Thursday, December 30, 2004

Responding to disaster

This report from Episcopal News Service shows some of the strengths of the Episcopal Church, in it's quick response to the earthquake and tsunami of Dec. 26. This morning, there are warnings that there may be more tsunamis on the way, and the death toll is already expected to pass 100,000.

This report also gives us glimpses of how people who are posted in churches and dioceses in South Asia are responding to the disaster.

Bulletin: Tsunami aid begins through Episcopal Relief & Development

ENS 122804-1
Tuesday, December 28, 2004
[Episcopal News Service] With numbers of dead and homeless rising across southern Asia in the wake of December 26th's unprecedented Indian Ocean tsunami, Episcopal Relief and Development has begun emergency response efforts and welcomes financial contributions to aid these initiatives.

ERD representatives request that contributions be directed to Episcopal Relief and Development, South Asia Relief Fund, P.O. Box 12043, Newark, NJ 07101. Contributions may also be forwarded on-line ( ).

Devastation is reported worst in Sri Lanka, Thailand, and India among other southern Asian countries.

The retired Anglican bishop of Colombo, Sri Lanka, the Rt. Rev. Kenneth Fernando, was the first to reach the Episcopal News Service with comment by electronic mail December 27: "We have received many inquiries about the situation in Sri Lanka after the disaster. It has been a very heavy disaster. Most of those affected are the poor who live in little shanties by the sea. They have lost everything.

"Our churches are being used as temporary camps and the government, and NGO's (non-governmental organizations) are beginning to function.

"Since we live near a lake only a few miles from the sea, we had a few anxious moments as I thought the water level of the lake would rise. But there has been no change at all."

Fernando -- who is well known for building Buddhist-Christian-Muslim dialogue and has served the Anglican Communion as head of its NIFCON effort to build interfaith dialogue with the use of technology among other strategies -- said that various relief agencies, including OXFAM and the World Council of Churches, had begun helping Sri Lanka. 

"Many thanks for your concern for us," he added. "We are hoping there will be no after shocks, The people are very frightened."

Meanwhile, from the Church of South India, Bishop Thomas Samuel of the Diocese of Madhya Kerala, sent the following message to Oregon Bishop Johncy Itty:

"It is with deep distress and immense grief that I share with you the terrible tragedy that has hit the coastal regions of Tamil-Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and Sri Lanka. The magnitude of the disaster is difficult to comprehend mainly becasuse of its unexpected nature and also because of lack of exact statistics. The figure of the death toll in South India has gone up to 15,000. This tragedy has suddenly made us not only challenged into rising up to the situation but also made us realize our insufficiency and vulnerability.

"The worst-hit Alappuzha and Kollam are in Madhya Kerala Diocese where thousands were rendered homeless and many were reported missing. Many in these areas  were caught and crushed and washed away before they even knew what was happening. There is no electricity and borewells put for drinking water supply were also destroyed. This is the worst national disaster in recent history because it is affecting so many heavily populated coastal areas. We could have epidemics within a few days unless we get health systems up and runing.

"Our diocesan pastors and leaders have rushed to the disaster areas with food, clothing, medicine etc. Our focus is on supply of drinking water, food and clothing. Sanitation is a big problem. Many camps have been set up to accommodate thousands of homeless people.

"We would greatly appreciate if you would kindly extend your generous support to the relief work. Please do remember us in your prayers."

Also in Tamil-Nadu, Bishop V. Devasahayam of India's Diocese of Chennai, a port center, concurred in a phone interview reported to ERD that the worst damage was in Tamil-Nadu, south of Madras. He said among the hardest hit were fisher-folk, many of whom were fishing at the time of the tsunami. Some 2,000 power boats and 20,000 catamarans were lost, he said.  Many of the islands have been washed out. The bishop said his diocese has set up relief stations in many of the churches. He said the local cathedral complex survived as did many of the churches, including St. Mary's by-the-Sea.
-- From Staff Reports


In other news, I see St. Nicholas visited Canterbury Palace Christmas Day. Despite dire predictions from the conservative wings of the church, he did not leave lumps of coal in Archbishop Rowan Williams' Christmas stocking. In fact, he seemed rather chummy with the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Way to go, ABC!  

Sunday, December 26, 2004

Alleluia! He is here

I heard Martha Butler's song "Alleluia, He Is Coming" performed at church several times during Advent. It's one of those songs that can bring tears to my eyes. It's full of longing for Christ, longing for the presence of God, God that we can know, God who became human.

I looked up and I saw my Lord a-coming
I looked up and I saw my Lord a-coming
down the road
Alleluia He is coming, alleluia He is here
Alleluia He is coming, alleluia He is here

You see, God is too big for my mind to begin to comprehend. But Jesus puts a human face on God, and I can relate to this. God is real in a tangible, touchable way, through Jesus Christ.

I can visualize Jesus. I hold a perfect image of him in my mind's eye: He has a long, ovular face; his cheekbones and nose are a bit sharp. He has large, liquid, chocolate-brown eyes, from which his compassion radiates. He has brown skin and wavy, chestnut-colored hair.

I can even see the hairs on his shins.

This is God we can know, God who walks among us and speaks to us. God who teaches his disciples.

In reading the prophets, we get a picture of a Messiah who is not a handsome man. Yet he is able to draw thousands to him. They follow him out into the countryside and out onto the hillsides. Jesus is truly the charismatic man, full of healing, and that compassion that spills out of him like a river flooding its bank. It is too much to contain within him.

Those who are spiritually attuned sense it and follow him. Those who are spiritually dead or asleep don't feel it.

I can almost imagine what it is like to feel his hands touch me as he prays healing for me. I can imagine the warmth of those hands, his human flesh.

I can love him, passionately. I can grieve him. I can repent of my human pride, greed, envy, all the sins that wrenched him pitilessly from this life:

I looked up and I saw my Lord a-dying
I looked up and I saw my Lord a-dying on a tree

Yet, I think it wasn't just to proclaim his reality to us or even to die for love of us that the word became flesh.

It is one thing to know, another thing to experience. I wonder that, even with the might of the universe at his command, even creating us, forming us in our mothers' wombs and knowing us, God had not experienced being human.

Can even God fully know something without experiencing it?

The Bible said he came to dwell among us, literally, to pitch his tent among us.

A tent is a frail and vulnerable thing. It is not meant to be permanent. It is a temporary habitation, for it cannot long withstand the elements. One good storm, and it's gone.

The Word made flesh was subject to the weakness, the frailty, the vulnerability of human beings. He experienced temptation. God became a God at the mercy of the world around him, instead of in divine control. God experienced this.

So, the New Covenant is a covenant of mercy and grace. He showers grace upon us, for he knows, in a new way, that, try as we might, we cannot do it. The world is too much for us spiritual infants. We cannot make ourselves deserving of God's favor.

His love is now even more full of compassion and tenderness. He knows our humanity. He knows what it is to fear the future, to be ravaged by disease, to suffer loss and grieve. To hurt and to be hurt. He has pitched His tent in the middle of it. He has put His flesh-and-blood hands on it.

Oh, little newborn baby Jesus. So weak. So helpless. So tender, held in your mother's arms. So full of promise.

Alleluia, he is here!

I'll look up and I'm gonna see my Lord a-coming
I'll look up and I'm gonna see my Lord a-coming
in the clouds

He will return for us.

Monday, December 20, 2004

Don't even bother to ask

Culled from AP and Reuters today, regarding Preznit's big press conference before he goes off to the ranch for a nice Christmas vacation. Guess he has to escape from the war and all. Too bad our troops and the Iraqis can't.

I felt ill and angry after reading his statements. It amazes me how the press seems to let these statements by, unchallenged.

I added bolding/emphasis to particularly notable statements. I also added my own commentary.

"Don't bother to ask me," Bush told reporters at a year-end news conference when pressed for the specifics of his plan to overhaul Social Security to allow personal investment accounts similar to a 401(k).

Bush made clear he would not engage in a public debate about how to shore up Social Security's $3.7 trillion, 75-year shortfall until he gives Congress "a solution at the appropriate time." The administration has said a plan is still being crafted.

Yeah, just fahgittabouddit. We peons whose money funded Social Security and whose futures are tied to it don't need to know anything. The shrub has no accountability to the citizens of this country. He'll tell us what he's going to do with the remains of our future when he's good and ready.

Concluding his remarks on the budget came the following:

"The temptation is going to be ... to get me to negotiate with myself in public. To say, you know, 'What's this mean, Mr. President? What's that mean?' I'm not going to do that," Bush said. "The law will be written in the halls of Congress. And I will negotiate with them, with the members of Congress."

What?? What is this -- some new level of schizodom? Does Bushy need his meds? His megalomaniacal tendencies are showing, too.

President Bush defended Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's handling of the Iraq war on Monday and said training Iraqi police and army to take over responsibility for the country's security from U.S. troops has been difficult...

Several Republican lawmakers have expressed doubts about Rumsfeld's performance and many Democrats want him fired, but Bush rejected such criticism.

"I believe he's doing a really fine job," Bush said.

"Sometimes, perhaps his demeanor is rough and gruff. But below that rough and gruff, no-nonsense demeanor is a good human being who cares deeply about the military and deeply about the grief that war causes," Bush said.

Rumsfeld did not sign condolence letters to the families of U.S. troops killed in Iraq, having them machine-signed, instead. Bush's aides said personally signs condolence letters he sends to the bereaved.

On relations with Russia, Bush said he would not let policy differences undercut close relations with President Vladimir Putin, despite the Russian's recent moves seen by critics as potentially damaging to democracy. They plan to meet Feb. 24 in Slovakia as part of a Bush Europe tour, a U.S. official said.

"As you know, Vladimir Putin and I have got a good personal relationship. ... I intend to keep it that way," Bush said. "Obviously we have some disagreements. ... But this is a vital and important relationship."

Isn't it heartwarming to see how the fascistatolitarian boys stick together? All for one and one for all! Maybe Bushy should let Saddam out of the slammer so he can hang with Bush and the boys.

