Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The New Normal Meets the Episcopal Organization

In a story which would have stirred up the internet for weeks a few years ago but today makes barely a ripple, the New York Post reports on a rogue Episcopal priest in (aptly) Queens, NY. 
An Episcopal priest shocked his Queens congregation recently when he left his wife and married someone else — a much younger man. The Rev. Juan Andres Quevedo-Bosch, 59, the archdeacon of Queens and rector of the Church of the Redeemer in Astoria (Diocese of Long Island - ed.), announced over Facebook last week that he got married in a Los Angeles church. The Cuban-born prelate was pictured on a beach with the caption: “I’m in Miami Beach with my new husband. God is good.” One churchgoer said many parishioners severed ties to the church after Quevedo-Bosch came out as gay at the pulpit a month ago....
Announced over Facebook, and he didn't even get "married" in his parish church! How thoughtless.

Class act buddy.

The remarkable thing about this story is not that the parish church has shrunk in half between 2003 and 2013 (request the parish stats here), that is to be expected with leadership such as this, but what is interesting, and what is a reflection of how jaded we have become and how accepting of divorce, "coming out," and same sex marriage that the Episcopal church has become, is that this horrible, despicable, and abominable act causes barely a ripple in the denominational interwebs. No discipline, no trial, zip, nada, no discussion, no nothing, just another destroyed parish sacrificed to appease the townsmen of Sodom.

Just another shrug and another "It's not my problem" or another "No big deal."

I would say that TEc has gone to the dogs, but that would be an insult to man's best friend.

As my friend Wallace Hartley put it recently, "Anything Goes."

In olden days a hint of sin  
Was looked on as something that would do you in, 
But now, God knows, Anything Goes. 
Good preachers too who once knew better words, 
Now are free to use use four letter words 
Preaching prose,  Anything Goes. 
The world has gone mad today 
And good's bad today, And black's white today, And day's night today, 
When most guys today, That women prize today, Are not guys at all 
And though I'm not a great romancer, I know that I'd better take care to answer when you propose, Anything goes 
When grandma whose age is eighty 
Hangs out in clubs getting matey with ladies, 
Anything Goes. 
When mothers pack and leave their men  
Because they decide they'd rather be lesbian, 
Anything Goes. 
If driving high you like, If gay bars you like, If old hims you like, If bare feet you like, 
If Miley Cyrus you like, Or me undressed you like, 
Why, nobody will oppose! 
When every night the set that's neat is dressing like a nudist party in heat, 
Anything Goes. 
If same-sex marriage you like, If gender neutrality you like, If old queens you like, If teenage trannies you like, If love affairs with young bears you like, 
Why nobody will oppose!
And though I'm not a great romancerI know that I'd better take care to answer when you propose,
Anything goes

Sunday, July 26, 2015

1♂ + 1♀ = 4Ever

Pride is one of the sins of mankind and nothing gripes me more than a "Pride Parade." I must admit however, that these are an effective means of creating support for a minority position.

Now that the open expression of support for traditional marriage is under attack, I have a proposal that may make some cringe,

A "Traditional Marriage Pride Day" and parade!

We need a logo and a T-shirt, so I came up with this,

1♂ + 1♀ = 4Ever

Next I need to find a gay T-shirt print shop owner and ask him to make the first hundred.

Then we need to design a flag. I'm putting that out there for ideas.

I can see it now, hundreds of  married heterosexuals, some of them in wheelchairs and walkers, going down the avenue, presenting a wholesome and positive image for the gathered throngs.

Of course, there will be organized hecklers, ridicule, and occasional spitting, but we won't let that rain on our parade.

Whatcha think? 

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

“Ethical Non-Monogamy.”

The title to this post comes from a Washington Post article, "Are new dating apps killing monogamy? Or has it always been dead?" It appears that current sexual ethics say that you can have your cake and eat it too as long as it sounds right to you which is not too far removed from that 1960's slogan, "If it feels good, do it!"
In 2010, Jessie approached her husband with an idea she called “ethical non-monogamy.” They would stay together as each other’s primary, lifelong partners, but they wouldn’t rule out other relationships — as long as they happened openly. Jessie has shown her husband her profile on several dating sites, including Open Minded. When she returns from her weekly date with one of her four extramarital partners, she tells him as much, or as little, as he likes.  
Publicly, no one knows about this arrangement. (It’s why we have agreed to just use her first name in this story.) Jessie doesn’t plan to tell her children, though she could see it coming up one day. She and her husband still have sex, still go to social functions, still celebrate anniversaries. 
But that whole thing about “the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law . . . so long as he liveth”? To that, Jessie says no thanks.
 Jessie has some advice: Talk to your partner about monogamy. Listen “without judgment.” Keep, in all cases, an open mind.
“Whichever it is, make a real choice,” she said. “We’re told we only have enough love for one person. Does that sound right to you?”

I have some advice for Jessie. Before she eats that cake, she should mark and inwardly digest the words of Jesus,
"Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female,  and said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh?  Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder." (Matthew 19)

Sunday, July 19, 2015

The Second Most Mysterious Extra-human Character in Sacred Literature?

A few weeks ago I was working my way through Leviticus when I revisited the story of the scapegoat (Leviticus 16:6-10, 20-22),
“And Aaron shall offer the bull as a sin offering for himself, and shall make atonement for himself and for his house. 7 Then he shall take the two goats, and set them before the Lord at the door of the tent of meeting; 8 and Aaron shall cast lots upon the two goats, one lot for the Lord and the other lot for Aza′zel. 9 And Aaron shall present the goat on which the lot fell for the Lord, and offer it as a sin offering; 10 but the goat on which the lot fell for Aza′zel shall be presented alive before the Lord to make atonement over it, that it may be sent away into the wilderness to Aza′zel. 
20 “And when he has made an end of atoning for the holy place and the tent of meeting and the altar, he shall present the live goat; 21 and Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat, and confess over him all the iniquities of the people of Israel, and all their transgressions, all their sins; and he shall put them upon the head of the goat, and send him away into the wilderness by the hand of a man who is in readiness. 22 The goat shall bear all their iniquities upon him to a solitary land; and he shall let the goat go in the wilderness.
In my earlier study groups, we skipped over the subject of Aza'zel and focused on the scapegoat, and I think we ignore him because there does not seem to be any New Testament correlation for us. Maybe looking through the eyes of Jewish writers on him might be helpful, The following is from "The unedited full-text of the 1906 Jewish Encyclopedia" which presents several interpretations,
The name of a supernatural being mentioned in connection with the ritual of the Day of Atonement (Lev. xvi.). After Satan, for whom he was in some degree a preparation, Azazel enjoys the distinction of being the most mysterious extrahuman character in sacred literature.
I guess that pushes the Nephilim down a notch.
Unlike other Hebrew proper names, the name itself is obscure.
The Rabbis, interpreting "Azazel" as "Azaz" (rugged), and "el" (strong), refer it to the rugged and rough mountain cliff from which the goat was cast down (Yoma 67b; Sifra, Aḥare, ii. 2; Targ. Yer. Lev. xiv. 10, and most medieval commentators).
Rather than release the scapegoat into the wilderness, the later practice after Jerusalem has become the center of worship, according to Yoma vii. 4, will be to take the scapegoat to a cliff and push him over it out of sight. (see last paragraph in this post).
Most modern scholars, after having for some time endorsed the old view, have accepted the opinion mysteriously hinted at by Ibn Ezra and expressly stated by Naḥmanides to Lev. xvi. 8, that Azazel belongs to the class of "se'irim," goat-like demons, jinn haunting the desert, to which the Israelites were wont to offer sacrifice (Lev. xvii. 7 [A. V. "devils"]; compare "the roes and the hinds," Cant. ii. 7, iii. 5, by which Sulamith administers an oath to the daughters of Jerusalem. The critics were probably thinking of a Roman faun).
How one gets to "goat-like demon" from "rugged and strong" is beyond me.
Evidently the figure of Azazel was an object of general fear and awe rather than, as has been conjectured, a foreign product or the invention of a late lawgiver. Nay, more; as a demon of the desert, it seems to have been closely interwoven with the mountainous region of Jerusalem and of ancient pre-Israelitish origin.
I am sure that he will make a comeback somewhere. Maybe as the leader of a motorcycle gang,
Leader of the Rebellious Angels.
This is confirmed by the Book of Enoch, which brings Azazel into connection with the Biblical story of the fall of the angels, located, obviously in accordance with ancient folk-lore, on Mount Hermon as a sort of an old Semitic Blocksberg, a gathering-place of demons from of old (Enoch xiii.; compare Brandt, "Mandäische Theologie," 1889, p. 38). Azazel is represented in the Book of Enoch as the leader of the rebellious giants in the time preceding the flood; he taught men the art of warfare, of making swords, knives, shields, and coats of mail, and women the art of deception by ornamenting the body, dyeing the hair, and painting the face and the eyebrows, and also revealed to the people the secrets of witchcraft and corrupted their manners, leading them into wickedness and impurity;
Aza'zel was one bad dude, and the best way to defeat a devil is with an angel,
until at last he was, at the Lord's command, bound hand and foot by the archangel Raphael and chained to the rough and jagged rocks of [Ha] Duduael (= Beth Ḥadudo), where he is to abide in utter darkness until the great Day of Judgment, when he will be cast into the fire to be consumed forever (Enoch viii. 1, ix. 6, x. 4-6, liv. 5, lxxxviii. 1; see Geiger, "Jüd. Zeit." 1864, pp. 196-204).
The Jewish Encyclopedia continues,

