Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Transcript: The Full Text of Bishop Sandy Millar's Sermon at Truro: "Do You Love Me?"

BB NOTE: With grateful thanks to the incredible "pageantmaster" for transcribing the sermon from the video found here and ElfGirl for sending it to me from her undisclosed location. God bless you!

The wind is blowing, and the Lord’s promise is as real today as ever it was. As far as you can, put the unpleasant things behind you. The Lord is doing a NEW THING do you not see it? There are thousands out there waiting to hear that God loves them. There is a task to be done before the Lord returns. There are millions of people to be touched with that sense of joy and peace and purpose and grace and forgiveness and love which you carry as the messengers for God. But it starts, it continues and it ends with Peter’s cry from the heart ‘Lord, you know everything’ ‘You know that I love you’. And Jesus’ kind reply ‘Feed my sheep’. -Bishop Sandy Millar

UPDATED BB NOTE: The sermon is now up on iTunes. You can click on the player above or go to iTunes and download it to your iPod or computer. The iTunes Podcast is called BabyBlueOnline. You can also click here.

Sermon on the Installation of the Rev. Tory Baucum
at Truro Church October 28th 2007
Bishop Sandy Millar

Pt 1
I want to say first of all what a huge privilege and treat it is for my wife and for me to be here with you this morning. I have heard so much about you, and ah, all of it good [laughter] all of it good and we’re just so thrilled on this auspicious day. It’s a wonderful day for the kingdom, it’s a wonderful day for the church here, and it’s a wonderful day for Tory and Elizabeth and their little family.

I want to speak for the few minutes that we have around that passage in John 21 where Jesus looks at the expectant, slightly apprehensive face of one of his closest friends. ‘Simon’ he says, ‘Simon, son of John’ [that was the name that he had used when he had blessed him only a few weeks before] ‘Simon, son of John, do you truly love me, more than all of these?’

I think it is the key question. It’s the most important question that we can ever have to face: ‘Do you love me?’ And the question as you remember from the story was around the fire beside the lake and as you picture the scene, I can’t believe it was far from Peter’s mind the fire he had been sitting around in the courtyard of the high priest where he had found himself cornered by people that we would say were really not usually threatening people. ‘I don’t know the man’ he said. ‘I tell you I don’t know him, I don’t know him’. Three times - and I can’t believe the memory of that awful evening will ever leave Peter, and here he was again, by the fire. He wept and wept and wept with remorse and guilt, and that question, the key question in life when Jesus looks at YOU and me: ‘Do you truly love me more than these?’

And do you know I think it is true that Jesus draws near to us at different stages in our life and different moments, always with great love as we try to battle with some of the great questions, the real questions in life, like: Can I ever be forgiven? Is there a way back? And we begin to see, sometimes dimly through our tears, Jesus being nailed to the cross. And as they drive in the nails on the one hand he takes every sin that has ever been committed and on the other he takes every sin that’s ever going to be committed – and as he hung there he cried out ‘its finished’. ‘Its finished’ as we have been singing about the last few minutes – and died. He died for you, for you and for me and the way into God’s presence became clear and open, and as we cling to the cross we hear deep down in our innermost being that whisper: ‘My son, my daughter – you are forgiven - I love you – go and sin no more – you are free.’ You are free from the pagan gods that bedevil us every stage in our lives, the gods that are no gods actually, free from the spirits that entrap you, enslave you. You are free.

Key questions, not just that one of course but key questions like: Is there any point in life? What are we here for? Some years ago my godly predecessor had two very young children and he had in his house a very sweet Dutch girl who came to help them with the children and she didn’t speak very good English and the children were fighting, and she heard it from upstairs. And she went down into the room where they were fighting and she threw open the door and – there was obviously a slight scene of devastation - and she raised her voice at these children and said: ‘What are you doing on earth?’ [laughter] and the deeply philosophical nature of the question escaped the children – but it doesn’t escape us. It’s a very real question. What happens after death? Will I ever see my loved ones again? Will I see my parents again?

It is questions like these and I know many of you will know that we look at on Alpha and the Alpha course. Which is of course 15 sessions over 10 weeks, and we look at the very basic questions of life: who is Jesus? Why did he die? How and why should I read the bible? How and why should I pray? Does God heal today? Who is the Holy Spirit? What does he do? How can I be filled with the Holy Spirit? Questions that many people in the world today, many people out there who won’t be in any church today at all would love to ask if they got the chance. If they could find a setting in which they were not made to feel guilty and not made to look stupid. Just a chance to ask some questions from some people who might be thought to know the answers. And as some of you will know, the Alpha Course has taken off all over the world. I can speak about it because I really just ran behind Nicky Gumbel who developed it. But it is running in 162 countries I think now all over the world because there is a hunger for Jesus.

In the United Kingdom there are now 8,000 courses and it is beginning, beginning to make a difference. One of the things that I am most excited about really I think is that it is running in 85% of the prisons in the United Kingdom. I had a letter the other day from one of the prisoners who was doing Alpha. He was a long term prisoner, he has been there for a long time and other things being equal he will be there for a long time to come. But he did the Alpha Course, and he wrote at the end of the evening in back of the bible, they gave him a bible, and obviously he couldn’t immediately see a huge need for the page that covered the ‘Jerusalem in the Old Testament times’. So he wrote what he wanted to write all over that. What he said was this, the spelling is appalling. Something amazing, he wrote, happened tonight. I came back from the Alpha group and I prayed to you Lord about so much and I prayed around 20 minutes. And for the first time you felt real to me and I honestly in my heart felt your presence and you answered my prayer straightaway, because I picked up the bible and I read a large portion. But as soon as I opened it, it said: ‘we are not alone’, and it made perfect sense. You clearly showed me what to read because never before have I read the bible and understood your words. I am writing this down to remember your first words to me as I am truly touched in my heart and as I read it you need to have a personal relationship with you Lord. As I said the spelling is not good and actually it was quite difficult to read, but the theology is perfect. You need to have a personal relationship with you Lord.

Pt 2
‘Do you love me?’ Now there are of course two parts really to the wonderful way in which Jesus reinstates Peter in this passage. Three denials around the fire in the courtyard; three fresh affirmations, new starts around the fire beside the lake and I can’t believe again that this time with Jesus it must have been a very anxious time for Peter. He hadn’t really had a chance to talk to Jesus since that time when he had denied him. And I can’t believe that this time around the lake was ever very far from Peter’s mind for the rest of his life.

The first part is his commission, his command, his call: ‘Feed my lambs’, ‘take care of my sheep’, ‘feed my sheep’, and the call of the church, the call of you Tory, the call if I may say so humbly of you, Bishop Minns, the call of me and each one of us is the same call, to find, to gather in, to take care of, to feed, the sheep that belong to God.

Not just the sheep that are in here today but the sheep that belong to God out there - every single human being in the world, because they do belong to God and he loves them. But before Jesus can entrust this eternal task to Peter, to Tory, to any Christian or any Christian community and before he can entrust this task to you the people of Truro he has to know, he has to establish the basis of ministry, his ministry.

There are lots of other ministries in the world that you can occupy yourself with until you die or the Lord returns but none of them is the ministry of Jesus necessarily. It’s his ministry that we want isn’t it? And before he can entrust that to you he has to know the answer to that basic question: ‘Do you love me more than all of these?’

We do not know who it was he was talking about with all of these. It may have been the worldly trappings that went with an established and quite successful fisherman on the Sea of Galilee: the boats, outboard motors, the nets [laughter], the allure of wealth and position, the career or the income. Or it may just have been a very simple question: ‘Do you love me more than other disciples love me?’ Whichever it was the question is the same, and the answer has to be as well. If the answer is yes, then the ministry is safe, the sheep are safe, the lambs are safe, if you love me.

Now Tory, you are taking on as you will know and you don’t need me really to remind you, a very precious responsibility. Father Raniero Cantalamessa your friend and my friend, indeed the Church’s friend was a preacher to the papal household. In his book on the Holy Spirit in the life of Jesus he tells us the story of Pope John XXIII which I hope will be an encouragement to you. He says in the early days of his time as Pope he would wake up with a start in the middle of the night with many many problems on his mind, each more harassing than the last. And he would say to himself: ‘I really must have a word with the Pope about that’ [laughter]. But suddenly remembering that he was the Pope [laughter] he would say: ‘ok, and then I’ll have a word with God about it’ and he soon relaxed back into deep sleep.

St Bernard of Clairvaux, the Cistercian house wrote a little paper called ‘De Consideratzioni’ which was written just about 920 years ago today at the invitation of Pope Eugenius who was elected in 1145, and he applies his lesson to the chief pastor of the church and it applies to the chief pastor anywhere.

At a certain point he asks permission to play the role of Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law and this is what he says to the Pope who is a former pupil of his ‘and I if I may humbly say to you: “do not trust too much,” he wrote, “to your present disposition. Nothing is so fixed in the soul as not to decay. I’m afraid that you will despair of an end to the many demands that are made upon you and you will become caloused. It would be much wiser to remove yourself from these demands even for a while than to allow yourself to be distracted by them and led little by little to a place that you certainly do not want to go. To where? To a hard heart. This indeed is the state to which these accursed demands can bring you if you go out as you have begun to devote yourself totally to them leaving no time or energy for yourself.”

And now Tory since everyone possesses you, make sure that you too are amongst those who possess you. Remember this, and not always or even often but at least sometimes give attention to yourself among the many others, or at least after them. “Do please”, he wrote, “have recourse to yourself.”

The same point was made to me recently by the Bishop of London with his usual flair for color and imagination he wants us all to remember that a priest in today’s church can very easily become like the proverbial frog in a pot of water that is gradually being brought to the boil. [Laughter] By the time that you realise the effect that the pressures of the job are having on you, bit by bit, it is too late, and you are boiled [laughter].

That is why you Tory and each of us, every Christian, has to face again and again every day really the penetrating question that our Lord asks with such love and with such grace, and he asks us for our sake: ‘Do you truly love me, more than all of these?’

The call therefore is clear and what a privilege it is to leave no stone unturned, no opportunity lost, to ensure in so far as we can that everyone, all nations have the opportunity, as we in Alpha put it, to explore the meaning of life, find Jesus, get excited about Jesus and set about the transformation of the society in which we live. In the words of John Wesley, and you Tory know more about John Wesley than I do: ‘do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the time you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can.

But there is a second part to Peter’s reinstatement and we’ve had it read to us a few minutes ago. If the first part is the call the second part is the cross, the cost. ‘I tell you the truth,’ Jesus said, ‘when you were younger you dressed yourself and you went where you wanted’ and to paraphrase his words ‘you did pretty well whatever you wanted to do’ ‘but when you are old you will stretch out your hands and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go,’ and St John adds that Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God and then he said to him: ‘follow me’.

And in due course, as we know, Peter was crucified in Rome upside down at his own request lest there be thought that there was any hint of comparison between his death and that of our Saviour’s.

Pt 3
Of course today may take on any number of forms. The apparent so-called ‘sacrifices’ that go with the job. The apparent ‘simplicity’ that seeks to follow the ancient paths of holiness and loyalty to Jesus and his word against an increasing tide of the liberal agenda from within the Church that threatens to sweep us from our biblical roots and anchorage out into the sea of secularity and sin - where religion has taken the place of faith - where the Church is generally accepted and esteemed as a social agency for her work in favour of peace and social justice, but is not tolerated as soon as she starts to speak about Jesus and his gospel.

As Father Raneiro recently reminded us, the same Father Raneiro, in the stories of Medieval battles including many described by Shakespeare there always comes a point where the orderly ranks of archers and cavalry and all the rest are broken and the fighting concentrates around the king, and that is where the final outcome of the battle will be decided. And for us too today the battle is taking place around the King, the person of Jesus Christ himself, in Jesus Christ the word of God, the son of God, the saviour of the world, and that is the real point of course at issue.

I am as some of you know, and I am proud to be, a bishop in the province of Uganda, and in Uganda we don’t need to be reminded that loyalty to Jesus may cost your life, but in the meantime, it may cost you many other things as well.

People of this parish and of this area, Truro, I have known Tory and Elizabeth and their family for, I don’t know how long, but quite a long time. In them you have, as I suspect you have guessed already a gem, a pastor who loves God and will love you. A pastor who cares deeply for all God’s people as yet not even in the fold as well as those who are in.

As I was praying for you recently I felt the Lord reminding me of that story you find in Mark Ch.6 where we are told the disciples were straining at the oars, the wind was against them and the waves were beating into the boat and we are told in St Mark’s gospel that they were making headway painfully - and I thought it was the Lord’s message to you bishop and to you Tory and the people of Truro.

The great thing about that story is that Jesus watched them. They didn’t know that but Jesus was on the top of the hill and he watched them as they made headway painfully. And we are told that Jesus came down the hill, it was 4 o’clock in the morning, quite late really. And he made as if to walk past them as they were in the boat and they saw him through the mist and they cried out to him and reached out for him and we are told of course they were terrified. We are told that he came in from the water, walking across the water and got with them into the boat. ‘Fear not’ he said: ‘It is I, take courage, don’t be afraid’ and then he climbed into the boat with them and the wind died down. And as Mark with his characteristic directness records it ‘they were completely amazed. I think it is one of the great understatements of the New Testament.[laughter].

I don’t need to remind you that there is a war on for the very soul of the Church. But your courage, if I may say this, humbly, and your steadfastness in the face of a new and speciously sophisticated manifestation of evil has won you many admirers all over the world.

And now I want to suggest to you – it’s time to GO FOR IT. To put up your sails for the wind of the Spirit is blowing. Look after each other, look after Tory and Elizabeth, that family; and Tory and Elizabeth, look after them.

The wind is blowing, and the Lord’s promise is as real today as ever it was. As far as you can, put the unpleasant things behind you. The Lord is doing a NEW THING do you not see it? There are thousands out there waiting to hear that God loves them. There is a task to be done before the Lord returns. There are millions of people to be touched with that sense of joy and peace and purpose and grace and forgiveness and love which you carry as the messengers for God. But it starts, it continues and it ends with Peter’s cry from the heart ‘Lord, you know everything’ ‘You know that I love you’. And Jesus’ kind reply ‘Feed my sheep’.

Let’s have a moment of quiet if we may and I would love to encourage any of you and each of you in your own way with the Lord to re-dedicate yourselves. Don’t get distracted now, time is short. Re-dedicate yourselves if you’d like to and I’m going to end with a little prayer in which you could do that. Re-dedicate yourselves to the service of God, to the welfare of the Church for whom Jesus is coming back and the glory of God’s name in this place. Here ends the prayer that you might like to pray:

Lord Jesus Christ, thank you for dying for me and for making it possible for me to be right with God and free and full of joy and purpose and love. Forgive me for the ways in the past I’ve got distracted, and I offer you myself today again for you to be my saviour and for me to be your son or your daughter because truly from my heart I want to tell you that with all my faults I do love you more than all of these.

Grant me grace to be effective in our ministry together
For Jesus Christ’s sake

The Rt. Rev'd Sandy Millar is the Missionary Bishop in London and former vicar of Holy Trinity Brompton. "A View From the Pew" video of the sermon is here.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Portrait of an Artist: Dylan's Artwork Collection "The Drawn Blank Series" opens in Germany

From USA Today:

CHEMNITZ, Germany (AP) — An exhibition of a unique collection of artworks by Bob Dylan, including variations of previously published drawings and sketches, has opened at a museum in this eastern German city.

Visitors flocked to the Kunstsammlungen Chemnitz museum Sunday to see the 170 colored versions of pictorial motifs by Dylan called The Drawn Blank Series.

The exhibit consists of drawings that Dylan produced between 1989 and 1992 and published in a book. Curator Ingrid Moessinger had 332 of the works specially reprinted and painted, and Dylan then selected 170 works for display.

"Bob Dylan selected the works for the exhibit himself," Moessinger said.

The pictures show scenes from daily life: portraits of women and men, still lifes, cityscapes and other places that Dylan, 66, observed during his travels. The exhibit runs through Feb. 3.

Read the whole thing here.

Monday, October 29, 2007

The Disappeared

Fascinating spinmeister article over at Episcopal Life trying to explain why Episcopal Church membership continues its decline (and in another article over here at Living Church we learn that the Episcopal Church has found itself with nearly two million dollar budget deficit as well - blamed on the beefing up of the 815 apparatus, no less!). But the part about the Diocese of Virginia is a whopper:

Measures are underway to reverse a portion of the largest decline in any of the Episcopal Church's nine Provinces reported in 2006 -- Province 3's 15,554-member drop owing primarily to the Diocese of Virginia's declaration of some 15 congregations "vacant" after a majority of members voted to affiliate with overseas dioceses. [Profiles of Vitality are available here.]

Yet continuing members of four of these congregations have remained, according to a report presented to Council, and are in the process of reconstituting their parishes -- which may result in future posting of at least some membership gains to offset 2006 losses.

15,554 reported members gone from Province 3 alone. Where did they go? Seems like it might be a good time for this song:

And catch the quote here that "continuing members of four of these congregations have remained ... and are in the process of reconstituting their parishes - which may result in future posting of at least some membership gains to offset 2006 losses." So four shadow congregations are tasked with making up the thousands and thousands of Episcopalians who are now "the disappeared?" And no reason given as to why those Episcopalians are now missing? I don't even have the words. Time to get out the worn copy of you know what.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Put out your sails, for the wind of the Spirit is blowing

Part One of Bishop Sandy Millar's sermon at the service for the Celebration of New Ministry of Tory Baucum as Rector of Truro Church:

Part Two of Bishop Sandy Millar's sermon:

And here Part Three, the conclusion of Sandy Millar's sermon:

"It's now time to go for it!"

I don't need to remind you that there is war on for the very soul of the Church. Your courage, if I may say this humbly, and your selflessness in the face of a very new and speciously and sophisticated manifestation of evil has won you more admirers all over the world. And now I want to suggest to you now it's time to go for it, to put out your sails for the wind of the Spirit is blowing ...

-Bishop Sandy Millar, Missionary Bishop in London at the installation of Tory Baucum as Rector of Truro, September 28, 2007

From the Call to Worship by the Spanish Ministry Music Team to the closing lines of the Hymn in Procession, "Ye Servants of God, Your Master Proclaim," it was an extraordinary service. The Church was packed as though it was Easter Sunday (we knew something was up when Richard Crocker, Associate Rector of Truro, came out front before the start of the service and did the "pew stuffing speech" to get everyone to embrace "close fellowship." From the Nave to the Transepts to the Balcony, every seat was taken for this day of Celebration of a New Ministry as Tory Baucum officially became the rector of Truro.

The opening hymn was my favorite:

Love divine, all loves excelling,
joy of heav'n, to earth come down,
Fix in us thy humble dwelling,
all thy faithful mercies crown.
Jesus, thou art all compassion,
pure unbounded love thou art;
visit it us with thy salvation,
enter every trembling heart.

Celebrating Charles Wesley's 300th birthday, many of the hymns this morning were penned by that amazing Anglican hymnwriter and brother of John Wesley. While the attention was certainly on Tory and his family, the center of it all, of the worship and the preaching was firmly fixed on Jesus. Bishop Sandy Millar's sermon was devoted to Jesus as the one we love and through whom we love others.

I did videoblog the service - I sat in the front transept pew and trained my webcam toward the front. I did capture all of Sandy Millar's sermon as well as other highlights of the service. They will be posted shortly, both here and on YouTube. Stay tuned!

Here is the Institution:

Here is the Gospel Reading.

Sandy Millar sermon is the post above this one.

Here is Tory Baucum's official induction as Rector of Truro:

Here is the Eucharist, Truro style:

The celebration was followed by an old fashioned bar-b-que and what are called "Bouncy Castles" in England for the kids (we call them Moon Bounces). It was a beautiful clear Virginia autumn day, and the leaves are just starting to turn. We even had visits from those running for office, lots of balloons and an abundance of English and African and Virginian accents. We had visitors from the Roman Catholic and Methodist Churches and the Dean of an Episcopal Seminary. Over plates of bar-b-que and potato salad and bakes beans we reflected that indeed, the time has come to go for it, to put out our sails for the wind of the Spirit is blowing, as Sandy said. May it be so!

Note: I will tell you that when you watch the "Institution" video, you may hear a little baby cry. But it wasn't just any baby, it was good friends Lief and Meghan's baby (Meghan was a fellow traveler at General Convention in Minneapolis 2003) - so we didn't mind at all. Not one bit!

Thanks for sharing this day - to God be the glory.


Saturday, October 27, 2007

Blogging the Alpha Conference

We're here at the Alpha Conference, hosted at Truro in Fairfax, VA. There are folks here from all over Virginia and beyond and it's great to see old friends and make new ones! I went to my first Alpha Course during my sabbatical in London when my uncle took me to Holy Trinity Brompton (HTB) on a Wednesday night in October 1994. The following year Truro hosted the first Alpha Conference in the U.S. The year after that I became an Alpha Advisor and my whole world opened up.

Last night Sandy Millar, who was the vicar of HTB and guided that parish through the process of creating the Alpha Course, was the speaker for the talk "How can I be filled with the Holy Spirit?" Now a missionary bishop in the Diocese of London (Church of England), Sandy kept focusing us on the author of our faith and the life the Lord brings to our ministry and to our lives. It was a great evening of worship, prayer, teaching and ministry. The Church was packed and there were times when I thought the roof was going to pop off.

Today are more teachings, seminars, worship, and ministry time. After weeks of drought the rain is now falling on Virginia, bringing water to a thirsty place. In these difficult days for the church, it's so good to have this focused time to remember the point of it all - to deepen our own walk with the Lord, to reach out to our communities with His love, and to share the Good News with all.

It also been a really good time to reconnect with friends. The last time I saw Sandy Millar I was with Jenny Noyes (now with the Anglican Communion Network) and some other friends in London. It was a Sunday night and we all would be leaving the next day to fly back to the States. Annette Millar had offered to drive Jenny to the airport - her flight was leaving last - but we had never connected with her while we are the service at HTB. So we walked over the rectory, but it looked to us the lights were either out or just about to go out. Jenny didn't know what she would do if she didn't connect with Annette - how would Annette ever find her in London (no cell phone!). So we tiptoed up to the rectory door and Jenny knocked. There was a long pause - we thought, oh no, they've all gone to sleep! But then the door opened and there was Sandy Millar, beaming as though we were long lost pilgrims having finally found our home. "Hello, Jenny!" he said with great enthusiasm, though it was clear to us he had been close to calling it a day. Then he invited us all in for tea and we spent the next few minutes sitting around the living room sharing about our time in London.

It's been a few years since that Sunday night in London, but the enthusiasm and the joy has not left Sandy's ministry. Other members of the Alpha team are here as well and it's great to reconnect and hear the stories of what has been going on in their lives. It's just so great to be reminded that the Lord is at work in His Church, that the borders of His love cannot be confined and reach out beyond our denominational ties. And it's great to see all these folks here at Truro, helping us remember why we are in this fight in the first place.

Last night as we were in worship, the upcoming trial in the Fairfax Court House came to my mind. What will happen? How will it happen? What will happen to us here at Truro? But as hundreds and hundreds of people gathered inside the walls of Truro Church last night, it seemed to be more clear to me than ever. We do the best we can with the tools God give us - but it's His work, His will to be done. Whatever happens, may our lives be a testimony of the work He is doing in us. "Not by power, not by might, but by My Spirit, says the Lord." May it be so.

LATER: Heard a great presentation on Noshota House (should have taken some photos!) during lunch from the Dean, Robert Munday. It was great hearing about that work going on at Nashotah, the commitment there to training clergy in the faith, and to see some great photos of the campus - what a beautiful place. The lunch followed a great time of learning more about ministry and prayer from Kim Swithenbank. After lunch Sandy Millar returned to talk about how to integrate Alpha into the church - it's not just a program, but a way to really make Jesus known. One of the things he talked about is how people are coming together out of their denominations at conferences such as this one - not forming a new denomination but forging friendships and shared ministry as though God is calling people together, no matter what their tribe (denomination) or nation. We are followers of Jesus first and when that is clear, we find we have much more in common with one another than we ever thought possible.

The turnout this weekend has been fantastic - this may be the fastest Alpha Conference ever put together (basically two months). In fact, one Alpha staff member called this the "Alpha Conference Shot Out of a Canon." I know it's just what BabyBlue needed. Even as this conference was going on, I was sent the list of those who will be testifying at the trial in two weeks and there are many interesting names on the list. You can't read the list and not feel the pain of the division. But at the same time, attending the Alpha Conference this weekend has offered me a place to lay my own burdens down, be prayed for, and also to pray for others, to encourage others - and find myself encouraged as well.

Tomorrow is the installation of Tory Baucum as rector of Truro Church. Martyn Minns will do the installation and Sandy Millar will be preaching. To God be the glory.


Friday, October 26, 2007

Anybody got an E Harmonica?

I lived in Newport, RI when I was in college and the days of the folk festivals were long past by the time I got there. We still had the annual jazz festival, but the type of gatherings we see in these video clips were long gone - though it looks like it may be back now - this time with donuts! (oh golly, what would these guys say?). Used to drive by the field at Ft. Adams where the classic Newport Folks Festivals were held all those years ago. The most excitement I remember happening when I lived in Newport was the Claus Von Bullo trial. And, of course, graduating.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Truro Hosts Alpha Conference: Evangelism Focus Draws Locals, International Anglican Leader

FAIRFAX, Va. (October 23, 2007) – An Alpha International conference, focused on exploring the Christian faith and the meaning of life, is coming to Truro Church in Fairfax, Va., on October 26 and 27. The Rt. Rev’d Sandy Millar, Missionary Bishop of London, one of the key founders of the Alpha course and former Vicar of Holy Trinity Brompton Church in London will be a featured speaker at the event. The present Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, has described him as “someone whose skill in communicating the gospel is bound up with being supremely and happily himself. God be thanked for him.” Lord Carey, a former Archbishop of Canterbury, has described him as “one of the great Christian leaders of our time.”

According to the Rev’d Tory Baucum, Rector of Truro Church, “Nearly twelve years ago, Truro hosted the first North American Alpha conference. Since then, the Alpha course has expanded into tens of thousands of churches of all denominations around the world. Eight million people worldwide have attended an Alpha course. The upcoming conference is an opportunity for churches all along the eastern seaboard to learn more about the course. But the conference is about more than Alpha itself; it’s about how to fulfill the Great Commission.”

The two day conference at Truro will feature several tracks, ranging from overview classes for churches wanting to put on an Alpha program to more hands on training for churches that have been running Alpha programs for some time and want to take the course to the next level. Additional training will be offered for pastors, and a strategy track will be offered for those wanting to "supercharge" their Alpha program. At the conclusion of the training conference, Tory Baucum will be formally installed as rector of Truro Church. He is one of the many leaders of Alpha and is currently the Alpha International Associate Missioner.

According to Jim Oakes, who serves as the vice-chairman for the Anglican District of Virginia (ADV) and is a vestry member at Truro Church, “The Alpha conference at Truro promises to be a wonderful event that will bring ADV leaders and parishioners together with other brothers and sisters in Christ to focus on evangelism and the core tenets of the Christian faith. This is important event is not only for those who are being introduced to Alpha for the first time, but also for church leaders who have spent years in ministry and know they need refreshment, even renewal.”

Alpha Conference
Dates: Friday, October 26 from 8:30am – 8:30pm ET and Saturday, October 27 from 8:00am – 3:30pm ET. (A full schedule is available upon request.)
Featured Event: On Friday, October 26 at 6:30pm ET Bishop Sandy Millar of London will be speaking in Truro’s main sanctuary. This session is free and open to all.
Location: Truro Church, 10520 Main Street, Fairfax, Virginia 22030
RSVP: For members of the media who wish to attend, please contact Kelly Oliver (ext. 140) or Megan Franko (ext. 148) at 703-683-5004.
For more information on Alpha, visit

Anglican District of Virginia ( members are in full communion with constituent members of the Anglican Communion through its affiliation with CANA, a missionary branch of the Church of Nigeria. ADV members are a part of the worldwide Anglican Communion, a community of 77 million people. ADV is dedicated to fulfilling Christ’s Great Commission to make disciples while actively serving in three main capacities: International Ministries, Evangelism, and Strengthening Families and Community. ADV is currently comprised of 20 member congregations, 16 of which are under the ecclesiastical authority of the Bishop of CANA, The Rt. Rev'd Martyn Minns, and four of which are ecclesiastical members under direct authority of other Anglican Archbishops, strongly supported by ADV members.

For media inquires, to attend the event or for more information, contact Kelly Oliver (ext. 140) or Megan Franko (ext. 148) at (703) 683-5004.

On the other hand ...

From Salon:

I am a devoted reader and admirer of J.K. Rowling, and it honestly pains me a bit to say this, but from a literary perspective, she's out of control here. Her abundant generosity with information is surely a response to a vast, insatiable fan base that does not have a high tolerance for never-ending suspense, ambiguity or nuance. As she told the "Today" show's Meredith Vieira back in July, "I'm dealing with a level of obsession in some of my fans that will not rest until they know the middle names of Harry's great-great-grandparents."

Rowling naturally wants to provide answers for these heartbroken obsessives who perhaps are too young to know the satisfying pleasures of perpetual yearning and feel that they must must must know how much money Harry makes and whether Luna has kids.

It would also be understandable if, after more than a decade of telling stories about this world and these characters, Rowling is unable to stop. She has been a great and comprehensive builder of a fictional universe, and she's famous for keeping reams of folders containing the back stories and astrological signs of every major and minor character ever to appear in her pages. One of the things that made the Potter books so good was the sense that Rowling had utter mastery over every corner of her realm. Who could blame her for wanting to keep the kids happy by doling out bits of it? It's not as though Rowling would be setting a precedent: J.R.R. Tolkien spent much of his post-Middle-earth life tinkering with the details of the world he created, and delighting and gratifying his adherents by providing them with additional information about it.

But when too much of the back story (and, more disconcertingly, the future story) gets revealed –- especially in an age in which an author is not simply sending letters to readers as Tolkien did, but making utterances that will be disseminated and analyzed by a global network of Web sites -- it seems to have not so much a gratifying effect as a deadening one.

My brother, an adult reader who has been irritated by Rowling's loquaciousness and was sent over the edge by this latest round of fortune-telling, said to me this weekend, "If she wants to tell us what happens, I wish she would write it in a book, because until she does, then as far as I'm concerned, she's just describing what's showing on the teeny TV screen inside her head, and that's not playing fair."

Given the ample -- somewhere north of 5,000 pages -- text that Rowling has already provided, from which her diligent and enthusiastic readers can mine theories and opinions of their own, her pronouncements are robbing us of the chance to let our imagination take over where she left off, one of the great treats of engaging with fictional narrative.

Would we be better off if Sofia Coppola had held a news conference after the 2003 premiere of "Lost in Translation" to announce that Bill Murray had whispered to Scarlett Johansson at the end of the movie that he'd had a great time with her in Tokyo? Perhaps Shakespeare could have stepped onstage after the conclusion of "Measure for Measure" and informed his audience, "Isabella accepts the Duke's proposal and they marry a few weeks later."

Salon book critic Laura Miller argues that the plot-driven, perpetually unfolding nature of Rowling's series makes it seem reasonable that she would continue to spin tales from it. That events in the Potter universe would continue to unfold makes more sense than the good-versus-evil climax with which she ended the last book. Miller says, "It doesn't surprise me that she secretly thinks of it as going on and on ... because that's the kind of material it is. It is not, say, 'Crime and Punishment,' where the very underpinnings of the story demand closure."

It's true that one of the strong draws of so much fantasy literature is the fluid, on-and-on quality that allows readers to believe that we've stumbled upon a world and that it continues without us, right next to us, perhaps -- that we might one day wander through a closet and meet Mr. Tumnus, or that the weirdo on the subway in the purple cape might simply be out celebrating the demise of another evil wizard. In this context, it's natural to feel that the future of the Weasley-Potters plays ceaselessly on Rowling's internal TV screen and that she's just sharing it with us.

But it's precisely the fans' feverish speculation about what happens to Rowling's characters, and what she might have meant by X or Y, that makes her behavior so surprising. Rowling's books were great in part because of their insistence on an ambiguity that was more sophisticated than her younger readers were used to (Severus Snape: good or bad? Albus Dumbledore: wise or gullible? Petunia Dursley: wizard hater or wizard lover?) and which readers have argued over for years. Why would she choose now to quash further imaginative and critical speculation by administering massive doses of Authorial Intent?

I suppose it's nice to know that in Rowling's mind, Harry is a successful auror. But in my mind, based on the seven books I devoured, Harry, whose greatest gifts were as a teacher, is the Defense Against the Dark Arts professor and eventually the Hogwarts headmaster. I suppose in the minds of other readers, Harry might manage a Quidditch team, or work for his uncle Vernon at Grunnings or something. I'd love to have that conversation with those other readers; I'd also love to have it with Rowling, in a Tolkien-style exchange. But when Rowling declares to an international audience what Harry's adult job is, then the possibility for such an exchange is over. Speculation over what Rowling might have wanted us to surmise about her hero's future is over. Bully for Harry, boo for the notion that fictional characters take on lives of their own in their readers' minds.

Read the rest here.

Abstract Reality

Monday, October 22, 2007

What Global Warming?

Nobel Prizes? Whatever. Bob's gone and done it again.

Still sticking it in the eye to the Establishment, even after all these years. Satire is a funny thing (especially when he makes fun of himself while hawking a gas guzzler Caddie). How can we even think this stuff up? We should have known, though. Here's an excerpt from an April 2007 interview by Jann Wenner in Rolling Stone:

Wenner: What do you think of the historical moment we’re in today? We seem to be hellbent on destruction. Do you worry about global warming?

Dylan: Where’s the global warming? It’s freezing here.

By the way, did you see the Yellow Ribbon? Or that he passes an oil tanker on the open highway? Too much - another sacred cow bites the dust.

Tip of the Mighty TinFoil to RWB for the tip.

Across the Pond Dedication

BB NOTE: Try reading the words as Dylan sings (from Stockholm earlier this year) and listen how he phrases the words, pauses, and basically reinterprets the song. To hear the original version, scroll down. But I love this new version - it hits the right chord.

Darkness at the break of noon

Shadows even the silver spoon
The handmade blade, the child's balloon
Eclipses both the sun and moon
To understand you know too soon
There is no sense in trying.

Pointed threats, they bluff with scorn
Suicide remarks are torn
From the fool's gold mouthpiece
The hollow horn plays wasted words
Proves to warn
That he not busy being born
Is busy dying.

Temptation's page flies out the door
You follow, find yourself at war
Watch waterfalls of pity roar
You feel to moan but unlike before
You discover
That you'd just be
One more person crying.

So don't fear if you hear
A foreign sound to your ear
It's alright, Ma, I'm only sighing.

As some warn victory, some downfall
Private reasons great or small
Can be seen in the eyes of those that call
To make all that should be killed to crawl
While others say don't hate nothing at all
Except hatred.

Disillusioned words like bullets bark
As human gods aim for their mark
Made everything from toy guns that spark
To flesh-colored Christs that glow in the dark
It's easy to see without looking too far
That not much
Is really sacred.

While preachers preach of evil fates
Teachers teach that knowledge waits
Can lead to hundred-dollar plates
Goodness hides behind its gates
But even the president of the United States
Sometimes must have
To stand naked.

An' though the rules of the road have been lodged
It's only people's games that you got to dodge
And it's alright, Ma, I can make it.

Advertising signs that con you
Into thinking you're the one
That can do what's never been done
That can win what's never been won
Meantime life outside goes on
All around you.

You lose yourself, you reappear
You suddenly find you got nothing to fear
Alone you stand with nobody near
When a trembling distant voice, unclear
Startles your sleeping ears to hear
That somebody thinks
They really found you.

A question in your nerves is lit
Yet you know there is no answer fit to satisfy
Insure you not to quit
To keep it in your mind and not fergit
That it is not he or she or them or it
That you belong to.

Although the masters make the rules
For the wise men and the fools
I got nothing, Ma, to live up to.

For them that must obey authority
That they do not respect in any degree
Who despise their jobs, their destinies
Speak jealously of them that are free
Cultivate their flowers to be
Nothing more than something
They invest in.

While some on principles baptized
To strict party platform ties
Social clubs in drag disguise
Outsiders they can freely criticize
Tell nothing except who to idolize
And then say God bless him.

While one who sings with his tongue on fire
Gargles in the rat race choir
Bent out of shape from society's pliers
Cares not to come up any higher
But rather get you down in the hole
That he's in.

But I mean no harm nor put fault
On anyone that lives in a vault
But it's alright, Ma, if I can't please him.

Old lady judges watch people in pairs
Limited in sex, they dare
To push fake morals, insult and stare
While money doesn't talk, it swears
Obscenity, who really cares
Propaganda, all is phony.

While them that defend what they cannot see
With a killer's pride, security
It blows the minds most bitterly
For them that think death's honesty
Won't fall upon them naturally
Life sometimes
Must get lonely.

My eyes collide head-on with stuffed graveyards
False gods, I scuff
At pettiness which plays so rough
Walk upside-down inside handcuffs
Kick my legs to crash it off
Say okay, I have had enough
What else can you show me?

And if my thought-dreams could be seen
They'd probably put my head in a guillotine
But it's alright, Ma, it's life, and life only.

-B. Dylan

Here's the original version from the outtakes from the 1965 documentary "Don't Look Back." If you want to hear the words clearly, the version below is the go-to version. But I still love how Dylan is doing this song right now - it's like he's grown into the words and it's not just what he sings that matters, but how he sings it. But here's the classic 1965 version:

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Just remember this ...

Bishops are nice, but they ain't Jesus.
Here's why. Take it away, Bob:

Thanks, RWB, your timing was stellar.

Open Event: Bishop Sandy Millar of London speaks at Truro on Friday, Oct. 26

Bishop Sandy Millar of London will be speaking at Truro (10520 Main Street, Fairfax, VA) on "How to be filled with the Holy Spirit," on Friday, October 26 (6:30 p.m.) as part of the special Alpha Conference. This Friday night event is free and open to all.

If you have never heard Sandy Millar speak (especially on this topic), I wholeheartedly encourage you that if you are able to come, that you do come. Bishop Millar, while very well known in England (he's the former vicar of Holy Trinity Brompton in London), he may not be as well known on this side of the pond. This is a great opportunity not only to hear his teaching, but also to go deeper in your relationship with God. How are we filled with the Holy Spirit? Come and find out. All are welcome.

The weekend events continue through Saturday and you can still register for the entire Alpha Conference by calling Truro Church at 703-273-1300. But the Friday night event is open to all.

On Sunday, October 28, Tory Baucum will be officially installed by Bishop Martyn Minns (former rector of Truro) at 11:15 a.m. in the Main Church. Bishop Sandy Millar will be preaching. All are welcome to attend! Clergy stole color will be white. A Celebration Reception will follow at 1:00 p.m.

Here is a copy of a letter recently sent to Tory Baucum from P. Raniero Cantalamessa, Preacher to the Papal Household in Rome:

Dear Tory,

I rejoice greatly over your appointment as Rector of Truro Church.

Knowing your dedication to the Lord and your kindness toward people I am sure your congregation will rejoice as well over this appointment. Your friendship with the Catholics, Bishop and people in Lexington greatly impressed me during my recent visit to Asbury Seminary. My fellow Catholics of Washington will soon discover what a friend they have in the Anglican Pastor of Truro.

Two weeks ago I was preaching at Holy Trinity Brompton in London and again I could see what a blessing the Alpha Course is for the whole Church. May the Spirit of the Lord anoint you to bring the good news to everybody.

P. Raniero Cantalamessa
Preacher to the Papal Household

Your prayers for this very special weekend are greatly appreciated!

Rowan Williams writes to John W. Howe

via e-mail:

Opening from Bishop Howe:

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I have had several inquiries about the letter from Archbishop Williams that I quoted from in today's Pastoral Letter. I wrote to him a week ago Saturday, October 13, apprizing him of Thursday's meeting with Rectors and Senior Wardens, and I told him that what I believe is needed is for him to clearly differentiate between those Bishops and Dioceses that are Windsor-compliant and those that are not. Within less than twelve hours he wrote back the letter from which I quoted. I am printing it in full below my signature box. Since he has given permission to share it I do so as well, but I think you should probably share it in its entirety.

Warmest regards in our Lord,

The Right Rev. John W. Howe

Here is the letter from Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury:

14 October 2007
Dear John

I've just received your message, which weighs very heavily on my heart, as it must - though far more so - on yours. At this stage, I can say only two things. The first is that I have committed myself very clearly to awaiting the views of the Primates before making any statement purporting to settle the question of The Episcopal Church's status, and I can't easily short-circuit that procedure. The second is that your Rectors need to recognize that this process is currently in train and that a separatist decision from them at this point would be irresponsible and potentially confusing. However, without forestalling what the Primates might say, I would repeat what I've said several times before - that any Diocese compliant with Windsor remains clearly in communion with Canterbury and the mainstream of the Communion, whatever may be the longer-term result for others in The Episcopal Church. The organ of union with the wider Church is the Bishop and the Diocese rather than the Provincial structure as such. Those who are rushing into separatist solutions are, I think, weakening that basic conviction of Catholic theology and in a sense treating the provincial structure of The Episcopal Church as if it were the most important thing - which is why I continue to hope and pray for the strengthening of the bonds of mutual support among those Episcopal Church Bishops who want to be clearly loyal to Windsor. Action that fragments their Dioceses will not help the consolidation of that all-important critical mass of ordinary faithful Anglicans in The Episcopal Church for whose nurture I am so much concerned.

Breaking this up in favour of taking refuge in foreign jurisdictions complicates and embitters the future for this vision.

Do feel free to pass on these observations to your priests. I should feel a great deal happier, I must say, if those who are most eloquent for a traditionalist view in the United States showed a fuller understanding of the need to regard the Bishop and the Diocese as the primary locus of ecclesial identity rather than the abstract reality of the 'national church'. I think that if more thought in these terms there might be more understanding of why priests in a diocese such as yours ought to maintain their loyalty to their sacramental communion with you as Bishop. But at the emotional level I can understand something of the frustration they doubtless experience, just as you must.

With continuing prayers and love,


Trust, but verify (revisited)

UPDATE: Author and HP friend John Granger has written an excellent post at his Hogwarts Professor blog. Please take the time to read it all. It's excellent! You can find it here.

Commenting continues at the post "Trust, but verify" and it's now rolled off the page so thought we would put a link up here in case you are following the conversation on that post. Check Dee Dee's recent comment as well. She brings up some very good points.

Also, here's the more recent post on the recent opinions of author J.K. Rowling here.

In addition, you may want to check out these conversation threads on the topic. Our good friends at "Sword of Gryffindor" and at Hogwarts Professor are hosting excellent table discussions, including comments from those who were at the Carnegie Hall event Friday night. Check it out!

John Howe writes to the parishes of the Diocese of Central Florida

BB NOTE: Take note that Bishop Howe quotes Rowan Williams from a personal letter received this past week:

“Any Diocese compliant with Windsor remains clearly in communion with Canterbury and the mainstream of the Communion, whatever may be the longer-term result for others in The Episcopal Church. The organ of union with the wider Church is the Bishop and the Diocese rather than the Provincial structure as such…. I should feel a great deal happier, I must say, if those who are most eloquent for a traditionalist view in the United States showed a fuller understanding of the need to regard the Bishop and the Diocese as the primary locus of ecclesial identity rather than the abstract reality of the ‘National Church.’”

I have to say that this is far more accurate view of what I have understood Anglican structures to be, rather than this newly fabricated "national church" which ironically seems to have been constructed for the sole purpose of attempting to win lawsuits based on hierarchical Roman Catholic structures. What do we make of the quote from Rowan Williams? It would be very helpful to see the entire letter.

From Bishop John Howe to the parishes of the Diocese of Central Florida, via e-mail:

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:

The following agreed statement was released by all of the participants in a meeting held at Diocesan House on Thursday of this past week:

“On Thursday, October 18, 2007, the Rectors and Senior Wardens of seven Parishes of the Diocese of Central Florida and two Church Planters met with Bishop John W. Howe and representatives of the Diocese to discuss the possible scenarios by which all or part of the congregations may disaffiliate from The Episcopal Church.

“Each Parish will now enter a process of conversation and negotiation with the Diocese based on its particular circumstances. Bishop Howe reiterated his commitment to provide pastoral care both to those who leave and to those who wish to remain.

“All parties agreed to enter into these negotiations in good faith using Biblical principles in an effort to avoid litigation and scandal to the Church of Christ”.

As Bishop of the Diocese of Central Florida, and as stated above, I remain committed to providing pastoral care both to those who wish to leave and to those who wish to remain. Individuals who wish to leave the Diocese of Central Florida and form another congregation are to be honored as brothers and sisters in Christ. The Diocese will do everything in its power to make their departure from the Diocese of Central Florida and The Episcopal Church a peaceful one without rancor or recrimination.

At the same time the Diocese is bound to work within the Constitution and Canons of The Episcopal Church which state that a Parish holds in trust all real and personal property for the benefit of the Diocese and The Episcopal Church. We have a solemn responsibility to protect the interests of the Diocese and the larger church. We cannot and will not abandon those who wish to remain as members of The Episcopal Church and we will work diligently to determine whether in fact there is a sufficient number of Episcopalians in a given congregation to constitute a viable continuing congregation able to meet and worship in its own current facilities.

We are developing a detailed protocol for dealing with those who wish to disaffiliate, and I will discuss it with the clergy at our annual Clergy Conference this week. Only after receiving their input will this protocol be finalized. For now, let me assure you that all of you will have a say in these decisions, and they will not be made by Rectors and Vestries acting alone.

This is a very painful time for many of us. I feel a great sense of personal loss in contemplating these departures, but I want to reassure you that the Diocese of Central Florida remains steadfastly committed to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, the authority and trustworthiness of God’s word written, and the anointing and empowering of the Holy Spirit. As your Bishop I am committed to proclaiming the Gospel, to strengthening existing churches and planting new ones, and to raising up the next generation as faithful followers of Christ. The painful loss of some of our brothers and sisters in Christ will not divert us from any of these commitments.

I have said repeatedly that it is my desire to remain both an Episcopalian and an Anglican. In that regard, let me share something with you that the Archbishop of Canterbury has written to me just this past week: “Any Diocese compliant with Windsor remains clearly in communion with Canterbury and the mainstream of the Communion, whatever may be the longer-term result for others in The Episcopal Church. The organ of union with the wider Church is the Bishop and the Diocese rather than the Provincial structure as such…. I should feel a great deal happier, I must say, if those who are most eloquent for a traditionalist view in the United States showed a fuller understanding of the need to regard the Bishop and the Diocese as the primary locus of ecclesial identity rather than the abstract reality of the ‘National Church.’”

We have a great and faithful Diocese, and with the help of the Lord himself, I am committed to making it even better. During this time of transition, I urge all of us to treat each other with great care and compassion. I ask your prayers for wisdom for all who will be involved in these discussions.

With warmest regards in our Lord,

John W. Howe, Bishop

Saturday, October 20, 2007

The Division Continues: Diocese of Quincy takes new steps toward realignment

Just in from the Diocese of Quincy's Synod which has just concluded:

The synod took steps to consider possible relationships with other branches of the Anglican Communion. Quincy is presently affiliated with the Episcopal Church in the US. A number of decisions were made that open the door for possible alignment with a different branch of the world-wide Communion.

“As a Diocese our goal is to remain in fellowship with the wider Anglican Communion,” said the Rt. Rev. Keith L. Ackerman, Bishop of Quincy. “Over a year ago we asked for alternative oversight from an archbishop outside the US. We re-affirmed that request at this synod.”

“No final decisions were made about our affiliation at this synod,” according to Fr. John Spencer, press officer for the Diocese. Spencer said a number of decisions are currently being made in various parts of the Anglican Communion that will affect not only the US church, but all 38 provinces of the Communion. “Decisions will be made in the next few weeks about who will or will not attend next year’s Lambeth Conference,” a meeting of all Anglican bishops held every 10 years. Many bishops, including a significant number of bishops in the Church of England, have indicated they may not attend if American bishops are present who have continued to reject the scriptural and moral teaching standards of the Communion.

“Also, several of our sister dioceses in the Anglican Communion Network will be considering canonical changes in the coming weeks, “ Spencer said. “We want to discern a way forward together in a reasoned and prayerful manner over the coming months.”

"I'm Not There" Watch Continues - Second Preview Released

Still not sure what to make of the film, but the previews have been well done. Time, as they say, will tell. It will be interesting to see how the director handles the "Gospel Dylan." But since there are six different actors playing at least six of Dylan's famous (or infamous?) masked selves, who is to say which one is for real? We're thinking that probably the most "real" Dylan yet is the one now doing his radio show, which is phenominal this year! Last week's theme was "Classic Rock" and the topic was, you guessed it, "rocks." One of the great things about the radio show is that we get to hear Dylan's humor, which is plentiful. (Boo!) He has got to be one of the funniest people on the planet - but often he never even smiles (used to though) when he is at his funniest, which just makes it funnier. Not sure? Watch this. And make sure you make it to 4.04 ("where do these kids get their guns?" never mind the comment about Mick Jagger). This is just over the top. And the MTV reporter is clueless, just clueless. Tennis anyone?

Alister McGrath

Alister McGrath writes on the Protestant heritage of Anglican Christianity. He is responding to this article written by Gregory Cameron (who was one of the ACC Joint Statement phantom drafters in New Orleans).

Here's an excerpt:

Historians generally consider that one of the most remarkable and influential forms of Protestantism emerged in England, and has come to be known as ‘Anglicanism’. Reformers in the reign of Henry VIII did not refer to themselves as ‘Protestants’, partly because this was seen to have foreign associations at the time. (Henry VIII, it will be recalled, disliked foreigners having influence over English affairs.) Yet from the reign of Edward VI onwards, English Church leaders began to use this term to refer to themselves, and see themselves as being connected with the great reforming movements and individuals on the continent of Europe.

Of course, many Anglican writers sympathetic to the nineteenth-century High Church ‘Oxford Movement’ (often known as ‘Tractarianism’) were generally dismissive of any suggestion that Anglicanism could be considered ‘Protestant’. After all, they argued, their ‘Anglo-Catholicism’ could be traced back to developments in the early seventeenth century. They pointed to a group of writers during the reigns of James I and Charles I who, they argued, show a much more ‘catholic’ outlook than their colleagues in the reigns of Edward VI or Elizabeth I. Anglicanism was never Protestant; it retained its Catholic identity and resisted any temptations to become part of the Protestant movement.

Historians now regard this account of Anglicanism as an unfortunate aberration. It is certainly true that some significant members of the Church of England during the reigns of James I and Charles I laid greater emphasis on its sacramental life than some of their contemporaries. Some also showed themselves to be critical (at points) of the first generation of Protestant leaders in the English Reformation. Under Charles I, this group began to gain the ascendancy, with William Laud (1573- 1645) becoming Archbishop of Canterbury and Richard Neile (1562-1640) Archbishop of York.

Yet such figures cannot be thought of as ‘Catholics’, nor can their Protestant identity be denied, for that reason. In the first place, they were generally affirmative of their Protestant credentials. In the second, their sacramental and ecclesiological views can easily be accommodated within the spectrum of Protestant possibilities. Protestantism is a ‘big tent’ movement, offering a surprising variety of possibilities within its vision of Christian thought and life. Luther, it must be remembered, had a much ‘higher’ view of baptism and the eucharist than Zwingli – a fact which is reflected in modern Lutheranism at this point. Yet nobody has seriously suggested that Lutheranism is not a form of Protestantism on account of these sacramental views.

Some point to Charles I as the classic representative of this ‘Anglo-Catholicism’. Yet they too easily overlook the awkward fact that, on the evening before his execution, Charles told his thirteen-yearold daughter, Elizabeth, that he was to die for "maintaining the true Protestant religion", and urged her to read the works of Lancelot Andrewes and Richard Hooker "to ground [her] against Popery". Others suggest that Anglicanism is a ‘middle way’ (via media) between Protestantism and Catholicism. For that reason, it is argued, it is neither Protestant nor Catholic, but combines the strengths of both. Yet historians such as Diarmaid McCulloch have rightly pointed out that the ‘middle way’ developed in England in the late sixteenth century was between Lutheranism and Calvinism – two quite distinct versions of Protestantism. The ‘middle way’ which resulted was neither Calvinist nor Lutheran – but it was certainly Protestant.

From an historical perspective, the English national Church must be regarded as a Protestant variant - the ‘Protestant Episcopal Church of England and Ireland’, as state and parliamentary documents regularly describe it. And, as many readers will recall, the body which now prefers to describe itself as ‘The Episcopal Church’ was originally entitled ‘The Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America.’ (Indeed, this remains the Church’s legal title).

Canon Cameron appears to belong to the revisionist school of thought which is trying to airbrush out Anglicanism’s Protestant heritage and tradition. (The same agenda can be seen in the 1977 decision of the Episcopal Church in the United States of America to drop the word ‘Protestant’ from its name in common usage.) It is an unwise strategy for two reasons. First, it is historically indefensible. Cameron may wish that Anglicanism was not Protestant; he cannot, however, rewrite history to suit his tastes. His form of revisionism has itself been revised, and found to be untenable. But, much more importantly, understanding Anglicanism’s history allows us to appreciate what may be about to happen within the Anglican Communion, in the face of renewed tensions over issues of sexuality. To understand this point, we need to consider the Protestant concept of a ‘denominational family’.

Read the whole thing here. It is worth remembering, especially here in Virginia - and especially as 815 and the leadership of The Episcopal Church continue to fashion a sort of "Catholic-lite" - all the liturgical and hierarchical trappings of Roman Catholicism without all the doctrinal fuss.

Rowling Reveals Dumbledore was gay

AP reports from New York: Harry Potter fans, the rumors are true: Albus Dumbledore, master wizard and Headmaster of Hogwarts, is gay. J.K. Rowling, author of the mega-selling fantasy series that ended last summer, outed the beloved character Friday night while appearing before a full house at at Carnegie Hall.

Fascinating revelation, though I'm not so sure this is good news to the activist gay community. Before there is celebration in the streets, they may want to actually read the final book in the Harry Potter series. We learn in Deathly Hallows that Dumbledore is not the kind and wise old man he has appeared to be throughout the series but is in fact a manipulator and schemer - and a very conflicted one at that. Is this an accurate representation of an archetypal gay person? Or is it a stereotype? As we've written here earlier, it turns out that Dumbledore was - as Jo Rowling has also stated - Machiavellian in his plans for Harry Potter. Even Snape is shocked by the revelation of Dumbledore's motives.

Deathly Hallows does allude that Dumbledore and Grindelwald engage in a deep friendship that is enmeshed and unhealthly. Everyone else is excluded. Their "breakup" leads to the tragic death of Dumbeldore's little sister. Grindelwald becomes one of the most evil characters ever - on par with Voldemort (who later kills him) and again, I wonder how the gay community will feel about that. It is not an idealized relationship by any means, not like the idealized relationships I would hear about during hearing testimonies at General Convention, for example, where everything is blessed and certainly not obsessive and idolatrous.

The article says this:
She then explained that Dumbledore was smitten with rival Gellert Grindelwald, whom he defeated long ago in a battle between good and bad wizards. "Falling in love can blind us to an extent," Rowling said of Dumbledore's feelings, adding that Dumbledore was "horribly, terribly let down."

Dumbledore's love, she observed, was his "great tragedy."
Before Christians jump at this news and take to the streets for different reasons, we should read the book as well. The "love" depicted in this relationship between Grindelwald and Dumbledore is destructive - it costs a girl her life and more. The 1940s wizard battle with Grindelwald parallels World War II and the atrocities committed by the Nazis. The name "Grindelwald" alludes to Grendel, Beowulf's dragon representing evil ("wald" or "vald" is German for ruler - i.e. a ruler of evil). The context of the story in Deathly Hallows is that this relationship was destructive. The character of Grindelwald is unsavory from the very beginning, as though a tempter of evil - and Dumbledore is indeed tempted - a temptation that he lives with for the rest of his life. Is this the sort of literary portrayal the gay community would like to see attached to their image? I'm not so sure. Is it compelling storytelling? Yes, it is.

Dumbledore went on to lead a chaste life, totally devoted to his role as headmaster (another typical caricature, by the way?) and to seeking the ultimate defeat of Voldermort. That was his whole life. In fact, Dumbledore reminds me very much of this guy. Just put a beard on him and you've got our guy. It isn't what we are that matters, it's what we do with who we are that makes the difference. That's what Dumbledore also said - it is our choices that matter and show us who we truly are.

That being said, I am very surprised that Jo Rowling would add the homosexual dynamic to the youthful relationship between the two titanic characters of Dumbledore and Grindelwald, for it reveals the inherent destructive nature of such obsession and idolatry, which - if you read Leanne Payne would tell us is at the center of homosexual behavior. It is quite a revelation indeed. Both of these characteristics - obsession and idolatry - were terrible character flaws in Albus Dumbledore (character flaws he readily acknowledged, I might add). Harry Potter's heart was pure and his love for Ginny (who later becomes his wife) was exemplary - it encourages him and makes him whole, quite a contrast to what Dumbledore knew in his relationship with Grindelwald. I am just surprised Jo Rowling would want to open up that can of worms.

Here are some more "revelations" that came from Jo Rowling's event at Carnegie Hall last night:
Jo also revealed that Neville Longbottom married Hufflepuff Hannah Abbott and she was to become the landlady at the iconic Leaky Cauldron Pub. She thought that people would find the fact of Neville's living over a pub particularly cool.

Equally large revelations were made concerning Petunia Dursley when Jo answered the question of what Petunia could not bring herself to say when Harry and the Dursleys parted ways before his seventeenth birthday. She would have wished him luck, saying: "I know what you're up against and I hope it turns out okay."

Information on the original Order members was also revealed during tonight's event. Jo related the fact that Remus Lupin, prior to the third book, was unemployable because he was a werewolf and upon his graduation from Hogwarts along with James and Lily, was supported by James using their own money. In addition to this she shed more light on the early days of the Order, saying James, Sirius, Remus and Lily were full time Order members. "Full Time Fighters," as Jo put it.

Jo also went into further detail about the many portraits in the wizarding world and their occupants. An occupant can only move freely to other portraits in their dwelling or to another portrait in which they are depicted. She also revealed that Harry himself made sure that the portrait of Snape made it into the Headmasters Office
Here's more from the transcript:

Q: How did you decide that Molly Weasley would be the one to finish off Bellatrix?

I always knew Molly was going to finish her off. I think there was some speculation that Neville would do it, because Neville obviously has a particular reason to hate Bellatrix. ..So there were lots of options for Blelatrix, but I never deviated. I wanted it to be Molly, and I wanted it to be Molly for two reasons.

The first reason was I always saw Molly as a very good witch but someone whose light is necessarily hidden under a bushel, because she is in the kitchen a lot and she has had to raise, among others, and George which is like, enough... I wanted Molly to have her moment and to show that because a woman had dedicated herself to her family does not mean that she doesn't have a lot of other talents.

(BB NOTE: Again, this flies in the face of modern cultural teaching when the "traditional homemaker" is the one that destroys the most evil character (second only to Voldemort) in Harry Potter's life.)

Second reason: It was the meeting of two kinds of - if you call what Bellatrix feels for Voldemort love, I guess we'll call it love, she has a kind of obsession with him, it's a very sick obsession ... and I wanted to match that kind of obsession with maternal love... the power that you give someone by loving them. So Molly was really an amazing exemplar of maternal love. ... There was something very satisfying about putting those two women together.

How different would the last two books be if Arthur had been killed in the middle of book five?

I think they would have been very different and it's part of the reason why I changed my mind. ... By turning Ron into half of Harry, in other words by turning Ron into someone who had suffered the loss of a parent, I was going to remove the Weasleys as a refuge for Harry and I was going to necessarily remove a lot of Ron's humor. That's part of the reason why I didn't kill Arthur. I wanted to keep Ron in tact ... a lot of Ron's humor comes from his insensitivity and his immaturity, to be honest about Ron. And Ron finally, I think, you see, grows up in this book. He's the last of the three to reach what I consider adulthood, and he does it then [ when he destroys the horcrux] and faces those things. So that's part of the reason. The only other reason I didn't kill Arthur was that I wanted to come full circle. We started with an orphan, someone who lost their parents because of the war. And so I wanted to show it again. ... Even though you don't see Teddy, I wanted to express in the epilogue, that he gets an even better godfather than Harry had, because Sirius had his faults, I think we must admit. He was a risky guy to have a s a godfather. Because Teddy gets someone who really has been there, and Harry becomes a really great father figure for Teddy as well as his own children. I hasten to add that I didn't kill Lupin or Tonks lightly. I loved them as that hurt, killing them.

Q: Harry often wondered about his parents lives before he died. What did Lily, James, Remus, Lupin and Sirius do after Hogwarts?

JKR: To take Remus first, Remus was unemployable. Poor Lupin, prior to Dumbledore taking him in, lead a really impoverished life because no one wanted to employ a werewolf. The other three were full-time members of the Order of the Phoenix. If you remember when Lily, James and co. were at school, the first war was raging. It never reached the heights that the second war reached, because the Ministry was never infiltrated to that extend but it was a very bad time, the same disappearances, the same deaths. So that's what they did, they left school. James has gold, enough to support Sirius and Lily. So I suppose they lived foff a private income. But they were full-time fighters, that's what they did, until Lily fell pregnant with Harry. So then they went into hiding.

Q: Is Severus Snape's portrait in the headmaster's office?

JKR: Some have been asking why hasn't the portrait appeared immediately. It doesn't. The reason is that the perception in the castle itself and everyone who was in the castle, because Snape kept his secret so well was that he abandoned his post. So all the portraits you see in the headmaster's study are all headmasters and mistresses who died, it's like British royals. You only get good press if you die in office. Abdication is not acceptable, particularly if you marry and American. I'm kidding! [laughter] I digress. I know, because I thought this one through, because it was very important to me, I know Harry would have insisted that Snape's portrait was on that wall, right beside Dumbledore's. [Applause.] As for whether Harry would go back to talk to him, I think, I'm not sure he would have done. Snape, I was really [?] the week after I finished the book. And I went to a chat room - not a chat room, what am I talking about? [laughter] I never go in chat rooms. I went onto a fan site because I was looking for questions to put up on my Web site, which is sometimes difficult. And I was so heartened to see that people on the message boards that people were still arguing about Snape. The book was out, and they were still arguing whether Snape was a good guy But that was really wonderful to me, because there's a question there, was Snape a good guy or not? In many ways he really wasn't. SoI haven't been deliberately misleading everyone all this time, when I say that he's a good guy. Because even though he did love and he loved very deeply and he was very brave, both qualities that I admire above anything else. He was bitter and he was vindictive... but right at the very very end, he did, as your question acknowledges, acheive a kind of peace together and I tried to show that in the epilogue.