Saturday, April 28, 2007

Every intelligent person asks himself that question

As a teenager at school, I remember a class ending one day. In the general hubbub as we gathered our papers and books, one of my brasher friends asked the teacher: “Have you ever thought of becoming a priest, sir?” “Yes, I have,” he replied. “What, sir? You, sir?” came the incredulous response. And he was told: “Every intelligent person asks himself that question.” That remark was not the start of my own path to priesthood, but its wisdom has stayed with me.

- Monsignor Roderick Strange is the Rector of the Pontifical Beda College, Rome

For the inquiring stranger in our midst

My monthly essay for Episcopal Café is up under Speaking to the Soul. It's about the catechism in the 1979 Book of Common Prayer.

Nigerian Catholic Church Condemns General Election Results

The Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigerian (CBCN) has joined local and international monitors and human rights groups in denouncing the recent violence-marred presidential elections. In a statement released on Tuesday, the bishops said that Nigerians had again failed to conduct free, fair and credible election.

- Catholic Information Service for Africa
We monitor the web from a similar statement from the Anglican Church of Nigeria.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Secular government cleans up CoE miscarriage of justice

Quote of the day

Quoting from here:
It is in fact a remarkable and heartening truth about the contemporary western world that it has such a vibrant ethical debate as a distinctive part of its culture. Yes, the west does bad things - makes war, exploits and battens, pillages the environment, and much besides - but it also criticises itself about these very things, challenges itself, argues with itself, and sometimes makes things very much better for its denizens than almost anywhere else, at any other time, in the world and human history.

Think of it this way: would you rather live in a functionally secular western country, or in one where the moral climate is much more influenced by what (among others, religious) leaders say it should be?


ACI Appoints Treasurer - written by The Anglican Communion Institute

Former ACI Executive Director served to stand Ecclesiastical Trial in Colorado

Actually, I don't recall ACI exactly giving notice to the executive director that his services were no longer needed.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Mohler on Jefferts Schori

I like to bring views like this into the light of day. From The Christian Postin a story headlined "Episcopal Head Says Anglican Churches Will Make Same 'Journey' to Pro-Gay Stance":
"In other words, Jefferts Schori argues that time is on her side," commented the Rev. R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and one of America's pre-eminent evangelical leaders, in a blog post Thursday. "The African churches will simply have to grow up and learn to play the game. They will have to learn to replace the authority of the Bible with the authority of modern therapeutic ideologies.

"In time,” he wrote, “she expects the African churches to learn to play the game - relativizing Scripture, redefining biblical morality, and flaunting the moral wisdom the church has known for over 2,000 years.

"She may be right," Mohler added. "We must pray she is wrong."

The full article is here. Mohler's blog post is here.

I promised the Lord I’ll share the Gospel under any circumstance

It was not infidelity that moved another relative to tears but fidelity at any cost. We were breezing through the family photo album when she pointed at a picture from Saudi Arabia that showed her husband at an evangelical church. Church? That is a ticket to deportation or worse. Alarmed that her slip might place him in greater dangers, she started to sob. “I can’t stop him — that’s where he found his happiness,” she said. When I reached him, he encouraged me to mention his preaching, saying it was his way of thanking God for the chance to work abroad. “I promised the Lord I’ll share the Gospel under any circumstance,” he said.
That's from a wonderfully written (and long) essay on migrant workers "A Good Provider Is One Who Leaves" by Jason DeParle in the New York Times Magazine.

Here's another paragraph:
Earlier waves of globalization, the movement of money and goods, were shaped by mediating institutions and protocols. The International Monetary Fund regulates finance. The World Trade Organization regularizes trade. The movement of people — the most intimate form of globalization — is the one with the fewest rules. There is no “World Migration Organization” to monitor the migrants’ fate. A Kurd gaining asylum in Sweden can have his children taught school in their mother tongue, while a Filipino bringing a Bible into Riyadh risks being expelled.

The growth in migration has roiled the West, but demographic logic suggests it will only continue. Aging industrial economies need workers. People in poor countries need jobs. Transportation and communication have made moving easier. And the potential economic gains are at record highs. A Central American laborer who moves to the United States can expect to multiply his earnings about six times after adjusting for the higher cost of living. That is a pay raise about twice as large as the one that propelled the last great wave of immigration a century ago.

