Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Ground Control to Major Tom: U2 at FedEx Field

As those of you who follow Twitter and Facebook all ready know, I decided at the last minute to go see U2 at FedEx Field outside DC tonight. Friends who know me well could not believe I'd miss the concert and kept at it until I came to my senses. Very glad they did. While I have a rather odd "relationship" with U2 (I'd describe it as having four extra siblings), I enjoyed it very much. There were parts that were brilliant, but there were other parts that are so darn annoying (was there a cause tonight that wasn't mentioned?), it was an amazing achievement to turn the 1970s "Stadium Rock" into something far more intimate, no small achievement.

I have to admit, I've come to a place with them that I wish they'd leave the theatrics (light shows and high and mighty Causes) at home for once and just do the music. Of course, then they'd probably cease being U2. The music is amazing and why Bono can't stop talking continues to escape me (except for perhaps to make up Dylan who speaks, like, never). Of course, if Bono stopped talking he'd cease being Bono. I also wanted to remind him that Republicans are fans of U2 as well and just as I was about to do a shout-out, he name checks George W. Bush and dedicates "One" to him. Great timing, Bono.

I'm still working on getting into the new album, though I love Magnificent which I played a lot this summer in Anaheim. I also wish that Bono would channel Baez less and Dylan more. The music frankly is far more powerful than all the incessant slogans which just were all over the place tonight. The heart wrenching Causes were as plentiful as the light theatrics and so somewhat all were diminished in the end, not what I think would be his intention. However, when the video of the struggle of the brave souls in the streets of Iran went up on the screen it was clear that the young Muslim couple standing next to me were clearly, clearly moved and as far as the Causes were concerned, it was that moment, right there in the stands that hit me the most. It was clear that this couple were living inside what we were seeing on the screen. Even in the midst of the bedlam, you could see the joy of connection on their faces.

"The Claw" (which did remind me of "The Claw" in Toy Story) was an extraordinary achievement in creative engineering. It just took light shows to a whole other level. At times "The Claw" looked more like U2's private cathedral than David Bowie's Space Ship. But it was darn cool, with bridges that moved so that the band could easily leave the center stage and get closer to the audience, something all four of the members of U2 took advantage of.

The concert was at FedEx Field and I discovered why the Redskins don't win. They are in the wrong stadium. This stadium - which was actually built by Jack Kent Cook - was built by the former owner to be the Redskins stadium. But you couldn't tell that by looking at the field. The team promoted there was FedEx and it's so excessive that it might behoove Danny Snyder to just rename the Redkins the "Fedex Fielders." At least then they might have a stadium devoted to a football team. That stadium has no heart - it's just one giant advertisement.

It was rather cool, though, when the President of Rwanda came in and sat down two rows in front of me. That was pretty cool.

There was most-definitely a 1970s flavor to the music and show tonight, hearkening back not only to the heyday of Stadium Rock, but also to the themes and ambitions of those days. It became clear that Bono feels strongly that if a country can land someone on the moon, surely then we can solve world poverty. And have a great time doing it.

Here are a few highlights:

Monday, September 28, 2009

"It's as if I never left ..."

Thanks to BDP on Facebook, this flash of an episode of Frasier was posted featuring (now) Sir Derek Jacobi. I've been a long-time fan of Sir Derek stretching from when I first saw him onstage as both Cyrano de Bergerac and as Benedict in Much Ado About Nothing with the Royal Shakespeare Company in Straford-upon-Avon during my junior year in college in England. He'd play Cyrano for the matinee and Benedict for the evening performance. He went on to win a Tony for his performance of Benedict on Broadway. I saw him play the part several times in both New York and DC where I was able to meet him backstage at the Kennedy Center.

Imagine two more different characters than Cyrano and Benedict - it was quite feat to play the two parts in the same tour and often on the same day.

This hilarious parody of himself playing a scene from Hamlet in the video above is simply priceless. He is indeed satirizing himself - no small feat all on its own. He is well-known for his distinguished interpretation of Hamlet that makes the language of Shakespeare seem effortless, as though he is just making up the words as they just happened to pop into his own head. His performance had a profound affect on younger actors who followed, including Kenneth Branagh who would later go on to direct the both of them in Henry V and Dead Again, as well as Branagh's own Hamlet.

I've seen him on stage several times in other productions over the years, some good, some misses, but I confess the last time I saw him was in a play in London a few years ago and, well, I did have terrific seats not far from center stage but had not been off the plane very long from DC and fell sound to sleep in the middle of his performance. Out cold. I couldn't believe it when I woke up as the cast was taking their final bows and I opened my eyes and there he was. Not one of my more stellar moments.

Today he is well known for playing I, Claudius, as well as his mystery series based on the Cadfael novels. But here he is in early days presenting his unforgettable and powerfully understated (unlike the Fraiser parody) performance of Act 3, Scene 1 from Hamlet:

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Imagine there's no Communion, it's easy if you try ... no hell below us, above us only sky

We finally got around to reading The Imagined Community of the Anglican Communion over at The Other Cafe, thanks to Chip Webb, who couldn't believe the article didn't get more airplay. Perhaps it was because we all thought it was actually a brilliant parody on a slow news day. Oops.

But alas, it's serious, written by a serious historian in a serious library in a serious university in a serious state in the union. Or a serious state of something.

So get thee hence, but we suggest that you "right click" to open the article so that you may also click to play the kindly offering below to enforce the mood as one reads with great, well, seriousness, this quite serious article. No really.

In one fell swoop, whoooosh, the author reveals that the Lambeth Conference, the Primates, bishops, the Anglican Covenant, the Anglican Consultative Council, and yes, even the Archbishop of Canterbury (past and present) are all imagined. Only The Episcopal Church is real.

It's like the entire Anglican Communion has a serious case of Harvey.

Rowan Williams himself might possibly, yes may quite actually be - a myth. In fact, he might not even exist. If he does exist, then it's even worse for at any moment he's preparing to take up the mantle of the Ghosts of Canterburies Past and drop kick all the Methodists and what's left of John Henry Newman into oblivion. Yes, the author even quotes the Great Conservative Icon, shall we all bow, Edmund Burke in possibly one of the most outstanding examples of unconscious irony ever printed on a blog page. Here we find Burke, shall we all bow, himself being used to illustrate that at any moment, the Church of England is about to explode into purple gowned Nazis: “The pretexts are always found in some specious appearance of a real good.” That the author cannot see the log protruding out of his own eyeball (talk about calling the poor boiling kettle black) is really quite an astonishing thing to behold. And yes, dear friends, this guy is whittling away the hours in the Yale Library. Too bad the Scots took those early Episcopalians phone call and got us all signed up for the duration. We could have just imagined England was a dream.

Perhaps the Communion really is just a six foot rabbit after all.

Sunday Night at the Cafe: Hallelujah

Defying a ban by progressive artists against Israel, legendary Leonard Cohen took the stage in Tel Aviv last Thursday just before Yom Kippur to an audience of 50,000. This performance of his signature song, penned by his own hand, is spell-binding. There are some things that music can do that all the prose in the world cannot even touch.

Tip of the tinfoil to the steadfast RWB. You hit out of the park again, my friend.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Forgiven so that I can forgive ...

I've put this up a few times, it's even in the sidebar, but there's just something very special about this worship song. Every so often very special songs come along that just find a place in our hearts and this one is one of them:

Here are the lyrics:

Here I am humbled by your Majesty
Covered by your grace so free
Here I am, knowing I'm a sinful man
Covered by the blood of the Lamb

Now I've found the greatest love of all is mine
Since you laid down your life
The greatest sacrifice

Majesty, Majesty
Your grace has found me just as I am
Empty handed, but alive in your hands
Majesty, Majesty
Forever I am changed by your love
In the presence of your Majesty

Here I am humbled by the love that you give
Forgiven so that I can forgive
Here I stand, knowing that I'm your desire
Sanctified by glory and fire

Now I've found the greatest love of all is mine
Since you laid down your life
The greatest sacrifice

S. Garrard and M. Smith 2003

We're sending a shout-out to the Anglican Ecumenical Society Bible Study which meets today at 4:30 p.m. EDT. in SL. Ask for a TP from ZoeRose Eiren if you'd like to come - all are welcome.

Virginia Supreme Court to hear oral arguments October 21 on The Episcopal Church's appeal to overturn Judge Bellow's rulings

Click on the letters below. The Episcopal Church has filed an appeal with the Supreme Court of the Commonwealth of Virginia to overturn the rulings of Judge Randy Bellows in the Fairfax Circuit Court. The appeal, though widely expected to be granted, is pending.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

St. Andrew's Mt. Pleasant offers excellent resource site for 40 Days of Discernment

Can it be three years since we worked overtime to get our original 40 Days of Discernment materials ready for the churches in Virginia? It has gone far and wide in those three years, far beyond what any of us could have imagined!

As many of you know, the amazing St. Andrew's Mt. Pleasant has now begun their own 40 Days of Discernment regarding their future in the Episcopal Church. They have put up an excellent updated one-stop resource site here for their own discernment - don't miss it!

Among the resources that they offer as their own parish enters 40 Days of Discernment:

In addition they offer other resources as well:

The Rt. Rev'd Mark Lawrence's Address to the Clergy of the Diocese of South Carolina

The Episcopal Church: Tearing the Fabric of the Communion to Shreds

The American Anglican Council's (the "AAC") 2009 General Convention Reports

Can't We All Just Get Along?

Sex: Should We Change The Rules?

Original 40 Days of Discernment Website

Check their excellent resource site here that includes very handy explanations of explanation of the resources. A must-read for anyone considering their future in TEC. We know all ready that there is a quiet exodus all ready underway in the Diocese of the Rio Grande.

Archbishop of Canterbury delighted that Pope plans to visit England next year

From The Telegraph:

Dr Williams, who yesterday was visiting the Anglican Church in Japan, welcome the news that the pope is set to visit, the first visit in almost 30 years.

"Some time ago, following similar invitations from Roman Catholic bishops and the British Government, I personally expressed my hope to Pope Benedict that he would accept the invitation to visit Britain," he said.

"I am therefore delighted to hear that there is every possibility that the Pope may indeed visit Britain in the course of the next year.

"I'm sure I speak on behalf of Anglicans throughout Britain, in assuring him that he would be received with great warmth and joy."

The Vatican is set to announce the visit, which is likely to be next autumn, in the coming days. Buckingham Palace is expected to agree to the invitation.

The visit would be only the second since Henry VIII broke with Rome and established the Church of England 500 years ago. It will be the first time the Pope has visited Britain since Pope John Paul II in 1982.

Gordon Brown personally asked the Pope to make a visit to Britain when he visited the Vatican in February. It is thought the Pope could hold a Mass at Wembley Stadium, much like John Paul II did almost 30 years ago.

A spokesman for Mr Brown said: "The PM is obviously delighted at the prospect of a visit from Pope Benedict XVI to Britain.

"It would be a moving and momentous occasion for the whole country and he would undoubtedly receive the warmest of welcomes."

David Cameron, the Conservative leader, said he was "delighted" to hear about the possible visit.

Read it all here.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Bob Dylan once again nominated for Nobel Prize

If it's fall and the leaves are starting to turn, then it's time for the annual Nobel Prize nomination of Bob Dylan. Here's the latest:
DEMANDS for the US singer-songwriter Bob Dylan to be awarded the highest prize in literature, the Nobel Prize, are growing – with one Danish professor outing herself as one of his backers in a newspaper interview.

Traditionally, the reclusive and enigmatic Dylan, who has now released more than 30 albums in a career spanning nearly 50 years, is thought to be reluctant to accept awards – although over the years he has picked up many, including an Oscar.

However, now pressure appears to be growing for the 68- year-old American icon to be awarded the Swedish Nobel Prize.

Professor Anne-Marie Mai told the Danish newspaper Politiken she had nominated Dylan for the prize – to be awarded next month – for his opus dating back to the early 1960s, which she said had “renewed poetry”.

Mai said she was only “one of many” who had nominated Dylan, born Robert Allen Zimmerman in the US midwest.

A Nobel for Dylan would be the first time the prize is awarded to a musician, although Dylan’s fans regard him more in the tradition of the troubadour poet.

Dylan’s most famous works are still his early 60s protest songs such as Blowin’ In The Wind and The Times They Are A-Changin’, but he rapidly evolved into lyrical surrealism, and then, in the 1970s, religiosity. Meanwhile, he outraged folk purists by switching to electric guitar and embracing rock and roll.

His most recent string of albums – from 1997’s Time Out Of Mind to this year’s Together Through Life, largely reflect on the passing of time, old age and a need to right previous wrongs.

As well a the Oscar for the Best Original Song for 1999’s Times Have Changed, Dylan was awarded the 2000 Polar Music Prize by Sweden’s King Carl Gustav XVI. However, the singer refused to speak at the awards ceremony, or wear formal dress.

The Nobel Prize for Literature has previously been won by French writer Jean-Paul Sartre (1964), and the Irish playwright Samuel Beckett, in 1969.

Although academics are supposed to remain silent about their nominations, Mai said “the time has come to publicly argue for Dylan”.

The singer had produced more than four decades-worth of “experimental, romantic and modernist work which both merged popular expressions with the traditions of world literature”. Dylan’s lyrics are full of “beauty, restlessness and energy”, she said – adding that this bore comparison with writers such as Pushkin, Baudelaire, Goethe and Keats.

Last year the Frenchman Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clezio won the Nobel literature prize. Every year nominations are requested from around 300 literature professors, members of the Swedish Academy and representatives of writers’ associations for the prize, which is then voted on by a committee and awarded each October.
Read it all here.

Late Night at the Cafe: It's Alright, Ma

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Appointed Episcopal bishop takes action against the clergy of The Diocese of Quincy

The Presiding Bishop's litigation strategy has been to set up shadow dioceses, financed by the national office, appoint a shadow bishop to sue the departing diocese and depose the clergy that voted to separate from The Episcopal Church. The Diocese of Quincy responds (via e-mail):
The Standing Committee of the Diocese of Quincy, part of the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone, has issued a statement regarding recent actions taken against its clergy by an Episcopal bishop.

“The supposed inhibitions and depositions of our clergy have no bearing on those clergy, or on their ministries, since our diocese is no longer under the authority of the Episcopal Church. The actions of Episcopal Bishop John Buchanan simply mean that the Episcopal Church no longer wants these clergy to be allowed to function in any of their churches,” said Fr. John Spencer, President of the Quincy Standing Committee.

Buchanan, Fr. Spencer said, represents a new Episcopal diocese in central Illinois that was organized last April. In late August, Buchanan sent letters supposedly accepting the “renunciation of the ordained ministry” of the Episcopal church by several Quincy clergy, and declaring that those clergy were deprived of all the authority conveyed in ordination. “We did leave the Episcopal Church,” Spencer said, “but we didn’t renounce our ordination vows, or abandon our ministries.” Those named by Buchanan included The Rev. Edward den Blaauwen, The Rev. John Spencer, The Rev. Richard Chapin, The Rev. Thomas Janikowski, The Rev. Lewis Payne, The Rev James Marshall, and The Rev. Peter Powell.

Then, on September 8, Buchanan issued another letter claiming to “inhibit” another group of Quincy clergy from carrying on their ministries. Those named included The Rev. Andy Ainley, The Rev. William Barnds, the Rev. Michael Brooks, The Rev. Harold Camacho Castro, The Rev. Eric Craig, the Rev. Richard Crist, The Rev. James Derbyshire, The Rev. Shawn Doubet, The Rev. Ronald Drummond, The Rev. Charles Flinn, The Rev. Gus Franklin, The Rev. Thomas Gimple, The Rev. M. Bill Knapp, The Rev. Louis Mahue, The Rev. Arthur Mattox, The Rev. Steven McClaskey, The Rt. Rev. Alberto Morales, The Rev. Nicholas Pierce, The Rev. Luis Gonzalez, The Rev. V. Joey Scalisi, The Rev. William Swatos, The Rev. Robert Tiling, The Rev. David Wagner, The Rev. Ronald White, The Rev. Deacon Rod Bales, The Rev. Deacon Paul Brooks, The Rev. Deacon Diane Brooks, The Rev. Deacon Dennis Brown, The Rev. Deacon Phillip Fleming, The Rev. Deacon Danny Grimes, The Rev. Deacon K. Krewer, The Rev. Deacon Joshua Miller, The Rev. Deacon William Timmons, and The Rev. Deacon Christian Whatley.

“What Bishop Buchanan either doesn’t understand, or just doesn’t want to accept,” Fr. Spencer said, “is that the Diocese of Quincy separated itself from the Episcopal Church last November. When we did that, we made it very clear that the rules and canons of the Episcopal Church no longer have any authority or control over our diocese, or our clergy.”

“By contrast,” Spencer added, “once we knew which of our clergy wanted to stay behind in the Episcopal Church, we simply released them from our clergy roster as priests and deacons in good standing. We never questioned their integrity, or their right to continue in ministry. They have not shown us the same courtesy, or respect.”

Additionally, Spencer said, Abbot Morales, Fr. Camacho Castro and Fr. Gonzalez are members of St. Benedict’s Abbey in Bartonville, an ecumenical abbey, and were never under the control of the Episcopal Church.

To add to the confusion, Spencer said, the new Episcopal diocese adopted a similar name, The Diocese of Quincy of the Episcopal Church. “But they didn’t stop there,” Spencer said. “They have put up a website that lists all the churches of our diocese as churches of their diocese. They are intentionally misleading people.” For example, the church Spencer serves, St. Francis in Lake of the Woods Plaza, Dunlap, “has nothing whatever to do with the new Episcopalian diocese. But they list St. Francis as one of their churches. They know this is false.”

At their Synod last November, the historic Diocese of Quincy, founded in 1877, realigned as a member of the Anglican Church of the Southern Cone (South America). At their upcoming Synod in October, they expect to formally affiliate with the Anglican Church in North America, a new jurisdiction of some 700 churches in the U.S. and Canada who have left the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada because those groups have fallen away from historic Christian teaching and discipline.

The legitimate website of the original Diocese of Quincy, Spencer says, is “Don’t accept imitations,” he said.

After twenty-five years, Bishop Peter James Lee quietly prepares to leave the Diocese of Virginia

Last Saturday there was a quiet farewell in Richmond to Bishop Peter James Lee, Bishop of Virginia (as opposed to the original festivities planned for the National Cathedral in Washington) as Bishop Lee officially steps down as the bishop of the Diocese of Virginia next week after twenty-five years as the Episcopal Bishop of Virginia.

Episcopal Life's press release reports that while he is leaving Virginia, he's still putting retirement off for now. "Lee was recently elected chairman of the board of trustees of the Church Pension Fund. He is chairman of the Friends of Canterbury Cathedral in the United States, which encourages support for the mother church of the Anglican Communion, and is also a member of the Compass Rose Society, an international group that supports special ministries of the Archbishop of Canterbury and of the Anglican Communion Office."

"Beginning October 1," the press release states, "Lee will continue his ministry in the Episcopal Church as interim dean of Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, the largest Episcopal cathedral on the West Coast." Perhaps unsurprisingly, all things considered, there is no mention of the massive litigation now up for almost-certain appeal in the Supreme Court of the Commonwealth of Virginia or what could have been one of his most extraordinary achievements, overseeing the drafting of the Diocese of Virginia's Protocol for Departing Congregations.

I am sad, actually, very sad. I have some warm memories of him from many years ago, back before he was courted to be a nominee for Presiding Bishop in 1997 and years before General Convention 2003. In fact, one of my favorite Bishop Lee stories was when he once came to Truro for confirmations around 1990 and a reception was held in his honor in the Undercroft after the service.

Folks were milling about, drinking coffee and munching on sweets when suddenly someone droped an entire cup of coffee on the floor, right at Bishop Lee's feet. It splattered everywhere.

The parish secretaries were horrified and took off in several directions to get enough paper towels to clean the entire Undercroft. When they returned with bundles of towels in hand, they found Bishop Lee down on the floor on his hands and knees mopping up the spilled coffee.

"Bishop Lee!" one of the Truro parish secretaries nearly shouted at him in some kind of blend of surprise and horror. "What on earth are you doing!"

Bishop Lee straightened up, coffee soaked paper towels in hand, and smiled. "Once a deacon," he said to the secretary as he put the towels in the waste basket, "always a deacon."

As we pause tonight and ponder the coming week, it saddens me to no end that so much in the past six years has been lost. But, even with that being said, one never gives up hope, not because any of us have all the answers, hardly, but because we serve Someone who does, Someone who serves always, in season and out, as Bishop Lee demonstrated in his own way on that Sunday afternoon all those years ago.

So here's a dedication to my first bishop, the one who received me into The Episcopal Church. I'll never forget his witness that day, though so much has passed since, no, I choose to not forget, for in the end it is Christ whom we serve, it is Christ who serves.



UPDATE: Here are scenes from Bishop Lee's farewell service in Richmond last Saturday. Keep calm. Carry on.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Monday Night at the Cafe: El Shaddai

Episcopal Diocese of Colorado loses millions in "extraordinary litigation expenses" and investment losses

"As a result of the extraordinary legal expenses associated with the property litigation involving Grace Church in Colorado Springs our reserves have been substantially reduced. Such litigation totalled $2,900,000. The combination of withdrawals for litigation expenditures and the stock market decline have caused the Diocesan unrestricted reserves to decline from $4,900,000 at January 1, 2006 to $750,000 currently. This decline has also lead to a significant decrease in the investment income to be received from these reserves in 2010."

The Episcopal Diocese of Colorado. Read it all here - Kendall Harmon's got the scoop!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

U2 hits the American road ...

U2 is now on tour of the United States - here they are a few days ago in Chicago just leaving their hotel. Guess it's not out through the kitchen and into the alley for them:

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Dylan's at it again

You can hear snips of his new Christmas Album - and yes, it's more than fun. His voice is, well, unique - but his phrasing is stellar. This is an album that exists in a world where the 1960s NEVER HAPPENED, right down to the album cover itself. Think it's accident? Well, think again!

This is a man who did so many years of his most-excellent Theme Time Radio Hour - and, yes, it shows. But listen to his phrasing, he's still a master at it, even if he might just be winking at his legendary status. Enjoy - it's beyond enjoyment! This is our holiday album this year, this it it. We're putting Bing and Frank and Elvis in the drawer. Surprised? Maybe the 1960s was just a bad dream after all. Merry Christmas, Bob.

UPDATE: Good friend RWB is on to it to. Oh, to see Dylan at his wittiest! He's just so darn funny, that joker. We've now added a countdown clock.

Authority of Dennis Canon to sieze property refuted by the South Carolina Supreme Court

Anglican Curmudgeon has his excellent commentary now up on the win of AMiA in their property dispute with The Episcopal Church. He writes:
The opinion presents a clear and thoroughly common-sense refutation of ECUSA's outlandish claims: that as a hierarchical Church, it has the power (1) to decide which congregation/vestry is the "true" congregation/vestry in a given parish; and (2) to override State law by imposing a trust on all parish property everywhere in its Dioceses without its being the owner of any of that property.
This is indeed at the heart of the official TEC argument. It has been a new invention since the current Presiding Bishop took office. I recall that in the Virginia Circuit Court, the Diocese of Virginia was asked why they didn't require the parishes to transfer the ownership of their properties to the diocese after the Dennis Canon was alleged passed by General Convention so that the diocese would comply with Virginia law, the lawyers for the Diocese said it would cause an uproar in the Diocese. Of course it would! And the ruling in South Carolina illustrates why.

Read Curmudgeon's excellent commentary here.

Friday, September 18, 2009

PBS Religion & Ethics turns focus to Anglican Cathedral in Second LIfe

As many of you know, I am part of the community at the Anglican Cathedral in Second Life. I've led a Bible Study there and have read in Book of Common Prayer services. I also belong to a Bible Study of the Anglican Ecumenical Society, which is affiliated with the Anglican Cathedral. Being part of the community has opened my circle up to Anglicans and Episcopalians from around the world.

When I was at General Convention, I demonstrated the Anglican Cathedral in Second Life to many raised eyebrows. But attending the services and especially the times of prayer were very important to me while I covering General Convention. One of the people I talked to - who's eyebrow wasn't quite as raised - was Kim Lawton of PBS' Religion & Ethics. I was surprised when she didn't quickly dismiss it, but I had no idea that there would be follow-up.

If you'd like to learn more about Anglicans in Second Life, feel free to drop me a note or comment below. Saturday's at 1:30 p.m. "SL Time" (which is California Time) we have our weekly Bible Study sponsored by the Anglican Ecumenical Society. We've just started studying Ephesians. If you'd like to come, let me know. I am happy to help you learn how to navigate through Second Life. If you all ready know your way around SL, send me an IM in SL - I'm ZoeRose Eiren.

Here's the story:

You can also read more online here, including interviews with folks I now call great friends.

More Breaking News: South Carolina Supreme Court rules in favor of AMiA church separating with property from Episcopal Diocese

Read it all here. Bishop Chuck Murphy of AMiA has released a statement:

"In addition to being a complete victory for all of us here at All Saints, Pawleys Island, it is a profoundly important legal decision repudiating the ‘authority' of the Dennis Canon. I believe that this will have enormous implications not only for the two Episcopal dioceses in South Carolina, but, I suspect, for other churches throughout the U.S.A."

You can read the entire ruling here.

Breaking News: ACI releases devastating paper on the Presiding Bishop and her litigation strategy

The Anglican Communion Institute has released an indepth paper on litigation that makes a convincing case that the Presiding Bishop has no authority in the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church to initiate and conduct property litigation against dioceses. "Arguments based on a presumed equivalence of the roles of the Presiding Bishop and Executive Council to those of a corporate CEO and board of directors are found not to be valid," writes the ACI.

The paper also finds that there is also no convincing case that the Presiding Bishop is carrying out a fiduciary duty to pursue litigation against dioceses (and we would include interference in local parishes since the Presiding Bishop herself sued the parishes that separated from The Episcopal Church in Virginia, a case that still stands though she seems to have later abandoned that strategy in regards to other separating parishes, setting up shadow dioceses or directing sitting diocesan bishops to carry out the strategy instead - obviously they saw an issue there so are financing the operation without Schroi's name on the lawsuits).

And the point is, as we saw at General Convention this summer, Schori's office is still running the litigation operation, including hiring full-time staff to carry it out.

"No person is under a fiduciary duty to undertake something that has not been authorized," writes the ACI. The paper then goes on to unpack what is actually authorized by the Constitution and Canons of The Episcopal Church - and it's a devastating read.

"Bishop Stacy F. Sauls attempts to locate authority for the Presiding Bishop to conduct litigation by identifying the Presiding Bishop as the chief executive officer of TEC, but that identification is incorrect. Presumably he bases his assertion on the canon that provides that the Presiding Bishop is chief executive officer of TEC’s Executive Council."

The paper then goes on to make the case that "The Executive Council is not a constitutionally established body." Which is what we've all known. The Presiding Bishop and her advisers then reinvented the word "mission" to mean conducting litigation. The ACI paper confronts that redirection point by point and takes that misuse authority apart, piece by piece.

Read it all here. More commentary coming.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Anglican Church in Nigeria elects orthodox leader as new primate

Great news! Here's a statement from CANA Bishop Martyn Minns:
“Archbishop Okoh is a Godly leader and CANA is delighted that he will be leading the Church of Nigeria. He is a strong supporter of CANA and the Anglican Church in North America, and has been instrumental in helping to advance the orthodox Anglican GAFCON movement. Archbishop Okoh is committed to spreading the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He is a personal friend, and I’m pleased that he is stepping into this leadership role during this crucial time in the life of the worldwide Anglican Communion.” -The Rt. Rev'd Martyn Minns, Bishop of CANA in the ACNA and the Church of Nigeria.
Australian Archbishop Peter Jensen has this to say about the new primate-elect:
“Nicholas Okoh was present at the foundation of GAFCON and has played a leading part in the movement. Archbishop Okoh has made a significant contribution as the Chairman of the Theological Resource group. He is an able and committed Christian leader and we warmly welcome his appointment.” -The Most Rev'd Peter Jensen, General Secretary of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans, is Bishop of Sydney and the metropolitan of the Province of New South Wales.
Here is George Conger's article on the election of Archbishop Okoh, who will succeed Archbishop Peter Akinola next year:
The Church of Nigeria has chosen a new primate to succeed Archbishop Peter Akinola. On Sept 15 the House of Bishops meeting at St Stephen’s Cathedral in Umuahia, elected the Rt. Rev. Nicholas Okah, Bishop of Asaba and Archbishop of Bendel to a ten year term as primate of the largest church in the Anglican Communion.

The Dean of the Church of Nigeria, Archbishop Maxwell Anikwenwa reported the new primate received over two thirds of the votes of the 149 diocesan bishops present in a secret ballot, and the registrar of the Church of Nigeria, Mr. Abraham Yisa certifying the results of the election.

Archbishop Okoh will be translated as Bishop of Abuja, Archbishop of the Province of Abuja, Metropolitan and Primate of All Nigeria in March upon the retirement of Archbishop Akinola.

A former Lieutenant Colonel in the Nigerian Army, Archbishop Okoh was ordained priest in 1979, appointed Bishop of Asaba in 2001 and elected Archbishop of the Province of Bendel in 2005.

“I am grateful to God and to the Church of Nigeria, particularly our laymen, clergy and House of Bishops” for their confidence in me, the primate-elect told the House of Bishops after the vote was announced.

