Saturday, April 30, 2005

Orkney Springs Hotel, Shrine Mont Episcopal Conference Center Posted by Hello

No deal between diocese, 3 churches - Orange County Register

(reg. req.)

St. James and All Saints churches cut ties to the national Episcopal Church in August and placed themselves under the jurisdiction of a conservative Anglican bishop in Uganda. St. David's Church in North Hollywood later followed suit. The parishes say they have divergent views on biblical interpretation and homosexuality.
+The diocese filed its suit against the churches Sept. 7, seeking return of church property, including prayer books and hymnals. After the lawsuits were filed, the Rt. Rev. J. John Bruno, bishop of the Los Angeles Diocese, issued a statement saying he had no choice but to sue to preserve the churches as houses of worship for faithful Episcopalians, as they had been used since being founded.
Lawyers for the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles and three breakaway parishes met in mediation but failed to settle a lawsuit stemming from a dispute over who owns church property, an attorney said.
+The suit, filed by the diocese against St. James Church in Newport Beach, All Saints Church in Long Beach and St. David's Church in North Hollywood will now proceed through the court, Daniel Lula, who represents the parishes, said Thursday.

Faithful wait, wonder - The Cincinnati Post

And, no, there's no star in the east.
"It's strange that conservatives by and large do not want to consult the rest of the world on things like foreign policy, but people in the church think we have to consult the bishop of Nigeria on some local issue," he said.
I, by the way, am consistent in my views. And I don't believe we need to consult the bishop of Nigeria. Draw your own inference on my politics.

In praise of hospital chaplains - Lexington Herald-Leader

The Rev. Donna Barr is an Episcopal deacon; her daughter, the Rev. Emily Richards, an Episcopal priest....For both women, the path to the clergy began more than 30 years ago, when Richards was a 6-month-old lying in the University of Kentucky Children's Hospital, her body ravaged by what had been diagnosed as juvenile rheumatoid arthritis.
As her daughter began to prepare for college, Barr, who had been a stay-at-home mom caring for Emily and her two brothers, began to see hospital chaplaincy as a possibility for her future.
+Along the way, she'd done what she'd told her husband, Garland Barr, that she would never do: Become an Episcopalian. When Richards was 8 or 9 years old, Barr converted after being drawn into a prayer group at Christ Church Cathedral that had been praying for them.
+And so, on the recommendation of Bishop Don Wimberly, who preceded current Bishop Stacy Sauls, Barr was ordained a deacon in 1994 and began working as hospital chaplain for the diocese.She sees the altar in the tray tables sitting next to hospital beds.
+"That is where I feel most at ease," she said.
Read the whole thing.

Friday, April 29, 2005

Protestant? - All words on Church of England

All words on Church of England: "The second schism, from which the present Church of England originates, came later. Upon Mary's death in 1558, her sister Elizabeth came to power. Elizabeth became a determined opponent of papal rule, but despite reintroducing separatist ideas, Elizabeth was not excommunicated from the Roman Catholic Church until February 25, 1570, by Pope Pius V, after Charles V withdrew his protection. The Church of England officially broke with Rome again in 1559, when Parliament recognised Elizabeth as being supreme governor, with a new Act of Supremacy that also repealed the remaining anti-Protestant legislation. In the same year a new Book of Common Prayer was issued. Elizabeth presided over the 'Elizabethan Settlement', an attempt to satisfy the Puritan and Catholic forces in England within a single national Church. "

F.C. Ewer, What Is the Anglican Church? (1833) - titusonenine

Back to the future. Worth reading. Titus quotes, you decide.

Rome Diary: on Anglicanism - First Things

In the forthcoming May issue of First Things, Philip Turner, former head of the Berkeley Divinity School at Yale, has an article insightfully analyzing the "operative theology" of Episcopalianism and how it inexorably led to the unraveling of that community, and how it may lead to the unraveling of Anglicanism itself, except perhaps for Africa.
Something to look forward to.

Bishop Griswold Tries to Focus on Life and Death Issues Not Homosexuality - Christian Today

God willing, as my Muslim friends always say.

He informed that he wants to spend his time working on life and death issues, not on the stir over the homosexual issue, which was the main topic of a majority of discussions over the past year for the Episcopal Church.

Griswold said that the "developing world - Africa in particular - is far more in need of the Church's attention and resources to combat poverty and disease, including the AIDS epidemic that has killed millions."
And yet we throw our energies into the debate over the acceptance of homosexuals into the Episcopal Church USA, and not into finding solutions to the problems of the developing world.
"There are entities within my own country, this country, who are determined to make a domestic question an international question," he said. "Certain right-wing forces within this country and the Episcopal Church are driving a lot of the active displeasure among primates in other parts of the world, saying such things as 'If you really are orthodox, then you will sign on to the condemnation of this church in the United States.'"

There are diverse views on how the scripture should be read: Doctrinal absolutists point out that the Bible evidently rejects "disordered sexuality." on the other hand, Griswold belonging to the liberal wing thinks that "In the end, it's about context."

"For instance, in the portion of Romans that talks about homosexuality, clearly the Biblical writers assume that everyone was naturally heterosexual, and therefore any kind of homosexual behaviour was unnatural. Well, I think there's a big question mark there," he said.
The question mark Griswold is referring to is, I suppose, whether all of us are born heterosexual and whether that was known at the time Romans was written. Another question mark is: did God in effect write the Bible? If we are certain she did, then I think we can be certain that the first question mark can be removed. I'm not prepared to take it as given that the hand of man intervened between the word of God and the words on the page.

Christian Today, the source for the quotes above uses these words at the top of its pages:
..Simply let your 'Yes' be 'Yes', and your 'No', 'No'. (Mt 5:37)
I wonder what CT's intent is.

Headline: Presiding Episcopal Bishop Defends Controversy in Church - AP

Episcopalians are struggling with how to resolve the issues, in large measure because "everyone is thoroughly defended (in their own position), instead of dealing with one another from the heart," Griswold said.

"By approaching one another with battlements in place, there's very little opportunity to meet the Christ in one another," he said.

I suppose the meaning of the headline is that Griswold was saying we shouldn't shy away from controversy and bury differences between us. He seems to be saying if are open about our differences and open to listening to each other we will come to a healthy resolution of the issues that divide us.

A clean break, though, could be what that healthy resolution is. When partners become thoroughly defended in their own positions isn't that the time divorce becomes the right alternative?

Griswold "is in Salt Lake City for a convention of Episcopal communication directors."

Ironic. I suppose it's relevant that we focus upon communication. And community. And communion.

But if what if the last word is of this kind and tone?:

"There's no way to compromise in terms of the truth of the Gospel or the reliability of Scripture or the necessity of salvation in Jesus Christ."
--Bishop Robert W. Duncan Jr. of Pittsburgh

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Church of the Day - April 28, 2005

Holy Trinity Church
Stanley Mission, Northern Saskatchewan

Episcopal Church: Modern Sect? - Christianity Today

"The Episcopal Church hangs by a thread in terms of its relationship with the Anglican communion," ... "If that thread breaks, the Episcopal Church will essentially become a modern sect." - Rev. Canon David H. Roseberry, rector of Christ Church Episcopal in Plano, Texas, speaking to Kentucky chapter of the American Anglican Council.

There's nothing necessarily negative about being a sect is it? Generally, sects are full of life and mission.

There's nothing necessarily negative about being modern is there? As long as inquiry and reason and human agency are inherent to bringing about the kingdom (no doubt, they are necessary though not sufficient) then progress can be a good thing.

The Christianity Today article concludes:
The mission of ACC-KY is to "restore Kentucky Anglicans to full participation in the Anglican Communion."
I suppose there could well come a time when the Episcopal Church USA is not recognized by the world wide Anglican Communion. Presumably, when that time comes, some other denomination in the US would become the Anglican Communion's representative here the US. For that to happen at least of the several Anglican sects which exist in the US today would have to coalesce into a denomination.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

The penalty for blasphemy is death and that is what this woman deserves' - swissinfo

[Originally appeared in The Emirates Economist 19Mar05.]

The event, which came amid heavy police security, was held at the Synod House, a small chapel next to the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in Manhattan's Upper West Side. Other locations refused to host the event due to threats."I don't want to change Muslim mosques. I want to encourage the hearts of Muslims to believe that they are equal," Wadud said at a crowded news conference before the service, adding she wished to help remove "artificial and inconvenient restrictions" aimed at Muslim women.
Back on July 29, 1974 - Episcopal feminists ordained despite rules:
Fifteen hundred people crowded the sanctuary of the Episcopal Church of the Advocate in Philadelphia to witness this confrontation with church rules and authority. A banner shouted Paul's words: "In Christ there is neither male nor female." Bishop Corrigan asked if there was any known impediment to ordination of the eleven. "Yes," shouted several. Five priests stepped forward to take the microphones. What was about to be done was illegal and divisive they said. They could not state all the reasons for their view. For much of church history, women were barred from ordination. The reasons were many. Women held chattel-like status throughout much of history. Their parental and nurturing roles often made it impractical for them to be active as leaders. Many men were (and are) reluctant to accept instruction from women.
More on the history of footdragging by the Episcopal Church here.

Gay blogger on the Connecticut 7 - Out in Windsor

I say 7 instead of 6 because I see this struggle in Life of Pi terms.

A statement issued by the American Anglican Council claims a gathering of Episcopal clergy from across the state "had no heart" for supporting their bishop. The gay religion blog reports clergy who attended the Friday sessions say they were never asked to vote - or even reach a decision - on whether the six conservative clergymen should be allowed to remain at their posts despite refusing to support the Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut or recognize the bishop's authority.

"It became clear quickly in the meeting that the assembled clergy had no heart for the bishop's proceeding with inhibition. The group urged Bishop Smith to refrain from inhibiting the six clergy, and one priest recommended that all discussion of such action be tabled in order to pursue a positive resolution," the ACC statement claimed.

"The fact is Bishop Smith received no mandate for his threatened action. He has no support from the primates, the canons of the church nor even the clergy of his diocese," said the Rev. Gil Wilkes, rector of Christ and the Epiphany, East Haven.
This is your understanding of the Episcopacy - it takes polls, it's democracy? Sounds like normative has been confused with positive.

Meanwhile, those gathered Friday are getting help in being hoisted on their own pitard:

But neither the primates nor bishops of the [ECUSA nor] the Episcopal clergy of Connecticut have taken a vote that supports the six conservative priests continued disobedience, the gay religion blog reported. More than a dozen retired conservative Episcopal bishops recently voiced support for these clergy, breaking again the Episcopal tradition of not interfering in other dioceses.

It is not thought that any of these retired bishops would, while in office, have tolerated it if liberal persists had taken the same actions as the six Connecticut clergy, the blog suggested.
Perhaps the concept "consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds" applies. But I doubt it. What is true is that we're engaged in a colossal diversion from mission, and both sides are contributing.

(Note: Several typographical errors in the original are corrected in quotes provided above. But deviations from Episcopalian terminological practice were left standing.)

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Speaking truthfully about Called to Common Mission - CCM Verax

If there can be "high tech lynchings" then I guess you can have "high tech thesis nailings."

Pay CCM Verax a visit. A smile should cross your lips at the production values and how they've been used to make a point. And what's the point or thesis?

Called to Common Mission (CCM), the ecumenical agreement between the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and the Episcopal Church in the USA, is arguably the greatest act of deception ever cultivated by an ecclesial denomination in the history of North America.

CCM has been crafted with misinformation, half-truths, and invented history. Armed with its array of subtle and intricate fallacies, CCM has misled a large number of ELCA Lutherans to believe much nonsense.

Thanks to MA at LTSS for the link.

o Here's the official ELCA presentation of CCM.
o Here's the official ECUSA presentation of CCM.

U.S. headed for theocracy? -

Instapundit, as usual, puts the question in a nice bundle. I can't resist quoting some of his quotes, but follow the link above further the linked sources.

He quotes Michael Barone: "Fifty years ago, secular liberals were confident that education, urbanization and science would lead people to renounce religion. That seems to have happened, if you confine your gaze to Europe, Canada and American university faculty clubs."

And Jon Henke: "You can tell the Social Conservatives are losing by the very battles they are fighting. Almost without exception, they are doing rear-guard duty. I mean, we've got partial nudity on prime-time television, and gay marriage on the radar. That's one hell of a long way from the 1940s-50s, where even married TV characters had separate beds, and the question was not whether homosexuals deserved marriage, but whether they deserved a lobotomy."

There She Stood, She Could Do No Other - The Fact Is

In 1517, Martin Luther nailed his Ninety-five Theses to the church door, announcing later at Diet of Worms, "Here I stand. I can do no other." Diane Knippers was the very personification of that kind of old-line Protestant cussedness, little in evidence these days.

Knippers, since 1993 the president of the invaluable Institute on Religion and Democracy, a reforming voice among liberal mainline Protestant churches, died last week after a long battle with colon cancer. She spent her adult life fighting to recall mainline Protestantism to its biblical roots, which, as her friend Richard John Neuhaus put it, was possibly "a futile effort, but no fair-minded person denied its nobility."

As both a warden at Truro Church in northern Virginia and the head of IRD, Knippers was deeply involved in the internecine warfare over homosexuality, radical feminism, and biblical faithfulness that is slowly ripping apart the worldwide Anglican Communion. But she was a force for biblical tradition and orthodox Protestant theology in a number of denominations.
Knippers was also central to one of the most important religious, cultural, and political stories of the past quarter-century: the convergence of orthodox Catholics, Protestant Christians, and Jews into a potent intellectual and cultural bloc. These groups — traditionally enemies, or at least not allies — were driven together by a culture that seemed intent on completely exorcising religious witness from public life: the naked public square, to use the phrase coined by Neuhaus.

Suddenly, the doctrines and historical animosities that divided people of faith seemed less important — what Baptist leader Richard Land has called "the in-addition to's" — than the things that united them, including respect for life, an insistence on the importance of traditional morality, and the primary importance of the traditional family to social health.

It is a uniquely American enterprise, this common front of religious orthodox, one that could only exist in a nation that has a broad tradition of religious pluralism and a streak pragmatism that could subsume sectarian tensions. Diane Knippers was a leader of its Protestant wing.

... to secular media, this is a movement that was not really "discovered" until the recent presidential elections, when its adherents were dubbed "values voters" and scribes set forth from Washington, New York, and points east to chronicle its strange ways. When they did, they found Knippers, who was promptly hailed by Time magazine as one of the nation's 25 most influential evangelical Christians.

Justin Torres is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University and research director of the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation


Muslims might also feel comfortable in this coalition.

Episcopal Relief and Development - Tsunami Relief Database

Looks to be a very polished database.

Has Ads by Goooooooooogle which seems a bit out off center.

Monday, April 25, 2005

The Mystery Worshipper goes to All Saints Episcopal in Phoenix

Ship of Fools is a network of Mystery Worshippers. BBC News is among the latest to cover their exploits.

The link above goes to a recent Ship of Fools review of an Episcopal Church in Phoenix. It includes two revealing photographs, and a polished review which ends as follows,

What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
I was completely ignored.

How would you describe the after-service coffee?
Weak, flavorless coffee served in styrofoam cups. There were, however, several kinds of cookies set out, which were delicious. Fruit punch was also available, which I didn't sample.

How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
8 – I intend to retire to Phoenix, and when I do I will consider this church among others. The congregation seemed very friendly amongst themselves, even if not to a stranger; the liturgy was conducted with dignity; and the church maintains an active presence in the community.

Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?
Yes. It was one of the most inspiring services I have attended in a very long time in any church.

What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
All of the above, especially the Biery O Sacrum Convivium. But it's going to take me a while to put those ficus trees and birdhouses out of my mind.
Some things to work on, but it sounds as if All Saints has it together. However, note that the Mystery Reporter attended the day the bishop was there. Perhaps that explains some of both the good and the bad. The sample is unlikely to be representative.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Secularization doesn’t just happen - First Things: The Public Square

“As society became more modern, it became more secular.” That sentence has about it a certain “of courseness.” It or its equivalent is to be found in numerous textbooks from grade school through graduate school. The connection between modernization and secularization is taken for granted. Christian Smith, professor of sociology at the University of North Carolina, challenges what everybody knows in an important new collection of essays by several sociologists and historians, The Secular Revolution: Power, Interests, and Conflict in the Secularization of American Public Life (University of California Press, 484 pp., $60). ...

There are, writes Smith, seven crucial and related defects in conventional secularization theory. Over-abstraction: the literature of the theorists routinely spoke of “differentiation,” “autonomization,” “privatization,” and other abstract, if not abstruse, dynamics disengaged from concrete factors of social change such as interests, ideologies, institutions, and power conflicts. Lack of human agency: the theory was big on process without protagonists. It depicted secularization without secularizers. According to the theory, secularization just happens. Overdeterministic inevitability: “Religion’s marginalization from public life is portrayed as a natural or inevitable process like cell mitosis or adolescent puberty.” Secularization theory reflects a view of linear social evolution in the tradition of Comte and Spencer. “If there is one truth that history teaches us beyond doubt,” wrote the great Durkheim, “it is that religion tends to embrace a smaller and smaller portion of social life.” Any questions, class?

These are interesting and resonate as true. Plus four more that begin to lose me. I'll put this in my "to read" pile. Whether I'll become a regular reader of First Things is in doubt. While I found this article penetrable, much of the other contributions in the few issues I scanned were impenetrable - first things first, and if I'm to get much out of First Things I'll need some more brains.

