Sunday, June 28, 2009

Cranmer Was Wrong

(According to our rector)

The martyrdom of Thomas Cranmer, from an old edition of Foxe's Book of Martyrs

Oh my, where to begin? Let us first go back in tyme:

In the 1552 Prayer Book's




We beg to prepare ourselves for communion as follows,

ALMIGHTIE God, father of our Lorde Jesus Christe, maker of all thyngs, Judge of all men, we knowledge and bewayle oure manyfolde synnes and wyckednes, whiche we from tyme to tyme moste grevously have committed, by thoughte, woord and dede, agaynst thy devine Majestie: provokyng most justely thy wrath and indignacion agaynste us: we doe earnestlye repente, and be hartely sory for these our misdoynges: the remembraunce of them is grievouse unto us, the burthen of them is intollerable: have mercye upon us, have mercye upon us, moste mercifull father, for thy sonne oure Lorde Jesus Chrystes sake: forgeve us all that is past, and graunt that we maye ever here after serve and please thee, in newnesse of lyfe, to the honoure and glory of thy name: Through Jesus Christ our Lord.

or for those of you who spell "indignacion" this way, "indignation,"

Almighty God,
Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
maker of all things, judge of all men:
We acknowledge and bewail our manifold sins and wickedness,
which we from time to time most grievously have committed,
by thought, word, and deed, against thy divine Majesty,
provoking most justly thy wrath and indignation against us.
We do earnestly repent,
and are heartily sorry for these our misdoings;
the remembrance of them is grievous unto us,
the burden of them is intolerable.
Have mercy upon us,
have mercy upon us, most merciful Father;
for thy Son our Lord Jesus Christ's sake,
forgive us all that is past;
and grant that we may ever hereafter
serve and please thee in newness of life,
to the honor and glory of thy Name;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
(BCP Rite 1)

According to today's sermon by our rector, Cranmer got it wrong in the highlighted "provokyng most justely thy wrath and indignacion agaynste us," because the portrait of a wrathful God is wrong, and this vision of the Lord has done tremendous harm to individuals as well as to post-reformation Christianity as a whole. I shook my head in disbelief as I listened to the reasoning behind this remark. Somehow or another, the people who left "The Wisdom of Solomon" out of many Protestant Canons are also to blame. According to the rector the reading from today's lessons would have solved the problem of God's wrath and indignation for inumerable people.

Those old men in the starched collars did this to us! After all, they left us:

The Westminster Confession (1647). Chapter 1 § 3: "The books commonly called Apocrypha, not being of divine inspiration, are no part of the Canon of Scripture; and therefore are of no authority in the Church of God, nor to be any otherwise approved, or made use of, than other human writings."

And Article VI (BCP p. 868)

"And the other Books (as Hierome saith) the Church doth read for example of life and instruction of manners; but yet doth it not apply them to establish any doctrine; such are these following:" (listing of the Apocrypha)
And what in today's reading from the apocrypha leads to the rector's conclusion? Here is the text we heard:
Wisdom 1:13-15,2:23-24

Because God did not make death,
and he does not delight in the death of the living.
For he created all things so that they might exist;
the generative forces of the world are wholesome,
and there is no destructive poison in them,
and the dominion of Hades is not on earth.
For righteousness is immortal.

(Notice the big gap here, skipping to the end of Chapter 2)

for God created us for incorruption,
and made us in the image of his own eternity,
but through the devil’s envy death entered the world,
and those who belong to his company experience it.

There we go with missing verses again! As I have mentioned before, I think we are getting a carefully selected, edited, and spliced version which is misleading to us Bible novices.
I think a liberal mind could really get around that wholesome generative forces idea, and it certainly stands in sharp opposition to Cranmer's "...manyfolde synnes and wyckednes..." so maybe that is what the rector was getting at.

To be fair, let's read the expurgated text:
Wisdom 1:16

But the ungodly by their words and deeds summoned death;
considering him a friend, they pined away
and made a covenant with him,
because they are fit to belong to his company.

What, you mean some reject God and are to die? We can't tell the pewsters that, it might sound like "provoking" God.

And we left out this huge swath of chapter 2,

For they reasoned unsoundly, saying to themselves,
‘Short and sorrowful is our life,
and there is no remedy when a life comes to its end,
and no one has been known to return from Hades.
For we were born by mere chance,
and hereafter we shall be as though we had never been,
for the breath in our nostrils is smoke,
and reason is a spark kindled by the beating of our hearts;
when it is extinguished, the body will turn to ashes,
and the spirit will dissolve like empty air.
Our name will be forgotten in time,
and no one will remember our works;
our life will pass away like the traces of a cloud,
and be scattered like mist
that is chased by the rays of the sun
and overcome by its heat.
For our allotted time is the passing of a shadow,
and there is no return from our death,
because it is sealed up and no one turns back.

‘Come, therefore, let us enjoy the good things that exist,
and make use of the creation to the full as in youth.
Let us take our fill of costly wine and perfumes,
and let no flower of spring pass us by.
Let us crown ourselves with rosebuds before they wither.
Let none of us fail to share in our revelry;
everywhere let us leave signs of enjoyment,
because this is our portion, and this our lot.
Let us oppress the righteous poor man;
let us not spare the widow
or regard the grey hairs of the aged.
But let our might be our law of right,
for what is weak proves itself to be useless.

‘Let us lie in wait for the righteous man,
because he is inconvenient to us and opposes our actions;
he reproaches us for sins against the law,
and accuses us of sins against our training.
He professes to have knowledge of God,
and calls himself a child of the Lord.
He became to us a reproof of our thoughts;
the very sight of him is a burden to us,
because his manner of life is unlike that of others,
and his ways are strange.
We are considered by him as something base,
and he avoids our ways as unclean;
he calls the last end of the righteous happy,
and boasts that God is his father.
Let us see if his words are true,
and let us test what will happen at the end of his life;
for if the righteous man is God’s child, he will help him,
and will deliver him from the hand of his adversaries.
Let us test him with insult and torture,
so that we may find out how gentle he is,
and make trial of his forbearance.
Let us condemn him to a shameful death,
for, according to what he says, he will be protected.’

Thus they reasoned, but they were led astray,
for their wickedness blinded them,
and they did not know the secret purposes of God,
nor hoped for the wages of holiness,
nor discerned the prize for blameless souls;

So it was "Reason" that did them in. But isn't "reason" just one of those wholesome generative forces? Therefore things discerned by reason can't be bad. I am afraid the writer of the Wisdom of Solomon would not pass muster in today's more understanding world where we don't talk about ideas or people that way. Today we know that no one is wicked, or blind, and all are blameless because they are, after all, "victims," just like those people in the missing verses were victims of "reason" which led them astray.

Needless to say, I was very confused by today's sermon. To add to the confusion, later in the sermon we were told that there was a part where,

Cranmer got it right!:

O GOD, whose nature and property is ever to have mercy and to forgive; Receive our humble petitions; and though we be tied and bound with the chain of our sins, yet let the pitifulness of thy great mercy loose us; for the honour of Jesus Christ, our Mediator and Advocate. Amen.
(1928 BCP Litany)

The highlighted part was what was quoted during our sermon, nobody heard about the "chain of our sin" business. So God's nature and property of mercy trumps all, and the rector used the story of the prodigal son as a defense. We are getting perilously close to hearing the message "If it feels good do it" from the 60's. My only question is this, "Why does God have to show mercy on us if the generative forces (read passions, lusts, sins, etc) of the world are wholesome to begin with?"

If I were to summarise/summarize the theology of the present, I would say, "God does not punish, only forgives, but there really is nothing that needs his forgiveness anyway."

My response to such nonsense is to quote from C.S. Lewis' "The Problem of Pain." In the chapter on Divine Goodness, he writes of "an analogy full of danger" (pp 39-42), the analogy between God's love for man and a man's love for a woman.

"When we fall in love with a woman, do we cease to care whether she is clean or dirty, fair or foul? Do we not rather then first begin to care?...Love may forgive all infirmities and love still in spite of them: but Love cannot cease to will their removal. Love is more sensitive than hatred itself to every blemish in the beloved...Of all powers, he forgives most, but he condones least..."

"...You asked for a loving God: you have one. The great spirit you so lightly invoked, the 'lord of terrible aspect', is present: not in a senile benevolence that drowsily wishes you to be happy in your own way, not the cold philanthropy of a conscientious magistrate, nor the care of a host who feels responsible for the comfort of his guests, but the consuming fire Himself, the Love that made the worlds, persistent as the artist's love for his work and despotic as a man's love for a dog, provident and venerable as a father's love for a child, jealous, inexorable, exacting as love between the sexes."

Friday, June 26, 2009


The General Convention of the Episcopal Church will be held July 8-15 in Anaheim California. Those attending this big waste of time, talent, and treasure were gifted with a little light reading to study before the big event. This is nicknamed the "Blue Book" (warning this is an 811 page pdf file). One of the most ominous sections was one called the "House of Deputies Committee on the State of the Church" (pp 59-81). This report presents in written, graphic, and tabular detail the decline of the Episcopal empire.

It is amazing how one small paragraph in one long document can tell a great truth.

Found buried on page 63 under the "House of Deputies Committee on the State of the Church" after all the numbers documenting the dropping Sunday attendances, the greying of membership, etc., we read:

"As a final comment on the age structure of The Episcopal Church we note two facts. First, “youth and young adults” were articulated by General Convention as one of our top five priorities for the 2006-2009 triennium. The Executive Council, in developing the draft budget for the 2009-2012 triennium, did not list “youth and young adults” as one of their mission priorities. Second, in the recent reorganization of The Episcopal Church Center staff in New York City, the position of Staff Officer for Youth and Young Adult Ministries was eliminated and the duties of that officer re-distributed to other ministry areas."

I know there are people who think that 815's decision to eliminate this position is wrong, unfair, cruel, indifferent, stupid, etc., and for them, I raise the alert level to DEFCON3.

Personally I don't give a hoot if 815 has a "Staff Officer for Youth and Young Adult Ministries," because youth ministry is a local/regional issue as illustrated out by last week's post on youth mission trips. When a small church has small numbers of youth, the real question should be, "What are we doing wrong?" Real solutions for Rock Hill, SC will not be found by asking some Staff Officer in NYC.

Unfortunately, in reading through the resolutions in the Blue Book, I don't think these folks have a good idea on where to "re-distribute" that officer or those monies. How about sending it back to the Dioceses? Or better yet, why do we send 815 money at all?

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


DEFCON 4: Dupes and Lackeys, Spies and Saboteurs

The Reformed Pastor presents an interesting subject in his post "More on the Communist Episcopalian." It all stems from this strange announcement from the Communist Party USA
"The Communist Party USA has established a new Religion Commission to strengthen its work among religious people and organizations. In its leadership are activists representing various religious traditions from around the country. Tim Yeager, a Chicago trade unionist and a member of the Episcopal Church, serves as its chair.

'We want to reach out to religious people and communities, to find ways of improving our coalition work with them, and to welcome people of faith into the party,' Yeager said. 'We invite questions and responses from people who would like to dialogue with us on matters pertaining to religion, Marxism and the struggle for more peaceful, just and secure world.'

'There is a common misconception concerning the position of the Communist Party USA about religion,' Yeager noted. Many who are unfamiliar with the party wrongly assume that all Communists are atheists, or that the party requires its members to be atheists. 'Nothing could be farther from the truth,' he said. 'Religious people are welcome to join.'"

Sounds like Episcobabble to me (translation: "All that communist fundamentalism was bad. Look what happened, Mao is dead, Lenin lays quietly pickled in the Kremlin wall, and who reads Marx literally anymore.")

The Reformed Pastor tracked down a bio on Mr. Yeager from an outfit called the Episcopal Peace Fellowship where he claims,
"Mr. Tim Yeager (Prov. 5) is a member of Grace Church in Oak Park, Illinois, where he serves as assistant organist. Tim is the Chair of the Peace & Justice Committee of the Diocese of Chicago. He is the Financial Secretary/Treasurer of the National Organization of Legal Services Workers, UAW Local Union 2320, which represents nearly 4,000 lawyers, support staff, social workers and other employees working in legal and human services agencies across the country. Tim has served one three-year term on the NEC where he has been a member of the human resources committee and an EPF representative to the Consultation. He is concerned that the Church finds and uses its prophetic voice to advocate for a more just and peaceful socioeconomic order, and feels that there has never been a greater need for all people of good will to join together in the struggle against poverty, violence and fear."

Hero of the Revolution! Saving those oppressed lawyers.

What is going on here? Is Mr. Yeager a Christian trying to change the communist party, an imperialist saboteur? Or is he a communist trying to change Christianity by infiltrating its weakest link? Perhaps he is just another misguided universalist Episcopalian hoping to change the world and is being used by the communists to take more dollars from the unsuspecting capitalists.

I also wonder what the communist party is up to in creating this "Religion Commission." It certainly can't be planning to spread the Gospel of Christ.

Take one guess who will win the inevitable showdown between the old Marxists and Leninists and these new thang God talkers at the next party congress.

I don't mind having communists at the communion rail, as long as they have been baptized, confirmed, and say their/our confession, but if they do that, are they really communists? I suspect not, and I would pray they are not doomed to be condemned to some future gulag by their puppet masters.

This story spurred me to compose,

"An Episcommist Manifesto."

We are an “inclusive Church.” We welcome the enemies of religion. We are not only “inclusive,” we are “accepting” as well. We do not want to offend anyone, especially someone who volunteers for committee work. We will not challenge them in their beliefs. We will not ask them to give up their earthly passions and follow the wandering rabbi (whose name we shall not mention in front of them). We will be ready to hear how the Spirit speaks through their voices. We shall affirm their prophetic messages.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

That Mission From God Thing

Today's sermon was delivered by Mary Cat Young, and instead of taking her lead from today's Gospel reading, she tried to rescue the parable of the mustard seed from last week's confusion. She focused on the parallel between her most recent youth "mission" trip to Augusta. ECOOS managed to muster up 2 brave middle schoolers to join a larger group in Augusta. They cleaned, and painted, and put in the sweat equity part of that "loving your neighbor" bit. The tiny mustard seed indeed did grow into a larger something, and I commend them all for their labors. I know there must of have been some teaching, singing, and praying going on, but we adults did not hear anything about that. We were left with the vague impression that this Christianity thing is about this type of "mission." This is where I am afraid that "focus on mission" becomes "focus on good works," and how talking about good works helps us avoid those complicated religious things like talking about how we relate to Christ and He to us. How different we Episcopalians are from our friendly Mormon missionaries, or our local Jehovah's witnesses when we talk of "mission trips."

The Rev. Tim Fountain at Northern Plains Anglican got me to thinking about this last week with his post "We are a SMALL church" which started off with the interesting question:
"'We are a small church' was a rebuke given me for some of my criticisms of Episcopal Church (TEC) shrinkage.

It really has me thinking about my ministry gifts and how to use them. Is there room in TEC for people who like to help congregations grow, or is that for 'those other churches'?"

Yes there is room Tim, and we need more like you!

At the current rate of decline, the Episcopal Church (DIE-C) will need to generate scores of real, honest to God missionaries to bring in the wayward, to bring in the unchurched, and to answer to, instead of falling for, the growing secularism of the world. After all, it's all about spreading the good news that souls can be saved, and Jesus is the way...isn't it? I just don't think that the social activist approach is the way to the salvation of either souls or the Church.

In order for DIE-C to become a growing Episcopal Church, there would have to be a major revolution. This would require dramatic changes in training, education, and of course leadership. Will such a revolution ever occur? Currently, the outlook looks bleak. I pray that Fr. Tim and priests like him will be the mustard seeds that we so desperately need. Our job as pewsters is to be the fertile soil. Let us pray that through such a mission, that an amazing tree of shelter and shade comes forth. Things may look bleak, but there is always hope for a new harvest. I have to remember the Psalms that start with a woeful tone but end in hope.

Speaking of psalms, I present to you the verses that were omitted from Psalm 107 today by the curious lectionary writing process. I have highlighted the verses that Mary Cat might have used to describe how the Lord was present in the Augusta heat of her mission trip.
Psalm 107:4-22

Some wandered in desert wastes,
finding no way to an inhabited town;
hungry and thirsty,
their soul fainted within them.
Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble,
and he delivered them from their distress;
he led them by a straight way,
until they reached an inhabited town.
Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love,
for his wonderful works to humankind.
For he satisfies the thirsty,
and the hungry he fills with good things.

Some sat in darkness and in gloom,
prisoners in misery and in irons,
for they had rebelled against the words of God,
and spurned the counsel of the Most High.
Their hearts were bowed down with hard labour;
they fell down, with no one to help.
Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble,
and he saved them from their distress;
he brought them out of darkness and gloom,
and broke their bonds asunder.
Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love,
for his wonderful works to humankind.
For he shatters the doors of bronze,
and cuts in two the bars of iron.

Some were sick through their sinful ways,
and because of their iniquities endured affliction;
they loathed any kind of food,
and they drew near to the gates of death.
Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble,
and he saved them from their distress;
he sent out his word and healed them,
and delivered them from destruction.
Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love,
for his wonderful works to humankind.
And let them offer thanksgiving sacrifices,
and tell of his deeds with songs of joy.

So what is that mission from God thing? In a nutshell, it is both the labor, and the evangelism. It is not our Father's Day gift to Him. Rather, it is yet another of His gifts for us.

Sorry to cut it short today, but I have to type fast today because it is Father's Day and I have several other missions to attend to. Soooo......

"Our Lady of Blessed Acceleration, don't fail me now."

And the good sister said what!?

"And don't come back until you have redeemed yourselves."

I think the writer hadn't studied his/her redemption theology.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Profile of Conservative Upper South Carolina

Part of the process in searching for a new Bishop is the creation of a profile of the Diocese that the candidates can peruse as they decide whether or not to accept the call. Also the search committee may use this information (or not) when culling the herd of candidates. Please note, you have until July 3 to submit a candidate's name. Please make sure the candidate agrees to run. The profile is found here and looks pretty slick. Buried in there is this teaser:
"The clergy were more supportive of statements about same gender issues facing our church; however, the majority of both clergy and laity opposes same gender marriages. Although, we have diversity and some disagreement over sexuality..."
There may be a disconnect between the clergy and laity, but you won't find those stats in the published survey data.

Encourage your candidate to study the results of the survey. The survey results of the EDUSC can be found here, but I have posted the questions and responses in a blogger friendly format (with a few personal comments in red).

When there appears to be a clear voice in an answer, reread the question to look for ill defined terms that might be subject to interpretation. Example, see Q. 27 below.

When responses are evenly split, one person may declare this a sign of "diversity" while the next person may point to underlying "conflict." Example, see Q. 16 below.

When "No opinion" shows up a significant choice, go over that question again and ask yourself "Why?" Could it be that these issues have not been brought to the laity's attention? Examples Qs. 3 and 9 below.

Okay, enough preview, let's dive in.
Number of Responses: 2051

Gender: Male 44% Female 55% Refused 1%

Gender refused?

1. Our diocese should encourage and support
domestic and foreign outreach programs.
64 % Strongly Agree
31 % Somewhat Agree
2 % No Opinion
2 % Somewhat Disagree
1 % Strongly Disagree

This seems like a softball, no brainer question. Maybe it was in there just for validation purposes.

2. We are effective at evangelizing and bringing
the un-churched to God.
6 % Strongly Agree
35 % Somewhat Agree
13 % No Opinion
36 % Somewhat Disagree
10 % Strongly Disagree

I am surprised that 6% strongly agree with this one. I would have guessed <1%

3. Within our diocese, we effectively identify
locations for new missions and congregations.
7 % Strongly Agree
25 % Somewhat Agree
42 % No Opinion
18 % Somewhat Disagree
8 % Strongly Disagree

I am sure that the bonehead approval of the site for St. Matthias in Rock Hill was unknown to most of the respondants. Count me in the 8%.

4. In these troubled times, the Church (both at
the diocesan level and at the national level)
should do all in its power to ease the financial
demands on congregations.
29 % Strongly Agree
41 % Somewhat Agree
12 % No Opinion
15 % Somewhat Disagree
3 % Strongly Disagree

But how? Maybe do away with Episcopal Pravda or the lawsuits that the Episcopal Church (DIE-C) is engaging in against departing dioceses.

5. Our diocese is of one mind in matters of
theology, faith, tradition, liturgy, music, etc.
10 % Strongly Agree
27 % Somewhat Agree
9 % No Opinion
35 % Somewhat Disagree
19 % Strongly Disagree

We are definitely not of one mind based on this response. We must be schizophrenic.

6. The range of available worship styles /
liturgies, including music, offered in my parish
is satisfactory.
58 % Strongly Agree
30 % Somewhat Agree
3 % No Opinion
8 % Somewhat Disagree
1 % Strongly Disagree

Like moths to a light, people attend where there is a worship style that attracts them.

7. The variety of worship traditions in this
diocese should be consistent with the Book of
Common Prayer.
55 % Strongly Agree
33 % Somewhat Agree
6 % No Opinion
6 % Somewhat Disagree

But what if they rewrite the BCP?

8. Our parish youth programs offer
opportunities for learning, for participating in
the life of the parish and for meeting other
youth in our diocese.
37 % Strongly Agree
32 % Somewhat Agree
19 % No Opinion
9 % Somewhat Disagree
3 % Strongly Disagree

9. Currently, many of our parish teenagers are
participating in non-Episcopalian- sponsored
youth programs.
11 % Strongly Agree
25 % Somewhat Agree
53 % No Opinion
9 % Somewhat Disagree
2 % Strongly Disagree

Don't ask don't tell.

10. Our bishop should be an advocate for the
well-being of clergy, particularly with regard to
their need for adequate compensation and
53 % Strongly Agree
36 % Somewhat Agree
7 % No Opinion
3 % Somewhat Disagree
1 % Strongly Disagree

11. We effectively support and retain ordained
29 % Strongly Agree
40 % Somewhat Agree
19 % No Opinion
10 % Somewhat Disagree
2 % Strongly Disagree

12. We effectively recruit, train, ordain and
assign deacons within the diocese.
16 % Strongly Agree
29 % Somewhat Agree
38 % No Opinion
12 % Somewhat Disagree
5 % Strongly Disagree

A lot of no ops there. Maybe they are thinking, "What's a Deacon?"

13. The diocese would benefit from having a
bishop who has an understanding of the cultural
dynamics of South Carolina.
58 % Strongly Agree
31 % Somewhat Agree
6 % No Opinion
4 % Somewhat Disagree
1 % Strongly Disagree

A Bishop who understands Carolina b-b-que.

14. It is important for the Episcopal Church to
remain in the Anglican Communion.
69 % Strongly Agree
20 % Somewhat Agree
7 % No Opinion
4 % Somewhat Disagree

Uh oh, don't let 815 know about this or we will all be sent to the reeducation camp (Kanuga).

15. Our current Bishop and the diocese, in
convention, have affirmed that we are a
Windsor Diocese. In that light, I believe our
next bishop should be supportive of the
Windsor Report and the ongoing Windsor
48 % Strongly Agree
20 % Somewhat Agree
26 % No Opinion
4 % Somewhat Disagree
2 % Strongly Disagree

Make your reservation for the next train to Hendersonville.

16. I support the blessing of civil unions (as
opposed to marriage) between gay and lesbian
persons in the Episcopal Church.
26 % Strongly Agree
19 % Somewhat Agree
8 % No Opinion
10 % Somewhat Disagree
37 % Strongly Disagree

That was close. Send Louie and +Gene down and see if they can straighten us out.

17. I support the ordination of partnered gay
and lesbian persons in the Episcopal Church.
21 % Strongly Agree
12 % Somewhat Agree
7 % No Opinion
12 % Somewhat Disagree
48 % Strongly Disagree

Uh oh, in that case, don't send +Gene.

18. I believe the Holy Scriptures of the Old and
New Testaments to be the Word of God, and to
contain all things necessary for salvation.

62 % Strongly Agree
24 % Somewhat Agree
4 % No Opinion
7 % Somewhat Disagree
3 % Strongly Disagree

Cool, an 86% pass rate.

19. Divisiveness in the wider Church is
beginning to cause problems in our diocese.
27 % Strongly Agree
42 % Somewhat Agree
16 % No Opinion
12 % Somewhat Disagree
3 % Strongly Disagree

The "All is well" tactic is not working in upper SC.

20. I believe the current problems within our
denomination should be resolved by reasonable
negotiation between and among the various
40 % Strongly Agree
39 % Somewhat Agree
8 % No Opinion
8 % Somewhat Disagree
5 % Strongly Disagree

Should be, but can they be resolved?

21. I support the marriage of gay and lesbian
persons in the Episcopal Church.
17 % Strongly Agree
11 % Somewhat Agree
7 % No Opinion
12 % Somewhat Disagree
53 % Strongly Disagree

Uh, oh... Katie ain't gonna like that.

22. All persons should be welcome to receive
Holy Communion regardless of whether or not
they have been baptized.
24 % Strongly Agree
17 % Somewhat Agree
6 % No Opinion
23 % Somewhat Disagree
30 % Strongly Disagree

Whoa... 41% might fall for open communion? Looks like a blog post is needed.

23. Gender is not an issue for me in the context
of ordination to the priesthood.
73 % Strongly Agree
14 % Somewhat Agree
3 % No Opinion
5 % Somewhat Disagree
5 % Strongly Disagree

Female clerics can rest assured.

24. Being divorced and remarried should be a
consideration in the selection of our next
16 % Strongly Agree
23 % Somewhat Agree
17 % No Opinion
19 % Somewhat Disagree
25 % Strongly Disagree

A big split on divorced Bishops. I guess we have not read 1 Timothy 3:1-13 have we?

25. I believe the Nicene Creed is a sufficient
statement of Christian faith.
59 % Strongly Agree
30 % Somewhat Agree
4 % No Opinion
5 % Somewhat Disagree
2 % Strongly Disagree


26. I accept the theology and doctrine found in
An Outline of Faith: The Catechism (Book of
Common Prayer, pp. 845-862).
63 % Strongly Agree
26 % Somewhat Agree
9 % No Opinion
2 % Somewhat Disagree
How can you have no opinion?

27. Our next bishop should always stand on
Christian principles, even if he stands alone.
70 % Strongly Agree
21 % Somewhat Agree
6 % No Opinion
2 % Somewhat Disagree
1 % Strongly Disagree
There is too much wriggle room in this question, what are Christian principles?

28. Our diocese needs leadership that is willing
to consider carrying out its ministry in a more
cost effective manner.
35 % Strongly Agree
40 % Somewhat Agree
20 % No Opinion
4 % Somewhat Disagree
1 % Strongly Disagree
How about stopping the cash drain to 815?

29. I feel parishes should have greater control
over the acquisition / disposition of their
31 % Strongly Agree
26 % Somewhat Agree
18 % No Opinion
13 % Somewhat Disagree
12 % Strongly Disagree

Uh oh... We could be in big trouble from David Booth Beers and company. I can hear them sharpening their pencils now.

30. I would like our next bishop to be a strong
preacher / orator, fully committed to evangelism
and outreach to the unchurched.
46 % Strongly Agree
39 % Somewhat Agree
9 % No Opinion
6 % Somewhat Disagree

Danger, danger, Will Robinson, the "E" word!

31. Our next bishop should understand and
support traditional liturgies as set forth in the
Book of Common Prayer.
66 % Strongly Agree
27 % Somewhat Agree
4 % No Opinion
3 % Somewhat Disagree
Thew Forrester+ need not apply.

32. It would be desirable for the next bishop to
make a tangible effort to bring the Gospel to the
issue of race relations in South Carolina.
38 % Strongly Agree
36 % Somewhat Agree
16 % No Opinion
6 % Somewhat Disagree
4 % Strongly Disagree

Jerimiah Wright need not apply.

33. Diocesan communications keep me
adequately informed as an Episcopalian.
24 % Strongly Agree
45 % Somewhat Agree
11 % No Opinion
15 % Somewhat Disagree
5 % Strongly Disagree
Count me in the 5%, "Crosswalk" is Pravda lite.

34. Our next bishop needs to commit time,
talent and treasure to re-energize the diocesan
commitment to the mission in Cange, Haiti, and
other outreach missions of our diocese.
29 % Strongly Agree
43 % Somewhat Agree
17 % No Opinion
9 % Somewhat Disagree
2 % Strongly Disagree

Way to go, but where's the dough?

35. Our diocese welcomes those of all races and
different national origins.
49 % Strongly Agree
37 % Somewhat Agree
6 % No Opinion
7 % Somewhat Disagree
1 % Strongly Disagree

So where are they?

36. Maintaining unity and focus on mission
within our diocese is important.
59 % Strongly Agree
35 % Somewhat Agree
3 % No Opinion
2 % Somewhat Disagree
1 % Strongly Disagree

Watch out people, that "focus on mission" might be interpreted as secular utopianism which can take away from spreading the Gospel.

People were asked to rank the five (5) Most Important Issues/Opportunities in this diocese:
Programs for children and youth 58.80 %
Programs that minister to multiple generations 48.72 %
Declining membership 48.13 %
Evangelism and outreach with sensitivity to our changing demographics 44.99 %
Recruiting, training, developing, ordaining and retaining clergy 43.46 %

People were asked to rank the five (5) Most Important Strengths/Characteristics of a new bishop:
Integrity 62.37 %
Deeply spiritual and prayerful 49.63 %
Possesses sound judgment and wisdom 48.51 %
Commitment to the traditional creeds of the Christian Church (e.g. Nicene Creed) 34.49 %
Compassionate 29.54 %

In summary, this pewster concludes that this is a conservative Diocese that with a little better leadership and education could become a shining light to the rest of the Church. Any takers out there?

Sunday, June 14, 2009

I've Looked at Both Sides

In today's sermon, the rector posed the question "What is the Kingdom of God." He posed this question because when Jesus spoke of the Kingdom, as He did in today's Gospel reading, he spoke in parables. Rather than expound on the parable of the mustard seed, the rector left us with the, "What does that mean?" question that the disciples were often left with. I suppose this leaves the parables as objets d'art, subject to individual interpretation. After listening to interpretations, people tend to take sides. This leads to conflict.

I thought, "What does lack of interpretation lead to?"

The rector then used the unfortunate example of the murder of the abortionist, Dr. Tiller, to make the point of the problems with "belief systems." Belief systems are considered a problem by James P. Carse the author of "The Religious Case Against Belief" which is being studied by the adult Sunday school class, so it is no surprise that some of his ideas might work their way into the Sunday sermon. It should also come as no surprise when the rector referred to the "good Dr. Tiller" during the course of the sermon, thus revealing a certain underlying belief system that the rector himself has fallen for.

We were then given a homework assignment which is to try to see where those with whom we disagree are coming from. IMO, this type of exercise is usually inflicted upon those on "the right" by those on "the left" in order to further the "leftward drift" of whatever particular subject is up for "discussion."

I see where you are coming from, and I ain't going to meet you there.

(Joni Mitchell 1970)
"Rows and floes of angel hair
And ice cream castles in the air
And feather canyons everywhere
I've looked at clouds that way

But now they only block the sun
They rain and snow on everyone
So many things I would have done
But clouds got in my way
I've looked at clouds from both sides now
From up and down, and still somehow
Its cloud illusions I recall
I really don't know clouds at all

Moons and Junes and Ferris wheels
The dizzy dancing way you feel
As every fairy tale comes real
I've looked at love that way

But now it's just another show
You leave em laughing when you go
And if you care, don't let them know
Don't give yourself away

I've looked at love from both sides now
From give and take, and still somehow
Its Love's illusions I recall
I really don't know Love at all

Tears and fears and feeling proud
To say I love you right out loud
Dreams and schemes and circus crowds
I've looked at life that way

But now old friends are acting strange
They shake their heads, they say I've changed
Well something's lost, but something's gained
In living every day

I've looked at life from both sides now
From win and lose and still somehow
Its life's illusions I recall
I really don't know life at all
I've looked at life from both sides now
From up and down, and still somehow
Its life's illusions I recall
I really don't know life at all"

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Born Again

(Ipomoea violacea or Morning Glory)

A kindly soul sent me a link to the Trinity Day sermon by retired Bishop Charles Duvall given at St. John's Episcopal Church in Columbia on 06/07/2009. The link should be good for the next couple of years, but if it should fail, contact their webmaster by clicking here.

If you have never heard Bishop Duvall's wonderful southern accent, you are in for either a real treat or a rude cultural shock.

You may listen to Bishop Duvall's sermon by clicking here. The sermon is 18 minutes in length, and try to listen uninterrupted. I had a long interruption and it would not reload (a Windows Media Player error popped up). I had to go to the St. John's web page and reload it from there!

I love the way he uses the story of Nicodemus to tie his sermon's beginning and ending together. Thank you Bishop Duvall.

Thank you fellow Christian for sending this to restore my spirit and to help me to once again rejoice in the glory of God.

This song came to mind after listening to the sermon. Call me crazy, but I know there is a little Trinitarian truth buried in it somewhere.

"In you love, I have all that
I need for
With your love I have all that
I need for
With our love we have all that
We need for
The Moody Blues "Survival" (Octave)

Tuesday, June 09, 2009


Blame Greg Griffith at SF for this, but I went ahead and got a Twitter account. You can find me as "Pewster." How come I am not surprised that the name was available?

Blame Baby Blue for using the twitterfeed feature on me which somehow works with Blogger. I will get her back for that; if I can figure out how to do the same to her!

Gotta go, workin on tomorrow's blog y'all.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Don't Mess With My Lorica

Today I am at a loss. A loss of hope, a loss of heritage, a loss of my breastplate, a loss for words. I didn't start the day off like this, but something happened during the course of the morning service at ECOOS to leave me with this hurt, empty feeling.

We started the service off with "St. Patrick's Breastplate or Lorica," Hymn 370, which got my heart pumping. Mind you, we did not sing the missing verses that Wallace Hartley posted back in March, but even the watered down version should have had everyone in a hopeful mood for "Trinity Sunday."

I recognized the warning signs of trouble when the rector began his sermon by explaining that he was going to go against 2000 years of thinking about how to talk about the Trinity. At least he is an out of the closet liberal. The ensuing sermon was too painful and confusing to recite, so I will present some personal impressions that are not direct quotations from the liberal diatribe our rector laid on me.

1. The doctrine of the Trinity was not explained. (Because we know that doctrines are bad and lead to narrow mindedness or worse.)

2. Christian thinkers, and those who have been called Christian over the centuries, have taken the Trinity as some sort of weapon into battle to subjugate other religions. (Never mind the notion that the Lorica of which we sang is a defense.)

3. The murderer of the abortionist is evidence of such misapplied fundamentalist theology. (I wonder what the abortionist was evidence of?)

4. Our great President Obama, in his Capitulation at Cairo speech, has shown that we should not speak openly of what we believe, this creedal Christianity, because we are the ones who kill.

4. History doesn't have much good to say about Christianity. (So why be one?)

5. Christians and muslims have killed in the name of God, and this needs to be pounded into my simple brain over and over.

6. I thought I was going to hear about the blessed Trinity today, and maybe learn something. Therefore, hope springs eternal just so it can be squashed.

7. I was left feeling like a Post-modernist Linus, but I will twist the cartoon character's words to read, "I love mankind, it's Christians I can't stand."

8. If today's sermon was intended to build up the body of Christ, it must have intended to do so by purging the the body of believers like me.

9. Days like this are necessary in order that I come up with new intercessory prayers.

Am I alone here? I watched in despair as a young Bible toting couple made a hasty departure after the sermon and before the Eucharist. Did they hear what I heard? Or did they have other business to attend to? Maybe they didn't read the sign, "Check your Bible at the door." If you see such a sign at your church, don't run away. Strap on your Lorica and go onward like a Christian soldier. You might get dashed, bashed, and bruised, but you will be protected from mortal wounds. Besides, you knew the job was dangerous when you took it.

Dear St. Patrick, pray for me...

"Against the demon snares of sin,
the vice that gives temptation force,
the natural lusts that war within,
the hostile men that mar my course;
of few or many, far or nigh,
in every place, and in all hours
against their fierce hostility,
I bind to me these holy powers.

Against all Satan's spells and wiles,
against false words of heresy,
against the knowledge that defiles
against the heart's idolatry,
against the wizard's evil craft,
against the death-wound and the burning
the choking wave and poisoned shaft,
protect me, Christ, till thy returning."
(the expurgated verses)

Friday, June 05, 2009

The Disconnected Clergy

Cruising home the other night from a downtown soiree, I decided to sail past the church. Slowing down in front of Lumpkin Hall, I was startled to see a shadowy figure obscure the light coming from the garth. I anchored, heart pounding, thinking there might be criminal activity. Thinking that this might be a trick of the light, I got out of my land yacht. Armed only with my wireless, and having 911 on speed dial, I crept forward. That is when I heard my name whispered in a dreadful aged tone, "Waaaalllllaccce." I knew at once this must be the elusive Deep Pew. Averting my gaze, I whispered back, "What are you doing here?" Pew made an unintelligible sound and I felt a grizzled hand thrusting papers into my hand. "Look...for...the...disconnect...Go...Now," Pew croaked.

I quickly backed away. Placing myself and the documents into my vessel, a plotted a course for the nearest well lit safe harbor, the parking lot at Bojangles. Glancing over the papers I had been given, I was amazed to find that I had come into possession of the long awaited results of the survey of the members and clergy of the Episcopal Diocese of Upper South Carolina. What did Deep Pew mean by "disconnect?" I am hardly qualified to do a statistical analysis, but as I looked at the survey responses, I wondered if there might be a disconnect between the clergy responses and the responses of the Laity on certain touchy issues. This frightening thought troubled me as I sailed home. Is there a problem here? How can we solve a problem like this? Maybe the clergy will be asking the same question. I could almost hear them singing,

How Do You Solve a Problem Like the Laity?

They arrive at church and bend their knees
Their joints show years of wear
They stagger on their way to Mass
And sometimes miss the stair
Underneath their simple look and blank stare
I even hear them thinking in the nave.

They’re always late for the procession,
And their countenance is dour
They’re always late for meetings
Except for coffee hour.
I hate to have to say it,
But I don't know what to do,
They didn't teach us this in seminary.

I'd like to say a word in their behalf
The Laity makes me laugh.

How do you solve a problem like the Laity?
How do you quiet them and lull them to sleep?
How do you find a word that means the Laity?
The fussbudgets! The congo! The Sheep!

Many a thing we know we'd like to tell them
Many a thing to get them more confused
But how do we make them stay,
And listen to our liberal ways
How do we keep them silent in the pews?

Oh, how do you solve a problem like the Laity?
How do you hold the God fearing in your hand?

When we’re with them we’re confused
Out of focus and bemused,
And we never know exactly where we stand
Adding fire to the fuel
They’re as stubborn as a mule.
They’re darling! They’re conservative! They are lambs!

They’ll outpester any pest,
Focus on the Word and ignore the rest.
They could throw an apostate priest a country mile.
They’re gentle! They are wild!
They’re a riddle! They are mild!
They’re a headache! They are angels!
They’re a trial!

How do you solve a problem like the Laity?
How do you calmly lull them all to sleep?
How do you find a word that means the Laity?
The fussbudgets! The congo! The Sheep!

Many a thing we know we'd like to tell them
Many a thing to get them more confused,
But how do we make them stay
And listen to our liberal ways
How do we keep them silent in the pews?

Oh, how do you solve a problem like the Laity?
How do you hold the God fearing in your hand?

H/t Rodgers and Hammerstein

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

A DIE-C Acronym

Pre-note: This post was composed before the latest sickening statements came from the new President of the Episcopal Divinity School. I warn you, it is as one commenter said at SF, "sick, sick, SICK, SICK SICK!!!!!" I apologize for merging two apparently disparate threads, but I just cannot, I cannot let it go tonight. For the time being I would ask readers, after they have linked to the above article which I refuse to reprint, for new suggestions for the meaning of the acronym suggested below:

If the Presiding Bishop's plans go through, the Episcopal Church might need to change its name. Once known as ECUSA, then as TEC, I predict we will be called DIE-C or "Decentralized International Episcopal Church." My reasons come from a recent post by Anglicat where she details some of what she learned from the Presiding Bishop of DIE-C's visit to Minnesota.

"During last week's meeting with Minnesota's Episcopal clergy, Presiding Bishop Katharine Schori said she is trying not to use the term 'National Church' any more. She enumerated the offshore members of TEC, including Puerto Rico, Taiwan, Honduras, Ecuador, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, and six countries in Europe. She mentioned the relocation of ministries formerly centered in New York to regional offices around the country, such as Episcopal Migration Ministries to Florida and Ecumenical Affairs, Stewardship, and Ministry in Daily life to Omaha. 'It seemed important to spread staff around the be more present,' Schori explained."

Perhaps there are unmentioned economic reasons to move staff from New York, but could there be political machinations going on as well?

The argument that it is done "to be more present" should put up a warning flag to those communities about to be invaded by dyed in the wool Politburo members. That may be a "presence" you don't want in your back yard.

As a post script I will add my comment to the SF post on the latest insult the Episcopal Church,

Dear Mr. Wormwood,

I started the day off by remembering the martyrs of Lyons. This has inoculated me against your efforts of today. I will not allow the Katherine Ragsdales of the world to distort the meaning of sainthood or martyrdom. Try something else, I am sure that you will.


This church is beyond DIE-C meaning "Decentralized International Episcopal Church."

Please join with me in prayer.

Lord have mercy upon us. May the souls in the pews awaken to see the open support of murder of the unborn espoused by their Church, and funded by their money. Lord please help open the ears, minds, hearts, and souls of the future priests of the Church to the cries of Your holy innocents. Lord, we admit our powerlessness in swaying the hardened hearts of those in positions of leadership of Your people. Use Your power to change the hearts of those wearing Your collars of ordination so that they might place their whole trust in You. I pray in the memory of the Blessed Mary who bore You in spite of the shame and scorn and "inconvienience," and grant that I pray in the name of Christ our Lord and Redeemer.