Thursday, July 28, 2005

No Way APA?

I and a number of other Reformed Episcopalians got some e-mails yesterday from a No Way APA guy. The No Way APA people much oppose the merger of the REC and the Anglican Province of America (APA) basically because the APA has more Anglo-Catholic tendencies than the REC.

One of the e-mails had links to a message board that a number of Anglo-Catholics of various stripes frequent. I guess I was supposed to be horrified by what I read there. Instead, I joined and said “Hi there!”

As you perhaps noticed from my posts at the Orlando REC-APA convention, I think the merger is wonderful. But I can understand how some Low Church people can be leery. They don’t want Anglo-Catholic or high church thought and practices imposed on them. Some of them experienced their prayer books being taken away in ECUSA or having women clergy imposed on them. Those that didn’t experience that know others who did. And they don’t want to go through anything like that again. They want to continue their Low Church practices in peace.

Now my understanding of REC polity is that there’s hardly any way they can have higher church practices imposed on them. I think most or all parishes own their own property, for example. So if the REC pressures a parish too much, they can just walk.

Any such pressure is exceedingly unlikely, however. I think the REC leadership has made clear, as has the APA, that they have no problem with churches continuing in a Low Church path. In fact, in the past couple years the very Low Church Chapel of the Cross in Dallas (which I’ve visited) was welcomed into the REC. There are any number of REC parishes that continue to be Low Church, and I think even the APA has its Low Church parishes.

But if further assurances, put in writing and made binding even, would calm Low Church concerns, then I think making those assurances would be a good idea.

The problem is the vibes I get from the No Way APA crowd is they have such a phobia of Anglo-Catholics and their practices that they don’t even want to be in sacramental fellowship with them at all.

And that’s where I put my foot down.

I’m from a fundamentalist background, so I fully understand those who want to be sure there won’t be any missals or statues or extra candles or such in their parish. That’s not where I’m personally at now, but I’m fine with that.

But to refuse to acknowledge that the faithful church is just a bit bigger than that, and to resist the REC’s efforts to be bigger than that by pursuing fellowship with orthodox Anglicans of varying churchmanship is flat wrong and, yes, *unbiblical*.

Christ prayed that we would be one, not monochrome. Something wonderful about the Orlando convention was seeing people of widely different church styles worshipping together without casting aside those styles. Even among the leaders, you had APA Archbishop Grundorf in full tat and mitre. He shined! Yet beside him, you had Primate Greg Venables and Bill Atwood in very simple garb with no mitre. (There’s photos over at the APA site.) And there were any number of styles of dress and of giving the sacrament and more among the clergy. And there was even Afro-American gospel singing during the distribution of the elements. But it all fit together, and it was beautiful.

That’s what the church should be like. And we Reformed Episcopalians need to insist we will be like that. And that biblically “broad” church certainly includes our Low Church brothers and sisters.

But when a few insist that we exclude people because they are not Low Church, that’s where we must say, “No, the church is bigger than that . . . and we will be, too.”

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Yes. God can use even +Andrew Smith for good.

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28 (NASB)

That’s my life verse right there. Time and time again I’ve seen God take awful things and use them for a greater good. So I know God will use the evil of Connecticut ECUSA Bishop Andrew Smith for good, maybe even great good.

Why? ‘Cause the Bible sez so.

Ah, it feels good to let my inner fundie out.

But I’m Anglican now, so I should use reason, too. So here goes.

+Smith’s actions are an outrage that cannot go unanswered. If nothing else, they bring home the urgency of the need for provision and place for orthodox North American Anglicans.

Therefore, the mess in Connecticut will reveal whether various parties in the Anglican Communion are really serious or just all talk.

We’ll find out if ECUSA really is inclusive or if their oh-so-inclusiveness excludes conservatives who have a bishop who doesn’t like them. The true face of ECUSA will become more evident to all.

We’ll find out if North American Orthodox Anglicans have the backbone to do more than create organizations and issue press releases. (I think they do and am particularly encouraged by the creation of CAPAC. But we’ll see.)

We’ll find out if the Panel of Reference serves any useful purpose or is another Society to Put Things on Top of Other Things. The Primates clearly intended for it to help out besieged conservatives. But then ++Rowan Williams dragged his feet, then appointed as chairman Peter Carnley, a man who has long been part of the problem, not part of the solution. Carnley then promptly made clear the Panel would be even less assertive than STPTOTOOT. So we can see where that’s heading.

Also, for those Anglicans who actually are serious about providing a place for the orthodox in North America, the actions of +Andrew Smith should speed things along.

And that’s just for starters. I haven’t mentioned the very real possibility +Smith will have his mitre cut down to size in court.

Texans needed the Alamo and Goliad to let them know inaction or defeat were not acceptable options. I certainly hope Bristol, Connecticut has a better outcome. But I think it’s serving the same purpose. It’s making quite clear the time for talk and *spit* “dialogue” is past.

UPDATE: YESSSSSS! THIS is backbone! I thought bishops weren’t supposed to have those.

Like I said . . . Romans 8:28.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

I’m back . . . and I’m home.

Well, I arrived at my new home in Corpus at 2:15am this morning. I’m still feeling the effects of that, so I don’t know how profound or coherent this post will be.

I have decided to go ahead and get back to regularly blogging. And there’s a lot of matters bottled up inside me, so watch out.

My last Sunday in Denton was one of many good-byes. One was to Fr. Baines of St. David’s. I found out he’s retiring. He will be missed. I will miss his strong singing of the Eucharist – which often rings through my mind during the week – his excellent sermons, and his gentle, disarming smile. And how many rectors join the choir for the anthems?

Spending time with him as I helped carve the Paschal Candle is a good memory that will stay with me.

I guess I’m finding out already that “You can’t go home again.” I can go back to St. David’s. But it won’t be the same without Fr. Baines.

Before leaving, I found out some more of how God used me to make a difference in kid’s lives, especially in running the church skate park. That alone makes my years in Denton worthwhile.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Los Angeles Bishops Meeting

I’ve mentioned this some time back, but it fell off my radar screen. As reported here and here over at Drell’s Descants, a good representation of bishops from both the conservative and liberal wings of the Episcopal Church are meeting in Los Angeles to see if progress can be made toward “a final settlement.”

I suspect that if ECUSA isn’t to descend further into ugliness, something substantial needs to come out of this meeting. Hopefully, Connecticut will bring home to the bishops the urgency of the situation. God can bring good even out of Bishop Smith’s actions.


Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Ken Starr and David Boies Agreeing on John Roberts?!

Wow. I just saw Ken Starr and David Boies (Al Gore’s election attorney and Bill Clinton’s impeachment attorney) on MSNBC pretty much agreeing that John Roberts is a good pick for the Supreme Court. That was a sight.

Boies said using the already famous quote of Roberts opposing Roe v. Wade would be a “red herring” since he was representing a client when he said it. And he expects Roberts to be overwhelmingly confirmed.

My take at this time? Roberts is an excellent pick, both judicially and politically. He has the credentials, both in his conservative Constitutional views and acclaimed legal experience. Yet, even though it looks like he’s conservative enough to please even me, there’s very little the liberals have handy to bash him (except all that scare money they raised).

An excellent pick for the Supreme Court easily confirmed? Would have have thunk it? But I think it’s going to happen, and I’m certainly not alone. Heck, even Ken Starr and David Boies agree.
An encouraging random peek

One of the trying aspects of youth ministry (and I guess of most ministry) is there are times when you wonder if your ministry really makes a difference. Well, Sunday night, I saw first hand that my past ministry combined with other ministries has made a difference.

Trevor is a kid who often came to the church skate park I helped run. Like many young teenagers, he was a crazy fun guy. And we got along well. I don’t remember whether he listened to my talks well, though. I could say the same about most of the skaters, of course.

One dusk, when his ride home was late in coming, we sat back against the big ramp and talked. And we talked about his faith. I was encouraged by his answers to my questions.

But later on, I saw him less. And when I did see him, he seemed to be too cool for school. Those who have been around a lot of teen guys will know what I mean.

But guess who I ran into Sunday night at Denton Bible? Our eyes both got wide and we were glad to see each other. He’s going into his Junior year in high school now. We sat together during the service. He said he came most Sunday nights.

And it was clear he was excited about his faith. I peeked over during the singing. And he was worshipping fervently with his eyes closed and unable to keep still. He wasn’t showing off, nor was he being like those around him (who were less outwardly fervent by the way); it was the real deal.

This was most unlike the Trevor I remember.

Anyway, this really encourages me, right as I’m about to move away for good, to see that God has been working, including using me and my past skate ministry, in Trevor’s life.

You just never really know in this life how God uses you in ministry. Every once in a while, I’ll get a surprise random peek into God using me that reminds me of that.

And those random peeks help keep me going.
The Problem of Power Hungry Church Authority

I’ve noticed in my churchly wanderings that overbearing authority can be found in conservative and liberal churches alike. Man’s power hungry mind that wants to be “like God” can twist any tradition (or lack thereof) to justify almost any abuse of authority.

I’ve experienced first hand how a conservative church leader who sees his authority as coming from God (which is at least largely correct) can confuse his authority with God’s authority. He can then oppress those under him, pushing them to violate their consciences or worse.

(For those who are wondering, I am not referring to the excellent leadership at my previous church.)

And then there’s liberal church leaders like Bishop Smith of Connecticut, who do not recognize the authority of God’s word, who don’t recognize the authority of orthodox church leaders they disagree with, who don’t even abide by the authority of inconvenient church canons. For them, although they would never admit it, there is a vacuum of authority. And guess who ends up filling the vacuum? That’s right: the liberal church leader.

And we can see how ugly and arbitrary this can be in Connecticut.

The question is how do churches deal with power hungry church leaders? Any church, of whatever tradition, that doesn’t think long and hard about this and make provisions for dealing with such is asking for trouble.

For wanting power “like God” is part of the Fall; power hunger is something any number of us can fall into.

And the power hungry can twist any tradition to his ends. And the power hungry can descend upon any church.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

+Smith may have miscalculated.

It has now become clear Purple Mafia ECUSA Bishop Smith and friends have royally ticked off the wrong people, +Bob Duncan and Kendall Harmon for starters. Plus there has been a report that even the office of the Archbishop of Canterbury is on this.

In any case, +Smith’s actions combined with silence (or even support) from liberal Episcopalians may be pushing conservatives to go beyond playing by nice Anglican rules. Playing by the rules against people who submit to church authority only when it suits their ends has resulted in more outrage and persecution against the faithful. Liberals like +Smith won’t even listen to pleas from the Primates, including the Archbishop of Canterbury to lay off their attacks on the faith and on the faithful. Conservatives with any backbone have had enough of this.

So don’t be surprised if something big is about to happen, maybe even tomorrow, the first Sunday after the Purple Mafia takeover of St. John’s.

We’ll see.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Is nothing sacred?

In setting things up for Canterbury (Yes, I will visit there during my England trip.), I received the following as part of some directions:

Beside the entrance of the Cathedral, you will see a Starbucks coffee shop . . .

God help us.
A sad day in Connecticut

I can’t let the events in Connecticut yesterday pass without comment. Here’s a good summary of what happened. And, of course, titusonenine has been following this closely.

I wonder if being incapable of shame is a necessary qualification to become bishop in some ECUSA dioceses. Bishop Smith deposed a priest, Fr. Mark Hansen and took over his parish on false pretenses. He crams a uberliberal priestess down that orthodox parish’s throat (which assures the orthodox will depart). Then he lies about the priest in a public statement even though he knows the priest’s family is having trying times with the needs of a son.