Bushy did stoop to admit that things are going all that great in the War on Iraq:

Bush is often accused of sugarcoating the Iraq situation, but at his 17th solo news conference he talked at length about the difficulties facing the country as it prepares for Jan. 30 elections that the insurgents are trying to derail.

"These people are targeting innocent Iraqis. They're trying to shake the will of the Iraqi people and, frankly, trying to shake the will of the American people. And car bombs that destroy young children or car bombs that indiscriminately bomb in religious sites are effective propaganda tools," he said.

Car bombers struck the Shi'ite holy cities of Najaf and Karbala on Sunday, killing 66 people.

Bush said "life is better now than it was under Saddam Hussein" in the year since Saddam was captured but that "it's important for the American people to understand" that the Jan. 30 elections are only the start of a political process that will see a constitutional government elected in a year.

Who did they survey to determine life is better now? The upper echelons of the Defense Department?

Ain't it strange how the prez allows "policy difference" in some parts of the world and not others?

The President acknowledged the central U.S. goal of training Iraqi police and army so U.S. troops can leave has had mixed results.

"There have been some cases where, when the heat got on, they left the battlefield. That's unacceptable," Bush said.

You mean those Iraqis won't stand up and be shot to please the White House and Rummy?

He would not give a timetable on when U.S. troops might return home but said top U.S. generals are "optimistic and positive about the gains we're making."

Yeah, yeah. I wonder which top generals?

Oh, don't even bother to ask.

Addendum 12-21-04: Sigh. This is the 'moral prez, keeping those Christian values.' Oh, yeah. I can hear the snickering wafting up from the bowels of hell.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Solstice, Christmas and Yule celebration

I was assigned to write an "event" story for the paper, and since there wasn't much of anything going on that hadn't already been covered, I wrote one on the winter solstice, which turned out to be fascinating, at least for me, who knew just the basic fact, that it's the longest night of the year.

The winter solstice will arrive at 7:42 a.m. Tuesday, Dec. 21, marking the beginning of winter. It's the day of the year with the shortest amount of daylight between sunrise and sunset -- the longest night of the year.

In these parts, the sun will rise at 7:14 a.m. and set at 5:31 p.m. on Dec. 21, according to the U.S. Naval Observatory. You can go to their Applications Department, plug in your geographic coordinates, and get the exact time in your neck of the woods.

The winter solstice occurs when the earth tilts in its rotation so the northern hemisphere is farthest away from the sun's light and warmth. South of the equator, the seasons are reversed, and the summer solstice is celebrated on Dec. 21.

Solstice means "sun stands still," as the sun appears to slow down, then hover at the same, unchanging elevation in the sky from day to day, as the solstice approaches.

According to the Naval Observatory, the "season" of the winter solstice actually began Dec. 7, with the year's earliest sunset occurring on that day, at 5:27 p.m. locally. Because the time of sunrise is still moving later in the morning, the latest sunrise won't occur until January 5.

The Naval Observatory site waxed eloquent over the season, saying, "The longest nights of the season are populated by a beautiful collection of bright stars which can now be seen rising majestically in the east in the late evening. The distinctive figure of Orion, with his three prominent 'belt' stars, leads a parade of bright constellations over the eastern horizon. Nine of the sky's 25 brightest stars lie in the vicinity of Orion, and this year a tenth interloper brings up the rear guard."

The astronomical meaning of the solstice is only part of the story.

Celebrations of the winter solstice began in prehistory, and traditions from pre-Christian Germanic and Scandinavian observances remain with us today.

Imagine a Northern European, thousands of years ago, watching the nights becoming longer and feeling the days turning colder, as the sun appeared to move farther and farther away in the sky. It seemed as though the sun would finally disappear -- go away forever.

Finally, the sun reached it most distant point. Daylight pierced the darkness for mere hours, if at all. Then came the return of the light, with longer days and shorter nights, promising spring and the rebirth of life, despite the winter months to come.

A feast marked this turning point. It was called "Yule," from the Norse Yul, meaning "wheel," when the the wheel of the year was at its lowest point. Current customs, such as serving ham, came from the Yule feast, when it was customary to serve a roasted, wild boar. "Yule" also means "Christmas" in Scandanavian countries.

Other traditions persist.

Evergreen trees and shrubs, symbolizing rebirth and life amid the winter whiteness, were prized. The prickly holly was particularly sought to decorate openings to the home -- doors, windows and fireplaces -- to ward off or snag and capture evil spirits.

Gift-giving was important, and often meant survival. Gifts were usually food items given by those who still had stored-up food to those friends and family who were running short. The Yule feast ensured that everyone had something to eat, as well. Later, gift-giving incorporated other sorts of items.

Mistletoe, also called the golden bough or Allheal, was prized by the ancient Celts and Norsemen for its healing properties. It was also the plant of peace in Scandinavian antiquity, and if enemies should meet by chance beneath it in a forest, they laid down their arms in truce until the next day. Kissing under the mistletoe was popularized in England.

So how did all these pre-Christian, Northern European customs become part of the Christian celebration of Christmas?

First, note the time Christmas is celebrated -- Dec. 25 -- right around the time of the winter solstice, though the Bible gives no date for the birth of Christ.

Dec. 25 was marked as the "Victory of the Sun-God" festival in the pagan Babylonian world, and as a celebration of the Festival of Saturn (Saturnalia), or winter solstice, in the ancient Roman Empire. The ancients believed that the sun god rose from the dead three days after his death, which would have occurred on the solstice, as the newborn and venerable sun.

In the fourth century, under the Emperor Constantine, who wanted to convert these pagans to Christianity as part of his Holy Roman Empire, Pope Julius 1 decreed Dec. 25 as the celebration of Christ's birth. Converting the holiday to a Christian one was reckoned a good way to convert the people to Christianity. It was an easy fit, with Christ a "son-god" who rose from the dead after three days. Like the Northern Europeans, the Romans also used evergreens in their rituals.

When the Germanic and Scandivanian people were introduced to Christianity, their symbols of life, death, rebirth and eternal life came with them into the Christian tradition, and evergreen wreaths, Christmas trees, holly, gift-giving and Yule logs are part of most European and North American Christmas celebrations.

The Puritans objected to the "Christianization" of a pagan celebration and its traditions, such as Christmas trees and reveling, which they considered not Christian at all. They managed to outlaw the celebration of Christmas for a few years in England and its New World colonies in the late 17th century. Some groups, such as Jehovah's Witnesses, still do not celebrate Christmas.

But, Yule-log lighting ceremonies celebrate the season in many places, ironically, including a local university with a "Christian" history, held Dec. 7, the beginning of the winter solstice season.

The lighting of the Yule log brings light into the dark of the long, winter night, which has meaning in both Christian and pagan traditions.

"It's a symbol of light and life," said the university president, in his welcoming remarks, adding that the ceremony brings together people of different faiths.

Christ was the light and life who came into the world, defeating the darkness. It is meaningful to me that so many religious traditions have the same thrust, of light, life, promise and rebirth after death.

Celebrants gathered around the burning Yule log, and after singing Christmas carols, threw holly sprigs, representing the sins of the past year, into the fire, combining these traditions.

Hot chocolate and pastries replaced the festival dinner of wild boar.

One of the university professors, explaining the Yule log tradition, said, "We link ourselves to generations and generations who came before us to beat back the night."

The circle of another year, the earth's complete rotation around the sun, and the tilting of the earth on its axis to bring the longest night, is complete again. It's Christmas time once more.

Christ, the light of the world, is coming. He will come again.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

The heir to Christianity

One point I want to clarify as far as my own thinking on the previous post ("Something evil this way comes"):

The "legitimate heir to Christianity" is Christianity, and doing the work of the Kingdom instead of using an ersatz version of it to control people and maintain/build political power, which is what I see going on in the fundamentalist shift in the churches.

It's heartbreaking to hear people in the Episcopal Church sound like Jerry Falwell or Pat Robertson. It's the worst kind of Phariseeism. And it is directly connected to the rise of fascism.

Christ's message was rich in love, in social justice, in helping those who are unable to help themselves. Christ came to set us free from the captivity of legalistic, judgmental, harsh and controlling philosophies.

Jesus said each one of us is so important to God that God knows the number of hairs on our heads. That's opposite to the fascist philosophy that we're important only in what the state/ruling oligarchy-theocracy can get out of us.

I believe in Christ and that he is who he said he is.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Something evil this way comes

I've posted about fascism and it's warning signs before. Here's an updated version of the 12 Warning Signs of Fascism. Note that we're up to No. 14 now in this country.

The latest evidence? The refusal of CBS and NBC to run a United Church of Christ ad. The ad promised to embrace and welcome all, regardless of sexual orientation, etc. "Jesus didn't turn people away, and neither do we" the ad states, as the camera shows a couple of burly-looking men guarding the doors to a church to keep out the undesirable elements. The ad was deemed too "controversial" and might offend some fundie churches.

Might offend the shrub and others who are all for one man and one woman and no gays in marriage. Can't go crossing the Executive Branch, now. Especially don't want to annoy Pat Robertson.

Might upset Jerry Falwell or somebody in one of those red states.

Oh, dear. The networks are worried about delicate sensibilities???? The networks who gave us programming like "Fear Factor" and "Survivor?"

When did loving your neighbor become controversial?

This is censorship, pure and simple.

Note items 6 and 8, particularly in this light. But read, mark and inwardly digest all of it very carefully.

The author is a UU minister.

Living Under Fascism
by Davidson Loehr
You may wonder why anyone would try to use the word"fascism" in a serious discussion of where America is today. It sounds like cheap name-calling, or melodramatic allusion to a slew of old war movies.

But I am serious. I don't mean it as name-calling at all. I mean to persuade you that the style of governing into which America has slid is most accurately described as fascism, and that the necessary implications of this fact are rightly regarded as terrifying. That's what I am about here. And even if I don't persuade you, I hope to raise the level of your thinking about who and where we are now, to add some nuance and perhaps some useful insights.

The word comes from the Latin word "Fasces," denoting a bundle of sticks tied together. The individual sticks represented citizens, and the bundle represented the state. The message of this metaphor was that it was the bundle that was significant, not the individual sticks. If it sounds un-American, it's worth knowing that the Roman Fasces appear on the wall behind the Speaker's podium in the chamber of the US House of Representatives.

Still, it's an unlikely word. When most people hear the word "fascism" they may think of the racism and anti-Semitism of Mussolini and Hitler. It is true that the use of force and the scapegoating of fringe groups are part of every fascism. But there was also an economic dimension of fascism, known in Europe during the 1920s and '30s as "corporatism," which was an essential ingredient of Mussolini's and Hitler's tyrannies. So-called corporatism was adopted in Italy and Germany during the 1930s and was held up as a model by quite a few intellectuals and policy makers in the United States and Europe.

As I mentioned a few weeks ago (in "The Corporation Will Eat Your Soul"), Fortune magazine ran a cover story on Mussolini in 1934, praising his fascism for its ability to break worker unions, disempower workers and transfer huge sums of money to those who controlled the money rather than those who earned it. Few Americans are aware of or can recall how so many Americans and Europeans viewed economic fascism as the wave of the future during the 1930s.

Yet reviewing our past may help shed light on our present, and point theway to a better future. So I want to begin by looking back to the last time fascism posed a serious threat to America.

In Sinclair Lewis's 1935 novel It Can't Happen Here, a conservative southern politician is helped to the presidency by a nationally syndicated radio talk show host. The politician - Buzz Windrip - runs his campaign on family values, the flag, and patriotism.

Windrip and the talk show host portray advocates of traditional American democracy - those concerned with individual rights and freedoms - as anti-American. That was 69 years ago.

One of the most outspoken American fascists from the 1930s was economist Lawrence Dennis. In his 1936 book, The Coming American Fascism - a coming which he anticipated and cheered - Dennis declared that defenders of "18th-century Americanism" were sure to
become "the laughing stock of their own countrymen." The big stumbling block to the development of economic fascism, Dennis bemoaned, was "liberal norms of law or constitutional guarantees of private rights."

So it is important for us to recognize that, as an economic system, fascism was widely accepted in the 1920s and '30s, and nearly worshiped by some powerful American industrialists. And fascism has always, and explicitly, been opposed to liberalism of all kinds.

Mussolini, who helped create modern fascism, viewed liberal ideas as the enemy. "The Fascist conception of life," he wrote, "stresses the importance of the State and accepts the individual only in so far as his interests coincide with the State. It is opposed to classical liberalism [which] denied the State in the name of the individual; Fascism reasserts the rights of the State as expressing the real essence of theindividual."

(In 1932 Mussolini wrote, with the help of Giovanni Gentile, an entry for the Italian Encyclopedia on the definition of fascism. You can read the whole entry at

Mussolini thought it was unnatural for a government to protect individual rights: The essence of fascism, he believed, is that government should be the master, not the servant, of the people.

Still, fascism is a word that is completely foreign to most of us. We need to know what it is, and how we can know it when we see it.

In an essay coyly titled "Fascism Anyone?," Dr. Lawrence Britt, a political scientist, identifies social and political agendas common to fascist regimes. His comparisons of Hitler, Mussolini, Franco, Suharto, and Pinochet yielded this list of 14
"identifying characteristics of fascism." (The following article is from Free Inquiry magazine, Volume 23, Number 2. Read it at

See how familiar they sound.

Fascist regimes tend to make constant use of patriotic mottos, slogans, symbols, songs, and other paraphernalia. Flags are seen everywhere, as are flag symbols on clothing and in public displays.

Because of fear of enemies and the need for security, the people in fascist regimes are persuaded that human rights can be ignored in certain cases because of "need." The people tend to look the other way or even approve of torture, summary executions, assassinations, long incarcerations of prisoners, etc.

The people are rallied into a unifying patriotic frenzy over the need to eliminate a perceived common threat or foe: racial, ethnic or religious minorities; liberals; communists; socialists, terrorists, etc.

Even when there are widespread domestic problems, the military is given a disproportionate amount of government funding, and the domestic agenda is neglected. Soldiers and military service are

The governments of fascist nations tend to be almost exclusively male-dominated. Under fascist regimes, traditional gender roles are made more rigid. Opposition to abortion is high, as is homophobia and anti-gay legislation and national policy.

Sometimes the media are directly controlled by the government, but in other cases, the media are indirectly controlled by government regulation, or sympathetic media spokespeople and executives. Censorship, especially in war time, is very common.

Fear is used as a motivational tool by the government over the masses.

Governments in fascist nations tend to use the most common religion in the nation as a tool to manipulate public opinion. Religious rhetoric and terminology is common from government leaders, even when the major tenets of the religion are diametrically opposed to
the government's policies or actions.

The industrial and business aristocracy of a fascist nation often are the ones who put the government leaders into power, creating a mutually beneficial business/government relationship and power elite.

Because the organizing power of labor is the only real threat to a fascist government, labor unions are either eliminated entirely, or are severely suppressed.

Fascist nations tend to promote and tolerate open hostility to higher education, and academia. It is not uncommon for professors and other academics to be censored or even arrested. Free expression in the arts is openly attacked, and governments often refuse to fund the arts.

Under fascist regimes, the police are given almost limitless power to enforce laws. The people are often willing to overlook police abuses and even forego civil liberties in the name of patriotism. There is often a national police force with virtually unlimited power in fascist nations

Fascist regimes almost always are governed by groups of friends and associates who appoint each other to government positions and use governmental power and authority to protect their friends from accountability. It is not uncommon in fascist regimes for national resources and even treasures to be appropriated or even outright stolen by government leaders.

Sometimes elections in fascist nations are a complete sham. Other times elections are manipulated by smear campaigns against or even assassination of opposition candidates, use of legislation to control voting numbers or political district boundaries, and manipulation of the media. Fascist nations also typically use their judiciaries to manipulate or control elections.

This list will be familiar to students of political science. But it should be familiar to students of religion as well, for much of it mirrors the social and political agenda of religious fundamentalisms worldwide.

It is both accurate and helpful for us to understand fundamentalism as religious fascism, and fascism as political fundamentalism. They both come from very primitive parts of us that have always been the default setting of our species: amity toward our in-group, enmity toward out-groups, hierarchical deference to alpha male figures, a powerful identification with our territory, and so forth.

It is that brutal default setting that all civilizations have tried to raise us above, but it is always a fragile thing, civilization, and has to be achieved over and over and over again.

But, again, this is not America's first encounter with fascism.

In early 1944, the New York Times asked Vice President Henry Wallace to, as Wallace noted, "write a piece answering the following questions: What is a fascist? How many fascists have we? How dangerous are they?"

Vice President Wallace's answer to those questions was published in The New York Times on April 9, 1944, at the height of the war against the Axis powers of Germany and Japan. See how much you think his statements apply to our society today.

"The really dangerous American fascist," Wallace wrote, ". is the man who wants to do in the United States in an American way what Hitler did in Germany in a Prussian way. The American fascist would prefer not to use violence. His method is to poison the channels of public information. With a fascist the problem is never how best to present the truth to the public but how best to use the news to deceive the public into giving the fascist and his group more
money or more power."

In his strongest indictment of the tide of fascism he saw rising in America, Wallace added, "They claim to be super-patriots, but they would destroy every liberty guaranteed by the Constitution. They demand free enterprise, but are the spokesmen for monopoly and vested interest. Their final objective toward which all their deceit is directed is to capture political power so that, using the power of the state and the power of the market simultaneously, they may keep the common man in eternal subjection."

By these standards, a few of today's weapons for keeping the common people in eternal subjection include NAFTA, the World Trade Organization, union-busting, cutting worker benefits while increasing CEO pay, elimination of worker benefits, security and pensions, rapacious credit card interest, and outsourcing of jobs - not to mention the largest prison system in the world.

Our current descent into fascism came about through a kind of "Perfect Storm," a confluence of three unrelated but mutually supportive schools of thought.

1. The first stream of thought was the imperialisticdream of the Project for the New American Century. I don't believe anyone can understand the past four years without reading the Project for the New American Century, published in September 2000 and authored by many who have been prominent players in the Bush administrations, including Cheney, Rumsfleid, Wolfowitz, Richard Perle and Donald Kagan to name only a few. This report saw the fall of Communism as a call for America to become the military rulers of the world, to establish a new worldwide empire. They spelled out the military enhancements we would need, then noted, sadly, that these wonderful plans would take a long time, unless there could be a catastrophic and catalyzing event like a new Pearl Harbor that would let the leaders turn America into a military and militarist country. There was no clear interest in religion in this report, and no clear concern with local economic policies.

2. A second powerful stream must be credited to Pat Robertson and his Christian Reconstructionists, or Dominionists. Long dismissed by most of us as a screwball, the Dominionist style of Christianity which he has been preaching since the early 1980s is now the most powerful religious voice in the Bush administration.

Katherine Yurica, who transcribed over 1300 pages of interviews from Pat Robertson's "700 Club" shows in the 1980s, has shown how Robertson and his chosen guests consistently, openly and passionately argued that America must become a theocracy under the control of Christian Dominionists. Robertson is on record saying democracy is a terrible form of government nless it is run by his kind of Christians. He also rails constantly against taxing the rich, against public education, social programs and welfare - and prefers Deuteronomy 28 over the teachings of Jesus.

He is clear that women must remain homebound as obedient servants of men, and that abortions, like homosexuals, should not be allowed. Robertson has also been clear that other kinds of Christians, including Episcopalians and Presbyterians, are enemies of Christ.
(The Yurica Report. Search under this name, or for "Despoiling America" by Katherine Yurica on the internet.)

