Daily Archives: June 12, 2007

DeWayne Wickham: Do positions on evolution really matter in 2008 race?

During a televised debate among GOP presidential candidates last month in California, Sen. John McCain of Arizona was asked whether he believes in evolution. McCain first answered with one word: “Yes.” Then he quickly added: “I believe in evolution. But I also believe, when I hike the Grand Canyon and see it at sunset, that the hand of God is there also.”

That bit of fence walking might remind some people of what comedian W.C. Fields, a life-long atheist, said when he was discovered reading a Bible shortly before his death. When a friend asked incredulously what he was doing, Fields responded: “Looking for loopholes.”

But a recent USA TODAY/Gallup Poll suggests McCain’s attempt to have it both ways is not an uncommon view. One-quarter of Americans think evolution, a scientific theory on the origins of life, and creationism, the biblical description of how life began, are both likely explanations. But in the world of politics, reality is too often shaped by what it takes to win over the relatively small number of voters who take part in a political party’s selection process ”” not the thinking of a wider group of people.

Whatever the reason, three of the GOP presidential wannabes standing with McCain that day gave a much different answer. Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas and Rep. Tom Tancredo of Colorado answered with a show of hands when a reporter asked, “Is there anybody on the stage that does not agree, believe in evolution?”

This month, during a GOP debate in New Hampshire, Huckabee was asked about his rejection of evolution. “To me, it’s pretty simple,” the Baptist minister answered. “A person either believes that God created this process or believes that it was an accident and that it just happened all on its own.”

In politics, few things are described so simply. But for many members of the religious right ”” an influential bloc in the GOP’s presidential candidate selection process ”” answers to questions of faith have no middle ground. This is especially so in the long-running debate over the beginning of life.

Read it all

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, US Presidential Election 2008

Homosexuality & the Church: Two Views from Eve Tushnet and Luke Timothy Johnson

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

Bishop Leo Frade Offers some Thoughts

You see my dear candidates, it is not that easy to be an Episcopalian. My God, even our first American bishop was refused ordination by the British because he was not going to pledge allegiance to crazy king George that Americans had just defeated in our Independence War!

God bless those Scottish Jacobites who in Aberdeen, Scotland, dared to make a crack in the Anglican Communion and consecrated our first bishop, Samuel Seabury, against the will of the powers to be at the time. That’s how the light got in and we were able to have our first American bishop.

It didn’t take long for the Brits to realize that we were here to stay, and that we were not anymore the Church of England but the Episcopal Church of these United States of America.

Now, I know that you want to be confirmed and received by me this morning, but I want to make sure you know that we really mean for you to keep the promises that you are about to make.

We really mean it when we ask you to reaffirm your renunciation of evil and to commit to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Yes, my beloved candidates and all of you present this morning in this Cathedral, you need to be aware that we really mean it when we ask all of you if you are willing to persevere in resisting evil and also if you are willing to love your neighbor as yourself.

Not some neighbors but all neighbors. Not just those who talk like you, or cook like you, or vote like you, or pray like you, or those whose affections God has wired different from yours. We really mean all.

I also want to be sure that you know the consequences of responding to the last question of the Baptismal Covenant with, “I will, with God’s help.” It’s important, because with the condition of the world we live in today, it could really make a difference for good.

That final question is going to be this:

Will you strive for justice and peace among all people? Will you?

Will you respect the dignity of every human being? Will you really do that?
Do you realize how many cracks we will have to make to be able to achieve this?

I have to admit that if I say that I believe that we must strive for peace, then I must chisel hard and make a crack at that boulder of war brought to our nation through lies and deceit. A boulder of war that brushes aside the death of over 3,000 American youngsters and now insists on a surge that will only increase the number of those killed.

If I am to declare that I must strive for justice, then I must be willing to say stop the embargo against the people of Cuba. It has failed and it only punishes the poor and the weak and not those in power in that island.

If I believe in resisting evil, then I must do something to stop the exploitation of farmworkers taking place today in Immokalee, Florida.

I must also be willing to look at immigration issues with the eyes of the one who insisted in proclaiming that we must love our neighbors as ourselves.

There are other churches in our country where blacks and Hispanics are kept away. There are quite a few other churches out there where gays and lesbians are bashed and considered evil, where war is praised and encouraged, where women are kept in their place, churches where cracks are not allowed to happen. This Cathedral is not one of them.

Now if you really insist on becoming an Episcopalian, then welcome to this church and help us to make sure that we keep some of our cracks. It’s important–you see, that’s how the light gets in.

Read the whole thing.

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

Nigerian Gay Rights Advocate Addresses Executive Council

On the first day of Executive Council’s June 11-14 meeting in Parsippany, N.J., a sub-group heard Davis Mac-Iyalla speak movingly about how he and eight other homosexual Nigerians were beaten and imprisoned for three days without food or water by Nigerian authorities because of their efforts to organize.

