Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Introducing the Clergy Leadership Training Institute

Tonight at the Cafe: My Back Pages

Yes, it's been that kind of a year.

Crimson flames tied through my ears
Rollin’ high and mighty traps
Pounced with fire on flaming roads
Using ideas as my maps
“We’ll meet on edges, soon,” said I
Proud ’neath heated brow
Ah, but I was so much older then
I’m younger than that now

Half-wracked prejudice leaped forth
“Rip down all hate,” I screamed
Lies that life is black and white
Spoke from my skull. I dreamed
Romantic facts of musketeers
Foundationed deep, somehow
Ah, but I was so much older then
I’m younger than that now

Girls’ faces formed the forward path
From phony jealousy
To memorizing politics
Of ancient history
Flung down by corpse evangelists
Unthought of, though, somehow
Ah, but I was so much older then
I’m younger than that now

A self-ordained professor’s tongue
Too serious to fool
Spouted out that liberty
Is just equality in school
“Equality,” I spoke the word
As if a wedding vow
Ah, but I was so much older then
I’m younger than that now

In a soldier’s stance, I aimed my hand
At the mongrel dogs who teach
Fearing not that I’d become my enemy
In the instant that I preach
My pathway led by confusion boats
Mutiny from stern to bow
Ah, but I was so much older then
I’m younger than that now

Yes, my guard stood hard when abstract threats
Too noble to neglect
Deceived me into thinking
I had something to protect
Good and bad, I define these terms
Quite clear, no doubt, somehow
Ah, but I was so much older then
I’m younger than that now

B. Dylan

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Late Night at the Cafe: Dylan & Simon

Breaking the Bonds of Affection: Denver 2000 Revisited

Susan Russell, the former head of Integrity, has now publicly admitted that the the landmark resolution D039 from the Episcopal General Convention "Denver 2000" was indeed a political maneuver crafted by political organizers not to be as it was promoted at the time to be a compromise between two sides working hard to build trust and commitment, but actually to achieve long-term political results at the expense of that trust and commitment.

In a post on the late Pamela Chinnis, the former House of Deputies president who passed away this week, Susan writes on the landmark General Convention Resolution DO39, "The resolution was crafted knowing that the “8th Resolve” was going to be a bridge-too-far for this convention. And so when it came to pass in the legislative process that it was separated off and failed by a narrow margin, our strategists inwardly celebrated the victory ..."

It was in fact their intention to see the final resolve struck (which would have called for the creation of liturgies for same sex blessings) and instead lay the significant foundation for Minneapolis 2003 when the Episcopal Church took major actions to break what the Windsor Report would describe as the "bonds of affection" with the Anglican Communion, as well as within the church itself.

As we can see in this post, the "bonds of affection" were in fact broken in 2000, not 2003. I can remember conservative bishops at that time working so hard to find some way to bridge the enormous gap between the two sides and hold the church together. Who would not want to affirm that God loves all persons, but now we see it was premeditated and intentionally designed all along to be reinterpreted as an endorsement of communion-breaking actions, with the full support of the church hierarchy.

In fact, D039 led to a tremendous loss after Denver 2000 with the departure of major evangelical leadership with the formation of what would become the Anglican Mission in America (AMIA, now Anglican Mission in the Americas) and the emergency consecration of Chuck Murphy and John Rodgers by two overseas Anglican archbishops.  It was never the intention of the entrenched Episcopal leadership to ever do that theological work, which we can see now the AMiA and other global Anglican leadership recognized.

What had been hoped to be a stop-gap measure to prevent the church from splitting apart in schism, we now see in Susan's admission became the very catalyst that broke the church apart.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Next Up: Irene

Hurricane Irene from the Space Station this afternoon.

UPDATE from here:

6 p.m.: East Coast refineries likely to shut.

5:30 p.m.: Amtrak has canceled most service south of D.C. for Fri., Sat.and Sun. Most trains on the NE Corridor not yet affected.

5:23 p.m.: Pepco is contacting individual customers who need power for critical medical equipment, urging them to review their emergency plans.

5:09 p.m.: Forecasters at the National Hurricane Center have issued the first warnings for the entire North Carolina coast to the Virginia border.

5:02 p.m.: New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has declared a state of emergency.

4:33 p.m.: Va. Gov. Bob McDonnell has authorized localities to issue mandatory evacuation orders as they see fit.

4:21 p.m.: Alexandria-area Home Depot says business for sandbags is brisk and supplies may not last.

4 p.m.: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie: "From a flooding perspective, this could be a hundred-year event."

3:48 p.m.: Red Cross is mobilizing emergency shelters all along Eastern Seabord. Here's a link to its interactive locator map.

 3:33 p.m.: Va. Gov. Bob McDonnell and Emergency Management officials will hold a press conference at 4:15 p.m.

3:23 p.m.: Ocean City, Md. initiates phase 3 of emergency plan - mandatory evacuations beginning at midnight tonight.

3:19 p.m.: American Airlines and its American Eagle affiliate canceled 126 flights on Thursday. Delta Air Lines reported four cancelations, and United one.

3:10 p.m.: Bill Nye, "The Science Guy," says the storm is so powerful because it's just off shore and thus able to pick up speed and power.

3:02 p.m.: Weather Channel anchor says this has the possibililty to become "the hurricane of our lifetime."

2:52 p.m.: Officials in Accomack County (N.C.) and Sandbridge area of Virginia Beach have issued voluntary evacuation orders.

2:30 p.m.: Metro chief spokesperson Dan Stessel said the important thing now is for people to know that WMATA is ramping up in anticipation of the storms. The transit authority has just finished dispatching more than 2,000 sandbags to Metro stations with a history of flooding issues.

2:24 p.m.: On MSNBC, Discovery Channel's Atom Edwards warns people in projected path to NOT try to ride it out.

2:13 p.m.: Storm now hitting the Bahamas with a fury.

1:37 p.m.: Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley has declared a state of emergency in the state of Maryland.

1:07 p.m.: New Jersey governor Chris Christie is declaring a state of emergency because of Hurricane Irene.

12:07 p.m.: White House aides say President Obama spoke Thursday with officials to get updates on the hurricane's progress and ensure that states and local governments have what they need.

11:30 a.m.: The U.S. Navy ordered ships in its biggest East Coast center to head out to safer waters on Thursday to protect them from approaching Hurricane Irene.

11 a.m.: Amtrak announces train cancellations south of Washington D.C.

10:58 a.m.: Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell declares a state of emergency in Virginia.

Today at the Cafe: Desolation Row

By request!

Breaking News: Earthquake/Aftershock 4.5 in Virginia

Info is here.

From the L.A. Times:

As if the East Coast's magnitude 5.8 earthquake wasn't distressing enough, Virginia's got a whole lotta shaking going on.

A 4.5 aftershock struck near Richmond early Thursday, the U.S. Geological Survey said on its website. The temblor, which hit at 1:07 a.m. Eastern time, was centered in the same area as Tuesday's earthquake. The epicenter was about 36 miles northwest of Richmond and about 80 miles southwest of Washington.

And that's not the only aftershock: The Geological Survey lists four others since Tuesday's 1:51 p.m. quake: 3.4, 4.2, 2.8 and 2.2.

But in the greater scheme of things, that's a remarkably low number of aftershocks, geophysicist Amy Vaughan of the National Earthquake Information Center in Colorado told the Associated Press.

Thursday’s earthquake was at a depth of 3 miles below ground — about the same as Tuesday’s quake.

A Geological Survey map of the shake zone estimated that the perceived shaking at the epicenter was moderate, with potential damage very light. In contrast, Tuesday’s quake was classified as having very strong shaking.

And the New York Post:
The US Geological Survey (USGS) registered a 4.5-magnitude earthquake in Virginia early Thursday morning, less than two days after a 5.8-magnitude earthquake rattled a wide swath of the eastern US.

The USGS said the tremor struck shortly before 1:10am at a depth of 3.1 miles (5km), just south of Cuckoo, Va. -- 36 miles (58km) northwest of Richmond.

It was the strongest aftershock registered since Tuesday's major earthquake that forced at least partial evacuations of the US Capitol building and White House in Washington, D.C., as well as the Pentagon in Virginia.

UPDATE - From the AP:

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Steve Jobs resigns as Apple CEO

Here is Steve Job's Letter of Resignation:

Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs

To the Apple Board of Directors and the Apple Community:

I have always said if there ever came a day when I could no longer meet my duties and expectations as Apple's CEO, I would be the first to let you know. Unfortunately, that day has come.

I hereby resign as CEO of Apple. I would like to serve, if the Board sees fit, as Chairman of the Board, director and Apple employee.

As far as my successor goes, I strongly recommend that we execute our succession plan and name Tim Cook as CEO of Apple.

I believe Apple's brightest and most innovative days are ahead of it. And I look forward to watching and contributing to its success in a new role.

I have made some of the best friends of my life at Apple, and I thank you all for the many years of being able to work alongside you.

Read more about it here.

Washington National Cathedral damaged in earthquake

UPDATE - Here's a video of damage being assessed at the National Cathedral from The Atlantic:

BB NOTE: No worries, the Darth Vader Gargoyle appears to be unharmed.  

From here:

Cathedral damaged from earthquake, including its spires.

An unusual magnitude-5.8 earthquake that struck in central Virginia during the early afternoon Aug. 23 significantly damaged the central tower of Washington National Cathedral about 84 miles to the northeast.

Cathedral spokesman Richard Weinberg told Episcopal News Service by phone later in the afternoon that the finials or capstones, which are shaped like fleurs-de-lis, fell off three of the four pinnacles (corner spires) of the "Gloria in Excelsis" central tower.

There are also cracks in some of the flying buttresses around the east end of the apse, and pinnacles fell from the west front and the apse, he said. The east end is the oldest part of the cathedral.

The buttresses around the central tower seem to be sound, according to a late-afternoon press release from the cathedral. And, despite some cracks on upper floors in the interior, no damage to the stained-glass windows has been reported.

The cathedral was evacuated, said Weinberg, who estimated that about 300 people, including staff, were in the building when the quake occurred. The cathedral will remain closed at least for the rest of the day as engineers and stonemasons assess the building. Weinberg said it is not known when the cathedral will re-open to visitors.

Read it all here.

Here is a video tour of the National Cathedral before the earthquake:

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

BREAKING NEWS: Earthquake!

Just doing work at my desk at home when the earthquake hit.  I've been through a minor earthquake in Hawaii and of course the usual tremors in California - but this was like nothing I have been through.  The building was shaking - I am on the top floor and it just kept shaking and shaking as stuff fell all over the place.  Stuff is smashed in my apartment but the building seems okay.  The cat was the smartest one  - she went and burrowed under a sturdy piece of furniture in the interior bathroom.  But she is not speaking to me right now.

The Washington Cathedral sustains damage.
I am still shaking - this was amazing.  Have to plug the TV back in - it fell over as well so haven't seen pictures.  I kept saying out loud, "It's okay, I can handle stress!  It's okay!"

Just talked to my sister-in-law who is from San Jose, California but lives nearby me here in Virginia.  She was visiting her eighty year old father at his house in Burke.  Until recently he was a long-time resident of San Jose but now lives here.  When the earthquake ended there was silence and then he turned to his daughter and said rather calmly, "well, that was a bout a 5."

LATER: One of the smashed things was my collector's edition of a Ronald Reagan Jelly Bean Jar.  My George W. Bush Jack-in-the-Box also crashed to floor and W popped out.  But Grandma's China is okay.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Introducing "The Cafe Daily"

Some of you intrepid readers have all ready spotted a new feature from BabyBlueOnline.  It's called "The Cafe Daily," and it is a aggregated reader from what BabyBlue reads on Twitter.  It can make for fun and informative reading at a glance.  You can check out The Cafe Daily here.  It is updated twice a day.  A link is also available on the front page of

We will continue to blog - we're now well into our sixth year of BabyBlueOnline and we anticipate some very interesting developments in the next few weeks so please stay tuned!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Tonight at the Cafe: Maggie's Farm

The former folkie Dylan at Newport.
Then he plugged in and changed everything.

The electrifying performance by Bob Dylan when he plugged in his guitar in Newport, Rhode Island in 1965, an act that shot shockwaves around the world. 

Can sort of imagine Pete Seeger out looking for an ax backstage during this performance.  Not exactly Kumbiyah. Who said the "Tea Party" was something new?

Questions raised regarding authority of new "Anglican Communion Standing Committee" following resignations from bishops representing majority of the Communion

Members of the AC Standing Committee
There is no doubt that "something" happened in the western bureaucracy of the Anglican Communion following the Dar es Salaam Primates meeting in 2007. The Rev'd Dr. Steve Noll points to the fact that the Archbishop of Canterbury engaged in what he describes as a "betrayal of trust" after switching strategies following the release of the official communique from that landmark meeting imploring that the Episcopal Church USA (TEC) must be held accountable for its determination to continue to engage in communion-breaking actions.

Since then it has been in some ways brilliant bureaucratic maneuvers by the western minority leadership to redirect authority away from the collegial "instruments of communions" and to a small centralized committee called rather innocuously a "standing committee" suddenly given grandiose powers (or at least authority to send out press releases) by the Archbishop of Canterbury.  The agenda was set by the western minority and when protests were made to its creation and domination by the west (including appointing the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church as well as the Episcopal Bishop of Connecticut) to the group, it was clear the the communion was coming apart at the seams.

Dr. Noll here offers an insightful commentary on the controversial creation of this "standing committee" and it's claim to hold powers it does not have and cannot have.  It's very difficult not to make the claim that the last meeting of the "standing committee" was completely pointless and a total waste of time and money. 

Make no mistake about it, The Episcopal Church fully intends to authorize rites for same gender marriages in the Episcopal Church at its General Convention next year.  It will not pass the Anglican Covenant, for even in its extremely weakened condition, Section IV remains in the Covenant and that, at least in writing, poses a problem for TEC.  However, the covenant is as Ronald Reagan once described a "paper castle" - easily blown away by the winds of change since there is no mechanism in place for enforcement, unless this Standing Committee actually has the audacity to remove its own leading members from their seats.  And since those very members play a central role in setting the agenda for the standing committee meetings, that is like asking the wolf to clean up Little Red Riding Hood's house after the mess.

It would be an astonishing thing to see TEC remove itself from the standing committee - perhaps in a gesture of hope, it may not be a bad time to get the committee a Hoover.

From "Sea Change in the Anglican Communion," by Dr. Steve Noll:

Dr. Steve Nol
The Archbishops of Canterbury during the decade following Lambeth 1998 tried to blunt the gale force winds from the Global South at a series of Primates’ Meetings which climaxed in Rowan Williams reneging on the Primates’ resolutions at Dar es Salaam in 2007. The Archbishop’s betrayal of trust led seven Provinces, including two from the largest Provinces in the Communion, to convene the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) in Jerusalem in June 2008 and to boycott the Lambeth Conference later that summer. These Provinces went on to set up a parallel Primates’ Council and recognize the Anglican Church in North America as the legitimate Anglican Province in North America.

Dr. Rowan Williams
Ignoring these storm signals, Archbishop Williams sought to calm matters by advocating an Anglican Covenant as a means to deal with controversies within the Communion. The most striking weakness of the final Covenant draft (December 2009) was the enhanced role assigned to the “Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion” as adjudicator of Covenant disputes. Strong theological objections were raised by scholars of the Anglican Communion Institute (ACI), who argued this Committee, as a creature of only one “Instrument’ of the Communion, the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC), did not have the standing to act for the whole Communion and that in a Church constituted by the historic episcopate, bishops – whether in council (Primates) or plenary session (Lambeth Conference) – were the proper guardians of doctrine and discipline. The ACI scholars concluded: “It is now beyond doubt that the newly transformed and empowered ACC Standing Committee cannot function as the committee required by Section 4 [the enforcement section] of the Covenant.”

Beyond the theological questions, there were practical objections to the Standing Committee as an instrument of governance. Global South leaders refused to sit at table with representatives of TEC on the Standing Committee. Archbishop Henry Orombi, the African Primate on the Committee, had communicated his refusal to Rowan Williams after the Dar es Salaam meeting; Williams never replied to this objection. Business continued as usual, and the Standing Committee merely noted Orombi’s repeated absence “with regret” and even suggested that he be removed according to its rules of attendance.

Dr. Mouneer Anis
Bishop Mouneer Anis, a second Global South Committee member, took another tack, urging his fellow Global South leaders to attend the meetings and hold the Communion accountable to its commitments. In January 2010, however, he gave up the effort, penning an impassioned resignation letter which stated:
I have attended every meeting of the Standing Committee as well as the ACC-14. However, I have come to the sad realization that there is no desire within the ACC or the SCAC to follow through on the recommendations that have been taken by the Communion and which are tearing its fabric apart. Moreover, the SCAC, formerly known as the Joint Standing Committee (JSC), has continually questioned the authority of the other Instruments of Communion, especially the Primates Meeting and the Lambeth Conference….