Primatial creep explained :: Loren Mead

Posted at The Episcopal Majority is Loren Mead's letter on state-side primatial creep:
I come from the branch of the Episcopal Church that knows that our constitution was not shaped by the federal Constitution (the way all the confirmation classes insist), but by the form of government the United States had when the Church constitution was produced: "The Articles of Confederation." So our constitution doesn't really have an executive branch (or president); its focus is in legislative authority that is bicameral – with only vestigial executive and afterthought judicial powers, and no provision for a president or for "national" taxation or rules. So we provided for a presiding officer for each of our legislative branches, but the presiding bishop has no authority in any diocese, and can only act in a diocese by the authority of the diocesan bishop.
I think it was in John Hines' time that "primatial creep" set in. The instrument was the General Convention Special Program (GCSP). ... You'll remember the fireworks and anxiety about national staff "interfering" with dioceses (especially dioceses in the South where racial issues were painful and keen). Primatial creep is not my name for what happened to the Presiding Bishop – but for what happened to the House of Bishops. The House of Bishops had to work with conflict between dioceses and 815. (By now it had been built. Remember, it was 1963 when it was finished and we actually had national staff located in one place.)That – in my opinion – was when the House of Bishops first began usurping the power of the bicameral legislative process that was in our constitution.
Emphases in the original.

Some things you may not know about Rowan Williams

From the BBC profile of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams:
In 1997, Dr Williams came close to be offered the post of Bishop of Southwark. There were fierce wrangles at the time between anti and pro-gay lobbies in the diocese. When George Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, asked Rowan Williams to distance himself from his pro-gay writings on the subject, he declined. In 2000 he was enthroned as Archbishop of Wales.

Rowan Williams is regarded as a liberal, even a radical. But in general, his theology is orthodox. It's been nurtured by Anglo-Catholicism, Russian mysticism, and scores of encounters with other traditions. Many of his ethical positions are orthodox too. For example he is opposed to abortion and believes consumerism exploits, corrupts and causes a premature sexualisation of children.

Homosexuality has been the cause of recent criticism by fellow priests. Several years ago he employed a priest he knew to be living in a homosexual relationship. It is this, coupled with his conviction that the Church should reassess its approach to faithful gay partnerships that has alarmed conservative evangelicals.
* Rowan Williams is unable to drive. His chaplain used to drive him everywhere, so the chauffeur-driven world of Lambeth must have come naturally
* He is hard of hearing in one of his ears
* He insists on always travelling second-class
My emphasis.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Catholic and Anglican Bishops Diverge on Zimbabwe

The Voice of America has audio on the diverging views of Anglican and Catholic baptists on the crisis in Zimbabwe and the role of Mugabe. Go here to listen.

And SW Radio Africa reports:
In fact the targeted sanctions are specifically designed so that they do not affect ordinary Zimbabweans. They limit travel by senior government officials and deprive them of access to their assets in participating countries.

The Anglican Bishops also did not address the state-sponsored violence against the opposition and civic groups, or the corruption and mismanagement that has destroyed many government-run institutions. Father Barnabus Nqindi, an Anglican cleric in South Africa who read the pastoral letter in detail, said his first reaction was laughter because he was flabbergasted by the letter. He explained that the letter sounded like it was written by Bishop Kunonga, the Anglican Bishop of Harare who has been criticised for supporting the Mugabe regime, and the other 14 bishops just put their names down on it. Father Nqindi said he was disturbed by the fact that the bishops did not address the issues of governance, corruption and the lack of the rule of law that exist in Zimbabwe.

See what's brewing at Episcopal Café

It's all here.


Stephen Bates comments:
Rowan Williams, the archbishop of Canterbury, was lecturing politicians in his Wilberforce lecture in Hull last night on the importance of rediscovering their moral energy. He also stressed the necessity of C of E bishops retaining their position in the House of Lords to continue offering "independent moral comment". Meanwhile, central Africa's Anglican bishops have taken a different moral line by saying the west ought to give Zimbabwe's president, Robert Mugabe, a break and lift sanctions. Their number includes the Bishop of Harare, Nolbert Kunonga, a Mugabe crony accused by parishioners of inciting murder and seizing land, in contrast to the call by the country's Catholic bishops for Mugabe to stand down. No sign yet that our archbishop plans to disinvite them from next year's Lambeth conference.
James Graham captures my thoughts to a T:
Rowan Williams, like so many other public figures over the past couple of months, sought to co-opt William Wilberforce in a speech yesterday. In an act of stupendous logical contortion, he uses Wilberforce, an elected politician (albeit in an era of rotten boroughs) as a tool for his argument against reforming the House of Lords:

“It is important in our current debates about the Upper House of Parliament we take seriously the role of such a House in offering channels of independent moral comment”
I wouldn’t dream of claiming that Wilberforce was a secularist, but it has to be pointed out that it wasn’t the Bishops in the Lords that lead the campaign for the abolition of the slave trade. And they aren’t providing moral leadership in the House of Lords today - indeed, they barely deign to show up at all. There may well be a decline of moral leadership in modern politics today, but that is helped, not hindered, by a church which desperately clings to unelected and unaccountable power and evangelises about the desirability for us to adopt an Anglican version of the caliphate.
Well, I'm not sure I'd go so far as that last phrase. But the ABC eviscerates his own argument when his policy recommendation is to leave seats for C of E Bishops in the House of Lords. If there is a place for the voice of religion in government why should it only be the voice of the Church of England? Let's have a competition of voices.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Not a dead letter

From the letters to the editor of The Times:
Sir, Matthew Parris’s article “Shout your doubt out loud” (April 21 ) was really rather odd.

Whenever Christians embrace a cause dear to his heart, such as gay rights, he seems to dismiss it as a panic measure in the face of declining influence. He should be pleased that his views are gaining support.

Could it be that his rejection of religious belief relies upon religion remaining exactly as it was when he first rejected it? If it changes, particularly in ways that he should welcome, it ceases to be such an easy target.

Requiring religious belief to remain unchanged and unchanging through changing times is at least part of what we mean by the word “fundamentalism”. It is a dangerous and discredited tendency to which atheists are clearly not immune.

The evangelical wing of The Episcopal Church may be sharpening their knives over this.

For the link my thanks go out to one of my favorite human browsers, Kendall Harmon of titusonenine. Here's a link to the comments over at titusonenine.

A mass of composers

Chanticleer has commissioned a Mass. From five composers for the five portions: Kyrie, Credo, Sanctus, Gloria and Agnus Dei.

The section no one wanted? Credo. From the New York Times report:
Equally resolute about not compromising her beliefs was the Israeli-born composer Shulamit Ran. When Mr. Jennings asked her to contribute, she said she could do so only if she were free to compose “from a Jewish perspective.” Mr. Jennings encouraged her along those lines, but there was a problem: By the time Ms. Ran had agreed to participate, four of the five sections had been claimed by other composers. The only one left — the one nobody else wanted — was the Credo, the central article of the Catholic faith. Among other declarations, it states: “I believe in one holy, Catholic and Apostolic church. I acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins. And I look for the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come.”

Monday, April 23, 2007

StatGuy reviews Anglican support for Mugabe

StatGuy has an incredibly thorough review not just of recent events, but other events leading up to them. Included is a link to the pastoral letter.

Advice from a seminary president concerning Virginia Tech

The words of Paige Patterson, president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, as reported in
"See, all you had to do was have six or eight rush him right at that time, and 32 people wouldn't have died," Patterson said.
"Now one more time, how many or you are male students at Southwestern Seminary? Get your hands up. Alright, God bless you, and I am counting on you. Do you understand me? I'm counting on you, and I know you will."
Patterson didn't mention guns in Wednesday's chapel comments, but he has said in the past that America's No. 1 problem is a "war against boys," including establishing laws to prevent men from hunting and owning guns, producing a generation of fathers disconnected from their sons. "Today there is a war against boys," Patterson said in 2003 at Sportsman's Safari sponsored by First Baptist Church of Lavaca, Ark. "You've got to make little girls out of your little boys."
On Wednesday, Patterson also said things might have been different at Virginia Tech if someone had reached out to Cho before he carried out his attack.

"[The] total testimony of everybody was that this young man who did this deed was troubled and very lonely," he said.
In The Sunday Times Sarah Baxter wrote, "the horrific slaughter revealed not only the poisons lurking in popular culture but the crisis of young males in a feminised society."

We knew Episcopalians and Southern Baptists were different. But who knew The Sunday Times and Southern Baptists could be on the same page?

Sunday, April 22, 2007

COE Bishop upset at Zimbabwean distortion of his statements

The Church News Daily reports:
THE BISHOP of Croydon, the Rt Rev Nicholas Baines has stringently denied an African news report which said he accused the British media of "peddling lies" about Zimbabwe.

He informed The Church of England Newspaper that the account of his comments in The Herald, given after a visit to the Bishop of Central Zimbabwe was "absolute nonsense" and is said to be "very upset" about the African newspaper article, published yesterday.

The story, based on a visit by Bishop Baines to his Zimbabwean counterpart, Bishop Ishmael Mukuwanda of the Central Region Diocese, reported Baines to have said that "London has no right to dictate how Harare should run its affairs".