I don’t have a high opinion of liberal church authorities as you may have noticed. But still this amazes me. I’m at a loss to describe +Smith’s depravity with printable words.

It will be interesting to see what reaction there is to this in the Network and in the rest of the Anglican Communion. And, yes, there had better be a strong reaction. Mere tepid words will result in more orthodox walking.

My prayers are with Mark Hansen and his family. My readings this morning included I Peter 4:12-16. If Mark Hansen comes across this, I want him to know that God smiles upon him for willingly suffering for the Faith. He will be richly rewarded.

As for +Smith’s reward . . . let’s not go there.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Straight talk on O’Connor

Before I take my break, I want to leave you with some refreshing straight talk (Finally!) on Justice O’Connor and her replacement from an excellent column by Charles Krauthammer .

It will surely not surprise you that I agree that about the last thing we need is another O’Connor on the Supreme Court.

Hey, I’m going to be busy playing a chess tourney, spending time with friends, and hopefully surfing Dennis. Then I’ll be spending my last two weeks in Denton. Meanwhile, I think I should focus my writing time on an article that needs writing.

Soooo for two or three weeks, maybe more, I probably won’t be posting much here. Check in, ‘cause you never know when I may get so sorely provoked that I have to post. And that’s always entertaining. But I wanted to let you, gentle reader, know what’s going on.

Besides, it’s summer! Go outside!

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Gotta love those Brits.

Here’s a couple anecdotes I’ve come across that spotlight delightful yet steely British character.

From Nation Review’s The Corner:

The funny thing is, BBC Radio 4 isn't covering it right now. They did for an hour between 3 to 4pm, and will do so at 5 (noon our time), then at the 6.00 news. But a couple of hours ago the principal BBC radio news station was running its usual programming -- a radio drama. At first I was appalled, but then I thought there's something especially dry and British about it; and it's surely not what al-Qaeda would wish to hear.

From a message board I frequent, posted by a Londoner:

We have just been making tea for the police around here (just around the corner from Tavistock Square) who are still having to keep roads etc closed off. When it comes to a crisis, we put the kettle on and make a pot of tea!

God bless the Brits!
Do you still not understand that we are in the War Against Terrorism?

Even before today, I’ve been aghast at those who just don’t seem to get it that these terrorists are at war against us, us being the United States, the U.K., Israel and those nations who actually have enough spine and morals to stand up to terrorism (in other words, not Spain or France).

We see this divorce from reality with the media furor over treatment of prisoners at Club Gitmo. The scum there are treated quite well, thank you, far better than they deserve and far better than we treated WW2 POWs. And we need to extract as much good information from them as we can. Yet there is whining that we are not nice enough to them.

And we act as if it’s no big deal that there is an invasion of illegals across U. S. borders. Putting aside the issue of those who come here to work, pay their own way, and send some money home to their families, why are we letting our borders be wide open to terrorists? And why do whiners even decry good citizen efforts like Operation Minuteman to assist in monitoring our borders? There is an invasion of terrorists and other hostiles across our borders. We should act like it and send troops to the borders . . . now.

We should start acting like we are at war. The terrorists are.
London terrorist attack

My thoughts and prayers go out to all those affected by the vicious terrorist attack on London this morning.

My thoughts toward the Al Qaeda terrorists are not printable. And as for prayers, I pray they would meet God’s full justice.

But I wouldn’t even think of changing my travel plans now. I’m still coming to England for Advent. Giving the finger to Al Qaeda will make me enjoy it that much more.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

G8 riots

Am I the only one who watches these anarchists go on violent vandalizing rampages and watches police simply hide behind their shields and march *backwards* and feels like screaming at said police:


Am I?
A federal judge I like!??!

I will probably post soon on the search for the replacement for Justice O’Connor. I’ve made no secret of my contempt for judges who put their public policy preferences over the Constitution. And I feel it’s vital to not appoint such to the Supreme Court.

But first, a federal judge I love. Yes, it’s true. Finally, a judge has the guts to call out a semi-fraudulent money-grubbing lawsuit. What’s better is that she may have thrown a big wrench into similar lawsuits across the nation. Here’s the story (Registration required):

[U.S. District Judge Janis Graham Jack] who has been presiding over pretrial testimony in 111 silicosis cases with more than 10,000 clients, signed an order on Thursday criticizing much of the medical evidence used to make those claims. Though she had jurisdiction over just one of the cases, her ruling could affect the 110 other cases because they involve medical diagnoses from many of the same doctors.

Jack said those diagnoses were "more about litigation rather than healthcare."

"These diagnoses were driven neither by health nor justice: They were manufactured for money," she wrote.


The story adds, “Representatives of the plaintiffs did not return calls.” I imagine they didn’t.

I have yearned for years for a judge to do something like this. And because her findings will be used in other courts, this merits continued watching.

Monday, July 04, 2005

So you’re being “prophetic”, eh?

You may have noticed that when some liberal churchpeople explain their support of gay marriage and the like (or gloat in their victories), they like to say they are being “prophetic.”

Such is nothing new. I remember when mainliners supported the Soviet Union’s agenda in the name of being “prophetic.”

I’ve always found it the height of arrogance for them to claim so that God is behind their political actions, particularly when most of them hardly believe in God nor honor the authority of His word. They cast aside much of the prophesy of the Bible, but they are being “prophetic.” Uh-huh.

Well, I tell you what. If they want to say they are being prophetic, let them go ahead. But let them be reminded that there are some strong words for false prophets:

But that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death, because he has counseled rebellion against the LORD your God who brought you from the land of Egypt and redeemed you from the house of slavery, to seduce you from the way in which the LORD your God commanded you to walk. So you shall purge the evil from among you.
Deut. 13:5

Now we are not under that law today. But I don’t think God’s attitudes towards false prophets have changed, either.

And after watching the mainliners for years, I think I understand why.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Israel brings out the stupid in the ACC.

Nothing seems to bring out the evil and sheer stupidity of man like existence of God’s chosen people, Israel. And so there is no misunderstanding, I do mean that as a bad reflection on mankind, not on Israel.

History is full of hatred of Israel – and of the stupidity that produces. In the book of Esther, Haman has it made. He’s high up in government and is living the life. But his genocidal hatred of Jews proves his undoing. In modern times, the Arab nations’ slowness to accept the existence of the small nation of Israel resulted in their getting their butts kicked – four times.

Now the Anglican Consultative Council has made fools of themselves as well in their resolution concerning Israel.

I’ll be very charitable and not say anti-semitism was behind it, although I fully understand those who do. And ++Rowan Williams is wisely doing some damage control in saying it wasn’t a divestment resolution.

But what is very clear is how stupid this resolution is. For starters, where is the sense of proportion? So maybe Israel isn’t perfect in everything they do. They are a nation under prolonged terrorist attack. Yet they have gone beyond the call of duty to try to bring about peace, including giving back most of the land that they won fair and square in defensive wars. But this resolution says there are being too mean to the terrorists and their supporters. What rubbish! (I could use stronger words, but I’m Anglican now, you know.)

And isn’t there a multitude of governments in the world far more deserving of public rebuke than that of Israel? Heck, I have more problems with the shiny happy gulag of Canada than with Israel.

This resolution feeds Jewish perception of Christians as being anti-semitic. It’s a therefore a terrible negative witness. This resolution combined with those coming from the World Council of Churches, the Presbyterian Church USA, and their ilk has already undone many years of efforts to improve Jewish-Christian relations.

The fallout has been strong and swift as documented over at the Midwest Conservative Journal. There is widespread outrage. And, frankly, there should be.

If this resolution ever does any good, it won’t come close to outweighing the ill will it has created.

Maybe there wasn’t any anti-semitism behind it. But there sure was an abundance of stupidity.