Tuesday, November 30, 2010

No Gurls Allowed!

MadPriest was quoted in detail at Friends of Jake on the issue of Gene Robinson and his consecration to the episcopate.  MadPriest is effusive of his praise of +Robinson and rightfully so.  All of what is said both at Friends of Jake and at OCICBW are right and true.

But, do you suppose there may be at least one unintended consequence?  The fallout being the pushing to the side of the issue of women's ordination and consecration?  The LGBT issue comes to the front burner and begins to actually be accepted when suddenly the issue of women's consecration rears it's head again but this time it is in the form of a "primate" or, as we know it, our Presiding Bishop Katherine Jefferts Schori?  When Bishop Robinson was consecrated a lot actually did happen (see above) but from the Anglican Communion crowd all we got was a bunch more hot air from the usual blowhards and then suddenly, the "men" had to be subservient to "that woman".  Everyone now moves more quickly than anyone expected -- I mean John David Schofield hadn't move that fast since he last flew in a jet plane and yet had his diocese out and gone before a miter could hit the floor!

The primates then decided that they could not be at the Eucharistic table with her and now we have this wonderful little ditty courtesy of David Anderson:

The Rt. Rev. David C. Anderson, Sr. President and CEO, American Anglican Council, had a different perspective . . .saying, "I would strongly advise the orthodox Primates to 1) organize before the Primates' meeting, and 2) attend and remove by force of numbers the Presiding Bishop of the American Episcopal Church (not physically, but by either voting her off the "island," or recessing to another room and not letting her in). The meeting is a place to gather and potentially to settle some of the issues that are pulling the Anglican Communion apart, and to begin to restore health to a most wonderful communion.
Can you imagine this?  It sounds like a bunch of boys playing in a backyard treehouse and someone's sister came out and wanted to play only to discover that the "boys" had a sign out that said:

Then the "boys" pulled up the rope ladder and believed they were safely ensconced in their own little world.  When lots of folks called the primates on this issue they countered with the Anglcian Covenant.  Now they want to do everything in their power to punish perhaps, not TEC  per se but rather +Katherine Jefferts Schori specifically, in effect "putting her in her place." It's got to be a "man thing", just ask +Peter Akinola.  After all a woman's place is barefoot and pregnant and in the kitchen.   Women should not be found taking care of "men's business" in the Anglican Communion.  Look at who has left the the Anglican Communion and where have they gone?  To Rome! 

What does this mean?  Well, let's assume the Anglican Communion is gone -- which it is and now there is a new "Anglican Communion" made up of all the boys in the treehouse and they are not letting any women in.

This is the "boyz" only group.
As far as don't ask don't tell is concerned -- they haven't taken a survey yet.  Perhaps they can call on the Secretary of the Defense.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

The Anglican Communion Equation Grows More Complicated

The last equation to hit the blog was No Anglican Communion = (Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral) minus the (Jerusalem Declaration). Apparently, the Most Reverend Greg Venables did not like that equation, or rather, it was not sufficiently complicated, so he, in the name of the GAFCON/Confessing Anglicans decided to make it a little more complicated. They have since added the Oxford Statement. so what does the new equation look like:

No Anglican Communion = (Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral plus Primates meeting[including Presiding Bishop Katherine Jefferts Schori] plus [Separate meeting Rooms]) minus (Jerusalem Declaration plus (Oxford Statement) plus [Primates Meeting minus 10 Global South Primates])

If, for some reason, you doubt for one more moment that the Anglican Communion is not dead (just not buried) here is an excerpt from the Oxford Statement:

3. We believe that we are now entering a new era for the Anglican Communion. New ways of living out our common life are emerging as old structures are proven to be ineffective in confronting the challenges of living in a pluralistic global community. We rejoice in the call of the Jerusalem Declaration for a renewed commitment to the authority of scripture and the centrality of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Sadly the rejection of these historic anchors to our faith has brought us to a crisis in the life of the Communion.

And this,

5. For the sake of Christ and of His Gospel we can no longer maintain the illusion of normalcy and so we join with other Primates from the Global South in declaring that we will not be present at the next Primates’ meeting to be held in Ireland. And while we acknowledge that the efforts to heal our brokenness through the introduction of an Anglican Covenant were well intentioned we have come to the conclusion the current text is fatally flawed and so support for this initiative is no longer appropriate.

And, should you think that Canterbury has any sway or power in this battle take a look at the BOLD statement from the Oxford thingy:

7. The Primates Council, as bishops of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, wish to affirm the reality of human sin and divine judgment, the only way of salvation from sin through the death of the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross, the sufficiency and clarity of Holy Scripture as the revelation of God’s will, and the transforming power of the Holy Spirit as he brings new birth and holiness of life.

Isn't it nice to know we have a group that can determine what sin is for us? More importantly, the language is clearly dominant and not the least bit deferential to Canterbury or anyone else (at least on this earth).

Also. look at the Jerusalem Declaration (posted above) as it says that the one does not need an Archbishop of Canterbury (sorry John David) to be Anglican (huh?)!
And more yet:

11. We remain convinced that the unique character of GAFCON/FCA with its diversity of cultures and its embrace of the Jerusalem Declaration as a common theological confession is a vital contribution to the future of the global Anglican Communion. We are persuaded that we must offer new initiatives to more effectively respond to the crises that confront us all. We must strengthen our communication capabilities and we are also looking to build partnerships with other denominational churches that share our faith convictions.

And finally, when will GAFCON give the Anglican Communion (as we know it) a Christian burial, we now know that as well:

12. Specifically, we are planning a leadership conference in the latter part of 2011 that will focus on the need to “Contend for the Faith in the Public Square.” We are also beginning preparations for an international gathering of Primates, Bishops, Clergy and Lay leaders in 2012, provisionally designated “GAFCON 2”. To support all of this we have approved the expansion of the Secretariat.
Clearly, the Anglican Communion no longer exists, and while the Archbishop of Canterbury is trying to explain to the Queen where the empire went GAFCON/FCA is "stealing" it out from under his nose. So, what should we be doing?
Episcopalians, we need to step out in faith and begin to lead as we have never done so in the past. With firm conviction, with the moral strength of a David and give Anglicans worldwide a far more inclusive approach to our God than GAFCON/FCA is willing to provide. Now is a good time to begin, don't you think?

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

(Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral) minus (Jerusalem Declaration) = NO Anglican Communion

UPDATE: Reposted with a Title

Here, for the first time ever, is the comparison of the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral with the Jerusalem Declaration.  This, along with the proposed Angliacan Covenant will completely re-create the Anglican Communion in the image of those who, in my humble opinion, least understand it.  The Covenant is not a unity document, it is a document, along with the Jerusalem Declaration that will transform the "Anglican Communion into a Fellowship of Confessing Conealonialists.  If that is what you as an Epsicopalian and a member of the Anglican Communion want, then by all means vote for it.  if, on the other hand, on the off chance you would like to see the historic Anglican communion continue as it has, but with the renewed energy that comes from an all-inclusive, big tent, Christ centered people then actively work to defeat the proposed Anglican Covenant.
Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral
1.The Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, as "containing all things necessary to salvation," and as being the rule and ultimate standard of faith.

2. The Apostles' Creed, as the Baptismal Symbol; and the Nicene Creed, as the sufficient statement of the Christian faith.

3. The two Sacraments ordained by Christ Himself — Baptism and the Supper of the Lord — ministered with unfailing use of Christ's Words of Institution, and of the elements ordained by Him.

4. The Historic Episcopate, locally adapted in the methods of its administration to the varying needs of the nations and peoples called of God into the Unity of His Church.
Jerusalem Declaration
1. We rejoice in the gospel of God through which we have been saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit. Because God first loved us, we love him and as believers bring forth fruits of love, ongoing repentance, lively hope and thanksgiving to God in all things.

2. We believe the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be the Word of God written and to contain all things necessary for salvation. The Bible is to be translated, read, preached, taught and obeyed in its plain and canonical sense, respectful of the church’s historic and consensual reading.

3. We uphold the four Ecumenical Councils and the three historic Creeds as expressing the rule of faith of the one holy catholic and apostolic Church.

4. We uphold the Thirty-nine Articles as containing the true doctrine of the Church agreeing with God’s Word and as authoritative for Anglicans today.

5. We gladly proclaim and submit to the unique and universal Lordship of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, humanity’s only Saviour from sin, judgement and hell, who lived the life we could not live and died the death that we deserve. By his atoning death and glorious resurrection, he secured the redemption of all who come to him in repentance and faith.

6. We rejoice in our Anglican sacramental and liturgical heritage as an expression of the gospel, and we uphold the 1662 Book of Common Prayer as a true and authoritative standard of worship and prayer, to be translated and locally adapted for each culture.

7. We recognise that God has called and gifted bishops, priests and deacons in historic succession to equip all the people of God for their ministry in the world. We uphold the classic Anglican Ordinal as an authoritative standard of clerical orders.

8. We acknowledge God’s creation of humankind as male and female and the unchangeable standard of Christian marriage between one man and one woman as the proper place for sexual intimacy and the basis of the family. We repent of our failures to maintain this standard and call for a renewed commitment to lifelong fidelity in marriage and abstinence for those who are not married.
9. We gladly accept the Great Commission of the risen Lord to make disciples of all nations, to seek those who do not know Christ and to baptise, teach and bring new believers to maturity.

11. We are mindful of our responsibility to be good stewards of God’s creation, to uphold and advocate justice in society, and to seek relief and empowerment of the poor and needy.

12. We are committed to the unity of all those who know and love Christ and to building authentic ecumenical relationships. We recognise the orders and jurisdiction of those Anglicans who uphold orthodox faith and practice, and we encourage them to join us in this declaration.

13. We celebrate the God-given diversity among us which enriches our global fellowship, and we acknowledge freedom in secondary matters. We pledge to work together to seek the mind of Christ on issues that divide us.

14. We reject the authority of those churches and leaders who have denied the orthodox faith in word or deed. We pray for them and call on them to repent and return to the Lord.

15. We rejoice at the prospect of Jesus’ coming again in glory, and while we await this final event of history, we praise him for the way he builds up his church through his Spirit by miraculously changing lives.

Monday, November 22, 2010

FCA: Fellowship of Confessing Conealonialist Anglicans

Wow, sometimes I am absolutely amazed and the sheer audacity of some folks!  Over at the Fellowship of Conealonialist Anglicans Bishop John Rodgers has decided that the Anglican Covenant is not acceptable to them for some of the following reasons.

the Primates are not the body to oversee compliance, the Standing Committee,is and the committee has historic standing in the Communion.

Where in the world did that come from?  We all just assumed that the primates were a bit power hungry and if there was any doubt this has removed it.  Never mind the Standing Committee, just hand over the jewels to the Primates, after all, who could possibly know better than Peter Akinola and Henri Orombi and Rowan Williams and Greg Venables to name a few.  Hell, they would not even sit down with a woman for fear of cooties, why would I want them adjudicate anything of real meaning.  Look at the countries they represent and tell me that they stand between the devil and the high road?  I think not.

Then there is this even more astounding comment:

it would be strengthened were the Jerusalem Declaration added to the standard of Faith to which all signers were committed and held accountable.

A rather self-serving document written by at least one canon from the Anglican diocese of San Joaquin and with no input from half (or more ) of the Anglican Communion. Lest you think I am kidding, here, in his own words (Bill Gandenberger, former Episcopal priest) from the blog Soundings:
I am writing you on the last day of the GAFCON, or Global Anglican Future Conference, in Jerusalem. It has been a long 10 days since the Bishop and I arrived, with the bulk of my time spent in our hotel, working with the other delegates on a statement that will provide the groundwork for a new, biblically orthodox, mission-focused, global Anglican movement. The Final GAFCON Statement

And then there is this charming little ditty:

It is clear that the revisionists are allergic to any covenant that would interfere with their autonomy, not only in things secondary but in the primary matters of the Gospel
Apparently living up to the gospel of full inclusion: "and the second is like unto it, love your neighbor as yourself.  On these two commandments hang all the laws and the prophets." is not what the Global South Primates and GAFCON have in mind.  They would prefer to be true to scripture and make everyone live down to the Jerusalem Declaration.

