Archive for October, 2011


Posted by Christopher Johnson | Monday, October 31st, 2011 | Uncategorized | 20 Comments

Rounding out the MCJ’s first-ever Jim Naughton Day, the Genius of Georgetown finally notices what most people figured out a long time ago.  The number of Episcopalians in this country is dropping like a millstone tossed into the sea:

I know it is fashionable, and possibly theologically correct, to say that numbers don’t tell the true story of a church’s value or fidelity, and I am aware that there are signs of vitality all over the Episcopal Church, but these numbers suggest an abbreviated future for our brand of Christianity, at a time when it seems to me that the world needs it more than ever.

Jim doesn’t know what to do about it but he knows what won’t help.

Rather than devote ourselves to reversing this trend, we seem to be on the verge of spending the next four or five years arguing about more pressing matters, such as the size of the House of Deputies. And, while I am as eager as the next person to test the proposition that people searching for meaning and transcendence in a materialistic post-modern culture are powerfully attracted to increased ecclesial efficiency, I wonder if we have chosen the best time for an extended examination of our belly buttons.

Jim?  A bunch of us have quite a few ideas for reversing the Episcopal decline into total irrelevance.  If you ever need them, be sure to let us know.


Posted by Christopher Johnson | Monday, October 31st, 2011 | Uncategorized | 8 Comments

If any of you believe that John Shelby Spong and the rest of the mitered atheists in TEO’s House of Squishops are modern phenomena, Kendall Harmon directs your attention to the story of Bishop William Montgomery Brown:

Some called him the Red Bishop, others the Bad Bishop, or even the Mad Bishop. But no one called Episcopalian William Montgomery Brown a boring bishop.

A Gilded-Age Ohioan educated at Kenyon’s Bexley Hall seminary, Brown cut a broad swath through life, a man of God who morphed into a man of Marx-and Darwin, too. He was the first Episcopalian bishop, and only one so far, to be tried for heresy.

Like so many others, Brown started out perfectly orthodox.

Some of the seminarians were reading Darwin at the time, but not Brown. “How foolish of them, I thought, to read such books!” he would later write in his autobiography, My Heresy. “This book was not a necessary part of our training for the ministry, and why should anybody in training for the ministry read anything that would tend to weaken his faith?”

Brown never got a degree but was ordained anyway since degrees were not required then.  He took an Ohio parish.

After three years of study, Brown left Bexley Hall. He never actually met all of the degree requirements. But a degree wasn’t actually required for the Episcopal priesthood. He was ordained and began his career at Grace Church in Galion, northwest of Gambier. There, he began to rise in ecclesiastical authority. And it would be in Galion that he later gained notoriety for his turn toward radicalism.

Let’s just say that Brown was an über-Episcopalian.

Brown devoted himself to his pastoral duties. He supervised missionary work in Ohio and lectured at Bexley Hall. But he also began to emerge as something of a militant Episcopalian. In 1895, he published The Church for Americans, a tract of nearly 500 pages arguing that every right-thinking American should join the Episcopal Church.

For completely religious reasons, mind you.

After all, he argued, many American governors, senators, and other notables were Episcopalians, among them William H. Vanderbilt, “the richest man the world had ever known.” Moreover, of the fifty-five signers of the Declaration of Independence, thirty-five were Episcopalians.

Which brought Brown to the attention of the national church.

The national church took note. In 1898, three years after the book’s publication, Brown was consecrated bishop-coadjutor for the Arkansas diocese and received an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree from Kenyon.

In order to fit in Arkansas society, Brown went what he probably thought was native.

He tried to shore up his standing-to “mend his political fences,” as Carden put it-by embracing southern attitudes toward race. In a book called The Crucial Race Question, Brown proposed strict segregation for the Episcopal Church: one autonomous but separate church for blacks, another for whites.

“Amalgamation is a ruinous crime,” he wrote. Cain’s murder of Abel, by comparison, was “a crime that was venial compared with that of miscegenation.”

Then Brown came up with an idea to unify Protestantism under the benevolent guidance of guess who.

Seeking to wield influence, drawn to ideas on a grand scale, Brown continued to cobble together visions of Christianity and political philosophy. The Ohio seminarian turned Arkansas racist now developed a scheme for a sort of church egalitarianism.

In a 1910 book, he unveiled a plan for “leveling.” The idea was that members of all Protestant denominations would select their own bishops and all would come together under the umbrella of Episcopalianism. As part of the project, Brown dropped some elements his church held dear, such as apostolic succession and a priestly class.

For the sake of his health, the egomaniac bishop returned to Ohio in 1911 and promptly went full Spong.  Because of SCIENCE!!

In Galion, Brown’s physician, apparently looking for ways to reinvigorate the bishop intellectually, suggested he read Darwin. With time to read and contemplate, Brown began to change his views.

And the change was big. “I no longer believed in a personal God, nor in a six-day creation, nor in a literal heaven and hell,” Brown wrote. No fall of man, nor a redemption through the blood of Christ, either. Creeds, he decided, were symbolical, nothing more.

Others guided him towards socialism, and he began reading Marx, too. “That was another revelation,” Brown wrote. “Darwin was now my Old Testament, Marx my New.”

A number of factors may explain this change. Perhaps Brown’s boyhood as a farmhand planted the seeds of class consciousness. Then there was his temperament. Brown was a man of “monumental hubris and desire for attention,” wrote Carden. “He chose shocking positions to gain notoriety.” In addition, the bishop was influenced by several unorthodox advisers. One was his secretary, a German minister, who introduced him to nontraditional notions of Christianity.

In 1920, Brown summarized his new philosophy in Communism and Christianism, a 247-page book urging readers to “Banish the Gods from the Skies and Capitalists from the Earth.”

Brown wrote that capitalism had failed, that “millions are insufficiently fed, clothed, housed and warmed, and are doomed to a perpetual and exhaustive drudgery which leaves neither leisure nor energy for the cultivation of their soul life.”

He called for “economic levelism,” a spreading out of wealth and new respect for the worker. “Communism is for me the one comprehensive term which is a synonym at once of morality, religion and Christianity,” he wrote.

Amazingly, there was once a time when Episcopal bishops actually had spines.

Church officials pondered their options. Eventually, three bishops, the minimum required, charged Brown with heresy. Eight like-minded bishops gathered in 1924 for a trial in Cleveland. They served as judges and jurors. And they quickly convicted him.

The Old Catholics were okay with Brown, though.

Meanwhile, the deposed bishop surprised his Episcopal detractors by gaining a new religious rank: he was consecrated a bishop of the Old Catholic Church of America, a group which had ties with Episcopalianism. Not wanting to lose his title, Brown had been searching for a church in communion with the Episcopal denomination.

And does this sound familiar?  To the end of his life, Brown attended an Episcopal church even though he no longer believed the Christian religion.

And he regularly made the walk from Brownella Cottage across the street to Grace Church. “He renounced everything about Christianity and yet he was there in church every Sunday,” Clinger said. “He even took communion. They held his funeral at the church.”


Posted by Christopher Johnson | Monday, October 31st, 2011 | Uncategorized | 16 Comments

Because if you took the under on how long Kim Kardashian’s marriage would last, you’d be buying me a bottle of really good Scotch right about now.


Posted by Christopher Johnson | Monday, October 31st, 2011 | Uncategorized | 9 Comments

Jim Naughton takes note of the continuing interest in the Bede Parry situation and Katharine Jefferts Schori’s part in it:

A story has been making the rounds in the last few days that purports to demonstrate that Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori knew that the Bede Parry, a former Roman Catholic monk, had sexually abused minors and was likely to do so again when she received him as a priest into the Episcopal Church while she was serving as the Bishop of Nevada.

This claim is overblown. Rather, the story is one person’s recounting of a conversation he had with a second person in which the second person allegedly recounted a conversation he had with Bishop Jefferts Schori in which he allegedly informed her of Parry’s past. In a courtroom, this sort of information is hearsay, and inadmissible. In a newsroom, it is a lead—a darn good one, but still only a lead. Those familiar with journalistic standards would know that the information is not publishable, at least by mainstream religion reporters, until confirmed by the man who allegedly had the conversation with Bishop Jefferts Schori.

Jim’s absolutely right, of course.  At this point, all we have is Bruce Marker’s version of his conversations with Abbot Gregory Polan.  Unless and until the Abbot confirms Marker’s story, we don’t have very much.  And Jim’s also correct in stating that the Presiding Bishop could make all this go away tomorrow if she wanted to.

Marker’s story can’t be accepted as factual until it is confirmed. But the existence of such a story, and the fact that it has gained traction with readers who have no ideological axes to grind, suggests that the presiding bishop will not be able to avoid speaking about this matter forever. And thanks to Mr. Marker, Abbot Polan may soon find himself in a similarly untenable position.

In Crisis Communications 101 (a course that exists entirely in my head) one is taught rules for governing the release of bad news: tell it yourself, tell it all, and tell it quickly. These rules apply with special force to organizations whose moral credibility is their stock in trade. I don’t know that the presiding bishop has bad news to deliver, but either way, she would be well advised to put the facts of the Parry case before us.

And the fact that sites like this one have latched on to this story means nothing.

It is no surprise that the Episcopal Church’s ideological adversaries have been all over this issue. We at the Café find ourselves in the unusual position of believing that however overheated their rhetoric and under-sourced their stories, they may be doing the church a greater service in this matter, than the church is doing for itself.

Can’t argue with any of that.  And Jim’s commenters agree.  Obviously, the Presiding Bishop isn’t going to say anything  unless she absolutely has to.  And if Gregory Polan has decided, for whatever reason, to clam up, then speculation about what Katharine Jefferts Schori knew about Bede Parry and when she knew it will continue to fester.  To the detriment of the Episcopal Church.


Posted by Christopher Johnson | Sunday, October 30th, 2011 | Uncategorized | 59 Comments

It’s been an interesting week around this town.  In game 6 of the World Series, the Cardinals were down to their last strike twice and ended up winning the game and the Series.  Today, the New Orleans Saints, one of the best teams in the NFL who put up 62 points against the Colts last week, came into town and got curb-stomped 31-21 by my previously-winless Rams.

Folks here have been having fun with a series of amusing coincidences all revolving around the number 11.  Among others, someone pointed out that in the year 2011, the Cardinals won the eleventh world title in their history.  David Freese, who hit the Game Six winning home run in the eleventh inning, has eleven letters in his name.  And there were a quite a few others.

Anyway, today is the Editorial birthday.  Did you do anything special, Johnson?  Nah.  After the week St. Louis just had, “anything special” wasn’t going to amount to much.  Plus I recently got over a week and a half’s worth of panic attacks only to have my gout flare back up so I didn’t feel too much like walking around.

So after the Rams game, I managed to get myself down to my truck, aimlessly drove around south St. Louis County for an hour or so, hit a couple of Starbucks drive-throughs, listened to the Rams post-game show on the radio, had Taco Bell make dinner and went home.  At one point, one of guys on the air pointed out that the Rams’ Brandon Gibson, who wears the number 11, had one carry today for 11 yards.

Then it hit me.  Today I turned 56 years old.  When you add the numbers 5 and 6, what sum do you get?

Just sayin’.



Posted by Christopher Johnson | Saturday, October 29th, 2011 | Uncategorized | 31 Comments

Part the fourth:

A tense standoff between protesters and authorities near the steps of the Colorado Capitol erupted into a clash Saturday that resulted in a surge of demonstrators being met with police force that included reports of pepper spray and rubber bullets.

The situation downtown escalated when some supporters of the Occupy Wall Street movement marching in a group of about 2,000 tried to advance up the Capitol steps.

About eight officers scuffled with a group of protesters, according to The Denver Post, and police confirmed to the newspaper that they used pepper spray and either rubber bullets or pepper balls to break up the crowd. 

Denver police spokesman Matt Murray said protesters knocked an officer off his motorcycle and other officers were kicked by demonstrators.


Posted by Christopher Johnson | Saturday, October 29th, 2011 | Uncategorized | 12 Comments

If you’re a Middle Eastern Christian, the Obama Administration is certain that you can turn something up:

Beirut Arab news agency al Nashra reported on Saturday November 22, that [White House Muslim envoy] Dalia Mogahed has succeeded in canceling a meeting between the Maronite Patriarch of Lebanon and President Barack Obama. Writing in al Nashra, the reporter said “an unnamed US source told the news agency, that those who sought canceling a visit of (the spiritual head of the Maronite Church) Patriarch Beshara Rahi to the White House are Dalia Mujahid (Mogahed), the highest adviser on Arab and Islamic Affairs in the State Department, who is from Egyptian origins. And that,” according to al Nashra, “heeding a request by the higher leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, who consider that US Administration must support the Islamist Sunni current facing the Iranian current in the region.”

The al Nashra report, circulating now widely in the Middle East, but also in the United States and across the Lebanese Christian Diaspora confirms what was already known about the impact the so-called “advisors on Arab and Islamic Affairs” in the White House on Middle East issues in general and on US policies regarding the Christians in the Middle East.

The anti-Middle East Christian lobbying in Washington, attributed to Muslim Brotherhood front groups and sympathizers is not limited to the Maronites, who form the bulk of the two million Lebanese Americans. According to research showing the links between Presidential adviser Dalia Mogahed and the Muslim Brotherhood, and to NGOs representing Middle East Christian groups in the US, blocking Middle East Christian meetings at the White House and the State Department have been associated with the work of the “advisors” and their allies in the Islamist camp in Washington such as CAIR and MPAC.

Coptic Solidarity International which has been trying to obtain meetings at the White House or with Secretary Clinton at State to expose the horrors committed against the Christian Copts of Egypt, were not granted such access. “Probably because of fear that American Copts will expose the role of the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafists in Egypt” said an official with Coptic NGOs.

Also and despite the many massacres against Christians in Iraq over the past two years, representatives from the Assyro-Chaldeans of the US were not received in the Oval Office or by Secretary Clinton, at a time Islamist linked groups are on the roster of invitations to the White House. Indicatively, Administration officials declined invitations to speak at the annual Assyrian Christian convention this year, few months from the start of the withdrawal from Iraq.


