Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Digging Deeper: Dogwoods / Dagwoods / Whipple Trees

The dogwoods are blooming like crazy in our neck of the woods. Despite the passage of a recent cold front, this remains one of the loveliest times of the year (unless you suffer from allergies). It is also a good time to hunt for baby dogwoods in the woods, dig one up, and give it a new home in your yard.

I captured this one last week using a cell phone camera.
And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. - Matthew 6:29
From Wikipedia,
"The name 'dog-tree' entered English vocabulary by 1548, and had been further transformed to 'dogwood' by 1614. Once the name dogwood was affixed to the tree, it soon acquired a secondary name as the Hound's Tree, while the fruits came to be known as dogberries or houndberries (the latter a name also for the berries of Black nightshade and alluding to Hecate's hounds). One theory advances that 'dogwood' was derived from dagwood, from the use of the slender stems of very hard wood for making 'dags' (daggers, skewers, arrows) .[Vedel, H., & Lange, J. (1960). Trees and Bushes in Wood and Hedgerow. Metheun & Co. Ltd., London.]"
It seems that if you scratch the surface of something beautiful, you sometimes turn up something painful, and sometimes that might be the handiwork of man.
"Another earlier name of the dogwood in English is the whipple-tree. Geoffrey Chaucer uses the word whippletree in The Canterbury Tales ('The Knight's Tale', verse 2065) to refer to the dogwood. A large item made of dogwood, the whippletree, still bears the name of the tree from which it is carved. A whippletree is an element of the traction of a horse-drawn cart, which links the drawpole of the cart to the harnesses of the horses in file."
Happy hunting!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Help Wanted

In our April Newsletter, our rector announced his retirement effective June 30, 2011.

This, in light of recent vacancies at Good Shepherd in York and St. Matthias in Rock Hill, means that three of four Episcopal churches in York County will be "leaderless," at least as far as dog-collars go.

There will probably be Meribah and Massah (Exodus 17:7) moments as we wander about for the next few months to years.

Join me in praying to our one and only leader, the Lord Jesus Christ, that we might be delivered from the wilderness.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Episcopal Church of Canada Eh?

This gave me a chuckle this morning.

h/t to Deep Prie-Dieu...

From the Anglican Journal,

"I submit that it is time for us to be fully grown up and give thanks for all we have received from the Church of England, and others, but have a name that more truly expresses who we are. I believe that the name, 'The Episcopal Church of Canada,' would do just that." - The Rev. Canon Gordon Baker (read it all)
Canon Gordon Baker is a former editor of the Anglican Journal.

That's what is known as hitching your wagon to a winning race horse.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Christian Pole Dancing?

H/T Liturgical

Full story by Sonja Azad at an ABC affiliate in Houston Tx.

"We found women who said the classes clear their moral compass.

'If someone wants to swing on a pole on Sundays then that's their preference,' class supporter Penny Primeaux said.

And there are those who straddle the subject."

I Defy any Observing Person to Deny These Things.

H/T Erik at J. C. Ryle Quotes.

Many things combine to make the present inroad of false doctrine peculiarly dangerous.

1) There is an undeniable zeal in some of the teachers of error: their "earnestness" makes many think they must be right.

2) There is a great appearance of learning and theological knowledge: many fancy that such clever and intellectual men must surely be safe guides.

3) There is a general tendency to free thought and free inquiry in these latter days: many like to prove their independence of judgment, by believing novelties.

4) There is a wide-spread desire to appear charitable and liberal-minded: many seem half ashamed of saying that anybody can be in the wrong.

5) There is a quantity of half-truth taught by the modern false teachers: they are incessantly using. Scriptural terms and phrases in an unscriptural sense.

6) There is a morbid craving in the public mind for a more sensuous, ceremonial, sensational, showy worship: men are impatient of inward, invisible heart-work.

7) There is a silly readiness in every direction to believe everybody who talks cleverly, lovingly and earnestly, and a determination to forget that Satan often masquerades himself "as an angel of light" (2 Corinthians 11:14).

8) There is a wide-spread "gullibility" among professing Christians: every heretic who tells his story plausibly is sure to be believed, and everybody who doubts him is called a persecutor and a narrow-minded man.