So the reason that GAFCON and the Global South Primates will not sign on the the Anglican Covenant  is because they do not get to be the judge, jury and executioner for those who "do wrong". 

My final question for this group is:  "Who died and left you God?"

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Constraints of the Anglican Covenant

For openers, I strongly encourage each to read the following essay on line: The Church Idea.  Just what is this vague but intriguing work?  Well, it is an essay written by William Reed Huntington ( a priest and not a bishop) and is the basis for the Chicago Quadrilateral, that statement adopted first by our House of Bishops and then by the Lambeth Conference, all back in the 1870-1880s.  I believe it is as timely today, right now, as it was back then.  It addresses among other things, the uniquely American experience that is centered in the first amendment to the Constitution of the United States.  It makes a very clear distinction between how and why we as Americans are governed and every other country including, by inference such places as Nigeria, Uganda, Argentina, and yes, even merry-olde England.  If you read no other part, read the American Problem.   It also discusses such issues as Romanism, Puritanism and the DREADED liberalism. 

This very fine work turns out to discuss the very same issues that we are discussing today and while the names have been changed to protect the guilty, we are still hashing and re-hashing the same points and counter points.  Let me add as a footnote, the William Reed Huntington was the primary mover and shaker that back in the 19th century wanted women as deaconesses and through patience and persistence got it and became a haven for women to become more included in the full life of the church.

There are two brief points I would like to make.  First, we really did settle this argument a long time ago with the Chicago Quadrilateral and I have heard, read, seen, or been privy to any  new arguments that would make an Anglican Covenant necessary.  We already have the four main points and do not need any more, at least based on the Huntington work.  Don't take my word for it though, read it and see what you formulate.  This Church Idea is a brilliant work that covers all the bases including the "need" for something that looks like the 39 Articles -- folks it is in there, it is included in the Quadrilateral.

The second point is perhaps a more pressing argument for today.  The point behind this Anglican Covenant is supposedly one unifying, in essence "rally round the flag boys" kind of issue.  This is so that when we approach other denominations approach us on issues of unity they (the other denomination) understands what and who we are.  Here is the rub.  The original Quadrilateral posed stumbling blocks of universality back in the 1880s and it had the four points we all know and love.  With the newest proposed Anglican Covenant those stumbling blocks become larger.  How so?  Well, we are in effect setting up a a ruling junta not unlike the Roman "magisterium".  The more formal but inconsequential power structures the Anglican Communion sets up the more likely they will become additional impediments to coming together.  One of the major issues with ARCIC is not the Pope per se but rather the magisterium, check it out.  So, what is it that we are doing?  The Anglican Communion removed the Episcopal presence on the Faith and Unity Commission thinking that it was a impediment to the ARCIC program.  The proposed power structure for the Anglican Communion becomes just as great an impediment. 

So, what is the upshot?  We have the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral and it dealt with all the issues that we are re-visiting today.  If pithy is best, then we need to stay with the quadrilateral and leave all this other nonsense alone.  If, on the other hand, this really is a power grab and an extreme effort to wreak havoc by those who have power (or about to get it) on those who have no power then isn't that reason to not approve the Covenant as well?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Who Says The Anglican Communion is Broken?

There has been an incredible amount of talk about the Anglican Communion and the Anglican Covenant.  Much discussion has circled around the Anglican Covenant.  But who says the Anglican Communion needs a covenant?  Who says the Anglican Communion is dysfunctional?  Who says the Communion is broken?

Perhaps, just perhaps, the Anglican Communion is functioning as it always has and as it always should! Whenever there is a problem to be fixed the first thing one ought to do is name the problem.  I have heard no one name the problem, have you?  If one cannot name the problem then how is one to fix it?  How is one to determine what the fix is if no one can determine what the problem is? 

So what is the problem?  Some groups do not like women's ordination though it has been around throughout the communion for thirty or more years.  Others do not like the issue full inclusion -- though there is sound biblical grounding for that.  Still others think divorce is either a big thing or no thing depending on who and where you are.  And still others do not like the Book of Common Prayer as developed and used in one or more provinces.  And so what do we do?  We argue and sometimes we yell and sometimes we scream at and by and through each other.  Sometimes we are not civil and sometimes some of us lose our tempers and refuse to go to the rail with the rest of us.

Sounds to me like one big family trying to live with each other.  See, I come from a family with 7 siblings and two parents and the escapades that go on both now and in the past are pretty much the escapades that go on inside the Anglican Communion.  And let's face it, relationships are not just built on hugs and kisses they are also built on arguments and making up. 

So what is the problem?  I do not think there is a problem and therefore no fix is necessary.  True, some within the family do not want to argue -- so would rather have this nice and smooth sailing for ever and ever.  They are the ones that do not want to argue and discuss and kind of spit and chew.  But there are those in every family.  They are the ones that can't stand messy messes.  But our communion is built on messy messes.  That is how we grow and live and learn and ultimately get closer.  Making up gets to be that much more fun (well most of the time). 

So what should we do?  We just continue to live our lives as we see the gospel leading us - here and abroad.  Those that are having hissy-fits can continue to have hissy-fits and if they must leave they must leave (keep in mind the prodigal son story).  We and the rest of the communion just move forward in love and discussion.  We continue the dialogue as we have and we continue to move -- sometimes in our own ways and sometimes together.  Isn't that what the communion is all about?  Isn't that what family is all about?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Episcopal Diocese of San JoaURAquin

Well, everyone, ya just can't make this stuff up.  The current Provincial head of the Southern Cone, just happens to be the bishop of Uruguay and they want to ordain women.  Certainly a just cause.  In point of fact, their provincial constitution "supposedly" allows for churches to expressly do this.  My initial reaction is to say, What the ????

Then good sense and an eye toward connecting the dots takes over and I calm down and things look different. 

First, the Province of the Southern Cone was just this month "punished" for their cross border excursions.

Second, the provincial head IS the Bishop of Uruguay.  He wants to "break away" from the province and find a home some place else?

Third, the issue is women's ordination???  The very reason why some of the diocese in TEC fled to the Southern Cone.  Certainly John David Schofield and Jack Iker.

The diocese of Uruguay -- does it have a parliamentary style of governance similar to TEC?  Probably not, but I do not know.

What happens if Uruguay is picked up by the Diocese of San Joaquin or by TEC?  NOW we have the cross border excursion problem and they (Southern Cone) would point out very quickly that they are doing nothing more than what we are doing.  Still, the dust settles and TEC has the issue of full inclusion which lots of folks including the Southern Cone don't like. 

What happens if we do not pick up Uruguay?  A bishop, in good conscience could still ordain women.  Bishops in TEC did it years ago, why not the Bishop of Uruguay?  What then?  Greg Vulnerable has to sit on it and rotate?  Right? 

No, I propose we let them stew in their own juices for  a while.  Uruguay can still do what they want to do without aid from us -- at least for the time being. 

The Episcopal Church, The Anglican Church of Canada and the "The Episcopal Church Covenant"

I am genuinely unclear on why the Anglican Covenant continues to get so much "air time".  That which I read indicates that pretty much everyone knows that the document, such as it is, is designed to:
1, at a minimum rehabilitate the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada, or
2, remove these two entities from at least the top layer of the Anglican Communion; and,
3, further send more Episcopal diocese to the "other" provinces including the Wizard of Ahs province and Archduck Robert Duncan and the ACNA; and,
4, setup the Wizard of Ahs, Archduck Robert Duncan as the new "presiding bishop" of the newly minted Anglican Church in North America as the real province of the United States.

Given all of that hooey, and the fact that some folks, like Dr. White from Louisiana actually like the concept of a covenant, are we not working on a version that will clearly and unequivocally keep all the provinces from crossing borders and stealing diocese, property and money.  Also, including in that document the fact that when a person of orders is deposed by a duly authorized and empowered source such as the Episcopal Church in the United States of America not fully and completely deposed in all the Anglican Communion.  And also including in that document a little something that "satisfies the soul" when sneaky back-stabbing  clergy come around from behind the presiding bishop and slip off to Canterbury to tell the Archbishop of Canterbury "it really is all those other Episcopal people and not us types that insist they are the good guys and can't they please take over when the rest of the Communion throws out the Episcopal Church "-- yep the Commode Partners needs a little something in the new Episcopal Covenant for them to chew on. 

Once a good document is written, I cannot imagine it would take much time, we could use the Anglican Covenant as a "go by" since a bunch of folks seem enamoured with that Introduction at least, and then begin to lobby the world over for the acceptance and ratification of the Episcopal Covenant. 

We as a province need to bring in the Church of Canada and begin to visit the world over and have those who would pass the Anglican Covenant pass the Episcopal Covenant.  What are we doing that will solve the Gordian knot?  We need to sidestep the stupid document called the Anglican Covenant and begin to exert some leadership overtly in the rest of the world.  We need to markedly demonstrate to the rest of the Communion that we are following the path of Christ and that we are not hiding our light under a bushel basket. Now seems about as good a time to start as any.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

God Does Not Depend On Me (or the Anglican Communion)

Let me start with a huge disclaimer that this may go far astray.  I am not a theologian.  I know that truly great minds, far greater than mine, have tackled this issue and been only mildly successful, depending on how one defines success.  However, on occasion, it is good to stray out of our comfort zone and to allow others to perhaps help set me straight on some very, very basic issues.Hold the cries of heretic and the resounding denunciations at least for a little while.

God, as I know and understand the concept, the person, the almighty, omniscient and omni-present being does not depend on me for his (or her) existence.  God knows me and perhaps knew me before I was even born but I did not know him until a little thing called sanctifying grace came along and moved me in his direction.  In point of fact, God's existence does not depend on any of us at any time for any reason.  To somehow say something else, or believe something else, shrinks God to our size.  My God, and I hope your God, is much, much much larger than that!  The God I now know, can perform miracles.  Did so in the past and does so now and will continue to do so in the future whether I believe it or not.

What God asks of me, more than anything else is to enter into a richly rewarding relationship with him and through him with my neighbor.  These relationships are not based on what church I attend or what communion I belong to or even what version of the bible or Koran or any other book I read.  It is based on the concept that God is my God, I am his child and my need to love, honor, cherish, obey and follow him wherever he leads me is paramount.  And, that every other person on the face of this earth is also a child of God (whether they know it or not, whether they accept it or not, whether they believe it or not).  And again, God's existence does not depend on this either.  But as such, God wants me to be in a "right" relationship with my brothers and sisters.  In fact, all His creation!

Yes, I do use my relationship with God, my church and my "religion" and a bible to help me discern this relationship.  I am too weak, too fragile, to ignorant and too sinful to believe for even one moment that I can do this all by myself.  So I talk to God, yep, I talk with God. Prayer is the most powerful thing I have ever come across.  It quite literally has saved my life at least once.  So, the very first thing I use is, of all the silly things, my relationship with my God to help me understand and grow in that relationship.   In effect, I ask God what I should be doing to create a more perfect union between God and me and me and my neighbor.

I also have figured out that God has called me to worship him in the most pure and heartfelt manner that I can find.  And I do that as Moslems do that, as Hindi do that, as Buddists do that.  See, the relationship I have with my God creates a need for me to be a Christian just as the need in others creates a need for them to be whatever they have discerned God is asking them to be.  This is what I call reason.  I could be wrong but reason, for me is the expression of how I understand what God has shared with me in prayer and how I put that into action.

Because of this selection I use a Bible and follow Christ.  I could have used a Koran and followed Mohammed or the I Ching and followed Lao Tzu but while many millions of others have, I have picked a different path.  The path I picked is, only in my opinion better because that is what, through prayer, I have discerned God wants me to do.  I do not think for one second any one else has picked another path simply to irritate me or God. 

The book I read, the Bible comes in many forms, or at least many translations.  Unfortunately for me, I do not read or speak or write any of the ancient languages I find the original documents to be written in.  If I did I do not think I would be a whole lot better off because I still need to read and discern the will of God and these books while great and I believe inspired only help me with my conversations with God.  You know what, sometimes I find that the passages are contradictory, conflicting and very confusing.  So what do I do?  I go back and open another dialog with, you guessed it, God.  And I hope and pray that what I finally determine is the right path is indeed the right path -- but keep in mind it does not change God, it only changes me.   

One thing I find immutable at this point in my life.  There are two great commandments.  I find that Moses had ten and gave us all ten but those ten can be reduced to the two that Jesus gave us.  First, love God with all your heart and all your mind and all your soul and, love your neighbor as yourself. (On these two commandments hang all the laws and the prophets.)  But even having figured this much out, God's existence does not depend on me and these two commandments, only my relationship with God and my neighbor. 

And so my actions, insofar as they affect my relationship with God and my neighbor depend on those things.  Should there be more?  Can there be more?  What about all the other stuff like tradition and the Anglican Communion and the Archbishop of Canterbury and all that stuff?  Well, that which I have described informs ALL my other actions and decisions.  Notice that I said it informs MY actions and decisions.  I have chosen to be Episcopal/Catholic (another time for that definition). I will say this much, since it has taken me about forever to get here (and I apologize to those who have been here and those who should have been here and were held out for reasons not entirely clear) that in my basic understanding as written about above, no one is excluded from participating.  Not a single solitary soul.   It cannot be, it should not be, it must not be. 

Insofar as the Anglican Communion is concerned, if it promotes that which I have described, then we should keep it.  If it does not, then jettison it just like so much flotsam and jetsam.  The Anglican Communion should promote the healthy relationship between each individual and his/her God.  I do not see that as happening, at least not right now.  It has become an impediment to our journey and should be released.  Nothing terrible will happen.  God will not cease to exist because we do not belong to this Anglican Communion.  Our relationship with our God and our neighbor will not be irreparably damaged if it goes away.  Let others argue about the Covenant and about the Communion, it has become a millstone around our necks.  Time to move on, time to get back to what matters, time to renew our relationship with God and our neighbors -- ALL our neighbors!

A hat tip to Father Mark.  This is your fault (;-).

Saturday, November 13, 2010

The "Brotherhood" of the Clergy

There is a poorly documented at best and perhaps at worst an undocumented, "brotherhood" of priests that has existed since the about the time the Apostles walked the face of this good earth.  While you and I are not directly "privvy" to this "brotherhood" we see it come out in so many bizarre ways today.

First, let us be clear, it is a "brother---hood" and if you would like to know why there is such an uproar in the Communion over women clergy and especially women bishops, you need look no further than the "brotherhood".  Women have broken into the clique that has been dominated by men for centuries.  I am willing to bet you my old favorite "dollars to doughnuts" that Susan Russell, Kathryn Galacia, Elizabeth Keaton and all the other women bump into this about every other day. 

Think back to when you were in middle school and high school and there was this group called the "socs" (short for socialites).  There were secret words and bonds of affection and a circle of protection that blanketed virtually all of them.  And, whoa unto you that tried to get into that group.  Well, this "brotherhood of priests is even more tight and more protective than that group ever was and "no women allowed".  This group has pulled up the ladder and will not allow any women into that group in the Anglican tree houses in Texas and in San Joaquin.

In the most extreme form it looks like Bishop Bennison in Pennsylvania.  It looks like the Roman Catholic protection of so many clergy that have offended God and abuse little children.  (Yes, this brotherhood extends throughout the clergy and without regard to denomination).  It is a "code of honor" that says we are special, we have been set aside for special work and only "we" can judge and condemn or approve those who have done wrong.  It is a group that circles the wagons every time there is an accusation or an issue the "brotherhood" believes will lessen their power hold on the rest of the church.

Gils Frasier writes:

The Church of England – and by that I mean the ordinary man and woman in the pew – is considerably more progressive, on women bishops and gay marriage, than its conservative and often overly fearful leadership. Churchgoers know that the time for change is overdue. And many have come to see this because of the inspiring and compassionate faith of people like Robinson.

For too long Christianity has lent the bigotry of homophobia a cloak of respectability. Robinson is, of course, quite right to shout loudly about those "tragic stories of teenagers who have taken their own lives because religion tells them they are an abomination before God, and who believe their lives are doomed to despair and unhappiness". These days the alibi for this sort of prejudice is called unity – that we mustn't do anything that might upset our conservative brothers and sisters. Indeed, had the covenant existed in the era of the prophets of the Hebrew scriptures, it would have provided a perfect way of muzzling them too.
(My emphasis)

It is this "brotherhood" that is now holding hostage the issue of inclusion.  Whether it's women or LGBT or handicapped or whatever that is different this "brotherhood" has decided that THEY are not worthy of being in with the "socs".  The "brotherhood" has fought long and hard to keep these people out and why?  Because they did not want to give up the "secret handshake". 

                                                (I caught this by secret camera)

Now, guess what?  With full inclusion the "brotherhood" will not only have to let everyone know the secret handshake but many in the brotherhood fear that they will have to protect their new found fellow bishops from the same "harm" and with the same ferocity that they have protected all the "good old boys" for centuries. They hate that -- but more to the point now everyone gets to have power and gee whiz, that is just awful.  How are they going to be "separate and equal" with all these other people getting to come in?

Overturn the "brotherhood", break up the "socs'" clique and I believe everything else will go much more smoothly.  But who is going to do that?  Well, +Gene is just about to retire and he is going to be replaced with that bastion of freedom and inclusivity Father Dan Martins.  What a blow for inclusivity that is! What a step in the direction of fresh air and openness.

Want to know why I recommend the House of Bishops goes away?  Why there should only be a unicameral house?  Look no further than this issue.  Will the bishops give this up willingly?  I do not think so but that is yet to be seen.  Let's hope (better let's pray) someone steps forward and begins the process but believe me the punishment heaped on +Gene will be minor compared to the punishment heaped upon those that step forward to break this "brotherhood" up.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Beyond the Anglican Communion

This little ditty appeared as a segment of the Archbishop of Canterbury's proposal for the "upcoming Primates meeting.  I snatched it from Thinking Anglicans

In a letter to the primates dated Oct 7, Dr. Rowan Williams suggested that given the “number of difficult conversations” and the threat of a boycott of its meetings, a regime of separate but equal facilitated small groups sessions might better serve the primates’ “diverse” perspectives and forestall the substantial “damage” to the communion a full-fledged boycott would entail.

While I would actually love to dissect the issue of "separate but equal" perhaps another time.  The fact is the entire communion is on the verge of a complete breakdown/breakup which is exactly what GAFCON/ACNA/FCA/AMiA and the rest of the alphabet soup folks have worked for over the last 20 years.  They are on the verge of getting their wish.  Notice I did not say win, since no one will win in this mess, in fact the only winners will be those who recreate their own future depending on how each treats the next 18 to 36 months.

What needs to be done. First, the Anglican Covenant needs to be resoundingly rejected in toto.  It would be great to simply ignore this proposed document but it is now absolutely and totally meaningless and therefore no one needs to spend any time on it, except we said we would.  So, we spend a de minimis amount of time and then send the whole thing packing.  It was the figment of the GAFCON imagination to begin with to keep the rest of the communion busy while they did their own nefarious things (and have now succeeded).  There is no reason to even think about this except we said we would and so we need to fulfill the promise.  If you do not see it circling the bowl on a large scale we need to make sure it gets flushed.

Second, we need to redouble our efforts to regain all TEC property and with the falling out about to fall out it should make it easier because there can be no claim to an Anglican Communion and therefore Anglican property if there is no Communion to hang on to.  Good news for The Episcopal Church.

Third, we should now move to consolidate diocese and provinces to take advantage of the economy of scales and to the extent necessary, re-do any bishops out a diocese as suffragan or co-adjutator for other diocese.  The reduced numbers of administrative offices and the possibility of such issues as a national payroll office and other national office consolidated would be most beneficial.

Fourth, those parishes recovered through litigation that are unable to be self-sufficient are either mothballed or sold.    Those mothballed may be returned to working status upon demonstration that their mission status is viable and there is a reasonable opportunity to move to full parish status within three to five years.  Those parishioners returning to the Episcopal Church are not permitted to hold any office in the parish or diocese for a period of no more than five years. 

Fifth, consolidate the house of Bishops with the House of Deputies and become a unicameral house.  Bishops retired are bishops retired and may have seat but no voice or vote in the new house.

Sixth, all new bishops are elected without consent of the new house but only for seven years.  At the end of seven years a bishop may be re-elected and for life but not without the consent of the new unicameral house.

Seventh, job descriptions for bishops are re-written to remove the issues of property and administration from the job.  These duties are fully vested in the Standing Committee and the Diocesan Councils.  This way bishops can concentrate on those issues most near and dear to their hearts, pastoral care.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

For Those Contemplating The Approval of the Anglican Covenant

Let us begin with a statement on the retirement of +Gene Robinson from, as Father Christian has called him, "The Lord High" Peter Jensen (from Australia) the Secretary to GAFCON/FCA:

Statement by Archbishop Peter Jensen

General Secretary of GAFCON/FCA

The agonising dispute in the Anglican Communion is not about Bishop Robinson personally. It is true that his consecration as a Bishop seven years ago was one of the flashpoints for a serious re-alignment of the whole Communion. But many things have happened since then. GAFCON is about the future. It is dedicated to the future of a renewed Anglican Communion centred on the orthodox teaching of the Jerusalem Declaration.

7th November 2010
Find and read the Jerusalem Declaration because you also find out it is not about the Archbishop of Canterbury.  It is not even about sola scriptura.  It is about power.  Who has it, who wants it, who is willing to pay any price to get it.  The group that is "GAFCON/FCA" are the archbishops tired of playing second fiddle to the Episcopal Church in the United States, The Anglican Church of Canada and the Anglican Church of England. 

It is also about those who are willing to follow the folks who are willing to dump TEC, COE, ACC -- yes it is about ACNA and Mr. Duncan and whoa - hold on to your hat - it is about the Communion Partners.  You want to send a message to GAFCON/FCA that we are not going to sit still for this type of power grubbing play they continue to display?  Do not consent to the election of Father Dan Martins.  This will tell them we will not willingly add to the prestige and power of those who are willing to kill the Episcopal Church. 

Monday, November 8, 2010

Bishop Jerry Lamb is Leaving the EPISCOPAL Diocese of San Joaquin


As I mentioned in an earlier post Bishop Jerry Lamb has announced that he will retire after the diocese finds a new provisional bishop later this year.

Today, Bishop Lamb visited our parish for the last time.  It was a fitting occasion.  We celebrated All Saints Day and with that had one baptism and one reception into the Episcopal Church.  I had the great privilege of serving as Bishop Lamb's chaplain for this last visitation.  As I stood next to Bishop Lamb during the baptism and the reception there was not a doubt in my mind that the Spirit was moving in the actions of this great bishop.

Bishop Lamb came to us in the Spring of 2008 as we were reconstituting the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin.  Many may think he is a gentle soul but I think not. Oh to be sure, he loves the people in our diocese and is both gracious and caring.  He has worked very diligently and with great patience and care at bringing us all together once again.  But gentle, I think not.  He has had to stare down some of the most intransigent groups of "Anglicans" this world may ever know.  He has done that with grace and dignity but not particularly with gentleness.

Bishop Lamb came to us as he was retiring from his original diocese in Northern California and at the request of the Presiding Bishop  he came to us.  What a spirit guided decision that was!  To coin an old saw "he kicked down the doors and flung open the windows" on 20 plus years of secrecy and subterfuge and we (The Episcopal Church) are all better for him having done that. 

Today he was gifted a wonderful fishing rod.  If he is as good at trout fishing as he is at people fishing his creel will always be full!  We will miss you deeply Bishop Lamb.  I will miss you Bishop Lamb.  We love you and I will not say "good-bye", but rather, "Until we meet again."

The face of the young man standing at the top of this post is the face of the reconstituted Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin.  Today, at the peace he came into the church and the very first thing he did/said was he pointed right at Bishop Lamb and said, "There is the bishop!"  Truerer words were never spoken.   

Sunday, November 7, 2010

My Covenant (Not Anglican)

All the covenants I have ever made have only been with God, my father as mediated through Jesus Christ my Savior as revealed by the Holy Spirit. None of those currently employed by the various churches in the Anglican Communion including Mr. Akinola, Mr. Orombi, Mr. Jensen, Mr. Rowan Williams, Mr. Cameron, Mr. Venables or any other even closely resembles God in any of the three forms. I therefore submit that I pass on the Anglican Covenant. I suggest that everyone else follow suit.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Job Duty of a Bishop

Brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus, you have heard testimony
given that the Reverend Daniel Martins has been duly and lawfully elected to be a
bishop of the Church of God to serve in the Diocese of Springfield
You have been assured of his suitability and that the Church
has approved him for this sacred responsibility. Nevertheless,
if any of you know any reason why we should not proceed,let it now be made known

Much is still being written about the bishop-elect of the Episcopal Diocese of Springfield, Father Dan Martins. Much of that which is written is not based on personal experience but rather on what they read and what someone has told them. Many think that it is "unfair" and disingenuous of the clergy and laity in the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin. I must say, no I am obliged to say that many of you, most of you have not lived through the horror of a complete breakdown and breakup of some of the most fundamental belief systems one has. Whether Father Martins was the single most important person or just one of many, there can be no doubt he was a significant clergy person in the breakup of the diocese. But I am getting ahead of myself. I wish to approach this on a couple of additional levels.

First, the issue of "where is Father Martins when the chips were down?" Yes, he states that he did everything in his power to convince Bishop John David Schofield that what he was doing, leaving the Episcopal Church was all wrong. Over 20 or more years the drive by John David Schofield has been moving toward the split and Father Martins never had a chance to convince JDS otherwise? Well, Father Joel Miller stayed and fought, Father Glenn Kanestrom, stayed and fought and Father Mark Hall stayed and fought, to name but a few. Father Martins was is just incorrect in saying that there was not base for fighting the bishop. There was a basis and a group for staying and fighting.

Will you boldly proclaim and interpret the Gospel of
Christ, enlightening the minds and stirring up the
conscience of your people?

In addition, and perhaps a less known fact, is the reading public aware that Father Martins actually debated Father Joel Miller at St. Francis Episcopal Church on the efficacy of staying with the Episcopal Church? Father Martins taking the side that it was not in the diocese of San Joaquin's best interest to stay within the Episcopal Church. That not withstanding, IF Father Martin's changed his mind why did he not stay? There was support here for those that stayed, call Father Hall or Father Kanestrom.

Bishop Edward Little talks about how he knows Father Martins very well, and I suppose he should. They served the same Bishop in the same way for much of the same time -- And so did Bishop Mark Lawrence. Father Martins and half a dozen rectors from both Northern Indiana and Springfield (as well as one from the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin) as well as two Bishops, one from South Carolina and one from Springfield belong to the Communion Partners. This group has specifically degraded the presiding bishop and the house of bishops for its actions in deposing bishops that have left the Episcopal Church. In addition, it has, without regard for the Presiding Bishop, gone over and around her to the Archbishop of Canterbury to assure him of their fealty and the erroneous ways of the Episcopal Church. Yet, they are two timid to actually take a significant action that would jeopardize their positions, rather opting to wait and "takeover" by subterfuge.

Will you guard the faith, unity, and discipline of the
Church of God?

Will you share with your fellow bishops in the
government of the whole Church; will you sustain
your fellow presbyters and take counsel with them;
will you guide and strengthen the deacons and all
others who minister in the Church?

Now, there is also the issue of SSB and all that that entails and there are two areas of real concern, or at least there should be.

As a chief priest and pastor, will you encourage and
support all baptized people in their gifts and
, nourish them from the riches of God's
grace, pray for them without ceasing, and celebrate
with them the sacraments of our redemption?

Okay, so you think SSB is bunk, and not a given and whatever? How about the fact that when the chips were down, Father Martins looked around and saw many, many good people, laity and clergy that were significantly hurting and what did he do? He did what any one might do -- he left everyone in the lurch. Maybe he wasn't thinking that this was going to ruin his run for bishop but what about the hurt and the pain that so many people felt during that time when he was still in the diocese of San Joaquin? Weren't they deserving of his love and care?

Finally, the issue of "but the Springfield Diocese has called him and the consents ought to be given." Well, let's not talk about several almost bishops that were not granted consents because they were Buddhist or Hindi or women, or gay, or whatever, lets talk about the stuff that ought to make a bishop. A bishop should be concerned about ALL the diocese and when the going gets tough the bishop ought not to leave? Or am I wrong? If there is a stand to be made shouldn't the stand be clear and unequivocal and shouldn't the bishop be the firstest with the mostest? How does that stack up against the Communion Partners "nibbling around the edges". A bishop should figure out what is the right course of action and not decide after 3,4,5,6,?? years that whoops! I need to change my mind and do something else. A bishop needs to care for all his flock not just those that are easy to care for and leave those that are difficult to fend for themselves. A bishop should be true to the doctrine and discipline of his church and not gallivant off to a foreign land for aide and comfort.

And oh, by the way, if he does not receive the necessary consents, does that mean he will not continue his ministry in the exact manner in which he has in the past? Oh, no, we cannot assume that since he has already demonstrated by his actions something different.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

A Community Opposed to the Anglican Covenant

There is a new website coming up entitled No Anglican Covenant. It is a majestic site worthy of at least one trip there. Here is the linkage, No Anglican Covenant. I encourage you to go and visit and take in as much as you can. Here is a cite to the prayer page of this webpage and at a minimum we all ought to be praying that the Covenant fails. This is also an international site that will ring the world, or at least that is the hope. And therein lies the problem.

We as members of the Episcopal Church in the United States of America have a unique and glorious organization that no one else in the world (well, in the Anglican Communion) really understands. We are a collaborative and deliberative body that incorporates the thoughts and ideas of the laity as well as the clergy. We recognize that God's voice comes sometimes, from the frailest, weakest, most extraordinary of persons. We not only honor that thought but we routinely incorporate it into our daily church lives. THERE IS NO OTHER ANGLICAN COMMUNITY LIKE OURS! For years, but particularly right now, this fact is one of the glaring issues of our time and the rest of the Anglican Communion cannot even begin to truly fathom how we operate let alone respect and honor TEC for this unique quality.

But that is a two-edged sword. I have had the great pleasure of talking on a number of occasions with (retired) Bishop Shalita, bishop of Uganda. (Please do not run off!). Many of our conversations have been centered on the difference in which the Episcopal Church does business as compared to virtually the rest of the world. The Primate of a province, say Uganda, while he can incorporate what the clergy have to say into his decision making is not obliged to and certainly no one really asks the laity what they think. To paraphrase Bishop Shalita, "Why would I do that?". The real hard fact for us to understand is the reverse of what the rest of the world cannot seem to understand about us, we have laity that participate in the decision making process, virtually everyone else does not.

What does that mean for this new and great website? Good luck for starters! It can and should help us here in the United States in defeating the Anglican Covenant but I am not so sure it will do much of anything internationally -- the primates have made up their minds what they are going to do and convincing the laity (or for that matter other clergy) will not do any good, they do not operate like we do (Thank God!).
I beleive that the Anglican Covenant is not for us, in fact it ought not be for anyone. I am wondering if the long term outcome is to just move on without the Communion, if only for a while and continue our work and direct all our efforts into the full inclusion of everyone.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Father Dan Martins and the Story of the Scorpion

Father Mark Harris posted an "apology" for Father Dan Martins' consent as bishop. I just could not let it sit -- I think the world of Father Mark Harris (and for that matter Father Weir) but the "flaw" that is present in our body is no more prominent than here.

Given the opportunity to be "a bishop" or "suffer the slings and arrows of chance" what would you say? Please, let me be bishop, I promise I will not sting you. I find the 'argument' to be unpersuasive and in fact in keeping with the documents Father Dan writes. What happened in San Joaquin? Read between the lines, he lost whatever he had been promised by Mr. Schofield and needed to get out! He said he had no choice - either drietrly oppose the bishop or leave? There was clear support for an opposition to the bihsop but he choice the coward's choice thereby leaving Father Mark Hall and Father Glenn Kanestrom and Father Joel (see the posting at Real Anglican that has a tale of two priests) to name but a few to carry on the fight. No, he had a choice and he made the choice that made him look good and kept his "reputation" in tact.

The Scorpion and the Frog

One day, a scorpion looked around at the mountain where he lived and decided that he wanted a change. So he set out on a journey through the forests and hills. He climbed over rocks and under vines and kept going until he reached a river.
The river was wide and swift, and the scorpion stopped to reconsider the situation. He couldn't see any way across. So he ran upriver and then checked downriver, all the while thinking that he might have to turn back.

Suddenly, he saw a frog sitting in the rushes by the bank of the stream on the other side of the river. He decided to ask the frog for help getting across the stream.

"Hellooo Mr. Frog!" called the scorpion across the water, "Would you be so kind as to give me a ride on your back across the river?"

"Well now, Mr. Scorpion! How do I know that if I try to help you, you wont try to kill me?" asked the frog hesitantly.

"Because," the scorpion replied, "If I try to kill you, then I would die too, for you see I cannot swim!"

Now this seemed to make sense to the frog. But he asked. "What about when I get close to the bank? You could still try to kill me and get back to the shore!"

"This is true," agreed the scorpion, "But then I wouldn't be able to get to the other side of the river!"

"Alright do I know you wont just wait till we get to the other side and THEN kill me?" said the frog.

"Ahh...," crooned the scorpion, "Because you see, once you've taken me to the other side of this river, I will be so grateful for your help, that it would hardly be fair to
reward you with death, now would it?!"

So the frog agreed to take the scorpion across the river. He swam over to the bank and settled himself near the mud to pick up his passenger. The scorpion crawled onto the frog's back, his sharp claws prickling into the frog's soft hide, and the frog slid into the river. The muddy water swirled around them, but the frog stayed near the surface so the scorpion would not drown. He kicked strongly through the first half of
the stream, his flippers paddling wildly against the current.

Halfway across the river, the frog suddenly felt a sharp sting in his back and, out of
the corner of his eye, saw the scorpion remove his stinger from the frog's back.
A deadening numbness began to creep into his limbs.

"You fool!" croaked the frog, "Now we shall both die! Why on earth did you do that?"

The scorpion shrugged, and did a little jig on the drownings frog's back.

"I could not help myself. It is my nature."

Then they both sank into the muddy waters of the swiftly flowing river.

Self destruction - "Its my Nature", said the Scorpion...
Now, while it may be the "fair" thing to do to consent to a bishop-elect that has "repented" keep in mind that bishop-elects have, in the not too distant past, said things and then either not followed through or weaseled their way around the words or perhaps just not told the truth. If we hand the Episcopal Church another "loaded weapon" how can we be surprised if we shoot ourselves in the foot?

Maybe, one really does have to experience this crap in order to fully understand. The Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin did the only thing it could in order to provide leadership to the rest of the Episcopal Church in an area that you all have very little knowledge or understanding or experience. The diocese not only refused consent but put out the reasons for their thinking, more than Father Dan Martins did when he "left town". The flaw in the Espicopal ethos that I see is one of overly graciousness in granting the honorable opposition room to roam, so to speak. Look back on all that has happened in the last 10 years, read the Chapman Memo and ask yourself is that not exactly what those who would destroy the Episcopal Church count on?

In closing, ultimately, all I ask is that you pray and then cast your vote.