Archive for March, 2012


Posted by Christopher Johnson | Saturday, March 31st, 2012 | Uncategorized | 48 Comments

Trayvon Martin is dead, his parents are mourning the loss of their son and George Zimmerman’s life is effectively over regardless of how all this plays out in the courts.  But on the bright side, some wealthy, white, mainline Protestant liberals have a chance to do something that they’re far and away the best in the world at.  Thanking God that they are not as other men are.  A couple of National Council of Churches Nobody Goes To Anymore tools weigh in on this tragedy:

The National Council of Churches is profoundly disturbed by the tragic events surrounding the killing on February 26 of 17 year-old Trayvon Martin in Sanford,Florida. 

We send our deepest sympathies to the family and friends of Trayvon. We sadly acknowledge the tragic reality that exists for young men of color and their families who, because of their appearance, fear they will be victims of violence at the hands of police and others. The stereotypes held by police against persons of color, and held by persons of color against police in response – have engendered a dangerous – if not deadly – reality throughout our country. 

In this case, the police have said Florida law makes it unnecessary for police to investigate the shooting of Trayvon, resulting in unprecedented demonstrations of anger in the U.S.and around the world. Clearly, this tragedy has been compounded by unexamined stereotypes on both sides, and especially by the systemic racism that is pervasive throughout the very fabric of our society infecting our institutions and individuals alike.

We do not have all the facts about this terrible incident and it is impossible to know what was going on in the mind of the alleged shooter.  But all of us – especially those who are white – must engage in urgent self-examination about the ways we react to persons we regard as “other.” And beyond our personal responses, we must recommit ourselves to root out the endemic institutional racism, both in society and in the church that threatens our ability to live in safety and in community.

These people don’t know what motivated the shooting except that it was definitely racism.  And “we” and “our” actually mean “you” and “your.”  I don’t know why but this passage from Luke popped into my head just now.  To me, finding virtue in “repenting” of something you didn’t and would never do has the same kind of feel to it.


Posted by Christopher Johnson | Saturday, March 31st, 2012 | Uncategorized | 31 Comments

I don’t have a kid.  If I did, I would expect his school, assuming I sent him to one, to look after my child’s physical and mental well-being while he was there to the greatest possible extent.  Up to this exact point right here:

The New York City Department of Education is waging a war on words of sorts, and is seeking to have words they deem upsetting removed from standardized tests.

What kinds of words?  Racial, ethnic and other hurtful slurs?  Not so much.

The word “dinosaur” made the hit list because dinosaurs suggest evolution which creationists might not like, WCBS 880′s Marla Diamond reported. “Halloween” is targeted because it suggests paganism; a “birthday” might not be happy to all because it isn’t celebrated by Jehovah’s Witnesses.


Words that suggest wealth are excluded because they could make kids jealous. “Poverty” is also on the forbidden list. That’s something Sy Fliegal with the Center for Educational Innovation calls ridiculous.

“The Petersons take a vacation for five days in their Mercedes … so what? You think our kids are going to be offended because they don’t have a Mercedes? You think our kids are going to say ‘I’m offended; how could they ask me a question about a Mercedes? I don’t have a Mercedes!’” Fliegal said.

In a throwback to “Footloose,” the word “dancing” is also taboo. However, there is good news for kids that like “ballet”: The city made an exception for this form of dance.

John and Edward both want to ask Deborah to the high school ballet.  John lives eight miles away from Deborah while Edward lives 5.35 miles away.  If John leaves his house at 6:30 and Edward leaves his house at 6:55, how long will it take Deborah to shoot both of them down and go to the high school ballet with Bill?

Here is the complete list of words that could be banned:

Abuse (physical, sexual, emotional, or psychological)

Alcohol (beer and liquor), tobacco, or drugs

Birthday celebrations (and birthdays)

Bodily functions

Cancer (and other diseases)

Catastrophes/disasters (tsunamis and hurricanes)


Children dealing with serious issues

Cigarettes (and other smoking paraphernalia)

Computers in the home (acceptable in a school or library setting)


Death and disease



Expensive gifts, vacations, and prizes

Gambling involving money



Homes with swimming pools


Junk food

In-depth discussions of sports that require prior knowledge

Loss of employment

Nuclear weapons

Occult topics (i.e. fortune-telling)





Rap Music


Religious holidays and festivals (including but not limited to Christmas, Yom Kippur, and Ramadan)

Rock-and-Roll music

Running away




Television and video games (excessive use)

Traumatic material (including material that may be particularly upsetting such as animal shelters)

Vermin (rats and roaches)


War and bloodshed

Weapons (guns, knives, etc.)

