Monday, December 31, 2007
The "Hammersten Hierarchy of Human Behavior" Revisited
We do the things we do because we are:
Good to know that the #1 reason why people do what they do is because they are lazy and not because they are stupid.
But of course #1 reason we usually assume people do the things they are do (especially if we are upset about it) is because we think they are evil.
And the #1 reason we think we do the things we do is because we are altruistic.
We associate malevolent intentions by those we oppose and benevolent intentions by ourselves. Ah, but according to The HHHB, the #1 reason we do the things we do - we and our opponents - is because we are lazy. We didn't read the report. We missed the meeting. We watched football. We went to the Mall. We overslept. We weren't paying attention. We forgot to return the call. We didn't feel like it.
The #2 reason why people do the things they did is because they are stupid.
Yes, stupidity reigns. Surprised? Of course, we don't want to be the ones to say we are stupid - just them. But as Christians who are fallen it's apparent there is enough stupidity to go around. "I don't know," is a good example. Of course, it's hard to admit that, "I don't know," which makes us even stupider.
We can be foolish and we can be ignorant. In a global world where cultural blunders are simple to accomplish since we consistently wear cultural blinders, it's amazing we are not constantly at war because of our stupidity. Thank God for grace.
The third reason, according to The Hammersten Hierarchy of Human Behavior is because of malevolence - evil. It's often the first reason we jump to - especially in politics and religion. Those blasted Death Eaters. Evil does exist and how much of a percentage we want to attach to this third tier may either come from our experience or our mood - but often quite frankly, it's the #1 place we go to when our opponents are actually either lazy or stupid - how disappointing. Remember, Jesus understood this quite well, even as he was hanging on the cross, a moment of excruciating evil. But he looked upon those who had nailed him to the cross (and that would include us, for our sin put him there, didn't it?) and he said, "Father, forgive them, they don't know what they are doing." The phrase they don't know what they are doing is a very kind way of saying we're stupid. That has got to infuriate the devil - to see an outpouring of mercy from the One whom he's worked hard to see hatred burst out. Oh it burst out, all right, right out of the tomb. Oops.
On the other hand, according to the HHHB - evil does really exist. It's not cartoon "evil" - it's the real deal, the full enchilada, and it makes it into the hierarchy. Closing our eyes and wishing it away is not going to do it. How much of a percentage we assign it's place in the hierarchy may have to do with our theology - or our mood - but it's #3.
So before we jump to #3 or think about pretending #3 doesn't exist, shall we give each other the benefit of the doubt and realize that whom ever may have wronged us are probably lazy or stupid. Not exactly a joyful thought, but one that's probably closer to the truth.
Of course, there is #4 - altruism. It's a place we all want to live, but very few actually do. It's the Land of Oz before the Wicked Witch of the West shows up. It's the place we all want to go to when we want to publicly shame others, we feign #4 for ourselves - don't we? But isn't #4 decided by others, and not ourselves? It's like humility - if we think we are humble, we are definitely not.
You can read more on the "HHHB" here.
In the meantime, here's a little entertainment while we consider the news of the world:
Sunday, December 30, 2007
A Year in the Life documentary on J.K. Rowling is now online
Family Tree following the end of the series and illustrated by J.K. Rowling. And let's keep an eye on Albus Severus Potter, shall we?
Here's the opening paragraph to Week Three:
"This has been an historic session," announced the moderator Archbishop Robin Eames as he announced that Resolution 1.10 [or A 31] on Human Sexuality had passed by the margin of 526 for, 70 against, and 45 abstaining.
Indeed it was. And the outcome was hardly assured until the day itself, Wednesday, August 5. Despite pronouncements of "a spirit of unity descending" by the Lambeth Daily, there had been frantic backroom dealing, which was brought to a halt at the eleventh hour by George Carey, the Archbishop of Canterbury, whose "intervention" led to a landmark Resolution on Human Sexuality.
You know what is sort of interesting about that paragraph, besides, well, the obvious? It's the date: August 5. Exactly five years - to the day - later, The Episcopal Church would officially defy Lambeth 1.10.
Here is more from the Lambeth Diaries, August 5, 1998. It does indeed make for fascinating reading - this is not amateur hour, friends.
The Turning PointRead the whole thing here.
Integrity supporters arrived on Wednesday with smiles on their faces. The sexuality debate seemed doomed to deadlock. The revisionists had two things going for them. First, the printed "section" Resolution 1.10 was so bland that it could be easily spun as a signal to go ahead with the gay agenda. Secondly, the entire debate had been allotted two hours and there were six Resolutions.
Four of these Resolutions were "regional." To be sure, all the Resolutions were orthodox, and the two African ones were very strong, calling revisionists to repentance and speaking of the gay agenda as "evangelical suicide." Many of the Third World bishops were saying, "Let's pass them all." This was not likely to happen in a two hour Western-style debate. More likely, none would get a majority. Anticipating this possibility, the revisionists entered an Amendment (not printed and therefore something of a sleeper) that would have referred all the Resolutions to the Primates and the ACC. In effect, the Lambeth Conference, on a major matter of principle, would have abdicated responsibility in favor of a study commission. And we Americans know from "Continuing the Dialogue" how that works.
One further sidelight. The debate had originally been scheduled for 2:30 pm Wednesday but was then postponed until 3:30. This rattled conservatives because it was known that up to 90 Church Army bishops were leaving for London at 4 pm to see the Queen Mum, who turned 99 that day. Since most Church Army bishops are conservative, this looked like just one more ploy. As it turned out, the Church Army bishops stayed for the debate.
What happened next is only known in bare outline. Apparently, the Archbishop of Canterbury became aware of the switcheroo made by the Steering Committee. He also began to heed reports that African bishops were determined to pass a clear Resolution or else - and that the "or else" might include a walkout. Up to that point, the Archbishop had not been active in the debate. He has made it clear that he holds to traditional Christian teaching on sexuality and is deeply concerned for the unity of the Anglican Communion. These concerns apparently coalesced in such a way that by the Wednesday afternoon of the debate the Integrity folks were no longer smiling. The Archbishop had apparently insisted that the process should be set up so that the Conference might express its mind. This is what happened.
The sexuality debate was solemn and orderly. With a few exceptions. One Pakistani bishop went over the top suggesting that Lambeth 2008 would be asked to approve blessing of cat lovers and their pets. A Nigerian bishop afterward tried to lay hands on Richard Kirker, a homosexual advocate, to cure him of his addiction. The media of course picked up on these excesses. But the vast majority of speakers, such as Bishop Eustace Kaminyire of Uganda and Archbishop Donald Mtetemela of Tanzania, were measured and articulate. Bishop John Sentamu was particularly delightful as he extolled "the glories of abstinence." Archbishop Robin Eames conducted the session with clarity and dignity.
Delegates upon arrival received a clearly spelled out "Notice Paper," outlining their choices among Resolutions. In fact, the major shape of the final Resolution had already been crafted by a compromise among evangelical Westerners and the Africans. The printed Resolution was quickly replaced by A 31, which became the base point for a series of amendments.
The bellwether amendment came from Archbishop Mtetelema, which added the phrase "while rejecting homosexual practice as incompatible with Scripture." This amendment focused the concerns of the Africans about the whole issue. As they have said repeatedly, homosexuality is not their problem and they do not want to waste time talking about it. But they do care passionately for the authority of Scripture, and they saw the West, and the American Church in particular, as endangering this core principle.
To be honest, I was not sure, before I began to meet them in numbers this past year, whether the Third World bishops had the will to stand up and fight on the sexuality question. Some people feared, totally without warrant as it turns out, that they might be pressured into acquiescence out of financial dependence on the West. Just the opposite is true. They saw the issue threatening the Communion clearly, and they never wavered in their determination to speak to it. One of the African Resolutions, in my opinion, was the best of the lot because it saw the issue in biblical terms as involving sin and repentance.
And they were of one mind. The speakers for Resolution A 31 and the amendments to it were multi-cultural, whereas the speakers against were very white and hailed exclusively from the Western provinces. They later accused us American conservatives of buying votes with chicken barbecues. This is a demeaning accusation against the Third Word delegates, many of whom have put their lives on the line for the Gospel. Opponents who said this are not, in my opinion, racists, but they are cultural imperialists. They cannot believe that someone who holds to a straightforward biblical morality is either not "superstitious" (a la animism) or "fundamentalistic" (a la Islamic jihad).
Mtetemela's key amendment passed 390 to 190. After that, conservatives got two more victories. They amended "chastity" to "abstinence" in order to close the linguistic loophole. They also changed the condemnation of "homophobia" to a condemnation of "the irrational fear of homosexuals." I thought this was a particularly nice touch, suggested by the Africans. Finally, Bishop Richard Harries of Oxford spoke eloquently on behalf of the Kuala Lumpur Statement, and reference to it was added.
Those who opposed the amended Reolution never addressed the core principles of Scripture, or God's purposes for male and female. Their main arguments were that the Resolution threatened the unity of the Communion and sent negative signals to gays and lesbians. They did pass an amendment calling for the Church to listen to the experience of homosexual people (I assume this will include celibate and ex-gay people). When it came to a vote, there was remarkable unity - 526 for and only 70 against - to constitute what Archbishop Carey later called the "mind of the Church."
Saturday, December 29, 2007
A Year in the Life
Here's another inspiring excerpt from the documentary where Jo Rowling returns to the flat where, as a single mother on the dole, she started writing in ernest the Harry Potter series:
And here is an excerpt showing Jo Rowling as she finishes writing the very last chapter of the series last January at the Balmoral Hotel in Edinburgh:
Friday, December 28, 2007
So here is Ain't Talkin, Just Walkin' from Modern Times:
The sufferin’ is unending
Every nook and cranny has its tears
I’m not playing, I’m not pretending
I’m not nursin’ any superfluous fears
Ain’t talkin’, just walkin’
Walkin’ ever since the other night.
Heart burnin’, still yearnin’
Walkin’ ‘til I’m clean out of sight.
As I walked out in the mystic garden
On a hot summer day, a hot summer lawn
Excuse me, ma’am, I beg your pardon
There’s no one here, the gardener is gone
Ain’t talkin’, just walkin’
Up the road, around the bend.
Heart burnin’, still yearnin’
In the last outback at the world’s end.
Thursday, December 27, 2007
USA Today Book of the Year: You Guessed It!
This year's choice had to be the final Harry Potter book. The reasons are as varied as the different wizards' wands found in Diagon Alley. There were the numbers: Hallows sold a record-breaking 11.5 million copies in the USA during its first 10 days on sale in July. Then there was the pre-publication hysteria: Would Harry die? Could the world's children — and a lot of adults — handle it? Was an early version posted on the Web the real thing? (Yes.) Months after the book's publication, Rowling triggered controversy by revealing that Hogwarts headmaster Albus Dumbledore was gay. The blogosphere went wild. But none of that matters. Hallows is the book of the year because Rowling gave her story an ending that was as graceful, unpredictable and satisfying as the series itself. She reaffirmed that magic can exist when someone opens a great book and enters a world created from words on paper. She made us believe that the imagination — like her own little wizard, now all grown up — still lives.
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
"Yes, Virginia, there is a Division" - Time Magazine calls Episcopal Church split one of the top religious news stories of the year
The U.S. Episcopal Church and its parent, the Anglican Communion, continue disintegrating over the issue of gay Christians. Beyond the human cost of this slow-motion implosion — sparked by the Episcopal Church's decision to consecrate an openly gay bishop in 2003 and to accept same-sex unions — the nasty split has already hatched custody battles over church property: Courts are generally being asked to determine whether the conservative parishes seceding from Episcopalianism over the gay issue can take their buildings with them — or whether they belong to the Episcopal diocese. On a global scale, the battle is among the 79 million members of the Communion, who, in a recent count, appear to be almost equally divided over whether to continue to accept U.S. Episcopalians into the international Communion. Equally divided, that is, if you're talking strictly about proportions of the Communion's 38 provinces. By another measure, a majority of believers are on the conservative side, and a majority of the money is on the liberal side. A mess.
BREAKING NEWS: Jerusalem 2008
"The conference will deliberately be inviting bishops and clergy, laity and future leaders," one of the conference organizers told me today. "Women and laity and youth will be very present." That is good news, indeed!
The conference reminds me a lot of this one in November 2005. While that was an American conference, specifically aimed at the situation in the United States and Canada, this conference in Jerusalem is focused internationally.
I do have some issues about it, including that the bishops are the ones doing the inviting and it will be important to see how that process works out. It is not clear how the bishops will determine what laity (men and women) and clergy (men and women) will be invited. We put that on the top of the prayer list. It could be that they don't know either! So this is a time to pray, that the Lord will be clear not only on who should be invited, but how they should be invited. It is important that such a conference has the confidence of the laity.
One of the hallmarks of renewal is the turning upside down of traditional structures while standing firm for the faith of Jesus Christ (in direct opposition to the progressive view of turning the faith upside down while standing firm for traditional structures). The DNA of our parent Church is in us and to decide at this point to raise up leadership from the bottom up rather than the top down must be intentional (and done with prayer and discernment, not just because it's provocative). The history of "continuing Anglicans" is fraught with bishop-centered organizations. The Anglican faith is not centered on bishops for its identity - at least not in Virginia. This is an important juncture in this journey.
That being said, this list of bishops is filled with men who have put their lives on the line for the Gospel. This is a crucial time for prayer and discernment, to pause to pray, and then pray again. And then again. This is the Lord's work.
We'll be getting more info on Jerusalem 2008 so stay tuned.
Here's the news release:
Orthodox Primates with other leading bishops from across the globe are to invite fellow Bishops, senior clergy and laity from every province of the Anglican Communion to a unique eight-day event, to be known as the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) 2008.
The event, which was agreed at a meeting of Primates in Nairobi last week, will be in the form of a pilgrimage back to the roots of the Church’s faith. The Holy Land is the planned venue. From 15–22 June 2008, Anglicans from both the Evangelical and Anglo-catholic wings of the church will make pilgrimage to the Holy Land, where Christ was born, ministered, died, rose again, ascended into heaven, sent his Holy Spirit, and where the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out, to strengthen them for what they believe will be difficult days ahead.
At the meeting were Archbishops Peter Akinola (Nigeria), Henry Orombi (Uganda), Emmanuel Kolini (Rwanda), Benjamin Nzimbi (Kenya), Donald Mtetemela (Tanzania), Peter Jensen (Sydney), Nicholas Okoh (Nigeria); Bishop Don Harvey (Canada), Bishop Bill Atwood (Kenya) representing Archbishop Greg Venables (Southern Cone) , Bishop Bob Duncan (Anglican Communion Network), Bishop Martyn Minns (Convocation of Anglicans in North America ), Canon Dr Vinay Samuel (India and England) and Canon Dr Chris Sugden (England). Bishops Michael Nazir-Ali (Rochester, England), Bishop Wallace Benn (Lewes, England) were consulted by telephone. These leaders represent over 30 million of the 55 million active Anglicans in the world.
Southern Cone Primate Gregory Venables said: “While there are many calls for shared mission, it clearly must rise from common shared faith. Our pastoral responsibility to the people that we lead is now to provide the opportunity to come together around the central and unchanging tenets of the central and unchanging historic Anglican faith. Rather than being subject to the continued chaos and compromise that have dramatically impeded Anglican mission, GAFCON will seek to clarify God’s call at this time and build a network of cooperation for Global mission.”
The gathering set in motion a Global Anglican Future Conference: A Gospel of Power and Transformation. The vision, according to Archbishop Nzimbi is to inform and inspire invited leaders “to seek transformation in our own lives and help impact communities and societies through the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ”. Bishops and their wives, clergy and laity, including the next generation of young leaders will attend GAFCON. The GAFCON website is www.gafcon.org.
Canon Chris Sugden added: “While this conference is not a specific challenge to the Lambeth Conference, it will provide opportunities for fellowship and care for those who have decided not to attend Lambeth. There was no other place to meet at this critical time for the future of the Church than in the Holy Land.”
Tuesday, December 25, 2007
Monday, December 24, 2007
You can see other video captures of Santa from NORAD here. Just heard on the news he's just let Brazil. The video above is a video capture of Santa in London earlier tonight. When I was a kid my brother and I used to listen to WCBS out of New York City track Santa until we fell asleep. Merry Christmas!
Oh - and Sarah, Cienna, Becky, Joel, Sean, Johnny, Christiann, Lelana, and William - go to sleep!
Want to do something very special this Christmas - it's not too late! Five Talents' mission is to fight poverty, create jobs and transform lives by empowering the poor in developing countries using innovative savings and microcredit programs, business training and spiritual development. We enthusiastically support Five Talents here at the Cafe. Learn more about their great work here and here. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, is the principal patron of Five Talents:
Don't wait - contact Craig Cole, Executive Director of Five Talents. Give the gift of hope.
More on the Filing of the Virginia Post-Trial Briefs
FAIRFAX, Va. (December 21, 2007) – The 11 Anglican District of Virginia (ADV) churches filed a brief in the Fairfax County Circuit Court regarding the Multi-Circuit Property Litigation. The brief explains the validity of the Virginia Division Statute (Va. Code § 57-9) in determining that the Virginia congregations are entitled to keep their church property due to the division within The Episcopal Church, the Diocese of Virginia, and the Anglican Communion. (Case No. CL-2007-0248724)
“As our brief today explains, the evidence at the trial strongly demonstrated that our congregations have satisfied each of the core requirements of this law. There has been a ‘division’ in The Episcopal Church, the Diocese of Virginia (“Diocese”), and the worldwide Anglican Communion, and our congregations have joined a ‘branch’ of the divided body created as a result of that division,” said Jim Oakes, Vice-Chairman of the Anglican District of Virginia.
“This division occurred as a result of The Episcopal Church and the Diocese separating themselves from the historic Christian faith by deciding to reinterpret Scripture on a number of different issues. Although the reasons for the division involve important issues of biblical truth, the existence and effects of the division are plain and evident for all to see, without regard to religion.
“The evidence also showed that this law was applied no less than 29 times to recognize the legal rights of congregations to keep their property. Over the years, the Virginia General Assembly has made various amendments to the Virginia Code as it relates to religious organizations, but it has not seen fit to narrow or repeal the Division Statute. The General Assembly continues to believe that when congregations separate from a denomination, the neutral and objective principle of majority rule should govern ownership of property. In addition, The Episcopal Church admitted in its complaint that it does not hold title to any of these eleven churches, and that the churches’ own trustees hold title for the benefit of the congregations.
“As the Global South Primates said in 2004, The Episcopal Church has ‘willfully torn the fabric of the communion at its deepest level and as a consequence openly cut themselves adrift.’ We are sorry that The Episcopal Church has moved away from the historic teachings of the church, but we should not be forced to go with them,” said Oakes.
The Anglican District of Virginia (www.anglicandistrictofvirginia.org) is an association of Anglican congregations in Virginia. Its members are in full communion with constituent members of the Anglican Communion through its affiliation with the Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA), a missionary branch of the Church of Nigeria and other Anglican Archbishops. ADV members are a part of the worldwide Anglican Communion, a community of 77 million people. ADV is dedicated to fulfilling Christ’s Great Commission to make disciples while actively serving in three main capacities: International Ministries, Evangelism, and Strengthening Families and Community. ADV is currently comprised of 21 member congregations.
Sunday, December 23, 2007
Saturday, December 22, 2007
Another Dramatic Reading: The Episcopal Church issues an Ad
The latest BabyBlue Podcast is now up. It features a dramatic reading of the latest ad issued by The Episcopal Church for major newspapers in California. But of course, there's nothing wrong.
You can click on the player above or go to iTunes and download it to your iPod or computer. The iTunes Podcast is called BabyBlueOnline. You can also click here.
NOTE: To download the latest version of QuickTime, click here.
Bishop of the Diocese of San Joaquin responds to the Presiding Bishop
This year the delegates to the Annual Convention came fully cognizant of what has taken place in Virginia and Southern California where litigation has been pursued vigorously against those who oppose the innovations of The Episcopal Church and who, consequently, have stood up for their faith and remain protective of the property they have built, purchased and maintained with no help either from The Episcopal Church on a national level nor –in most instances– from the local diocese either.
The people of The Diocese of San Joaquin came to the Convention fully aware that years of meetings with the leaders of The Episcopal Church have accomplished little or nothing.
They came fully aware, too, that at the meeting of the House of Bishops in New Orleans this past September a last minute attempt to provide some semblance of oversight was proposed. The sad thing was that those most affected by the innovations of The Episcopal Church had no part in this proposal and to this very day have never seen what such a plan involves. It is true that the vote on Saturday December 8 protest, but it was much more than this. To understand December 8th's vote as a protest only would be to misunderstand the courage of the people within the Diocese of San Joaquin.
They were saying that no matter what the consequences, they take a stand for a clear reading of Scripture, the faith that The Episcopal Church first received - but from which it has departed - and for Catholic Order within the Anglican Communion. Truly, the vote was for their bishop and diocese to remain in the Anglican Communion with the fullness of the heritage we have received as a part of that worldwide body. Once again, it was much more than this.
It was an expression of profound gratitude to the Global South who have expressed support in many ways and more specifically to the Primate of the Southern Cone, his House of Bishops and their Provincial Synod for their understanding of our plight - along with that of many others within The Episcopal Church - and their willingness to offer a place of refuge.
Their offer, as you know, was conditional until such time as The Episcopal Church repents of those decisions and actions that have caused a rift in the wider Anglican Communion.
On the very day your letter arrived asking for clarification, the Advent Letter of the Archbishop of Canterbury was received. In it he pointed out clearly the distress in many parts of the Anglican Communion caused by the unilateral actions of The Episcopal Church.
In his own words he fully understands that "A scheme has been outlined for the pastoral care of those who do not accept the majority view in TEC, but the detail of any consultation or involvement with other provinces as to how this might best work remains to be filled out and what has been proposed does not so far seem to have commanded the full confidence of those most affected." He continues: "Furthermore, serious concerns remain about the risks of spiralling disputes before the secular courts, although the Dar- es-Salaam communique expressed profound disquietude on this matter, addressed to all parties."
Giving thought to the future, the Archbishop makes reference to the upcoming Lambeth Conference during which he trusts: "Whatever happens, we are bound to seek the fruitful ways of carrying forward liaison with provinces whose policies cause scandal or difficulty to others."
Ultimately, then, it is the Archbishop's proposal for a course of action in the months ahead that may affect my status. Since everything that the Diocese of San Joaquin has done, it has done with an eye toward remaining Anglican and in communion with the Archbishop of Canterbury, his proposal should naturally take precedence.
Read the whole thing here.
Tony Blair Leaves the Church of England for Rome
PM UPDATE: Interesting article just posted at the London Telegraph entitled: "Britain has become a 'Catholic Country' which you can read here.
"Roman Catholics have overtaken Anglicans as the country's dominant religious group. More people attend Mass every Sunday than worship with the Church of England, figures seen by The Sunday Telegraph show.
This means that the established Church has lost its place as the nation's most popular Christian denomination after more than four centuries of unrivalled influence following the Reformation.
Last night, leading figures gave warning that the Church of England could become a minority faith and that the findings should act as a wake-up call.
Read it all here.
BB NOTE: We used to use this analogy in the pro-life movement years ago: Let's say you are standing on the shore of a river and you see a little baby floating by in the river, what would you do? You'd go in and save the little one. Then as soon as you've saved that baby, another baby goes floating by so of course, you dive back in and save that baby. But as soon as you are back to shore you turn around and there are more babies floating by in the river and they just keep coming and coming and coming. What do you do now? Well, one would hope you would go up river and see what the hell is going on.
Tony Blair has left the Anglican Church and become a Roman Catholic. It has been no secret that one of the major bonds between him and the President of the United States has been their Christian faith. It hasn't just been a religion of the head, but a faith of the heart. While it's also been no secret that this change was coming, it still is a very public illustration that many, many faithful Anglicans and Episcopalians are turning to the Roman Catholic Church.
When Frank Griswold was Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church (and perhaps going back to Edmond Browning his predecessor as well) there was a move away from The Episcopal Church being the "bridge" church between the Roman Catholic and Protestant denominations. The whole "The Episcopal Church Welcomes You" Campaign was one of those grand efforts to show that the Episcopal Church was a bridge church between the denominations. All baptized Christians are welcome at the Eucharist in the Episcopal Church (in the Roman Catholic Church you must be confirmed Catholic and most Protestant Churches are not eucharistically centered).
But in the campaign (which followed a clarification in the canons that the Church would count all baptized members, not confirmed members) you do not have to be Episcopalian to be a member of an Episcopal Church, i.e., be welcome at the Table. You must be an Episcopalian to hold office, but not to be a member. The idea is that this would open the doors to Roman Catholics who might be in search of a church home where they would be welcomed not only at the Table but to remarry and remain a full-contributing member in church life.
One of the hallmarks of the charismatic renewal in the Episcopal Church (which might differentiate us from our Church of England brothers and sisters) has been the re-emphasis on weekly Sunday Eucharist or the Lord's Supper in the "renewed" churches - a major step for low-church evangelicals who historically have focused Sunday worship on Morning Prayer. As non-Episcopalian Protestants came in to the Episcopal Church through renewal, they discovered the mystery and the Spirit-filled experience of Eucharistic worship. And for Roman Catholics in exile, they found a familiar home of liturgical worship but with an emphasis on biblical preaching and dynamic music.
But the emphasis coming from 815 was that the Episcopal Church would be "Catholic-lite." It would have all the outer garments of the Roman Catholic Church but sans the stringent dogma, or so they said. This was to be liberating.
But it appears that it had the opposite affect.
In my home parish it has been an interesting journey to walk through with close friends who have made the decision to become Roman Catholics. They have challenged my assumptions enough to where I can see that there is perhaps more that unites us on some substantial points of doctrine than we have with The Episcopal Church (and hence, a major reason why we have separated).
I also learned, through a remarkable and frank conversation I had with the former Bishop of the Rio Grande, is that many Episcopalians have prayed hard and longed fervently that there would be reunion with Rome one day and the Episcopal Church would be an instrument in that work.
I pray for unity, but I have never thought about it in terms of a "reunion" as much as a "re-federation," that one day we would be able to worship in each others churches interchangeably not based on common structures, but on our common Christian faith.
It really wasn't until I sat down and talked with Bishop Steenson this past September in New Orleans that I began to more fully grasp the longing that many Episcopalians have for reunion, that they pray fervently for reunion because in fact, schism is sin. The Episcopal Church was to be an instrument of God in healing that division.
When they came to the conclusion that the Episcopal Church would never do that, they realized that they are the ones out in exile and have now gone home. For the first time, I understood that better in my heart.
We know about the high-profile leaders like Bishop Steenson, Bishop Hertzog, and Bishop Pope who have left TEC for Rome. Now we learn that Tony Blair, having retired as Prime Minister, has joined them. We know there are other high-profile leaders who are fixing the do the same thing. Are these just isolated experiences, or do they mean something more?
It turns out, it seems, that Catholic bishops and priests are among those who stand on the river bank and rescuing believers from drowning. And there are others standing by the river, including a few Anglican Archbishops as well.
But why are so many in the river? Perhaps we should - if we haven't all ready - go up-river and find out.
Former prime minister Tony Blair has left the Anglican Church to become a Roman Catholic.Read the whole thing here.
His wife and children are already Catholic and there had been speculation he would convert after leaving office.
Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor, who led the service to welcome Mr Blair, said he was "very glad" to do so.
Last year, Mr Blair, who is now a Middle East peace envoy, said he had prayed to God when deciding whether or not to send UK troops into Iraq.
And one of Mr Blair's final official trips while prime minister was a visit to the Vatican in June where he met Pope Benedict XVI.
Mr Blair was received into full communion with the Catholic Church during Mass at Archbishop's House, Westminster, on Friday.
Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor, who is the head of Catholics in England and Wales, said: "I am very glad to welcome Tony Blair into the Catholic Church.
"For a long time he has been a regular worshipper at Mass with his family and in recent months he has been following a programme of formation to prepare for his reception into full communion.
"My prayers are with him, his wife and family at this joyful moment in their journey of faith together."
The Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams, leader of the Anglican church, wished the former prime minister well in his spiritual journey.
He said: "Tony Blair has my prayers and good wishes as he takes this step in his Christian pilgrimage."
...Mr Blair's ex-spokesman, Alastair Campbell, once famously told reporters "We don't do God," but has since said that his former boss "does do God in quite a big way".
Mr Blair last year told ITV1 chat show host Michael Parkinson he had prayed while deciding whether to send troops into Iraq.
"In the end, there is a judgement that, I think if you have faith about these things, you realise that judgement is made by other people... and if you believe in God, it's made by God as well," he said.
Not The Inner Glow That Is the Divine We in All and All. Not The Harmonic Feng Shui Cosmic Power. Not even The Great Big Idea. But Jesus, my Redeemer and the Savior of the world. -Isaiah 9:6
Friday, December 21, 2007
The Division of The Episcopal Church: First Post-Trial Briefs Filed Today
The Opposition Briefs (which respond to the arguments made in each of the briefs filed today with Judge Randy Bellows) are due on January 11, 2007. The Reply Briefs will follow on January 17, 2007. Following that date we can expect a ruling on this historic case.
Here is an excerpt from Section IV of the Post-Trial Brief (pg. 49-60):
IV. The CANA Congregations Have Independently Satisfied the Requirements of Virginia Code § 57-9 By Establishing The Existence Of A Division In The Worldwide Anglican Communion And The Existence Of Branches Resulting From That Division.
The CANA Congregations proved at trial the existence of divisions not only in TEC and the Diocese, but also in the worldwide Anglican Communion. In Part IV.A, we explain that the division in the Anglican Communion is evidenced by 2005 amendments to the Church of Nigeria’s constitution, which ended that church’s legal and structural relationship with TEC; by official statements of “broken” and “impaired” communion promulgated by multiple Anglican Provinces; and by a number of other official pronouncements from various organs of the Anglican Communion, all recognizing the existence of this international division. In Part IV.B., we explain that the result of this division is the existence of two branches of the Anglican Communion—those who continue relating to all Provinces that relate to the See of Canterbury, and those who have cut off their relationship with TEC and relate only to Provinces that are viewed as adherents to the historic Anglican faith. In Part IV.C, we explain that the Anglican Communion is a “church” or “religious society” within the ordinary meaning of those terms. And in Part IV.D., we explain that prior to their votes the CANA Congregations were, through their affiliation with TEC and the Diocese, “attached” to the Anglican Communion.
A. The CANA Congregations Have Demonstrated that a “Division” Has Occurred in the Anglican Communion.
The evidence presented at trial independently demonstrates that there has been a “division” in the Anglican Communion. See Sept. 14, 2007, Tr. 41 (directing the parties to address whether “there [is] a division within the Anglican Communion”).
The division in the Anglican Communion is most decisively demonstrated by the 2005 amendments to the Constitution of the Church of Nigeria, which redefine the Church of Nigeria’s legal and structural relationships to other provinces of the Anglican Communion. Registrar Abraham Yisa, the constitutionally elected chief legal advisor to the entire Church of Nigeria (Tr. 544-45), testified at trial that the Church of Nigeria amended its Constitution in 2005 to redefine its relationship to other provinces the Anglican Communion (Tr. 582-84). Registrar Yisa testified that these 2005 amendments changed the legal, structural, and functional relationship between the Church of Nigeria and other Provinces of the Anglican Communion. Tr. 582-84; 590-97.
Prior to 2005, the Church of Nigeria Constitution defined the Church’s legal relationship to the Anglican Communion in terms of its relationship to the See (the Archbishop) of Canterbury, by stating that “[t]he Church of Nigeria shall be in full communion with the See of Canterbury and with all dioceses, provinces and regional churches which are in full communion with the See of Canterbury.” Tr. 585 (Yisa). The 2005 amendments altered the Church’s relationship to the Anglican Communion, changing the relevant sections of the Constitution to provide that “[t]he Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) . . . shall be in full communion with Anglican Dioceses and Provinces that hold and maintain the historic faith, doctrine, sacrament and discipline of the One Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church as the Lord has commanded in His holy word and as the same are received as taught in the Book of Common Prayer and the ordinal of 1662, and in the 39 Articles of Religion.” Tr. 584-85 (Yisa). As a result, the Church of Nigeria’s constitutional, legal, and structural relationship to the Anglican Communion and to other Anglican Communion Provinces “did not have to be through the See of Canterbury, but that the Church of Nigeria could be in communion with all of those Anglican dioceses, provinces and churches that share the same historical view, the historical faith with Nigeria.” Tr. 585 (Yisa).
A second 2005 amendment to the Constitution gave the General Synod of the Church of Nigeria the constitutional power “to create convocations, chaplaincies of like-minded faith outside Nigeria, and to appoint persons within or outside Nigeria to administer them, and the Primate shall give Episcopal oversight.” Tr. 587 (Yisa). This amendment was designed to “put structures” in place that would “enable the Primate [of the Church of Nigeria] to give Episcopal oversight” to “congregations in America.” Tr. 587 (Yisa). “The amendment now allowed the Church of Nigeria to—Synod in particular—to create convocations outside Church of Nigeria.” Tr. 589 (Yisa).
Similarly, a third 2005 amendment defines the term convocation: “Convocation shall mean non-geographic connection of churches and mission.” Tr. 590 (Yisa). These two constitutional amendments were specifically adopted in order to provide a proper constitutional and legal basis for the establishment of CANA. Tr. 592-93, 609-13 (Yisa).
Registrar Yisa testified that all of these 2005 amendments were essentially structural in character and changed the constitutional structure of the Church of Nigeria. Tr. 590-91. He testified that they were proposed in response to the actions of TEC at its General Convention 2003, Tr. 590, and that they were “necessitated” to effectuate “the resolution of the [Church of Nigeria’s General] Synod that broke communion with ECUSA.” Tr. 584. The primary and immediate purpose of these amendments was to redefine the legal relationships between the Church of Nigeria and TEC, Tr. 585-86, 590-91 (Yisa), and between the Church of Nigeria and other Anglican provinces, Tr. 585-86 (Yisa), as well as to permit the establishment of CANA, Tr. 592-93; 609-13 (Yisa).26 Professor Douglas acknowledged that this change “altered the relationship between the Church of Nigeria and the Episcopal Church.” Tr. 950-51 (Douglas).
The Church of Nigeria resolution that broke communion with TEC was likewise structural in nature: it was initially adopted by the Episcopal Synod (the House of Bishops) of the Church, and then reported to the General Synod (the general legislative body) of the Church, which received it and took further actions on it, including amending the Church’s Constitution and providing for the establishment of CANA. Tr. 557-61 (Yisa). As Professor Douglas acknowledged in response to a question from the Court: “a province declaring that it was out of communion with another province” is “the most severe action one province could take to disassociate itself from another province”—“the most severe declaration it could do.” Tr. 993-94. He further acknowledged that statements of “broken communion” have become “common parlance as of late,” but that “previous to 2003 and in the ‘80s that was not the language that was used to discuss the tensions and relationships between the Churches of the Anglican Communion.” Tr. 999-1000.
This resolution of broken communion with another province of the Anglican Communion also has a major practical impact. It “means that a number of things like the fellowship, exchange of visits by our clergy, by the Primates, training programs, retreats, workshops, indeed financial assistance in some cases were no longer there.” Tr. 591-92 (Yisa). Thus, for example, the Church of Nigeria no longer receives financial contributions from TEC, has refused such contributions when offered, and no longer has exchanges of Bishops with TEC. Tr. 592 (Yisa).
The resolution of broken communion also reflected and implemented the departure of existing congregations and clergy (including Nigerian ex-patriots) resident in the United States that had been under the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of TEC and then came under the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of CANA. Tr. 596-97 (Yisa). Here again, as Professor Douglas acknowledged, “[i]f one church or the other functioned as if they had no relationship with another church in the Anglican Communion,” that would “evidence a division of the Anglican Communion.” Tr. 960:4-10. That is precisely what has occurred between TEC and the Church of Nigerian.
The Church of Nigeria was not alone in declaring itself to be in broken or impaired communion with TEC as a result of the actions of TEC at its 2003 General Convention. In his capacity as a member of the Anglican Consultative Council, Registrar Yisa was aware of a number of other Provinces—including the Anglican Provinces of Uganda, Kenya, the West Indies, and Southern Cone—that have done the same. Tr. 597-602. The Windsor Report of the Lambeth Commission on Communion also recognizes numerous declarations of broken or impaired communion CANA Cong. Exh. 61 at 19 & n.17 (The Report of the Lambeth Commission on Communion (the “Windsor Report”)).
The legal and practical implications of these declarations are much the same as for the Church of Nigeria. Tr. 591-92 (Yisa). Such Provinces “cannot share fellowship, ministry, Eucharist or gifts.” Tr. 601 (Yisa). Mr. Yisa testified, based upon his experience as Registrar of the Church of Nigeria and as a voting member of the Anglican Consultative Council, that there has never before been any division in the Anglican Communion comparable to the division caused by the 2003 TEC General Convention. Tr. 613. Professor Douglas’ testimony was much to the same effect. Tr. 998-1000.
Finally, the division in the Anglican Communion is evidenced by statements from various organs of the Anglican Communion, TEC, and the Diocese, all recognizing or referring to the division in various ways. For example, the Primates of the Anglican Communion, at their emergency meeting in the fall of 2003, issued a unanimous joint communiqué that the actions of TEC in 2003 would result in “tearing the fabric of the Communion at its deepest level.” Tr. 336 (Minns); Tr. 468 (Yates). Similarly, the eighteen Anglican Primates of the Global South issued a Communiqué from their meeting in Nairobi, Kenya in 2004, stating the TEC “has willfully torn ‘the fabric of the Communion at its deepest level,’ and as a consequence openly cut themselves adrift and broken the sacramental fellowship of the Communion.” Tr. 335-336 (Minns).
Following the mandate of the 2003 Anglican Primates Meeting, the Windsor Report acknowledged that the actions of the TEC 2003 General Convention “have uncovered major divisions throughout the Anglican Communion” and stated that “[t]hose divisions have been obvious at several levels of Anglican life: between provinces, between dioceses and between individual Anglican clergy and laity.” CANA Cong. Exh. 61 at 4. The Windsor Report recommended, and the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) implemented, the withdrawal of the representatives of TEC from the ACC at least until the 2008 Lambeth Conference. Tr. 627-629 (Yisa). As Registrar Yisa explained, these actions are yet another indicator of the division within the Anglican Communion, as well as an attempt by the Communion to try to find solutions to this brokenness. Tr. 629.
B. The CANA Congregations Have Established that the Church of Nigeria Is A “Branch” of the Anglican Communion that Has Divided From the Episcopal Church.
As a result of these recent changes, the Anglican Communion is now divided into two “branches”—those that relate to all provinces that relate to the See of Canterbury, and those that relate only to those who are understood as adhering to the historic faith, doctrine, and discipline of the Anglican Communion. See Sept. 14, 2007, Tr. 41 (directing the parties to address the branch issue at the Anglican Communion level). The Church of Nigeria, with which the CANA Congregations have affiliated, is the principal leader of this new branch. Tr. 363-64, 372-74 (Minns); Tr. 639-40 (Yisa). Indeed, TEC Presiding Bishop Schori herself referred to CANA as a distinct “part” or “branch of the Anglican Communion” repeatedly in her deposition. Schori Dep, Designations 54-56, 79, 83. The evidence at trial thus independently satisfied the “branch” requirement of § 57-9 at the Anglican Communion level.
C. The CANA Congregations Have Established that the Anglican Communion Is a “Church” or “Religious Society.”
The evidence at trial also established that the Anglican Communion is a “church” or a “religious society” within the meaning of § 57-9. See Sept. 14, 2007, Tr. 40 (directing the parties to address whether “the Anglican Communion [is] a church or religious society” and whether a “religious society” “include[s] a non-hierarchical loose affiliation of religious entities”).27
As an initial matter, the common definition of “church” is simply “a particular Christian organization with its own distinctive doctrines,”28 or “a body or organization of religious believers: as a: the whole body of Christians[,] b: denomination
In an attempt to avoid these plain meanings of “church,” TEC attempts to add new and unnecessary elements to its definition of that term. Thus, Professor Mullin would require not only the existence of common doctrines, but also formally agreed-upon rules of worship, liturgy, ordination, and discipline that are legally binding on all individual members of the organization. Tr. 1029-30. Professor Mullin provides no authority for his personal definition of a church. Tr. 1029:19-1030:14 (“it seems to me that a church—the word church in—has three very different parlances”). He bases it primarily on minor variances in the liturgy of the Book of Common Prayer, as adopted by different provinces of the Anglican Communion (Tr. 1030:18-1031:6), ignoring the fact that the Preamble to TEC’s own Constitution expressly recognizes the use of the Book of Common Prayer, even with provincial variations, as a key defining and unifying element of the Anglican Communion.
The CANA Congregations likewise established that the Anglican Communion constitutes a “religious society” for purposes of §57-9. The term “religious society” is not defined in §57-9, or in relevant historical or modern dictionaries. The term “society” is familiar, however, commonly defined in the 19th century as “[a] number of persons associated for any temporary or permanent objects,”31 and in modern dictionaries as “an enduring and cooperating social group whose members have developed organized patterns of relationships through interaction with one another.”32 Indeed, the terms “society,” “association,” and “fellowship” are all synonyms.33 A religious society is thus an association, fellowship, or group that has a religious nature or purpose.
There was abundant evidence at trial that the Anglican Communion is a fellowship, association, or society of churches—i.e., a religious society. The Preamble to the TEC Constitution defines the Anglican Communion as “a Fellowship within the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church, of those duly constituted Dioceses, Provinces, and regional Churches.” Moreover, both TEC expert witnesses expressly agreed that the Anglican Communion is a “fellowship of churches.”34 Professor Douglas further acknowledged that the Anglican Communion is an enduring group whose members have developed organized patterns of relationships through their shared history and other interactions with one another, mirroring the modern dictionary definition of “society.” Tr. 908:21-910:4. Indeed, Professor Douglas’ primary concern with the terms “fellowship,” “association,” “society,” and group was not that they are inaccurate, but that he prefers to use stronger terms, such as “family,” to describe the nature of communion. Tr. 916:4–918:17. To him, terms such as “association” and “fellowship” and “society” “impl[y] a much looser kind of federation or voluntary association that doesn’t get at the historic DNA and relationship as a family of churches.” Tr. 912:19-21. As such a society, fellowship, association, group, or family of churches, the Anglican Communion clearly constitutes a “religious society” within the meaning of § 57-9.
D. The CANA Congregations Were “Attached” to the Anglican Communion
The evidence also establishes that prior to their votes in 2006 and 2007, the CANA Congregations were, by virtue of their affiliation with TEC and the Diocese, “attached” to the Anglican Communion within the meaning of §57-9. See Sept. 14, 2007, Tr. 41 (directing the parties to address whether “the departing churches [were] attached to the Anglican Communion”).35
The word “attached” is not defined in §57-9, and therefore must be given its common meaning. That meaning, according to both 19th century and modern dictionaries, is simple: “to connect, in a figurative sense”,36 “[t]o connect as an adjunct or associated condition or part”; or “[t]o bind by emotional ties, as of affection or loyalty.”37
Applying these common meanings demonstrates that the CANA Congregations were attached to the Anglican Communion—they were connected, in a figurative sense, through their affiliation with TEC and the Diocese, as well as by “bonds of affection” that characterize the communion of individual Anglicans and of their churches with the broader Anglican Communion. 38
TEC and the Diocese have admitted that the CANA Congregations were all “attached” to the Diocese and, through the Diocese, to TEC. Professor Douglas testified that a congregation’s attachment to TEC is an indirect one, mediated through the congregation’s relationship with a diocese.39 It is undisputed that at all times that the CANA Congregations were attached to the Diocese and to TEC. Moreover, the Preamble to the TEC Constitution states that TEC is a “constituent member” of the Anglican Communion.40 Accordingly, the CANA Congregations were no less “attached” to the Anglican Communion than they were to TEC. In this regard, the CANA Congregations’ attachment to the Anglican Communion while affiliated with the Diocese and TEC parallels their current attachment to the Anglican Communion through CANA and the Church of Nigeria.41
Thus the plain meaning of “attached” as well as its use within § 57-9 both establish that the CANA Congregations were “attached” to the Anglican Communion within the meaning of § 57-9. See Sept. 14, 2007, Tr. 39 (directing the parties to address the “question[s], does a church have to be hierarchical to be subject to 57-9(A)” and “in order to be attached . . . to a church or religious society, does a local church have to be subordinate to or controlled by a national church or religious society”).
In summary, the CANA Congregations have provided three separate grounds on which the Court may find the requirements of Va. Code §57-9 to have been satisfied: the division in the Episcopal Church, the division in Diocese of Virginia, and the division in the worldwide Anglican Communion.
NOTES: 25 Fifteen of these 20 congregations are former Diocese of Virginia congregations who joined ADV as “complete congregations.” Tr. 698 (Allison). Eleven of these 15 congregations (the parties to this lawsuit) are also affiliated with CANA, and four of them are also affiliated with the Church of Uganda’s American arm (an arrangement approved by the Primates of the Church of Nigeria and the Church of Uganda). Tr. 699-701 (Allison). Of the other five congregations, one came from another TEC diocese in Virginia and four are “church plants,” or “new churches.” Tr. 699-700 (Allison). Even these four new churches, however, are led by former TEC clergy and “[v]irtually all” of their members came from TEC. Tr. 697-98 (Allison). 26 As the primary author of those 2005 amendments and the undisputed authority regarding the Constitution of the Church of Nigeria (Tr. 550-551; 590), Mr. Yisa’s explanation of these amendments and their legal, structural, and practical effects must be controlling. TEC expert Douglas acknowledged that the Church of Nigeria is the primary interpreter of its Constitution and that TEC does not have any authority to interpret that Constitution or to determine its meaning and effect. Tr. 940-942. Indeed, to the extent that Professor Douglas offered any opinion regarding these amendments and their meaning and effect, he did so without having reviewed the Constitution or the amendments, but rather based entirely upon having “read press releases in I guess it was 2006, summer” that mentioned the changes to the Constitution. Tr. 941:13–942:5. 27 It is undisputed that both TEC and the Diocese are a “church” or “religious society” within the meaning of § 57-9. See CANA Exh. 171 at 4 (Diocese’s Response to Congregations’ First Set of Interrogatories) (“The Episcopal Church and the Diocese are churches or religious societies within the meaning of § 57-9(A)”). 28 See Compact Oxford English Dictionary of Current English, Third Edition (2005). 29 See Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, at www.merriam-webster.com. 30 TEC-Diocese Exh. 2 at 1 (defining the Anglican Communion as “a Fellowship within the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church, of those duly constituted Dioceses, Provinces, and regional Churches in communion with the See of Canterbury, upholding and propagating the historic Faith and Order as set forth in the Book of Common Prayer” (emphasis added)). 31 Noah Webster, A Dictionary of the English Language 682 (1872) (preface dated 1867). 32 See Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, at http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/- society (entry for “society”). 33 See Roget’s New Millennium™ Thesaurus (1st ed. 2007) (entry for “society”). 34 See, e.g., Tr. 1029:14-18 (Mullin) (“the Anglican Communion . . . is a Fellowship within the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church of churches in communion with the Archbishop of Canterbury.”); Tr. 916:4-918:17 (Douglas) (acknowledging that the Anglican Communion is an association and fellowship of churches); Tr. 846:2-10 (Douglas) (describing the “Anglican Communion as a family of churches”). 35 It is undisputed that the CANA Congregations were “attached” to TEC and the Diocese, within the meaning of Va. Code § 57-9, prior to their votes to disaffiliate therefrom in 2006 and 2007. TEC-Diocese Exh. 5 at 4 (CANA Congregations’ Answer to [TEC-Diocese’s] First Interrogatories). 36 Noah Webster, A Dictionary of the English Language 44 (1872) (preface dated 1867). 37 The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition (2004) (entry for “attached”). 38 See Windsor Report, CANA Exh. 61 at 24 ¶ 45 (“The communion we enjoy as Anglicans involves a sharing in double ‘bonds of affection’: those that flow from our shared status as children of God in Christ, and those that arise from our shared and inherited identity, which is the particular history of the churches to which we belong”).
