Sunday, February 28, 2010

And that's a wrap

In the Olympic event that mattered most to Canadians, Canada took home the Gold in men's hockey with a heart-stopping, sudden death overtime win over the United States. Sid the Kid from Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia put the game away 7:40 into a 20 minute overtime period.

This was the best Olympic outing in Canadian history, with 26 medals (third overall). And, with 14, Canada surpasses the former record for Gold Medals previously held conjointly by the Soviet Union and Norway.

Perhaps, though, there is something quintessentially Canadian about our household. After the initial shouting and cheering, neither my beloved nor I could help but empathise with the crushing disappointment of the American team who, in about eight minutes of playing time, had gone from "about to lose" to "tied it up and gained the momentum" to "lost." It seems to us that, while a Silver in the individual events feels like you did very, very well, a Silver in the team events probably feels like 46 kinds of crap.

But the classiest moment of the post-game coverage, to my mind, was the CTV interview with US goalie Ryan Miller, who had been the key to American success throughout the games up to that point. See if you can find it (I'll look later). That young man is a class act.

And the most moving moment? Listening to our national anthem after the medal presentation. The music was instrumental, but you could hear every word distinctly as the crowd sang out our usually subdued pride. And then, part way through, the visual was no longer an ice rink in Vancouver, but a briefing room in Kandahar, where Canadian soldiers, sailors and air folk were on their feet singing through the tears of joy.

Now, off to evensong.

Is it inappropriate to ask for a solemn Te Deum in the evening?

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Apparently an MA from Cambridge is no guarantee of intelligence

Michael Scott-Joynt, the Bishop of Winchester, has written an article for The Guardian in which he explains that the six Lords Spiritual in the House of Lords voted against amendments to the Equality Bill in order to preserve religious pluralism.

Now, agree or disagree, it is internally consistent to argue that the preservation of religious pluralism requires that religious bodies have the ability to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation.

Here's the problem. One of the proposed amendments that +Winton and the other Lords Spiritual present voted against would have allowed the registration of civil partnerships (ie, marriage-like unions which can include same sex relationships) to be conducted in religious houses of worship.

Now, let's be clear. The amendment did NOT say that religious bodies would have been REQUIRED to have anything to do with civil partnerships. It merely allowed religious bodies that choice.

Three religious bodies in the UK - Quakers, Unitarians and Liberal Jews - have indicated that they want the option to perform civil partnership rites in their houses of worship.

But in the name of religious pluralism, +Winton and his ecclesiastical cronies decided that the rights of Quakers, Unitarians and Liberal Jews don't count.

+Winton received a BA (1965) and an MA (1968) from King's College, Cambridge.

Apparently you can get a BA and an MA from Cambridge while still failing to grasp the fundamentals of logic.

If I were the Provost of Kings, I think I'd be asking +Winton to turn back his degree in order to preserve the credibility of the institution.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Go forth into all the world . . .

At the conclusion of the liturgy every Sunday, I tell the people to go.

Well, actually, I tell them they should come downstairs for coffee, food and fellowship. And then, after that, they should go into the world to love and serve the Lord. I take full advantage of the rubric which says theat the people should be dismissed with "these or similar words." (By rights, this part of the liturgy ought to be done by a deacon. At the moment, we have no deacon.)

This fits neatly with a recurring theme in my preaching: that the old mission strategy of building a Church and opening the doors may have worked once (though I'm not convinced), but it certainly doesn't work now. The work of the Church is out there in the world.

That was why I was struck by this pictorial essay from the Chicago Tribune about Episcopal priest Lane Hensley of the Church of the Transfiguration in the Chicago suburb of Palos Park, who went to the local commuter train station and offered the imposition of ashes to any commuters who desired it.

This wasn't the only place this sort of thing happened - it was just the first I read about. Another example was an ecumenical initiative in St. Louis - though that one apparently involved a more extended mini-liturgy.

There has been a lot of discussion about this here, here, here and in various other places.

Several commentators have a legitimate concern about the propriety of detaching a symbolic thing and ritual act (ashes and the imposition of ashes) from their proper context. What does it mean, to the average person, to have ashes smudged on their foreheads with an admonition to recall that "you are dust, and to dust you shall return?" Does the separation of the symbol and ritual from their proper context impair their meaning and strip them of their significance? And does this feed into the consumer culture - creating, as it were, a liturgical drive-through McSpirituality?