The article in a newspaper owned by the Zimbabwe government claimed that Bishop Baines told the African Bishop that he and his delegation had visited Zimbabwe to "see we things for ourselves" rather than listening to the "propopaganda on our television stations."
For the comple Church of England Newspaper article click here and then select the daily issue dated 20 April 2007.

Williams on religion and government

From his Sunday Times essay, "Down with Godless Government":
But if the state enacts or perpetuates in the corporate life of the nation what is directly contrary to the Christian understanding of God’s purpose, then Christian activism in respect of changing the law is justified, primarily when the state is responsible for — so to speak — compromising the morality of all its citizens.
This makes sense, though, only if it is possible to convince those who run things in the public sphere that there are human values and ethical norms to which an entire society is answerable. In our relativist climate, this is very difficult. What tends to happen is that nothing much is left as a substantive moral basis for public life except a poorly defined principle of tolerance or avoidance of mutual harm. The idea that you can give substance to a common social ethic, something to which society as a whole can be held accountable, is unfashionable and unwelcome. Even from the point of view of many who have no religious commitment, there is a recognition that this is a thin diet.
Sounds good. But if there is vociferous disagreement amongst Christians disagree, then what? For example, in the application of their values and norms to the full inclusion of homosexuals? Disagreement this strong points back to basic differences in values and norms derived from our faith. Can we even articulate those differences to each other, let alone to the state?

It is not our relativist climate that has brought some Christians to reject past teachings on homosexuality. Nor is it mere tolerance. It derives from an openness to question where the church may be in error of inclusion and exclusion regarding sin. Is homosexuality sin? Is slavery sin? There is no longer any debate within the church that it wrongly excluded the latter. In time the church will conclude it is an error to include homosexuality in the list of sins.

By the way, you cannot merely list sins. A list does not guide action. Sin is about whether our heart is with God or not. It is never is, of course, but we strive.

Tom Horwood has a column in The Guardian, "Religious leaders should be hopeful, not defensive, in public debate", that serves as a nice companion piece to Williams'. An extract:
There is a new mood of defensiveness within faith communities, the symptom of a fear about where libertarian social trends are leading. It has not always been like this. Skilful religious leaders have engaged in debate and argued persuasively for positive change. Wilberforce, Gandhi and Martin Luther King took unpopular stances, but pointed to a better way for all, inspired by faith.

Global South leader Malango in the news

Archbishop Mulango has been in the news in the past few days.

Over at The Lead I've got a post on the recent pastoral letter from the Province of Central Africa supporting the Mugabi regime in Zimbabwe.

The other news, which Ruth Gledhill posted on April 20th but I've just read, concerns the story of the poisoning death of an Anglican missionary in the Diocese of Malawi. Here's an abbreviated version of Gledhill's telling of the tale:
On Remembrance Day last year, a 73-year-old English missionary priest died in Malawi. ... Now, it turns out, he was poisoned. Mutterings that all was not right with his death began a few weeks back, and police in Africa have this week confirmed the worst.
The diocese of Lake Malawi was in the public eye at about this time when Acton vicar Nicholas Henderson was appointed its new bishop, and then his appointment was blocked by the Global South leader Bernard Malango and by the diocese's court of confirmation because of Henderson's links with the liberal theology of the Modern Churchpeople's Union. The court described Henderson as a 'man of unsound faith'.
In spite of strong support in the diocese, which has long links with Henderson's west London flock, Malango appointed another bishop, Leonard Mwenda, in Henderson's place. Mwenda's enthronement was conducted under police guard, amid scenes of stone-throwing. Mwenda in turn appointed Rodney Hunter as an assistant priest at Lake Malawi's Anglican cathedral.

A few months later, Father Rodney was dead. Poisoned.

Police enquiries are continuing but I have to ask: have the Anglican Communion's gay wars claimed their first victim?
That, from Ruth Gledhill. Evidently it is unfair to say she is entirely in sync with the Global South.

I had not known of Malango's appointment of a bishop over the objections of the diocese although I have heard that archbishops in other provinces have more power than our Presiding Bishop. I guess he's not as reasonable a man as Archbishop Akinola. Gledhill provides this background post at Thinking Anglicans for more on the events in 2005 surrounding the appointment of Henderson and his replacement by Mwenda.

As someone has put it, it's pretty remarkable for Malango to sit in judgment of The Episcopal Church.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Dumb headline


More gays abstain until marriage?

USA Today:
Fewer gay couples are choosing to enter civil unions or register as domestic partners, says Carisa Cunningham of Boston's Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders. "People are waiting for marriage," she says, noting the advent of gay marriage in Massachusetts has boosted expectations.

Armstrong distracts from ACI's message?

