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Thursday, December 21, 2006

That'll LarnYa!

It seems my "Christmas Trumpets" posting has garnered much praise and merriment so in response I am compelled to present you with Beulah singing "Santa Kissed Me," an apparently original composition. While the vocal stylings of Beulah are nonpareil, it is the scintillating accompaniment on the mighty spinet that makes this audio file so very special for me and, I pray, for you too.

By the way, let me hasten to add, the message at the end of Miss Beulah's song is one that speaks to us all, whatever our origins or background (but still, hoo-boy, that pianer!).

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Christmas Trumpets

Every year at this time a music industry colleague of mine sends to a select group of aficionados a daily sound file of some of the more unusual examples of Christmas music he's found on the Internet over the year. This one found particular favor with me and it gives me great pleasure to be able to share it with you (link is to a free file sharer--click "Download File"). Those of you who studied music formally and know, or actually happen to be, a brass player will be especially appreciative. You might want to turn the volume down a notch or two before listening, however.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

"A Huge Amount of Mess"

. . . to quote the excellent Rev'd Canon Kendall Harmon of titusonenine in today's New York Times, in a piece about the ongoing disintegration of the Episcopal Church: Slanted toward the reappraisers (it is the New York Times, of course) but not unduely so, it is well worth a read.

ECUSA is in deep trouble.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Who You Calling Uncivil?

There's a bit of row among the commentators at titusonenine (so what else is new?) over the efforts of an Anglo-Catholic parish in the Diocese of Newark, a liberal one (pardon the redundancy), Grace Church, to persuade "disaffected" Romans to swim the Stour, cross Hadrian's Wall or whatever the metaphor when Romans become Anglicans. Those Grace Church defines as disaffected would be

Roman Catholics whose spiritual lives are grounded in the Mass and in the sacraments [yet] nevertheless, unable to concur with the Vatican’s position on issues such as the role of women in the church, contraception, remarriage of divorced person (sic), homosexual relationships, or abortion. They have become increasingly disaffected as the hierarchy’s response to dissent has grown more strident and authoritarian +%)))))))))*&^!!!!!!!!!!%$((((((90^&*Rs848A7Q0A0 500v#)%*#%(#)($*)#(*ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ


Oops! Sorry, I dozed off and my head smashed into the keyboard (what is it about progressive prose that makes for such a splendid soporific? The text, I suppose). Well, in any event, I wish Grace Church lots of luck, she certainly could use increased numbers in her pews (a stagnant 125--not too good for a church in the largest city in New Jersey) but I'm afraid the well of disaffected Romans is nearly dry; the ones who might actually have come over did so way, way back when they realized to their dismay Paul VI wasn't as cuddly as John XXIII. But I digress.

On Canon Harmon's blog, some are accusing others of taking pot shots at poor old Grace Church and deploring the lack of civility. And you know what? They're right. The present and widening divisions in the Episcopal Church are the cause of increasing nastiness among the disputants and that is indeed something to deplore. I think, however, the reappraisers need to understand something: that however angry the reasserters may seem, most of them are experiencing an emotion far more intense, sorrow; the sorrow of witnessing the usurpation of a beloved institution by a driven band of baby boomers whose religion and mores were informed during the Summer of "Love" in 1967. Through a skillful admixture of sneering, patronizing and bullying they have taken over the Episcopal Church and not only have they made it clear the party line must be followed but there will be hell to pay for those who try to get out. The only sorrow I can sense coming from 815 Second Avenue is, regardless of the threats, increasing numbers are refusing to buy the product and are leaving anyway. So what exquisite irony that Grace Church accuses the Roman Church's "response to dissent" as growing "more strident and authoritarian!" Really? Rome's views on the issues so dear to the New Religionists have seemed remarkably consistent over the years and I haven't detected any increase in the volume coming that way. Might that stridency and authoritarianism Grace Church complains of be coming from another source?

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

If I Had More Money . . .


Cartoon by Dave Walker, a drole Englishman whose cartoons are of a generally "churchy" nature. He makes his stuff available free to bloggers in the hope it will garner him a larger readership and I am only too pleased to aid and abet.

Ha!

"All of Episcopal Church's Problems Helpfully Summarized on Back of Hybrid Vehicle"
Read it all, it's very funny.
UPDATE: I took down the picture, people have expressed concern about showing the license plate number. However, Messrs. Nasty, Brutish & Short don't seem concerned and they're lawyers so you can look at it there.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Magnum Mysterium

Last night, at the Church of the Resurrection in New York City, a mass celebrating the Feast of the Immaculate Conception was celebrated as it would have been in the 14th century, i.e. candlelight only, no organ, no hymns, no sermon and no chalice (except for the priest, of course). Further, it was conducted entirely in Latin and much of that was inaudible, as in the canon. Think that might have made for a long evening? Think again, it was a hugely moving experience.

As the rector Fr. Barry Swaine pointed out in notes, there was little participation by the people during the mass in the Middle Ages, they were expected just to take it all in and meditate on the mystery and beauty of it all. To that end, the Church provided stimuli for all five senses thus candles by the hundreds, vestments, statuary, glass, incense and, of course, the host. Also, there was music: Last night we heard Messe de Nostre Dame by Guillaume de Machaut, a stupendous work and the oldest surviving complete polyphonic mass setting by a single composer. With but a single voice per part, this long and difficult setting was done expertly and exquisitely, led from the stalls by Mr. Enlow, the music director.

It may seem trite to say but it was not hard at all to imagine oneself taken back 700 years. And while much has changed in worship since the 14th century, much of it praiseworthy, it still was a godly treat for this writer to experience how the mass was celebrated so long ago. Deo Gratias!

UPDATE: Thanks to Adam for his one-word acclamation in the comments and there is good news to report: The rector announced this morning, owing to the turnout Friday night (the church was filled) and the favorable commentary, he is seriously considering doing it again. Let us hope so, it was an awesome (to use the word properly) event. The congregation was interesting: aside from us laymen there were much clergy present, Anglican, Roman, Eastern and others; many seminarians too. It was heartening and encouraging to see in putatively sophisticated and jaded New York, N.Y. such an eager interest in how our forebears of old worshiped.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Why I Love the New York Post


They don't pull any punches. Neither does the excellent John Podhoretz in his column today. Here's a sampling.

THE profound quality of the suggestions offered by the Iraq Study Group - the panel headed by former Secretary of State James Baker that presented its report with such fanfare to the president yesterday morning - can be inferred from the following passage on page 60:

"RECOMMENDATION 19: The President and the leadership of his national security team should remain in close and frequent contact with the Iraqi leadership."

Truly, a grateful nation should fall on its knees and thank the benevolent Creator that the nine wise men and one woman who comprise the Iraq Study Group were willing to sacrifice themselves and come together so that such a recommendation could be placed before our leaders and
the world.

The nation's capital hasn't seen such concentrated wisdom in one place since Paris Hilton dined alone at the Hooters on Connecticut Avenue.

The rest of it's just as good.
UPDATE: Some people are delighted with the Iraq Study Group's recommendations! (h/t Riehl World View)

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Beautiful Blithering Idiots

And now, on a different tack, it seems famed thespian Miss Gwyneth Paltrow has caused a bit of a lather with a comment she made to a Portuguese newspaper where she explained why she preferred living in England to the United States:

I love the English lifestyle, it's not as capitalistic as America. People don't talk about work and money, they talk about interesting things at dinner.

Well isn't that ducky and while it is oh so tempting to speak to that little gem of a comment, I will instead address a far larger and weightier matter: The appalling attention given to the political opinions of movie stars (particularly if they lean to the left, of course). I am not much of a movie goer but my understanding of Miss Paltrow is she enjoys stupendous looks and is able to memorize sufficient lines to enable her to film scenes from a script in order to make a movie. These two assets have afforded Ms. Paltrow fabulous riches and she, like so many of her peers, feels that entitles her to have her political opinions taken seriously. It does not, of course.

Imagine, if you will, a fellow who achieves his life long dream of becoming an accountant (I said imagine). Not only does he achieve that dream, he is really, really good at accounting, people from around the world flock to his office daily for his famed accounting acumen. He becomes rich and successful. Now imagine this fellow starts feeling pretty gosh darned important and starts thinking people might be interested in his political opinions. In an interview with The Modern Accountant (or whatever their journal is called) instead of blathering away on accruals, tax shelters and the like, he instead attacks, say, the foreign policy of the United States. Would anybody, anybody, in this wonderful country give a rat's ass what this star accountant's political views were? No, you say? Then why the downright obsessive attention in this country to the political thought of Gwenyth Paltrow, Sean Penn, Ben Affleck, Barbra Streisand and the rest of the sorry cavalcade of overpaid movie stars, people who earn their huge pay envelopes for looking or sounding pretty and memorizing lines; people whose intellectual prowess is vastly inferior to that of our pal the accountant?

It is a mystery I have never been able to solve.

This is Unpleasant News . . .

Comes word, via the New York Sun, of a scandal breaking at St. Thomas Church, Fifth Avenue, NY, involving its rector, the Rev'd Andrew Mead. A complaint about him has been lodged with the New York Diocese alleging 16 counts of unseemly behaviour, including "sexually inappropriate misconduct." You can read the salacious details in the Sun article.

Personally, I don't think the accusations past the smell test: filed by "[E]leven current and former parishioners and a former priest," they read like a grab-bag assortment of complaints and all in all, seem like pretty small beer. I think there is a lot more to this story than reported thus far.

The good news is the St. Thomas vestry is standing behind Fr. Mead with the senior warden describing the charges as "malicious and unfounded." Let us hope so. St. Thomas Fifth Avenue is one the jewels in the fading crown of the Episcopal Church and is one the few bastions of orthodox worship in Manhattan. I don't know Fr. Mead personally but have attended many masses at St. Thomas as well as some of the many religious instruction classes they offer, some of them led by the good rector himself. He strikes me as thorough professional, theologically sound, a fine preacher and a fine man in general. I pray to our Lord the charges lodged against him are false. St. Thomas' and Fr. Mead play a vital role in orthodox worship in New York City and it would be a shame to have them sullied.



Monday, December 04, 2006

A Priest in Charge Doth Not a PB Make

The Presiding Bishop has issued her response to San Joaquin. Nothing terribly surprising is found it, however one sentence caused my eyebrows to shoot up.

I deeply lament the pain, confusion, and suffering visited on loyal members of the Episcopal Church within the Diocese of San Joaquin, and want them to know of my prayers and the prayers of many, many others.

In other words, that small minority in San Joaquin that remains "loyal" (sic) to the Episcopal Church commands KJS's sympathy and prayers; the others, we presume, can go to hell.

I'm beginning to think PB Schori is way out of her league. As the titular head of the Episcopal Church you think she might have made some sort of friendly gesture to the vast majority of diocesans of San Joaquin; that while expressing regret at their decision, at the same time hoping a way might yet be found to reconcile the differences between them and TEC, blah, blah, blah. Yes, it would be boilerplate, yes most of us wouldn't believe it but for all that, a few kind words would have shown a modicum of class. I wonder if she has any. Either that or she's so persuaded of the utter rightness of her New Religion that opposing views are not to be entertained in any way.

Whichever it is, this attitude of KJS may well get her into trouble. Even among her co-religionists there are bound to be differences of opinion (e.g. should reasserters be thrown off a building or crushed to death--that sort of thing) and her apparent inability to see other points of view is bound to piss people off, even, or especially, at 815 Second Avenue. Her limited pastoral experience may explain this boorish behaviour; that having been pushed up the ladder so fast and so far she never honed the diplomatic skills of the experienced rector who has to deal with difficult parishioners. I wonder if KJS's supporters at the GC '06 failed to take this lack of experience into account in their enthusiasm to elect her to to the top. They may rue that oversight. They may have already started to do so.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

The San Joaquin Vote

The diocese of San Joaquin voted yesterday, in essence, to begin the process of removing itself from the The Episcopal Church and re-aligning itself with the Anglican Communion outside of her. This, as you might expect, is the cause of much anguished commentary, a good sampling of which may be found on titusonenine (scroll down). A great deal of the verbiage of both those supporting the decision of San Joaquin and those opposed concerns itself with how this may effect the unity and future of the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion.

Who cares? I speak as a cradle Episcopalian (and a cradle Anglo-Catholic to boot, a pretty small subset, I suspect) and one who truly loves her prayer book, rituals, traditions and music (oh, our music!). Just the same, countless repetitions of the creeds has taught me there is One Holy Catholic Apostolic Church, not one One Holy Catholic Apostolic Episcopal, Anglican, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Eastern or Whatever church. I'll even be so bold as to posit the creeds don't even make reference to one Holy Roman Catholic Apostolic Church.

So if the decision of the Diocese of San Joaquin is actually the harbinger of the break up of the Episcopal Church, that's just fine. If it somehow leads to the break up of the Anglican Communion, so much the better, so long as it pushes us along toward One Church. Those who truly believe the words of our creeds should welcome this development; it is a small but significant step toward the elimination of adjectives other than One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Ben Stein on Christmas

Had it up to here with "Happy Holidays?" Here's help from Ben Stein, a Jew, and one of America's national treasures.

Herewith at this happy time of year, a few confessions from my beating heart:

I have no freaking clue who Nick and Jessica are. I see them on the cover of People and Us constantly when I am buying my dog biscuits and kitty litter. I often ask the checkers at the grocery stores. They never know who Nick and Jessica are either. Who are they? Will it change my life if I know who they are and why they have broken up? Why are they so important? I don't know who Lindsay Lohan is, either, and I do not care at all about Tom Cruise's wife.

Am I going to be called before a Senate committee and asked if I am a subversive? Maybe, but I just have no clue who Nick and Jessica are. Is this what it means to be no longer young. It's not so bad.

Next confession: I am a Jew, and every single one of my ancestors was Jewish. And it does not bother me even a little bit when people call those beautiful lit up, bejeweled trees Christmas trees. I don't feel threatened. I don't feel discriminated against. That's what they are: Christmas trees. It doesn't bother me a bit when people say, "Merry Christmas" to me. I don't think they are slighting me or getting ready to put me in a ghetto. In fact, I kind of like it. It shows that we are all brothers and sisters celebrating this happy time of year. It doesn't bother me at all that there is a manger scene on display at a key intersection near my beach house in Malibu. If people want a creche, it's just as fine with me as is the Menorah a few hundred yards away.

I don't like getting pushed around for being a Jew and I don't think Christians like getting pushed around for being Christians. I think people who believe in God are sick and tired of getting pushed around, period. I have no idea where the concept came from that America is an explicitly atheist country. I can't find it in the Constitution and I don't like it being shoved down my throat.

Or maybe I can put it another way: where did the idea come from that we should worship Nick and Jessica and we aren't allowed to worship God as we understand Him?

I guess that's a sign that I'm getting old, too. But there are a lot of us who are wondering where Nick and Jessica came from and where the America we knew went to
.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Clarity vs. Obsfucation

My, oh my, there must have been a lot of clucking today at 815 Second Avenue! His Grace John-David, Bishop of San Joaquin, has replied to the Presiding Bishop's threatening letter concerning San Joaquin's upcoming vote whether or not to secede. +Schofield wastes no time getting down to business: "Dear Bishop Schori: Greetings in the name of our Lord and only Savior Jesus Christ." You gotta love the use of the word "only," which ribs KJS's earlier universalist assertion, made in a New York Times interview, that contrary to John 14:6, insisting Jesus is the only way to the Father "puts God in an awfully small box" (who took the measurements?). Then it's straight to the matter at hand, +Schofield's alleged violations of his vow to “guard the faith, unity, and discipline of the Church of God.” Well, no, he replies, it is actually the Episcopal Church that is in error, that "as an institution, [it] is walking a path of apostasy and those faithful to God’s Word are forced to make painful choices;" that it is his diocese, not he, that will make the decision whether or not to take the highway. +Schofield, however, certainly indicates the desire and certainty the vote will indeed be to ditch and that he is prepared to lead his diocese on a journey that could prove to be very difficult. Yet there is a remarkable absence of animosity in his letter, just an expression of quiet joy, lucidly written, in being allowed to do all such good works as God has prepared for him to walk in. Do read it all.

Now, just for fun, compare and contrast +Schofield's letter with one just sent off to Cantuar by the Presiding Bishop and her friends in which they make a proposal for (would you believe it?) Alternative Primatial Oversight. Yep, of all things! You get the feeling those New Religionists over at 815 have finally realized there just may be a touch of unrest among a segment of Episcopalians over the wholesale makeover of ritual and theology these past thirty years. Well, that does show a certain sensitivity and I suppose we should be grateful. But gee whiz, after slogging through the turgid prose in the letter (these innovators are astonishingly bad writers, nearly as bad as the educationists in our public schools), it's hard to get excited about this proposal.

It starts of promisingly enough, with a statement that appeals for APO are being taken "seriously," but quickly goes downhill when we learn in paragraph 2 APO takes the shape of a "Primatial Vicar" appointed by none other than the Presiding Bishop herself (in "consultation" with Canterbury, we're assured). We learn further this Primatial Vicar "would be accountable to the Presiding Bishop" and, of course, a committee (what would 815 be without committees?). But what really brings this turkey crashing to earth is paragraph 3.

This arrangement for a Primatial Vicar does not affect the administrative or other canonical duties of the Presiding Bishop except to the degree that the Presiding Bishop may wish to delegate, when appropriate, some of those duties to the Primatial Vicar. The Primatial Vicar and the Advisory Panel shall function in accordance with the Constitution and Canons of The Episcopal Church.

I read the above as TEC saying, "you can have your silly old APO but only when it suits us and only if it doesn't conflict with any of our essential and urgently needed innovations, both existing and to come." The position of Primatial Vicar is clearly one of a toothless and functionary hack and will in no way assuage reasserters here nor effect any healing of impaired communion abroad. What this clunker of a proposal does indicate, however, is the dawning awareness of TEC leadership they have serious problem on their hands, one much more serious than they realized. This cobbled together proposal is their panicked attempt to deal with it. Forget it: The movie sucks and the people are headed for the exits; the management is trying to lure them back with an offer of a small popcorn (without even butter-product!). It won't work.

(Thanks to titusonenine, that indispensible resource in the Anglican Blogosphere.)

Monday, November 27, 2006

The Fun Begins

One of the songs I remember fondly from high school days, blasting out of the radio while I bopped around in my pickup truck, was the legendary Alice Cooper's "No more Mister Nice Guy" (and isn't that a fine beginning to a posting on an Anglo-Catholic's blog? Never mind the locale was Greenwich, Connecticut and the pickup truck was Japanese: I was a rebel at heart, promise!). That fine ol' bit of rock 'n' roll came flooding back to me yesterday when I read the letter fearless +Iker of Fort Worth fired off recently to +Lee of Virginia, wherein he sends his regrets he is unable to lunch today to discuss Alternative Primal Oversight. Oh, and +Duncan of Pittsburgh wouldn't be able to make it either. As a matter of fact, none of the eight bishops requesting APO would be at this meeting (it will no doubt go much smoother than the last one).

Well, huzzah, huzzah, it's about time! Our orthodox leadership, having these past 30 years being regarded and treated by the inclusive New Religionists as creatures found crawling under a rock, has finally had enough. They will no longer go along with the charade of countless meetings whose only purpose is to spoon pablum to the orthodox while giving more time to their innovative betters to plan the next innovative assault. Iker said at the end of the last go-round he was "not interested in having more meetings to plan to have more meetings" and it looks as if he meant it. Katharine Jefforts Schori has made it clear she's ready to bring out the big guns to deal with the pesky reactionaries. Bring 'em on, I say, but she's going to have to move fast. The Diocese of San Joaquin is voting this weekend to abandon the foundering ship that is the Episcopal Church. Should they do so, others are sure to follow and 815 Second Avenue will soon find itself trying to fire artillery from the bottom of the ocean.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Musings from Someone "Better Educated"

From the Presiding Bishop, Katharine Jefferts Schori:

Episcopalians tend to be better educated and tend to reproduce at lower rates than other denominations.

From Mark Steyn:

If you measure the births of the Muslim world against the dearth of Bishop Kate's Episcopalians, you have the perfect snapshot of why there is no "stability": With every passing month, there are more Muslims and fewer Episcopalians, and the Muslims export their manpower to Europe and other depopulating outposts of the West. It's the intersection of demography and Islamism that makes time a luxury we can't afford.

This is but a mere sampling, read it all. Steyn's ability to eviscerate the fatuous is a wonder to behold, nobody does it better. As Waugh said of Wodehouse, "He is the master of us all." (Thanks to Bro. James.)

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

"Baste me in Butter and Call Me Slappy"

Happy Thanksgiving! From the New York Times: A hilarious piece on personal ads in the London Review of Books (I can't believe I beat titusonenine on this one!).

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Looks As If It's Getting Serious

Our Presiding Bishop has sent, and released to the public, a corker of a letter to the Bishop of San Joaquin, the Rt. Rev'd John-David Schofield. In this strongly worded missive she warns him the serious consequences of his recommending to his parishes they ditch the Episcopal Church. She also advises if +Schofield doesn't like the New Religion of the modern Episcopal church, "he seek a home elsewhere" and continuing, in a richly ironic vein, "our forebears [did not] give liberally to fund endowments with the intent that they be consumed by litigation."

You know, in a way, I like this woman: She takes no guff and unlike her mincing predecessor, she lets you know exactly where she stands. Clarity is her byword, at least when she's not talking theology. She no doubt feels noisome rebels like +Schofield are long overdue receiving their easily delivered comeuppance (I'll bet Leo X was similarly confident).

We shall see. Much as I like KJS's directness, I wonder if she also doesn't have her head in the clouds (to use the politer of the two expressions). Can she really not see she and her colleagues' "religion" is so utterly removed and detached from that of +Schofield, +Ackermann, +Iker, et al., that, in effect, the abandonment has already taken place; that it is academic to try and determine who abandoned whom?

If the Diocese of San Joaquin does vote secession (and they likely will, by a substantial margin) then KJS's only recourse is to deplete that endowment for which she express so much concern, trying to force it back. She and TEC will fail. The best she can hope for is the courts in California, going against precedent, will let TEC keep the buildings. The people, of course, will leave and TEC will find itself on an irreversable course, similar to that of the Christian Scientist Church: A large, if diminishing,endowment, magnificent, if deteriorating, buildings and a small and dying membership.

It's a Religion of Peace . . .

. . . But that doesn't preclude some good ol' American-style provocation. We will not toleratate your intolerance!

Monday, November 20, 2006

Quo Vadis?

In my late teens I found my way back to the Episcopal Church from which I had fallen away when younger. I attended confirmation classes under the inspiring tutelage of the Rev'd G. Harris Collingwood at the Church of the Advent in Boston and was later confirmed at that same wonderful institution. It was was a joyous occasion and the Advent, then as now, was a glorious shrine to Anglo-Catholic worship. The year this happy event took place, unfortunately, was 1976, thus at precisely the time I returned to the church the church began to leave me. I nevertheless persevered, over the years hanging on; turning the other cheek, seeking out the fewer and fewer orthodox churches wherever my life's journey took me. All the while I hoped and prayed the leaders of the Episcopal Church would see and repent the errors of their ways. They have not and, apparently, will not.

So what to do? I have seriously considered "poping" and have discussed it with two close friends, both of whom are devout and traditional Romans. They both advise against it, one of them writing me, with beautiful succinctness, "I am bound in conscience to tell you that I believe the Catholic Church in the United States as it is presently constituted would pose severe temptations for you against the virtues of Faith, Hope, and Charity . . . I would far prefer to see you remain a Christian in a corrupt church than to become an apostate from the true one." I have followed that sage counsel.

So here I stand, a Christian in a corrupt church but I will stay put for now. I still cannot believe the majority of us in the pews support the heresies espoused by our leadership. I still like to believe that those of us in the pews will one day come to our senses and wrestle our church back from the New Religionists. I still want to believe that Canterbury will one day take a real stand on the matter and encourage us to take our church back. If not, well, the matter will take care of itself: the Episcopal Church's leadership will devolve into a ragtag collection of goddess worshipers, tree huggers, wiccans, queer-studies types etc., all at cross-purposes with one another with their conflicting pantheistic beliefs. Like brigands they will quarrel over the spoils, the quarrelling will get violent and the institution will eventually be destroyed from within. Those few remaining orthodox, if any, will then have but no choice to walk away and find a new home, a true home; a home that may well have a Roman address.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Just Because You're a Bishop Doesn't Make You God

A commenter on Whitehall links to a piece in the Daily Mail (UK) about a bishop in the Church of England, the Rt. Rev'd Tom Butler of Southwark, who officially speaking for the Church proposes that doctors be allowed to let sick newborn babies die: that "there are occasions when it is compassionate to leave a severely disabled child to die." While this may seem a reasonable point of view to the compassionate, if casual, thinker, in reality it is a dangerous notion and, unfortunately, all of a piece of the New Religion: that God should serve the individual, not the other way around; that if a dogma results in suffering, the dogma is faulty and must be revised, for God does not intend for us (me) to suffer. Sorry, it doesn't work that way.

As Christians, we must believe life is a gift, the greatest gift, from God, as recounted in Genesis. If God is omniscient and omnipotent, as we believe Him to be, we cannot dictate the terms of His gift to us, otherwise we are questioning His supernal qualities and making Him one of us. If he really is one of us, however, we really don't need Him, do we? We can handle matters quite well without Him, can't we? If we do so, however, we are playing God ourselves, and unfortunately we are just not that good at it.

Consider the following quotation then guess who owns it.

Today, however, civilization has brought sympathy, pity, tenderness and other lofty and worthy sentiments, which interfere with the law of natural selection. We are now in a state where our charities, our compensation acts, our pensions, hospitals, and even our drainage and sanitary equipment all tend to keep alive the sickly and the weak, who are allowed to propagate and in turn produce a race of degenerates.

Give up? Those are the words of the patron saint of feminism, Margaret Sanger (you won't find them on the website of Planned Parenthood, the institution she founded, nor will you find mentioned the fact she accepted an invitation from the K.K.K. to speak about the very "problem" of which she wrote: the "race of degenerates"). The "civilization" and the attendant qualities she questions are, of course, Christianity and Christian charity. I would not accuse +Butler of espousing such hideous notions as Sanger's, he surely does not, but unless one is uncompromising when it comes to the sanctity of life, it is all too easy to slip into thinking thoughts as, "Surely God did not intend this person to suffer so" or "Isn't keeping this poor soul alive costing a lot of money that could be better spent elsewhere?" Thence leads to the murderous philosophy of Utilitarianism and its weaseling proponents like Peter Singer (a professor of bioethics at Princeton!) and from there it is but a short journey to Final Solutions.

I have a cousin who was born paralyzed from the neck down but blessed (or cursed) with a first-class mind. The difficulty of her life I cannot begin to fathom but she bears her burden well and manages to possess a wicked sense of humor. Still, I wonder if +Butler, upon witnessing the protracted suffering my cousin has gone through in her life would think that it would have been better she had not been born or allowed to live. I hope, at least, he would ask her first.

Well, That Didn't Take Very Long, Did It?

"We're just as sleazy as the Republicans." Speaker-To-Be Pelosi gets off to a good start.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

The Real Islam

From the National Post of Canada: This should be required reading of all those idiots in Washington, the academy and the capitals of Europe; an interview with Dr. Tawfik Hamid, a well-educated Egyptian physician and former member of a terrorist organization. This man knows about terrorists and is now on a mission to try and break the multi-culti, moral equivalent mindset as to their motives. Surprisingly (perhaps not), it's about sex:

'Islam condemns extra-marital sex as well as masturbation, which is also taught in the Christian tradition. But Islam also tells of unlimited sexual ecstasy in paradise with beautiful virgins for the martyr who gives his life for the faith. Don't for a moment underestimate this blinding passion or its influence on those who accept fundamentalism.'

Dr. Hamid claims the fundamentalist Islam of the terrorists is the dominant sect, not the radical fringe. Their goal is imperialistic, world control, and despite the insistence of Western haters of the West is not influenced the slightest by Western polity.

He's exasperated now, visibly angry at what he sees as a willful Western foolishness. 'Stop asking what you have done wrong. Stop it! They're slaughtering you like sheep and you still look within. You criticize your history, your institutions, your churches. Why can't you realize that it has nothing to do with what you have done but with what they want.'

Alas, I suspect this modern Cassandra's warnings will go unheeded. But read them for yourself anyway and be very afraid. (h/t Instapundit)

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Just Wondering

I wonder if President Bush will offer Joe Lieberman a cabinet position, as a reward for his support and, of course, to eliminate a Democratic senator (Connecticut Governor Rell [R] would presumably replace him with a Republican). I suppose Lieberman would decline the job but it's still interesting to speculate.

Job Well Done

The midterm elections were the Republicans' to lose and last night they proved themselves up to the task. Good, they had it coming. It is not as if the GOP had plenty of warning either, a wide swath of respected conservative pundits have warned for many months a disaster was in the making. The countless scandals, out of control spending, waffling on Iraq and the overall smarmy hubris and deceit that has overtaken the GOP made the Democrats' victory inevitable, downright anticlimactic even (it was not a victory for the anti-war crowd, otherwise Joe Lieberman would be looking for a job this morning).

One thing we can be thankful for with the Republican loss: we will not be subjected to Democratic whinging, e.g. "What's the Matter with Kansas,� blaming the loss on the benighted American people. Even the dumbest Republican, even Denny Hastert, knows full well where the blame lies. So let these fools lick their wounds and ponder the future (can you say "Speaker Pelosi?" I like the way you say that.) As a palliative and corrective they might find it profitable to dig up their woefully unworn copies of the Contract with America from 1994, read it again and learn why they won then and lost last night. And let the purges begin.

Reaching Out to the Faithful of the New Religion

Forget the elections, here's some important news.

From the Onion: Frito-Lay Angrily Introduces Line of Healthy Snacks.

PLANO, TX�With the recent trend of wholesome snack foods reaching "truly ridiculous proportions," Frito-Lay announced Monday that it would, against its better judgment, roll out a new line of healthy fruit-and-vegetable-based chips next February.

Frito Lay R

"Here," said Frito-Lay CEO Al Carey as he disgustedly tossed a bag of the company's new Flat Earth-brand snack crisps onto the lectern during a meeting with shareholders and members of the press. "Here's some s*** that's made from beets. I hope you're all happy now that you have your precious beet chips with the recommended daily serving of fruit, or vegetables, or whatever the hell a 'beet' is."

It has not been determined whether Mr. Carey is related to the former Archbishop of Canterbury.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Happy Birthday to You, Happy Birthday to You


I have already spoken my piece on the investiture of the Presiding Bishop but please, please, just one last parting shot? Doesn't this remind you a little of those hats passed around to the young charges at children's birthday parties?

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Forward

The Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America (as it is legally known) today invested her new presiding bishop, Katharine Jefferts Schori. As an Anglo-Catholic I cannot accept women in the clergy as there is no scriptural basis for it. Nevertheless, I watched some of the proceedings today on the Internet (scroll down) with the hope I might see some hints of the "reconciliation" Ms. Schori has spoken of and advocated so ardently and frequently since her election. They were not there.

What we got instead was a touchy-feely, happy clappy, new-age spectacle but with just enough references to Anglican services of old, via some of the hymns mainly, to painfully remind us the magnitude of what we have lost these past thirty years. In her homily Ms. Schori's made occasional obeisance to Christ and the Gospel but seemed far more concerned with what seems to be her real gospel, the United Nations Millennium Development Goals; that and world peace (something I support whole-heartedly and you too, I predict). Following the sermon a gathering of young women carrying large urns, containing holy water I think, danced around the picnic table altar then poured the water, with elaborate gesturing, into the baptismal font. To my naive eyes it seemed more like some sort of wiccan rite so I left the computer and went for a walk on this beautiful crisp fall day in Manhattan.

I fear there is no saving the Episcopal Church. The heterodoxies, beginning many years ago with the so-called ordination of women and the spoliation of the Book of Common Prayer continue unabated, with offences big and small, and culminating three years ago with the consecration of an adulterer as bishop of New Hampshire. Ms. Schori enthusiastically supported his consecration thus her election as presiding bishop served notice the Episcopal Church is not going back on any of these "innovations." However, as an institution it is sere and spent. Its membership is declining precipitously and consists primarily of aging baby boomers who will soon be dying off. With the declining membership comes declining pledges thus church leadership resorts ever more frequently to dipping into the capital to pay its bills. The coffers, once ample, are diminishing; the people who filled them are long dead and their progeny have stopped coming to church. Statistically, if the decline in membership continues at the present rate (a big assumption considering events of late) the last Episcopalian in the United States will be buried in 72 years. All of this is bad news for the Episcopal Church but it is not bad news for Christ�s Church.

Our Creed states "one holy Catholic and Apostolic Church." Only one. And while I grieve as much as anyone over what has happened to the Episcopal Church I love, the Church of which I am a cradle member, I do not despair over her demise for good will come out of it. If there is to be only one church, there will have to be, to use modern business parlance (and forgive me for it) many mergers and acquisitions. Look around you. It is happening, via realignment within the vastly larger worldwide Anglican Communion and, and to me even more astonishing, the lion lying down with the lamb, the Evangelicals joining with the Catholics: the Common Cause Partners.

Where all this leads only God knows but I think it is all for the good. The Episcopal Church, sadly, is or soon will be history but if the result of her demise is the unification of her diverse surviving factions, that is cause to rejoice, for it is moving us in the right direction, albeit on a long and difficult journey: to one holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

An Important Discovery!

Just in time for Reformation Day comes this discovery of an important historical artifact.

The Gift that Keeps on Giving

John Kerry's done it again, this time in a speech before college students where he questioned the educational accomplishments of our troops. Kerry insists he botched his line and that President Bush was his intended target. I, for one, believe him: Kerry's a dolt and a miserable public speaker to boot, even worse than our president. However, Kerry's far more serious mistake was his not immediately apologizing and releasing the actual text of the speech but going on the attack instead. That Kerry, the richest man ever to run for president, has image problems with working stiffs and the military is painfully obvious. His latest gaff furthers the accurate perception of the Democratic leadership as millionaire socialists, didacts all too eager to instruct us how to lead our lives on the income they allow us to keep, while at the same time living their own pampered lives of luxury and privilege at a far, far remove.