3. The third major component of this Perfect Storm has been the desire of very wealthy Americans and corporate CEOs for a plutocracy that will favor profits by the very rich and disempowerment of the vast majority of American workers, the destruction of workers' unions, and the alliance of government to help achieve these greedy goals.

It is a condition some have called socialism for the rich, capitalism for the poor, and which others recognize as a reincarnation of Social Darwinism. This strain of thought has been present throughout American history.

Seventy years ago, they tried to finance a military coup to replace Franlkin Delano Roosevelt and establish General Smedley Butler as a fascist dictator in 1934. Fortunately, the picked a general who really was a patriot; he refused, reported the scheme, and spoke and wrote about it.

As Canadian law professor Joel Bakan wrote in the book and movie "The Corporation," they have now achieved their coup without firing a shot.

Our plutocrats have had no particular interest in religion. Their global interests are with an imperialist empire, and their domestic goals are in undoing all the New Deal reforms of Franklin Delano Roosevelt that enabled the rise of America's middle class after WWII.

Another ill wind in this Perfect Storm is more important than its crudity might suggest: it was President Clinton's sleazy sex with a young but eager intern in the White House. This incident, and Clinton's equally sleazy lying about it, focused the certainties of conservatives on the fact that "liberals" had neither moral compass nor moral concern, and therefore represented a dangerous threat to the moral fiber of America. While the effects of this may be hard to quantify, I think they were profound.

These "storm" components have no necessary connection, and come from different groups of thinkers, many of whom wouldn't even like one another. But together, they form a nearly complete web of command and control, which has finally gained control of America
and, they hope, of the world.

When all fascisms exhibit the same social and political agendas (the 14 points listed by Britt), then it is not hard to predict where a new fascist uprising will lead. And it is not hard. The actions of fascists and the social and political effects of fascism and fundamentalism are clear and sobering.

Here is some of what's coming, what will be happening in our country in the next few years:

a.. The theft of all social security funds, to betransferred to those who control money, and theincreasing destitution of all those dependent on social security and social welfare programs.

b..Rising numbers of uninsured people in this country that already has the highest percentage of citizens without health insurance in the developed world.

c.. Increased loss of funding for public education, combined with increased support for vouchers, urging Americans to entrust their children's education to Christian schools.

d.. More restrictions on civil liberties as America is turned into the police state necessary for fascism to work.
e.. Withdrawal of virtually all funding for National Public Radio and the Public Broadcasting System. At their best, these media sometimes encourage critical questioning, so they are correctly seen as enemies of the state's official stories.

f.. The reinstatement of a draft, from which the children of privileged parents will again be mostly exempt, leaving our poorest children to fight and die in wars of imperialism and greed that could never benefit them anyway. (That was my one-sentence
Veterans' Day sermon for this year.)
g.. More imperialistic invasions: of Iran and others, and the construction of a huge permanent embassy in Iraq.  

h.. More restrictions on speech, under the flag of national security.

i.. Control of the internet to remove or cripple it as
an instrument of free communication that is exempt from government control. This will be presented as a necessary anti-terrorist measure.
j.. Efforts to remove the tax-exempt status of churches like this one, and to characterize them as anti-American.

k.. Tighter control of the editorial bias of almost all media, and demonization of the few media they are unable to control - the New York Times, for instance.

l.. Continued outsourcing of jobs, including more white-collar jobs, to produce greater profits for those who control the money and direct the society, while simultaneously reducing America's workers to a more desperate and powerless status.

m.. Moves in the banking industry to make it impossible for an increasing number of Americans to own their homes. As they did in the 1930s, those who control the money know that it is to their advantage and profit to keep others renting rather than owning.

n.. Criminalization of those who protest, as un-American, with arrests, detentions and harassment increasing. We already have a higher percentage of our citizens in prison than any other country in the world. That percentage will increase.

o.. In the near future, it will be illegal or at least dangerous to say the things I have said here this morning. In the fascist story, these things are un-American. In the real history of a democratic America, they were seen as profoundly patriotic, as the kind of critical questions that kept the American spirit alive - the kind of questions, incidentally, that our media were supposed to be pressing.

Can these schemes work? I don't think so. I think they are murderous, rapacious and insane. But I don't know. Maybe they can. Similar schemes have worked in countries like Chile, where a democracy in which over 90% voted has been reduced to one in which only about 20% vote because they say, as Americans are learning to say, that it no longer matters who you vote for.

In the meantime, is there any hope, or do we just band together like lemmings and dive off a cliff? Yes, there is always hope, though at times it is more hidden, as it is now.

As some critics are now saying, and as I have been preaching and writing for almost twenty years, America's liberals need to grow beyond political liberalism, with its often self-absorbed focus on individual rights to the exclusion of individual responsibilities to the larger society.

Liberals will have to construct a more complete vision with moral and religious grounding. That does not mean confessional Christianity. It means the legitimate heir to Christianity. Such a legitimate heir need not be a religion, though it must have clear moral power, and be able to attract the minds and hearts of a
voting majority of Americans.

And the new liberal vision must be larger than that of the conservative religious vision that will be appointing judges, writing laws and bending the cultural norms toward hatred and exclusion for the foreseeable future. The conservatives deserve a lot of admiration. They have spent the last thirty years studying American politics, forming their vision and learning how to gain control in the political system.

And it worked; they have won. Even if liberals can develop a bigger vision, they still have all that time-consuming work to do. It won't be fast. It isn't even clear that liberals will be willing to do it; they may instead prefer to go down with the ship they're used to.

One man who has been tireless in his investigations and critiques of America's slide into fascism is Michael C. Ruppert, whose postings usually read as though he is wound way too tight. But he offers four pieces of advice about what we can do now, and they
seem reality-based enough to pass on to you. This is America; they're all about money:
a.. First, he says you should get out of debt.
b.. Second is to spend your money and time on things that give you energy and provide you with useful information.
c.. Third is to stop spending a penny with major banks, news media and corporations that feed you lies
d.. And fourth is to learn how money works and use it like a (political) weapon - as he predicts the rest of the world will be doing against us.

That's advice written this week. Another bit of advice comes from sixty years ago, from Roosevelt's Vice President, Henry Wallace. Wallace said, "Democracy, to crush fascism internally, must...develop the ability to keep people fully employed and at the same time balance the budget. It must put human beings first and dollars second. It must appeal to reason and decency and not to violence and deceit. We must not tolerate oppressive government or industrial oligarchy in the form of monopolies and cartels."

Still another way to understand fascism is as a kind of colonization. A simple definition of "colonization" is that it takes people' s stories away, and assigns them supportive roles in stories that empower others at their expense. When you are taxed to support a government that uses you as a means to serve the ends of others, you are - ironically - in a state of taxation without representation. That's where this country started, and it's where we are now.

I don't know the next step. I'm not a political activist; I' m only a preacher. But whatever you do, whatever we do, I hope that we can remember some very basic things that I think of as eternally true.

One is that the vast majority of people are good decent people who mean and do as well as they know how. Very few people are evil, though some are. But we all live in families where some of our blood relatives support things we hate. I believe they mean well, and the way to rebuild broken bridges is through greater understanding, compassion, and a reality-based story that is more inclusive and empowering for the vast majority of us.

Those who want to live in a reality-based story rather than as serfs in an ideology designed to transfer power, possibility and hope t o a small ruling elite have much long and hard work to do, individually and collectively.

It will not be either easy or quick. But we will do it. We will go forward in hope and in ourage. Let us seek that better path, and find the courage to take it - step, by step, by step.
> ===============
> Davidson Loehr
> November 2004
> First UU Church of Austin
> 4700 Grover Ave., Austin, TX

Homeless Blues

A couple of weeks ago, I did a big piece on the homeless -- and the lack of homeless shelters in our area. The homeless try to be "invisible" to stay out of trouble with the law and the merchants who complain about them and so forth.

This came out of it.

Homeless Blues
by the unSaintly Pat

Yeah, I'm the invisible one
The one you pass on the street,
Your eyes carefully passing over me
While I keep mine on my feet.
I run like a mutt, dodging the stick
I prowl like a cat in the alleys,
Slinking away from a hard, swift kick;
Bullies toy with me. To them, I'm just a bug.

You think I'm not the same as you,
My hat out, panhandling on the corner.
You think I chose this life of rags and rue.
Well, an afternoon gets me a drink
to get me through the night.
So throw me a quarter and tell yourself
how you've done me right.

Just wait until you get really sick
or lose your job, or lose your mind.
Then it might be you dodging the kick.
It doesn't take that much to lose it all.
Just a bit of bad luck, one misstep
Then it's your back against the wall.
Then you'll see how the shoe fits.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Rant #832

On abortion, now or later

This entry started as a comment on Demi's blog on abortion over at Pilgrim's Progress. She wrote about how the conservatives/creationists act as though they are the only ones who are pro-life. And get back strain patting themselves for their high moral ground, I might add.

Anyway, my comments got too long to be "comments," so I copy clipped them onto my own blog and left a short comment at Pilgrim's Progress.

I am opposed to abortion. My own belief is that nothing happens -- sperm and egg can bump into each other all they want -- until God puts a spark of life there.

If we don't want to be responsible for this spark of life for the next 18-20 years, we should be using good birth control or abstinence.

How about making abortion largely unnecessary, with better education about, and availability of, birth control, for males as well as females, and more and better counseling and alternatives for women who find themselves pregnant in terrible situations.

Maybe the male members of the population should get birth control implants until they are at least 25, then get a license to procreate when men can demonstrate they're mature enough and willing enough to take care of the offspring they produce. Take that, Jerry Falwell. That's less imposition on a male than forced childbirth is on a girl. That would cut down both the childbirth rate and the abortion rate by leaps and bounds. Not to mention the number of fatherless children.

The anti Roe-Wade hysteria, anti-women's choice, it's about controlling women.

My heart goes out to a woman who is in a dilemma, and where the only alternatives to abortion might be terrifying. I'm thankful I've never been in that situation.

I saw a saying not long ago, "Rights don't end at birth." If the holier-than-thou conservatives were ready to help those children and their mothers, I might have more respect for their position.

Abortion is a crying shame, though. I hate it.

Do you know what I think the ultracon version of abortion is? Delayed abortion. Like the Iraqi war. Let 'em grow up, then kill 'em.

End of this diatribe. It started coming on when I saw Jerry Falwell on TV this morning, defending his position that God approves of war, and God really is a Republican, who appointed Bushie for the job, so now Bushie can do anything he wants, 'cause God loves Bushie and Bushie loves the religious right, and let's get rid of Roe v. Wade, etc. It left me feeling ill.

p.s. -- didn't Falwell ever read Isaiah 2:1-5? It tells us God's perfect will for the human race is for our swords to be beaten into plowshares, and that we not learn war any more.

The passage from Isaiah was the Old Testament reading in the Episcopal Church today.

"O house of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of the Lord!"

Editor's note Dec. 2: for more on Folwell and his infamous comments, go to BlondeSense and read postings since Sunday (11/28/04).
And, thanks, Demi!

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Animal House

Betsy the Angel

Our animals play important roles in our lives. Betsy (the Best Dog in the World), a border collie/Australian shepherd mix, has been featured in a number of my blog entries; she's the one who patiently puts up with Jack the Brat, the one who snuggles up against my legs when I'm sick in bed. She's a joyous dog, full of spirit.

This is about a dream I had a couple of weeks ago, one vivid enough to stay with me.

In the dream, I walked out of a dark house, to go talk to two men who were on top of the roof, hammering. But when I got outside, I walked away from the house, instead.

Betsy met me. She was basically the same as in real life, but her ears were a bit bigger, I think for listening to the Holy Spirit, and her muzzle was just a bit heavier, emphasizing the Australian shepherd in her.

She danced around me excitedly, full of joy. She wanted me to come with her. I looked back toward the house, but she said no, pulling at my sleeve to come with her, instead.

I looked forward, where she was directing me, a steep path leading up the side of a hill or mountain. Cool, refreshing, fall air brought leaves swirling around my feet.

As I started forward on the path, she extended her paw forward and bowed, then began to dance with joy again.

That's it. That's the dream.

I think the house represents the family situation and the past from which I came. It was dark and airless. I think the men on the roof represented my brothers, nailing shut the only opening to let in the light. The Light of the World.

I think Betsy represented an emissary, an angel, maybe the Holy Spirit herself. She was sent to help me find the path I need to be on -- a path that may be steep and difficult at times, but one that will take me to a higher and better place, closer to God and joy and healing.

The leaves represented the death of the old life; the cool air symbolized the new life brought by the Holy Spirit.

I was looking at Betsy a few days ago and thinking about the dream. I asked her, "Are you my angel dog?"

She placed her paw on the floor and leaned back in a bow, just as she had done in the dream, whuffed, and danced around me with delight.

I took that as a "yes," and a reminder to let the joy in.

I hope everyone has been having a joyous and blessed Thanksgiving.
Love and hugs from the unSaintly Pat!

Monday, November 22, 2004

Rant #831

No, I don't know how many times I have actually ranted in my life. I made up that number. This is one I've tried to avoid, for like many other wayfarers following the way, I'm tired of all the arguments about homosexuality.

Now, I feel compelled to speak out once more.

It started this past Wednesday evening, at at Bible study at the church. We've been watching a video series called The Call to Discipleship, led by a woman name Erilynne Barnum, who is/was a deacon in the Episcopal Church, at Pawley's Island -- the ones who seceded from the Episcopal Church and squabbled over ownership of church property.

I went into the study partly as curiosity, partly for fellowship. Not everyone in the group is right-wing, by any means.

Most of what Barnum has said has been OK with me, and she certainly knows the Bible.

I pointed out a whole different interpretation of the Adam and Eve thing than she gave. She blamed everything on Eve, of course, and Adam wouldn't have been swayed if Eve hadn't tempted his with her "come hither" wiggles, etc., etc. Not to mention, Barnum was pretty darn slow to give any interpretation to Eve's creation as anything other than being taken from Adam and being only a helper and companion to him.

Anyway, I'm pretty used to hearing a more literalistic interpretation of the Bible than maybe many are. I take the message literally, and believe the healings and the miracles recounted in the Bible happened. I believe in God's mercy and Jesus' will to heal.

I don't believe God intends us to read the Bible without thoughtful meditation and application of reason.

Science is a gift of God, like medicine. We can use it or abuse it, like the other gifts God gives us. We can take into account the differences in our understanding of the world and that of 2,000-4,000 years ago. Otherwise, we would still be trying to cure most all illness with exorcism.

Wednesday night, Barnum talked about Sodom and Gomorrah. The homosexual sex act was named after Sodom, she reminded us. Then Barnum launched into a bit about all this stuff she's heard (with which she clearly doesn't agree) about homosexuals and how God's love is everwhere and God meets us where we are. Humph.

BUT, she said, the Bible clearly says HOMOSEXUALITY IS A SIN!!!!!! AN UNREPENTED SSSSINNNNN!!!!!!!!!!!!

She didn't say it in as ugly a manner as I've heard others. But I clearly heard the condemnation in her voice. As if a gay person is somehow outside the pale, left standing outside God's grace and salvation.

For a moment, I'm going to consider her assertion that being gay or at least, "the homosexual act" is a sin. Yes, she says like so many others, we're all sinners, but THEY DON'T REPENT OF THEIR SIN. OOOOHHHH I guess they're gonna burn in hell.

Okay, then, that means we're all going to burn in hell, and God's grace doesn't mean diddly squat, because we're all guilty of not just sin, but unrepented sin. Sometimes we don't even acknowledge the sin, so how can we repent it? All of us have things we're so pig-headedly self-righteous about that we would never see ourselves needing to repent. I see that in Barnum herself, and not just on this issue!

But it's something we're all guilty of.

And if we ain't got no grace, there ain't no point.

That said, my own belief is that homosexuality is no more a sin or choice than being freckle-faced. It is the way some of us were created. If someone reaches out to another in love, whether hetero- or homosexual, that is between those two people and God. If we treat each other with love, we honor God, and God is present.

God does meet us where we are. Then God pulls us closer.

Like Father Jake (click on the the link at right and read his entry from Nov. 21), I grew up believing I was wasn't "good" for much of anything. I grew up in a family where the message was I wasn't good enough, pretty enough, smart enough, loveable enough or worth(y) enough.

I didn't realize how pervasive that condemnation was, or how much I had believed the lies, until the last years of my life. Coming to Christ saved me in a literal fashion. Then, after going through inner healing, prayer, spiritual direction and the ministrations of the Holy Spirit, I've started to walk out of those lies and false beliefs.

There is no condemnation in Christ Jesus.

My own experience makes me sensitive to abusive treatment of others. Treat others as if they are worthless, outside of God's love, and you destroy souls. You rob Christ of that which is His to claim.

None of us "deserve" grace. It is freely given, nonetheless.

Tonight, I went to a meeting to plan activities for the healing ministry at our church. There was a proposal to bring in a priest from an Charismatic Orthodox Anglican/AMiA/Whatever church to speak at a healing mission. The man doesn't believe in ordaining women. He believes homosexuality can be cured, and this is apparently one of the major thrusts of his teaching/preaching. But, he's a very spiritual man, we were told.

There was enough resistance to can this, at least for the time being. Mother Marvelous issued a reminder how this would impact various people in the parish, some of whom have homosexual children, some who are barely hanging in as it is, with the current political climate.

I said I won't be there if this man is.

I don't care how spiritual he is and how much he might try to avoid saying something controversial, his beliefs would flavor his teaching. His presence alone would turn the healing mission into a political statement, given the politics going on in this Diocese, and in the church. It would make it divisive rather than healing. And it would be an affront to our two ordained women, to boot.

And no, I wouldn't want his politcal opposites there for the same reason. (The argument was used, well, what about Spong or Marcus Borg?) Political controversy belongs somewhere else, maybe a special seminar/open forum, but not at a healing mission.

Sigh. I'm tired of it.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Animal House

A gremlin in the house

Living with four animals isn't always easy. I mostly think I've lost my mind, and I've become a kennel-keeper rather than a homeowner.

I go off to work, leaving all four in the house. They're all used to being house animals and the oldest wouldn't survive the Florida heat if left in the yard all day.

I could have been training Jack the Brat, who's now four-five months old, to stay outside, I guess. He was such a tiny kitten, I was afraid a hawk or eagle would get him, even if he didn't stray off and become prey to one of the roaming dogs in the neighborhood.

Jack is at least twice the size he was when I took him in August, but he's not a big cat. What he lacks in size, he makes up for in energy.

One of his favorite pastimes is tormenting Elvis, a portly and slow-moving middle-aged cat. Jack walks sideways up to Elvis, leaps into the air in place to make sure he has Elvis' attention, then jumps on Elvis. The wrestling match begins.

Poor Elvis is so put out with this little brat being in the house, he hisses any time Jack comes within his radar. It doesn't bother Jack.

Betsy (the Best Dog in the World) enjoys Jack's company most of the time. Jack's favorite torment of Betsy is to jump on her head and dig in tooth and claw, sometimes making Betsy yelp. She scrapes him off with her paw and holds him down for a minute.

Other times, Jack and Betsy play a game of chase. Jack is "it." Sometimes I worry that Betsy will end up hurting him, she gets so wound up in the chase. Jack's not the least bit scared -- he moves like greased lightning. And he's the one to start the game.

Whether or not they're roughhousing, Jack and Betsy are best friends. He cuddles up at her side for naps.

Good Old Boy, an elderly retriever, is mostly puzzled by Jack, if he even notices him. Jack has to get right in Good Old Boy's face to get his attention, which lasts only momentarily.

