Tuesday, January 29, 2008

815 UK?

FRI. FEB 1 UPDATE: You do sort of wonder. LambethConference.net notices that the ACO has quietly - and finally - corrected their website to reflect that Bennison is indeed inhibited. Fast and furious (and wrong) on the trigger for the Bishop of San Joaquin, though. What's up with that?

What's wrong with this?

That must have been some phone call. See comments.

Unbelievable. So who is running the Anglican Communion anyway? It's not who you think it is - or maybe it is. The British are always kind in their understatements - but underneath the kindness is a pointed question - just who is giving the orders? The Claw?
From here:

Readers of the Anglican Communion Office’s website might begin to wonder who is running the Anglican Communion. The Anglican Communion Office is described on the site as “the permanent secretariat of the Anglican Consultative Council, which is led by the Revd Canon Kenneth Kearon, Secretary General” and is “based in London, England”.

As such, it has a finger in many pies, but it is clearly a ’service and support’ organization, supporting the working of the Communion in a ‘diaconal’ rather than presbyteral (much less, episcopal) role.

Curious, then, that the ACO website lists the Diocese of San Joaquin as ‘vacant’ - curious, because it isn’t. The Diocesan Bishop, John-David Schofield, has been inhibited by the Presiding Bishop, Katherine Jefferts-Schori, but he is still the Bishop, unless or until he is deposed. Moreover, he is still on the ‘guest list’ of the Lambeth Conference, though this may change (and will doubtless precipitate further crisis, insofar as he regards himself as part of the Province of the Southern Cone, regarding which Greg Venables may have something to say.)

We may then ask why the ACO has jumped the gun. It may, of course, be a misunderstanding on the part of the website manager, in which case it will doubtless be corrected soon.

BB NOTE: Holding one's breath may not be advisable at this time. More here. And here.

WEDNESDAY UPDATE: The sudden "switch" for Kearon's operation to make on the Diocese of San Joaquin once they were outed illustrates what political philosophy is running his office. The idea that the see of San Joaquin is vacant comes from the TEC political activists (who by the way, are not high in number, but have experience acting as though they are which is how street politics operates). They have been filling listserves and blog posts for weeks about how the bishop has abandoned the communion (which one is it now?) and the see is vacant. Obviously, Kearon's office falls right into line with this thinking and made the change on the website (did they think we wouldn't notice?). But the official view of the Episcopal Church is that the bishop is inhibited (for voting his conscience, what a sorrowful place for TEC to fall, so much further than even during the Civil War) and la di da, that's what suddenly appears on Kearon's office website. The fact remains - as someone must have said during the intervention this morning - the Diocese of San Joaquin exists and it still has a bishop. The bishop is in good standing in the Province of the Southern Cone and TEC is officially pissed off. The "inhibition" - as the "inhibitions in Virginia" are for punitive effect. They are meant to scare off others from following suit. The Presiding Bishop meant to inhibit the Bishop of Pittsburgh as well for even thinking about voting his conscience and was slapped down by two senior bishops. I just have to wonder if the rank and file Episcopalians (which far outnumber the progressives and are not happy about these aggressive street fighting tactics) are waking up.

By the way, Kearon's office now lists the Bishop of San Joaquin "inhibited," but only after first being listed "vacant." Gotta wonder. But guess who is actually inhibited for moral transgressions? Well, you'd never know visiting the "Anglican Communion" website. Golly.

Monday, January 28, 2008

The Bill of Rights: Protecting Individual Liberty or the Corporate Franchise?

David Trimble has an interesting essay on Bishop Lee's remarks to the Virginia Diocesan Council. At Council the bishop said, "“If the attorney general’s view of the law prevails, it will mean that the Commonwealth of Virginia gives preference to churches with congregational governance, discriminates against churches that are hierarchical or connectional in their governance, and intrudes into the doctrine and discipline of communities of faith.” The bishop asserts that religious liberty, in the context of the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom and the First Amendment protects hierarchical churches - which is so absurd it shows an incredible lack of understanding about the context of religious freedom in the Commonwealth and in the United States.

As David rightly points out here, those freedoms are individual liberties, not protection for corporate entities that seek to overwhelm and impose a system of beliefs on individuals - especially when they have departed their own historical documents. "Religious liberty in the United States is all about individual liberty - the freedom to not be coerced by designation of a state religion," David writes, "and the freedom to practice the religion of one's choice. Period. Read the First Amendment and that's all you will see. It has absolutely nothing to do with hierarchical vs. congregational governance whatsoever."

It is important that we read these statutes ourselves and not rely on others to tell us what we to think. The same think applies to the scriptures - which is why we are in this mess in the first place. A biblically literate laity is a fearsome thing to clerics, bishops and clergy alike. At the same time, constitutional literate citizens are equally fearsome. The bishop appears to think that Virginians have forgotten about Patrick Henry and George Mason and Thomas Jefferson and do not known their own history in the Commonwealth, nor have they read either the Virginia or the the United States Constitutions lately. Read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them. We ignore those things at our own peril. But one can be certain the Attorney General of the Commonwealth of Virginia knows knows his history and knows what those historical documents say and mean and it's his job to defend the Constitution and Statutes of the Commonwealth of the Virginia.

What makes American history - and Virginia history - so extraordinary in those founding documents was that our founders recognized (and sometimes after fierce debate) that our rights are secured as individuals, not to the class, the organization, the group or associations we belong to. There are no implied trusts in Virginia. We threw off the chains of slavery and when we found there were still more in chains, those were thrown off as well by force. "It is for freedom Christ came to set us free," and Virginia has learned the hard way that some are not more equal than others. There is no "in club," no "upper class," no hierarchy that can impose its will and take those freedoms away. No, not even the Episcopal Church. It is not the "freedom of the church," Bishop Lee - it's the freedom of individuals to worship freely. He scorns the freedom of individuals when he warns the Diocesan Council that the Attorney General's actions will cause "the Commonwealth of Virginia gives preference to churches with congregational governance." Congregational governance means liberty for the individual. Bishop Lee should be ashamed to publicly twist the meaning of the guarantee of our individual religious liberty to mean a guarantee of state-protection for corporate institutional entities over the constitutional rights of individuals - as if.

We can only imagine what Mr. Jefferson would say about that.

Read David Trimbles' essay here.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

If a picture paints a thousand words, then what's up with the Lambeth Logo?

As any good marketing strategy will tell you, you need a good logo. We went through a big training experience back at the Firm where everyone was instructed to design their own personal logo. A logo is a short-stop way to express something about you in one simple graphic design that represents who you are or what you do. Well, Lambeth 2008 is coming up this year and with that they've designed their own personal logo that represents who they are - or have they, really? For us on this side of the Pond, we have been alarmed for years about the drift - now turned into a tidal wave - that the Episcopal Church is basically becoming the church of the Liturgical Unitarians. After all, Unitarians were once Anglicans too, until the Archbishop of Canterbury (post-American Revolution) nixed their idea of joining up when the Episcopal Church was being formed (hat tip, Dr. Bob Prichard at VTS). But that was then - this is now?

Let's take a look:

The Orange Logo is the Unitarian Universalist Logo, the Yellow Logo is the Lambeth 2008 Logo. With all that's going on in the Anglican Communion, why did they choose a "flame" to represent Lambeth? Ah, but the spirit is doing a new thing, right?

Here's the Lambeth 1998 Official Logo:

At the center was the cross.
But that was then.

Tip of the tinfoil to
Pluralist in the UK.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

"Report" from the Virginia Diocesan Council

Last week I was driving home from visiting old friends when I received a call asking me if I would be on site to pray during the Council of the Diocese of Virginia. I have to admit, I was rather stunned. I tried to imagine what that might be like to do that after all that has happened this year. Could I set aside my own feelings and instead intercede for a community that I am separated from right now? I thought, well, if the diocese was willing to issue me a name tag, I am willing to come and pray.

They issued me a name tag.

I know I have lots of thoughts and feelings about what I saw over the past couple of days. There were certainly things that were done that I do agree and disagree with that will come up in the future. But as to giving a "report" - I think tonight I am thankful for the privilege it was to pray and stay out of the fray.

Being at Council was like attending a family gathering where a divorce is underway. Going and praying through the heart break was challenging, as though my own soul was undergoing restoration as this hotel has done since the last time I was here. The worst thing that could happen through all of this would be to discover that our own hearts had grown cold.

I saw colleagues I have been estranged from and we shook hands. I saw old friends I haven't seen in a year. Much has changed over the year and some of those changes are sad. But there was a point that really captured my heart. I felt a mixture of sorrow, hope, loss, wonder, pity, bewilderment, and awe.

The budget had to be cut and one of the areas that was cut had to do with a ministry that has meant a lot to me over the years - the ministry of Shrine Mont. Nearly $20,000 had been cut from Shrine Mont camps and scholarships and that was what Council focused on after the budget committee concluded their report, at least as long as I was in the room. One delegate after another rose to the microphones to lament this loss and their pleas were indeed moving. They refrained from blaming, which in some ways was like the proverbial elephant in the room, but in other ways - which I found deeply moving - transparent. The bishop reminded the Council that a resolution would have to be made to make any changes to the budget, but it would have to cover whatever issues were raised during the budget hearings yesterday. I don't know if this particular issue was raised or how it was covered, but as speaker after speaker rose, no one offered a resolution. It seemed to be an effort of futility.

Then a member of the budget committee came to a microphone on the floor and asked how many of the Council delegates could give $100 each right now and solve this problem. Hands went up. Tellers came out to count the hands. Bishop Lee asked those with their hands up to raise their voting "green cards." A sea of green cards went up. Nearly $20,000 was raised and I learned that the camp director of Shrine Mont was sobbing at her table, overwelmed with gratitude.

That's generosity.

And that is my prayer tonight, that we might some day - I don't know when - but some day know that generosity again with one another, the generosity of the northern branch of the Episcopal Church who, during the Civil War's only meeting of General Convention, merely marked the southern dioceses "absent." A generosity that is transparent and wise, taking the longer view and not so quick to justify one's self for the benefit of the immediate cause. A generosity that doesn't seek to blame for expediency's sake. A generosity that that seeks to forgive and weep with one another with the hope that there will be joy in the morning - whenever that day may come. A generosity that is honest in our divisions, not masking or hiding that we are indeed broken. A generosity that is kind and merciful. A generosity we see best expressed in the amazing act of God our Father who, not sparing even His own Son, suffered the greatest cost to bring reconciliation to the world.

Perhaps we will not know such generosity until the long-view of heaven, but perhaps we can pray now, here, "Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven." Amen.

Saturday Morning

In the middle of the night the alarm went off. I thought it was the alarm clock and while I thought it was a bit loud, I just kept on sleeping. Only this morning did I learn it was the hotel fire alarm and fire trucks with their sirens blazing arrived at the hotel. But I slept on, thinking "that was one loud alarm clock," my roommate had brought.

Isn't that often what it's like when the alarm is sounded and we sleep on? Alarms disturb our sleep, our comfort - they are meant to wake us up. When I remarked to my roommate this morning that if there had been a fire I would have been on the list of casualties, my roommate said rather casually, "oh I would have dragged you out." She would have not let me perish but would have saved me. Now that's a great friend, a loyal friend.

Last night as I was falling asleep I was thinking about something I read that one of the delegates on the floor here at the VA Diocesan Council sent me. He said that the bishop spoke a lot about "loyalty" yesterday. I guess there are loyal Episcopalians and disloyal Episcopalians. But what is loyalty? Is it sleeping through the alarms until one becomes a casualty? Or is real loyalty sounding the alarms and even rescuing those who sleep?

We have been rescued by one who was not loyal to "the times" but to His Father. It cost Him everything, but we gained everything. Our loyalty is not to an institution, but to Jesus. When we are loyal to Jesus, then we are truly loyal to His Church, His people, so that when the alarm is sounded, even in the night, we wake up.

Friday, January 25, 2008


Friday Night Prayer

Psalm 119.145-176

I call with my whole heart :
hear me, O Lord, I will keep thy statutes.

Yea, even unto thee do I call :
help me, and I shall keep thy testimonies.

Early in the morning do I cry unto thee :
for in thy word is my trust.

Mine eyes prevent the night-watches :
that I might be occupied in thy words.

Hear my voice, O Lord, according unto thy loving-kindness :
quicken me, according as thou art wont.

They draw nigh that of malice persecute me :
and are far from thy law.

Be thou nigh at hand, O Lord :
for all thy commandments are true.

As concerning thy testimonies, I have known long since :
that thou hast grounded them for ever.

O consider mine adversity, and deliver me :
for I do not forget thy law.

Avenge thou my cause, and deliver me :
quicken me, according to thy word.

Health is far from the ungodly :
for they regard not thy statutes.

Great is thy mercy, O Lord :
quicken me, as thou art wont.

Many there are that trouble me, and persecute me :
yet do I not swerve from thy testimonies.

It grieveth me when I see the transgressors :
because they keep not thy law.

Consider, O Lord, how I love thy commandments :
O quicken me, according to thy loving-kindness.

Thy word is true from everlasting :
all the judgements of thy righteousness endure for evermore.

Princes have persecuted me without a cause :
but my heart standeth in awe of thy word.

I am as glad of thy word :
as one that findeth great spoils.

As for lies, I hate and abhor them :
but thy law do I love.

Seven times a day do I praise thee :
because of thy righteous judgements.

Great is the peace that they have who love thy law :
and they are not offended at it.

Lord, I have looked for thy saving health :
and done after thy commandments.

My soul hath kept thy testimonies :
and loved them exceedingly.

I have kept thy commandments and testimonies :
for all my ways are before thee.

Let my complaint come before thee, O Lord :
give me understanding according to thy word.

Let my supplication come before thee :
deliver me, according to thy word.

My lips shall speak of thy praise :
when thou hast taught me thy statutes.

Yea, my tongue shall sing of thy word :
for all thy commandments are righteous.

Let thine hand help me :
for I have chosen thy commandments.

I have longed for thy saving health, O Lord :
and in thy law is my delight.

O let my soul live, and it shall praise thee :
and thy judgements shall help me.

I have gone astray like a sheep that is lost :
O seek thy servant, for I do not forget thy commandments.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son : and to the Holy Ghost; as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be : world without end. Amen.

South Carolina considers postponing election of Deputies to General Convention

Head over to Anglican TV - they are discussing postponing the election of deputies to General Convention. Kendall Harmon has requested the the election be postponed until the next Diocesan Council so that the Diocese can decide if/how many deputies to General Convention. The concern was that "business as usual" is pushing through. Right now the Bishop has taken the floor to oppose Kendall's motion. The Bishop's concern is that it will get the new bishop's episcopate off on the wrong foot. It's rather unprecedented to have the bishop take the floor during a debate. He must be worried. Go here and watch the proceedings.

The initial vote they took appeared to be even split. The Diocesan Chancellor has now taken the floor. It appears that the diocesan brass oppose the postponement. Kendall is willing to stand-down if there is a guarantee that this discussion will happen. You can see that they want to trust the brass. But it's quite obvious that South Carolina is split.

It has now been withdrawn. Once the bishop spoke against it, the air went out of the tires. Very interesting. Watch that space.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Prayfest at the Cafe

Tonight at sundown begins the first "Prayfest at the Cafe" for 2008. Our particular concern is for the Council of the Diocese of Virginia, though there are certainly some other major "happenings" over the next 48 Hours including the consecration of a new bishop for the Diocese of South Carolina.

We thought we'd begin tonight with some worship and some prayers from the Evening Prayer liturgy found in the Book of Common Prayer (1662).

Dearly beloved [brethren],
the Scripture moveth us in sundry places to acknowledge
and confess our manifold sins and wickedness;

and that we should not dissemble nor cloak them before
the face of almighty God our heavenly Father;
but confess them with an humble, lowly, penitent and
obedient heart;
to the end that we may obtain forgiveness of the same
by his infinite goodness and mercy.
And although we ought at all times humbly to acknowledge
our sins before God;
yet ought we most chiefly so to do,
when we assemble and meet together
to render thanks for the great benefits that we have
received at his hands,
to set forth his most worthy praise,
to hear his most holy word,
and to ask those things which are requisite and necessary,
as well for the body as the soul.

Wherefore I pray and beseech you,
as many as are here present,
to accompany me with a pure heart, and humble voice,
unto the throne of the heavenly grace, saying

Almighty and most merciful Father,
we have erred, and strayed from thy ways like lost sheep.
We have followed too much the devices and desires
of our own hearts.
We have offended against thy holy laws.
We have left undone those things
which we ought to have done;
and we have done those things
which we ought not to have done;
and there is no health in us.
But thou, O Lord, have mercy upon us, miserable offenders.
Spare thou them, O God, which confess their faults.
Restore thou them that are penitent;
according to thy promises declared unto mankind
in Christ Jesu our Lord.
And grant, O most merciful Father, for his sake,
that we may hereafter live a godly, righteous, and sober life,
to the glory of thy holy name.

Grant, we beseech thee, merciful Lord,
to thy faithful people pardon and peace,
that they may be cleansed from all their sins,
and serve thee with a quiet mind;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.


Our Father, which art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done,
in earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive them that trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
for ever and ever.

O Lord, open thou our lips
and our mouth shall shew forth thy praise.

O God, make speed to save us.
O Lord, make haste to help us.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son,
and to the Holy Ghost;

as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be,
world without end. Amen.

Praise ye the Lord.
The Lord's name be praised.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son :
and to the Holy Ghost;
as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be :
world without end. Amen.

First Reading: Ecclesiasticus 39.1-10

But he that giveth his mind to the law of the most High, and is occupied in the meditation thereof, will seek out the wisdom of all the ancient, and be occupied in prophecies.
He will keep the sayings of the renowned men: and where subtil parables are, he will be there also.
He will seek out the secrets of grave sentences, and be conversant in dark parables.
He shall serve among great men, and appear before princes: he will travel through strange countries; for he hath tried the good and the evil among men.
He will give his heart to resort early to the Lord that made him, and will pray before the most High, and will open his mouth in prayer, and make supplication for his sins.
When the great Lord will, he shall be filled with the spirit of understanding: he shall pour out wise sentences, and give thanks unto the Lord in his prayer.
He shall direct his counsel and knowledge, and in his secrets shall he meditate.
He shall shew forth that which he hath learned, and shall glory in the law of the covenant of the Lord.
Many shall commend his understanding; and so long as the world endureth, it shall not be blotted out; his memorial shall not depart away, and his name shall live from generation to generation.
Nations shall shew forth his wisdom, and the congregation shall declare his praise.

Second Reading: Colossians 1.24 - 2.7

Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake, which is the church:
Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God;
Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints:
To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:
Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus:
Whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily.

For I would that ye knew what great conflict I have for you, and for them at Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh;
That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ;
In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
And this I say, lest any man should beguile you with enticing words.
For though I be absent in the flesh, yet am I with you in the spirit, joying and beholding your order, and the stedfastness of your faith in Christ.
As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him:
Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.

The Collect of the Day

O God, who, through the preaching of the blessed Apostle Saint Paul, hast caused the light of the Gospel to shine throughout the world; Grant, we beseech thee, that we, having his wonderful conversion in remembrance, may shew forth our thankfulness unto thee for the same, by following the holy doctrine which he taught; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,
and the love of God,
and the fellowship of the Holy Ghost,
be with us all evermore.

What's Next? TEC replaces Stations of the Cross with Stations of the MDGs for Lent ...

BB NOTE: This Lent forget about the Cross and Jesus' journey to Calvary for the redemption of the world. That's so over. Now, thanks to the fun people at 815 Headquarters, you too can do the Stations of the MDGs. No really! What will the PB think up next! Maybe for Easter we'll roll the rock away and find - Bono!

From here and here:

The Presiding Bishop had declared the first Sunday in Lent to be Episcopal Relief and Development Sunday. To assist parishes mark the occasion, Episcopal Relief and Development has created resources available at http://www.er-d.org/erdsunday. Included among the resources is a special liturgy called “Stations of the MDGs” which is designed to be used during Lent in lieu of the traditional Stations of the Cross service. Also available for order or download is a the 2008 Lenten Devotional is entitled"Seeking to Serve: A Lenten Exploration of the Millennium Development Goals.” The devotional features illustrations and meditations on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) contributed by the Rev. Jay Sidebotham, Rector of Church of the Holy Spirit in Lake Forest, Illinois, and offers ways for parishioners to help achieve these life-saving goals.

Please let me know if you have questions or concerns.


Luke Fodor
Network Coordinator, Office of Church Relations
Episcopal Relief and Development
815 Second Avenue
New York, NY 10017

NOTE: You can also read the official MDG liturgy here.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

ACI's Ephraim Radner to TEC Bishops: End process to "discipline" the Bishop of Pittsburgh now

THUR. UPDATE: "Fr. Jake" is reporting from his meeting yesterday with the PB that "The inhibition, requiring the consent of the senior bishops, is not connected to the depostion. Bp. Duncan will face the charges of abandonment after his 60 days to recant have passed. The lack of inhibition does not nullify the charges certified by the Review Committee."

There are some - myself included I am afraid - that often feel like Ephraim is tilting at windmills. That doesn't mean, however, he isn't right. The futility of our efforts does not seem to be something God often takes into consideration. A voice crying in the wilderness does. Ephraim pleas are worth listening to - even when we may take different actions. He's listening to the same Lord as the rest of us who are trying to find our way through the thicket. Here, his pleas must be heard by whatever goodness is still left in the Episcopal House of Bishops.

Ephraim Radner of Anglican Communion Institute

I would urge the bishops of TEC, when the matter of Bp. Duncan's status and discipline is raised before them, as now it must be, to vote to table it indefinitely. That is within their power; and it is demanded, I believe, by the evangelical needs of this church and her people. The bishops might then use the disciplinary energies and resources of our church, instead, to pursue and submit in patience to the task and outcome of our larger Church's resolution of our dispute. Having fulfilled her canonical duties in forwarding the Review Committee's decision, however ill-formed, to the House of Bishops, the Presiding Bishop herself should now use her persuasive and parliamentary powers to accomplish just such a vote to table the matter.

TEC is embroiled in a territory of adjudication precisely to the degree that her official leadership has pressed forward to "do a new thing" for which there is no disciplinary direction apart from what, in the past and within current Anglican Communion teaching and direction, has clearly forbidden this very thing they have done. As the Anglican Communion Institute has consistently argued, TEC's leadership cannot do this and then say they are in a position to judge anything, except by an intrinsically novel, and therefore communally questionable, standard.

Read the whole thing here.

NOTE: This version has recently been released on video and is from the Newport Folk Festival 1965. Dylan has just been famously booed at Newport after he plugged in and sang the electric versions of Maggie's Farm and Like a Rolling Stone. The crowd was quite worked up, booing and protesting at what they perceived to be Dylan's sell-out to the Cause and Pete Seeger infamously has been said to have been out looking for an ax to cut the power to the stage. Dylan left the stage (and later went out and, he says in the Scorsese film, got drunk) - but before he did that, he came back out on stage alone and - almost defiantly - with his acoustic guitar and harmonica on hand, pointedly and deliberately sang his farewell to the past.

Quote of the Day: Not so happy in Whoville?

The Presiding Bishop recently took a Q&A following the consecration of Alabama Bishop Suffragan Kee Sloan on January 12th. Here is one of the questions followed by her answer:

Question: May I just ask how is your conversation with the Bishop of Canterbury?

Katherine Jefferts Schori: How is my conversation with the Archbishop of Canterbury? Right. I don’t know him terribly well. (laughter) I’ve met him only three times. I think there is a desire for greater relationship there. Certainly there is on my part. Charles Robertson - Chuck Robertson, the Canon to the Presiding Bishop who was here until this afternoon - is going to England on Monday to try and increase the level of conversation with the Archbishop’s Office and the office of the Anglican Communion; the General Secretary of the Anglican Communion. We’re working at it. I think the biggest difficulty is the conflict in the Church of England is far greater than it is in this church. And the Archbishop of Canterbury is first and foremost head of the Church of England. Everything that impacts the rest of the communion is being played out even on a larger stage in his own church. He’s in a very difficult position. Very difficult. I empathize with him. And I pray for him and I hope you do too.

We know the three times that the PB has met Rowan Williams. The first time was after she became Presiding Bishop and she went over with Frank Griswold to meet him in London. The second time was at the meeting of the Primates in Dar es Salaam. And the third time was at the New Orleans House of Bishops meeting this past September. So they haven't had any other meetings or gabfests except for these three formal occasions. Her tone here is condescending. There is an assumption of superiority (frankly, it's been quite illuminating to wonder if it's just because she thinks her direct line to the spirit trumps his or the fact that she's just acting like an American). But she ends up with this sort of "let's all feel sorry for poor Rowan, boo hoo hoo - next question!"

So she's having to send an emissary over to Lambeth to try to smooth things over. What's up with that? Why doesn't she just pick up her cell and ring him? For God's sake, she's the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church - she can't just ring him up and pop across the pond for a parlay? Are things that bad? And then she goes and blames the fact that his Church is in worst condition than hers (who is she kidding?). "I think the biggest difficulty is the conflict in the Church of England is far greater than it is in this church. " Can you imagine if President Bush had said the same thing about Prime Minster Blair if Blair had stopped returning his calls? "I think the biggest difficulty is the conflict in England is far greater than it is in this country." The howls of outrage, the arrogance of such a statement, the audacity to say such a thing publicly would mean that the president was in complete denial over the crises in our own country and had become so deluded that he would blame the breakdown of his relationship with Blair as Blair's own fault. Good heaven's, we'd have to reinforce the Capitol from getting burned again after a statement like that.

But here we have the Presiding Bishop blaming her lack of relationship with the Archbishop of Canterbury on him. It can't be her fault, it's never never her fault. It doesn't even seem to cross her mind that some of his greatest "difficulties" are due to the actions of the American Episcopal Church.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Bishop Lee releases statement that he did not consent to inhibit Bishop Duncan

BB NOTE: Here is Bishop Lee's statement on the attempt by the Presiding Bishop to inhibit Bishop Duncan, Moderator of the Common Cause Partnership. Bishop Lee is one of three senior bishops with jurisdiction that the Presiding Bishop must consult before inhibiting a bishop. While Bishop Frade of the Diocese of Southeast Florida voted in favor of inhibition, the third senior bishop with jurisdiction, Bishop Wimberly of the Diocese of Texas voted with Bishop Lee to not inhibit the Bishop of Pittsburgh.

I along with the two other most senior active bishops in the House of Bishops were asked by Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori to review the evidence and give consent to moving forward with the inhibitions of the Rt. Rev. Robert Duncan, Bishop of Pittsburgh and the Rt. Rev. John-David Schofield, Bishop of San Joaquin on the charge of abandonment of the communion of this Church. I gave my consent for the inhibition of Bishop Schofield. It is clear that by his actions and their result he has abandoned the communion of this Church.

I did not give my consent for the inhibition of Bishop Duncan at this time. The Diocese of Pittsburgh, which Bishop Duncan leads, has not formalized any change to their membership within the Episcopal Church. I do not take either of these actions lightly, the giving or withholding of consent to these inhibitions. I fear that Bishop Duncan’s course may be inevitable. But I also believe that it is most prudent to take every precaution and provide every opportunity for Bishop Duncan and the leadership of the Diocese of Pittsburgh to turn back from the course they seem to desire and instead to remain in the Episcopal Church.

The Rt. Rev. Peter James Lee
Bishop of Virginia

LATER: As I was preparing to post this statement, I came across this essay by Scott Carson, Associate Professor of Philosophy at Ohio University, called "A Tale of Two Bishops." Scott was a member of Chapel of the Cross at Chapel Hill, North Carolina where both men served, Peter Lee as rector and Bob Duncan as University Chaplain. Check it out here.

Uh oh ... Diocese of Virginia Comission recommends taking steps toward permitting same sex blessings as "Local Option"

BB NOTE: Following last years' Council of the Diocese of Virginia, Bishop Lee created another group called the "R-5 Commission." Their task was to “to discern a possible ‘emerging consensus’ regarding the permitting of ‘local option’ for the blessing of same-sex unions" and then report to this year's Diocesan Council which starts later this week. However, it looks like they are planning to pass out "educational materials" favoring the blessing of same sex unions in the Diocese of Virginia. They also want to appoint a new commission to carry this action. While there are at least two excellent orthodox members of R-5, they seemed to have been outnumbered since the proposed vision of the so-called educational materials aimed at "consensus building" does not include making the case for the biblical view of lifetime holy matrimony between a man and a woman. This is a page out of After the Ball. The point is to desensitize the diocese into complacency.

All ready we've heard from one of our regulars here at the Cafe. He writes this synopsis of the report:

The group is making recommendations for the Council. The theology is very iffy in the report (again relying on the fact that we let Gentiles into the church so that must mean we offer SSB's ...). The group's recommendations include setting up four town hall meetings at which to "share resources for education" and to "establish a better sense of an 'emerging consensus' pertaining to 'local option' for the blessing of same-gender unions ..." in the Diocese over the next year.

The educational material to be collected and then distributed by the group is, we are told, "for the pastoral care and spiritual support of same-gender couples in committed relationships."

So while the R5 Group recognizes that not everyone agrees with this theological position, they are not prepared to produce educational materials that would represent those who disagree with the "emerging consensus."

I don't suppose they even gave it a thought ... though they do conclude that "The Commission does not regard the expression of these views as incompatible with full membership of the Church, and we specifically resolve that we remain in communion with those who hold these views and regard each of them with respect." Translation: We don't agree with the "minority of the Commission" who hold less "moderate" views, but we all want to be able to say we're in this together. Whatever that would mean, when the different groups hold contradictory theological positions.

Here are the recommendations from the Commission Report:

We, the members of the R-5 Commission, being mindful of our membership in the Anglican Communion, recommend that the 213th Annual Council of the Diocese of Virginia, building on the process of continued listening and discernment of a possible “emerging consensus” with regard to the permitting of “local option” for the blessing of same-gender unions, appoint a new commission to identify the practical steps necessary to provide for the pastoral care and spiritual support of same-gender couples in committed monogamous relationships.

We specifically recommend that:

1) An appointed Commission compile and make available theological, catechetical, and liturgical resources within the Episcopal Church and the wider Anglican Communion for the pastoral care and spiritual support of same-gender couples in committed relationships; and
2) The Commission design and execute four town hall meetings, in order to share
resources for education and to establish a better sense of an “emerging consensus”
pertaining to “local option” for the blessing of same-gender unions; and
3) The Commission be tasked to make a report of its findings and work to the 214th
Annual Council, in time for further action to be taken in anticipation of the 76th
General Convention of the Episcopal Church in 2009.

This recommendation seeks to provide an ongoing commitment to discern ways of being generous and faithful in our common pastoral call, even as we acknowledge that we are not of one mind in this Diocese on the permissibility of “local option” in the blessing of same-gender unions.

Who are they kidding? Who didn't read the Reconciliation Commission Report (Level Five Conflict)? Or the Windsor Report (No to Same Sex Blessings)? Or the Primates Reports from Dromantine (No to Same Sex Blessings) and Dar Es Salaam (No to Same Sex Blessings)? Or the Bishop's Special Committee Report (Congregations are Voting to Depart) or even the Archbishop of Canterbury's recent Advent Letter (N-O spells No)? Now the re-education begins for the diocese, despite the pleas of the minority on this most-recent commission. "No" is not in their vocabulary. Council officially opens this Friday. Stay tuned.

LATER: For those of you who are attending Diocesan Council and find this report troubling, you may want to check out this Open Letter to Katharine Jefferts Schori by Dermot O’Callaghan, a member of General Synod of the Anglican Church of Ireland.

Roger in the comments brings up R-23s which continues as the policy of the Diocese of Virginia. In order for a commission to go forward with their re-education materials, will the Council first repeal R-23s from the 209th Council of the Diocese of Virginia;

R-23s Reaffirmation of Policy on Sexual Intimacy
(As presented by the Committee and adopted by Council)

Whereas, significant differences have arisen in the Diocese of Virginia in the wake of the 74th General Convention’s votes on matters of human sexuality, now, therefore be it

Resolved, that the 209th Annual Council of the Diocese of Virginia reaffirms the Diocesan model for sexual intimacy as adopted by the 199th Council in the words of Bishop Lee: that “the normative context for sexual intimacy is lifelong, heterosexual, monogamous marriage, and we have resisted with compassionate strength attempts to divide us, or to define us, by such a fearful or narrow expression of that teaching that it becomes oppressive and self-righteous.”

How can this most-recent Commission make the recommendations that it is attempting to do while R-23s still stands? When does a diocese go from being "not of one mind" to becoming "double-minded?" Guess we'll see this weekend. The Diocese is in our prayers. In fact, we're thinking of organizing a 24-Hour Prayer Vigil here at the Cafe while Diocesan Council is going on. Stay tuned for more on that as well.

Think it's time to post the "Official Cafe Theme Song" again ...

Here's why - the Archbishop of Canterbury is asking for bishops from all over the world to pay an enormous expense to come and tell stories. Those of us who are veterans to General Convention know what "telling stories" really means. Frankly, you want to hear a good story? Pick up Harry Potter. There's more realism in those stories than what we seem to be getting of late from Lambeth Palace. Here, for all this talk of a listening process and telling stories, he still doesn't seem to be able to hear the anguished cries of orthodox Anglicans in North America. He is subjective and naive. I almost feel sorry for him. If he really wants to get the bishops of the Anglican Communion together, perhaps this might be a better way to do it:

At least it would be real.

LA Times Reporting: Diocese of Los Angeles Breaks Episcopal Canon on the Eucharist

Here's the story at GetReligion here and the LA Times here.

The LA Times reports:

Swami Sarvadevananda, of Vedanta Society of Southern California, was among about a dozen Hindu leaders honored during the service. He called Bruno's stance "a great and courageous step" that binds the two communities.

"By declaring that there will be no more proselytizing, the bishop has opened a new door of understanding," Sarvadevananda said. "The modern religious man must expand his understanding and love of religions and their practices."

All were invited to Holy Communion, after the Episcopal celebrant elevated a tray of consecrated Indian bread, and deacons raised wine-filled chalices.

In respect to Hindu tradition, a tray of flowers was also presented. Christians and Hindus lined up for communion, but since Orthodox Hindus shun alcohol, they consumed only the bread.

Here's what Canon 1:17:7 clearly states:

Sec. 7. No unbaptized person shall be eligible to receive Holy Communion in this Church.

So, if Los Angeles can publicly break canons, are the Episcopal Church canons law or just merely suggestions? Or are all canons not alike? Is this a double-standard?

Or does the word "baptized" have a new meaning?

Will the next step be for the Episcopal Church to start selling off the empty church buildings to the Hindus? We'll be watching 815 on this one.

Dylan performance earns Blanchett Oscar nomination

Cate Blanchett's performance as an interpretation of Bob Dylan, circa 1967, in I'm Not There has earned her a Best Supporting Actress nomination for an Oscar. She also received an Oscar nomination for Best Actress for her lead role in Elizabeth: The Golden Age.

Blanchett's performance, frankly, was the best thing about I'm Not There (though I did love David Cross' jewel of a performance as Allen Ginsburg), yet the film is still a fascinating trip through one man's mind - though not necessarily the mind of Bob Dylan.

Last weekend Blanchett won the Golden Globe for her performance as Dylan, one very much inspired by the D.A. Pennebaker film, Don't Look Back as well as scenes from the bootleg documentary, Eat the Document (which we see excerpts of in Martin Scorsese's award-winning film, No Direction Home).

What we still don't know is how the Oscars will be done this year as the Writer's Strike looms on. Stay tuned.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Monday Night at the Cafe

Okay, so the "agenda" is out for the Lambeth Conference and I read through it and for some reason, Jefferson Airplane came to mind. Maybe Rowan is a hippie after all. The Lambeth Conference agenda reads like a "Be In." Groovy, man - like, farout. Chase those rabbits.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Live from Mad City

COLUMBIA, MD--We're here live at Mad City for the Songwriters Showcase. Back in 1973 (yep, Richard Nixon was president) I walked Hale Junior High School and met Kathy Stanley, now an accomplished songwriter and performer. In our quest to learn our new camcorder, we're here at "Mad City," a very cool coffee shop that serves Kona Coffee. Kathy's going to be up soon and we'll see what sort of video we can get. She's an awesome songwriter. Stay tuned.

UPDATED: Straight from the BBCam, here's a performance of "You'll Do," By Kathy Stanley:

Next up: More from Ray Remesh & Loose Change performing Driftwood:

The following is off the iSight camera, but we'll have the concert off of the Trust BabyBlue Camcorder tomorrow. But this was downloaded right from the venue. Stay tuned. It's great to have friends that last through decades of one's life, even thirty five years. You just never know.

Here's Ray Remesh and Loose Change - they were great!

LATER: And finally, Kevin Stanley joins his mom in their song, "Fading Away." And with that, we bid you goodnight. We'll dedicate this one to Mr. Fry, erstwhile Social Studies Teacher of San Diego's Hale Junior High, circa 1974 - and to all the members of "Rent A Mob." You know who you are.

You'll Do ©Kathy Stanley & Sara Storey; Hideaway ©Kathy Stanley & Marc-Alan Barnette; Fading Away ©Kathy Stanley & Kevin Stanley

Forget the Three Wise Men ...

Last month, as children were preparing for their annual Christmas Pageants, the Archbishop of Canterbury told the London Telegraph that the story of the Three Wise Men is just a myth. Well, now we learn from Katharine Jefferts Schori that it wasn't the Three Wise Men after all, but the Three Wise Women.

According to Christianity Today in their story online "Episcopal Headquarters Takes Steps to Remove Conservative Bishops," George Conger reports that Bishop Schori sent out Christmas Cards to all the Episcopal bishops that "shows a mother and child surrounded by three wise women."

Of course! The men stayed home and watched sports and it was really the Three Wise Women who showed up. Someone get Rowan on the phone. Apparently there's no mention of Jesus in the card at all. Instead the card focuses on "wise women throughout time and in every culture know themselves to be seekers and seers of the divine."

And that, Charlie Brown, is what Christmas is really all about.

Friday, January 18, 2008

The Surprise of Repentance and Reconciliation

BB NOTE: The Mobile Register has done a three part series on the amazing story of two men who meet again after forty years. But it's no ordinary meeting. It's life changing unexpected meeting forty years in the making.

Tom Tarrants is an old friend for many years, a gentle and kind person who's life is a living testimony of the power of repentance, forgiveness, and redemption. Today he is the president of the C.S. Lewis Institute in Washington, D.C. But forty years ago he was someone else entirely - and forty years ago Stan Chassin crossed his path.

Here's an excerpt from the series. Please take time to read it all.

Stan Chassin goes to see for himself if Tommy Tarrants, the racist, anti-Semitic bully of his childhood, had truly changed after 40-plus years. The dramatic meeting of the two men brings a roomful of people to tears.

It was the week before Thanksgiving, and Stan Chassin, a 59-year-old Mobile investment counselor, had been nervous all day.

Earlier in the fall, he had heard from a friend that a bully from his youth was coming back to town. Tommy Tarrants had terrorized Chassin in high school by cursing him for being Jewish, grabbing him by the throat and threatening to kill him.

Chassin then watched from afar as Tarrants left school, joined up with the Ku Klux Klan and was wounded in a police ambush while attempting to blow up the home of a Jewish man in Meridian, Miss.

"I realized he could have killed me," Chassin says.

Tarrants was now 60 and returning to Mobile, not as a Klansman, but as a profoundly changed man. Years before, he had published a memoir, "The Conversion of a Klansman," and a decade ago had become president of the C.S. Lewis Institute, an organization near Washington, D.C., dedicated to helping people grow spiritually.

Tarrants was to be the guest speaker at a dinner at Spring Hill Presbyterian Church in Mobile.

Chassin, wary about what he had heard of Tarrants' transformation into a humble man of God, wanted to see for himself.

"My father always taught me to confront my fears," Chassin says. "I had a chance to unload my demons. But the closer I got to that day, I wondered, 'Do I have the internal fortitude to go through with this?'"

On the evening of Nov. 14, Chassin, a member of Ahavas Chesed synagogue, drove alone to Spring Hill Presbyterian and entered the church's Fellowship Hall.

When he walked into the room and saw Tarrants, Chassin had a flashback to high school. "I thought, he's not so big, I could have taken him!"

Tall and slightly stooped, Tarrants had no hint about him of the long-ago teenager's swagger or ranting anger.

As Tarrants was introduced by the Rev. Norman H. McCrummen III, Tarrants seemed to Chassin "almost frail."

Tarrants began by speaking of his pleasure at visiting his hometown and noted a task he had accomplished this trip - buying a cemetery plot for himself.

He did not say so during his speech, but Tarrants bought the plot next to his late father's grave. He had a difficult relationship with his dad while growing up, even hated him. But the father and son had made peace at the end, and there had been forgiveness between them.

With his gently modulated voice, and touches of a dinner speaker's humor, Tarrants spoke of his mission at the C.S. Lewis Institute. He talked about the importance of faith.

Tarrants told of his slide toward militant bigotry, how he learned to despise blacks and loathe Jews. He talked about sin as "a cancer" that had come into his body and heart.

He told of being in a prison cell, of reading classical philosophy and Scripture, of a profound change in his heart as he came to understand the true meaning of God in his life. He spoke of grace, of forgiveness.

In the audience, Chassin listened and watched.

The grandson of a rabbi, Chassin had never heard what he sensed was God speaking to him directly until Yom Kippur at his synagogue earlier that fall. God was speaking to him about Tommy Tarrants. Chassin had been puzzled, even skeptical.

But now he believed that what God had asked of him on that Day of Atonement was to be fulfilled.

Tarrants finished his speech. He asked for questions.

Chassin hesitated. Then he stood.

"It's hard facing you," he told Tarrants.

Chassin began to recount his story of how Tarrants had grabbed him by the throat at school, called him "a kike bastard" and swore to him, "If I ever see you again, Jew bastard, I'll kill you."

A few others in the Spring Hill Presbyterian audience that night were worried, at first, about what Chassin might do -- getting even after all these years for the long-simmering aggression.

But Chassin remained calm, even as he told his own story of violence at the hand of Tarrants.

Chassin's voice got stronger; he grew calmer. As he spoke, he saw a look of pain on Tarrants' face.

Rev. McCrummen, watching, says he saw Tarrants "almost crumble. It was so obvious, the remorse of the memory."

Chassin told Tarrants that he had been in synagogue on Yom Kippur -- "praying very hard" -- when he heard God speak to him.

"God told me," Chassin said, "'You have to forgive him for what he did to you. And then, for all the hatred and disgust you felt toward him, you have to ask Tommy,'" Chassin's voice was breaking now, "'to forgive you.'"

The Fellowship Hall fell silent.

Quietly, Tarrants answered: "I appreciate you being so gracious and forgiving. I'm very grateful, Stan, for your having the courage to come and share your forgiveness."

Tarrants addressed the audience: "Isn't it amazing," he went on softly, "what God can do? God spoke to him."

Chassin walked forward and held out his hand to shake.

The two men embraced.

Chassin was weeping.

Tarrants, who had never had anyone approach him from his past like this, felt anguished to know of the pain he had inflicted on Chassin all these years. He wondered who else from his past might still be carrying old wounds, whom else he must still reconcile with.

-From Deliver Us From Evil: Forgive Us Our Trespasses, Mobile Press Register, January 8, 2008.

Read the entire series here:

Part One:
Encounter with hate: Stan Chassin remembers the day in high school when he was confronted by an anti-Semitic schoolmate.

Part Two:
'I deserved to Die': Tommy Tarrants did plenty of bad in his life and saw cohorts killed along the way. Eventually, Scripture changed his life and helped him earn forgiveness.

Part Three:
Forgive our trespasses: Stan Chassin goes to see for himself if Tommy Tarrants, the racist, anti-Semitic bully of his childhood, had truly changed after 40-plus years. The dramatic meeting of the two men brings a roomful of people to tears.

Small Town

As some may know, the case now before the Fairfax Circuit Court regarding the vote of eleven churches in Virginia to separate from the Diocese of Virginia is now in the hands of the judge, Randy Bellows, and we now wait for his decision.

So tonight I head out to the local Chinese restaurant to meet My Brother the Methodist and his family for dinner. It's a sparsely filled room tonight - most Friday night patrons seem to be doing the take-out. As I come through the door, I look to find my family but I see someone else instead.

The Suffragan Bishop of Virginia, the Rt. Rev. David Jones, is looking right at me from his table in the center of the room. Does he recognize me? I smile weakly, somewhat shocked, lifting a hand to wave hesitantly, as I did back on the plane to New Orleans. I haven't seen him since the three days in the Fairfax Court House back in November and certainly not since he voted with the Title IV Committee. He looks away.

At the same time, my niece and nephew now spot me from their table behind his and joyfully proclaim my arrival to the entire restaurant with such enthusiasm I am sure they can be heard all the way to Richmond. I just want to hide behind the potted palm.

So tonight we dedicate this song in honor of one of the largest counties in the United States, because even though it may have over a million residents, some times it's just a small town.

My Rhapsody Playlist