Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Pay attention to this group!

There hasn’t been much press given to Anglicans United. But pay attention to them – they may have a significant role to play in future Anglican realignment.

In the story I posted two days ago about meetings in the Bahamas this week, note that Primate ++Gomez very much admires Anglicans United and their efforts to bring together continuing Anglicans as well as orthodox within the ECUSA. Could their efforts provide a model for realignment? Stay tuned.

Here’s an important agreement that came out of Anglicans United’s December 2003 meeting in Orlando.

Monday, March 29, 2004

I’ve mentioned meetings this week between U. S. continuing Anglican bishops and Archbishop Gomez in the Bahamas. Apparently, these meetings may be a bigger deal than even I thought. Here’s a story on the meetings. Note that they involve at least two Primates and are not just initial “get to know you� meetings. It sounds like things are already a bit beyond that.

I’ll resist the temptation to speculate, but I’m quite excited about this and will be praying!
Infant Baptismal Regeneration

Well, this had to happen. Strong-headed square peg that I am, I knew there had to be something in orthodox Anglicanism I firmly disagree with. And I found it – infant baptismal regeneration.

In short, Anglicanism (and it’s certainly not alone in this) teaches that infant baptism regenerates a child and grafts him into the Church.

Sorry, I’m not buying.

Baptism is an important part of the process of salvation and regeneration – when in the context of the conversion and faith of the baptized. Regeneration occurs when one comes to faith in Christ. And, as is the pattern in the New Testament over and over, baptism goes with a public profession and living out of that faith. That sort of baptism is an important and effectual part of regeneration (being born again). I’m convinced of that. I’m also convinced infant baptism is not.

Now this is not a huge issue with me. But, since it deals with regeneration and salvation, it’s not trivial either, and it’s not one I’m going to back down on. Still, this is not going to keep me from wanting to join an Anglican church if that is what I eventually desire to do.

I knew already that there is no such thing as a church where I agree with everything. Part of Biblical submission and forbearance is living with that. I reject the attitude rampant in past denominationalism that rejects churches based on such side issues.

The issue for me is whether my view would cause problems if I join an Anglican church. If I do join one, I’m not going to create a stink over infant baptism. I’ll probably just keep my own council and respect the church’s views while not agreeing with them. Probably, that would be o.k. with at least most orthodox Anglican churches.

But I’m going to double-check to be sure. I’ve already hurt some feelings by tactlessly expressing my views on an Anglican blog I’m afraid. And it would hurt me to get attached to a church, only to find out that my views, even if closely held, are a significant problem.

Saturday, March 27, 2004

Truth-telling about Islam

It's refreshing to hear truth-telling about Islam from the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey.

As is usually the case when the truth is told, some people are unhappy.

grrrrr!

Those of you who are even thinking of voting for a Democrat for Senate should read this. Democrats are saying they will block ALL Bush judicial appointments if he doesn't promise to stop using recess appointments (which he has done rarely anyway).

Those Democrats will stop at nothing to stop the appointment of judges who respect the Constitution.

This statement from Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) is particularly outrageous: "The president's use of recess appointments to circumvent the advise and consent process puts a finger in the eye of the Constitution."

WHAT!?! Who has been putting "a finger in the eye of the Constitution" by blocking the process of advice and consent in order to block Constitutionalist judges??

The president did recess appointments on nominees on whom the Democrats refused to allow a Senate vote. The Constitution allows a president to do that. It does not allow the Democrats' obstruction of advice and consent.

Senate Democrats have no shame. They must have learned that from Ted Kennedy.

Friday, March 26, 2004

�There are two religions on the floor!�
plus more on separation


A piece from Rev. Ian Montgomerey contains some remarkably prophetic statements about the Episcopal Church from a past Bishop of West Texas:

