Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Crowder's Mtn

The end of summer in the Carolinas brings clearer skies, cooler temperatures, and the allure of the great outdoors. Last weekend, I had some time by myself and decided to follow the call and hike up one of our local "mountains." Crowder's Mountain is better called a monadnock. The park brochure provides a brief history,

Crowder's Mountain state park is a North Carolina park that is just across the border from the pewster's cave in York County South Carolina. Rising 800 feet above the surrounding countryside, resisting the forces of erosion over vast periods of time, are Crowders Mountain and Kings Pinnacle, remnants of an ancient mountain range. Once the core of mighty mountains that towered thousands of feet above sea level, these surviving peaks are part of the Appalachian chain that formed in the region 450 to 500 million years ago. Geologically classified as kyanite-quartzite monadnocks, only the strength of quartzite has allowed these pinnacles to withstand the wind, water and other forces that eroded less resistant peaks.

Crowders Mountain, at an elevation of 1,625 feet, is a registered natural heritage area that features sheer vertical cliffs ranging from 100 to 150 feet in height. Kings Pinnacle, by contrast, has a round, gentle profile and reaches an elevation of 1,705 feet. These mountains and the saddle that connects them are oriented in a northeast to southwest direction, their slopes facing east and west. Spectacular views await those who ascend these mighty pinnacles.
Knowing that the temperature was supposed to climb to 91 degrees, and that three days of rain had been forecast to begin the next day (following a four week drought which would have made for muddy and slick conditions next weekend), I rose with the sun, laced up my boots, rescued my favorite walking stick (which was being used ignominously to prop up the clothes line), loaded up my water bottle, and headed out in order to be at the trail head as the park opened.

My usual drive to this park takes me on "Grandview Road." There is one grand view on this road, and here it is. (Warning, don't try to duplicate this shot without having your walking stick to defend yourself from the neighborhood dogs)

Grandview Rd.

Since my first visit here 20 years ago, the park has upgraded its visitor center and parking, and another nice view can be seen from the parking lot.

View from visitor parking area.

I took the Pinnacle trail which is a 1.7 mile climb (3.4 mile round trip) on the eastern side of the mountain that is rated by the park guide as strenuous. There have been improvements made to this trail over the years with more and better trail markers to keep you headed in the right direction. I recall one Fall when the leaves on the trail were so thick that it was difficult to discern the trail, and I complained that some of the painted orange blazes (some on trees and some on rocks) had faded which could make the trail quite challenging to the casual hiker.

Old style

Updated Blaze
On this particular morning, as I was making my deliberate ascent along the quiet path, a pair of fit young women,  jogging deftly through the rocks, quickly overcame me and past me by. They must have had tough soles because the trail is rocky in spots. I suspect they were not going to the top and were instead going to take the Ridgeline trail (6.2 miles) that now leads all the way to King's Mountain State Park on the South Carolina side of the border. The Pinnacle trail seems easy up to the point where the Ridgeline trail begins, but then you notice that you should have been using that StairMaster for exercise instead of as a place to hang clothes. I felt a little better when I passed up some less than fit looking boy scouts making the climb. The scoutmasters, who had that "I can't believe I ate that scout breakfast" look to them, were taking a needed breather too.

There is a sign marking the end of the trail,

but everyone knows that if you climb over the next series of rocks, you will be rewarded with nice views and a welcome breeze from the western side of the monadock, a breeze that I now realized was missing during my climb.


View from the top.

I couldn't resist taking this one.

Sometimes it is good to set foot out of your cave.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Another Lectionary Page Lapse: Not That Anyone Will Notice

The Lectionary pages at are a helpful way of keeping up with the discipline of daily scripture reading. Problems with the lectionary have been reported in earlier posts, and in keeping with my discipline, I will report the mysterious gap to be found between Monday 09/27/2010 and Tuesday 09/28/2010. For some reason we go from Hosea 2 to Hosea 4 without reading Hosea 3. While it does repeat some of what was in Hosea 1, we shouldn't forget what the Lord has to say to us in these verses.

Hosea 3

The Lord said to me again, ‘Go, love a woman who has a lover and is an adulteress, just as the Lord loves the people of Israel, though they turn to other gods and love raisin cakes.’ So I bought her for fifteen shekels of silver and a homer of barley and a measure of wine. And I said to her, ‘You must remain as mine for many days; you shall not play the whore, you shall not have intercourse with a man, nor I with you.’ For the Israelites shall remain many days without king or prince, without sacrifice or pillar, without ephod or teraphim. Afterwards the Israelites shall return and seek the Lord their God, and David their king; they shall come in awe to the Lord and to his goodness in the latter days.

Monday, September 27, 2010

The Cost of Going Green

During the past few weeks, the straw door mat at our house, a wonderful example of our environmental conciousness, has been dissolving before our very eyes.

Sept. 24, 2010

This mystery intrigued me, until evidence was found at the scene.

It looks like Rocky had to deal with Hobson's choice when I let the dog out.
This explains the dog's sudden desire to chase squirrels. After all, the dog loved to lay on that mat.

The recycling of my old door mat will necessitate a trip to the store to purchase a new door mat, which was probably the intention of the manufacturer in the first place.

I have news for them....

Chew on that! (okay, I admit, it is made of recycled tires)

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Gospel 1: Waldo 0

Today marked the first visit of Bishop Waldo to ECOOS. His sermon came mostly from 1 Timothy:6-19.
Of course, there is great gain in godliness combined with contentment; for we brought nothing into the world, so that we can take nothing out of it; but if we have food and clothing, we will be content with these. But those who want to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and in their eagerness to be rich some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pains.

But as for you, man of God, shun all this; pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith; take hold of the eternal life, to which you were called and for which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. In the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who in his testimony before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, I charge you to keep the commandment without spot or blame until the manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ, which he will bring about at the right time—he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords. It is he alone who has immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see; to him be honour and eternal dominion. Amen.

As for those who in the present age are rich, command them not to be haughty, or to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but rather on God who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, generous, and ready to share, thus storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of the life that really is life.
He fleshed out the Epistle by relating an anecdotal story of someone he knew who had lost both wealth and family, and who eventually was brought closer to the ideal of "setting one's hopes on God" instead of on "the uncertainty of riches."

I really would have liked some commentary on the Gospel for today, Luke 16:19-31 with its rather graphic images of Hades.
It is currently unfashionable to talk about the reality of Hades. I guess preachers might be afraid they will scare people off with stories of eternal torment, flames etc. After all, God loves us and wouldn't allow such a place to exist...right???
‘There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who longed to satisfy his hunger with what fell from the rich man’s table; even the dogs would come and lick his sores. The poor man died and was carried away by the angels to be with Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried. In Hades, where he was being tormented, he looked up and saw Abraham far away with Lazarus by his side. He called out, “Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am in agony in these flames.” But Abraham said, “Child, remember that during your lifetime you received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner evil things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in agony. Besides all this, between you and us a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who might want to pass from here to you cannot do so, and no one can cross from there to us.” He said, “Then, father, I beg you to send him to my father’s house— for I have five brothers—that he may warn them, so that they will not also come into this place of torment.” Abraham replied, “They have Moses and the prophets; they should listen to them.” He said, “No, father Abraham; but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.” He said to him, “If they do not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.”

And where did Jesus get the notion that there was a great fixed chasm between those in Hades and those that have been spared? The chasm won't even allow a moment of mercy to be performed  for the one being tormented.
The final sentence of the story speaks to an awful truth. Many today would discount the teachings of the Old Testament as products of a primitive culture. We have all heard the talk about how the O.T. was written to keep women in their place. We have all heard the talk about the O.T. as myth. We have even heard the talk that Moses, when he came down from the mountain, made all those laws by himself.
Yes, we are guilty of not listening to Moses and the prophets. Is it any wonder that people deny the resurrection?  I hate to do this to you, but here is what the nefarious Episcopal Bishop (ret.) John Shelby Spong who denies a physical resurrection of Jesus concludes,
"The Easter story appears to have grown rather dramatically over the years. Something happened after the crucifixion of Jesus that convinced the disciples that Jesus shared in the eternal life of God and was thus available to them as a living presence. This experience was so profound that the disciples, who at his arrest had fled in fear, were now reconstituted and empowered even to die for the truth of their vision. This experience had the power to force the Jewish disciples to redefine the God of the Jews so that Jesus could be seen as part of who God is. Finally this experience was so profound that it ultimately created, on the first day of the week, a new holy day that was quite different from the Sabbath, to enable Christians to mark this transforming moment with a liturgical act called 'the breaking of bread.'
When these biblical data are assembled and examined closely, two things become clear. First something of enormous power gripped the disciples following the crucifixion that transformed their lives. Second, it was some fifty years before that transforming experience was interpreted as the resuscitation of a three days dead Jesus to the life of the world. Our conversation about the meaning of Easter must begin where these two realities meet." (From his web page)
I understand that Bishop Waldo had only a limited time in his first sermon to us, and he did succeed in coming across as a nice guy, but he certainly missed a teachable moment when he ignored Jesus' images of Hades.

I guess he didn't want to scare anyone off.

P.S. 09/28/2010 Fr. Matt Kennedy does an excellent job with his sermon on this parable. You can find it here. Thanks Fr. Matt!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

New Horizons

Over at Musings From the Hinterland, R. Sherman posted some sunset photos. This reminded me that I had taken these sunrise pics a few weeks ago thinking they might go in a future post to be titled "False Horizons."

The end of summer brings early morning fog on Carolina lakes. On August 30, I took these pictures of sunrise using my aging cell phone's camera.

The sun is up above the fog bank, but you might think that the sun is on the horizon.

                               (A little later)

There should actually be a distant shoreline with trees and hills visible, but the horizon is obscured by fog. This gives the appearance of a new horizon which reminded me of a song, so I decided to rename the post "New Horizons."

"Well I've had dreams enough for one
And I've got love enough for three
I have my hopes to comfort me
I got my new horizons out to sea

But I'm never going to lose your precious gift
It will always be that way
Cos I know I'm going to find my own peace of mind

Where is this place that we have found
Nobody knows where we are bound
I long to hear, I need to see
Cos I've shed tears too many for me

But I'm never going to lose your precious gift
It will always be that way
Cos I know I'm going to find my own peace of mind

On the wind soaring free
Spread your wings
I'm beginning to see
Out of mind far from view
Beyond the reach of a nightmare come true

Well I've had dreams enough for one
And I got love enough for three
I have my hopes to comfort me
I got my new horizons out to sea

But I'm never going to lose your precious gift
It will always be that way
Cos I know I'm going to find my own peace of mind
Justin Hayward, from The Moody Blues "Seventh Sojourn," 1972.
In part because I am a lousy chess player, I have always had a hard time predicting what lies beyond the fog bank that hides the future from our sight. I realize that this may make me more susceptible to being misled by visions of a false horizon. New horizons are attractive, but I have learned to not set sail on a foggy morning for there is danger in the mist.

Red sky in the morning, sailor take warning.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Taming of the Shrewd (updated)

Today's sermon was delivered by our assistant priest and it was her time to tackle The Parable of the Dishonest Manager found in Luke 16:1-13.

Then Jesus said to the disciples, ‘There was a rich man who had a manager, and charges were brought to him that this man was squandering his property. So he summoned him and said to him, “What is this that I hear about you? Give me an account of your management, because you cannot be my manager any longer.” Then the manager said to himself, “What will I do, now that my master is taking the position away from me? I am not strong enough to dig, and I am ashamed to beg. I have decided what to do so that, when I am dismissed as manager, people may welcome me into their homes.” So, summoning his master’s debtors one by one, he asked the first, “How much do you owe my master?” He answered, “A hundred jugs of olive oil.” He said to him, “Take your bill, sit down quickly, and make it fifty.” Then he asked another, “And how much do you owe?” He replied, “A hundred containers of wheat.” He said to him, “Take your bill and make it eighty.” And his master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly; for the children of this age are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than are the children of light. And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of dishonest wealth so that when it is gone, they may welcome you into the eternal homes.

 ‘Whoever is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much; and whoever is dishonest in a very little is dishonest also in much. If then you have not been faithful with the dishonest wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches? And if you have not been faithful with what belongs to another, who will give you what is your own? No slave can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.’
While I followed the exposition on the whys and wherefores of the dishonest manager's wheelings and dealings, I have always needed help with the next part (but did not get any),
"...for the children of this age are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than are the children of light. And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of dishonest wealth so that when it is gone, they may welcome you into the eternal homes."
Clearly there is a sharp division between the children of the age and the children of light. Might  the children of light be considered "rubes" by the shrewd ones if they happened to run into each other on a city street? I was left wondering about how shrewd the progressives have been in manipulating the Episcopal church into its current state. Does anyone remember the shrewd "mighty move of the Holy Spirit?"

Oh well, just call me "Rube."

PS I forgot to put in the new "offertory sentence" and "proper preface" that we are experimenting with, or being experimented upon, depending on your point of view.

Offertory Sentence 09/19/2010:
Jesus said, "You cannot serve God and wealth." So be faithful in what you have been given and more will be given to you; and you will be called children of light.
And what should it be called if the church squanders its wealth on law suits?

Proper Preface 09/19/2010:
It is right and a good and joyful thing, always and everywhere to give thanks to you, Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth. For you are the one God, and we have one mediator in Jesus Christ our Lord, who gave himself for us, that we might be welcomed into your kingdom and, at the last, into our eternal home.
"Our" home? I think that might need some work.

I am starting to suspect that this new liturgical experiment is a shrewd way of softening us up for the real liturgical shake up to come out with those ssbs M.C. is working on.

Ignore my ranting, after all I am just a rube.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

+Upper South Carolina "Restructuring"

This letter from Bishop Waldo came from the EDUSC last week. (emphasis added)

On Diocesan Staff Restructuring

September 8, 2010

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Mary and I are settling into our new home in Columbia and our new life in Upper South Carolina, and we have been honored and humbled by the warm welcomes we continue to receive from our new diocesan family. In the space of three months since my consecration, I have celebrated many Confirmations, several baptisms, and we have had the moving experience of our first visit to our brothers and sisters in Haiti, about which I wrote earlier. We are blessed to be among you.

I have also been blessed to come into a diocesan staff of dedicated and hard working Christians who have been extremely supportive of me in the beginnings of my transition into the role of your bishop. Since my election, I have been in prayerful thought and conversation about how best to structure our diocesan staff. My focus has been on responsive service to the congregations, institutions and leadership of our diocese through leadership development, training and procedural simplifications. My goal is that everything we do contribute in ways large and small to the development of healthy, growing and vibrant congregations throughout the diocese. To that end, the responsibilities of canon staff will include more direct availability to congregations for training and support—in communications, leadership development, congregational development, administration, finance, and, if and when the economic environment improves, Christian formation among all ages. Quality of support to congregations and skilled ability as trainers will be high values for my canon staff. Furthermore, we will be working toward high levels of responsiveness and hospitality among office staff. It will take time for us to put these processes in place, but with these as primary goals, we will be making a number of organizational and personnel changes in the coming weeks and months.

I think you will all be pleased to hear that, notwithstanding her recent retirement from the diocesan house staff, Jane Goldsmith has graciously agreed to stay on in the part time roles of receptionist and coordinator of office volunteers beginning after Convention. Jane’s warm and hospitable manner will be a welcoming and inviting presence in the diocesan house. I’m sure you will all enjoy hearing her voice when you call, and seeing her at the front desk when you come to visit. In the meantime, I am looking for a new Executive Assistant. We are nearing the interview portion of our search for Jane’s replacement in this position.

As you know from her announcement in Crosswalk, Peggy Hill decided to retire from her position as Canon for Communications. Peggy’s award‐winning publications have been a great asset to communications in the diocese, and have represented our diocese well both here at home and in the larger church. We will miss her and wish her many blessings as she begins this new phase of her life.

This means of course that we are taking next steps to ensure effective communications for the diocese. We are looking at two ways of addressing this mission‐critical part of our common life:
One way will be to fill the position with the right and highly qualified person to have oversight and responsibility for communications in the diocese, including the ability to teach and train clergy and lay leaders throughout the diocese on the most effective means for getting your message out. The other way we’re considering is to outsource the teaching, training and primary message‐formation aspects of the task to a firm that specializes in these high‐level communications activities. Should we take this path, print and e‐news communications would shift to Bethany Human, closely coordinated with the higher‐level goals.

Julie Price has agreed to continue to serve us as Canon for Diocesan Administration and Finance, a role in which she has served tirelessly and superbly for over 17 years. Julie is an extraordinary asset to our diocese, and will continue to help us keep the finances and Statement of Mission in order. Working with Julie, Cynthia Hendrix will continue to serve us as Director of Finance, Insurance, and Risk Management, as consultant to the Property and Insurance Committee of the diocese, and as a risk management consultant to the diocese. Both will be readily available to congregations for consultations and training in administration, finance and insurance matters.

d’Rue Hazel will now have full responsibility for diocesan deployment and discernment processes as our Canon for Deployment, Discernment, and Pastoral Care. d’Rue has passion and skill for this ministry, and her energy and vision will serve our diocese well as we seek to call clergy for existing congregations and to ordain new clergy with the gifts most needed by our diocese.

Long‐time diocesan staff member Roslyn Hook will shift some of her responsibilities to focus on Administrative Assistant support to d’Rue, in addition to her coordination of theSchool for Ministry. This assures us of a strong, responsive team.

Michael Bullock has resigned from his position as Canon to the Ordinary in order to pursue new positions. Michael’s work in helping to shape and develop the Commission structure has been invaluable to our diocese. Under his leadership, the Commissions have begun to function as they were intended, and to take on a true grass roots leadership role for the diocese. I am indebted to him for the vision with which he has carried forward this new concept from infancy into adolescence. Michael has also played a significant role with several parishes as they’ve engaged the Healthy Church Initiative. I have personally been deeply grateful for his support and wise guidance during my first months. Michael has graciously accepted my request for him to stay on through October.

Due to a significant budget shortfall in the Statement of Mission, Sue von Rautenkranz’s position as Canon for Liturgy, Leadership and Development Formation has been eliminated. Sue has been an inspiration to the youth and youth leaders of our diocese. Under her leadership, the diocese has come to value and raise up the leadership of youth in the church, moving us from seeing youth as the “future of the church” to including them as the “now” of the church. One of her many achievements was leading the effort, first, for youth to have seat and voice, and then, seat, voice and vote, at Convention. Sue will be deeply missed by countless youth and youth ministers for her presence and leadership. Sue will also be staying through Diocesan Convention, which she has agreed to coordinate, after which we will all have to pull together to ensure the ongoing success of youth ministry in the diocese. In spite of her loss to the program, the presence, ministry and support of youth is among our highest priorities. My restructuring plan (see below) includes a future Canon for Christian Formation and Youth, a position I hope an improving economy will allow us to move quickly to fill in the 2011‐2012 season. In the meantime, Bethany Human will continue to provide logistical and administrative support to youth ministry in the diocese. We also know Sue as a meticulous liturgist and event organizer and she has been a long‐time personal friend of mine. Her talent, energy and commitment have brought liturgy on the highest level to the diocese. She has been instrumental in planning and coordinating large events like Diocesan Conventions and various leadership days. I am indebted to her for her support of Joseph Whitehurst in managing and implementing the Consecration liturgy last May.

Finally, part‐time administrative assistant Bonnie Blackberg has decided to retire, also at the end of October, but will be helping out from time to time in the office as a volunteer.

We will soon begin our search for a Canon to the Ordinary, who will report to me, and to whom the other canons will report. His or her duties will include leadership development and congregational development, diocesan staff leadership, strategic planning, coordination of Diocesan Convention (with the Secretary to Convention), and coordination of the Diocesan
Executive Committee and Executive Committee meetings.

As noted, I have proposed a position for Canon for Christian Formation and Youth. Although the Statement of Mission does not currently provide funding for this position, I pray that you will work with me to find the funds we need for this important position. Education at every level of our Christian journey is vital to the health of our Church, and our youth are among our most precious assets.

Finally, fiscal transparency is imperative. In that spirit, I intend for the Statement of Mission to reflect a separate line item for the cost of each diocesan staff member. This will begin with the Statement of Mission to be considered at the upcoming Convention in October. I believe it is important for you to know the financial resources you are investing in each of these staff members, as you know the financial resources you are investing in me.

When I return from the House of Bishop’s meeting in Phoenix, AZ (9/13‐9/22), I will be posting an organizational chart on the diocesan website that describes the working relationships among staff members as well as each staff member’s job description. This transition will unfold in the coming weeks and will undoubtedly include some bumps along the way, but I know that we will have your prayers, patience and support as we move forward.

Above all, “press on towards the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus” in prayer, fellowship, learning, worship and service. In the meantime, please consider your diocesan staff resources for the journey, and let all of us know how we can better serve you.

Faithfully yours,

The Rt. Rev. W. Andrew Waldo, Bishop

The Episcopal Diocese of Upper South Carolina

So, gone is the "Canon for Communications." And how about the possibility of outsourcing "the teaching, training and primary message‐formation aspects of the task to a firm that specializes in these high‐level communications activities"? I wonder what firms he might have in mind? I can not imagine a "conservative" or "orthodox" leaning firm getting the job. Even so, I would like to put in a plug for the good folks at the South Carolina Anglican Network who might help set up a similar resource for +Upper SC. Or maybe we could ask the good folks at StandFirm in Faith to help straighten out our communications network.

Gone also is the "Canon to the Ordinary." At what size should a diocese have one of those anyway?

And finally, gone is the "Canon for Liturgy, Leadership and Development Formation." PTL.

As I read the usual platitudes about the recently departed, I do so with the appreciation that they are being given a gracious send off in hopes of helping them land other positions. Many a resume will include glowing letters of recommendation from former employers, but you know that there must be an untold story behind the word "former."

Bishop Waldo uses the typical smokescreen of "the economy" to cover any skeletons hiding in the diocesan closet, but we all know that the decline of the Episcopal church is to blame for any decline in the budget, and the decline of the church is due to the failures of its shepherds.

Do declining dioceses need all those Canons of This, That, and the Other Thing? Of course not. Declining dioceses need Gospel spreading church growers and planters. The problem lies with the Episcopal bag of seed that has been handed to the planters. The current gospel of fuzzy uncertainty with all of its baggage of social activism, radical abortion touting seminary deans, unrepentant priests and bishops openly living in sin, and the swirling drama about same sex blessings is an awfully hard thing to sell to the unchurched, and even if you were to try to plant it, such seed will not grow.

Bishop Waldo is off to a good start, but he needs to look around at the other things that are at the root of the decline of the church. Until he can recognize why the train jumped the tracks, and can discover for himself the foundational problems in this diorama, we can look forward to  more derailments along the line for the Waldo Express.

From "Banish Derailments on Your Model Railroad," Model Railroader Magazine 2003

Since fall is looking so promising, I wonder what spring cleaning will look like?

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Litugical Innovations

In what seemed like a minor change in the usual Sunday service, the rector announced that for the next several weeks we will be part of a little liturgical experiment. Some bishop from some other part of T.E.c. (I think he said Oklahoma) has written new Offertory Sentences and new Proper Prefaces (for the Eucharistic Prayer) that purportedly tie in with the Revised Common Lectionary readings for the day. Bishop Waldo of Upper South Carolina has given permission to use these with the caveat that discussion of the changes be held at some future date.

If you missed it, today's readings included Jeremiah 4:11-12,22-28, Psalm 14, 1 Timothy 1:12-17, and Luke 15:1-10.

The new Offertory Sentence was,
"This saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners."
The new Proper Preface was,
"It is right and a good and joyful thing, always and everywhere to give thanks to you, Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth.  For through your Son Jesus Christ your grace and love overflow to us. Through him, we who were lost have been found and welcomed into the presence of your heavenly feast. Therefore we rejoice with the angels and with all those in heaven, as we sing this hymn to proclaim the glory of your name."
Since new material will be added each week, and memories are short, it seems like a good thing for me to compile these things here. Comments can be developed and saved for the end of the experiment "discussion." Given the history of Episcopal innovations, it is unlikely that comments will change the outcome of this particular "experiment."

Despite knowing that resistance is futile, I want to voice a few concerns.

1. The Preface for 09/12/2010 is a bit soft and mushy, Pablum, when compared to the powerful call for sinners to repent that we heard in Luke 15.
Now all the tax-collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to him. And the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, ‘This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them.’

 So he told them this parable: ‘Which one of you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the one that is lost until he finds it? When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders and rejoices. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbours, saying to them, “Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.” Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who need no repentance.
 ‘Or what woman having ten silver coins, if she loses one of them, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it? When she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbours, saying, “Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.” Just so, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.’
The Preface, like our rector's nineteen minute sermon today, ignores the importance of repentance of sin. When Jesus dined with sinners, it was for their sake, that they might repent and sin no more. When we come to the Lord's Supper, we come as repentant sinners. Unless we are reminded that this meal comes with a price, we run the risk of serving Pablum in place of the Body and Blood of our Lord and Saviour.

2. I am not sure about the part of the Preface that says,
"For through your Son Jesus Christ your grace and love overflow to us."
I get a mental picture of an overheated pot of grace and love bubbling over onto the stove-top.

3. Little innovations have a way of opening the door to bigger ones.

4. As the people in the pews always do, we will nod and take it as long as it sounds nice.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Infant Baptism, Pelagianism, Good and Evil

In a piece that reaches beyond the question of infant baptism into the deeper issues of sin and evil, Alan Wilson at the Guardian (the link may not work so go to to view the entire article) raises the following points (emphasis added):
"Christian life begins with baptism. The Book of Common Prayer (BCP) baptism liturgy used to fill Sunday afternoons up and down the land, and it's still worth trying to understand what Cranmer thought he was doing and the view of humanity that underlies his book."
So there is the answer to the age old question, "When does life begin?"

 "Cranmer required that baptism be administered freely, or to use a weasel word popularised in the 1960's, 'indiscriminately,' to babies...
...Cranmer's baptismal liturgy, above all, is a trenchant expression of western Augustinianism. It rejects utterly the Pelagianism that has fascinated the English since the fifth century. Pelagianism indicates how God ought to work if he had any common sense."
You have to love that definition of Pelagianism. It is a lot shorter than the description found at the Catholic Encyclopedia, but lacking in the needed clarity of Theopedia's which I include below:
"Pelagianism views humanity as basically good and morally unaffected by the Fall. It denies the imputation of Adam's sin, original sin, total depravity, and substitutionary atonement. It simultaneously views man as fundamentally good and in possession of libertarian free will."
Let's check out some excerpts from Cranmer's Baptismal liturgy from the 1549 BCP,
"DEARE beloved, forasmuche as all men bee conceyved and borne in sinne, and that no manne borne in synne, can entre into the kingdom of God (except he be regenerate, and borne anewe of water, and the holy ghost) I beseche you to call upon God the father through our Lord Jesus Christ, that of his bounteouse mercy he wil graunt to these children that thing, which by nature they cannot have, that is to saye, they may be baptised with the holy ghost, and receyved into Christes holy Church, and be made lyvely membres of the same...
Feminists, please bear with Cranmer and his talk of "men" and "manne."
¶ N. Receyve the signe of the holy Crosse, both in thy forehead, and in thy breste, in token that thou shalt not be ashamed to confesse thy fayth in Christe crucifyed, and manfully to fyght under his banner against synne, the worlde, and the devill, and to continewe his faythfull soldiour and servaunt unto thy lyfes ende. Amen...
Then let the priest lokyng upon the chyidren, saye. 
I COMMAUNDE thee, uncleane spirite, in the name of the father, of the sonne, and of the holy ghost, that thou come out, and departe from these infantes, whom our Lord Jesus Christe hath vouchsaved, to call to his holy Baptisme, to be made membres of his body, and of his holy congregacion. Therfore thou cursed spirite, remembre thy sentence, remembre thy judgemente, remembre the daye to be at hande, wherin thou shalt burne in fyre everlasting, prepared for thee and thy Angels. And presume not hereafter to exercise any tyrannye towarde these infantes, whom Christe hathe bought with his precious bloud, and by this his holy Baptisme calleth to be of his flocke."
Cool language and wording. We have lost a lot over the centuries. That "manfully fyght" in particular, and whatever happened to that stuff about commanding the unclean spirit out of the child? Oh yeah, children are basically good,  innocent creatures.
Alan Wilson continues (please use a slightly British accent while reading the following),
"...Faith would be a call for everyone to pull their socks up and do their best, engendering a vague feeling that going to Church is somehow doing God a favour. The flip side of this tosh is that anyone who fails to set a good example and is caught should be pilloried with self-righteous indignation pour encourager les autres – another English carry-on that would not appeal to St Augustine. Pelagianism is a whole attitude to God and humanity. It lives not only in Church, but in tabloid newspapers and school league tables.
Augustine, by contrast, observes that all human beings experience a gap between aspiration and performance that goes beyond their capacity to pull their socks up. Salvation is a gift of grace, not a reward. People may dispute exactly what grace is and how they get it, but Augustine's bottom line is that Salvation is wrought by free grace not human endeavour. BCP baptism is as much about whether God believes in the baby as whether the baby believes in God, something we may confidently assert it can't. No moral effort, no certitude of belief, could rescue humanity. God "sees that we put not our trust in any thing that we do", not even good things..."
God is in charge during any baptism, infant, teen, or adult.
."..Augustine's anthropology insistently reminds us of our human fallibility, and the underlying possibility of evil that we sometimes shrug our shoulders and call "human nature." This is not just about fiddling expenses. It describes the catastrophic moral failures of the twentieth century – its holocausts, gulags and killing fields. The horror was usually perpetrated by honest zealots, with the highest of ideals, but with a simple inability to believe they could, as modern enlightened people, do anything truly evil."

As one reflects on how many of those involved in such horrors were once baptised themselves, it also reminds us how often we walk away from our baptism and fall right back into sin.

"People should be free as air to dispute the existence of God, as they have since the Book of Job. I find it disconcerting however, dangerous even, if people dispute the existence of evil, and the possibility of their own deeds being evil..."
I didn't know that the Book of Job caused that many issues with the question of God's existence. At any rate, if there is no evil, then there is no need for repentance, Baptism, or the cross.

I support infant baptism in part because we have the examples of Paul baptising entire households in Acts 16:14-15, again in Acts 16:33, and again in 1Corinthians 1:16. As far as one baptism is concerned, I also think that a literal daily re-baptism to wash away the sins of the previous day, while for some of us would be helpful, might not be needed once one acknowledges and gives thanks to God daily for our first baptism and for washing us in his blood. There are also the words we recite in the Nicene Creed, "We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins" to remind us of how the Church settled this matter long ago.  As long as I am ever mindful of that, I shouldn't have to dive into the baptismal pool or be sprinkled from the font for a second time.

The current BCP version of the Baptism offers us a chance to renew our vows during another's baptism. I am still left wondering if a literal re-dunking might be helpful for some as they recommit their lives to Christ. I don't think Cranmer would have wasted his type-setter's time and cost to add a liturgy for a second trip to the font to the BCP, but what if he had?

And what if he had a liturgical committee to help him with the BCP? Imagine the novelties they might have suggested.

Just think of all the innovations Anglicans missed out on for all those years.

We can fix that, and I'm afraid we will.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Missing Links and a Partial Birth Psalm

Today's sermon was delivered by our deacon who focused on Luke 14:25-33 but skipped referring to Philemon 1-21 except to comment that he, like Paul, was "doing this as an old man."

I found Fr. Dan Martins sermon on Philemon 1-21 helpful today, but he did not tie the story of Onesimus to Jesus's message in Luke 14,
So therefore, none of you can become my disciple if you do not give up all your possessions.
Read both lessons and Fr. Dan's sermon and see if you agree that the two do tie together quite well.

Today's Revised Common Lectionary (RCL) puzzler involves Psalm 139 which was presented in a cut down version for Sunday by leaving out verses 6-12 and 19-24, but for some reason, our church bulletin put in verse 6 and left out verse 13.

Here are the verses we read today (the church used a different translation),
1 O Lord, you have searched me and known me.
2 You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
you discern my thoughts from far away.
3 You search out my path and my lying down,
and are acquainted with all my ways.
4 Even before a word is on my tongue,
O Lord, you know it completely.
5 You hem me in, behind and before,
and lay your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
it is so high that I cannot attain it.

14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
that I know very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes beheld my unformed substance.
In your book were written
all the days that were formed for me,
when none of them as yet existed.
17 How weighty to me are your thoughts, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
18 I try to count them—they are more than the sand;
I come to the end—I am still with you.
Now that all sounds relatively tame, and it goes down well with cheese puffs at coffee hour, but there is the problem of the missing verses, one of which appears to be a significant omission. Of course that just happens to be verse 13.
13 For it was you who formed my inward parts;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I think we need this verse to remember to give thanks to the Creator of all, and to acknowledge that it is His creation in the womb. Absent this, might it not be altogether too easy to go down the path which leads to the destruction of God's creation in the womb?

Verses 7-12 are nice and perhaps got left out to shorten the service.
7 Where can I go from your spirit?
Or where can I flee from your presence?
8 If I ascend to heaven, you are there;
if I make my bed in Sheol, you are there.
9 If I take the wings of the morning
and settle at the farthest limits of the sea,
10 even there your hand shall lead me,
and your right hand shall hold me fast.
11 If I say, ‘Surely the darkness shall cover me,
and the light around me become night’,
12 even the darkness is not dark to you;
the night is as bright as the day,
for darkness is as light to you.
The end of the Psalm has that imprecatory tone that usually goes unheard on Sundays.
19 O that you would kill the wicked, O God,
and that the bloodthirsty would depart from me—
20 those who speak of you maliciously,
and lift themselves up against you for evil!
21 Do I not hate those who hate you, O Lord?
And do I not loathe those who rise up against you?
22 I hate them with perfect hatred;
I count them my enemies.
23 Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my thoughts.
24 See if there is any wicked way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.
Cutting up the Psalms in such a way does more harm than good. It is a bit like taking God's creation, examining it before it sees the light of day, and preventing parts of it from coming alive in the ears of Sunday worshippers. There is a modern word for that...

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Breaking News

From The State.

"Bishop clears way for cathedral to dissolve relationship with Trinity dean."
 "The bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Upper South Carolina cleared the way today for Trinity Episcopal Cathedral to dissolve its 11-year relationship with the Very Rev. Philip C. Linder, the dean who was suspended in July.
Bishop W. Andrew Waldo lifted his original suspension — for violating a pastoral directive not to speak to members about a growing leadership conflict — and indicated he would not file formal disciplinary charges against Linder."

Read it all.


Pagan Pride Day?

H/t to Kendall Harmon and T19

Okay, I have to admit that I am not a fan of anything that appends the word "Pride" to a cause, a celebration, or a parade. This particular "Pagan Pride Day" occurred in Nanaimo last weekend. Nanimo is located in Vancouver Island, and otherwise looks like a nice place to visit.

Except for this:

If you click on the poster, you might notice the image of a cross (following the "N" in the word "Pagan").

I guess the cross is there to attract christian pagans, pagan christians, christopagans, or some other oppressed group that our progressive church has not yet won over. I wonder if they will borrow a page from T.E.c.  road signs and use "The Pagan Church Welcomes You" as a motto.

They do appear to be a welcoming "church." You can even join them and drink the witches' brew available at the Temple of the Green Cauldron in Nanimo. As they say,
"This is a great time to come out, meet and greet and ask questions. Bring along your tarot, runes or whatever you like for a witches show and tell!"
Sorry that I missed it.

A browse through the temple's web pages will either raise a smile or a groan as you read,
"The Temple of The Green Cauldron is authorized by the Province of British Columbia through our parent organization the Congregationalist Wiccan Association of British Columbia, to perform legal marriages."
I had to
"Temple marriages and handfastings are religious ceremonies in the Wiccan faith, and are performed by ordained Clergy."

Handfasting? Is that just during Lent?
"The Temple of The Green Cauldron supports the right of all loving couples to be legally wed, in accordance with the laws of Canada, regardless of gender or sexual orientation."

This is beginning to sound very familiar.
"Please book well in advance and request additional information from info at
There is no fee charged for handfastings, but a minimum donation of $50 is encouraged.
Travel expenses from Nanaimo and return are the responsibility of the couple."

They must have read the tea leaves because they knew what my next question would be,
"The CWABC on Polyamorous Marriage

The CWABC, as a Wiccan religious organization, supports as an article of faith, as stated in the Charge of the Goddess, that “all acts of love and pleasure” are the Goddess’ rituals.

To us this means that any form of love or sexuality that is non-abusive, and non-coercive, between consenting adults, is acceptable and even desirable. This includes, but is not limited to, relationships that are heterosexual or homosexual, relationships that are monogamous or polyamorous, and relationships that are alternative or conventional.
We have some clergy in T.E.c. who would love this! I wonder how much it would cost to ship a couple of our consenting Episcopal bishops to Vancouver Island for some CPE?
Our clergy can, and will, perform any kind of Pagan-oriented or Pagan-multifaith marriage ceremony within the bounds of the law. However, the law currently forbids legally recognized clergy from presiding over any ceremony that bears any sort of resemblance to a wedding between more than two partners. For this reason, and only this reason, our religious representatives, as recognized by the Province of British Columbia, cannot perform polyamorous handfastings, or even handfastings between two people when one of the parties involved is still legally married to someone else.

Can't they come up with an incantation to get that law changed?
If we are approached to perform such a ceremony, we will refer the interested parties to clergy within our Church, or to qualified individuals within the Pagan community, who do not have legal marrying credentials from the Province of British Columbia."
Sounds a bit like the same sex blessing advice being handed out by certain Episcopal priests and bishops as a "generous pastoral response" to same sex couples. The unspoken promise of T.E.c. is similar, "We will find a way to bless whatever it is you want blessed."
I have faith that this false teaching, like those forthcoming false liturgies for same sex blessings in the Episcopal church, will ultimately fail. The further we stray from the faith of our fathers, the more similarities we find between us and the pagan religions. I seem to recall a whole lot of O.T. stories about what happens when we start worshipping sacred poles and such. I pray that people will open their hearts to Jesus and close their ears to the wiccan's call.

Oops, I have to run and feed Pyewacket...

I just wonder if tarot cards can tell them what I think about the cross on that poster?