Tuesday, April 19, 2005

The last of a Good Old Boy

My old Golden Retriever got down last week and couldn't get back up. I knew this day was coming -- he's been barely able to get up and down even with the help of medication to ease the pain and inflammation in his joints.

Last week, he just couldn't do it any more. The vet came out and gave him an injection to euthanize him as he lay on my kitchen floor. I had one hand on him and one hand on a worried Betsy, my Border Collie mix.

It was a painless exit from this world.

It reminded me that Jesus said he came to heal the sick, bind up the broken-hearted and set free the captives.

Jesus did all that for Good Old Boy, at different times. This was the time to free this beautiful animal from the body which had become a prison for him.

In the three years I had him, Good Old Boy was healed of heartworms by the miracles of modern science (which comes from God); he had two tumors removed from him, and he made it through the last six months only because of the medication that allowed him to get up and down. And my prayers through it all. He was deaf and he was developing cataracts.

Good Old Boy was about 10 years old when I got him. He looked to be a purebred golden retriever. Although already marked by arthritis, he could still prance at times, legs held high in the air. At the end, he couldn't lift his leg high enough to pee. He hadn't been able to lift his tail during the time I had him.

After the vet (who is a wonderful and kind young professional) left, I had a strong vision of Good Old Boy running through the green fields of the Kingdom of God, flowing red-blond fur blowing in the wind, plume of a tail held high, prancing -- and smiling that glorious retriever smile.

Good Old Boy is healed.

I imagine him joyfully reunited with his previous owner, who predeceased him.

I know that when I pass through that door, he will be there, weaving in and out, between the legs of that great cloud of witnesses, moving to joyfully greet me.

To those who say there is no heaven, I say, "Phbbbbt!"

To those who say there are no animals in heaven, I say there is certainly a place for any loving creature in heaven. These pets who are members of our families are beloved and loving and belong with us there, too.

To those who say there's a separate heaven for animals, I say it wouldn't be heaven for them without their beloved people.

In fact, don't even try to talk theology with the grieving. They don't want to hear it. Just give them a hug.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

A new slant on 1984

From George Orwell's 1984 (published in 1949), on the nature of Doublethink:

"To know and not to know, to be conscious of complete truthfulness while telling carefully constructed lies, to hold simultaneously two opinions which canceled out, knowing them to be contradictory and believing in both of them, to use logic against logic, to repudiate morality while laying claim to it, to believe that democracy was impossible and that the Party was the guardian of democracy, to forget, whatever it was necessary to forget, then to draw it back into memory again at the moment when it was needed, and then promptly to forget it again, and above all, to apply the same process to the process itself -- that was the ultimate subtlety; consciously to induce unconsciousness, and then, once again, to become unconscious of the act of hypnosis you had just performed. Even to understand the word 'doublethink' involved the use of doublethink."

Ron Suskind, in the New York Times online magazine, Oct. 2004, giving rise to the blogger tag "reality based." I count myself one of the reality-based bloggers:
In the summer of 2002, after I had written an article in Esquire that the White House didn’t like about Bush’s former communications director, Karen Hughes, I had a meeting with a senior adviser to Bush. He expressed the White House’s displeasure, and then he told me something that at the time I didn’t fully comprehend — but which I now believe gets to the very heart of the Bush presidency.

The aide said that guys like me were ”in what we call the reality-based community,” which he defined as people who ”believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.” I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. ”That’s not the way the world really works anymore,” he continued. ”We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality — judiciously, as you will — we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors … and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.”

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

A word from another Anglican in Africa
God has a dream

This was posted on my Episcopal Voices listserv. Just read: It needs no commentary.

address by Archbishop Desmond Tutu. March 29, 2005

Most of us have read the first few chapters of Genesis in the Bible.
Isn't there a veritable explosion of creativity.

God, it could be said, went on a real spree, almost one might say, an orgy of creativity - where there was chaos, darkness and disorder, now there was order, cosmos and light and what a kaleidoscope of diversity.

There were trees, there were stars, a sun and moon, rivers and seas,
fish and fowl and birds and trees and animals - and what a splash of
diversity amongst the animals, not just one sort but a whole range of different animals, giraffes, elephants, lions, tigers, monkeys, cattle, sheep, goats, and among the trees, would be oaks, beeches, etc. and we could go on and on, and then there was Adam.

Now, that seemed to change the pattern. He was all by himself and then God saw that it was not good for man to be alone. And then we have that lovely story of how Eve came about.

A solitary human being is a contradiction in terms. We say in Africa a person is a person through other persons. We are made for togetherness, for friendship, for fellowship. We are created to live in a delicate network of interdependence and we are different precisely in order to know our need of one another. I have gifts that you don't and you have gifts that I don't have, and God you could almost hear saying, "Voila."

No one can be totally self-sufficient, the totally self-sufficient
human being is sub-human.

Diversity is the law of life. A tree is not just leaves. It has a trunk and branches, and roots and leaves - none can survive without the others. They are interdependent and perform different functions for the good of the whole. If the leaves were to go on strike and refuse to be involved in photo-synthesis and all that, the tree would suffer and the leaves would discover they were really nothing without the branches and the trunk and the roots. And so also with the human body. We say, "I see", not my eyes see - "I hear", not my ears hear - and I am an organism precisely because of the diversity of my organs performing different functions for the good of the whole body. Without this diversity functioning harmoniously I would be nothing.

Diversity is the Law of Life

Now God created us different, some tall, others short, some black,
others white (?), pink, yellow and red. What a fantastic array of
remarkable difference and diversity, different languages, different
cultures, different ethnicities, different this, different that. God
wanted us to glory in our differences, to affirm our differences, to
celebrate our diversities and to know that we are so obviously

Even now no single nation however prosperous and powerful can really go it alone. We must trade with other nations. We may find we don't have this commodity but they have it in abundance but lack what we have and God says I made you to be interdependent, to want to cooperate, to share, to care, to know that an injury to one will end up being an injury to all.

Unfortunately as seems always to happen, we perverted a good, our
particularity, our peculiarity - some then used it as a reason to
justify hostilities. We have used our differences to mistreat one

And so we had obscenities such as slavery where frequently one race
claimed to be superior to those who could thus be bought and sold like so many cattle when families were callously divided, wives from
husbands, mothers from their children and sold separately. They were
regarded as barely human and their dignity was trodden horrendously
underfoot. Even someone as smart as Aristotle declared that slaves were not persons. For him, and so many others, human personality was not a universal phenomenon possessed by all human beings without distinction.

Racism exalted differences that made some superior and others
inherently inferior and so we had the horror of the Holocaust when Jews were systematically eliminated in Hitler's Nazi final solution for being inferior to the Aryan and used as scapegoats to blame for Germany's parlous economic situation in the 1930s.

This kind of thinking justified the brutal and heartless massacre of
six million Jews and gypsies and homosexual persons. There have been other instances of genocide as of the Armenians, or of those who perished in the killing fields of Kampuchea (Cambodia) and more recently in Rwanda and then the so-called ethnic cleansing in of the former Yugoslavia, people being done in simply because they were different.

I come from South Africa which carried the opprobrium of the world for its vicious apartheid policy which was a blatant system of racist injustice and oppression.

In that land they saw nothing wrong with public signs reading, "Dogs
and natives not allowed" - natives meaning black people. There was no subtlety at all. In many other countries racism existed though perhaps in forms that were not quite so blatant and unashamed. In this country you spoke of separate but equal and everyone knew that it was really a fiction, since no white person would have willingly accepted to exchange places with those who were called Negroes, or more insultingly as Niggers, to enjoy the equal but separate facilities. We know the outrages and the atrocities perpetrated by the Ku Klux Klan, burning churches where little girls perished or the several lynchings - it continues to some extent as when a black man can be dragged to an excruciating death behind a truck. Racism is well and alive in so many parts of God's beautiful earth - we know what the neo-Nazis have been up to in Germany, or the National Front in Britain, and France, led by Le Pen, etc.

And we know that racism is totally un-Christian without remainder. It is unmitigated evil and totally immoral.

Why? Because racism says what invests anyone with worth, with value, is something extrinsic, something biological, skin colour, ethnicity. What does the Bible say quite categorically ? It says our worth is intrinsic. It comes with the package. It is part of being human. It does not depend on who or what we are. It belongs to all without distinction. And it is the wonderful assertion that each one of us is created in the image of God. Fantastic. Each one of us is God's representative, God's viceroy. God's standin. Each one of us is a God-carrier, since we are each a temple of the Holy Spirit.

Each one - everyone, whether we are rich or poor, beautiful or not so beautiful, red, white, yellow, black, young, or old, clever, or not so clever, our worth is intrinsic, our worth is infinite. And to treat one such as if they were less than human is not only evil, which it undoubtedly is; is not only painful as it certainly
turns out to be for its victims.

No it is all these things but more, it is blasphemous for it is really spitting in the face of God and we who are believers have no option - in the face of this evil and blasphemy we cannot be even neutral. We are constrained by our faith to oppose it
strenuously, for we can't say that well, it is respectable. No, that
would be to acquiesce in the crucifixion yet again of our Lord and
Saviour for remember he is the one who said, "When I was hungry you fed me, when I was naked, etc", for he is forever to be found with the outcast, the victim of injustice, of oppression.

When someone is the victim of any form of injustice and oppression, look carefully at that person and you will see the features of Jesus, and would we stand idly by when Jesus is vilified and illtreated yet again?

And how could we even have imagined that skin colour really told us
anything worthwhile about a person - does it tell us that you are
intelligent, humorous, compassionate, can I know these things just by looking at you? Of course not.

In the bad old days of apartheid in South Africa they used to have universities reserved only for whites. The main entrance qualification was not academic but biological. So I would say
suppose we changed that and said that this university was for large
noses only. If you had a small nose then you had to apply to the
Minister of Small Nose Affairs for permission to attend that

Totally absurd - it ought to have been something to dismiss with a loud guffaw, except of course that it was no laughing matter for its

God does not give up easily. God still believes that one day we will
get to agree with God that diversity is beautiful - that it is wonderful to have a garden made up of roses, but how much more wonderful one that has a whole array of different flowers, roses, daffodils, chrysanthymums, irises, etc - how wonderful when we see the rainbow in the sky and it is a rainbow precisely because it is made up of different colours.

And so are we surprised that God has a dream ?

On the Resurrection Day Jesus spoke to Mary Magdalene and said some strange words to her. He said, "Go tell my brothers", referring to those so-and-so's who had betrayed, denied and abandoned him - he called them brothers and he must have meant it because he went on to say, Athat I am ascending to my Father and to your Father; to my God and to your God." That is mind-blowing.

God dreams that we will come to realise that we are family, the human family, God's family, made up of all sorts and conditions of people.

I sometimes say I am glad I am not God. To think that God has to accept a Judas Iscariot, a Herod, a Hitler and a Bin Laden, a Mussolini and an Idi Amin as all his children. To say we are family is the most radical thing Jesus uttered, a family of glorious diversity where there are no outsiders. All are insiders.

Jesus said, I if I be lifted up will draw all, not some, all to me - black and white, red and yellow, rich and poor, Christian, Jew, Muslim, pagan, atheist, Hindu, all, old and young, male and female, gay, lesbian and so-called straight, all belong in his family. George Bush, Bin Laden, Sharon, Abbas, all belong, all are
loved, all. You know God has no enemies. Certainly my enemies are not God's enemies.

God dreams that we would realise that we are family caring for one
another as family, sharing with one another as family, concerned for
one another as family, appalled that members of our family could wallow in poverty and squalor without clean drinking water, and adequate health care, enough to eat when we have the capacity to feed them.

We have the means to ensure that all God's children, our brothers and sisters do have clean water to drink, enough food to eat and enjoy good education and adequate health care. Peace can come for all when we live as God's family.

And God says, "Please help me to realise my dream, please. . . .
please. . . . please. . . . .please."

The Bishop's take on the House of Bishops response

From the Bishop of Central Florida's column for the April newsletter:

I believe all of us wanted to signal to the rest of the Communion that we are taking the Primates’ requests very seriously, and this highly nuanced response is truly the most we could fashion together.  It is the result of a greater cooperative effort than I have seen in this House since becoming a Bishop!

Did I vote in favor of the Bishops’ statement?  Yes, because even this rather strange and limited response is better than no response at all.

Interestingly, our Presiding Bishop shared with us an email he received from the Archbishop of Canterbury within a few hours of our statement being issued.  The Archbishop thanked us quite profusely for our “generous and costly” response to the Primates.  So perhaps the glass is half-full, rather than half-empty!

I believe that for the moment we are technically in compliance with the Primates’ requests.  And our work this week may have bought us a year and a half (until General Convention).

What will happen during this time?  A delegation of Bishops and theologians who believe that our decisions in the last General Convention were right will be invited to “make their case” at the meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council in June.  There will be much international consultation (as there should have been previously). 

But frankly, I cannot envision any scenario in which a majority of our Anglican partners will change their minds in so brief a time.

The clear expectation of nearly everyone (in my opinion) is that when GC 2006 rolls around, all of these moratoria will be lifted.  General Convention will then have to decide whether to affirm in a clearer way than it has to date the legitimacy of same-sex blessings and the consecration of non-celibate gay and lesbian persons, or to back away and reaffirm the teaching and practice of the rest of the Anglican world.

And then we will have to answer the question of whether we will “walk together” or “walk separately.”  Again, thank you for your prayers.  Please continue to offer them.

The net effect probably is to buy more time. While the Bishop doesn't think the more conservative bishops in the union will change their minds, neither do I think the more liberal bishops in the union will change their mind between now and General Convention 2006.

While the Bishop doesn't think the agreement will stop some bishops from blessing same-sex unions, I don't think it will stop interfering foreign primates from crossing lines, either.

I don't see Presiding Bishop Griswold "making his case" i.e. "making his defense" of the actions of the last General Convention. It's like telling a child, "Explain yourself," implying guilt from the get-go.

Myself, I'm really tired of being told my church has "chosen to walk separately." It hasn't. Others want it to walk separately.

So I guess we're in for general sniping and arguing until the next convention.

It will be interesting to watch, though interesting is not always a good thing.

The Network supporters probably figure they can make more inroads into more dioceses in the meantime. "Liberate" more parishes from the evil liberals. But maybe more people will have their eyes opened about the Network/AAC and the intentions of some of these parties between now and GC 2006.

We can only pray.