Thursday, February 22, 2007
By Dr Rowan Williams
In some people's eyes, keeping the Anglican Communion together as a worldwide institution looks like prolonging the life of a dysfunctional or abusive marriage; isn't it more honest and humane to head for the divorce courts?Why should we be mortgaged to other people's prejudices - if we're liberal - or other people's irresponsibility - if we're traditionalist? Isn't what matters the life and vigour, and indeed the integrity, of the Church on our doorstep? There were moments in the meeting of Anglican leaders in Tanzania when I guess most of those present felt a bit like this. The fact that they weren't prepared simply to leave things there suggests, though, that more needs to be said. There remains a strong belief that this kind of worldwide Christian institution means we all agree to take responsibility for each other in some way, and to recognise that none of us has ultimate interests and concerns that are exclusively local or personal. So what is the problem at the moment? When Anglicans in America decided, in 2003, to appoint as a bishop someone in an openly gay partnership, the widespread reaction was that there hadn't yet been the kind of discussion in the worldwide setting that might convince others of the rightness, in principle, of blessing same-sex relationships - and that this discussion needed to happen before anyone decided whether an active gay person might be a candidate for being a bishop. Not too surprisingly, most in the Communion felt that the conclusion had come before the argument. This created two sorts of difficulty. One was the question of limits. For most Anglicans, questions about sexual ethics belonged in that category of teaching that was not up for negotiation as a result of cultural variation or social development. As with the central doctrines of the Creed and the biblical world view, people could only say: "This isn't mine to give away." They needed more than an assurance that it had been thought about in America and that a lot of people there had concluded it was all right. The other question followed on: if an issue just might be in the "not mine to give away" category, how did the Church as a whole decide whether it really was in that category or not? How did it decide as a Church, not as a conglomerate of local independent bodies? And if it couldn't decide as a Church, how could it carry on talking with other worldwide Christian bodies on the same foundations? Not a wholly new question: the often bitter controversies over women's ordination had already raised some of these matters. But at least on that, a conviction had emerged that it was possible to treat it as something people could disagree about and still leave intact the basics of common faith. For a variety of reasons, this current question has not felt like that for many. And - worst of all in some ways - the possibility of detailed and patient scrutiny of the underlying question about sexual ethics was rather derailed by the feeling that the outcome had been decided in advance by one group in the Communion. Trust suffered badly. To digress for just a moment: one of the hardest things in all this has been to keep insisting on the absolute moral imperative of combating bigotry and violence against gay people, and the need to secure appropriate civic and legal protection for couples who have chosen to share their lives. These are different matters from whether the Church has the freedom to bless same-sex unions. A negative or agnostic answer to this latter question is frequently heard as a negative attitude to the imperatives of care and respect - and sometimes that perception is sadly accurate, judging from the postbag that arrives here. Yet they are different, and quite a lot of Christians know it and try to act accordingly. What happened in Tanzania in the last week or so represents an effort to define what could restore trust - all round, since the point is made that interventions from overseas in the American Church also have destructive effects in some ways. What has come to be called the "Listening Process" was discussed and strongly affirmed the continuing work on finding means for homosexual men and women in the Communion to speak about their experience in a safe environment. This work has not been restricted to the West, and shows surprising signs of vigour. The outline of a "covenant" document for local Anglican Churches suggests ways in which we could commit ourselves to a future process where consultation was fully built in. The requests to the American Church for further clarification and a moratorium on certain actions while the covenant process is going forward are essentially requests to show that their desire to stay with the Communion is strong enough to cope with a halt for the sake of continuing to move and work together. The suggestion of a structure in America to care for the minority tries to remove any need for external intervention. Whether it can all come together remains to be seen. But the leaders of the Communion thought it worth trying - not because enforced unanimity matters more than anything, but because the relations and common work of the Communion, especially in the developing world, matter massively. And also because the idea that there might be a worldwide Christian Church that could balance unity and consent seems worth holding on to, for the sake of the whole Christian family and even for the sake of human society itself. I think that those who gathered in Tanzania believed that their vocation was to look for a way of embodying this balance. Losing that possibility is not a small matter. Working for it (when I think back to the painful intensity of some of our discussions) is not looking for an easy option. THE GUARDIAN END Interpretation: Blah, blah and blah,blah. The Archbishop is continuing his trying to make nice and reconcile everybody. But he really wants the gay folk and their supporters to shut the hell up and stop asking the Anglican Communion for inclusion. Many in the AC don't want non-heterosexuals included in all matter of church life. So according to the Archbishop, we can all do our social justice thing in civil life and in the courts, but keep your homosexual crap out of the church. But he's got it all mixed up. The Anglican Communion is NOT a church, but a rather loosly knit body of Anglicans who agree on some things and don't agree on others.
Monday, February 19, 2007
Thirty six years ago I wrote a paper for an English class during my freshman year at Mount Vernon Nazarene College. The paper dealt with the importance of keeping theocracy out of America's government. I got a good grade on the paper. That was back then. In today's day and age, I'm not so sure that the paper would be accepted. We're living in a different day and age. It wasn't long after I wrote that paper, that Pat Robertson's new political religion came on the scene. He started talking about a religious political movement with efforts to take control of mainstream denominations, America's airwaves, our congress, our courts. Pat Robertson was adamant that this new political religious movement could create a Christian empire. Is it too far fetched to say that America's christian right is following in the footsteps of the German Christian Church, the pro-Hitler,pro-Nazi church? Is it too far fetched to see the American religious right movement attempting to use religion in order to dismantle America's current open society in order to create a form of government in sync with their own religious beliefs? Billy Graham didn't admonish believers to distance themselves from political power for nothing. He saw the danger of fascism; of any religion controlling our government. According to statistics I found from Theocracy Watch, (these statistics are from 2004) the power brokers in the Christian Right had the majority of seats in 36 % of GOP state committees, or 18 of 50 states and large minorities in 81 % of the rest of the states. They had 45 in the U.S. Senate and 186 in the House of Representatives. The even use their children to help take control of the U.S. Supreme Court (please refer to my JESUS CAMP post). The state of Texas is now attempting to pass legislation banning the teaching of evolution in all Texas schools and requiring Bible study as part of the school curriculum. President Bush wants social welfare turned over to churches through "faith based " initiatives," while allowing the religious providers to provide or withhold service according to the believes of the religion providing the service. One white house staff member from the Office of Faith Based Initiatives (or some such title), quit over this due to the fact that evangelicals, those who support the White House religious beliefs get the contracts while other religions are turned down. The religious right plants folks in mainline denominations to cause upheaval in local churches and turn them into evangelical denominations. One organization pays millions of dollars to move people from one part of the country to another to make these folks registered in particular voting districts to win another evangelical seat in our government.
Unfortunately, many good evangelical Christians are being used as pawns in this attempt to take over the American government. They are the victims of a horrible manipulation of their religion which decided to steer away from the teachings of Jesus in favor of taking control of our government.
Hate and exclusion are common themes expressed on Christian television and mega churches where ministers and evangelists claim to speak for God. Fear based messages and hate mongered cheer leading and hand waving are the norm.
When a mega church pastor of TV televangelist preaches that the congregation doesn't need trade unions or that if we lose our jobs to outsourcing doesn't matter because Jesus is coming soon and we won't need those unions or jobs, many in the congregation accept these statements and vote accordingly. The brave person who makes any statement opposing these views is told that they are listening to the voice of Satan or some such nonsense.
Allowing the people of Sierra Leon to die of starvation and lack of AIDS medication, Pat Robertson took his diamonds from the country to amass his fortune for his own personal wealthy lifestyle and to finance his campaign to take over America. Not unlike the German Christian Church stealing precious artwork to finance Hitler's campaign.
We are living in dark days in America. Be on guard. The Christians in Germany didn't expect what happened to happen. But it did. One step at a time, Germany became a Nazi country. We don't want this to happen in America. Or do some of us want it to?
Sunday, February 18, 2007
© 2006 Virgin America. All Rights Reserved.
I hope Virgin America takes to the airways soon. I really think that the airline industry in America is scared to death of a new competitor coming to the market. Currently, customer service in the airline industry means little. When Virgin America starts flying,amenities such as more leg room, larger leather seats, high tech game and entertainment modalities at each seat, a
self- service mini bar and snack fridge and on board etc, our current airlines will need to scramble to come up with something to satisfy the needs of American passengers. Currently, American carriers think that if they get you in a seat they're doing you a big favor.
Please sign the petition to let Virgin America fly!
Bishop Suffragan (ret) John Said
Gordon and Bishop SaidBishop Said confirmed me at St. Mark's Episcopal Church, Palm Beach Gardens, FL 10 years ago. He's been really great coming to the aid of our congregation in the last month of being without a rector for 3 years. He kept office hours at the church, lead an Adult Forum, provided pastoral needs, preached and was just wonderful. I've always liked Bishop Said. I consider the picture above taken two weeks ago, my 10 year anniversary of my confirmation.
Last Sunday, he closed the service with a beautiful prayer which I wanted to share with my readers:
May God bless you with discomfort ... at easy answers, half-truths, and superficial relationships, so that you may live deep within your heart.
May God bless you with anger ... at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people, so that you may work for justice, freedom, and peace.
May God bless you with tears ... to shed for those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation and war, so that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and to turn their pain into joy.
And may God bless you with enough Holy foolishness ... to believe that you can make a difference in this world, so that you can do what others claim cannot be done! Amen!