Daily Archives: September 19, 2007

Benjamin Chimes In

I was thrilled last year to hear my family’s friend, the author Katherine Paterson, interviewed on NPR. I was quite *interested* — but I wouldn’t say thrilled — to hear the contribution of another person I know, on NPR the other day. Another “Silver Bay person”, in fact.

This was Kendall Harmon; I guess these days, that’s the Reverend, Dr., Kendall Harmon. When I knew him, he was a kid at Silver Bay, NY, a couple years older than me. Just another of the “big kids”, into sports and stuff. His family’s very well known and respected in Silver Bay; his mom was a prominent, I guess you’d say, liberal social activist; she just recently died, and is much-missed. Kendall was, and is, very smart and eloquent; but his own personal direction and focus seems to be a little… different…I guess he is becoming one of the mainstays of the Christian Conservative movement; or so I hear. It seems his particular focus is the anti-gay crusade, bringing the Bible back into the Bedroom, that sort of thing. Funny how our paths have diverged…

So it’s not surprising that I’d find my views differ with Kendall’s, on most things. What is surprising is that I found myself *agreeing* with him, in his contribution to this story.

So this NPR story concerned a minister in Seattle, a woman of last name Redding, who is controversial because she is both Muslim and Christian. She started out Christian, but had a faith-moment where she also accepted the tenets of Islam, but you wouldn’t call it a “conversion” because she (in her own mind) still holds to Christianity as well. For her, it is not contradictory to accept both. But her church has suspended her from ministry, because *they* find it contradictory; well, the leadership so finds it: her congregation supports her. So it makes for a good story, and I’m interested that I didn’t know about it already as a local story, before hearing it on NPR.

Kendall’s point — which seems to be one of his running themes, bringing the church back to a stricter interpretation of scripture –was that regardless of what feels OK to this person personally, the scripture of Christianity is quite clear (he says — I don’t know if it is or it isn’t but I think it might be) that you can have no other messiahs or prophets than Jesus.

Read it all. Now, I bumped into this the other day and had a debate with myself about posting it since I really do not like to talk much about me on the blog.

So, why the post? A number of reasons. First, because it illustrates the complexity of the current debate in terms of where people are coming from. Who would guess that my Mom was like that? People don’t fit into pigeonholes, they are complex, and when the media stories try to portray things in terms of American politics or a two category scheme–this versus that–they miss key dimensions of the struggle and the people involved.

Second, this is a good example of what one of my friends calls the everyone-who-has-a-keyboard-is-a-Pope phenomenon on the Internet. You get partial information–sometimes very partial, but then the conclusions drawn do not necessarily follow. Nevertheless the person at the keyboard can and does make them. We have more information in the information age, but, alas, not more wisdom.

The conclusions drawn here are false, but they are typical. I know this author, he is very gifted and bright, and comes from a wonderful family. But how can he say: “So it’s not surprising that I’d find my views differ with Kendall’s, on most things.” Most things? Good heavens! How many things does he know we differ about? We have not even talked about it at all. One difference does not lead to a host of other differences. I have in my email bag from the last year a note from a communications director in one of the Episcopal Church’s dioceses which essentially says: “I differ with you on just about every aspect of the Episcopal Church but I thought you would like to know…”.–and then she sent me some information. The name and the diocese are not important. But how could she know we differ on all those things? I would lay odds that it isn’t true, but it is another example of the kinds of false assumptions and judgments made, all based on one issue and one stand. And this happens by reasserters in their evaluation of reappraisers AND vice versa.

Finally, this is a good illustration of the way in which caricatures get constructed. I am not actually about “bringing the church back to a stricter interpretation of scripture.” I am trying to enable the church of which I am a part to read the Scriptures with the church–both spread through history and throughout the world. Unfortunately I am in a church which is in the process of so losing the center of the Christian faith that to raise these questions means one is caricatured (falsely) this way. Actually, I am regularly accused of being a “liberal” in many settings (and was in fact criticized as one on the floor of one of our own diocesan Conventions at one time, for putting forward a resolution against a state sponsored lottery in South Carolina). That in any case is a longer story for another time.