Unfortunately the current structure of the Anglican Communion is not a true reflection of the world-wide Anglican Communion which grows mainly in the Global South. The Anglican Communion Office (ACO) is mainly staffed by Westerner [sic] who do not necessarily express the voices of the rest of the Communion. The result is a lack of the sense of ownership.
Three months later Archbishop Ian Earnest followed Archbishop Orombi and Bishop Mouneer in resigning from the Standing Committee, stating:
Consequently, I feel constrained by my conscience to uphold my duty as shepherd of the flock and to forthwith suspend all communication both verbal and sacramental with both the TEC and ACC – their Primates bishops and clergy until such time as they reverse their theological innovations, and show a commitment to abide by the decisions of the Lambeth Conference.
What is noteworthy is that the only way these Primates found they could be faithful to their calling as bishops in the Communion was to depart from its central committee. For all the talk of inclusiveness and dialogue, it is the innovators who are left at the table, dialoguing among themselves. This ploy of excluding traditionalists while mouthing faux inclusivism is old hat to those of us from TEC, but it has now been carried out on the international stage. The Minutes of the two succeeding Standing Committee meetings show how little impact the theological and political protests of conservatives made on the Lambeth bureaucracy and its Western facilitators.

The Standing Committee
The Standing Committee was reorganized by a revised Constitution of the Anglican Consultative Council, which went into effect in early 2010. Since then, the Committee has met twice, once in July 2010 and once in March 2011. Whereas the Minutes of the Standing Committee had previously been kept secret, they are now available on the Anglican Communion website (here and here).

Reading committee minutes is a sleep-inducing exercise, and these minutes are no exception. My purpose here is merely to point to those moments in the 3-day meetings that reveal the current fracture within the Communion.

Let’s begin with the composition of the Standing Committee. It is chaired by Bishop Tengatenga of Malawi. A common “inclusive” tactic of the bureaucracy is to appoint an African to serve as chair of a committee, the agenda of which is pre-determined in London. Other members, may come from the Global South, even a GAFCON province, like Mrs. Philippa Aimable of Ghana, but it is clear from the Minutes that they have little voice or authority within the Committee itself. The real power players are all Anglo-Saxon, working hand in hand with the bureaucrats like Canon Kenneth Kearon and Canon John Rees. Together they keep the Committee sailing smartly to safe harbor.
As noted, there were no episcopal representatives of the GAFCON provinces that had protested the actions of the North American churches present at these meetings. The Episcopal Church was well-represented by two members, Primate Katherine Schori and Bishop Ian Douglas of Connecticut, the consummate ecclesiastical politician. The Committee “noted and expressed regret at the resignations of Bishop Mouneer Anis, Archbishop Henry Orombi, Archbishop Justice Akrofi (an alternate to Archbishop Orombi) and Bishop Azad Marshall,” and bade them a wistful farewell, claiming that “their voices were missed.” Not surprisingly, they were replaced by others who were less likely to upset the smooth running of the operation. (1)

Dato’ Stanley Isaacs
The one hold-out at the first Committee meeting was Dato’ Stanley Isaacs, a lawyer and layman from the Province of Southeast Asia. Mr. Isaacs has been a strong voice opposed to the agenda of the West but also in favor of working for reform within the Communion structures. It is instructive to follow his attempt at the first meeting to address the concerns that had been raised repeatedly over the years over the violations of The Episcopal Church.

Mr. Isaacs’ opportunity came when the Standing Committee discussed the Archbishop of Canterbury’s 2010 Pentecost Letter, which proposed that Provinces that had violated the “three moratoria” against consecrating of homosexual bishops, authorizing same-sex rites, and crossing Provincial boundaries reduce their members to observer status on ecumenical commissions. Some Standing Committee members objected to this proposal, even while Rowan Williams assured them that it was not intended to be “punitive.” Isaacs, on the other hand, argued that this disciplinary slap was not enough and “queried whether members of TEC should also be withdrawn from other bodies such as the Standing Committee”:
Referring to the communiqué of the fourth Anglican Global South to South Encounter [in April 2010], Dato’ Isaacs said that those who had met in Singapore had reflected that the time had come to take decisive action towards arresting the present situation and restoring the integrity and unity of the Communion. He said that the Primates’ communiqués over the years had been consistent in affirming Lambeth I.10, that the Lambeth Commission had spoken of walking apart; that the churches of the Global South did not wish to walk apart from the Communion but wishes to walk apart from TEC; that if TEC were not prepared to separate voluntarily, then a forced separation on a temporary basis would be a way forward.”
Clearly Isaacs had disrupted the agenda and the bonhomie, but the distress was momentary, as his confrontative statement was quickly enfolded in a cloud of “indaba”:
Members of the Standing Committee continued to discuss developments in the Communion, and a range of perspectives was heard and explored. Issues included: the hope that a “third space” could be maintained where people could share their concerns and engage in a sustained and deeper way; the thought that the Anglican Communion was in a period of transition, and experiencing growth pains, to be navigated with charity, honesty and imagination; the danger of supposing we knew all the truth; the fact that there are Anglicans who believe there is no biblical authority to justify the consecration of gay or lesbian persons; an uneasiness about absolute tests of orthodoxy, but also an uneasiness about initiatives and actions that widened the gulf between communities in such a way that they could not speak for one another or be responsible for one another.
Noting that such matters would be addressed later in the Continuing Indaba report, the matter was punted to the end of the meeting. At that point and not to be deterred, Mr. Isaacs repeated his request that members of TEC should be excluded from the Standing Committee and Instruments of Communion.

Dato’ Isaacs said that he wished to speak on behalf of conservative orthodox Anglicans and appealed to TEC members of the Standing Committee to respect the feelings of the majority of Anglicans. Bishop Jefferts Schori responded that people in TEC had made decisions in what they believed were faithful and biblically sound ways. She said it was difficult to explain to members of TEC why it was the only Province currently in focus, since extra-provincial interventions had predated any consecration of openly gay bishops. She said that in the Communion we saw through a glass darkly, but more effectively together. Our task was to call people to the table to find creative, constructive and life-giving way [sic] forward.

Next the Archbishop of Canterbury opened his mind on the subject:
Archbishop Williams reflected that while it was important that ecumenical partners knew with whom they were talking, when the Standing Committee, the Primates’ Meeting and the ACC discussed matters of faith and order, they did so recognizing unfinished business among themselves. Within these bodies, there was still a case for the widest possible representation with sufficient trust and confidence to pursue conversations.
TEC Bishops, Dr. Schori and Dr. Douglas.

Bishop Douglas addressed Isaacs with the smooth tongue of pluralism and representative democracy. He
...appreciated Dato’ Isaacs request, which reflected the view of some others [!] in the ACC; he similarly tried to represent those who had elected him and would continue to do everything he could for the wellbeing of the Communion. He wished to contribute to the plurality of voices and considered that the way in which people read the Bible from their own context was a great gift of the Communion today.
Isaacs made one final appeal to reason, arguing that since the TEC representatives were being removed from bodies involved in ecumenical dialogue, TEC members should also recuse themselves from any matters of faith and order proceeding from those bodies to the Standing Committee and ACC. “However,” the Minutes go on to note, “there was no consensus for this.” The Committee then resolved to “regret” the breaches of the three moratoria and the “consequential resignations” of former members,” and passed the matter on further consideration to the (new) Primates Meeting and ACC.

Dato’ Stanley Isaacs, much to his credit, made waves at the first Standing Committee Meeting in July 2010. He was not present at the next one in March 2011, and the issue of TEC and Lambeth I.10 and moratoria was not mentioned. The Primates’ Meeting and the ACC, with GAFCON members absent, will almost certainly not consider the divisive issues further. The sea, once roiled by Gene Robinson and the Global South Primates, is calm again. All is well.

The other item of interest from the first Standing Committee minutes concerned the dubious legitimacy of the Committee itself amongst the Instruments of Communion and the proposed Covenant as had been challenged by the ACI and others. In discussion of the General Secretary’s Report, it was noted that the term “The Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion” sounded a trifle imperialistic since the Standing Committee did not in fact represent all four Instruments of Communion.
It was recognized that the words “of the Anglican Communion, responsible to the Anglican Consultative Council and the Primates’ Meeting” were merely descriptive of the fact that the Standing Committee derived its authority from its responsibility to the two Instruments of Communion which elect its membership, and on whose behalf it acted.
The solution was simple: just call it “The Standing Committee.” This resolution of the problem is facile by half. The Standing Committee in fact derives its authority neither from the Primates’ Meeting nor the Anglican Consultative Council but rather from the ACC constitution. The Primates and ACC elect five and nine members to the Standing Committee, respectively, and they receive its reports, but it is legally and financially the accountable party. It might be more accurate to describe it as the Board of Directors of the Anglican Communion Office, and like that office, its missives will go out on stationery headed “The Anglican Communion,” full stop.

As noted above, the Standing Committee also has been assigned a critical role to play in the Covenant.
Archbishop Williams referred to the role of the Standing Committee in the outworking of the Covenant and reflected that some questions needed addressing: how the Standing Committee, designated in the Covenant as the broker of decisions, might work actively with IASCUFO [Inter-Anglican Standing Committee for Unity, Faith and Order]; and uncertainties around Standing Committee members whose Provinces hadn’t signed the Covenant being adjudicators.
Move along, move along.
Having acknowledged a problem, Williams skipped past the questions and uncertainties and stated that “when enough Provinces had adopted the Covenant, then the Standing Committee could think about behaving as if the Covenant were in force.” His skip in logic and process was similar to the tactic employed at the 2010 ACC meeting in Jamaica, where serious procedural irregularities had been revealed but were met with mild embarrassment and brushed aside with vague promises of further investigation. “Move right along, folks, nothing to see here,” seems to be his response to such objections.

Read it all here at the AAC.  Dr. Steve Noll is the retired Vice Chancellor of Uganda Christian University and Emeritus Professor at Trinity School for Ministry.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Judgment is mine - says who?

A phone tip on Monday led the Los Angeles Sherrif's Department to St. Nicholas Episcopal Church in Encino, California where they recovered a Rembrandt stolen over the weekend from the Ritz Carlton in Marina del Ray.

The local Los Angeles NBC affiliate reported that the artwork was stolen while a curator was distracted late Saturday night.

On Monday deputies found the drawing by the Master artist at St. Nicholas Episcopal Church in the office of Father Mike Cooper where it appears to have been left by the thieves.

"Obviously, the pastor isn't a suspect," said Steve Whitmore, a spokesman for the L.A. County Sheriff's Department. "Someone left it there."

The quill pen and ink Rembrandt drawing, dated circa 1655, is valued at approximately $250,000. 

Why was the artwork left at the Episcopal Church?  Was it intentional or done in a panic?  So far there are no suspects and no arrests have been made.  But the title of the drawing may offer some clues.

The Judgment, by Dutch master artist Rembrandt.

Read more about it here and here and here.

Recording industry prepares to battle songwriters over their reclaiming ownership of mid-1970s recordings

Yep, that includes, you guessed it - Bob Dylan.

From here:

Bob Dylan
Since their release in 1978, hit albums like Bruce Springsteen’s “Darkness on the Edge of Town,” Billy Joel’s “52nd Street,” Kenny Rogers’ “Gambler” and Funkadelic’s “One Nation Under a Groove” have generated tens of millions of dollars for record companies. But thanks to a little-noted provision in U.S. copyright law, those artists — and thousands more — now have the right to reclaim ownership of their recordings, potentially leaving the labels out in the cold.

When copyright law was revised in the mid-1970s, musicians, like creators of other works of art, were granted “termination rights,” which allow them to regain control of their work after 35 years, so long as they apply at least two years in advance.

Recordings from 1978 are the first to fall under the purview of the law, but in a matter of months, hits from 1979, like “The Long Run” by the Eagles and “Bad Girls” by Donna Summer, will be in the same situation — and then, as the calendar advances, every other master recording once it reaches the 35-year mark.

The provision also permits songwriters to reclaim ownership of qualifying songs. Bob Dylan has already filed to regain some of his compositions, as have other rock, pop and country performers like Tom Petty, Bryan Adams, Loretta Lynn, Kris Kristofferson, Tom Waits and Charlie Daniels, according to records on file at the U.S. Copyright Office.

“In terms of all those big acts you name, the recording industry has made a gazillion dollars on those masters, more than the artists have,” said Don Henley, a founder both of the Eagles and the Recording Artists Coalition, which seeks to protect performers’ legal rights. “So there’s an issue of parity here, of fairness. This is a bone of contention, and it’s going to get more contentious in the next couple of years.”

With the recording industry reeling from plummeting sales, termination rights claims could be another serious financial blow. Sales plunged to about $6.3 billion from $14.6 billion over the decade that ended in 2009, in large part because of unauthorized downloading of music on the Internet, especially of new releases, which has left record labels disproportionately dependent on sales of older recordings in their catalogs.

“This is a life-threatening change for them, the legal equivalent of Internet technology,” said Kenneth Abdo, a lawyer who leads a termination rights working group for the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences and has filed claims for some of his clients, who include Kool and the Gang.

Tom Petty and Bob Dylan seek ownership of songs.
As a result the four major record companies — Universal, Sony BMG, EMI and Warner — have made it clear that they will not relinquish recordings they consider their property without a fight.

“We believe the termination right doesn’t apply to most sound recordings,” said Steven Marks, general counsel for the Recording Industry Association of America, a lobbying group in Washington that represents the interests of record labels.

As the record companies see it, the master recordings belong to them in perpetuity, rather than to the artists who wrote and recorded the songs, because, the labels argue, the records are “works for hire,” compilations created not by independent performers but by musicians who are, in essence, their employees.

Independent copyright experts, however, find that argument unconvincing. Not only have recording artists traditionally paid for the making of their records themselves, with advances from the record companies that are then charged against royalties, they are also exempted from both the obligations and benefits an employee typically expects.

“This is a situation where you have to use your own common sense,” said June Besek, executive director of the Kernochan Center for Law, Media and the Arts at the Columbia University School of Law. “Where do they work? Do you pay Social Security for them? Do you withdraw taxes from a paycheck? Under those kinds of definitions it seems pretty clear that your standard kind of recording artist from the ’70s or ’80s is not an employee but an independent contractor.”

Monday, August 08, 2011

Reflection on recent years

Been doing a lot of reflecting on the last ten years and the "troubles" in the Anglican Communion, especially as those of us in Virginia await the ruling from the Fairfax County Circuit Court on the fate of our churches.  As I was putting away dishes tonight, this song came to mind:

Friday, August 05, 2011

Are People Losing Denominational Identity?

From here:
What's your sign?
While we hear more quickly these days about seemingly every church tiff no matter how small because of the numerous media outlets and social media, congregations leaving their denominations is nothing new. During the 19th century, Presbyterians split into northern and southern factions over the issue of slavery before the Civil War. More than a century elasped before the two halves reunited.

“We see it all through church history – these endless splits, mergers and reorganizations,” says Timothy Beal, Florence Harkness professor of religion at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. “The splits always have to do with theology, property or worship practices.”

For the 21st century church, a loss of denominational identity has contributed to these separations.

“In the United States, these conservative congregations pulling out of mainline denominations are part of a broader issue relating to the loss of denominational identity and coherence generally,” says Douglas Jacobsen, distinguished professor of church history and theology at Messiah College in Grantham, Pa. “Both liberal and conservative denominations across the board don’t have the kind of loyalty or connectiveness with their congregations that they had 20 or 30 years ago.”

Part of that loss comes from the decrease in ethnic ties to certain denominations. “Denominational identity has become less connected to family identity, which means people no longer belong to the same denomination as their parents or grandparents,” says Beal.

Turns out we're branches after all.
The trend toward innocuous, non-denominational names for churches – even if the congregation belongs to a denomination – also is loosening the national identity of denominations. “Denominational labels are seen as pushing people away and a non-denominational name is seen as more embracing,” says Jacobsen.

For many Christians, denominations do not have the same meaning or place in their lives as they did in the 20th century. Thus, when a congregation leaves its denomination, most become non-denominational either permanently or for a time.

“You don’t often see one congregation pulling out of one and going immediately into another except perhaps in Presbyterian circles moving from the Presbyterian Church USA to the Presbyterian Church in America, or TEC, which has to be under a bishop’s authority,” says Jacobsen.

No matter where the congregation decides to go, the transition out of a denomination can be rocky because of the issues of doctrine, property and worship styles. For Truro, the decision to leave TEC and go into the CANA has not been easy. TEC sued Truro over its property, and Truro has been ensnared in litigation for years, which has taken a toll on the congregation.

“It’s been a huge distraction from our ministry and costly for the congregation in terms of time and money,” says Thrasher. This fall, a ruling by the Fairfax Circuit Court on to whom the property belongs is expected. Until then, Truro continues its ministry and hopes for the best.
Read it all here.