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Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Bishop Robinson Sounds Out

UPDATE: The text was garbled in an earlier version of this posting. I have made corrections and hope it is at least marginally clearer than before.

In a long, wordy and complaint-filled diatribe, Bishop Robinson of New Hampshire excoriates the Anglican Primates and asks the question,

How will we explain this "forbearance" to all those gay and lesbian Christians who have come to The Episcopal Church because, for the first time ever, they have believed that there is a place for them AT God’s table, not simply BENEATH it, hoping for fallen scraps?

Uh, Bishop, have you ever come across these lines?

We do not presume to come to this thy Table, O merciful Lord, trusting in our own righteousness, but in thy manifold and great mercies. We are not worthy so much as to gather up the crumbs (let alone scraps!) under thy Table.

That's from something called the Prayer of Humble Access and a long, long time ago it was said in every Episcopal Church in the land at Communion (I know, I know, it's in that old-fashioned Victorian English stuff). The message is plain: none of us, gay, straight or whatever, is entitled to a place at God's table were it not for Him, "whose property is always to have mercy." We are all equal in the eyes of the Lord. We are also loved by Him even though we are all sinners, the sins as many as our number. Just because some of us can't be priests or bishops, sir, doesn't mean we are held in lesser esteem by God, OK? Or are you saying that priests and bishops are a better class of Christian than we common lay folk? I don't think that's the case, do you?

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

A Newspaper Story We're Not Likely to See


By Rooters
February 27, 2007

Widespread civil unrest erupted today in cities throughout California as masked Christian anarchists smashed store windows and hurled rocks and bottles at police and national guard troops trying to restore order. The protesters were expressing unhappiness with director and atheist James Cameron’s assertion in his new documentary, "The Lost Tomb of Christ," that an ossuary discovered in Israel contained the actual bones of Jesus Christ, thus contradicting the biblical account his resurrection and ascension. Cameron also claims the ossuary may have contained the bones of Jesus' "wife and child." Outraged Christian demonstrators insisted such claims were "blasphemous" and vowed vengeance on all those who made them.

"Death to the great Satan Cameron," repeatedly shouted Sister Mary Elizabeth Seton, a Roman Catholic nun in full habit, as she hurled Molotov cocktails into a Blockbuster Video Outlet in Los Angeles. "We will seek out the infidel Cameron, his entire family and send them straight to hell! Ave Maria!" Another protester, Brother Juniper, a Franciscan monk, called for the "beheading" of all those seen entering theaters where Cameron's film was showing. He and other monks were later seen overturning and torching a police car.

Civil leaders and church officials in California urged calm. From his office in Sacramento, the Rt. Rev'd Disraeli C. "Trip" Madison, Episcopal Bishop of the Diocese of Central California, said that while he and "the vast majority of Christians deplored the violence," it was important to understand the "root causes of Christian antagonism toward atheists" and he urged "dialogue and engagement" between the two groups. Bishop Madison also called for more outreach programs in the schools promoting toleration and acceptance of atheists among Christians.

Meanwhile, the president of Atheists in America, Helen Jackson, at a press conference today, demanded increased police protection at atheist houses of worship such as pornography outlets and public schools after receiving multiple threats. Standing along side Ms. Jackson was Yuseff Ibrahim Abdul, imam of the third largest mosque in San Bernardino, who expressed solidarity with his "atheist brothers" in their struggle against extremest Christians. He and Ms. Jackson called for a "national day of prayer or whatever" for both atheists and Muslims next Sunday. "It's time to stop the violence," the imam said.

Friday, February 23, 2007

ECUSA: Painted Itself into a Corner

More sharp insight on the mess we're in from a seemingly unlikely source (and be sure to read the whole thing):

"The Episcopal Church should never have gotten into this business in the first place. No one paid any attention to the official view on gay sex or cared any more than they cared about official doctrine on heterosexual cohabitation. The Church gave tacit approval and there was no point in making an issue of it. But TEC painted itself into a corner: now backing down on same-sex unions and the ordination of sexually active homosexuals would constitute an expression of disapproval—tacit approval isn't possible any longer.

"They’re stuck, and have just postponed the showdown. When the deadline comes they’ll either have to go with the program, selling gays down the river, or else it’s back to go—more fighting, stalling and fudging, power plays, politicking and legal action. The only difference on this round will be the existence of a conservative “church within the church” on the ground, in the US, with official standing in TEC, to make things even worse. Remember, you read it here first."

H/T to Titusonenine. Go there and read the excellent responses on this piece. A lot of them are devastating, especially this one.

From a Trinity Church Wall Street Parishioner

In the New York Sun:

Some of the most vocal opponents of the Episcopal Church's politics come from Africa, where Anglican archbishops are on the front lines of spreading the Gospel in the face of poverty, disease, and the influences of radical Islam. These men draw strength from the authority of the scriptures and the centuries-old traditions of the church. They are bewildered, to say the least, at what they see as arrogant actions of a rich American church.

Indeed, a common view among Episcopalians is that these Africans should either fall into line and stop criticizing their American brothers or risk ending the flow of American funding to their ministries. There's nothing like money, it seems, to coax people into seeing things your way.

Read it all here.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

So Much for "Changing the Tone"

The two leading Democratic candidates for president (and I can't believe I'm writing that phrase a year-and-a-half before the election), Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama went after each other yesterday, all guns blazing. Seems Obama backer David Geffen chided Hillary and Bill Clinton, saying of them, "Everybody in politics lies, but they do it with such ease, it's troubling." Hillary went ballistic and demanded that Obama, who has pledged to "change the tone of politics," disavow Geffen's comments and return his campaign contributions. Instead, Obama's spokesman Robert Gibbs responded sweetly, "It is ironic that the Clintons had no problem with David Geffen when he was raising them $18 million and sleeping at their invitation in the Lincoln Bedroom." Meow!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Ash Wednesday at Saint Thomas Church

If possible I try to attend the Ash Wednesday Mass at St. Thomas Church Fifth Avenue and this year it was. The good Fr. Andrew Mead preached on the absolute necessity of contrition (from the Latin contritus, "ground to pieces") before attaining grace and cited King David, who after impregnating Bathsheeba, ordererd her husband Uriah's commander Joab to abandon him on the battlefield. The prophet Nathan called out David for his wickedness and David's repentence took the form of Psalm 51, Misereri Mei, Deus.

As they do every year when the ashes are imposed but especially befitting considering the sermon, the superb choir of men and boys sang the haunting setting of Psalm 51 by Gregorio Allegri. The choir is justly famous for their singing of this work, indeed they are famous for everything they sing. In the quiet, dignified and beautiful setting of Saint Thomas Church, it was good and restoring to forget, at least for a time, the battles raging in our Church today and just pray for the state our souls. I am also thankful to God for Saint Thomas Church and their unexcelled practice of orthodox Anglican worhip.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

The Countdown Begins

The Primates in Dar es Salaam finally wrapped up their business late last night by issuing a communiqué, a summation of their decisions resulting from the meeting. With regard to what to do about the Episcopal Church, they actually showed some teeth, directing ECUSA to to clean up her act and comply with the Windsor Report. The Primates will also provide pastoral care for those who cannot recognize Katharine Jefforts Schori as their presiding bishop. ECUSA has been given a deadline of September 30th to comply with the Primates' requests or be considered to have "walked apart" from the Communion.

This could be the final countdown for ECUSA. KJS has a difficult task in front of her: If she goes along with the Primates' requests the revisionists will go ballistic, there is no way they will accept them and may well secede. And of course, the orthodox are already doing so and will do so in droves should ECUSA not implement the Primates' requests and the communion is broken for good. I don't envy KJS's position one bit and we must pray for her.

Surely our Church's fate is now in God's hands.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Killing Them with Kindness

Update: A commenter points out I was wrong with my facts on Gene Robinson. The following is the Wikipedia entry on +Robinson and I assume it is correct:

He moved to New Hampshire in 1975 and became Canon to the Ordinary in 1988. While attending the Seminary, he sought counseling to rid himself of homosexual thoughts. The counseling did not change his sexual orientation, and in 1972 he married despite these feelings about his sexuality, of which he had informed his fiancée. After having two daughters (Jamee and Ella), Robinson publicly acknowledged his homosexuality. He and his wife divorced in 1986, but remain friends. Around 1989, Robinson met his current partner, Mark Andrews, who currently works in the New Hampshire state government. Robinson has one granddaughter, Morgan Isabella. [2]

Please accept my sincere apologies. The posting below has been corrected.

This past Thursday at the Primates Meeting in Dar es Salaam, the Report of the Communion Sub-Group was released. The Sub-Group, an assemblage of high-ranking officials in the Anglican Communion, including the Archbishop of Canterbury, was assigned the task of determining whether the Episcopal Church responded sufficiently to the Windsor Report 2004. The Windsor Report came about as a result of the installation of Gene Robinson, a gay non-celibate who lives with his partner, as Bishop of New Hampshire. The Report called on the Episcopal Church to apologize for his installation, to cease consecrating bishops in same-sex unions and refrain from "Rites of Blessing of same-sex unions." At the very end of the 2006 General Convention last summer ECUSA finally got around to responding to the Windsor Report. To most people of an orthodox bent, the response was hardly adequate (indeed it was almost Clintonian in its evasiveness, even containing one those "if anybody can somehow possibly construe what we did was offensive, we're sorry" apologies). It didn't help matters at all that several bishops announced immediately afterwords they would pay no attention to ECUSA's tepid response.

Despite the weak response, the Sub-Group pretty much gave ECUSA a pass, stating it was sufficient for the most part. The reaction of the orthodox was immediate and harsh, with much upbraiding of the Archbishop and the others for their lack of spine. However, after mulling it over a few days, I think the Archbishop and his colleagues are considerably spinier than their critics suppose and pretty crafty as well. By being so kind and forgiving they may actually be making future life quite difficult for ECUSA revisionists.

What the very carefully written report of the Sub-Group in essence says is: "Thank you, ECUSA for acknowledging our concerns and agreeing to our requests." This puts ECUSA in a bit of a bind because revisionists, from Katharine Jefforts Schori on down, have done neither of those things. Indeed, KJS said just the other day she would not back down a bit on the gay matter (and we can be confident she will won't back down on weighty matters like Scriptural relevancy and the uniqueness of Christ as means to salvation).

The revisionists will gleefully wave the Sub-Group's exoneration but unless they change their ways that report could prove their undoing. If another gay non-celibate is installed as bishop, as seems likely, ECUSA's leadership, by going against that to which the Sub-Group claims they agreed, will be in a much tighter spot than before and will have far greater difficulty wiggling out of it (not that they won't try). So while we orthodox were hoping for quicker action against apostasy at the Primates meeting and have so far been disappointed (mind you, it isn't over till Monday and a surprise could still be in store), the Sub-Group's report, with its lawyerly, mild and oh-so-British understatement, might prove to be the very instrument by which the revisionists will get their comeuppance.

And Now, a Scandal Outside the Church

Yesterday a colleague at work tipped me off to a fine, fine scandal breaking in an area where it is relatively unknown, classical music. The late Joyce Hatto of England seemed to be a prolific recording artist and those recordings, produced by her husband on his own label, met with consistent high acclaim. Now it appears that the acclaim, while indeed justified, was owed to the many other pianists whose recordings they actually were. What's fun about this brouhaha is both the plagiarism and its discovery were made possible by today's technology. The pilfered recordings were digitally altered to make them slightly different from the originals but not different enough, apparently. Gramophone, the British music journal, reports:

Several days ago, another Gramophone critic decided to listen to a Hatto Liszt CD, of the 12 Transcendental Studies. He put the disc into his computer to listen, and something awfully strange happened. His computer's player identified the disc as, yes, the Liszt, but not a Hatto recording. Instead, his display suggested that the disc was one on BIS Records, by the pianist Laszlo Simon. Mystified, our critic checked his Hatto disc against the actual Simon recording, and to his amazement they sounded exactly the same.

If you want to hear for yourself go here for actual samples. Hatto's husband has been mum about the whole business but something tells me he's got some 'splainin' to do.

It was not possible to confirm rumors Sen. Joseph Biden served as a consultant on these productions.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Your Tax Dollars at Work

Yesterday the City of New York launched (at taxpayer expense, of course) a $1.5 million program to give away 26 million condoms, colorfully packaged with their own brand name, NYC CONDOM.

I suppose with all the other vastly more expensive nonsense for which we taxpayers foot the bill here in New York, this is pretty small beer. Just the same I find this latest episode of do-gooding hooey particularly offensive. In the press release announcing the condoms-for-all program there is this breathtaking assertion: "It's an important reminder that having fun and having safer sex are not mutually exclusive. New Yorkers should use a condom every time they have sex."So here we have the city's officialdom, from Mayor Bloomberg on down, enthusiastically broadcasting the message, especially to teenagers, "go out and get laid, we'll only scold you if you don't wear a rubber." Does it mark me as an utter prude I think that really is not an appropriate message to receive the mayor's imprimatur? If so, amen, amen.

I might also point out if "New Yorkers" are in a monogamous relationship they don't have to "use a condom every time they have sex" in order to stave off disease. If one is faithful, one doesn't get infected. Disease is spread around by people sleeping around. Also not found in the press release is the alarming %3-%14 failure rate of condoms, a pretty high margin of error for one hoping to avoid getting AIDS.

As far as I know, only Edward Cardinal Egan and Edward (DiMarzio), Bishop of Brooklyn have been brave enough to speak out against this dreadful program, saying that it "degrades society." That's putting it mildly, your Eminence and your Grace but since you will have tons of abuse and sneers heaped upon you by activists and New York Times types for being so "judgemental," please let this obscure blogger offer you thanks and gratitude for being the voice of righteousness, albeit largely unheard, in these crass times.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

I Happen to Be One Myself.

A commenter writes:

I was at the meeting at St. John's in Lodia (see posting below). I am not a graybeard, and I am not a member of that congregation. I am a member of another parish in the diocese of San Joaquin. You ask if the counterparts at the meeting could sit through a whole session as the Rt Rev John David Scholfield did. Many of us have done so numerous times in the last few years, at Deanery meetings and at general convention. The service and meeting at St. Johns was refreshing and uplifting for so many of us in the diocese who have had no voice for a long time. And I am so weary of the disdain and disrespectful comments by the "conservatives" who think they have the only possible understanding of "truth."

The Bloviator responds:

Judging by the people I see in the picture below, almost all of them look at least as old as I. When I don't shave, my whiskers are as gray as a winter day in Germany so I think I am qualified to point out graybeards when I see them. Perhaps you younger folks were out of camera range.

You've "had no voice for a long time?" Welcome to the club, I've felt the same, for over thirty years. Not that that hasn't stopped those who claim to be on the side of inclusiveness from showering me and those who share my "conservative" (I'm not ashamed of that word) views with abuse and condescension.

Regarding my understanding of the "truth" (why do you use quotation marks there?): My understanding of it with respect to Church doctrine is that it is based on Scripture, the Creeds and the Thirty-Nine Articles. Modern day ECUSA seems to regard those three items as mere historical artifacts, to be adjusted, de-emphazied or just plain ignored as necessary should they happen to conflict with ever changing contemporary mores. I demur.

Like you, I am truly weary of the disdain and disrespect. I suspect I have been putting up with it a lot longer than you but relief is at hand for both of us. There will be a bust up, soon. The two sides today sadly resemble the bitter and acrimonious partners in a long but utterly failed marriage. Ruth Gledhill got it right in the London Times today: It's time for a divorce; the warring parties should go their separate ways for their mutual good health and sanity.

Maybe then there can be some healing. God be with you.

The Guest of Honor

Lookie here! Bonnie Anderson, President of the House of Deputies, spoke recently at the Church of Saint John the Baptist in Lodi, California. Saint John's is one of the few parishes in the Diocese of San Joaquin that voted against fleeing ECUSA and the purpose of her visit was to give a pep talk to the many graybeards of that congregation and to speak to the folly of the decision of the vast majority of that diocese to fly the coop. Well, the leader of the jailbreak, as you may know, is His Grace, the Rt. Rev'd John-David Schofield and that is he in the picture above, in purple, sitting in the front row. According to the Rev'd Daniel Martins who attended, +Schofield was there from "start to finish" and said not a word. A good sport, wouldn't you say? I wonder if his counterparts on the other side would be so game.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Yikes! Who Knew?

" 'As a constituency, the Christian left isn't taken all that seriously,' [Cornell University law professor Eduardo] Penalver said."

From The Politico (h/t The Jawa Report)

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Policy Change at Whitehall

The ever-estimable Fr. WB at Whitehall has announced a policy change regarding the Presiding Bishop:

I'm not going to blog about her. This (I hope and intend) will be my last post about Schori's blindness, etc. It's not that she shouldn't be talked about, shouldn't be refuted; it's not that her apostasy shouldn't be named and decried. It should be. But I'll leave that to others. I just can't do it without cynicism, anger and depression. It's bad for my soul.

Quite right, Father, and while we will miss your trenchant commentary on the PeeBee, there are plenty of others to take up the slack. The sad truth is, however, there really is no need for it. Every time KJS opens her mouth she damns herself with far greater efficacy than anything you, I, or anybody else can write. You also write we should pray for her. Indeed we must, diligently. While we should be concerned for all the myriad New-Age Gnostics in this rich and over privileged country, KJS, by holding high ecclesiastical office, is exposing her soul to far greater peril, I believe, and thus deserving of our most fervent prayers.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

A Timeline to Disaster

Those interested in how the Episcopal Church got into its present morass may wish to peruse this well put-together timeline which lists the events of the past 80 years that caused her to go so far off the rails. Many will quibble when the line should begin. Catholics may insist (with some merit) the timeline should begin at the year 1536 when Parliament passed the Act of Supremacy, making Henry VIII head of the Church of England. Some Evangelicals may date the decline to 2003 with the election and installation of +Gene Robinson of New Hampshire, an adulterous priest who abandoned his wife and two daughters and moved in with another man, an event I regard as just the hideous last straw. My view is the downward slope to universalism grew precipitously in 1967 when the Church's leadership decided against a trial of +Pike of California for heresy even though he denied fundamental doctrines of the Church, including the Trinity and virgin birth. The Church's lamentable inaction is, to me, the proverbial camel's nose under the tent that led to the enormities of the next forty years.

Few, however, can quibble that any of the events found on the timeline were not deleterious and it's authors' (it's a wiki) are owed thanks for giving us this handy reference. Particular thanks should go to Andy Figueroa of the Stand Firm gang who conceived it (immaculately, no doubt!).

Monday, February 05, 2007

Rudy's Running

Rudolph Giuliani has filed with the Federal Election Commission declaring his intention to run for president. I'm glad even though he is by no means the perfect candidate. I differ strongly with his views on abortion and gun control and when he was U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of N.Y. his behavior could be appalling, heavy-handed and grandstanding. On the other hand, when he took office as mayor of New York, crime was out of control, people were fleeing the city and the city's fisc was a mess. He turned things around in remarkably short order. Also impressive and gratifying, he was (and is) utterly impervious to demagogues like Al Sharpton, who was not once permitted to enter City Hall while Giuliani was in office. Once he ordered the NYPD to eject the late Yasser Arafat from Avery Fisher Hall after that murderous thug had crashed a UN event there. "My only regret was I didn't throw him out myself," was his response to the howls from the critics, President Clinton on down.

Rudy's refusal to be cowed by the self-righteous fools at the New York Times, ACLU, NAACP etc. earned him many enemies when he was mayor and many people here hate him still. There is no denying he can be headstrong, stubborn and resistant to criticism. But having lived in New York City during the bad old days, when city was going down the toilet, it is an easy matter to forgive him his flaws for his virtues far outweigh them. These virtues were especially evident during the horrible days following 9/11 where he displayed true leadership, calm and compasionate. His running for president is welcome news and certainly improves the prospects for the 2008 elections. (h/t Riehl World View)