Thursday, May 31, 2007

Not so fast ... Lord Carey challenges Kenneth Kearon's media statements

BB NOTE: Lord Carey, Archbishop of Canterbury prior to Rowan Williams, has written a letter to the Church of England Newspaper where he takes on Kenneth Kearon, Anglican Communion Secretary, regarding his recent statements justifying the current withholding of Lambeth Invites to the CANA and AMiA bishops. Oops.


Kenneth Kearon suggests (CEN May 25) that the decision not to invite AMiA bishops, or the recently consecrated CANA Bishop, to the Lambeth Conference relates to a precedent I set in 2000…

…This, of course, was before 2003 when the Episcopal Church clearly signalled its abandonment of Communion norms, in spite of warnings from the Primates that the consecration of a practising homosexual bishop would ‘tear the fabric of the Communion’. It is not too much to say that everything has changed in the Anglican Communion as a result of the consecration of Gene Robinson.

The Archbishop of Canterbury’s prerogative to invite bishops to the Conference is a lonely, personal and important task. Before each Conference a number of careful decisions have to be taken, with the focus being on the well-being of the Communion. The circumstances facing each Archbishop of Canterbury will vary according to the needs of the hour.

For these reasons, I believe, that Dr Rowan Williams should not regard the advice he has evidently received that this matter is ‘fixed’ as necessarily binding on him in the very different circumstances of 2007.

Tip of the Tinfoil Hat to Thinking Anglicans.

LATER: The full text of Lord Carey is here at Anglican Mainstream.

NOTE: We'll break out the Romulan Ale if someone in the cafe can name the picture and its significance. We were having an ironic moment when we posted "Jerusalem," words by William Blake.

Anglican Summit: Common Cause Council of Bishops will meet in Pittsburgh (Sept. 25-28)

Common Cause Council of Bishops Set for Sept. 25 – 28

Bishops from the Anglican Communion Network, the Anglican Mission in the Americas (including the Anglican Coalition in Canada), the Convocation of Anglicans in North America, the Anglican Network in Canada, the Anglican Province of America, Forward in Faith North America and the Reformed Episcopal Church are invited to attend the first-ever Common Cause Council of Bishops in Pittsburgh, PA, September 25–28. Two of the Common Cause Partners, the American Anglican Council and Anglican Essentials Canada, are not ecclesial jurisdictions and do not have bishops. Several other Anglican jurisdictions are currently in the membership process.

Since its formation in 2004, Anglican bodies connected to each other through Common Cause have committed to working together for “a Biblical, missionary and united Anglicanism in North America.” Together, they have crafted a common theological statement and articles of federation. Both are being considered and adopted by each Common Cause Partner.

“By the time we meet, the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church will have given its response to the Anglican Communion as to its decision to ‘walk apart.’ By contrast, I expect our gathering to signal a new level of ‘walking together’ both with each other and with the wider Anglican world,” wrote Anglican Communion Network Moderator and Common Cause convener Bishop Robert Duncan. The meeting, said Bishop Duncan, is the result of many years of work toward Anglican unity, work responding to resolutions of both the Lambeth Conference of Bishops and The Episcopal Church’s General Convention.

Bishop Duncan went on to describe the purpose of the gathering as fivefold.

1) to take the Common Cause Partnership to the next level of development in mission together;

2) to showcase ministry initiatives of any of the partners that might be shared with all the partners (e.g., The Anglican Relief and Development Fund);

3) to share understandings of the purpose and role of bishops such that some common guidelines for the making of bishops relative to numbers of communicants and congregations might be developed;

4) to consider whether a permanent Common Cause College of Bishops might be created, in order that ever greater levels of communication, cooperation and collaboration can be built; and

5) to initiate discussion of the creation of an “Anglican Union” among the partners, moving forward the vision of the Primates of the Global South for a new “ecclesiastical structure of the Anglican Communion in the USA.”

“The Council of Bishops lacks the voice of the laity. It is not a full synod of the Common Cause Partners, but it is the next step agreed upon by the Common Cause Roundtable. While it is not the end of our journey, it does continue the trajectory of ever greater unity and ever closer cooperation between those of us who know Jesus as the only Lord. In the challenging weeks and months ahead, let us say our prayers, do the work before us and trust ‘that things which were cast down are being raised up, and things which had grown old are being made new,’” said Bishop Duncan.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007


From FoxNews and
Newsbusters today: A sampling from the interview (40th Anniversary Edition of Rolling Stone):

"Do you think it's gloomy on the horizon?" Rolling Stone Editor Jann Wenner asks Bob Dylan.

"In what sense do you mean?" says Dylan.

"Bob, come on," says Wenner.

"No, you come on. In what sense do you mean that?" Dylan says.

Wenner tries again: "We seem to be hell-bent on destruction. Do you worry about global warming?"

"Where's the global warming?" Dylan asks. "It's freezing here."


Read the whole thing here. Tip of the TinFoil Hat to RWB.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Breaking News: Six Congregations Join CANA

CANA Welcomes New Congregations

(Fairfax, Virginia) Congregations in Connecticut, Florida, and Colorado have joined the Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA) during the past several days. CANA now has 37 registered churches in 15 states plus the District of Columbia, plus several non-parochial priests ministering in Iraq, Israel, and the United States. The three new congregations are:

Trinity Church, Bristol, Connecticut
A pre-Revolutionary War parish that was established in 1747, Trinity Church built its first church building on Federal Hill Green in then New Cambridge in 1754. Trinity Church is one of the “Connecticut Six”, a group of Anglican congregations within the state of Connecticut who have sought to maintain their historic connections with the wider Anglican Communion despite continuing legal challenges initiated by the Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut. Today, Trinity Church is an active worshipping community of approximately 130 under the leadership of the Rev’d Donald Helmandollar.

Christ the King Anglican Church, St Augustine, Florida
A new congregation in America’s oldest city, Christ the King was formed initially by members of St. Cyprian Episcopal Church. They separated from he Episcopal Diocese of Florida after a forty-day period of discernment. They have a strong mission focus and an active ministry with young people. Today they are an ethnically diverse community of approximately 100 under the leadership of the Rev’d David Allert.

Grace Church and St Stephen’s, Colorado Springs, Colorado
A historic church founded in 187,2 and the “mother church” of several congregations in Colorado Springs, Grace Church was one of the first Episcopal churches established in Colorado. In recent years they have found themselves unable to follow the direction taken by the current leadership of The Episcopal Church and have just completed a discernment process that culminated in a congregational vote this past Saturday. The congregation voted with a 93% majority to separate from the Episcopal Diocese of Colorado and join CANA. They are an active worshiping community of approximately 550 under the leadership of the Rev’d Donald Armstrong.

Three other churches that have recently joined CANA include the following:

St Brendan’s, Washington, D.C.
St Brendan’s in the City is an emerging congregation in urban Washington, D.C. This congregation is particularly focused on social justice issues and inner-city ministry with marginalized people, as well as the contemplative life. St Brendan’s is led by the Rev’d Bill Haley who formerly served at The Falls Church (Falls Church, Virg.) as the founding pastor of Kairos and director of outreach.

Holy Trinity Anglican Church, Garland, Texas
This parish is a new congregation formed initially by members of Holy Trinity Episcopal in Garland. After spending more than a year wrestling with issues prompted by the crisis in The Episcopal Church, this congregation made their decision to separate from the Episcopal Diocese of Dallas and join CANA, walking away from their property and purchasing land for a new church plant. Today they are an active worshipping community of approximately 250 under the leadership of the Rev’d Lawrence Harrison.

Celebration Church, Fredericksburg, Virginia
Established as a new CANA congregation, Celebration Church has a vision to reach people in the greater Fredericksburg area. They are committed to building a community of faith that is both rooted in historic Anglican teaching but also engaged with the challenges of contemporary living. They are already an active worshipping community of approximately 60 under the leadership of the Rev’d Toby Larson.

“I am very pleased that CANA is providing a safe haven for faithful Anglicans in the U.S. who feel cut off from the worldwide Anglican Communion,” said the Rt. Rev’d Martyn Minns, Bishop of CANA. “I am also delighted that we are reaching out and planting new congregations. It is especially appropriate that new people are coming to faith and new churches are being established as we celebrate the beginning of the Christian movement on the Feast of Pentecost.”

TLC: Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry (TESM) Names former Dean John Rodgers as Interim

The Living Church reporting:

The Rt. Rev. John H. Rodgers, Jr., has been appointed interim dean at Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry. He will serve for one year beginning Aug. 1 while Trinity searches for a permanent successor for the Very Rev. Paul F.M. Zahl, who announced May 10 that he would resign effective at the end of July.

Bishop Rodgers is dean and president emeritus, having served as dean of Trinity from 1978 to 1990. He is also a trustee emeritus at Trinity and a former member of the faculty at Virginia Theological Seminary.

In 2000, Bishop Rodgers and the Rt. Rev. Charles H. Murphy III were consecrated bishops for the Anglican Mission in America (AMiA), part of the Anglican Church of Rwanda. Bishop Rodgers previously retired from active service with the AMiA.

“The board voted without hesitation to appoint Dr. Rodgers to this post,” said the Rev. Canon David H. Roseberry, chairman of the board of trustees at Trinity. “He is the perfect person to help guide our school through this transition, and he has the full support of the board and the faculty.”

Fr. Roseberry noted that Trinity has been accepting students who do not plan to pursue ordination in The Episcopal Church for more than 10 years, and the appointment of Bishop Rodgers is reflective of the multi-denominational character of the seminary alumni.

Walkin' in the Mystic Garden

BB NOTE: We've been hearing about the 1980 Gospel Dylan concerts for quite a while (but since much of the Dylan commentators would rather just forget those years, it's not been easy to either get an objective view on those concerts or to understand how his writing in those years fit into his entire lexicon. There are more articles and books now being written on the topic, but it isn't easy! Thanks to YouTube (and the amazing renkflv) we are able to see the concerts for ourselves (though they are still rare). One of the aspects of those Gospel concerts is that Dylan would talk to the audience about issues of faith. We've been suspecting that he was in the same sort of "revival" as we knew in California (1974-1975) or that Bono has talked about during those same years and this video shows that to be the case. With the events of today, it is sort of interesting to see it again. Not a bad idea to keep any eye on things up North, anyway. We must remember where the weapons are still pointed, even now. But let's not put on the tinfoil hats over that, quite yet.

Still, as we were watching this video (see below), we remembered a song off of Dylan's latest album. He often ends with a powerful "closing" track, and this one is the closing track of Modern Times. The lyrics are now up at and we include those as well. It's rather fascinating to juxtaposed this 1980's conversation with the audience from the stage in Toronto (what is it about Toronto, anyway?) and the closing song (hymn?) of Modern Times.

LATER: Zowie! Check this Reflection out at A Word on the Word- well, what do you think, Friends? In the old days, Dylan just said it. But who listened? Not many (Bono, maybe, and a host of Vineyard worship leaders). Looks like he's still writing the stuff - only now its integrated into his art. From Preaching to Poetry.

As I walked out tonight in the mystic garden
The wounded flowers were dangling from the vines
I was passing by yon cool and crystal fountain
Someone hit me from behind

Ain't talkin', just walkin'
Through this weary world of woe
Heart burnin', still yearnin'
No one on earth would ever know

They say prayer has the power to help
So pray from the mother
In the human heart an evil spirit can dwell
I'm trying to love my neighbor and do good unto others
But oh, mother, things ain't going well

Ain't talkin', just walkin'
I'll burn that bridge before you can cross
Heart burnin', still yearnin'
They'll be no mercy for you once you've lost

Now I'm all worn down by weepin'
My eyes are filled with tears, my lips are dry
If I catch my opponents ever sleepin'
I'll just slaughter them where they lie

Ain't talkin', just walkin'
Through the world mysterious and vague
Heart burnin', still yearnin'
Walking through the cities of the plague

The whole world is filled with speculation
The whole wide world which people say is round
They will tear your mind away from contemplation
They will jump on your misfortune when you're down

Ain't talkin', just walkin'
Eatin' hog eyed grease in hog eyed town
Heart burnin' – still yearnin'
Someday you'll be glad to have me around

They will crush you with wealth and power
Every waking moment you could crack
I'll make the most of one last extra hour
I'll avenge my father's death then I'll step back

Ain't talkin', just walkin'
Hand me down my walkin' cane
Heart burnin', still yearnin'
Got to get you out of my miserable brain

All my loyal and much loved companions
They approve of me and share my code
I practice a faith that's been long abandoned
Ain't no altars on this long and lonesome road

Ain't talkin', just walkin'
My mule is sick, my horse is blind
Heart burnin', still yearnin'
Thinkin' ‘bout that gal I left behind

It's bright in the heavens and the wheels are flying
Fame and honor never seem to fade
The fire's gone out but the light is never dying
Who says I can't get heavenly aid?

Ain't talkin', just walkin'
Carrying a dead man's shield
Heart burnin', still yearnin'
Walkin' with a toothache in my heel

The suffering is unending
Every nook and cranny has it's tears
I'm not playing, I'm not pretending
I'm not nursing 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, 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

B. Dylan 2006

Or - as the Prayer Book says, Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again.

AFTER-THOUGHT: Here's a very good article, written in 2003 from Cross Rhythms (UK), that explores more recent albums and songs of Dylan, focusing on biblical themes, as well as commentary on "celebrity conversions" and what Dylan has been writing about through the 1990s ending with Time Out of Mind (a phrase we found used in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, interestingly enough). It makes for very good reading.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Memorial Day: Remembering Granddaddy

John William Ailes III

The Navy Cross is presented to John W. Ailes, Commander, U.S. Navy, for extraordinary heroism in the line of his profession as Commanding officer of the U.S.S. Cassin Young in action off Okinawa, Ryukyu Islands, on 12 April 1945. His conduct throughout was in keeping with the highest traditions of the Navy of the United States.

The Navy Cross is the second highest medal that can be awarded by the Department of the Navy and the second highest award given for valor. It is normally only awarded to members of the United States Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard but could be awarded to all branches of United States military. It was established by Act of Congress (Pub.L. 65-253) and approved on February 4, 1919. The Navy Cross is equivalent to the Distinguished Service Cross (Army) and the Air Force Cross.

April 1, 1945, was D-day at Okinawa. After escorting assault craft to the beaches and providing shore bombardment, Cassin Young took up the duties of radar picket ship, possibly the most hazardous duty performed by any warship during World War II. The picket's role was to provide early warning of impending air attacks to the main fleet. The ships assigned to the fifteen picket stations bore the brunt of over fifteen hundred kamikaze attacks in the weeks and months ahead. Radar Picket (RP) Stations 1,2, and 3 faced the worst of these attacks. On April 6 the Japanese launched the first of ten massed attacks, sending 355 kamikazes and 341 bombers towards Okinawa. Cassin Young was on duty at RP Station 3. The ship downed three "bogeys" (enemy planes) and picked up survivors from the destroyers assigned to RP Stations 1 and 2 (both were hit and sunk by kamikazes).

Cassin Young was then assigned to RP Station 1 where, on April 12, the ship came under massive attack. Six kamikazes were shot down, but one hit the mast and exploded fifty feet above the ship. One sailor was killed and 59 were wounded.

RADM John W. Ailes, III (1907-1974) was the commanding officer of the USS Cassin Young in April, 1945. He was a member of the crew of the USS Honolulu in Pearl Habor on December 7, 1941. In addition, he was the commanding officer of the Battleship, the USS Iowa (1955-1956) during the Korean War, was Commander Cruiser-Destroyer Flotilla 6 during the Cuban Missle Crisis (1962) and was Inspector General of the United States Navy.

But to me he was Granddaddy, always ready with a bottle of "Cherry Smash" and to take me fishing.

LATER: You can visit the USS Cassin Young. It is open to the public and moored next to the USS Constitution in Charlestown Harbor in Boston, MA. Read more about it at the webpage of the Boston National Historic Park. The tour includes Granddaddy's Cabin - restored to it's World War II period.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Sunday Afternoon Reflection: Rock of Ages

Bob Dylan in Atlantic City, 1999.

Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee;
Let the water and the blood,
From Thy wounded side which flowed,
Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee.

While I draw this fleeting breath,
When my eyelids close in death,
When I soar to worlds unknown,
Behold Thee on Thy judgement throne,
Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee.


Thanks, RWB. You are the best. Click link for more info!

Anglican TV: News Update

Kevin and Bill discuss: the AD, The Invitations, and a whole lot more!

BB NOTE: Great overview of the last two weeks of Anglican/Episcopal news (thanks, guys, for the kind words!). We would like to add another thought regarding the Lambeth Invites: We are thinking that in these months and days leading up to September that that it may be very helpful to remember that there are "four instruments of unity" in the Anglican Communion: Lambeth, the ACC (which is coordinated by the Anglican Communion Office), the Primates, and the Archbishop of Canterbury. Of the four instruments, the ACC is the closest to The Episcopal Church. Kenneth Kearon oversees that "instrument" out of the Anglican Communion Office. And it was Kenneth Kearon who spoke at the media event last week, opening up the Archbishop of Canterbury's mail and reading it to the world.

Does he speak for the entire Anglican Communion now? No. Does he speak for the Archbishop of Canterbury now? Possible (the old British Diplomatic Tactic of running the proverbial flag up the flagpole and see which way the wind is blowing - don't need a weatherman for that, right Bob?).
Did he just wake up on Tuesday morning and think, "Zowie! I've got a great idea!" (we think not).

Or is he perhaps speaking to the world with his Manhattan friends in mind? Note that KJS is telling TEC to shhhush.

What we do seem to have is as much "political intrigue" as we could ever find here in DC. The Lambeth Invites Media Event was a political move, not a theological one. What it reminds us here of at the Cafe (so much so, we think we will set one of these up permanently at one of the tables by the window) is, well - see photo
- and pass the Chai.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Report on the May 25th Meeting of the Clergy of the Diocese of VA with TEC Presiding Bishop, Katharine Jefferts Schori

BB NOTE: The following is an in-depth report on a meeting yesterday between the clergy of the Diocese of Virginia and the Presiding Bishop at Virginia Theological Seminary (VTS):

May 25 2007

Opening remarks by the PB:

PB: “One of the great gifts of serving in this position is that I get to travel around the church and see what’s going on. I get to meet people and hear stories about how the church lives its life in different places and contexts. And there’s enormous good news in that. Every diocese I have gone to visit has stories of health and vitality to tell. I discovered … last week that some people were annoyed by my talking about that. But I talk about that certainly because it’s true but also because it, I think it’s essential to counteract what the headlines have to say about the Episcopal Church, which is a tiny fraction of what is going on … the stories of health and vitality come from congregations and people and communities who are paying attention to the needs of their neighbors and are engaged in that mission to serve the world. I think that’s great and glorious good news and there simply needs to be more of it, and teach the other parts of the church or challenge other parts of the church to be about that work as well.”

“Now a conversation … just a word about “conversation” … it comes from a Latin word that means turn about, to go around with, to have dealings with, and it doesn’t come to mean what we mean as talking with each other til quite a bit later … “conversation” has that same constellation of meaning as the Hebrew word ‘yada , “to know” ... conversation is a way to begin to know each other in intimate ways, to hang out with other people, to come to know them. A conversation is one of the challenges, not just in this church but in our society. How do we have conversation that does not immediately lead to violence? You remember the flap about Don Imus and his comments about the Rutgers women’s basketball team? Well that was a violent conversation in many ways, and his language about the basketball players, ah their response was nonviolent. They said we just want to get together and talk, we want to have conversation with you … his words initially were words of judgment that these women were somehow less than I should pay attention to or not important to my life, they’re beneath me. And some of the commentators that challenged him and others were no different … Once we get to that point of conversation no one is going to come out of it in a gracious way. That leads to judgment through shutting off what we mean by conversation. I think as a church we have some capacity to model and teach a nonviolent way of having conversation. That’s something I think that’s a gift we have to offer not only in our own context but in that of the world around us. I long for conversations that build up … that create rather than destroy.”

Commentary: Many questions followed, and with them, many answers which often used the words ambiguity and conversation. With each new presentation in her slow and measured monotone, the Presiding Bishop made it clear she highly values continuing dialogues with others without necessarily valuing coming to a place of agreement. The final place that we can find in theology is ambiguity. While we may start by seeing things far more clearly, like a child learning to read by learning the alphabet she said, we learn as we grow that language is far more complex and ambiguous. I suppose she intended to say that those who were growing in their faith would also be leaving behind childish certainty for a more mature sense of ambiguity. Her comment later in the proceedings gave a very clear insight into her way of working through all these issues. She said, “I have no clear answers, that’s what pastoral skill is about.” What we received then, was not clarity, but we were invited into a relationship with someone who wanted to offer her pastoral skill to us an anxious and worried folk. When she added, “The spirit continues to urge us into greater depth.” What shall we find in those depths? The bishop told us that what was needed was not to have people change their minds but to have a change of heart. It was not hard to imagine that the change needed was that of becoming more open to the ambiguities of life, less anxious, more inclusive, and less tied to theological or structural answers. “We are still living into the theology of the ’79 Prayer Book,” she offered, “and the shift in ways of being is even harder than the shift in ways of thinking.”

This change of being needs to be reflected in how we are the church she said in many different ways, including offering an interesting perspective on planting churches and evangelizing folk. She told again her story of the priest who sits in a Starbucks waiting for people to talk to him about God. She applauded the idea of sitting and waiting for people to tell us their stories of God because after doing so “maybe we will have some good news to share with them.” We need to reach out “rather than by imposing our own well-defined structures on them we need to open up places to hear the stories of others.” However, as a church planter it seems odd that so little emphasis would be placed on proclamation of the good news … That lead another church planter to ask the Bishop about her sense of the mission of Jesus in salvation. Her answer was:

PB: Our understanding as Christians is that Jesus is our salvation, that he died for the whole world. That said, we don’t necessarily know the mechanisms by which God saves the whole world … My understanding of idolatry includes the assumption that I can know and comprehend the way in which God saves people who are not overtly Christian. I understand that Jesus is my savior, I understand that Jesus is the savior of the whole world. But I am unwilling to do more than speculate about how God saves those who don’t profess to be Christians. I look at the fruits of the life of someone like Mahatma Ghandi and the Dhali Lama and I see Christ-like features …

The priest followed up by suggesting the Bishop spent more time saying what she would not say instead of affirming what she could say about Jesus. She responded by describing the difference between what she called apophatic and cataphatic faith:

PB: “… our tradition includes both a negative way of refraining from affirming that God is more than we can understand, and is beyond our comprehension and there’s a positive part of our tradition that says Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. And I hear you saying that you want a much more positive statement about it and that’s not from where I come. I can only offer what I can offer.”

A follow up question by another priest asked the Bishop what she does with the Great Commission. The priest asking said she felt the Great Commission had been watered down.

Bishop Jefferts-Shori responded that it was to be lived out by “teaching and forming and baptizing and nurturing and continuing to prod people to grow up into the full stature of Christ.” Absent from this answer was any value of evangelism. There seemed almost a reticence or bashfulness about spreading the Gospel to those who have not yet heard it.

A question about Bishop Robinson failure to be invited to Lambeth brought a new twist on the ides of conversation:

PB: “The conversation isn’t over yet … how can we be involved in this conversation in a way that offers yet another possibility? … So rather than having to come to one conclusion or the other let’s keep it open and see if we can find something more creative …”

Another priest stated his dissatisfaction with the Anglican Covenant, and asked the Bishop what she felt it meant to be an Anglican. Her response included these words:

PB: “… One hundred and forty years ago we did, as a communion, make some statement about what we felt the essentials of Anglicanism were and are in the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral. That’s been the basis of our conversations with other communities and other denominations for many years since. I think a big part of the push for something more clearly defined has to do with anxiety, with an unwillingness to live in the tension of two (contradictory) stories that can both be true … I think that the goal of increased conversation about identity and what it means to be an Anglican as well as an Episcopalian I think is enormously healthy …”

Another priest asked: “You started by talking about conversation and used the example of Don Imus and how speaking to people beneath you is not gracious. A question that comes out of my congregation is when they hear the words ‘a handful, a tiny minority a tiny fraction.’ There’s some question about how tiny it is and if it is growing in fact, and the comment I have to face is ‘Doesn’t that sound condescending to speak about these people as a tiny fraction?’ How would I respond to members of my congregation?”

Her response sounded familiar talking points:

PB: “I think it needs to be taken in its context … that the members of the congregations where a majority of members have voted to leave constitute about a half of one percent of the total congregations in the Episcopal Church. I do see that as a tiny minority …”

The priest did not seem satisfied with her answer and asked his question again. She responded:

PB: “Well I apologize if it sounds condescending. I am trying to report accurately what we understand is going on.”

The priest then commented: “So the ‘gracious conversation’ you said was the gift the church could offer … that conversation with the departing congregations would look like what?”

PB: “For those who have come now to the faithful conclusion that they can no longer be part of this body I think our task is to bless their journey and reassure people if they want to return the door’s open and we’ll keep the light on. We pray for the best for all communities …”

No one took the initiative to ask how praying for those communities and wishing them the best squared with the lawsuits pending against them. But then, the good Bishop may have only been trying out a new slogan for the Episcopal Church: “We’ll keep the light on for you.” After listening to her speak, though, it was clear that whatever light would be kept burning in the Episcopal church, it could not possibly be the light of Christ.

Commentary: What gets clearer is that in looking at faith you have to look at both the content of what is believed and the way in which someone believes. The content of her conversations is advanced, but the process of her faith is much less developed. This is what seems so confusing.

She appears to have a faith that encourages deep ambiguities and mysteries, when in fact that's the content of her faith, not her practice. That's what she says, not how she acts. No wonder so many of us feel marginalized by a person who says she is so concerned with people on the margins.

When she said, "I have no clear answers so it comes down to pastoral skill" I finally saw the light. The PB is all about pastoral skill. That's the highest value in her life, and no doubt why she has been lauded and raised to the highest levels in the church. She comes across as pastoral. Part of that skill comes through in her monotone and slow speech, the perfected skill of non-anxious presence. Part of her skill comes through in the content of her beliefs. But the how of her beliefs shows there is not space for others who hold contrary beliefs. Her value on conversation/relationship as the highest ideal points away from a the more highly developed faith that she seems to express in her words.

• What matters most is pastoral skill, and an outward impression of compassion. She will always act to protect this impression.

• When listening to the PB we need to look past the content and watch for the actions ... but then we knew that already.

• Those who applaud her are perhaps most interested in the calming presence she offers than in anything else she can teach

• To question her or stand against her ideas one has to do so without giving her any passion to work with, for she will very quickly discount any alternative answers as a "rush to judgment" or "people acting out of fear". It is simply not possible for the PB, given her process for thought/faith, to imagine that any smart/compassionate person could disagree with her conclusions. She may allow for them to do so, but she can't understand how it could happen.

The reporter is a member of the clergy of the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Inside The Bus

"I don't think he travels with family. I think he has that bus all to himself. I think inside the bus, I think he has books, he has a typewriter, he has some sort of outlet to listen to music. I think he's constantly listening to new music, or old music. But who knows? What does he do all day? Does he work on the next volume of his book? Does he write new songs?"

Rolling Stone magazine's associate editor Austin Scaggs reflecting that the constantly touring Dylan is just as mysterious in his 60s as he was 40 years ago.

He seems to get e-mail somehow - he must have one souped-up typewriter. One thing we do know, he better check who's driving the bus.

Bob Dylan kicks off his 2007 US Tour June 22nd and 23rd in Atlantic City, NJ.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Roundtable with Kendall Harmon, Matt Kennedy, and Geoff Chapman: The Lambeth Invites

Excellent StandFirm Roundtable with Matt Kennedy interviewing the Canon Kendall Harmon, Canon Theologian for the Diocese of South Carolina and the Rev. Geoff Chapman, rector of St. Stephen's Sewickly in the Diocese of Pittsburgh.

Happy 66th Birthday, Bob Dylan!

In honor of the Bard of the Cafe, we're celebrating! Pancakes are flying, cream pies are baking, pitchers of chai and butterbeer are flowing - it's all on the house today.

Thanks, Beatrice.

BB NOTE: We collect favorite Dylan performances at our All Along the Watchtower site. Enjoy!

UPDATE: The City of Duluth, MN has named a "cultural pathway" after Bob Dylan. Learn more at their special website on Bob Dylan Way. Bob Dylan was born in Duluth in 1941 and lived there until he was six, when his family moved to Hibling. Have added it to the list for the cross-country tour. Not sure exactly why this "path" was signficant for a six-year-old.

BUT WAIT, THERE'S MORE - Turns out that a British fan has figured out that Bob Dylan is not only a pioneer in music, the man who did the very first music video, the man who plugged in at Newport and started a revolution - he's also the Pioneer of Spam. Now we know why he wrote Tarantula. Fun reading here.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Maybe this is the solution Rowan is looking for?

Bishop Minns: What does all this mean?

BB NOTE: Bishop Minns, BIshop of CANA, writes to the CANA Churches on the recent flurry coming out of London. Here's an excerpt:

What does all this mean?

First of all it is clear that the Archbishop of Canterbury faces an impossible task – he is confronted by two irreconcilable truth claims. This has been the presenting problem from the beginning – that is the key issue with which the Windsor report wrestles. What Archbishop Rowan has chosen to do now, however, is to ignore the underlying issue and elevate process over principle.

Second, all of the various efforts at discipline resulting from several meetings and communiqués have been ignored. The Lambeth Conference has been reduced to a meeting where bishops and their spouses simply gather for group bible study, prayer and shared reflection. These are significant activities but hardly justify the enormous expense of such an extended and world-wide gathering. They also presume a shared understanding of what the Bible is, who Jesus is and what he has done for us. Without any such agreement how can there be a coherent gospel to present to a hurting world?

Third, the Windsor Report and the Dar es Salaam Communiqué clearly recognized that the various pastoral provisions for orthodox Anglicans within the U.S. - especially CANA - are in response to the defiant and unrepentant actions of the Episcopal Church since 2003. There is no moral equivalence between immoral living and a creative pastoral provision. To ignore this reality and to pretend that by simply excluding one or two individuals we can have business as usual is decidedly shortsighted.

Finally, we need to remember that all this confusion is simply one more phase of a global conflict for the soul of the Anglican Communion. I have no doubt that there will be many more media moments and decision points in the coming months. It is a profoundly important battle that has eternal significance. We would do well to reread Ephesians chapter 6 and remember that in the heat of the battle our call is to pray and stand firm!

One final observation: Nowhere in the announcement was any mention made of the unprecedented court battle that commenced in January and continues for eleven CANA congregations in Northern Virginia. This action, initiated by the Diocese of Virginia and the Presiding Bishop of TEC, continues in direct defiance of the Primates’ recommendations in Dar es Salaam; it is shameful behavior by those who declare themselves to be Christian leaders committed to reconciliation.

We are hopeful that the lawsuits will eventually be settled in our favor but this may take a very long time. It is a costly process that diverts needed energy and funds from vital ministry initiatives. One thing is clear, because of all the publicity we have almost unlimited opportunities to witness to the transforming love of God. We can all take heart in remembering that CANA was the place where Jesus transformed a disaster into a celebration – I believe that it still is, the miracle continues, and we will see a similar transformation in the coming days.

Read the letter in full here.

Please keep all rocks at the door

It took me a long time to figure out that this is not a drug song after all.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

And though these are days of great trial ...

Behold He comes
riding on the clouds
shining like the sun
at the trumpet call
lift your voice
in the year of Jubilee
and out of Zion's hill
Salvation comes.

Tonight at the BabyBlueCafe: A Hard Rain

"...Oh, what'll you do now, my blue-eyed son?
Oh, what'll you do now, my darling young one?
I'm a-goin' back out 'fore the rain starts a-fallin',
I'll walk to the depths of the deepest black forest,
Where the people are many and their hands are all empty,
Where the pellets of poison are flooding their waters,
Where the home in the valley meets the damp dirty prison,
Where the executioner's face is always well hidden,
Where hunger is ugly, where souls are forgotten,
Where black is the color, where none is the number,
And I'll tell it and think it and speak it and breathe it,
And reflect it from the mountain so all souls can see it,
Then I'll stand on the ocean until I start sinkin',
But I'll know my song well before I start singin',
And it's a hard, it's a hard, it's a hard, it's a hard,
It's a hard rain's a-gonna fall."

B. Dylan 1963

Patience, my friends - keep watch and pray ...

Lambeth is over a year away.

A lot will happen in that year.

Once again, the Anglican Communion Office - with Kenneth Kearon and Jim Rosenthall - stage a fascinating media event. But these decisions will not be made by those two - as much as they may wish it were so. They represent the only "instrument of unity" still aligned with The Episcopal Church. They know that much of the funding for Lambeth comes from The Episcopal Church. That they are opening up the Archbishop of Canterbury's mail and proclaiming it as a media event must cause Rome to shake his head in sorrow.

This is an Anglican community gathering - bishops are invited in community. No one should find out they are not invited to the party because Kenneth Kearon and Jim Rosenthall stage a press conference, no - not even Gene Robinson should be subject to such humiliation as he was today. Oh but wait, we'll let him come with another bishop, wink wink. Right.

And we also recall what the Archbishop of Canterbury actually says in his letter, " I have to reserve the right to withhold or withdraw invitations from bishops whose appointment, actions or manner of life have caused exceptionally serious division or scandal within the Communion. Indeed there are currently one or two cases on which I am seeking further advice."

Fourteen Months, dear friends, fourteen months - and before we get to Lambeth we must pass through September 30th. As Rowan Williams writes, "I reserve the right to withhold or withdraw invitations ..."

Invitations to Lambeth are in the mail

BB NOTE: Rowan Wiliams, Archbishop of Canterbury, has sent the following letter to bishops invited to Lambeth. Note one rather interesting sentence: "I have to reserve the right to withhold or withdraw invitations from bishops whose appointment, actions or manner of life have caused exceptionally serious division or scandal within the Communion." The question is: if Gene Robinson is one of those bishops, how will other TEC bishops respond?

Here is the full text of the letter sent today:

Dear Bishop,

I am delighted to invite you to the Lambeth Conference of 2008 and I very much look forward to our gathering together as bishops of the Anglican Communion.

The dates of the Conference are 16 July-4 August 2008 and I trust you will already have heard something of the vision for the Conference as it has been unfolding. It will focus on our equipping as bishops for leadership in mission and teaching, and it will also be an opportunity for all of us to strengthen our commitment to God’s mission and to our common life as a Communion. In connection with this latter point, we shall be devoting some time to thinking about the proposals for an Anglican Covenant, and about other ways in which we can deepen our sense of a common calling for us as interdependent members of the body of Christ.

This will be my third Lambeth Conference and I am very confident of the quality of the programme being developed for it. I want to offer my warm public thanks to all those from across the world who have worked so hard at planning this – especially the devoted Design Group under the Archbishop of Melanesia, those who attended the St Augustine’s Seminar last year, and our Conference Manager, Sue Parks. Their vision and their advice has been an inspiration at every stage so far. I am hugely excited by the possibilities the programme offers for a new and more effective style of meeting and learning, and for greater participation, which will help us grow together locally and internationally.

Because there has been quite a bit of speculation about invitations and the conditions that might be attached to them, I want to set out briefly what I think the Conference is and is not.

The Conference is a place where our experience of living out God’s mission can be shared. It is a place where we may be renewed for effective ministry. And it is a place where we can try and get more clarity about the limits of our diversity and the means of deepening our Communion, so we can speak together with conviction and clarity to the world. It is an occasion when the Archbishop of Canterbury exercises his privilege of calling his colleagues together, not to legislate but to discover and define something more about our common identity through prayer, listening to God’s Word and shared reflection. It is an occasion to rediscover the reality of the Church itself as a worldwide community united by the call and grace of Christ.

But the Lambeth Conference has no ‘constitution’ or formal powers; it is not a formal Synod or Council of the bishops of the Communion, which would require us to be absolutely clear about the standing of all the participants. An invitation to participate in the Conference has not in the past been a certificate of doctrinal orthodoxy. Coming to the Lambeth Conference does not commit you to accepting the position of others as necessarily a legitimate expression of Anglican doctrine and discipline, or to any action that would compromise your conscience or the integrity of your local church.
At a time when our common identity seems less clear that it once did, the temptation is to move further away from each other into those circles where we only related to those who completely agree with us. But the depth and seriousness of the issues that face us require us to discuss as fully and freely as we can, and no other forum offers the same opportunities for all to hear and consider, in the context of a common waiting on the Holy Spirit.

I have said, and repeat here, that coming to the Conference does not commit you to accepting every position held by other bishops as equally legitimate or true. But I hope it does commit us all to striving together for a more effective and coherent worldwide body, working for God’s glory and Christ’s Kingdom. The Instruments of Communion have offered for this purpose a set of resources and processes, focused on the Windsor Report and the Covenant proposals. My hope is that as we gather we can trust that your acceptance of the invitation carries a willingness to work with these tools to shape our future. I urge you all most strongly to strive during the intervening period to strengthen confidence and understanding between our provinces and not to undermine it.

At this point, and with the recommendations of the Windsor Report particularly in mind, I have to reserve the right to withhold or withdraw invitations from bishops whose appointment, actions or manner of life have caused exceptionally serious division or scandal within the Communion. Indeed there are currently one or two cases on which I am seeking further advice. I do not say this lightly, but I believe that we need to know as we meet that each participant recognises and honours the task set before us and that there is an adequate level of mutual trust between us about this. Such trust is a great deal harder to sustain if there are some involved who are generally seen as fundamentally compromising the efforts towards a credible and cohesive resolution.

I look forward with enthusiasm to the Conference and hope you will be able to attend, or your successor in the event that you retire in the meantime. My wife Jane will be writing with an invitation to the Spouses Conference which will run in parallel to the Lambeth Conference. Further communication to bishops will follow soon from the Lambeth Conference Office, including details of the costs and a reply slip on which you can respond formally to this invitation. It would be a great help if these replies were received by 31 July 2007. In the meantime, should you have any queries about the Lambeth Conference itself, or if you will be retiring before the Conference, please contact the Lambeth Conference Manager at the supplied email address or consult the Lambeth Conference website

I trust you and your diocese will join with me in praying for God’s gracious blessing of our time together.

Yours in Christ,



Press Media
Tuesday, from 12 Noon - 6 p.m.
The Revd Canon Kenneth Kearon,
Secretary General of the Anglican Communion
will be available for press media briefings (no interviews)
Direct line: +44 207 313 3925
From UK: 0207 313 3925


The Press Office – Lambeth Palace
London Se1 7JU
The Revd Jonathan Jennings
Ms Marie Papworth
0207 898 1280

The Communications Department
Anglican Communion Office
16 Tavistock Crescent, London W11 1AP
Canon Jim Rosenthal
0207 313 3909

Monday, May 21, 2007

Richmond Times Dispatch: Episcopal Dilemma - The Church Betrays Its Own

Richmond Times Dispatch
Sunday, May 20, 2007


Perhaps it is all too fitting that the latest flashpoint in the struggle for religious freedom is right here in Virginia. Those seeking religious liberty enshrined that idea in our Constitution. It is a grievous commentary that centuries later there is a growing rift between those of us desiring to freely worship and serve God, and those who threaten to keep us from doing so.

The recently formed Anglican District of Virginia is being embraced by the worldwide Anglican Communion -- 77 million members -- distinctly because we have chosen to hold steadfast to the faith and to Scripture. It was the Anglican Communion's authority that was formally rejected by The Episcopal Church (USA) at its 2003 convention.

Whatever schism that may be occurring was initiated, and has been perpetuated, by the Episcopal Church. We have argued unsuccessfully for years against the Episcopal Church's new course; now we have severed our ties to it. If it wants to continue on its prodigal course to revise and even reinvent Christianity, sadly, we can do nothing to stop it.

Unfortunately, the church does not intend to honor our decision to remain faithful to the scriptural authority it so forcefully rejects. Instead, the Episcopal Church and the Diocese of Virginia have undertaken lawsuits to force us from the very churches our parishioners and their families have worshiped in for generations.

THESE LAWSUITS have continued in spite of the clear message from the leaders of the worldwide Anglican Communion at its recent meeting in Tanzania. The Episcopal Church is out of step not just with us, but with Anglicans around the globe.

The Episcopal Church leaders' decision to chart their own theological path isn't enough for them; they want to take our houses of worship as well. They filed lawsuits claiming ownership even though their names are nowhere on the deeds of our churches. They have also taken this legal action despite repeated assurances they wanted to settle the issue amicably if our congregations voted to sever our ties to them.

Even now, lawyers for the Diocese of Virginia and the Episcopal Church continue legal maneuverings clearly designed to force our churches to spend money on legal defense when it could be spent on serving the community, missionary work overseas, and spreading the gospel. Personally suing individual leaders and members of these churches, many of whom serve voluntarily without any monetary compensation, is anything but Christian and can only further alienate the many people we all hope to reach with the love of Christ.

Whoever thought American citizens would have to fight for their own religious freedom against an American church in the land of religious freedom? The Episcopal Church and the Diocese of Virginia threaten to bring the full force of their legal and financial resources down upon Christians who simply want to worship and serve Christ freely and peacefully. Their betrayal only strengthens our resolve.

We always believed these property issues could be settled cordially and equitably. We were disappointed when the Episcopal Church chose to cut off negotiations and stunned when they filed lawsuits against our churches, clergy, and elected lay leaders.

IT'S HARD TO understand the Episcopal Church's motivation for attacking us. In good conscience we are remaining steadfast in our faith and have chosen to affirm the authority of Scripture and the worldwide Anglican Communion.

In its formal response to the Anglican Communion's call to return to the authority of Scripture, the Episcopal Church said: "We cannot accept what would be injurious to this Church and could well lead to its permanent division." Allow us to point out the painful irony of this statement, as it is the Episcopal Church's decision to reject the authority of God's word four years ago that has actually been gravely injurious. It was the decision then that has caused the division the Church's leaders claim they seek to avoid now.

In the meantime, while it appears the strategy of the Church and the diocese is to try to intimidate us through baseless lawsuits and unending litigation, they should know from history such threats only strengthen resistance and invite allies. And our history further teaches that those seeking religious freedom eventually secure the blessings of that liberty.

James Oakes, senior warden of Truro Church in Fairfax, is vice chairman of the Anglican District of Virginia.

Church Schism set for Virginia Court Today

From today's edition of the Washington Times

By Julia Duin
Published May 21, 2007

The mother of all lawsuits pitting Episcopalian against Anglican kicks off today in the red-brick confines of Fairfax County Circuit Court.

The case has amassed numerous court filings involving 11 churches, two dozen lawyers, 107 individuals, the 90,000-member Diocese of Virginia, the 2.3 million-member Episcopal Church and the 18.5 million-member Anglican Province of Nigeria.

The Episcopal Church and its Virginia Diocese are suing 11 churches, their clergy and lay leaders for leaving the diocese last winter in order to join the Nigerian province. Since the 2003 consecration of the openly homosexual New Hampshire Bishop V. Gene Robinson, conservatives have been fleeing the denomination.

Some of the nation's top law firms are involved in the fight, including the 750-attorney firm Goodwin Procter. One of its partners, David Beers, is chancellor for the Episcopal Church. Hourly rates for partners at the firm go as high as $475, according to filings in a 2006 case in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

The defendants are having to pony up huge amounts as well. The Falls Church, oldest of the 11 churches, has announced it will have a special collection June 10 to defray $342,576 in unpaid legal expenses.

Virginia Theological Seminary historian Robert Prichard said that in terms of the number of individuals and fair-market value of the historic properties, this may be the Episcopal Church's largest lawsuit ever.

He declined to predict the winner of the dispute. "I've got better sense than that," he said.

Circuit Judge Randy Bellows, no stranger to high-profile cases, will preside. He's the former assistant U.S. attorney who was the lead prosecutor on the "American Taliban" case of John Walker Lindh, and the investigator called upon to examine how the FBI bungled its espionage probe of Taiwanese-American scientist Wen Ho Lee.

The plaintiffs' main complaint is not that several thousand people have exited the diocese, but that they took millions of dollars of church property with them.

The suit also charges that members who wanted to stay Episcopalian -- mostly tiny minorities, but in two cases, one-quarter of the parish -- were not granted separate services on church property.

"There were people who wanted to worship as Episcopalians," diocesan spokesman Patrick Getlein says. "They were denied that. That was really quite something for the bishop and the diocese to hear, that there were Episcopalians turned out of their churches."

Leaders of the departing churches say no one has been made to leave and that the diocese has made it impossible for 21 departing clergy -- all under an ecclesiastical "inhibition" order -- to function as Episcopal priests.

Mary McReynolds, chancellor of the Anglican District of Virginia, the new ecclesiastical body for the 11 churches, said the diocese and the churches hammered out a "protocol" allowing conservatives to leave. The diocese then appointed a property commission to look at the assets of each church and levy an amount each church must pay in order to leave. Then on Jan. 31, the diocese filed lawsuits against each of the 11 churches.

"The members of the property commission were embarrassed by this situation," she said. "It was such an about-face. It took 13 months to negotiate that protocol."

Leaders of the departing churches, she added, suspect the diocese was pressured by church headquarters in New York to fight for the property.

"The curious thing is, not only did [Virginia] Bishop [Peter J.] Lee do a 180-degree turn," she said, "but the Episcopal Church had a policy of all property matters deferring to the diocesan bishop."

Read the rest here.

Artwork by BB's nephew, Johnny Ailes, age 10.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

The Orlando Declaration


The following was drafted by the staff of Trinity Church, Vero Beach in the Diocese of Central Florida. The rector of this church was a deputy to General Convention and was my rector at Trinity Church, Newport, RI where I worshipped in college. It makes excellent reading - and it would be good to see the Windsor Bishops agree to this declaration when they meet.


Jesus said, “Let both grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.”

I. Jesus is the Only Sure Way

Wheat: "I am the Way and the Truth and the Life; no one comes to the Father except through me." John 14:6

The Holy Scriptures record the saving acts and words of the Word made flesh, Jesus Christ. To him alone do we need to listen in order to find life and peace.

Weed: false teachers seduce the faithful by insisting that there are other forms of divine revelation or that the Church can re-interpret the Scriptures without reference to the earliest and plainest interpreters.

We reject any attempt to preach Jesus as other than the Word reveals him to be.

II. Jesus’ Death and Resurrection

Wheat: “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.” I Cor. 15:3-5

The earliest believers witnessed with their own eyes the death and resurrection of the man Jesus of Nazareth. They understood those two events as in fulfillment of the prophecies given to the Jews over previous centuries. They maintained the veracity of their witness despite all manner of persecution.

Weed: false teachers, among them those vowed to be “guardians of the faith,” are undermining the historic proclamation upon which the Christian faith rests. They deny the Resurrection. They deny the preaching of Paul.

We reject all teaching and preaching which denies the ancient witness of the Church to the historicity of the death and resurrection of Jesus, called Christ.

III. Holy Baptism

Wheat: Jesus said, “Go…baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you…” Mt. 28:19-20a

The Holy Spirit in Baptism marks the individual as having a new birth. That same Spirit assures that former sins are forgiven, faith is strengthened, and adoption as God’s own child is confirmed. The Sacrament also differentiates the Christian from the non-Christian, thereby sealing the new Christian as part of God’s Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. But the Sacrament must be done rightly, with the individual or his sponsors prepared to make full renunciation of Satan, sincere repentance for his sins, and complete acceptance of Jesus as his Lord and Savior.

Weed: under the guise of being inclusive, some clergy are offering baptism to all who offer themselves, regardless of whether the offerer is prepared to receive the Sacrament rightly. Such casual baptism degrades the Sacrament and insults the Church. Over the centuries millions of saints have died for no greater an offense than that of being baptized. A rank injustice is done to their memory by cheapening baptism.

We reject the ministries of any who would offer baptism without calling for the renunciation of Satan, the repentance of sin, and the acceptance of Jesus as Lord and Savior.

IV. Holy Communion

Wheat: “For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, ‘This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.’ For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.” I Cor. 11:23-26

The grace conveyed in the Sacrament may only be received in a worthy manner. That worthiness is a gift of the Holy Spirit only for those baptized believers who are repentant and who approach the Sacrament reconciled with the Lord and with others. To those who receive it thus, the Sacrament yields the fruit both of remembrance and of presence.

Weed: clergy who promote the casual reception of the Sacrament in the name of hospitality in fact deceive those who so receive. The Scriptures make it plain that to receive the Sacrament in an unworthy manner invites God’s judgment, not his joy.

We reject any teaching and practice which invites the unbaptized to share in the Lord’s Supper. Moreover, we reject as false fellowship all casual use of the Sacrament.

V. Beauty and Order in Worship

Wheat: “…[in worship] all things should be done decently and in order.” I Cor. 14:40

While the Holy Spirit bestows differing gifts on individuals, when the Body comes together to worship, behaviors which unite should be paramount. Order and decency in worship are not synonymous with dullness; rather, they seek to unite the believers. When so united, the believers transcend individual idiosyncrasies and preferences in favor of lifting one heart to the Lord of all.

One of the great strengths of historic Anglicanism has been its Book of Common Prayer. Indeed, other denominations have used it as a model for corporate worship. More important even than the Book, however, has been the tacit agreement of all present to follow the service as printed and as prayed.

Weed: in many churches today the rubrics of the Book of Common Prayer, indeed, the use of the Book of Common Prayer, are ignored. In some cases the clergy simply cut and paste whatever liturgy they happen to like that week. In other cases the laity replace whatever words they dislike, for whatever reason, with words they do like. Example -- Book of Common Prayer, page 355 [emphasis added]:

Priest: Blessed be God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
People: And blessed be his kingdom, now and for ever. Amen.

Commonly heard in worship today:

Priest: Blessed be God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
50% of People: And blessed be God’s kingdom, now and for ever. Amen

The effect of such ad hoc editing of the order of worship is to create disorder. The disorder is such that one worshipper is left wondering why another made that change. Yet another worshipper gets annoyed immediately at the loud editing. Ultimately, the result is to deflect the worshippers’ attention from the Lord they would worship to each other and, even more sadly, each one to himself.

We reject the anarchy of individual editing in common worship. We decry its prevalence in the pews and in the chancels of our churches.

VI. Authority in the Church

Wheat: Jesus said, "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. It will not be so among you; but whoever wishes to have authority over you must be your servant." Matt. 20:25-26

The orders of ministry have been entrusted to the Church by Scriptures and by early tradition. They are given both to remind the whole Body of its ministries and, for the ordained, to charge them to serve the Church and the world in Christ’s name. The highest trust placed in the ordained leadership of the Church is the cure of souls in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Weed: among the ordained leadership in the Episcopal Church today one can find wolf men dressed as shepherds. Their exercise is not service but authority; not servanthood but lordship. Ignoring the higher trust of the faith once delivered to the saints, they invoke “fiduciary responsibility” to justify claiming power and property not their own. In so doing, they seek to devour the houses of prayer which widows’ mites have built.

We reject any exercise of ministry in the Church which seeks to overwhelm simple justice with power, privilege, and devious plans. We reject any use of canonical authority which wants to beat clergy into submission under false leadership.

VII. Balancing Evangelism and Service

Wheat: Jesus said, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations…” Mt. 28:19 Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.” Mt. 25:40

The delicate balance of our Lord’s two great orders requires the Church always to be vigilant not to prefer one over the other. The Church at work in the world needs to look to feed the soul as well as the body. It is not faithful to our Lord to omit one in favor of the other. William Wilberforce, the great English layman who led the abolition of slavery in that nation, may be the best recent example of an evangelical who cared for others’ bodies as well as their souls.

Weed: some in the Church speak of “mending Creation” as if were possible for us creatures so to do. By “mending Creation” they mean the righting of social ills to the neglect of spiritual ills, as if human beings were matter alone and not spirit. The Examination in the Baptismal Office is thereby effectively reduced from three renunciations –

- Do you renounce Satan and all the spiritual forces of wickedness that rebel against God?

- Do you renounce the evil powers of this world which corrupt and destroy the creatures of God?

- Do you renounce all evil desires that draw you from the love of God?

-- to one alone, that of renouncing the “evil powers of this world…”

Historically, some have committed the equal and opposite error, that of seeking to cure souls while neglecting the needs of bodies.

We reject any error of balance in the mission of the Church. False and injurious teachers suggest that, since there is any number of paths to the divine, to proclaim the saving grace of Jesus Christ alone is to speak intolerance. Likewise, we reject a hollow piety which refuses to aid the needy unless they submit to the Gospel.

VIII. Jesus Changes Lives

Wheat: “By [God’s] great mercy we have been born anew to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead…” I Pet. 1:3

Being born anew in Christ offers new life for the believer. In Christ, he can live in the confidence that the Holy Spirit wants to make him a better person. He can share in working out God’s purpose for the world. He can look forward in joy to meeting Christ face to face. The Holy Spirit wants to transform his future without regard to his past, in order to free him to serve Jesus in the present.

This transformative power of the Holy Spirit is of unspeakable comfort to those trapped by their past, to those locked into addictions, and to those tired of life.

Weed: rather than preach that transformative power, many pulpits today ring with hollow words of affirmation. Those who seek preachers who make them comfortable, and those preachers who seek listeners who make them comfortable, have formed an unholy alliance. The theology of that alliance speaks of forgiveness but not sin, heaven but not hell, justice but not morality.

We reject those who preach the gospel of affirmation without the Word of transformation. They are false shepherds who will run away when the first sign of conflict appears.

Trinity Church

By D. Lorne Coyle, MDiv, Robert K. Stull, MA, Valerie A. Balius, MDiv, Jonathan G. Robbins, MDiv, and Brady Johnson, MMus, at Vero Beach, Florida, May, 2007, who invite you to signify your support of the Declaration.

Ancient Music finds new life in new century

One of the coolest things about being Anglican is that we have access not only to contemporary worship, but to ancient worship as well (at Truro we call it "blended worship). There are days - weeks (and for some perhaps, years) when music of the past - the far past - expresses our hearts in ways that contemporary worship does not. In some ways, the ancient is more contemporary then the music written today for the themes, the poetry, the focus goes straight through the scriptures and is timeless.

Thanks to via orthodoxy who posted at StandFirm here, we've discovered an extraordinary resource from our Orthodox brothers and sisters at Ancient Faith Radio. Currently, as this is written we are listening to the celebration of the Eucharist. We are told that we "post-moderns" are into this (it's confounding some church planters who focus on contemporary worship - which we love here - but there you are). There is something almost "other-worldly" about this music - and our Jewish roots are so clear in the music. This is music for the soul - and so we offer it today at the Cafe.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

An Interview with the Presiding Bishop (with commentary from BabyBlue)

BB NOTE: Katharine Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church, recently sat down with the American-Statesman for an interview. Pull up a chair and order a sandwich and let's take a look:

American-Statesman: I realized on my way over here I didn't prepare any questions about what it's like to be the first woman to hold this job. I think part of that is maybe we've come to a place where we're not as surprised.

Katharine Jefferts Schori: My sense, though, is, for women who grew up without female role models in the church, it's a big deal. For children, who are growing up with more egalitarian models of leadership, it's not likely to be such a big deal. I'm aware that I represent something because of who I am, my gender. That's important to some people. It's certainly not a focus of mine.

BB: While it may not be a big deal here either - it's a big deal to many not only in The Episcopal Church but in the Anglican Communion. Where is the gracious understanding that she is a pioneer - and not only for women also for men? We are in community with each other - it's not one or the other. How will men learn that women can lead in a relationship of mutual submission if she ignores the opportunity to make a difference - or just doesn't care? By dismissing that as "it's certainly not a focus of mine" leads here to do stuff like the unfortunate decision to wear shorts to meetings with the Primates in Dar Es Salaam. It's possible she didn't know or didn't care - and, sadly, that is a good illustration of her leadership so far in The Episcopal Church.

American-Statesman: I want to ask about that transition from the Roman tradition (attending a Catholic school) to the Anglican. I know you were young, so your faith wasn't fully formed, but how did the transition affect you?

Katharine Jefferts Schori: I had the gracious experience of going to a convent school directed by the Sacred Heart order, an order of French nuns. They were very structured but also willing to play. It was an experience of ordered freedom, which is something that Anglicanism takes quite seriously. So it's a consistent theme in my life. On feast days, we went to school and put on our gym suits instead of our uniforms. And I have vivid memories of these nuns in their full black habits gathering up all their skirts to run down the field to play kickball with us. So there was some real grace in that.

The Episcopal Church for me was a very different kind of church experience (from the large-scale Roman Catholic Latin Masses). It was an intimate community where people knew each other, where we knew the priest. He became a friend of my parents, and it was a place where people were invited to question, to ask questions, to wrestle with their faith.

BB: Gotta love her description of the Episcopal Church (we can see the press officers wincing in the corner - please pass them a pitcher of Butterbeer) where she describes TEC as "an intimate community" that was small enough that everyone knew their names and the priest is a family friend (which can all only happen if the church is under 50 people) and the point of church was not to learn how to become disciples of Jesus Christ or hear the Good News of Great Joy, but rather "it was a place where people were invited to question, to ask questions, to wrestle with their faith." No change, no transformation, no personal relationship with Jesus. It sounds like, well, Agnostics Anonymous.

American-Statesman: I want to talk about your commencement address. These people are about to go off into the world representing the Episcopal Church with all the knowledge they gathered from this seminary. What do you think is the most important thing they need to understand?

Katharine Jefferts Schori: I reminded them that they will give thanks for the things they have learned here, but they will soon discover they haven't learned everything they need to know, that we only learn a lot of that by doing it. Much of that has to do with learning to love the people God puts around you. In all their diversity and challenge and blessing. I talked, as well, about my recent trip to Honduras and what leadership looks like there, leadership that's willing to bless the seeds that are already planted, to see the possibility in people who have almost nothing, to identify that and name it and encourage it to grow. That people are competent once they're challenged to be competent.

BB: Was this why the graduates were bouncing around the Giant Beachball during the speech? How can they "discover they haven't learned everything the need to know" when the only place left is "a place where people are invited to question" but not get any answers. How will they learn what they don't know if all we do is "wrestle" with faith - not actually introduce people to Jesus? And where does He fit into this anyway?

American-Statesman: Let's talk about Bishop Akinola. You sent a letter to him asking him not to come to the U.S. and set up alternative episcopacies that would not recognize the Episcopal Church. He replied that it's ironic that you would ask him to follow custom when in fact your province has violated scriptural teachings on issues like homosexuality. Is there possibility for dialogue beyond this?

Katharine Jefferts Schori: I think the possibility for dialogue with him in particular is a challenge. The reality is that we have changed our scriptural understandings about all sorts of things, including sexual ethics. We teach something different about contraception than we did 50 years ago. We permit remarriage after divorce, despite what Jesus said about it. Homosexuality is the most recent in a long series of challenges. Bishop Akinola is arguing that we've changed our understanding. Yes, we have, but not wholly. It's a challenge to many people who don't want to talk about sexuality in public. If you look at attitudes toward sexuality in general, and homosexuality in particular, what they were like in this country 50 years ago, and compare it to what they're like in Nigeria today — pretty similar.

BB: Once again the press officers are wincing in the corner. She admits that TEC has "changed our scriptural understandings about all sorts of things, including sexual ethics." So where Scripture doesn't match the latest American cultural innovations, well - let's toss those "questionable" Scriptures out the wahoo and by the way, let's make a list of all things we've gone off the rails over, only let's call it all blessed! Divorce is rampant among the clergy and now the bishops (TEC now has a thrice married bishop in Northern California) and let's just celebrate that great success. She admits that "we've changed our understanding" of Scripture and then seems to think that Nigeria is fifty years behind America in theological understanding - the arrogance in this statement, the presumption is just staggering. Please, would someone pass the pitcher of Butterbeer over to the TEC press officers at the corner table?

American-Statesman: You are leading a denomination that is aging. It's not growing overall here (in the U.S.). How can you invigorate the church and keep it vibrant and relevant?

Katharine Jefferts Schori: Part of our challenge is to see the people who are around us, who may not be Anglo, who may not be primarily English-speaking, and say: "Here is a field ripe for harvest, even though we might not have done work as a church there before." The most rapidly growing parts of this church as a church are in some of those overseas dioceses like Haiti and Honduras and Dominican Republic. More forward-thinking dioceses are looking at the demographics and focusing their efforts on people who are there, not the people they wish were there or the people they're used to being there.

There's a young priest in Virginia who's starting a congregation. He talked about his way of gathering people to begin that conversation. He said, "One of the things I do is go to Starbucks and I sit down at a table and I put out this little paper tent that says 'Tell me your stories about God.' " It speaks to the reality of spiritual hunger of folks who may not have any experience with church at all. It means going out and speaking good news or listening to people and then offering news that fits. News that addresses the bad news that they're talking about.

BB: Oh dear, pass me the pitcher of Butterbeer (haven't yet seen this guy at any Starbucks in Virginia - but we'll be on the lookout). The irony is staggering. Forget about the Global South, friends. Forget about Archbishop Orombi (pictured) who obviously doesn't count. "More forward-thinking dioceses are looking at the demographics and focusing their efforts on people who are there, not the people they wish were there or the people they're used to being there." I can't even begin to unpack this one - I don't know whether to laugh or scream. "Forward-thinking dioceses" are looking at "demographics" and are "focusing their efforts on people who are there" - meaning the handful still in the pews, never mind the thousands and millions outside the doors who are in spiritual wilderness with little hope of finding their way through? Is she really saying forget about them and only care about those "who are there" and forget about evangelism? This is "forward-thinking?" Which means Nigeria and Uganda and other countries that are bringing millions to Jesus are "backward?"

Actually, the more we read this response, the more we are not sure what she's saying when she says that the "forward thinkers" are "focusing their efforts on people who are there, not the people they wish were there or the people they're used to being there" or "listening to people and then offering news that fits." If the teaching of the church is changing and it's not based on scripture anymore, but in making the gospel fit the culture which may or may not find Episcopalians sitting in the pews this week or next week, exactly what does the church stand for? She sounds like she's recruiting for the local Country Club, only it's not about golf anymore, it's about hopscotch.

American-Statesman: Are you meeting any resistance to this?

Katharine Jefferts Schori: I think some people expect that the church should look like the church did when they were 15. The reality is, the church doesn't live unless it continues to change. And it's struggled with who's in and who's out from the very beginning. The first great controversies were about whether or not gentiles could be followers of Jesus. Do they have to be circumcised? Do they have to follow the dietary laws? We have struggled over and over again in this country with the place of slaves, African Americans, the place of immigrants, the place of women in the church. Today it's about the place of gay and lesbian people. There will be another group next. I don't know who it will be, but it's our human nature to say (we want) people like us.

BB: The churches that I went to when I was fifteen was a vibrant Chapel at Pearl Harbor and an evangelistic gathering on the beach in Waikiki. That beach community is looking mighty good right now.

She must assuming her audience is very old and very old Episcopalians at that - that it's full of Country Clubbers with Trust Funds. And by the way, this is not a good answer if - on one hand - she's saying that "forward thinking" dioceses are focusing on "people who are there" while at the same time smashing those same people as being "people like us." What she's laying out here is a huge guilt trip on the remnant in the pews - it's not about transformation through a personal relationship with Jesus, it's about demographics and charts and forward thinking. She says its all about a struggle "with who's in and who's out." She makes TEC sound like a Country Club with restricted membership. Once again, it's not clear if she just doesn't know - or she just doesn't care. We can change the drapes and bring a guitar or a pipe organ (or even have church on a beach) - but what doesn't change is more important than what does. I heard the Gospel preached on that beach when I was fifteen and I saw lives transformed, often radically. It's ironic that she wants all the historic properties with their unchanging facades - but what all goes on inside them, well, anything goes.

The greatest irony is that she's not listening to the very people she says are not in the pews - people of color who are in dioceses and provinces that are growing, even under persecution. She stands there with emptying pews and agnostic sentiments and calls it forwarding thinking and those that are on fire for the Gospel of Jesus Christ are, well, still living in the 1950's - the last time the Episcopal Church grew.