Sunday, September 18, 2011

Jesus? You've GOT to be kidding!

My friend Lesley Crawley (formerly Lesley Fellows) has a provocative post at her blog that speculates on how Jesus would do if he were to be put though the selection process for ordination.
He is just too challenging. Yes, he got all those followers but then lost them again… the miracles were good but the teaching was too hard and inscrutable…. Plus he didn’t get on with his religious colleagues etc.
While What Would Jesus Do? has become a bit of a cliché in some circles, perhaps a better question would be How Would We Respond To Jesus? 

Much of modern piety - especially on the religious right - has turned Jesus into a grand irrelevance.  Yes, yes, follow him by all means - but pay no mind to that silly stuff in Matthew 25 about giving food to the hungry or visiting the prisoner.  The Gospel is about your personal prosperity.

As Lesley says in her close:
I feel I wish to make more space for Jesus in the church. I wonder whether we all do.

Sunday, September 11, 2011


From my online friend Tobias Haller, a poem he wrote in 2008:

September Midday Mass

The tall old priest entered the half-lit sacristy,
fresh from his usual Tuesday morning studies.
The fair-haired acolyte with the bad complexion
was ready, vested, standing in the dimness quietly.
The old priest noticed he was sniffing
and his eyes were red. A failed romance,
he thought; but keeping his own rule on chit-chat
in the sacristy, vested silently.
The old familiar motions and the prayers
displaced whatever thoughts he might have had;
the only dialogue to break the stillness was
the rote exchange of formal preparation.

Then, in one motion as he slipped his hand
beneath the pale green veil, the other hand
upon the burse, he lifted vested vessels,
turned and followed in the sniffing server’s
wake. Eyes lowered to the holy burden
in his hand, he failed to notice that
the chapel for this midday feria —
on other days like this with one or two
at most — was full of worshippers; until
he raised his eyes, and saw the pews were filled —
but undeterred began the liturgy:
the lessons and the gospel from last Sunday,
his sermon brief, but pointed, on the texts.

It wasn’t till the acolyte began
the people’s prayers, and choked out words of planes
that brought a city’s towers down, and crashed
into the Pentagon, and plowed a field
in Pennsylvania, that the old priest knew
this was no ordinary Tuesday in September —
not ordinary time at all,
that day he missed the towers’ fall.

Unfortunately, few will take the time to remember that other September 11 - September 11, 1973, when the Chilean military, with the backing of the CIA, overthrew the democratically elected government of the oldest constitutional democracy in Latin America.

Perhaps as we consider both catastrophes, we would do well to ponder this:

Monday, September 5, 2011

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Anglican Covenant Developments

First off, the good news.

Two New Zealand dioceses, Aukland and Waiapu, have rejected the so-called Anglican Covenant. Both dioceses passed motions explicitly rejecting the Covenant (which is a stronger action than merely defeating a pro-Covenant resolution).

The Waiapu resolution, while affirming the desire to remain a part of the Anglican Communion, goes on to say that:

We do not believe that the proposed Anglican Communion Covenant will enhance the life of the Communion and request that the General Synod / Te Hinota Whanui declines to sign the Covenant.

The Aukland resolution is even stronger, expressly stating that:

Clause 4.2 of the proposed Covenant contains provisions which are contrary to our understanding of Anglican ecclesiology, to our understanding of the way of Christ, and to justice, and is unacceptable to this Synod.

To date, two Maori dioceses and two Paheka dioceses have rejected the proposed Covenant. I believe that is every New Zealand diocese that has considered the Covenant to date. Along with a defeat in the Diocese of Wakefeild synod and the statement from the Philippines House of Bishops that efectively ensures the Covenant's defeat in that Province, it seems the No Anglican Covenant Coalition is actually having some success.

A few days earlier, the Coalition issued a statement decrying the superficial background material on the Covenant issued by the Diocese of Oxford. While tritely acknowledging that those who oppose the Covenant oppose the Covenant while those who support it support it (seriously), the paper by Canon John Rees sticks to the Lambeth Palace / Anglican Communion Office babbling points that the Covenant will never really affect anything, but the entire Communion will collapse in a heap if it isn't passed. Oddly, some English folk have already noticed the inherent contradiction of something being simultaneously insignificant and vital.

Finally, in a move that will strike some as counterintutive, the No Anglican Covenant Coalition has posted a list of pro-Covenant articles from The Living Church. While Coalition members are by no means persuaded by the arguments, the authors of these articles are doing a service by mking a coherent case for the proposed Covenant, while doing Covenant critics the courtesy of taking our concerns seriously.

This contrasts well with the babbling points (they are too juvenile to be called talking points) from Lambeth and the Anglican Communion Office which are a disgraceful amalgam of disingenuous contradiction (the Covenant won't affect anything but is vital to the survival of the Communion), slander (anyone wo questions the Covenant either hasn't read it or is a fascist) and emotional blackmail (if you don't support the Covenant, you are being disloyal to poor Rowan.)