Daily Archives: October 29, 2007

Kendall Harmon: The Powerful Woman With No Lines And No Name

One of my friends has the delightful habit of sending me New Yorker cartoons. Certainly one of the best features a man behind a bookstore counter on top of which is prominently featured Allen Bloom’s The Closing of the American Mind. He has a big smile on his face and says to the customer “I haven’t read it, but it’s a great book!”

Alas, that is too often a true reflection of how many Episcopalians actually relate to Holy Scripture.

It is such a fabulous book, but we only experience it when we learn to be Scripture students and spiritually attentive Bible readers.

Consider the story of when Simon the Pharisee has the preacher over for dinner (Luke 7:36-50). As for many a good Episcopalian, having the rector over is a big deal for Simon. Etiquette must be properly followed. Invitations must be carefully issued. Everything must be done in correct Anglican fashion, decently and in order.
Then a woman from the wrong side of the tracks crashes the party. She does not have an invitation, and she violates every protocol. Indeed, having messed up all those things, she cannot even give to Jesus the gift she wants to give him in the way she wants to give it. Her heart is so broken by the depth of Jesus’ love for her that when she simply gets behind him she starts crying, and then before you know it the ointment intended for his head ends up on his feet.

Simon is livid, and has a conversation with himself about Jesus’ failure to get upset and to follow the proper procedure when something like this happens.

But Jesus marches to a different drummer. “The heart has its reasons of which reason knows nothing,” Pascal said, and Jesus not only spoke in but also heard the language of love. He saw more than what this woman was doing; he heard why she was doing it. She was loved, and wanted to find a way to say thank you.

Many a parent has accepted a very strange gift from a child with pleasure and joy ”” because it was given out of love. I remember Mom showing me early letters I had written. One of her favorites, written when I was about 6, read: “Dear Mom: I hate you. Love, Kendall.” There isn’t a parent reading this who doesn’t understand why my mother had it in the file.

Pleased about what the woman was doing, Jesus entered into Simon’s conversation with himself and told him a story. Two people owned someone money, one owed 5 million dollars, and the other 50,000. They both had all their debts erased. Who do you suppose was more grateful? Simon knew the answer and gave it.

Then Jesus commended the woman as a heroine in the kingdom of God to Simon. Do you see her, he said. She did what she did because she knew how completely she had made a mess of her life and therefore how profoundly God had forgiven her. As a result, she loved much and wanted to find a way to say it.

What a story. The heroine is a woman who has no name and no lines. That does not sound like a prescription for a successful play, does it, to have the key character without a name and with nothing to say?

But Jesus specialized in turning the world upside down. This woman has the real power that changes the world, the power of the Holy Spirit that enables her to be loved by God in Christ and then to seek no matter what to try to express it to others.

I hope to meet her in heaven some day. In the meantime I am going to plunge myself into the Bible and try to read it carefully and let it hit me with the full force God intends it to. It really is a great book.

–The Rev. Canon Dr. Kendall S. Harmon is editor of the Anglican Digest and Convenor of this blog

Posted in * By Kendall, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Consents Given for the Election of Mark Lawrence as Next South Carolina Bishop

The Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina has been notified a majority of bishops with jurisdiction and a majority of Standing Committees have consented to the election of the Very Rev. Mark Lawrence as the 14th bishop of South Carolina. A consecration is planned for Saturday, January 26th, 2008. The diocese looks forward to a continued vigorous mission under its new bishop.

Update: An ENS article is there.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops

Boston Globe: The Red Sox make a habit of success

This four-game sweep proceeded with delightful inexorability to its 4-3 conclusion last night. As is to be expected in any World Series, there were bumps along the way as the Colorado Rockies strived valiantly to avoid defeat, but the Red Sox countered every threat to their preeminence. What a difference from the surprise and relief three years ago when the Sox won their first championship of Major League Baseball in 86 years.

Read it all and congratulations to Red Sox fans.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Sports

In Chicago, Episcopalians grill bishop candidates

They shared personal tragedies, called on the church to defend the downtrodden and the marginalized, and defended their own answers to God’s calling.

Eight finalists for the next Episcopal bishop of Chicago tackled immigration, stewardship, gentrification and the full inclusion of gays and lesbians during a tour of the diocese that ended Sunday.

Traditionally called a walkabout, the tour gave parishioners their only opportunity to grill the diverse slate of candidates before the election at the annual diocesan convention in Wheeling Nov. 10. The new bishop will succeed Bishop William Persell, who has led the diocese since 1999.

With two Africans and three women, including a lesbian, the slate reflects the changing face of the church. It also includes two local priests, indicating that some parishioners want a bishop who they believe already grasps their needs.

But in a diocese that includes 126 parishes in the city, suburbs and rural regions as far west as Galena, even the local contenders learned that the needs vary and that it was virtually impossible to have all the right answers.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops

Ulster Anglican parishes deny Catholicism link

Anglican religious group ‘the traditional rite’ today played down reports that members have asked the Vatican for a “full, corporate, sacramental union” with the Catholic Church.

The request, if successful, could result in some parish communities in Ireland – including a number in the north – being received formally into the Catholic Church, according to The Irish Catholic newspaper.

It stated that the parishes in counties Down, Tyrone and Laois could be affected.

They are part of the ‘traditional rite’ within the Church of Ireland who objected to the introduction of the ordination of women by the Irish House of Bishops.

Overall this could involve some 400,000 Anglicans world-wide, although only a few in Ireland would be involved.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of Ireland, Other Churches, Roman Catholic

Sydney Morning Herald: A daily crisis of love and faith

BRIAN McKINLEY’S plea is simple but heart-felt. “I’d like people to appreciate how hard it is, almost every day of one’s life, to have crisis and division in a church I love because of something that is an intimate part of the way God created me.”

McKinley, a Canberra public servant and lay preacher, is a passionate Christian who lives in a monogamous, committed same-sex relationship with another Christian.

“Do you wake up every morning as a married person and think you are part of the problem dividing the church? I live with this nearly every day. There’s a huge cost,” he says.

“I’m nearly 60, I’m OK. What about the 22-year-old who has just discovered he’s a poofter, but he loves Jesus. How will he cope with that? Some kill themselves.”

McKinley was one of 250 delegates at the Anglican synod in Canberra who sat in silence, lights dimmed, to hear the anonymous testimony of four gay and lesbian Anglicans.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church of Australia, Anglican Provinces, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

Betsy Hart: Sexuality primer

Seduction and sensuality aren’t “bad,” just the opposite ”” they are wonderful things that were meant for marriage. So, our children’s response to such things is not something for our kids to feel “guilty” about, but to orient rightly.

What a gift we give our kids when we communicate that to them.

And so, when my children do come across that garbage, I don’t want them to just turn away and say, “I can’t look; it’s wrong.” I want to help them to think: “How sad that God’s gift of sensuality would be used in such a cheap way.”

At the same time, our kids have to understand ”” we have to tell them ”” that they are in a culture that pushes them, particularly our girls, to be hyper-sexualized ”” and it’s all part of the same, empty continuum. A dangerous continuum that will never recognize that sensuality outside of marriage is just not, well, good enough for them.

Now, as a mom to four young kids, I’m not naive to think this orientation offers any magical protection for anyone. But I do think we parents have to parent boldly, and in countless ways stand up against the culture and for our kids. This is one of them.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Sexuality, Teens / Youth

The Bishop of Huron expects same-sex motion to pass

It’s “highly likely” Anglicans in the Diocese of Huron, which includes churches in Waterloo Region, will vote on same-sex blessings at their next decision-making meeting in the spring, the diocese’s bishop says

“I can certainly say it’s highly likely that something will come forward,” Rt. Rev. Bruce Howe said yesterday in a news conference in London, the seat of the diocese.

