Saturday, March 31, 2007

Howe: 'In my opinion, there will be a realignment'

Hat tip to the Voices member who found this posted at the [Lakeland, FL] Ledger.

The Ledger is in Network Country - conservative Polk County.

The story reaffirms my discomfort with Bp. John Howe. He talks too much like a politician.

I wonder what will be the topic of Wednesday's meeting with the clergy? One wonders if the missives from the Standing Committee (oddly posted on conservative Web sites, but not on the Diocesan web site) will come up.

Published Saturday, March 31, 2007

Bishop Faces Uncertain Future
Episcopal leader fears split may be unavoidable.

By Cary McMullen
Ledger Religion Editor

Uncertainty seems to be Bishop John Howe's companion these days.

Just returned from last week's meeting of the Episcopal House of Bishops at a retreat center in Texas, Howe reflected this week on the continuing crisis within the American denomination and with its Anglican cousins overseas. Asked if a break within the Episcopal Church is now inevitable, the leader of the Episcopal Diocese of Central Florida sighed deeply.

"I don't know," he said after a moment. "Anglicans have been famous for finding some sort of middle ground. It's possible we may squeak through. But the long-predicted realignment is probably inevitable. What that means (for conservatives), I don't think anyone knows."

Howe has been a leader among conservatives opposed to the Episcopal Church's progressive policies toward homosexuals. The dispute has had international repercussions, with some American Episcopalians allying themselves with conservative archbishops from Africa and Latin America.

The bishops were faced with an ultimatum issued at a recent meeting of international Anglican archbishops, known as primates: promise to stop consecrating gays as bishops and stop blessing same-sex unions or face exclusion from the councils of the Anglican Communion. The bishops were given until Sept. 30 to respond, and the Episcopal Church's Presiding Bishop, Katharine Jefferts Schori, deferred discussion of those issues until the bishops' September meeting.

The primates also proposed a "pastoral" plan that conservatives, a minority in the Episcopal Church, be allowed to report to a "primatial vicar" appointed jointly by the Archbishop of Canterbury and Jefferts Schori. In a resolution and letters to the primates and the Episcopal Church, the bishops rejected the proposal, declaring it would violate the church's autonomy and its constitution and policies, or "canons." Anticipating an eventual rejection of the ultimatum as well, the bishops' letter to the church stated, "If that means that others reject us and communion with us, as some have already done, we must with great regret and sorrow accept their decision."

In a telephone interview from his office in Orlando, Howe said the atmosphere at the meeting was respectful between those who disagreed, although some conservative bishops no longer attend the House of Bishops' meetings.

"There's sadness that we have such deep disagreements," he said.

Howe said he disagreed with the bishops' decision about the proposed pastoral plan.

"There's nothing in the constitution and canons that (prohibits) that. Katharine Schori has said that in terms of oversight, there is very little that is delegated to her. She said if we were willing to accept (the pastoral plan), she would, too," Howe said.

Howe said it was unclear what the consequences of the bishops' decision would be. Jefferts Schori could appoint her own primatial vicar to oversee parishes and dioceses unwilling to accept her authority, he said, but such a vicar would report to her rather than to an independent council, as the primates recommended.

However, Jefferts Schori is distrusted by many conservatives, and Howe said they "probably" would not agree to such an arrangement.

Howe has been more circumspect about Jefferts Schori. In an e-mail written to the diocese's clergy during the meeting and later posted on the Web site VirtueOnline, Howe wrote that Jefferts Schori had done a "stunning" job of leading. "When asked questions she is clear, and she allows this House to do its business in a totally straight-forward manner," Howe wrote.

As a result of the bishops' vote, at least one large Episcopal parish has voted to leave the denomination. According to the New York Times, Grace Church and St. Stephen's Parish in Colorado Springs voted last weekend to join the Convocation of Anglicans in North America, an arm of the Anglican church in Nigeria. Colorado Bishop Robert O'Neill has dissolved the parish's vestry, and a legal fight is expected over control of its property.

Howe has counseled disgruntled parishes in his diocese to have patience, arguing that there could be a way to remain within the Episcopal Church while allied with the larger Anglican Communion. He seemed more pessimistic about that possibility this week and said he feared a rejection of the primates' ultimatum would lead to a split within the Anglican Communion.

"It's clear to me the House (of Bishops) as a whole is not going to agree to what's been asked of us. ... In my opinion, there will be a realignment which will include many parts of the Anglican Communion and exclude others," he said.

Howe is scheduled to meet with the clergy of the Diocese of Central Florida on Wednesday.

Asked whether there will be a number of parishes in the Diocese of Central Florida that want to leave the Episcopal Church to align themselves with overseas Anglican churches, Howe replied, "Anything could happen. We'll take it step by step."

Friday, March 30, 2007

More sour grapes

Hot off the presses from the Central Florida Chapter of the AAC, more petulance from the Standing Comittee of the Diocese of Central Florida. Still no names affixed. The diocesan board apparently wasn't involved in this second missive.

The parties responsible for this are in an awfully snarky mood about the House of Bishops.

I'm trying to resist snarkiness over passages such as describing the House of Bishops' determination to decide matters at General Convention: "We find this arrogance unacceptable and embarrassing."

And, keeping up the good Network-speak of accusing the Episcopal Church of "walking apart," they're willing, as good Network workers, to be recognized as the legitimate voice of Anglicanism in North America.

