Thursday, January 08, 2004

Plano East. I'm looking forward to Plano East starting tomorrow. If you see me, please say hello. I don't have a picture, but I'm, uh, stout -- I make G.K. Chesterton look slim -- and desparately in need of a haircut (although I have a very receeding hairline).

problems with blogger

Wednesday, January 07, 2004

Headline News. If the Supreme Court today declared DC a state, if an earthquake leveled San Francisco, if India and Pakistan went nuclear, if John Paul II went to heaven and Castro went to hell today, if anything, this would still be the main headline in the Post tomorrow.

I know one contender next year.

(Are you listening, John Madden?)

More. You can not believe the difference in people's attitudes here in DC -- everyone is walking with a spring in their step.

Still More. My mother and sister have started arguing over who gets tickets for which games next year. My parents have season tickets, but my sister and her husband usually buy them and go. Now they're in demand. Oh, and the home schedule looks good -- no dogs there (Green Bay, Minnesota, Baltimore, Cincinnati, Tampa Bay) -- the "worst" game being, what, Cincinnati? The return of Coach Lewis? (Link to all 2004 opponents)

I listened to his press conference this afternoon carried live on 980 -- gosh, it was good to hear the voice of this old friend.
More Sprawl. The sprawl continues from the Massing article. In a new blog* called The Revealer, which covers religion and the media, Jeff Sharlet (of Killing the Budda) notes an absence of "God talk:"
. . .the Father, the Son, or the Holy Ghost, all of whom are curiously absent from this saga of moral anguish and political maneuver. Bishop Lee, who shocked his longtime allies by voting to confirm the ordination of Robinson, cites Martin Luther King, Jr. as his inspiration; [Rev.] Minns, eyeing a break from the Anglican Communion over what he sees as its embrace of homosexuality, takes his cues from Bishop Peter Akinola of Nigeria.

But the reader is left to pick up this worldly twist for him or herself, since Massing leaves the absence of God uncommented on -- which has The Revealer wondering whether these two priests are really so earthly. Did Massing take the reporter's traditional road? The facts, and nothing -- not even God -- but the facts?
My response would be yes, to a certain degree, Massing took "the reporter's traditional road."

Perhaps, to be charitable to Massing, coming in at this late stage in the game, he has missed much of the earlier conversation regarding the will of God and His revelation. Yet, even at the meeting Massing refers to ("It would be on full display that evening, when some 400 people attended a church meeting") which took place on November 23, there were questions about how to seek the will of God. (As I noted here, Martyn Minns asked that nothing discussed in this session be on the record, so maybe Massing withheld those comments.)

Nevertheless, I know from having spent a little time with Rev. Minns, that if Massing asked (and probably if he didn't) Rev. Minns would've discussed the struggle to remain faithful to the revelation of God and his temporal authorities. Moreover, it is clear from some of the passages in the article that these things were discussed with the reporter. Massing writes of his meeting with five Truro parishioners: "In our conversation, the word ''clear'' as applied to Scripture and its meaning kept coming up." Yet, he does not discuss this at all. With respect to Rev. Minns, he excerpts statements from paragraphs, and these statements are a shadowy portion of the larger discussion omitted from the article (for the sake of clarity, I will bold Martyn's words): "'. . . I saw some profound changes.' God, he added, 'can change lives' -- even those of homosexuals."

Yet, if Massing (and Sharlet) want to see more evidence of the struggle to do the will of God, I suggest they look at some of the documents posted on the Truro website, as well as some of the Anglican websites posted over on my left-hand column.

*Published by the New York University Department of Journalism and New York University's Center for Religion and Media, funded by The Pew Charitable Trusts. Man, where can I go to get funding and editors like that?
Bethany Hamilton Underdog of the Year, 2003. Someone came to my attention near the end of the year last year through a terrible, tragic incident. Bethany
Hamilton, a 13 year old, home schooled girl was doing her training near Tunnels Beach on the morning of October 31, 2003, when she was mauled by a shark. Here is her story of what happened and how she is doing.