Bishop MacNaughton said at the 1991 [Episcopal Church in the USA] convention in Phoenix, “There are two religions on the floor!� Bishop MacNaughton was published in the Living Church, May 7, 1995. The editorial page of that issue introduced the article: -
“On this page, we find a bishop from a more centrist position, the Rt. Rev. John H. MacNaughton of West Texas, disclosing he has come to the conclusion that there are indeed two Episcopal Churches. In his two-part Viewpoint article, Bishop MacNaughton cites the current sexuality debate as divisive, but emphasizes what lies beneath that debate, two incompatible ways of understanding scripture and two incompatible ways of determining authority, as the reasons for the split.�
Bishop MacNaughton wrote: -
“It is my conviction now that the Episcopal Church is no longer one church but two churches. That division is no longer a dark possibility ahead of us, but is already upon us. We seem to be divided by the issues of human sexuality, but these are only the apparent dividers. I believe the real division lies at a much more profound level.�
He continues: -
“The more I have pondered all this, however, the more I have come to understand that these sexuality issues are really secondary, and that a series of much larger and far more consequential issues are what is really before us. Those issues are the nature and authority of scripture and the nature of the polity of the church.�
“They are questions of order, of authority and of corporate integrity. On matters of this magnitude, we can’t have it both ways and be honest. Indeed, we cannot have it both ways and remain one church. The fact is, we are walking an increasingly confusing and irrational path that demands that these things that divide us be addressed. In our failure to address them clearly, we have contributed nothing to the dialogue or to our grasp of diversity or to our tolerance for ambiguity. We have, in fact if not yet in form, divided ourselves into two churches.�
The next week Bishop MacNaughton concludes: -
“Can our divisions be resolved or are we like Humpty Dumpty, where “all the king’s horses and all the king’s men� cannot put it together again? Honestly, I don’t know. What I do believe is that our present course has profoundly divided this church and that promises to get only worse.�


No kidding. I think he was right.

Bishop MacNaughton’s prescient observations beg the question – if there are “two religions� within the ECUSA, then why not own up to it and split?

The same question could be asked of my former denomination, the mainline Presbyterian Church. In fact, some Presbyterian conservatives have proposed a “gracious separation.�

But in both the Presbyterian and Episcopal Churches, there is (sadly in my view) much resistance to gracious separation. The resistance comes mostly from liberals, but also from some conservatives and those in the middle.

I might speculate why sometime. But the result is people of opposed worldviews artificially and painfully bound to each other and spending energy fighting each other. And surely that energy could be spent in more productive ways with a lot less grief.

It’s not for nothing that Paul wrote, “Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness?� (2Corinthians 6:14)

Thursday, March 25, 2004

An excellent overview

This piece from Anvil is an excellent overview of the main issues now facing the Anglican Communion. I recommend it to everyone, especially those who have wandered over to my blog and wonder what the hey I’m talking about.

Thanks to titusonenine for bringing this to my attention.
a part of something bigger

In my prayer time the morning, I enjoyed praying the collect and the psalms for Annunciation Day. I makes it more meaningful to me know I’m saying the same prayers as a multitude around the world and across the centuries.

I guess that’s one thing that attracts me to Anglicanism. I want to be part of something bigger than me and my local church. Yes, I already am. Even independent churches are parts of the worldwide church. But praying the same prayers as a multitude of others across both space and time and being part of a worldwide communion would make it a lot more tangible.

Speaking of which, I was very encouraged to read the following from Richard Kew. He notes that a number of continuing Anglicans “are not part of the [Anglican] Communion, although many of them . . . would very much like to be.�

He continues, “One of the questions in coming years is how this blending will take place, especially in light of the overtures now being made by a wider array of Anglicans toward folks like the Reformed Episcopal Church, whose leaders, together with those of the Anglican Province of America, will be meeting with Archbishop Drexel Gomez in Nassau during the next week.�

Like I said, I found that tidbit very encouraging. It reflects well on the REC and APA that they desire a place in the Anglican Communion and are taking steps in that direction. These bodies reflect my thinking in that they want to be a part of the AC, but don’t want to compromise too much to do so. I’ve noticed they also have long-standing relationships with the American Anglican Council.

I’m also glad to see that a leading conservative Primate like ++Gomez is interested in expanding the Communion to continuing Anglican bodies.

By the way, isn’t it interesting that conservative Anglicans are proving themselves in some ways to be more ecumenical than the liberals?

For me personally, these sorts of contacts increase the possibility that in the long term I’ll be able to have my cake and eat it, too – to be a part of the Anglican Communion, but not in the ECUSA.

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

I think David Roseberry's response to the House of Bishops Inadequate Episcopal Oversight proposal is very relevant to my earlier thoughts about separation. I think the approach he and Bishop Stanton of Dallas are taking is a very good approach to Biblical separation. Father David's church is a favorite of mine, by the way.

Unfortunately, I think the Bishop of West Texas, although commendably straight spoken and orthodox, is taking an approach that is somewhat more bound to the ECUSA and much less bound to the Anglican Communion Network. It's, in his words, a "go it alone" approach which I don't think will work. I know I'm very hesitant to trust my churchly future to it.
How separate?

A question I may have to wrestle with as I chose a new church where I’m moving is how separate do I need to be from the Episcopal Church in the USA (ECUSA)? Or to put it more broadly, how separate is Biblical separation?

Bear with me as I think out loud a bit.

