Archive for January, 2012

OWN GOAL

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012 | Uncategorized | 37 Comments

The Obama Administration’s decision to force the Roman Catholic and other Christian churches to pay for contraception and abortificients for employees who work in church-affiliated hospitals and other institutions may turn out to be one of the most disastrous US political blunders since the Kansas-Nebraska Act.  Michael Gerson:

In politics, the timing is often the message. On Jan. 20 — three days before the annual March for Life — the Obama administration announced its final decision that Catholic universities, hospitals and charities will be compelled to pay for health insurance that covers sterilization, contraceptives and abortifacients.

Catholic leaders are still trying to process the implications of this ambush. The president had every opportunity to back down from confrontation. In the recent ­Hosanna-Tabor ruling, a unanimous Supreme Court reaffirmed a broad religious autonomy right rooted in the Constitution. Obama could have taken the decision as justification for retreat.

It was a decision, says Gerson, that the Administration didn’t need to make.

And it would have been a minor retreat. The administration was on the verge of mandating nearly universal contraceptive coverage through Obamacare without public notice. There would have been no controversy at all if President Obama had simply exempted religious institutions and ministries. But the administration insisted that the University of Notre Dame and St. Mary’s Hospital be forced to pay for the privilege of violating their convictions.

Basically, the wall of separation between church and state, so well-beloved by this country’s liberals, no longer exists what with our idiot president having dynamited it.

Obama chose to substantially burden a religious belief, by the most intrusive means, for a less-than-compelling state purpose — a marginal increase in access to contraceptives that are easily available elsewhere. The religious exemption granted by Obamacare is narrower than anywhere else in federal law — essentially covering the delivery of homilies and the distribution of sacraments. Serving the poor and healing the sick are regarded as secular pursuits — a determination that would have surprised Christianity’s founder.

Although other churches will be affected as well, our idiot president’s principal target is the Roman Catholic Church.

Both radicalism and maliciousness are at work in Obama’s decision — an edict delivered with a sneer. It is the most transparently anti-Catholic maneuver by the federal government since the Blaine Amendment was proposed in 1875 — a measure designed to diminish public tolerance of Romanism, then regarded as foreign, authoritarian and illiberal. Modern liberalism has progressed to the point of adopting the attitudes and methods of 19th-century Republican nativists.

Quite simply, this is the greatest American government intrusion into religious affairs that this country has ever seen.

The implications of Obama’s power grab go further than contraception and will provoke opposition beyond Catholicism. Christian colleges and universities of various denominations will resist providing insurance coverage for abortifacients. And the astounding ambition of this federal precedent will soon be apparent to every religious institution. Obama is claiming the executive authority to determine which missions of believers are religious and which are not — and then to aggressively regulate institutions the government declares to be secular. It is a view of religious liberty so narrow and privatized that it barely covers the space between a believer’s ears.

Gerson finishes thus.

The administration’s ultimate motivation is uncertain. Has it adopted a radical secularism out of conviction, or is it cynically appealing to radical secularists? In either case, the war on religion is now formally declared.

Tru dat.  But Gerson used to work for George W. Bush.  What do 2008 liberal Catholic Obama voters think?  Michael Sean Winters of the National Catholic Reporter won’t be voting for our idiot president this fall.

No, I come at this issue as a liberal and a Democrat and as someone who, until yesterday, generally supported the President, as someone who saw in his vision of America a greater concern for each other, a less mean-spirited culture, someone who could, and did, remind the nation that we are our brothers’ keeper, that liberalism has a long vocation in this country of promoting freedom and protecting the interests of the average person against the combined power of the rich, and that we should learn how to disagree without being disagreeable. I defended the University of Notre Dame for honoring this man, and my heart was warmed when President Obama said at Notre Dame: “we must find a way to reconcile our ever-shrinking world with its ever-growing diversity — diversity of thought, diversity of culture, and diversity of belief. In short, we must find a way to live together as one human family.”

Because getting shivved by somebody you thought was your friend is no fun at all.

I accuse you, Mr. President, of treating shamefully those Catholics who went out on a limb to support you. Do tell, Mr. President, how many bullets have the people at Planned Parenthood taken for you? Sr. Carol Keehan, Father Larry Snyder, Father John Jenkins, these people have scars to show for their willingness to work with you, to support you on your tough political fights. Is this the way you treat people who went to the mat for you?

So Mike’ll be sitting out November.

But, yesterday, as soon as I learned of this decision, I knew instantly that I also could not, in good conscience, ever vote for Mr. Obama again. I once had great faith in Mr. Obama’s judgment and leadership. I do not retract a single word I have written supporting him on issues like health care reform, or bringing the troops home from Iraq, or taking aggressive steps to halt the recession and turn the economy around. I will continue to advocate for those policies. But, I can never convince myself that a person capable of making such a dreadful decision is worthy of my respect or my vote.

Even reliable leftist E. J. Dionne Jr. has serious reservations.

One of Barack Obama’s great attractions as a presidential candidate was his sensitivity to the feelings and intellectual concerns of religious believers. That is why it is so remarkable that he utterly botched the admittedly difficult question of how contraceptive services should be treated under the new health care law.

