Thursday, July 31, 2008

When Did You Stop Beating Your Wives?

It appears that the Integrity wing of TEC has moved on from accusing the African bishops of polygamy to accusing some bishops attending Lambeth of wife beating. In the Tuesday July 29 edition of the Lambeth Witness, the daily newsletter of the LGBT Anglican portal, (which is produced by Integrity), Bishop Catherine Roskam, from the Diocese of New York is quoted in the lead article as saying:
We have 700 men here. Do you think any of them beat their wives? Chances are they do. The most devout Christians beat their wives ... many of our bishops come from places where it is culturally accepted to beat your wife. In that regard, it makes the conversation quite difficult.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Anglican Scotist Compares Greg Griffith to UU Church Shooter and Nazis

(UPDATE: I now have the link working to this post at Anglican Scotist. You can see it on his website here.)

The Anglican Scotist has written a reflection on the UU Church Shooter in Tennessee that links to some comments from the Stand Firm website from last year regarding the meeting with PB Schori that left Bishop Steenson shaking and crying as a result of threats, bullying and intimidation.

I read the Stand Firm thread as responding to threats with a refusal to be intimidated. I read "I’m already reaching for my pistol…" as an offer to protect Bishop Steenson. However, Anglican Scotist reads the same thread as threatening violence and derived
from Johst's play Schlageter performed for Hitler's birthday in '33:
Wenn ich Kultur höre ... entsichere ich meinen Browning, or: "Whenever I hear 'culture'... I remove the safety from my Browning (tr. at link above).."

In his post Anglican Scotist calls the Bible "an especially violent book, and in particular a book explicitly promoting violence against gays." This seems to be in line with the Soul Force Talking Points I have discussed previously here and here and here. (Hmmm, I see in that third "here" I was dealing with this same issue on an Anglican Scotist thread.)

I am having trouble linking to the post, so I will reprint it in full below:
Some Reflections on UU Church Shooting
by The Anglican Scotist

As Lambeth '08 grinds on and on toward its--so it seems--rather disenchanted but eminently reasonable outcome, little signs percolate to the surface of the news cycle from the mission field. I am not referring to Archbishop Williams' scapegoating Bishop Robinson--I think it is quite apparent that scapegoating him has not worked, and will work even less to secure anything like unity with catharsis in the future. Too many people left and right know better by now, and excluding him presents the Communion to much of the globe as a pathetic parody of itself

I. ....the newspaper in one hand

One of these signs--it seems to me--is a recent mass shooting at a church in TN. It turns out the shooting at a Unitarian Universalist church was not a random, murderous mass shooting, but a hate crime, where the accused gunman acted specifically out a hatred for Liberals and Gays; he identified himself as a "Confederate" and a "believer" in "the Old South". The NYT wrote:

A man who the police say entered a Unitarian church in Knoxville during Sunday services and shot 8 people, killing two, was motivated by a hatred for liberals and homosexuals, Chief Sterling P. Owen IV of the Knoxville Police Department said Monday.

He was shooting up a childrens' play; he planned to keep firing his shotgun until the police took him down. The man is not exactly a poster boy for John Calhoun's malevolent iteration of Jeffersonian agarianism--feeding on shit like "Liberalism is a Mental Health Disorder" by Michael Savage, "Let Freedom Ring" by Sean Hannity, and "The O'Reilly Factor," by Bill O'Reilly, he managed to blame liberals and gays for his being unemployed. It probably did not strike him as noteworthy that any unemployment benefits he enjoyed he owed to the efforts of the political left.


His situation is worth pondering for a moment. He connected (A)his being unemployed with (B)liberals and gays, and then he connected (B) with (C): the UU church--apparently oblivious to the glaring cognitive dissonance implied in those connections. Yet these connections do not seem random; they seem rather to be commonplaces this poor sop picked up from our common culture ready-made when he sought a "reason" why he was without a job. "Common culture" is loose, but the term has to be loose given its a wide extension: print media, TV, movies, the internet, water-cooler conversation, etc.

Oh--perhaps there are people offended by the use of "church" for Unitarian Universalism; I've been in the company of many Christians who use "Universalist" as a term of abuse when they use it at all, an epithet of disdain--presumably for the UU take on the Trinity and Incarnation--like this anonymous poster who wrote (on 7/28):

"There is no problem defending the orthodox position if, like myself, you are reasonably orthodox. Nor do North American Anglicans who are in fact unitarians and deists seem to have trouble defending their positions, at least in their opinion...."