Witchcraft, sorcery, etc.

In a related story, the New York City School District announced that this fall, high school football would be suspended for one season while district fields were retrofitted with a special vibrating surface. 

“After a district-wide study,” said an NYCSD spokesperson, “we found that there was a wide disparity in the abilities of high school players and this greatly upset some of our kids.  Also, we learned that some kids are in great physical condition, some are much less so and girls have never been encouraged to join their high school teams.

“Starting in 2013, all football players will sit on special platforms and be vibrated over the surface of the field to make plays.  The District feels that this will not only raise the self-esteem of its student-athletes but will allow all students, regardless of sex or physical ability to take part in a great high school tradition.”


Posted by Christopher Johnson | Saturday, March 31st, 2012 | Uncategorized | 34 Comments

Katharine Jefferts Schori has an Easter message up.  You’ll be pleased to know that the Presiding Bishop has some good Easter news for a change:

As we began Lent, I asked you to think about the Millennium Development Goals and our work in Lent as a re-focusing of our lives. I’m delighted to be able to tell you that the U.N. report this last year has shown some significant accomplishment in a couple of those goals, particularly in terms of lowering the rates of the worst poverty, and in achieving better access to drinking water and better access to primary education. We actually might reach those goals by 2015. That leaves a number of other goals as well as what moves beyond the goals to full access for all people to abundant life.

Yay!  We finally have something to celebrate during what is always a really grim time of year.  I’m not sure exactly what this means.

In this Easter season I would encourage you to look at where you are finding new life and resurrection, where life abundant and love incarnate are springing up in your lives and the lives of your communities. There is indeed greenness, whatever the season.

See if you can guess what isn’t here.  At all.  Here’s a hint: it’s a short, personal name and it begins with a J.  In the English language, at any rate.


Posted by Christopher Johnson | Friday, March 30th, 2012 | Uncategorized | 11 Comments

WARNING: anyone with a particularly sensitive nature should avoid reading this post.  I realize that by merely reporting this story, I am participating in a great sin and for that I do earnestly repent, am heartily sorry for this my misdoing and humbly and abjectly beg mercy.  But unfortunately, I am obliged to relate that Eliud Wabukala, the Anglican Archbishop of Kenya, recently…shudder…blasphemed against the Millennium Development Goals[peace and blessings be upon them]:

The Archbishop of Kenya has criticized idolatry of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) saying faith in Christ, not works performed in his name, is the path of salvation.

The 22 February 2012 letter written by Archbishop Eliud Wabukala on behalf of the Gafcon primates chastised Christians who in the pursuit of social and economic change, lost sight of the centrality of the cross and the primacy of repentance and amendment of life.  “While it is obvious that such good things as feeding the hungry, fighting disease, improving education and national prosperity are to be desired by all, by themselves any human dream can become a substitute gospel which renders repentance and the cross of Christ irrelevant,” he said.

In his Lenten letter, Archbishop Wabukala wrote in Kenya the church seeks to “equip God’s people to transform society with the gospel.”  Such a transformation is far “more lasting” than the work of governments or NGOs because the Gospel “addresses our deepest need, that of a restored relationship with the God.”

When believers stop placing their full trust in God, they become “vulnerable to taking short cuts that lead us away from the truth of the gospel. Some church leaders seem to think that the transformation of society will simply come through commitment” to the MDGs.

“While it is obvious that such good things as feeding the hungry, fighting disease, improving education and national prosperity are to be desired by all, by themselves any human dream can become a substitute gospel which renders repentance and the cross of Christ irrelevant,” Archbishop Wabukla said.

Archbishop Wabukala also questioned the philosophical rationale for the Western aid industry.  The MDGs “have grown out of a secularised Western culture which is pushing Christianity to the margins and uses the language of human rights and equality to promote irresponsibility in social life and diminish personal responsibility.”

Sarcasm off.


To put this in a Midwestern context, let’s say that a tornado has just blown through your town.  Your dwelling escaped destruction but you have a family member/friend whose family survived unhurt but who lost everything.

