Daily Archives: July 27, 2009

Sarah Hey: Traditional Episcopalians Remaining In TEC Need A Third Way

But the fact is that there is a large group of conservatives within TEC who:

— have recognized for some years now that the Instruments of Unity have failed and will not provide relief or establish any sort of common order ever
— wish to “engage in strategic, thoughtful action within TEC,” not to “reform TEC” but to work within various local contexts for numerous possible goals and outcomes
— have no interest in “patient and enduring witness” only without massive differentiation and strategic action
— wish to be differentiated from the national structures of TEC in a more significant and apparent and compelling and communicative way than simply affirming the three Windsor moratoria
— do not believe that an “Anglican Covenant” based on the corrupt Joint Standing Committee and zero spelled-out consequences will be at all effective in reigning in future chaos and division
— do not believe that the Instruments of Communion are “the effective means of ordering the common life of the Communion” — they are not effective and they do not order anything at all, much less “common life of the Communion”
— recognize that the current Archbishop of Canterbury will not do what he needs to do in order to solve the chaos and disorder that is in the Anglican Communion — this necessarily means that action must take place within TEC and among traditional Episcopalians to differentiate and “bring about desired future states” through other arenas and channels

Read it all.

Posted in Uncategorized

(London) Times: Archbishop of Canterbury attempts to paper over Church schism

The Archbishop of Canterbury today tried to paper over the cracks as he acknowledged the Anglican church is in schism in all but name.

Dr Rowan Williams called for a “two-track” communion where the church is divided on the issue of homosexuality.

He asked the arrangement be seen not in “apocalyptic terms of schism and excommunication” but rather as “two styles of being Anglican”. Faith bloggers have labelled the opposing factions the “Anglicans” and “Anglican’ts”.

In his response to the decisions earlier this month by The Episcopal Church of the US to go ahead with gay consecrations and same-sex blessings, Dr Williams refuses to accept what many believe to be the reality of schism.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Archbishop of Canterbury, Episcopal Church (TEC), General Convention

Monday Mental Health Break: Canadian Brass–The Saints Go Marching In

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Music

Robert Munday: Still Troubled about General Convention 2009

The thing that has troubled me most as I have reflected on the Episcopal Church’s General Convention is the number of bishops who voted against D025 (electing gay bishops), but who were deluded enough to vote for C056 (same-sex blessings).

Consider the two operative clauses that these bishops would have had to overlook or misconstrue to vote for C056:

Resolved, That the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music, in consulation with the House of Bishops, collect and develop theological, and liturgical resources and design liturgies and report to the 77th General Convention; for further action”¦

Bishops should not have been fooled by the fact that the words “ and design liturgies” were struck from the final form of this resolution.

Even if only the word “collect” had been used, it would have been sufficient to allow for the development of liturgies for same sex unions, because you can’t collect something that does not exist. But as it is, it says “collect and develop theological and liturgical resources”. How much of their own money would these gullible bishops be willing to bet that these “liturgical resources” won’t actually include some rites that can be (or have been!!!) used to bless same sex unions?

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), General Convention, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

Archbishop Rowan Williams Responds to General Convention

7. In the light of the way in which the Church has consistently read the Bible for the last two thousand years, it is clear that a positive answer to this question would have to be based on the most painstaking biblical exegesis and on a wide acceptance of the results within the Communion, with due account taken of the teachings of ecumenical partners also. A major change naturally needs a strong level of consensus and solid theological grounding.

8. This is not our situation in the Communion. Thus a blessing for a same-sex union cannot have the authority of the Church Catholic, or even of the Communion as a whole. And if this is the case, a person living in such a union is in the same case as a heterosexual person living in a sexual relationship outside the marriage bond; whatever the human respect and pastoral sensitivity such persons must be given, their chosen lifestyle is not one that the Church’s teaching sanctions, and thus it is hard to see how they can act in the necessarily representative role that the ordained ministry, especially the episcopate, requires.

9. In other words, the question is not a simple one of human rights or human dignity. It is that a certain choice of lifestyle has certain consequences. So long as the Church Catholic, or even the Communion as a whole does not bless same-sex unions, a person living in such a union cannot without serious incongruity have a representative function in a Church whose public teaching is at odds with their lifestyle. (There is also an unavoidable difficulty over whether someone belonging to a local church in which practice has been changed in respect of same-sex unions is able to represent the Communion’s voice and perspective in, for example, international ecumenical encounters.)

Read it all.

Posted in Uncategorized

Kendall Harmon: A Disappointingly Shoddy Piece by Diana Butler Bass on Beliefnet

I honestly cannot remember a time in my life in the Episcopal Church where I have read more mistakes in less time than in the last two to three weeks. Please do not believe everything you read and make sure to fact check and research material, a point we have stressed time and again on this blog.

A case in point is this recent piece by Diana Butler Bass. I enjoyed Dr. Bass’ Standing Against the Whirlwind : Evangelical Episcopalians in Nineteenth-Century America which was well written and researched (and is quite relevant to our present time by the way), and so was baffled to see such a poorly written piece by her on Beliefnet.

The relevant section of her article for our purposes reads this way:

The Anglican Church of North America, the umbrella group for conservative Episcopalians who have left their denomination over women’s ordination and full inclusion of gay and lesbian persons, has long claimed over 100,000 members. Recently, they admitted that only 69,000 persons in 650 churches in the USA and Canada have joined their association. There are 2.2 million Episcopalians in the United States and approximately 1 million in Canada. Thus, the conservative group–the one that has garnered so much media attention in recent years is a very small percentage of the entire North American Anglican membership–some 2% of the total. And with their rigid opposition to women’s ordination, it is hard to imagine that this group will find much appeal with young North Americans.

Now for the record, I am not in ACNA. Certainly her description of the reason for the departure of ACNA is not one ACNA would agree with just for starters. It is over issues of Christology, marriage, the authority and interpretation of Scripture, the nature of the church, and the standards of Christian leadership that this controversy is fundamentally about.

According to ACNA’s own website, ACNA still claims 100, 000 members. That claim has not changed. The reference to the 69,000 number is for Average Sunday attendance: according to the ACNA site ACNA claims “average Sunday attendance of 69,197 (as of spring 2009)” [and there is a even more about ACNA numbers here]. So follow along. Dr. Bass suggests the claim of membership in ACNA has changed. It hasn’t. Then she suggests ACNA is claiming a number for membership which ACNA is claiming for average Sunday attendance. This is elementary category confusion. As anyone in parish ministry knows membership and Sunday morning attendance are very different.

Having made all these errors, Dr. Bass then compares the wrong category of numbers for ACNA and TEC and the Anglican Church of Canada:

There are 2.2 million Episcopalians in the United States and approximately 1 million in Canada. Thus, the conservative group–the one that has garnered so much media attention in recent years is a very small percentage of the entire North American Anglican membership–some 2% of the total.

Do you see how she got the 2% figure? She took the roughly 69,000 figure, which is for Average Sunday attendance, and compared it to the membership figures for TEC and the Anglican Church of Canada. But this is comparing apples to oranges. The Episcopal Church has not been using average Sunday attendance figures for all that long, but you may know that whereas in the 2004 tables TEC claimed ASA of 833,672, by the 2009 tables that number is down to 768,476.

The 1 million number Dr. Bass gives for the Anglican Church of Canada membership is way off. One of the recent numbers I found was 641,845, but of course, this is again membership not Sunday morning attendance. I would honestly be surprised if average Sunday attendance in the Anglican Church of Canada is more than 200,000 actually (many of you know I lived and worshipped in Canada for two years), but let’s use 300,000 for our purposes.

Now, if you use these figures, and compare apples to apples, the ASA of ACNA is approximately 6.5% of the ASA of TEC and the Anglican Church of Canada combined, more than three times the percentage total Dr. Bass gives.

You would think given the large number of errors that I would be finished. But no. She continues:

And with their rigid opposition to women’s ordination, it is hard to imagine that this group will find much appeal with young North Americans.

