Sunday, May 31, 2009

Province Three of the Daughters of the King hold annual retreat: Episcopalian and Anglican women join together for extraordinary weekend

I'm here in the lobby of the Fairview Park Marriott in Falls Church, Virginia after a terrific retreat with the Order of the Daughters of the King encompassing all of Province III. Province III includes all the dioceses in Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia.

The retreat welcomed 161 representatives from Province III. There were many things about this retreat that made it special. One though particularly stands our for me - it was an amazingly display of unity (and not without some challenges, mind you!) of both Episcopalians and Anglicans dioceses and parishes that are included in the Order of the Daughters of the King Province III.

We also welcomed the DOK National President Joan Dalrymple who joined us for the entire retreat. Joan will be leading the Triennial in July in Anaheim.

At the retreat this weekend we didn't focus unity - our focus wasn't on unity. The focus was on the cross. In the cross we found unity. That was a major lesson.

We had Episcopal, Southern Cone, and CANA clergy present. What caused us to open our arms to one another was simply the power of the cross of Jesus Christ, whom the DOK recognize as our King. The cross bears all our sins, all our pain, all our troubles, all our confusion, all our anger, all our bewilderment, all our self-righteousness, and all our life, love, joy, peace, and hope. It is the Cross of Christ.

The idea of Province III-sponsored was the inspiration of former Diocese of Washington DOK President, Barbara Banks. Barbara envisioned retreats for spiritual renewal on the provincial level (I attended my first one last year) and she planned much of this year's retreat as well. Sadly, we lost Barbara after her extraordinarily brave fight against cancer last year - we miss her terribly - but her vision lives on.

In fact, her two daughters joined us this weekend as well.

One of the major themes of this weekend was "Standing in the Gap," a call to the Daughters of the King - Anglican and Episcopalian - to stand in the gap in what was called our "spiritual" Gettysburgs, conflicts so fierce they seem insurmountable, but that Christ calls us to stand in the gap in the power of the cross. The Daughters were commissioned this weekend to do just that.

The Order of the Daughters of the King includes the habitual wearing of the cross of the Order. It's a constant reminder for all of us - Episcopalians and Anglicans - that we do not stand on our merit, we do not pray on our own merit, we do not hope on our own merit, but all through the cross.

When we are at the foot of the cross - and it can be simply astonishing difficult at times to get there - then we all recognize (Anglican and Episcopalian) our glorious failures, our lack of love, our lack of humility, our lack of hope, joy, peace, perseverance, kindness, patience, endurance, forgiveness, love. All of us - not just "them" but "us," not just "you" but "me." We are literally united in our brokenness.

What a difference it was for us from when we all arrived on Friday to when we left today. I sat with an Episcopal DOK member from a church here in Virginia that is often on the polarized other side of the fence in our current troubles from me. But there we are, sitting at the table, sisters. The cross has that effect on people.

And it's Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit is poured out onto the Church - for service. The praying went on last night until 1:30 a.m. this morning, the wee hours of Pentecost. It's just wouldn't stop.

I pray that the Order of the Daughters of King will continue to stand in the gap through this great crisis that the Anglican Communion is walking through. Nothing is insurmountable for the cross - nothing. Nothing. Getting to the foot of the cross, though - that can be a challenge. It was a challenge this weekend, indeed - but when it came to the end and we sang this song, it was true. In Christ alone our hope is found.

What is the Order of the Daughters of the King? Here's the official statement:
The Order of the Daughters of the King was founded in 1885 by Margaret J. Franklin at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in New York City. The Order of the Daughters of the King (DOK) is a spiritual sisterhood of women dedicated to a life of Prayer, Service and Evangelism. We have made a commitment to Jesus as our Savior, and we follow Him as Lord of our lives. We are an Order for women who are communicants of the Episcopal Church, churches in communion with it, or churches in the Historic Episcopate. Today our membership includes women in the Anglican, Episcopal, Lutheran (ELCA) and Roman Catholic churches. An Order is a community under a religious rule; especially one requiring members to take solemn vows. We don't just enroll as members and attend meetings; we take life-long vows to follow the Rule of Prayer and Rule of Service.

The Photography of Victorian-era artist Julia Margaret Cameron

What the Pre-Raphaelites did for art, Julia Margaret Cameron did for photography. An "amateur," she took her limitations in development and used them to her advantage, portraying a narrative in her compositions as one would in art - a revolutionary idea. It's hard to believe she's of the same era as the stilted and grim sittings of most Victorian or Civil War photography. Her "limitations" turned into brilliance.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Reaching the Online Generation's Paul Watson speaking today in Second Life

Today at 1:30 p.m. PDT (4:30 p.m. EDT), Paul Watson of Reaching the Online Generation will be giving a presentation about Online Ministry in Second Life. Paul Watson is a writer and speaker who is developing strategies for reaching out to people online.. He comes from a church planting background – his family spent time in Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, and India.

You can read about Paul's thoughtful and incisive work at Paul writes about themes that go beyond the “hype” and “wow” aspects of online ministry, asking penetrating questions about the best ways of finding, approaching, and discipling online communities. The themes of prayer and scripture are powerfully interwoven throughout his work and underline the importance these have in his approach to all aspects of ministry.

This summer, Paul will be leading a course and eight-week guided mission in online ministry, teaching the basics of ministry and church planting, and also their application within the online setting, including Second Life.

To learn how to join Second Life, click here. The location will be the Sky Park in Eternal Creations. All are welcome.

Second Life is the home of an Anglican Cathedral that includes clergy and laity from Anglican and Episcopal churches all over the world. You can learn more about the Anglican Cathedral Ministry here. If you have no idea what this is or have questions, please feel free to comment. We've got a host of Cafe regulars who are also members of the Anglican Cathedral at Second Life.

If you miss Paul for this unique event, he will also be speaking at the Christian Web Conference at Biola University in September, 2009. More information about that event at

This event is hosted by the Anglican Ecumenical Society and To find the location of today's event, contact contact Wilfried Ansome in Second Life.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Anglican Covenant Section Four Working Group members announced by the Archbishop of Canterbury and Anglican Secretary General

The Anglican Covenant has been sent to provinces all ready, apparently, "seeking their comments on Section 4 of the Covenant." The deadline to hear back from the provinces is November 13, with this new Working Group planning to meet Nov. 20-121. It is then expected that the Working Group will report to the Joint Standing Committee (now being called just the "Standing Committee") at it's Dec. 15-18 meeting. Then what? Head to the pub and sing rousing choruses of the Unicorn Song? From here:

The text of the Ridley Cambridge Draft of the Covenant received strong support at the recent ACC meeting in Jamaica. However concern was expressed that Section 4 had not received the same degree of Provincial consideration that Sections 1-3 had. ACC-14 proposed that Provinces be given time to consider Section 4, that a small Working Group be set up to consider adjustment to Section 4 of the text in the light of Provincial responses, and to ask that Group to report to the Standing Committee before the end of the year.

The Archbishop of Canterbury and the Secretary General have now announced the names of the Working Group. They are:

  • The Most Revd Dr John Neill, Archbishop of Dublin (Chair);
  • The Most Revd Dr John Chew, Primate of South East Asia;
  • Dr Eileen Scully, Anglican Church of Canada;
  • The Rt Revd Dr Gregory Cameron, Bishop of St Asaph in the Church in Wales and former Deputy Secretary General of the Anglican Communion.

All have been involved in the Covenant Process to date. Staff support will be provided by Neil Vigers (Anglican Communion Office) and the Revd Canon Joanna Udal (Archbishop of Canterbury’s Secretary for Anglican Communion Affairs).

Meanwhile the Ridley Cambridge Draft text of the Covenant has been sent to Provinces seeking their comments on Section 4 of the Covenant. Responses are requested by 13th November this year. The Working Group will meet on 20 - 21 November in London and report to the Standing Committee meeting of 15 - 18 December.

Oh why wait.

Warrant issued for Don Armstrong's arrest was a mistake due to "communications mixup" between attorney's office and court clerk

Breaking News from the Colorado Springs Gazette:

For about 48 hours, the Rev. Donald Armstrong was a wanted man.

A judge issued a bench warrant for Armstrong on Wednesday after he failed to show for an initial court appearance.

But the warrant was quashed Friday after Armstrong's lawyer, Dennis Hartley, explained to the court that it was a communications mixup between his office and the court clerk.

"It would have been an easy thing to have him appear," Hartley told The Gazette on Friday. "Don never knew he needed to appear. We told him he didn't have to appear."

A grand jury on May 20 returned an indictment charging Armstrong with 20 counts of felony theft that allegedly occurred while Armstrong was rector of Grace Church & St. Stephen's downtown. Hartley said that when Armstrong left the jail, he was given a court date of May 27.

That date, however, didn't work for either Hartley or the Pueblo District Attorney's office, which is acting as special prosecutor in the case. Hartley said his office thought they had the matter rescheduled for June 10, until they learned about the bench warrant.

Armstrong was rector of Grace Church & St. Stephen's from 1987 to 2007. In March 2007, the Grace vestry voted to leave the Episcopal Church to join the Convocation of Anglicans in North America with Armstrong as rector.

The CANA parish is now called St. George's Anglican Church and meets in the Mountain Shadows area.

Read it all here.

Friday at the Cafe: Blessed be your name

And your little dog too ... An Episcopal Bishop sharpens the knives for the Diocese of Ft. Worth

Greg's got the scoop over at SF. Click on the graphic to read the form letter from the appointed Shadow Bishop in Ft. Worth, Texas.

Read the latest defrockings by another shadow bishop appointed in Fresno, CA here. How're ya'all feeling there in Peoria and Pittsburgh?

Seems like it's a good time to run the 2009 General Convention Theme Song again.
If it ain't Ubuntu, it's all good.

Margaret Thatcher meets with Pope Benedict

Ah for the days of Ronald Reagan, Pope John Paul II, and Margaret Thatcher - the President, the Pope and the Prime Minister - and the fall of the Iron Curtain.

Of the "Great Triumvirat," only one is left - Baroness Thatcher. Yesterday she emerged from her retirement to meet with John Paul II's successor, Pope Benedict.

"The world’s greatest living Conservative politician has met with one of the world’s greatest conservative theologians," writes British commentator Cranmer. Not that she's doing to do a Tony Blair.

“I think there is more chance of Pope Benedict becoming a Methodist than Baroness Thatcher converting to Rome,” said Carla Powell, who organized the meeting. Margaret Thatcher remains a devout Methodist.

Cranmer reports that “the Baroness wore the customary black, just as she did when, as Leader of the Opposition, she met Pope Paul VI in 1977 and, later as Prime Minister, with Pope John Paul II in 1980. In the latter, she found an anti-Communist soul-mate who also sought political and economic liberation for Eastern Europe. With Ronald Reagan, they constituted the Western triumvirate responsible for the reunification of Europe and the era of glasnost and perestroika. And so the Baroness paid homage, laying a wreath of white roses on the tomb of John Paul II with a card which said: ‘To a man of faith and courage’.”

The last time we remember her coming out of retirement like this was five years ago for Ronald Reagan's funeral when she taped a special message of remembrance at his State Funeral at the Washington Cathedral in 2004.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Bishop Peter James Lee: "Power is dispersed" in the Episcopal Church

I totally agree with Bishop Lee on this one, though I'm puzzled. If power is indeed "dispersed among lay people, bishops" then how can it be hierarchical? The dictionary defines hierarchy as "a ruling body of clergy organized into orders or ranks each subordinate to the one above it," but here Bishop Lee says that the power is dispersed - and includes the laity.

He is right.

Indeed another bishop on the HoB/HoD list this evening observed that the Presiding Bishop may not visit in his diocese in an any kind of official capacity, or do any kind of sacramental ministry without the invitation and permission of the diocesan bishop. That is indeed a fact.

I do agree on another point with Bishop Lee here as well - he is right to point out that there are "
churches of the Anglican Communion where the bishops or archbishops have unlimited power." Bishop Lee had no authority to even control local Vestries (he gave it a try during Annual Council last year but an interesting coalition of the progressives and the orthodox remnant resisted changes to the canons to give him that authority). He is not permitted to assess congregations - something very different than in other dioceses in The Episcopal Church but one significant ingredient that in fact encouraged the diocese to grow by empowering the local parish to do ministry that often dioceses and bishops often assume for themselves. By empowering the local parish, the diocese became the largest diocese in the Episcopal Church until the vote of separation in 2006.

An argument could be made that the lack of representation according to population in the Upper House of General Convention (the House of Deputies) is very much at fault for the outrageous actions to come out of General Convention. The leadership of The Episcopal Church may have been genuinely surprised by the response from the local parishes, dioceses, and hundreds of thousands of the laity following the events of General Convention in 2003 and 2006. More resistance continues inside TEC as the laity continue to hold the purse close to the vest. But an argument could be made that the lack of true representation according to population in the dioceses caused General Convention to become bloated and top-heavy and incredibly out of touch. Indeed, it has become one of the largest legislative bodies for what is an increasingly shrinking denomination.

Bishop Lee mentions other issues as well - and even for those of us currently in exile it bodes us well to hear and take serious what he has to say.
Issues before this General Convention, besides various revisions to the canons, will include consideration of the budget of the general Church for the next triennium during a period of likely economic recession, consideration of a church-wide health insurance plan; discussion of how the Episcopal Church as a whole will talk about the proposed Anglican Covenant that is under consideration by the worldwide communion; and our relationships with the churches of the worldwide communion. Our presiding bishop, the Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, has discouraged any attempt to reach any conclusive action on the Anglican Covenant at this General Convention since the actual wording of the covenant has not yet been adopted by the Anglican Consultative Council, which meets in Jamaica in May and the Presiding Bishop wants widespread discussion in the Church before definitive action is taken. So definitive action is not likely to occur before the General Convention of 2012.

In my judgment, General Convention can be at times inefficient and has elements of unfairness. The Diocese of Virginia is the largest diocese of the Episcopal Church but we have the same number of voting deputies as the smallest dioceses in the church. The time commitment required by Convention can also be a strain on Convention participants. The laity who can take off ten days in the middle of the summer to attend the convention are generally those who have some professional involvement with the church, are retired, or have independent means. The Church of England, by contrast, has its General Synod which meets for two or three days twice a year. The prospect of General Convention meeting even annually presents its own set of obstacles, but its present structure is unwieldy and needs attention.

Nonetheless, I return from General Convention with a renewed sense of the breadth and the strength of our Episcopal Church. Unlike some churches of the Anglican Communion where the bishops or archbishops have unlimited power, power in the Episcopal Church is dispersed among lay people, bishops and the General Convention is a sign of that dispersed authority.

I ask you to keep the General Convention in your prayers that it may be faithful to the gospel we have received and may strengthen the church we love.

Read it all here. Bishop Lee's successor, Bishop Shannon Johnston, also has concerns about General Convention:

It is possible that we could see the House of Bishops and the House of Deputies showing pointedly different visions for the way ahead at this time. The deputies might well be more “activist” while the bishops could be more moderating. As a result, one House may contradict the vote of the other on a couple of occasions.

What I’ve tried to show in sharing memories of my past three Conventions is not only that the General Convention is complicated in its processes, issues and accompanying emotions but also it is always very much a “mixed bag.” It is messy. There are ups and downs all along the way. Some things unite while other matters divide. A single outcome will be inspiring to some but anathema to others. And, I do have several questions about the Convention itself: Is the Convention now simply too big to do its work in a substantive way? Has it become something it was never intended to be? Is such a meeting a proper forum for complex theological questions?
Read it all here.

Late Night at the Cafe: Abba Father

I was having a conversation tonight with a new believer and we were talking about approaching God as Father. She's been let down by a father and a husband and the question was raised, how could she know what God's love is like as a Father?

Indeed, I went to service recently where God as "Father" was completely eradicated from the liturgy, leaving a gaping hole so wide that the words fell hollow and empty.

