Saturday, July 31, 2010

Anne Rice posts on Facebook

Anne Rice posts on Facebook:

July 27: For those who care, and I understand if you don't: Today I quit being a Christian. I'm out. I remain committed to Christ as always but not to being "Christian" or to being part of Christianity. It's simply impossible for me to "belong" to this quarrelsome, hostile, disputatious, and deservedly infamous group. For ten ...years, I've tried. I've failed. I'm an outsider. My conscience will allow nothing else.

July 27: I quit being a Christian. I'm out. In the name of Christ, I refuse to be anti-gay. I refuse to be anti-feminist. I refuse to be anti-artificial birth control. I refuse to be anti-Democrat. I refuse to be anti-secular humanism. I refuse to be anti-science. I refuse to be anti-life. In the name of ...Christ, I quit Christianity and being Christian. Amen.

July 28: My faith in Christ is central to my life. My conversion from a pessimistic atheist lost in a world I didn't understand, to an optimistic believer in a universe created and sustained by a loving God is crucial to me. But following Christ does not mean following His followers. Christ is infinitely more important than C...hristianity and always will be, no matter what Christianity is, has been, or might become.
She writes today:
My posts about quitting Christianity have brought in a lot of mail. Most of it is positive; a small amount is negative. But one thing is clear: people care passionately about belief. They care about living lives of meaning and significance. And that is a beautiful and reassuring thing. I'll have more on the  subject in... the future.
 One of the scariest books I've ever read was Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice.  Therefore I was astonished when she became a follower of Christ (much of it influenced by N.T. Wrights writings, by the way) and rejoined the Roman Catholic Church.  Now she has stepped away from Catholicism and it appears, organized Christian religion in general, though she continues to post excellent scriptures on her Facebook page.  She apparently is a liberal Democrat and cannot reconcile her personal political beliefs with the Christianity she sees in the Roman Catholic Church and other organized Christian faith groups.  

As Kerouac might say, she's on the road.

It is clear that Anne Rice has been let down and let down in a big way.  Before we dismiss her outright for flipping theologically and morally out, it may be important to pause and consider - and consider seriously - why does she feel let down?  Why does she write, "Following Christ does not mean following His followers?"

It is fairly simple to move away from Jesus being Lord to the Church being lord.  It can happen in the most organized of ways and it can happen in quite subtle ways.  It can happen very quickly.  The first two commandments are doozies, no other gods but God - and no substitutes either.  To swap the Church (and that means the followers of Jesus) for Jesus Himself spells disaster.  It spells not only some of greatest catastrophes in history, but also personal disillusionment and the loss of faith.  I think of Christopher Hitchens.  

Many more are walking wounded.

What I hear in Anne Rice's lament is her bewilderment at the lack of love in caring for those on the margins of our society.  While I disagree with the political methods of progressive innovations, it cannot be said that the Church (Roman, Anglican, Orthodox, Protestant) is a stellar witness of radical hospitality for those left smashed one way or the other.  The progressive view has been basically to give the world bread and circuses, to give the brokenhearted what they want and, perhaps with the best of intentions, call it all good.  However, even Dylan calls that one on the carpet in a recent composition, It's All Good.  It seems like the nice thing to do - to give people what they think will make them happy and certainly Anne Rice has embraced that view.  If everyone would just be nicer, it wouldn't be so hard to be a Christian.

But on the other hand, she does make a point.  "Christians" are suffering from more than just a PR crisis that hiring a flak will cure.  There is actually a problem and it's a big one.  We can't simply point at someone else and say it's your fault.  The fault lies no where else except at our own personal feet.

Jesus summed up the Law of Moses in two commandments - Love God and Love your neighbor.  Loving God  means making God first in our life and that has a radical impact on our lifestyle - it is a searing of the heart.  

And then, just in case we think it's all just about "me and God," Jesus reminds us of the second most important point - to love our neighbor and what does that really mean?  Does it mean giving people what they want?  Perhaps sometimes.  Even God gives us what we want sometimes and calls it free will - but He doesn't leave us there.

I am reminded of Jesus at the well - there in the middle of the day when the woman of less than stellar reputation comes to get water and Jesus asks her to get him a drink.  What a moment.  What an extraordinary moment.  He does tell her the truth - the very hard truth.  But how he does it - how she is set free and not condemned completely and radically changes her life that she becomes for all intensive purposed the first Christian evangelist.

Here is a modern interpretation of the woman at the well:

Perhaps we should just pause there for a moment. 

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Anglican Communion Standing Committee tightens control over communications through "officially sanctioned networks" of political-advocacy groups

With Ian Douglas proclaiming that the credibility-challenged new group called the Anglican Communion Standing Committee "has pursued a course of transparency and open communication," at the same time 815 is happily reporting that "Throughout the five days of closed sessions, the 14 committee members heard about efforts to improve communication across the Anglican Communion's officially sanctioned networks. With its networks, the ACC recognizes groups of Anglicans who want to organize formally around a ministry or issue and monitors their efforts."

In five days there have been only two "official" daily reports and those "reports" raised more questions than answers (there's been no disclosure to the finances for example).  In this happy report from The Episcopal Church (while there is no report from the Anglican Communion Office yet of yesterday's activities), 815 says that while there was a "course of transparency and open communication," the meetings themselves were "five days of closed sessions."

And to make matters worse, we suddenly learn that the only way one can "communicate" if one is an Anglican in the mind of this little group (a group that has seen recent resignations of members representing that overwhelming majority of Anglicans worldwide), is that it must be through something called the  "officially sanctioned networks."  What is up with that? What happened to Provinces in the Anglican Communion? No, now it's these self-appointed "networks" that are "officially sanctioned" that revolve around American-style political advocacy groups.  And this Standing Committee is going to "monitor" these efforts?  What does that mean?

So much for dioceses and provinces - in this American-style political activism model we see a major (and progressive dominated) realignment of the historic understanding of the polity of Anglican Christians around the world - namely, the organization of local parishes around a bishop.