When asked if he thought such a vote would pass, Howe said “My guess would be yes.”

Howe made his comments just days after delegates at diocesan decision-making meetings, called synods, in Ottawa and Montreal approved blessings for same-sex couples in civil marriages.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

Henry Brinton: Do-it-yourself Christianity

As a Presbyterian pastor, I’m often approached by people who are on a search for truth, and as I attempt to help them, I draw on my religious tradition, sacred Scriptures and theological training. Unfortunately, more and more people are taking their quest directly to the Internet, surfing for religious as well as political insights.

I’m convinced that the Christian faith is becoming more like Wikipedia and less like Encyclopedia Britannica. Instead of time-tested religious insights, people are accepting “what others are saying.”

A generation ago, people turned to trusted authorities such as newspapers and mainline churches to get information. But trust in such institutions has fallen over the past 30 years, eroding the relationship between Americans and a number of traditional sources of trust. A poll called the General Social Survey has asked people whether they have “a great deal of confidence” in social institutions, and their answers reveal a clear decline.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Religion & Culture

The Economist: in the U.S., Fear is Booming

No surprise, then, that Nightmare has company. Just up the Hudson river is Headless Horseman, where Washington Irving’s fictional and famously decapitated equestrian has returned with dozens of creepy friends in tow. At Terror on the Fox in Green Bay, Wisconsin, visitors can look forward to vertigo, claustrophobia and the scurrying and slithering of live rats and snakes. And Mountville, Pennsylvania’s Field of Screams unleashes a bloodthirsty butcher on adults while youngsters are shunted off to Little Screamers, a non-scary hayride. In fact, some 30m American adults will spend over $650m at America’s more than 1,200 haunted attractions this year.

This is all part of a broader boom for Halloween, which bridges the retailers’ gap between the return to school and Christmas. Stores like Target and Wal-Mart start selling costumes, sweets and other ghoulish offerings as early as Labour Day in early September. Total spending is up more than 50% since 2005, with Americans poised to lay out a record $5 billion this year, according to the National Retail Federation, a trade association.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch

El Camino Real Sees Reasons for Hope

The Diocese of El Camino Real adopted its 2008 budget Oct. 27 by unanimous voice vote, a turn of events that was a pleasant surprise to those who recall past annual conventions at which every line item was cause for extensive debate.

Bishop-elect Mary Gray-Reeves, who has been in the office for six weeks, attributed the unanimity to the amount of money there was to fight over.

“We don’t have a lot of money,” she said in an interview during a break in the convention.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Diocesan Conventions/Diocesan Councils

Executive Council Resolution on the New Orleans House of Bishops Meeting

Via email:

Resolved, the Executive Council of the Episcopal Church, meeting in Dearborn, Michigan, expresses its appreciation to the House of Bishops for undertaking the monumental task of trying to clarify the conflict between the canons of the Episcopal Church and the demands raised by the Dar E [sic] Salaam communiqué, and be it further

Resolved, the Executive Council affirms with the House of Bishops the essential and renewed study of human sexuality as noted in the “listening process” of the Lambeth Conference of 1998, and be it further

Resolved, that the House of Bishops’ statement exacerbated feelings of exclusion felt by many of the lesbian and gay members of our church by defining Resolution B033 from the 75th General Convention to include lesbian and gay people, and be it further

Resolved, that by calling particular attention to the application of B033 to lesbian and gay person [sic], it may inappropriately suggest that an additional qualification for the episcopacy has been imposed beyond those contained in the constitutions and canons of the church, and be it further

Resolved, that while B033 focuses on the consent process for bishops, the broader impact is to discourage the full participation by lesbians and gay persons in the life of the church and enshrine discrimination in the policies of the Episcopal Church, and be it further

Resolved, that the Executive Council acknowledge with regret the additional pain and estrangement inflicted on lesbian and gay members of the church, and we pledge to work toward a time when our church will fully respect the dignity of every human being in all aspects of the life of our church.