This is my kind of church - Burlington County Times

Item: "Harper also decided it was important to reach out to other faith communities. In her first few days on the job, she discovered that a Latino church, Iglesia Shalom, that had has close ties and shared the building with Christ Church was celebrating its eighth anniversary. Harper immediately asked the pastor if the two congregations had ever held a joint service. The answer was no, and Harper decided that had to change."

Item: "Christ Church is a 161-year-old congregation that was on Bristol Pike, but forced to move to Street Road in the '60s, when construction started on Interstate 95. Today, the beautiful brown brick church is a small island of peace on Street Road, set back and sandwiched between a pancake house and a gas station."

Item: "Harper comes from a family of loyal members of the Anglican Church. Her father's family comes from the British Virgin Islands, her mother's from the Dominican Republic."

Item: "In 1987, Harper traveled to the Yukon to work as a lay minister at St. Simon's Anglican Church in Whitehorse. She also served as a prison chaplain and used her time there to explore Alaska and Canada's Northwest Territories."

Item: "After Vancouver Theological School and before her ordination, Harper took to the streets of Manhattan as an intensive case manager for Federated Education and Guidance Services, an organization that served the needs of "seriously, persistently" mentally ill individuals. Her job was to enforce laws enacted in New York by which people considered a danger to themselves and to others could be forced to take medication or to be hospitalized. Harper championed her clients among indifferent mental facilities, courts and social agencies."

Item: "Eleanor Wallen, 78, a volunteer secretary at the Christ Church said that friendliness was the hallmark of the congregation that takes pride in welcoming all worshippers. She is especially fond of Harper.

"I don't think [Harper's] color even came into the picture at all. Nothing has ever been said about this," Wallen said.

Alex Deas is 19 and serves as the church organist, a successor to his grandmother, who held that position in the '90s. He is also one of the small number of blacks who attend Christ Church. He credits the church's "lack of politics that other churches have" with creating a happy atmosphere."

What does the Bible say about homosexuality? - Galveston County Daily News

[L. Michael] White is the director of the Institute for the Study of Antiquity and Christian Origins at the University of Texas at Austin. ... White received his doctorate in 1982 from Yale University, and he moved to the University of Texas in 1996 from Oberlin College, where he was chair of the Department of Religion. He has also taught at Yale and at Indiana University. He specializes in the religions of the Roman Empire, focusing heavily on the social context of Jews and Christians in the Graeco-Roman period by blending historical, literary and sociological research with traditional biblical studies and archaeological field work.
During a recent appearance at Trinity Episcopal Church, White contended that those arguing for inclusion were making an error in strategy. “To not talk about the Bible is to lose automatically in the minds of those on the other side,” he said.
“The words that we often assume are found in the Bible are not even really there,” he said. The word “homosexual” was not coined until 1869 as an effort by the medical profession to arrive at a more neutral term than “sodomy” or “sodomite,” White said, and even those words did not come into being until the 11th century, almost 2,000 years after the first portions of the Torah were written. Nonetheless, all appear in some translations of the Bible.

White noted that the only references to same-sex relations in the Old Testament come in two passages in Leviticus, a book scholars believe was written in about the fourth century B.C., almost 500 years after the first version of the Torah emerged.

In the original Hebrew, those passages label incest and bestiality as “tebel,” which means “improper mixing.” They describe sex between men as “toebah,” which means “abhorrent by reason of impurity.” The word applied to incest and bestiality, White said, would clearly indicate a greater transgression.

The Bible uses the term it applies to sex among men to describe many other things, including lying, cheating and burning incense. The differentiation is lost, he said, in the translation to Latin, which used the same word to translate both “tebel” and “toebah.”

White notes still other problems in translation. The Greek word “arsenokoitais,” for example, is translated in the King James Version as someone who defiles himself with men. In the New American Bible, circa 1970, the translation became “practicing homosexuals.” In the New International Version three years later, it was “perverts.”

White was even more emphatic in his analysis of a verse in the New Testament book of Romans that has been interpreted as a condemnation of homosexuality. White says he and many other scholars believe the verse actually refers to a practice called “pederasty,” an ancient Greek tradition in which older men had sex with young boys.

“It is to pervert the New Testament to try to make those passages apply to homosexuality in general,” White said.

Still, he said, it would be wrong to deny that the Bible frowns on homosexual relationships. Of course, it also frowns upon the presence of menstruating women in church, and it celebrates the murder and mutilation of a woman whose only sin was to have been raped.

Europe's healthy religious tension - Gulf News

The reality of Europe today is that both established churches and the secular establishment are on the defensive against the rise of more fundamentalist belief.

Europe's traditions of tolerance are struggling to cope. It is wrong to see the conflict in terms of religion versus secularism.

It is the tension between them, and the accommodation they have reached, that ensures the stability of European society. Religion without secular limits could become theocratic.

Secularism without religion turns to atheistic fanaticism. If either side wins the contest, we will all be worse off.

Financial Times, by Quentin Peel
I wonder if Mr. Peel means to imply that Europe has that healthy tension, but other parts of the world, including the United States, do not. If so, it's something to ponder. I would characterize the U.S. in the category of healthy tension. Despite the treatment of prayer in public school. And in spite of the fears of blue-staters that some politicians are beholden to Evangelicals.

The Connecticut 7

Diverse views on Episcopalian (Episcopal?) polity

They are oceans apart:

Statement by the Rt. Rev. Andrew D. Smith
Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut
April 18, 2005

The fundamental organization for mission and life within the Episcopal Church is a geographical area called a diocese, whose head is its bishop. That principle was established at the first ecumenical Council of Nicaea in 325 A.D.

The historic ministry of the bishop is to be shepherd of a diocese. The shepherd's staff that the bishop carries in worship symbolizes the bishop's care, in the name of Jesus, for everyone in the diocese. The relationship to the whole diocese is fundamental for the Episcopal Church, no matter what the time or situation or issue. For the past 11 months, six rectors of the Diocese of Connecticut, together with the leadership of the parishes they serve, have refused to accept their relationship with their bishop.

In the past year I have offered to arrange for another bishop to be their pastor and parish visitor. To date they have refused that offer. Rather, the priests have demanded that the historic traditions we live by as a Church be changed for them and the congregations they serve. Their requirements would break the ties they have to the Diocese of Connecticut. What they expect I cannot grant, because of the responsibilities I have for all of the people and parishes of the diocese....

Six Connecticut Priests' Response to Statement by Bishop Smith

... Despite the good efforts of Bishop Scruton of Massachusetts to mediate discussion, Bishop Smith suspended consideration and conversation regarding oversight and related issues; he was intractable and unyielding; he sought neither reconciliation nor solutions but rather effectively demanded a verbal oath of allegiance. He warned us that in leaving the meeting, we offered "proof" of leaving the communion. In his statement following the meeting, he reasserted the threat of inhibition because we had not acknowledged his authority as bishop.

We have been clear from the beginning that we seek oversight as called for by the primates of the worldwide Anglican Communion in their statements of October 2003 and February 2005. It would seem by his actions tonight that Bishop Smith does not acknowledge or embrace the authority of the primates and is intent upon continuing the rupture of the Episcopal Church....

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Ratzinger strikes fear in hearts of gay Catholics - Gay Religion

A blog that's been around for a while, Gay Religion, is the latest (Opus 90) to join the Blogging Episcopalians ring.

The post I've linked to here seems representative of the kind of posts they seem to do. Interesting roundup of fears about what the new Pope's papacy will be like.

Episcopal girls roll past Mount Lebanon - Phil. Inq. (reg. req.)

La. Episcopalians celebrate bicentenniel, hope for more - 2theadvocate

The [diocesan] convention was fairly quiet compared to the "rancorous" nature of the last one, said the Rev. Drew Rollins, chaplain of St. Alban's Chapel. "We elected a fairly solid conservative deputation [to General Convention in Ohio in 2006], one that people on all sides would say is fairly conservative, and I think people understood that was a big move," he said.
Financially, the diocese is recovering, [Bishop] Jenkins said. "Funding has not been totally reinstated, but mostly. There are still some congregations withholding funds, but the number has decreased." Louisiana has not been impacted as severely as some other states where congregations have left the church, Jenkins said.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Bishop commits bank fraud - The News-Press

An Episcopal bishop accused of defrauding a Fort Myers bank — and spending some of the money on a fancy car, expensive clothes and jewelry — pleaded guilty Friday to conspiracy and money laundering.

Bishop Michael Wayne Lewis of Tampa — who is not affiliated with the Episcopal Church of the United States — told U.S. Magistrate Judge Douglas N. Frazier he directed the conspiracy that concocted phony financial data to get $3.8 million in loans from AmSouth Bank. [emphasis added]

“We used collateral that was not there,” Lewis said. “I think it started in July 2003 and continued to December 2003.”
Royal we? And why does the article open by calling Lewis an Episcopal bishop and then go a paragraph before pointing out (clarifying would be too strong a word) he's not.

What he is:

At the time of his arrest, Lewis was minister of Harvest Fellowship Bible Church, which has locations in Tampa, Riverview and Ocala.