But they will do it ever so humbly, "in the spirit of humility."

Ptttthummmphh! (spewing coffee)

No comment seen anywhere from Bp. Howe on this or earlier letter.

Here's the missive, if you care to read it.

March 30, 2007

Statement of the Standing Committee of the Diocese of Central Florida Regarding the House of Bishop’s Response to the Dar es Salaam Communique

The Standing Committee of the Diocese of Central Florida has received the House of Bishop’s statement regarding their March meeting at Camp Allen, Texas. We are discouraged by the tone and the content of their report and disagree with its conclusions and recommendations.

The Bishops dismissed the possibility of acceding to the unanimous request of the Primates to establish a Pastoral Council with a Primatial Vicar as incompatible with the polity and canons of The Episcopal Church. By doing this they have, in our view, and despite their protestations to the contrary, made a choice to walk apart from the Anglican Communion.

Additionally, they passed a resolution which declares that the meaning of the preamble to the Constitution of the Episcopal Church is determined solely by The General Convention of the Episcopal Church. Through this resolution they are setting The General Convention up as the sole arbiter of what it means to be a constituent member of the Anglican Communion. In other words, they want to be part of the Anglican family, but only on their own terms. We find this arrogance unacceptable and embarrassing.

In the days ahead we, as a Network and Windsor Diocese, will work with the leaders of the Communion and other Communion faithful Dioceses as cooperatively and effectively as possible. Now that the House of Bishops has made it clear that they do not wish to do what is necessary to remain in communion with the rest of the Anglican Communion, we believe it necessary to follow the Primates as they provide a way forward. We believe what is needed is full cooperation with the direction set by the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Primates as it relates to the future of the Episcopal Church.

We call upon all faithful Bishops committed to the Camp Allen Principles listed in the Dar es Salaam Communiqué to publicly recommit themselves to these principles in order to guard their individual diocese’s commitment to the Episcopal Church’s constitution. We urge them to guard the unity of the Communion by moving forward with the schedule charted in the Communiqué by nominating a Primatial Vicar to work with the Pastoral Council. We believe these actions will insure our various dioceses and parishes continuance with the Catholic and Evangelical witness of the Anglican Communion which the office of Bishop is called to protect.

If the Anglican Communion declares that The Episcopal Church has decided to "walk apart" and is no longer recognized as the legitimate expression of Anglicanism in America, we request that the Communion would continue to recognize as constituent members of the Anglican Communion those faithful dioceses and parishes who have committed to maintain our own constitutional commitment to the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Anglican Communion.

We make this request in the spirit of humility and mutual submission to the Bonds of affection that strengthen our Communion. As the Standing Committee of this Diocese, we would be honored and grateful to God and to our brothers in sisters in Christ around the Communion for your consideration of our request for full constituent member status in the Anglican Communion.

There will undoubtedly be difficult days ahead, but working together and trusting in God's gracious mercy, we believe that righteousness and justice will prevail and the Episcopal Church will be restored.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Separated at birth?

YOU decide.

I think Sanjaya is cute.

So is Gallito Mescalito, Padre Mickey's bird!!! Stop shriekkkkkking at me!

Gallito Mescalito scares me.

update 6:40 p.m. --

Leonardo Ricardo said,

Dear St. Pat,

Por Favor! Gallito Mescalito isn't scary...but he is warding off the evil that intends to engulf us from the Global South and "points North, South, East and West" of Duncan Pitts...Gallito's been doing a "top" job of screaching recently by outing some money managing mischief in Colorado!

I think of Gallito Mescalito of a sidekick of San Miguel the Archangel but he *does* has a look similar to the dude (or dudette) in the Mohawk!

I quite agree, dear Leonardo. It's the power of the shriek. It's awesome, and a bit intimidating. I hope Gallito Mescalito's power and protection bleed through my blog and all over the Diocese of Central Florida, protecting us from the Pirate Robert of Pitts, Pirate Peter of Niger and such.

Yes, a sidekick of San Miguel (Saint Michael), our protector, that's Gallito Mescalito.

(Still, he is a little vain about his looks.)

Gallito Mescalito: "SHRIEEEKKKKK!"

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

'Kiss me, baby'

Do you think Sweet Lips will turn into a prince?

Watch out, he's got an even bigger, uglier sister, and they're both poisonous.

from AP:

DARWIN, Australia - An environmental group said Tuesday it had captured a "monster" toad the size of a small dog. With a body the size of a football and weighing nearly 2 pounds, the toad is among the largest specimens ever captured in Australia, according to Frogwatch coordinator Graeme Sawyer.

"It's huge, to put it mildly," he said. "The biggest toads are usually females but this one was a rampant male ... I would hate to meet his big sister."

The frogs, imported from South America in the 1930s, are wreaking havoc on the local ecology.

Monday, March 26, 2007

The word on fashion

Read Saint Pat on the newest fashion trends -- including her own trend-setting choices. Visit Saint Pat's Fashion Fizz.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Brother Causticus to the rescue

While some of have been busy uttering sage words such as "So there!" to poor +++Rowan Cantaur the past few days, the venerable Brother Causticus at Titusoneten has been working furiously behind the scenes to save the Anglican Communion.

His latest quixotic endeavor is here:

Note: double-click on image to enlarge it.

Save the Anglican Communion! Or, at least have a good food fight with the ECW's tea and pastries!

Place your bid now!

