Tuesday, March 31, 2020

REC General Council Postponed to June 2021

I write to report the important decision by the General Committee to postpone the 56th General Council planned for the week of June 7, 2020. Our Constitution and Canons stipulate regarding the time and place of the meeting of a General Council: “If in the opinion of the Presiding Bishop there be sufficient reason to change the time or place . . . this may be done by him with the consent in writing of two-thirds of the General Committee” (Article VII, Sec. 2). On March 26, with the unanimous support of the Council of Bishops, I made recommendation to a called meeting of the General Committee, that our General Council be rescheduled for June, 2021, at the same location in Charleston, South Carolina. The General Committee unanimously approved my recommendation. 
The rest of his letter with more factors behind this decision may be found at the REC site.

Monday, March 30, 2020

In Praise of Smokey Matt’s During Coronavirus

Yesterday, I surely heard more sermons (four) in one day than ever before.  At least, COVID is good for something!  Any number of churches are dutifully working to get the word and worship online.
Among the churches I visited, one stands out.  Yes, my favorite Anglican parish in the U. S. (other than my own) of St. Matthias Dallas, aka Smokey Matt’s.
First, their audio is the best I’ve come across. And that is important.  A frequent weakness of online worship is the sermon is hard to hear.  That was the case with two of sermons I heard yesterday.  Second, St. Matthias has services online just about everyday.  For example, they had Matins and Mass early this Monday morning even.  
And the organ they have during some services is very nice!
St. Matthias has details of what they are up to on their home page.  You can access their live streams through their Facebook page.
I’m confident all my pious readers are using this Coronavirus Lent to worship, pray, and listen more, not less.  The worship of St. Matthias Dallas certainly merits an online visit.  May the day come soon when I can visit in person once again.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Democrats Attempt to Use the Coronavirus Crisis to Steal Elections

It’s in the House Democrat bill in black and white.  Among the porcine provisions are national same-day voter registration, national ballot harvesting, and yet more mail-in ballots.
This former election judge and anyone concerned about clean elections rather than stealing elections knows same-day voter registration, ballot harvesting, and expansion of mail-in ballots all enable election fraud.
So Nancy Pelosi's Democrats are holding coronavirus relief hostage in order to make it easier for them to steal elections.  There is no way around that.
I await concern from the “social justice” crowd. 

Friday, March 20, 2020

Presiding Bishop Sutton’s Letter to the REC

After the letter from ACNA Archbishop Foley Beach, Presiding Bishop Ray Sutton has issued his own letter to the Reformed Episcopal Church.
It is one of the more balanced responses to the coronavirus situation I’ve seen.  The letter follows:

Dear Reformed Episcopal Brethren,   
Lenten greetings as the Lord provides the lessons of the Cross in the midst of great trial for the Church and for our nation!

I am writing to ask that all of our churches suspend temporarily their present way of publicly offering services of worship involving more than ten people. My strong recommendation is based on the request of Archbishop Foley Beach and the College of Bishops, which includes the Reformed Episcopal Bishops (See the archbishop’s statement below).

Considering the data and requirements of the Centers for Disease Control and the instructions of the President of the United States, we believe it is important for the Church to support in every way the mitigation of the COVID-19 pandemic to protect and save lives. As believers in Jesus Christ we are called to, “Love our neighbor.” To reduce the way we gather, that others might be helped, is the least we can do to prevent illness and the loss of life. Before this crisis is over, we need to do so much more with the love of Christ to reach our society in many other charitable ways.

At the same time our Lord commanded us to, “Love the Lord thy God.” Please do not misunderstand. I am not asking our churches to stop worshipping our Triune God. Instead, we should continue to offer the Divine Liturgy in ways that can comply with the call for minimal social contact. We are blessed to have the technology to provide worship via online means (i.e. streaming, recording, etc.). To this end for our Sunday worship, I suggest either Morning Prayer with a sermon, or a small Holy Communion/sermon service with a presbyter and attendants only. I hope as well that all of our churches are saying the Daily Office of Morning and Evening Prayer.

It has also been suggested that small missions and churches could offer multiple Eucharistic or Morning Prayer services on a Sunday to groups of ten or less. To do so would require figuring out how to divide and direct your congregation. I strongly suggest only receiving in one kind if it’s a service of Holy Communion, per my last communication’s instructions. Even with this approach, however, I caution that folks can come to these smaller services, who have unknowingly contracted the virus and spread it to others. This has already happened in other denominations. The safest approach is therefore to follow the above call for altering worship to an online venue.

Please keep in mind that in days prior to the advent of modern technology, this type of instruction had to be given in other situations of extreme duress. During World War II after the tragic bombing of Coventry Cathedral, the Church of England Bishops had to ask the people in London and other larger cities not to attend the cathedrals and city churches out of concern that the latter places of worship had become prime targets for bombing. Unfortunately, they didn’t have the technology to offer worship by electronic means. Still, the people of God said the Daily Office, in time God prevailed, and worship was restored. These kinds of difficult directives sometimes need to be given to protect life, knowing that the worship of the Church will continue other ways and eventually be restored in larger gatherings.

