Sunday, September 30, 2007

Truth in Advertising

[shared with permission]

I'm thinking maybe a brush up course on Matthew 5:37 would be a good assignment for our bishops at this point. Whattya think?
Can we get buttons made -- maybe wear them to the various "report backs"? Don't think I can pull it off by Tuesday becasue ours is October 2nd at (are you ready for this -- The Nixon Library.)
I'll take questions from the floor if anybody has something they'd like to ask the bishops of Los Angeles. (Can't guarantee I'll get them all asked but odds are I'll make it to the microphone at some point!)
Simply let your 'Yes' be 'Yes,' and your 'No,' 'No'
Matthew 5:37a

Saturday, September 29, 2007



That was my reaction to the announcement that the "Common Cause" partners had launched yet-another plan to reinvent Anglicanism. I suppose I should care more about what they're doing but I just can't manage a whole lot of interest.

I did manage a little amusement when I checked in on the blogs after a 24 hour hiatus (rumor has it they're called "days off" and some people actually take them on a regular basis: IMAGINE!)

Anyway, I had left a comment over at titusonenine on the Common Cause statement which said simply, "Yawn." And boy howdy a lot of people had a lot to say about that! Almost as much as they did about who has the Trinity figured out and who doesn't. Go figure.

We're really supposed to get excited about the "breaking news" that a bunch of malcontent bishops and their neo-con followers are trying to figure out a way to have their sola scriptura cake and keep their Anglican cassocks, too? Episcopal Synod. Episcopalians United. Forward in Faith. ACC. CANA. AMiA. And now "Common Cause."


Forgive those of us who have been at this awhile if we greet this particular "breaking news" with a big old yawn. And then let us have a day off to rest up before we get back to work. Because if I'm clear about anything I'm clear there is a heap of work to do to move this church from where it "is" (which our bishops keep telling us they were "clear" about in their Response last week) to where God is calling it to be.

  • Beyond B033
  • Ending Sacramental Apartheid
  • Fully including all the baptized into the Body of Christ
  • Proclaiming the Year of the Lord's Favor
  • Turning the human race into the human family.
  • Oh yeah -- and Thy kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven

Friday, September 28, 2007

Today's a day off

We slept in a little this morning, watched Bruce Springsteen on the TODAY Show and then took the dogs to the dog park. Checked in with my friend Jim whose mother Eleanor is failing and we put her back on the parish prayer list. (Prayers invited from all ya'll, please for Eleanor, Jim and sister Jan.)

Worked a little in the garden and now I'm boarding up for a trip to Trader Joe's, the dry cleaners and PetSmart. But right now I'm just sitting here, websurfing, enjoying an early autumn afternoon with sleeping dogs, cooler weather and the new fountain on our porch that my mother bought me for my birthday in June and we finally got time to get set up last week.

Just a little window into a "manner of life" that's causing such concern to the Anglican Communion these days. Welcome to my world.

I'm working a "real" blog ... a commentary on the week past and the weeks ahead. Don't imagine I'll finish it today -- what with Trader Joe's and the dry cleaners and all -- but it starts out "We hold these truths to be self-evident ..."

I'm not sure where it's going -- I rarely know where I'm going to end up when I start writing which is part of the fun -- but I think it will talk about who we are when we are the best we can be. And I think it will challenge us to think about how far we've fallen from that mark -- that goal of being the best we can be.

For no matter how you "spin" it our bishops were not the best they could be in New Orleans -- they were the best they could bring themselves to be. And that is not a thing to rejoice and be glad in. And this church is not going to be the best it can be until it chooses witness over word games and quits settling for what Elizabeth Kaeton has aptly named as mediocrity.

Will we look back at New Orleans as the moment when the cost of mediocrity became greater than the promise of honesty? I hope so.

Because if it's true that [a] the truth will set you free and [b] freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose then [c] isn't it time to claim those truths we hold self-evident and get on with the work of being the church God has called us to be?

That'll be the work we'll be getting back to -- after a day off, that is.


What if worship ...

... was like an NBA Game?

Don't miss this latest from YouTube:

Thursday, September 27, 2007

In the News

The News Journal, Wilmington, Delaware

Parting may be sweet sorrow, but there are divides that make it necessary to disassemble rickety bridges. This best characterizes the relationship of the worldwide Anglican Communion. A public unity that hides the fissures over hard-core beliefs that cut to the heart of principles that both sides hold dear is doomed.

The apostle Paul's row with Mark ended when the two bitterly disagreed over a missionary trip. They later embraced, although neither side ceded their original point of view.

The apostle and disciple understood what the modern Episcopal Church refuses to acknowledge: Unity with such serious division is not communion. It's hypocrisy


The morning after the morning after

It is the morning after the morning after. The dust is settling from the House of Bishops Meeting in New Orleans. The phone has quit ringing off the hook with press looking for comment (well, I did talk to a Newsweek reporter this morning but that was it so far) and the commentaries, reflections and diatribes have dwindled down to a trickle rather than a flood in my email inbox.

Here in the Diocese of Los Angeles we will have a chance to hear from and speak to our bishops next Tuesday, October 2nd, at an open forum follow-up to the New Orleans meeting and I am looking forward to that opportunity to hear directly from them what they think they acheived. AND I am looking forward to their hearing from us the impact "on the ground."

In the midst of it all, however, I received the following missive as a comment here on this blog ... and decided it deserved a wider reading audience. It was for me, the sun peaking for a moment through the storm clouds still gathered. It was a poignant reminder that even in our brokeness this Episcopal Church is a place of healing and refuge for many: an outward and visible sign of the inward and spiritual grace of God's inclusive love that transcends even the church which, too often, stands as roadblock rather than serves as conduit.
This is the church we can be, people. May God give us the grace and power to become it.

Reverend Susan,

I am a Gay man with a seven year old son. My father is 73. The three of us share a home together and my father is helping me to raise my son. We were all members of the Roman Catholic Church until last May when we began attending Christ Church Cathedral in St. Louis.

Christ Church is the seat of the Episcopal Diocese of Missouri. Christ Church is also an Oasis congregation which specifically welcomes GLBT people into its parish family. I cannot fully describe the joy and peace that we have found at Christ Church. For the first time in my life I am part of a church which not only fully accepts me and loves me but also fully accepts my sexuality. Actually, my sexuality at Christ Church is a non issue.

At Christ Church we have Gay and Lesbian Priests and Deacons who are out and have partners. Our bishop attended The St. Louis Pride Fest in June and stayed for several hours at The Episcopal Church's Pride Fest booth. Contrast this with my experience in the Roman Catholic Church in which for years I heard the Pope and the bishops tell me that my sexuality is disordered, ANY physical expression of my sexuality is intrinsically evil, that my family is not real and that I am doing violence to my son by raising him.

I also knew that if I dared to bring a boyfriend or a partner to Mass on a regular basis, that I would not only be barred from continuing to serve as a Eucharistic Minister, but I would be condemned as a public sinner and excommunicated. For the first time in my father's life his son no longer has to abide by an ecclesiastical, don't ask, don't tell, policy.

Rev. Susan, I cannot tell you how happy and thankful we are to have found a branch of the Holy Catholic Church, the Ancient Church, which fully accepts and loves us. I read the Bishop's Statement from New Orleans on EpiScope as soon as it came out. I was disappointed with it. However, there is no comparision to what the Episcopal Bishops said in their statement and the outright hostility that I recieved as a Gay man from the Pope and Roman Catholic Bishops for years.

In answer to the question, "
Why would any Gay person want to be a Christian?", I would say because of Jesus Christ and his great love for us, which he demonstrated in his life, death, and glorious resurrection. My family has seen and experienced the love of Christ in the people of Christ Church Cathedral and the Episcopal Church.

I was proud when my son received his First Holy Communion on Pentecost Sunday in The Episcopal Church and my father and I will be very proud when we are received into the Anglican Communion at Christ Church Cathedral next Spring.

Thanks for listening.

Thanks for writing. And may God make this Communion worthy of the gifts you bring to it.

US bishops have bent the knee to the will of the bully

Commentary from Giles Fraser "from across the pond":

Uniting in homophobia, the Anglican church has delivered another blow to the battle against global religious fascism

Thursday September 27, 2007

After months of "Anglican church to divide" headlines, the end is, at last, nigh. Those Anglicans who are really no more than fundamentalists in vestments will split off and form a version of the continuing Anglican church, or whatever they will call it. And the moderate conservatives and the moderate progressives will settle down to business as usual. After much worry, the Archbishop of Canterbury will be able to have a good night's sleep. The church is safe.

If only it were as simple as that. The deal that the archbishop has brokered with the Episcopal church in New Orleans protects the unity of the church by persuading US bishops that the church is more important than justice. The prophets of the Hebrew scriptures would have been appalled.

For all the high-sounding rhetoric about how much they value gay people, the church has once again purchased its togetherness by excluding the outsider. The biblical text that hovers over this whole shoddy deal is John 11:50. As Jesus stands before the court, the high priest Caiaphas persuades the others that for practical reasons he must be got rid of: "You do not understand that it is better to have one man die than to have the whole nation destroyed." And so the deal is done.

OK, so no one has died here. A gay American bishop hasn't been invited to the Lambeth conference, a hugely expensive jolly that brings all the church's bishops to Canterbury once every 10 years. On top of this, the US church has agreed not to make any more bishops if they admit to being gay and having a partner. And they won't do gay blessing services either. Is this really so onerous a set of compromises in order to keep everybody round the same communion table? After all, compared with the desolation and misery that Hurricane Katrina wrought on those who hosted the meeting in New Orleans, ought we not to get a bit more perspective?

No: the struggle for the full inclusion of lesbian and gay people in the life of the church is a frontline battle in the war against global religious fascism. Robert Mugabe has called homosexuals "worse than dogs and pigs". Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's government denies that gay people exist in Iran, and hangs the ones it finds. The Anglican Archbishop of Nigeria thinks homosexuality "evil" and "cancerous". There can be no compromise with any of this, irrespective of whether it is backed up by dodgy readings of holy texts or not.

Which is why the collapse of will in the US House of Bishops is so disappointing. Whatever happened to the spirit of the Boston tea party? One visit from the Archbishop of Canterbury and they get suckered into history worship, falling in line behind the ancient mother church as if they were still suspended on colonial apron strings. Unfortunately, for all its sharp prophetic witness, the Achilles heel of the Episcopal church is its snotty-nosed Anglophilia. Establishment liberals have only so much bottle.

US bishops are now returning to their dioceses with a troubled conscience. Many know that the logic of the New Orleans deal is the logic of unity through exclusion. The church styles itself as not playing by these rules, yet this whole sorry business is as visceral as a group of playground kids coming together to slag off the boy with the unfashionable haircut or funny accent. Finding someone to point the finger at is the best way of bringing people together. Global Christian cohesion is being achieved by a church that is defining itself against some representative other - in this case, a short, rather geeky gay bishop with a bit of a drink problem. He is a scapegoat straight from central casting.

The sad truth is, the issue of homosexuality isn't splitting the Anglican communion: it's uniting it like never before. Before this great global row, we hardly knew each other existed. Anglicans in the pews could hardly care less about Christians in the next door parish, let alone care for those thousands of miles away in Africa or Asia. But as crisis looms, common cause has been achieved. The Rt Rev Gene Robinson, Bishop of New Hampshire, has brought people together: hands across the ocean, united in homophobia.

It was the Episcopal church that held out longest against unholy unification. But in agreeing to these terms, they too have now bent the knee to the will of the collective bully. The fact that a fringe of rabid evangelicals may now quit the church must not distract from Rowan Williams's achievement in keeping us all together. A crisis has been averted. Gay people remain firmly on the outside; used by the church for vicars and vergers and sacristans, but officially little more than outcasts.

I have never been persuaded that Jesus was gay, as some do believe. But there is no doubt that he too was the outsider, despised and rejected. He also was the victim of official religious persecution. Which is why the other passage that today's Christians ought to give some thought to is the one from St Matthew's gospel that goes: "Just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me."

Giles Fraser is the vicar of Putney and a lecturer in philosophy at Wadham College, Oxford

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Is There No Balm in Gilead?

An excerpt from Michael Hopkins' blog, From Glory to Glory:

Having just stated the ways in which they feel the Church must continue to violate our dignity (how, in our tradition, could withholding the public celebration of our relationships and prohibiting our share in all aspects of the church’s ministry be thought of as anything other than a violation of our dignity?), the bishops then promise to oppose violating our dignity. That violates our dignity.

And then,

We proclaim the Gospel that in Christ all God's children, including gay and lesbian persons, are full and equal participants in the life of Christ's Church.

But we are not full participants in the life of the church. You yourselves have just said so.This gap between word and deed, reality and wishful thinking, is untenable. It is monstrous in how easily it seems to have been perpetrated. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain! Wishful thinking is reality because we say so!

Two sentences would have been a balm in the form of some sense of honesty and compassion.

To the first sentence quoted above could have been added, “We believe this journey we are on as a Communion is itself a journey toward making that dignity a reality in our own midst."

And to the second, "We offer our profound apology to our lesbian and gay sisters and brothers that we continue to fall short of this Gospel."

That's it. You see, the gift lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons have been giving the church for the past thirty five years is honesty. It is something that the church has always struggled to keep at the heart of its message and mission. This has never been a surprise because honesty is hard for religious people who want to believe they can make themselves right, convincing God to love them. Jesus taught us that.

The church has had a tough time admitting it is a flawed, human institution and therefore solely dependent on Gods’ grace for its very existence, much less its salvation.We have been trying to teach you that honesty is the most painful thing in the world,and the only thing that can save us, because dishonesty is fundamentally the spiritual denial of grace itself.

Honesty is the balm in Gilead.

Please stop telling us things you think you want us to hear and start telling us,yourselves, and the world the truth. It really will set us all free.

But hear this clearly, a dishonest church is a dying church. Where there is no balm,the people perish. A word of truth and a word of compassion will not only be our comfort. It will be our resurrection.


HoB Response DOA in Nigeria, etc.


just posted to titusonenine

In accordance with our desire to walk “in a manner worthy of the calling to which we have been called, … eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” Ephesians (4:1,2) we have looked forward with hope to the response of The Episcopal Church as requested by the Primates when we met earlier in the year in Dar es Salaam. That request was the culmination of many conversations and years of painful negotiations. It was our expressed desire to provide one final opportunity for an unequivocal assurance from The Episcopal Church of their commitment to the mind and teaching of the Communion. We also made clear that it is a time for clarity and a rejection of what hitherto has been endless series of ambiguous and misleading statements. Sadly it seems that our hopes were not well founded and our pleas have once again been ignored.

While we await a meeting of all the Primates to receive and determine the adequacy of The Episcopal Church’s response it seems clear from first reading that what is offered is not a whole hearted embrace of traditional Christian teaching and in particular the teaching that is expressed in Lambeth Resolution 1.10. The unequivocal assurances that we sought have not been given; what we have is a carefully calculated attempt to win support to ensure attendance at the Lambeth Conference and continued involvement in the life of the Communion.

Instead of the change of heart (repentance) that we sought what we have been offered is merely a temporary adjustment in an unrelenting determination to “bring the rest of the Communion along” as stated by a bishop at one of the press conferences. We also note that while we have repeatedly asked for a moratorium on same-sex blessings –across the Episcopal Church the clergy have continued with these blessings with the full knowledge and support of the Diocesan bishops even if not technically authorized.

This attitude towards the Word of God and the requests of the Communion is at odds with the Spirit of the One we serve. The Unity that Christ commands can only be found in obedience to the Truth revealed in the Holy Scriptures and mutual submission to one another.

The Gospel message of freedom, justice and dignity for all persons can only be found in heartfelt repentance and joyful obedience to the Truth.

Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him.” John 14:21


Meanwhile, Archbishop Nzimbi of KENYA weighed in with "What we expected to come from them is to repent - that this is a sin in the eyes of the Lord and repentance is what me, in particular, and others expected to hear coming from this church."

See Also:
Stuff/Different Day"

Collateral Damage

Collateral Damage: "unintentional damage or incidental damage affecting facilities, equipment or personnel, occurring as a result of military actions directed against targeted enemy forces or facilities."

Here are but a few of the examples of the collateral damage from the Response of the House of Bishops issued yesterday received from blog commenters and email correspondents:

I admire your ability to "stay the course," but as the ole hymn has it "you've got to know when to hold 'em; you've got to know when to fold 'em." I've arrived at "fold em" time with ECUSA.

I can no longer preach the gospel of Christ inside the church. Telling gay folks they are eligible for five and a half of the seven sacraments certainly isn't proclaiming the Good News. In order to walk with integrity, I've asked my bishop to remove me from ordained ministry.

Some see the glass half full, some half empty. As a lesbian Christian, I have to ask: How come all we get is half a glass? And did our bishops do ANYTHING to add even one drop to our glass? Nope. They seem have been more concered with keeping their own Lambeth tea-cups full ...

very sad and disappointing indeed. i have left the flock to join my life partner on a path toward Reform Judaism. it still saddens me to see the institution i gave so much to over the years continue to turn its back on me and others like me.

I need God. I do not need the church. I do not want the church because the
church does not want me.
My husband has a young nephew and he and his wife are lawyers in Madison, Wisconsin. At the wedding this summer, they told us that they were leaving the Episcopal church and going to the UCC over the issue of inclusion and betrayal of people they love.

While I am profoundly disappointed, I cannot say that I am at all surprised at the bishops' actions. Once again we homosexuals are asked to wait. We're told that we are entitled to full life in the body of Christ, but the reality is that we are NOT entitled to participation in all of the sacraments.The bishops' response was a cowardly admission that they do not have the courage to "stand firm" in the face of bigotry, ignorance, and hatred.

Again, the tragedy is that the Church caters to those who threaten to leave rather than minister to those who are committed to stay.

How long until the bishops of this church recognize that these are the lives and vocations they are sacrificing at the feet of the Idol they have made of Institutional Unity?

PS -- Please feel free to forward this to your bishop! In fact, PLEASE forward this to your bishop!!

The Morning After

It is "the morning after." I just heard from John Clinton Bradley who is at the New Orleans airport and says the place is "lousy with bishops" and lousy is a very good word on this morning after the meeting of the House of Bishops. For these same bishops who were blackmailed into bigotry by passing B033 in Columbus reaffirmed yesterday in New Orleans that their commitment to tea at Lambeth trumps their commitment to the full inclusion of all the baptized in the Body of Christ.
I keep thinking of the question Stephen Bates asked in his "exit interview" column as religion repoter for the UK Guardian:

Why would any gay person wish to be a Christian? These are people condemned for who they are, not what they do, despite all the sanctimonious bleating to the contrary, men and women despised for wanting the sort of intimacy that heterosexual people take for granted and that the Church is only too happy to bless. Instead, in 2007, the Church jumps up and down to secure exclusive rights to continue discriminating against a minority of people it does not like. What a spectacle the Church has made of itself! What hope of proselytising in a country which has accepted civil partnerships entirely without rancour or bigotry?

And if you're asking yourself that same question this morning (and the emails and comments tell me many of you are) so am I. So are other LGBT leaders around the church, so are our many allies in the struggle for justice and equality.
And, I know for a fact certain, so are some of the very bishops who worked their butts off in New Orleans to craft this compromise response that affirms the status quo of sacramental apartheid for the LGBT baptized AND falls so short of "complying" with the dictates of the Primates that their troops are already gathering "as we speak" to continue to wage the schsim that has become the reason for their being.
Here's how "the other side" (Matt Kennedy on Stand Firm) reads the response:

The Response by the House of Bishops, joined with their earlier responses and those of the Executive Council, represents an utter rejection of the Primate’s request. There is a bold commitment to permit same sex blessings. There is an avenue ripe for exploitation with regard to episcopal consents. And, as was evident in past statement and in this Response, there will be no attempt to provide adequate oversight for dissenting people, parishes, and/or dioceses.

Not only does this statement recognize that a “minority” of bishops authorize same sex blessings, but as a matter of pastoral care they can and will continue to do so within the common life of the Episcopal Church.

The final sentence of the explanation is wholly passive and indicative. It recognizes a present state of affairs. It does not call the bishops to do anything.

OK ... if Matt hates it we should be happy, right?
Wrong. Yes, they "stood firm" against extraordinary pressure to turn the clock back and to agree to prohibit the blessing of unions in their dioceses "until the communion has come to consensus." (See also: "the cows are on their way home.") They were also pushed to agree to more mandatory language than B033's "urged to consider restraint" and instead affirmed that B033 stands as a resolution of the church at this point in our history. (That's a fact and it sucks and we'll change it in 2009 and here we are.)
But while they "stood firm" against turning the clock back they utterly failed to move the church forward. In making the concessions they made, they doomed us to another season of "As the Anglican World Turns" -- a series which should have been cancelled in 2006 and just keeps on running.
Rather than build the Kingdom they chose to cater to the Communion. They chose to be politicians rather than prophets. The LGBT faithful are the collateral damage from their failure to lead but the greater victim is the mission and ministry of a church afraid to claim the courage of its convictions and let the chips fall where they may.
Finding hope in the fact that the bishops didn't back down does NOT mean we settle for them not leading us forward. THAT, as I said in the release yesterday, is where we now turn our energy and attention. To influencing the Listening Process at Lambeth -- and some of us travel to London next month for meetings with Anglican colleagues toward that goal.
To repeal B033 at GC09 ... and that means electing deputies in your dioceses who "get" that we may have to stand up to our bishops in Anaheim.
To continue to move the church forward on Same Sex Blessings and end sacramental apartheid in this church once and for all.
I stand by Integrity's statement issued yesterday. I am "gratified that the final response from the House of Bishop declined to succumb to the pressure to go backwards, but rather took some significant steps forward." And that would be yesterday's news.
Today's news is that not being thrown under the bus does not mean we settle for riding in the back of it. The bishops' response from New Orleans included this proclamation: We proclaim the Gospel that in Christ all God's children, including gay and lesbian persons, are full and equal participants in the life of Christ's Church.
To quote from Ed Bacon's sermon from last Sunday,
"Emancipation requires more than proclamation." Dr. King said, "Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed." William Sloane Coffin said about him, "Dr. King’s message was that it is not enough to suffer with the poor; we must confront the people and systems that cause poverty. It was Martin’s message that you cannot set the captive free if you are not willing to confront those who hold the keys. Without confrontation compassion becomes merely commiseration, fruitless and sentimental.
Today's news is our resolve to continue to confront those who proclaim out of one side of their mouth that we are are full and equal participants in the life of Christ's Church while they institutionalize our marginalization out of the other side.
And today's news is that we are going to keep it up -- until there's not a single stranger left at the gate or until the cows come home ... whichever comes first.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

So which is it?

OK ... one last thing. Can't resist.

Which is it:

NYT: Episcopal Bishops Reject Anglican Church's Orders


BBC: Anglicans to Halt Gay Ordinations

I'm SURE this is all precisely what Jesus had in mind, doncha think?

Integrity Press Release

House of Bishops Stands Firm

NEW ORLEANS—The members of Integrity have prayed unceasingly for their bishops as they met this week to consider a response to the primates' communiqué. The bishops were pressured by the Archbishop of Canterbury and other international guests to comply with the primate's demands. The bishops struggled mightily amongst themselves to achieve a clear consensus on how to respond. Integrity is gratified that the final response from the House of Bishop declined to succumb to the pressure to go backwards, but rather took some significant steps forward.

We are encouraged by their strong language against the incursions of uninvited bishops into this province, their commendation of the Anglican Listening Process, their unequivocal support that the Bishop of New Hampshire should receive an invitation to the Lambeth Conference, and their affirmation of safety and civil rights for LGBT persons.

Integrity President Susan Russell said, "In response to requests for 'clarity' the House of Bishops made it clear today that the Episcopal Church is moving forward in faith. I believe today’s response will be received as a sign of great hope that we are committed to working through the hard ground of our differences. I look forward to taking the support of the House of Bishops for the Listening Process with me when I and other Integrity representatives meet with Anglican colleagues in London next month to prepare for our witness at the Lambeth Conference."

"Integrity is confident that The Episcopal Church will continue to move forward," concluded Russell. "Integrity expects General Convention 2009 to be a tipping point for equality. We will be working hard in the months ahead to repeal B033 and to authorize development of a rite for blessing same-sex relationships as steps toward the goal of the full inclusion of all the baptized into the Body of Christ."

The shoe has dropped

House of Bishops response 'to questions and concerns raised by our Anglican Communion partners' posted to Episcopal Life Online

Read it all here ...
Knee-jerk commented summary below:


We reconfirm that resolution B033 of General Convention 2006 (The Election Of Bishops) calls upon bishops with jurisdiction and Standing Committees "to exercise restraint by not consenting to the consecration of any candidate to the episcopate whose manner of life presents a challenge to the wider church and will lead to further strains on communion."
Of course they do.

We pledge as a body not to authorize public rites for the blessing of same-sex unions.
Which they couldn't do anyway without the consent of the House of Deputies nationally.

We commend our Presiding Bishop's plan for episcopal visitors.
As well they should.

We deplore incursions into our jurisdictions by uninvited bishops and call for them to end.
"Univited bishops." How polite!

We support the Presiding Bishop in seeking communion-wide consultation in a manner that is in accord with our Constitution and Canons.
"In accord with Constitution and Canons" is phrase key here.

We call for increasing implementation of the listening process across the Communion and for a report on its progress to Lambeth 2008.
Again ... as well they should. And as we go to meet next month with ACO staff about precisely that topic in London how nice to have our bishops behind us!

We support the Archbishop of Canterbury in his expressed desire to explore ways for the Bishop of New Hampshire to participate in the Lambeth Conference.
Again, as well they should and "here, here!"

We call for unequivocal and active commitment to the civil rights, safety, and dignity of gay and lesbian persons.
Should go without saying but we're glad they did.

Official statement to follow shortly.

Tick Tock

Time is running out on the folks in the House of Bishops working to craft a "mind of the house" message to the Church. My cell phone had so many text messages (mostly of the "... what's happening?" "...have you heard anything?" variety) that it temporarily gave up the ghost and died on me. St. Nader of All Saints (our IT wizard) brought it back to life ... we've rechristened it "Lazarus" and now I ... like everyone esle ... is awaiting word from the "inner sanctum" of House of Bishopdom.

Rumors continue to run rampant, of course ... for the best ones check out Stand Firm (where Matt Kennedy is "on the ground" madly live-blogging away) and Titusonenine (where Kendall Harmon as a Tuesday Commentary Round Up going.) Jim Naughton reports ...

When the House of Bishops reconvenes, it will vote on a resolution of "seven or eight" bullet points written in resolution style followed by about a page and a half of explanatory langauge. I am told that there is general agreement on the bullet points, but that some bishops feel the explanatory language says more than is necessary, and raises issues that don't need to be addressed. The PB thinks they can wrap this up by the 5 p. m. Eucharist.

... so that's what we're all waiting for.

While we're waiting for news (which, to totally mix my metaphors is feeling like waiting for water boil while watching sausage being made ...) do check out Reverend Elizabeth Explains It All over at Telling Secrets ... unpacking the mysterious differences between public rites and pastoral care: well done, my dear!

And now, back to watching and waiting.

(No nibbling on that bread of anxiety, now ... eat something good for you instead!)


Monday, September 24, 2007

Lions and Tigers and Rumors, OH MY!

Remember that Collect for the Day we prayed just -- what was it -- only yesterday???

Grant us, Lord, not to be anxious about earthly things, but to love things heavenly; and even now, while we are placed among things that are passing away, to hold fast to those that shall endure; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Easier said than done when the bishops are meeting and the rumors are flying.

Elizabeth Kaeton has a great overview over at Telling Secrets and I'm going to leave it at that for tonight. Tomorrow will be soon enough to contend with the fallout from this epsiode of "As the Anglican World Turns."

As for the policy on blessings in the Diocese of Los Angeles (should inquiring minds want to know and given the number of press calls and emails I've gotten I assume they do):

My understanding is that permission from the bishop for the blessing of a same-sex union is not required in the Diocese of Los Angeles as we are understood, as presbyters, to be providing pastoral care to the couple under our pastoral oversight. That's what happened at All Saints, Beverly Hills last week and that's what will happen at All Saints, Pasadena next month (and lots of other parishes inbetween.)

Should the national church, through the appropriate process of consents by both houses sitting in General Convention authorize liturgical rites for blessing then that issue will be revisited by the Bishop of Los Angeles. In the meantime, flowers are ordered, organists arranged for, best men and women suited up and life goes on -- the primates notwithstanding.

And now, boys and girls, to bed with you! No more rumors before bedtime!


PRELIMINARY Draft Statement from New Orleans HoB Meeting


This is a draft.

If this had been an ACTUAL statement, you would have been instructed to tune to one of the ususal suspects in your blogsphere for comment and commentary.

Thanks to Matt Kennedy over at Stand Firm for this transcription of the Prelminary Draft of the Message from the House of Bishops presented this morning in New Orleans. Frankly, I have my own opinions on whether or not it's the best possible "process" for a deliberative body (eg. the HoB) to invite the whole blogdom into their sausage making process but they have so here it is. Stay tuned for further developments ... there will DEFINITELY be some! (And no, I don't have all the names of the drafting committee ... yet.)
Here begineth the preliminary draft:

1. We affirm and support the PB’s plan to provide Episcopal visitors for dioceses within the Episcopal Church. The Windsor Report (paragraph 152) affirmed that our plan for DEPO is reasonable and saw no reason why such delegated pastoral and sacramental oversight should not be provided by bishops from within this province. We believe the Presiding Bishop’s plan is consistent with DEPO and we thank those bishops who have generously offered themselves for this ministry.

2. While we have already expressed concerns about the recommendations made by the Primates for a pastoral scheme, we nonetheless urge the PB to continue conversations with those requesting alternative oversight, seeking ways to create and implement arrangements which meet pastoral needs and which do not violate our Constitution and Canons. We urge those requesting such oversight to participate in these conversations and to assist in finding appropriate solutions. We pray that a way forward can be found which will bring an end to the incursions of extra-provincial bishops. These incursions imperil the Communions principle of honoring one another as we work together in good faith on these very difficult issues.

3. We continue to invite all the provinces of the Anglican Communion to join in the listening process which was embraced by the 1998 Lambeth Conference I prayerfully considering the place of gay and lesbian people in our common life. We look forward to receiving initial reports about this process from every province if the communion and to our own continuing participation with others in this crucial project. We see an important role for the ACC in helping to accomplish this objective, as well as in addressing other important issues that come before us. The ACC is representative of both the lay and ordained members of our constituent churches, and it is the only body possessing a written constitution.

4. We have attempted to respond to the Primates questions regarding Resolution B033. in honesty we must report that within the HOB there is disagreement as to how this resolution is to be interpreted and applied. As we live with this painful reality, conversation study and prayer will continue. We recognize the challenge our disagreement presents for some in the Communion and we respectfully ask for their patience and forbearance.

5. Because we are a liturgical church our actions concerning blessings are expressed in public liturgies. No rite of blessing for persons living in same sex unions has been adopted or approved by our General Convention. We wish to make it clear that the House of Bishops has not voted to authorize such liturgies. Even in the absence of such public rites, we acknowledge that the blessing of same sex unions, no matter how public or private, is unacceptable to some of our brothers and sisters in our own House, in our church, and in the Communion. The issue remains perplexing for us as we seek to balance these concerns about rites of blessing and the pressing pastoral need that confronts us. We wish to offer respect for these differing viewpoints.We are grateful that the Primates have articulated their support for meeting the individual pastoral needs of gay and lesbian persons. In 2003 they wrote "there is a duty of pastoral care that is laid upon all Christians to respond with love and understanding to homosexual persons." The Primates have writeen that there must be a breadth of private and pastoral responses to individual situations. It is the case that for many decades, the Episcopal Church has explored the most faithful ways of ministering to and with gay and lesbian people who are part of our common life. We acknowledge that in some of our dioceses this includes the blessing of same sex unions.

6. Those among us who have received an invitation to attend the 2008 Lambeth Conference look forward to that gathering with hope and expectation. Many of us are engaged in mission partnerships with bishops and dioceses around the world and cherish those relationships. Lambeth offers a wonderful opportunity to build on those partnerships.We are mindful that the Bishop of New Hampshire has not yet received an invitation to Lambeth. We are also mindful that the Archbishop of Canterbury has expressed a desire to explore a way to include Bishop Robinson in the Lambeth Conference. Because we believe that this is a matter of importance to the House of Bishops, we propose that the Archbishop of Canterbury invite a small group of bishops appointed by the Presiding Bishop to assist him in facilitating Bishop Robinson's presence and participation.

7. We reaffirm our March 2007 statement in which we said, "We proclaim the Gospel of what God has done is doing in Christ, of the dignity of every human being, and of justice, compassion and peace. We proclaim the Gospel that in Christ there is no Jew or Greek, no male or female, no slave or free. We proclaim the Gospel that in Christ all God's children, including women, are full and equal participants in the life of Christ's Church. We proclaim the Gospel that in Christ all God's children, including gay and lesbian persons, are full and equal participants in the life of Christ's Church. We proclaim the Gospel that stands against any violence, including violence done to women and children as well as those who are persecuted because of their difference, often in the name of God."
Frankly, I have my own opinions on whether or not it's the best possible "process" for a deliberative body (eg. the HoB) to invite the whole blogdom inton their sausage making process but they have so here it is

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Called to Freedom

Here's a video feed for the local news coverage at All Saints today.

And here's the sermon preached today at All Saints Church by rector Ed Bacon. Entitled "Called to Freedom" a draft text is up on the All Saints website (the full text will be available shortly) and the video is up on both Google and Yahoo video.

And here's the part I wish every bishop gathered in New Orleans could have heard:
On the first day of Jesus’s official, public ministry, he went to the synagogue in his hometown on the Sabbath, took the scroll which recorded the prophet Isaiah’s words, and read them. "The Spirit of our God is upon me; because the Most High has anointed me to bring Good News to those who are poor, freedom to those who are held captive, recovery of sight to those who are blind, and to let the oppressed go free – to proclaim the year of Our God’s favor."

Then Jesus preached his first sermon, "Today, this scripture passage is fulfilled." In other words, Jesus was saying, "These words are now embodied in our place and time. My life’s purpose is now to fulfill this scripture passage – to bring freedom to those who are bound and freedom to those who are oppressed.

In other words, the heart of Jesus’ ministry was to be a walking living, breathing, embodied Exodus experience for everyone captive, bound, and oppressed. That was the great offense of Jesus to the Roman Empire and any religious authorities complicit with the Empire – that he not only talked about Freedom. He embodied it.

Therefore, the essence of the life of a Christian, and the essence of the life of every person of faith (to my way of thinking) is to be a walking, living, breathing Exodus factory for every brother and sister in the human family who is captive, bound, excluded, and oppressed. If you and I do not do that we are merely having an irrelevant tea party here this morning and we are falling short of our very reason for being – both the proclamation and the embodiment of freedom.

As resolutions are crafted to express the "Mind of the House" gathered in New Orleans my prayer is that the minds IN the house keep in mind the call of our Lord and Savior to both proclaim and embody the "year of the Lord's favor." And that they remember he almost got thrown off a cliff afterwards for proclaiming it. And then he called us to go and do likewise.

Following the one whose life showed us how to walk in love and whose resurrection saves us from the fear of death, let's not just talk about God's inclusive love. Let's embody it.

And now, for a little local news ...

I'll be back on the "As the Anglican World Turns" beat again tomorrow when the House of Bishops gathers for consider the "therefores" for the Episcopal Church. Honest.
But today it was All-Saints-All-The-Time as our rector, Ed Bacon, announced the most recent developments in the IRS v All Saints Church saga. Background on the over-two-year-old case is online on the All Saints website and here's what the Los Angeles Times had to say:
Pasadena church wants IRS apology
All Saints' rector also demands that the agency clarify its findings after closing its probe into an antiwar sermon in 2004.

By Rebecca Trounson,
Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

The rector of a liberal Pasadena church today demanded an apology and a clarification from the Internal Revenue Service after being notified that the agency had closed a lengthy investigation of the church over a 2004 antiwar sermon -- but also found that the same sermon constituted illegal intervention in a political campaign.

The Rev. J. Edwin Bacon Jr., rector of All Saints Episcopal Church, told congregants during morning services today that he and other officials were relieved that the church no longer faced the imminent loss of its tax-exempt status, but were bewildered by the IRS' seemingly contradictory conclusions about the case.

All Saints has "no more guidance about the IRS rules now than when we started this process over two long years ago," Bacon said. He said the lack of clarity from the IRS in its recent letter to the church would have a continuing "chilling effect" on the freedom of clerics from all faiths to preach about core moral values and such issues as war and poverty. Parishioners at this morning's early service applauded his comments.

Bacon said the unclear outcome could mean future investigations of the church.All Saints, one of Southern California's largest and most liberal congregations, came under IRS scrutiny after a sermon two days before the 2004 presidential election by a guest speaker, the Rev. George F. Regas. In the sermon, Regas, the church's former rector, depicted Jesus in a mock political debate with then-presidential candidates George W. Bush and John F. Kerry.

Regas did not instruct parishioners whom to support in the presidential race, but his suggestion that Jesus would have told Bush that his preemptive war strategy in Iraq "has led to disaster" prompted a letter from the IRS in June 2005 stating that the church's tax-exempt status was in question.Federal law prohibits tax-exempt organizations, including churches, from intervening in political campaigns and elections.

In its latest letter to All Saints, dated Sept. 10, the IRS said the church continues to qualify for tax-exempt status but that Regas' sermon on Oct. 31, 2004, amounted to a one-time intervention in the 2004 presidential race. The letter offered no specifics or explanation for either conclusion, but noted that the church did have appropriate policies in place to ensure that it complied with prohibitions on political activity.Jesse Weller, an IRS spokesman, said late Saturday that he could not comment on the case.

In addition to its requests for clarification and an apology, All Saints has asked a top Treasury Department official -- its inspector general for tax administration -- to investigate what the church described as a series of procedural and substantive errors in the case, including allegedly inappropriate conversations about it between IRS and Justice Department officials.

Those conversations, documented in e-mails obtained by the church through Freedom of Information Act requests, appear to show that Justice Department officials were involved in the All Saints case before the IRS made any formal referral of it for possible prosecution, an attorney for the church said. And they raise concerns that the IRS' investigation may have been politically motivated.

"In view of the fact that recent congressional inquiries have revealed extensive politicization of [the Department of Justice], my client is very concerned that the close coordination undertaken by the IRS allowed partisan political concerns to direct the course of the All Saints examination," attorney Marcus S. Owens wrote in a Sept. 21 letter requesting an investigation.


Also on the story were:
Here's what the press coverage looked like at All Saints today:

There were five of these news vans outside ...

... as the rector did the press conference thing
(surrounded by interfaith leaders and the All Saints vestry) ...

... and the cameras rolled.

Stay tuned for further reports as they devlop. And now, back to our regularly scheduled schism ...

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Autumnal Equinox ...

I'm told that autumn begins this year at precisely 5:51 a.m. EDT on Sunday, September 23 ... but since that's 2:51 a.m.PDT (AKA the middle of the night around here) I'm going to jump the gun a little and wish everybody ....
An Absolutely
Awesome Autumn

[Brian Andrew Russell, AKA Mr. Pumpkin Patch]
circa 1987

The More Things Change ...

... the more they stay the same.

And the more the Church should hang her head in shame!

(Thanks to Paul Woodrum for this timely timeline -- and so much for "the faith received through the ages!")

1st Century:
Certainly Gentiles have a place in the church as do all the baptized. The debate is currently about the appropriate limits of pastoral care and the place Gentiles may hold in the offices of the church. The question is how far the traditional theology of the church lets us move in that direction.

7th Century:
Certainly followers of Augustine have a place in the church as do all the baptized. The debate is currently about not only the date of Easter, but the appropriate limits of pastoral care and the place followers of Rome may hold in the offices of the church. The question is how far the Celtic tradition of the church lets us move in that direction.

12th Century:
Certainly Anglo-Saxon people have a place in the church as do all the baptized. The debate is currently about the appropriate limits of pastoral care and the place Anglo-Saxon people may hold in the offices of the church. The question is how far Norman church tradition lets us move in that direction.

16th Century:
Certainly recusants and dissenters have a place in the church as do all the baptized. The debate is currently about the appropriate limits of pastoral care and the place recusants and dissenters may hold in the offices of the church. The question is how far the Established Church and Crown lets us move in that direction.

18th Century:
Certainly colonials have a place in the church as do all the baptized. The debate is currently about the appropriate limits of pastoral care and the place colonials may hold in the offices of the church. The question is how far Parliament lets us move in that direction.

19th Century:
Certainly slaves throughout the Empire have a place in the church as do all the baptized. The debate is currently about the appropriate limits of pastoral careand the place slaves may hold in the offices of the church. The question is how far slave owners let us move in that direction.

1900 - 1960's:
Certainly African Americans have a place in the church as do all the baptized. The debate is currently about the appropriate limits of pastoral care and the place African Americans may hold in the offices of the church. The question is how far white American tradition lets us move in that direction.

Certainly women have a place in the church as do all the baptized. The debate is currently about the appropriate limits of pastoral care and the place women may hold in offices of the church. The question is how far the traditional patriarchial theology of the church lets us move in that direction.

Certainly gay and lesbian people have a place in the church as do all the baptized. The debate is currently about the appropriate limits of pastoral care and the place gay and lesbian people may hold in the offices of the church. The question is how far the traditional theology of the church lets us move in that direction. (The Most Reverend and Right Honorable Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, 21 September AD 2007, New Orleans, LA, USA)

Gracious God, we pray for thy holy Catholic Church. Fill it with all truth, in all truth with all peace. Where it is corrupt, purify it; where it is in error, direct it; where in any thing it is amiss, reform it. Where it is right, strengthen it; where it is in want, provide for it; where it is divided, reunite it; for the sake of Jesus Christ thy Son our Savior. Amen.


New Orleans Bits & Pieces

+Rowan on the Record
[Episcopal Life Online photo]

Verbatims from yesterday's press conference with the Archbishop of Canterbury include:

"I would hope that a gay or lesbian person who would want to be a Christian would want affirmation and challenge and would want to be challenged as to what is the way to live life as a follower of Christ. I hope we are clarifying the belief that is being and has been expressed in a number of conferences that violence against gay and lesbian people is inexcusable."

"Certainly gay and lesbian people have a place in the church as do all the baptized. The debate is currently about the appropriate limits of pastoral care and the place gay and lesbian people may hold in the offices of the church. The question is how far the traditional theology of the church lets us move in that direction."

Finally, responding to a question about "healing" for homosexual persons, Williams replied, "That question presupposes that homosexual inclination is a disease. I do not assume that myself."


In other news ...

Washington Post: Anglican Leader Plays Down Schism
The Rev. Susan Russell, a California priest who heads Integrity, an advocacy group for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Episcopalians ... said she was encouraged by Williams's comments at the news conference, where several conservative-leaning bishops also sounded conciliatory. "My take is there are some who are invested in pulling off this schism. And they have nothing to gain by us being in conversation," Russell said. Williams "just took the wind out of their sails."

Episcopal Life: Archbishop of Canterbury "encouraged"
After two days of "encouraging" talks with the Episcopal Church's House of Bishops, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams told reporters September 21 that if the Anglican Communion resolves its differences enough to avoid schism "it will have done something for the entire Christian community."

Walking With Integrity offers a Press Coverage Round Up and Titusonenine posted a Blog Round Up yesterday.


Friday, September 21, 2007

A "Sophie's Choice?"

+Kirk Smith, Bishop of Arizona (and a former clergy colleague of mine here in Los Angeles) has published his reflections on the House of Bishops Meeting in his weekly E-Pistle posted online over at Episcopal Cafe. In particular, +Kirk wrote about what he'd heard from the Archbishop of Canterbury.

