Security is improving in Iraq. After the recent sectarian violence that ripped apart neighborhoods and whole villages, some people are taking a risk and moving back home. That re-integration is bringing tensions and triumphs to different areas of the country.
Daily Archives: June 17, 2008
Rocco Mediate’s head swiveled about as he walked up the fairway of the sudden-death hole of the U.S. Open on Monday. Somebody would catch his attention, and his eyes would dart over and he’d wave or make a crack. Tiger Woods’s gaze, on the other hand, remained fixed on the ground, a few feet ahead of his steps. He was, as always, locked in, focused and self-contained.
The fans greeted Mediate with fraternal affection and Woods with reverence. Most were probably rooting for Rocco, but only because Woods, the inevitable victor, has risen above mere human status and become an embodiment of immortal excellence. That frozen gaze of his looks out from airport billboards, TV commercials and the ad pages. And its ubiquity is proof that every age finds the heroes it needs.
In a period that has brought us instant messaging, multitasking, wireless distractions and attention deficit disorder, Woods has become the exemplar of mental discipline. After watching Woods walk stone-faced through a roaring crowd, the science writer Steven Johnson, in a typical comment, wrote: “I have never in my life seen a wider chasm between the look in someone’s eye and the surrounding environment.”
Kenyan Anglican bishops will, together with a section of their fellow Africans, skip next month’s Lambeth Conference in Britain in the latest twist in the controversy over same-sex marriages that has threatened to tear the 77 million-member church apart.
The bishops, their spouses and other senior clergy will instead attend the Global Anglican Future Conference in Jerusalem that runs from June 22 to 29, said Archbishop Benjamin Nzimbi.
The decision to boycott the Lambeth conference was due, he said, to the church’s failure to resolve the issue of the ordination of homosexual bishops within the Episcopal Church in the United States.
Dr Jensen was unamused when last week the bishop at the centre of the global battle over homosexuality entered into a civil union with his long-time partner.
It was just another moment, Dr Jensen said, when the proponents of “radical theology” had crossed boundaries. “Well, that’s all right. The rest of us must call them back and get on with our business of defending and promoting the Gospel of Jesus.”
Following Bishop Mark Lawrence’s consecration in January, he, the Cathedral Vestry, and I have been working to develop a schedule for my long-delayed sabbatical and also my transition to retirement, originally envisaged to take place within twelve to eighteen months of Bishop’s Salmon’s own retirement.
The Diocese provides periods of sabbatical leave for every seven years of clergy service, which in the fourteen years of my Deanship, not least because of the delay in Bishop Salmon’s retirement, I have not until now felt able to undertake. By scheduling such a leave for the last three months of this year and the first three months of 2009, my hope is to facilitate as seamless as possible a transition to the call of my successor. Bishop Lawrence has enthusiastically agreed to work closely with the Cathedral Vestry and Chapter in seeking God’s vision for the Cathedral during his episcopate as well as the most vocationally qualified person to become Sixth Dean of South Carolina and next Rector of the Cathedral Parish.
Bishop Scarfe [of Iowa] said some Episcopal churches were reporting water in their basements, but otherwise no damage, but the same cannot be said for businesses and property owned by Episcopalians. As of last Friday afternoon all of downtown Des Moines was under a voluntary evacuation order. As a precaution, staff at St. Paul’s Cathedral were encouraged to leave early. The cathedral is located about four blocks from the Des Moines River.
The Cedar River has come within a block of Grace Church, Cedar Rapids, but the church is located on a bluff and should remain dry. In addition to Des Moines and Cedar Rapids, the communities of Cedar Falls, Mason City, Ottumwa, and Waverly suffered significant flooding and destruction.
The Rev. Pat Genereux, rector of ChristChurch, Burlington, is coordinating information and relief efforts for the Diocese and the Iowa Interfaith Relief Council. Bishop Scarfe has established a crisis relief fund.