Tom Roberts: "Elves- I recommend #54 from Armstrong+ be relocated to a top level post.
Unless you wish to have this thread diverge from its own top level."

The subject of the thread? "The Anglican Communion Institute: questions we avoid at our peril".

It all depends on what the meaning of "our" is. And who's asking the questions.

Among other things, Armstrong wrote:
The goal of the Diocese of Colorado has been and continues to be my own ruin as a human being, the destruction of my family, and the end of the ACI. Collateral damage is Grace Church–but what is that to an already dying institution. This is obvious on every level to anyone with half their brain tied behind their head.
The ACI had written:
It is simply the case that the recent actions of the House of Bishops bring to the surface differences between large sections of TEC and the AC that may well prove irreconcilable. They also reveal divisions within TEC that may well prove equally intractable.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Take The Lead

There's a new blog in town. Take a look at The Lead here.

The Lead is one of several blogs at the Episcopal Café. More about the just-opened Episcopal Café here.

The blogs at Episcopal Café:
  • The Lead covers news items of the day of interest to an Episcopalian audience
  • The Daily Episcopalian provides a daily essay or editorial often on or about the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion.
  • Speaking to the Soul "includes sermons, reflections, multimedia meditations and excerpts from books on spirituality."
  • Art Blog
Drop in today and take a peek around the place. We are just getting started.

We? Full disclosure: I will be serving on The Lead and on the editorial board of Episcopal Café. More about the contributors here.

Episcopal Café is frankly evangelical, following in the footsteps of The Four Evangelists.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

US evangelicals aim to influence European law

The Christian Science Monitor reports:

In Britain, the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF), an organization founded by American evangelical leaders, is funding a lawsuit brought by a Christian man who was fired for refusing to work on Sunday. It is also helping to develop the legal strategy.

• In Sweden, ADF played a key role in persuading the Supreme Court to dismiss charges against Ake Green, a pastor who was convicted of hate-crime charges after he delivered a sermon in which he called gays a "deep cancerous tumor in the entire society."
• In Aruba and the Czech Republic, Pat Robertson's legal organization, the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), helped defeat bills that would have legalized same-sex unions.
• In France, ACLJ affiliate ECLJ (the European Center for Law and Justice), is staging a legal challenge against an antisect law that it says is being used to clamp down on evangelical Christian churches.
•And on the European Union level, ECLJ is lobbying to block funding for embryonic stem-cell research.
Why are American groups going to such lengths to shape the laws in other countries?
"We realized that if we didn't try to mold precedents abroad, they could come back to hurt us, and that the American legal system as we know might change," says Benjamin Bull, chief counsel for the ADF.

He notes that, for example, US judges have drawn on foreign precedents and international standards in several key cases, such as the Supreme Court's 2003 ruling in Lawrence v. Texas, which legalized sodomy in the Lone Star State.
At the moment, IHRG and Schuzh are involved in more than a dozen home-schooling cases wending their way through the German court system and have appealed to the European Court of Human Rights to hear several of them.

One of their top priorities is the case of the 15-year-old home-schooled girl Melissa Busekros. Her parents say that her classmates would mock her faith, kneeling in front of her with their hands pressed together in prayer and saying, "Hail Mary." (Though the Busekroses are evangelical Christians, the students in heavily Roman Catholic Bavaria didn't appear to recognize the distinction.) The last straw came when she started failing Latin and math, at which point her parents began home-schooling her.

After more than two years of trying to get Melissa back in school, state officials pulled her from her home in February and placed her in a psychiatric ward. The Erlangen youth-welfare office declined to comment on her case, but a psychological evaluation that the office ordered said Melissa was suffering from emotional problems, including "school phobia," and had to be removed from her home for [her] own well-being. She is now living with a foster family.

My emphasis. Read it here. Thanks to titusonenine for the link.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

How do we square these statements?

Statement 1:
I am the President of ACI. I was the President of SEAD. ... I am aware of our actual work at ACI, and 90% at least goes by my eyes, and it is work that happens out of the generosity of those contributing. No stipends are paid, and this costs Grace Church nothing in the strict sense. We have a web site, and that is paid for by Grace Church, as I understand it. [link]
When at SEAD I planned and ran over 15 conferences and 3 House of Studies. We kept a tight financial ship and of course ‘made no profit’ — we were a not for profit organisation. But we succeeded admirably, to my mind. The problem was how to keep up that kind of pace, without any donor base beyond a few kind and generous Bishops. [link]
Someone once put it nicely, 'six guys and a web-site.' We counted on donations to support travel and subsistence, and this was handled by the Executive Director. [link]

- The Rev. Prof. Chris Seitz, President of the Anglican Communion Institute

Statement 2 [link]:
AI and ACI are both ministries of the parish but are managed with separate accounts that are audited annually with the rest of the parish ministries.