Archbishop Peter Jensen of Sydney, the general secretary of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans (FCA) told The Church of England Newspaper he was pleased with the choice.

Archbishop Okoh “was present at the foundation of GAFCON and has played a leading part in the movement,” Dr. Jensen said. “Archbishop Okoh has made a significant contribution as the Chairman of the Theological Resource group. He is an able and committed Christian leader and we warmly welcome his appointment.”

“Archbishop Okoh is a Godly leader and CANA is delighted that he will be leading the Church of Nigeria,” Bishop Martyn Minns of CANA said.

The new primate was a “strong supporter” of the Nigerian Church’s American arm and of the Anglican Church in North America, he said. “Archbishop Okoh is committed to spreading the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He is a personal friend, and I’m pleased that he is stepping into this leadership role during this crucial time in the life of the worldwide Anglican Communion,” Bishop Minns said.
Read it all here.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Call to Prayer: The Anglican Church of Nigeria prepares to elect a new primate

Archbishop Peter Akinola is preparing to retire in 2010 and his successor is to be elected tomorrow by the Church of Nigeria's House of Bishops, which includes the bishops of the Convocation of Anglican in North America (CANA), now also a member of the Anglican Church in North America. We remember our brothers and sisters in the Church of Nigeria who are also praying this night for wisdom and discernment to break through the political intrigue of the election and elect the man God is calling to lead the largest province in the Anglican Communion.
Almighty God, you have given your Holy Spirit to the Church to lead us into all truth: bless with the Spirit's grace and presence the members of the House of Bishops of the Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion; keep them steadfast in faith and united in love, that they may manifest your glory and prepare the way of your kingdom; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord. Amen.

Monday Night at the Cafe: Farewell

Patrick Swayze 1952-2009

Saturday, September 12, 2009

One of the largest Episcopal congregations in the United States takes steps to sever ties with The Episcopal Church

From The Living Church:

One of the largest congregations in The Episcopal Church, St. Andrew’s Church of Mt. Pleasant, S.C., may by December become one of the largest congregations to renounce its Episcopal ties.

On Oct. 11, St. Andrew’s will begin a 40 Days of Discernment program to discuss whether it should sever ties with The Episcopal Church. The congregation will vote on Dec. 9-16, after spending a week in prayer and fasting.

The Rev. Steve Wood, rector of St. Andrew’s since 2000, wrote to all members of the parish on September 4 to announce the program. The letter included the signatures of 36 other congregational leaders, including all current staff and nine senior wardens whose service dates back to 1989.

“Since 2003 I have felt compromised by continued association with a denomination that I consider to be apostate,” Fr. Wood told The Living Church.

He said he does not know of any significant group in St. Andrew’s that wants to remain affiliated with The Episcopal Church. When he interviewed to become rector, Fr. Wood said, both the search committee and the vestry asked if he was open to separation from The Episcopal Church.

Fr. Wood's predecessor was the Rev. Terrell Glenn, who is now a bishop of the Anglican Church in the Americas and rector of AMiA’s mother church, All Saints’, Pawleys Island, S.C.

“We’re going into this with as open a mind as we can,” Fr. Wood said. “There's a little risk in there. You never know what God might say.”

On its most recent parochial report, St. Andrew’s listed 2,698 baptized members, 2,520 members in good standing and an average Sunday attendance of 1,515. Fr. Wood says another 500 to 700 people are active givers who will not join the church formally because of its affiliation with The Episcopal Church.

Fr. Wood was one of three nominees when the diocese elected the Rt. Rev. Mark J. Lawrence as its 14th bishop in September 2006. Fr. Wood said he gave advance notice of the program to Bishop Lawrence, and will keep lines of communication open.

Fr. Wood said the founding of the Anglican Church in North America was a significant factor in the church's decision to begin the 40 Days of Discernment program.

“We have a home port we can sail into now,” he said.

Fr. Wood praised the 40 Days of Discernment curriculum because sections of it reflect the writing style of the Rev. John Yates, rector of The Falls Church in Virginia.

“The material has a very Yatesian feel to it,” he said. “It's gentle, straightforward and non-accusatory. The material itself will be very appropriate for the people of St. Andrew’s.”

Read it all here.

MONDAY NIGHT UDPATE: What crisis? Looks like it's time to post this one, off Dylan's latest album. There's nothing to worry about cause it's all good.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Thursday Night at the Cafe: Mighty to Save

Bob Dylan on the Watchtower

Excellent commentary at The Best American Poetry here on one of Dylan's best known enigmatic compositions and makes the case it's based on Isaiah 21:

My heart panted, fearfulness affrighted me: the night of my pleasure hath he turned into fear unto me. Prepare the table, watch in the watchtower, eat, drink: arise, ye princes, and anoint the shield. For thus hath the LORD said unto me, Go, set a watchman, let him declare what he seeth And he saw a chariot with a couple of horsemen, a chariot of asses, and a chariot of camels; and he hearkened diligently with much heed: And he cried, A lion: My lord, I stand continually upon the watchtower in the daytime, and I am set in my ward whole nights: And, behold, here cometh a chariot of men, with a couple of horsemen. And he answered and said, Babylon is fallen, is fallen; and all the graven images of her gods he hath broken unto the ground. -Isaiah 21:4-9

In "All Along the Watchtower," Bob Dylan envisions America's decline and accepts the role of warning people about it. The song opens with Dylan having a conversation with two parts of his self. The joker thinks life is absurd. The thief part of his self--the part that steals lines from other singers and poets and ideas from the cultural air--reassures the joker that confusion is not their fate. They will see clearly and sing out a warning to the people.

Dylan sees American social collapse as strikingly similar to the collapse of Babylon in the Bible. Babylon was bloated with wealth, weakened by self-indulgence, and ready to fall. The comparison is not unique to Dylan. F. Scott Fitzgerald, for example, called New York City "Babylon on the Hudson." Dylan seeks guidance from the Biblical prophet Isaiah who foretold the fall of Babylon in the Book of Isaiah, Chapter 21. Here are the pertinent lines from the King James translation, the one I assume Dylan used:

5 Prepare the table, watch in the watchtower, eat, drink: arise, ye princes, and anoint the shield. 6.For thus hath the Lord said unto me, Go, set a watchman, let him declare what he seeth... 8. and he cried, A lion... 9. and, behold, here cometh a chariot of men, with a couple of horsemen. And he answered and said, Babylon is fallen.