To comply with what our Archbishop and College of Bishops are asking in response to official directives, please know that I have suspended our own regular Sunday worship services at Church of the Holy Communion Cathedral in Dallas, Texas, until Palm Sunday. At the end of the next two weeks, we will have an opportunity to reassess the matter further. I will send out another communication as to where we go from that point. If necessary, we may have to extend our measures longer. If so, I will offer additional suggestions as to how we do might do this.

I can only add and caution that, if you and your congregation choose not to follow the CDC and Presidential directives, your vestries should consult with your chancellors and legal counsel. There could be serious legal consequences for your parish if you do not comply. God forbid, but should you not follow the instructions, members of your congregation contract COVID-19 from one another, and spread the virus to others, they might become subject to civil action. No one should want to take this chance.

In conclusion as someone has said, “Feed your faith and not your fears.” Use this time of limited quarantine to utilize the online ways of worship, to pray, to read your Bibles, to spend time with your families, and to wait in patient faith for the crisis to lift. It will eventually get better. We will get past this. The early Christians in the Roman Empire faced similar situations and ways to spread the Gospel in the midst of plague (see the following excellent article: How Early Christians Saved Lives and Spread the Gospel During Roman Plagues ). Please be assured of my prayers and attentiveness to your needs. Our God is Sovereign. He will prevail! May the Lord bless and keep you through these challenging times!
Sincerely in Christ,
The Most Rev. Dr. Ray R. Sutton, Ph.D.
Presiding Bishop

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

BREAKING: ACNA Bishops Ask for No “In-person Worship Services”

From the Archbishop of the Anglican Church in North America Foley Beach:

I write to you after meeting with our bishops this afternoon. We considered the advice given by the President of the United States' Coronavirus Team, the Centers for Disease Control, the Public Health Agency of Canada, and by governmental authorities in Canada, Mexico, and the United States strongly advising that no public gatherings of 10 or more people be held.  It is our desire to partner with our civic officials as they seek to exercise their duty to protect our communities. Therefore, the College of Bishops is asking our congregations not to hold in-person worship services or gatherings until further notice, but to offer, when possible, worship services on a virtual platform. We realize these are extreme measures that we had hoped to avoid, but for the health and welfare of everyone in our churches and communities, this is something we all must put into practice immediately.
Each diocesan bishop will communicate to his diocese regarding the specifics of how this will be applied in each local diocesan context.

My initial response is similar to when the Anglican Bishop of South Carolina shut down services. I think it a once-size-fits-all response and well meaning over-reaching.
I am well aware mine is likely a minority opinion.

I Like Enemies

One of the strengths of traditional Anglican liturgy is that it recognizes we have enemies, real enemies, and that we need God to defend us from them.  Some enemies are spiritual, namely Satan; some are internal, such as besetting temptations and anxieties; some are, yes, societal, such as the current panic; some are very impersonal, such as viruses and disasters; and, yes, some are people – there are bad people, lots of them, who would do us ill.  We are to love those people; we are not to enable them or grant them success in their evil.
Traditional liturgy reflects all this well as Laudable Practice recognizes.  For example, the Litany prays:
That it may please thee to forgive our enemies, persecutors, and slanderers, and to turn their hearts.
And also later prays:
From our enemies defend us, O Christ
Graciously look upon our afflictions.
Remember Jesus said love our enemies.  He did not say we do not have any.  Just the opposite.
Then there is this week’s collect for the Third Sunday in Lent:
A timely prayer, is it not?
Now some moderns and post-moderns and other foolish people are squeamish at the mention of actual enemies.  
I am not among the squeamish.  Instead, it both comforts me and strengthens my backbone that the Book of Common Prayer meets head on the enemies of God and of us.

We beseech thee, Almighty God, look upon the hearty desires of thy humble servants, and stretch forth the right hand of thy Majesty, to be our defence against all our enemies; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Bishop Lawrence Cancels Services for Entire Diocese of SC. UPDATED

Again, I hesitate to be critical of churches who decide to cancel services for a time.  And some, such as large churches in highly infected cities, probably should.

For example, Pusey House has with sadness shut down for a time, likely the rest of term at least.  But they have little choice given government directives and given that Oxford, a very international and mobile community, is especially vulnerable to the coronavirus. Please join me in praying for Pusey House and Oxford.
But the decision of Bishop Mark Lawrence to cancel services for at least two Sundays for the entire Anglican Diocese of South Carolina has me scratching my head.   The Carolinas have a low infection rate at this time.  Some of the parishes in the diocese are small and in small towns.  Their risk is low, and people going to those churches likely interact with each other anyway.  
Besides do not the parishes have enough wisdom to decide for themselves?
And people need the church now more than ever even if they do not see that although many do.  Comprehensively cancelling Sunday services gives the false impression that it’s all just optional.  It tells people that they do not really need us all that much.  And at least in some cases, it is a disservice to those who know their need of the comfort and strengthening of corporate Sunday worship.
Yes, I may be a bit harsh there, and I probably just angered some people.  I respect that.  But Bishop Lawrence’s decision seems overreaching at best to me.

