Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Wednesday Night at the Cafe: You are loved

The Party's Over?

The indomitable Anglican Curmudgeon comments on the Covenant. From here:
ECUSA will never sign on to the Covenant, because it would have to extend the moratoria recommended by the ACC, and it will never go back on what it decided at GC 2009 with regard to abandoning those moratoria when it felt like it, and not because the rest of the Communion pleaded with it not to do so. Also, by not signing the Covenant, it will not subject itself to a declaration by the Standing Committee that its confirmation of the Rev. Canon Glasspool to the episcopate would constitute an "act incompatible with the Covenant."

Nevertheless, the other Churches that do sign on to the Covenant can still take steps that will have "relational consequences" for ECUSA if it goes ahead. And by not signing on to the Covenant as a Church, ECUSA opens up two cans of worms: (1) as the ABC makes clear, the Instruments of Communion may well invite individual Dioceses to sign on to it (as I showed in this earlier post, the individual Dioceses will have to make the decision in any event); and (2) the way will then be clear for ACNA to sign on to it.
Tip of the Tinfoil to Sarah - who rocks on! And this came to mind as we read Curmudgeon tonight:

Monday, December 28, 2009

Rowan Williams at Christmas

The Archbishop of Canterbury preached at Canterbury Cathedral. From here:
Relationship is the new thing at Christmas, the new possibility of being related to God as Jesus was and is. But here's the catch and the challenge. To come into this glorious future is to learn how to be dependent on God. And that word tends to have a chilly feel for us, especially us who are proudly independent moderns. We speak of 'dependent' characters with pity and concern; we think of 'dependency' on drugs and alcohol; we worry about the 'dependent' mind set that can be created by handouts to the destitute. In other words, we think of dependency as something passive and less than free.

But let's turn this round for a moment. If we think of being dependent on the air we breathe, or the food we eat, things look different. Even more if we remind ourselves that we depend on our parents for learning how to speak and act and above all how to love. There is a dependence that is about simply receiving what we need to live; there is a dependence that is about how we learn and grow. And part of our human problem is that we mix up this entirely appropriate and lifegiving dependency with the passivity that can enslave us. In seeking (quite rightly) trying to avoid passivity we can get trapped in the fantasy that we don't need to receive and to learn.

Which is why it matters that our reading portrays the Son in the way it does - radiant, creative, overflowing with life and intelligence. The Son is all these things because he is dependent, because he receives his life from the Father. And when we finally grow up in to the fullness of his life, we shall, like him, be gladly and unashamedly dependent - open to receiving all God has to give, open to learn all he has to teach. This is a 'dependency' that is utterly creative and the very opposite of passive. It is a matter of being aligned with the freest activity we can imagine, God's eternal love, flowing through us.
Sermon Live: Here is the audio of The Archbishop of Canterbury's Christmas Sermon:

Read his sermon here.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Today at the Cafe: Why yesterday matters

Yes, today I have to go the mall, joining so many others in the same ritual. But it's good to pause a moment and remember why yesterday matters so much.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

It's not about the tour guide ...

Jamie Brown reminds us what it's all about - Linus would be proud.

Keep Jesus central
Shame on any music ministry or worship leader who set out to dazzle with their creativity, impress with their musical polish, delight with their pomp, or entertain with their talent. They’re like a grand canyon tour guide who can’t stop talking about his shiny name badge. He distracts from the main attraction and reveals his own vanity. Compared to the splendor of the grand canyon, his name badge is nothing. People come to the grand canyon to see the grand canyon, not the tour guide. An effective tour guide points people to the main attraction and steps out of the way.

This Christmas, and all year round, point people to the greatness of God as revealed in his Son Jesus Christ, and then step out of the way. O come, let us adore Him.

Jamie has more here.

George Will: "The Episcopal Church has become a at prayer - liberal politics in vestments"

In a profile on Thomas Reese, S.J., George Will writes of "2009's most intriguing development in Christianity."


Having seen much change -- and much resistance to it -- Reese is relaxed about 2009's most intriguing development in Christianity, the Vatican's enticement of disaffected Anglicans. Rome is saying to individuals, and perhaps to entire parishes and even dioceses: "Come on over." It is trolling with rules, recently written, that will enable Anglicans-become-Catholics to retain some of their liturgy. The church will accept some already married priests, and perhaps married seminarians, but not bishops.

The Vatican says it is not raiding but merely answers to Anglican knocks on its door. Combined, however, with Pope Benedict XVI's having appealed to dissident conservative Catholics by removing most restrictions on celebrating the traditional Latin Mass, the courtship of Anglicans looks like an aggressive -- although not improperly so -- attempt to consolidate an expanded Catholicism.

There are 1.1 billion Catholics. Anglicanism is the third-largest Christian communion (Eastern Orthodox is second) but has just 80 million adherents, of whom only 2.3 million are Americans, and a mere 16,000 of them -- those in New Hampshire -- have helped to precipitate the Vatican's move. The election of a gay Episcopalian as New Hampshire's bishop was one brick over a load for conservatives, who think the Episcopal Church has become a at prayer -- liberal politics in vestments.

Read it all here.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

O Holy Night

Ephraim Radner and The Episcopal Church

When the Anglican Communion Institute (ACI) hit the Episcopal center stage several years ago, it arrived smack-dab in the center of their version of Stage Three of the Five Stages to Decision that we mull over from time to time here at the Cafe. It was time for dealing - there was still hope left in The Episcopal Church, after all, it just needed to be a bit kinder, a bit gentler. All those unhelpful veterans of the TEC furniture-smashing uprisings were quickly departing or being shown the back door, while there in the shadows was emerging this newly renamed, newly relocated ACI Gang to pick up where the the AAC Gang left off.