His administration mishandled this decision not once but twice. In the process, Obama threw his progressive Catholic allies under the bus and strengthened the hand of those inside the Church who had originally sought to derail the health care law.

Speaking as a Catholic, I wish the Church would be more open on the contraception question. But speaking as an American liberal who believes that religious pluralism imposes certain obligations on government, I think the Church’s leaders had a right to ask for broader relief from a contraception mandate that would require it to act against its own teachings. The administration should have done more to balance the competing liberty interests here.

While a friend of Rod Dreher cannot contain his anger.

As an openly pro-Obama Catholic in 2008, allow me to express OUTRAGE at the recent HHS regulations on insurance coverage.  Today’s NYT piece explains the situation and despite its avowedly anti-Catholic tone — more on that in a minute — it makes abundantly clear that Obama has not a leg to stand on. All right-wing hyperbole to one side, this is an attack on religious liberty, and a naked one.

Politically, I do not understand the thinking here. In an election year in which your health care plan will be the central plank of your opponent’s case, you decide to give a large middle finger to Catholics (last time I heard an important demographic in places like Ohio and Pennsylvania). Note that the bishops want to be, and should be, the prime supporters of universal health coverage. But Obama, to placate the abortion lobby, has decided to not merely ignore Catholic concerns as he already did, but now to affirmatively attack them. It is unimaginable that he could be this politically stupid.  He now provides evidence that makes ME ( largely a liberal Democrat)  wonder if this administration and elements in the Democratic Party are not in fact pursuing a wider agenda to reduce religious voice and presence in the public square.  Until now, I had left that kind of theorizing to the conservative talk shows — but what else explains this move?

Since I don’t know the relationship between the views of National Catholic Reporter commenters and those of the Catholic population as a whole, I honestly don’t know whether (1) all this will blow over in eleven months or (2) Barack Obama just took very careful aim and shot himself in the foot.

I suspect (2) is probably closer to the truth.  Obama got a substantial number of Catholic votes in 2008.  If this HHS policy motivates conservative Catholics to turn out to vote against him while convincing people like Michael Sean Winters to stay home, I don’t think that our idiot president stands a chance of keeping his job.

BALLGAME, THANKS FOR PLAYING

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012 | Uncategorized | 23 Comments

If you have not yet bookmarked Ace of Spades HQ, do so at once.  Now and then, the language there might not appeal to some of you.  But when Ace is good, there are few better and right here, Ace is off the charts:

The point of government is to run an orderly house in which a great many people may live together in relative harmony despite sharply disagreeing with each other on many things.

A hotelier, if his goal is to just run a successful hotel, should not care very much if some rooms are rented by Jews, and some by Catholics, and some by atheists; and some by families, and some by pairs of cheatin’ spouses.

Only if the hotelier puts his own moralism over the business would he attempt to force his guests to live by his specific rules of life.

Obama is a moralist, and an arrogant one. For all the talk of Christians being rigid moralists, the dirty little secret is that the left is far more rigidly, arrogantly moralistic, and it is cheerleaded by our cultural institutions (media, academia) rather than pushed back against, so its arrogance is encouraged.

Obama is pushing, very hard, a rigid moral system, and attempting to “shove it down the throats” of people who do not seek nor need his moral instruction.

It just happens to be that his code of morality is an unconventional one, borne not in the first century but in the twentieth, and which, when taken to extremes, has included conceptions of sexuality which are essentially Satanic in their license.

Can he make a little space for those who do not rush to embrace his Madonna Moralism?

No. For to do so would be to confess doubt about the Moral Scheme he has in mind for people; it would signal that he’s not utterly certain of his own moral beliefs.

And few on the political left have any sense of modesty about any of their culture-changing schemes.

They are so right that of course the coercive power of the state — with its machinery of stripping away the property and liberty of those who run afoul of it — should be deployed to wipe out mendicants and heretics.

One of the most cherished rights, never expressed anywhere but truly central to any truly free society, is the right to be Wrong. By which I mean, you should not just be free to do the things which the hegemonic culture deems to be “right.” No one ever tries to outlaw that which they themselves believe to be right.

What they attempt to do, of course, is outlaw that which they believe to be wrong.

If you do not respect a citizen’s right to be wrong — if your first impulse is to use the frightening machinery of state coercion to compel him to be “right,” as you see “right” — then you do not respect him at all.

This is the chief character flaw of the leftist movement — their inability to respect anyone at all but their own. A very provincial and solipisitically childish way to view the world, of course, which leads to a vicious arrogance in attempting to pound, pound, pound square pegs into the round holes the state has cut for them.

The left would just be wrong, and not dangerous, if it weren’t so arrogant about disposing of people’s freedom with a single thoughtless line of legislation.

It is that, the arrogance and the profound disrespect of anyone who does not wear the feathers and warpaint of their tribe, that makes them not just wrong but sinister.

ANY PORT IN A STORM

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012 | Uncategorized | 14 Comments

In one of the most unintentionally hilarious stories I’ve seen in a very long time, someone named Amanda Terkel of the Huffington Post claims that certain “religious leaders” vigorously support our idiot president’s recent decision to relieve himself all over the free exercise clause of the First Amendment:

A group of religious organizations Monday thanked President Obama for his administration’s recent decision on contraception, hoping to bring attention to religious pro-choice voices and to show that not all people of faith disagree with the new law.

Seven religious leaders from the Jewish, Unitarian, Baptist and other faiths addressed a letter to Obama and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. All are members of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, a which includes more than 40 denominations and faith groups to promote education and issues of reproductive choice

“We believe that all women deserve access to affordable birth control, regardless of their employer, and we hope that, in the future, HHS will expand the same preventive coverage to women across the board,” they wrote in the letter, obtained by The Huffington Post.

“As clergy, we are committed to upholding the important goals of reproductive justice and health, empowering women and men to make decisions about whether and when to have and bear children within their own moral and religious tradition, and assuring them the means and ability to raise their children in a safe and healthy environment. Access to reproductive health services recognizes a moral value embraced across the religious spectrum. We thank you for your decision supporting the fundamental value of reproductive health to women and families.”

Religious “leaders,” Gracie?  Not so much.  As the story notes, all these people are part of the Pseudo-Religious Coalition For Making Sure That You Don’t Have To Live With The Consequences Of Your Actions.  But if you read the letter(it’s at the link), you’ll discover that it was signed by four ministers, two rabbis and someone with the ”Justice & Witness Ministries” of the United Church of the Zeitgeist, all acting in their “individual capacities.”

I can see it now.  Some liberal Catholic puts down his Matthew Fox or his Joan Chittister, takes a sip of his Brunello and fires off an e-mail to our idiot president vigorously supporting the idea of the government forcing the Roman Catholic Church to worship Caesar provide contraceptive services.  If some other Huffington Post airhead heard about it, the headline of her story the next day would read, “Prominent Catholic Leader Dissents From Bishops’ Contraception Stance.”

Props to Damian.

COMPARE AND CONTRAST

Monday, January 30th, 2012 | Uncategorized | 21 Comments

This past Sunday, a variation of the following letter was read in many Roman Catholic parishes across this country.  This one was read in the Diocese of Marquette, Michigan:

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:

I write to you concerning an alarming and serious matter that negatively impacts the Church in the United States directly, and that strikes at the fundamental right to religious liberty for all citizens of any faith. The federal government, which claims to be “of, by, and for the people,” has just been dealt a heavy blow to almost a quarter of those people — the Catholic population — and to the millions more who are served by the Catholic faithful.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced last week that almost all employers, including Catholic employers, will be forced to offer their employees’ health coverage that includes sterilization, abortion-inducing drugs, and contraception. Almost all health insurers will be forced to include those “services” in the health policies they write. And almost all individuals will be forced to buy that coverage as a part of their policies.

In so ruling, the Obama Administration has cast aside the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, denying to Catholics our Nation’s first and most fundamental freedom, that of religious liberty. And as a result, unless the rule is overturned, we Catholics will be compelled to either violate our consciences, or to drop health coverage for our employees (and suffer the penalties for doing so). The Obama Administration’s sole concession was to give our institutions one year to comply.

We cannot—we will not—comply with this unjust law. People of faith cannot be made second class citizens. We are already joined by our brothers and sisters of all faiths and many others of good will in this important effort to regain our religious freedom. Our parents and grandparents did not come to these shores to help build America’s cities and towns, its infrastructure and institutions, its enterprise and culture, only to have their posterity stripped of their God given rights. In generations past, the Church has always been able to count on the faithful to stand up and protect her sacred rights and duties. I hope and trust she can count on this generation of Catholics to do the same. Our children and grandchildren deserve nothing less.

And therefore, I would ask of you two things. First, as a community of faith we must commit ourselves to prayer and fasting that wisdom and justice may prevail, and religious liberty may be restored. Without God, we can do nothing; with God, nothing is impossible. Second, I would also recommend visiting www.usccb.org/conscience,to learn more about this severe assault on religious liberty, and how to contact Congress in support of legislation that would reverse the Obama Administration’s decision.

Sincerely yours in Christ,
+Alexander K. Sample
Most Reverend Alexander K. Sample
Bishop of Marquette

The Executive Council of the Episcopal Church, the church in which I spent the first 48 of my 56 years, recently concluded its meeting in Maryland.  Under the heading Advocacy & Networking in Mission, the Council passed the following resolutions:

Instruct Treasurer to vote in favor of all shareholder resolutions requesting that companies amend their bylaws to allow shareholders comprising at least ten percent of voting stock outstanding to call a special shareholders meeting (A&N038)

Instruct Treasurer to vote in favor of all shareholder resolutions requiring that senior executives retain a significant percentage of shares acquired through equity compensation programs until reaching normal retirement age (A&N039)

Instruct Treasurer to vote in favor of all shareholder resolutions requesting that companies report on how they are responding to the public policy challenges associated with Bisphenol A (BPA) (A&N040)

Instruct Treasurer to vote in favor of all shareholder resolutions requesting that companies adopt and implement a comprehensive sustainable palm oil policy (A&N041)

Instruct Treasurer to vote in favor of all shareholder resolutions requesting reports on policies and plans for eliminating releases of mercury into the environment (A&N042)