Update: Ralph Webb has some comments on this here.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), Sept07 HoB Meeting, TEC Bishops

A Life Saver Called "Plumpynut"

You’ve probably never heard a good news story about malnutrition, but you’re about to. Every year, malnutrition kills five million children — that’s one child every six seconds. But now, the Nobel Prize-winning relief group “Doctors Without Borders” says it finally has something that can save millions of these children.

It’s cheap, easy to make and even easier to use. What is this miraculous cure? As CNN’s Anderson Cooper reports, it’s a ready-to-eat, vitamin-enriched concoction called “Plumpynut,” an unusual name for a food that may just be the most important advance ever to cure and prevent malnutrition.

“It’s a revolution in nutritional affairs,” says Dr. Milton Tectonidis, the chief nutritionist for Doctors Without Borders.

Another from the long list of have-not-had-time-to-post-yet stuff. Read it all or better yet take the time to watch the video (a little over 11 minutes)

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Globalization, Health & Medicine, Hunger/Malnutrition

A Response from the Executive Council of The Episcopal Church to The Draft Anglican Covenant

Section 3: “Our Commitment to Confession of the Faith”
Reactions to this section are highly mixed, leading us to ask if this section is particularly necessary to the Covenant. Section 3: “Our Commitment to Confession of the Faith,” as it stands, incorporates a wide range of commitments many of which are broadly accepted but some of which imply agreement to as yet undetermined Communion-wide understandings. There seems to be little in this section that cannot be understood as growing from the positive affirmations of our Anglican Christian identity developed in Section 2: “The Life We Share,” or in Section 4: “The Life We Share With Others.” If Section 3 is to be retained, many believe that it needs considerable reworking.

While the commitments contained in Section 3 are commendable, the language used for some of them is subject to various interpretations and misinterpretations. It seems to many of us unwise to place language of this sort within the Covenant without having a clear and agreed-upon definition of what these terms mean.

For example, what does the phrase “biblically derived moral values” mean and how are such values determined? In the American context, the phrase, “biblically-derived moral values,” is fraught with baggage. On the individual level this phrase can convey a facile and judgmental approach to Christian moral ethics and decision-making not in keeping with the best of Anglicanism. Historically, some of the greatest national sins of conquest and subjugation have been defended by appeal to “biblically-derived moral values.”

Similarly, we might ask what understanding of human nature is operative in the phrase “the vision of humanity”? Clearly, Holy Scripture contains a very complex and, at times, paradoxical vision of humanity. Using a phrase like this in the context of the covenant seems to ignore these complexities and the difficulties that Christians have had through the centuries in understanding and applying this biblical vision of humanity to their lives and societies.

We would suggest that it is disputes over concepts like these that have led to some of the current challenges before the Anglican Communion. We doubt that using such terms in the body of the covenant without further definition would advance the interest of unity or a common understanding of what the terms mean and how they should be applied.

Read it carefully and read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Covenant, Anglican Identity, Episcopal Church (TEC)

Andrew McNair: The Reality of the Devil

The new millennium marks for many teens and young adults a renewed interest in spirituality.

What type of spirituality? Christian? No. Islamic? No. How about an Eastern spirituality like Taoism? Wrong again.

Try Satanism.

That’s right. The occult movement of Satanism ranks number one among teens and young adults as their preferred spirituality.

We could dismiss the ascendancy of Satanism in the United States as a fad of the young; something they will grow out of with time. In others words, it’s nothing to worry about.

In my judgment, that’s the wrong approach to the spiritual and cultural phenomenon of Satanism. People need to understand that Satanic spirituality leaves deep spiritual and psychological scars on its victims. Christians should know how to recognize and combat satanic spirituality. Where do we begin?

Read it all.

Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Other Churches, Roman Catholic, Theology