Saturday, October 31, 2009

MSNBC: "U.S. churches pave way for Catholic switch"

MSNBC, has this piece regarding the Vatican's announcement of a soon to be issued Apostolic Constitution, providing new and expanded provisions for receiving orthodox Anglicans (including married priests) who wish to convert to the Roman Catholic Church.

I have yet to comment publicly on this development and may wait until the Apostolic Constitution is issued before doing so. But the Vatican's announcement has already attracted a great deal of media attention and become a hot topic in Anglo-Catholic circles. The MSNBC piece reflects on this development, as seen from the standpoint of a Texas parish that has already converted under the Roman Catholic Church's existing Pastoral Provision for Anglican clergy and congregations.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Opinion: Reid’s health care scam may be still-born.

People (and there are a few who have e-mailed me recently—well, okay, it was only one, but I was trying to make him feel better) who think my blog is sometimes too political need to realize that blogs are all about the free expression of ideas. Read that last part again slowly: FREE. EXPRESSION. OF. IDEAS.

Those one or two people That one person won't like this piece that I received via e-mail either. But, in the immortal words of that great philosopher Alfred E. Neuman, "What? Me, worry?"
Reid’s health care scam may be still-born.

Some are almost feeling sorry for the hapless Harry Reid – perhaps the dumbest person to ever hold the position of Senate Majority Leader. Harry just never quite gets it right.

He humiliated the entire Democrat Senate membership by getting them each to sign his letter demanding the firing of conservative talk show host, Rush Limbaugh. It was a stupid act, of course, and Limbaugh deftly turned it around and left poor Harry with egg all over his face and splattering every Democrat Senator as well.

Of course, poor old Harry unilaterally surrendered to the radical Islamic terrorists in Iraq – declaring on his own that “this war is lost”. Subsequent events proved Harry totally wrong and demonstrated what most observers had guessed – Harry is not the sharpest knife in the drawer, brightest bulb in the lamp, or whatever other disparaging comparison you care to make.

Harry is not only truly dumb, he works hard proving it.

His latest fiasco is a health care “reform” bill that seems to be going nowhere. When he called a news conference to announce his bill, he stood alone at the mike, no other senator joined him. We should have read the obvious signs. Harry took that occasion to “compound his felony” by contending the GOP had no health care reform bill if its own. The claim was an out and out lie, of course, but it also overlooked the fact that on Capitol Hill, sometimes the very best answer to bad legislation is a resounding “No”. This is especially true when liberals hold the majority, and is particularly accurate in the case of liberal efforts to steal health care from real Americans. Liberals such as Reid, want to gain government-run care – a plot that would lead to single payer healthcare – the euphemistic description of the very flawed Canadian version of socialized medicine.

If Reid and other liberals have their way, kiss quality health care goodbye. Government is an eternal enemy of quality and that is particularly true in the case of healthcare. Socialized medicine is notably void of a most important element of care: compassion!

Sound health care requires honest concern and empathy – elements bureaucrats have absolutely no time for. At all.

Reid’s announcement received a resounding “thud”. This coming as it did, only days after news outlets ran over and over a video of Reid and Pelosi emerging from a White House huddle in which Pelosi makes no attempt to hide or disguise disgust and revulsion when Reid put his hand on her shoulder as a collegial signal they were on the same song sheet. Clearly they are not and just as clearly, even Pelosi has little regard for Reid.

Reid’s health care reform scheme included the dreaded “public option”. Such inclusion meant automatic rejection by any and all Senate Republicans – even Olympia Snowe and her partner from Maine – the only two really liberal Republicans on Capitol Hill.

Reid had hoped to have Snowe’s support, but has made it very clear that with NO GOP vote on the issue, he is fully prepared to impose his bill on America without GOP support and without any honest debate. He has the votes – or had them until Joe Lieberman stepped to the plate and hit a home run for normal America by announcing he would join Republicans in a filibuster of Reid’s bill. Liberman’s courageous move was a catastrophe for Reid’s bill and probably seals its fate.

Lieberman is quite unique, of course. Despite having been a Democrat Vice Presidential candidate, he jumped switch in the last election because of his opposition to Obama’s weak or non-existent strategy for our wars in the Middle East. Lieberman knew the reality and knew no responsible leader could accept the non-strategy promoted by Obama. He was unwilling to do what was politically the thing to do, and eschew party loyalty in order to stand for what is right.

