Thursday, March 31, 2005

A Glorious Easter Vigil Indeed!

As I mentioned a couple days ago, the rector of the Anglo-Catholic St. Matthias church promised a “glorious” Great Vigil, mentioning it was their chief celebration of Easter. It was glorious indeed!

Due to missing the right exit, I arrived only about 5 minutes early, and the sanctuary was packed. I could have found a pew seat if I wanted I suspect. But being the courteous guy I am, I decided to take one of the metal folding chairs in the side aisles. The sanctuary was completely darkened. The only light was coming through the windows on that damp night. In the night, I saw robed ministers run by outside.

As I had been warned, the rector methodically lit a big paschal fire in back. And from there, much of the service was candlelit. You couldn't miss the theme of light out of darkness.

The Exsultet was sung well. Really, I haven't even heard of it before. I found out I had been missing something special. I was quite moved. (And for those who watch for such things, there were bees in the Exsultet.)

After four scripture lessons on redemption with prayers, there was the baptism and chrismating of not a few. We relit our candles for this and there was a procession to the font in back. The baptismal liturgy was wonderful and unrushed even with so many getting baptized (about 15 I would guess). We all said our Baptismal Covenant. I like that. There’s something about firmly restating one’s Christian beliefs that’s good for the soul. Saying the covenant and the creeds fires me up somehow.

We then prayed over the candidates for baptism. By the way, many of the prayers were sung, including by the congregation. When we all together sung our prayers and amens, it sounded great.

There was a humorous moment when the rector blessed the font. When he lifted up the Paschal Candle to dip it in the font, he lifted it up too high and burnt a black spot on the ceiling. I kidded with him about that afterwards.

After the candidates were baptized, they were given baptismal candles lit from the Paschal Candle.

During the procession back, the rector sprinkled us with holy water using an aspergill (Look it up.). Then we sang the Litany of the Saints.

This was the one part of the service I could not conscientiously fully participate in. So I just stood with the rest as they asked every saint imaginable to pray for them. I’ve never heard of a lot of those saints. I might post more on this in the future.

Then was the Kyrie, always a favorite part of a service for me.

Then . . . the Gloria. That was fun. You see, the Gloria is not sung during Lent. So when it’s finally sung again for Easter, it’s a big deal. Well, as soon as the Gloria began, the lights went up, and there were so many bells ringing, I honestly thought it was a fire alarm. I later learned people bring bells from home to ring during the first Gloria of Easter. I think the kids especially get into that. Quite a number of people sure did! It was so loud, I gave up on keeping the tune.

That began the first mass of Easter. (Yes, they are very Anglo-Cath. They call it “mass.”) During it the scripture lessons were sung. And there was quite the ceremony about everything. I thought they used a lot of incense before then, but they really threw it around in preparing the eucharist.

But, hey, I like ceremony. As I told the rector as St. David’s when we chatted, I have low church tendencies in my beliefs, but high church tendencies in how I like to worship.

Oh, I forgot. I got a nice birthday blessing. They don’t skimp on those either. Although I don’t recall them using incense for that.

When in line, to receive communion, I made a point to see how people were receiving in front of me. Most took in the usual way. But I noticed a boy holding out the wafer. The priest then took it, dipped in the wine and put it on his tongue. I’ve received that way before, and it was meaningful to me. So I received that way this time. Yes, yes, I know that seems very “Catholic.” But I think the symbolism of that is very Biblical. I might post more on this in the future as well.

The service ended well with the organist joyously playing a Festal Postlude by Handel.

Then was quite a food-filled feast of a reception. After gentle prompting by the rector, I did a mild fast from Maundy Thursday (the first time I’ve done that for Holy Week.). So the food tasted that much better.

I’m not quite as Catholic as these brothers and sisters, but I greatly enjoyed the Easter Vigil with them. I’m glad I went to St. Matthias, and I intend to visit again.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Do we have to be rude? II

Back on February 25th, I expressed amazement that some North American liberals were advising ignoring the Primates and their request to not send representatives to the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC). They instead advocated sending Episcopal and Anglican Church of Canada representatives anyway.

While aghast, I still expressed the hope and expectation that most liberals and leaders in those two churches had more sense than that.

But now I’m beginning to wonder.