In broad terms he asked us to postpone our own church’s agenda in favor of peace in the larger Communion. That desire was more strongly expressed by four members of the Anglican Advisory Council who spoke to us this morning. They again urged us to consider affirming in some way what was asked of us by the Primates at their February meeting in Dar Es Salaam, namely to refrain from consecrating openly gay bishops and approving same sex blessings; offer alternative primatial oversight to dioceses who wish it; and allow our church to be monitored by a council made up of other Provinces.

Most of us feel again the frustration of being caught in the conundrum of wanting to walk with our world-wide partners without turning our backs on our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters. Many of us also believe we have already done all we can to appease those who differ with us in these matters. It seems we are being given a “Sophie’s choice,” being ask to pick who we love more. Whatever choice is made, people will be hurt. Even the option of refusing to choose can be interpreted by both parties as rejection.

I've actually used that "Sophie's choice" metaphor myself in the past to describe the place we find ourselves in the Anglican Communion: that we're being forced to choose between the gay and lesbian baptized and our Anglican Communion brothers and sisters.

And someone (I forget who ... if it was you email me and I'll give you credit) talked me out of using it anymore by saying, "In order for it to be a Sophie's choice there have to be Nazis with guns pointed at you. And there aren't any. There are just people who are trying to make you think there are."

And they were right. The only "guns" out there are threats by Primates who insist on the exclusion of the LGBT faithful as the criterion for their inclusion at the table. The only weapons being deployed are the intercontinental ballistic bishops being consecrated and launched as weapons of mass discrimination against the American Episcopal Church.

There is, I am convinced, an ontological difference between feeling excluded because you're disagreed with and being excluded because of who you are. Watching brothers and sisters walk away from the Episcopal Church because they've been disagreed with is a painful thing. The Episcopal Church walking away from the gay and lesbian baptized to preserve the unity of the Anglican Communion is a sinful thing.

As hard a choice as it is it is not a Sophie's choice. It is a Gospel choice and it is time for the bishops to make it.

Go, +Gene!!!!

An interesting article just in from Jonathan Petre of the Daily Telegraph (UK). Here it is with my "two cents" below.


Archbishop accused of 'dehumanising gays'
[New Orleans] The Archbishop of Canterbury's hopes of averting schism in the worldwide Anglican Church are foundering after he was accused of dehumanising gays by the openly homosexual bishop Gene Robinson.

Dr Rowan Williams is holding two days of crisis talks in New Orleans in an eleventh-hour effort to persuade the bishops of the American branch of Anglicanism to reverse their pro-gay agenda.

But insiders said that a number of the liberal bishops were in no mood to capitulate, and any compromise that they might eventually accept was unlikely to placate conservatives who want them ousted.

Documents leaked to the Daily Telegraph suggest that they may agree on an ambiguous form of words that will fall far short of the unequivocal reassurances demanded of them, leaving Anglicanism on the brink of collapse. Insiders in the often emotive private meeting in a New Orleans hotel said that Dr Williams rapped the Americans over the knuckles for triggering the crisis by consecrating Gene Robinson as Bishop of New Hampshire in 2003.

He told them that they had to balance their fidelity to gay and lesbians with fidelity to their fellow members in the 77-million strong Anglican Communion, the vast majority of whom believe homosexuality is sinful a ndunbiblical.

But Bishop Robinson, who is attending the six-day House of Bishops meeting with his partner Mark Andrews, said that though he had always publicly supported Dr Williams, he now "had to tell the truth."

According to witnesses, he said that for Dr Williams to present the situation as a choice between fidelity to gays and fidelity to the Communion "is one of the most dehumanising things I have heard in a longtime" and he wanted no part of it.

Another liberal, the Bishop of Massachussetts, the Rt Rev Thomas Shaw, also criticised the Archbishop for failing to honour the American Church's "prophetic discernment" in consecrating Bishop Robinson.

One insider said: "The speeches we heard suggested that the tide was running heavily in the direction of saying to the Archbishop, thank you for your concern but we have made up our minds and we are going forward."

Read the rest of Petre's article here.


So here's my two cents: GO +GENE!!!


It is SOOOOO long past time for these particular truths to be spoken to these particular powers.

It is time for the Archbishop be called on the dehumanizing impact on gay and lesbian people of their lives and vocations continuing to be reduced to "issues."

It is time to name it as unconscionable for a people of God committed to seeking and serving Christ in all persons and repecting the dignity of every human being to continue to perpetuate a defacto sacramental apartheid precluding the full inclusion of the gay and lesbian baptized in the Body of Christ.

And it is time to recognize the clear truth that there is no compromise short of our explusion which will satisfy the Tribal Council convening to vote us off the Anglican Island.

Those are my two cents.

For now.

Stay tuned.

Live from New Orleans

I was able to watch today's press conference live from New Orleans ... courtesy AnglicanTV. (Thanks, Kevin!) At the moment I am up to my alb in alligators with the I.R.S. story here at All Saints Church AND the regular stuff of parish-priest-life so am going to leave in-depth comments to others and get back to my day job.

That said, the "take away" quote of the day award goes to Archbishop Williams for "There is no ultimatum involved."

Despite what has been claimed there is no “ultimatum” involved. The Primates asked for a response by 30 September simply because we were aware that this was the meeting of the House likely to be formulating such a response. The ACC and Primates Joint Standing Committee will be reading and digesting what the Bishops have to say, and shall let me know their thoughts on it early next week. After this I shall be sharing what they say, along with my own assessments, with the Primates and others, inviting their advice in the next couple of weeks. I hope these days will result in a constructive and fresh way forward for all of us.

The sound you hear is the wind going out of the sails of those insisting this "was it" -- "the line in the sand" -- "the moment of decision" -- "fish or cut bait time" -- "cut the baby in half" day -- etc, etc, etc.

"It ain't necessarily so," saith the Archbishop of Canterbury.

I also appreciated the question of Integrity Communication Director John Gibson for the Archbishop:
Your Grace, UK reporter Stephen Bates asked the question in his column last week "Why would any gay person wish to be a Christian?" What word of hope do you have for the gay and lesbian baptized today?

While I didn't like the Archbishop's choice of the words "lifestyle choice" I did appreciate the core of what I heard to be his message: the Good News for Gay and Lesbian Christians is the same for all Christians.

And that's all we've ever asked for.

It's the sacramental apartheid thing we're asking the church/communion to get over.
Finally, kudos to +Charles Jenkins for making very clear that:

"There are no throw away lives."
Something that one would think should go without saying from a minister of the Christian Gospel but something that goes a long way toward reaching across the conservative/liberal -- orthodox/progressive -- reasserter/reappraiser -- whatever-you-want-to-call-it divide.
More later ... back to work.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Because there's not already enough going on this week ...

... this Media Alert just went out from my office at All Saints Church in Pasadena:



On Sunday, September 23, 2007 the Reverend J. Edwin Bacon, Jr. will address new developments regarding the IRS investigation of All Saints Church Pasadena. Bacon will preach at both the 9:00 and 11:15 a.m. services and will hold a press conference immediately following the 11:15 service in the All Saints Church Forum.

The IRS commenced the investigation on June 9, 2005, raising questions about a guest sermon delivered by the Rev. Dr. George Regas. The guest sermon, entitled “If Jesus Debated Senator Kerry and President Bush,” addressed the moral and religious implications of various social issues facing our country today. The Rev. Dr. Regas explicitly stated that he did not intend to tell the congregation how to vote and that “good people of profound faith will be for either George Bush or John Kerry for reasons deeply rooted in their faith.” The IRS has alleged that this sermon constituted prohibited political campaign intervention.

Background documents are available online at the All Saints Church website

The Custody Battle Rages

Family fights are the worst. No doubt about it. And the WORST of the worst are the custody battles that take on a life of their own and tear families so sadly apart. Reading through the reports from New Orleans this morning, as the House of Bishops settles into its agenda, it occured to me that what we're really engaged in IS a "custody battle" of sorts ... and that it may just take the Wisdom of Solomon to sort it out.

So, being the faithful Anglican that I am, my reason drew me to reflect on my tradition which called me to consult the scriptures we inherit as the Living Word of God to see what word there might be for us today.
And I turned to the 3rd chapter of First Kings ... verses 16-28 to be precise ... and read again how King Solomon in his wisdom determined which woman was the best custodial parent for the child in question: the one who was willing to let the child go or the one who was willing to have him cut in two.
(Perhaps you can see where I'm going with this.)
Even a cursory glance at the rhetoric swirling around the meetings just begun illustrate that there are two clearly oppositional positions in operation: the let's continue to build bridges and find common ground folks and those insisting that this is a "moment of decision" and if the baby gets split in half then the baby gets split in half.
How will the story end? Yet to be determined. But my money's on Ruach to eventually have her way with them! And that's where my prayers are going:
That the same spirit of wisdom that inspired our forefather Solomon might be present with our bishops in their deliberations.
That the truth that those willing to continue to walk forward together with those with whom they disagree are indeed the "true custodians" in this cutody battle over who owns Anglicanism might be heard.
And that, in the end, what unites us as an Anglican family will indeed be more important than what presently challenges us in this ugly custody fight.
For updates on unfolding events in New Orleans keep your eye on Walking With Integrity where John Gibson and John Clinton Bradley will be reporting for Integrity USA.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Prayers Ascending

The Collect for the Day for this coming Sunday, which we prayed together at Eucharist today, seems oh-so-appropriate a prayer to pray as our bishops gather in New Orleans and our church and our communion consider our way forward together:

Grant us, Lord, not to be anxious about earthly things, but to love things heavenly; and even now, while we are placed among things that are passing away, to hold fast to those that shall endure; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

More later. Back to my "day job."

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

20 Questions

Some good questions this morning from this new piece just posted to Dr. Louie Crew's blog NATTER:


The Rev. George Conger reports that Archbishop Peter Akinola's press person is in a huff with the Archbishop of Canterbury for believing a UPI report that Nigerian Bishop Orama said, "Homosexuality and lesbianism are inhuman. Those who practice them are insane, satanic and are not fit to live because they are rebels to God's purpose for man."

What are the exact words Bishop Orama said? Is there no manuscript available of the Archbishop's precise remarks?

What motive would the reporter have to make up such statements, especially since there were so many present who could say that the report was false?

How free are reporters in Nigeria to document unpopular stories?

Would the reporter lose his job if he held to what he had heard? Why have we heard no outcry from those present? Did they hear what was reported, and are they afraid to get their bishop in further trouble? Or were they in easy agreement with the hatred?

Why has Bishop Orama not spoken directly to the world, or at least directly to the Archbishop of Canterbury? Why has Bishop Orama not spoken directly with lesbians and gays?

Why has Archbishop Akinola relied solely on his press agent? Is he afraid to speak out himself lest the original report prove true?

The standard of Christian discourse is to speak the truth to one another in love. This entire episode is very shady. It's one thing to hate; it's quite another not to have the spiritual courage to own upto the hated.

I would welcome an opportunity to meet face to face with Bishop Orama and Archbishop Akinola about this matter. I hope that I would be able to give much better News.

Louie Crew
Chair of the Newark deputation to General Convention


Well said, Louie! The biggest question, however, is "Is anybody listening?"

Monday, September 17, 2007

We all need the Anglicans right now

There are days when I actually don't care anymore. About the Communion. About whether or not we're "Anglican" or not. About all the jots and tiddles that consume those consumed with the consuming saga of "As the Anglican World Turns."

On those days, I have lots of company. Titusonenine notes that "the buzz and news overload that those of us who follow the blogs are experiencing right now may be surprisingly limited in scope." For the truth is, the VAST majority of Anglicans -- whether they're in Nigeria or Northampton or Nebraska -- are going about their business, trying to love their neighbors as themselves and get their "inch at a time" done for the day.

Who cares if the Anglican Communion blows itself up? Honest to Pete not most of the people I talk to. Really!

And yet ...

And yet ...

And so ...

I was so very grateful at the end of a VERY long day to find the link to this article by Sr. Joan Chittister ... yes the very one whose "inch at a time" quote inspired the creation of this blog ... entitled:

"We all need the Anglicans right now."
Published today in the National Catholic Reporter you can read the whole piece here (and should!) but here's an excerpt:

The question the Anglican communion is facing for us all right now is a clear one: What happens to a group, to a church, that stands poised to choose either confusion or tyranny, either anarchy or authoritarianism, either unity or uniformity? Are there really only two choices possible at such a moment? Is there nowhere in-between?

The struggle going on inside the Anglican Communion about the episcopal ordination of homosexual priests and the recognition of the homosexual lifestyle as a natural state is not peculiar to Anglicanism. The issue is in the air we breathe. The Anglicans simply got there earlier than most. And so they may well become a model to the rest of us of how to handle such questions. If the rate and kinds of social, biological, scientific and global change continue at the present pace, every religious group may well find itself at the breakpoint between "tradition" and "science" sooner rather than later.

Theological questions driven by new scientific findings, new social realities, new technological possibilities abound. How moral is it to take cells from one person for the treatment of another if all human cells are potentially life generating? Is that the destruction of life? If homosexuality is "natural," meaning biologically configured at birth, why is it immoral for homosexuals to live in homosexual unions -- even if they are bishops? After all, isn't that what we said -- in fact, did -- when we argued "scientifically" that blacks were not fit for ordination because blacks weren't quite as human as whites? And so we kept them out of our seminaries and called ourselves "Christian" for doing it. Without even the grace to blush.

It is not so much how moral we think we are that is the test of a church. Perhaps the measure of our own morality is how certain we have been of our immoral morality across the ages. That should give us caution. We said, at one time, that it was gravely immoral to charge interest on loans, that it was mortally sinful to miss Mass on Sunday, that people could not read books on the Index, that the divorced could not remarry. And we brooked no question on any of these things. People were either in or out, good or bad, religious or not, depending on whether they stood at one end or another of those spectrums.

Clearly, the problem is not that definitions of morality can shift in the light of new information or social reality. The problem is that we don't seem to know how to deal with the questions that precede the new insights. We seem to think that we have only two possible choices: the authoritarianism model, which requires intellectual uniformity and calls it "community" or a kind of intellectual anarchism, which eats away at the very cloth of tradition in a changing world.

The problem is that threatened by change we are more inclined to suppress the prophetic question than we are to find the kind of structures that can release the Spirit, that can lead us beyond unthinking submission while honoring the tradition and testing the spirits ...

From where I stand, we need those who can develop a model of faith in times of uncertainty in which the tradition is revered and the prophetic is honored. Unless we want to see ourselves go into either tyranny or anarchy, we better pray for the Anglicans so that they can show us how to do that.

Yes, Sister Joan, pray for the Anglicans. Please. We need it this week. And thanks for reminding THIS Anglican why I care. So much. Even on the days when I think I don't.