THURSDAY UPDATE: From the Anglican News Service "report" of Day 4:
As agreed, the Committee revisited Saturday's discussion. Dato' Stanley Isaacs delivered a frank and passionate presentation about the distress felt by some parts of the Communion about The Episcopal Church's decision to breach one of the moratoria. He concluded by proposing that rights to participate in discussions of matters of faith and order at the Standing Committee and the ACC be withdrawn from The Episcopal Church.
In the subsequent discussion Archbishop Philip Aspinall reiterated that the Standing Committee did not have the power to undertake such an action. He reminded the Committee that the Covenant had been drawn up to address just these kinds of points of disagreement. It was also stated that the Standing Committee did not have all the powers of the ACC, especially when it came to the Membership Schedule.
Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori questioned why the proposal was singling out The Episcopal Church. Bishop Ian Douglas stressed he was present in his role as an elected representative of the ACC, not a member of The Episcopal Church and he desired to always be responsible to the Council. He thanked Dato' Stanley Isaacs for attending the Standing Committee meeting despite his [Isaacs'] feelings about recent events in the Communion. He said that having other elected representatives present who represented a genuine segment of the ACC helped him [Bp Douglas] to be a better member. He added that he missed having Bp Azad's voice at the meeting.
Dr Tony Fitchett agreed that the Committee needed as full a range of views as possible. "I'm conscious I'm not here representing my province," he said. "I'm here because I was appointed by the ACC. My accountability is not to my Province. I expect to continue to serve on the [Standing Committee] even if my Province were ever to be unacceptable to other churches because of its actions."
After what Canon Elizabeth Paver described as "the time, prayer and space necessary for everyone to be heard on this matter" the Standing Committee agreed a resolution that it: "regrets ongoing breaches of the three moratoria that continue to strain the life of the Anglican Communion; regrets the consequential resignations of members of the Standing Committee which diminish our common life and work on behalf of the ACC and the Primates' Meeting; recognises that the ACC and the Primates' Meeting are the appropriate bodies to consider these matters further."
BB NOTE: No wonder so many have resigned from this self-appointed "standing committee."  It's just a farce.  Note too that Rowan Williams is not quoted.  Pay attention to that.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

AnglicanTV interviews ACNA Archbishop

Following the CANA Council this past weekend, AnglicanTV interivews Archbishop Bob Duncan of the Anglican Church in North America:

Monday, July 26, 2010

Day Two of Anglican Communion "Standing Committee" meetings in London

The appeal to naivete is overwhelming - is anyone fooled?  Nope.

One hopes that someone, somewhere understands that "dialogue" and "conversation" are actually strategic methods of wearing down opposition.

The leadership of the Episcopal Church, practiced by decades of political activism, are experts at it and it just never ceases to amaze me how easily manipulated the so-called "structures" of the Anglican Communion are to this type of strategic maneuvering.  We recall that after the Presiding Bishop returned from the Primates Meeting in Tanzania a few years ago, she spelled it out quite plainly to her staff (which was recorded and later removed from the TEC website) exactly what the strategy would be.  TEC would keep dialoguing until all the opposition had either retired or thrown up their hands and gone home. 

Hearing today's news from the so-called "Standing Committee" meeting in London - not apparently accountable to anyone (and hence why so many people have resigned from it!) - that the Episcopal Church will continue to dominate the structures (it's been years now since the primates have actually met) with no discipline what-so-ever and the reason given is so that "dialogue" will continue.  It's such a joke - there is no such thing as dialogue (that would mean there is an openness to the distinct possibility that TEC has careened off the rails and is running ripshod over the landscape, intending to take everyone with them) - "dialogue" is a METHOD for wearing down opposition.

Here's the scoop from today's "meeting" in London:
  • Committee decides separation would inhibit dialogue.
  • UN Anglican Observer: "Our Anglican witness is becoming visible."
  • ACC "proper body" to consider Primates' request for eight Standing Committee members 
The "report" goes on:
ACC consultant Robert Fordham and ACO Director for Finance and Administration Andrew Franklin introduced the Report and Financial Statements for the year ended 31 December 2009. The Committee subsequently agreed to adopt the report.
Yikes - they don't even "report" what the "report" said - and it does make one wonder. Since the meetings are "closed" who has any clue what they are doing? They might as well just order pizza and catch the cab to Heathrow.

But wait, there's more! Patterson - the man who WON'T GO AWAY is now BACK!
Canon Kearon then reported that during his visit to New Zealand earlier this year he had met with an informal group about the planning of ACC-15. Bishop John Paterson has been selected to Chair an official planning group and the venue has been selected as Holy Trinity Cathedral in Auckland. The group also identified the strong mission theme of ACC-14 as something they would like to continue.
Note that he met with an "informal" group (what did he do, ring up a few mates to meet for beer and chips?) that went on to plan the entire next meeting of the ACC?  Who is writing this stuff?

Naturally, the one province that is as progressive - at least if not more - as TEC (have you seen their prayer book??) will host the next ACC meeting.  And while they're at it, as they reach for more chips and dip and scribble notes on the napkins, let's be sure it's as far away as possible, say - not only a different time zone, but a completely different date zone.  Yes!  And how much is this all going to cost?  Oh, who knows - because there's no public report on the finances.  Can it get any worse?

Even Kenneth Kearon is seeing the writing on the wall, "noting that the credibility of the Primates' Meeting and the ACC was being openly questioned by some and this criticism was increasingly focused on the Standing Committee itself."  But guess what the rest of the "committee" says?  Tough Doo Doo, folks, with Elizabeth Paver defending their sinking ratings by saying "the Committee needed to respond to criticisms positively and robustly," and then pointed out the flak that has just been hired to carry the shovel.

Rowan Williams gets two thumbs up for trying.  He is reported to have warned, excuse me "questioned" the "committee" by asking (a nice rhetorical method) "whether the ACC's committee structure was appropriate for this new century?"  Bingo, your Grace!  You are absolutely right.  But guess what - the Standing Committee responded by putting together a little self-appointed insiders group of their own members to type up "a strategic review and planning process relating to ACC membership and meetings and Standing Committee structure and operation."  Who's on this little inside group?  Who knows?  Pass the pizza!

