Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Response to Katrina

Richard, of The Curate's Repose sent me a message today. He serves a parish in Metairie, LA. He described the situation there as "a total pass-up-the-dead-to-save-the-living-disaster (literally)". He is almost certain that he will have no church to return to. Visit his site for news and some startling pictures.

Richard asks that we consider giving to Episcopal Relief and Development;

On behalf of Episcopalians, ERD has sent emergency funds immediately to the Diocese of Mississippi. This emergency assistance will help vulnerable people whose homes are destroyed or severely damaged. ERD support will help the diocese provide aid to community members through two mobile response trailers, which are equipped with supplies like chainsaws and generators to assist in the recovery.

We are waiting to hear what kind of aid is most needed in Louisiana. We have also offered emergency assistance to dioceses likely to be affected as the storm moves inland, including Alabama and Tennessee. Forecasters also warn of the risk of high winds, flooding, and scattered tornadoes in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida.

We offer our prayers for the people affected by this disaster – those whose homes are under 10 feet of water, those who have lost family members, and those whose businesses have been blown down and swept away. Please join us in praying for people affected by Hurricane Katrina.

To make a contribution to help people affected by Hurricane Katrina, please donate to the US Hurricane Fund by credit card at or by calling 1-800-334-7626, ext. 5129. Gifts can be mailed to: Episcopal Relief and Development, c/o US Hurricane Fund, PO Box 12043, Newark, NJ 07101.
A prayer offered by Renee Miller;

O God, we remember when the disciples of Jesus were terrified after a long night on a turbulent sea. When they cried to you for help, you stilled the sea and brought them to safety. We ask now that you comfort and still the hearts of those suffering from the effects of Hurricane Katrina. We pray for those who have been displaced and who now must return to homes destroyed or damaged by the storm. We pray for those whose lives were lost and for those who now must grieve the loss of a loved one. We pray for those who are attempting to offer help and relief to victims. While we wonder why such devastation can occur, where lives and property can seem held so capriciously in the hand of what is uncontrollable, we know, O God, that you count every hair on our head and that our names are written on the palm of your hand. Let your loving grace wash over those who must now face damaged lives, homes, and possessions. Hold them close to yourself until they are sure of the security of your loving embrace. Calm their hearts and still their souls, O Lord. We ask this for the sake of your love. AMEN.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Bolton's Weapon of Mass Destruction; The Eraser

A special summit of 175 world leaders will be held in New York starting September 14. The topic will be proposed reforms within the United Nations. John Bolton is recommending 750 changes to the draft reform proposal less than a month before this summit is scheduled to commence. Here is Bolton's amended draft proposal, with the deleted phrases included in the margin (a tip of the biretta to TPM).

One specific change that Bolton is pushing is the elimination of all references to the Millennium Development Goals, a plan to eradicate poverty by 2015. Here is Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold's response to Bolton's energetic use of the eraser;

I am deeply troubled by reports today that the United States has proposed revisions to UN global-poverty-reduction strategies that would undermine international commitments and partnerships already at work in the developing world. The Administration's sudden opposition to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the international target for rich nations to contribute 0.7% of GNP toward poverty reduction places an unwelcome obstacle in the path toward a more stable and secure world.

The world religious community -- which has been engaged in the work of international development for decades -- knows firsthand the vital importance of partnership between governments and institutions in the developed world and their counterparts in poor countries. Such partnership is embodied in the MDGs, and without it, the world is destined to fight a losing battle against the extreme poverty and deadly disease that are destabilizing our planet.

It had been my hope that next month's summit of world leaders at the UN would not only recommit to this sort of partnership by reaffirming the MDGs, but also take additional steps to work toward their fulfillment. I am deeply mindful of the need to use government resources to combat terrorism, but one of the most stinging lessons of our time is that the roots of terrorism and conflict most often can be found in those places where poverty and sickness abound and hope is lost...
Anyone willing to speculate as to why Bolton is so zealously trying to eliminate the MDG? I have my own theories, but I'll refrain from voicing them for the moment. Let's just say that my response is rather "ambiguous," due to the "paradoxical" perspective of Bolton which attempts to erase any mention of poverty issues and focus instead on terrorism, without, apparently, recognizing any link between the two issues.

Episcopalians who desire to support the Millennium Development Goals may find this site helpful;
Episcopalians for Global Reconciliation.


Saturday, August 27, 2005

Defining Fundamentalism

Let me begin by once again reminding folks that Jake's place is not intended to primarily be a place for church folk to debate. There are thousands of people who have left the Church because of the hurtful examples of Christianity they have encountered in their lives. In my own inadequate way, I've attempted to offer an example of an alternative type of Christianity, with a specific Anglican flavor. The form of Chritianity that is based on legalism and judgementalism is not welcome here. I don't care what you think about what I have to say, and have no interest in giving you a soapbox for your Pharisaic pronouncements. You are not the intended audience.

Now that I've gotten that off my chest, let me say just a word about a term that some folks, including some of the regular visitors to Jake's place, believe to be too strong when used to describe the extreme conservatives who have allied themselves with foreign bishops in an attempt to destroy the Episcopal Church. When I use the term "fundamentalist," the definition I have in mind is the one offered by Karen Armstrong in her book The Battle for God;

At the outset of their monumental six-volume Fudamentalist Project, Martin E. Marty and R. Scott Appleby argue that the "fundamentalisms" all follow a certain pattern. They are embattled forms of spirituality, which have emerged as a response to a perceived crisis. They are engaged in a conflict with enemies whose secular policies and beliefs seem inimical to religion itself. Fundamentalists do not regard this battle as a conventional political struggle, but experience it as a cosmic war between the forces of good and evil. They fear annihilation, and try to fortify their beleaguered identity by means of selective retrieval of certain doctrines and practices from the past. To avoid contamination, they often withdraw from mainstream society to create a counterculture; yet fundamentalists are not impractical dreamers. They have absorbed the pragmatic rationalism of modernity, and, under the guidance of charismatic leaders, they have refined these "fundamentals" so as to create an ideology that provides the faithful with a plan of action. Eventually they fight back and attempt to resacrilize an increasing skeptical world.
(The Battle for God, p. xiii)
Using that as a definition of the term, I think that Fundamentalism correctly identifies extremists within Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. I think it is also appropriate as a term to identify the angry minority within the Episcopal Church whose intent is to "punish" those with whom they disagree. I also believe that this mutated form of Christianity has very little to do with the Good News offered by Jesus Christ.


Thursday, August 25, 2005

Dealing with Paradox and Ambiguity

From an interview with Frank Griswold, Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church;

We all claim the authority of scripture. The ancient creeds, the doctrine of the trinity, the nature of Christ -- all these things are not up for negotiation. ... I would say if sexuality becomes the ground on which division occurs, then it means that sex is more important than the doctrine of the holy trinity and the divinity of Christ, which is a very sorry situation to find oneself in. Isn't it ironic that people can overlook Jesus' words about divorce and remarriage and claim biblical orthodoxy and become hysterical over a reference in the letter to the Romans about homosexual behavior? The Bible, of course, didn't understand homosexuality as an orientation. It only understood it as a behavior. Clearly, the biblical writers presumed that everyone was naturally heterosexual.
This is one the most succinct statements of the current situation in the Episcopal Church that I have ever read. The divisions are not about core doctrines. They are not about the authority of scripture. They are about hysterical reactions.

Bishop Griswold concludes with these words;

The Episcopal Church is a questioning community. ... It's confident that Christ is at its center, and that gives it the courage to look at things that are difficult. It also is a church which has lived with open-ended questions. It doesn't need to reduce things to absolutes. We can deal with shades of gray, we can deal with paradox and ambiguity without feeling that we are being unfaithful.
There it is. There is the distinct "value added" of the Episcopal Church. It is the primary reason I chose this tradition. I left Christianity for a season as a young adult because of the blatant dishonesty I found in some of the teachings. It is this willingness to honestly struggle with paradox and ambiguity that drew me back into the Church.

It seems to me that those who are attempting to remake the Episcopal Church in their own image keep missing this point. It is not about the scriptures. It is not about the creeds. It is about having the courage to ask the tough questions. It is about being unwilling to become another generic brand of Christianity. It is about stating clearly that the "don't ask, don't tell" approach to some issues within much of Christendom is just plain dishonest.

God is working through all of this. If it comes to pass that the Episcopal Church is forced to surrender her intellectual integrity because of pressure from external powers and principalities, I will have to question the future of the Christian faith. It is obvious to me that the future of Christendom is not found in the dying world view currently espoused by the hysterical fundamentalists. As is the pattern with most dying movements, their current popularity is simply a desperate last gasp.

If we allow the thought police to take over, it is quite possible that Christianity will self-destruct. If so, I personally will not participate in such a suicide. But I will also not surrender my hope that God can redeem even this sad state of affairs, and will raise up something new from the ashes of a Church destroyed by hysterics.


Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Time to Retire, Pat

By now you have heard the rantings of the founder of the Christian Coalition and winner of the 1988 Republican primary in Iowa, Pat Robertson, who called for the assassination of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez;

...I don't know about this doctrine of assassination, but if he thinks we're trying to assassinate him, I think we really ought to go ahead and do it. It's a whole lot cheaper than starting a war, and I don't think any oil shipments will stop...We have the ability to take him out, and I think the time has come that we exercise that ability. We don't need another 200-billion-dollar war to get rid of one strong-arm dictator. It's a whole lot easier to have some of the covert operatives do the job and then get it over with.
Well, today Pat apologized, kinda. He isssued this "clarification";

...Is it right to call for assassination? No, and I apologize for that statement. I spoke in frustration that we should accommodate the man who thinks the U.S. is out to kill him.
But then, on today's show (click on "watch now"...the relevant comment is about 9 minutes, 30 seconds into the show), he claims he was "misinterpreted";

...I said our special forces should 'take him out.' 'Take him out' could be a number of things, including kidnapping...I was misinterpreted by the AP, but that happens all the time...
Umm, Pat? You said, "...if he thinks we're trying to assassinate him, I think we really ought to go ahead and do it." Pretty hard to "misinterpret" that, it seems to me.

Which Pat shall we believe? The one who wrote the "clarification," or the one who claims on his show that is broadcasted three times a day on ABC Family that he was "misinterpreted"?

The 700 Club claims they have a million viewers around the world. In this country, it is debatable how much weight Pat still carries. But around the world, he is still a prominent voice for Christianity. These kind of twisted statements perpetuate the idea that Christians are encouraging the notion of "Jesus as the New Rambo." So, even if we see Pat as an old eccentric whose time has come and gone, we still need to say loudly that this kind of sick thinking does not represent the Christian faith. You can contact ABC Family and voice your objection to Pat Robertson's insanity here.

Personally, I think that Pat has consumed too many of his own "Age Defying Protein Pancakes" and the "secret formula" has started to warp his mind.

Pat, I think it is way past time that you retired from broadcasting. Why don't you go have a seat in that rocker over there? Yes, the one next to General Boykin. And wipe that drool off your chin. Have you lost all semblance of dignity?


Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Stand Up and Speak Out

From Cindy Sheehan;

I got an email the other day and it said, "Cindy if you didn't use so much profanity... there's people on the fence that get offended."

And you know what I said? "You know what? You know what, god damn it? How in the world is anybody still sitting on that fence?"

"If you fall on the side that is pro-George and pro-war, you get your ass over to Iraq, and take the place of somebody who wants to come home. And if you fall on the side that is against this war and against George Bush, stand up and speak out."
This is the Gold Star mom that some are saying is being spoon fed her speeches by the extreme left? This doesn't sound like someone who is being handled to me. It sounds like an angry mother who is mad as hell and isn't going to take it anymore. Good for her.

For those interested in a discussion of Iraq and the Just War Principle, go take a look at Tuesday's commentary on CAfP; This Unjust War.


Friday, August 19, 2005

The Fearless Principle of Freedom

Yesterday, while preparing for the commemoration of William Porcher Dubose, I stumbled across the following quote, which keeps whispering to me, as if offering something I need to pay attention to. So, I'm paying attention. It's from his volume Turning Points in My Life, chapter VII, subtitled "Liberty and Authority in Christian Truth";

By all means let the Church guard and preserve her faith, order, and discipline, her creeds, her ministry, and her worship. But let her neither indulge the weak fear that these are really endangered or compromised by the fullest freedom conceded to and exercised by her members, nor imagine that danger or harm can be averted by the suppression or by the expulsion of that freedom. If our desire is to propagate error, there is no surer way than to prosecute, suppress, and exclude liberty. Let the Church not be afraid to keep herself in perpetual question by her own children. If their questionings be true, let her have all the benefit of them. If they be false, let her meet them, and be able to meet and answer them, with the truth.

Is there to be no limit to this toleration? Of course there must be, but the limit will very largely, and just in proportion as it is allowed to do so, fix itself. In the Church, at least as we have it, there is no uncertainty in the voice or in the expression of catholic Christianity. And that voice has to express itself with no uncertain sound through the lips of every accredited representative of the Church. If he utters it falsely or deceitfully, the harm or the danger is to him, not to the Church. All the world knows what the Church's truth is, which he has accepted the commission and made a solemn promise to teach. He has perfect freedom to resign that commission and to withdraw that promise at any time, and it is a libel to assume or assert that there is any body of men who will continue to exercise the Church's ministry with conscious falsity or deceit. If they do, their conviction and penalty will not need to be imposed by the Church. But if the truth of the Church is living and free truth, then there will of necessity arise men from time to time who, with all possible sincerity of loyalty and devotion to the Church, will find themselves unable to make their own some one or other part of even catholic truth. This may stop short at the point of only personal inability to comprehend and appropriate the truth in question, or it may go further in all sincerity and love and devotion to the Church to wish and even to attempt its correction in the particular in question. To rule this impossible in the Church, to exact of every one of her members or thinkers or teachers her own complete standard and attainment of catholicity, is to impose a law of mechanical necessity fatal to either freedom or life. If the life of freedom is impossible without the liability of error, then I say that the liability to error is not only to be tolerated, but to be desiderated and expected within the Church.


The present practicability of acting upon so fearless a principle of freedom depends upon the present life of truth in the Church, or the present life of the Church to the truth. If we have the truth wrapped up in a napkin as a sacred deposit handed down from the past, if we hold it now as the decision of a council or the letter of a creed and not by the continuous self-demonstration of its truth in itself and its meaning and necessity to us, then indeed may our dead or dormant catholicity be afraid of the much alive and wide-awake heresies that confront it as in the earliest ages. Then may we indeed not know what to do with them, but rule them out of existence in the Church by the letter of a law or a statute. But that will not do nowadays. Nothing but the life and the living thought that shaped the decisions and wrought the creeds can maintain the decisions or defend the creeds now. And for one, I think I begin to see that the impossibility of extinguishing error by legislation or banishing it by exclusion or of getting rid of it in any other way than by meeting and overcoming it with the truth, the necessity therefore of holding the truth always for its truth and not for its enactment--in a word, the principle of the freedom of truth, with a fair field and no favor--as it is the condition of the Church's own ever-present life, so is it the only hope of its ultimate unity and peace.
" exact of every one of her members or thinkers or teachers her own complete standard and attainment of catholicity, is to impose a law of mechanical necessity fatal to either freedom or life." DuBose was raised on a plantation, and served as a chaplain in the Confederate army. He did not publish any of his work until he was in his late 50s. It seems to me that he did some serious reflection on the term "freedom"; reflection rising out of his own life experience. I think he would agree with such a statement, in light of his work regarding the role of experience in our movement towards salvation. We each work out our salvation with fear and trembling.


Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Ugandan Bishop Wins First Round Over CA Parish

Almost exactly a year ago, St. James Church in Newport Beach, California, announced that they were leaving the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles and joining the Ugandan Diocese of Luweero, under Bishop Evans Mukasa Kisekka. Here is some background information on that announcement.

According to the LA Times, a judge recently ruled that the parish owns the property, refuting the argument put forward by the Diocese of Los Angeles that the church belonged to the diocese.

One might expect a secular court to not understand how a church with bishops functions. The smallest segment of our church is the diocese. Apart from the diocese (the bishop), a congregation cannot exist. Which causes me to wonder why this lawsuit was not directed towards Bishop Kisekka, rather than the parish. By so doing, the diocese has inferred the validity of St. James' "congregationalism."

David Anderson thinks this is great stuff. No surprise, as he was the former rector of this parish. There will be an appeal. The parish can afford it. After all, the infamous Howard Ahmanson is one of their members.

Regarding the Diocese of Los Angeles, I understand the need to use every means possible to keep foreign bishops from plum picking among the troubled congregations of ECUSA. But the lawsuit seems to be about property, rather than the unscrupulous behavior of Bishop Kisekka. I think that focus is a mistake.

In the comments of another entry, Bill Carroll made a couple of interesting statements that I'd like to explore a bit further. Here's Bill's comment;

A flawed decision, which interferes with our rights, under the free exercise clause of the first amendment, to practice our religion, which includes diocesan polity. That said, I still advocate settling these things out of court. More often than not, the kind of parish that would contemplate leaving has not been a productive member of the diocesan community for years. Let's maintain the principle that the parish belongs to the diocese but work out an amicable settlement, as in Kansas. I'm not too comfortable with the Church owning property anyhow!
Personally, I agree with Bill. This is rather ironic for me, as I am just beginning negotiations involving a rather large piece of property.

I believe it was Robert Capon who first suggested that the model for the future Church would be AA; no building, no overhead costs, just a contact person and rented space. Some days, I agree. But, right now, stuck with a physical plant that simply does not work, the need for a functional base seems essential to carrying out the mission of the Church.

Your thoughts?


Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Update on "Just Us" Sunday II

Some thoughts on this conservative pep rally are posted over on the Christian Alliance for Progress.

Since some of that info is old news to those who visit here regularly, I'll try to get something fresh up soon. Maybe tonight. There's some thoughts about chauvenism, Howard Dean and Iraq percolating. The news hounds will know what that's all about. If you spot any good pieces on this, I'd appreciate it if you'd shoot them my way.


Friday, August 12, 2005

ELCA Rejects Proposal on Clergy in Committed Relationships

From the Guardian;

A national meeting of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America rejected a proposal Friday that would have allowed gays in committed relationships to serve as clergy under certain conditions.

The measure would have affirmed the church ban on ordaining sexually active gays and lesbians, but would have allowed bishops and church districts called synods to seek an exception for a particular candidate - if that person was in a long-term relationship and met other restrictions.

Delegates voted against the measure 503-490. Even if it had won a simple majority of votes, that wouldn't have been enough; the proposal needed a two-thirds majority to pass...
Pretty evenly split. No doubt this is not the end of this matter. It will come up again. Hopefully the proposal will be clearer next time. It sounds like no one really liked the way this particular draft was written. This proposal, which created a second class roster of clergy based on choice of life companion, was just about as flawed as the C of E's rendition of the old "don't ask, don't tell" compromise.

I simply cannot comprehend how the Church can advocate for fewer committed relationships. Imagine how this era will be discussed 100 years from now. Can there be any doubt that this struggle will be categorized along with other civil rights issues?

If you choose to respond to this ramble, please refrain from bringing up the bible verses here, unless you do not receive any income from interest and don't have any graven images hanging on your wall. I don't buy the "it's about the authority of scripture" argument. Not only don't I buy it, I think it is dishonest, and get offended when the bible is wielded like a weapon to cut down those who don't neatly fit into a thumper's imaginary cookie cutter world.

I'm convinced it's not about the bible at all. What I suspect is that those in the Church opposed to allowing a person to choose their life partner are acting out of the "ick factor." Some folks imagine what couples are doing in private, and find it icky. To be quite honest, if some of the stories I've heard are true, what goes on between some married couples is pretty disgusting to me. I mean, sucking toes??? That's just downright depraved.

That's my own "ick factor" at work, of course. Sometimes I think it's the Word of God giving me a special insight, and I need to start a campaign to insist that all lovers wear socks. But then I remember that I might be viewed as just as disgusting by others if someone put a camera in my bedroom. Now there's a frightening thought.

I expect this kind of thing from the extreme right. To affirm that you are one of the "elect," it is helpful to clearly identify those who are not. Exclusion is the drawing card. Need to boost your self-esteem? Just join a church that thanks God regularly that they are not like all those other "sinners." I had thought that the ELCA, who developed the best study materials for our mandated Human Sexuality Dialogues back in the early 90s, would not fall victim to this inclination towards elitism that has haunted Christianity since James and John sent mom to ask for the best seats. Obviously, I once again underestimated the power of the "ick factor."

503 to 490...another synod, and another vote, and I predict our Lutheran brothers and sisters will join us in proclaiming to the world; "In this Church, there will be no outcasts!"


Thursday, August 11, 2005

The Stones Still Rock

There's a song on the Rolling Stones' new album, due to be released next month, that has a few folks rather upset. It's entitled "Sweet Neo Con." Here's a few of the lyrics;

You call yourself a Christian, I call you a hypocrite
You call yourself a patriot, well, I think you're full of s**t...

How come you’re so wrong? My sweet neo-con,
where’s the money gone, in the Pentagon...

It’s liberty for all, democracy’s our style,
unless you are against us, then it’s prison without trial.
Jagger claims the song isn't specifically about Bush, although there's some references to Rice and Cheney in it.

When asked about the song, Jagger said, “It is certainly very critical of certain policies of the administration, but so what! Lots of people are critical.”

Maybe Mick isn't worried about the wrath of Bush, but Keith Richards is a bit nervous about the release, as he lives in the US, and probably does not want to live out the rest of his days in a gulag.

I think the last Stones album I bought was Goatshead Soup. I'm planning to pick up this latest one. Release date is September 5.

I know it's only rock 'n roll but I like it, like it, yes, I do.


Wednesday, August 10, 2005

"Just Us" Sunday Redux

Well, it appears once was not enough. The extreme right is hosting another revival on August 14, this time to rally the troops around "saving" the Supreme Court (translation; get Roberts in).

Quite the list of speakers. No Bill Frist this time. He's been replaced by Tom Delay. Now there's a real example of Christian ethics, eh?

And of course we have Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council. I wonder if he'll bring along his good buddy David Duke?

Representing the Catholic Church will be Bill Donahue. Here's my favorite quote from Mr. Donahue;

Who really cares what Hollywood thinks? All these hacks come out there. Hollywood is controlled by secular Jews who hate Christianity in general and Catholicism in particular. It‘s not a secret, OK? And I‘m not afraid to say it. That‘s why they hate this movie. It‘s about Jesus Christ, and it‘s about truth. It‘s about the messiah.

Hollywood likes anal sex. They like to see the public square without nativity scenes. I like families. I like children. They like abortions. I believe in traditional values and restraint. They believe in libertinism. We have nothing in common.
Lovely, Bill. Thanks for sharing.

Chuck Colson will make an appearance. You remember Chuck, of Watergate fame? I don't agree with some of the things he's written, but I think he has sincerely tried to mend his ways. Prison tends to have that effect on some folks.

Phyllis "Stop the ERA" Shlafly will be there, as will Duelin' Zell Miller. And, of couse, no gathering of the faithful extreme would be complete without Jim Dobson, who we all have to thank for warning us of the dangers of watching SpongeBob.

It should be quite the show. Ted Gaddy, President of the Interfaith Alliance calls it a sacrilegious;

...“Here we go again!” Rev. Gaddy said. “And, this time the imagery and the implications of the message advanced by leaders of the religious right are more offensive, sacrilegious, and undemocratic than those so integral to Justice Sunday I.

“Right now, the most serious threats to the fundamental rights and liberties in our nation are not coming from a lack of God’s interest but from a small group of religious right leaders who have assumed the mantle of national religious authorities and seek to impose on the whole nation and its constitution their particular views on religion, the courts, politics, and justice...
The Interfaith Alliance will host a teleconference on August 11 to discuss their concerns regarding this gathering. The number and passcode to participate can be found on their site.

Building the Beloved Community is announcing an alternative event in Nashville at the Cathedral of Praise, 4300 Clarksville Pike (615-876-8740). If you happen to be near Nashville, you might want to stop by. Or, maybe go on a road trip. Nashville's a great city. Every bar has live music. Country, of course. But I digress...

So why this push to get John Roberts through? As conservatives go, he doesn't seem to be growing horns. No chasing staff down hotel halls screaming. No cussing out his opponents. The Democrats might give him a hard time, but he'll probably pass muster. So why is Bush hedging his bets? Why is he rallying his religious extremist troops to this cause? Why is this appointment so important?

I think Bruce Shapiro nailed it;

To understand Judge Roberts's unique appeal, forget for a moment "conservative," "textualist," "original intent" and the other shorthand with which get-ahead Republican law school grads watermark their résumés. Look instead at a single case decided by Judge Roberts and two other members of the DC Court of Appeals less than a week ago. As it happened, the day before that ruling was released, President Bush interviewed Judge Roberts at the White House. Judge Roberts, it is widely reported, aced his interview; but his appeals court decision due for publication just twenty-four hours later--about the rights of prisoners at Guantánamo Bay--was, in effect, the essay question.

Here is the question: Do the obligations of the Geneva Conventions apply to prisoners seized in Afghanistan? And can the President convene military trials, unreviewable by any courts and Congress? The case involves Salim Ahmed Hamdan, allegedly a driver for Osama bin Laden, captured on the post-9/11 battlefield and held in Camp Delta. Last year a federal judge shut down Hamdan's trial and up to a dozen other military tribunals. As convened by the Pentagon, those drumhead tribunals, wrote the lower court, amounted to a violation of the Geneva Treaty and an unconstitutional seizure of power by the President.

Whatever Judge Roberts's performance in his interview with the President, whatever his sterling report card as litigator and jurist, we can be sure there was only one acceptable answer to the Guantánamo essay question, and the judge gave it. He voted, along with his two appeals court colleagues, all three of them Reagan or Bush appointees, against Geneva Convention protections for Guantánamo captives, in scathing language ordering the military tribunals forward, empowering the President, and the President alone, to determine those prisoners' fate.
It's not about abortion, or gay marriage, or even Iraq. It's about supporting "an unconstitutional seizure of power by the President." Imagine that.


Saturday, August 06, 2005

We Need a Savior

The Gospel lesson appointed for August 6, the Feast of the Transfiguration;

About eight days after Jesus had foretold his death and resurrection, Jesus took with him Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray. And while he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became dazzling white. Suddenly they saw two men, Moses and Elijah, talking to him. They appeared in glory and were speaking of his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. Now Peter and his companions were weighed down with sleep; but since they had stayed awake, they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him. Just as they were leaving him, Peter said to Jesus, "Master, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah"--not knowing what he said. While he was saying this, a cloud came and overshadowed them; and they were terrified as they entered the cloud. Then from the cloud came a voice that said, "This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!" When the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silent and in those days told no one any of the things they had seen.
- Luke 9:28-38
From the BBC on August 6, 1945;

The first atomic bomb has been dropped by a United States aircraft on the Japanese city of Hiroshima.

President Harry S Truman, announcing the news from the cruiser, Augusta, in the mid-Atlantic, said the device contained 20,000 tons of TNT and was more than 2,000 times more powerful than the largest bomb used to date.

An accurate assessment of the damage caused has so far been impossible due to a huge cloud of impenetrable dust covering the target...
This day we commemorate Jesus Christ being revealed in glory as the Incarnation of God. On this same day, we remember the unleashing of the most destructive force humanity has ever created.

We desperately need a Savior. We need to be saved from ourselves.

O God, who on the holy mount revealed to chosen witnesses your well-beloved Son, wonderfully transfigured, in raiment white and glistening: Mercifully grant that we, being delivered from the disquietude of this world, may by faith behold the King in his beauty; who with you, O Father, and you, O Holy Spirit, lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Priest Sort of Deposed

A priest was deposed in Eastern Michigan. It seems quite clear that the bishop gave this priest every chance he could. The priest led his congregation out of the Episcopal Church 5 years ago. He refused to be under the authority of his bishop, refused to share communion with the bishop, participated in none of the diocesan events, and continued to function as the pastoral leader of the breakaway church. Canon 10, which was the specific canon cited for the priest's inhibition and deposition, specifically identifies the behavior that will lead to deposition; "...the Priest or Deacon abandoned the Communion of this Church by an open renunciation of the Doctrine, Discipline, or Worship of this Church." Seems like a fairly open and shut case, doesn't it?

Not according to 7 diocesan bishops and another 6 retired or assisting bishops. Not only do they voice their outrage, they also include this rather curious statement;

As a witness to our solidarity with Father Geromel, and in keeping with the spirit of the Windsor Report, and as witnesses against this injustice which compromises the bonds of affection as of August 4, 2005, the Reverend Gene Geromel is granted license to function in each of our dioceses as a priest in good standing, and we welcome him to continue his service as a brother priest of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.
Why is this curious? Because the man is no longer a priest. He has been deposed by his bishop. On what authority do these bishops claim they can license him?

We saw this with David Moyer, who was deposed by his bishop for refusing the bishop's visitations for 10 years. He was then immediately licensed to serve by Bishop Duncan. He was then quickly moved under the authority of an African bishop. Moyer now claims to be a bishop himself, which is rather bizarre, since he was deposed as a priest.

It seems that in today's world, you can ignore any bishop with whom you disagree. The end result is that this man will now be treated as a priest in some dioceses, and a layman in others.

Note the names of the 7 diocesan bishops who are playing the victim card in this case and the one in Connecticut. If they license this man, they will have revealed themselves for what they are; renegade bishops who have no respect for canon law or any ecclesiastical authority except their own and that of the members of their exclusive club.

I suppose I'd better make up a wallet size, laminated copy of my ordination certificate and notification of canonical residence. If things keep going like this, I'll have to show them every time I step up to the altar.

Thinking Anglicans has more on this bizarre situation.

TA also has a link to the "official" statement by the Pretend Pope of All Things Anglican (or is it Alexandrian? I can't keep up anymore) Peter Akinola. It may be of interest to those who have been following our previous discussion.


Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Proof the Text, Then Proof It Again

Being a staff of one at a small mission has given me a greater appreciation for some of the things I've taken for granted over the last sixteen years. I've always worked with at least a part-time secretary, and sometimes a secretary, administrator and an assistant. I think I've been spoiled.

Consider the time consuming job of proofreading. Bulletins, newsletters, website and correspondence all have to be carefully scanned for errors. No longer can I depend on a second or third pair of eyes to catch my poor grammar, embarrassing typos, atrocious spelling or inaccurate information.

This may seem like a small matter, all things considered. But let me assure you, a couple of real bloopers will be remembered by others years after they occur.

For instance, there was my first ecumenical Palm Sunday procession. I was asked to officiate. To show all those Protestants that we Episcopalians know how to do things with style, I showed up at the city park in a beautiful red and gold cope, with a thurible and aspergillum at the ready. I'd also prepared a leaflet containing the blessing of the palms liturgy. When a sufficient multitude had gathered, I stepped up into the pavilion and with a booming voice launched into the opening prayer;

Assit us mercifully with your help, O Lord God of our salvation, that we may enter with joy upon the contemplation of your mighty acts, whereby you have given us life and immorality; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
For lack of one "t" the giggles slowly became loud guffaws.

That was the same year the local paper announced that on Maundy Thursday we would have "the washing of feet and stripping at the altar." Attendance was slightly up that year, but the altar guild was not too pleased.

Here's a few more results of poor proofing that supposedly have appeared in various church bulletins;

It's Drug Awareness Week: Get involved in drugs before your children do.

Illiterate? Write to the church office for help.

Church Rummage Sale: A good opportunity to get rid of anything not worth keeping but too good to throw away. Bring your husband.

The church office will be closed until opening. It will remain closed after opening. It will reopen Monday.

Wanted: Part-time, a Christian nanny to take care of our two-year-old who does not smoke or drink.

We are grateful for the help of those who cleaned up the grounds around the church building and the rector.

Hymn: "I Love Thee My Ford."

Volunteers are needed to spit up food.

The red nose spray on the altar is in celebration of the Smith's 25th wedding anniversary.

Luckily, Demi has volunteered to print up the newsletter and be our webmistress, as well as serve as a second set of eyes for proofing. But, the bulletin is still mine.

I suppose I'd better get back to work on it. I must remember to include an anouncement about next week's cookout, with a reminder to bring a pack of hotdogs and guns. It should be fun.


Monday, August 01, 2005

C of E Threatened with Suspension

From EVN;

...Last week English bishops issued a pastoral statement saying that they would allow their gay clergy to register their civil partnerships under the new act which comes into force this December but they would be required to abstain from sex. Peter Akinola the Archbishop of Nigeria, the largest Anglican province in the world, ridiculed the policy by asking the Church of England bishops if they were intending to place cameras in the bedrooms of their clergy and said that Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury and his church should now face disciplinary action.

"I believe that the temporary suspension of the Church of England is the right course of action to take. The church will be subjected to the same procedures and discipline that America and Canada faced".

In a rare personal jibe against Williams, he said: "Lambeth Palace upholds our common historic faith. It will now lose that place of honour in the world. Must I come to Lambeth Palace in order to go to heaven. The answer is no!"

A suspension would remove the Church of England from the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC), the governing body of the worldwide Anglican Communion, thus losing a say in worldwide policy...
So, Peter Akinola, the "big man," now wants to kick the Church of England out of the Anglican Communion? I cannot imagine things getting any more bizarre.

It looks like the statement by Archbishop Malango of Central Africa may prove to have been accurate after all. The Global South will form their own Communion before the next Lambeth, with their headquarters set up in Alexandria, Egypt.

What is rather ironic is that most likely they will continue to call themselves "Anglican," while no longer being in communion with Canterbury or receiving invitations to Lambeth. Their status will be the same as the REC, AMiA, CEC, and the myriad of other splinter groups that are floating around today.

The primary difference is that this group, if they can hold themselves together, will be quite large numerically. Consequently, they may flourish. Maybe that will be a good thing, although I have grave concerns for those who will find themselves under the authority of such oppressive leaders. It is difficult to imagine grace flowing from an entity formed on a foundation of hate and bigotry.

This will present an unexpected dillemma for the extreme conservatives in North America. This was not part of the plan. They wanted to stay in communion with Canterbury, as that is the most traditional definition of what it means to be Anglican. Most of the conservatives know, if they voice it or not, that the only Instrument of Unity that has been consistently recognized throughout our history is the Archbishop of Canterbury. As they have been telling the faithful members of the Episcopal Church for a few years now, if you are not in communion with Canterbury, you are simply another Protestant denomination.

On the plus side for the conservatives, this would put to rest the issue of the "missions" these foreign bishops have been trying to plant in North America. The issue now is two Anglican bishops claiming authority within the same diocesan boundaries. If they become a denomination, these "missions" will not be any different than the Baptists building a church down the street from your parish.

This move will make the prayer of Jesus, "...that they all may be one," even more difficult to become a reality. For that reason, I would imagine that it will grieve the heart of God. In many ways, it is very similar to a divorce, which is always a tragedy, and never a cause for rejoicing. But, if this "realignment" will end the incessant squabbling, and allow us to focus once again on the mission of the Church, it may be the best resolution to a difficult situation.


UPDATE; Mark Harris offers some thoughts on this latest development.