Sunday, April 30, 2006

View from The Grassy Knoll

NOTE: The Diocese of Washington has decided that "The" IRD not only brought down the Iron Curtain, but is now poised to take down The Episcopal Church as well.

(See With this in mind, I thought it might be interesting to read this article, "On the Hunt for a Conspiracy Theory," by Dr. Frank Furedi, professor of sociology at the University of Kent, England, and author of "The Politics of Fear: Beyond Left and Right." Why do some people engage in developing grand conspiracy theories about others (especially just one month before General Convention)? Why would the Diocese of Washington engage in such activities?

On the hunt for a conspiracy theory

By Frank Furedi

CANTERBURY, ENGLAND - Conspiracy theory has captured the public imagination. Often we are less interested in what politicians say or do than in attempting to decipher the hidden agenda that motivates their behavior.

Every Supreme Court nomination turns into a search for the skeleton in the closet or a trace of a conspiracy. No sooner was Harriet Miers nominated before rumors suggested that President Bush used her as a fall guy whose failed nomination would make it more difficult for liberals to discredit her more conservative replacement. The president may have more than one conspiracy up his sleeve. It has been suggested that the avian flu scare is promoted by the White House to distract the nation from a messy war in Iraq. Others hint that the pharmaceutical industry is behind it to profit from an explosion of demand for flu vaccines.

Conspiracy theories are now so influential that the US State Department's website desperately tries to contain the damage these theories cause to the reputation of the United States. It recognizes that conspiracy theories have "a great appeal and are often widely believed." Indeed, the theory that American foreign policy is the outcome of a carefully elaborated secret plot concocted by a cabal of neoconservatives is widely believed both inside and outside the US. Preoccupation with conspiracies is no longer confined to the margins. Virtually every unexpected event provokes a climate of suspicion that breeds rumors and conspiracies.

After hurricane Wilma, which knocked out the power of millions of Floridians last month, rumors claimed that powerful people in the region got their power switched on before the rest. These rumors are positively benign compared to the ones unleashed by hurricane Katrina. The rumor that officials had deliberately flooded black neighborhoods in New Orleans is still believed by a significant section of the population. When director Spike Lee announced that he was making a film about the flooding of New Orleans, he stated that he wouldn't be surprised if conspiracy theories of government involvement in the flooding were confirmed.

Conspiracy theory offers an explanation of the causes and motives for otherwise inexplicable developments. Such theories are appealing because they provide us with a semblance of control over powerful forces that influence our lives. Today, acts of misfortune are frequently associated with intentional malevolent behavior. Nothing happens by accident. Human malevolence is suspected to be at work behind the death of Princess Diana in a car crash, or a sudden electrical blackout. Unexplained illnesses or a spillage of chemicals are frequently blamed on the self-serving irresponsible acts of politicians, public and business figures, doctors, scientists - indeed all professionals.

People always search for meaning. But in our confused and ever changing world we feel particularly perplexed when it comes to making sense of the problems that confront us. One of the most important ways in which an absence of meaning is experienced is the feeling that the individual is manipulated and influenced by hidden powerful forces - not just by spin-doctors, subliminal advertising, and the media, but also by powers that have no name. That is why we frequently attribute unexplained physical and psychological symptoms to unspecific forces caused by the food we eat, the water we drink, an extending variety of pollutants and substances transmitted by new technologies and other invisible processes. As a result, global warming is not simply a climatic phenomenon but an all-purpose evil that can account for a bewildering variety of destructive events.

We seem to be living in a shadowy world akin to "The Matrix" trilogy, where the issue at stake is the reality that we inhabit and who is being manipulated by whom. In previous times such attitudes mainly informed the thinking of right-wing populist movements who saw the hand of a Jewish or a Masonic or a Communist conspiracy behind major world events. Today, conspiracy theory has become mainstream and many of its most vociferous supporters are to be found in radical protest movements and among the cultural left. When Hillary Clinton warned of a "vast right-wing conspiracy," it became evident that the politics of the hidden agenda have been internalized in everyday public life. Today, the anticapitalist and antiglobalization movement is no less wedded to the politics of conspiracy than its opponents on the far right. From their perspective a vast global neoconservative conspiracy has turned into an all-purpose explanation for the many ills that afflict our times.

The simplistic worldview of conspiracy thinking helps fuel suspicion and mistrust toward the domain of politics. It displaces a critical engagement with public life with a destructive search for the hidden agenda. It distracts from the clarification of genuine differences and helps turn public life into a theater where what matters are the private lives and personal interests of mistrusted politicians. A constant search for the story behind the story distracts us from really listening to each other and seeing the world as it really is.

• Frank Furedi is professor of sociology at the University of Kent, England, and author of "The Politics of Fear: Beyond Left and Right."

Thursday, April 27, 2006

What is Rowan up to?

Lambeth Summit Underway

A ‘series of consultations’ to head off ‘schism’ in the Anglican Communion are taking place at Lambeth Palace, as the Archbishop of Canterbury considers potential fall-out from the American General Convention in June. On Monday the Archbishop met with senior bishops and representatives of mission agencies, Anglican Mainstream and the Anglican Consultative Council to discuss a range of scenarios for dealing with the crisis.

It is believed that the Archbishop is taking advice on whether he has powers to ‘disinvite’ bishops to the Lambeth Conference in 2008 or whether a series of resolutions expected to be agreed by the General Convention in June may be enough to halt the fragmentation of the Communion. At Monday’s meeting, a gathering of bishops and Archbishops including Canterbury and York, Winchester, Bristol, Durham, Exeter, Manchester, and Norwich, heard presentations from Tim Dakin of CMS, Michael Doe of USPG, Gregory Cameron and Kenneth Kearon of the Anglican Consultative Council and Chris Sugden of Anglican Mainstream.

Dr Sugden said this week, prior to his own presentation, that traditionalists and evangelicals across the world were expecting Dr Williams to follow the Windsor Report. “We’re very concerned that a fudge isn’t good enough. What we’re looking for is repentance and the rescinding of decisions of [the US] General Convention 2003.” He added: “The fabric of the Communion is torn, not that it will be torn, it is torn.” Dr Sugden’s analysis compares with an increasingly pessimistic tone from the Archbishop of Canterbury in interviews during recent months. At Spring Harvest recently he told evangelicals that he was not optimistic about the future of the Communion, but added that he was not without ‘hope’. According to The Times in March, the letter of invitation to this week’s Lambeth meeting said that the roundtable discussion concerns the ‘next critical months’ in the life of the Anglican Communion. “This is too important a set of issues to allow events to overtake us,” Lambeth’s chief of staff, Chris Smith, said in the letter.

Dr Williams has also held a meeting with the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church of the USA, who last week invited the Guardian’s religion correspondent, Stephen Bates to interview him. In the resulting article at the weekend, Bishop Griswold issued a thinly veiled warning to the Diocese of California not to elect one of the three practising homosexual candidates for its bishopric next weekend. “The diocese needs to respect the sensibilities of the larger communion. It will note what is going on in the life of the church and make a careful and wise decision,” he said. The American House of Bishops, he suggested, could withhold their consent if California elects one of the homosexual candidates. Bishop Griswold said of his meeting with Dr Williams: “We both live under stresses and strains, and it is important not to have second-hand communication, to meet face-to-face. It enables me to hear his concerns and he can hear some from me.” He said he was unrepentant about his role in Bishop Gene Robinson’s election. “To have abstained would have been meaningless and, assent to his election having been given, it would have been very odd for me not to attend his consecration.”

A Lambeth Palace spokesman said that Monday’s meeting was “one of a series of consultations in relationship to the current situation in the Anglican Church.”

–Church of England Newspaper

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Another Kind of Charge to a Vestry

Last night at the Vestry meeting, the devotion centered on the fourth chapter of Second Timothy. After we reflected on the passage, the rector said that Paul's advice to Timothy was a very good definition of the responsibilities of our Vestry:

1. Keep your head in all situations
2. Endure hardship
3. Do the work of an evangelist
4. Discharge all the duties of your ministry.