ACI/AI are funded by private donations–and all money raised for these ministries is always spent specifically for the purposes for which it was raised. None of this has been for salaries, but for conferences and publishing, in most recent years for the sort of work Chris Seitz has described.

Since 2003 until just this past Fall, Grace Church has funded the ACI from its own monies to maintain its independence and so that it would be free from political pressures that outside fund raising naturally involves.

No money disappeared into these ministries, but was used for the purposes it was intended.

The ACI/AI has [sic? have?] granted scholarships for a number of theological and educational ventures over the years, but those funds are separate from the working money given for ACI. In other words I raised money specifically for the purpose of supporting these other various educational ventures–which included clergy and lay continuing education, seminary education expenses for third world students, writing projects and the like.

-The Rev. Donald Armstrong, Rector, Grace Church and St. Stephens, and Executive Director, ACI

Statement 3 [link]:
They just walked away from 85 percent of their funding.... I don’t know what ACI is without that.

- Alan Crippen, spokesman for Grace and Armstrong, President John Jay Institute for Faith, Society and Law Colorado Springs, Colorado

Very often an organization's Board does much of its fund raising. I would be interested in knowing if the friendly bishops on the Board of Directors of the ACI used monies from their diocesan discretionary funds to support ACI. And if they asked for audits of how donations to ACI were used.

The ACI said in its statement severing ties to Grace:
ACI is not now and was never incorporated. Its “board” has been a loosely-knit network of sympathetic consultants within our work on behalf of the Communion. There was and is no budget, no compensation, and no formal structure.
Not sure why "board" is in quotes. The "Board of Directors" are prominently listed on the ACI website:
Board Members

The Most Rev'd Dr George Carey (former Archbishop of Canterbury)
The Most Rev'd Drexel Wellington Gomez (Archbishop of the West Indies )
The Rt Rev'd John W. Howe (Episcopal Bishop of Central Florida)
The Rt Rev'd Alpha Mohamed (Bishop of the Rift Valley)
The Rt Rev'd Edward L. Salmon, Jr (Bishop of South Carolina)
The Rt Rev'd James M. Stanton (Bishop of Dallas)
The Very Rev'd Dr Paul Zahl (Dean of Trinity School For Ministry)
The Rev'd Dr George Sumner (Dean of Wycliffe Seminary in Toronto)
Professor Russell Reno (Creighton University)
Mrs Elizabeth Cooper (Charleston. SC)

UPDATE. Don Armstrong says more about ACI's funding:
... the vestry did not want to leave dangling $170,000 that had been spent by ACI since 2003 and thus categorized it as a loan–when in fact by resolution in 2003 the vestry had previously decided to fund ACI with money restricted from the diocese by parishioners–and by the Diocese’s own determination had to be used beyond the parish. So ACI owes the parish nothing. All ACI funds were spent for flying the ACI team literally around the world ....

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Two Candidates Announced for Next Dean and President of Virginia Theological Seminary

Here's the link.

The candidates are Dr. Ian Markham, Dean of Hartford Seminary, and The Rt. Rev. J. Neil Alexander, ThD, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta.

Archbishop of Canterbury announces he will meet with Episcopal Church

Excerpting from Episcopal Life:
Speaking in a news conference in Toronto, Williams said he would make the visit together with members of the Standing Committee of the Primates, of which Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori is a member, and the Anglican Consultative Council.
Williams said the meeting will take place during the House of Bishops' previously scheduled fall gathering in New Orleans September 20-25.

"I am glad that he has accepted this invitation, and I know the other bishops will be glad, as well," Jefferts Schori told ENS in an interview following Williams' announcement. "We look forward to a conversation together in September."

Jefferts Schori said that she has received replies from some members of the Joint Standing Committee indicating their plans to attend. Replies from other members are still pending at this time, she said.

This will be the first time Williams has met with the Episcopal Church's House of Bishops or attended a meeting of any of the church's leadership bodies such as General Convention or Executive Council.
Jefferts Schori has underscored in earlier interviews that the House of Bishops' resolution inviting the Archbishop of Canterbury to meet with them was passed unanimously.
The article includes this reminder:
In their communiqué, the Primates also gave the House of Bishops, via a response from Jefferts Schori, until September 30 to agree to "make an unequivocal common covenant that the bishops will not authorise any Rite of Blessing for same-sex unions in their dioceses or through General Convention" and "confirm that the passing of Resolution B033 of the 75th General Convention means that a candidate for episcopal orders living in a same-sex union shall not receive the necessary consent unless some new consensus on these matters emerges across the Communion."