Instruct Treasurer to vote in favor of all shareholder resolutions requesting that companies create task forces to study the effects of climate change on their business models (A&N043)

Instruct Treasurer to vote in favor of all shareholder resolutions asking companies to disclose the risks associated with the First Nations’ opposition to the Northern Gateway Pipeline (A&N044)

Instruct Treasurer to vote “abstain” on shareholder resolutions requesting that companies report on the risks associated with offshore banking secrecy (A&N045)

Instruct Treasurer to vote in favor of all shareholder resolutions requesting that financial-service companies disclose information regarding their activities in the repurchase market (A&N046)

Instruct Treasurer to vote in favor of all shareholder resolutions requesting that companies report publicly information regarding their lobbying expenditures and policies (A&N047)

Instruct Treasurer to vote “abstain” on shareholder resolutions requesting reports on the business risks of aggressive tax strategies (A&N048)

Instruct Treasurer to vote in favor of all shareholder resolutions requesting that companies adopt policies prohibiting the use of corporate funds for any political election or campaign (A&N049)

State opposition to any laws that make the teaching of ethnic studies illegal and penalize school districts financially for incorporating ethnic studies in their curriculums (A&N050)

States support of “Letting Girls Be Girls” [Girls Not Brides], a global campaign to end child marriage (A&N051)

Rejoice in the establishment of the independent state of the Republic of South Sudan, while deploring “the great human tragedy” still occurring in Abyei, Blue Nile State, and Southern Kordofan State, call upon the U.S. government “to renew and continue its economic sanctions and diplomatic efforts urgently to secure peace and an end to the egregious human rights violations and ongoing military brutality against the people in all areas of the Sudan,” reaffirm solidarity with the Episcopal Church of Sudan, and remind and urge all Episcopalians to continue in prayer and advocacy for all the people of Sudan, especially those in the war torn regions (A&N052)

WARM-UP ACT

Monday, January 30th, 2012 | Uncategorized | 59 Comments

“Global warming” takes another one in the nads:

The supposed ‘consensus’ on man-made global warming is facing an inconvenient challenge after the release of new temperature data showing the planet has not warmed for the past 15 years.

The figures suggest that we could even be heading for a mini ice age to rival the 70-year temperature drop that saw frost fairs held on the Thames in the 17th Century.

Based on readings from more than 30,000 measuring stations, the data was issued last week without fanfare by the Met Office and the University of East Anglia Climatic Research Unit. It confirms that the rising trend in world temperatures ended in 1997.

Meanwhile, leading climate scientists yesterday told The Mail on Sunday that, after emitting unusually high levels of energy throughout the 20th Century, the sun is now heading towards a ‘grand minimum’ in its output, threatening cold summers, bitter winters and a shortening of the season available for growing food.

Solar output goes through 11-year cycles, with high numbers of sunspots seen at their peak.

We are now at what should be the peak of what scientists call ‘Cycle 24’ – which is why last week’s solar storm resulted in sightings of the aurora borealis further south than usual. But sunspot numbers are running at less than half those seen during cycle peaks in the 20th Century.

Analysis by experts at NASA and the University of Arizona – derived from magnetic-field measurements 120,000 miles beneath the sun’s surface – suggest that Cycle 25, whose peak is due in 2022, will be a great deal weaker still.

According to a paper issued last week by the Met Office, there is a  92 per cent chance that both Cycle 25 and those taking place in the following decades will be as weak as, or weaker than, the ‘Dalton minimum’ of 1790 to 1830. In this period, named after the meteorologist John Dalton, average temperatures in parts of Europe fell by 2C.

However, it is also possible that the new solar energy slump could be as deep as the ‘Maunder minimum’ (after astronomer Edward Maunder), between 1645 and 1715 in the coldest part of the ‘Little Ice Age’ when, as well as the Thames frost fairs, the canals of Holland froze solid.

It rained all night the day I left, the weather it was dry.
The sun so hot, I froze to death, Susanna don’t you cry.
Oh Susanna, don’t you cry for me.
I staked my reputation on a dubious theory.

AS THE WORLD TURNS

Sunday, January 29th, 2012 | Uncategorized | 24 Comments

Today: Bonnie and Katharine have a falling-out:

Dear Deputies and First Alternates:

A confusing situation has arisen and I’d like to set the record straight:

On Thursday, the Presiding Bishop released a video directed to the House of Deputies expressing her opinion about legislative issues that will come before General Convention this summer. Yesterday, the Office of Communications sent an email to bishops that mischaracterized my response to the video’s release and asked the bishops to forward the video message to their diocese’s deputies.

On Thursday afternoon, I received word from the General Convention Office that the Presiding Bishop, via the Office of Communications, had directed that office to forward a video message from the Presiding Bishop to all deputies. I had neither seen the video nor been consulted about it and so I told the General Convention Office to hold it.

In my nearly 25 years as a deputy, I don’t ever recall the Presiding Bishop speaking directly to the House of Deputies outside of a joint session or without giving the House due notice, while at General Convention. I don’t ever recall a Presiding Bishop corresponding directly with deputies outside of the General Convention, without the knowledge of, or in collaboration with the President.