I think that just about sums it all up.

For the time will come

In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.

II Timothy 4:1-5

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Introducing is now up and running! After several months of construction both (BabyBlue's homebase) and the blog site, are now open. No more will we have to remember long strings of url addresses, you can simply go to for the main site or to for the blog. Please save these sites in your bookmarks.


Saturday, April 22, 2006

The Case for Intervention

NOTE: This was originally posted on TitusOneNine ( in response to an excellent article by Ephraim Radner. You can click on the headline above to read Radner's article, entitled "Why I am Still a Member of the Anglican Communion Network."

The General Convention in June will be the fifth that I’ve attended. General Convention, as we all know, is how the Episcopal Church actually governs.

Over the past twelve years that I’ve witness the events at General Convention, it is my opinion that there is almost what could be best described as a pattern of behavior that now has led to a massive intervention. What the Network and global friends from around the world are attempting to do, with love, is an intervention. The Episcopal Church is in form Anglican, but not in substance. Like a functioning alcoholic, the Church looks as though all is well, but underneath there are significant issues that are now tearing the Church apart.

I am reminded, then, of the process that a family goes through in making an intervention of a family member who has become an alcoholic, but in denial. We could make the case that the Episcopal Church has become addicted to substances that continue to tear the church apart from her Anglican roots causing spiritual and organizational decline. What has been happening over the past twelve years and is now coming to a head is that as a Church we are being confronted with an intervention to decide if we want to get help as a church or continue in our pattern of decline. The facts speak for themselves. The Episcopal Church is fading, she is loosing members daily, bleeding them to other churches in America or to agnosticism. The problem is severe and the presenting issue - Gene Robinson’s consecration - is a reflection of the deeper issues that have been fifty years in the making.

No one likes to be confronted with unhappy facts. For a long, long time the Episcopal Church has been able to maintain an outward appearance that all is well, has encouraged its government and its bishops to maintain this outward appearance, but now the laity and the leadership of the church are taking steps to confront this monumental problem. Is it not surprising that now, with the threat that the appearance is a really only a facade that we now have a major pushback from bishops who have been charged with maintaining that facade?

We should not be surprised, then, when those who are deeply entwined into the mechanisms of the church should now - as they start to comprehend that what we face is very very serious - begin to use every destructive method (name calling, intimidation, mud slinging, power grabbing and other forms that actually destroy the church rather than save her) that can be used.

One of the primary ways of discerning this kind of response is that often those who are being confronted with the facts accuse those doing the confrontation with their own sins. This is called “transference” and I think now, as Radner points out so well in his article, is what these diocesan bishops and other leaders in the Episcopal Church are doing. They have entered into “transference.”

So each time a bishop or Episcopal leader accuses the Network of something, it is very likely they are engaging in transference. We have to be ready, as those families who do interventions, to respond lovingly but firmly with the facts, as Radner here as done so well. It is not the Network who has caused the crisis in the Episcopal Church, but these very leaders who are now realizing how serious this situation is.

Understanding transference is also helpful for those who are being attacked to see what the bishop is actually doing. If the bishop is accusing the Network of a power grab, than it is likely that this bishop is actually engaging himself in powergrabing behavior himself or herself. Remember, the bishop is the one with the power. He cannot accuse someone else of grabbing power unless he is the one who is afraid of loosing power - so he/she will accuse others of grabbing power because that is what he/she is doing.

For years we can see that we have “enabled” the leadership of the Episcopal Church to drift further and further away from the Anglican Christianity that established the Prayer Book. We have engaged in “rescue missions” of our own, out of our love for the Church. But now that has to stop. No more rescue missions, no more enabling. Those days are over. We had own moment on August 4, 2003, to realize that rescuing and enabling was not going to work.

We also have to remember, as Radner states as well, that we are trying to see ECUSA get “sober.” The hope is redemption.

But at the same time, as families who have suffered through an alcoholic member, we have to be wise with our own resources. We don’t get in the car with someone who is not sober, we don’t give them money, and sometimes we have to move out of the house.

I have a member of my own family who had an intervention. It was a terrible moment in his life. He was successful, bright, handsome, full of the future and he nearly lost it all - he would have lost it all, except for a family intervention that confronted him with the truth. His career as he thought it would be was ruined, he had to start all over again, but he got help, he fought his way to sobriety and now he has a life that put him inside the Supreme Court a few weeks ago defending a case of national significance. He has become an extraordinary man, a real down to earth caring and compassionate leader. He was set free from the bondage he had known and today is an inspiration in my own life.

I think of him a lot these days as we go through this intervention in the Episcopal Church, remembering what he went through and what we went through as a family. It does seem as though we are at such a moment for the Church to decide whether to continue the spiral of decline or embrace spiritual sobriety

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Don't try this at home

My iPod and I are one.

Yesterday afternoon, I got in my car in the Vienna Metro parking lot and plugged my iPod into the car sound system. Then something happened and the next thing I know, I get the frowny face in the iPod window.

Now I've had my iPod freeze during an update, which caused me to go into a small panic the night before I flew to California. I had just loaded the entire sixth book of Harry Potter, read by Jim Dale, into my iPod and then it froze and I thought I'd killed it. After getting a hold of myself (because, of course, my iPod and I are one) I quickly went to the iPod site at and read through all the steps and after a couple of hours, minutes, hours, I don't know how long it was, I got the thing jump started.

So when it froze and blinked off and then blinked on and I got the frowny face I didn't panic. I've been here before, I thought. I'll go home, plug it in and jump start it and we're home free.

Alas, that was not to be.

I finally forced myself into bed at 12:30 a.m. this morning after spending hours trying to revive it, jump start it, plead with it, lay hands on it, and then nearly cry over it because, as I said, my iPod and I are one.

I thought, well, maybe it just needs to rest. I'll let it rest today and then tonight when I get home I'll try again.

Nothing. More frowny face. I could it hear something that sounded like a motor inside it trying, trying with all its might to come alive again. But I felt the worse was at hand. Sure, there are plenty of these fancy-dancy new iPods with graphics and video and photos and music and stuff. Maybe a year is all it has before it just implodes and goes to the Happy Pod in the Sky. But I must say I felt like the frowny face in the window. Poor, poor iPod.

And it's a U2 iPod. They don't make those any more. It's beat up, it's scratched, it's been tossed and turned and even smushed a few times. It is the Velveteen Rabbit of iPods. Frown.

So then what else could I do.

I did a Fonz.

I hit it.


I confess.

I hit it.

Just like Fonz use to do to play a song on the jukebox.

I hit it on the side, not once but twice.

And you know what happened.

Because my iPod and I are one.


Bob Dylan Debuts on XM May 3

Finally! After months of announcements, Bob Dylan is finally making his debut with his own radio program at XM. When I first found out that he was going to be doing this show, I had no idea what "XM" was. How do you hear it? What do you need to hear it? I combed through Best Buy, I haunted Circuit City, I patrolled through Radio Shack, I loitered in CompuCenter and even disappeared in Micro Center, trying to figure out how I could actually hear the show. Was I going to have to buy some $400 receiver? Would it have to be plugged into my car? Was that the only way?

I'd ask questions to the salesmen and they didn't know - what's XM? I felt like the lone voice crying in the desert, "Prepare Ye for Bob Dylan! He is Coming Soon!" Only I was going to miss him because I couldn't for the life of me figure out what I needed - there was no handbook, no brochure that said "Here's how you can hear Bob Dylan on XM."

Then one day, just a few weeks ago, I was sitting in Common Grounds at Truro, just browsing around online when I discovered that AOL had partnered with XM! As a faithful AOL member I all ready had the rights to listen to XM - right from my laptop or my MacMini at home! All I needed to do was to download the special AOL/XM Software and I was in business! Way Cool!

So I did and over the past few weeks I have discovered just how cool XM really is. And there's Bob, pioneering as usual. Now we get him spinning the records while we listen and learn. Bob's talked about the early years in Minnesota when he'd listen to his radio in the night when it could pick up the faraway stations. It was there, on the radio in those early years that he discovered the artists and musicians that would influence his entire musical (and personal) life. And now he's going to return the favor.

Coming, May 3 to XM Channel 40.

For more info click here:


Monday, April 17, 2006

Remembering Diane Knippers

Tomorrow is Tuesday, April 18. It has now been a year since Diane Knippers passed away. I am grateful beyond words for her life and her friendship. I cannot tell you how many times this past year I went to the phone to call Diane and then later wishing I could call her. How many times have I called out "what do I do now?" Then I have to sit and think,now what would Diane say about this? She always could keep her head, while I am just, well, far more explosive. I just don't seem to have that calm, rationale exterior. I can remember being at Gene Robinson's press conference after the Bishop's voted to affirm him as the Episcopal Bishop of New Hampshire. It was mayhem and I was nearly out my seat, but there was Diane sitting nearby and I remember looking over at her just completely amazed at how tranquil, how thoughtful she looked. How does she do that? I remember thinking, astonished. I'm ready to jump into the next county and she's just sitting there with that rather thoughtful expression on her face, as though someone had just asked her if she'd like a cup of tea.

I learned only a few minutes later what she was really doing. She was composing the IRD Press Release in her head, listening to everything Gene Robinson said and considering how she would respond. She was working not exploding. I really wanted to learn how to do that.

Perhaps it's that artistic temperament of mine, always ready for the drama - but she always knew how to handle it and not squash it, help me make it work, but of course - she had a lot of experience with artistic temperaments!

What I do know is that my life was enriched by her friendship and her wisdom and her humor. I miss her more than words can say. But as we remember the extraordinary event of Sunday - our grief is not like they who have no hope, for our hope resides in our Risen Lord Jesus Christ. Come, Lord Jesus!

Last year I wrote this piece just a day or two after Diane died that Kendall Harmon published on TitusOneNine:

Mary Ailes Says Goodbye to her Friend Diane Knippers

Farewell, Diane

Dear Diane,
You knew this day would come and were ready, just as you always were whenever there was a momentous task ahead. You were prepared. I can remember so many times in the past, whether it was General Conventions, Diocesan Councils, Vestry meetings, or even shopping at Pentagon City Mall, you were always ready, prepared, you'’d done your homework, got your team together, and met the task head on. While the rest of us might be loosing our heads, you always remained calm, thinking, considering, reflecting - and then graciously offering a way through. You did it again today. As you lived your life, you past into the hands of God today - with confidence and grace. You found the way through.

When I arrived at the hospital this afternoon - late as usual - you had just left. When I rushed into your room where you surrounded by the people you loved and who loved you, I saw that you were gone. In that moment I couldn'’t believe it. I cried and cried and cried. There was this huge hole in my heart, a huge gap and at the same time, I was astonished. You did it. You ran this race, this most incredible race, and finished it. When I looked down at you I saw it was true. You are gone, and now you a’re home.

Do you remember, what it only yesterday? I was standing near your hospital bed with your friends all around and you were awake, but it was so difficult for you to breathe and to speak. Yet I marveled at how peaceful you were. I picked up your Bible and asked the Lord if He would show a passage I could read to you, to encourage you - or what it to encourage me? I opened to Isaiah and for few moments, looked through the pages until coming to this passage, which I read aloud as we prayed over you:

The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad,
the desert shall rejoice and blossom;
like the crocus it shall blossom abundantly,
and rejoice with joy and singing.
The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it,
the majesty of Carmel and Sharon.
They shall see the glory of the Lord,
the majesty of our God.

Strengthen the weak hands,
and make firm the feeble knees.
Say to those who are of a fearful heart,
Be strong, fear not!
Behold, your God will come with vengeance,
with the recompense of God
He will come and save you.

Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened,
and the ears of the deaf unstopped;
then shall the lame man leap like a hart,
and the tongue of the dumb sing for joy.
For waters shall break forth in the wilderness,
and streams in the desert…And a highway shall be there,
and it shall be called the Holy Way.

Isaiah 35:1-6, 8

Now that I look at these words again, they have more meaning to me then when I read them to you yesterday. You have come out of the desert of your suffering and the suffering you bore for our broken church.

Now you see “the glory of the Lord, the majesty of our God."

He came and saved you today, leading you to the waters that break forth in the wilderness, with streams in the desert. You found that highway called the Holy Way.

When I arrived at the hospital today, you were all ready gone. He came and He saved you.

Yesterday, as I said farewell to you for the last time, I looked in your face. So many memories flooded into my mind and how you can to be not only my mentor, but my friend, as were to so many. We could talk about international politics, the current crisis in the Church, modern philosophy, renaissance art, as well as shop at the mall, get our nails done, and talk about my latest boyfriend. You didn'’t just teach me, you showed me how it could be done and you kept it doing it until the very last moment. I looked into face yesterday afternoon and what I saw astonished me. You had suffered so much, had never given in, you were fighting for truth to your very last breath. When I looked into your face, for the last time before you left, I saw the glory of the Lord. "Diane,"” I whispered to you in the hospital room, "His glory is all over you."”

When I arrived today you were gone. You poured so much of your life, your hopes, your dreams, your convictions into so many, so many, including me. I can'’t believe your gone - that we are left without you. But I saw today that you are gone. I will not forget you and all you did to show me the way. Though my heart is broken, I know there is more to be done. May my life be a testimony to your faith and conviction that God, our Truth is trustworthy, that He is trustworthy, even to the end. Thy Will be done, on earth, as it is in heaven. Amen.

Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened,
and the ears of the deaf unstopped;
then shall the lame man leap like a hart,
and the tongue of the dumb sing for joy.
For waters shall break forth in the wilderness,
and streams in the desert
And a highway shall be there,
and it shall be called the Holy Way.

Love, your friend,

Here are a few other remembrances of Diane from those who knew her and who's lives were touched by her.

Reflections on the Life of Diane Knippers

In the tenth chapter of Luke we find the story of the two friends of Jesus, Martha, who opened her home and busied herself in serving Him, and her sister Mary, who sat at His feet and hung on his every word. "Martha, Martha," He said, "you are anxious and troubled about many things; one thing is needful." Diane was that rare sort of disciple who served with both the diligence and energy shown by Martha, and the loving attention to her Master's every word shown by Mary. Truly she chose "the good portion, which shall not be taken away from her," and as she is gathered up to Christ, we lose a dear friend and yokefellow. Our prayers go with her and her husband Ed.

- J. Budziszewski, Chairman, IRD Board of Directors

Diane was a mentor to many, on the IRD staff, and in the broader movement of church renewal. She set an example of faithful Christian witness amidst church and political conflicts. She was firm in her conviction of God’s truth, and that firmness enabled her to show a great serenity and warmth towards others. One of her consistent emphases was the importance of nurturing a new generation of church reformers. The members of the IRD staff show the results of Diane’s wise influence. We will miss her presence among us. But I am confident that God’s grace has equipped us through Diane, and will continue to equip us to carry her work forward.

- IRD Vice President Alan Wisdom

There will be a lot said and written about Diane in the coming days -- as President of the Institute on Religion and Democracy, she was recently named as one of the nation's top 25 most influential evangelical leaders by Time magazine.

But I just knew Diane as my friend.

She so deserved that honor from Time. And I'm sure she was pleased about it. But that kind of recognition was not what Diane was about.

When I first moved to Washington D.C., straight out of college, Diane took me out to lunch. She was a busy woman, everyone in Washington is, but I do remember that she asked a lot of questions and let the lunch go long. It was the kind of lunch that you leave feeling a little chagrined that you talked too much . . . because she listened, and she cared.

That's who Diane was. She wasn't about landing in Time magazine. "The true measure of a man is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good." (Samuel Johnson) That was me--no gain for Diane. I was young, and needed a friend, and she was one. Even in a town where they say there is no such thing as a friend.
In a city marked by ambition and compromise, Diane modeled conviction, dedication to purpose and a purity of faith.

- Charmaine Yoest, Ph.D, author and syndicated columnist (

Diane Knippers was a unique voice for honesty and justice in both the controversies that divide major portions of the Christian church and critical issues, such as the horrors of Sudan, that face our nation and our world. Never strident or angry, Diane spoke the truth in love. Hers was an irenic voice in an increasingly fractious public arena. More important to me personally, she was a dear and trusted friend. I mourn her loss, for myself and for us all.

- Roberta Green Ahmanson, IRD Board Member and Chairman, Pattee Enterprises

I woke up this morning in prayer for Diane. She has now see the face of Jesus and I am sure He said to her 'Good and faithful Servant'. I feel privileged to have known her and counted her as one of my friends. She was the most articulate woman I have ever heard, and she lived her faith with boldness and gentility. I will miss her but know the Angels were there with her through her valiant struggle with cancer and welcomed her today with rejoicing for her faithful example and witness. My heart goes out to her loving, kind husband, Ed, and parents. She is a great loss to all of us. The only consolation is that we will meet again. Thank you, God, for the life of Diane and her magnificent witness in this broken world.

We will never forget her.

- Diane Stanton, wife of the Rt. Rev. James Stanton, Bishop of Dallas

Diane Knippers, president of the Institute for Religion and Democracy, died yesterday, April 18, at about 2 pm. She had fought a valiant battle against cancer these last many months, and an even more valiant--and often brilliantly successful battle--to restore the integrity of the Christian church during the last two decades. Under her gentle but always brave leadership, IRD was very often the mouse that roared, terrifying the great grey elephants of national church bureaucracies into frantic panic. Calmly, Diane told the truth, and those who had been disguising suspect politics under cloaks of outward piety had to defend themselves in public, and often couldn't. Her sweetness of disposition was a gift of God. She now returns with it intact, enhanced by her consistent acts of courage, to restore it to her Maker and Redeemer.

- Michael Novak, IRD Board Member and George Frederick Jewett Scholar, American Enterprise Institute

We praise God for Diane's stand for Christian truth and her perseverance in the battle for that truth. Her resoluteness gave encouragement to us all. We offer our prayers and sympathy to her family and friends. May they know the Lord's comfort and strength in their sorrow - and rejoice with Diane in the triumph of the resurrection.

- Dr. Philip Giddings, Convener, Anglican Mainstream UK

What a sadness. What a loss for us all. Had she lived in Israel at the time of Christ, surely she would have been one of the faithful women at the tomb, and among the first to whom the Lord's resurrection was disclosed. While the men were in hiding, trembling with fear, she would have been fearless in approaching the Roman soldiers, spices in hand, no doubt demanding that they roll away the stone so that she and her friends could accomplish what needed doing. Her unfailing witness to the Gospel was uplifting, her courage and dedication inspiring. "May angels take her by the hand, and at the gate of heaven, may the martyrs greet her. May they lead her into the holy city of Jerusalem, the holy place of God. May the choirs of angels sing in joy to welcome her, and with Lazarus, who once was poor, may she find eternal peace."

- Robert P. George, IRD Board Member and Professor of Ethics, Princeton University

We thank God upon every remembrance of Diane Knippers - whom I never met over here in the UK, but felt completely at one with - in the strength of her Christian convictions and her biblical testimony. In every generation there are those who, when the battle is hard, are called to stand in the breach and give strength and confidence to others in the fight for what is pure, holy and of good report…. and she has been one such. May her dear husband and the Christian sisters and brothers in Truro Church be aware of unseen arms of prayer and support that are reaching out to them from every quarter. She - and all who have been valiant for truth, "will rest from their labour, for their deeds will follow them" (Revelation 14:13).

- Prebendary Richard Bewes, Rector of All Souls Langham Place, London

Diane was a person gifted with enormous hope, strength of purpose, gentleness of spirit, and personal integrity. She was a shining Christian witness, most especially among those who did not share her convictions. I had the privilege of working with her in several difficult venues in the church, learned much from her, and was encouraged by her tireless self-giving to the Lord she served and to His church. We truly are diminished by her death. But her faith was always in the power and grace of God, she consistently turned us towards Him, and at this time especially what she taught us is what we are called to do. It is right and good to hear words of praise to God and thanksgiving for this fine woman; may we continue worthy of the calling we have shared with her, even as she now fulfills it in deeper unity with Christ.

- The Rev. Dr. Ephraim Radner, Episcopal priest and theologian

The Church has lost one of her most courageous and articulate defenders in our time. Church renewal was enriched by her leadership and encouraged by the hope that she carried with her until she finally went home to her Savior.

- Terry Schlossberg, IRD Board Member and Executive Director, Presbyterians Pro-Life

I just want to express my deepest sympathy to all at IRD on the loss of Diane. And what a GREAT loss it is. As I've written elsewhere, how extraordinarily well Diane acquitted herself (and represented IRD and faithful Christians) in her too-short time in this life, and how courageously she died--with her boots on, still fighting for the historic faith until the last! May she ever rest in the Lord's Light and Love.

- Auburn Traycik, Editor, The Christian Challenge

President Diane Knippers of the Institute of Religion and Democracy passed away today after a battle with cancer. Diane was fearless and courageous in her stance against those who would assault biblical orthodoxy. Diane was one of the most kindest, clearest voice in evangelicalism today. Those of us in the renewal movements in our denominations know that we not only have lost one of God's best but we have lost one of the true defenders of the faith. I had the highest respect for Diane. She will be greatly missed.

- Bill Nicoson, National Coordinator, American Baptist Evangelicals

With the sad death from cancer of Diane Knippers, many of us grieve her loss and celebrate her life at the same time. She was a faithful servant of the Lord, a great apologist of the faith, a perceptive strategist, and a grand lady, all in one. We thank the Lord for her time with us, even as we wipe tears from our eyes.

- The Rev. Canon David C. Anderson, Sr., CEO and President, American Anglican Council

Diane was a remarkable person—deeply grounded in her faith, courageous in defense of historic Christianity, always warm and caring in her relationships with others. God gave her unusual gifts and abilities; she gave them back to him and allowed him to use her as he saw fit, for his Kingdom's sake. She was a dear friend.

- Helen Rhea Stumbo, IRD Board Member and Publisher, Bristol House Ltd.

We have lost a lovely sister in Christ and a valiant leader in our Anglican witness to God’s Truth. It is difficult to overstate the fine Christian character and integrity of Diane Knippers. She was gentle yet passionate, humble yet bold, thoughtful and faithful, diligent and wise, peaceful and joyful. Tom had the privilege of working with Diane at the General Convention in 1997 in Philadelphia, when our team prevailed by only one vote. There is little doubt in our minds that the struggle for the Episcopal Church would have been lost back then, were it not for Diane’s trustworthy servant-leadership. We drew strength and hope and courage in her presence, for she was well attuned to the Source of all of our strength. She continued to serve and lead our cause, to the end.

We have lost our dear sister and noble leader in the prime of her life. It doesn’t seem right, we need her, there is so much more she could do. Our loss could tempt even the most faithful to despair, “Why, Lord, why?” But above all things, Diane trusted God. And so do we. So we pray. Heavenly Father, thank you for sharing Diane Knippers with us. We grieve and miss her, Lord. We lift up to You Ed and Doug and her whole family, and her Truro and IRD families. By Your Holy Spirit, we pray with confidence that Diane’s legacy of love and leadership will continue to inspire us to glorify You, throughout our lives. Amen.

Diane was a bright steady light in the darkness and confusion of this world. Her principled character and forthright leadership have made a lasting mark on us and in the cause of love and truth. We will remember her always and look forward to our reunion.

- Tom and Eileen Atwood, National Council for Adoption

Mrs. Knippers was a strong voice for the oppressed throughout the world and a source for inspiration for a great many of us who labor for the religiously persecuted.
Her Christian committment to truth and love in her work and personal relationships is truly unforgettable. We bereave her loss and believe that the remarkable work of the Institute on Religion and Democracy which Mrs. Knippers wisely guided will continue to bring changes in the midst of political and religious conflicts.

- Joseph K. Grieboski, President, Institute on Religion and Public Policy

I remember the first time I met Diane. It was 1982 and Ed Robb, Jr. came to my college to talk with faculty and administrators about the work of the newly formed Institute on Religion and Democracy. Ed brought along his friend and young IRD colleague, Diane Knippers. Many of my college colleagues that day expressed skepticism about the IRD, but I still remember how effective Diane was in her responses to that skepticism. Over the next twenty-three years I came to know Diane well, first as a friend with whom I shared a common world view, and then as a member of the IRD board. I firmly believe God raised-up Diane at this moment in human history to speak truth to our truth-denying culture. No one has been more effective and influential in doing so. Diane was indefatigable and unapologetic in her defense of historic Christian orthodoxy. Her commitment, courage and gentle spirit remain an inspiration to all who knew her.

- Dean C. Curry, Vice-Chairman, IRD Board of Directors, and Professor, Messiah College

My friend and colleague, Diane Knippers, was one of the first people to actively support and advocate on behalf of the persecuted church. In the days long before Christian leaders or media outliets were devoting radio and newspaper columns to religious human rights, Diane focused her passion and energy to supporting it. At one of the conferences we sponsored she argued that "we need to support our persecuted brothers and sisters not because of any attention we might receive, but because it is the right thing to do." As the idea of an International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church was originally explored, she was one of the strong supporters that helped me overcome some initial scepticism.

There are many things to be said (and I hope many people will say them) about all that Diane did--and who she was--in the many roles she played. As we worked together as Board members of the National Association of Evangelicals, she brought deep insight and perspective on the wider Body of Christ. As leaders at Truro Episcopal Church my wife, Christine, and I benefited from her wise leadership and consensus building skills. We will be eternally grateful to all our friend Diane contributed to our lives, as well as to the early stages of our children's lives (she also served as godmother for our twin boys, Joseph and John, now 17).

- Brian F. O'Connell, President, REACT Services, Founder and Former Executive Director, Religious Liberty Commission, World Evangelical Alliance

The RENEW Network’s comrade and consultant, Diane Knippers, went to be with the Lord just before 2:00 p.m. on Monday, April 18, 2005 . Our hearts are grieved with the loss that is ours, and our prayers of compassion go forth for the family and all who loved her. The RENEW Network would never have achieved what it has without Diane Knippers. Her brilliant expertise was always available to us and her love for Christ’s Church inspired us. She was a true friend. Diane expressed many times that RENEW meant a great deal to her personally. She rarely missed our retreats—and we were blessed by her presence.

Diane is with the Lord she always wanted to glorify. She is now a part of that “great cloud of witnesses” glorifying God and encouraging us to faithful perseverance. We praise God for the life of Diane Knippers and commend her to God’s precious love.

- Faye Short, President, RENEW Network

Our dear friend and colleague in renewal, Diane Knippers, died this afternoon a little before 2 p.m. She had been failing for the last several weeks and was in the midst of chemo treatments, but had weakened enough that they could not continue them. Late this morning her kidneys began to shut down and several planned procedures were canceled. Her husband, Ed, was with her, as well as her Mother and Father, Vera and Clancey LeMasters, and her brother Doug.

Diane was a giant among those in renewal ministry. How we will miss her and her clear, mature voice. Many of you would not be aware that Diane was on the staff here at Good News from 1975-1982. In 1981, when I came to be Executive Secretary, she helped me get settled in for that first year, helped me learn to write, and was such a wonderful help in so many ways. After a year, she and her husband, Ed, moved to Washington , D.C. He is a Christian artist and wanted to pursue his career there in the nation’s capitol. So, Diane has been a long-time friend and has remained close to the work of Good News and our RENEW Network, under the leadership of Faye Short in Georgia . She was United Methodist for many years, having been reared in a home in which her father was a UM clergyman. Some 15 or so years ago, she became Episcopalian, and was a member and a leader at Truro Episcopal Church in Arlington , VA. She also served on the board of the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) for a number of years. She was so widely respected across many different communions of Christ’s Church. I know we rejoice and give thanks to the Father for her faithful and fruitful life.

- Dr. James V. Heidinger, II, President, Good News

The death of Diane Knippers is a great loss to the NAE, as well as to the larger evangelical cause around the globe. She was a good friend dating back to the early 1980's when we first collaborated together on behalf of the NAE and the IRD to co-sponsor in 1985 a "Conference on International Religious Liberty," hosted by the State Department and addressed by President Ronald Reagan. Her godly wisdom made her an extraordinary leader, writer, and advocate on behalf of human rights, democracy, and religious freedom around the world. But it was her love of people and a wonderfully gracious spirit that will be missed most of all.

- Rev. Richard Cizik, Vice President for Governmental Affairs, National Association of Evangelicals

Our condolences and heartfelt loss of a dear friend. Indeed "In Christ alone."

- The Rt. Rev. Benjamin A. Kwashi, Anglican Bishop of Jos (Nigeria)

God has taken Diane away from us. The loss strikes the hearts of those who were privileged to collaborate with IRD under her outstanding leadership. Diane's loving spirit, personal integrity, sharp intellect and compassion for victims of injustice were precious qualities indeed. Diane's death is also a loss to so many unknown people in the United States and abroad whose lives have been blessed by her labor in the cause of freedom and human rights. Diane is gone, but her spiritual legacy lives on, and will continue to inspire all those striving for a Christian renaissance.

- Dr. John Eibner, Christian Solidarity International

In the Orthodox tradition we say about those who have passed, "May her memory be eternal." Diane was a valiant fighter for the truth that must have been drawn from a deep faith in God. Nothing else would explain her courage, clarity and conviction.

- Fr. Johannes Jacobse, Editor,

I got up this morning and prayed for Diane after I read about her sudden death. It was shocking news to me and my fellow Sudanese and Kenyan friends who have read several of her writings in defense of the Gospel of Christ. I feel honored to have known her and considered her as one of my friends in the Lord.

I had the privilege of meeting Diane at Truro Church when I first came to Washington D.C. in 2004 from Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya; Tory Matthew of Five Talents couldn't wait long after that Sunday morning service to introduce me to her. I could recall Diane coming forth willingly, stretching out her hand to greet me with great eagerness. " John, we have heard and have seen enough about Sudanese suffering for their faith and we have no choice as Christians in the USA but to stand with you in prayers". It didn't take me long during my short visit to understand much about her heart for Sudanese Christians as Faith McDonnell of IRD frequently invited me to IRD office.

Diane strongly voiced out for the freedom of Christians in Sudan and she was a clear voice for the south Sudanese Christians. She never hesitated to come out clearly for the cry of the Sudanese people and other persecuted Churches. Her stand to battle for the persecuted churches was odd and evidently well known; I remembered her coming forth clearly in support of ending genocide and human right violations in Darfur. She was one of the great friends who was very optimistic in support of initiatives that would enhance rebuilding of the war devastated Sudanese Christians. I can attest to her strong will to help root the Sudanese Christians in their faith. Diane will not be missed only by the American Church but internationally. I honor God for Diane's position in the Word and her consistence in fighting for that truth of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Indeed, She has shown a very distinctive example of being a faithful follower of Christ in this hard time for church and political inconsistency. We will never forget her. Our Church has lost one of her most brave and sound warden in this time of great need. Therefore; on behalf of entire Sudanese Christians at Kakuma refugee camp, the team of Good Shepherd Leadership Training program, the new Sudan Christian newspaper and the entire Episcopal Diocese of Bor, I just want to express my deepest sympathy to her loving husband, parents, relatives, the IRD staff, and Truro Church on the loss of Diane. My heart goes out for you all and my prayers are with you at this tough time. Diane is a great loss to all of us but our hope is that we shall meet again in the Lord.

- Rev. John C. Daau, Director, Good Shepherd Leadership Training Program, and Editor, The New Sudan Christian newspaper

The Church of Jesus Christ here on earth lost one of its truly faithful women today with the passing of Diane Knippers, President of the Institute on Religion and Democracy in Washington,DC, and long time member of Truro Church, Fairfax, Virginia.

I first got to know Diane in the early 1990s, when she was the new leader of the IRD and invited me to participate in a consultation put on by the Institute. She impressed me then, and I remained constantly impressed by the manner in which she thought strategically about the way in which the Gospel relates to the world, and her passion for the renewal of the mainline churches.

Diane was raised a Methodist but became an Anglican of deep conviction.

As I think about her now I remember occasion after occasion when she stood for the truth in difficult situations with love, grace, and dignity. I was always impressed by her strength and the way that it blended with a gentle spirit, a razor-sharp mind, and a breathtaking femininity.

I learned of my father's sudden death at the General Convention in Philadelphia in July 1997, and while Diane was immensely busy on that day her kind words as I left to go and bury my dad meant much to me.
Now she herself has gone to her heavenly reward, and American Anglicanism is poorer with her passing. She had battled cancer for several years, but from the clues that I have received here in Tennessee, it would seem that she died more rapidly than anyone had expected.

Our prayers this day are for her husband, Ed, and other friends, and family. Diane will be mourned by many and missed by thousands, but now stands whole in the presence of the Lord she has served with such faithfulness.

- The Rev. Richard Kew, Author and Anglican Priest

Diane Knippers was one of the most remarkable women I have known. She was a champion of the movement for religious freedom and church renewal. She was also a treasured friend. Diane possessed a combination of qualities – talents, virtues and qualities of character – rarely found in one person.

Those who knew Diane readily understood why Time magazine recently named her one of America’s top 25 evangelical leaders. Her leadership was perfectly suited for this time of cultural upheaval and ideological division. Diane was a woman of vision and strong principle. A formidable advocate, she was intelligent, articulate, and broadly educated. She was also a skillful diplomat – reasonable, prudent and open-minded. Diane was self-confident, yet humble. In her relations with others, she was remarkably warm-hearted and empathetic. She respected the dignity and humanity of both her allies and her opponents, and they respected her integrity.

To all these qualities, Diane added a skill not often found in those who are “good with words.” She was an outstanding administrator and organizer, and she became a top-notch fund-raiser. Under her leadership, IRD grew to be a leader in the domestic church renewal movement. Because Diane was an excellent judge of people, she always seemed to find roles for her staff members that played on and developed their strengths. She was beloved by IRD’s staff, and profoundly respected by its board of directors.

No one can fill the hole that Diane has left. But her legacy will inspire us for years to come. It will take years to follow up on the trail that she has helped to blaze, and to bring to fruition the plans she has laid. I know that in my times of trial, I will keep her example before me – an example of strength, joy, wisdom, courage, patience, generosity, loving-kindness and purity of heart; an example of faith, hope and charity.

- Kathy Kersten, syndicated columnist and former IRD board member

On behalf of SPADE Organization, The Sudanese commuity in Washington metro area, as well as Sudanese all over the United States and in Sudan, I pass my condolences to a great leader, a champion of religious freedom and justice - the late Diane Knippers. IRD has contributed a monumental gift to especially Southern Sudanese and Sudan as a whole to play a big role in changing the status-quo in the country to the current comprehensive peace. Diane Knippers was a great guiding light for us and may the Lord Jesus Christ rest her soul in peace. In Jesus Christ's name I pray, amen.

- Deng Deng Nhial, Director, Sudan Peace Association for Development and Education

Now this writing is interrupted by the sad news that Diane Knippers has died. The cancer seemed to be in remission this past year or so, and then came back with a vengeance. Diane was the formidable head of the Institute on Religion and Democracy, based in Washington, which I had a hand in launching in 1981.

The Institute on Religion and Democracy played a powerful role in contending for a recovery of an approximation of orthodoxy in the mainline/oldline liberal churches of American Protestantism. Some thought it a futile effort, but no fair-minded person denied its nobility.

The connection with what is happening here may not be obvious to everyone, but Diane and the Institute on Religion and Democracy are of a piece with the conservative insurgencies that have brought us so far from where the Christian communities were twenty and thirty years ago. Then and on every front liberalism seemed to be on a roll. Among Catholics, the revolution mandated by "the spirit of Vatican II" appeared to be unstoppable.

- Richard John Neuhaus, IRD board member, and Editor-in-Chief, First Things

This was a reflection by Charmaine Yoest after Diane's funeral.

Farewell to a Friend: Diane Knippers

This afternoon, on a grey and rainy day, several hundred people gathered at Truro Episcopal Church in Fairfax, Virginia to say farewell to our friend, Diane Knippers. Her husband, Ed, is an artist, and one of his remarkable paintings graced the cover of the bulletins handed out at the sanctuary entry. This one was of Jesus, hanging on the cross; underneath, it read, "By his wounds we are healed." Isaiah 53:56

As we sat waiting the beginning of the service, the storm clouds were clearly building outside the windows. How appropriate I thought. A grey day. A sad day.

Even so, the bulletin was entitled, "Celebration of a Life," and indeed it was. It was such a day of sorrow -- losing someone like Diane so young; she was only 53 -- but the service was so beautiful, and God was so very present, that it was, in a way, Diane's last gift to those of us privileged to have known her and to have been there today.

While Ed's beautiful painting set the tone of worship, the text inside the cover reminded us that Jesus weeps with us when we grieve:

The liturgy for the dead is an Easter liturgy. It finds all its meaning in the resurrection. Because Jesus was raised from the dead, we, too, shall be raised.
The liturgy, therefore, is characterized by joy, in the certainty that "neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord."

This joy, however, does not make human grief unchristian. The very love we have for each other in Christ brings deep sorrow when we are parted by death. Jesus himself wept at the grave of his friend. So while we rejoice that one we love has entered into the nearer presence of our Lord, we sorrow in sympathy with those who mourn. Because Jesus was raised from the dead, we, too, shall be raised.

As Dan Snyder, a tenor, sang the gorgeous "The Holy City" ("Jerusalem! Jerusalem! Lift up your gates and sing,
Hosanna in the highest! Hosanna to your King!"), followed by the stately chords of "How Firm a Foundation," I felt the traditions of my faith, and the shared rituals of worship, drawing me close in community to a place of comfort.

And, then, as Helen Rhea Stumbo read, with breaking voice, Lamentations 3:22-26 and 31-33, more importantly, I was drawn to the reassurance that, yes, my Redeemer liveth:

Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, "The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him." The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord. For men are not cast off by the Lord forever. Though he brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love. For he does not willingly bring affliction or grief to the children of men.
We lose something of great, and irreplaceable, value, when we too carelessly throw over the traditions and rituals that guide and sustain us, both in times of sorrow and in joy. When the organ rolled into "Crown Him With Many Crowns," my memory was crowded with the remembered voices of my grandparents leading our extended family in singing hymns, my grandmother at the piano, my grandfather belting out his deep, resonant baritone, standing at her side, aunts and uncles around the room, children scattered around the floor.

Outside the sanctuary the rain was building. The service moved on. The Reverend Canon Martyn Minns gave a homily, reminding us of Diane's dedication to the work God had called her to do. She was a sinner, he said. But a sister, a saint, and a soldier too. He recalled that in the military, when a standard-bearer falls, someone must pick it up. He challenged us to stand if we were willing -- and breaking from the prepared program, led us in singing "Onward Christian Soldiers."

So wonderfully politically incorrect. No one sings that hymn anymore! It was the perfect way to memorialize a woman who fought slavery and atrocities in the Sudan and human rights abuses in China. . .

Episcopalians serve communion at funerals -- one by one, people of all different denominations filed forward, in a holy sacrament that binds us together as an extended family of faith.

Finally, the service began drawing to a close, and Reverend Minns rose for the final prayer:

"Into your hands, O merciful Savior, we commend your servant, Diane." he began. "Acknowledge, we humbly beseech you, a sheep of your own fold . . .

BA - BOOM. . .
God answered. Outside the storm had built to a crescendo. Thunder crashed in a powerful rumble.

". . . a lamb of your own flock, a sinner of your own redeeming. Receive her into the arms of your mercy, into the blessed rest of everlasting peace, and into the glorious company of the saints in light. Amen."


Sunday, April 16, 2006

He is Risen!

One of my favorite scenes in the scriptures is that moment when Mary Magdalene comes to the tomb of Jesus. She comes with certain - and absolutely reasonable - expectations. She has just gone through the most horrific experience of her life, to see her Lord arrested, tortured and crucified. She must have been an incredibly strong woman for she never left the foot of the cross but remained all through his agony, all through his suffering, and through his death.

The rest of the disciples had fled, except for John. After Jesus died they had hidden in the Upper Room, devastated by failure and paralyzed by fear. Mary waited until the end of the Passover and in the wee hours of Sunday morning, went to her last act of devotion and love for her Lord, to prepare His body for a decent burial. She had not been able to do this when Jesus had been taken off the cross, for it was close to sunset and Passover was not yet over. She had to wait through that agonizing Saturday, perhaps reliving over and over again all the things she had witnessed. Was she with the rest of the disciples or had she gone somewhere else, perhaps with Mary, the mother of Jesus, to console one another in their grief. Since Jesus had charged John with looking after his mother, it would make sense that Jesus' mother was with John and that Mary Magdalene was with Mary.

But at some point as the sun rose on the new day, Mary had gone to the tomb to prepare Jesus' body for burial. She must have been preparing herself for this, a custom amongst her people. She was distraught, grief-stricken, and shocked - but nothing would stand in her way from what she expected of herself, in these final hours to show one more time her love for her Lord.

And so she approaches the tomb when she realizes that the large stone would block her entrance and she would need help in rolling the stone away. Who would help her? Perhaps she had asked the disciples to come with her, but they had been slow to respond - and so she had gone alone, struggling to think through how she would be able to enter the tomb when a stone too heavy for her to move blocking her way.

She approaches the tomb and stops, stunned. The stone has been rolled away. She is again horrified - it was worse than anything she could have imagined. Enemies had come in the night and stolen Jesus' body. She sees what she takes to be gardeners working and screams at them to tell her where they have taken her Lord, but they just smile and tell her "He's not here."

Of course He's not here, and begs them to tell her where He is so she can go and get Him herself. Finally she throws herself into the tomb and sees the empty grave clothes, grave clothes she had prepared for Him in haste on Friday. But He is no where and she is horrified and overwhelmed with despair.

"What are you looking for?" she hears a man say to her, a man who stands at the door of the tomb. Thinking it is one of the gardeners, she cries out to Him, "They have taken him away and I don't know where they put him!" She looked at the man standing there, in despair and fear.

"Woman," the man said, "why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?"

Mary looked at the man she thought to be the gardener who had come to the tomb. "Sir, please, tell me where you've put him, please tell where you put him and I will go get him."

Jesus said to her, "Mary."

This is the moment that always reduces me to tears. Jesus calls her by name and when he does she turns to him and immediately recognizes him. She cries out to him, Robboni! Teacher.

We can assume that she throws herself on him, holding on to Him. I know I would. I've just watched him suffer, die, and perhaps be taken from His own grave - and now here He is, alive! Alive! I would certainly hold on to Him and not let go.

Jesus response is so wonderful. He assures her He's not going anywhere at the moment when he tells her to let go, that He's not yet returned to the Father. Immediately He gives her instructions - not to hold on to Him for He will not abandon her, but to go and tell the disciples that He is risen - that death has not destroyed Him.

And so Mary is the first witness, the first evangelist, the first person charged by Jesus Christ to proclaim the good news, that Jesus is Risen!

Have we been with Mary in the tomb and in that moment of despair, of loss, of unmet expectations? Do we know that moment when we see for ourselves that He is risen? Do we then find the power of the resurrection, of His Resurrection, and the mission of our life when that power is known - to share the Good News to all who will hear?

Today is the Day.
Christ is Risen!
Christ is Risen!
Christ is Risen!

Or as Mr. Dylan wrote:

When He rose from the dead, did they believe?
When He rose from the dead, did they believe?
He said, "All power is given to Me in heaven and on earth."
Did they know right then and there what that power was worth?
When He rose from the dead, did they believe?
When He rose from the dead, did they believe?


Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Want to see something really scary?

CousinPooh (CP) and I thought it'd be fun to have a "Cousins Night Out" and so we went to be pampered at a Pink Cadillac People (PCP) Makeover. Makeover it was.

To the bat cave! This was one scary night!

We met at the Courthouse Marriott where Ladies in Red Coats and Ladies in Gray Coats arrived with lots and lots of "flair" (see Office Space, the Movie). I wasn't sure if the point of the Pink Cadillac People was to wear as much flair as possible or sell lipstick.

I decided it was the flair.

It started off without much to fear, we sat at tables with our mirrors and our little dabs of this, little dabs of that (not too much), listened to how everything is made, and then mashed it all over our faces in time to march into the Tuesday Night Meeting of the Red Coats and Gray Coats to a boom box blasting "Money! Money!" Watched a little old lady get a tiara and a sash, more smiles, more nods, more Red Coats and Gray Coats and teeth and that vague look like these were actually pod people from the Invasion of the Body Snatchers. They looked like people you might see down at the Safeway, throwing the meat into the shopping cart with the twinkies and Ritz crackers and cans of Alpo, but on closer glance, there was that vague look of pod people. In fact, they reminded me of Anne Rice and her vampires, out sucking the blood from unsuspecting cousins looking for a night of pampering.

What we really needed were pampers.

Then came the sell, and more sell, and more "Money! Money!" and dizzy clapping, the vague pod people in Gray Coats, the vampires in Red Coats swirling durvishly with coupons and raffle tickets.

I answered all my "no" questions "yes," just to be, well, me. Yes, I love my job! Yes, I am paid more than I'm worth! Yes, I have more vacation than I know what to do with! Yes, I can work whenever I feel like! Yes, Yes, Yes! I am woman, hear me roar!

They looked at me with pity, that knowing look of Ladies in Red and Ladies in Gray who've seen my kind before, who dares to put up quite a front, silly girl, and then they know will turn in the $10,000 profit in the first month and be driving the pink caddie by July. They'll get that little tiara on my head before the spring's over and I'll be weeping and singing "Money! Money!" and they'll smile with that knowing look and nod, they've seen it all before.

I gave them back their raffle tickets, knowing I'd blown the free lipstick.

But they gave me the free lipstick anyway, vaguely, sweetly, drifting into the shadows in their red and gray and driving away in their pink.

After all, they just want to sell me some lipstick. Nothing more.

CousinPooh got Round Two today - thought she was buying eye shadow but got a PCP CD instead and promises of a Red Coat of her own.

Pass the pampers, please.

And to think, all we really wanted was some pampering and some lipstick.

Now all I can see is CousinPooh and BabyBlue racing around the Beltway in our Pink Cadillacs.


Rethink the Pink?

By Aleksandra Todorova

QUESTION: A Mary Kay representative told me that if I became a rep, I could deduct the cost of my skin-care and cosmetics products from my taxes because I'd be running my own business. She assured me that Mary Kay isn't a pyramid scheme. Is this true?

ANSWER: You're smart to consider such offers carefully before diving in. Yes, people can make money through multilevel marketing companies like Mary Kay Cosmetics. But it's important to understand the business model before loading up on those lipsticks and lotions. Mary Kay Cosmetics, established in 1963, presents itself as an opportunity for women — many of them stay-at-home wives — to earn income. Today it's the second-largest direct seller of beauty products in the United States, surpassed only by Avon Products (AVP1).

Mary Kay sales reps, called "independent beauty consultants," sell door-to-door, at parties, and directly to friends and family. Mary Kay products aren't available in retail stores or on the company's web site.

Consultants buy their inventory from Mary Kay, and sell the products at roughly twice the price. Mary Kay will buy back unsold inventory for 90% of what the consultant paid for it. But shipping fees and sales tax aren't refunded.

There's another way to earn income from Mary Kay: by recruiting new consultants. Recruiters earn a percentage of each inventory purchase made by the consultants they have recruited. And when recruits start assembling teams of their own, the first recruiter makes a commission on the inventories purchased by the recruits' recruits, and so on.

Sounds like a pyramid scheme, you say? According to the Federal Trade Commission, a pyramid scheme is a multilevel marketing plan in which the main way of earning money is by recruiting new distributors of a product. The best way to tell if a multilevel marketing company is a pyramid scheme is to find out how most of its sales reps make money — by selling the product to end customers or by bringing in fresh recruits, says Robert FitzPatrick, president of Pyramid Scheme Alert, a consumer organization, and author of "False Profits." (For more on this, read this FTC article2.)

FitzPatrick has studied plenty of multilevel-marketing business models, including that of Mary Kay. "I wish I had a good black and white answer for Mary Kay," he says. "What we find is that elements of Mary Kay are operating like a pyramid scheme and elements are operating like a direct sales company, a legitimate business."

The majority of Mary Kay products are eventually sold to customers, FitzPatrick says. But during the past few years, there's been a noticeable shift in focus from selling to recruiting.

BB NOTE TO SELF: Next time, bring the pampers.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Time for a Silent Watch?

The more I think about this "report" from the "special commission" the more I think it may be wise just to keep watch - and stay silent. There is something about this report that is like a bait, promising everything. Isn't that rather disingenuous - especially after the leaders of the church were proclaiming not so long ago that this was a prophetic decision for the Episcopal Church? Why now all these promises? The report promises everything, like a bait and switch. How does a church go from prophetic proclamations to making such disingenuous promises? It just doesn't ring true. So, we stay silent, we keep watch, and we wait.


Saturday, April 08, 2006

Episcopal Special Commission issues their report

The Speciall Commission on the Episcopal Church released their report on how the Episcopal Church, after "recent developments," could maintain "the highest degree of communion possible." I will be writing about this later this afternoon - right now I am off to do worship for a Eucharist for the Diocese of Virginia Spring Assembly of the Daughters of the King.

The Processional Hymn will be Charles Wesley's "Love Divine, All Loves Excelling." The final stanza is a prayer:

Finish, then, thy new creation
pure, and spotless let us be,
let us see thy great salvation
perfectly restored in thee.


Thursday, April 06, 2006

It take a lot to laugh, it takes a train to cry

Three days. Three days it's been. PinkiCam arrived from BestBuyOnline on Monday. I wasn't on the train for five minutes before I had unpacked PinkiCam and had started to figure it out. Got home, very excited - and then discovered that PinkiCam is Windows based. My inner-SteveJobs sunk into despair.

Three days later, I can now create Video Podcasts and have created my first one - very quickly, just to see if I could do it. It meant purchasing a download for Quicktime, converting the file into another file, importing the file into PowerPoint, creating a movie in PowerPoint, importing that video into iMovie, creating another movie, exporting that video to iWeb and - it's online.

I lost the audio along the way so created a unique soundtrack (Correlli and a Windstorm). So now we have two new production companies - BabyBlueCafe Productions and my old friend, BlueberryPie Unlimited.

What is it with this blue thing?


Wednesday, April 05, 2006

It takes a lot to laugh, it takes a train to cry

Well, I ride on a mailtrain, baby,
Can't buy a thrill.
Well, I've been up all night, baby,
Leanin' on the window sill.

Dylan 1965

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Come, Holy Spirit

April 2, 2006
Temp: 62º

A Prayer of Blessing before U2 embarked on their Elevation Tour.

Click on link above (Come, Holy Spirit) to download Jack Heaslip's prayer for U2. Awesome.

I wanna go
To the foot of the messiah
To the foot of he who made me see
To the side of a hill
Where we were still

We're gonna be there again
Jerusalem Jerusalem




April 2, 2006
Temp: 60º

Yesterday The Rt. Rev. Dr. Michael Nazir-Ali, Bishop of Rochester (England) dropped by Common Grounds at Truro for an informal conversation about issues facing the church. It was very last minute - Bishop Michael was lecturing at Georgetown University in Washington, but had a few hours before he caught his plane back to London. Harry sent out a T-mail inviting anyone who wanted to drop into Common Grounds to gather with Bishop Michael for the discussion. In particular, Bishop Michael, born in Pakistan and a convert from Islam, talked about relationships between Muslims and Christians, but he also talked about the current crisis in the Anglican Communion as we prepare for General Convention in June.

I did my first experiment with recording the discussion as a podcast. I learned a lot!

#1 When your alarm goes off at 5:30 a.m. on a Saturday morning (which is the usual wake up time), do not just shut it off but reset it.

#2 Arrive at the site an hour earlier for setup and testing (see #1).

#3 Make sure the iSight mic is working over the internal mic, especially in crowded rooms.

#4 Sit near to the main speaker so that he doesn't sound like he's lost in a train station.

#5 Figure out how to do markers during the discussion for easy referral during editing.

#6 Remember that there will be editing.

#7 Remember that Garage Band allows for an hour of taping.

#8 Have back-up iPod with iTalk ready in case discussion goes over an hour.

#9 Do not rustle papers or chuckle during recording - even if presenter gives you papers or makes you laugh.

#10 Consider gathering around tables to bring everyone closer together, like in a cafe.

Bishop Michael is just positively brilliant. He was able to make the scriptural case in favor of women's ordination in fifteen minutes and then dismantle the case to ordain or consecrate those who are unmarried and not celibate in five, making a clear case about why the two are not the same. It was stunning - and he did it graciously. His comprehension of not only the width and breath of Scripture but his understand of church history and the place for revelation was stunning. He's also has an ironic wit, which is quite disarming.

A highlight for me was how he characterized our current crisis as one about revelation (which is different from how it is usually characterized as being about the authority of scripture). I found that quite compelling - how do we discern revelation in the church? It is clear that the Christian faith is a living faith which finds its identity not in the law but in the risen Lord Jesus Christ. This means that our faith is personal - not private - but personal, which means the Holy Spirit is speaking. Bishop Michael said that the Holy Spirit does not contradict Himself but aligns Himself with Christ - and so He will not contradict Scripture. The Gospel of John, he said, makes this very clear. If God is a new thing, He will not contradict what He has all ready done and said. The Scriptures are quite clear about what it means to live a holy life, as well as what the sacrament of marriage means not only to men and women, but as the primary illustration of God's relationship to His people.

After the discussion, about ten of us gathered over at Artie's for lunch. It was a sobering discussion as we talked about the relationship between the COE leadership and evangelicals in England. It was clear that the crisis we face in the Episcopal Church in the US is matched by similar issues facing the Church of England.

But one of the major points Bishop Michael made - and one that gave me much hope - is to see what it may be that God is doing in a larger picture. While we may be feeling alienated by the denominations we belong to, a realignment of historical proportions seems to be underway as Protestants, Evangelical and Anglo-Catholic Anglicans, Roman Catholics, and the Eastern Orthodox forge relationships of common mission in the historic understanding of Christianity. Bishop Michael described attending Pope John Paul I's funeral and being struck by the sermon as being extraordinarily evangelical - in fact, he said, that sermon would not be given in the Church of England. The official representative from the Billy Graham organization was sitting near Bishop Michael and whispered that he wondered if there would be an altar call. The picture Bishop Michael painted of such unity of purpose on the grounds of the Vatican is quite extraordinary. Even as relations have deteriorated in the official channels between the different branches of Christianity due to the long march of revisionism, unofficially the bonds are being strengthened with those who hold fast to the Gospel of Jesus Christ as revealed in the scriptures.