Monday, April 16, 2007

Archbishop of Canterbury to visit US

The press release from his office is here: "this autumn."

This autumn? Very timely.

An Easter sermon you may want to miss

Over the last year every aspect of my life and work has been put under a very expensive microscope.

I have been stripped bare and publicly humiliated.

Literally purged of every vestige of self respect and dignity I had worked a life time to achieve.
Six days later:
A defiant Rev. Donald Armstrong told his longtime parish Saturday he never stole money from the church.
During his presentation, he said the vestry never showed this level of concern about financial matters, and suggested former vestry members have turned against him because they’re scared the bishop will sue them for previously shirking their financial responsibilities.
If congregants loyal to the Episcopal Church win, Armstrong hinted a vestry member — whose Nebraska bank loaned the church nearly $2.5 million — might call the loan.
"I have done nothing wrong so I actually sleep well at night," Armstrong told more than 300 people gathered for a lively, sometimes contentious, three-hour meeting in the sanctuary of Grace and St. Stephen’s Church in Colorado Springs.
On Saturday, Armstrong shot back that if the signers were so in the dark about how the parish’s finances were handled, then they also have to admit they failed their fiduciary responsbility as vestry members. He also suggested they signed the statement because they were afraid of the bishop.

"That’s a wrong thing to say!" shouted Connie Fischer, a parishioner of more than eight years, from near the back of the church. "He’s so arrogant,’ she added, referring to Armstrong.

These tokens

Christopher Howse writing in The Telegraph:
Jesus "for us men, and for our salvation came down from heaven," the Nicene Creed says, "And was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate." That is plain, but when I tried to look into the mechanics, I began to realise that mechanics are not a good description of God's dealings with the world.

Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, in a new book Tokens of Trust (Canterbury Press, £9.99) summarises different ways of understanding the atonement.

For a start, "it became possible to speak of Jesus as a sacrifice," he writes.

Jewish thinking had already formulated the idea that "a life of obedience was a kind of sacrifice", and Jesus's perfect harmony with God's purpose led him to his death.

Dr Williams notes other images. "Jesus's death is a ransom, paid to our kidnappers (the powers of destruction); it is a punishment that we deserve, voluntarily borne by another, who is innocent; it is even a triumphant nailing up of a cancelled invoice.

"It's important to be aware of all these images and try to see why they are used; equally important, though, not to treat them as if they were theories that explain why Jesus died. The single central thing is the conviction that for us to be at peace Jesus's life had to be given up."

While scripture speaks truly, misunderstandings should be cleared up. It is a repulsive invention to suppose that it is to Satan that Jesus pays a price for our release. Nor is a ransom paid to God.
My emphasis.

Burn the pews and save the church

The Sunday Times has the story.

The story? A call for more conversions:
THE architectural historian and committed Anglican Sir Roy Strong has proposed a drastic solution to the problem of tiny congregations in country churches: burn the pews and share the buildings with community centres and farmers’ markets.

“It’s unreal for many of these churches to continue,” said Strong, who is high bailiff of Westminster Abbey. “They have these so-called untouchable brown wooden pews. But why not rip them out and burn them?”

His call comes as the Anglican authorities ease procedures for buildings to be given other uses — post offices are to open in two village churches next month.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Evangelicals anxious about not being so separate from the worldly

David Instone-Brewer writing in The Wall Street Journal:
Why are evangelicals so willing to accept divorce among their political leaders? It seems, increasingly, that political leaders look like evangelical church members. The divorce rate among evangelicals is actually as high as that of the general population.

The evangelical attempt to follow a literal interpretation of the Bible has always been difficult in the face of the realities of modern life. When Jesus was asked in the Gospels if he allowed "divorce for any cause," he replied that anyone "who divorces his wife except for sexual immorality and marries another woman commits adultery" (Matthew 19:3). This admonition has long been interpreted to mean that divorce, for Bible-based Christians, is allowed only in cases of adultery. Even then, the spouse who has been faithful is treated the same as the adulterer: Neither can remarry as long as the other is alive.
As it happens, new scholarship supports a slightly less strict biblical understanding of divorce than the traditional one. Scrolls found near the Dead Sea, which confirm indications found in ancient Jewish authors like Philo and Josephus, show that the key phrase "any cause" was actually the formal name of a type of divorce. That is, Jesus did not reject divorce for any cause but rather, he rejected the "Any Cause" divorce.

