Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Truth in the Emerging Church

Emerging Confusion: Jesus is the truth whether we experience him or not.
by Charles Colson with Anne Morse

Distressed about my widely circulated exchanges with an "emerging church" leader, a young theologian confronted me after a conference. He urged me to try to understand them. "You might be surprised by how much you agree on," he said.

Maybe I had been too harsh. After all, the theologian—we'll call him Jim—argued that emerging church leaders are trying to translate the gospel for a postmodern generation. That's a commendable goal, I agreed. Though in their effort to reach postmoderns—who question the existence and knowability of truth—I expressed fear that they are coming dangerously close to teaching that objective truth does not exist.

A lengthy e-mail exchange with Jim followed. In defense of emerging church leaders, he insisted that truth is paradoxical, simultaneously personal and propositional. It is objectively true that Jesus Christ is Lord no matter what anyone thinks, Jim wrote. But, he added, "Propositional truth is not the highest truth. Indeed, the highest truth is personal."

Like all statements that can lead us into error, those have the ring of truth. Of course, truth becomes relational when we come to Jesus, Truth himself. But our doing that isn't what makes it true. He is the truth whether or not we ever experience him. Scripture is never less than revealed propositional truth.

Jim argued that one prominent emerging church leader won't say this for fear that the greater points he's trying to make won't be heard. Okay, I conceded, his motives may be good, but his position can lead people to think that truth depends on experience or comprehension.

Jim continued to plead for my understanding. Emerging church leaders are only seeking to challenge the church to go beyond static orthodoxy. Good, I replied—but what's new? I've been trying to get people out of pews to live their faith in prisons for 30 years.

Fearful that I was being influenced by stereotypes, I asked my associate Anne Morse to visit a leading emerging church. The service was a bit unsettling to a traditionalist, she reported, with no Bibles or hymnals in sight. During the service, congregants were free to engage in activities at various "stations" of the building: praying, journaling, or tithing. The pastor, who lacks formal seminary training, offered not a sermon, but the story of his decision to "follow Jesus."

But style is not really the issue. I've worshiped all over the world, in former prison torture chambers, under jungle overgrowth in Sri Lanka, and in homes of persecuted believers. And I recognize that the emerging church is trying to engage the postmodern mindset as Paul did at Mars Hill, picking up on Athenian cultural artifacts. Once he did that, however, Paul also taught them why they were wrong. He didn't sanctify the altar to the unknown god or say that pagans have things to teach us, as at least one emerging church leader does (when, for example, he says Buddhists have things to teach Christians about meditation).

The e-mails kept coming back to that one stubborn question: What is truth? While I now have increased sympathy for what emerging leaders are trying to accomplish, I still believe some have wrongly diagnosed the church—believing evangelicals are wedded to dry, dusty doctrine, the curse of modernity.

I only wish that were the problem. My experience is that most mainstream evangelicals are so steeped in the experiential gospel that they never think about truth propositionally. (Barna found while 63 percent of Americans do not believe in truth, 53 percent of evangelicals don't either.)

The arguments of some emerging church leaders, I fear, draw us perilously close to the trap set by postmodern deconstructionist Stanley Fish. Defending himself after his sympathetic statements about the 9/11 terrorists boomeranged, Fish claimed that postmodernists don't really deny the existence of truth. He said there is simply no "independent standard of objectivity." So truth can't be proved to others; therefore, it can't be known—a verbal sleight of hand.

For evangelicalism (let alone emerging churches) to buy into that would undermine the very foundation of our faith. Theologian Donald A. Carson puts his finger precisely on the epistemological problem: Of course, truth is relational, Carson writes. But before it can be relational, it has to be understood as objective. Truth is truth. It is, in short, ultimate reality. Fortunately, Jim came to see this.

The emerging church can offer a healthy corrective if it encourages us to more winsomely draw postmodern seekers to Christ wherever we find them—including coffee houses and pubs. And yes, worship styles need to be more inviting, and the strength of relationship and community experienced. But these must not deter us from making a solid apologetic defense of the knowability of truth.

From Christianity Today, June 2006

Oswald Chambers Strikes Again

Reading from the Oswald Chambers Daily Devotional Bible (p.1092) for today:

James 1:15 "Sin Seen in Unselfishness"

How do we think about sin habitually, as Christians? If we have light views about sin, we are not students in the school of Christ. The fact of sin is the secret of Jesus Christ's Cross; its removal is the secret of His risen and ascended life. Do we think along these lines? It is quite possible to be living in union with God through the Atonement and yet be traitors mentally....

If you read carefully the modern statements regarding sin, you will be amazed to find how often we are much more in sympathy with them than with the Bible statements. We have to face the problem that our hearts may be right with God while our heads have a startling affinity with a great deal that is antagonistic to the Bible teaching. What we need, and what we get if we go on with God, is an intellectual rebirth as well as a heart rebirth.

The trouble with the modern statements regarding sin is that they make sin far too slight. Sin according to the modern view simply means selfishness, and preachers and teachers are as dead against selfishness as the New Tesament is. Immediately we come to the Bible we find that sin is much deeper than that. According to the Bible, sin in its final analysis is not a defect but a defiance, a defiance that means death to the life of God in us. Sin is seen not only in selfishness, but in what men call unselfishness. It is possible to have such sympathy with our fellowmen as to be guilty of red-handed rebellion against God. Enthusiasm for humanity as it is, is quite a different thing from the enthusiasm for the saints which the Bible reveals, namely, enthusiasm for readjusted humanity."

(Chambers, DDB, p.1092)

Many thanks to Ann for passing this on!

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Next time we hear "Mary, Mary" perhaps we should pause and reconsider?

A very good friend of mine calls me "Mary, Mary" and some kind fellow members of the Vestry sent me this informative article about the origins of the well-known nursery rhyme:

Mary Mary quite contrary,
How does your garden grow?
With silver bells and cockle shells
And pretty maids all in a row.

Here's the scoop on the origin of Mary Mary Quite Contrary.

Nursery Rhyme Origins & History

BB Note: Time to dust off the English history book!

The Mary alluded to in this traditional English nursery rhyme is reputed to be Mary Tudor, or Bloody Mary, who was the daughter of King Henry VIII. Queen Mary was a staunch Catholic and the garden referred to is an allusion to graveyards which were increasing in size with those who dared to continue to adhere to the Protestant faith - Protestant martyrs.

BB Note: Bells and shells - no day at the beach!

The silver bells and cockle shells referred to in the Nursery Rhyme were colloquialisms for instruments of torture. The 'silver bells' were thumbscrews which crushed of the thumb between two hard surfaces by the tightening a screw. The 'cockleshells' were believed to be instruments of torture which were attached to the genitals!

BB Note: The " Maids" or Maiden probably gave the French revolutionaries some ideas when they repeated the nursery rhyme centuries later!

The 'maids' were a device to behead people called the Maiden. Beheading a victim was fraught with problems. It could take up to 11 blows to actually sever the head, the victim often resisted and had to be chased around the scaffold. Margaret Pole (1473 - 1541), Countess of Salisbury did not go willingly to her death and had to be chased and hacked at by the Executioner. These problems led to the invention of a mechanical instrument (now known as the guillotine) called the Maiden - shortened to Maids in the Mary Mary Nursery Rhyme. The Maiden had long been in use in England before Lord Morton, regent of Scotland during the minority of James VI, had a copy constructed from the Maiden which had been used in Halifax in Yorkshire. Ironically, Lord Morton fell from favour and was the first to experience the Maiden in Scotland!

So perhaps one should pause before calling me "Mary, Mary." Or, perhaps not.


Friday, May 26, 2006

"Da Vader Code" - The Inside Story Behind Darth Vader and the National Cathedral

So how did Darth Vader end up as a gargoyle on the Washington Cathedral? Was it just a whim of a stone mason as we've been told, or is there more to the story? How does a corporate icon representing the vast fortune of a northern Californian end up carved into the side of a Washington religious landmark? The Daily Prophet is put on the trail of the Vader Conspiracy - how dark forces from the Presidio are poised to take over the National Cathedral and turn it into Lucasland.

Stay tuned for "Da Vader Code: The Inside Story" right here at BabyBlueOnline.

Queen Elizabeth II prepares to throw a party

The preparations are underway for the celebration of Queen Elizabeth II's 80th birthday. The official website opens today and the flash version is fantastic. Check it out by clicking the link above or go here:


Countdown to Columbus

General Convention: Countdown to Columbus

By The Rev. George Conger

“In or out?” The Archbishop of Canterbury and the Anglican Communion are hoping to hear the answer to this question from the 75th General Convention of the Episcopal Church.

The June 13-21 meeting in Columbus, Ohio of General Convention -- the governing body of the confederation of dioceses that make up the Episcopal Church in the United States of America (ECUSA) -- will present the Church’s formal response to the Windsor Report, setting out its relation and responsibilities towards the Anglican Communion. How the Convention responds to the Windsor Report will help determine the Episcopal Church’s ongoing place in the Anglican Communion, say many of the leaders of the Anglican world.

Disciplined by the Primates and the Anglican Consultative Council in 2005 for the 74th General Convention’s affirmation of the election of a partnered gay priest as Bishop of New Hampshire and for stating that blessings of same sex unions were within the bounds of church life, the Episcopal Church faces sanction for breeching the “bonds of fellowship.”

While the presenting cause for the crisis is the question of homosexuality, the underlying issue that threatens to tear apart the 82 million member Anglican Communion is a dispute between autonomy and order -- how far can an individual church go in changing heretofore common ethical and moral teachings and still be part of the catholic church?

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, has warned the Episcopal Church that it cannot dictate the terms of its membership in the Anglican Communion, and that there will be consequences -- as yet unspecified -- for the actions of the 74th General Convention, unless it reforms.

While General Convention will debate and discuss hundreds of resolutions ranging from revision of the Church’s disciplinary canons to the election of a new Presiding Bishop, the focus of the ten-day gathering will be on the Windsor Report, a study commissioned by the Primates of the Anglican Communion to examine how the Church should manage challenges to its common faith and order.

“I hope for clarity in issues before us, for meeting each other as brothers and sisters in Christ willing to find unity in Christ without arrogance,” Central Florida lay deputy Anneke Bertsch said, adding she hoped Convention would meet the “requests of the Windsor Report” and listen to “God’s agenda for our church and focus on our commitment to the Great Commission.”

The Rev. Donald J. Curran, Jr., rector of Grace Church, Ocala, and a Clergy Deputy, told the Central Florida Episcopalian Convention faced a stark choice. “I hope we all come to our senses, fully embrace the Windsor Report, repent of 2003 and come back to orthodox faith,” he said.

But he was afraid Convention would evade its responsibilities and “won't even debate the real issues at hand that are destroying the church. Many seem to think we can slide through one more time by holding hands and looking to the future,” he said.

Disputes over the interpretation of the Windsor Report’s recommendations divide Central Florida Episcopalians. Donna Bott, a leader of Episcopal Voices – which is critical of the conservative groups the American Anglican Council and the Anglican Communion Network – rejected the scenario that if “the General Convention did not comply with the WR the Episcopal Church will have chosen to walk a part.”

The Windsor Report “clearly states” that it is “not a judgment, Mrs. Bott said. It is part of a process. It is part of a pilgrimage towards healing and reconciliation. It is intended to answer the question, ‘How does the Anglican Communion address relationships between its component parts in a true spirit of communion?’” she said.

Discussion of the Windsor Report and its recommendations will come to Convention through the 61-page report “One Baptism, One Hope in God’s Call” prepared by the Special Commission on the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion.

The April 7 report recommended the Church “exercise very considerable caution” in electing bishops “whose manner of life presents a challenge to the wider church,” but stopped short of a moratorium on gay bishops requested by overseas leaders and conservatives within the Episcopal Church.

The Commission also recommended bishops not sanction public liturgies for the blessing of same-sex unions. However the current practice of private unofficial ceremonies would be permitted through the rubric of offering appropriate “individual pastoral care for gay and lesbian Christians.”

General Convention should make its “sincerest apology and repentance for having breached the bonds of affection in the Anglican Communion.” However, the language proposed by the Commission stated the apology was not for having been in error for affirming the election of a non-celibate homosexual priest as bishop, but for a “failure to consult adequately with our Anglican partners” before it affirmed the election of Gene Robinson.

Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold and President of the House of Deputies, Dean George Werner, explained the report was “intended to start the conversation and not conclude” it.

Its mandate was to consider “how to maintain the highest degree of communion within the Anglican Communion given the different perspectives held with regard to the place of homosexual persons in the life of the Church,” they said.

General Convention will consider the commission’s resolutions to slow but not halt the push for gay bishops and blessings alongside a resolution submitted by Newark lay deputy, Dr. Louie Crew, that asks Convention to authorize “rites for Celebration and Blessing of a Marriage and the Blessing of a Civil Marriage in the Book of Common Prayer for same-sex couples in those civil jurisdictions that permit same-sex marriage.”

Dr. Crew’s resolution would change references in the Prayer Book and Canons from “man and woman” and “husband and wife” to “two persons.”

Resolutions slowing down or speeding up the introduction of same-sex blessings will not satisfy the Anglican Communion’s call for a halt to same-sex blessings, observers warn. Nor does the Special Commission’s report include “a rejection of the decisions of the 2003 General Convention,” Episcopal Life reported.

Archbishop Williams has cautioned Convention not to end the House of Bishop’s moratorium on consecrating actively homosexual priests to the episcopate or permitting rites for the blessing of same-sex unions until the Communion is of common mind.

“I believe if there is ever to be a change in the discipline and teaching of the Anglican Communion on this matter it should not be the decision of one Church alone,” Archbishop Williams said on February 17.

The actions of the 74th General Convention were “seen in the Communion as the decision of one Church which has consequences and repercussions for others that they have not fully owned themselves” Archbishop Williams said.

He said the Anglican Communion “will expect reaction to what has been said around the Communion” from the General Convention. “On a matter where traditionally there has been a very clear teaching” there must be “the highest degree of consensus for such a radical change.”

Speaking on behalf of Dr. Williams to the March 17-22 meeting of the House of Bishops, Bishop Michael Langrish of Exeter “told the U.S. bishops that the language of the special commission is not adequate,” and “that if they consecrate another gay bishop or authorize same-sex relations, the Anglican Communion will break apart,” The Times of London religion correspondent Ruth Gledhill reported.

The Anglican Communion had “real anxieties” over the Commission’s call for “very considerable caution” in electing a bishop “who was in a relationship not liturgically sanctioned by the Church,” Bishop Langrish said.

While “no one can force another province or diocese either to go or remain,” Bishop Langrish noted, “no diocese or province can enforce its own continued membership simply or largely on its own terms. There has to be engagement. There is no communion without a shared vision of life in communion.”

“Any further consecration of those in a same-sex relationship, any authorization of any person to undertake same-sex blessings, any stated intention not to seriously engage with the Windsor Report, will be read very widely as a declaration not to stay with the Communion,” the Archbishop of Canterbury’s representative warned.

A challenge to the moratorium was avoided May 6 with the election of the bishop of California. Among the seven candidates on the ballot to succeed the Rt. Rev. William Swing were three partnered gay and lesbian priests.

While the selection of the Suffragan Bishop of Alabama, the Rt. Rev. Marc Andrus, avoided a direct clash, it did not change the status quo in California, according to conservative Episcopalians such as the AAC. Bishop Andrus stated in his acceptance speech his election was a “vote for inclusion and communion — of gay and lesbian people in their full lives as single or partnered people, of women, of all ethnic minorities, and all people.”

The election in Northern California on May 6 may set Convention on a collision course with the wider Anglican Communion over the issue of the election of a bishop “whose manner of life presents a challenge to the wider church.”

While there have been over a dozen American bishops who have been divorced and remarried, Northern California’s canon to the ordinary, the Rev. Barry Beisner, will be the first priest to have been divorced twice and married three times before being consecrated as bishop.

In 1946 the Episcopal Church permitted divorcees to remarry in the Church upon special license of their bishop. Clergy were generally not permitted to remarry after divorce and retain their orders until the 1960s. Only the Episcopal Church, Anglican Church of Canada and the Church in Wales have permitted divorced and remarried priests to be consecrated bishops.

There is no single standard exercised by the Episcopal Church. Some dioceses, such as Iowa, permit a fourth marriage after divorce, California permits three, while the majority permits a priest to have two.

In the Anglican churches of the Global South remarriage after divorce is viewed as adultery and grounds for dismissal from the priesthood unless special circumstances apply. If affirmed by the 75th General Convention, Canon Beisner’s election may provoke as strong a reaction from African church leaders as did the election of Gene Robinson.

Fears that Convention will choose “not to stay with the Communion” have prompted a series of “what if” sessions at Lambeth Palace. Meeting with Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold, key English bishops, overseas primates and leaders of the Communion’s conservative wing, Archbishop Williams is reviewing his options and preparing for a possible schism within the Episcopal Church.

Four Primates have asked Archbishop Williams to hold an emergency meeting of Primates this summer in the anticipation that General Convention will not honor the Windsor Report, while bishops affiliated with the Anglican Communion Network will meet on May 17 at Nashotah House with Bishop N.T. Wright of Durham to set a common post-convention strategy.

The Rev. Joyce Holmes, rector of the Church of the Redeemer in Avon Park, a clergy alternate deputy to Convention, said her prayer was “we will not be anxious, and will stay focused on our mission in Central Florida.”

The Rev. Canon D. Lorne Coyle, rector of Trinity Church in Vero Beach, and the spokesman for the Central Florida General Convention deputation concurred saying he hoped “our Episcopal Church will have a change of heart and want to work closely with the rest of the Communion to spread the Gospel of grace around the world.”

However, “regardless of what happens in Columbus this diocese is blessed with a godly bishop in John Howe,” Canon Coyle said. “The clergy and lay leaders of Central Florida are committed to stand with him to project the Gospel of grace into the 21st century.”

Dylan is a hit as XM DJ

Bob Dylan Keeps On A-Changin'

NEW YORK, May 24, 2006--(AP) Coming from the radio speakers, Bob Dylan sounds as craggy and weather-beaten as he looks — and quite playful, too.

The rock 'n' roll poet, who turned 65 on Wednesday, is carving out a new role as a part-time radio disc jockey. His weekly "Theme Time Radio Hour" airs at 10 a.m. EDT Wednesdays on XM Satellite Radio, with Dylan as both curator and narrator. (It's available eight times throughout the week.)

Much like his concerts, Dylan's radio shows are a journey through 20th-century musical Americana, the sort of thing he would have heard growing up in Minnesota with a transistor radio hidden under his pillow when he went to bed.

So far, about the only thing missing is Bob Dylan music, unless you count the off-key verse of "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" that he croaked at the beginning of this week's show on baseball.

Each week Dylan builds his show around a theme, like the weather and drinking songs. For Mother's Day, he celebrated moms with an hour that mixed Buck Owens' "I'll Go to Church With Mama," Ruth Brown's "Mama He Treats Your Daughter Mean" and LL Cool J's "Mama Said Knock You Out."

The majority of the music Dylan plays predates his own rise to fame.

"I think it's more akin to the way radio sounded in 1952 than it does in 2006," said Lee Abrams, XM Satellite Radio's chief creative officer.

Dylan's entertaining baseball show also mixed in calls from classic baseball games, like Curt Gowdy announcing Ted Williams' home run in his final at-bat with the Boston Red Sox.

He refreshingly avoids the obvious: Dylan spins Billy Bragg and Wilco's "Joe DiMaggio Done it Again" and not Simon & Garfunkel's "Mrs. Robinson" ("where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio ..."). He plays Buddy Johnson's "Did You See Jackie Robinson Hit That Ball" and ignores John Fogerty's overexposed "Centerfield."

"If diamonds are a girl's best friend, why do so many girls get mad when you want to go to the ballpark?" Dylan says during this week's show. "You tell me."

That sort of absurdist humor is what may most surprise listeners. Dylan told mother-in-law jokes a la Henny Youngman during one show ("I just came back from a pleasure trip — took my mother-in-law to the airport"). He discussed — seriously, we think — watching the old country-flavored musical/variety TV series "Hee Haw."

Dylan's intro to "Mama Said Knock You Out" became an old white man's rap.

"Here's LL Cool J," he said. "Don't call it a comeback. He's been here for years, rockin' his peers, puttin' 'em in fear, makin' tears rain down like a monsoon, explosions overpowerin' the competition. LL Cool J is towerin'."

And catch this opening to that show on mothers:

"Going to pay tribute to that bountiful breast we all spring from, mother dearest," he said. "`M's' for the many things she gave me. `O' is for the other things she gave me. `T' is for the things she gave me. `H' is for her things, which she gave me. `E' is for everything she gave me. `R' is for the rest of the things she gave me. Let's talk about mothers."

Bob Dylan is secretly silly. Who knew?

Although you can occasionally hear the shuffling of papers as he talks, Dylan sounds like a natural on the radio.

"I was completely surprised" by his radio show, said Jonathan Cott, who edited an anthology of Dylan interviews that was released to coincide with the 65th birthday. "I was surprised when he wrote his `Chronicles' book. I'm surprised by him all the time. I didn't think he'd ever be a disc jockey."

Abrams said Dylan topped his "wish list" of celebrity DJs when he started working for XM. It took him two years just to find the right person to get a message through to Dylan.

When he finally did, he learned Dylan was a fan of XM and a subscriber. After growing up listening to those old 50,000-watt radio stations from miles away across the Plains, Dylan had secretly fancied himself as a DJ. Much to XM's delight, he said yes, and they worked out a schedule that wouldn't be too disruptive to Dylan's regular life on the road.

The singer still maintains an aura of mystery. He's not involved in XM's weekly call about the show with a producer. He doesn't record it at one of XM's studios; in fact, Abrams has no idea where Dylan records it.

"They deliver the show to us every week," he said. "It's a big surprise when we open the package and listen to it."

By David Bauder

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Columbus 2006

Tip of the Tin Foil Hat to DL and his rolling stones. Thank you!

Africa takes the lead

This should be Africa's century

By Bono

Africa is on a journey from charity to justice, off the nipple of aid and into an environment in which meeting the 0.7% of GDP target for aid promised at the Gleneagles summit can be seen as an investment in a new continent.

The old Africa is a picture of despair and appeals for emergency supplies; the new Africa is a picture of opportunity and the need for seedcorn capital to develop these chances into sustainable growth.

And it is Africans, not Europeans or Americans, who are leading this journey. There is a new generation of entrepreneurs in government, in civil society and in business. This is an entrepreneurial culture that is not just based on greed or wealth for the few but on a genuine desire to create jobs and move up the value-added chain in business; not just to grow cotton but to develop an apparel sector; to have not just commodities but made-in-Africa product lines in chocolate, coffee and, hopefully, mobile phones.

These past 10 days have been an education for me, and I have to admit that we may have, in the past, misread the scale of the problems and the proper response to them because commerce, which is something activists don't generally interest themselves in, is the critical player.

I feel that the arc of my own life as an activist is not unlike that of a lot of other people: we started off responding to a need, then started to be informed about what had caused that need, and then went on to discover that the response to that need was not exactly what we originally thought it was - and that the old brute of capitalism, if it could be tamed and made to serve the many, not the few, was going to be more than a bit player in the success or failure of the continent. That's a bit humbling.

Four years ago to the week, I was fighting with the US treasury secretary, Paul O'Neill, about his interest in the stock market in Ghana and his interest in private enterprise as a solution to the problem. I have to admit that he was more than half right. But still, as President Kufuor of Ghana gently reminded us, without aid his people are not strong enough to compete; without investment in an educated population, his people may miss the excitement of the information age. In a way, his was the most balanced picture of aid leading to trade.

The first thing that came home to me in this trip is something I had always known but not fully felt: Africa is not a country - it's a continent wider and more diverse than either the European Union or the Americas, and there is no pan-African, single solution that can be applied to it. We need not be depressed by that, but rather be inspired to gang up on the problem from a lot of different directions.

Some countries - Lesotho, for example - need immediate injections of cash to deal with the Aids pandemic. Some landlocked countries, such as Rwanda, need an infrastructure to help them compete. Some countries in the early stages of development need to fight for reform of trade laws at the Doha round of the World Trade Organisation. (In Mali, for example, the cost of cotton on the world market can make or break the people). And other countries, Nigeria among them, need to follow the prescriptive advice of anti-corruption campaigners such as their finance minister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, because levels of transparency will, in a very real way, be the measure of success.

One highlight of the trip was a fashion show in the mountain kingdom of Lesotho, where factory workers, a third of them HIV positive, took to the catwalk with a new confidence because anti-retroviral drugs are being made available through the Global Fund (which combats Aids, tuberculosis and malaria) and other agencies. There is much less anger than I expected, given that these people were left out of debt cancellation. The workers came out wearing Product Red T-shirts made by Gap and One T-shirts made by Edun. That was special.

A second highlight was Mr Shah in Tanzania, an entrepreneur who, having built the first factory on the continent to supply long-lasting malaria bed nets, has reinvested his money in making polo shirts for export. He will treble output by the end of the year and double his 3,200-strong workforce.

A lowlight: I never want to see six people in a bed again, as I did in a clinic in Kigali; I never want to see hospital staff being stretched so far. Lowlight number two: the road into town from Bamako airport in Mali seemed to lead nowhere and offer no hope. Mind you, it's worth stating that this is a stable Muslim democracy and, despite being one of the poorest countries in the world, has the most vibrant music scene and the most generous people.

I leave Africa optimistic that if we get out of the way, if we level the playing field in the trade talks, this could be not just the Chinese or the Indian century but also Africa's.

May 25, 2006 11:00 AM

Mom loved literature, politics and religion

Here's my mom in New York City in the late 1950's. She loved literature, politics, and religion. She was also a roommate at Smith with Sylvia Plath. She was a great writer who was devoted to truth. She was also a great mom and a very good friend. Though she was only with me for sixteen years, she is never far from my thoughts. Thanks, Mom, for passing down your passions to me.


Helena Bonham Carter cast as Bellatrix Lestrange in Order of the Phoenix, now filming in London

Great choice. She replaces Helen McCrory.

Here's the full story from Leaky:

There has been a major casting change for Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. The role of Bellatrix Lestrange has been recast and Helena Bonham Carter (Mrs. Bucket, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) will now play the role of the Death Eater who causes such havoc at the Ministry of Magic. Previously we reported that Helen McCrory was to play the part, but due to the her pregnancy, she was unable to continue filming, and the part was recast. Newsround is also reporting the part of Professor Grubby-Plank has gone to actress Apple Brook. Bane, the Centaur is to be played by actor Jason Piper. Finally there is news about the casting for the roles of the Marauders for the Pensieve scene, with James Walter to be young Sirius, James Utechin as Lupin, and Alec Hopkins as a young Snape.

An Academy Award Nominee for her role in The Wings of the Dove, actress Helena Bonham Carter is well known for her terrific work in films such as A Room with a View which co-starred Dame Maggie Smith (Prof. McGonagall), Frankenstein, with Kenneth Branagh (Gilderoy Lockhart) and Howards End , where she co-starred with Emma Thompson (Prof. Trelawney) and Sir Anthony Hopkins. She also recently voiced a part in Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, along with Ralph Fiennes, who plays Lord Voldemort.

NOTE FROM BB: All I can say is that I look foward to the Department of Mysteries dueling scene between Ms. Bonham Carter and Gary Oldman as Sirius Black. That should be worth the price of a ticket right there.

Activist Bishop storms through Kenya two weeks before ECUSA votes on Windsor Report

All Along the Watchtower posts this at Susan's blog today:

I understand that Bishop John Gladwin is a patron of Changing Attitude and so his visit to Kenya appears to be political. He's not the victim here - he is a political activist. I guess the next step is to have a sit-in at the diocesan offices?

Interesting that he decides to do this two weeks before ECUSA has its General Convention and will vote on the Windsor Report. It's obviously a trip planned to intentionally embarrass the archbishop. How sad.

Again, we see this tactic in American political campaigns, especially by activists. I guess I shouldn't be surprised, but I am to see English bishops behaving like Americans.


You can click on the link above for the full story.


National Review's Top 50 Rock Songs

May 25, 2006
(from the New York Times)

Following is National Review's list of its top 50 conservative rock songs, with the magazine's explanations of its choices.

1. "Won't Get Fooled Again," by The Who.
The conservative movement is full of disillusioned revolutionaries; this could be their theme song, an oath that swears off naive idealism once and for all. "There's nothing in the streets / Looks any different to me / And the slogans are replaced, by—the—bye. . . . Meet the new boss / Same as the old boss." The instantly recognizable synthesizer intro, Pete Townshend's ringing guitar, Keith Moon's pounding drums, and Roger Daltrey's wailing vocals make this one of the most explosive rock anthems ever recorded — the best number by a big band, and a classic for conservatives.