I would like to see more provisional judgments, less caricatures, and less of a tendency to turn one or two observations or articles into a detailed evaluation of someone else’s perspective. Both the issues and the people involved get short shrift as that is done–KSH.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Religion News & Commentary, Episcopal Church (TEC), Inter-Faith Relations, Islam, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Faiths, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Conflicts

Peter Toon: American Anglican Chaos (September 2007) & The Windsor Rep

And because of the pressure of modern communication, especially e-mail, the ancient virtues of careful discrimination and godly patience have been made nearly impossible to exercise. At the same time the internal recognition by the African Provinces that their position has been totally reversed from being the subjects of colonialism to calling the tune in the Global Anglican Family has caused a kind of irrational euphoria to arise in their midst and cause them to take actions that they may regret down the line.

Thus though Lambeth Conference 2008 (the chief Instrument of Unity of the Anglican Communion) is not far away there is not the readiness amongst the seceders in North America or by their friends abroad to restrain actions until that date””in fact there is not the readiness on the part of four African Provinces to wait even until September 30, 2007, when TEC Bishops are required by the Primates’ Meeting to come clean on where they stand and will stand.

There were all kinds of other possible ways of caring for the seceders from TEC and ACC by overseas bishops as we all waited patiently for Lambeth 2008, after which there could have been if necessary concerted action. Though TEC and ACC have behaved badly and continue to do so, the exercise of Christian virtue by the displaced and the seceders could have been increased by the abundant grace of God in this crisis. Perseverance and patience (see Romans 5:1ff) could have been in place in the relatively short wait until Lambeth 2008””and as long afterward as necessary to set in motion healing and edifying actions and institutions.

It is much easier to destroy a house than built a new one; it is much easier to consecrate bishops and send them into the vast territory of the USA and Canada than it is, in a couple of years time, to bring them all together into unity in a new province””unity together with former bishops of TEC, of REC, of APA, of the Canadian Church and of various Continuing Anglican Groups.

It is possible””in fact likely if we take the history of religion in the USA as a guide””that we are now witnessing the permanent multiplication of Anglican jurisdictions in North America, adding to those caused by the schisms of 1873 and 1977 (the REC and the variety of Continuing Anglican Churches).

This is extremely sad and brings grief and sorrow to genuine Anglican hearts. It seems as though the whole Anglican Way has been blown apart not only by the infidelity of leaders in TEC & ACC but also by the excessive zeal of African Provinces.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Archbishop of Canterbury, Episcopal Church (TEC), Global South Churches & Primates, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts

Church of England Newspaper: Three questions for the USA

By George Conger

THE ARCHBISHOP of Canterbury has set three questions for the American Church to answer at this week’s meeting of the US House of Bishops in New Orleans. Failure to pass the test, which will be graded by the primates of the Anglican Communion, may result in the de facto expulsion of the Episcopal
Church from the Anglican Communion. While no legal mechanism exists to expel a member church from the Communion, should the Episcopal Church deign not to comply with the unanimous request of the Primates, the current structure of the Communion would not likely stand the stress, and crack up.

The US House of Bishops will be asked:

1. To clarify the meaning and intent of the Episcopal Church’s 2006 General Convention resolution B033, which pledged the bishops to refrain from consenting to the election of bishops whose ”˜manner of life’ would pose a challenge to the Communion,

2. To clarify their stance on the blessing of same-sex unions. While the Prayer Book does not permit the practice, several dioceses had authorised rites for the blessing of gay unions as a ”˜pastoral’ measure, and

3. To explain its views on a proposed Anglican Covenant. While the final Covenant document has not been drafted, should the American Church refuse to consider endorsing any pan-Anglican agreement, it would render the exercise moot.