The rumblings have grown that the two North American churches may indeed defy the Primates and send representatives to the ACC in June. And it’s not just what is said, but what is not said. When the ECUSA House of Bishops met after the Primates Meeting, their “covenant” said not one word about the Primates’ request to withdraw from the ACC. And ++Griswold and Canadian Primate ++Hutchinson haven’t been exactly overwhelming in their response to the Primates’ request either.

Relevant bodies of the two churches are scheduled to make the decision about Anglican Consultative Council representatives this spring, April for ECUSA, May for the Anglican Church of Canada.

And that begs the question: What happens if the North Americans do stiffen their necks and send representatives? Will the rest of the ACC refuse to let them be seated or let them have their way? And if the ACC does seat them, what in turn will be the response to that from the Global South?

This summer may make Dromantine look like a Sunday picnic.

Now, there’s an additional question I have that I haven’t seen much written on: Just exactly what is the composition and leanings of the Anglican Consultative Council? I take it that they are the most liberal of the instruments of authority. Are they perhaps liberal enough to seat North American representatives in spite of the Primates’ request?

Please answer to your heart’s content.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005


Back to my Easter weekend. The highlight was Easter Eve.

First, I went to Christ Church in Plano for the Saturday 5:30pm service. It played such an important role in drawing me to Anglicanism. Among other things, it was the first Anglican church I visited, opening my eyes to another world of worship. And I’ve wanted to celebrate Easter there for a long time.

What’s funny is the first time I went in the Fall of 2003, I thought, “This is so Catholic.” Now I think, “This is so evangelical.” Many of the songs are from the 1990’s led in a Praise and Worship Lite manner. I much preferred the more traditional songs with their big organ cranking and leading. I love their organ. I wish they used it more.

Now, the service didn’t annoy me like Denton Bible’s song time the next night . . . except for the Gradual. Now, to me, the Gradual means you read or sing a Psalm. But instead, we had How Great Thou Art sung in a very operatic manner while we just sat. I really like Psalms and participation better. (I’m not at all knocking the lady who sang. She was very impressive. But the format is not my worship style at all.)

But still the service meant a lot to me, and I left pumped up about Easter.

And I do appreciate how they reach out to those who might be freaked out by a more traditional formal service (perhaps me a year and a half ago?). Just because something isn’t my style doesn’t mean it’s not excellent. And they do mix things from both traditional and evangelical forms to reach a broad range of people.

Speaking of which, it was packed out. Communion took a long time.

Oh yeah, I went up front and got a birthday blessing from +Roseberry! I’ve been looking forward to that for a long time, and it meant a lot to me.

God bless Christ Church!

What made it that much more special for me was Ed Weaver and his daughter went to the service with me and out to coffee afterwards. He guided me and supported me through that rough time a couple churches ago. So he has played an important role in God’s grace and faithfulness to me these 30 years. It means a lot to me he was there.

Now his daughter was a very annoying little girl back then. She’s very cool now, however. ;^)

We had to cut coffee short, however, so I could get to St. Matthias for their Easter Vigil. Their rector had invited me specifically to that, promising it would be “glorious.” And, oh boy, was it!

But that will have to wait for another post.

Monday, March 28, 2005


Well, this past Easter weekend was every bit as special for me as I anticipated. I’m still smiling over it.

And it was wide-ranging, from the fire and bells and smells of the Easter Vigil at St. Matthias to the Sunday evening service at Denton Bible last night.

There’s so much to tell about and a lot of reflections that come out of the weekend. So I’ll post in pieces.

I’ll start with last night. Like I said, I went to Denton Bible, my old church. And the first 20-25 minutes of the 6:30pm service was, as usual, a string of songs all while standing up. I can’t stand for long periods without discomfort, so I sat down before the last one. Continuous singing wearies me as well, so I barely sang the last song. And, as usual, I stuffed Kleenex in my ear because the worship leader’s voice was overamped. (You can see how the first time I visited a good Anglican church was like finding an oasis for me.)

But what annoyed me more was not one song was Easter themed. In fact, if any song mentioned the resurrection, I missed it.

And when I mentioned it to a couple people afterwards, they said they hadn’t noticed. And, say, three years ago, I wouldn’t have noticed either. But I did notice last night. I wanted to belt out some joyous Easter songs. So “Wondrous Cross” just didn’t cut it for me.

I might post more on the church calendar and worship sometime.

