Saturday, April 5, 2014

Ignorance is Bliss (For the Archbishop of Canterbury)

"All that is necessary for the forces of evil to take over is that enough good men to do nothing"  Edmund Burke

The Most Reverend Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, has unilaterally, and with no factual information decided that countries in Africa kill Christians because of the Episcopal Church's position of allowing the same rights to  LGBT Anglicans as it does to all who worship in our fashion.  The archbishop has determined, upon opening a grave of 369 "Christians" that they died because of LGBT rights. 

In the archbishop's own words,  "Why can’t we just do it now? (the question pertains to including LGBT fully in the rights and privileges
‘Because the impact of that on Christians in countries far from here, like South Sudan, like Pakistan, Nigeria and other places would be absolutely catastrophic and we have to love them as much as the people who are here.
‘I’ve stood by a graveside in Africa of a group of Christians who’d been attacked because of something that had happened far, far away in America. And they were attacked by other people because of that.
‘The mass grave had 369 bodies in it and I was standing with the relatives. That burns itself into your soul, as does the suffering of gay people in this country.’"

Sunday, March 30, 2014

The Right Reverend David Rice - Provisional Bishop San Joaquin Diocese

Here is some additional information on our newest bishop - David Rice.  As you may recall, while Bishop David Rice is clearly a well qualified candidate there were some process issues I had some difficulty.  The Standing Committee did not create, with the various parishes in the diocese, a profile of the needs of the diocese, as should be the case.  The Standing Committee took only one recommendation from the Presiding Bishop. Under normal circumstances Several clergy would apply for the position and the Standing Committee would act as the search committee and review and process the candidates.  As a bonus, for both Bishop Talton and Bishop Lamb, each toured the diocese and visited with most , if not all, parishes before the election process took place. Bishop David was brought into the diocese as an Assisting Bishop even though he had not taken the vows of an Episcopal Bishop, and before a vote had been taken for Bishop Rice to assume the position of Bishop of  the diocese of San Joaquin.  And the appearance of even one Anglican (because he had not taken the vows ascribed to a Bishop in the Episcopal diocese creates interesting grist for the Stand Firm crowd's mill.

This type of process looks very much like the process for clergy in the San Joaquin Diocese when John David Schofield.  No transparency, no openness, no easy going anything.  Gives the impression that new names, same game. 

Here is the link to a newspaper article as the Bishop was in transition.

here is the link to Bishop David Rice.,d.aWc

In reinforcing one point I do not know Bishop David Rice and his resume is indeed impressive and with lay persons who have talked with him he is friendly, outgoing, and very spiritual. 

What is not the case is one of process.  Process is currently in vogue since JDS stacked the proverbial deck with his "yes men".  We asked for transparency, open dialogue, and to see the checks and balances work for the diocese.  

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Saint Barrack Obama

Wow! We need to get in front of this one.  We may have beat even Fox news  on this one.
President Barrack Obama, in a private audience with Pope Francis was canonized by the new pope.  The Pope said the quickest way to sainthood is right thru the Islamist Socialist ideologies.  And by crackers, President Obama meets all those critera.  At one point the pope was asked why he did not take into consideration the fact that President Obama was not left out because of his birth certificate coming from Kenya.  The Pope said that he was in meditation just yesterday and had a meeting with Jomo Kenyatta and President Kenyatta said, "I once knew some Obamas but they were from Zaire."

President/Saint Obama said that he has received renewed energy to bring back to the United States, part 2 of his great socialist plan.  Saint Obama said that when he and the pope were in private they meditated and St. Obama had a vision of Mary who told him to make sure that everyone in the United States has broccoli at least one time a weak.  She also said that not to worry about gun control because if criminals are the only one with guns then we can just stab anyone who gets out of line. 

Saint Obama said that after such a long meditation that it was time to come down off the mountain (not the ones in Kenya) and try to find his way back home.  He also said that Mary had told him to place a bet on the Stanford Cardinal for her.  She said that she will be back in touch with him about the time he goes to the Grotto of St. Bernadette.

St. Obama is due back in the US on Saturday and everyone at that time will see that the entire hair on his head has turned sparkly silver.