That support for our effort and our troops in combat earned Lieberman ouster from the Democrat party. He now serves officially as an “Independent” but caucuses with Democrats. After all, when all is said and done, Lieberman is a liberal on social issues, Yet he is clearly a man of honor and conviction. He chooses to do what is right when “going along” with his Democrat friends would be easier.

Lieberman was so moved regarding support for our troops, he even campaigned extensively for McCain. Now he goes a step farther.

Lieberman’s defection robs Reid of his 60 votes – and amount necessary to act without fear of filibuster by Republicans. Lieberman says he will join any such filibuster on this particular issue.

“Hapless Harry” said in a TV sound bite: “Joe Lieberman is the least of my concerns”. If this is one of the rare moments in which Harry knows his subject, then he has a lot of very serious problems of which we are unaware. With Lieberman opposed, Reid’s bill is probably as dead as his letter demanding Rush Limbaugh be fired.

Surely the voters of Nevada will relieve this nation from the troublesome and embarrassing wart that is Harry Reid.


I couldn't have said it better myself.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Of Red Queens and Hornets' Nests

All the people who didn't like the now-changed title of my last post need to head on over to Lark News, where you will find items like this one:
Presb. Church USA launches ambitious plan to lose only 5% of members

LOUISVILLE — The Presbyterian Church (USA) has launched a campaign to slow the rate of decline to 5 percent, according to the denomination.

"People at the grass roots need hope and motivation," says a spokesman. "This is a positive goal we can all get behind."

The Minus 5 Campaign aims to lower the attrition rate in spite of the denomination's continued struggle with moral issues, which has led to even greater exodus of members. Instead of losing 12 to 15 percent of members every decade, the group will now "work in great unity and joy to lose only five percent."

"This is the rallying cry we've been needing," says a pastor in Pittsburgh, Pa. "It's heartening to people at the local level to know we're determined not to shrink as rapidly."

Of course this article is satirical (with a definite element of truth in it), as was the title and now-deleted quotation from Alice in Wonderland in my previous post. But both items are probably sufficient to demonstrate that church bureaucrats have VERY THIN SKINS and ABSOLUTELY NO SENSE OF HUMOR!!!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Bishop Ackerman, the Presiding Bishop, and the Canons

[A number of people have commented that my original title and introductory satirical quotation were a distraction from some very valid observations regarding the Presiding Bishop's actions toward Bishop Ackerman, hence this updated version.]

Today, a very godly and humble Bishop, the Rt. Rev. Keith Keith L. Ackerman, received communications from the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, accepting his "renunciation of ordained ministry." There is only one problem: Bishop Ackerman never had any intention of renouncing his ministry.

I know from speaking with Bishop Ackerman that he sent the Presiding Bishop a handwritten letter merely asking to have his credentials transferred to the Diocese of Bolivia. He said that he had no intention of renouncing his orders and that, while he intends to assist Bishop Lyons in work in Bolivia, he also wished to remain available to assist bishops in the United States, as requested.

The Presiding Bishop says that “...there is no provision for transferring a bishop to another province.” But that is not true. Title III, Canon 10, Sec. 2, provides for the reception of “Clergy Ordained by Bishops of Churches in Communion with This Church” by means of Letters Dimissory and states:
(3) The provisions of this Section 1 shall be fully applicable to all Members of the Clergy (emphasis mine) ordained in any Church in the process of entering the historic episcopal succession with which The Episcopal Church is in full communion as specified in Canon I.20, subject to the covenant of the two Churches as adopted by the General Convention.

And a subsection states that the churches from which such a clergy may be received includes:
(i) those duly constituted Dioceses, Provinces, and regional Churches in communion with the See of Canterbury,

So if the Episcopal Church can receive clergy (and bishops are included when it says “all Members of the Clergy”) from other provinces of the Anglican Communion by means of Letters Dimmisory, then it can issue those same letters when a bishop or other member of the clergy transfers to another province of the Anglican Communion.

And, of course, the Episcopal Church has transferred clergy to other provinces of the Anglican Communion throughout its history. If one reviews the clergy list in The Episcopal Church Annual in most years one will find a section listing “Clergy Transferred to Other Churches” with the country or province to which the clergy have transferred given in parentheses. For instance, if you look in the 2003 Annual you find the name of the late Peter Toon followed by (England), because the Rev. Dr. Peter Toon, who continued to live and minister in the United States until his death earlier this year, transferred his canonical residence back to England in 2002.

