Thursday, March 04, 2004

Die Frau, Die! From the LA Time's corrections:

Feb. 25, 2004:

Opera review -- A review of Los Angeles Opera's "Die Frau Ohne Schatten" in Tuesday's Calendar section incorrectly characterized the work as "anti-abortion." In fact, there is no issue of abortion in the opera, which extols procreation.

Feb. 26, 2004:

Opera review -- A correction in Wednesday's paper about the review of Los Angeles Opera's "Die Frau Ohne Schatten" incorrectly implied that it was the reviewer who characterized the work as "anti-abortion" in Tuesday's Calendar. As the correction should have made clear, the lead paragraph submitted by the reviewer was incorrectly changed to include the term "anti-abortion." There is no issue of abortion in the opera, which extols procreation.

(via Romenesko )
Stone Mel Gibson!
People are scared in this country [the US]; to say wrong is wrong because the Jewish lobby is powerful - very powerful. Well, so what? For goodness sake, this is God's world! We live in a moral universe. The apartheid government was very powerful, but today it no longer exists. Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, Pinochet, Milosevic, and Idi Amin were all powerful, but in the end they bit the dust.
I can't believe Mel Gibson would say such a thing--

--oh, he didn't?

Who did?

Desmond Tutu?!?!?

Wednesday, March 03, 2004

Don't toss the paper! There's a full page advertisement in yesterday's USA Today for the upcoming Narnia movie, The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe.

Here's a link to an image of the advertisement.

(thanks to nephew Brian for the tip!)

Tuesday, March 02, 2004

D-I-V-O-R-C-E, Pt. 2, prelude 2. I said I'd finish writing about divorce and will get a round tuit someday. In the meantime, there's this from Jack Miles in the LA Times:
Were Jesus to return to Earth, he might be excused for guessing that the Defense of Marriage Act that was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Clinton in 1996 had something to do with the prohibition of divorce. Back in Galilee, Jesus had been fierce in his condemnation of divorce. "What God has joined together," he said, "let no man put asunder" (Mark 10:9). And he allowed for no exceptions to his rule. A man could divorce his wife if she committed adultery, but he could not remarry without committing adultery himself; nor could his ex-wife remarry without repeating her sin.

His disciples objected: "If that's the way it is, then it's better not to marry at all" (Matthew 19:10). But Jesus would not back down. He grounded his opposition not in law (what God said on Mt. Sinai) but in nature (what God did when he created the human race male and female). Thus, even though the Law of Moses permitted divorce, Jesus, arguing in a very Jewish way, trumped Exodus with Genesis to forbid it absolutely. He quoted Genesis 2:24: "Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh." In effect, he maintained that a man who divorced his wife after becoming "one flesh" with her would be committing an unnatural as well as an immoral act if he married another woman.
There's more and you can read it here. I don't agree with the spin he put on these things, especially reasoning from "silence" (I put this in scare quotes, because I do believe that Jesus was not as silent on the nature of marriage as Miles believes; see the Genesis verse Miles quotes), it's still an essay worth reading.

Wall? We hear a lot of the "Wall" imagery when it comes to church state issues. I've noted before, the metaphor originates from a Baptist minister who saw a wall necessary to protect the garden of the Church from the thorns of the state. The imagery was appropriated by the politician Thomas Jefferson in his letter to the Danbury Baptist Association. The metaphor when dormant for a time and then reappeared in Reynolds v. United States (1879), the case that upheld a criminal conviction of polygamy. Justice Robert Jackson argued the Supremes "are likely to make the legal 'wall of separation between church and state' as winding as the famous serpentine wall designed by Mr. Jefferson for the University he founded."

Lately, see the Locke decision last week and yesterday's decision by the California supremes requiring the Catholic Church to provide contraceptives to its employees, I think we need a new wall image. It's not protection from thorns, nor is it serpentine, it's becoming a lot more like that wall in E.A.Poe's The Cask of Amontillado

For a good notes on the California decision, see Peter Sean Bradley.
Uproarious Laughter! Douglas LeBlanc proposes a new and improved form letter for the Presiding Bishop (to replace the one he's using).

In these days of shrinking church budgets, such an offering should be most welcome to the PB.

By just changing the closing, the revisionist diocesan bishops can use this as well.


N.B. (well, maybe not "n.b." -- this isn't something that requires "special attention"). If you told me that I'd ever have to learn to spell "diocesan," I'd have laughed and told you I would need to know the "Euler-Mascheroni constant" first.