Ms. Hamilton was a surfer in training to be the best in the world. According to her website and bios, she may have done it.

She may still do it -- she certainly has the determination.

Moreover, she has a strong faith in God: "I might not be here if I hadn't asked for God's help," she said. "I look at everything that's happened as part of God's plan for my life." A committed believer, she and her family are members of North Shore Christian Church, an evangelical church in Kaua'i.

From what I've read, she's back in the water and is planning on continuing to move on in professional surfing.

I'm rooting for her and look to see her winning titles in the future.

Here is a link to her support page.

Here is her sponsor (who hasn't backed off a bit).
Currently Reading: Avenger by Frederick Forsyth. Early reaction: I Like It. Reminds me of: A little bit of Proteus by Morris West.

Tuesday, January 06, 2004

Grievous Sinners. One final comment on the sprawling Massing article. About 2/3 of the way through, Massing ponders: "So, I wondered, what did this one-eighth-Jewish evangelical who regarded gays and lesbians as grievous sinners think Truro should do?" Actually (and I don't presume to speak for Pastor Minns) we are all grievous sinners (a point Robert Bauer made six weeks ago using exactly this language, see here).

It is not that a small group of people are sinners that's the problem. In fact, it's not even that the ECUSA has decided to downplay sexual infidelity that's the problem. As the article quotes Jeff Fedorchak, just a few sentences down, ''The core issue is not homosexuality but biblical authority." If the ECUSA has decided it can abandon the sole standard of authority (i.e., the Word of God) and just vote on whatever it thinks is right and wrong, why not just abandon all moral codes? Let everyone do what is right in their own mind and be done with it.
Epiphany I never thought I'd see this headline in the WaPo: Rejoicing in God's Presence. It's about El Dia de los Reyes Magos -- 3 Kings Day. Personally, I'd love to see this day emphasized -- the whole 12 days of Christmas emphasized -- and Santa day de-emphasized.

To my Orthodox friends -- may you have a very Merry Christmas tomorrow.

Monday, January 05, 2004

Binky Exposed! The Washington Times has a short article on some of the leading webloggers and gives us a little more information on Binky the Web Elf: he's a "priest, a man in his 30s." It's good to see the mighty CANN empire get a little recognition -- it's the best out there.

Sunday, January 04, 2004

About The Picture. One more thing: about the picture that the NYT used to accompany the article -- did anyone find it curious?
the NYT picture of Truro Church
What I noticed was (1) how empty it was, and (2) how stark it was.

The picture shows Truro Church from the outside after a Sunday morning service, but almost no one has left the Church yet. We see Martyn at the main door and Rev. Marshall Brown is briskly walking to the side door, the one with the handicap ramp. There are two young boys streaking by -- and that's it.

Black and white -- very stark.

What happened that morning was sort of diffferent. Martyn told us the NYT had asked people to congregate in the yard in front of the Church -- this normally happens as the building is old and there's no place inside to informally greet one another. However, because it's a large congregation, folks leave through three main doors. We normally use the ramp because my wife has very bad knees and can't walk up and down stairs. This day, there were people there from the NYT asking us to not use the side doors and to all go out the main door. As a result, there was no one outside when they started taking the pictures. Yet it was a beautiful day -- clear cool skies -- and folks were dressed for Christmas.

I guess warm pictures of an economically and ethnically diverse congregation would just blow the minds of the average NYT reader? Or am I too touchy?
At Halftime -- I'm still not convinced that either team could beat USC. Moreover, I'm persuaded that the best two teams in the country are probably USC and LSU. I also think Michigan would match up better with OU and could be the 3rd best team in the nation. We'll see what happens.
Lee, Minns, and Massing. Michael Massing's lengthy NYT Magazine article, Bishop Lee's Choice, is really more an article about Lee, Canon Martyn Minns and Massing's own biases.

It is, for the most part, a fair article, but what is revealed is the NYTimes mindset of the writer. On one side we find: those with "a literalist interpretation of the Bible," "loud," "dissidents," "military officers, defense contractors and intelligence analysts," a ''theological lynch mob,'' people with a "sharp-edged political agenda,"and "the side of the past." On the other "the lesbian daughter of a fundamentalist preacher who . . . joined the Episcopal Church because 'it's the only one that lets gay people grow spiritually without requiring that they stop being gay,''' "moderate," "faithful churchgoers," "the side of the future."


It goes on from there...

Massing writes
All Saints', together with the Falls Church, Church of the Apostles and Truro Church, constitute a bloc of evangelical churches that have led the charge against Peter Lee. For months their rectors have been talking with the bishop, trying to hammer out a deal that would allow for alternative oversight while leaving broad authority in the hands of the diocese. Leading these discussions has been Martyn Minns, the rector of Truro. To see how the resistance looked from the inside, I arranged to visit him. I was surprised at what I found.
Massing continues:
On matters of morality, [Truro Church] is among the staunchest. Its congregation includes many Republican activists -- people like Diane Knippers, the president of the Institute on Religion and Democracy, which works to expose what it considers the liberal excesses of mainline Protestantism.
It is not clear whether the writer has actually spoken with this so-called Republican activist -- if so, he would again find himself surprised. She is not a cardboard stereotype -- I think he'd be surprised that her primary passion isn't taking on the "liberal excesses of mainline Protestantism" so much as it is for ministries such as Five Talents which she was very instrumental in establishing. [Also, it should be noted that the primary opposition to the liberal elite isn't the political or partisan as much as it ends up being a complete waste of resources and an advancement of the oppressors, such as you see in Cuba and saw in Nicaragua in the 1980's.] Massing should have spoken with Mr. Diane Knippers -- Ed, a wonderful painter, whose paintings of grotesque nudes would be welcome in most post-modern Episcopal churches. See more here. (About these paintings -- think Flannery O'Connor.)

Later in the article, Massing confesses: "I was having a hard time fitting Minns's various parts together, and I told him so. "

Massing meets with a group of five persons at Truro (none was me, as evidenced by this comment "Clean-cut and articulate, the group...") and concludes "Truro seemed far more divided than its public face would suggest. " Umm, yes and no. Truro is made up of individuals, not a Stepford-wives type congregation led by a Svengali; I have not ever sensed a hostility toward gays that the NYTimes evidently expects. This is not your typical "fundamentalist" book-burning church that they were hoping to find -- of course, I believe most "fundamentalist" churches would surprise most NYTimes readers, if they every got to know the members.

One of the good points of the article is that it sets forth the reasons for Peter Lee's decision and in particular the fact that what he first told us was an outright lie.

Based on these two interviews, Massing concludes: "It's a strange paradox: Martyn Minns, the insistent evangelist, is seeking compromise, while Peter Lee, the pragmatic fence sitter, is standing on principle." Yet, is Lee standing on principle? If he really believes the revisionist gospel he preaches, why does he deny equal rights (or rites) to the gay Episcopalians living in Virginia?

While Massing gives Lee the last word -- with a hopeful epitaph, "I like to think that down the road I'll be remembered as a bishop who did the right thing, who brought the diocese through a difficult time and who helped find a way to let people live together with their differences.''

I believe Lee will be remembered as a man who, in a time of trial, abandoned the guidance offered by the Word of God and ripped a huge hole in a sinking Episcopal Church.

More: Rod McFadden, in the comments below, notes
The real news here is Bp Lee's assertion that 30 years from now, no one will care.

It might be that he meant that 30 years from now, no one will be Episcopalian, but I don't think so.
This is an excellent observation.
Lee in the Times. The lengthy, should I say "sprawling" NY Times article about Peter James Lee, the apostate Bishop of Virginia and the reaction of the Diocese has been published. I'm sure I'll have more reaction later, but one of my first problems with it emerges in a context not related to the Episcopal Church or Christianity. The article betrays a fundamental flaw when it characterizes the suburbs of Washington DC in Virginia as "high-tech, sprawl-ridden, conservative suburbs southwest of Washington." Go tell that to the rest of Virginia which sees these same suburbs as the liberal blight upon the Virginia body politic.