You and your church or your social circle get together to determine how you’re going to help out your family member/friend.   Do you (1) decide what it is that you think your family member/friend needs and then provide it for him whether he actually needs it or not or (2) ask your family member/friend how you can best help his family and then do whatever it is that your family member/friend needs done?

Racism may be too harsh a word to use here.  But I really think that there is an element of infantilization at work in the Western “charitable” community especially as far as the various African nations are concerned.

Do the Africans want the Millennium Development Goals[peace and blessings be upon them]?  Or do they want the opportunity to make their own way in the world and solve their own problems in their own way?

The key word there, of course, is “opportunity.”

The United States of America was founded on the idea that there are no guarantees in this life.  As Mr. Jefferson phrased it, God promises us life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, not the achievement of it.

So one assumes that your average African wants more than anything else to have the chance to pursue happiness, whatever he perceives happiness to be.  But if he never achieves what he perceives to be happiness, at least he can die happy knowing that he gave it his best shot.

Which, at the end of the day, is all anyone can ask for in this life.


Posted by Christopher Johnson | Thursday, March 29th, 2012 | Uncategorized | 5 Comments

Do you think George Lucas is an incompetent hack only out to make money?  Philistine.


Posted by Christopher Johnson | Thursday, March 29th, 2012 | Uncategorized | 19 Comments

The password is…schadenfreude.  Ding!  The American left is starting to go absolutely bat crap over the beating ObamaCare took in the Supreme Court.  Shrieking hysterically, the Washington Post’s E. J. Dionne is terrified for the future of American democracy:

Three days of Supreme Court arguments over the health-care law demonstrated for all to see that conservative justices are prepared to act as an alternative legislature, diving deeply into policy details as if they were members of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.

How do you figure, E. J.?  Did your observation come from those celebrated emanations Harry Blackmun was so fond of?  Or did it come from the equally-famous penumbras?

Justice Stephen Breyer noted that some of the issues raised by opponents of the law were about “the merits of the bill,” a proper concern of Congress, not the courts. And in arguing for restraint, Justice Sonia Sotomayor asked what was wrong with leaving as much discretion as possible “in the hands of the people who should be fixing this, not us.” It was nice to be reminded that we’re a democracy, not a judicial dictatorship.

coughROEVERSUSWADEcough!!  Sorry, allergies.  Yeah, E. J. actually did write that.

Slate’s Dahlia Lithwick called attention to this exchange and was eloquent in describing its meaning. “This case isn’t so much about freedom from government-mandated broccoli or gyms,” Lithwick wrote. “It’s about freedom from our obligations to one another . . . the freedom to ignore the injured” and to “walk away from those in peril.”

May I interject something here?  The egregious Ms. Lithwick knows full well that Americans do not and will not walk away from “our obligations to one another.”  So read this and then tell me which course of action is more virtuous. 

Providing an uninsured person with the health care he needs, recording every penny spent and expecting repayment?  Or providing an uninsured person with the health care he needs and not caring if you never see a penny back from him?

This is what conservative justices will do if they strike down or cripple the health-care law. And a court that gave us Bush v. Gore and Citizens United will prove conclusively that it sees no limits on its power, no need to defer to those elected to make our laws. A Supreme Court that is supposed to give us justice will instead deliver ideology.

coughROEVERSUSWADEcough!!  Sorry about that.  Missouri allergies again.  Tell you what, sometimes spring can be pretty rough around here.  New York’s Jon Chait is at least honest enough to admit that the left doesn’t have a leg to stand on.

What made Rosen’s piece so shocking was that, for decades, judicial activism had been primarily associated with the left — liberal judges handed down broad readings of laws to expand rights, enraging conservatives who believed they were taking upon themselves decisions better left to democratic channels. Their complaints were not wholly unfounded — even if you support, say, abortion rights, as I do, the notion that the Constitution requires the right to an abortion is quite a stretch of judicial activism. The whole conservative legal and political movement had come to orient itself around opposition to judicial activism, which actually remains the term Republican politicians use to disparage liberal judges.

Yes sir, I admit it.  I shouldn’t have knocked up your daughter and I’ll never do it again, I swear.  But I don’t think marrying her or paying child support is going to help the underlying problem here.