I think that these are very real and very legitimate questions. (After all, if my friends Dan Martins and Elizabeth Kaeton are asking the same tough questions, they must be legitimate questions.)

But I also think they miss a larger reality about our present context.

A generation or two ago, we could safely assume that the majority of those rushing by on the train platform in Chicago were (at least nominally) affiliated with some organized religious body. If they were from a Christian Church with a liturgical tradition that observed Ash Wednesday, we could similarly assume that, if they weren't going to be attending Church that day, the decision was more or less a conscious one - even if it was a default decision.

That was Christendom. Or at least the dying days of Christendom.

This is post-Christendom.

Today, for most of those rushing by, whatever faint religious affiliation remains is a distant memory of an hereditary affiliation. (I think Grandma was a Lutheran. Or was it Baptist? Maybe Church of England?) If they aren't going to attend an Ash Wednesday service, it's mostly because a) they didn't realize it even was Ash Wednesday, b) they had no idea what Ash Wednesday was, c) it would never occur to them to attend a Church service on a Sunday, let alone a regular work day.

Yet, if the assorted demographics tell us anything, this same generation is yearning for spiritual meaning. There is a hunger for a community of faith and for a religious sensibility which is neither a bland "be kind to others" nor an angry denunciation of non-conformity.

Yes, it challenges the religious sensibility of those who are already inside the doors. But then, so did Jesus when he healed on the Sabbath.

I'm inclined to think that Fr. Hensley's approach offered too little context. Practically speaking, I suspect the roughly three minute liturgy in St. Louis would be to much context in the context. (And, like several commentators at the various websites, I have some issues regarding the ecclesiastical haberdashery.)

But I like the idea. My quibbles on the execution are minor and easily managed.

To go out into the world and to proclaim to people - in a respectful and inviting way - their need of God, of grace, of repentance. That, it seems to me, is the Gospel in action.

If it awakens only one person, was it not worth it?

(The Diocese of Missouri page has a video that one cannot embed. Go check it out at the bottom of this page.)

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Ugandan Homosexuality Bill - not just about killing gays

It's also about killing anyone who doesn't hate gays.

While Archbishop Henry Orombi (after significant international pressure) has managed to cavil over the death penalty provisions, he and the Anglican Church in Uganda have endorsed the legislation overall.

Do I need to point out that this is in violation of Lambeth 1998 1-10?

Didn't think so.

Can you spell "h*a*t*e*m*o*n*g*e*r*i*n*g***h*y*p*o*c*r*i*t*e?"

Episcopal Café's The Lead has good coverage of other commentary as well.

Prayers for Lent - at your computer

The Anglican Church of Canada is offering a nice service to assist the Lenten devotions of the 'puter-bound.

Throughout Lent, this space will feature striking landscapes paired with prayers from the Anglican Church of Canada and its partners. This resource is intended to offer a visual pause and to promote this season of reflection and repentance.

A certain geographical ecumenism seems to be at play since the first picture is of the Arizona desert.

And a certain liturgical breadth since the initial prayer is from the 1962 Canadian Book of Common Prayer.

Almighty and everlasting God,
who hatest nothing that thou has made, and
dost forgive the sins of all them that are penitent:
Create and make in us new and contrite hearts,
that we worthily lamenting our sins,
and acknowledging our wretchedness,
may obtain of thee, the God of all mercy,
perfect remission and forgiveness;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

"Fruitless mix of racism, conspiracy theories"

Ironically, Faux News seems unable to control their own messaging.

Now, online polls are far from reliable, but the results of this Faux News online questionaire seems pretty close to the mark.

What do you think the Tea Party movement is about?

* Small government and fiscal responsibility - 10%

* Exposing Democrats socialist agenda - 1%

* voicing outrage at out-of-touch politicians - 4%

* Fruitless mix of racism, conspiracy theories - 84%

* Other (add your comment) - 1%

That's with more than 300,000 responses. Seems uncannily accurate if you ask me.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Proud moment for egregiously nice people

Alexandre Bilodeau made history this morning. He became the first Canadian in history to win an Olympic gold medal on Canadian soil.

We were, until today, the only Olympic host country ever to walk away without a gold won at home. Our drought lasted through the Montreal Olympics of 1976 and the Calgary Winter Olympics of 1988.