Further, it is not even necessary for the Presiding Bishop to be involved in transferring a bishop to another province or diocese elsewhere in the Anglican Communion.

CANON III.10.2(a)(2) provides only that Letters Dimissory be issued by “the hand and seal of the Bishop with whose Diocese the person has been last connected.”

That a resigned bishop (such as Bishop Ackerman) may transfer to another diocese is indicated in CANON III.12.8(i) which states:
A resigned Bishop may, at the discretion of the Bishop of the Diocese in which the resigned Bishop resides, and upon presentation of Letters Dimissory from the Ecclesiastical Authority of the Diocese in which the resigned Bishop has had canonical residence most recently, be enrolled among the Clergy of the new Diocese, and become subject to its Constitution and Canons including being given a seat and vote in the Diocesan Convention, in accordance with its canonical provisions for qualification of clergy members.

This Canon demonstrates that Bishops are considered to have canonical residence in a diocese and that this canonical residence can be transferred by means of Letters Dimissory. Consequently, the “Ecclesiastical Authority of the Diocese in which the resigned Bishop has had canonical residence most recently” (presumably the “Provisional Bishop” of Quincy) could have transferred Bishop Ackerman to Bishop Lyons in Bolivia by means of Letters Dimissory and his transfer have been recorded without any recourse to the Presiding Bishop or the purported “renunciation” which the PB is now asserting.

It will be remembered that the Presiding Bishop also erroneously asserted that Bishop Henry Scriven renounced his orders when he returned to England. (See 1, 2, and 3.) If the Presiding Bishop would only have bothered to check for precedents in how such tranfers were handled, she could have avoided the scandal of, once again, misinterpreting the canons.

Friday, October 02, 2009

It's an ancient/future thing.

This week at Nashotah House, we have had our annual retreat. The leader for our retreat has been the Rt. Rev. Donald J. Parsons, Professor Emeritus of New Testament and former Dean and President of Nashotah House, who went on to serve as Bishop of Quincy from 1974-88. Now 87 years old, he is as active and as keen of mind as men 30 years his junior—and full of wisdom and wit. It is always a delight when Bishop Parsons is with us!

The theme of Bishop Parsons' retreat meditations was Christ's Ascension—the event that a few Christians actually go to church and celebrate on the Thursday before Pentecost Sunday, but that is overlooked and undervalued by many. The other night, Bishop Parsons talked about the significance of the Ascension—how it demonstrates the reality of Christ's Incarnation. If God entered the world by taking on flesh in the Incarnation, and if he was crucified, died, was buried, and rose again on the third day; then, unless he was to begin his earthly reign at that point, his earthly existence had to have an end. And that end was his Ascension back to heaven, where he sits at the right hand of the Father.

Of course some, including certain liberal bishops, have mocked the idea of a literal Ascension, just as they disparage the necessity of a bodily Resurrection. One such bishop has gone so far as to say that, if Jesus went up into the sky, and even if he traveled at the speed of light, then he would still have a long way to go even to leave our galaxy, so he can't be in heaven (wherever that is.)

But if Jesus was going to return to the Father in heaven, how should he have gone? Should he have simply disappeared? No, that might have signified that he was an illusion or a ghost? Should he have gone down into the earth? What would that have signified to those who were present? No, he ascends, which his disciples would have known signified going to a higher, better place. Similarly, in saying that Christ is now seated at the right hand of the Father, the aim isn't to tell us about the arrangement of the furniture in heaven; it is to tell us that Jesus, who has ascended, now reigns with the Father's favor and authority.

The Ascension demonstrates the reality and the physicality of the Resurrection. If Jesus' body still remained in a tomb outside Jerusalem, then the Resurrection is merely a metaphor for the immortality of the soul. But if Jesus rose bodily then he had to ascend if he was to leave this world. But, of course, Christ did ascend and 10 days later sends the Holy Spirit to indwell and empower his Church.

Sitting there listening to Bishop Parsons' meditation, I had a sense of what it must have been like to listen to the Apostle Paul teach one of the New Testament churches about the meaning of Christ's Ascension for the very first time. It was a blessed moment. It transcended time and space. And during that moment it didn't matter whether we were in the first century or the twenty-first century—we were simply Christians.

We're doing a new/old thing—an ancient/future thing—at Nashotah House. It is called Christianity. And it feels great!
"Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you.
Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever."
(Hebrews 13:7-8)