Many of the larger communities in the Diocese of Quincy are under state of emergency or flood warnings. Christ Church, Moline, is only about four blocks from the Mississippi River. St. John’s Quincy, the mother church of the diocese, is seven blocks from the Mississippi River. St. Andrew the Apostle in the see city of Peoria is only two blocks from Peoria Lake, swollen by the Illinois River. On June 14, Bishop Keith Ackerman of Quincy reported no damage to any churches, but many members of those and other congregations have sustained significant losses, he said. The Rev. Phil Fleming, deacon, is coordinating disaster relief efforts for Quincy, Bishop Ackerman added.
Here, in some of the best soil in the world, the stunted stalks of Dave Timmerman’s newly planted corn are wilting in what sometimes look more like rice paddies than the plains, the sunshine glinting off of pools of collected water. Although time is running out, he has yet to plant all of his soybean crop because the waterlogged soil cannot support his footsteps, much less heavy machinery.
Timmerman’s small farm has been flooded four times in the past month by the Wildcat Creek, a tributary of the Cedar River which overflowed its banks at a record 31 feet last week, causing catastrophic damage in nearby Cedar Rapids and other eastern Iowa towns and farmsteads.
“In the lean years, we had beautiful crops but they weren’t worth much,” Timmerman said, surveying his farm, which his family has tended since his great-great-grandfather. “Now, with commodity prices sky high, mother nature is throwing us all these curve balls. I’m 42 years old and these are by far the poorest crops I’ve ever seen.”
And he added, “It’s going downhill by the day.”
As the floodwaters receded in some areas, they rose in others.
What prompted these legal disputes over church property?
My guess is that there are about 100 congregations around the country involved in this type of litigation. Most of the lawsuits have involved more conservative congregations leaving national denominations due to a perception that the national denominations have become too liberal, particularly on issues involving homosexuality.
The breakaway congregations want to retain ownership of church property, but the national denominations claim that they own the property and that the breakaway congregations forfeit any right to the property when they leave.
The primary type of property at issue in these disputes is the congregation’s house of worship. For example, in a case taking place in Virginia, the fight is over the historic Falls Church, where George Washington was a church warden. But disputes also involve other sorts of property. One case, for example, involves a corporate jet that the local congregation bought.
1. Do you think an Anglican Covenant is necessary and/or will help to strengthen the interdependent life of the Anglican Communion? Why or why not?
It would be helpful at this point in time for the Anglican Communion to make up its mind whether the needs of the world and the mission of the church in response to those needs will be better served by a more strictly and centrally regulated structure, or by a more open model deployed for ministry. We favor the latter as more in keeping with Christ?s commission to the church, which is focused not on itself and its structures but on the proclamation of the saving message to a wounded world. It appears that the more we attempt to secure our inner agreements the more we focus on the things that divide us. The Anglican Communion has been known until recently as a body governed not by statute but by bonds of affection, and a Covenant, if needed, should, unlike the present proposal, focus on the affection rather than the bondage. Such a Covenant would be tolerant of diversity and encourage bilateral cooperation in meeting local and global needs through partnerships rather than promoting more complex and rigid structures, as the present proposal seems to advise.
I recently had occasion to attend a Christian gathering which involved, among many other things, a particular speaker who gave a deeply insightful, cogent, and moving defense of the authority, trustworthiness, and life changing power of God’s Holy Scriptures. Along the way, the presenter, a justly famous scholar, pastor, and writer, made one side comment that had this Anglo-Catholic boy wincing. As an illustration of the glad news of post-medieval Anglicanism’s embrace of the centrality of scripture, he noted the apparently true fact that, whereas prior to the Reformation, each newly minted priest of the English Church was presented with a chalice, each has since then been presented with a bible.