Jack finds other outlets for his energy, like tearing up the house. I came into my computer room/office the other morning to find the keyboard and mouse dangling off the desk by their cords, and the stuffing from a boxed gift shredded over the floor.

Every time the refrigerator opens, he tries to climb in. He thinks anything I'm eating is to be shared with him.

I wake up in the night to thuds and crashes. Burglars? No, just Jack. This morning, I awoke to find the pouffy body scrubber from the shower on the the bed next to me. Jack.

The sheers from the bedroom window were found in a pile on the floor a couple of weeks ago. Jack.

The dogs' water dish spilled all over the floor. Jack.

Teeth marks on my wooden dining-room chairs. (I caught him at it the other day -- standing on his hind feet on the chair's seat, stretching himself up and chewing as hard as he could on the knob? finial? on the back of the chair.) Jack

Paperwork knocked on the floor and scattered all over the room. Jack.

The weights pulled out of the vertical-blind fabric strips -- daily. Jack.

Disappearing shoes. The cordless phone found under the bed. Jack.

Jack, Jack, Jack. Good thing for him he's so adorable.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Striving for justice and peace

I was moved to tears by John Edwards' and John Kerry's concession speeches. They reminded us that the work is not done, and we will still strive toward justice, social reforms and respect from our allies.

Edwards has shown his stuff in this election, and his was one of the best and most-soul stirring speeches I've heard in a long time. We have definitely not seen the end of him in presidential elections, I think. And Kerry spoke simply, directly and from the heart and for the work we have to do in the future. I would vote for him all over again.

Who knows how honest this election was? I'm starting to hear about how easily a few percentage points can be manipulated through the vote-talling computers. Just have the scanners flip every 500th or thousandeth Democrat vote to read Republican.

We observed All Saints Day in church today, and some of the Baptismal Covenant was used in the service. Here are the last two lines of the Covenant:

Celebrant: Will you seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbor as yourself?

People: I will, with God's help.

Celebrant: Will you strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being?

People: I will, with God's help.

This covers just about everything.

How can anyone recite this and still refer to a gay young man as an abomination? How can we then invade another country, bringing thousands of deaths, on false and erroneous (with the emphasis on false) pretexts? How can we call such a war "Christian?" How can we have a "Christian" administration that encouraged the abuses at Abu Ghraib?

How can you have a "have more" power base, while people are un- or underemployed, go without health care, or even sleep on the street, in the richest nation in the world?

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

The day after

It looks like Bush won the election he stole four years ago, though not by the landslide his spinners are trying to claim, by any means. It's a slim margin -- not a huge mandate for an incumbent.

Sen. Kerry is right to hold off any concession until all the votes are counted and his team has had a chance to look it all over.

With Bush, we can expect four more years of increasing fascism, war and terrorism to look forward to. May God have mercy on us.

Maybe enough people have woken up and will be on guard, and will act, to help prevent this.

Monday, November 01, 2004

Speak of the devil...

Speaking of Osama bin he's surfaced with a video just in time for the elections. Funny how we haven't been able to catch him.

The Christian Science Monitor reports of his growing mystique in the Arab world, that he's seen in many eyes as the romantic, lone figure to stand up to and elude the United States.

The failure to capture this wealthy Saudi (I emphasize this because the news reports would lead you to think he's Afghani) certainly is an embarrassment to U.S. military and civilian intellgence agencies.

Again, I wonder, why have they been unable to capture him, even with a $25 million price tag on his head?

And what part of the sudden turn to war on Iraq was to distract attention away from this matter? I certainly felt that was part of the intention at the time, and it still seems very likely.

I've just gotta wonder.

In the meantime, I voted last week, thanks to the early voting polling station near my office. I sure hope my vote gets counted.

I watched a Central Florida preacher on TV yesterday doing his political bit, asking how would Jesus vote? and using the fundamentalist touchstone questions about same-sex marriage, etc.. etc.. etc. My reaction is, never in a million years for Bush.

Former Mayor Giuliani of New York was on TV too, doing his Bush pitch. One of the things he accused Kerry of is, "He's against war." I don't think the mayor realized how this sounded. I kinda think Jesus would be against war, too.

Shouldn't war be the very last resort, after all else has failed, and when we are in imminent peril? The situation in Iraq was not even close. Yet our young people were thrown into it -- thrown to the wolves. Thousands more Iraqis died.

What kind of "intelligence failure" was this, when Hussein had actually complied with UN demands? We seem to be full of "intelligence failures" in the Middle East, including one on the effectiveness of "Shock and Awe." And we're at much more risk than ever before, thanks to the Bush administration.

Saturday, October 23, 2004

conspiracy theories

I've had some intuitions lately. They are nothing for which I have any proof. You could call these thoughts speculation. Some intuitive leaps I pay more attention to than others, though.

Here goes.

I have the feeling there was a connection between 9-11 and another Bush being in the White House. That there was some falling out between the Bush family and Arab oil interests during Desert Storm. That some Arab-Saudi factions have been really angry with the Bush (Sr.) White House and with the Bush family.

Remember how Bush Sr. pushed into Iraq then, but stopped short of going after Saddam Hussein? He seemed to really want to go after him, but then backed down.

Later, Dubya wanted revenge against those who wanted to get his pappy.

There was some betrayal, or at least a perceived betrayal, which left some factions really angry, I have come to think. While there were Arab terrorists before the Bushes, 9-11 wasn't your run-of-the-mill terrorist strike.

Politics, oil, money and power all make strange bedfellows, and the Bushes have been beholden to Arab oil interests for many years. Those ties continue, because they're in the best interests of both parties. But I'm really wondering what animosities might lie beneath the surface.

In the meantime, perhaps coincidentally -- or not -- the anti-Muslim faction of the ultraconservative Christian right is growing. I'm one of those lucky people who gets stuff from both the left and right, and I've been seeing a trend, such as anecdotes that "prove" the superiority of Christianity over Islam in a hostile "my God is better than your God" sort of way. (I'm a proponent of Christianity, but not for their reasons.)

I've heard talk from preachers about how all Muslims believe it is their duty to kill all Christians so they can go to heaven, and we should be prepared for a religious war.

I've begun to think there is a political orchestration behind this, feeding on fear of Arab terrorists and cultural differences. Considering the political ties of the religious right-wing to the Bush right and some of the propaganda that's come out of the White House to justify the war, it doesn't seem such an outrageous thought. The political orchestrations of the IRD and like groups also make me much more willing to consider such possibilities than I would have a few years ago.

In some Christian fundamentalist circles, there is a real desire for Armageddon and the end days. After all, they think they're going to be "raptured" up to heaven with the other right-thinkers. A Muslim-Christian religious war could well bring about the beginning of the end.

Paranoid conspiracy theories? You be the judge.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Let the games begin

Well, the Eames Commission Report is out, and the fur is already flying. Look at an AP report by Robert Barr in London today:

...Archbishop Peter Akinola of Nigeria, in a statement released in London, said it was the U.S. Episcopal Church and the Canadian diocese of New Westminster that pushed the worldwide Anglican Communion "to the breaking point."

"Why, throughout the document, is there such a marked contrast between the language used against those who are subverting the faith and that used against those of us, from the global south, who are trying to bring the church back to the Bible?" he said.

"Where is the language of rebuke for those who are promoting sexual sins as holy and acceptable behavior? The imbalance is bewildering," he said. He added that it was suprising that "the primary recommendation of the report is 'greater sensitivity' instead of heartfelt repentance."

In its report released Monday, the commission called for apologies from both sides, and for a long-term process of reconciliation and defining the relationship among the world's Anglican churches.

It urged the Episcopal Church not to elect any more gay bishops and for conservative African bishops to stop meddling in the affairs of other dioceses.

That point outraged Akinola, who earlier this month visited the United States to explore the possibility of serving as an alternative bishop to disaffected Episcopalians.

"We have been asked to express regret for our actions and 'affirm our desire to remain in the communion.' How patronizing!" Akinola said in the statement.

"We will not be intimidated."

The Episcopal Church's presiding bishop, Frank T. Griswold, has been equally unyielding. On Monday he expressed regret for the turmoil in the Anglican Communion but reaffirmed his belief that the church was right to promote Robinson.

Akinola praised the report's call for the Episcopal church to halt to further promotions of gay clergy to bishoprics. It also called for Episcopal congregations and churches in the New Westminster diocese of Canada to stop sanctioning blessings of gay partnerships.

"If they do not repent and return to the fold, they will find that they are all alone," Akinola said. "They will have broken the Anglican Communion."

Akinola's sharp reaction contrasted to that of another conservative leader, Archbishop Drexel Gomez of the West Indies, who was one of the 16 people who served with Eames in writing the unanimous report.

"The tone of our report represents an intentional offering from the members of the communion to facilitate healing and reconciliation," Gomez said Monday, appearing with Eames at a news conference launching the report.

Eames' commission was not asked to explore the rights and wrongs of homosexuality, and it refrained from any comment.

However, it sharply criticized the Episcopal Church and the Canadian dioceses for going moving ahead on the issue without full consultations among the 38 national churches which constitute the global communion.

According to the report, "neither the diocese of New Westminster nor the Episcopal Church has made a serious attempt to offer an explanation to, or consult meaningfully with, the communion as a whole about the significant development of theology which alone could justify the recent moves.

It doesn't look like there will be much reconciliation, although I'm pleasantly surprised by Gomez' statement.

You can't get much less conciliatory than Akinola's rhetoric. He is The Man Who Would Be Archbishop of Canterbury -- or the equivalent in a new union. He has no interest in reconciliation. At least Griswold is trying to hold an olive branch, even if it isn't a huge one.

Meanwhile, our own John Howe, Bishop of Central Florida, seems to have read only half of the report -- the one calling for ECUSA to apologize, according to a report in The Lakeland Ledger, a Central Florida newspaper. His eyes must have skipped right over the commission's comments addressed to conservative leaders.