I was surprised because I thought that the Presiding Bishop, her staff, and I had worked through some important issues of internal communications last fall. I had talked with both Bishop Sauls and the Presiding Bishop and asked that we proceed in a more collegial and cooperative manner. I thought we had agreed to do so.

But while the General Convention Office was holding the video, it was released by the Office of Communications to the whole church just hours before the Presiding Bishop and I were scheduled to arrive in Baltimore where we could have resolved the situation in person.

I am glad to tell you that, while we have been in Baltimore, Bishop Katharine and I have shared a meal and talked in person. I told her that I’m disappointed about what’s happened in the last few days and asked that we proceed toward General Convention with collegiality and a cooperative spirit even—especially—when we disagree. I also told her that I am concerned about the use of churchwide resources to lobby General Convention on only one side of a legislative issue.

Despite this productive conversation, upon direction from the Presiding Bishop, the Office of Communications sent the second email, this time to bishops, that mischaracterized my request that the video be held, thus putting me in a difficult position and making it necessary to spell all of this out.

I am confident that we can get back on track and work productively and faithfully to prepare for General Convention. I will continue to urge that those of us who lead the church talk directly with one another to resolve differences. I will also continue to ask that the resources of the Church Center be deployed in ways that present the full range of opinions on legislation that will determine how the church meets the challenges before us.

Thank you for your commitment to our work. I am looking forward to being with all of you in Indianapolis and to the work that we will accomplish together.

Peace,
Bonnie Anderson, D. D.
President, The House of Deputies

Will Katharine truly repent?  Will Bonnie forgive her?  Or will Bonnie begin to regard Katharine that same way that every other intelligent person does?  Tune in next week for As the World Turns.  Brought to you by Kellogg’s cereals.  K-E-Double L-Oh-Double Great!

CLUELESSIANITY

Sunday, January 29th, 2012 | Uncategorized | 32 Comments

In a way, it’s actually kind of sad watching them wildly flail about like this:

The Episcopal Church’s Executive Council continued Jan. 28 to grapple with the missional, organizational and financial realities of developing a budget for the 2013-2015 triennium.

The members also grappled with a timeline that calls for council to develop a draft triennial budget to give to the church’s Joint Standing Committee on Program, Budget and Finance (PB&F) by the close of its Jan. 27-29 meeting here at the Conference Center at the Maritime Institute. This timeline was contrasted with calls by some council members to spend more time envisioning the church’s mission goals, and revising the budget proposals it received the day before.

One budget scenario calls for asking dioceses to contribute 19 percent of their income and the other calls for dioceses contributing 15 percent. The larger amount of income is $103.6 million and the 15 percent-asking budget would be reduced by approximately $13.5 million, according to Treasurer Kurt Barnes. The 19 percent scenario could result in staff reductions equivalent to eight full-time staff positions at most and the 15 percent scenario would amount to 36 full-time equivalent staff positions at most, according to the spreadsheets presented.

“The way we are currently approaching the budgeting process appears to be de facto restructuring by funding or de-funding parts of the organization. The tail is wagging the dog,” Lelanda Lee, a member of council’s Advocacy and Networking for Mission committee, told her colleagues.

“Neither iteration – 19 percent asking or 15 percent asking – provides a new vision,” Katie Sherrod said in reporting the reaction of the Governance and Administration for Mission committee. “We need a vision for the future.”

While council heard much discussion the previous day about declining mainline denominational membership and financial struggles caused both by those membership declines and the current economy, council member Brian Cole said that his table colleagues questioned the assumed implications of that information.

He said they wanted to challenge the rest of the council to consider “if we believe decline is inevitable and ongoing forever, or do we really believe we have good news to share.”

Should I tell them?   Nah, probably wouldn’t matter.

NAVY PLANS NEW SHIP

Friday, January 27th, 2012 | Uncategorized | 36 Comments

The USS Thoroughly Corrupt Slimebag.

PROMISED LAND

Thursday, January 26th, 2012 | Uncategorized | 34 Comments

Jonathan Clatworthy of Modern Churmosqagogue, the Church of England’s Spongian wing, attempts to refute a pro-Anglican Covenant paper, “Anglican Covenant – Bishop’s Council” by Peter Doll(PDF file), Canon Librarian at Norwich Cathedral, and falls flat on his face.  Selections follow.  The bolded quotes in italics are from that paper.  Everything else in bold is Clatworthy’s ludicrously inept and thoroughly mendacious response:

There is more than an element of cultural imperialism in these American attitudes. Ironically, they resonate strongly with the gung-ho combination of domestic isolationism and foreign interventionism of American political life which so many American liberals deplore, and yet they don’t seem to be able to see the parallels here.

As it stands this is a common criticism of American culture. However it loses its force when one remembers which American action is being condemned. The imperialist intervention, in this case, is the refusal to condemn same-sex partnerships. It is difficult to imagine anything less imperialistic, and less interventionist, than the refusal to condemn other people’s lifestyles.

“The refusal to condemn other people’s lifestyles” had and has absolutely nothing to do with the Current Unpleasantness.  The fact that one branch of the Communion unilaterally changed Anglican theology without so much as a by-your-leave from the churches with which they claim to be in communion is the crux of the matter and Clatworthy knows it which is why he had to so ineptly change the subject.