Just two years ago, the idea that conservatives might win the health-care fight in Court rather than the Senate seemed absurd. Just seven years ago, the notion that Republican jurisprudence would be defined by aggressive economic judicial activism seemed even more fantastical. But just as there are few atheists in foxholes, there aren’t a lot of justices of any persuasion willing to walk away from a chance to overturn a duly-passed law that they personally detest.

So Jon?  You’re on board with the Court overturning Roe v. Wade?  People should go back and fix their mistakes, right?  No?  Oh well, I thought I’d give it a shot.


Posted by Christopher Johnson | Thursday, March 29th, 2012 | Uncategorized | 26 Comments

See if you can guess where New York Episcopal Bishop Mark Sisk is going with this reflection on American religious liberty:

The Founders of this nation believed that separation between Church and State was of crucial importance. The First Amendment is succinct: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”  The importance of religion was not denied; it was simply not to be “established” by government.

Got it yet?  Well, it is early.

The concern of those founding thinkers was not so much to protect the state from religion, as it was to protect religion from the manipulation and ideological exploitations of the state. The effective bargain struck was this: the various religious claimants would be freed from government controls in order to do their own best work. The people for their part would be free to choose, or not to choose, the religion of their choice.

Don’t worry, it’ll come.

Generally speaking the religious communities accepted the bargain with alacrity. Doing so, however, forced them into a sometimes grudging concession: the acknowledgement that their own faith was not, nor would ever be, the only show in town.

The clouds are starting to clear up, aren’t they?

From the religious perspective there can be little doubt that the bargain our founders struck with history paid off. Religion has flourished in America as it has in few other places in the western world.

Wait for it.

However, there can also be little doubt that the number of Americans for whom religion is an important element in their lives is decreasing; ours is an increasingly secular society.

Wait for it.

Many of us are saddened by this slow drift. I, for one, believe that it does not portend well for our nation. We as a people need the insights and sensitivities that religion, at its best, can provide.


However, I fear that the religious community has squandered a good portion of our credibility by becoming allied with one or another particular political position.

Gosh.  I wonder who Sisk can possibly refer to.

Analogously, when a religious community engages the general public, an extraordinarily delicate balancing act is required. The exercise of government power needs to be wielded with great care so as to avoid muffling the freedom of religious speech. At the same time the religious community itself must guard against seeking a privileged place either in the court of public debate or with regard to its activities in the world.

In other words, Roman Catholic Church no “religious community” in particular, if you won’t provide me with free birth control, you’re infringing on my beliefs.  If you’re legally forced to provide me with free birth control, I’m not imposing on yours because that’s pluralism and crap.  Do you mackeral snappers members of no “religious community” in particular hate the US Constitution or something?

So long as any particular religious activity is not supported in any way by public monies, and so long as that activity does not enter into economic competition with regulated competitors, then the government should refrain from interference.  When those two standards are not met, however, religious activity should be conducted under the same regulations as all other such activity in society.

Yup.  So just go ahead and pay for birth control and abortion for any of your employees who want them, Roman Catholic Church no “religious community” in particular.  It’ll be good for you and even better for our great country. 

Deep religious convictions within a profoundly pluralistic society will inevitably create tension. But if that society is truly and richly pluralistic, this tension will be a creative one that enriches both the individual and the general community. It will only be as we work together, seeking the common good, that these sometimes conflicting claims will be resolved to the health of the nation and the flourishing of individual freedom.



Posted by Christopher Johnson | Wednesday, March 28th, 2012 | Uncategorized | 5 Comments

Not too many musicians have ever owned an instrument in the same the way that the late Earl Scruggs owned the banjo.  Rest in peace.


Posted by Christopher Johnson | Wednesday, March 28th, 2012 | Uncategorized | 8 Comments

The next time some wealthy American leftist starts prattling on about a Republican “war on women,” refer them here(WARNING: Think long and hard before you click on that link.  Both the story and pictures are utterly horrific).


Posted by Christopher Johnson | Wednesday, March 28th, 2012 | Uncategorized | 13 Comments

What is the capital of Israel?

Q:  Yesterday there was a bit of a kerfuffle over an announcement that was made by the department about the travel of your boss. Is it the State Department’s position that Jerusalem is not part of Israel? 

MS. NULAND:  Well, you know that our position on Jerusalem has not changed.  The first media note was issued in error, without appropriate clearances.  We reissued the note to make clear that undersecretary, acting undersecretary for — our — Kathy Stevens will be travelling to Algiers, Doha, Amman, Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. With regard to our Jerusalem policy, it’s a permanent-status issue.  It’s got to be resolved through the negotiations between the parties.

Q:  Is it the view of the — of the United States that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, notwithstanding the question about the embassy — the location of the U.S. embassy?

MS. NULAND:  We are not going to prejudge the outcome of those negotiations, including the final status of Jerusalem.

Q:  Does that — does that mean that you do not regard Jerusalem as the capital of Israel?

MS. NULAND:  Jerusalem is a permanent-status issue.  It’s got to be resolved through negotiations.

Q:  That seems to suggest that you do not regard Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.  Is that correct or not?

MS. NULAND:  I have just spoken to this issue —

Q:  (Inaudible.)

MS. NULAND:  — and I have nothing further to say on it.

Q:  You’ve spoken to the issue —

MS. NULAND:  Yeah.

Q:  — but (haven’t answered ?) the question.  And I think there’s a lot of people out there who are interested in hearing a real answer and not saying — and not trying to duck and say that this has got to be resolved by negotiations between the two sides.

MS. NULAND:  That is our —

Q:  What is the capital of Israel?

MS. NULAND:  Our policy with regard to Jerusalem is that it has to be solved through negotiations.  That’s all I have to say on this issue.

Q:  What is the capital of Israel according —

MS. NULAND:  Our embassy, as you know, is located in Tel Aviv.

Q:  So does that mean you regard Tel Aviv as the capital of Israel?

MS. NULAND:  The issue on Jerusalem has to be settled through negotiations.

Q: I just want to go back to — I want to clarify something, perhaps give you an “out” on your Jerusalem answer.  Is it your — is it your position that all of Jerusalem is a final-status issue, or do you think — or is it just East Jerusalem?

MS. NULAND:  Matt, I don’t have anything further to what I’ve said 17 times on that subject. OK? 

Q:  All right.  So hold on.  So I just want to make sure.  You’re saying that all of Jerusalem, not just East Jerusalem, is a final-status issue.

MS. NULAND:  Matt, I don’t have anything further on Jerusalem to what I’ve already said.


Posted by Christopher Johnson | Wednesday, March 28th, 2012 | Uncategorized | 11 Comments

In news that absolutely nobody anywhere cares anything about(I can barely stay awake long enough to post this), the Anglican Covenant was rejected by the Church of England and is probably as officially dead as you already knew it was at least a year ago:

In the light of today’s news about the decisions of the dioceses of the Church of England about the Covenant I wanted to clarify the current situation across the Anglican Communion.

What next steps are taken by the Church of England is up to that Province. Consideration of the Covenant continues across the Anglican Communion and this was always expected to be a lengthy process. I look forward to all the reports of progress to date at the ACC-15 in New Zealand in November.

Historian Diarmaid MacCulloch, who probably hasn’t set foot inside an Anglican parish since he was a boy, thinks the C of E’s refusal is a good thing because the British no longer have to pretend to respect those filthy foreign bigots of ListeningTM and crap.

Something very significant in the history of the Church of England happened on Saturday. An absolute majority of dioceses in the Church of England, debating diocese by diocese, voted down a pernicious scheme called the Anglican Covenant. This was an effort to increase the power of centralising bureaucracy throughout the worldwide Anglican communion. However much the promoters denied it, the principal aim was to discipline Anglican churches in the United States and Canada, which had the gall to think for themselves and, after much prayer and discussion, to treat gay people just like anybody else.

So now Anglicanism needs to move forward and forget this sorry diversion, into which many perfectly well-meaning people poured a huge amount of energy over a decade when they might have been doing something useful. Woe betide any attempt to revive it, though I notice that the secretary general of the Anglican communion (now there’s an office that sounds ripe for culling) is clearly determined to keep it alive. To judge by a press statement he issued after the votes, he simply hasn’t understood the scale of the catastrophe the covenant has suffered at the hands of ordinary English Anglicans.

Anglicanism could be seen as a family: in families, you don’t expect everyone to think in exactly the same way. You listen, you shout, cry, talk, compromise. You do not show the door to one member of the family, just because you don’t agree with them. Now Anglicans can start listening afresh. The present archbishop of Canterbury has their warm good wishes, as he prepares to use his many talents and graces in a different setting. They should ask the next man or woman in the job to reconnect with the church and the nation.

