Thursday, August 31, 2006

So what's up with the Archbishop of Canterbury?

"So what's up with +Rowan?" is a question I've been getting in various shapes for forms for months but there's been a definite upswing since the interview published in Nederlands Dagblad has gotten such a wide press response ... at least in part because the conservative bloggers & tabloidists have been applying the same methodology to +Rowan's interview as they do to certain biblical texts and headlining conclusions based on their own proof texting.

I do recommend that you read the whole interview -- linked above -- to put all the "texts in context." But enough about that. Once we've read it for ourselves, what ARE we to make of what's up with Canterbury? Rather than blather on about it myself I'm recommending Jake's once-again-excellent reflections found at Father Jake Stops the World.

You'll want to read the whole essay, but for those itching to get on the road for their Labor Day Weekend, here's the "Clif Notes Version":

So what is going on? Has Rowan changed his mind?

I don't think so. I think the key quote from the interview is this segment; "As Archbishop I have a different task. I would feel very uncomfortable if my Church would say: this is beyond discussion, for ever. Equally I have to guard the faith and teaching of the Church. My personal ideas and questions have to take second place."

Dr. Williams has decided to hold the center, at any cost, it appears. No doubt he considers this his pastoral duty. Unfortunately, because of the extremism of the Global South and a small contingent within TEC, the center has shifted more to the right. The center now shares more with the purists than it does with the message of the Gospel. It appears to me that Dr. Williams has taken a consequentialist approach in resolving his ethical dilemma, seeking the greatest good for the greatest number.

In so doing, most likely he will lose the Episcopal Church as well as all gay and lesbian Christians and their supporters currently within the Anglican Communion. No doubt he has considered the cost and is willing to pay it for the sake of unity. I would not want to be in Dr. Williams' shoes right now.

I recognize how difficult the decision to adopt this stance was for him to make. But that does not keep the deontologist within me from reminding the Archbishop that some things are always right, and some things are always wrong, regardless of the greater good. Achieving unity on the backs of your gay and lesbian brothers and sisters is wrong.

Even if we are abandoned by Canterbury to fend for ourselves, the Episcopal Church will continue to proclaim the radically inclusive love of the living God. We will not reject that calling.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Arnold Gets One Right

Schwarzenegger Signs Gay Rights Bill
by Newscenter Staff
August 29, 2006

(Sacramento, California) California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed legislation Tuesday banning discrimination in state operated or funded programs on the basis of actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.

The legislation is designed to protect from discrimination, Californians who utilize public services such as police and fire protection, financial aid, social services and food stamps.
The measure would also include protections for those associated with a person receiving services who has, or is perceived to have, any characteristic covered by the bill.
The legislation passed its final hurdle in the legislature earlier this month when the Assembly approved it on a 43-25 vote.

This bill will help to ensure that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Californians are treated equally by our government and is an important step towards our goal of ending discrimination in the Golden State," said Geoff Kors, the executive director of Equality California which lobbied for the measure's passage.

Schwarzenegger has still not indicated whether he will sign a revised LGBT education bill. The original wording of the bill would have mandated the teaching of LGBT history in schools. It passed the Senate but was weakened in the Assembly at the request of its author, Sen. Sheila Kuehl (D-Los Angeles), after Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger threatened to veto it.

The new version banning materials and activities in California schools that are discriminatory towards the state's LGBT community or portray gays in a negative light, passed the Assembly last week and must still receive approval in the Senate.

Conservative Christian groups are lobbying Schwarzenegger to veto the bill.

The Republican governor has had a mixed record on LGBT issues. He came to office promoting himself as a moderate, signing several LGBT rights bills, and angering conservatives. But he lost gay support last year he vetoed a bill that would have legalized same-sex marriage in the state.

Monday, August 28, 2006

The Gospel According to Merriam Webster

I'm not preaching this Sunday but since we do the lessons for the coming Sunday at our daily noonday Eucharist I was amazed to see that "True Religion Sunday" has rolled around again already. Where DID the year go? Seems like yesterday rather than twelve months ago I was working on Speaking of True Religion -- a sermon I remember for several reasons but primarily because it was preached on August 28, 2005 -- the Eve of Katrina. As the great storm bore down on the Gulf Coast I remember finishing the sermon and sending one last email before I shut down the computer for the night ... an email to +Charles Jenkins (Bishop of Louisiana) ... assuring him and his diocese of our prayers during this time of trial.

Bishop Jenkins and I met as part of the team that traveled to Nottingham to the ACC Meeting in June 2005 and while we stand on opposite sides of at least a few political and theological fences we also share a love of the Lord and of the Episcopal Church. I had no idea that my email would be the last one he would receive before they lost power and contact from the storm. And I had not the slightest idea that "time of trial" I prayed for would still be impacting lives a year later -- no idea of the devastation to the Gulf Coast and to the devastation to our national psyche as we watched in horror the events of the days and weeks that followed Katrina's devastation.

So ... a year later ... here's the snippet of that sermon that struck me today:

[I'm] feeling this morning a little like I won some kind of preaching rotation lottery because, once again, I’m in the pulpit on this late-summer-Sunday I've come to think of as "True Religion Sunday." "True religion" -- words from the Collect of the Day for today, "Proper 17:" Lord of all power and might, the author and giver of all good things: Graft in our hearts the love of your Name; increase in us true religion; nourish us with all goodness; and bring forth in us the fruit of good works; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever. AMEN.

Whenever we talk about "true religion" I think it bears repeating that the word "religion" turns out to have the same root as the word "ligament" – that which "binds together" – and one of its dictionary definitions is "that which binds together people in their quest for the divine." Not "that which insists that our way is the only way." Not "that which gives people license to villanize, exclude and even kill in God’s name." Not "that which creates enough rules and restrictions that everybody you disagree with has to stay out."

Nope -- "That which binds together people in their quest for the divine." The Gospel according to Merriam-Webster.

It was what bound a bishop from Louisiana and a priest from Pasadena together across the miles and across a hurricane -- and maybe, just maybe, it is what could ... if we were truly open to its increase in us ... bridge some of the divides we face in this post-Katrina/post-Windsor/post-9/11 world.

The Gospel According to Merriam-Webster. Maybe we could use a little more of that kind of true religion being preached this week. Couldn't hurt.

Pluto Gets The Boot

Nothing like a little satire to start off the last-official-week-of-summer. Thanks to Lane Hensley, Rector of Transfiguration Church, Chicago and to the several colleagues who emailed this with an "you gotta read this" subject line! Enjoy!

Mickey Mouse's Dog No Longer a Planet

PRAGUE – Astronomers and space deputies representing earth and all stars met in late August amid loud boiling test tubes to sing a new song: Pluto is no longer a planet, they say. High anxiety replaced equally high hopes at the event. A more expansive understanding of the nature of the heavens gave way to a reactive circling of the wagons among the participants, whose work seemed arcane and irrelevant to most outsiders.

“Pluto has done ma-a-a-arvelous things,” said a spokesperson for the planet Saturn, the solar system’s second largest planet, “but one has to appreciate the gravity of the situation and acknowledge that Pluto’s precipitous and unilateral designation as a planet has caused confusion and pain throughout the galaxy.”

Read it all here ... and have a great Monday!

Friday, August 25, 2006

Fun Facts to Know and Tell About ALPO*

"ALPO ... it's not just for dog food anymore!"

Many thanks to Kim Byham (Diocese of Newark) who offered this helpful, clarifying, thorough overview of everything you always wanted to know about *Alternative Primatial Oversight but didn't know to ask!

Thanks, Kim! You're the best ...