Posted by Christopher Johnson | Saturday, October 29th, 2011 | Uncategorized | 6 Comments

Paraphrasing Prince, tonight Obama campaigns like it’s 1936:

While Republican presidential candidates are looking forward by proposing variations of a flat income tax, President Obama’s tax-the-rich campaign strategy is looking backward—to Franklin Roosevelt’s 1936 reelection campaign.  FDR won his reelection, but the American people lost: Roosevelt’s new taxes on business and the “economic royalists” gave us the “Roosevelt recession” of 1937-38.

By August of 1935, Roosevelt had achieved some of his signature pieces of legislation: a new entitlement program known as Social Security, banking reform, pro-union reform, infrastructure expansion and massive transfers of wealth to the poor and middle classes.  Sound familiar?

FDR also ran up federal spending significantly: from 6 percent to 9 percent of the economy.

However, FDR needed more revenue to support his big-government schemes.  More importantly, he needed a villain to explain why, given the passage of his New Deal legislation, government spending and regulations, the economy was still struggling.

So he proposed raising taxes on the rich, which he dubbed a “Wealth Tax.”  As he explained to Congress in June 1935, “Our revenue laws have operated in many ways to the unfair advantage of the few, and they have done little to prevent the unjust concentration of wealth and economic power. … Social unrest and a deepening sense of unfairness are dangers to our national life which we must minimize by rigorous methods.”  President Obama couldn’t have said it better himself.

There were several components to FDR’s plan.  First he wanted very high taxes on the rich—up to 79 percent—and to lower the thresholds so that more high-income earners paid more taxes.  He also wanted to increase the estate tax.  As for business, he wanted to close the “loopholes,” a graduated corporate income tax and a tax on intercorporate dividends.

But the bill that actually passed the Democratically controlled Congress in 1935 would not raise much money—estimated at about $250 million, which initially seemed like enough to cover budgetary shortfalls.  FDR’s associates acknowledged at the time that the Wealth Tax was more about politics than policy, or as Treasury Secretary Henry Morgenthau put it, “it was more or less a campaign document.”

Like Obama, FDR faced what he saw as a big problem: Businesses had a lot of cash on hand but weren’t spending it.   “Regime uncertainty,” the reluctance of business to hire and invest when faced with a growing onslaught of new taxes and regulations, suppressed capital spending.  No one knew what the future held so businesses held on to their cash hoping to survive.  Again, sound familiar?


Posted by Christopher Johnson | Saturday, October 29th, 2011 | Uncategorized | 15 Comments

Part the third:

City officials temporarily denied Occupy Madison a new street use permit Wednesday after protesters violated public health and safety conditions and failed to follow the correct processes to renew or amend a permit.

The permit, which expired Wednesday at noon, required Occupy Madison protesters to relocate from their current space at 30 West Mifflin Street, also called 30 on the Square.

A neighboring hotel’s staff alleged voiced concerns about having to recently escort hotel employees to and from bus stops late at night due to inappropriate behavior, such as public cello practice, if you know what I mean, from street protesters.

Content edited slightly.


Posted by Christopher Johnson | Saturday, October 29th, 2011 | Uncategorized | 7 Comments

The Bede Parry story, and Katharine Jefferts Schori’s role in it, refuses to go away.  Information has surfaced which suggests that while she was still the Episcopal Bishop of Nevada, the Presiding Bishop knew exactly who Bede Parry was and what he had done but took him on as a priest anyway.

A man named Bruce Marker, one of Parry’s victims, started a web site called Conception Abbey Abuse to try to keep the issue of Parry’s abuses and the totally inadequate response to them, before the public.  Last July, Marker posted notes of conversations about Parry that he’d had with Conception Abbot Gregory Polan both by himself and in the presence of others.  If true, these conversations are damning:

During our first telephone conversation, on Monday, April 25, 2011, you shared the following information:

1) You heard something about Bede’s 1981 misconduct at St. John’s “at the time of the incident”.

2) You were aware of an incident involving Bede Parry with a member of the abbey’s choir in the summer of 1987.

3) Bede Parry was sent to New Mexico soon after the 1987 incident.

4) When Bede Parry tried to enter another monastery, he took psychological tests that showed a “proclivity toward sexual misconduct with minors.”

5) You called Parry’s boss at an ambulance company and a woman bishop with the Episcopal Church with the information.

6) You identified the woman bishop as Katharine Jefferts Schori.

7) You told Katharine Jefferts Schori not only about the allegations [plural] against Bede, but also of Bede’s attempt to join another monastery, the psychological testing and his “proclivity”.

8 ) That Katharine Jefferts Schori, despite your revelations, “allowed him to continue to work.”

During an April 28, 2011, telephone conversation you shared or confirmed (with Fr. Patrick Caveglia and Fr.Daniel Petsche in your office and all on speakerphone) the following information:

1) You agreed that Katherine Jefferts Schori had known about Bede’s “propensity to reoffend” for nine years.

In our last conversation, you said that you had to trust your conscience. I find it hard to believe that your conscience is telling you to stonewall.

I also request that you end all speculation regarding your conversations with Katharine Jefferts Schori and Dan Edwards[the current Episcopal Bishop of Nevada]. They ignored your warnings and are rewriting history to serve their own agendas. Please do not fall victim to that trap.

You may recall that Edwards issued what was essentially a Sergeant Schultz “We know nuthink.  NUTHthink!” statement last July.  And you may also recall that while still Bishop of Nevada, Katharine Jefferts Schori agreed to take Parry on as a priest in 2004.

But if Marker is accurate, Schori knew everything important that there was to know about Bede Parry in 2002 but took him on anyway.  And Dan Edwards lied through his teeth.  So the Anglican Curmudgeon would like some answers.

Bishop Jefferts Schori, it is time for you to come out of your cocoon of silence on this topic, as well. The entire Episcopal Church (USA) deserves the truth as to why you regarded a Catholic priest with such a prior record — known to you after being “warned” by his Abbot — as morally fit for reception as a priest into your own Diocese.

Particularly, your Church deserves to know how you reconciled the version of the facts which Father Parry admits he gave you, which was incomplete and admitted only one prior offense in 1987, with the version you heard from his Abbot — and then decided to receive him despite his lies to you.

More particularly, we need to have your own word on the record as to whether or not you received and read the psychological report on Father Parry which Abbot Polan had in his possession and which ended, as Abbot Polan apparently admitted he told you, with a conclusion to the effect that Bede Parry had a propensity to offend again. (This is the same report which the lawsuit filed by one of Fr. Parry’s adolescent victims alleges was sent to you for your information, even though Bishop Edwards of Nevada now denies that it is in the files he has on Fr. Parry.)

More particularly still, given that Bishop Edwards claims that you gave instructions, following his reception, that Fr. Parry be kept from all contact with minors, we need to hear from you as to why his employers at All Saints Las Vegas stated in 2011 that they had never been aware of any such instructions.

Finally — and not least of all, but far more serious — one would like to know just what evidence you had before you in 2004 of Fr. Parry’s moral and godly character (to quote Canon III.11 as then in effect [and continued unchanged today as Canon III.10.3 (a) (3)]), which was substantial enough and sufficient, in your view, to override all the testimony you then had to the contrary, so that he qualified for reception into your Diocese as one of your priests.

Failing your open, full and honest response on all these weighty matters, one waits to see whether you will self-report your offenses against the Canons in this case to your own Intake Officer, Bishop Matthews, for investigation by the same Disciplinary Board for Bishops whose report you are awaiting in the case against Bishop Lawrence of South Carolina. And the longer the period during which you refuse to speak openly to this matter, then perhaps the more might you subject yourself, mutatis mutandis, to charges that you have likewise “abandoned the communion of the Episcopal Church.”

Will Mrs. Schori turn herself in?  Doubtful.  Will one of the bishops bring charges?  Although the possibility can’t be ruled out, I don’t see it happening.  Can any Episcopal clergy do it?  Apparently.   Will they?  Only if they’re particularly interested in committing Episcopal Organization career suicide.

I still doubt that anything will ever of this.  Even if, mirabile dictu, charges are brought, I think we all know what the results of any investigation will be. 

One hopes that Mrs. Schori is supoenaed to testify in any lawsuit against the Abbey.  Hopefully, the truth about what Mrs. Schori knew about Bede Parry and when she knew it will come out even if the Episcopal Organization decides once again to ignore both the truth and its own canons in order to save its Presiding Bishop’s skin.


Posted by Christopher Johnson | Thursday, October 27th, 2011 | Uncategorized | 18 Comments

Part the second:

The Occupy Wall Street volunteer kitchen staff launched a “counter” revolution yesterday — because they’re angry about working 18-hour days to provide food for “professional homeless” people and ex-cons masquerading as protesters.

For three days beginning tomorrow, the cooks will serve only brown rice and other spartan grub instead of the usual menu of organic chicken and vegetables, spaghetti bolognese, and roasted beet and sheep’s-milk-cheese salad.

They will also provide directions to local soup kitchens for the vagrants, criminals and other freeloaders who have been descending on Zuccotti Park in increasing numbers every day.

“We need to limit the amount of food we’re putting out” to curb the influx of derelicts, said Rafael Moreno, a kitchen volunteer.