But the service and I quickly recovered. Two friends who had a difficult pregnancy dedicated their baby daughter. Another friend who is about to go to China was recognized and prayed over. And, as usual, the sermon by Tommy Nelsen was excellent – and, yes, an Easter sermon. It was both the meat of good teaching and evangelistic. Some like to water down their Easter messages, but not Tommy.

Oh, some humorous insight into college kids: For most Easter services, people show up early to be sure to get a decent seat. But the 6:30pm Denton Bible service is mostly college-aged. So guess what? At 6:25, it wasn’t even half-full. :^)

I also enjoyed hanging with some old friends. And that’s a big reason I went – to celebrate this special Easter with them -- who have been such a special part of my 30 years as a Christian.

So it was an excellent time last night – even if the worship leader seemed to forget it was Easter.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

A congregation of one

I enjoyed an interesting Holy Saturday morning over at St. David’s. I went over there for the 9am Proper Liturgy for Holy Saturday. I expected small attendance, but it was just me and the rector. I didn’t mind at all though. It sure helped me pay attention!

Afterward, I poked my head into the side room (rectory) and said hi to the rector. I remarked it was a small congregation. Then he amiably said that there was a misprint in the bulletin. The service was at 10am but was printed as 9am. So he came early just in case someone came.

I thought that was cool he carried on with the service just for one and told him. Then I offered to help with any pre-Easter preparation. The paschal candle needed to be carved down to fit in its candlestick. I was flattered he trusted me to help with that. (For those who don’t know, they are special candles for Eastertide . . . and are not cheap.) He even had me sit down in the bishop’s chair (then in the rectory) to carve!

As I helped with the candle, we had a good wide-ranging conversation, mostly on Anglican-related things. I let him know how much I appreciated the parish and his passion for liturgy.

I wished I could have stayed longer, but I felt I should go well before the 10am service even though the rector was quite welcoming. It was a neat time.
What happened tomorrow 30 years ago.

I don’t think I’ve told you all just what happened 30 years ago, so here goes. (I’ll try to condense it a bit.)

My foster dad (My mom died when I was 13.), Rick Mill, was the youth worker at Casa Linda Presbyterian Church. He and his wife Annette had already been quite an influence on me. I was still not yet a Christian, however.

Well, he invited me to the junior high group lock-in he was leading. My attitude was that it sounded like fun – even if it was a church event – so I went.

Wellll, at the lock-in, this cute girl liked me and quickly made that quite clear. I quickly very much liked her. At the end of the night, she invited me to communicants class. I didn’t know what the hey communicants class was, but she was in it, so I went. It was like an Anglican confirmation class that prepared us to make our first profession of faith, whereupon we would take our first communion (Hence the name “communicants.”).

Well, the communicants class retreat was quite eventful. There, an elder of the church presented the Gospel to us in a Four Spiritual Laws format popular at the time. Some might remember how it goes:

1. God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life.

2. But our sins separate us from God.

3. Jesus died for our sins, taking upon Himself our punishment and bridging that separation.

4. We receive God’s forgiveness and enter into a relationship with Him by trusting in Jesus.

I might have the wording off and I’m leaving out a lot, of course. But that was the first time I heard the Gospel and understood it. And it immediately clicked. I knew that was right.

I don’t know the exact moment I trusted in Christ. But it was either then or not long afterward.

However, the girl, Kelli, dumped me on the retreat -- and I ran to my cabin and cried a bucket. Lost the girl; gained the Lord. Good trade – although I didn’t feel that way at the time.

Our first communion and profession of faith was on Maundy Thursday 1975 – March 27th, my 14th birthday.

I still remember the peace I felt after the service, like I’ve never felt before.

The 30 years since have not been easy. But God has lavished His faithfulness and grace on me through them all.

And that’s why this Easter, March 27th 2005, is all the more special to me.

Happy Easter.

Friday, March 25, 2005

”Christ hither and away”

I wish I could post more on this very special day. Between a vigil and brief Morning Prayer at St. David’s, an excellent noon service at St. Matthias, and this and that, it’s been hard to post.

But I can’t let this day pass without noting it. I’ve already posted on how this is a particularly special Holy Week for me (and will post more tomorrow). But this Good Friday stands out in being on Annunciation Day, the day that celebrates the Annunciation to Mary.