Thank you, Brother Causticus.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

A very good dream

I had a very good dream the other night, it was the night after the House of Bishops' communication. It was about my brother, Toby (not his real name).

Those of you who have shared the journey with me the past few years might remember, Toby was gay, and never comfortable with himself about it, which I believe was part of his drinking -- he drank to quell the pain. We grew up in a family that was a combination of Navy and Southern. It had its good points, but we grew up in a homophobic climate, and Toby bore that.

He was an alcoholic.

Toby died of a condition related to cirrhosis of the liver called esophageal varices - internal bleeding. He had already had one bleed I know of, and the doctors told him he would die if he didn't quit drinking, but Toby couldn't quit.

Toby bled out and died summer before last. He had been angry with me, because I pushed him so hard, trying to get him into treatment.

The last time he wanted to come crash at my house, I said no, because he was drinking. When he had come to stay with me times before, he was trying to get sober, and wasn't drinking. I didn't think I could handle him drunk (Toby was a big man), but I was about to relent, when an AA friend said Toby could stay with him. This was for the best, because the AA friend was a no-nonsense, sober alcoholic who could see through all the bullshit, and could handle Toby. This was before the first bleed.

Toby didn't like the AA friend's rules any better than mine, and moved out as soon as he could.

Toby was brusque with me the last time I called him to check on him. During the call, I told him I had a few things from my mother's house I knew he would want -- things he had given her from his travels when he was in the Navy. Toby never collected them, and now, a pair of ceramic Japanese dragons grace my bookshelf.

Anyway, in my dream Toby was alive, and he came to live with me. I was overjoyed, because I knew he was sober and healed of alcoholism's ravages, and he would even be a great help to me. I helped him unload his car of his few clothes and things.

Then Toby explained he had to go to work, and I understood he would be gone for a very long while, but it was all right.

He climbed into his old, black VW Beetle (not a car he had in real life) and left.

I was still overjoyed, because he was OK; everything was OK, and I knew he was leaving because he had to.

After I woke up, I wondered if the Beetle represented the Death Beetle in quirky, subconscious symbolism -- that the Beetle would carry him back the realm of the dead, for now. But it really was all right; he was sober, healed and at peace. And something of his spirit would remain with me.

Making me spew Diet Coke

I've somehow gotten on the IRD's (the Institute on Religion and Democracy, which has nothing to do with either) mailing list. I just grin or grimace at most of their stuff, such as all their attacks on the National Council of Churches, or their mutterings about how liberal Christians are destroying the word. And yes, Mrs. Howard Ahmanson is still on the board -- I just checked -- so we know they're still nicely tied in with Christian Reconstructionist thinkers, as well as political right-wingers of "The only good liberal is a dead liberal" mentality.

This just made me laugh, it's so petulant. I'm printing it as I received it, weird punctuation marks and all. I'm wiping Diet Coke off my keyboard as soon as I publish this:

IRD Calls on the Episcopal Church�s House of Bishops To Take
Responsibility in Its Rhetoric

�Sadly, the bishops apparently are more intent upon blaming the
primates than caring for the orthodox Anglicans in their midst.�
-- IRD Anglican Action Director Ralph Webb

Washington, DC--The House of Bishops met in Navasota, TX, on March 16-21, 2007. It adopted a resolution in the form of a statement conveying the mind of the House on March 20. Both that statement and the House�s March 21 letter to the Episcopal Church reflect a strongly negative disposition towards the February 19 communiqu� issued by leaders of Anglican Communion provinces, who are called �primates.� In particular, the bishops rejected the communiqu�s �pastoral scheme,� which proposes that a primatial vicar be appointed and a pastoral council be formed to care for those Anglicans in the Episcopal Church who could not accept the
oversight of either their bishop or their presiding bishop. The Episcopal
Church intends to conduct church-wide conversations over the next
several months, and the House of Bishops will discuss the communiqu� again
in their September meeting. The primates of the Anglican Communion have
given the Episcopal Church until September 30 to meet the requests!
of the communiqu�.

IRD Director of Anglican Action Ralph Webb said in response,

�The House of Bishops indisputably has sent a negative message to the
primates of the Anglican Communion that does not help to heal the
Communion in any way, shape, or form. On one level, the clarity expressed by
the bishops regarding their disposition toward the communiqu� is commendable. Nevertheless, the actual positions taken by the bishops in an
apparent attempt to reframe the argument are deplorable.

"The pastoral scheme that the primates have proposed aims to, in their communiqu�s words, �facilitate and encourage healing and reconciliation� at all levels in the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion. But the bishops have rejected this healing balm, saying that the primates� pastoral scheme �violates� both the Episcopal Church�s polity and founding principles, and that it �abandons� orthodox Anglican tradition.

�The bishops as of yet have offered no substitute pastoral alternative.
Still, they have charged that �great suffering� has resulted from primates and other bishops acting to meet the pastoral needs of orthodox Anglicans who are either currently in the Episcopal Church or who have left the denomination. Sadly, the bishops apparently are more intent upon blaming the primates than caring for the orthodox Anglicans in their midst.

"We at the IRD call upon the House of Bishops to take responsibility for the Episcopal Church's actions that have proven damaging to the Anglican Communion and stop passing the blame around. Only then can the Episcopal Church even begin to demonstrate its self-professed �deep longing� to continue as part of the Anglican Communion.�

"The Bishops have rejected this healing balm" of the Primate's Communiqué? What planet are they from? It's about as healing as Hitler's panzers rolling through Czechoslovakia.

