Thursday, June 25, 2009

Perhaps, the end of the beginning

He was speaking about something else entirely. And no, in quoting Winston Churchill, I am not intending to compare North America's newest protestant denomination with certain nasty folk in central Europe at the middle of the last century. But I do believe that this little bit of Churchilliana applies:

"Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning."

Several groups of schismatics, cranks and naysayers have gathered themselves together in Texas and founded a new protestant denomination. Like several newly minted protestant denominations of the 1970s, they claim to be Anglican. They aren't - at least not in any meaningful sense. They also pretend to be Orthodox - but since they cannot bring themselves to affirm the fifth, sixth and seventh ecumenical councils, the're not that either.

They are a small protestant denomination calling themselves the Anglican Church in North America. Since they are not recognized by the Anglican Communion, the name might best be described as false advertising - or perhaps identity theft. Given their creative approach to legal questions of property, one should not be surprised.

They are not, it appears, united in what they believe but in what they reject - and what they reject is uppity gays and uppity women. Mostly uppity gays. Uppity women are a distant second. Well back in third place is any sort of independent thought on theological questions. Genuinely synodical government appears to be somewhere back in fourth since they seem to prefer the rule of prince-bishops.

This has, in some ways, been a long time coming. Several of the leaders of this new protestant denomination have been plotting and scheming for decades. Having failed to take over the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada, they have chosen to establish a new protestant denomination in the hopes that the Anglican Communion will suddenly declare that they are the official holders of the Anglican franchise.

"Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end." This attempt to overthrow North American Anglicanism has some serious financial backers from the extreme political right in the US. These wealthy extremists have also bought and paid for several Anglican leaders in the two-thirds world. (Or, as the Primate of Uganda puts it, "they give us money. Oh they give us money. Since we began to relate with our orthodox brethren they have given us much more money, much more money, oh yeah, much more money. They have given us more money.") The new protestant denomination hopes that their two-thirds world clients will force the Instruments of the Communion to recognise them as the official replacement for both the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church (that is the real Anglican Church of Canada, not the protestant denomination masquerading as an Anglican Church.)

No, this is not the end. It will drag on for another several years - years full of further identity theft, further simony, further sturm und drang.

It is, perhaps, the end of the beginning. Now that the willfully destructive have departed, perhaps the rest of us can get on with the work of the gospel.

Aren't you glad i didn't use a different Churchill quote, like this:
Lady Astor: Winston, you're drunk!
Churchill: Madam, you're ugly - and tomorrow I shall be sober.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

A little market research

Tim Chesterton at Tale Spin has posted a most worthwhile survey on his blog. He's asking "non-churchgoing readers" about why they don't go to church.

Now there is a radical concept. Let's not assume what they think and feel and need and want. Let's ask them.

That's what sensible organizations do.

If you are one of my non-churchgoing readers, please go to Tim's blog and consider answering the questions. If you are one of my churchgoing readers, please go to Tim's blog and ponder the answers.

Two final observations:

1. I hope Tim is distributing this survey by other means besides his blog.

2. Why do I always feel I want to call Tim "Father Tim" even though I know he's "not that sort" of Anglican?

Saturday, June 20, 2009

"When I was sick, you ministered to me"

Sensible conservative Andrew Sullivan has been liveblogging today about events in Tehran.

In this post, he copies unconfirmed tweets, including this very disturbing one:

2.31 pm. Canadians, call your foreign office. It's confirmed Canadian Embassy rejects injured protesters

I emphasize, this is NOT confirmed.

That said, it is a very disturbing report.

We are advised, in Matthew, that we will be judged on how we have responded to those in need - the hungry, the thirsty, the sick and the suffering.

I fail to see who could be in greater need than those who are being done to death by their own government.

Our Minister of Foreign Affairs in the Honourable Lawrence Cannon - email him ( Lawrence Cannon is the grandson of Chubby Power - the last Canadian Liberal prepared to stick to his principles. (He resigned from Mackenzie King's cabinet over conscription.) One hopes his grandson might be prepared to listen to a principled argument.

While you are at it, email:

And don't forget to include your own Member of Parliament.

Look with pity, O heavenly Father, upon those who live with injustice, terror, disease, and death as their constant companions. Have mercy upon us and help us to eliminate cruelty wherever it is found. Strengthen those who seek freedom, justice and equality for all. Amen.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Exhilarating disappointment

The convention was today.

In one sense, the convention itself was of possibly limited relevance. Of the nearly 9500 votes cast, most had been advance votes by mail, by phone or online. There were apparently only 700ish votes cast live today.

Our principle opponent's people had been confidently predicting a first ballot victory in the order of 55 - 60%, which would be the most decisive victory in our party's history (apart, arguably, from the 1987 convention where Roy Romanow was acclaimed).

So much for those predictions.

Ryan finished a quite respectable 25% on the first ballot, but Dwain Lingenfelter (Link) fell short of a majority at only 46%. See the complete results here. The fourth place candidate was dropped and the third place candidate withdrew. Both subsequently endorsed Ryan.

Problem was, we basically needed to take 90% of their votes on the second ballot to stage an upset - a pretty tall order.

It was not to be. Link beat Ryan, clearly but not massively, 55 - 45% on the second and final ballot.

Three months ago, people used to describe the race as "former Deputy Premier Dwain Lingenfelter, MLA Deb Higgins, former party president Yens Pedersen and that doctor from Saskatoon none of us had heard of."

I am exhilarated that I was part of a team that took a virtual unknown and turned him into a serious contender. But, of course, I'm disappointed we couldn't get across the finish line.

Ryan's concession speech hit just the right note, calling on those disappointed in the result to stay and to help build the party. None of this self-indulgent PUMA stupidity here.

I had been up editing speeches until 3:00 am. I'm exhausted. But I know I've been part of something worthwhile.

(I'll be away at the Canadian Public Relations Society Conference and the Change of Command of HMCS REGINA over the coming week. Don't expect me to resume blogging until sometime after June 14. Then I promise to get back to covering the Anglican skirmishes from my own curmudgeonly perspective.)