He also operated numerous other church organizations, including Word of Faith Assembly in Christ, Judah Elementary Christian School and Little Eagle’s Pre-School.

The phony loans were discovered after the pastor of Firehouse Christian Center in Tampa learned Lewis took a loan out at AmSouth Bank in his church’s name without his knowledge.

Investigators discovered a pattern of fraud involving inflated estimates of Lewis’ church membership, his church’s income and financial status.
Hmmm. Lots of legitimate churches inflate their membership numbers for various reasons. Few err on the side of caution. Perhaps, if they are taking out a loan, they should be more careful.

Episcopal Bishop saves Jewish community center - The Jewish Journal Of Greater LA

Elizabeth's "via media"

An explanation of why we Episcopalians are not Protestants, and certainly not Calvinists.

Anglicans are uncommonly civil - The Emirates Economist

Anglican primates uphold unity in response to Windsor Report - Episcopal News Service

My subtitle: Anglicans are uncommonly civil

Episcopalians are the American branch of the worldwide Anglican communion. They abandoned the name Anglican following the American War of Independence and kept the name Episcopal with the successful conclusion of that conflict. But they've never stopped being Anglican even when it got a bit difficult when the Americans lacked a bishop -- bishops can only be made by other bishops. But that obstacle was eventually worked around and the rift with the UK church healed.

More recently, the Episcopalians got themselves in hot water with the Anglican communion by consecrating an openly gay bishop. Canadian Anglicans also crossed a line regarding blessing of gay marriages.

I'm pretty sure that would not have caused a stir except that third world members had strong objections. If it was up to the English curch and the Archbishop of Canterbury I have a feeling that the attitude toward the American and Canadians churches would be to-each-his-own. There'd be no membership revolt in the UK because there aren't many members left in the church, just income-generating real estate to create the appearance of lively church.

The communion has let the Americans (and Canadians) know that they're not happy with their actions, and that it was inconsiderate of them not to consider the effect of their actions on the worldwide communion.

Which brings me to my subtitle, uncommonly civil. Here's what an advisory board of five primates (bishops) came up with:

The 5-page communiqué requested that the U.S. Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada "voluntarily withdraw" their representatives from the Anglican Consultative Council, the Communion's main legislative body, until the next Lambeth Conference in 2008. It reaffirmed the importance of provincial autonomy and interdependence, and committed the primates to the pastoral support and care of homosexuals. It also committed the primates to a promise "neither to encourage nor to initiate cross-boundary interventions," calling on Williams to appoint a panel that could supervise the "adequacy of pastoral provisions" for those in theological dispute with their bishop or province.

Carnley described the weeklong meeting as "a very agreeable process .... because it was clear that we were all of a common mind." He emphasized that the North American churches are not being asked to withdraw from the Anglican Communion. "We see the need for a listening process and we think that the withdrawal of members from the ACC will create a space ... to allow the listening process to happen," he said. "Just as importantly we have called on the primates to cease cross-boundary intervention. The intervention of bishops from outside that church is unhelpful and we have committed ourselves unanimously."

Probably I'm only reflecting my ignorance, but is there any other organization which would handle a dispute this way? And where else except in the Anglican communion would this be the response:

In an interview with ENS following the meeting, Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold said that "the week had been difficult but we have emerged in a very good place."

"The report seeks to make space in a number of areas for different perspectives to be held with integrity," he added. "My sense is that the communiqué ... asks for us to slow down a bit, lets us make room for one another, let us reason together, lets us explore more deeply some of the underlying issues that are represented by some of the actions that have recently occurred."

One thing that has become very clear through listening to the voices of other primates, Griswold added, is "how very different the contexts are in which we seek to articulate the Gospel and be faithful to the ministry of Christ."

[Orginally posted on The Emirates Economist, 26 Feb 2005.]

Peace Pope II?


1. The current pope choose the name Benedict XVI.

2. Benedict XV was pope before, during, and the World War I. He is known as the Peace Pope. He tried and failed to prevent war from breaking out. He tried and failed to prevent the victors from imposing a grossly punative peace settlement on the Germans.

3. Many believe the WWII was a direct result of the peace. (The economist John Maynard Keynes predicted the peace would lead to war. See his compelling argument, The Economic Consequences of the Peace. (The success of the Marshall Plan seems to prove the argument.)

4. The lives the last two popes were defined by WWII. They passed through WWII as teenagers and young adults. One was a Pole, the other a German and a member of the Nazi Youth.

5. These two became close confidants and friends. I heard someone say they completed each other.

6. It is easy to imagine that the source of John Paul's ministry to young people was born in the harsh reality of his youth, when life as he knew it was dreadfully changed. It seems worth speculating that Benedict has chosen the name because he wants to focus on the collective sin of war and not upon the conservative standards of individual morality with which he is associated. John Paul focused upon individual sin and what he believed it means to be a good person. Perhaps it is time now to go back to some unfinished business dealing with collective sin of society.

7. The Catholic Church would like to have more influence for good than it has in preventing war and in fostering peaceful and durable solutions to conflict around the globe. These persist.

8. Only Nixon can go to China. Perhaps only Ratzinger can revisit the tragedies of the WWI and WWII and find something in them that will plant the seed of peace in Europe (where it is still very much needed). And to build from there.

The name Benedict doesn't sound friendly, but I take it Benedict means good word. Things aren't always what they seem. Last night over a glass of wine we were trying to work out the literal meaning of Ratzinger. It was suggested it means advisor from Munich. Sounds plausible.

UPDATE: I'll gather other Episcopalians' thoughts on our new pope here as I encounter them. (1) The Riverstone Journal

Christ Church approves separation - Episcopal Diocese of Kansas

A large conservative congregation in the Diocese of Kansas leaves the Episcopal Church.

April 17, 2005

The Episcopal Diocese of Kansas and the rector and vestry of Christ Episcopal Church of Overland Park, Kansas, jointly announce that Christ Church parishioners have approved an agreement to separate from the diocese and the national Episcopal Church.
Key elements of the agreement include:
  • Christ Church will claim no association with the diocese or the national Episcopal Church.
  • The diocese is releasing Christ Episcopal Church from any claims the diocese may have for unpaid financial commitments required by diocesan policy; in property owned or possessed by the parish; and in the Christ Church Endowment Fund. Christ Episcopal Church is releasing the diocese from any claims it may have against the diocese.
  • A new entity, "Christ Church," will assume the current parish's mortgage debt and will purchase its assets with payments over time to the diocese.
I suppose this could serve as a model for other divorces between large conservative congregations and their dioceses which might arise. Several candidates come to mind. (Note to non-Episcopalians: In the Episcopal Church the diocese owns the property, not the church/congregation. This is true even though generally it is the congregation that contributed the bulk of the investment. At the same time, the "wider church" does contribute substantially to a congregation's "founding and formation.")

Under a deal not yet finalized, the renamed Christ Church Anglican would assume the current parish's debt of $1.7 million and pay the diocese $1 million over the next 10 years. (AP)
It is unlikely that dioceses that lose large congregations will have much use for the property they would acquire in the divorce; the likely best use for the property is for it to continue to be used by the congregation. It appears that in the Kansas case (1) the diocese held the upperhand in law, and (2) any animosity between the parties they may have existed did not prevent them from finding an efficient transfer of property.

It would appear, too, that Christ Church and the Kansas Diocese were a decidedly odd couple:

In 2002 Bp. Smalley announces policy of permitting the blessing of same gender unions and of opposite gender unions in which a traditional legal marriage would result in loss of benefits or other financial hardships. Allows local option with consent of Vestry and clergy in charge, with final approval of process and liturgy by the Bishop.

Search for Ninth Bishop of Kansas begins in May of 2002. 14,057 baptized members and 12,279 communicants (unofficial totals).
(Diocesan History)

ExampleBishop Dean E. Wolfe said "this is a sad and difficult time for the Diocese of Kansas because we are losing an important part of the body."

According to the AP story, Christ Church has over 2000 members. 2000 out of a total diocesan membership of 14,057 is a big loss.

Episcopal priest who turned Druid changes his mind (reg. req.)

Followup on the fickle faithful:

Philadelphia Inquirer - Apr 15, 2005
In a rapid change of heart, a local Episcopal priest is abandoning Druid spirituality - a decision made one day after it was reported that he had renounced his ...
Should the church let him renounce his renunciation? Isn't the test this: knowing what we know now, should a bishop allow this layperson (which is what he made himself) to go to seminary with the view to ordination?

I'd say no, but then I have a hard time saying "grace" without prefacing it with "cheap." But I'm theologically challenged I'm afraid.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Benedict XVI , liberal democracy and sex - ProfessorBainbridge

If you can get past the ascerbic tone you'll find learn some things in Professor Bainbridge's post.

Where to begin? How about with Ratzinger's views on Catholic participation in liberal democracy. Here's what Catholics for Democracy said about Ratzinger's intervention in the 2004 US election:

This great news was reported in the "Signs of the Times" in the most recent issue of America Magazine. Spread the word!

