Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Charlottesville Revisited

Joe Biden in beginning his campaign for President saw fit to smear President Donald Trump’s statement in the aftermath of Charlottesville. He is not the first to deceive about Charlottesville and Trump’s statement for political purposes, and he won’t be the last.  So it’s time to revisit Charlottesville.
First, Trump did not call white nationalists and the like “fine people.”  He did not, as Biden said, assign “a moral equivalence between those spreading hate and those with the courage to stand against it.”  Here is what Trump said, in context:

You had some very bad people in that group, but you also had people that were very fine people, on both sides. ... I saw the same pictures as you did. You had people in that group that were there to protest the taking down of, to them, a very, very important statue and the renaming of a park from Robert E. Lee to another name. ... So you know what, it's fine. You're changing history. You're changing culture. And you had people — and I'm not talking about the neo-Nazis and the White nationalists, because they should be condemned totally — but you had many people in that group other than neo-Nazis and White nationalists. Okay? And the press has treated them absolutely unfairly. Now, in the other group also, you had some fine people. But you also had troublemakers, and you see them come with the black outfits and with the helmets and with the baseball bats. You had a lot of bad people in the other group.
And Trump’s statement was and is accurate.  You had peaceful people who, like me frankly, are concerned about taking down history for current political motivations.  And on the other side you had peaceful people who, also like me, oppose extremist racist ideologies. (Please see my note below for more.)
At the same time, there were also violent extremists on both sides.  But all we hear about are the Neo-Nazis and the like and the man who ran down protesters and killed a woman. And we should be reminded of them.  But we rarely are reminded of the role violent Leftist groups, particularly Antifa, played that day.  But a great deal of violence came from Antifa and therefore some of the violence from the other side was in self-defense.  (Obviously, the car attack was not and should be condemned without equivocation.)
Don’t take my word for it.  Here are testimonies of eyewitnesses from various sides of Charlottesville, such as this:
University of Virginia student Isabella Ciambotti: "I was on Market Street around 11:30 a.m. when a counter-protester ripped a newspaper stand off the sidewalk and threw it at alt-right protesters. I saw another man from the white supremacist crowd being chased and beaten. People were hitting him with their signs. A much older man, also with the alt-right group, got pushed to the ground in the commotion. Someone raised a stick over his head and beat the man with it, and that's when I screamed and ran over with several other strangers to help him to his feet."
Such is par for the course for Antifa, along with using excrement as a weapon.  But we don’t hear much about that (By the way, although I remember numerous reports of Antifa violence in Charlottesville, search engines are not much help digging up those reports.  Funny that . . . in an Orwellian way.) – a double standard which enables more hate and violence as I noted shortly after Charlottesville.  Distorting history has consequences.
Sadly, the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) has enabled and even participated in distorting the history of Charlottesville. I do not think that was the intent, but it was the effect.  The Anglican Multi-Ethnic Network (AMEN) issued a Charlottesville Statement.  There was nothing really wrong in it and much to be commended.  What it omitted is the problem.  While repeatedly denouncing racism and “white supremacy,” it did not even mention Antifa or other violent Leftists or their role in Charlottesville.   And ACNA and Archbishop Foley Beach endorsed and promoted this statement.
Such partial truths are inadequate and can be used to deceive.  We in ACNA must do better.  All Christians involved in the political sphere must strive for better.
NOTE: Now one may ask how the heck can “fine people” find themselves on the same side as Neo-Nazis (and Antifa for that matter).  I will tell you how from personal experience.
Back during my college days, I joined a rally against the Greensboro shooting verdict in 1980 (or 1981, my memory of the time is fuzzy.). I saw the not guilty verdict as unjust.  But during the rally, I saw that it was really more a platform to smear Reagan and promote loony Left ideas than to protest the verdict. Eventually I had enough and walked away.
Also in my college days, I participated in Marches for Life. I noticed some, well, interesting people there.  For one thing, I was intrigued by the leaflets in the Ticked Mary genre I was handed.  But the scattered odd balls were more amusing than obnoxious.  And the main cause remained the main cause.  So I marched on.

One can certainly question the judgement of those who were not White Nationalists or the like but were there in Charlottesville to protest taking down historic statues.  But sometimes when you get involved in honorable causes, you find yourself alongside dishonorable people.

Friday, April 26, 2019

Pope Francis Withheld Benedict’s Observations from Sexual Abuse Summit

Yes, I got slack in keeping up with Papist news.  But when I finally read about this yesterday, I was floored.
I’ve mentioned Pope Emeritus Benedict’s essay on the causes of sexual abuse in the Roman Catholic Church.  It turns out he wrote it with the intention that it be distributed to the participants of the sexual abuse summit.  But instead Francis sat on it and did not distribute it!
Now some think it inappropriate for Benedict to say much of anything anymore as that undercuts the current Bishop of Rome.  (I disagree.)  Perhaps, Francis, too, just wants Benedict to be quiet now. And/or perhaps Francis did not appreciate Benedict rightly implicating liberalism and a weakening of ethics as among the causes of abuses.
Whatever Francis’ reasons, Benedict and his essay merited a hearing. What a petty pope Francis is to attempt to muffle Benedict.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Presiding Bishop Sutton Issues Letter in Response to Hicks Resignation

As noted yesterday, REC Bishop David Hicks plans to resign as the Bishop of the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic to become Rector of St. Peter’s Anglican Church, Butler in the ACNA Diocese of Pittsburgh.
Today, Presiding Bishop Ray Sutton issued a letter addressing this change.  As you may have surmised from my bare bones post yesterday, Hicks’ resignation may prompt some to raise questions concerning Hicks’ and the REC’s commitment on the issue of Holy Orders.  Sutton addresses that head on:
For any concerned on the matter of Holy Orders, however, it may help to know that although the Diocese of Pittsburgh (ACNA) allows for the ordination of women to the diaconate and presbyterate, there are also parishes in the diocese that do not share this belief and practice. St. Peter’s Anglican Church (Butler) is one of those congregations. The Reformed Episcopal Church in all of its dioceses, however, is resolute and clear on its understanding of the Holy Scriptures and the practice of the historic Church as articulated in our Constitution and Canons: only males serve in the three offices of this church (Deacon, Priest and Bishop). Please know that our bishops and clergy continue to pledge our fidelity to and remain unwavering in our convictions to uphold these ancient standards!
And with Hicks remaining an REC bishop until July 31st, that apparently includes him, a conclusion confirmed by private communications.
One may still ask if being opposed to WO in a diocese and under a bishop that supports WO is a tenable position.  Good cases can be made for yea or nay on that question. But I see no reason to think the Diocese of Pittsburgh will be ungracious in that regard.  And even in the unlikely event it becomes so, ACNA parishes are not captives as in The Episcopal Church.
More could be said, but I will leave the subject for now.
Sutton’s letter addresses much more concerning this change. I recommend reading it all.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Bishop David Hicks to Resign, Leave REC to Lead ACNA Diocese of Pittsburgh Parish

In an Easter Monday letter to the Diocese of the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic (DNMA) of the Reformed Episcopal Church (REC), Bishop David Hicks announced that he will resign as Bishop of said diocese on July 31st to become Rector of St. Peter’s Anglican Church of Butler, PA the next day.  That parish is in the ACNA Diocese of Pittsburgh. 
Hicks had served as Chair of the Task Force on Holy Orders, which examined the issue of the ordination of women in ACNA.  At that time, he was (and is) an REC bishop.  The REC does not ordain women to Holy Orders.  The Diocese of Pittsburgh does ordain women.
The letter further states that REC Presiding Bishop Ray Sutton “will be leading the Diocese [DNMA] in the search for a new bishop….”
Do read the letter for yourself.

Monday, April 22, 2019

J. D. Greear Digs Deeper on Charging $5 for Good Friday “Worship”

President of the Southern Baptist Convention and Pastor of Summit Church J. D. Greear has tried to explain his church charging $5 for “Good Friday Worship” with the church choir.  And “tried” is the operative word.  He tweeted:
For sure limited space. & bc this is a choir concert not a worship service, choir has traditionally sold tickets. But every year they pick a mission project to give 100% of proceeds to—usually one of our community ministry partners. This year it is to send singers to SBC.
But church publicity clearly called it “Good Friday Worship.”  And is sending your choir to the Southern Baptist Convention a “mission project”?
Would it have killed Greear to say instead, “We had logistical issues to consider with this worship concert and did not handle them in the best way.  As Pastor, I take responsibility and apologize”?  Confession is a good thing, you know.
It is certainly much better than such a lame explanation.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Going to J. D. Greear’s Good Friday Service Cost $5

Passing the plate during a service is one thing, but charging admission just to attend worship?
That is exactly what J. D. Greear’s Summit Church did for Good Friday . . . for Good Friday.  They charged five dollars for admission to their “Good Friday Worship with the All-Campus Choir.”  It says right on their site: “Tickets are $5 each.”
Charging admission to attend worship.  I am at a loss for words.  It’s not exactly simony, I guess. . . .  It’s worse.
This is who the Southern Baptist Convention has as their President.  Lord have mercy upon them.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

A Timely Good Friday Exhortation from Keble

Once again, a Holy Week has found me reading John Keble’s Good Friday sermon, “The World’s Conduct to the Man of Sorrows.”  This time a passage stood out to me as an almost prophetic admonition for us today (Emphasis his.):
One very common and very dangerous trial is when notions and practices forbidden by God’s law and His Church are become customary under whatever pretense. . . . These things are now become so common that I suppose it must require Christian courage, something like taking up the Cross, in any one who resolutely sets himself against them on true Church principles.  Surely, then, this is a time in which we ought to be much on our guard as to how much we join in the disrespect and scorn with which the world is sure to treat every opinion or person which it calls bigoted.  If there be such a thing as Christian truth and a Christian Church, surely they are to be upheld, and we must cling to them in spite of any loss or credit, ease or purpose. 
This is more applicable now than when it was preached.  Today, standing firm on orthodoxy and against falsehood will get one called a bigot and for many it does risk loss in many forms.  But we faithful are to do so anyway.  
And, yes, that includes opposing the various falsehoods, pollutions of the gospel, and false gospels pushed on the church and in the church by “social justice” cabals.  That is part of carrying our cross.  At least that is part of carrying my cross.
And there are many Christians and faux Christians who are joining the world “in the disrespect and scorn” against those courageous faithful who are standing on orthodoxy and against “social justice” errors and falsehoods.  These scorners should stop and repent for their own good and for the good of the church and of the Gospel.
Yes, Keble’s admonition is certainly applicable to us in the Anglican Church in North America.
My God grant us all grace and strength to take up our cross and follow Jesus.

The Queen’s Maundy

Just a brief note that I am once again glad to see The Queen looking glorious and handing out the Queen’s Maundy.
Long may she reign!

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

European Churches: Vandalized, Defecated On, and Torched "Every Day"

After the awful fire at Notre Dame, some attention is being brought to the epidemic of attacks on churches in France and elsewhere in Europe.  But I’m sure that has nothing to do with all the lovely peaceful Muslim “refugees” that have entered Europe in recent years. . . .
Oh. . .

Who is primarily behind these ongoing and increasing attacks on churches in Europe? The same German report offers a hint: "Crosses are broken, altars smashed, Bibles set on fire, baptismal fonts overturned, and the church doors smeared with Islamic expressions like 'Allahu Akbar.'"
Another German report from November 11, 2017 noted that in the Alps and Bavaria alone, around 200 churches were attacked and many crosses broken: "Police are currently dealing with church desecrations again and again. The perpetrators are often youthful rioters with a migration background." Elsewhere they are described as "young Islamists."
Sometimes, sadly, in European regions with large Muslim populations, there seems to be a concomitant rise in attacks on churches and Christian symbols. Before Christmas 2016, in the North Rhine-Westphalia region of Germany, where more than a million Muslims reside, some 50 public Christian statues(including those of Jesus) were beheaded and crucifixes broken.
In 2016, following the arrival in Germany of another million mostly Muslim migrants, a local newspaper reported that in the town of Dülmen, "'not a day goes by' without attacks on religious statues in the town of less than 50,000 people, and the immediate surrounding area."
And there is more, sadly.  But we are not allowed to talk about such things, are we.

The above begs the question whether the fire at Notre Dame is part of this pattern of attacks on churches.  I say not for one reason – no Islamist group has claimed to have perpetrated this.  However, if a clear and plausible cause of the fire does not come out soon, that would not be a good indication.
On a much happier note, the rose windows have survived.  As awful as the fire was, I am surprised the damage to the cathedral and its treasures is not much worse.

Friday, April 12, 2019

Thoughts on Benedict’s Essay on Abuse

I hesitate to critique the just released essay from the Pope Emeritus.  For one thing, I respect him so much I do not feel comfortable criticizing him, and, yes, there were some statements in the essay that had me scratching my head.  At the same time, the history he overviews is interesting and instructive.  Instead, I will repeat two relevant axioms I have long propounded:
1. Bad theology leads to bad morals.
Yes, there were purportedly orthodox Roman Catholic clerics who abused youth and children.  But a disproportionate amount of the abuse came from Libchurchers, from the Dioceses of Boston and of Los Angeles, from likes of “Uncle Ted” McCarrick, etc.
The Pope Emeritus is right to link the two as well, although far more tactfully than I do, of course.  By the way, I find his aside about hostility to good theology an interesting barometer of how toxic segments of the church got:
Perhaps it is worth mentioning that in not a few seminaries, students caught reading my books were considered unsuitable for the priesthood. My books were hidden away, like bad literature, and only read under the desk.
Speaking of toxic seminaries…
2. A church that doesn’t care enough to discipline doesn’t care enough about truth.
And here I must criticize Popes John Paul II and Benedict. They, good and orthodox men, controlled the papacy for over thirty years.  (Granted, John Paul had debilitating health for the last years of his pontificate.)  And, as R. R. Reno notes, large segments of the Church of Rome were in “quasi-open” rebellion to the Faith and the Pope.  Surely, 30 years was long enough to discipline and defeat those Libchurchers, or at the very least weaken them so they could not elect one of their own as Pope.
Yet not only was little effective discipline applied, liberals continued to be appointed bishops and Cardinals.  And that’s how we got Francis.  
How much modern church history do we have to ignore to not get that cohabiting with Libchurchers is not viable and only enables their predations on the church, on the Faith, and, yes, on children and youth?
[Takes breath.] But us non-papists can hardly point fingers at Rome in this regard. I cannot think of a major Protestant denomination that did not fall into the trap of being nice to Libchurchers, only to be taken over by them later.  (The jury is still out on the Southern Baptist Convention I am sad to say.  And some Anglican provinces are another messy matter.)  And Libchurchers are in their own perverse way so much better at church discipline than the orthodox. Once the orthodox lose a church, the liberals virtually shut them out, except for their contributions, of course.  
This sad history has gotten me to thinking that if one wants to go orthodox, one may now have to go small.  I hope that is too pessimistic.  But that is another post for another day.
But I cannot pound the table enough on these two axioms. As much as we may wish it weren’t so or engage in denial, they are proven by modern church history, including the Post-Vatican II Church of Rome.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

About “Getting Angry at Jesus”

There are a number of faithful who are not happy, angry even, that the current Pontiff said the following: “"Even getting angry at Jesus can be a kind of prayer. Jesus likes seeing the truth of our heart. Don't make pretense in front of Jesus."
At this point, I advise readers to sit down.  Although I have not read his whole statement, I at least in part – are you sitting down? – agree with Pope Francis on this.

Yes, I am actually agreeing with Francis on something.
Early in my Bible reading, I noticed the honesty of the Psalms. And I noticed that part of that honesty is that frustration with God was openly expressed to God Himself.
As a teenage Christian with teenage frustrations, I found this comforting.  It showed me that God could handle and even accept my frustration and anger with Him. And so if I were unhappy about something in my life and unhappy with what I perceived to be the slowness of God’s help, I would be very honest with God about that in prayer.
Now I knew it would be better not to be angry with God. But the Psalms showed me that if one is frustrated with the Lord, it is good to be honest with Him about that.  And, as in the Psalms, my anger was never “If you don’t help me, I will stop going to church” or any foot stamping like that, at least not that I can recall.  I remained very much committed to the Lord even when I wasn’t especially happy with him.
Hopefully, as one matures, anger with God becomes more rare. I know that the experience of seeing God use bad things in my life for good over and over again has pretty much cured me of anger towards him.  I cannot remember the last time I’ve been angry with God.  It’s probably been decades.  (And I do have a temper so that’s saying something.)
Nonetheless, as angry as I get with the current Bishop of Rome, I agree that being honest to God about any anger towards Him is an acceptable prayer.  I know God graciously responded to such prayer in my younger days.
Don’t be too angry with me.

