Friday, August 29, 2008

Weekly message from the American Anglican Council, August 29

Via email, the weekly message from the American Anglican Council and Bishop David Anderson, August 29 [boldface mine]:

Dearly Beloved in Christ,

This past week the GAFCON Primates Council (GPC) met for the first time and began the organizational process. Decisions about who will take the duties of the General Secretary and who will be the chairman were followed by decisions about forming a Secretariat to handle the everyday business affairs associated with the Council and setting up an Advisory Board.

It may be too early to say that the GPC is fully up and running, but they are now quickly putting in place the organizational infrastructure to provide for the role that they intend to play in the years ahead. Putting together a strong infrastructure to carry out the work of GAFCON and the related Primates is essential, and creating a sound funding base for it will also be crucial for its long term effectiveness.

Those in North America were naturally listening hopefully for word about a North American Province, and desiring to hear that one had now been established. In many ways that was an unrealistic hope, since this first meeting had to organize the Council itself, a singularly daunting task, but the statement that a priority will be given to the North American situation and the formation of a Province is helpful reassurance.

In another sense, however, it is not up to the GPC to create a North American Province; their decision is whether to recognize a body already formed. It is likely that the Common Cause Partners Federation will wish to petition the 2009 Council meeting for recognition, and with its organizational issues taken care of, the Council may give favorable consideration to that recognition.

What the GPC will need to keep in mind is that the revisionist heterodoxy demonstrated by the North American church leaders also has a pernicious grasp on a good portion of the British Church as well.

With regard to "moratoria" on electing/consecrating any new homosexual bishops in the Anglican Communion, the next chance of such an election isn't in North America. We have become aware through reliable sources that Dr. Barry Morgan is a man of his word - he previously has said, "I (Barry Morgan) would ordain Britain's first gay Bishop."

Wales is in an election process for Bishop of Bangor and the election has as one of its still-secret nominees none other than Jeffrey John, sometime bishop designee for Redding, who had to withdraw when the appointment created an uproar. Failing to take the prize home with him, he was given an appointment as a Cathedral Dean to console him, but it now appears that some stock options for the future were thrown in as well (Dean Jeffrey John is in a same-sex civil partnership).

The electoral college consists of the clergy of the diocese of Bangor and all of the Bishops of the Province of the Church of Wales. Although being on the slate is no guarantee of an election, it is clearly something that Archbishop Morgan desires, having said that practicing homosexuals should not be barred from becoming bishops, and having called the opponents of such consecrations "exclusive and narrow-minded."

Could this be happening without the Archbishop of Canterbury knowing about it? Perhaps in theory, but this is Dr. Williams' former Province where he was first a bishop and then the Primate, and one would have to conclude that this type of information, even if not properly made available to Canterbury, would be soon found out by his intelligence operatives.

Dr. Williams might well wish not to know until too late, so that nothing is left on his doorstep for evidence, but we do know that Jeffrey Johns and Rowan Williams have been friends for years, and that it was extremely hard for Dr. Williams to advise Johns that it was time to fall on his sword, figuratively speaking, hence the consolation prize of a deanship. I really doubt that Dr. Williams wishes to rain on Jeffrey's parade twice, and if Canterbury would like plausible deniability, it is understandable.

However, Dr. Williams, if you are on record as knowing about this, and the event takes place despite all the "moratoria" recommendations that were made, the Archbishop of Canterbury will not get a free pass on this one. The Welch electoral college meets on September 10th and the election takes place October 10th. Will Jeffrey Johns still be on the short list for the election? Will he actually be elected?

We have said over and again that the greater part of the tear in the Anglican fabric is over the issues of Christology and the Authority of Holy Scripture, and at least in the USA, the disagreements over sexuality are derivative from these fissures. The sad part is that the media doesn't understand the theological mischief that the American church is pushing, and sex and money sell newspapers. Further, when it comes to human sexuality, nothing is ever settled - by design. If those who advocate for the gay sexual agenda lose, they keep coming back, wearing down the orthodox with "conversation", which means, listen to them until your ears fall off and you give up. If they gain ground by court or compromise, it is only the staging ground for demanding more.

Enough of this foolishness. Those who want to talk the talk and promenade about in their ecclesial vesture, but can't walk the walk, need to be removed from leadership. So...perhaps if Canterbury were to make a phone call to a certain Dean, things could go away again as they did once before. It wouldn't solve any of the existing problems, but it would keep the Communion from sinking deeper into the mess it has already created.

Oh, for the clarity and purpose of GAFCON to spread Communion-wide!

Blessings and peace in Christ Jesus,

The Rt. Rev. David C. Anderson, Sr.
President and CEO, American Anglican Council

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Boycott of Lambeth 2008 is “most serious challenge yet”

From George Conger writing in the Church of England Newspaper [boldface mine]:

The Archbishop of Canterbury’s decision to invite the American, Canadian and Central American bishops who consecrated Gene Robinson to Lambeth led to 214 bishops boycotting the conference, a study by The Church of England Newspaper has found.

A review of registration data and attendance figures gathered during the conference finds that 206 diocesan and 8 suffragan bishops declined to attend the July 16 to Aug 3 conference. While boycotts affected the 1998, 1868 and 1888 conferences—the 2008 boycott was the most serious challenge to the integrity of the meeting.

The Anglican Communion comprises 729 dioceses, missionary districts, and ecclesial entities divided into 38 provinces and six extra-provincial jurisdictions. Approximately 260 dioceses and jurisdictions within the Communion were not represented by their diocesan bishops at Lambeth. Not all absences were the result of a conscious decision not to accept Dr. Rowan Williams’ invitation to Lambeth.

A number of sees are vacant, while exigent circumstances prevented some bishops from attending. . .

Of those identified as absent by CEN, 214 bishops from 10 provinces made an affirmative decision not to accept Dr. Williams’ invitation due to reasons of conscience: Australia 7; Southern Cone 1; Episcopal Church 1; Church of England 3; Uganda 30; Nigeria 137; Kenya 25; Rwanda 8; South East Asia 1; and Jerusalem and the Middle East 1.

From Africa’s 324 dioceses, 200 diocesan bishops (61 percent) were identified as having refused Dr. Williams’ invitation. . .

Read it all.

Lean not . . .

http://www.northcoastartists.org/JonKlein.html
Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.
Proverbs 3:5-6

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

And for another take on the Pelosi story: Kathy Shaidle

From Kathy Shaidle at five feet of fury:

The reason the MSM (and ordinary people) are ignorning the "Bishops smack down Nancy Pelosi on abortion" story is:

a) they are, as you [Hugh Hewitt] said on air, notoriously tone deaf about religious issues,

b) they agree with Pelosi on abortion anyhow; but most importantly:

c) they find it rich -- as I do -- that cardinals and archibishops can manage to shift themselves so rapidly when the issue is abortion, but kept their mouths shut for twenty years when children were being molested by their brethren.

The American Catholic hierarchy has NO moral authority now and may never recover it.

Pelosi is wrong and you and the cardinals are right.

It. Doesn't. Matter.

No one takes the American Catholic hierarchy seriously any longer, given their abdication of authority over the greatest in-house controversy in its history. . .

Check it out.

Blogging and Lambeth 2008

Well, now that Lambeth 2008 has come and gone, there is a definite diminution of blogging going on around the Internet. Some of it is because there’s just not as much going on (although don’t forget to check out BabyBlue’s CANA Council posts) but I think much of the decrease is because Lambeth changed little.

And with little change has come somewhat of a sense of ennui, of apathy, especially if one is in a traditional parish in a revisionist diocese.

There is no turning back, there will be no change within The Episcopal Church except continued movement away from the Gospel.

There will be no rescue – there is only slugging on year after year.

If one is firmly of the belief that he or she is following God’s will, while staying in ECUSA may be frustrating, there is a certain fulfillment in being obedient to the Lord (and the anxiety of “when are we going to leave?” disappears as well).

If one is not sure, it would be pure agony to remain in a church that no longer holds to a “one, holy, catholic, and apostolic” formula. Continued prayer and discernment are called for, and then action, no matter how difficult, is required one way or another. Stay or go, but do so out of conviction of the Father’s will. Don’t remain trapped in a lukewarm decision or let the paralysis of indecision eat away at one’s faith.

If one knows it is time to go, then the question is “to where?” And discernment is again essential (and difficult). I think GAFCON was (and is) a great idea. It illustrated for all that the Global South and its supporters have realized that ECUSA will not turn back, will not stop, so it’s time to move on in mission with those who trust the Lord.

Following biblical injunction, Global South primates tried talking with and confronting those they felt had moved away from Christ. Once it was clear that nothing would change, the Global South essentially dusted off their sandals and left - left not the Anglican Communion (clever, clever), but the poisonous atmosphere of heresy.

If GAFCON can continue on (and that’s a big if, with the elephant in the room of women’s ordination), I really do think that it will over time become, at the very least, the de facto Anglican Communion center.

And now Cardinal Egan joins in. . .