GAFCON realized the Covenant was a sham a long time ago but, notes Tobias Haller, you know how Machiavellian Africans can be.

I’m not so sure the thing is quite completely dead in England yet. However, it’s rejection at this point may well lead Southern Africa not to give final approval later this year. I don’t think TEC is going to adopt. The English action may well have a chilling effect — but it may inspire some of the Gafcon folks who were against it to sign on, and then amend the thing to their liking. I think that may have been in their minds all along, and Ephraim Radner suggested as much not too far back.

After further review, though, Haller thinks that might not be as easy as he initially thought.  But it might not need to be.  Next month, GAFCON is meeting in London and all it would take to send Episcopal blood pressure sky-high would be for Rowan Williams to drop by for a visit and perhaps an address.

Will he go?  Hard to say.  Since my gracious lord of Canterbury is on the way out, he doesn’t need to pretend to like traditionalists anymore.  He also doesn’t need to care about liberal opinion either so a trip to the conference, with the implicit recognition such a visit would provide, is not out of the question.

As the C of E’s liberals might look askance, it’s possible that the Primate of England or any of the other contenders for Lambeth Palace would be reluctant to stop by.  But of the contenders, Dr. Sentamu might be the most likely of the English hierarchy to address GAFCON.  Considering his history, the high-toned disapproval of people like Diarmaid MacCulloch probably doesn’t count for very much.

UPDATE: I stand corrected.  The Prof informs me that MacCulloch was ordained a deacon in the C of E in 1986.


Posted by Christopher Johnson | Tuesday, March 27th, 2012 | Uncategorized | 51 Comments

Golly, it must be fun to be a “Biblical scholar.”  In what other profession do you get to make up your own facts?

Early Christianity was an oral culture launched by an illiterate Jesus Christ, according to two liberal New Testament scholars who spoke recently at a Jesus Seminar event in Washington, D.C.

Bernard Brandon Scott of Phillips Theological Seminary in Tulsa, Oklahoma and Joanna Dewey, a professor emerita of Biblical Studies at Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Massachusetts, argued that a later move into manuscripts minimalized the role of women in the early church.

Why was that?  Apparently chicks don’t write or something.

“Early Christianity was an oral culture based on oral authority,” Dewey claimed, adding that manuscripts were “inherently male” and eliminated women, while oral story kept them in.

Whatever you say, Jane Austen. 

During one session of her presentation, Dewey donned a head covering and dramatically sought to “re-imagine” a female-centered telling of Mark’s gospel, performing as an imaginary late first century woman.


The Episcopal seminary professor described such a “reimagining” of Mark’s gospel as an important step in countering alleged sexist distortion of Biblical history. Women, Dewey argued, would be at center, rather than periphery, of any actual gospel events.

I guess that means that if it wasn’t for all those dumb men, you Catholics would be saying Hail Josephs all the time.  The dumb broad’s “male” associate agreed with her.

Scott agreed, asserting that “These days, unless you are a right-wing conservative, a feminist reading of the Bible is typical.”

Dude only said that to get laid.

Dewey was firm in her assertion that Jesus was illiterate.

What about that time Jesus read in the synagogue? 

Refuting the Luke chapter 4 account of Christ reading in the synagogue as an invention of the gospel writer, Dewey claimed it was “because he couldn’t imagine Jesus as illiterate.”

The gospel writer?   

“Jesus did not know how to read and write, there was no reason to,” Dewey flatly declared, adding that while modern people take literacy for granted, “this was not true in antiquity.” Dewey offered that the only group among whom literacy was the norm at the time was the elite, with letters orally dictated and then performed before community.

Kind of makes you wonder why anybody in the ancient world ever wrote anything down at all what with there being nobody around to read any of it.  Speaking of reading, these two twits think that everybody ought to do what they spend their days doing.

Sweeping claims by Scott and Dewey, including an assertion that monastics rejected episcopal authority, went mostly unchallenged during the workshop at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church on Capitol Hill. Scott at one point suggested to the audience of 40 mostly elderly participants to “make up your own canon” of scripture.

“I would trade the book of Revelation for Hamlet any day,” Scott announced, adding that he would swap the Pastoral Epistles for any two Emily Dickinson poems. “We’d be way better off.”

