Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Newspeak, TEC style, or "Abortion is perfectly legal"

This is why I could not stay in the Episcopal Church.

From Stand Firm [boldface mine]:

". . . As a Christian who is privileged to be an Episcopal priest and equally privileged to be President of the New Jersey chapter of the Religious Coalition of Religious Choice, I couldn't be more proud of my church for its compassionate, pro-life stand.

Yes, I said PRO-LIFE. Even a quick read of the official position of TEC will leave no doubt that we, as a church, are supportive of the life of the embryo / fetus, the life of the mother, and the life of the family.

I am proud of my church that it, like I, and like many, many Episcopalians abhor abortion as a method of birth control - which is crystal clear after reading our position on abortion and our funding of the RCRC (let those who have ears, hear . . . and intellect, think).

I am proud of my church that we have resisted the emotionally manipulative pictures of abortion and pre-term abortion which are tragically necessitated by the harsh realities of those involved. . .

I am proud of my church that every woman - yes, including the life of a woman who is a priest, married or not, - can make the painful, awful, life-determining decision about whether or not she can make a commitment to the embryonic life she carries in her body, depending on the opinion of her physician and pediatrician, her assessment, based on the opinion of the probability of the support of the father of her potential child, and the ability of her family and community to support her decision. . .

I am proud of my church which understands that the advance of diagnostic procedures still falls far behind the information needed to make a timely decision about the lifelong commitment to a new life, necessitating the "pre-term" (aka "partial abortion"), which, at this point in time, is perfectly legal and, therefore, cannot be called "murder" - any more than the execution of a profoundly retarded person who has committed murder. . .

I am proud that The Episcopal Church supports the sex education which is championed by NCRC to avoid pregnancy in the first place, including the choices of abstinence, birth control, and, if tragically necessary, abortion.

I am proud that The Episcopal Church respects the "dignity of every human being" in our baptism covenant and prays, during that baptism, that the child receives "the gift of wonder of all of God's creation."

I am proud of The Episcopal Church and our baptismal covenant, which is not replicated throughout the World Wide Anglican Communion and, perhaps, ought to be.

What greatly distresses me is that there are those who would triumph the simplicity of their own state of sin so that others might feel guilty about the difficulty and complexity of the reality of their own morality.

Blessings,

(the Rev'd Dr) Elizabeth Kaeton"

Yes, you read that right. According to the Swan of Newark, our baptismal covenant requires that we support abortion.

Read it all. There is so much wrong with the reasoning and expression of the Rev. Kaeton that I don't even want to go there - from never using the word "baby" but only "embryo" and "fetus" to support of the RCRC to saying that since partial birth abortion is legal, it's okay - it's all too far away from what the Church universal has held and what I see in God's mercy, Christ's love, and the Holy Spirit's revelation that I can only conclude that this "reasoning" is truly evil.

(And for those who don't know, the RCRC is the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Rights Choice [oops, my bad], a political action group masquerading with a religious cover - and no, I won't link to it.)

KS: As VP debate looms: remembering Admiral Stockdale

I have to admit, this resonanted with me. I remember this debate and that I had no idea who Admiral Stockdale was - I just followed the media circus. It wasn't until years later that I learned about his record and his heroism. We need to always remember that those running for public office are not caricatures of media projection, but real people deserving our fair hearing and consideration.

From Kathy Shaidle at five feet of fury [non-italic boldface mine]:

His son writes:
Anyone over 30 will probably remember the spectacle. (...)

My father, a bona fide war hero, was trying to adapt to a format of discourse utterly foreign to him.

The debate hall was noisy, hot and nasty. My mom took a bad fall just before coming out to sit down. She, the strongest woman I know, broke into tears as she was overcome with emotion. Her four sons tried to console her.

Dad entered the race reluctantly, and only due to the deep gratitude he had for the aid Mr. Perot extended to him and my mom while he was a prisoner of war in Vietnam.

As everyone saw that evening, he was not a politician. He was a fighter-pilot ace, a Medal of Honor recipient, and a wonderful dad and human being. During his eight years as a POW, he slit his scalp and beat his face with a stool to prevent his captors from parading him in the streets for propaganda purposes. He gave starving men his food rations when he himself was starving. And at home, after his release in 1973, he was a respected leader, scholar and writer. He considered himself a philosopher.

I watched that debate too. I knew nothing about Stockdale; in fact, I don't even remember him being introduced as "Admiral". Not that that would have mattered to me. I was still a vestigal lefty, military-hating peacenik, although just barely.

I squirmed in my seat as Stockdale struggled to fit his answers into the tiny allotment of time, and the audience snickered.

Somehow, the next day, amid all the vicious mockery of Stockdale's performance, and of Perot for selecting him, I learned about the Admiral's past as a brave POW, and his current life as a college professor. Perot must have said as much in an angry post-debate interview.

That evening, my then-best friend (now my key ex-9/11 friend, as I call them) came over. She repeated all the late night talk show hosts' jokes about Stockdale, and -- to her surprise, and mine -- I exploded:
"Don't you know this guy was the leader of his fellow POWs, who kept them going all that time? Don't you know the guy teaches, like, rhetoric or something at some Ivy League college? Jesus, we complain that politicians speak in soundbites and when someone comes along who doesn't, we complain about that! "

Chastened, my friend admitted she hadn't known or thought of any of that. And why would she have? In those pre-internet days, that's just how it was for most people. . .

Some people call themselves "9/11 conservatives" but I guess I'm more a "Stockdale" conservative myself. It had nothing to do with anything Stockdale said that night -- any policy ideas or great philosophical notions (which he wasn't able to articulate in the format anyway...)

It was the reaction of kneejerk liberals and leftists to Stockdale's performance that turned me off -- just as most people join or leave religions based on [ed. not] upon apologetics and theology but upon the behaviour of other believers. . .

Read it all.

MCJ: A moment to decide

Christopher Johnson nails it [boldface mine]:

. . . To put it bluntly, if you have not left the Episcopal Organization by now, you will never leave it. If TEO’s wholesale abandonment of orthodox Christianity, its fawning prostration before the secular culture, five years worth of deceptions and lies designed to advance the interest of its Homosexual Party and the cowardly refusal of Lambeth Palace to do anything at all about any of it have not convinced you to move on, nothing ever will.

Face facts. All you are doing by remaining an Episcopalian is delaying the inevitable. This doesn’t affect my church, you tell me. My rector/bishop is impeccably orthodox. He may well be.

But bet your retirement on this; his successor will be less so and his successor even less than that. Before you realize what’s happened, you may find yourself with a rector and/or bishop who uses “Godself” in his sermons and preaches next-to nothing about sin or the Resurrection but quite a bit about whether “justice” is being done to the “LGBT community.”

This is why I hope for the sake of the Anglican tradition, that a conservative North American province is formed as soon as possible, whether or not Rowan Williams, Katharine Jefferts Schori, Fred Hiltz or anyone else approves. And conservative Anglicans should not wait for a province to be awarded to them. They should simply announce its existence.

What if my gracious lord of Canterbury calls the action “unhelpful and premature?” What if the Anglican Consultative Council is bribed by Trinity(Wall Street) jack convinced to refuse recognition to the new province? Non-recognition should change nothing.

Conservative Anglicans should immediately begin to set their own policies, call their own ”Lambeth Conferences” and issue their own statements. In other words, they should start acting as though the Archbishop of Canterbury no longer existed.

But without the Canterbury connection, these churches would no longer be Anglican. What of it? As a body, the Anglican Communion is a little more than a century old. The “apostolic” nature of the Church of England itself rests on a shaky rhetorical sleight-of-hand and the Episcopal Organization’s “historicity” is even dicier than that.

Western Anglicanism is not advancing the Gospel in any meaningful way. To those Anglicans truly interested in doing the work the Master assigned them, groups like the Episcopal Organization and the Anglican Organization of Canada are dead weights. Why not cut them loose?. . .

Read it all. I think he is absolutely right, especially identifying what will happen to those churches that think they are okay because their current rector is "orthodox."

Monday, September 29, 2008

Instapundit: Political media insight

From Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit:

A READER AT A MAJOR NEWSROOM EMAILS:
"Off the record, every suspicion you have about MSM being in the tank for O is true. We have a team of 4 people going thru dumpsters in Alaska and 4 in arizona. Not a single one looking into Acorn, Ayers or Freddiemae. Editor refuses to publish anything that would jeopardize election for O, and betting you dollars to donuts same is true at NYT, others. People cheer when CNN or NBC run another Palin-mocking but raising any reasonable inquiry into obama is derided or flat out ignored. The fix is in, and its working."