Among the issues Executive Council will debate are a partial response to the primates’ communiqué and the proposed Anglican Covenant. Mr. Mac-Iyalla spoke before a joint session of the national and international concerns committees. The 60-minute session was also attended by about three dozen press, visitors and guests.

Mr. Mac-Iyalla said his troubles began in 2005 after he publicly accused the Most Rev. Peter Akinola, Archbishop of Nigeria, for “telling lies” about lesbian, bisexual, gay and transgendered people in Nigeria. On Oct. 17, he was arrested and freed three days later, only after Colin Coward, founder of Changing Attitude U.K., a gay and lesbian advocacy group, paid his bail. Prior to that time, Mr. Mac-Iyalla said, he had never seen a white man or been outside his native country. He now serves as director of Changing Attitude Nigeria.

In response to a question, Mr. Mac-Iyalla said it would be important for The Episcopal Church to do everything it could to retain its full voice within the Anglican Communion. Mr. Mac-Iyalla said Archbishop Akinola is trying to subvert dialogue with gays and lesbians from taking place in Nigeria, and he believes the proposed dialogue in the Anglican Communion will not happen if the voice of The Episcopal Church is silenced.

“People are afraid to speak out,” Mr. Mac-Iyalla said. “Our hope is The Episcopal Church. If you do not speak out for us, we don’t know where we will take our voice.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

Anglican / Episcopal RSS Feed created

We’ve set up an RSS Feed for all blog entries classified under the Anglican / Episcopal category. Here’s the link you can use to subscribe:

We can set up other category-specific RSS feeds (or Atom feeds). Let us know if there’s interest.

Posted in * Admin, * Anglican - Episcopal, Blog Tips & Features

Frank Wade: Coup d’Eglise

In 1851, French President Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte seized dictatorial powers that eventually allowed him to become Emperor Napoleon III, the last monarch of France. His actions gave currency to the term coup d’ètat, literally “strike the state,” which has described political takeovers from that day to this.

The parallel phrase coup d’èglise (strike the church) has not made it into the common lexicon but may be the only way to accurately describe the lightning ascendancy of the primates of the Anglican Communion. From their first meeting in 1979 to their asserted role in the proposed Anglican Covenant, the group has moved from non-existence to centrality. This may or may not be what the Anglican Communion needs; it may or may not be what every devoted Anglican wants; it may or may not be the leading of the Holy Spirit; but we should all know that it is happening.

For most of its history the Anglican Communion lived with three basic facts of life: The members had a common root in the Church of England, a common focal point in the Archbishop of Canterbury, and common mission on a selective basis. A common doctrinal base was assumed but basically unexamined.

The idea of ecumenicity in the late 19th century led to the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral, which was as close as the Communion ever came to formal doctrinal expression. The Quadrilateral was so broad that it was said that when we speak neither the pope nor the premier of China can say for certain they are not Anglicans.

This hazy sense of communion lasted until the emergence of indigenous leaders in the post-colonial church brought pre-existing differences of perspective and orientation into clarity and conflict. These differences became an Anglican crisis when the American and Canadian provinces gave tangible expression to a faithfully developed, but to many intolerable, view of human sexuality. That crisis provided the platform for the primates’ move to power.

Did I miss something? Where is the reference to the 1988 or 1998 Lambeth meetings? Just thought I would ask. Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Commentary, Anglican Primates, Instruments of Unity

North Carolina Episcopal bishop fires up local congregations in the State of Washington

In an interview before the sermon, Curry underscored the point that we’re all in this together.

He said the church is emphasizing its commitment to its anti-poverty Millennium Development Goals to reflect the Christian ideal of helping people on society’s margins.

“That’s who Jesus is,” he said.

Curry downplayed his role as the first African-American to head an Episcopal diocese in the South, a position he attained in 2000.

“A lot of the hurdles were overcome before I ever came along,” he said.

Curry was joined by Western Washington Bishop-Elect Greg Rickel and the Rev. Nedi Rivera, bishop suffragan for Western Washington and the first Hispanic bishop in the United States.

Rivera, in fact, was ordained only two years after the first Episcopal woman was ordained to the priesthood in 1977. All three bishops emphasized that the church will continue to grow by becoming more inclusive.

Rickel noted that the church is moving forward after a rift over approving the ordination of gays into the priesthood.

“I’d rather err on the side of love,” Rickel said.

Rivera said the church leaders want to nurture a yearning for shared spirituality and community, even in the “none zone” of the Pacific Northwest. She noted that even though many area residents are not churchgoers ­”” denoted by checking “none” on hospital sign-in forms ”” polls show an overwhelming majority still consider themselves spiritual.

“People are learning that they can’t just do spirituality by themselves,” she said.

Curry agreed.

“The Lord made us here together, and we’re going to discover him together,” he said.

Read the whole article.

