Saturday, August 2, 2008

BREAKING -- Some bishops actually state the obvious!

Finally, a bit of common sense.

Now that Lambeth has - as expected - signally failed to accomplish anything; failed either to take a new position on the homosexualist heresy or uphold it's supposedly "official" one; and generally has accomplished absolutely nothing except having a bunch of bishops sit around, nuancing their existing positions and occasionally hugging (holding all of this up as the kind of "relationship" and "process" which will hold the Communion together when it's formalized -- in about a decade or so -- in some sort of non-binding "Covenant")... well, the CoE bishops of Windsor and Exeter have asked Williams to state the obvious and actually recognize the existing state of schism. Reported HERE.

I'll blog something about this once there are some reactions from both Church and press out there to analyze... as well as, hopefully, the circulation of these two bishops' formal statement.

For now, all I'll ask is:

Why do you look so surprised, archbishop? Surely you didn't think that everyone was so clueless and cowardly so as to be taken in by your talk-a-lot and do-nothing approach or to remain silent about it?

It would appear that there are, after all, some bishops at Lambeth who aren't quite as dense as the crumbling masonry blocks of Canterbury Cathedral. And who are actually willing to stand up for the faith and demand some accountability and leadership from you for a change.

Who knew?

Oh, and I'll make one prediction: both the liberal media and PEcUSA will lay all the blame of "schism" at the feet of bishops Scott-Joynt and Langrish... rather than honestly admitting that it is the apostates in PEcUSA, Canada, England and elsewhere who have created the schism, and that these two CoE bishops are merely asking that that fact be confronted honestly and constructively -- and not, as Williams has tried, simply hidden in obfuscatory language, endless committees, and impotent resolutions.

Kitten Update 1

The kitten is now five days old. Each feeding -- every three hours or so -- gives some new cause for alarm. Wiggle/squirm/cry can mean anything among "I'm too cold"; "the milk is too cold"; "the milk is too hot"; "I'm constipated"; "the Archbishop of Canterbury is a jackass"; "I'm still hungry"; "I'm too full"; "my claw is stuck in the towel"; "I just want to cuddle"; "I'm suffering from some mysterious ailment which you are powerless to diagnose or prevent".

And I have to guess which one.

Based on all of four days of experience.

This afternoon an unexpected squirt of milk from the tiny bottle went down the wrong pipe, and the kitten started to choke to death. I had to hold it upside down, heels over head, and pat its back repeatedly until it coughed up a few drops of milk.

The saga continues...



UPDATE: I'm worried. The kitten refuses to eat very much despite acting as if he's hungry; his energy seems down and his belly seems to have gotten distended. I'm wondering if he's constipated and that none of the food I've been giving him is actually getting into the system. Infant kittens often have this problem. I hope he has a better chance of making it through the critical first two weeks than the Anglican Communion does of surviving reasonably intact!

UPDATE 2: The kitten made it through the night. Since it never seemed to want to eat enough -- and since the emergency vet said on the phone that indicactions were that it wasn't constipated -- I took to feeding it every 2 hours. Feed the kitten; sleep 1.5 hrs; warm the bottle; feed the kitten; sleep 1.5 hrs; warm the bottle... all night. Ugh. This kitten had better make it!

Lambeth Caption Contest 10

Concerns over the state of HMS Communion increased dramatically when the captain began to wear a life preserver everywhere.

please post your own suggested captions!

Autonomy does not excuse apostasy

Over and over and over again at this Lambeth, we've heard the constant protestations of jurisdictional autonomy. From the very first day, in which ++Williams reminded everyone that Lambeth has no jurisdictional authority, through all the indaba discussions and press converence, throughout the discussion of the Covenant... over and over and over the "autonomy bongos" have been banged. Talk all you want, but don't tell anyone what to do, because everyone can do whatever they want. Anything else would be un-Anglican.

One little problem: THAT'S WRONG.

Yes, provinces have autonomy in their governance -- organization, representation, and so forth. Fine and proper. But they do NOT have autonomy over the faith. That was never an Anglican belief... at least, not until the last few decades when PEcUSA started pretending it was.

You see, provincial autonomy was never intended to extend to matters of belief, for that belief is in something greater than each province and beyond its capacity or authority to legislate. Until recent years, that's been universally understood because it is so blazingly obvious and common-sensical.

If you want to abandon basic Christian faith and order for some other "Christianity lite" or non-Christianity -- if you want to deny the divinity of Christ or have gaia-worshiping masses or have practicing Druids or Muslims among your clergy -- fine. But don't go pretending that it is an acceptable exercise of your "autonomy" to do so. That's apostasy, not autonomy. That's not independently organizing your jurisdictional life within a Christian denomination; that's abandoning Christianity altogether.... And, dude, there's a difference.

Appropriate and independent adaption of the organization of a church is one thing; ceasing to be a Church is another. Adjustments in the administration of a body which guards the faith is one thing; adjustments to the fundamentals of that faith is another. Judicious alterations in the form of worship is one thing -- abandoning belief in the essentials of WHOM you are worshiping is another.

Yet PEcUSA and its apostate allies are constantly citing the "independence" and "autonomy" of jurisdictional organization and administration to justify independence and autonomy from Christian faith and order. They are like the stewards of the parable who, left with the responsibility to guard the vineyard (and the autonomy of administration to do so) have rejected the authority of the owner and announced that they own the vineyard themselves, beating the Owner's messengers and daily killing his Son by their apostasy. Heck, they're pulling up the metaphorical grapes and replacing them with briers.

That's not autonomy; that's mutiny.

Here's how the Chicago-Lambeth quadrilateral puts it:
the principles of unity exemplified by the undivided Catholic Church during the first ages of its existence; which principles we believe to be the substantial deposit of Christian Faith and Order committed by Christ and his Apostles to the Church unto the end of the world, and therefore incapable of compromise or surrender by those who have been ordained to be its stewards and trustees for the common and equal benefit of all men.
Even today, despite decades of revisionism and apostasy, the Constitution of PEcUSA still reads:
a constituent member of the Anglican Communion, a Fellowship within the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church, of those duly constituted Dioceses, Provinces, and regional Churches in communion with the See of Canterbury, upholding and propagating the historic Faith and Order as set forth in the Book of Common Prayer.
And the much-revised Episcopal '79 BCP (or, perhaps more accurately, Book of Alternate Services, given how much it has abandoned the Prayer Book tradition) still reflects this fact in that it contains the initial justification and description of the first American BCP:
It is a most invaluable part of that blessed "liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free," that in his worship different forms and usages may without offense be allowed, provided the substance of the Faith be kept entire.
(Give PEcUSA another revision or two, and all vestiges of such fidelity will be expunged, as they already have been expunged from the BCP's services for baptism, confirmation, ordination, etc.)

And this theological underpinning doesn't operate in a vacuum -- it underlies everything a Church is supposed to do and be. The "mission" of a Church cannot be independent of this theology and identity; it must be grounded in it... or you have nothing except (as I said before) "Greenpeace with bishops." And the most recent word from the Anglican Communion (back in 1998, since no new Lambeth resolutions are being offered this decade) said just this, resolving that
all our mission springs from the action and self-revelation of God in Jesus Christ and that without this foundation, we can give no form or content to our proclamation and can expect no transforming effect from it. [We] reaffirm our faith in the doctrines of the Nicene Creed as the basis of what is to be believed, lived and proclaimed by the churches of the Anglican Communion; [we] accept the imperative character of our call to mission and evangelism as grounded in the very nature of the God who is revealed to us.
And it is not un-Anglican for member provinces to require of each other obedience to that faith which they have all received, and to which they are all, under God, accountable.

But the liberal bishops engineering the Lambeth Conference would have you believe otherwise; that Anglican "mission" is independent of ministry or identity or theology; that it doesn't matter if Anglicans don't share a Christian faith, as long as they're happily indaba-ing each other and focusing on the MDGs.

And a liberal and theologically ignorant press -- hardly surprising, when so many liberal Anglican bishops are also theologically ignorant -- buys it. And thus it portrays ++Williams' studied failure to address the true issues or to preserve the Christian identity of Anglicanism -- focusing instead on a mission without theological grounding exercised by a church without a commitment to Christ -- not as a betrayal (as archbishop Orombi rightly characterized it) on the most fundamental level of his spiritual and pastoral responsibilities (one which has all but guaranteed the continued disintegration of the Anglican Communion)... but as a diplomatic triumph:
By focusing on the Anglican Communion as a Christian community and not as a political organisation, he has ensured that the bulk of the discussion has been on those issues where Christians believe their message to be vital: poverty, global harmony, faith, prayer and charity.
No matter that there is no longer one faith within the Anglican communion (so that it is no longer a Christian community, but just a community which happens to include some Christians); or that the god to which some are praying (if they're praying at all) is the not the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; or that the "charity" being offered by some leaders is the "charity" of leading their flocks into spiritual damnation. Of course not! Far better such incoherence and spiritual death than that anyone's jurisdictional independence might be infringed in any way... or that Lambeth might possibly suggest that anyone's theological views, no matter how widely they deviate from the unchanging deposit of faith, are wrong.

The simple and obvious fact -- that while each province has autonomy in jurisdictional organization it is supposed to obediently guard, as "stewards and trustees", the unchanging faith committed to its care -- seems to have gotten completely lost in the politically-correct nicey-nice can't-we-just-be-friends indaba rumba going on right now at Lambeth.

A classic example of liberal Anglican HUTA syndrome... filling your head with the products of your own internal navel-gazing.

Lambeth welcomes all sex positions

Let's get one thing straight (pun intended): it's not about homosexuality.

Homosexuality is a "flashpoint" issue -- one which arose because of changes in first world culture coming into conflict with Christian tradition... and because proponents of that lifestyle targeted the Episcopal church as a vulnerable target to exploit -- to gain social and cultural "legitimacy" for their sexual behavior.(*)

But any other anti- traditional Christianity issue could have had the same effect. (Indeed, it has: back in the mid to late 70s, the ordination of women -- also a culturally-fueled abandonment of traditional Christian belief and practice -- had very much the same effect, though not on a live-blogged international stage.)

It's not about sex -- it's about the fundamentals of faith. And not because sexual morality is, in and of itself, such a fundamental (not like, say, Christological issues) but because it serves as an index to a more primary, fundamental issue: i.e., what defines the faith? Is it Scripture and Tradition... or is it personal feelings and contemporary culture? The way Anglicans have dealt with the homosexuality issue is simply one instance of that more essential question being answered in a specific case.

As bishop Anis, primate of the Middle East, puts it:
I see that a big wall still divides us. It is big because it involves the essentials, the foundation of our faith. We are not divided by mere trivialities, or issues on the periphery of faith. We are finding it very hard to come together in the essentials. This diversity of opinion is about the heart of our faith, the faith which we received from the saints.
Those who embrace the homosexualist heresy have done so by abandoning the essentials -- have done so because, for them, those essentials are no longer essential. Accepting homosexuality is simply one ramification of this abandonment. And it's not just me saying so -- that's what the majority of Anglican bishops think and how they view the current division:
Every bishop I have spoken with, who is not from the USA, says that departure from the norm, or new development of the faith is not the issue here. The issue is the Scriptural teaching that Christians do no indulge in the culture, but live apart from it. Homosexual orientation or proclivity does not require indulgence. We are called to chastity, higher standards in moral and ethical teachings and encouraged to live holy lives. This applies equally to men and women of any persuasion. The Biblical and Christian norm is for sex to be confined within the boundary of the marriage of a man and a woman – there perfect freedom is found.

Scripture and Tradition explicitly reject homosexual activity. (They also, by the way, reject pre-marital sex, polygamy, remarriage after divorce, and adultery. It's not just "gay people" who have their predilections curtailed by Christian morality!) Go take it up with Dr. Gagnon if you want to kick against the pricks of those historical and theological facts (pun, unfortunately, again intended). My purpose here is to explain the conflict, not to defend one side or the other.

So here's the key question, the one which underlies the crisis in the Anglican communion (be it the divisions over homosexuality, or the ordination of women, or the toleration of divorce, or whatever): is Christianity (including Anglicanism) a faith which can constantly re-interpret and re-present itself with an infinitely malleable dogma (sort of like Mormonism) -- changing its teaching on sexual morality, or Christology, or whatever other issue happens to come up -- or is it a faith which has a central deposit, statements of eternal truth and its application, to which Christians are beholden?

If Scripture clearly says something, if Tradition clearly upholds that understanding, but if contemporary culture says something different, are Christians to obey Scripture and Tradition and themselves be transformed... or do they get to jettison or rewrite Scripture and Tradition to make them conform to this world? Do Christians follow and obey Jesus and that which He endorses... or do they take what they themselves "naturally" endorse, paste a "Jesus" sticker on it, and announce that they are, thereby, Christian? Is the Christian faith, as bishop Ackerman puts it, a "gift" entrusted to believers for them to defend, protect, and pass on... or is it just a gimmick? Or, as primate Anis asks, "Should we allow culture to pressure the Church or should the Church be distinctive, light and salt to the world?"

Whatever you think of the issues, whichever side you fall on, nevertheless THIS QUESTION -- not homosexuality -- is what is dividing the Anglican Communion: the question of Christian authority and identity. This is why bishop Beckwith said that the two sides are so far from being on the same page, that they're not only not in the same book, but they're in entirely different libraries. This is why archbishop Anis complains of the divide between traditional Christians and the first-world liberals and apostates, because the latter
find it very difficult to say that Jesus Christ is the way, the truth and the life. They do not say this difficult issue should be driven by Scripture, not the culture. They say our morals should by shaped by the culture. If we allow this, we loose our distinctiveness as a church. Jesus called us to be light to the culture and salt to society.
The homosexuality issue is merely the tip of the iceberg... what is sinking the Anglican Communion is not the homosexualist tip, but the massive theological differences which ride under it.

That being the case, you would expect Lambeth -- trying to solve the current crisis -- would engage the real issue in its indaba-dabba-doo sessions about sexuality. Expect it to ask whether or not there are any unchanging theological and moral absolutes in Christianity and, if so, whether or not sexual morality is part of those absolutes. Because, after all, that's the essential question and the heart of the crisis.

Then again, if you've been paying any attention to this decade's Lambeth, you probably aren't expect anything so sane, clear, or common-sensical after all. If you were expecting something sensible... well, you'll be disappointed.

So what did the indabas on sexuality accomplish? Not much.

Certainly, the polarization hasn't vanished. In the press-conference about the discussions, archbishop Aspinall said "I'm not aware of any bishops who have changed their minds." No, the most that can be said is that "I am aware of bishops who have thanked bishops who take a different view for helping them understand the issues better helping them understand what's at sake better." So what did all the talking accomplish? "Some people have nuanced their positions." Nuanced. Wow.

Nothing here like resolution 1.10 from Lambeth 1998 -- perhaps the most ignored and impotent statement ever to come out of a Lambeth Conference. (Doubtless there's be even more greatly ignored statements this year... but, oh yeah, no resolutions are being made this year. How convenient). ++Williams continues to say that 1.10 represents the "majority" position in the Communion, but since "the process used last time didn't help the church move forward", 1.10 isn't being revisited. Newsflash -- the problem wasn't with 1.10 or the process by which it was obtained, it was the total and abject failure to do anything about it afterwards that was the problem.

No; this time 'round, instead of saying that the Anglican Communion had a position to which its member jurisdictions were accountable, or even saying that the Communion has no position or accepts all position, lip-service was given to the pretense that there was still an "official" position, but all that actually happened was that bishops talked to each other about their own experiences.

