michelle is taking advantage of her privileged position while the most hardworking Americans can barely afford a week or two off work.

‘When it’s all added up, she’s spent more than $10million in taxpayers’ money on her vacations.’

The First Lady is believed to have taken 42 days of holiday in the past year, including a $375,000 break in Spain and a four-day ski trip to Vail, Colorado, where she spent $2,000 a night on a suite at the Sebastian hotel.

And the first family’s nine-day stay in Martha’s Vineyard is also proving costly, with rental of the Blue Heron Farm property alone costing an estimated $50,000 a week.

The source continued: ‘Michelle also enjoys drinking expensive booze during her trips. She favours martinis with top-shelf vodka and has a taste for rich sparking wines.

‘The vacations are totally Michelle’s idea. She’s like a junkie. She can’t schedule enough getaways, and she lives from one to the next – all the while sticking it to hardworking Americans.”

Just sayin’.

NORAH O’DONNELL

Friday, August 26th, 2011 | Uncategorized | 10 Comments

Airhead:

Not many heels have stepped in to the role of chief White House correspondent, a male-dominated post that has historically led to network anchor-dom. Cognizant of her potential path, O’Donnell has embraced the opportunity to make her mark on the political media sphere. “Brian Williams had that job, Dan Rather held that job,” she says. “The people who have been chief White House correspondents are legendary and the very best journalists in American history. And, so, that was really decisive for me.”

James Gordon Bennett?  Henry Raymond?  Rank amateurs.  Joseph Pulitzer?  Might have made a good high school newspaper editor maybe.  Edward R. Murrow?  Chet Huntley?  David Brinkley?  Harry Reasoner?  Howard K. Smith?  Feh.

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