From the Archdiocese of New York:

STATEMENT OF HIS EMINENCE, EDWARD CARDINAL EGAN CONCERNING REMARKS MADE BY THE SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

Like many other citizens of this nation, I was shocked to learn that the Speaker of the House of Representatives of the United States of America would make the kind of statements that were made to Mr. Tom Brokaw of NBC-TV on Sunday, August 24, 2008. What the Speaker had to say about theologians and their positions regarding abortion was not only misinformed; it was also, and especially, utterly incredible in this day and age.

We are blessed in the 21st century with crystal-clear photographs and action films of the living realities within their pregnant mothers. No one with the slightest measure of integrity or honor could fail to know what these marvelous beings manifestly, clearly, and obviously are, as they smile and wave into the world outside the womb. In simplest terms, they are human beings with an inalienable right to live, a right that the Speaker of the House of Representatives is bound to defend at all costs for the most basic of ethical reasons. They are not parts of their mothers, and what they are depends not at all upon the opinions of theologians of any faith. Anyone who dares to defend that they may be legitimately killed because another human being “chooses” to do so or for any other equally ridiculous reason should not be providing leadership in a civilized democracy worthy of the name.

Edward Cardinal Egan
Archbishop of New York

August 26, 2008

H/t to Jeff via email.

AnglicanTV schedule

An update from Kevin at AnglicanTV:

After long events like Gafcon and Lambeth it has been good to have a break. However, I am as interested in what is going to happen this fall as you are. So I am listing my schedule (subject to change) below.

Sept 15th I will be filming a POV (point of view) live stream from Trinity School for Ministry. You can find more info HERE

September 26-27 - ADV Council - Church of the Epiphany, Herndon, VA - Dr. J. I. Packer, Keynote Speaker -- Live Stream

October 1 -- Justyn Terry's Inauguration as Dean of Trinity

Oct 4 -- Diocese of Pittsburgh Convention -- Live Stream

You can follow my schedule "HERE Send schedule suggestions to anglicantv@gmail.com.

I also hope to be doing some more interviews this fall for AnglicanTV, so I'll keep everyone posted on those as well.

SanDiegoAnglicans: Sowing good seed

Posted by Fr. Eric Menees of the Anglican Church of the Resurrection, San Marcos (one of the San Diego churches that walked away from their property and is now under the Southern Cone):

This past Sunday, the Youth Groups of Resurrection, Sts. Timothy & Titus and Holy Trinity gathered together at Holy Trinity, Ocean Beach, for a mixer, beach party, pizza fest and some evangelistic action.

About 30 youth gathered from the three churches and marched down to the beach. After setting up camp at Life Guard Station Three and hitting the waves a group of the kids went up and down the beach handing out Christian Bracelets and asking people if they had any prayer requests that they could pray for. They were terrific evangelists!

After they trekked back to HT - O[cean] B[each] they shared in some great hymn singing, went through a ton of Pizza and then gathered for a short video & discussion on prayer. . .

Read it all. I think the Anglican churches in San Diego have made a great effort to work together on creating opportunities for youth ministry. Under the organization of Fr. Russ Martin of Sts. Timothy & Titus and Cindy K. (actually, mostly Cindy!), the middle and high schoolers in the area (including Orange County) have had several overnight retreats and get-togethers, with the fall retreats just around the corner.

BabyBlue makes a list

From BabyBlue Online, a list of upcoming events of interest:

Been thinking about what comes next. Here are some of the events:

Sept. 3-4 - CAPA Primates and Standing Committee Meeting, Nairobi, Kenya

Sept. 12-14 - The PB Road Show in Augusta, Savannah and Statesboro, Georgia

Sept. 17-19 - TEC House of Bishops, Salt Lake City, Utah

September 26-27 - Anglican District of Virginia Synod, Herndon, VA

Oct. 4 - Diocese of Pittsburgh Annual Convention, Monroeville, Pennsylvania

October 8 - Trial: TEC/Diocese of Los Angeles and Anglican Congregations, California
October - Trial: TEC/Diocese of Virginia and CANA, Virginia

Oct. 20-23 - TEC Executive Council, Helena, Montana

Oct. 22-24 - REC General Council, Victoria, BC

Nov. 7-8 - Diocese of Quincy Annual Synod, Quincy, Illinois

Nov. 14-15 - Diocese of Ft. Worth Convention, Bedford, Texas

Dec. 1-3 - Common Cause Partnership Council

Dec. 15-19 - Windsor Continuation Group Meeting, Mustang Island, Texas

Jan/Feb 2009 - Anglican Primates Meeting, Bahamas

Feb. 9-13, 2009 - General Synod of the Church of England, London

Jan. 28-31, 2009 - AMiA Winter Conference, Greensboro, NC

Jan. 30-Feb. 1, 2009 - TEC Executive Council, Stockton, CA

April 20-22, 2009 - TEC Executive Council, South Portland, Maine

May 2009 - Anglican Consultive Council

July 9-12, 2009 - BabyBlue's 30th High School Reunion, Honolulu, Hawaii

July 8-17, 2009 - TEC General Convention, Anaheim, CA

July 10-14, 2009 - General Synod of the Church of England, York

Nov. 17-19, 2009 - General Synod of the Church of England, London (if needed)

Check it out.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

"Washington archbishop rips Pelosi on abortion"

From the Roman Catholic Diocese of Washington, a statement by Archbishop Donald W. Wuerl:

On Meet the Press this past Sunday, August 23, 2008, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi made statements regarding the teaching of the Catholic Church, human life and abortion that were incorrect.

Speaker Pelosi responded to a question on when life begins by mentioning she was Catholic. She went on to say, “And what I know is, over the centuries, the doctors of the Church have not been able to make that definition...” After Mr. Tom Brokaw, the interviewer, pointed out that the Catholic Church feels strongly that life begins at conception, she replied, “I understand. And this is like maybe 50 years or something like that. So again, over the history of the church, this is an issue of controversy.”

We respect the right of elected officials such as Speaker Pelosi to address matters of public policy that are before them, but the interpretation of Catholic faith has rightfully been entrusted to the Catholic bishops. Given this responsibility to teach, it is important to make this correction for the record.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church is clear: the current teaching of the Catholic Church on human life and abortion is the same teaching as it was 2,000 years ago. The Catechism reads:

“Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception…Since the first century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion. This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable. Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law.” (Catechism, 2270-2271)

The Catechism goes on to quote the Didache, a treatise that dates to the first century: “’You shall not kill the embryo by abortion and shall not cause the newborn to perish.’”

From the beginning, the Catholic Church has respected the dignity of all human life from the moment of conception to natural death.

And more on the story from The Hill:
In a rare public rebuke of a top politician, the archbishop of Washington said Monday that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) was incorrect when she recently said the moment of conception has long been a matter of controversy within the Catholic Church.

In a release issued Monday night, Washington Archbishop Donald W. Wuerl said Pelosi's comments on "Meet the Press" on Sunday "were incorrect."

Wuerl noted that Pelosi responded to a question on when life begins by mentioning she was Catholic.

The release quoted Pelosi as saying the church has not been able to come with a definition of when life begins.

“After Mr. Tom Brokaw, the interviewer, pointed out that the Catholic Church feels strongly that life begins at conception, she replied, 'I understand. And this is, like, maybe 50 years or something like that. So again, over the history of the church, this is an issue of controversy,' " the release said.

Wuerl strongly disagrees.

He said, "We respect the right of elected officials such as Speaker Pelosi to address matters of public policy that are before them, but the interpretation of Catholic faith has rightfully been entrusted to the Catholic bishops. Given this responsibility to teach, it is important to make this correction for the record."

Wuerl pointed out that the Catechism of the Catholic Church is clear, and has been clear for 2,000 years. He cited Catechism language that reads, "Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception … Since the first century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion. This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable. Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law.”

A Pelosi spokesman did not immediately comment for this article. . .

In an interview on C-SPAN that aired earlier this month, Pelosi was asked about how some church officials have raised objections about whether former presidential contenders — such as Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani (R) — should receive communion.

Pelosi, a Roman Catholic whose district includes most of San Francisco, said she has not encountered such difficulties in her church.

“I think some of it is regional,” she said, “It depends on the bishop of a certain region, and, fortunately for me, communion has not been withheld and I’m a regular communicant, so that would be a severe blow to me if that were the case.”

Read it all.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Carl's most excellent comment: UK opposition leader backs abortion of babies with disabilities

A comment by carl at Stand Firm:

The ontological line between ‘born’ and ‘unborn’ is entirely arbitrary. If this argument rests upon the premise that parents should not be required to bear the burden of disabled children, then the argument justifies more than abortion. It justifies infanticide as well. For what if the condition is missed by the doctor? The parents could rightly say “We would have aborted if only we had known! It is not right that we be required to carry this burden involuntarily.” That arbitrary thin line which legally separates abortion from murder will not hold for long.

This attitude stems from one of the most pernicious presumptions of western man - that the purpose of life is to be ‘happy.’ The questions arise: “How can we fulfill our purpose in life if we can never escape the drudgery of caring for the needs of another; caring for one who will never have the capacity to materially repay the cost of silently carrying the load. And how can we continue on when the unfairness of it all is so visible; when we see others around us who have no such burden?” And always the question is asked by those who require no such care; who expect to never require such care. Woe unto them when they themselves need it.

The question of unequal burden is a question only God can answer. We have no proper recourse but to submit and do the work He requires, trusting that He does not require things without purpose. But we know that happiness is not His priority for man. I cannot imagine a more self-centered purpose in life than happiness. It is the very essence of pleasing the self, and a Christian should have no part in it. For us the purpose of life is not found in happiness, but elsewhere.
Q. What is the chief end of man?
A. Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.

I don’t see much about temporal happiness in that statement.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Buffy the Vampire Slayer slaying church attendance among women, study claims

From the Telegraph (U.K.) [boldface mine]:

The old-fashioned attitudes and hierarchies of churches are causing a steep decline in the number of female worshippers, according to an academic study.

The report claims more than 50,000 women a year have deserted their congregations over the past two decades because they feel the church is not relevant to their lives.

It says that instead young women are becoming attracted to the pagan religion Wicca, where females play a central role, which has grown in popularity after being featured positively in films, TV shows and books.

The study comes amid ongoing controversy over the role of women in all Christian denominations. Last month its [the Church of England] governing body voted to allow women to become bishops for the first time, having admitted them to the priesthood in 1994, but traditionalist bishops have warned that hundreds of clergy and parishes will leave if the move goes ahead as planned.

The report's author, Dr Kristin Aune, a sociologist at the University of Derby, said: "In short, women are abandoning the church.

"Because of its focus on female empowerment, young women are attracted by Wicca, popularised by the TV series Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

"Young women tend to express egalitarian values and dislike the traditionalism and hierarchies they imagine are integral to the church.

"Women's ordination, as priests and now bishops, has dominated debate and headlines – but while looking at women in the pulpit we have taken our eyes off the pews, where a shift with more consequences for the church's survival is underway."

Her research, published in a new book called Women and Religion in the West, cites an English Church Census which found more than a million women worshippers have left churches since 1989. . .

In addition, the census is said to show that teenage boys now outnumber girls in the pews for the first time.

Dr Aune says the church must adapt to the needs of modern women if it is to stop them leaving in their droves.

She believes many women have been put off going to church in recent years because of the influence of feminism, which challenged the traditional Christian view of women's roles and raised their aspirations.

Her report claims they feel forced out of the church because of its "silence" about sexual desire and activity, and because of its hostility to single-parent families and unmarried couples which are now a reality for many women.

But it also says changes in women's working lives, with many more now pursuing careers as well as raising children, mean they have less time to attend church.


Dr Aune believes churches must now introduce services and activities that fit in better with modern's women's schedules, such as Saturday morning breakfast clubs. . .

Christina Rees, chairman of the pro-women bishop campaign group Watch, said the report highlighted the damaging effect that traditionalist attitudes within the Church of England are having on women.

She added that the introduction of female bishops will lead to a renewed interest in the church among young people and women in particular, despite the opposition to the historic step from Anglo-Catholics and conservative evangelicals who believe scripture and tradition teach that bishops must be male. . .

Read it all. And, Christina, you might want to look at the overall attendance in The Episcopal Church before you see female bishops as leading "to a renewed interest in the church." Just sayin'

A list

From Jill Woodliff, commenting at Stand Firm, a concise (and depressing) list of actions and events in which ECUSA failed to provide direction or discipline:

  • 8/08 S[tand] F[irm] reader points out that Rev. John Beverley Butcher is both an Episcopal priest and a member of the Unitarian Universalist Church.

  • 6/08 Episcopal Life letter to the editor by Rev. John Beverley Butcher, author of The Tao of Jesus, recommends omitting the Nicene Creed. (Also on 8/08.)

  • 6/08 Find webpage of All Saints, Corpus Christi. The purpose statement is “Celebrating the Divine in prayer and action.” Core values include “We are committed to finding innovative ways of experiencing God’s presence in all Sacred Traditions.”

  • 1/08 Hindu-Christian interfaith service

  • 1/08 Buddhist mandala constructed at Philadelphia cathedral

  • 1/08 Native American smudgers at bishop consecration

  • 12/07 Sacramento cathedral hostsTibetan Buddhists to construct mandala and hold Medicine Buddha Healing Ceremony

  • 12/07 Seattle parish offers astrology workshop

  • 10/07 Sufi dance taught in Seattle cathedral

  • 9/07 Navajo teachers and medicine men help with a Navajo blessing ceremony during consecration of bishop

  • 6/07 Interfaith baptism in Newark (Muslim and Jewish prayers added to Christian liturgy)

  • 6/07 Episcopal priest in Seattle announces she is a Muslim.

  • 5/07 A liberal Episcopal layman/ordained Sufi leads Sufi healing circle meetings at St. Philip’s Cathedral, Atlanta, GA

  • 4/07 A copyrighted Liturgy of Invitation was celebrated by the Episcopal Committee on Science, Techology, and Faith. Readings included antitheistic philosophy.

  • 9/06 A Tibetan Buddhist lama leads a guided meditation for EDS seminarians & faculty.

  • 5/06 Episcopal Bookstore offers pagan book Love Potions for sale online.

  • 4/06 Wiccan priest/Episcopal layman surfaces, having had essays published on the Oasis blog and Father Jake’s blog and Louie Crew’s blog.

  • 4/05 Two Druid/Episcopal priests exposed in Pennsylvania.

  • 5/04 A transgender shaman/pagan priest and a witch are featured speakers at a conference partly sponsored by the Episcopal Diocese of Michigan GLBT outreach group

  • 1/95 Gaia mass in Grace Cathedral, San Francisco

Friday, August 22, 2008

Thoughts from the other side: Mark Harris and the Lambeth requests

This is an excerpt of a much longer piece from Mark Harris, an Episcopal priest in the Diocese of Delaware, on his blog, Preludium [boldface mine]:

. . . Lambeth 2008 left things as they were, say, two weeks before it began. The status quo ante is just there. Nothing changed save the fact that people mostly kept talking, except for those who were not going to talk.

The strong possibility is that every element of the “status quo ante” will fail to be resolved in the near future. My sense is:

Moratoria concerning blessing and ordination of gay persons in relationship will not hold.

The Pastoral Forum, like its predecessor proposals, arises not from the affected churches but from some committee or commission of the “instruments of unity.” My sense is it will not be accepted by the Episcopal Church as it relates to dioceses who wish to leave the Episcopal Church. It seems clear that the Common Cause Partnership finds this proposal lacking as well.

The Anglican Covenant is an important exercise in finding a way to express the sense we have that there is a friend in the room, an inward and spiritual grace. It is only modest as a bill of particulars about the Anglican Communion or Anglicansim. If it contains clauses, appendices, or other addenda that require submission to the rule of an extra church council it will not easily be signed by any church that values its ecclesial autonomy. This is as true I suspect for the Church of England and the Church of Nigeria as it is for the Episcopal Church.

One thing we can be sure of is that the failure to complete any of these tasks will be blamed more and more on the innovative churches of North America (TEC and ACoC and increasingly on other Churches in the Anglican Communion who share some of their pastoral and prophetic concerns (Scotland, Wales, New Zealand, Mexico, etc.). While willing to share the “blame,” we should understand the blame game to be toxic and spiritually deadening. . .

Read it all. I don't agree with his theology (revisionist) but I do agree with his thoughts here on how the Lambeth requests will play out.

BabyBlue at the annual CANA council

Check out BabyBlue Online and her reports on the annual CANA council:

Have arrived in Akron for the CANA Council and it's a packed house. In fact, the session on the Prayer Book was so jammed that people were standing out in the hall listening to the session led by Bishop Martyn Minns because all the seats and floor space was filled to capacity.

There are lots of sessions going on - from sessions focused on evangelism, social justice, and mission partnerships, to church planting, healing, raising up the next generation of leaders, and an instructional session on the Eucharist service. . .

Read it all and check out the draft resolutions. And take a look at Transfigurations, too!

AAC weekly message from Bishop David Anderson, August 22

Via email, from the American Anglican Council, the weekly message from Bishop David Anderson for August 22, 2008 [boldface mine]:

Dearly Beloved in Christ,

Early this week I attended a Common Cause Partnership Lead Bishops' meeting, with discussions naturally centered around outcomes of the Lambeth Conference and the GAFCON Primates' Council meeting, and concerns for finally putting together a North American orthodox Anglican province. From there I went to a CANA-Nigeria Council meeting, with lay and clergy representatives from CANA congregations all over the USA. Visitors from other Anglican judicatories are also present observing the events, both plenary and breakout sessions.

These Anglican gatherings, such as CANA Council as well as AMiA's Winter Conference and ACN events, are so different from the atmosphere of stress and hostility that many experienced when still serving in liberal revisionist dioceses in the Episcopal Church. At these type of orthodox Anglican gatherings one can actually relax, move deeper into worship, accept sound teaching, and fellowship with others who are of similar faith. To God be the glory!

We note that a letter from Bishop Duncan of Pittsburgh to Bishop Lillibridge of West Texas, which was forwarded with permission to the Windsor Continuation Group members, was leaked by someone either in Bishop Lillibridge's office or one of the Windsor Continuation Group members. Does the Windsor Continuation Group really wish to be in conversation with Bishop Duncan or the Common Cause Partnership Federation, a likely new Anglican Province in North America? There are ways to make slight modifications in a document and code them so that the miscreant identifies himself when he leaks a document. Perhaps next time, that might be an appropriate option.

One of the items that Bishop Duncan wished to protest was the treatment of border crossings as the moral equivalence of same sex marriages and gay bishops, a stance that previous Primates' Meetings refused to take. This new equivalence represents a steep moral decline on the part of the Lambeth leadership, and is further underlined by the thought that the orthodox Anglicans who have left, let me say it again, WHO HAVE LEFT the Episcopal Church, would EVER go back into the toxic theological quagmire of heterodoxy that is the leadership of TEC. We are not going into any holding bay; we are the victims and Lambeth is thinking of sending the abused back to the abuser rather than punish the abuser. But remember, if Dr Williams semi-secretly believes in the gay agenda, he cannot and will not ever really discipline TEC; rather, he would send the orthodox back for TEC to have a second go at them. I don't think the orthodox will buy that idea. That train goes to the death camp and we're not getting on it.

Andrew Carey, journalist for the Church of England Newspaper, has done a short but excellent recap on the Episcopal Church, and it is worth your taking a look. I think Andrew really gets it - now if only Dr. N. T. Wright would read, mark, learn and inwardly digest what Carey has said, the C of E would be in a better position to be a help to the Communion.

Now to close with a note of optimism: in northern Virginia, Judge Bellows has again ruled in favor of the local churches in the TEC & Diocese of Virginia lawsuit against the orthodox Anglican churches who left with their property. TEC & Virginia will keep suing and appealing, however, burning up money in lawyers' fees as part of a strategy. For churches to prevail over the bully TEC and the diocese, the churches need to have the local law on their side, the facts on their side, and enough money to stay in court forever. TEC loses on the law and loses on the facts, but if they can burn enough money, they can win by financially exhausting any opponent, as unjust as that is. But now I ask you, is a denomination like that where you want your children and grandchildren to go to church? When you go to a revisionist TEC diocese like Virginia, do you really want your Sunday morning offering to go not to the Glory of God, not to the heat/lights/salaries of a local church, not to mission work, but to persecute orthodox churches in order to force them out of their churches and onto the street? I would think that even the liberals and revisionists would get tired of that after while. For now, the orthodox Anglicans in the USA are praying for a final victory in Judge Bellows' court, and for TEC to move on to the MDG's that they keep talking about.

Blessings and Peace in Christ Jesus,

The Rt. Rev. David C. Anderson, Sr.
President and CEO, American Anglican Council

Thursday, August 21, 2008

American Episcopal bishop surprises, upsets Lambeth Conference

From the Abilene reporternews [boldface mine]:

The career of Bishop Catherine Roskam of the Diocese of New York has been built on her skills as a cross-cultural ambassador for the modern Episcopal Church.

She led the International Concerns Committee of her denomination's executive council, helped create her diocese's Global Women's Fund and has worked as a consultant on issues of cultural sensitivity. In some circles, she is known as the bishop who dared to rap during a "Hip-Hop Mass" a few years ago in the Bronx.

"My sistas and brothas, all my homies and peeps, stay up -- keep your head up, holla back and go forth and tell it like it is," proclaimed the bishop, in her benediction.


Thus, the diminutive, white-haired assistant bishop was an unlikely figure to inspire bold, angry headlines during the recent Lambeth Conference of bishops from the global Anglican Communion. . .

It was especially important not to inflame already painful disputes between Third World traditionalists and liberals in the United States, Canada, England and elsewhere.

Then, during planned discussions of domestic violence, Roskam spoke out on an unlikely topic -- bishops who beat their wives.

"We have 700 men here. Do you think any of them beat their wives? Chances are they do," argued Roskam, in The Lambeth Witness, a daily newsletter for gay-rights supporters in the 77 million-member Anglican Communion.

"The most devout Christians beat their wives. ... Many of our bishops come from places where it is culturally accepted to beat your wife. In that regard, it makes conversation quite difficult."

The key, she added, is that "Violence against women, and violence against children for that matter, is violence against the defenseless. With women, it goes hand-in-hand with misogyny."

The New York bishop's accusations rocked the conference, which was already tense because of the absence of about 280 conservative bishops -- many from Nigeria and Uganda -- who declined to attend because of the presence of U.S. leaders who backed the 2003 consecration of the openly gay and noncelibate Bishop Gene Robinson of New Hampshire. Only 617 Anglican bishops preregistered and some of those failed to attend, according to a report in The Living Church magazine. Thus, nearly a quarter of the bishops in attendance came from the small but wealthy U.S. Episcopal Church.

The most damaging part of Roskam's pronouncement was her tone of moral and cultural superiority, noted commentator Riazat Butt. It was easy for bishops from the Global South to read between the lines and find painful traces of colonialism.

"What bishops should be ... concerned about is her insinuation that a nonwhite culture leads to domestic violence and that white, Western culture is too civilized and too advanced to allow such atrocities to occur," argued Butt, in The Guardian. "Roskam fails to recognize that domestic violence affects people regardless of their class, ethnicity, religion, gender or geography.". . .

Now, a decade later [after Lambeth 1998], a female bishop from a liberal diocese in America provided new evidence that these kinds of cultural stereotypes are hard to bury.

This kind of guilt-by-association game is not going to ease tensions in the Anglican Communion, noted Archbishop of York John Sentamu.

"I have never beaten my wife, although I can't talk about other people," Sentamu told the London Times. "There is a danger of stereotyping people because of the culture they come from and assuming they must surely be doing it. ... I hope Bishop Catherine has got figures and numbers and people. Because if not, she is in danger of causing an unnecessary rumpus."

Read it all.

You know, I read about this at the time and debated whether Bishop Roskam was being racist or arrogant in making the assumptions she did.

I've now decided her words and actions were both:
  • racist (and misandrist) because she reproved only non-American/non-European male bishops, and

  • arrogant because she implies that those non-American/non-European places are culturally inferior. She says, "Many of our bishops come from places where it is culturally accepted to beat your wife. In that regard, it makes conversation quite difficult." In other words, conversation is difficult because while we recognize that physical abuse is wrong, you don't and so you won't be able to understand our superior perspective.

I hope Archbishop Sentamu continues to ask for those "figures and numbers and people" so we will all know exactly to whom Bishop Roskam is referring, but I wouldn't hold my breath.

Shoe Thursday: Back to school edition

School Issue Varsity
Well, I think they're cute!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The paradoxes of Christianity

As I read and re-read all the non-Christian or anti-Christian accounts of the faith, from Huxley to Bradlaugh, a slow and awful impression grew gradually but graphically upon my mind -- the impression that Christianity must be a most extraordinary thing. For not only (as I understood) had Christianity the most flaming vices, but it had apparently a mystical talent for combining vices which seemed inconsistent with each other. It was attacked on all sides and for all contradictory reasons. No sooner had one rationalist demonstrated that it was too far to the east than another demonstrated with equal clearness that it was much too far to the west. No sooner had my indignation died down at its angular and aggressive squareness than I was called up again to notice and condemn its enervating and sensual roundness. In case any reader has not come across the thing I mean, I will give such instances as I remember at random of this self-contradiction in the sceptical attack. I give four or five of them; there are fifty more.

Thus, for instance, I was much moved by the eloquent attack on Christianity as a thing of inhuman gloom; for I thought (and still think) sincere pessimism the unpardonable sin. Insincere pessimism is a social accomplishment, rather agreeable than otherwise; and fortunately nearly all pessimism is insincere. But if Christianity was, as these people said, a thing purely pessimistic and opposed to life, then I was quite prepared to blow up St. Paul's Cathedral. But the extraordinary thing is this. They did prove to me in Chapter I. (to my complete satisfaction) that Christianity was too pessimistic; and then, in Chapter II., they began to prove to me that it was a great deal too optimistic. One accusation against Christianity was that it prevented men, by morbid tears and terrors, from seeking joy and liberty in the bosom of Nature. But another accusation was that it comforted men with a fictitious providence, and put them in a pink-and-white nursery. One great agnostic asked why Nature was not beautiful enough, and why it was hard to be free. Another great agnostic objected that Christian optimism, "the garment of make-believe woven by pious hands," hid from us the fact that Nature was ugly, and that it was impossible to be free. One rationalist had hardly done calling Christianity a nightmare before another began to call it a fool's paradise. This puzzled me; the charges seemed inconsistent. Christianity could not at once be the black mask on a white world, and also the white mask on a black world. The state of the Christian could not be at once so comfortable that he was a coward to cling to it, and so uncomfortable that he was a fool to stand it. If it falsified human vision it must falsify it one way or another; it could not wear both green and rose-coloured spectacles. . .

I take a third case; the strangest of all, because it involves the one real objection to the faith. The one real objection to the Christian religion is simply that it is one religion. The world is a big place, full of very different kinds of people. Christianity (it may reasonably be said) is one thing confined to one kind of people; it began in Palestine, it has practically stopped with Europe. I was duly impressed with this argument in my youth, and I was much drawn towards the doctrine often preached in Ethical Societies -- I mean the doctrine that there is one great unconscious church of all humanity rounded on the omnipresence of the human conscience. Creeds, it was said, divided men; but at least morals united them. The soul might seek the strangest and most remote lands and ages and still find essential ethical common sense. It might find Confucius under Eastern trees, and he would be writing "Thou shalt not steal." It might decipher the darkest hieroglyphic on the most primeval desert, and the meaning when deciphered would be "Little boys should tell the truth." I believed this doctrine of the brotherhood of all men in the possession of a moral sense, and I believe it still -- with other things. And I was thoroughly annoyed with Christianity for suggesting (as I supposed) that whole ages and empires of men had utterly escaped this light of justice and reason. But then I found an astonishing thing. I found that the very people who said that mankind was one church from Plato to Emerson were the very people who said that morality had changed altogether, and that what was right in one age was wrong in another. If I asked, say, for an altar, I was told that we needed none, for men our brothers gave us clear oracles and one creed in their universal customs and ideals. But if I mildly pointed out that one of men's universal customs was to have an altar, then my agnostic teachers turned clean round and told me that men had always been in darkness and the superstitions of savages. I found it was their daily taunt against Christianity that it was the light of one people and had left all others to die in the dark. But I also found that it was their special boast for themselves that science and progress were the discovery of one people, and that all other peoples had died in the dark. Their chief insult to Christianity was actually their chief compliment to themselves, and there seemed to be a strange unfairness about all their relative insistence on the two things. When considering some pagan or agnostic, we were to remember that all men had one religion; when considering some mystic or spiritualist, we were only to consider what absurd religions some men had. We could trust the ethics of Epictetus, because ethics had never changed. We must not trust the ethics of Bossuet, because ethics had changed. They changed in two hundred years, but not in two thousand.

This began to be alarming. It looked not so much as if Christianity was bad enough to include any vices, but rather as if any stick was good enough to beat Christianity with. What again could this astonishing thing be like which people were so anxious to contradict, that in doing so they did not mind contradicting themselves? I saw the same thing on every side. . .

I wished to be quite fair then, and I wish to be quite fair now; and I did not conclude that the attack on Christianity was all wrong. I only concluded that if Christianity was wrong, it was very wrong indeed. Such hostile horrors might be combined in one thing, but that thing must be very strange and solitary. There are men who are misers, and also spendthrifts; but they are rare. There are men sensual and also ascetic; but they are rare. But if this mass of mad contradictions really existed, quakerish and bloodthirsty, too gorgeous and too thread-bare, austere, yet pandering preposterously to the lust of the eye, the enemy of women and their foolish refuge, a solemn pessimist and a silly optimist, if this evil existed, then there was in this evil something quite supreme and unique. For I found in my rationalist teachers no explanation of such exceptional corruption. Christianity (theoretically speaking) was in their eyes only one of the ordinary myths and errors of mortals. They gave me no key to this twisted and unnatural badness. Such a paradox of evil rose to the stature of the supernatural. It was, indeed, almost as supernatural as the infallibility of the Pope. An historic institution, which never went right, is really quite as much of a miracle as an institution that cannot go wrong. The only explanation which immediately occurred to my mind was that Christianity did not come from heaven, but from hell. Really, if Jesus of Nazareth was not Christ, He must have been Antichrist.

And then in a quiet hour a strange thought struck me like a still thunderbolt. There had suddenly come into my mind another explanation. Suppose we heard an unknown man spoken of by many men. Suppose we were puzzled to hear that some men said he was too tall and some too short; some objected to his fatness, some lamented his leanness; some thought him too dark, and some too fair. One explanation (as has been already admitted) would be that he might be an odd shape. But there is another explanation. He might be the right shape. Outrageously tall men might feel him to be short. Very short men might feel him to be tall. Old bucks who are growing stout might consider him insufficiently filled out; old beaux who were growing thin might feel that he expanded beyond the narrow lines of elegance. Perhaps Swedes (who have pale hair like tow) called him a dark man, while negroes considered him distinctly blonde. Perhaps (in short) this extraordinary thing is really the ordinary thing; at least the normal thing, the centre. Perhaps, after all, it is Christianity that is sane and all its critics that are mad -- in various ways.

G. K. Chesterton
Orthodoxy, Chapter VI, The Paradoxes of Christianity

Judge Bellows again favors Virginia congregations

From the Living Church:

The 11 Anglican congregations in Virginia involved in litigation with The Episcopal Church received a favorable ruling Wednesday in Fairfax County Circuit Court. Judge Randy Bellows said The Episcopal Church and the Diocese of Virginia failed to timely assert their claim that the 11 churches that left The Episcopal Church in 2007 contracted around or waived their right to invoke a Virginia Division statute.

Judge Bellows also ruled that the statute, which concerns the rights of congregations to keep their properties when a majority of members votes to leave their denomination, does not violate the contracts clause provisions of the U.S. and Virginia constitutions as applied to the church properties. . .

Read it all.

Angel Oak


Angel Oak, John's Island, South Carolina

The Angel Oak is a Live Oak (Quercus Virginiana) that is a native species found throughout the Lowcountry (Costal Carolina). Believed to be in excess of 1,500 years old, its massive, draping limbs and wide spreading canopy present the aura of an angel but the naming of this tree was acquired from the tree's previous owners, Martha and Justin Angel.

We used to stop by to take a look at this when I was little - supposedly it's the oldest living thing east of the Mississippi and is now owned by the City of Charleston.

Monday, August 18, 2008

California parents: Information for those with children in public schools

From the California Catholic Conference, a handy-dandy synopsis of what parents of public schoolers need to know about their rights. Read the entire info here (also available in Spanish).

An excerpt from the two-page brochure [boldface mine]:

. . . By law, at the beginning of each school year, public schools send home many documents. In one of these documents, the school district will be giving notification that the school assumes approval of all of the school’s curriculum and activities.

In other words, if a parent or guardian does not approve of any of the topics mentioned above he or she must notify the school. If the parent or guardian does nothing the school officials can and will assume approval or an “opt-in” to the school’s entire program.


However, the language explaining the school’s policy regarding “opt-in” and “opt-out” is written in “legalese” and can easily be overlooked or misunderstood by families.

In plain words:
  • Parents or guardians who object to certain education offered to their children must specifically request that they be excused, i.e., they must “opt-out,” or the school assumes that permission for the students to participate has been granted.

  • In order to make that “specific request” a parent or guardian must complete an “opt-out” form. A standard “opt-out” form can be obtained from the school office.

  • A signed “opt-out” form must be submitted for each student and for each type of objectionable activity from which that student is to be excused.

  • An “opt-out” form for each student is only considered valid for the current school year—and must be resubmitted annually.

  • All parents or guardians have the right to be informed of the content and approximate date of presentation of all materials and subjects.

  • In addition, all parents or guardians have the right to examine copies of all tests, questionnaires, or surveys that inquire about students’ or their parents’ personal beliefs, family life, religion or sex practices.

Confidential Medical Services

From the time students enter the 7th grade in a public school, they are granted complete freedom for purposes of securing confidential medical services, which may include contraceptives, abortions and psychotropic drugs.

That policy is the result of a 1997 court decision (American Academy of Pediatrics v. Lungren) which extended the “right of privacy” to minors. The California Supreme Court ruled that a minor’s right to privacy superseded the minor’s parents’ rights as guardians.

In addition, in 2004 California’s Attorney General Lockyer wrote an opinion supporting that school policy, saying:

“We conclude that a school district may not adopt a policy pursuant to which the school will notify a parent when a student leaves school to receive confidential medical services.”

Confidential medical services may include abortion, birth control, AIDS treatment and/or psychological analysis.

Ordinarily, parents or guardians must grant written permission for their children to participate in off campus activities or to receive over-the-counter medication from school personnel. However, when a student requests confidential medical services, then he or she can actually be released without parental knowledge or permission during school hours to receive those services.

Like the notification regarding “opt-out” for objectionable educational activities, at the beginning of each school year, parents or guardians are notified of this public school policy for students in grades 7-12.

And like the notification about the availability of an “opt-out,” the information about the policy of releasing students for confidential medical services may also be overlooked or misunderstood. . .

California Supreme Court ruling on doctors

From FoxNews [boldface mine]:

SAN FRANCISCO — California's highest court on Monday barred doctors from invoking their religious beliefs as a reason to deny treatment to gays and lesbians, ruling that state law prohibiting sexual orientation discrimination extends to the medical profession.

The ruling was unanimous and a succinct 18 pages, a contrast to the state Supreme Court's 4-3 schism in May legalizing gay marriage.

Justice Joyce Kennard wrote in the ruling that two Christian fertility doctors who refused to artificially inseminate a lesbian have neither a free speech right nor a religious exemption from the state's law, which "imposes on business establishments certain antidiscrimination obligations."

In the lawsuit that led to the ruling, Guadalupe Benitez, 36, of Oceanside said that the doctors treated her with fertility drugs and instructed her how to inseminate herself at home but told her their beliefs prevented them from inseminating her. One of the doctors referred her to another fertility specialist without moral objections and Benitez has since given birth to three children.

Nevertheless, Benitez in 2001 sued the Vista-based North Coast Women's Care Medical Group. She and her lawyers successfully argued that a state law prohibiting businesses from discriminating based on sexual orientation applies to doctors.

The law was originally designed to prevent hotels, restaurants and other public services from refusing to serve patrons because of their race. The Legislature has since expanded it to cover characteristics such as age and sexual orientation. . .

Read it all (and remember, same sex "marriage" is now legal in California, so if clergy refuse to perform a religious ceremony for two persons of the same sex, will they be sued? I'm sure there's a test case being prepped right now).

And I really dislike the Fox headline "California Top Court: Doctors Cannot Withhold Care From Gays" because it implies all medical treatment is being denied because of one's sexual behavior, but no one is denying any necessary or life-saving treatment here. The doctors did not withhold "care" - they did not want to perform optional, non-life saving treatment and referred the patient to a doctor who would do the procedure - quite a difference!

Holy Trinity Austin now Christ Church Anglican

And they walked away from the property:

Christ Church

A new Anglican church is “re-born” in the city of Austin
We are now meeting as Christ Church.

Same pastor, same staff, same body of Christ with a new name.

Christ Church is a community that is liturgical, evangelical, historic and contemporary at the same time; making disciples of Jesus with a heart for the lost and for justice in the city of Austin and around the world.

Come worship with us Sundays at 10:30 a.m.
at the Senior Activity Center on the southeast corner of 29th & Lamar.

And under "Who We Are":

Our Vision

Our vision is best described in three phrases: ancient-future worship, missional community and empowered evangelicals. What does that mean?It means that worship is central to who we are as God’s people. We were made to worship the Triune God. "Ancient-future worship” means recognizing the power and richness of our past, with its time-tested prayers and sacramental view of the world, on the one hand. Christ Church stands in the stream of the "Great Tradition" of God's people through the centuries. On the other hand, it means celebrating the creative explosion of contemporary worship and responding to what God is doing in the world now in music and the arts.

How about "missional community"? Christ Church called to live in community. There is no such thing as solitary Christianity. In community we grow; we are challenged and comforted; we help each other along, learn how to forgive, listen to each other's unique insights. But not only that; community is also outward. We are a community for others. We are a missional community, inviting others (locally and globally) into the grace of God and reaching out with compassion to those on the margins of society.

And "empowered evangelicalism" . . . what's that? Evangelical means that Christ Church upholds the authority of the Scriptures, teaches the Bible and proclaims its message boldly, calling people to come and follow Jesus Christ. We also seek to live in the fullness of the Holy Spirit, empowered and gifted, responsive to His voice, believing that He can break into our "natural" world to speak, heal and guide us.

Our Mission

To make disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ by proclaiming and teaching His Word, the Scriptures, nurturing and supporting His community of faith, and worshipping Him in Spirit and in truth. . .

We are an affiliate parish of the American Anglican Council

Our Staff
Cliff Warner, Rector


H/t to Stand Firm.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Testimony of Jill Stanek, R.N.

From the Congressional Record, the oral statement and prepared statement by Jill Stanek, R.N., who testified at a hearing on the federal Born-Alive Infants Protection Act of 2001 (signed into law by Pres. Bush in August 2001) before the U.S. House Subcommittee on the Constitution, Committee on the Judiciary in July of 2001 [boldface mine]:

Statement by Jill Stanek of Mokena, IL

I am a registered nurse who has worked in the labor and delivery department at Christ Hospital in Oak Lawn, Illinois for the past 6 years. In the year that has elapsed since I last testified before this Committee, I have continued to work in the same hospital at the same position.

Christ Hospital performs abortions on women in their second or even third trimester of pregnancy. Sometimes the babies being aborted alive are healthy and sometimes they are not. The abortion technique that Christ Hospital and other hospitals use is called induced-labor abortion, and sometimes results in babies being aborted alive because throughout this particular procedure, the baby is not killed in utero. The focus of this procedure is to forcibly dilate a woman's cervix so that she will prematurely deliver a baby who dies during the birth process or soon after.

The cervix is the opening that's at the bottom of the uterus that normally stays closed until a woman is about 40 weeks pregnant and goes into labor. There are a few ways to force the cervix to open early. At Christ Hospital, the most common way this is done is by the physician inserting a medication called Cytotec into the birth canal close to the cervix. Cytotec irritates the cervix and stimulates it to open early. After the cervix is prematurely dilated, the small pre-term baby drops out of the uterus, sometimes alive.

In the event that a baby is aborted alive, he or she is given what my hospital calls comfort care. Comfort care involves wrapping the baby in a blanket and offering her to her parents to hold until she dies. If parents do not want to hold their baby, as I have been told is most often the case, it is left to staff to care for the baby.

Up until recently, staff options were to hold the baby until death, or put the baby in our soiled utility if we got too busy or if the baby lingered too long. Indeed, it is not uncommon for one of these babies to live for an hour or two or even longer. Last year, of the 16 babies that Christ Hospital states were aborted, at least five were born alive. Four of those babies, two boys and two girls, lived between one and a half and 3 hours. At Christ Hospital, one aborted baby lived once for almost an entire 8-hour shift. At least two of the second-trimester babies who were aborted last year at Christ Hospital were healthy babies.

One night, a nursing co-worker was taking an aborted Down's Syndrome baby who was born alive to our soiled utility room because his parents did not want to hold him and she did not have the time to hold him. I could not bear the thought of this suffering child dying alone in the soiled utility room, so I cradled and rocked him for the 45 minutes that he lived. He was between 21 and 22 weeks old, weighed about a half a pound, and was about ten inches long. He was too weak to move very much, expending any energy he had trying to breathe.

Toward the end, he was so quiet, I couldn't tell if he was still alive unless I held him up against the light to see if I could see his heart beating through his chest wall.

After he was pronounced dead, we folded his little arms across his chest, wrapped him in a tiny shroud, and carried him to the hospital morgue where we take all of our other dead patients.

Other co-workers have told me about incidences of live aborted babies whom they have cared for. A support associate told me about an aborted baby who was left to die on the counter of the soiled utility room wrapped in a disposable blanket—I'm sorry—towel. This baby was accidentally thrown into the garbage, and when they later were going through the trash to try and find the baby, the baby fell out of the towel and onto the floor.

A nurse co-worker told me about an abortion she was involved in where the baby was supposed to have spina bifida but was born with an intact spine. Since I spoke before you last year, this nurse that was involved in this particular abortion told me that what actually happened was that there was an incompletely formed twin who appeared as a mass on his brother's back during ultrasound. The nurse told me that the father came into the soiled utility room to see his son, took one look and saw that he had been involved in aborting a completely healthy baby, turned and left the room without saying a word.

I was recently told about a situation by a nursing co-worker who said, ''I can't stop thinking about it.'' She had a patient who was just over 23 weeks pregnant, and she was not going to be able to complete her pregnancy to term. This baby was completely healthy and had up to a 39 percent chance of survival according to the national stats, but the patient chose to abort. The baby was born alive. If the mother had wanted everything done for this baby, there would have been a neonatologist, a pediatric resident, a pediatric nurse, and a respiratory therapist present for this delivery and the baby would have been taken to our NICU for specialized care. Instead, the only personnel present for this delivery were a resident and my co-worker.

After delivery, the baby, who showed early signs of thriving—she began to breathe on her own and her FR scores improved—was merely wrapped in a blanket and kept in the labor and delivery department until she died two and a half hours later.

Just 3 weeks after this baby was aborted, another mother came to the hospital under similar circumstances, identically aged gestation, and was offered the same options. But she wanted to keep her baby, and so present at her delivery were those four aforementioned NICU personnel, and for the 2 days that I tracked her, that little girl lived.

When I testified before you last July, another nurse who worked at the hospital named Allison Baker also testified. Allison described walking into our soiled utility room on two separate occasions to find live aborted babies left naked on a scale one time and on a metal counter another time. She told about the patient she herself had who didn't know that her baby was going to be aborted alive and who did not want to hold him. After he was taken to the soiled utility room, she kept asking, ''Is he dead yet? Is he dead yet.''

Lest you think that Christ Hospital's live abortion practice is uncommon, I am entering into the congressional record today literature from a March 30th, 2001 symposium sponsored by Waukesha Memorial Hospital in Wisconsin wherein Dr. Washington Hill wrote, that one of three potential complications of a mid-trimester abortion is a live birth.

After I testified last year, Christ Hospital stopped putting babies into the soiled utility room to die. Seven months ago, it unveiled its comfort care room. This is a small, nicely decorated room complete with a First Foto machine in case parents want pictures of their aborted babies, baptismal supplies if parents would like their aborted babies baptized, and a footprinter and bracelets if parents would like keepsakes of their aborted babies. There is also a wooden rocker in the corner to rock the babies to death. And I am entering pictures of the comfort care room into the hearing record with your permission.


Prepared Statement of Jill L. Stanek

I am a Registered Nurse who has worked in the Labor & Delivery Department at Christ Hospital in Oak Lawn, Illinois, for the past six years. In the year that has elapsed since I testified before your committee regarding the same bill under discussion today, I have continued to work at the same hospital in the same position.

Christ Hospital performs abortions on women in their second or even third trimesters of pregnancy. Sometimes the babies being aborted are healthy, and sometimes they are not. The abortion technique that Christ Hospital and other hospitals use, called ''induced labor abortion,'' sometimes results in infants being aborted alive, because throughout this particular abortion procedure the fetus is not killed in the uterus. The focus of this method is to forcibly dilate a woman's cervix so that she will prematurely deliver a baby who dies during the birth process or soon afterward.

The cervix is the opening at the bottom of the uterus that normally stays closed until a woman is about 40 weeks pregnant and goes into labor. There are a few ways to cause the cervix to open early. At Christ Hospital the most common way this is done is by the physician inserting a medication called Cytotec into the birth canal close to the cervix. Cytotec irritates the cervix. The FDA does not approve Cytotec for this use. It is a drug that is supposed to be taken by mouth to help control ulcers. The manufacturer of Cytotec issued a public letter in August 2000 warning that this drug may be harmful to women if used to induce labor, up to and including causing the uterus to rupture and causing death. But Christ Hospital continues to use Cytotec for pregnancy terminations.

After the cervix is prematurely dilated, the small, preterm baby drops out of the uterus, sometimes alive. In the event that a baby is aborted alive, he or she is given what my hospital calls ''comfort care.'' ''Comfort care'' involves wrapping the baby in a blanket and offering him or her to the parents to hold until the baby dies. If parents do not want to hold their baby, as I have observed is most often the case, it is left to staff to care for the baby. Up until recently, staff options were to hold the baby until death or put the baby in our Soiled Utility Room if we got busy or if the baby lingered too long. Indeed, it is not uncommon for one of these babies to live for an hour or two or even longer. Last year alone, of the 16 babies that Christ Hospital states were aborted, I am aware of four who were born alive. Each of these babies—two boys and two girls—lived between 1 1/2 and 3 hours. At Christ Hospital one of these babies once lived for almost an entire eight-hour shift. At least two of the second-trimester babies who were aborted last year at Christ Hospital were completely healthy.

One night, a nursing co-worker was taking an aborted Down's syndrome baby who was born alive to our Soiled Utility Room because his parents did not want to hold him, and she did not have time to hold him. I could not bear the thought of this suffering child dying alone in a Soiled Utility Room, so I cradled and rocked him for the 45 minutes that he lived. He was 21 to 22 weeks old, weighed about pound, and was about 10 inches long. He was too weak to move very much, expending any energy he had trying to breathe. Toward the end he was so quiet that I couldn't tell if he was still alive unless I held him up to the light to see if his heart was still beating through his chest wall. After he was pronounced dead, we folded his little arms across his chest, wrapped him in a tiny shroud, and carried him to the hospital morgue where all of our dead patients are taken.

Other co-workers have told me about incidences of live aborted babies whom they have cared for. A Support Associate told me about an aborted baby who was left to die on the counter of the Soiled Utility Room wrapped in a disposable towel. This baby was accidentally thrown into the garbage, and when they later were going through the trash to find the baby, the baby fell out of the towel and on to the floor. A nurse coworker told me about an abortion she was involved in where the baby was supposed to have spina bifida but was born with an intact spine. She said that what actually happened was that there was an incompletely formed twin who appeared as a mass on his brother's back during an ultrasound. The nurse told me that the father came into the Soiled Utility Room to see his son, took one look and saw that he had been involved in aborting his completely healthy baby, and turned and left the room without saying a word. I was recently told about a situation by a nursing coworker who said, ''I can't stop thinking about it.'' She had a patient who was just over 23 weeks pregnant, and she was not going to be able to complete her pregnancy to term. The baby was healthy and had up to a 39% chance of survival, according to national statistics. But the patient chose to abort. The baby was born alive. If the mother had wanted everything done for her baby, there would have been a neonatologist, pediatric resident, neonatal nurse, and respiratory therapist present for the delivery, and the baby would have been taken to our Neonatal Intensive Care Unit for specialized care. Instead, the only personnel present for this delivery were an obstetrical resident and my coworker. After delivery the baby, who showed early signs of thriving, was merely wrapped in a blanket and kept in the Labor & Delivery Department until she died 2 1/2 hours later. Just three weeks after this baby was aborted, another mother came to the hospital under similar circumstances, carrying an identically aged baby and was offered the same options. But she said that she wanted her baby. And so present at her delivery were the aforementioned NICU team, and for the two days that I tracked her, that little girl lived.

When I testified before you last July, another nurse who worked at Christ Hospital, Allison Baker, also testified. Allison was not asked back today due to the new limit on the number of witnesses allowed. But last year Allison described walking into the Soiled Utility Room on two separate occasions to find live aborted babies left naked on a scale and the metal counter. She told about the patient that she herself had who didn't know that her baby might be aborted alive and who did not then want to hold him. After he was taken to the Soiled Utility Room she kept asking, ''Is he dead yet? Is he dead yet?'' (This testimony is being entered today into the Congressional Record.)

Lest you think that Christ Hospital's live birth abortion practice is uncommon, I am entering into Congressional Record today literature from a March 30, 2001, symposium sponsored by Waukesha Memorial Hospital in Wisconsin that was ''reviewed and is acceptable'' by the American Academy of Family Physicians, wherein Dr. Washington Hill writes that a ''complication'' of a mid-trimester labor induction is a ''live birth.'' The American College of Obstetricians and gynecologists also gave credit hours to physicians for taking this course.

After I testified last year, Christ Hospital stopped putting aborted babies to die in the Soiled Utility Room. This past December it unveiled its ''Comfort Room.'' This is a small, nicely decorated room complete with a First Foto machine in case parents want pictures of their aborted babies, baptismal supplies if parents would like their aborted babies baptized, and a foot printer and baby bracelets if parents would like keepsakes of their aborted babies. There is also a wooden rocker to rock these babies to death. (Pictures entered into Congressional Record.)

When Christ Hospital opened its Comfort Room, I was honestly galled. It became clearer to me than ever that a law must be enacted that specifies that all babies born alive are indeed humans and American citizens with civil rights to equal protection. This is a point that is obviously not clear to extremists in our great country who believe that the right to obtain an abortion must be extended to include the right to commit infanticide. If a hospital named ''Christ'' does not willingly stop committing infanticide but handles public and legal scrutiny by merely trying to make those whose lives they're snuffing out more ''comfortable,'' I have grave concerns about children whose lives are being ended at abortion clinics and hospitals where there is no spotlight of attention.

Once a fetus is aborted, the pregnancy has been terminated. But when what emerges on the other of the vaginal vault is alive, ''it'' by medical definition is no longer a fetus but is now a ''neonate'' or ''baby,'' with rights as human beings and American citizens that must be zealously protected. If we all cannot at least agree that civil rights begin at birth, then we will have to initiate the debate as to when after delivery a living person does begin to have rights, and a Pandora's Box will have been opened, the depths of which none of can possibly ascertain today.

The Department of Health & Human Services wrote me that, ''civil rights laws do not cover abortion procedures or the rights of newborns.'' The Illinois Attorney General determined that ''there is no basis for legal action by this office against the Hospital'' at this time . . . in regard to Christ Hospital's labor induction abortion practices. (Both letters entered into Congressional Record.) Alan Keyes recently observed, ''If we reflect for a moment upon the example of the Declaration of Independence, we will remember that sometimes even self-evident truths need to be declared.'' I think it is obvious that this is one of those times.

And from Priests for Life:
Jill has shared with us the photos of the "Comfort Room" which was established at Christ Hospital, for the babies to die in.

Photo1 -- entrance to the Comfort Room

Photo2 -- the "First Foto" machine, for professional photos of the aborted baby

Photo3 -- Babies are rocked to death in this chair.

Photo4 -- The evil of child-killing is given spiritual trappings, with the option of baptism for the child who is killed.

Photo5 -- the scale to weigh the aborted babies

Friday, August 15, 2008

Sigh . . . the campaign season begins

I hate politics.

Not because I don't believe in the system, I do, very much so. And not because I don't like politicians - some of my best friends (and family) are politicians. I think they have a generally thankless job that requires them to open their (and their families') lives to public scrutiny and constant fundraising. A necessary but contentious part of the American life.

I hate the bickering and the one-up-manship and the gotcha games and the party hacks (on all sides) that always agree with their party line, illogical or not - if something is proposed by their party, it's the best thing ever and if that same thing is proposed by the other party, it's a complete waste and failure.

So I do not plan to post much at all on politics this fall. This, however, because of the tangential connection with Lambeth 2008 seemed appropriate.

President Bush’s pastor to appear in pro-Obama ad

Christian Leaders Release Pro-Family Obama Ad
By the Matthew 25 Network

To Run During Saddleback Presidential Forum

This Saturday, in their first appearance together, Sen. Obama and Sen. McCain will be attending the Saddleback Civil Forum on National Leadership held at Rick Warren’s megachurch.

The Matthew 25 Network will release our first TV ad entitled “Families” that will air during the Saddleback Forum.

The religious leaders that appear in the ad will be speakers on the press call to talk about the important issues to people of faith when making their choice for president, including the character and faith of each candidate.

We will discuss the contrast in efforts made by Senator Obama’s and Senator McCain’s campaigns to reach out to religious voters in the lead up to Saturday’s Forum on National Leadership.

Join us Friday, August 15th at 10:30am Eastern

Press Conference Call

Join:

Mara Vanderslice, Founder and Director, Matthew 25 Network

Brian McLaren, Pastor and Author, Leader in the Emergent Church movement

Pastor Kirbyjon Caldwell, Senior Pastor, Windsor Village United Methodist Church, Houston, TX
Spoke at President Bush’s Inauguration and officiated Jenna Bush’s wedding

Lisa Cahill, Catholic theologian,Professor of Theology, Theology Department, Boston College

Sounds pretty innocuous (don't forget that separation of church and state thingy that the political left is always going on about) until you find out more about the Matthew 25 Network PAC (yes, that's Political Action Committee):
Called “The Matthew 25 Network,” the new organization, which is still in its earliest stages, is being spearheaded by Mara Vanderslice, who was director of religious outreach for the Kerry-Edwards campaign in 2004 and did similar work for several statewide Democratic candidates, including Governor Ted Strickland of Ohio, Senator Bob Casey of Pennsylvania and Governor Kathleen Sebelius of Kansas.

Mr. Obama, the presumed Democratic nominee, is beginning to step up his outreach to the religious community, and met Tuesday in Chicago with a group of about 30 leaders, including the Rev. T. D. Jakes, the black mega-church pastor.

Ms. Vanderslice, who has been active in the budding movement over the last few years to encourage Democrats to be more willing to discuss matters of faith, declined to detail the group’s plans, because she said the organization is planning an official rollout later in the month.

Nevertheless, according to a description of the group that came with the invitation to its fund-raiser tonight in which the suggested contribution is $1,000, the committee is hoping to reach out to “targeted religious communities that are key to electoral success for Senator Obama, including Catholics, moderate evangelicals, Hispanic Catholics and Protestants.”. . .

And, of course, we all remember Brian McLaren from Lambeth. (You know, I thought he was a young guy just because of his association with the emergent church movement, but he's older than I am! It reminds me of the college students of the '60's who thought they were so revolutionary and rebellious, but when you look into it, you realize that they were led by older professors and activists.)

So by appearing in a pro-Obama ad, we can only assume that Brian McLaren is comfortable with Senator Obama's position on abortion, which we have all learned more about this week [boldface mine]:
. . . When [Senator Barack] Obama was in the Illinois Senate, the Born Alive Infants bill came up three successive years.

In 2001, three bills were proposed to help babies who survived induced labor abortions. One, like the federal Born Alive Infants bill, simply said a living "homo sapiens" wholly emerged from his mother should be treated as a "'person,' 'human being,' 'child' and 'individual.'"

On all three bills, Obama voted "present," effectively the same as a "no." Defining "a pre-viable fetus" that survived an abortion as a "person" or "child," he argued, "would essentially bar abortions, because the Equal Protection Clause does not allow somebody to kill a child, and if this is a child, then this would be an anti-abortion statute."

In 2002, Obama voted "no" on the bill.

When Democrats took control of the Illinois Senate in 2003, Obama became chairman of the Health and Human Services Committee. The Born Alive Infants bill and an amendment to add exactly the language [Senator Barbara] Boxer [of California] said protected Roe in the federal bill (which President Bush had signed into law in 2002) was referred to this committee.

According to the records made by committee Republicans, the amendment to include in the Illinois bill the language Boxer said protected Roe was approved by a 10 to zero vote of the committee. (This vote, Republicans say, was a common procedural courtesy extended to the sponsoring senator.) The bill as amended was then put to a committee vote. It lost four to six, with Obama voting "no.". . .

The heart weeps. And that's all I have to say about that.

H/t to the BibleBeltBlogger.

Weekly AAC message from Bishop David Anderson, August 15

Via email, the weekly American Anglican Council message from Bishop David Anderson [boldface mine]:

Dearly Beloved in Christ,

As I reflect on the strange times we live in with regard to the Church and the Anglican Communion, I am preparing for another birthday next week. I will by year's end celebrate 64 years as an Anglican, thirty-six of them in Episcopal Church Holy Orders, and almost two years as a priest and then bishop in CANA (Nigeria), outside of TEC.

As early as 1988 I saw this conflict coming, but never imagined that it would be so worldwide or so bitter. Part of my amazement and disappointment has been with the duplicity of the current Archbishop of Canterbury, saying things in private that he has to act counter to in his public role. I could sympathize with his pain, but in reality the pain is of his own making. He can either change his mind over his privately held opinions, or he can step down from the office; either way his pain will go away. The fact that he has to espouse things publicly which the Anglican Communion is on record as believing and he secretly doesn't believe, does damage to his spirit and soul.

All of this could just be his personal burden and his personal pain, except that in looking at the decisions (and the lack of decisions) that have occurred since Dr Williams became the Archbishop of Canterbury, it is not hard to see that this personal conflict is affecting his work performance. He cannot bear to really punish the American and Canadian Churches because they are very close to where he is, though he can't say so. When the Panel of Reference failed, when the decisions of Dromantine, and Dar es Salaam, and the requirements of the September deadline were not met and we wonder why....it is because he can't bring himself to take action against those that are in fact his soul mates.

In Dr Williams' response to the controversy about the letters published last week by the Times, he stated, "In the light of recent reports based on private correspondence from eight years ago..." and then goes on to say that he still accepts the Lambeth 1.10 position. Dr Williams allowed that "In the past, as a professional theologian" he had "made some contributions" to the "study" of how the church should view homosexual relationships. This might pass muster, except for two circumstances: firstly, he wrote this most recently revealed private correspondence WHILE ARCHBISHOP OF WALES, not while in an academic ivory tower. He was then an archbishop and primate of the church, sworn to hold and uphold the beliefs taught by the Communion - just as he is now. Secondly, his work product as the primus inter pares indicates that his privately held beliefs ARE impacting his decisions about the breach of faith and discipline by America and Canada. These together nullify his claim of beliefs held only as an academic or theologian.

Attendant to that is the somewhat lengthy statement from Bishop Tom Wright of Durham, et al.: "...As bishops in the Church of England, we wish to protest in the strongest possible terms at what we regard as a gross misrepresentation of the Archbishop of Canterbury." Although they put forward five points to refute the opprobrium that came to Dr Williams attendant upon the release of the private letters, their arch collapses with their lack of proper dating of his attitudes. Their third point is a rehash of the defense that this occurred long ago when he was a theologian. They quote him in saying "that there is a difference between 'thinking aloud' as a theologian and the task of a bishop (let alone an Archbishop) to uphold the church's teaching." The problem with the third point, and hence their entire argument, is that these beliefs as made clear in the private letters were not his academic years' writings, but were communicated while holding the office of the Primate of Wales. Gentlemen, Dr Williams doesn't need your defense; he needs your collective good sense to unify his personal and public beliefs in conformity with the Anglican Communion's beliefs.

May I submit, from my own position far down the ecclesial food chain, that there is no longer theological space to be an orthodox bishop of the church and privately believe that which is contrary to what the Church teaches on core doctrine and moral discipline. To do so becomes, in the most benign situation, a form of mental illness where the individual experiences a bifurcation of mind, and in more extreme form, a spiritual illness representing a foot in each Kingdom. This time in the life of the Christian and Anglican Church calls for a clear mind aligned with and fully embracing the core teachings of the Christian faith, reformed and catholic. Full Stop.

Without seeing this as a condemnation, I would encourage readers to contemplate the truth that I am trying to describe about this conflicted situation and the pain of this bifurcation which is spreading system-wide.

Faithfully in Christ Jesus,

The Rt. Rev. David C. Anderson, Sr.
President and CEO, American Anglican Council