Thursday, November 22, 2007


Happy Thanksgiving or, Happy Illegal Immigrants day due to the fact that the boatloads of Europeans arrived in this strange land and forced themselves on those who had already been living here for hundreds of years. 
The Pilgrims came to escape religious persecution and mistreatment by the Church of England. But once they got settled in their new land, they decided that their search for religious freedom didn't include those who disagreed with their religious beliefs. 
In addition, the sterile environment of America quickly became contaminated with diseases unknown to the native Americans, killing thousands of Native Americans and the European settlers as well.
The picture is of Squanto or Tisquantum, educated in England and the hero who kept thousands of early settlers from starving to death.
Father Robert Two Bulls is an Episcopal Priest in the Diocese of Los Angeles. I first heard about him in Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori's book, "A Wing and a Prayer," where she told the story of Squanto, the Wampanoag Indian who played a vital role in helping the early settlers learn to survive.  So I searched for information to learn more about Father Two Bulls and Squanto and offer the following for a Thanksgiving reflection.     --Gordon

Thanksgiving Mythology

Lectionary reflections for Thanksgiving Day (C)

By Robert Two Bulls


Lectionary Readings for Thanksgiving Day, Year C, Nov. 25, 2004

Deuteronomy 26:1-11

Psalm 100

Philippians 4:4-9

John 6:25-35


Thanksgiving is the beginning of the holiday season, and preparation for it began immediately after Halloween – or, if you follow the church's calendar, after All Saints' Day on November 1st. This holiday season runs through Christmas and New Year's Day, and is a joyous time for almost everyone.

But for others the season can be a time that produces anxiety, anger, depression and sadness. These feelings can be brought on by a host of reasons. Just gathering with friends and family can produce anxiety. The worries can be compounded by long-distance travel time, delays and sitting in airports. Some folks have high expectations that this time of year will be better than the rest. Or that a broken relationship might be mended, or an estranged family member will finally come home. Sadness is brought about when we are reminded by the empty spaces left by the death of a loved one. And there are always individuals who will be alone during the holiday season.

Thanksgiving Day and the Fourth of July are very much American secular holidays, yet are listed as Major Feasts in the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer (1979). One can argue that Thanksgiving Day has religious beginnings, and I suppose there are some who can make a case for the Fourth of July as well. Thanksgiving has its roots in the harvest festivals of ancient agricultural societies, but like July 4th it has become a patriotic celebration. Perhaps this is because we are unable to make a connection to what constitutes a good harvest, especially when one realizes that fresh bounty can be shipped to us year-round and picked up easily at the local supermarket.

Every year when Thanksgiving Day approaches, I feel without fail a growing consternation inside me. I attribute this feeling to the inevitable emergence of the whitewashed historical record of this day and to the sudden attention that America directs toward the Native American Indians.

Every year when Thanksgiving Day approaches, I feel without fail a growing consternation inside me. I attribute this feeling to the inevitable emergence of the whitewashed historical record of this day and to the sudden attention that America directs toward the Native American Indians. It is an awareness that wakes up every year after Halloween and then will go back to sleep when the last scrap of turkey is devoured.

Unfortunately, the majority of the attention on this particular holiday is focused on stereotypes and a false myth. It is a story that is constantly put forth in schools and media for as long as anyone cares to remember.

It goes something like this: God had given this land to European people. They came to these shores primarily for economic reasons. And through the next few hundred years, America was born as a country and the Indian faded away. All is well. And the Pilgrims came here mainly for religious reasons. After the settling and founding of a new colony they gave thanks to God for providing a great bounty. Thanksgiving Day was made a national holiday by one of our greatest of presidents, Abe Lincoln. Today we celebrate this secular and religious holiday by giving thanks to God for our great nation and for providing all that we have.

The truth of this story is a complicated one about which much has been written. I cannot give it justice with these bare facts that I present here in this writing. But they are facts that need to be considered and remembered before we begin to celebrate this holiday.

When the Pilgrims touched Plymouth Rock in 1620 and made it to shore, they found a deserted village, which they eventually appropriated for themselves and named Plymouth Colony. The village had been named Patuxet and was the formal home of people who were a branch of the Wampanoags. The majority of these people had died from smallpox in 1618. The village was a ghost town.

The Pilgrims were helped out by Squanto (or Tisquantum), a Wampanoag and a former inhabitant of Patuxet. Squanto spoke English. He had learned this language over a period of several years, following his capture by English traders and sale into slavery in Europe. He had made it back home, a heroic nine-year journey, only to find his people pretty much wiped out.

After teaching the Pilgrims basic survival and agricultural techniques, the Wamponoags and Pilgrims kept peaceful relations for well over fifty years. Some have said that Squanto was eventually killed by the “good Puritans.”

[W]e celebrate a false mythology that plays into our notion of greatness. It is presented like a bridge that connects a mythic past of one's ancestors having nothing to present-day descendents having a superabundance of everything. The troubling aspect of this symbol is that the foundation on one side of this bridge is unstable. . .

Perhaps we as a nation need to celebrate the life of Squanto, who was the real hero of this sad story. Instead we celebrate a false mythology that plays into our notion of greatness. It is presented like a bridge that connects a mythic past of one's ancestors having nothing to present-day descendents having a superabundance of everything. The troubling aspect of this symbol is that the foundation on one side of this bridge is unstable, and I am not sure that making a connection from this myth to giving thanks today is a very good one to make. We have to remember that land in America was largely acquired dishonestly by outright theft and by breaking treaties with the first peoples of this land. American History that only considers the false myths as truth will always diminish the past and present lives of Native American Indians.

There is the other problem that arises from this mythmaking, and that is the one about a certain special relationship being established between God and America. We have to ask the question, “Did God really send the diseases to annihilate all the indigenous inhabitants and then give the land to the Europeans?” Christians have conveniently found support through the years in the passages found in the book of Deuteronomy. One example is today's reading about the Israelites being given land to occupy that was already settled by other peoples. This problem surrounding land ownership is one that we will be fighting over for years to come.

Ultimately we cannot take our riches with us when we die. The land will always be here. I suppose our descendents will keep on fighting for it, but ultimately it belongs to God. We as humans are called to be good stewards of the land, of this earth, and we are failing spectacularly at it. We Americans live in the “Land of Plenty,” but why do many of us wallow in personal debt? What can be done about the ever growing chasm that is between the few rich and countless poor? Why are we so afraid?

John's Gospel is reminding us that what we as Christians receive the gift of bread given to us by God. This story also reminds us of the manna given to the Israelites so that they were able survive in the wilderness. They were only to take what they needed and were to leave the rest. Basically God was telling them not to be greedy. The bread we receive from God gives us life. The bread from above is the word made flesh in Jesus. We are reminded that the gift of the Word to the world is the real nourishment we need everyday. So today, instead of sticking this gift in the closet, open it up, share it and be thankful for it.


The Rev. Robert Two Bulls (Oglala Lakota) is missioner for Native ministries in the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles. He is an artist and an educator who develops inter- and cross-cultural models on Christianity and traditional spiritual practices among indigenous peoples and other communities. Robert may be reached by email at .

Rudy Giuliani,Pat Robertson and the Bible

This is from the Borowitz report

Many are puzzled as to why Pat Robertson would endorse Rudy. Why would Pat Robertson support a presidential candidate

who is pro-choice and pro-gay. He even made a statement that he hopes that one day, when gay marriage is legal in 

New York, he can marry a gay couple he is close to.

On the other hand, Pat Robertson wants Jesus to come soon. Therefore, I think Pat Robertson understands that the Bush

administration hasn't acted quickly enough to bomb Iran, hastening the second coming.

However, if Rudy is elected president, the U.S. would be more likely to initiate a major conflagration with Iran hastening

the second coming of Christ.


Pat Robertson Says Giuliani Presidency Appears in Book of Revelation

Rudy Would Usher in Biblical ‘End Days,’ Evangelist Says

One day after endorsing former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani for president, televangelist Pat Robertson explained his decision, saying that a Giuliani presidency features prominently in the Book of Revelation.

In his endorsement announcement the day before, Rev. Robertson had made reference to Mr. Giuliani’s tenure as “America’s Mayor,” but did not indicate that the Republican frontrunner was a key player in the Bible’s most apocalyptic book.

In his statement today, however, the televangelist made it clear that “in order for the Second Coming to occur, the world needs to end, and Rudy Giuliani is just the man for that job.”