The US Presiding Bishop, Katharine Jefferts Schori, is expected to reintroduce proposals for a ”˜primatial vicar’ who would exercise metropolitan authority on her behalf for conservatives. The proposal was first made Last November, but conservatives rejected it, saying the proposal lacked any guarantees or accountability.

The Presiding Bishop is understood to have canvassed a number of bishops about the primatial vicar plan, including one participant in the Camp Allen meetings of moderate and conservative bishops and had been given conflicting advice as to the suitability of her proposal. Fort Worth Bishop Jack Iker told The Church of England Newspaper any plan that kept his diocese under the authority of Bishop Schori was a non-starter.

From the left, a group of five bishops has prepared a 98-page paper that rejects the primates’ pastoral scheme. They argue that the plans violated the Episcopal Church’s polity. But one of the purported authors of that document, Upper South Carolina Bishop Dorsey Henderson, disassociated himself from it, saying
the bishops had a duty to guard the faith and unity of the Church.

“I believe bishops have authority and responsibility to act quite apart from General Convention, and you need look no further than the catechism in The Book of Common Prayer from where my views derive,” he said.

–This article appears in the Church of England Newspaper, September 21,2007 edition, on page one

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Primates, Archbishop of Canterbury, Episcopal Church (TEC), Primates Mtg Dar es Salaam, Feb 2007, Same-sex blessings, Sept07 HoB Meeting, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts

Michael Jensen: Rowan Williams and Hermeneutics

How does William come to place ”˜judgement’ in such a significant position?

The answer, as Williams painstakingly works it out in a number of studies, is hermeneutical. Williams largely accepts that almost two centuries of historical-critical work on the text of the Bible have made reading scripture as a seamless unity hopelessly naïve. However, this is not a cause for dismay as far as Williams is concerned. Contrary to those older liberal voices who would see the authority of scripture as greatly diminished by historical criticism of the Bible, Williams actually sees the authority and significance of scripture as found in the diverse, inchoate and evidently worked-on text. The phenomenon of scripture always incorporated within its boundaries a plurality of voices and indeed a plurality of perspectives. The historical criticism has only revealed what was in fact always the case: that the New Testament is the record of the first awed, stumbling responses to an encounter with Jesus of Nazareth. We should not expect consistency; in fact, we should be delighted not to find it, because their inarticulacy and disagreements give us hope that our meagre efforts at talking about God are not ultimately futile, whatever their inadequacy.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Archbishop of Canterbury, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Reuters: U.S. Episcopal church faces another showdown on gays

At the top of the agenda is a “request” issued by the presiding Anglican bishops meeting in Africa earlier this year that the 2.4-million-member U.S. church, by September 30, clearly renounce the blessing of same-sex marriages and make it clear it will not allow more non-celibate gays to become bishops.

The U.S. church in 2003 consecrated Gene Robinson of New Hampshire as the first bishop known to be in an openly gay relationship in more than four centuries of church history.

That not only caused dissension and defection within the U.S. church but riled defenders of traditional Christianity in African, Asian and Latin American congregations that now account for half of the world’s Anglican followers.

And it left Williams with an increasingly difficult task of keeping the loose federation of Anglicans under one tent without alienating the U.S. church whose wealth gives it power far beyond its numbers in Anglican operations worldwide.

The Episcopalians have never issued a pronouncement for or against the blessing of gay unions, although the practice is common in some congregations. At its general convention in 2006, the U.S. church adopted a resolution urging congregations to “exercise restraint” in elevating anyone to bishop whose “manner of life presents a challenge to the wider church.”

Read it all. Many leaders and some dioceses consider resolution C051from the 2003 General Convention to be an approval for same sex blessings, which is why more dioceses are engaging in it since 2003. The key as I have said earlier in response to Bishop Henry Parsley’s misrepresentation is that “local pastoral provision” for blessings is to cease. As for resolution B033, it did not do what the Windsor Report asked. Be sure to factcheck all articles and blog entries this week and seek to read from a variety of points of view–KSH.