I’m sure you would, cupcake.  These people sure did choose an odd line of work what with hating Christians and Christianity as passionately as they do.

Both Scott and Dewey shared their dismay at the continued worldwide spread of Evangelical Christianity and the failure of liberal religious thought to gain widespread traction. Both of the Jesus Seminar speakers complained that the prevalence of evangelicalism led to assumptions that it is the only viewpoint of Christianity, resulting in either adherence to evangelical belief or a rejection of Christianity altogether.

Mainline Protestants also earned Dewey’s scorn, as the retired Episcopal seminary professor expressed frustration at “pressure still there to preach [Bible] stories as true.”

“We’re not just talking about Evangelicals – but liberal, east coast Episcopalians,” Dewey fumed. Scott agreed, sharing that he no longer revealed to fellow airplane passengers that he was a New Testament scholar out of frustration with preconceived notions he encountered.

Maybe the reason why “liberal religious thought” never gained “traction” has something to do with the fact that too many of its adherents are arrogant, condescending, pseudo-intellectual douchebags(like these two) and most people don’t like being arrogant, condescending, pseudo-intellectual douchebags(like these two).  Just a thought.

Thanks to David Fischler.


Posted by Christopher Johnson | Tuesday, March 27th, 2012 | Uncategorized | 22 Comments

If ObamaCare is found to be unconstitutional, expect the Administration and its simpering media toadies to push a familiar line, as acting Solictor General Neal Katyal indicates:

If the Supreme Court struck this down, I think that it wouldn’t just be about health care. It would be the Supreme Court saying: ‘Look, we’ve got the power to really take decisions, move them off of the table of the American people, even in a democracy. And so it could imperil a number of reforms in the New Deal that are designed to help people against big corporations and against, indeed, big governments. The challengers are saying that this law is unconstitutional, which means even if 95 percent of Americans want this law, they can’t have it. And that’s a really profound thing for an unelected court to say.

What I think is not appropriate is to take that policy debate and put it in front of the Supreme Court of the United States.

Yeah, US Constitutions can really get in your way, can’t they, Neal?


Posted by Christopher Johnson | Tuesday, March 27th, 2012 | Uncategorized | 17 Comments

In the legal world, they refer to this as getting your ass handed to you:

Over the course of the health care debate Obama had claimed that the individual mandate was not a tax and thus did not violate his pledge not to raise taxes on those earning under $250,000. Today, as U.S. Solicitor General Donald Verrilli argued the contradictory position — that it was a tax and thus justified under Congress’s taxing power — Scalia reminded him.

“The president said it wasn’t a tax, didn’t he?” Scalia asked.

Verrilli argued, “The President said it wasn’t a tax increase because it ought to be understood as an incentive to get people to have insurance. I don’t think it’s fair to infer from that anything about whether that is an exercise of the tax power or not.”

But later in this strain of arguments, Chief Justice John Roberts asked, “You’re telling me (Congress) thought of it as a tax, they defended it on the tax power. Why didn’t they say it was a tax?”

Verrilli responded, “They might have thought, Your Honor, that calling it a penalty as they did would make it more effective in accomplishing its objective.”

Roberts evidently stunned by the weakness of the argument, shot back “Well, that’s the reason? They thought it might be more effective if they called it a penalty?”

A stumbling Verrilli started out, “Well, I — you know, I don’t — there is nothing that I know of that — that illuminates that, but certainly -­”


Posted by Christopher Johnson | Monday, March 26th, 2012 | Uncategorized | 54 Comments

Every now and then, notes Dale Price, the two most destructive words in the English language are “Calm down.”

But the problem with [Father Thomas Massaro’s] call for civility is that he sees the white-hot anger as the problem rather than the symptom. It’s not–the real problem goes far, far deeper than that, and has been savaging the Body of Christ for decades now.

The HHS mandate is just the catalyst causing it to explode to the surface.

The real problem is that the Church in America has fractured into at least two churches. If it hadn’t been this issue, it would have been a dispute over the language of the liturgy, or the latest pronouncement from the Vatican, some university conferring honors on someone who is an open enemy of Catholic teaching or even the renovation of the local cathedral church. The struggle–more bluntly, low-grade civil war–between the churches has been going on since the last bit of incense dispersed at Vatican II. We don’t agree on how to worship, what our schools should teach, what laws should be enacted/opposed, what canons apply and when or even what our parish church should look like. In fact, we can’t even agree on whether or not Jesus actually rose from the dead.

And for forty five years, our shepherds have been trying to keep it together by careful tacking, including soothing rhetoric, trying to give everyone half a loaf or so (depending on the year, bishop and constituency) and generally trying not to see the coal pile in the ballroom.

But there’s no avoiding it here. Every. Last. One. of the episcopate has weighed in against the assault on the Free Exercise Clause. Yet many self-identified Catholics see no problem with the attack, and significant numbers even support it. Which means those Catholics are in the wrong, and need to be called to account.

On a superficial level, I think Price overstates the case a bit.  The number of actual Catholics in this country far exceeds the population of what I have taken the liberty of referring to as the American Catholic church’s “Episcopalian” wing. 

The bishops, as Dale observes, have united this issue as I can never remember them ever uniting about anything in my lifetime.  And as long as Rome maintains its theological standards for ordination and is vigorous in the enforcement of those standards, the successors of those bishops should keep the Enemy at bay for quite some time.

Leftist Catholics, on the other hand, have no leaders and influence nobody in the Church who matters.  To my knowledge, there hasn’t been a bishop yet who’s read a Joan Chittister column or a National Catholic Reporter editorial, slapped his forehead, and declared, “By golly, they’re right!!  We should downplay the whole abortion thing and start ordaining women right now!!”

But on a deeper level, The Epicenter of the Roman Catholic Blogosphere is spot-on.  While the guns might not yet be blazing, the warning signs of the battle’s approach are there for anyone who cares to look for them.  Because in a way, the Catholic left does have a leader. Not in a religious sense, of course, but as the head of an example of how to fight and win the battle the Catholic left longs for.

And that leader’s name is Katharine Jefferts Schori.

I’ve said here before that one of the reasons the Episcopal Organization gets the media coverage that it does really has nothing to do with the Episcopalians at all.  If it were simply a matter of politics, the Unitarians and the United Church of the Zeitgeist are far more left-wing than the Episcopalians are.

Nobody knew or cared the last time the Unitarians or the UCZ elected a new leader or consecrated(I neither know nor care what the actual Uni-Uni term is) a gay or a lesbian to a church leadership post.  But everyone in the world knew about Gene Robinson’s pointy hat or Mrs. Schori’s elevation to the top Episcopal job.  Why?

I submit that it’s because of how the Episcopalians look.  Episcopal bishops wear pointy hats and carry hooked sticks.  The odd Latin word or two turns up in the Episcopal prayer book, Episcopalians observe the usual Catholic seasons(Advent, Lent, etc), they have “saints” after a fashion as well as religious orders and some of them even use rosaries.

There are, of course, some slight differences between the two churches.  The Episcopalians not only ordain women and unrepentant sinners, they make some of them into bish0ps.  They’re as latitudinarian as hell on issues like abortion but quick to “repent” of “sins” like racism that none of them have ever committed.  And they don’t seriously believe much of anything except that you’re a evil bigot if you believe that the Bible means what it says about how Gene Robinson likes to spend his off-hours.

In short, the Roman Catholic Church is a large and influential church while the Episcopal Organization, well, isn’t.  So TEO is everything the secular media wishes that the Roman Catholic Church would become.

How might all this affect the Roman Catholic Church in the United States?  The chicken-egg debate traditionalist Anglicans is where everything went wrong.  The current prayer book?  The ordination of women?  The church’s toleration of the atheist John Shelby Spong as one of its bishops?  The 1930 Lambeth Conference resolution on birth control?

To me, the reason for the Episcopal Organization’s doom can be spelled out in two words.  James Pike.

Wikipedia gives the basics.  Apparently, Pike was a modern Episcopalian long before the world had ever heard the name John Spong.  Four separate times, Pike was brought up on heresy charges and four separate times, nothing much happened.

Why?  Because the Episcopalians came to the conclusion that the idea of a heresy trial in this day and age was simply awful and would make them look simply horrid in the eyes of the modern American culture around which everything temporal revolves.

If any American Catholic bishop ever decides that getting along with secularism is vitally important, then may the laity under him, to paraphrase Patrick Henry, profit by the Episcopal example and seek out the nearest Orthodox church they can find.  Secure in the knowledge, of course, that their refuge is temporary and that locusts and wild honey might very well be their dinners from here to the end.

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