2. "Taxman," by The Beatles.
A George Harrison masterpiece with a famous guitar riff (which was actually played by Paul McCartney): "If you drive a car, I'll tax the street / If you try to sit, I'll tax your seat / If you get too cold, I'll tax the heat / If you take a walk, I'll tax your feet." The song closes with a humorous jab at death taxes: "Now my advice for those who die / Declare the pennies on your eyes."

3. "Sympathy for the Devil," by The Rolling Stones.
Don't be misled by the title; this song is "The Screwtape Letters" of rock. The devil is a tempter who leans hard on moral relativism — he will try to make you think that "every cop is a criminal / And all the sinners saints." What's more, he is the sinister inspiration for the cruelties of Bolshevism: "I stuck around St. Petersburg / When I saw it was a time for a change / Killed the czar and his ministers / Anastasia screamed in vain."

4. "Sweet Home Alabama," by Lynyrd Skynyrd.
A tribute to the region of America that liberals love to loathe, taking a shot at Neil Young's Canadian arrogance along the way: "A Southern man don't need him around anyhow."

5. "Wouldn't It Be Nice," by The Beach Boys.
Pro—abstinence and pro—marriage: "Maybe if we think and wish and hope and pray it might come true / Baby then there wouldn't be a single thing we couldn't do / We could be married / And then we'd be happy."

6. "Gloria," by U2.
Just because a rock song is about faith doesn't mean that it's conservative. But what about a rock song that's about faith and whose chorus is in Latin? That's beautifully reactionary: "Gloria / In te domine / Gloria / Exultate."

7. "Revolution," by The Beatles.
"You say you want a revolution / Well you know / We all want to change the world . . . Don't you know you can count me out?" What's more, Communism isn't even cool: "If you go carrying pictures of Chairman Mao / You ain't going to make it with anyone anyhow." (Someone tell the Che Guevara crowd.)

8. "Bodies," by The Sex Pistols.
Violent and vulgar, but also a searing anti—abortion anthem by the quintessential punk band: "It's not an animal / It's an abortion."

9. "Don't Tread on Me," by Metallica.
A head—banging tribute to the doctrine of peace through strength, written in response to the first Gulf War: "So be it / Threaten no more / To secure peace is to prepare for war."

10. "20th Century Man," by The Kinks.
"You keep all your smart modern writers / Give me William Shakespeare / You keep all your smart modern painters / I'll take Rembrandt, Titian, da Vinci, and Gainsborough. . . . I was born in a welfare state / Ruled by bureaucracy / Controlled by civil servants / And people dressed in grey / Got no privacy got no liberty / 'Cause the 20th—century people / Took it all away from me."

11. "The Trees," by Rush.
Before there was Rush Limbaugh, there was Rush, a Canadian band whose lyrics are often libertarian. What happens in a forest when equal rights become equal outcomes? "The trees are all kept equal / By hatchet, axe, and saw."

12. "Neighborhood Bully," by Bob Dylan.
A pro—Israel song released in 1983, two years after the bombing of Iraq's nuclear reactor, this ironic number could be a theme song for the Bush Doctrine: "He destroyed a bomb factory, nobody was glad / The bombs were meant for him / He was supposed to feel bad / He's the neighborhood bully."

13. "My City Was Gone," by The Pretenders.
Virtually every conservative knows the bass line, which supplies the theme music for Limbaugh's radio show. But the lyrics also display a Jane Jacobs sensibility against central planning and a conservative's dissatisfaction with rapid change: "I went back to Ohio / But my pretty countryside / Had been paved down the middle / By a government that had no pride."

14. "Right Here, Right Now," by Jesus Jones.
The words are vague, but they're also about the fall of Communism and the end of the Cold War: "I was alive and I waited for this. . . . Watching the world wake up from history."

15. "I Fought the Law," by The Crickets.
The original law—and—order classic, made famous in 1965 by The Bobby Fuller Four and covered by just about everyone since then.

16. "Get Over It," by The Eagles.
Against the culture of grievance: "The big, bad world doesn't owe you a thing." There's also this nice line: "I'd like to find your inner child and kick its little ass."

17. "Stay Together for the Kids," by Blink 182.
A eulogy for family values by an alt—rock band whose members were raised in a generation without enough of them: "So here's your holiday / Hope you enjoy it this time / You gave it all away. . . . It's not right."

18. "Cult of Personality," by Living Colour.
A hard—rocking critique of state power, whacking Mussolini, Stalin, and even JFK: "I exploit you, still you love me / I tell you one and one makes three / I'm the cult of personality."

19. "Kicks," by Paul Revere and the Raiders.
An anti—drug song that is also anti—utopian: "Well, you think you're gonna find yourself a little piece of paradise / But it ain't happened yet, so girl you better think twice."

20. "Rock the Casbah," by The Clash.
After 9/11, American radio stations were urged not to play this 1982 song, one of the biggest hits by a seminal punk band, because it was seen as too provocative. Meanwhile, British Forces Broadcasting Service (the radio station for British troops serving in Iraq) has said that this is one of its most requested tunes.

21. "Heroes," by David Bowie.
A Cold War love song about a man and a woman divided by the Berlin Wall. No moral equivalence here: "I can remember / Standing / By the wall / And the guns / Shot above our heads / And we kissed / As though nothing could fall / And the shame / Was on the other side / Oh we can beat them / For ever and ever."

22. "Red Barchetta," by Rush.
In a time of "the Motor Law," presumably legislated by green extremists, the singer describes family reunion and the thrill of driving a fast car — an act that is his "weekly crime."

23. "Brick," by Ben Folds Five.
Written from the perspective of a man who takes his young girlfriend to an abortion clinic, this song describes the emotional scars of "reproductive freedom": "Now she's feeling more alone / Than she ever has before. . . . As weeks went by / It showed that she was not fine."

24. "Der Kommissar," by After the Fire.
On the misery of East German life: "Don't turn around, uh—oh / Der Kommissar's in town, uh—oh / He's got the power / And you're so weak / And your frustration / Will not let you speak." Also a hit song for Falco, who wrote it.

25. "The Battle of Evermore," by Led Zeppelin.
The lyrics are straight out of Robert Plant's Middle Earth period — there are lines about "ring wraiths" and "magic runes" — but for a song released in 1971, it's hard to miss the Cold War metaphor: "The tyrant's face is red."

26. "Capitalism," by Oingo Boingo.
"There's nothing wrong with Capitalism / There's nothing wrong with free enterprise. . . . You're just a middle class, socialist brat / From a suburban family and you never really had to work."

27. "Obvious Song," by Joe Jackson.
For property rights and economic development, and against liberal hypocrisy: "There was a man in the jungle / Trying to make ends meet / Found himself one day with an axe in his hand / When a voice said 'Buddy can you spare that tree / We gotta save the world — starting with your land' / It was a rock 'n' roll millionaire from the USA / Doing three to the gallon in a big white car / And he sang and he sang 'til he polluted the air / And he blew a lot of smoke from a Cuban cigar."

28. "Janie's Got a Gun," by Aerosmith.
How the right to bear arms can protect women from sexual predators: "What did her daddy do? / It's Janie's last I.O.U. / She had to take him down easy / And put a bullet in his brain / She said 'cause nobody believes me / The man was such a sleaze / He ain't never gonna be the same."

29. "Rime of the Ancient Mariner," by Iron Maiden.
A heavy—metal classic inspired by a literary classic. How many other rock songs quote directly from Samuel Taylor Coleridge?

30. "You Can't Be Too Strong," by Graham Parker.
Although it's not explicitly pro—life, this tune describes the horror of abortion with bracing honesty: "Did they tear it out with talons of steel, and give you a shot so that you wouldn't feel?"

31. "Small Town," by John Mellencamp.
A Burkean rocker: "No, I cannot forget where it is that I come from / I cannot forget the people who love me."

32. "Keep Your Hands to Yourself," by The Georgia Satellites.
An outstanding vocal performance, with lyrics that affirm old—time sexual mores: "She said no huggy, no kissy until I get a wedding vow."

33. "You Can't Always Get What You Want," by The Rolling Stones.
You can "[go] down to the demonstration" and vent your frustration, but you must understand that there's no such thing as a perfect society — there are merely decent and free ones.

34. "Godzilla," by Blue Ayster Cult.
A 1977 classic about a big green monster — and more: "History shows again and again / How nature points up the folly of men."

35. "Who'll Stop the Rain," by Creedence Clearwater Revival.
Written as an anti—Vietnam War song, this tune nevertheless is pessimistic about activism and takes a dim view of both Communism and liberalism: "Five—year plans and new deals, wrapped in golden chains . . ."

36. "Government Cheese," by The Rainmakers.
A protest song against the welfare state by a Kansas City band that deserved more success than it got. The first line: "Give a man a free house and he'll bust out the windows."

37. "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down," by The Band.
Despite its sins, the American South always has been about more than racism — this song captures its pride and tradition.

38. "I Can't Drive 55," by Sammy Hagar.
A rocker's objection to the nanny state. (See also Hagar's pro—America song "VOA.")

39. "Property Line," by The Marshall Tucker Band.
The secret to happiness, according to these southern—rock heavyweights, is life, liberty, and property: "Well my idea of a good time / Is walkin' my property line / And knowin' the mud on my boots is mine."

40. "Wake Up Little Susie," by The Everly Brothers.
A smash hit in 1957, back when high—school social pressures were rather different from what they have become: "We fell asleep, our goose is cooked, our reputation is shot."

41. "The Icicle Melts," by The Cranberries.
A pro—life tune sung by Irish warbler Dolores O'Riordan: "I don't know what's happening to people today / When a child, he was taken away . . . 'Cause nine months is too long."

42. "Everybody's a Victim," by The Proclaimers.
Best known for their smash hit "I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)," this Scottish band also recorded a catchy song about the problem of suspending moral judgment: "It doesn't matter what I do / You have to say it's all right . . . Everybody's a victim / We're becoming like the USA."

