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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Unconventional Wisdom

Much of what you are going to read is synthesized from a book titled Meeting Jesus (Again) For The First Time.  It was written by Marcus J. Borg.  

Our recent experience in the Episcopal Church has a lot to do with John David Schofield, Jack Iker, Peter Jensen, Peter Akinola, Henry Orombi, James Packer and many others.  Most of the flock that followed John David Schofield did so because they believe that John David Shofield would not lead them astray.  We have heard a great deal about Robert Duncan and how he would lead the entire Anglican Church of North America.  Everywhere we turn these days there is this strong personality type that is leading.  We generally refer to them as purple-shirted thugs.  Well, believe it or not there is biblical comment about this, Marcus Borg wrote about it.

Marcus refers us to the first four chapters of Paul's letter to the community at Corinth.  He specifically addressed the issue of factions within the church identifying with leaders such as "I belong to Cephas" or "I belong to Apollo" or "I belong to Paul."  Paul divided up Christianity into to radically different ways of being: First, "living under the law by works"; and, second, "living by grace through faith."   Justification by works and/or life under the law is the conventional wisdom.  Life by grace through radical faith is the alternative wisdom given to us by Jesus Christ, it is the wisdom of God.    Paul was convinced that those who made statements such as the I belong to ... statements were clearly living with the wisdom of this world.  Conversely not under the alternative wisdom of saving grace through faith.  

hear what Mark Thompson has to say about just this issue:
"At this present moment of crisis, there is hardly a more important issue for us to address than that of authority in the church. It is certainly true that God’s people need to keep returning to the question of authority."

Certainly sounds to me like the conventional wisdom Paul spoke of in Corinthians and Borg references.

In the GAFCON Communique on establishment of Primates Council the document begins with this:

"The twofold task of the Council is ‘to authenticate and recognise confessing Anglican jurisdictions, clergy and congregations and to encourage all Anglicans to promote the gospel and defend the faith.’ The Primates have therefore laid the basis for the future work of both the Council and the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans (FCA)."

More conventional wisdom.

Keep in mind that justification is a legal metaphor, according to Borg, a verdict but not necessarily innocent or acquitted (see pg. 104).  For Paul, it was a means by which one is made right with God.  Paul believed that the real "formula was "justification by grace through faith."  Justification by works remains, for Paul, life under the law.   It is a means of becoming right with God by works of the law.  I get to be okay by some form of performance that I do.  Keep in mind, this is not life under the Torah, for that would mean that life under Christian requirements now makes life under the law attainable, but in fact it is not.  Paul's point is justification by grace is freely given by God as a gift.  (page 105).    I will quote from Borg's book who in turn quotes from Paul's letter:

We are now justified by God's grace as a gift through through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.
Christ is the end of the law.
For freedom Christ has set us free.  Stand firm,  therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.

So, let's now look at the GAFCON statement.  Here is the first item:
The Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON), which was held in Jerusalem from 22-29 June 2008, is a spiritual movement to preserve and promote the truth and power of the gospel of salvation in Jesus Christ as we Anglicans have received it. 

Notice the the kicker "as we Anglicans have received it, not as Christ delivered it and not as God gave it but as "we received it."

Again, in the Jerusalem Declaration the document espouses justification under the law:

Our fellowship is not breaking away from the Anglican Communion. We, together with many other faithful Anglicans throughout the world, believe the doctrinal foundation of Anglicanism, which defines our core identity as Anglicans, is expressed in these words: The doctrine of the Church is grounded in the Holy Scriptures and in such teachings of the ancient Fathers and Councils of the Church as are agreeable to the said Scriptures. In particular, such doctrine is to be found in the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion, the Book of Common Prayer and the Ordinal.



The GAFCON group continues to hang onto the law -- looking to things that "give guidance" -- the law instead of things that give grace -- God.  

In n earlier chapter Borg demonstrates what Jesus' alternative wisdom lloked like.  For example, "What kind of world is it in which a Samaritan - a heretic and an impure person- can be good - indeed be the hero of a story? What kind of world is it in which a Pharisee- typcially a righteous and pure person - can be pronounced unrighteos and an outcast can be accepted?  What kind of  world is it where a Bishop in the Anglican church - typically a good and holy man - can be rejected and a homosexual can become a bishop?  The humble exalted and the exalted humbled?  It is not only a paradox but a reversal of the conventional wisdom.  It is alternative wisodm.  It is the Jesus - Sophia -  the wisdom of God.  

If this still doesn't get through try this song.  I would put it up via youtube but it isn't there.  Here is the lyrical version of what this is really all about.

OR THE LOVE OF IT ALL
Noel Paul Stookey
©1991 Neworld Media Music Publishers, ASCAP

In the beginning, as life became form,
The oceans heaved, the mountains were cleaved,
The firmament stormed.
At the center of being, immensely small
Was the master of now, don't ask me how
The Love of it all

And the seasons were many.
Creation was new.
And there on a tree (deceptively free)
A forbidden fruit
Upon leaving the garden, after the fall,
One thing was clear; we chose not to hear
The Love of it all

But for the Love of it all
I would go anywhere.
To the ends of the earth,
What is it worth if Love would be there?
Walking the thin line between fear and the call
One learns to bend and finally depend
On the Love of it all

"Irresistible targets"
I heard someone say.
They were speaking of angels
Who are so courageous day after day
Gunned down on a highway (as we often recall)
I hear a scream; I have a dream
The Love of it all

Still the world is in labor,
She groans in travail.
She cries with the eagle, the dolphin,
She sighs in the song of the whale.
While the heart of her people
Prays at the wall.
A spirit inside is preparing a bride
For the Love of it all

For the Love of it all,
Like the stars and the sun,
We are hearts on the rise,
Separate eyes with the vision of one.
No valley too deep, no mountain too tall,
We can turn back the night with merely the light
From the Love of it all.

And so we are marching to 'to give peace a chance'
Brother and sister as one in this mystery dance.
Long ago on a hilltop where now the curious crawl
A man on a cross paid the ultimate cost
For the Love of it all

For the Love of it all
We are gathered by grace
We have followed our hearts
To take up our parts
In this time and place.
Hands for the harvest,
Hear the centuries call:
It is still not too late to come celebrate
The Love of it all

"Eli, eli, lemana shabakthani"
The Love of it all


Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merrry Christmas

For each and everyone:

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Telephone Call For Mr. John David Schofield

Mr. Schofield, on November 16, 2007 wrote:
"Hardly a day goes by when I am not asked the question: “Are you going to take us out of the Episcopal
 Church?” Such a request indicates that the individual is unaware of the limits of power or authority a bishop in The Episcopal Church has.", and,  “But,” you might ask, “what about us?” We have come full circle to where we began. The question “Are you going to take us out of The Episcopal Church?” has a simple and straightforward answer. “No.” No matter what I might believe is the right thing to do, I cannot take the diocese out of The Episcopal Church. 

I might add that this question was asked openly of John David on numerous occasions from the first time that JDS and Mr. Wantland (a few others) stole the name of Episcopal Church in the United States of America and his answer was always the same.  (What made this time different?  A woman occupied the Presiding Bishop's office.)

Mr. Schofield said this:
The vote before us, as it will be before other dioceses, is not to leave The Episcopal Church. Rather, it will be to remain within the worldwide Anglican Communion with its heritage and universally accepted teaching based on the word of God. 

Yet the only Province within the United States that is in the Anglican Communion is the Episcopal Church of the United States of America.  Certainly, the "province you are now a part of' has no such way of associating with the Archbishop of Canterbury.  In fact, the word is that Canterbury has had no such "province" even begin the process of recognition.  So, you want to be a part of the Anglican Communion you need to join the Episcopal Church of the United States of America.  BTW, the Jerusalem Declaration says you don't even care.  Look it up.  

