Wednesday, April 30, 2008

I CAN ...

An amazing video of a father and his son.

Philippians 4:13

HOB Memo: Schori violated 11 counts of the Constitution and Canons of The Episcopal Church

BB NOTE: Thanks to the tip from CJ, we may have more understanding on what caused Bishop Schori to write her letter to the House of Bishops today. According to The Living Church in their article "Memo: Presiding Bishop Subverting Constitution and Canons," "Sufficient legal grounds exist for presenting Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori for ecclesiastical trial on 11 counts of violating the Constitution and Canons of The Episcopal Church" with information concerning those violations now circulating through the Episcopal House of Bishops.

One thing to keep in mind. The five bishops that are appointed to the Title IV Committee are appointed by - you guessed it - the Presiding Bishop. There is no separation of powers. How could the same committee look at this report now being reviewed in the House and do anything but use it as kindling at the next Guy Fox Bonfire? Perhaps it's time to review this.

Is trust is dissolving within the House of Bishops itself? The deposition of the retired 87 year old Bishop Cox was nothing less than draconian. The numbers of bishops who were absent at the last meeting was extraordinary - especially with an item on the agenda such as an historic deposition of a sitting bishop with jurisdiction. You'd think they'd show up for that - but they didn't and so the majority of the House (the whole number) were not present to depose the two bishops on the docket. Was their absence a de-facto no-confidence vote? The Episcopal Church Litigates You? And if they don't have a canon to do it, they'll just "read them" their own way to suit their needs. Which is what this memorandum is all about.

From The Living Church:
Sufficient legal grounds exist for presenting Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori for ecclesiastical trial on 11 counts of violating the Constitution and Canons of The Episcopal Church, according to a legal memorandum that has begun circulating among members of the House of Bishops.

A copy of the April 21 document seen by a reporter representing The Living Church states Bishop Jefferts Schori demonstrated a “willful violation of the canons, an intention to repeat the violations, and a pattern of concealment and lack of candor” in her handling of the cases of bishops Robert W. Duncan, John-David Schofield and William Cox, and that she “subverted” the “fundamental polity” of The Episcopal Church in the matter of the Diocese of San Joaquin.

Prepared by an attorney on behalf of a consortium of bishops and church leaders seeking legal counsel over the canonical implications of the Presiding Bishop’s recent actions, it is unclear whether a critical mass of support will form behind the report’s recommendations for any action to be taken, persumably as a violation of the Presiding Bishop’s ordination vows. Title IV, Canon 3, Section 23a requires the consent of three bishops, or 10 or more priests, deacons and communicants “of whom at least two shall be priests. One priest and not less than six lay persons shall be of the diocese of which the respondent is canonically resident.” Victims of sexual misconduct and the Presiding Bishop also may bring charges before the Title IV [disciplinary] Review Committee. Title IV, Canon 3, Section 27 specifies that the Presiding Bishop appoints the five bishops to the Review Committee and the president of the House of Deputies appoints the two members of the clergy and two lay members. A spokeswoman said the Presiding Bishop was unable to respond to the charges as she had not yet seen the memorandum.

The Rev. Ephraim Radner, a member of the Anglican Covenant Design Group, said he found the matters addressed by the brief troubling. The lack of a common understanding of the church’s constitution and canons was “tearing apart our very episcopate and the credibility of our church’s ability to make formal decisions,” he said.

The 7,000-word memorandum states it does not address issues of doctrine under Title 4, Canon 1, Section 1c, but limits its review to the “recent actions she has taken against bishops Cox, Schofield and Duncan and the Diocese of San Joaquin.”
The paper argues the Presiding Bishop “failed to seek the inhibition of Bishop Cox as required by [Title IV, Canon 9].” This failure was not a “technical issue that could be waived,” but was an “important procedural protection that is integral” to the use of the canon. Nor did she comply with the requirement that the bishop be given timely notice of the legal proceedings, as the Presiding Bishop withheld notice for seven months.

By not inhibiting Bishop Cox during the two-month period she gave him for denying the charges, the Presiding Bishop was also creating “new procedures” for deposing bishops. The 60-day notice to deny the charges applies only to an “inhibited bishop,” according to the memorandum. Bishop Jefferts Schori had made the same error in her treatment of Bishop Duncan, the document noted.

Bringing Bishop Cox before the House of Bishops without securing his inhibition first also violated Title IV, Canon 9, Section 2, the memorandum said, as “a bishop who has not been inhibited is not ‘liable to deposition’ under this canon.”
To suggest that the provision of Section 2 of the Canon: “Otherwise, it shall be the duty of the Presiding Bishop to present the matter to the House of Bishops at the next regular, or special meeting of the House,” was “nonsensical,” the paper argued for “if the ‘Otherwise’ sentence deals with uninhibited bishops such as Bishop Cox (and Duncan), there is no provision under which the Presiding Bishop is authorized to depose an inhibited bishop such as Bishop Schofield. No rule of legal interpretation permits such a nonsensical result.”

The Presiding Bishop’s deposition of Bishops Cox and Schofield was done without the “necessary consent” of the House of Bishops. “The conclusion that the requisite consent was not given is irrefutable” as the “plain meaning” of the words of the canon, as well as voting procedures detailed in other parts of the Constitution and Canons do not permit the interpretation interposed by the Presiding Bishop’s chancellor, the paper said.

Concerning the Diocese of San Joaquin, the Presiding Bishop’s announcement that she did not recognize the “duly elected” diocesan standing committee violated Articles IV and II.3 of the church’s constitution and repudiated her duties under [Title I, Canon 2, Section 4(a)(3)] which permits her only to “consult” with the diocesan ecclesiastical authority in the event of an episcopal vacancy.

The appointment of “representatives and vicars” to act in San Joaquin violated Article II.3 of the church’s constitution, the document stated, while the convening of a special convention in San Joaquin and installation of Bishop Jerry Lamb as the provisional bishop violated Article II.3 and Title III, Canon 13.

“The violations with respect to Bishops Cox and Duncan, although willful and repeated, pertained primarily to individual bishops. The violations with respect to [San Joaquin] however, subvert the governance of an entire diocese and go to the heart of TEC’s polity as a ‘fellowship of duly constituted dioceses’ governed under Article II.3 by bishops who are not under a metropolitan or archbishop,” the legal memorandum concluded.

The procedural difficulties in bringing this matter to adjudication were formidable, the paper argued, as the “ability of the complainants to hold accountable the Presiding Bishop or another bishop thus ends at the [Title IV] Review Committee.”
Read the whole thing here.

A First

Today got reported to Blogger as spam. We kid you not. We do know, however, that Bob Dylan may have been the First Spammer (or perhaps the Father of Spam) when he published this. So perhaps it was to be expected.