Update: My minority report on C051 available here is an important document to reread, especially this section:

3. On point five, we wish to state in the strongest possible terms that, far from being consonant with the Primate’s Pastoral Letter, this is a denial of it. We quote from that letter, “The Archbishop of Canterbury spoke for us all when he said that it is through liturgy that we express what we believe, and that there is no theological consensus about same-sex unions. Therefore, we as a body cannot support the authorization of such rites.”
Thus, the Primate’s letter, in the strongest language and with a clear intent, implored this church not to develop such rites. This resolution is a complete and arrogant repudiation of the clear intention of the leaders of our church.
4. On point five, we ask the question, “What does it mean ”˜to experience’ such liturgies?” A simple reading of this language flies in the face of the intention of the Primate’s letter as it raises the question of how one can “experience” a liturgy without actually performing such a liturgy. Thus, this resolution has the effect of authorizing the performing of (quoting the resolution) “celebrating and blessing same-sex unions.”

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Archbishop of Canterbury, Episcopal Church (TEC), Same-sex blessings, Sept07 HoB Meeting, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts

Christian Science Monitor: Tension as Episcopal bishops meet

“What do you do with the hundreds of thousands of Episcopalians who say, ‘I can’t go there’?” asks the Rev. Russell Levenson, rector of St. Martin’s Episcopal Church in Houston, the largest Episcopal church in the United States. “We have to find a way to allow both groups to live with their own convictions within the body of Christ.”

Depending on the bishops’ response, some foresee a “pulling apart” of many additional congregations, spurring divisive and costly battles over property.

On Thursday, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams and a committee of global Anglican leaders will meet with the House of Bishops in New Orleans to discuss the crisis. Most observers expect the bishops will not make the commitments the Anglican leaders have requested, but will say instead that they alone cannot speak for the church ”“ that the general convention involving lay people and clergy must give any official response. The convention doesn’t meet again until 2009.

“Those who pushed for this response knew it would be difficult to deliver on those requests,” says the Rev. Ian Douglas of Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Mass. “They are hoping, I suspect, this is another line in the sand.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Primates, Archbishop of Canterbury, Episcopal Church (TEC), Primates Mtg Dar es Salaam, Feb 2007, Same-sex blessings, Sept07 HoB Meeting, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts

Bishop Wolf of Rhode Island on the House of Bishops Meeting

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

I write to you out of deep prayer for the life of our Episcopal Church and Anglican Communion.

The House of Bishops’ meeting begins on Wednesday evening, September 19th, with the first two days spent in the honored company of Archbishop Rowan Williams, Primates from the Joint Standing Committee, and other invited guests.

Primarily, we are being called to offer a response to the Windsor Report (including an Anglican covenant), and the Primates’ Communiqué from Dar es Salaam. Once the meeting adjourns, the Archbishop is to consult with other Primates to consider a response to our deliberations and resolutions, after which they will give us a timely response. In addition, we will discuss the MDG’s, spend a day working in New Orleans, and visit neighboring parishes on Sunday morning.

On Wednesday, September 26th, I will arrive home about two hours before the regularly scheduled meeting of Diocesan Council, and will communicate with you as soon as I am able.

Please pray for me and all our bishops. I leave for this meeting with a deep sense of anxiety, and my prayers have been for wisdom and humility at a time when there seems to be growing entrenchment and self-righteousness. May we honor one another in the honor and glory that is God’s gift through Jesus Christ.

May God bless all of us.

(The Rt. Rev.) Geralyn Wolf is Bishop of Rhode Island

[The Source for this is here].

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Primary Source, -- Statements & Letters: Bishops, Anglican Primates, Archbishop of Canterbury, Episcopal Church (TEC), Primates Mtg Dar es Salaam, Feb 2007, Same-sex blessings, Sept07 HoB Meeting, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts

New Orleans Becomes the accidental backdrop for a high-stakes meeting to save Anglican Communion

The bishops’ schedule calls for closed-door meetings with Williams all day Thursday and Friday morning. First among the Episcopal bishops will be Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, a defender of faithful gays and lesbians, who was elected last summer.

