Friday, September 30, 2005

Akinola: "Why Spare England?"

Peter Akinola, Archbishop, Primate, Metropolitan and Pope of All Nigeria, just couldn't resist dropping what I'm sure he considered a witty line to a reporter of the Mail and Guardian;

Nigeria's Anglican archbishop said on Thursday that Nigerian churches might cut ties with the Church of England if it did not revise its stance on homosexuality, which accepts gay priests in same-sex partnerships...

...Since Nigeria has already cut ties with the Anglican church in the US over homosexuality, "why should England be spared?" said Akinola. "What's good for the geese is good for the gander."
Make what sense you can out of that one.

Now that Nigeria's constitutional stumbling blocks have been removed, one might speculate, even with the disclaimers that there is no schism...yet...and that England is still mother church (but a gander?...someone's confused), that England has less than a month to repent before the official split is announced in Alexandria.

When the Council of Anglican Provinces in Africa (CAPA) and their friends (excluding Brazil, of course) gathers October 24-26, we can anticipate some kind of announcement from the Big Man regarding his official new title. Don't let the supposed disclaimer mislead you. The cards are being played close to the chest. Being delusional does not necessarily mean one is incapable of playing an occasional good hand of poker.

Will a new title and a new set of vestments satisfy the man's hungry ego? Apparently not. Having established a beachhead in North America, Peter will boldly stride into Pittsburgh in November, granting an audience to an eclectic mix of fan clubs; the American Anglican Council/Network (same people; different names), Anglican Mission in America (a group that broke away in 2000 and recently decided not to ordain women), Forward in Faith (as a seminarian, I knew them as the angry lot...women's ordination was their issue...wonder what their next issue will be?), and the Reformed Episcopal Church (they left TEC in 1873 because of issues surrounding ritualism and ecumencial realtionships).

Not included in the schedule, yet might be anticipated, is another possible announcement to be made at this gathering of strange bedfellows (did I mention Rick Warren is the main speaker? Now there's a really good example of Anglican spirituality, eh? Good smoke screen, however). I would not be surprised in the least if Pope Akinola declares the appointment of Bob Duncan as the new Archbishop, Primate and Metropolitan (and various other lofty titles, no doubt, to make up for the bland "Moderator" label) of All North America.

Will that finally be the end? I doubt it. Not until every Anglican knee bends to Peter's pontifical powers will his appetite for adoration be satisfied. And probably not even then; such is the nature of this type of delusion.

I'm told Dr. Williams will be present in Alexandria. I'm not sure if that will change anything. Can Cantuar call a bluff, if that is what it proves to be? I have my doubts. Rowan doesn't appear to be much of a gambling man.


Thursday, September 29, 2005

A Response to the Windsor Report

There's a new book out that is already causing quite a stir in some circles, even though it's release date isn't until tomorrow. Here is the summary of the contents of Gays and the Future of Anglicanism: Responses to the Windsor Report from O Books;

The Anglican Communion stands at a crossroads. Some want Anglicanism to be exclusive of gays, especially gay priests and bishops. The Windsor Report is seen as the means of achieving this by centralizing the Anglican Communion, and bringing wayward provinces, like ECUSA, to heel. In this collection of essays, distinguished academics from the UK and the US offer lively, thoughtful and scholarly critiques of the Windsor Report. What unites this collection is the view that Windsor does not provide a way forward for Anglicanism. Contributors write from a variety of standpoints, including justice for gays, opposition to centralization, and the need for legitimate moral diversity within Anglicanism.
Comments from Dr. Barry Morgan, Archbishop of Wales, regarding this new work are provided by Ekklesia;

The Archbishop of Wales has welcomed a 'cogent' new book by 22 leading theologians that argues for gay people’s inclusion within the Anglican ministry.

Written by ‘some of the finest theological minds’, Gays and the Future of Anglicanism challenges the moratorium on gay consecrations and same-sex blessings of the Anglican Communion. ‘This book throws down a formidable challenge to the Anglican Communion. It cannot afford to ignore it’ he commented.

The Archbishop, Dr Barry Morgan, who was himself one of the people responsible for the Windsor Report, which recommended the moratorium, made it clear that the issue is far from settled: ‘The arguments advanced for including gay people [in the church] deserve to be read and pondered by all who are involved in the debate about human sexuality.’

The book says the Archbishop, ‘shows up the superficiality of previous Anglican discussion of this subject’ and should ‘give the Anglican Church in many places cause for penitence for the way it has treated and thought about gay people.’
From the comments I have seen so far, the extreme conservatives within the Episcopal Church are already ignoring this important work. No surprise, I suppose. They have ignored the Lambeth resolution regarding mandated dialogue, and ignored the parts of the Windsor Report that they didn't like; specifically the section regarding foreign bishops stealing congregations within the Episcopal Church.

The shield they use to justify their right to ignore calls for continued dialogue and continue their campaign to exclude gay and lesbian Christians from the Church is "biblical orthodoxy," by which they claim that "the bible said it, I believe it, that ends it." Never mind the myriad of passages of scripture they dismiss as being irrelevant today. It appears that their definition of "biblical orthodoxy" is whatever parts of the bible they decide are binding. Instead of being a source of inspiration, the bible has been recast as a weapon to be wielded with zealous righteousness against anyone who has the audacity to disagree with them.

Oxford theologian Andrew Linzey, one of the editors of this new book, offers this comment;

This is a welcome sign of a rethink. We were always told that Windsor was a process not a judgment – it is excellent to have confirmation of that’. Some fear that the Windsor Report will lead to the exclusion of all gays from the Church. ‘Preposterous as it sounds, some people want to make attitude to gays the criterion of being an Anglican’, added Professor Linzey. ‘The book is really a devastating critique of current church policy’.
Here is a list of the 22 theologians who contributed to this book;

Marilyn McCord Adams is Regius Professor of Divinity at the University of Oxford and Canon of Christ Church, Oxford. Formerly, she was Horace Tracy Pitkin Professor of Historical Theology at Yale University and Professor of Philosophy at UCLA.

Thomas Breidenthal has been Dean of Religious Life and of the Chapel at Princeton University since January 2002. Previously, he was the John Henry Hobart Professor of Christian Ethics at the General Theological Seminary in New York City. An Episcopal priest, he received a DPhil in Theology from Oxford University.

L. William Countryman is the Sherman E. Johnson Professor in Biblical Studies at the Church Divinity School of the Pacific in Berkeley, California. He is also a member of the Core Doctoral Faculty of the Graduate Theological Union and serves on its Interdisciplinary Committee.

Anthony P. M. Coxon is currently Honorary Professorial Fellow at the University of Edinburgh and Emeritus Professor of Sociological Research Methods, University of Wales, and prior to that was Professor in the Departments of Sociology and of Health and Human Sciences at the University of Essex.

Sean Gill is Senior Lecturer in Theology and Religious Studies at the University of Bristol; he was previously Lecturer in Theology and Religious Studies from 1976-1996, and Head of Department from 1997-2000.

Elaine Graham is the Samuel Ferguson Professor of Social and Pastoral Theology at the University of Manchester.

Rowan A. Greer is Professor of Anglican Studies Emeritus at Yale Divinity School. His previous appointments include Associate Professor of New Testament at Yale, and Chaplain of the Theological College of the Scottish Episcopal Church, Edinburgh.

Charles Hefling is a professor in the Theology Department at Boston College, Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts; Editor-in-Chief of the Anglican Theological Review; and the Examining Chaplain to the Bishop of Massachusetts.

Carter Heyward is the Howard Chandler Robbins Professor of Theology at Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Lisa Isherwood is Professor of Feminist Liberation Theologies at the College of St Mark and St John, Plymouth. She is an Executive Editor of the international journal Feminist Theology and Co-Director of the Britain and Ireland School of Feminist Theology.

Gareth Jones studied Theology at Cambridge University, completing his PhD on Bultmann in 1988. He then spent three years at Keble College, Oxford, as Bampton Fellow, before moving to Birmingham University as Lecturer in Systematic Theology in 1991. After spending eighteen months as theological consultant to the House of Bishops of the Church of England, he was appointed to the Chair of Christian Theology at Canterbury Christ Church University College in 1999.

Philip Kennedy studied music at the University of Melbourne before joining the Dominican Order in 1977. His graduate studies in theology were undertaken in Switzerland and the Netherlands, after which he lectured on theology in Australia, United States of America, and England. He has been based in Oxford since 1994. From 2000-2004, he was Lecturer in the History of Modern Christian Thought in the University of Oxford, and is now the Senior Tutor of Mansfield College, Oxford.

Richard Kirker is Director of the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement, a post held since 1979. LGCM, a UK-based but internationally active ecumenical charity, with a predominantly Anglican/Episcopal membership, campaigns against homophobia and for an inclusive church. He is ordained a deacon in the Church of England, has written dozens of articles, makes regular media appearances, edits Lesbian and Gay Christians, and has been involved in establishing links with a wide variety of Church organizations and ecumenical bodies globally.

Christopher Lewis is Dean of Christ Church, Oxford. He was previously Vice-Principal of Ripon College, Cuddesdon from 1976-1982, Residentiary Canon of Canterbury Cathedral from 1987-1994, Director of Ministerial Training for the Canterbury Diocese from 1989-1994, and Dean of St Albans from 1994-2003.

Andrew Linzey is a member of the Faculty of Theology in the University of Oxford, and Senior Research Fellow of Blackfriars Hall, Oxford. He is also Honorary Professor of Theology in the University of Birmingham, and Special Professor at Saint Xavier University, Chicago.

George Pattison is Lady Margaret Professor of Divinity in the University of Oxford. Previously, he spent fourteen years in parish ministry, was Dean of Chapel at King's College, Cambridge from 1991-2001, and Associate Professor in Practical Theology at the University of Århus (2002-2003).

Martyn Percy is Principal of Ripon College Cuddesdon, Oxford. He is also Adjunct Professor in Theology and Ministry, Hartford Seminary, Connecticut, USA (since 2002), and Honorary Professor of Theological Education at King’s College London. He is also Canon Theologian of Sheffield Cathedral. After training at Durham, he served as curate at St Andrew’s, Bedford, from 1990-94, and was then Chaplain and Director of Theology and Religious Studies, Christ’s College, Cambridge from 1994-1997. In 1997, he was appointed Founding Director, Lincoln Theological Institute for the Study of Religion and Society.

Carolyn J. Sharp is Assistant Professor of Old Testament at Yale Divinity School. She is the author of Prophecy and Ideology in Jeremiah (T & T Clark, 2003).

Martin Stringer studied Social Anthropology at Manchester University, completing his PhD on the congregation's understanding of worship in 1987. He then spent five years as a church based community worker working for the Diocese of Manchester, before moving to Birmingham University as Lecturer in the Anthropology and Sociology of Religion in 1992. He was elected Head of the Department of Theology and Religion at Birmingham University in 2002.

Vincent Strudwick is Chamberlain of Kellogg College and Associate Chaplain of Corpus Christi College, Oxford. He is an Emeritus Canon of Christ Church, Emeritus Fellow of Kellogg College, and an Emeritus (but still teaching) member of the Oxford University Faculty of Theology.

Adrian Thatcher taught Theology at the College of St Mark and St John, Plymouth, from 1977 until his retirement in August 2004. He became Professor of Applied Theology there in 1995. He is now part-time Professorial Research Fellow at the University of Exeter.

Keith Ward has taught philosophy at the Universities of Glasgow, St Andrews, London and Cambridge. He has taught theology at London, Cambridge and Oxford. He was F. D. Maurice Professor of Moral and Social Theology, and then Professor of the History and Philosophy of Religion at London University, and Regius Professor of Divinity at Oxford University. He has been a priest of the Church of England since 1972. He is a Fellow of the British Academy.

Kevin Ward is Senior Lecturer in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies at Leeds University.

This "devastating critique of current church policy" looks like a "must read." Pick up one for yourself, then pick up another one to pass along.


Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Hurricane Rita: Much Loss, Much Grace

From Bishop D. Bruce MacPherson of the Diocese of Western Louisiana;

...What are the effects upon our diocese and this part of the state of Louisiana? Much destruction; the town of Cameron, Louisiana, just south of Lake Charles is gone. The reports of this day state that 'not a single house is left.' Across in the east side of the diocese in Vermillion Parish, and on the south side of Abbeville, the area south of Highway 90 is underwater to the rooftops, and as of this afternoon more than 1,000 people have been rescued from their water-engulfed settings. There is much loss from one side of the diocese to the other, and moving north, many crops that were swept away.

Looking at our diocese, I must state that I am once again so grateful for witness of Christian care and concern, and for the outpouring of support across the diocese as people from within the Diocese of Western Louisiana came north seeking a place to stay, and in their midst, Katrina evacuees that had begun to go home, found themselves returning to the many places of shelter being provided to those who came from the Dioceses of Louisiana and Mississippi...

...The most common thing one will hear at the moment, as people look at what has transpired, is the phrase 'It is unbelievable.' But then, this was the reaction of many to the empty tomb of Easter, and out of this came the resurrection promise, the gift of life. I pray this night that those affected so personally by all that has taken place will experience the presence of the risen Christ and God's healing grace.
The Episcopal Church's Hurricane Emergency Links Portal can be found here.


Leader: We place before you, our God, our needs and concerns as well as those of our brothers and sisters everywhere:

All respond: Merciful Lord, hear our prayer

For all the victims of natural disasters, especially those who have died as a result of recent hurricanes (Name)
R: Merciful Lord, hear our prayer

For all those hurricane victims who are displaced, homeless, hungry, sick and anxious about loved ones
R: Merciful Lord, hear our prayer

For disaster relief workers, medical personnel, and police and security officers
R: Merciful Lord, hear our prayer

For those of us who want to help in some way, that we may be generous in giving of ourselves and resources

R: Merciful Lord, hear our prayer

Leader: Gathering our petitions together, we join them in the prayer that Jesus taught us:


Leader: God our Father, through the wisdom of the Holy Spirit, inspire in us the compassion, peace, and generosity to look beyond our own needs to those of our brothers and sisters who suffer in the aftermath of natural disasters such as hurricanes (Katrina and Rita). May we serve your Son, Jesus Christ, in joy, as we reach out to all those in need. Grant this through Christ our Lord.
R: Amen

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Special Commission Appointed

From the Episcopal News Service;

...The 14-member commission was appointed by Presiding Bishop Frank T. Griswold and the Very Rev. George L. W. Werner, president of the House of Deputies. They charged the commission with preparing the way for General Convention to receive and respond to the Windsor Report, the February 2005 communiqué of the primates from Dromantine, and the actions of the June 2005 meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council...

...The Special Commission will prepare a report with proposed resolutions, if any, for the Blue Book of the 75th General Convention next June. The Blue Book is each convention’s official compilation of reports and proposed legislation from the committees, commissions, agencies, and boards of the General Convention.

The commission’s members are:
Sarah Dylan Breuer of Frederick, Maryland (Province III); the Rev. Dr. Ian T. Douglas of Episcopal Divinity School (Province I); the Rev. Mark Harris of Lewes, Delaware (Province III); the Rev. Dr. Katherine Grieb of Virginia Theological Seminary (Province III); the Rt. Rev. Dorsey F. Henderson Jr., bishop of Upper South Carolina (Province IV); the Rt. Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, bishop of Nevada (Province VIII); the Rt. Rev. Henry Louttit Jr., bishop of Georgia (Province IV); the Rev. Charles E. Osberger of Wye Mills, Maryland (Province III); the Rt. Rev. Mark S. Sisk, bishop of New York (Province II); the Rev. Canon Rosemari Sullivan of Virginia Theological Seminary (Province III); Katherine Tyler Scott of Indianapolis, Indiana (Province V); the Rev. Francis H. Wade of Washington, D.C. (Province III); Christopher Wells of South Bend, Indiana (Province V); and the Rev. Sandra A. Wilson of South Orange, New Jersey (Province II).
Two of these appointees I only know by way of regularly reading their blogs.

Sarah Dylan Breuer is the author of Dylan's Lectionary Blog which is a resource that quite a few Episcopal clergy have discovered. Dylan provides some of the best homiletical helps on the net.

Mark Harris posts at Preludium. Mark and I usually agree on most things, although his commentary often offers more depth than Jake does, which has made him one of my regular reads. I first noticed Mark a few years ago, when he was one of the early writers to recognize the full implications of the attempted coup by the AAC/Network. Mark also posts regularly to the House of Bishops/House of Deputies list, which is a good daily read if one wants to stay informed regarding the ongoing conversations of the elected leaders of the Episcopal Church.

I have known Bishop Dorsey Henderson for some time. We disagree on a number of issues, but he is always a gentleman about it. I have had the opportunity to serve with Dorsey before and after his consecration as bishop. He is an Anglo-Catholic from Virginia seminary (some will catch the irony in that statement!) who is inclined to be a conservative on some issues, and a moderate on others. He is by far the best priest I have ever had the privilege of serving with. I have limited experience of his effectiveness as a bishop, but I do know that he has a pastor's heart. I would respect and honor Dorsey's recommendations, even if I disagreed with them.

I have read a few things written by Ian Douglas, and have been impressed by his ability to combine clarity and good scholarship; an ability which is quite difficult and, unfortunately, also quite rare.

I must confess to having little or no knowledge of the rest of the members of this commission. Do you recognize any names in this list?


Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Akinola's Zealous Pronouncements

Once again, Thinking Anglicans points the way to the latest interesting bit of Anglican news, this time from Bishop John Chane of the diocese of Washington;

...One very disturbing outcome of the ACC meeting in Nottingham was the Council's decision to admit Primates to membership on the Council. To this point, the Anglican Communion has been held together by four "Instruments of Unity": the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Lambeth Conference, the Anglican Consultative Council and the Primates Meeting. We are not a Church dominated by a Curia of Primates and Bishops. And yet that seems to be the direction in which we are heading. This is fearful indeed given the rhetoric of some of the Primates claiming new authority for themselves. The well-balanced essence of Anglicanism, as it has been handed down through the ages, is now under attack by a few who presume to speak for many...
Keep in mind that with the exception of the ACC, all the members of the other three Instruments of Unity are bishops. Only the ACC included representatives from the orders of priest, deacon and laity. Now, with Primates as members of the ACC, some of whom are indeed "claiming new authority for themselves," those who do not wear purple no longer have a voice within the Anglican Communion. We're not headed in the direction of domination by bishops; we've arrived.

...One of the most outspoken of this small group of men who presumes to speak for the entire global Communion is the Most Rev. Peter Akinola, Primate of Nigeria. Archbishop Akinola has almost single-handedly led the attack against the Episcopal and Canadian churches with his zealous pronouncements against homosexuality. More recently, he has set his sites on the Church of England...
"Zealous pronouncements"? You are too gracious, Right Reverend Sir. But I'm not. Let's try "bigoted hate speech." Seems more accurate to me.

...With the Archbishop's reference that "no Church can ignore the teaching of the Bible with impunity," I must ask myself who has been left with the ultimate authority to interpret the teaching of the Bible? Certainly such important work has not been left up to the Archbishop of Nigeria alone...
Ah, but if you aspire to become the Pope of the Alexandrian Catholic Church, you can indeed expect such important work to be left up to you. To understand the Archbishop, one must enter into his delusion.

...And if the Church is to really focus on the issues of the Bible's teaching and the core teachings of Jesus Christ, why does this Archbishop spend so much time on human sexuality issues while so many of his countrymen and women are oppressed by poverty, illiteracy and violence? Where is the strong voice of the Nigerian Anglican Church in opposing the continued neglect of vulnerable women and children, or in advocating on behalf of the poorest of the poor? Jesus was very clear in his hard teachings that one could always tell the righteous from the damned by whether they lived into feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, welcoming the stranger and visiting those who were in prison...
If Akinola championed the oppressed, he'd be written off as just another "libral social gospel hippie" who had abandoned the true faith. He might miss his chance for the power that is now nearly within his grasp. Sex sells. It gets him in the news. So what if must walk on the backs of innocents on his way to the throne? Get out of his way. He is on a mission from God.

Don't ask me about the God who would sanction such a mission. I have never encountered this particular deity. I doubt if I ever will. I suspect this God is the result of the Archbishop's delusional state.


Thursday, September 15, 2005

Nigeria Severs Ties to Canterbury

From the Church of Nigeria;

...With a careful rewording of her constitution, the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) redefined her relationship with all other Anglican Churches.

All former references to ‘communion with the see of Canterbury’ were deleted and replaced with another provision of communion with all Anglican Churches, Dioceses and Provinces that hold and maintain the ‘Historic Faith, Doctrine, Sacrament and Discipline of the one Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church’...
I suspect this constitutional change will be the model adopted by all those meeting in Alexandria next month to finalize their plans for schism. But Peter Akinola, the Archbishop, Primate, Metropolitan and Pope of All Nigeria, "denounced as speculation reports on the Internet that the meeting would decide on a break in the 77 million-strong Anglican Communion."

Then why the constitutional changes, Peter? And why do you claim the authority to decide who gets an invitation to the party in Alexandria? Trial balloon for your anticipated expanded pontifical power, perhaps?

In case readers have forgotten, Brazilian Bishop Calvacanti was the only foreign bishop to be involved in the irregular confirmations in Ohio last year. He is also the same foreign bishop who snatched up two parishes in the diocese of Olympia the day after the Windsor Report was released.

A tip of the biretta to Simon Sarmiento for pointing to the Nigerian press release.


Monday, September 12, 2005

Archbishop Akinola; "Gays Produce Hooligans"

Peter Akinola, the Archbishop of Nigeria, was the recent recipient of the Kairos Journal Award. A press release, written by Cynthia Brust, Assistant Director of Communications for the American Anglican Council, contains this quote;

The Kairos Journal Award is given to individuals who demonstrate exemplary fidelity to the authority of Scripture and exceptional pastoral courage in their efforts to restore the prophetic voice of the Church, said Journal publisher Emmanuel A. Kampouris.
Here is the latest essay written by Akinola and published by Kairos. Allow me to reproduce an excerpt of the essay that we must assume the good folks of Kairos consider an excellent example of "exceptional pastoral courage";

...To opine that, unknown to humans, God had hitherto created some people to be homosexuals and lesbians (i.e., sexual orientations) is tantamount to creating God in our own image and introducing a cancerous element into the fabric of the African understanding of marriage and family.

Homosexuality and lesbianism, like divorce, breed a society of single parents which gives rise to a generation of bastards. And in the context of much poverty and lack of education, this further produces an ill-bred generation of hooligans, portending much terror to the peace and stability of the society.

Homosexuality and lesbianism thrives on many sexual aberrations and improvisations typical of human selfishness and greed in the name of pleasure and self-actualization.

In a society where many women are finding it difficult to have husbands of their own due to the depletion of men by many factors, homosexuality will exacerbate the existing social disequilibrium, leading to much social unrest.

Granted, the American society as a super-power is in the forefront of human adventure. However, in this case of human sexuality, it is nothing but adventure in ungodliness. For people like Gene Robinson, who was married for years with children, to wake up one morning and discover that they are homosexuals is nothing but adventurous promiscuity and unfaithfulness. The Church condones that at her own peril. If this is not yet clear to many today, it will surely be tomorrow.
So, according to the Archbishop;

1. There is no such thing as "homosexual orientations."
2. That notion has introduced a "cancerous element" into our understanding of marriage and family.
3. Homosexuals, lesbians, divorcees, and single parents are responsible for a generation of bastard hooligans.
4. Homosexuals and lesbians are just plain selfish.
5. Homosexuals are depriving women of husbands.
6. Gene Robinson woke up one day and discovered he was homosexual.

Six outrageous statements in five paragraphs. And for this he is given an award for "exceptional pastoral courage"?

There are many buffoon bishops within the Church, so it might appear that the best response to this apparent relapse of "foot in mouth disease", an ailment that has troubled Akinola for some time, would be to simply dismiss him as just another eccentric cleric. If only we could. The problem is, he is suffering from a dual diagnosis, the second malady being megalomania. From an article entitled Africans set to found rival Anglican church;

...In a new African-based Anglican community they plan to replace the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams as their spiritual leader with the Archbishop of Nigeria, Peter Jasper Akinola, and exclude homosexuals from full church life.

A leading gay vicar - who asked not to be named - said: "I fear for Rowan Williams if he attends the Alexandria Conference. Anglican dissidents will publicly announce that Archbishop Akinola is their new spiritual leader and that there is no place for the present Archbishop of Canterbury in the new community based in Alexandria.

"I also hear that African Anglicans plan to place a throne in a conference room and ask Archbishop Akinola to sit in it - while Dr Williams is supposed to stand by and watch...
If what some Anglicans want is to break away from the Anglican Communion and appoint their own Alexandrian Pope, I say, go with God. But, as I've said before, I really hope that they take a closer look at Akinola before enthroning him. Even with my limited diagnostic skills, it seem quite evident to me that this is a man in desperate need of professional help.


Sunday, September 11, 2005

Police Blocked Bridge Out of New Orleans

It appears that the Gretna police department, along with officers from Jefferson Parish and the Crescent City Connection police force, prevented the people trapped for days at the Superdome to walk to safety across a bridge into Jefferson Parish. Here's an excerpt from an eyewitness account;

...As we approached the bridge, armed Gretna sheriffs formed a line across the foot of the bridge. Before we were close enough to speak, they began firing their weapons over our heads. This sent the crowd fleeing in various directions. As the crowd scattered and dissipated, a few of us inched forward and managed to engage some of the sheriffs in conversation. We told them of our conversation with the police commander and of the commander's assurances. The sheriffs informed us there were no buses waiting. The commander had lied to us to get us to move.

We questioned why we couldn't cross the bridge anyway, especially as there was little traffic on the 6-lane highway. They responded that the West Bank was not going to become New Orleans and there would be no Superdomes in their City. These were code words for if you are poor and black, you are not crossing the Mississippi River and you were not getting out of New Orleans.
Here and here are more eyewitness accounts. The UPI reports the story here.

The Independent tells the story under this headline; 'Racist' police blocked bridge and forced evacuees back at gunpoint. Here's some additional information from their report;

Arthur Lawson, chief of the Gretna police department, said he had not yet questioned his officers as to whether they fired their guns.

He confirmed that his officers, along with those from Jefferson Parish and the Crescent City Connection police force, sealed the bridge and refused to let people pass. This was despite the fact that local media were informing people that the bridge was one of the few safe evacuation routes from the city.

Gretna is a predominantly white suburban town of around 18,000 inhabitants. In the aftermath of Katrina, three quarters of the inhabitants still had electricity and running water. But, Chief Lawson told UPI news agency: "There was no food, water or shelter in Gretna City. We did not have the wherewithal to deal with these people. If we had opened the bridge our city would have looked like New Orleans does now - looted, burned and pillaged."
I suspect our nation may be suffering from a bit of cognitive dissonance. This is not my America.


Thursday, September 08, 2005

The Pirates of Penance

Real Live Preacher has updated his site and added a few new features. One of them is a chat room. The connection between those who visit this room is that we have all been touched by RLP's writing.

It's an amazing place in many respects. Since we are communicating in real time, the divisions between us usually melt away. Few debates. Fewer arguments. Lots of silliness. And sometimes a level of sharing that is not possible on forums or blogs.

There's a group that visits this chat room daily. During one of the more busy evenings, the label "Pirates of Penance" was tossed out. It seems to have stuck. There's now a Real Live Pirates site.

RLP, who is near San Antonio, is gathering supplies for the evacuees from hurricane Katrina. Some of his readers expressed the desire to donate to this effort. Here's his response;

I will take your money and go straight to the store to buy baby supplies, food, or clothing for people that we are helping. Every cent will go to a family in need. As things progress, I'll keep you posted on what happens.

This is the way it will get done. One family at a time.
It is getting done.

Visit RLP's site and help with this effort. The Pirates of Penance want to offer an additional incentive to donate. Thanks to the efforts of Whatspider, you can get your very own Real Live Pirate t-shirt, with all profit going towards RLP's relief efforts.

So, avast ye landlubbers! Cease swingin the lead and get a shirt before ye are keel hauled. Arrrgh!


Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Experts' Predictions Ignored

Here is an excerpt from National Geographic;

...Nearly 80 percent of New Orleans lies below sea level - more than eight feet below in places - so the water poured in. A liquid brown wall washed over the brick ranch homes of Gentilly, over the clapboard houses of the Ninth Ward, over the white-columned porches of the Garden District, until it raced through the bars and strip joints on Bourbon Street like the pale rider of the Apocalypse. As it reached 25 feet (eight meters) over parts of the city, people climbed onto roofs to escape it.

Thousands drowned in the murky brew that was soon contaminated by sewage and industrial waste. Thousands more who survived the flood later perished from dehydration and disease as they waited to be rescued. It took two months to pump the city dry, and by then the Big Easy was buried under a blanket of putrid sediment, a million people were homeless, and 50,000 were dead. It was the worst natural disaster in the history of the United States.
What is unique about this article is that it was written in October of 2004! Here's a bit more;

...When did this calamity happen? It hasn't - yet. But the doomsday scenario is not far-fetched. The Federal Emergency Management Agency lists a hurricane strike on New Orleans as one of the most dire threats to the nation, up there with a large earthquake in California or a terrorist attack on New York City. Even the Red Cross no longer opens hurricane shelters in the city, claiming the risk to its workers is too great.

"The killer for Louisiana is a Category Three storm at 72 hours before landfall that becomes a Category Four at 48 hours and a Category Five at 24 hours - coming from the worst direction," says Joe Suhayda, a retired coastal engineer at Louisiana State University who has spent 30 years studying the coast...
Sadly, these predictions have proven to be all too accurate. A tip of the biretta to Paulapalooza for spotting this.

New Orleans knew of the danger. Why was the city so unprepared? For suggestions as to what might have been done, I refer you to this morning's editorial in the NY Times by John Tierney, Magic Marker Strategy;

...Mr. Judkins is one of the officials in charge of evacuating the Hampton Roads region around Newport News, Va. These coastal communities, unlike New Orleans, are not below sea level, but they're much better prepared for a hurricane. Officials have plans to run school buses and borrow other buses to evacuate those without cars, and they keep registries of the people who need special help.

Instead of relying on a "Good Samaritan" policy - the fantasy in New Orleans that everyone would take care of the neighbors - the Virginia rescue workers go door to door. If people resist the plea to leave, Mr. Judkins told The Daily Press in Newport News, rescue workers give them Magic Markers and ask them to write their Social Security numbers on their body parts so they can be identified.

"It's cold, but it's effective," Mr. Judkins explained.

That simple strategy could have persuaded hundreds of people to save their own lives in New Orleans. What the city needed most was coldly effective local leaders, not a president in Washington who could feel their pain. It's the same lesson we should have learned from Sept. 11 and other disasters, yet both liberals and conservatives keep ignoring it...
When facing this magnitude of disaster, I'd say "cold but effective" is the way to go.

I'm not interested in playing the "blame game." But I do think that it will soon be time to begin the process of learning from this disaster. We need to identify what went wrong and create better plans for the future. Such plans might benefit from exploring creative options in place in other communities. Personally, I agree with Tierney; the best plans will be developed locally, with state and federal assistance being a secondary support system.


Sunday, September 04, 2005

Feeling Abandoned

There are those who hear stories of natural disasters and ask us “Where is your God now?”

I don’t have a good response to that question. All I know is that there are reasons why the laws of nature are in place. We can’t see the big picture. We don’t know what further disasters would result if these laws were suspended. And the result is that sometimes bad things happen to good people.

Natural disasters do not challenge my belief in God. What does challenge my faith is to see the high winds and floods, and then see no one acting in the name of God to offer help.

If I witnessed no response from those who are safe, then I would say that there is no such thing as a compassionate God.

Some wonder about the anger and rage they hear from the victims in New Orleans. Some think the mayor went a bit over the top. I recognize this rage. It springs from feeling abandoned.

When I was young, I spent some years as a throw away kid. My friends were also throw aways. We had no families to speak of. Some of us lived on the street, depending on the kindness of strangers. Often those acts of kindness were few and far between.

As the years went by, the feeling of being abandoned by society grew into a burning rage. Acts of rebellion, and sometimes violence, felt very satisfying. We were of no worth to anyone. We were expendable. We had been abandoned. Sometimes, just to prove we really existed, we lashed out.

Yes, I recognize the rage I see in the faces on the news. And it saddens me. It also frightens me. Because here’s the truth of my experience; when one meets rejection and abandonment at every turn, eventually you have to face the possibility that you have been abandoned by God. There is no creature more dangerous in all of creation than a human who is convinced that they have been damned for all time.

We must quickly respond to this disaster, not just for their sake, or for God’s sake, but for our own sake as well.


Friday, September 02, 2005

Update on Response to Katrina

Episcopal Relief and Development has updated information.

Their Hurricane Katrina Crisis Center provides news, links to prayers, a bulletin insert, FEMA instructions for evacuees, help from Episcopal Migration Ministries and a message from the Presiding Bishop.

A prayer by The Reverend Wilma Jakobsen, All Saints, Pasadena;

Most Merciful, Most Compassionate God
Hear our prayers for your people affected by Hurricane Katrina
And let their cries come unto You.

O God, the floods have engulfed the land
The storms made a wasteland of water
How can we sing to you
When so many have died or are missing?

Strengthen those who cling to life
Keep their hope and hearts alive;
Revive the weary rescue workers and tired medical teams
Renew the resolve of those who have lost everything.

Quicken all efforts to rush resources and aid
Send our people to help;
Open our hearts to give and give again
That we may be generous bearers of healing and help.

God of the Universe
Pour out your Spirit of mercy and compassion
In Your Name we pray. AMEN.