We will report more on this as the Saint returns from England.

(Hope everyone knows I have my tongue planted firmly in my cheek! :-)

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Can Anyone Spell Evaluation?

"We really need to move forward in a positive direction as Episcopalians. We have had enough of schism, conflict and disunity and it is time to bind the wounds and move on."
                                                                                             A prominent San Joaquin lay member 

Evaluation, a fairly common albeit demanding review of what some one, a group of people ,or an organization does for at least two reasons.  First, to make sure that the goal that is accepted is the goal still being worked on.  The second, a way of rewarding the person, group, or organization if warranted.

The diocese of San Joaquin reflects the new and changing dynamics of the 21st Century Episcopal Church and has done so for about 5 almost 6 years. None the less I am truly unclear on what the goal(s) is(are) for our diocese.  Now, in reflection, the only goal the diocese is acting on is recapturing all those parishes and missions that wandered "down south" (and I don't mean So. California). What I am really unclear on is whose goal is that?  When  the others 'split" for the Southern Cone the real diocese of San Joaquin was left holding the bag for three months while everyone held their breath until the National Church decided to "help".   From the very beginning of the new San Joaquin our Chancellor has worked tirelessly to accomplish the one and only clear and specific goal that this diocese has ever been given, recapture the lost property.  Essentially we were charged to play the game of Risk with the honored opposition being every lawyer John David Schofield knew.  It has been almost six years and we are still not done.  But, "victory is just around the corner". A recent communication from the Chancellor indicates that possibly in the 2015 year the property will all have returned.   

Let's not forget that the National Church has provided a great deal of financial aid to the diocese. In addition each Bishop has been appointed by the National Church.  These fellows have been caretakers, good (I mean really good) listeners  and empathetic leaders.  But the diocese was also promised transparency if nothing else and of late I am struggling to spell the word transparency.                                                                                                                                                                                                            
So what is/are our goal(s)? Here is but one example.  "Currently the Bishop of the Anglican Diocese Waipu in Aotearoa, in New Zealand, the Right Reverend David Rice has been recommended by Presiding Bishop Katherine Jefferts Schori and endorsed by Bishop Chet to be our next bishop (Galicia, Kathryn, Instrument of Thy Peace, St. Francis Episcopal Church, Oct/Nov/Dec 2013).
So, as far as I can tell, based on the lack of information forth coming from the Standing Committee, we "took" the Presiding Bishop's recommendation and rubber stamped the candidate.  So, one of our non-goals and one of the goals of the National Church, was the "hiring of David Rice, an Anglican from New Zealand who has decided to return to his home, the United States.  This author served on a parish  Search Committee during the JDS move to "Anglicanism" (buzz word for Southern Cone) and our search committee was given one candidate from JDS, and in lack of any other candidate, this candidate was elected.  Oops, the current dilemma is just like the prior regime, one candidate and one election.  Bishop Rice became the elected "Assistant Bishop" until such time as the Presiding Bishop can administer the vows of the Episcopal Church.  Wow!

     Next, "our goal" of recovering ALL the property lost when JDS decided to go south for the winter (actually for ever).  So, from 2008 until today, we continue to try and recover ALL the property from all the that was stolen in the Anglican move.  The National Church continues to loan the Diocese of San Joaquin funds to fight the good fight.  (As far as has been explained we have not lost yet.) But winning the loss of property has taken a huge toll on the parishes that are mere shadows of themselves.  Why such little help to put together fledgling parishes there is an incredible emphasis by the National Church on regaining property our diocese lost. (our or their goal?) There is a committee on goals and objectives in our diocese but rarely (I cannot remember seeing the final work from this committee) do we see a comparison of our goals and the progress made on those goals.  The fact is it appears as if our diocese and our parishes cannot move forward and by not moving forward we are falling backwards.  Keep in mind that it took almost 3 months for the National Church to recognize and act on our decimated diocese.  So right now, it appears, we are working on the National Church's goal of recovery of all the diocesan property.

In the above mentioned property goal San Joaquin has been loaned a tidy sum of assistance.  One would think there would be a goal of repaying those loans over 5 or 10-or 30 years.  The diocese, (again as far as I know) has not put together a plan.  So the diocese has no plan for repayment, no plan on what to do when the various properties are recovered and no real plan to mend and grow the diocese.  As far as I know every parish struggles every week. 

There is a saying that is very fitting for our parishes and it goes something like this, "It is hard to drain the swamp when we are up to our a** in alligators".  In March of 2008 the parishes were beaten badly. Physically, spiritually, psychologically we were all done in.  We received a lot of help from individuals and independent parishes and we owe them a great debt of gratitude. As the National Church stepped in and helped we owe them a great deal of gratitude.   But the fact remained that we didn't need just healing but we needed to get back to what Christ wanted us to do.  We did not follow through.  However, the National Church has had their own goals taken care of for 6 years.

I hope all my readers understand that this blog posting is NOT trying to bash our newest Bishop, Bishop David Rice.  He needs no defense for me.  What this is trying to do is provide some basis for evaluating/auditing the diocese for the past 6 years but also setting some diocesan goals for all of us laity to work accomplish.  For example, anyone in San Joaquin see a search document?  How does the laity know what the Standing Committee wants in a Bishop? Isn't that what we do when a new Rector or Assistant needs to be found.  Quite honestly it growing more and more difficult to tell the difference between JDS' Standing Committee and the current Standing Committee. I could not find on the diocesan website the names of the individuals on these two committee.  We have a diocesan long term property disposition.  There was a committee but haven't seen anything over the last couple of years. 
     There is no question that ever person's heart is in the right place.  There are many goals to choose from yet none have been stated.  We have not "wasted" six years but it would be both good and proper for evaluation and goal setting.

Giddy-up Giddy-up 409

I have decided to write on something completely different than the Episcopal/Anglican/Catholic/whatever else.  I guess this is going to be a point of personal privilege.

I am sure most of those that read this blog would be aghast to know that yours truly was raised in Southern California.  I grew up with skateboards, surfing, body surfing, belly boarding and great suntans and beautiful blonds on the beaches (I actually married one).  For a period of time I managed to get to the beach every single day. Skateboards were still made from 2x4s and a stolen skate from your sister.  For me, the entire coast from Long Beach to the Trestles (and yes I body surfed the Wedge) and back again were my playgrounds.

Now you are probably thinking to yourselves, hum, how did he get around so much?  All of that not withstanding, Southern Californians have a special relationship with the automobile.  We talk in hours and not miles.  We talk 409s, 327, 283, 350, 351, Carter carburetors, 4 speeds, doughnuts, and breaking rubber, and street races.  We cruised up and down Whittier Blvd to pick up "chicks" and to pick up a street race.  I believe that Modesto had nothing on what we did with cars.  If you didn't have a car you had a friend with a car.  The nirvana of Southern California was the driver's license quickly followed with the sound of car keys falling into your hand.  We listened to the Beach Boys, Jan and Dean, the Ventures, Dick Dale and the Deltones, KRLA, KHJ and KFWB. 

This idea of automobiles as the primary source of transportation was something Southern Californians are born with.  If you have never seen a baby born let me tell you that most boys are born with their hands in a formation that is identical to the ten and two driving position.  Tickets were a badge of honor in your circle of friends and anathema to you via your parents.  We would scrape and take bottles back to stores for recycling just to get enough money to pay for insurance.  It is safe to say that the only reason one got a Book of Common Prayer is to tell your parents "I need to drive to church".

For over 46 years I have enjoyed the great privilege of owning and driving a host of cars.  My favorites through the years include a 1965 Valiant with a Carter 4 bbl, Hurtz 4 speed and a real ability to fool a whole lot of other folks. This Valiant was one of 6 made that year.  I once owned a 1956 Jaguar with a drop head coupe, great car.  I also loved my 1978 Fiat Spyder.  On a couple of occasions I was able to discover that the Fiat can indeed go 140+ miles per hour right through the 57 and 60 freeways on my way to work.  We had Novas and Suburbans and Oldsmobiles and my best friend would bug me nearly every day about "be a man, get a Ford."  Sadly Jerry moved on to that big Ford Dealership in the sky. 

Now, I am faced with giving up my license and my driving privileges.  Certainly not because I want to but because a host of specialists tell me I must.  No more smelling burning rubber, no more immediate personal freedom to go wherever, whenever and return with that same cavalier approach.  I say to myself, this is not Chicago or New York, or Seattle.  This is California, how can someone who has not had an accident  in over 40 years and who does not have a host of tickets, (well, okay some but its not like I got a ticket every week.  More like every month or two.) not drive.  Removing my driver's license is like amputating a hand or foot or leg.  I will have for years those feint feelings of my drivers license in my wallet.  I will have to have someone drive us all, all the time.  I have not ridden in the backseat of a van/car/truck in a really long time. I am a control freak of major proportions.  As I had one counselor say to me, you will go through the grieving process just like you lost a friend.  I told him I don't due funerals, and I don't do graveside services.  I will not start at this point in my life and so I have no real idea how this is going to work itself out.  American Graffiti this is not.  The worst of it is that every day of my life I will look out the window at all the people who are driving cars around the block, the town, the state and the nation and will say, "Thanks Uncle Ho. I thought you tried but were not able to get  me on Mutter's Ridge, or so I thought.  "It's one, two, three what are we fightin' for. . ."

I have a column I have written and re-written over several days/weeks.  I want to provide a realistic evaluation of where the San Joaquin Diocese is as we welcome in our "newest non-Anglican, Anglican bishop. Stay Tuned.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Hi! Have You Heard This One?

  Is It Me? Again??

I am a w(h)ine drinker and so I think it is time to share some "sour grapes" and let the readers decide for themselves what is or has transpired in the diocese of San Joaquin.  I hold no special knowledge in any real sense.  I see what I see nowadays from the way way back pew and compare it to the promise resurrected in March of 2008. Then and at St. John's Lodi we came together and we came alive.
This is the second time I have risen as if a phoenix from the ashes.  That is, by far and away, the best  analogy for what has transpired over the last 6 years in the Diocese of San Joaquin.  Has Bishop Lamb and Bishop Talton done what they came to do?  Yes, they have.  What have they done?  Well they have fulfilled the dictates of the National Church fairly nicely.  The two bishops managed to keep all the doors (depending on who was where and at what time) open.  The two bishops were healers and did a lot of that also.  But the fact is that it has been 6 years and not only is all the legal work not been completed but no one has yet to figure out what it is we, the Episcopalians, are going to do with old buildings that we have not yet been able to fill.  If there is a strategic plan for rebuilding the Diocese of San Joaquin no one has yet shared it with the diocese of San Joaquin.  Is there a strategic plan to rebuild the parishes - some where, any where? It appears that what we did is ask the National Church to help us and after letting our diocese dangle for weeks it finally came up with the plan of taking back every single piece of property the other side had stolen. We were wildly excited.  We jumped in with both feet.  Six years later we are still in with both feet but some how are shoes have turned into concrete supplied by the National Church.  
See if you readers remember this one:  The Standing Committee begins looking for a provisional bishop.  No surveys, no questionnaire, no visitations to the local parishes.  Everything is very quiet for sometime.  Suddenly the Standing Committee announces they have found a qualified candidate in New Zealand.  The candidate does not visit as Jerry Lamb did, the Standing Committee does not vet the search process.  The "new" bishop appears one day, is approved to be an assistant bishop to Bishop Talton ("approved by a convention") and now a special convention is set up to "formally accept" the new bishop on March 29, 2014.  The presiding Bishop has her calendar set up to provide the necessary vows to the Episcopal Church. Years ago, the train left the station without many of us on board but it did eventually return in that glorious year of 2008.  Once again, the train has left the station and many of us are still on the platform wondering why there were two trains and no one seems to want us along for the ride.  How does a bishop in New Zealand get the presiding Bishop to set a calendar for her to come and administer the vows of the Episcopal Church when no one has yet voted on it?  Lets take a straw poll - who is not in favor of voting for the bishop who has moved his family, his household to the United States from New Zealand and has been the diocesan assistant bishop for four months?  That is what I thought.  I keep missing the train.
Transparency?  No, there is not detailed listing on the diocesan website of who is on the standing committee.  There is no detailed listing of who is on the Diocesan Council.  Who is on the Discernment Committee??  Who is who?  Well, the diocese of San Joaquin is on the cutting edge of recovery of the property that was "stolen" from us over 6 years ago.  Our diocese has been sufficiently distracted from what we are supposed to do and been caught up in wins and losses.  And, as far as I can see, the main interest is in how many wins can we rack up over the years.  What is the toll?  Attend a service at any of the Episcopal Churches in and around this neck of the woods and look into the parishioners eyes and if you cannot see it then look at the finances and that will tell you the plain hard facts.  Most of us in the Diocese of San Joaquin will be buried out of some Episcopal church that has just been recovered from the non-Anglican almost Anglican Anglicans.  There is just not one thing better to attract families to the Episcopal Church than this long, protracted war. 
I will be very honest with my readers, I have no idea how to get out of this predicament we find ourselves in.  And yes, it is to a large degree our responsibility for where we are.  But as with the most recent anointed bishop, we as laity had no real input into the process of recovery; not just ourselves and our spirituality but our property, our hearts, and our parishes, and our belief that this is the way to go.
This is some of what I see.  Those who went with the various John Davids of our church went thinking that it was for spiritual reasons.  No, it was not, it was so clergy who thought they ought to be higher ranking in the church than they were now got to be ordained, promoted, canonized, acclaimed in all sorts of diocese such as Kenya and Nigeria and Uganda.  But what wasn't quite so clear at that time is this was a mere changing of the guard.  We have fallen back into our old ways except we have new faces that are ecstatic about their rising stock.  All got some and some got all.
I will close with this (which may very well infuriate a bunch or folks) old saw - The road to hell is paved with good intentions and while we are really not yet in hell, we sure can see it from here.