"...Two U.S. bishops, Archbishop Raymond L. Burke of St. Louis and Bishop Michael J. Sheridan of Colorado Springs, recently said that Catholics who knowingly vote for pro-abortion politicians would be committing a grave sin.

[In contrast,] Cardinal Ratzinger’s note underlined the principles involved for the Catholic voter. “A Catholic would be guilty of formal cooperation in evil, and so unworthy to present himself for holy Communion, if he were to deliberately vote for a candidate precisely because of the candidate’s permissive stand on abortion and/or euthanasia,” Cardinal Ratzinger wrote. “When a Catholic does not share a candidate’s stand in favor of abortion and/or euthanasia, but votes for that candidate for other reasons, it is considered remote material cooperation, which can be permitted in the presence of proportionate reasons,” he said."
As for the American model of liberal democracy, Cardinal Ratzinger has:

... described the American model of church-state relations as more hospitable to religious truth and institutions than European models. ...

Cardinal Ratzinger looks at most European nations -- he could have mentioned Canada as well -- and he sees the worst possible combination of historical residues of Christian establishment and utter indifference to Christian faith; a post-Christian world that would not even allow a reference to the Christian heritage of Europe in the Constitution of the European Union.

By comparison, the American situation looks relatively healthy: higher rates of church attendance and professions of faith ....
Does this sound like someone who will, as Sullivan claims, wage "war on" "modern liberal democracy"? Of course not. Granted, Ratzinger is no fan of extending American-style democracy to the inner workings of the Catholic Church or incorporating American-style moral relativism into the teachings of the Church. Yet, in the political sphere, the new Pope demonstrably recognizes that there is legitimate room for disagreement on how one operationalizes all but the most basic Church teachings, such as the gospel of life, and that even there Catholics may in appropriate instances even vote for politicians who do not share the Church's view on that central tenet.

Episcopal bishop sees priest flap as part of broader fight - AP Connecticut

Smith says what is happening in Connecticut mirrors a strategy outlined in a widely distributed memo from a conservative priest in Pennsylvania.

The memo, released last year, details a plan for conservative parishes to challenge the authority of Episcopal bishops with the ultimate goal of realigning Anglicanism in North America.

"What has happened here certainly is similar to the memo," Smith said. "I do believe it's about power."

But the Rev. Christopher Leighton of St. Paul's Church in Darien, one of the six priests facing removal, says the parishes are not following a playbook and do not intend to split with the Connecticut diocese or the Episcopal Church.

"We're not threatening to leave," he said. "We're threatening to stay, and that's very frustrating for Andrew Smith because he's trying to get rid of us. The confrontation is over doctrine. We've always been loyal to him, no matter what he says. My parish is going to remain part of the Anglican Communion."

The six said their meeting with Smith was not what they expected.

"We were hopeful of an atmosphere in which true negotiations might take place," they said in a written statement. "Instead, we walked into a trap, a brutal and long meeting in which Bishop Smith attempted to coerce us individually into an admission that we had abandoned communion."

The six have sought since last May to report to a different bishop. Smith says he would have to agree to the bishop and retain some control over the parishes, but that's not acceptable to the six. They also cut financial ties with the diocese and requested control over who is ordained.

"They asked for a number of changes in church structure and policy that I simply cannot do," Smith said.

The diocese took the issue to the Standing Committee, a group of elected clergy members and lay people that acts as an advisory panel for the bishop. The committee concluded March 29 that the six priests were acting out of communion with church canons.

Smith says his problem is with the priests' refusal to recognize his authority, not their opposition to Robinson.

"There's a sense that I'm trying to remove them to quiet them, and that's absolutely not the case," Smith said.

But Leighton contends the six are being silenced.

"We are being obedient to God, and as much as we possibly can, we're supporting" Smith, Leighton said. "As long as Andrew Smith makes decisions that lead to the health and well-being of the church, we will support him, but when he makes decisions that are bad for the health of the church, we can't support him."
Emphasis added.

It appears that everyone involved is into strategizing. Bishop Smith is correct in the assessment that this is about power. It's about each side getting their way and not about the common good.

Imagine what would happen if all involved were a little more awed and terrified by the concept "whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven." (Matthew 16:19.) Do those words mean if we believe we are right then we get to play God's role? They can't mean that. Perhaps the words are a bit of a joke on us. If we are not God, it's because we are fallible. We are not always right.

Fortunately, as long as we are divided in what we believe is right there's no danger that we will have the same powers as God to mete out rewards and punishments. But we can still be foolish and inhibit the coming of the kingdom of God.

This provides an interesting look at Matthew 16:19. Evidently it is about church polity. But how did it get there? Was it inserted by God or by someone who wanted to claim he had God's endorsement?
Hubris and prayer

4am - I am driven out of bed by thoughts of my week of hubris. Confidence in my abilities to judge right and wrong led me into errors. Reflection - Why? And what am I going to do about it?

The imam gives the first call to prayer of this new day.

I hear a hear a door open and close. My neighbor below, the one who helped me get the groceries upstairs, is heading off to prayer. I hear the purr of his small car as it pulls away.

A wry smile crosses my lips.

The prayers broadcast from the minaret come and go. Sometimes insistent. Sometimes humbly. Time to return to bed. Tomorrow is a new day.

Pope Benedict XV - The Papal Library

BBC said the choice of name is a way for a new Pope to signal his intentions to continue the work of a former pope.

April 18 statement by the Rt. Rev. Andrew D. Smith - titusonline

For the past 11 months, six rectors of the Diocese of Connecticut, together with the leadership of the parishes they serve, have refused to accept their relationship with their bishop.

In the past year I have offered to arrange for another bishop to be their pastor and parish visitor. To date they have refused that offer.

Rather, the priests have demanded that the historic traditions we live by as a Church be changed for them and the congregations they serve. Their requirements would break the ties they have to the Diocese of Connecticut. What they expect I cannot grant, because of the responsibilities I have for all of the people and parishes of the diocese.

What the world needs now is trade, sweet trade - Eclectic Econoclast

It doesn't need a Pope opposed to globalization. As the Eclectic Econoclast puts it so devilishly symmetrically:
Globalization has done more in two decades to alleviate poverty in developing countries than organized religions did in the previous two centuries. Why is it okay for the Catholic church to have expanded its influence around the world, and now argue that globalization is evil?

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Women leaders need to strike right balance - Khaleej Times Online

DUBAI - Education undoubtedly plays a key role in developing women leaders globally, but to excel in the local UAE market, women leaders must also maintain a balance between careers and family and respect business ethics, voiced prominent national and exaptraite women participating in the 'Women, Education and Achievement' seminar hosted in Dubai on Sunday.
It is an empirical question whether "to excel" at work "women leaders must also maintain a balance between careers and family." There may be some complementarities between career and family and these should reveal themselves in the data. For now, though, I remain inclined to believe that firms know what is in their best interest, and what firms appear to believe is that family demands on an employee's time take away from productivity at work.

The seminar organised by the Australian Embassy in cooperation with Sultan Al Owais Cultural Foundation featured two Australian senior visiting academics, Professor Helen Grant, Vice-Chancellor, Charles Darwin University, Wendy McCarthy, Chancellor of University of Canberra, and two prominent UAE women leaders - Dr Fatima Al Sayegh, Lecturer in history, UAE University, and Latifa Fikri, Sales and Business Development Manager, Etisalat, Dubai.
It is interesting what the article does not say. It does not say that conferees said business should be more open to hiring women despite business perceptions that women have competing family pressures that men are likely avoiding. (Such as childbearing, childrearing, caring for aging parents, and housework. There is substantial empirical evidence that women, even if they work, do more of these things than men do. And feminist groups cite this evidence with regularity.)

Perhaps this value judgment - that businesses should treat men and women equally - went unstated (if it did) because these four women realize that they each work for businesses which are protected by the government. Businesses that are not protected from competition will be driven out of business if they act contrary to profit maximizing behavior.

If government places a value on women participating in the labor market, then government needs to do more than require business to do so. Government will need to subsidize female employment. Unless of course females and males are perfect substitutes in production. However, in this case the firms will voluntarily treat them equally. Unless of course the firms are ignorant of what is good for them. Perhaps, then, the burden on government is to disabuse firms of their ignorance by providing them with that evidence.

Druid-Anglican Communion

Archbishop of Canterbury in his Druid headgear
Archbishop of Canterbury (ap Aneuri)
in Druid dress (2002 photo)

A few days ago The NVCM brought you the news that an Episcopal priest had taken up the Druid name OakWyse, disavowed his priestly vows and joined the Druids. Further, his wife - also an Episcopal priest - was the subject of some controversy because she continued to serve actively as a parish priest in the ECUSA despite her occasional use of Druid elements in services.
It seems that, with respect to Druids, she at least, is in line with the practice of the leader of the Anglican world wide communion:

Monday, 5 August, 2002, 13:48 GMT 14:48 UK
Archbishop becomes druid

+The new Archbishop of Canterbury has been inducted as a druid in a centuries-old Celtic ceremony.
+Dr Rowan Williams, the current Archbishop of Wales, said that he had been "saddened" by the misrepresentations about the ceremony, which sparked concern about pagan links. "Some people have reached the wrong conclusion about the ceremony," he said. "If people had actually looked at the words of the hymns and text used they would have seen a very Christian service."

What is the Gorsedd of Bards?
Created in 1792 as celebration of Welsh and Celtic heritage
Gorsedd is Welsh for high seat
Rituals look back to era when Celtic druids - religious professionals - led society
Compared to English honours system
Currently 1,300 members
Dr Williams became a member of the highest of the three orders of the Gorsedd of Bards - a 1,300-strong circle of Wales' key cultural contributors - in a ceremony at this year's National Eisteddfod celebration of Welsh culture in St Davids, Pembrokeshire.

+The ceremony, which took more than an hour, started with a procession from the main Eisteddfod Pavilion to a circle of stones on the edge of the site. Dr Williams, 52, wore a long white cloak without any headdress as he arrived at the back of the procession.

'Paganism' row

The actual ceremony started with a trumpet fanfare and the partial sheathing and unsheathing of a 6ft 6ins sword. Hymns and poems were said in Welsh before around 50 people were made druids.

What will other people think he is doing?

Dr Williams was given the Bardic name of ap Aneuri, which he chose partly after a sixth century Welsh poet and partly after Aneurin Bevan, one of his personal heroes and the architect of the National Health Service. [continue reading]
Sometimes, Dr. Williams, leadership means avoiding needless controversy for the great good of the organization (r.e., the Kingdom of God). You will have to admit, I think, you did this primarily for your own selfish reasons. (Take a tip from the example of Larry Summers, president of Harvard.)

Sidebar: Regarding the gay bishop row. Church politics makes strange bedfellows. I hope the conservative in the Episcopal Church know who they are allied with. It seems clear theirs is a temporary marriage of convenience, and not to death do us part.

My thanks go to reader BF for digging up this blast from the past.

In Conn. diocese if you don't pay you don't stay -

"A spokesperson for the archdiocese says the priests have failed to meet their financial obligation to the diocese."

Wow. I did not realize that in the Episcopal Church membership has its obligations. I thought grace was unlimited and a parish could take without giving back to the diocese.

UPDATE from The Advocate: "Diocesan officials contend that the six parishes have failed to meet their financial obligation to the diocese and are asking for control over who is ordained, which Smith is not willing to cede. The diocese took the issue to the Standing Committee, a group of elected clergy members and laypeople that acts as an advisory panel for the bishop. The committee concluded March 29 that the six priests were acting out of communion with church canons."

The Advocate report also states that their bishop is threatening to "defrock" them. Is that what they are threatened with? I don't think so.

Oh, Allah, make me live as a “miskeen” (very poor), die as a “miskeen” and judge me among masakeen in the hereafter

When it was my turn, everyone, including the Native American instructor, was expecting a fight. Instead, I apologized.

Here is what I said then, and still believe now: We have millions of guest workers in Saudi Arabia. Many are abused, but not all. Some come to steal, sell sex and drugs and work without permits. Most are good humans, who came to make an honest living, raise kids, take care of parents, and save for a head start on their return.

Those decent, hardworking people deserve our utmost respect, admiration and compassion. They are better people than we are, because in Islam the poorer are the most fortunate in Allah’s grace. The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) used to pray: Oh, Allah, make me live as a “miskeen” (very poor), die as a “miskeen” and judge me among masakeen in the hereafter.

(The author is Dr. Khaled Batarfi.)

Here's what I believe. God gave no race special treatment. Every race includes its God's plenty of decent human beings. And God's hope is that they will join him in bringing about his kingdom on earth. Khaled included.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Church acoustics and the influence of occupancy

News you can use. Otherwise, could lead to some misunderstandings.

Church of the Day - April 16, 2005

St. Martin's Church, Briarlea, Northern Saskatchewan

Posted by Hello

I anticipate I will be using more of Mary's photos for future "Church of the Days".

My cloister walk home today

Walking back home from work this evening the temperature and humidity were perfect.

The evening prayers were being sung and broadcast from the campus mosque. (Built and given to the university by Bin Laden Construction.)

The imam's voice was beautiful. The men's response, amen, was more so. Whatever religion you are from you know: this is of God.

The imam lives near me on campus. He commutes over to the mosque several times a day - the prayer schedule does not allow him to get 8 hours of sleep in a row.

For some prayers some days I imagine he's the only one there. But if we're awake we hear him. And, yes, sometimes some of us get awakened by him. More often though we're awakened by his free range rooster. Livestock aren't allowed in the city limits, but the imam's rooster has an exemption.

Manitoba Margarine - The Eclectic Econoclast

"The government ... wants to repeal the [Margarine Act] because they believe people can distinguish the difference by now [between oleo and butter]."

Except for Unitarians. In the nuclear family into which I was born we have a joke. Mom likes to have I Can't Believe It's Not Butter on the dinner table along with butter. When we gather for a reunion dinner my sister's role is to say "please pass the Unitarian butter."

After their cradle Episcopalians were all grown and out of the house Mom and Dad converted to Unitanianism. More recently they've become a two-faiths couple. Dad's still with the UUs. Mom's joined the Quakers.

Planned Parenthood Keynoter - News from Agape Press

He also stated that America treats everyone wrong -- except straight white men.

"I am so grateful for this experience of being gay. It has taught me so much," the bishop said. "It's my little window into what it must be like to be a woman, to be a person in a wheelchair, to be a person of color."
-Bishop Gene Robinson, keynote address to Planned Parenthood

1. Bishop Robinson's comments are contrary to the spirit of reconciliation that Episcopal Church is seeking with the Anglican Communion. He has chosen not to censor himself when he feels he has the truth. I fail to see how this distinguishes him from his opponents. Fair well Episcopal Church.

2. I guess he has explained why the primary subjects of ridicule on network television all have one thing in common. I'm thinking of Homer Simpson, so on. I love Homer. He helps me laugh at myself. But white men are the primary target of ridicule. I guess the cognitive dissonance I'm experiencing can be reconciled this way. Those who are not victims of the system are the ones we can make fun of.

3. I'm a healthy straight white guy. So I can only imagine how it would feel to be black or female or in a wheelchair and be compared to a gay white guy. There are some parallels, perhaps, but I am not aware that it has been resolved whether you have a choice about being gay.

That said, as a closet libertarian I believe that government should not be used to persecute homosexuals. Whether they have a choice in the matter is immaterial.

Book recommendation: I still remember reading Black Like Me as a young person. It's a message that stays with you for a lifetime. It's a little window into what it's like from the other side.

Catholics' Wish for Women Priests - Newswise

Newswise — Will the next pope allow women to become priests? An Associated Press poll found that 60 percent of U.S. Catholics think women should be ordained, and a religious studies professor at St. Lawrence University in Canton, New York, says that there are signs that the Catholic Church may be headed that way.

According to Associate Professor of Religious Studies Kelley A. Raab, author of the book "When Women Become Priests: The Catholic Women's Ordination Debate" (2000, Columbia University Press), women have been gaining "symbolic power" in the church, which may eventually lead to real power.
The Episcopal Church, in my opinion, still has not done enough to make female clergy complete members of the clergy. But the Catholic Church turns its back on half of the qualified talent pool in its pews. It has to dig deeper into the male pool. It's no wonder that it has more than it's share of problem priests.

You reap what you sow.

Friday, April 15, 2005

William F. Buckley Jr. on Connecticut and Gays

The quarrel, in Connecticut, continued in another quarter. The Episcopal bishop of Connecticut has himself authorized gay marriage and has supported the ordination of the gay bishop in New Hampshire. Six Episcopal pastors flatly refused to follow their bishop’s instruction, and he has retaliated by threatening to remove from them their church keys. The question of the elasticity of orthodoxy will be referred to the annual global meeting of Anglican leaders, but it isn’t certain what is that council’s authority, or by exactly what doctrines it should be guided.

Meeting the neighbors

I'm a bit slow, so I just now figured out why I was getting some many referrals to Church Man from Cal Williams' Blog. The reason is that Cal is also a member of the Blogging Episcopalians (list) webring. When visitors to Cal click next Blogging Episcopalian they end up here. If you visit Church Man (#85) and click previous Blogging Episcopalian you end up at Cal Williams' (#84).

I'd spent some time trying to figure out why people who visited Cal's, then visited me. It explains a lot that these are essentially random visits, conditional on having arrived at Cal's to begin with, and conditional on Cal taking now active role in selecting his neighbor on the next button.

Cal describes his blog thusly: "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. Prov. 3:5-6."

Greetings, Cal. "Today is the day the Lord hath made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it."

Next in the ring after Church Man is Robert Whalley (#86) who describes himself thusly: "formerly from California ... surprised and happy to be a university chaplain in Melbourne, Australia."

Greetings, Robert. I find myself surprised and happy to be a university professor in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates.

Moving into a new neighborhood is always unsettling. I trust my neighbors and I will get along just fine. Thus far there are 87 blogs in the neighborhood. It will take me a while to visit them all.

Viagra made kosher: Eclectic Econoclast

Six Episcopal priests face ouster today - Bristol Press

The priests and their congregations, acting through the social action arm of the conservative American Anglican Council, have arranged for priests from as far away as Texas and South Carolina to come in and pinch-hit for them, said Rev. Gilbert Wilkes of Christ and the Epiphany Church in East Haven and another threatened priest, the Rev. Donald Helmandollar of Trinity Church in Bristol.

OakWyse leaves Episcopal Church to lead Druid order - Philadelphia Inquirer

DOWNINGTOWN, Pa. (AP) — An Episcopal priest has renounced his ordination to lead a Druid order. W. William Melnyk, former rector of St. James Episcopal Church in Downingtown, called his decision to become a Druid priest "a joyous occasion." Melnyk has formed the Llynhydd Grove of the Druid Order of the Yew, which he will lead under his Druid name, OakWyse.
+Melnyk said Thursday he had performed a wedding last weekend, and expects "a couple dozen" people to attend the group's first meeting May 14 in Ridley Creek State Park.
+Melnyk resigned in November as rector of St. James. A parish board asked him to step down after his involvement in Druidism — and that of his wife, the Rev. Glyn Ruppe-Melnyk, also an Episcopal priest — came to light in October.
+The Episcopal Church's women's ministry had listed two of the couple's Druidic liturgies on its Web site for possible use in developing feminist liturgies, prompting accusations that the church was promoting pagan rites. The church denied it, and the couple said they had been trying to reach out to Christians on the margins of the faith.
+Bishop Charles E. Bennison, leader of the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania, decided in November not to suspend them, saying they had participated only in "exploratory thinking" with Druid circles as students of pre-Christian Celtic spirituality. After a three-month "discernment process," however, Melnyk renounced his ordination in a Feb. 28 letter, and Bennison said diocesan officials approved the decision on March 22. "It's a sadness for the church," Bennison said.
+Ruppe-Melnyk has retained her post as rector of St. Francis-in-the-Fields Episcopal Church in Malvern, with her church's support. "I am a Christian and have always been a Christian and I do not intend to leave the church," Ruppe-Melnyk said. But she said she supports her husband's decision to "exercise his ministry in an interfaith context."
+Bob Bruhin, development director of the Delaware Valley Pagan Network, described modern Druidism as a New Age religion whose followers worship the sun, nature and trees and explore traditional Celtic beliefs.
UPDATE: For context-sensitive ads on this subject see the google ads here.

Episcopal leaders withdraw from Anglican conference over gay row - Advocate

the Episcopal Church will provide the June meeting with a formal theological explanation of its pro-gay policies. Also, U.S. representatives will be present--but only to observe discussions and "be available for conversation and consultation," the statement said. The Anglican Church of Canada, which has also allowed same-sex blessings, was similarly asked to withdraw its delegates. The Canadians' national council will decide what to do in May. (AP)

That's not much time to come up with a theological explanation. If by theological you mean the kind of reasoning that goes into a change in canon law. Recall that of the bishops who voted against Robinson, many explained their vote as a vote not against the man but in favor of the principle that if we are to allow gays we first need to go through the canon law process. (Others were convinced both that canon law did not need to be changed and that it should always be respected.)

Bishops who voted for Robinson argued that there is a higher law than canon law. And that usually canon law is consistent with that higher law, but in the particulars of this case canon law was not. They were led to vote as they did based upon their experence getting to know Robinson and his diocese -- that is the people who are the diocese. And they were led to vote as they by their personal theology which includes the universal admonition to love.

I happen to be torn between these two positions, and to know bishops of both kinds and to admire them. And the reality is that most bishops were torn between these two positions, but when the time to vote came up they had to choose which mantle to take up.

The results of that vote so roiled the church that it appears to me that it simply cannot give "a formal theological explanation of its pro-gay policies" at this time. Certainly not by June.

Individuals may know their own mind, but the church does not know its mind. Yet.

A.Word.A.Day -- latitudinarian

latitudinarian (lat-i-TOOD-n-ar-ee-uhn, -TYOOD-) adjective

Holding broad and tolerant views, especially on matters of religion.


One who is broadminded and tolerant, especially concerning religion.

[From Latin latitudin-, stem of latitudo (breadth), from latus (broad).]

Today's word in Visual Thesaurus:

"[Lord Cornbury's] Whig rivals were more libertarian in their politics and tended to be more latitudinarian in their religion and morals." Alan Taylor; Devil in a Blue Dress; The New Republic (Washington, DC); Aug 3, 1998.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Condoms, Uganda and the Pope

"Had the Pope signed on to condom distribution in Africa, he would have done nothing to reduce the spread of Aids, but he would have done a lot to advance the further artificial separation of sex, in Africa and beyond." – Mark Steyn (via Hispanic Pundit)

Economic theory gives no clear prediction. Condoms lower the chances of transmission of VD from any one encounter, but they also change incentives resulting in more encounters and multiple partners. And even if a particular individual's number of encounters and partners does not change, in all likelihood their partner is on average likely to have had more encounters and more partners than before the promotion of condoms.

For more see Philipson and Posner, Private Choices and Public Health: The AIDS Epidemic in an Economic Perspective.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Dispute Continues in Episcopal Church - WFSB

Six retired bishops, who also are members of the American Anglican Council, yesterday issued a statement harshly criticizing the proposed discipline. They said Smith is trying to impose unity by coercion.

A spokeswoman for the Connecticut Diocese says the priests face removal not because of their views on Robinson but because they have not been willing to meet with Smith to work out a solution.
Until proven otherwise, I willing to assume the spokeswoman speaks the truth. Even so, when you reach the point of removing priests the odds are that Smith shares some of the blame for the impass.

Church of the day: El Alto, Bolivia - NYT

Monday, April 11, 2005

Religious bodies listed by Theology - ARDA

ARDA = The American Religion Data Archive.

Source of classification. Located at the Glenmary Research Center website: Religious Congregations & Membership 2000 (c) 2002 by Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies (ASARB).

Most Complete Data on U.S. Religious Affiliation Released
149 religious bodies, including Muslims, report 140 million adherents
Nashville, Tenn. (Sept. 20, 2002)—The most complete data available on U.S. religious affiliation was released Sept. 20, 2002, at a press conference preceding the Religion Newswriters Association’s national conference ..., published by the Glenmary Research Center (Nashville, Tenn.), is the latest in a series of every-10-year studies conducted at the same time as the U.S. census. For the first time, data on Muslims and other religious bodies beyond the Judeo-Christian tradition is included, although on a limited basis.

... Like all previous reports in this series of studies on U.S. religious affiliation, data are reported by region, state and county. The last report, Churches and Church Membership in the United States: 1990, included data on 133 church/congregational groupings. The 2000 study and its publication are made possible by a grant from the Lilly Endowment. Inc.

I note that some members of the Lutheran Family of denominations fall into the Evangelical Protestant category and others in the Mainline category.

brings together statisticians and researchers who collect and publish information about denominations and other faith groups in the United States. Every ten years, ASARB compiles the Religious Congregations Membership Study, providing the most comprehensive portrait of religious affiliation throughout the United States.
Mission Field Counties as identified by Glenmary Research Center.

Cardinal Law, forgiven for abuse of power and still powerful - NYT

Churches should be able to rely on the word of a cardinal or bishop. They should not have to worry whether the priest that is being recommended by his or her bishop has a hidden record as a pedophile or a womanizer or a crook. They should not have to worry that they are being sold a problem priest.

Unfortunately, it is all too common for Bishops to report only the good side of priest and not his or her shortcomings. And the motive is: It's the coward's way out to solve HR problems by finding the problem employee a new job outside the organization.

It is a sin not to forgive Cardinal Law.

It is a sin to retain him in a place of honor and power.

The message to other bishops is, for you:
  • There are no consequences for solving HR problems by making them someone else's problem.
  • There are no consequences for doing little to help problem priests reform.
Search terms: Cardinal Bernard Law, novemdiales Mass, archpriest of the Basilica of St. Mary Major, Archdiocese of Boston, sexual abuse, court records, Archbishop Sean P. O'Malley.

My Shabbat Dinner - The IgNoble Experiment

But when you get involved, you start understanding the beauty of the rituals, the small things. The host was an Orthodox Jew, and his phone was turned off. At my own home, we cannot get a minute of peace because of the endless telemarketing phone calls or "Sorry, wrong numbers", or friends and family calling just as we're about to eat. During the dinner, I was struck by the wonderful silence. We were undisturbed. And the beautiful candlelight behind us. And the mutual good will of friends gathered together.

And the gratitude for the food on the table, the ability to appreciate what we have. Isn't that the value which I always say is missing from the contemporary society?

Is the religion necessary to get all of the above? Probably not. But can religion be fun? Yes.
This person links to me at Emirates Economist. I don't why. But I do like this posting (snippet above). It's beautiful.

Ownership v. possession: there is a difference - The Emirates Economist

In my one persona, I am Churchman. In my other, I write The Emirates Economist from the perspective of an economist working in academia in the United Arab Emirates.

Over at The Emirates Economist, I've just given a quickly dashed out thesis of why competition within organizations can be good for the organization.

The analysis applies equally well to churches, universities and other businesses.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Spong's wishful thinking - Notes from a Byzantine-Rite Calvinist

Spong: "I believe that history will, therefore, record this pontiff as a contributor to the death of Christianity, since he allowed it to sink more and more into the pious irrelevance that characterizes it today."

Benne: "the progressive and revisionist wing of Christianity is disappearing," Benne said. "Where they predominate, denominations lose members."

Benne continues: "When in the history of the world did 4 million people ever show up anywhere voluntarily?" asked Benne. "Who on the other hand would come for a funeral of Bishop (John Shelby) Spong?"

Book of Daniel NBC TV Series - TV Tome

"The network has ordered a pilot to a darkly comedic one-hour drama about an Episcopalian minister and father."

Norwegian Seaman's Mission, Dubai Posted by Hello

Bush v. Kerry: noneconomic factors - New Economist

The Blue states consistently lead the Red states in economic well-being. Although the gap between them narrowed between 1989 and 2001, it widened during Bush’s first term in office according to the money income measure, which fell more rapidly in the Red states than the Blue states.
Source: Economic Well-Being in US Regions and the Red and Blue States (PDF), Levy Economics Institute.
Except in Ohio. Witness steel tariffs, close vote.

Episcopal bishop suffragan will quit - Richmond Times Dispatch

[Originally published at The Emirates Economist, 3/7/2005]

I recently wrote that Anglicans (Episcopalians) are very civil. That doesn't include these two:

Last fall, an in-house committee report, which contained 66 recommendations, said the diocese was one of the most dysfunctional in the country. The report was highly critical of Bane's leadership style. The report called the relationship between Bane and Gallagher disastrous. "The degree to which the parties disagree is legendary," it said. "Until very recently, communications between them were non-existent; the suffragan was limited in when and where she could speak and what she could speak about." The report further stated that no specific duties were assigned to Gallagher and that she "has displayed an explosive temperament under a variety of circumstances." Gallagher was elected bishop suffragan Oct. 13, 2001, and was consecrated April 6, 2002. A member of the Cherokee nation, she is the first American Indian female bishop in the Episcopal Church, the first indigenous female bishop in the worldwide Anglican Communion and the first female bishop in the three Episcopal dioceses in Virginia.
Bane and Gallagher both need to grow up. She's been bought out by her diocese. Buyouts really gripe me -- a reward for being incompetent and destructive. It's a ransom paid for the diocese to get back to a normal life. The Episcopal Church needs a way to fire these sorts of bishops.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Strikingly ineffective bishop prepares for tension at diocese's annual meeting - Virginia Pilot

[Originally published at The Emirates Economist, 02/09/2005]

In the fall, a diocesan report faulted Bane as a strikingly ineffective leader and found major financial mismanagement and a near-total absence of accountability in the diocese's operations.

Many are calling for the resignation of Bishop Bane (Diocese of Southern Virginia, Episcopal USA). In the Episcopal Church, the employment relationship* between the bishop and the diocese can only be severed by the bishop. (There is a mandatory retirement age for bishops; an illustration that the church is not subject to federal age discrimination law.) When the bishop is not otherwise inclined to resign, incentives may be created; he or she may be bought out or opponents may make the bishop's life uncomfortable. Buyouts are not uncommon, although I fear this expedient is abused.

Somewhat like using courts in divorce, bishops can be removed from office if it is shown in a presentment that they did not faithfully carry out their vows. Incompetence or mismanagement is not, I suspect, grounds for a presentment. Presentments are rare.

Why do the canons of the Episcopal Church give bishops tenure? Are the rules surrounding divorce between a diocese and a bishop appropriate? Presumably bishops need tenure because sometimes things need to be said and done which are not popular with their constituents. Just think of what Jesus could have achieved with tenure.

If we grant that tenure for bishops has benefits, we still must acknowledge the evil it can lead to when a bishop is ineffective, or a bishop-diocese relationship becomes counter productive and irreconcilible.

Given the high degree of alienation that exists between some bishops and some of their people over issues like homosexuality (where both sides believe they are on the side of the good), perhaps this is the wrong time to suggest that the church reexamine its canons governing the bishop-diocese relationship. I am convinced, however, that a reexamination is long overdue. Given human frailties, leader for life, or at least until mandatory retirement, is generally not a good idea whether in the secular or sectarian realms. Perhaps we simply need term limits. (The Rev. Kevin Martin (broken link now repaired) is among those thinking outside the box.)

_*Most in the church find the terminology "employment relationship" theologically incorrect in the context of clergy. In this short post intended for general consumption, I use the terminology for clarity. And, employment relationship or not, it is subject to economic analysis.

Update: This vicar didn't ask for immediate tenure. But it sounds as if he earned it.

Another update: Welcome to readers steered this way from titusonenine.

More: Welcome to CaNNet (reg. req.) readers.

Fetters of spiritual despotism thrown around human reason - Methodists

In the 1850s a publication of the Genesee Conference, The Buffalo Christian Advocate changed its name to The Advocate.

In 1857 a minister in the conference, the Reverend Benjamin Titus Roberts, published "New School Methodism" in the Northern Independent:

+ We commend the editor for this instance of honesty .... In an article on "Creeds," published in The Advocate ... a prominent New School minister lays it onto "the sects whose watchword is a creed ... No matter how holy and blameless a man's life may be, if he has the temerity to question any tenet of 'orthodoxy,' he is at once, in due ecclesiastical form, consigned to the Devil - as a heretic and an infidel. Thus are the fetters of spiritual despotism thrown around human reason...."
+ But [the New School's] theory of religion is more fully set forth in the leading editorial of The Advocate for May 14th...It says, "Christianity is not, characteristically, a system of devotion. It has none of those features which must distinguish a religion grounded on the idea that to adore the Divine character is the most imperative obligation resting upon human beings...."
+ The above may be sufficient to show what Christianity is not, in the opinion of these New School divines. Let us see what it is. "The characteristic idea of this system is benevolence; and its practical realization is achieved in beneficience. It consecrates the principle of charity....Whatever graces be necessary to constitute the inner Christian life, the chief and principal one of these is love to man."
Whew. And why can't it be "both and"? Neither is complete without the other. 'Creed is deed' isn't enough. And idle worship without action isn't either; it's idol worship. Aside: "To love thy God with all .... and the second is like unto it. To love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hangs all."

Roberts continues, in the same essay: They
+desire to raise money for the benefit of the church, they have recourse to selling pews to the highest bidder; to parties of pleasure, oyster suppers, fairs, grab-bags, festivals, and lotteries....The New School Methodists appear to depend upon the patronage of the worldly, the favor of the proud and aspiring; and the various artifices of worldly policy.
+....unmistakable indications show that prosperity is producing upon us, as a denomination, the same intoxicating effect that it too often does upon individuals and needs no prophet's vision to foresee that Methodism will become a dead and corrupting body.
Source: including the Robert's quotations (with my further editing): The Churching of America by Finke and Stark.

They go on to describe the fate of The Reverend Roberts:
Roberts's article provoked a vindictive reaction from the New School faction, for indeed they were in control of "executive power." Roberts was hailed (sic?) before the conference, declared guilty of unchristian and immoral conduct, and sentenced to be reprimanded by the bishop. Shortly thereafter the article was republished by a layman, which led to the expulsion of Roberts from the conference and from the church.
The fate of Methodism? Roberts was prophetic about its self-executing, if unintended, decline. Finke and Stark's chapter "Methodists transformed, Baptists triumphant" paints this in detailed relief, by the numbers.

Parting thought: Isn't it the essence of irony that an open-membership denomination ejected a member who was advocating tighter conditions of membership?

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Vive la Commune

In order to affirm the rights
We should overcome the kings
And all clicks to them.
More good God, of Jesus!
Priests.... One should not any any more!
Live the Commune!
Live the Commune!

(Continue in English; continue in the French original)

Vive la Commune (1928) Posted by Hello
"The Marxist theory fails to anticipate the inevitable rise of an oligarchy in a news society, partly because it has utopian ideas of idiyllic relations in such a society, which obviate the necessity of the use of any form of coercive power; and partly because it identifies economic power too absolutely with the power of private ownership." (Reinhold Neibuhr, The Children of Light and the Children of Darkness: a vindication of democracy and a critique of it traditional defense (1944).)