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UPDATE:

Friday, March 13, 2020

Coronavirus Closing Overkill? UPDATED

A few months from now, I suspect a large group will look foolish, either those who cancelled everything or those who downplayed the danger of coronavirus.  Yes, maybe both will look foolish.  But I suspect the excessive cancellers will look more foolish.
Take the NCAA Basketball Tourney, popularly known as March Madness, that I was very much looking forward to.  The initial plan to carry on but with only family and necessary staff attending was wise. But to cancel it all? Family, teams, and staff interact anyway.  To cancel the tourney does not protect much more or prevent virus spread much more but it does give yet one more big hit to the economy and national morale.
Even churches are cancelling services, among whom are ACNA’s Church of the Ascension in Pittsburgh.  It is hard for me to criticize efforts to reduce the spread of coronavirus, but at times like this, people need and perceive their need of church even more.  I know that as I reduce my social interaction and experience increased stress, I need church more.  I will keep more social distance when I go this Sunday, but I want to go!  And, no, watching church on a screen won’t do.
Contrast Pope Gregory the Great’s response to a plague.  He led a procession into the teeth of it.  That may seem a bit medieval, but closing churches instead seems a bit . . . well, I will leave that to the reader.
Now I will make an exception.  Episcopal Churches and mainline Presbyterian Churches, yes, please do close for the sake of public heath both physical and spiritual.  Thank you.

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UPDATE: St. Matthias Anglican (REC) of Katy, Texas has suspended its services for this Sunday.

Thursday, March 12, 2020

BREAKING: Ascension Pittsburgh Suspends Services for Three Weeks

The Pittsburgh ACNA parish Church of the Ascension has suspended its services for three weeks due to the coronavirus situation.  More information on their site here.
Tish Harrison Warren tweeted about this earlier.

In One Kind

With the current coronavirus situation, a number of churches and jurisdictions are switching to Holy Communion in one kind, i. e. via bread only and no wine.  The Archbishops of the Church of England have strongly advised this.  Pusey House is following that advice.  ACNA Archbishop Foley Beach has mandated that for his Diocese of the South and has recommended that as an alternative for ACNA as a whole as has Presiding Bishop Ray Sutton to his Reformed Episcopal Church (REC).
In so doing, Sutton notes:
There is an old understanding in the Church, “To receive in one kind is to receive in both kinds.” That is, theologically speaking we are given to understand the Sacrament of Holy Communion remains a means of grace if received only in one kind. Either element alone conveys what Christ says of the Lord’s Supper, when He says, “This is My Body; This is My Blood.” Clearly the preferred pattern is to receive in both kinds, but the fact is that throughout the history of Christianity some believers have only been able to receive in one kind for physical, personal or medical reasons.
I do not know what my REC parish will do, but I personally am switching to one kind for a while. Now I have not studied this subject in any detail.  But I do know that Sutton is correct and that receiving in one kind is a long standing practice, the normal one in the West in medieval times.  The doctrine of transubstantiation (which I do not hold) has it that the host contains both the body and the blood. As for Real Presence guys such as myself, it would certainly be odd to say one must receive in both kinds to receive Christ.  The Anglican reformers emphasized the importance of the availability of communion in both kinds, but I think even they regarded communion in one kind as still valid.  (Those who have studied this more may feel free to correct me.)
So I think the validity of communion in one kind is good doctrine.  And it is comforting doctrine for those with compromised immune systems, for those who fear drinking alcohol, and during times of contagion.
Now those little Baptist shot cups are another matter. ;)
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By the way, I have seen online that one ACNA parish is suspending services for three weeks. I am in the process of verifying which parish.

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

A Good Time for the Litany

The title to this post begs the question: Is there ever a bad time for the Litany? And, yes, I am talking about the traditional Anglican Litany found in the 1662 Book of Common Prayer.
Its attitude of penitence and utter dependence is perfect for Lent.  My parish recites the Litany every time we do Morning or Evening Prayer during Lent.  I like singing it best.
I also like praying the Litany during times of particular difficulty, as I have done privately, and now is surely such a time.  And the traditional Litany covers just about every difficulty imaginable. 
Note that I said the traditional Litany.  Some inferior modern versions do not mention plague among other deficiencies.   Yeah, some of you moderns and post-moderns thought prayers for protection from plague were antiquated.  Well, I hope you don’t get sick.  I also hope you feel foolish and add that to your Lenten penitence.
As part of your penitence, follow the godly admonition of Laudable Practice and pray the traditional Litany:
This is a time when we need to be renewed in our dependence upon God's mercy and grace, petitioning for deliverance, seeking blessing upon our common life, beseeching "mercy upon all men", acknowledging how the disordering of our common life requires repentance.  It is not a time for cut-and-paste liturgical resources hesitant about expressing the extent of our need for God's mercy and provision. A serious time needs a serious liturgy and that liturgy is the Litany. 

Monday, March 09, 2020

“An Autobiography Ghost-written by God”

I’ve now read most of The Oxford History of Anglicanism, Volume 1, Reformation and Identity, c. 1520-1662, edited by Anthony Milton, and I cannot recommend it enough.  It is immensely scholarly with its footnotes and bibliographies already guiding my future studies.  At the same time, it is enjoyable reading with any number of occurrences and statements I do not recall seeing elsewhere.  Yes, a number of these are amusing.  Others are edifying gems.
My only caveat is that someone just now beginning their study of the history of Anglicanism would do well to read a more basic book or two first.  Once one becomes familiar with the basics, The Oxford History of Anglicanism, Volume 1is then a must read.  (I have not read subsequent volumes yet, but intend to.)
One of the gems of this book comes from Jessica Martin in discussing the use of Psalms in early Anglican prayer and devotion:
The typologies of suffering and despair, and likewise of praise and delight, are channeled through the psalms into the salvific narratives of a life narrated via Scripture but unique in its detail: an autobiography ghost-written by God.(p. 406 of the 2019 paperback version)
I’ve long noticed that the Psalms cover just about every situation and emotion in life and can greatly assist prayer as we struggle through life.  I instinctively used the Psalms that way to pray as a teenager.  Later, I wrote a book that so uses the Psalms that way.  (No, I’m not saying what book as I cannot now stand by some of the things I wrote and would write it very differently today.)  And, yes, the Psalms especially cover much of the inward life and sufferings of Christ, so much so that he recited portions on the cross.
But I confess that in my past writings on the Psalms, I did not approach the brilliance of describing the Psalms as “an autobiography ghost-written by God.”  And in the Psalms we do see the joys, struggles, and sufferings of Christ and of his people.  Meditating on the Psalms is perhaps the best way to know that God understands intimately what his people go through – what yougo through.
I can hardly recommend a better Lenten practice than meditating on the Psalms.  And, when it comes to the study of Anglican history, The Oxford History of Anglicanism, Volume 1is hard to beat as well.

Thursday, March 05, 2020

About Schumer’s Threats Against Supreme Court Justices UPDATED

This week and today is hectic for me to say the least, and I will have to be to the point, but I cannot let pass Democrat Senate Minority Leader’s Chuck Schumer’s threats against Supreme Court Justices Kavanaugh and Gorsuch.
“Now, we stand here today because behind me, inside the walls of this court, the Supreme Court is hearing arguments, as you know, for the first major abortion right cases since [Justice] Kavanaugh and [Justice] Gorsuch came to the bench. We know what’s at stake. Over the last three years, women’s reproductive rights have come under attack in a way we haven’t seen in modern history. From Louisiana, to Missouri, to Texas, Republican legislatures are waging a war on women, all women, and they’re taking away fundamental rights. I want to tell you, Gorsuch, I want to tell you, Kavanaugh, you have released the whirlwind and you will pay the price. You won’t know what hit you, if you go forward with these awful decisions.”
Chief Justice Roberts was right and accurate to call out these remarks as “threatening” and “dangerous.” Schumer directly threatened two Supreme Court Justices if they do not rule how he desires.
And this episode confirms I am right that our political differences have gone far beyond policy disputes.  The integrity of our Constitutional republic is in danger thanks to Democrats like Schumer. They don’t respect elections they don’t win.  They don’t respect the Constitution.  They don’t respect the Supreme Court when it is not their rubber stamp. They attempt a long and repeated coup against an elected President and against us who elected him.  And now Schumer, the Senate Minority Leader no less, threatens Supreme Court Justices in the streets.
For the sake of our future as a country we must punish the Democrats. Censuring Chuck Schumer would only be a start.
Yes, I know that sounds very political.  But it is much more than political.  There are times when a political party or movement is so toxic and dangerous that it must be rendered inviable for the sake of a country. That’s what happened to the British National Party.  It’s what needed to happen any number of times in the 20thCentury. And it needs to happen to the Democrat Party until it learns to respect the Constitution and the rule of law.
Trust that I intend to say more about this whether people like it or not. 

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"I should not have used the words I used yesterday. They did not come out the way I intended them to. My point was there would be political consequences for President Trump and Senate Republicans if the Supreme Court and newly confirmed justices stripped away a woman’s right to choose," Schumer said on the chamber floor.

Too little.  Too late.  I for one, do not accept said apology.  My point remains.

Wednesday, March 04, 2020

Sarum Prayers for Ember Wednesday and The Book of Common Prayer

Something I do for Lent is use my Pearson’s Sarum Missal in English and pray most of the daily Lenten collects and Prayers Over the People.  Yes, a few are too medieval in doctrine even for me, but most are excellent and very helpful in Lenten worship.  It’s not for nothing that Cranmer adopted several of these for the Book of Common Prayer.
Take today, Ember Wednesday.  The Sarum collect for today (translated from the Latin into English):
Mercifully hear our prayers, O Lord, we beseech Thee, and stretch forth the right hand of Thy majesty against all our enemies. Through etc.
I love that prayer. Yes, I’m medieval enough that I want God hearing my prayers and opposing my enemies.  The Sarum collect for the 3rdSunday in Lent is similar:
We beseech Thee, Almighty God, look upon the hearty desires of Thy humble servants, and stretch forth the right hand of Thy Majesty, to be our defence. Through etc.  
Cranmer adopted that collect for Lent 3 and was likely influenced by today’s collect when he added “against all our enemies” to the end.
The Mass concluding Prayer Over the People for today in the Sarum rite may also sound familiar:
We beseech Thee, O Lord, cast the bright beams of Thy light upon our minds, that we both perceive the things we ought to do, and also may have power rightly to fulfill the same. Though etc.
There are echoes of this collect in both the Sarum and BCP collects for St. John’s Day and Epiphany 1, both among my favorite collects.
Thomas Cranmer excised much of the Sarum Rite, including the weekday masses during Lent, from his Book of Common Prayer in order to keep it simple and of a manageable size, and for doctrinal reasons, of course. However both those interested in the history of Anglican liturgy and those who would like some extra help to pray during Lent would do well to examine the daily Lenten collects from the Sarum rite.