What is Alternative Primatial Oversight?

Alternative Primatial Oversight (ALPO) is a term invented by members ofthe Anglican Communion Network to provide a mechanism for them to leave the Episcopal Church. The Dioceses of Fort Worth, San Joaquin, Pittsburgh, South Carolina, Central Florida, and Springfield have requested it. The Diocese of Dallas has appealed to the Archbishop ofCanterbury for a direct primatial relationship with him.

Are there any precedents for ALPO?

While the term is new, the concept of dioceses leaving the EpiscopalChurch is not. Three new provinces of the Anglican Communion have beenformed in recent years out of dioceses of the Episcopal Church: theEpiscopal Church in the Philippines, la Iglesia Anglicana de Mexico, andla Iglesia Anglicana de la Region Central de America. More relevant, however, are the three individual dioceses which have left the EpiscopalChurch since 1967: Cuba, Puerto Rico and Liberia. Liberia is thesimplest case - it joined the Church of the Province of West Africa, inwhich it was geographically located, in 1980. Puerto Rico (now back inthe Episcopal Church) and Cuba (which considered but rejected rejoiningin 2003) are more likely precedents for ALPO.

During its sojourn out ofthe Episcopal Church (1979-2003), Puerto Rico was "extra-provincial."This was often described as "extra-provincial to Province IX" of theEpiscopal Church, but this was misleading and implied it was part of theEpiscopal Church but not directly related to any of its provinces. Indeed, it was not part of the Episcopal Church during that period, butit still had primatial oversight by the Presiding Bishop who delegated oversight to Province IX. Cuba since 1967 has a more complicated version of primatial oversight consisting of a Metropolitan Council (acouncil that serves the role of a primate) consisting of the primates ofthe West Indies, Canada, and the Episcopal Church (again delegated toProvince IX).

As was the case for Puerto Rico, when Cuba receivedalternative primatial oversight, it ceased to be part of the EpiscopalChurch. It is important to note that in all the cases sighted above, the dioceses leaving the Episcopal Church were given permission to do so by the General Convention.

Why was ALPO requested?

This is the key question. Had the seven dioceses simply stated their intention to leave the Episcopal Church, the Presiding Bishop would have declared the sees vacant and appointed interim bishops to preside in those dioceses. Similarly, the congregations and individuals remaining committed to the Episcopal Church would have met to elect a new Standing Committee and other officers and set up processes for electing new bishops.

Instead, by asking for ALPO, the seven dioceses have frozen the ground on which they sit. The Presiding Bishop cannot declare the sees vacant nor can the loyal Episcopalians meet to elect new representatives.The Canons of the Episcopal Church make explicit what has long beenCatholic tradition: "It is hereby declared as the judgment of this Church that no two Bishops of Churches in communion with each other should exercise jurisdiction in the same place; except as may be defined by a concordat adopted jointly by the competent authority of each of the said Churches, after consultation with the appropriate inter-Anglicanbody." [Canon 11, Section 4]

While this is being ignored even as I write by the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion), it is not something that the Episcopal Church would violate by sending in new bishops for the ALPO dioceses. They know that and, while encouraging others to ignore our canons and Lambeth resolutions to the same effect, they will use Episcopal Church canons to protect their own diocesan offices andproperty.

Is ALPO similar to DEPO? [Delegated Episcopal Oversight]

The only similarity between ALPO and DEPO is the word "oversight." DEPO contains two words that make it wholly different from ALPO: "Delegated,"which implies that there is an entity with superior jurisdiction which is delegating and can withdraw such delegation; and "Pastoral," which implies that such oversight is limited to pastoral issues. In seeking direct primatial oversight from the Archbishop of Canterbury, theDiocese of Dallas stated that it would be for "mission, pastoral supportand accountability," implying that unlike a parish under DEPO which remains part of its diocese, the Diocese of Dallas sees ALPO as meaning it would no longer be accountable to the Presiding Bishop and Primate of the Episcopal Church and presumably to the Constitution and Canons ofour Church.

Can it be granted without approval of General Convention?

No, it would be wholly unprecedented and presumptively null and void.

Can the ABC grant ALPO?

The dioceses requesting ALPO have applied to both the Archbishop of Canterbury and to the Primates Meeting (two of the "Instruments of Communion"). Neither would have the right to unilaterally assign dioceses of the Episcopal Church to other provinces - or create a new one -without the consent of the Episcopal Church.

It appears, however, that those requesting ALPO are hoping that the Archbishop of Canterbury and/or the Primates Meeting will ostensibly grant them ALPO notwithstanding the lack of authorization by GeneralConvention and that will give them cover that they can use in court andin the court of public opinion to retain their property.

Are they asking to be in another province?

Yes. Although a bit late in this discussion, please be careful not to confuse a province of the Episcopal Church (of which there are nine) anda province of the Anglican Communion (of which there are 38). ALPO calls for the latter, not the former. Do not be fooled by the word "oversight." As indicated above, these dioceses seek to be accountable to a primate other than the Presiding Bishop and presumptively to no longer be responsible for upholding the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church.

What are the downsides to ALPO for those seeking it?

I suspect they are legion and I welcome additional thoughts. One that comes to mind is that if these dioceses manage to create a lifeboat for themselves so they can keep their property - and even that of the loyal parishes in their dioceses - they may undercut the arguments of dissenting parishes in non-ALPO dioceses, particularly in states wherethey are located.

Religion in the News

The question this article suggests to me is: Who gets to decide where "the center" is?

Religion in the News
The Associated Press
Friday, August 25, 2006; 7:04 AM

DALLAS -- As a moderate Episcopalian in the conservative Diocese of Dallas, Dixie Hutchinson doesn't find her strength in numbers.

"Nobody around here would elect me to anything," she says.

Soon, she may find herself even more isolated.

Dallas Bishop James M. Stanton is among the leaders of seven Episcopal dioceses who have rejected the authority of the denomination's incoming national leader, Nevada Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, as the debate over the Bible and gay relationships tears at the church.
The move, prompted partly by Jefferts Schori's support for gay relationships, falls just short of a complete break. But in October, Dallas-area Episcopalians will meet to more fully consider their future in the denomination.

The six other dissenting dioceses _ Central Florida; Fort Worth, Texas; Fresno, Calif.; Pittsburgh; Springfield, Ill., and South Carolina _ are having similar internal debates. And even though the Diocese of Dallas is overwhelmingly conservative, anxiety about what's ahead is apparent throughout its 77 churches.

Christ Church Episcopal in suburban Plano, one of the largest Episcopal parishes in the country with about 2,200 worshippers each weekend, is not waiting for the fall diocesan convention; it has already announced plans to leave The Episcopal Church.

Via Media Dallas, which represents liberals and moderates including Hutchinson who want to remain part of the denomination, issued a statement from 15 local priests who say they will not participate in any "disassociation" from the actions and leadership of the church.

Splitting from the national leaders would create spiritual orphans throughout the region _ moderates and liberals who may have to leave the churches where they worshipped for years.

Read it all here

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Waging Fragmentation

Great new piece just posted to The Witness website by Daniel Webster, recently of Utah and presently on staff with the National Council of Churches.

by Daniel J. Webster
Thursday, August 24, 2006

We blinked. We had stood up for the Holy Spirit's full inclusion of all people. And then we blinked. Why? What happened in Columbus that didn't happen in Minneapolis?

General Convention is supposed to be our governing authority. We have no pope. We have no dictatorial central teaching authority. We are governed by lay, clergy and bishops coming together in prayer and discernment to lay out the best way they know how the actions of God leading us forward as this church in this time.

But in Columbus, it appears all the rules got thrown aside because of threats from a faction of so-called Christians who are driven by power and control rather than grace and justice.
I felt the Holy Spirit once again in the hall when the announcement came that the first female presiding bishop was elected. The time afforded prayer in the House of Deputies was extraordinary. The silence before the announcement of the bishops' choice was most reminiscent of the Deputies' vote for Gene Robinson three years ago. It was like a Pentecost wind blowing through our church. The polity of our church was working. It was open, transparent, and grace-filled.

We had stood up for the Holy Spirit's full inclusion of all people. And then we blinked.

But then on the final day in Columbus one Convention blogger said the outgoing presiding bishop "chastised" both deputies and bishops for "not taking seriously" the Windsor Report. The incoming presiding bishop made a plea for the deputies to pass the resolution that targets one group of Episcopalians as unworthy of being elected bishop. One deputy was quoted in the media as saying, "What are you supposed to do when your presiding bishop asks you to do something?"

I wasn't there. I had left Convention that morning. But my answer to the question proposed by that deputy is that when your presiding bishops asks you to do something, read it closely, carefully, and prayerfully. Roll it over your tongue. If it tastes bad, don't swallow it. Don't let the work of the Holy Spirit and all the good and faithful servants of God be thrown away. Don't give up the democratic polity of the Episcopal Church for the patriarchal, authoritarian polity of the Church of Nigeria.

Read it all here ... and be sure to bookmark "The Witness" as one of the great prophetic resources in the church today!

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Thus Spake the Secretary General ...

... in this reply to an inquiry regarding the upcoming "September Summit" from a colleague (shared with permission):

Thank you for your email. Its contents have been carefully noted. The meeting in September to which you refer has been convened precisely so that bishops who are asking for alternative primatial oversight can meet with their current primate and his successor to determine from within the Episcopal Church the best way forward. While the Archbishop of Canterbury had a role in establishing this meeting, and will be represented at it by the Secretary General of the Anglican Communion, it is intended to allow the Episcopal Church to reach its own conclusions, and does not represent any independent action by the Archbishop of Canterbury at all.

You may like to read Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold's recent comment on the meeting, which you will find here.

Do please join with us in praying for the well-being of the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion and that God's will for all God's children may be clearly known and heeded.

G K Cameron
Deputy Secretary General
Anglican Communion Office

Correction/Apology from the ACO

22-August-2006 - Correction/Apology

[ACO] We regret the fact that the name of the Primate-elect of the Episcopal Church was misspelled in ACNS 4177.

My apologies to Her Grace for the error.

J M Rosenthal, Editor
link to ACO site

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Yes, I guess I AM a tad perplexed

So "anonymous" (who seems to have ever so much time to post comments to this blog!) sent me the following "new TEC Hymn" for my comment:

Our gospel is inclusive.
(The other one's passe.)
We welcome all the sexes,
Transgendered, lesbigay.
And though we're loudly preaching
Our relevant good news,
We are a tad perplexed by
So many empty pews.
--Rev. J. M. Deschene, Rhode Island

Well, I am a tad perplexed. But what I'm perplexed about are which pews Reverend Deschene is referring to. Ours are pretty darned full, thank you very much, even in the "dead of summer" when all good Episcopalians used to retire to somewhere else until it was time to pack the white shoes away until Memorial Day. In point of fact we had standing room only at last week's Narnia Kid's Camp. A full house for Sunday's between-services-adult-ed-offering. And a fifty-voice volunteer choir to lead us out on "A mighty fortress is our God" -- one of my all time favs -- as we processed out to love and serve the Lord for another week. Attendance is up. Giving is up. Energy is up.

And it isn't just here at All Saints Church. At Saturday's deanery budget review meeting Bishop Bruno and staff brought us reports that showed diocesan pledged income above budget projections for this point in 2006. Nearly $200,000 above. And parish giving percentages are up, too ... from an average of 10% to 10.5%. The Episcopal Church, it seems, IS alive and well ... how come we don't hear more about that?

Why do we keep hearing about the 600 or so disgruntled members who've left this diocese for greener Ugandan pastures rather than the 60,000 plus who are doing just fine doing justice and loving mercy as Episcopalians?

Why do we have to spend so much time, energy and angst on the four congregations who think they're not Episcopalian anymore rather than focusing on the energy, activity and ministry of the 140+ who are?

That's what I'm perplexed about. Anybody got a hymn for that?

"September Summit" Statement from Presiding Bishop Griswold

[Episcopal News Service] Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold has issued a statement of clarification regarding a group of bishops who will meet in New York in the first half of September "as an opportunity for those of differing perspectives to come together in a spirit of mutual respect to exchange views."

The full text of the statement follows:

I have become aware of a great deal of speculation regarding a meeting that will take place in New York in mid-September. I would like, therefore, to offer a few clarifying words on what has been conceived as an opportunity for those of differing perspectives to come together in a spirit of mutual respect to exchange views.

Shortly after the General Convention, Kenneth Kearon, the Secretary General of the Anglican Communion, shared with me some conversations he had had with the Archbishop of Canterbury regarding the whole notion of "alternative primatial oversight" and the difficulty in making a response. Though application for the same had been made to the Archbishop, it was clear in our conversation that the Archbishop, though symbolic head of the Anglican Communion, has no direct authority over the internal life of the Provinces that make up the Communion. Canon Kearon's point was that such requests needed to be discussed and a resolution be sought within the Episcopal Church itself.

We agreed that the most helpful next step might be to have a candid conversation to include the Presiding Bishop-elect and me together with bishops who have expressed a need for "alternative primatial oversight," and to have Canon Kearon join with us in the conversations. Bishops Duncan and Iker were then asked to be participants. We also agreed that the group might be expanded by other bishops to be chosen by the participants themselves. Bishops Duncan and Iker invited Bishops Salmon, Stanton and Wimberly to take part. I have asked Bishops Henderson, O'Neill and Sisk.

This is the genesis of the meeting now set for mid-September. Bishop Peter Lee was asked to serve as convener and he in turn thought it would be helpful were he joined by a bishop known to have views different from his own. Accordingly, Bishop John Lipscomb was also asked to serve as convener. Whether or not this is the first in a series or in fact a one-time conversation will be decided by the group itself.

As I write these words I am deeply mindful of the state of the world and of the desperate need for the costly and all-engaging work of reconciliation. In the light of the ongoing struggles across the globe, and certainly at this moment in the Middle East, the preoccupation with our own internal disagreements must not allow us to close our eyes to the needs of the world and its suffering people.

Update on "As The Anglican World Turns"

Recently on ATWT (As The Anglican World Turns) the announcement by the Anglican Communion Office of a pending meeting between ACO officials and a select group of Episcopal bishops generated much speculation. (Never mind that EVERYTHING seems to generate much speculation in the church these days ...)

Bishop Iker in an interview with The Living Church said he hoped the meeting would bring "clarity." (For those thinking they must have missed an episcode of ATWT because the last they heard was that COLUMBUS had provided clarity all I can say is we must have missed the same episode.)

The Episcopal Majority folks immediately urged the PB and PB-elect to "to hold fast to the legitimate Anglican tradition through the following: to deny any “alternate primatial oversight” for Episcopal dioceses; to oppose firmly the CANA initiative; to make clear that our sincere attempt at moderation at General Convention has been rebuffed by forces at home and abroad; and to affirm once more the consecration of the Rt. Rev. V. Gene Robinson and the legitimate right of homosexual persons to all the Sacraments of this church."

Meanwhile the Wake Up folks asked some great questions and offered some suggestions on how to make your concerns know in their piece "Tightening the Noose."

But wait ... there's more! Now we get a statement from the Presiding Bishop, clarifying the focus of the meeting "conceived as an opportunity for those of differing perspectives to come together in a spirit of mutual respect to exchange views."

Meanwhile (redundant, I know, but I'm in a hurry to get this posted and get to staff meetings) one of the smartest people on the planet -- Bill Carroll -- had this to say (over at Fr. Jake Stops the World):

I am far more certain in our baptismal covenant than I am in the results of any meeting of bishops, no matter who calls it or who attends. Whatever they offer, I will strive to seek and serve Christ in all persons. No exceptions allowed.

My only concern about the meeting is that, like the Windsor Report, it seems to be more about preserving institutions than following the Gospel. I pray that something useful may come out of this meeting, but if the negotiating stance of the conservatives remains that we must renounce our baptismal vows and embrace an authoritarian vision of the Church, then little will be accomplished.

I suppose that preservation of the institution is at least a prima facie good, but we must remember that it is only a provisional and relative good, a means to an end, the faithful mission of the Church to all people. I pray that all who take counsel for the Church will keep in mind the obligation of all Christians and other people of goodwill to "promote the dignity of every human being." I would also reiterate the concern that openly gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered persons be included in all meetings that discuss the future of the Church.

Will Schori or Griswold have the moral courage to bring Gene Robinson with them? I would like people other than bishops to be in the room, but if we limit it to bishops, he is the only choice that can make this conversation a conversation with lgbtq people rather than about them.

What Bill said. And let the people say, AMEN!

PS - Anybody else remember back when things SLOWED DOWN over the summer?


Release from the "Wake Up" folks ...

The Anglican Communion News Service has announced that the Archbishop of Canterbury, after consultations with the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, has asked Bishop Peter Lee of Virginia and Bishop John Lipscomb of Southwest Florida to convene a group of bishops from the Episcopal church "to meet together to discuss some of the difficult issues facing the Church and to explore possible resolutions."

This announcement raises a number of serious concerns.Consider the following.

ONE -- By what authority is Archbishop Rowan Williams calling for meetings of bishops of the Episcopal Church? The Presiding Bishop has now been reduced to someone merely to be "consulted" about the meeting, while the Archbishop, apparently, decides who attends.

TWO -- One of the "conveners" named by Archbishop Williams is Bishop John Lipscomb of Southwest Florida. From the start, Lipscomb was at the forefront of the fight against the ordination of Gene Robinson as the Episcopal Church's first openly gay bishop and since Bishop Robinson's ordination has consistently worked to weaken the unity of the Episcopal Church. He is one of the original founders of the ACN.

THREE -- The other "convener" of the meeting is Bishop Peter Lee of Virginia. Lee voted in 2003 for the consecration of Gene Robinson but afterwards publicly recanted and now says he would not do so again. He has said that "it's appropriate for the American Episcopal Church to back away [from ordaining gay people] to serve the wider unity of the church."

FOUR -- Two of the other bishops invited by Archbishop Williams are Bishop Jack Iker of Fort Worth and Bishop Bob Duncan of Pittsburgh. Their views are well known: they want their small group of right-wing dioceses to separate from the Episcopal Church and to be declared the true representatives of the Anglican Communion in the U.S. and they want the Episcopal Church to be thrown out of the Anglican Communion.

FIVE -- Although Presiding Bishop-elect Jefferts Schori will attend the meeting she will not do so with much authority. Bishop Griswold will still be our Primate. The timing of the meeting leads to the suspicion that Archbishop Williams wants to pressure Bishop Griswold one last time. Bishop Griswold has often succumbed to pressure and in the process become the enforcer of the Episcopal Church's policy of appeasement toward the hate-mongers and fundamentalists of the Anglican Communion, led by Archbishop Akinola of Nigeria.

The following questions need to be asked.

ONE -- Why have only the most conservative and retrograde bishops of the Episcopal Church been invited to this meeting? Why was Bishop Gene Robinson of New Hampshire not invited? Why were Bishops Bruno of Los Angeles or Chane of Washington or Chilton Knudsen of Maine not invited?

TWO -- Does the rush to hold this meeting so soon after General Convention and before the investiture of Katharine Jefferts Schori as Presiding Bishop indicate that Archbishop Williams thinks that Bishop Schori will be less inclined to capitulation and appeasement than Bishop Griswold?

THREE -- What other "compromises" will be exacted from the Episcopal Church? Will gay people, as an outcome of this meeting, be told that their place in the back of the bus has now been made permanent?

FOUR --The first session of these meetings will take place "in New York in the first half of September". No specific place or date was announced. Why all the secrecy?

FIVE -- Why does all this remind us of Neville Chamberlain?


ONE -- EMAIL ARCHBISHOP WILLIAMS NOW and let him know what you think of his proposed series of meetings. The Archbishop is not directly available by email, but you can send a message to him c/o J. Rosenthal, Anglican Communion Director of Communications:

It is important that you also tell THE REV. CANON KENNETH KEARON, Secretary General of the Anglican Consultative Council how you feel. He is the Archbishop's designated hitter at the meeting. He is also not directly available, but his deputy is: (Based on the ACO's email convention, you may want to try

TWO -- EMAIL PRESIDING BISHOP GRISWOLD NOW and tell him that he has sacrificed the rights of gay people in our church long enough. Email and use this subject line: PRESIDING BISHOP IMMEDIATE ATTENTION.

THREE -- EMAIL BISHOP JEFFERTS SCHORI NOW and tell her not to let the Archbishop of Canterbury snooker her the way he has snookered Bishop Griswold and our church. In a hopeful sign for the future, Bishop Jefferts Schori has a known e-mail address

FOUR -- Don't bother writing to Bishops Lipscomb, Lee, Iker or Duncan. You'd be wasting your time.From time to time,

WAKE UP, a coalition of concerned Episcopalians working for a full inclusion church, issues WAKE UP CALLS, to alert members of our church about some urgent issue or development. This is WAKE UP CALL No. 1For more information about WAKE UP, go to

Monday, August 21, 2006

Out In Scripture: New Resource from the Human Rights Campaign

This Human Rights Campaign resource places comments about the Bible alongside the real life experiences and concerns of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people of faith and our allies. With the help of skilled scholars, you will discover a fresh approach to Scripture. Here you can be honest, question and go deeper. Out In Scripture is a resource for you — anyone open to God’s voice for today. It is especially helpful for preachers preparing sermons based on the RCL -- Revised Common Lectionary. Check it out here

The storm on the 'High Seas of Anglicanism'

Check out this "blast from the past" -- "The storm on the 'High Seas of Anglicanism" -- a piece by Elizabeth Kaeton written as we prepared for General Convention ...

... 2003!

Read it here ... and have a great week!

London Telegraph on September Summit

by Jonathan Petre, Religion Correspondent

The Archbishop of Canterbury warned yesterday that the Church of England could be torn apart by legal battles over property if he fails to prevent Anglicanism splitting over gays.

Dr Rowan Williams said that his "nightmare" was that the worldwide Church could disintegrate into rival groups within a decade, with each demanding a share of the Church's wealth in costly court actions. He painted a bleak picture in which there were four competing Anglican churches on one street.

"That would take so much energy from what we're meant to be doing," he said in an interview with Nederlands Dagblad, an evangelical newspaper in Holland.

The Archbishop will host a summit next month with the liberal leadership of the American branch of Anglicanism and conservative American bishops.

Dr Williams hopes to stop the conservative Americans from breaking away over the liberal policies of the American Episcopal Church and precipitating schism. The dispute goes back to the consecration of Anglicanism's first openly gay bishop in 2003.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

"Episcopal Majority" Speaks Out on September Summit

Nice to see "The Episcopal Majority" being so clear and proactive in response to the recently announced September Summit in NYC.

We wish to express our support to Presiding Bishop Griswold, Presiding Bishop-elect, and all other faithful Episcopalian bishops as they enter these discussions. We urge them to hold fast to the legitimate Anglican tradition through the following:

  • to deny any “alternate primatial oversight” for Episcopal dioceses;

  • to oppose firmly the CANA initiative;

  • to make clear that our sincere attempt at moderation at General Convention has been rebuffed by forces at home and abroad; and

  • to affirm once more the consecration of the Rt. Rev. V. Gene Robinson and the legitimate right of homosexual persons to all the Sacraments of this church.

Read it all here.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Bishop Confab Set for September

Posted today on the Anglican Communion News Service ... much wondering about "what it means" but what I'm wondering if the ACNS couldn't have bothered to spell the Presiding Bishop-elect's name correctly.

[ACNS] Following consultation with the Presiding Bishop the Archbishop of Canterbury has asked Bishop Peter Lee of Virginia and Bishop John Lipscomb of Southwest Florida to convene a small group of bishops from the Episcopal Church (USA) to meet together to discuss some of the difficult issues facing the Church and to explore possible resolutions. Along with Bishop Griswold, those invited include Bishop Katherine Jefferts Schori, Bishop Bob Duncan, and Bishop Jack Iker . The Secretary General of the Anglican Communion will also attend. The first meeting will be taking place in New York in the first half of September

Thursday, August 17, 2006

"Wake Up" Website launched

Check it out:

WAKE UP is a coalition of concerned Episcopalians who seek a Full Inclusion Church.

We came into being during the summer of 2006, following the General Convention of the Episcopal Church. While pleased at the election of Katharine Jefferts Schori as Presiding Bishop, we experienced the passage of Resolution B-033 as a betrayal of the Church's professed acceptance of lesbian and gay Christians as full members of the Body of Christ.

We also view with alarm the attempts of some, both within and outside the Episcopal Church, to move us in a direction of exclusion, intolerance, and dogmatic "purity codes" that have never been part of the Anglican heritage.

Our primary purpose is to TAKE ACTION to STOP THE APPEASEMENT of theological bullies, and protect the Anglican heritage of inclusion and openness that has been passed down to us.
We value the unity of the Anglican Communion, but not at the price of appeasement and injustice.

While we enjoy the hospitality of an inclusive parish in New York City, we are an independent and loosely-structured group that invites other individuals, vestries, parishes, organizations, and groups to sign on in solidarity with our Statement of Purpose.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Breaking Bishop News

First, the Diocese of Hawai'i has announced the list of candidates for Bishop of Hawai'i ... election to be held in October:

1. The Reverend Canon Howard Anderson
President and Warden
of Cathedral College of Washington National Cathedral

2. The Reverend Canon Kathleen Cullinane
Associate Dean and Canon Missioner,
Christ Church Cathedral, Indianapolis, Indiana

3. The Reverend Canon Robert L. Fitzpatrick
Canon to the Ordinary,
Office of the Bishop of Hawai‘i

4. The Reverend David C. Moore
Priest-in-Charge, St. Margaret’s Church,
Bellevue, Washington

5. The Reverend Dr. Joy Rogers
Rector, St. Thomas Episcopal Church,
Battle Creek, Michigan

Second, it is being reported that the Diocese of El Camino Real has changed the charge to its Nominating Committee from:

"At this time in our history and in view of General Convention Resolution B033, the Search Committee shall not nominate any homosexual person as a candidate for bishop of the Diocese of El Camino Real."


"The Search Committee shall be mindful of General Convention Resolution B033."

My, my, my!

Monday, August 14, 2006

The Global NIGERIAN Communion?

Graphic from the new website of CANA: Convocation of Anglicans in North America (a subsidiary of the Church of Nigeria)

Mark Harris has some insightful (as always) thoughts on his blog PRELUDIUM including this assessment, "For all the spiffiness of the website it is still seems mostly like ecclesial slight of hand. I suppose we will have to see who goes to the consecration [of Martyn Minns as Missionary Bishop on August 20] and who chooses to affiliate with CANA and why. The wide range of small fragments in the disaffected and now realignment movement is now one wider and the list of “Anglican but not Episcopal” churches in the US is increased by one."

"Anglican Traditionalism" just gets curiouser and curiouser!

Bill Coats Gets It Right

Regarding the Archbishop of Canterbury's apparent "blessing" of the upcoming meeting of "Windsor Compliant Bishops" at Camp Allen called by Texas Bishop Don Wimberly, Coats say:

We are now faced with the astonishing action of an English Bishop (Canterbury has no legal standing in this country or this church) trying to sabotage the Episcopal Church. The Archbishop is certainly entitled to his beliefs, and he may not like what our General Convention did; but this does not give him the right to meddle in our internal affairs with an eye to undermining or overthrowing our process.. We had thought the Archbishop was a neutral arbiter. This outrageous act now shows him to be aligned with those who seek to harm this church. We very much encourage the Archbishop prayerfully to consider what he is doing.

Read it all here: The Episcopal Majority

Friday, August 11, 2006


Highly recommended for summer reading/marking/learning and inwardly digesting: William Coats' essay "What Is To Be Done?" -- widely circulated by email and now available at The Episcopal Majority. I'm printing it out and carrying a couple of copies around with me to hand to folks who "just don't get what the big deal is about." Check it out for yourself and stay tuned for more from "The Episcopal Majority" folks.

Also recommended is the heartfelt reflection on the aftermath of GC06 in general and the impact of B033 in particular ... Whoosh and Crack on Lisa's "My Manner of Life" blog and her follow up piece, A Codicil and Amplification. Lisa gets to the visceral heart of her pain over B033 and in the process invites us -- whether we share her experience of alienation in our own lives or not -- to count the cost of treating the LGBT faithful as expendible in the game of global Anglican politics.

More later ... we're off to the wine country for a couple of days as vacation continues. Woo hoo!

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

From One of the Ladies of Llangollen

You may know or could easily have guessed by now that I am a huge Elizabeth Kaeton Fan. I remember well the first time I heard her preach in an impossibly hot, humid and packed-to-the-rafters church in Philadelphia at the 1997 Integrity Eucharist and as a preacher I recognize how rare and wonderful it is when anyone remembers a sermon much past coffee hour ... much less nearly a decade later! That said, I want to share Elizabeth's latest reflection posted from vacation on her blog Telling Secrets as a piece that one of our colleagues has called part of "the essential Elizabeth." It is called The Ladies of Llangollen and here's a snippet:

"... reject the false dualism of ourselves as social and sexual beings and reclaim the whole/holiness of the mystery of our human being – the gift of a loving God in whose image we were created. It would mean we’d have to resist the urge to snoop into the private bedrooms of others and stop judging people for what we think they do in bed with each other. This is not an impossible task.

I believe mature adults can do this. Indeed, I know it to be so. I know. That would take a direct challenge to the current fundamentalist movement which embraces Scripture as something “God said, man wrote, and I believe” – every word, comma and period.

That is, perhaps, the biggest stumbling block to intelligent conversation, much less dialogue which might lead to understanding, compassion or, even, God help us, the kind of change of heart which would call us into a deeper, more intimate sense of relationships in community."

Read it all here ... and give thanks with me for Elizabeth's witness and wisdom!

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

A Timely Indictment

OK ... he could probably find kinder-gentler language than "crackpot" but Walter's got some important points to make here!


Crackpot Christianity and America's Current Moral Degeneration
By Walter C. Uhler

No one should decidedly adhere to an exposition of Scripture that with sure reason is ascertained to be false…in order that, from this, Scripture not be derided by the infidels.
- St. Thomas Aquinas [from Lev Shestov, Athens and Jerusalem, p. 300]

With or without religion, good people can behave well and bad people can do evil; but for good people to do evil -- that takes religion.
- Steven Weinberg

History, I believe, furnishes no example of a priest-ridden people maintaining a free civil government. This marks the lowest grade of ignorance of which their civil as well as religious leaders will always avail themselves for their own purposes.
- Thomas Jefferson

Although he might not agree with my use of the term "Crackpot Christians," Kevin Phillips is certainly correct when he claims that "the radical side of U.S. religion has embraced cultural antimodernism, war hawkishness, Armageddon prophecy, and in the case of conservative fundamentalists, a demand for government by literal biblical interpretation." [American Theocracy, p. 100]

These Crackpot Christians are largely responsible for placing one of their own, George W. Bush, in the White House. Their astounding ignorance, unquestioning faith, war hawkishness, and fascination with the End of Time subsequently rendered them gullible to the Bush administration's lies and exaggerations about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction (especially the apocalyptic "mushroom clouds") and ties to al Qaeda. Thus, they cannot escape responsibility for supporting an illegal, immoral invasion of Iraq.

Read it all here

Monday, August 07, 2006

More on Minns et al

One of my favorite blogs is "Father Jake Stops the World" -- and in this case Jake has not only stopped the world but hit the nail on the head. Check out his July 2005 background piece on the whole CAPAC/CANA/Nigeria scenario here and his current piece "Episcopal Rector AND Nigerian Bishop?" here

Revisiting "An Ontological Argument"

It's a lazy, vacation Monday and I am totally enjoying being OFF! The sun is shining, the roses are pruned, the laundry is done, the dogs are napping and we have friends coming for dinner on the patio in a little while. So I've allowed myself the indulgence of plodding around the blogosphere I've tried to stay a little detached from for at least some of the lazy-hazy-etc. days of summer.

In the process I came across this piece I wrote a while back when I was blogging for the Every Voice Network and in reading it over found myself thinking "I couldn't have said it better myself" ... which of course I did.

An Ontological Argument: April 2005

"... it seems to me that the essential matter at hand is not sexuality but baptism – and the essential question on the table is, “Will this be a church where all of the baptized are fully included in the Body of Christ or not?”

It also seems to me that whatever “threat to the unity and mission of the Anglican Communion” we are currently experiencing must be firmly laid at the feet of the committed percentage of the American conservative fringe whose criterion for being included is being agreed with. Finding that they have been repeatedly disagreed with by the duly selected representative voice of the Episcopal Church on this baptismal question their quest has shifted to orchestrating an “end run” on the historic polity of the Episcopal Church – successfully escalating an ongoing family fight into an international schism.

To further that end, in the months since General Convention 2003 every time there has been any hope of reconciliation, whiff of compromise or effort to seek the classical via media they have skillfully upped the ante, leading us to this seeming impasse on this decades old disagreement du jour. For if we are going to be honest about our differences – about this “impaired communion” – then we must trace them not to 2003 and the consecration of the Bishop of New Hampshire but to 1974 and the ordination of the Philadelphia Eleven.

If the criteria for impaired communion are our differences on who among the baptized may exercise ordained ministry – on whether or not the orders of all our bishops will be received throughout all of the Communion -- then our communion has been impaired for over thirty years – indeed, we are not in agreement on that yet within our own American Episcopal Church!

I remember well my experience at General Convention 1994 in Indianapolis when ECUSA bishop, Bill Wantland, explained to me that I had tremendous gifts for ministry but could never “be” a priest because I was “ontologically incapable of being an efficacious bearer of a sacramental presence.”It was a very clarifying moment.

According to Bishop Wantland, the very essence of my being – my “ontology” as a woman – prohibited me from exercising sacramental ministry. And yet, we have managed to muddle along, he and I, in the same church – impaired communion and all – for lo these thirty-something years.

What has changed? Why is THIS issue – the fuller inclusion and gay and lesbian people into the mission and ministry of the church – THE issue that will split the church when we have managed to work through so many others in the past? We have for decades lived in communion with those who differ on the role of women in ordained ministry in spite of those differences. Why has the ordination of an openly gay bishop – the blessing of gay unions -- become the “defining issue of orthodoxy?”

I actually got to ask that question of David Anderson (president of the American Anglican Council) just a few months before GC2003. And like my 1994 conversation with Bill Wantland it was another clarifying moment.

David was a clergy colleague of mine in Los Angeles for many years. We agreed about a few things and disagreed about more but were nevertheless “in communion” with each other. We ate lunch together once a month for a year with other clergy colleagues reading and discussing the catechism together as part of a dialogue and reconciliation effort by our bishop. We ran into each other at early morning “Mananitas” services for the Cursillo community to which we both belonged. Heck, I sang in a praise band that was part of the prayer team in David’s hotel suite the night before the episcopal election in the Diocese of Pittsburgh when David was on the ballot.

Yes, we were always at opposing microphones when debates happened on diocesan convention floor, but at one time it seemed that the essentials of the beliefs we held in common were more important than the very real differences that sometimes kept us apart.Until 2003. A few months before Minneapolis and GC2003 we were both part of a pre-convention meeting between AAC and Integrity “core leadership.”

After a long discussion I finally said to David, “We’ve been at this for decades, you and I, agreeing to disagree about any number of things. Help me understand why THIS issue is the one that you believe will finally split the church – why is this disagreement one we cannot overcome?”

And David said to me, “Because genital activity is so important to God that God has drawn a fence around it – and within that fence is only a man and a woman within the sanctity of marriage. Anything outside the fence is not subject to blessing and for the church to do so is to unravel the very fabric of the faith.”

Excuse me? If I heard David right – and in checking with my colleague in the room at the time I am assured that I did – the essential matter … the thing that matters MOST to God … is “genital activity?” I’ve got first year EFM students who could make compelling rebuttal to that contention – along with the Old and New Testaments, the received tradition and “reason” by any reasonable definition.

Is that the only argument David has to offer? Of course not – but it was clarifying to me that for the Reverend Canon David Anderson, President of the American Anglican Council, it was a defining one. It was clarifying to me because it was a window into just how far beyond the bounds of historical Anglicanism this small band of conservative reactionaries are willing to go in their quest to turn the Episcopal Church into something neither Hooker nor Seabury would recognize and my sainted Aunt Gretchen – who died with a “Save the 1928 Prayer Book” bumper sticker on her car – would find shocking.

And it has led me to conclude, in the weeks and months since that meeting, that what we are seeing play out around us has less to do with the essentials of the faith than it does with an exit strategy – an exit strategy devised by those who have determined to split this church rather than continue to live in communion with those with whom they disagree.

It is a strategy under-girded by a virulent absolutism that seems to justify any means toward the end of “preserving orthodoxy” and is, in fact, working to destroy the unity of the church while placing the blame for the break up with those of us who have repeatedly committed to STAY in communion with those with whom we disagree.

A prime example is the current attack on the Bishop of Connecticut -- the “exhibit du jour” in a long line of scenarios where a vocal minority have intentionally painted themselves into a corner by active defiance of established Episcopal polity – all justified, of course, because they alone are privy to “The Clear Truth” – and then cry “victim” when their bishop acts like one.

Which leads me to my own “ontological argument” and it is this: there is an essential difference between feeling excluded because you are not agreed with and BEING excluded because of who you are.

The current “persecution of the orthodox” in so-called “liberal dioceses” is nothing more than the self-fulfilling prophecy of the spoiled, entitled childish behavior of those pitching a fit after being told they must learn how to work and play well with others. The Gospel for Easter 5 tells us that in our Father’s house there are many mansions. St. Paul tells us that essential to the Body of Christ are its many members. And our historic tradition as Anglicans tells us that when we live into the true via media we CAN hold in tension perspectives that others find “mutually exclusive” (catholic and protestant come to mind!)

It is long past time to leave the tantrum throwers to their kicking and screaming -- just like I did to my own young sons when they tried the “my-life-is-over-if-you-don’t-buy-me-the-Cocoa-Puffs-fit” in the cereal aisle. Sometimes, no matter how you yearn to reason them out of their tantrum, you just have to keep the shopping cart moving.

And I believe we have reached that point in this ecclesial tantrum that is threatening to consume us. It is time for the church to move on – to GET on with the work of the church: feeding the hungry, healing the sick, liberating the captive and proclaiming the Good News of God in Christ Jesus available to ALL! Those are the “essential matters of faith and practice” that should be consuming our energies in this Anglican Communion – in this Episcopal Church.

And so may God give us the grace to get back to this work we have been given to do – this Gospel we have been charged with proclaiming – praying all the while that the tantrum will end and we might find unity in the places we can agree and the grace to disagree agreeably in the places we cannot.

A New Bishop for Nigeria

The rector of Truro Episcopal Church announced yesterday that he will be consecrated a bishop on Aug. 20 at the Anglican cathedral in Abuja, Nigeria, a move that could lead to further schism among U.S. Episcopalians.

(Pictured left: Martyn Minns lunching with ACO Secretary Kenneth Kearon in Columbus last June)

"This is a big deal for all of us," the Rev. Martyn Minns told parishioners at his downtown Fairfax church, which has lost 75 contributors since the 2003 election of the openly homosexual New Hampshire Bishop V. Gene Robinson.

"So often we preach faith, but we live institutionally," Mr. Minns said. "Right now, we must practice what we preach."

The parish is walking a tightrope. Virginia Bishop Peter J. Lee, who could not be reached for comment yesterday, has called Mr. Minns' election "an affront," adding that it would be "impossible" for Mr. Minns to act simultaneously as rector of Truro and as a bishop for the Nigerian church's Convocation of Anglican Churches in North America (CANA).

Yet, Mr. Minns intends to do precisely that until his successor at Truro is chosen next year.

Read it the rest here.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

More from "As the Anglican World Turns"

PITTSBURGH -- The leader of a network of conservative Episcopal dioceses says the global Anglican Communion will unravel unless the archbishop of Canterbury helps U.S. conservatives distance themselves from the Episcopal Church.

So who is it that's "walking apart" again?"

Pittsburgh Bishop Robert Duncan said that if Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams fails to address the concerns of U.S. conservatives "any hope for a Communion-unifying solution slips away, and so does the shape and leadership of the Anglican Communion as we have known them."

Why is this sounding so much like blackmail to me? Oh ... because it IS!

Bishop Duncan made the remarks Monday at a meeting of the Anglican Communion Network, which represents 10 Episcopal dioceses and more than 900 parishes with traditional views of the Bible.

That would be 10 out of 110.

Seven of the 10 network dioceses have appealed to Archbishop Williams as the spiritual head of the world's Anglicans to appoint another U.S. national leader for them after the June election of the new Episcopal presiding bishop, the Rt. Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori.

"Appoint another U.S. national leader for them ..." Sounds like innovation to me ...

To date, Archbishop Williams has only suggested that a two-tier Anglican fellowship, with traditionalists on homosexual clergy issues having a stronger voice, might be a way to preserve unity within the faith.

Because "separate but equal" worked so well now we're going to try "separate and UNequal"?

Religious Briefs, August 5, 2006 Washington Times

August Sixth: In Remembrance

Litany for Hiroshima Day of Remembrance
August 6, 2006

At 8:15 in the morning of August 6, 1945, an atomic bomb was dropped from a USA B-29 bomber on Hiroshima, Japan. More than one hundred seventy thousand people died instantly or within hours. Few were soldiers. This litany of confession brings that tragedy before God once again. It expresses both lament and longing—a longing for peace.

One: Infinite and Eternal God, who created the universe and pronounced it good, we often take the good and turn it into deeds that take, kill, and maim life in your universe. For being complicit
and sometimes intentional in destroying what you have created and for killing living beings,
Many: Forgive us, O God.

One: For being a nation that destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki and killed hundreds of thousands of innocent children, women and men,
Many: Forgive us, O God.

One: For stockpiling enough nuclear weapons to destroy the earth many times over,
Many: Forgive us, O God.

One: For the Hibakusha, the survivors of the destruction of the Atomic Bombs in Japan, in Micronesia, and in New Mexico, and for those who survived the nuclear disaster at Chernobyl,
Many: We pray to you, O God.

One: For our nation that we will disarm as we compel other nations to disarm,
Many: We pray to you, O God.

One: God of Justice and Peace, we know you as a forgiving God and a loving God. Enable us to be a forgiving and a loving people, doing justice, loving kindness, and walking humbly with you.
Many: We pray to you. O God. Amen.

Photo: After placing wreath, Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold prays on October 23 at Hiroshima memorial with Japan's primate, Joseph Uno.(ENS photo by Bob Williams )
Litany: This litany was prepared by retired UCC minister Rev. David Hirano. David was the former Executive Minister for the Board for World Ministries, today Wider Church Ministries. He resides in Hawaii. Copyright 2006, Local Church Ministries, Worship and Education Ministry Team, United Church of Christ, Cleveland. Permission is granted to reproduce or adapt for use in services of worship or church education.
All publishing rights reserved.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Don't Miss "Bottom Feeding"

Don't miss Elizabeth Kaeton's most recent foray into the blogosphere ... "Bottom Feeding" on her blog "Telling Secrets." You'll want to read it all here but here's a little appetizer: I referred to this practice of trolling for a little speck of dirt to stir up ecclesiastical sand storms of chaos and controversy as “Bottom Feeders.” You know what I mean by bottom feeders, yes?

From: The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language: Fourth Edition. 2000. NOUN: 1. A fish or other animal that feeds on the bottom of a body of water. 2. One that feeds low on the food chain; a scavenger. 3. Slang a. An opportunist who profits from the misfortunes of others OTHER FORMS: bottom feeding —NOUN bottom-feeding (btm-fdng) —ADJECTIVE“Bottom feeding.”

Let me be very clear. I’m not name-calling. Indeed, I’m now more convinced than ever that this is precisely the appropriate term for the dynamic which is currently at work in the church – especially in The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion. I’m naming that dynamic and exposing it for what it is: “Bottom feeding.”

“Bottom feeding” is the operating principle which has given birth to the present schism in the church today. Some folks have been working very, very, very EXTRA hard to make this a reality. Stir up enough controversy, create a few calamities and, voila! It has happened. We now have a church is schism.

Brava, Elizabeth!

Thursday, August 03, 2006

You Go, Girl!

There's a great reflection making the email rounds -- Don't Call Them Conservatives --written by Teresa Mathes -- a delightful woman I had the honor to meet in May when I preached at St. Paul's Cathedral in San Diego (where her husband happens to serve as diocesan bishop.) As "Father Jake" beat me to the punch and already has the piece posted I'll link to it from here ... I appreciated Jake's personal "intro" ... but let me add a bit of my own:

I was raised by conservatives, too. Goldwater Republicans. Good ones. Caring ones. From my perspective often wrong-on-many-issues ones but people with whom one could debate, dialogue and discuss. I grew up considering myself a Republican -- registered to vote as one in 1972 (the first year 18 years olds could!) and didn't officially make the switch across the aisle until the early 90's while watching the Republican Nat'l Convention and hearing out of Pat Buchanan's mouth hate-speech I knew was spinning my gone-to-Jesus-in-1987-Daddy in his life-long G.O.P. grave. I left kids doing homework ... dinner on the stove ... and drove down to the grocery store where I knew they had the voter registration card table set up and changed my party affiliation then and there. (See also: metanoia)

Long story short: I have deep respect for genuine conservatives and absolutely no patience for what's being done in the name of conservatism in this country and in this church today. And neither does Teresa Mathes. Which is why she gets this week's "You Go, Girl!" award!

Don't Call Them Conservatives
by Teresa Mathes

I was raised by conservatives. In Southern California, where I now live, this is rather like saying you were raised by wolves. But I like to think the people who raised me did a good job: they gave me a strong sense of family and of community obligation; they taught me to respect social institutions. Conservatives, my mother often said, valued what was best in society and tried to preserve it. She abhorred mob tactics, half-truths and secrecy. “If you have to hide it,” she’d say, “You shouldn’t be doing it in the first place.”

I was also raised Episcopalian. My grandfather helped build the church in which my mother was married, then my cousin, then my sister and I in our turn. I was graduated from Sewanee, a liberal arts college owned by the Southern dioceses of the Episcopal Church. I have sung Evensong in Canterbury Cathedral, lunched with a Primate of New Zealand and dined with an Archbishop of Canterbury. By the time I was twenty-eight, I was on a first name basis with Jack Allin and Cecil Woods, and if you don’t know those names, it only proves how pathetically, arcanely Episcopalian I am.

Of course, if you do know those names, you know how un-Anglican all this boasting is. The Episcopal Church in which I was raised was a church of civility, a church that thought before it spoke. Some would say we thought too much and spoke too circumspectly. So I am being very clear here about the position from which I speak. Because what I have to say is that the AAC and the ACN do not represent true conservatives.

Read it all here

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

"Breaking News" Getting You Down?

Here's one of those "pictures worth a thousand words" --
our cat Walden taking in CNN last night.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Recommended Reading: Other Voices, Other Worlds

This wonderful new addition to the study of human sexuality in the Global Anglican Communion, edited by the Rt. Reverend Terry Brown, Bishop of Malaita (Solomon Islands) arrived in my mailbox today.

From the back cover:

Anglican Churches worldwide are sharply divided on homsexuality. The "south" is said to be unanimously and consistently lined up against homosexuality as immoral and sinful, while the "north" (except for some 'orthodox traditionalists') supports it. The differences between the two are fundamental and irreconcilable.

This extraordinary book exposes this myth. Christians in Africa, Asia and throughout the developeing world -- bishops, priests and religious academics and lay writers -- open up dramatic new perspectives on familiar arguments and debates. They show that our understanding of sexuality has become narrow, inflexible and unimaginative. Other Voices, Other Worlds reveals a rich historical and cross-cultural complexity to the way in which homosexuality and same-sex relationships are understood and judged.

Published by Church Publishing

Loathe though I might be ...

... to pile on the Mel Gibson story du jour I can't resist this Washington Post op-ed by Eugene (no relation to the Bishop of New Hampshire whose name is not and never has been Eugene in spite of all the published errata indicating same) Robinson:

Booze and Bigotry
Mel Gibson: It Wasn't Just the Tequila Talking
By Eugene Robinson
Tuesday, August 1, 2006; Page A17

Let's not cut Mel Gibson even the tiniest bit of slack over the ugly tirade he inflicted on the sheriff's deputy who pulled him over in his Lexus as he roared drunkenly down the Pacific Coast Highway at nearly twice the speed limit.

If anyone missed the story over the weekend, although I don't know how that would be possible, Gibson was obnoxious, belligerent and self-important when the arresting officer pulled him over. In other words, just your average traffic stop in Malibu -- until Gibson proceeded to blame the ills and injustices of the world, presumably including his own immediate predicament, on the Jews.

"[Expletive] Jews," Gibson said, according to a copy of the arrest report posted on the entertainment news Web site and later confirmed by the Los Angeles Times. "The Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world." To the officer, he demanded: "Are you a Jew?"

Gibson's defense is one of diminished capacity. He admitted in a statement released Saturday that he had been drinking that evening and shouldn't have been driving. He "profoundly" regrets his "horrific relapse" into the "disease of alcoholism," Gibson said. "I acted like a person completely out of control when I was arrested, and said things that I do not believe to be true and which are despicable."

Well, I'm sorry about his relapse, too, but I just don't buy the idea that a little tequila, or even a lot of tequila, can somehow turn an unbiased person into a raging anti-Semite -- or a racist, or a homophobe or a bigot of any kind, for that matter. Alcohol removes inhibitions, allowing all kinds of opinions to escape uncensored. But you can't blame alcohol for forming and nurturing those opinions in the first place.

Gibson's rant sounds to me like classic anti-Semitism that goes beyond the country club, "not our sort of people" brand of casual bigotry. He seems well on the way toward some sort of full-blown "Protocols of the Elders of Zion" conspiracy theory of Jewish world domination. If you were in Gibson's situation, no matter how inebriated or embarrassed, I doubt your first question would be whether the cop who pulled you over was a Jew. I hope not, at least.

You will recall that when Gibson's epic film "The Passion of the Christ" was criticized by some viewers for portraying Jews as scheming, hook-nosed stereotypes, Gibson replied that he was only seeking historical accuracy. You'll also recall that when asked about his father's claim that the Holocaust was mostly "fiction," Gibson acknowledged that some Jews did die in concentration camps but stopped short of directly repudiating dear old Dad.

He did flatly deny being anti-Semitic, however, telling Diane Sawyer in a 2004 interview that "to be anti-Semitic is to be un-Christian, and I'm not." Now the only question is whether his lack of self-awareness is truly pathological or whether he was just lying. I don't think anyone could describe his performance the other night as particularly Christian, or particularly civilized.

It was timely, though.

The Web site that broke the story alleges that higher-ups in the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department wanted to sanitize the report of Gibson's arrest because his anti-Semitic remarks would be "inflammatory" given the war in the Middle East. Officials of the department deny any thought was given to a coverup and say they will conduct an investigation.

The Gibson episode comes as the state of Israel continues an assault on southern Lebanon that I am convinced is brutal, disproportionate and counterproductive. The Bush administration was wrong to give Israel the green light to launch such a massive military campaign and is wrong to let Israel stall before agreeing to a proper cease-fire.
More than 500 Lebanese civilians already have been killed.

Like everything that happens in the Middle East, Israel's war on Hezbollah has provoked strong feelings. After the tragic mistaken attack on Qana in which 57 civilians died, most of them children, I believe more strongly than ever that this war is a disaster for all concerned. It's madness, and it must stop.

But we shouldn't forget that Israel exists for a reason. The Mel Gibson episode is a useful reminder that pure anti-Semitism is not a thing of the past -- that there are still people who believe Jews are evil or all-powerful or whatever, and for whom Jewishness itself is an unforgivable sin. That's amazing in this day and age but, then again, there are still people who believe that the color of a person's skin tells them everything they need to know.