They want a "substitute pastoral alternative?" How about this: They can always resign from the Episcopal Church and go join CANA or AMiA and swear allegiance to Akinola or whoever. Just say a polite goodbye. But oh, wait, they want the property and the pension funds and so forth. Oh, yeah. That's how this whole thing started.

Your help is requested

Calling all liberal Connecticut people!

Here's a request from advice I'm hoping you can help with. It comes from the "Ask Saint Pat" mailbag.

Good morning,

I just saw something you wrote on father jake's blogspot and you said you would answer questions. Here's one for you. I moved to Ct. 2 years ago after living in NYC for 25 years.

I attended, from time to time, St. Thomas Church on 5th Avenue and felt very comfortable there. It is a big church, but had a diverse group of people and that's what I like.

I now live in Litchfield County, Connecticut and am looking for an Episcopalian church here that leans towards the "liberal" side of things a bit. Do you know of any? Is there any way to find this out aside from going and attending services?

Thank you,

Come on, troops! We're counting on you! It can't be hard to find a liberal parish in Connecticut, can it?

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

"We proclaim the Gospel that in Christ all God's children, including gay and lesbian persons, are full and equal participants in the life of Christ's Church. We proclaim the Gospel that stands against any violence, including violence done to women and children as well as those who are persecuted because of their differences, often in the name of God."

House of Bishops stands up

I am so proud of our House of Bishops for taking a decisive stand and standing up for what is right, and saying "no" to the Communiqué, "no" to the Global South and "no" to the forces of chaos that want to mess with the Episcopal Church.

Furthermore, they want to meet "face to face" with the Archbishop of Canterbury and the members of the Primates' Standing Committee.

I hope they get a meeting with the Archbishop of Canterbury, so they can ask him what he's been thinking lately. They can couch in polite bishop-speak if they want.

And, the House of Bishops stood up and said all God's children, including women and gays, are full and equal participants in God's church, and furthermore, took the primates to task for their failure to stand up against persecution of God's children.

My belief is our House of Bishops heard and heeded the Holy Spirit.

It may sound silly, but I'm just overcome with joy today. I feel like dancing all day.

There's supposed to be more from the HoB later this afternoon. Here's part of what was released yesterday:

Bishops request meeting with Archbishop of Canterbury, Primates' Standing Committee
Three 'mind of the house' resolutions adopted

Tuesday, March 20, 2007
[Episcopal News Service] Responding to the recent Anglican Primates' Communiqué, the Episcopal Church's House of Bishops, meeting March 20 in Navasota, Texas, expressed "an urgent need for us to meet face to face with the Archbishop of Canterbury and the members of the Primates' Standing Committee."

The request came as the second of three "mind of the house" resolutions adopted by the bishops on March 20. The resolutions [full texts here] were debated during the business session scheduled during the House of Bishops' annual spring retreat meeting.

In the afternoon's first resolution, addressed to the Episcopal Church's Executive Council, the House of Bishops "affirms its desire that The Episcopal Church remain a part of the councils of the Anglican Communion" and "pledges itself to continue to work to find ways of meeting the pastoral concerns of the Primates that are compatible with our own polity and canons."

Stating that "the meaning of the Preamble to the Constitution of The Episcopal Church is determined solely by the General Convention," the resolution also declares that "the House of Bishops believes the Pastoral Scheme of the Dar es Salaam Communiqué of February 19, 2007 would be injurious to the polity of the Episcopal Church and urges that the Executive Council decline to participate in it."

The Primates' "pastoral scheme" seeks to establish a pastoral council and a primatial vicar whom the Episcopal Church's Presiding Bishop would name to provide alternative oversight of dioceses -- seven of the Episcopal Church's 111 -- that have requested such a provision.

A third resolution -- a longer text -- enumerates four reasons why the bishops, hoping "we will continue to be welcome in the councils" of the Anglican Communion "nevertheless decline to participate in the Primates' Pastoral scheme for many reasons."

The reasons cite violation of church law and founding principles of the Episcopal Church, fundamental change to the character of the Windsor process and proposed Anglican Covenant design process, and departure from English Reformation heritage and "the generous orthodoxy of our Prayer Book tradition."

The resolution further calls the scheme "spiritually unsound" for its encouragement of "one of the worst tendencies of our Western culture, which is to break relationships when we find them difficult instead of doing the hard work necessary to repair them and be instruments of reconciliation."

Saint Pat's new endeavor

Deciding that the fashion senseless can lead just as well as the fashion mavens when it comes to what real women wear, I have branched out. My new blog is Saint Pat's Fashion Fizz. Go on over and take a look.

Figuring people will clamor for my fashion advice, I set up a fashion 911 e-mail address at AskSaintPat[at]yahoo[dot]com. You know what to put in for the at and dot. You can also send in questions of a spiritual or personal questions, and those will be answered here, at No Claim to Sainthood.

Not to worry, I'm not giving up this blog!

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Remembering Saint Cuthbert

Okay, okay, I know I've been doing female saints, but I really like Cuthbert's story. There's also a neat Web site for the Parish Church of St. Cuthbert in Edinburgh (Church of Scotland) I found while pulling up information on the Celts.
I like the message in the collect for Cuthbert -- its message serves the Episcopal Church well.