Representatives of overseas primates demanding change also will sit in on the talks, according to a schedule the church released.

“It seems now the way it’s going to work is they’re going to have to go home and digest what they’ve heard” before declaring their response to whatever the Americans put forward, [Louisiana Bishop] Jenkins said.

Few observers expect the Episcopal bishops to retreat from their steady course of the past 30 years.

“We expect the House of Bishops will continue the direction they’ve already set,” said Peter Frank, a spokesman for the Anglican Communion Network, a fellowship of nine conservative dioceses and 650 to 700 congregations. He said conservative bishops will leave the New Orleans meeting when Williams leaves. The meeting is scheduled to continue until Tuesday.

[Louisiana Bishop] Jenkins said he and 10 co-signers will offer a resolution that tracks the overseas primates’ wishes: banning same-sex rites, ending ordination of gay bishops, and establishing some kind of alternative Episcopal leadership for conservative congregations.

But he said his highest priority is to hold the communion together even with its divisions.

Read it all.

Update: [i]Here’s a better link to get the whole article on one page.[/i]

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Primates, Archbishop of Canterbury, Episcopal Church (TEC), Primates Mtg Dar es Salaam, Feb 2007, Same-sex blessings, Sept07 HoB Meeting, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts

A Letter to the TEC Bishops from Bishop David McCall, Diocese of Bunbury, Australia

To the Bishops of The Episcopal Church

My dear sisters and brothers,

Forgive me writing a general letter. I assure you of my prayers for God’s rich blessing on your meeting with Archbishop Rowan at the end of this month. I had thought about writing for some time, but dismissed the idea. What could a bishop the other side of the world say that would be helpful? When one of my clergy came to me distressed about the state of the Communion, I decided to write.

I write as one who loves the Anglican Communion and who was deeply impressed by the vitality and life of The Episcopal Church when I spent two weeks in the USA after the last Lambeth Conference. I have also had the joy of getting to know a number of you through the last two Lambeth Conferences. The breadth of learning, the beauty of worship, the social outreach programs and your generosity are all marks of a Church which gives a great deal to the Communion.

The events of recent years, which have led to tensions and division (including the establishment of rival jurisdictions supported by some bishops in other parts of the Communion) have filled many of us with deep distress and anguish.

I know that these things have caused much pain in The Episcopal Church and that you must be dismayed at the possibility of any further fracture of our Communion. It seems no matter what you decide as bishops, there will be pain and grief in your Church and in the wider Communion.

Whether there is anything that can help mend the net I do not know, yet I pray from the depth of my anguish that you will be able to take steps, painful as they may be, which will go some way towards ameliorating the situation we are now in.

At a personal level I am committed to the process of listening to those who have different perspectives about human sexuality. The last Lambeth calls us all to this commitment. People of homosexual orientation make an enormous contribution to the Church. We are bound to find a place for them and to thank God for them. It grieves me that we cannot listen to one another and respect our different interpretations of the sacred Scriptures.

It is also true that the Lambeth Conference and the Communion generally take a conservative view on the matter of human sexuality. My prayer and my appeal to you, my sisters and brothers, is that you will reconsider your decision earlier this year not to accept the recommendation of the Primates about making provision for those Episcopalians who currently feel alienated, and about consecrations in the future. It seems to me we are bound to do all in our power to assist those who are alienated, even if some of their actions have made charity very difficult.

If the recommendation of the Primates is implemented, there can be no place for the kind of action that we have seen recently with the consecration of bishops for the USA by bishops of other provinces. It grieves me and astounds me that such action was taken before the visit of Archbishop Rowan and without regard for any possible decision you might make.

Were you to accept the recommendation of the Primates, there would be no justification for setting up or continuing rival jurisdictions. It would also remove the grounds for any suggestion that The Episcopal Church should not be included fully in our Communion. We need you, just as we need the other member Churches. To see the Communion break apart would be to demonstrate that Anglicanism is not able to offer a broken and divided humanity the kind of unity and charity our world needs more than anything else.

It is my intention to send this letter to a number of other bishops in the Communion. Love and unity is a two-way matter. If The Episcopal Church takes such a step, then the whole Communion is called to respond appropriately.

Be assured of my love for you and my continuing prayers,

Your brother in Christ,

(The Rt. Rev.) David McCall, Bishop of Bunbury, Australia

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church of Australia, Anglican Provinces, Episcopal Church (TEC), Sept07 HoB Meeting, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts

Atlanta: Episcopal church beginning to divide

Some predict more Episcopalians will peel away from the American church unless American bishops back off the gay issues this weekend.

And it does not appear the bishops will do that, said David Hein, chairman of the religion department at Hood College in Maryland and author of a book on the history of Episcopalians in the U.S.

“As far as I can tell, they will take themselves out of Anglican communion and be, in effect, one very tiny American sect (Episcopalians are about 2.3 million of 77 million Anglicans worldwide.) And they will probably drift farther and farther to the left without the ballast of the Anglican communion,” Hein said.

Bishop J. Neil Alexander of Georgia remained hopeful Episcopalians will be able to avoid a break in fellowship.

“I am always hopeful. In the last year I have attended several Anglican Communion meetings with representation from all around the world. There is a strong web of relationships…that transcend the disagreements of the present time.

“I believe that ultimately those relationships will continue to flourish and that we are already well on the way to keeping the focus of our life together on mission and ministry in the name of Jesus and for the sake of the world,” Alexander said in an e-mail to the paper.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Archbishop of Canterbury, Episcopal Church (TEC), Same-sex blessings, Sept07 HoB Meeting, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts

Louisiana Investigators make an arrest in the murder of an Episcopal Priest 15 years ago

Watch it all. It is a horrible story, but there is a beautiful plaque shown at the end. Prayers for all involved–KSH.

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

As if things weren't already interesting enough…

Although it’s not even a formal tropical depression, lots of folks are keeping an eye on a tropical disturbance just off the East Coast of Florida, which models currently have aiming towards Louisiana over the weekend. Things that make one go hmmmmm.

Posted in Uncategorized

The Bishop of California: Comments on the Covenant

What is wrong with the proposed Covenant

Its origins are shallow, being primarily the Windsor Report, and the “recent life of the Instruments of Communion;” that is, rather than drawing upon our scriptural and larger tradition sources, the Covenant is based on a recently prepared report that has immediately gained authoritative status usually only granted documents tested by time, and upon recent experience of a body of leaders of the Communion.

Related to this last point, the Covenant was drafted in response to urgency, a sense of ”˜severe strain.” While at times we must recognize genuine emergencies and respond with rapidity, in crafting guidelines intended to direct the inter-life of the vast, sprawling Anglican Communion over time, we should hope for a creative climate of peace, of dynamic shalom, rather than stress and anxiety.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Primary Source, -- Statements & Letters: Bishops, Anglican Covenant, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops

Court Upholds Maryland Same Sex Marriage Ban

Maryland’s highest court on Tuesday upheld a state law defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman, ending a lawsuit filed by same-sex couples who claimed they were being denied equal protection under the law.

Maryland’s 1973 ban on gay marriage does not discriminate on the basis of gender and does not deny any fundamental rights, the Court of Appeals ruled in a 4-3 decision. It also said the state has a legitimate interest in promoting opposite-sex marriage.

“Our opinion should by no means be read to imply that the General Assembly may not grant and recognize for homosexual persons civil unions or the right to marry a person of the same sex,” Judge Glenn T. Harrell Jr. wrote for the majority.

Legislators on both sides of the debate predicted action on the issue in the next session.

Plaintiffs in the lawsuit condemned the ruling.

“I think history will hold them in contempt,” plaintiff Lisa Polyak said of the judges. “To create a legal solution in a vacuum, that doesn’t recognize that the constitution is there to support the people, is to create an ignorant and irrelevant solution.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family