Saturday, December 27, 2008

The Schismatics of Easton

Elizabeth Kaeton has posted a story of one parish that cut ties with the Episcopal Church and has now been sold on the courthouse steps. She tells the sad tale of "St. Andrew's Anglican Church" in Easton, MD, which describes itself as an "independent Anglican Church" in what it terms the "Anglican Diocese of the Chesapeake" which was organized in 2005.


In other words, these are a bunch of schismatics who cast themselves as a holier-than-thou parish in a holier-than-thou diocese of the People Who Hate The Episcopal Church.

Read the details at Elizabeth's blog. They believed God was blessing them and calling them to eschew TEC. Their parish has now been sold at auction, because they couldn't manage to grow much beyond the 35 schismatics who hated the Episcopal Church.

Elizabeth tells this story with great sympathy. I admire her for that. In my quiet moments, I realize that some of the faithful Episcopalians are probably going to suffer a similar fate as we contend for our church's properties.

But I cannot resist a bit of schadenfreude.

First, I remember how recently the self-styled "Archbishop" Duncan declared that God Himself in His providence is replacing the Episcopal Church – that God would shield the schismatics. Hmmm … maybe Duncan's prophetic skills aren't as keen as he might have wished.

Second, "Bishop" Joel Marcus Johnson, the self-styled "Anglican bishop of the Cheseapeake," testifies to his West African primate: "We marched together at the opening Eucharist at its conference in Pittsburgh in November, 2005, where with you and your colleague Primates I was honored to assist with the ministration of the Holy Communion ....." As I recall, that's the very same conference in which Archbishop Akinola urged "the faithful" of the Anglican Communion Network to walk away from their buildings and property, to keep their eyes on the prize and not stoop to litigation with the apostate Episcopal Church.

Go to Elizabeth's blog for the fuller story. I just couldn't resist these couple of comments on it.

Friday, December 26, 2008

To All My Clergy Friends

As I have lounged around like a couch potato, I have neglected to post this note I intended to post yesterday.

I am blessed to count several of you priests and deacons among my friends. I am mindful that you all work your buns off all the time, and especially around this Christmastide to bring the mystery of the Incarnation into our lives.

Dear friends, know that I prayed for you by name in the Christmas Eve service, hoping you would be able to celebrate this season. And now I am praying that you all have some rest and relaxation.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

New Featured Blogs Focus on Lui

Over in the right sideboard, you may notice I've add a category for "Featured Blogs." I'm using this section to highlight new blogs or blogs I've newly discovered.

I've had the insuperable Jan Nunley's Jawbones there for a while. Jan is newly liberated to write in her own voice, without editorial supervision from the Episcopal Church Center. She has a straight-talking, sometimes sardonic, and insightful blog, and I encourage you to add hers to your daily reading.

Now I'm featuring two new blogs – both from the team of eight missioners from our diocese who arrived in southern Sudan on December 18 to work with our companion Diocese of Lui. These people have sacrificed Christmas time with their families in order to be with our brothers and sisters in Lui. You can read more about the mission objectives on our diocesan website. If you're on Facebook, you can join the "Prayers for Lui" group. Some of you know that I spent two life-changing weeks in Lui in early 2006, and I blogged the trip at LuiNotes; now the current mission team has taken responsibility for that blog to add their stories and insights. One of the missioners, Debbie Smith, has her blog at LuLuLui (which translates to "I love the Lord").

In this season, I bid your prayers for our missioners who are truly doing the work of Christ with our Episcopal friends in Lui. And in a time when excess so marks the face of the U.S., their blog entries remind us all of what truly matters.

Let me call-out one snippet by Emily Bloemker, newly ordained transitional deacon, who wrote on Christmas Eve at LuiNotes:

Christmas Eve in Lui: the first Christmas Eve I have ever spent away from home (hi, Mom!) in twenty-six years. Like many Christians, I have always had angst about American Christmas: whether or not to give gifts, where is 'Christ' in the consumer free-for-all, and what to do about Santa Claus. Now, half a world away from the normal traditions, stripped of excess, I am finding Jesus at Christmas for the first time.
I resonate with that comment. Since coming home from Lui, I have been incapable of engaging in the national consumer frenzy that characterizes the supposed "celebration of Christmas" in the U.S. This friend speaks my mind.

Those of you who supported me in so many ways during my time in Lui, I beseech you to read LuiNotes and LuLuLui to hear – up close and personal – what is happening with our fellow Christians in southern Sudan … and of the commitment of our missioners to live out the Gospel with our friends there.

Update: I just learned from Beth Felice (our Diocessan Communications Officer extradinaire) that the St. Louis Post-Dispatch has picked up the story, too. You can see that story here. Dear friends, the world is shrinking day by day.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008


I'm not quite sure why this has haunted me all day, but it has.

As I walking in to work today, I noticed a bit of bright red in the street ahead of me. As I got closer, I realized it was a beautiful male cardinal, lying dead in the middle of the street. His color was so vivid that it seemed just terribly wrong that he could be dead. I moved toward him. There wasn't anything I could do, but it seemed right to move him out of the road and onto the ground.
As I approached him, I also became aware of an insistent warbling. I thought I knew exactly what it was, but it took a while for me to peer into the branches above before I could spot her. But I finally did: The female mate of this dead cardinal, keening away.

After moving her dead mate, I could not linger, for I had to get to work. I wonder how long she stayed there and I wonder what was happening in her little cardinal brain. And I wished I could have done something more.
I'm tempted to write more and explicate this story into an allegory, but I will restrain myself. Let the story speak for itself.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

More on Obama Choice

President-Elect Obama is getting more attention in his choice of a gay-hater Rick Warren. Read it here.

Here is a snippet:

"My blood pressure is really high right now," said Rev. Chuck Currie, minister at Parkrose Community United Church of Christ in Portland, Oregon. "Rick Warren does some really good stuff and there are some areas that I have admired his ability to build bridges between evangelicals and mainline religious and political figures... but he is also very established in the religious right and his position on social issues like gay rights, stem cell research and women's rights are all out of the mainstream and are very much opposed to the progressive agenda that Obama ran on. I think that he is very much the wrong person to put on the stage with the president that day."

Warren does have a rather peculiar relationship with the incoming president. The two share a general ethos that political differences should not serve as impediments to progress. On topics like AIDS and poverty relief, they see eye-to-eye. But Warren's domestic and social agendas are at odds with Obama's. And for the gay and lesbian community in particular, the choice is a bitter pill to swallow.

"Pastor Warren, while enjoying a reputation as a moderate based on his affable personality and his church's engagement on issues like AIDS in Africa, has said that the real difference between James Dobson and himself is one of tone rather than substance," read a statement from People For the American Way President Kathryn Kolbert. "He has repeated the Religious Right's big lie that supporters of equality for gay Americans are out to silence pastors. He has called Christians who advance a social gospel Marxists. He is adamantly opposed to women having a legal right to choose an abortion."

"Picking Rick Warren to give THE invocation," wrote John Aravosis on AmericaBlog, "is abominable."

"Let me get right to the point," Joe Solomnese, the president of the Human Rights Campaign, said in a harsh letter to the president-elect, "Your invitation to Reverend Rick Warren to deliver the invocation at your inauguration is a genuine blow to LGBT Americans."

Obama + Warren = ?

I urge all of you to attend to this.

Anti-gay pastor Rick Warren has been selected to give the benediction at the Obama inauguration. This is a nightmare and an insult to the LGBT community and their straight allies. As many of you will recall, Rick Warren brought the full force of his charisma and his thousands of zombies to support the anti-gay Proposition 8 in California last month.

Is this the "change we can believe in"? I think not.

I received an invitation to join this Facebook page, called "No Rick Warren at Obama Inauguration." If you're on Facebook, go there. You will also find there some letters that people have sent, asking President-Elect Obama to reconsider Warren's invitation. You can also see some letters that have been sent.

Even if you are not on Facebook, you can send a letter to President-Elect Obama. Just go here and write.

I sent my own letter to President-Elect Obama. Here is what I wrote:
President-Elect Obama,

I have learned that you may have invited Rick Warren to offer a prayer at your inauguration. I am a passionate Christian -- in church every Sunday (and more) and deeply involved in my church's ministries. But Rick Warren is not the face of Christianity. Over the past couple of months, he has proven himself to be the heir to Hateful Religion.

Rick Warren took a very active role in advocacy for Proposition 8 in California. Is this the kind of "Christian" you wish to have offer a "benediction" -- a blessing -- at your inauguration? If so, I suggest you distribute a handout of asterisks, outlining those from whom Pastor Warren and you choose to withhold a blessing.

As one of your very many gay/lesbian supporters, I will consider Rick Warren's presence on the podium a profound and intentional slap in the face.

I wish God's blessing and God's wisdom to you in your administration. As you know, millions of us have great hope for you and your leadership.

Sincerely yours,
Lisa Fox
During the election, we were led to believe Barack Obama was committed to bringing people together. In choosing Rick Warren, he gives assent to Warren's agenda of hate and division. What a terrible way to begin the new administration!

Write to President-Elect Obama! Go here and have your say.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Biblical Marriage

It is no wonder that the general population of the U.S. eschews Christianity, since we have allowed the right-wing nutjobs to define what "Christianity" means. It grieves me to recognize that most people actually think that nutjobs like Sarah Palin speak for Christianity.

One of my favorite political bloggers offers a truly Biblical definition of marriage. He reminds us what is truly Biblical. Let's see the "orthodox" Christians sign-on to this. As he says: "If we are to let the Bible define what 'traditional marriage' should look like, then our marriage laws should be amended as such."

Want to amend the U.S. Constitution to make it align with the Biblical view of marriage? Fine. Here's what marriage should look like, courtesy of DailyKos:

  • A. Marriage in the United States shall consist of a union between one man and one or more women. (Gen 29:17-28; II Sam 3:2-5)

  • B. Marriage shall not impede a man's right to take concubines in addition to his wife or wives. (II Sam 5:13; I Kings 11:3; II Chron 11:21)

  • C. A marriage shall be considered valid only if the wife is a virgin. If the wife is not a virgin, she shall be executed. (Deut 22:13-21)

  • D. Marriage of a believer and a non-believer shall be forbidden. (Gen 24:3; Num 25:1-9; Ezra 9:12; Neh 10:30)

  • E. Since marriage is for life, neither this Constitution nor the constitution of any State, nor any state or federal law, shall be construed to permit divorce. (Deut 22:19; Mark 10:9)

  • F. If a married man dies without children, his brother shall marry the widow. If he refuses to marry his brother's widow or deliberately does not give her children, he shall pay a fine of one shoe and be otherwise punished in a manner to be determined by law. (Gen 38:6-10; Deut 25:5-10)

  • G. In lieu of marriage, if there are no acceptable men in your town, it is required that you get your dad drunk and have sex with him (even if he had previously offered you up as a sex toy to men young and old), tag-teaming with any sisters you may have. Of course, this rule applies only if you are female. (Gen 19:31-36)
When the so-called orthodox assent to the truly Biblical view of marriage, then I will take them seriously. But not until then.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

The Objectors are Addicted to Turmoil

I'm pulling Charlotte's comments from my "Objectors" post up here. Her insights deserve "front page" consideration rather than being lost below my meandering thoughts. I believe she's on to something. When I put on my asbestos gear and venture over to some of the right-wing objectors' sites, I sense a frenzy that gives me the creeps. I think Charlotte names it in this comment. Here's what she said:

Here's a somewhat different take on your question, based on observations made in the Diocese of Central Florida over the past 6-7 years:

It's possible to become hooked on the sensations generated by continual chaos and controversy. I think the "leavers" who can't leave, as well as those who are still (barely) in the Episcopal Church but constantly stir the pot, are hooked on endogenously generated drugs.

The adrenalin rush they feel after each polarizing diatribe, each breakdown, each chaotic, out-of-control episode is (after all) what hard drugs like cocaine and methamphetamine mimic. "Leavers" and "pot-stirrers" are tapping into a powerful biological reward system, so powerful that laboratory animals have died of hunger and exhaustion while still pressing the levers that deliver it.

Our "leavers" and "pot-stirrers" need that rush, that feeling of power. They don't have insight into their addictions, however, so they continue to create chaos for everyone unfortunate enough to be around them.

The paranoid right -- the people who circulated the "Obama is a Muslim" e-mails during the last election -- are, many of them, also hooked on adrenaline. (Some, like Rush Limbaugh, are hooked on other drugs as well, of course.) There is quite a bit of overlap between committed members of the paranoid right and the "leavers" and "pot-stirrers" of the Episcopal Church, as a casual glance at Stand Firm! will show.

It's a real question for me which came first, but in many of the American cases I am aware of, the paranoid right-wing politics are primary, while the desire to destroy the Episcopal Church is secondary.

Had they been young forty years ago, many of these "leavers" and "pot-stirrers" would have been members of the extremist Sixties alphabet soup, equally in love with their own adrenalin rushes, and needing ever more chaos and violence to deliver the same rush (or Rush). As will happen with addictions.
I recognize the syndrome she describes. When I was blogging for The Episcopal Majority, it was a very heady experience. The work I did there, as well as on my personal blog, was something like addictive. From time to time, I wondered whether I was becoming a "junkie" to good news and becoming addicted to outrage at bad news. I finally came to see I was in something like a "rave" state. I backed off. Now, when I venture over to the extreme right-wingers, I sense they have fallen off that cliff and they just cannot stop.

I think Charlotte's onto something. I suspect there's something like an opiate of self-righteousness and of umbrage and outrage. I thank God I backed away before I lost control. I think maybe "the objectors" are hooked and they don't even know it. What do you think?

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Speaking of Finances

I love the LOLcats site and its offspring, PunditKitchen. This one made me laugh.

Obama Pictures and McCain Pictures

And I enjoyed the lyrics one of the commenters offered, sparking off the Mary Poppins theme:

Even though the sound of it is not at all that funny,
If you say it loud enough, your skies will not turn sunny,

Buying Intentionally

I'm listening to all this economic recession/depression talk quite closely. I'm thinking about the U.S. trade imbalance, the fact that we manufacture so very little here anymore, and the continuing concentration of business in a few mega-corporations. Several months ago, I went back to very strict budgeting (thanks to Dave Ramsey and Financial Peace University), so I'm putting something in savings every month. I wiped out my small credit card balances, so my only debt now is on the 2002 car that I bought used in 2006. I am no longer "running out of money before I run out of month," as the saying goes. Somebody recently asked me how I made this turnaround, and I replied, "I finally taught myself the difference between 'I want' and 'I need.'" I go into stores with a list in hand, and I do not look left or right as I gather the things I truly need. It would be so easy to be lured by the "bargains" and special displays. I just don't look. I am on a mission for my own financial health.

At the same time, I'm paying more attention to environmental issues. At the moment, I'm sitting here in a t-shirt, flannel shirt, and hooded sweatshirt, as well as jeans and wool socks, so that I can keep my thermostat at 65 while I'm home. [My programmable thermostat drops it to 60 degrees at night and during the workday.] On the road, I'm generally a speed-demon, most comfortable when driving about 75 mph (or more) on the highway; but I'm now driving about 60 mph when time allows, not just to save money, but to reduce my consumption of gasoline. And I'm buying my gas from the BreakTime stations, operated by a farmer's co-op based here in Missouri. No national chains for me, thank you very much. [I picked up several other simple ideas from Jan Nunley's How Many Lightbulbs Does it Take to Change a Christian. Please buy it from Church Publishing or your local bookstore.] I'm not just doing this to save money. I'm doing it because I realize that every gallon of gas I buy, every kilowatt I use is consuming fossil fuels that will not be replaced within the next few centuries. Faithful stewardship requires that I do what I can to reduce my impact on the environment.

I'm also paying more attention to where I spend my money. To paraphrase a slogan, I'm trying to think globally, but shop locally. A couple months ago, I had to buy glucose test strips for Scotty (my diabetic cat), and I couldn't find them in any of the local stores, so I had to go to WalMart. When I walked in, the store had been completely remodelled and rearranged. I realized it had been well over a year since I had been to WalMart. I essentially "quit" WalMart a couple of years ago, when I became more aware of their anti-labor practices and began to recognize how they were devastating American companies like Rubbermaid. [Hat-tip to Joe Bageant and his book, Deer Hunting with Jesus.]

Today I was catching up on some blog-reading, and read a dear friend's comment about hearing of a new book and going to Barnes & Noble to order it. I wondered, "Why???" I'm in a relatively small town [population about 40,000]. B&N moved in here about 3 years ago, but I don't think I've bought a book there yet. For we are fortunate to have an independent bookstore here. For fiction and other non-theological books, I either buy the book there, or I have them order it. If I need a theological book, I either order it from that store or I buy it through the Cathedral bookstore. Why? Because I care where my money goes. I care who is making a profit. I am dismayed by the increasing homogenization of the U.S., where every town has the same chain stores and the locally owned stores are going out of business. I want to spend my money on folks who live here.

And when I eat out, I also try to eat at the locally-owned restaurants instead of the increasing number of chains that are moving in here.

I'm not entirely sure what has gotten into me. But I know I'm sick of the mega-corporations. And I am sick of hearing American citizens being defined as "consumers." And this devoted NPR listener was appalled last week when I heard a "Morning Edition" anchor say that we had entered "the Christmas shopping season." No, I am not in any kind of "shopping season." I am trying to live my life, spend my money responsibly, and – God willing – enter into a holy Advent season.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

I Am Sullied

How the heck did I happen to be among those to receive David Virtue's fund-raising appeal?? It plopped into my "inbox" on December 1 like a turd in the punchbowl.

He and Christopher Johnson (MCJ) maintain the most hateful, vitriolic sites on the far, far, far right of the Anglican blogosphere.
I feel like I need to take a bath, just seeing "Virtue's" fundraising appeal. Yuck!

Monday, December 01, 2008

The Objectors

Many of you frequent the same sites I do. We have our friends and truth tellers. And we have Those Other Ones – in the blogosphere and on the HoBD list – whose sole raison d'être seems to be hating the Episcopal Church, calling us apostate, and assuring us of God's wrath to come. I call them The Objectors. Bless their hearts!

Ever since I plugged into the blogosphere, I have been puzzled by the fact that those people who claim to have left the Episcopal Church seem to spend so much of their time and energy looking back (like Lot's wife) on the Episcopal Church for the sole purpose of spewing apothegms on us.

A few days ago, I saw another blast from one of those people who has left TEC. After much rambling and railing against the Episcopal Church, he said about TEC, "Quite simply, we no longer care."

His interlocutor replied: "Yes, you guys care so little that you spend your days and nights trolling Episcopal blogs. This all reminds me of those guys who swear that they are over their old girlfriends yet drive by their houses all the time, call constantly and hang up, etc. It's all very stalkerish."

Yes! That summed it up in a nutshell. Why is it that so many folks who claim to have left TEC still stalk our church and its bloggers like obsessed, ditched lovers? They claim they've moved on ... but they just can't quit us.

It reminds me of an old quip: "How can I miss you if you won't leave?"

Like the guy in Brokeback Mountain, they just can't quit us. The poor dears.

Campus Ministry Alive

Or ... Joe Chambers Knocks My Socks Off!

During the Diocesan Convention last weekend, there were several video vignettes highlighting ministries around the diocese. By far the most energetic was the one that the Rev. Joe Chambers presented, highlighting the campus ministry at the University of Missouri. [That's "M-I-Z-Z-O-U" for the rest of you.] Joe is sine qua non.

Think the Episcopal Church is getting all fuddy-duddy? Take 2 minutes and watch his video.

His video brought the convention to its feet.

Our diocese is committed to rebuilding support for campus ministries. With folks like Joe, Andrew, and Teresa, we're on a solid foundation. [And a personal aside: David & Tom, I realize they are standing on the shoulders of giants.]