Grieving for Faithful Roman Catholics

I can be a bit hard on some Roman Catholics, particularly Libchurch Roman clerics and those who tolerate them.  But something I read this morning prompts me to get a bit personal and slightly less prickly.
I grieve for those Roman Catholics who are orthodox and faithful. If you are one of them, I hurt for you, brother/sister.  
What prompts me to say this is seeing this reminder of the awful appointment of Wilton Gregory as the Archbishop of Washington.
If I were a Roman Catholic, I would feel trapped, trapped by a horrible pope who is making the episcopate in his image and who is so stacking the College of Cardinals that it makes me wonder if there will ever again be a robustly orthodox pope.  Though I’m not Roman Catholic, I grieve for what is happening to such an important part of the church and for the genuinely faithful in it.
Which brings me to Roman Catholic ecclesiology.  Orthodox RCs see themselves as a True Church and other churches as less than that even if valued.  With that viewpoint, it makes leaving the Church of Rome hardly an option.
I disagree with that viewpoint, but I respect and understand it.  For at least the first millennium of the church, splitting off was considered an awful and damnable act and for good reason – can the body of Christ be split?  (But there is the question of what if a part of the body becomes cancerous or necrotic.  But that is a subject for another time.)
Having that ecclesiology, where are faithful Roman Catholics to go if their church becomes unfaithful? I would feel very much trapped.
So I want my faithful orthodox Roman Catholic friends who are resisting the predations of Pope Francis and allies to know my heart is with you.
And so are my prayers.  Regularly, everyday that I remember to do so, I pray for struggling, faithful catholics, especially Roman Catholics. 
I hope this post does not seem trite.  I don’t know what else to say.  But I am so upset over the plight of Roman Catholic faithful, I felt I should say something and let them know I am standing with them in prayer.

Thursday, April 04, 2019

BREAKING: Pope Francis Appoints Yet Another Libchurcher as Archbishop of DC

Pope Francis continues to stack the episcopate.  This time D. C. gets yet another Libchurch Archbishop, Wilton Gregory.
Gregory is a protégé of Cardinal Bernardin, who ran cover for pro-abortion Democrats with his “seamless garment” crapola. Later, Gregory worked closely with Cardinal “Uncle Ted” McCarrick.  Accordingly, Gregory’s record is more liberal than thou. Debra Heine spells out some of the sordid details well.
With this appointment, Pope Francis demonstrates he has no shame. He is going to stack the episcopate with corrupt Libchurchers like himself come Hell or high water.

To their credit, some conservative churchpeople opposed this appointment:
Catholic Laity for Orthodox Bishops and Reform (Catholic Laity) has grave reservations about the appointment of Archbishop Wilton Gregory as Archbishop of Washington:
We urge the Holy See to seek out a worthy candidate who is without ties to Joseph Cardinal Bernardin, Mr. Theodore McCarrick, or Donald Cardinal Wuerl.  Archbishop Gregory was a protégé of Cardinal Bernardin in Chicago, where he first became an auxiliary bishop.  Cardinal Bernardin left a legacy of dilution of Catholic teaching and subversion of the fight to protect unborn babies and their mothers. 
In 2004, then-Bishop Gregory, as president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, collaborated with then-Cardinal McCarrick in deceiving the Bishops of the United States about  the contents of a letter from Cardinal Ratzinger, then-Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.  The letter said that politicians who support legal abortion should not be admitted to Holy Communion, but they did not reveal that to the other Bishops.  The Democrat candidate for President that year was a Catholic, John Kerry, who supported abortion.
Yes, faithfulness to the Democrat Party is far more important than faithfulness.
As for other Roman Catholic laity, shame on them if they do not cut off funds to that corrupt diocese immediately.  It is spineless laity that enable corrupt clerics.

MORE:  More on Wilton Gregory from George Neumayr and from Steve Skojec.  Francis sure does stack the Roman episcopate and the College of Cardinals with some real winners.