There are unbiblical extremes, of course. There are people who have had negative experiences at church (Who hasn’t?) who respond by writing off involvement in a church altogether. Then there are those who will not stay in a church that doesn’t do everything the way they think it should be done. This attitude helped fuel the rampant denominationalism of the 19th Century.

The Bible and common sense make clear that long-term involvement in any church requires forbearance. There are some things we just have to put up with in a patient, loving manner.

On the other extreme are those who don’t care about what allegiances a local church has. This attitude can come from an ideology of “inclusiveness� or, say, from thinking what goes on in the rest of a denomination isn’t important. This is unbiblical as well.

But there are a lot of situations in the middle that aren’t nearly as clear cut . . . such as the Episcopal Diocese of West Texas into which I’ll be moving.

If I join a church in that diocese, here a possible situation I’ll put myself in. I would be in the ECUSA. And as you can guess, that is something I do not want, as attractive as the Anglican Communion as a whole is to me.

But not one cent of my offering will go to the national denomination as the diocese allows even individual parishioners to so direct their offerings. I will have an orthodox bishop probably for many years. And my understanding of ECUSA polity is that bishops and their dioceses have a great deal of autonomy. I’ll have a lot more to do with my bishop than with the ECUSA.

But all it would take is one bishop who wants too much to be buddies with the other bishops, and I could find myself in an intolerable situation. I would have to go through the difficulties of starting over and finding a new church again. Of course, there are few guarantees in joining any church. I felt I needed to leave a church once for reasons other than moving, and it was very orthodox. I don’t want that to happen again. Yet I can’t absolutely prevent it. But I don’t want to expose myself to a significant possibility of it happening either. (But, yet, on the other hand….)

Then there is the consideration that to join anything worthwhile bigger than me and my friends, I may have to join myself to some things I don’t like. That’s the way things work in this fallen world, even in the church sadly. If I want to join the Anglican Communion, being a part, however tangential, of the ECUSA may be the price to pay for that.

But do I want to pay that price? Can I pay that price?

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

The ECUSA’s House of Bishops just came out with their plan for conning and stifling the conservatives Inadequate Episcopal Oversight. It looks like the overseas Primates will have to intervene for there to be a place for North American orthodox in the Anglican Communion. But we knew that, didn’t we.

The HOB statement does have its humor. I love how the bishops selectively quote the 39 Articles and recent statements from the Primates. Reminds me of the old Soviet Union referring to the Geneva Convention.
In reading my Anglican history, I find it interesting that the first Lambeth Conference was prompted by a controversial heretical book from a South African bishop and subsequent difficulties in taking away his bishopric.

Oysters need an irritant to create a pearl. An apostate provided the irritant to move along the formation of the Anglican Communion. Maybe ++Griswold, +Ingham, ++Crawley and other North American apostates are the irritants that will move along needed reformation of the Anglican Communion.

God brings good out of evil and light out of darkness.

Monday, March 22, 2004

I did a bit of church searching on my just finished trip, checking out a small continuing Anglican church. I wrote most of the following just after my visits:

As part of my church search, I visited Small Continuing Anglican Church (SCAC, and the name is changed, obviously) this morning. My visit is a lesson in how appearances can be deceiving. Even though I was only 15 minutes early, I was almost the first one there. I went to Morning Prayer. I don’t know if there were even ten people for that service. There were more, but not a lot, for the later Communion service. The sanctuary brick itself was rather large. And to my surprise they had a big pipe organ in the balcony.

Someone might conclude from the large size of the facility and the small size of the congregation that this was a dying church. But one would be wrong. I found out later that they outgrew their old small building and bought the current one about three years ago. And there was a good mix of ages with plenty of families, including a few who had recently joined. Yes, some of those came from ECUSA congregations.

I liked the people there. They were friendly and helpful without being suffocating. It may have been out of necessity, but I liked how all ages met together for Bible study and coffee between the two services. A couple of the kids there knew their Bibles, too!

I talked some with both the rector and the assistant rector (which could be the entire staff from what I can tell) and liked them both. Later, the rector sent me a thoughtful e-mail. I think English is his second language, and some of the congregation was Hispanic, too, which I like. Jesus don’t want his church to be just a bunch of crackers.

And even though SCAC is small and perhaps closer to the Protestant end of Anglicanism, the services had plenty of distinctive music, liturgy, and ceremony even that made worship special. I even had trouble keeping up at times. One of my favorite parts was the reading of the Gospel. The two altar boys and the rector had a procession to the middle of the church for that.

I also like that the entire procession before and after the service consisted of the rector, assistant rector, and two altar boys. Like I said, small church.

Their prayer book is based on the 1662 BCP.

(Speaking of which, I found a 1928 BCP in good condition for only $4 at Half-Price Books where I played chess later.)