Read the "report" for yourself. In the meantime, the cafe is offering a little musical interlude for your listening pleasure:

UPDATE: Anglican Curmudgeon has weighed in his opinions here, particularly on some of the "legal" decisions. If communications are truly an issue, this will be a good place to begin to disipher why confidence is waning in this particular group:
Who is really running this show? There is no question that the Primates are gradually bringing their weight to bear against the structure of the ACC, using as a lever the change in its status from a public charity to a private limited company, as detailed in this post. Nevertheless, to understand what is really going on, one has to go a little behind the scenes. For it must be said: both the "Standing Committee" and its legal adviser, the (honorary) Canon John Rees, have lost a good deal of their credibility as a result of the seating of the Rt. Rev. Ian Douglas as one of its members.

At Jamaica in May 2009, it was Canon Rees and the (then) Joint Standing Committee who, meeting a day in advance of the start of ACC-14 itself, declared that they had ruled that the Rev. J. Philip Ashey was not "qualified" to serve as an alternate representative of the Province of Uganda, because although canonically resident in Uganda, he was physically resident in the United States, and thus was violating the moratorium against border-crossing. Sources informed us at the time that the Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori argued vehemently against allowing him to be seated, and her views prevailed in the Committee.

After one of the sessions at ACC-14, Canon Rees participated in a press conference, where he gave some background to the impending constitutional changes for the ACC, and answered questions from the floor. There is an .mp3 file of the session which may be listened to or downloaded from this page. The first question addressed to Canon Rees had to do with the interpretation which the JSC had given to the word "qualified" so as to refuse to seat the Rev. Ashey, and he was asked whether anything would be different under the new constitutional structure.

If you listen to his response (beginning at about 07:30), you will hear Canon Rees first point out that the same language about a "qualified" representative appears in the new articles. He goes on to say that nothing in the new provisions should cause any change in the interpretation of the word "qualified":

The Joint Standing Committee, meeting and making that decision, if it were faced with the same decision again, I would imagine would approach it on the same sort of basis: and the basis, the underlying basis, must be that . . . as charity trustees, they have an overriding duty to see that the overall purposes of the charity are sustained, and so if a decision is being made which appeared to be undermining the arrangements for the charity generally, then I would expect them to approach it the same way on another occasion.

Except that, this time, in the case of Bishop Douglas, who is in continuing violation of the moratorium against allowing same-sex blessings in his diocese, Canon Rees advised the Committee that it could seat him, nonetheless. One sees clearly by this decision who controls the "Standing Committee", and just whom Canon Rees is really serving with his "advice."

To claim that seating a representative who was engaged in "border-crossing" would undermine "the arrangements for the [ACC] generally," thereby triggering the duty of the Trustee-Members to take action to prevent it, while now seating, as one of the very Trustee-Members of the ACC, a representative who sanctions the blessing of same-sex unions by the clergy under his pastoral directions, is another of those hypocritical acts which is the hallmark of those who lean to the left. In their mind, there is no hypocrisy. For in the first instance, the Committee acted to block a representative who was inimical to the views of its majority, while in the second instance, it upheld the status of one who espouses those views.

Costly flaks aren't going to fix this.  Read it all here.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

A picture paints a thousand words

Take out the Fiddles? Anglican Communion "Standing Committee" meets in London

Seeing the list of what the "Standing Committee" did yesterday, it's no wonder there have been so many resignations of primates and bishops from that group:
  • New ACC Articles of Association now replace the old unincorporated Constitution.
  • Canon Janet Trisk confirmed as the replacement to Ms Nomfundo Walaza.
  • Bp Ian Douglas continues to serve on Standing Committee
  • Representative elected to fill vacancy.
  • Committee agrees its official name is “The Standing Committee”.

We'll stay tuned to see if this is a Kick the Can Committee - sounds like they spent a lot of time on their name and no time - at least not yet - of addressing the fact that Communion is in crisis. But the meeting is not over yet.


Watch live streaming video from anglicantv at

The LiveStream from AnglicanTV should go live around 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, July 24th.

10:20 a.m. The Ordinations and Eucharist service has begun. Archbishop Bob Duncan will be speaking.

Friday, July 23, 2010

New Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion begins meetings in London

The Anglican Communion Office has posted an interesting Q&A - but the main news is no news:
Q.     Several people recently resigned from the Committee. How will that affect this next meeting?
It is unfortunate that the Committee will not have the benefit of their experience and input. The Standing Committee will discuss membership issues at its meeting.
Q. Haven’t there been some questions raised about recent appointments to the Standing Committee.
There have and these have been noted and will be discussed at the next Standing Committee meeting.
This so-called "Q&A" doesn't even address WHY they resigned, just answered in a high-brow tone, "it is unfortunate ..."  At least we know that it's apparently on the agenda.  This is the area that we will be watching as well, including TEC's position on the committee following the in-your-face consecration  in California by the Presiding Bishop.

CANA Council continues in ministry and mission

The air may be steaming hot outside, but inside the Church of Epiphany in Herndon it is warm and welcoming as the annual council of the Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA) gather for three days in Virginia.  The focus this year is overwhelmingly on mission, the planting of churches, the launching of new dioceses in the Anglican Church in North America, and building bridges within the Anglican community.

Bishop Martyn Minns gave the Pastoral Call for 2010, spending the majority of the address focusing on mission and ministry for the local parishes and encouraging the pastoral and lay leaders to recognize that doing church is not about keeping things the way they've always been, but reaching out to those on the margins as well as deepening the community of worship.

He also gave a report on recent developments on the global realignment of the Anglican Communion, recent gatherings of the Global South leadership, as well as the election of a new primate in Nigeria following the retirement of Archbishop Peter Akinola.

Seeing lots of old friends - these gatherings are like family reunions, where we just pick up where we last left off (whether friends are near or far) and making new friends as well.  Right now I am listening to a presentation on the Alpha Course.  The presentation started off with a clip from the television series Everybody Loves Raymond where the characters humorously discuss God and the meaning of life.

