Friday, April 28, 2006

A Gracious Separation Proposed for the Episcopal Church

I’ve long said that the best possible way to proceed for denominations like PCUSA and ECUSA deeply split between orthodox and liberals may be what has been called “a gracious separation.”

A gracious separation recognizes a split between “two religions” already exists and that the best resolution is to split the church structures accordingly with a minimum of recriminations. Then both sides can focus on their missions without expending time and energy fighting each other to the death . . . or until death . . . which about the same thing.

(Of course, many will instead be forced to get off the fence. But that may be a good thing, too.)

Jack+ Estes has proposed such a split in the Episcopal Church and is recommending a resolution for the General Convention.

I have a busy day on tap, so for now I’ll echo Chris Johnson and say it’s a sensible resolution . . . and therefore doesn’t have a snowball’s chance.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

More on Open Letter to Lord Carey

Here are interesting interviews from Australia on the aforementioned open letter to Lord Carey asking him to shut up be a nice Anglican.

Some items of note:

The letter originated in Australia. And a number of Australian signers are listed at the end. As a fan of Oz, I’m disappointed.

Both one of the protagonists and Lord Carey note that ++Carey was invited by Virginia Bishop Lee to confirm candidates unhappy with +Lee’s leadership. (I had forgotten that, myself.) So how is that in any way undermining +Lee’s or ++Rowan’s authority? I would think Lord Carey’s invited intervention helps keep those confirmed and their families to stay in the Anglican Communion.

Seeing the confirmation was a major complaint of the letter brings out the baseless nature of said letter.

I’m conserving my energy (which seems to be doing better), so I’ll refrain from further snarkiness.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Prayer Requests

I have two prayer requests of my kind readers.

First, I am considering how to pursue my education. I may make a decision this week. Prayers for guidance would be appreciated.

Second, and of lesser importance, I’m having some energy issues lately. No, not gas prices. MY energy. My lack of energy isn’t severe, but it is an issue. Maybe I’m just getting old. Bleh. In any case, although there is much I would like to post about, due to my personal energy shortage, this may be all I post today.

Monday, April 24, 2006

”Lovely parish you have there. Hate to see anything happen to it.”

If you think the Bishop of North Carolina’s campaign of subtle (or not-so-subtle?) intimidation and legal maneuvers against parishes who might leave the Episcopal Church is an isolated case from a particularly noxious bishop, think again.

ECUSA didn’t start a slush fund for property grabbing to keep parish properties for nothing, ya know.

All your parish are belong to us.

Friday, April 21, 2006

A Heartwarming Easter Letter from the Bishop of North Carolina

This just warms the cockles of my heart. I wish I had heart smilies to sprinkle around. The ECUSA Bishop of North Carolina, Michael Curry, send out a letter to his parishes right before Easter. Did he talk about Jesus’ sacrifice for us or about His victory over death? Or about preparations for Holy Week?

Uh, apparently not. . . .

The Bishop of North Carolina

April 4, 2006

My Brothers and Sisters:

As all of you are aware, the Constitution and Canons of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America (PECUSA) and the Diocese of North Carolina provide that “all real and personal property held by or for benefit of any parish, mission, or congregation is held in trust for PECUSA and the Diocese of North Carolina.”

Ordinarily an interest in real estate is indicated by the recordation of a document of some sort in the public records of the county in which the real estate is located. Examples of such recorded documents would include deeds, deeds of trust, easements, restrictive covenants, etc. Although many recorded legal documents concerning real property owned or used by Episcopal congregations in the Diocese contain a reference to the interests of PECUSA and the Diocese of North Carolina, we believe that the interests of PECUSA and the Diocese of North Carolina in such real estate are not adequately reflected in all counties in which Episcopal property is located. We believe that providing a public record notice of interest of PECUSA and the Diocese in such real estate will be consistent with the applicable Constitution and Canons of PECUSA and our diocese and simplify future real estate transactions.

In that regard, after consultation with the Standing Committee and the Chancellor of the Diocese, I asked the Trustees of the Diocese to request the Chancellor to prepare for signature and subsequent filing in all of the counties of the Diocese in which there are Diocesan parishes and/or missions, a “Declaration of Interest”. This would put on public record a statement of the interest of the Diocese and PECUSA in real and tangible personal property that is owned by or on behalf of parishes and missions within the Diocese. At their last meeting the Trustees of the Diocese approved a motion to do the above.

This in no way changes any ownership currently held by a parish or mission. It only places on the public records, where it might not already be, a reference to what has been in the Constitution and Canons and has governed us for a long time.

As we begin the solemn days of Holy Week may the blessing of our Crucified, Risen and Living Lord uphold, guide and direct us in our witness to the Good News of Jesus. As ever, I remain,

Your brother in Christ,

In other words: All your parish are belong to us. And, oh, Happy Easter.

As one of the astute commenters here noted, it’s not exactly a good reflection on the bishop that he used the last days of Lent to engage in a property grab. But the timing may be all too good if the intent is to intimidate parishes that are thinking about leaving ECUSA.

And as commentary here indicates, he may be lying through his teeth mistaken when he says his action doesn’t change any parish’s rights.

In any case, this letter speaks volumes about the priorities of the Bishop of North Carolina.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Interesting background of Gospel of Judas

Here’s some very interesting historical background on the Gospel of Judas.

I’ve said elsewhere that the main lesson from the Gospel of Judas is that heretics are nothing new. Although I have to admit they were a bit more colorful back then.

Hat tip to titusonenine.

(The links aren't working well as I post this. But that should be temporary.)

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

The world will end on May 26th, and it’s all George Bush’s fault.

I’m serious. Because the President’s Iran policy is affecting “the realms of higher intelligences,” a comet will hit the Earth on May 26th.

Oh well, we don’t need to worry about General Convention anymore.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

++Rowan sycophants tell ++Carey to shut up and go away.

As Chris Johnson notes, an open letter is going out in the Church of England asking the former Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey to go drink some tea, be a nice Anglican, and not “undermine” ++Rowan Williams.

The writers of the letter seem to particularly hold a U. S. confirmation service against Lord Carey in which he confirmed 300 who didn’t want to be confirmed by an unfaithful bishop. But ++Rowan has only himself to blame for such interventions. If he had actually heeded the council of the other Primates and actually done something to meet the needs of distressed North American Anglican orthodox “as a matter of urgency,” then outside interventions would have been much less necessary.

This makes the part of the letter urging Carey to stop “undermining the work of your successor” particularly ironic. In this area, ++Rowan’s “work” is close to invisible . . . unless you call the sham Panel of Reference “work.” God bless Lord Carey for actually doing something, unlike ++Rowan.

Some have also been upset that Carey said he was “ashamed to be an Anglican” after the Church of England with ++Rowan’s support passed anti-Semitic resolutions, including a review of investments in Caterpillar because their bulldozers have been used against Palestinian buildings.

Well, that was a shameful episode. Again, blame and shame on ++Rowan for going along with that. And good on Lord Carey for speaking out.

For Lord Carey to do nothing and be silent in such situations would be cowardice, not courtesy.

Carey’s response to the open letter? “I am fully supportive of the Archbishop of Canterbury. The authors of the open letter seem intent on creating division where there is none.”

He’s a more diplomatic man than I.

Monday, April 17, 2006

The Road to Emmaus (The Gospel Lesson for Easter Monday)

Yesterday during Youth Sunday School, I cheated and taught the Gospel Lesson for Easter Monday instead of one of the lessons for Easter itself. For today’s lesson, Luke 24:13-35, is my favorite episode about the risen Christ.

It’s fun to hear of the two disciples’ confusion and, yes, cluelessness really and of Jesus’s playfulness with them, if I may use that word. But more than that, the teachings of this passage are so basic to experiencing the joy of Easter. For example, the disciples did not know that Jesus was right there for them, even though He was indeed risen and right there! And aren’t we that way? If we only knew how much Jesus is there for us.

And then there’s Jesus taking the time to teach them the scriptures on the road. You know, there were only 40 days between His resurrection and His ascension. Yet he took an afternoon to teach these two men the scriptures concerning Himself. That we learn the scriptures is quite a priority in Christ’s eyes!

So don’t neglect digging into the scriptures yourself. Luke 24:13-35 would certainly not be a bad place to do so today.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

The Archbishop of Canterbury’s Easter Sermon

I hope all my kind readers have had an excellent Easter. I have. I particularly enjoyed teaching some intelligent youths during Sunday School about the road to Emmaus and doing reading duties for the services and visiting with friends.

It does have me quite tired now. But I want to draw your attention to the Archbishop of Canterbury’s excellent Easter sermon. You may have read he gave the Da Vinci Code and the hysteria over the Gospel of Judas a much deserved vivisection. But his sermon encompasses more, much more. I am very impressed and commend it to you.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Maundy Thursday -- John 17:24

As I mentioned yesterday, the Daily Office lessons from the Passion of St. John are really getting a hold on me this week.

I’m struck by how Jesus, with his sufferings already beginning, thinks so much about his disciples and, yes, about us. In this morning’s lesson, John 17:24 stood out to me:

Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory . . . (ESV)

And isn’t that why He went through the Passion? That we might be with Him?

He wants us to be with Him that much. Has the world ever seen such love before or since?

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

The Passion of St. John

The chief lessons for Morning and Evening Prayer this week (in my REC BCP as well as in the 1928 BCP) are from the Passion of St. John. Jesus’s words to his disciples in chapters 14 to 17 especially mean a lot to me.

I’ve read Jesus’s words in these chapters many times before, of course. But to read them during Holy Week (And this is the first time I can remember doing so) impacts me that much more.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Mike Watson’s Analysis of Special Commission Report

I’ve posted that I’m unimpressed with the ECUSA Special Commission Report. Mike Watson has posted a brief analysis of key provisions that sum up well some of my biggest problems with it, which include:

1. The “considerable caution” language pertaining to consecrating bishops. That’s just meaningless fudge wide enough to drive a used cathedral through. There’s nothing to stop ECUSA from consecrating a polygamous space alien (from San Francisco no doubt) as bishop, then insisting, “We used considerable caution in doing so.”