Well, be that as it may, while we are still up and running, we have to jump through an extra hoop each time we publish our updates until Blogger gets it straightened out - which we are told will be soon. Other blogs are reporting that there was something odd going on today, so perhaps this is just more evidence of some sort issue facing the kind folks at Google. We're sending over a caseload of Butterbeer just in case they might need it. Hagrid stands by also if needed.

In honor of the Cafe Spam Attack (which hence forth we will always remember annually on April 30th, perhaps with a reading of this) we post the following. Enjoy - and let us not forget our Gin & Tonic with our spam, shall we? It's been quite a day.

Bishop Schori writes to the House of Bishops

BB NOTE: Things are heating up. The Presiding Bishop has issued the following letter in defense of the actions she has taken (and note who she points to that will go down in her ship). Tip of the Tinfoil to StandFirm. We have a few comments.

April 30, 2008
For the House of Bishops

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ:

Inasmuch as the past several weeks have involved some significant situations (you can say that again), I thought it would be helpful to review and comment on process (which is a PR-style way of saying "I have made some major boo boos and now I'm going to try to wiggle my way out of them." Note that she doesn't mention the bishops who have requested an investigation into the attempt to depose two bishops at the last HOB meeting, very interesting). First, regarding deposition for “abandonment of the communion of The Episcopal Church,” (note that she doesn't cite where she's getting this quote - the Episcopal Church is not in communion with itself - that's called narcissism) it is important to remember (in her opinion, which is apparently all that matters these days) that such an act is not by definition punitive (but in her case it is), but does give formal recognition to a reality already taking place (in other words, the "reality" is that we're pissed off and we're going to do something about it). Once the Title IV Review Committee (yo - and who hand-picked the appointments of these people by the way???) has certified that a bishop has abandoned the communion of this Church (which has now been reinterpreted to mean a "communion of one" - i.e., the only church in communion is the Episcopal Church, there is no other church in communion which is not a communion, which is a farce) under Title IV, Canon 9, the bishop in question is given sixty days to respond (but what if they have resigned? Oops, she'll have an answer to that in a minute).

During this sixty day period, Title IV has a provision for temporary inhibition of the bishop by the Presiding Bishop with the consent of the three senior active bishops of the Church (except when she tries to go around them, as she tried to do with Bishop Duncan and failed, but nevermind). These bishops who must consent to the temporary inhibition do not, however, have a veto over consideration of the merits of the deposition by the House of Bishops, any more than those who must consent to temporary inhibitions in other circumstances have a veto over consideration of the charges by a trial court (now - WHO WROTE THIS LAST SENTENCE???? Hello? Hello?). This understanding of the canon is held not only by my Chancellor (BINGO! We have liftoff!) but also by members of the Title IV Review Committee including an attorney ("The Episcopal Church Litigates You") who is an original member of the Committee (and who might that be and why should we care what an "original" member thinks - is the "original member" still on the committee and when did this committee get formed and who gave authority to this committee to do anything, we're getting the idea that this committee does not go back to the founding of the Episcopal Church after that unfortunate REVOLUTION when we overthrew the last group of bishops and told Canterbury to get lost, at least for a couple of years, oh, but nevermind - one never knows how committees are formed or who appoints the members to the committee after its formed and who gives authority to a committee or why "original" members should be quoted, no wonder Rowan Williams is reading Dostoevsky these days), the chancellors of several dioceses who have been consulted (does that include the chancellor of the Diocese of San Joaquin? Or the Diocese of Pittsburgh? Or the Diocese of Quincy? Or the Diocese of Springfield? Or the Diocese of Ft. Worth? Or even the Diocese of Albany? Or perhaps the Diocese of West Tennessee? Or the Diocese of Rio Grande? Or the Diocese of South Carolina? So why don't you mentioned which dioceses you consulted, Bishop Sauls, I mean Bishop Schori?), and the former Chair of both the Standing Commission on the Constitution and Canons and the Legislative Committee on the Canons at the General Convention (obviously this is supposed to be impressive, but unfortunately, these are just more committees that find their hope in 815 - Kafka, call your office).

As the actual vote regarding deposition draws near ("and I screwed up big time last time, but let's not mention that, shall we?"), it is important to recognize what does and does not constitute a relevant response by the bishop in question (oh, and who do you think you are telling the House of Bishops what is a "relevant response?" Excuse me, I have to go get a gin and tonic before I read the rest of this thing ... ). A letter of resignation from the House is irrelevant to the charges brought forward by the Review Committee and the deposition proceedings (PANTS ON FIRE! PANTS ON FIRE!), since deposition concerns a person’s ordination in this Church (ANGLICAN - can we say A N G L I C A N ???), not simply participation in the House of Bishops (PANTS ON FIRE!). Resignation from the House thus has no bearing (ESPECIALLY WHEN YOU ARE 80 PLUS YEARS OLD AND YOUR WIFE HAS ALZHEIMER'S OR YOUR SON HAS JUST DIED OR YOU HAVE MOVED TO ANOTHER JURISDICTION) on following through with the charges brought forward by the Review Committee (NOPE, PANTS STILL ON FIRE). Deposition in this situation makes clear in an official way that the bishop in question is no longer permitted to exercise ordained ministry in this Church (just because you say some thing does not make it so, especially when you have been selective on whom you talk to - BLINK BLINK BLINK).

Regarding how the vote is to be taken ("since I completely screwed it up last time"), the canon is clear that a vote on deposition must occur at “regular or special meeting of the House.” Although we have other canonical consent provisions where consents may be secured by written ballot through the mail, that process does not satisfy the canons here (WAIT - that's your opinion, you site no case law, no history, no nothing - BLINK BLINK BLINK). Every bishop entitled to vote is invited to the meeting (that's like saying, every senator is invited to the Floor -- PANTS ON FIRE) and given ample notice that there will be a vote on depositions (A MAJORITY OF THE WHOLE NUMBER OF THE HOUSE OF BISHOPS, we're talking about the equivalent of the death penalty for ministry with what you are doing, Ma'am, hello? Do you think the entire House of Bishops are idiots?). Materials surrounding the deposition in question are posted in the “Bishops Only” section of the College for Bishops website (It's labeled "WITCH HUNT). The canon is read (AHHH!!! This is so slimy I need another Gin & Tonic - "the canon is read" - that's like saying "I shall read this law that says I must stop at a stop sign as meaning I can slow down as though I was about to stop but I don't actually have to stop - it's just a suggestion) that a quorum be present and a majority of all bishops present (WHICH IS A MAJORITY OF A QUORUM! PANTS ON FIRE! PANTS ON FIRE!) who are entitled to vote consent to the deposition, as was done in the case of Bishop Davies of Fort Worth in the 1990s and Bishop Larrea of Ecuador Central in 2005 (BISHOP PIKE! BISHOP PIKE! Where the hell is Bishop Pike?). In terms of parliamentary rules of order, any questions about the propriety of a vote are to be raised before the meeting or, of course, during it (JOHN HOWE and MARK LAWRENCE CALL YOUR OFFICE).

These are weighty matters (which you have made light of), and it is important that we take seriously our procedures (WHAT? A lecture - from you???), as well as their purpose and intent (this is so rich - shall we call the kettle black?). It is also important that we remember (more lectures - how do these bishops stand these lectures?) the reason that such canons and procedures are in place (so that you can change their meaning and enforcement to satisfy your own political needs?). These matters with which we are confronted have ramifications for many outside our House (like perhaps, your job security?). For those who would like an alternative to deposition, we already have one, in the form of renunciation of vows in this Church (HOLY COW - now she's getting mean, really mean - did anyone review this letter rather than the lawyers before she sent it? Just how hot is the kitchen, any way?), so that anyone may pursue his or her conscience and desires in another part of Christ’s Body (or "MY WAY or the HIGHWAY, GOT IT?"). This option makes clear and clean an individual’s departure from The Episcopal Church ("and we won't miss you, either"). Resignation from the House is quite different, since it only deals with the person’s relation to the House, not to The Episcopal Church. Thus, to resign from the House while still claiming jurisdiction over a diocese with its property and assets is not a viable alternative (uh,, who wrote this section? Can we spell D-A-V-I-D--B-O-O-T-H--B-E-E-R-S ?).

Some have misunderstood the impact and intent of deposition (this is possibly the UNDERSTATEMENT OF THE YEAR). It is this Church’s formal way of saying to the world that the deposed cleric is no longer permitted to act as a sacramental representative of this Church (AND YOUR LITTLE DOG TOO!). If vows to uphold the doctrine, discipline, and worship of this Church are not voluntarily renounced, how otherwise can a cleric take up new vows to uphold the doctrine, discipline, and worship of another Church (HELLO? We all belong to the same denomination - TEC is supposed to be a member of the Anglican Communion - we're not Presbyterians or Methodists or Baptists or Catholics - we're Anglicans - we belong to the SAME DENOMINATION, someone please get Rowan Williams on his cell)? These are indeed difficult decisions that we at times are called to make, and I have no doubt that all of us would wish things were different (Nevada is looking mighty good). We must respond to the situations with which we are faced, compassionately but not naively (i.e., worldly), knowing that we make these decisions not for ourselves alone but for the people whom we are called to shepherd (OH NO - don't lay that trip on the laity - this is on your head, don't displace your responsibility and say you're doing this for the laity - it's your mess) and oversee. I remain

Your servant in Christ,

Katharine Jefferts Schori


Monday, April 28, 2008

Lorne Coyle speaks to the congregation of Trinity Vero Beach (Diocese of Central Florida) on decision to leave The Episcopal Church

D. Lorne Coyle, rector of Trinity Vero Beach (Diocese of Central Florida) speaks to his congregation on the decision to leave the Episcopal Church, July 1. Listen to the whole thing here (click on the sermon for April 27, 2008). He talks about the change from the decision to remain with the property, to the change to leave the property after Bishop John W. Howe changed his mind.

Originally they had a settle of $5 million. Lorne reports that while Bishop Howe proposed the initial plan, he was the one that rejected it. He changed his mind. He had to "re-examine" his own stated position which caused him to have an "about-face" and reject the very plan he had offered.

The rector and vestry of Trinity decided not to sue for the property, but to leave quietly and peacefully - if all the parties agree. So far two out of the three parties have agreed: The Vestry of Trinity and the Executive Board of the Diocese of Central Florida. The final group to agree will be those who remain in the property as Episcopalians. They still need to organize and vote, which is scheduled to take place next Sunday.

The rest of the proposed agreement remains confidential until there is full ratification.

Listen to the whole thing here. Make sure you hear what Lorne says is the primary fiduciary duty of the clergy and leadership of a church. And please pray for this lighthouse church as they take the next steps.

The Vestry of Trinity, Vero Beach.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Letters to Bishops regarding Lambeth attendance will be sent "presently"

BB NOTE: N.T. Wright still seems to be right. Remember when he said this: "'I know what I heard, I know what I said. If people have changed their mind, they have changed their mind, but I rather doubt it." The video was indeed not the letter. Stay tuned.

Here's the latest from
The Living Church:
A spokesman for Archbishop Williams told The Living Church the internet video presentation was “not related” to his forthcoming letter to the bishops of the Communion. In that letter, the archbishop is reported to ask that they predicate their attendance at the Lambeth Conference upon their willingness to accept the Windsor Report and Anglican Covenant processes.

The video presentation, titled “Better bishops for the sake of a better church,” was a pastoral didactic tool, the spokesman. The presentation broadcast on the internet video service, outlines the archbishop’s hopes for the conference.

The title of the “Better bishops” video, whose alliterative qualities mimic Country Life’s popular “better butter” advertisements on British television, speaks to the cause of some of the divisions within the church, and follow upon Archbishop Williams’ concern for stronger clerical formation and closer cooperation among the bishops of the Anglican Communion.

The letters affirming support for Windsor and the covenant processes had not yet been mailed, but would go out presently, the spokesman said.

Karl Marx, call your office

From here.
"I think the more you have a disproportion between what people are actually earning and what they appear to be worth, the more you have astronomical sums with very little rationale behind them, the less credibility the whole thing has."
-Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury Friday, April 25, 2008

And, your Grace, just exactly who gets to decide? What was it Karl Marx said, "From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs"? Hello? Ah, but the BBC picks right up on that:

BBC - Your critics would say that's a pretty old fashioned kind of Marxism.

Williams - My critics might say that, but I think I'd be quite happy to say that seems to me how we run a society that's confident with itself and believes in itself.
Is that what we really want? A "society" that is "confident" with "itself," a "society" that "believes" in "itself?" What is a society, sir? You make it sound like it's some Giant Blob, with no face, no personality, no character, no people - no individuals, no heart, no soul, no feeling, no passions, no person, no choice - just something blob-like, this "society."

Well who is society? Is it faceless? No, what matters are families and the individuals who live in those families, who make up our neighborhoods and towns, who have choice and dreams and hopes - and yearn for something more.

It's called freedom.

America is filled with people who yearn for this freedom. Why, even the British are immigrating to America again.

If the Church is incapable of teaching moral and ethical principles as we are discipled to be followers of Jesus (not Marx), then how the hell can we expect a society to be anything different than what it is?

Society is me.

Redistribution of wealth is a failure. Ask all those people who yearned for freedom in what was once the Soviet Union. For heavens sake, sir, get out of your comfy chair form behind your palace walls and out into the real world. Start a business - with your own money for once in your life.

Freedom is essential for a healthy society. But if the Church is silent on preaching the Good News of Jesus Christ and instead sells its own soul to the "spirit of the age" which runs rampant in our society, how can anyone stand there and point a finger raising up Karl Marx from the grave and imposing him as some kind of savior to a society that is decaying into decadence and greed?

