Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Diocese of Quincy seeks court help with over-reaching by Presiding Bishop and staff

BB NOTE: Next thing we'll know, the PB will be saying that no, Chrysler and GM are owned by The Episcopal Church as well. It is clear that the Presiding Bishop has no authority to tell dioceses what they can and cannot do - a diocese was free to join General Convention a diocese should be free to leave (especially when it has gone so far off the rails that practicing Buddhist can be elected Episcopal bishops), unless TEC is now the equivalent of an ecclesiastical roach motel where you can check in but you never check out. With all this huffing and puffing coming from up north, it looks like Jefferson was right (which he had the foresight to write into Virginia Commonwealth law). Let's just not make Christopher Hitchens right too.

Here's the latest news from the Diocese of Quincy, which voted to separate from the province of the Episcopal Church and join the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone, via e-mail.

[QUINCY, ILLINOIS] The Diocese of Quincy has petitioned the Circuit Court of Illinois in Quincy to issue a Declaratory Judgment clarifying the rights of the Diocese to hold and manage its endowment funds. The petition was filed in response to actions taken by leaders of the Episcopal Church in New York claiming that trust funds held by the diocese must remain in the Episcopal Church. Quincy formally separated from the Episcopal Church at it annual Synod in November, 2008.

“We hoped from the beginning to avoid any legal action,” said Fr. John Spencer, President of the Standing Committee which oversees the diocese. “Our Fall synod passed a resolution asking the leaders of the Episcopal Church to find ways ‘in which the two entities might carry out the mission of the church as brothers and sisters in the Lord Christ rather than as hostile parties.’ We sent that to the Episcopal Church’s Presiding Bishop. She never responded. We wrote to the leader of a group of several churches that is setting up a new Episcopal diocese here, asking to meet and talk about the property issues. They said they didn’t have the authority to talk with us.”

Quincy, along with the Dioceses of San Joaquin, Pittsburgh, and Ft. Worth, withdrew from the Episcopal church over the meaning and authority of Holy Scripture and other basic Christian teaching, according to Fr. Spencer. San Joaquin separated in December, 2007, and the other three last fall.

A series of legal actions by the Episcopal Church led to the filing of the Quincy petition this week, Fr. Spencer said. In January, an attorney for the Episcopal Church wrote the bank that holds Quincy’s diocesan endowment funds, claiming that those funds have to stay in the Episcopal Church. The letter also claimed that the elected officials of the diocese no longer had any say in the control of those funds.
In February, the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, Katharine Jefferts Schori, wrote the members of the Quincy Standing Committee, claiming they were no longer officers of the Diocese. “The problem is,” Spencer said, “she has no authority to make such a judgment. The governing officers of each diocese have always been elected at the local level, and the General Convention officers in New York have no say in the matter.”

About the same time, Spencer said, a group of churches that have broken away from the Quincy Diocese announced they would organize a new Episcopal diocese in central Illinois. An article appeared in the March edition of the Episcopal Church’s official newspaper, “Episcopal Life,” saying the Episcopal Presiding Bishop was giving “extensive guidance” to the churches organizing the new diocese and that the goal of Episcopal Presiding Bishop and other Episcopal leaders was “to craft a lawsuit that is trim and focused on the critical claims involving ownership and possession of diocesan property.”

“It was clear,” Spencer said, “that a law suit was heading our way. From suits they have filed elsewhere, we know Episcopal Church leaders will start by trying to seize our funds, and eventually try to take our churches.”

After lengthy consultation with their legal counsel, the Quincy Standing Committee made the decision to petition the Illinois court to clarify and define the property rights of the Diocese against the claims of Episcopal Church officers from New York.
“We want people to understand, this is not a typical ‘law suit’,” Fr. Spencer said. “We’re not trying to take property away from anyone. We’re simply trying to protect the property of our Diocese and local churches which we believe legally — and morally — belong to the people of those churches, and to our historic Diocese that has existed since 1877.“ A Declaratory Judgment, Spencer said, is a particular court petition that asks the court to spell out what the rights, duties, and responsibilities of the Diocese are under Illinois law. “Only then will we be able to move forward with releasing property to those churches who have decided to leave us. We want to do everything properly, and an explanatory ruling from the court will ensure that we stay within the bounds of the law.”

Spencer emphasized that the Diocese has offered to work charitably with those few churches that decided to leave the Diocese and stay under the control of the Episcopal Church. “We were willing to begin those talks. Unfortunately, the improper legal claims by leaders of the Episcopal Church in New York have tied our hands. We need direction from the court before we can proceed.”

Spencer said he had no idea how soon the court will make a decision on their petition. “The sooner the better,” he said. “The Episcopal Church has spent millions of dollars in the last few years suing churches who no longer want to be a part of it. Our goal is not to make their lawyers rich. Our goal is to protect our churches and diocesan resources. Many people have given sacrificially to our Diocese for over a hundred and fifty years because we have always upheld traditional Christian faith and discipline. We plan to do so for the next 150 years, God willing.”

The "shadow diocese" created by the Presiding Bishops's office is having an April 4th event. What we find interesting is the sudden reappearance of this guy, aka Father Jake. He's not exactly Keith Ackerman. He went missing when New York suddenly recruited him and he shut his popular acerbic blog down. Perhaps there were greater fish to fry. But is he a Peoria Chiefs fan?

Update on the Buddhist "Everyone is the sacred word of God" Episcopal Bishop-elect ...

Update from the election of the "Buddhist Bishop" for the Episcopal Diocese of Northern Michigan over at StandFirm. While we wait for the confirm/non-confirms to come in from the Episcopal Church bishops and Standing Committees, Greg Griffith writes at SF, "there has been some discussion among Episcopal "progressives" to the effect that, while Forrester may indeed "walk the path of Zen Buddhism," that fact in and of itself is not reason enough to deny him consent as the next bishop of Northern Michigan. The "reasoning" goes that so long as Forrester is "sufficiently" Christian, that is enough. So now we turn to that question."

And turn to the question they do. Quoting from his writings and public statements (some of which Katharine Jefferts Schori has also signed off on, we might add) SF has posted lines of the Nicene Creed compared with various statements from articles and sermons written or signed Bishop-elect Kevin Forrester.

So standing firm on the "the great emptiness," affirming that "God is present in us and as us," naming "the source" what we want "to name the source," that "we not because we are bad, but because we are blind to the beauty of creation and ourselves," we offer the following affirmation of a faith:

I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.
"One of the amazing insights I have found in the interfaith dialogue is that, no matter what you name that source, from which all life comes—you can name that source God, Abba; you may name that source Yahweh; you may name that source Allah; you may name that source “the great emptiness;” you can name that source many things, but what all the faiths in their wisdom have acknowledged in the interfaith dialogue is that, you and I, we’re not the source." (Trinity Sunday sermon, May 18, 2008)


And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God,
"Everyone is the sacred word of God, in whom Christ lives." (Already One in God, response to Dar es Salaam communiqué, to which KTF is a signatory, The Church in Hiawathaland newsletter, Sept 2007)

"We affirm the sacramental gift of all persons, their Christ-ness..." (Already One in God, response to Dar es Salaam communiqué, to which KTF is a signatory, The Church in Hiawathaland newsletter, Sept 2007)

"In other words that we might learn to be still and know that we are in the presence of God. We might learn to be still and know that God is present in us and as us." (Eucharist sermon, April 6, 2008)


begotten of the Father before all worlds; God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God; begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made. Who, for us men and for our salvation, came down from heaven,
"I would ask us to explore that Jesus does not make us one with God. Jesus reveals, and this is incredible mystery, incredible good news—Jesus reveals to us, and it is why we say that he is the Messiah, he is an anointed one, he reveals to us that we are already at one with God - and why? Because God is always at one with us." (Eucharist sermon, April 6, 2008)

"I see now a Jesus who does not raise the bar to salvation, but lowers it so far that it disappears." (Finding a Place in East and West, The Church in Hiawathaland newsletter, July/August 2004)


and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the virgin Mary, and was made man;

Presider: The fire of your Spirit kindled a love between Mary and Joseph; a fire that became the roaring flame of eternal compassion – the heart of Jesus.

Assembly: Here was a child, like all your children, woven into life by the Spirit. (Kindling the Ancient Fire, Sharing Stories of Life-Death-Rebirth, Receiving the Sacred Fruits of Earth, Easter Vigil booklet)


and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate; He suffered and was buried; and the third day He rose again, according to the Scriptures;
"Here’s a man in the desert [Jesus’s temptation in the wilderness] talking to His own passions, and He says, 'You know, I am none of those things. I will not identify with any of those things. I am the beloved. I am the beloved.' And resurrection begins to happen. "(Easter sermon, March 23, 2008)


and ascended into heaven, and sits on the right hand of the Father;
"So, what does that mean? Well, we heard in the gospel today in Matthew that, for His community, Jesus says that all, what all authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth. That’s what we heard today, right? All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth. Well, we could slightly rephrase that and keep it, keep its true meaning, I think, if we would say: Jesus realized that all that He is, He had received from God. Jesus is the one that realized all He is, 'all I am, I have received from God.'" (Trinity Sunday sermon, May 18, 2008)


and He shall come again, with glory, to judge the quick and the dead; whose kingdom shall have no end.
"And then Julian [of Norwich] says these words which perhaps are the most important for us when we are afraid and when we are angry: 'For it was a great marvel constantly shown to the soul' – her soul in all these revelations, her experiences of God 'and the soul was contemplated with great diligence this, that our Lord God cannot in his own judgment forgive' – let me read those words again – that God cannot in his own judgment forgive us because he cannot be angry, because God cannot be angry said Julian. This is the Gospel of John. That would be impossible for we are endlessly united to God in love and it is the most impossible thing which could be that God might be angry, for anger and friendship are opposed. That’s the Gospel of John, I’ve called you friends. (Pentecost 22 sermon, Oct 5, 2008 - download audio in MP3 format here)


And I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of Life; who proceeds from the Father and the Son; who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified; who spoke by the prophets.
"The Trinitarian structure of life is this: is that everything that is comes from the source. And you can name the source what you want to name the source. And our response to that is with hearts of gratitude and thanksgiving, to return everything back to that source, and there’s a spirit who enables that return. Everything comes from God. We give it back to God. And the spirit gives us the heart of gratitude. That is the Trinitarian nature of life." (Trinity Sunday sermon, May 18, 2008)


And I believe one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
"We are the very enclosure of God. Why does God care for this vineyard that is you? Why does God care for the vineyard that is me? Why does God care for the vineyards of those who are Buddhists or Muslim or Hindu? Because God dwells in them and they dwell in God even when we don’t know it." (Pentecost 22 sermon, Oct 5, 2008 - download audio in MP3 format here)

"We seek and serve Christ in all persons because all persons are the living Christ. Each and every human being, as a human being, is knit together in God's Spirit, and thus an anointed one – Christ." (Already One in God, response to Dar es Salaam communiqué, to which KTF is a signatory, The Church in Hiawathaland newsletter, Sept 2007)


I acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins;
"We do harmful and evil things to ourselves and one another, not because we are bad, but because we are blind to the beauty of creation and ourselves." (Already One in God, response to Dar es Salaam communiqué, to which KTF is a signatory, The Church in Hiawathaland newsletter, Sept 2007)


and I look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.
?

Read it all here. Tip of the Tinfoil to the amazing work of SF.

Enough is enough?



Bishop of Rochester Michael Nazir-Ali on "Truth and Unity in Christian Fellowship." A must-listen.

A Dramatic Reading for Eastertide?





Once again we have dramatic reading in time for Eastertide? Click the recording above, or click here.

iTunes has recently changed locations for podcasts 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.


Monday, March 30, 2009

Is the War on Terror over?

Apparently it is in the eyes of the new administration.

Does this mean that Pennsylvania Avenue will open again to street traffic? Does this mean we can wear our shoes again through airport security? Does this mean all the cement planters are coming down from around the U.S. Capitol? Does this mean that airline pilots will keep their cockpit doors unlocked and their guns at home? Does this mean we can throw the duct tape out? Does this mean we no longer have to have a family evacuation plan? Did Iran get the memo?

Uh, no, no, no, no, no, no, and no.

Anglican TV interviews counsel for the California Anglican churches

Preview of New Dylan Song: Beyond here lies nothin’

A one-day-only download from Bob Dylan's new album is available at his website today only. It's called Beyond here lies nothin’. In this recording he's got that "I've been around the world and sung my life into a drain" sound - but the happy-go-lucky arrangement, it's quite a contrast once the words come into view. And then there's the accordion. That accordion changes the entire landscape. And landscape is everything in this song, crafted by a painter of words. What sense of place does the song evoke?

The album has been described by one early review as "Border Cafe." But I am having second thoughts listening to this one song. What do I picture, with the music and the words and the sound of Dylan's voice - what do I hear?

I hear America in Baghdad.

I hear America at war.

Beyond here lies nothing ...
well I'm moving after midnight
by boulevards of broken cars ...
beyond here lies nothin’
nothin’ beyond the moon and stars
Does this not sound like a soundtrack from the life of the American soldiers in Iraq?

Does it not sound like America at war?

And typical Dylan, he doesn't tell us what his views are - he paints a landscape with his words, while slyly refraining is own judgment which is often shrouded in wit. Even in this song.

And who do we think "baby" is this time? "Just as long as you stay with me, the whole world is my throne, beyond here lies nothing, nothing to call my own."

The landscape Dylan paints in this song, despite the lilting arrangement, is quite bleak. And again, look at the play of words in the song's title. "Beyond here lies nothing ..." One could write an essay on that alone, thinking of America in the last year abroad.

From the view of the soldier who is out on patrol while young women walk by with bombs strapped to their bodies to the politicians back home shaking their heads and wondering where the hell the WMDs went, while campaigns run with American leaders saying that Iraq was pointless while men and women still put their lives on the line every day. With assistance from their PR firms, the politicians run their races pretending to care about military families while at the same time saying that fighting for Iraq was for nothing. "Beyond here lies nothin’" so just get out. Where was the truth? What is the truth? What are we fighting for?

What of the courage of the soldiers who carry on their mission while a country turns it's face inward, is it for nothin’?

beyond here lies nothin’

well I love you pretty baby
you’re the only love I've ever known
just as long as you stay with me
the whole world is my throne
beyond here lies nothin’
nothin’ I could call my own

well I'm moving after midnight
by boulevards of broken cars
don’t known what I’d do without her
without this love that we call ours
beyond here lies nothin’
nothin’ beyond the moon & stars

down in the street there’s window
and every window made of glass
we keep on loving pretty baby
for as long as love would last
beyond here lies nothin’
but the mountains of the past

well my ship is in the harbor
and the sails are spent
listen to me, pretty baby
lay your hand upon my head
beyond here lies nothin’
nothin’ done and nothin’ said

-B. Dylan 2009

Download the song here. This is what I heard when I listened to the song this morning. For others it might remind them of their latest trip to Disney World. Who can tell with Dylan?


LATER: The audio has now been uploaded on YouTube:

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Sunday Night at the Cafe: Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of Creation ...

We had a really neat event at Truro on Saturday afternoon where pastors and lay leaders from churches all over the DC metropolitan area from many different denominations filled up the Truro Undercroft to learn more about the Alpha Course, a tool for evangelism first developed at Holy Trinity Brompton, in London, England.

The event opened with a short time of worship led by Derek Rust, new pastor of evangelism at Truro, and accompanied by his young sons. Derek has just come to Truro after serving for several years in a Lutheran Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota. And yes, Derek originally started on the other side of the Big Pond.

Among the major tasks on his plate, Derek and his wife Cathy will be leading the Marriage Course at Truro as well as working to introduce this course to other churches that seek to strengthen the marriages of their members while reaching out to their local community. The Marriage Course at Truro is currently underway, meeting at the Old Town Hall in Fairfax City.

Welcome Derek and Cathy and their wonderful family!

I believe in You




Live performance of I Believe in You (originally from his album Slow Train Coming 1979) by Bob Dylan last week in Stockholm.

Don't let me drift too far,
Keep me where you are
Where I will always be renewed.
And what you've given me today
Is worth more than I could pay
And no matter what they say
I believe in you.

I believe in you when winter turn to summer,
I believe in you when white turn to black,
I believe in you even though I be outnumbered.
Oh, though the earth may shake me
Oh, though my friends forsake me
Oh, even that couldn't make me go back.

Don't let me change my heart,
Keep me set apart
From all the plans they do pursue.
And I, I don't mind the pain
Don't mind the driving rain
I know I will sustain
'Cause I believe in you.

They ask me how I feel
And if my love is real ...

B. Dylan

Tip of the Tinfoil to RWB.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

The Bishop of Rochester will step down this year to become a defender of persecuted Christians

UPDATE: Ruth Gledhill at the London Times has another article up for the Sunday edition with this headline: Radical bishop quits early for new mission.

Michael Nazir-Ali radical? I wonder who wrote that headline? It's hard for me to believe Ruth did. How is he radical?

Maybe it has something to do with this:

Were evangelical churches in the Church of England to seek an “alternative” bishop to lead them or provide oversight, Nazir-Ali would be an obvious choice. However, one insider close to the bishop said any such speculation was “hypothetical”.
Ruth still doesn't mention the fact that Bishop Michael did not attend Lambeth. One could make the argument that his act of conscience was radical, especially in merry olde England when one is a member of the House of Lords. All we can say is: watch this space. And God bless Michael Nazir-Ali.

From the Telegraph:

Dr Michael Nazir-Ali is only 59 and could have stayed for another decade in his post, one of the most senior in the Church, but has chosen instead to devote the rest of his career to working in communities where Christians are in a minority.

While this is likely to see him involved in the Middle East and Pakistan, the bishop revealed that he also plans to work with Muslim converts to Christianity in Britain.

He said he has been inspired by the story of Hannah Shah, an Imam's daughter who faced being killed by her family for refusing an arranged marriage before becoming a Christian.

"Bishop Michael is hoping to work with a number of church leaders from areas where the church is under pressure, particularly in minority situations, who have asked him to assist them with education and training for their particular situation," said a spokesman.

In a letter to clergy in his diocese, the bishop said: "I have decided that the time is now right for me to step down as Bishop of Rochester. I have valued my modest part in the life of the Church locally, nationally and globally.

"We take this step of faith 'not knowing where we are going.'"

Dr Nazir-Ali, who is the Church's first and only Asian bishop, received death threats himself after warning last year that parts of the country have been turned into "no-go" areas for non-Muslims.

He has been unafraid to speak out since being appointed as Bishop of Rochester in 1994 and has risen to become a leading champion of traditional Christianity in Britain.

Many saw him as a likely contender to succeed George Carey as Archbishop of Canterbury in 2002, but he has instead become a focus for the conservative evangelical wing of the Church that has opposed the incumbent, Dr Rowan Williams.

His interventions over the row over homosexual clergy in the Anglican Church have been seen as a direct challenge to the archbishop.

Nevertheless, Dr Williams paid tribute to Dr Nazir-Ali's contribution to the Church of England.

"Bishop Michael's decision to undertake this new and very challenging ministry will leave a real gap in the ranks of English bishops," he said.

"His enormous theological skill, his specialist involvement in the complex debates around bioethics, his wide international experience and his clarity of mind and expression have made him a really valuable colleague, and he has served the Church and the wider society with dedication and distinction.

"In his new work with churches in minority situations, he will need all our prayer and support.

"It is a courageous initiative and a timely one."

Read it all here. Ruth Gledhill has her story at the Times here, including information on the farewell service at Rochester Cathedral on September 12, 2009 at 3.15 p.m. His successor will be appointed. That will prove interesting as well.

What the articles fail to mention is that by conscience the Bishop of Rochester did not attend the Lambeth Conference last summer in Canterbury. Let's watch this space, shall we?

The Official Episcopal "State of the Church" Report is released to the public

And no, it's not a pretty picture. Here are some excerpts:

The Episcopal Church in Conflict
Last, in prior years the Committee on the State of the Church often heard the criticism that our church seemed unwilling to recognize the presence of a major source of internal controversy that some argued was having an impact on our common life, as reflected in declining membership and attendance statistics. The metaphor most often used was that we “failed to acknowledge the elephant in the room,” referring to what many viewed as the momentous decision by the 74th General Convention (2003) to consent to the consecration of the Bishop of New Hampshire. In the 2005 Faith Communities Survey in which about 4,000 of The Episcopal Church’s congregations participated, about 37% reported having at least one very serious internal conflict, resulting in some members leaving the church. Fifty-three percent reported that the conflict was resolved. When asked about the source of the conflict, 35% of those reporting very serious conflict stated that it was over the decisions of the 2003 General Convention.

In the 2008 Faith Communities Today Survey of Episcopal parishes and missions, reports of conflict over that issue have not diminished: 64% of Episcopal congregations acknowledge having some kind of conflict over the ordination of gay clergy. And most of that conflict was of a serious nature. Overall, 47% of Episcopal congregations had serious conflict over this issue, 40% indicated that some people left and 18% indicated that some people withheld funds.

Furthermore, the rate of decline in Average Sunday Attendance from 2003-2007 among congregations with serious conflict over the ordination of gay clergy was 35% higher than congregations with no conflict over the issue (and accounted for more than double the aggregate loss).
The Episcopal Church in Decline
To quote Dr. Kirk Hadaway: “The age structure of The Episcopal Church suggests an average of forty thousand deaths and twenty-one thousand births, or a natural decline of 19,000 members per year,” a population larger than most dioceses. The advanced—and still advancing—age of our membership, combined with our low birth rate, means that we lose the equivalent of one diocese per year.

In the late 1940s and throughout the 1950s we were growing faster than the population, due to a high birth rate and the fact that many formerly unchurched persons were joining Episcopal congregations, usually with their families. By the late 1960s the birth rate had dropped greatly, and many of our youth began to drop away from The Episcopal Church as young adults—a large number never to return. This trend, plus the fact that the decline in the birth rate was greatest among the college-educated population (which increasingly is our primary constituency), began the process through which the average age of adult Episcopal membership diverged from the larger population. Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, and even into the 1990s, we gained more adult members than we lost through persons changing denominations (particularly former Roman Catholics). In the past, more people joined The Episcopal Church than left, making up most, but not all, of the natural decline among participating adult members until recently. Mindful of these trends, it would be useful to leaders of The Episcopal Church to review the results of recent analyses of religion in American life, such as the 2008 study US Religious Landscape Survey, Religious Affiliation: Diverse and Dynamic published by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, which suggests that a far larger percentage of Americans than was historically true report no formal religious affiliation at all.

As a final comment on the age structure of The Episcopal Church we note two facts. First, “youth and young adults” were articulated by General Convention as one of our top five priorities for the 2006-2009 triennium. The Executive Council, in developing the draft budget for the 2009-2012 triennium, did not list “youth and young adults” as one of their mission priorities. Second, in the recent reorganization of The Episcopal Church Center staff in New York City, the position of Staff Officer for Youth and Young Adult Ministries was eliminated and the duties of that officer re-distributed to other ministry areas.
The Local Episcopal Congregations Financial Crisis
Another noteworthy trend identified in our survey data involves the present financial condition of our churches. Recalling data presented above in Fast Facts 2007 (Table 2 above), income in 2007 showed growth over the previous year, along with a positive five-year trend. Over the last five years income growth was at least keeping pace with inflation—good news, indeed. However, with net losses in membership and attendance, the continuing financial burden falls more heavily upon remaining members. As Figure 2 (below) indicates, a very substantial fraction of our congregations—two-thirds—reported that in 2008 they experienced some level of financial difficulty. Eight percent report “serious” difficulty, 17 percent report “some” difficulty, and another 42 percent describe their financial circumstances as “tight, but we manage.”

The increase in parishes experiencing financial difficulty between 2000 and 2005 is alarming, jumping from 44% to 68%. While that does not worsen between 2005 and 2008, the rate is far too high to allow a rosy picture to be painted ...

It should be noted that with the departure of members of congregations, and now leaders of certain dioceses, from our fellowship additional legal expenses have been incurred by The Episcopal Church at all levels, not to mention the expenditure of time, talent and energy. What has, thus far, remained unstated is that as a consequence of this strife substantial funds have been diverted from the mission and ministry of many congregations and dioceses, adding to our financial burden.
You can read the entire report here.

BB NOTE: Be sure to check out the charts starting on page 14 - a must read for all Episcopalians (and Anglicans too). The chart of the stats diocese by diocese is quite startling. I had no idea that the Episcopal Diocese of Northern Michigan's average Sunday attendance for the entire diocese is the same as just one Easter morning service at Truro. Just one! Why is Northern Michigan still a stand-alone diocese? One can just look at that chart and see that the Episcopal Church needs to do a major "reorganizing" just as large companies and firms are doing right now. The system itself is broken.

Is the current leadership of The Episcopal Church are equipped or empowered to do the type of reorganization that must be undertaken in order for TEC to survive? It's certainly also a wake-up call to the new province as it organizes - the organizational structures must be based on mission and ministry to the local parish and not to a centralized committee. It is not yet clear to me what business model the Anglican Church of North America is following but these charts are a wake-up call of what not to do.

The chart starting on the bottom of page 17 is just shocking. And there still seems to be no correlation between the philosophy of the church's belief system and structure with it's financial and numerical decline. When we look at churches like Holy Trinity Brompton in London or The Falls Church in Virginia that are fast becoming dioceses within a diocese - there are lessons to learn there. And what we believe matters. Our structures flow from what we believe.

The Episcopal Church made a grave mistake in thinking that merely retaining the facades of the church while radically shifting the theology would be good for the church. The numbers just can't fib. Radical action is needed, but not the kind that has been implemented over the past thirty years.

The positive thing in this report - and it's no light thing at all - is that this report has been done and it's been made public. As painful as this is, it is a good thing. It validates what so many have been warning all along. And taking the litigious and punitive route to solve this crisis is just adding more tragedy to an all ready tragic situation.

It is being done, this radical action but perhaps in ways that Episcopalians never even could dream. To God be the glory.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Poll

BabyBlueOnline: Bishop John W. Howe stands for election to the Executive Council; voting will take place at General Convention this summer

Friday Night at the Cafe: Number One

Communications Commission releases highly critical report of communication power struggles within The Episcopal Church

Here's an excerpt from the report of the Standing Commission on Communications now available in the "Blue Book" for this summer's General Convention in Anaheim. It gives us a rather stunning window into the confusion and power struggles inside the governing structures of The Episcopal Church:

REPORT TO THE 76TH GENERAL CONVENTION

SUMMARY OF WORK

Communications in The Episcopal Church has been in a state of significant flux for the past three years. This situation is attributable primarily to personnel changes during the Church Center reorganization initiated by the new Presiding Bishop, but it is also due to the rapidly changing nature of way in which communication is being done within The Episcopal Church and by The Episcopal Church to the larger world. These two reasons are important in understanding the frustration felt by many serving the Standing Commission as we have attempted to fulfill our mandate.

PERSONNEL CHANGES
During this Triennium, the Interim Director of Communications, Robert Williams, who was appointed to serve in this role when the previous Director, Dan England, resigned, was named the Director of Communications. Under Mr. William’s leadership the Communications portion of the Church Center staff underwent a number of reorganizations. It is unclear what was driving the reorganizations, though certainly lack of adequate funding must have required all of the staff to try to do more with fewer resources. The net result of the reorganization was that for a large portion of the triennium it was unclear to those outside the Church Center which staff person was responsible for which area.

The situation does seem to be improving. Within the last few months a national search process has been carried out with broad national participation by the primary communication constituencies of The Episcopal Church. A new director, Anne Rudig, was hired and began her work in January 2009. It is expected that the focus of her first months at the Church Center will be on preparing for this summer’s General Convention; but given the new job description for the Director position and assurances from the staff of the Presiding Bishop, there is reason to hope that some of the disruption caused by the personnel changes and reorganizations within the Communications department will cease.

COOPERATION WITH THE STANDING COMMISSION OF EPISCOPAL CHURCH COMMUNICATIONS
This Standing Commission has been severely hampered in its work this past triennium. Though a relatively small amount of money ($15,000 intended for three meetings) was requested of Program Budget and Finance at General Convention in 2003, that money was removed from the budget and the Commission was again not funded. We did what work we could do by way of e-mail and telephone.

We had significant problems getting access to information such as budgets for Episcopal Church communications, program expenses or information technology costs. A relatively simple request to explain the ongoing costs of the Red Dot web content management system and what it would cost to upgrade to the latest version has still not been answered.

It is unclear to this Standing Commission what is the actual amount of money being spent on Communications by The Episcopal Church and where the money that is being spent is coming from. While the Standing Commission is not charged with financial oversight, attempting to think about the strategic direction of communications within The Episcopal Church is hampered if the financial information is unknown. Part of the limited access to information was attributable to the fact that Director of Communications was serving as liaison to the Standing Commission during a time of transition. This, coupled with the lack of meetings that would have created natural deadlines, seems to have been the primary roadblock. Perhaps the new Director of Communications and the next Standing Commission would be better served if someone other than the Director were to serve as liaison in the coming triennium.

COMMUNICATIONS CHALLENGES
FACING THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH

The Episcopal Church can expect to have to find working answers to a number of issues regarding how it does its internal and external communications in the coming years. The most pressing one at the moment is how to make a transition from paper-based means of communication to a balance of paper and electronic communications.

While there are significant cost savings that can be realized by transitioning using electronic and online communications, the reality of the audience whom The Episcopal Church serves is that using electronic means only is not feasible and would not be effective. While much of the internal communications can appropriately be handled electronically, reaching Episcopalians in economic distress or for whom computers are not available requires that we continue use paper and print. The issue for The Episcopal Church is to find the most cost effective balance. It is likely that doing this will require a broad reaching readership survey, which will in turn require spending money to do well. Other challenges that are facing The Episcopal Church are similar in that it will require finding an optimal balance between the needs of those being served and the money that is available to be spent.

Additionally there is a significant question of what the primary focus of the communications work of The Episcopal Church Center should be. There are a number of voices who call for a commitment to journalistic principles and the need for accurate internal reporting on what is taking place within The Episcopal Church.

Other voices argue that such reporting is better done by people outside the Church Center and that The Episcopal Church needs to expend greater efforts in the areas of marketing and public relations. Many believe that both are necessary and properly done by the Church Center staff, but there is disagreement as to the relative
balance.

Members of the Standing Commission have heard from a number of people around The Episcopal Church that there was little coordination with other groups doing communication work during the past triennium. For example, an Ad campaign was announced and funded without the knowledge of those in diocesan ministry who might have been able to make use of it. Given that funding is limited, any effective communication campaign will have to rely on a coordinated release across all the media markets that we are intending to serve.

While there was a strategic vision created during the present triennium by the Director of Communications (Robert Williams), there does not exist a strategic plan to address the challenges listed above. It is hoped that the new Director of Communications working with the Standing Commission and other stake-holders will create one.

THE RECOGNITION OF THE IMPORTANCE
OF COMMUNICATIONS

One of the most disturbing developments in The Episcopal Church during the last few years has been the number of diocesan communicators who have been laid off or had their positions eliminated because of financial pressures. A partial reason for these decisions across the church has been a general sense that there was unrealized cost savings to be had by moving from print media to electronic media.

The more distressing reason is a sometimes unspoken belief that the relatively low bar to using electronic communications tools leads to a belief that anyone can do an adequate job overseeing communications at all levels of the church. It is this second reason that seems to be causing dioceses especially to layoff or downsize their communication positions in an attempt to cut costs in the face of rising budget pressures.

It is the sense of the Commission and of the larger communications community in The Episcopal Church that such actions are misguided. Effective communication in multiple media requires both training and experience, and often the skills that allow a person to function well in one media do not lead to a similar ability in a different media. Journalism, online communications, video, literature and public relations are all important tools for The Episcopal Church as it works to live into its call to share the Good News of Christ in the places where it ministers. Using different media forms well and in their proper contexts and appropriately to different audiences requires ongoing training and some significant experience. In a time of financial stress, cutting oneself off from the skills needed to effectively communicate the challenges facing the institutions of the church seems particularly shortsighted.

-From the Report to General Convention 2009 of the Standing Commission on Communications

Read it all here, including the resolution to call for a Chief Information Officer (we can see the turf battles all ready). It's interesting that the commission wants to use a resolution to call for a new 815 staff person. Obviously they are looking to General Convention to bend 815's will or someone who is holding the purse strings very tightly. It is clear that this commission is frustrated with the apparatus running the offices at 815.

The Communications department has had a complete turnover with the staff who had journalistic backgrounds being replaced with those with marketing and public relations-types backgrounds instead (which is really what you need when one moves away from working with membership base to foster community, and instead turns to rebuilding a damaged public image). There also seems to be conflict between the management of electronic forms of communications (never mind the use of social networks, which are not even mentioned in this report) as the overwhelming numbers of the Episcopal membership base - which continues to depend on print forms of communication - continues to age. Again, deciding on those priorities means asking who is the target audience?

There is definitely a sea of change coming out of 815, where communications has become far more sophisticated and rapid in responses than anything we've seen over the past three years. The 815 communications office pledges a complete revamping of their efforts at General Convention to a vastly different operation than what we saw in 2006). The dioceses would do well to heed the changes at General Convention, lest they be left in the cold. In fact, if 815 operates as though this is a hierarchical church, then diocesan communication budgets are pointless. But for one thing - one major thing.

Where the dioceses could do well and where the Episcopal Church as a whole is still in such disarray (and besides, the publication of that data could be a public relations disaster - not even the dioceses want to do that) is that TEC does not even seem to grasp who their membership really is or even where they are. The Pension Fund records are restricted (and should stay that way, take note). Those who actually have that information carry the gold.

But use that gold wisely. How the dioceses (and even parishes for that matter) share that information - not just internally - but with one other (and not go through 815) may make a significant difference in the balance of power. In communications it's not so much what we do, but how we do it.

Bishop John W. Howe stands for election to the Executive Council; voting will take place at General Convention this summer

The Bishop of Central Florida, John W. Howe, is among the nominees to the Executive Council of The Episcopal Church. Here's his statement:
I am a life-long Episcopalian, who holds positions that are not well represented at the national level of The Episcopal Church.

I am an evangelical in the tradition of John Stott, and my ministry has been one of building bridges between “renewal-oriented” Episcopalians and “traditionalists,” “moderates” and “liberals.” I am pro-life, a former President and Chairman of the Board of the National Organization of Episcopalians for Life (NOEL), now called “Anglicans for Life.” I am one of the founders of Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry and a former editor of
Kerygma magazine, now called Mission and Ministry.

I am in a distinct minority on many of the hot-button issues before The Episcopal Church. And yet, I am committed to keeping my vows within The Episcopal Church. I believe that there needs to be a voice representing this minority perspective, and I offer mine.
The purpose of the Executive Council is to "carry out the program and policies adopted by the General Convention and have charge of the coordination, development and implementation of the ministry and mission of the church. The Executive Council is required to manage the budget of the church, submit to General Convention a budget for the next triennium and make annual reports to the church of receipts and disbursements and a statement of all trust funds and properties.

The Executive Council also serves as the Board of Directors of what is officially called the "Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society" of the Protestant Episcopal Church of the United States of America. Of course, there is no centralized "Episcopal Church" - there is the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society and the Presiding Bishop chairs the council that oversees its work for the society. "The church" has traditionally been the dioceses, not 815's digs in Manhattan. The church gathers its dioceses in General Convention to pass resolutions and ratify changes to the canons, and to authorize the budget. The Executive Board is charged to "carry out the program and policies adopted by the General Convention," as well as manage the budget. It does not even have the authority that a local vestry has in the Diocese of Virginia.

The other bishops nominated to the Executive Board are the Bishop of Michigan, Wendell N. Gibbs, the Bishop of North Carolina, William O. Gregg, the Bishop of Ohio, Mark Hollingsworth, Jr. , and the roaming bishop for "American Churches in Europe," (sorry Spain), Pierre Whalon.

There is a smattering of other orthodox leaders running in the other orders for the Executive Board, including Kevin Marin in the clergy order and Christopher Wells in the laity order. Two candidates will be elected from each order to fill the six vacancies.

The election will be held at General Convention this summer in Anaheim, California.


Thursday, March 26, 2009

Episcopal Crisis in California: Episcopal Church splits in the Diocese of El Camino Real

St. Edward's Episcopal Church in San Jose, California, has split in the Episcopal Diocese of El Camino Real, with the rector, six Vestry members and over eighty members leaving St. Edward's to form St. James Anglican Church in San Jose under Bishop Bob Duncan of the Anglican Church in North America. You can see steps being taken to eventually form a diocese in the Bay Area of California.

via -email:

Anglican Leaders Form New Church in San Jose

SAN JOSE, CA, March 24, 2009 – San Jose is now home to the new St. James Anglican Church. All are invited to celebrate the establishment of this community of faith.

Sunday services will include a traditional mass at 9 am, and a contemporary service at 10:45am. St. James will be meeting at the Camden Community Center at 3369 Union Ave, San Jose,CA 95124.

St. James has joined the newly-formed Anglican Church of North America, which unites 700orthodox Anglican congregations, representing roughly 100,000 people in the United States and Canada.

The initial launch team for St. James has been drawn from the former leadership of St.Edward’s Episcopal Church. Fr. Ed McNeill, who led St. Edward’s for 10 years, is St. James Anglican Church’s first pastor. Six of the twelve members of St. Edward’s Vestry have left to help found St. James.

The decision of Fr. McNeill and other church leaders to found St. James Anglican Church marks the end of years of debate within St. Edward’s about supporting the efforts of The Episcopal Church USA. While members of the Episcopal Church have always welcomed a diversity of opinion, recent theological innovations by the national leadership have made it impossible for many orthodox Christians to remain.

The Episcopal Church has increasingly adopted policies which are unacceptable to orthodox Christians, departing from the primacy of Scripture. Church leaders have taken positions that undermine traditional teaching on the Divinity of Christ, Jesus’ resurrection and His role in salvation, Biblical standards on sexuality, and many of the tenets expressed in the Nicene Creed. These changes aligned the church with today’s social trends, and led the church away from its historic mission. The result has been declining attendance, declining ordinations and the departure of many clergy members, strained relationship with the global Anglican Communion, and nationwide lawsuits.

Fr. McNeill said, “We are very happy that the time of divisiveness has passed, and that healing can begin. We will miss our friends who have chosen to remain in the Episcopal Church and are committed to praying for them. We look forward to serving in the Bay Area as Anglican Christians.”

A website has been established at newanglicanchurch.com, to provide a means for community-building among Anglicans in the Bay Area. Those who have left the Episcopal Church, or who have been searching for Orthodox churches in the Bay Area, will have access to news and information, as well as an opportunity to communicate with others.

Lambeth Conference mismangement due to incompetence?

The report is in and sadly, it's a doozy. The appendixes are a doozy as well. Here's a short excerpt from the Church of England Newspaper.
POOR PLANNING, inexperienced management, and weak financial controls contributed to a £288,000 deficit for the 2008 Lambeth Conference, a report released last week by the Archbishops' Council and the Church Commissioners has concluded.

The management team, conference structure and business practices were not up to the job, the report found, stating that the “arrangements in place for the 2008 conference were less robust than they needed to be.”

The conference's opaque management structure had left no one in charge, with the result that there had been a “disconnect between design on the one hand, and capacity and execution on the other.” The lack of clear lines of authority had led to cost overruns, with the financial team “not always aware” of the commitments made by conference management staff. Two examples cited by the report were the “failure to recognise a commitment for expenditure of £411,000 on the Big Top” the blue tent that served as the principle venue for conference meetings, and IT support.

The conference finance director “did not know” about the Big Top bill, while the conference “organiser did not know it was not in the budget.” Rather than charging a flat fee for internet usage by conference goers, the University of Kent changed the conference for individual log-ons, leading to a bill of £80,576---over £65,000 over budget.
I remember we were each given individually unique logins rather than a set login for everyone, which must have been how the University tracked the expenditures. Once you had a login, though, you could get online even at other University campuses in Canterbury. So the structures of the internet connections must be based on the University organizations where each student is charged individually, only in the case of the Lambeth Conference the conference was charged individually (just imagine how many individual charges there were) - no group rate! It was like an open bar which each single drink got charged to the palace. The worse place to get an internet connection, by the way, was actually in the newsroom. That should have been a clue.

What also makes the report fascinating is to see how the structure works (or didn't work) in understanding the management of the Anglican Communion Office. Those documents are here.

UPDATE: Read the entire article here.

From the Church of England newspaper (to subscribe for the entire article click here). Official Report is
here. Appendixes are here.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Anglican congregation ordered to vacate their church home

Judge Larry Schwartz ruled today in the El Paso County District Court in Colorado Springs, CO that title to the property of Grace Church & St. Stephen's is vested in the Episcopal Church of the United States and in the Episcopal Diocese of Colorado. The congregation has been ordered to vacate the property and reportedly will leave their church home by April 1.

Here is Bishop Martyn Minns statement at the division of Grace Church & St. Stephen's:
While we are of course disappointed with today’s ruling, we will continue with our ministry and mission work in Colorado Springs and around the nation. The Gospel is not spread by church buildings or church property. It is the living Christ that works in people, and we are praying for the orthodox Anglicans in Colorado Springs that the work of the Lord will continue.

We remain steadfast in our effort to defend the historic Christian faith across the country. There is clearly a division within The Episcopal Church which broke its relationship with the worldwide Anglican Communion and fell out of step with much of Christendom by choosing to redefine and reinterpret Scripture.


The Denver Post reports that the judge ruled there was an "implied trust" on the property.
An El Paso County judge today ordered a breakaway Episcopalian congregation to surrender Grace Church and St. Stephen's Parish in Colorado Springs to the Colorado Episcopal Diocese it left two years ago over theoogical differences.

District Judge Larry Schwartz ruled that the landmark Gothic-style church, rectory and other buildings along Tejon Street, valued at about $17 million, belonged to the diocese.

The judge said 138 years of shared history had created an implied trust between the Episcopal Diocese and the church that prohibited members who left the denomination from taking property with them.
Note that implied trusts are historically not recognized in the Commonwealth of Virginia where the Episcopal Church and the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia have filed separate appeals to the rulings last year by Circuit Court Judge Randy Bellows, who found in favor of the local parishes who voted overwhelmingly in 2006 to separate from the Episcopal Church.

It will be interesting to see if the former "established church" of Virginia will also win over the Supreme Court judges in Richmond, remembering that the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia lost much of their holdings following votes by local parishes and actions taken by the General Assembly to disestablish the Episcopal Church in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Into the Twittersphere!



The social-networking-micro-bloggy-thingy is here and we're randomly shouting out into the darkness here.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Bob Dylan: "Politics is entertainment ... politics creates more problems than it solves."

Here it is! Part Two of Bill Flanagan's recent interview with Bob Dylan:

FLANAGAN: A lot of violence in these tunes – you advise anyone going to Houston to keep their gun belts tight, someone’s packing a Saturday Night Special in JOLENE, there’s a cold blooded killer stalking the town in IT’S ALL GOOD and the woman in MY WIFE’S HOME TOWN is going to make the singer kill someone. Does putting violence in a song up the ante?

DYLAN: How do you mean that?

FLANAGAN: Does it make the song riskier?

DYLAN: Well no. The main point is to acknowledge things without going off the deep end. I think whatever’s there is justified. You choose these things carefully.

FLANAGAN: You’ve been working in a lot of different areas lately. Your book was a best-seller, you acted in a movie, “Theme Time Radio Hour” is very popular and you had an exhibit of your art work. Does working in other media feed back into the music?

DYLAN: I think if it happens it might happen the other way around.

FLANAGAN: Did Chronicles work like that?

DYLAN: Well sure, Chronicles has its own rhythm. And I guess that would come out of playing songs.

FLANAGAN: How about your art work?

DYLAN: That’s completely out of the blue. I’ve always drawn and painted, but up until recently, nobody’s taken an interest. There’s never been any support for it.

FLANAGAN: And now?

DYLAN: Well, I’ve had a museum exhibit, I have an association with a London gallery, and there’ll probably be another exhibition of new works in another European museum in 2010. Now I’m scrambling to keep up. I’ve been commissioned to do paintings and they want me to work with iron and lead.

FLANAGAN: How do you find subject matter?

DYLAN: I just draw what’s interesting to me, and then I paint it. Rows of houses, orchard acres, lines of tree trunks, could be anything. I can take a bowl of fruit and turn it into a life and death drama. Women are power figures, so I depict them that way. I can find people to paint in mobile home communities. I could paint bourgeois people too. I’m not trying to make social comment or fulfill somebody’s vision and I can find subject matter anywhere. I guess in some way that comes out of the folk world that I came up in.

FLANAGAN: Say you wake up in a hotel room in Wichita and look out the window. A little girl is walking along the train tracks dragging a big statue of Buddha in a wooden wagon with a three-legged dog following behind. Do you reach for your guitar or your drawing pad?

DYLAN: Oh wow. It would depend on a lot of things. The environment mostly; like what kind of day is it. Is it a cloudless blue-gray sky or does it look like rain? A little girl dragging a wagon with a statue in it? I’d probably put that in last. The three-legged dog - what type? A spaniel, a bulldog, a retriever? That would make a difference. I’d have to think about that. Depends what angle I’m seeing it all from. Second floor, third floor, eighth floor. I don’t know. Maybe I’d want to go down there. The train tracks too. I’d have to find a way to connect it all up. I guess I would be thinking about if this was an omen or a harbinger of something.

FLANAGAN: If a young man considering a career in the arts wanted to meet a lot of women, would he be better off learning to paint or to play guitar?

DYLAN: Probably neither. If he had women on his mind, he might think about becoming a lawyer or a doctor.

FLANAGAN: Seriously?

DYLAN: Yeah, seriously. Maybe a private detective, but that would be the wrong motivation for any career.

FLANAGAN: In IF YOU EVER GO TO HOUSTON the character sends messages to three sisters in Dallas; two get off with a friendly greeting but then the other is warned to “Pray the Sinner’s Prayer.” What’s the Sinner’s Prayer?

DYLAN: That’s the one that begins with “Father forgive me for I have sinned.”

FLANAGAN: The guy in IF YOU EVER GO TO HOUSTON mentions he was in Houston during the Mexican War. A lot of people think the Anglos treated the Spanish badly in Texas, but miss the fact that the Spanish had claimed Texas for Mexico without ever populating it. They just drew a big line on the map and said, “All this is ours.” The people who actually lived there were either Anglo settlers or Indians, and none of them wanted anything to do with Spain or its Mexican colony. Do you think Sam Houston has gotten a bum rap?

DYLAN: I don’t know. I never heard that he had gotten a bum rap. Are we talking about Sam Houston the statesman, soldier and politician? Sam Houston was the governor of two states, both Texas and Tennessee. Who else has ever done that! What was he supposed to have gotten a bum rap for?

FLANAGAN: Well, he chopped off Texas from Mexico.

DYLAN: No he didn’t. He chopped it off from Spain. Just like somebody else chopped off Florida from Spain. Where does the bum rap come in?

FLANAGAN: Somebody insulted him in the movie GIANT, which got Rock Hudson all worked up. And I think Steve Earle might have taken a shot at him - or maybe it was Colonel Travis.

DYLAN: GIANT’S all about money. That’s where Jimmy Dean says to Rock Hudson, “I’ll have more money than you and all the rest of you stinkin’ sons of Benedict.” I thought it was that which got Rock so worked up. Steve Earle, he may know something I don’t know. As for Travis, he was a lawyer and died at the Alamo. It could have been something personal.

FLANAGAN: The instrumental sections on your albums have a different quality than the usual rock instrumental sections. For instance, on an Aerosmith record, at least part of it is about Joe Perry’s solo. While there's wonderful playing on BEYOND HERE LIES NOTHING, we don't hear the usual guitar soloing technique. Is there a special way you approach the instrumental sections on a record?

DYLAN: What can I say, if I had Joe Perry with me everything would obviously be different. As it is though, he wasn’t there. Soloing is not a big part of my records anyway. Nobody buys them to hear solos. What I try to do is to make sure that the instrumental sections are dynamic and are extensions of the overall feeling of the song.

FLANAGAN: Who’s that playing with you here?

DYLAN: Mike Campbell.

FLANAGAN: You have a history with Mike?

DYLAN: Yeah, I do. He played with me a lot when I played with Tom Petty.

FLANAGAN: I saw some of those shows. I particularly liked the segment during the show when it was just you and Mike and Benmont and no bass or drums.

DYLAN: Yeah. We worked out a few things. I would’ve always liked to have seen that develop more, but it didn’t.

FLANAGAN: How is he to work with?

DYLAN: He’s good with me. He’s been playing with Tom for so long that he hears everything from a songwriter’s point of view and he can play most any style.

FLANAGAN: A lot of accordion on this record – in places where we might expect to hear harmonica or organ or lead guitar.

DYLAN: Yeah, I guess so. The accordion can sound like all those instruments. Actually, I wished I had used it more on some of my past records.

FLANAGAN: Who’s playing that?

DYLAN: David Hidalgo.

FLANAGAN: Have you guys ever played together before?

DYLAN: I think so. Los Lobos played some shows with me in Mexico a while back. I remember playing some things with David and Cesar then.

FLANAGAN: Is there a chance you’ll add an accordion on stage?

DYLAN: Well sure, if I could fit it into my rhythm section.

FLANAGAN: Did you write any of these songs with the accordion in mind or did it come up during the sessions?

DYLAN: I use an accordion player when I play off-road shows. It’s a perfect instrument in a lot of ways. It’s orchestrative and percussive at the same time. Actually accordion players were the first musicians that I had seen a lot of growing up.

FLANAGAN: “Opened his eyes to the tune of the accordion.”

DYLAN: Precisely.

FLANAGAN: Tell me about Joey Gallo.

DYLAN: Tell you what about him?

FLANAGAN: You wrote a song about him. Some say it takes liberty with the truth.

DYLAN: Really? I wouldn’t know. Jacques Levy wrote the words. Jacques had a theatrical mind and he wrote a lot of plays. So the song might have been theater of the mind. I just sang it. Some say Davy Crockett takes a lot of liberties with the truth and Billy the Kid too - FDR in Trinidad. Have you ever heard that?

FLANAGAN: I certainly do remember it. "When Roosevelt came to the land of the hummingbird." I wonder if anybody in Georgia or Ukraine wrote a song about George Bush's visit? I know they named the airport road after him and his popularity in those places remained very high, even when no one liked him at home.

DYLAN: They name roads after a lot of people.

FLANAGAN: In MY WIFE’S HOME TOWN there’s the line, “Dreams never did work for me anyway.” Do you really believe that?

DYLAN: Well, yeah. Dreams can lead us up a blind alley. Everybody has dreams. We go to sleep and we dream. I’ve always thought of them as coming out of the subconscious. I guess you can interpret them. Dreams can tell us a lot about ourselves, if we can remember them. We can see what’s coming around the corner sometimes without actually going to the corner.

FLANAGAN: Can’t dreams also mean hopes about the future?

DYLAN: Oh sure. It’s about how we use the word, I guess. Hopes for the future? I’ve always connected them up with fears about the future. Hopes and fears go together like a comedy team. But I know what you are talking about. Like in the Everly Brothers song, ALL I HAVE TO DO IS DREAM. If they said, “All I have to do is hope,” it wouldn’t be saying the same thing. It wouldn’t be as strong.

FLANAGAN: What about political dreams?

DYLAN: Oh yeah. Politicians would have political dreams - dreams and ambitions. Maybe we are talking about two different things.

FLANAGAN: What’s your take on politics?

DYLAN: Politics is entertainment. It’s a sport. It’s for the well groomed and well heeled. The impeccably dressed. Party animals. Politicians are interchangeable.

FLANAGAN: Don’t you believe in the democratic process?

DYLAN: Yeah, but what’s that got to do with politics? Politics creates more problems than it solves. It can be counter-productive. The real power is in the hands of small groups of people and I don’t think they have titles.