And, before I get all sorts of nasty e-grams most of us in our  diocese will forever be in debt to all those in the laity and clergy in other dioceses who supported us spiritually and practically.  That is forever etched in our minds.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Once Again Anglicans Play Telephone Game

Ever play the game telephone?  Well, you get a whole lot of people together and then the first person whispers in the second person's ear some statement.  The statement is then whispered all the way down the line.  The last person then shouts what was told to him/her which is usually both incredibly funny because it does not resemble the original statement.

The conservatives, misogynists as they are, once again played telephone with the presiding bishop's homily in Venezuela.  For the record, here is the text of her homily - the actual text.

All Saints Church, Steenrijk, CuraƧao [Diocese of Venezuela]
12 May 2013
The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori
Presiding Bishop and Primate
The Episcopal Church

The beauty of this place is legendary. It is beautiful – and fragile, for its beauty depends on a dynamic balance among the parts of this island system. Many people don’t notice beauty around them until it’s gone. When we go somewhere that looks very different, often it takes a long time to appreciate that it has beauty, even though it’s a different kind of beauty. Some people never do learn to value the different kinds of loveliness in the world around us. One of the gifts of this remarkable island is its diverse mixture of desert and tropics on land and sea – and even more so, the beauty of its different peoples, languages, and heritages. Yet the history of this place tells some tragic stories about the inability of some to see the beauty in other skin colors or the treasure of cultures they didn’t value or understand.
Human beings have a long history of discounting and devaluing difference, finding it offensive or even evil. That kind of blindness is what leads to oppression, slavery, and often, war. Yet there remains a holier impulse in human life toward freedom, dignity, and the full flourishing of those who have been kept apart or on the margins of human communities. It’s a tendency that seems to emerge along a common timeline  Formal legal structures that permitted human slavery ended here and in many parts of the world within a relatively short span of time. It doesn’t mean that slavery is finished today, but at least it’s no longer legal in most places. Even so, slavery continues in the form of human trafficking and the kind of exploitation that killed so many garment workers in Bangladesh recently.
We live with the continuing tension between holier impulses that encourage us to see the image of God in all human beings and the reality that some of us choose not to see that glimpse of the divine, and instead use other people as means to an end. We’re seeing something similar right now in the changing attitudes and laws about same-sex relationships, as many people come to recognize that different is not the same thing as wrong. For many people, it can be difficult to see God at work in the world around us, particularly if God is doing something unexpected.
There are some remarkable examples of that kind of blindness in the readings we heard this morning, and slavery is wrapped up in a lot of it. Paul is annoyed at the slave girl who keeps pursuing him, telling the world that he and his companions are slaves of God. She is quite right. She’s telling the same truth Paul and others claim for themselves.[1] But Paul is annoyed, perhaps for being put in his place, and he responds by depriving her of her gift of spiritual awareness. Paul can’t abide something he won’t see as beautiful or holy, so he tries to destroy it. It gets him thrown in prison. That’s pretty much where he’s put himself by his own refusal to recognize that she, too, shares in God’s nature, just as much as he does – maybe more so! The amazing thing is that during that long night in jail he remembers that he might find God there – so he and his cellmates spend the night praying and singing hymns.