Well it seems today that ACI member Ephraim Radner has now arrived at a similar conclusion that so many before him have made as well.

The Episcopal Church is irretrievably broken.

And sadly, very sadly, there's little sign in its present form that it will ever be fixed.

Ephraim writes a brilliant essay (still calling for kindness and gentleness and I do agree with him there - let's keep the cream-pie throwing to a minimum) that is just a-must-read for any who, following the recent actions of the Diocese of Los Angeles, have found themselves entering their own brand of Stage Four: Mourning.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Tuesday Night at the Cafe: FIelds of Gold

And so it begins ...

Thanks, Greg, for posting the Opening Round of the appeal to the Supreme Court of the Commonwealth of Virginia by the Episcopal Church and the Diocese of Virginia after Judge Randy Bellow's court ruled overwhelmingly in favor of the Virginia churches that voted to separate from the Diocese of Virginia and the Episcopal Church three years ago. The Virginia churches will respond to these briefs by the end of January.

You can read the first round of briefs from the Episcopal Church, the Diocese of Virginia (sans Bishop Lee), and a round of briefs by other denominations (that's actually causing quite a stir at the local level of some of those denominations, by the way - oops!) here at the indomitable SF.

Monday, December 21, 2009

The Rev'd Dr. John Yates looks back at 30 years as rector of the historic Falls Church in Virginia

From the Anglican District of Virginia:

The Rev. Dr. John W. Yates talks about his life and ministry and what he has learned over the last 30 years as the rector of The Falls Church in Falls Church, Virginia.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Sunday at the Cafe: In the Bleak Midwinter

The Economist focuses on Harry Potter

A fascinating article from The Economist focuses on the Harry Potter phenomenon. Here's an excerpt:

Harry Potter is a wholly different product. Instead of A-listers the films feature hitherto obscure child actors and British theatrical talent. Perhaps the biggest star is Alan Rickman, previously known to American cinema-goers (if at all) as the villain in “Die Hard”. Over time they have faded neither commercially nor artistically. If anything the reverse is true. After the first two films the Harry Potter franchise was handed to non-American directors more associated with independent film and television. Alfonso Cuarón, Mike Newell and David Yates have been given a good deal of autonomy by Warner Bros.

Harry Potter was in the vanguard of a new approach to big-budget film-making. Most modern blockbuster franchises have two things in common: they are based on known properties such as books and comics, and they are steered by respected but little-known directors. The successful “Spider-Man” films are directed by Sam Raimi, a cult horror-film maker. Peter Jackson, a New Zealander, was asked to steer “Lord of the Rings”, the first instalment of which appeared a month after Harry Potter. Perhaps the best example of the new model is the revived “Batman” franchise, now in the care of an independent-film director, Christopher Nolan. It is again producing critical cheers and plenty of money for Warner Bros. None of these franchises revolves around a star actor, although all have created stars.

In Harry Potter’s case, creative experimentation is possible because of the rigorous control exerted over many aspects of the production. The team that has worked on the Harry Potter films is unusually stable. Mr Heyman and the lead designers have stayed put throughout. All but one of the screenplays have been written by Steve Kloves. Stimulated by a steady supply of complex work, local outfits like Double Negative and the Moving Picture Company have grown in competence and can now handle just about all the films’ special-effects needs. Even more unusually, some sets have been allowed to remain in Leavesden Studios for almost ten years. As Mr Heyman puts it, directors may shoot the action from different angles but they are filming the same Hogwarts. It is as though the auteur tradition has been fused with the industrial approach to film-making that was common practice in Hollywood before the war.

Read it all here.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Anglican Communion Standing Committee calls for a no vote on new Episcopal Bishop

From here - remember "gracious restraint" in Anglican-speak means "don't do it":

The following resolution was passed by the Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion meeting in London on 15-18 December, and approved for public distribution.

Resolved that, in the light of:

  1. The recent episcopal nomination in the Diocese of Los Angeles of a partnered lesbian candidate
  2. The decisions in a number of US and Canadian dioceses to proceed with formal ceremonies of same-sex blessings
  3. Continuing cross-jurisdictional activity within the Communion

The Standing Committee strongly reaffirm Resolution 14.09 of ACC 14 supporting the three moratoria proposed by the Windsor Report and the associated request for gracious restraint in respect of actions that endanger the unity of the Anglican Communion by going against the declared view of the Instruments of Communion.

Friday, December 18, 2009

It has started snowing in DC

Rowan Williams explains why the Anglican Communion needs to ratify the Anglican Covenant


The final Anglican Covenant has been released to the public with a Section IV restored. The Archbishop of Canterbury speaks to it here:

BB NOTE: One of the more interesting developments is the centralized authority of what is now called The Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion. Section 4.2.2 defines The Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion as being "responsible to the Anglican Consultative Council and the Primates’ Meeting, shall monitor the functioning of the Covenant in the life of the Anglican Communion on behalf of the Instruments. In this regard, the Standing Committee shall be supported by such other committees or commissions as may be mandated to assist in carrying out this function and to advise it on questions relating to the Covenant."

Section IV of course was the section that was separated from the rest of the Anglican Covenant during the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) meeting in Jamaica earlier this year by a progressive coalition led by The Episcopal Church (and followed by some rather interesting DC-style political ops since then). Section IV focuses on what happens when a province breaks the covenant by instituting actions such as the one now underway from the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles that belligerently seeks to break the bonds of fellowship in the Communion.

