Sunday, July 27, 2008


Today we were treated to sweet sounds from many directions. Bryan McGill gave a fine performance on the Euphonium, Charlie gave a short sermon, the youth gave a presentation on their mission trip, Charlie gave an additional sermonette on the love-in at Lambeth, and the congregation sang an offertory anthem that was sung by the Bishops attending Lambeth. We were also treated to another bulletin insert describing the Lambeth Conference (read it here), this one printed on lovely pink paper. Never mind that this one was intended for June 29.

Repeat after me, "All is well, all is well..."

It is too early to come to any conclusions, but it should come as no surprise that the Lambeth Conference will not be particularly newsworthy. This is all by design as the bulletin insert tells us,
"...the 2008 Lambeth Conference should not be focused on reports that nobody reads and resolutions that nobody pays attention to unless they are used to divide us one from another."

Oops, some mean spiritedness sneaked into the bulletin insert.

Also a little dig here,
"Those who are looking to Lambeth as an arbitrator of all things Anglican will not be pleased with the new design of the Lambeth Conference."

Nyahhh, nyahh...
With all this love and affection, why does the press hover about like vultures waiting to feed on a dying animal? The press has a sense that something is wrong with the Anglican Communion. They can smell the decay and are hoping to get a headline grabbing picture. Ignore them. We in the pews should listen only to the euphonics. Don't listen to anyone telling you that Lambeth 2008 is a big cover up for the difficult to resolve problems of how we can live in Christian fellowship while proclaiming wildly different gospel messages. Expect more sweet sounds to fill your ears in the next weeks. All is going according to plan. The end result of Lambeth 2008 as far as the Episcopal Church USA is concerned had already been written once the format was announced. The natives will be lulled to sleep, and then we can really pull the wool over their eyes at General Convention 2009 by using the same technique of Indaba groups and agenda control. Oh, there I go again assuming some evil purpose...

Picture fromThe Register

I can hear the Dark Lord now,
"All is well. The liberal agenda can proceed as planned young Pew-walker. After all, you will not hear anything at Lambeth 2008 to change your destiny."

"No newis is bettir than evill newis."
(King James I, 1616)

And of course, the lectionary helped us to hear no evil by omitting the devilish part from the following verses from Matthew 13:34-40.5,
34 "Jesus told the crowds all these things in parables; without a parable he told them nothing. 35 This was to fulfill what had been spoken through the prophet:*
‘I will open my mouth to speak in parables;
I will proclaim what has been hidden from the foundation of the world.’*
36 Then he left the crowds and went into the house. And his disciples approached him, saying, ‘Explain to us the parable of the weeds of the field.’ 37 He answered, ‘The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man; 38 the field is the world, and the good seed are the children of the kingdom; the weeds are the children of the evil one, 39 and the enemy who sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are angels. 40 Just as the weeds are collected and burned up with fire,'"

But give May Kat credit for reading this much of the optional bit,
"' will it be at the end of the age. 41 The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will collect out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all evildoers, 42 and they will throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.'"

But, the rest was drowned out by the euphonium of the p.c. church police,
43 "'Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Let anyone with ears* listen!'"


If all you keep hearing is "All is well, all is well..," it may be time to silence the euphonium, unplug your ears, open your eyes, and use your voice.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Mary Magdalene and Redemption Songs

Wallace H. Hartley sent this Bob Marley song for me to ponder.
Old pirates, yes, they rob i;
Sold I to the merchant ships,
Minutes after they took i
From the bottomless pit.
But my hand was made strong
By the and of the almighty.
We forward in this generation
Wont you help to sing
These songs of freedom? -
cause all I ever have:
Redemption songs;
Redemption songs.

Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery;
None but ourselves can free our minds.
Have no fear for atomic energy,
cause none of them can stop the time.
How long shall they kill our prophets,
While we stand aside and look? ooh!
Some say its just a part of it:
Weve got to fulfil de book.

Wont you help to sing
These songs of freedom? -
cause all I ever have:
Redemption songs;
Redemption songs;
Redemption songs.
Today is the day we remember Mary Magdalene. The Satucket article (linked here) puts her in a more favorable light than earlier generations may have seen her. The Catholic Encyclopedia has a different take,
"It is impossible to demonstrate the identity of the three; but those commentators undoubtedly go too far who assert, as does Westcott (on John 11:1), "that the identity of Mary with Mary Magdalene is a mere conjecture supported by no direct evidence, and opposed to the general tenour of the gospels." It is the identification of Mary of Bethany with the "sinner" of Luke 7:37, which is most combatted by Protestants. It almost seems as if this reluctance to identify the "sinner" with the sister of Martha were due to a failure to grasp the full significance of the forgiveness of sin. The harmonizing tendencies of so many modern critics, too, are responsible for much of the existing confusion."
The old way of thinking of her as a prostitute or adulteress also worked and used to help me when thinking of the redeeming power of Christ. Thinking about how Mary has been "redeemed" along with recent events in the life of the Anglican Church drew me to the question of what to do with the redeemed, particularly when they are called to become priests and we choose to overlook or rewrite the past.

The story related by the Ugley Vicar in his post "Should I Be Worried?" came up in the past week. In the story, a vicar who had in the past admitted to having sex with a 16 year old, and who had several other allegations in his past, was in 2008 appointed area Dean of an undisclosed area of the Church of England. The Bishop cited
"praised Mr - as a “first-class” priest. He is able to offer very strong support to other clergy and parishes."

The next case was reported from the San Francisco Chronicle ("Episcopal Church Under Fire for Parolee Priest").
"James Tramel went from convicted murderer to priest while in prison, a transformation that the Episcopal Church used to successfully lobby for his parole and celebrate him before politicians and the press.
But the church is now grappling with the sexual abuse of a parishioner under his care. Tramel has been suspended for sexual misconduct, temporarily stripped of his priestly authority and left searching for a new job...Convicted of second-degree murder in a 1985 slaying, Tramel went to seminary and was ordained a priest while incarcerated in a state prison in Solano County. After he was paroled early in 2006, at the urging of the Episcopal bishop of California, Tramel was quickly placed at the helm of the historic Trinity Episcopal Church in San Francisco...And when Tramel was released, (Bishop) Swing referred to Tramel's transformation as proof of the resurrecting power of Jesus Christ.

Tramel's parole in March 2006 was bitterly fought by Edward Stephenson, 79, the father of the murder victim. He's not surprised that Tramel is accused of taking advantage of a vulnerable parishioner after being paroled.

'He's a manipulator,' Stephenson said.

'The church wanted to show that he was a real good guy,' Stephenson said.

There is more to the Tramel story. He apparently had married the seminary student who was assigned to visit him in prison.

So many red flags...

Back on June 20, 2008 Lowell and I had an interesting exchange on his blog, which I have edited for the purposes of today's thoughts.
"...What do you do about forgiving seventy times seven? What do you do about the charge to love your neighbor as yourself, to love as God has loved?"

"Today's readings are a good example of how we can gain insight from piecing together disconnected Bible passages despite the inherent dangers of such an approach.
Jesus warns us not to be like the harsh slave in the parable, while Paul reminds us that we are all sinners, leaving me with the uncomfortable feeling that we sinners need to keep our mouths shut when we see something 'wrong.'
What do you do then when the unrepentant sinner is dishing out the communion wafer? Paul points out that all are sinners. Therefore, we will always be getting the sacraments from the hands of sinners.
I am afraid in our rush to accept the sinfulness of our leaders, that we have lowered our expectations of them.
'What do you do about forgiving seventy times seven, you ask?' What do you do when that person is not asking for forgiveness, but rather is asking for 'acceptance' because they deny the sin? Paul again straightens us out and reminds us that no one of us is above sin. I take that in mind when ever someone denies the sinfulness of their favorite human behavior.
'What do you do about the charge to love your neighbor as yourself, to love as God has loved,' you ask? I have to humble myself and beg forgiveness as I acknowledge my sins. I pray that true repentance will follow and my life will change. I have to pray that the Lord will forgive seventy times seven for I am lowly and born to sin, and as such will probably use up every one of those seventy times seven."

6:59 AM

Now, the current cases of the unnamed vicar, and Fr. Tramel relate more to people who do not deny their sinful past and gain not just acceptance into the body of Christ, but promotion into positions of authority in His Church. The victims may forgive, but we should not forget. While I do not deny the transforming power of redemption, it seems that sometimes we are afraid to pass common sense human judgement on people. Does our religion itself lead us into this problem of judging not lest we be judged, or is more a question of leadership?

Folquet de Marseilles bemoans the corruption of the Church, in a miniature by Giovanni di Paolo, Paradiso, Canto 9 (Wikipedia).

Sunday, July 20, 2008

On Questioning Authority

To my readers relief, I took a road trip this week to Blaney's parish, St. Mary's in Columbia. They have recently completed their new sanctuary at the expense of some 4 million dollars. Judging by the stained glass windows, it is definitely a "Mary" church. The inscription under the window behind the altar reads "Whatsoever he says, do it" from Mary's advice to the wine steward from John 2:1-11 (I like the KJV "Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it.") All of the stained
glass windows in the nave are going to depict special events in Mary's life.
(Blaney also had suggested engraving over the main front entrance,
"Servants' Entrance". That hasn't gone anywhere yet.)
They also built a "cry room" in the back of the sanctuary. This is a sound proof room for parents to take unruly or crying kids. The room has a window which gives a view of the service. Good for them. I remember a former parishioner who left our church after the rector told his wife to try to not take her kids out during the sermon as it was distracting to him. At least St. Mary's is making some accommodations for moms.
They also have a successful Hispanic service at 12:30 with an ASA of about 70-80.
Of course they have a priest who is Spanish speaking (Fr. Gonzales) which helps.
And, no I will not get into the issue of "Mary worship" because that would be stirring up trouble.

Getting back to the window at St. Mary's and the inscription "Whatsoever He says, do it," reminds me of the problem of authority. The quotation leaves no room for questioning. No room for "Why?" or "I'll think about it." This rule is often misapplied to our religious leaders.

As a long standing critic, I have to constantly examine my relationship to authority and authority figures. Can I simply say that the Spirit is my authority, or should I rely on the Church as that agency on Earth that discern the true Spirit versus the whims of the individual or group? Is the Church infallible in it's resolutions? How do I know when I am not just following some selfish agenda of some misguided Church leaders?
I responded in this way at PerpetuaofCarthage the other day as follows:
"I have been outcast because I dare to discuss the Sunday sermon in a blog format. I know people do this behind closed doors, in little whispers so no one else will hear, and we are seeing some choice examples being put on the web for all to see. The blogs bring these private whispers into the public arena, but only for those who choose to log on and look for these thoughts and ideas. When the "conservative" Anglican blogs start sounding "Pharisaical," as C.S. Lewis would put it, "too good... it leads not only to the wickedness but to the absurdity of those who in later times came to be called the 'unco guid' ""
(Reflections on The Psalms by C.S. Lewis pp 66-67)

For your reflection from Robert Burns,
Then gently scan your brother man,
Still gentler sister woman;
Tho' they may gang a kennin wrang,
To step aside is human:
One point must still be greatly dark, -
The moving Why they do it;
And just as lamely can ye mark,
How far perhaps they rue it.

Who made the heart, 'tis He alone
Decidedly can try us;
He knows each chord, its various tone,
Each spring, its various bias:
Then at the balance let's be mute,
We never can adjust it;
What's done we partly may compute,
But know not what's resisted.
(Robert Burns Address To The Unco Guid, Or The Rigidly Righteous)

This is the view of those who protest the Anglican blogs, that the "conservative" blogs are self righteous and quick to cast the first stone. Those of us on the "conservative" side have to pray to stay humble and to not become "prigs" even though we may seem to be "priggish" as St. Lewis warns us.

It seems to me that those who don't like the grumblings of dissent, often have no problem becoming dissenters themselves. A prime example is that of Joan Chittister O.S.B. who should be well versed in obedience and the problems that come from grumbling. In Insights for the Ages Chapter 66, April 24 she writes,
"Benedictine spirituality sees the community as something to mold us, not something to be used for the interests and vanity and power struggles of a few. It is a life dedicated to the spirit, not enmeshed in the agendas of the political. Where the authority of the abbot or prioress is constantly contested, routinely ignored, mockingly ridiculed or sharply questioned, then the eye of the soul is taken off of the Center of the life and shifted instead to the multiple minor agendas of its members. At that moment, the mystical dimension of the community turns into just one more arm wrestling match among contenders. At that point, the Rule says, get rid of the people who lower the purpose of the group to the level of the mundane, making light of the great enterprise of life and diminishing its energy.
It is good advice in any human endeavor whose higher purpose is being fed to the appetites of the immature and the selfish to rid itself of those who have given over the lode star of the group to a lesser direction"

Remember that bit about ridding itself of those people following their own selfish agendas.
But from an interview in which she is questioning authority regarding women priests she says (read it all here),

"It comes down to how many snowflakes does it take to break a branch? I don't know, but I want to be there to do my part if I'm a snowflake."

My take on Sister Joan's comments is that when you want to break a rule that you personally feel is unjust, go ahead and do it. However if you are content with the prevailing authority, then call rule breakers "immature" and "selfish" and throw out the "flakes" as troublemakers. This sounds a bit like she is creating a new authority, herself and she can do all the name calling she wants, just don't let anyone else call her the same name because she has defined what is right.

"Sister Chittister: Of course. That whole notion of the military meaning of obedience had, whether we realized it or not, begun to consume us. And worse than that, we were women, and women were expected to conform. So it's not until after World War II when education itself became as possible, at least in some ways, for women as for men and then became as important for women as for men, as it is now, that you begin to see this shift from military conformity to a sensitivity to the impulses of grace in our lives. The word "obedience" comes from the Latin word oboedire, 'to listen.' And the first word of the Rule of Benedict is 'Listen, my children, to the precepts of your teacher.' Listen to them, learn from them. Not 'Jump.' 'How high?'

Ms. Tippett: I wonder if you'd talk about some of the concrete ways in which, as you say, this move from obedience, which is about conformity, to obedience, which is about being sensitive to and responsive to grace."

Sister Chittister: Oh, that's easy."

Maybe it is easy for her; she has already decided to become a snowflake in hopes of breaking branches. She forgot the part about getting rid of the snowflakes.

For us pewsitters to follow the Spirit, we need remain humble and listen to the guidance of our forefathers, our traditions, the scriptures, and wisdom from our Church leaders. We need help in understanding false teachings and it should be acceptable to question or criticise authority figures. To be asked to blindly accept the "wise and powerful" is to imbue them one thing they never should have aspired to, and that thing is power.
Sister Chittister knows that the real power is in humility, something that I pray to be given to the Bishops at Lambeth, those not invited to Lambeth, and those boycotting Lambeth. Imagine being led by humble servants who enter through the servant's entrance.
"Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it."

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Clip, Clip Here, Clip, Clip There

My last post of 07/13/2008 included another comment on the Lectionary and how certain passages were being snipped out of the readings assigned for Sunday Eucharist. The resulting collage of the scriptures was what we the masses typically hear. This subject was picked up at the StandFirm website and a number of interesting comments were made. I have picked out a few for further review.
"I originally sent this heads up to Jackie (after seeing it at Underground Pewster’s “Not another Episcopal Church Blog"). I never wrote anything about a conspiracy theory, nor did that idea cross my mind. (Though I do think that studying the passages omitted from the Lectionary is very interesting and illuminating, it almost becomes something like “the hard sayings of Jesus”—the things our culture doesn’t want to hear.)

Every now and then (as perhaps in this case) the omission might be justifiable due to length or theme—in this case to more tightly elide the two portions of Mt. 13 that focus on the Parable of the Sower.
However, given the extremely small percentage of Episcopalians who ever crack open a Bible on their own (i.e. apart from Sunday church worship), over time, the omission of all these passages about sin, judgment and repentance adds up, BIG TIME.
My title in the e-mail to Jackie was something like 'Why we’re in such a mess… part one million something...'
Anyway, I think this is a crucial passage to help understand the process of repentance and how to find healing when our ears and hearts are dull and shut to God’s Word. And by cutting it out of the lectionary, I think the Episcopal church is much poorer for it. We avoid passages that speak clearly of the call to repent. And it is shrinking from repentance that has got us into this mess… or so I believe."

[29] Posted by Karen B. on 07-15-2008 at 01:13 PM

I had to chime in,

"This topic has been a pet peeve of mine ever since waking up to the realization that most of us pewsitters' only exposure to the scriptures comes during the Sunday readings, and when the hard bits are left out of the text, we are not going to create tough Christians, people prepared for the tough times in life. The result of many years of only hearing the soft sell is soft mushy Christianity. The daily readings are tougher, but fewer people follow the daily obligation of reading and studying the lectionary. The Eucharistic readings appear to be the most watered down, but that is what most people hear."
[30] Posted by Undergroundpewster on 07-15-2008 at 01:26 PM

There were some interesting defenses of the Lectionary for example read this exchange:

"Move along, people. Nothing to see here. No conspiracy, no plot, nothing nefarious. The RCL lectionary is that same as the BCP lectionary on this one. The reason is obvious: The focus is on the Parable of the Sower. Omitting the verses the lectionary omits allows for the interpretation to follow immediately on the parable itself. It’s done all the time and there’s nothing 'unorthodox' about it. But the rubrics allow any reading to be lengthened (though not shortened) at the discretion of the celebrant, so if anyone had wanted to read the omitted verses, they could have done so."
[16] Posted by Fr Dan Martins on 07-15-2008 at 10:52 AM

"I have to agree with Fr. Dan on this one (its nice to be able to do that for a change). Personally speaking, I would prefer a lectionary that took about 5 years and covered all of scripture. Short of that some edits have to be made. The cuts that are most offensive to God’s Word are those that seem designed to Marcionize the lectionary...edit for the purpose of removing some section that will make us uncomfortable by either confronting us with sin or undercutting an idolized image of God and/or His character.
One of the most egregious examples is glaring omission of the sections of Romans 1 that identify homosexual behavior as sinful in the daily lectionary. The lectionary text goes right to that point and then, for no obvious reason, skips the verses in question, and continues on the other side.

[17] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 07-15-2008 at 11:00 AM

(Note that Matt Kennedy has noted that maybe something is up in some of these clip jobs. UP)
"And it is with equal pleasure that I can agree with Fr Matt on his observations re cuts that 'marcionize' the lectionary. I try to keep an eagle eye out for such things, both in the Eucharist and more especially in the Daily Office, and exercise the prerogative of lengthening readings to include such excised material."
[18] Posted by Fr Dan Martins on 07-15-2008 at 11:04 AM

Not everyone agreed with them,
"Fr. Dan and Fr. Mat - with all due respect - I disagree."
[24] Posted by Jackie Bruchi on 07-15-2008 at 11:19 AM

(Cartoon by See Mike Draw)

Others raised the flag that once deleted, some passages are never read in the whole lectionary cycle,
"I’m reassured by Matt+ and Dan+, though I went through the RCL online and was sorry to see that over the course of the three years, the lectionary never returns to the omitted verse.
Complete coverage of scripture would be nice… "

[22] Posted by kmfrye on 07-15-2008 at 11:08 AM

Others experienced a similar feeling as myself that I am being manipulated in some way,
"For some reason those two points never came out in the message, probably because the mid section of the gospel lesson (always hearing, never understanding) had been redacted by modern lectionary scholarship. How very therapeutic of them to keep us from considering why we might not understand or digest what we read and hear in Scripture."
[5] Posted by Rom 1:16 on 07-15-2008 at 10:33 AM


"Awakening from my pew slumber opened my eyes to what I have come to think of as sub-liminal programming. Having sold us on the convenience of the printed programs and such, our trust is used against us - once again. In reality, the part of us we cherish the most, being a Christian, is what makes us so susceptible to these innovations."
[10] Posted by Jackie on 07-15-2008 at 10:42 AM

"#10 Bull’s Eye!!!! “Awakening from my pew slumber opened my eyes to what I have come to think of as sub-liminal programming.” I think you hit the nail right on the head with this very statement. We’ve all been programmed with what they WANT us to hear. They’ve very carefully edited out what they DON’T WANT us to hear. They don’t expect us to study our Bibles at home for ourselves, and most don’t. It was when I started to study my own Bible that I had my eyes truly opened to the manipulations of the church leaders."
[12] Posted by Mugsie1 on 07-15-2008 at 10:47 AM

"Leaving out passages like the one Sunday makes complacency easy."
[14] Posted by oscewicee on 07-15-2008 at 10:49 AM

And who is ultimately responsible for what we hear at Church????

"The HOMILIST, at least, should certainly know what the context of his text is. You don’t prepare a sermon from a lesson sheet, after all (right?)
At my parish, the congregation heard the entire reading, and the importance of the omitted portions for a right understanding of the text.
It is the rector’s responsibility to keep these things straight - no one else’s.
As far as I know, none of the lectionaries encompass the whole of this pericope, but the homilist can and should.
But without a robust sense of the power of the doctrine of election (Article XVII), who would want to?"

[41] Posted by ericfromnewyork on 07-15-2008 at 04:29 PM

There have been occcasions at ECOOS where the Homilist has told us about things left out of the lectionary readings. An example from this year was from Fr. Dunbar's sermon on Genesis 9.

Which is better for the health of the Church, to leave out the forbidden scriptures or to take 'em on?

Clip, clip here, Clip, clip there, We give the roughest clause.
That certain air of savoir faire, In the Merry Old Land of Oz!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Conflict and Contradiction

I honestly wrote most of this on Wednesday before going to church today or looking at the lessons. I felt that I needed a day to recover from the article the Herald by Rachel Zoll published yesterday (not yet online) about our heroic Presiding Bishop. My intention was to give the rector a break today since he had just returned from vacation. I can't help the fact that after he spent most of his sermon discussing our "inclusive" Church and how we Episcopalians can embrace both sides of an issue, and how he applied this concept to the issue of divorce, I was replaying what I was pondering on Wednesday regarding the importance of resolving contradictions and conflicts rather than turning a blind eye to the issues. When he went on to suggest that our enlightened Episcopal attitude towards "Demon Rum" was because we should embrace such pleasures as God has given us, I blew a gasket. That statement should have raised the eyebrows of our visitors, those trying out our "The Church of God's Free Pass," or "The Church of If It Feels Good, God Blesses it, Do It."
Charlie started his sermon by reading parts of today's reading from Romans 8:1-11. I am glad Charlie admitted at this point that he was a "liberal" with regards to the scriptures. He then added that others such as the African churches and many local churches are "literal" with respect to issues such as "divorce." Straying into the minefield of divorce he proceeded to espouse the "liberal" rationale for divorce, that people were not meant to "stay married for 60 years."
Is this the kind of thing you say on a Sunday where a large part of the congregation present consisted of young parents and their children who were preparing to sing for us the song they learned in VBS, "I believe?" He did admit that there was no scriptural basis for his position, but then suggested that this was an example of why we should be liberal with the scripture. I was baffled but reminded of Romans 8, "For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on things of the flesh."
To top it all, later in his sermon, Charlie said that he did not like to preach about moral issues!
Of course, most of us are ill equipped to discuss moral issues. We are what the Church has reared us to be. We have been raised to be "in the Spirit." We are not supposed to try to understand issues, we should keep doing God's work (remember the MDG's?), and love all different opinions. Loving all those opinions is especially easy when you don't try to understand them. But, when you embrace contradictory or mutually exclusive opinions, you run the risk of serious mental, and dare I say spiritual disturbance.
Is it better to ignore the questions and immerse oneself in God's work, or should you tackle the issues, and see if one argument or the other is tenable? I see the latter as part of God's work.
When approaching inflammatory issues, are you happy living with contradictions, saying "I just won't think about that," or does your brain stay active, analyzing information until you can at least have an opinion, albeit perhaps not a full apologetic that could stand the test of debate?

Now, I am not the most "Orthodox" of people, but I am certainly not considered "liberal" either. This still does not make me one of those dreaded "moderates."
You know, the wishy washy, can't make a decision, won't take a stand types who sit in the pews on Sundays and thinks, "Well doesn't that sound nice," to any new idea that comes from the pulpit (such as Charlie's opinion about divorce).

You see, the Church is in conflict. Part of this has to do with the liberal approach to scripture as well as issues not directly addressed in the scriptures such as abortion.

Bill Gnade at Contratimes asked if you have ever met a pro-life vegan. I can't say that I have, but I know you are out there. Bill thinks they might exist but they are "rather rare and never medium rare." For me to be such an animal, I would have to hold onto two contradictory positions at the same time. Of course, the pro-abortion vegan does not consider the fetus a life form, and therefore has a rationalization that allows them to approve of abortion while not approving of consuming animal flesh.

This led me to consider all those contradictions that I live with. I will spend the next week or so looking for these and tossing them around in my head with the goal of eliminating as many as possible . In this exercise, I am going against the recommendations of our Church leaders such as Bishop Gene Robinson (AKA the Happy Bishop) who praised the Anglican Church as the place where people can hold two contradictory positions at once.
From CatholicInternational
“The Anglican tradition is uniquely capable of holding two seemingly contradictory ideas together. Its position on abortion, for example is that all human life is sacred. And, that no one has the right to tell a woman what to do with her body. Both are true,” Bishop Robinson

Does anyone have an issue with that? "No one has a right" to tell me that them's not fightin words!

The position of the Episcopal Church has been to support pro-abortion groups, while at the same time preaching a gospel of love. These positions appear mutually exclusive in my opinion. So if we follow Charlie's view of the big tent where all Christians can come together, shouldn't the Episcopal Church support pro life as well as pro-abortion groups? Answer: No!

Example: The Executive Council’s decision to join the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (RCRC)

Read what happened when NOEL (now called Anglicans for Life) took their pro-life message to the last General Convention.

"The Rev. Canon Elizabeth Kaeton from the Diocese of Newark (also a board member of RCRC and the Social and Urban Affairs Committee(emphasis added)) was the next speaker. She referred to a quote by Martin Niemoller, and then said, 'while abortion may not be favored by local churches, we are deputized to follow the Holy Spirit,

not the wishes of the folks back home.'"

These are your spiritual leaders folks. Some of you may recognize Elizabeth Keaton as the Swan of Newark for which we have a link on this very page.

Sheila (the NOEL speaker), speaking for the first time before a GC legislative committee
“RCRC does not encourage parental involvement in the issue of abortion. They encourage girls to seek truth from within. This is out of alignment with both society and the Episcopal Church as a recent Zogby poll showed that 69% of Americans support parental notification of abortion and Resolution A094 affirms the role of God, parents, and spiritual advisers to guide a woman before considering abortion...”
"When we heard about the task force being formed to research the declining population in the Church, we laughed and when we realized that the Episcopal Church chose to uphold the sanctity of abortion, we cried."

More on how the pressure to hold two conflicting positions affects people and some ideas on what might lie behind these thoughts comes from the story of Jennifer Fulwiler and her transformation from pro-choice atheist to pro-life Catholic,
"As long as I accepted the premise that engaging in sex with a contraceptive mentality was morally acceptable, I could not bring myself to consider that abortion might not be acceptable. It seemed inhumane to make women deal with life-altering consequences for an act that was not supposed to have life-altering consequences."

And what happens to the mind of your Episcopal Church when it faces mutually exclusive positions that it would rather not face?
From FreeRepublic,
"For many years, there have been pro-life and pro-choice organizations in the Episcopal church. They existed together, if not in harmony, then at least without the need to see one another’s existence as a need to leave, or necessarily to reform, the church as a whole. They were able to respect one another’s faith. They agreed to disagree. But this was apparently unsatisfactory to the Executive Committee, which determined that the church must take sides and declare that one side is wrong and the other is right. This is the action of an Executive Committee that is hell-bent on imposing its will on the church with no possibility whatever of compromise."
I am in conflict with my church because of the contradiction of giving to an organization that supports abortion while staking my position on the belief that abortion is wrong. I am in conflict when the preacher says that we were not meant to stay married for life but admits that the Bible says otherwise. The result of these conflicts may be harmful to my soul. This is the danger inherent in Bishop Robinson's or Charlie Foss' method of dealing with polarizing issues.

The Archbishop of Canterbury is another fine example of what happens to the mind when it tries to hold onto too many conflicting points of view simultaneously. The Anglican Curmudgeon's post of 07/06/2008 delves into the thought processes of the man, and after going there, I am glad to have come out alive.

Or perhaps to be "Orthodox" and Episcopalian at the same time is a contradiction that no one can live with and maintain their sanity.

One final note. Once again the wisdom of the Episcopal lectionary spliced and diced the Gospel reading with no indication for the pewsitter where the alterations had occurred. They were Matthew 13:10-17. Reading these deleted words, I cannot help but hear the Spirit of Truth calling,
“'You will indeed listen, but never understand,
and you will indeed look, but never perceive.
For this people’s heart has grown dull,
and their ears are hard of hearing,
and they have shut their eyes;
so that they might not look with their eyes,
and listen with their ears,
and understand with their heart and turn—
and I would heal them.'
But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear"

Let's see, we took on the Sermon, the Lessons, the Apostates, and gave a brief reference to the Music, maybe not a Grand Slam because the music was okay. Alright, the organist did have a few false starts. Nuff said.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Don't Tell the Rector

Today's service was an excellent example of worship. We had memorable lessons, from the story of Rebekah and Isaac's "marriage," and St. Paul's battle of the way of the flesh vs. the way of the spirit, to Jesus in Matthew 11:16-19, 25-30 "Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest." Fr. Dunbar filling in for our Rector who is on vacation, put together a very good sermon from the reading of Romans 7:15-25a, and Matthew. He reminded us to see things with the eyes of a child, to allow our imaginations to help us surrender our burdens to Jesus.

Now this is the part that we mustn't tell the rector. We finished the service with a "National" Hymn (1982 Hymnal #717-My country 'tis of thee... ). It is not often that we are allowed to sing any of these hymns that have been pushed to the last pages of the Episcopal Hymnal. How could it have slipped through and gotten included in the service music? When the cat's away the mice will play. Well, at least we didn't process with the American flag.

There was a little problem in that the Gospel reading for today was another expurgated version (who does this lectionary meddling anyway?).
We listened to the spliced together version as commanded. There is no indication in the printed bulletin of where the splice occurs. Did anyone else notice that Matthew 11:19-24 got left out. It adds to the context, but it may be troubling to hear Jesus speak in this threatening manner (if justice is a threat). Here is the missing text with verse 25 included so that you can understand the splice:
"20 Then began he to upbraid the cities wherein most of his mighty works were done, because they repented not

21 Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.

22 But I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you.

23 And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day.

24 But I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee.

25 At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes."

I can imagine a "wise and prudent" (v. 25) Episcopal Church scholar thinking "Well, that must have been a later addition to the text, and it would flow much better into those little minds of mush if we just leave that part out. Besides, we don't want our Rectors to have to explain what happened to Sodom; we don't teach that at seminary anymore."

I am but a child at all this religious stuff, and that's how I see it.