Friday, February 28, 2020

Silent Screams. Silent Responses.

With the end of the week upon us, I think it time to look at three responses – or lack thereof –  to the U. S. Senate failing to pass the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act thanks to all but two Democrats opposing it.  Remember that PCUCPA would have outlawed most abortions after 20 weeks.  And you have to be grossly ignorant or devoid of ethics to be okay with elective abortion after 20 weeks of gestation.   I choose the three responders, or non-responders, because they are of particular interest to ACNA Anglicans, as you shall see, and because these three claim to be for “social justice” and also pro-life.
The first is Tish Harrison Warren.  Her twitter response to President Trump speaking to the March for Life was that it was negative for the pro-life cause.  And she used the occasion to point people to Liberal/Left “pro-life” groups, including the AND Campaign.
The second is the AND Campaign.  As we have exposed, it is likely more a Democrat front group than it is pro-life.  The failure of PCUCPA gave it an opportunity to prove me somewhat wrong.  Did it?
The third is Archbishop Foley Beach’s Canon to the Ordinary in the ACNA Diocese of the South, Greg Goebel.  His twitter response to Trump’s appearance at the March for Life was . . . well, judge for yourself.

So how did these respond to the failure of PCUCPA on twitter?
Tish Warren should be cut some slack because she does not tweet frequently.  But she did tweet about the Democrat debate this week. Yet she has not mentioned the failure of PCUCPA.  So, to her, Trump speaking to the March for Life is a “set-back” worth noting, but Democrats defeating the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act apparently is not.
The oh-so “pro-life” AND Campaign?  Crickets.  
Greg Goebel? He is a very frequent tweeter.  And surely after using Trump’s appearance at the March for Life as an occasion to bash him, he would be even harder on those Democrat Senators who defeated protecting late term unborn children, so late they even experience pain.
And, let’s see, this week he tweeted about clergy self-care and losing weight, about Lent quite a lot – good, about making too much vegetable soup.  He tweeted a photo of pancakes and much, much more.  So surely he also tweeted his disgust with Democrats defeating a bill protecting the unborn after 20 weeks.
But no.  As of this writing, there is nothing this week on the failure of the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act on Goebel’s twitter feed.  Trump is the first President of the United States to personally appear at a March for Life, and Goebel’s response is ORANGE MAN BAD.  Democrats kill protections for late stage unborn, and . . . crickets.
I am no mind reader. Readers may draw their own conclusions about the priorities of these three.  But sometimes silence is louder than words.

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Pain Capable Unborn Act Vote

Last week, I noted that a Senate vote on the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act was coming. The bill would have outlawed most abortions after 20 weeks of gestation.
The vote came yesterday and was much as expected.  The bill did not gain the 60 votes necessary to overcome a filibuster. 53 voted for the bill, among whom were only two Democrats, Casey and Manchin.  44 voted for it, among whom were two Republicans, Collins and Murkowski.
Three Democrats running for President, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Amy Klobuchar, did not vote. But they did have a debate last night, and we pretty much know how they would have voted.  Yes, including Klobuchar.  She voted against a similar bill in 2018.
Otherwise, the vote was party line – the Democrats for babykilling, the Republicans against.
I am watching to see how “pro-life” “social justice” church types are responding or not responding. I have issues with the Southern Baptists’ Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) and its leader Russell Moore, but to their credit, they have denounced this failure to protect late stage unborn.
On this Ash Wednesday, keep the unborn in your prayers, and the terrible record of the U. S. in not protecting them in your penitence.

Monday, February 24, 2020

It’s St. Matthias Day . . . I think.

Normal people do not know it is St. Matthias Day.
Pious people, such as my humble self, look at a church calendar and know it is St. Matthias Day.
Liturgy geeks, of which I can be after too much wine or incense or Oxford, remember it’s a Leap Year and . . . oh boy, dating St. Matthias Day gets a bit complicated.  My calendar says it’s today, but if you want to get really serious about it, you could argue it’s tomorrow, and argue and…
A reader wrote in to ask why, in the traditional rite, the feast of St Matthias the Apostle is moved from February 24th to the following day every leap year. The answer lies in the very ancient Roman calendar, which is still part of the Church’s liturgy to this day; it is used in the calendars printed at the beginning of the Missal and Breviary, and in the Martyrology, the names of the days are still read out according to the Roman system.