I asked permission to reprint without attribution and it was granted. . .

Read it all. I don't care which political party it is, anytime the media blatantly picks one side over the other, we as a country suffer. If the media prefaced their reports with their political prejudices (of any persuasion), I wouldn't have a problem - it's their condescending, arrogant attitude of "objectivity" that is so grating.

Burnt toast: Two observations on the recent HOB meeting

ECUSA: burnt toast
One observation from a layman and one from a bishop, both arriving at basically the same conclusion - the Episcopal Church as we knew it is toast, and burnt toast at that.

From Captain Yips [boldface mine]:

. . . And revulsion over the descent of what’s left of The Episcopal Church into mere lawless chaos. With the contrived and illicit expulsion of the Bishop of Pittsburgh, the House of Bishops, the same House that tolerates the manifold inanities of John Spong, that couldn’t bring itself to bring James Pike to account, has declared its absolute irrelevance - to anything. How the vote was contrived and excused is not terrifically important. With it, the EpiscoLeft has declared that the revolution must go forward.

I am, happily, out of TEC and won’t return. The fight in the Diocese of Chicago was lost a long time ago, probably when I was in my 20s, and when we didn’t know there was a fight on anyway. . .

Read it all.

And from Bishop Mark Lawrence of the Diocese of South Carolina [boldface mine]:
. . . Once again within a few months the landscape of The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion has changed—as if Gafcon and Lambeth were not enough. What does this deposition mean? Frankly, it is still unfolding, but I offer the following reflections:

The House of Bishops whether intentionally or not has enhanced the power of the Presiding Bishop. With consequences far beyond the deposition of The Rt. Reverend Robert Duncan, this vote by interpretation and application of Title IV.9, has established invasive reach for the PB. It is now possible for a sitting bishop of TEC to be deposed without prior inhibition or trial, rendering superfluous the role of the three Senior Bishops of the House. Beyond this is the quizzical ruling that it takes more votes from the House to receive the resignation of a retiring bishop then to depose a sitting one! Then there is the curious fact that it takes a two-thirds vote of the house to overturn a ruling of the chair, thus when combined with rendering moot the role of the senior bishops and the plain reference to a needed “majority of the whole house entitled to vote” in Title IV.9—there is enhanced power to the PB regardless of who may hold the chair, now or in the future. A development mercurial indeed, when one considers the PB and House of Bishops have repeatedly declined the authority to speak on behalf of The Episcopal Church when queried for commitments by the Communion’s Instruments of Unity; deferring instead to the authority of General Convention. . .

All of this leads me to believe that the challenges that lie before a predominately conservative diocese like South Carolina have now been enormously increased if only because of the perception of our parishioners and clergy—but, more pertinently from what I fear is a failure of the present House of Bishops to realize just how far from historic Christianity our church has drifted. To many of our minds this, far more than Pittsburgh’s present challenge to TEC’s discipline and polity, is what has led to this current crisis. Beyond this the checks and balances previously given to us in the Constitution & Canons seem profoundly weakened. Phrases long understood as clear apparently can be spoken of as ambiguous. If what appears to be the plain meaning of a canon can be dismissed with apparent ease and with no recourse; if the request from such a monumental gathering as Lambeth 2008 urging greater dialogue and forthright conversation within the body of Christ seems to count for so little here in the first action of the House—even after so many TEC bishops report being profoundly moved by the grace exhibited toward us from those provinces grieved and hindered by our prior actions; and when there seems to be so little recognition that it has been the very actions of our General Convention and HOB in recent years that has so alienated dioceses like San Joaquin, Pittsburgh and others that their laity and clergy vote in such large majorities to remove accession clauses—judicious governance and Christian unity will drain like water from an opened hand. One might have wished for a more generous spirit and greater patience toward our own aggrieved members. Indeed one has to wonder where such tone deafness and purblindness come from. . .

Read it all.
H/t to TitusOneNine.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

"Do not be anxious about anything. . ."

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

Philippians 4:6-8

Fr Menees recommends movie, "Fireproof"

I haven't seen this movie yet, but I have heard about it and plan to go.

From SanDiegoAnglicans.com:

A "two-thumbs-up" recommendation for Fireproof (out this weekend) from Fr. Eric Menees, Rector of Anglican Church of the Resurrection, San Marcos, who attended the pre-release review. If you don't already know, Fr. Menees is especially qualified to recommend to recommend a film with a first responder theme; he serves as chaplain to several emergency services groups in North County.

From an email to his parish. . .

Read it all.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Weekly message from the American Anglican Council, 9/26

Via email from Bishop David Anderson of the American Anglican Council [boldface mine]:

Dearly Beloved,

There are a number of issues to look at this week. In the United States, the financial crisis continues to deepen, with concerns about jobs, homes, and savings being an increasing topic of conversation among ordinary folks. People are not of one mind as to what the solution is, but with the people feeling uncertain, churches and charitable organizations may feel the impact of this insecurity. Another area that individuals, churches and organizations are looking at is the security and strength of their personal bank accounts, and whether the US Government provides insurance for those accounts. Some people and organizations may be thinking they have more insurance for their bank accounts than they really do. Sitting down and talking with your banker about your situation might be a good thing to do fairly soon.

I would urge churches especially to look at their financial assets, talk to their banker, and see if they need to spread their accounts over two or more banks, so that each account is fully FDIC insured. It also calls to mind the fact that we ought not to put our trust in wealth, but in the one who saves us, blesses us, and provides for our needs.

On a happier note, support for Bishop Duncan is pouring in from around the world. Of course, The Episcopal Church doesn't much care whether the Anglican World disapproves of the way she handled the situation, she would say that the rest of the world was just ignorant of the facts as she has determined them, and if they were properly briefed, they would naturally agree with her. Six English bishops have said that they continue to regard Duncan as a bishop in good standing in the Anglican Communion, and this is in addition to messages sent from all corners of the Communion.

Now the countdown is on to the Pittsburgh Diocesan Convention on October 4 - what will happen? Will Katharine Jefferts Schori attempt to intervene in the proceedings, or will she wait until the meeting is concluded to take any actions she may be planning? I suspect a great many would agree with the Rt. Rev. Colin Basley, who wrote a letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury calling for the immediate suspension of the Episcopal Church from any further participation in activities of the Anglican Communion, and calling for recognition of a new orthodox North American Anglican Province named Common Cause Partners Federation.

In many ways, the spiritual/ecclesiastical Anglican Communion meltdown is comparable to the financial meltdown in the US business world. In the latter, people bought sub-prime loans that were in effect bad paper, passed them on to others as if they were the real thing, trust was broken, and lies and deceit led to the economic ruination of many - and it isn't over yet! In the spiritual/ecclesiastical realm, church leaders in North America put together sub-prime, bogus spiritual truths, passed them on to others as if they were the real thing, persecuted those who raised the alarm, and as a result, trust has been broken, lives spiritually ruined, lies and deceit have caused many to leave their churches and reorganize in line with traditional Christian beliefs, and this is leading to the ecclesiastical ruination of many. The problem with spiritual ruination is that you might wind up in hell (yes, that place that TEC leaders don't believe in - or if it does exist, only a few of us will be in it!).

Meanwhile, the bishop of Washington DC, John Chane, has sued the Central Union Mission over their receipt of government funds to provide help for the homeless in the city. The Mission is a Christian organization, and as part of their feeding and assistance program, they require those participating to attend nightly religious services. Why is Bishop Chane attacking those who help the poor and homeless? Could it be because the Central Union Mission has provided space for an Anglican congregation associated with CANA (St. Brendan's in the City), to hold weekly Sunday evening services? The official reason that Bishop Chane claims is that government help to Central Union Mission is supposedly a violation of the US Constitution, since they require attendance at religious services.

In his opinion, the government isn't supposed to give money to churches: separation of church and state and all that, you know. However, Chane is the bishop of the Washington National Cathedral, and one wonders if the Cathedral hasn't accepted money from the government in one form or another, perhaps for major events held there, or for arts programs, or some other types of event. We know that the Washington DC police department has a police radio relay unit at the very top of the main tower of the Cathedral, and one wonders what other joint ventures the Cathedral has had with city or federal government. It may be that Bishop Chane hasn't had time to see the plank in his own eye.

Let us hope and pray that the ministry of Central Union Mission to the hungry and homeless and to those who need to find God in their lives, is able to continue unimpeded by any Chane-sponsored litigation.