I came across this video this evening, in no small measure because someone dropped into the Cafe today and signed a post as "Scout" and it got me thinking about a particular person in literature by that name. In this montage of scenes from the masterpiece To Kill a Mockingbird we may find possibly a most brilliant illustration of what the Father's love is really like, the Father that Jesus called Abba. The God that Jesus himself taught us to call Abba.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Episcopal Bishops request investigation into the publishing of private correspondence

From Religious Intelligence:

A "dirty tricks" campaign has blown up in the faces of liberal activists in the Episcopal Church, as the publication of purloined e-mails has led to allegations of "conduct unbecoming a member of the clergy" being lodged against the leader of the gay-pressure group Integrity and a member of the Episcopal Church’s Executive Council.

Bishops associated with the Anglican Communion Institute (ACI) have asked the bishops of Los Angeles and Delaware to look in to the conduct of the Rev Susan Russell and the Rev Canon Mark Harris for having surreptitiously obtained and then posting on their blogs the text of private correspondence exchanged among the ACI and its attorney.

A request has also been made to Bishop John Chane of Washington to review the actions of one of his staffers in the anti-ACI campaign. The dispute centres around e-mails published by Canon Harris and Ms Russell though written and exchanged by the ACI leadership on the crafting of a position paper entitled the "Bishops’ Statement on the Polity of the Episcopal Church", released last month by the ACI and subsequently endorsed by 14 bishops.

Priests "publishing the private e-mails of bishops is a matter of grave pastoral disorder," ACI member the Very Rev Philip Turner, former Dean of the Berkeley Divinity School, at Yale charged. However, writing on the Integrity blog website, Ms Russell applauded the "outing" of the ACI, saying the Bishops’ Statement was an "unprecedented power grab by anti-gay bishops" that should be made known to the wider church.

The ACI case will likely test the free speech limits of clergy blogs and amateur church news gathering. The explosive growth of the internet, which has seen many clergy turn to blogging in recent years, has not been matched with a code of conduct that draws the line between libel, copyright theft, defamation and aggressive reporting with a priest’s obligation to engage in moral and civil conduct.

A distinguished group of theologians and lawyers within the Episcopal Church, the ACI is on the centre-right of the church’s ecclesiological spectrum, opposing the secession of the dioceses to their political right, but also opposing as "uncanonical" the methods used by Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori to their left to fight the breakaway groups.

Over the past year the ACI has published several papers and legal commentaries criticizing the presiding bishop’s claims to metropolitan authority over the bishops and dioceses of the Episcopal Church, and late last year began work on a paper restating the church’s traditional teachings on ecclesiology and church order. On April 18 and 19, a draft of the Bishops’ Statement and 13 emails went astray, passing into the hands of liberal activists who published extracts on April 21. Under US Federal and State law, the Bishops’ Statement and the emails are subject to copyright protection.

The Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986 prohibits "intentionally intercept[ing], endeavour[ing] to intercept, or procur[ing] any other person to intercept or endeavour to intercept, any wire, oral, or electronic communication." Additionally, the ECPA expressly states that an intercepted communication does not lose "its privileged character."

The publication of the e-mails produced a firestorm of controversy from the Episcopal Church’s left. The Chicago Consultation, along with several other progressive groups, condemned the Bishops’ Statement saying the paper’s conclusions abandoned the "historical polity of the Episcopal Church and provide support to lawsuits that drain the church’s resources for mission and spirit for ministry."

Liberal church bloggers also turned to ad hominem attacks on the ACI and the bishops who endorsed the document. Ms Russell labelled the bishops "cretins" while the former editor of the Episcopal Women’s Caucus newsletter, Mrs Katie Sherrod denigrated the Statement’s sole female signatory.

"All the writers of these e-mails are men, but there is one female bishop signed on as a Communion Partner. That would be, to the surprise of no one, Bishop Geralyn Wolf of Rhode Island, also known to many in the Anglican Communion as an honorary man," Mrs Sherrod wrote on April 22.

The ACI’s initial response to the publication of the e-mails was that there was a "mole" within the group. However an investigation carried out by a private investigator on behalf of the ACI, which has been seen by The Church of England Newspaper, details a chain of events that began with an accident, but was soon consciously exploited by liberal activists.

The investigator’s report concluded the e-mails made their way outside the closed ACI circle when one individual mistyped the e-mail of the Bishop of Western Louisiana, the Rt Rev D Bruce MacPherson. Rather than typing DBM3WL@ followed by the name of the internet service provider or ISP, DMBE@ with the same ISP was inadvertently added to the "cc" line of the email. At least 12 more e-mails over the next two days were sent to DBME, an address belong to a Honolulu physician and gay activist named Dr David B McEwan. Requests for comments or clarification sent to Dr McEwan’s email address by the investigator and CEN were not answered. However, the investigator’s e-mails to the DBME account were forwarded to the e-mail address of a Hawaiian union organizer who is also active in pro-gay causes. The tracked e-mails were then forwarded and read on blackberry device linked to an IP address maintained by the Episcopal Diocese of Washington.

Writing on her blog "An Inch at a Time," Ms Russell reported that she received an unsolicited e-mail with a copy of Bishops’ Statement attached on the evening of April 18. An introductory note was appended, Ms Russell said, with the statement stating "For reasons I will never know (perhaps providential – most likely it is that my initials are the similar as his and thus someone typed in an incorrect e-mail) this morning I received in my e-mail box communication from Bishop D Bruce MacPherson and a group of his supporters about new documents that are in their final phase of planning that they plan to release soon."

Questioned by the CEN as to whether she received the e-mail directly from Dr McEwan’s email address, Ms Russell responded that she had received it from a third party. She added that she "agreed wholeheartedly that [the ACI] should be "outed" and applauded those who did."

Canon Harris, who was the first to post extracts from the e-mails on April 21, followed on the 22nd by Ms Russell and the Washington Blade — a gay interest newspaper — also declined to state when or how he received the e-mails.

However, Canon Harris posted only snippets from the intercepted e-mails and the Bishops’ Statement with commentary, while Ms Russell and the Blade published substantially all of the errant e-mails. Last week the Bishop of Central Florida, the Rt Rev John W Howe wrote to the Bishop of Los Angeles asking him to look into Ms Russell’s publication of the private documents on the website of her church, All Saints in Pasadena.

A spokesman for the ACI told CEN that letters are also being sent on behalf of the three bishops whose correspondence was intercepted and published, Bishop Howe, Bishop MacPherson and Bishop Mark Lawrence of South Carolina to Los Angeles and Delaware asking those bishops to review their clergy’s actions, while the Diocese of Washington was asked to account for its role in the affair.

No criminal or civil charges are likely to be filed in the wake of the incident, the spokesman noted. However, the ACI had been the subject of a "dirty tricks" campaign, the Rev Prof Christopher Seitz, and it was important to learn who and how high up in the church were those involved, as Canon Harris received the e-mails while he was attending a meeting of the Episcopal Church’s Executive Council.

Dean Turner added that it was a "sad statement about the nature of our time when private and privileged e-mail correspondence of Bishops of the church, who are in fact seeking to underscore the place of The Episcopal Church in the Anglican Communion, is sent to a secular publication for dissemination and discussion, published by an Episcopal priest, selected and rearranged and all this justified by the claim that the people in question have been ‘outed’ and shown to be lovers of darkness."

It was important to bring this matter "before the light of God," he said.

Read it all here. The original story here at the Cafe is here.

61 clergy defrocked by "shadow" Episcopal bishop for moving to Anglican province

From here - the article is incredibly biased and skewed so not sure how the AP generated the article. Of course, if one searches "Episcopal" on Twitter since yesterday, one learns about lot about the current public perception of The Episcopal Church in the United States. Fascinating indeed.
FRESNO, Calif.—National leaders of the Episcopal Church have ousted 61 clergy who aligned with a former bishop from the Diocese of San Joaquin who sought to break with the national church.

Read it all here.

UPDATE: The Bishop of San Joaquin has issued a statement:
May 27, 2009

It is with a mixture of sadness and joy that we received today a letter from Bishop Lamb wherein he purports to depose 36 priests and 16 deacons as of May 22, 2009. It is heartbreaking that The Episcopal Church chooses to take such a punitive action and condemn 52 active clergy with “Abandonment of the Communion” when all of these men and women are recognized around the world as priests and deacons in good standing within the Anglican Communion. Clearly, the traditional understanding of what it means to be a member of this historic Communion has been tragically altered by this action; and thereby The Episcopal Church needlessly isolates itself from their brothers and sisters around the world.

The Diocese of San Joaquin continues to reach out to the central third of California in active ministry. It will become one of 23 founding Dioceses, along with 5 more in formation, within the new Province of the Anglican Church in North America at its first Provincial Assembly in Bedford, Texas, June 22-25. Despite The Episcopal Church’s disregard for valid Anglican Orders and ongoing legal actions against us, the bold vision to bring all to an ever expanding knowledge and joy of the Lord Jesus Christ remains unchanged within the diocese. We rejoice over the growing number of ministries seeking to join themselves with us in the mission field God has put before us.

We are, however, grieved that the leadership of The Episcopal Church feels compelled to create this unprecedented division between the ministries of The Episcopal Church and their brothers and sisters throughout the rest of the Anglican Communion. For our part, we continue to recognize the orders of those who are properly ordained according to the Book of Common Prayer and who have chosen to continue to serve Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior within The Episcopal Church. May God bless all of us who share a common vision of ministry.

+John-David Schofield, Bishop
The Diocese of San Joaquin
UPDATE: Anglican Curmudgeon has unearthed some very interesting information, from here. Here's an excerpt:

Bishop Lamb Confirms Lack of Quorum to Elect Him

Bishop Lamb has finally provided proof that there was not a sufficient quorum of clergy canonically resident in the Diocese of San Joaquin who were present at the "Special Diocesan Convention" which was held in Lodi a year ago March 29. Today he acknowledged that last Friday and this Tuesday, he signed certificates with the intent of deposing 61 clergy in the Diocese for having "abandoned the Communion of this Church" in leaving to follow the Rt. Rev. John-David Schofield and his Diocese out of ECUSA. (H/T: VirtueOnLine.)

Now anyone can do the math. According to the contemporary report of the "special convention" in Episcopal Life, there were just twenty-one clergy present at the meeting. Twenty-one present, plus sixty-one absent (and now "deposed"): that makes eighty-two total clergy canonically resident in the Diocese as of March 29, 2008, exactly as I reported here on April 28, 2008 in this post. Diocesan Canon III, section 3.01, which Bishop Lamb and the meeting claim to have followed, provides (with my emphasis added):

A quorum shall consist of one-third of all the Clergy entitled to seats and votes together with at least one (1) Lay Delegate from each of one-third of all the Parishes and Missions entitled to representation. If a quorum be not present at any Convention, no business shall be transacted except that of adjournment from time to time until a quorum shall be present.
Quick, anyone: 81 is 3 x 27, so what would be the minimum quorum for 82 clergy to meet at a legal Special Convention of the Diocese? That's right---twenty-eight were required to be present for lawful business to be transacted on March 29, 2008.

And now we come to one, giant, glorious chicken-and-egg problem into which Bishop Lamb, the group he is leading, and ECUSA have gotten themselves. Let me lay out the logic for you:

A. Without a quorum present, Bishop Lamb was not lawfully confirmed as Provisional Bishop of the "Diocese of San Joaquin," under its own canons. (Nor was the "Standing Committee" voted on at the same meeting lawfully elected, either.)

B. Since Bishop Lamb was not lawfully confirmed in that position, he has no canonical authority to depose the 61 clergy he claims to have deposed.

C. Therefore, as far as the "Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin" claims to be a lawful diocese of ECUSA, and one that follows its own Constitution and Canons, those same 61 clergy are still lawfully canonically resident in that Diocese, and no lawful Convention, Special or Annual, can be held without at least seven of them being present.

So until the "Diocese of San Joaquin" properly reconstitutes itself under ECUSA's own Constitution and Canons (which will need to be amended for the occasion), it has no Bishop and no Ecclesiastical Authority---and no way of lawfully electing one.
Read it all here.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Tuesday Night at the Cafe: Somewhere

Financial probe baffles rector of local church ...

Next! From here.

Good Shepherd notified of diocesan investigation

BINGHAMTON, NY - The rector of an Anglican church is "surprised and baffled" by a judge's decision that a regional diocese investigate whether a local parish mishandled money after it withdrew from the Episcopal denomination.

"The judge's statement is absolutely not true," said the Rev. Matthew Kennedy, pastor of Church of the Good Shepherd in Binghamton. "We have nothing to hide. I want to answer their questions."

Supreme Court Judge Ferris D. Lebous, who earlier this year ruled the central New York diocese was entitled to Good Shepherd's property, said diocesan allegations the parish misused an endowment should be investigated.

Lebous said the diocese has "every right" to investigate and directed Kennedy and the church's treasurer to appear for deposition.

Kennedy said the diocese advised him of its intent to investigate.

A diocesan official in Syracuse refused to comment in reply to a reporter's question for specific information.

Instead, the Rev. Karen C. Lewis wrote in an e-mail, "I'm not sure if we want to do anything with this inquiry - this guy (reporter) is not known for his accurate and fair reporting."

Neither Lewis nor Bishop Gladstone Adams replied to a subsequent e-mail requesting specific information about the Press & Sun-Bulletin's reporting.

This isn't the first time the diocese has accused a local rector of financial misconduct.

In July 2007, an Episcopal court cleared the Rev. David G. Bollinger of all charges related to diocesan allegations while he was rector of St. Paul's in Owego.

Bollinger, who is retired, claimed the investigation was retaliation for telling the diocese about a former rector's sexual misconduct with a teenager in the 1970s.

After a five-month investigation, the former rector, Ralph E. Johnson, then 79, voluntarily renounced his credentials in May 2006, without admitting guilt.

The Church of the Good Shepherd withdrew from the Episcopal church in November 2007 in a dispute over the ordination of a homosexual as bishop and differences in scriptural interpretation.

The congregation, which aligned itself with the Anglican Church of Kenya, vacated a building on Conklin Avenue and has settled into the former St. Andrew Catholic Church, also on Conklin Avenue.
Does one see a pattern forming from authorities of The Episcopal Church? Is it all just a coincidence?

WED. UPDATE: Matt has sent us an update of the follow-up letter he sent to his parish:
Dear Good Shepherd,

The last part of the lawsuit filed by Diocese of Central New York against us has been decided and the judge has ruled that the Branan bequest now belongs to Christ Church and the Diocese of Central New York. This is not great news but it is not terrible news either. We were not counting on victory after the first ruling in this case and we have already learned that no matter what the outcome in the courts, the Lord loves us and will protect and provide for our needs.

We are, moreover, so very thankful that we live in a nation governed by the rule of law where our defense was heard by an impartial and objective judge and the Diocese of Central New York could not simply seize our buildings and assets by fiat as it would have liked. How wonderful it has been, despite the negative outcome, to have our day in court.

It is important, I think, also to be grateful for Judge Lebous who has sought nothing more than to make a just decision based on his understanding of the facts and his wide knowledge of the law. Sometimes judges and courts do make mistakes, as this one has, but we must always respect and obey the legal decisions of those God has set in positions of authority over us.

If you take the time to read the decision, and I encourage you to do so, you will find that there are a number of rather curious suggestions and I think it is important to address a few of them.

I did not know Mr. Branan but a number of our senior parishioners knew him very well and remember him to have been both very conservative and very loyal to Good Shepherd but not necessarily to the Episcopal Church. In fact, one woman remembers very clearly that he gave the bequest in order to ensure that the congregation never experienced financial difficulty. Another woman who was a very close friend of Mr. Branan recently sent a letter explaining that Mr. Branan wouldn't have wanted a dime to go to the Episcopal Church given the denomination's recent departure from orthodox Christianity. Since Mr. Branan never once mentioned the Diocese of Central New York in his bequest, it is difficult to understand how Judge Lebous could come to the conclusion that Mr. Branan would have wanted his money given to the institution that has sought the destruction of the church he loved?

Be all that as it may, given our earlier defeat in court, we were not expecting to keep the bequest. We have not counted it in our present budget.

Stranger to me than the idea that Mr. Branan was a person loyal to a larger and heretical denomination and not to his local parish was the language used by Judge Libous to describe our conduct. During the hearing, the lawyer for the Diocese of Central New York noted that Good Shepherd received very little in pledges and offerings during 2008 and accused the vestry of “diverting” income. Judge Lebous re-articulates that accusation in the judgment, finds it “disturbing”, and writes that it is appropriate for the diocese to “investigate”.

The reason for the low income, as is fairly obvious, is that after the lawsuit was filed by the Diocese of Central New York claiming possession of all of our property and money, the vast majority of parishioners made personal decisions not to give any money to the church knowing that any money given stood the chance of being seized by the diocese—as it subsequently has been.

And, of course, the vestry did not “divert” money away from Good Shepherd or spend it on anything other than the regular upkeep of the ministries of Good Shepherd—bills, maintenance, salaries, etc. We are more than willing to cooperate fully with any kind of investigation the court thinks necessary.

Finally, Judge Libous mentions items taken from the building. Most of you remember the confusion and frustration in the aftermath of the first court decision when we learned that the building and home we loved was going to be seized. We moved out of the old building mere days after receiving a letter from the Diocese of Central New York asking us to pay rent of over $2500.00 per month. There were a lot of heartbroken and confused people especially with regard to items donated to the church in memory of deceased relatives. Despite the explanations, it was difficult for people to understand that even though a given item may have been purchased with money personally donated for the memory of a deceased relative, donations given to the church belonged, subsequent to the judgment, to the diocese. No one intentionally took anything that belongs to the diocese and the items we have located that were mistakenly taken have been returned.

I've said this before, but let me say again, how proud I am to be your pastor. Jesus said that no servant is above his master and that the world would treat his followers just as it treated him (Matt 10:17-25). We have felt and are feeling the truth of those words. You have stood courageously in the face of lies and persecution and you have accepted the confiscation of your property knowing that you yourselves have a better possession and a lasting one. I am so very amazed at the graciousness and generosity with which you have responded and, indeed, the charity and forgiveness revealed in both word and deed toward the Diocese of Central New York.

God has abundantly blessed us over the last few months. Trust him. He is for us and not against us. I believe that God's loving kindness, gentle protection, and provision will carry us through these trials and for that reason we must continue to be faithful witnesses of Jesus Christ, forgiving and loving those who would hurt us and doing everything in our power to be at peace with all people.

May God bless and keep you.

In Christ,

Matt Kennedy
In addition, Matt writes:
There is only one quibble with Mr. Moyer's excellent article linked above. He quotes me as saying the following:

"The judge's statement is absolutely not true," said the Rev. Matthew Kennedy..."

When Mr. Moyer called I said that the allegations were "absolutely untrue" but I was referring to the diocese's allegations...not the judge's. I don't think Judge Lebous made any allegations

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Happy Birthday, Bob Dylan!

We're celebrating Bob Dylan's 68th Birthday today at the Cafe - so great ready. And yes, Mr. Dylan was born the same year as the now retired Vice President of the United States. Heh.

In the meantime here's flashbacks of birthday celebrations at the Cafe:

The New York Times has a follow-up article to the recent discovery that the handwritten lyrics currently going up for auction at Christie's is actually a modified reports:
A poem initially offered for auction by Christie’s as an early work by Bob Dylan has turned out to be a modified version of a song by Hank Snow. The Associated Press reported that Christie’s planned to sell a poem called “Little Buddy,” handwritten by Mr. Dylan in 1957 for a summer camp newspaper. Lisa Heilicher, a former editor of The Herzl Herald at Herzl Camp in Webster, Wis., told The A.P. that she had kept the poem for years. The poem, which tells the story of a dog that is killed by a drunkard, turned out to be virtually identical to a song by Snow, also called “Little Buddy,” which he wrote and recorded in the 1950s. Reuters reported that Christie’s now acknowledges that the poem is a modified version of that song and will still offer it for sale. In a statement, the auction house said, “This still remains among the earliest known handwritten lyrics of Bob Dylan, and Christie’s is pleased to offer them in our Pop Culture auction on June 23.”
What's interesting is that this actually is right in line with how one can approach Bob Dylan's work. Following in American folk and blues traditions, Dylan "borrows" from other songwriters and traditions. What makes him unique is how he "improves" the original or juxtaposes his interpretations of the original work against other forms of American music. It is one of the reasons he remains so influential (he's still at it and yes, young musicians are still flocking to his concerts to see him in action). He's the one that blended the folk traditions with the blues and early rock and roll and then through in some Kerouac and Ginsburg and tied the whole thing up with scripture (one way or the other).

The idea that Dylan has "borrowed" lyrics is hardly a revelation. He's even referred to himself - perhaps - in his All Along the Watchtower when he refers to characters called "the Joker" and "the Thief," which in fact could both by Dylan (or not, who knows?). Even 2001's Love & Theft make similar allusions. I case could be made he does this on purpose, following folk traditions, so that the songs will not be lost. He isn't "modern" for all the protestations to the contrary. The last thing Dylan is is modern. He was born old.

What's in a name?
Bob Dylan, aka Robert Allen Zimmerman, aka Elston Gunn[1] Blind Boy Grunt, Lucky Wilbury/Boo Wilbury, Elmer Johnson, Sergei Petrov, Shabtai Zisel ben Avraham, Jack Frost, Jack Fate, Willow Scarlet or Robert Milkwood Thomas was awarded a Pulitzer Prize Special Citation this past year for his "profound impact on popular music and American culture, marked by lyrical compositions of extraordinary poetic power."

Portrait of an Artist
One of our regulars here at the cafe, Dabney Oakley, has sent us a painting done by his sister in 1964. The story is that a "'Bob Zimmerman' was visiting a friend at Randolph-Macon Womans College in Lynchburg. Not looking like the usual prepsters from Hampden-Sydney, Washington & Lee, or UVa, he was asked to 'sit' for a 'Studio Portrait Class.' The portrait shown was done by my sister. I'm sure there are others 'out there,' too."

We know from Dylan's autobiography Chronicles that he used to come down to Virginia with Paul Clayton and hang out at Clayton's cabin near Charlottesville in that period. Wonder what other portraits could be out there?

Dylan really working on Part II of Chronicles?

I admit, there's been a part of me that wondered if Dylan was joshing us a bit with calling his autobiography Chronicles: Volume One - not ever expecting there'd be a Volume Two or Volume Three. There were reports, however, last year that Dylan is working on Volume II. That was a year ago. What's up now? What would he write about this time?

The Boots
Here's probably my favorite Dylan music video, A Series of Dreams, of a song that was bootlegged long before it was finally released, having been cut from the Mercy Me album.

The tune sounds very much like the tune we hear in Red River Shore that was released on his latest bootleg series, Tell Tale Signs: The Bootleg Series Vol. 8 last year.

Another unreleased version of A Series of Dreams also appears on Tell Tale Signs as well:

Dylan is an extraordinary singer: Learning how to listen

From here:

St. Paul, Minn. — A new book from the University of Minnesota Press explores many facets of Dylan's life and legacy. Highway 61 Revisited: Bob Dylan's Road from Minnesota to the World touches on everything from Dylan's youth on Minnesota's Iron Range to his emergence as one of the most influential musicians in the world.

While most observers acknowledge that Dylan is an immensely-talented lyricist and composer, the thing that turns many listeners off is his voice. But in the new book, two music professors argue that if you listen closely you'll discover that Dylan is actually a very talented and versatile singer.

Sumanth Gopinath, who teaches Music Theory at the University of Minnesota, spoke with Minnesota Public Radio's Jim Bickal about how Dylan uses his voice in his music.

That was then and that was then. Here's Joan Baez singing about the most talented and crazy person she ever worked with:

Now you're telling me
you're not nostalgic
then give me another word for it
you who are so good with words
and at keeping things vague
because I need some of that vagueness now
it's all come back too clearly
yes I loved you dearly
and if you're offering me diamonds and rust
I've already paid.

LATER: Here are few samplings of Dylan's artwork:

These are samples of sketch paintings by Bob Dylan from the Drawn Blank Series. The originals were done 1989-1992 and then published in 1994. In 2007 he had the originals scanned and digitally printed and he overpainted them with gouache or watercolor. These are a few examples of his work. The song is the Suze (The Cough Song) from the early 1960s.

We are adding a new item to the Cafe Menu. Introducing Mrs. Zimmerman's Banana Bread. It is reported that Sandy Thompson of the Duluth News-Tribune interviewed Bob Dylan's mother, Beatty Zimmerman (1915-2000) on June 30, 1999 and Beatty Zimmerman shared this recipe. The recipe was then tested by the Duluth News-Tribune, July 7, 1999. Here it is:

Beatty Zimmerman's Banana Chocolate Chip Loaf Bread

1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine, softened
2 eggs 4 tablespoons sour cream
2 ripe bananas, mashed
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 (6-ounce) package chocolate chips (or up to 12 ounces, if desired)
2 medium disposable foil loaf pans (about 8-by-3-by-2 inches)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream together the sugar and butter. Add the eggs and beat well. Add the sour cream and ripe bananas; mix well. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and baking soda. Add the dry mixture to the sour cream mixture, then fold in the chocolate chips. Divide the batter between two greased loaf pans. Bake for about 50 minutes. Turn the loaves out on to cooling rack or aluminum foil as soon as they're done.

Cook's note: Beatty Zimmerman, mother of singer Bob Dylan, says this recipe is no-fail: "It's one minute to make."

Here's more:
Like many good old-fashioned moms from the Iron range, Beatty Zimmerman still cooks and bakes, although not as much as she used to. Beatty is healthy and happy, dividing her time between the Twin Cities and Arizona.

She sees her famous son, now 58, all the time. "He just spent a week here a little while ago," she said in a recent phone conversation, during which she talked about a variety of things: stories in the news, how hard it is for working parents these days, her son the icon, fudge bars.

Beatty admits that her own fudge bar recipe is not that good to use. "It’s too complicated. You have to separate the eggs, it’s a big monkey business. It’s not a good recipe if people don’t know when to take it out of the oven. It dries up the next day."

Beatty did agree to share one family favorite. "This is a wonderful recipe," she said, "and to make it is so easy dear. All of the children like their Grandma’s banana chocolate chip loaf bread. They like it because it’s not too sweet."

What does her son enjoy? "Bob doesn’t really have favorites; he always ate whatever I cooked," Beatty said. "They’re not gourmet eaters; they like all kinds of food."

"One thing Bob does like," she added, "and I know he hates the publicity, but I know you have to write something nice - - and everybody likes a good recipe - - he does like chicken every way."

Beatty and her husband, Abe, lived in Duluth for 14 years, moving to Hibbing when their boys, Robert and David, were 6 and 2, respectively.

"This generation really doesn’t know me," Dylan's mother said. "I really don’t do anything with Bob’s career, except for security purposes, (such as) with the Kennedy award." (Dylan received the Kennedy Center Honors for lifetime achievement in 1997.)

"But all the years that Bob has been out, he kept everybody in the family away from the career, just because of security. He had to keep the normalcy, he had to cut out a lot of the reporters because he was afraid for the children. The children were never bothered in school; they lived a nice, normal life."

When Beatty talks about her son, she could be any mom, chatting over coffee and cake; "He went out and had a wonderful family, five wonderful children. He came to Minnesota for the summers, bought a small piece of property, brought his children."

And the grandchildren? Beatty’s equally proud. "There’s Maria, "she said, "who’s an attorney an is married with four children; Jesse does videos and commercials and has a little boy; Anna is an artist, she’s 30; Sam is 31, is a photographer and writer; and Jakob, he’s in the Wallflowers, he’s an exquisite boy, has two little children and is very busy."

Beatty mentions her son’s current tour: "He gives you a show that is worth every penny. I’ve been to his shows all over the world. Once you’re a showman, it’s hard to get it out of your blood."

But will she attend his concerts in Duluth or Minneapolis this weekend? "I don’t think so, honey - too many people," she confides.

Of his show in October, his first ever in his hometown, his mother said: "He loved playing Duluth, he liked it very much. The reason he never got to Duluth was that the tours never took him that far. He played several times here in the Twin Cities, but the tours never got past Minneapolis. The promotors weren’t really pushing that," she says.

"I never did ask him about coming to Duluth. I don’t have that time to ask; I just want to know how he is and how everybody’s doing. I think he asked his promotor to come here. I know he was glad to be back in Duluth, and Duluth has really showed him by ticket sales, so what more do you need than that?

"You know," she continued, "people are so happy to see Bob. He leaves a wonderful impression, they love his words. His words are so apropos for anybody. Like ‘Blowing in the Wind,’ it’s apropos to the world, and it’s 40 years old.

"He writes how he feels, and now the younger people are into his work. He doesn’t write on drugs, he doesn’t write on liquor, he writes on everyday occurrences."

"He just does not like the publicity. I have stayed out of it for thirty-nine years, and it’s been a hard job. Thirty-nine years is a long time. I’m not critical of people, people who write nice things about him. But I don’t have to be seen, my friends know me and that’s fine."

"My hope in life is that everyone stays well, health-wise. When the phone rings and everybody’s OK, I’m happy, you know?"

Of the extended Zimmerman family, Beatty says, "We live a very, very beautiful, wonderful life. We celebrate Christmas, Thanksgiving, we get to see them all the time."

And about her elder son: "For a man that is labeled a celebrity, he is not. He’s a wonderful human being, a normal, good person, and that’s what life is all about."

Not even a mouse
Now I know it's nearly the end of May - it's Memorial Day Weekend and probably the last thing on anyone's mind is Christmas. But today all bets are off. Here's Bob Dylan reading Twas The Night Before Christmas on his XM/Sirius Radio Show Theme Time Radio Hour:

And to all a Good Night.

UPDATE: We received this from one of our regulars last night, an interview with Bob Dylan by Robert Hilburn in 2004. It focuses on Dylan as the writer and it's an excellent insight to his creative process. Dylan tells Hilburn on why he is reluctant to "explain" his songs, "Even if I could tell you what the song was about I wouldn't. It's up to the listener to figure out what it means to him."

And how does he write his songs? In this interview he opens the door to his creative writing process:

"Well, you have to understand that I'm not a melodist," he says. "My songs are either based on old Protestant hymns or Carter Family songs or variations of the blues form.

"What happens is, I'll take a song I know and simply start playing it in my head. That's the way I meditate. A lot of people will look at a crack on the wall and meditate, or count sheep or angels or money or something, and it's a proven fact that it'll help them relax. I don't meditate on any of that stuff. I meditate on a song.

"I'll be playing Bob Nolan's 'Tumbling Tumbleweeds,' for instance, in my head constantly -- while I'm driving a car or talking to a person or sitting around or whatever. People will think they are talking to me and I'm talking back, but I'm not. I'm listening to the song in my head. At a certain point, some of the words will change and I'll start writing a song."
Here is more:
By Robert Hilburn April 04, 2004

"No, no, no," Bob Dylan says sharply when asked if aspiring songwriters should learn their craft by studying his albums, which is precisely what thousands have done for decades.

"It's only natural to pattern yourself after someone," he says, opening a door on a subject that has long been off-limits to reporters: his songwriting process. "If I wanted to be a painter, I might think about trying to be like Van Gogh, or if I was an actor, act like Laurence Olivier. If I was an architect, there's Frank Gehry.

"But you can't just copy somebody. If you like someone's work, the important thing is to be exposed to everything that person has been exposed to. Anyone who wants to be a songwriter should listen to as much folk music as they can, study the form and structure of stuff that has been around for 100 years. I go back to Stephen Foster."

For four decades, Dylan has been a grand American paradox: an artist who revolutionized popular songwriting with his nakedly personal yet challenging work but who keeps us at such distance from his private life -- and his creative technique -- that he didn't have to look far for the title of his recent movie: "Masked and Anonymous."

Although fans and biographers might read his hundreds of songs as a chronicle of one man's love and loss, celebration and outrage, he doesn't revisit the stories behind the songs, per se, when he talks about his art this evening. What's more comfortable, and perhaps more interesting to him, is the way craft lets him turn life, ideas, observations and strings of poetic images into songs.