It seemed like our drought might never end when defending Women's Freestyle Moguls gold medal champion Jennifer Heil was narrowly edged back to a silver yesterday. (I met Jennifer Heil a couple of years ago and got to hold her gold medal from Turin. I may be one of a small handful of people in the world who has held both an Olympic gold medal and the medal of the Nobel Peace Prize.)

Alexandre Bilodeau was expected to finish no better than third. Instead, he became a Canadian hero.

To round this out, I offer two things.

Please go check out this humourous yet affectionate column about Canadians by American writer Rick Reilly of ESPN. Among my favourite bits:

These people are nice. Preposterously nice. Aunt Bee in mukluks nice. This is a country that has human-chomping grizzlies on every corner and yet chose the furry beaver for its national animal.

. . .

• Go to Tim's (short for "Tim Hortons") and have a double-double (two creams, two sugars) and some Timbits (donut holes) and stand around and talk about curling. This will be a welcome topic. The Canadians are still great at curling.
You: The boys oughta do priddy good, eh?
Him: Oh, sure. The sweeps are beauties.
You: You thinkin' they might be winnin' and whatnot, eh?
Him: Boy, would that ever be neat!

. . .

• If you're a snowboarder and you snap your neck in three places doing your Double Fakie Ollie Grab and they're putting you in the ambulance, smile and go, "It's fine! Canada's got free health care!"

And, finally, the song we were all waiting to hear at the Olympics.

κατὰ αἱρέσεων (Adversus Haereses / Against Heresies)

One of the favourite rhetorical flourishes of the hardline Anglican right is to claim that the leadership of the Anglican Church of Canada and the Episcopal Church is a heretic-ridden bastion of heterodoxy. They have their favourite whipping boys, of course: John Spong (formerly Bishop of Newark, now retired) in the United States and Michael Ingham (Bishop of New Westminster) in Canada.

Now, personally, I've never been that impressed with John Spong's theological writings. And while I found Ingham's Rites for a New Age quite useful (it's where I first discovered the concept of post-Christendom) , most of the rest of his stuff I've read has left me cold as well. As a result, I have no particular dog in the fight about the orthodoxy or heterodoxy of either John Spong or Michael Ingham. In fact, if anything, I lean towards the possibility that the right may have a case to make.

Thing is, serious accusations like "heresy" deserve a serious forum for discussion and resolution. This is particularly so in the Anglican tradition which has always allowed for a range of understanding on most (and possibly all) theological questions. Elizabeth I famously remarked that she had "no desire to make windows into men's souls." Thus, in our tradition, the focus has been on conformity to authorized liturgies rather than to confessional definitions. (And even on liturgics, we've allowed a broad range of practice.)

So, IF John Spong and Michael Ingham are heretics, what should be done about it?

If you are on the Anglican Hard Right, it seems, then Spong and Ingham should be slandered in books, articles and blogs and generally used as a whipping boy to discredit North American Anglicanism in the eyes of credulous conservatives in England, Africa and elsewhere.

Certainly the last thing the Anglican Hard Right would ever want would be for either of their convenient bogeymen have to answer the wildest accusations laid against them.

Over the past 30 years or more (Spong became a bishop in 1976, Ingham in 1994), the irreconcilable right wing have had it in their capacity to initiate charges of heresy against Spong and Ingham (and anyone else they didn't like) in the respective canonical processes of the American and Canadian Churches. Yet they did not.

The reason isn't hard to fathom.

A heresy trial was a lose-lose proposition for those seeking to destroy the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada.

A heresy trial would have meant that Spong and Ingham would have been able to describe for themselves what the oft-quoted and oft-maligned passages of their books and articles actually were intended to mean - and in many cases this would not have matched the shrieking hysteria the irreconcilables read into them at every opportunity. In essence, A heresy trial would have forced Spong's and Ingham's detractors to be accountable no less than Spong and Ingham.

A heresy trial would inevitably have one of two outcomes. Neither of these outcomes was particularly helpful to the agenda of destruction.

If Spong / Ingham were cleared by the court, the mass of moderate Anglicans would probably have accepted the finding without much more than a shrug. Sure, the bundists would have been able to accuse the entire heirarchy of heresy then - but that wouldn't have seemed very credible beyond their already-angry base. It would have been useful with that small audience, but it would have severely circumscribed their already limited growth potential.

Even worse for the schismatics would have been a finding that Spong or Ingham were guilty, for it would undeniably demonstrate that (after due process) the American and Canadian Churches were more than prepared to deal with heterodox teaching if it were proven (note the word proven) to exist. That would have cut yet another prop out from under the extremists' discredited narrative.

So instead, the schismatics have opted for the easy way out. Slander is more effective than an open process of investigation and judgement. Instead of formally charging Spong, Ingham (or any of the other hundreds of heretics they claim exist), they simply scream "heretic" as often and as loudly as possible.

Quotations - often out of context - are spun with the worst possible interpretation. Isolated incidents are treated as though they reflect the norm. The truth is crucified on the altar of right wing spin.

One of my favourites was the bizarre accusation that the Millennium Development Goals had replaced Jesus at the centre of Episcopal worship. The "evidence" was a picture which showed a celebration of the Eucharist in a hotel meeting room, clearly at the end of a synod or other Church meeting. An MDG poster happened to be on the wall behind the celebrant - and had probably been hanging on that same wall for a couple of days.

This is a technique the religious right has learned from the secular right. This is the false gospel of Karl Rove. The Good News of Jesus Christ is set aside for tea-bagging and swiftboating. And the sensible policy of Elizabeth I is replaced with ecclesiastical McCarthyism.

Here's Eddie Izzard on religious extremism - and how Inquisitions are alien to Anglicanism. (Language Warning)

Bishops of Southern Africa on Uganda's Judicial Murder of Gays Bill

The Bishops of the Anglican Church in Southern Africa have spoken the gospel with a clarity that still eludes Archbishop Orombi and his cohorts in Uganda.

It isn't very long, so I'll post it in it's entirety, highlighting the pieces I believe are particularly significant.

We, the Bishops of the Anglican Church in Southern Africa, meeting at Thokoza Conference Centre, Swaziland, from 8 to 11 February 2010, are disturbed by the debate among Ugandan law-makers of a draft bill that seek to criminalize homosexuality and to prosecute gay people. It even proposes imposing the death penalty, which we regard as a breach of God’s commandment, “You shall not murder,” given in Exodus 20:13. We also deplore the statement, attributed to our fellow Bishop, describing those who are opposed to this legislation as “lovers of evil”. Though there are a breadth of theological views among us on matters of human sexuality, we see this Bill as a gross violation of human rights and we therefore strongly condemn such attitudes and behaviour towards other human beings. We emphasize the teachings of the Scriptures that all human beings are created in the image of God and therefore must be treated with respect and accorded human dignity.

We are therefore also deeply concerned about the violent language used against the gay community across Sub-Saharan Africa. We thus appeal to law-makers to defend the rights of these minorities. As Bishops we believe that it is immoral to permit or support oppression of, or discrimination against, people on the grounds of their sexual orientation, and contrary to the teaching of the gospel; particularly Jesus’ command that we should love one another as he has loved us, without distinction (John 13:34-35). We commit ourselves to teach, preach and act against any laws that undermine human dignity and oppress any and all minorities, even as we call for Christians and all people to uphold the standards of holiness of life.

We call on all Christians to stand up against this Bill so that its provisions do not become law in Uganda or anywhere else in the world. We also call on our President and law-makers to engage in dialogue with their counterparts on the rights of minorities.

How the right deals with losing an argument

They have a few different ways of dealing with it, of course.

* As we've seen with the recent CofE General Synod motion (in which the ACNA position was decisively trounced three times running), they simply make stuff up.

* As we frequently see on some of the more rancid extremist sites, they simply delete any comments from posters who don't agree with them.

* This is a new one for me. They allow a discussion to continue. Then, when they have to completely redefine their terms in order to look something less than foolish, they let all their troops get in one final bash (along with a few slanderous allegations) and then they post the following:

"I’m going to close comments on this thread. After 214 comments, we are just going round and round in circles. This one is done."

I swear, they may not worship Karl Rove, but they look to him as an example of the "Christian" life.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Another lie from the Anglican Right

Archbishop of ACNA Bob Duncan:

"They have basically said they favor overlapping provinces here."

Actually, Bob. No, they didn't.

What they have said is that you and your gang are not currently part of the Anglican Communion and they thrice defeated attempts either to say you were or to put you on the fast track.

Bob, it is unseemly for a bishop to lie.

Please stop.

SOMEBODY on the Anglican Right is lying

Lorna Ashworth:

"I wish to emphasize that the genesis of this motion lies entirely with myself in discussion with a handful of friends who are members of this Synod. Neither I nor others have been asked to bring this motion by representatives of ACNA."

