It’s the end of the world as we know it

Jonathan Merritt of Religion News Service writes:

First Things, a conservative religious publication, has launched a movement encouraging pastors to refuse to perform marriages as representatives of the state. A signing statement called “The Marriage Pledge” has been posted to their website where ministers can affix their names electronically. It was drafted by Ephraim Radner, an ordained Anglican and professor of historical theology at Toronto School of Theology’s Wycliffe College, and Christopher Seitz, an ordained Episcopalian priest and senior research professor at Wycliffe.

He notes that this idea has been proposed more than five years ago, by Bishop Gene Robinson, the man whose 2003 consecration drove Radner and Seitz into fits of ineffective and often comical activism from which one had hoped they had retired.

Long time Cafe readers will remember that Radner and Seitz were two of the three (sometimes four) members of the Anglican Communion Institute, an organization notable primarily for a) working against same-sex marriage within the Anglican Communion; b) working to punish the Episcopal Church for moving toward the full inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Christians, and c) doing so in ways that were notable for their comical skullduggery.

Followers of the Anglican sexuality struggles will remember when Radner and Seitz fell out with a third member of the ACI, the Rev. Don Armstrong, after he got into some significant legal trouble regarding the way he handled money. The duo disassociated themselves from Armstrong, only to discover that he had the keys to their website. So the “institute” that was sometimes described as “three guys with a website” was now, for a time, without a website.

In April 2009, Radner, Seitz and several Episcopal bishops were discussing their plans to undermine Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, snatch a parish in the Diocese of Colorado and put it under a more conservative prelate and publish a statement on the polity of The Episcopal Church on a group email and one of the participants in the conversation mistyped an email address and sent it to a marriage equality activist, after which it became public, leading to significant negative reaction.

More recently, Radner served on the group that drafted the proposed Anglican Covenant while serving as a board member of the Institute for Religion and Democracy, which is dedicated to undermining churches in the United States that take polically progressive stances on issues of same-sex marriage. This conflict of interest helped undermine support for the document which has not, as many of its proponents had hoped, become a whip with which to lash churches that bless same-sex relatinships.

That Radner and Seitz have embraced an idea put forth by Robinson and many others on the Christian left (without crediting them for it of course) is a clear indication that the end times are just around the corner.

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7 Comments
  1. Paul Woodrum

    Or their way to avoid the end times by getting the church out of the GAY marriage biz by getting it out all marriages.

  2. Elizabeth Kaeton

    Some may remember that it was Dr. Radner who also founded the “Chicken Little School of Theology,” the motto of which was, “The Anglican Sky Is Falling!” (said x’s 3)

    #YouCan’tMakeThisStuffUp

    #GodHasAGreatSenseOfHumor

    #EOTWAWKI (End of The World As We Know It).

  3. Bishop Gene and I agreed from the beginning, and now it appears that I’m in agreement with Ephraim Radner and Christopher Seitz, so, yes, the end times are near.

  4. Pete Haynsworth

    A notary for the contract part of marriage, good enough in opera (e.g. Barber of Seville, Don Pasquale, Elixir of Love) is good enough for me.

    How about bringing it up at next summer’s General Convention?

  5. revsusan

    Two things … the first is that questions about this issue are most definitely being included in the Report from the Task Force on the Study of Marriage — coming soon to a Blue Book near you.

    The second would be this question which I posed in my own blog this development:

    http://inchatatime.blogspot.com/2014/11/of-marriage-equality-in-south-carolina.html

    In point of fact for Episcopalians, our canons already give clergy the leeway to decline to preside at any marriage for any reason whatsoever — Marriage Pledge or no Marriage Pledge. Canon 18, Section 4 (and I quote):

    It shall be within the discretion of any Member of the Clergy of this Church to decline to solemnize any marriage.

    Period. Seems pretty clear to me!

    So what’s to be gained by throwing out the bride with the bathwater in this dramatic temper tantrum — rather than simply using their existing canonical ability to “just say no” to any marriage they consider “un-biblical?” Are the gay cooties of marriage between same-sex couples really going to sneak over and contaminate their otherwise pure marriages? Or is this just yet-another on the long list of efforts to posture and polarize instead of pastor and evangelize?

    Anybody?