Rabbis at the time disagreed on the validity of "Any Cause" divorce, but thanks to marriage contracts found near the Dead Sea, we know that most allowed divorce based on Exodus 21:10-11. That is, they allowed men and women to divorce partners for physical or emotional neglect, including abuse and abandonment. Jesus said nothing against this, and in First Corinthians 7:15, Paul tells those who are abandoned by their partners that they are "no longer bound."

There is now a growing scholarly consensus among evangelicals on this issue. Even evangelical professors like Craig Keener of Duke University and William Heth at Taylor University, who have each previously published books with more traditional interpretations, now teach differently. Drawing on my own work, "Divorce and Remarriage in the Bible" (Eerdmans, 2002), they conclude that Jesus and Paul would have rejected no-fault divorce and that they would have permitted a wronged partner to initiate a divorce based on the Old Testament grounds of adultery or neglect.

This new scholarship may allow evangelical leaders to say what they have wanted to say for some time -- that divorce is permitted so long as there are strong grounds for it. A few, like Southern Baptist scholar Jim Denison, are already teaching that abuse and abandonment are valid grounds for divorce.
My emphasis.

Episcopalians, including evangelical Episcopalians, have for a number of decades accepted divorce for reasons beyond adultery, abuse and abandonment. How did evangelical Episcopalians accomplish this and remain consistent with the principles following scripture and traditional teaching? It appears true that evangelical Episcopalians did have room to change their understanding of divorce. And therefore they do have room to at least to contemplate a change in their beliefs about homosexuality.

More about David Instone-Brewer here.

Latest development in Central NY legal tussle

The twists and turns of the legal tussle between the Diocese of Central NY and two parishes seeking to withdraw from the diocese have been followed closely by titusonenine.

The latest development is a decision by an Onandoga county Supreme Court judge that “DFMS may also attend any and all discovery proceedings, but DFMS may not individually conduct any discovery without the express permission of the Court, following a showing that the interest of DFMS is somehow different or unique to the Diocese’s interest.”* So reports Raymond J. Dague an attorney on the side of the parishes.

More about Dague can be found here.

*DFMS = The Episcopal Church (the national body)

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Quote of the day :: Virginia Postrel

I don't care when actors, athletes, and CEOs hire ghostwriters, though I do think they should give their ghosts credit, but people who pretend to be journalists and public intellectuals should do their own damn work.

- Virginia Postrel on Katie Couric's Notebook subtitled A Look into Katie's Notebook

Monday, April 09, 2007

An Easter Truce: it really happened

Mark Harris remarks on what many of us have noticed. The Episcoblogosphere took an unannnounced truce for Holy Week.

The Christmas Truce of 1914. It really happened, too.

One city, Dubai, with Easter services in 15 languages

Tens of thousands of Christians turned out for services this Easter, with church ministers saying that attendances this year have been larger than ever.

In Holy Trinity Church on Oud Metha Road, Dubai, alone, services were held in more than 15 languages to mark the crucifixion and subsequent resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Nearby St Mary's Catholic Church was also very busy with many Easter services.

The Reverend John Weir, Senior Chaplain of the Anglican Chaplaincy of Dubai and Sharjah, who gave more than half a dozen services on Good Friday, Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday at Holy Trinity Church said: "Easter is the central event of Christian life. The most important fact from which our faith grew is that Jesus died, was buried and rose again.
In addition, this Easter has been particularly busy because both the Western and Eastern branches are celebrating the festival on the same weekend. Usually the two branches of the church mark Easter at different times.
Parking was at a premium in the Oud Metha Road area over Easter, with many worshippers having to park away from the church area and walk in as such large numbers of other Christians were visiting at the same time. Traffic was very heavy in the area, leaving some drivers stuck in long tailbacks.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Oprah-size Me

The Communion Laity and Clergy has issued a statement on the presentment of Don Armstrong (co-founder of the CLC) by the Diocese of Colorado Standing Committee. The CLC statement is covered here by The Rocky Mountain News:
Last week, a 12-member diocesan committee that includes two CLC members voted unanimously to support a "presentment" against Armstrong, the church equivalent of a civil indictment of wrongdoing. "They have witnessed the canonical process and support the presentment," said the CLC statement, referring to the two CLC committee participants. They are the Rev. David Henderson, rector at St. Paul's Episcopal Church, Steamboat Springs, and the Rev. John Wengrovius, rector at Calvary Episcopal Church in Golden.
The article quotes Ephraim Radner (a CLC member) who then comments here and here. In between, Don Armstrong himself chimes in here.