Because of the rules of precedence for holy days, the Annunciation will be celebrated later, next week I think. But the correspondence is still very worthy of note. It is rare for one thing. If I have my facts right, the last time it happened was 1932. The next time is 2016 (which I guess makes Easter falling on my birthday, much less the 30th anniversary of my first profession of faith, very rare as well).

The excellent sermon at St. Matthias today noted it well, using a poem by John Donne, The Annunciation and Passion that he wrote for the same occasion. It begins:

TAMELY, frail body, abstain to-day; to-day
My soul eats twice, Christ hither and away.
She sees Him man, so like God made in this,
That of them both a circle emblem is,
Whose first and last concur; this doubtful day
Of feast or fast, Christ came, and went away.

God, in all His pure love, came down to be one of us. Yet He “came and went away” because we could not endure Him. We hated Him. And we killed Him.

And yet His love for us was undiminished. Instead, it was manifested by His dying for us on the cross. “Greater love hath no man . . . “

Oh, Lord Jesus, we don’t deserve You becoming one of us. We don’t deserve You dying for us. We deserve only Your eternal judgement. Yet You’ve given us Your eternal love. You’ve given us even Your eternal life.

What can we say except thank You . . . thank You . . .

Thursday, March 24, 2005


Tenebrae at St. David’s yesterday evening was much simpler than I was expecting. But it was still a good worship experience.

The Tenebrae candles and the stained glass window of Christ the King in the altar area were quite striking together in the otherwise dark sanctuary. It was still light outside so the stained glass shown bright.

The service was said (most of it by the whole congregation), not sung. There was no music. But that gave an appropriate somber tone.

The noise at the end (symbolizing the earthquake) was quite loud. It startled me even though I was expecting it. I think the server hit a door hard to make it.

By the way, in attendance were two service leaders (including the rector), four older ladies, and me.

This evening I go back to St. David’s for their Maundy Thursday services, including the Stripping of the Altar. They also have an agape supper and, later, a prayer vigil. Food is good. And, last year, participating in Holy Week prayer vigils back at Providence Church was a very good experience for me. So I expect to join in the supper and prayer vigil as well.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Rowan Williams on Abortion

On Palm Sunday, a column by the Archbishop of Canterbury on abortion ran in the Sunday Times.

It’s a thoughtful column. And the Archbishop expresses discomfort with the U.K.’s abortion laws (which are not as liberal as U.S. laws if memory serves me right).

He begins by stating, “For a large majority of Christians — not only Roman Catholics, and including this writer — it is impossible to regard abortion as anything other than the deliberate termination of a human life.”

I wonder if ++Rowan chose Palm Sunday as the day the column would run. If so, I’m encouraged that he would give this issue such emphasis.

A hat tip to the Archbishop.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Anglican picked to lead Duke Chapel

This Duke alum reads with interest that the Rev. Samuel Wells of Cambridge has been picked to lead Duke Chapel. He’ll be only the second non-Methodist and the first Anglican to do so. This is yet another step in our plan for Anglican world domination (providing we don’t destroy ourselves first).

He sounds like a good guy who is in the neighborhood of orthodoxy . . . which is as good as can be hoped for from Duke. (Thank God the past Duke President Keohane didn’t make the pick!)

Duke Chapel is an impressive place to worship, by the way, with good acoustics and a BIG organ.

Does anyone know more about the Rev. Wells?

Monday, March 21, 2005

The collect for the Monday before Easter

ALMIGHTY God, whose most dear Son went not up to joy but first he suffered pain, and entered not into glory before he was crucified; Mercifully grant that we, walking in the way of the cross, may find it none other than the way of life and peace; through the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

This morning I decided to incorporate a simple 7am Rite I Holy Eucharist service at St. David’s into my daily prayer time. While praying in the pew before the service, this collect got ahold of me and I mediated on it.

In my evangelical background, Christ’s crucifixion is chiefly portrayed as what won our salvation. And that’s good. But it’s easy to miss that His death is more than that. For one thing, it calls us to walk “in the way of the cross,” to take up our cross and follow Him, to in a very real way suffer and die.

And that’s scary.

But the way of the cross is the way of life and peace. The cross of Christ won our life and peace. Taking up our cross and following Him is the way to fully experience that life and peace.

But it still scares me. And, in a way, I guess it should.
My Holy Week

This is a very special Holy Week for me. It will be one of several firsts – my first Holy Week as a confirmed Anglican, my first service with incense in the sanctuary, my first Tenebrae, and no telling what else. Already I’ve experienced a special first – my first Palm Sunday service with a congregational procession, palm fronds and all.

