Sunday, July 01, 2007

God Mend Thine Every Flaw

From today's All Saints Church Media Alert:

In an Independence Day sermon All Saints Church rector Ed Bacon called for an investigation into grounds for the impeachment of Vice President Dick Cheney.

"I have come to believe,” Bacon proclaimed, “that for the soul of America … the U.S. Congress should direct the Judiciary Committee to investigate whether sufficient grounds exist for the impeachment the Vice President."

The July 1st sermon, entitled "God Mend Thine Every Flaw" was inspired by words from Katherine Lee Bates' 1893 poem "America the Beautiful," and challenged All Saints parish members to serve as "stewards of the fragile dream of democracy."

Reciting a litany of abuses of executive power including condoning torture, lying to the American people about the war in Iraq and destroying executive office records Bacon went on to charge Cheney with "making secret what is the right of U.S. taxpayers to know."

“God can mend our every flaw," Bacon proclaimed, "only if we will come out of denial that we are still not living the American ideal."

UPDATE/NOTE: Here's the last half of today's sermon on YOU TUBE ... The entire sermon is now online on Yahoo Video -- ("You Tube" will only take up to 10 minutes ...)


Muthah+ said...

Wow!!!! Preach it, Brother Ed!

Anonymous said...

I agree that the vice president has abused his power and I fantasize about his resignation and that of his boss. However, can't you folks preach the Gospel and let the congregation get this political message straight from Pacifica Radio and the Nation?

just another Episcopal priest in LA

Susan Russell said...

anonymous ... actually we understand ourselves TO be preaching "the Gospel" ... and because I rejoice in the diversity of congregations in this diocese I recognize that there are PLENTY of options on Sunday morning for Episcopalians who don't like to have their faith mixed up with their politics ... and I rejoice that I work at All Saints instead!

Here it is in a nutshell: [in an earlier quote from Ed Bacon]

"Faith in action is called politics. Spirituality without action is fruitless and social action without spirituality is heartless. We are boldly political without being partisan. Having a partisan-free place to stand liberates the religious patriot to see clearly, speak courageously, and act daringly."

Anonymous said...

Ed? Not partisan? Regardless of one's opinion of the Vice President, that is simply a silly statement. Not credible at all.

I don't mind mixing up faith with politics, but I sense that All Saints is simply "preaching to the choir" and really not doing much politically except preaching the same sort of "feel good" "aren't we wonderful" sort of political messages one sees on the right (with different politics, of course). Do you really think you're changing any minds?


johnieb said...

It is a comfort to me in my affliction that somewhere in my church truth speaks to power.

The Underground Pewster said...

It is hard to believe such partisan pandering is being celebrated at your church. When we jump into politics, don't we risk becoming the very thing we attack? Let the politicians eat their own, we don't need vultures in the pulpit circling overhead.

Jim said...

I guess I find myself of two minds here.

On the one hand, the gentleman has the absolute right to speak his view of what the gospel calls for from the secular society. And he has a number of excellent role models:
Nathan, Amos, Joel, the three writers of Isaiah (especially the second,) Jeremiah, John the Baptizer, and of course, Jesus to name only some.

On the other hand, seminaries typically do not have political science or economics departments, and some clergy opinions can prove cats do laugh. Who can forget the HoB letter praising the employment practices of the Soviet Union shortly before it collapsed?

It seems to me that generally, we do best when we call for justice and identify injustice. To the extent Mr. Cheney is the source of the Guantanamo interment policy, he is liable to both calls. Indefinite confinement without conviction is simply wrong.

Unfortunately, it is probably not impeachable. Lest we forget, Congress pays for this horror. Even the Army is subject to their authority. So calling it a high crime under the legal definition is probably not an option.

So, I have I guess an opinion, about the feedback here -- yes it is appropriate to preach about the world around us, a caution -- clerics as politicians and economists are not likely to do well, and a judgement -- at least some of the current policies are wrong, evil, and unjust. I guess that means I am of three minds?


Susan Russell said...

Jim ...

Guess that makes you Trinitarian!!

Anonymous said...

Kiss your IRS status goodbye - Bush still has the executive division, and is likely to try to torment libruls.

I think he went over the line, even though I agree with him 100% that Cheney is a scumsucking impeachable pig. A sermon about honesty and its lack would do - of how the powerful think rules don't apply to them (often true, sadly). Naming names is not necessary, nor is calling for impeachment. We can connect the dots ourselves.

OCICBW@ (acronym c/o MP)


uffda51 said...

How, especially on the closest Sunday to July 4, can we as Christians not raise our objections to the shredding of our Constitution? Is the litany of horrors brought about by Bush-Cheney not yet long enough?

The question is not, why did Ed Bacon dare to bring up politics in church yesterday? The question is, why didn’t every preacher in every pulpit in America do what Ed did yesterday?

Jim said...


I guess it does at that. You know I crochet my prayer shawls using a three loop stich. I may be in a bit of a rut here.

Incidentally, when are we going to put together a follow-on conference from Justice is Orthodoxy? I think the church in general and the executive counsel in particular need to hear the voices. My offer to take on some of the work still stands.


Christopher Johnson said...

That would be an interesting spectacle, watching Dick Cheney preside over his own impeachment trial(US Constitution, Article I, Section 3).

Anonymous said...

What does this sermon have to do with Christ, Him Crucified. This type of sermon would never happen in a confessional chuch of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. Political sermons have no place in the church, only law and gospel should be preached.

Anonymous said...

What does this sermon have to with Chris, Him Crucified? A sermon of this type would never be preached in a confessional church of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. Only Law and Gospel is preached. Politics is left at the door of the church.

JCF said...

Yes, yes, anonymous Lutheran of the "Misery Synod" (hat-tip Garrison Keillor ;-p): we all know the LC-MS are NOT the Lutherans w/ whom TEC is in full communion!

But answer me this: where in the world do ANY Christians get the idea that "law and gospel" means "free of politics"???

Partisan politics is another business, however. YMMV, but I think partisan politics means either "Vote for John Doe" (rarely are preachers THAT stupid!) or, more frequently, "Between candidates John Doe and Betty Poe, Betty Poe is a feminazi, baby-killing, sodomite witch: vote your Christian conscience!"

I don't see Ed's sermon as falling into the second mold, however. He's speaking in terms of specific terms of impeachment (Constitutional impeachment, not just "impeachment of character"). And he's not comparing Cheney some other candidate who implicitly or explicitly "on the side of the angels."

Keep bringin' da Gospel Noise, Ed! :-D

Mark said...

Even in our moderate-to-conservative little southern church, the priest preached against the distressing and unchristian changes we've had in this country.

That is preaching Word and law, because we are responsible for what we produce at home and abroad. Any claim otherwise is lazy "christianity."

Anonymous said...

If only the LC-MS people would get on the stick about chastising the MO governor Blunt for starving medicaid out of existence. After all, it's the home state!


Nobody here except us RCC,TEC,UCC, MCC, UMC, PC(USA), Reform Judaism, ....


Bill Carroll said...

As a priest I have no opinion about whether Cheney should be impeached. As an anarchist, I have little stake in that question whatsoever.

But I do know that he should be excommunicated, as should Bush, for condoning torture and authorizing its use. I'd highly recommend William Cavanaugh's Torture and Eucharist, since Ed brought that up in the sermon.

The idea that politics should be kept out of the pulpit is ridiculous and Lutheran two kingdoms thinking opened the door for Nazi atrocities. Fortunately, most good Lutherans have learned the lessons of Bonhoeffer.

I don't think that this sermon violates U.S. law, since it is not an election intervention. Cheney does imperil the country and his behavior is grossly immoral, so it is perfectly legitimate to say so.
I'm uncertain about the wisdom of this particular approach from Ed. I would be the first to preach against Cheney even if it did violate the law, if I thought it would advance the cause of the Gospel.

I am attracted to the Anabaptist position of imposing the ban on anyone who cooperates with the violence of the state, but I am increasingly convinced that we must apply the ban, i.e. excommunication, to those who condone torture, because it is a satanic parody of the Eucharist, as I argued in the pulpit two weeks ago. I think it is enough to name torture for what it is. If this Administration has chosen to identify itself with torture without apology, then they should face the consequences.

I can appreciate that those who work within a liberal, statist framework (which includes MLK, btw), albeit one that countenances civil disobedience, that calling for impeachment might make as much sense as excommunication.

Anonymous said...

If he likes preaching politics, I can only wonder if Ed Bacon will have anything to say about the behavior of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. Considering that surely most of the congregation supports the mayor, I'm guesing he won't.

Credibility in the Church requires you to challenge your 'friends', not just your 'enemies'.


Anonymous said...

And me, NancyP. The token....


Suzer said...

I have to agree with Susan's point that, if one doesn't like overtly political sermons, there are other Episcopal churches to choose from in that area. This sermon might not even be my cup of tea (and I'm a progressive Episcopalian), but I respect that others may appreciate such words from the pulpit. And I at least appreciate the courage it takes for a minister to speak out so clearly about wrongdoing. I've wasted many an hour listening to sermons where ministers beat around the bush trying so hard not to specifically say what they would really like to say. I'd rather have a minister say something shocking from the pulpit, than say nothing at all and waste 1/2 hour of my day doing it.

It's all about getting along, finding a congregation that is right for you, and living with the times when you may not agree (without walking away with the property in tow). Why is that so difficult for some to do?

Bill Carroll said...

Torture vs. having an affair?

Anonymous said...

Hm. Let's think about the use of the word "politics". Especially versus, say, "government".

It is entirely reasonable for a preacher of the Gospel to point out where the behavior of the government and it's elected officials falls short of the standards of the Gospel, whether it's sanctioning the slaughter of innocents with bombs or poison gas or sanctioning the slaughter of innocents with the abortionist's tools. As was pointed out upthread, there is plenty of examples of this in various OT prophets' witnessing, as well as in Jesus' own words.

OTOH, "politics" is a bit difficult to separate from "partisan" these days in the U.S. The Church, I think, should be careful not to let it's enthusiasm for preaching the Word slop over into supporting any party or candidate that it thinks does a better job than others, whether that's your church or Pat Robertson's.