As the ACC meeting last spring nearly fell into chaos, Section IV was rescued by the Archbishop of Canterbury and referred to the Joint Standing Committee (a committee of both the ACC and the Primates Meeting) who recently met to deliberate over retaining Section IV.

It does appear that a Section IV has been restored to the Anglican Covenant. Here is the final text of Section IV:

4.2 The Maintenance of the Covenant and Dispute Resolution

(4.2.1) The Covenant operates to express the common commitments and mutual accountability which hold each Church in the relationship of communion one with another. Recognition of, and fidelity to, this Covenant, enable mutual recognition and communion. Participation in the Covenant implies a recognition by each Church of those elements which must be maintained in its own life and for which it is accountable to the Churches with which it is in Communion in order to sustain the relationship expressed in this Covenant.

(4.2.2) The Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion, responsible to the Anglican Consultative Council and the Primates’ Meeting, shall monitor the functioning of the Covenant in the life of the Anglican Communion on behalf of the Instruments. In this regard, the Standing Committee shall be supported by such other committees or commissions as may be mandated to assist in carrying out this function and to advise it on questions relating to the Covenant.

(4.2.3) When questions arise relating to the meaning of the Covenant, or about the compatibility of an action by a covenanting Church with the Covenant, it is the duty of each covenanting Church to seek to live out the commitments of Section 3.2. Such questions may be raised by a Church itself, another covenanting Church or the Instruments of Communion.

(4.2.4) Where a shared mind has not been reached the matter shall be referred to the Standing Committee. The Standing Committee shall make every effort to facilitate agreement, and may take advice from such bodies as it deems appropriate to determine a view on the nature of the matter at question and those relational consequences which may result. Where appropriate, the Standing Committee shall refer the question to both the Anglican Consultative Council and the Primates’ Meeting for advice.

(4.2.5) The Standing Committee may request a Church to defer a controversial action. If a Church declines to defer such action, the Standing Committee may recommend to any Instrument of Communion relational consequences which may specify a provisional limitation of participation in, or suspension from, that Instrument until the completion of the process set out below.

(4.2.6) On the basis of advice received from the Anglican Consultative Council and the Primates’ Meeting, the Standing Committee may make a declaration that an action or decision is or would be “incompatible with the Covenant”.
(4.2.7) On the basis of the advice received, the Standing Committee shall make recommendations as to relational consequences which flow from an action incompatible with the Covenant. These recommendations may be addressed to the Churches of the Anglican Communion or to the Instruments of the Communion and address the extent to which the decision of any covenanting Church impairs or limits the communion between that Church and the other Churches of the Communion, and the practical consequences of such impairment or limitation. Each Church or each Instrument shall determine whether or not to accept such recommendations.

(4.2.8) Participation in the decision making of the Standing Committee or of the Instruments of Communion in respect to section 4.2 shall be limited to those members of the Instruments of Communion who are representatives of those churches who have adopted the Covenant, or who are still in the process of adoption.

(4.2.9) Each Church undertakes to put into place such mechanisms, agencies or institutions, consistent with its own Constitution and Canons, as can undertake to oversee the maintenance of the affirmations and commitments of the Covenant in the life of that Church, and to relate to the Instruments of Communion on matters pertinent to the Covenant.

Read the entire Covenant here.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Breaking News: St. Andrews Mt. Pleasant votes overwhelming to leave The Episcopal Church and join the Anglican Church in North America

From here:

To our Sisters and Brothers in Christ at St. Andrew’s:

On behalf of the staff and former Sr. Warden’s we wish to thank you for your faithful commitment to engage the discernment process this fall. While the question before our congregation was a serious and sobering one, the depth and richness of the materials and sermons combined with your participation in LifeGroups has worked to deepen our corporate understanding of the Lord’s direction in our life and the call upon this parish, so, thank you.

Last night we gathered to count the response forms and by a 93% – 6% margin the congregation has overwhelmingly recommended that St. Andrew’s affiliate with the Anglican Church in North America and separate from The Episcopal Church. Here are the results:

902 total discernment response forms submitted.

  • 838 recommended that St. Andrew’s Church affiliate with the Anglican Church in North America and separate from The Episcopal Church.
  • 58 recommended that we remain within The Episcopal Church.
  • 4 response forms were submitted unmarked.
  • 2 response forms had the word, “abstain” written across them.

We were very pleased with the total number of people participating in this discernment process and we were equally pleased with the clarity with which you – and the Lord through you – spoke to us. We will gather as a Vestry in the New Year to take up this matter. Be assured we will keep you informed of our decisions. Please keep us in your prayers.

Know that this letter comes with our continued prayers for this parish and for you; especially that you may know the nearness of Christ this Advent and Christmas season.

With great affection in Christ,

The Vestry

Read it all here. St. Andrew's Mt. Pleasant is currently the largest parish in the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Wednesday at the Cafe

The early bird catches the worm - or a White House breakfast!

See what happens when you show up early for a White House Tour? From the AP:
It wasn't a state dinner, and they didn't crash it on purpose.

Still, a Georgia couple who showed up at the White House a day early for a tour somehow wound up at an invitation-only breakfast with President Barack Obama and the first lady. It left the White House once again explaining how people who were not on an event guest list wound up being ushered into the presidential mansion anyway.

The improbable adventure of Harvey and Paula Darden, Obama supporters from Hogansville, Ga., took place on Veterans Day, two weeks before Virginia socialites Tareq and Michaele Salahi infamously crashed the Obamas' state dinner for the prime minister of India.

The Dardens mistakenly showed up a day early for a tour scheduled through their congressman.

The White House and Secret Service both said the Dardens went through the appropriate security screenings and were allowed into the breakfast as a courtesy because there were no public tours the day they arrived.

That explanation was news to Harvey Darden, 67, a retired pharmacist, who said he and his wife never were told about the breakfast. They thought they were simply starting their tour until they were ushered into the East Room, offered a buffet spread and told they'd be meeting the president.

"The further we got into the White House, the more surprised we were," Darden told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. "My wife looked at me and I looked at her, and I said, 'You know, I don't know if we're in the right place.'"

They approached a White House aide with their concern that they had veered off course but were told to "just go with the flow," Darden said.

"I felt kind of funny because I was the only man in the room that wasn't dressed in a coat and tie," he added. "I was just a plain tourist."

Read it all here.

A Christmas Wish

There are all kinds of wars.

Late Night at the Cafe: Lord of the Dance

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Hospitality has found a home in the world of worship — and there’s a lesson in this for us all

From here:
It's not uncommon today to linger after a church service for a cup of coffee, perhaps a doughnut and a little time to chat with fellow worshipers. The days of get-in-and-get-out might just be behind us.

Indeed, churches are rediscovering the power of hospitality, which goes back thousands of years — think of Jesus feeding 5,000 people by the Sea of Galilee.

What happened along the way? Christianity suddenly became a much more intellectual enterprise after the Protestant Reformation, when churches split into different denominations over theological ideas. Preachers and teachers tried to attract followers with compelling insights and ideas. The focus of the faith shifted from the heart to the head, leaving the stomach behind.

Today, congregations are trying to provide more than intellectual nourishment by putting restaurants and coffee bars in their buildings.In our polarized and fractured society, people of different backgrounds are invited to come together in these houses of God to have conversation over a meal or a drink — in spite of their differences.

"Through hospitality, we discover the ways we are both alike and different," says Christine Pohl, author of Making Room: Recovering Hospitality as a Christian Tradition. "When we welcome other people into our lives, we create space in which each person's gifts and insights can be shared."

Read it all here.

Surprised by Second Life

Yes, it's a big surprise.

I've been appointed to the Leadership Team of the Anglican Cathedral in Second Life. It's a global ministry of Anglicans that come together in liturgical worship from the Books of Common Prayer from around the world, including the Episcopal Church, the Church of England, and the Church of New Zealand, and other provinces from across the Anglican Communion.

In fact, right now the Cathedral is sponsoring a Posada, where different organizations and individuals are hosting icons of Joseph and Mary as they make their way to the Cathedral in Second Life on Christmas Eve. This is bringing Christians together ecumenically from around the world. Only just today, the Anglican pastor of the cathedral gathered with a Lutheran pastor from Finland as we worshipped in this season of Advent together.

At the same time, Second Life is a dramatic mission field that reflects the reality of our fallen world. It is a mission field for evangelism - evangelism for a new millennium. (The photo above was taken during a recent Sunday Morning Prayer Service at the Anglican Cathedral in Second Life.)

If you want to learn more about the Anglican Cathedral in Second Life or the Anglican Ecumenical Society, which I am also a member of who's mission is to reach out ecumenically to other Christians in Second Life, check out their Facebook pages (here and here) and websites (here and here) or drop a note. This is where Real Life breaks in to Second Life - and people are meeting the Lord and finding their whole life changed.

But not only that, I am finding new opportunities to rebuild bridges that have been sadly burned here in the United States. American Episcopalians and American Anglicans are coming together in worship and building community in Second Life, a community that is based on prayer and studying the scriptures together and building up what was once torn down.

Yes, I'd say we're all surprised.

The two photos above are of the chapel I built in Second Life. It's called Ridley Chapel.

No, I never thought in a million years I'd learn how to do that.

Here's a replay of a report from the PBS Series, Religion & Ethics on the Anglican Cathedral in Second Life:

You can also read more online here, including interviews with folks I now call great friends. It still amazes me that they want me to join them - after all is said and done.

This one is for all of you wonderful, wonderful friends in Second Life - especially now when you have shown me such love and support in the loss of Uncle Bob this week. God bless you all - real life breaks through. Maybe we won't ever meet in Real Life, but we will meet One Day. This one is for you, all of you.

Here is the schedule of services for Advent and Christmas at the Anglican Cathedral in Second Life - come join us. And if you need help in learning how to enter Second Life, just let me know!

Monday, December 14, 2009

The Five Stages to Decision Revisited Again

BB NOTE: A republish of a republish since once again, events seem to warrant it. I do support the Episcopal bishop of South Carolina and I ponder his Quaker-style "passive resistance" - which is a rebellion, even though it's within the ranks, it's still a rebellion. It will be interesting to see the Executive Board or General Convention or the activists will leave South Carolina alone, humoring the diocese until the next episcopal election comes along and then discipline the diocese for it's rebellious ways. Or will they become incensed as more and more of the laity - who do indeed hold the purse after all - join this passive resistance? Obviously something is happening here, but do you know what it is?

This was originally run in March 2008:

With current events being as they are, thought we might post these musings again from earlier this month.

Over the years we've heard folks bring up the Five Stages of Grieving regarding what has been happening in The Episcopal Church. I just read Greg Griffith's comment about that over at T19 and it got me to thinking. What if we pass through five stages to make the decision that we must face the truth.

I might identify the five stages this way: Rejection, Fear, Dealing, Mourning, and Freedom. How can they be translated into the five stages we go through toward the place of decision. In our case, it is making the decision to face the crisis now tearing the Anglican Communion apart. To tell the truth.

Over the many years I've been involved in the governing structures of the Episcopal Church, both as an observer and as a participant, I've seen these stages at work with colleagues, friends, opponents, and leaders.

Some of these stages, human beings that we are, are blended together. But at the end of the day, we can probably find examples in our life - as well as pointing out examples in others - that we are on a road marked by these signs.

#1 Rejection

This is the moment when we discover what is really happening inside the Episcopal Church. For different people over the years there have been different moments when one is confronted with that moment when we can't believe what is happening.

We are shocked.

A General Convention is often a good place to start. If someone goes to General Convention, the best bet is that they are going to be in this stage when they get home. For me it was General Convention in Indianapolis in 1994 when I saw an Episcopal bishop display inappropriate exhibitionist behavior on an escalator while on this way into the House of Bishops. But it could be a sermon preached, a teaching, an article, a liturgical revision, an unanswered phone call - but something, something wakes us up that is so startling, so shocking that we feel that the very foundations of the Church have been rejected. My guess is that our theological opponents, for different reasons, have had their moments of this first stage as well and have stories to tell, revealing the depth of the division. The publication of the Windsor Report - for the orthodox or progressive - was one of those first stage moments.

So, what happens next?

#2 Fear

Some people get stuck in this stage and never leave it. No matter what happens on the outside, we are horrified and can't believe what is happening to our church. Some end right here, throw their hands up in the air and flee. Some never come back, they are the walking wounded, warming pews elsewhere or sitting in front of the TV with the remote. But everyone goes through this stage - the bewilderment that can turn to outrage of what is happening to us and the feeling that little is being done. For the other side of anger is fear. If we don't just throw up our hands and storm off, then we come to the next stage.

#3 Dealing

I might call this stage one of engagement or bargaining. It's time to stop and make a deal - bring everyone together no matter what stage they're in and make a deal. Or it may be our attempt to "deal with it" and "move on." For example, we might try to fix it and so engagement begins. We try to bargain our way out. Some start standing for election, some start attending councils and conventions and work legislatively, some come up with plans on how to transform the church from within, some make deals and depart (which doesn't actually solve the problem - in fact, it can send everyone back to #1). All of these are bargaining, all of these are "Let's Make A Deal."

Again, if the church or diocese is not so embroiled in what is happening on the national level, many can remain in this stage for a long, long time. But if one is trying to address what caused the initial "how can this be happening" moment, at some point the bargaining comes to a dead-end. Reality sets in.

I've seen this happen over and over and over again. At some point one realizes that the problem is not just theological or philosophical, it is structural. The institutional structures are no longer able to deliver on the mission of the Church. It's not working. The Church is in decline, loosing membership, and is embroiled in division over foundational issues that continues to worsen. The structure itself contributes to the crisis.

In the recent past, this has meant changing the mission to fit the structures. But then we have to agree to change the mission - and that leads us all back to Stage #1. If one is not able to change the mission to fit the structures, then the evidence continues to mount that division is underway. No deal can be made. It's a dead end. This leads us either back to Stage #1 (and that can happen over and over for a long time) or to this next stage:

#4 Mourning

This is the Dark Night of the Soul, the "Good Friday" moment when the realization sinks in that it's all not working. It's lonely - friends seem to be in a different stage or no stage at all. It is the stage of immense sorrow and depression. Some people want to avoid this stage entirely and jump right to the last stage, but that appears to make matters worse. It's really just going back to #3. Some will do whatever they can to avoid this stage, returning back to Stage #1 and starting all over again, anything but to grieve the loss.

This is a the moment when we give up. It seems to be the lowest point of all and friends can seem few. It's about 2:30 p.m. on Good Friday and the disciples are in hiding.

Often people do try to move through this stage as rapidly as possible and so we start to see happy talk come from those who have escaped from the institutional structures on one hand and those who have gone back to Stage #3 on the other.

Stage #4 is the No Man's Land of the Stages, the stage we all want to avoid. But it is possibly is the most important stage of all because in this stage we do give up, we relinquish our rights, we fall on our knees, we give up.

At that point, Someone Else can step in. We dare Him to show up. We beg Him to show up. We fear He will show up. At some point, if we are serious about truth, it is at Stage Four that we will all meet each other again, at the Communion Rail or the Court Rail or down at the Bar. If we make it through Stage #4 without running away, or skipping away as the Happy Victorious, or lost in the Slough of Despond, we find ourselves faced with the door to the fifth stage. It's a locked door, by the way, as C.S. Lewis found out, but it is locked on the inside.

#5 Freedom

If we take our key and open the door what we find is that this isn't the victorious stage we thought it would be (and so we might be tempted to go back to #4 or worse - back to #1 - been there, done that, got the t-shirt).

This is not despair either (though it may feel like that sometimes). This is the stage when we have all walked through the Dark Night of Soul and met fellow pilgrims on the road (and who we find on the road can be the biggest surprise of them all). The ability to go back through the stages over and over and over again has grown wearisome. This is the stage of relinquishment, where we're ready to face the truth and walk our talk. No more happy-clappy press releases, no more posturing, no more threats, no more passive-aggressive tactics, no more denial, no more rage, no more lies and spinning and wishful thinking.

The most important ingredient that is now present, however, is the one ingredient that is missing through all the other stages and it is the one ingredient that can define best what stage we are in. If this ingredient is not present in all who are present, not just the invited, but the reluctantly invited, then we are not at the fifth stage.

That ingredient is trust.

In a real journey toward truth-telling and Truth-seeking, which are quite rare indeed, we may find ourselves surprisingly at the fifth stage. We are as surprised as anyone else. Pride got lost along the way. Transparency is what we expect of ourselves first. We can see the unexpected. The fire has refined us and not destroyed us, though we do carry the scars. We are set free, really free, to do the right thing. Trust breathes life into our hearts to take risks, to be innovative, to examine the soundness of the structures, to have faith based on truth and not wishful thinking. We are free to do the right thing, as God sees fit to do through us. We can throw furniture, but not at each other. We are like the Velveteen Rabbit. We have become real. "For it is for freedom Christ has set us free," Paul wrote to the Galatians. "Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery." We are free to speak truth in love and wait on the Lord.

And the reason we trust is not because we all have found ourselves trustworthy, we trust because we trust the Lord and He makes us trustworthy. "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding," Proverbs tells us. Well, this is the stage where that trust meets the road.

There is a famous picture that has become one of the most historical moments in a process toward peace and it was what propelled a certain rock singer to prominence on the global stage. The story behind that photo, on how those people came to that moment is a century-filled story of people walking through these stages, getting so far only to turn around and start over again. The three men in the photo risked it all. Right now it appears they have entered into some kind of fifth stage - but only time will tell. For now, they are indeed on the road.

Are we?

That is the question - we seem to celebrate being in Stage 2 or Stage 3 and then are bewildered to find ourselves in Stage 4 and ready to toss in the towel, only to have another incident come up and we wake up and fine ourselves back in Stage 1. It seems quite possible that this could go on for years and years and it will until trust is restored.

And how is trust restored but through a commitment to Truth. Then we will know the truth - and then what? The truth will set us free (John 8:32).

In the meantime, we keep watch - and we pray.

Father, I don't ask you to take my followers out of the world, but keep them safe from the evil one. They don't belong to this world, and neither do I. Your Word is the truth. So let this truth make them completely yours. I am sending them into the world, just as you sent me. I have given myself completely for their sake, so that they may belong completely to the truth.
-John 17:15-19

And on this note, tonight on the Cafe Stage:

First ACNA Provincial Council meets in Ontario

At the conclusion of the first meeting of the provincial council of the emerging new Anglican province of the Anglican Church in North America, the council released a summary of their meeting together, where they:
* Welcomed the new Diocese of the Gulf Atlantic and consented to the election of the Reverend Neil G. Lebhar as its first diocesan bishop. The College of Bishops also welcomed the Right Reverends Todd Hunter, David M. Loomis and Silas Tak Yin Ng as missionary bishops serving in the Anglican Mission in the Americas, the Right Reverend Harry S. Seamans as an Assisting Bishop in the Diocese of Mid-America and the Right Reverend Richard W. Lipka as an assisting bishop in the Missionary Diocese of All Saints.

* Gave thanks for the growing number of Provinces of the Anglican Communion that have declared themselves to be in full communion with the Anglican Church in North America, and the enthusiastic expressions of support from a growing number of Ecumenical partners.

* Expressed profound appreciation for the recently released Manhattan Declaration that affirms core Christian values regarding Religious Liberty, the Sanctity of Life and Holy Matrimony and urged all clergy and people to sign it.

* And, mindful of the controversy surrounding a bill concerning homosexual behavior that is being considered by the Uganda parliament, restated our commitment to the sacredness of every human person as made in the image of God, from conception to natural death and without regard for religious convictions or manner of life. We also gave thanks for the faithful witness of the Anglican Church of Uganda and encouraged them to stand firm against all forms of sexual exploitation and in their publicly stated commitment that “the Church is a safe place” for all persons, especially “those struggling with sexual brokenness.”
You may read the entire communique here.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Tonight at the Cafe: Joni Mitchell

Progressives target the Archbishop of Canterbury

Andrew Carey writes of liberals playing dirty. I haven't quite figured out why they are so angry since things appear to be going so well for them. From here:

It’s clear that liberal Anglicans are now targeting the Archbishop of Canterbury in a vitriolic campaign aimed at deflecting attention from their inability to win the argument over human sexuality on theological grounds.

The fall-out from the election in Los Angeles of a lesbian priest as assistant bishop has added to the pressure on Dr Rowan Williams from both sides in the dispute. Traditionalists are calling on him to make stronger statements condemning The Episcopal Church, while liberals are enraged that he would even dare to mildly question the American Church’s absolute and unfettered right to make its own decisions without regard for anyone else. To have their cake and eat it is the US style of belonging to international bodies and institutions.

The revisionist reading of the Bible based on special pleading and cultural relativism has left the majority of Anglicans unconvinced that there are grounds for overturning the church’s teaching on marriage and sexuality.

The unfortunate problem that liberals face is that their case was most intelligently made in Dr Williams’ lecture, ‘The Body’s Grace’. It hardly helps their case when he has intimated that he may no longer believe the argument himself.

“Archbishop Rowan is wrong as a Christian, he is wrong for the Church of England and he is wrong for the Anglican Communion,” said Colin Coward, the gay rights activist this week (‘Williams affirming image of Church as a place of prejudice and homophobia’, The Times, December 8, 2009). This was a relatively mild criticism compared to some of the vitriol on the liberal ‘Thinking Anglicans’ website (

The trouble is that liberal Anglicans seem to think that they have some sort of ownership of, or investment in, the Archbishop of Canterbury. It’s true that many of them strove to get him appointed, but they’d misunderstood both him and the nature of the office he was to undertake if they thought he was going to be their man from that day forwards.

The anger and vitriol also arises from a contrast they point to between his speedy reaction to the election of the lesbian priest, Canon Mary Glasspool, and his failure to condemn the anti-homosexual bill currently going through the Ugandan Parliament. The proposed bill in Uganda is indeed a dreadful and Draconian piece of legislation. If passed in its current form it would result in the death penalty for homosexuals, and a prison sentence or fine for anyone failing to report them. One couldn’t think of many more unChristian and pernicious pieces of law than this. Yet, there is disagreement in Uganda over the proposals among church leaders, legislators and the public so it is not too late for the Archbishop to intervene behind-the-scenes to persuade the Church of Uganda to come out strongly against the proposals, and even to levy pressure on the government.
(BB NOTE: It is interesting to note that the sudden liberal attention to internal Uganda politics mirrors the sudden liberal attention to internal Nigerian politics when Gene Robinson was elected - funny how that happens.)
But everyone still wants a public statement even though such a reaction from a high-profile representative of the former colonial power might actually have a counter-productive effect.

I’ve criticised the Archbishop in the past for not speaking out for persecuted Christians in many countries. In particular, I’ve often felt that he should openly oppose the blasphemy law in Pakistan which has done so much to make the lives of minorities unbearable. It seemed that year after year he failed to come up to the mark. However it was on a visit to Pakistan this summer that he courageously and firmly raised the issue of the blasphemy laws with the Pakistani government. At a stroke he’d accomplished something far more effective than a rent-a-quote reaction would have accomplished.

Furthermore, there is much unsung private diplomacy and contacts behind the scenes that go on as a result of the Archbishop’s ministry. Much of the ministry of successive Archbishops is private, pastoral and not for public consumption.

Read the entire op/ed here.

Friday Night at the Cafe: Remember

Friday, December 11, 2009

Robert H. Ailes (1935-2009)

Many of you have been aware that we've been praying for my Uncle Bob and I appreciate your prayers so very much. Uncle Bob passed away this morning. I am so grateful for him and for his life and for how he lived his life, the example he set not only with whom with whom he served, but also for his family. He loved his family and his country. I will miss him!

From here:

Born in San Francisco, California, Rear Admiral Ailes attended public schools in Virginia, Washington, D. C., California, Pennsylvania, Hawaii and Rhode Island. He attended the United States Naval Academy graduating and being commissioned on 7 June 1957.

Sea assignments include duty as CIC officer on the USS WILLARD KEITH (DD 775), as Operations Officer of the USS CONYNGHAM (DDG 17) and Commanding Officer of the USS HAMMERBERG (DE 1015) and USS VIRGINIA (CGN 38) in the U. S. Atlantic Fleet; and Executive Officer of the USS LONG BEACH (CGN 9) and USS SOMERS (DDG 34), Commanding Officer of the USS BROOKE (FFG 1) in the U. S. Pacific Fleet. In addition, Rear Admiral Ailes served as Operations Officer on the Staff of Destroyer-Division 222.

Shore assignments include postgraduate education at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterrey, California, where Rear Admiral Ailes received a Masters Degree in Operations Analysis; Nuclear Engineering Training at Bainbridge, Maryland, and West Milton, New York; duty as Commanding Officer and Director of the Officer Department of the U.S. Naval Nuclear Power School at Mare Island, California; duty in Washington as the Director of the Naval Forces Division in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Systems Analysis, Director of the Anti-Air Warfare Division in the Office of the Director for Naval Warfare and Director, Surface Combat Systems Division in the Office of the Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Surface Warfare. Rear Admiral Ailes was also Deputy Commander for Weapons and Combat Systems of the Naval Sea Systems Command as well as Commander, Space and Naval Warfare Sea Systems Command and served for 35 years in the United States Navy.

He was also on the faculty of George Mason University

Rear Admiral Ailes is the son of Rear Admiral and Mrs. John W. Ailes of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He is married to the former Clara Swift of Arlington, Virginia. They have two children: Susan and Lynn and six grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

In addition to all of this, he also participated in the Couples Night Out show at the Naval Yard each year with my aunt and loved hiking in the Blue Ridge Mountains with her. They have been married for 51 years.

LATER: Tonight we got out a lot of old pictures. Uncle Bob and Aunt Clara actually met in Junior High School in Arlington, Virginia, and later were classmates at the old Western High School in Washington, D.C. where my own parents also met in 10th grade. Looking at the pictures was like looking at American 20th century history, all rolled up into one family.

Tonight, as I remember Uncle Bob I remember his love for the Navy, passed down from his father and continues to own children, nephews and in another few weeks, his own grandson as well. Tomorrow is the Army/Navy Game, which for many years was an annual event in my family. I am sad he will miss the game - we were talking about only a few days ago - but I am grateful that he lived and not only is my family for better for it, so is my country.

UPDATE: My young cousin, Uncle Bob's grandson, wrote this on his Facebook page, "R.I.P Robert Ailes, December 11, 2009. To a brilliant and caring friend, mentor, and above all grandfather that i will always look up to, and keep in my heart." It's so interesting to connect as family on Facebook as we remember Uncle Bob, grandfather, brother, and friend.

Religion News Service: Stark Choice for The Episcopal Church

From here:
After years of warnings from Anglican leaders, the recent election of a lesbian bishop poses a stark question for the Episcopal Church: Does it want to continue to be a full member in the global Anglican Communion or go its own way?

In coming months, more than 100 Episcopal dioceses and bishops will answer that query by confirming or rejecting the election of the Rev. Mary Glasspool as suffragan (assistant) bishop of Los Angeles.

Glasspool, 55, has been with her partner since 1988, according to a biography she provided to the Diocese of Los Angeles; she is poised to become the second openly gay bishop elected in the 2.1 million-member Episcopal Church.

