Admiral of Morality: July 2007

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Primate of Ireland on "the present madness of the Anglican Communion"

The Most Revd Alan Harper is Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland. At the feast of St. Mary Magdalene on July 22, he preached a sermon at Clonmacnoise, the monastery founded in 545 A.D. Apart from its status as an ancient site of Christian worship and community, Clonmacnoise (pronounced klŏnmăknoiz) is noteworthy for its ancient stone crosses.

In his sermon +Armagh, as he is known, touched on several current theological controversies. He discussed the proposed Anglican Covenant and theological differences more generally. He likened a rigid Covenant and polemical differences, to a madness infecting our churches. He said they are like the boulder before the Lord's tomb, obstructions that can block us from the truth of our shared lives, history, and faith.
I have yet to meet any "leader" who does not treat with the utmost respect and indeed reverence the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testament. I have heard no one in this crisis deny the fundamental tenets of the faith as Anglicans have received them. Yet I have heard believing Christians attack other Christians for not believing precisely as they themselves believe. Equally, I have heard believing Christians attack other Christians for not attaching the weight they themselves attach to this biblical text compared with that.

This is not the way of Christ; it is the way of fallen humanity. It is a boulder of our own creation and I do not know who will help us to roll it away.

Some fear, and I am among them, that an Anglican Covenant, unless it is open and generous and broad, may simply become a further means of obstruction: a boulder, rather than a lever to remove what obscures and impedes our access to the truth that sets us free.

The truth is that the tomb is empty and we are called to live a new life in which resurrection and not death is the new reality; a life freed from the narrow constraints of human expectation, predictability and conformity; a life that confidently expects the disclosure of new vistas offered by the God whose very nature and purpose is to make all things new and make us part of His new creation.

Throughout history the way of the Church has been strewn with boulders of her own making. Those boulders conceal from us what God has already done and is continuing to do. They are boulders compounded of pride, hypocrisy and conceit, envy, hatred and malice and all uncharitableness.

From such things, good Lord, deliver us! And deliver especially this tortured Anglican Communion of Churches.
The full sermon is stored at The Church of Ireland.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

In the Name of God, Amen

Readers will recall that on the eve of his presentment for theft, fraud, and immorality, the rector of Colorado Springs' Grace Church, Don Armstrong, "announced" that both he and the parish were no longer Episcopalian and that they had joined the Church of Nigeria, which is very far from Colorado.

As a result, the hundreds of Episcopalians still worshipping in Colorado Springs, have been forced to vacate their parish.

The Episcopal Church has stood solidly behind these Episcopalians and has been working to get them back into their rightful location. Those who have taken Grace Church, say it's theirs, and always has been.

The Colorado Independent reports that during discovery in the Church's ongoing efforts, an interesting document has turned up.

It's an "Instrument of Donation," wherein the rector and the 1929 vestry of the parish, and its successors, cede their spiritual and financial authority to the diocese and its successors, and proclaim that the parish is forevermore to be held in trust by and used for, The Episcopal Church.

The document begins, "In the Name of God, Amen," and is signed by the rector, the vestry, and the wardens. If you click on the image, you can see this full size, with the language plain as day.

During the investigation into this rector and his practices, by the Bishop and Standing Committee of the Diocese, many improprieties turned up. The case, brought against him by a unanimous vote of the Standing Committee, where he had supporters, includes evidence of theft, tax fraud, and immorality.

An interesting and not altogether surprising development in the case, concerned the Anglican Communion Institute, an organization that was dedicated to undermining the Episcopal Church. Many apparently believed the Institute was a large, independent organization. It was in fact, run out of and financed by, Grace Church, apparently at the direction of the disgraced rector.

The light has an interesting way of putting things in perspective, doesn't it?

Read the Colorado Independent's report here.

Friday, July 13, 2007

"God has a bad reputation"

From our friends to the north in Canada, who seem to have quite a bit to say and write lately about God, religion, and faith, comes a piece by Lyn Cockburn, columnist for The Edmonton Sun. She writes that "God has a bad reputation":
I am happy to take issue with any religious group - Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu - which loudly proclaims it is right and everybody else is wrong. This is junior high exclusivity and cliquishness.

In slightly different form practised say, in the workplace or on the golf course, this sort of thing is called racism. This we're-right-and-you're-wrong stuff is childish and it is mean. It also allows people to attribute meanness to God, something I cannot countenance. In fact, sometimes I think God gets a bad rep thanks to humans.

The "protesters" who Thursday called an "abomination" having Hindu prayer open the daily session of the U.S. Senate for the first time, obviously don't agree with Ms. Cockburn. They described themselves as "Christians and patriots," which no doubt describes hundreds of millions of other Americans. Yet, these few felt compelled to denounce the Hindu cleric and prayer, as idolatrous. How many others feel like they do, but couldn't make the trip?

Read the rest of Ms. Cockburn's piece at The Sun.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

The Mail

Admiral: Your recent comment on Rome and the pope ("Air in Rome has cocaine and marijuana" ) was sent to me via email. I am writing to tell you that your piece, if designed to be satirical or humorous, was not. It was designed to be satire? I fail to find the satire. What I do find is objectionable treatment of the Catholic faith and references to His Holiness Pope Benedict, as a sort of villain and a Dark Lord of the Sith. Whatever that is, I’m sure based on the rest of your comments, that it is something disrespectful and juvenile. Respectfully submitted, J.N. Cossimel

Sir: The link to the Star Wars encyclopedia was quite clear on the comment. Did you click on it? There, you may find a wealth of information regarding the dark and evil designs of the Sith and their allies, one of whom bears a remarkable resemblance to Benedict when he is not wearing his pope makeup. Yours, The AoM

∞ ∞ ∞

Admiral: I was directed to your site from [site redacted] and everything said there about you is true. Signed, TRbaub11

Sir: And? Please go on.

∞ ∞ ∞

Admiral: Admiral, a few days ago I had the pleasure of hearing and meeting Mr. Davis Mac-Iyalla from Nigeria, speak at Christ the King, in Stone Ridge, New York. He struck me as a very brave man of Christian principle. I’ve not seen it posted on your site but if you could, could you please note that Davis is visiting many, many churches of the Episcopal Church this summer? Hearing his voice has convinced me that our Anglican Communion is worth working for. No doubt there are countless many others like him who need our help and support. Signed, Oscar Rodman

Sir: Thank you for your letter. As you say, Mr. Mac-Iyalla has risked everything to bear witness to his life of honesty, faith, and Christian principle. In so doing, he has given voice to many others, and reminded us all that the Lord Christ is present in all the churches of His Anglican Communion. I am happy to note that this link to the Daily Office, contains much more information about Mr. Mac-Iyalla and his visits. Yours, The AoM

Saturday, July 07, 2007

The church hopper

Is it safe to think that everyone or most everyone at some point has thought about going to a new church? Probably. If you do it alot, you may be a church hopper. "Hopping" to another church is defined as leaving for another of the same denomination because some momentary need isn't being met.

Betsy Hart, an evangelical writing in the San Jose Mercury News, criticizes the church hopper for being selfish. She says hopping is "invidious," and a trend amongst some Protestants. She writes:
Church "hopping" is the ultimate "all about me" experience.
I'm not talking about church "shopping" - say, moving into a new community, or deciding to start attending church altogether, and then visiting churches until becoming a member of one as soon as reasonably possible. And I'm not talking about leaving one's church after finding un-addressed scandal in a church's leadership, for instance, or when a person's conscience becomes persuaded that something foundational to the belief system of that church is very wrong.
I'm talking about the growing tendency in America's evangelical churches for folks who decide, after they have officially joined a particular church, that "Oh, that pastor down the street is a little more high-energy than mine," or "Gee, the music here isn't really meeting my needs right now," or "I really am not crazy about that new children's church director."
They just up and leave, and go to a new church in their community.
Until they hop from that one.

Check out the whole thing at the San Jose Mercury News.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Union of Black Episcopalians in 39th convention this week

The Union of Black Episcopalians meets in its 39th convention this week in Houston under the theme, “Telling our Story: Hearing God’s Call for Reconciliation."

++Katharine and House of Deputies President Bonnie Anderson are attending the conference, hosted by the Diocese of Texas. ++Katharine is hosting a "Presiding Bishop's Forum" at the Convention this morning. She preached at the Eucharistic service yesterday morning, telling the convention:
We live in a world that is not yet whole, and we understand our vocation to be its healing or repair. Our Jewish brothers and sisters call it 'Tikkun Alam,' the repair of the world.

Over and over and over again, the prophets railed against those who brought greater divisions to the world, those who bring more injustice, those whose deeds sow destruction.

The conference celebrates and encourages clergy and laity of color, and thanks them for their service and gifts.

The conference recognizes several milestones this year, including the 30th anniversary of women's ordination. Among those being honored is Bishop Barbara Harris, the recently retired Bishop Suffragan of Massachusetts. Bishop Harris, an African-American, became the first woman bishop in the Anglican Communion when she was ordained in 1989.

"This was one of the key social justice issues that we supported in our early history as an organization and this year we will celebrate the ordination of women by recognizing bishop's who are African American, Latin, Asian, Native and Anglo," conference coordinator Dianne Audrick Smith told Episcopal Life online in May. "As a body, we will have an opportunity to thank them all for their ministries to us in the name of Christ."

In addition, women "across the generations" will be asked to briefly provide their perspectives on their lives as priests.

"I'm sure that in some of their comments, they will call us to actively pick up the mantle and fight against all of the isms -- sexism, homophobia, racism, classism," Smith said.

The Union of Black Episcopalians is a confederation of more than 55 chapters and interest groups throughout the continental United States and the Caribbean. The Union also has members in Canada, Africa and Latin America.

It stands in the rich, continuing tradition of more than 200 years of Black leadership in the Episcopal Church.