Michael Howell:

"As one of the ACNA representatives and as someone who worked on strategy with Lorna Ashworth . . ."

Saturday, February 13, 2010

"Just a flesh wound"

The vote has come and gone on the resolution presented to the Church of England General Synod regarding the status of quasi-Anglican scismatics in North America. You will recall that the motion by Lorna Ashworth was accompanied by a background paper which was as honest as the average Liberal Party campaign pledge.

Ms Ashworth's original motion read as follows:

“That this Synod express the desire that the Church of England be in communion with the Anglican Church in North America”.

The bishops introduced an amendment which gutted Ms Ashworth's motion and replaced it with something which, if imperfect, at least stopped short of condoning theft.

Leave out everything after "That this Synod" and insert:

"(a) recognise and affirm the desire of those who have formed the Anglican Church in North America to remain within the Anglican family;

(b) acknowledge that this aspiration, in respect both of relations with the Church of England and membership of the Anglican Communion, raises issues which the relevant authorities of each need to explore further; and

(c) invite the Archbishops to report further to the Synod in 2011."

That was the version of the motion that eventually passed.

Now, even though the amendment guts the pro-ACNA position, most of the Anglican Far Right have been crowing about their glorious victory. Supposedly the resolution (according to them) grants recognition to ACNA as part of the Anglican Communion and affirms them in their acts of schism and theft.

Well, not all the Anglican Far Right. In a stunning example of how a stopped clock can be correct twice a day, Über-Reactionary Matt Kennedy of Stand Firm actually gets it right. (By policy, do not link to extremist websites, so here is the essential part of his post on this issue.)

1. The motion does not "affirm" the ACNA.

2. The motion does not "affirm" that the ACNA is part of the Anglican Communion.

3. The motion "affirms" a "desire" . Translation: Ohhh, how sweet that you want to be my boyfriend. I "affirm" your desire.

4. The motion does not refer to the ACNA as a whole but to the desire of "those who formed" the ACNA.

5. The motion does not affirm the desire of "those who formed the ACNA" to remain in "the Anglican Communion", but rather, it affirms their desire to remain a part of the Anglican "family". Arguably, anyone who prays with a prayerbook and wears a robe of some kind could be considered a member of the "Anglican Family."

Well, Matt is slightly wrong on the final point. Not "Anglican Family," but "Anglican family." There is no suggestion of a recognized and definable body called the Anglican Family of which ACNA is a part.

Matt's also a trifle week on point 2. Not only does the motion not affirm ACNA as part of the Anglican Communion, the principles of law (after all, the CofE General Synod is a legislative body with powers delegated from the UK Parliament) suggest that the amended motion explicitly denies that ACNA has standing in the Anglican Communion.

The lawyer most dear to me has referred me to an exciting little page-turner called Driedger on the Construction of Statutes. I gather it's something of a hot commodity among serious folk at the bar. In referring to the interpretation of statutes of legislative bodies in the Westminster tradition (ie, the UK Parliament, most Commonwealth Parliaments and surely since it is a delegated legislative body, the General Synod of the Church of England) Driedger holds that one must consider the context in interpreting the statute.

Specifically, Driedger argues that, if there is an existing term with a specific meaning and the statute uses a different term, then interpretation of the statute should assume the different use was deliberate and that therefore the statute means something different.

Or, to be plain, if the resolution had meant to affirm ACNA as a part of the Anglican Communion it would have said "the Anglican Communion." Instead, the resolution said "the Anglican family." Now, "the Anglican family" has no defined meaning. It may be something more than, less than or completely other than the Anglican Communion, but it cannot be taken to mean "the Anglican Communion."

Now Elmer Driedger wasn't just any old yahoo. He was a leading authority on statutory interpretation whose book is a standard reference 25 years after his death - routinely cited, for example, in decisions of the Supreme Court of Canada. He was Dean of Law at the University of Ottawa and subsequently Deputy Minister of Justice for Canada. He assisted the Commonwealth Secretariat to establish courses on legislative drafting across the Commmonwealth and he advised the Australian government on the establishment of the Legislative Drafting Institute.

So, while the resolution nicely acknowledges that the founders of ACNA want to be part of the Anglican Communion, it is actually pretty explicit that they are not.