Many of those being fed “are professional homeless people. They know what they’re doing,” said the guard at the food-storage area.

For I was hungry and you said, “We’re trying to change the world here so hit the road!  There’s a soup kitchen eight blocks that way!  Hit them up for free grub, derelict!”  I was thirsty and you said, “Cry me a river!  I’ve got a doctorate in applied linguistics, I can’t find a job in my chosen field and it’s all because of Wall Street!!”  I was a stranger and you told me to keep moving because you had way more important problems to worry about than whether or not some homeless guy had a warm place to sleep.

Oh and James 2:15-16, Ms. Kaeton.  Discuss.


Posted by Christopher Johnson | Thursday, October 27th, 2011 | Uncategorized | 9 Comments

The Anglican Covenant is done:

Sydney has rejected the Anglican Covenant. The 11 October vote by the 49th meeting of the Diocese of Sydney Synod likely spells the death knell for Dr Rowan Williams’ plan for a global agreement to set the parameters of doctrine and discipline for the Anglican Communion.

Support for the Covenant peaked in the run-up to the 2009 meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council in Kingston, however, Dr Williams’ untimely intervention into the Covenant debate and changes made to the document have alienated both left and right.

Liberal dioceses in New Zealand, Australia and the US have rejected the plan as un-Anglican, while the Global South Primates last year stated that “while we acknowledge that the efforts to heal our brokenness through the introduction of an Anglican Covenant were well intentioned, we have come to the conclusion the current text is fatally flawed and so support for this initiative is no longer appropriate.”

Good riddance.  As George Conger correctly states, no one likes this thing.  Liberals refuse to agree to anything that might limit their theological innovations while conservatives have known for a long time that the Covenant, as written, has no teeth and cannot rein in the Canadians and the Americans.

What now?  I suppose Rowan Williams could kick the can down the road once more and take another run at it.  Of course, any new covenant, however many years it takes to create one, will be even more worthless than the current one is.

If Dr. Williams was as intelligent as people think he is, he would forget about Anglican covenants altogether, drop the idea of who is “officially” Anglican and who isn’t and let the Anglican world revert to its pre-1868 condition.  But I don’t think Dr. Williams is as intelligent as people think he is.


Posted by Christopher Johnson | Thursday, October 27th, 2011 | Uncategorized | 19 Comments

What four-letter word best describes the difference between Occupy Wall Street and the Tea Party?  Soap:

Without running water or working toilets, the crowded anti-Wall Street encampments across the country are not the most pleasant-smelling places to live. Nor are they quiet, with drumming and chanting echoing through the air at all hours of the night.

That’s why police and neighbors in some cities are starting to lose patience with the protesters, who are preparing to settle in for the winter months.

And businesses and residents near New York’s Zuccotti Park, the unofficial headquarters of the movement that began in mid-September, are demanding something be done to discourage the hundreds of protesters from urinating in the street and making noise at all hours. 

“A lot of tourists coming down from hotels are so disgusted and disappointed when they see this,” said Stacey Tzortzatos, manager of a sandwich shop near Zuccotti Park. “I hope for the sake of the city the mayor does close this down.” 

She complained that the protesters who come in by the dozen to use her bathroom dislodged a sink and caused a flood, and that police barricades are preventing her normal lunch crowd from stopping by.

John Tuttle works a few blocks away from the park and said some protesters’ behavior has become a health hazard. 

“I saw a gentleman who was actually using Tupperware containers to urinate in,” Tuttle said. “He actually was dumping it in the street.”


Posted by Christopher Johnson | Wednesday, October 26th, 2011 | Uncategorized | 31 Comments

The Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh has decided to discontinue its legal proceedings:

Eight years of property litigation involving the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh has ended, but most parishes that broke from the Episcopal Church still face negotiations over their buildings.

After the Pennsylvania Supreme Court last week denied an appeal from the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh, which had argued that it owned the property, the Anglican decided diocese it will not appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, spokesman David Trautman said.

“This whole string of litigation is ended, is done,” he said.

Which is all to the good.  Shake the dust from your feet and all that.  Besides, the sooner ACNA gets clear of the legal distractions and gets on with the work of the Lord, the better for ACNA and for a genuine Anglican witness in North America.

Besides, if present trends continue, ACNA will be able to get those properties back for pennies on the dollar a whole lot sooner than it might have originally anticipated.  The Episcopal Organization’s Pittsburgh outlet is never going to be able to keep those parishes viable what with TEO basically flatlining and all.

Once a flagship denomination of American mainline Protestantism, the U.S.-based Episcopal Church has for the first time in decades reported membership below two million. Self-reported statistics provided by the denomination this month show that the church has dropped from 2,006,343 members in 2009 to 1,951,907 in 2010, the most recent reporting year. The loss of 54,436 members increases the annual rate of decline from 2 percent to 3 percent, outpacing the most recently reported declines in most other mainline churches. The church’s 10-year change in active members has dropped 16 percent.

A branch of the otherwise fast-growing 80 million member worldwide Anglican Communion, the third largest family of Christian churches globally, the Episcopal Church had also seen a steady decrease in the number of parishes, losing or closing over 100 in 2010, as well as a drop in attendance from 682,963 in 2009 to 657,831 in 2010, a 4 percent drop. Fifty-four percent of all U.S. Episcopal Churches suffered attendance loss over the prior year. Over the last decade, attendance was down 23 percent.

Here are TEO’s own numbers

Some points of interest.  Forty-two percent of TEO’s congregations have lost at least 10% of their membership in the past five years.  Fifty-four percent of TEO parishes saw their average Sunday attendance drop from the previous year while 57% of parishes saw a 10% or more ASA drop over the past five years.  Fifty-eight percent of TEO parishes have 200 members or less.  And 68% of TEO parishes have an ASA of 100 or less.

Yup.  The sky’s the limit for the Episcopal religion.  Uh, Robbie?  Any sign of those progressives who were going to flood TEO parishes because you got a pointy hat?


Posted by Christopher Johnson | Wednesday, October 26th, 2011 | Uncategorized | 20 Comments

Occupy Wall Street has basically been Christmas in October for the Episcopal Organization.  This guy’s like a douche in a candy store:

In the early stages of the Occupy Wall Street protests, the Rev. Michael Sniffen and some clergy colleagues from the Episcopal Diocese of Long Island traveled to Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park to observe what was happening. He’s returned regularly since, talking to protestors and offering pastoral care.

“I see myself as part of the movement,” said Sniffen, 31, priest-in-charge of the Episcopal Church of St. Luke and St. Matthew in Brooklyn, New York. “I really feel like this is my generation’s plea for a just society. I think the Gospels make it quite clear in Jesus’ teachings that there can be no justice without economic justice.”

Larry Pro’s been by.

Three days earlier, Diocese of Long Island Bishop Lawrence Provenzano visited Zuccotti Park and attended a meeting at Trinity Episcopal Church, Wall Street, of about three dozen interfaith leaders – including an Episcopal priest from Harlem and two from his diocese – discussing ways to support the movement.

And what would an occasion like this be without a visit from the Swan of Newark?

The Rev. Elizabeth Kaeton of Delaware said she heard a distinct message when she spent the 25th anniversary of her ordination to the priesthood at Zuccotti Park on Oct. 18.

“Everybody is really, really clear that what they’re protesting is greed. It’s not about luxury, it’s not about capitalism,” said Kaeton, who is canonically resident in the Episcopal Diocese of Newark. “People are really angry about greed, and I think that’s absolutely right. … That’s what made Jesus turn over a few tables in the temple, was greed and corruption. That’s the moral problem that I think the church needs to speak to.”

The movement is a call for the church to become prophetic while being pastoral “to people who are really struggling and really hurting,” she said. “What I found at Wall Street was the intersection of the pastoral and the prophetic … and that’s where we need to be.”

“I just hope more clergy get involved because I think this is really where the church needs to be,” Kaeton said. “For me, class is the original sin of the Episcopal Church, and we’re not going to get anywhere unless we confront our own classism – while we continue to confront our racism and our sexism and our heterosexism.”

Let’s have a look at just a few examples of “the intersection of the pastoral and the prophetic.”  We have already seen that this fellow is as enthusiastic about Occupy Wall Street as Kaeton is. 

The St. Louis outlet made death threats against their opponents.  And this is what some of these people think about the United States.

But OWS attracts a better sort of person.

Three young punks threatened to kill a 24-year-old Occupy Wall Street protester for pressing charges over an assault at the group’s Zuccotti Park encampment, police said.

“You got our friend arrested. We’re gonna kill you! Watch your back!” the trio warned the young woman on Monday – two days after her complaint led to the arrest of Garfield Leslie, police said Tuesday.

Leslie, 19, of Brooklyn, had offered to sell the woman drugs at the downtown sit-in, police said.

When she declined that offer and his romantic advances, he punched her in the face and then dished out more blows to a friend who had come to her defense, police said.

After clocking the friend, police said, Leslie then punched the man’s girlfriend for good measure.

Naturally, children are highly valued.

A 27-year-old Missoula man at the Occupy Missoula encampment on the Missoula County Courthouse lawn is accused of getting an 11-year-old boy drunk.

John Skinner is charged with endangering the welfare of a child in connection with the incident last Thursday. He pleaded not guilty in Missoula County Municipal Court.

