Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Episcopal Pravda Online

One of the more distressing things about my Episcopal life is reading propaganda rags such as "EpiscopalLife Online."

Does your Diocese pay for it?

Like N.P.R. News, I gave up on the Episcopallife Online site for the sake of my soul, and I only check it for amusement, or when my suspicions are raised such as the time they tried to brainwash us with their twisted history of the Lambeth Conference as reported here, here, here, here, here, and here.

Sarah Hey recently called attention to this post which perked up my "Sunday ears" a little. Read the whole thing, or most of it here:

ENGLAND: Liberal Anglicans defend diversity, oppose covenant
By Mary Taylor, November 12, 2008

[Episcopal News Service] The council of the Modern Churchpeople's Union (MCU) met November 6 in London's Docklands to develop a strategy for the defense of liberal theology.

The council members, many of them Church of England clergy, agreed that the organization will be re-branded, re-named, and re-constituted to reflect more fully its openness and diversity. Furthermore, the group decided that an administrator should be appointed and a system of working groups set up...

Founded in 1898, the organization was originally named The Churchmen's Union for the Advancement of Liberal Thought. This soon became The Churchmen's Union, then The Modern Churchmen's Union. The change to 'Churchpeople's' was an inevitable, though arguably belated, innovation in the 1980s.

Modern "Churchpeople's" Union sounds soooo PC. You also should worry about an organization that has to keep reorganizing or renaming itself.
The original aims and objectives -- "to unite [those] who consider that dogma is capable of reinterpretation and restatement in accordance with the clearer perception of truth attained by discovery and research" -- are consistent with MCU's view 110 years on. Asked after the November 6 meeting how he would like to see MCU develop, Clatworthy said, "It is important to offer an account of Christianity which is consistent with modern scientific understandings of the world, open to new insights and constructive in its social and moral judgments."

We all know what that means; roll out the lightning rod...
In July, MCU members welcomed Bishop Gene Robinson of New Hampshire as a guest speaker at their conference, "Saving the Soul of Anglicanism."

Any other geniuses out there? Oh yes here are a few:
(Bishop) Griswold told the July gathering that the search for truth is a communal one, and that "the Holy Spirit can do different things in different places."

A little dose of functional modalism. If it works in New Hampshire, it must be the Spirit blowing in off the water, or was it just "smoke on the water?"

Mwamba spoke of "delusions of grandeur" among some of the African primates and noted that many church members throughout the continent had not been consulted about issues of human sexuality, and were "frankly not bothered with the debate."

Uh oh, do I detect a note of ugliness?
"Some of our primates act like ecclesiastical Mugabes," he said, making reference to Zimbabwe's tyrannical president who has led his country into a humanitarian crisis and financial collapse.

Now that was ugly. Why would they print that? You might think they are bloggers.
Speaking in opposition of the Anglican covenant, proposed as a way to maintain unity amid difference throughout the communion, Adams told the July gathering, "There is no single version of humanity within the church."

I am glad they did not capitalize "Church." They can't even agree on a version of humanity! But I thought they already decided that humanity doesn't start until the 3rd trimester, or was it when the baby is born? This is one statement that holds a kernal of truth, at least in the Episcopal Church.
The article closed with one more choice quote,

Badham, in his MCU booklet Liberal Anglicanism, argues that the church seems willing to "abandon two centuries of liberal scholarship and -- in the case of homosexuality -- to return to an ethic based on biblical taboo."

Bad, bad Biblical ethos, shame on you Bible...

Poor liberal Churchpeople, they don't know where to stand because they have set their feet on the shifting sands and have abandoned what was their rock and foundation.

(Holy Yoke)

Monday, December 29, 2008

Follow the Cross, but...

This morning I watched as a large tour bus pulled out of a local church parking lot. I managed to pull out before it had finished its maneuver, but as I sat at the red light, I stared into my rear view mirror as this big white monster came uncomfortably close to my rear bumper. All I could see was an emblem that read, "looHnav," which translates from "Bizarro World" Naigleb to "vanHool," a Belgian bus manufacturer.

