Thursday, April 30, 2009

"It's all good?"



Didn't he get the memo? Hasn't he heard? The spirit's doing a brand new thing and it's all good.

From Together Through Life, released this week.

Dylan is, and has always been, Byronic

A great literary review of Together Through Life is found here by writer Anne Margaret Daniel, called Lyrical Ballads: Bob Dylan Plays Lost and Found in a Border Town on "Together Through Life." Read it all, please.

She pulls out a fine cast of literary characters in her own wonderful prose, characters who seem to be chasing Dylan on what he describes as a “kind of a road trip from Kansas City to New Orleans.” Huck Finn never had it so good.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Wednesday Night at the Cafe: Some Enchanted Evening Revisited



Hmmm ....

Dylan back on the cover of Rolling Stone

Great quote from the interview posted below the fold. What Dylan says can apply to the Christian faith - think about it:

People bring out books like the Encyclopedia of Dylan. There are people who consider themselves Dylan scholars or Dylanologists. Does it please you or does it seem strange for somebody to be microstudying you like that?
Nooo! It's outsiders, again. Anybody inside would know what it is that we do and what makes it tick. And you could write volumes on it. I could teach a course on it myself, on how to play this type of music. You know teaching enough young guys who want to play it. But you know, popular music. It doesn't attract people who are in it for the right reasons. They're not called to do it. It's not their destiny. They weren't born for it. ...But you know even then... aren't there thousands of books written on Shakespeare's works? And Shakespeare too? How many do you need to read? I'll tell you wouldn't you rather see a Shakespeare play than read a critical analysis on him? I know I would!
Just last night I was having dinner with a great friend and was asked "Why Dylan?" I would say the same now as I have in the past - when I heard Not Dark Yet I felt it from the inside out, like faith. It can be all in your head and then boom - something breaks through, like a whole new world opens up. That's what it felt like when I heard Not Dark Yet.

Here's Dylan take on Obama, seems he's not caught up in the mania - a great insight, which is applicable to our current Anglican Troubles as well:
Do you recall where you were at when Obama was elected? Did you feel part of that energy with the campaign? Do you feel like he's a good person?
Well I mean, how do you know? The people that are in history that I study up on are people like Attila the Hun, Genghis Khan, Julius Caesar, Scipio, maybe George Washington, Lincoln, those kind of guys. And I don't know much about any of these other guys that run for office. It takes more than being a politician to be a leader. So I study leaders rather than politicians.
Wait there's more. Here's Dylan chatting up the president of France and musing on the end of globalization and getting back to being the United States:

I want to just follow-up on that globalization talk you had with Sarkozy [after his April 7th show in Paris].
Yeah, I ask him, I said, "With all these bailouts and stimulus packages, all these bailouts throughout the country. I'm just wondering whether globalism is dead in the tracks? Ya know, is it over?" He doesn't say yes, he didn't say no.

Bob, he is a politician...
Yeah!

But what intrigued me was you saying that we must get back to being the United States.
Oh, and he could get back to being France.

Boy, you're an individualist, aren't you? Does globalism therefore get oppressive to you? The global Internet? Global economics? Are you missing what some critics call the older, weirder America?
I never thought the older America was weird in any way whatsoever. Where do people come up with that stuff? To call it that? What's the old weird America? The depression? Or Teddy Roosevelt? What's old and weird? Well, musically, no. Musically we play a form of American music and that's not gonna go away. Whatever happens in the world won't affect that whatsoever. But you know globalism is, I would think, about getting rid of boundaries, nationalities. You're apart of one big world, no? It might take people awhile to get used to that. I don't like the trend.

Dylan hits the cover of Rolling Stone, from here:
It’s a land of Walt Whitman and Chuck Berry, of border towns and murder ballads — and America’s greatest songwriter may be the last man living there. For the new issue of Rolling Stone on newsstands today, historian and professor Douglas Brinkley followed Bob Dylan from Paris to Amsterdam as the Midwest’s most famous son held court on American icons like Elvis Presley, Walt Whitman, Chuck Berry and Carl Sandburg.

Dylan also opened up about his partnership with Grateful Dead lyricist Robert Hunter, who contributed to Dylan’s new Together Through Life and mused on playing with the guitarist Mike Bloomfield.

In outtakes from Brinkley’s interview only available on RollingStone.com, Dylan talks about building the perfect sound, the problem with pop music and his take on globalism, as well as his songwriting. “Records take a lot of time, and ya know, you don’t just make them to make them. But you make them because you want people to hear the songs you need to play,” Dylan tells RS. “There’s just so many songs I have. Ya know, it’s always hard now, trying to find places for them in concert, ensuring the older ones get played.”

Cover Story Preview

Rolling Stone also takes a look back at the magazine’s long history with Dylan in a gallery of his RS covers (he appeared on his first in 1968), and explores the singer’s non-musical work in a gallery of his paintings, which have been displayed in galleries worldwide. Plus, read David Fricke’s review of Together Through Life.

Bob Dylan’s latest, Together Through Life, arrives today, but while critics are hailing this fresh batch of hardened, urgent songs, much of the advance chatter surrounding the album centers on the involvement of Grateful Dead lyricist Robert Hunter.

“Hunter is an old buddy,” Dylan explains in our next cover story, which hits newsstands this week (Check out some of cover writer Douglas Brinkley’s conversations with Dylan, plus a gallery of all of the songwriter’s RS covers). Dylan and Hunter collaborated on 10 songs, all but one of the album’s tracks. “We could probably write a hundred songs together if we thought it was important or the right reasons were there,” Dylan tells Rolling Stone. “He’s got a way with words and I do too. We both write a different type of song than what passes today for songwriting.”

Dylan and Hunter collaborated before on “Silvio” and “The Ugliest Girl In The World” for Dylan’s 1988 album Down In The Groove. The pair’s latest efforts, however, mark Dylan’s deepest work with a collaborator since his 1976 album Desire, which saw Dylan team with Jacques Levy for all but two songs.

Dylan explained his creative partnership with Hunter to RS contributor Doug Brinkley, a noted historian and Rice University professor who’s also profiled Norman Mailer, Kurt Vonnegut and Ken Kesey for RS. Brinkley interviewed Dylan for our new issue, which arrives this week. During their conversation, Dylan kept the door open to future collaborations with Hunter. “I think we’ll be writing a couple of other songs too for some off-Broadway play,” Dylan says.

Rolling Stone issue 1078 hits newsstands this week, and look for more from Dylan — including more from our exclusive interview, and a look back at his past RS covers — throughout the week here on RS.com. In the meantime, check out David Fricke’s four-star review of Together Through Life.

Four Stars for Together Through Life

Bob Dylan has sung in many voices on his records: the nasal-braying alarm of "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall"; the acidic dismissal in "Like a Rolling Stone"; the country hermit on The Basement Tapes; the grizzly wisecracking drifter on 2001's Love and Theft and 2006's Modern Times. But Dylan, who turns 68 in May, has never sounded as ravaged, pissed off and lusty, all at once, as he does on Together Through Life. It is a murky-sounding, often perplexing record. The lyrics seem dashed off in spots, like first drafts, while the performances — by Dylan's current touring band — feel like head arrangements caught on the run between Never Ending Tour dates. But there is a grim magnetism coursing through these 10 new songs — and most of it is in Dylan's vividly battered singing.

The shock of his voice comes right away. Dylan starts the record as if he's at a loss for words. "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," he sings in the muddy samba "Beyond Here Lies Nothin'." It is a plain, unpromising opening, except for the delivery: a deep, exhausted rasp that sounds like the singer has been beaten to a pulp, then left for dead at the side of the road. When Dylan gets to the title punch line in each verse, he grumbles it with an audible sneer. As far as he can tell, there isn't much world left to sit on.

Dylan's throat has never been anyone's idea of clear and soaring. But as a young folk singer, he strained to sound older and more sorely tested than he was, as if he had known Charley Patton, A.P. Carter and the Great Depression firsthand. He's finally there, with an authentically pitted instrument ideally suited to the devastated settings of these songs and the rusted desert-shed production (by Dylan under his usual pseudonym, Jack Frost): brushed-snare strolls and bar-band shuffles; bag-of-snakes guitars, with frequent stinging fills by Mike Campbell of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers; the rippled sigh and mocking laugh of an accordion icing most songs, played by David Hidalgo of Los Lobos. Compared to the Western-swing-like buoyance of Love and Theft and the Fifties-Chess-session air of Modern Times, this record sounds like it was cut in the dead-end Mexican border town in Orson Welles' 1958 film noir, Touch of Evil, especially when Dylan gets to lines like the closing few in "Forgetful Heart," a musky blend of banjo, dirty guitar and utter emotional defeat: "All night long/I lay awake and listen to the sound of pain/The door has closed forevermore/If indeed there ever was a door."

That hardened, bleating voice is also perfect for these times: A nation drunk on hope less than six months ago now drowns in red ink and pink slips. "Some people they tell me/I got the blood of the land in my voice," Dylan cracks in the Nashville Skyline-style sway of "I Feel a Change Comin' On." But the country in these songs is running on fumes, into brick walls. "State gone broke/The county's dry/Don't be looking at me with that evil eye," Dylan snaps in the Chicago-blues lark "My Wife's Home Town," spitting the lines like a CNN news ticker. (The name of that town, according to Dylan: Hell.) "Shake Shake Mama," a string of comic come-ons with a Louisiana juke-dance gait, ends not with scoring but dire warning: "If you're goin' on home, better go the shortest way."

There is another line worth noting in "I Feel a Change Comin' On" — "You are as whorish as ever" — and Dylan growls it like a compliment. Together Through Life is, in a surprisingly direct way, about the only thing you can count on when you're surrounded by clowns, thieves and government (sometimes all the same thing) and what happens when you lose — or throw away — your good thing. In the slow hurt of "Life Is Hard," Dylan bites down gently on each syllable, over soft-shoe drums and weeping pedal steel ("My dreams are locked and barred/Ad-mit-ting life is hard/With-out you near me"). And regret doesn't get much better than his strict instructions in the final verse of "If You Ever Go to Houston," a Doug Sahm-like shot of norteƱo R&B: "Find the barrooms I got lost in/And send my memories home/Put my tears in a bottle/Screw the top on tight."

Ultimately, Together Through Life is a mixed bag of this decade's Dylan — impulsive, caustic, sentimental, long done with the contrived details of contemporary record-making. The album may lack the instant-classic aura of Love and Theft or Modern Times, but it is rich in striking moments, set in a willful rawness, and comes with a wicked finish. "It's All Good" is a bayou-John Lee Hooker boogie that opens with bad shit ("Big politician telling lies/Restaurant kitchen, all full of flies/Don't make a bit of difference") and just gets worse ("Brick by brick, they tear you down/A teacup of water is enough to drown"). It's a portrait of an ugly America, devolving into bare-knuckle Darwinism — survival of the coldest and cruelest — and Dylan rubs your face in it. "It's all good," he sings repeatedly with a cruel shrug in that voice, knowing damn well it's not. But Dylan is just as sure, in nearly every other song here, that there is strength in numbers — and that number is two.

BB NOTE: Heading home today (with a stop at the magazine stand to pick up the latest issue of Rolling Stone) and know that the Amazon Man has been at the door, so stay tuned for the official BabyBlue Review of Together Through Life.

In the meantime, here's the official video for Beyond Here Lies Nothing, from Together Through Life:




UPDATE: Here are excerpts from the cover story interview:

Do you think of yourself as a bandleader at all?
Ah, yeah... I do. Ideally, I probably would be by not writing music but writing the charts. I'd be writing the dynamics that are happening inside of the song. But without writing that down in a musical notation and being able to give it to say, an orchestrator. And so my songs could be played by an orchestra. With strings and horns and bassoons. And where those rhythms can be played by classical instruments. I could probably get my point across even better than I can now with just playing in a five-piece band. So, in my mind, whatever it is I'm doing, it's not really completely fully developed. Does that make sense to you? It's got potential to be developed. But as time goes on, nobody is notating my music properly. I used to think maybe 10 years ago that somebody should. That somebody would. We had some people come in and do it but back in those days, my electric guitar was dominating the rhythm section and I couldn't get my supporting players to understand what all the focus was on. And it took me a long time to find the right combination of guys. Not that I ever stopped working, I figured I'll just plow through the song and the right guys will appear sooner or later. Which is what happened. That's pretty much the story up to the present time.

My songs, from the beginning, were never like that. They weren't really a communal thing for people to bond over. They were more individualistic right from the start. But I always knew something was going to click. But I didn't know what it would be. So I stuck with it. You know, my health held up. And I was able to stick with it. And there was like a fierce wind that was pushing me, just to do this one thing like nobody had ever done it before. In jazz or classical music you have critics who understand the music. Like in modern jazz, I mean you'll read reviews of, you know, Charlie Mingus or Dizzy or somebody. The critical language is not a more conventional language. It's written for a music person to appreciate. Well pop music isn't written like that. Pop music seems to be right down there on the bottom of the street. It's almost worthless. The critics aren't necessarily good writers. They don't have to really take any type of college course in it because the songs themselves are really simple. And they have generations of musical idioms to look at. And... it's called popular music.

But you know Bob Willis? I saw a statement from Bob Willis one time and he said that, "Each aspect of pop music reflects on the other." And that, "Each aspect of popular music affects the other." He said the kind of music he played, which was called Western Swing music, was only in one area of popular music. He considered himself a popular music man. Just like the Memphis Jug Band, they thought they were playing popular music. They didn't have any skills I guess. I saw an interview once with Riley Puckett. He claimed they were playing popular music just like Bing Crosby singing it or Ella Fitzgerald or anybody. And I feel the same way. It's popular music. You can't break that. Some of it is stronger and harsher than others. But somebody I knew broke the pop music stereotype. That guy was Woody Guthrie. But his songs in one form or another are still popular music.

I would think doing 108 shows a year has helped create such a perfect sound. It must be keeping you alive. The lyrics to Together Through Life are survivalist road songs, really.
What happened there was I really had no plans to make any record, any new record from about '94, '92 or '94. I figured I'd go out on the road and I'd stick to performing. I'd figured that out, I'd gotten into what makes the road tick for me. So I figured I had, at that point, so many songs in my pocket, I didn't really want to write any new songs. I had songs of every type. And they all held up. But I was bored singing them a certain way. So I was already starting to break into the structure with my own guitar.

First thing I had to do was find a drummer. That was difficult. But I found a good bass player, Tony Garnier, and he stuck with me. Finding a drummer was difficult. And finding another guitar player or two was just almost impossible. And I'd experiment with other instruments. I just went through guys, ya know, until what I have as a band now is acceptable for the type of music we play in a good way.

But at a certain point I thought that even though I had made a vow to myself that I wouldn't record anymore, and records take a lot of time, and ya know, you don't just make them to make them. But you make them because you want people to hear the songs you need to play. Ya know, different songs. I had no real hunger to play any different songs. And, of course, that changed because I realized, "Why don't I just write some songs that are more into this new style of music that I'm playing?" Which my old songs weren't. I could force them there and they will work. But, ideally, maybe they weren't suited for what I now wanted to accomplish. So I started writing the Time Out of Mind songs. And we used most of those in that album. I thought, well, we did that! We'll do some more! That album's songs fit this particular style we're doing now. You never knew when you're writing them yourself. Or you'd only write them because you wanted to sing something new. Oftentimes it's because you were short or something for an album. We couldn't possibly play all the songs I've came up with in a week. Or in a month. There's just so many songs I have. Ya know, it's always hard now, trying to find places for them in concert, ensuring the older ones get played. But as far as going out on the road? I mean, that would probably be said by outsiders who aren't really preachers or musicians or entertainers of any kind of degree. Basically I'm like Chuck Berry or Little Richard when it comes to outsider stuff. So I reject that criticism that I'm performing too much.

People bring out books like the Encyclopedia of Dylan. There are people who consider themselves Dylan scholars or Dylanologists. Does it please you or does it seem strange for somebody to be microstudying you like that?
Nooo! It's outsiders, again. Anybody inside would know what it is that we do and what makes it tick. And you could write volumes on it. I could teach a course on it myself, on how to play this type of music. You know teaching enough young guys who want to play it. But you know, popular music. It doesn't attract people who are in it for the right reasons. They're not called to do it. It's not their destiny. They weren't born for it. ...But you know even then... aren't there thousands of books written on Shakespeare's works? And Shakespeare too? How many do you need to read? I'll tell you wouldn't you rather see a Shakespeare play than read a critical analysis on him? I know I would!

Do you get any time to sit in on concerts? Like would you go see someone like Leonard Cohen...
I know what Leonard does. I wouldn't need to go see him. I still go see plays. I go to the symphony because I'd be hearing threads and things that are new to me that maybe would influence me in some kind of way. ... I mean I would hear things harmonically that I might think, "Oh, well that's not such a bad idea" or maybe that kind of thing. But I wouldn't go see anybody.

Do you recall where you were at when Obama was elected? Did you feel part of that energy with the campaign? Do you feel like he's a good person?
Well I mean, how do you know? The people that are in history that I study up on are people like Attila the Hun, Genghis Khan, Julius Caesar, Scipio, maybe George Washington, Lincoln, those kind of guys. And I don't know much about any of these other guys that run for office. It takes more than being a politician to be a leader. So I study leaders rather than politicians.

Obama's shown great potential as a leader.
Let's hope so. I mean he's inheriting that position at a very complicated time.

Are you recording all of your shows on good digital tape? Is each Bob Dylan show being recorded for posterity?
No. At a certain point we'll take songs into the studio and we'll do a television show. Television. [Laughs.] Like that still exists — with this band performing some kind of a repertoire of these particular songs. And they'll be recorded properly. The other [bootleg] recordings, they aren't recorded properly. You have no idea the stuff I deal with. Why are people compelled to think I'm just a public figure going around doing shows they think they can record what they want? You have to go deal with the people who are actually there from night to night. But most of those people aren't there to record or to take pictures. They're there for enjoyment reasons. They are a lot of people who are having a night out. If you're doing something else while we're playing [shakes head]. I say it's like going to a Shakespeare play and taking pictures. You're not going to feel the affect.

But can you ever say, "Oh, that show tonight I felt like I was in the zone"?
No. They're all in the zone. Because it's got nothing to do with how you feel. They're all in the zone. Every night is in the zone. Because it's mathematical. As long as you stick to the rules — the mathematical rules, there's no way you can miss.

BB NOTE: What do you think he mean's by this, sticking to the rules, "the mathematical rules?" What do you think he means - he's said this before, that it's about mathematics.

I want to just follow-up on that globalization talk you had with Sarkozy [after his April 7th show in Paris].
Yeah, I ask him, I said, "With all these bailouts and stimulus packages, all these bailouts throughout the country. I'm just wondering whether globalism is dead in the tracks? Ya know, is it over?" He doesn't say yes, he didn't say no.

Bob, he is a politician...
Yeah!

But what intrigued me was you saying that we must get back to being the United States.
Oh, and he could get back to being France.

Boy, you're an individualist, aren't you? Does globalism therefore get oppressive to you? The global Internet? Global economics? Are you missing what some critics call the older, weirder America?
I never thought the older America was weird in any way whatsoever. Where do people come up with that stuff? To call it that? What's the old weird America? The depression? Or Teddy Roosevelt? What's old and weird? Well, musically, no. Musically we play a form of American music and that's not gonna go away. Whatever happens in the world won't affect that whatsoever. But you know globalism is, I would think, about getting rid of boundaries, nationalities. You're apart of one big world, no? It might take people awhile to get used to that. I don't like the trend.

You spent some time in New York rings over the decades. Do you ever get nostalgic being back in the Village? Or are you just doing your thing now so much you're not really looking back much.
Well I still find the old magic downtown. New York is New York. It's always got that vibrancy to it. But the old world? The one I found when I'd gotten there? That's pretty much gone. That's been gone for quite awhile and I wouldn't expect it to come back.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Questions raised on ethics of Episcopal officials publishing private correspondence between bishops and their lawyer

Dr. Philip Turner has some questions:

The posting of a stream of private emails that came from an unnamed source, including the correspondence of senior Bishops of this church and their lawyer, has added considerable heat to the debate that has followed publication on the ACI website of the Bishops’ Statement on the Polity of The Episcopal Church.

To date, the discussion that has taken place on the Web has served more to cloud than clarify the significant issues now faced both by The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion. If one reads carefully the comments of those who find themselves in disagreement with the Bishops’ statement a number of questions come to mind—each of which deserves a clear and unequivocal answer.

1. Why would one publish, without confirmation by the parties involved, a thread of private and privileged emails that came from a source not previously known?

2. Is it not the case that priests’ publishing the private emails of bishops is a matter of grave pastoral disorder?

3. How can one confirm that the source is not lying about how the private correspondence was obtained, and that instead the emails were stolen and a convenient alibi provided?

4. Why did the published version of the emails rearrange them in a specific order and omit some; and why was this published on the website of an Episcopal Church in Pasadena, CA, and also watermarked and published by a secular Gay publication in Washington, DC?

5. Why is the version published on this Episcopal Church website now inaccessible?

6. Why would one publish a version of the Bishops’ statement without verifying first that the list of signatories is correct? (The list in fact was not correct.)

7. Why would one imply or directly state the signatories thought it permissible for a diocese to withdraw from The Episcopal Church when no such claim was made in the Bishops’ statement?

8. Given the frequently repeated objection that a diocese is in fact not free to sign onto the covenant even if The Episcopal Church refuses to do so, and given the fact that The Episcopal Church is defined in its Constitution as being in communion with the Archbishop of Canterbury, is the claim being made that a diocese that wishes to remain in communion with Canterbury even in circumstances where The Episcopal Church status has been compromised must simply submit to seriously impaired or broken communion?

9. To put the question another way, if The Episcopal Church were to refuse to sign the covenant and its status in relation to Canterbury and the other Provinces of the Communion were compromised, is it being suggested that dioceses that believe their Catholic character to have become questionable should not seek an uncompromised relationship?

10. Some have questioned Dr. Ephraim Radner’s claim that use of the term “churches” in the draft covenant is understood to include non-provincial jurisdictions, which might (as at present) mean dioceses or other ecumenical partners, or even other ecclesial entities as Archbishop Williams has indicated in his discussion of this matter on various occasions. Are these persons saying that Dr. Radner is not telling the truth?

11. If the claim is being made that he is not telling the truth, on what basis is such a claim being made?

12. One person commenting on the Bishops’ statement wondered if the signatories should not be charged with Abandonment of Communion. On what basis would a responsibly stated objection to actions that appear either unconstitutional or contrary to the canons be grounds for charges of Abandonment?

13. How can a claim about the proper meaning of the Constitution and Canons of The Episcopal Church be considered as grounds for having abandoned them?
Read it all here.

Anglicans in Canada and the United States finalize plans to begin forming an alternate church in North America

From here:
A group of conservative Anglicans in Canada and the United States has finalized plans to begin forming an alternate church in North America.

Leaders of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), a collection of 12 Anglican organizations that began to unify last November, approved applications for the creation of 28 new dioceses in the church. The new church’s leaders also finalized a draft constitution and church laws ahead of its provincial assembly.

“It is a great encouragement to see the fruit of many years’ work,” said the Right Rev. Robert Duncan, archbishop-elect of the Anglican Church in North America and bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh. “Today 23 dioceses and five dioceses-in-formation joined together to reconstitute an orthodox, Biblical, missionary and united Church in North America.”

According to the ACNA’s Web site, the jurisdictions that make up the 28 dioceses and dioceses-in-formation of the new church are: the dioceses of Fort Worth, Pittsburgh, Quincy and San Joaquin; the Anglican Mission in the Americas; the Convocation of Anglicans in North America; the Anglican Network in Canada; the Anglican Coalition in Canada; the Reformed Episcopal Church; and the missionary initiatives of Kenya, Uganda and South America’s Southern Cone. The American Anglican Council and Forward in Faith North America are also founding organizations.


ACNA largely took cues from a 2008 gathering of bishops upset with widespread liberalization of doctrine in Canada and the U.S., particularly with provinces in the Anglican Communion that want to ordain openly gay bishops. The conference, known as the Global Anglican Future Conference, served as a rallying point for traditional Anglicans and bishops who boycotted the once-per-decade Lambeth Conference for the whole Anglican Communion.

The fledgling church has gained support from bishops around the world, receiving recognition as being legitimate this month from seven archbishops who are members of a group called the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans (FCA).

“Though many provinces are in impaired or broken communion with [the Episcopal Church] and the Anglican Church of Canada, our fellowship with faithful Anglicans in North America remains steadfast,” said the FCA Primates’ Council in a statement. “The FCA Primates’ Council recognizes the Anglican Church in North America as genuinely Anglican and recommends that Anglican provinces affirm full communion with the ACNA.”

ACNA will hold its first provincial assembly on June 22 to 25 in Bedford, Texas. The 28 dioceses approved by ACNA leadership this week will each send delegates to the assembly.

The new church includes 100,000 Anglicans in 700 parishes.


Read it all here.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Emerging Anglican Province Announces 28 Dioceses in the United States and Canada

From here.

Leaders representing Canadian and US orthodox Anglican jurisdictions approved applications for membership of 28 dioceses and dioceses-in-formation and finalized plans for launching the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA). Twelve Anglican organizations are uniting to form the ACNA.

The ACNA Leadership Council, in addition to accepting these dioceses as constituent members, finalized a draft constitution and a comprehensive set of canons (Church bylaws) for ratification by the provincial assembly. A list of the new dioceses, the constitution and the canons will soon be available at www.united-anglicans.org.

“It is a great encouragement to see the fruit of many years’ work,” said the Right Reverend Robert Duncan, archbishop-elect of the Anglican Church in North America and Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh. “Today 23 dioceses and five dioceses-in-formation joined together to reconstitute an orthodox, Biblical, missionary and united Church in North America.”

The Anglican Church in North America holds its inaugural provincial assembly 22-25 June 2009 in St Vincent’s Cathedral, Bedford, Texas. Delegates to this inaugural provincial assembly will be selected by the 28 constituent dioceses and dioceses-in-formation according to an agreed apportionment (contained in Title I, Canon 5).

In addition to the official delegates, a number of other Anglican and ecumenical Christian leaders are expected to be present at the provincial assembly, demonstrating the breadth of recognition and fellowship accorded ACNA. Already, three prominent Ecumenical leaders are confirmed speakers at the ACNA provincial assembly:

  • Pastor Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church,
  • His Beatitude, Metropolitan Jonah, the Archbishop of Washington and New York and the Metropolitan of All America and Canada for the Orthodox Church in America, and
  • the Rev Todd Hunter, Director of West Coast Church Planting for the Anglican Mission in the Americas.

Earlier this month, seven Primates (Archbishops leading Churches in the Anglican Communion) issued a statement recognizing the Anglican Church in North America as an Emergent Province. These Primates, who represent 70 per cent of committed Anglicans worldwide, said in their statement, “Though many Provinces are in impaired or broken communion with TEC [the Episcopal Church] and the Anglican Church of Canada, our fellowship with faithful Anglicans in North America remains steadfast. The FCA [Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans] Primates’ Council recognizes the Anglican Church in North America as genuinely Anglican and recommends that Anglican Provinces affirm full communion with the ACNA.”

The Anglican Church in North America unites some 100,000 Anglicans in 700 parishes into a single church. Jurisdictions which have joined together to form the 28 dioceses and dioceses-in-formation of the Anglican Church in North America are: the dioceses of Fort Worth, Pittsburgh, Quincy and San Joaquin; the Anglican Mission in the Americas; the Convocation of Anglicans in North America; the Anglican Network in Canada; the Anglican Coalition in Canada; the Reformed Episcopal Church; and the missionary initiatives of Kenya, Uganda, and South America’s Southern Cone. Additionally, the American Anglican Council and Forward in Faith North America are founding organizations.

The Constitution as will be presented to the June Assembly is available here.

The Canons as will be presented to the June Assembly are available here

Bono interviews Clooney

And they talk about the celebrity culture and fame:



Rumors abound that Clooney will play Cousin Charles in an upcoming film. Could not have predicted that one.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Sunday Night at the Cafe

Broke down and switched on the AC.

Former Episcopal priests make a home — with wife and children — in the Catholic church

From here:
There are few women who can say they are married to a Roman Catholic priest.

And few people who can say their dad is the man Catholic churchgoers address as “Father Steve.”

But Cindy Anderson and her three sons can, and they were among the rush of congregants who gathered for 10 a.m. Mass on a recent Sunday at St. Mark the Evangelist Catholic Church in Goodrich, Mich.

The parish priest is Cindy’s husband and the father of Austin, 24; Steven Jr., 14; and Christian, 11. The Rev. Steve Anderson has been a Catholic priest since 2003, when he was ordained under an exception to the Catholic Church’s celibacy rule for married ministers serving some Protestant denominations.

About 100 married men, mostly ministers in Episcopal churches in the United States, have sought permission from the Vatican to be ordained as Catholic priests since Pope John Paul II allowed it in 1980.

“It does take some explanation, for sure,” said Austin Anderson, an automotive engineer. “People think I don’t know what I’m talking about, at first. ‘Maybe you mean deacon,’ they say. ‘Maybe you mean another denomination.’ ”

Then there’s the joke he hears whenever he explains what Dad does for a living: “Do you call him ‘Father father’?”

The Rev. Ernie Davis, a married priest in the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph since 2002 and a former Episcopal priest, said he is, “Almost universally accepted, and if I’m not, people are too polite to say so.”

But, “Sometimes I am a lightning rod for people who think that priests who took a vow of celibacy ought to be able to get married and remain active in priestly ministry,” he said. “Others need assurance that I’m not dishonoring the gifted ministry of priests and seminarians who are true to the celibate way of life.”

One of the challenges, however, is balancing ministry and marriage.

“Without some balance it could kill a marriage,” Davis said. “My family (wife Valerie Davis and three children ages 23, 21 and 18) keeps me balanced and rooted.

“Sometimes they are my biggest challengers. I love being a husband and father. I do not know what it’s like to be a priest and celibate. I can certainly see some advantages for the celibate priest, especially when I am telling Valerie that I am headed out for the fourth evening meeting in a week.”

Novelty welcomed

For Cindy Anderson, being a priest’s wife has meant a rare and challenging role.

“I’ve heard good response,” the 49-year-old said. “I hear, ‘We’d like to see more of this.’ I’ve been well received. Some say, ‘We’ve been ready for this.’ ”

Laura Sullivan, a Kettering University mechanical engineering professor, is one of them. She followed Anderson from his previous parish, Holy Family in Grand Blanc, Mich., to his current posting.

“This is somebody my kids could talk to. Somebody married people can relate to. He brought such a fresh breath of air,” Sullivan said after Sunday Mass.

Valerie Davis teaches theology at Rockhurst High School in Kansas City, where freshman students usually are surprised that she’s married to a priest. But parents and older students “often are conversant with aspects of the Catholic Church’s pastoral provision,” she said.

If anyone is surprised, usually it is a Protestant who is less familiar with the Catholic Church, she said.

Michael Diebold, a spokesman for the Diocese of Lansing, Mich., which oversees Anderson, acknowledged that parishioners have welcomed the novelty of a married priest, a concept that flies counter to the Vatican’s unwavering support for priestly celibacy.

“If there are people who find he’s more approachable because of that reason, then that’s a good thing,” Diebold said. “Not to denigrate all the single priests who are out there, but if there’s a segment of the population that finds that to be a positive in their lives, that’s a good thing.”

Not against celibacy

Both Anderson and the Rev. William Lipscomb, a Traverse City, Mich., parish pastor who in 1997 was the first married Episcopalian minister in Michigan to be ordained a Catholic priest, say they are not campaigning for an end to Rome’s celibacy requirement.

“I’m a priest. I’m not a policy-setter,” said Anderson, 50.

Read it all here.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Beyond Here Lies Nothing: The Video



"Together Through Life, Dylan’s first studio album since 2006’s Modern Times, is characterized by tales of ordinary American lives of love, loss and regret," writes the London Telegraph. "Just as his songs of the 1960s did so effectively, Dylan’s current writing captures the shifting nuances of the American dream and the optimism which defines it. Dylan offers a lively portrait of an idea of America, struggling against the indifference of circumstance, for a sense of its own worth. The track may seem like an acknowledgment of defeat - “Beyond here lies nothing/ nothing done and nothing said” – but it’s equally an affirmation of the need to always ‘go beyond’ regardless of circumstance."

The video, writes Rolling Stone "makes use of the stark black-and-white photographs of Bruce Davidson’s 1959 Brooklyn Gang series, creating a photo montage with Beyond Here Lies Nothing as the soundtrack.

Rolling Stone reports that in the spring of 1959, photographer Bruce Davidson met a crew of Brooklyn teenagers who called themselves “the Jokers” and spent the summer shooting the gang “in their natural habitat,” everywhere from street corners to the borough’s Coney Island amusement park.

Fulcrum's Graham Kings made a bishop

From the Times of London:
A leader of a prominent evangelical Anglican group has been appointed bishop to Sherborne, one of the oldest episcopal seats in the country. The appointment of Dr Graham Kings is a strong sign that the Archbishop of Canterbury is winning the battle for Anglican unity.

Dr Kings, 55, is the founder of Fulcrum, which has campaigned for orthodoxy without schism in the Church of England. Centrist conservatives are resisting moves to defect over the consecration of a gay bishop and the blessing of same-sex marriages. Fifteen of these bishops in the US Episcopal Church this week published a statement arguing for the recognition of the individual diocese as “church” rather than the national province. If these were accepted it would mean that dioceses could individually sign up to the new unity document, the Anglican Covenant, even if a national Church refused to do so because it wished to pursue a more liberal pro-gay agenda.

Dr Kings said he believed that the strategy of Dr Rowan Williams to attempt to keep most conservatives and liberals on board through the “covenant process” was working.
Read it all here.

A must-read on Graham Kings is from the Fulcrum newsletter last June where he divides up the Anglican Communion into four quadrants here, as well as proposals for reorganization of the Anglican Communion. I quarrel with this view because it separates people into silos and the 21 century is about crashing the silos. We will just not stay put in our own little quandrants, which quickly turn into theological and relational ghettos. I've written about that here and here.

The thing about nicely packaging up people into what I would call The Four Ghettos is that it gives the illusion of order in order to make ones political (and most of the time it's really political, not theological for it's about trapping someone into a ghetto where they can be either dismissed or controlled). But it is an illusion and every so often there is a prison break that catches the Ghetto advocates by surprise. Just saying.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Friday Afternoon at the Cafe: Things Have Changed



Lot of water under the bridge,
Lot of other stuff too
Don't get up gentlemen,
I'm only passing through


SATURDAY AM: Decided to put all the lyrics up - it's no wonder that Dylan won an Academy Award for this song, the same Oscar that travels around with him on the Neverending Tour duck-taped to his amp.

A worried man with a worried mind
No one in front of me and nothing behind
There's a woman on my lap and she's drinking champagne
Got white skin, got assassin's eyes
I'm looking up into the sapphire tinted skies
I'm well dressed, waiting on the last train

Standing on the gallows with my head in a noose
Any minute now I'm expecting all hell to break loose

People are crazy and times are strange
I'm locked in tight, I'm out of range
I used to care, but things have changed

This place ain't doing me any good
I'm in the wrong town, I should be in Hollywood
Just for a second there I thought I saw something move
Gonna take dancing lessons do the jitterbug rag
Ain't no shortcuts, gonna dress in drag
Only a fool in here would think he's got anything to prove

Lot of water under the bridge, Lot of other stuff too
Don't get up gentlemen, I'm only passing through

People are crazy and times are strange
I'm locked in tight, I'm out of range
I used to care, but things have changed

I've been walking forty miles of bad road
If the bible is right, the world will explode
I've been trying to get as far away from myself as I can
Some things are too hot to touch
The human mind can only stand so much
You can't win with a losing hand

Feel like falling in love with the first woman I meet
Putting her in a wheel barrow and wheeling her down the street

People are crazy and times are strange
I'm locked in tight, I'm out of range
I used to care, but things have changed

I hurt easy, I just don't show it
You can hurt someone and not even know it
The next sixty seconds could be like an eternity
Gonna get low down, gonna fly high
All the truth in the world adds up to one big lie
I'm in love with a woman who don't even appeal to me

Mr. Jinx and Miss Lucy, they jumped in the lake
I'm not that eager to make a mistake

People are crazy and times are strange
I'm locked in tight, I'm out of range
I used to care, but things have changed


B. Dylan 1999

How the E-Book Will Change the Way We Read and Write

From the Wall Street Journal:
Every genuinely revolutionary technology implants some kind of "aha" moment in your memory -- the moment where you flip a switch and something magical happens, something that tells you in an instant that the rules have changed forever.I still have vivid memories of many such moments: clicking on my first Web hyperlink in 1994 and instantly transporting to a page hosted on a server in Australia; using Google Earth to zoom in from space directly to the satellite image of my house; watching my 14-month-old master the page-flipping gesture on the iPhone's touch interface.

The latest such moment came courtesy of the Kindle, Amazon.com Inc.'s e-book reader. A few weeks after I bought the device, I was sitting alone in a restaurant in Austin, Texas, dutifully working my way through an e-book about business and technology, when I was hit with a sudden desire to read a novel. After a few taps on the Kindle, I was browsing the Amazon store, and within a minute or two I'd bought and downloaded Zadie Smith's novel "On Beauty." By the time the check arrived, I'd finished the first chapter.

Aha.

I knew then that the book's migration to the digital realm would not be a simple matter of trading ink for pixels, but would likely change the way we read, write and sell books in profound ways. It will make it easier for us to buy books, but at the same time make it easier to stop reading them. It will expand the universe of books at our fingertips, and transform the solitary act of reading into something far more social. It will give writers and publishers the chance to sell more obscure books, but it may well end up undermining some of the core attributes that we have associated with book reading for more than 500 years.

There is great promise and opportunity in the digital-books revolution. The question is: Will we recognize the book itself when that revolution has run its course?

The Dark Matter

In our always-connected, everything-linked world, we sometimes forget that books are the dark matter of the information universe. While we now possess terabytes of data at our fingertips, we have nonetheless drifted further and further away from mankind's most valuable archive of knowledge: the tens of millions of books that have been published since Gutenberg's day.

That's because the modern infosphere is both organized and navigated through hyperlinked pages of digital text, with the most-linked pages rising to the top of Google Inc.'s all-powerful search-results page. This has led us toward some traditional forms of information, such as newspapers and magazines, as well as toward new forms, such as blogs and Wikipedia. But because books have largely been excluded from Google's index -- distant planets of unlinked analog text -- that vast trove of knowledge can't compete with its hyperlinked rivals.

But there is good reason to believe that this strange imbalance will prove to be a momentary blip, and that the blip's moment may be just about over. Credit goes to two key developments: the breakthrough success of Amazon's Kindle e-book reader, and the maturation of the Google Book Search service, which now offers close to 10 million titles, including many obscure and out-of-print works that Google has scanned. As a result, 2009 may well prove to be the most significant year in the evolution of the book since Gutenberg hammered out his original Bible.

Read the entire article online here. Tip of the tinfoil to LB (which a little help from JW).

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Wednesday Night at the Cafe: Some Enchanted Evening

Draft of Communion Partners Statement on the Polity of The Episcopal Chuch is seized and leaked by Episcopal progressive activists

Episcopalian progressive activists are positively giddy that they have gotten a hold of what appears to be a final draft of the Communion Partners Statement dated April 18th and have gone and published it at Ed Bacon's All Saints Pasadena Episcopal Church website before official authorization from the partners themselves.

The progressives are filled with the most incredible tinfoil hat conspiracies and seem to be in massive withdrawal that they don't have David Anderson to kick around anymore. So now they turn their poison pens toward the Communion Partners - of all people! The Communion Partners? They have got to be kidding. It simply just astonishes me - is this actually a parody? We're talking about a group that includes Geralyn Wolf, Bishop of Rhode Island for goodness sake. What in tarnation has been dropped in the Pasadena water?

Remember, the Communion Partners want to stay in the Episcopal Church. Remember that? Remember? They want to stay! Remember the Big Tent? What happened, did it get blown out to sea? The outrage reminds me of someone who has gotten caught with their hand in the proverbial cookie jar.

A "statement" put out by the activists themselves reads like a screed, a parody of itself, breathless and self-righteous. Apparently, it seems it's time to pull our Tin Foil Hat back off the shelf and blow off the dust.

Why are the progressive activists in such a frantic frothing state? I mean, remember - it's Easter Day in the Episcopal Church, circa 2003. They got what they wanted - why all the wrath, all the wailing, all the gnashing of teeth?

Apparently the Communion Partners have systematically and methodically made the case that the Presiding Bishop has been operating both in the House of Bishops and in the United States courts completely beyond her canonical authority. Busted. She's off the reservation. But instead of systematically and methodically making the case that the Communion Partners are somehow sadly mistaken, the progressive activists are screaming "Off with their heads!" Got to wonder about that.

Clearly, the progressive activists are outraged that the statement will be entered into evidence in court and undermine the litigious strategies now being employed by the Presiding Bishop herself. Oops. The case is made extraordinarily well in the document published on the All Saints Pasadena Episcopal Church website and instead of responding reasonably and succinctly to the arguments made, they have a meltdown instead, brandishing copies of personal and private e-mail conversations as though we don't actually live in a free country after all.

Once again, we have evidence that if one does not tow the official line, if one dares to go against the status quo, then one will be branded as disloyal - or worse, "manipulating a schism driven agenda" to "undermine the mission and ministry of the Episcopal Church." Yikes! The former Archbishop of Canterbury wasn't kidding when he warned the Communion Partners last week that regarding the remnant orthodox wing of The Episcopal Church “all signs suggest that over time they are likely to be cleaned out of TEC.”

Now what else would cause such a furious outcry, to even to publish what appears to be the final draft of Communion Partners Statement on the website of the All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena? What do they fear?

UPDATE: The Anglican Communion Institute is requesting from the Rev. Mark Harris, a member of the Executive Council of The Episcopal Church (who apparently is the one who made private correspondence public) "that he indicate, given his role on the Executive Council, what the justification for this publication of email correspondence not addressed to him is; and further, why he did not discuss the matter of private emails with the principals before releasing them on his blog and passing them on to his colleagues elsewhere. We request that Mr. Harris explain to the public how he obtained access to this confidential communication."

Read the entire request here.

PM UPDATE: The Bishops Statement on the Polity of the Episcopal Church is now officially published and available at the Covenant website here. The signers are:

The Right Reverend James M. Adams, Jr.
Bishop of Western Kansas

The Right Reverend Peter H. Beckwith
Bishop of Springfield

The Right Reverend William C. Frey
Assisting Bishop of Rio Grande; Retired Bishop of Colorado

The Right Reverend Alden M. Hathaway
Retired Bishop of Pittsburgh

The Right Reverend John W. Howe
Bishop of Central Florida

The Right Reverend Russell E. Jacobus
Bishop of Fond du Lac

The Right Reverend Paul E. Lambert
Bishop Suffragan of Dallas

The Right Reverend Mark J. Lawrence
Bishop of South Carolina

The Right Reverend Edward S. Little II
Bishop of Northern Indiana

The Right Reverend William H. Love
Bishop of Albany

The Right Reverend D. Bruce MacPherson
Bishop of Western Louisiana

The Right Reverend Edward L. Salmon, Jr.
Retired Bishop of South Carolina

The Right Reverend Michael G. Smith
Bishop of North Dakota

The Right Reverend James M. Stanton
Bishop of Dallas

The Right Reverend Don A. Wimberly
Bishop of Texas

NOTE: There are four additional Diocesan bishop added to the authorized final statement that do not appear on the early draft uploaded to the All Saints Pasadena website: The Right Reverend Russell E. Jacobus, Bishop of Fond du Lac; The Right Reverend Edward S. Little II, Bishop of Northern Indiana, and The Right Reverend Michael G. Smith, Bishop of North Dakota. Two diocesan bishops who who were listed on the All Saints Pasadena website but do not appear on the final authorized statement: The Right Reverend Geralyn Wolf, Bishop of Rhode Island and The Right Reverend John C. Bauerschmidt, Bishop of Tennessee. Guess it didn't matter how to spell "Geralyn" after all.

BUT WAIT, THERE's MORE: The Rt. Rev'd Jack Iker, Bishop of the Diocese of Ft. Worth, has posted his gratitude over at StandFirm:

I very much appreciate this position paper and want to express my deep gratitude to ACI and the Communion Partners for their excellent work. It will be of great help in our response to the lawsuit brought against our diocese.

+JLI



THURSDAY UPDATE: Yet another rather humorous press release from the "Chicago Consultation," which we noted earlier has been elevated to an official delegation out of the Presiding Bishop's office to General Convention (ahead of the actual dioceses and bishops themselves, which we noted here). This is not just some outside lobbying group (it doesn't actually have very many people associated with it, especially when one compares it to the amount of people associated to the bishops and dioceses that make up the Communion Partners) - but it has direct access to the Presiding Bishop and her office.

What we see now are lines being drawn between what has actually been the traditional polity of the Episcopal Church - the parishes and dioceses - with the centralized activism now being run from the Presiding Bishop's office in Manhattan. This "press release" could not come overtly from815, and so goes through "activist" organizations such as the "Chicago Consultation."

The question I would raise here is: who is the audience for this press release? My guess is that it's the judges in the litigation and not the Communion Partners themselves. The division in TEC now appears to be between the Dioceses that want the Anglican Covenant ratified and the Dioceses and 815 that do not, for it will diminish the centralized power of 815 and return that to the local diocese and parish.

The headline is probably unintentionally hilarious. I must say, I am tiring of the phrase "saddened and dismayed," but of course our own version here in Virginia is "saddened, but not surprised." After a while these press releases start writing themselves.

CHICAGO CONSULTATION URGES COMMITMENT
TO EPISCOPAL CHURCH POLITY AND TRADITION

CHICAGO, April 23--The Chicago Consultation issued this statement from its co-convener, Ruth Meyers, in response to the recent statement of a group of bishops associated with the Anglican Communion Institute:

The Chicago Consultation is saddened and dismayed to learn that our brothers and sisters in Christ who are members of the Anglican Communion Institute seek to abandon the historical polity of the Episcopal Church and provide support to lawsuits that drain the church’s resources for mission and spirit for ministry,” said Meyers, who is professor of liturgics at Seabury-Western Theological Seminary in Evanston, Illinois, and a deputy from the Diocese of Chicago.

“The Episcopal Church was founded shortly after the American Revolution. In keeping with that democratic tradition, the Church’s constitution and canons and its historical polity provide us with both the strength and stability of the General Convention’s governing and legislative processes as well as the local ability for dioceses to discern and elect the bishops who can best serve them and make other decisions about their common life. We believe that these canons have served us well, are essential to the Church’s continued health and bind together the strongest elements of our common spiritual heritage and tradition of democracy.

“Our Anglican tradition is blessed by the ability to share common prayer and sacraments while holding different interpretations of scripture and different opinions and practices. Our diversity reflects God’s creation and allows us to proclaim the Gospel in many forms to people in many settings.

“We are especially dismayed that this attempt to undermine the Church’s governance involves leaders who have held positions on the Communion-wide body that produced the proposed Anglican Covenant. The various drafts of the Covenant have each created impediments to the full inclusion of all baptized Christians in the Communion and thereby undermine God’s gift of unity. Regrettably, we must now question the full intent of these documents.

“We pray that our brothers and sisters in the Anglican Communion Institute will return to embrace our common tradition and polity and recognize the reconciling power of the Spirit to make all things new.”

The Chicago Consultation, a group of Episcopal and Anglican bishops, clergy and lay people, supports the full inclusion of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Christians in the Episcopal Church and the worldwide Anglican Communion. We believe that our baptismal covenant requires this.

The Chicago Consultation believes that, like the church’s historic discrimination against people of color and women, excluding GLBT people from the sacramental life of the church is a sin. Through study, prayer and conversation, we seek to provide clergy and laypeople across The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion with biblical and theological perspectives that will rid the church of this sin.

ANOTHER UPDATE: In addition, the Bishop of Central Florida, John Howe, has now authorized publication of his posting on the HoB/HoD listserve yesterday in response to a challenge.
Dear Ann,

How is this a tawdry story? The Presiding Bishop has been promoting a version of the structure of The Episcopal Church which simply cannot be supported either constitutionally or historically. The Bishops who have signed today's Statement to the contrary are not willing to have the structure of our church subverted either by fiat or by court action.

We have not one iota of desire to promote schism. Our desire is to protect our constituent membership in the Anglican Communion. The Executive Council has said that the only body that can act upon the Anglican Covenant is the General Convention. We do not believe that is accurate. We believe that dioceses and even parishes could decide to "opt into" it.

Please explain to all of us how the desire of an Anglican diocese to remain Anglican is a "tawdry story."

The private emails that Mark Harris has posted do not reveal any attempt or desire to subvert the authority of the Bishop of Colorado. They envision a possible visitation that would take place only with his explicit permission and agreement.

I am saddened that a member of the Executive Council would publish emails that were not addressed to him, without even discussing them with the principals involved.

It is interesting to be called a "Cretin" by Susan Russell. To my knowledge none of us have ever used any such epithets against those with whom we disagree. (It is good to be in such an "inclusive" church!)

Warmest regards in our Lord,

The Right Rev. John W. Howe
Episcopal Bishop of Central Florida

Tip of the tinfoil to Greggy at SF.

THURSDAY NIGHT UPDATE: 815 has now responded:
Communion Partners statement challenges Episcopal Church polity

Group's conclusions draw swift criticism A statement released April 22 and signed by Episcopal bishops and clergy challenges the polity of the Episcopal Church by suggesting that dioceses are autonomous entities and independent of General Convention, the church's main legislative body.

The statement, which drew swift criticism for being an attack on the church's governance, was signed by 15 active and retired Episcopal Church bishops and endorsed by three Episcopal clergy who are members of the conservative Anglican Communion Institute. It was leaked online April 22 and officially released later the same day. It suggests that Episcopal Church dioceses are "not subject to any metropolitical power or hierarchical control" but rather "the ecclesiastical authorities in our dioceses are the Bishops and Standing Committees; no one else may act in or speak on behalf of the dioceses or of the Episcopal Church within the dioceses."

In light of their conclusions about the church's governance, the group's statement also claims that individual dioceses are constitutionally entitled to sign onto the proposed Anglican covenant, a set of principles intended to bind the Anglican Communion provinces in light of recent disagreements over human sexuality issues and theological interpretation.

"We have noted with increasing concern statements by leaders and bodies of The Episcopal Church questioning our participation in the proposed Anglican covenant and opining that dioceses may not sign the covenant if The Episcopal Church as a whole were to refrain from doing so on behalf of all its dioceses," the statement says. "Any attempt to prevent willing dioceses from signing the covenant would be unconstitutional and thereby void."

One of the statement's endorsers, the Rev. Ephraim Radner, is a member of the Covenant Design Group, the internationally representative committee that is writing and revising the covenant text.

Those who signed the statement are also members of the Communion Partners initiative, an informal association of bishops and clergy that have reiterated their commitment to "remaining faithful members of The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion."

The association has previously said it intends to provide "a visible link to the Anglican Communion" for concerned dioceses and parishes, "to provide fellowship, support and a forum for mutual concerns between bishops," and establish "a partnership to work toward the Anglican covenant and according to Windsor Principles."

While the church's public affairs office declined to comment, the group's recent statement has been challenged by those who believe its suggestions on Episcopal Church polity are flawed.

"The General Convention is superior to any given individual diocese, and establishes laws that limit what the dioceses can do," said the Rev. Tobias Haller, a member of the Brotherhood of Saint Gregory and a General Convention deputy from the Episcopal Diocese of New York, in an April 22 blog post. "The fact that this limitation comes about because of the agreement of the dioceses acting together in convention is not an indication of their individual autonomy -- as the paper suggests -- but is rather proof of their submission to the jointly taken actions of the whole body."

Haller further noted that "an individual diocese cannot even elect a bishop of its own without the consent of the rest of the church, either through General Convention, or ... by a vote of the other diocesan bishops and standing committees."

"This is what a hierarchical entity looks like: the constituents agree to be bound by the decisions of the group, even when they are in the minority, and disagree with the decisions. They relinquish their autonomy in order to be part of a larger entity, to whose decisions they submit," he adds.

An April 23 statement from the Rev. Ruth Meyers, co-convener of the Chicago Consultation, expressed dismay "that this attempt to undermine the church's governance" involves a leader who has held a position "on the communion-wide body that produced the proposed Anglican covenant. The various drafts of the covenant have each created impediments to the full inclusion of all baptized Christians in the communion and thereby undermine God's gift of unity. Regrettably, we must now question the full intent of these documents."

The Chicago Consultation, made up of Episcopal and other Anglican bishops, clergy and lay people, supports the full inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered (LGBT) Christians in the Episcopal Church and the worldwide Anglican Communion.

"We pray that our brothers and sisters in the Anglican Communion Institute will return to embrace our common tradition and polity and recognize the reconciling power of the Spirit to make all things new," said Meyers, a former professor at Seabury-Western Theological Seminary in Evanston, Illinois who will soon join the faculty at Church Divinity School of the Pacific in Berkeley, California.

IntegrityUSA, a leading advocacy organization for LGBT Episcopalians, condemned the bishops' statement as an "attempt to undermine the mission and ministry of the Episcopal Church."

"Though couched in ecclesiastical language, the statement is an entirely political document," the April 22 statement said. "It attempts to lay the foundation for an unprecedented power grab by anti-gay bishops who will assert that they are not bound by the Episcopal Church's governing body: General Convention. These bishops seek to increase their own authority, while diminishing the role of the laity and clergy in the governance of the church."

Integrity President Susan Russell said, "We have been given a look at 'the men behind the curtain' manipulating a schism driven agenda while professing to work transparently for reconciliation."

Haller said that the statement "makes the curious argument that because the dioceses [formerly states] that formed the original Episcopal Church were independent prior to entering into union with each other, they somehow maintain that independence. This neglects the significance of what union means. One might just as well say that because a couple were single before marriage, they retain their independence afterward.

"In short, the idea that dioceses are autonomous, and not part of a clearly defined hierarchy, is entirely specious," Haller adds. "That our hierarchy is not as rigid or monolithic as that of, say, the Holy Catholic Church of Rome, and has a more federal structure, in no way alters the fact that there is a central governing body, which, even if it be made up entirely of representatives of the several dioceses, is a body to which those dioceses covenant to submit themselves, without qualification."

A series of emails, leaked by Episcopal Church Executive Council member and Diocese of Delaware priest the Rev. Mark Harris, highlight a portion of the conversation in the lead up to the group's statement being released. The communication demonstrates a desire to deploy a conservative bishop to work with some members and congregations in the Diocese of Colorado, but suggests an unwillingness to accept a more progressive bishop to serve in a conservative diocese, notably South Carolina.

The Integrity statement noted that the Communion Partners initiative had originally "pledged to work transparently and in cooperation with the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church in attempting to reconcile those of differing theological views. These emails make clear that the group instead was working surreptitiously to undermine the bishop of Colorado, and seeking to set up a system of episcopal oversight controlled entirely by the Communion Partners."

The Rev. Canon Christopher Seitz, director of the Anglican Communion Institute, an endorser of the Communion Partners statement and one of the email correspondents, said in an April 22 statement: "Mr. Harris has put before the public email communications that are not addressed to him, but are fully consistent with this larger goal of maintaining the witness of the Anglican Communion and the role of The Episcopal Church as integral within that. The statement that be refers to, signed by bishops of this church, is equally fully consistent with this position on the place of The Episcopal Church within the worldwide Anglican Communion. We would request that he indicate, given his role on the Executive Council, what the justification for this publication of email correspondence not addressed to him is; and further, why he did not discuss the matter of private emails with the principals before releasing them on his blog and passing them on to his colleagues elsewhere. We request that Mr. Harris explain to the public how he obtained access to this confidential communication."

Despite its claims about Episcopal Church polity, the group reaffirms in its statement the preamble to its constitution that "identifies continuing constituent membership in the Anglican Communion as one of the fundamental conditions on which our governing agreement is based. The failure to maintain that membership would plunge The Episcopal Church into a constitutional crisis."

The statement was signed by diocesan bishops James M. Adams, Jr. of Western Kansas, Peter H. Beckwith of Springfield, John W. Howe of Central Florida, Russell E. Jacobus of Fond du Lac, Mark J. Lawrence of South Carolina, Edward S. Little II of Northern Indiana, William H. Love of Albany, Bruce MacPherson of Western Louisiana, Michael G. Smith of North Dakota, James M. Stanton of Dallas, and Don A. Wimberly of Texas; as well as Bishop Suffragan Paul E. Lambert of Dallas, Retired Bishop Edward L. Salmon, Jr. of South Carolina, Assisting Bishop William C. Frey of Rio Grande (retired bishop of Colorado); and Retired Bishop Alden M. Hathaway of Pittsburgh. The statement was also endorsed by Seitz, Radner and the Rev. Dr. Philip Turner of the Anglican Communion Institute.

Wednesday at the Cafe: A Bridge

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

New Dean of the Episcopal Divinity School: "Abortion is a blessing"

BB NOTE: I've been back and forth about posting this, it's so incredibly offensive on so many levels. The sermon is posted in its entirety below, so you can decide for yourself if she goes too far.

There are certainly places for this debate to continue - but going forward with a candidate who makes it abundantly clear that she believes that at the crux of it "abortion is a blessing" and then elevate her to the distinguished leadership position of dean for an esteemed Episcopal seminary that still continues to call itself Christian is simply wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong.

So with a word of warning in place to our readers and a few photos added to contrast her distinctly pro-abortion views (it's difficult to make the claim she is simply prochoice) and her public advocacy of the blessings of abortion - and since she's
taken it down from her own blog after the initial outcry heard even from England, here it is in its entirety:

Remarks of the Rev. Katherine Hancock Ragsdale
July 21, 2007

Well Operation Save America came, they saw, they harassed, and they annoyed; but they did not close the clinic. The clinic stayed open, no patients were turned away, and the doors never closed. We remain victorious. And that victory is a good thing – but, make no mistake, even though OSA has gone home; our work is not done.


If we were to leave this park and discover that clinic violence had become a thing of the past, never to plague us again, that would be a very good thing, indeed; but, still, our work would not be done.


If we were to find that, while we were here, Congress had acted to insure that abortion would always be legal, that would be a very good thing; but our work would not be done.


If we were suddenly to find a host of trained providers, insuring access in every city, town, village, and military base throughout the world, that would be a very good thing; but our work would not be done.


When every woman has everything she needs to make an informed, thoughtful choice, and to act upon it, we will be very close; but, still, our work will not be done.


As long as women, acting as responsible moral agents, taking responsibility for their own lives and for those who depend on them, have to contend with guilt and shame, have judgment and contempt heaped upon them, rather than the support and respect they deserve, our work is not done.


How will we know when our work is done? I suspect we’ll know it when we see it. But let me give you some sure indicators that it isn’t done yet:


- When doctors and pharmacists try to opt out of providing medical care, claiming it’s an act of conscience, our work is not done.


Let me say a bit more about that, because the religious community has long been an advocate of taking principled stands of conscience – even when such stands require civil disobedience. We’ve supported conscientious objectors, the Underground Railroad, freedom riders, sanctuary seekers, and anti-apartheid protestors. We support people who put their freedom and safety at risk for principles they believe in.


But let’s be clear, there’s a world of difference between those who engage in such civil disobedience, and pay the price, and doctors and pharmacists who insist that the rest of the world reorder itself to protect their consciences – that others pay the price for their principles.


This isn’t particularly complicated. If your conscience forbids you to carry arms, don’t join the military or become a police officer. If you have qualms about animal experimentation, think hard before choosing to go into medical research. And, if you’re not prepared to provide the full range of reproductive health care (or prescriptions) to any woman who needs it then don’t go into obstetrics and gynecology, or internal or emergency medicine, or pharmacology. Choose another field! We’ll respect your consciences when you begin to take responsibility for them.


- Here’s another sign. Did you notice the arguments that were being shouted at us in front of the clinic? They’ve been trying for years, and seem to be pushing especially hard now, to position themselves as feminists – supporters of women. You heard them – yelling that they understand that it’s all men’s fault. That men must do better at supporting women and children so that women, presumably, won’t feel the need to abort. They yelled that they understood that the women going into the clinic had been hurt by men and were reacting to that pain and betrayal. They pledged to help men be more responsible so that women wouldn’t want abortions.


Let me tell you something. Any argument that puts men alone at the center – for good or for bad -- any discussion of women’s reproductive health that ends up being all about men, is not feminism. Nor, for that matter, is it Christian, or reflective of any God I recognize. And as long as anyone can even imagine such an argument, our work is not done.


- And while we’re at it, as long as a Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States can argue, as Justice Kennedy recently did, that women are not capable of making our own informed moral decisions, that we need men to help us so that we won’t make mistakes that we later regret; as long as a Supreme Court Justice can deny the moral agency of women simply because we are women – and can do it without being laughed off the public stage forever – our work is not done. What has happened to us that he could even think he could get away with publishing such an opinion? Our work most certainly is not done.


- Finally, the last sign I want to identify relates to my fellow clergy. Too often even those who support us can be heard talking about abortion as a tragedy. Let’s be very clear about this:


When a woman finds herself pregnant due to violence and chooses an abortion, it is the violence that is the tragedy; the abortion is a blessing.


When a woman finds that the fetus she is carrying has anomalies incompatible with life, that it will not live and that she requires an abortion – often a late-term abortion – to protect her life, her health, or her fertility, it is the shattering of her hopes and dreams for that pregnancy that is the tragedy; the abortion is a blessing.


When a woman wants a child but can’t afford one because she hasn’t the education necessary for a sustainable job, or access to health care, or day care, or adequate food, it is the abysmal priorities of our nation, the lack of social supports, the absence of justice that are the tragedies; the abortion is a blessing.


And when a woman becomes pregnant within a loving, supportive, respectful relationship; has every option open to her; decides she does not wish to bear a child; and has access to a safe, affordable abortion – there is not a tragedy in sight -- only blessing.


The ability to enjoy God’s good gift of sexuality without compromising one’s education, life’s work, or ability to put to use God’s gifts and call is simply blessing.


These are the two things I want you, please, to remember – abortion is a blessing and our work is not done.


Let me hear you say it:


Abortion is a blessing and our work is not done.

Abortion is a blessing and our work is not done.

Abortion is a blessing and our work is not done.


I want to thank all of you who protect this blessing – who do this work every day: the health care providers, doctors, nurses, technicians, receptionists, who put your lives on the line to care for others (you are heroes -- in my eyes, you are saints); the escorts and the activists; the lobbyists and the clinic defenders; all of you. You’re engaged in holy work.


Thank you for allowing me to join you in that work for a few days here in Alabama. God bless you all.
From the NARAL ProChoice Texas website. Katherine Ragsdale has been named president and dean of Episcopal Divinity School. Elected by a unanimous vote of the board of trustees, Ragsdale succeeds The Right Rev. Steven Charleston who led the seminary from 1999 to 2008.

We are reminded that the Archbishop of Canterbury has made his own prolife views very clear. With that in mind and just to keep things balanced, we offer the following video as a follow-up: