Monday, December 31, 2012

Auld Lang Syne ...

What a year it has been - and what a year it may be.  It amazes me how heartbreak and hope may be juxtaposed so close to one another, so dear, so deep, for so long.

So this is for all who know such things.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Tonight at the Cafe: Get Together

Fiscal Cliff Countdown ...

Yes, yes, we do have the Redskins vs the Cowboys Sunday night here in Washington.  But the real explosions (or fizzles) await us all on Monday.  Here is the countdown - and a chance to vote!


Will the President and Congress: free polls 

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Anglican TV brings us the Nor'Easter Live

Yes, a Nor'Easter is headed for New England and AnglicanTV is on it - watch it live here:

West Granby Road, Granby, Connecticut circa 1968.
We used to see some amazing snowstorms when I was a child and we lived in Connecticut.  One morning we got up after a particularly memorable blizzard and couldn't get the front door open.  That took some shoveling.  But it was a great day for sledding!

Here is the house - of course I was about seven or eight and so my memory is that the snow was a lot taller! But it does seem to be true that we couldn't get the front door open.  We lived on West Granby Road in Granby, CT.

Monday, December 24, 2012

The weary world rejoices ...

O holy night!
The stars are brightly shining
It is the night
Of the dear Savior's birth!
Long lay the world in sin and error pining
Till he appear'd and the soul felt His worth
A thrill of hope
The weary world rejoices
For yonder breaks
A new and glorious morn!
Fall on your knees
Oh hear the angel voices
Oh night divine
Oh night when Christ was born
Oh night divine, oh night, oh night divine

Chains shall He break
For the slave is our brother
And in His name all oppression shall cease
Sweet hymns of joy
In grateful chorus raise we
Let all within us praise His holy name
Christ is the Lord, let ever ever praise Thee
Noël, Noël
Oh night, Oh night divine
Noël, Noël
Oh night, Oh night divine
Noël, Noël
Oh, oh night, oh night divine

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Tonight at the Cafe: Lift Your Hearts

A quiet evening at home.

And this:

The Loss of the Innocents

Ross Douthat writes in the New York Times:

When you live in a hectic, self-important city, it’s easy to romanticize a town like Newtown, and maybe imagine escaping there someday, children in tow. The last time we drove through was more than a year ago: it was a summer dusk, and there were families out everywhere — kids on bikes, crowds around the ice cream stand, the images of small town innocence flickering past our car windows like slides on a carousel.

Any grown-up knows that such small-town innocence is illusory, and that what looks pristine to outsiders can be as darkened by suffering as any other place where human beings live together, and alone.

But even so, the illusion has real power, not least because the dream of small-town life makes the whole universe seem somehow kinder and homier. If only a Bedford Falls or Stars Hollow or Mayberry existed somewhere, we tend to feel — in New England or Nebraska, the present or the past — then perhaps there’s some ultimate hope for the rest of us as well. Maybe the universe really was meant to be a home to humanity, and not just a blindly cruel cosmos in which a 6-year-old’s fate is significant to his parents but no more meaningful in absolute terms than the cracking of a seashell or an extinction of a star.

But if the ideal of the Good Place, the lost Eden or Arcadia, can stir up the residue of religious hopes even in hardened materialists, the reality of what transpired in the real Newtown last week — the murder in cold blood of 20 small children — can make Ivan Karamazovs out of even the devout.

Read it all here.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Anglican Global South recognizes Bishop Mark Lawrence and Diocese of South Carolina

It is interesting to note that the majority of the worldwide Anglican Communion is found in the "Global South."  The Steering Committee of the Primates of the Global South have now formally written Bishop Mark Lawrence of the Diocese of South Carolina assuring him and the diocese of their support and recognition of their Orders as Anglicans.

Pageantmaster over at T19 writes:
This is not just the statement of seven Global South Primates, but it is a statement from those Primates in their capacity of Primates serving on the Steering Committee of the Global South Provinces, and the Global South movement which bears its name. They write for and on its behalf. It includes the whole of the Global South Movement including the Gafcon Movement and the non-Gafcon Provinces of the Global South which comprise the majority of the Provinces of the Anglican Communion.
In addition Steve Noll comments as well at T19 that the primates "are using 'recognition' as the means of establishing communion among Anglican churches, in line with Orthodox practice (see also Lambeth 1930)."

While this does seem to be the trajectory, what appears to be happening now is what the Supreme Court of Virginia could not yet find two years ago when it overturned the lower court's ruling awarding all the property to the former Episcopal churches that voted to separate in 2006 and 2007. While the court was able to identify that the Episcopal Church had suffered a schism, they did not see such schism yet in the Anglican Communion (which they apparently identified as the Church rather than the denomination for the purposes of the Virginia statute - which must alarm TEC at some level, especially now that the Supreme Court refuses to revisit the lower court's ruling that the Denis Canon does not apply in Virginia).

 Here we may see more evidence of a formal rupture in the Anglican Communion not longer based on old affinities with the British Empire or current relationships in the British Commonwealth (that is, a political relationship), but one founded on doctrine.

 That much of the Commonwealth encompasses the Global South must be troubling to the Church of England. In addition, in this letter we see a coalition of primates once aligned with Rowan Williams and the Anglican Covenant and those aligned with GAFCON, in other words The Covenant coalition that the retiring Archbishop of Canterbury cobbled together has collapsed.

That being said, there still exists in the United States and Canada a strong affinity with the office of the Archbishop of Canterbury. Therefore the recent appointment of Justin Welby could prove most interesting.

Here is the statement:

Our Dear Bishop Mark,

Greetings in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ!

We, the Steering Committee of the Primates of the Global South of the Anglican Communion, were very sad to hear that the Presiding Bishop of TEC has interpreted your address to the Diocesan Convention on 17 November 2012 as a renunciation of your ordained ministry.

We want to assure you that we recognize your Episcopal orders and your legitimate Episcopal oversight of the Diocese of South Carolina within the Anglican Communion.

You and your Diocese of South Carolina are in the thoughts and prayers of all our congregations and our colleagues in the Global South.

Please be assured of our prayers and support.

May the Lord bless you!

Yours in Christ,

The Most Revd Dr. Mouneer Hanna Anis
Primate of Jerusalem and the Middle East
Bishop of Egypt with North Africa and the Horn of Africa
Chairman, Global South Primates Steering Committee

The Most Revd Nicholas Okoh
Primate of All Nigeria
Bishop of Abuja
Vice-Chariman, Global South Primates Steering Committee

The Most Revd Ian Ernest
Primate of the Indian Ocean
Bishop of Mauritius
Hon. General Secretary, Global South Primates Steering Committee

The Most Revd Datuk Bolly Lapok
Primate of South East Asia
Bishop of Kuching
Hon. General Treasurer, Global South Primates Steering Committee

The Most Revd Stephen Than Myint Oo
Primate of Myanmar
Bishop of Yangon
Member, Global South Primates Steering Committee

The Most Revd Dr. Eluid Wabukala
Primate of Kenya
Bishop of Nairobi
Member, Global South Primates Steering

The Most Revd Hector “Tito” Zavala
Primate of the Southern Cone
Bishop of Chile
Member, Global South Primates Steering Committee

Read it all here.  

Note, I linked to an earlier statement (see here) and have now updated this post with the most recent statement.  The most-recent statement is not yet up on the GlobalSouth website.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Late Night at the Cafe: Ain't Talkin'

As I walked out tonight in the mystic garden
The wounded flowers were dangling from the vines
I was passing by yon cool and crystal fountain
Someone hit me from behind
Ain't talkin', just walkin'
Through this weary world of woe
Heart burnin', still yearnin'
No one on earth would ever know
They say prayer has the power to help
So pray from the mother
In the human heart an evil spirit can dwell
I'm trying to love my neighbor and do good unto others
But oh, mother, things ain't going well
Ain't talkin', just walkin'
I'll burn that bridge before you can cross
Heart burnin', still yearnin'
They'll be no mercy for you once you've lost
Now I'm all worn down by weepin'
My eyes are filled with tears, my lips are dry
If I catch my opponents ever sleepin'
I'll just slaughter them where they lie
Ain't talkin', just walkin'
Through the world mysterious and vague
Heart burnin', still yearnin'
Walking through the cities of the plague
The whole world is filled with speculation
The whole wide world which people say is round
They will tear your mind away from contemplation
They will jump on your misfortune when you're down
Ain't talkin', just walkin'
Eatin' hog-eyed grease in hog-eyed town
Heart burnin' – still yearnin'
Someday you'll be glad to have me around
They will crush you with wealth and power
Every waking moment you could crack
I'll make the most of one last extra hour
I'll avenge my father's death then I'll step back
Ain't talkin', just walkin'
Hand me down my walkin' cane
Heart burnin', still yearnin'
Got to get you out of my miserable brain
All my loyal and much-loved companions
They approve of me and share my code
I practice a faith that's been long abandoned
Ain't no altars on this long and lonesome road
Ain't talkin', just walkin'
My mule is sick, my horse is blind
Heart burnin', still yearnin'
Thinkin' ‘bout that gal I left behind
It's bright in the heavens and the wheels are flying
Fame and honor never seem to fade
The fire's gone out but the light is never dying
Who says I can't get heavenly aid?
Ain't talkin', just walkin'
Carrying a dead man's shield
Heart burnin', still yearnin'
Walkin' with a toothache in my heel
The suffering is unending
Every nook and cranny has its tears
I'm not playing, I'm not pretending
I'm not nursing any superfluous fears
Ain't talkin', just walkin'
Walkin' ever since the other night
Heart burnin', still yearnin'
Walkin' ‘til I'm clean out of sight
As I walked out in the mystic garden
On a hot summer day, hot summer lawn
Excuse me, ma'am I beg your pardon
There's no one here, the gardener is gone
Ain't talkin', just walkin'
Up the road around the bend
Heart burnin', still yearnin'
In the last outback, at the world's end
Bob Dylan 2006

Friday, December 14, 2012

The iconic and inscrutable voice of Bob Dylan

Fascinating perspective on Bob Dylan and his voice.  

From here:
Bob Dylan's voice is at once one of the most recognizable and most polarizing sounds in Western music, simultaneously iconic and inscrutable. More even than his words, Dylan's voice is the most potent material signifier of his mercurial persona. As an early Columbia Records advertising campaign put it, "Nobody sings Dylan like Dylan." But does he even sing like himself? Over the last five decades Dylan has adopted a bewildering range of voices, from laconic dust-bowl drawl to smooth country croon, from gospel shout to guttural Delta-blues bark. What is Bob Dylan's "real voice"? And why does this problematic question seem to have such urgency in his case? This talk considers these questions by surveying Dylan's diverse voices, illustrating some of their differences through spectrographic imaging and speculating on their stylistic and physiological origins. The talk also considers the ways in which his voices act as agents of meaning and identity, bringing his celebrated words—and equally celebrated personae—to sonic presence. 
Steven Rings is Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Studies in the Department of Music at the University of Chicago. His research focuses on transformational theory, phenomenology, popular music, and questions of music and meaning. Animating all of his work is an abiding interest in the relationship between music theory and broadly humanistic inquiries into music as a cultural practice.

20 Children Among 27 Dead In Elementary School Massacre

NEWTOWN, Conn. (CBSNewYork) – Twenty children are among 27 people who were killed Friday morning after a gunman opened fire at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.
State Police Lt. Paul Vance said 18 children and 6 adults were pronounced dead at that scene. Two other children later died at the hospital.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Tonight at the Cafe: "The Rose"

The Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina responds to Presiding BIshop Schori's attempts to take over the diocese

From these three statement we learn who is the legal identity of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina, we learn the legal and corporate history of the diocese and how the presiding bishop is assuming authority she does not have (she is not an archbishop by design - she "presides" over a house not over the church as we heard over and over again at last summer's General Convention).  House of Deputies take note (oops, you're not in session - funny how that happens).

The Presiding Bishop has announced she is taking steps to visit take over the diocese in January while the Mere Anglican Conference is going on up the street, as it were.

You know what is really sad?  To see how far the Episcopal New Service has fallen.  Remember when journalists ran the shop?

From here:

The Rt. Rev. Mark J. Lawrence
14th Bishop
Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina

“They are certainly free to gather and meet, but they are not free to assume our identity. The Diocese of South Carolina has disassociated from the Episcopal Church, we’ve not ceased to exist. We continue to be the Diocese of South Carolina – also known, legally as the Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of South Carolina and as the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina, of which I remain the Bishop. We are eager to get on with the ministry of Jesus Christ to a broken world! I suggest that the Steering Committee of this new group will want to do the same. A good first step for them would be to select a new name or choose another Diocese with which to associate.”

The Rev. Canon Jim Lewis
Canon to the Ordinary
Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina

“I would like to make a point of clarification for those who think we became a new entity upon our disassociation. A brief history lesson seems in order. We were founded in 1785 (prior to the founding of the Episcopal Church). We were incorporated in 1973; adopted our current legal name, “The Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of South Carolina,” in 1987; and we disassociated from the Episcopal Church in October of 2012. We did not become a new entity upon our disassociation. A new entity will need to be created by those who choose to leave the Diocese and re-associate with the Episcopal Church.”

The Rev. Dr. Kendall S. Harmon
Canon Theologian
Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina

“They insist on what others must do yet there is no written standard to support them, and at the same time they run roughshod over their own constitution and canons. They have created a tails we win, heads you lose world where the rules are adjusted according to their desired outcomes--no wonder we dissociated from a community like that.”

Saturday, December 08, 2012

Schori prepares hostile take-over of the South Carolina diocese

Yes, it is hostile.  Sure gives new meaning to the Advent Season, doesn't it?

Read it all over at Anglican Ink.  Here's a tune to read by:

Some things just don't change in six years.

Meanwhile, this bit of satire is making the rounds out of England.  If this is the perception (and it is) anyone think England will have female bishops any time soon?  What a disaster.

Would some reasonable person please tell her to stop?

Friday, December 07, 2012

Breaking News: Church of England defends Christian Marriage as between one man and one woman

Saying that he does not want people"excluded from a great institution," The British Prime Minister declared today that he supports gay marriage in England's churches.  ""I'm in favor of gay marriage, because I'm a massive supporter of marriage, and I don't want gay people to be excluded from a great institution," he said.  

His public statement was greeted by a swift official rebuttal from the Church of England, stating "To remove from the definition of marriage this essential complementarity is to lose any social institution in which sexual difference is explicitly acknowledged. To argue that this is of no social value is to assert that men and women are simply interchangeable individuals."

Here is the statement from the Church of England:

It is important to be clear that insistence on the traditional understanding of marriage is not knee-jerk resistance to change but is based on a conviction that the consequences of change will not be beneficial for society as a whole. Our concern is for the way the meaning of marriage will change for everyone, gay or straight, if the proposals are enacted. Because we believe that the inherited understanding of marriage contributes a vast amount to the common good, our defence of that understanding is motivated by a concern for the good of all in society.

The proposition that same-sex relationships can embody crucial social virtues is not in dispute. To that extent, the Prime Minister’s claim that he supports same-sex marriage from conservative principles is readily understandable. However, the uniqueness of marriage is that it embodies the underlying, objective, distinctiveness of men and women. This distinctiveness and complementarity are seen most explicitly in the biological union of man and woman which potentially brings to the relationship the fruitfulness of procreation.

To remove from the definition of marriage this essential complementarity is to lose any social institution in which sexual difference is explicitly acknowledged. To argue that this is of no social value is to assert that men and women are simply interchangeable individuals. To change the nature of marriage for everyone will be divisive and deliver no obvious legal gains given the rights already conferred by civil partnerships.

We believe that redefining marriage to include same-sex relationships will entail a dilution in the meaning of marriage for everyone by excluding the fundamental complementarity of men and women from the social and legal definition of marriage.

Given the absence of any manifesto commitment for these proposals - and the absence of any commitment in the most recent Queen’s speech – there will need to be an overwhelming mandate from the consultation to move forward with these proposals and make them a legislative priority. In our view the Government will require an overwhelming mandate from the consultation to move forward with on these proposals and to make them a legislative priority.
Read it all here.

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Tonight at the Cafe: O Holy Night

Yes, we're still a few weeks away from that Holy night, but things as they are, it may be never be too early.

The Archbishop of Canterbury's Advent Farewell

Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, writes an Advent Letter of farewell to the primates of the Anglican Communion.  From here:
Your real life is Christ and when he appears, then you too will appear with him and share his glory!’ (Colossians 3.4)

Rowan Willaims bids farewell.
St Paul writes as though the reality of Christ’s life in his people never completely becomes visible in this life, in this world: the deepest truth of who we are in Jesus Christ is hidden.  When we try to pretend that the holiness of Jesus is triumphantly visible in the Church, we are in danger of turning our minds away from the fact that the enduring power that sustains the Church is Christ alone, not our measures of success or coherence.

But it is still true that – as Paul can say elsewhere, in II Corinthians, for example – the glory of the future can be seen from time to time in lives that are fully turned to the face of Jesus.  As we advance into Advent, we need to keep both these insights in our minds: the treasure of the gospel is in earthenware pots, yet the glory of Christ can be seen in human faces.  We have not arrived at the end of all things, but we long for it because we have seen something of its radiance and joy in the life of the Christian community and its worship and service.

In the past ten years, these things have become more and more clear to me in my involvement in the Communion’s life.  Our Communion has endured much suffering and confusion, and still lives with this in many ways; yet we are still privileged to see the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ in different ways within our common life, and so are reminded by God’s grace that it is still Christ who lives secretly at the heart of our fellowship, and renews it day by day.

Rowan Williams joins Henry Orombi and Bob Duncan at a conference.
Despite many questions about how our decisions about doctrine and mutual responsibility are made in the Communion, and some challenges to the various ‘Instruments of Communion,’ the truth is that our Communion has never been the sort of Church that looks for one central authority.  This doesn’t mean that we are not concerned with truth or holiness or consistency.  It simply acknowledges that all forms of human power and discipline can become corrupted, and that in the Church we have to have several points of reference for the organising of our common life so that none of them can go without challenge or critique from the others.  Our hope is that in this exchange we discover a more credible and lasting convergence than we should have if someone or some group alone imposed decisions – and that the fellowship that emerges is more clearly marked by Christlikeness, by that reverence for one another that the Spirit creates in believers.

Another way of saying this is that (to use the language of a great Anglican theologian of the early twentieth century, J.N. Figgis) we are a ‘community of communities’.  And perhaps in our own time we could translate this afresh and say we are a ‘network of networks.’  Certainly this language has something to recommend it in an age when, so we’re told, networks are the decisive social fact for most younger people, often networks that are maintained through the new electronic media.

Rowan Williams presided over William and Kate's wedding.
But what has brought this alive for me is the experience at two successive ACC meetings of how the official networks of the Communion function to keep our relations alive.  In our recent meeting in New Zealand, I was deeply struck by how important the networks had become, and how they were increasingly shaping the possibilities and hopes of our provinces, almost without exception.  In the work done around evangelism, healthcare, the environment, the rights and dignities of women and children and of indigenous peoples and many more areas, what drew people together was this halfway formal model of a global community of prayer and concern maintained by deep friendship and common work.  This is where you are probably most likely to see the beauty of the face of Christ in the meetings of the Communion; this is where the joyful hope of Christian believers is most strongly kindled.  And this also reminds us most forcefully of the fact that what we aspire to as Anglicans is not to be a federation of loosely connected and rather distant relatives who sometimes send Christmas cards to each other, but a true family and fellowship in which we share our hopes and know that we are responsible for each other’s well-being and integrity before God.

As I said at that meeting in New Zealand, we should never think that we are allowed to put off the work of the Kingdom until we have settled our differences and solved our problems.  God’s call to us is always for today.  Sorting out our large-scale worldwide structures, our decision making and mutual accountability, is important; but this should not give us an excuse for turning our eyes away from what is actually done by the help of God through these less formal, more relational ways of connecting us.  And the truth is that we shall never sort out the bigger questions without the humble practical work represented by the networks, and the way they build trust and love among often unlikely partners.

Rowan Williams with his wife, theologian Jane Williams.
As I leave office at the end of the year, there will of course be some self-questioning for me at the thought of much left undone and unresolved; but more importantly there is also a great sense of thanksgiving and celebration for the many moments when the hidden Christ has shown his face for an instant in the holiness, the common witness, the service or the suffering of faithful Anglicans in so many places.  In saying goodbye as Archbishop of Canterbury, I want also to say thank you to God for these moments and the friendships that surround them, and thank you also to all with whom I have had the privilege of ministering in this decade in every province of the Communion.

I thank God also that we now have as my successor such an outstanding servant of God as Bishop Justin Welby, and I know that you will hold him and his family in your prayers as he prepares to take up this ministry early in the New Year.

To all of you, as you prepare to celebrate the coming of the Lord, I wish every blessing and the ‘crown of uprightness’ promised to ‘all those who have longed for his appearing’ (II Timothy 4.8)

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Breaking News: Schori kicks another bishop out

Bishop Schori has gathered the minions and tossed another bishop out.  You can read the sorry mess here.  And please note carefully who is NOT listed as responsible for this sad state of affairs.

Meanwhile, Anglican TV has an excellent interview up with the Pièce de résistance.

Note that Tobias Haller is asking if the PB has "jumped the gun," writing, "while I believe that Mark Lawrence has abandoned the communion of the Episcopal Church, I do not think he has renounced his ministry, at least in the manner laid out by Canon III.12.7, which requires a 'written declaration' to the Presiding Bishop expressing a 'desire to be removed.' "

We are wondering here at the Cafe not only whether she has jumped the gun, indeed, but whether she has also jumped the shark.

UPDATE: Bishop Lawrence has released a letter to the Diocese of South Carolina that he has not renounced his orders, that in fact, "the Diocese of South Carolina has canonically and legally disassociated from The Episcopal Church." One wonders what the Presiding Bishop's endgame is, especially now that she is a lame duck. 

What this fiasco has been successful at doing is drawing attention away from the crisis facing the Presiding Bishop and the Episcopal Church over structural and financial reorganization directives that came out of this past summer's General Convention.  In fact, 815 put out a press release this week listing the handpicked members of the Structure Task Force.  Note the dioceses represented on the Task Force, or better yet, note the dioceses NOT included. Shhhh ... let's keep this under out hats.

From here:

“For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake.”  2 Corinthians 4:5

The Presiding Bishop called me this afternoon to inform me that she and her council of advice have “accepted my renunciation of ordained ministry.” I listened quietly, asked a question or two and then told her it was good to hear her voice. I did not feel any need to argue or rebut. It is the Presiding Bishop’s crossing of the T’s and dotting of the I’s—for their paper work, not my life. I could point out the canonical problems with what they have done contrary to the canons of The Episcopal Church but to what avail?   TEC will do what they will do regardless of canonical limitations. Those canonical problems are already well documented by others and hardly need further documentation by me. She and her advisers will say I have said what I have not said in ways that I have not said them even while they cite words from my Bishop’s Address of November 17, 2012. 

Quite simply I have not renounced my orders as a deacon, priest or bishop any more than I have abandoned the Church of Jesus Christ. As I am sure you are aware, the Diocese of South Carolina has canonically and legally disassociated from The Episcopal Church. We took this action long before today’s attempt to claim a renunciation of my orders,  thereby making it superfluous.
So we move on—onward and upward. As I write these words in the vesper light of this first Wednesday of Advent, the bells of the Cathedral of St. Luke and St. Paul ring in the steeple beside the diocesan office, and I remain the Bishop of the Diocese of South Carolina. We shall continue to preach the Good News of Jesus Christ in Word and Deed to a needy world, as well as  ourselves. We need to experience afresh its power to set us free from sin, death, guilt, shame and judgment and to transform our lives  to be like Christ’s from one degree of glory to another. As the Apostle has written: “The Lord is the Spirit and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”

I am heartened by the support of the vast majority of those within this Diocese as well as that of the majority of Anglicans around the world and that of  many in North America who have expressed in so many ways that they consider me to be an Anglican Bishop in good standing and that this Diocese of South Carolina is part of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.