Yearly Archives: 2017

(1st Things) Matthew Rose–Our Secular Theodicy

I live in Berkeley, one of the most religious cities in America. Its churches are being converted into mosques and Buddhist temples, but its one true faith endures. A popular yard sign states its creed: “In This House, We Believe: Black Lives Matter, Women’s Rights are Human Rights, No Human is Illegal, Science is Real, Love is Love, and Kindness is Everything.” The sign is both profession and prophecy. Like the biblical Joshua whose promise it echoes (“As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord”), my neighbors are in a holy vanguard. They have seen the future America, have identified its present enemies, and are leading us into a promised land.

The biblical politics of my secular neighbors would not have been lost on Ernst Bloch. Bloch was an atheist who believed Jesus was the Messiah, a Stalinist who disagreed with Marx, and a materialist who embraced natural law theory. For the moment you will have to take my word that this can make sense and that it is worth the modest effort to understand how. You would be within your rights to be skeptical. No doctrine has been refuted so often as Marxism, and the debates that consumed Bloch’s long life are dead. Yet the utopian spirit to which he gave original, sometimes brilliant, and more often bizarre expression has never been more alive, and to visit his work is to witness a moment when Christian faith began to transmute itself into the progressive creeds of today.

In a series of books beginning in 1918 and ending shortly before his death in 1977, Bloch proposed that the central category for understanding politics is eschatology—our anticipation of a future society that will reveal the meaning of human history and redeem its fallen state. He named this kingdom “utopia” and argued that its arrival is the object of every human hope and the justification of every human suffering. Bloch lived under Hitler, Vichy, and the gaze of Walter Ulbricht, the Stalinist leader of East Germany, making his work an anguished commentary on the darkest moments of the twentieth century. But his millennial hopes, expressed in critical dialogue with Christian theology, continue to inspire many.

Bloch is a guide into the concealed theology of contemporary liberalism, whose outlook remains profoundly, if paradoxically, biblical in one respect. Having rejected a Christian understanding of nature, it retains an intensely Christian understanding of history.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Religion & Culture, Secularism

(NYT Op-ed) David Brooks–Our Elites Still Don’t Get It: Our problems aren’t in the branches, but at the roots.

Freedom without covenant becomes selfishness. And that’s what we see at the top of society, in our politics and the financial crisis. Freedom without connection becomes alienation. And that’s what we see at the bottom of society — frayed communities, broken families, opiate addiction. Freedom without a unifying national narrative becomes distrust, polarization and permanent political war.

People can endure a lot if they have a secure base, but if you take away covenantal attachments they become fragile. Moreover, if you rob people of their good covenantal attachments, they will grab bad ones. First, they will identify themselves according to race. They will become the racial essentialists you see on left and right: The only people who can really know me are in my race. Life is a zero-sum contest between my race and your race, so get out.

Then they resort to tribalism. This is what Donald Trump provides. As Mark S. Weiner writes on the Niskanen Center’s blog, Trump is constantly making friend/enemy distinctions, exploiting liberalism’s thin conception of community and creating toxic communities based on in-group/out-group rivalry.

Trump offers people cultural solutions to their alienation problem. As history clearly demonstrates, people will prefer fascism to isolation, authoritarianism to moral anarchy.

If we are going to have a decent society we’re going to have to save liberalism from itself. We’re going to have to restore and re-enchant the covenantal relationships that are the foundation for the whole deal. The crucial battleground is cultural and prepolitical.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

(Law&Religion UK) Bishop George Bell: 2018 publication of review?

Concern has been raised since the timing of the publication of the Review is later than that indicated in the Carlile Review web site Q&A pages. However, a tweet by the Church of England at 2:05pm today stated: “The independent review into the George Bell case will be published once the processes, standard in all reviews, are completed. Nobody is delaying it”.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Church History, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Theology

Kendall Harmon’s Sunday Sermon on Ezekiel–How do we Respond in Desperate Situations (Ezekiel 37:1-14)?

You can listen directly there and download the mp3 there. This is now the second time in a row I have been called to preach after a South Carolina Supreme Court decision, and I just happened to be preaching on Ezekiel 37 already before the news hit Saturday–there could hardly be a more applicable passage.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * By Kendall, * South Carolina, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Sermons & Teachings, Theology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology), Theology: Scripture

Thomas Tallis for his Feast Day: If Ye Love Me


If ye love me, keep my commandments, and I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another comforter, that he may bide with you for ever, ev’n the spirit of truth. John 14: 15-17

Posted in Church History, Liturgy, Music, Worship

Music for his Feast Day–Sing Joyfully, by William Byrd (1540-1623)

Posted in Church History, Liturgy, Music, Worship

A Prayer for the Feast Day of William Byrd, John Merbecke+Thomas Tallis

O God most glorious, whose praises art sung night and day by thy saints and angels in heaven: We offer thanks for William Byrd, John Merbecke and Thomas Tallis, whose music hath enriched the praise that thy Church offers thee here on earth. Grant, we pray thee, to all who are touched by the power of music such glimpses of eternity that we may be made ready to join thy saints in heaven and behold thy glory unveiled for evermore; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who livest and reignest with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Posted in Church History, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to begin the day from Uppingham School

Almighty and everlasting God, in whom we live and move and have our being: Grant unto us such purity of heart and strength of purpose that no selfish passion may hinder us from knowing thy will, and no weakness from doing it; but in thy light may we see light, and in thy service find perfect freedom; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Those interested in more about the school may read about its chapel life there.

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Bible Readings

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband; and I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling of God is with men. He will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself will be with them; he will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain any more, for the former things have passed away.” And he who sat upon the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” Also he said, “Write this, for these words are trustworthy and true.” And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the fountain of the water of life without payment. He who conquers shall have this heritage, and I will be his God and he shall be my son. But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the polluted, as for murderers, fornicators, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their lot shall be in the lake that burns with fire and sulphur, which is the second death.”

–Revelation 21:1-8

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(RCR) Cardinal Donald Wuerl–Silencing the Voices of Faith

Cultural and societal changes have gone through a quantum leap in the past 15 to 20 years. As an example, look at the secular tsunami that washes away cultural landmarks such as marriage, family, common good, and objective right and wrong. To sense just how far we have stumbled, one need only consider what passes for “breaking news” nowadays: a lack of fundamental respect for the dignity of life; a seemingly relentless campaign to redefine constitutional religious liberty to mean nothing more than freedom to worship in the sanctuary of your choice; the codification of politically correct redefinitions of marriage, family, abortion, and religious freedom into law; and criticism of those who fail to support these re-definitions as purveyors of “hate speech.”

Even Catholic institutions are not immune. Just recently, on the campus of Georgetown University, a Catholic student group faced something that would have been unthinkable a couple of decades ago: being designated a hate group for professing the Catholic faith and its definition of marriage.

“Love Saxa,” a group that advocates for marriage between a man and a woman, came under fire from campus LGBTQ groups, according to The Hoya, a Georgetown student publication. A member of the student government argued that Love Saxa’s definition of marriage and relationships violated university standards by fostering hatred or intolerance.

Fortunately, the university administration upheld the student-run advisory board’s judgment that the public expression of the Catholic faith that marriage is between a man and a woman is neither hate speech nor discrimination. But what remains troubling is that we have come so close to allowing a few determined social engineers to silence the rest of us.

Read it all (emphasis mine).

Posted in America/U.S.A., Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Young Adults

(ENS) Diocese of Newark to revise diocesan profile after discovering plagiarism during bishop search

Read it all.

Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, TEC Bishops

Bp Iker of Fort Worth’s Address to the 35th Convention of the Diocese of Fort Worth

The second event on the Provincial level is the completion of the five-year study of the Task Force on Holy Orders, concerning the ordination of women, and the meeting of the College of Bishops to discuss the report for the first time at a conclave in Victoria, British Columbia, in early September. At the end of the meeting, a Statement was released stating where we are in this continuing controversy that divides us. It was the first time that all the Bishops went on record by stating their position on this issue. It was evident that no Bishop had changed his mind as a result of the study and that a majority of the Bishops are opposed to the ordination of women priests on biblical and theological grounds.

It is interesting to note that when Archbishop Robert Duncan appointed the Task Force, he charged them with doing a study of the issue of women in holy orders, but instructed them not to come to a conclusion or to make any recommendation as to how to resolve the debate. The report simply summarizes the arguments for and against. This is in stark contrast to a similar study done by the Anglican Mission in America several years ago, known as the Rodgers Report, which concluded that women cannot be ordained bishops or priests, while leaving open the door to the possibility of women deacons. Those of us who agreed to the formation of the ACNA in 2009 did so with the clear understanding that a serious theological study would be done and that a decision would be made at that time.

So where are we? Most ACNA bishops and dioceses are opposed to women priests, but as it presently stands, the ACNA Constitution says each diocese can decide if it will ordain women priests or not. We now need to work with other dioceses to amend the Constitution to remove this provision. As you know, women bishops are not permitted in any diocese, and no bishop wants to change that prohibition.

I would underscore that the recent Bishops’ statement declares that the ordination of women “is a recent innovation to Apostolic Tradition and Catholic Order” and that “there is insufficient warrant to accept women’s ordination to the priesthood as standard practice.” Needless to say, the women priests and their supporters are very unhappy about that.

We are in a state of impaired communion because of this issue. The Task Force concluded that “both sides cannot be right.” At the conclave, I informed the College of Bishops that I will no longer give consent to the election of any bishop who intends to ordain female priests, nor will I attend the consecration of any such bishop-elect in the future.

Read it all.

Posted in Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Ministry of the Ordained, Pastoral Theology, Women

A S Haley on the Latest South Carolina Supreme Court Decisions–A Triumph of Injustice and Irresponsibility

If evidence were needed to demonstrate the fecklessness of the justices who are responsible for the mess the South Carolina Supreme Court has made of its church property law in this proceeding, the latest pair of rulings on the petitions would suffice, all on their own. Consider the following facts:

1. There was never any decision of a majority of the Court in the case. In five separately written opinions, only two Justices (including Justice Hearn, herself an Episcopalian) agreed on reversing the decision below in order to hand all of the disputed church property to the Episcopal Church and its Potemkin diocese in South Carolina. Two Justices agreed on letting the decision below stand, albeit for different reasons. And the fifth — Chief Justice Beatty — simply punted by saying he would enforce a Dennis Canon trust (but not for the reasons stated by Justices Hearn and Pleicones) only against those parishes who had “acceded” to the national canons. (Never mind that virtually no parish had ever done so since the Canon’s adoption in 1979, or that any such involuntary trust would have to be revocable at will under South Carolina law.)

2. All five of the Justices misunderstood the motion to recuse Justice Kaye Hearn. They appear to have regarded it as wholly independent of the motion for a rehearing, when it was not. The reason is that granting the request for a rehearing would have accomplished the same things requested again in the motion to recuse: the Justices would have been able to decide the case anew. Their prior opinions would be replaced by any new ones written on rehearing, and Justice Hearn’s prior opinion would no longer be of any account. But they treated the motion to recuse just one Justice as a request to do all these things independently of any rehearing, which makes no sense, and appeared to congratulate themselves on their unanimity in striking down a straw man.

3. Thus they each (including Justice Hearn herself!) ruled that the motion to recuse came too late, since the full Court had already rendered its non-decision in the case. The motion to recuse, however, was aimed only at her future participation in the case; the past is water under the bridge, and could be corrected, if at all, only by granting a rehearing. (For her part, Justice Hearn mooted the motion to recuse by announcing on her own that she would not participate in further proceedings in the case.)

4. But not before voting to deny the motion to recuse!

Read it carefully and read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, - Anglican: Analysis, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, State Government, Stewardship

A Message from the Rector of Saint Michael’s, Charleston, about the recent South Carolina Supreme Court Decisions

(Via email–KSH) Dear St. Michaelites and Friends:

Yesterday, we received word that the South Carolina Supreme Court, in a tight and split vote, denied the rehearing and recusal request filed by our Diocese of South Carolina. We agree with our diocese that given the gravity of all these concerns, we will now give serious consideration to seeking review by the United States Supreme Court. We believe the number and character of the issues at stake in this ruling merit review by the high court. We also continue to pray for our mediation that will resume in 2 weeks. We remain confident that God is at work in even these circumstances to redeem and use them, as He does all things, for His glory and the building up of His Church.

As we continue to wait, we as one continue in our mission to Transform Hearts through Jesus Christ, in fact I was preaching at the Church of the Resurrection this morning in our pre-arranged pulpit swap. As I was praying and preparing to drive to the church plant, Jesus used that hymn Be Still, My Soul by Katharina Amalia Dorothea von Schlegelhelp to help me realize once again… He IS still in control, let those words wash over you:

Be still my soul the Lord is on thy side
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain
Leave to thy God to order and provide
In every change He faithful will remain
Be still my soul thy best, thy heavenly friend
Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end

Even before this decision of the State Supreme Court, your wardens and I had decided that we would hold three Sundays for prayer and conversation from 2:00 – 4:00 pm, no agenda just a one-on-one check in with you. We began today and will continue during the Sundays of November 26 and December 3. No sign ups necessary, join us on these Sunday afternoons….

Blessings and much Love,

–The Rev. Alfred T.K. Zadig, Jr. is Rector of Saint Michael’s, Charleston

Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina

Bishop Mark Lawrence’s Letter to the Diocese of South Carolina following the recent SC Supreme Court Decisions

From here:

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Today legal counsel for the Diocese received written notification that both our motions for Recusal and for Rehearing were denied by the State Supreme Court.   The former was denied 5-0.   The latter was denied 2-2 with Justice Hearn abstaining and no fifth justice appointed to fill the vacancy.

For those parishes that are parties to the litigation, I encourage you, at this stage, to consult with your parish chancellor.  All parties to the case have previously discussed the timetable for a filing under the Betterments Statute.  Legal counsel can give you best directions for how to proceed with that process.  Our press release for this evening can be found here.

As you will remember, we began our week with our Annual Clergy Conference reflecting together on the Apostle Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 1:3-11 and 12:9-10. Now this final ruling from the South Carolina Supreme Court coming as it does at the very end of the week presses us once again with the need to find comfort, strength, and courage from the Lord through these words of Holy Scripture. May I encourage you to revisit them—I believe they were prophetic in their timing for us. Meanwhile please know that I have spoken with our lead counsel, Mr. Alan Runyan, Fr. David Thurlow, President of the Standing Committee, as well as with Canon Lewis. A Standing Committee meeting has been called for this Tuesday morning, November 21, 2017.

I will write further to you and to the diocese once I have met with the Standing Committee and have more thoroughly examined the options before us. For now we will continue to stand forthright for the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ and in the faith once delivered to the saints!

Please continue to hold our Diocesan Leadership and Legal Counsel in your prayers.

Your brother in Christ,

–(The Rt. Rev.) Mark Lawrence, 14th Bishop of the Diocese of South Carolina

Posted in * South Carolina, Ethics / Moral Theology, Housing/Real Estate Market, Katherine Jefferts Schori, Law & Legal Issues, Michael Curry, Parish Ministry, Presiding Bishop, Stewardship, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina