22 November 2008

Where were you?

I was sitting in Mrs. Cooper's class. She was handing out paper for a spelling test when Mr. Paxton made the announcement via the school intercom system. The emotion of that day has stayed with me though all these years. I can even smell the classroom that day. Thanks to Fred for reminding me that I should post this clip.

21 November 2008

GAFCON loses a round in the UK

It is really a daunting decision each morning, or every other morning, to decide what is worth a post at TTLS. I usually spend an hour or so searching the web for the latest shenanigans of the religious right wing who have, to some degree, supplanted historic, orthodox Anglicanism. Today was an exception: As soon as I read the Church Times online, I knew what I wanted to bring to your attention.

In today's Church Times (issue 7601, 21 November 2008 -- remember it is Saturday in the United Kingdom), a wee article appeared that deserves a read.

The National Evangelical Anglican Consultation (NEAC5) has closed its conference, but there was no unity or warm, fuzzy feelings all around when the last "amen" was said. Instead there was
[A]crimony .. amid accusations of a hijack by hard-line conservatives and of bullying and manipulation by the chairman of the Church of England Evangelical Council, the Rev'd Dr. Richard Turnbull, Principal of Wycliffe Hall.
It behooves us to remember that Wycliffe Hall is a hotbed, if not the centre of extreme right wing religious thought and over the years, we've heard from them numerous times. It was Wycliffe Hall that intimidated the Archbishop of Canterbury into withdrawing his support of Jeffrey Johns to be a bishop in Oxford.

In fact, parallels have been drawn between Turnballs actions at the conference and his behaviour as principal of Wycliffe where he was taken to an employment tribunal.

According to the article, when the delegates returned from their luncheon break, they found, on their chairs, a resolution calling for NEAC to support the GAFCON actions. The resolution was not on the agenda and there had been no mention of it in the morning session. A note attached to the resolution said there would be no amendments allowed to the resolution. Basically, it was "rubber stamp this, as is."

Apparently, Turnball would listen to no reason or advice from the convener of the Anglican Mainstream (Dr. Phillip Giddings) or Canon Michael Saward who both told him to withdraw the resolution.

Now comes the most delicious statement in the whole article":
He described Dr Turnbull as having been “publicly humiliated”, and GAFCON as having been made to look like “a bullying, manipu­lative movement”. A procedural motion brought by Philip Love­grove, a veteran of the General Synod, called for a move to next business. That motion was carried by 123 votes to 104. [Emphasis added]
Oh, come now! GAFCON bullying? GAFCON manipulative? Say it ain't so!
The Rev'd Dr Ian Paul, Dean of Studies at St John’s College, Nottingham, and a former member of the CEEC council, described the procedural vote as “the only way many of us felt we could say, ‘Please stop bullying us, stop pushing us around, and stop telling us what we must believe, without debate, to avoid being label­led unsound by you.’” [Emphasis added]
The CEEC is the Church of England Evangelical Council.

Whatever the personal feelings of the delegates towards GAFCON when they arrived at the conference, they left with a sour taste in their collective mouth.

Another delightfully delicious statement came from the Rt. Rev'd Mr. Broadbent (an odd name for a person who does not believe women should be ordained nor equal rights for all members of the church):
GAFCON is asking the right questions — about what holds us together — but the theological and ecclesial answers it provides are not adequate to secure acceptance on the part of all Evangelical Angli­cans.

[...] Can we hold off from associating [...] with one parti­cu­lar strand in the continuing Angli­can Communion debate? I per­sonally don’t want us to do anything that ties us in to one approach to these matters, which is what voting in favour of the Jerusalem Dec­la­ration would do.
At least he recognizes GAFCON for what it is, a dictatorship of egotistical men. And, speaking of men, another statement is very telling about the NEAC and GAFCON.
Dr Christina Baxter, who chairs the House of Laity of the General Synod, expressed her concern that the meeting had been, in the main, elderly, male, and white. Speaking on Tuesday, she said: “I am concerned that when Evangelicals come together, they represent the broad spectrum in terms of people groups
And there you have it. But perhaps the best comment of all came when Turnball told the meeting that, since they had not voted to join up with the GAFCONers, the decision would be made on their behalf , Mr. Curtis said "Which planet are you on?"

I think that comment applies to the whole lot of fundamentalists in the Anglican Communion.

The Church Times is a subscription only site. If you would like to read the entire article but cannot access the url, let me know you want the whole article.

20 November 2008

A day to remember Transgender deaths

In our society, most people "get" gay and lesbian attraction. They even understand bisexual attraction. They may disagree with it on biblical grounds or even biological grounds, but they "sort of" understand it.

There is one issue that completely confuses them and they cannot understand it -- transgender. If the GLB community feels discrimination, it is nothing compared to what the transgender community experiences, in my opinion.

Did you know 20 November is the annual day of remembrance for all who have died because of gender identity? I did not know about this until a few minutes ago.

Chris Paige, publisher of TransFaith online write the following:

The Transgender Day of Remembrance (November 20, 2008) is set aside to remember those lost to anti-transgender violence in the last year.

Much of this violence is fueled by a sentiment that it is tacitly and explicitly reinforced by narrow understandings of gender, as well as outright transphobia and homophobia expressed in the name of a Christian God. Too many of us have no only heard "God condemns you" -- but also "It would be better if you were dead."

It is a profound and important step for every faith community to join in a resounding chorus that condemns all forms of violence against people who are differently gendred.

- By vocally condemning anti-trans bullying, harassment and hate crimes, we begin to chip away at the self-righteous fuel that feeds those who believe they are doing God's will by punishing the differently gendered.

- By loudly proclaiming that people of all genders are beloved, we begin to address the rampant rate of depression and suicide among transgender youth and adults that so often encouraged by religious judgement.

- BY reaching out in love to the transgender community, we begin to undermine the isolation and low self-esteem that can under grid substance abuse and high-risk behaviours (which inform high rates of HIV and AIDS).

Beyond the hate and judgement, trans people's lives are at risk because we so often struggle to meet our most fundamental needs such as safe employment and basic health care. Faith communities need to be out in front of such justice issues as well.

So, this year, let us (re)commit ourselves to the work of speaking up and speaking out, to the work of educating ourselves and educating others, to the work of reaching out in love.
That is very well said, Chris! I must admit that I must better educate myself regarding transgender issues.

I also found a good little blog - check it out -- TransEpiscopal.

18 November 2008

Schismatic propeganda and the Washington Times

A piece of "journalistic" propaganda appeared in the Tuesday, 18 November Washington Times. Julia Duin, reported what she was told, (filtered though her particular brand of "Christian belief") and conducted no research whatsoever. Even cursory research would uncover the factual errors.

Leaders of 100,000 disaffected former Episcopalians will unveil a proposed constitution for a new 39th province of the Anglican Communion at a Dec. 3 ceremony at the evangelical Wheaton College in west Chicago.

The new province, which will contain significant portions of four breakaway Episcopal dioceses plus about two dozen churches in Northern Virginia, will be launched in early 2009.

"This is a huge step," said Anglican Bishop Martyn Minns, one of the leaders who will sign the constitution as the head of the Convocation of Anglicans in North America.

"The constitution will create a new Anglican church in North America that will have all the necessary features to be recognized as a province," said Robert Lundy, a spokesman for the American Anglican Council, one of the constitution's signatory groups. "Then it'll be out of our hands."

The reporter does not understand what makes something "Anglican." It is not vestments an prayerbook, no women or gays, thank you very much. It takes official recognition from the See of Canterbury. That is not going to happen unless ++Williams has gone completely insane.

It will
not be the 39th province of the Anglican Communion. It will be a schismatic faith community, not Anglican except in the imagination of their hearts.

Also, Minns is
is not and Anglican bishop. He is a self-styled Anglican bishop. He has no recognition from the See of Canterbury and therefore, is not Anglican. There is a world of difference between Anglican and self-styled Anglican.

"The constitution will create a new Anglican church in North America that will have all the necessary features to be recognized as a province," said Robert Lundy, a spokesman for the American Anglican Council, one of the constitution's signatory groups. "Then it'll be out of our hands."

At least seven Anglican bishops - mainly Africans - are expected to recognize the new province immediately as having equal standing with the U.S. Episcopal Church, currently the only Anglican body in North America recognized by Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams.

But conservatives declared at a Global Anglican Future conference (GAFCON) in Jerusalem in June that the recognition of a new province may be irrelevant.

"We do not accept that Anglican identity is determined necessarily through recognition by the Archbishop of Canterbury," the conservatives' statement said.

Again, there will be no new Anglican Church. There has never been an Anglican Church nor will there ever be an Anglican Church except in England.

They are the only people in the world who don't accept what it takes to be Anglican. These schismatics are constantly talking about "the faith once delivered" and breaking the tradition and yet they have decided not to accept the tradition of that same church.

Recognition by significant numbers of the world's 38 Anglican primates or archbishops could happen as early as February, when the primates will have their annual meeting in Alexandria, Egypt.

Seven GAFCON primates, representing more than half of the 77-million-member Anglican Communion, indicated in June they will recognize the new province. Another five have joined them since then, Bishop Minns said.

This remains to be seen, of course. We are certain the Calvinist Roundhead bishops will recognize the non existent community, but I'm not sure a "significant" number of Primates will do so.

I believe the primates will be cautious. They have seen the tactics of the schismatics -- that they will do anything to obtain their lust for power -- and I think that is going to be the reason "most of" the primates will not give recognition. If the schismatics will and can do what they've done in the United States, why should anyone think their own province is safe? Today the United States, tomorrow the whole Anglican Communion. That is the ultimate goal of these fundamentalists. I cannot see the primates aiding and abetting something they wish would just go away.

Also, simply because a Primate recognizes something doesn't mean the province does. We keep hearing about the "vast majority of Anglicans" this, and that, but what these people really mean is, "some of the primates representing provinces where the vast majority of the Anglicans are."

Copies of the constitution will be handed out at the Chicago meeting. Bishop Minns said the member groups have reached a tentative agreement on ordaining women as priests, which some of the member groups oppose.

"We are working within the integrity of both views and respecting them and saying that's where the church is right now," he said.

The province likely will be headed by Bishop Duncan, head of Common Cause Partnership, the current name of the conservative network. He met Oct. 15 with Archbishop Williams, who instructed the Pittsburgh bishop to submit an application for the new province.

I really had to laugh when I read the word "integrity" used in a statement by Minns. That is really, really funny.

I agree that Mr. Duncan will be the leader of this schismatic community. He's plotted and planned for this moment for years like a soprano plans, plots, back stabs, and claws her way to the top.

The Canterbury archbishop is in a tough spot no matter what he does, Bishop Minns said.

"If he recognizes us, he will incur the wrath of [the Episcopal Church] and if he does not, he will incur the wrath of other people," he said.

Notice the insult Minny delivers to ++Rowan. He is not "The Archbishop of Canterbury" but "The Canterbury archbishop." Minns knows the title and its correct usage, yet he chose not to use it. This is the same guy who constantly refers to The Most Rev'd Katharine Jefferts Schori as "Mrs. Schori." But what should we expected from someone "low." Mr. Minnie Mouse, look that word up in a really good British English dictionary.

One would think that to rise to a reporter position with the Washington Times, one should have
successfully passed Journalism 101 where they teach, "Avoid being manipulated by your source." But, she is a self-described born-again evangelical and they are notorious for propaganda. Just look at the Prop 8 campaign in California. The article just proves again that truth, facts and evangelicals (of any brand) are mutually exclusive of one another.


We have an update from Fran regarding Tim's illness.

17 November 2008

Ft Worth and Iker's tangled web of deceit


"Oh, what a tangled web we weave when practice others to deceive."

It appears that Bisohp Iker, has or is about to have, a huge chunk of his gluteus maximus chewed off, and he has only his own greed to thank.

Reports are that certain affidavits have turned up from a court case in the mid 1990s when at Ft. Worth parish, The Church of Holy Apostles attempted to withdraw from the diocese and keep the property.

The truly ironic bit of all of this is that the affidavits have been in print for all the diocese to read for a long time. They are actually published in the diocesan handbook for vestries. When a reader emailed me a couple of weeks ago with the excerpts in question, I was really gobsmacked. The handbook is fascinating reading.

In one affidavit, Bishop Watland states:
Under both the diocesan and national canons, even if title had been held in the [parish], the property is imposed with an expressed trust in favor of the diocese, with the property to be for the use of an Episcopalian congregation ... [and] ... it is therefore my opinion as an expert in canon law, that the Defendants have no valid claim to the property whatsoever." [Emphasis added]
Can I have an "ouch!" The Iker/Watland affidavits also state that the property is held in trust for the diocese and the national church.

Now, Iker and his band of deluded priest and laity, say the property belongs to the diocese and has never been held in trust for the National Church, and therefore, by stroke of the pen, it's theirs.

Now you understand why +Iker has been so vocal about his schismatic group being "the Episcopal Diocese." At his convention address Saturday, he repeatedly stated that they would continue to be "the Episcopal Diocese." He has deluded himself into believing the courts will not understand the difference between his group and the Episcopal Church.

Additionally, the affidavits state that the diocese of Ft. Worth submitted itself to the C&C of the Episcopal Church, including the Dennis Canon (and that is the smoking gun, folks).

What makes these affidavits so tragically painful is that Iker and the schismatics in Ft. Worth hold Watland in such esteem that he is their patron saint.

My question is, was Iker deceiving the court back in the 1990s, or is he deceiving the diocese now? If the former then, perhaps perjury charges can be filed. If the latter, he has no claim to the property or monetary assets and his own words convict him. Either way his own web has captured him, zuchetto and crozier.

But, there might just be another explanation. Could it be that as far back as the mid 1990s, Iker was preparing his strategy and that's why they said "Episcopalian Congregation?" If they were banking on the court being unable to understand the difference between Episcopal and Episcopalian, the bishops will be surprised that the courts aren't obtuse.

I will say it again, why would anyone want to enter into an ecclesiastical relationship of any type with people with such moral turpitude?

Power makes for mighty strange bedfellows as we saw in in the California propositions. There is an old saying, that some child messed up and made better: "When you lie down with dogs, you get up stinking." When Duncan announces his archbishopric of the new province, the first week of December, they will already need air freshener and flee collars.

I wanted to publish the information last week, but the "my source" asked me to keep the information confidential until the remaining Episcopalians could line up some ducks and Iker actually allowed the vote to proceed. Thanks to The Grapevine and Fr. Scott, you may read reproductions of the excerpts in question. You will also find the the whole handbook here. I recommend that you read the whole handbook.

I've added a couple of photos to the Mt. Calvary story -- please check them out and remember to pray for the brothers and all the other fire victims who have lost everything. Additional photos (before and after) may be viewed here.

Don't forget the new PBS documentary

This is just a reminder post that on the 18th, PBS will be airing a great documentary. You'll find my post about here. The programme has angered the fundamentalists, so it must be pretty good.

16 November 2008

Evensong for Pentectost XXVII

Evensong from the BBC comes from Hereford Cathedral. If your musical tastes runs for the "modern," then this is the Evensong for you. The canticles are the "Hereford Canticles" composed by Herbert Howells for Canterbury Cathedral in 1966 (Okay, perhaps 'modern' is the wrong term!). It's all too modern for me (music died in 1750 as far as I'm concerned), but the choir is excellent and you really should hear this service.

But, like this transitory life, if one just "endures to the end," one will be rewarded. In this case with Bach's Fantasia and Fugue in C minor, BWV 537 for the postlude. Trust me, folks, there is nothing like a JSB fugue! When I enter the eternity, Bach better be playing a fugue.

Hereford is unique in that it is one of the few cathedrals in the world that have never been monastic. Hereford was never associated with any religious order and its chapter has always been secular priests. They employed the Vicars Choral, a body of clergy who lived a collegiate life in the Vicars Cloister, to sing the daily cathedral services for them.

Although there has been a place of worship on the site occupied by the cathedral, nothing of those churches remain. The oldest part of the cathedral, the Bishop's Chapel, dates from the early 11th century. The cathedral is dedicated to St. Elhelbert (who was buried in the cathedral and is in my genealogy, not that anyone cares much anymore) and The Blessed Virgin Mary.

In the cathedral are housed is one of the oldest maps in the world (Mappa Mundi) and one of the four surviving copies of the Magna Carta. I have to say that standing there and looking at the Magna Carta, in a building dedicated to the worship of Christ in the 11th Century, I was overcome with the historical significance of that document. Both make Turo and Falls Church's claim of antiquity null and void.

For those of you on dial up and unable to listen to the BBC's Evensong, the postlude is below courtesy of You Tube. God bless You Tube, too!

Pentecost XXVII

Judges 4:1-7, Psalm 123; or Zephaniah 1:7, 12-18; Psalm 90:1-8, (9-11), 12; 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11; Matthew 25:14-30

Jesus was good at providing difficult stories. No doubt they were as hard to hear standing in a group in Palestine as they are from our pews today. If we have sympathy for anyone in today's gospel reading, it is probably for the poor person who was deprived of the gift once given, just because he was shy, or reserved, or cautious.

We'll leave aside the whole matter of being cast into the eternal rubbish dump and all the wailing and teeth gnashing.

And surely Jesus is not telling us that our friend who has put extra cash under the mattress is worse off than those of us who are watching our pension funds decrease in the stock market?

Certainly in Jesus' day a “talent” was a significantly valued coin. Nevertheless, we should forget that piece of information immediately. Nowadays a “talent” is an ability. Martha has a talent for painting. John is a talented musician. We should also forget that definition immediately. Jesus isn't talking about wealth in terms of cash or natural ability.

Jesus is talking about vocation and the grace given when we accept and enter into a covenant with God. To a new Christian listening to this gospel in, shall we say, Rome in about the year 85, what would immediately strike home would be the meaning of baptism and the task set before the baptized.

To early Christians at that time, baptism was not merely a church rite, something done to little Willy and Jane to which friends may be invited who never darken the porch of our church except when friends are hatched, matched, or dispatched. Far from it. Those Christians were giving their lives for God. In times of relative tranquility they probably just lost their jobs, their reputations, and even their families by becoming Christians. During turbulent times they faced arrest and execution.

Nowadays in America we may be baptized without exciting much comment at all. Unless we belong to a parish facing extinction or financial ruin, or unless we take seriously the statistics about declining membership and revenue in the diocese or national church, the cost of being a Christian and an Episcopalian may seem minimal.

We may bemoan the feuding, fussing, and fighting we witness in our church and wish people would be quiet; but apart from that, our pew is safe, and we are safe, and perhaps our willingness to sing those dreary hymns and jumpy songs and say all those prayers God seems to like may get us a seat in heaven.

If you are honestly not too uncomfortable about this last thought, this parable is for you. Prepare for Jesus to make you uncomfortable. He has a way of doing that.

When we were baptized, we were tasked to be witnesses of the Kingdom which is and which is to come. The word “witness” in Greek is the same as our word “martyr.” That's a bit confusing for us, because the chance of our being martyred and landing up in the Church Calendar or depicted in a stained-glass window is pretty slim. Life-giving doesn't always mean dying. Those of us who are married have promised to give our lives to each other. Close friends take seriously Jesus' words that there is no greater sign of love than to be prepared to surrender everything for the beloved.

The gift of discipleship given to us in our baptism involves our being prepared to be life-givers for Jesus. We are being asked by Jesus to give ourselves up in selfless love for God and selfless love for everyone else and for this world in which we are stewards.

The fault of the person who did not use the gift he was given was that he was entirely passive. That person was so frightened that he would lose what he had been given that he was paralyzed by an awful fear.

You may be thinking that passivity and fear are opposites. Not so. There's a type of fear that is tranquil. There's safety in inertia.

Those of us who are inert Christians may even piously mutter that we do pray. Prayer is very dangerous. True prayer propels us into the heart of God and incites us to take on the pains and tragedies of others. "God bless God, and God bless Freda ..." doesn't get us very far. When we risk stepping into the penetrating love of God and into the misery of our neighbor, we step into danger, if only the danger of doing something for others and thus exposing ourselves to rejection or loss.

Episcopalians seem paralyzed by the Biblical word “evangelism.” We are prepared to inflict our politics and even our recipes on others, but not our faith. We come up with all sorts of excuses to justify our apathy or take cover under the cloak of not being a fundamentalist.

We act as if it's unfortunate that Jesus commanded us to go into the world and proclaim the Good News. We don't want to admit that our own Christian faith rests on generations of people who have passed on the Gospel.

Of course we are not to force our faith on others. Of course we are not to say that we are going to heaven and they are going to hell. That is God's business.

Yet we have been given the grace to witness the faith within us to others, and that may be in giving instruction or providing shelter, and hopefully, by telling and showing the love of Jesus at one and the same time.

Each one of us in our baptism was given a wealth of love and an intimate experience of the presence of God. We renew that gift at each Eucharist, as we receive Jesus into our lives and join with the hosts of heaven in worship and thanksgiving.

As we embrace the world in the Prayers of the People, we commit ourselves to embrace that same world in our daily life and work, at school, at business, and with our neighbors next door.

The warning that the gift may be taken back flies against our popular notion of God. Surely God wouldn't be so mean. But the warning comes from Jesus, so it is worth taking seriously.

Perhaps when we come to the Table this morning, we might offer a simple prayer: “Lord give me the will to be faithful and active.” Jesus will tell you what he wants you to do.

-- Fr. Tony Clavier is rector of St. Paul's Episcopal Church, La Porte, Indiana, in the Diocese of Northern Indiana. He is also dean of the Michigan City deanery. His email address is anthony.clavier@gmail.com.