An earthquake opens the doors and sets them free, and now Paul and his friends most definitely discern the presence of God. The jailer doesn’t – he thinks his end is at hand. This time, Paul remembers who he is and that all his neighbors are reflections of God, and he reaches out to his frightened captor. This time Paul acts with compassion rather than annoyance, and as a result the company of Jesus’ friends expands to include a whole new household. It makes me wonder what would have happened to that slave girl if Paul had seen the spirit of God in her.
The reading from Revelation pushes us in the same direction, outward and away from our own self-righteousness, inviting us to look harder for God’s gift and presence all around us. Jesus says he’s looking for everybody, anyone who’s looking for good news, anybody who is thirsty. There are no obstacles or barriers – just come. God is at work everywhere, even if we can’t or won’t see it immediately.
The gospel insists that Jesus has given glory to the growing company of his friends and disciples so they can be all be one. When we recognize the glory of another human being, we become her advocate, and we begin to see him as friend. The word that’s used for glory has echoes that speak of awe, and gravitas, and deep significance. The glory we’ve received is something like a grand ceremonial garment, maybe even a shining face like Moses’, that says to those around us, “here comes the image of God.” The world begins to change when we see that glorious skin shining on our brothers’ and sisters’ faces.
The great loves in our lives come from a deep recognition of the glory in another human being and a desire to share that glory. When Jesus speaks of oneness, he’s moving in that direction. What would the world be like if we could love not only our lovers, but every human being with that kind of starry-eyed passion? The glory is there to see in all of us. Certainly God sees that glory. Most of us have eyes that can see that glory in one or a few other human beings. Learning to see that glory all around us is a good part of what the Christian life is all about. Slavery, war, and discrimination are only possible when we fail to see the glory in those people. Why does Jesus tell us to pray for our enemies, except to begin to discern their glory?
We live in a time when we need to see the glory of God in every other human being, and also in the rest of creation. This fragile earth, our island home, is also shining with the glory of its creator. If human beings are going to flourish on this planet, we’ll need to learn to see the glory of God at work in all its parts. When we can be awed at the beauty of a sunset or the delicate complexity of an orchid or the remarkable diversity of a coral reef, we’ll be much more wary about using it for our own selfish ends.
Looking for the reflection of God’s glory all around us means changing our lenses, or letting the scales on our eyes fall away. That kind of change isn’t easy for anyone, but it’s the only road to the kingdom of God. We are here, among all the other creatures of God’s creation, to be transformed into the glory intended from the beginning. The next time we feel the pain of that change, perhaps instead of annoyance or angry resentment we might pray for a new pair of glasses. When resentment about difference or change builds up within us, it’s really an invitation to look inward for the wound that cries out for a healing dose of glory. We will find it in the strangeness of our neighbor. Celebrate that difference – for it’s necessary for the healing of this world – and know that the wholeness we so crave lies in recognizing the glory of God’s creative invitation. God among us in human form is the most glorious act we know. We are meant to be transformed into the same kind of glory. Let’s pray that God’s glory may shine in us and in all creatures!