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Friday, June 29, 2007

Second-Best Friends

The outfit for which I work is closing. It has lost money for several years and the brass of the parent company, no doubt considering at once the sad balance sheet, the state of the industry and the skyrocketing property values decided it was in the shareholders' best interest to jettison the operation and sell the property to real estate interests. No argument there, they were exercising their fiduciary responsibilities as officers of a publicly traded company and could do no other. A good number of employees have been let go but most of them, even the unionized ones, agree the severance package is generous and that they have been treated fairly. I am one of the lucky ones, my job was spared; my knowledge of a rather arcane subject is sufficient enough the company has decided to hang on to me.

Still, today was a sad one. There have been over the weeks several goodbye parties but today's was the most poignant and the best, perhaps because of its impromptu nature. There is a bar up the street and at quitting time many of those whose last day was today headed up to the joint to knock back a few and share memories. The chief honcho of the studio got wind of that, went to the bar himself, plunked down his credit card and instructed the bartender to take care of everyone the next several hours, a generous gesture. As you might imagine even more people showed up, including myself, to say goodbye and drink gratis. I was moved observing this disparate but talented bunch with whom I had worked because I am not likely to see most of them again, despite my seeing them everyday these past ten years. Friends at work are not like friends outside of work: we usually don't invite them to our homes nor into our private lives. But they are our friends anyway. Over the years I have been to the funerals of three of my work friends and mourned the deaths of several more. I have found myself laughing myself silly with some of them, getting drunk with others and commiserating over losses with others still.

I can only speak for myself of course but I think it is impossible for most people to have more than a few close personal friends (and am suspicious of those who claim otherwise). But it is not impossible to have many second-best friends, like those many co-workers whom I will so miss, and I think they are as much a blessing from Him as those few close chums (whom we see far less frequently, ironically) who are our best friends. Thanks be to God.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Diversity Training

From an address the Pope gave last March in St. Peter's Square on St. Irenaeus, whom he called the "first theologian:"

There is a beautiful expression that Irenaeus uses in the book "Against Heresies": "The Church, having received this preaching and this faith, although scattered throughout the whole world, yet, as if occupying but one house, carefully preserves it. She also believes these points (of doctrine) just as if she had but one soul, and one and the same heart, and she proclaims them, and teaches them, and hands them down, with perfect harmony, as if she possessed only one mouth. For, although the languages of the world are dissimilar, yet the import of the tradition is one and the same. For the Churches which have been planted in Germany do not believe or hand down anything different, nor do those in Spain, nor those in Gaul, nor those in the East, nor those in Egypt, nor those in Libya, nor those which have been established in the central regions of the world."

We can already see at this time -- we are in the year 200 -- the universality of the Church, its catholicity and the unifying force of truth, which unites these so-very-different realities, from Germany, to Spain, to Italy, to Egypt, to Libya, in the common truth revealed to us by Christ.

This is, to use the word so beloved of the multiculturalists, diversity, in the happiest sense: people of wildly disparate backgrounds but because they are united in and by One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church are able to preserve and celebrate their differences. To insist there can be pluralism in faith, as the lefty cultural relativists do, can only lead to balkanization, chaos and, well, Protestantism.

(Thanks to Diogenes)

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Policy Change

Maybe it was the story about the woman priest who claims to be a Muslim, too; maybe it was the HOB spitting in the faces of +Cantuar and the African primates last March; maybe it's whenever Katharine Jefferts Schori, alas, opens her mouth. Maybe it is fatigue from thirty years of usurpation of the traditional church by revisionists but whatever the cause, the effect is I am finding it increasingly difficult these days to write about ECUSA , it's just not fun anymore. And while the present management's interpretation of Christianity is wildly at odds with mine and other traditionalists, I must also be realistic and recognize ECUSA is now mostly owned and operated by the revisionists thus is theirs to do with as they see fit.

I think it would be wise for all Episcopalians of a traditionalist bent to concede the Church is not going to change its present course, even if that leads to its eventual demise: the revisionists have too much ideological capital invested to consider veering even slightly from the present route. Therefore, those of us who cannot in good conscience accompany the revisionists on their present path must chose a different one, apart from ECUSA . Personally, I cannot state for certain where next my Christian journey will take me (who can?) but can aver it seems highly unlikely come next Easter I will still be Episcopalian, or even an Anglican, perhaps. There is no room anymore for the traditionalist in ECUSA and the sooner traditionalists accept that painful fact and move on, the better it will be, for both sides.

A principal benefit going separate ways, I think, should be possibility of genuine reconciliation between the warring factions. Those traditional parishes wishing to remain Anglican but not Episcopalian and desiring to keep the properties they've held for generations should by all means fight the good fight. However, should they lose in the courts, they should remember they are Christians, be mindful of their rhetoric and cheerfully hand over the keys to their victors and forgive them. Those on the revisionist side would also be wise to tone down the verbiage: flinging words like "racist," "hateful," "homophobic" etc. in your opponents faces accomplishes nothing, neither persuading them the rightness of your cause nor bringing them back into your churches. And should the revisionists lose a property fight they, too, should hand over the keys and forgive. Everyone should agree a church with parishioners, even those who worship differently from you, presents a far more pleasing prospect than a church turned into a disco.

So I don't think there will be much more bloviation in this space concerning ECUSA, except as it pertains to me personally in my journey, should that be of any interest. There are other subjects to write upon and I intend to do so. I thank those of you who have been kind enough to read this silly blog thus far and hope you will continue to do so. I also hope you will feel perfectly free to tear your Bloviator to shreds should you feel sufficiently outraged by his opinions. God bless.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Well, Which Is It? Bring 'Em in or Leave 'Em at the Door?

The Rev'd Ms. Ann Holmes Redding on why she became a Muslim (but still remains an Episcopalian priest):

"It wasn't about intellect," she said. "All I know is the calling of my heart to Islam was very much something about my identity and who I am supposed to be."

The Rt. Rev'd Leopold Frade on why he became an Episcopalian:

"It was love at first sight and there I discovered a church that didn't ask you to leave your brain at the door, but allowed you to come in with your brain in order for you to think and reason with it . . ."

P. G. Wodehouse:

"If he had a mind, there was something on it."

Sunday, June 17, 2007

The American Way

Last March, a horrific house fire in the Bronx, probably caused by the improper use of a space heater, killed the wife and four children of Mamadou Soumare, an illegal immigrant from Mali. In addition, the five children of Moussa Magassa, a friend of Soumare's and the owner of the house, were also killed. The aftermath of this tragedy was one of those inspiring events we don't see enough of these days, an outpouring of generosity. Huge sums of money were donated, and political figures successfully lobbied immigration authorities to allow Soumare to return to the United States after travelling to Africa to bury his family. The support he received, according to his lawyer, "lit the shadow of his tragedy with light."

Wait a sec, according to his lawyer? Yep, that's right, for you see last week Michael Wildes, representing Mamadou Soumare, filed a notice of claim, the first step in a lawsuit, against the City, the Fire Department (which arrived three minutes after being called and suffered two injuries among its own) and, for good measure, Soumare's friend Magassa, who owned the house and lost his five kids. The suit will allege the City "fail[ed]to do the appropriate inspections," that the FDNY "failed to respond in a timely manner to extinguish or control the fire" and Soumare's pal Magassa "knew or should have known that a dangerous condition existed in this area and/or otherwise in the dwelling." The damages asked will be $100 million.

I have long argued that while immigration is good for America, it is imperative immigrants become assimilated to the American way of life in order to be good and productive citizens, able to fit in with their neighbors. Isn't it heartening Mamadou Soumare has been such a quick and able study? And bless those dedicated ambulance chasers for so selflessly undertaking his tutelage.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

When God Is Not in the Details

Twenty years ago yesterday President Ronald Reagan, giving a speech in Berlin, called on General Secretary Gorbachev of the Soviet Union to "tear down this wall." The usual left-wing Pecksniffians as well our own State Department (sigh) were aghast at such outrage but it was of course well received by real people and whaddya know, two years later the wall came down.