Dylan uses all this imagery in the next part of the song. There's the watchtower, the princes, the lion--in the form of a wildcat, and two riders. Dylan assumes the role of the watchman, the sentinel prepared to maintain a watchful eye and proclaim exactly what he sees. (Dave Van Ronk correctly noted that a watchtower has no wall to walk along, but the image of walking is more resonant than standing because the movement demonstrates the watchman's anxiety.)

Women and barefoot servants are not included in the Biblical verses. Why did Dylan include them? "The women came and went" echoes T.S. Eliot's refrain from "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock": "In the room the women come and go/Talking of Michaelangelo." I think Dylan is describing the anxiety of relationships, the difficulty for men to prevent women from going, as a metaphor: the decaying of relationships exemplifies a decaying society. The "barefoot servants" I take to be an attack on the thoughtless rich, the princes in the society who need their servants so servile and poor that no shoes are allowed or allowable.

Beyond Isaiah and T.S. Eliot, Dylan finds another poet in the tradition he follows. He ends the song with the title word of Allen Ginsberg's angry poem about what he sees as the sad fate of the weak, the innocent, the outsider, and the artist in America. Buoyed by the company of a Biblical prophet and two iconic modern poets, Dylan is ready to take his place on the watchtower.

The song, though, is incomplete. It does not adequately confront Dylan's own paradox: he's a paradigm of the wealth and self-indulgence he sees as dooming the society even as he's an artistic prophet who can see the fall caused by such behavior. In that sense, the song is a call from the depths of his soul to save himself as well as the society.

Read it all here. And here it is, the classic rendition:

Here's U2's arrangement from Rattle and Hum, which is based on classic Hendrix arrangement - an arrangement that Dylan also later adopted:

And here's Bruce Springsteen and Neil Young performing the song in 2004:

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Tonight at the Cafe: Shelter From the Storm

Breaking News: St. Andrew's Mt. Pleasant in the Diocese of South Carolina begins discernment on separating from The Episcopal Church

StandFirm has the story. Check it out here. Stay tuned for updates.

Here is the letter that was "signed by every one of the church's senior wardens going back to 1989," reports SF. St. Andrew's rector, Steve Wood, was one of the original candidates for Bishop of South Carolina and a deputy at the General Convention this summer in Anaheim. The letter reads:
To our Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ at St. Andrew’s:

For many years now, the clergy and lay leadership of St. Andrew’s Church have wrestled with the increasing tension between St. Andrew’s and The Episcopal Church caused by the decisions of The Episcopal Church to "walk apart" from both the biblical faith and the Anglican Communion. Throughout this time we have sought the Lord desiring to be prayerful and graceful in our response to the challenges presented to us by the actions of The Episcopal Church. And so in the late 1990’s we began a process of differentiation in which we took steps that have included the cessation of funding for the national church, and, more recently recognizing that we are in a state of broken communion with The Episcopal Church. The Vestry has continually sought to discern the Lord’s will for our place within the Anglican Communion, as well as our expressed relationship to The Episcopal Church. Twice in August the Vestry met for prayer, confession, repentance and conversation about this matter. The conclusion of this long, prayerful process is the unanimous sense that the entire parish of St. Andrew’s, Mt. Pleasant be invited into an intentional, parish-wide discernment process called, "40 Days of Discernment." Joining the Vestry in this invitation are the Staff and former Senior Wardens of the parish dating back to 1989.

What is the problem? The most fundamental issue in conflict within The Episcopal Church is the gospel message itself. St. Paul spoke repeatedly of faithfully passing on that which he received. Great care was taken to ensure that the gospel message would be entrusted to those who would not add to nor subtract from The Story. In the three most recent General Conventions of The Episcopal Church (2003, 2006, 2009) the gospel message of a loving Father who seeks to draw all people unto Himself through the cross of His Son has been replaced. Offered instead is a therapeutic gospel which refuses to acknowledge the falleness of our nature and our deep need for spiritual and moral transformation. While this gospel appears kind in its inclusivity, it nevertheless leaves us unchanged and enslaved to our sins and is therefore unspeakably cruel.

Addressing the actions of The Episcopal Church Bishop Mark Lawrence spoke about the "core doctrines of our faith being systematically deconstructed." He went onto say that "we face a multitude of false teachings" and specifically noted the deconstruction of the doctrines of The Trinity, The Uniqueness of Christ, the matter of scriptural authority and our baptismal theology. What has become abundantly clear is that we now have two entirely different religions trying to exist under the same name. Sadly, The Episcopal Church consistently revealed at General Convention no longer remotely resembles The Episcopal Church some of us once knew and cherished. And, the contentiousness within The Episcopal Church over these matters has deeply wounded our gospel witness confusing many who seek a living, vital, personal relationship with the Living God.
Read it all here.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

N.T. Wright and the ACI: General Convention constituted a provisional rejection of the Anglican Covenant

N.T. Wright and the three ACI guys have joined forces and released an in-depth paper that reveals the truth we saw at General Convention. Unless Bishop Schori is about to reinvent the common English language usage we now use with some sort of new metaphorical definitions to suit the latest fads, there is no way that The Episcopal Church will ever sign off on the Anglican Covenant. Bishop Wright, Ephraim Radner, Chris Seitz, and Phil Turner write, "the actions of General Convention repudiating the teaching of the Communion on human sexuality can only be seen as the repudiation of the Covenant itself."