“Indications are that he provided alcohol to this young man,” said Missoula Police Detective Lt. Scott Brodie. The boy, he said, ended up “deathly ill” in Skinner’s tent. Eventually, someone called 9-1-1 and the boy was treated at a hospital, he said.

Relationships between the sexes are marked by mutual respect, support and encouragement.

Robert Grodt did not expect to find romance when he left his girlfriend in Santa Cruz to join the demonstration. But Grodt, 24, has met — and shared sleeping bags with — several women.

“It’s a natural human thing,” Grodt said. “It’s part of our support structure. It’s nice to have someone to care about. It’s nice to have someone to hug and kiss.”

Like the cough drops, bandages and dental floss on site, the park’s medical and comfort stations carry condoms. But volunteer medic Calvin Barnwell said few protesters have helped themselves to the prophylactic stash.

That’s not necessarily an indicator of abstinence.  ”They’ve asked for pregnancy tests, though,” Barnwell said.

And gosh darn it, these people know what’s truly important.

It began, as it so often does, with a drum circle. The ten-hour groove marathons weren’t sitting well with the neighborhood’s community board, the ironically situated High School of Economics and Finance that sits on the corner of Zuccotti Park, or many of the sleep-deprived protesters.

“[The high school] couldn’t teach,” explained Josh Nelson, a 27-year-old occupier from Nebraska. “And we’ve had issues with the drummers too. They drum incessantly all day, and really loud.” Facilitators spearheaded a General Assembly proposal to limit the drumming to two hours a day. “The drumming is a major issue which has the potential to get us kicked out,” said Lauren Digion, a leader on the sanitation working group.

But the drums were fun. They brought in publicity and money. Many non-facilitators were infuriated by the decision and claimed that it had been forced through the General Assembly.

“They’re imposing a structure on the natural flow of music,” said Seth Harper, an 18-year-old from Georgia. “The GA decided to do it … they suppressed people’s opinions. I wanted to do introduce a different proposal, but a big black organizer chick with an Afro said I couldn’t.”

To Shane Engelerdt, a 19-year-old from Jersey City and self-described former “head drummer,” this amounted to a Jacobinic betrayal. “They are becoming the government we’re trying to protest,” he said. “They didn’t even give the drummers a say … Drumming is the heartbeat of this movement. Look around: This is dead, you need a pulse to keep something alive.”

If  you intend to claim, “Yeah, well, the Tea Partiers…,” just don’t.  Tea Partiers did not and do not conduct themselves in a manner that is in any way comparable to this crap despite what Rachel Maddow or Think Progress may have hallucinated.  Period.

Why do I bring all these incidents up?  Because if you’re going to claim a Gospel imperative for OWS, then you damned well better see to it that participant behavior reflects Christ a whole lot better than it has so far. 

Otherwise, cynical people like me are going to pass this off as yet another example of the Episcopalians slapping a coat of pseudo-spiritual varnish on a purely political cause.

The fact that you’re only a part-time Starbucks barista cannot be blamed on “greed” or “Wall Street” if you were dumb enough to major in women’s studies, art history or semiotics.  If you believe that “Wall Street” is the reason you can’t afford wheels or a place of your own, then the rest of us are just going to point at you and laugh.

But Liz?  If you seriously believe that Occupy Wall Street constitutes “the intersection of the pastoral and the prophetic,” then you and I not only don’t share a religion, we’re not even living in the same universe.

UPDATE: Did I happen to mention the mutual respect, support and encouragement that characterize relations between the sexes at these protests?

Police were today probing reports that a woman taking part in an ‘Occupy’ anti-capitalist protest was gang raped in her camp.

Officers are hunting a group of men who entered the site in George Square, Glasgow, where demonstrations were taking place, early this morning.

The men were not part of the protest and were allegedly drinking and chatting with those occupying the land outside Glasgow’s City Chambers.

Witnesses said the men were standing outside one of the tents boasting about having sex with a girl, even offering others “a shot”.

All official members of the group, which was set up nine days ago, have today left George’s Square while police conduct their investigation.

One protester, who asked not to be named, said: “It is bad news. The wee lassie didn’t know what was happening.

“There was a gang of about three men in the tent with the girl at the time and she sounded as if she was crying while they were doing God knows what to her.

“Everyone is quite shaken up about this and there is a real concern that this will bring an end to what has been a peaceful protest.”

Scottish chivalry’s not dead; great job helping that poor woman, you punkass little bitch.  And way to keep your priorities straight.  By the way, here’s the punchline.

But this has really worried folk – especially the girls staying here. It is not something you’d expect to happen with so many people around.

“The intersection of the pastoral and the prophetic,” if you need it.

UPDATE: NERDS!!  NERDS!!  Language warning(one F-bomb) and drink alert.  This might be the single funniest video I have seen on any subject in a very long time.

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