I thought that I had seen the last of this bus as I made several turns and lane changes approaching the Interstate, but as I merged with the Interstate flow, there it was charging up the entrance ramp behind me.

The temptation on this particular stretch of I-77 is to drive faster than the posted 60 mph. As I throttled back, the big bus passed me on the left. Looking at the rear of the bus, I could see the company name,Cross Country Tours Spartanburg, and the motto, "Travel With the Cross."

Lord, I tried to follow your cross, but as you were going 73 mph in a 60 mph zone, I was torn between following the law and following you. I cautiously followed you, but at a distance. When the law allowed, I accelerated to 70 mph, but alas, you increased your speed to 77! I gave up and said a silent prayer for your passengers as you vanished from sight.

The moral of the story is this: Travel with the cross, but check out the bus driver first.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

What Do You Call a Sunday Without a Sermon?

Once again, on the Sunday after Christmas the crew of the E.S. ECOOS was treated to a selection of carols during the sermon hour. The Pewster asked me to comment this week, so here it goes,

What do you call a Sunday without a sermon?
How do you catch the silence and pen it down?
What do you call a word that means quit complaining?
A flibbertijibbet! A will-o'-the wisp! A Miltown?

Many a thing you know I'd like to tell you
Many a thing I thought you already knew
But how do you make me pray
And not listen to all they say
How do you keep a brain upon the pew

Oh, What do you call a Sunday without a sermon?
How do you hold a daydream in your hand?

Friday, December 26, 2008

The Case of the Missing Confession

What happened to the Confession of Sins at the Episcopal Church of Our Saviour? It seemed to have disappeared on Christmas Eve from the 10:30 pm service.

Looking for clues I went around asking questions.

One of the answers is hidden in the back of your Prayer Book,
"Q: What is required of us when we come to the Eucharist?

A: It is required that we should examine our lives, repent of our sins, and be in love and charity with all people." (Catechism BCP pg. 860)?

That kinda sounds like a requirement to me.

How did we get to the time where we can drop the Confession before receiving the Eucharist?
Well, it just took a few well placed strokes of the pen. Some of the alterations in the 1979 BCP were too subtle for those of us in the pews to notice, but one of them was to allow the confession to be omitted "on occasion."
The 1928 Prayer Book instructions were unambiguous
"Then shall this General Confession be made, by the Priest and all those who are minded to receive the Holy Communion, humbly kneeling."

Fast forward to the 1979 BCP and we find the following,
Rite I p. 330, Rite II p. 359
"A Confession of Sin is said here if it has not been said earlier. On
, the Confession may be omitted."

Communion under Special Circumstances p. 397
"A Confession of Sin may follow. The following or some other form is used"

An Order for Celebrating the Holy Eucharist p. 400

No mention of Confession at all, but the following warning is noted,
"This rite requires careful preparation by the Priest and other participants.
It is not intended for use at the principal Sunday or weekly celebration of the Holy Eucharist."

The primary question I have is what is meant by "on occasion?" At ECOOS, I fear it may start to be interpreted to mean that
"on occasion, the Confession may be said.."

Now, I am not aware of all the goings on that led to the changes in the rubrics, and I will refer the reader to "A Form of Godliness An analysis of the Changes in Doctrine and Discipline in the 1979 Book of Common Prayer" by the Rev. Jerome F. Politzer who wrote,
"HOLY EUCHARIST The Holy Eucharist in the 1928 Book of Common Prayer is a simple, orthodox and biblical commemoration of our Lord's death on the cross for the sins of the world, which clearly affirms the doctrines of the Atonement and the Incarnation. Since these themes make the secular humanists uncomfortable we should not expect to find them emphasized in the 1979 Prayer Book. Instead of a clear presentation of the doctrines of the Atonement and Incarnation in the Holy Eucharist, the 1979 Prayer Book contains a doctrinal smorgasbord scattered among the eight rites provided for the Holy Communion Service. These rites run the gamut from a less-than-orthodox paraphrase of Eucharistic Prayer Four of the new Roman Missal to a do-it-yourself "Order for Celebrating the Holy Eucharist." The latter is an open invitation to all the secular and agnostic teaching and practice in the Church from Simon Magus to boy-evangelist Jimmy Joe Jeeter...The weakening of the great themes of penitence and forgiveness by the optional use of general confession and absolution further downgrades the doctrine of the Atonement in the new rites."

Now if all this sounds like the work of an evil mastermind, who could it be?

The Rev. Politzer may label the villain "secular humanism," but I think there must be more to it than that, because the people making the changes in the Prayer Books probably are only semiconscious of their own secular humanism. I say semi-conscious because the alternatives are that they are either ignorant, or they deliberately make these changes to further their personal agendas.
I am sure there are other theories out there.

We missed confession on Christmas Eve, but those who came to the Christmas Day Service with Fr. Dunbar were treated to the Rite 1 confession. So we made up for skipping confession by finding it again and together we acknowledged and bewailed our manifold sins and wickedness...

The investigation is ongoing, the suspects of interest are still at large, and please report any additional incidents.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Will Miracles Never Cease?

I have often been accused of being too negative. As I ponder the birth of Jesus and the series of events that led up to that day, my mind goes all positive and happy. Let me leave Advent with the following juxtapositions which may confuse some, but to me present something very positive:
Matthew 1:18-24
Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.
Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily.
But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the LORD appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.
And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.
Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying,
Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.
Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife

And we also have,
Luke 1:26-33
In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, ‘Greetings, favoured one! The Lord is with you.’* But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. The angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob for ever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.’

Something else made the rounds a couple of weeks ago and was picked up by StandFirm. Does it relate in any way to the passages quoted above?

From the Catholic News Agency

MADRID (CNA) — The Spanish daily “La Razon” has published an article on the pro-life conversion of a former “champion of abortion.” Stojan Adasevic, who performed 48,000 abortions, sometimes up to 35 per day, is now the most important pro-life leader in Serbia, after 26 years as the most renowned abortion doctor in the country.

“The medical textbooks of the Communist regime said abortion was simply the removal of a blob of tissue,” the newspaper reported. “Ultrasounds allowing the fetus to be seen did not arrive until the 80s, but they did not change his opinion. Nevertheless, he began to have nightmares.”

In describing his conversion, Adasevic “dreamed about a beautiful field full of children and young people who were playing and laughing, from 4 to 24 years of age, but who ran away from him in fear. A man dressed in a black and white habit stared at him in silence. The dream was repeated each night and he would wake up in a cold sweat. One night he asked the man in black and white who he was. ‘My name is Thomas Aquinas,’ the man in his dream responded. Adasevic, educated in communist schools, had never heard of the Dominican genius saint. He didn’t recognize the name”

“Why don’t you ask me who these children are?” St. Thomas asked Adasevic in his dream.“They are the ones you killed with your abortions,’ St. Thomas told him. “Adasevic awoke in amazement and decided not to perform any more abortions,” the article stated.

“That same day a cousin came to the hospital with his four months-pregnant girlfriend, who wanted to get her ninth abortion—something quite frequent in the countries of the Soviet bloc. The doctor agreed. Instead of removing the fetus piece by piece, he decided to chop it up and remove it as a mass. However, the baby’s heart came out still beating. Adasevic realized then that he had killed a human being,”

After this experience, Adasevic “told the hospital he would no longer perform abortions. Never before had a doctor in Communist Yugoslavia refused to do so. They cut his salary in half, fired his daughter from her job, and did not allow his son to enter the university.”
After years of pressure and on the verge of giving up, he had another dream about St. Thomas.

“You are my good friend, keep going,’ the man in black and white told him.

Some commenters had difficulty accepting Dr. Adasevic's dreams as a divine message. "Such things don't happen any more" they might say.
Some people I know said, "Oh they made that up."
How many people today say similar things about Joseph's dream in Matthew 1:18-24 or the visitation in Luke 1:26-33? Do you read them with your fingers crossed?

Do you listen to your dreams, or do you just chalk them up to some small bit of undigested fruitcake you ate last week? Do you listen to the dreams of others? Do you listen for the dreams that God has for you?

As for me, you may call me a dreamer. Roll over, John Lennon because I am pulling these words out of context from your song "Imagine,"

"You may call me a dreamer,

but I'm not the only one,

I hope someday you'll join us,

And the world will live as one "

What a miracle.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

It was the Worst of Times and it was the Best of Times

On this the fourth Sunday in Advent, we were given the gift of Fr. Dunbar's last sermon as our assistant priest. Entering into his second retirement at the end of this month, he was assigned sermon duty today. His sermon was a reprise of one given 4 years ago, but it had new meaning given the circumstances. He drew us into the story of Mary and Jesus with a different take on things. Jumping ahead to Jesus' words on the cross, "Into thy hands I commend my spirit," we were instructed that Jesus was saying well remembered words from Psalm 31 (which we might remember better if we did the Compline service regularly),

In te, Domine, speravi
In you, O LORD, have I taken refuge;
let me never be put to shame: *
deliver me in your righteousness.

Incline your ear to me; *
make haste to deliver me.

Be my strong rock, a castle to keep me safe,
for you are my crag and my stronghold; *
for the sake of your Name, lead me and guide me.

Take me out of the net that they have secretly set for me, *
for you are my tower of strength.

Into your hands I commend my spirit, *
for you have redeemed me,
O LORD, O God of truth.

Fr. Dunbar told us that the last verse was a bedtime prayer back in the day, and the presumption is that Mary played a role in being with the young Jesus as He said his prayers at night.

Fr. Dunbar talked about the pain and the pathos of the cross having to be held in the same thought as the triumph and victory of the cross. He did not talk about the pain and pathos of "Retirement," and how we need to remember it together with the triumph and victory of a job well done.

Well done, and good night,

"Chingford Parish Church Men's Choir sing Compline at Holy Trinity Tattershall, Lincolnshire on Thursday July 31st 2008. The conductor is Tom Cowhig, the cantor is Matthew Silverman, and the Vicar of Chingford Father Tom Page led the service."

Friday, December 19, 2008

Christmas Songs

We are all tired of those secular hits. Even Dr. Elmo won't play that Grandma song again.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Politically Correct Carols

The Ship of Fools web site talks about some of the ways to make the old carols right, and asks for you to vote on the year's worst politically correct Christmas Carol. Here are some of the changes their shipmates have observed,

Hark the Herald Angels Sing

Before: Glory to the newborn king
After: Glory to the Christ child, bring

(We can't have any references to Kings in the PC World)

O Come All Ye Faithful

Before: O come let us adore him
After: O come in adoration

(I guess they had to eliminate the masculine "him" in the hymn)

Once in Royal David's City

Before: When like stars his children crowned
All in white shall wait around
After: Where his children gather round
Bright like stars, with glory crowned

(Was it racially charged to dress the kids in white?)

Brightest and Best

Before: Brightest and best of the sons of the morning
After: Brightest and best of the stars of the morning

(There goes another masculine reference)

Joy to the World

Before: Joy to the world, the Lord is come
Let earth receive her King
After: Joy to the world, for peace shall come
Let this be our refrain!

(Not only is the Lord struck down, so is the King)

God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen

Before: This day is born a Saviour
Of a pure Virgin bright
After: To you is born a Saviour
In David's town tonight

(No more crossing your fingers during that one!)

Vote Here before Christmas!

I worry that the people of Bethlehem might be offended by the "little town" reference in "Oh Little Town of Bethlehem" Maybe we should change "little" to "bless-ed."
(Remember the trouble Randy Newman got into with this song "Short People.")

Do any other Christmas Carols need updating?

Sunday, December 14, 2008

What is Behind Those Prophets?

Today, the third Sunday in Advent was a day where we paid special heed to the voices of the prophets. At least, a sampling of prophetic voices was provided by today's lectionary readings.
We began with Isaiah 61:1-4,8-11
In another case of neglected verses, we missed verses 5-7 which read,
Strangers shall stand and feed your flocks,
foreigners shall till your land and dress your vines;
but you shall be called priests of the Lord,
you shall be named ministers of our God;
you shall enjoy the wealth of the nations,
and in their riches you shall glory.
Because their shame was double,
and dishonour was proclaimed as their lot,
therefore they shall possess a double portion;
everlasting joy shall be theirs.

Maybe that would have made the reading too long, or too confusing. Maybe the part about foreigners tilling the land while you become priests sounded a bit like slavery.

Next came 1Thessalonians 5:16-24 where we are advised about prophets,
Do not despise the words of prophets, but test everything; hold fast to what is good; abstain from every form of evil.

And then we have the case of John1:6-8,19-28 with the following expurgated verses,
The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God. And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth. (John testified to him and cried out, ‘This was he of whom I said, “He who comes after me ranks ahead of me because he was before me.” ’) From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. The law indeed was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father’s heart, who has made him known.

There go those uncomfortable words again. Words like "only son" and "No one has ever seen God." Isn't it easier to leave some prophetic words out of the lectionary?
Well, it should make preaching the sermon easier shouldn't it? Charlie took the opportunity today to preach about prophets. He included Amos, Jesus, Martin Luther King Jr., Dorothy Day, and Ronal King as good examples of prophets. In his focus on prophets of the modern day, he missed something. It could have appeared to the casual listener that prophets are just people who look around, see something wrong in society, take a stand in opposition to the ways of the world, and try to do something about it.

What is missing? I am not despising the words of the prophets mind you, but I am testing.

Is a social activist a prophet because they saw something wrong? While Charlie's examples are Christians, why not delve into the question of what power is the source of their vision, what is inspiring them, and what is pushing them forward despite the heavy odds. Is it just their concern for fellow man? If so, then who needs God? Yes, the God connection was not clearly elucidated. I missed it. How else can the prophet survive the pressures of the world?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Where's the Beef?

This was running on YouTube and posted at T19 demonstrating a promotional video for the Diocese of New Hampshire Spring Event.

My comments at T19 were,
I hope the production costs were donated.

I am distressed to see this “Letting the Secrets Out” with the “Too Many Secrets” scrabble words appearing again and again. We all know the unspoken secret to which that refers.

Besides that, when I saw this,

“Liturgy is changing” (Uh oh, I thought)
“Worship is the Episcopal Church’s best kept secret” (I agree)
“What if we let that secret out?” (Yeah, go for it)
“Let the liturgy secret out with
A liturgy that honors children (Huh?)
A liturgy that honors creativity (Wait a minute what about God?)
A liturgy that honors our senses and our bodies (Uh oh, here it comes)
This liturgy will let the Gospel secret out, (No I take it back, keep it secret)
and make the Bishop worship like this.” (Ack..Silly dancing clergy video)

And I always thought the liturgy helped me worship God with proper reverence and awe.

The YouTube comment section was interesting. Here are the first 5,

This is spectacular! Thank you.
Tom Woodward

What faith and tradition? TEC has thrown Christ to the curb, and is now a cult of moral relativism. It's disgraceful how racist and corrupt TEC has become under Jefferts-Schori, the attacks against African Anglican bishops, the theft of tribal lands in the Dakotas.

People, stay far away from this cult. They try to convince you that they are "Christians" but they are not; they don't believe in the Bible, they don't honor God but instead mock Him, they promote what God specifically forbids. They desecrate the sacraments of communion, baptism and especially marriage.
Christ would throw the PB and her fellow swindlers out of the temple.

This piece is nicely done - but like the Episcopal Church, it is far more style than substance. You can be as creative as you please, but if Jesus and his atoning death are not at the heart of worship, the liturgy is merely theatrics.

I love it. Thanks for the shout out! Some of the slides are too quick to read, though. You need at least 2.0 (maybe even 3) seconds to internalize a text, in my humble opinion. I hope you have a great conference.

Thanks for the helpful comments! Glad to hear that you don't mind me appropriating your work, FatherMatthew!

This was my first try at iMovie, so I struggled with how long to leave the text up. Next time it'll be more consistent.

After letting this post age a couple of weeks, and pondering the value of a theologically sound liturgy in a changing world, I am coming to the conclusion that there is no "secret." What we have here is a failure to communicate how the liturgy grounds us, and protects us from such foolishness as the dancing clergy in the video. Clergy whose feet have left the secure ground laid down by earlier generations. "A liturgy that honors our senses and bodies" it is not. It is a liturgy that brings us back to the Lord humbly, on our knees.
"Almighty and most merciful father,
we have erred and strayed from thy ways like lost sheep,
we have followed too much the devices and desires of our
own hearts,
we have offended against thy holy laws,
we have left undone those things which we ought to
have done,
and we have done those things which we ought not to
have done.
But thou, O Lord, have mercy upon us,
spare thou those who confess their faults,
restore thou those who are penitent,
according to thy promises declared unto mankind
in Christ Jesus our Lord;
and grant, O most merciful Father, for his sake,
that we may hereafter live a godly, righteous, and sober life,
to the glory of thy holy Name. Amen."
1979 BCP p. 320

Now you are free to dance.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Advent 1941 or Wake Up and Smell the Altar Flowers

After last week's readings making us mindful to be awake for the coming of the Lord, and this week's emphasis on preparing the way of the Lord, I had to reflect on the second week in Advent, 1941. As I dozed off during Mary Cat's sermon, I thought I could smell the altar flowers given today to the glory of God and in loving memory of Admiral Husband E. Kimmel and his sons Captain Thomas Kinkaid Kimmel, LCDR Manning M. Kimmel, and LCDR Edward R. Kimmel and in honor of all those in the military who have served their country and protected its freedoms, by Manning and Sheila Kimmel.

Yes, today is December 7, Pearl Harbor day. A day which is fading from our nation's collective memory. A morning when our armed forces were caught less than awake for the rising of an Imperial sun.

I read an interesting book, "At Dawn we Slept" by Gordon Prange et al (McGraw-Hill 1981)which dissects the events leading up to and following the attack including the Congressional hearings and the verdicts of history. Anyone studying the 9/11 Commission report would be wise to read this book and understand that there is usually more to any story, and that it sometimes takes years to piece things together. Our parishioner Manning Kimmel, who has helped lead the fight for the late Admiral Kimmel, has seen first hand the difficulty in getting people to wake up. The lessons of Pearl Harbor were forgotten by the time 9/11 rolled around. Perhaps the next book we read will be "And We Continue to Sleep."

This week I watched another parishioner, Phil Glennon on CN2's "THE CITY MINUTE" with Betty Jo Rhea. He gave a great reflection on his time as a submariner in the Pacific in WWII. If you see him, thank him for his service, and remember the submariners who did not return home.

Will the lessons of Advent be forgotten as well? What are we doing on a daily basis to be prepared for the day of the Lord? What will that morning be like? Will it be all Christmas presents and baby Jesus?

Such preparation is hard work. We are to stay awake and make straight the way of the Lord. All are to be encouraged in their labors on this highway project. But if the surveyors and planners start reading the plans wrong, or if they choose to ignore history and other sources of intelligence, what kind of path will the laborers take? I am worried that the leadership of the Episcopal Church has veered off the straight and narrow path which we are called to prepare. As the numbers presented in the last post demonstrate, the workers are losing confidence in their leaders. Will these leaders ever wake up, or will they "continue to sleep?"

Oh yes, Wallace Hartley pointed out that "Advent" is ironically the name of a sub chaser from WWII.
He could not find a photo of the USS Advent (Laid down 08/18/1941, commissioned 1942), but provided a picture of the Force, PC 1603, it was in the same class as the Advent PC 1587

Thursday, December 04, 2008

What Do You Get When You Squeeze a Turnip?

David Virtue's breakdown of the Episcopal Church money shakedown was posted on Catholic Online on 12/04/2008.
The source for David's data is the Episcopal Church's web site which recently updated the financial and membership stats to include 2007. You can find the data HERE.
He starts his comments as follows,

"Across the country, diocesan attendance figures show massive decline. Latest statistics for attendance in 2007 reveal that almost 100,000 fewer people are attending domestic dioceses than in 2003. Many dioceses are down 20%+ since 2003. In short, at least 1 in 5 Episcopalians has left The Episcopal Church."

This is followed by an evaluation of several diocesan budgets from around the country. He did not address our diocese directly.

But what about the Diocese of Upper South Carolina? Here is the breakdown in Average Sunday Attendance (ASA) for the past 10 years,


I was under the impression that South Carolina as a whole was increasing in overall population. There are a number of ways of working with numbers, and I had my own peculiar method in mind because of this question: How does the ASA decline compare to the population statistics for the EDUSC region of South Carolina? In order to do this I had to pull out the population data for the counties included in the EDUSC.

Here are the population estimates for 1997 and 2007 that I abstracted from the State of SC statistics pages here and here.

EDUSC County--1997-------------2007 (est.)



Okay, here is my calculated ASA/POP:

From 1 ASA (average Sunday attendee) for every 240 persons in the general population to 1 ASA for every 303 persons. I would estimate if the Episcopal Church had a flat growth rate, the ASA should have been 10,634 in 2007 instead of 8439.

This is roughly a 20% drop in ASA corrected for population growth.

So much for the decade of evangelism. Mea culpa?

I doubt we will be hearing about this from

The EDUSC may also want to update the figures presented on its Web site for the numbers of members in the greater Episcopal Church to 2.2 million worldwide (2.1 million in the US) down from 2.4 million worldwide in 2003.

The numbers indicate both a failure of Episcopal evangelism and a problem with loss of members. When evaluating a disaster, root cause analysis is useful. I have some thoughts, but I will end with David Virtue's summary conclusion,
"Perhaps Episcopal Church officials will reconsider their "mission" of pursuing Millennium Development Goals and suing churches. Throwing former members out on the street with nothing, is not really what Jesus would do, and it's time to re-evaluate their approach."

"At a deeper level, the decline indicates that theological liberalism is a cancer that is eating away at the Episcopal body politic and that no amount of money will ultimately keep it together. The Episcopal Church's "respectable unbelief" - Jesus is "a way" not "the way" ...truth and the life, touted by the Presiding Bishop will only lead more people to leave. After all, if you don't know what you really stand for, why should anyone follow what you fall for?"

Okay what do you get when you squeeze a turnip?

A smaller turnip.

Just call me Turnip Juice.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Gsus Pryr 4 fun

In case you missed it, this from The Ship of Fools

"We're pleased to announce the winner and runners-up in the Ship of Fools biblical text-messaging competition.
The competition was for re-writing the Lord's Prayer for the mobile phone, using just 160 characters or less. It was judged for Ship of Fools by the Churches' Broadcasting Conference. The task itself was not easy. The traditional version of the Lord's Prayer is 372 characters long, so whittling it down to 160 characters meant cutting the prayer by more than half but without losing anything important.

THE WINNER – out of a strong field of over 100 entries, Matthew Campbell, a history student at York University, came up with the winning entry, which is...
dad@hvn,ur spshl.we want wot u want&urth2b like hvn.giv us food&4giv r sins lyk we 4giv uvaz.don't test us!save us!bcos we kno ur boss,ur tuf&ur cool 4 eva!ok?

In 2nd place: Steve Seymour, Bristol, England
r pa in evan, respect 2 u, may u rain ear as in evan. giv us r needs, 4giv rsin as we 4giv r nmes. resq us from the evil 1. 4 ur always the most xlent dude. yo

In 3rd place: Rev. Stephen E. Moore, Bellevue, Washington, USA, You rule, up and down. We need grub and a break. Will pass it on. Keep us focused. You totally rule, long term. Amen.

SPECIAL MENTIONS – some entrants took a refreshingly cavalier approach to the competition, and both the longest and shortest entries deserve special praise. Andy Keulemans from Wrexham in North Wales took an extreme shortcut with his 48-character prayer...
Hi Fr., Mat 6:9-13 again pls. Cheers. c u in ch.

Meanwhile, the longest entry, which at 357 characters was more than twice the acceptable length, was written by Sheila Locke from Norwich, and says...
Hi Dad, still in the same old homestead? Dig your name ol'fella. "Thy kingdom come" (what's that mean?). Anyhow, expect me sometime in next twenty years (or earlier) - still trying to be good. I like bread - the more the better, but will try not to get too greedy. Overlook any little naughtiness won't you and will try to do the same, but am only human. Bye.