Thursday, December 21, 2006

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

The Vote and other thoughts. Yes, it's a long time after the vote at Truro, but there was so much I wanted to write about, but haven't had an opportunity to do so. I want to preserve some notes so I don't forget. Immediately after leaving church on Sunday (December 10), I went straight to the airport for a work related trip. Anyway, here are the notes and other thoughts:
  • We arrived early, because the younger kids were singing at both services. Pulling into the Truro parking lot, we saw the news trucks with the microwave antennaes up. Of course, the kids wanted to know why the TV cameras were there. "Maybe to hear y'all sing?"
  • Debbie and I took a place up front in the pews so we could see the kids singing and had a fun conversation with Megan Walnut who is on the Truro vestry. As you may know, the vestry members of the local congregations have been threatened by the Bishop of Virginia, Peter James Lee, with personal liability if the congregations vote to leave the Diocese and align with the Anglican Communion. We didn't really discuss this however (I know that the weight of this issue has been a very heavy burden for all the vestry members) - our conversation was light -- we were all thankful that Truro does have vestry members and other persons who are dealing with the media.
  • The service started a little unusually -- it was the convening of a parish-wide meeting which would begin just before the service started and be adjourned, but not ended, each day at a set time to allow continuous voting. Attorney and ECUSA lay delegate, Russ Randle believes the continuous voting procedure violates the canons. Personally, I don't see it; I have tremendous respect for Mr. Randle -- I believe he sincerely believes this; nevertheless, my review of the relevant authorities doesn't persuade me. I guess I look at the four corners of a document (in this case, both the canons and Va law) and don't see anything which prohibits it. Mr. Randle explains "In practice, before this controversy arose, the diocese interpreted this rule to forbid multi-day voting." (Hmmm, do I need to point out that before this controversy arose, the diocese also believe the Word of God to be our authority...?)
  • The kids sang at the introit -- and sang well.
  • I voted after the first service and just before the second service. I went in with my son Joe and signed in. This has been a time of prayer and deliberation. I though of many people who weren't able to vote -- some had passed away -- some left after the actions of ECUSA (especially I was thinking of the Hagens -- I see the plaque on the wall for their baby who died) -- I thought of Karen B. who is doing the work of the Lord in another country and therefore barred by canon law from voting -- I thought of my three youngest kids who were with me and are too young to vote, but who are the beneficiaries of our voting. I marked my ballot "Yes" to both question (leaving ECUSA and joining the Anglican Communion/CANA and to allowing the majority party in the voting to retain the property). Together, my son and I dropped the ballot in the box.
  • During the period of (formal) discernment, there have been people I spoke with who didn't see the need for Truro to leave. My response has always been the same -- then that is how you should vote. The Lord does not alway speak through the voice of the majority (isn't that part of the lesson of the various GenCons?), sometime he speaks to a boy or through a donkey. One of these persons is a strong Christian and not a "reappraiser."
  • I was very glad that I had reached a decision about how I was going to vote before Bp. Lee sent his bellicose letter to the churches seeking the Lord's will. In his letter he "threatens like a dockside bully..." (Bolt, A Man For All Seasons). My natural reaction would be to respond in kind, or at least to say "to heck with you, I'm voting against you." Of course, this would be as sinful as his letter was.
  • When the news came out, I found out via the internet -- the BabyBlue blog -- and then was able to read reports on the web (mainly Titus1:9). Kendall Harmon reprinted Martyn's comments and I showed them to Debbie. Martyn led off by noting Sadie Eller's struggles -- Debbie in particular has an attachement to Sadie and has been praying for her and visiting her regularly. Therefore, she could pass on the news to Sadie's daughter, who was particularly touched by Martyn's remarks.
  • The WaPo's first published report was typically reprehensible: "CANA is formally under the Church of Nigeria and Archbishop Peter Akinola, who supports a proposed law in Nigeria that would outlaw public and private gay activity."
  • Conversely, Peter Lee's first response received no attention for it's implicit racism. Racism? Yes, that's right. This is Virginia -- Peter Lee lives in Richmond, the capital of the confederacy and his first press release specifically mentions "Nigeria" or "Nigerian" four times and "Ugandan" once. Moreover, he continues on to state "This is not the future of the Episcopal Church envisioned by our forebears." Having just lived through the "Macaca" campaign, where the WaPo told us daily that these hidden code words are used to convey racist intent, the clear intent of Peter Lee must be a rallying of the old confederate guard.
  • At church last Sunday, before the results were announced, my younger kids and I (my wife was home with the oldest daughter who has mono) were seated in the front row. A gentleman behind us, from Africa, prayed for Martyn who he likened to a modern day Moses. I've been thinking since then that this is very appropriate. Moses spent the first 40 years of his life in an important "career," then the next 40 in a humble career as a shepherd, then the last 40 leading a bunch of griping malcontents though the desert. Martyn started off with a promising career working for Mobil Oil, then went to seminary and became a pastor and, at the time he was seeking retirement, was called to lead a diverse group out of the modern day version of Egypt into the Red Sea, stepping out in faith.
  • Since the results of the vote, there were the front page articles, with pictures, in the WaPo and the Washington Times. This caused my son to ask whether our church is famous. How do you answer a question like that? No, we're not famous. What's happening is significant and has been deemed newsworthy, but it's not fame that anyone is seeking. You'll learn, my son...
  • Finally, there have been many articles indicating this is all about homosexuality. No, that's not true. Yes, the ordination of a non-celibate gay clergyman is the straw which broke the back, but it's so much more. The process of naming VGR to be a bishop happened with the full, active, consent of the majority of the lay, clergy and episcopal delegates to the GenCon2003. By so doing, it was clear to all that there had been a break with the past faith. Unlike the heresies of, say Spong, who denied the divinity of Jesus after being named a bishop, this was an active ratification of something contrary to the Word of God. If VGR were named a bishop and then revealed his non-celibate status, it probably would not have provoked the same reaction. Similarly, if VGR had been faithfully married to one wife but were denying the divinity of Christ and were still nominated and confirmed as a bishop, I believe the result would be exactly the same. (For the record, in my first post on VGR, I called him a "theological moderate" compared with the rest of the slate of nominees for bishop of NH.)
All in all, this has been a very sad time -- not a time of triumph or a time of exultation.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Not your father's Amtrac... See this (and for the unintiated, read this or this for a background on the Amtracs).

BTW, yes, I've been traveling and working and putting together a video of my father's life (speaking of my father, above, a retired Amtrac Bn. CO) . I hope to have something up on YouTube soon.