As he sits in the quiet of a grand hotel overlooking one of the city's picturesque canals, he paints a very different picture of his evolution as a songwriter than you might expect of an artist who seemed to arrive on the pop scene in the '60s with his vision and skills fully intact. Dylan's lyrics to "Blowin' in the Wind" were printed in Broadside, the folk music magazine, in May 1962, the month he turned 21.

The story he tells is one of trial and error, false starts and hard work -- a young man in a remote stretch of Minnesota finding such freedom in the music of folk songwriter Woody Guthrie that he felt he could spend his life just singing Guthrie songs -- until he discovered his true calling through a simple twist of fate.

Dylan has often said that he never set out to change pop songwriting or society, but it's clear he was filled with the high purpose of living up to the ideals he saw in Guthrie's work. Unlike rock stars before him, his chief goal wasn't just making the charts.

"I always admired true artists who were dedicated, so I learned from them," Dylan says, rocking slowly in the hotel room chair. "Popular culture usually comes to an end very quickly. It gets thrown into the grave. I wanted to do something that stood alongside Rembrandt's paintings."

Even after all these years, his eyes still light up at the mention of Guthrie, the "Dust Bowl" poet, whose best songs, such as "This Land Is Your Land," spoke so eloquently about the gulf Guthrie saw between America's ideals and its practices.

"To me, Woody Guthrie was the be-all and end-all," says Dylan, 62, his curly hair still framing his head majestically as it did on album covers four decades ago. "Woody's songs were about everything at the same time. They were about rich and poor, black and white, the highs and lows of life, the contradictions between what they were teaching in school and what was really happening. He was saying everything in his songs that I felt but didn't know how to.

"It wasn't only the songs, though. It was his voice -- it was like a stiletto -- and his diction. I had never heard anybody sing like that. His guitar strumming was more intricate than it sounded. All I knew was I wanted to learn his songs."

Dylan played so much Guthrie during his early club and coffeehouse days that he was dubbed a Woody Guthrie "jukebox." So imagine the shock when someone told him another singer -- Ramblin' Jack Elliott -- was doing that too. "It's like being a doctor who has spent all these years discovering penicillin and suddenly [finding out] someone else had already done it," he recalls.

A less ambitious young man might have figured no big deal -- there's plenty of room for two singers who admire Guthrie. But Dylan was too independent. "I knew I had something that Jack didn't have," he says, "though it took a while before I figured out what it was."

Songwriting, he finally realized, was what could set him apart. Dylan had toyed with the idea earlier, but he felt he didn't have enough vocabulary or life experience.

Scrambling to distinguish himself on the New York club scene in 1961, though, he tried again. The first song of his own that drew attention to him was "Song to Woody," which included the lines, "Hey, hey, Woody Guthrie Within two years, he had written and recorded songs, including "Girl of the North Country" and "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall," that helped lift the heart of pop music from sheer entertainment to art.

'Songs Are the Star'

Dylan, whose work and personal life have been dissected in enough books to fill a library wall, seems to welcome the chance to talk about his craft, not his persona or history. It's as if he wants to demystify himself.

"To me, the performer is here and gone," he once said. "The songs are the star of the show, not me."

He also hates focusing on the past. "I'm always trying to stay right square in the moment. I don't want to get nostalgic or narcissistic as a writer or a person. I think successful people don't dwell in the past. I think only losers do."

Yet his sense of tradition is strong. He likes to think of himself as part of a brotherhood of writers whose roots are in the raw country, blues and folk strains of Guthrie, the Carter Family, Robert Johnson and scores of Scottish and English balladeers.

Over the course of the evening, he offers glimpses into how his ear and eye put pieces of songs together using everything from Beat poetry and the daily news to lessons picked up from contemporaries.

He is so committed to talking about his craft that he has a guitar at his side in case he wants to demonstrate a point. When his road manager knocks on the door after 90 minutes to see if everything is OK, Dylan waves him off. After three hours, he volunteers to get together again after the next night's concert.

"There are so many ways you can go at something in a song," he says. "One thing is to give life to inanimate objects. Johnny Cash is good at that. He's got the line that goes, 'A freighter said, "She's been here, but she's gone, boy, she's gone." ' That's great. 'A freighter says ' "She's been here." ' That's high art. If you do that once in a song, you usually turn it on its head right then and there."

The process he describes is more workaday than capturing lightning in a bottle. In working on "Like a Rolling Stone," he says, "I'm not thinking about what I want to say, I'm just thinking 'Is this OK for the meter?' "

But there's an undeniable element of mystery too. "It's like a ghost is writing a song like that. It gives you the song and it goes away, it goes away. You don't know what it means. Except the ghost picked me to write the song."

Some listeners over the years have complained that Dylan's songs are too ambiguous -- that they seem to be simply an exercise in narcissistic wordplay. But most critics say Dylan's sometimes competing images are his greatest strength.

Few in American pop have consistently written lines as hauntingly beautiful and richly challenging as his "Just Like a Woman," a song from the mid-'60s:

Nobody feels any pain
Tonight as I stand inside
the rain
Ev'rybody knows

That Baby's got new clothes
But lately I see her ribbons and her bows

Have fallen from her curls.
She takes just like a woman, yes, she does

She makes love just like a woman, yes, she does

And she aches just like a woman

But she breaks just like
a little girl.

Dylan stares impassively at a lyric sheet for "Just Like a Woman" when it is handed to him. As is true of so many of his works, the song seems to be about many things at once.

"I'm not good at defining things," he says. "Even if I could tell you what the song was about I wouldn't. It's up to the listener to figure out what it means to him."

As he stares at the page in the quiet of the room, however, he budges a little. "This is a very broad song. A line like, 'Breaks just like a little girl' is a metaphor. It's like a lot of blues-based songs. Someone may be talking about a woman, but they're not really talking about a woman at all. You can say a lot if you use metaphors."

After another pause, he adds: "It's a city song. It's like looking at something extremely powerful, say the shadow of a church or something like that. I don't think in literal terms as a writer. That's a fault of a lot of the old Broadway writers

Discovering Folk Music

Dylan's pop sensibilities were shaped long before he made his journey east in the winter of 1960-61.

Growing up in the icy isolation of Hibbing, Minn., Dylan, who was still Robert Allen Zimmerman then, found comfort in the country, blues and early rock 'n' roll that he heard at night on a Louisiana radio station whose signal came in strong and clear. It was worlds away from the local Hibbing station, which leaned toward mainstream pop like Perry Como, Frankie Laine and Doris Day.

Dylan has respect for many of the pre-rock songwriters, citing Cole Porter, whom he describes as a "fearless" rhymer, and Porter's "Don't Fence Me In" as a favorite. But he didn't feel most of the pre-rock writers were speaking to him.

Dylan pursued his muse in New York with an appetite for anything he felt would help him improve his craft, whether it was learning old blues and folk songs or soaking up literature.

"I had read a lot of poetry by the time I wrote a lot of those early songs," he volunteers. "I was into the hard-core poets. I read them the way some people read Stephen King. I had also seen a lot of it growing up. Poe's stuff knocked me out in more ways than I could name. Byron and Keats and all those guys. John Donne.

"Byron's stuff goes on and on and on and you don't know half the things he's talking about or half the people he's addressing. But you could appreciate the language."

He found himself side by side with the Beat poets. "The idea that poetry was spoken in the streets and spoken publicly, you couldn't help but be excited by that," he says. "There would always be a poet in the clubs and you'd hear the rhymes, and [Allen] Ginsberg and [Gregory] Corso -- those guys were highly influential."

Dylan once said he wrote songs so fast in the '60s that he didn't want to go to sleep at night because he was afraid he might miss one. Similarly, he soaked up influences so rapidly that it was hard to turn off the light at night. Why not read more?

"Someone gave me a book of Francois Villon poems and he was writing about hard-core street stuff and making it rhyme," Dylan says, still conveying the excitement of tapping into inspiration from 15th century France. "It was pretty staggering, and it made you wonder why you couldn't do the same thing in a song.

