Saturday, February 28, 2009

Saturday Night at the Cafe: Things we leave behind

Was Punxsutawney Phil right after all?

So Phil saw his shadow, but it's been such a mild winter here in DC (we thought it was part of the Obama Effect, that inclement weather just seemed to bounce off the DC Dome of Happy Glow). Friends were just remarking last week that it seemed that we would march bravely into spring without one major winter storm (sending the others to New England instead).

And then, well - maybe Phil was right after all. Unless the DC Dome of Happy Glow continues to do its magic.

Friday, February 27, 2009

AP Reporting: Episcopal Bishop-Buddhist

ESCANABA, Mich. (AP) - The new bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Northern Michigan is an ordained Zen Buddhist.

Northern Michigan's Episcopal congregations and delegates overwhelmingly elected the Rev. Kevin Thew Forrester at their convention on Saturday.

The diocesan Web site says Thew Forrester "has practiced Zen meditation for almost a decade," and the Buddhist community welcomed his commitment by granting him "lay ordination."

The Web site says Northern Michigan's new bishop "resonates deeply" with "his own interfaith dialogue with Buddhism and meditative practice."

Friday Night at the Cafe: U2 performs surprise concert tonight on the roof of the BBC's Broadcast House in London

You can see All Souls Langham Place in the video. All Souls (where John Stott was once the long-time rector - or "vicar") continues to be a beacon for evangelical Anglicanism. It is adjacent to the BBC's Broadcast House where U2 performed tonight on the roof.

Thirty years ago, the Beatles also performed on the roof at their record label Apple's London headquarters. Here's an excerpt:

Of course, it's not the first time U2's performed on the roof. A couple of other occasions come to mind, including this performance in their hometown of Dublin, Ireland in 2000:

But this is the one remembered best of all, a performance - with some resistance - of The Streets Have No Name from an LA rooftop circa 1987:

Okay, so we're adding this track off the new album No Line on the Horizon since it's now out and about and it's called Magnificent and I love it, just love it, it's such a contrast to With or Without You - which for some reason it reminds me of. This may be the first song from U2 that I really love since Joshua Tree. I was prepared not to like the album because I didn't like the tone of the Boots song. But it appears this is a concept album and the tracks are not disjointed (though the San Francisco Chronicle seems to hate it, but then the San Francisco Chronicle might not be here next week).

This video of Magnificent version comes with the lyrics:


Here's what Rolling Stone says about Magnificent:

"I was born to sing for you/I didn't have a choice but to lift you up," Bono declares early on this album, in a song called "Magnificent." He does it in an oddly low register, a heated hush just above the shimmer of the Edge's guitar and the iron-horse roll of bassist Adam Clayton and drummer Larry Mullen Jr. Bono is soon up in thin air with those familiar rodeo yells, on his way to the chorus, which ends with him just singing the word "magnificent," repeating it with relish, stretching the syllables.

But he does it not in self-congratulation, more like wonder and respect, as if in middle age, on his band's 11th studio album, he still can't believe his gift — and luck.
And it looks like George W. Bush still has one friend left. The Times of London reports:
The singer is keen to talk me through the deals his Aid In Africa organisation struck with the former US President, persuading him to commit to more than $40 billion in aid for the relief of poverty and disease. He gives George W. Bush personal credit.

What a strange world when the last remaining defender of the most unpopular President in US history is an Irish rock star in designer sunglasses. “Yes, it's annoying. It's just not becoming is it?” he responds. “But I can take the bottles and the rocks and the embarrassment to my bandmates. I will stay that most annoying of things, a single- issue protagonist.”

Tip of the TinFoil to Jilliemae too!

HP Update: We have another preview of the newest film set for release this summer

Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince is coming out this summer, after being delayed from it's original release date last November. Looks like it's going to be well worth the wait:

Bishop Bob Duncan writes to the clergy and people of the Diocese of Pittsburgh

via e-mail and here:

27th February, A.D. 2009
First Friday in Lent

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

As we enter the holy season of Lent, I have been thinking about the broken relationships we face.. The depth of that brokenness was encapsulated for me in the most recent communication of the new Episcopal Church Diocese concerning our realignment and the Calvary Church litigation. I am especially troubled that the approach taken by the leaders of the new diocese misrepresents what the litigation to date has been about and calls into question the consistently expressed and long-standing commitment on our part to find a charitable and non-injurious way through the dispute between us.

We struggle not just with flesh and blood, as St. Paul reminds us. Ours is surely a situation in which powers and principalities have been at work to confuse and to complicate. I pray daily that God will provide guidance for the best way forward - as only He can do. By God's help, we must seek to discover a more excellent way.

The facts relating to Diocesan withdrawal are well-known to all of you. Similarly, our position in the Calvary litigation has been consistent and straightforward from the very beginning. The 2005 Stipulation and Order does not address Diocesan realignment.

After the Realignment Resolution passed at the 2007 Diocesan Convention, Calvary took the position that if Realignment occurred after a second reading of the resolution at the 2008 Convention, then the Stipulation would act to bar the Diocese from continuing to use and administer Diocesan property. We opposed this argument, advising the court of our position that the Stipulation did not address realignment. We advised the court that the process for Diocesan realignment was in place and that we intended after realignment to continue to hold and administer Diocesan property for the beneficial use of all the parishes.

This process was transparent. We have tried to follow the good example of St. Paul in the 26th chapter of Acts by speaking and acting openly, and "not in a corner."

The leaders of the new diocese challenge the validity of the Diocesan realignment. Although we strongly disagree with this position, we recognize that some of these leaders publicly took this position at our 2007 and 2008 Conventions. In this respect, it is right to acknowledge that their position on this issue is consistent, and to recognize that they believe it their duty to challenge the legitimacy of the Diocesan action.

The same cannot be said, however, for the new diocese leaders' recent adoption of Calvary's arguments regarding the 2005 Stipulation and Order. On behalf of the new diocese's Standing Committee and Board of Trustees, Dr. Simons and Mr. Ayres (the presidents of each body) have written: "We call attention to the stipulation signed in good faith by Bishop Duncan's attorneys on October 15, 2005, which clearly defines how assets are to be disposed of, if any attempt to leave the Episcopal Church occurred - they are to stay in the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh of the Episcopal Church."

The statements made, and the inferences apparent for readers to draw, are both incorrect and unfair. The reference to "good faith" and "Bishop Duncan's attorneys" appears to be an attempt to personalize the present dispute as being about my actions alone, and they question my good faith. Our counsel represented me as Bishop of the Diocese, but also represented all of the other defendants in the litigation, including the then-members of the Standing Committee, and the Diocese itself as an entity. Personal attacks on me during the litigation are not new, but I reject the improper personalization of my role as Bishop. On issues of property and fiscal stewardship, the Bishop operates within a well-defined role outlined by the Diocesan Constitution, Canons, and Financial Regulations. This structure delineates the proper role of not only the Bishop, but also the role of the Standing Committee, the Board of Trustees, the Diocesan Council, and the Diocesan Convention. I have
faithfully exercised my duties on all of these issues.

Beyond needlessly personalizing the dispute - an action that I admit wounds me, particularly because I have counted so many of the leaders of the new diocese as friends and gospel allies - the proffered discussion of the Stipulation is simply incorrect. The letter of February 18 states that the stipulation "clearly defines" what happens "if any attempt to leave the Episcopal church occurred." Instead of quoting the Stipulation to demonstrate its clarity, however, an interpretation of the document's language is substituted. In fact, paragraph 1 of the Stipulation reads as follows:

"Property, whether real or personal, (hereinafter "Property") held or administered by the Episcopal Diocese of the Episcopal Church of the United States of America (hereinafter "the Diocese") for the beneficial use of the parishes and institutions of the Diocese shall continue to be so held or administered by the Diocese regardless of whether some or even a majority of the parishes in the Diocese might decide not to remain in the Episcopal Church of the United States of America."

It is my strong conviction that two points are, indeed, "clear" from this language. First, this paragraph addresses "parishes in the Diocese" deciding "not to remain in the Episcopal Church." It does not address the Diocese as an entity deciding "not to remain in the Episcopal Church."

Second, the context of paragraph 1 is that the Diocese agreed that if parishes left the Episcopal Church, Diocesan Property would "continue to be … held and administered" for the "beneficial use of parishes and institutions of the Diocese." The paragraph does not require the Diocese to "transfer" property, or to "abandon" property (as would be the case if the Diocese were to "leave property behind"), but instead states how Diocesan property "shall continue to be … held or administered." Applied to our current situation, it is plain that we are not violating the Stipulation. The Diocese "continues" to hold and administer Diocesan Property, and does so "for the beneficial use of the parishes and institutions of the Diocese."

Beyond the words in the Stipulation and Order, there is the context of that agreement. The purpose of the Stipulation was to settle litigation, litigation in which Calvary sought to impose sweeping restrictions on the ongoing use of Diocesan assets, including in the event of Diocesan withdrawal from TEC. Calvary was aware of the possibility of Diocesan withdrawal before the settlement, but withdrawal is not addressed by the Stipulation.. Had Calvary sought to have Diocesan withdrawal covered by the Stipulation, we would not have, and could not have, agreed to such a settlement. Calvary now reads the Stipulation as if it documents the Diocese's unconditional surrender and Calvary's complete victory in the litigation.. In addition to being incorrect, this interpretation just doesn't make sense.

The real point clear from the letter is that the new diocese's true argument is not that the Stipulation has been violated, but that the Diocese's withdrawal from TEC is invalid. There is only one way that Diocesan assets could "stay in the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh of the Episcopal Church", and that is if the "Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh of the Episcopal Church" was a continuing entity, i.e., the Diocese's realignment was invalid. If, on the other hand, the Diocese's realignment was valid - which it was - then the Diocese "continues" to exist as it always has, but is now aligned with the Province of the Southern Cone (and very soon with the Anglican Church in North America.) A new diocese may form in Pittsburgh and align with TEC, but this is not a "continuing" Diocese. And for such a diocese to gain control over any Diocesan property, the property would have to be transferred from our Diocese to the new diocese.

On this point, too, we have been consistent and clear with Calvary and with the court. Our withdrawal is valid and proper, and the Stipulation imposes no requirement on the Diocese to transfer any property to those parishes that leave the Diocese and work together to form a new diocese, aligned with TEC. Despite this legal position, we have repeatedly stated to the court that we would prefer, and that we would agree to, an equitable distribution of Diocesan property, as the leaders of the new diocese are well aware. Moreover, a "first draft" proposal for such a distribution prepared by pre-realignment Trustees Douglas Wicker and Douglas Toth was in circulation even before the vote to realign. The statement of the leadership of the new Episcopal Church diocese that "no proposal has been tendered until February 5, 2009" is misleading in the extreme. Regretfully, the timing of proposals is irrelevant because the Simons/Ayres letter makes clear that the leaders of the new diocese
do not want an equitable division; they want all of the Diocesan property. The letter of February 18th unequivocally rejects the offer made by our Standing Committee and embraced by our Board of Trustees to mediate equitably.

The leaders of the new diocese, and many within TEC, will insist on a legal fight over the validity of our withdrawal from TEC. We will engage in this battle, as we must. But there should be no mistake on the following points: the Stipulation and Order does not address the Diocese leaving TEC, and the leaders of the new diocese want nothing less than all Diocesan assets.

In closing, I request your prayer and support so that we may find a better way to address these issues and peaceably end the dispute that divides us. Our commitment - and I know that I can speak here for the Standing Committee, Board of Trustees, Diocesan Council and all leaders and people of the re-aligned Diocese of Pittsburgh - is to journey faithfully through this Lent until God's Easter breaks upon us. And alongside this, our commitment is to stay focused on the mission of fishing for men and women, boys and girls, in the deep waters to which Jesus has directed us (Luke 5:1-11).

Faithfully your bishop,

+Bob Pittsburgh

"You can't stand on the fence"

I don't know who this is, but it's as American as they come. I love America!

Obviously, the word is spreading that The Episcopal Church is poised to affirm a practicing Zen Buddhist as a bishop. And this guy tells it like it is. This is as real as it gets and TEC has a problem. Now it's raising up Buddhist Bishops - that even a guy in his truck has heard.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Lost in Canterbury - The Film

Last summer BabyBlue joined StandFirm's fearless bloggers, Matt Kennedy and Sarah Hey to take a break from the Lambeth Conference festivities and go out to dinner. It seemed simple enough - after all, Canterbury, England is not exactly the bright lights, the big city. But then again, we have three Americans driving on the wrong side of the road. Get your bag of popcorn and gingersnaps and join us as we are Lost in Canterbury.

Here's Part Two of this most unique tour of the historic city of Canterbury, England:

Thursday Night at the Cafe Double Feature: First up - From the Cathedral to the Pub at Lambeth's End

Tonight we have a special double-feature here at the BabyBlueCafe. Both are videos made during the Lambeth Conference last summer in Canterbury, England.

First up is an "insiders-view" gonzo-style video of what it was like "behind the scenes" at Canterbury Cathedral following the final Eucharist that closed the Lambeth Conference - called by the Archbishop of Canterbury once every ten years.

In the video you'll see us pass checkpoints as we walk with the bishops and archbishops of the Anglican Communion. They are heading to a party in the rain. I wasn't quite sure where I was going since it was at first an undisclosed location. Lambeth was often like that. Often it was the unexpected that was the most memorable.

But we do find our way to the Parrot, a historic pub founded in 1370 and greet friends, take our word for it.

Stay tuned for Lost in Canterbury, coming up next!

California Supreme Court issues a major correction to their earlier ruling

Can I just state for the record what a blessing it is to have Anglican Curmudgeon online? He hits yet another one out of the park with his analysis of the correction handed down by the California Supreme Court to their earlier ruling - thus clarifying that the California churches can now defend themselves in open court. What they have ruled is that it can't just be dismissed one way or the other - that everyone is now going to have their day in court. That's good news.

Now the California case begins. Everything else has been prologue. In this way, the California case is now behind the Virginia case (though one does wonder whether the California judges read Randy Bellows rulings in Virginia - which came out after they ruled - and thought, oops). The case hasn't actually been argued at trial yet in California - that is yet to come.

Here's an excerpt from Curmudgeon's post "Rushing to Judgement":
I explained in this earlier post what was wrong about the Court's original opinion. Briefly, the Court said it was deciding "the merits" of the case---before the defendants in the case, the individual parishes in Orange County who had each been sued first by the Diocese of Los Angeles and then by the Episcopal Church (USA), had even answered the complaints! Just like any other branch of government, courts cannot deprive people of their property without following "due process of law". One does not have to be an attorney to appreciate that if you are sued, you get a chance to answer your opponent's complaint before anything can be decided in your case "on the merits".

The error must have been at least a little embarrassing for the justices and their law clerks. In their zeal to render an opinion in the case, they literally rushed to judgment by purporting to decide the case "on the merits". The latter is a legal turn of phrase meaning that the case is decided squarely on the facts presented to the court, instead of being brushed aside on procedural or technical grounds that do not resolve any of the factual or legal issues raised. Normally, therefore, one expects a decision "on the merits" at the end, and not at the beginning, of a case. For the Court to assume it could decide the merits of the Episcopal Church Cases before the churches themselves had even an opportunity to answer would make it look as though the justices were biased, or had prejudged the case to such a degree that they did not even need to hear from any of the defendants. In other words, they would be saying: "Our minds are made up---don't confuse us with the facts!"

Now let us take a look at how the Court has gone about stepping back from its mistake. The modifications it made may best be understood by presenting the text of the original opinion below. Then, by using strikeouts for deletions and underlining for new language, I show just what the Court decided to change in order to avoid any appearance that it was prejudging the case.
Please, please read all of "Rushing to Judgement" here. What we see is that the case will now be tried in open court. And a lot of water has gone under the bridge since this case first started. Now it really begins.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Dramatic Reading is back

Once again we have dramatic reading of a certain letter recently penned by the Presiding Bishop following her recent short parlay with the Anglicans in Alexandria, Egypt. The original letter is here. Click the recording above, or click here.

iTunes has recently changed locations for the podcast when Apple's web services changed to MobileMe - so stay tuned for that location.

NOTE: To download the latest version of QuickTime, click here. Also, Firefox or Safari work best. MS Internet Explorer belongs in the Smithsonian next to the TRS80.

C.S. Lewis: The Inner Ring - Revisited

Reading Kevin Martin's courageous essay brings to light strategic processes that interfere in the free election of bishops (and again, it's time we remember the HHHB and not be too quick to judge motives, as tempting as that may be at this point with a Buddhist being elected bishop), we are reminded of a landmark essay written by the venerable author and scholar, C.S. Lewis called "The Inner Ring."

Even as we reconsider the essay in light of recent developments in Northern Michigan, it is also perhaps helpful to reflect that the need for an inner-circle seems to be, from Lewis' point of view, a result of The Fall. Since many progressives don't believe in the Fall, except for those who disagree with them, the idea that cultivating inner-circles as political strategy seems to challenge their own sense of utopia-making - but from Lewis' point of view, few escape but those who have no idea what's going on until it's (almost?) too late.

Collectivism seems to be quite in rage right now (isn't it always?), while rugged individualism is out (isn't it always?). Smooth-talking is in, mavericks are out (as John McCain discovered). And playing by the unspoken rules is certainly always in, while open and transparent engagement is out (sounds like war to me). One must not upset the apple cart or point to that elephant lounging in the center of the room - unless one is still a maverick with Narnia on his mind.

Here are two excerpts from C.S. Lewis' essay, The Inner Ring:

I must now make a distinction. I am not going to say that the existence of Inner Rings is an evil. It is certainly unavoidable. There must be confidential discussions: and it is not only not a bad thing, it is (in itself) a good thing, that personal friendship should grow up between those who work together. And it is perhaps impossible that the official hierarchy of any organization should quite coincide with its actual workings. If the wisest and most energetic people invariably held the highest posts, it might coincide; since they often do not, there must be people in high positions who are really deadweights and people in lower positions who are more important than their rank and seniority would lead you to suppose. In that way the second, unwritten system is bound to grow up. It is necessary; and perhaps it is not a necessary evil. But the desire which draws us into Inner Rings is another matter. A thing may be morally neutral and yet the desire for that thing may be dangerous. As Byron has said:

Sweet is a legacy, and passing sweet
The unexpected death of some old lady.

The painless death of a pious relative at an advanced age is not an evil. But an earnest desire for her death on the part of her heirs is not reckoned a proper feeling, and the law frowns on even the gentlest attempt to expedite her departure. Let Inner Rings be an unavoidable and even an innocent feature of life, though certainly not a beautiful one: but what of our longing to enter them, our anguish when we are excluded, and the kind of pleasure we feel when we get in?

I have no right to make assumptions about the degree to which any of you may already be compromised. I must not assume that you have ever first neglected, and finally shaken off, friends whom you really loved and who might have lasted you a lifetime, in order to court the friendship of those who appeared to you more important, more esoteric. I must not ask whether you have ever derived actual pleasure from the loneliness and humiliation of the outsiders after you yourself were in: whether you have talked to fellow members of the Ring in the presence of outsiders simply in order that the outsiders might envy; whether the means whereby, in your days of probation, you propitiated the Inner Ring, were always wholly admirable. I will ask only one question-and it is, of course, a rhetorical question which expects no answer. In the whole of your life as you now remember it, has the desire to be on the right side of that invisible line ever prompted you to any act or word on which, in the cold small hours of a wakeful night, you can look back with satisfaction? If so, your case is more fortunate than most.

But I said I was going to give advice, and advice should deal with the future, not the past. I have hinted at the past only to awake you to what I believe to be the real nature of human life. I don't believe that the economic motive and the erotic motive account for everything that goes on in what we moralists call the World. Even if you add Ambition I think the picture is still incomplete. The lust for the esoteric, the longing to be inside, take many forms which are not easily recognizable as Ambition. We hope, no doubt, for tangible profits from every Inner Ring we penetrate: power, money, liberty to break rules, avoidance of routine duties, evasion of discipline. But all these would not satisfy us if we did not get in addition the delicious sense of secret intimacy. It is no doubt a great convenience to know that we need fear no official reprimands from our official senior because he is old Percy, a fellow-member of our ring. But we don't value the intimacy only for the sake of convenience; quite equally we value the convenience as a proof of the intimacy.

My main purpose in this address is simply to convince you that this desire is one of the great permanent mainsprings of human action. It is one of the factors which go to make up the world as we know it-this whole pell-mell of struggle, competition, confusion, graft, disappointment, and advertisement, and if it is one of the permanent mainsprings then you may be quite sure of this. Unless you take measures to prevent it, this desire is going to be one of the chief motives of your life, from the first day on which you enter your profession until the day when you are too old to care. That will be the natural thing-the life that will come to you of its own accord. Any other kind of life, if you lead it, will be the result of conscious and continuous effort. If you do nothing about it, if you drift with the stream, you will in fact be an "inner ringer." I don't say you'll be a successful one; that's as may be. But whether by pining and moping outside Rings that you can never enter, or by passing triumphantly further and further in-one way or the other you will be that kind of man. I have already made it fairly clear that I think it better for you not to be that kind of man.

And then this:

And you will always find them hard to enter, for a reason you very well know. You yourself once you are in, want to make it hard for the next entrant, just as those who are already in made it hard for you. Naturally. In any wholesome group of people which holds together for a good purpose, the exclusions are in a sense accidental. Three or four people who are together for the sake of some piece of work exclude others because there is work only for so many or because the others can't in fact do it. Your little musical group limits its numbers because the rooms they meet in are only so big. But your genuine Inner Ring exists for exclusion. There'd be no fun if there were no outsiders. The invisible line would have no meaning unless most people were on the wrong side of it. Exclusion is no accident: it is the essence.

The quest of the Inner Ring will break your hearts unless you break it. But if you break it, a surprising result will follow. If in your working hours you make the work your end, you will presently find yourself all unawares inside the only circle in your profession that really matters. You will be one of the sound craftsmen, and other sound craftsmen will know it. This group of craftsmen will by no means coincide with the Inner Ring or the Important People or the People in the Know. It will not shape that professional policy or work up that professional influence which fights for the profession as a whole against the public: nor will it lead to those periodic scandals and crises which the Inner Ring produces. But it will do those things which that profession exists to do and will in the long run be responsible for all the respect which that profession in fact enjoys and which the speeches and advertisements cannot maintain. And if in your spare time you consort simply with the people you like, you will again find that you have come unawares to a real inside: that you are indeed snug and safe at the center of something which, seen from without, would look exactly like an Inner Ring. But the difference is that its secrecy is accidental, and its exclusiveness a by-product, and no one was led thither by the lure of the esoteric: for it is only four or five people who like one another meeting to do things that they like. This is friendship. Aristotle placed it among the virtues. It causes perhaps half of all the happiness in the world, and no Inner Ring can ever have it.

We are told in Scripture that those who ask get. That is true, in senses I can't now explore. But in another sense there is much truth in the schoolboy's principle "them as asks shan't have." To a young person, just entering on adult life, the world seems full of Insides," full of delightful intimacies and confidentialities, and he desires to enter them. But if he follows that desire he will reach no "inside" that is worth reaching. The true road lies in quite another direction. It is like the house in Alice Through the Looking Glass.
Read the whole thing here.

Kevin Martin sheds more light on the process that elected a practicing Buddhist as an Episcopal Bishop

The Dean of the Cathedral for the Diocese of Dallas, the Very Rev'd Kevin Martin, offers some illuminating insights into the process that elected the bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Northern Michigan, including the role of the Presiding Bishop in the process and the pressure placed on others to comply with what virtually became an appointment rather than an election.

From Covenant:
I started to call this “Adventures in Hiawatha Land” because it is rooted in what I accidentally learned about the recent election in Northern Michigan.

All this started when I read that the Diocesan leaders there announced that they were only putting forth one candidate for Bishop. Explaining that they by applying their “Total Ministry” model, they had come up with a diocesan team that would be elected at their convention that included one name of a Bishop/developer.

I was not surprised that this diocese of vast territory but few congregations might want to do a different or experimental way of calling a Bishop. Then as I thought of it, I became troubled.

What troubled me was that the leaders there had asked Standing Committees and Bishops to consent to an election. They had not asked for permission to do some other process.

Further, I looked over the canons and discovered there was a method for such a diocese to hold an alternate election process that involved the Province, but they had decided not to use it. I had a nagging feeling that such a small diocese with so few clergy could easily have such a process take on its own life, and this became a further suspicion for me when I noticed that the person nominated was active in the process that brought about the nomination. So, I spoke up.

I wrote the Presiding Bishop pointing out that our Diocesan Standing Committee had consented to an “Election” not an appointment, and I spoke up on the House of Bishops and Deputies Listserv. I make it clear in both my letter and in my post that I was not objecting to the person nominated, but to the process. At that point, I was willing to let the issue go. Then, a blistering post was added that said the real “elephant in the living room” was the person they had nominated and that all the blogs were full of chatter about the person. This was the first indication that I had (I am not a big blogger person) that some were objecting to the person because of his Buddhist training. Even then, I had little concern about the person. I have known clergy who have received Buddhist Meditation training and did not consider this in and of itself a concern. My concern remained the process.

Then one person rebuked me for bringing up an issue that obviously was not a problem for anyone in the Diocese of Northern Michigan because “no one there” had objected to the process. Then, the private emails started to arrive. The more disturbing emails came from people in Northern Michigan. They called to my attention that the “team” being put forth was nearly the same as the “design team” that carried out the process. They further pointed out that the nominee for Bishop was a leader of this team who had considerable influence in the diocese. I suggested that the unhappy folks needed to follow my lead, speak up, and contact the Presiding Bishop’s office.

What I discovered was that people had spoken up.

They were told two things. First, they were informed that the Presiding Bishop had monitored the process there, given permission for it, and that it would do them no good to question it since “she had already given her permission.” Next there came the really distressing revelation. I was then informed by a couple of people that they were informed that there could be repercussions if they spoke up.

Even with this information, I hesitated about speak up further. I still believed that any change would need the local people to voice what was happening. Finally, realizing that I was now something of a voice for the voiceless, I shared what I had learned with the Listserv. I was quickly accused of “Triangling.” I pointed out that I was merely being an advocate for those who because of pressure might not have a voice. Having had my say, having found no interest, having not heard from the Presiding Bishop in response to my letter, I said the serenity prayer and let it go.

So, a flawed process, run by a small group of people, has resulted in a questionable candidate elected to the Episcopate. This will result in some conservatives focusing on the person and his non-orthodox views which will result in an immediate endorsement by the progressive members of our church who will close rank to defend one of their own. The whole affair will be reduced to a conservative/liberal argument. The result will be one more Unitarian in our House of Bishops.

This is not what will trouble me the most.

What will trouble me is three-fold. First, the dissenters in Northern Michigan have informed me that their only real alternative is to just leave the Church. Second, the Church will be pushed further by its most extreme members in silencing any true moderate voices. Lastly, it is one more sign to me that the Church, made up of a thoughtful middle of caring and gracious centrist folks who honor our rules and procedures as a way of honoring a truly embracive and inclusive community, has sadly become something else.

What we have most seen in the Episcopal Church in the past 10 years is the end of reasoned faith.

Read it all here. The Very Rev'd Kevin Martin is the Dean of the Cathedral Church of St. Matthew in the Episcopal Diocese of Dallas. He is a Deputy to General Convention, representing the Diocese of Dallas.

FRIDAY UPDATE: Anglican Curmudgeon has done some more digging and read more about what he found here.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Welcome to the 3rd Annual CafeAnonsBall!

Welcome to the Third Annual CafeAnonsBall! It's Shrove Tuesday and so we're flipping the pancakes and sending them out to your tables where there's pitchers of chai and butterbeer for all.

Sit back as we spin the tunes from our First Annual CafeAnonsBall.

Some of you may not be able to pick up the tunes - we are able to pick them up ourselves on the new Safari 4.0, but Firefox seems to be perplexed. We'll try to make that up to you as we go along!

Folks are asking us about what our pancake recipe will be for this year. We found a really good one from the Baltimore Sun that looks pretty good, so here it is: - just in time!

Blue Moon Pancakes

(Makes 4 to 6 five-inch pancakes or 12 to 14 silver-dollar pancakes)

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon baking powder
2 eggs
2 to 3 tablespoons vanilla
1 1/2 cups milk
3 tablespoons melted butter
3 tablespoons sugar

Combine all ingredients and stir until lumps are gone. Ladle onto a hot (350 degrees) griddle coated with vegetable oil or clarified butter.

If you would like to add extra ingredients, such as chocolate chips or berries, sprinkle them on the wet side of the pancake now, while the underside cooks.

Look for bubbles on the wet surface (a sign that the air is cooking out of the pancakes), or use a spatula to peek underneath, making sure the pancake is golden brown. Flip and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes.

Serve with syrup, whipped cream and more berries or chocolate chips. Enjoy!

Here's the song that a particular Episcopal (TEC) bishop and his wife and I sang together as we wondered back along the nearly-deserted Canterbury streets to the Undisclosed Location, after a the small celebration in the upper room of the historic 14th century pub The Parrot, marking the end of the last Lambeth Conference.

Thoughts turn to New Orleans, of course. Here comes an order of pancakes as we listen:

That's Lonnie Donegan and The Battle for New Orleans, circa 1959. Here's Wiki:
Lonnie Donegan MBE (29 April 1931 – 3 November 2002) was a skiffle musician, possibly the most famous of them all, with more than 20 UK Top 30 hits to his name. He is also known as the King of Skiffle and is often cited as a large influence on the generation of British musicians who became famous in the 1960s.
So what is Skiffle music?

Skiffle is a type of folk music with jazz, blues and country influences, usually using homemade or improvised instruments such as the washboard, tea chest bass, kazoo, cigar-box fiddle, musical saw, comb and paper, and so forth, as well as more conventional instruments such as acoustic guitar and banjo. Skiffle and jug band music are closely related. Skiffle was particularly popular in Britain in the 1950s and 1960s. Skiffle's use of country, folk and blues influences mixed with a much faster tempo, electric instrumentation and wild, energetic performances has led some people to suggest it as an early form of rock & roll, very similar to rockabilly.

Skiffle first became popular in the early 1900s in the United States, starting in New Orleans. The Oxford English Dictionary states that skiffle was a slang term for "rent party."

Originally, skiffle groups were referred to as spasm bands. By the 1920s and 1930s, a form of skiffle was being played in Louisville and Memphis. Skiffle's roots are also found in the jazz bands of the 1940s and 1950s. The informal, humorous style of skiffle made it twice a precursor of rock and roll, first in the United States in the early years and again in Great Britain in more recent times

So now we know!

We're in a party mood so here's a shout-out to The Famous Lab Partner and Ice Cream Scooper at the Downtown Honolulu Baskin & Robbins:

Oops, just realized that he's speaking to a joint session of Congress in a bit. My, times have changed. With that in mind, here is a great video by one of the president's classmates from high school in Honolulu remembering Barack Obama's Hawaiian roots. I love the part about the old Cinerama Movie Theatre where I too must have seen Star Wars fourteen times over the year that it played there - it was the Hawaii-version of the Rocky Horror Picture Show:

So we celebrate bipartisanship at the Cafe - so there you go. On the other hand, we're not taking down the Ronald Reagan framed photo over the BabyBlueCafe Jukebox.

We've now got Fox up live online, waiting for the president to enter the floor of the House of Representatives for the Joint Session of Congress. I like doing it from there because we can get the live feed without all the talking heads.

I have never heard so many people wanting to escort the president in with all this showing off from the front. Just let him in and let's get on with it.

But let's not get cranky. Time to whip up another batch of pancakes and butterbeer.

That dear, Justice Ginsberg gets a special round of applause. Brave lady indeed.

But the President is not on time. How interesting. He's on Hawaiian-time, of course! That's okay. Shaka, brah.

You know, Congress isn't exactly acting as though we have a global crisis that rivals the Great Depression going on. They seem pretty happy with themselves, pleased as punch and carrying on as if - as if, well, it's Mardi Gras!

All right, it's been ten minutes and still no president. These guys are going to start ordering out pizza.

9:12 p.m. He's coming in now and getting lots of hugs and kisses as he makes his way through the United States Congress and Senate up to the platform to make his first speech to the joint session. He's sat through a few of these when he was the junior senator from Illinois though. Got to feel weird to be up behind the podium now, looking out at that remarkable sea of faces.

What I can't quite figure out is why would he give a speech of this kind on the night of Mardi Gras?

GEEK MOMENT: I have just discarded Safari 4 (beta). Thought I'd give it a try, but it seems to be at war with Firefox. Don't know what sort of internal conflicts those two web browsers are having, but we're not going to have any of it. So, we're back to Safari 3.2.1.

"It's not about helping banks, it's about helping people," the president says. But Mr. President - where do we put our money? It is about banks acting like banks - and not casinos - so they can help people. We know exactly what "long-term investments" mean. It means Higher Taxes. And who pays the higher taxes? We do. Let's not talk about what the government will do but what the American people will do. It's not the same thing.

We do not say that government "plays no role" - no one says that. That's a terrible thing to say because it's not correct. Government plays a "limited role," sir.

He says "we" when he means "government." Someone needs to put out a new Obama Dictionary.

Oh, I'm not feeling very bipartisan anymore. Martin, hand me your bottle of Old Ogden's please.

Did he say "re-imagined?"

"None of this will come without cost," says the President. You can say that again. And then he changes the subject to talk about everyone losing their homes and their health insurance.

Now we're going to cure cancer and beat the Chinese. What more can one ask for?

The Congress is nuts. They're just nuts. It will be interesting to see what the markets do tomorrow. We're all doomed. Give me the bottle back, Martin.

Just reminded on Facebook that our Kingdom is not in recession. You can have the bottle back, Martin.

At least he's not cynical. He is trying to sound like lefty Reagan. He's got the Reaganesque citzen up in the balcony with the First Lady and everything.

Reagan used to be lefty, though. It might be wise for the president to review what happened to Reagan to change his mind.

On that note, it's time for Dylan:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

B. Dylan 2006

Obviously we need to keep our eyes fixed on the Kingdom and not on this "re-imagined" Magic Kingdom we just spent the last hour hearing about. It will be interesting to see what the markets are like in the morning.

The songs above are three performances by Bob Dylan. The first one is from his film, Masked & Anonymous called Cold Iron Bound. The second is a performance at the Grammys of Cry a While. And the third is a masterpiece that concludes his Modern Times album. It is a song for our time, called Ain't Talking. The lyrics, poetry if there was ever Dylan poetry, is posted above. It is cataclysmic, but note that he ends with a major chord.

10:24 p.m. Ah, here's the next president of the United States.

What happened to David Brooks? Someone, please tell me.

Time for a musical interlude.

Wish we could open a franchise of the cafe here. Just imagine a David Blue Memorial Pinball Machine and plenty of pancakes, pies, butterbeer, chai, and Ogden's Old Firewhiskey are those particularly litigious days. Or perhaps a joint-effort with our friends across the Potomac might just do the trick.

It might come in handy, though, that the UN is just steps away. Just in case.

Of course, dear Jim Naughton and I did discover years ago that - whatever else happens - we will always have Potter. So, to follow the now annual tradition, we dedicate the next song to him and the gang across the Potomac, the theme that in spite of our travails, we still must keep the sense of humor. Here you go, sir, as promised:

Uh oh ... And this isn't so good either. Interesting reactions to the speeches, but still can't figure out how the pod-people took over David Brooks. Someone send him Out West for a while to round up cattle and chop wood and stand in line at the WalMart.

Still trying to figure out why President Obama would give a speech to a joint-session of Congress on Mardi Gras. Of course, things didn't exactly go so well earlier today in New Orleans, either. People are either eating cake or pancakes or twirling their beeds, or have gone to bed early or have perhaps over-indulged - not exactly a rip-roaring day to hold a big speech. It wasn't a State of the Union speech either. It's just, well, weird.

Be that as it may, it's getting close to midnight so it's time to sign off with a song or two to dance the night away before we pick up where we left off tomorrow.

So let's just do a shout-out to the guys on Wall Street. We have no idea what their names are either - and perhaps that's the way they want it.


For Lease: The 815 Cafe

Looking for updates today and discovered that the 815 Cafe (which is designed to share a space with the official Episcopal Church bookstore) is now listed under "New York Restaurants For Lease."

It looks like it was listed at least as of Feb. 10th. Are you in the restaurant business? Want to share your culinary delights with the official TEC bookstore? Here's your chance!

The advertisement reads:

Midtown East

815 Second Avenue
New York, New York 10017
County: New York

Property Description:
1200 s.f. cafe shares space with 400 s.f. bookstore in the ground floor of the Episcopal Church Center at 815 Second Avenue (43 St.). The Center is a completely renovated 11-story building. The cafe is completely set up for immediate occupancy including wireless internet. The Center hosts many functions for the United Nations, and there are numerous opportunities for catered affairs. Office Building has no cafeteria other than ground floor cafe.

Location Description:
Cafe is located between 43rd and 44th street on Second Avenue, just two blocks from Grand Central Station. Several adjacent eateries have enjoyed many years of success on this busy block with continuous pedestrian traffic.

The listing says it has 1,200 square feet of retail/restaurant space that is available immediately.

The kitchen does look empty.

Buddhist elected Episcopal Bishop of Northern Michigan - more media reports coming in

Yes, it turns out it really is true.

The Living Church:
The Diocese of Northern Michigan elected the Rev. Kevin Thew Forrester as bishop Feb. 21 at a special diocesan convention. Fr. Forrester, the only candidate on the slate, was elected on the first ballot, receiving 88 percent of delegate votes and 91 percent of congregational votes, according to a diocesan news release.

The bishop-elect has served the diocese since 2001 as its ministry development coordinator and more recently as rector of St. Paul’s Church, Marquette, and St. John’s, Negaunee.

The announcement of Fr. Forrester’s nomination sparked controversy last month because he is also a practicing Buddhist and said he had received Buddhist “lay ordination” and was “walking the path of Christianity and Zen Buddhism together.”

Assuming sufficient consents are received from a majority of standing committees and bishops with jurisdiction, Fr. Forrester will be consecrated in Marquette on Oct. 17.
Read it all here. This is going to be amazing to watch. Here's another story from the Christian News Wire:
An Episcopal priest who has received a Buddhist lay ordination has been nominated for the position of bishop in the Diocese of Northern Michigan. The Rev. Kevin Thew Forrester, who has served in the diocese since 2001, will be the only nominee for the vacant position.

Forrester currently serves as rector of St. Paul's, Marquette, and is the diocese's ministry development coordinator. The bishop's election is scheduled for a special convention to be held February 21 in Escanaba, MI. If elected, Forrester would still have to obtain consents from a majority of dioceses in the Episcopal Church, in what is usually viewed as a rubber-stamp procedure.

Forrester is not the first Episcopal clergyman to hold dual faiths. In 2004, Pennsylvania priest Bill Melnyk was revealed to be a druid; while in 2007 Seattle priest Ann Holmes Redding declared that she was simultaneously an Episcopalian and a Muslim. Both Melnyk and Redding were eventually inhibited from priestly duties.
Read it all here. One has to wonder what the dinner table conversation was like this evening at Lambeth Palace.

LATER: Funny, but 815 doesn't even mention the fact the bishop-elect is a practicing Buddhist. Either they didn't know, or they didn't care. Either it way, it's not a good sign for grasping the obvious up in the Manhattan Penthouse.

Tonight! The Third Annual CafeAnonsBall at the BabyBlueCafe!

Yes, friends, it's that time again to celebrate all our precious Anons who drop by for chai and butterbeer and sometimes a pie or two. Sometimes they eat them and sometimes they throw them, but they are always welcome at the Cafe.

Some of you have engaged our Anons and some of you have headed over to the David Blue Memorial Pinball Machine rather than cross swords - but it's always fun to have them drop by. Hagrid finds them a stitch, except when he has to toss one out the door.

Tonight we have a party and celebrate - we hope you will drop by, named or unnamed. All are welcome - whatever may happen.

The fun begins at 7:30 p.m. We're all ready in the kitchen, whipping up the pancakes and pies.

For more on past CafeAnonBalls here at BabyBlueOnline:

Practicing Buddhist elected Episcopal Bishop of Northern Michigan?

No, I kid you not.
The bishop-elect had been “drawn into the Christian-Zen Buddhist dialogue through centering prayer and his desire to assist persons in their own transformation in Christ. As many of you well know, he has practiced Zen meditation for almost a decade. Indeed, with marvellous hospitality, the Buddhist community welcomed him in his commitment to a meditation practice as an Episcopal priest (in a process known by some Buddhists as ‘lay ordination’),” the diocesan statement said.
Read it all here. Tip of the Tinfoil to Greg at SF.