The American church is not prepared to accept further consultation or dialogue over this issue nor to wait for the rest of the church to catch up with its own understanding of the place of same-sex relationships in the life of the church. Whatever is acceptable and right in a particular American cultural context must be universally applicable to every other culture and context.

This complaint, though often made, misinterprets the nature of the Anglican Communion in two ways: firstly by describing it as a church when it is in fact a communion of churches, and secondly by presuming that what is decided in one part of this ‘church’ must also apply in the rest of it.

The Episcopal Church (TEC) made no attempt to make its actions ‘universally applicable’ or apply them to ‘every other culture and context’. Its understanding of Anglicanism was (correctly) that other churches, like TEC, were free to make their own decisions. It has no intention to act in an imperialist manner towards other churches, but conversely it does not want to be itself the victim of imperialism by other churches.

Interpreting the American actions as a pan-Anglican change was a mistake by TEC’s opponents, some of whom are uncomfortable with the prospect of a group of churches being in communion with each other while having different policies on some issues. If Doll wishes to resist imperialistic impositions, he should address his complaints not to TEC but to its opponents.

Oh my dear Lord.  If Clatworthy actually believes those words, he is a sociopath, a liar or both.  It is Clatworthy who has no Earthly conception what Anglicanism means.  Or he knows full well what Anglicanism means and so he desperately needed to invent a mythical “Anglicanism” to cover his tracks. 

“The Episcopal Church (TEC) made no attempt to make its actions ‘universally applicable’ or apply them to ‘every other culture and context’?”  Guess what, Clatworthy.  They did too.  The Episcopalians knew exactly what they were doing.

Under the rules of the Anglican game, Gene Robinson became an Anglican bishop the moment he received his pointy hat and hooked stick.  There was no opt-out clause and the Episcopalians never considered providing one.

If they had, things would have been different.  If the Episcopal Organization had declared, “The consecration of Bishop Robinson has no meaning outside the State of New Hampshire.  Gene Robinson is the Bishop of New Hampshire and only New Hampshire and will take no part on Communion affairs,” I might still be an Episcopalian today.

But they didn’t and the idea never seems to have occurred to them.  TEO expected the rest of the Anglican Communion to roll over, play dead and meekly accept Robbie as an Anglican bishop regardless of what the rest of the Communion thought about it.  Thus their shocked surprise when much of the rest of the Communion didn’t accept Robbie at all and began cutting all ties with the Episcopalians.

The fact that then-Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold signed his name to this statement, went home, consecrated Robbie anyway and started all the trouble completely cuts the ground out from under Clatworthy’s idiotic claims about “imperialism.”  By the way, we don’t have “different policies on some issues.”  We have mutually-exclusive theologies.

The Episcopalians imposed Gene Robinson on the rest of the Communion, Clatworthy, which really is a “pan-Anglican change” whether you believe it is or not.  And when the Episcopalians did that, then under the rules of the Anglican Communion, 2,000 years of Christian teaching were jettisoned without the input of the churches with whom the Episcopalians claimed to share a tradition.  That is what actually happened, Clatworthy, not your deliberately hallucinatory version of events.

America is a self-referring cultural power; it does not occur to most Americans to consult others, politically or spiritually, to arrive at an understanding of truth and right.

Again this is a common criticism of American culture. It characterises empires at their height; a hundred years ago the British thought of themselves as the pinnacle of civilization, thereby convincing themselves that the brutalities their troops were inflicting on others would benefit the victims. In this instance, however, the boot is on the other foot. Given that the criticism of Americans is centred on their toleration of same-sex partnerships, any serious attempt to consult others must surely pay close attention to the experiences of gays and lesbians. It is the Americans who have done this, and it is their opponents who exclude the supporters of gays and lesbians from Anglican decision-making bodies.

Once again, Clatworthy evades the question.  As difficult as this might be for Clatworthy to accept, the Episcopalians did not consult the rest of the Communion before imposing Gene Robinson.  They just established a fact on the ground and essentially told the other Anglican churches around the world to deal with it.

As for this notion about paying “close attention to the experiences of gays and lesbians,” a question.  How does Clatworthy know that other Anglican provinces haven’t done it?  Perhaps they have and decided that “the experiences of gays and lesbians” does not and should not trump the clear Word of the living God. 

The matter is simple.  Jonathan Clatworthy and the rest of the Anglican left know that they are obviously right about The Issue and people like me are obviously wrong.  Therefore, “consultation” means that we keep talking until people like me realize that. 

True consultation, on the other hand, means that both sides must be willing to admit that they might be wrong.  I’ve said in this space many times that if the Episcopal left ever provides me with a solid, Scriptural case for consecrating an unrepentant sinner as a bishop, I’ll go back to my former Episcopal church this coming Sunday.  But they never have and they never will because they never saw the need to.

What with being right and all.

The great American literary scholar Harold Bloom, a secular Jew, has argued that virtually all Americans, whatever their religious disposition or denominational label, are Gnostics. What does he mean by this? 1) That there is no higher religious authority than the private individual. 2) That every individual can reach religious truth by his or her own efforts. 3) External expressions of formal religion (churches, worship, creeds) are unnecessary, and potentially a harmful block to true spirituality. 4) Any attempt to tell me what to believe is a threat to religious freedom.