The Collect
Almighty God, who called Cuthbert from following the flock to be a
shepherd of your people: Mercifully grant that, as he sought in
dangerous and remote places those who had erred and strayed from
your ways, so we may seek the indifferent and the lost, and lead
them back to you; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and
reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

James Kiefer's bio:


Cuthbert was born in Northumbria in northern England about 625.
One night, while tending a herd of sheep, he saw lights in the sky
which he interpreted as a soul being escorted heavenward by a band
of angels. Later, he learned that Aidan of Lindisfarne (31 August
651) had died that night, and he resolved to enter the monastic
life. He was a monk at Melrose Abbey from 651 to 664, and when the
Abbot, Eata, became abbot and bishop at Lindisfarne, Cuthbert
accompanied him and was Prior there until 676. Although he had
been brought up in the Celtic customs, he accepted the decrees of
the Synod of Whitby in 663, which committed the English Church to
following instead the Roman customs that had been introduced into
Canterbury by Augustine, and so he helped to minimize contention
over the decision. Although his real preference was for the
solitary life of a hermit, he recognized a duty to minister to the
needs of the people about him. Year after year he made long
journeys, on horseback and on foot, to Durham and throughout
Northumbria, and in the regions of Berwick and Galloway, preaching
to the scattered population in remote and sparsely settled areas,
instructing them in the faith and encouraging them in the practice
of it, urging them in times of sickness not to rely on charms or
amulets, but to pray to God and put their trust in His mercy and
love. Like Francis of Assisi, he had a remarkable rapport with
animals, both wild and domestic.

Theodore, the Archbishop of Canterbury, made Cuthbert Bishop of
Hexham, but he was a solitary by nature, and promptly exchanged
bishoprics with Eata so as to remain at Lindisfarne. After two
years, he retired to the neighboring island of Farne as a hermit,
and died there the following year.

The Parish Church of St. Cuthbert adds this to the story:

He preached in Galloway, giving his name to the largest county, Kirk-Cuthbert, now known as Kirkcudbright. He was a missionary as well as a monk and won many for Christ through his conversations rather than by preaching.

Cuthbert was reputed to have the gift of healing and so, wherever he went, people would flock to him in scenes reminiscent of the Gospel Ministry of Jesus.Bede tells us that no one took home with them the burden that they came with.

Tradition has it that, on his journeys, Cuthbert stopped by the shores of the Nor' Loch just below Edinburgh Castle and built a little hut there.If this is so, the present day church of St Cuthbert stands on the same site as his early resting place.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Happy St. Patrick's Day

Faith and begorrah, I meant to post something for Saint Patrick's Day. Before it's too late, I'll tell a couple of jokes I heard at Irish Pub Night at the church:

Wee Colleen was walking the cow down the road. The priest came riding along on his bicycle, and said, "Colleen, now, where do ya be goin' with that cow?"

"I'm taking her to the bull for servicing," Colleen replied.

"Can't your father do that?" the priest asked.

"Don't be daft. You need a bull for that," Colleen said.


Sister Bridget went to Lourdes to soak in the Holy Water and cure her arthritis and bunions. She liked the water so much she wanted to bring some back to Boston with her.

When she started through the airport terminal pulling a five-gallon water jug on a luggage roller, a security officer stopped her.

"You can't take that on the plane with you," the officer said.

He looked more closely at the jug, then took the top off and sniffed it, with a puzzled look on his face. Finally, he dipped his fingers into the water and brought a sampling to his lips for tasting.

"Sister! That's not water in that jug. That's 100-proof gin!" the security officer said.

"Oooh, that Jesus!" Bridget exclaimed. "He's been at it again!"


The village newspaper reporter came out to Paddy O'Brian's farm, after hearing tales of three-legged chickens running the property.

Paddy confirmed it.

"Yes," he said. "I like a chicken leg; my wife likes a chicken leg; my son likes a chicken leg. So I bred the flock to have three legs."

"How do those chickens taste?" inquired the reporter.

"I dunnoo," Paddy said. "We haven't caught one yet."

Today's stray thought

MadPriest recommended

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

He's an optimist

Episcopal bishop has faith that controversy won't split church

The Rev. Don Taylor of the Episcopal Diocese of New York signs prayer books yesterday during his visit to St. James Episcopal Church in Goshen. Taylor doesn’t believe that the controversy between Episcopalians and the Anglican Church will result in a split.

By John Sullivan

Times Herald-Record
March 12, 2007

Goshen — Episcopalians should relax.

They need not worry about a break with their Anglican brethren, said the Rev. Don Taylor, bishop vicar of the Episcopal Diocese of New York.

Taylor said he had faith that American Episcopalians could reconcile gay and lesbian issues that threaten to split them from the larger Anglican body. As in all democratic decision-making processes, differences of opinion can look like division instead of a process toward consensus, he said.

"The (Episcopal Church) is not in a position of kicking people out, it's in a position of reconciliation," said Taylor, one of New York's highest-ranking Episcopal officials.

Taylor's visit yesterday to St. James Episcopal Church in Goshen gave him, as well as local parishioners, a chance to chime in on the controversy.

"There was a time when I couldn't be a bishop in New York, because I was black," said Taylor, whose native country is Jamaica. "But times have changed, because we have allowed people to change and to reach their own conclusions."

Like a majority of New York diocese members, most parishioners supported their leadership's emphasis on inclusion and social justice ...

I hope the Rev. Taylor is right.

A hopeful sign here: Would-be Primate Duncan's missive doesn't seem to be getting play.

Another hopeful sign here: our new interim rector is fairly liberal -- see Campolo quote in last posting. He preaches a good sermon, and seems to be a very nice man, too.

I wonder if we can get this diocese to emphasize inclusion and social justice.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

A quiet evening at home

A dark, rainy Saturday night, and rather chilly for Florida. The saintly household hunkers in for the evening, watching an old movie on TV. Elvis (the big black-and-white Lover Boy) and Betsy (the BEST Dog in The Whole World) take the sofa, but quickly get bored with the spy movie.

"I think I'll nap on the floor for a while," Betsy says.

"Me, too," Elvis says.

Uh-oh. Here comes trouble: Jack the Brat cat.

A cat rumble! One way to pass a dull Saturday night.

"Good grief," Betsy says.

Monday, March 12, 2007

The 456

That's billions, as in $456 billion spent on the war in Iraq, if the current administration gets the money it wants, with $140 billion of it expended in the year 2007.

Total 'national defense' spending would reach $647.2 billion in fiscal year 2008, according to the National Priorities Project.

Meanwhile, "in 2008, the richest 20 percent of Americans will receive two-thirds of the tax cuts, or $143 billion. The top 5 percent will receive 44 percent of the tax cuts, or $92 billion, according to the Tax Policy Center. In other words, seven times the amount of money slated for cuts to domestic services will go toward the wealthiest Americans."

Meanwhile, the Community Development Block Program stand to be cut 35 percent. Other programs, like Head Start, Low-Income Energy Assistance Program(LIHEAP), Special Education,and the Child Care & Development Block Grant also stand to be cut.

Gee, I'm starting to think our leaders care more about special-interest cronies than our citizens. Well, as long as they're raking in profits from the war and paying less income taxes on their booty, I'm sure all will be well.

Following the principle of trickle-down economics, local communities will suffer from cuts to these federal programs. Look for cuts in low-housing assistance and community improvements. The poor get poorer while the rich get to pay less in taxes.

Last week, our new Interim Rector quoted Tony Campolo, saying if we had spent a billion dollars on food, education and medicine for Iraq, how could Saddam Hussein withstood that? How could he have stood up to that outpouring?

$1 billion vs. $456 billion.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Shout it out: Time to get out, time to go

Having vented considerable spleen on the sorry state of the church, Saintly News Service [SNS] now focuses its ire on the state of the country and the sorry war the current administration continues to perpetuate on our citizens and the civilians of Iraq.

In this morning's Washington Post, Shailagh Murray said "Democrats Force single Voice on Iraq."

The new Senate Iraq resolution, unveiled yesterday afternoon, is the latest handiwork yet of Congress's newest "it club": the Senate Democratic war council. The inaugural meeting was called last June by Harry M. Reid (Nev.), then the minority leader. The midterm elections were nearing, and Democrats wanted to answer voters' growing concerns about the war.

The result was a nonbinding resolution offered by Sens. Jack Reed (R.I.) and Carl M. Levin (Mich.) that called for troop reductions to begin by the end of the year. It failed 60 to 39 but represented the Democrats' first major challenge to President Bush's Iraq policy since the war began ...

A nonbinding resolution. That's really telling them.

Well, it's a beginning, maybe. It will take a more cohesive voice than 60-39, in more than a nonbinding resolution, to get us out of Iraq. I feel like joining those protesters camping out at Democrat offices, reading the list of war dead.

Meanwhile, in Wednesday's Miami Herald, Lesley Clark reported Donna Shalala's ESP ( She "sensed?" As in, "I see dead people?") in "Shalala: I sense Bush's `anger.'"

University of Miami President Donna Shalala said this morning she sensed President Bush's fury over reports of shabby treatment of war veterans after she emerged from an Oval Office meeting.

She said Bush wants a speedy -- and comprehensive -- fix to problems facing wounded vets returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Shalala, a Democrat who served as former President Bill Clinton's secretary of health and human services, and former Republican Sen. Bob Dole, who long represented Kansas in the U.S. Senate and was wounded in World War II, were asked by Bush to chair a bipartisan panel to investigate problems at the nation's military and veterans hospitals following disclosures by The Washington Post of poor care of those wounded on the battlefield at the nation's premier military hospital, Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

''He made it very clear that if one soldier doesn't get high-quality treatment and isn't transitioned back into civilian life, or back into the military, that's unacceptable,'' Shalala told reporters outside the White House. ``You could sense his anger and his anxiousness that we move as quickly as possible. . . . It's a broad mandate and Sen. Dole and I are pleased to serve.''

She called the situation an ''embarrassment'' for the country ...

Yes, it certainly is an embarrassment. It's also an atrocity. How long has Mr. Bush been in the Oval Office? He's just now showing presidential pique about the poor treatment of returning war wounded?

The truth is, men and women who return from Iraq with physical and psychic wounds are an embarrassment to the administration, just like the returning coffins Bush & Co. would prefer no one notice. Bureaucrats who like their jobs don't push for the funds to effectively care for these returning wounded. That would only draw attention to a problem the administration would prefer not to acknowledge.

Not that this is a new problem. The same thing happened during and after Vietnam, and it's still happening to those veterans. They're lucky if they can get treatment -- it's often declined -- and indifferent, when offered.

Will the current noise be anything more than a sound bite of sound and fury, signifying nothing?

When the public gaze turns on the problem, there are promises of getting veterans proper treatment, in proper conditions, and a few cosmetic fixes go in. Then things slide back to business as usual. Nobody wants to think about it, and the administration that brought you the bloody and maimed sure don't want you thinking about it. So, no attention -- the wounded are swept back under the rug, to stagnate and suffocate.

None of this will really change without a unified voice. We have to stand up and shout "NO!"

No more to the war, no more to the sorry treatment of returning veterans who honorably served their country. Without the billions spent on this war, there will be plenty of funds to care for the wounded.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

The story of Esther

Looking ahead at the liturgical calendar was pretty depressing, as far as finding a female saint is concerned! There are no feast days for women coming soon. Just for men.

The Bible has plenty of women to celebrate, however.

My Jewish friends recently celebrated Purim (March 3), described as the happiest of all celebrations. Purim remembers the rescue of the Jews from extermination at the hands of the chief minister to the king of Persia. Esther is the chief hero of Purim.

She was an orphan, living in exile in Babylon, which had been conquered by Persia. Esther was taken into the court of the king, as part of his harem. She feared the king, whom she didn't know. However, she overcame her fear of approaching him, which could have brought her death, by fasting and listening to the inspired words of her kinsman, Mordecai. She used wisdom and political skills a young girl could not have had without God's help, to persuade the king to spare her people. She also showed the king who his true enemies were.

So, here's the story of Esther, a gutsy gal, as lifted from the Web site Jewish Apple Seed

In a Jewish Bible, the book of Esther is found in the section called “The Writings,” between Ecclesiastes and Daniel. In a Christian Bible, Esther is contained in The Old Testament, between Nehemiah and Job. Unlike other books of the Bible, the name of God is never mentioned in Esther. It is believed, however, that the events in Esther were so carefully carried out, that only God could have masterminded them.

The story of Purim takes place in Shushan, capital of the Persian empire.

The main characters are:

King Ahasuerus [Xerxes]—reigning king of the empire
Vashti—first wife of King Ahasuerus
Mordecai—a Jewish citizen, Esther’s uncle
Esther—second wife of King Ahasuerus, a hidden Jew
Haman—senior minister to King Ahasuerus
Bigthan and Teresh—ministers to the king
Maidens—contestants in a beauty pageant
Jewish citizens, and Persian citizens

One fine day, King Ahasuerus held a huge banquet for everyone in his kingdom. When Ahasuerus was drunk, he ordered his wife, Queen Vashti, to appear at the banquet wearing her beautiful crown. (Some commentators suggest that this meant that she should wear only her crown!) But Vashti refused. As punishment for Vashti’s disobedience, King Ahasuerus banished her from the palace. To choose a new queen, the king called for a beauty pageant and chose Esther. He married her. She kept her Jewish identity a secret on the advice of Mordecai, her uncle.

The king’s ministers, Bigthan and Teresh, plotted to kill the king. Mordecai learned of their plot, told Queen Esther, and Esther reported it to the king. The king ordered the two plotters to be hanged. King Ahasuerus then chose Haman as his senior minister. Haman demanded complete loyalty of everyone in the king’s service, and ordered all to bow down to him. But Mordecai refused, giving as an excuse that bowing down to another person was forbidden by his Jewish faith. This angered Haman, and he decreed the destruction not only of Mordecai, but of all the Jews of the kingdom.

To determine the day for carrying out the decree, Haman cast lots, or “purim.” The lot fell on the 13th of Adar. News of the decree spread throughout the kingdom, and the Jews were greatly distressed. Mordecai urged Esther to plead with the king to save the lives of her people. Queen Esther summoned all of her courage and went before the king. By using her feminine wiles, Esther persuaded the king to offer her the fulfillment of any wish. She told him about the plot against her people and asked that it be stopped. The king granted her wish and ordered Haman to be hanged. So, on the day intended for their destruction, the Jewish people were saved. To celebrate their survival, Mordecai declared the 14th and 15th days of Adar to be days of rejoicing, from that time forth and for all the generations to come.

Thank you, Lord for the gift of Esther, who bowed her will to yours, and took a path that led her to save your people. Thank you for instilling her with grace, strength and wit to carry out your purpose. Give your church these qualities to carry out your will, as well, always following the path you set for us.

Note: Anybody who has kids may know, VeggieTales did a good job telling Esther's story with humor gratis.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Saint Perpetua's feast day

Today, March 7, we remember Saint Perpetua. For a refresher on her and her companions, look

Just a stray thought

Monday, March 05, 2007

That's a big 'no appeasement' to the primates
(politely worded)

The response from the Episcopal Church to the primates' communique´ is forming, and making it clear, the church will try to work with and remain in the Communion, but not at the expense of the gay and lesbian members of the Episcopal Church. Furthermore, the committee looks askance at the primates' tactics and demands of the church.

This is very good news for those who have been hanging on, and waiting, good news for those who have wanted a word of encouragement that the church will not desert them.

It's the word all of us who desire to be part of an inclusive church need to hear.

In related news, the Diocese of New Jersey expressed regret for the now-infamous B033: From an ENS article today, by Neva Rae Fox:

"After a lengthy debate which drew over a dozen speakers plus the introduction and subsequent defeat of two amendments, the Episcopal Diocese of New Jersey approved a resolution at its Convention March 3 that "expresses its deepest regret for the pain and anguish suffered by our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters, their families, and friends, due to the adoption of [General Convention] Resolution B033."

The resolution also called to "offer forgiveness to each other and to others in the world-wide Anglican Communion as we seek to enter into deeper levels of communion with one another."

From the March 4 report of Executive Council's meeting, by Mary Frances Schjonberg:

The Episcopal Church's Executive Council, at the close of its three-day meeting in Portland, Oregon, acted "clearly to affirm that our position as a church is to welcome all persons."

"We wish clearly to affirm that our position as a church is to welcome all persons, particularly those perceived to be the least among us," the Council said in a letter to the Church issued at the end of the meeting. "We wish to reaffirm to our lesbian and gay members that they remain a welcome and integral part of the Episcopal Church.

"Further, we offer our prayerful affirmation to all who struggle with the issues that concern us: those who are deeply concerned about the future of their Church and its place within the wider Communion, and those who are not reconciled to certain actions of General Convention. We wish to reaffirm that they too remain a welcome and integral part of the Episcopal Church."

The letter said that the requests made by the recent session of the Primates Meeting "raise important and unresolved questions about the polity of the Episcopal Church and its ecclesiology."

"The questions facing us raise significant concerns for members of the Episcopal Church," the letter acknowledged ...

The Council authorized the appointment of a work group to consider the role, responsibilities and potential response of the Executive Council to the issues raised by the Primates. The work group will make a report and recommendations at the June 2007 meeting of the Council.

The Executive Council's letter was drafted by a committee appointed by Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and House of Deputies President Bonnie Anderson. It included Kim Byham (Diocese of Newark), the Rev. Gay Jennings (Diocese of Ohio), Bishop Wilfrido Ramos-Orench (Diocese of Central Ecuador), the Very Rev. Petero Sabune (Diocese of New York), the Rev. Winnie Varghese (Diocese of New York) and Belton Zeigler (Diocese of Upper South Carolina).

The entire Council discussed the draft, asked the committee to give it a second version, which the committee produced after about 45 minutes. The Council then approved the second version with no discussion. Council member Bishop Jon Bruno (Diocese of Los Angeles) and Bruce Garner (Diocese of Atlanta) were invited to join the second draft discussion.

During the discussion about the first version, Ziegler told the Council that the drafters worked "very hard to balance our statements of concern" for various groups within the church who may support or oppose the actions of General Convention.

Garner called for a clear statement about the continuing inclusion of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people in the Episcopal Church. He said that the statement was needed because gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people were "targeted" by the communiqué issued by the Primates after their Tanzania meeting. Those people are feeling "very vulnerable" and worried that they have been cast out of the Church or will be "exiled" soon.

He recalled that while being in church on Ash Wednesday he found it "painful for me to keep replaying parts of that communiqué and wondering if I was welcome in that place." Garner said that if he, who has felt for years that he was welcomed in the Episcopal Church, wondered how new members of the church must be feeling.

The Rev. F. N. "Butch" Gamarra (Diocese of Los Angeles) told the Council that he was conflicted between the desire to work for remain open to reconciliation and the "elephant in the room," which he said was the fact that the Church is getting "hammered" for being inclusive.

The people in the pews need to hear from the Council that "we are not appeasing" people whom he characterized as bullying and disrespecting the Episcopal Church, he said.

"The language is terribly important to people in the pews," said Bettye Jo Harris (Diocese of Hawaii). She described how her son feels as if he's been driven from the Church since the communiqué was issued.

In her closing remarks to the Executive Council, Jefferts Schori urged the members to live in the abundance of God's grace rather than in a model of scarcity. An attitude of scarcity can prompt "violent responses" because scarcity makes us feel that "our very lives are at stake."

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Reflecting on the PB's statements

I managed to hear a good chunk of Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori's address yesterday. I've been mulling it over, and the staff briefing she did a few days earlier.

Bishop Katharine is, I think, trying to take the long view and see the big picture. She's cognizant she's bishop of a diverse group, and is striving to minister to the church as a whole.

Though she obviously values the Communion and doesn't want to "strain the bonds of affection," she's not going to let the either primates or the schismastic bishops in this church goad her into anything. The P.B. has made it plain the response is not hers to make, but the Episcopal Church's -- including the House of Deputies and the House of Bishops. Therefore, she's not giving them any answer right now. I believe she'll rebuff any demands they make of her now. (And they're trying.)

The presiding bishop is prepared to handle whatever scenario she's handed. If the church tells her the price being asked of it is too high, she'll proceed with that, without any hesitation. If the church tells her it wants to remain in the Communion and work things out best as possible, she'll unhesitatingly comply with that. If the Global South gets its way and cuts the Episcopal Church out of the Communion, she's ready to deal with that.

I hope I'm right. The Network bunch are already pushing hard, talking as if the communiqué is law, not a communiqué, and as if we are under the dominion of Akinola and Co. I hope she'll stand up to them. I pray she will, and be the defender to those who are vulnerable.

Dear Lord, grant our Bishop Katharine the strength, the will, the wisdom and the clarity of mind to do your bidding. Help her maintain the calm and determination necessary to hear your voice and obey. Let her hold high the shield, to protect your church and lead us through this difficult time. Place a hedge of protection around her, and keep her safe from all the assaults of evil.

Teach us all your will, dear Lord, and help us remember that we do not see things as you do, nor do we know what you know. Teach us to be gentle as doves and wise as serpents. Help us to love through it all, as you would have us do. Give us the grit to accomplish what you would have us do, acting as your servants. In Jesus' name, Amen.