Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Greenville South Carolina Episcopalians to conduct a "MeToo-charist", but what about Mary?

St. Peter’s Episcopal in Greenville SC boasts that it has a mix of theologically conservative and progressive parishioners. Its rector is one of the latter. They recently came out with a theological innovation, a "MeToo-charist".

This is the invitation I received,
on Sunday, December16, 2018 at 4:00 p.m. You are invited to come and welcome others for who this might be a helpful experience of support and grace. A little more than a year ago #MeToo became an expression of solidarity among the victims of sexual assault and violence. The speaking out by a small and growing number of victims of sexual trespass by celebrities began to embolden others who live with the pain and—often—shame of having been violated in intimate ways. What started with a few voices grew into a chorus of people who said, “Me too.” The highly respected Centers for Disease Control—the U.S. federal government agency responsible for public health—estimates that one in three women has suffered contact sexual violence at some point in their lives (and one in six men). If this were an infectious disease, it would be described not just as an epidemic, but as a pandemic—because of its widespread effects.In the midst of such a widespread, debilitating, and preventable dis-ease; the Church has an important role to stand up and speak out with those who have suffered or are suffering now.Following in the way of Jesus, the Church is called to align with the vulnerable and to firmly reject behaviors that are evil.Please join us as we listen to what God’s Spirit is saying to us through the ancient Scriptures and contemporary voices. Include your voice in our prayers for healing, justice, and peace. And gather with us around the Lord’s Table to receive solace and strength from the Holy Communion. 
I don't know if they will be using an approved liturgy for this "MeToo-charist" or if the Bishop has given his blessing, but this appears to me to be an attempt to politicize the Eucharist by connecting it to a movement that had its most prominent rallies immediately following the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States, rallies like the "Women's March" which were in large part protests against him. This loose movement has led to societal confusion as to what is or is not appropriate in male-female interaction. Witness the recent condemnation of old songs like "Baby It's Cold Outside" while rap singers retain their celebrity status.

Every year some nutcase comes out with an anti-Christmas accusation, and this year we have one who connects the Virgin Mother with the MeToo movement. The following is from "Campus Reform",

Minnesota State University, Mankato psychology professor and sex therapist Dr. Eric Sprankle critiqued the story of the Virgin Mary in a tweet Monday, suggesting that the Virgin Mary did not consent to being impregnated by God.
“The virgin birth story is about an all-knowing, all-powerful deity impregnating a human teen. There is no definition of consent that would include that scenario. Happy Holidays"    Tweet This
“The virgin birth story is about an all-knowing, all-powerful deity impregnating a human teen. There is no definition of consent that would include that scenario. Happy Holidays,” Sprankle said.
Another Twitter user called the professor’s claim into question, noting that the Bible states that the Virgin Mary did, indeed, agree to God’s plan for her.
“The biblical god regularly punished disobedience,” Sprankle rebutted. “The power difference (deity vs mortal) and the potential for violence for saying ‘no’ negates her ‘yes.’ To put someone in this position is an unethical abuse of power at best and grossly predatory at worst.”

 I wonder if the clergy at St. Peter's Greenville will be wearing pink pussy hats and a statue of Mary similarly adorned as they enter in procession as a show of solidarity with those who fit the ever expanding definition of being a victim of sexual trespass.

Sunday, December 09, 2018

Every Valley Shall Not Be Filled, (If the environmentalists have anything to say about it).

This Sunday's Gospel reading is from Luke 3:1-6,
In the fifteenth year of the reign of Emperor Tiberius, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was ruler of Galilee, and his brother Philip ruler of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias ruler of Abilene, during the high-priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the wilderness. He went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, as it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah,
‘The voice of one crying out in the wilderness:“Prepare the way of the Lord,   make his paths straight. Every valley shall be filled,   and every mountain and hill shall be made low,and the crooked shall be made straight,   and the rough ways made smooth; and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.” 

Handel's "Messiah" is drawn from scripture, and this reading made me think of Handel's setting of "Every valley shall be exalted..."

Nowadays, the environmentalists would probably try to keep even the Lord from filling the valleys and leveling the hills. 

Wednesday, December 05, 2018

Lobsters and the Episcopal sect

In a story that went unnoticed last year, PETA raised a stink when it was revealed that Episcopal parishes were hosting lobster dinners, as reported in the Washington Post,

PETA staff noticed a pattern of lobster dinners as church fundraisers, and decided to look into it. They identified 28 Episcopal congregations advertising lobster fundraisers in more than 10 different states.

The PETA staffers looked into how many lobsters each church cooks at a fundraiser and got answers ranging from 75 to 2,000. In total, PETA said Episcopal churches kill well over 10,000 lobsters a year, a total that could not be verified by The Post.
It’s evident, however, that the number is high — St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church in Greenville, N.C., for instance, boasts on its website that its annual fundraiser has sold more than 65,000 lobsters since 1978. “Put in perspective, we’ve sold around 40 tons of lobsters, or the equivalent of a couple of school buses,” the website says, with accompanying jovial clip art of buses. (Lobsters at St. Timothy’s cost $16 each, and children can also enjoy a bouncy house and a hay ride.)...

...At St. Christopher’s Episcopal Church in Springfield, Va., the Rev. Peter Ackerman said that his church would continue its lobster dinner, but “PETA raises a thoughtful point. I have shared this with our church board in the hopes that we can respond in a way that keeps the annual celebratory dinner gathering intact but also brings forth our awareness and sensitivity to how we interact with God’s creatures.” That sort of reflection, he said, would be in line with the church’s social action activities like offering free physicals and school supplies to local children.

I have been waiting to see a response to PETA's request from the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal sect, but I have not found one yet.

This weekend, if weather permits, our local Anglican church is planning on having an oyster roast. This is not a fundraiser, it is a fun raiser. I asked my vegetarian friends if they could eat oysters, and they said that if it could walk, fly, or swim, they would not eat it. I explained that oysters just sit there, attached to an oyster bed. Their larval form swims a little and moves a little with a foot, but the adult that we eat just sits there. My vegetarian friends concluded that they could not eat oysters.

I have not heard about PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) protesting oyster roasts, but they have taken on the more ambulatory lobster as a pet project, "rescuing" these creatures from restaurants and supermarkets and protesting lobster dinners.

I will keep a watchful eye out for the PETA police this weekend to see of they will try tackle the mighty oyster roaster of our local Anglican church.

Good luck with that!

Sunday, December 02, 2018

How to Escape the Apocalypse

This Sunday's Gospel reading is from Luke 21:25-36,
‘There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on the earth distress among nations confused by the roaring of the sea and the waves. People will faint from fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see “the Son of Man coming in a cloud” with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to take place, stand up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.’Then he told them a parable: ‘Look at the fig tree and all the trees; as soon as they sprout leaves you can see for yourselves and know that summer is already near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near. Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all things have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.‘Be on guard so that your hearts are not weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of this life, and that day does not catch you unexpectedly, like a trap. For it will come upon all who live on the face of the whole earth. Be alert at all times, praying that you may have the strength to escape all these things that will take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.’
That last sentence drew my attention,
 " have the strength to escape all these things... and to stand before the Son of Man."
 If Jesus was talking about a global apocalypse, then I would not expect there to be any chance of a physical escape. The only escape from that kind of event is to pray that Jesus will carry you away.

Whatever the case, the apocalypse will demand great strength, prayer, and an almighty Savior.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Good News and Bad News: Number of abortions in U.S. hits historic low

The good news is the number of abortions in the U.S. hit a historic low, 
The Washington Post (11/21, Cha) reported new figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicate that “fewer U.S. women are having abortions than at any time since Roe v. Wade.” For the most recent year for which data is available, 2015, 638,169 abortions were recorded, down two percent from 2014. The Post added, “While the CDC paper did not delve into the reasons for the decline, analysts have cited improved access to birth control, which has led to a decrease in unintended pregnancies, especially among teens, as well as the state laws regarding parental consent, waiting periods and other conditions that make it more difficult for women to get abortions.”
The bad news is that 638,169 precious souls never lived long enough to see the light of day.

Contrast this with the "homicide" statistics for 2016 compiled by the CDC,
All homicides: 19,362 
Firearm homicides: 14,415
We hear a lot on the news and from the mouths of bishops and other politicians about "gun violence" but nary a word about the horrors of abortion violence. "Let's ban guns, but don't you dare try to restrict abortion."

When learning how to set up a budget for a business, I was always taught to focus on the most costly items first.

Don't hold your breath waiting for progressive bishops to do that.

Yes we see lower numbers of infant homicides, but it remains a huge plank in our nation's eye.

The stories I checked all searched for answers as to why the numbers declined but nowhere did I find a religious explanation. I have to think that continued resistance from conservative religious groups is a contributing factor. They have not rolled over on this issue.

Christians need to continue to fight for life and continue to be the voice for the unborn.  

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Listen to His Voice

This Sunday's Gospel reading is from John 18:33-37 in which Pilate interrogates Jesus,

Then Pilate entered the headquarters again, summoned Jesus, and asked him, ‘Are you the King of the Jews?’ Jesus answered, ‘Do you ask this on your own, or did others tell you about me?’ Pilate replied, ‘I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests have handed you over to me. What have you done?’ Jesus answered, ‘My kingdom is not from this world. If my kingdom were from this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here.’ Pilate asked him, ‘So you are a king?’ Jesus answered, ‘You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.’
Pilate is  puzzled by Jesus' response. It would be as if we had asked someone where they were from and they said, "I am from planet Zorgon, fifth planet of the star Muphrid A. Christ's kingdom is not of this world no matter how much we desire it to be. Try as we might, we cannot recreate his kingdom on the Earth. We shall have to wait until Jesus returns.

Most people, like Pilate, will not understand Jesus' voice either if He were speaking to them directly or when He speaks to us through the Gospels.

It would be wise to listen to His voice and "belong to the truth". 

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Late Episcopal Bishop: Did he prey on young priests or was he just "a sexually active gay man who lived in an era of unfortunate boundaries."

The Roman Catholic Church has been reeling from revelations of predatory priests and homosexual activities in their seminaries. When I was a child, growing up in a heavily Roman Catholic city, we learned early on to never, never, never be alone with a Catholic priest because we all "knew" what happened to little boys and altar boys who weren't careful, and this was in the 60's. Back then, Episcopalians used to say that our Church was immune from those problems because our priests could be married (to women), and that if the Roman Catholics would simply allow their priests to marry, all of their problems would go away.

The story of the late Episcopal Bishop of New York, Paul Moore Jr., being a promiscuous bisexual has been bouncing around for the past ten years , but it recently resurfaced with new allegations of his predatory behavior towards young priests and others in this story from The Salt Lake Tribune. His story shoots our childish Episcopalian theory down in rainbow colored flames,

...the scope of Moore's abusive sexual misconduct has become known only this year, notably at a Catskill Mountains retreat in the spring attended by clergy from the New York diocese.At one session, participants were invited to share stories about difficulties they faced in their ministries. Among those at the event was the Rev. Alison Quin, rector of Christ the King Episcopal Church in Stone Ridge, New York.As recounted by Quin in a May 6 sermon, one female priest arose to denounce Moore as a serial exploiter who had affairs with many young priests and lay people. Quin said a male priest in his 60s came next, saying, "I was one of Paul Moore's boys — he seduced me when I was a new priest. It nearly ruined my life."
Obviously, sexual deviancy is not confined to supposedly celibate Roman Catholic priests.

Meanwhile, the late Bishop's daughter had an interesting rationalization to offer for her father's sins,
Honor Moore (the Bishop's daughter), in an interview, said she was dismayed that her father was the only person named in (Bishop) Dietsche's letter and objected to the label "sexual predator." 
"It doesn't seem like a fair term," she said. "He was a sexually active gay man who lived in an era of unfortunate boundaries."
All I can say is, "Wow."

With that kind of reasoning, what should we say about today's priests and bishops, be they Roman Catholic, Episcopalian, or pick your denomination? Are they fortunate gay men and women who live in an era of virtually no boundaries except for those defined by the "#MeToo" movement?

Nowhere in all of these reports from clergy and letters from bishops do you hear the words of Jesus calling us out for our post-fall problems with human sexuality, reminding us of what we should aspire to,
“Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” Matthew 19:4-6
 Churches need to get rid of the perps, but we live in new era of unfortunate boundaries where what used to be called sinful behavior is now celebrated and even elevated to a rite in many denominations, an era in which those most prone to predatory sexual behavior are welcome into the priesthood, to eventually become the next generation of predatory bishops. There is no way to totally eliminate the problem, but to minimize it at this point would require a purge on an unimaginable scale of those whose clerical robes are covering up their sexual deviancy.

It seems far easier to flee these failing institutions in order to try to create a new system of governance that will be able to tackle the inevitable occurrences of sexual misconduct that will be found in a fallen people.