I didn’t leave with the impression that I must join this church. But I like it and think I would fit in there and contribute something. As I sat in the Communion service, I thought, I need to keep that in mind – I should join a church not just to be supported and encouraged, but to support and make a difference in Christ’s body. I think I would make a difference here. It’s definitely on my list of churches to consider. And as far as non-ECUSA Anglicanism, it appears to be the only thing in town right now.


Mid-week, I made another visit for Evening Prayer:

Wednesday Evening Prayer last night at Small Continuing Anglican Church was fun. While the organist was playing the preludes up in the balcony, these boys below her were making noises. So she suddenly ended a piece, looked down on them and sternly told them to be quiet. I loved it!

The service itself was excellent. I like Evening Prayer anyway. But singing the Litany with organ accompanying the congregational responses made it really special. When we finished, I had a real sense of peace and joy. The closing hymn was When I Survey the Wonderful Cross, and I sung it with new appreciation.

Afterwards, I found out the rector really likes chess. So we went to Half-Price Books where chess goes on Wednesday nights. We played, and he beat me! We talked a lot, too, of course. He’s really a unique, approachable guy.

I don’t have to really like a rector or pastor to join a church. But the rector of SCAC is a serious plus.

Sunday, March 21, 2004

Please, Lord! Let it be true!

I so hope this story about a letter from the Archbishop of Canterbury to ECUSA Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold is true.

O.K. I'm back in civilization now. So I'm back to posting.

Let's see . . . where to begin. . . How about this: a former Clinton terrorism official trying to make money off a new book blames Bush for supposed failures against terrorism. I'm I the only one who smells something?

Like Clinton ever did anything more than slap terrorists with a wet noodle. A Clinton official blaming Bush on terrorism is a bad joke.

LATER: Now I find out the Clintonista Richard Clark isn't the only one trying to pump up his book. The book is published by a division of Viacom, which owns CBS, who puts on -- you guessed it -- 60 Minutes, who did the big interview.

My thoughts about this aren't printable. I hate CBS and the underhanded liberalism they stand for. And Leslie Stall, who did the interview, has been a propaganda queen for years and years. Take off her make-up and you'd find out she's a John Kerry clone.

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Richard Kew's take on the Ohio confirmations is so on target and so reflects my thoughts, I had to poke my head back in and post it.
Having just found out about the Ohio confirmations yesterday, here’s some initial gut reactions from the beach:

My only real problem with the confirmations by bishops from outside the liberal Ohio diocese is the timing. I think they should have waited until after the ECUSA defines its policy on AEO. But since the ECUSA has shown no sign that it would heed the Primates October 2003 call for Adequate Episcopal Oversight for dissenting conservatives, I may be nit-picking. (Yes, there is an ECUSA draft policy. “Adequate� it’s not.)

Other than that, my reaction is . . . YEAAAAH!

I’m so happy to see the Bishop of Brazil and a number of Senior (retired) U. S. bishops put their names on the line and support dissenting parishes. I think this confirmation (with more to come it’s been reported) sends the Lambeth Commission a firm message that there must be genuine realignment across diocese lines. And I think the odds for needed realignment just got better.

I think it also encourages conservatives across North America. This makes more tangible that there are more than a few bishops who are on our side. And that support is far more than just words. Heck, I’m encouraged now that maybe there will be a real realignment that either enables me to join the Anglican Communion or an orthodox Global South version of it. (A recent statement by the Bishop of West Texas (the diocese I’m moving into) that his diocese should under no condition leave the ECUSA tempers that hope, however. More on that to come.)

And maybe I’m just happy to see conservatives stand up and defy apostate liberal authority. I guess that’s my rebellious streak talking.

The liberal bishops had it coming to them. They abused their authority to subvert the authority of scripture, of tradition, and of the Primates of the Anglican Communion. They were asking for it.

Yet ++Griswold and company are now oh-so indignant about conservatives defying their abuse of authority. The hypocrisy is absurd.

I might have more to say later although the various Anglican blogs (a few of which are linked to the right) will probably have said it all before I get home.

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

Wow, I take a little trip to the beach, and a bunch of conservatives in Ohio have a party without me.

I still have very little internet access. But even before hearing about the Ohio confirmations, I had some pointed thoughts about AEO (Adequate Episcopal Oversight). The short version: the Lambeth Commission must tell revivisionist North American bishops to can the geographic fundamentalism.

The long version will have to wait.

Friday, March 12, 2004

Apparently, I'm not the only one who thinks the geographic fundamentalism of liberal bishops needs to be ditched if the Anglican Communion is to hold together. This guy has been saying it for years.

A housekeeping note: I will have little or no internet access for about the next ten days. So it is unlikely I will post during that time.

I didn't want you all worrying about me. ;^)

Thursday, March 11, 2004

More Liberal Canadian Hypocrisy

I didn’t intend to go on a “Blame Canada� spree although it’s quite fun. But you can cut the hypocrisy of liberal Canadian church authorities with a knife.

Here’s the latest example. While they throw their authority at orthodox Canadian Anglicans and sometimes abuse their authority to out and out persecute them, they at the same time ignore the authority of the Archbishop of Canterbury (not exactly a Funde himself) and of the Anglican Communion.

Yes, yes, I know. The Anglican Communion is a collegial body and doesn’t do authority like the Catholics, etc. But still, ++Williams and the Primates have firmly asked the Canadians not to go forward with their gay marriage agenda. Yet the Canadian Church is plowing right ahead with complete disregard for the rest of the AC.

Lefties used to have a slogan, “F*** Authority!� I guess they have amended that to “F*** Authority (except for mine, of course)!�

Archbishop Bernard Malango, a member of the Lambeth Commission has said it well: “These people are going berserk. They do not care about the Anglican Communion. They can do whatever they want but they must know they have separated themselves from the Anglican Communion. They are causing disgrace to the whole Church. They are acting without consultation and without thinking of the life of the communion.�

Maybe Canadian actions along with the continuing problems in the U. S. Episcopal Church will push the Lambeth Commission to call for real realignment in the AC. That may be wishful thinking, but one can pray and hope.

By the way, the chairman of the Lambeth Commission says they are on schedule. It looks like they had better be.

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

Recent news, especially Canadian Archbishop Crawley’s threats against Bishop Anderson, has me thinking a lot about church authority. My thoughts are a bit voluminous and jumbled, so if it seems I’m thinking out loud, I probably am.

(By the way, we need to be praying for Bishop Anderson. He is standing in the gap for the orthodox and is taking heat for it. See the link on yesterday afternoon’s post for details.)

I do have very mixed feelings and thoughts on church authority. I think that comes from my crossed wiring in part. I am very committed to the authority of the Bible and am provoked when I see church authorities willfully go against that. But I have always had an independent non-conformist streak. And I hate legalism to boot.

There’s also mixed experiences. I’ve been provoked by seeing liberals use church authority to kick conservative congregations out of their church buildings, first in my mother denomination (Presbyterian), then elsewhere. That was the fate of the congregation that helped lead me to Christ. On the other hand, I’ve been provoked by church authorities not doing anything in the face of blatant apostasy and blasphemy. Even the Southern Baptists were guilty of such inaction in my eyes for a time.

And I’ve mentioned both the positive and negative experiences I had with church authority at previous churches.

I won’t get into much detail here. But these mixed currents complicate my church search now. I want a church that cares enough about the authority of Scripture to exercise church discipline and authority accordingly. But I don’t want to be under controlling or even remotely legalistic authority. (“Yeah. Good luck, Mark,� I hear someone thinking.)

Anyway, one reason I pick on ++Crawley among others is I see him getting it wrong on church authority both ways. When Bishop Ingham crams gay marriage down the throats of his diocese and persecutes those who will not put his authority above God’s, Crawley doesn’t lift a finger to stop him. But if conservative bishops or even conservative Primates from other dioceses step in and try to give relief to beleaguered orthodox parishes, ohhhh boy, watch out! Crawley will throw the Canons at you!

And Crawley is not alone in this peculiar legalistic geographic fundamentalism. Elsewhere in North America, bishops who have a long history of disregarding Biblical authority, who allow all sorts of outrage, heresy, and blasphemy in their dioceses (and commit more that a little of it themselves) – these same bishops often revive the Spanish Inquisition for conservatives who seek to give or receive relief across diocese lines.

Of course, what’s happening is these bishops don’t give a flip about Biblical authority; but, oh boy, do they care about their own authority, especially authority over property in their parish.

It’s really quite nuts. If the bishops cared about Christian witness and peace in the church, why not flex and let parishes have alternative bishops (or AEO for Adequate Episcopal Oversight as its called. And, to their credit, there are a few bishops who do flex in this way, namely the Bishop of Alaska.)? Many conservative North American Anglicans are bending over backwards trying to somehow stay in the Anglican Communion. Why not accommodate them?

Or do the bishops secretly want the conservatives out while keeping their parish property in? I can’t read minds, but the actions of several liberal bishops make that a fair question.

Well, there’s much more I could say. And I’ll surely say it in due time.

Monday, March 08, 2004

A subject I’ve wrestled with in the past and will surely wrestle with again is that of church authority and submission to it. When and how should church leaders impose their authority? When and how should one submit or (Here’s the rub.) not submit to those leaders?

That’s quite an issue now in the Episcopal Church with bishops and those under them acting out different answers to these questions. An excerpt from last night’s 60 Minutes is one prominent example (with thanks to the titusonenine blog):

A week after Robinson’s consecration, [Rochester, New Hampshire,’s Episcopal Church of the] Redeemer’s acting minister, Father Don Wilson, who’s been a pastor for 47 years, was fired for refusing to accept Robinson’s authority as bishop.

“I’ve never been in trouble before,� says Wilson.

“Whatever your feelings about him, here’s a man who has been legally consecrated,� Bradley tells Wilson. “He says that your oath requires you to accept his authority.�

“That’s strange isn’t it, because the first part of my oath was the authority of scripture. The second part of the oath was to teach it. And the third part of the oath was to protect the people from strange and erroneous doctrines,� says Wilson. “Then way down the list it says, ‘Be subject to the bishops, their godly judgments and godly admonitions.’ And I didn’t find any in him.�



In this case, I agree with Fr. Wilson. Submission to scripture trumps submission to any man. And, from what I’ve studied, that’s the view of traditional Anglicanism for the most part, although I’m sure there are many Anglicans who would disagree. (And, usually, when an Anglican doesn't submit to a bishop, he does so in a more subtle, tactful, and politely sneaky manner. . . . I don't know if I'd make a good Anglican.)

But other situations are less clear cut. What if you have an orthodox bishop but can’t tolerate the national church anymore? That’s an issue most conservative parishes and rectors are only beginning to face.
Even the Episcopal Diocese of Dallas has its wimps and apostates. Here’s a letter from a group of them to Bishop James Stanton, an orthodox Episcopal bishop with a backbone. Yes, those exist.

Actually, I find this letter quite helpful. It gives me a list of churches not to go to.

By my count, “study� appears in this letter three times. I wonder why?
"The master in the art of living makes little distinction between his work and his play, his labor and his leisure, his mind and his body, his information and his recreation, his love and his religion. He hardly knows which is which. He simply pursues his vision of excellence at whatever he does, leaving others to decide whether he is working or playing. To him he's always doing both."

-- James A. Michener

There’s a lot of truth in that quote.

A lot of times, we put false guilt on ourselves if we enjoy what we do. Sometimes, I catch myself having the attitude of “Well, I should do something I don’t like now.� That even though what I don’t like is often less productive that what I do like.

I enjoy reading. Yet there is a lot I want to read and never get around to because I feel I should “do something� instead.

I strive, sometimes struggle, to make the most of my time. And sometimes at the end of the day, I think, What did I really do with this day?

But I’m getting better at “the art of living.�

Sunday, March 07, 2004

How do churchy types cop out and wimp out? They vote to "study" an issue.

The Diocese of Kentucky makes me want to lose my lunch. And I’m talking about so-called “conservatives,� too.

NOW, not a year from now, is when the Episcopal Church, the Anglican Communion, and the Lambeth Commission need to hear loud and clear that the direction of the Episcopal Church USA is NOT acceptable.

You inbred Kentucky Episcopalians, you blew it.

Friday, March 05, 2004

To give Canadian Anglicans equal time, they have a real winner as their Primate, too. Or is it whiner?

It amuses me how liberals who are fundamentalists on nothing else can be such hyperfundamentalists on geographical church authority.
This may surprise you given my rant yesterday. But I don’t think conservative parishes should leave the ECUSA . . . yet.

After all, the Archbishop of Canterbury and conservative U. S. Episcopal leaders have asked conservatives to at least wait until the Lambeth Commission makes it report in the Fall. And part of being Biblically conservative is giving a lot of weight to what church authorities ask of you.

And the Lambeth Commission was set up by the Primates to try to find ways for conservatives and not-so-conservatives alike to stay in the Anglican Communion. Conservatives have put up with a lot for years and years. Hanging in there for another year or so is not much to ask given that there is an effort to accommodate them.

And, believe me, as a former member of a mainline denomination, I know how aggravating it can be. Yet even this non-Episcopal Fundamentalist is praying and holding out hope for a realignment that would enable conservative North Americans to stay in the Anglican Communion (and maybe let this WannabeAnglican in, too).

Yes, there may be a few bishops who are practically forcing conservatives out. But even in tough circumstances, most conservative parishes can surely hold out for another 10 months or so.

I do absolutely feel that parishes and parishioners should insist that not one dime go to the national ECUSA. For one thing, that's the language national Episcopal leaders understand best. If that demand is not met, then don’t put one dime in the offering plate. There’s plenty of good causes that need our money. Apostasy is not one of them.

------------

Now, my rant yesterday may also give the impression that I think all liberal Episcopal bishops have horns underneath their funny pointy hats. Not so. One bishop in particular deserves honorable mention, the Bishop of Alaska.

Unlike certain other bishops, the Rt. Rev. Mark L. MacDonald actually works with dissidents in good faith and permits Adequate Episcopal Oversight as requested by the Primates and North American conservatives. Hats off to him . . . or toboggans off, as the case may be that far north.

------------

I’m not heading to Alaska, but I’m going to be busy this weekend. So I might not post.

Thursday, March 04, 2004

Archbishop of Canterbury Meets with AMIA leadership

I keep finding this story intriguing.

I'd like to be a fly at Lambeth.

Even given my previous post (among others), I think it’s important to be realistically positive about the Anglican Communion as a whole. Here is an excellent, balanced piece from Bill Atwood of Ekklesia.

It gives you some of the reasons why I find myself as attracted to the Anglican Communion as I am repelled by the ECUSA.
About Episcopal “Discourse�

In Presiding Bishop Griswold’s statement mentioned yesterday and elsewhere, you hear much from the national ECUSA leadership about how much they value and are engaged in “discourse� and “dialogue� over homosexuality and related contentious issues. You would think discourse was a sacrament or something.

Well, here’s what Episcopal “discourse� looks like:

First, you ignore pleas from the faithful in the U. S. and from around the world that the actions you are about to take violate scripture and will tear the Anglican Communion apart. Oh, you might sign a statement with the other Primates, but you then tear it up before the ink is dry.

Then, without even waiting to allow the Communion an opportunity to decide how they are going to deal with the issue, you cram your desires down the throats of conservatives, electing a bishop who left his wife and kids to pursue a homosexual lifestyle and putting further blessings on homosexual unions. You and your allies rig the vote while you’re at it. All 11 representatives from the Diocese of Missouri, for example, voted to consecrate Gene Robinson. Unless Missouri Episcopalianism is a hotbed of lavender Communism, the fix was on.

Then, having succeeded in your divisive schismatic acts, you urge against division and schism. Having steamrollered the opposition, you say you are engaged in dialogue with them.

Oh, and if the opposition tries to pass resolutions denouncing your actions at the diocese level, your allied bishops don’t even allow those resolutions to come to a vote. See Bishops Wimberley in Texas and Lee in Virginia among others.

And if parishes ask for Adequate Episcopal Oversight from orthodox bishops they can conscientiously submit to, screw them! If the rest of the Anglican Communion Primates instruct you that there should be AEO for those parishes that ask for it, you ignore them. If parishes become convinced by your actions that they can no longer faithfully stay in the ECUSA, your bishops don’t negotiate with them in good faith over property issues. No, they sue them to take it all from the parish faithful. Some bishops even take preemptive action, dismissing rectors and vestries and installing puppets, driving the faithful out.

Of course, the puppets then hand over all the parish property and money to the bishop. And that’s what’s important, isn’t it? Who gives a flying fajita about conservatives being driven out? As one nice Episcopal lady said to one of them, “Why don’t you just leave so our church could be inclusive?� But you gotta keep that property. Money is a sacrament in the ECUSA.

And then you keep on issuing nice statements about how much you value “dialogue� and “discourse.�

Wednesday, March 03, 2004

If you want an idea why ECUSA Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold gets so little respect, why the Archbishop of Nigeria won’t even be in the same room with him, read his latest statement opposing a Constitutional amendment restricting marriage to between one man and one woman. You can find it with some commentary here and here.

Griswold’s statement reminds me of the sort of hypocritical oh-so-nice-sounding doublespeak that comes from my former denomination. Do you have to learn to lie write statements this way to become a leader in a U.S. mainline denomination?

Tuesday, March 02, 2004

FLASH
What?!

I’m floored to just find out that Frank Griswold, Presiding Bishop of the ECUSA, celebrated (i.e. led) communion this morning at Canterbury Cathedral.

If the Archbishop of Canterbury wants conservatives to keep hope and stay in the Anglican Communion, allowing this is NOT the way to do it.

Expect outrage to come from conservative Anglicans from all over the world. If you think I’m upset . . . oh, boy.
I think one outcome of The Passion, one you don’t hear much speculation of, will be further reconciliation between Catholics and Evangelicals.

Catholic-Evangelical relations have improved in recent decades. One reason has been the abortion issue bringing them together on the same side. Another: the continued liberalization of mainline Protestant denominations combined with Pope John Paul II’s leadership has brought more Evangelicals to the place where, like me, they find they have more in common with conservative Catholics than with mainline Protestants.