    Susan Russell

    All Saints Church, Pasadena

  6. Chris H.

    I suspect it’s a response to issues in Idaho, Houston, and other places where local anti-discrimination laws are being used against clergy who don’t want to perform gay marriages. Since the cities etc. are moving against clergy (mostly non-demominational, but that could change) there’s no guarantee that denominational rules will protect them, especially in a denomination which allows gay marriage (if the church allows it, every priest should do it). The only way to avoid it is to stop being a servant of the state.

    Chris Harwood

  7. tgflux

    “Idaho, Houston, and other places where local anti-discrimination laws are being used against clergy who don’t want to perform gay marriages.”

    Utter nonsense, from the fever dreams of “We’re Victims!!11!!” paranoia. [I want to note that former President Jimmy Carter has apparently fallen into the “Just Don’t Let the State Make Churches Marry Gays” delusion too—but he’s 90 years old, so y’know (90 year old synapses)]

    There’s already pushback from the right to this “Marriage Pledge” plan, so get the popcorn: the in-fighting will be hilariously entertaining! ;-p

    JC Fisher

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It’s the end of the world as we know it?

The current economic news is causing a lot of anxiety about job loss, fewer donations to churches and non-profits, and what the future holds.

Paul Solman of PBS writes:

Anxiously scanning the Business section of [The New York Times] on Sunday, I came across this headline: Amid Potential Chaos, a Light-Hearted Break. Below was a subhead: “For those who need a little bit of levity on a tense day, we present some mood music.” If you clicked on the video box below, a song began to play, its lyrics flashing on the screen in various colors: REM’s It’s the End of the World as We Know It.

It did bring me a smile – at 11:30 p.m., no less – but also a question from my wife, Boston Globe language columnist Jan Freeman: “IS it the end of the world as we know it?” she asked.

According to Solman it boils down to “belief,” in Latin, credere, which is the basis of the word “credit.”

Any financial system more sophisticated than Robinson Crusoe’s is built on credit: “I’ll take your promise to pay me tomorrow in return for the use of your wealth today.” That’s how a farmer gets money for his seed corn before the crop comes up. That’s how the high-tech firm rents its offices and pays its workers when its new software is no more than a gleam in its eye. That’s how traders in Mesopotamia sent yarn across the desert around 2500 B.C. (The credit terms were pressed into clay tablets that still exist.

….

What has happened is simple: Lehman became the sleazy corn farmer or the pie-in-the-sky techie or the Ur weavers who got lost in the Tower of Babel — a borrower with no credibility. To stay in the game, Lehman would have to pay more and more for its loans. That would eat into its capital – its investors’ money. The less capital it had, the more collateral it would have to plunk down for the money it had already borrowed. And if it tried to sell the loans it had invested in, those loans would crash in value, making the situation worse.

Read it all here.

Rabbi Michael Lerner editor of Tikkun Magazine writes of the fear pervading the country and ideas for citizens to overcome the paralysis and denial that fear induces and to act in this election year:

The fear is palpable. Those of us in the non-profit sector feel it deeply already, because with the predictions of collapse surrounding us, many magazines are reporting drops in subscribers, and many change-oriented organizations are suffering from a drop in membership or donations. And it’s likely to get worse. There are predictions that even with the hundreds of billions likely to be spent to ameliorate some aspects of what we face, there might be as many as five million people who will be losing their homes in the mortgage crisis, and millions more losing their jobs as small businesses collapse.

….

Once again, the responsibility is on ordinary citizens to stand up and talk back to the politicians in both parties, and to do so in a way that demands a new set of values to run our economy, so that materialism and selfishness is put on the defensive and caring for each other becomes the central motif. It is only when some serious political leaders are willing to make that the center of their campaign, to demand that love, generosity and caring for others is the shaping force determining their policies, that the American people will be able to take that part of their consciousness that wants such a world but believes it impossible, and finally transcend their fears and act on their highest desires rather than sinking into the other fearful part of their consciousness that leads them to seek magical solutions in repression and denial of much of what they know about the failures of the economy and of our foreign policy.

Read the rest of this newsletter here.

For Episcopal clergy and laity who have pensions from the Church Pension Group it is reported that the Church Pension Fund is absolutely secure with more than enough funds to meet obligations and even in these times provide an increase of annual benefits and an increase in the life insurance coverage for those who are retired and dependent upon the fund. Read more here.

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