Saturday, January 24, 2004

Chapman in Context. Kendall Harmon puts the Chapman letter in context here. Is this just spin? I don't think so -- as I read what he sets forth, it makes sense. There is some pretty heavy commentary at the end when he compares it to the memo that was accidently disclosed to Paul Zahl before the Primates meeting last October (you may recall -- this was the strategy to waylay the thirdworld primates to keep them from discussing the issues).

Of course, I don't think the document is quite as damning as the WaPo and the Simon Sarmientos (Thinking Anglican -- ha!) seem to think. But then, what do I know? I think words mean what they say and not whatever I want them to say.

(Similarly, I don't know anyone who would sign a statement and then turn around and deny that very statement. Oh, well I don't know anyone who would do such a thing other than the Presiding Bishop of the ECUSA, Frank Griswold, I mean. Used car salesmen have higher ethical standards than our PB.)

Thursday, January 22, 2004

Nothing tonight -- nor maybe tomorrow. Everyone is competing for the 'net. Also, I'm really behind on e-mail. Sorry!
Lawyer and philosopher Peter Sean Bradley, in comments here and here asks
First, when did you come to realize that the loss of the true conservatives jeopardize the centrists? Was it when the Robinson matter surfaced or earlier?

Second, I sense a kind of ambivalence in some of the things you have written. You appear to oppose Robinson on the perfectly reasonable basis that married men ought not have sex with persons not their wife, but you don't appear to like being labeled a "conservative?" Aren't you a conservative at this time and in this context? Is it the case that in the earlier dispute over female ordination, "conservatives" were those people over there who were utterly unreasonable in their position and now it stings to have the charges leveled against you that were leveled against them?

It's not my intent to intrude, but your model of how the ECUSA seems to make a lot of sense and I don't think I've seen it anywhere else, certainly not in the media. It also, frankly, resembles the Jacobin phase of the French Revolution when slightly less radical factions were led off to the guillotine protesting their radicalism.
This requires a bit of history and a bit about myself. All my life, I thought of myself as a "liberal" -- I was never a commie-lover -- in fact, I could never understand that faction (Eugene Volokh has some good thoughts on this posted recently here) and considered myself a Bobby Kennedy -style liberal. Nevertheless, some of my best friends have been conservatives. VBG.

This political liberalism survived being "surprised by joy" (in the words of C.S. Lewis) -- being a follower of Jesus and being a political liberal in the late 1970s were not unheard of. My "role-model" and political hero was Sen. Mark Hatfield. Other influences were Ron Sider, the Sojourners Community, the magazine The Other Side, and the Mennonite theologian John Howard Yoder.

In the 1980s some of these organizations and people took a beating. Sen. Clean was involved in a real-estate scandal, Sojourners and the Other Side embraced the Stalinists, Yoder admitted to having a string of adulterous relationships and Ron Sider published a book saying we should pray away on-coming nukes. Those things didn't do me in -- some trust in horses, others in chariots -- but I did start questioning a lot of their ideas.

Also, at the time, I was going to a school headed up by a televangelist, a faith-healer, and there was a lot of this "name-it-and-claim-it" faith teaching that my friends were struggling with. A magazine named Eternity, not published any more, had a brief quote by Fr. Neuhaus comparing the Yoderite anti-war theology to the whole "faith teaching" of these televangelists. The more I wrestled with it, the more I saw he was right, and that began the deterioration of my radical pacifist beliefs.

I'm babbling -- what I want to say is that for years -- decades, I've been a political liberal and that to call me a "conservative" is extremely painful. I can't think of myself that way. Also, I think there are many in the Episcopal Church who associate the idea of being "conservative" with a political position that we find anathema.

In the early 80's I was married by an Episcopal minister, Renny Scott, committed to "social justice" and a radical commitment to Christ. I wasn't raised in the Episcopal church and neither was my bride -- but we joined, in large part, because of this minister. I also had a Young Life leader in college I studied with who introduced me to the Episcopal Church and Anglican thought. This was Sam Pascoe, now rector of Grace Episcopal Church in Orange Park, FL, and author of a book on the Articles of Religion.

As I got involved in the Episcopal Church, I fell in love with it. The more I fell in love, the more I wanted to know -- and as I explored the history, I looked at the revolution the ECUSA had just undergone, with the ordination of women, the issuance of the new BCP and the new hymnal. Being a fair-minded kind of guy, I wanted to examine, fairly, the arguments of the dissenters.

(to be continued...)

(I'm still babbling and haven't gotten close to answering the questions...)


Okay, I'm back -- let me try to stop babbling...