Blessings and Peace in Christ Jesus,

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

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Uncommon Knowledge: Interview with Archbishop Chaput

Check out Uncommon Knowledge with Peter Robinson to see his 5-part interview with Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver, author of Render Unto Caesar (a book well worth reading)!

H/t to Judith L.

Shoe Thursday: The Gerard Manley Hopkins fall edition

Just to enjoy!
Franco Sarto Condor
Franco Sarto Flighty
Franco Sarto Magic

Spring and Fall

to a young child

MÁRGARÉT, áre you gríeving
Over Goldengrove unleaving?
Leáves, líke the things of man, you
With your fresh thoughts care for, can you?
Áh! ás the heart grows older
It will come to such sights colder
By and by, nor spare a sigh
Though worlds of wanwood leafmeal lie;
And yet you wíll weep and know why.
Now no matter, child, the name:
Sórrow’s spríngs áre the same.
Nor mouth had, no nor mind, expressed
What heart heard of, ghost guessed:
It ís the blight man was born for,
It is Margaret you mourn for.

Gerard Manley Hopkins
(English, 1844–89)

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Press, politics, and religion

From Jeff at Protein Wisdom [boldface mine]:

. . . A free society cannot run this way. If information is power, those who control the information and its mainstream dissemination are in a position to act as the most important swing vote in any election. That the press has given up, at this late stage (and despite declines in readership and public trust), any serious attempt to report objectively suggests that we are now quite immersed in a battle for the very principles of a democratic republic. Progressives have decided that the ends justify the means — that lies in the service of greater truths (as defined by their own ideology) are both pragmatic and utilitarian measures to be adopted so that “we” can finally get things “right,” and accept government from a permanent political class, a new aristocracy, that will expand the federal government in ways that will protect us from ourselves, in the process, assuring that ever new generations will be reliable upon the good graces of the federal government for their survival.

The new media held promise for fighting back. But the left recognized this immediately and built a counter balance to the MSM fact-checkers — and, in a perverse expansion of their role as foils, these progressive “netroots” are now responsible for feeding stories to the mainstream press, a further assault on the Enlightenment mandate for the free exchange of ideas, and further proof that progressives are every bit the totalitarians and would be fascists that I have long suggested they must necessarily be, given the philosophical imperatives that underwrite their political philosophy. . .

For my part, I’d just like to again reiterate that, should the press be allowed to comport itself this way under the current mythology that it is dedicated to “objectivity,” then every election will be necessarily skewed — if not by Evan Thomas’ infamous 15 percentage points, than at least by a number significant enough that it could very well be the deciding factor in every major election.

At which point, we’re dealing with no more than simulacrums of free elections, and the idea that we live in a democratic republic is but a useful fiction we tell ourselves as we slide ever more toward western European socialism and away from the principles this country was founded upon.

What’s the solution? I don’t know. But my suggestion would be either a press that surrenders the pretense of objectivity all together, or else some brave upstart looking for market share to come in with a clean slate of dedicated reporters who are taught not to “frame” facts into narratives that deliver “lessons,” but are rather instructed to report basic facts, almost genealogically — and without even the trappings of narrative.

Even then, omission and sequencing can be used to affect interpretation; but at least such things are easily recognizable when the tropes of “storytelling” are entirely removed.

Read it all. Sound familiar? Who knew politics and religion were so similar? Until you realize that for the majority of bishops in the Episcopal Church, politics and religion seem to be the same thing.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Religious leaders make mistake in meeting with Iranian President Ahmadinejad

From Jay Sekulow on Beliefnet [boldface mine]:

In an inexplicable move, some religious organizations will host a dinner reception on September 25 for one of the world's most renowned terrorist supporters, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. He has been asked to speak on the topic, "Has Not One God Created Us? The Significance of Religious Contributions to Peace." I stand with the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom in strongly condemning this move by the American Friends Service Committee, the Mennonite Central Committee, the World Council of Churches, and the Episcopal Church.

But what about the "tolerance and sincere dialogue" that Bishop Chane called for this summer, Jay? Hum? Don't you want to be part of "dialogue" like this?
. . . On May 8, [2008,] in a speech to members of the Majlis (Iran's parliament), [Ahmadinejad] referred to Israel as "a stinking corpse" and little better than "dead rats." Ahmadinejad – who says the Jewish state plays the role of "the Little Satan" to the "The Great Satan" (the U.S.) and has pledged to "wipe Israel off the map" to bring about the revelation of the "Twelfth Imam" (a messianic Shiite figure) and the worldwide dominion of Islam - promised that those who "assist the Zionist regime…will burn in fire."

Continuing Jay's concerns about the current visit by the Iranian president and the dinner party:
Ahmadinejad is a man who has repeatedly called for the annihilation of the Jewish state of Israel, rejects religious freedom, and embraces terrorism. It is well known that Ahmadinejad has called for Israel to be "wiped off the map" and is notorious for denying that the Holocaust occurred, saying of the West, "[t]hey have invented a myth that Jews were massacred."

Ahmadinejad has also warned that "[a]nybody who recognizes Israel will burn in the fire of the Islamic nation's fury."

Just recently, the Iranian Parliament voted in favor of a bill permitting the death penalty for "apostasy," i.e., voluntarily changing one's religious faith.

Under this law, "Christians, Baha'is, and even some Muslims would be vulnerable to arbitrary arrest and imprisonment. . . . [T]wo Christians from Muslim backgrounds who are currently in prison for apostasy--Mahmoud Mohammad Matin-Azad and Arash Ahmad-Ali Basirat--could be given the death sentence.". . .

Read it all, and remember the Episcopal Church is part of this.
H/t to the Anglican Curmudgeon.

Monday, September 22, 2008

A comment on the letter to Bishop Duncan from +KJS

From Stand Firm, mousestalker makes a perspicacious comment in reference to the letter sent to Bishop Duncan of Pittsburgh by Katharine Jefferts Schori [boldface mine]:

. . . A minor point, but does no one at 815 know how to write a letter anymore. When you’re being all chummy and collegial you get to use first names.

Example:

Right Reverend Frank Enbeans
Bishop of Bray, Bray City USA

Dear Frank,

It was swell seeing you at the auto de fa. I hope you can make the one in the spring. Best to Fanny and the kids,

Your sister in christ,

Katherine

For something formal, like a deposition, you write formally:

Right Reverend Robert Duncan
Bishop of Pittsburgh,

Dear Bishop Duncan,

It is my duty to inform you that the House of Bishops has deposed you. Your seat is therefore vacant and all honours, rights and privileges that formerly adhered to you are removed. Enclosed please find copies of documents showing the same.

Sincerely,

Katherine Jefferts Schori,
Presiding Bishop and Primate

End of letter writing lesson.

This is not a friendly letter. It cannot possibly be well meant. Don’t imply that it is. The Episcopal Church, as a church, has always been dodgy with its theology. I wish that were not so, but it is. What the Episcopal Church has always had until recently is manners.

The current leadership of the Episcopal Church, not just the ‘presiding bishop and primate’ but top to bottom are crass. What we have is a church being led by a bunch of louts in mitres. Ill bred, poorly educated, bad mannered thugs who have no idea of how to behave, no idea of how to treat people and no idea of the basics of human civilization.


The Presiding Bishop is the poster child for the principle that while most women have better manners than men, that is not true of all women. I doubt that teaching the episcopate proper theology would do any good. . .

Read it all. And I'm afraid mousestalker is exactly right - there is such a disconnect on how to behave, but maybe this is what we should expect as part of God's judgment on the Episcopal Church - a church that has always prided itself on doing the proper thing, or at least doing the thing properly. Now, even that veneer is gone.

Diocese of Virginia forgoes voting issue, prepares for appeal

From the Diocese of Virginia [boldface mine]:

The Episcopal Diocese of Virginia announced today that the trial scheduled to begin October 6 will focus solely on the issue of which properties occupied by the CANA congregations are actually subject to their 57-9 petitions.

Though loyal Episcopalians have expressed grave concerns about the validity and fairness of the voting procedures used by the CANA congregations, the Diocese will forgo judicial review of that process to focus on those issues that will most effectively and quickly return Episcopalians to their church homes and result in the overturning of the 57-9 "Division Statute."

The Diocese is preparing to mount a vigorous appeal that addresses the serious legal and religious questions and implications that have arisen from this unfortunate situation. The Diocese will explore fully every option available to restore constitutional and legal protections for all churches in Virginia.

In a trial beginning on October 6, the Court will examine precisely which property is subject to the Division Statute petitions filed by CANA congregations. The Court will determine several issues either before or during trial, including whether the congregation attempting to take the property actually owns the property they seek under its 57-9 petition, whether deed restrictions require the property to remain with the Episcopal Church, and, in one instance, whether a last-minute transfer of property was valid. Once these issues are decided, the Diocese will appeal the Court's rulings on the applicability and validity of the Division Statute.

"In the Episcopal Church, congregations exist because they are in communion with the bishop of a diocese, through recognition by diocesan governing bodies," said the Rt. Rev. Peter James Lee, Bishop of Virginia. "They cannot unilaterally disestablish themselves or remove themselves from a diocese, and take Episcopal property with them, using the secular court system to validate their actions."

The Diocese is steadfast in its goal of returning faithful Episcopalians to their church homes and restoring the full and time-honored protections of the First Amendment and the Virginia Constitution for religious freedom.

"The court proceedings of the past several months have shown that the Division Statute, which exists only in Virginia, is uniquely hostile to religious freedom and our faith. We are resolute in our commitment to pursue every avenue in seeking the return of Episcopalians who have been exiled from their church homes," said Bishop Lee.

The Diocese again noted the regrettable necessity of these proceedings. "While we have hoped that the CANA congregations would propose a reasonable alternative to litigation," said Henry D.W. Burt, Secretary of the Diocese, "the Church must vigorously protect the legacy of those faithful generations who have gone before for those who will follow."

Check it out.
H/t to Stand Firm.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Church of England apologises to Charles Darwin while the Vatican plans not to

A tale of two church responses.

On the one side, the Church of England (from Cranmer) [boldface mine]:

Cranmer is sick and tired of this utter nonsense. It makes the Church of England look and sound even more ridiculous that it already does - if that were possible. In the creation of a cohesive society and for the pursuit of the common good, it is conceivable that one might entertain an apology to the descendants of slaves for the role the Church played in that trade, and even to attempt some sort of bridge-building exercise with Muslims by apologising for the Crusades. But who exactly is the target audience for an apology addressed to Charles Darwin? Who is grieving for reconciliation?

Some scientists dismiss the gesture as ‘ludicrous’; Mr Darwin’s descendants describe it as ‘pointless’, and Ann Widdecombe wonders why the Italians aren’t apologising for Pontius Pilate.

The apology is written by the Rev Dr Malcolm Brown. It raises so many issues of credibility that Cranmer is at a loss to know where to begin.

Apparently, the apology is ‘for misunderstanding his theory of evolution’. Apart from the fact that the Church has historically ‘misunderstood’ far more important things, the Church of England did not actually ‘misunderstand’ Darwin’s theory at all, not least because (as always) it was divided on the issue. The bishops understood completely the significance of the nexus of the theory (and theory it remains) - that man is the progeny of apes. It really is so simple that even a bishop in the Church of England can comprehend it. Looking at the similarity between Mr Darwin and Dr Williams, it may indeed be adduced that they have a common hairy ancestor. But believers were and are divided into those who perceive this theory to be anti-Scripture and profoundly evil, and those for whom it is but another possible explanation of how God created, totally consistent with Scripture.

It is possible to be so preoccupied by atoning vicariously for the sins of one’s predecessors that one ceases to be aware of one’s personal failures and shortcomings. . .

And on the other, the Roman Catholic Church (from Reuters) [boldface mine]:
The Vatican said on Tuesday the theory of evolution was compatible with the Bible but planned no posthumous apology to Charles Darwin for the cold reception it gave him 150 years ago. ...

Archbishop Gianfranco Ravasi, the Vatican’s culture minister, was speaking at the announcement of a Rome conference of scientists, theologians and philosophers to be held next March marking the 150th anniversary of the publication of Darwin’s “The Origin of Species”. ...

Maybe we should abandon the idea of issuing apologies as if history was a court eternally in session,” he said, adding that Darwin’s theories were “never condemned by the Catholic Church nor was his book ever banned”.

Now, which approach seems the most sensible to you?

I know which one I'm voting for! What a great sentence: Maybe we should abandon the idea of issuing apologies as if history was a court eternally in session. I think I'll memorize that - I'm sure it will come in handy at some time.

Episcopal Church ‘in the clear’ after Lambeth

From George Conger:

There will be no consequences to the American church for its push for gay bishops and blessings, bishops attending the opening session of the US House of Bishops meeting in Salt Lake City said in closed door session on Sept 17.

On the opening day of the three-day special session, called by Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori to discuss the 2008 Lambeth Conference, but amended on Sept 12 by the Presiding Bishop to act upon her motion to depose conservative leader Pittsburgh Bishop Robert Duncan, the bishops offered their reactions to Lambeth.

Read it all.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Steve Wood (S.C.) and the Presiding Bishop

From Steve Wood of the Diocese of South Carolina, thoughts on his recent meeting with the presiding bishop and six other rectors:

What I think:

I think that the financial challenges facing the reorganization of the National Church offices could be addressed with a return to creedal Christianity and a cessation of the lawsuits.

I think that the conservative/re-asserting remnant will get their legislative clocks cleaned at General Convention 2009.

I think that B033 is going to be repealed at General Convention 2009.

I think that the marriage (in States where the legislature or courts have ruled this legal) or blessing of same-sex persons will be authorized at General Convention 2009.

I think that the 2009 General Convention will modify the “Dennis Canon”, giving the National Church property ownership (it’s hard to remember that until 1979 PARISHES “owned” their property - not the Diocese or National Church).

I think that many in leadership at the 2009 General Convention will be content to walk apart from the Anglican Communion.

I think that based on the experience with women’s ordination the 2009 General Convention will debate, and defeat, a “conscious clause” with regard to same-sex ordinations and blessings/marriages.

I think that the above actions will render it impossible for anyone left from “my side” to remain within TEC (though, of course, some will).

What I hope:

That a new North American Anglican Province is formed in the very near future.

Read it all.

Michelangelo's David 'at risk of collapse' because of traffic and visitors

We went to Italy over Thanksgiving two years ago, and of course did the Florence tour and saw the David. I hope they don't have to put it under a protective cover - how sad.

From the Times Online (U.K.):

Four years after it was last cleaned and repaired Michelangelo's statue of David in Florence is "at risk of collapse", according to a restoration expert.

Antonio Borri, professor of construction engineering at Perugia University and part of the team monitoring the statue's state of conservation, said that cracks which been repaired during a 2004 restoration marking the 500th anniversary of the statue's creation had re-appeared.

A seminar in Florence tomorrow will discuss the options for saving the statue, which is kept at the Galleria dell Accademia and attracts more than a million people a year. These include enclosing it in a protective covering to stop further deterioration and even closing it to the public altogether for a period.

Professor Borri, who is a Florentine, said that the cracks had "re-opened one by one. David is coming apart". He said the blame lay with traffic vibrations and the pressure of thousands of daily visitors. Michelangelo's masterpiece — held by many to be the most perfect representation of the nude male form ever sculpted — was also vulnerable because of its huge size and the poor quality of marble Michelangelo used, Professor Borri said.

He said that the statue was under "round the clock observation", and seismic monitors would be inserted under the statue's base to measure the vibrations. "We have got to do something quickly," he said. However Cristina Acidini, head of museums in Florence, played down the alarm.

Professor Acidini said: "We are evaluating what measures to take to protect the statue in view of its known fragility", but there was "no cause for immediate concern". The statue was being constantly monitored, and the only danger of collapse would be if Florence was struck by an unusually powerful earthquake. "But in that case the museum itself would be at risk, together with much of Florence's artistic heritage.". . .
Read it all.

Commentary on the HOB: The day the music died. . .

From Hills of the North:

. . . That said, for all intents and purposes the Episcopal Church as a church died yesterday. In purporting to depose Bishop Robert Duncan, two-thirds of those bishops who attended the House of Bishops meeting did something so blatantly and brazenly unlawful under the canons and so patently violative of Robert's Rules that they in effect announced that within our church words and laws and truth no longer matter. All that matters is power. Not the power of the Gospel, mind you--but raw human secular power, exercised for political purposes. Those bishops who voted to depose (and the one cowardly Judas who changed his vote after being sure it wasn't needed to destroy his brother bishop) openly and proudly embraced what was a lie--that there had been abandonment of Communion--and did so by embracing transparent lies about what the canons and parliamentary procedure actually said. Those charged to guard the truth yesterday gleefully showed their fealty to the very opposite. . .

Years from now, this action by the House of Bishops may well prove to have been a tipping point for the Episcopal Church. There are many for whom this will be the final straw, not because they have any association or necessarily even agreement with Bishop Duncan, but because it reveals what a corrupt organization they find themselves a part of. Others will realize that they cannot any longer do business with (and certainly not follow) those for whom words are meaningless, law is nothing more than an instrument of power, and truth is nonexistent. And still others will leave weary of the fight, and yearning for spiritual refreshment they cannot get from what is now indisputably a secular organization (and actually something less than most secular organizations, since few could abide such dishonesty in their leaders). In short, the exodus of the orthodox will continue and likely accelerate. This is likely exactly what the Presiding Bishop and her minions want, as they undoubtedly believe that if all the retrograde evangelicals and Anglo-Catholics would just go away, there's no limit to the greatness a progressive Episcopal Church can achieve. The evidence, of course, has been quite to the contrary, but perhaps the accelerating membership loss will help put the lie to this fantasy. . .

Finally, it's worth considering what difference yesterday's events will have in an average Episcopal Church, ones such as our two parishes here. I think it's plain enough that there will be little if any effect in the short run. The chances that even a half-dozen parishioners knew the House of Bishops was meeting is pretty small, and fewer still probably have any idea who Robert Duncan is. What happened doesn't affect the work the altar guild has to do, or the music the choir is rehearsing. It doesn't affect a parish's social outreach. It doesn't change the liturgy (yet), or alter the service times. Certainly it won't occasion the interest of reorienting the furnishings in the church, or getting a new stained glass window. If the Presiding Bishop is betting on the ignorance or nonchalance of the average pew dweller, she is making a pretty sure bet.

That's not to say there won't be an effect eventually, and a pretty potent one. The average age of those in Episcopal Church pews is high and increasing, and it's not as if the average Episcopal Church is full of children and young people and young families. There's a reason churches all around ours are opening and growing, and ours are at best in a steady state, despite population growth. And the trajectory to which the larger Episcopal Church is now committed is not one that is likely to spur growth or giving. In time that will affect the average parish church, and the average parish church here. And some years from now when we wonder why our numbers are down, and why people aren't pledging, and why no new families are joining, and how this all happened, we will be able to point to the House of Bishops meeting of September 18, 2008, as the day our church, as a church, died.

Read it all.
H/t to Stand Firm.

Statements on Bishop Robert Duncan — updated

For the most comprehensive round-up on the HOB actions against Bishop Robert Duncan of Pittsburgh and world-wide reaction to those actions, check out TitusOneNine!

British ethicist: Senile should be “put down”

From Ed Morrissey at HotAir [boldface mine]:

In yet another revealing moment for nationalized health care, a highly respected British ethicist said that dementia sufferers should get euthanized in order to preserve resources for healthier people. Baroness Warnock, described as “Britain’s leading moral philosopher”, said that the government should license people to be “put down” and stop being a drain on society:
The veteran Government adviser said pensioners in mental decline are “wasting people’s lives” because of the care they require and should be allowed to opt for euthanasia even if they are not in pain.

She insisted there was “nothing wrong” with people being helped to die for the sake of their loved ones or society.

The 84-year-old added that she hoped people will soon be “licensed to put others down” if they are unable to look after themselves. …

Lady Warnock said: “If you’re demented, you’re wasting people’s lives – your family’s lives – and you’re wasting the resources of the National Health Service.

“I’m absolutely, fully in agreement with the argument that if pain is insufferable, then someone should be given help to die, but I feel there’s a wider argument that if somebody absolutely, desperately wants to die because they’re a burden to their family, or the state, then I think they too should be allowed to die.

“Actually I’ve just written an article called ‘A Duty to Die?’ for a Norwegian periodical. I wrote it really suggesting that there’s nothing wrong with feeling you ought to do so for the sake of others as well as yourself.

Shocking? It shouldn’t be. When the State has the burden of providing “free” medical care, that care will get rationed in ways that are, unfortunately, all too predictable. Human life stops being sacred and instead becomes a commodity with a balance sheet. If bureaucrats decide that a particular life, or a class of life, has become a net negative, then eventually they will find ways to eliminate the liability.

Totalitarian governments have always worked this way; the shock comes from the same impulse occuring in supposedly enlightened democracies. We’re seeing a new kind of government these nanny states, though — a democratic totalitarianism that makes all of the choices for its subjects after they willingly give the bureaucracy the power of life and death over them. It’s a voluntary totalitarianism, and it starts by assigning government the role of caretaker from cradle to grave, the latter point coming at their choosing.

Western civilization built itself on the sanctity of human life and the rights of the individual. It doesn’t take much for Westerners to give up that birthright. The only incentive for voluntary slavery appears to be low-cost prescriptions and catastrophic hospital coverage. Once we buy into that system, all manner of personal choices get removed: the foods you can eat, the beverages you can drink, your pastimes, and apparently your right not to be murdered just to clear a hospital bed. . .

Read it all.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

AnglicanTV: Interview with Bishop Robert Duncan of Pittsburgh

From Kevin at AnglicanTV, an interview with Bishop Robert Duncan of the Diocese of Pittsburgh:

You are welcome to embed this in your blog/website. However, you must credit AnglicanTV with a hyperlink.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Did I mention that I've left the Episcopal Church. . .

And this is one reason why:

“Today’s decision was difficult and emotional but a necessary action to care for the order of the Church, the people of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh, and the collegiality of the House of Bishops.”

Bishop James Mathes of San Diego commenting on today's uncanonical and despicable action by the Episcopal House of Bishops, meeting this week.

‘Objectivist’ writer: Trig Palin a financial burden who should have been aborted

From Newsbusters:

In stunningly self-centered, cruel fashion, Nicholas Provenzo, writer for the Center for the Advancement of Capitalism suggests that Sarah Palin’s decision to give birth to a child with Down Syndrome, is a financial burden that others are forced to suffer with.

Provenzo, who has written opinion pieces for the Washington Times, Capitalism Magazine, and the Atlanta Journal Constitution, as well as being a guest on Bill Maher’s former show, Politically Incorrect, makes his case for “the morality of aborting a fetus diagnosed with Down syndrome.”

The full first paragraph of the piece which is circulating amidst the blogosphere reads (emphasis mine):
Like many, I am troubled by the implications of Alaska governor and Republican Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin's decision to knowingly give birth to a child disabled with Down syndrome. Given that Palin's decision is being celebrated in some quarters, it is crucial to reaffirm the morality of aborting a fetus diagnosed with Down syndrome (or by extension, any unborn fetus)—a freedom that anti-abortion advocates seek to deny.

Morally justifiable reasons for killing a baby? There is no justifiable reason for taking any child's life, and to call it a moral obligation to society is undeniably one of the more disgusting things to be written by a human being, about another human being.

In fact, advocating the abortion of a child based on the potential of that child having a disease or imperfection of some kind raises echoes of Nazi Germany’s quest for an Aryan race.

The suggestion that another life should be ended based on the presence of an extra chromosome, and that another healthy individual’s own life is more precious because of that, is over the top narcissism.

Maybe this shouldn’t surprise quite so much. After all, it wasn’t too long ago that sick individuals were offering up baby Trig on ebay. We live in a society where skeptics simply can't admire someone who stands on their principals. They must tear them down by insinuating that such a move is merely a political prop. Or, in this case, they argue that choosing life was actually a selfish move. A stunning argument to say the least.

However, Mr. Provenzo demonstrates his own level of selfishness in his rant. He doesn’t go the typical route of the pro-choice crowd, but reveals some very bizarre reasoning for why it is Palin’s obligation to have killed her baby boy. . .

Read it all. All I can think of to do is to pray for Mr. Provenzo - what a sad life.

Pro-life groups finally able to buy ads on Google after Google policy changes

From the Times (U.K.):

Christian and other religious groups opposed to abortion were allowed to advertise on Google for the first time from today, after the search engine capitulated in the face of a legal challenge.

Google had banned pro-life religious groups from buying adverts against search terms such as “abortion” and “abortion help” but was forced to abandon its policy after it was accused of breaching equalities legislation.

The challenge was brought by the Christian Institute, a cross-denominational pressure group, who said that Google’s change of heart was an acknowledgement of the rights of everybody to hold an opinion on the subject.

Mike Judge from the Christian Institute said: “Google were taking adverts from pro-abortion groups, and our view is that was a free speech issue. What we want to do is set out the acts in a pretty factual and pretty sensible way”.