Some of the seminars offered this afternoon include "Church Planting and Anglican 1000" (which explores the vision of the ACNA to plant 1000 churches in the next five years - there are many chaplains and church planters in CANA), "The Advent of World Christianity Today," "Islam: The Challenge to Christianity Today," "National Fatherhood Initiative: Helping Dads be Dads," and "Christian Mission for Post Moderns," which I hope to attend.  It is meeting across the street at a small restaurant for a "Speakeasy" session.

Tonight is the Trinity School for Ministry Dinner.  Tomorrow is actually the one legislation session - and it lasts ONLY ONE HOUR!

It will be followed by a Festival Eucharist and ordinations with Archbishop Bob Duncan as the preacher.

Here is a short clip from the workshop on the Alpha Course with a presentation by Derek Rust:

Pictured: The Rt. Rev'd John Guernsey, Bishop of the Diocese of the Holy Spirit, ACNA, Jim Oakes, Chairman of the Anglican District of Virginia, the Rt. Rev'd Martyn Minns, Bishop of CANA; The Rev'd Pamela Meeks, Potomac Falls Church; Craig Cole, Executive Director, Five Talents.

LIVE BLOGGING FROM THE SPEAKEASY - I'm here at the Restaurant San Vito with about twenty others for what is called a "speakeasy" - a "postmodern" way of coming together for a talk and discussion. Dr. Darrel Whiteman of The Mission Society will be speaking followed by what is hoped to be a "robust" discussion.

The first thing we are asked to do is fill out a questionnaire. It asks questions that we should "agree" or "disagree" like:

1. Interpreting is more important than knowing.
2. It was impossible for the O.J. Simspon jury to be objective.
3. Perception is reality.
4. Classical music is the finest music ever composed.
5. I prepare "appropriate" to "right" and "inappropriate" to "wrong."
6. We need to "celebrate the differences" in people.
7. I'm optimistic about social progress.
8. It's possible to know the truth.

Twenty two questions all together. It's from the author of A Primer on Post Modernism, who has now passed away (I'll will look up his name later). The question is, how postmodern are we?

I got 19 "points" - about to find out what that means ... well I got the highest score in the group, not sure what that means yet.

It you have 12 or more, we're told by Dr. Whiteman, you are post-modern.

Fascinating. How did that happen?

We are encountering a post-modern crisis - some see it as a threat, some see it as an opportunity. The systematic theologians fall in the lower range, while those doing Christian education scored higher.

How do we connect with post-modern people? Dr. Whiteman has just handed out another handout called "Ten Rules for Reaching Postmodern People."

Yes, the robust discussion is underway!! COOL!!!!!

Characteristics of the postmodern generation:

1. Craving relationship
2. Pluralism
3. Fragmented lives
4. Rejecting authority
5. The "whatever" ideology
6. Rejecting empiricism
7. Rejecting rationalism
8. Realtivism
9. Spiritually needy

We're talking about #3 - fragmented lives.  I was thinking that there has been this idea of people compartmentalizing their lives and that seems to be deteriorating.  Is that a bad thing?

This is AWESOME!!! I am getting more out of this gathering - well, then so many gatherings I've been in lately. SIGN ME UP!

Now we are going to talk about Ten Ways to Reach Postmodern People

We are now discussing hospitality, how to be inviting, welcoming, non-judgmental, inclusive people. The discussion once again is getting very robust again.

Can we be non-judgmental? Can we be inclusive? There is a lively discussion now underway - including why Alpha is such a great way to reach postmoderns, which apparently I am.  Who new?

Dr Whitestone is going a great job in this environment - here in a restaurant, some people are hanging over the railing.

"Tolerate uncertainty, doubt, immaturity and an exploratory spirit.  Work to build community.  Allow people to belong before they believe."  This is also sparking some great conversation.

Can we tolerate uncertainty, the exploratory spirit?    We are talking about two kinds of truth - not in opposition to each other, one relational, one propositional.

"The lack of diversity is not unity, the lack of diversity is uniformity."  This is so true!!  The "diversity of Babel is redeemed in Pentecost," Dr. Whiteman is saying.  God is also in community with Himself in the Trinity, in diversity.  Question - how diverse are our churches?

Discussion once again underway!  We are God's witnesses, not God's lawyers.

It's interesting, people here are getting very thoughtful, contemplative as we wrestle with these question, especially as we consider how we respond to our postmodern culture.  Jesus melts irony into meaning.  Crisis is either a threat or an opportunity, and this should be an opportunity.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Annual CANA Council opens

LIVE from the Annual Council for the Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA).  We're back in Herndon, Virginia this year at Church of the Epiphany for the gathering of churches that are affiliated with CANA, now enjoying dual citizenship in both the Anglican Church in North American (ACNA) and the Church of Nigeria Anglican Communion.  The new primate of all Nigeria - the largest province in the Anglican Communion - Nicholas Okoh is here and Archbishop Bob Duncan of the ACNA will also be here.

Among the resolutions that will be up before council include two creating new dioceses coming from CANA and into the ACNA, the Anglican Diocese of the Great Lakes and the Anglican Diocese of the South.  Work is now underway for the Anglican District of Virginia (ADV) to join the ACNA as a diocese as well - the ADV meets in Synod later in the fall.

Another resolution gives thanks for "Anglican 1000," a vision to plan 1,000 new Anglican Churches across North America in the next five years and gives thanks to God for the vision and leadership of Archbishop Bob Duncan and Canon David Roseberry, who chairs the 1000 Steering Committee.  "This Council expresses its full support for the ministry of Anglican 1000 and encourages the congregations and clergy under CANA's jurisdiction to pray and plan for their own participation in this exciting work of God," the resolution reads.

The Council will hear reports on both the the Anglican Church in North America as well as the Church of Nigeria. Later this afternoon, Bishop Martyn Minns will be giving a talk on "Dual Citizenship in the ACNA and Church of Nigeria: As a congregation or cleric in the jurisdiction of CANA, you have two passports for the ACNA and the Church of Nigeria."

In addition there are workshops on "What Christianity Becomes a Mile Wide and an Inch Deep," "Key Legal & HR Policies for Congregations 101," "ESL and Cross-cultural Evangelism 101," "80% of Christian Teens Become Unchurched," "Dr. Seuss' Lessons About Life and Unemployment," and "Anglican Action."

And that's just for Thursday.  More workshops are offered tomorrow!

AFTERNOON UPDATE: Blogging live from the session on Dual Citizenship.  Bishop Minns and the Primate of All Nigeria,  Archbishop Nicholas Okoh, are making the presentations.  The Bible does not know about the "Lone Ranger Christian" which is more of a mark of our post-modern world, Bishop Minns tells the CANA delegates and clergy assembled.

Among those here in the room are the deans of both Trinity School for Ministry and Nashotah House who are listening intently as well.

Bishop Minns is now giving a short history on how CANA was founded.  Nigeria is not interested in setting up a beachhead in the North America but to provide a covering for orthodox Anglicans in this country.  The challenge was for Anglicans not to fragment but remain together and over time. Reluctantly the Church of Nigeria recognized that a new province should be established and was the first province to recognize the ACNA.

The ACNA is not officially recognized by the Archbishop of Canterbury and the ACC, it is recognized by nearly half of the provinces in the Anglican Communion.

Is it possible for people to be fully engaged in the United STates and yet maintain a canonical connection to the Church of Nigeria during this transition?  Yes, it is possible to keep that dual citizenship, Bishop Minns said.  He gives as his illustration that he carries two passports - the passport of the country of his birth, England, and several years ago he became an American citizen and carries an American passport.  Bishop Minns is in both the House of Bishops of Nigeria and the College of Bishops in the ACNA.

While some Nigerian-born clergy in CANA want to retain dual citizenship, the dioceses that are being established in the ACNA will have citizenship in the ACNA. The individual churches in those dioceses can, if they wish, retain their membership in CANA if they wish.  Once there is recognition of the ACNA, the Church of Nigeria will look again at CANA's dual citizenship.

"Walk patiently, eventually we will arrive," says Archbishop Okoh regarding recognition of the ACNA by the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Monday at the Cafe

U2 speaks!

News from U2 after the sudden cancellation of the U.S. Summer Tour and the emergency hospitalization of their lead singer, Bono - here you go!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

ACC membership rules ‘are discretionary’ says official as legal investigation is underway

An excerpt from the Church of England Newspaper via email:

OBSERVANCE of the Anglican Consultative Council’s bylaws are discretionary, a spokesman for the organisation tells The Church of England Newspaper, when they are inconsistent with its political agenda.

ACC spokesman Jan Butter told CEN the future membership rules of the organisation which seek to promote gender parity take precedence over its existing rules.

However, the Archbishop of Canterbury’s press spokesman tells The Church of England Newspaper, the ACC staff’s views are not the final word on the mat- ter, as the appointment of Bishop Ian Douglas and Canon Janet Trisk to the ACC Standing Com- mittee are under legal review.

Weakened by charges of mismanagement following ACC-14 in Jamaica, the credibility and moral integrity of the ACC Standing Committee is now being questioned over the propriety of seating two members whom critics charge are ineligible to serve.

The Anglican Communion News Service (ACNS) reported on July 2 that two new members of the Standing Committee would attend its July 23-27 London meeting. Bishop Paul Sarker, moderator of the Church of Bangladesh and Bishop of Dhaka would attend the meeting in place of the President Bishop of the Middle East, Dr Mouneer Anis of Egypt, who resigned in protest in February.

ACNS also reported that the Rev Canon Janet Trisk, rector of the parish of St David, Prestbury, in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, had been elected at the December Standing Committee meeting to replace resigned lay member, Ms Nomfundo Walaza of South Africa.

However, the ACC’s bylaws for- bid this appointment as Bylaw 7 states that a layperson must replace Ms Walaza. When vacancies occur, “the Standing Committee itself shall have power to appoint a member of the Council of the same order as the representative who filled the vacant place,” the bylaws state.

Asked how the appointment could be made in light of the prohibition contained in the constitution, Mr Butter told CEN the ACC was in the process of adopting new articles of incorporation as it moves from being an “unincorporated charity to becoming a limit- ed company.”

“The appointment of Canon Trisk was made under the terms of the company’s articles which are currently being registered with the Charity Commission. These articles emphasise the need to achieve balance not only between orders, but also between gender and region,” he said, adding the Standing Committee “in December came to the view that balance could best be achieved by appointing Canon Trisk.”

Asked if copies of the proposed new bylaws were available for review, the ACC responded that “discussions about the Articles are still ongoing between the legal adviser and the Charity Commission, so they are not yet available.”

Canon lawyer Mark McCall of the Anglican Communion Institute noted this “explanation does not pass muster. Whatever aspirations they may have concerning selections of new members, the Standing Committee, like the ACC itself, is required to operate within the scope of the constitution and bylaws that are in effect.”

“They cannot ignore existing rules and anticipate new provisions that may come into effect at some future point. This is in effect a concession that the appointment was ultra vires,” or unlawful, he said.

ACNS also reported that the African member of the Primates Standing Committee, Archbishop Henry Orombi of Uganda and his alternate, Archbishop Justice Akrofi of West Africa had resigned as well. A spokesman for the Archbishop of Uganda has confirmed to CEN he had resigned.

Last month the ACI voiced its objections to the continuation of Bishop Ian Douglas on the Standing Committee, noting that his consecration as Bishop of Connecticut required that he relinquish his clergy seat on the ACC, and his place on the Standing Committee.

George Conger reporting for the Church of England Newspaper. 

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

It's all not so good

Robert Roper has written a insightful essay on Mr. Dylan.  Here's an excerpt:

Bob was always chronologically a little ahead of the generation that embraced him, and now, as Baby Boomers are rounding into their ’60s and taking, some of them, their first look at the end of the road, Dylan is out there on the frontier, spying what’s to come, what’s already here.

The news is not good.  Exhaustion, confusion, and death await us.  As one of Bob’s most notable songs from the ’90s has it, “It’s not dark yet, but it’s getting there.”  Things are terrible, and not only that, they’re going to end.  In “It’s All Good,” a tune from Together Through Life (2009), Dylan shows the modern world in the throes of unremitting sin, anguish, and decay:
…widows cry, the orphans plea
Everywhere you look there’s more misery
Come along with me babe, I wish you would
You know what I’m sayin’, it’s all good
All good, I said it’s all good, all good

Cold blooded killer stomp into town
Cop car’s blinkin’, somethin’ bad goin’ down
Buildings are crumblin’ in the neighborhood
But there’s nothin’ to worry about ’cause it’s all good
It’s all good, I say it’s all good

“It’s all good” -- he doesn’t mean that, does he?  No, of course not, he means the opposite.  That silly catch-phrase, “It’s all good,” has caught his attention, and he’s turned it on its head, an old trick of his.  But even the irony is kind of tired, played out; it’s nothing like the snarling, withering irony of Highway 61 Revisited or Blonde on Blonde, albums written when Bob was a towering font of youthful attitude, in the 1960s. 
While the Baby Boomers were busy building their ordinary lives, buying vacation homes and packing their IRA’s with ready dough, then getting foreclosed on a lot of those houses and seeing a third of the value of their pensions disappear overnight, Dylan was off somewhere shaking his head, sucking an eye-tooth, pulling at that mean little moustache he wears these days.  He’s not surprised.  Bad news is to be expected.  Life is about harm, the collapse of hope; and then, at the very end, that unavoidable date with the Reaper.  Whoopee!  Thanks a lot, Bob!  We needed to hear that.
Actually, many of us did, and do.  When Dylan says it, it stays said. The credibility he enjoys is enormous among a certain demographic; he is the most honored American songwriter of our time, and by virtue of the prominence of American cultural product in the world, the most honored and influential songwriter on earth.  Among Americans and Europeans and South Americans and Russians and South Africans and Israelis and Norwegians he enjoys the status that two centuries ago was accorded the preeminent poets – he is the Keats, Shelley, and Wordsworth of our time, our Emerson, Dickinson, and Whitman, and our Auden and Neruda and Mandelstam to boot.  He has fulfilled for nearly 50 years the classic functions of the seminal poet, that is, to register his times in vivid and memorable words, and to prophesy. 

Consider a signature line, from “Ballad of a Thin Man,” 1965.  “Something is happening here, and you don’t know what it is, do you, Mr. Jones?”  There’s a lot of smirking in that lyric, a rich enjoyment at the expense of a square, but, basically, that was the question, wasn’t it, at the time?  Something was happening and he could feel it, and his young audience could also feel it, or anyway could believe that they felt it when they heard Bob Dylan singing about it.  According to R. W. Emerson, “too feeble fall the impressions of nature” upon the ordinary man or woman – being “ordinary” meaning that what we feel doesn’t quite move us to poetic speech, to words adequate to what we feel.  But the poet feels his times and his life in this real and surreal world, and he or she can describe those feelings so that the rest of us also, memorably, feel them.
About that other task of the poet, prophesying, wearing the mantle of the prophet.  That was always a comfortable fit for Bob.  Prophesying not in the sense of reading tea leaves, saying who’ll win in the third race at Hialeah, but in the biblical sense of exposing sin, identifying the failings of the people at large, lashing them with fiery words.  “Ballad of a Thin Man” is one of his earliest prophesy-songs, showing how lame and self-deluding and shameful a whole class of people is.  Other songs in the same mode – the list is long – are “Like a Rolling Stone,” “Positively 4th Street,” “All Along the Watchtower,” “Disease of Conceit,” “Only a Pawn in Their Game,” “You Gotta Serve Somebody,” “Idiot Wind.”  “You got a lotta nerve,” as Bob sings in “Positively 4th St.,” expressing thereby his basic attitude toward human corruption.  The nerve of us all, being so flawed, so inherently imperfect.  
The whole article is very good - check it out here.  Tip of the tinfoil once again to RWB!

Here is a live version of It's All Good, another "hit-it-out-of-the ballpark" composition off Dylan's latest album, Together Through Life.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Church of England says YES to Women Bishops

We here at the Cafe welcome this news. As we've seen in the Diocese of Rhode Island, traditionalists can be cared for in a compassionate manner by a woman called to be a bishop of the church.  The Bishop of Rhode Island is a good example of how it can be done well. 

From the BBC:

The Church of England's ruling synod has decided that women bishops should be created.

The synod has given minimal concessions to traditionalist Anglicans who opposed the move.

They had sought exemptions from serving under women bishops and guaranteed access to a male alternative.

But the synod decided that it would be up to the women bishops to decide the identity of any bishop coming into their dioceses.

They would also have the ability to dictate the functions these bishops could carry out.

The BBC's religious correspondent Robert Pigott said women bishops would have only to consult a code of practice guiding them in their dealings with traditionalists.

Read it all here.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

When He Returns ...

Excellent cover of Bob Dylan's When He Returns by John Lee Sanders from The Gospel Sessions.  Tip of the tinfoil to RWB, rocking as usual!

UPDATE: Ah, The Original  - here is Dylan performing When He Returns in 1980 in Toronto. The performance continues to endure all these years later. Let he who have hears let them hear. Don't believe he's changed his mind on this at all. As he continues to remind us, if you want to know what he believes in - he believes in the songs - and this is a major part of his lexicon.  An amazing performance.  He is simply amazing with his remarkable phrasing (which Sinatra held in high esteem) and unmistakable passion.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Anglican Congregations Ask Virginia Supreme Court to Reconsider a Portion of Its Church Property Ruling

via e-mail:

FAIRFAX, Va. (July 10, 2010) – The nine Anglican District of Virginia (ADV) congregations that are parties to the church property case brought by The Episcopal Church and the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia today asked the Virginia Supreme Court to reconsider a narrow, but critical portion of its ruling. Specifically, the churches asked the Court to reconsider whether CANA and ADV are branches of The Episcopal Church and Episcopal Diocese of Virginia under the governing statute.

“Today we filed a motion asking the Virginia Supreme Court to rehear a portion of its June 10 ruling that addressed whether CANA and ADV are in fact branches that divided from The Episcopal Church and Diocese of Virginia,” said ADV Chairman Jim Oakes.

“We are not challenging the Court’s legal interpretation of the relevant statute, but we are pointing out that the Court overlooked critical evidence showing that, even under that interpretation, the congregations have satisfied the statute.”

“CANA and ADV came about as a direct result of the division within the Church.  In fact, ADV in particular was established because of the desire of the orthodox Virginia churches to stick together. It has become a diverse group of churches all working together for the Gospel. Even when ADV was formed, it was not limited to churches that were affiliated with the Convocation of Anglicans in North America and also included congregations that had established a connection with the Church of Uganda,” Oakes said.

“We recognize that motions to rehear a case are not automatically granted, but we feel we have a strong case and that based on key evidence that the Court overlooked, CANA and ADV satisfy the ‘branch’ requirements of the Virginia Division Statute. We never sought these legal proceedings in the first place and look forward to the day when we can completely focus on our core mission of spreading the Good News of Christ. Ultimately, this court case is in the Lord’s hands and we will continue to welcome all who wish to worship with us regardless of the outcome,” Oakes concluded.

The Anglican District of Virginia ( is an association of Anglican congregations in Virginia.  Its members are in full communion with constituent members of the Anglican Communion through its affiliation with the Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA), a missionary branch of the Church of Nigeria and other Anglican Archbishops.  ADV members are a part of the worldwide Anglican Communion, a community of 77 million people.  ADV is dedicated to fulfilling Christ’s Great Commission to make disciples while actively serving in three main capacities: International Ministries, Evangelism, and Strengthening Families and Community.  ADV is currently comprised of 30 member congregations and six mission fellowships.

UPDATE: Anglican Curmudgeon weighs in on the brief filed with the Virginia Supreme Court by nine churches of the Anglican District of Virginia. Here's an excerpt:
The second argument of the application for rehearing concerns the Anglican District of Virginia itself, and is in my view even stronger than the one with regard to CANA. ADV, the brief points out, was not formed as a legal entity until the congregations in question had decided to follow the Protocol drawn up by the Diocese of Virginia for departing parishes. It was formed specifically as an entity to provide governance for those particular parishes, and was organized not under the Church of Nigeria, but under Virginia law. There is no requirement that its members belong to CANA, and some of them do not:
Rehearing is independently warranted because the record also forecloses the Court's branch analysis as to ADV. Unlike the Court's analysis of the statute's "church," "attached," and "division" prongs -- which considered the status of TEC and the Diocese separately -- the Court's "branch" analysis treated CANA and ADV as synonymous, overlooking critical facts establishing that ADV is a "branch" even if CANA is not. In fact, the Court's analysis of whether ADV was a "branch" consisted of one sentence: "Likewise the ADV, as a district of CANA, descends from the Church of Nigeria and CANA, not the Diocese or TEC." Op. 29. Respectfully, however, that statement cannot be squared with this record, even assuming, arguendo, that the Court properly reached a contrary conclusion as to CANA.
Once again, there was no dispute as to the underlying facts:
. . . As the Court noted, "in 2005 Bishop Lee created a new commission 'to give attention to this rising threat of division in the Diocese.'" Op. 7. In September 2006, this commission expressly recognized "the division which may cause some to 'walk apart'" (JA 3034) and "promulgated a 'Protocol for Departing Congregations'" to follow, including "procedures for congregations to conduct votes 'regarding possible departure from the Diocese.'" Op. 7.

The Congregations followed the Protocol, creating ADV days before their votes. JA 2991 (ADV articles dated 12/4/06). . . . And as ADV's articles state, ADV was incorporated as "an association of Virginia churches, together with their clergy and laity, who join together to realign traditional Anglicans in Virginia displaced by the election of The Episcopal Church to walk apart from the Anglican Communion." JA 2988 (emphasis added). ADV thus formed "as a result of the division." Op.29.

[Also], as the foregoing evidence shows, ADV is not a "pre-existing polity" that "descends from the Church of Nigeria" rather than "the Diocese." Id. ADV is separate and distinct from CANA: It is "a discrete ecclesiastical and legal structure" incorporated under "the Virginia Nonstock Corporation Act." JA 2988 (ADV articles). . . .

Nor was ADV formed by the Anglican Church of Nigeria. True, the incorporators of ADV chose to place it "provisionally . . . under the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of [CANA]" -- and thus to bring it "into full communion with the . . . constituent members of the Anglican Communion." JA 2988 (emphasis added). But ADV is legally independent and has its own board; only one sentence in ADV's articles refers to CANA; and the decision to affiliate with CANA and the Church of Nigeria was ADV's own (provisional) choice. Indeed, ADV's members include several congregations that disaffiliated from the Diocese but are not members of CANA -- further confirming that ADV is properly viewed as a descendant of the Diocese, not the Anglican Church of Nigeria. JA 2475-77 (Allison); JA 2175-77 (Minns).
The attorneys make another important point about the division statute, and the Supreme Court's interpretation of it, in an accompanying footnote:
Like others that disaffiliated from TEC but wished to remain "'a part of the worldwide [Anglican] church" (Op. 8), these congregations affiliated with another Anglican province. JA 2475-77 (Allison); JA 2175-77 (Minns). We do not read the Court's opinion to hold that the bare fact of affiliation with the Church of Nigeria disqualified CANA and ADV as "branches." If that were a proper reading of § 57-9, it would violate the First Amendment by expressly discriminating against disaffiliating congregations based on "denominational preference." Larson v. Valente, 456 U.S. 228, 244 (1982) ("one religious denomination cannot be officially preferred over another").
The brief closes by reiterating that findings based on facts that were undisputed below cannot be set aside by an appellate court:
. . . The Court's analysis turned on what it called an "erroneous" "finding." Op. 28. But any such finding was necessarily factual, and factual findings may be reversed only if "plainly wrong or without evidence to support them." Perel v. Brannan, 267 Va. 691,698, 594 S.E.2d 899, 903 (2004). That is not the case here.
Thus the application asks the Virginia Supreme Court to rehear the case in order to bring its conclusions into line with the undisputed facts as found below. At a minimum, the Court should clarify its instructions on remand to allow "for further factual findings as to whether ADV, CANA, or both are branches under the Court's new reading of § 57-9. That would be especially appropriate given that the Court's decision marks the first time in 143 years that the Court has addressed the statute's core requirements, and sets forth an analysis that the circuit court understandably had no opportunity to apply."
Read it all here. Well done, sir!


A presentation of Rutter's Pie Jesus by the Monteverdi Choir Würzburg.  

We post it and dedicate it in memory of Jennifer who passed away this morning. I will never ever be able to hear this and not think of her.  You fought the good fight, you finished the course, you kept the faith - no one, not anyone who met you will forget you or the gift you gave us all of your voice of crystal that filled our church.  The thought you now sing in the presence of the Lord - with Horace and Gary - it's simply beyond what simple words can say.  Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.

Lord, have mercy,
Lord, have mercy,
You who take away the sins of the world;
Grant them peace,
Grant them peace.

Lamb of God, Lamb of God,
Lamb of God, Lamb of God,
You who take away the sins of the world;
Grant them peace,
Grant them peace.
Peace everlasting, everlasting.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Curious, very curious ...

Yes, curious stuff is going on as Communion-watchers try to figure out this week who is and who isn't a member of the new Anglican Communion Standing Committee (formerly known as the Joint Standing Committee of the Primates and Anglican Consultative Council). 

This group is slated to meet later this month in London, but is reeling from several high profile resignations in recent weeks.  Explanations for those resignations - and some apparent non-resignations - has not been forth coming. New members seem to be popping up as quickly as former ones resign - with no explanation on how that is happening.

Dr. Steve Noll has done some sleuthing in comments over at Kendall Harmon's T19.  And he has some important questions.

First off, he compares membership of the last three meetings of this group:

May 2009 (from unpublished Minutes before ACC 14)
Abp. Rowan Williams, ex officio
PB Schori

Abp. Paterson (chair, rotated off)
Babirukamu – Uganda (rotated off)
Koshy – South India (rotated off)
Fordham – Aus Lay (rotated off)
Bp. Tengatenga – C. Africa
Paver – Eng Lay
Amable – West Africa Lay
Nomfundo Walaza – SA Lay
Bp. Illanagasinghe – Ceylon

May 2009 (from unpublished Minutes immediately after ACC 14)
Rowan Williams ex officio

Bp. Tengatenga – C. Africa
Paver – Eng Lay
Amable – West Africa Lay
Nomfundo Walaza – SA Lay
Bp. Illanagasinghe – Ceylon
Ian Douglas – TEC (rotated on)
Isaacs – SE Asia Lay (rotated on)
Fitchett – NZ Lay (rotated on)
Bp. Marshall – Iran (rotated on)

July 2010 (from the Anglican Communion website)
Rowan Williams (“President”)
Abp. Aspinall of Australia
PB Schori “of the U.S.-based Episcopal Church”
Abp. Morgan of Wales

Bp. Tengatenga
Bp Ian Douglas [formerly clergy]
Bishop Illangasinghe
*Trisk South Africa Clergy
*Bp Sarker of Bangladesh
[Bp. Marshall]

Dr. Noll then reminds us that "the SC is composed of 5 Primates chosen by the Primates’ Meeting (with Abp. of Canterbury as ex officio member). There are supposed to be nine ACC members appointed/elected by the full ACC membership."  He accepts the explanation from the Episcopal News Service about how Canon Trisk suddenly shows up on the roster:
Trisk was elected at the last Standing Committee meeting to replace Nomfundo Walaza, also from South Africa, and Sarker is the elected alternate for Middle East President Bishop Mouneer Anis, who resigned his membership in February saying that his presence has “no value whatsoever” and that his voice is “like a useless cry in the wilderness.”
Dr. Noll then asks, "by what authority did the Standing Committee elect Canon Trisk in December and by what provision does Bp. Sarker automatically succeed Bp. Mouneer?"  The minutes remain unpublished (and what's up with that????).  Never mind the minutes, even the Articles remain unpublished, so there is no way of knowing how Archbishop Orombi has suddenly disappeared off the slate (he has not officially resigned).

This group is supposed to meet July 23-27 in London - a group that includes the Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church who is now on a global press tour (gotta wonder about the the carbon footprint on that trip).  It is all quite curious, very curious indeed.

Check out Dr. Noll's complete post at T-19

Late Night at the Cafe: Charlie Patton

This is a 1930 recording of Charlie Patton (est. 1887/91-1934).  Wiki writes that he "is best known as an American Delta blues musician. He is considered by many to be the "Father of the Delta Blues" and therefore one of the oldest known figures of American popular music. He is credited with creating an enduring body of American music and personally inspiring just about every Delta blues man (Palmer, 1995). Musicologist Robert Palmer considers him among the most important musicians that America produced in the twentieth century."  He has had an enormous impact on Dylan - you can't know Dylan without knowing Charlie Patton.

Friday, July 02, 2010

Heading for the Exit: Another Anglican Archbishop resigns from the Anglican Communion Standing Committee

The Anglican Communion News Service sadly spins it - which isn't exactly inviting trust.  We know all ready that the Bishop of Iran has resigned the Anglican Communion Standing Committee.  But now we learn that the Archbishop of West Africa,  Justice Akrofi, has resigned as well.

Archbishop Akrofi studied in Ghana and in the United States at Central Connecticut State College (now a university), receiving there B.Sc. and M.Ed. degrees, and Yale, where he graduated in 1976 with a Master of Divinity degree. Later, he taught at Cape Coast University and the University of Ghana before serving as dean of the Holy Trinity Cathedral in Accra and later as Bishop of Accra since 1996. He has served as the bishop of Accra (Ghana) and Archbishop (primate) of the Church of the Province of West Africa since 2003

We also learn in the same press release that the Archbishop of Uganda, Henry Orombi, has also resigned (we knew he wasn't attending meetings, but had not heard he had actually resigned).  In fact, in April it was confirmed that he had not resigned following the resignation of the Middle East primate, Bishop Mouneer Anis.  It is clear that something is up with the resignations of four Global South bishops from the Standing Committee.

No word yet if Bishop Schori will attend, following reports that she has been requested to stay home.  The resignations do not bode well for unity within the Anglican Communion - a sign that Bishop Schori's actions in consecrating a partnered lesbian bishop for the Episcopal Church is taking its toll.