Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Welcome to the Reformed Episcopal Church!

Another parish, St. Andrew’s in Savannah, has joined the Reformed Episcopal Church. And they won’t be the last.

I suspect a certain June event in a larger Episcopal denomination will prompt many individuals and parishes to check out the REC, APA, and other continuing Anglican bodies.

We continuing Anglicans need to pray and get ready.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Statements from Bishops Duncan and Stanton Prompt Wailing and Gnashing of Teeth.

If you haunt the Reasserting Anglican blogosphere, you may have noticed that Network bishops Duncan and Stanton have issued statements the past few days that have prompted many orthodox in the Episcopal Church to respond with some unhappiness as you can see for yourself on the two links.

Although the bishops’ statements are by no means easy to interpret, to at least some they mean the bishops intend to stay in ECUSA no matter what happens at the General Convention this year.

I frankly don’t yet know what to think about the two statements and have no desire to prejudge their meaning. But, for now, I do have two hard big picture questions to ask:

1. If the bishops indeed intend to stick it out and stay in ECUSA, one motivation for them surely is that they don’t wish to abandon that branch of the Church. It therefore must be asked – is there a point at which a branch of Christ’s church so strays from Christ and His word that it is no longer a part of his church?

Like I said, a hard question. But I think the answer is yes. And I think a good case can be made that on a national level, ECUSA is near or past that point. If it’s past that point, then the most Christian thing an individual or parish can do is to witness to the truth and serve as a warning to the apostate by leaving.

2. A cause that prompts some to advocate staying in ECUSA is Christian unity. And that surely is a cause bishops Duncan and Stanton are considering. But if continued unity with an apostate or nearly apostate church would shatter unity within the orthodox, then which unity is more important?

I would assert unity with orthodox Christians is more important. And if the comments to the two statements are any indication (not to mention past statements from overseas orthodox leaders), the bishops simply staying in ECUSA (which isn’t necessarily what the two propose to do) would indeed shatter that unity.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

What?!? No Anglican Fudge at GS ’06??

It’s unwise to ever underestimate the capability of Anglicans to fudge matters. But I have a bold prediction: Anglican Fudge will not be served at the Episcopal Church’s General Convention this year. And the fall out will be a split in the Anglican Communion sooner rather than later.

Oh, Griswold et al will serve up resolutions saying how wonderful it is to be a part of the Anglican Communion etc. etc. And they would like to fudge the whole convention so as to make it more difficult to boot them out of the Anglican Communion. But they will fail.

They will fail to cook up their Anglican fudge at GS ’06 ironically because forces from their own camp won’t let them.

I expect the Diocese of California will elect one of the two gay-with-partner nominees as bishop, making that particular issue impossible to fudge. That bishop will be confirmed at the General Convention, blowing up any pretense of supposedly abiding by the Windsor Report and the Dromantine Communique.

In addition, the Executive Council’s decision to jump the gun and affiliate ECUSA with the abortion lobby Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (RCRC) will not go unchallenged at the convention. Since it’s exceedingly unlikely the convention will reverse the decision, but will affirm it (if perhaps indirectly by suppressing an attempt to vote on it), this will be yet another big red flag of apostasy at the convention for all to see.

So although only a couple months ago I thought GS ’06 would be a Fudge Fest, the liberals themselves are sabotaging that tactic.

The fall out will be a more swift and certain split in the Anglican Communion. The Global South will not tolerate ECUSA being allowed to remain as members of Anglican Communion. Either ECUSA bishops (or at least most of them) are kicked out of Lambeth in 2008 or the Global South will walk out. And that’s only if the Communion stays together until Lambeth.

Here in the U. S., what the orthodox in ECUSA will do is not so clear cut. There will surely be a conservative walk out at GS ’06. But many conservatives will stay in ECUSA, including perhaps even Network leader Bishop Duncan. And, as the comments on that link indicate, the conservatives themselves would then sadly split with not a little acrimony.

I do pray I’m wrong on that last prediction.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Amazing Quote About Worry

I’m a bit busy this morning. But I want to be sure to pass on this amazing quote I saw on RealMoney.com of all places:

"Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength."
-- Corrie Ten Boom

I’m prone to worry and can be really bad about fretting. So posting this is as much for me as for my gracious readers.

Corrie Ten Boom was quite an influence on Christians in the 1970’s, by the way, including me.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Silly Liberals

Some things from libchurch people are so absurd, they *almost* exhaust my talents for commentary or satire. This is one of them.

Meanwhile, an ecumenical church commission has decided not to meet in Corpus Christi because the very name of that city discourages interfaith dialogue and shows disrespect toward non-Western faiths. The commission has called upon the city to change their name to Goddess Sophia. The city was too busy cleaning up coffee spills to comment.

That brings to 96 the number of the 100 largest U. S. cities the commission has ruled out for their meetings. They are now considering meeting in San Francisco, Eugene, or Havana.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

An Episcopal Election to Watch

The Episcopal Diocese of California has announced its nominees to become its next bishop. The five nominees include a gay man, the Very Rev. Robert Taylor of Seattle, and a lesbian, the Rev. Bonnie Perry of Chicago, both of whom have partners at this time.

The election therefore becomes one to watch. Most readers of this blog don’t need me to tell them the possible consequences if either Taylor or Perry are elected by the diocese in May and approved by the national General Convention this summer. To say the split of the Anglican Communion may be accelerated would be an understatement.

I wouldn’t bet against Taylor or Perry. We’re talking California now. There are many in that diocese who won’t be able to resist voting for the most trendy “prophetic” candidate possible.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

”Leaving the Shire”

Many conservatives in the Episcopal Church USA are struggling with the question of whether to stay in or leave ECUSA. And I’ve wrestled with that question here although it’s not a decision I have to make personally.

But here’s an interesting alternative view that hasn’t been discussed much: perhaps conservatives would do well to “leave the shire,” join the fight, and join the Episcopal Church.

If one is not in any way aiding apostasy and if one is not endangering the spiritual health of oneself or (especially) one’s family, there is something to be said for this approach. (Yes, those are big “if”s.)

When I was moving the past couple years, I did actually check out local ECUSA parishes from a distance, if you can believe that. But I felt the bishop over this area was too much of a fence-sitter and therefore had little confidence in the diocese.

And I remembered how upset I was by doings in the Presbyterian Church when I was in that denomination. And I thought it unwise to put myself through that again. I just don’t think I have the stomach for it. Maybe that’s not the godliest consideration, but there you go.

If I were still in the Diocese of Dallas, I might now be a member of an ECUSA parish, however. I’ve made no secret of how much I love St. David’s and Smokey Matt’s. But that’s probably a different situation than what the couple in the article joined. I doubt I have the temperament to do what they are doing.

But their decision is certainly honorable and worthy of consideration even if one might not agree and be able to do the same thing.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Another Modest Proposal for the Olympics

Prima Donna Biathlon: Biathletes ski around and shoot ice dancers.
Just a small minority of Muslims?

Over and over again, we have heard that only a small minority of Muslims are extremists or support terrorism.

I’ve always had very serious doubts about that. For many years, I’ve known enough history of Islam and enough Koran (I studied the Koran at Duke.) to know Islam is no “religion of peace” toward us “infidels.”

Well, now my doubts are confirmed yet again.

It turns out 40% of British Muslims want Sharia law in at least parts of the U. K. Anyone want to start an amputation business there?

And a fifth have sympathy toward the June 7th London suicide bombers, although (supposedly) 99% thought the bombing was wrong.

Apparently, the nutcases I photographed marching in London are not atypical.

Note this isn’t in the Palestinian Authority or Iran or Indonesia for that matter. These are Muslims in Great Britain. It’s safe to say these are more moderate than your average Muslim.

What was that about a small minority again?

By the way, in light of this poll, it’s very fair to ask what the governments of the U.K. and other European governments were thinking when they abundantly imported through immigration this Muslim culture which is so hostile to Western culture.

It’s a bit late to do so (I did so years ago myself.), but we need to wake up and realize that the problem isn’t just a few Muslim extremists.

The problem is Islam itself.
Pray for the Church in Nigeria.

Muslim persecution of Christians in Nigeria has been going on for years. But it has become more severe in recent weeks. One bishop has been murdered. Another’s family was viciously attacked by assailants looking for the bishop (who was out of the country at the time).

Now Nigerian Muslims are using the Mohammed cartoons as an excuse to kill Christians and destroy their churches and shops. Some have been killed in their churches.

My REC parish made a special point to pray for the Church in Nigeria yesterday. I ask that you do the same.

UPDATE: Archbishop Akinola has released a statement.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Write the Punch Line!

While perusing the Presbyterian Layman, I noticed an Episcopal bishop has decried ECUSA and PCUSA remaining separate as “a scandal to the gospel.”

The bishop who decried this “scandal”?

Douglas E. Theuner, retired bishop of New Hampshire. Yes, he’s the one who groomed Gene Robinson to succeed him. And as the article notes, he preached the sermon at Robinson’s consecration, saying Robinson would "stand as a symbol of the unity of the church."

I’m sorry. This is so absurd I’m at a loss for a punch line . . . . And that’s where you come in. Yes, you get to . . .


Write your clever punch line in the comments. Do try to keep it relatively clean and charitable. If I in any way disapprove of your comment or punch line, I reserve the right to edit it in any way I please. >:^D

If the winner is Presbyterian, he/she gets a virtual bottle of scotch. If Anglican, he gets a virtual decanter of sherry. If Baptist, he gets tap water.
Perplexing Presbyterian Depopulation

It’s no secret that my old haunt, the Presbyterian Church USA has been bleeding members for years. But for some reason, that decrease is accelerating, according to projections from the denomination.

I’m puzzled as to why this might be so. There hasn’t been a precipitating event to speak of as in the Episcopal Church, just the usual outrages. And there hasn’t been a major split in years.

Yes, liberalism is driving people away. But that’s been the case for decades. You’d almost expect the decline to slow at some point as there are fewer disenchanted conservatives left to leave.

Could it be demographics coming due – that older members are dying while younger members are still leaving?

More conservative Presbyterian leaders, such as the Presbyterian Lay Committee, have in recent years come to acknowledge that keeping the denomination together is untenable. (I remember years ago the PLC urging people to stay in.) Perhaps, more individuals and congregations therefore feel more comfortable with leaving than in the past.

Again, I don’t know. This projected acceleration surprises me.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Nearing a Crossroads

I have some decisions to make. I’m considering pursuing another degree after being out of school for a lllllong time. There’s so much I want to read and study, particularly in the area of liturgics and church history, perhaps I might as well get some fancy letters for it. And, yes, I’m open to considering the diaconate.

I’m also considering rewriting a novel I put aside years ago. It got good reviews from a Pulitzer Prize winner no less, but we couldn’t get the publishing establishment interested. There are more avenues open for writers now. And after being burnt out on writing for a while, I’ve got the creative urge again.

But I can’t rewrite the novel and get a degree at the same time. I don’t have that much energy. I’m not even sure I could handle academics well.

And perhaps God would have me do neither now.

So, like I said, I have decisions to make. It’s appropriate I’m about to help lead a church retreat on vocations and God’s providence.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

A Modest Suggestion for the Olympics

As noted on ESPN Radio last night, Biathlon can be a bit boring. So let’s drop it and substitute Vice-Presidential Biathlon. Instead of people skiing around and shooting at targets, they ski around and shoot at each other.
Wannabe Anglican, Church Detective

You may have heard of the Church Police, but I bet you've never heard of Church Detectives. Well, now you have.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Faux Inclusion II

Another area in which “inclusion” in the Episcopal Church really means liberals dominating and excluding conservatives is the treatment of candidates for holy orders in many dioceses. These two views give a good taste of such “inclusion.”

One of the several ironies here is that the bishops that scream the loudest about overseas orthodox bishops taking conservative North American candidates and clergy under their wings are the same ones who refuse to ordain such clergy. One prominent overseas bishop, the Bishop of Bolivia Frank Lyons, himself was denied ordination by a liberal ECUSA bishop if I remember correctly.

These liberal bishops refuse to ordain thoroughly orthodox and worthy clergy in their dioceses, but whine when another bishop does.

That’s just one more reason ECUSA bishops have only themselves to blame for orthodox interventions from overseas.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Faux Inclusion

In contrast to the genuine moves toward faithful unity among orthodox Anglicans, such as FIFNA joining the Network, is phony inclusion in the Episcopal Church. Paul Zahl and the AnglicanCatholic expose it well.
FIFNA joins the Network En Masse

I’m very encouraged by the news that the parishes of Forward in Faith North America have joined the Anglican Communion Network en masse.

One of the glories of Anglicanism is quite catholic and quite protestant Christians worshipping under the same ecclesiastical roof. I loved seeing that at the REC/APA convention in Orlando last year. And some of you know a favorite place for me to worship is the very Anglo-Catholic Smokey Matt’s in Dallas.

It seems that God, through this welcome news along with the REC/APA merger in progress and other developments, is working to bring together in one body orthodox Protestant and Anglo-Catholic Anglicans who before had been scattered here and there – and who in fairly recent history have even been hostile to each other.

And, yes, He apparently is using the difficulties in ECUSA and the Anglican Communion to bring this about. As I like to say, “Romans 8:28.”

And what a turn of church history it would be if orthodox North American Anglicans, who along with many other orthodox Christians, sadly have a notorious history of splintering, would instead be in the forefront of such a genuine and Biblical ecumenism.

I’ve been hoping and praying for such since I joined the Reformed Episcopal Church. And if He is indeed doing this, then thanks be to God!
Emerald Nuts Rules.

The Emerald Nuts ads alone are reason for watching the Winter Olympics. Those ads are better than all the Super Bowl ads this year combined.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Charles I and the Puritans Deserved Each Other II: Now I Take on the Puritans

I’ve taken on Charles I and his Archbishop Laud. Now it’s time for me to take on the other protagonists in the English Civil War, Oliver Cromwell and the Puritans. I do so with the caveat that I’m now reading Conrad Russell’s The Causes of the English Civil War which the Good Professor sent me. So my views could easily change in a few weeks.

Now I have two confessions to make. For most of my life, Puritans were my heroes. And at my old church, Oliver Cromwell was spoken of with reverence.

The second confession? What has turned me against the Puritans may be considered superficial by some. In short, I deplore their destructive iconoclasm, an important aspect of their short reign. Since I have a weakness for stained glass, I find their destruction of vast quantities of it particularly outrageous.

My visit to Ely’s Lady Chapel brought the Puritans' destructiveness home. Not far from Oliver Cromwell’s home, the Puritans destroyed virtually all the stained glass and statues in the chapel. Now it’s a strange place, both dark and glaring.

I’m probably imposing my values on a different time, but I don’t understand destroying so much of the art and heritage of the church.

They were destructive in other ways, of course, doing away with the prayer book – Cranmer wasn’t Protestant enough for them! – and with the episcopacy.

Although Cromwell’s rule was a good hundred years after the Reformation, its excesses reflect the excesses of the Reformation. The Reformation, though needed, all too often went beyond reform to destruction, to destroying too much that was good in the church. And that destructive tendency is part of why I’m not nearly as Protestant as I used to be.

Though the Puritans are still to be commended for their zeal for scripture and its authority, their zeal was often selective and misplaced. Did they not for one minute consider the Bible’s exhortation to worship the Lord “in the beauty of holiness” as they wantonly destroyed so much beauty in the church?

And they forever gave zealots for God’s word a bad name. Even today, those who hold strongly to the authority of God’s word are sometimes derided as “Puritans.”

In fact, a case could be made that they gave many in Anglicanism a phobia toward those who strongly hold to the authority of scripture. Perhaps the Puritans thus indirectly contributed to the creation of the liberal mentality that led to that screaming awful statue, supposedly of Mary, that you see in the background.

And, by the way, some of the glass the Puritans destroyed in Canterbury Cathedral has been replaced by truly awful 20th Century stuff, some cartoonish, some bordering on the pagan.

I wonder what Cromwell would think of his handiwork now?

Thursday, February 09, 2006

I discover Paul Dutton.

And if you know who Paul Dutton is, you deserve a gold star blessed by an archbishop. For I’ve never heard of him until this week. He was a leading English boy treble in the early 70’s and apparently quite an item then.

How did I come to hear of him? I heard six songs from him on a CD that I just ordered: Once Were Angels – The Tradition of Boy Trebles. This is a rather obscure CD I saw reviewed in a 2003 issue of Cathedral Music. Anyway, his voice is (or was) incredible! I’ve never heard anyone who sounded quite like him. His voice is not as technically perfect as some star trebles I’ve heard (maybe because he was pushing puberty when his recordings were made?). But his imperfections are such that they contribute to the endearing humanity of his voice.

I’m at a loss to describe his voice further. It has to be heard! The whole CD is excellent as well. It covers some of the best English boy trebles of 1964-89. And they are excellent. There was only one soloist and one duo I didn’t like, but even that is probably just my stylistic taste.

Do I recommend this CD? Oh yes! And with over 78 minutes of music, you’ll be getting your money’s worth.

By the way, if anyone knows of any other CDs with Paul Dutton singing as a treble on them let me know. (He’s still involved with music, but is no treble anymore.)

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

How about a 5 year Moratorium on Brian McLaren?

Last month, Brian McLaren suggested a five year moratorium on “making pronouncements” on homosexuality. Oh, and if all the “listening” and “dialogue” he recommends during those five years don’t come up with “clarity,” then he recommends another five years!

Man, you’d think he’s Anglican or something.

I wonder what other subjects on which the Bible speaks that he thinks we should be silent about for five or more years.

I also wonder if “clarity” is possible with Brian McLaren in the room. McLarity he ain’t.

What annoys me the most about McLaren and many of his “Emergent” friends is their excruciating reluctance to clearly stand with the teaching and authority of scripture. Yet so-called evangelicals support these guys -- which annoys me perhaps even more.

McLaren advises a moratorium until there is “clarity.” May I humbly suggest McLaren impose a moratorium on himself until he repents of his own notorious lack of clarity in standing with the word of God.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

The NFL’s Self-Inflicted Black Eye

(Sorry. I know most of you come here for more exalted things than football. And I probably won’t talk about football again here in a good long time. But I still have some things I got to get off my chest. Besides, I can be entertaining when I get worked up over such things.)

The Playoffs and Super Bowl just ended weren’t just awful for fans like me who appreciate well played football on a level (i.e. fairly reffed) playing field, they were a disaster for the NFL.

If the NFL realizes what a disaster it was and makes needed changes, it can recover. But if not . . . . Let me explain.

There is nothing, I mean nothing a sports fan hates more than a stacked deck, a rigged game, whatever you want to call it. That’s why there is so much outrage about the Playoffs and Super Bowl this year. The refereeing was terrible and had a big effect on more than one game, especially the Super Bowl itself.

With the widespread perception (fair or unfair) that the NFL was rooting for Pittsburgh once it got past the Colts, the Super Bowl has put the NFL in a precarious position. They must insure that this bad joke of a championship doesn’t happen again for a good, long time. This Super Bowl must become an unfortunate aberration and soon. For if fans feel that not just this one game, but the league itself is rigged, they will likely turn against it or just walk away.

I’m a good illustration of that.

I used to be a Major League Baseball fan. As a kid, I’d curl up on my bed with a radio broadcasting the Texas Rangers on WBAP. Later, I went to about a half dozen Ranger games a year and read about the games every day. Nolan Ryan, especially, was and still is my hero.

But then came the dark years where the New York Yankees went to the World Series year after year after year. Putting aside umpires’ favoritism toward them, it was clear that the Major Leagues were financially structured in such a way that rigged the game in their favor. Hating the Yankees, I turned against the game and now almost ignore it. That the latest fair haired boy, the Chicago White Sox, were helped to their world championship last year by outrageous calls, have hardened my distaste for Major League Baseball. After seeing one playoff game in particular rigged by an inexcusable call, I boycotted the rest of the baseball playoffs. (And after seeing Texas Rangers management handle Kenny Rogers with kid gloves after his totally unprovoked assault of a cameraman, I’m not even a Rangers fan any more.)

Now, back to football. When I was younger, I followed football mainly because I was a diehard Dallas Cowboys fan. But deep inside, I hated the NFL for their favoritism toward teams like the Steelers, the Raiders, and the 49’ers both on (reffing) and off the field. I saw referees favor dirty-playing teams like the Steelers and the Raiders. I saw the NFL only give the 49’ers a slap on the wrist when it came out that their championship teams were financed in blatant violation of league rules by their crook owner.

And usually two or more of such teams I loved to hate were dominant year after year because the financial structure of the NFL was rigged.

The only reasons I retained an interest in NFL football when I soured on the Cowboys under Barry Switzer are: 1. The Cowboys are one of the world’s best soap operas. 2. The NFL restructured and discovered parity. And lo and behold, previous have-nots like New England and Tampa Bay whom I had rooted for as underdogs for years were going to the Super Bowl . . . and winning! And the teams I loved to hate had trouble adjusting to the new level playing field and were getting beat. And who would have good seasons became *gasp* unpredictable!

The NFL became fun. And so even though I wasn’t nearly as diehard a Cowboys fan, I became an NFL fan. Unlike Major League Baseball, the NFL did right by its fans. Even the refereeing improved.

BUT if (and it’s a big “if”), the NFL in any way goes back to becoming a rigged league like the bad old days, I will curse it and turn against it. And I won’t be alone. Look what happened to the Major League Baseball fan base since it became the New York Yankees League. If people want to see rigged sport, they’ll watch professional wrestling (and I don’t.).

And, yes, I still resent that the Dallas Cowboys were hurt bad by the refs in two Super Bowls and that the Pittsburgh Steelers were helped greatly by the refs in what is now two Super Bowls. To keep this fan, they best not bring back those memories ever again like they did on Super Sunday.

The NFL needs to do two things pronto:
1. Improve the referee corp. And that includes firing some refs. One of the things that’s killed Major League Baseball is that it’s cowed by its umpires’ union and puts up with terrible umpires.

2. Try to hide its favoritism a little bit better. Better yet, do away with it. With the huge Pittsburgh fan base (and the small Seattle fan base) and with the overrated history of the Steelers, the NFL was sorely tempted to take sides. There is at least the perception out there (and right here) that it gave into that temptation.

The NFL deserves credit for becoming a more level (and more entertaining) playing field. But if it goes back to being an unlevel field or even seems to do so, then I and a number of fans will leave the stands and change the channels and not come back. And this year’s playoffs and Super Bowl were more than one step in that wrong direction.

UPDATE: If you think I’m exaggerating the harm the Super Bowl did to the NFL’s credibility, 42% in an ESPN poll said the poor officiating is what they find most memorable about this Super Bowl. And Seattle Coach Mike Holmgren, no hot head, seriously dissed the NFL when he told a Seattle crowd, "We knew it was going to be tough going up against the Pittsburgh Steelers. I didn't know we were going to have to play the guys in the striped shirts as well."

The NFL needs to live down this Super Bowl.

By the way, I got another prognostication for you: Because of fan anger and sympathy, Seattle just became America’s Team.

MORE: If you want a broad sample of the serious problems the NFL now has with fans, read some of this long discussion thread. (Be warned that some of the language is unanglican.)

Monday, February 06, 2006

Super Disgust

O. K. I wasn’t going to make a Super Bowl post. Super Bowl stuff is all over the place. I’m not very Pious and Overly Devotional when a team I thoroughly dislike wins the Super Bowl because all four of their playoff opponents, which I do did like, don’t show up and play decent football (with the possible exception of the Bengals who promptly lost their quarterback). And there are others who will show you the refereeing was awful and favored Pittsburgh. Plus there was a black-out at my place, so I didn’t see the end of the 3rd and most of the 4th Quarter (which may be a good thing. From what I hear, two crucial zebra calls I missed would have made me die of a conniption.). AND my beloved Rector taught against complaining on Super Sunday.

BUT I heard something on Sporting News Radio tonight that I’ve seen nowhere else: that ref who called the crucial offensive interference call after the Pittsburgh guy barked at him? Yeah, one of the calls that took away a Seattle touchdown? That ref is from Pittsburgh.

What the H was he doing reffing that game in the first place?

If I ever hear a Pittsburgh fan complaining about reffing again, may God in his mercy keep me from slapping him silly. That’s TWO Super Bowls where the refs were a BIG help to the Steelers.

"One for the thumb"? How about two for the zebras.

MORE: If you think I’m hard on the refs, read what Skip Bayless wrote. By the way, he’s been a sportswriter as long as I can remember and is no Seahawks fan.

And on review, I think I may have been too hard on the Seahawks. Except for Stevens' hands, they did at least show up and play football. But it's hard to keep coming when the refs kill you with questionable calls again and again and . . . .
Sanctified Statistics

There’s been a lot of numbers batted around lately concerning how well – or not – the Episcopal Church is holding up. Something very important to take into account when evaluating the numbers: parish membership rolls tend to be greatly inflated.

This is not just an Episcopal problem, of course. Many churches of different stripes have inflated membership numbers for various and mostly innocent reasons. (Although I think my previous church, Denton Bible, actually has higher actual attendance than membership.)

But let’s say ECUSA says they have a membership drop of x% based on a previous membership of y. If real y is actually much less, then the real loss of x% will be much higher. And if people stop coming but don’t bother to call the church and ask to be taken off the membership rolls, they won’t be reflected in x at all.

That’s some higher math for ya – math that doesn’t add up well for ECUSA.

I agree with Matt Kennedy (and I find myself agreeing with him a lot lately.) – attendance numbers, i.e. real bodies showing up on Sunday, are more telling.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Singing the Sursum Corda

I showed up to Evening Prayer last night even earlier than I usually do. And while talking to a friend, I heard Father Ben working with one of the organists up in balcony. I thought he was getting something ready for the service as he often does. But his voice reminded me of sung prayers I’ve heard elsewhere. So I made some kind of joke that he’s going to sing more prayers. (I can’t remember what I said. I’ve always had such a bad memory for jokes, I often can’t remember my own!)

And the friend said that he is. He was practicing a sung Sursum Corda.

I immediately pumped my fists and said “Yes!” This was quite a surprise. And as some of you may have noticed, I like sung prayers.

Up to now, we’ve been saying the Sursum Corda, then singing the Sanctus during Holy Communion, but soon we’ll be singing both. Sorry I don’t know the proper description of the chant we’ll use, but it’s very common among Anglicans. It’s the same chant as at St. David’s in Denton. In fact, whenever I hear it, I’m reminded of the singing of the now retired Father Baines at St. David’s.

And that’s a good memory.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Charles I and the Puritans deserved each other.

This being the week when some of the more Anglo-Catholic and Erastian among us celebrate St. Charles, King and Martyr, I think it a good time to expound my views on the combatants in the English Civil War, views confirmed by my recent trip to England – and views which are sure to offend everybody. (And these are just my views. I don’t claim to be a great scholarly authority.)

Now there are people I respect who revere Charles I, and there are (non-Anglican) people I respect who revere Oliver Cromwell. But I am not among any of them. I think Charles I and the Puritans deserved each other.

And I’ll demonstrate this with a couple photos I took on my trip.

Let’s take on Charles I and his obnoxious Archbishop of Canterbury William Laud first.

It was less than a hundred years before that the attempt by the very Catholic wing of the Church of England to dominate and push out (and kill) more Protestant Anglicans proved to be a bloody disaster cut short only by the death of Bloody Mary herself. And, yes, under Edward VI before her, the then ascendant Protestants committed more than their share of excesses as well. The combat between the two sides was tearing England asunder.

In her wisdom, Elizabeth rejected the extreme courses desired by both sides, helping mold the glorious Anglican via media tradition and bringing relative peace to England for almost a century.

But did Charles and Laud learn the lessons from that history? No! In a divided church, they imposed their pet “catholic” Arminian agenda on the church and nation, disregarding Parliament in the process and almost willfully inflaming divisions into war.

(Hmmm. Pushing a pet agenda in spite of divisions, steamrolling the opposition, disregarding important instruments of authority, willfully inflaming divisions . . . sounds familiar.)

The statue of Mary and Child ++Laud placed over the door of the University Church of St. Mary the Virgin in Oxford illustrates this willfulness well.

Note that Mary has a crown, reflecting the Catholic doctrine that she’s been crowned the Queen of Heaven. Even with my Anglo-Catholic tendencies, I find that over the top and can only imagine how much this offended more Protestant Anglicans of the day.

Strangely, the child Jesus has no crown or even as much as a halo. Surely, the Laudians didn’t think Mary more exalted than Christ. But, at least in this instance, they clearly were more concerned with exalting the Virgin than with exalting Him.

If a Latin scholar would inform us what the inscription above the statue means, I’d appreciate it. But I think “Domimina” means “Mother of God.” (CORRECTION: I completely misread that, largely because I was reading left to right instead of down the left page then down the right page. See the first comment.)

Now this statue isn’t from the interior of a insular catholic parish down the road, but was placed over the door of the most prominent church in Oxford, right on High Street. One could hardly be more provocative at the time. And indeed this statue played a prominent role at Laud’s trial later on.

(Not to mention the statue is just artistically in poor taste – the ultimate Anglican sin.)

Charles’ pushing a “catholic” Arminian agenda on a country and church that had many Calvinists, combined with an obsession with his own authority pushed England into Civil War and, ironically, brought about the defeat of his own religious agenda, much of which was admittedly praiseworthy. It wasn’t until the 19th Century that the Church of England became nearly as Catholic as Charles desired.

Charles and Laud’s divisive actions also provoked a great backlash that brought about the short but destructive reign of the Puritans.

And I will take them to task in due time.