2. The clauses concerning public rites of blessing same sex unions imply that private blessings of same sex unions are just fine. *wink, wink* More about this here.

Also, the report states that they didn’t reeeealy authorize blessings of same-sex unions at General Convention ’03, which is just laughable.

I’m trying to be nice for Holy Week. So I better stop right there.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

A Bittersweet Palm Sunday Holy Communion

This morning’s Holy Communion service at my parish brought out the bittersweet, even ironic nature of Palm Sunday.

The part of the service that struck me the most was walking up to receive the sacrament. At the beginning of the service, palms were laid by the altar rail by a procession of children. As I walked past those palms to take my place at the rail, I reflected that palm branches were still strewn about the road to Jerusalem 2000 years ago when Christ had the Last Supper and the first Eucharist with the disciples -- and when the king the palms acclaimed was crucified.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

ECUSA Special Commission Report is out . . . and it’s not very special.

As you may have noticed, the Special Commission Report is out. And I have to admit, I gave the House of Bishops too much credit. To call the report fudge is charitable. I think I have been proven mistaken in calling its steps toward the Windsor Report significant.

I may comment more here in due time, but for now I think I’ll comment on the titusonenine threads.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Pseudogospels and Hype

Well what do you know. Another pseudogospel, namely the Gospel of Judas, has been dug up from the ancient circular file and is now being flogged by tendentious media hype.

Look, I find noncanonical writings interesting. Heck, I own the two volume Old Testament Pseudepigrapha by Dr. James Charlesworth (a prof of mine during my Duke days, by the way) . . . and I’ve actually read some of it! And such writings give interesting insight into the religious isms and spasms of their day.

But to flog the Gospel of Judas and such as undermining the validity and historicity of scripture or somehow revealing some new truth about Jesus is bunk. All the Gospel of Judas reveals is that every age has its dissidents and revisionists . . . which isn’t much of a revelation.

And as The Pontificator points out, it also reveals how gullible people are.

I can hardly wait until the DaVinci Code movie comes out.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

The Bishop of Central Florida’s Take on the HOB Meeting

The Bishop of Central Florida, +John Howe, has written his diocese on the recommendations of the recent ECUSA House of Bishops’ meeting. And it is probably the most balanced take on the meeting I’ve seen.

In short, he writes that the meeting’s recommendations for General Convention “reach about as far in the direction of Windsor as this Church can possibly reach.

“Unfortunately (in my opinion) not far enough.”

And I think he is correct on both counts. I think some are not giving the House of Bishops enough credit. The steps they are taking to get closer to complying with the Windsor Report are surprising and significant. (Yes. I just defended the HOB, and Hell isn’t freezing over last I’ve heard.)

But they indeed haven’t gone far enough. The pledge to approach episcopal consecrations with caution especially is inadequate and will likely be seen as such by most bishops in the Anglican Communion.

Bishop Swing of California has already demonstrated this inadequacy all too well:

"They're not saying, 'Don't do it.' I was waiting for them to say that," said Swing, who attended a briefing on the report last month.

Swing will retire this year, and three of the seven candidates nominated to replace him leading the diocese are gay.

"We're always seriously cautious; it doesn't say a whole lot more than that," Swing said Monday.

And, as reported by +Howe, the bishops acted like kids looking for loopholes in parental instructions:

Immediately, the questions of some of our bishops were: “And would it be possible for us to exercise ‘extreme caution’ and still confirm the election of a sexually active gay bishop?” “Surely you are not FORBIDDING the confirmation of a sexually active gay bishop, are you?” etc.

And, indeed, there is no prohibition, no moratorium. It is very doubtful the rest of the Communion will find that acceptable, especially given ECUSA’s track record of interpreting just about anything just about any way it pleases.

But even if most of the Communion does accept this, would this “cautious” bridge of fudge keep things together much beyond Lambeth ’08? I doubt it.

In any case, I think +Howe’s thoughts are balanced and on target. I commend his letter to you.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Erratic Moving UFOs Explained.

Astronomers have found an alcohol cloud in deep space that’s, oh, about 288 billion miles across. Now it’s methyl alcohol or methanol.

Methanol, an organic (carbon-based) molecule, is a cousin of ethanol, which is found in alcoholic beverages. Methanol is not suitable for human consumption.

As for boozer space aliens, however . . .

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

A uberliberal rebellion?

The more liberal than thou crowd in the Episcopal Church has been rather quiet since the House of Bishops’ shift and/or slowdown to try to at least partly go along with the Windsor Report. But that quiet won’t last long.

Chris Johnson thinks there might even be a liberal rebellion coming that will make the conservative one look tame. We’ll see. But know that things are about to get messy and quite loud in the Episcopal Church. Yes, not very Episopalian.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Congrats to Florida

A very enjoyable NCAA Basketball Tournament came to a fitting end with Florida’s victory tonight. They play a brand of basketball I like: clean, emotional, hard working, and downright spectacular. Noah and the rest play with passion and class. Kudos to them.

And kudos to George Mason for their great run!

Saturday, April 01, 2006

The “News” from the Diocese of Saskatchewan

You absolutely, positively must read The News from the Diocese of Saskatchewan TODAY!