Update:

A grieving father states it far more eloquently.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Whitehall: Legal Fiction: or, ECUSA's Not a Church: or, Some Thoughts on Diocesan Convention

His posting is chock full o' typos (for which he apologizes) but his argument is right on the mark: The emperor wears no clothes. Were the secular religionists at 815 Second Avenue to read it they would be terrified (they'd realize they're going to be out of a job) but they won't.

Excerpt:

I will let you in on a secret: this is the source of all the confusion: the word "church" is used in reference to ECUSA, when its not really apt. There are different senses of the word "church." There is the thing on the corner, made of brick. There is the "Baptist Church." There is the "Church of England." There is the "Anglican Church." And there is the "One, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church." Etc. Guess which one of these the Lord was talking about when he held up "unity" as a virtue. Here's a hint. It starts with an "O" and ends in an "ne, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church."


Read it all.

Friday, October 20, 2006

The Nietzsche Family Circus
















One is most dishonest to one's god: he is not allowed to sin.

The Nietzsche Family Circus pairs a randomized Family Circus cartoon with a randomized Friedrich Nietzsche quote. Refresh the page to see a new comic.


There is much that is deplorable on the Internet but also much to revel and delight in. Just as with God's greatest creation (pace Friedrich!).

Thursday, October 19, 2006

The Religion of Peace

From the Telegraph:

Radical Muslims in France's housing estates are waging an undeclared "intifada" against the police, with violent clashes injuring an average of 14 officers each day.

As the interior ministry said that nearly 2,500 officers had been wounded this year, a police union declared that its members were "in a state of civil war" with Muslims in the most depressed "banlieue" estates which are heavily populated by unemployed youths of north African origin. It said the situation was so grave that it had asked the government to provide police with armoured cars to protect officers in the estates, which are becoming no-go zones.

The number of attacks has risen by a third in two years. Police representatives told the newspaper Le Figaro that the "taboo" of attacking officers on patrol has
been broken.

The day will come when the French, despite their superior attitude and insufferable finger pointing at less "englightened" nations like ours, will finally say "enough," and start the deportation of Muslims on a scale not seen since 1492 in Spain. The rest of Europe may follow suit but it will begin with the French.

The Democrats Reach Out

Howard Dean triangulates. (h/t Instapundit)

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Turning a Blind Eye

Carl Rollyson of the New York Sun gives a negative review of a new biography of Jessica Mitford. Mitford was a brilliant social critic and is a joy to read. Her "American Way of Death," a hilarious and gruesome expos� of the funeral industry, is a classic of our time. Unfortunately, she was, like so many intellects of the twentieth century, especially England's, a lefty and a member of the Communist Party for many years. Rollyson faults Mitford for turning a blind eye to the innumerable atrocities committed in communism's name and faults her biographer for whitewashing this serious and all-too-common flaw of the elite.

The ugly fact of the twentieth-century intelligentsia's embrace of Marxist tyranny is one of western civilization's great mysteries. The ability of otherwise brilliant and creative luminaries to propagate the lies and rationalize the brutality of communism is baffling although I suspect guilt has something to do with it; its proponents have mostly come from the upper-classes. Whatever. Thanks be to God for bestowing artistic and intellectual gifts on many of them; we forgive them, or at least try to ignore, their trespasses. Sometimes that is well-nigh impossible, as with Leonard Bernstein, but Pablo Casals ransomed the Bach Cello Suites from obscurity and that alone, for me, expiates his myriad sins. You have to wonder, however, if Jackie Kennedy would have invited Casals to perform at the White House had he sided with Franco during the Spanish Civil War.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Their God is Not Our God

Drew, over at The Shrine of the Holy Whapping, has written a fine piece on why the God of Islam is a much different entity from the God of Christianity. Excerpt:

The Christian God is **Good**. He is the True, the Good, and the Beautiful, as it were. God is not "Great," however; not great in that solely transcendant, utterly inscrutible, and stainlessly reverenced manner of greatness which Islam claims for Allah.

And Goodness can take on the form of Good Friday and a death on the Cross. The Crucifixion, and the theology and spirituality of the Cross, is what Islam so desperately needs. Because Allah is "Great" and can suffer no dishonor, no harm, Allah's prophets, likewise, can suffer no dishonor. This is why the Muslims are uber-sensitive about Mohammed. It is also why the Muslims abhor the idea that Jesus Christ was Crucified: they believe Jesus Christ existed as some manner of prophet, and because Christ was a prophet, could absolutely not have suffered the ignomity of the Cross.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Oh Boy, Another Blog

A welcoming moo from The Bovina Bloviator! This blog will concern itself mostly with matters political, from the Neanderthal perspective, and religious, with emphasis on the Episcopal Church of the United States of America and its inexorable march to irrelevance and eventual extinction. Sure-fire topics both and bound to lead, in this blogger's opinion, to a readership numbering in the near double-digits. In order to drive down readership even further, there will also be occasional postings on culture; music in particular, mostly classical (Hello? Anyone out there?).

Abusive comments are welcome, at least until Taurus finds them tiresome at which point they and their author will be unceremoniously dumped.