Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Chris Christie goes yard on Obama: “What the hell are we paying you for?”

After the failure of the Super Committee, I was amazed at the gall of Obama to run to a podium, wage brazen class warfare, and blame Republicans. By his own admission, he hardly lifted a finger to move the Democrats on the Super Committee to negotiate in good faith. Instead, he jetted to Australia when he took a break from campaigning at taxpayer expense. But it’s all Republicans’ fault that the Super Committee failed. And the evil rich are to blame, too, somehow.

Frankly, I think Obama wanted the Super Committee to fail to make Congress look bad and to make him look above it all. Sen. Pat Toomey, who tried mightily to make the Super Committee work, has suggested as much.

Thank God there is a public official with the gut (and a large one at that) to say The One has no clothes, that Obama is willfully not doing his job. I present to you Gov. Chris Christie who rightly asks, “What the hell are we paying you for? . . . What have you been doing exactly?”

Monday, November 28, 2011

A Psalm for Advent

During my recent sojourn in England, God blessed me with a frequent sense of his presence. Receiving communion at Pusey House most mornings was an important part of that blessing.

Psalm 46 was important to me as well in that regard, coming to mind time and time again. God showed himself to me to be not only “a very present help in trouble”, but also very present at all times.

As I’ve read and reread this psalm, for the first time I’ve noticed how appropriate it is for Advent. (Yes, I can be slow, but hey . . .) The presence of God with men is certainly a vital theme of Advent and then the Christmas season.

But what I had not noticed before is how Psalm 46 is almost a prophesy of the end times and of Christ’s Second Advent. The earth changing, melting even as God raises his voice; mountains slipping into the sea as the earth quakes – that sounds like end times. Nations making an uproar and God putting them in their place as “he makes wars to cease” in all the earth; then God is exalted in all the earth and is “with us,” even in our midst. All this reflects his glorious Second Advent.

Note there is no promise of “the Rapture” here, that his people escape all tribulation, but instead the assurance of God being a “very present help” and refuge to his people in the midst of tribulations now and future. And he will bring us to that “river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy dwelling places of the Most High.”

Again, Psalm 46 was very helpful to me in experiencing God’s presence in England and is a timely reminder of the same during Advent.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

About the St. Paul’s Occupy Protest

I am confident most of my readers already know that most of those camping out in front of St. Paul’s Cathedral are, well, lowlife and should be cleared out asap. But for those who still think that the occupiers and their protest are noble, I have two words and a link.

Yeaaah, riiight.

Maybe I should say more than two words. Sure, some people joined the protest out of noble if misguided intent. But a few weeks of the scummy conduct of the camp at St. Paul’s (as well as a number of other places around the West) should convince anyone who can think for themselves that there are better ways to make one’s voice heard.

I, too, in my younger days joined a certain protest out of noble intent. But when the ignoble nature of the protest became evident, I left.

Those who remain at St. Paul’s are an ignoble lot, to put it mildly, and should be cleared out.

Monday, November 21, 2011

500 pounds and the bishops

Back in my Duke days, there was a rally against President Reagan’s proposed cuts to student aid. (Yes, I am that old.) The promoters of said rally tried to motivate us students by saying that 62% of us received some form of federal student aid.

That number resonated with me, but not in the way promoters intended. I took the podium (not long after Duke President Terry Stanford said his piece against the cuts) and said that most of us Duke students were pretty well off and that if 62% of us were getting federal student aid, then that was too much.

That not only put a damper on the rally, it made the local TV news.

The reason I mention this episode is that I think certain Church of England bishops have just made the same mistake the rally promoters did. They have used a number to push their agenda when the same number really cries out against it. The said bishops, including ones I respect, have taken a public stand against a proposal to cap welfare to 500 pounds a week per family. In doing so, the bishops have joined others in much “What about the children?” handwringing.

But my reaction is 500 pounds a week is not chump change and to cap welfare benefits at that point is exceedingly reasonable. Now maybe I’m a hard-hearted meanie, but I doubt it. And I bet I am not the only one who thinks the bishops in error. At the very least, Cranmer also and his commenters are looking askance at 500 pounds a week.

I suspect the bishops by trying too hard to be sensitive and in touch are only proving to many that they are the opposite.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Schori and the Abuser . . . and the quiet

I’ve been preoccupied with studies of medieval church history and of ale in England. But I’ve watched from afar the scandal of --Schori’s enabling of an abuser of minors during her tenure as Bishop of Nevada. What I have found most remarkable about the story is that her tenure as Presiding “Bishop” appears to be in little danger despite the revelations. The quiet is deafening.

Now, I am not the one to go to for the details on this story. As is often the case, the Anglican Curmudgeon is carrying out the thankless, curmudgeonly task of laying out the facts. His conclusion?

… it is now undisputed that Bishop Jefferts Schori learned early on, from Bede Parry's own former Abbot, that he was a multiple-count abuser who could not continue to function as a Catholic priest (or monk) because he had "a proclivity to reoffend with minors." And she learned of this fact before she decided to receive him into her Diocese as an Episcopal priest.

Further, he (still somehow an Episcopalian) calls for her to be inhibited.

But I would be surprised if that ever happens although it most certainly should. And where is the outrage about that? Again, the quiet is remarkable.

I theorize several causes of the quiet, when there should be shouting:

1. The utter disciplinary and moral bankruptcy of The Episcopal Church.

2. The Episcopal Church has become so wedded to the secular zeitgeist and has so fallen into decline that it is not a fat target as, say, the Roman Catholic Church and Penn State.

3. A corollary is the “mainstream” news media would rather investigate conservatives and orthodox Christians rather than one of their own.

4. Anglican fatigue.

Some will need no explanation of #4, but perhaps I should give one anyway. There is now so much weariness of the enormities and conflicts among Anglicans, and so many have written off the Episcopal Church in particular, that few hardly care anymore, at least not enough to do much about it.

Even this Anglican blogger does not frequent the Anglican blogdom with the zeal he once did. And the last time he can remember blogging on the Episcopal Church, it was still summer and the title of the post was “YAWN”.

Thus the motivation and energy to do much about this latest outrage from The Episcopal Church is lacking on all sides . . . even from those of us who know full well it is indeed an outrage.

ADDENDUM: I was just about to post when Schori issued a statement on the Bede Parry case. It may be found here.

Given her credibility, my opinion concerning this matter remains unchanged, except to say that perhaps things are not as quiet as I think if she feels compelled to make a statement.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Remembrance Day Disturbance at Westminster Abbey

I’ve had an excellent Remembrance Day in Westminster. An beautiful and solemn special service at the Abbey; a parade with what had to be thousands of veterans, many so old I wondered how they could march the whole route; an hour of change-ringing from the Abbey against a bright cloudless sky – all this and more made it a great day.

And I may say more about that in due time. But the end of the day was a bit too interesting.

During Evensong at Westminster Abbey, a disturbed gentleman created a disturbance in the North aisle beside the Quire. Clothed and in his right mind he was most definitely not.

Now, I did not eyewitness the incident though I most definitely heard it as he was shouting and rattling around. I did hear after the service that he stripped during his episode. I did not bother to ask if he wore boxers or starkers.

The episode began shortly before or during the First Lesson. It ended during or shortly after the Second Lesson. The vergers were concerned enough that they closed the quire screen for a time. But the service did not stop.

The choir carried on admirably. One chorister was in tears for a moment, but he, too, carried on. Good on him! I am very impressed with the choir. They have been sounding great and sounded great even tonight under trying circumstances.

I cannot blame the chorister if he was frightened. It was a bit frightening. In the Quire, I could not see what was going on. At times I thought it might have been organized with more than one person involved. I was honestly considering what action to take to defend myself and others if matters escalated and someone entered the Quire itself. It was only during the sermon that we were informed it was one disturbed man.

As I've mentioned, there was a lot of rattling around during some of the disturbance. So after the service I asked a verger if any damage was done. He said no.

I did not ask and do not know just exactly how the disturbance was ended or whether law enforcement was called in. It was most certainly handled with restraint.

As if that is not enough, I attended the organ recital not long afterwards. And the organist turned out to be a very accomplished but perhaps slightly mad Russian named Ilya Kudryavtsev.

Why do I question his sanity? He played Alain’s Trois Dances. Those who have had the misfortune of hearing this piece and remembering it will understand.

But at least he kept his clothes on.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Behind Closed Doors at Christ Church

Last month, (Yes, the times I’ve had both the time and energy to post have been few.) I took a special Behind Closed Doors tour at Christ Church Oxford. In fact, we were told this was the first Closed Doors tour, and that they hoped to do this two or three times a year.

It was a great day. The highlights for me were an excellent lunch at high table in Christ Church Hall (Eating in that glorious hall has been one of my aspirations.) and the books – wonderful old books, some of which we actually got to handle.

The outstanding book in that regard was St. Augustine’s Homilies on John from Buildwas Abbey, written in 1167. That is not a typo. It is in its original binding, too.

It is a very practical book and built to last (obviously!) which is what one would expect from the Cistercians. There isn’t a lot of illumination but some nice workmanlike initials. The abbey was not overly picky about the vellum (treated calf skin) it was written on. So the numerous holes in the vellum pages were simply written around. This was a book to be used, not for some lord to show off.

But that was not all. At my request, we visited the obscure Allestree Library. Many students at Christ Church have never heard of it, and it is in a smallish room in a corner of the college. It does not stand out at all.

But all the old books in it! Not as old as 1167; I think they are all printed books. But almost all are also 17th century or older.

There was more we got to see. The Dean’s Garden, complete with chickens and Alice’s Door, was an unexpected treat.

By the way, to find out the best things happening in Oxford, you do have to be alert. I found out about this by looking at a message board in Christ Church Meadow. And I had only read or heard of Allestree Library in a worn copy of Jan Morris’ Oxford. Some of the best events and places here are hardly publicized. As I’ve heard Barry Orford of Pusey House note with his characteristic perplexity, “No one tells you about anything in this town.”

Early in term, I completely missed the old town walls at New College being duly inspected, a regular event I was well aware of, but the timing of which I had completely forgotten. It took me a while to get over my grief.