Critical View:
There has been much controversy over the function of Azazel as well as over his essential character. Inasmuch as according to the narrative the sacrifice of Azazel, while symbolical, was yet held to be a genuine vicarious atonement, it is maintained by critics that Azazel was originally no mere abstraction, but a real being to the authors of the ritual—as real as Yhwh himself.
I agree. One would think that if the Hebrews went so far as to sacrifice a valuable animal to him, Aza'zel was a pretty real being to them. 
This relation to the purpose of the ceremony may throw light upon the character of Azazel. Three points seem reasonably clear. (1) Azazel is not a mere jinnee or demon of uncertain ways and temper, anonymous and elusive (see Animal Worship), but a deity standing in a fixed relation to his clients. Hence the notion, which has become prevalent, that Azazel was a "personal angel," here introduced for the purpose of "doing away with the crowd of impersonal and dangerous se'irim" (as Cheyne puts it), scarcely meets the requirements of the ritual. Moreover, there is no evidence that this section of Leviticus is so late as the hagiological period of Jewish literature.
Why, after all of their rebellions against the One Almighty God would the Hebrews make an offering to a demon?
(2) The realm of Azazel is indicated clearly. It was the lonely wilderness; and Israel is represented as a nomadic people in the wilderness, though preparing to leave it. Necessarily their environment subjected them in a measure to superstitions associated with the local deities, and of these latter Azazel was the chief. The point of the whole ceremony seems to have been that as the scapegoat was set free in the desert, so Israel was to be set free from the offenses contracted in its desert life within the domain of the god of the desert.
So maybe this was Azazel's send off.
(3) Azazel would therefore appear to be the head of the supernatural beings of the desert. He was thus an instance of the elevation of a demon into a deity. Such a development is indeed rare in Hebrew religious history of the Biblical age, but Azazel was really never a national Hebrew god, and his share in the ritual seems to be only the recognition of a local deity. The fact that such a ceremony as that in which he figured was instituted, is not a contravention of Lev. xvii. 7, by which demon-worship was suppressed. For Azazel, in this instance, played a merely passive part. Moreover, as shown, the symbolical act was really a renunciation of his authority. Such is the signification of the utter separation of the scapegoat from the people of Israel. This interpretation is borne out by the fact that the complete ceremony could not be literally fulfilled in the settled life of Canaan, but only in the wilderness. Hence it was the practise in Jerusalem, according to Yoma vii. 4, to take the scapegoat to a cliff and push him over it out of sight. In this way the complete separation was effected.
It sounds like it might be better to be the scapegoat in the wilderness than to be the scapegoat in Jerusalem. 

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Extra-biblical versus Un-biblical

The recent move by the Episcopal church to change the working definition of marriage to include the marriage of two persons of the same sex comes as a result of a decades-long effort to re-write scripture so that the clear and common sense meaning is diminished through the process of muddled and obtuse word parsing and revisionism.

Episcopalians have always prided themselves as looking at things through a different set of lenses, so let me ask them to try these on for size.

Traditionalists see the changes in liturgies and canons and cry, "It is un-biblical!" Indeed, they have a very strong argument. There has yet to be proposed a convincing argument that the Bible contains any positive references in support of re-defining marriage to include same-sex marriage.

Unfortunately, the use of the word "un-biblical" is considered as mean spirited and cruel and invariably leads to the retorts of "fundamentalist", "literalist", and to charges of "opppressor" and "hater".

We need a new term to deal with this "new revelation" regarding marriage.

Here is the new "revelation" as one nameless Episcopal bishop described it,
“God has given us a new revelation not shared with our forefathers in the church,” the bishop said. “As such, we must proceed slowly and with generosity of spirit,” to ensure that the revelation given to the majority was not in error. The bishop said the history of the surrounding community, Mormon Salt Lake City, was an example of what not to do. - Anglican Ink
Since this is a new revelation to the church, and as such it must now carry a status equivalent with scripture, let's characterize it as "Extra-biblical".

Since our foes themselves have named it a "revelation", or as something not found in Scripture or tradition, would this not be an appropriate term to use going forward?

"Extra-biblical" might be seen as less mean-spirited and might be one way of moving the conversation in the right direction.


Sunday, July 12, 2015

Bring Us the Head of Jesus!

This Sunday's readings included the story of the beheading of John the Baptist found in Mark 6:14-29. Since an overwhelming majority of bishops of he Episcopal church have effectively cut off the words of Jesus regarding marriage from the official teaching of the church (see previous post), I think we need a little re-write of Mark 6.

For the evil bishops themselves had sent men who arrested Jesus, bound him, and put him in prison on account of same-sex marriage, because the bishops had married such. For Jesus had been telling the bishops,
‘Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, and said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh.’ 
And several of the evil bishops held a great grudge against these words and wanted to kill them. But they could not, for a few bishops feared Jesus, knowing that he was the righteous and holy only son of God, and they protected him.
When the evil bishops heard Jesus, they were greatly perplexed; and yet they liked to listen to him.

But an opportunity came when the bishops at their General Convention gave an Eucharist for Integrity, the LGBT, their courtiers, and leaders. They called on their prophet and said to him, ‘Ask me for whatever you wish, and I will give it.’ And they solemnly swore to the prophet, ‘Whatever you ask me, I will give you, even half of our dioceses.’ He went out and said to his lover, ‘What should I ask for?’ He replied, ‘The words of Jesus in Matthew 19.’ Immediately he rushed back to the bishops and requested, ‘I want you to give me at once the words of Jesus in Matthew 19 on a platter.’ The bishops were not at all deeply grieved; and did not refuse him. Immediately the bishops sent a soldier of the guard with orders to bring the words of Jesus in Matthew 19. In order to do so, they went and beheaded Jesus, brought his head on a platter, and gave it to the prophet. Then the prophet gave it to the bishops.
When his disciples heard about it, they came and took his body, and laid it in a tomb.

And that is the way it is in 2015,

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

The Divine Principle of Marriage: The Red Letter Version vs the Bishop Waldo Version

The Christian Classics Ethereal Library is an excellent resource for the traditionalist. The other day I was browsing the Red Letter Bible and chanced upon the "Divine Principle of Marriage" in Jesus' words as recorded by Matthew,

Matthew 19 - When Jesus had finished talking on these matters, he left Galilee and went on to the district of Judea on the far side of the Jordan. Vast crowds followed him, and he cured them.19:3 - Then the Pharisees arrived with a test-question. "Is it right," they asked, "for a man to divorce his wife on any grounds whatever?" 
19:4-6 - "Haven't you read," he answered, "that the one who created them from the beginning 'made them male and female' and said: 'For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh'? So they are no longer two separate people but one. No man therefore must separate what God has joined together." 
19:7 - "Then why," they retorted, "did Moses command us to give a written divorce-notice and dismiss the woman?" 
19:8-9 - "It was because you knew so little of the meaning of love that Moses allowed you to divorce your wives! But that was not the original principle. I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife on any grounds except her unfaithfulness and marries some other woman commits adultery." 
19:10 - His disciples said to him, "If that is a man's position with his wife, it is not worth getting married!" 
19:11-12 - "It is not everybody who can live up to this," replied Jesus, "- only those who have a special gift. For some are incapable of marriage from birth, some are made incapable by the action of men, and some have made themselves so for the sake of the kingdom of Heaven. Let the man who can accept what I have said accept it." 
Compare the red letter words with the words of Bishop Waldo in his July 2, 2015 Pastoral letter regarding marriage. I have included links and scarlet lettered some of the text.

Making, Equipping and Sending Mature Disciples of Christ
2 July 2015
Brothers and Sisters in Christ, 
The 78th General Convention of The Episcopal Church is ending, a convention that has been consequential by all accounts. At this point, I’ll comment on two events in particular.  
On Saturday, June 27th, the House of Bishops elected and the House of Deputies confirmed The Rt. Rev. Michael B. Curry, Bishop Diocesan of North Carolina as the 27th Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church. Bishop Curry was elected on the first ballot and confirmed by very large margins in both houses. It was a deeply prayerful and Spirit-filled time of clarity and hope.  
Many of you have experienced Bishop Curry’s preaching here in our own diocese and know of his deep faith and his commitment to bringing people everywhere to the knowledge and  love of Jesus as Lord. We are all thrilled at his election and look with hope and energy for the mission and growth of our Church in the years ahead.
As you know, I was one of two bishops who served on the Episcopal Church’s Task Force on the Study of Marriage during the triennium following the 77th General Convention in 2012. After our report was filed this past February, I was also one of seven bishops appointed to the Special Legislative Committee on Marriage for work during this Convention, together with about fifteen lay and clergy deputies. 
Upon completing work on the legislation, our committee sent three resolutions to the House of Bishops for initial action. The first resolution (A037) called for another three years of work to deepen and expand our Church’s biblical, theological and ethical reflections on marriage. This resolution called for a representative diversity of viewpoints to serve on the Task Force in the coming triennium, a key provision that was needed for its passage by the House of Bishops. I voted for this resolution. 
The second resolution (A054), passed by the Convention on July 1st, approved two gender neutral rites for marriage for trial use in the Episcopal Church, “under the direction and with the permission of the bishop exercising ecclesiastical authority.” Having been satisfied that constitutional and canonical concerns had been addressed by our legislative committee and that diocesan bishops have retained authority for how trial use will unfold, I voted for this resolution, which passed both Houses of the Convention. This resolution provides authorized rites for different-sex or same-sex couples to be married. See comments on the third resolution regarding the marriage canon below. 
It is important to note that the existing rite for marriage in the Book of Common Prayer remains in place.  
The provisional rite known as “The Witnessing and Blessing of a Lifelong Covenant” approved at the 2012 General Convention was amended to include improvements identified since that convention. Because marriage is now legal in all 50 states and same-sex unions are no longer a legal option in the USA, this rite was nonetheless re-authorized for use in foreign dioceses of The Episcopal Church where same-sex marriage is not legal. 
Use of the trial rites approved in Resolution A054 will be “under the direction and with the permission of the bishop exercising ecclesiastical authority or where appropriate, ecclesiastical supervision.” The resolution also specifies that diocesan bishops will “make provisions for all couples desiring to be married in this church to have access to these liturgies.” This latter  phrase means that in dioceses where same-sex marriage in the church is not permitted, the  bishop is to see that such couples, for example, will be put in touch with a neighboring diocese where same-sex marriage is permitted in order to be married according to one of these rites.

The third resolution (A036), also passed by Convention on July 1st, is a rewrite of and replacement for the existing marriage canon (I.18). It resolves some conflicting issues in the existing canon having nothing to do with same-sex marriage, in particular the requirement that a non-Christian or agnostic spouse-to-be sign a Declaration of Intent that is a statement of Christian belief. The new canon requires both parties in a marriage to sign a Declaration of Intent specifying that the couple understands the teaching of the Church regarding marriage, as opposed to specifying that they both believe that teaching. That Declaration also specifies the underlying principles that our Church upholds regarding marriage. Finally, this resolution is also gender-neutral and provides for the use of any authorized marriage liturgy in solemnizing a marriage. The rites approved in A054 (above), together with the existing BCP marriage liturgy, fall into this category, under the direction and with the permission of the bishop exercising ecclesiastical authority. I voted for this resolution, which also passed both Houses of
the Convention. 
These resolutions will be welcome to many in our diocese and be unwelcome to many others. The reality that we remain a diocesan community with differing perspectives on this is no surprise. All of these viewpoints have a place at the table in the Diocese of Upper South Carolina. In fact, those different viewpoints from our diocese have been actively engaged in the legislative committee and hearings process throughout this Convention. The Rev. Jordan Hylden, a priest from Upper South Carolina who was a voice for the traditional perspective on my Diocesan Task Force on Unity, and who is a featured writer for The Living Church, has been a continuing and thoughtful contributor to the pre-convention public dialogue on marriage. He has also been present and active in conversations here at General Convention in Salt Lake City. His work has been and will continue to be of deep value to us all in this ongoing conversation. 
It’s worth remembering that over the past five years we have shared many faithful experiences that have shaped our understanding of same-sex relationships, blessings and marriage. During this time I and some 5,000 - 6,000 of you have had one form or another of face-to-face conversation on this subject. From forums in every single congregation of the diocese (in some cases multiple times), to the First Theological Council, pre- and post-General Convention dialogues, to the establishment of the Bishop’s Task Force on Unity, we have  worked together to learn and to understand one another. We have engaged in study through my Task Force’s report, In Dialogue with Sacred Tradition: A Pastoral and Theological Reflection on Same-Sex Blessings and In Dialogue with Each Other: A Curriculum. Above all, I have sensed our continuing desire to stay together—not necessarily resolving the differences among us, but learning how and deciding to live together as brothers and sisters in Christ in spite of those differences. 
Ultimately, the conversation about marriage will continue to deepen our Church’s reflections on all marriages. For, as changing norms in society indicate, vast numbers of people are choosing never to be married, and a strengthened and broadened understanding and commitment to marriage by our Church is becoming a conservative witness in the presence of those changes. It is an assertion that God continually calls us to live lives rooted and formed in Christ Jesus, bearing witness to the fruits of the Holy Spirit.  
Your brother in Christ,
The Rt. Rev. W. Andrew Waldo
VIIIth Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Upper South Carolina
Bishop Waldo has come a long way baby from the time when in the walkabouts prior to his election as Bishop of Upper South Carolina he claimed that if he had been at GC 2009, he would have voted "No" to D025 which authorized the ordination of same-sex partnered clergy. For a refresher, here is some of the text of that resolution which Bishop to be Waldo says he would have opposed,

D025 Resolved, That the 76th General Convention affirm the value of “listening to the experience of homosexual persons,” as called for by the Lambeth Conferences of 1978, 1988 and 1998, and acknowledge that through our own listening the General Convention has come to recognize that the baptized membership of The Episcopal Church includes same-sex couples living in lifelong committed relationships “characterized by fidelity, monogamy, mutual affection and respect, careful, honest communication and the holy love which enables those in such relationships to see in each other the image of God” (2000-D039); and be it further
Resolved, That the 76th General Convention recognize that gay and lesbian persons who are part of such relationships have responded to God’s call and have exercised various ministries in and on behalf of God’s One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church and are currently doing so in our midst; and be it further
Resolved, That the 76th General Convention affirm that God has called and may call such individuals to any ordained ministry in The Episcopal Church, and that God’s call to the ordained ministry in The Episcopal Church is a mystery which the Church attempts to discern for all people through our discernment processes acting in accordance with the Constitution and Canons of The Episcopal Church...
Our Bishop is unfortunately not constrained by the Articles of Religion which our wiser forefathers drew up, for they cannot ordain anything that is contrary to scripture,

XX. Of the Authority of the Church.
The Church hath power to decree Rites or Ceremonies, and authority in Controversies of  Faith: and yet it is not lawful for the Church to ordain anything that is contrary to God's  Word written, neither may it so expound one place of Scripture, that it be repugnant to another.  Wherefore, although the Church be a witness and a keeper of Holy Writ, yet, as it ought not to decree any thing against the same, so besides the same ought not to enforce any thing to be believed for necessity of Salvation.
Neither is he constrained by the voices of bishops from around the world,
"The recent decision of the General Convention of The Episcopal Church, to remove reference to gender in the marriage canon and introduce rites for conducting ‘same-sex marriage’, is a mistake with serious consequences.
The problems for the rest of the Anglican Communion have already been noted by the Archbishop of Canterbury. But the fundamental reason that it is a mistake – and the reason why it is so destabilizing – is that it is a significant departure from Holy Scripture. This is a departure which Christians are not at liberty to make."  
With this action, TEC has officially rejected the Anglican Communion’s standard, Lambeth Resolution 1.10, which expresses the Communion’s received and historic understanding of marriage and sexual relationships. TEC has now taken the pattern of behaviour which Lambeth describes as ‘incompatible with Scripture’ and equated it with Holy Matrimony." The GAFCON Primates Council, 6th July 2015
And this from "Reform" via Anglican Ink,
 In rejecting this definition of marriage, the bishops of the US Episcopal Church have rejected Jesus’ own teaching.  As such, they have denied the faith they profess to teach, forfeiting any right to be regarded as true bishops of the church of Jesus Christ.  Jesus warned us to “watch out for false prophets” who come in his name (Matthew 7.15, 22) 
And in a flashback to 2002 when the Canadian church left the Church catholic,
In 2002, the synod of the Anglican Diocese of New Westminster authorized its bishop to produce a service for blessing same-sex unions, to be used in any parish of the diocese that requested it.
A number of synod members walked out to protest the decision. J. I. Packer was one of those who walked out.
When asked why he walked, he answered, “Because this decision, taken in its context, falsifies the gospel of Christ, abandons the authority of Scripture, jeopardizes the salvation of fellow human beings, and betrays the church in its God-appointed role as the bastion and bulwark of divine truth.” (from
So we and the majority of other dioceses in the Episcopal church have bishops who knowingly falsify Scripture and create their own "scarlet letter" version of the truth, passing it along in "pastoral" letters to the poor misinformed pewsitters.

This is the ultimate destination of all of those who embark on the path of Biblical revisionism. Revisionism is the name of the heresy under whose spell our church leaders have fallen even though they will deny it to the end.

First it was the laws in Leviticus that were lost, next it was the text of Romans that was fiddled with, and now, finally, they have jimmied with Jesus' words. That is how revisionism works. First attack the translators, nit pick at the words, attack the witnesses (poor Paul in particular), then attack the interpretations, and finally you are left with just the red letters to attack, and when those are attacked, the assault has shifted to Jesus himself.

By now it should become apparent to even the most uniformed pewsitter that Jesus is under siege, and that their Episcopal Bishops have tossed Him outside the doors of their precious cathedrals.

I say "should," but will it?

Mene, mene, tekel, and parsin.

Sunday, July 05, 2015

Flashback to 1977 and "The Long March Into The Desert"

The LA Times posted this notice on the passing of Robert Sherwood Morse, "a dissident clergyman who objected to changes in traditional Episcopalian practice and urged fellow religious conservatives to leave a mainstream he likened to the Biblical 'fleshpots of Egypt,'" who died recently. He was 91.

"'What people don't understand about the whole concept of the ordination of women is that it was never a question of equality but of theology.' - Robert Sherwood Morse, on his opposition to women becoming priests.
Morse, who helped found and was selected as archbishop of what became known as the Anglican Province of Christ the King, died of pancreatic cancer May 28 at his home in Berkeley, according to Monty Stanford, a spokesman for the San Francisco-based organization."

The LA Times also provided a helpful link to Morse's little known, but prescient 1977 sermon, "The Long March Into The Desert" (A Sermon delivered on the last day of the Congress of St. Louis by the Most Rev. Robert Sherwood Morse).

I reproduce it here in its entirety with the emphasis mine (direct link here).

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

We begin today the first step of a long march! Our Church has yielded to the temptations that Our Lord denied in the wilderness. As the Church is the mystical Body of Christ in what is left of human history, we face those same temptations until time is no more. 
The three temptations are power, power, and power! "And he shewed him all the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them, and saith unto him, all these things will I give thee if thou wilt fall down and worship me." 
We have come to St. Louis because in Minneapolis last year the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States fell down and openly worshipped the dark Spirit of the Age! Whatever is mod, trendy, whatever works, feels good, is promoted in the media - that do and believe! 
The major thrust of the Spirit of the Age is against the essential mysteries of Christ - the family and sacramental marriage! The demonic in history are those blind forces which would impersonalize life - eroding those interpersonal commitments that make civilization possible! 
Without the priority of family - no nation, church, or society can survive. The crisis of our Western culture is theological. For the primary problem of our time is the attack on the family. The Protestant Episcopal Church, in a long litany of sorrow, has abandoned the family and given its people stones and scorpions instead of bread to strengthen men's hearts! Our Church has been stripped over the years, in general convention following general convention, of any and all moral standards with which we can deal with the gamut of modern and moral issues running from divorce to demonology! 
Dostoyevsky says that Hell is to be unable to love! The zeal of the Church has always been up until now to save man from this Hell - by giving man, via grace, a conscience. For without a conscience we cannot love! God does not change despite what our seminaries teach today - Christian love does not exist apart from morality. To experience the love of God is to suffer God. Perhaps this is the most intense form of suffering, to suffer God. For we are forced, if we love Him, to choose the greater good, which is to will His will - to be obedient to His commandments. The other terrible suffering is that once you love God you can find no substitute for Him. Nothing else can satisfy - nothing else can make you complete. To love God is to make a choice. Thus the Judgment comes to every man's door! This is the judgment here before us today. The most vivid agony reserved in Dante's Inferno is for the neutrals - who have no need to die for they were never alive! 
One of the great saints of the Anglican Communion, and I believe him to be a saint, is the late Fr. Raymond Raynes, Father Superior of the Community of the Resurrection. Many of us in this room knew him personally. Once on the B.B.C. he was asked who is most in danger of going to Hell and he answered immediately, "The indifferent" and then he thought and added "and priests" - and I would also like to add "and bishops." 
There is no neutrality or indifference in God or in these issues facing us in the Church. God grant us the grace to love and suffer His will - to know Him as He is and not as we want Him to be! To save us in this difficult hour from indifference or neutrality and lead us not into the temptation of the Spirit of the Age. 
In this city of St. Louis is the birth place of perhaps the greatest metaphysical poet of this century, T. S. Eliot, who was also an Episcopalian. He wrote in his great Christian poem, Four Quartets, 
Who then devised the Torment? Love,
Love is the unfamiliar name
Behind the hands that wove
the intolerable shirt of flame
Which human power cannot remove
We only live on, suspire,
Consumed by either fire or fire.
(Which means: to burn with or be burned up or consumed by the Love of
Christian man is living in an age that eclipses the early persecutions of the early Church - Christians are caged and silenced in the Soviet Union, murdered by the millions in China and Cambodia, tortured and martyred in Africa. Solzhenitsyn, that 20th century prophet, sees the worst for us in the West - the decline and decay of Western man is accelerating at a far more rapid pace than that of the Marxist police states whose new gnostic value system of materialism and power is based on the denial of God. 
We begin today a long march through the deserts of our time - but our movement is of the spirit of God, for He is calling us successful, seldom rich, usually lukewarm Episcopalians to return Christ to the center of our lives and through us to our countrymen - to restore them and us to the things of God. 
We will be guided like the Hebrew children by a pillar of smoke by day and fire by night - a description of our smog-bound cities. What vision do we hold out to the world? 
There is a true story told about the great 16th century Spanish mystic, St. John of the Cross, who once, while prior or a rural Spanish Carmelite monastery, had an old brother in his community. He was a pocked-marked peasant - illiterate, untutored - bent in the service of the Lord - opening doors, cleaning floors, and dragging baggage; unseen and almost unknown. Suddenly one night he was struck with his death agony. The brothers all gathered around him to support him in prayer as he began to slip into eternity. St. John of the Cross was also there. Suddenly the old peasant, his face radiant, rose up on his cot and stretched out his arms and began to cry out over and over "I see it - I see it!" St. John said, "Brother, what do you see out there?" And he replied, "I see Love. I see Love!" 
What vision sustains us on this long journey - this pilgrimage of hardship? Only the love of God and our desire to share it - that our children's children until time is no more might receive the gift of faith - the experience of that incredible Love of God that has touched our lives. But that love calls for personal sacrifice! 
I call upon you to exercise your apostolic commission - save yourselves, your children, your families, your friends and fellows - leave this modern Egypt - the fleshpots of the Minneapolis Church - whose bishops act like Pharaohs building pyramids of personal power and privilege. Leave this kingdom of death, this House of Pharaoh, and march with us into the desert. We must all wait in the desert, for through this experience we as penitents will be cleansed. 
God give us the strength that some day our movement might be as that of the early Christian desert Fathers who were more concerned with what God thought of them than what the world thought of them. Come with us, join us, march with us into the desert - for God calls us to Himself! 
++The Most Rev. Robert Sherwood Morse
16 September, AD 1977

(At the time of this sermon, Fr. Robert S. Morse was Rector of St. Peter's Church in Oakland, California.)

Morse's call is still valid today.

I am listening and packing my things for the long march into the desert.

I conclude with more of T.S. Eliot's poem "Little Gidding" (the fourth quartet).

What we call the beginning is often the end
And to make an end is to make a beginning.
The end is where we start from. And every phrase
And sentence that is right (where every word is at home,
Taking its place to support the others,
The word neither diffident nor ostentatious,
An easy commerce of the old and the new,
The common word exact without vulgarity,
The formal word precise but not pedantic,
The complete consort dancing together)
Every phrase and every sentence is an end and a beginning,
Every poem an epitaph. And any action
Is a step to the block, to the fire, down the sea's throat
Or to an illegible stone: and that is where we start.
We die with the dying:
See, they depart, and we go with them.
We are born with the dead:
See, they return, and bring us with them.
The moment of the rose and the moment of the yew-tree
Are of equal duration. A people without history
Is not redeemed from time, for history is a pattern
Of timeless moments. So, while the light fails
On a winter's afternoon, in a secluded chapel
History is now and England.

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

With Gay Marriage the Law of the Land, What to do About Those Homophobic Native Americans and the Episcopal Clergy Who Belong to The Indian Nations?

With the nation and the Episcopal church moving forward with the normalization of same-sex "marriage," there will be the inevitable contradictions and paradoxes that people will have to "live into."

One such conundrum that the Episcopal church will have to deal with is the presence in its House of Bishops and in its ranks of clergy, of members of Indian nations in which same-sex marriage is forbidden by tribal law.

The following article that was posted at CNS News a month before the SCOTUS ruling legalizing same-sex marriage gives you background and an idea of the numbers of souls involved,

"The Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma and the Navajo Nation, with about 300,000 members each, maintain decade-old laws that don't recognize same-sex marriage. Neither tribe has shown much sign of shifting.
In all, tribes with a total membership approaching 1 million won't recognize marriages between two men or two women."
Of course, the gay activists will say that cultural and religious imperialism is to blame for these now archaic laws,
"John Hawk Co-Cke' (co-KAY), an enrolled member of the Osage Nation who's gay, said that before reservations were created, many tribes had no problem with men who embraced their feminine side and women who lean toward their masculine side, inspiring the term two-spirit people. Two-spirit people were sometimes given special ceremonial roles because of their ability to go into both the masculine and feminine world, he said.
The spread of Christianity starting when tribes were moved onto reservations contributed to a change in attitude that's reflected in laws that reserve marriage for heterosexual couples, Co-Cke' said. The influence of Christianity remains strong in many tribes more than a century after an era of mass conversions on reservations.
'It saddens me, but I don't blame them because they have been forced to give in,' said Co-Cke', who was raised as a Methodist and has for many years led two-spirit retreats in Oklahoma.
Co-Cke' said he respects the faith he was raised in, but learning about Native American traditions that date back further helped him become comfortable with being gay.
'I started feeling that emptiness. That's when the old ones started calling me,' he said. 'I had to get healthy.'"

The Episcopal church has a long history of mission and outreach to the native American people, and one has to wonder if that outreach will now include efforts to enlighten them on same-sex marriage.

The Episcopal church page that features the Navajo praises their history, culture, and values,

"The Navajo are our American heritage. For literally hundreds of years they have lived on their lands in the Southwest and had a culture embedded in the Divine Creator, with a tradition of worship and roots deep in the earth. They have embraced The Episcopal Church for over 100 years. And they have done this in the face of extreme deprivation, poverty, and forced removal from their homeland.
Deep reverence for all things living characterizes Navajo spirituality, and prayer is their natural language. Everything a Navajo knows – shelter, fields, livestock, the sky above and the ground below – is holy. Land is the Earth Mother who gives life to all. Their traditional dwelling, the hoghan, reflects this understanding of creation, and it is here where Navajo Blessingway and other ceremonies still occur. In the name of Jesus Christ, they pray for healing for each other and for the rest of the world and even under the bleakest of circumstances, they never forsake prayer.
They have much to teach us.
They may have something to teach TEc about marriage, and look out, they are infiltrating the ranks of the ordained!
In 1978, The Episcopal Church founded Navajoland Area Mission: some 26,000 square miles in Arizona, New Mexico and Utah. At that time, there was no clear vision, nor were substantive efforts undertaken to preserve physical facilities or to raise up lay and ordained leadership.
Today, there is a new spirit and energy in this land! Several churches have been reopened. While we have had only one Navajo priest, we now have 11 candidates for ordination – two ordained as priests in June, 2013."
Not only that, but the Cherokee have already entered the House/Hoghan/Tepee of Bishops. The following is from a  New York Times article from 2011,

"Bishop Carol J. Gallagher is a member of the Cherokee nation, through her mother, whose maiden name was Elizabeth Walking Stick" (NYT). 
Her blog, "Mamabishop" can be found here.

Being in a small way part of the Cherokee clan myself brings this home on a personal level.

In 2011, when the NYT article on Bishop Gallagher came out, the number of Native American bishops was four,
"American Indian Episcopal bishops will increase to four. The others are Creighton Robertson of South Dakota, Steven Plummer of the Navajoland Area Mission and Steven Charleston, president and dean of Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Mass."
The following quotation from Bishop Gallagher is a bit ironic given the differences her nation and her church have regarding same-sex marriage,

 "...declaring that the church needed to regard its American Indian members as ''equal partners' in its work."
I predict that some partners will remain more equal than others in this case.

And in February 2015 the Episcopal News Service announced,
"In a liturgy that combined Anglican and Navajo traditions, the Rev. Canon Cornelia Eaton was ordained priest in the Episcopal Church. She serves as canon to the ordinary for Navajoland...  The liturgy included readings and hymns in English and Navajo, and smudging by (Bishop) Eaton...
For the uninitiated,
"Smudging calls on the spirits of sacred plants to drive away negative energies and restore balance." (
There are a fair number of Navajo who may be in a bit of a pickle, torn between their nation and their church,
With Eaton’s ordination as priest, Bailey has ordained three Navajo, or Diné, as priests and three more as transitional deacons. There are another three Diné in the ordination process. Eaton is the fourth female Diné following Plummer, the Rev. Rosella Jim and the Rev. Inez Velarde."

Which will they choose? To be off the reservation or on it?