Wait, here's a statement from the Bishop:

The Windsor Report provides a comprehensive and extremely balanced analysis of "where we are" and how we got here. The bottom line is that both the Episcopal Church (USA) and the Anglican Church of Canada have acted with blatant disregard for the rest of the Communion, and the fallout from those actions has  been disastrous. I welcome the Report's recommendations and I hope these  two great Churches will move quickly to implement them.
The Rt. Rev. John W. Howe
Episcopal Bishop of Central  Florida

So much for reconciliation. We'll just have to see what develops.

Sunday, October 10, 2004


Having drawn my line in the sand, let me say I'll fight tooth and nail to hang on to my parish. It has been a gift of God to me, a place where I have felt at home, a place where I have felt valued for myself alone and for whatever gifts and talents I bring.

I love these people, even those of differing opinions, who would vote us into the AAC. I don't know how the future of this diocese and my parish will play out. I'm praying that sanity will prevail, at least at the parish level. I have a hard time imagining many people wanting to go into some alternate "communion" or province, but then, before all this happened, I couldn't imagine us being voted into the AAC. But vote us in they did at the last diocesan convention, with a lot of sneakiness aforethought. So who knows.

I could end up being part of a faithful remnant.


I couldn't get terribly excited over the last presidential debate. It was mostly rehashing of the same old stuff. Is it my imagination, or does Bush have a set of memorized answers, featuring such stock phrases as "steadfast resolve" etc. etc. etc.

Even if we did go into Iraq for all the wrong reasons, it was still the right thing to do, sez Bush. Even though our own experts say Saddam had ditched Iraq's WMDs to comply with UN demands. When we invaded, he didn't have the capability to do squat, basically. How ironic.

Not that I'm a defender of Saddam Hussein in the slightest. It's just that even when I thought he might actually have WMDs, I thought sending in troops was the stupidest way to handle the situation. Can't we think/act smart instead of bogging our troops down in a ground war and killing thousands and thousands of people, ours, others' and Iraq's? What's all this "intelligence" for if it can't come up with a better plan?

I guess Bush's supporters will think he did great in Friday's debate, while I thought he looked like a Banty rooster, strutting and posturing on the stage. The hollow man. Kerry does seem much more presidential to me.

Edwards emerged from the vice-presidential debate as a certified political heavyweight, in my opinion. He held his own, toe-to-toe with Cheney, who acted like a snarly old grizzly, expecting to knock Edwards down easily. Didn't happen.

Monday, October 04, 2004

Drawing the line blues

I know I haven't been posting much lately. This is partly because of time, and time down, with hurricanes battering us here in Central Florida.

And, I haven't had the heart to post much about the Episcopal Church. Then, last month, I saw that the bishop of this diocese signed a letter Sept. 1, along with a few other right-wingers, demanding the Commission "discipline" the Episcopal Church, and, in essence, that the Episcopal Church be kicked out of the communion. I know, I know, it's SOS.

Reading between the lines, it's clear the Global South, or its bishops, anyway, are flexing muscles and this letter appears to me to contain a threat to the ABC -- do it our way, or the highway.

I wonder why my bishop signed this letter. Not even Iker and the other AAC types signed it.

It's obvious that "reception" of ordained women still rankles the hardliners.

Anyway. I love my parish very much, but I don't think I could stay if our bishop or anyone else tried to force us into some AMiA-type situation, or "realignment" into another union. I'm afraid I just don't have confidence in the intentions of the leadership in this diocese.

Meanwhile, an article I've started working on has me thinking again about my own rationale for supporting the actions of convention:

I look at the people I encounter and see children of God. Nothing more or less. As beloved as the bishop or me.

Is homosexuality a sin? I can't see it any more a sin than the way any of us were created -- white or black, blue- or brown-eyed, male or female, freckled or bronzed, tall or short.

What's important is how we treat each other, and we all fall short of the mark.

Our sexuality is something that will drop off us at the end, according to my interpretation of the Bible, which is heretical according to some.

I keep thinking about how Jesus constantly challenged the powers that be of his time, who were quite comfortable with themselves, but had a list of those "unacceptable" people -- women, tax collectors, Samaritans and all foreigners, even the sick and hurting, who (after all) must have surely done something to deserve what they got. They certainly didn't like anyone who challenged the power structure.

Jesus was an "innovator," a word the writers of the letter posted below don't like at all. He even dared to heal on the Sabbath. I can see the letters that would have been written back in his time!

Oh, wait, they didn't just write letters and demand realignments, they crucified the Lord.

I wonder what would happen if Jesus were to come today?

The Holy Spirit has constantly challenged the status quo, bringing in all these outsiders, ending slavery, crusades, pogroms (though we keep starting them back up) discrimination against various groups, prodding us in the direction God wants us to go.

I am wearied with hearing the politics of exclusion and of hate. I won't be part of a church that condones it. That's where I draw the line.

Here's the text of the letter, if you can stomach it:

May integrity and uprightness protect us, because our hope is in you.
Redeem Israel, O God from all their troubles (Psa. 25:21-22).
We write as bishops and theologians within the Anglican Communion to
the Lambeth Commission to express our thanks for the important work
which you are doing on our behalf as you respond to the current crisis
within the Communion. We hold you in our prayers as you work to
clarify for us the nature of Anglican discipline and make proposals
for a way forward which will maintain among us the highest level of
communion. Such communion and godly unity is our desire also. Yet we
need to express our grave concerns about possible outcomes that might
shortly be proposed by the Commission.
1. We write as persons convinced that the only way forward for the
continuance of the Communion is for the Primates to exercise some form
of discipline upon innovating provinces. The arguments for such a
`restorative' discipline, together with concrete suggestions for the
shape of that discipline, have been given in previous submissions. We
believe that the arguments in these submissions summarise well the
concerns of the vast majority of Anglicans in the Communion, including
much of the Two-Thirds World. For the present dispute does not derive
from some conflict of local cultures, but is truly about right
Christian teaching and common life understood in a `catholic' sense
(that is, throughout the world).
2. There is, however, a danger that the voice of that vast majority
may not be heard. We note that, while there have been some significant
contributions from the Two-Thirds World, these are still few in
number. This is surprising since (as Appendix 1 shows) the churches of
the `Global South' make up over well over half of the Anglican
Communion. We know that the membership of the Commission is as
representative as it can be, but we trust that it will not be misled
by this `accident' in its sources. Regrettably many in the Global
South may find the methodology of such a Commission culturally alien
and therefore be hesitant to contribute to this process. There would
then be the danger that the important work that you are doing and
which all of us support might be perceived as a bureaucratic
discussion amongst those who live in the `West'. Should this turn out
to be the case, it would not be surprising if the Commission's advice
and proposals were not heeded. We must emphasize that the churches of
the `Global South' have an important a voice and a strong intention
which will be ignored at great cost. We trust that the Commission is
fully apprised of this political reality and therefore of the
inevitable consequences of failing to make recommendations that
adequately reflect this.
3. The argument for discipline is hard to refute. We trust that the
Commission is now fully aware that the present crisis cannot be
resolved through adopting a simple process of `reception' (as with
women's orders). For we have already entered an evident process of
rejection, not reception. Primates and bishops throughout the
Communion have therefore repeatedly urged for such discipline. If this
request is ignored, then plainly we have reached the end of the
Anglican Communion in its present form. Indeed, given that many in the
Global South have been asking for an even stronger response (namely
`repentance or complete expulsion'), it is clear that this category of
`restorative discipline' is the only viable middle-ground that might
possibly preserve the Communion. Even then it will require persuasion
on both sides: not only will innovating provinces need to accept its
strictures, but Global South provinces will need convincing that it is
a sufficient response and not a subtle means of evading or postponing
the hard issues. For many provinces are set in contexts where this
distinctively Christ-like concept of `restorative discipline' (giving
time for `amendment of life' and upholding both truth and grace) would
be dismissed as weak or erroneous. The key point remains, however:
anything less than discipline is a non-starter.
4. So our chief concern now is that the Commission might be tempted to
seek to accommodate this call for `discipline' by proposing instead
some form of `associate status' as an alternative to `communion'. The
argument here would be that, if the overwhelming majority of Anglicans
are pressing for ECUSA and Canada to be `disciplined' (as the only way
of preserving the Communion), perhaps instead these two provinces (and
any others that overturn biblical and traditional teaching on human
sexuality) can be given an alternative status-a `looser' relating to
Canterbury. Some have spoken of an `inner' and `outer track', some of
a `federation'. In such a way it is hoped our present crisis can be
side-stepped and the provinces of North America can avoid the painful
`loss of face' and legal vulnerability associated with being `under
5. At first sight this may appear an attractive proposal, even (in a
caricatured sense) very `Anglican'-in its attempt to comprehend within
a single institutional structure what appear to be logically
irreconcilable positions. Within this proposal both `sides' in the
argument might be `affirmed' in some way, and they might even learn to
live alongside one another under some `still-Anglican' umbrella. But
the reality on the ground is quite different. This proposal is wrong
in principle and unacceptable in practice.
6. In Appendix 2 we list some of the reasons why this is so, which
cover matters of theological principle, practical procedures and real
politics. In many ways this `federation' model, it will be noted, only
pushes the problem down a level-from inter-provincial relations to
those within provinces and dioceses. It does not actually resolve
anything, but leaves the issue to worm its divisive way down into
every layer of the Communion's life. Another concern is that, if there
were ever occasions when the `inner and outer tracks' were required to
gather together, then this would place an intolerable strain on the
consciences and patience of those who have consistently expressed
their principled objection to revisionist teaching. Hence the
insistence in various recent proposals that provinces `under
discipline' would not be represented at the Primates Meeting and the
Lambeth Conference.
7. The key problem, however, is that those provinces of the Global
South that have already declared a state of `impaired communion' (as
well as orthodox Christians and churches in the North) will not wish
to be in some ambiguous kind of relationship with ECUSA and Canada.
For the sake of their own mission (often in Muslim lands) there needs
to be a clear and publicly recognised distinction between the
continuing Anglican Communion and those provinces whose witness
diverges from the Communion. In some instances this may be because
Communion churches do not wish to see their recent church growth
compromised by association with unbiblical standards; in others (more
soberly) because the very survival of any Anglican presence in their
local context depends on this clear severance-it is, too literally, a
`life and death' issue. We urge you to note this key reality `on the
ground'. The provinces of North America must therefore be seen and
known to be a quite separate church or denomination. This means that:
. They must not be able to use the label `Anglican' in a way that
identifies them as part of the Anglican Communion.
. Their relationship with Canterbury (if it is to continue at all)
must be of a qualitatively different kind from that which Canterbury
will maintain with (what will become) the continuing Communion. They
would need to have a clearly `diminished' status, the details of which
would need to be worked out.
The major point here is critical: if there is to be no accepted
discipline within the Communion, then there must be appropriate
distance from the Communion.
8. It should also be noted that the `federation' model is a proposal
which necessarily signals the end of the Communion-a tacit acceptance
that an irretrievable breakdown has occurred within our common life.
It should also be quite plain which provinces are responsible for this
dissolution of our Communion. Indeed it seems odd and even
irresponsible that the Communion as whole should be being asked to
reorient its common life in a fundamental manner around the actions of
a few provinces bent upon such dissolution.
9. If the `federation' model were pursued, then orthodox provinces, we
trust, would be clearly and securely within the continuing (though
depleted and smaller) Communion-the `inner track'. They would also, of
course, keenly hope that they might continue to be in the same valued
relationship with Canterbury that they have known up to this point.
The problem with the `federation' proposal arises when the status of
the provinces in the `outer track' needs to be defined. For if
Canterbury sought to confer some legitimate `Anglican' status upon
these provinces, then many who have seen Canterbury as the focus of
their Anglican unity and identity would find that relationship placed
under intolerable strain. This awful possibility does not arise from
any desire for independence but from a firm commitment to the
Communion as it has been known and understood until now. Loyalty to
Canterbury is (and always was) expressive of a loyalty to the biblical
and apostolic faith as received and of which Canterbury is called to
be steward and guardian. If Canterbury (as the effective `gatherer' of
the Communion) or the central Instruments of Unity should somehow
attempt to compromise at this point, they must not be surprised at the
principled resistance of those wishing to maintain an authentic
biblical witness in our confused world. In any family, if the
offending party refuses to be disciplined, then the alternative is
polite removal from the family. And if they refuse to be removed, then
the main family will itself need to consider other options, including
10. These plain statements of the church-political realities at stake
on this issue cannot be ignored. They also help then to clarify what
the realistic and viable options are for the status of the provinces
of North America: membership in the Communion (in conformity with its
teaching), `membership under discipline' or non-membership. There is
no fourth category. Talk of `federation' is effectively a device to
open up such a new category. It is a new and ecclesially vague status,
specially designed for these provinces so that they can appear to have
been distanced and disciplined (to the supposed satisfaction of the
orthodox) whilst conveniently retaining their Anglican status and
their treasured links with Canterbury. But this is giving them the
privileges of membership without any matching responsibilities (of
conformity to the Communion's teaching). No institution can survive if
it seeks to play such a game.
11. In this submission we seek to make it quite clear that orthodox
`members' of the Communion will not accept such a compromising move:
there is no magical way to `square the circle' and keep all current
members of the Communion satisfied, despite the irreconcilability of
their views. A `compromise' in the direction of an inclusive
federation is theologically wrong, morally questionable,
ecclesiologically disastrous - and totally unworkable in practice.
Orthodox bishops will reserve the right to resist false teaching and
to preserve a Communion that is essentially theological. A response
that is primarily a matter of structural re-arrangement is doomed. So
the Commission should be under no illusion that this might be a
practicable solution. During the last 12 months we have seen people
taking actions, despite warnings, who then claim to have been
surprised by the storm they have created-as though this might then
excuse them for their actions. We trust a similar blindness to clear
consequences will not mark the final deliberations of the Commission.
12. We therefore offer our own proposal of a way forward to the
Commission. And we do so at this time as the gathered voice of a host
of traditional Anglicans from around the world, standing in steadfast
unity with our brothers and sisters in the Global South-indeed in the
Communion as we have received it. We propose that the Commission
recommend the Primates to act in some such way as this:
The Primates should address the House of Bishops (or specially
convened General Convention or Synod) of the provinces of ECUSA and
Canada with this SOLEMN DECLARATION, requiring a response within a set
In the light of your recent synodical decisions which have knowingly
flouted Communion teaching on matters of human sexuality:
A) We hereby declare that your provinces have entered a period of
restorative discipline, the purpose of which is to provide time for
your reconciliation to the larger Communion and its teaching. This
discipline will have implications for the presence of your
representatives in the councils of the Communion and includes the
adequate provision of episcopal oversight for clergy and congregations
in your midst who wish to remain in communion with us. While this
discipline is in force, there will be quite naturally an impairment of
sacramental fellowship and a restriction on the interchangeability of
B) We hereby pronounce that this discipline will come into force with
immediate effect for a set period lasting up to 2 years. It will only
be rescinded during this time if your provinces publicly renounce your
recent decisions and take practical steps to rescind your actions.
C) We hereby also give warning that, should you refuse to respond by
renouncing these decisions during the set period (B) or even by
refusing to accept the discipline imposed (A), then either of these
two refusals will be taken as a clear and conscious signal that you
yourselves are unwilling to continue as constituent members of the
Anglican Communion. Instead we shall recognise that `communion' to
exist with those from among you who declare their commitment to our
common teaching and life.
The rationale behind this declaration is that these provinces be
presented with a clear and reasonable choice (as above), namely: full
membership of the Communion (B), `membership under discipline' for a
set period (A) or non-membership (C). It closes the door on any fourth
option, by clearly stating that the alternative to discipline is
distance: if they are not content with `observer status' within the
Communion, they shall have no status within the Communion. It also
makes clear that they cannot remain forever in the `disciplined'
category (A) but must sooner or later either return to full Communion
membership (B) or leave the Communion (C). This status of `membership
under discipline' is thus not to construed as a perennial condition,
another `vague' place where ambiguities can be left unresolved, but is
precisely a purposive category which allows `time for amendment of
life' and/or for clear decisions to be made. Previous proposals for
discipline, through not defining the real threat of non-membership,
may have been insufficiently clear at this point and thus been liable
to misinterpretation.
13. It may be that these provinces will wish to pursue the claim to be
offering the Communion a `prophetic' vision. Our argument is that, if
so, then they must speak their voice `from outside' the Communion's
structures-so that we may `test the spirits' and observe whether their
prophetic stance is true or false. Should the provinces wish to pursue
this `prophetic' role (C), then:
. They would be required to reconstitute themselves, acknowledging
that they are no longer `Anglican', adopting some alternative
denominational name, and rewriting their constitutions in a way that
excludes their previous claim to be `in communion with Canterbury'.
. After an agreed length of time there would be a review of their
relationship with the Communion as a whole.
Meanwhile those bishops and congregations who continued to oppose the
innovative teaching in sexual ethics would be duly recognised, legally
and constitutionally, as the continuing _expression of the Anglican
Communion within these provinces-able to nominate their own `presiding
bishop' and other officers (to represent them in wider Communion
affairs) and ensuring appropriate episcopal oversight for those within
their province. We would trust that other matters (e.g. property
matters governed by civil laws) would be amicably sorted out,
according to the imperatives of the Gospel, in the light of these new
constitutional arrangements.
14. We see the above as a reasoned and reasonable proposal, which
honestly acknowledges the depth of division that has now broken out
within our Communion. Most importantly, however, it adequately does
justice to the clear, principled and repeated concerns of the
overwhelming majority of faithful Anglican Christians. Why do the
majority have to be troubled for so many years by the insistence of
such a tiny minority? How long can any institution-let alone the
Church of Jesus Christ-continue in this indecisive manner, limping
endlessly between two opinions? How much longer can we see our
spiritual and material resources being haemorrhaged through incessant
debate and acrimony on this point? For the sake of the Church and for
our communion in Christ, the time has surely come for decisive action,
for clear speaking and, if there is no change of heart, for a clean
break. It is time to draw the line.
1 September 2004
The Rt Revd Mouneer Anis, Bishop of Egypt
The Rt Revd Wallace Benn, Bishop of Lewes & President of Church of
England Evangelical Council
The Revd Mario Bergner, Redeemed Life Ministries
The Rt Revd Pete Broadbent, Bishop of Willesden
The Revd John Coles, Director, New Wine
The Rt Revd Dr. Michael Fape, Bishop of Remo, Nigeria
Dr Philip Giddings, Anglican Mainstream
The Rt Revd John W. Howe, Bishop of Central Florida, ECUSA
The Rt Revd Michael Kyomya, (Ph.D.) Bishop of Busoga, Church of Uganda
The Rt Revd John Lipscomb, Bishop of Southwest Florida, ECUSA
The Rt Revd Alpha Mohammed, Bishop of Rift Valley, Tanzania & Anglican
Communion Institute
The Rt Revd Edward Muhima, Ph.D., Bishop of North Kigezi, Church of Uganda
& Team Leader Director of African Evangelistic Enterprise in Uganda
The Revd Professor Stephen Noll, Vice-Chancellor, Uganda Christian
The Revd Mike Parker, Scottish Episcopal Evangelical Fellowship
The Rt Revd Edward Salmon, Bishop of South Carolina, ECUSA & Anglican
Communion Institute
The Revd Professor Christopher Seitz, President, Anglican Communion
The Rt Revd James Stanton, Bishop of Dallas, ECUSA & Anglican Communion
The Very Revd Philip Turner, retired Dean, Berkeley Divinity School at
Yale & Anglican Communion Institute
The Revd Dr Chris Wright, Langham Partnership International
The Very Revd Dr Paul F.M. Zahl, Dean, Trinity Episcopal School for
Ministry, USA