Monday, March 01, 2004

Augustine on the Wheat and the Weeds. Yes, I should've published last night, and revised today. Based on my quick dip into Augustine, I was right that he does write of this passage, in fact, it seems pretty important to him. Yet, I was wrong in that Augustine applied it to the world at large -- in fact he applies it to the Church. See Book XX, Ch. 9 of The City of God, in particular. A long quote, but not the whole chapter, in which he does explore the wheat and the tares further:
As to the words following, "And if any have not worshipped the beast nor his image, nor have received his inscription on their forehead, or on their hand," we must take them of both the living and the dead. And what this beast is, though it requires a more careful investigation, yet it is not inconsistent with the true faith to understand it of the ungodly city itself, and the community of unbelievers set in opposition to the faithful people and the city of God. "His image" seems to me to mean his simulation, to wit, in those men who profess to believe, but live as unbelievers. For they pretend to be what they are not, and are called Christians, not from a true likeness but from a deceitful image. For to this beast belong not only the avowed enemies of the name of Christ and His most glorious city, but also the tares which are to be gathered out of His kingdom, the Church, in the end of the world. And who are they who do not worship the beast and his image, if not those who do what the apostle says, "Be not yoked with unbelievers?"(3) For such do not worship, i.e., do not consent, are not subjected; neither do they receive the inscription, the brand of crime, on their forehead by their profession, on their hand by their practice. They, then, who are free from these pollutions, whether they still live in this mortal flesh, or are dead, reign with Christ even now, through this whole interval which is indicated by the thousand years, in a fashion suited to this time.
Moreover, it seems that he has drawn on this passage for a great number of sermons and essays (or letters). For example in Letter 76 (A.D. 402) from Augustine to the Donatists, he writes in Section 2:
Your imagination that you are separating yourselves, before the time of the harvest, from the tares which are mixed with the wheat, proves that you are only tares. For if you were wheat, you would bear with the tares, and not separate yourselves from that which is growing in Christ's field. Of the tares, indeed, it has been said, "Because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold;" but of the wheat it is said, "He that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved." What grounds have you for believing that the tares have increased and filled the world, and that the wheat has decreased, and is found now in Africa alone? You claim to be Christians, and you disclaim the authority of Christ. He said, "Let both grow together till the harvest;" He said not, "Let the wheat decrease, and let the tares multiply." He said, "The field is the world;" He said not, "The field is Africa." He said, "The harvest is the end of the world;" He said not, "The harvest is the time of Donatus." He said, "The reapers are the angels;" He said not, "The reapers are the captains of the Circumcelliones." But you, by charging the good wheat with being tares, have proved yourselves to be tares; and what is worse, you have prematurely separated yourselves from the wheat. For some of your predecessors, in whose impious schism you obstinately remain, delivered up to persecutors the sacred manuscripts and the vessels of the Church (as may be seen in municipal records); others of them passed over the fault which these men confessed, and remained in communion with them; and both parties having come together to Carthage as an infatuated faction, condemned others without a hearing, on the charge of that fault which they had agreed, so far as they themselves were concerned, to forgive, and then set up a bishop against the ordained bishop, and erected an altar against the altar already recognised. Afterwards they sent to the Emperor Constantine a letter begging that bishops of churches beyond the sea should be appointed to arbitrate between the bishops of Africa. When the judges whom they sought were granted, and at Rome had given their decision, they refused to submit to it, and complained to the Emperor or against the bishops as having judged unrighteously. From the sentence of another bench of bishops sent to Arles to try the case, they appealed to the Emperor himself. When he had heard them, and they had been proved guilty of calumny, they still persisted in their wickedness. Awake to the interest of your salvation! Love peace, and return to unity! Whenever you desire it, we are ready to recite in detail the events to which we have referred.
More pointedly, in his lectures on the Gospel of John, Augustine notes something he omitted in a prior lecture:
...but what I perhaps omitted to mention there, the Lord, by His own perturbation of spirit, thought proper to indicate this also, that it is necessary to bear with false brethren, and those tares that are among the wheat in the Lord's field until harvest-time, because that when we are compelled by urgent reasons to separate some of them even before the harvest, it cannot be done without disturbance to the Church. Such disturbance to His saints in the future, through schismatics and heretics, the Lord in a way foretold and prefigured in Himself, when, at the moment of that wicked man Judas' departure, and of his thereby bringing to an end, in a very open and decided way, his past intermingling with the wheat, in which he had long been tolerated, He was troubled, not in body, but in spirit. For it is not spitefulness, but charity, that troubles His spiritual members in scandals of this kind; test perchance, in separating some of the tares, any of the wheat should also be uprooted therewith.

I need to make clear, that these passages aren't troubling to me because they're from Augustine, whom I freely admit I rever. It's because he argues from Scripture, which is the authority left for the Church, that causes me to ponder these issues.


Please don't miss these additional comments by The Rev. Frederic D. Huntington.

Sunday, February 29, 2004

Yokes, Wheat and the Church. Today, in our Sunday school class, Rev. Richard Crocker posed an interesting question, that I am still pondering. He directed us to the passage in 2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1 which begins, "Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?" He next directed us to the parable of what is normally called the wheat and the tares (or "The Parable of the Weeds" NIV), Matthew 13:24-30, which Jesus explained just a few verses down at 13:36-43. Here is the heart of the explanation
He answered, "The one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world, and the good seed stands for the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one, and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels.
"As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. "
At issue then, is which of these two passages do we follow? Are we to shun those who are clearly apostate? Should we flee idolatry? Or do we remain in an apostate church, waiting for God's judgment in the end?

Rev. Crocker asked some more probing questions. Does the 2nd Cor. passage really apply to a denomination? Someone pointed out that our local fellowship has remained faithful and has taken steps to segregate from the apostasy. He also asked whether the parable of the weeds applies to the world broadly or the Church. I said that I seemed to recall St. Augustine basing City of God on this parable and that Augustine seemed to interpret it as the world broadly.*

My first tentative thought is that the two passages can be reconciled, the parable applies to the world broadly. We are to be in the world, not of it, and therefore cannot separate ourselves from the world (nor should we). On the other hand, the Church is called to purity and should not be involved in apostasy. Those who want to pursue apostasy should be confronted and separated.

But Rev. Crocker pointed out that in the parable Jesus does refer to the field as "the world" initially, yet at the end he indicates this applies to his kingdom.

Moreover, it is the angels who will do the weeding, not us.

This is all well to think of. Maybe I should refer it to the Department of Theology at University of Blogistan (where the faculty doesn't seem at all fearful of "publish or perish.")

Also, if you go with the notion that it's better to hang together, even if you're hanging with the wrong crowd, then. . .

Well, maybe it's like my initial reaction to Peter Lee's claim that schism was a more terrible sin than apostasy: "So why don't you go back to the Catholic Church?"

More later, I'm sure. Your ideas are welcome.

*I am not sure about this and may hold off publishing this until later and I can resolve this issue.