The paper goes on to make the case that:
  • There is a substantial and well-developed body of Anglican thought utilized in expressing the commitments in the Covenant text. This body of precedent includes the articulation of several foundational concepts used in the Covenant, including “shared discernment,” “accountability,” “autonomy,” and the comprehensive term “Communion with autonomy and accountability.”
  • There are specific commitments in the first three sections of the Anglican Covenant and show that they require (i) that there be Communion-wide decisions (“shared discernment”) on issues affecting the unity of the Communion and (ii) that all covenanting churches then recognize the decision reached by the Communion’s shared discernment.
  • There is discernment of the Communion on the issue of human sexuality is unequivocal. All four Instruments of Communion have spoken with one voice for over a decade, both in terms of general teaching and through specific recommendations.
They go on to make the case that while the first three sections "introduce meaningful consequences into the Covenant" and "profound consequences are already entailed by the first three sections," they conclude that "a robust Section 4 is necessary in order to provide agreed procedures that all churches can trust. Without effective procedures in Section 4, others will emerge but they will not be ones that have been accepted in advance by all."

The response has been swift from our friends across the Potomac, inferring that resistance to the New Thing God is Doing is futile. Jim Naughton at The Other Cafe for the Episcopal Diocese of Washington calls one of the great theologians of our day a "shrinking violet," while complaining that anyone who disagrees with the New Thing God is Doing (including the Archbishop of Canterbury himself) is working "to make the Communion safe for the most vicious sort of anti-gay bigots." Now who would that be? He also complains that those who disagree with the actions of The Episcopal Church are "clumsy and transparently self-aggrandizing."

Instead of taking on the content of the paper, this is what happens. Individuals are attacked personally and called vicious names. This pattern is what made so many of us wary during the recent Smile Offensive at General Convention. Those With Whom We Disagree were far too nice. It was all joy and Happy Feet. There is no way one can spit out this type of language and then go around telling people how wonderful they are and oh, by the way, "here's my business card, let's do lunch." It was so Umbridgean and disingenuous and Jim's frustrated rhetoric provides us insight into the reality on the ground.

The Episcopal Church is in a Level Five conflict. It's not getting better, it's getting worse. We continue on this trajectory and the entire communion is affected. The best thing would be for The Episcopal Church to withdraw for a time certain, work through their theological issues, and then come back. Perhaps in that time, the rest of the communion will have worked through and discovered that yes, God is Doing A New Thing and glory hallelujah. Or not. Then The Episcopal Church can decide whether or not it belongs in the Anglican Communion.

Read N.T. Wright and CSI's paper here.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Saturday Night at the Cafe: You are my Hiding Place

A long distance dedication. Have courage, have confidence, for as the Lord told Paul,"My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness."

Friday, September 04, 2009

Friday Night at the Cafe: I am ready for the storm

Bishop Schori's office concedes seven Episcopal diocesan bishops are meeting directly with the Archbishop of Canterbury

And names names. From here:

Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams held a private meeting September 2 with seven Episcopal Church bishops at Lambeth Palace, his London residence.

The bishops attending the meeting were Mark Lawrence of South Carolina, Gary Lillibridge of West Texas, Edward Little of Northern Indiana, Bill Love of Albany, Michael Smith of North Dakota, James Stanton of Dallas, and Bruce MacPherson of Western Louisiana.

A spokesperson in the Lambeth Palace press office confirmed that Williams had hosted the seven Episcopal bishops, but said that the meeting was private.

When asked for his reflections on the meeting, MacPherson told ENS that the bishops will have "something forthcoming soon."

The seven bishops are all signatories to the Anaheim Statement that reaffirms their commitment to requests from Anglican Communion leaders to the Episcopal Church for moratoria on the blessing of same-sex unions, the ordination of openly gay persons to the episcopate, and cross-border interventions.

The statement, so-called because it was released in Anaheim on July 16 as General Convention was drawing to a close, said that while some bishops tried to modify the wording of some of the convention's actions, "it is apparent that a substantial majority of this convention believes that the Episcopal Church should move forward on matters of human sexuality."

"We recognize this reality and understand the clarity with which the majority has expressed itself," the bishops said. "We are grateful for those who have reached out to the minority, affirming our place in the church."

The signers said they were committed to membership in the communion and to the doctrine, discipline and worship of the Episcopal Church.

The bishops who met with Williams also account for half of the Episcopal Church bishops who are members of the Communion Partners, which describes itself as a "relational fellowship" of primates, bishops and clergy who are committed to the unity of the church but also support the moratoria and the idea of an Anglican covenant, a set of principles intended to bind the Anglican Communion. Such a covenant has been proposed and a final draft has yet to be produced.

The Communion Partners have said that individual dioceses could sign onto a covenant whether or not the General Convention agreed to do so.

On July 27, Williams offered some reflections on General Convention and in particular the passage of two resolutions (D025 and C056) that focused on issues of human sexuality and the Episcopal Church's commitment to the Anglican Communion.

Resolution D025 affirms "that God has called and may call" gay and lesbian people "to any ordained ministry in the Episcopal Church." Resolution C056 calls for the collection and development of theological resources for the blessing of same-gender blessings and allows bishops to provide "a generous pastoral response to meet the needs of members of this church."

In his 26-part reflection, Williams, who was present for the first two days of the July 8-17 meeting in Anaheim, California, wrote that "a realistic assessment of what convention has resolved does not suggest that it will repair the broken bridges into the life of other Anglican provinces; very serious anxieties have already been expressed."

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Do you hear what I hear?

RWB is reporting (after discovering it was posted by a German retailer) the track list for Bob Dylan's Christmas album - and it's a doozy:
1. Here Comes Santa Claus
2. Do You Hear What I Hear?

3. Winter Wonderland

4. Hark The Herald Angels Sing

5. I’ll Be Home For Christmas

6. Little Drummer Boy

7. The Christmas Blues

8. O’ Come All Ye Faithful (Adeste Fideles)
9. Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas 10. Must Be Santa 11. Silver Bells
12. The First Noel

13. Christmas Island

14. The Christmas Song

15. O’ Little Town Of Bethlehem
We have a couple of Santa songs, but they are drowned out by the Christian ones. And yes, RWB, I agree - it is worth the price of the entire album to experience Bob Dylan singing, Do You Hear What I Hear?

While we await Dylan's version, here's Bing Crosby's rendition of the classic: