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Wednesday, January 31, 2007

What is Their Ploy?

The Diocese of Virginia filed suit today against the eleven congregations that voted to vamoose the Episcopal Church, asking the courts they be booted from their properties. This is likely to be a long, nasty and expensive process.

For the life of me, I cannot figure what 815 Second Avenue is up to (and let's face it, the PB and her cadre are most certainly behind this suit: Look for an amicus curiae brief to filed). With the primates meeting that could very well determine ECUSA's fate in the Anglican Communion just two weeks away, does dragging into court a group representing ten percent of Virginia's Anglicans, who recently voted to affiliate with the largest Anglican province in the world, a wise strategy? Does KJS believe this action will win the hearts of ++Akinola and his peers and cause them to regard with sympathy ECUSA's desire to stay within the Communion? Nope, I can't figure it out.

Unless, however, ECUSA's leaders have already determined the outcome of the meeting next month, that it will not be favorable. Then all this litigation makes a bit of sense. If ECUSA is actually expelled (and I don't think that's going to happen next month but who knows?) we can expect the present stream of deserters to increase to a flood, as it dawns on Episcopalians their church, no longer part of the Anglican Communion, can in no way be considered catholic, but is, rather, just another dying liberal protestant sect, one that requires an impossible stretch of faith to regard as the Body of Christ. Forceful and multiple pre-emptive legal strikes might forestall (for a time) the exodus by sending the message to those congregations contemplating jumping ship: "The hell with you all and if you insist on leaving it will cost you dearly!" And should they leave anyway (and in time they will), the dioceses, by taking title to the properties, will have valuable, albeit illiquid, assets that they can use to help keep afloat.

As I said, however, this strategy only makes a bit of sense. Church membership is declining every year in just about every diocese, already making it a tough sell to potential new members. If dioceses around the country start suing every congregation that wants out, that sell will become well-nigh impossible. Nobody will join a church that's involved in multiple and wide-spread lawsuits. So I guess I'm back where I started: Just what is 815 up to? It seems to me the wiser course would be to let those congregations that want to leave to do so and let them keep their property. Long, drawn-out lawsuits benefit no one but for ECUSA not to engage in them will require admitting to a large and increasing number of its members the present course is just plain wrong. That is something no one in the present heirarchy seems willing to do so I guess the lawsuits will continue.

Bye Bye Biden?

Those of you long in the tooth or of long memory may remember a half-wit named Joe Biden who had to quit his run for the presidency in 1987 after it was revealed he routinely lifted other politico's speeches and presented them as his own.

Well, here is the esteemed gentleman on Barack Obama. I think we can be confident the words are Biden's and Biden's alone:

"I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy."


Gee whiz, Senator. D'ya suppose he's got natural rhythm, too?

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Stuck in the Wayback Machine, Pt. II


Covering the Iraq war protest in Washington this weekend (were you aware there was an Iraq war protest this weekend in Washington?).
Expecting a healthy turnout of idealistic youths, I was surprised to find that the crowd was comprised predominantly of middle-aged '60s throwbacks looking to recapture the glory days of the jarring folk music, campus occupations, and general social chaos that accompanied the Vietnam War. When the Raging Grannies showed up, it was hard to distinguish them from the rest of the crowd.

What a disappointment. Nothing against the old folks, but they simply can’t match the energy of a young crowd of college kids unencumbered by work responsibilities or age-related health problems. The whole rally was flat, dispirited, and even boring. I felt especially sorry for the speakers: it’s hard to rile up a crowd when so many attendees are afraid to stray too far from the porta-potties.
Hmm . . . don't they remind you of another bunch of ageing idealists, forever reliving the 'sixties?

Friday, January 26, 2007

But We're Not Bitter, Oh No!

From Transfigurations, via titusonenine:

After six months of litigation by the Episcopal Diocese of Central New York to take over one of its former parishes in Syracuse, that parish has offered to settle the case by giving their property to the diocese, but the diocese has refused. The diocese filed the lawsuit against St. Andrews Church last July to take the property from those who have worshiped in the local congregation since 1903. The Diocese did this because the parish transferred its allegiance from Bishop Gladstone "Skip" Adams, III of Syracuse to the Anglican Archbishop of Rwanda.

"We thought we were making a very generous and charitable offer to settle their lawsuit against our people," said Raymond Dague, attorney for the parish. "They would get the buildings which are owned by us and for which they have sued us. This would have spared everyone the continuing scandal of a bishop suing a local church to assert spiritual authority in the civil courts."

You have to wonder if Bishop Skippy, III simply can't bear the notion of Syracusans passing by St. Andrew's and seeing a new sign denoting an Anglican rather than Episcopal church, thus reminding them this flock has fled.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Ouch!

The Rev'd Canon David C. Anderson, President & CEO of the American Anglican Council, minces no words in his statement responding to the claim of +Lee (Diocese of Virginia) the Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA) is not part of the Anglican Communion. A sampling:

Bishop Lee feels that in the Anglican world one piece of land can only have one jurisdiction, or at least one Anglican jurisdiction (since the Methodists, Lutherans, Baptists and Roman Catholics seem to have overlapping jurisdiction on land he claims).

And this:

Bishop Lee and the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia, which comprises the middle and northern portions of the state, would claim that they are a part of the Anglican Communion, even as they would deny this about CANA. In fact, Bishop Lee’s connection, and the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia’s connection, to the Anglican Communion are not direct, but subsequent to being a part of the Episcopal Church USA/TEC. It is the province of TEC that has global membership, and Bishop Lee and his diocese are members through TEC. The only problem is that TEC’s membership is currently in a stand-down mode and is under critical review. Further sanctions may in fact be levied against TEC, and this would weaken Bishop Lee’s standing in the Anglican Communion as well.

It's all here, read it.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Designs by Katharine


Our PB has already declared her distaste for old-fashioned "Victorian" English, insisting it drives away the young people. In that spirit, she recently took a well-deserved break from those endless meetings with the litigators, whipped out her sketch pad and dished up this divine and stunning new creation, a fresh interpretation of the tired old chasuble! Equally at home at the altar and the fifty-yard line, on priests and the pep squad, the Bovina Bloviator confidently predicts young Episcopalians throughout our land will be streaming through the red doors (after first storming Almy's) so they too can be part of the team to root for Mother Jesus--or Buddha, or Mohammad, or Shalom, or MDG--whatever floats your boat, kids!

N.B. The image above did NOT come from the ENS website. They're so prickly about people using them and there are other ways to skin a cat.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

I'll Show You!

Bishop Lee of the Diocese of Virginia has inhibited 21 priests, not realizing it's awfully silly and pointless to fire people when they've already quit.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Ecclesiastical Notes from Greenwich, CT

Not a good day for two churches in my home town:

The Rev'd Michael Moynihan, pastor of St. Michael Church, R.C. (the "Pizza Hut Church," my R.C. friends called it when we were kids, owing to its sixties era architecture) on spiffy North Street in Greenwich, has stepped down. Bishop Lori of the Diocese of Bridgeport requested Fr. Moynihan's resignation after an audit revealed a cool half-million bucks in expenses couldn't be accounted for. If there is any good news in the story it is all the much-loved priest's expenditures seem to have been legitimate and that it's more a matter of sloppy, almost criminally so, bookkeeping. Also good news, for all Anglo-Catholics who bear good will to our Roman brethren, there is, mercifully and remarkably, nary a hint of boys or boyfriends in this story.

Sadly, that is not the case with Robert F. Tate, the former Music Director of Christ Church, Episcopal, THE church of Greenwich, the church for several generations of the Bush family. He plead guilty today of possessing "between 150 and 300 pornographic images of children, including some showing children younger than 12-years-old" and "apparent foreign travel for purpose of photographing children." Ugh.

Tate was a fine musician and the Christ Church boys choir enjoyed international fame under his direction. Further, in his over thirty years on the job there was never a hint of any illicit behavior by him towards his young charges. But this was a heinous act and those who insist (and there are lots) this sort of thing is a "victimless crime" don't take into account those 150-300 kids who had to pose for the pictures. How foul. Throw the book at him.

The 815 Creed

Captain Yips Secret Journal gives us a revised Creed, claimed to be satire. Perhaps, but it proves a long-held belief of mine: That satire is best which deviates least from the truth.

I believe in God, the indulgent Parent of all of us, who cannot be put into a small box, and in Jesus, our Magic School Bus to the divine, who among others like Buddha and Mohammed and Martin Luther King gave us some good ideas about God, and the Holy Spirit, who makes me feel good about myself and affirms me in all my being.

And I believe in The Episcopal Church, inclusive, prophetic, and speaking truth to power, whose polity is mighty in the world and cannot be challenged, whose canons are wise and full of grace, whose diocesan borders cannot be crossed (unless the bishop denies Women their rightful, God-given, mandatory and unchallengeable right to Ministry, in which case we’re gunning for you), from which no parish can escape; I believe in one Baptism, after which I can do whatever I want, I believe in a Woman’s right to Control her Body, I believe that sexual orientation is genetically determined, I believe in recycling, low pollution vehicles, fair trade coffee, and I don’t give a fig for the resurrection of the dead. Shalom.

(h/t Bro. Uebbing)

Saturday, January 20, 2007

No "Monologues" at St. John's U

Comes word that St. John's University of Queens, NY, run by the Vincentians, a conservative order of RC priests, has "pulled the plug" (in the New York Post's unfortunate phrasing) of a student production of "The Vagina Monologues," which, if you don't already know, is a wildly successful screed that has become the Oberammergau Passion Play for feminists. Unlike the Passion Play, however, which is performed only in years ending in zero, annual performances of "The Vagina Monologues" are de rigueur on our nation's college campuses. The play consists of a shrill series of paeons to the reproductive organ, each recited by a different cast member, thus making it easier to satisfy the all-important diversity requirements of progressive contemporary theater.

Well, the powers at St. John's have put the kabosh on this production, deeming it "inappropriate," which is certainly understating it. Speaking as one who has actually attempted to slog through this wretched slop, all I can say about the good Fathers banning "The Vagina Monologues," is it's about frigging time, if you'll pardon the expression.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Brilliant Nastiness

It's a common trait, one to which I freely admit, to read only those opinions with which one agrees. For me the reasons are twofold. 1) Laziness: Being challenged is such a nuisance and 2) Strategic: Reading those with whom you agree may turn up an argument you haven't thought of before, one you may then filch and present as your own.

Be that as it may, I should like to introduce to you one Brother Causticus, whose website titusoneten (get it?) takes on the morass facing our church with the refreshing approach that the behavior of both sides is, at times (perhaps many times), deplorable and requires calling out. This he does admirably and with a satiric gift that may be the equal of the late Mr. Evelyn Waugh. Read him, you're bound to be offended and laugh out loud at the same time.

Full disclosure: Brother Causticus, I just learned, is an aficionado of the glorious late string quartets of Beethoven so it is impossible for me to judge him fairly anymore.

The Whole Mess Will End up in Court

From the Washington Times, via titusonenine.

January 19, 2007

A property dispute between the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia and 11 churches whose congregations voted to leave the denomination took one step closer to court yesterday after the diocese's governing body declared the churches' property "abandoned."


This will be a disaster for both sides but I think the Diocese of Virginia and ECUSA will pay the greater price. Unless it's settled, it could drag on for years and if the diocese loses, it will have little to show for it save a whopping legal bill. If it wins, they face the prospect of cops dragging sobbing parishioners out of their churches, all to be broadcast on the evening news and YouTubed around the world; won't that be great PR for a church that trumpets its "inclusiveness?" I suspect by now, however, the PB, 815 and most of the church hierarchy long ago became immune to any charges of double standards.


I think the parishioners are entitled to keep their property, they paid for it after all. However, should the diocese not relent and it looks as if the court fight will be protracted, it would be a savvy move on the parishes' part if they called litigation to a halt and proclaimed to the diocese: "This is getting us nowhere: Here are the keys, take the property, it's yours. May God bless and keep you." A Christian act like that should make the raising of funds to buy new properties a much easier task, I should think.


*****


Down yonder in Birmingham, Alabama, the ageing white parishioners of a formerly thriving Baptist Church took stock and determined they weren't going to survive. Rather than close up and sell the property, worth nearly $2 million, they instead turned it over to a growing black Baptist congregation that desperately needed a home. As the pastor of the closing church put it, "it's the Lord's house anyway." What a truly Christian act; would that ECUSA's leadership could be so moved. I'm afraid that's not likely, but read the story anyway, it will surely touch your heart.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

This is Wretched News

A News Release from the Communications Office of The Diocese of Virginia

Diocesan Leadership Declares Church Property ‘Abandoned’

For release: Thursday, January 18, 2007 . . .

January 18, 2007, the Executive Board of the Diocese of Virginia took a step forward in preserving the mission and ministry of the Diocese and the Episcopal Church for current and future generations of Episcopalians and adopted a resolution concerning the property of 11 Episcopal Churches where a majority of members – including the vestry and clergy – have left The Episcopal Church but have not relinquished Church property and have continued to occupy the churches and use the property owned by the Diocese.Specifically, the Executive Board declared the property of those churches – real and personal – to be abandoned in accordance with the Canons of the Diocese. . . (h/t BabyBlueOnline)

Of course, what this means is the whole mess will end up in the courts. What does the Diocese of Virginia hope to gain from this ploy? I just don't get it: the vast majority of the people of these parishes have voted to leave the Episcopal Church and they will do so with or without their property. There is little ECUSA can do at this point to persuade those souls to return and it's a dead certainty nasty and vindictive lawsuits will only further steel their resolve to ditch.

Bishop Lee, in a letter to his diocese, has stated this action was taken to protect the small number of people in the offending eleven parishes who have chosen to remain in ECUSA. I don't believe it: It will cost the diocese huge sums to keep those many churches in operation for the benefit of such a few. The diocese will never be able to replace the parishioners nor the money walking out with them so the only recourse they have is the properties. No doubt they will continue to operate them as churches for a time to show "good faith" to those remaining. In time, however, when they do the books and see money hemorrhaging, money that could be spent on other things, like the PB's raison d’ĂȘtre, the Millennium Development Goals, the diocese will decide in the interests of "prudence" to close those churches down and put them on the block. And so it will go around Virginia and around the nation. How sad. Pray for them, they know not what they do.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

And Now (and Then) for Something Compeletly Different

The Bovina Bloviator concerns himself primarily with matters concerning the soon-to-be- late Episcopal Church with a sprinkling of Neanderthal politics on the side. When things are slow on those fronts he seeks out other fish in the barrel to shoot or, if you will, more squirrels to hunt with elephant guns, this weekend, Mr. David Beckham and his mega-swanky wife and now, for your pleasure, via YouTube, cultural icon Miss Paula Abdul coming off an apparently long, long evening.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

The New York Times Didn't Consider it Newsworthy

I wonder why? Fortunately, the New York Post did.

DEMS BURN A 'KIDLESS' RICE

January 12, 2007 -- WASHINGTON - Condoleezza Rice came under a shocking Democratic attack yesterday - as a childless woman who can’t understand the sacrifices made by families of U.S. troops in Iraq. In a bitter personal assault on the secretary of state during her appearance before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, anti-war Sen. Barbara Boxer fumed that Rice didn't comprehend the "price" of the war.

"You're not going to pay a particular price, as I under stand it, with an immediate family," Boxer (D- Calif.) ranted.

"Who pays the price?" she repeatedly demanded during Rice's Capitol Hill grilling.

"I'm not going to pay a personal price. My kids are too old, and my grandchild is too young . . . So who pays the price? Not me, not you."

Boxer continued:

"You can't begin to imagine how you celebrate any holiday or birthday. There's an absence. It's not like the person's never been there. They always were there, and now they're not, and you're looking at an empty hole.

And this woman is a Senator? I guess this is what passes for advice and consent on the Democratic left.

The next two years are going to be ugly.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Class with a Capital K



British soccer star David Beckham, accompanied by his lovely wife "Posh," is coming to America! He'll be plying his trade to the tune of $50 million a year, the idea being this will really, really, REALLY get Americans interested in Soccer--this time for sure. Uh, huh.

From the New York Post :

"Folks were less enthusiastic in London.

'He's rubbish,' said Steve Didcott, who mulled the Beckham deal from his barstool.' And if you're rubbish, you go to the States.' "

How true, how true. But don't you just love the double crucifixes?


UPDATE: As the smell of brewing coffee wafted into the bedroom this morning I was dreaming Mr. Beckham had been revealed to be a poet of the first rank! I was bashing out a posting announcing the thrilling news, and that critics had compared his work with Ezra Pound's, when I sadly awoke.

Alas, 'twas only a dream but the coffee was delicious.

How Will They Fill Those Empty Pews?

The divorce is getting messy. From the Washington Times:

"The Episcopal Church plans to intervene in a property dispute involving two Northern Virginia parishes that voted to leave the American denomination last month, officials with the departing congregations said.

The intervention would mark a dramatic shift in the relationship between the national church and individual dioceses."


Yes, it certainly would. I guess the Diocese of Virginia and 815 Second Avenue, realizing the many millions represented in the two properties, decided a peaceful resolution really wasn't in the best interest of Christ's Church after all, despite earlier pronouncements to the contrary. But the oft asked question still remains: What’s to become of the property should the diocese prevail in a lawsuit? The large parishes of Falls Church and Truro Church voted overwhelmingly to run for their lives and souls from ECUSA. They appear to have ample war chests but should they still lose the fight for their property they will in no way come back to ECUSA. How could they, in good conscience? Bishop Lee of the Diocese of Virginia (whom, I should add, seems to an honorable man by most accounts and so probably is acting on orders from above) will have two large, attractive and, yes indeed, valuable properties on his hands. However they will not take the shape of office buildings or condos but of churches, churches with acres of empty pews. How will he fill them?

If the parish and clergy of Falls Church and Truro are forced to leave their homes, never again will there be viable parishes of the Episcopal Church on those properties, even if replacement clergy are brought in. It's not as if other Episcopal churches, even in prosperous Northern Virginia, are bursting at the seams, begging the diocese for a place to send their cast-offs. It’s not as if there are thousands of New Religionists lurking in Fairfax who will flock to those churches once the hidebound conservative reactionaries are given the boot. The buildings will be empty, yet even empty buildings and grounds need to be heated and maintained. That requires bucks. With people no longer dropping checks into the alms basins and with other Virginia parishes also threatening to vamoose, the diocese may find itself land poor. Selling the properties may be the only option and while that may prove to be a public relations embarrassment it will at least provide the diocese with capital, for a while anyway. It will do nothing to bring people back to the Episcopal Church.

(h/t Transfigurations)

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Of All the Unmitigated Gall . . .

From the BBC:

"US forces have stormed a building in the northern Iraqi town of Irbil and seized six people said to be Iranians, prompting a diplomatic incident. . . Tehran said the attack violated all international conventions. It has summoned ambassadors from Switzerland, representing US interests, and Iraq."

Those unhappy Iranians might wish to consult with Jimmy Carter over this shocking episode.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

This'll Give 'Em Something to Chew On in Tanzania.

UPDATE: Oops, I've made an ass of myself (not for the first time, say my detractors). The interview of Katharine Jefferts Schori, quoted below, was not by Frank Lockwood of the Arkansas Democrat Gazette but by Laura Lynn Brown of same. Frank Lockwood is the religion editor of that paper and it is from his blog I lifted the interview. I have corrected my posting but place this mea culpa above it so to make plain to readers my carelessness. My apologies.

*************************************************************************************

Oh dear, the PB allowed herself to be interviewed by a reporter for the Arkansas Democrat Gazette, Laura Lynn Brown, who, unlike most reporters, knows a thing or two about religion. She thus probed matters more deeply and I think KJS may come to regret it. The interview is fairly lengthy but well worth reading if you want a good insight into the theological mindset of the Presiding Bishop and 815 Second Avenue.

Here's a small sample, just to whet your appetitite:

ADG: I want to ask you about a couple of other things you’ve said in interviews. One of those was in the 10 questions in TIME magazine about the small box that people put God in. Could you elaborate a little bit on your take on “Jesus is the way, the truth and the life” [a paraphrase of John 14:16]?

KJS: I certainly don’t disagree with that statement that Jesus is the way and the truth and the life. But the way it’s used is as a truth serum, or a touchstone: If you cannot repeat this statement, then you’re not a faithful Christian or person of faith. I think Jesus as way – that’s certainly what it means to be on a spiritual journey. It means to be in search of relationship with God. We understand Jesus as truth in the sense of being the wholeness of human expression. What does it mean to be wholly and fully and completely a human being? Jesus as life, again, an example of abundant life. We understand him as bringer of abundant life but also as exemplar. What does it mean to be both fully human and fully divine? Here we have the evidence in human form. So I’m impatient with the narrow understanding, but certainly welcoming of the broader understanding.

ADG: What about the rest of that statement –

KJS: The small box?

ADG: Well, the rest of the verse, that no one comes to the Father except by the son.

KJS: Again in its narrow construction, it tends to eliminate other possibilities. In its broader construction, yes, human beings come to relationship with God largely through their experience of holiness in other human beings. Through seeing God at work in other people’s lives. In that sense, yes, I will affirm that statement. But not in the narrow sense, that people can only come to relationship with God through consciously believing in Jesus.

Also, for your consideration:

ADG: . . . It seemed to some people that you were saying there isn’t an afterlife.

KJS: I don’t think Jesus was focused on that. I think Jesus was focused on heaven in this life, primarily.

You often hear it said, usually among the liberals, that in the Episcopal Church "you don't have to leave your brains at your door." Only your Christianity, apparently. I wonder how all this will go down at the primates' meeting next month.

Read it all, there's much more.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Stuck in the Wayback Machine.


Long ago, ca. 1971, when he was still in high school, your Bloviator first became familiar with the concept of “patronizing,” which the dictionary defines as “showing condescending favor; assuming the manner of airs of a superior toward another.” This undesirable trait was manifested by certain teachers who, in those turbulent times, grew their hair long, grew beards, wore love beads and tie-dyed shirts, used words like “man” and “groovy” and played Bob Dylan and Grateful Dead records for us in English class rather than recite Keats. Putative grownups, they stooped to this level to appear “with it” and concommitantly disassociate themselves from the “establishment," all in the hopes of winning us over. Even though my peers and I were only in our teens, we, like all teenagers, of course saw right through this pathetic and lame posturing and it resulted in our being even more contemptuous of those teachers than we had been already.

36 years later I find myself thinking back to those inauspicious high school days when I read of the Presiding Bishop’s visit to Pine Bluff Arkansas where she attended a service and held a Q & A session at a reception following. Most of the A’s to the Q’s were the boiler plate we’ve long grown accustomed to hearing from the PB, e.g. all is swell in the Episcopal Church, rah, rah MDG, etc. but one item in the newspaper account did catch my attention and reads thus:

"Evangelism [the Presiding Bishop said] means many things in words and music, observing that it is difficult to attract young people to Episcopal churches when 'you speak in Victorian (sic) English.' She cited a successful youth program in one metropolitan area that attracts young people with hip-hop. "

Oh, puh-leeeeeeeze, don’t these people ever learn? You read twaddle like the above and you have to wonder if the PB and her 815 compats aren’t stuck in the Wayback Machine, doomed to rehearse over and over again the tired, dated rhetoric of hippie/yippiedom, using The Greening of America” as their missal. Regarding the Hip-Hop Mass, let’s cut to the chase: What do you suppose the reaction of a bunch of hardened teenaged homies from Morrisania in the Bronx would be to ageing white people in vestments shrieking out the following?

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

Your answer is correct: utter contempt. In fact those impudent teeangers (bless their little hearts) might even go further, saying those ageing hippies were nothing more than a bunch of f*****g clowns.

Monday, January 08, 2007

The Just Don't Make Atheists Like They Used To.

There was a good piece in the Weekender section of the Wall Street Journal lamenting the decline in quality of modern atheists. Whereas in Victorian times atheist faithful counted among their numbers such luminaries as Darwin, Shaw H.G. Wells and Matthew Arnold, the best modern atheism can offer up today for inspiration is the very loud Dr. Richard Dawkins (fellow Boomers, don’t confuse him with the legendary Richard Dawson, cast member of the 60s Television classic “Hogan’s Heroes” and erstwhile quiz master). The author of the essay, Sam Schulman, makes the interesting observation that while many of the Victorian atheist intellectuals experienced and expressed a genuine sense of loss (as they surely did) over their apostasy, today’s atheist isn't sad at all, just plain, raging mad, with Dr. Dawkins perhaps the angriest, expressed in his recently published quiet and reasoned apologia, “The God Delusion.” (Oddly, Schulman makes no mention in his article of the gold-standard of modern atheism, the late harridan Madalyn Murray O’Hair, someone for whom the devil must still be kicking himself for luring into his realm.) Dawkins and Co. are apoplectic because after years and years of thoughtful and reasoned discourse, vast numbers of people, especially in these here benighted and deplorable United States still don’t buy their argument. Read the essay and have sympathy for these poor unhappy souls. And feel their pain.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Why Not Just Let Them Leave?

Yesterday, the Rt. Rev'd Jerry Lamb, Bishop of Northern California, issued a testy statement in which he dealt with the request of the Rev'd David Miller, Rector of St. John's Episcopal Church of Petaluma, for Letters Dismissory to the Diocese of Argentina which would permit him and his parish to leave ECUSA but stay within the Anglican Communion. His Grace, like so many of the "inclusive" and "tolerant" leaders of our church, would have nothing of it and sarcastically turned down the Rev'd Miller's request. That was to be expected but then the combative and litigious bishop, still smarting after being slapped down in his attempt to bring abandonment charges against +Schofield of the Diocese of San Joaquin, turned up the screws. He wrote

“I have chosen to view David Miller’s letter of December 17, 2006 as a request to renounce orders in this church. This action was laid before the clerical members of the Standing Committee on December 26 and 27. They concurred with my acceptance of David Miller’s Renunciation of Holy Orders. I pronounced and recorded this action in the presence of two priests of this Diocese on December 27, 2006. As of that date, David Miller is no longer a Priest-in-Good-Standing in this Diocese and is no longer the Rector of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Petaluma.

“Also on December 27, 2006, I wrote to the Wardens and Vestry of St. John’s Episcopal Church that they appear to be in violation of Canon I.17.8, given their action to dissociate themselves and the Parish from the Episcopal Church and the Diocese of Northern California. I therefore have declared the Offices of Wardens and the Vestry vacant.

“A priest-in-charge, Wardens and Vestry may be appointed at a later date.

Can't you just feel the love? The bishop has fired the rector, wardens and vestry and is prepared to parachute in a bunch of his satraps as replacements. It won’t work. The parish has already spoken: they want out of the diocese and out of ECUSA. No doubt they want to hang on to their building but if experience is any guide and should the bishop win a property fight (not a given in California), the people of St. John’s will simply hand over the keys to the diocese lawyers and set up shop in a local school auditorium or Holiday Inn conference room. There St. John’s Anglican Church (as it is now called) will become stronger and more vibrant than ever because the Church which is the Body of Christ consists of its members, not its real estate. You have to wonder if ECUSA’s leadership has lost sight of that.

+Lamb could learn from +Schofield as he begins the process of removing the Diocese of San Joaquin from ECUSA. +Schofield has stated clearly any parish within his diocese that wishes to stay in ECUSA is free to do so and may keep its property, too. When in the future increasing numbers of parishes vote to leave the Episcopal Church, would it be asking too much of ECUSA leadership to adopt +Schofield’s civilized approach and just let them leave?

UPDATE: The Documents in the Case (via titusonenine).

The Ultimate Gift for the Anglo-Catholic!


Remember, you have until Epiphany. Otherwise, you might want to lay in a supply for next Christmas!