But a majority of bishops and standing committees in the Episcopal Church's 110 dioceses must vote to give their “consents,” or confirmation to Glasspool's election before she can be consecrated a bishop. Because that process involves the breadth of the church, it is likely to be an accurate reflection of Episcopalians' willingness to defy, or heed international pressure.

Within the U.S., the confirmation process has become more politicized in recent years, with Web sites fostering online campaigns against candidates. Two elections have been nullified in the last two years, though one of the bishops was later re-elected.

The spiritual leader of the Anglican Communion, Archbishop Rowan Williams, strongly warned Episcopalians that confirming Glasspool “will have very important implications.” Glasspool's election “raises very serious questions not just for the Episcopal Church and its place in the Anglican Communion but for the communion as a whole,” Williams said.

Read it all here.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

God bless you, Mr. President

I face the world as it is, and cannot stand idle in the face of threats to the American people. For make no mistake: evil does exist in the world. A non-violent movement could not have halted Hitler’s armies. Negotiations cannot convince al Qaeda’s leaders to lay down their arms. To say that force is sometimes necessary is not a call to cynicism – it is a recognition of history; the imperfections of man and the limits of reason.

Barack Obama, President of the United States
Upon accepting his Nobel Peace Prize
December 10, 2009

A Statement from the Communion Partners Clergy Steering Committee on the Bishop-Suffragan Election in the Diocese of Los Angeles

From here:

With the election of a non-celibate lesbian priest as Bishop Suffragan, the Diocese of Los Angeles has demonstrated its belief that membership in an international communion of churches is less important than unilaterally proceeding with an agenda of sexual liberation. We believe that this action is contrary to the best interest of the Episcopal Church and the health of the wider Anglican Communion. Where restraint has been respectfully requested by the leadership of the Communion, this action by the Diocese of Los Angeles is provocative, defiant and uncharitable.

We wish to distance ourselves from this action and urge our bishops and standing committees, as well as those of all the dioceses, to withhold consent for the consecration of the Bishop Suffragan-elect of the Diocese of Los Angeles.

The Communion Partners Advisory Committee

The Rev. Dr. Charles Alley; St. Matthew’s, Richmond
The Rt. Rev. Anthony J. Burton; Church of the Incarnation, Dallas
The Very Rev. Anthony Clark; The Cathedral of St. Luke, Orlando
The Rev. Stuart Brooks Keith; Episcopal Church of the Transfiguration, Vail
The Rev. Dr. Russell J. Levenson, St. Martin’s, Houston
The Rev. R. Leigh Spruill, St. George’s, Nashville

Read it all here.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Anglican Communion leaders show concern over L.A. Election of Suffragan Bishop

The Inter-Anglican Standing Commission on Unity, Faith and Order shows concern at the recent events from the Episcopal Church. From here:
An Episcopal election in Los Angeles, which remains to be confirmed or rejected by The Episcopal Church, took place during the meeting and was discussed by the Commission. It noted the words of the Archbishop of Canterbury that ‘the bishops of the Communion have collectively acknowledged that a period of gracious restraint in respect of actions which are contrary to the mind of the Communion is necessary if our bonds of mutual affection are to hold’. The Commission expressed the fervent hope that ‘gracious restraint’ would be exercised by The Episcopal Church in this instance.
A list of the commission's members follows:
The Most Revd Bernard Ntahoturi, Primate of Burundi and Chair of Commission The Rt Revd Dr Georges Titre Ande, Congo The Ven. Professor Dapo Asaju, Nigeria The Revd Canon Professor Paul Avis, England The Rt Revd Philip D Baji, Tanzania The Revd Canon Dr John Gibaut, World Council of Churches The Rt Revd Howard Gregory, West Indies The Revd Dr Katherine Grieb, Episcopal Church (USA) The Revd Canon Clement Janda, Sudan The Revd Sarah Rowland Jones, Southern Africa The Revd Dr Edison Muhindo Kalengyo, Uganda The Rt Revd Victoria Matthews, Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia The Revd Canon Dr Charlotte Methuen, England The Revd Dr Simon Oliver, Wales/England The Rt Revd Professor Stephen Pickard, Australia Dr Andrew Pierce, Ireland The Revd Canon Dr Michael Nai Chiu Poon, South East Asia The Revd Dr Jeremiah Guen Seok Yang, Korea The Rt Revd Tito Zavala, Bishop of Chile, Southern Cone The Revd Joanna Udal, the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Secretary for Anglican Communion Affairs The Revd Canon Dr Alyson Barnett-Cowan, Director for Unity, Faith and Order Mr Neil Vigers, of the Anglican Communion Office.

Now Online: Bob Dylan's The Little Drummer Boy

We'll see how long this stays up:

BB OBSERVATION: The drawings in the video are in the Dylan style of art. Bob Dylan takes his sketch drawings, has them digitally printed, and he then overpaints them with gouache or watercolor. The drawings in this video look to be very much in the same style, his own style, right down to the color schemes - are they his? Frankly, the scenes seem to be taken from his own childhood.

Here's a short example of Dylan original artwork:

General Convention 2009 Revisited: Episcopal House of Bishops Rescinds Windsor Moratorium

As we remember this watershed vote that led to the election of the new suffragan bishop of Los Angeles this past weekend, we also remember another iconic moment from 2009, that of the procession for the installation of the archbishop for the Anglican Church of North America, a procession which included among its members many of whom once walked the floors of General Convention. We suggest you play both videos at the same time. Oh, for such a time as this.

Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy, Lord have mercy.