What I tried to say above is (1) I come out of a very liberal political philosophy, where the idea of being "conservative" is anathema. (2) even so, and this is true of my conscious walk with Christ (which is more like Jacob wrestling), I had firm convictions (i.e. anti-communism) that put me at odds with my "liberal" brethern.*

As I was saying above, that being a new Episcopalian, I could sense there was something missing within the denomination and I think it was those folks who left.

I really believe that statement I have at the left by St. Augustine. I believe we really need each other -- liberal and conservativee, fundamentalist and po-mo X-ian, high-church and low church,** pentecostal, liturgical, evangelical, social gospel, all have a place in the body of Christ. And yes, even my gay brother and lesbian sister.***

And that's really the point of it. I think the ECUSA really lost a lot when it lost all those church members since the mid-1970s. I am grieved by those who claim to be acting in the name of inclusiveness -- why do they only seek to be "inclusive" in one direction?

While I've gone on for awhile here, I've really only scratched the surface.

Early in my Christian walk, I saw a lot of folks damaged by an undisciplined, un-Biblical charismatic movement. Folks who claimed to be spiritual giants receiving words of knowledge directly from the holy spirit. For those of us young in the Lord, we deferred to much and there was a lot of damage done by truly carnal "Christians" claiming to be acting in the name of God.

This was part of why I found refuge in the Episcopal Church -- it offered shelter in the form of what I saw as godly checks and balances -- the episcopal governance, the local vestry, and (in the churches I generally attended) effective small groups. There was proper oversight and care. To use Charles Hummel's phraseology, the fire was in the fireplace.****

This background set forth in the two prior paragraphs is why I have so much problem with the action taken by Peter Lee. In making his decision to vote to ordain VGR as a Bishop in the church catholic, he abandoned the guidance offered by the Scriptures, by the Anglican Church councils, by the ecumenical chuch catholic, and by the faith handed down throughout the centuries. Instead he said he prayed and relied on his feelings.

Blessed Peter Sean Bradley offers these additional comments, while I've been away dithering:
...which is whether a person should be loyal to a name or an idea? I often wonder about my Methodist clients who were as ruthlessly submarined by the leftists in their denomination and who chose to leave it en banc. They don't seem to miss being "Methodist."
I don't know. For those in the Methodist church -- that is a church that similarly has a rich tradition and theology -- as you know, the Wesleys were Anglican -- so conservative those opposed to them looked down on them and sneeringly called them "methodists..." Of course they take these things with them, but something is lost -- a lot. Were it just a name, it would be no problem. From Abram to Saul, God gives us new names when he calls us to our true mission.

I don't know...

In another year, I might be worshiping at an AME church -- I love gospel music and call and response preaching...

I don't know...

To the second thing, yes, I am a . . . a . . . conservative at this time and in this context. . .

There, I said it.

Sometimes I wonder if that's part of the strategy -- if the revisionists label the confessing members of the denomination "conservative" and "fundamentalist," it will drive us back and/or keep others from joining us. "You don't want to be seen with those fundamentalists -- they beat their wives to keep them down -- they burn books -- they handle snakes ---"

Peter writes:
Life is a journey, my friend. I think you've been cast into the outer darkness with the rest of us "conservatives." And as the character in "The Princess Bride" says "I don't think it means what you think it means."
Well, one thing I've always liked about you conservatives is that you generally have a good sense of humor.

Let us walk together and "keep to the path, in love, as we fare on toward Him, 'whose face is ever to be sought."

*There were other convictions I held that were outside the "liberal mainstream:" I was always leery of big unions and especially found the teachers unions a very corrupting influence on education. Shortly after the Christian "conversion" experience, I came across "Washington Monthly," Senator Paul Tsongas, and the developing neo-liberal movement. *sigh* that movement really faded...

**When asked if Truro is high church or low church, our rector Martyn Minns replies we're broad church. That's a good description of how it should be, I think.

***Yet I recognize that I am in deep and fundamental conflict with my brother and sister when they seek to have their sinful activity "blessed" by the church. Similarly, I reject the idea of "blessing" an adulterous relationship, or "blessing" a fraudulent business endeavor, etc.

****I want to take a moment to affirm the pentecostal and charismatic movements as something that has been a true blessing from the Lord. The abuses by some do not negate this work of God as evidenced by the fruit of the Spirit. I believe the church catholic is liturgical, orthodox, evangelical, and charismatic.
Open Letter to the Bishops. I didn't write this, but it could go directly to Bishops Peter Lee, Frank Griswold:
So far, you and your government have chosen the easy way out for yourselves, and the most dangerous road for society: the path of inner decay for the sake of outward appearances; of deadening life for the sake of increasing uniformity; of deepening the spiritual and moral crisis of our society; and ceaselessly degrading human dignity, for the puny sake of protecting your own power.

Movies for Kids Here's a list of 100 flicks for kids. The main qualifier is the age range: 8-12.

From this list, I particularly like these for younger kids (under 8)
"Babe" (1995)
"Beauty and the Beast" (1991)
"Mary Poppins" (1964)
"Monsters, Inc." (2001)
"Peter Pan" (1953)
"Pinocchio" (1940)
"Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" (1937)
"The Sound of Music" (1965) (although, since its a long movie, I'll send the little ones off before the end, which might be too intense for them)
"Toy Story" and "Toy Story 2" (1995 and 1999)

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

Rebirth? Is this the news we were hoping for? I don't think so.

The Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes, many months in gestation, has been born. The question is whether this is a new birth, a rebirth, a new creation? Or is it more of the same -- the only weight-bearing pillar holding up the apostate Episcopal Church?

First, the good news. I love the theological charter -- I will be meditating on this for a while to come. (See also the organizational charter.

The Christian Science Monitor indicates the purpose of the Network is to "eventually replace the church as the authentic representative of the faith in the US." Yet, the WaTi indicates the purpose of the Network is to be a "church within a church." (I'd prefer the notion of it being a "church within a brothel" -- which is much more accurate.)

Time will tell, I guess. This note is tentative, because I'm feeling tentative about this. I'd hoped for more. I don't want to see the Bishop Lees of this world prevail and smother the faithful in their stall tactics. I'd prefer to have them go after us, like the tyrant in NewWest has gone after the faithful believers there.
Jennifer O'Neill, Summer of '42Silent No More. The the National Silent No More Awareness Campaign will be observing the commencement of the US holocaust tomorrow evening on the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court. Among those bearing witness will be Jennifer O'Neill, Dr. Alveda King (Niece of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.) and singer and actress Melba Moore.

Abortion has never been among the healing arts. It is harmful emotionally, physically and spiritually to women and others. This organization, these women, reach out to other women who are hurting from an abortion and let them know help is available.

Virginia Primary. I'm looking forward to voting in Virginia’s February 10, 2004, presidential primary.
Court case. The Supremes had a 5-4 case today involving the EPA and a state seeking to comply with the Clean Air Act.

The EPA was the "winner" in the case, and once again, Justice O'Connor was the swing vote. The Majority opion was by Justice Ginsburg. Justice Kennedy wrote the dissent, joined by Rehnquist, Scalia, and Thomas.

This will be seen through the lens of Democrat v. Republican, Liberal v. Conservative, Government v. Business, and, to some extent, that's valid. However, this is one of those instances where you have to look at all levels.

I think the dissent was correct in the interpretation and application of administrative law.

One side note I find interesting, Kennedy begins and ends his dissent with and emphasized civility:
The majority, in my respectful view, . . .


For these reasons, and with all respect, I dissent from the opinion and the judgment of the Court.

(emphasis added)
Hmmm. Payton's place?

More Apparently not.

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

Who Moved? The USA Today has another one of those articles about the "conservative" Episcopalians. As I wrote in my cri d'coeur following the confirmation of VGR, the ECUSA drove
off the true conservative wing years ago -- over the issue of the ordination of women. . . . Nevertheless, the extremist left wing of the ECUSA strove to minimize, marginalize and hound those who hold to a contrary belief. As a result, those of us who are the real centrists now find ourselve on the right flank, labeled "conservatives."
I should've added the revision of the Book of Common Prayer and the Hymnal.

The writer of the USA Today article quotes a VTS professor (there's an objective voice) as saying "The deeper story here is a coalition of theological, socially and politically conservative activists moving in several Christian denominations to push each to its most conservative or orthodox position."

In other words, this prof., Diana Butler Bass, sees an insidious fifth column in every denomination trying to destroy each. (I imagine soon she will release her list of 4 or 57 or 205 card-carrying conservatives in each denomination.)

The truth is, what has happened in the Episcopal Church is a mirror image of what happened in the Southern Baptist Convention, with one exception. In each church a group on the extreme fringe pushed for ideological purity and was willing to drive out those on the the other extreme. In the SBC, it was the "right" whereas in the ECUSA it was the "left" doing the pushing. The big difference as I see it, is that the left wing fringe in the ECUSA was far more extreme than the SBC right wing.

Those of us who are left in the Episcopal Church support those changes, yet without our conservative brothers and sisters who have beem driven away, we lack the political support to fend off a radical religious left wing when it comes to sexual fidelity within marriage. Accordingly, we find ourselves labeled “conservative” or “fundamentalist” and are being also driven out the door of our churches.

All in the name of inclusiveness.

More. See this for developments.
Never Forget. Visit here, if you need a reminder.

Monday, January 19, 2004

Buh-bye, Howie. Mr. Ketchup v. Dubya? I'd prefer to see Joe Lieberman (who skipped Iowa) or Dick Gephardt -- but no Mean Dean is good for the country.

More. Man, didn't Dean lose it last night?

Also, as I indicate above, I'm very sorry to see Gephardt leave.
ECUSA News Roundup. In the Atlanta Journal-Constitution we read:
The conservative coalition of Episcopalians who lost their campaign against an openly gay bishop have adopted a new strategy for the new year.

They're not going to play by the rules anymore.
Ahh, yes, good objective reporting. (Is this why this paper is normally referred to as the "urinal-constipational"? The writer later says "Dissident leaders acknowledge that they will break church law..." yet he fails to support this assertion with any evidence that these leaders are planning to break church law. Actually, I might welcome it if one had issued such a statement, but none has been forthcoming.

It would also be fitting on this day that the nation has set aside to honor Martin Luther King, Jr. to reflect that in his famous letter from the Birmingham Jail, he argued that Christians should not follow man-made laws that violate the law of God.

Over in the Orlando Sentinel, Mark I. Pinsky, who is actually a good religion reporter -- he tries to understand his subjects and then report on them -- writes about the struggles the different congregations are having in dealing with GC2K3's decision to reject orthodox Christian teaching. He notes [reg.req'd] that Bishop John Howe repeated his insistence last week that Central Florida "would not join any such move [to breakaway]. He said he preferred to voice his conservative opposition from within the denomination and will recommend that no action be taken when the diocese meets for its annual convention Friday."

Julia Duin in the WaTi has a brief article -- no comments from me -- if you're up to speed on CANN, there will be nothing new here.

Here is the website for the meeting.

Last, Bishop Don ("Sonny Crockett") Johnson of the Diocese of West Tennessee went apoplectic last week, accusing the faithful remnant of "deceitfulness and subversive sabotage justified in the name of serving Christ." He further indicates that he will be reconstituting the Inquisition so that he can root out and destroy any professing member of the faith.

See also, Rev. Dr. Ephraim Radner's response on behalf of the Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes.

Sunday, January 18, 2004

Go Silver and Black (and baby blue). I'm backing the underdog Panthers in the Superbowl.
Minns on Plano East. The following are Martyn Minns comments on Plano East as published in today's TFN:
When three thousand Episcopalians gathered together last weekend at the Hylton Chapel in Woodbridge, what really happened? Was it a surreptitious attempt to take over the Episcopal Church , as an article in this week’s Washington Post suggests? Was it really an Episcopal revival meeting as one observer asked? Or was it merely a time for those who are now at odds with the leadership of the Episcopal Church to lick their wounds and pray for a better day? What was it?

In many ways it was a living demonstration of what the new realignment in the Episcopal Church is all about. We were not defined by geography or churchmanship. Nor were we defined by culture or economics. We came together out of our love for Christ and His Church and we were united in our desire to see His truth and love proclaimed to the ends of the earth. We didn’t spend a great deal of time debating the “hot button” issues, although it was clear that there was great sadness and hurt over the direction of our church and its apparent rejection of Biblical authority.

We came from more than 45 Dioceses. Bishop Duncan of Pittsburgh and Bishop Gerard Mpango from Western Tanganyika reminded us that we represent the vast majority of the Anglican Communion. We were rich and poor, young and old, men and women. We began our time together with the Penitential Office because we recognized that the Anglican Communion is suffering because of the actions of the Episcopal Church and we asked for God’s forgiveness and mercy. We ended our time with a renewed commitment to mission and the proclamation of the Gospel of radical inclusion and profound transformation. Several of the mission agencies represented said that they have never witnessed such an outpouring of interest.

What next? There will be an organizational meeting for the Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes at Christ Church, Plano, Texas, on January 19/20. A charter has been developed, a theological statement prepared and a set of by-laws written.

Twelve dioceses will be represented: Albany; Pittsburgh; San Joaquin in California; South Carolina; Florida and Central Florida; Dallas and Fort Worth; Quincy and Springfield in Illinois; Western Kansas; and Rio Grande, which includes parts of Texas and New Mexico.

Representatives from other sections of the country have also been invited. This gathering will approve the next steps in the formation of the NETWORK and also outline the process by which individual parishes can become members. However, the NETWORK already exists, we saw it in Woodbridge. God is at work!