Rev. Robertson said that he was “confident” that within weeks of his inauguration, Mr. Giuliani would usher in the “end days” that are a staple of Bible prophecy.

In praising Mr. Giuliani, Mr. Robertson had critical words for the current resident of the White House, President George W. Bush: “President Bush got us on the road to Armageddon, but it’s taking too darn long -- Rudy Giuliani will put us in the express lane.”

While the Giuliani camp initially welcomed the endorsement of the influential evangelist, the former New York mayor seemed less enthusiastic today about being identified as one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

When asked by a reporter in Iowa about Mr. Robertson’s comments today, Mr. Giuliani replied, “9/11.”

Elsewhere, former Beatle Paul McCartney confirmed that he is dating a Metropolitan Transportation Authority board member, explaining, “Since my divorce from Heather, I’ve had to start taking the subway.”

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Episcopal Conflict: A Grumpy Old Man VS A Smart and Skilled Woman Primate

Here is the ENS reporty on the Fort Worth diocesan convention. The outcome was no surprise to anyone. 

Bishop Iker is correct that this is just the beginning of this fight, but what is yet to come is extremely serious. 

Our primate, Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori has already said that as "long as one" wants to remain in The Episcopal Church, those members will be able to do so.

Bishop Jack Iker might try to take the entire diocese out of The Episcopal Church, but I think he's in fantasy land. He acts like a bitter, angry man.                          ----Gordon

Episcopal News Service

November 17, 2007

*Fort Worth convention approves first reading of constitutional changes

Diocese to explore invitation to join Southern Cone province *

By Matthew Davies and Jan Nunley

[Episcopal News Service]

The 25th annual convention of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth November

17 gave the first of two approvals needed to amend its constitution and

remove accession to the Constitution and Canons of General Convention, as

well as several canonical amendments that eliminate mention of the Episcopal


Speaking in a news conference following the convention's conclusion, Fort

Worth Bishop Jack Iker said the decisions "marked a firm resolve about

moving forward together, recognizing that there are parts that are not fully

behind the path we've chosen, but the debate is always characterized by

respect and honesty."

"It's important to note that the decisions made today are preliminary

decisions that need to be ratified by another convention," he added.

Meeting at the Will Rogers Memorial Center in Fort Worth, Texas, the

convention also thanked the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone for its

invitation offering the diocese membership "on an emergency and pastoral

basis." Iker and the diocesan Standing Committee are to prepare a report on

"the constitutional and canonical implications and means of accepting that

invitation." Attending the convention was Bishop Frank Lyons of Bolivia in

the Southern Cone.

The convention noted that the diocese wishes "to remain within the family of

the Anglican Communion while dissociating itself from the moral,

theological, and disciplinary innovations of the Episcopal Church…"

If the constitutional and canonical amendments pass a second reading,

presumably at the 2008 diocesan convention, they effectively would violate

the requirements of the Episcopal Church's Constitution and Canons. Article

V, Section 1 says that a diocese's constitution must include "an unqualified

accession" to the constitution and canons of the Episcopal Church.

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori sent a letter November 8 to Fort

Worth Bishop Jack Leo Iker, who has supported the amendments, notifying him

that his intentions to withdraw the diocese from the Episcopal Church could

result in her taking action to bring the diocese and its leadership into

line with the mandates of the national Church.

"Your statements and actions in recent months demonstrate an intention to

lead your diocese into a position that would purportedly permit it to depart

from the Episcopal Church," wrote Jefferts Schori to Iker on November 8.

"...If your course does not change, I shall regrettably be compelled to see

that appropriate canonical steps are promptly taken to consider whether you

have abandoned the Communion of this Church -- by actions and substantive

statements, however, they may be phrased -- and whether you have committed

canonical offences that warrant disciplinary action."

Iker responded November 12 to Jefferts Schori's letter declaring, "I have

abandoned nothing, and I have violated no canons." Iker termed Jefferts

Schori's letter "highly inappropriate" and "threatening," and claimed that

it "appears designed to intimidate" delegates to the diocesan convention.

"The posturing using public released letters added to the resolve that we

must do something firm," Iker told the media gathered at the November 17

news conference. "This is unfortunate -- I would hope the bishops of the

national church would actually try to make efforts of reconciliation."

In an October 20, 2007 address to the Forward in Faith International

Assembly in London, a recording of which is available on the group's

website, Iker stated that the three Forward in Faith dioceses -- Fort Worth,

San Joaquin, and Quincy -- intend to leave the Episcopal Church by 2009.

"There are three Forward in Faith dioceses in the United States, and the

three bishops of those dioceses have come to a common conclusion that we

have no future in the Episcopal Church," Iker reported to the London

meeting. "Our conventions in those three dioceses, Fort Worth, Quincy, and

San Joaquin, will be taking constitutional action to separate officially

from TEC. Because it is a constitutional change, it must be passed at two

successive annual conventions."

On the recording, Iker continued: "...Our plan is not only to disassociate,

then, from the Episcopal Church, but to officially, constitutionally

re-affiliate with an existing orthodox province of the communion that does

not ordain women to the priesthood. These conversations are very far along

but cannot be announced until the province that is considering our appeal

has made their final decision public."

The annual convention of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh November 2 gave

the first of two approvals needed to enact a constitutional change to remove

language in its diocesan constitution.

Jefferts Schori sent the first of several letters warning bishops of the

consequences of attempted secession to Pittsburgh Bishop Robert Duncan on

October 31.

At its December 8-9 convention, the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin is

scheduled to hear the second and final reading of a similar amendment that

would delete from its constitution all references to the Episcopal Church

and state that the diocese is "a constituent member of the Anglican

Communion and in full communion with the See of Canterbury." San Joaquin

Bishop John-David M. Schofield has welcomed an invitation from the Anglican

Church of the Southern Cone, similar to the one received by Fort Worth, that

offers the diocese membership "on an emergency and pastoral basis."

In June, the Executive Council, the governing body of the Episcopal Church

between meetings of General Convention, warned that actions by Episcopal

Church dioceses that change their constitutions in an attempt to bypass the

Church's Constitution and Canons are "null and void."

In Resolution NAC023, the Council reminded dioceses that they are required

to "accede" to the Constitution and Canons, and declared that any diocesan

action that removes that accession from its constitution is "null and void."

That declaration, the resolution said, means that their constitutions "shall

be as they were as if such amendments had not been passed."

The Presiding Bishop could ask the Episcopal Church's Title IV Review

Committee to consider whether the bishops supporting those constitutional

changes have abandoned the communion of the Episcopal Church. If the

committee agreed that abandonment had taken place, the bishops would have

two months to recant before the matter went to the full House of Bishops. If

the House concurred, the Presiding Bishop could depose the bishops and

declare the episcopates of those dioceses vacant. There is no appeal and no

right of formal trial outside of a hearing before the House of Bishops.

Members of congregations remaining in the Episcopal Church would be gathered

to organize a new diocesan convention and elect a replacement Standing

Committee, if necessary. An assisting bishop would be appointed until a

search process could be initiated and a new bishop elected and consecrated.

A lawsuit could be filed against the departed leadership and a

representative sample of departing congregations if they attempted to retain

Episcopal Church property.

The 2007-2009 Title IV Review Committee consists of Bishop Dorsey Henderson

of Upper South Carolina (president), Bishop Suffragan Bavi E. Rivera of

Olympia, Bishop Suffragan David C. Jones of Virginia, Bishop C. Wallis Ohl

Jr. of Northwest Texas, the Rev. Carolyn Kuhr of Montana, the Very Rev.

Scott Kirby of Eau Claire, J.P. Causey Jr. of Virginia and Deborah J. Stokes

of Southern Ohio.

A Psychological Analysis of President Bush

I found this psychoanalysis of president Bush insightful. While no reputable psychiatrist will make a diagnosis without doing a complete assessment and psychiatric evaluation, a good psychiatrist has the ability to observe when somebody is mentally impaired.

An interesting perspective from Dr. Paul Minot, a psychiatrist in

Waterville, Maine George Bush's "irrational" consideration of a "surge" in

the wake of the Iraq Study Group report -- which apparently defies all

credible counsel - has begun to generate speculation regarding his sanity.

References to Bush's "delusions" have appeared in the mainstream media and

throughout the blogosphere.

As a psychiatrist, I understandably get concerned when I see clinical

terminology bandied about in political discourse, and thought it might be of

interest to share a professional perspective on this question. I have a

distinct clinical impression that I think explains much of Mr. Bush's

visible pathology.


First and foremost, George W. Bush has a Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

What this means, is that he has rather desperate insecurities about himself,

and compensates by constructing a grandiose self-image. Most of his

relationships are either mirroring relationships -- people who flatter him

and reinforce his grandiosity -- or idealized self-objects -- people that he

himself thinks a lot of, and hence feels flattered by his association with

them. Some likely perform both functions. Hence his weakness for sycophants

like Harriet Miers, and powerful personalities like Dick Cheney. Even as a

narcissist, Bush knows he isn't a great intellect, and compensates by

dismissing the value of intellect altogether. Hence his disses of Gore's

bookishness, and any other intellectual that isn't flattering him. Bush

knows that his greatest personal strength is projecting personal affability,

and tries to utilize it even in the most inappropriate settings. That's why

he gives impromptu backrubs to the German Chancellor in a diplomatic meeting

-- he's insecure intellectually, and tries to make everyone into a "buddy"

so he can feel more secure.


The most disturbing aspect about narcissists, however, is their pathological

inability to empathize with others, with the exception of those who either

mirror them, or whom they idealize. Hence Bush's horrifying insensitivity to

the Katrina victims, his callous jokes when visiting grievously injured

soldiers, and numerous other instances. He simply has no capacity to feel

for others in that way. When LBJ was losing Vietnam, he developed a haunted

expression that anybody could recognize as indicative of underlying anguish.

For all his faults, you just knew he was losing sleep over it. By the same

token, we know just as well that Bush isn't losing any sleep over dead

American soldiers, to say nothing of dead Iraqis. He didn't exhibit any sign

of significant concern until his own political popularity was sliding --

because THAT'S something he CAN feel.


Which brings us to his recent "delusion." To be blunt, I don't see any

indication that Bush has any sort of psychotic disorder whatsoever. The

lapses in reality-testing that he exhibits are the sort that can be readily

explained by his characterological insensitivity to the feelings and

perceptions of others, due to his persistently self-centered frame of



Mr. Bush knows that things aren't going his way in Iraq, and he knows that

it is damaging him politically. He also sees that it is likely to get worse

no matter what he does, and in fact it may be a lost cause. However, he

recognizes that if he follows the recommendations of the Iraq Study Group,

that Iraq will almost certainly evolve into a puppet state of Iran, and

given his treatment of Iran he will completely lose control of the situation

-- and he will be politically discredited for this outcome.


The ONLY chance that he has to avoid this political disaster, and save his

political skin, is to hope against hope for "victory" in Iraq. Advancing the

"surge" idea offers Bush two political advantages over following the ISG

recommendations. One is that if it is implemented, maybe, just maybe, he can

pull out some sort of nominal "victory" out of the situation. The chances

are exceedingly slim, granted, but slim is better to him than the

alternative (none). Alternately, if the "surge" is politically rejected, he

gains some political cover, so when things inevitably go bad, he can say "I

told you so" and blame the "surrender monkeys" for the outcome. Most people

probably won't buy it, but some (his core base) will.


Now, I know what many of you are thinking -- is George Bush willing to risk

the lives of hundreds, maybe thousands more American soldiers, on an outside

chance to save his political skin, in a half-baked plan that even he knows

probably won't work at all? Yes, he is. Because George Bush is that

narcissistic, that desperate, and yes, that sociopathic as well.


Especially interesting about Mr. Bush, but quite common, Narcissistic

Personality Disorder is frequently associated with alcoholism. The

insufferable "holier than thou" attitude associated with "Dry Drunk

Syndrome" is indicative of underlying narcissism.

Also, the way that Bush embraces Christianity is characteristically

narcissistic. Rather than incorporating the lessons of humility and empathy

modeled by Jesus, Bush uses his Christian faith to reinforce his

grandiosity.  Jesus is his powerful ally, his idealized "buddy" who gives a

rubber stamp to anything he thinks.


Finally -- and this will sound VERY familiar to many readers -- those

persons with NPD are notoriously unable to say they're sorry. Admitting

error is fundamentally incompatible with their precarious efforts to

maintain their sense of order. Anyone having this particular character flaw

almost certainly has NPD.


Professor of Sociology & Faculty Associate, Institute for Policy Research

Northwestern University

1812 Chicago Avenue, room 108

Evanston, IL 60208


FAX: 847-491-9907