However, when Doll appeals to the weaknesses in early Reformation theology he should take care whose side he is on. Today the different Protestant theories have polarised into two opposing camps, usually called ‘conservatives’ and ‘liberals’. It is those who are opposed to same-sex partnerships who still defend the view that God’s will can be ascertained by individuals reading the Bible, without needing support from other Christians. It is those who accept same-sex partnerships who appeal to new insights arising within Christian communities where believers share their understandings and consciences with each other.

If you have a few minutes, Clatworthy, read the one about Elijah at Mount Carmel.

The Episcopal Church has in practice refused to be bound by communion-wide restrictions. I would argue that if the principles of communion are right, if the Gospel calls us to be subject and accountable to one another, then we must be obedient and patient and trust in the rightness of the outcome under God and through the guidance of the Holy Spirit. It may mean that we won’t have what we want when we want it.

This text illustrates Doll’s rhetoric at its most inventive. The ‘communion-wide restrictions’ which TEC refuses to be bound by do not as yet exist: the Anglican Covenant would create them for the first time. To say that ‘we must be obedient and patient and trust in the rightness of the outcome’ means no more than ‘we must accept the Anglican Covenant’, and ‘through the guidance of the Holy Spirit’ means, of course, ‘through the guidance of the Anglican Covenant’. This text is an excellent example of the rhetoric oppressors use to persuade the oppressed that they have a moral duty to accept their fate. When we notice that the repeated word ‘we’ in the last sentence really means ‘gays and lesbians and their supporters’, the argument loses its devotional aura; instead it is revealed as just a way of telling people to do as they are told.

Body of work.  The Episcopalians treated the Windsor Report and the various primates communiqués as so much toilet paper.  As for the rest of that paragraph, Clatworthy, which, once again, has absolutely nothing to do with what Canon Doll wrote, you could feed a very large herd of cattle for a year on all those straw men of yours.

Bottom line, Clatworthy.  The Anglican Covenant is a weak, flawed and probably useless attempt to declare that for the first time in their 500-year history, Anglican Christians actually believe something.  Not everything.

BRAVE NEW WORLD

Wednesday, January 25th, 2012 | Uncategorized | 39 Comments

Once again we see that when it comes to The Issue, there is only one right answer:

A 15-year-old Wisconsin boy who wrote an op-ed opposing gay adoptions was censored, threatened with suspension and called ignorant by the superintendent of the Shawano School District, according to an attorney representing the child.

Mathew Staver, the founder of the Liberty Counsel, sent a letter to Superintendent Todd Carlson demanding an apology for “Its unconstitutional and irrational censorship and humiliation” of Brandon Wegner.

Wegner, a student at Shawano High School, was asked to write an op-ed for the school newspaper about whether gays should be allowed to adopt. Wegner, who is a Christian, wrote in opposition. Another student wrote in favor of allowing gays to adopt.

Wegner used Bible passages to defend his argument, including Scripture that called homosexuality a sin.

Naturally, a couple of local gays bitched about it.

After the op-ed was published, a gay couple whose child attends the high school, complained.

Whereupon the school district went into Episcopalian mode.

The school immediately issued an apology – stating Wegner’s opinion was a “form of bullying and disrespect.”

“Offensive articles cultivating a negative environment of disrespect are not appropriate or condoned by the Shawano School District,” the statement read. “We sincerely apologize to anyone we may have offended and are taking steps to prevent items of this nature from happening in the future.”

And then graduated to full Gestapo.

But Staver said what the school system did next was absolutely outrageous. He said the 15-year-old was ordered to the superintendent’s office where he was subjected to hours of meetings and was accused of violating the school’s bullying policy.

“When Mr. Wegner stated that he did not regret writing it, and that he stood behind his beliefs, Superintendent Carlson told him that he ‘had got to be one of the most ignorant kids to try to argue with him about this topic,’” Staver said.

At that point, Staver said the superintendent told the boy that “we have the power to suspend you if we want to.”

The superintendent allegedly told Wegner that he was personally offended by Wegner’s column.

“The superintendent wants everyone to accept homosexuality as normative and homosexual adoption as something that should be standard practices,” Staver said. “In doing so, he’s belittling the views and the biblical views of many people across this country. He is playing a zero-sum game. He’s not interested in dialogue. He wants to cram his view down the throat of everyone else and will not tolerate an opposing viewpoint.”

Fortunately, a lame “apology” might not prevent the school district from getting sued into the ground.

Staver said an apology from the superintendent may not suffice – and they may consider taking legal action.

Do it, Matt.  Take the bastard down.

LONGEVITY

Wednesday, January 25th, 2012 | Uncategorized | 15 Comments

I know that there are lots of grandchildren of former US presidents who are still alive.  But I never would have dreamed it possible that one of those US presidents with living grandchildren would be John Tyler.

A UNITER, NOT A DIVIDER

Tuesday, January 24th, 2012 | Uncategorized | 27 Comments

Barack Obama.  Bringing people together since 2008:

Now, suddenly, we have headlines about the president’s “war on the Catholic Church.” Mostly they stem from a Health and Human Services mandate that forces every employer to provide employees with health coverage that not only covers birth control and sterilization, but makes them free. Predictably, the move has drawn fire from the Catholic bishops.

You might not believe who else is angry about it.

Less predictable—and far more interesting—has been the heat from the Catholic left, including many who have in the past given the president vital cover. In a post for the left-leaning National Catholic Reporter, Michael Sean Winters minces few words. Under the headline “J’ACCUSE,” he rightly takes the president to the woodshed for the politics of the decision, for the substance, and for how “shamefully” it treats “those Catholics who went out on a limb” for him.

The message Mr. Obama is sending, says Mr. Winters, is “that there is no room in this great country of ours for the institutions our Church has built over the years to be Catholic in ways that are important to us.”

Mr. Winters is not alone. The liberal Cardinal Roger Mahony, archbishop emeritus of Los Angeles, blogged that he “cannot imagine a more direct and frontal attack on freedom of conscience”—and he urged people to fight it. Another liberal favorite, Bishop Robert Lynch of St. Petersburg, Fla., has raised the specter of “civil disobedience” and vowed that he will drop coverage for diocesan workers rather than comply. They are joined in their expressions of discontent by the leaders of Catholic Relief Services and Catholic Charities, which alone employs 70,000 people.

Interesting.  Whether all this translates into reduced enthusiasm for the President this fall among at least one group of liberals, however small, remains to be seen.

APPLES AND EPISCOPALIANS

Tuesday, January 24th, 2012 | Uncategorized | 36 Comments

The Ordinariate must have SERIOUSLY rattled the Episcopal Organization for Jim Naughton to screw up this badly:

In part to bolster Episcopal spirits, and in part to provide reporters with some sense of perspective, I thought it might be helpful to take a look at some numbers. According to the 2004 U. S. Congregational Life Survey—which I believe is the most recent one available—11.7 percent of Episcopalians were formerly Roman Catholic.

The Episcopal Church had slightly fewer than 2,248,000 members in 2004, indicating that not quite 263,000 of its members were former Catholics.

The Episcopal Church has shrunk some in the last seven years, and now has about two million members. Assuming that the percentage of former Catholics in the Episcopal Church has remained constant (I think it is likely to have risen, but that’s an essay for another day), there are currently some 228,000 former Roman Catholics in the Episcopal Church.

There may be a good reason that the departure of fewer than 1,500 Episcopalians to the Roman Catholic ordinariate deserves extensive media coverage while the departure in recent years of more than 225,000 Roman Catholics to join the Episcopal Church goes unmentioned even in stories about the creation of the ordinariate, but I don’t know what it is.

Slow way down there, big smacker.  The Ordinariate has been in existence for what, two months, give or take?  You may not be aware of this but you guys have been around for 222 years.  And all those ex-Catholic Episcopalians became Episcopalians “in recent years?”  Really?  Every single one?  No ex-Catholic Episcopalian joined before that time?

I’ve got news for you, Jim.  Episcopalians were fleeing to Rome decades before the Ordinariate was a gleam in the papal eye.  See if the American Catholic church has any figures about the number of ex-Episcopalians in its ranks.

While you’re at it, go to the Orthodox, Southern Baptists, conservative Presbyterians, Anglican Continuers, etc. and see how many ex-Episcopalians they all have.  And for that matter, ask ACNA as well although I know you don’t believe their numbers.

But that’s okay.  Given the great gulf fixed between Episcopal membership numbers and Episcopal average Sunday attendance, nobody with a functioning brain believes that there are anywhere near 2,000,000 Episcopalians anymore.

VISION TROUBLE

Monday, January 23rd, 2012 | Uncategorized | 14 Comments

For a guy like me, the religion sections of modern news web sites can be wonderful places.  The following, written by a woman from Ireland named Lorna Byrne, appears in the Huffington Post and is presented without comment:

I have been seeing and talking with angels since I was a baby. I see them physically as clearly as I see someone sitting in front of me. I never told anyone about what I was seeing until a few years ago after my husband died and my children were reared. It was only then that I started writing and talking about what I was seeing.

I am a Catholic, born into an Ireland that at that time was largely Catholic. From the time I was a baby I saw guardian angels behind each and every person, regardless of religion. In fact like most children I didn’t realize that there were different religions. The first time I got any inkling of the different beliefs people have of God was when I was about six and was walking past a Protestant church near my home with my aunt. I was looking at two big powerful angels who were standing on guard outside the church when my aunt told me I was never to go in there — that that was a Protestant church and no place for any Catholic. I looked at her in bemusement.

In the years following the angels explained to me that different religions have different beliefs, different traditions and different ways of praying. They always emphasized, however, that it was one and the same God and that one day all religions would come together under one umbrella.

Prayer is extremely powerful and the angels have told me that the prayers of people of all religions are equally powerful.

The angels tell me that when people of different religions gather together in prayer it pleases God. That when people of different traditions pray together, it creates a synergy, an intertwining of prayer that makes their prayers even more powerful.

THE MORE YOU KNOW

Monday, January 23rd, 2012 | Uncategorized | 9 Comments

Always remember to keep your tools away from dangerous animals.

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