Just to bash home the point a little harder, we now have an excellent little essay by General Synod member Brian Lewis who describes the sequence of events during the debate. According to Brian (whose piece you can read in full at Preludium or Thinking Anglicans), Synod actually said a resounding "no" to ACNA three times over the course of the debate.

Here's how it all went down.

1. Ms Ashworth introduced her motion.

2. Bishop Hill (Bristol) moved the amendment.

3. Synod passed the amendment. (The first "no.")

4. ACNA supporters moved a subamendment to reinsert the original language of the motion as an addition to the motion as it stood.

5. Synod defeated the subamendment. (The second "no.")

6. ACNA supporters introduced another subamendment to recognize the orders of ACNA clergy.

7. Synod defeated the second subamendment. (The third "no.")

In the following video, you can see ACNA Archbisop Bob Duncan in coversation with King Arthur.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

The priest as real person

I don't usually watch the show What Not to Wear. Not my thing, really.

I'm a decent enough dresser myself, and my wife accuses me of treating her like a Barbie doll since I pick out so many outfits for her - most of which work.

But I made it a point to watch Stacey and Clinton work their magic this past Friday evening.

In case anyone doesn't know the show, it works like this:

* Your friends don't like the way you dress.

* Your friends nominate you for the show.

* If selected, WNTW cameras will secretly film you over a two week period as you go about your business.

* Your friends and the producers put together a ruse to "ambush" you.Stacey and Clinton (the hosts) wisk you off to New York, make you watch the embarrassing films taken over the previous two weeks, go through your wardrobe and throw out nearly everything, give you a $5,000 prepaid debit card and send you shopping.

I made it a point to watch this past Friday because the "victim" was a young Episcopal priest from St. Louis MO, the Rev'd Emily Bloemker.

Episcopal News Service has a good story about the entire adventure - including the fact (unfortunately not mentioned on the show) that Emily tithed 10 percent of the $5,000 she'd been given for her new wardrobe. The WNTW staff actually created a special collar for her that attaches to a sport-style bra. Why this was important, I don't know, but several female clergy have been posting to Emily's Facebook page asking how they can get one.

Emily reports feeling somewhat conflicted about participating in the show. Was it shallow for a priest to be involved in something that so clearly emphasized style over substance?

"Part of me felt very conflicted in accepting that much money, especially when I believe in tithing, in giving of our excess to the poor. I was really concerned about what sort of statement this might make to the world about how priests value clothing and money."

Eventually, Emily decided to do the show because it was an opportunity to show that the Episcopal Church in a new light to the mostly unchurched and dechurched WNTW audience.

At this point, there doesn't appear to be any video available on the WNTW website. Check back in a few days - or watch for the reruns.

I think the show did justice to the question of the priest as real person. Good on Emily.

Friday, February 5, 2010

More than 25,000 Canadian men will be diagnosed with treatable prostate cancer this year.

New Democratic Party leader Jack Layton is one of them.

I worked on Jack's first campaign for Toronto City Council. He was a fighter then, and he's a fighter today.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Clouding the issue with facts

Almost every fiction will include some things that are true. For example, The DaVinci Code is fiction, but there IS a city in France called Paris.

A Private Members Motion has been introduced for debate at the Church of England General Synod calling for the CofE to explore the possibility of being in communion with the so-called Anglican Church in North America. Like many PMMs, there is also a background paper by the mover of the motion - an expat Canadian called Lorna Ashworth.

Like The DaVinci Code, Ms Ashworth's paper includes a compelling narrative, including a band of heroes standing up to a powerful institutional oppressor.

The DaVinci Code, however, sticks more closely to the facts.

Canon Alan Perry of the Diocese of Montreal has prepared a rebuttal of Lorna Ashworth's fiction regarding the Anglican Church of Canada. Simon Sarmiento of Thinking Anglicans has prepared a similar rebuttal to Ms Ashworth's libel of the Episcopal Church.

See Thinking Anglicans here and here for further discussion.

The crux of the issue is this: People are free to leave the Anglican Church of Canada if they wish. Similarly, people are allowed to leave the Episcopal Church.

But, as Canon Perry so eloquently puts it:

The consequence of leaving is, well, to leave.

The congregation of St. Bumpkin's in the Bog, Lesser Mudpuddle can't declare themselves to be no longer a part of the Church of England and expect to keep the parish church.

The treasurer of the local Masonic Lodge can't resign from the Masons and expect to keep the bank account.