What makes this week that much more meaningful to me is that Easter will also be the 30th anniversary of my first public profession of faith (and my birthday as well).

I’ll post as much as I can on this week.

Friday, March 18, 2005

HOB meeting aftermath: clearer talk of a split

An important result of this week’s Hayride to Hell (particularly ++Griswold’s literal demonizing of key conservatives?) is that significant orthodox leaders are talking more openly of a split with ECUSA.

David Roseberry, rector of Christ Church Plano, yesterday wrote:

Christ Church has been making disciples since 1985. God has blessed us with growth, strength, and a clear vision. We are committed to making disciples of Jesus Christ. We will be 20 years old this June. But what is increasingly clear to me is that we are no longer able to make disciples on behalf of the Episcopal Church. It is shutting itself down and closing itself off from the great heritage and energy of the worldwide Anglican Communion. Christ Church will not follow their demise.

I’ve followed Christ Church closely since the events of 2003. And I can’t recall him making such a clear statement about the likelihood of a split.

There will be a forum at Christ Church on April 10th. I probably can’t make it, but it should be interesting.

Bishop Duncan’s statements since the meeting, although gracious and restrained in tone, also acknowledged clearly the possibility of a split: “Our differences within the House of Bishops, within the Episcopal Church USA (ECUSA), and within the Anglican Communion may be irreconcilable.”

To the Washington Times , he referred to being bashed by Griswold and Robinson in saying, "As a pastor, when I hear someone say everything I'm doing is evil or 'I don't believe anything you say,' this marriage is probably beyond repair. I think our House of Bishops is finally talking about that."

Whether these statements are tipping a change of mind or are simply acknowledgements of what has been known all along, I’ll leave to others. But key conservative ECUSA leaders are becoming more open about a possible split.

(And for what it’s worth, I think that’s healthy, if sad. But that’s a whole ‘nother post.)

Thursday, March 17, 2005

More thoughts on Griswold’s Tantrum

Now that I’m somewhat over yesterday’s utter amazement at ++Griswold’s rant at the House of Bishops meeting, I have some thoughts.

This confirms my past suspicions posted here that Griswold and his allies don’t give a flip about unity. If he did, why would he make such a statement?

I think this is an important point. If you don’t want to get wiped out in a conflict, you must know your enemy. Before that, you must know who is your enemy. ++Griswold is not interested in unity with the orthodox. All his talk about reconciliation blah blah blah is a cover. He, Bennison, Robinson, Ingham et al want victory over the orthodox. They want submission, not unity. Orthodox Christians are about the only devil they believe in anymore. And they want their complete defeat. And if any orthodox Episcopalians haven’t figured that out yet, they had better soon.

Now not all liberals or all liberal bishops are that evil. There are a number of liberal Episcopalians I personally respect and even count as friends. But the ones running the show in the ECUSA are not nice people as hard as they try to appear so. Get a grip. They are not our brothers. They are the enemy.

As for Griswold himself, I think it’s very possible the man has lost it.

He’s seen his push for liberal/gay domination of ECUSA backfire. He thought having his friend Rowan Williams as Archbishop of Canterbury would protect him. He was wrong. He was visibly humiliated at the Primates Meeting. This photo speaks volumes. And now, with dioceses bleeding money, with most orthodox Episcopalians finally showing some backbone, with the Primates siding with the orthodox, with the very real and immanent possibility that ECUSA will be booted out of the Anglican Communion, he’s staring at defeat by the orthodox and at his tenure being a clear and utter disaster.

And he’s clearly not handling it well.

But maybe I’m being too serious about all this. Griswold’s tantrum is so absurd, maybe the proper response is to have fun and laugh him to scorn, which Stand Firm of all people has done quite well .

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

I’m Speechless, but Griswold wasn’t. . . .

The big news overnight is the Covenant Statement from the ECUSA House of Bishops.

But something that hasn’t gotten much attention – yet – is a vile little speech Presiding Bishop Griswold made to the other bishops practically accusing Bishop Duncan, Kendall Harmon, and others by name of doing the devil’s work of manipulating the Primates. And guess who chimes in and virtually calls ++Duncan a liar to his face? Gene Robinson. Read the story for yourself.

This renders me speechless. I had trouble even thinking of an appropriate headline. I will say this reminds me of the corrupt leaders of Judah blaming their troubles on Jeremiah when they were the ones to blame. The ECUSA liberals just won’t admit that they are the problem. They still persist in the canard that the problem is Global South Primates being manipulated by chicken dinners and nefarious stealth right-wingers.

One wonders why Griswold chose to make such a speech. What purpose did he think it would serve?

You wouldn’t think I, of all people, would overestimate the wisdom of North American liberals. But they keep amazing me again and again.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Episcopal Bishops consider gutting confirmation.

A report came out yesterday that the ECUSA House of Bishops is considering eliminating confirmation as a requirement for church office and may be considering doing away with confirmation altogether.

I find this a sad outrage. In Episcopal confirmation, one still has to state one’s intention to follow Jesus “as my Savior and Lord” and must affirm the Apostle’s Creed. It requires a clear public profession of faith. And someone joining the church should want to do that. If someone doesn’t, they have no business holding a church office. A strong case can be made they shouldn’t be considered a full member of the church at all.

But maybe weakening or eliminating confirmation is appropriate for ECUSA. There really hasn’t been any requirement to believe much of anything to hold office in that denomination for some years now . . . except perhaps the Holy Dennis Canon and the rule of bishops, of course.

Also, this exercise on the part of the House of Bishops illustrates how detached from reality many of them are. The Primates are gently but firmly disciplining them and expecting a response. ECUSA is on the verge of being sent out of the Anglican Communion with the kick of a velvet boot. And yet the bishops spend time on possibly weakening the sacraments and the requirements of church discipline – NOT what the current situation calls for.

The Hayride to Hell continues.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Episcopal Silliness

Apparently, the ECUSA House of Bishops meeting going on now in Texas includes a hayride. No word yet on whether they’ve had s’mores.

Whoever created this new Anglican blog is a very silly person. Do not go there while drinking coffee.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Prayer Book Anxiety

I’m a bit busy today. So I’m not going to post much right now about hearing the Rt. Rev. Daniel Morse speak at the Church of the Holy Communion Dallas (REC) for their Lent soup and speaker series. (Excellent potato soup by the way. Hmmm!) But there was an interesting dynamic I noticed during the Q and A time.

You see, he’s the chairman of the REC prayer book revision committee. And he mentioned the new prayer book is being used on a trial basis and is close to approval. And, sure enough, my REC prayer books are trial ones. I did not notice that before.

Anyway, Holy Communion is a 1928 prayer book parish. (REC parishes are allowed to use the 1928 BCP.) So when the people heard there was a new prayer book coming, there were two or three anxious questions about whether they could stick to the 1928 BCP. (They can.)

I don’t blame them for being anxious. If I have my history right, Holy Communion was an ECUSA parish. And having their 1928s taken away was a big reason they left.

Remember that in my ignorant (at least more ignorant than I am now) younger days, I wondered why people got so worked up over prayer books. But now that I’ve gotten attached to the 1928 BCP, I understand. ECUSA taking the 1928 BCP away still clearly leaves scars on some.

UPDATE: My apologies for earlier getting +Morse's name wrong. At the dinner I heard "Morris." But Morris is a cat, not a bishop. Thank you.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Presumptuous Pontificating Political Pronouncement

If you want a small sample what caused me to leave mainline denominations for my health, read the Holy Joint Ecumenical Statement opposing President Bush’s budget. Yes, it's signed by ECUSA leader ++Griswold and by PCUSA Stated Clerk Clifton Kirkpatrick, of course. In it, they call for higher taxes and bigger government programs. They aren't honest enough to clearly state that, but that's what they're calling for.

I can argue the opposite until I’m blue in the face. Gouging successful earners to make big government bigger is scarcely anything Jesus called for. But I’ll leave that aside and acknowledge that such issues are ones faithful Christians can disagree on. (I will not say that about issues such as abortion, but I’ll leave that for another day.) And I’ll leave aside the question of whether the alarmist depiction of Bush’s budget is accurate. (I’ve seen this sort of thing time and time again. It probably isn’t.)

That still leaves serious – and, yes, infuriating – problems with such pronouncements. First, is that most of these worthies are abusing and probably going beyond the authority entrusted to them.

Clifton Kirkpatrick stands out in this regard. I was a Presbyterian for 14 years and followed denominational doings closely (and still do on occasion). Under Presbyterian polity, I can’t anywhere recall that a proper role of the Stated Clerk is to act like a political pope on behalf of the denomination. Yet he and Andrews before him have constantly presumed to speak for Presbyterians by spouting the liberal line. I can’t imagine that kind of arrogance. And you can’t imagine how much this enraged me in my Presbyterian days. Which leads me to . . .

The second problem is complete disregard for the consciences of political conservatives in those denominations. (O. K., there aren’t many conservatives left in the United Church of Christ, but anyway…) It really shows contempt for politically conservative Methodists, Episcopalians, Lutherans, and Presbyterians to make an official statement that the Methodist etc. position is that conservative positions on budgeting etc. are wrong and immoral. And there are still a lot of conservatives in the pews of mainline denominations. And such statements make it problematic for many of those conservatives to stay in those pews.

And that in turn leads to a third problem. The liberal pontificators’ statements are highly divisive.

The hypocrisy of these leaders is revealed by such acts. They speak again and again about how much they value unity. Then they engage in divisive acts on issues where faithful Christians disagree. If they really cared about unity, they would decline to make official pronouncements on such issues.

Now there are times for church leaders to take divisive action. Some issues are so important and so clearly right and wrong matters that division is a proper cost to pay. But President Bush’s budget is not such an issue.

Actions such as this statement on the President’s budget lend credence to the admittedly jaundiced view of what liberals really mean by “unity”: Us liberals do what we want and you conservatives put up with it and fork over the money.

Well, I stopped playing that game long ago.

More commentary and lots of comments may be found here.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

The Curry Household years ago . . .

Mama Curry: “Young man, I told you to stop jumping on the couch! Now stop it right now and go to your room!”

Prebishop Curry: “Mother, I’m so encouraged that your statement is not so much a declaration of discipline as a testament of communion. The intent of the statement is to provide time and space for persons holding profoundly different theological perspectives on jumping on the couch and Christian life to remain in conversation, relationship and communion with each other in Christ.”

(inspired by Bishop Curry’s statement on the Primates’ Communiqué. Quite a contrast from Bishop Iker, eh?)

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

More straight talk from the Rt. Rev. Jack Leo Iker

Bishop Iker of Fort Worth comments very succinctly on the Primates communiqué.

You gotta love the man. Is there another American bishop who just tells it like it is like he does?

I attribute his straightforward truth-telling to three things:

1. He’s staunchly orthodox so he doesn’t have to play games with churchy words.

2. He’s Texan.

3. At seminary, he somehow skipped a certain course. You know the one: Episcopalese -- How to Use Very Many Words to Say Very Little.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Christmas in England (advice wanted)

I got some news and a request for advice. I’m pretty sure this Christmas I’m going to tour England. My priorities will be attending excellent sung services, particularly by excellent male choirs such as Kings College and St. Paul’s, and taking in Anglican church history and architecture.

I think it would be taxing to plan it all myself. So I am looking for a good tour to go on. But I will probably want to do my own thing for a few days, too.

And I do want to be in England for Christmas itself.

Suggestions are welcome for tours or anything else.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

”What the heck is the priest wearing?”

It’s the Fourth Sunday in Lent. And in some parishes, you know what that means. . . .

Saturday, March 05, 2005

WannabeAnglican Parish?

Here’s something interesting. You’ve seen me look for (and find) a church home. Now there’s a blog about an Anglican parish looking for a home .

Friday, March 04, 2005

Firmly standing alone . . . on sand . . . with the tide coming in.

When I was looking for a new church, I did actually consider joining an ECUSA church. For the Diocese of West Texas is fairly orthodox and somewhat conservative even.

But the bishop’s reluctance to join the Network or the like pretty much decided I would go elsewhere. If a diocese isn’t committed enough to orthodoxy and to resisting apostasy to at least join the Network, then I couldn’t find myself committing to it.

Well, apparently things aren’t getting any better.

In February (before the Primates Meeting), the diocese had its council at South Padre Island, which is quite a big beach resort. (I don’t know how permanent that link will be.) And Bishop Folts reiterated his middle of the road position – which I find about as wise as living in a sand castle. (The following quotes are from Bishop Folts’s charge, which is a PDF on the site.)