A wonderful blog I've just come across, On Dover Beach, noting this significant anniversary observes not only is communism ugly, politically and morally but aesthetically, too and offers a good explanation why: the absence of God.

I think it's because everything true and beautiful comes from God. Cut yourself off from Him, study to forget Him, and after a while, all you can make are things that are temporarily useful. While the memory, the thought-habit, of God's primary creation is still present, as it is the West now, things of lesser good can still be made; but soon, all effort turns to things that can be used for domination. And not just domination of the State over individuals, but also the domination of the weak over the weaker (e.g., abortion on demand, and the killing of human embryos for potential disease therapies). This, after all, was what Lucifer chose when he rebelled: better to reign in Hell, as Milton so colorfully gave him to say -- where I can dominate everyone and everything around me with my own demi-god inventions, according to my own lights and rules -- than serve in Heaven. Than acknowledge that God is God, and I am not.

Read it all, this guy is good. If hell is indeed the absence of God, communism offers visual manifestation of it.


Monday, June 11, 2007

Ugliness is Such a Bore

The Right Reverend Leopold Frade, Bishop of Southeast Florida recently preached a confirmation sermon (h/t Cap'n Yips) which if nothing else will serve as a useful compendium of who and what the Episcopal Church has become. Getting off to a good start and establishing his 'sixties street creds, Frade begins, and lards throughout his sermon, the refrain of the Leonard Cohen song "Anthem" (I confess I am partial to Leonard Cohen but there's no denying his appeal is mostly to people of and over a certain age).

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in.

The point his Grace Southeast Florida tries to make is the expanding and increasing number of "cracks" in the Episcopal Church is actually a good thing and no effort should be made to patch them up. He then, like so much of ECUSA's leadership these days, dubiously equates the controversy over ECUSA's current apostasy with the heady and heroic days of the Church in the 'sixties, when she served on the front lines of the civil rights struggle.

Sadly, a merely silly sermon quickly deteriorates to downright ugly when +Frade levies perhaps the most staggeringly arrogant charge yet at traditionalists. Attempting to "explain" the plummeting attendance in the Episcopal Church, he writes,

Some talk about the decrease in membership in our church as a symptom of our discussion on sexuality. But they forget to mention that the main exodus from our denomination was not because of Prayer Book changes or the ordination of women or the acceptance of gays and lesbians, but it was mainly due to the departure of white persons who refused to worship next to a black person who had dared to enter into their beloved homogeneous, culturally friendly environment through cracks that were being made by our clergy and laity to end segregation and discrimination.

This is demagoguery. What evidence of racism in those leaving can Frade offer? Can he offer a single quote from them proving it? If they are such racists and bigots can he explain why so many of them, ironically including those in the Old Dominion, so urgently seek episcopal care from black-as-ink Nigerian, Rwandan and Ugandan bishops (and if Frade is so appalled by the alleged bigotry, why then does he engage in gratuitous Catholic bashing in the same sermon)? It is a common and cheap practice of the left to accuse opponents of racism because it is a charge for which there is neither defense nor refutation. Shrieking "racist" at an adversary not only garners clucks of approval from peers and the sympathetic media but also, in most cases, cowers the opponent into silence, lacking as he does any effective defense; in short, it is the tactic of bullies and their hangers-on, albeit desperate ones in this instance. For increasingly, the only people who buy into the crap offered up by Frade, Schori and the like to explain away the disastrous results their policies have wrought are their kindred spirits, everyone else having long ago wearied of it. And it surely indicates a gross intellectual deficiency of Church leadership to think they can insult and badger those departing into returning.

If Bishop Frade's mean-spirited rantings are the consensus of the leadership of the Episcopal Church, as I believe they are, than that institution has reached a new low, hit rock-bottom, and is fully revealed as the ugly, cowardly and unchristian institution she has become as well as an acrimonious bore.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Wailing and Gnashing of Teeth

Here's a smattering of quotes from two recent works, one a book by Patrice Higgonet (Professor of History at Harvard), Attendant Cruelties, putatively a history of the United States but in reality a raging polemic directed at the Bush Administration and the people who voted for it; the other, an essay by the Rt. Rev'd Sergio Carranza in Angelus, a publication for clergy in the Diocese of Los Angeles, entitled "The Soul of Anglicism:"

From Attendant Cruelties (from the review in the New York Sun):

Once Americans had put to death — and in the most ghastly way — tens of thousands of unarmed civilians in a country that was already on its knees [by dropping the atomic bomb on Japan], every other abuse becomes feasible as well: the massacres of civilians in Korea and Vietnam, Agent Orange, Guantanamo...

It was likewise from some deep instinct that George W. Bush seized on the idea of a ‘War on Terror' in order to realize his dream of a softly fascistic America...

We speak of the Jewish fundamentalism of Bibi Netanyahu, of the Muslim fundamentalism of Osama bin Laden, and of the Christian fundamentalism of George W. Bush...

From "The Soul of Anglicism" (h/t TitusOneNine):

In the battle to capture the soul of Anglicanism, the great loser -after the Anglican Communion itself--would seem to be the Archbishop of Canterbury, who in a desperate attempt to preserve the unity of the Communion has submitted to the machinations of an anachronistic evangelicalism which pretends to "complete" the English Reformation by imposing a monolithic uniformity on the manner in which we interpret Scripture and carry on the contextual ministry that our culture requires...

Once enthroned, Rowan Williams found himself caught in the web of a plot of international dimensions in which radical British evangelicals, ultraconservative American schismatics and an ambitious African Primate, with his band of assenting minions, had joined forces to capture the soul of Anglicanism, at the same time that they advanced their own particular agendas...

See the similarities? Two people of rank, position and, ostensibly, education yet so consumed with ideological rage they are blind to reason and proportion. Thus Monsieur le Professeur equates the detaining of Islamic thugs at Guantanomo Bay with the dropping of A-Bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki; His Grace the Bishop beholds the efforts of traditional Christians, despairing of their once-beloved Episcopal Church's apostasy and seeking some sort of alternative to it while remaining loyal to Anglicanism and detects a vast international conspiracy. Roll out the Reynold's wrap!

All in all, this is a good thing. The foaming-at-the-mouth lefties seem to realize the jig is up, the average Joe just isn't going to buy their lousy product. Frustrated and giving up any pretense to niceness, all they can do now is bellow and moan to their fellow travellers what a benighted lot the rest of us are and bewail what moronic (and racist/hateful/hegemonic/etc.) leaders we chose . These loud ones will attain their immediate goals: for those in the church, ECUSA; for those in politics, the Democratic Party. However, the more these angry frustrated souls scream and shriek and as the decibel level rises, the more clearly the truth of their agenda is revealed and the more the people will desert them. The church they've inherited is on its way to extinction and their political party . . . well, let's just see how it fares in 2008 with its platform of socialism, sedition and surrender. And if you think the words directed at Bush are vitriolic, just imagine what they'll be like if someone like Fred Thompson is elected president.

Monday, June 04, 2007

The Bride (and Groom) Wore Black

From the New York Times Society Pages:

The Rev. Mark Alan Lewis and the Rev. K. Dennis Winslow, Episcopal priests, were joined in civil union on Tuesday. The Rev. Tim S. Hall, also an Episcopal priest, officiated at the couple’s home in Union City, N.J., assisted by his wife, the Rev. Jacqueline Schmidt . . .

Mr. Winslow, referring to the many marriage ceremonies he has performed, said: “I say over and over again to couples, ‘Please don’t let us down. You’ve made these promises to us in public. Keep those promises.’ And that’s what we intend to do.”

That's kind of sweet. Of course, I recall a time way back when the betrothed made their promises to God but can understand the Rev'd Messrs. Winslow and Lewis lightening up a little on that draconian requirement: men are so absolutely impossible to live with.

(Thanks to Ron)

Dang, I Wish I'd Written This . . .

But I didn't. Fortunately the nonpareil Captain Yips did:

TEC is the Anglican Communion’s crazy Aunt Melinda, the aging hippy who comes to family reunions in a floaty tie-dyed mumu, carrying an immense, daisy-appliqued straw handbag. In that bag she has a ziploc of grass and a S & W Model 10 (“for when the pigs come for me”), asks everyone if they want a toke, and then talks loudly about her sex life in explicit detail. Melinda, though, is rich with money left by generations, and money has bought her tolerance - up to a point. Recently, some members of the family have wondered if she’s past it, have begun refusing to come to parties and events if she shows up, and some are even muttering that maybe Melinda needs a trustee.

I doff my hat to you, sir.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Who'da Thunk It?

Former Christian John Shelby Spong finally gets it right:

"I believe that I am witnessing the death of Christianity, as it has been historically understood," BishopSpong writes in his provocative new book, Jesus for the Non-Religious (Harper San Francisco, $24.95).

Spong neglects of course to mention this sad demise is occurring only in mainstream Protestant churches and also modestly fails to mention his part sticking the knife in and twisting it.

By the way, here's a handy, money-saving tip from the Bovina Bloviator: when a book, treatise or entertainment is labeled "provocative" you may be confident it is merely yet another recycling of left-wing claptrap, aimed at readers of the New York Review of Books and the like who find this stuff scintillating with each and every recitation.

(h/t MCJ)

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Ah, The Good Old Days

Something to think about on election day (from the New York Post):

Famed drag diva RuPaul prefers the old and nasty Meatpacking District to today's shopping paradise. "Back in the '90s, when I was in demand and our country was operated under the Democratic Party, the Meatpacking District was a lovely place to pick up a dirty hooker for a quick lay," said RuPaul...

Ye shall know them by their fruits.

Friday, June 01, 2007

The Episcopal Church: For Dudes Only

Chris Johnson of MCJ, employing his usual deft touch, regales us with some of the more unhinged reactions from the usual suspects following +Cantuar's decision not to invite Gene Robinson to the next Lambeth Conference. I won't steal his thunder, you should read it all, but the following cherce example, from the pen of the Rev'd Nigel Taber-Hamilton nicely illustrates the prevailing mood of the moonbats these days.

If, therefore, we continue to tolerate those who are uninterested in conversation, mutual acceptance, and radical inclusion, then we place our own necks on Mme. Guillotine’s block and hand our opponents the executioner’s cord. These neo-Puritans are focusing intently on the destruction of tolerance’s foundational values. Our demise would result in the success of their narrow and puritanical agenda within the broader Church, and herald a similar victory over the open society of our North American culture

says the the Rev'd Taber-Hamilton, mildly.

Rev'd Sir, Rev'd Sir: Cheer up and dry those tears, I have good news for you! Those blue(nose) meanies in the Church that have all you dudes so worked up into a lather have asked me to pass on a message: they hear you and they're leaving! Soon you'll have the whole Church to yourselves, with NO FASCISTS ALLOWED! Think of it: you can play Twister in the Sanctuary and Dungeons and Dragons on the altar; you can play "Chopsticks," "Heart and Soul" and King Crimson on the organ, over and over again; no one will stop you! You can put weed in the censer and Boones Farm in the chalice--whatever turns you on, call it the Holy Spirit!

Of course, you can play any religion you like, too: Shamanism, Buddhism, Zoroastrianism, Wicca, Islam, you name it; you can even mix and match. You can have all kinds of neat weddings: nuptials for pets, parents marrying their kids (or vice versa!), brothers marrying brothers--or sisters, or both! It's all up to you and it's all yours, have a ball! The hostile dudes have promised to stay away and promise not to harsh your mellow ever again. Of course, you're gonna have some bills to pay and you might want to start making plans for the all-important bake sale to raise revenue. May I suggest hash brownies?

Just the Usual

Why Tim Blair is a must read, everyday:
Friday, June 01, 2007
At work yesterday ...

Environment writer: “Planning anything for World Environment Day?”

Me: “Just the usual. Setting fire to a pile of car tyres in my yard.”

(Long silence)

Environment writer: “I meant for the opinion pages.”