43. "Wonderful," by Everclear.
A child's take on divorce: "I don't wanna hear you say / That I will understand someday / No, no, no, no / I don't wanna hear you say / You both have grown in a different way / No, no, no, no / I don't wanna meet your friends / And I don't wanna start over again / I just want my life to be the same / Just like it used to be."

44. "Two Sisters," by The Kinks.
Why the "drudgery of being wed" is more rewarding than bohemian life.

45. "Taxman, Mr. Thief," by Cheap Trick.
An anti—tax protest song: "You work hard, you went hungry / Now the taxman is out to get you. . . . He hates you, he loves money."

46. "Wind of Change," by The Scorpions.
A German hard—rock group's optimistic power ballad about the end of the Cold War and national reunification: "The world is closing in / Did you ever think / That we could be so close, like brothers / The future's in the air / I can feel it everywhere / Blowing with the wind of change."

47. "One," by Creed.
Against racial preferences: "Society blind by color / Why hold down one to raise another / Discrimination now on both sides / Seeds of hate blossom further."

48. "Why Don't You Get a Job," by The Offspring.
The lyrics aren't exactly Shakespearean, but they're refreshingly blunt and they capture a motive force behind welfare reform.

49. "Abortion," by Kid Rock.
A plaintive song sung by a man who confronts his unborn child's abortion: "I know your brothers and your sister and your mother too / Man I wish you could see them too."

50. "Stand By Your Man," by Tammy Wynette.
Hillary trashed it — isn't that enough? If you're worried that Wynette's original is too country, then check out the cover version by Motörhead.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Wash Cycle: Spin

No matter how much you protest to the contrary, if you hang your wash out to dry in a downpour, it will still come out all wet - no matter how much you try to spin it.

"I still haven't found what I'm looking for"

Progressive Episcopalians in Pittsburgh have released their position on the Special Commission Resolutions. It's important to note that since this has been released publicly, it is both a position paper as well as a political strategy. When we have local campaigns and the candidates release their positions on the hot topics in our local communities (you've received those flyers when you are in public places like train stations and metro entrances), they are aimed not only at the voters but also at their opponents. It's a strategic move. What I find interesting about this document is not so much the positions, which are unsurprising, but the strategy to paint their opposition as "militant traditionalists." It's the rhetoric in the commentary that is even more interesting than the actual position (which in reality are ever-changing - this is where they are today, but that does not mean this is where they will be next week). What they are looking for is to see the response and then adjust their response accordingly.

The question has been and continues to be - will ECUSA affirm the Windsor Report or not? This group still seems to think that its in charge - that somehow someone else broke communion, not the Episcopal Church itself. We can expect that this is the rhetoric we will hear over and over again at General Convention, the sort of "oh, little old us didn't do anything to hurt litle ole you, its just those meany militant traditionalists (and by the way did I mention that "The IRD" is behind every evil known on planet earth) who are causing all the trouble - they just ruin our parties, throw up in our bushes, bring their bratty kids to our pool, and smash our cars into telephone polls. They are just so mean, but we just want to love everyone and be listening posts, and just include everyone into our party cause we just love being loved).

Here is the link:

Money quote that just tell us how mixed up ECUSA is:

It is to be hoped that the
Episcopal Church will never be forced to choose be-
tween its ability to pursue its understanding of its
mission and unity with the wider Communion.
There are surely forces acting to fracture the Com-
munion, however, and, in the end, we may be pow-
erless to prevent schism. If we can do so while pre-
serving our integrity, we should make every effort
to remain in the Anglican Communion and, if a
break is to come, leave it to others formally to pre-
cipitate it.


Happy Birthday, Bob

Did you ever think you'd be alive at 65?

Bob Dylan still keeps world guessing
By Gary Hill

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Bob Dylan has announced no plans for his 65th birthday on Wednesday, but around the world and in the hometown he couldn't wait to escape, the musician who has insistently resisted labels will be celebrated as the voice of a generation.

Dylan's spokesman, Elliott Mintz, responded to questions about Dylan's birthday and touring plans by saying only that he had passed along the inquiry.

But a new compilation book of Dylan interviews has been published for the occasion, radio stations from Norway to Australia will air salutes, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has mounted a special exhibit and in his hometown of Hibbing, Minnesota, residents are baking cakes in hopes he may return.

The singer-songwriter who is also an author, filmmaker, actor and, most recently, radio disc-jockey has changed his name, religion and musical styles along the way. He has sometimes shocked his fans but always kept them guessing, while writing culture-changing songs like "Blowin' in the Wind" and "Like a Rolling Stone."

"May you stay forever young" was his fond wish for his audience, and "He not busy being born is busy dying" his credo. At retirement age, with hundreds of songs and nearly 50 albums behind him, he is still constantly touring, with a European swing about to begin.

"I don't see why you can't last as long as you want to last," he is quoted as saying in "Bob Dylan, The Essential Interviews," edited by Jonathan Cott.

"All I can do is be me -- whoever that is," he says.

The book traces Dylan's progress from a kid besotted with 1950s rock 'n' roll to a young folkie who gave voice to the anti-war, anti-racism youth movement of the 1960s.

He quickly renounced the title "protest singer" and became an electric rocker on a personal exploration of Christianity, Judaism and many other issues of identity.


"The second we all think we get to know him and what he stands for, he throws us a curve ball," says Warren Zanes, of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland, Ohio, where the top two floors are devoted to "Bob Dylan's American Journey: 1956-1966."

The 15-week exhibit, which just began, includes a high-school yearbook in which senior Bobby Zimmerman tells the girl who sat in front of him in math class how pretty she is -- and how he probably will never see her again.

Hoping to see him again are the folks in Hibbing, where the Dylan Days celebration started informally in 1991 at Zimmy's Fine Bar and Restaurant -- "the world's only Bob Dylan tribute bar and restaurant."

There will be concerts and readings, a bus tour of Hibbing and a one-day-only opportunity for fans to get their mail stamped with a special U.S. Postal Service design.

And of course there's birthday cake. "We have cake all over town," said Zimmy's co-owner Linda Hocking. "We'd love to see him here this year," she said, adding that this was the first year Dylan was not touring during "Dylan Days."

The Internet is also Dylan country. One Web site, Expecting Rain,, compiles 10 to 20 items per day of interest to Dylan fans.

With an 850-entry "Bob Dylan Encyclopedia" due in mid-June, the fascination with Dylan shows no sign of letting up.

"It's hard to believe he's a senior citizen because he really is 'Forever Young,' even when he's cranky -- and he can be cranky quite a bit," said Cott.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

The point of no return

Network Bishops Seek to Avoid Permanent Church Split
5/22/2006 - The Living Church

The bishops of the Anglican Communion Network called on General Convention to approve unconditionally the recommendations contained in the Windsor Report, stating that such acceptance offered the best chance to prevent a permanent tear within the Anglican Communion.

“[We] are prepared to be part of the efforts to reverse the situation, precisely because we are committed both to the Anglican Communion and the Constitution of the Episcopal Church, and because we long to be instruments of healing and reconciliation in the face of division,” the bishops said in a statement released shortly after a May 15-16 leadership meeting at a hotel convention center near Milwaukee, Wis.

The Network bishops are committed to participating “fully and prayerfully” at the 75th General Convention, said Jenny Noyes, a Network spokesperson. “They took care to ensure that their position statement did not appear in any way threatening, but clearly they believe that the 2006 General Convention is the point of no return,” she said.

“The schism occurred in 2003,” she explained. “It’s not like the break hasn’t already happened. The Windsor Report offers a way to reverse that break, to prevent the tear from growing wider.”

Ms. Noyes described the Windsor Report as “already a compromise” and said the Network bishops are in agreement that anything less than unconditional acceptance of its recommendations would be widely viewed as insufficient. She said the Network bishops did not believe it would be helpful at this time to specify what they would do in the event the Windsor Report was not unconditionally embraced, saying only that “there should be no doubt about their resolve.”

Monday, May 22, 2006

Kendall Harmon reponds to Susan Russell

KSH: Oh, dear, Susan Russell is upset (

SR: I’ll agree wholeheartedly with the Canon Theologian on one thing: one certainly DOES pray hard for better than this. But the “better than this” I’m praying for would be better than the hubris of presuming to declare “game over” when you don’t like the score.

KSH: But who has said game over? Not I, Ms. Russell. It is the Windsor report and the plea of the rest of the Anglican Communion’s concern about what the province of the Episcopal Church has done that she should be focused on.

What was it that Rowan Williams said?

Interviewer: If the North American churches do not observe moratoria on the consecration of so called gay bishops and the blessing of same sex unions, will they be welcome as full members of the next Lambeth Conference?

ABC: I do not want to second guess what the official bodies of the North American churches might do on this. I think what has been said to them this week is that the cost of carrying on with this particular set of unilateral developments is very high. It might mean that they may not be welcome at the next Lambeth conference but we are still discussing and talking about that.

Interviewer. Some of course have called on ECUSA to repent. They are most unlikely to do so. Do you think they should express repentance both for the actions and for the consequences of their actions?

ABC: The kind of repentance that has been called for that has been implied in the Windsor Report and has been touched on in our meeting this week is not only about the substantive issue but it is about the fact that the cost of actions and decisions like this was put to them and the feeling in some provinces is very very strongly that even if this were another kind of issue the injury to the development of a common mind is so strong that it is something for which they ought to repent, not just express regret.

Interviewer: Is that your view?

Archbishop of Canterbury: It is. I think that there was expressed quite clearly a sense that these actions would fracture the communion. I do not think that all those who took those actions in North America fully realised how deep that hurt and fracture might be.

Please notice, Susan, these words. It is both what was done and how it was done that is at issue here. That is what the Windsor Report and the Archbishop of Canterbury are focused on. If you do not like this, please by all means take it up with them but do not caricature it and misrepresent it the way you are doing.

SR: The “better than this” I’m counting on may just be “new alternatives” that we haven’t even thought of yet but will — as we continue in conversation and communion with those with whom we disagree.

KSH: And again we have a statement that shows such a deep misunderstanding of where we find ourselves. The Windsor Report is a ceasefire, Susan, because the Episcopal Church has done something which the vast majority of Anglicans (and Christians) believe is a departure from apostolic faith. If the new alternative is a General Convention fudge then what exactly do you mean by continue the conversation? Converse about whether to do something which the Episcopal Church plans on continuing to do? That is precisely what is at issue. Does it make sense to converse during a ceasefire when some people are still firing?

Also, as the Windsor Report in section B makes clear, it is not at all clear that what we are talking about here is an inessential matter as far as the Anglican Communion is concerned. The presenting symptomatic issue of noncelibate same sex unions touches quickly on other vital areas: anthroplogy, hamartiology, the authority and interpretation of Scripture, the doctrine of marriage, the nature of decision making in the church, and ultimately the shape of the Christian message itself. The Episcopal Church cannot unilaterally make a change and then go on talking about the change they are putting into practice if so many of the vital aspects of faith are involved and many other family members believe it is an UNChristian change.

SR: The “better than this” I believe the Holy Spirit is calling us ALL into is a place where a compromise on a compromise is not only a compromise but a way forward from an impasse manufactured by those drawing lines in the sand and asserting that unless we assent to their “clear truth” answers to the complex questions facing our communion we are “walking away” when the clear truth is that we have committed to stay.

KSH: A compromise is the last chance we have here as Anglicans. Rowan Williams see this. So did the Lambeth Comission. If the Episcopal Church arrogantly arrogates to itself the competence to change the church’s teaching and practice against the mind of the Anglcian Communion and then, when called on the fact that they did so, says that they still want to be part of the family but implement the changes anyway, then what? The Episcopal Church is further arrogantly arrogating to itself the competence to implement key doctrinal change without even consulting with the rest of the Anglican family. That will eviscerate what is left of communion and create a precedent whereby any other province could take a similar step. By taking that road we end up with even less than a Federation.

SR: Efforts to turn General Convention 2006 in an Anglican Eschaton (”… seeing General Convention 2006 as the very end of the road”) echo the “sky is falling” rhetoric that has dominated the right wing discourse for these last three years.

KSH: This deadline comes from the Dromatine Communique, paragraph 14:

Within the ambit of the issues discussed in the Windsor Report and in order to recognise the integrity of all parties, we request that the Episcopal Church (USA) and the Anglican Church of Canada voluntarily withdraw their members from the Anglican Consultative Council for the period leading up to the next Lambeth Conference. During that same period we request that both churches respond through their relevant constitutional bodies to the questions specifically addressed to them in the Windsor Report as they consider their place within the Anglican Communion.

Indeed, a number of Episcopal leaders have repeatedly said we will have to wait until General Convention, only General Convention speaks for the whole church, and on and on. You cannot get upset about this deadline when the Primates themselves set it and then the leadership of the Episcopal Church has reinforced the importance of this specific date. The fact that there was a Special Commission set up BEFORE General Convention and then another Special Commission AT General Convention to deal with the Windsor Report furthers this understanding even more.

SR: Here is but an outline of a triennium of “end of the road” moments on a journey that is far from over:

“If Gene Robinson is elected …” (June 2003)
“If General Convention consents to his election …” (July 2003)
“If he is consecrated …” (November 2003)
“When the Windsor Report is released …” (October 2004)
“When the primates meet at Dromantine …” (February 2005)
“When the ACC votes ECUSA off the Anglican Island … ” (June 2005)
“When the Special Commission takes a U-Turn on inclusion …” (April 2006)
The “better than this” I’m counting on is the faithful mainstream of the Episcopal Church to finally say “enough is enough,” affirm the actions of General Convention 2003 and confirm our commitment to continue to stay at the table no matter who chooses to walk away.

KSH: Here we have another one of those patented Susan Russell caricatures. It isn’t helpful if you critique someone with whom you differ’s position and then misrepresent it–then your crituque loses all value because you are criticizing something they didn’t say. To pick but one example, the phrase about the Anglican Island is one of yours, I believe, Susan, but not one which I used. The question is on the terms of the Windsor Report, not your terms–will the Episcopal Church choose to walk together or walk apart?,/i>

SR: At the end of the day, solving the massive problem we face as Anglicans striving to stay in relationship with our God and with each other will not be solved by ultimatums, threats or bullying. The “better than this” we pray for may just be “elongating the process” so the work we have been given to do as a people of God is done in GOD’S time — not ours.

KSH: Susan, the Special Commission report entitled One Baptism, One hope in God’s Call spoke of ‘…the divine foundation of communion should oblige each church to avoid unilateral action on contentious issues which may result in broken communion’ (page 18). Note carefully that word obligation. The onus is on you and those of your viewpoint who have argued God is doing a new thing. You are in a community which is an interdepedent family known as the Anglican Communion. The obligations of love have called upon you to stop acting on your new theology until and unless a new consensus emerges. What is being asked is clear, and the timeline is clear. If you see to evade the obligations of love and walk apart, then at least do so boldly and honestly. If you really believe in this new theology then embrace it clearly–and understand the cost. If you do this, I can certainly support your honesty and clarity as you do it–KSH

Network Bishops Issue Position Statement

Network Bishops Issue Position Statement
May 22nd, 2006

At the General Convention of the Episcopal Church in 2003, just moments after consent was given to the consecration of V. Gene Robinson to be bishop of New Hampshire, over twenty bishops stood in the House of Bishops and made this declaration:

“The bishops who stand before you are filled with sorrow. This body, in willfully confirming the election of a person sexually active outside of holy matrimony, has departed from the historic faith and order of the Church of Jesus Christ. This body has denied the plain teaching of Scripture and the moral consensus of the Church throughout the ages. This body has divided itself from millions of Anglican Christians around the world, brothers and sisters who have pleaded with us to maintain the Church’s traditional teaching on marriage and sexuality.

“With grief too deep for words, the bishops who stand before you must reject this action of the 74th Convention of the Episcopal Church.”

They went on to say that they made this declaration as “faithful Episcopalians, and members of this House.”

The Bishops of the Anglican Communion Network reaffirm this statement in its entirety.

As the Primates of the Anglican Communion warned in October of 2003, if the consecration given consent by the action of General Convention proceeded, it “will tear the fabric of our Communion at its deepest level.” Sadly, this very thing has happened.

It is important to understand that the issues of sexuality are not alone, or even primarily, the cause of this rupture. Rather, a crisis of faith runs deep in the Episcopal Church over the uniqueness of Jesus as Savior and Lord, the sacred authority of the Apostles’ teaching in the Holy Scriptures, and the responsibility Christians have to act in charity and accountability with each other. All these have been relativized and, in turn, this “accommodation” to the culture of North American individualism has been the context in which division has already occurred and may yet continue.

What is now to be done?

The issue for the 75th General Convention of the Episcopal Church in June 2006 is whether the 2003 decision can be reversed and the tear in the fabric of the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion can be repaired. Failing this reversal, the state of impaired or broken communion among those formerly together in the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion can be expected to become permanent. We, the Network Bishops, are prepared to be part of the efforts to reverse the situation, precisely because we are committed both to the Anglican Communion and the Constitution of the Episcopal Church, and because we long to be instruments of healing and reconciliation in the face of division.

To that end, we unanimously support the recommendations of the Windsor Report as the basis on which our divisions may begin to be mended. We pledge to work with all bishops of this Church and of the Communion who also support the Windsor report, and the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Primates in particular, in working toward greater unity and mutual responsibility under Scripture and within the Anglican heritage.

The Rt. Rev. Keith Lynn Ackerman, SSC, DD, Bishop of the Diocese of Quincy
The Rt. Rev. James M. Adams Jr., Bishop of the Diocese of Western Kansas
The Rt. Rev. Edward L. Salmon, Jr., Bishop of the Diocese of South Carolina
The Rt. Rev. Daniel W. Herzog, Bishop of the Diocese of Albany
The Rt. Rev. Peter H. Beckwith, Bishop of the Diocese of Springfield
The Rt. Rev. Robert Wm. Duncan, Bishop of the Diocese of Pittsburgh
The Rt. Rev. John W. Howe, Bishop of the Diocese of Central Florida
The Rt. Rev. Jack L. Iker, D.D., Bishop of the Diocese of Fort Worth
The Rt. Rev. John-David Schofield, Bishop of the Diocese of San Joaquin
The Rt. Rev. James M. Stanton, Bishop of the Diocese of Dallas
The Rt. Rev. Jeffrey N Steenson, Bishop of the Diocese of Rio Grande
The Rt. Rev. David J. Bena, Bishop Suffragan of Diocese of Albany
The Rt. Rev. Stephen H. Jecko, Assistant Bishop of the Diocese of Dallas
The Rt. Rev. Henry W. Scriven, Assistant Bishop of the Diocese of Pittsburgh
The Rt. Rev. William J. Skilton, Bishop Suffragan of the Diocese of South Carolina
The Rt. Rev. C. FitzSimons Allison, Retired
The Rt. Rev. William J. Cox, Retired
The Rt. Rev. Alex D. Dickson, Retired
The Rt. Rev. Andrew H. Fairfield, Retired
The Rt. Rev. William C. Wantland, Retired

Covenant Proposed for the Anglican Communion

From the Joint Standing Committee 'Towards an Anglican Covenant' A Consultation Paper on the Covenant Proposal of the Windsor Report

This Commission believes that the case for adoption of an Anglican Covenant is overwhelming:

1. The Anglican Communion cannot again afford, in every sense, the crippling prospect of repeated worldwide inter-Anglican conflict such as that engendered by the current crisis. Given the imperfections of our communion and human nature, doubtless there will be more disagreements. It is our shared responsibility to have in place an agreed mechanism to enable and maintain life in communion, and to prevent and manage communion disputes.

2. The concept of the adoption of a covenant is not new in the ecumenical context. Anglican churches have commonly entered covenants with other churches to articulate their relationships of communion. These ecumenical covenants provide very appropriate models from which Anglicans can learn much in their own development of inter-Anglican relations.
Adoption of a Covenant is a practical need and a theological challenge, and we recognise the process may lead to complex debate. A Covenant incarnates communion as a visible foundation around which Anglicans can gather to shape and protect their distinctive identity and mission, and in so doing also provides an accessible resource for our ecumenical partners in their understanding of Anglicanism.

3. The solemn act of entering a Covenant carries the weight of an international obligation so that, in the event of a church changing its mind about the covenantal commitments, that church could not proceed internally and unilaterally. The process becomes public and multilateral, whereas unilateralism would involve breach of obligations owed to forty-three other churches. The formality of ratification by the primates publicly assembled also affords a unique opportunity for worldwide witness.

4. A worldwide Anglican Covenant may also assist churches in their relations with the States in which they exist. At such moments when a church faces pressure from its host State(s) to adopt secular state standards in its ecclesial life and practice, an international Anglican Covenant might provide powerful support to the church, in a dispute with the State, to reinforce and underpin its religious liberty within the State.

5. As with any relational document of outstanding historical importance, which symbolises the trust parties have in each other, some provisions of a Covenant will be susceptible to development through interpretation and practice: it cannot predict the impact of future events. For this reason the draft Covenant is designed to allow the parties to it to adjust that relationship and resolve disputes in the light of changing circumstances.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Okay, so this may not be how it'll look in the film

But you have to admit, it is rather funny.

More on PotterPuffs:

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Who did you say called?

Thanks to Jay Slocum, who posted this link. For those who work in churches, this is way-too familiar. And that's what makes it so darn funny.

Click the headline above or go here:

PS - Jay has a great blog - check out Reformed Anglican at (

Remembering the Ackerman Resolution

BB Note: Sarah Hey sent this, reminding us of the "other" important vote at General Convention 2003. While much of the focus at Minneapolis was on the affirmation of Gene Robinson for bishop of New Hampshire and endorsing local option for same sex blessings, Keith Ackerman's Resolution (B001) was a watershed vote in the Episcopal Church. Three years later, it is perhaps more important now than ever.

From Sarah:

During all the chaos of General Convention 2003, one resolution was
quite useful. It was resolution B001 and was an attempt to leave the
convention with an affirmation of what we as Episcopalians believe.

Interestingly enough, it failed to pass. But . . . there was a roll
call vote, and so we have on the record who voted for the resolution,
and who voted against. Some have said that this was the most
important action of that General Convention.

Just to remind, it started as a voice vote, late in the day, and,
then, being ruled as defeated by the chair, Bp Ackerman called for a
roll vote, which is how we know who voted how:"

Read the resolution below and see what you think about it -- as well
as who voted for and against it.


Resolution B001

Topic/Title: Doctrine: Endorse Certain Historic Anglican Doctrines
and Policies

Proposer: The Rt. Rev. Keith L. Ackerman (Quincy)

Resolved, the House of _____ concurring, That this 74th General
Convention affirms that “Holy Scripture all things necessary to
salvation: so that whatsoever is not read therein, nor may be proved
thereby, is not to be required of any man, that it should be believed
as an article of the Faith, or be thought requisite or necessary to
salvation,” as set forth in Article VI of the Articles of Religion
established by the General Convention on September 12, 1801; and be
it further

Resolved, That this 74th General Convention re-affirms that “it is
not lawful for the Church to ordain [that is, establish or enact] any
thing that is contrary to God’s Word written, neither may it so
expound one place of Scripture, that it be repugnant to another,” as
set forth in Article XX of the Articles of Religion established by
the General Convention on September 12, 1801; and be it further

Resolved, That this 74th General Convention affirms that every member
of this Church is conscience-bound first of all to obey the teaching
and direction of Our Lord Jesus Christ as set forth in Holy Scripture
in any matter where a decision or action of this Church, or this
General Convention, may depart from that teaching; and be it further

Resolved, That this 74th General Convention re-affirms that the
statements known as the Chicago- of 1886, 1888, as set forth in the
Book of Common Prayer, 1979 continue to be true and accurate
statements of the faith and policy of this Church, and the Anglican
Communion; and be it further

Resolved, That this 74th General Convention affirms that councils of
the Church have, and sometimes will, err but that Our Lord Jesus
Christ, present through the person of the Holy Spirit, can and will
correct such error; and be it further

Resolved, That this 74th General Convention directs the Office of the
Presiding Bishop to forward a copy of this resolution to every
Diocese within the Episcopal Church.


Recent General Conventions have been asked to consider significant
changes affecting matter of historic faith, morals, and discipline in
our Church, in some cases bringing public ridicule to our Church.
Some members have therefore become discouraged, and others have left
this Church. Many Members who remain faithful to this Church seek
reassurance that they will not be coerced to act against conscience
in matter of historic belief and practice, seeking healing rather
than further fragmentation or our Church.
The resolution: re-affirms Holy Scripture as the foundation of
authority in our Church, re-affirms historic positions adopted by
previous General Conventions and affirms that no member of this
Church shall be forced to practice anything contrary to the clear
meaning of holy scripture.

Those Who Voted For the Resolution

1. , Bishop of Quincy.
2. , Bishop of Western Kansas.
3. , Bishop of Honduras.
4. , Bishop of Southern Virginia.
5. , Bishop of Springfield.
6. , Bishop Suffragan of Albany.
7. , Bishop of Pennsylvania.
8. , Retired Bishop of Texas.
9. , Assisting Bishop of Pennsylvania and Retired Bishop of Connecticut.
10. , Canon Missioner and Assisting Bishop of Texas.
11. , Bishop of Central Gulf Coast.
12. , Bishop of Pittsburgh.
13. , Bishop of Colombia.
14. , Bishop of Haiti.
15. , Bishop for Ecumenical Relations.
16. , Retired Bishop of North Dakota.
17. , Bishop of West Texas.
18. , Bishop of Southeast Florida.
19. , Bishop of Michigan.
20. , Bishop of Mississippi.
21. , Retired Bishop of Northern Indiana and Assistant Bishop of
22. , Bishop of Eastern Oregon.
23. , Retired Bishop of Pittsburgh.
24. , Bishop of Upper South Carolina.
25. , Bishop of Tennessee.
26. , Bishop of Albany.
27. , Bishop Suffragan of West Texas.
28. , Bishop of Dominican Republic.
29. , Bishop of Central Florida.
30. , Bishop of San Diego.
31. , Bishop of Fort Worth.
32. , Bishop of Fond du Lac.
33. , Bishop of Florida.
34. , Bishop of Louisiana.
35. , Bishop of West Tennessee.
36. , Bishop Suffragan of Virginia.
37. , Bishop of West Virginia.
38. , Bishop of Northern California.
39. , Bishop of Southwest Florida.
40. , Bishop of Northern Indiana.
41. , Bishop of Georgia.
42. , Bishop of Alaska.
43. , Bishop of Western Louisiana.
44. , Bishop of Oklahoma.
45. , Bishop of Northwest Texas.
46. , Bishop Suffragan of the Armed Services, Healthcare, and Prisons.
47. , Bishop of Alabama.
48. , Bishop of Navajoland.
49. , Retired Bishop of Native American Ministries.
50. , Retired Bishop of Kentucky.
51. , Resigned Bishop Suffragan of Connecticut and Retired Bishop
Assisting with The Convocation of American Churches in Europe.
52. , Bishop of South Carolina.
53. , Assistant Bishop of Pittsburgh.
54. , Bishop of Western Massachusetts.
55. , Bishop of Easton.
56. , Bishop of New York.
57. , Bishop Suffragan of South Carolina.
58. , Bishop of Dallas.
59. , Bishop of Southern Ohio.
60. , Bishop of East Tennessee.
61. , Retired Bishop of Eau Claire.
62. , Bishop Suffragan in Charge of The Convocation of American
Churches in Europe.
63. , Bishop of Eau Claire.
64. , Bishop of Texas.
65. , Bishop of Rhode Island.
66. , Retired Bishop of San Diego.

Those Who Voted Against the Resolution

1. , Bishop of Central New York.
2. , Bishop of Atlanta.
3. , Retired Bishop of Minnesota.
4. , Bishop Suffragan of Alabama.
5. , Bishop of Idaho.
6. , Retired Bishop of Pennsylvania.
7. , Bishop of Los Angeles.
8. , Bishop of Wyoming.
9. , Assisting Bishop of Los Angeles.
10. , Bishop Suffragan of Massachusetts.
11. , Bishop of Washington.
12. , Bishop of Hawaii.
13. , Assisting Bishop of California and Retired Bishop of Utah.
14. , Former Bishop of Alaska, President & Dean of Episcopal Divinity
15. , Bishop of Central Pennsylvania.
16. , Bishop of Newark.
17. , Bishop Suffragan of Connecticut.
18. , Bishop of North Carolina.
19. , Bishop of East Carolina.
20. , Retired Bishop Suffragan of Washington.
21. , Retired Bishop of New Jersey.
22. , Bishop of Vermont.
23. , Bishop Suffragan of Southern Virginia.
24. , Bishop of Western New York.
25. , Bishop of Western Michigan.
26. , Bishop Suffragan of North Carolina.
27. , Bishop of Ohio.
28. , Bishop of Kentucky.
29. , Resigned Bishop Suffragan of Minnesota and Retired Assisting
Bishop of Olympia.
30. , Retired Bishop Suffragan of Massachusetts and Assisting Bishop
of Washington.
31. , Bishop Suffragan of Massachusetts.
32. , Bishop of West Missouri.
33. , Bishop of Maryland.
34. , Bishop of Utah.
35. , Bishop of Nevada.
36. , Bishop of Minnesota.
37. , Retired Bishop of North Carolina.
38. , Bishop of Western North Carolina.
39. , Bishop of Northern Michigan.
40. , Interim Bishop of Montana and Retired Bishop Suffragan of Armed
41. , Bishop of Maine.
42. , Bishop of Nebraska.
43. , Bishop of Oregon.
44. , Bishop Taiwan.
45. , Bishop of Eastern Michigan.
46. , Retired Bishop of Mississippi.
47. , Bishop of Bethlehem.
48. , Resigned Bishop Suffragan of Virginia and Director of the
Office of Pastoral Development.
49. , Bishop of Arkansas.
50. , Bishop of Rochester.
51. , Bishop Suffragan of Long Island.
52. , Bishop of Litoral Ecuador.
53. , Resigned Bishop of Panama and Assisting Bishop of Southeast
54. , Bishop of Chicago.
55. , Bishop of Southwestern Virginia.
56. , Bishop Suffragan of Southern Ohio.
57. , Bishop Suffragan of Maryland.
58. , Bishop Suffragan of Connecticut.
59. , Retired Bishop of Iowa.
60. , Bishop Suffragan of New York.
61. , Bishop of Northwestern Pennsylvania.
62. , Bishop of Lexington.
63. , Resigned Bishop Suffragan of Panama, Assisting Bishop of Chicago.
64. , Bishop of Iowa.
65. , Bishop of Arizona.
66. , Bishop of Massachusetts.
67. , Bishop of El Camino Real.
68. , Bishop of Kansas.
69. , Bishop of Connecticut.
70. , Bishop of Missouri.
71. , Retired Bishop of Vermont.
72. , Bishop of California.
73. , Bishop Suffragan of Los Angeles.
74. , Retired Bishop of Delaware.
75. , Retired Bishop Suffragan of Pennsylvania.
76. , Retired Bishop of Southern Virginia.
77. , Bishop of Spokane.
78. , Bishop of Long Island.
79. , Retired Bishop of Connecticut.
80. , Bishop of Indianapolis.
81. , Retired Bishop Suffragan of North Carolina.
82. , Interim Director of Ethnic Ministries at the Episcopal Church
Center and Retired Bishop Suffragan of Ohio.
83. , Bishop of Colorado.
84. , Bishop of Delaware.

Those Who Abstained

1. , Retired Bishop of Los Angeles.
2. , Retired Bishop of West Missouri.
3. , Retired Bishop of Arkansas and Assisting Bishop of New York.
4. , Retired Bishop of New York.
5. , Retired Bishop of Southwest Florida.
6. , Bishop of Virginia.
7. , Retired Bishop of Southern Virginia.
8. , Retired Bishop of Nebraska.

Friday, May 19, 2006

It's all over now, Baby Blue?

You must leave now, take what you need, you think will last.
But whatever you wish to keep, you better grab it fast.
Yonder stands your orphan with his gun,
Crying like a fire in the sun.
Look out the saints are comin' through
And it's all over now, Baby Blue.

The highway is for gamblers, better use your sense.
Take what you have gathered from coincidence.
The empty-handed painter from your streets
Is drawing crazy patterns on your sheets.
This sky, too, is folding under you
And it's all over now, Baby Blue.

All your seasick sailors, they are rowing home.
All your reindeer armies, are all going home.
The lover who just walked out your door
Has taken all his blankets from the floor.
The carpet, too, is moving under you
And it's all over now, Baby Blue.

Leave your stepping stones behind, something calls for you.
Forget the dead you've left, they will not follow you.
The vagabond who's rapping at your door
Is standing in the clothes that you once wore.
Strike another match, go start anew
And it's all over now, Baby Blue.

Dylan 1965

Thursday, May 18, 2006

What's up with Snape. really?

Yeah, we have a lot of questions going around right now - was Iraq a good or bad thing, is illegal immigration good for America or not, are gas prices going to cause inflation or not, will the Chicago Cubs win the World Series or not, and the list goes on.

But really, when you think about it, isn't the real question whether Snape is good or bad? Want to see a room get wired? Want to see people who normally like each other suddenly get quite heated and over-wrought? Tell them Snape is evil or Snape is really Dumbledore's man and watch the explosions.

So, what's up with Snape, really?

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

HP Book Seven - Title Coming Soon?

Great letter from JK Rowling to one of her readers named Ryan. I've posted it here. In Ryan's letter to Jo he told her about some of his theories regarding Book 7. They were:

Harry is a Horcrux. RAB is Regulus Black. Dumbledore is not dead. Snape is good. Harry will succeed in destroying the remaining horcruxes but will be faced with a dilemma when he learns that he himself is one. Harry will be killed by Voldermort who will believe he has won, but then Neville Longbottom will step forward and finish the Dark Lord off once and for all.

Jo Rowling wrote "As for your theories, I'm certainly not laughing." So some of his theories may be correct - but which ones?


A history of Truro Parish

Truro Parish

A colonial parish of the Anglican Church in northern Virginia. It was created in 1732 when Hamilton Parish was divided along the Occoquan River and Bull Run. Truro Parish initially covered all of the land north of those rivers up to the Potomac, and westward all the way to the Blue Ridge Mountains at Ashby's Gap. The parish originally contained three churches: Occoquan (the parish seat), William Gunnell's, and a chapel "above Goose Creek". The exact locations of the second two are unknown, but the Occoquan church was later known as Pohick Church, which still stands. In 1733, work was started on a new church "near Michael Reagan's"; this became the present-day Falls Church.

On June 11, 1749, the parish was divided in two, with the newly-formed Cameron Parish constituting the portion north and west of Difficult Run and Popes Head Run. George Mason, author of the Virginia Articles that presaged the Bill of Rights, was elected to the parish vestry that year.

In 1753, the first church service at the new town of Alexandria was recorded.

George Washington was appointed to the vestry on October 25, 1762. His father, Augustine Washington, had served on the vestry for a few years, starting in 1735.

Truro Parish was further split on February 1, 1765. The new boundary was just south of Washington's estate, and the northern portion became Fairfax Parish, with The Falls Church as its seat. Parishoners of Truro, however, complained that the division was far more favorable to Fairfax Parish, and succeeded in having a new border drawn through Washington's estate.
Later churches included Payne's Church on Ox Road (1766), and replacements for The Falls Church (started in 1763, while it was still part of Truro Parish) and Pohick Church in 1767.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

"A school is a factory is a poem is a prison is academia is boredom, with flashes of panic."

One of my favorite writers is Joseph Brodsky.

He came to my mind this week. Joseph Brodsky was a Russian poet who was forced into exile by the Soviet government and he immigrated to the United States, later becoming an American citizen. “I’m the happiest combination you can think of," Brodsky said, after being awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. "I’m a Russian poet, an English essayist, and an American citizen!”

I remember the night I met Joseph Brodsky. I had gone to an evening reading where he was reading his poetry. I had taken my copy of his collected essays "Less Than One" for him to sign. After the reading I went up to him to get the book signed. People ahead of me all had their brand new copies of his books to sign and I realized - with some horror - that my copy was so worn from my constant reading and re-reading, full of underlined passages and my comments in the margins, it was nearly falling apart. It was bent and dogeared and I thought, oh my God, why didn't I have the sense to go get a new copy? But it was too late and suddenly it was my turn to face the poet.

I handed him my copy of Less Than One hoping he wouldn't be too insulted of what I had done to his book. I hung my head, expecting the worse. He was my favorite living poet. Look what I had done to his book.

He took my copy in his hands and turned it over and over and over again. I realized that others standing around were also watching and I wanted to disappear into the floor. What was he doing? Then he looked at me and smiled, really smiled. I was astonished. Why was he smiling? Finally, he opened to the first page, paused a moment, then wrote something more than his name.

"To Mary," he wrote, "from the man behind these words. Joseph Brodsky."

I didn't realize it until that moment, but I had paid him the highest compliment. He handed me back the book, laughing. I wasn't just a reader. I was his student.

I'll be writing more about Brodsky in the weeks ahead. In the meantime, you can learn more about him below and at at the links at the end of this post.


Joseph Brodsky (May 24, 1940 – January 28, 1996), born Iosif Aleksandrovich Brodsky (Russian: Ио́сиф Алекса́ндрович Бро́дский) was a poet and essayist who won the Nobel Prize in Literature (1987) and was chosen Poet Laureate of the United States (1991-1992).

BRODSKY, Joseph (1940-96), Russian-born poet and Nobel laureate, born in Saint Petersburg (then known as Leningrad). Deeply influenced by Russian and English literature, he began writing poetry in his late teens and became a protégé of Anna Akhmatova. He was denounced in the Soviet press in 1963. Arrested and tried as a "parasite" by the Soviet government in 1964, he was sentenced to five years in a labor camp but was released after less than two years because of international protests.

Expelled from the USSR in 1972, Brodsky settled in the U.S. and became a U.S. citizen in 1977. Writing in both Russian and English, his books of poetry include A Part of Speech (1980) and To Urania (1988); Watermark (1992) is a book of prose (a long essay on Venice). He has published two plays, Democracy! and Marbles. Less Than One (1986), a collection of essays, won a National Book Critics Circle award for criticism and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Award. His poetry has been published in twelve languages. In 1987 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in literature. He was chosen by the Library of Congress to serve as Poet Laureate of the United States in 1992. Joseph Brodsky was Andrew Mellon Professor of Literature at Mount Holyoke College, and resided in New York.