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

In Canada, Four nominees for primate

Bishops of the Anglican Church of Canada, at their regular spring meeting, on April 19 chose four of their colleagues as candidates for the office of primate, or national archbishop: George Bruce of the Kingston, Ont.-based diocese of Ontario, Fred Hiltz of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, Bruce Howe of the London-Ont.-based diocese of Huron and Victoria Matthews of Edmonton.

In a three-hour closed session, the 39 bishops voting began with a slate of eight nominees. They did not release the names of the other candidates and there were no additional names proposed from the floor, said Bishop Don Phillips of Winnipeg-based Rupert’s Land, secretary of the house of bishops. Voting went to 14 ballots, since under the rules of the election, no names were dropped from the ballot after each round. When a nominee received a majority of votes, or 20, he or she moved to the candidates’ list, in effect releasing those 20 votes to other candidates for the next round. Voting was fairly evenly spaced among the four finalists, with each taking about three or four ballots to attract a majority. Bishop Phillips declined to give the order in which the four candidates were chosen.

Bishop Bruce was present for the first half of the session, but had to leave at midday when he received news that his daughter-in-law, Margo, had died after a long battle with cancer.

After four names, the bishops voted to end the balloting. The new church leader is scheduled to be elected on June 22 by the 300 delegates at the triennial General Synod governing convention, which will meet in Winnipeg from June 19-25. The primate will be officially installed in office on June 25.

Read the whole article.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Primates, Anglican Provinces, Canadian General Synod 2007

Two new blog views

Two new ways to view the blog, especially for those using mobile phones or hand-held devices.

Headlines only: http://new.kendallharmon.net/wp-content/uploads/index.php/t19/mobile/
Print-Friendly text: http://new.kendallharmon.net/wp-content/uploads/index.php/t19/print/

Here are two other possibilities for viewing T19:

A “Mobile” Template for those who want to see the latest headlines (with links to full stories) and comment totals at a glance with no text or sidebar.

And the Print-Friendly view we linked yesterday. (Note this link is now in the sidebar under Blog Tips & Info). The text of the entries from the main page without the sidebar.

The mobile template especially still may be rough. Comments and critiques welcome.

Posted in * Admin, Blog Tips & Features

Executive Council prepares for communiqué response

During the plenary session, [Katharine] Jefferts Schori and [Bonnie] Anderson reported on their activities since the March Council meeting.

Later in the afternoon, Nigerian Anglican Davis Mac-Iyalla, founder of his country’s only gay-rights organization, Changing Attitude Nigeria, met with Council’s International Concerns (INC) and National Concerns (NAC) committees.

During her remarks to the plenary session, Jefferts Schori told Council that recently she has been contemplating how language can be used to allow for “true conversation” — what she called “non-violent language” — or how “violent language” is used instead for “leaping to judgment.”

The church, Jefferts Schori said, must consider how it interacts with the world. “How do we keep the space open so that we can truly learn from each other?” she asked.

Jefferts Schori also outlined her travel schedule and the various groups and people with whom she has met. Most recently she spent time with Archbishop of Canterbury Dr. Rowan Williams while she was in Washington D.C. last week to testify on global warming before a U.S. Senate committee hearing. Williams is spending much of a three-month sabbatical at Georgetown University.

Anderson concentrated her report to Council on her experience of the Towards Effective Anglican Mission (TEAM) conference in South Africa in March and her subsequent travel to Livingstone, Zambia to participate in the rollout of an Episcopal Relief and Development (ERD) anti-malaria project.

The Episcopal Church’s Chief Operating Officer Linda Watt also gave Council an overview of what she called “the richness of the work” done at the Episcopal Church Center in New York City. She urged Council members to visit the church’s website to access the websites of individual mission and ministry website “where you can really feel the pulse of the work we are doing directly.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Primates, Episcopal Church (TEC), Primates Mtg Dar es Salaam, Feb 2007

Carol Platt Liebau: Why the Immigration Bill Failed

The bill was flawed on its merits. For much of the past three weeks, Americans have had a tutorial on the substance of the immigration bill, and many came to dislike what they saw. From providing permanent temporary visas within the space of a business day to all comers before January 1 – including those from “countries of interest” well-known for their terrorist ties – to the “triggers” that could be largely certified without any meaningful improvement in border security, the bill’s opponents identified the significant dangers and disadvantages hidden in the bill.

Other controversial provisions included the elimination of the EB-1 visa, designed to facilitate the entry to the U.S. of those with exceptional gifts, skills or talents, and (especially for those on the left) the creation of a guest worker program unacceptable to labor unions. In fact, the more its provisions came to light, the more that even long-time self-described “liberals” on immigration like Bill Kristol came to oppose the legislation.

The rollout of the bill was misguided. Like Athena springing full-grown from the head of Zeus, the immigration bill arrived directly on the Senate floor as the product of negotiations between a select group of senators. It bypassed the normal Senate committee system, which allows for both a deliberative and orderly process for the consideration of legislation, and the full airing of amendments. What’s more, it’s been reported that Senator Ted Kennedy admitted that special interest group La Raza was offered a veto over the bill’s provisions – before many other senators even had seen them. The closed-door drafting and special interest input only raised suspicions that the bill was being shoved down America’s throat – concerns that were heightened when the bill’s supporters presented the legislation insisting that it be “debated,” voted upon and passed within the space of a week.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Immigration, Law & Legal Issues

Promoting a Domestic Jewish Agenda

More than 20 Jewish organizations — including many new, Web-based groups — have launched a campaign to get presidential candidates to pay more attention to the domestic concerns of American Jews, saying politicians wrongly view Jews as primarily concerned with Israel and other foreign issues.

The groups’ premise is that the large, older, established Jewish advocacy groups — that have more clout on Capitol Hill — focus too much on foreign issues and don’t speak accurately for the majority of American Jews, who care as much about health care and the environment as anti-Semitism in Europe or Israeli politics.

The coalition’s effort focuses on a survey, conducted online ( http://www.jspot.org) during the past few weeks, in which people were asked to pick their top five domestic issues. Nearly 9,000 people, who were required to include their names, responded, according to results announced yesterday. The top issues picked were health care, the environment, education and civil rights. The coalition will solicit responses to the poll from presidential candidates.

“There is a significant disconnect between the priorities of Jews in this poll and the issues many Jewish groups are working on,” said Mik Moore, spokesman for Jewish Funds for Justice, the New York-based group organizing the effort. Coalition members include popular blogs, a record company, labor and environmental groups and others.

But some longtime Jewish advocates and historians say the campaign is as much about a new generation of activists trying to gain influence and inject their style of social justice work as it is about anything else. The new crop of groups is trying to spread influence through cultural efforts, such as JDub Records and the Jewschool blog, as well as through such traditional grass-roots groups as Jews United for Justice, which focuses on issues such as housing and labor in the D.C. area.

“It’s true that established groups haven’t spoken with one voice on domestic issues, but they have advocated for those things,” said Pamela S. Nadell, professor of history and director of Jewish studies at American University. “What’s happening is these new groups — which are very exciting — are trying to band together to exercise larger political clout.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Judaism, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture

Catholic Scouts shun lawmakers over ethics

The pastor of a Catholic church in Parkville has barred the parish’s Boy Scout troop from associating with elected officials who do not support Catholic moral teaching.

Monsignor James P. Farmer, who came to St. Ursula Catholic Church last year, has told Boy Scout Troop 26 that it cannot let elected officials who supported stem cell research legislation participate in Eagle Scout award ceremonies, nor can the troop visit the legislators at their offices at the State House.

“We were told that no elected official could participate that did not have a record of being pro-life,” said Doug Marquess, the troop’s former committee chairman, who was asked to step down last month after serving three years because of his objections.

The decision has sparked frustration among some members of the troop – and has prompted the Archdiocese Of Baltimore to begin considering how the guidelines should be applied.

“This issue just doesn’t belong with the kids,” Marquess said. “This is about the kids learning to be good citizens and having fun.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

Bishop Steve Jecko: All the vain things that charm me most (Revisited)

This article dates from 2006–KSH.

After 66 years of life, most of them seeking to follow Jesus Christ through my church, the Episcopal Church, I am now convinced that a majority of the leadership of my church has abandoned the apostolic teachings ”” particularly regarding biblical witness to Christian moral behavior ”” that Bishops are charged to protect and promulgate. It is Palm Sunday, 2006 and we are singing one of my favorite hymns today at worship.

“When I survey the wondrous cross, where the young Prince of Glory died, my richest gain I count but loss, and pour contempt on all my pride. Forbid it Lord, that I should boast, save in the cross of Christ my God. All the vain things that charm me most, I sacrifice them to his blood” (The Hymnal 1982, Copyright The Church Pension Fund, 1985).

The words leaped off the page and forced some painful memories. The realization struck me that my life in ECUSA is chief among the vain things that charm me most and that I must be willing to sacrifice them to his blood if my Christian sensibilities are ever again to be in order. What is arguably my “richest gain” (after my wife, children and grandchild) I must be willing to count as loss. And, as a life-long Episcopalian, oh how proud I have been of my ecclesiastical heritage, a pride that in the shadow of the Cross is only vanity.

How did I get to this point?

I went back to some journal notes I kept for a time after my retirement as Bishop of Florida. The events and the pain I was experiencing stunned me. Articulate, competent, and compassionate parish priests of sizable congregations were leaving ECUSA for Orthodoxy, for Rome, and for others parts of the Anglican Communion (with or without my blessing). Despite what the books say about the Episcopate, much of my ministry was to oversee investigations into financial and sexual misconduct among clergy and laity of the diocese ”” leading to more interaction with lawyers, insurance companies, private investigators, and the Law than I ever dreamed possible. I spent inordinate time mediating clergy-parish conflicts, disputes that were due mostly to incompetence, or stupidity, or both ”” and all lacking the basic Christian virtue of forgiveness. Some individuals made serious financial attempts to manipulate my voice and my decisions ”” right out of a Hollywood script. Post-retirement, the silence of supposed colleagues and others I thought were friends was bizarre. Happily, I have now put those depressing moments behind me, vowing to reject that victim role so easy for sinners to embrace.