Thursday, December 20, 2007
London Telegraph: Rowan Williams says Nativity is nothing but a legend
Woke up this morning to hearing Fred Grandy (former congressman, former Gopher, currently Episcopalian) on WMAL Radio talking about this:
Dr Rowan Williams has claimed there was little evidence that the Magi even existed and there was certainly nothing to prove there were three of them or that they were kings.Now this is a classic example by the Archbishop of Canterbury of the sort of musings of someone who is at home in academia, but probably has no idea what it's like to stand at the door of the church after services and listen to the laity stream out, shaking your hand while offering weak smiles of bewilderment before marching off to find the senior warden to learn how long it will be before you are sacked.
Dr Williams argued that the traditional Christmas story was nothing but a 'legend.'
He said the only reference to the wise men from the East was in Matthew's gospel and the details were very vague.
Dr Williams said: "Matthew's gospel says they are astrologers, wise men, priests from somewhere outside the Roman Empire, that's all we're really told. It works quite well as legend."
The Archbishop went on to dispel other details of the Christmas story, adding that there were probably no asses or oxen in the stable.
He argued that Christmas cards which showed the Virgin Mary cradling the baby Jesus, flanked by shepherds and wise men, were misleading. As for the scenes that depicted snow falling in Bethlehem, the Archbishop said the chance of this was "very unlikely".
In a final blow to the traditional nativity story, Dr Williams concluded that Jesus was probably not born in December at all. He said: "Christmas was when it was because it fitted well with the winter festival."
Why should academics fear the laity? Academics are free to speculate all they wish and who will dare challenge them but the brow-furled evangelical seminarian who has to decide whether to write the final paper with footnotes or give in and go for the A. But a rector who has to stand out in the cold shaking the hands of his congregation will get a word or two of instant response. Rectors learn after a while to keep such speculation out of the pulpit - or else they run for General Convention Deputy.
Read the full interview here.
One starts to wonder if Rowan Williams' staff is now trying to get rid of him.
LATER: Or maybe he was really talking about the Three Wise Guys:
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
I Saw Three Ships
The First Ship called Remnant: We could stay in the structures of the Episcopal Church and work for renewal from within.
The Second Ship called Sanctuary: We could separate immediately for to remain would cost the parish or mission so dearly that it would cease to exist.
The Third Ship called Exile: We would separate together, remaining in as close as communion as possible with our brothers and sisters in both the remnant and in sanctuary. But we would separate from our homeland, in our case, the Diocese of Virginia.
We recognized that all three were based on biblical principles and all three needed to be respected, especially if we chose a ship different from those we loved.
When I read Kendall's piece I see evidence that he is aboard Remnant. Perhaps he has not yet experienced what Sarah Hey calls "shrieking pain." Perhaps he is called to stay aboard Remnant. I don't know. He is in a friendly diocese, one that is filled with like-minded clergy and laity who share the same mission for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. That is no small thing and it makes sense that if he is in such a diocese, that he should stay there and work from within. He has respect amongst not only the orthodox, but the institutionalists and the progressives that make up the leadership of The Episcopal Church. He also greatly respected by those who have embarked out on the journey and those who are in sanctuary, whether they are still in the Episcopal Church now but plan to depart or have all ready separated.
We made a conscious decision not to cast aspersions on those who may choose a different path than the one we chose. And we also understood that if we were to go to sanctuary, the sanctuary would be short-lived. In time we all who did not stay with the remnant would find ourselves on a journey.
One way we described this journey was that we were on ships or boats. We've left shore, but we haven't quite arrived home. We thought of Dunkirk and all the little boats leaving the shores of war-torn Europe for England.
I have felt a kinship with Kendall and with the guys from ACI. As I've written about earlier, I was a fierce defender of working inside the Episcopal Church as witness and for renewal. I guess I spent twenty-two years, in one capacity or the other, working at it. In recent years I had moved into the elected structures, serving two terms as President of a Diocese of Virginia Region and serving as member of the Diocese's Annual Council. Even now, out in the boat as I am, I still am an Episcopalian. I am an Episcopalian in a CANA boat, that has now joined a fleet of boats called the Federation.
When is that moment when we feel the "screeching pain?" What caused me to board the ship Exile? We can look at the Hebrews who went into exile out of Egypt with the hope of finding the Promised Land. But there are others who go into exile with the hope of going back some day.
I believe I am more of the latter, aboard this ship Exile, praying that one day she will return home even if it takes twenty years. What is home? Restored Communion centered on the person of Jesus Christ, who died, who was risen, and who will come again. She lives in the hope that indeed, all things will be reconciled to Christ, as we pray, "Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven." It is evangelism, to go into all the earth in the name of Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit and sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ. But that home does not yet exist and so we push off from land and head to another shore.
I remember when Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn went home to Russia. I was so surprised, he went back very early, when things were still uncertain in Russia, when the memory of the Soviet Union was just a few blinks and tears away. He was exiled from the Soviet Union in 1974 and returned to his homeland twenty years later.
Sometimes there are things we cannot see until we go into exile. And sometimes there are things that those back home cannot see until the ones they loved and have gone into exile. Solzhenitsyn, who found refuge in the United States, had no illusions about what he had left behind. He spoke and published forcefully. His literary works are works of art.
But he also had eyes to see the truth of where he was and he didn't flinch from sounding warnings that, like the leaders he had left behind in Russia, the leaders of the West did not want to hear.
"Until I came to the West myself and spent two years looking around," he wrote, "I could never have imagined to what an extreme degree the West had actually become a world without a will, a world gradually petrifying in the face of the danger confronting it . . . All of us are standing on the brink of a great historical cataclysm, a flood that swallows up civilization and changes whole epochs."
Reading or listening to Kendall's talk reminds us that the real battle, the real war is not with The Episcopal Church, but with what we warned of by Solzhenitsyn. "It has made man the measure of all things on earth—imperfect man, who is never free of pride, self-interest, envy, vanity, and dozens of other defects," he wrote. "We are now paying for the mistakes which were not properly appraised at the beginning of the journey. On the way from the Renaissance to our days we have enriched our experience, but we have lost the concept of a Supreme Complete Entity which used to restrain our passions and our irresponsibility."
Our focus must remain on who we truly are - not just as Anglicans and Episcopalians, though that witness must conform to the name of the one who's name we bear. It must. But our focus, our foundation, our life - whether we are in sanctuary, in exile, or the remnant - must remain fixed on Jesus, our Lord and our Redeemer.
It's not just what we do that matters, but how we do it, how we walk out our testimony in a way that does not only destroy our own souls, but the souls of those we've left behind. Our prayer should always be for reconciliation, but the real reconciliation, the kind based on repentance and conversion.
And perhaps the best place to start with repentance and conversion is right here, right here in our own hearts. It is His kindness that leads us to repentance.