Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Progressive Intolerance

Having experienced the intolerance of "progressives" in the form of comments submitted to this site by assorted trolls, comments that I typically do not publish because that just encourages the trolls, the rest of the world has not yet caught on to this phenomenon as examples of intolerance seem to be increasing.

From Public Discourse the following is by Dr. Rachel Lu. She has published in The Week, America Magazine, National Review, The American Conservative, and other publications. She has a PhD in philosophy from Cornell University, and is a Robert Novak Journalism Fellow. She tries to make an analogy between pagans and Christians in the modern world, and in the course of her exposition she exposes the naked truth that the ultimate goal of progressive ideology is to remove Christianity from the public square.
"Flashing ahead several centuries, consider contemporary progressives and their reactions to Judeo-Christian faith. Overwhelmingly, progressives regard themselves as a tolerant group of people. Yet it often seems reasonable to them to take drastic steps to curb “microaggressions” or combat the “dignitary harm” that religious traditionalists ostensibly do to others by retaining longstanding moral views. Increasingly, progressives want public spaces to be “safe spaces” where they do not have to encounter upsetting ideas (which often just means Judeo-Christian ideas). Also, like ancient pagans, they are enormously concerned about sex. Religious traditionalists are frequently charged with being “on the wrong side of history” simply for maintaining Judeo-Christian sexual mores."
"Traditionalists often observe, reasonably enough, that this is a very intolerant-seeming brand of tolerance. Looking through the lens of the ancient conflict between “immanent” (pagan) and “transcendent” (Christian) spirituality, we can add some nuance to that complaint. Progressives do embrace a kind of cosmopolitan ideal, within certain boundaries. They are prepared to sanction a fairly wide range of beliefs, preferences, and lifestyle choices, just as long as certain “sacred” lines are not crossed. They can have genuine curiosity about global cultures, cuisines, and customs, and are sometimes very interested in history, high culture, or the arts. That broad-mindedness, though, finds its limit when it encounters its ancient Christian rival. Orthodox Christianity is seen as authoritarian, inflexible, and joyless. Progressive cosmopolitanism, like its Roman forebear, has its limits. Transcendent religion is deeply in tension with the social vision of our progressive neo-pagans. That is why, in the eyes of many, Christians must be converted, or else marginalized to the point where they can pose no real threat."
If conversion or marginalization is the case, blog sites such as this will probably eventually be silenced by either threats of litigation, by "hate speech" laws, or by fiat.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

What's Your Favorite Bible Passage?

Once as part of an interview, I was asked what my favorite Bible passages were. I had never given it any thought before that time, but immediately the Beatitudes came to mind followed by the 23rd Psalm. This Sunday, the Beatitudes will be heard in many churches,
He came down with them and stood on a level place, with a great crowd of his disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea, Jerusalem, and the coast of Tyre and Sidon. They had come to hear him and to be healed of their diseases; and those who were troubled with unclean spirits were cured. And all in the crowd were trying to touch him, for power came out from him and healed all of them. Then he looked up at his disciples and said:‘Blessed are you who are poor,   for yours is the kingdom of God. ‘Blessed are you who are hungry now,   for you will be filled.‘Blessed are you who weep now,   for you will laugh. ‘Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you, revile you, and defame you* on account of the Son of Man. Rejoice on that day and leap for joy, for surely your reward is great in heaven; for that is what their ancestors did to the prophets. ‘But woe to you who are rich,   for you have received your consolation. ‘Woe to you who are full now,   for you will be hungry.‘Woe to you who are laughing now,   for you will mourn and weep. ‘Woe to you when all speak well of you, for that is what their ancestors did to the false prophets. Luke 6:17-26
It is interesting that the "woe to you" bits at the end are included in the lectionary selection for Sunday. Usually those parts get the ax.

So, what us your favorite Bible verse?

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Do Episcopalians want us to support torture too?

One of the many problems with the Episcopal sect is their unwavering support for abortion. Now it appears that they want us to support torture as well.

In a recent appeal, the Episcopal Policy Network (aka official Episcopal lobbyists), asked Episcopalians to call upon Congress to "change" the the Anti-Terrorism Clarification Act of 2018 (ATCA). Here is their plea,

"In 2018, Congress passed the Anti-Terrorism Clarification Act (ATCA), which updated several elements of the Anti-Terrorism Act. One consequence of this legislation is that it is preventing Palestinians from receiving U.S. government assistance, including humanitarian aid. We must urge Congress to find a solution so that the Palestinian people can continue to receive life-saving assistance!The U.S. provides critical humanitarian support to the Palestinian people through a variety of funding mechanisms, including NGOs and civil society organizations, as well as in partnership with the Palestinian Authority. As a result of ATCA, those organizations will no longer receive U.S. funds, despite the dire humanitarian needs. The East Jerusalem Hospital Network - including the St. John Eye Hospital, the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem's Princess Basma Rehabilitation Centre, and the Lutheran Augusta Victoria Hospital - are still suffering from the effects of last year's cuts, and they will not be able to continue to provide life-saving care unless funding resumes. NGOs such as Catholic Relief Services have been forced to close offices and stop providing services such as food assistance. ATCA has also resulted in the end of security assistance funding for Palestinians, which is of great to concern to Israeli and Palestinian security.
Congress must find a way for humanitarian aid to reach the Palestinians again; reach out to Congress, and ask them to make this change!"
Their argument is that some of our tax dollars (they believe) goes for "humanitarian" aid.

Human Rights Watch, knows what our money really goes to support, torture.
"The primary security agencies implicated in the abuses documented in this report include Hamas’ Internal Security and the PA’s Preventive Security, Intelligence Services, and Joint Security Committee. PA security forces operate with significant support from the United States and Europe and in coordination with the Israeli army. Hamas receives financial aid from Iran, Qatar, and Turkey...
Human Rights Watch’s investigation based on 147 interviews further indicates that the mistreatment and torture of those in Palestinian custody is routine, in particular in Hamas’ Internal Security custody in Gaza and in the PA’s Intelligence, Preventive Security, and Joint Security Committee detention facilities in Jericho. The habitual, deliberate, widely known use of torture, using similar tactics over years with no action taken by senior officials in either authority to stop these abuses, make these practices systematic. They also indicate that torture is governmental policy for both the PA and Hamas."
While the Anti-Terrorism Clarification Act may have some issues regarding Israel's border security that need to be fixed, restoring funding for torture groups should not be the solution.

This is not the first time anti-Israeli actions have been sought by Episcopalians. The Simon Wiesenthal Center had this to say about last year's Episcopal General Convention during which there was a resolution put forward to divest in all things Israel,
“Further, Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, pushed for his church to take a new, anti-Israel position, with more than a dozen resolutions hostile to Israel tabled, leading Bishop Eugene Taylor Sutton from Maryland to decry the ‘piling on’ Israel, and asking, ‘Why the fixation on Israel?’
We applaud the efforts of some valiant voices to restore some balance, but they were too few. We also recognize that – contrary to the claims of BDS activists – TEC voted against divestment, and in favor of continuing its previous policy of select investment. But the new direction of the church was unmistakable.
'The hatred of Israel by many in this church is so severe, that a measure that would have reintroduced medieval Replacement Theology was defeated only by the slimmest of margins,' added Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein, the Center’s director of interfaith affairs. 'It was only a confused last-minute about-face that stopped the church from removing the word ‘Israel’ from a Eucharistic prayer, and replacing it with ‘all nations’ or ‘our ancestors in faith,’ thereby rewriting the Bible. This is a sad indicator of the deep hostility to Israel in evidence at General Convention.'”
Sad indeed. 

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Hear The Call, The Complete Call

This Sunday's lectionary readings contain several messages about how God calls us.

In Luke 5:1-11 Jesus calls to Simon,
"Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching people." 
In 1 Corinthians 15:1-11 Paul calls the Church to remember the truth of the Resurrection, 
"For I handed on to you as of first importance what I in turn had received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to someone untimely born, he appeared also to me."

With Isaiah 6:1-8,(9-13) a church has the option of hearing part of God's call to Isaiah or the complete call. Guess which option most Episcopal congregations will hear (I would love to conduct a survey to see the percentage breakdown)?
In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lofty; and the hem of his robe filled the temple. 2 Seraphs were in attendance above him; each had six wings: with two they covered their faces, and with two they covered their feet, and with two they flew. 3 And one called to another and said:‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts;the whole earth is full of his glory.’4 The pivots* on the thresholds shook at the voices of those who called, and the house filled with smoke. 5 And I said: ‘Woe is me! I am lost, for I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips; yet my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!’6 Then one of the seraphs flew to me, holding a live coal that had been taken from the altar with a pair of tongs. 7 The seraph* touched my mouth with it and said: ‘Now that this has touched your lips, your guilt has departed and your sin is blotted out.’ 8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?’ And I said, ‘Here am I; send me!’ 
I suspect that is all most Episcopalians will hear of Isaiah's calling because what God commands him to do is so negative, and what God is about to do to the people is so terrible that modern ears must not be allowed to hear those words on an otherwise pleasant Sunday morning,
9 And he said, ‘Go and say to this people:“Keep listening, but do not comprehend;keep looking, but do not understand.”10 Make the mind of this people dull,   and stop their ears,   and shut their eyes,so that they may not look with their eyes,   and listen with their ears,and comprehend with their minds,   and turn and be healed.’11 Then I said, ‘How long, O Lord?’ And he said:‘Until cities lie waste   without inhabitant,and houses without people,   and the land is utterly desolate;12 until the Lord sends everyone far away,   and vast is the emptiness in the midst of the land.13 Even if a tenth part remains in it,   it will be burned again,like a terebinth or an oak   whose stump remains standing   when it is felled.’*The holy seed is its stump.
Oh dear, I would guess that 95% of Episcopalians won't get to hear that last bit.

Don't worry, be happy, all is well...

Wednesday, February 06, 2019

Small Churches, Big Debts

Last year I reported on the problems Trinity Abbeville in the Diocese of Upper South Carolina was having with being a tiny congregation in a decaying historic church building. In this update you will find the unique way they hope to pay for the renovation. They will lease the place to a preservation society for the next five years.

The following illustrates the trouble they are in.

With only 28 active members (based on average Sunday attendance), and needing 2.3 million dollars in additional funds for the renovation, each member would have to pony up $82,000, which is more than the total Plate/Pledge the entire congregation gives each year. The renovation is not going to happen without outside help, so the priest called for a "community effort" saying that that the church "belongs to the community".

Multiply this small congregation's mess by several thousand similar churches nationwide and you can start to paint a picture of the issues The Episcopal Organization will face over the next several decades as its membership numbers continue to decline.

Taking a look just at Upper South Carolina, we see that out of 59 parishes, 23 (38%)  have an average Sunday attendance (ASA) of 50 or less. 14 have an ASA of 30 or less (data from 2015, source: The Episcopal Organization's Statistics Pages).

The Post and Courier provides us with the update,
"Last year, Preservation South Carolina put Trinity on its list of eight “at risk” South Carolina historic sites. Now, the nonprofit hopes to help Trinity’s congregation save the building through a partnership with the Episcopal Diocese of Upper South Carolina."
Question: Why does the Episcopal Diocese of Upper South Carolina (EDUSC), who under the Dennis Canon purportedly  owns all church buildings and properties, need outside help in maintaining their historic structures?

Answer: Because the EDUSC can't afford to either.
"Restoring Trinity will be the first project for the preservation group’s Sacred Spaces program, an effort to protect at-risk sanctuaries across the state."
The first, but not the last. Look for other at risk Episcopal parishes to try to test Preservation South Carolina's generosity.
"Reverend Deacon d’Rue Hazel of the Episcopal Diocese of Upper South Carolina sees Trinity’s restoration as a potential model for other parishes struggling to preserve their valuable, but complex, structures.
'This goes well beyond bricks and mortar,' said Hazel."
 So the building you let fall into disrepair will get a temporary reprieve, but who is going to pay for the ongoing maintenance and upkeep? What will bring back the congregants? Not the current teachings of revisionist bishops, priests, and deacons.

This does go well beyond bricks and mortar. It goes right to the heart of the cause for the spiritual decline of the Episcopal organization and the EDUSC. Episcopalian Bishops, priests, and deacons have walked away from their first love, Jesus Christ. That love they only found because His message had been preserved by the apostles and handed down to them via the Bible, a Bible that they have rejected through their abandonment of its teachings on human sexuality and marriage.

So let the renovations begin, but let them begin first in our hearts.

Turn back oh man, forswear your foolish ways.

Sunday, February 03, 2019

How Babies Are First Conceived

This Sunday's O.T. reading from the prophet Jeremiah coincided with the horrors we witnessed earlier in the week as New Yorkers celebrated abortion, now legalized up until birth. In particular, the first three lines of the prophet's quotation of the Lord's words to him sure hit home for me.
Jeremiah 1:4-10 
"Now the word of the Lord came to me saying,‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,and before you were born I consecrated you;I appointed you a prophet to the nations.’Then I said, ‘Ah, Lord God! Truly I do not know how to speak, for I am only a boy.’ But the Lord said to me,‘Do not say, “I am only a boy”;for you shall go to all to whom I send you,and you shall speak whatever I command you.Do not be afraid of them,for I am with you to deliver you,
says the Lord.’Then the Lord put out his hand and touched my mouth; and the Lord said to me,‘Now I have put my words in your mouth.See, today I appoint you over nations and over kingdoms,to pluck up and to pull down,to destroy and to overthrow,to build and to plant.’"
God conceives of us before we are formed in the womb. The word of the Lord is that He is the one who forms us in the womb as well. We are God's creation before, during, and after the natural processes involved in our making.

To destroy what God has conceived and brought to life is murder, it is a horror, it is a stain upon our nation, and it is evidence that we are fallen creatures in desperate need of a Savior to spare us from God's righteous wrath which otherwise would be certain to come down on us.

Let us pray,

Lord have mercy upon us,
Christ have mercy upon us,
Lord have mercy upon us.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Louisiana Episcopal parish to hang yellow penalty flags this Sunday for the social injustice done to their Saints

If you don't follow football, you won't understand this, but to bring you up to speed, the New Orleans Saints football team recently lost  was cheated out of the NFC Championship game by four referees from Southern California, one from the same county where the winning team, the Los Angeles Rams, hail from.

Saints fans and the nation, with the exception of Southern California, are outraged. Some have gone so far as to sue the NFL. United States Senator Bill Cassidy, who I happened to mentor once upon a time decades ago, stood up in the Senate and called for justice.

What else can you do?


Darn Gantt at "Pro Football Talk" posted this recently,

"Saints fans can turn to the Lord with their prayers for better officiating"
If the NFL isn’t going to throw a flag, Christ Episcopal Church will.
One of my relatives was a member of that parish in the past.
"Via Kim Chatelain of the New Orleans Times-Picayune comes the latest installment in Saints fans finding a way to vent their anger and process the grief of being jammed out of a trip to the Super Bowl.
Rev. Bill Miller, the rector of Christ Episcopal in nearby Covington, is doing his part to help distraught fans channel their feelings in a more productive way during services Sunday.
'Folks will be encouraged to wear black and gold,' Miller said. 'And we will distribute yellow penalty flags during the service but will turn them into prayer flags on which they can write an injustice or a challenge they wish to change, or work toward changing.'”
I wonder how many will write down the injustice the Saints endured two weeks ago. I don't think anyone will write down the injustice done to the churches of the Diocese of South Carolina by the Episcopal organization.
"After the service, fans can leave to the tune of 'When the Saints Go Marchin’ In' and hang the symbolic flags on prayer lines outside the church.
'It’s really important that Saints fans take the high road and not stay stuck in the unhelpful place of anger and frustration,' Miller said.
If any good comes out of reminding his parishoners to focus their attention on solving a societal problem rather than griping about a football game, then that can only help."
Oh no, the social justice mantra. They should be hanging up rainbow colored flags instead because that is what that mantra always leads to.
"And if the gimmick helps goose attendance during the lull between Christmas and Easter for the non-regulars, that’s fine too."
That parish already has pretty good attendance. As their annual report attests they are "an anomaly" in that they have grown (except for taking a step back last year). Perhaps they are doing well because they claim to be,
"a sacramental and altar-focused community, biblically centered, and mission-driven. We are called to proclaim the good news of God in Christ". 
Indeed, I find nothing on their web page to suggest they would hang the rainbow flag.

Good luck to them. They'll need it because the name of the game in the Episcopal sect is, play by the rules of the progressive agenda or else you will, like the New Orleans Saints, lose everything.