Instances could be multiplied; I have in mind comments like these made in 9/07, comments which reflect what seems to be a certain type of violent mindset on the right, in the context of conflict between Schori and Episcopalian conservatives:

"He was really upset by this –in tears and shaking- and it included deposition, law suits, not allowing him to resign. . . We were quite angry on hearing this and wondered if they realized they were talking to a NM – TX bishop. Their cities may have a lot of urban gang problems; but, they don’t realize most of us have guns, know how to use them and nobody’s gonna mess with our bishops!"


"It is sad that we have to feel the need to defend ourselves, almost to the point of doing that one thing most of us who have done it, pray we never have; to take up arms to defend our way of life. That is what the reference to Small band of paratroppers was."


"I’m already reaching for my pistol…"
followed by:
"Agreed. However, “reachin’ for my pistol” is an old expression I use around here. No threat is being made."

Interestingly, the saying is misattributed to Goering and Streicher, but is actually taken from Johst's play Schlageter performed for Hitler's birthday in '33:

Wenn ich Kultur höre ... entsichere ich meinen Browning, or: Whenever I hear 'culture'... I remove the safety from my Browning (tr. at link above).

One could reach outside the narrow band of our troubles to refer to such things as Coulter's fun-and-games call for murdering a Justice:

"We need somebody to put rat poisoning in Justice Stevens' creme brulee," Coulter said. "That's just a joke, for you in the media"--

an instance of what David Neiwert at Orcinus has felicitously called an ideology of "eliminationism". Christians, Christians who make a big deal out of how they are following a Christ versus Culture model a la Barth's Bremen Declaration, have absolutely no business playing with our secular culture's tolerance of violence and the cultivation of domestic terrorism.


One might ask: are these violent sentiments worth protecting? Should lambeth provide any shelter in its institutional arrangements for such sentiments?

This TN incident would not be the first time gays were targeted--recall that the Holocaust targeted gays. And what will we say about Leviticus 20:13?

If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall be put to death; their blood is upon them.

Some Christians, including one of GAFCON's major backers, Howard Ahmanson seems to think--still--that stoning gays is permitted; indeed, homosexuality is criminal, and even a crime for which one can be executed, in a number of GAFCON and GAFCON-sympathetic provinces.

Is it OK to live by 20:13 now--is its being OK a matter relative to culture? Was it ever OK to live by 20:13? When "biblical authority" comes up , Lev 20:13 should come up. Lev 20:13 is not alone for brutality in Scripture.

Consider the conquest of Canaan, e.g. the command at Numbers 31:17--even male babies and children carried in the womb are to be slaughtered on divine command. God commands the death of babies in numerous instances, e.g. most famously the mass murder at Exodus 12:29, and the command at I Sam 15:3--which Saul gets in big trouble for disobeying inter alia; God promises to tear pregnant women and their unborn infants apart at Hosea 13:16; God commands the deaths of the infants and childern of Ai in Joshua 8...had enough?

The Bible shows--reveals--to us who God is, the character of God, and we are meant to love God. With that in mind, these savage passages--which only partially represent the blood-soaked pages of Holy Scripture--provide a test for any set of hermeneutical principles with which one might approach Scripture, and especially for their consistency.

Anyhow, my point in closing is twofold: (1)Lambeth should not provide any shelter at all for violent sentiments against gays, or for sentiments tolerating violence; (2)Christians are people of an especially violent book, and in particular a book explicitly promoting violence against gays. In view of (1) and (2) it seems Christians--even those at Lambeth--bear a special burden for disengaging their religious practice from the culture of violence that targets gays. One hopes our bishops will remember this.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Berkeley Petition Against the Christian Message

From the city that prides itself on the Free Speech Movement and celebrates its commitment to diversity each year with the annual How Berkeley Can You Be parade...

The local Berkeley newspaper, The Berkeley Daily Planet, reports that a petition against Christian street preachers has been circulated by some merchants and workers:
While the petition touches on the noise level, citing, “large and loud rallies,” it focuses mostly on what the evangelicals are saying and who the messenger is.

“We, as locals, are insulted, not only by the message coming from these folks that we, as a community, are somehow in need of ‘saving’ by way of their particularly base and dogmatic way of seeing the world,” the petition says, adding that “none of these ‘performers’ or ‘preachers’ or ‘leafleters’ are actually from our community and know very little of our community.”

It would be improper for the city to limit noise permits by where the applicant lives, Daniel says.

The city gets involved only when the complaint is about the noise level, Daniel said.

Complaints go to Manuel Ramirez, environmental health manager.

“We respond to all complaints,” Ramirez told the Planet. “We go out and monitor levels and have found no violations.”

Berkeley does seem to have a councilmember who cares about Free Speech:
Councilmember Kriss Worthington, whose district includes the Telegraph Avenue area, said rewriting the ordinance will be challenging given the need to respect the free speech of diverse groups such as Code Pink and SOS Ministries. He said perhaps the new rules can incorporate having the applicant move their proselytizing to different streets in the area.

Hmmm, but did he forget about the free speech for the Marines?

The petition concludes on a bitter note: “Any lip service the city government pays to helping build an improved business/residential destination around Telegraph Ave. is rendered laughable as they continue to allow the ‘skid row’ preachers to make a mess of our street.”

"Skid row" ????
I didn't think we were allowed to say "skid row" in Berkeley anymore.

(H/T I am pretty sure I first saw this Daily Show video on Stand Firm, but I couldn't find it today.)

Friday, July 18, 2008

California Diocese Acknowledges Sexual Misconduct by Convicted Murderer Priest

The California Diocese was so proud to ordain the convicted murderer James Tramel as an Episcopal priest while still in state prison. While many were turned away in the discernment process, this prisoner was featured in publicity materials and parishioners in the diocese were encouraged to write letters to the Parole Board requesting his release, despite the protests of the relatives of the murder victim, Michael Stephenson. Now we learn in the San Francisco Chronicle this morning that the diocese acknowledges that Tramel used his position as priest and rector of the historic Trinity Church in San Francisco to sexually seduce a parishioner under his care.
Convicted of second-degree murder in a 1985 slaying, Tramel went to seminary and was ordained a priest while incarcerated in a state prison in Solano County. After he was paroled early in 2006, at the urging of the Episcopal bishop of California, Tramel was quickly placed at the helm of the historic Trinity Episcopal Church in San Francisco.

It's there that the victim said Tramel, who is married and has a young child, took advantage of her during counseling sessions.

"They didn't give an honest depiction of this man," said the victim, a 36-year-old San Francisco resident. The Chronicle does not identify victims of sexual abuse.

The diocese acknowledges that Tramel abused his power and committed sexual misconduct, according to diocesan spokesman Sean McConnell, as well as a letter from diocesan Chancellor William Orrick and other documents. Tramel has been suspended for two years, but he can apply for reinstatement after the suspension is served. Tramel did not return calls.
The victim has asked for $265,000 for therapy and to move from her rent-controlled apartment, which is near the Bush Street church, where the relationship started. She also asked that Tramel be prohibited from resuming priestly duties.

The diocese countered with an offer for "spiritual support" - an offer the victim said infuriated her because it would replicate the situation in which she was taken advantage of.

But the diocese is adamant about its stand.

"That's the only thing the diocese felt - and feels - it owed to her," said Lawrence Lossing, the diocese's outside counsel.

The victim said she wanted to go to church because she was a struggling alcoholic. God or "a higher power" plays a key role in 12-step recovery programs, but she says she didn't understand the concept. She thought going to church would help.

She chose Trinity, the oldest Episcopal church on the West Coast. When she started attending Trinity in 2007, Tramel encouraged her to come to him for counseling, and they began having sex, she says and the church acknowledges. Sex between a priest and a parishioner he or she counsels is against church laws, with no exceptions. The victim says she feels like Tramel manipulated her into the situation.

The victim said the diocese and its current bishop, the Rt. Rev. Marc Andrus, failed to supervise him adequately.

Of course,
When Tramel was placed at Trinity, Andrus approved the decision. Yet Lossing said Andrus had no power in the situation involving Tramel.

The article doesn't mention it, but last I knew, Tramel was married to a parishioner at Good Shepherd. His chief advocate and spiritual adviser was Jay Johnson. We recently read about the Rev. Jay Johnson, in his role as the senior director for the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies in Religion in Berkeley, in the SF Chronicle article about how Bay Area churches opened the door for same-sex marriage vows. Johnson is also the book review editor for Anglican Theological Review.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Look ++Rowan: Disputes About Christ as Lord and the Imperative of Evangelism

In his response to the GAFCON statement, Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, included this statement:
Despite the claims of some, the conviction of the uniqueness of Jesus Christ as Lord and God and the absolute imperative of evangelism are not in dispute in the common life of the Communion.
Although this is a case of defining deviancy down, at least it is a clear statement that can be assessed. That is, it is a clear and clearly false statement. Below I will demonstrate that there are dioceses of the Anglican Communion which include within their common life:
1) doubts or rejection of the uniqueness of Jesus Christ as Lord and God, and/ or
2) doubts or rejection of the absolute imperative of evangelism.
If the information I provide below were presented to ++Rowan, would he withdraw the invitations of the bishops of those dioceses to Lambeth? If he would not withdraw the invitations of such bishops to Lambeth, than isn't he permitting the dispute of the uniqueness of Jesus Christ as Lord and God and the absolute imperative of evangelism within the common life of the Communion.


Arizona (Bishop Kirk S. Smith)
Has at least two churches that dispute the Lordship of Christ. Grace St. Paul's prominent rector denied Jesus Christ is Lord and at Tucson's largest Episcopal church, St. Philip's in the Hills, associate rector Susan Anderson-Smith has revised the liturgy to exclude references to Lord.

Niagra (Bishop Michael Bird) The June 2008 issue of the Niagra Anglican, the official publication of the diocese, the article beginning on the front page titled "Time for a Christian Truce" by Christopher M. Grabiec, editor, argues that although Arius believed that Jesus was a created being and hence in some ways inferior to God, no one really knows if Arius was right or wrong and it doesn't matter.

Northern California (Bishop Barry Beisner) -- During Advent 2007, invited Buddhist monks to construct a healing Medicine Buddha mandala and chant and pray to it in Trinity Episcopal Cathedral.

Northern Michigan
September 2007 Diocesan Newsletter proclaims a theology in which all persons are the living Christ.

Pennsylvania (Bishop Charles Bennison)
During Epiphany 2007-8, invited a Buddhist monk to construct a Buddhist mandala depicting Jesus and Buddha as equals at Philadelphia Episcopal Cathedral.


Los Angeles (Bishop Jon Bruno) -- Wrote a proclamation which was read at St. John’s Cathedral renouncing the proselytizing of Hindus and apologizing for such efforts in the past:
During the service, the Rt. Rev. J. Jon Bruno, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles, issued a statement of apology to the Hindu religious community for centuries-old acts of religious discrimination by Christians, including attempts to convert them.

“I believe that the world cannot afford for us to repeat the errors of our past, in which we sought to dominate rather than to serve,” Bruno said in a statement read by the Rt. Rev. Chester Talton. “In this spirit, and in order to take another step in building trust between our two great religious traditions, I offer a sincere apology to the Hindu religious community.”

The bishop also said he was committed to renouncing “proselytizing” of Hindus. Bruno had been scheduled to read the statement himself, but a death of a close family friend prevented him from attending the service.

H/T Stand Firm, Peter Ould , MCJ

+Gene Robinson to Meet Secretly with Anglican Primates

In this morning's San Francisco Chronicle +Gene shares a secret:
Several primates - leaders of provinces, which play a role similar to that of the Episcopal Church in the United States - have asked to meet with him privately, and only on the condition that he never reveal that he met with them or discuss what they talked about.

It goes against Robinson's desires to hide the truth, but he's willing.

"I'm sad about that," he said. But "I will do anything to sit down with those folks and try to heal this gulf between us."

That would imply these are the primates who currently have a problem with him.

Friday, July 4, 2008

For July 4th, In Honor of Benjamin Taliaferro

In Honor of Benjamin Taliaferro, taken from Sketches of some of the First Settlers of Upper Georgia by George R. Gilmer:

When he had just begun to mix with men, he was challenged by a bully before a crowd in the court-yard to a contest of fisty-cuffs. He was too proud to accept, and was threatened with disinheritance by his father for his supposed lack of courage. That he was not afraid to fight, when fighting was right, he proved in many of the hardest fought battles of the Revolution.

He was appointed at the beginning of the war a lieutenant in one of the Virginia regiments, which was afterwards placed upon the Continental establishment. He commanded a company under General Washington during the severe service in the Jerseys, in 1777-8. At the battle of Princeton he captured, with his company, a British captain and his command. When the British officer stepped froward in this dashing regimentals to deliver his sword, the proud barefooted captain ordered his lieutenant to receive it.

At the call of General Washington he volunteered to join the southern army, then under command of General Lincoln. He served under General Lee, and took part in many of the successful exploits of that dashing officer. He was made prisoner at the capture of Charleston, and permitted to return home on parole.

Capt. Taliaferro married Martha Meriwether. He moved to Georgia in 1784. He came one of the leading men of the State; was President of the Senate, a member of Congress, and filled many other high offices. He was a member of the Legislature which passed the Yazoo Act, and reisted all the effort of speculators to induce him to vote for it. When the people of Georgia rescinded the Act, and discarded from office those concerned in its passage, Colonel Taliaferro was made Judge of the Superior Court, though he was no lawyer. The members of the bar who had the law learning necessary for the office, and were willing to accept it, had been concerned in some way or other in that disgraceful contract.

It became very important to the fraudulent land jobbers, who were interested in land causes depending in the courts of the circuit in which Col. Taliaferro presided, to drive him from the bench. By agreement among them, he was challenged by Col. Willis, upon some frivolous pretense, to fight a duel, upon the supposition that his army opinions would compel him to fight, and therefore to resign his judgeship. They were mistaken. He accepted the challenge without resigning. The speculators tried a novel expedient to effect their purpose. Judge Taliaferro's attachment to his wife was well known. Col. Willis and his friends, to overcome the Judge's determination to fight, made their preparations for the duel by practicing within sight and hearing of Mrs. Taliaferro, intending thereby so to frighten her as to make it impossible for her husband to meet the challengers. They were mistaken. Whilst they were practicing, Mrs. Taliaferro was aiding the Judge to put in order the horseman's pistols which he had used when he belonged to Lee's Legion. The Judge and his opponent met. The pistol, which had been oiled by his wife, sent its ball so near the speculator's vitals that he declined receiving a second shot.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

++Orombi reads the Jerusalem Declaration and I Consider the 14 Points

Due to urgent family matters over the weekend and early this week, I am late to study of the Statement on the Global Anglican Future. I appreciated reading the statement while playing this from Anglican TV:

Within the Statement is the Jerusalem Declaration which provides 14 "tenets of orthodoxy which underpin our Anglican identity."
1. We rejoice in the gospel of God through which we have been saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit. Because God first loved us, we love him and as believers bring forth fruits of love, ongoing repentance, lively hope and thanksgiving to God in all things.

2. We believe the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be the Word of God written and to contain all things necessary for salvation. The Bible is to be translated, read, preached, taught and obeyed in its plain and canonical sense, respectful of the church’s historic and consensual reading.

3. We uphold the four Ecumenical Councils and the three historic Creeds as expressing the rule of faith of the one holy catholic and apostolic Church.

4. We uphold the Thirty-nine Articles as containing the true doctrine of the Church agreeing with God’s Word and as authoritative for Anglicans today.
Check (I am grateful that Fr. Matt Kennedy at Stand Firm worked us through these over time.)

5. We gladly proclaim and submit to the unique and universal Lordship of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, humanity’s only Saviour from sin, judgement and hell, who lived the life we could not live and died the death that we deserve. By his atoning death and glorious resurrection, he secured the redemption of all who come to him in repentance and faith.
Check (But would some question my understanding of this?

6. We rejoice in our Anglican sacramental and liturgical heritage as an expression of the gospel, and we uphold the 1662 Book of Common Prayer as a true and authoritative standard of worship and prayer, to be translated and locally adapted for each culture.
Check (I understand the 1928 Prayer Book is accepted under this.)

7. We recognise that God has called and gifted bishops, priests and deacons in historic succession to equip all the people of God for their ministry in the world. We uphold the classic Anglican Ordinal as an authoritative standard of clerical orders.
??? This is out of my areas of knowledge.

8. We acknowledge God’s creation of humankind as male and female and the unchangeable standard of Christian marriage between one man and one woman as the proper place for sexual intimacy and the basis of the family. We repent of our failures to maintain this standard and call for a renewed commitment to lifelong fidelity in marriage and abstinence for those who are not married.
Check (I would have preferred this to also say chastity outside of marriage and fidelity within marriage.)

9. We gladly accept the Great Commission of the risen Lord to make disciples of all nations, to seek those who do not know Christ and to baptise, teach and bring new believers to maturity.

10. We are mindful of our responsibility to be good stewards of God’s creation, to uphold and advocate justice in society, and to seek relief and empowerment of the poor and needy.

11. We are committed to the unity of all those who know and love Christ and to building authentic ecumenical relationships. We recognise the orders and jurisdiction of those Anglicans who uphold orthodox faith and practice, and we encourage them to join us in this declaration.

12. We celebrate the God-given diversity among us which enriches our global fellowship, and we acknowledge freedom in secondary matters. We pledge to work together to seek the mind of Christ on issues that divide us.

13. We reject the authority of those churches and leaders who have denied the orthodox faith in word or deed. We pray for them and call on them to repent and return to the Lord.
Check (This would be the orthodox faith as presented in the previous 12 tenets, I guess.)

14. We rejoice at the prospect of Jesus’ coming again in glory, and while we await this final event of history, we praise him for the way he builds up his church through his Spirit by miraculously changing lives.

Whew, it looks like I qualify as orthodox.