Well, this would come as news to my friend Mary Hays, an ordained woman quite involved in ACNA, to pick just one example. ACNA is trying to protect two perspectives on women’s ordination, as anyone in the movement itself could have told Dr. Bass if she had asked.

What an embarrassing effort Dr. Bass has given us in this article. I sincerely hope she will improve in the future–and please, do not believe everything you read–KSH.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * By Kendall, * Culture-Watch, Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces, Episcopal Church (TEC), General Convention, Media, TEC Data

Orthodox Church in America leader returns to Chicago

Home in Chicago for the first time since his election to head the Orthodox Church in America, Metropolitan Archbishop Jonah reminded the faithful at Holy Trinity Orthodox Cathedral on Sunday that American converts like himself form the core of the denomination.

Elected in December to lead the main branch of Orthodox Christianity in the U.S., the Chicago native became primate under a banner of reform after his predecessor retired amid financial scandal last year.

The Orthodox Church in America is part of a constellation of churches separate from the Roman Catholic Church since the 11th Century.

In his sermon Sunday, the metropolitan called for humility, responsibility and sacrifice on the part of church leaders to invigorate the church’s mission and asked parishioners to pray that bishops could live up to those expectations.

Read it all

Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Orthodox Church, Other Churches

Kendall Harmon: The Roots of the Roots

Do Episcopal parishes teach the basics?

When I finished seminary in 1987 I came out with youthful idealism, energy, and too much arrogance, among many other things. I also believed I needed to be unapologetic about teaching and preaching on the most basic questions.

For example, I taught for two years through the Book of Acts. What was the gospel they were proclaiming I wanted to know. What was their understanding of mission? Who did they think Jesus was? What did they believe about the church?

After three years in the parish where I served my curacy, I left the parish (and the country) to pursue a doctorate. This allowed me the luxury of reflecting on many things, including my three year curacy.

My deepest conclusion: I had failed to be basic enough. I had made too many assumptions. I had used too much Christian vocabulary without defining terms. The bottom line was my instinct was right but my implementation left a lot to be desired.

When I asked myself why, my sense was it was partly out of fear. It takes a lot of courage to ask someone to describe the exact nature of the God he or she believes in, to wrestle with the doctrine of Original Sin, to probe the mystery of the Atonement and the Cross, to delve into the depths of what heaven really is and is not like.

So consider this question: if we look at the parish of which we are a part, and its preaching and teaching, how are we doing in terms of asking and answering the most basic of questions? Are we daring to look at the roots of the roots?

Jesus talked about God and the nature of his kingdom. It is hard to get more basic than that. Can we do any less?

–The Rev. Dr. Kendall Harmon is Canon Theologian of the Diocese of South Carolina and convenor of this blog

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * By Kendall, * Christian Life / Church Life, Adult Education, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Theology

The Latest Edition of the Anglican Digest

I would welcome it if you would consider being a subscriber if you are not at present, and to inquire if your parish is providing copies to its members. In any case, check out the most recent issue here.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Spirituality/Prayer, Theology

Religion and Ethics Newsweekly: Health Care Costs and the Elderly

[LUCKY] SEVERSON: Dr. Weinberg says the decisions about the ethics of distributive justice for society as a whole are often much more difficult when the doctor is meeting with a patient one-on-one.

DR. [GLORIA] WEINBERG: The health care dollars, an inordinate amount, go to taking care of people in the last 6 months of their lives. But how do you know when those last 6 months are? You have a person who has worked all their life, paid taxes, done very well, and now they are 80, and they have a heart attack. That may be the person who lives 10 or 15 more years. Are we going to say no just because of age? That’s a very, very slippery slope.

SEVERSON: There is a huge ethical discussion about who should make these end-of-life decisions””the patient, the family, doctors, the government? Brian Keeley says some decisions are easier to make. For instance, Medicare should only reimburse for treatments and drugs that are known to work.

KEELEY: It ought to be evidence-based. If something is proven not to work, I don’t think the federal government ought to be paying for it. I don’t think anybody ought to be paying for it, except for the private patient.

SEVERSON: Dr. Weinberg says too many patients receive expensive treatments and surgery in their final years that very likely won’t prolong their life.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Aging / the Elderly, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Pastoral Theology, Theology

Michael Lumpkin: It’s not marriage”¦

A headline in the Thursday, May 7 Post and Courier has been followed by at least three additional articles since then about the legalization of what the media calls ”˜gay marriage’. The article on May 7 began, ”˜In a banner day in New England for advocates of gay marriage, Maine legalized the practice Wednesday, and the New Hampshire Legislature voted to do the same”¦ (New Hampshire) would be the sixth state overall”¦ to allow gay marriage.’

Meanwhile, Carrie Prejean, the former Miss California, continues to make the news as the contestant who has spoken out opposed to gay marriage. And, the every-three-year General Convention of the Episcopal Church, convening in less than a month, may have something to say about this, too. Since this issue seems to be gathering more and more momentum and headlines, I sense the need as a priest of Christ’s Church to say something regarding this.

The news articles are making reference to these states that are declaring that a same-sex relationship””a union between two men or two women”” are of the same character, order and quality of what the Christian faith, other world faiths, and world cultures have recognized for millennia as reserved for the special relationship between one man and one woman that we call marriage or in the church, Holy Matrimony. (Attempts in some cultures to make it a relationship of more than one man and one woman (polygamy) has never achieved positive acceptance.)

I am moved to ask, ”˜How can this be?’ I am sympathetic for those who identify themselves as gay or lesbian seeking to have the rights and privileges due any person anytime. I also understand an individual’s desire to have the legal right to bequeath or empower another individual, any one he or she chooses, to be an advocate for that individual’s rights, or a recipient or a beneficiary for that person. Our own baptismal covenant which asks us to respect the dignity of every human being and the Biblical call to love are certainly all the warrant one needs in terms of all of our relationships to be rooted in fairness and concern for others.

Nevertheless it astonishes me that the institution of marriage is now being re-defined ostensibly for the sake of legal rights. If marriage is defined as anything, any relationship, then marriage is no longer marriage as it has been known through the ages. The procreative role in the union of a man and a woman, in itself, make this relationship unlike any other kind of possible union. Further, there is the unique complementarity of a man and woman that the Biblical narrative in Genesis speaks of so powerfully. Mankind is made in the image of God, and as male and female, they most ideally represent the full image of our Creator God.

It seems to me that it is like this: there are some inherent realities that simply are what they are by their nature and their very essence. For example, no matter how much I as a man want the ”˜right’ to become pregnant, it will not happen. It does not matter what I think about the idea or what a court says about the idea or what law is passed. I cannot bear a child, whether I like it or not. Is it possible that there are some fundamental realities, like the institution of marriage, that carry the same inherent givenness? This is where some of us may disagree, but I believe marriage bears this sort of weight and truth. It is what it is””no more and no less.

For Anglicans, whether it is the 1979 Book of Common Prayer, the 1928 Book of Common Prayer or the Prayer Book of 1662, the service has begun with these or similar words, ”˜”¦We have come together in the presence of God to witness and bless the joining together of this man and this woman in Holy Matrimony. The service continues with the collect that reads, ”˜O gracious and everliving God, you have created us male and female in your image”¦’ Our liturgy gives clear expression to whom the sacrament of marriage is available.

It is equally clearly defined in the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church. There is currently no wiggle room here for this particular innovation of same gender relationships! Canon 18, Section 2b: Of the Solemnization of Holy Matrimony””Before solemnizing a marriage the Member of the Clergy shall have ascertained: That both parties understand that Holy Matrimony is a physical and spiritual union of a man and a woman”¦with intent that it be lifelong.

I am grieved that this particular agenda is being pressed so fervently by the GLBT (Gay-Lesbian-Bi-sexual-Transgender) lobby. Rick Warren, the pastor of Saddleback Valley Community Church in Orange County, California, spoke in the fall of 2008 in opposition to California’s Proposition 8 which had as its goal to universalize the institution of marriage. Spoken with compassion and sensitivity but also with clarity, his words are worth noting. Here are some excerpts from his comments last fall:
”¢ There are about 2% of Americans who are homosexual or gay and lesbian people. We should not let 2% of the population change the definition of marriage”¦
”¢ This is not even just a Christian issue. It is a no to gays using the term marriage for their relationship”¦.
”¢ While I believe the gay view of sexuality is contrary to God’s Word, I do believe that God gives us free choice and he gives us a choice to obey his word or to disobey it”¦.
”¢ Some people feel today that if you disagree with them, then that’s hate speech. If you disagree with them you either hate them or you’re afraid of them. I’m neither afraid of gays nor do I hate gays. In fact I love gays but I do disagree with some of their beliefs.

May our politics, our courts, our legislatures be moved to see the wrong path that is being taken when it universalizes the marriage sacrament for any and all. May the Church, all denominations, even other faiths, speak with one voice affirming that marriage, by its definition, is to remain as a relationship establishing the union of one man and one woman. May we find a better way forward that protects an individual’s civil rights without using the institution of marriage as the means to those civil rights. May those of us who have this same conviction speak our convictions with clarity; yet continue to respect the dignity of every human being.

In Christ’s love,

–The Rev. Michael Lumpkin is rector, Saint Paul’s, Summerville, South Carolina

Posted in * Culture-Watch, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sacramental Theology, Sexuality, Theology

The Bishop of Colorado on General Convention 2009

Read it all.

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

Anglican Diocese of Quincy Standing Committee Comments on Episcopal Church General Convention

The recent General Convention of the Episcopal Church in Anaheim, CA, held few surprises. As we expected, actions taken by the bishops and representatives of the remaining Episcopal dioceses continue to support teaching and morality that is contrary to Christian Scriptures and practice. The convention’s actions place them further outside the norms and fellowship of the Anglican Communion. We had hoped The Episcopal Church would listen to other Anglicans, including the Archbishop of Canterbury, and turn back. They have not.

Even the claim of Episcopal Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts-Schori that a focus on individual salvation through a relationship with Jesus was “heresy” is not surprising, considering her past statements suggesting there are many ways to salvation apart from Jesus Christ.

What most concerns us are our friends in local churches who decided to stay in the Episcopal Church after our diocese realigned last fall. We know many of them object to the actions taken by their General Convention. We are saddened that those who tried to stand against the tide are now pushed further to the fringes of their own church. Our hope is that all faithful Anglicans in central Illinois will feel welcome in the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) which our diocese helped found, and move forward together with us in local and world mission in the ACNA.

We invite all in our communities to visit our churches, learn more about the Anglican Communion, and join us in bringing the world to Christ.

The Standing Committee
The Diocese of Quincy, Anglican Province of the Southern Cone/ACNA

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), General Convention, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Quincy

Scientists Worry Machines May Outsmart Man

A robot that can open doors and find electrical outlets to recharge itself. Computer viruses that no one can stop. Predator drones, which, though still controlled remotely by humans, come close to a machine that can kill autonomously.

Impressed and alarmed by advances in artificial intelligence, a group of computer scientists is debating whether there should be limits on research that might lead to loss of human control over computer-based systems that carry a growing share of society’s workload, from waging war to chatting with customers on the phone.

Their concern is that further advances could create profound social disruptions and even have dangerous consequences.

Read it all.

Posted in Uncategorized

Tony Horwitz reviews Rich Cohen's Israel is Real

I read “Israel Is Real” while preparing for my son’s bar mitzvah. By “preparing,” I mean talking to tent people and mailing invites. On the spiritual side, I’ve done my usual shirk: ducking services, doodling during sessions with the rabbi and dodging queries about my own bar mitzvah of wretched memory, celebrated in a gloomy temple filled with old men waiting for me to blunder.

I mention this as preface because Rich Cohen’s book accomplished the miraculous. It made a subject that has vexed me since early childhood into a riveting story. Not by breaking new ground or advancing a bold peace plan, but by narrating the oft-told saga of the Jews in a fresh and engaging fashion.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, History, Israel, Judaism, Middle East, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture