A little housekeeping

One of these days, you are going to be able to leave a comment on the various blogs that compose the Episcopal Cafe. But that day has not yet come. We will announce it loudly when it does. Thanks for your patience. While waiting for the blessed day, please have a look at our feedback policy, and note that we won't be publishing anonymous comments, or comments from individuals whom we know are using a pseudonym. If you've got a nom de net that you like to use, that's fine, just put in in parenthesis after your real name.

To lead in hard times

By Elizabeth Zivanov

Some time ago, I was conversing online with a friend and made the comment, “A weak leader is much more dangerous than no leader.” The focus of the discussion was on the current resident of Lambeth Palace. Responding to her questioning, I said that with no leadership we have at least the possibility that an effective leader may emerge; with a weak leader, we have an even stronger possibility that the Communion will be led into chaos and destruction.

Rowan Williams is a weak leader. Such diverse figures as Jesus Christ, Katharine Jefferts Schori, and Peter Akinola are all effective leaders. What distinguishes effective leaders is the level of passion and compassion that tempers their leadership: effective leaders can be harsh or compassionate, gentle or dictatorial, but they attract a strong following. Surely Rowan Williams has tried to be an effective leader; one cannot doubt his commitment to the Anglican Communion. However, like so many in our church, he lacks both experience and training that might prepare him for leadership on this global platform. Nor does he does appear to have innate abilities. In church-talk, we might say the Archbishop lacks the gift – the charism – of effective leadership. Is it in the best interests of the Communion, then, that he continue as Archbishop of Canterbury?

Read more »

Jesus' family values

By Deirdre Good

Modern families are being transformed: since 2005, statistics show that more women in America live by themselves and married couples now are in a minority. Our daughters, nieces and grandchildren are growing up into a world where being single will be normal at least for longer periods of time. The social and economic implications of this new situation include the reality that single women are heads of households.

Christian commentators who see a nuclear family as normative might want to describe this new reality as evidence of a further decline in family values. In fact, this new family configuration pries open a discussion of what family values were in Jesus' time. Paul's letters describe women like Phoebe as leaders of communities and heads of households. Households were not private and secluded as they might be today, but rather public and accessible to strangers. Heads of households, no matter how small, would have been responsible for slaves. Households then as now included relatives; in the gospels, Luke describes a household of five: father, son, mother, daughter, and mother-in-law. Modern households might include children and ageing parents, grandchildren and grandparents, and children alongside grandchildren. As for Jesus' own family of origin, gospel writers never speak of Joseph as Jesus' father. True, Jesus prohibited divorce but then Jesus wasn't married.

Jesus was ahead of the curve in regard to single women. They were disciples, followers, conversation partners and friends. Jesus treated mothers as heads of households, married women as independent from their marriage and as single people. Women disciples and followers of Jesus included Mary Magdalene, Susanna, Joanna, and many others who provided economic support for Jesus' ministry. Jesus’ conversation partners included single parents like the Canaanite woman whose daughter Jesus healed, and married women like the woman at the well with whom Jesus preferred to dialogue as if she were single: "You are right in saying 'I have no husband' for you have had five husbands and he whom you now have is not your husband," Jesus tells her.

Jesus' itinerant ministry implies that female and male disciples must be willing and able to leave families of origin. Luke, the gospel writer who identifies wealthy and mobile female followers of Jesus, implies that Susanna was sufficiently affluent to make a financial contribution to the mission, sufficiently free of household responsibilities to accompany the mission and sufficiently healthy to serve.

Joanna is identified by her husband Chuza, a "steward" or a governor, overseer, or high-ranking administrator, with either economic or political authority in Herod's domain, attached to his private estate or appointed over a political district. Joanna is a continuing member of the mission, and is mentioned by name as a witness to the resurrection. Has she separated from Chuza? If Joanna follows the mission as a woman who has separated from her husband, then perhaps Luke is emphasizing the magnitude of personal sacrifice which disciples are willing to make; but then, where is Joanna getting the resources she is using to support the mission? Independently wealthy women did exist in Jesus' world, but one of the socio-economic reasons for opposition to divorce was the destitution it often imposed on a divorced woman. Perhaps Joanna has not, in fact, separated from her husband, but has gone on mission with Chuza's permission or perhaps even under his direction. Luke may be implying that Chuza the steward of Herod approves of the mission sufficiently to be willing to second his wife to it and undergo the consequent deprivation.

A resurrected Jesus first appeared to a single woman, Mary Magdalene, according to John's gospel. She is commissioned to tell the other disciples what she has seen and heard.

Family values are attributes and qualities affirmed socially and transmitted from one generation to another. Perhaps Jesus learned affirmation of women as independent followers, conversation partners, and friends from his mother. After all, she was an educated Jewish woman who almost became a single parent.

Deirdre Good, professor at the General Theological Seminary, is author most recently of Jesus' Family Values (2006). She keeps the blog, On Not Being a Sausage.

Baptizing technology

By Nick Knisely

I’ve been fascinated for years by technology and the way humanity uses it to solve problems. So not surprisingly, when I became a priest in the Episcopal Church, I found myself wondering a lot about how the Church and its mission are being molded by our changing technology.

This idea that the Church is molded by technology may seem counter-intuitive to those who are familiar with the rhythm and shape of our worship services. Much of what happens on Sundays and the special days of the church year is rooted in antiquity (and occasionally anachronism). The white robes we wear on such occasions are descended from the roman toga that was last worn commonly at least a thousand years ago. The bread and the wine are descended from Hebrew practices from a time three thousand or so years before that. And yet, the structure of modern church and its daily life (and worship life) are what they are in large part out of reaction to and because of technological innovations.

I’m not thinking about the Internet or the rise of the new media when I say this. Rather I’m thinking about the innovation that technology brings and the changes that happen to daily life as a result. For example, I can argue that the Church in the United States is still learning to come to terms with the fundamental changes that cars—and more importantly freeways—have brought to our culture.

Though I’ve not done the research to say this conclusively, my instincts tell me that the numerical decline of the Episcopal Church relative to the population of the United States is due in large measure to the fact that our parishes are still mostly in urban centers, but many of our parishioners (historically speaking) have migrated to the suburbs and exurbs. The denominations that have grown explosively in the past four or five decades are ones that have moved aggressively to plant new congregations with LARGE parking lots which cater to a motoring and mobile society better than a large downtown building with no parking and few bathrooms. Because the Episcopal Church has, by and large, been slow off the mark in responding to population migration we’ve declined and they’ve grown. (It has less to do with theological orientation than many people think, though the fact that more theologically conservative denominations are also often more evangelistically-oriented and more committed to new church starts has to be recognized.)

In other words, the numerical decline of the Episcopal Church may be caused as much by changing technology and our inability to respond to it as it is anything else. I wouldn’t be surprised if a shift of similar proportions wasn’t upon the church now as well.

As technology makes it easier for business and industry to customize their products for to the taste and needs of individuals, those same individuals are coming to expect the same sort of customization in the rest of their lives and from their faith. The rise of Gods carefully crafted in our image is less a result of a rising tide of selfishness and narcissism than it is a direct consequence of a person’s everyday experience of what has come to be normal. In a society saturated with messages that proclaim “Have it your way!”, why should we expect people to instinctively understand that learning to be accountable to a community and to God by dying to self is going to be the path to Truth and happiness? And yet, paradoxically dying to self is the way to true happiness and part of our mission as catholic Christians is to show that it is just so.

I don’t believe however that the solution is to loudly decry the rise of individualism in the West, or to point fingers at people whom we decide are acting selfishly. The interactions between society, religion and technological innovation are much too subtle and deep to expect such tactics be successful. The good news though, is that we have in our treasure an antidote. We have the ability to see the world through the eyes of people from different cultures and from different times.

The same technology that allows us to “narrow-cast” information to small sub-groups of people, can also make it possible for us to hear the voices of the sorts of people we might never have encountered before. It’s no longer remarkable that we can read in real-time the words of people who live in war zone. We can see, for instance, the horror of war directly without having it filtered by our society’s own lenses. Learning to see our own actions through the eyes of others makes it a great deal easier for us to truly love our others as ourselves—because technology allows us to become their neighbors.

But frankly, more importantly, we have in our treasure a gift that will allow us to see ourselves not just in the eyes of others, but in the eyes of God. The lessons that we have in the Bible, the collected experiences of the God’s people over thousands of years and the stories and teachings of Jesus give us a timeless perspective upon our own lives. And I think it’s that perspective that can allow us to be proactive and not reactive in the way that we use technology.

I’d frankly much rather we started being proactive. Learning to intentionally manage the changes that innovation is bringing is the first step to our re-claiming our call to tell the world about Jesus. Thanks be to God that the primary tool we need to do this is found in our weekly antiquated and occasionally anachronistic Sunday services. If we learn to use the perspective that this gives us, we then will learn to use the technology we develop so that it serves us, rather than having us react to it.

The Very Rev. W. Nicholas Knisely is dean of Trinity Cathedral in Phoenix, Ariz., and chair of the Episcopal Church's Standing Commission on Communications. He blogs at Entangled States.

Image (detail) "Communion" by Camilla Brunschwyler Armstrong

All talk

By Steven Charleston

Have you been watching the media recently? If you have, I am sure you have been aware of the triple header from our nation’s campuses: Duke, Rutgers and Virginia Tech. Three major universities. Three major stories. And all involved in different shades of the perennial question of race in America. But what do these stories have in common? What do the good young men of Duke, the good young women of Rutgers, and the lost young man of Virginia all share that can help us discover a message about where this nation is in its efforts to find racial/gender equality?

There is more than one answer, but here is the most obvious: their stories were played out in the media. While the men of Duke were certainly caught up in a legal issue, it was one of those now familiar moments when the lines of distinction between the courtroom and the public media become blurred. Like the O.J. trial, it was a public spectacle as much as a legal proceeding.

In the same way, the women’s team from Rutgers received ten times more coverage from the attack by Don Imus than they did from their pursuit of the national women’s basketball championship. And the tragedy of Virginia Tech has been a media vigil that will stay in the public consciousness for many years to come. The face of a Korean American pointing his guns at the camera is too powerful to be easily forgotten.

White, Black, Asian: the issues of race and justice, race and violence, have become something like reality TV for the American public. But have we stopped watching long enough to notice that all of these news stories are about the outcomes of a broken society, not about its healing?

The Civil Rights movement was the first time that race broke into the media in a meaningful, life changing way. The images of Black marchers being attacked by police dogs or battered by water cannons riveted America, but their true impact was felt in other sectors of our culture, places where change could actually take place. The Civil Rights movement showed America its racism, but it also forced that question into action in our government, our justice system, our schools, our business community. We were not only watching race relations on television, we were translating those images into change where it counted.

Are we still doing that? Or are we content just to watch? Unless all of the images from Rodney King to the Rutgers team can be transformed into systemic change, what ultimate value do they have for us beyond shock value and sorrow? And unless the predictable media figures who always surface as color commentators for these tragedies can be replaced by leadership of the stature of a Martin Luther King, what hope do we have for moving the story from the flat screen into the real centers of power where they can effect genuine change? The answer is troublingly unclear and uncertain. Our will to confront causes more than images is unsure. Our leadership is content to be talking heads. In the meantime, we are watching more than we are doing.

The Rt. Rev. Steven Charleston, former Bishop of Alaska, is president and dean of Episcopal Divinity School. His daily podcasts are collected at EDS’ Stepping Stones.

Health care redux

By Marshall Scott

I suppose I could say that everything old is new again. The topic of health care for all Americans has come back into the political arena. All the candidates for the Democratic nomination for president in 2008 have developed plans. We have new plans in place or proposed in Maine, Massachusetts, California, and Pennsylvania. As one who remembers well the efforts in the first years of the Clinton Administration, I have been interested to see this all come back again. As a hospital chaplain, it is a matter of great professional interest.

Episcopalians should know this is a subject on which the General Convention has spoken a number of times. In fact the General Convention had been speaking on health care for all as far back as 1988. That 69th General Convention passed Resolution 1988-D108, titled, “Advocate for Appropriate Health Care for All Who Are Ill”:

Resolved, the House of Deputies concurring, That this 69th General Convention direct the Presiding Bishop and the Executive Council, in light of the strains upon the health care system exerted by the AIDS Epidemic, to direct the Washington D.C. office of the Episcopal Church in the United States of America to adopt a strategy to advocate for all persons suffering from illness by creating appropriate levels of cost-effective health care, for example, hospices and alternative health care facilities.

This resolution was followed at the 70th General Convention in 1991 by two resolutions, A010, “Advocate Legislation for Comprehensive Health Care;” and A099, “Call for a System of Universal Access to Health Care.” Both called for universal health care as a basic right, the former calling for advocacy from agencies of the Episcopal Church, and the latter for action in the federal government. (A similar resolution, C032, “Health Care for All Americans,” passed the House of Bishops in the most recent General Convention, but was not considered by the House of Deputies due to time constraints.)

The most complete statement on the topic, however, was passed at the 71st General Convention in 1994. That resolution was A057, “Adopt Church Principles on Access to Health Care:”

Resolved, the House of Bishops concurring, That this 71st General Convention of the Episcopal Church adopt the following four principles as the position of the Episcopal Church regarding health care:

That universal access to quality, cost effective, health care services be considered necessary for everyone in the population.

That "quality health care" be defined so as to include programs in preventive medicine, where wellness is the first priority.

That "quality health care" include interdisciplinary and interprofessional components to insure the care of the whole person--physiological, spiritual, psychological, social.

That "quality health care" include the balanced distribution of resources so that no region of the country is underserved.

The most interesting aspect of these principles is their inclusion under the definition of “quality health care.” In the early 1990’s we were first seeing the spreading within the health care industry of principles of performance improvement and quality management (about which I have also written). The understanding of “quality health care” in the quality management environment has been based on clinical and organizational outcomes. In 1994-A057 we as the Episcopal Church asserted that to provide “quality health care” also required certain social justice outcomes. For us, I believe these outcomes would be considered essential if we were to “seek and service Christ in all persons, loving [our] neighbor as [ourselves],” and to “strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being.” (From the Baptismal Covenant, Book of Common Prayer, page 305).

It remains to be seen whether the various state experiments or proposed plans will produce quality health care, either in the sense of better clinical outcomes, or in the sense of fulfilling the social outcomes that we as the Episcopal Church would seek. It will be, I think, worth the effort. But however it turns out, we have made clear in actions of General Convention our own goals and standards: to provide health care for all persons, care for whole persons from cradle to grave. This will clearly be an issue in the next elections, both at state and national levels. Think what it might mean if we all made clear to those we support that we also support these statements of the Church in General Convention.

The Rev. Marshall Scott is a chaplain in the Saint Luke’s Health System, a ministry of the Diocese of West Missouri. He blogs at Episcopal Chaplain at the Bedside.

Good bye, a little

Hi all,

Among the things I enjoyed most about covering baseball in New York in the mid-80s was getting on the subway in the morning and seeing people absorbed in my story about the Mets’ game of the previous night. There is something gratifying about being part of the daily life of people whom you don’t know and may never speak to. It has to do with pride, I suppose, but in a deeper way, with shared experience—communion.

I’ve felt that same pleasure working on Daily Episcopalian, and, as the nature of my involvement in the blog is about to change, I wanted to thank everyone who visited the site, and corresponded with me. Our new site may be online as early as tomorrow and almost certainly by Monday, and I didn’t want you to show up at this address and think I had left without saying goodbye.

While I am deeply involved in the new site, I won’t be writing nearly as much, so our interactions will be more limited. Please keep coming back, though. We’ve got good stuff in store, and I’ve got people I want you to meet.

Cheers,
Jim

Rowan of the North

EpiScope has an excellent round-up of press coverage of the Archbishop of Canterbury's visit to Canada.

And The Anglican Planet offers this partial transcript of Rowan Williams' Monday press conference. He still sounds to me very much like a man who, for all his brilliance, has no idea of how large scale societal and ecclesiastical changes happen. He seems to see the church as one large religious order in which everyone has agreed to a rule of life, and that no changes in behavior can occur until the understandings on which those changes are based are universally accepted. I don't know whehter that works in monastic communities, but it isn't an outlook suited to a 77 million-member communion with churches in 166 countires.

Church for the 21st Century

The Rev. Howard Anderson, Warden and President of the Cathedral College has news of an exciting conference coming up May 10-12:

Church for the 21st Century:
A Gathering to Envision, Encourage and Energize Congregations

Dear Friend:

Join the journey of generous-spirited Christians creating the church for the 21st century. Come join us at Washington National Cathedral to reflect on the direction of the church. Share in creating a time of holy space in worship, music, meals and prayer. Explore key areas including worship, hospitality, discernment, tradition, justice, formation and beauty, drawn from Diana Butler Bass’ latest book Christianity for the Rest of Us.

We are pleased to announce presentations by leading theologians and practitioners including:

Diana Butler Bass, Michael Battle, Marcus Borg, Fred Burnham, Carmen Guerrero, Tony Jones, Samuel Lloyd, Barbara Brown Taylor and Phyllis Tickle.

Conference activities also include: best practices sessions with examples from thriving congregations; a wide variety of community conversation circles for networking; shared meals; and roundtable discussions.

Schedule and Fees: The conference runs from Thursday, May 10 at 2 pm until Saturday, May 12 with the conclusion of the noon Eucharist. The registration fee of $250 includes program costs, Thursday dinner, Friday lunch, Friday “Eucharist meal” and Friday evening reception.

There's more information, and online registration here. A tentative schedule lurks beneath the "continue reading" tab.

Read more »

South Carolina to try again with Lawrence

The Standing Committee of the Diocese of South Carolina plans to reconvene the annual meeting of the diocese to re-elect the Rev. Mark Lawrence as bishop. Lawrence didn't get the necessary consents from the Standing Committees of other dioceses last time around, but it seems likely, though not certain, that this time he will.

On Faith examines the shootings at Virgiia Tech

Bishop John Bryson Chane is participating in the Washington Post's On Faith forum regarding the shootings yesterday at Virginia Tech. Bishop Jane Holmes Dixon, who led our diocese before Bishop Chane, has made a contribution as well.

Globe and Mail: Rowan Williams doesn't like draft covenant

NIck Knisely has unearthed this little bit of dynamite in a Toronto Globe and Mail story bearing the ho-hum headline: Same-sex conflict tearing church apart, leader says

The key paragraphs:

"He also told Anglican divinity students at the University of Toronto in a closed meeting that he found unacceptable a draft covenant presented to the senior archbishops, or primates, that would allow the communion to boot out member churches deemed to have stepped out of line doctrinally on issues such as sexuality. Such a move would be a first in Anglicanism's 400-year-old history.

But he rejected a suggestion made earlier by the Canadian primate, Archbishop Andrew Hutchison, that he defer next year's world gathering of Anglican bishops -- the decennial Lambeth Conference -- at which differences will be underscored between the liberal wings of Anglicanism and the more conservative churches in the Southern Hemisphere."

Here is a small bet that this will prompt a "clarification" of elaboration from the Lambeth press office.

Update: Have a look in the comments to see the G&M's story disputed.

The Armstrong case in perspective

The Rev. Andrew Gerns of the Diocese of Bethlehem has cast recent events in Colorado Springs in illuminating perspective.

He writes:

None of this is good for anyone. [the Rev. Don] Armstrong has damaged his own cause more than he can know. He seems to have been as clever and evasive with the handling of the funds (and the name) of the Anglican Communion Institute as he seems to have been in his own parish. He has led his parish into a dreadful split, and he has caused confusion in the ACI and their allied groups. Clearly the leadership of the ACI thought they were in charge of what they were not, and at a crucial moment in the life of the church, they are in disarray....

Those, like me, who disagree with the essential thread of the ACI's analysis and approach, might be tempted to gloat like the occasional psalmist. But I find no joy in these events whatsoever. This has made an already complicated situation even more complex, and emotions are so hardened that it makes reconciliation even more difficult. This is a scandal in the truest sense of the word.....