Alas, I cannot see this apparent triumph of word over sacrament as a particularly celebratory development. The replacement of chalice with bible would seem to represent precisely the sort of rejection of the sacramental world of the Church Fathers that the English Reformers sought to more forcefully reclaim. It also would tend to mark the Anglican as a theologically Protestant Church in the more recent sense, rather than one in continuity with the great Catholic Tradition.
Following the speaker’s presentation was a panel discussion during which was mentioned a statement a very few months back by an Archbishop of the wider Anglican Church: “There is a difference between taking scripture seriously and taking it literally or as being inerrant or infallible. The books of the Bible are the inspired response to revelation, but the responses are fallible, and responses are not identical with the revelation for the ”˜word of God comes to us through the words of men’ to quote one theologian.” The panelist who mentioned this (full disclosure: it was this writer, who did not believe it proper at the time to discuss his reservations about the above-mentioned remark) considered it both representative of the understanding of a significant portion of the progressive vanguard who dominate the councils of The Episcopal Church and other relatively small parts of the Communion, and as problematically simplistic and wrong-headed.
The primary implication of the Archbishop’s proposed hermeneutic would seem to be that Divine Revelation, inasmuch as it has any objective reality, takes place off the page, as it were, and is communicated to us by error-prone, culturally conditioned, and scientifically ignorant men whose primary role is to misunderstand and thereby obscure the purity of the Divine Revelation. Holy Scripture, on this view, is an essentially human artifact that at best records subjective encounters with the divine, but both the experience itself and record thereof are filtered through the fallible, contingent mÃ©tier of ignorant sinners. The goal of biblical interpretation, then, is to clear away the dross of human error so as to tease out the nuggets of divinity that lie hidden underneath. Generally speaking, these little nuggets are held to be fairly incomplete and disjointed, leaving a vague God about whom we have very little real information. The human author, in this understanding, is set against the divine inspirer rather than the two being combined in an incarnational whole.
Stepping back to the speaker I heard, to whom I will henceforth refer, with no intention of being either precious or pretentious, as my Evangelical Brother, let us suppose that I have heard him properly, that his offhand remark was indeed indicative of a position he holds regarding the precedence of scripture over the sacraments, and that I indeed disagree with him in this regard. Were he and I to enter a debate, we would both share a view of Holy Scripture as both inerrant and infallible as regards that which is necessary for salvation, and a most significant part of what is necessary for salvation is accurate, objective knowledge about who God is in Himself.
My Evangelical Brother may well present arguments, based on scripture, supporting his position regarding its primacy. I would present mine, based on scripture, regarding the equal importance of the sacraments as commanded by Christ. We would both share a view of Divine Revelation as incarnational, that God has drawn the authors of scripture into His fullness such that they are, through divine inspiration, capable of presenting His self-revelation without their contingency or sinfulness obscuring their presentation of His objective actuality. In its humanity, scripture can be studied critically; in its divinity, scripture is both authoritative and transforming. Scripture is not a scientific textbook as scientific knowledge is not necessary to salvation. Scientific knowledge changes nothing of what scripture reveals regarding the character of God ”“ or of man, who is as much a metaphysical as corporeal being. Literalism, a modern error from which the Anglican Communion is generally free, never enters the discussion at all. Scripture is not Divine Dictation and neither I nor my Evangelical Brother would see it that way.
Note that one who shares the Archbishop’s view ”“ to whom I will, with the same intention stated above, refer as our Progressive Friend ”“ cannot possibly enter into this discussion. The moment he begins to converse with the two of us on matters relating to scripture, the dispute we have been engaged in ends and a new one must begin, one concerned with fundamentally different matters. Our Progressive Friend does not share our incarnational understanding of scripture, and cannot accord to it the same authority as that recognized by my Evangelical Brother and me. His disagreement with us will not be over the interpretation of scripture, but rather its definition. We cannot be in dispute over the content of Divine Revelation until we have gotten past our disagreement over its fundamental nature and this conversation can only take place when and if our Progressive Friend acknowledges his basic differences with us.