Google had been taken to court by the Christian Institute earlier in the year, arguing that its policy was in breach of the Equalities Act of 2006. Initially, Google said it would fight in the courts, but changed its mind over the summer. Its new policy applies globally.

Acknowledging that the issue of abortion was “an emotive subject”, Google said that it reconsidered its policy following the Christian Institute’s challenge, and said it would be “creating a level playing field and enabling religious associations to place ads on abortion in a factual way”.

However, it was unclear how Google would define the introduction of factual advertising. . .

Read it all. This is very scary to me, as Google grows to control more and more of the content available.

Remember, Google's motto is (the very 1984) "Do no evil." They can say it, but if they don't do it, it means nothing. (And don't forget their capitulation to the Chinese Communist government in banning certain search words in China, for instance "Tiananmen.") Never forget, Google is a business with a decided secular corporate leadership.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Province VIII of the Episcopal Church meets (includes California)

From the Province VIII website [boldface mine]:

Province VIII representatives, who gathered Sept. 10-11 for their regular business meeting near San Francisco, also prepared for next July's General Convention by sharing the stories of their lives.

About 75 bishops, clergy and laity elected officers, approved a $560,000 triennial budget and celebrated the establishment of new ministries. They were also the first provincial leaders to participate in the public narrative project, expected to frame a mission conversation at the national governing convention in Anaheim, California.

The Rev. John "Jack" Eastwood, re-elected for a second term as provincial president, encouraged attendees also to "go back to their dioceses and tell the story of the province … of sharing a Pentecost vision of unity by doing together in faith what we cannot do alone."

Since the last triennium, provincial leaders have reduced administrative expenses significantly, while increasing program costs nearly two-fold to about $100,000, Eastwood told the gathering. . .

The Rev. Gregory Straub, Secretary of Convention and Bonnie Anderson, President of the House of Deputies, joined the gathering for a General Convention orientation session and public narrative training workshop.

Public narrative is a leadership art that can be used by members of the Episcopal Church to articulate individual and collective stories as well as the call to action emerging from those stories and communities, according to Anderson. It connects with the convention theme, "ubuntu … I am because you are" which recognizes interdependence with one another.

"Today we are the place where the pebble is thrown into the pond. Today we begin a journey to General Convention; we will learn a technique for having that conversation," Anderson told the gathering.

She described public narrative as a "tool to build bridges to relationships, relationships to each other" which grew out of a General Convention 2006 resolution (D043). The training will be offered to all provincial synods prior to July 8, when the 76th General Convention convenes.

Well-known musician Fran McKendree offered music and the gathering warmly greeted participants from the continuing Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin, all of whom were "first-time" deputies to General Convention, according to the Rev. Mark Hall, diocesan canon to the ordinary.

"We represent about 1,500 people and 19 parishes and missions," he said, amid applause and a standing ovation. . .

Elected to the provincial court of review were: Bishop Barry Beisner of Northern California; the Rev. Ernest Cockrell (El Camino Real); and the Rev. Canon Kent McNair (Northern California) and the Rev. John Scannell (Oregon). Laity elected to the board of review were: Michael Dotten (Oregon); Donald Mullins (Olympia) and Miles Snyder (Northern California).

The dioceses included in Province VIII are: Alaska, Arizona, California, Eastern Oregon, El Camino Real (California), Hawaii, Idaho, Los Angeles, Navajoland Area Mission, Nevada, Northern California, Olympia, Oregon, San Diego, San Joaquin, Spokane, Taiwan and Utah.

Read it all.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

The Chief Kaitiff plans a purge

If you want to understand what's going on with Bishop Robert Duncan in Pittsburgh, head over the the Anglican Curmudgeon and read, read, read:

Regular readers of this site will not be surprised by the announcement from the Presiding Bishop of her intentions to bring a resolution to depose the Rt. Rev. Robert Duncan of Pittsburgh at the forthcoming fall meeting of the House of Bishops at Salt lake City. (A big tip of the Rumpolean bowler to Greg Griffith at StandFirm for making it available in advance.)

What may yet come as a surprise to some, however, is the brazenness with which the Presiding Bishop has laid out her plans in advance. She is without shame: she has announced to the House of Bishops, five days ahead of their meeting, the parliamentary rulings she will make on the canonical objections to proceeding with the resolution, and she lays out her specious, the-end-justifies-the-means reading of Canon IV.9 so there can be no mistake. (I had predicted such rulings would be made, but at the meeting itself---not five days in advance! I hope there will be some stalwart bishops present who will make the only response to such tyranny that can be made, and who by their departure will deprive those remaining of a quorum.)

The Presiding Bishop is a tyrant in episcopal garb. The tragedy is that she is aided and abetted in this power grab by so many Episcopal jurists, who now must be dubbed "soi-disant jurists."

(An aside: Up until now on this blog, I have striven to maintain the utmost civility and respect toward the Presiding Bishop, always addressing her by her proper title and name. With this latest dastardly and cowardly ukaze from her hand, however, I am forced to join the ranks of so many others who have lost their respect for her. From this point forward, I shall address her as: "The Chief Kaitiff of The Episcopal Church.")

The Chief Kaitiff first attempts to justify her crime against Canon IV.9 by summoning the support of her soi-disant jurists. . .

Read it all.

Bishop Gene Robinson breaks ranks and backs Barack Obama for president **Corrected**

Correction: I took the headline from George Conger's blog and didn't notice that Barack Obama's first name is spelled wrong there [Barak], so I've corrected it above.

Original: "Separation of church and state" for thee, but not for me.

From George Conger [boldface mine]:

The Bishop of New Hampshire has broken with tradition and endorsed a candidate for political office. In a letter published on “LGBT for Obama,” a website that states it serves as the “lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community’s online campaign to educate voters on John McCain’s anti-gay policies” Bishop Gene Robinson called on all LGBT voters to “put our differences and disappointments aside, and get behind the one candidate who has our interests at heart.”

On Sept 4 Bishop Robinson wrote LGBT voters were “faced with the most stark choice in recent memory, with ramifications for our community like no other. If nothing else convinces you to vote for Barack Obama, surely the likelihood of the next president appointing one, two, or possibly even three Supreme Court justices should do it.”. . .

Bishop Robinson said that the election of John McCain would lead to the packing of the US Supreme Court with justices that would rule against the recognition of gay marriages. “With Barack Obama, we have someone who is utterly sympathetic to our full and equal rights as citizens.”

He added that while Senator Obama “won’t say he’s for equal marriage rights” Bishop Robinson knew from his “own private conversations with him that he is totally in our court. I believe him, and I trust him, not to throw us under the bus when the election is over.”

Read it all.

Friday, September 12, 2008

A future for traditional values within the Anglican Communion

An article by Bishop Martyn Minns, CANA, in the Washington Post:

At this juncture in our nation's history, it is vitally important that we separate the values that are worth fighting for from those that are simply matters of cultural preference. There are values that are universal and non-negotiable. I find them in the Bible and they have shaped my life.

It is in the Bible where you will discover the truth that every human life is of inestimable worth. You will find that God created marriage - one man and one woman for life. This is not some social arrangement that we can redesign at will; it is part of God's design for humanity.

However, for about the past forty years I belonged to a church that no longer advocates these values. In fact, it is attempting to deliberately replace our core values with some of the latest cultural whims.

That church is The Episcopal Church. It still has remnants of its rapidly fading prestige, but its current leadership seems to have lost its way and it has caused a major rift in the Anglican Communion.

The division within the Communion has been widespread and unbelievably painful. About half of the 38 provinces are in broken or impaired relationships. Dozens of dioceses are in disarray and hundreds of churches and millions of people have been negatively impacted by this fracture in our common life.

Here in the U.S., hundreds of clergy and congregations have come to the conclusion that, as a matter of conscience, they must separate from The Episcopal Church. This has produced a spiteful backlash from church leadership with reprisals against clergy and lay leaders and dozens of punitive lawsuits.

The lawsuits are a costly distraction at a time when there is a desperate need for articulate Christians to do the work of the Gospel and engage in the important debates confronting our nation. What is tragic is that a church that so often rails against the intolerance of biblical fundamentalism has now become aggressively intolerant towards those with whom they disagree. . .

Read it all.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Bishop MacBurney issues an apology

From the Living Church [boldface mine]:

The Rt. Rev. Edward H. MacBurney, retired Bishop of Quincy, and Wicks Stephens, his lawyer, have reached an agreement under which Bishop MacBurney voluntarily submitted to discipline.