As I reflect on these events, I am absolutely stunned that the ACI has found itself in this mess. I mean, this is a group whose reason for being is to think and write about the structural solutions to the problems within the Episcopal Church. I have a dreadful admiration for their ability to conceptualize their ideas and turn them into political reality. And yet, the ACI was amazingly lax in forming and overseeing their own organization. Their own words indicate that they seemed to have no practical appreciation of the details of actually running their own group...until it was too late.

The souls of the departed

Derek has posted links to the morning and evening Offices of the Dead at haligweorc, and that seems an appropriate way to mark this mournful day.

Rowan Williams on listening properly to The Bible

Find a summary, followed by the full lecture, here.

Perhaps I am mistaken, but the Archbishop appears to be putting a few more of his own intellectual cards on the table.

Please pray for everybody at Virginia Tech

At least 32 are dead and 24 are injured in the deadliest shooting spree in American history, says The Washington Post.

Updated: Episcopal Campus Ministry reaches out.

A meeting in September?

I'm hearing that Rowan Williams has said he is willing to meet with our bishops in September. Details to come.

UPDATE: Details are here, courtesy of Canadian Press.

The story begins: TORONTO (CP) - The spiritual head of Anglicans worldwide announced Monday that he'll meet with the American church to discuss the controversy surrounding same-sex marriage and gay priests.

UPDATED AGAIN: Episcopal Life Online is also on the story. Here is their version in its entirety:

Lambeth Palace] The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, has announced that he intends to visit the United States this fall in response to the invitation from the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church.

Speaking in a press conference in Toronto April 16, Williams said he would undertake the visit together with members of the Standing Committee of the Primates and the Anglican Consultative Council.

"I look forward to some sharing of our experiences as pastors as well as discussion of the business of the Communion," he said. "These are complicated days for our church internationally and its all the more important to keep up personal relationships and conversations ... My aim is to try and keep people around the table for as long as possible on this, to understand one another, and to encourage local churches."

(This turns out to be a press release from Lambeth Palace.)

UPDATED YET AGAIN: The Toronto Globe and Mail story is here.

And the Anglican Journal story is here, and includes the following:

"At the Toronto news conference, Archbishop Williams said he intends to go to the September conference with several members of the standing committee of the Anglican Consultative Council, an internationally representative group. He said he also hoped to understand, from the meeting, the problems the primates’ request is causing for the American church, under its constitution. “I’m still waiting to see what the Episcopal Church will come up with as an alternative. The reaction was a very strongly worded protest against what they see as interference, but if not that, then what? I’ve spoken privately to people in the United States and am waiting to see,” he said. "

And here's the Toronto Star.

A little housekeeping

The developer who is building our new blog site suggests that everyone update their browsers. The new site shoudl be live either late this week or early next. We've been trying to figure out whether those of you who are already registered as commenters on Daily Episcopalian will have to re-register. It appears that you will. More news on the new site as it becomes available.

Visit Mark

The keeper of Preludium assesses developments within the Anglican Communion since the Primates Meeting in Dar es Salaam and the House of Bishops Meeting in Texas. He writes:

The Primates Communiqué has produced dry bones: Not a single one of its demands of the Episcopal Church are sustaining, meaty, nourishing, and flourishing. They are dry, desiccated, eviscerated.

It is time to put new meat on the bones, new sinew, new flesh, and new skin. The Anglican Communion is alive and well, but not there, in the abstract land of primatial discussion groups gone awry.

The Anglican Communion is alive in mostly lowly places. We in the Episcopal Church have friends, companions, and fellow travelers all over the world. They are in places we least expect. The Archbishop of Nigeria may be opposed to us, but people on the ground will make relationship with companions in faith wherever they may be found. The Church in Uganda may stand opposed to our stance on inclusion, but there are people there as here who will find ways and means to relate to people here.

The ACI disassociates itself from its Web site

Update: click on "continue reading" to see the Diocese of Colorado's statement.

Deep into damage control, the ACI says: "In consequence of the legal and ecclesiastical struggles Grace Church and Fr Armstrong are now engaged with, we judge it proper to dissolve our relationship with the web-site and all activities of Grace Church (CANA or TEC), so that the charges of the Presentment and other matters of public trust and ecclesial jurisdiction might be resolved without interference."

So "six guys with a Web site" are now three guys--or is it five guys?--without a Web site. Yet (Hey, senorita, that's astute) they still call themselves an "institute." And Christopher Setiz is still "president."

In demonstrating the durability of their pretensions, however, the guys--excuse me, the Fellows--have not cleared up the confusion about their relationship with Armstrong and Grace Church. Sarah Dylan Breuer points out, a few inconvenient facts.

(And Jake provides some good background.)

Meanwhile, the aforementioned Rev. Don Armstrong, who unti this morning was the executive director of the ACI, defended himself against the presentment for financial misconduct brought against him by the Diocese of Colorado.

Read more »

Scapegoats of the world unite!

The Rev. Luis Rodriguez writes in today's Times of London:

"But still the mechanism of scapegoating dies hard, and it is so tempting to blame in the hope of finding the Anglican holy grail of unity. That’s how scapegoating works: it demands the demonisation of the other as the price of social cohesion. But were the Episcopal Church to do as some demand; to condemn homosexuality, depose Gene Robinson and do penance for its “transgressions”, would that stem the divide? Were it excluded from the Anglican Communion, would unity be achieved?

Scapegoating never solves the real causes of crises. It only delays their honest confrontation, and if we are honest this is a crisis that the Anglican Communion has been sidestepping for years. What we need now more than unity is honesty."

Read it all.

Former Canadian Primate: don't give in

From the Toronto Star:

OTTAWA–Choosing his words carefully, the longtime former leader of the Canadian Anglican Church opened a conference on gay rights in the church last night with a gentle, but deliberate, nudge toward acceptance and a rejection of rigid doctrine.

"Matters of doctrine become matters of control," Michael Peers, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada from 1986 to 2004, said, breaking three years of public silence.

"That's something you need to take away with you in the coming events."

I liked this part: ""Generally speaking, the tradition in the church has been, I don't like what is happening in my church, so I must leave."

"Not, I don't like what is happening – you must leave."

Read it all.

The Star also has an article about the controversy caused by Archbishop Andrew Hutchison's recent remarks about Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury.

42

Sixty years ago tomorrow, Jackie Robinson broke Major League Baseball's color barrier.

You can visit Jackie's Hall of Fame page, read some of The New York Times' coverage of Robinson's career or peruse the package that MLB.com has put together for your edification.

The Philadelphia Daily News has a nice piece on Robinson's relationship with Brooklyn Dodgers' president Branch Rickey. But the best treatment I've read of Robinson's story is Baseball's Great Experiment: Jackie Robinson and His Legacy by Jules Tygiel. Among its many strengths is Tygiel's understanding that the integration of baseball was the culmination of a lengthy campaign that involved not just Robinson, Rickey and some now-legendary black sportswriters, but black players and fans in minor league cities throughout the country. He's particularly good at illustrating the ways in which the struggle to integrate Major League Baseball served as a tactical trial run for the civil rights movement.

Colorado Springs Independent on the Armstrong case

Ralph Routon of the Colorado Springs Independent offers this commentary on the case of the Rev. Don Armstrong and Grace Church. An excerpt:

"And people wonder why churches aren't as large or influential as they once were. Especially when a congregation as established and deep-rooted as Grace's can split in such a deplorable manner — with the "breakaway" group seizing control of the church complex and embracing a Nigerian archbishop who believes homosexuals and their supporters should be imprisoned.

Let's be more specific. Archbishop Peter Akinola supports the idea of Nigeria's government making same-sex relationships criminal. He also favors Nigeria outlawing positive publicity for homosexuals "through the electronic or print media, physically, directly, indirectly or otherwise," meaning up to five years in prison for the Independent staff or any media giving favorable coverage to, say, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance or Southern Colorado AIDS Project.

That's beyond religious bigotry. It's fanaticism. And it's scary for one of Colorado Springs' most historic churches to be so fractured — with so many embracing another group of Anglicans with such outrageous stances."

In denial: The Economist on African homophobia

In a nice twist of missionary history, several of America's oldest and richest Anglican parishes now claim to be under the authority of African bishops. The issue that has led them to renounce their own national leadership is homosexuality; some of the minority of Anglicans (or Episcopalians) who object to gay bishops in American dioceses are aligning with conservatives in Africa.

The most influential is Archbishop Peter Akinola, who leads the 17m-strong Anglican church in Nigeria, as well as his new congregants in Virginia. His hostility to homosexuality may reflect mainstream African opinion, but he is pragmatic too. His conservative reading of the Bible helps protect his Anglican flank against the fast-growing Pentecostalists. It also seeks common ground with Nigeria's homophobic Muslims.

Read it all.

The Bishop of Connecticut is cleared

Updated with the Hartford Courant's story.

From the diocese:

An elected Episcopal Church review committee has decided to drop all charges brought against Bishop Andrew D. Smith by the rectors and vestries of six parishes in the Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut.

Those rectors and some of their vestry members (elected lay leaders) had filed ecclesiastical charges against their bishop, alleging inappropriate application of canon (church) law, among other charges. The charges stemmed from the six rectors’ disagreement with Bishop Smith’s decision to support the consecration of Bishop V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire, and their refusal to accept the Bishop’s attempts at reconciliation including delegation of another bishop to them.

“I am thankful to learn that the Title IV Review Committee found no cause to bring a Presentment based on the charges filed against me by the complaining clergy and lay members of this Diocese who found themselves at odds with my decisions and actions as Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut,” said the Rt. Rev. Andrew D. Smith in a statement. “My desire has always been to bring reconciliation with the clergy and laity who sought to dissociate themselves from the oversight of their bishop and the mission and life of the Diocese of Connecticut. I will never abandon that desire and hope.

“The Episcopal Church has invested significant time and expense in responding to the charges which were filed by these members of the Diocese of Connecticut in 2005. I am deeply grateful for the care and thoroughness with which the Review Committee and the Church Attorney have investigated and considered the evidence, and I am thankful for their finding."

Read it all. (And note a correction in the Comments. The review committee isn't elected, but appointed.)

A rapid descent

Updated: The letter is now online. (Hat tip: Frank)

Updated again: And now a response from the senior warden.

Paul Asay of the Colorado Springs Gazette has been doing must-read coverage of the controversy surrounding the Rev. Don Armstrong, executive director of the Anglican Communion Institute, which just a few month ago seemed to have the Anglican Communion eating out of its hand. Asay contributes to the blog Faith at Altitude, and he's got two fresh entries worth reading online right now.

One concerns a letter that will appear in tomorrow's Gazette from 19 former vestry members at Grace Church and St. Stephen's, Armstrong's parish, questioning Armstrong's conduct.

From the blog:

"(The Rev. Donald) Armstrong is exploiting theological divisions within the Episcopal Church to avoid a canonical investigation about his alleged financial wrongdoing," the letter says. "He has defied church and civil law by occupying and taking property from the church he and his allies left. We cannot keep silent."

Bishops in the news

Bishop V. Gene Robinson supports civil unions for gay couples in New Hampshire.

Meanwhile, the bishops of Newark and New Jersey think Don Imus should clean up his act.

San Joaquin wants a vicar

Father Dan Martins has the story.

He writes:

The Standing Committee of the Diocese of San Joaquin (of which I am a member--that is, both of the diocese and of the SC) has written Bishop Schofield a request to use his influence with the Windsor (aka "Camp Allen") Bishops to fulfill their role in the plan enunciated by February's Primates' Communique by nominating a candidate for the position of Primatial Vicar by June 1st

Behold, he cometh! Sort of

The Archbishop of Canterbury, that is.

Stephen Bates has the story in tomorrow's People column in the Guardian. Here it is in its entirety:

Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, is still hesitating about whether to accept an invitation from American bishops to meet them to discuss the gay crisis in the Anglican communion, even though it turns out that he is spending part of the summer in the US. The American Episcopalians are threatened with expulsion from the worldwide church after September because of their welcoming attitude towards gays and, following a meeting last month, their bishops asked to meet Dr Williams to explain their point of view. You might think that the archbishop would want to meet them, not least since they provide much of the money which keeps the Anglican mission going. His answer instead is that he is planning to spend much of the next three months on sabbatical and holiday, so won't be available. What the Church of England hasn't said is that he'll be in the US. Asked yesterday whether he might offer them a little time, Williams's spokesman said: "No, that's off limits."

Where will he be visiting? Let the speculative frenzy begin!

Archbishop Williams to speak to Canadian press

The Archbishop of Canterbury will hold a press conference in Toronto on Monday morning. He will be in Canada to lead a retreat for Canadian bishops. Perhaps he will disclose where is planning to spend his sabbatical in June and July. Parts of the United States are very nice at that time of year.

More on the Armstrong saga

I haven't been able to keep pace with the debate over the presentment against the Rev. Don Armstrong, rector of Grace Church and St. Stephen's in Colorado Springs, and executive director of the Anglican Communion Institute. But there have been some helpful observations, especially among commenters, on other blogs. C. B., who posts here regularly has posed some excellent questions and gotten some revealing answers from at least one of the players in this drama, the Rev. Dr. Christopher Setiz, president of the ACI, who, before the Armstrong story broke, was urging the Windsor bishops to invade Grenada. Or something like that.

Kendall Harmon presents a round-up of the media coverage here. Make sure to read the comments.

Mark Harris wonders how Bishop Martyn Minns will respond if it turns out that Armstrong is guilty of the charges against him. (Armstrong and his parish have decamped for the Church of Nigeria in which Minns is a missionary bishop.)

Simon Sarmiento has good links and conversation as well.

FNL on NPR

Hat tip to Lionel Deimel who noiticed that Peter Berg, executive producer of NBC's Friday Night Lights, who also directed and co-wrote the 2004 film of the same title, will be a guest on NPR's Fresh Air program today.

The season finale airs tonight at 8 EST. In a cruel twist of fate, I will be unable to watch. So if you see me on the street, DON't TELL ME WHAT HAPPENS, I plan to watch it online over the weekend.

Executive Council drafters begin work on response to Primates

[Episcopal News Service] An Executive Council work group, appointed by Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and House of Deputies President Bonnie Anderson, has begun considering the role, responsibilities and potential response of the Executive Council to the issues raised by the recent communiqué from the Primates of the Anglican Communion.

The Executive Council called for the work group via Resolution EC008, passed at its March 2-4 meeting in Portland, Oregon.

The work group members are Bishop David Alvarez (Diocese of Puerto Rico); Bishop Jon Bruno (Diocese of Los Angeles); the Rev. Dr. Ian Douglas (Diocese of Massachusetts; Sherry Denton (Diocese of Western Kansas); Dr. Delbert Glover (Diocese of Western Massachusetts); the Rev. Canon Mark Harris (Diocese of Delaware); the Rev. Gay Jennings (Diocese of Ohio); the Rev. Timothy Kimbrough (Diocese of North Carolina); and Bishop Stacy Sauls (Diocese of Lexington). Resolution EC008 named Anderson, who is also vice president of Executive Council, to chair the work group. (Jefferts Schori is president of Executive Council.) Sally Johnson, Anderson’s chancellor, is a consultant to the work group.

Anderson convened the group by conference call for the first time on April 4. The members reviewed a draft foundational working paper, compiled at Anderson’s request by Sally Johnson, her chancellor. After a final review by the group, the resulting draft will be used as the foundational working document regarding the role and responsibilities of Executive Council, Anderson said.

Read it all.

Sexual attraction: All in the genes?

"When it comes to the matter of desire, evolution leaves little to chance. Human sexual behavior is not a free-form performance, biologists are finding, but is guided at every turn by genetic programs.

Desire between the sexes is not a matter of choice. Straight men, it seems, have neural circuits that prompt them to seek out women; gay men have those prompting them to seek other men. Women’s brains may be organized to select men who seem likely to provide for them and their children. The deal is sealed with other neural programs that induce a burst of romantic love, followed by long-term attachment.

So much fuss, so intricate a dance, all to achieve success on the simple scale that is all evolution cares about, that of raising the greatest number of children to adulthood. Desire may seem the core of human sexual behavior, but it is just the central act in a long drama whose script is written quite substantially in the genes."

So writes Nicholas Wade on the front page of today's New York Times . If what he is saying is true, it obviouly has enormous implications for ongoing debates about sexual morality.

How solid does the scientific evidence presented in the piece seem to you? And if homosexuality is biologically determined, how does that affect your views on the morality of monogamous gay partnerships?

Canadian Primate critiques Williams' "indecisive" leadership

Archbishop Andrew Hutchison of Canada has issued a stinging critique of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams just a week before Williams is to lead a spiritual retreat for Canadian bishops in Niagara, Ontario. Hutchinson, an ally of the Episcopal Church is urging Williams to meet with the Episcopal Church's House of Bishops.

Niagara is just on the other side of the border, but I am sure all entrances to the retreat center will be guarded against purple-shirted interlopers attempting guerrilla reconciliation.

The Telegraph has the story.

The Diocese of West Missouri has a message

Two actually.

Bishop Barry R. Howe's statement on the recent House of Bishops meeting is here. In it, he writes:

"From the mid-nineteenth century, the Anglican Communion has always been understood as a group of autonomous churches who worship in the Anglican tradition, whose polity is built around the episcopate and local expressions of community, and who seek to work together in growing mission work throughout the world. It has been a mission-driven alliance under the spiritual leadership of the Archbishop of Canterbury. In the past decade, a new understanding of the Anglican Communion seems to be developing which seeks to be structural in the alliance of the churches. The structure appears to be one where authority is becoming centralized, and where creedal formulas and covenants are being proposed. This is a radical shift in the relationship of thirty-nine autonomous churches."

Dean Terry White of Grace and Holy Trinity Cathedral touched on similar issues in his Easter sermon, saying:

"When this Church moves the ladder, it must always be because we are seeking to follow the Holy Spirit in furthering our mission. And while pressures are mounting from overseas prelates that we live differently, the Episcopal Church’s mission will not be curtailed by threats or a call to submit to a neo-fundamentalism that is seeking to redefine Anglicanism. No Episcopalian should have to choose between belonging to the Anglican Communion or being an Inclusive Church. All are welcome at this Table where Christ is host.

Throughout our history as Episcopalians we have moved the ladder to recognize the gifts of men and women, lay and ordained, baptized people of all ethnicities, and right now, the ladder is moving again to embrace both gay and straight servants of Christ in building up the Kingdom of God. And by doing so, we take another step toward becoming more fully the Body of Christ – the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.

When move the ladder, it must be because we believe the Holy Spirit is leading us to embrace all that God embraces. Moving the ladder means to reject the Status Quo. And it means to repent for past wrongs."

(You will need to read the beginning of the sermon to understand the ladder metaphor. Hat tip Sara Copeland.)

The case against Don Armstrong

I have been slow to post the Diocese of Colorado's presentment against the Rev. Don Armstrong, executive director of the Anglican Communion Institute, mostly because I have been wary about getting caught up in every incremental development, every charge and counter charge in this increasingly bitter tale. This presentment, however, seems an important enough document, simply to offer it for your persual.

I was surprised to learn on pages 4 and 5 of the presentment that the ACI is a ministry of Grace Church and St. Stephen's, Armstrong's Colorado Springs parish, and to read the diocese's allegation that the checking accounts of the two institutions were used "interchangably."

There is no mention of Armstrong's parish on the ACI's Web site. There is a listing of a high powered board of directors, however, and I am wondering how it will respond if it turns out that the institute that has functioned as a conservative brain trust over the last three years was involved in questionable financial dealings.

My hunch is that they will make not a sound, but I could be wrong.

Breaking blog news: Change is gonna come

Some time in the next week or two, Daily Episcopalian will undergo a significant change, from a stand-alone blog to one element of a larger site, and from a one-person enterprise to group-effort supported by almost two dozen writers and editors, and an as-yet-unknown number of visual artists.

Our aspiration is to create a visually appealing, intellectually stimulating, spiritually enriching and at least occasionally amusing site where Episcopalians and those interested in our Church can reflect upon contemporary life in a context informed by faith and animated by the spirit of charity.

Our aim is frankly evangelical. To the extent that we can speak intelligently, passionately, persuasively and truthfully, to the degree that we can manifest wisdom, humility and genuine concern for those we disagree with, we will succeed in drawing Episcopalians more deeply into their faith, and in persuading those without a spiritual home to explore our Church.

The new site will still feature plenty of news and commentary on events in the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion, but will cast its nets more broadly, featuring more writing on spirituality, peace and justice initiatives and popular culture

The site that will appear in the next two weeks is a pilot version of the site we ultimately hope to produce. It will feature text, art and a few audio/visual meditations, but won’t yet include podcasts and video clips. We are still attempting to raise the money that would allow us to incorporate those features, and I’d be interested in any leads you might have.

I hope to have more details, and maybe even a launch date, in a few days. Thanks to everyone whose visits to Daily Episcopalian have persuaded me that there is an audience for the new site.

Jim Naughton

The AV Club on FNL: "Save this Show"

The season finale--and possibly the series finale of my beloved Friday Night Lights airs on Wednesday at 8 on NBC. The AV Club says this is a show worth saving.

Bishop Chane's Easter Sermon

"If we are truly living in the new life of the resurrected Jesus then we are an Easter people 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Death has no claim on us, and our lives are fully empowered to heal those whose lives are marginalized by violence, oppression and degradation. It is now time for all of us who believe that Easter can make a difference in the life of the world to walk a new journey of reconciliation, being seekers of peace and players on the world stage empowered by a God who commands us to make a difference by actively working and not just talking about the wholeness of all His people."

Click the "continue reading" tab to read it all.

Read more »

Descending Theology: The Resurrection

Happy Easter!

Descending Theology: The Resurrection
By Mary Karr

From the far star points of his pinned extremities,
cold inched in — black ice and squid ink —
till the hung flesh was empty.
Lonely in that void even for pain,
he missed his splintered feet,
the human stare buried in his face.
He ached for two hands made of meat
he could reach to the end of.
In the corpse's core, the stone fist
of his heart began to bang
on the stiff chest's door, and breath spilled
back into that battered shape. Now

it's your limbs he comes to fill, as warm water
shatters at birth, rivering every way.

From Sinners Welcome

Previewing the archbishop's Easter Sermon

Press release from Lambeth Palace

Archbishop – Human failure is overcome by God's love

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams says that the whole weight human failure cannot extinguish the creative love of God. In his Easter sermon, to be preached at Canterbury Cathedral this morning [Sunday 8th April, Easter Day], Dr Williams says that conflict and failure are part of the human condition, but that Jesus' death and Resurrection turns that on its head:

"We share one human story in which we are all caught up in one sad tangle of selfishness and fear and so on. But God has entered that human story; he has lived a life of divine and unconditional life in a human life of flesh and blood."

Click the "continue reading" tab to see it all.

Read more »

Holy Saturday

Holy Saturday has not inspired an outpouring of excellent poems, but here is a fine one from Denise Levertov called Ikon: The Harrowing of Hell. It begins as so:

"Down through the tomb's inward arch
He has shouldered out into Limbo
to gather them, dazed, from dreamless slumber:
the merciful dead, the prophets,
the innocents just His own age and those
unnumbered others waiting here
unaware, in an endless void He is ending
now, stooping to tug at their hands,
to pull them from their sarcophagi,
dazzled, almost unwilling. Didmas,
neighbor in death, Golgotha dust
still streaked on the dried sweat of his body
no one had washed and anointed, is here,
for sequence is not known in Limbo;
the promise, given from cross to cross
at noon, arches beyond sunset and dawn."

W. H. Auden's Horae Canonicae

Horae Canonicae

The phrase means canonical hours, and Auden has written a poem, set on Good Friday, for each of the seven offices of the monastic day.

An excerpt:

What we know to be not possible,
Though time after time foretold
By wild hermits, by shaman and sybil
Gibbering in their trances,
Or revealed to a child in some chance rhyme
Like will and kill, comes to pass
Before we realize it: we are surprised
At the ease and speed of our deed
And uneasy: It is barely three,
Mid-afternoon, yet the blood
Of our sacrifice is already
Dry on the grass; we are not prepared
For silence so sudden and so soon;
The day is too hot, too bright, too still,
Too ever, the dead remains too nothing.
What shall we do till nightfall?

Just as I was about to post this item I learned that the BBC's Radio 3 is featuring all seven poems at intervals throughout the day today. The poems are introduced by Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and read by the actor Tom Durham. You can listen here.

Good Friday

Descending Theology: The Crucifixion
By Mary Karr

To be crucified is first to lie down
on a shaved tree, and then to have oafs stretch you out
on a crossbar as if for flight, then thick spikes
fix you into place.

Once the cross pops up and the pole stob
sinks vertically in an earth hole perhaps
at an awkward list, what then can you blame for hurt
but your own self's burden?

You're not the figurehead on a ship. You're not
flying anywhere, and no one's coming to hug you.
You hang like that, a sack of flesh with the hard
trinity of nails holding you into place.

Thus hung, your ribcage struggles up
to breathe until you suffocate, give up the ghost.
If God permits this, one wonders how
this twirling earth

manages to navigate the gravities and star tugs.
Or if some less than loving watcher
watches us scuttle across the boneyard greens
under which worms

seethe and the front jaws of beetles
eventually clasp toward the flesh of every beloved.
The man on the cross under massed thunderheads feels
his soul leak away,

then surge. Some windy authority lures him higher
till an unseen tear in the sky's membrane is rent,
and he's streaming light, snatched back, drawn close,
so all loneliness ends.

You can listen to it here, (Scroll down to March 7.) and buy Karr's Sinners Welcome here.

Late breaking bishops' statements

I promised you Mississippi Bishop Duncan Gray's statement, and thanks to Lauren Auttonberry, here it is.

Bishop Charles Jenkins of Louisiana has weighed in, but I have to admit that I am not entirely sure what he is proposing. See if you can figure it out. (Nick Knisely has had a run at it.)

Bishops Carolyn Irish of Utah and Paul Marshall of Bethlehem have written to their dioceses, and Bishop Jon Bruno of Los Angeles has written to his clergy. Click the continue reading tab to see his letter.

Read more »

Friday Night Lights wins a Peabody!!!

Our favorite network television show has won a prestigious Peabody Award.

Said the judges: "No dramatic series, broadcast or cable, is more grounded in contemporary American reality than this clear eyed serial about the hopes, dreams, livelihoods and egos intertwined with the fate of high-school football in a Texas town. (Produced by NBC Universal Television Studio in association with Imagine Entertainment and Film 44.)"

The season finale airs next Wednesday at 8 p. m. on NBC. I can't emphasize enough what an excellent program this is to watch with teenage children. (Or youth groups!) Almost any issue that arises in the course of high school life is examined with great intelligence and sensitivity. If you have to talk to your child about sex, for instance, you will want to say more or less exactly what Tami Taylor said to her daughter Julie. (See Episode 17.)

Descending Theology: The Garden

I pushed Mary Karr's wonderful book Sinners Welcome on you at Christmas. Allow me to push it once again. This is "Descending Theology: The Garden" from a five-poem cycle on the life of Christ.

Descending Theology: The Garden

We know he was a man because, once doomed,
he begged for reprieve. See him
grieving on his rock under olive trees,
his companions asleep
on the hard ground around him
wrapped in old hides.
Not one stayed awake as he'd asked.
That went through him like a sword.
He wished with all his being to stay
but gave up
bargaining at the sky. He knew
it was all mercy anyhow,
unearned as breath. The Father couldn't intervene,
though that gaze was never
not rapt, a mantle around him. This
was our doing, our death.
The dark prince had poured the vial of poison
into the betrayer's ear,
and it was done. Around the oasis where Jesus wept,
the cracked earth radiated out for miles.
In the green center, Jesus prayed for the pardon
of Judas, who was approaching
with soldiers, glancing up—as Christ was—into
the punctured sky till his neck bones
ached. Here is his tear-riven face come
to press a kiss on his brother.

Mary Karr

Believe it

Friend of this blog, but writer for another (sob), Diana Butler Bass has a nice essay on Beliefnet called Believing the Resurrection. On that same topic, I've always found this poem by John Updike very pesuasive. We will be having a look at a few other poems about the crucifixion and Resurrection in the next few days. Feel free to suggest your favorites.

The politics of the Atonement

Simon has an excellent item about an upcoming BBC program on the Atonement, which also makes it clear that some bishops in the Church of England believe it is necessary to attack Dean Jeffrey John, famously abandonded by his friend Rowan Williams, even when they don't really know what Dean John has said.

Politics aside, do you think it is necessary to believe in the penal substitution theory of the Atonment to be a good Christian? If not, what is an acceptable, um, substitution?

Taking on a bit of water

I hope to have a copy of Bishop Duncan Gray's letter to the Diocese of Mississippi a bit later today, or perhaps tomorrow, but if you are eager to see it, and read some responses, you can visit Stand Firm. Bishop Gray is at least the fourth of the so-called "Windsor Bishops" to indicate that he has no interest in the Primatial Vicar scheme concocted by the Anglican Communion Institute and recommended to our Church by the Primates. Two other Windsor bishops are no longer in office.

Simon Sarmiento has done some math on this.

I am not ready to say that the vicar scheme is sunk, but it has taken on some water. Part of its appeal to Communion conservatives was that it broadened the pool of bishops willing to buck the majority beyond members of the Anglican Communion Network. Some of that appeal has now been lost.

Update: The Windsor bishops may meet in August.

Who put these guys in charge?

That, in so many words, is the question being asked about the Anglican Primates in this editorial by Leanne Larmondin of the Anglican Journal which covers the Church of Canada.

She writes: The Canadian church – and any other province in the vast Anglican Communion that feels strongly about the polity of the church – must assert its autonomy and push back at attempts to usurp its authority. While CoGS did refer the draft covenant to dioceses for study, its working group that will draft the Canadian church’s response to the covenant would be wise to repeat the language used in its response to the Windsor Report. That report, produced in 2004 by an international commission, outlined ways of healing divisions within the Anglican Communion over human sexuality; CoGS endorsed a response that the Anglican Church of Canada would make decisions on the dicey matter of same-sex blessings, “mindful of the common life of the Communion and in response to the leading of the Spirit, as we see it in our own context” (italics added).

Hat tip Doug Simonsen

Opening Day

Updated: Nats lose 9-2, two starters injured. I think I've come up with this season's marketing campaign: Root for the Nats, because Lent just isn't long enough.

The Nats take on the Marlins this afternoon at RFK Stadium. John Patterson v. Dontrelle Willis. I will be on hand to make sure no spiritually or ecclesiastically significant developments go unnoticed.

Bishop Chane's BBC interview

The best link I have found for Bishop John Bryson Chane's interview with Roger Bolton of the BBC's Sunday program is here.

The BBC wrote it up as follows:

Ever since the gay Bishop Gene Robinson was consecrated in America, the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams has being trying to find a formula to keep the Anglican Communion together.

At a meeting of the Primates in Tanzania, the Americans were asked to accept and implement the Lambeth resolutions (the traditional teachings on sexuality) and to agree a new system of pastoral oversight for some conservatives in the American church who won't accept the authority of Bishops with a more liberal line on sexuality. The Bishops of the Episcopal Church have refused these two recommendations.

One of those Bishops, John Chane of Washington, explained why he found the recommendations offensive and disrespectful. Damian Thompson, leader writer for the Daily Telegraph who thinks "it's all over for the Archbishop", and Martyn Percy, Principal of Ripon Theological College, also joined Sunday.

The ghost of schisms past

In an essay on schisms past, Father Greg Jones detects a certain irony, and perhaps some intellectual incoherence on the Anglican right.

He concludes:

"We are now seeing a group of supposedly evangelical folks looking for two things that historically have caused evangelicals to leave Anglicanism.

First, the realignment folks today are clamoring for more clerical authority -- and not just among presbyters, but among bishops, and not just among bishops, but among metropolitan archbishops.

Second, they are saying the 'standard of faith' ought to be the 1662 Prayer Book (and other similar formulae) -- yet that very prayer book was the primary cause of schism under which evangelicals left Anglicanism."

A poem for Palm Sunday

I am not sure why I focus on the donkey in today's Gospel. Donkeys pop up in Scripture all of the time. One of them even talks. But it is the donkey that Jesus rides into Jerusalem, the one who is mysteriously waiting at just the right place, that really gets my attention. I have no New Age inclinations, but in a strictly metaphoric way, donkeys strike me as the surest spiritual guides in the animal kingdom. And if you follow this link, Francis Jammes, via Richard Wilbur, will explain why. The poem is called A Prayer to Go to Paradise with the Donkeys , and I will bet that at least a few of you will never forget it.

A sampler

Let me recommend this item from Nick Knisely, this one from Susan Russell and this one from the Mad Priest for your Palm Sunday pleasure.

And don't forget Father Jones, the Anglican Centrist, who has filed a number of meaty items recently, including this one on the theology of Peter Akinola, in which he writes:

Based on what Peter Akinola says in the letter below, the Nigerian Church seems theologically little different than the Southern Baptist Convention since it was taken over by extreme conservatives a generation ago.

Bishop Chane on BBC Radio

Courtesy of Simon Sarmiento, we have this link to the interview that Bishop Chane did with Roger Bolton of the BBC. I think at the moment you can only listen using Real player. I should have a better link tomorrow morning.

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