Society is you.

It is obvious, sir, that you have never actually worked in the real world - stuffed inside Academia for twenty years, thirty years, now you are stuffed inside a palace pointing fingers and ignoring your own rampant crisis of decadence under your own nose.

If you can't manage the Church why would anyone think that your ideas about corporate finance matter? What matters is not a "confident society" or the "redistribution of wealth" - but repentance. Personal repentance. Preach repentance, sir - and then let's see what happens.

And how about starting with our own House first.

TEC Divides: Another former Episcopal Bishop speaks on his transfer to an overseas Anglican Province and the PB's deposition that followed

No, he did not resign his orders - he resigned from the House of Bishops. But like all the other bishops that she's targeting, the Presiding Bishop "deposed" Bishop Kelshaw. A frank and insightful interview. "If she had an ounce of pastoral experience," Bishop Kelshaw says, "she would have picked up the phone and said, 'how you doing, Terence?'"

Bishop Terence Kelshaw was the Bishop of the Diocese of the Rio Grande. His successor, Bishop Jeffrey Steenson, has now also resigned from the House of Bishops and was received into the Roman Catholic Church. The Diocese of the Rio Grande is currently without a diocesan bishop.

Anne Coletta interviews Bishop Kelshaw, now bishop-in-residence at St. James, Newport Beach, California, for Anglican TV:

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Saturday Night at the Cafe: Ya got some skis for a Mini?

Okay, Cafe Regular Kevin pointed us over to Billy Ockham's blog where he's posted this highly entertaining segment from Top Gear featuring motoring journalists Jeremy Clarkson, James May, and Richard Hammond.

Now one of our all-time favorite cars is the classic Mini (the BMW version is nice, but the old Mini had a quirky character, like the old VW Bug). This segment features sending a Mini over a ski jump used for the 1994 Winter Olympics in
Lillehammer, Norway.

Having been born into a family packed with engineers, we dedicate tonight's feature to all of them. The preparation for the event brought memories back of what it's like to be raised by a family of engineers. Before anyone does anything there must be a plan and the first thing to come out is a pencil and paper and lots of mathematical formulas as we sit at the dinette table - but there's always a plan. Then we'll pack the car for the camping trip to Yellowstone. In fact, the preparation we see for this segment reminded me so much of what it was actually like at our house when we were preparing for the Pinewood Derby, a tradition that continues - including the prerequisite preparation - into the next generation. Here in this segment we see the same attention to detail, long before the jump ever takes place. All they were missing was the dinette table, no wait - there's one of those too!

So, without further ado, here it is:

A Letter from the Bishop of San Joaquin

To the clergy and parishioners of San Joaquin -

We recognize that the news of a lawsuit from the Presiding Bishop and the representatives of Remain Episcopal in Stockton, may be unsettling. However, please be assured that we have been expecting this litigation and the contents contain no surprises. Please know that our legal team has been at work for some time. They are optimistic and remain unperturbed by The Episcopal Church's most recent action. What our legal counsel has accomplished on our behalf is already proving most helpful in defense of property and assets despite the fact that this preparatory work had to be done without the benefit of seeing what the Episcopal Church intended to do.

Furthermore, I want to remind you that in spite of the claims by The Episcopal Church, nothing in their current Constitution and Canons prohibits a diocese from leaving one province and moving to another. Also, just as we stood together for the sake of our witness to the Gospel at our Convention in December, so now will we continue to stand together for that same witness. I will continue to respond to those who disagree with us in a Christian and charitable manner and I trust that you will, as well.

Thank you for the trust that you have placed in me as your bishop and senior pastor, and know that I will continue to honor that trust with God's help.

Faithfully, yours in Christ,


BB NOTE: Tip of the tinfoil to KB.

Time for a Visit to Oz

BB NOTE: Here is an interesting editorial by American author, Orson Scott Card (who's own works pre-date Harry Potter but carry significant similarities). He is coming from a literary point of view, which has been the point of view until the lawyers at Warner Brothers came along and saw an opportunity.

We've posted some of our own thoughts at Shell Cottage. There are also interesting editorials written by Jeopardy Champion, Ken Jennings here that is worth checking out. Who knew he had a blog? And yes, we had Bjo Trimble’s Star Trek Concordance too. We also have a massive one (that just went to paperback with new additions) on Bob Dylan that we read for fun. That one comes with a CD version as well.

Here is the editorial by Orson Scott Card:

Can you believe that J.K. Rowling is suing a small publisher because she claims their 10,000-copy edition of The Harry Potter Lexicon, a book about Rowling's hugely successful novel series, is just a "rearrangement" of her own material.
Rowling "feels like her words were stolen," said lawyer Dan Shallman.

Well, heck, I feel like the plot of my novel Ender's Game was stolen by J.K. Rowling.

A young kid growing up in an oppressive family situation suddenly learns that he is one of a special class of children with special abilities, who are to be educated in a remote training facility where student life is dominated by an intense game played by teams flying in midair, at which this kid turns out to be exceptionally talented and a natural leader. He trains other kids in unauthorized extra sessions, which enrages his enemies, who attack him with the intention of killing him; but he is protected by his loyal, brilliant friends and gains strength from the love of some of his family members. He is given special guidance by an older man of legendary accomplishments who previously kept the enemy at bay. He goes on to become the crucial figure in a struggle against an unseen enemy who threatens the whole world.

This paragraph lists only the most prominent similarities between Ender's Game and the Harry Potter series. My book was published in England many years before Rowling began writing about Harry Potter. Rowling was known to be reading widely in speculative fiction during the era after the publication of my book.

I can get on the stand and cry, too, Ms. Rowling, and talk about feeling "personally violated."

The difference between us is that I actually make enough money from Ender's Game to be content, without having to try to punish other people whose creativity might have been inspired by something I wrote.

Mine is not the only work that one can charge Rowling "borrowed" from. Check out this piece from a fan site, pointing out links between Harry Potter and other previous works: And don't forget the lawsuit by Nancy K. Stouffer, the author of a book entitled The Legend of Rah and the Muggles, whose hero was named "Larry Potter."

At that time, Rowling's lawyers called Stouffer's claim "frivolous."

It's true that we writers borrow words from each other – but we're supposed to admit it and not pretend we're original when we're not. I took the word ansible from Ursula K. LeGuin, and have always said so. Rowling, however, denies everything.

If Steven Vander Ark, the author of Lexicon, had written fiction that he claimed was original, when it was actually a rearrangement of ideas taken from the Harry Potter books, then she'd have a case.

But Lexicon is intended only as a reference book for people who have already paid for their copies of Rowling's books. Even though the book is not scholarly, it certainly falls within the realm of scholarly comment.

Rowling's hypocrisy is so thick I can hardly breathe: Prior to the publication of each novel, there were books about them that were no more intrusive than Lexicon. I contributed to one of them, and there was no complaint about it from Rowling or her publishers because they knew perfectly well that these fan/scholar ancillary publications were great publicity and actually boosted sales.

But now the Harry Potter series is over, and Rowling claims that her "creative work" is being "decimated."

Of course, she doesn't claim that it's the Lexicon that is harming her "creative work" (who's she borrowing from this time?); it's the lawsuit itself! And since she chose to bring the suit, whose fault is it? If she had left Vander Ark alone to publish his little book and make his little bit of money, she wouldn't be distracted from her next novel.

But no, Rowling claims Vander Ark's book "constitutes wholesale theft of 17 years of my hard work."

Seventeen years? What a crock. Apparently she includes in that total the timeframe in which she was reading – and borrowing from – the work of other writers.

On the stand, though, Rowling's chief complaint seems to be that she would do a better job of annotating and encyclopedizing her own series.

So what?

Nothing prevents her from doing exactly that – annotating and explaining her own novels. Do you think that if there were a Harry Potter Annotated by the Author, Vander Ark's book would interfere with her sales in any way?

This frivolous lawsuit puts at serious risk the entire tradition of commentary on fiction. Any student writing a paper about the Harry Potter books, any scholarly treatise about it, will certainly do everything she's complaining about.

Once you publish fiction, Ms. Rowling, anybody is free to write about it, to comment on it, and to quote liberally from it, as long as the source is cited.

Here's the irony: Vander Ark had the material for this book on his website for years, and Rowling is quoted as saying that when she needed to look up some 'fact" from her earlier books, she would sometimes "sneak into an Internet cafe while out writing and check a fact rather than go into a bookshop and buy a copy of Harry Potter."

In other words, she already had made personal use of Vander Ark's work and found it valuable. Even if it has shortcomings, she found it useful.

That means that Vander Ark created something original and useful – he added value to the product. If Rowling wants to claim that it interferes with her creativity now, she should have made that complaint back when she was using it – and giving Vander Ark an award for his website back in 2004.

Now, of course, she regrets "bitterly" having given the award.

You know what I think is going on?

Rowling has nowhere to go and nothing to do now that the Harry Potter series is over. After all her literary borrowing, she shot her wad and she's flailing about trying to come up with something to do that means anything.

Moreover, she is desperate for literary respectability. Even though she made more money than the queen or Oprah Winfrey in some years, she had to see her books pushed off the bestseller lists and consigned to a special "children's book" list. Litterateurs sneer at her work as a kind of subliterature, not really worth discussing.

It makes her insane. The money wasn't enough. She wants to be treated with respect.

At the same time, she's also surrounded by people whose primary function is to suck up to her. No doubt some of them were saying to her, "It's wrong for these other people to be exploiting what you created to make money for themselves."

She let herself be talked into being outraged over a perfectly normal publishing activity, one that she had actually made use of herself during its web incarnation.

Now she is suing somebody who has devoted years to promoting her work and making no money from his efforts – which actually helped her make some of her bazillions of dollars.

Talent does not excuse Rowling's ingratitude, her vanity, her greed, her bullying of the little guy, and her pathetic claims of emotional distress.

I fully expect that the outcome of this lawsuit will be:

1. Publication of Lexicon will go on without any problem or prejudice, because it clearly falls within the copyright law's provision for scholarly work, commentary and review.

2. Rowling will be forced to pay Steven Vander Ark's legal fees, since her suit was utterly without merit from the start.

3. People who hear about this suit will have a sour taste in their mouth about Rowling from now on. Her Cinderella story once charmed us. Her greedy evil-witch behavior now disgusts us. And her next book will be perceived as the work of that evil witch.

It's like her stupid, self-serving claim that Dumbledore was gay. She wants credit for being very up-to-date and politically correct – but she didn't have the guts to put that supposed "fact" into the actual novels, knowing that it might hurt sales.

What a pretentious, puffed-up coward. When I have a gay character in my fiction, I say so right in the book. I don't wait until after it has had all its initial sales to mention it.

Rowling has now shown herself to lack a brain, a heart and courage. Clearly, she needs to visit Oz.

Visit Shell Cottage for more.

Friday, April 25, 2008

But wait, there's more!

Looks like they are sharpening their Ginsu Knives again up at 815. It's been a week all ready, so it's time to sue somebody new. As we all expected, the next head on the block is the elected Bishop of San Joaquin. Wonder if 815 needs a new set of knives? It's going to be a long night.

We do still wonder how they are paying for all this.

Judge Randy Bellows opens discovery; indicates he wants case resolved soon after Oct. hearing; Virginia churches respond with statement.

Virginia Anglican Churches Respond to Ruling on Discovery

FAIRFAX, Va. (April 25, 2008) - The 11 Anglican churches being sued by The Episcopal Church and the Diocese of Virginia responded to the Fairfax County Circuit Court decision to open discovery around the Contracts Clause, congregational votes and related questions.

"Today's Court ruling is part of the process which will prove that the 11 churches own their property and that they followed proper procedures when an overwhelming majority in each church voted to disaffiliate from The Episcopal Church and Diocese of Virginia," said Jim Oakes, vice-chairman of the Anglican District of Virginia. The 11 churches being sued by The Episcopal Church are a part of ADV.

"Judge Randy Bellows has indicated that he would like to see the entire case resolved soon after the October hearing. We welcome that news as we have consistently stated our belief that this litigation is a regrettable distraction from our core mission as a church. He also invited the parties to submit lists of issues that can be decided as a matter of law without any further discovery. On the remaining issues, Judge Bellows indicated that he would be receptive to motions for protective orders should discovery become too burdensome, which we appreciate.

"Let's be clear - our churches' own trustees hold title for the benefit of their congregations. The Episcopal Church and Diocese of Virginia have never actually owned any of the property, and their names do not appear on the deeds to the property. The Virginia Supreme Court has consistently stated that Virginia does not recognize denominational trusts of the sort asserted by The Episcopal Church and the Diocese.

"We are grateful that Judge Bellows already ruled that the Virginia Division Statute applies to our situation. Virginia has a long history of deferring to local control of church property, and the Division Statute says that the majority of the church is entitled to its property when a group of congregations divide from their former denomination and form or join a new one. The Episcopal Church's own complaint acknowledges that it does not hold title to any property of these eleven churches and that the churches' own trustees hold title to all such property for the benefit of the congregations. Moreover, it is the congregations and their members - not the denomination -- who have contributed the funds that built and maintained these churches over the years. Some of the churches-like The Falls Church and Truro-actually predate the denomination and helped establish it."

To comply with the requirements of the Virginia Division Statute, Virginia Code §57-9, which recognizes the right of a congregation to keep its property when a majority votes to separate from a divided denomination, the voting churches reported to their local circuit courts their votes to disaffiliate from The Episcopal Church and the Diocese and to affiliate with CANA through membership in ADV.

"In most of these churches, 90% or more of the members voted to leave the denomination due to the clear division within The Episcopal Church, which the Court recently confirmed. The Diocese of Virginia and The Episcopal Church broke their relationship with the worldwide Anglican Communion and fell out of step with much of Christendom by choosing to redefine and reinterpret Scripture," Oakes said.

The Episcopal Church and the Diocese abruptly broke off settlement negotiations in January 2007 and filed lawsuits against the Virginia churches, their ministers and their vestries. The decision of The Episcopal Church and the Diocese to redefine and reinterpret Scripture caused the 11 Anglican churches to sever their ties.

SATURDAY AM UPDATE: Here's a rather terse statement from the Diocese of Virginia (no one is quoted). Look like the new Secretary of the Diocese, a former litigator at Troutman Sanders, is writing the press releases now (which means they need to be read as though a litigator wrote them, which of course, he did):

We are now less than six months away from a trial that will require significant preparations and are pleased that the Court has granted our request to proceed with discovery. We believe that a full and fair examination of the facts – including the opportunity for a thorough and necessary process of discovery – will show that the property in question is held in trust for The Episcopal Church and future generations of Episcopalians.

One thing that's sort of interesting is that it makes no mention of the May 28th hearing called by Judge Bellows. Why would they not mention that the next important date is not six months away, but one month away?

SATURDAY PM UPDATE: David Trimble at Still On Patrol has written some interesting observations that are very much worth the read. His post is here. Check it out!

Statement from the Moderator of the Anglican Communion Network

PM UPDATE: Bishop Jack Iker of the Diocese of Ft. Worth has posted at TitusOneNine which Episcopal bishops were present at the meeting:

San Joaquin
Western Kansas
Fort Worth
Central Florida
South Carolina

Bishop Robert Duncan, moderator of the Anglican Communion Network, has released a short statement at the conclusion of the meeting of Network diocesan bishops in Chicago on April 24.

“The diocesan bishop of every Network diocese, as well as a dean representing all the Network convocations, met together in Chicago on April 24. It was an extraordinarily productive meeting. As has happened so many times before in the Network’s five year history, deepened understanding and deeper unity, despite remarkably different contexts and strategies regarding the Episcopal Church, were the fruit of the meeting. The Network’s vision of a biblical, missionary and united Anglicanism was again affirmed and embraced,” stated Bishop Duncan.

One day Rowan Williams will wake up and realize who his friends are ...

... and it's not this guy, or the church leadership that stands in the shadows smiling. Wake up, Church.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Thoughts on the Journey

David Ould has posted some interesting questions here on the topic of women bishops, but particularly on the topic of "how innovations are foisted upon a Province." I pondered a bit, especially as someone who supports men and women called by God in all roles in the Church. It seems those are presenting issues, but they sometimes conceal the even deeper divisions with our Anglican community - we might win all the battles but still lose the war. Ask the Japanese. Here's what I wrote this evening. I' admit, I've never thought of bishops as a "genre" before, but there we are. Genres are defined as "vague categories with no fixed boundaries. Genres are formed by sets of conventions, and many works cross into multiple genres by way of borrowing and recombining these conventions." Well, here's the essay:

If the bishops would pull their heads of the sand, it’s their job to find the balance between autonomy and interdependence. But bishops as a genre are ill-equipped to focus on such issues and because of the perceived structural weaknesses, the church is vulnerable to invasion by any innovation that comes down the Pike. The crisis of division in the Anglican Communion is an example of colossal failed leadership on an international scale.

Now, before we get too high on our horse, Archbishop Orombi came to Truro not long ago and talked about the mandate of the laity to keep the bishops accountable. He said if the bishops - no matter which side of the aisle they are on - become unaccountable for their actions, he point blank said we should stop following them. Period.

For all of these issues, be they ones that some of us may agree on, or may they be what most of us may not agree on - still, the underlying issue has to do with authority and revelation. How do we discern God’s work in our communities today?

The American Church has taken the political route - using street activism tactics to push through innovations first and then gain acceptance of those innovations later. What can at first look like a bold step, later looks like a tantrum. Americans are at risk perhaps more than other nations because we still believe that as Americans we have a direct pipeline into God. We may not say it in polite company (oh, but so often we do) - but our international friends know this better than we do. We assume we have God’s favor and work from there.

But pride, as they say, goeth before fall and such boldness can quickly turn into tantrums. “These boots are meant for walking,” Nancy Sinatra once sang, “And that’s just what they’ll do. One of these days these boots are going to walk all over you.”

Well, that’s pretty much has been the attitude in practice as the American church has pushed forward with innovations, rather than do the work of theological study and debate and building on consensus. For some reason, we act as though time seems to be running out but it’s because we are staring at our own timetable, and not God’s. He keeps His own timetable and is often reluctant to share specifics, lest we slip and fall. Even in the Garden, Jesus pleaded for His Father to change His timetable and God said no.

What are our alternatives, especially at this late hour? There are times when I wonder if it is too late. As someone who believes that “headship” means first (like first in line, like at the head of the line to get on the bus) and not “chief” (as in “boss"), I have no problems with men or women being called by God to serve in any capacity in the Church. For me the problem is that the clerical ranks are filled with those who are unequipped for ministry and it would behoove the church no end if they would just go out and work at the Post Office for five years before they even dream of taking a church.

Be that as it may, I also recognize that the way the Episcopal Church walked into this ministry was a travesty. Even today we can see what a mess it has made of the clerical orders for in fact - at least here in Virginia - if you are an ordained evangelical woman you are a pariah, an outcast, and if you show up for the annual “women clergy” breakfast at Diocesan Council you are glared at until you back out of the room and go to Starbucks instead. At least they’ll smile at you there.

So would I be willing to stand down? Well, that’s a good question. Within the tares there is wheat and should we throw away the wheat to get at the tares? I am not confident that is the way to go either.

Be that as it may, the point still remains - how we get to a destination is sometimes more important than the actual arrival, wonderful as that may be, will be. Over and over again in literature, we see the journey as the focus of so many stories - from Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales to Kerouac’s One the Road. Journey builds or breaks character - and so how we get there is very important.

But character is also built on the point of destination. You can have a fine and robust journey, but what is the point if it leads you over a cliff?

The Anglican Communion is breaking apart because there is no consensus on the journey. We are not even in agreement on the destination. For much of the West the journey leads to Self, not Jesus. Th e word “Christ” as been redefined as “Self.” And so what road we get on, though paved with the best of intentions, can lead us far from where we ought to go and directly to where we want to go, often with disastrous results.

This is true no matter what our core theology is. This has more to do with character then if we have all our theological ducks in order. We can say all the right things and still end up in the Slough of Despond. We can do all the wrong things, and yet find ourselves at the feet of Jesus. King David is a prime example - having screwed up in more ways than one, God looked at his heart. And the heart is the one thing we do not have the privilege to know - about our friends or about our foes, and sometimes even about ourselves.

There are times when I believe that what needs to be done is a Project of Repentance - that the Anglican Communion enter into a significant period of Repentance. And perhaps the best way to see that happen is not to wait for some pronouncement from Lambeth - or even GAFCON - but at the local level, where local communities lay down their arms, call a truce and enter into a year, five-year, ten-year period of repentance. Perhaps to the next Lambeth. This is the sort of thing that would be painful and difficult, a time of admitting that we are wrong, that we have followed our own way - even with the best of intentions - but the evidence shows (as a judge of Jewish faith could see for himself in Virginia) that we have gone our own way and have failed. No one escapes that judgment, and I mean no one.

Then we plead for the mercy of Jesus and wait for Him.

Now how do we write a resolution about that? I’m not sure that can be done. I think this is a time of pleading for the Lord to pour out His Spirit on us wretched sinners whom He loves so much, not because we’ve earned it or deserve it or we’ve been victims, or we’ve had our feelings hurt, or we’ve been betrayed, or we are just - as the PB describes it - upset. We get real, we throw off our toxic garments and we pray to be clothed in joy. But until the time comes, we put down our arms, we think about others needs and not our own, and we ask the Lord to provide for what we need - and not what we want.

Come, Holy Spirit. Come, Holy Spirit. Come, Holy Spirit.

Time Out: There and back again - and again!

BB NOTE: Great news! Long time patrons of the cafe know that we like movies around here, a lot (okay, we like films too - but we love movies!) and we have some fun breaking news on the movie front this evening. Hold on to your rings. Bilbo Baggins is coming back! From Variety here by Dave McNary. All this and Jackson too.

Can we say yippeee?

Guillermo del Toro to direct 'Hobbit

In a major step forward on "The Hobbit," Guillermo del Toro has signed on to direct the New Line-MGM tentpole and its sequel.

The widely expected announcement -- which had been rumored for several weeks -- came Thursday afternoon jointly from exec producers Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh, New Line president Toby Emmerich, and Mary Parent, newly named chief of MGM's Worldwide Motion Picture Group.

Del Toro's moving to New Zealand for the next four years to work with Jackson and his Wingnut and Weta production teams. He'll direct the two films back to back, with the sequel dealing with the 60-year period between "The Hobbit" and "The Fellowship of the Ring," the first of the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy.

New Line is overseeing development and will manage production. Both pics are being co-produced and co-financed by New Line Cinema and MGM, with Warner Bros. distributing domestically and MGM handling international.

Del Toro won't leave for New Zealand immediately as he's still in post-production on U's "Hellboy 2," due out in July. His previous pic, "Pan's Labyrinth," was released through New Line's Picturehouse and set a record as the highest grossing Spanish language film in U.S. box office history.

The official signing of del Toro comes four months after New Line settled a lawsuit with Jackson over "The Lord of the Rings" profits and announced that it had agreed with MGM to turn J.R.R. Tolkien's "Hobbit" into two live-action films. Sam Raimi had been preceived as the initial front-runner as director but del Toro had emerged in recent months as the likely candidate.

The studios didn't give a start date on production and don't yet have a script. Though no screenplay deal's been set, it's expected that the "LOTR" scripting team of Jackson, Walsh and Philippa Boyens will collaborate with del Toro.

With del Toro blocking out four years for the project, it's likely that the studios are aiming at starting shooting next year and releasing the films in late 2011 and 2012.

Jackson's WETA stages, post-production and visual effects facilities -- built for "The Lord of the Rings" -- will be used for both films. And New Zealand will again be the site of Middle-earth, with the story centering on Bilbo Baggins taking the Ring of Power from Gollum.

For New Line, which generated close to $3 billion in worldwide grosses from "LOTR," the signing of del Toro's the first major talent attachment since the minimajor was folded into Warner Bros. on Feb. 29. The scaled-down New Line will be producing mostly genre pics along with the occasional tentpole -- such as "The Hobbit."

The announcement comes in the wake of moves by MGM's Parent to build up a homegrown slate via projects such as this week's $2 million spec deal for "The Zookeeper."

For del Toro, it's a chance to put his stamp on one of Hollywood's most premiere franchises. He'd been eyed as a likely helmer for "Halo" -- with Parent producing and Jackson and Walsh exec producing -- but that deal never materialized.

The Mexican director is specialized in fantasy, breaking into the biz in 1993 with "Cronos," followed by "Mimic," "The Devil's Backbone," "Blade II," "Hellboy" and "Pan's Labyrinth."

Read more about it here too.

Still Blinking

"There are a handful of archbishops who are unhappy with us and the Anglican Church of Canada," said Katharine Jefferts Schori yesterday down in Miama, Florida.

Ah, another variation on her "coalition of the unhappy" statements. Besides the patronizing and dismissive tone, it seems obvious that the Presiding Bishop has not read the decision handed down by Judge Randy Bellows earlier this month.

Perhaps she's too busy blinking.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

A bishop prepares for Lambeth ...

How about a fresh cup of reality?

Well, we had written a review of the video above, but decided that the video below accomplishes more in three and half minutes than we could with ten paragraphs. Something is missing from the video. It's often called the "Elephant in the Room," or the "Emperor's New Clothes," but frankly we thought it was time for the parrot again:

The question we ask, as much as we love listening to the Archbishop of Canterbury speak - and we do, very much - the question we ask is how can any bishop trust another bishop when the chief pastor bishop cannot even admit that there is "division of the first magnitude" going on outside his palace gates?

Just how long has he been sitting in that chair?

Sadly, this video illustrates in great symbolic detail an archbishop who is so out-of-touch, ensconced in his comfy chair inside the confines of his ancient palace walls when it might have behooved him just to record his comfy chair chat from his local Starbucks.

Just imagine.

What we see here instead, is an Archbishop of Canterbury who has created an environment free from bishops suing laity, bishops suing clergy, bishops defrocking clergy, bishops deposing bishops, bishops suing bishops, bishops wigging out so much that judgment flies out the window and they start threatening to defrock the general editor of the English Standard Version of the Bible, for heaven's sake. Hello? Apparently, none of that is visible from inside this ivory tower.

Pull up a comfy chair. A full course of denial is on the menu.

Trust is built on truth. If the Archbishop of Canterbury can not even bring himself in this video to tell the truth, how can he expect the type of transparent trust that he envisions at his conference? There is no safety when one is looking down the barrel of lawsuits and defrockings.

How about a fresh cup of reality? Or, as they might say down at the local Starbucks, "get real."

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Theologian J.I. Packer and eight other clergy respond to Canadian Bishop Ingham's threat to defrock them for changing Anglican jurisdictions

BB NOTE: You know things are getting bizarre when a revisionist bishop, who was the focus of the Windsor Report's admonition against the blessings of same sex unions, sets out to defrock one of this century's most distinguished theologians, whom Time Magazine recognized as one of the twenty-five most influential evangelicals. And with reason: J.I. Packer, amongst his many accomplishments, is the general editor of the Revised Standard Version of the Bible. Many have read Knowing God. You can read more about Dr. Packer, as well as see a list of some of his publications here. It just boggles the mind that Bishop Ingham would think that publicly defrocking Dr. Packer and his eight colleagues would help his cause. Thing are getting mighty feisty north of the border these days.

By the way, here's an excellent talk by Dr. Packer called "
The Glory of God and the Reviving of Religion":

And so here is statement released today by Dr. Packer and eight of his fellow clergy who belong to the Anglican Network in Canada and have transferred their orders to the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone, under the care of the Anglican Primate, Archbishop Gregory Venables and under the local care of Bishop Donald Harvey.

Statement by nine Anglican Network in Canada clergy to Bishop Michael Ingham

Delivered April 21, 2008

We, the undersigned clergy, are writing in response to the Notice of Presumption of Abandonment of Ministry that you have sent to each of us. We would like to point out that the Notice is not in compliance with the Canons in that it does not set out the required facts but simply repeats the language of the Canon. The canonical process has therefore not been engaged.

We have not abandoned the "ministry to which we were ordained". Each of us was ordained into Anglican ministry; indeed, we were ordained into ministry in the "Church of God" as per our ordination vows. We have been privileged to serve in the Anglican ministry for many years and it is our intention and prayer that we may continue in the Anglican ministry.

Further, it is our intention to remain members of the Anglican Church. We are not leaving the Anglican Church to become members of another church or to minister in another church, which is the concern of Canon XIX.

However, with deep reluctance and regret we have concluded that we cannot continue the Anglican ministry to which we were ordained under your jurisdiction. The Diocese, under your leadership, has departed from historic, orthodox Anglican teaching and practice. It has departed from what the Primates have unanimously recognized as the standard of teaching of the Anglican Communion. The Diocese is in a state of broken or impaired communion with the majority of Anglicans worldwide. Sadly, it appears the Anglican Church of Canada has now similarly departed from Anglican teaching and practice.

We have therefore determined that in order to uphold our ordination vows, we must leave your jurisdiction, and by this letter, we hereby relinquish the licences we hold from the Bishop of New Westminster. Each of us will receive a licence to continue our present parish ministries from Bishop Donald Harvey, who, as you know, is under the jurisdiction of the Primate of the Southern Cone. In this way, we will be able to continue our Anglican ministry within the Anglican Church, under the jurisdiction of and in communion with those who remain faithful to historic, orthodox Anglicanism and as part of the Anglican Communion worldwide.

Signed by:

Rev. Dr. James I. Packer
Rev. Dr. Trevor Walters
Rev. David Short
Rev. Simon Chin
Rev. Stephen Leung
Rev. Dr. Archie Pell
Rev. James Wagner
Rev. Dan Gifford
Rev. Mike Stewart

Monday, April 21, 2008

Schori skips town

Yep, no sign of Katharine Jefferts Schori in New York this past week. Apparently she fled to the other side of the country. But have no fear, Benedict was here and he had a few things to say about the "splintering" of Christian churches over "so-called prophetic actions that are based on a hermeneutic not always consonant with the datum of Scripture and Tradition."

Now who do we think he's talking about here?

Such "so-called prophetic actions" cause Christian communities to "give up the attempt to act as a unified body, choosing instead to function according to the idea of 'local options,'" Benedict said, and as such lose their connections to Christians in other times and places.

No wonder Schori skipped town.

House Concerts: All this and music too!

This past weekend I attended my first "House Concert" up in Maryland. Singer/Songwriter Steve Seskin was the featured artist, but there were also performances of local folks artists as well. Steve has written many songs, including the Grammy-nominated “Grown Men Don’t Cry,” recorded by Tim McGraw, and “Don’t Laugh at Me,” winner of NSAI Song of the Year and Music Row Magazine Song of the Year in 1999 as recorded by Mark Wills.

House Concerts are growing in number all across the United States, especially on the folk circuit. Some of them are gaining quite a lot of attention, recalling the coffeehouse circuit from decades ago. You can learn more about House Concerts here.

Folk enthusiasts open up their homes to the public and basically through e-mail lists, flyers, websites, and word of mouth, the concert is advertised, sometimes with hundreds of people showing up and sometimes for smaller more intimate concerts. Who knew!

People come and for a suggested donation and the opportunity to purchase CDs and swap howdies and are welcomed to not only a great concert but the opportunity to meet other folk music enthusiasts as well. Usually there's a potluck, with guests bringing food and drinks to share, but at the House Concert I went to the hosts fixed a terrific dinner which we ate during the interval. The concert can take place anywhere in the house, from the living room, family room, basement, or anywhere else that the acoustics are good. It was an amazing and diverse group of people who came Saturday night and I had a great time!

Since my childhood friend, singer/songwriter Kathy Stanley was hosting this House Concert, I stayed for the weekend and was able to spend some time with Steve and Kathy, talking about music and the innovative ways folk and country artists in particular get their music out to the public. It was a great time of discussion and laughter and I found it all quite inspiring and fun.

Here's an example of a House Concert featuring Steve Seskin. There are two others as well available at YouTube. Just click here and enjoy. And pass the veggie salad.

"Let my people go"

Yep, it's Dylan. It's Dylan jammin' in Israel circa 1987.
Big time tip of the tinfoil to

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Sunday Night at the Cafe

The hand of the LORD was upon me, and he brought me out by the Spirit of the LORD and set me in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. He led me back and forth among them, and I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry. He asked me, "Son of man, can these bones live?"

I said, "O Sovereign LORD, you alone know."

Then he said to me, "Prophesy to these bones and say to them, 'Dry bones, hear the word of the LORD! This is what the Sovereign LORD says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life. I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the LORD.' "

So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I was prophesying, there was a noise, a rattling sound, and the bones came together, bone to bone. I looked, and tendons and flesh appeared on them and skin covered them, but there was no breath in them.

Then he said to me, "Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to it, 'This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe into these slain, that they may live.' " So I prophesied as he commanded me, and breath entered them; they came to life and stood up on their feet—a vast army.

Then he said to me: "Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They say, 'Our bones are dried up and our hope is gone; we are cut off.' Therefore prophesy and say to them: 'This is what the Sovereign LORD says: O my people, I am going to open your graves and bring you up from them; I will bring you back to the land of Israel. Then you, my people, will know that I am the LORD, when I open your graves and bring you up from them. I will put my Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land. Then you will know that I the LORD have spoken, and I have done it, declares the LORD.'
-Ezekiel 37:1-14