I’m convinced The Passion is further accelerating this trend. Why and how?

There is the well publicized traditional Catholicism of Mel Gibson. His popularity combined with the popularity of his movie is making Evangelicals among others more sympathetic to his religious background, even if they disagree with it.

Catholics and Evangelicals once again find themselves on the same side of a cultural issue. Most Catholics and Evangelicals support the Passion while many liberal Christian and non-Christian spokesmen and pundits are critical, often caustically so. (That is not to say there aren’t a number from non-Christian backgrounds who applaud the movie. There are.)

But there is a deeper reason The Passion is bringing Evangelicals and Catholics closer together. The Passion as portrayed in the movie is a profoundly Marian one. One could almost call it The Passion of Mary as well as The Passion of the Christ. Much of the movie focuses on Mary and her suffering. Much of it views the Passion through her eyes.

The movie gives Mary an exalted role in the Passion. Yet is does so without contradicting the Biblical narrative as Evangelicals see it. Mary is made a focus of the Passion, but in a way very few Evangelicals find objectionable. Moreover, only the callous, of any background, can’t sympathize with her and feel her pain as her Son suffers.

And who can forget the masterful pieta scene when Mary, holding Jesus, lifts her eyes from Him and looks directly at the audience, putting responsibility on us for what Christ went through and for what our response now will be.

My primary response to The Passion was a deeper, much deeper, appreciation of what Jesus went through for me, an appreciation beyond words. But I also came away with a deeper appreciation for Mary and her passion. And, yes, while remaining quite Protestant in my view of Mary, I understood better why Catholics venerate her so.

I suspect I’m not alone.

I’m hesitant to mention this because some may find it more amusing, or even irreverent, than edifying. But the next day, I prayed something like, “Lord, I’m not going to pray to Mary. I think she wouldn’t want me to anyway. But would you tell her I appreciate her and what she went through?�

That’s the first time this Fundamentalist Protestant ever prayed anything like that.

Monday, March 01, 2004

Church Music: Less is More?

I intend to discuss church music at a later date. But my experience yesterday was a textbook case of its pitfalls. I want to get it off my chest out there while it’s fresh on my mind.

In the morning, I went to my current church, which I still love, by the way. There was a string ensemble up front. I enjoyed listening to them before the service. And their music put me in a good peaceful worshipful mood.

But then the service began. Oi vey! The vocalist who led the congregational singing was fine. The thing is his mike was as hot as a fire cracker. I must have grunted from the pain inflicted on my ears.

The sound guys do this to us all the time, unfortunately. I think they must have high-frequency hearing loss. In any case, I had to close my right ear (which is very sensitive to high, loud noises) a lot. Needless to say, I could barely hear the excellent strings. The vocalist and his over-amped mike drowned them out.

My ears were so assaulted, it took me a while to get my bearings back and concentrate on the sermon, much less worship. Sadly, I didn’t, really couldn’t, worship much at all.

Late in the afternoon, I went to St. David’s, a traditional Episcopal church. As I walked in, quiet organ music was playing.

The service was very liturgical – Rite I Evening Prayer with Communion. It was the first time I’ve participated in Evening Prayer. The service, especially the liturgy and taking communion, really helped me worship.

Now, the music was very spare. There was no singing at all and no instruments other than the small, very traditional pipe organ. I can remember that being played only before and after the service and during the offering and communion. And even then, it was played in a restrained manner. Nothing really fancy or complex. It was played very well, but not in a way to grab your attention.

In a modest way, the organ helped me to worship. It certainly did not distract me from it, very much unlike my experience that morning. And yes, I liked it. I even lingered behind to hear the organist play the postlude.

I mentioned my first Ash Wednesday service (also at St. David’s) had no music at all. I liked that, too.

I guess I’ve been bombarded with so much bad church music that I enjoy restraint, even a complete lack of music. Instead of being helped to worship, I find myself having to overcome a lot of church music in order to worship. So the musical restraint at St. David’s is very refreshing to me. It really is music to my ears, you might say.

Now, I’m not a scrooge when it comes to music. Heck, I have 3 gigs of (legal) music on my hard drive, ranging from speed punk to techno to classical. I enjoy playing with my new Garage Band software with my non-existent keyboard skills. But...

[rant mode]
It’s become clear to me that many (most?) churches need to rethink how they handle music. So much of it is so awful or performed (or amplified) so poorly that it is a serious distraction from worship. No music at all would be better.

Many churches wouldn’t dream of worshipping without music. But maybe some should try that or at least less music for a time as they rethink the role of music in worship. The need for change is that great in some churches.
[/rant mode]

Like I said, I’ll rant even more about music sometime. Feel free to flame me comment.