And this our Progressive Friends have thus far strongly refused to do. It is understandable that they would prefer not to see themselves in such a light. But simple honesty should require them to acknowledge the chasm between their views and ours. The situation in Anglicanism has gotten too dire for anything less.
–This article appeared in the April 27, 2008 edition of The Living Church magazine and is posted with the author’s permission
The Church of England’s first gay marriage has left its faithful ‘unsettled’ and ‘anxious’, a senior figure said yesterday.
It was the first admission from C of E leaders that the wedding of two male Anglican clerics at a prominent London church has worsened the Church’s crisis over gay rights.
The decision by the Reverend Martin Dudley to defy the Church’s laws and stage the ceremony – which contained large chunks of the traditional marriage service – came just as bishops from around the world are preparing to meet to try to find a compromise.
This leads us to a problem with the liturgy that not only demonstrates how its actions runs counter to Scripture, but also presents a significant issue for the Church of England to address if no disciplinary action is taken on those who carried it out. Having identical vows for both partners of a same-sex marriage, while at the same time drawing on the Ephesians 5 model for those vows, implies that there has been a fundamental misunderstanding in the church’s application of Ephesians 5 up to this point. The BCP service indicates clearly that the sexual distinctiveness of the two partners is critical to understanding the mystery of the sexual union of the spouses – the gay union liturgy implies that it is not.
This leads us to wonder whether the claim that same-sex marriage undermines heterosexual marriage may actually have a great deal of merit. If the Church of England accepts and permits this gay union liturgy (which we have clearly seen is a gay marriage liturgy), then it will implictly condone this dimunition of the sexual model in Ephesians 5. If the gay marriage liturgy is permitted to be used again, or if it is not condemned and those who took part in it disciplined, the Church will by its actions implicitly accept that the analogy Paul uses in Ephesians 5 with explicit roles for the sexes is not in any sense a uniquely God ordained signify of the work of Christ.
Furthermore, to not condemn this liturgy and to discipline those who took part, the Church will undermine the guidelines of the House of Bishops found in Issues in Human Sexuality, Some Issues in Human Sexuality and the Pastoral Guidance on Civil Partnerships, that same-sex activity falls short of the behaviour expected of Christians, let alone clergy, fo the gay marriage liturgy clearly equates the validity of same-sex activity and married sex.
We have seen clearly that the liturgy used in this service is not just one of neutral commitment (as Colin Slee, the Dean of Southwark Cathedral has claimed), but rather is a service deliberately intended to mimic the BCP rite of marriage and to replicate the core theology of sexual union and the signification of the union of Christ and the Chuch. that lies at the heart of that historic text. Unless the Bishop of London and the Archbishop of Canterbury take clear action, not only to denounce the liturgy but also to discipline the clergy who took part in the ceremony (the officiant and the participants), they open themselves up to being responsible for implicitly accepting a major shift in Church of England doctrine. Nothing less than a definitive repudiation of this text and a clear steer that the doctrine of marriage has not changed will do, for the gay union liturgy is clearly not just a “blessing” but is actually a blatant attempt to establish gay marriage as a given within the Anglican doctrinal framework.
E-mail is at risk of killing its own usefulness. Daily e-mail volume is now at 210 billion a day worldwide and increasing, according to The Radicati Group, a market research firm.
The burden of managing all that e-mail has prompted a backlash. One extreme reaction is “e-mail bankruptcy,” where users throw up their hands and erase their entire inboxes. Many admit the distraction makes it near impossible to get work done, or even socialize normally.
Kelly Kirk, who works for a trade group in downtown Washington, D.C., says checking e-mail comes between her work and her personal life.
“I’m constantly ducking my head under tables during events to check my e-mail. I hid behind a tree once when my boyfriend said I wasn’t allowed to check my BlackBerry,” Kirk says. To get “real work” done, she says she now turns off the computer and her BlackBerry.