25 October 2008

Of Rattlesnakes and Henry VIII

As everyone probably knows by now, our Executive Council met in Montana this week; in Helena to be exact. I know very little about Montana, but I did have a mental connection to the state and the capital. Many years ago (in the 1980s) I read the book Fancy Dancer about a Roman priest in Montana who, though a confession he hears, begins to realize he is gay. The book deals with his journey coming out and his relationship with the man, an Indian, who is he guide, as it were. The book was complete fiction of course because there was a happy ending for the priest. That doesn’t happen in the real world of the Roman church. Just ask Fr. Geoff Farrow.

The Executive Council considered many things including the expected “covenant.” The Most Rev’d Katharine Jefferts Schori stated that she will urge the General Convention not to consider the so-called covenant at the 2009 Triennial. That, of course, set the fundamentalists on ear and they immediately reviled her. What is new about that – they already believe she is the Anti-Christ and meets weekly with Satan plot the demise of the fundamentalists and their organization and branding 666 on the foreheads of all Episcopalians.

The presiding bishop’s reason is sound: the “covenant” will not be released until May 2009, GC is July 2009 and therefore, there will not be enough time for TEC to adequately study and pray about the “covenant.” I completely agree.

According to the fundamentalists, ++Katharine should know that everyone knows what will be in this roundhead document – it will be a rehash of the St. Andrew’s document, with a means to censure dissenting provinces added, while praising the fundamentalists. That’s why she doesn’t want GC09 to consider the document. She is trembling in her high-heals.

I do admit that it doesn’t take a genius to conclude that the Aryan Nation would not produce a document favourable to black folks. The same can be safely said about the committee “drafting” the roundhead covenant.

The Rev’d Dan Martins put his feeling on the subject this way:

And it is manifestly clear to any sentient observer that nothing even remotely resembling the St Andrew's Draft would have the proverbial snowball's change in you-know-where of being concurrently approved by both houses of General Convention. Just not gonna happen.

What I can say is: nothing short of tossing TEC and the ACoC out would have the proverbial snowball’s chance in you-know-where of being accepted by the fundamentalists. Just not gonna happen.

And there is the impasse. So, why should GC waste time debating a document that is its own death certificate? I can’t think of a single reason. The fundamentalists want complete capitulation and total control. They want a document that states how wicked TEC is and how horrible it is for persecuting these poor, innocent fundamentalists who were doing nothing but minding their own business until TEC started assaulting then over theology and how Satanic they are for accepting women and homosexuals.

Another part of the Helene meeting was to authorize some type of dialogue with the so called Common Cause partners. I’m sorry, but that makes as much sense as a mouse attempting to dialogue with a rattlesnake. There is nothing about which to dialogue. The fundamentalists plan is to steal the whole “franchise” and they are going to have it any way they can get it. I cannot understand why the leaders of TEC continue to disbelieve this fact and keep saying “come, brothers, let us reason together.”

The fact is, TEC has been “reasoning together” with the fundamentalists since the 1970s. Well, actually since 1929 and that radical, unacceptable prayer book that is now beloved by the same fundamentalists who reviled it in 1929. All the reasoning has been on the part of TEC. There has been no dialogue from the fundamentalists. Pit vipers don’t reason; they bit and inflict deadly venom.

I have said this before, but here it comes again: where is Henry VIII when we need him.

On a completely different subject, Sydney has approved deacons presiding and administering all things pertaining to the Holy Eucharist.

Since this is completely unlike any other province is doing, and since it is in total opposition with 2000 years of church history, and cannot be supported by Scripture, I wonder, how soon will Sydney seek the approval of the whole AC before it implements this unscriptural innovation. Certainly Jensen would never unilaterally do anything that could cause grief to any other part of the communion. Don't you agree?

24 October 2008

Mormons and morality police

Last night I saw a news report about Proposition 8 and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (The Mormons). The report was critical of the LDS organization, of course, and in my opinion, rightly so.

I do not enter the political realm in this blog, but, the CJCLDS has satted they are not in politics, that Proposition 8 is a matter of morality. So, I’m going to speak to the morality of the Mormon organization.

The report stated that many members of the LDS church object to the organization’s deep involvement in politics. They had presented “church leaders” with petitions in a televised media event. A very well dressed and well spoken woman received the petitions.

Now on the surface that sounds and looks really nice; The LDS leaders are listening to their members.


First, the person who received the protesters was a woman. Women have no place in the organizational structure of the CJCLDS. They do not hold priesthood authority and, therefore, are not and cannot be “spokesmen” or official representatives of the Church. So the “church leaders” did not accept the petitions as stated. This was “the leaders’” way of appearing to listen and to avoid any possible embarrassing situation by sending a priesthood holder to deal with the malcontents.

Sadly, those members who “went public” in their opposition to the

church position will shortly receive a summons to their respective bishop’s office. The CJCLDS does not tolerate any opinion other than that of “the Brethren” – period. (“The Brethren” is what the leaders in SLC are called.)

A member has some freedom to believe whatever s/he wishes, but may not state personal beliefs in any public forum (including church meetings) or even to one’s own family in private when those beliefs do not conform to church policy.

We are dealing with a “morality” that does not allow women to hold priesthood or any other authority except over other women, and even then there must be a priesthood holder consulted in all decisions. The women cannot even schedule a potluck lunch without a male approving the event.

Womens roles are those of mother and homemaker. Women who must work are not quite acceptable and if married, their husbands are looked down upon for not being able to provide for his wife who should be pregnant with the fifth or sixth child.

On the day of resurrection women will remain in the grave unless their husbands call them forth from the grave. Polygamy is still the law of the church although it is no officially practiced. But, it is still on the books. In fact, a man may not enter the highest heaven (meaning be saved) unless he has more than one wife.

Joseph Smith Jr. translated the Book of Mormon from ancient "reformed Egyptian" script found on golden plates hidden a hill near his home in New York State. That book, declared and belived by LDS people to ber "the most correct book ever written" and much more correct than the bible, explicitly forbis polygamy. But, Joseph Smith, Jr. will be busy on Resurrection morning because he had thirty-three wives -- all at the same time. In fact, he received a revelation telling him to force another member to divorce his wife so he (Joseph) could marry her (they did, he did.). Talk about traditional marriage being between one man and one woman! The founder of the LDS church himself disregarded a principle teaching of the founding document (Book of Mormon), and yet it is not possible to cut gay people some slack because the bible, a corrupted book, can be interpreted to outlaw same-gender marriage. (Where did it say taht?)

Remind your LDS friends about the "non traditional marriages" their founders practiced until 1908 when the Book of Mormon forbidden practice of polygmany was officially suspended in the "Manifesto." And remind them that the prophet who gave that "manifesto" and said under oath that he was not sleeping with any of his plural wives, had, in the succeeding five years, thirteen children by various wives he was not sleeping with.

In the 1970s, several women were excommunicated for publicly campaigning for the equal rights amendment which The Brethren opposed. They were first called in and told to shut up. When they did not follow that council, they were seen as combative and “unrepentant” and disfellowshipped (could not take the sacrament, teach, speak in any public meeting or pray), and when that didn’t stop the women, they were excommunicated. For LDS people, that’s much, much worse than for it is for Roman Catholics. Excommunication is the ultimate tool of intimidation. It affects you, your ancestors, and your descendants into the eternities of eternities. That is what awaits those who have gone public in opposition to the LDS leaders being too political.

Additionally, it was not until 1978 that the church leaders finally ate their words and allowed black males to hold priesthood authority. That was twenty years after the Civil Rights Act, folks. And even then, it was only when world pressure had escalated that the leaders had to capitulate because they wanted to be accepted by the rest of the Christian world.

This is the “morality” of the church that is trying to force their morality on the State of California though political means. The ultimate goal of the CJCLDS is a total theocracy in the United States first, and then throughout the world. Members are expected to pledge their lives and their total resources at the disposal of the church to accomplish that goal. And they have -- California Mormons (less than two percent of the population) have given over seventeen million dollars to remove constitutionally guarenteed rights from aproximately ten percent (or more) of the citizens of California.

23 October 2008

Schism comes to Diocese of Rio Grande

According to the web, the vestry of the Episcopal Church of St. Francis on the Hill, voted to remove themselves (as opposed to removing the entire parish and property) from the Episcopal Church. Well, that’s not how they are spinning it, but that’s all they did.

The vestry apparently believes that by vote they can remove their parish from the diocese and the National Church. They “immediately filed a motion for summary judgment in the District Court of El Paso seeking a decision on the title to the property." The vestry feels they own the property located in Northwest El Paso.

Isn't it interesting that they "immediately" filed legal papers. That is so Christian, you know. It certainly is part of the Chapman plot which is not Christian.

Now, guess who one of their their priests is and where he is from? The Rev’d Dr. Felix Orji, a Nigerian native. He has a history of schism. He was a priest at St. John’s in the diocese of New Westminster where the rector, David Short was deposed for his schismatic activities. Orji was his right-hand man.

According to the Diocese of Rio Grande web site, the rector is the Rev'd Jeffrey Humpf with Orji associate priest. The church web page lists Orji as rector. It's also interesting that the church web site makes no mention of the recent vestry actions.

We should note that Orji was present at the "Pittsburgh Meeting" in August 2006 where Bob Duncan, David Anderson, David Short, Kendall Harmon, Keith Ackerman, and
David Schofield Schofield plotted further machinations.

At that meeting, David Short said
“We may achieve every goal of a thoroughly [fundamentalist], conservative, theologically correct church with all the right oversight in place but if our lives do not demonstrate the humility of Christ, it will be a wasted effort and it will not please him. A theologically correct church by itself will never shake the world with transforming power. What will threaten our culture is not just right doctrine but lives with heavenly Christ-like humility in the service of right doctrine.”
While that above statement is true, they have failed miserably. I don't recall any martyrs telling the world how persecuted they were. Conversely, this bunch loves to remind the world of their respective a collective humility suffering the flings and arrows of outrageous actions at the hands of TEC.

According to Orji, the vestry’s vote came after two years during which they waited for TEC to repent and for the Diocese of the Rio Grande to flee the evil Episcopal Church. He said that it was clear to them that the Diocese of the Rio Grande is not going to leave. So, the they left the diocese – or so they think.

Orji said something that gobsmacked me: he said that "the ongoing persecution of [fundamentalist] Christians by TEC is reprehensible."

This statement is from a man who respects and extols the virtues of bishops who advocate jailing, physically abusing, and killing homosexuals. Orji is is an embarrassment to the name of God.

22 October 2008

A wee prayer request

I would like to ask you to offer a prayer or two for my acquaintance Cathy. I met her and her husband, John, when I spent the summer in the United Kingdom two years ago. John was a member of the RAF and flew in the Battle of Britain. They were married for fifty-five years.

I just received an email telling me that John died three weeks ago. It gets worse. The morning of John's funeral, Neil, their only grandchild was jogging with his dog and dropped dead of a heart attack.

Please remember John and his grandson in your prayers and especially Cathy whose entire world has crashed.

Dunan the new Luther?

An article appeared in the Washington Post written by George F. Will. You’ll find it here. The article is very favourable to Robert Duncan, former bishop of the Diocese of Pittsburgh.

Will makes a number in interesting points and the article is worth a read. There are some things, though, that he doesn’t quite get correct.

The Rev. Robert Duncan, 60, is not a Lutheran, but he is a Luther, of sorts. The former Episcopal bishop of Pittsburgh has, in effect, said the words with which Martin Luther shattered Christendom and asserted the primacy of individual judgment and conscience that defines the modern temperament: " Ich kann nicht anders" -- I cannot do otherwise.

That’s close, but not exactly correct. Martin Luther asserted that his interpretation of scripture was the only interpretation possible. That is different from stating that the individual’s conscience supersedes all other opinions in defining modern temperament.

I spent three years in Lutheran Catechism. I grew up half-a block away from a Swedish Lutheran Church; I know Luther’s doctrine. Luther never said that an individual’s conscience was a factor in any theological debate. In fact, he backed up the state and helped develop Lutheranism as a state religion in Germany.

The Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh recently became the second diocese (the first was in Fresno, Calif.) to secede from the U.S. Episcopal Church since, but not entirely because of, the 2003 ordination in New Hampshire of an openly gay bishop -- Gene Robinson, a classmate of Duncan's at General Theological Seminary in New York in the 1970s. Before the Robinson controversy, other Episcopalians, from South Carolina to Southern California, had disassociated from the Episcopal Church and put themselves under the authority of conservative Anglican bishops who serve where the church is flourishing -- often in sub-Saharan Africa, where a majority of Anglicans live.

What I cannot understand is why some journalists do not “get” that a diocese cannot leave the church. The people in the diocese may leave, its bishop may leave, but the diocese does not. Certainly the journalists cannot be that ignorant of facts. But, remember, we are dealing with journalists whose main job is to get people to read their postulations. So, they have to make it the most sensationalist version of the story possible. One thousand people moving out of state is not as shocking as “Montana leaves Union” would be.

It is not the secessionists such as Duncan who are, as critics charge, obsessed with homosexuality. The Episcopal Church's leadership is latitudinarian -- tolerant to the point of incoherence, Duncan and kindred spirits think -- about clergy who deviate from traditional church teachings concerning such core doctrines as the divinity of Christ, the authority of Scripture and the path to salvation. But the national church insists on the ordination of openly gay clergy and on blessing same-sex unions.

Then why is it one cannot talk to a fundamentalist for three minutes without the subject of homosexuality being introduced. In Schofield’s PR article last week, he brought it up three times. There was no reason in that article for it to have been mentioned. The same is true for all the fundamentalists – they have to bring homosexuality into the discussion, and not just the attraction, but what the gay people “do.” I believe it was at the consecration of Bishop Robinson that someone rose to give a graphic account of same-gender male sex. I haven’t heard on TEC leader doing that.

I’m seriously beginning to believe that there is an immense amount of repressed homosexuality in the leaders of the fundamentalist movement.

Duncan became a bishop in 1995, at age 47, in an Episcopal Church already roiled by dissension about the ordination of women, revision of the prayer book and other matters. But, Duncan says, "I wish it" -- the issue that finally precipitated secession -- "had been some other issue." He means some controversy, other than Robinson's ordination, turning on scriptural authority.

But it was, Mr. Duncan; it was and is lust for power.

The shrinking Episcopal Church (2.4 million members, down from 3.5 million at its peak in 1965) is a small sliver of the worldwide Anglican communion (at least 77 million and expanding rapidly). Its travails are, Duncan says, yet another lingering echo of the 1960s.

The Anglican Communion once was a "via media," a middle way, between Catholicism and Protestantism. Now, Duncan says, the national leadership of the Episcopal Church thinks of itself as a bridge between Protestantism and the culture. Duncan and other protesters agree with the late Flannery O'Connor, the Catholic novelist: "You have to push as hard as the age that pushes against you."

Every 10 years there is a Lambeth Conference of Anglican bishops, presided over by the archbishop of Canterbury. This year only 650 of the nearly 900 bishops attended -- 150 of them representing only the tiny U.S. communion. The bishops from three of the Anglican communion's five largest provinces -- Nigeria, Uganda and Kenya -- boycotted.

That last bit isn’t true. They did attend, they just didn’t participate. They were in Lambeth continuing to plot their usurpation of the Anglican Communion. (Is usurpation a word?)

Today, the typical Anglican is a middle-aged African woman. The burgeoning Nigerian church says that it has 20 million members; Duncan believes it may have 25 million but perhaps chooses to underreport so as not to exacerbate tensions with Nigerian Muslims.

That’s true—if one lives in Africa. The typical Anglican in England is a middle-aged white woman. I don’t know what the typical Anglican in Australia is – probably a woman, though. Naturally, Duncan believes there are more Anglicans in Nigeria – the fundamentalists are experts at inflating their numbers and deflating other numbers. It’s part of their math laws.

"I think," Duncan says, "the 21st century will be for the archbishop of Canterbury what the 20th century was for the royal family." That is, an era of diminution.

Because Protestantism has no structure of authority comparable to the Vatican and because it does not merely tolerate but enjoins individual judgments by "the priesthood of all believers" concerning beliefs and obligations, all Protestants are potential Luthers. Hence it is evidence of spiritual vigor that Episcopalians in Quincy, Ill., and Fort Worth will vote on disassociation from the U.S. communion on Nov. 7 and Nov. 14, respectively.

Ah, Mr. Duncan, the Royal Family is as popular as ever. Their role has nit diminished. There is your fundamentalist math at work again.

One of the crowning glories of Anglicanism is that there is no structure of authority comparable to the Vatican. Thank God for that. The fundamentalists want that though, because they think that, if such a structure is implemented, they will be at the apex calling the shots and tell everyone else who is and is not Christian.

The Episcopal Church once was America's upper crust at prayer. Today it is "progressive" politics cloaked -- very thinly -- in piety. Episcopalians' discontents tell a cautionary tale for political as well as religious associations. As the church's doctrines have become more elastic, the church has contracted. It celebrates an "inclusiveness" that includes fewer and fewer members.

I’m not sure where Will got the “politics cloaked – very thinly – in piety.” That certainly fits the fundamentalists to a “T.” They are using political manoeuvring to get their ways and they are funded by a very political machine. It’s their modus operandi.

Their brand of false Christianity just as dangerous to the world as is just as dangerous as the fundamentalist Muslim version of Islam. Fundamentalists of any ilk want only one thing: world domination by any means possible. In the case of the GAFCONites, they want the church first and then to force their version of Christianity on the world.

So, who is George F. Will? Well, he was editor of the National Review. He is a conservative Republican who says he is an agnostic. He was a staunch supporter of Ronald Reagan and was implicated in an unethical bit of politics. He was accused of supplying a Carter “briefing book” to Reagan prior to the Reagan-Carter debate. He admitted that he had seen the book, but found it a “Crashing bore and next to useless.” He was also accused of using that book to help prepare Reagan for that debate. Years later, he had to retract a statement he made that China and Cuba were in cahoots and drilling for oil off the coast of Florida. He is a Cubs fan and has written a couple of best selling books on baseball. One thing is sure, he knows how to turn a phrase.

It is easy to see his bias on the subject of the Duncan article. But no one is without bias, especially those who say they are not biased. Some of us are just up-front about it.

20 October 2008

Let your light so shine . . .

Yesterday at the “church job,” there was a guest speaker. The church had hosted a “harvest weekend” to coincide with the local wine festival. The church was decorated with a thanksgiving theme, though, not a vine theme. I thought that rather interesting. But the post today isn’t to criticize the decorations which were really spectacular.

He chose as the gospel the bit in Matthew that tells us to be salt to the word and not to hide our lights.

He didn’t spend any time on the salt bit, but he talked about twenty-five minutes about the light bit. And his focus was on how light spills forth. It was an excellent talk. It was a series of funny stories, mostly, connected by his comments.

He told two stores that moved me a lot. The first was about an old man. The man’s mother had gotten “in the family way” and refused to leave town to have the “emergency appendectomy” that required nine months of recovery with relatives in a far-away town.

The son born grew up being constantly reminded that he was illegitimate and as much an outcast as his mother was. They didn’t attend church because no one wanted them in “their” church. When the boy was about eleven years old, a new minister came to one of the churches. The mother liked this man so they began to attend his church. They would arrive late and leave early so that no one would have the opportunity to “remind” them.

Then one Sunday, they didn’t escape in time. The minister, standing at the door, looked at the boy and said, “I don’t think I’ve met you before; who’s your father, son?”

The boy began to cry – even at church he had to be reminded that he didn’t have a father.

The minister, figured out the situation, having been told about the two, or by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, put his hands on the boy’s shoulders and said,

You know, the more I look at you, the more I see that you look like your father. In fact, you’re the spitting image of your father. I can see God all over your face.”

That statement irrevocably changed the boy’s life. He said that whenever he was ridiculed, he just remembered that he looked like his dad. That boy, who was “never going to amount to anything”, grew up to be a two-time governor of Tennessee and state senator.

The other story that moved me so much involved a little girl, Caroline Kennedy. As she sat in the limousine following her mother and uncles, walking down the Washington DC Avenue to St. Matthew’s Cathedral for the Requiem Mass of her father, she felt all alone. Her little brother and their nanny were in the limo, too, but they were of no comfort to her. But walking beside the door was a secret service agent whom Caroline really liked. She rolled down the window and put her hand out. The agent, Robert W. Foster, reached over and took her hand. He held it all the way down the avenue to the church.

It was against FBI/CIA policy that mandated an agent’s hands must be “free” at all times. But Mr. Foster, who was severely reprimanded but not fired, said at that moment, holding that little hand reaching out to him was more important than anything else. (Mr. Foster died 20 June 2008.)

The speaker concluded that story and his talk with these words, “it is in the little things that our light shines – a kind word to someone in pain; holding the hand of someone who needs their hand held. That’s when our light shines—spills out brightestIt’s not the big things, it’s the little things.”

And to that, I can add “amen.”