Only in the deranged dystopia of the far right do they expect that people should get to eat their cake and have it too.

What it comes down to is this: Ms Ashworth is calling on the Church of England (the official religion of most of the United Kingdom) to endorse theft and fraud.

The CofE House of Bishop's have introduced an amendment to Ms Ashworth's motion. Their amendment stops short of actually endorsing theft, but it fails to address the lies which are at the centre of this issue.

In any event, thanks to Canon Perry and to Simon Sarmiento for making the effort to challenge the slanders, libels and lies of the far right. Doubtless the irreconcilables will now complain bitterly about how the issue has been clouded with facts.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The Anglican Communion Institute: Making stuff up, as usual.

Both President Bishop Mouneer Anis and the four (formerly six*) guys with a website who call themselves the Anglican Communion Institute are making reference to the "authority" of the Primates Meeting.

You see, this is the favourite tactic of those behind the hostile takeover of Anglicanism. When the facts don't suit, they make s*** up.

I want to be absolutely clear about this, so I'll type slowly.

T H E . P R I M A T E S . M E E T I N G . H A S . N O . A U T H O R I T Y!!!!

The Primates Meeting was created as a forum for "leisurely thought, prayer and deep consultation."

The only authority the Primates Meeting has is the aggregate moral authority of the individual Primates. Despite the lies of the far right, the Primates Meeting does NOT have any juridical authority.

Of course, the irreconcilables want the Primates Meeting to become a full blown Anglican curia-cum-inquisition.

A profoundly unAnglican ambition.

They make up similar c*** about the supposed authority of the Lambeth Conference, despite the fact that the Lambeth Conferences themselves have repeatedly rejected the idea that Lambeth Conferences should have that kind of authority.

(* The Anglican Communion Institute really is nothing more than a shared website of a handful of apologists for the far right. There used to more of them, but after their treasurer was under police investigation, they denied any connection to him.)

Monday, February 1, 2010

It's worse than that. He's dead, Jim.

I have said long since that the Anglican Covenant was a misbegotten project. If Anglicans can worship together, no Covenant is required. If Anglicans cannot worship together, no Covenant will suffice.

The oldest Anglican provinces outside of England (Scotland, America, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, Wales) will not accept a Covenant which places their several Churches under the juridical authority of foreign prelates. The oldest province (England) is legally barred from so doing. But the irreconcilables (Uganda, Nigeria, Kenya, Rwanda, Southern Cone) will settle for nothing less that all authority delivered into the hands of the Primates Meeting - and even then, only after Katharine Jefferts Schori and Fred Hiltz (and possibly David Chillingworth, Alan Harper and Barry Morgan to boot) are tossed out of the room.

Either way, the Covenant is a dead letter since it will either lack the support of those provinces with the largest claimed memberships (well, Nigeria, Uganda and Kenya anyway - the Southern Cone has a total membership on par with a smaller Canadian diocese) or the provinces which finance the Comunion's activities and governance.

Yesterday, it was a blow from the far right, as the Bishop of Egypt with North Africa and the Horn of Africa and President Bishop of the Province of Jerusalem and the Middle East, Mouneer Anis (all that title is, yes, just one guy) decided to take his marbles and depart from the body recently renamed the Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion. And he's resigning because the Standing Committee won't expel the Episcopal Church from the Anglican Communion.

Oh boo freakin' hoo.

This is the same Mouneer Anis who claimed that any province which has not signed on to the Covenant by the end of 2011 should be expelled from all international Anglican bodies. Now, it is possible President Bishop Mouneer is a fool who doesn't grasp that most Anglican provinces are not governed by the arbitrary fiat of Prince Bishops and therefore the process of accepting - or rejecting - the Covenant may take more than 20 minutes. The Church of England, for example, has said that adoption of the Covenant is not possible in the timeframe President Bishop Mouneer demands. The Episcopal Church, having concluded its triennial general convention just before the "final" draft of the Covenant was released, cannot possibly make any decision prior to late 2012.

It's possible that President Bishop Mouneer is a fool. And I think that's more charitable than the other possible interpretation - that he is a disingenuous, dishonest and manipulative.

With his discredited project assailed from left, right and the moderate centre, Archbishop Rowan will continue his misguided quest.

Or he can console himself with this.

"It's worse than that. He's dead, Jim."
- Leonard "Bones" McCoy