And what has this accomplished? -- the "commitment we continue to make is that we are continuing to engage in indaba... we are now 'in indaba'... we are really truly talking to one another." In indaba, eh? Is that anything like being in denial?

Aspinall contrasted the 1998 Lambeth, in which bishops hissed and booed each other, to what he saw in his indaba group this time 'round; when, after all their talking (no doubt the usual 2.5 minutes per bishop over the course of 2 hours) there was the
same degree of difference in the views held by the bishops -- but at the end of the indaba group, bishops from different ends of the spectrum on the issues actually embraced each other and thanked each other for helping them understand better what was at stake in these issues."
I'm sure its wonderful that the bishops are forming friendships and nuancing their positions and hearing about others' experiences and being in deep indaba and hugging. Peachy keen. I feel all warm and fuzzy now. (Though, frankly, they could have accomplish the same thing with a few good bottles of scotch and skipped the whole expensive Lambeth thing.)

But how does hugging bishops help the Anglican Communion?

Seems to me what you've got there is people on the Titanic comparing notes about their personal iceberg experiences... and those who are chatting on the deck, "nuancing" their iceberg position, are going down with the ship just as surely as their fellow interlocutors who are denying that there is an iceberg, or arguing that it's really just a bunch of icecubes and offers no threat to the vessel's seaworthiness. I'm sure those nuanced views about icecubes will be of great comfort to them as they're sucked down into the frozen, black, abysmal depths.

And yet, when pressed on what these indabas accomplished, the existence of these conversations and relationships was still the only accomplishment of the day which Aspinall could cite.
Q: We're hearing a lot about process... it's all very nice about how well you're getting along in indaba, but it looks like navel gazing... are you actually going to say anything to the outside world about human sexuality?
A: Significant steps are being taken in relationships between the bishops, and growth in understanding is occurring... we might not have reached consensus, in fact we certainly haven't reached consensus, but I believe people are feeling that significant growth is occurring.
Nothing about the fundamental issue has been addressed -- not on the question of sexuality, not on the underlying and critical divisions, not on the normative authority of Scripture and Tradition -- but merely that "significant growth" in the "relationships between the bishops" is occurring.

Rescuing the Anglican Communion -- one hugging bishop at a time. Puh-lease. Give me a break.

The problem is not whether or not the bishops like each other. The problem is that they have incompatible views on the meaning of Christianity itself -- not just the disagreements over sexuality, but over a whole host of issues which arise from fundamental disagreements over the authority of Scripture and Tradition: i.e. over the very definition of the faith!

And, I'm sorry, but on that score, hugs just don't cut it.

But, since Lambeth refuses to deal squarely with the real issues, the complete incompatibility of world-views remains. Liberal +Johnson of Toronto said of the sexuality discussion: "it unreasonable to expect a full resolution to an issue that's a continuing conversation within the life of our whole world."

Um, bishop, even a first year catechist knows that Christianity teaches: "And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed" -- we are not to wait to see what the "continuing conversation" in the secular world decides and then announce that that's what Christianity really means... we are to accept and preserve Christianity's basic theological and ethical statements (e.g.: "among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God's holy people") even if the world teaches differently. And if the world doesn't like it? Well:
If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. John 15
If you can't even grasp or teach the difference between the Church and the world -- or, worse yet, if you have thrown your lot in with the world, accepting its teachings and rejecting Christ's -- then you not only shouldn't be a bishop, you shouldn't even be confirmed!

But alas... no such clarity or relevant discussions from this Lambeth! No, we just get interminable conversations and embraces. Which is why the liberal Episcopal press can happily conclude:
Left wing inclusion mongers should feel pretty good about this afternoon’s press conference on human sexuality at the Lambeth Conference. The bishops are sharing their views respectfully, speaking from their hearts, disagreeing vigorously, but forging real relationships despite their differences.
And why an increasingly liberal and apostate Episcopal clergy -- who see no place for themselves in a Communion which could issue a resolution 1.10 -- feel as if perhaps (provided they don't have to give up their homosexualist or other heresies) there's still some purpose for the Communion; as one Yale Div School brainwashed indoctrinated corrupted trained priest said in response: "perhaps there's still some miles left in this old Communion of ours."

Give that man a hug.

So what positive or constructive signs did Thursday, the day set aside to deal with the most divisive and fraught issue, give us? Johnson again:
Where consensus has critically gathered is in terms of around the environment, ecology, and the MDGs... the critical additional issues in our world which are MDGs.
Oooo... consensus on environmentalism! Not on the Gospel of Jesus Christ; not on the authority of Scripture; not on the nature of the Church; not on the transcendent and eternal glory of God and His Word; not on the Good News of the resurrection; not on the pattern of life, love and relationships which He has expressly given us.

Nope, it's all about the MDGs.

So if you expected this Lambeth to address the crisis, or say something definite about human sexuality, or articulate some Anglican or Christian norms or, quite frankly, do anything constructive and helpful for the current situation... well, think again. Because apparently the Anglican Communion under Rowan Williams and his indababble has nothing to say on the Gospel, on theology or on morality... for it seems that the Anglican Communion is nothing more than Greenpeace with bishops.

Well, if that's all the Lambeth Anglican Fellowship is, you can keep it. If I want to support the ecology or the MDGs I can contribute to Greenpeace or the United Nations directly and get to sleep in on Sundays to boot! If I want to find Christ, spiritual truth, sacramental grace, and moral guidance.. then I'll go to a church.

But, obviously, not an Episcopal one!

(*) On this, skim through the book After the Ball (reviewed HERE), a 1989 manifesto on how to "mainstream" homosexual lifestyles (which reads like a playbook for the last 15+ years of, among other things, Hollywood's agenda) which has been described as proposing the use of "tactics on ‘straight’ America that are remarkably similar to the brainwashing methods of Mao Tse-Tung's Communist Chinese -- mixed with Madison Avenue's most persuasive selling techniques." It targeted both the Episcopal and the Roman Catholic Church as "soft targets" for conversion to support of the homosexualist agenda, thereby gaining the lifestyle "religious" approval. (Obviously, things worked better in the Episcopal church than the RCC -- largely because, without any jurisdictional or theological accountability to other parts of the world, the Episcopal church could compromise with its American culture without any counterweight from the majority of Anglicans, found elsewhere in the world.)

Homosexuality has become an issue in the Anglican world because the homosexual movement chose to use the Episcopal church as part of their campaign to "mainstream" their lifestyle to the point of making it a "hate crime" to publicly express any other point of view, even in a theological context -- a situation which already obtains in Sweden, Canada (also this), and elsewhere. And it has started happening in the U.S. -- with grandmothers being jailed and fined for exercising their rights of free speech; a photographer fined for not accepting a job to film a homosexual wedding, etc.

Enforced approval of homosexuality has -- unlike any other issue in our culture -- started to trump the basic civil rights of freedom of religion and freedom of expression, a situation which ought to outrage any sane American, regardless of their personal beliefs on issues of sexual morality. It is as fascist to prohibit basic freedoms in this way and on this issue as it would be on any other issue -- just as un-American is it would be to, say, sue, fine, and imprison those who spoke against and insulted (as so many people do) Christianity.

LBGT agitators like to accuse traditional Anglicans of treating homosexuals as "pawns" or "bargaining chips" in their ecclesiastical disputes -- as Katie Sherrod did in the Lambeth press conference yesterday. In truth, however, it is the LBGT movement itself which has victimized these individuals, by using them as pawns in their own efforts to legitimize their lifestyles, take over the Episcopal church and destroy traditional Christianity, critical as it is of their sexual activity, worldwide. It is not Anglicanism which has been insensitive to homosexual individuals -- it is the homosexual movement which has victimized them by making them the "wedge" in its campaign to conquer or destroy Anglican Christianity. And, thanks the the doctrinal spinelessness and spiritual bankruptcy of many of Anglicanism's leaders, not to mention the tacit complicity of the current archbishop of Canterbury, that movement has succeeded.

A bit distracted...

I've not posted as much this week as Lambeth deserves, due largely to the fact that my life has recently been commandeered by an unexpected kitten. A wild cat gave birth to three kittens outside my window Monday evening and by Tuesday afternoon had disappeared along with 2 of the 3. (Whether she abandoned them and 2 were eaten and wandered off, or if she simply took 2 somewhere else and left the third, I don't know.)

At any rate, though far from being an animal rights wacko, I'm not the kind of person who can sit and listen to a newborn kitten shriek and squirm and die of cold, hunger and neglect outside my window -- so the kitten is now in a box, warmed by a brand new heating pad, with a stuffed rabbit as surrogate mommy to cuddle with... and I'm spending about 30-45 minutes every 3 hours, around the clock, in bottle feeding sessions. Cost to date (for supplies, vet bill, etc) -- about $125. Plus my sanity. And it's only 4 days old. I'm told there's a light at the end of the tunnel... kittens stop nursing after about 8 weeks.

I'm resisting the urge to name it (though I'm tempted by "Possibly Schroedinger") because then I'll have yet another cat.

Kitten at 2 days old.

Kitten at 3 days old.

Kitten at 3 and a half days old.

How I now spend my life.

Every kitten needs somebunny to snuggle with.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Lambeth Caption Contest 9

Our inspectors ensure that episcopal garments are harvested only at the peak of ripeness.

please post your own suggested captions!

Lambeth Caption Contest 8

(photo by Scott Gunn)
Candidates for the next Archbishop of Canterbury now being proposed. Times journalist nominates herself.

please post your own suggested captions!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Wife-beating animists

Demonstrating the kind of "openness", "listening", "generosity" and "tolerance" to which Rowan Williams is calling the Anglican Communion -- and for which qualities the Episcopal church is so widely known -- New York's pro-gay bishopess Roskam (without evidence or apparent constructive purpose) accused Anglican bishops in certain countries of wife beating.
She said at the Lambeth Conference in Canterbury that men beat women "because they can." She said: "We have 700 men here. Do you think any of them beat their wives? Chances are they do. The most devout Christians beat their wives... many of our bishops come from places where it is culturally accepted to beat your wife."
Comparisons are sure to be made to Spong's description of African bishops, at the last Lambeth Conference, to being little more than superstitious animists and witch-doctors, as well as to the ploy by homosexualist activist MacIyalla who claimed (with a similar lack of any evidence whatsoever) to have been attacked and beaten with the connivance of the Nigerian Church and bishop Akinola.

However, a little on-the-spot investigation by our virtual reporter on the scene at Lambeth, and we actually found one of these wife-beating bishops. He wished to remain anonymous for purposes of this interview.

Q: Bishop, you heard Ms. Roskham's accusation today that some bishops in your region beat their wives... would you care to comment?

A: Why certainly. In fact, wife-beating is a common orientation in my country, and we encourage it in our parishes. I myself beat my wife four or five times a day.

Q: Really?

A: Absolutely. We think this practice is essential to the Christian life and so are requiring study of "theories and theologies of wife-beating" in all our seminary curricula, replacing such useless subjects as patristic history or Christology. We have also just passed canon laws saying that no wife-beating postulant may be refused ordination just because he beats his wife, and we are working toward the day when out-of-the-closet wife-beaters will be represented at all levels of our church. After all, we all share the same baptism, therefore wife-beaters have a divine right to be recognized, celebrated and welcomed as deacons, priests and bishops.

Q: Some might suggest that wife-beating is contrary to the teaching of Scripture and Tradition. While Scripture is not explicit in its condemnation of wife-beating -- unlike its condemnation of homosexuality -- it does tell husbands to love their wives as Christ loved the Church. The Scriptural requirements for ordination are clearly incompatible with wife-beating. And under the influence of the Church, wife-beating was actually made grounds for divorce in many late Antique societies (the Eastern Roman Empire, Ireland, etc).

A: Ah, well, the "wife-beating" implicitly or explicitly condemned in Scripture and Tradition is not the same "wife-beating" as we have today. We live in a very different time and culture, and have a deeper understanding of the relationships of wife-beating. So the prohibitions of past days don't apply to our wife-beating at all.

Q: Are you suggesting that the moral law changes over time?

A: Of course. Doesn't everyone know that? Besides, the very fact that there are passages condemning the practice go to show that people were beating their wives even during the patristic and medieval period -- and, since it was going on then, it must be okay now. That was the true church, as intended by Christ, that was beating their wives -- the suppression of the practice simply represents the conspiratorial efforts of an evil, matriarchal culture from which we are only now escaping so as to rediscover our ancient heritage. Wife-beating is an acceptable and wonderful life-style choice, and it is only close-minded bigots and sadophobes such as Ms. Roskam who suggest otherwise.

Q: And so you believe your society and culture has a clearer view of the issue now than the Church did in the past?

A: Absolutely. My contemporary modern culture better understands the practice, and approves it -- so, obviously, we have been given a clear prophetic mandate to reinterpret Scripture and Tradition and to spread Communion-wide this joyful good news of the inclusion and celebration of wife-beaters.

Q: From Roskam's comment, it is clear that this practice and advocacy of wife-beating is straining the bonds of affection within the Communion. Why, some Americans have said that it interferes with their own church's efforts at evangelization raising money and suing traditionalists, because of the impression that they are "that wife-beating church".

A: Well, I'm sorry they feel that way, but we can hardly cease beating our wives without our wife-beaters being marginalized, and it would be unfair to sacrifice them to some impersonal agenda being imported from abroad. Besides, if we did, our wife-beaters' feelings would be hurt and they'd think that their gifts are being rejected. We have clearly seen the spirit at work in the lives and ministry of people who beat their wives, proving that they are blessed and approved by God. Thus we can see that God's plan calls for the inclusion (and ordination) of all people, regardless of race, gender... or whether or not they beat their wives.

Q: Some people might suggest that wife-beating is a behavior, not an identity, and so oughtn't be compared to race.

A: Ah, well, these people are obviously not current on the latest research on wife-beating. Studies have shown that it is possible that there is some genetic predisposition to violence. Therefore wife-beating is clearly a part of these people's "human nature" and ought not to be criticized or discriminated against. To forbid or condemn that behavior is tantamount to rejecting their identity and humanity... something Jesus would never do. Especially if it is true, as some studies suggest, that he was a wife-beater himself (in his relationship with Mary Magdalene) and ordained several wife-beaters among his first disciples. This is why I am proud to say that our church is fully supportive and inclusive of wife-beaters.

Q: Criticism has been expressed in recent years over how your church has sent members into America and elsewhere to establish chapters of Hitagirltry, the pro-wife-beating organization based in your country, headed by Crude Lou and Samson Tussle.

A: We feel it is our God-given mission to reach out and support our wife-beating brothers in all parts of the world, especially in those places where they are discriminated against by religious or secular forces. Why, in America it is actually possible to be put into prison for wife-beating! We need to let our wife-beating brothers in other parts of the world know that we hear their voices and share their pain. Part of that ministry is to have a presence on the ground to support and encourage them.

Q: Does it trouble you at all that wife-beating is contrary to the tradition of Christian faith and order, the teaching and practice of centuries of Anglicanism, the explicit statements of previous Lambeth meetings, and the consensus of the majority of the Anglican Communion?

A: Not at all. The spirit is clearly doing a "new thing" in helping us value and celebrate wife-beating. The Church has always been called to push the boundaries... so we need to leave behind the comfortable but dated assumptions and practices of the benightened pre-modern past in order to explore the new places to which God is calling us today. Our church is, in that tradition of radical liminality, encountering God by blazing a new way for others in the Communion to follow.

Q: Are you concerned by rumors that the draft Covenant may call for a moritorium on wife-beating?

A: Of course not. The final form of the Covenant is far from established, and there will be several years yet before a draft is proposed for our church to review. Moreover, the Covenant will, explicitly, have no provision either for enforcement or for penalties, so it's not as if anyone can stop our God-given pursuit of this "new thing". Besides, joining the Covenant sub-group within the Anglican Communion will, by all accounts, be a completely voluntary thing anyway. So, no, I'm not concerned that anything will come of these current resolutions: the Covenant isn't a threat to anyone.
   I do think that it is disappointing, however, that so much time and energy is being wasted examining the issue of wife-beating when we ought to be focusing on AIDS and the MDGs. That, after all, is the real ministry and mission of the church -- not concerns over what married couples do in the privacy of their own homes.

Q: Bishop, thanks for your time.

A: Thank you. It was a pleasure bea.. er, meeting you.

Ms. Roskam was unavailable for comment on this interview.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The REAL reason Gene wasn't invited?

The REAL reason Gene Robinson wasn't invited to Lambeth...

... only one queen is allowed at a palace Garden Party!

The Archbishop's new Address

Rowan Williams is at it again.

But this time, at least, he's not addressing the glories of indaba or the dangers of rising sea levels or whatever. He's actually addressing the crisis in the Anglican Communion. Well... it's a start.

Once again, he insists that the only way the crisis can be addressed is by a Covenant:
I spoke about council and covenant as the shape of the way forward as I see it. And by this I meant, first, that we needed a bit more of a structure in our international affairs to be able to give clear guidance on what would and would not be a grave and lasting divisive course of action by a local church.
and insists that this is the only reasonable way forward;
We need to speak life to each other; and that means change. I’ve made no secret of what I think that change should be — a Covenant that recognizes the need to grow towards each other (and also recognizes that not all may choose that way). I find it hard at present to see another way forward that would avoid further disintegration.

But also, once again, the ABC hastens to assure us that this Covenant is not to be "legalistic", but rather something freely chosen by all parties:
good law is about guaranteeing consistence and fairness in a community; and also that in a community like the Anglican family, it can only work when there is free acceptance. Properly understood, a covenant is an expression of mutual generosity.
And this means:
Mutual generosity : part of what this means is finding out what the other person or group really means and really needs. The process of this last ten days has been designed to help us to find out something of this — so that when we do address divisive issues, we have created enough of a community for an intelligent generosity to be born.

In other words, the Covenant requires -- and this Lambeth was supposed to help create -- a kind of "generous listening" which enable each side to hear the other and then -- by some magical alchemy -- move to that "deeper place" where they discover they really are really all the same: to
speak from the heart of our identity as Anglicans; and ultimately from that deepest centre which is our awareness of living in and as the Body of Christ.

Apparently all the "listening" that has been going on for the last decade isn't enough. Apparently each side doesn't understand what the other side actually says, thinks and believes. Apparently we need more listening before we can actually hear each other.

It would seem that the ABC himself is a bit frustrated by how long this is taking, since he uses the majority of his address to speak for each side -- to say what he thinks they ought to be saying and hearing... since obviously they aren't getting the right answers themselves.

And it's a typically eloquent bit of rhetoric, and I'm sure it sounds great in an English accent. But does it make any sense?

The "traditional believer" in Williams' dialog says:
What we seek to do in our context is faithfully to pass on what you passed on to us — Holy Scripture, apostolic ministry, sacramental discipline. But what are we to think when all these things seem to be questioned and even overturned? We want to be pastorally caring to all, to be “inclusive” as you like to say. We want to welcome everyone. Yet the gospel and the faith you passed on to us tell us that some kinds of behaviour and relationship are not blessed by God.
The "not so traditional believer" replies:
What we seek to do in our context is to bring Jesus alive in the minds and hearts of the people of our culture. Trying to speak the language of the culture and relate honestly to where people really are doesn’t have to be a betrayal of Scripture and tradition. We know we’re pushing the boundaries — but don’t some Christians always have to do that? Doesn’t the Bible itself suggest that?

All very pretty. But look at how Williams casts this. The traditional believer says "we seek to do in our context" -- as if the Gospel the preach is true in some contexts but not in others. And this Gospel is not characterized, in William's depiction, as that which they received from the Lord and pass on... it is the characterized as the Gospel they received from the First World which now advocates the homosexualist heresy. As if that First World is "upstream" and so more authoritative. And this implicit relativism is even clearer in what Williams has these "traditionalists" say next:
Our love and our welcome are unreal if we don’t truthfully let others know what has shaped and directed our lives
... what they are preaching is fundamentally centered in their experience -- "what has shaped and directed our lives" -- rather than in the revelation of Scripture.

The "not so traditional believer" likewise speaks in terms of cultural relativity and "experience", rather than of Scriptural authority. They also appeal to "context" -- "we seek to do in our context" -- to "speak the language of the culture and relate honestly to where people really are". And this is how the revisionist innovations are justified; for such boundary-pushing speak-where-you are behavior is what the Bible itself supposedly suggests and encourages... and not all such boundary-pushing doesn't necessarily "have to be a betrayal of Scripture and tradition". (The "not so traditional believer" doesn't actually prove that it is not such a betrayal, merely throws out the possibility that it might potentially not be.)

But doesn't this completely miss the essential point of the disagreement. The "traditional believers" understand what the "not so traditional believers" think. They understand that the liberals claim that homosexualism is compatible with Scripture. AND THEY DISAGREE. And not just with homosexualism, but with the whole relativistic, culturally-conditioned anti-Scriptural-authority mindset which goes along with that heresy. It's not enough to preach or practice any old thing, saying "oh, maybe this isn't heretical" or "oh, maybe this doesn't violate Scripture and Tradition." You have to prove it doesn't violate them before beginning to move forward (or, perhaps, backward) on the possibility can even be contemplated. And you especially shouldn't be implementing a teaching or policy which has been expressly condemned as contrary to Scripture and Tradition by the Communion as a whole. (Lambeth '98 resolution 1.10 anyone?)

And here is where Williams' "explain each side to the other" presentation is so disingenuous. Because he depicts the "traditional believers" as if they spoke this same culturally-conditioned language. They preach not the Gospel they receive in the Bible - the authoritative teaching of Scripture and Tradition... no, they preach the Gospel they got some years ago from the First World. (Presumably, if a different gospel were preached back then, they'd now be preaching that different gospel instead.) They don't speak an objective truth, given to the saints once for all and for all mankind, but they preach a message which is only for their "context".

To see this in action, look at how Williams characterizes their concern over the effects of First World homosexualism. Is it a concern over the abandonment of the Faith, the spreading of a false gospel and the damnation of souls? No -- it's concern over interfaith relations with Muslims and the ramifications it has in their particular "context":
Your decisions make a vast difference to us. In this world of instant communication, our neighbours know what you do, and they see us as sharing the responsibility... Imagine what it means when those neighbours are non-Christians, delighted to find a stick to beat us with. Imagine what it is to be known as the ‘gay church’ in a context where that spells real contempt and danger.
And the "not so traditional believers" respond in kind -- to cease their aggressive revisionism on the homosexualist issue would be "a betrayal" of their gay and lesbian members, for it would mean rejecting their "gifts" and instead, by not supporting their sexual and civil rights through full inclusion in the sacramental life of the church (marriage & ordination) would be to put them at risk because "they’re still at risk in our society, still vulnerable to murderous violence."

The differences over the homosexualist heresy are presented not in terms of Scripture, not in terms of theology, not in terms of belief -- but in terms of "social justice" and "cultural context": the "traditional believers" have to reject homosexualism or they will be attacked by their neighbors (though how this is supposed to apply to traditionalist believers in all parts of the world -- including the U.S. -- where advocating homosexualism does not invite physical violence is not explained)... the "not so traditional believers" have to embrace homosexualism because otherwise the gays and lesbians in their culture will be "vulnerable to murderous violence" (though how the attitudes of a tiny and increasingly irrelevant minority religious denomination is going to make such a huge murder-preventing difference in a post-Christian Hollywood-acculturated secular culture as America is, also, not explained.)

Once again, the whole discussion is made "relative" and "cultural" and "experiential" -- nothing is said about how these reflect fundamentally different (and irreconcilable) attitudes toward God, Scripture, faith and the Church.

In other words, underlying this "instructional dialog" Williams gives us -- his instruction in how each side is supposed to speak to and hear each other -- is inherently flawed -- if not downright dishonest -- in how it presents the "traditional" voice.

Because this isn't the traditional voice, approach or perspective which Williams presents; this is the revisionist approach and perspective, simply speaking with a different set of assumptions and perspectives. It's a cultural and theological relativism depicted as defending a "traditional" point of view on certain issues, yes... but still a revisionist view toward the central questions of theology and Scriptural authority. For it is still a relativism which bases itself not on revelation, not on the Gospel, not on the clear teaching and mandate of Scripture and Tradition... but merely on on context, culture and experience.

This is why Williams' whole appeal to "consent" and "mutual generosity" and "listening" and "covenant" ultimately fails utterly. Because that whole process is based on the idea that there is a "deeper place" -- a "centre" -- where people can meet, listen, and speak "from the heart of our identity as Anglicans."

There is no such shared heart.

The ABC's whole approach only works if you agree on the fundamentals, the principles and the approach. Then you can "meet" at that common ground and discuss how to work forward together onto less essential matters, firmly grounded on the fundamentals you share.

But the two "sides" in the current Anglican crisis do not share the fundamentals. They do not share the same understanding of God, Scripture, or the Church. For one group, the revelation of Scripture has priority and authority; God does not change His will or His word; and the Church is to speak these eternal truths in whatever culture or context she finds herself in. For the other, culture and experience have authority; Scripture must be constantly reinterpreted and reedited to measure up to each generation's new "revelation"; God is constant changing His mind, His Spirit constantly doing some "new thing" or another which can completely contradict past revelation and teaching on even the most fundamental issues.

What we have in the Anglican Communion is NOT two sides which share the basics and disagree on secondary matters or application -- what we have is two sides which disagree on the fundamentals, and are joined together only by the secondary matters of a shared (or, at least, overlapping) liturgical and historical tradition.

In short, the ABC is asking the different sides to come together on a fundamental ground that they do not share in order work from a common identity out toward the points of disagreement. Which simply doesn't work if the requisite starting point of that process is one of the points of fundamental disagreement.

And this is why, in his little "thought experiment" of the two sides speaking to each other, Williams per force misrepresents one of the sides... he has to, if he's going to present a picture in which they're basing a conversation on a shared common ground which, in actual fact, they do not share. This is why his "conversation" is not actually between a "traditional" and a "not so traditional" Anglicanism, but merely between two factions of "not so traditional" Anglicanism, each speaking to a different context or culture... but neither basing its position on revelation, the authority of Scripture, or the unchanging will of God.

And where does Williams' heart lie? Well, it should be clear from his pre-ABC days of advocating for homosexual marriage and knowingly ordaining practicing homosexuals. And it should be clear from his choice of which "side"'s approach and assumptions from which to have both groups in his imaginary conversation.

And you can see this in how the liberals in his dialog "spin" the issues. For their complaint to their fellow disputants is:
We want to be generous, and we are hurt that some throw back in our faces both the experience and the resources we long to share. Can you try and see us as fellow-believers struggling to proclaim the same Christ, and to be patient with us?’
But for traditional believers this isn't about "hurt feelings"... this isn't even about the violent cultural or religious consequences of certain beliefs. This is about the fact that the "Christ" being proclaimed by the revisionists is not the Christ of Scripture, but some modern relativist invention and fable. And so, no, they cannot "see [you] as fellow-believers struggling to proclaim the same Christ"... because you have made it abundantly clear, by your own statements, beliefs, and actions, that, whatever it is you are "struggling to proclaims", it is NOT the "same Christ."

Where Williams' heart lies is even clearer, here, in what he suggest each side risks:
For the first speaker, the cost of generosity may be accusation of compromise : you’ve been bought, you’ve been deceived by airy talk into tolerating unscriptural and unfaithful policies. For the second speaker, the cost of generosity may be accusations of sacrificing the needs of an oppressed group for the sake of a false or delusional unity, giving up a precious Anglican principle for the sake of a dangerous centralisation.
We know from what the ABC has said and done before that he does not fear that differences over Scriptural interpretation or Church practices are fundamentally divisive or un-Anglican. But he does feel that to sacrifice the needs of an oppressed group is to make the whole thing hollow, self-serving and pointless; and that for Anglicanism to adopt any sort of "centralization" would be to abandon what is essentially Anglican and become something else. Meaning that such a compromise by the "not so traditional believers" is far more troubling and un-Anglican, from Williams' point of view anyway, than what is being asked of "traditional believers." So that, even in this already-distorted presentation of the "traditional" voice, his clear sympathies remain with the revisionists.

Because, you see, the kind of "centralization" for lack of which the Anglican Communion (or, rather, the 5 million at its liberal fringes) are disintegrating is not a "papal" centralization of international law or archepiscopal authority. It is, rather, a common "center" around obedience to Scripture and Tradition -- to the clear teaching of 2000 years of Christian (including Anglican) thought and practice. It is precisely because the Anglican Communion doesn't have this kind of "centralization" (a centralization to which, it seems, Williams also objects) that it doesn't have that very "deeper centre" or "shared heart" from which Williams wants it to speak... and, without which, all Williams' theories and procedures collapse into nothing but impotent, meaningless verbiage.

After the past 10 years of conversations, listening, meetings, and committee after committee, you'd think Williams would have grasped that basic difference. Would have managed to realize that the essential issues under dispute mean that the very "common ground" to which he calls everyone to return for yet more "listening" and "conversation" and "generosity" is not, in fact, common ground... but the subject of the fundamental dispute.

Everyone else has figured this out by now. (Some, like those in the Continuing Church movement, figured it out decades ago!) You'd think Williams would have figured it out too.

But, judging from the archbishop's latest address... well, I guess not.

Lambeth Reflections -- "A Lambeth Happened"

The one "official" document being put out by Lambeth is not any of the WCG "lead trial balloons" circulated for discussion, but the "Lambeth Reflections" document which is expressly designed simply to report that open-ended unresolved discussions took place:
Indaba is open-ended conversation, which doesn't begin by looking for results or feedback. The final document must be faithful to the indaba process: it will therefore be descriptive of the totality of the engagement which the bishops have undertaken under God.
And now the "first draft" -- sort of a brainstormed outline and list of statements, describing the discussions, to include -- has been released.

The first portion (6 sections of 15) simply says that a Lambeth Conference happened, thanks people for helping a Lambeth Conference to happen, and describes the schedule and processes by which it happened. In other words, Canterbury Anglicanism's usual approach of "progress by stating the status quo".

Then, having been told that a Lambeth occured at which things were discussed, we get a list of some of the things discussed. A number of these are simply stating the obvious. Another Anglican passtime.

Here are some additional highlights. If you aren't yet ashamed to be affiliated with a "church" group whose highest levels can't produce anything more substantive or Christian than this garbage, then you ought to be ashamed of yourself for not being ashamed of it.

On Scripture:
We believe the scriptures to be primary, but read them informed by tradition and reason and with regard for the cultural context. We find biblical scholarship a helpful tool to unpack the scriptures, but cannot avoid a divergence in interpretation, which leads to confusion.
I.e. we agree that Scripture is primary, but disagree completely on how to read them, what assumptions to bring to that study, and what the Scriptures actually say. How typically modern Anglican: "we all agree to statements on the meaning of which we disagree, but that's okay because we've agreed to disagree about what exactly what we've agreed on means."

On Worship and Belief:
Anglican worship encourages local freedom and inculturation, but values common structure and common prayer across the Communion. We recognise the relationship between liturgy and doctrine - worship shapes belief.
We agree to value a common structure as long as we can freely put completely different things within that structure. Those culturally-influenced differing contents, in turn, shape differing beliefs.

On Communion Relationships:
There is a strong desire to stay in communion with one another... There is a strong view that the way forward lies chiefly through deepening: person to person relationships, diocesan partnerships, a sense of belonging and mutual affection.
We value our relationship, which is a relationship based on having a relationship.

The proposed Covenant:
There seems to be a general acceptance that we shall have a Covenant.
Consistent with the above, I predict that this will mean having a Covenant that covenants people to having a Covenant. The interpretation or meaning of anything that Covenant actually says or suggests will, of course, differ wildly from place to place; but that's okay, since everyone agrees to disagree about what is actually meant by that to which they've agreed.

The mission of the Anglican Communion:
We value the “five marks of mission”, though we would wish to see greater emphasis on ecumenism, peace-making and global mutuality. We recognise that to speak out for social justice is a part of mission.
So much for the Gospel.

These "five marks of mission", by the way, have been circulating for decades now as part of official Anglican-speak. They are:
  • To proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom
  • To teach, baptise and nurture new believers
  • To respond to human need by loving service
  • To seek to transform unjust structures of society
  • To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth
Of course, we've already seen that what the "Good News" actually is thought to be will - like the meaning of Scripture - differ wildly from place to place. Meaning, of course, that the religion (or lack thereof) into which new believers are being baptized and indoctrinated will also differ wildly from place to place. But that's okay -- we agree to disagree about what we agree on.

But the majority of the concern -- as is clear from the relative weight these points get in the draft Reflections -- is on the issues of social justice. (Environmentalism will come soon... they just haven't had those indabas yet.) Which is probably why the revisionists wish that the "five points" would speak more about globalism and political/secular issues and less about these piddling spiritual and theological things we disagree about anyway.

Evangelism: as part of its concern to live out this secular non-religious "mission", here are some of the concerns about "evangelism" which are raised:
Reconciliation [there's that Episcopal buzz-word for their current trendy un-scriptural and bankrupt theological crap, which replaces spiritual concerns of sin, salvation, and relationship to God with social justice issues]... The Church needs to be watchful of the migration policies of governments... Demographics and economic decline were identified as factors in some situations. The need to welcome immigrants and those in the urban drift was expressed... The needs which confront the church are many but there is inadequate income for undertaking the mission of the church [yeah... especially those places like the Episcopal church, whose membership is declining faster than any other Christian group, which is driving out and suing members, and which is spending millions of dollars annually on the legal fees required for that self-immolation]... There must also be a compassionate community, the enabling of others by the leadership of the church, and the marginalized must be kept in focus [we all know who the "marginalized" in PEcUSA are... they're the ones who have been kept in focus for 30 years now while others (e.g. traditional and orthodox Anglicans) are driven out. This isn't about bringing the "Good News" to those on the margins, this is about making the abandonment of that Good News by certain marginal groups the central focus of the institution]... HIV and AIDS and other pandemics – The church needs to be involved in advocacy, awareness building, pastoral care, and the provision of health care facilities for those affected...
You'll look in vain for any sense in this section of Evangelism as bringing a clear Gospel message of salvation and the Lord Jesus Christ to all the world. No, the "prophetic voice" of this particular mission is:
human rights, environment, migrant workers, HIV and AIDS, and others;

One of the "best" suggestions for "evangelism" in this pathetic document is this one: "Reconciliation within faith communities through our common identity". Ah, that would be reconciliation between groups which don't have a common identity based on their common identity. I get it. Just like the Covenant and the authority of Scripture. Right.

The less said about the vision of what role the "Anglican Communion" is supposed to play in this "evangelism" and "mission" the better. Besides, you can sum it all up as "To facilitate communication and interaction between different groups doing social justice work, peace work, and preaching contradictory religions."

There is one thing which the Communion is supposed to be against, however, as part of its contribution to "evangelization" of this new Anglican "mission":
Support those who are isolated in their dioceses by initiatives such as that by Gafcon
(I guess this explains the ABC's new 'Global South' group designed to undermine GAFCon) and one positive statement of the substance to which the Communion is supposed to contribute:
Make support for the Millennium Development Goals and support for HIV and AIDS ministry a primary focus.

Section D, "Social Justice", gives a clear summary of Lambeth's Vision for what being an Anglican Christian means, what its "evangelical" message is, and how it is to live out the "mission" of bringing this new emptied-of-Christian-spiritual-content gospel to the world. But don't despair about the one obvious glaring omission in this statement... the Conference hasn't gotten to its indabas on environmentalism yet, so that's sure to get included as well in the final "Reflections" document.
The MDGs are seen as a very good framework for engaging with social justice issues across the Communion at Provincial, Diocesan and Parish level... Through education at every level (in the Diocese, Parish, Theological institutions and Schools), formally and informally, social justice issues should be addressed regularly and systematically. As Bishops, we must model and encourage others to live out their faith in Christ in a way which demonstrates our commitment to these issues. Taking due regard of local contexts, we commit ourselves to advocating and lobbying (government, agencies, business, ecumenical, inter-faith partners and any other appropriate agencies or bodies) on the many issues of social justice we find in our world. We commit ourselves to discerning and interpreting local needs in a way that leads to action, because this is being prophetic. The Bishops role in all of the above is to enable communities of faith to be agents of transformation and reconciliation.

Of course, none of these things are, themselves, un- or anti- Christian (though the way certain folks may chose to implement some of them -- e.g. PEcUSA's homosexualist heresy -- certainly are)... but neither are they the heart of the Christian message. The Good News of Christ's divinity, His resurrection from the dead, our redemption from sin, our salvation to eternal life, and the coming of the Kingdom of heaven are all totally absent from this "Canterbury Anglicanism", whose members cannot agree on any of these beliefs.

We have, instead, removed the root, trunk, and most of the branches of Christianity... and now eagerly focus on particular fruit on the remaining branch. Well, I can tell you what's going to happen now that you've removed the root and trunk... that branch is going to die and the fruit is going to rot. (Though, of course, rot is a good thing according to Dr. Schori...)

Welcome to the Brave New World of Lambeth-Anglican -- Lamblican -- "Christianity".

Monday, July 28, 2008

Who needs a Pastoral Forum?...

... just use a bucket of water. Hey, it worked for Dorothy!

You and your little dog too! EH heh heh heh heh heh heh.....

Deja vu all over again for yet another time

The dreaded Windsor Continuation Group has issued its much-awaited third discussion paper, preemptively decried among main stream media journalists, in the face of all the evidence, to be herald to a new Inquisition and a papal Anglican Communion. (Cue villain music.)

And it turned out to be a real tempest after all!

No doubt all the usual Anglican blogs will be analyzing this all day.
  • Those who still retain a grasp on the bare minimum of sanity, logic, and historical awareness will recognized this statement -- which, I remind you, is merely a "talking points" memo issued by a non-legislative committee for purposes of discussion -- for what it is: yet more nothing.
  • The "look for any excuse to justify not doing anything" institutionalists, who desperately need more and more justification for their ingrained habit of rejecting the faith for the sake of staying in the organization, will - yet again - clutch at straws by telling us what a hopeful, positive sign this is, with many excellent new elements and possibilities, and that we should all continue to do nothing rash for another decade or so to see how it plays out this time.
  • The revisionists, heretics and apostates will run about shrieking how this is a terribly invasive idea, smacks of un-Anglican popery, and anyway, only General Convention (or each diocese, or the HoB... or whichever group looks least likely to approve it and has its next meeting scheduled as far in the future as possible) can really respond to it anyway. They've already started too.

Meanwhile, I'd like to add to the discussion by examining what "new elements" this "memo for discussion" brings to the table. If any.

The memo starts up with a rather bland summary of the existing situation:
The failure to respond presents us with a situation where if the three moratoria are not observed, the Communion is likely to fracture. The patterns of action currently embraced with the continued blessings of same-sex unions and of interventions could lead to irreparable damage.
No, REALLY? I never would have guessed.
BREAKING: Windsor Continuation Group announced that the sun rose today. Reporters shocked; liberals scandalized.

Then it goes on to give its "new proposals". It suggests that some interim authority or process needs to be put in place to hold everyone together until a Covenant can be produced. (Yeah, like the Covenant is going to fix anything, or the pansexualists will pay any attention to it). So the WCG observes:
In the period leading up to the establishment of a covenant, however, there are urgent issues which need addressing if we are going to be able to get to the point where such a renewal of trust even becomes possible.
Golly, where I have I heard that before? Oh yeah -- the primates at Dar Es Salaam a year and a half ago.
The scheme proposed and the undertakings requested are intended to have force until the conclusion of the Covenant Process and a definitive statement of the position of The Episcopal Church with respect to the Covenant.

The WCG wants to set up a new "Forum" to mediate disputes and oversee the "continued" implementation of the recommendations of the Windsor Report:
the swift formation of a 'Pastoral Forum' at Communion level to engage theologically and practically with situations of controversy as they arise or divisive actions that may be taken around the Communion.
Hang on, this also sounds familiar.
The Primates will establish a Pastoral Council to act on behalf of the Primates in consultation with The Episcopal Church.
The WCG's Forum must have members appointed by the ABC and represent points of view representing the "breadth" of the Communion as a whole. (I.e. it must have incorporated into its structure precisely the same incoherence and incompatibility which has paralyzed the Communion... so that by representing everyone it can be sure to accomplish nothing.)
The President of such a Forum would be the Archbishop of Canterbury, who would also appoint its episcopal chair, and its members. The membership of the Forum must include members from the Instruments of Communion and be representative of the breadth of the life of the Communion as a whole.
That, too, sounds rather familiar.
This Council shall consist of up to five members: two nominated by the Primates, two by the Presiding Bishop, and a Primate of a Province of the Anglican Communion nominated by the Archbishop of Canterbury to chair the Council.

And the mission and mandate of the WCG's proposed new Forum?
The Pastoral Forum should be empowered to act in the Anglican Communion in a rapid manner to emerging threats to its life, especially through the ministry of its Chair, who should work alongside the Archbishop of Canterbury in the exercise of his ministry. The Forum would be responsible for addressing those anomalies of pastoral care arising in the Communion against the recommendations of the Windsor Report. It could also offer guidance on what response and any diminishment of standing within the Communion might be appropriate where any of the three moratoria are broken.
Now that sure sounds a lot like:
negotiate the necessary structures for pastoral care which would meet the requests of the Windsor Report (TWR, §147–155) and the Primates’ requests in the Lambeth Statement of October 2003... authorise protocols for the functioning of such a scheme, including the criteria for participation of bishops, dioceses and congregations in the scheme... monitor the response of The Episcopal Church to the Windsor Report... consider whether any of the courses of action contemplated by the Windsor Report §157 [Should the call to halt and find ways of continuing in our present communion not be heeded, then we shall have to begin to learn to walk apart. We would much rather not speculate on actions that might need to be taken if, after acceptance by the primates, our recommendations are not implemented] should be applied to the life of The Episcopal Church or its bishops, and, if appropriate, to recommend such action to The Episcopal Church and its institutions and to the Instruments of Communion... take whatever reasonable action is needed to give effect to this scheme and report to the Primates.

In short, this much-dreaded WCG suggestion of a Pastoral Forum is nothing more than the Pastoral Council proposal all over again. Heck, they couldn't even come up with more than 50% of a new name for it!

And we all know how effective that was -- UTTERLY INEFFECTUAL.

Let's do a quick historical review, shall we?
  • PEcUSA was warned that, if they continued their advocacy of the homsexualist heresy by ordaining an openly gay bishop (despite the fact that this is no more a violation of Scripture and Tradition than the ordination of such individuals to the deaconate and priesthood as well) there would be consequences. They ordained Gene Robinson anyway.
  • Then there was a whole flurry of meetings and consultations which resulted in the Windsor Report, saying (section 157) that if PEcUSA didn't stop with the homosexual ordinations and "union" blessings, there would be consequences. They kept up with them anyway.
  • Then there was the Primates meeting at Dar Es Salaam which issued a statement -- with which Dr. Schori agreed at least until she was safely back in the U.S. and could say that she had no power to agree and never actually agreed anyway -- saying that if they didn't change their course, there would be consequences. They stayed on the same course anyway.
  • Then various people suggested that if PEcUSA didn't make adequate response by fall of 2007 they wouldn't be invited to Lambeth. They didn't make adequate response. Williams invited them to Lambeth anyway.
And now the Windsor Continuation Group is saying that yet another committee ought to be formed to monitor the situation and, if things don't change, "offer guidance on what response and any diminishment of standing within the Communion" should result.

Wanna bet that, if PEcUSA (to the surprise of all) still doesn't change direction, the Forum might just recommend... the formation of another committee?!! Assuming, that is, that the WCG's proposed "Pastoral Forum" actual manages to do what the Primate's proposed "Pastoral Council" never managed to do... i.e. anything at all.

More than that, you'll recall that the Windsor Report clearly stated that the irregular boundary-crossings which had resulted from reactions to PEcUSA's apostasy were not as serious a problem as that apostasy itself. That the unilateral abandonment of Christian and Anglican standards by PEcUSA in gay ordinations and marriages was the chief cause of division, and these boundary-crossings simply a response to them. All three issues were cited as inappropriate, but the boundary-crossings issue was -- because it was caused by and a reaction to the former -- the least serious.

All sense of that perspective is lost in the WCG's report. It makes no difference of nature or degree in its call for
the complete cessation of a) the celebration of blessings for same-sex unions, b) consecrations of those living in openly gay relationships, and c) all cross border interventions and inter-provincial claims of jurisdiction.
And its threats of "discipline" (even if they amount to nothing more than proposing a discussion about the possibility of forming another committee to discuss the possibility of discipline) apply equally as well:
It could also offer guidance on what response and any diminishment of standing within the Communion might be appropriate where any of the three moratoria are broken.

And you get an indication of just what sort of non-existent support to Episcopalians who wish to flee their organization's apostasy (assuming there are any such Episcopalians left, and it isn't now just institutionalists willing to sacrifice all fidelity to the faith for the sake of fidelity to the unfaithful organization) when the WCG's report says:
We are encouraged by the planned setting up of the Communion Partners initiative in the Episcopal Church as a means of sustaining those who feel at odds with developments taking place in their own Province but who wish to be loyal to, and to maintain, their fellowship within TEC and within the Anglican Communion.
I've already pointed out, by examining the details of PEcUSA's CPP program and membership, just what an empty, meaningless shell it is -- nothing more than a celebrated version of existing policy. Yet such emptiness is, apparently, exactly what the WCG is praising and encouraging.

So, there you have it, folks. The earth-shattering suggestions of the Windsor Continuation Group. And they do, indeed, continue -- continue to offer simply more of the same: talk and no action, endless committees, and vague, substance-less, meaningless, impotent hand-waving at irrelevant and unenforceable "consequences". Committees forming committees forming committees...

Congratulations people.

The Anglican Communion has finally gone completely fractal. Or, to put it more bluntly: FRACT UP

Now go away, or we shall committee you a second time!