In the Roman calendar, each month has three days which are called the Kalends, Nones and Ides; the first of these three is the first day of each month. In March, May, July and October, the Nones are on the 7th, and the Ides on the 15th; in all other months, they are on the 5th and 13th….
The Romans named the days of each month by counting backwards from these three points. Thus, Julius Caesar was killed on the day which we call March 15, but which they called “the Ides of March”; their name for the 14th was therefore “the day before the Ides of March.” As every Latin students knows, this system becomes difficult to keep track of because the Romans counted inclusively, not exclusively; therefore, the day we call “March 13” was called “three days before the Ides of March”, (not “two days before”), including the day itself, the day before the Ides, and the Ides themselves.
Hold on, it gets better.
When the Julian Calendar was instituted in 46 BC, establishing the regular leap day every four years, the leap day itself was added by counting “the sixth day before the Kalends of March” twice. From this, the Latin term for “leap year” is “annus bisextilis”, meaning “a year in which the sixth day (before the Kalends of March) occurs twice.” This term for leap year is still used in all the Romance languages, as in Italian “anno bisestile”, and was even adopted by the Greeks, (“disekto etos” in the modern language), even though the ancient Greeks had their own very different calendar….
When the feast of St Matthias came into the Roman Rite sometime between the 9th and 11th centuries, it was fixed to this “sixth” day before the kalends of March, which we call February 24. The precise reason for this choice is unknown, but it is surely not mere coincidence that nine other months have the feast of an Apostle or Evangelist within their last ten days, thus distributing them more or less evenly through the year. In a leap year, when there are two such days, Matthias’ vigil is kept on the first of the two, and his feast on the second.
The Apostles drew lots for this? It’s enough to give the pious a headache.
Well, I am taking the easy way out.  I am sticking to the Book of Common Prayer.  I did Morning Prayer for St. Matthias Day this morning.  So there.  
Hey, love or hate Thomas Cranmer, but the man knew how to keep it simple.
Anyway, have a blessed Feast of St. Matthias . . . or Eve of the same.

Saturday, February 22, 2020

Truro Church an Object Lesson on the Importance of Church Governance

I rarely recommend any article from the Washington Post, and I am not privy to goings on at Truro Church, but there is an interesting and apparently fair article on the resignation of Tory Baucum from Truro Church and how that church is dealing with the aftermath.
The article goes into some different viewpoints behind the causes of the resignation, and I am in no position to get into that.  But it does seem clear that Baucum was tyrannical in dealing with some or most of his staff.  The Vestry was alerted.  It, through the Senior Warden, confronted Baucum.  And, whether or not the confrontation precipitated it, Baucum resigned.
Now one could argue that Baucum should have been dealt with sooner.  No form of church governance that relies on imperfect people will be perfect.  But Baucum eventually was dealt with, and Truro Church is to be commended for that.
Not all churches can say the same.  Among the reasons are that many churches lack a local church governing body with enough independence to say no to a pastor.  Other churches lack an authority above and outside the local church to say no. Many churches lack both. Therefore many churches are ruled by the pastor, which relies too much on one man and invites abuse of power. Now there are godly men that lead their churches well with that much power in their hands.  But trusting one man too much to lead a church can and does result in shipwreck for individual Christians and for local churches.  The same could be said about putting too much power into the hands of a paid staff as I’ve seen for myself.
One of the strengths of Anglicanism in an American context is local churches have both governmental checks to keep a parish and its leader in line.  At the local level, there is the Vestry.  Above the local level, there is the Bishop.  And both have the power to say no to an errant Rector.
I know what some are thinking: “That form of governance did not save The Episcopal Church.”  And that is correct.  No form of church governance can save a church if the leaven of apostasy is not confronted and cleaned out early enough.  Good church governance structures are tools, not cure-alls.
Nonetheless, the recent events at Truro Church demonstrate Anglican church governance working well. And that includes Baucum’s erstwhile “school of peace and reconciliation.”  In that case, authority above the local parish in the form of orthodox bishops stepped in and put that down.
Now I am not saying, “Look at us Anglicans.  We govern ourselves so much better than thou” . . . although I am tempted so to do.  What I am saying is that it is important to have bodies of authority able and willing to correct and if necessary dismiss errant pastors and staff.  And those bodies must be both at the local church level and above the local church.  The recent years at Truro Church have demonstrated that well.

Friday, February 21, 2020

Important Abortion Vote Coming

Next Week, the Pain-Capable Unborn Protection Act is scheduled to come up for votes in the U. S. Senate. This will be worth watching not only because protecting the unborn is of paramount importance, but only because of the political ramifications.
Alabama Senator Doug Jones is among the Democrats not thrilled about the political ramifications. If a 2018 vote repeats itself, Democrats and two or three RINOs will filibuster the bill.  However Democrats choose to oppose the bill this time, it will put them on the record during this crucial election year as extreme supporters of legal abortion.
For the bill outlaws abortions after 20 weeks unless medically necessary.  I believe there are exceptions for rape and incest as last time.  And the bill targets abortion providers, not women seeking abortions.
I know enough biology to know that after 20 weeks, the unborn child is very much a baby; it is almost entirely a matter of growth after that.  That the child can experience pain is only part of the picture.  And women know they are pregnant weeks before that point.  There is no excuse for seeking an elective abortion after 20 weeks except in the most extreme, life-threatening circumstances. One does not have to be a pro-lifer to see that the Pain-Capable Act is the very least we should do to protect unborn children.
So in the next week or so, the country will likely get a reminder what a bunch of baby killers Democrat politicians are. It will be interesting to see if those Senators running for President, including Bernie Sanders, even show up for the vote and so expose their monstrous abortion extremism.
It will also be interesting to watch those, in and out of the church, who claim to be pro-life yet usually support Democrats.  How will “social justice” “pro-lifers” respond to this vote, before, during, and after?  I do not have expectations in that regard, and some will surely be more active than others, but it may reveal just how pro-life they really are – or are not.

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Shy Trump Voters?

(Disclaimer and TRIGGER WARNING: There is not much Anglicanism in this post but mainly political analysis that some may find unpleasant.  See my post yesterday for more explanation.)

Opinion polls have (Anglican Understatement Alert) limited usefulness this far out from an election. But a current odd phenomenon is that while most polls show Trump behind potential Democrat nominees, Democrats sure are not acting like it as one wag has noticed.
I suspect even Democrats know there is a Shy Trump Voter phenomenon about.  This, of course, is a variant of the Shy Tory phenomenon: some who vote Tory will not tell pollsters they are so doing.  Polls have thereby understated Tory support in past elections.  This has been seen in other elections as well.  When I lived in North Carolina, I noticed Jesse Helms always did better in elections than polls indicated.  
Shy right-of-center voters occur not because they are more prone to lying or dissembling or that they are ashamed of their political choices, as much as some Leftists may like so to think.  In a number of circumstances, letting it be known that one intends to vote for a right-of-center candidate invites social disapproval, even rejection, getting flack, or worse, including “cancelling”.  Yes, there are surely circumstances in which letting it be known that one intends to vote for a Lib/Left candidate invites grief, but that is far more often the case for conservative voters.  For many Leftists have a totalitarian streak that is less than tolerant toward political opponents.
In the U. S., openly supporting Trump can harm one’s career in a number of fields.  Wearing a red MAGA cap or just a red cap risks getting smacked upside the head and worse in several cities.  Besides that, some people would rather not be defamed as RACIST or the like. They might even want to keep friends and family on good terms; imagine that.  With not all Trump supporters desiring political combat on a toxic battlefield, it is to be expected that there is a significant Shy Trump Voter factor in this election and the accompanying polls.
Bret Stephens, no Trump supporter, is on to this:
…Perhaps the biggest whisper network of all: the one involving inner flashes of sympathy, frequently tipping into support at the ballot box, for President Trump.
Plenty of people are aware of this phenomenon: One recent academic study noted that so-called secret voters supported Trump over Hillary Clinton by a two-to-one (54 percent to 27 percent) margin in 2016. That statistic should be every bit as alarming to Democrats this time around, not least because it suggests that polls may be dramatically underweighting the scale of Trump's support.
Yet beyond the question of why people might want to conceal their voting preferences -- reputation management, social harmony, and so on -- it's worth asking whether the very fact that a vote for Trump was supposed to be shameful is also what made it so attractive. After all, forbidden fruit is appealing not because it is fruit, but because it is forbidden. For every voter who pulled the lever for Trump out of sympathy for his views, how many others did so out of disdain for the army of snickering moralists (at the time including me) telling them that a vote for Trump was unpardonable?
My hunch: probably enough to make the difference in the states that made the difference.
I would also guess that the number has only grown as the censorious left has become more aggressive and promiscuous in its condemnations.
Methinks his hunch and guess is correct.
By the way, I am posting this because I have long found the Shy Tory and related phenomenon interesting. I am not  posting this to encourage any complacency on the part of those inclined to vote for Trump.  Instead, as I’ve stated after the Impeachment Trial acquittal, it is important that we not merely defeat but punish Democrats in November because they have gone far beyond being mistaken on policy to opposing our Constitutional democracy itself.
Nor do I want Leftists to stop vilifying and harassing us evil racist Trump supporters.  Keep up the good “justice work”!  You are not reminding us of the importance of defeating you, not at all.
But then if by chance you are so reminding us, many of us will not let you know thanks to your righteous work.  The Shy Trump Voter is your creation, you know . . . or don’t know.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Blog Update: MOAR HISTORY! (and current events and no telling what)

I’ve long wrestled with how to handle blog posts that are pretty much unrelated to Anglicanism.  For some time, I’ve put some posts over on a sister blog, but that has not attracted much traffic.  In addition, I now have a hard time with the logistics of posting there.  The font is unreadable, videos won’t embed, and so on.
So I think it would best to bring posts back to here.  I may warn when something has little to do with Anglicanism.  Maybe I will even have trigger warnings. HA!.... 
…Actually I might. I very much oppose mandatory trigger warnings.  But giving them as a courtesy has its place.  (I hope I did not make any readers faint from shock there.)
Other than that, the main change is that there will be more posts here related to history and current events and culture.  I know there have been some readers that have wished I would stick more to Anglicanism.  I listened.  I tried.  And it just has not worked out.
Besides it is often good to broaden our horizons.  Speaking of which, I post on twitter much more often than here.  But – TRIGGER WARNING, AAAAA, AAAAAAAAA! – my twitter is often politically incorrect and never woke.  
Oh.  You already knew that?

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

What You Are Probably Not Being Told About the Boy Scouts Bankruptcy

This morning comes the sad news that the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) has filed for bankruptcy.  The “news” media will let you know they did so because of mounting lawsuits concerning sexual abuse.  But there are important factors most of the news media and the Left (But I repeat myself.) are either downplaying or hiding.
First, I will say I am no apologist for the Boy Scouts.  Although I know of men who had excellent experiences in the Scouts, I have never been in Scouting, and I disapprove of how BSA is currently run as you shall see.
Having said that, the vast majority of the suits against BSA are based on alleged abuse decades ago. From AP:
Most of the newly surfacing cases date to the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s; the organization says there were only five known abuse victims in 2018. The Boy Scouts credit the change to an array of prevention policies adopted since the mid-1980s, including mandatory criminal background checks and abuse-prevention training for all staff and volunteers, and a rule that two or more adult leaders be present during all activities.
Back then, there was a lot of ignorance in society about child abuse, its harm, and how to prevent it. BSA has since taken a number of measures to prevent it.  The same could be said about many organizations that work with children. How many of them do we wish to drive into bankruptcy?
A big reason these past abuse cases now necessitate bankruptcy is that states such as New York, Arizona, New Jersey and California have after the fact changed their statue of limitation laws to allow law suits for abuse so long ago.  I take the unpopular stand that statue of limitation laws have a good purpose.  Memories weaken after so many years.  And, yes, there are false memories.  It is harder to defend oneself against allegations of acts long ago.  And, especially in the area of sexual abuse, false allegations are frequent; greatly lengthening or eliminating statues of limitation enable false allegations. 
In addition, it is unprincipled, to say the very least, to change the law, then allow criminal prosecution or lawsuits based on allegations of acts before the law was changed.   Such are ex post facto laws rightly forbidden by the Constitution.  But who cares about the Constitution or the Rule of Law any more?  (Yes, yes, I know lawyers will argue that changing statues of limitations, then suing on the basis of that is not ex post facto law. Guess what I think of such lawyers and the hacks in black and unprincipled legislators that enable them.)
Having said that, it is gross negligence that BSA allowed some abusers to return to Boy Scouts. Again, there was a lot of ignorance about child abuse and abusers back then, but that is inexcusable.
But past child abuse is not the only reason behind the BSA bankruptcy.  AP is typical in hiding as much as it reports:
The Boy Scouts’ finances have been strained in recent years by declining membership and sex-abuse settlements.
The number of youths taking part in scouting has dropped below 2 million, down from more than 4 million in peak years of the 1970s. The organization has tried to counter the decline by admitting girls, but its membership rolls took a big hit Jan. 1 when The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — for decades a major sponsor of Boy Scout units — cut ties and withdrew more than 400,000 scouts in favor of programs of its own.
What AP does not tell you is that admitting girls has harmed membership.  Boys and young men desire male spaces as they aspire to and grow into manhood. Taking that away drives many of them away.  AP also does not tell you that the 2015 decision to allow gay scout leaders alienated many families involved in scouting, families that tend to be more traditional than average. These changes and subsequent membership declines in the past decade have made it that much more difficult for BSA to deal financially with the lawsuits.
Once again we see the phenomenon of “Go Woke; Go Broke.”
All this is not to downplay the difficulties men have gone through due to past abuse.  This is to say the bankruptcy of the Boy Scouts of America is not as simple as you are being told.  Unprincipled changes in the law and politically correct changes the Left pressured BSA to make have significantly contributed.
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P. S.  Obama once said that “nobody should be barred” from Scouting.  But now Leftists cheer as the Boy Scouts are sued into bankruptcy precisely because people were not barred from Scouting.  Make up your minds, Leftists.  Or was destroying Boy Scouts your plan all along?

Friday, February 14, 2020

The Roger Stone Controversy and MOAR Impeachment Speaks Volumes

The controversy about the sentencing of Roger Stone combines four subjects that can get me to rant and foam at the mouth: prosecutorial misconduct, two-tiered justice, corrupt Democrat hacks-in-black judges, and the perpetual coup against Trump and Constitutional democracy.
Now although my having a prolonged wall-eyed fit may be entertaining, it might not be edifying. So instead I point you to two videos from yesterday that summarize this situation very well.  The first is from Tim Pool (who is not a Trump voter by the way) on Democrats using the controversy as a pretext to continue their coup against Trump.
The second is Tucker Carlson summarizing the facts of the Roger Stone case, including the first excessive sentence request and the jury foreman being a rabid Trump hater who apparently lied to get on the jury.
Again, there is so much I could rant, I mean, say.  But I will confine myself to the reaction of Democrats.
Democrats are oh-so for “justice” and against “fascism.”  So one would think they would speak out against prosecutors attempting to create a political prisoner through excessive sentencing.  One would think they would be upset by a jury being rigged by being led by a rabid political opponent of the defendant.
But, no.  Instead, when they see Trump speaking out against this outrage and Attorney General Bill Barr trying to undo some of the damage the four prosecutors have done, Democrats immediately use that as a pretext to open the door to impeaching Trump again and to impeach Barr.
All this illustrates once again how Democrats cannot be trusted with Constitutional democracy and justice.  They apparently have no problem with turning political opponents into political prisoners.  They certainly have no problem with two-tiered justice rigged for them and against political opponents.  And they so disrespect elections they don’t win, especially the 2016 election, that they are still continuing the perpetual coup against Trump, this time because he did a horrible thing: he opposed a kangaroo court turning Roger Stone into a political prisoner.
And the reaction from some in the church speaks volumes as well.  Some leaders in the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), in the Southern Baptist Convention, and in The Evangelical Church of What’s Happening Now smear Trump and smear his supporters, especially his supporters within the church.  But does this “social justice” crowd say a peep about the injustice against Roger Stone?  Do they say a word about Democrats’ perpetual coup against Trump and disrespect for Constitutional democracy unless they win?  If so, they sure are awful quiet about it.
Maybe some of this “social justice” “evangelical” crowd is more Leftist than they are Christian.