Further, we resolved in our meeting of Council just this past year that we would under no circumstances cut our relationship with the Episcopal Church (Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society) or the Anglican Communion. We would not align ourselves with any consortium of Dioceses or any religious political action groups who seek a status separate from the Episcopal Church in the United States of America or from the Anglican Communion.

There are obvious problems with this firm middle of the beach position. First, there is the very real possibility that in three years, being with both ECUSA and the Anglican Communion won’t be an option. I’m not saying that’s likely. But a policy of aligning firmly with both is getting to be about as viable as aligning with the Knights of Columbus and NARAL.

And what happens if ECUSA by its actions seeks “a status separate from . . . the Anglican Communion”? What about possible “circumstances” like that?

(To be fair to Bishop Folts, remember he did make his address before the Primates Meeting.)

And the bishop repeated his resolve to go it alone. With all due respect, I honestly see that as flat unbiblical. I have ornery loner tendencies and there are times to stubbornly stand alone. But even I see that the biblical model is for faithful Christians to work together. It’s sad to me that this reputedly orthodox bishop won’t join the efforts of fine people like Bishops Stanton, Duncan, Howe and Iker. Not only that, he made a statement which I can’t see as anything but a slur on them:

In all candor I must share with you that those in the House of Bishops who represent positions to the very far left and to the very far right in our present indisposition seem to have their feet so firmly set in concrete as to be immovable. For them we will pray, but we will not permit them to control what we do. Rather than be coopted by either political extreme, we will continue to be prepared, if necessary, to go it alone for a while in the mission and ministry of the church.

I scratched my head on this one. I can’t think of any ECUSA bishops that I would characterize as “very far right.” The most conservative bishops I can think of are +Stanton and +Iker, with maybe +Howe and a very few others. But they are hardly extremists. Bishop Folts’ statement is out of line.

And his go-it-alone, middle-of-road, above-it-all posture serves neither his diocese nor the Church of Christ well.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

An interview with the Archbishop of Canterbury

The BBC had an interesting and timely interview with ++Rowan Williams just after the Primates meeting. A transcript is posted at Anglican Mainstream.

Among other things, the ABC clearly states that it’s the Primates’ view – and his – that the North American churches should repent. I don’t recall him saying this in such a straightforward manner in the past.

Later on, it’s quite entertaining to see the interviewer and ++Rowan dance around the question of his personal views on gay-related issues. ++Rowan dances quite well I may add. The man knows how to use English.

I highly recommend the interview.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Churchly Quality Control XIV: No good deed goes unpunished.

If you have the clarity and courage to exercise CQC, more commonly known as church discipline, be prepared to catch some flack. Paul did when he tried to get the church at Corinth in line.

And now the Primates are for their quite patient discipline of the Episcopal Church USA and the Anglican Church of Canada. One piece from the Guardian compares the Primates to Nazis while one from Australia blames “Global South bullies” and “shadowy” right-wingers.

Yes, liberals, you better look for us shadowy right-wingers under your beds. We’re going to bully you.

And that’s not to mention all the usual accusations of bigotry, homophobia, intolerance, blah blah blah being thrown about.

In any case, if you engage in any serious church discipline, be prepared for nastiness to ensue. Because some people won’t like it – and they won’t hesitate to impugn your motives.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Will bishops and dioceses leave the Episcopal Church?

It’s beginning to look like that may be a possibility in three years if, as many expect, the Episcopal Church USA (ECUSA) and the Anglican Communion part ways.

A key bishop, +Howe of Central Florida, has just written to his diocese and all but said he will leave ECUSA if it leaves the Anglican Communion. For the Anglican Communion has priority with him:

I have said over and over and over again that I will not leave the Episcopal Church. But that has always been based upon the assumption and conviction that the Episcopal Church would never leave the Anglican Communion. . . .

God forbid, but if the Episcopal Church decides to walk away from the Anglican Communion it will also walk away from me. As I said to our Annual Convention in January,

“I value the Anglican Communion immensely. Apart from the Communion my episcopacy means nothing. And should the Episcopal Church decide to ‘walk separately’ from the rest of the Communion we will become just another American protestant sect. I have no desire to move in that direction.”

God bless Bishop Howe for his clarity and courage.

I don’t know what the next three years will look like, particularly what 2008 will look like. I do think that will be a year of schism. I’m not predicting dioceses will leave ECUSA, but that is possible. In any case, it will be interesting . . . and messy.