All these things are peculiar symptoms of our times. I defy any observing person to deny them. They tend to make the assaults of false doctrine in our day peculiarly dangerous. They make it more than ever needful to cry aloud, "Do not be carried away!"

~ J.C. Ryle

Warnings to the Churches, “Divers and Strange Doctrines”, [Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1967], 76, 77.

John Charles Ryle - (1816-1900), was the first Anglican bishop of Liverpool.

I am humbled by the timelessness of Ryle's observations. I deny that these things are "peculiar" symptoms of his times alone since I believe these things are not peculiar to the late 1800's but are widespread (at least in the Episcopal church) to this day, and that is a truth that is undeniable.

I guess only a few people listen when you cry aloud,

"Do not be carried away!"

But nobody listens when you are silent, and the result of silence is that more will get carried away.

Monday, March 21, 2011

A Public Service Announcement: Zombies Ahead

The local paper, The Herald, posted a picture today of an electonic road sign that somehow got hacked into or tampered with, and the message, "Zombies Ahead" was displayed for local drivers.

See the images at The Herald.

Was that sign near your place or mine?

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Lectionary Excisions

Today's sermon was delivered by our Deacon who did a good job with the story of Nicodemus and the "born again" question in John 3:1-17. Not bad for someone coming back from major surgery. I still wonder if many have their foundation firmly established enough so that when asked, "Have you been born again, and are you saved?" they can proclaim in the affirmative, "Yes I have been born again, and Christ is my Saviour!" I suspect our Deacon is correct in saying that many Episcopalians tend to want to run when the subject comes up.

The saving grace of our Lord is a gift from above that is recognized by those being reborn. It is such a wonderful gift that people have to pass it on, even to strangers on the street.

The lectionary editors, in their wisdom, excised part of the gift today when the service called for the reading of Romans 4:1-5,13-17.
What then are we to say was gained by Abraham, our ancestor according to the flesh? For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the scripture say? ‘Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness.’ Now to one who works, wages are not reckoned as a gift but as something due. But to one who without works trusts him who justifies the ungodly, such faith is reckoned as righteousness.
*cut verses here*
For the promise that he would inherit the world did not come to Abraham or to his descendants through the law but through the righteousness of faith. If it is the adherents of the law who are to be the heirs, faith is null and the promise is void. For the law brings wrath; but where there is no law, neither is there violation.
For this reason it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his descendants, not only to the adherents of the law but also to those who share the faith of Abraham (for he is the father of all of us, as it is written, ‘I have made you the father of many nations’)—in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist.
Paul's reasoning is undermined by excising all the talk about circumcision in verses 6-12,
So also David speaks of the blessedness of those to whom God reckons righteousness irrespective of works:
‘Blessed are those whose iniquities are forgiven,
and whose sins are covered;
blessed is the one against whom the Lord will not reckon sin.’
Is this blessedness, then, pronounced only on the circumcised, or also on the uncircumcised? We say, ‘Faith was reckoned to Abraham as righteousness.’ How then was it reckoned to him? Was it before or after he had been circumcised? It was not after, but before he was circumcised. He received the sign of circumcision as a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. The purpose was to make him the ancestor of all who believe without being circumcised and who thus have righteousness reckoned to them, and likewise the ancestor of the circumcised who are not only circumcised but who also follow the example of the faith that our ancestor Abraham had before he was circumcised.
The letter to the Romans is hard enough to follow without modern day redactors messing with it by trying to protect our virgin ears on Sunday morning by cutting away the unpleasant bits.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

SCLM: You Get What You Voted For

This is really scary. The task force developing resources for same sex blessings in the Episcopal church today completed a two day meeting in Atlanta. They have posted videos of the meeting, and I would call session 3 to your attention. If you can endure the first 8 minutes and 30 seconds then you will get to the results of their survey on what is going on right now in the Episcopal church and if people and clergy want "educational materials" for their congregation. Here are some of the results of this "survey."

Has your congregation had same gender blessings in your parish?

23.2% said yes

Of those 55.2% engaged in a congregation education process before doing the blessing.

55.6% say they do not need educational material before doing same gender blessings.

25.5% do prepare same gender couples before a blessing.

66% Prepare same gender couples the same way they prepare mixed gender couples.

Here are the top three dioceses who sent in responses.

3rd place with 24 respondants Diocese of Western Michigan

2nd place with 31 respondants Diocese of Ohio

1st place with 69 respondants Diocese of SC! (see it at minute 15:30) They win the stuffed monkey! WHEEEEEHAH
The scary thing is that "preparation process" and the example of how a New Hampshire curmudgeon was converted through the power of "conversation." (minute 4:15)

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Theological Principles? on Liturgies for Blessing Same Sex Couplings

The Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music of the Episcopal Church, with the able bodied assistance of our assistant priest and youth minister, has been busy spending your money developing liturgies for same sex blessings.

The following is available on their blog, and was picked up by the elves at T19 on March 10, 2011 (go there to see all of the comments).

TEC Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music
Addressing General Convention Resolution C056, Liturgies for Blessing
Outline of Theological Principles
December 31, 2010
I. Baptismal Grounding
The Christian life is rooted in the sacrament of baptism, an effective sign of our participation in God’s mission in the world and a reminder of our hope for the fulfillment of all things in God-in-Christ. Every covenant and commitment we make as Christians offers an opportunity to live out our baptismal covenant in new ways.
Is Christian life grounded in the sacrament of baptism? I agree with comment #13 at T19 who wrote, "Christianity is radical because it is rooted in the person of Jesus Christ."

The watering down of the Book of Common Prayer in 1979 may be one reason why progressive thought has come to the point where when they really can't figure something out, they fall back on the argument that they are living into their Baptismal Covenant. In particular, they are prone to focus on:
"Will you strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being?" (p. 305),
and ignore:
"Will you continue in the apostles’ teaching..." (p. 304).
The "justice" argument is one that often comes up in discussions of same sex blessings.
The "justice" clause is just one of many changes to what was "The Ministration of Holy Baptism" in the 1928 BCP.
Gone are the words,
"Wilt thou then obediently keep God's holy will and commandments, and walk in the same all the days of thy life?"
The 1928 wording of the following prayer was too powerful for the progressives in 1979,
O MERCIFUL God, grant that like as Christ died and rose again, so this Child (this thy Servant) may die to sin and rise to newness of life. Amen.
Grant that all sinful affections may die in him, and that all things belonging to the Spirit may live and grow in him. Amen.
Grant that he may have power and strength to have victory, and to triumph, against the devil, the world, and the flesh. Amen.
Grant that whosoever is here dedicated to thee by our office and ministry, may also be endued with heavenly virtues, and everlastingly rewarded, through thy mercy, O blessed Lord God, who dost live, and govern all things, world without end. Amen.
The 1979 Prayer Book changes weakened the description of our basis of faith and diminished the teaching of the need for true repentance and renewal, impossible without Christ, and these changes are key to understanding the present day highjacking of the Baptismal Covenant by those espousing same sex blessings.

II. Theological Retrieval
Rooting the blessing of covenantal relationships in baptism suggests a fruitful retrieval of three key touchstones from Christian history concerning the significance of those covenants, including same-gender relationships:
I am cannot find much theology to retrieve here.
1. The sacramental character of covenantal relationships (committed relationships make God’s presence and divine grace visible);
This is totally backwards.
It is only once we are regenerate by the grace of God through Christ that we can truly love our neighbor as ourselves. The love of one's neighbor is evidence of the power of God's grace in our lives.
2. The Trinitarian imprint of covenantal life (the perpetual and mutual self-giving and other-receiving of the Holy Trinity);
But didn't the 1979 BCP change the wording used at the giving of the ring from:
WITH this Ring I thee wed: In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen. (1928 BCP)
to this:
I give you this ring as a symbol of my vow, and with all
that I am, and all that I have, I honor you, in the Name of
the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit (or in the
Name of God). (1979 BCP p.427 h/t Nwlayman)
The Holy Trinity has been optional since 1979.
3. The eschatological vision inspired and evoked by covenantal relationship (the desire that leads us to commit ourselves to another person reflects the human desire and hope for union with God-in-Christ).
This is total nonsense. All in all, I would say the past 3 points are anti-theological.
III. Renewing the Church’s Theological Reflection
Retrieving the sacramental character, Trinitarian imprint, and eschatological vision in committed relationships can renew the church’s theological reflection on covenantal relationships, including same-gender unions, with these five key principles:
The strawman appears. If one takes the earlier three points as establishing a solid theological basis for covenental relationships and same-gender unions, then you can move on to the next five points. If however, you can see that this is a strawman, the following points can be ignored.
• Vocation: People are called into long-term committed relationships, as a vocation;
• Covenant-making: Loving faithfulness can participate in and reflect God’s own covenantal commitment to God’s creation;
Thank God for his covenant. All these human covenants pale in comparison.
• Households: Covenants create households as “schools of virtue” for life-long formation in spiritual discipline nurtured by divine grace;
No, CONVENTS, not covenants, are households and “schools of virtue” for life-long formation in spiritual discipline nurtured by divine grace;
• Fruitfulness: Faithful love in relationship enables the offering of countless gifts to the wider community that would not be possible in the same way apart from that relationship, including: lives of service, compassion, generosity, and hospitality;
No mention of the fruitfulness of procreation.
• Mutual Blessing: The liturgical blessing of a covenantal relationship acknowledges the fruits of the Spirit in that relationship and in turn becomes a blessing to the faith community, strengthening the community for its mission and ministry in the world.
So far there is no evidence that this is a fruit of the Spirit since there is no evidence of confirmation through careful study of scripture, nor is there any evidence that same sex covenantal relationships will strengthen the mission of the Church.

IV. Summary of Theological Principles
Covenantal relationships are one way for Christians to live out their baptismal calling in the world. As the Church discerns the fruits of the Spirit in faithful commitments – such as households marked by compassion, generosity, and hospitality – these commitments become a blessing to the wider community. Blessing covenantal relationships, including same-gender unions, thus belongs to the mission of the Church in its ongoing witness to the good news of God-in-Christ and the Christian hope of union with God.
My summary: There is no theological principle contained in this Outline of Theological Principles.

Next, having established principles built upon straw, they move on to the next job for the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music;
Addressing General Convention Resolution C056, Liturgies for Blessing
Principles for Evaluating Liturgical Materials
December 31, 2010
Materials proposed for blessing same-gender relationships must above all be consistent with the implicit theology and ecclesiology of the 1979 Book of Common Prayer. This would suggest, for example, that they must reflect the Prayer Book’s underlying assumption that the entire life of the Church finds its origin in the baptismal font.
Here we go again. Another false assumption about baptism.
Nearly as important is that the proposed liturgical materials embody a classically Anglican liturgical ethos and style.
In other words, they want to make these liturgies look, sound, and feel traditional. Of course, they are giving themselves an impossible task. Dress up a skunk and you still have a skunk.
Recognizing the varying notions of what makes public prayer recognizably Anglican, the task group identified these qualities:
• It resonates with Scripture.
The key word here is "resonate." This is sufficiently vague and allows them to ignore scriptural references altogether.
• It has high literary value; is it beautiful according to accepted and respected standards.
No comma splices or incomplete sentences?
• It uses the recurring structures, linguistic patterns, and metaphors of the 1979 BCP.
Vague as well, but intended to dress the skunk.
• It is formal, not casual, conversational, or colloquial.
Does that mean they might throw in a few Thee's and Thou's?
• It has a ritual or sacral register.
I can see the organist now, searching for that "sacral register." This an unfortunate choice of words because the "sacral" region is, in Anatomy class, the area near the tailbone.
• It is dense enough to “carry the freight” of the sacred purpose for which it is intended.
Throw in a few imponderables then.
• It is metaphoric without being obtuse.
Metaphors can go too far. This whole liturgy thing is crying out for some pretty far out metaphors.
• It is performative.
Above all it has to be a great show!
At the same time, these rites must resonate as natural speech in contemporary ears. A sacral register must be achieved without the use of arcane or antiquated words or patterns of speech.
Would it be arcane or antiquated of me to use words like, "Where in the Bible did this come from?"
The rites should provide explanatory notes and rubrics. The material must be considered as the script for an event, not a mere collection of texts.
The proposed rites must be an expression primarily of the entire Church, not the couple seeking a blessing. These rites must allow for robust communal participation, reflecting the Baptismal ecclesiology of the Prayer Book. Related to this, since the Eucharist is the symbol of the unity of the Church though unity with Christ, these services of blessing should normatively be celebrated within the Eucharist.
I think these rites will result in a minimum of two unrepentant sinners presenting themselves unprepared to receive the Eucharist, and that is something that has consequences (1 Corinthians 11:27-30).
These rites must enact the notion of sacramental reciprocity put forth by the C056 Theological Resources Task Group, suggesting that, even as the Church blesses the relationship of the couple, the relationship of the couple is a blessing to the Church.
But, there is no scriptural basis for such an assertion.
Options must be provided so that this action of the entire Church—this common prayer—does not degenerate into a generic rite.
"Degenerate" is another unfortunate choice of words.
The Prayers of the People will be important in this regard, as will other texts. There must be a provision of numerous options.
More options will be needed to fulfill Bishop Gene Robinson's prediction "that it was time to move beyond speaking simply of 'GLBT' (Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgendered) orientations: 'there are so many other letters in the alphabet, there are so many other sexualities to be explored.'" (see earlier post)

I can't take it any longer, so here is the last bit:

The rites must hold up the two people making the covenant as the primary ministers within this action of God and of the entire Church. The rites should give expression to the Church’s understanding that the couple is freely assuming a vocation, which can be expected to yield the fruits of mutual fidelity for the couple, itself, for the Church, and for the entire world, pointing ultimately toward the fulfillment of all human relationships and unity in the eschatological Reign of God, when God will be all-in-all.
They must be what they purport to be—liturgical prayer—not didactic or polemical statements in the guise of liturgy.

For anyone wanting to watch the sinking of the SSb TEc, it will be carried live this Friday and Saturday. Here are the details:

The two-day consultation will center on the 2009 General Convention Resolution C056 to collect and develop theological and liturgical resources for same-gender blessings. The plenary sessions will provide information
about the work the SCLM and its task groups have accomplished to date in developing these resources.
The live webcast will be available
Participating will be nearly 200 clergy and lay deputies from almost 100 dioceses of the Episcopal Church.

Webcast schedule
Plenary sessions are scheduled:
Friday, March 18: 2 pm to 3 pm Eastern and 4:45 pm to 6 pm Eastern (1 pm to 2 pm Central and 3:45 pm to 5
pm Central; noon to 1 pm Mountain and 2:45 pm to 4 pm Mountain; 11 am to noon Pacific and 1:45 pm to 3 pm
Saturday, March 19: 8:30 am to 9:30 am Eastern and 11 am to noon Eastern (7:30 am to 8:30 am Central and
10 am to 11 am Central; 6:30 am to 7:30 am Mountain and 9 am to 10 am Mountain; 5:30 am to 6:30 am Pacific
and 8 am to 9 am Pacific)
In addition, the media conference slated for 2 pm to 2:30 pm Eastern will be live webcast. (1 pm to 1:30 pm
Central; noon to 12:30 pm Mountain; 11 am to 11:30 am Pacific)
The event will be held at the Atlanta Hilton Airport (Diocese of Atlanta).

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Bishop Waldo's Lenten Pastoral Letter

Hidden in the comments section of an earlier post "We Need to Talk, You Must Listen," an anonymous commenter presented Bishop Waldo's "Pastoral Letter" which he/she had been told to read to the congregation on this the first Sunday in Lent. I don't know if that happened or not in their church, but in ours we got the whole thing in place of a sermon. Here is the version I received:

Grace and peace to you in Christ Jesus.
First, thank you to all rectors, vicars or wardens for taking time out of your services to read this pastoral letter to your congregation on this First Sunday in Lent. In the interest of preserving the rhythm of your transition into Lent, this letter hopefully will be relevant to that transition.
Many of us have, in recent years, felt disturbed by the tone and content of public discourse, whether in church or in politics. What we sometimes call dialogue more often closely resembles a shouting match, filled with accusations, assumptions, blame and condemnation. This reality of our age is a visible demonstration of the depth of human sin and alienation and is something of which we should be ashamed. Jesus, on the other hand, called his disciples to a different standard of relationship, telling them that such “is not [to be] so among you; [for] whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all” (Mark 10:43-44). His words are especially startling when we admit that many faithful Christians have given in to discourse that destroys, and they participate willingly in language that even condemns other brothers and sisters in Christ. We are called to show the world a better way.
In the Ash Wednesday liturgy, we prayed that God will “Accept our repentance” for “all false judgments, for uncharitable thoughts toward our neighbors, and for our prejudice and contempt toward those who differ from us.” In the current climate, this is a prayer worth taking to heart. Lent is an appropriate time to meditate on a more Christ-like and compassionate way to treat brothers and sisters with whom we disagree.
This past December, with the approval of the Diocesan Executive Council, I called for a special convention that will be held on Friday, April 8th and 9th, at Christ Church in Greenville, a convention we are calling the 1st Theological Council of the Episcopal Church in Upper South Carolina. The purpose of this Council befits the Lenten themes of repentance, reconciliation and restoration. Tensions in the Episcopal Church have persisted around several issues in our common life, and we either ignore them in hopes they will go away, or we struggle, with difficulty, to hear with compassion how and why others disagree with us. And we make uncharitable assumptions about people. We become indifferent to whether they stay or leave. The Theological Council in April is the beginning of a conversation intended to bring a new and more faithful discipline to our common life and discourse.
At the recent Pre-Lenten clergy retreat, we discussed the upcoming Theological Council, and a priest asked me very simply, “Bishop, what’s at stake for you in this Council?” I believe that many things are at stake, but one thing seems to me to be the very heart of it: Many people hear us say that Christian faith is about love and unity. But it is not always what they see. When we are in tension or disagreement, the face we too often show the world is one of disdain for each other. We do make false judgments. We do hold tightly to uncharitable thoughts. We do show prejudice and contempt toward those who differ from us. In the 1st century A.D., Clement of Rome wrote his own First Letter to the Corinthians, saying love for one another, “does not provoke schisms or form cliques, but always acts in harmony with others.”
So, if we proclaim something but cannot do it, the world will, at best, be disappointed and see us as hypocrites. But, at worst, our actions will make them question the truth and power of the gospel. —The gospel is at stake. — Simply put, we are called to be living witnesses to the truth of the Gospel, in and out of Church, in thought, word, and deed.
The Council I’ve called will help us to articulate as clearly as possible scriptural standards for how we are in relationship with each other. We will then engage them on a difficult topic: same-gender relationships. Decisions on blessing such relationships are on the horizon for the Episcopal Church’s General Convention at Indianapolis in 2012. If we are to meet the challenge that those decisions will place before us with grace, unity and flexibility, we need to know who we are, and to love each other more deeply. The 1st Theological Council will begin our conversation about standards for Christian community. It will engage those standards as we begin to explore what is at stake for each of us—personally— as we continue to encounter challenging issues in the larger Church around gender and sexuality. We will conclude the Council by discussing how we can live up to Christ’s standards without asking each other to sacrifice our deeply held convictions. We will discuss how we can bring what we learn back into our churches throughout the diocese.

The announcement of this Theological Council has inspired many fascinating conversations from which I have learned a great deal. Many people who are not included in the Council have asked to attend. In order to facilitate the most authentic conversation we can, we must create a safe environment, which means limiting who can come. I thank you in advance for understanding and respecting these limitations.
Our expectation is that, following the Council, a similar format will be offered in congregations in order to begin a more open and authentic dialogue and deepen relationships in Christ throughout the diocese. So, I ask that each of you reflect on who you are for each other and for this world. How have you participated in things that separate and destroy? What can you change within yourself that makes the way of Christ more visible? In the meantime, I ask your prayers that this new beginning will not just be fruitful, but that it will be energizing for all of us, no matter where we stand on the issues.
May God bless and keep you and yours in this holy season, and may our celebration of the resurrection at Easter fill us with all joy and peace in believing through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Your brother in Christ,

Andrew Waldo

The bishop will lead us to live with the findings of the next Episcopal General Convention in 2012 by first getting us to agree to not argue over matters, or at least if we do disagree, to respect those who have bought into the "New Thang."

Should we respect a bishop who would condone of heresy?

Should not that bishop himself be called for what he is, or should we remain polite and live and let live?

When someone starts preaching a gospel that is not the gospel that has been handed down to us through the apostles, I think they must be called out. Waldo is headed down the path to getting a major calling out from this pewster.

Yes, there are times one has to get angry, and those are the times when the very Gospel itself is in danger, and I believe that we are in those days. The Aspostle Paul, when dealing with the false teaching that had entered the church in Galatia, used these strong words:
You were running well; who prevented you from obeying the truth? Such persuasion does not come from the one who calls you. A little yeast leavens the whole batch of dough. I am confident about you in the Lord that you will not think otherwise. But whoever it is that is confusing you will pay the penalty. But my friends, why am I still being persecuted if I am still preaching circumcision? In that case the offence of the cross has been removed.

I wish those who unsettle you would castrate themselves! Galatians 5:7-12
St. Paul wrote that in the context of circumcision. I wonder what description he might choose for those who preach the blessings of homosexual unions?

An image appears, but I can't print it.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Kanuga Gives Me the Kreeps

Usually, I try to slow down during Lent and focus on things Holy and true. This year, unholy Lenten reports keep coming in that I feel obliged to pass along as warnings to those who choose to keep a Holy Lent.

Kanuga Conference center and camp and I have been in relationship for 25 years. We have an understanding. Kanuga stays in Hendersonville, and I stay under my rock. I never was comfortable there. Years ago, our church used to hold an annual retreat there. After looking at the types of programs offered, and after looking at my work schedule, I came to the conclusion that it was just as well that I stay home and work whenever one of those retreats was held. On one occasion, the rest of the family wanted to spend some time in the mountains with the church and went to Kanuga, leaving me to have my own personal retreat. Later, upon their return, when I questioned them on their religious experiences during the retreat, they looked puzzled and proceeded to tell me stories of playing cards, drinking, and staying up late, but were unable to tell me one thing that they learned about the Lord.

A few years later, after one of the kids was voted "outstanding camper" during a stay at summer camp at Kanuga, I became convinced that it was the rarified air at Kanuga that was the cause of many serious errors in judgement by the staff and the governing board.

Now I am thinking that darker forces have Kanuga in their grip.

This past week, I found a note on my pew that read,
"Marcus Borg, Cynthia Kittredge among presenters for second National Episcopal Preaching Conference, March 21-24"
The note had all the hallmarks (and the smell) of that gremlin of the garth, Deep Pew. A quick web search pointed to the site of this so-called "preaching conference." You guessed it, Kanuga.

Lookie here, the Rt. Rev. Frank Griswold who was the 25th presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, serving from 1998-2006 will be there too! Guess who he consecrated as the first openly gay, divorced, father, bishop in the Episcopal church?


"Conference speakers will share what drives their preaching and how they stay inspired to make their messages reach a constantly evolving audience."

Yeah, maybe Briggs-Kitteredge can preach on "Moving Forward," the conference on LGBT inclusion in the Episcopal Diocese of Texas, where she was one of the featured speakers last year.

Or maybe she will preach on "A Theology of Marriage including Same-Sex Couples: A View from the Liberals" which she co-authored along with Deirdre J. Good, General Theological Seminary, Eugene F. Rogers, University of North Carolina, Greensboro, and Willis J. Jenkins, Yale Divinity School in that lamentable Episcopal church work "Same-Sex Relationships in the Life of the Church."
To quote:
"We argue that the church should marry same-sex couples, because it requires their testimony to the love of Christ and the church, and because it recognizes that same-sex couples stand in need of sanctification no less than opposite-sex couples. In grafting same-sex marriage onto the domestic rite, the church follows the pattern of God’s grafting wild, Gentile olive branches onto the domesticated olive tree of Israel (Rom 11:24). The church does so because same-sex couples need the sanctification that marriage teaches, and the church needs the marital virtues that same-sex couples are already receiving. We would expand the theology of marriage to include same-sex couples based on our corporate life of faith in the Episcopal Church and our re-reading of the Christian tradition. This vision of marriage is offered not in arrogance, naivetė, or spiritual enthusiasm, but in trust and with hope, as our witness to the mission of Christ."
Low on theology, high on gratification of "needs."

How about Borg? Maybe he can preach about his palliative care plan for "common Christians."
He can start by expounding on his infamous line:
"If their congregation is mostly elderly and unlikely to survive beyond the death of its members, and if their elderly flock is not using 'common Christianity' to judge and beat up on other people, then there may be no need to try to change them. Clergy in situations like this might see themselves as chaplains in an old folks home."
Or maybe he can preach a little about the afterlife. He can take his "I am a committed Christian and a complete agnostic about the afterlife" line for a start and run with it.

The very idea that a supposed Christian conference center would host such a collection of heretics during Lent is terrible and should be condemned.

Yes, Kanuga is Kreepy...stay away...

Monday, March 07, 2011

Since When is the Spring Equinox on the Christian Calendar?

St Michael & All Angels' to host a celebration of the spring equinox, March 20

On Sunday, March 20, St. Michael's and All Angels', Columbia will host a celebration of the spring equinox and pray for the healing of the Earth.

Participants will observe the transition from Winter to Spring at the time when day and night, light and darkness are in balance with prayers for the intention of healing our earth and increasing our awareness of God’s creation as a gift deserving of our stewardship.


03/09/2011 Addendum: The following popped out today as I read Galatians 4:10-11 (King James Version).

"Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years.
I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain."

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

The First Theological Council of Upper SC Part III

In trying to analyze our bishop's latest letter about the upcoming "First Theological Council of Upper SC," I thought back to his address to the 88th Convention of the diocese on October 16, 2010
(available at the EDUSC web pages). His address seems to indicate that the "theological council" is indeed part of a plan to let the diocese go down the path that so many dioceses in TEc have gone before.

"Last March, on my first gathering with the clergy of this diocese we began this dialogue by talking about the norms by which we are called to be in relationship with each other. Among the norms I named were some that are intended to shift the way we talk about the difficult theological issues in the church."
Intended to shift...
"For example, it is not acceptable for left-of-center Christians to scoff or speak sarcastically or dismissively of their more conservative brothers or sisters. Nor is it acceptable for right-of-center Christians to dismissively judge their more liberal brothers and sisters as having abandoned scriptural authority."
Left of center = dismissive
Right of center = judgemental
"There will always be persons on both sides of an issue who have long since lost interest in reconciliation or the ability to let go of what they believe to be an unalterable scriptural or sociological principle. To those, I say that church history is itself a witness to the need for deep humility regarding such claims."
Do you see the strawmen he just created?
"To the rest of us,"
He is trying to set himself in the middle. If he believes that he really sits in the middle, then I have some ocean front property in Fairfield county that I would like to sell him.
"I say that in a spirit of trust and transparency let’s put those things that make us stuck out on the table and speak of them together with evident and disciplined love and respect for one another. This, I think, is true discipleship!"
Hey, that's just what I have been doing! Sometimes you have to hammer your fist on the table to get people to pay attention.
"...I must add that the one voice missing so far from this conversation so far is the open voice of brother and sister Christians who are gay or lesbian."
That is absurd. In fact he recently canned one of the ringleaders of that conversation.
"As we move into further scriptural and theological discussions in the coming months and years, their voice will be needed and invited to the table, and the same norms of evident and disciplined love and respect will apply."
Shades of the "listening process."
"There are of course other areas of tension—how we prioritize our money, how we develop our congregations and evangelize for new membership and new Christians, how we address questions on the relationship between baptism and eucharist, and so forth. There are any number of other things that may or may not make us feel especially stuck, but which do represent challenging opportunities for us to be faithful to Christian koinonia, to our sharing in fellowship and mission within the Body of Christ."
Once again I repeat, like a stuck record, you cannot build a church upon the shifting sands of liberal theology.

Are you listening?