For 37 years, through five parish ministries, a brief service as a diocesan Canon for Ministry, and then ten years as diocesan bishop, I lived through all of the controversial issues affecting ECUSA since the 60s. Once a credible 1960’s liberal, I soured over the liberal twisting of the plain meaning of scripture, the emptiness of liberal solutions, and the hypocrisy of liberal power grabbing schemes in ECUSA. And, more importantly, I discovered a personal relationship with Christ Jesus I’d never had in seminary. As priest and bishop, I tired of constantly having to defend the apostolic faith ”” not to the world ”” but increasingly to those persons, lay and ordained, who were supposed to be fellow defenders on the journey. For years, I have trusted the plain meaning of the parable of the wheat and the weeds while proclaiming the gospel. The Church’s traditional interpretation is clear: Jesus instructs the servants not to pull up the weeds until the harvest lest they also, accidentally, pull up good grain. Let both grow together until then. “At that time, I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn” (Matt. 13:30). This makes great sense when the harvest is but one season away. In this world, the spiritual harvest has yet to come and the seasons cannot be counted. The Lord is “tarrying,” and from this laborer’s perspective, the weeds are out of control. Leave your garden totally in God’s hands and see what happens! Stewardship of what God has given us is an expectation, and it is so much more than money! We are stewards of the apostolic teaching, the fellowship of believers, the prayers, and the breaking of bread (Acts 2:42). Much is required of us who are so richly blessed.

In the fall of 2004, we left our Florida home by invitation to serve seven months assisting Bishop Stanton in Dallas. The diocese received and welcomed us so graciously that healing of the post-retirement pain could begin. A “recovering bishop” and his wife were suddenly released, free to recover, and we soaked up all the love that laity and clergy alike showered on us. I was preaching, teaching, confirming, and helping wherever the Bishop needed help ”” doing the things bishops are supposed to be doing without diversions for conflict resolution or discipline. With children nearby, and our first grandchild on the way and an invitation to return to Dallas for a nine-month stint on a regular basis, our return to Florida was not to take up residence once again, but to sell our newly built home and move to Texas. “We weren’t born here, but we got here as fast as we could,” as they say in Texas. The healing continues and rational perspectives are returning.

As my thoughts returned to the liturgy, we continued to sing, and all I could hear was a call, a singular and focused call to serve Christ, free of the bondages of the past.

“See, from his head, his hands, his feet, sorrow and love flow mingled down! Did e’er such love and sorrow meet, or thorns compose so rich a crown? Were the whole realm of nature mine, that were an offering far too small; Love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all.”

Again my mind began to wander.

“A ship in harbor is safe, but that’s not what ships are for.” At my consecration, a friend gave to me a framed version of this verse (without attribution), and it slowly captured my attention and my heart as it hung at the entrance to my office over the years. I believe it captures what must be a classic metaphor for the Church, in safe harbor ”¦ that’s not what ships are for.

The good ship ECUSA has been at sea for some time now. It struck an iceberg 40 something years ago, and the bridge seems still in denial even as the ship continues to list to port. Some crew and passengers are starting to abandon ship, and some are still in the dining room listening to the grand orchestra and thinking they are safe. They are not. Their eternal lives are seriously at risk.

The arrogance and isolation of ECUSA leadership on the bridge has left them incapable of saving the ship.
Thomas C. Oden, Henry Anson Buttz professor of theology and ethics emeritus at Drew University and author of the important, new book, Turning around the Mainline, describes the leadership of American mainline churches, including ECUSA, this way:

“The mainline elite have become so fixated on friendly sentiment, hyper-toleration, and superficial unity that it has tended to brush under the rug all norms except egalitarian political correctness. Much liberal leadership has become so narrowly politicized, and so out of touch with the lay constituency, that the faithful no longer can take at face value any of the facile promises of the leadership. There is serious doubt as to whether that leadership knows how, even if it desired to do so” (p.71).

Paul’s words suddenly come to mind, “See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ”
(Col. 2:8). And his closing words to Timothy, “Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to your care. Turn away from godless chatter and opposing ideas of what is falsly called knowledge, which some have professed and in so doing have wandered from the faith. Grace be with you” (I Tim. 6:20f).

In my experience, the believing laity of the Church are generally quite healthy. The leadership, however, needs a Physician. Oden believes that truth mandates a “confessing movement” among the mainline churches ”” confessing human sin and confessing Jesus Christ as Lord. While many individual believers do this faithfully from their heart, their confession does not seem to find its way to an adequate expression in the “governing councils, or elite governing boards and politically oriented agencies to which lay believers commit funds and support.” Oden believes at a minimum it will take a “a new seriousness about the Bible as the norm of Christian doctrine ”¦ The theological method of orthodoxy is centered in Scripture, viewed in the light of classical Christian tradition, made plausible through rational argument and the experienced presence of God in our lives” (Ibid). These are the basics of seamanship. Interestingly, I understand that the Archbishop of Canterbury originally suggested, after the 2003 General Convention, that the Americans form a “confessing” network of dioceses and parishes, perhaps with the 1930’s German Church in mind. The Americans changed the adjective to “Anglican Communion” network to appeal to American Anglican sensibilities.

Seamanship (gospel living) requires that the Church navigate by the Great Commission of our Lord in
Matt. 28:16-19, which is a mandate to structure the institution after the expectations of the Owner. That’s what the ship is for! Form follows function in the Church as well as in architecture. The Body of Christ (parish, diocese, or triennial convention) must incarnate itself in a manner that makes the pursuit of the Great Commission a normal function of life, a “second-nature” reflexive response to the world for which He died and rose again ”” not simply a piecemeal part of the annual budget.

I hold no illusions. No ship is perfect. Some, like the Mercy Ships ministry, still know why they exist, where they are going, and how to get there. They know how to navigate. I believe the American Province of the Anglican Communion has an inoperative moral compass and, barring a miracle, is destined to float aimlessly into maritime oblivion. Our distress is not because of the issues around human sexuality, as emotional and important as these issues are. Our distress is the result of a departure from basic seamanship. The Owner loves every member of His crew and passengers. He will do all He can to save them. However, they must cooperate. The decades old failure of a captain and crew in ECUSA to embrace and act upon the divine self-revelation in Jesus Christ and in the Word of God written ”” the reliable compass that the Owner has given us to navigate this world ”” does little to encourage would-be passengers.

We could envision replacing the ship’s crew with those whom the Owner has handpicked, but unless the ship is completely refitted for the Great Commission, as form follows function, nothing will change. For our own good, maritime law and free but costly grace requires that a ship be seaworthy. We know what to do. Will we do it? Unequivocal acceptance of the terms of the Windsor Report would be a sign of good faith to the Owner and to the rest of the fleet, but ”¦ refitting the ship will require much more. “All the vain things that charm me most, I sacrifice them to his blood.” Yes. This is the true paradigm. Let’s start “sacrificing” with the ship. After a time for refit in dry dock, let’s set sail in a seaworthy ship with a trained captain and crew and paying passengers seeking their Way, all of whom desire to do true and godly service while at sea.

When captain, crew and passengers understand and practice gospel living on board a ship at sea, it is awesome to behold ”” a voyage worthy of the Owner. They honor the Owner who blesses them beyond belief. I want to be part of such a ship’s crew. I’m looking for a ship that still has a moral compass (I’d prefer a GPS). I’m looking for a captain and crew who know how to use a compass, with all its magnetic imperfections ”” who know how to navigate the world, from culture to culture, from nation to nation, and from heart to heart. The Owner has other ships in the Anglican fleet standing abeam our midship, and they are ready to provide assistance. They have sent instructions. The present bridge party seems blissfully to be ignoring their advice.

“Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” The liturgy is ending. Your Body and Blood now have nourished me for a few more days at sea. Today I believe I have entered Jerusalem with our Lord, perhaps for the first time in my life. I pray that I am prepared for what is to come.

Almighty God, we thank you for the acts of love by which you have redeemed us through your Son Jesus Christ our Lord. On this day, he entered the holy city Jerusalem in triumph, and those who spread their garments and branches of palm along his way proclaimed Him as King of kings. Empower us so that we, who hail Him as our King, may follow Him in the way that leads to eternal life. Amen.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Richard Rorty RIP

Richard Rorty, the American philosopher and social critic who died on Friday aged 75, was a highly influential figure in what came to be known as “postmodernism”.

To his admirers and disciples Rorty was “the most interesting philosopher in the world today” and “one of the most provocative and influential thinkers of our time”.

But his views did not want for opposition. Rorty himself wrote, for his own entry in the Penguin Reference Dictionary of Philosophy: “Although frequently accused of raving irrationalism and unconscionable frivolity by the political Right, and of insufficient radicalism, as well as premature anti-Communism, by the political Left, I think of myself as sharing John Dewey’s political attitudes and hopes, as well as his pragmatism.”

He was certainly unusual among philosophers in being widely read outside his own discipline. In part this may have been because he advised students that they need not bother reading Plato, Aristotle, Kant, Hegel or, indeed, much of the rest of 3,000 years’ worth of accumulated philosophical wisdom. Instead Rorty argued for a moderated form of pragmatism derived from the ideas of Nietzsche, William James and, above all, Dewey.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Philosophy

Memorial Gifts in Thanksgiving for the Life and Ministry of Bishop Stephen Jecko

The Jecko family has requested that donations in Bishop Jecko’s memory be sent to the Anglican Relief and Development Fund or The Ekklesia Society.

Checks should be sent with a note in the memo line “Jecko Memorial” to:

ARDF, 535 Smithfield St., Ste. 910, Pittsburgh, PA 15222

The Ekklesia Society, PO Box 118526, Carrollton, TX 75011-8526

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

Romney’s Run Has Mormons Wary of Scrutiny

In this wide valley where the twin spires of the Mormon temple dominate the landscape and some neighborhoods have a Mormon chapel every few blocks, Mitt Romney’s bid for president is both a proud sign of progress and a cause of trepidation.

Many Mormons here are rooting for Mr. Romney, a fellow church member whose success in business, Adonis looks and wholesome family tableau seem to them to present the ideal face of Mormonism to the world. Among the Republican front-runners, Mr. Romney, former governor of Massachusetts, recently was the leader in campaign fund-raising; his candidacy is, for many Mormons, a historic moment of arrival.

“He represents the best of what the church can produce,” said Kenneth W. Godfrey, 73, a historian of Mormonism and of this valley about 80 miles north of church headquarters in Salt Lake City.

But even for the many Mormons who support Mr. Romney, the moment is fraught with anxiety because his candidacy is bringing intense scrutiny to their church, and could exacerbate longstanding bigotry.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, as the Mormon Church is called, has been fighting for legitimacy since its founding 177 years ago in upstate New York. The church’s first prophet, Joseph Smith Jr., was killed by a mob in Illinois and his followers fled from persecution and settled in Utah.

While Mormons are by now successfully integrated and prospering in the American mix, memories of that persecution are still fresh. Many current members can trace their great-great-grandparents to the church’s earliest pioneers, and children grow up reading their ancestors’ original diaries. Many Mormons fear that Mr. Romney’s campaign may reopen old wounds.

“I thought we might get mud thrown at us,” said Lula DeValve, 82, a retired teacher and a Democrat who volunteers with the League of Women Voters.

John Hatch, 30, a history student at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, said, “What most Mormons desire is acceptance.”

“We see ourselves as normal,” Mr. Hatch said. “We struggle with those outsiders who see us as weird ”” the magic underwear stuff,” a reference to the ritual garments that Mormons are supposed to wear under their clothing.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Mormons, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, US Presidential Election 2008

Pastor faces test of faith

Dell, who never backed down even when the United Methodist Church convicted him in 1999 of violating a ban on blessing homosexual unions, is being forced into retirement by his condition. Next Saturday the church will host a farewell event for Dell as he abruptly ends his career two years earlier than planned.

The crippling neurological disease has caused Dell, a pastor for nearly four decades, to question his own words on the power of faith. In frustration, the pastor asked himself: Do you really believe what you’ve been preaching? Do you believe that God is dependable, even in the worst of circumstances?

“This has pushed me in terms of my faith,” Dell said during an interview in his office. “First, this sense of anger and loss. Why is this happening? How dare the universe conspire to take away my last two years? Not God, but the universe! So the challenge for me, then, was to be open to what I’ve said in my preaching for 37 years and that is: God doesn’t cause human suffering. But in the midst of it, God always works to open another door or another window.

“I’m at the end of one rope, but it’s more like a trapeze, letting go of one and looking for the next one that’s coming toward me.”

Part of the struggle in facing the disease, Dell said, is that clergy are usually trained not to be angry or grieve. They are taught that God’s got it all under control. “Well, I don’t see it that way,” Dell said.

“I think anger and grief are signs of how precious life is. Precisely because life is precious and valuable, we should be angry and we should grieve when life is assaulted. I remind myself that there is legitimacy in being angry. But not to get stuck there. To be open to that next door, that next window that might be beginning to open.”

Dell’s 1999 conviction sent repercussions throughout the 8 million-member United Methodist Church, the nation’s second-largest Protestant denomination, leading to deeper divisions on homosexuality and talk of schism. He was suspended from ministry indefinitely, but an appeal limited the suspension to one year and he returned to Broadway United in July 2000.

Even after his highly publicized church trial and suspension, Dell continued to allow gay couples to affirm their unions in his church, almost a dozen times in the last seven years.

To abide by church law that bars Methodist clergy from marrying people of the same sex, Dell says he does not marry the couples. Instead, he provides couples who already consider themselves wed an opportunity to share their vows in the church.

“I often talk about ministry of the loopholes,” Dell said. “But it’s not the kind of thing that makes headlines because technically we’re legal.”

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Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Methodist, Other Churches, Sexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)

Foreign Missionaries Find Fertile Ground in Europe

The “Amens!” flew like popcorn in hot oil as 120 Christian worshipers clapped and danced and praised Jesus as if He’d just walked into the room. In a country where about 2 percent of the population attend church regularly and many churches draw barely enough worshipers to fill a single pew, the Sunday morning service at this old mission hall was one rocking celebration.