Well, since that was a lie, what else do you suppose might be a lie?  Try this one on.  In a Pastoral Letter to be read on Sunday the 18th of November Mr. Schofield said this:
According to well-informed sources, the Archbishop of Canterbury has been fully informed of the invitation of the Province of the Southern Cone and described it as a “sensible way forward.” Indeed, it is the sensible way forward and . . .  

There had been no full disclosure to the Archbishop of Canterbury at that time.  

In Mr. Schofield's address to the convention, prior to the vote of secession, he stated this:

For twenty years and more we have watched The Episcopal Church lose its way: straying, at first, from Scripture... to the point of dismissing the Word of God, in some instances, as mere historical documents – of value, perhaps in bygone eras – but no longer applicable to us, to appropriating powers to itself through the General Convention it had never had and, finally, on to unilateral decisions about theology, sexuality, and ordination potentially cutting itself off from the Anglican Communion."

To date, and for the foreseeable future the Episcopal Church will NOT be cut off from the Anglican Communion by the only person that matters, the Archbishop of Canterbury.  And, by the way, if one reads the History of the Episcopal Church in the United States by Manross we have had these running discussions with Anglo-Catholics, Evangelicals, High Church, Low Church, everybody church since the inception of the Episcopal Church and to date no one has been "cutoff".  

Hey as an interesting side note.  Try this one on:

On November 16 and 17, 2006 the Steering Committee of the Global South, meeting in Chantilly, Virginia, 

What, pray tell, is a province that represents South America doing holding a meeting in Virginia?!  And, allowing diocese that have not even completed the process of "secession" being offered a place to hide.  Yep, a bird walk I know, but just asking.

Then there is this little gem:

The Primates request, through the Presiding Bishop, that the House of Bishops of The Episcopal Church 
1. make an unequivocal common covenant that the bishops will not authorise any Rite of Blessing for same-sex unions in their dioceses or through General Convention; and  

The primates hold no authority in our church.  In fact, the Archbishop of Canterbury describes himself as one the first of equals.  There has never been a need for this type of ROMAN domination.  Bishops have always been free to theological form their own diocese.  If this were not the case how was Mr. Schofield able to keep from ordaining women all those twenty years?  This ladies and gentlemen, is what I believe is known in some circles as a "STRAWDOG".  

Found in that same document:

 We also urge both parties to give assurances that no steps will be taken to alienate property from The Episcopal Church without its consent or to deny the use of that property to those congregations.
  Did anyone follow this little ditty?  I think not.  In fact, Mr. Schofield sold St. Dunstan's with the idea that he needed a "legal warchest".  When next you see him, ask him where this money is?  

Again, in JDS message to convention:
"If it is property that seems to be your main concern, if you are incorporated and a parish, you own your own property. You, or others before you, bought the land, built the church, have maintained the buildings and grounds, and your name is on the title deed. "

Well, it turns out in the case of St. Francis, one of the parishes that meets the above requirements, JDS not only drove out the Rector but then established a defrocked priest as the rector for the parish.  When called on it all he could say was "I do not know that".  And proceeded to destroy the parish family.  No matter what side you are on in the debacle, you must admit that the parish family of St. Francis of Turlock is a mere shadow of its former self.  

and finally, JDS ends this message with this little ditty:

"In the end, it is all about freedom."

Now that you all have had a chance to watch for over a year, is it all about freedom?  Or maybe, it is about JDS continuing to be bishop beyond retirement age.  Maybe it is about power and money?  Maybe it is not about Anglicanism and maybe it is about "doing his own thing".  

This is just the surface.  If you live in San Joaquin please go back to JDS' pages and look for resources and then read all the documents again.  Then make up your own mind.  Is it about you and your church and your beliefs or is it about Mr. Schofield and power and money and glory and prestige?

Hey Mr. Schofield, answer the phone,  it is your conscience calling!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

ADVENT A TIME OF ANTICIPATION

Advent is a time of waiting.  A time when we can with almost joyful anticipation look ahead to the coming of our Saviour.  Not just in birth but in that renewal we know Jesus will bring.  In the spirit of advent, let's look ahead to the new province and compare just a wee bit.

Liturgy:
  ACNA:  Well, it appears your liturgy is stuck in and around the 1600's.  I would expect black cassocks and white amices for everyone.  It appears that you all will get more emphasis on the word of God and what that all means.

  TEC: We have more emphasis on Eucharist and eating a blessed meal together.  Enjoying each others company and looking forward to taking that loving caring kindness out into the world to share with ALL our friends and neighbors.

Bible:
   ACNA:  You have much to look forward to here also.  Your 2009 will abound in the righteousness and justice of God.  In the unerring voice that punishes all those who cannot keep each and every commandment.  You will once again get to have the issues of sex and sexuality thrust upon you and as the glue that holds you separate and apart from all the rest of the world.  This will allow you to continue to believe that you are God's chosen people and no one else is going to get into heaven but you guys.

   TEC:  We will allow ourselves to grow incrementally as we each read and inwardly digest that beautiful love poem that God has written for each of us.  We will grow as the love poem springs new each day that we read it and gives us new meaning.  It will allow us to open our arms and our hearts as we graciously accept each and everyone of God's beautifully handcrafted servants and as we inclusively lift our voices in joy and fulfillment.  As we follow the two great commandments and hope and pray that Jesus, our saviour, has a unique place for each of us.

Outreach
    ACNA:  You may not have to worry here.  You may not do much because the primates, once they review each purported "project" may find each and every one of them wanting for one reason or another, probably the most prevalent reason will be that of apostasy.  Can't help those who won't help themselves.  This will in turn keep most of your hard earned and hard worked for funds home, i.e., in the diocese and provinces own pocketbook.

   TEC:  Better dig deep brothers and sisters because the millennium development goals are only coming to the foreground in a real sense now.  And not only must we look abroad but we must also look to home. Yep, our neighbors are going to need some real assistance.  But out of this one thing is sure and that is the joy that comes from Christian giving.  And we remember that Christ has taught us that when we give it returns to us 70 fold.  Yes, we have very much to look forward to in outreach.

Evangelism:
     ACNA:  You folks are staring up a delightful road.  Get your broomsticks out and get on those street corners and drum up some business.  The primates need for you guys to get out there and preach that the only good Episcopalian is a fallen away one.  The only good Christian is one that builds on hate and despair.  That Anglicans do not necessarily associate with the Archbishop of Canterbury.  That you are the church of tomorrow even as you preach the gospel of yesterday.

   TEC:  Here we are in the process of remaking evangelism.  Seek out Father Terry's blog http://fathertlistenstotheworld.blogspot.com/  if you want details but we will look toward preaching the love God has for all mankind and that TEC welcomes everyone seeking to know God and to develop a continuing relationship with God.  It may be tough because we do not look to the outcome as much as we look to the process and what we must focus on rather than what the hearer must do.

Advent is a time of coming.  Come Holy Spirit fill our hearts with that joyful love that knows no bounds.  Give us the grace to build our relationship with our Father and our brothers.  Help us to spread the good news a Christ our saviour.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

A MODEST PROPOSAL

So here we go.  There may be something going on and there may not.  No one knows for sure or at least ain't nobody talking.  We continue to see the devastation reeked on San Joaquin, Fort Worth, Quincy, and Pittsburgh.  The saber is rattled in places like Louisiana and Ohio.  So, at some risk let's put forth a modest proposal for the next few months in The Episcopal Church.  How about an ad hoc committee that would work for no more than 33 months total.  The funding for all the basic needs of the committee would come from TEC.  Basic needs include travel, room and board, secretarial, incidental expenses for office/paper products and publishing stuff.  The committee is comprised of Fr. Mark Harris, Fr. James Simon, Fr. Mark Hall, Fr. Terry Martin, Fr. Rich Cluett, Deacon George Cano, and a clergy person from Fort Worth and from Quincy.  Also add Fr. Dan Martins for the loyal opposition (though I could be talked out of this).  Each clergy person appoints no more than three lay persons to work on the committee as well.  Experts to be called as needed.  The charge would be twofold:


1, stave off the bleeding by whatever means are necessary within the general confines of the constitution and canons of the Episcopal Church;

2, reconcile and reconstitute each of the diocese that have been split,

3, regularly published reports on a monthly basis and regular reporting to the Executive Committee by Fr. Harris. 

The committee will create a detailed agenda within 2 months of the appointment and convening of the committee.  

Initial plan of action to be developed within the first 12 months and implementation to begin within the first 24 months.

Final results and report back to the Executive Council and the Presiding Bishop within 33 months.  

If you have a better idea, would love to hear it.  Status quo is not an option.

Friday, December 5, 2008

**&%$##!@! PROGRESS?

From an earlier post Father Terry writes:

"No one is being abandoned. Those at the local level are indeed being included in the decision making process.

I know this time is painful. But please do not assume that anyone is being forgotten. That is not the case.

I commend to you Fr. Rick Cluett, who will be offering pastoral care to all of the reorganizing dioceses, for specific answers to your concerns."

And just as sure as the Son rises this comes from Episcopal Life On-Line:

The Ven. Richard Cluett named to new position to assist reorganizing dioceses

You may read the article here:

http://www.episcopalchurch.org/81831_103243_ENG_HTM.htm

As you read the article pay close attention to the job description. Fr. Cluett sounds like a very capable and very thoughtful selection but what is he going to do? Well he is going to help those diocese reorganizing and reconstituting ourselves. That is great but what does it mean? Here are just a few questions for general contemplation:

* What exactly is he going to do? Basic job description. Who drafted this job description and did anyone from any of the diocese he is going to help have any input into the functions?

* Prior to Fr. Cluett's appointment was a plan of action formulated and if so by whom and did any of the diocese have any input into the plan?

* Will the staff, including Fr. Cluett, be compensated by those diocese that he is to help? Will he be paid separately from a national account or will he be paid from the funds allocated by the Executive Council for all of us this year?

* What type of powers does Fr. Cluett have? For example, could he merge all the current diocese reconstituting into a single diocese? Could he blend those four diocese into other existing neighboring diocese? Is he staff to all the bishops of these diocese or are the bishops supporting Fr. Cluett?

* How long is Fr. Cluett's tenure and what are his measures of success? Is he for reconciliation purposes, litigation purposes, organizational purposes, or liturgical purposes?

* Anybody ask the existing diocese what we want/need/ can use? Anybody form an ad hoc committee of all those affected by these machinations for the purpose of continuing those diocese and for the purpose of developing a plan to stave off any more of this nonsense?

* Anybody want to back this stuff up so we can move forward all together?

Thursday, December 4, 2008

ABANDONMENT AS A PLAN OF ACTION

We have arrived at the first anniversary of the attempt by John David Schofield and his henchmen to take the diocese of San Joaquin "south for the winter". In addition, the bishops from the diocese of Forth Worth, Quincy, and Pittsburgh have also decided that "going south for the winter" was a good idea.

In all of the machinations from both our beloved Episcopal Church and from the reasserters, a policy, a manner of approach is coming clear. It appears that we are being abandoned. At a minimum, benign neglect and at worst, abandonment. Now, before everyone goes crazy about this let's look at the facts. First, the reasserter side. In San Joaquin we have a wonderful bishop, Jerry Lamb, who is doing all he can to pull this diocese together after a horrendous first few months. The laity and clergy left behind in the aftermath of the split up of the diocese is suffering from post traumatic stress syndrome brought on by the insensitivity with which Mr. Schofield and ++Venables has treated them. The selling of churches out from underneath parishes, the locking out of the clergy and laity of their own churches, the mean-spirited way in which those that occupy the buildings treat those that have been removed is all well documented. When confronted with these actions, those that have gone with John David are silent. They clearly do not give a damn about the toll in human suffering they have caused. They refuse to answer the human question. Questions about God's love for us and our response. They refuse to answer questions about the ethical and Godly treatment of our fellow LGBT Episcopalians as they continue to heap abuse upon them. The Schofield, Venables, Akinola, Duncan, Iker, Orambi, Wantland, Ackerman, etal group simply believes that "what is a few dead people" along the path to righteousness. Their path is clear, their plan is out in the open and they believe that if they run a few people down in order to get their the sacrifice is well worth it.

I have grown to understand why they cannot deal in human suffering. If they stopped to deal in the toll that they have exacted along the way they might become distracted from their main destiny -- power and prestige, Lord knows they cannot have that!

But what of our friends? What of the Episcopal Church? Where are they? What are they doing to slow down and stop this inane trip to Argentina, Nigeria, Uganda or Australia? Well, it appears they have cooled to the idea that we need help. Let's take a look at but one of our Executive Council's ideas about what is going on:

Father Mark Harris, a member of the Executive Committee has given us this rationale for the split:

"Hostility is a good motivator, but as a sustainable and rational basis for creative new understandings of a faith community it fails miserably."

Explain this to those who lost their church, had it sold out from underneath them. On a global perspective you may indeed be correct but in the microcosm it destroys the lives of those who were in that church.

and then this:

"First most of the fight is irrelevant at best and obscene at worse. Outside a small circle of friends and enemies who give a damn about all this, the world’s issues are of much greater importance, and the churches’ issues much less importance, for this to make any difference in their lives. Even the plan as played out in the forgoing appears as an absurdity and an irrelevance."

Apparently, those of us in those diocese of Pittsburgh, Quincy, Fort Worth and San Joaquin are merely irrelevant -- we are fighting an obscene fight and who is it that doesn't give a damn about us?

and this:

"For many people, including my family and most of the people I love, the machinations of the Anglican Communion or its churches, as regards the current possibilities of a split in the Communion, are mildly interesting but of no ultimate importance. They are right."

See, those of us left behind would be more important to Father Harris if we were members of his family? Hey, we are members of your family -- we are Episcopalians Father Harris. I thought that made us members of your family!

"“So what?” Very little will change in what we do or how we proclaim the Gospel because of the plots and plans of those who have left.""

For those of us in San Joaquin very much has changed. Friends have turned into foes. How we look at this world and how we treat each other has been radically altered. Trusted clergy are now suspect. The joyful trips on Sundays are for some, grim reminders of a terrible time. We now ask, as we pass a church, "Is that an Episcopal church or a church that is Southern Cone?"

"We are very proud of who we are and what we have done and our stance on Bishop Robinson, on full inclusion and on women's ordination has put us in an unenviable position apparently."

So are we! But we are also proud of our inclusiveness of our parishes and we miss the multiplicity of voices that have historically echoed in our halls. We want to stay open and positive and working hard or the kingdom of God. But we are slowly drifting, swirling around the drain.

"But when they have finished doing whatever it is that they purport to do, there will still be The Episcopal Church, the Anglican Church of Canada, and churches throughout the world that remain willing to work together as the Anglican Communion we know and to which we belong. "

What about the rest of us? Where will we be? Last year the Executive Council sent a little under $600,000.00 to San Joaquin. This year the Executive Council will send a little over $700,000.00 to San Joaquin, Fort Worth, Quincy, and Pittsburgh. What have they done to stave the tide? Nothing. What have they done to slow the process down? Nothing. What have they done to bring us back into the Episcopal Church? Not much. The presiding Bishop, ++Katherine is concerned. But it appears that as a plan of action abandonment is the best the Executive Council can come up with, after all, we are just some back water places that are irrelevant.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

We're on a bit of a break from Real Anglicans. Stop by and visit us at our other blogs: Off-Topic Allowed or Father Scott & Company.