Beginning with the establishment of St. Thomas Episcopal Church by Absalom Jones in 1794 in the city of Philadelphia through the election of Barbara Harris as Suffragan bishop of Massachusetts there has always been a strong corps of Black Christians in the Episcopal Church. People like James Holly, Henry Delaney, John Walker, Tollie Caution, Charles Lawrence, Deborah Harmon Hines, and countless other.

Organized in 1968 as the Union of Black Clergy and Laity, the Union is the proud inheritor of the work of these people and earlier organization, the Convocation of Colored Clergy, the Conference of Church Workers Among Colored People, all dedicated to the ministry of Blacks in the Episcopal Church. The name was changed to the Union of Black Episcopalians in 1971.

Monday, July 02, 2007

A nation of lawsWhat are friends for?

Bush commutes Libby's prison term

The Associated Press has the story:

President Bush spared former White House aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby from a 2 1/2-year prison term in the CIA leak investigation Monday, delivering a political thunderbolt in the highly charged criminal case. Bush said the sentence was just too harsh.

Bush's move came just five hours after a federal appeals panel ruled that Libby could not delay his prison term. That meant Libby was likely to have to report soon, and it put new pressure on the president, who had been sidestepping calls by Libby's allies to pardon Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff.

"I respect the jury's verdict," Bush said in a statement. "But I have concluded that the prison sentence given to Mr. Libby is excessive. Therefore, I am commuting the portion of Mr. Libby's sentence that required him to spend thirty months in prison."

Bush's decision enraged Democrats and cheered conservatives - though some of the latter wished Bush had granted a full pardon.

"Libby's conviction was the one faint glimmer of accountability for White House efforts to manipulate intelligence and silence critics of the Iraq war," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. "Now, even that small bit of justice has been undone."

Indeed. But what are friends for?
Give the king your justice, O God, and your righteousness to a king's son. May he judge your people with righteousness, and your poor with justice. May the mountains yield prosperity for the people, and the hills, in righteousness. May he defend the cause of the poor of the people, give deliverance to the needy, and crush the oppressor.

- Psalms 72:1-4

Archbishop of Wales: open the doors all week long

At a Church in Wales conference beginning today in Cardiff, the Archbishop of Wales Dr. Barry Morgan, will urge the people of his province to open their parish doors all week long, to better integrate the parishes in the daily life of their neighborhoods and communities.

The conference, "Transforming Communities and Congregations," is being attended by clerics, lay people, architects and conservation experts. As its name implies, it's designed to help parishes move from the periphery directly to the center of their communities. Dr. Morgan is chairing the conference, which should please the members of the Church in Wales, since it indicates he is quite interested in directing the full resources of the Church into promoting the Conference's mission and goals.

"A church that is closed Monday to Friday is the worst possible advertisement for Christianity," Dr. Morgan says. "We cannot go on locking up our treasures in closed buildings any more. We have to fling open the doors of the churches physically, as well as metaphorically."

He says, "This is about changing perspectives as well as reality. Too often we are perceived to be rather peripheral to the mainstream Monday - Friday life of organisations, communities and individuals. This is another way to help us move from the edge of people's radar screens so that they can see the relevance of Christianity to their lives."

As Episcopal/Anglican churches look for ways to attract seekers and visitors, one sure way is to keep the doors open as much as possible so that the Church can be a regular presence in the life of the community.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

From the Sunday Readings

Luke 9:51-62, The Way of the Lord
When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem. And he sent messengers ahead of him. On their way they entered a village of the Samaritans to make ready for him; but they did not receive him, because his face was set toward Jerusalem. When his disciples James and John saw it, they said, "Lord, do you want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?" But he turned and rebuked them. Then they went on to another village.

As they were going along the road, someone said to him, "I will follow you wherever you go." And Jesus said to him, "Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head." To another he said, "Follow me." But he said, "Lord, first let me go and bury my father." But Jesussaid to him, "Let the dead bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God." Another said, "I will follow you, Lord; but let me first say farewell to those at my home." Jesus said to him, "No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God."

The Lord is on His way to Jerusalem, where he must die on the Cross and rise again on the third day so that all who believe in His Name and hear His voice, may be saved. He is accompanied by the Sons of Thunder, the brothers James and John. They pass through a Samaritan village, and the Samaritans show them no hospitality. Indeed, they must have been quite inhospitable, for they are heading to Jerusalem, which the Samaritans reject as the Holy City. The Sons of Thunder, true to form, take the rejection strongly, and like Elijah, want to rain the fire of heaven upon the village, so that those rejecting the Lord and his Apostles, may be consumed. But the way of the Lord is far different. He rebukes James and John, and it is well deserved, for even though they walk with the Lord himself, they do not always walk His way. He has not come to destroy or to level, but to save, and He will show His love by giving His life. It is a Way that regularly confounded his disciples. By the end of his life, John had long taken it to heart. He comes down to us not so much as the Son of Thunder of his youth, but as the Apostle of love, a man transformed into a saint by the plain and simple truth of the Good News.