Thursday, November 30, 2006

Do you think they were watching old Vicar of Dibley reruns and thought, "Hey!"

The ACN Responds to TEC Proposal: "This is obviously not what was asked for," says Network Moderator Bishop Duncan.

TEC “Response” Falls Short

Pittsburgh, PA – The Episcopal News Service today released a proposal responding to the request by seven Episcopal dioceses for Alternative Primatial Oversight (APO). It suggests that a “primatial vicar” be appointed by Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori to serve as her “designated pastor in such dioceses.” The “primatial vicar” would be accountable to Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori and perform those functions she chooses to delegate, such as episcopal ordinations.

“We are heartened that the national leadership of The Episcopal Church has realized the time has come for structural change. We will study this proposal,” said Bishop Robert Duncan, bishop of Pittsburgh and moderator of the Anglican Communion Network. “However, at first glance what is proposed is neither primatial, nor oversight, nor is it an alternative to the spiritual authority of one who, by both teaching and action, has expressly rejected the Windsor Report and its recommendations. This is obviously not what was asked for.” Bishop Duncan also observed that what is proposed is in fact less than what was offered and rejected at the first meeting held in New York during September.


Bishop Duncan reiterated his commitment to find a mediated solution to the crisis in The Episcopal Church. “We really do want to talk about all the issues. We want to protect everyone who is unable to travel down the path the majority of The Episcopal Church has clearly chosen, not just those in dioceses that have requested APO. We want to have this conversation and find a way forward that allows all of us to get on with our mission. We are committed to remaining in the mainstream of the Anglican Communion as we proclaim the faith once delivered to the saints,” he said.

"Someone get John Cleese on the phone!" Episcopal Church Blows off APO Request - dreams up "Primatial Vicar" to save the day

Let's see, as I remember it the September meeting fell apart, with all the parties not agreeing and walking into the night. The Old PB and the New PB went north, the ACC reps went east, the Network and Windsor reps went west and the whole deal went south.

Now suddenly the New PB has a new plan (click on headline above and see how very much it is The Old Plan). But no one who would be affected by the plan was actually at the meeting. This is like holding peace talks for the Palestinians and Israel and only the Palestinians show up. That's not a meeting, that's a rally.

So in the meantime, the New PB is practicing one of the most amazing media gymnastics yet to be seen on this side of the planet. The "ENS" press releases are turning into a circus - step right up, get your popcorn and cotton candy and see the big show!

Only no one is there.

NOTE: You gotta love the term "The Primatial Vicar." It sounds like something out of Monty Python. In fact, wasn't that a bit in Monty Python? Someone get Saturday Night Live on the phone. This is just too good to pass up.

Amazing Love


I’m forgiven because You were forsaken
I’m accepted, You were condemned
I’m alive and well, Your Spirit is within me
Because You died and rose again

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

John Newton's Letter on His Conversion

BB NOTE: John Newton, the former slave dealer on an English ship who became a devoted Christian, abandoning his old horrific ways to become an Anglican clergyman who had a major impact on William Wilberforce, wrote this letter in 1763 on his conversion to Christ. You can click on the headline above to read the entire letter. But it came to mind today as I got into a dicussion about when do we associate - or not associate - with those who hold views we find abominable. I am of the mind that Jesus is always near, in the power of the Holy Spirit, to redeem any of us in moment's notice. When do I shut the door on a non-believer or one who has shut their eyes to God? I ask myself in the case of the Episcopal Church, but also with politicians who seek office and glory and will associate even with Christian leaders for personal benefit. How do we know this to so? How do we know those moments belong to the Lord, when He is the one who is inviting, the one seeking, the one calling the sinner to come home? The Lord called John Newton, right from the sea, right from the depths of his most henius sin.

Here Newton draws a picture here in the opening of his letter of the voyage and the "number of vessels, at different times, and from different places, bound to the same port..." What makes Newton different from what we deal with today is that indeed, the port is agreed to be the same, where that is no longer the case today. The port is the harbor of Jesus Christ, the Lord and our Redeemer, the Way, the Truth, and the Life - the only port we may call home. But here we have this image of the ships at sea, all entering the port through different voyages, different journeys, but all arriving at their port of call. May it be so for us today - whether we set sail from a dstant land or return home, whether we are all ready out on the seas or only now setting out. But along the way, may we be ready for the sudden conversion, the sudden call that one that we were sure was lost, has been found - the one who was so blind, but now can see.

bb

January 20, 1763.

LETTER X

Dear Sir,

My connections with sea-affairs have often led me to think, that the varieties observable in Christian experience may be properly illustrated from the circumstances of a voyage. Imagine to yourself a number of vessels, at different times, and from different places, bound to the same port; there are some things in which all these would agree,---the compass steered by, the port in view, the general rules of navigation, both as to the management of the vessel, and determining their astronomical observation, would be the same in all.

In other respects they would differ: perhaps no two of them would meet with the same distribution of wind and weather. Some we see set out with a prosperous gale; and when they almost think their passage secured, they are checked by adverse blasts; and after enduring much hardship and danger; and frequent expectations of shipwreck, they just escape, and reach the desired haven. Others meet the greatest difficulties at first; they put forth in a storm, and are often beaten back; at length their voyage proves favorable, and they enter the port with a PLEROPHORIA, a rich and abundant entrance. Some are hard beset with cruisers and enemies, and obliged to fight their way through; others meet with little remarkable in their passage. Is it not thus in the spiritual life?

All true believers walk by the same rule, and mind the same things: The word of God is their compass; Jesus is both their polar star and their sun of righteousness; their hearts and faces are all set Zion-ward. Thus far they are as one body, animated by one spirit, yet their experience, formed upon these common principles, is far from being uniform. The Lord, in his first call, and his following dispensations, has a regard to the situation, temper, talents of each, and to the particular services or trials he has appointed them for. Though all are exercised at times, yet some pass through the voyage of life much more smoothly than others.

But he “who walketh upon the wings of the wind, and measures the waters in the hollow of his hand, will not suffer any of whom he has once taken charge, to perish in the storms, though for a season, perhaps, many of them are ready to give up all hopes.

We must not therefore make the experience of others, in all respects, a rule to ourselves, nor our own a rule to others; yet these are common mistakes, and productive of many more.

John Newton


John Newton is immortalized as the author of the hymn Amazing Grace.

Monday, November 27, 2006

George Carey: "I Support Rowan"

NOTE FROM BB: From the London Telegraph. I knew that the Telegraph reporters who are reporting that Rowan's days are numbered are quite mistaken. And again, I ask the question - who would greatly benefit from a fast exit (stage left or right) of the current Archbishop of Canterbur? Of course, it would be his most-severe of critics, the progressive activists who thought they had a henchman in place only to discover he's the real deal, a true classical liberal. Turns out evangelicals are not so "fundie" as the progressives thought (where have they been these last twenty years?), but far more "classically liberal" (and those of who are Wesleyan Arminianists, this is particuarly true). The reports of Rowan's demise are rather premature - and perhaps wishful thinking. NOTE TO TELEGRAPH: Check your sources and ask why these reports are not finding their way into the Guardian. And keep your wits about you.

I support Rowan: we are working together

By George Carey

The Archbishop of Canterbury's visit to the Vatican last week was a timely reminder to Anglicans that we don't expect our leaders to be infallible and neither do we want them to be.

Anglicans have moaned about and criticised their archbishops, aided and abetted by national newspaper commentators, for as long as I can remember. For at least the past two decades, successive new Archbishops of Canterbury have been welcomed as a breath of fresh air, contrasted favourably with their predecessors for a short honeymoon period until familiarity sets in and people begin to long nostalgically for a cherished past or an impossibly utopian future.

The same commentators who are now suggesting prematurely that Rowan Williams's days are numbered said the same about me when I was in office. Those who accused Robert Runcie of interfering in my ministry in an unprecedented way are now criticising me.

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The contrast with the Roman Catholic Church is persuasive. Whereas popes do not retire, the age limit for Anglican bishops and archbishops is 70. The trend to retire around the age of 65 on the part of Anglican clergy is increasing. That means the old convention that they retire to a life of beekeeping, train-spotting or boredom can no longer hold true.

It is a theological point that no one retires from Christian ministry. Once a priest always a priest. So retired Anglican leaders never stop preaching and presiding at Holy Communion and helping out when they're needed. The only really substantial accusation of interfering with my successor's ministry that has been levelled against me is that I have taken up an invitation from the Bishop of Virginia to confirm adults. Yet, like all retired bishops, I have conducted these confirmations with the proper permissions and the full knowledge of Lambeth Palace.

Furthermore, I have communicated regularly with Lambeth, met the archbishop and taken his advice, and have cancelled meetings at some considerable personal cost in order to further his ministry in the Anglican Communion.

It is therefore completely untrue to claim that I am undermining or working against my successor. He has my support and my prayers during a very difficult period in the life of the Anglican Church.

Like all retired people, erstwhile Anglican leaders develop new interests, volunteer their time, and continue to use the skills they've developed over a lifetime. The problem of what to do with retired archbishops has never been resolved. Dr Williams, for example, is still in his mid-50s and could be a relatively young and energetic man in his 60s when he hands over the keys of Lambeth Palace. If he re-enters the academic world, will his every utterance on theological matters have to pass the test of loyalty to his successor under the scrutiny of a media who too often see the Church through the lens of a more familiar political world?

The fact is that, just as Anglican leadership is different from that of the Roman Catholic Church, all Christian ministry is distinct from political leadership. The strong man or woman needed in the political world contrasts powerfully with the role of Church leaders to be servants to the people of God. Bishops symbolise this powerfully through the washing of the feet on Maundy Thursday to follow the example of Jesus.

Perhaps more than in any other Church, heading up the Church of England is not primarily about strong leadership, in a political sense that brooks no doubt or questions, but about giving space for the entire breadth and comprehensiveness of the Church to be heard. Each archbishop is charged with presiding over its unity by presiding over what some think is chaos. And while they preside they also give some shape to its priorities.

For Robert Runcie, the hallmark of his ministry was to give voice to the poor in a period when Britain was emerging from a period of high unemployment and inflation. When I succeeded him, it fell to me to carry through the ordination of women, confront a major internal financial crisis, and to renew interfaith dialogue under the shadow of 9/11. Rowan Williams's great challenges will be to carry this forward, after the 7/7 bombings in London last year, and to confront the Anglican Communion's greatest internal tension — homosexual priests.

Yet standing side-by-side with the Pope, the major task of the new generation of Christian leaders together is to defend Europe's Christian heritage against the rampages of a particularly zealous and unpleasant form of secularism. Rowan, Archbishop of Canterbury, and Pope Benedict are both strong leaders and servants of Europe in this struggle.

The Archbishops of Canterbury and York have already been joined by most Christian people in their despair over the attitude of British Airways to the wearing of a small cross by one of its employees. Everyone in public ministry knows that this is merely the thin end of the wedge. Secularists are clearly determined to do away with religious schools, even though the entire education system of this country was founded upon them.

As we approach Christmas, we will all continue to count the number of "Happy Holiday" cards we receive. The encroachments upon the Nativity become a more serious issue year-on-year. The annual rash of "winterval" stories in the press about local authorities that ban Christmas lights, or schools that deem nativity plays to be politically incorrect, merely highlights the problems.

This country is in danger of losing sight of its Christian heritage. One of the most telling recent cases is the action taken by student unions against Christian organisations on university campuses. I was among those who earlier this year spoke in Parliament and voted against a proposed law that would exempt religion from free speech. Yet, I am beginning to wonder whether the principle of free speech can even be preserved on university campuses. In the past, I have been a frequent speaker at Christian Union meetings in many leading universities. I am appalled, along with many others, by the withdrawal of privileges by some student groups from Christian Unions.

Are we beginning to see the menace of censorship and political correctness in the very places where we expect liberality and generosity?

What I can warn authorities is that this will not weaken Christian Unions, or Christian leadership in this land, but will make us more determined to stand out – in complete unity.

Lord Carey is the retired Archbishop of Canterbury.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Just when you heard it all - laptop flies through air during recent Dylan concert

Life is rather serious right now, so when we came across this true story (click on the headline above) of someone's laptop that went flying during a recent Bob Dylan concert, it was so incredible we just had to share. Note to self: No matter how tough it gets, let the pigs fly, not the laptop.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Dylan finishes "Modern Times" Tour for 2006

I know, I know - I still have to finish my review of the Dylan concert last week. Events have taken over in recent days, but it really is coming soon. In the meantime, came across this live version of "Ain't Talkin" from his final show in New York City for 2006. Click on the headline above. It's awesome. This by a man who still has the fire - and the lyrics are out of this world.

Tip of the Tinfoil Hat to RWB.

bb

The sufferin' is unending
Every nook and cranny has its tears
I'm not playing, I'm not pretending
I'm not nursin' any superfluous fears

Ain't talkin', just walkin'
Walkin' ever since the other night.
Heart burnin', still yearnin'
Walkin' 'til I'm clean out of sight.

As I walked out in the mystic garden
On a hot summer day, a hot summer lawn
Excuse me, ma'am, I beg your pardon
There's no one here, the gardener is gone

Ain't talkin', just walkin'
Up the road, around the bend.
Heart burnin', still yearnin'
In the last outback at the world's end.


From "Ain't Talkin'" by Bob Dylan, 2006

Friday, November 24, 2006

Don't bury your talent: Great "digital teaching" from Jay Slocum

The Rev. Jay Slocum is an Assistant at Church of the Cross, Buckwalter Parkway Campus, Bluffton, in the Diocese of South Carolina. For more info, drop by one of Jay's cool blogs: Reformed Anglican.

Diocese of Washington Joins New PB in Writing Public "Open Letters" - Question: Who are they really aimed at?

Do we think we see a pattern developing (click headline above)? What should we say about all these "public" personal letters being released by the new PB to some of the global south primates, or the new PB to the bishop of San Joaquin, or the Diocese of Washington to the Archbishop of Canterbury, or the political activists to the TEC Standing Committees assenting to the election of the new bishop of South Carolina? Do we see a pattern here in an attempt for media control - that somehow by releasing all these personal letters (or what should be personal letters) publicly before they've even been delivered and read by the recipients they are seeking to apply power over the media message?

The problem is - the method is such bad form. It is improper and rude. It shows us more about the intent of the sender than it does the recipient. It tells us that all these folks have no intention of seeking reconciliation. It posturing and it isn't working. The problem is that it's an American-activist way of doing politics - but it's not Anglican. In fact, it's bad manners and anyone who deals with diplomatic matters knows that the worse thing to show while engaging in diplomacy is to have bad manners. You can have the most outrageous requests for action, but if you show bad manners you are sunk. Manners mean everything -and bad manners reveals the contempt the person has for the other. And contempt is at the heart of all these public-released letters.

Lesson #1: Never write to the Archbishop of Canterbury (or any archbishop) and then release the letter you wrote him to the public. Never. That's not even just good manners, that's common sense. I'm not sure which is more alarming, the loss of manners or the loss of sense.

Again, I question who these letters are really aimed at. Since they are being released publicly and for publicity, I am inclined to think that they are not actually aimed at the recipients but at a different audience. Who are the letters really aimed at?

You decide.

bb

The Liberals Take Aim at Rowan

Interesting commentary from Damian Thompson of the London Telegraph regarding Rowan Williams' future (click on the headline above for the article and also check out the podcast on that page). I don't agree.

No, I am not so inclined to agree and would wonder if the pressure on Rowan is not from the conservatives, but from the liberal members of the Anglican Communion.

Since Rowan was thought to come from the liberal wing of the Anglican Church, the fact that he has not pushed through the liberal agenda in England would make him far more open to the slings and arrows of the liberal wing than it would be from the conservatives (who has turned out to be far more of a friend then we could ever have dreamed). He has betrayed the liberal cause (and those who are viewed as traitors to the cause - especially in these particular causes - are subject to some of the worse venom possible) and it would be better to be rid of him, the liberals would think, so then either they would have a real conservative to bash or they could get a real liberal to carry their standard. But the only one who would win from Rowan's departure, would be the liberals. (NOTE TO DAMIAN: Think about it.).

I frankly think that the reports of Rowan's demise are premature. I think that it's a mistake to think that Rowan Williams is caught between two conservative Archbishops in his leadership of the Anglican Communion. No, his real problem is probably right under his nose in the ACC offices. Damian Thompson gets it completely wrong about Lord Carey and so that inclines me to think that he is getting this info from sources that would like this view to be put out into the international media - and what better place than from the conservative Telegraph? If this were Stephen Bates of the Guardian reporting on this, we'd all be shaking our heads as wishful thinking on the part of Bates and His Crew. But I see who Bates hangs out with (at General Convention and at the PB Investiture) - who his buddies are, and he is right on the staff of the ACC.

This is not a battle between the conservatives in England and Africa, but between the liberals and Rowan Williams. What the ACC media (and TEC as well, who are also buds) is that the Telegraph is fueling the fires of the liberal wing to get Rowan thrown out, with a decoy being the Archbishop of York. How did the Telegraph find out about the meeting with Rowan and the Global South Archbishops? Why would the Telegraph publish it, but not the Guardian? Surely the conservatives would help fuel this rumor because the Archbishop of York and Lord Carey are popular.

But it's a ruse and the cooler heads should prevail. Who are Rowan's real enemies? Not the conservatives, who have had nothing to fear or be slammed about since Rowan became Archbishop of Canterbury. No, the ones who have been slammed are the liberals and they are the ones who want him out.

bb

Canterbury's Audience with the Pope: London Times' Ruth Gledhill Posts Live Video

Rowan and Benedict acknowledge publicly the "serious obstacles" straining relations not only with Rome, but within the Anglican Communion

'Serious obstacles' in talks of unity

By Jonathan Petre, Religion Correspondent in Rome
Last Updated: 8:51am GMT 24/11/2006

The Pope and the Archbishop of Canterbury admitted yesterday that there were "serious obstacles" to unity between their Churches, a blunt acknowledgment of Vatican disapproval of women priests and an openly gay bishop in the Anglican Church.

The Pope and the Archbishop of Canterbury at the Vatican

Pope Benedict XVI and Dr Rowan Williams made the admission in a joint declaration they signed during an audience in the Vatican that committed them to continue talks and co-operate on practical issues, but underlined the difficulties.

The declaration expressed gratitude for efforts so far at achieving unity, a process that began in earnest after an historic meeting between Dr Williams's predecessor, Archbishop Michael Ramsey, and Pope Paul VI 40 years ago.

But it added: "At the same time, our long journey together makes it necessary to acknowledge publicly the challenge represented by new developments which, besides being divisive for Anglicans, present serious obstacles to our ecumenical progress."

The Pope was even more pointed in an address to Dr Williams, referring to the "strains" facing the worldwide Anglican Church which is struggling to contain its divisions over homosexuality.

The consecration by the American branch of Anglicanism of Gene Robinson as its first openly gay bishop in 2003 has brought the 70-million-strong Communion to the brink of schism.

The Pope told Dr Williams: "Recent developments, especially concerning the ordained ministry and certain moral teachings, have affected not only internal relations within the Anglican Communion but also relations between the Anglican Communion and the Catholic Church.

"We believe that these matters, which are presently under discussion within the Anglican Communion, are of vital importance to the preaching of the Gospel in its integrity, and that your current discussions will shape the future of our relations …

"It is our fervent hope that the Anglican Communion will remain grounded in the Gospels and the Apostolic Tradition which form our common patrimony."

Dr Williams recognised in his reply that "disputes about how we apply the Gospel to the challenges thrown up by modern society can often obscure or even threaten the achievements of dialogue."

However, the joint statement did represent a breakthrough in co-operation between the two Churches at a more practical level that could lead to a growing number of joint initiatives.

It said the Churches should stand together on issues including peace in the Middle East and other regions threatened by conflict and terrorism, the importance of marriage and the family and the "negative effects of materialism".

Other areas referred to were respect for life "from conception until natural death", the poor and vulnerable, talks between different faiths and the environment.

The declaration was signed by the two as they sat side by side at a wooden table during the audience in the Papal Library during the Archbishop's first official visit to the Pope since the conclave in April last year.

There was, however, no repetition of the gesture made by the late Pope John Paul II when he met Dr Williams three years ago and, despite shaking from Parkinson's disease, bent to kiss his ring.

At the end, the Pope and the Archbishop shook hands and swapped gifts.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Rowan Williams Meets Benedict in Rome

Archbishop's greeting to Pope Benedict

23rd November 2006


Your Holiness,

It gives me great pleasure to be able to greet you in this city, which was sanctified in the very early days of the Christian era by the ministry of the Apostles Peter and Paul, and from which so many of your predecessors have borne noble witness to the transforming Gospel of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

Early in my ministry as Archbishop of Canterbury, I was able to visit your much loved and venerated predecessor, Pope John Paul II, and to bring to him the greetings of the worldwide Anglican family of churches of some eighty million Christians. Pope John Paul had inspired many throughout the world by his dedication to Christ, and, as you know, had won a special place in the hearts of many beyond the Roman Catholic Church by the compassion and steadfastness revealed in his ministry to all.

As we meet on this occasion, we are also recalling and celebrating the visit forty years ago of my predecessor Archbishop Michael Ramsey to Pope Paul VI, when this encounter between the leaders of the Anglican and Roman Catholic Churches initiated a process of reconciliation and friendship which has continued to this day. The ring that I wear today is the episcopal ring which Pope Paul gave to Archbishop Michael, this cross the gift from Pope John Paul II, symbolic of our shared commitment to work together for the full visible unity of the Christian family.

It is in that same fraternal spirit that I make this visit now, since the journey of friendship that they began is one that I believe that we should continue together. I have been heartened by the way in which from the very beginning of your ministry as Bishop of Rome, you have stressed the importance of ecumenism in your own ministry. If the Good News of Jesus Christ is to be fully proclaimed to a needy world, then the reconciliation of all Christians in the truth and love of God is a vital element for our witness.

I say this, conscious that the path to unity is not an easy one, and that disputes about how we apply the Gospel to the challenges thrown up by modern society can often obscure or even threaten the achievements of dialogue, common witness and service. In the modern world, no part of the Christian family acts without profound impact on our ecumenical partners; only a firm foundation of friendship in Christ will enable us to be honest in speaking to one another about those difficulties, and discerning a way forward which seeks to be wholly faithful to the charge laid upon us as disciples of Christ. I come here today, therefore, to celebrate the ongoing partnership between Anglicans and Roman Catholics, but also ready to hear and to understand the concerns which you will wish to share with me.

However, there is a task which is laid upon us both as pastors of the Christian family: to be advocates of reconciliation, justice and compassion in this world – to be ambassadors for Christ – and I am confident that an honest exchange of our concerns will not be allowed to eclipse what we can affirm and proclaim together – the hope of salvation and healing found in the Grace and Love of God revealed in Christ.


Feast of St Clement
23rd November 2006

Rock of Ages and Happy Thanksgiving!




BB NOTE: Here's an article from today's edition of The New York Times (tip of the tinfoil hat to Karen - thank you!) on Thanksgiving, Plymouth Rock, and Bob Dylan. Nathaniel Philbrick catches on to the sly humor of his bobness and the article does what a Dylan song does - takes you down one road, doubles back, reinvents itself, and packs an unexpected zinger in the end. Have wondered about those outfits the band has been wearing - thinking it was more an ode to Charlie Chaplin, but the Pilgrims - now that's a pip. It's always great to read articles like this - which go beyond the usual "why can't he sing" cliche and gets it. Thanks, Mr. Philbrick. And Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

November 23, 2006
Op-Ed Contributor
Rocks of Ages

By NATHANIEL PHILBRICK
Nantucket, Mass.

LAST week, I went to see Bob Dylan at the Nassau Coliseum. It turned out to be a terrific rock ’n’ roll show. I must admit, however, to being somewhat distracted by how Mr. Dylan and his band were dressed. They wore hats and rather elegant suits, and it was in the midst of “Like a Rolling Stone,” as Dylan stood before the keyboard howling out the refrain, that I had what I’ll call a Thanksgiving epiphany.

I don’t know if it’s because I’ve spent the past four years researching the history of Plymouth Colony, but at that moment Mr. Dylan and his band reminded me of the Pilgrims. Not the actual Pilgrims, but the cardboard caricatures we come to know in elementary school, dressed in dark suits, with buckles on their hats and shoes. It was then that I remembered that almost precisely 31 years before, in 1975, Bob Dylan launched his legendary Rolling Thunder Revue in, of all places, Plymouth, Mass.

No one living has a better appreciation for the sneaky and unnerving power of American myth than Bob Dylan. In the fall of 1975, the United States was gripped by what the playwright Sam Shepard, who had been hired to work on a film about the tour, called “Bicentennial madness.” With 1976 fast approaching, America was obsessed as never before with its origins, and as Mr. Dylan knew perfectly well, there was no better place to launch his tour than the mythic landing ground of the Pilgrims.

Mr. Shepard did not end up contributing much to the film, but he did publish a log chronicling the tour’s first six weeks. Included in the book is a bizarre photo showing Mr. Dylan and several fellow musicians peering over the side of the Mayflower II, a reproduction of a 17th-century vessel berthed at Plimoth Plantation. A stiff breeze is blowing, and two of the party are desperately hanging on to the brims of their cowboy hats as the front man of the Byrds, Roger McGuinn, speaks on a huge, ’70s-style portable phone.

But perhaps the weirdest and wackiest portion of Mr. Shepard’s log describes how Mr. Dylan and his pals recreated the landing of the Pilgrims at Plymouth Rock. As the poet Allen Ginsberg sat beside the iron fence that surrounds the rock, chanting and chiming his set of Tibetan bells, Mr. Dylan haphazardly piloted a dinghy to the Plymouth shore.

Last week at the Nassau Coliseum it occurred to me that Bob Dylan is a lot like Plymouth Rock. Just as he emerged full-blown onto the New York folk scene of the 1960s, claiming a shadowy and, it turned out, apocryphal past, so did Plymouth Rock suddenly come to the attention of the American people in a manner that smacks of dubious self-invention.

There is no reference to a rock in any of the Pilgrims’ accounts of their arrival in Plymouth Harbor. Not until more than a century later did 95-year-old Thomas Faunce claim that his father, who did not arrive in Plymouth until three years after the Pilgrims, told him that the Mayflower passengers first stepped onto an undistinguished boulder at the edge of Plymouth Harbor. Thus was born the legend of Plymouth Rock.

Before the American Revolution, a group of patriots known as the Sons of Liberty seized upon the rock, literally, as a symbol of the unyielding righteousness of their cause. They decided to move the rock from its original location at the edge of the harbor to the center of town. Unfortunately, as the Sons of Liberty extracted the rock from the sandy muck of the harbor, it broke in half. Leaving the presumably Loyalist half behind, they carted their half of the rock to the town square.

Decades later, the rock was moved to a different part of town, only to be dropped once again and broken in half. All this time, souvenir hunters had been picking away at it. By the time the two quarters were reunited with the piece that remained at the edge of the harbor, around the time of the Civil War, the total size of the rock had been diminished by approximately half.

Today, the ornate granite edifice that enshrines what’s left of Plymouth Rock serves only to mock what is now a virtual pebble with a cemented seam running across it. Mount Rushmore, it isn’t. Indeed, Plymouth Rock has been deservedly called the biggest letdown in tourism.

And yet the rock is, as far as I’m concerned, a wonderful metaphor for what we Americans do to our history. We slice it, we dice it, we try to put it back together again, but in the end it is just there: a sadly diminished thing that, despite all the abuse we have heaped upon it, retains an enduring connection to a past we can never really hope to recapture.

Bob Dylan is a legend who has received his own share of knocks — whether it be from acoustic purists at the Newport Folk Festival or from his own motorcycle. Last week at the Nassau Coliseum, he proved that no matter what the passage of time and the constant touring have done to his vocal cords, he can still deliver songs like “Highway 61 Revisited” and “All Along the Watchtower” with a feral abandon that has grown only more powerful with the years.

And so, on this Thanksgiving Day, I am going to give thanks not only for turkey, family and football. I am going to pay homage to the staying power of two American icons, Bob Dylan and Plymouth Rock.

Nathaniel Philbrick is the author of “Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community and War” and “In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex.”

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Rowan Williams in Rome - Will meet with Pope on Thursday

Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, smiles with German Cardinal Walter Kasper as he arrives at the Benedictine University in Rome November 21, 2006. Williams is scheduled to meet Pope Benedict on Thursday. BB NOTE: Cardinal Kasper is the President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity,

Order of the Phoenix - Coming July 13, 2007

New PB talks to the New York Times - No room for kids in TEC

MICHAEL MEDVED REPORTS: The controversial new leader of the Episcopal Church in the United States provided a prime example of these alienating attitudes in a startling interview in the New York Times Magazine on November 19th with Deborah Solomon. When Solomon asked about the current numbers of Episcopalians, for instance, Bishop Jefferts Schori took it as a point of pride that her church experienced declining membership.

Q: How many members of the Episcopal Church are there in this country?

A: About 2.2 million. It used to be larger percentagewise, but Episcopalians tend to be better educated and tend to reproduce at lower rates than other denominations.

In other words, it’s just those uneducated, unsophisticated Evangelicals and Catholics and Mormons and Orthodox Jews who are bothering with the messy, dirty work of producing and raising kids. Naturally, the Presiding Bishop defends the low Episcopal birthrate as a sign of enlightenment:

Q: Episcopalians aren’t interested in replenishing their ranks by having children?

A: No. It’s probably the opposite. We encourage people to pay attention to the stewardship of the earth, and not use more than their portion.

BB NOTE: When I was a kid I was scared to death of this guy (see picture of guy on the far left). Wonder if he was an Episcopalian too?

Q: As a scientist with a Ph.D., what do you make of the Christian fundamentalists who say the earth was created in six days and dismiss evolution as a lot of bunk?

A: I think it’s a horrendous misunderstanding of both science and active faith tradition…

Q: Pope Benedict…became embroiled in controversy this fall after suggesting that Muslims have a history of violence.

A: So do Christians! They have a terrible history… I think Muslims are poorly understood by the West, and it is easy to latch onto that which we do not understand and demonize it.

Note that when the good Bishop speaks of the shameful record of violence by Christians, she says “they have a terrible history” – not we. In other words, she instinctively excludes herself when she talks of Christian tradition.

BB NOTE: Well, that just about it says it all.

Finally, Bishop Jefferts Schori casually dismisses the familial and marital norms that most believers embrace and defend as the very essence of Judeo-Christian faith. Instead of traditional pride in a husband and wife building a home together, making heroic efforts and even significant sacrifices to share a life, the Bishop happily announces that she and her spouse occupy opposite ends of the continent.

Q: You were previously bishop of Nevada, but your new position requires you to live in New York City. Do you and your husband like it here?

A: He is actually in Nevada. He is a retired mathematician. He will be here in New York when it makes sense.

In other words, it doesn’t “make sense” for a retired mathematician to be at his wife’s side when she takes on the leadership of one of the nation’s most significant Christian denominations? It doesn’t make sense for the first female Bishop to head this denomination to try to model marital togetherness?

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

After 230 Years, Lord North Letter to John Adams Discovered in Constitutional Hall Attic



BB NOTE: BabyBlueOnline has learned that the following letter was recently discovered during the annual cleaning of the Independence Hall Attic in Philadelphia. Only now made public, BabyBlueOnline blows off the dust and publishes it for general - and perhaps timely - reflection.

May 9, 1776

Mister John Adams, Esquire
Delegate, Province of Massachusetts Bay
Second Continental Congress
State House
Philadelphia

My Dear Mr. Adams,

I have seen reports of your letter to other delegates in His Majesty’s American Provinces and Colonies and Dominions, which apparently urges delegates to your upcoming Second Continental Congress to take action to leave the Crown. I would ask you to confirm the accuracy of those reports. If true, you must be aware that such action would likely be seen as a violation of your oath of allegiance to the Crown, as a subject of His Majesty, King George III. I must strongly urge you to consider the consequences of such action, not only for yourself but especially for all loyalists under your charge and care.

I certainly understand that you personally disagree with decisions by His Majesty, King George III over the past 30 and more months. You are, however, a subject of His Majesty King George III. If you now feel that you can no longer serve the Crown, the more honorable course would be to renounce your position of leadership in the Province of Massachusetts Bay and seek a home elsewhere. Your public assertion that your duty is to violate your position as a loyal subject of the Crown puts many, many people at hazard of profound temporal violence. I urge you, as a gentleman, to consider that hazard with the utmost gravity.

As you contemplate this action I would also remind you of the trust which you and I both hold for those who have come before and those who will come after us. None of us has received the property held by the Crown today to use as we will. We have received it as stewards, for those who enjoy it today and those who will be permitted to use it in the future. Our forebears did not build empires or give memorials with the intent that they be removed from the Crown. Nor did our forebears give liberally to fund endowments with the intent that they be consumed by litigation.

The Crown will endure whatever decision you make in Philadelphia. The people who are its members, however, will suffer in the midst of this conflict, and probably suffer unnecessarily. As His Majesty King George III reminds us daily, we are called to take up our crosses, but not in the service of division and antagonism to the Crown. Would that you might lead the people of Massachusetts Bay toward decisions that build up the Crown, that bring abundant life to those subjects within and beyond the Crown, that restore us to oneness.

I stand ready for conversation and reconciliation. May God bless your deliberation.

Sincerely,

Lord North
Prime Minister of All Great Britain

Monday, November 20, 2006

Oops, thought I was reading the latest headline from the Episcopal News Service ...

New PB Releases Yet Another Umbridge Decree

I was going to post PB Katharine Jefferts Schori's new - and rather nasty - "Letter" to the Bishop of San Joaquin here, but it was so awful that I just couldn't do it. If you must read it, click on the headline above.

This Umbridge Decree, er, "letter" is aimed at her loyalist factions and not the Good Bishop himself, or so it appears. When one is sincere about their desire to make diplomatic headway, to find common ground and resolution, one doesn't write public threats masquerading as so-called "letters" that you immediately release to the press and then expect anything close to the "shalom."

Statement from Global South Steering Committee following Nov. 15-17 Meeting in Virginia

Pursuing the desired outcome of the 'Windsor process' - a GSSC report

Global South Steering Committee Report from the meetings on Nov 15-17, 2006

The Global South Steering Committee, at the request of the Global South Primates, recently met with bishops and representatives of eight Anglican Communion Network Dioceses who have appealed to the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Global South Primates for various forms of Alternative Primatial Oversight. Representatives of other Windsor-compliant Dioceses and the more than one hundred congregations that are now separated from the Episcopal Church also joined us.

Respective presentations were received expressing the increasingly difficult and, in some cases, untenable situations in which they attempt to live out apostolic faith and historic order. We were distressed to hear of the legalistic and autocratic environment in which some now find themselves as they seek to remain faithful Anglicans within The Episcopal Church.

The Steering Committee will be making its report and recommendation to the Global South Primates when they next meet and will also be sharing them with the Archbishop of Canterbury. Deeply touched by the oftentimes painful and gravely disconcerting testimonies that we heard, the Global South Steering Committee feels morally and spiritually compelled to reassert its deepest solidarity with these orthodox and faithful bishops and representatives.

We express our unequivocal support and heartfelt recognition for their faithful stand and struggles. We urge all faithful members and parishes of these concerned dioceses to remain steadfast in their commitment to Christ as our one and only Lord and Savior during these turbulent days. We will do all in our power to bring about the desired outcome of the ³Windsor process² so that the refined global Anglican Communion can be faithful to its vocation as part of the ³One, Holy Catholic and Apostolic² Church.

Dylan Concert Review Part II Coming Soon


Events have rather overtaken me, but stay tuned for Part II of the Dylan Concert Review. I'm also trying to figure out how to put the video shorts from my phone up as well. So stay tuned!

bb

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Dylan Concert Review: Part I

I was one of those who bought Modern Times from iTunes and was able to book early for the Nov. 17 Dylan concert at the Patriot Center, Fairfax. I ended up in third row center and in a chair. No more mashed in the mosh-pit of a dusty ballpark trapped behind tall bearded men and chatty fratty boys. This was the real deal. And what a deal it was!

Started off the day dropping by the Patriot Center to pick up my ticket from Will Call. I thought I was feeling rather non-challant, sort of blase and I'm thinking, well, maybe I'm over this Dylan-thing. Maybe after two years of "let's figure forty years of Bob Dylan out in two" I had finally reached the end and ready to move on to the next thing. I picked up my ticket from the Will Call window and headed back to my car feeling fine when I saw the Dylan Show busses parked near my car and I had a zinger-moment of fangirl bliss. Zoomed out for a moment "OH MY GOSH!!! (no, didn't say it, just thought it, felt it) and it lasted only a moment, zingggg. AHHH!!! For twenty seconds I was fourteen years old. Then it passed and I was back to being forty-something, getting in my car, off to do errands, ladida. Guess I'm not over it, BabyBlue.

A few weeks ago, after I made it known that I would be going to this concert, I got an e-mail from BabyBlueOnline blog reader, Thomas, from southwestern Virginia. He and his wife Mary Alice were driving up to the concert and would I like to meet them for dinner? I thought it was a great idea and so we met at Brion's Grill across the street from the Patriot Center. It was so much fun meeting them - we talked about the Episcopal Church crisis and Bob Dylan. What more could we ask for? Actually, we had a great conversation on both topics, including getting into discussing the meaning of the news songs off Modern Times. It was really great to engage at that level of conversation and I felt like we all would be friends for years to come. Thomas said that NT Wright is going to be speaking a local church down there in a few months, so maybe I will get a chance to head down to their territory and pick up the conversation where we left off.

We walked over to the Patriot Center after dinner and the cars were still pouring into the parking lot, though it was now past 7:30 p.m. We said goodbye and went to our seats inside as the Raconteurs blasted off the stage. Guess what - I thought they were fantastic. Sitting so close I could see their amazing guitar technique, the tightness of the arrangements, and the power of the music (and though loud, not nearly as loud as U2, which took me weeks to get over). I don't know much about them beyond what the Starbucks Guy Who Makes My Chai Latte has told me about them - but they were very impressive - sort of "The Who" or "Pink Floyd" meets "The Clash." I did think they looked young, which was scary.

They were on until a little about 8:40 and then Dylan took the stage at 9:00 with "Cat's in the Well," which I'll be honest, I don't really know. But he followed it with Senor and thing just took off. What a changed man he was - hints of it were apparent this summer when he stole glances into the audience (a major change from the summer before when he barely even looked at the audience and you felt sort of like you were intruding on one of his rehearsals). But the man we saw last night was reminiscent of the one we hear on Theme Time Radio Hour. Serious, half-serious, self-mocking, playful, and sneaky. The Joker.

I have to go to a Surprise Birthday Party now so I'll write more later - especially the part when he did High Water, which those of you who read this blog know, is the "Song of Choice" when it comes to the Episcopal Church crisis. More on that later. In the meantime, here's another photo from the trusty cell phone. Thanks, Sprint!

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Bob's Set List From Last Night's Concert

Review coming up next - but here's the Set List and a photo from my cell phone from last night's show here in Fairfax. I know I'm a fan and everything, but last night's concert was unbelievably fantastic and so much fun. He did four encores, rather than the habitual three - which tells you something, he looked like he was having as much fun as we were. This was the Dylan you hear on Theme Time Radio Hour.

And he did High Water.

For those of you who read this blog, you know what theme song that is.

He did High Water.

This week of all weeks.

Turned out I was in the third row, center - so that sort of blew my mind. I have photos too - well, I think I do - taken with the cell phone camera. I even took some video with the cell phone, but we'll see how that came out. It's only snippits. But it was a great night - met up with BabyBlueOnline readers, Thomas and Mary Alice from southwestern Virginia and then met Biz and Ollie - who sat in front of me and made the night even more fun. Stay tuned.

Fairfax, Virginia
Patriot Center
November 17, 2006


1. Cat's In The Well
2. SeƱor (Tales Of Yankee Power)
3. Rollin' And Tumblin'
4. Boots Of Spanish Leather
5. Cold Irons Bound
6. When The Deal Goes Down
7. High Water (For Charley Patton)
8. Most Likely You Go Your Way (And I'll Go Mine)
9. Masters Of War
10. Spirit On The Water
11. Tangled Up In Blue
12. Nettie Moore
13. Highway 61 Revisited

(encore)
14. Love Sick
15. Thunder On The Mountain
16. Like A Rolling Stone
17. All Along The Watchtower

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Imparting grace to those who hear it

BB: I heard Robin give this meditation today and thought it was not only timely - but very helpful. We can be direct in our speech, but also kind. Finding that balance is a challenge - and Robin offers an inspiring way to approach that challenge.

A Meditation by The Rev Robin T. Adams
given at Truro Church 11-18-2006

Ephesians 4:29 “Let no evil talk come our of your mouths, but only such as is good for edifying, as fits the occasion, that it may impart grace to those who hear it. RSV”

Introduction
Several congregations in Northern Virginia and beyond have been working through a forty day of discernment process in the fall of 2006. During this time we have been trying to listen faithfully to the Lord and talking quietly to each other in order to know the mind of Christ. As discernment comes to a close we will have opportunity to speak to the wider public, including involved lay and clergy Episcopalians beyond our own parishes in the diocese at large and even perhaps local and national press.

It is imperative then that our words, whether spoken or written are offered in a genuine spirit of Christian charity. That the tone of these words, as well as their content, clearly reflect the Christ we say that we are trying to honor and imitate. Perhaps we will have many opportunities to speak words into the stress and chaos of the turmoil that is the Episcopal Church today. What kind of words will we offer? To answer this question, I share some thoughts on this verse from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians from a chapter describing a high calling to a maturity of Christian character.

Ephesians 4:29 “Let no evil talk come our of your mouths, but only such as is good for edifying, as fits the occasion, that it may impart grace to those who hear it. RSV”

It is often said that one picture is worth a thousand words. In some cases that may be true. But are you aware that with one thousand words we can write the Lord's Prayer, the Hippocratic Oath, the Gettysburg address, the Boy Scout motto, the Twenty-third Psalm, a Shakespearean sonnet, and the Preamble to the U. S. Constitution? What picture do you think is worth more than those thousand words?

Words are important. They can do much good and much harm. A Greek philosopher asked his servant to prepare the best dish possible. The servant prepared a dish of tongue, saying, "It is the best of all dishes, because with it we may bless and communicate happiness, dispel sorrow, remove despair, cheer the faint-hearted, inspire the discouraged, and a say a hundred other things to uplift mankind."

Later the philosopher asked his servant to provide the worst dish he could. A dish of tongue again appeared on his table. The servant said, "It is the worst, because with it we may curse and break human hearts, destroy reputations, promote discord and strife, and set families, communities and nations at war with each other."

Replace corrupt speech with edifying speech.

Knowing the power of language to do both good and evil, Paul writes to the Ephesians a verse worth memorizing: "Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace to the hearers" (Ephesians 4:29 KJV).

Unwholesome or corrupt talk probably means foul language, but it also covers destructive, nasty, back biting, and even frivolous speech. Aim at speech that is helpful for building others up according to their needs. One of the functions of the Holy Spirit is to unite the fellowship of believers in love, so when we affront each other with destructive words, we "grieve" the Holy Spirit (Eph 4:30).

Be careful that you don't get caught in your own mouthtrap.
"Opened by mistake" applies more often to mouths than to mail.
It is not always easy to say the right thing on the spur of the moment. We can sympathize with the guy who met an old friend after many years.
"How is your wife?" he asked.
"She is in heaven," replied the friend.
"Oh, I sorry," he stammered. Then realizing that this was not the thing to say, he corrected himself: "I mean, I'm glad." That seemed even worse so he blurted, "Well, what I really mean is, I'm surprised." Many a loose tongue gets its owner in a tight place!

"If your lips would keep from slips,
Five things observe with care:
To whom you speak, of whom you speak
And how, and when, and where." W. E. Norris

Wisdom is knowing when to speak your mind and when to mind your speech. It is amazing that people will fight for the right to say what they think and then say so much without thinking.

All around us are people whose lives are in disrepair. To "edify them" is an old-fashioned way of saying to build them up. An encouraging word from you, spoken at the right moment, can mend a broken heart.

Eliphaz paid Job a great compliment when he said; "When someone stumbled, weak and tired, your words encouraged him to stand" (Job 4:4 TEV). Such words, the wise Solomon said, when fitly spoken are "like apples of gold in pictures of silver" (Proverbs 25:11).

Sometimes silence is golden, but sometimes it is plain yellow. Many people don't talk much about their faith because they don't have much to talk about. They say something by what they don't say. Peter denied the Lord by his silence at Christ's trial long before he denied him by cuss words to the servant girl (John 18:15-27). His silence spoke louder than words. "I don't care" was his message on that awful day.

Frances Havergal prayed, "Take my lips and let them be filled with messages for Thee." Yielded to the service of Christ, our lips can build something beautiful.

Commendable communication not only builds up the hearers, it ministers grace to them. Along with baptism and Holy Communion, words are a means of grace. When two or three are gathered in Christ's name and Christ himself is present (Mat. 18:20), conversation becomes communion, rather than mere communication.

"If you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For man believes with his heart and so is justified and he confesses with his lips and so is saved" (Romans 10:9-10 RSV). The gospel is gospel not just when it is believed, but when it is confessed. The rock on which the church is built is not a confessing Peter, but Peter's confession. Where the gospel is believed and confessed, there is divine grace.

What is in the well of your heart must come up in the bucket of your mouth (Matthew 12:34). Your words will minister either grace or disgrace.

"Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone" (Colossians. 4:5 NIV).

Continuing on to verses 31 and 32 Paul now gives a list of things to get rid of: "Bitterness" - annoying pinpricking; "Rage and Anger" - outbursts of uncontrolled anger; "Brawling" - public quarreling; "Slander" - back biting, whispering; "Every form of malice" - maliciousness and ill-will. Instead of these evils, we should seek to be: "kind" - mutual kindness; "Compassionate"; "Forgiving". These qualities are exhibited by God and they express the Christ-like nature we have put on in him, and therefore we should seek to exhibit these positive characteristics in our words.

John Stott has the following helpful comments on this passage.

Don’t use your mouth for evil, but rather for good (verses 29-30).

Speech is a wonderful gift of God. It is one of our human capacities which reflect our likeness to God. For our God speaks, and like him we also speak. Speech distinguishes us from the animal creation. Cows can moo, dogs bark, donkeys bray, pigs grunt, lambs bleat, lions roar, monkeys squeal and birds sing, but only human beings can speak.

So *let no evil talk come out of your mouths*, Paul says. ‘Evil’ here is *sapros*, a word used of rotten trees and rotten fruit (Mt.7:17-18 and 12:33). When applied to rotten talk, whether this is dishonest, unkind or vulgar, we may be sure that in some way it hurts the hearers. Instead, we are to use our unique gift of speech constructively, for *edifying* that is to build people up and not damage or destroy them, *as fits the occasion*. Then our words will *impart grace to those who hear*.

Jesus taught the great significance of speech. Our words reveal what is in our hearts, he said, and we shall have to give an account on judgment day of every careless word we have uttered (Mt.12:33-37). So James was only echoing the teaching of his Master when he emphasized the immense power of the human tongue for good or evil (Jas.3:1-12). If we are truly a new creation of God, we shall undoubtedly develop new standards of conversation. Instead of seeking to hurting people with our words, we shall want to use them to help, encourage, cheer, comfort and stimulate them. I have myself often been challenged by the contrasting speech of the wise man and the fool in Proverbs 12:18: ‘There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing’.

It is not immediately clear why Paul now introduces the Holy Spirit: *Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, in whom you were sealed for the day of redemption* (verse 30). But the apostle was constantly aware that behind the actions of human beings invisible personalities are present and active. He has just warned us to give no opportunity to the devil (verse 27); now he urges us not to grieve the Holy Spirit. It is evident from this that the Holy Spirit is fully personal, for *lypeo* is to cause sorrow, pain or distress, and only persons can feel these things. But what grieves him? Since he is the ‘holy spirit’, he is always grieved by unholiness, and since he is the ‘one spirit’ (2:18; 4:4), disunity will also cause him grief. In fact, anything incompatible with the purity or unity of the church is incompatible with his own nature and therefore hurts him. One might add that because he is also the ‘Spirit of truth’, through whom God has spoken, he is upset by all our misuse of speech, which has been Paul’s topic in the preceding verse.

An example of edifying speech that imparts grace – George Whitefield.

Baptist pastor and preacher W. A. Chriswell wrote this tribute to Anglican preacher George Whitefield. “The most moving, eloquent man who ever lived was George Whitefield. Benjamin Franklin said, “I want to hear him but I am going to leave all my money at home because he will get it all, they tell me, if I come with anything in my pockets.” So Benjamin Franklyn went to hear George Whitefield and left all his money at home. While George Whitfield was preaching, Benjamin Franklin turned to a neighbor and said, “Sir, will you loan me some money that I may give to George Whitefield?” Another man I read about said, “George Whitefield could pronounce the word “Mesopotamia” and bring a vast throng to tears, just by pronouncing the word.

George Whitefield all his life was an asthmatic. When he preached he gasped for breath. Yet he became God’s eloquent preacher. When he came to Newberryport in Connecticut the villagers came and knocked on the door in the middle of the night and said to the host, “Would you ask Mr. Whitefield to come and preach for us?” So he got George Whitefield out of bed. The preacher came down the stairway and stood on the bottom step. There he preached the message of Christ to the people in the hall, on the porch and out in the yard. George Whitefield had a candle in his hand and a little candle holder. When the candle burned down and went out, George Whitefield led a benedictory prayer, went back up to the room, lay down, and died in an attack of asthma. How could an asthmatic be such a preacher? It is God who does it.”

“Let no evil talk come our of your mouths, but only such as is good for edifying, as fits the occasion, that it may impart grace to those who hear it. Eph 4:29

Robin Adams, a native of Northern Ireland, is Rector of Church of the Word, Gainesville, VA.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Time Out: As if this wasn't such an extraordinary week all ready ...












Bob Dylan & his band
roll into Fairfax today.

Just in time.

Dreams - where the umbrella is folded
Into the path you are hurled
And the cards are no good that you're holding
Unless they're from another world


Stay tuned for BabyBlue's Review tomorrow.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

The Falls Church and Truro Church May Sever Ties with The Episcopal Church in the U.S. - Consistent with Protocol For Virginia Congregations

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

FAIRFAX and FALLS CHURCH, VA, Nov. 16 – Representatives of two of the largest congregations in the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia Thursday – Truro Church and The Falls Church – said they are proceeding in a manner consistent with the protocol developed by a Special Committee of the Diocese to settle any property and other disputes should their congregations vote to sever ties with The Episcopal Church in the U.S.

Their confirmation of the protocol came after the Diocese issued a statement Wednesday. “There is no approved protocol,” said Patrick Getlein, Secretary of the Diocese. The Diocese’s statement followed recommendations by the vestries at Truro Church and The Falls Church, November 11 and November 13 respectively, that their congregations affiliate with a province of the worldwide Anglican Communion other than The Episcopal Church. The recommendations are to be voted on December 10-16 at each church.

“To claim that there is no approved protocol is surprising especially since a Special Committee -- comprised of three representatives from the Diocese and three representing Truro Church and The Falls Church -- was appointed by the Rt. Rev. Peter Lee, Bishop of the Diocese; chaired by the Chancellor of the Diocese of Virginia Russell Palmore; met for almost a full year; and then produced a unanimous report with the protocol,” said Jim Oakes, senior warden at Truro. “The Chancellor himself co-authored the final report that recommended the protocol,” Oakes said.

“We were saddened to read the initial response to the actions taken by our vestries,” the Rev. Rick Wright, senior associate rector of The Falls Church said. “Their decisions were taken after a great deal of prayer and deliberation that was carried out in repeated consultation with the Diocesan leadership as evidenced, in part, by materials the Diocese contributed to the public web site, www.40daysofdiscernment.org.”

The Bishop stated to representatives of both churches on October 16 that he saw the protocol as, in his words, “the right way forward.” “We took Bishop Lee at his word,” said Tom Wilson, senior warden at The Falls Church.

The Bishop reiterated that message at a November 9 joint meeting of the Standing Committee and Executive Board of the Diocese. After the report had been presented and discussed, the Standing Committee of the Diocese and the Executive Board of the Diocese voted at that meeting to receive the protocol unchanged in the face of requests that it be amended, Rev. Wright said. “The Bishop made it clear that it was his desire that the report should not be altered prior to these votes, but should be voted on as it was presented.”

Later Wednesday, Mr. Getlein circulated the report of the Special Committee to the entire Diocese.

”The Diocese’s protocol indicates a way forward that allows us to recognize that while there is a fundamental division in the Diocese, we can settle these issues in a Christ-like manner,” said Wilson. “That is still our heart-felt conviction.”

The vestry recommendations reflect the division in The Episcopal Church that has resulted from disagreement spanning the past four decades over basic truths of the Christian faith, including the authority of the Holy Scriptures and the uniqueness of Jesus Christ as the only Lord and Savior of humankind.

On a typical weekend, about 3,000 congregants worship at the two churches in northern Virginia.

Contact: Jim Pierobon, 301-520-1758

Tornado Watch for Virginia

Some things just can't be made up.

Tornado Watch

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE HAS ISSUED TORNADO WATCH 868 IN EFFECT UNTIL 6 PM EST THIS AFTERNOON FOR THE FOLLOWING AREAS

IN VIRGINIA THIS WATCH INCLUDES 14 COUNTIES

IN CENTRAL VIRGINIA

ALBEMARLE GREENE KING GEORGE ORANGE SPOTSYLVANIA

IN NORTHERN VIRGINIA

ARLINGTON
CULPEPER
FAIRFAX
FAUQUIER
LOUDOUN
PRINCE WILLIAM STAFFORD

IN NORTHWEST VIRGINIA

MADISON RAPPAHANNOCK

IN VIRGINIA THIS WATCH INCLUDES 7 INDEPENDENT CITIES

IN CENTRAL VIRGINIA

CHARLOTTESVILLE CITY OF FREDERICKSBURG

IN NORTHERN VIRGINIA

CITY OF ALEXANDRIA
CITY OF FAIRFAX
CITY OF FALLS CHURCH
CITY OF MANASSAS
CITY OF MANASSAS PARK

THIS INCLUDES THE CITIES OF... ABERDEEN...ALEXANDRIA...ANNAPOLIS... ARLINGTON...BALTIMORE...BEL AIR... CHANTILLY...CHARLOTTESVILLE... CHARLOTTESVILLE...CHESAPEAKE BEACH... COLUMBIA...CULPEPER... DAHLGREN... EDGEWOOD...FAIRFAX...FALLS CHURCH... FALLSTON... FALMOUTH...FREDERICK... FREDERICKSBURG...GAITHERSBURG... HAVRE DE GRACE...JOPPATOWNE...LAUREL... LEESBURG...MADISON... MANASSAS... MANASSAS PARK...MCLEAN...ORANGE... RESTON... SPOTSYLVANIA COURTHOUSE...ST MARYS...STANARDSVILLE...STERLING... TOWSON...WALDORF...WARRENTON... WASHINGTON...WASHINGTON... WESTMINSTER AND WOODBRIDGE.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The Living Church: Falls Church, Truro Vestries Recommend Disaffiliation

The vestries of two historic Virginia churches, Truro Parish, Fairfax, and The Falls Church, Falls Church, earlier this week announced to their congregations that they have voted to recommend disaffiliation from The Episcopal Church.

In both cases the vestries also recommended affiliating with the newly formed Anglican District of Virginia in the Convocation for Anglicans in North America (CANA), a mission of the Church of Nigeria. In July, the Rt. Rev. Martyn Minns, who has been Truro’s rector since 1991, was consecrated missionary bishop for CANA.

Both parishes recently completed a 40-day discernment period in which members engaged in study and reflection “to seek the Lord’s will for their place within the Anglican Communion, as well as their expressed relationship with The Episcopal Church in the United States,” according to a website developed jointly by the congregations. Both congregations are expected to vote on their vestries’ recommendations in mid-December.

In a joint press release, Jim Oakes, senior warden at Truro, described the vestry meeting at his church as “prayerful and somber. We shared prayers and tears as we voted to recommend to the Truro parish this course of action.”

Tom Wilson, senior warden at The Falls Church, said the vestry there reached the decision because “we have witnessed firsthand how the Episcopal Church has separated itself from the historic Christian faith of the Anglican Communion over the last few decades. We are at an historic crossroads.”

“We are very, very sad that the vestries are going to recommend to the congregations that they sever ties to The Episcopal Church,” wrote Virginia Bishop Peter Lee in a press release issued in response to the announcements. Col. Jean Reed, president of the diocesan standing committee, said the committee “intends to meet with those churches proposing to separate from The Episcopal Church and review their situations on a case-by-case basis.”

With a combined membership of more than 5,200 and average Sunday attendance of 3,200, Truro and Falls Church are among the largest and wealthiest congregations in The Episcopal Church. In 2005 the combined reported pledge and plate income for the parishes was in excess of $7 million. Both congregations also predate the Revolutionary War, with Truro Parish being established in 1732 and The Falls Church’s first building completed in 1734.

Letter to the Parish: Truro

From Mr. Jim Oakes
Senior Warden, Truro Church
Fairfax, VA

An Open Letter To Truro Parish

November 15, 2006

Dear Truro Family,

After an extraordinary period of prayer, conversation, study, listening, and reflection, the Truro vestry made some momentous decisions this past weekend. I’m writing to give you more information about those decisions, and to talk about the steps that now lie before us.

As we have gone through our discernment period seeking to hear the will of the Lord regarding our relationship with the Episcopal Church, the vestry has met in a series of retreats considering these issues, hearing from many of you, and praying together.

Our last retreat occurred this past Saturday. We heard from John Yates, the Rector of The Falls Church, about their progress in facing these same questions. We wrestled with alternatives. And then, after another time of prayer and repentance, we voted unanimously to recommend to the Truro congregation that we sever our ties with The Episcopal Church and affiliate with the Anglican District of Virginia, an association of Virginia churches who are joining together to realign traditional Anglicans in Virginia. The district is part of CANA (the Convocation of Anglicans in North America), a branch of the Anglican Communion within the Church of Nigeria.

We have informed the Rt. Rev. Peter James Lee, Bishop of the Diocese of Virginia, of the vestry's decision. As a congregation, we are following a protocol, approved by both the Diocese’s Standing Committee and Executive Board, that sets out a procedure for congregations who are considering whether to sever ties with The Episcopal Church.

It is with great sadness that this step has been taken. For us, as well as you, this has been a time of suffering, as though watching a loved one slowly perish. But it is a necessary step, and it is time to take it.

In the end, the vestry cannot make this decision alone - the congregation must do that. In order to hear the will of the congregation on this question, we have called a congregational meeting to take place beginning on December 10, at which you will be asked to approve this recommendation by the vestry. If the recommendation is approved, we will then take immediate steps to carry out this decision and to align ourselves with CANA.

This is an historic point in the life of Christ’s church. We ask that you make serious plans to vote on what may be the most important decision that most of us will ever make about our future as the Truro family. Please be assured your vote counts. I have been greatly encouraged to hear of seminarians and overseas mission partners who are planning to make special trips home to cast their vote on this question, and I truly hope that we will all take this responsibility just as seriously.

We will be providing you with a great deal of additional information about our recommendation, and are scheduling a number of rector/warden forums to give you an opportunity to discuss this issue with your leaders face-to-face. Please take advantage of these opportunities, and please continue to pray as we prepare for this important next step in our life together.

To God be the glory!

Jim Oakes
Senior Warden

Letter to the Parish: The Falls Church

From The Rev. John Yates
Rector, The Falls Church
Falls Church, VA

To the family of The Falls Church
November 14, 2006

Dear Friends,

I want to inform you of the Vestry decision last night. First let me say how much I appreciated the attitude and tone of mutual love and respect that everyone demonstrated at the parish meeting Sunday afternoon. We all know these are terribly hard decisions, and you showed the love of Christ to one another in our time together. Your thoughtful, wise, and serious comments were very helpful to me and to the vestry in being able to come to a decision last night.

The decision of the vestry, as we met last night, was to recommend to the congregation that The Falls Church disaffiliate with The Episcopal Church and affiliate with the Anglican District of Virginia, an association of Virginia churches who are joining together to realign traditional Anglicans in Virginia. The district is part of CANA (the Convocation of Anglicans in North America), a branch of the Anglican Communion within the Church of Nigeria that has The Rt. Rev. Martyn Minns as its Bishop. The vote was 15 aye, 2 nay, and 1 abstention.

The Vestry and I will be providing you with as much information as we can about the Anglican District of Virginia and CANA in the next few weeks. We will have two congregational informational meetings to explain and discuss these matters, as well as to go over the resolution and ballot, which we expect to use in the congregation-wide vote on this matter. The first meeting will be next Monday Nov. 20 at 7:30 pm in the Main Sanctuary. The next will be on December 3rd, when the 9:00 am & 11:00 am services will be shortened to have a meeting after each of those services. Please plan to attend! I may also be sending out additional information via email.

The congregation will decide this matter at a meeting that begins Sunday morning Dec. 10. Please do make plans to vote; I am sure you can appreciate how important that vote - and your individual vote! - will be. This is likely the most important vote that this congregation will take in any of our lifetimes, perhaps ever. The voting times will be stretched over a week to enable those who may be traveling on Sunday to vote. The polls will be open from 9:00 am to 2:00 pm and from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm on Sunday, December 10th, as well as a couple of hours Tuesday evening, Wednesday afternoon, and mid-day on Saturday the 16th. The results will be announced on Sunday, December 17.

We have informed the Rt. Rev. Peter James Lee, Bishop of the Diocese of Virginia, of the vestry's decision. As a congregation, we are following a protocol, approved by the Diocese, that sets out a procedure for congregations considering whether to sever ties with The Episcopal Church.

At the outset of last night's meeting we prayed for the wisdom of God as described in James 4:17-"But the wisdom from above is first pure, peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere." Those qualities characterized the tone and conversation all night long. At the end of the evening, the sentiments of this prayer were in our hearts as we gathered at the chancel rail for prayer:

“Direct us, oh Lord, in all our doings, with thy most gracious favor, and further us with thy continual help; that in all our works, begun, continued, and ended in thee, we may glorify thy holy name, and finally, by thy mercy, obtain everlasting life; through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen." (BCP, p. 832)

Please continue to keep this a matter of earnest and heartfelt prayer.

Sincerely,

John Yates
Rector of The Falls Church

BREAKING NEWS - Truro and The Falls Church Vestries recommend severing ties with The Episcopal Church -

"With great sadness and yet firm conviction we took this initial step toward our respective votes.”
-Tom Wilson, Senior Warden
The Falls Church


Fairfax, VA, Nov. 15 - In a congregational meeting Sunday afternoon, Nov 12, the Vestry of Truro Church, Fairfax, announced to their parish that they unanimously recommend that Truro should sever its ties to The Episcopal Church (TEC) and remain as full members of the Anglican Communion by joining the Anglican District of Virginia in the Convocation for Anglicans in North America (CANA).

On the following Monday, Nov. 13, the Vestry of The Falls Church, Falls Church, also voted to recommend that they sever their ties to the Episcopal Church and join the Anglican District of Virginia, CANA.

Both congregations will review the recommendations and vote on the final Vestry resolutions, starting on December 10.

The congregations are following a protocol, approved by the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia, which sets out a procedure for congregations considering whether to sever ties with The Episcopal Church.

“The meeting of the Truro vestry was prayerful and somber,” said Jim Oakes, Senior Warden Truro. “We shared prayers and tears as we voted to recommend to the Truro parish this course of action. It was an extraordinary meeting."

The Falls Church Senior Warden Tom Wilson agreed. “With great sadness and yet firm conviction we took this initial step toward our respective votes,” he said.

This action comes following a discernment period by two of the largest and oldest parishes in the Diocese of Virginia. “In that time we studied, reflected, prayed, and engaged in deep and significant conversations not only in the Vestry, but also with the congregation and with the diocese,” Mr. Oakes said. “It became clear to us that this was the best direction for us to recommend to the parish."

“We have witnessed firsthand how the Episcopal Church has separated itself from the historic Christian faith of the Anglican Communion over the last few decades,” said Mr. Wilson. “Both Truro and The Falls Church have had to come to grips with the direction TEC is moving. We are at an historic crossroads.”

Other Episcopal congregations are also preparing to vote, as the crisis in the Anglican Communion - precipitated by the recent actions of the TEC General Conventions in 2003 and 2006 - continues to deepen and divide. “It is clear that there is a division in the Episcopal Church,” said Mr. Oakes. “Our next step is for our congregations to pray and reflect on the Vestries’ recommendations as we continue to move forward.”

The congregational voting begins December 10.

For more information, visit http://trurochurch.org and http://thefallschurch.org.

We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.
















"Come, follow me," Jesus said.
Matthew 4:19

Friday, November 10, 2006

Oswald Chambers for Today: The Aim of Life

Another timely reading from Oswald Chambers, for today, Nov. 10:

After sanctification it is difficult to state what your aim in life is, because God has taken you up into His purpose by the Holy Ghost; He is using you now for His purposes throughout the world as He used His Son for the purpose of our salvation. If you seek great things for yourself - God has called me for this and that; you are putting a barrier to God's use of you. As long as you have a personal interest in your own character, or any set ambition, you cannot get through into identification with God's interests. You can only get there by losing for ever any idea of yourself and by letting God take you right out into His purpose for the world, and because your goings are of the Lord, you can never understand your ways.

I have to learn that the aim in life is God's, not mine. God is using me from His great personal standpoint, and all He asks of me is that I trust Him.

Oswald Chambes
My Utmost for His Highest
November 10

Just for the Record: Time Out for "Book Seven" Ending Predictions

There's a new interview with the actor who portrays Harry Potter in the films offering his prediction that Harry will die in Book 7. ""I think it will be something to do with the fact that ... maybe the only way Voldemort can be killed is if Harry is killed as well," said Daniel Radcliff, comparing Harry and Voldemort to Sherlock Holmes and Moriarty. "I think, personally, ... that's the only way [author J.K. Rowling] could ever halt any call for her to keep writing [Potter books], because, I mean, if Harry survives, she'll just be getting plagued by requests to write an eighth book for the rest of her life."

I will admit here that I think the same thing. Gasp. But I do think Harry will sacrifice himself to save the Wizarding World. Today I posted this over at the Leaky Cauldronand it's a short synopsis of what I believe may be in the ending of the seventh and final book of the Harry Potter series

Here it is:

I still think that the time turner plays a part in the last scene of book seven. Could it be that a seventeen-year-old Harry and Voldemort II meets Baby Harry and Voldemort I in the past - something Voldemort knows now. Remember how we are told that when the same people meet terrible things happen - perhaps something like a house exploding?

Yes, I think 17 year old Harry dies, but Baby Harry survives and so the story starts over again. And we'll be reading it over and over and over for the rest of our lives.

In which case, Jo Rowling has a severe case of James Joyce.

What do you think?

bb

Thursday, November 09, 2006

BREAKING NEWS: From the Diocese of Virginia

NEWS RELEASE

November 9, 2006

Diocese of Virginia, All Saints’ Church Agree on Disposition of Property

Contacts:

For the Diocese of Virginia: Patrick Getlein: 800-346-2373 x30
For the Standing Committee: Sarah Bartenstein: 804-288-3318 x323
For All Saints’, Dale City: The Rev. John Guernsey: 703-670-0093 x7

Today, the Bishop of Virginia, the diocesan Standing Committee, the diocesan Executive Board and the Vestry of All Saints’ Church, Dale City announce that they have reached an agreement on the disposition of real and personal property in the event that the congregation of All Saints’ Church votes to end its affiliation with The Episcopal Church and the Diocese of Virginia when it holds a congregational meeting in early December.

“I believe today we have reached an agreement that shows forth the fruits of Christian charity to our brothers and sisters at All Saints’, while honoring our responsibility as stewards of property in the Diocese of Virginia,” said the Rt. Rev. Peter James Lee, Bishop of Virginia.

Bishop Lee said his fervent hope is that the people of All Saints’ will not vote to leave The Episcopal Church.

“Should that be their choice,” he said, “we will solemnly mourn their departure.” In the event they do vote to depart, he said, “this agreement provides a faithful way forward for this particular situation.”

“In this time of division within the Episcopal Church and even our own diocese, we are grateful to God and to each other that we were able to reach an amicable, Christ-like resolution of our differences,” said the Rev. John Guernsey, rector of All Saints’. “This agreement enables both All Saints’ and the Diocese to move ahead with our respective missions and the work of ministering God’s love to people in Virginia. We pray the very best for one another as we go forward.

Though details of the agreement are not public, the general provisions provide for the transfer of title to the consecrated property on Saratoga Lane – the church building where the congregation currently worships -- from trustees for the congregation to the Diocese. The Saratoga Lane property is subject to a mortgage of about $188,000 from the Diocesan Missionary Society which the Diocese has agreed to assume.

The Diocese will lease the property to the congregation for five years at $1 rent per year while All Saints’ proceeds with a building program on other property. The congregation will bear responsibility for all costs associated with use of the Saratoga Lane property, including utilities, insurance, routine maintenance and capital repair.

In addition, the Diocese has agreed to release its claim to a piece of unimproved, unconsecrated property on Gideon Drive in Dale City which the congregation purchased in 2001 with the expectation of building a new church. The congregation carries about $2.6 million in debt on the property. Since the purchase of the property, the congregation launched a capital campaign to pay the debt and begin the process of constructing the new facility. According to Mr. Guernsey, however, the congregation’s capacity to raise funds was significantly curtailed by the actions of the Episcopal Church’s General Convention.

The agreement also addresses All Saints’ obligations with respect to the dissolution of their parochial mission, Christ Our Lord, Lake Ridge.

The agreement, which has been approved by the Bishop, the Standing Committee, the Executive Board and the All Saints Vestry, is the product of nearly nine months of discussions involving representatives of all parties at various points throughout the process. Now that all parties have assented to the provisions in the agreement, any further action hinges on a vote by the congregation to depart The Episcopal Church.

The leadership of the All Saints’ has indicated that the congregation will take that vote in early December.

All parties to the agreement are satisfied with the result.

“We are grieved by the direction of the Episcopal Church, but we are thrilled finally to put the property issue behind us and move forward with our mission to be a church ‘overflowing with God’s love and healing power,’” said Mr. Guernsey. “This win-win agreement frees us to step into a new day for our congregation.”

“While we continue to hope and pray that the people of All Saints’ will remain in the Diocese of Virginia,” said Jean D. Reed, president of the Standing Committee, “we are grateful that we were able to develop a way to deal with the property should the congregation ultimately decide to leave.” He added, “Our deliberations with the leadership of All Saints’ were conducted in a spirit of Christian love, and respect for one another’s consciences.”

Col. Reed said, “Throughout these discussions, the members of the Standing Committee have been unified in our respect for the people of All Saints’ and unanimous in our hope that All Saints’ remain in the Diocese. We believe that our canonical responsibility is to be faithful stewards of the property and assets which have been acquired by generations of Episcopalians not only in our own day, but for generations to come.”