Tuesday, October 24, 2006

"Headline News" and Recommended Reading

Had an amazingly wonderfully restful fabulous long-weekend away at the beach that kept me offline since Friday and behind on some breaking news but caught up on rest, relaxation and reconnecting with the awesomeness of this fragile earth, our island home! So here are some bits and pieces of news that happened while I was away and some recommended reading after a little deferred blog-browsing:

First the "Headline News":

Several Diocesan Conventions passed "Beyond B033" resolutions, including El Camino Real, California and Northern Michigan.

The Bishop of Connecticut, Andrew Smith, authorized the blessing of same-sex unions joining Bishop of California, Mark Andrus in taking his diocese a step closer to that "full and equal claim" we've been working toward for lo these many years in the Episcopal Church. (And in the process, unleashing a sadly predictable avalanche of ad hominem attacks by the titusonenineites ... read at your own risk and see also: "makes the heart sad.")

Finally, 60 Minutes' Andy Rooney stepped up and offered a compelling commenatry on the Iraq War which I missed on Sunday night but managed to see online after the fact: let's here it for stepping up and speaking out!

And now the Recommended Reading I've gleaned in my blog browsing:

The Wisdom of Integrity by Integrity Board Treasurer Jeff Martinhauk is a great reflection on wisdom in general and integrity in specific.

Mark Harris has a most interesting piece on The Nigerian Communion -- my, my my!

If you're looking for some light reading, stay away from Joe Doss's "The Anglican Constitution Brought to Light and Applied to the International Crisis in Anglican Polity through Comparison with Modalities of Interpretation in International Constitutional Law " posted on The Episcopal Majority site ... but DO check it out if you want a much clearer understanding of what the Anglican Communion looks like at its best -- and what we're in danger of losing if Mark's Nigerian Communion folks get their way.

Finally, don't miss Michael Hopkins' touching tribute to Prosper -- his beloved seventeen-and-a-half year old cat who departed this life October 23rd. It's a two-handkerchief-blog but a must-read for anyone who has ever shared their life and love with a beloved animal companion on the journey.


Hiram said...

I am astonished that these conventions, and people like Bp Smith of CT, can take such actions and at the same time consider themselves to be full members of the Anglican Communion.

They are free to take the actions that they have taken, of course -- but they must remember that other dioceses and provinces are also free to make decisions in response to their actions.

From a Pharisee's point of view, Bp Smith and these other diocese may not be breaking the letter of the Windsor/Dromantine requests -- but it is clear that they are violating the spirit of those requests.

The Christian faith is not infinitely elastic. Either Jesus is the sole Savior and Lord, or he is not -- it is impossible for both assertions to be true. Those who uphold the ancient teaching that Jesus alone is Lord, and that faith in him alone is needed to be reconciled to the Father, cannot, in the long run, remain in fellowship with those who deny the blood shed for the whole human race.


And I'm astonished that "Windsor Bishops," and people like Archbp Akinola of Nigeria can take the actions they've been taking and consider themeselves to be inheritors of the traditional Anglican ecclesiology of comprehensiveness while they break not just the letter but the spirit of the foundation of Anglican theology: balancing Scripture, tradition and reason.

I'm further astonished by the hubris of those who decree who they can and cannot "remain in fellowship" with -- drawing lines in the sand over doctrinal differences and turning those differences into the divisions they need to create the schism that serves their purposes.

Pfalz prophet said...

Per your suggestions, I chose titusonline first, and I'm glad I did. I couldn't bring myself to read all the comments, so many of them filled with hatred and malice, I had to walk away to keep from being drawn into that mindset. I tried the diocesan posts next, and found in them the spirit of grace and love that I've come to appreciate in TEC. They were an antidote, if you will, for the poisonous posts I read earlier.

God grant me the grace to love and pray for those blinded by hatred, imprisoned by rigid doctrines, and made lame or paralyzed by fear of otherness. God grant me the courage to speak the truth about Jesus' love for all of us.

Rex said...

I too read Titusonline and was amazed by the narrow minded ignorance passing for Christian faith. I was please that at least some of the posts recogniaed some of the excess.

It is life giving to be a part of a growing, healthy, liberal TEC parish with wonderful clergy, a plethora of families of all sorts attending with their children, and a message of love and hope preached every Sunday. Thanks be to God! rex

Hiram said...

It is interesting that "progressive" readers of T19 see a collection of "narrow minded ignorance" and name-calling. At the same time, we "conservatives" read this and other "progressive" blogs, and see wild non-sequitors and name calling ("bottom feeders," anyone?).

I suspect that we think that our underlying assumptions are intuitively obvious, and that anyone who doesn't share them is clueless, hostile, or emotionally immature.

The truth is that we talk past each other a great deal of the time. I suspect it would take a large investment of time and energy to understand one another's perspective, and to be able to discuss matters from (more or less) a common frame of reference.

Rev Susan, I think the reason Abp Akinola and other primates and bishops of the Anglican Communion are taking the actions they are comes from their conviction (which I share) that ecclesiology is secondary to Christology, soteriology, and some other doctrines -- and that Scripture is primary, with Tradition and Reason as secondary authorities. We believe that if you go wrong on Christology, ecclesiology will be corrupted. There is room for a range of thought, but it is not an unlimited range. The Thirty-Nine Articles, for instance, framed the range of thought permissible in the Church of England at the time of the English Reformation and for some centuries afterward - they were the "Via Media" between the excesses of Roman doctrine and popular theology on the one hand, and the very limited convictions of what the Puritans found permissible.

The way things are now, the "center" keeps moving to the left, because the "progressives" keep coming up with ever more fanciful ideas -- such as the priest from England who is a Hindu priest and thinks that is fine -- or the two clergy in Pennsylvania who were Wiccan -- not to mention the views on sexuality that are present, or the general sense that one may believe anything or nothing and still be an Episcopalian in good standing.

A lot of people who speak of "Scripture, Tradition, and Reason" could use a course in logic.

Rex said...

Sorry to have posted in haste the other day, obviously without proof reading. I do know how to spell recognized and how to make a past tense. I stand by my notion of the "narrow minded" posts in Titusonline. Indeed I don't know how anyone of any persuasion could read them without coming to that conclusion.

I would agree that we do talk past one another because we have a significantly different idea as to the nature of the Christian faith. As a universalist Episcopal Christian I do not have any notion of salvation coming from only one point of view. Therefore a Christian who might also see value in Hindu or Wiccan beliefs has no element of horror for me.

Since I believe that scripture is an imprecise and cultural response to the times in which the writers lived and wrote I would personally not give it primacy. It is important and "true" on many levels but it is hardly history.

The church (including the Episcopal Church) has always included a wide variety of views on sexuality. Let us be thankful that we have finally come to the time when we (at least some of us) can admit that and talk about it. Rex

Hiram said...

Rex said, “Since I believe that scripture is an imprecise and cultural response to the times in which the writers lived and wrote I would personally not give it primacy. It is important and "true" on many levels but it is hardly history.”

That is a major difference between progressives and conservatives, and it is a huge difference. We conservatives believe that God stands behind Scripture, and that, while Scripture reflects the individual style and setting of each author of a book, the Holy Spirit worked in and through that author and his setting so that what Scripture says tells us the truth about God and about us and our relationship to God. Of course, Scripture cannot tell us everything about God, since our minds can no more grasp the fullness of God than a sand pail can contain a beach – but what God has revealed is true and useful. I could go on, but whole books have been written on the subject.

The idea that “scripture is an imprecise and cultural response to the times in which the writers lived” is, to me, an idea that means the Bible is simply a collection of attempts to describe a variety of people’s encounters with “the divine.” As such it would have historical interest, but no real authority. The only authority it would have would come from the fact that many people over the last two thousand years have regarded it as authoritative. There is no future for that view; a couple of generations of it would deaden any power Scripture has to effect change in life for those who regard it simply as “an imprecise and cultural response.”

Rex also said, “As a universalist Episcopal Christian I do not have any notion of salvation coming from only one point of view. Therefore a Christian who might also see value in Hindu or Wiccan beliefs has no element of horror for me.”

I also believe that Hinduism, Taoism, Wicca, Islam, and even the Nordic and Greco-Roman paganism have some values that Christians can appreciate and learn from. But that is not to say that Hinduism is as true as Christianity. We human beings are created in the image of God, although our current state is fallen from our original condition, and so even other faiths can and do contain true and useful beliefs and values. This also reflects the fact that God has revealed himself in nature, so that all can know that God exists and that he is powerful.

But the value and truth of other religions does not mean that they are as true as the historic Christian faith. If all one wants is a means of expressing one’s spirituality and some basis for moral behavior, one might say that all religions are of equal value. But if you look at the truth claims of the various world faiths, it is clear that what Hinduism says about the nature of God, the nature of human beings, the nature of the human problem, and the solution to that problem is entirely different and indeed contrary to what the Christian faith says about the nature of God and the nature of human beings, their problem and the solution to that problem. To claim to be a good and faithful Christian while practicing Hinduism or Wicca is to enter the realm of nonsense.