"I'd see Villon talking about visiting a prostitute and I would turn it around. I won't visit a prostitute, I'll talk about rescuing a prostitute. Again, it's turning stuff on its head, like 'vice is salvation and virtue will lead to ruin.' "

When you hear Dylan still marveling at lines such as the one above from Machiavelli or Shakespeare's "fair is foul and foul is fair," you can see why he would pepper his own songs with phrases that forever ask us to question our assumptions -- classic lines such as "There's no success like failure and failure's no success at all," from 1965's "Love Minus Zero/No Limit."

As always, he's quick to give credit to the tradition.

"I didn't invent this, you know," he stresses. "Robert Johnson would sing some song and out of nowhere there would be some kind of Confucius saying that would make you go, 'Wow, where did that come from?' It's important to always turn things around in some fashion."

Exploring His Themes

Some writers sit down every day for two or three hours, at least, to write, whether they are in the mood or not. Others wait for inspiration. Dylan scoffs at the discipline of daily writing.

"Oh, I'm not that serious a songwriter," he says, a smile on his lips. "Songs don't just come to me. They'll usually brew for a while, and you'll learn that it's important to keep the pieces until they are completely formed and glued together."

He sometimes writes on a typewriter but usually picks up a pen because he says he can write faster than he can type. "I don't spend a lot of time going over songs," Dylan says. "I'll sometimes make changes, but the early songs, for instance, were mostly all first drafts."

He doesn't insist that his rhymes be perfect. "What I do that a lot of other writers don't do is take a concept and line I really want to get into a song and if I can't figure out for the life of me how to simplify it, I'll just take it all -- lock, stock and barrel -- and figure out how to sing it so it fits the rhyming scheme. I would prefer to do that rather than bust it down or lose it because I can't rhyme it."

Themes, he says, have never been a problem. When he started out, the Korean War had just ended. "That was a heavy cloud over everyone's head," he says. "The communist thing was still big, and the civil rights movement was coming on. So there was lots to write about.

"But I never set out to write politics. I didn't want to be a political moralist. There were people who just did that. Phil Ochs focused on political things, but there are many sides to us, and I wanted to follow them all. We can feel very generous one day and very selfish the next hour."

Dylan found subject matter in newspapers. He points to 1964's "The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll," the story of a wealthy Baltimore man who was given only a six-month sentence for killing a maid with a cane. "I just let the story tell itself in that song," he says. "Who wouldn't be offended by some guy beating an old woman to death and just getting a slap on the wrist?"

Other times, he was reacting to his own anxieties.

"A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall" helped define his place in pop with an apocalyptic tale of a society being torn apart on many levels.

I heard the sound of a thunder,
it roared out a warnin'

Heard the roar of a wave that could drown the whole world.

Heard one hundred drummers whose hands were a-blazin'

Heard ten thousand whisperin' and nobody listenin'

And it's a hard rain's a-gonna fall.

The song has captured the imagination of listeners for generations, and like most of Dylan's songs, it has lyrics rich and poetic enough to defy age. Dylan scholars have often said the song was inspired by the Cuban missile crisis.

"All I remember about the missile crisis is there were bulletins coming across on the radio, people listening in bars and cafes, and the scariest thing was that cities, like Houston and Atlanta, would have to be evacuated. That was pretty heavy.

"Someone pointed out it was written before the missile crisis, but it doesn't really matter where a song comes from. It just matters where it takes you."

His Constant Changes

Dylan's career path hasn't been smooth. During an unprecedented creative spree that resulted in three landmark albums ("Bringing It All Back Home," "Highway 61 Revisited" and "Blonde on Blonde") being released in 15 months, Dylan reconnected with the rock 'n' roll of his youth. Impressed by the energy he felt in the Beatles and desiring to speak in the musical language of his generation, he declared his independence from folk by going electric at the Newport Folk Festival in 1965.

His music soon became a new standard of rock achievement, influencing not only his contemporaries, including the Beatles, but almost everyone to follow.

The pressure on him was soon so intense that he went underground for a while in 1966, not fully resuming his career until the mid-'70s when he did a celebrated tour with the Band and then recorded one of his most hailed albums, "Blood on the Tracks." By the end of the decade, he confused some old fans by turning to brimstone gospel music.

There were gems throughout the '70s and '80s, but Dylan seemed for much of the '90s to be tired of songwriting, or, maybe, just tired of always being measured against the standards he set in the '60s.

In the early '90s he seemed to find comfort only in the rhythm of the road, losing himself in the troubadour tradition, not even wanting to talk about songwriting or his future. "Maybe I've written enough songs," he said then. "Maybe it's someone else's turn."

Somehow, however, all those shows reignited the songwriting spark -- as demonstrated in his Grammy-winning "Time Out of Mind" album in 1997; the bittersweet song from the movie "Wonder Boys," "Things Have Changed," that won an Oscar in 2001 for best original song; and his heralded 2001 album, "Love and Theft." He spent much of last year working on a series of autobiographical chronicles. The first installment is due this fall from Simon & Schuster

But nowhere, perhaps, is Dylan's regained passion more evident than in his live show, where he has switched primarily from guitar to electric keyboard and now leads his four-piece band with the intensity of a young punk auteur.

Dylan -- who has lived in Southern California since he and ex-wife Sara Lowndes moved to Malibu in the mid-'70s with their five children -- was in Amsterdam to headline two sold-out concerts at a 6,000-seat hall. He does more than 100 shows a year.

The audience on the chilly winter night after our first conversation is divided among people Dylan's age who have been following his career since the '60s and young people drawn to him by his classic body of work, and they call out for new songs, not just the classics.

Refiguring the Melodies

Back at the hotel afterward, Dylan looks about as satisfied as a man with his restless creative spirit can be.

It's nearly 2 a.m. by now and another pot of coffee cools. He rubs his hand through his curly hair. After all these hours, I realize I haven't asked the most obvious question: Which comes first, the words or the music?

Dylan leans over and picks up the acoustic guitar.

"Well, you have to understand that I'm not a melodist," he says. "My songs are either based on old Protestant hymns or Carter Family songs or variations of the blues form.

"What happens is, I'll take a song I know and simply start playing it in my head. That's the way I meditate. A lot of people will look at a crack on the wall and meditate, or count sheep or angels or money or something, and it's a proven fact that it'll help them relax. I don't meditate on any of that stuff. I meditate on a song.

"I'll be playing Bob Nolan's 'Tumbling Tumbleweeds,' for instance, in my head constantly -- while I'm driving a car or talking to a person or sitting around or whatever. People will think they are talking to me and I'm talking back, but I'm not. I'm listening to the song in my head. At a certain point, some of the words will change and I'll start writing a song."

He's slowly strumming the guitar, but it's hard to pick out the tune.

"I wrote 'Blowin' in the Wind' in 10 minutes, just put words to an old spiritual, probably something I learned from Carter Family records. That's the folk music tradition. You use what's been handed down. 'The Times They Are A-Changin' is probably from an old Scottish folk song."

As he keeps playing, the song starts sounding vaguely familiar.

I want to know about "Subterranean Homesick Blues," one of his most radical songs. The 1965 number fused folk and blues in a way that made everyone who heard it listen to it over and over. John Lennon once said the song was so captivating on every level that it made him wonder how he could ever compete with it.

The lyrics, again, were about a society in revolution, a tale of drugs and misuse of authority and trying to figure out everything when little seemed to make sense:

Johnny's in the basement
Mixing up the medicine
I'm on the pavement
Thinking about the government

The music too reflected the paranoia of the time -- roaring out of the speakers at the time with a cannonball force.

Where did that come from?

Without pause, Dylan says, almost with a wink, that the inspiration dates to his teens. "It's from Chuck Berry, a bit of 'Too Much Monkey Business' and some of the scat songs of the '40s."

As the music from the guitar gets louder, you realize Dylan is playing one of the most famous songs of the 20th century, Irving Berlin's "Blue Skies."

You look into his eyes for a sign.

Is he writing a new song as we speak?

"No," he says with a smile. "I'm just showing you what I do."

AND FINALLY -- We have a clip from the annual "Bob Dylan Birthday Bash" at a place called Coffee Talk in Norristown, PA. This clip is from last night (May 24) during the Bash:

The Rolling Stone cover story is now up in full at the London Times here.