Last January, the Title IV [disciplinary] Review Committee issued a presentment against Bishop MacBurney for allegedly leading a service of confirmation at a congregation which had left the Diocese of San Diego in order to join the Anglican Church of the Southern Cone in South America. Bishop MacBurney was subsequently inhibited, or prohibited, from functioning in any way as a priest or bishop, pending an ecclesiastical trial which had been scheduled to be held in November.

In her “Sentence Upon Voluntary Submission to Discipline” dated Sept. 9, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori removed the inhibition against Bishop MacBurney and admonished him “not to repeat the actions which caused the presentment to be brought against him.” She also directed him to apologize “in writing to the Bishop of San Diego for not respecting his authority as the bishop of that diocese.”

Bishop James Mathes of San Diego, who originally had brought the complaint against Bishop MacBurney, said he was satisfied with the outcome. The process “held a bishop of the church accountable to his colleagues and this was a good thing,” Bishop Mathes told Episcopal News Service. He said Bishop MacBurney’s willingness to apologize for his actions “provided us a way to provide forgiveness.”

In an interview with a reporter for The Living Church, Mr. Stephens said that the sentence conformed to the terms which were agreed to before the voluntary submission was made adding that Bishop MacBurney is fully restored as a retired member of the House of Bishops, meaning he can again perform priestly and episcopal functions with the permission of the local diocesan bishop.

“I’m sure there are a number of diocesan bishops who would want to have an Anglo-Catholic bishop come and minister,” Mr. Stephens said. “This was a practical means of bringing him back.”. . .

Read it all.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Presiding Bishop removes MacBurney's inhibition after retired bishop apologizes

From EpiscopalLife Online [boldface mine]:

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has removed the inhibition she placed in April on retired Episcopal Diocese of Quincy Bishop Edward MacBurney.

In a September 9 order, Jefferts Schori said that MacBurney had voluntarily submitted to discipline (Canon IV.2(9) and (10)) over a presentment which the Title IV Review Committee issued on Jan. 24, 2008.

Diocese of San Diego Bishop Jim Mathes, who originally asked for MacBurney to be disciplined because he conducted unauthorized confirmations in San Diego, told ENS September 10 that the order and discipline of the church had been "maintained and in some way enhanced by this process."

"Bishop MacBurney's decision is the result of my efforts and those of others to find a non-judicial outcome to an unfortunate event," Mathes said September 10 in his weekly email to diocesan clergy. "Today, the order of our church and the collegiality of the House of Bishops have been enhanced."

The process "held a bishop of the church accountable to his colleagues and this was a good thing," Mathes told ENS.

"I grateful to Bishop MacBurney for his role in this," Mathes said, explaining that MacBurney's willingness to apologize for his actions "provided us a way to provide forgiveness."

Jefferts Schori's September 9 order admonishes MacBurney to not make any other such visits and to apologize in writing to Mathes "for not respecting his authority as Bishop of that Diocese.". . .


Read it all.

Trig's breakthrough

From Michael Gerson at the Washington Post [boldface mine]:

. . . Trig's moment in the spotlight is a milestone of that movement. But it comes at a paradoxical time. Unlike what is accorded African Americans and women, civil rights protections for people with Down syndrome have rapidly eroded over the past few decades. Of the cases of Down syndrome diagnosed by prenatal testing each year, about 90 percent are eliminated by abortion. Last year the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommended universal, early testing for Down syndrome -- not just for older pregnant women. Some expect this increased screening to reduce the number of Down syndrome births to something far lower than the 5,500 we see today, perhaps to fewer than 1,000.

The wrenching diagnosis of 47 chromosomes must seem to parents like the end of a dream instead of the beginning of a life. But children born with Down syndrome -- who learn slowly but love deeply -- are generally not experienced by their parents as a curse but as a complex blessing. And when allowed to survive, men and women with an extra chromosome experience themselves as people with abilities, limits and rights. Yet when Down syndrome is detected through testing, many parents report that genetic counselors and physicians emphasize the difficulties of raising a child with a disability and urge abortion.

This is properly called eugenic abortion -- the ending of "imperfect" lives to remove the social, economic and emotional costs of their existence. And this practice cannot be separated from the broader social treatment of people who have disabilities. By eliminating less perfect humans, deformity and disability become more pronounced and less acceptable. Those who escape the net of screening are often viewed as mistakes or burdens. A tragic choice becomes a presumption -- "Didn't you get an amnio?" -- and then a prejudice. And this feeds a social Darwinism in which the stronger are regarded as better, the dependent are viewed as less valuable, and the weak must occasionally be culled. . .

Read it all.

Statement on Proposition 8 by Episcopal bishops in California

Yes, +Lamb signed it, and for those of us in San Diego, +Mathes did, too, unfortunately.

Proposition 8, on the ballot in November, would amend the California Constitution to clarify that marriage is only between one man and one woman. This would reverse the California Supreme Court decision of earlier this year that recognized same-sex marriage. A short history of the definition of marriage in California:

In 1977 the California legislature explicitly defined marriage as a legal tie between a man and a women. The pertinent text is: "Marriage is a personal relation arising out of a civil contract between a man and a woman, to which the consent of the parties capable of making that contract is necessary." (Family Code Sec. 300.) This status quo position was strengthened in March 2000 when voters passed Proposition 22, an initiative statute which states: "Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California." (Family Code Sec. 308.5.) The vote for the initiative was 61.4% to 38.6%.

Yes, Prop. 22 passed 61% to 39%, yet our overlords know better than we do, so the California Supreme Court earlier this year recognized the "right" of those in same-sex relationships to marry.

And this leads us to this recent statement by the bishops of the Episcopal Church in California (always ready to impress us with their theology and reassure us that they are not being political - okay, sarcasm off) [boldface mine and I've added some editorial comments]:
As Episcopal Bishops of California, we are moved [ed.-by whom? The Holy Spirit? didn't think so] to urge voters to vote "No" on Proposition Eight. Jesus calls us to love rather than hate, to give rather than to receive, to live into hope rather than fear. On Tuesday, November 8th, voters in California will be given the opportunity to vote for or against Proposition Eight, which would amend the state's constitution to reserve marriage as only between a man and a woman. Since the California Supreme Court's ruling in May that civil marriage should be provided to all of the state's citizens whether the genders of the couple are different or the same, faithful gays and lesbians have entered into marriage as the principle way in which they show their love, devotion and life-long commitment to each other. Furthermore, marriage provides these couples the same legal rights and protections that heterosexual couples take for granted.

Proposition Eight would reverse the court's decision and withdraw a right given. Proponents of Proposition Eight have suggested that this amendment to the Constitution would protect marriage. We do not believe that marriage of heterosexuals is threatened by same-sex marriage. [ed.-What say you, +Beisner?] Rather, the Christian values of monogamy, commitment, love, mutual respect and witness of monogamy are enhanced for all by providing this right to gay and straight alike [ed.-and what is so magic about the number 2? Can't three people have these same values?]. Society is strengthened when two people who love each other choose to enter into marriage, engaged in a lifetime of disciplined relationship building that serves as a witness to the importance of love and commitment.

As bishops, we are not of one mind regarding how our Church's clergy should participate with the State in same-sex marriage. Some of us believe it is appropriate to permit our clergy to officiate at such marriages and pronounce blessings over the union; others of us believe that we should await consent of our General Convention before permitting such actions. Nevertheless, we are adamant that justice demands that same-sex civil marriage continue in our state and advocate voting "No" on Proposition Eight. [ed.-and we have now put the Episcopal Church in California outside of all other Christian faiths - but, hey, we still call ourselves part of the "catholic" church, so it must be true!]

General Convention 2006 in Columbus passed Resolution A095 that said, "Resolved, the House of Deputies concurring, That the 75th General Convention reaffirm the Episcopal Church's historical support of gay and lesbian persons as children of God and entitled to full civil rights; and be it further Resolved, That the 75th General Convention reaffirm the 71st General Convention's action calling upon municipal council, state legislatures and the United States Congress to approve measures giving gay and lesbian couples protection[s] such as: bereavement and family leave policies; health benefits; pension benefits; real-estate transfer tax benefits; and commitments to mutual support enjoyed by non-gay married couples and be it further Resolved, That the 75th General Convention oppose any state or federal constitutional amendment that prohibits same-sex civil marriage or civil unions."

We believe that continued access to civil marriage for all, regardless of sexual orientation [ed.-or number or consanguinity or age, etc., etc.], is consistent with the best principles of our constitutional rights. We believe that this continued access promotes Jesus' ethic of love, giving, and hope.

The Rt. Rev. Marc Handley Andrus, Bishop of California
The Rt. Rev. Barry L. Beisner, Bishop of Northern California
The Rt. Rev. J. Jon Bruno, Bishop of Los Angeles
The Rt. Rev. Mary Gray-Reeves, Bishop of El Camino Real
The Rt. Rev. Jerry A. Lamb, Provisional Bishop of San Joaquin
The Rt. Rev. James R. Mathes, Bishop of San Diego

Many believe that Proposition 8 will pass, and same-sex marriage will no longer be legal in California. I am not so sanguine.

Unless and until those in favor of Prop 8 present secular reasons for opposing same-sex marriage, of which there are plenty (here for a start), many voters will feel that they are being "judgmental" or "mean" or "unfair" or "too religious" to, at this point, take away something. Once the California Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage, it enabled those for it to now present Prop. 8 as something removing rights, which a lot of people automatically vote against.

I think there's a lot of work on education and legal ramifications that needs to be done here, or California voters will reject Prop. 8 and same-sex marriage will remain legal - and as California goes, so goes the nation.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Episcopal bishops join effort to defeat true marriage in California **Link update**

From LifeSiteNews.com [boldface mine]:

The Episcopal Church in California is taking up arms against Proposition 8, an amendment that would change the California constitution to preserve the integrity of marriage as being between one man and one woman. In the process the U.S. branch of the Anglican Communion is clashing with a huge interfaith coalition, including Christians, Jews, Muslims, Mormons, Hindus and Sikhs, which is simultaneously launching a campaign to promote the proposition.

Voters will have an opportunity on the 2008 California General Election ballot in November to support Proposition 8, which will reinforce the wishes of 61% of California voters who supported true marriage in 2000. The California State Supreme Court overturned the popular vote earlier this year by legalizing same-sex "marriage," outraging Californians who complained that a handful of activist judges managed to hijack the democratic process.

But the bishops of the Episcopal Church in California have joined the ranks of those working against Proposition 8. All six bishops in the state will officially protest the traditional marriage amendment, according to the Sacramento Bee. The Right Rev. Marc Handley Andrus, Episcopal Bishop of California, will hold a press conference at San Francisco's Grace Cathedral on Wednesday to represent the church's position, "calling for compassion, love and equal protections" for homosexual couples.

Last month Rev. Andrus, commenting upon the international Lambeth Conference of Anglican leaders, had praised the many gay and lesbian activists present for "coming to a place where...there were significant negative places of negative energy aimed at them."

Rev. Andrus will be joined by the Right Rev. Steven Charleston, Assisting Bishop of California, the Right Rev. Barry Beisner, Episcopal Bishop of Northern California, as well as other California Episcopal bishops, clerics and laypeople. Rev. Charleston, when asked whether he would yield to a call from the leaders of the worldwide Anglican Communion to return to traditional marriage values, said that he "would accept schism" rather than abandon the homosexual agenda.

In contrast, a large number of faith communities in California have publicly united in avid support of Proposition 8, and are warning voters that the continued dominance of homosexual "rights" in California law will inevitably lead to the marginalization of religious rights. The Orthodox Union (O.U.), one of the largest Orthodox Jewish organizations in the United States, points out that what appears to be freedom for homosexuals in fact means that religious people will ultimately incur the penalty of law for voicing any public opposition to the homosexualist agenda. "Religious institutions and people face charges of bigotry and could be denied government funding and more if same-sex marriage becomes the law of the land," said the O.U. in a statement. (See http://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2008/sep/)

Although the California Supreme Court has assured religious objectors that same-sex "marriages" would not "impinge upon the religious freedom of any religious organization," many recall historical precedent that prove that the courts tend to define "religious freedom" very narrowly when such freedom has been viewed as a possible offense against recognized civil rights. (See L.A. Times article "Will Gay Rights Trample Religious Freedom?" www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2008/sep/) Accordingly, members of religious communities across California have banded together to support Proposition 8 in an interfaith political advertising campaign on a scale unsurpassed in California's history. . .

Read it all. One note - I have been unable to find the article cited above in the Sacramento Bee - it doesn't come up in Google and a search at the Bee website doesn't bring it up either, so I'm not sure what's going on there. If anyone can find the original article, please post the link in the comments.
H/t to Stand Firm.

UPDATE: Thanks to Kevin, here's the Sacramento Bee link.

Monday, September 08, 2008

American Anglican Council weekly message, Sept. 5

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

Beloved in Christ,

In the United States, there is high interest in what will happen at the TEC House of Bishops meeting in late September. Will Presiding Bishop Katherine Jefferts Schori heed advice being given her and leave Bishop Duncan alone for the time being, or will she proceed with her deposition plans for him? If she tries to depose him based on what he might do in the future, will she succeed or fail? Also, will the fact that the dioceses of Pittsburgh, Fort Worth and Quincy are all poised to take votes in their respective Diocesan Conventions with regard to separation from the Episcopal Church affect the proceedings?

Presiding Bishop Schori seems to have only one response to crises and that is to invoke the names of "Dewey, Sue'm & Howe" and commence litigation. We would suggest to her a great little book called "Getting to Yes" which might offer a few more options in conflict situations. If Bishop Schori opens up too much litigation all at once she may find herself in the same position that some nations have been - fighting in too many theatres of battle at once and unable to maintain adequate material and resources for each one. If she thinks she can use the trust fund reserve or the pension fund, she should look down the hall to the picture of Ellen Cooke, former TEC treasurer, who was sent to the "time out" box for just such actions.

North of the border in Canada, things are tense as the Anglican Church of Canada in the Diocese of New Westminster continues its assault on the orthodox Anglicans occupying their own property. The attacks by TEC and the Anglican Church of Canada on faithful Anglican believers continue unabated in courtrooms across the North American continent.

In the US, most of the churches that TEC is suing are still able to occupy their buildings and hold services while litigation is underway, whereas in Canada several churches have effectively been thrown out onto the curb, pending full trial. Cheryl Chang, a lawyer and legal director for the churches, reported that the judge "ordered us out at both churches and gave both churches to the diocese until full trial."

The reality is that the orthodox primates of the Anglican Communion can help those under attack in North America with provincial recognition and strong intercommunion and missional ties, but when it comes to litigation, the provinces overseas can do little to help us win the court battles.

Recognition of a new North American province for the orthodox, and revocation of provincial status for the Anglican Church of Canada and TEC would both be helpful, but the latter is unlikely.

Across the pond in the United Kingdom, the election of a new bishop for Bangor, Wales occupies much space in the news and on the blogs. As we reported last week from a reliable source, plans are afoot to place the name of Dean Jeffrey Johns on the slate. Since he identifies himself as a celibate gay priest who is in a registered civil partnership, his becoming an Anglican bishop would pose problems for a great part of the global Anglican Communion. With the opposition mounting and threats by one senior cleric in Wales to quit if this happens, one wonders if Dean Johns' name will be officially put forward, and if so, whether he would gain sufficient support for election. His elevation to the episcopacy would pose a significant problem for many bishops, archbishops and primates, yet in the case of New Hampshire in the United States, the diocese went ahead regardless of the problems caused.

Surely Archbishop Barry Morgan advised Dr. Williams about this prior to it becoming public; if not, the Archbishop of Canterbury (the former primate of Wales) might have just cause to be cranky when reading of it in the London papers. Although, since the release of the Pitt letters, it is painfully clear that the arch primate himself shares a sympathetic view of homosexual issues, surely for the sake of the church he is charged with defending he can arrange for this to be turned aside. As we noted last week, everyone is aware of the situation in advance of the election and there are therefore no free passes.

Some claim that since Dean Johns identifies himself as being celibate, thus meeting the letter of the church's official standard, and since civil partnerships are legal, there should be no obstacle to his appointment. But consider this: does the church's rule need amendment? Is a bishop in a same-sex civil partnership a wholesome example to the flock?

It is time for Christian leaders to be clear about what they believe, speak boldly and publicly in such a way that removes ambiguity, and let their yes be yes and their no be no. So much of what bishops and leaders say today is double-meaning spiritual mush designed to offend no one. The Good News of Jesus Christ requires plain, clear, simple speech that can reach both the executive in his corner office and the plough boy in the field. May we recover that virtue and grace.

Blessings and Peace in Christ Jesus,

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