In the middle of all the keyboards, drums and hallelujahs, Stendor Johansen, a blond Danish sea captain built like a 180-pound ice cube, sang along and danced, as he said, like a Dane — without moving.

“The Danish church is boring,” said Johansen, 45, who left the state-run Danish Evangelical Lutheran Church three years ago and joined this high-octane interdenominational church run by a missionary pastor from Singapore. “I feel energized when I leave one of these services.”

The International Christian Community (ICC) is one of about 150 churches in Denmark that are run by foreigners, many from Africa, Asia and Latin America, part of a growing trend of preachers from developing nations coming to Western Europe to set up new churches or to try to reinvigorate old ones.

For centuries, when Europe was the global center of Christianity, millions of European missionaries traveled to other continents to spread their faith by establishing schools and churches. Now, with European church attendance at all-time lows and a dearth of preachers in the pulpits, thousands of “reverse missionaries” are flocking back, migrating from poor countries to rich ones to preach the Gospel where it has fallen out of fashion.

The phenomenon signals a fundamental shift in the power, style and geography of Christianity, the world’s largest religion. Most of its more than 2 billion adherents now live in the developing world. And as vast numbers of them migrate to Europe, as well as to the United States, they are filling pews and changing worship styles.

Churches in countries such as Nigeria, Ghana, South Korea and the Philippines have sent thousands of missionaries to Europe to set up churches in homes, office buildings and storefronts. Officials from the Redeemed Christian Church of God, a Pentecostal church based in Nigeria, said they have 250 churches in Britain now and plan to create 100 more this year. Britain’s largest church, run by a Nigerian pastor in London, attracts up to 12,000 people over three services every Sunday.

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Posted in * International News & Commentary, Europe, Theology, Theology: Evangelism & Mission

Tom Krattenmaker: A pious nation?

There can be no doubting the piety of American society in this, the first decade of the 21st century. It’s old news by now: The powerful influence of conservative Christians on culture and politics. An outwardly Christian president in the White House. Survey data showing the vast majority of Americans pray, believe in God and consider religion important in their lives.

“Pious,” however, means something different than “religious.” While both convey devotion to God and ultimate truth, “pious” also suggests showiness, sanctimony, even hypocrisy ”” a gap between words and action. Such a gap, unfortunately, seems glaringly on display when we survey the social landscape around us. If one is to judge by our care for the common good, American society today is more pious than consistently and truly religious.

Let’s start with violence, a phenomenon hard to square with New Testament teachings about living in peace and Old Testament commandments not to kill one another. For all our virtues, we are beyond doubt a violent society, inundated by weapons, murders and pop culture glorification of violence to a degree unmatched by other First World nations.

The massacre at Virginia Tech this spring might seem an extreme case. Defenders of gun rights warn against overreaction, claiming that mass shootings, however horrific, are quite rare. In truth, Virginia Tech-style massacres happen every day, albeit in less dramatic form. Statistics show that gun violence kills close to 30,000 people a year in America, or about 80 a day ”” more than double the number slain in Blacksburg, Va. Is this what one should expect of a country guided by Jesus, the “Prince of Peace”?

Then there is the violence projected by our government. Here, too, it is impossible to claim that America is a peaceful nation in the image of Christ. Under the Bush administration, the United States has pursued an aggressive foreign policy and a war in Iraq that theologians struggle to justify with Christian doctrines about morally defensible war. Certainly, the case can be made that dangerous forces left our government with no choice but to fight. But the question must be raised again: Is our behavior as a nation consistent with our ostensibly Christian character?

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Religion & Culture

Cuba's first woman Episcopal bishop ordained

The Episcopal Church broke new ground in Cuba on Sunday by ordaining its first woman bishop in the developing world at a ceremony that mixed incense with rhythmic Caribbean music.

The Rev. Nerva Cot said she will bring a feminine touch to leadership of her church’s small but growing congregation in communist Cuba, where religious worship was freed a decade ago.

A dozen bishops from North, Central and South America and Europe attended the consecration of Cot and Ulises Aguero as suffragan, or auxiliary, bishops at Havana’s Episcopal Cathedral of the Holy Trinity. The Cuban church is part of the Worldwide Anglican Communion.

“This is an important date for the Anglican Communion because there are so few women bishops among us, only 11,” said Canada’s Archbishop Andrew Hutchison, who headed the ceremony.

“There is a vitality and a deep enthusiasm in Cuba that is an important gift to a church that has too often been very conservative,” Hutchison told reporters.

Christian Cubans are overwhelmingly Roman Catholic, and the Episcopal Church has only 5,000 baptized followers in the country.

Cot, who favors allowing gays to become priests, said she hopes her role will encourage other Latin American countries to broaden diversity in the Episcopal Church.

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