4/11/2014

Shameless bragging rights department: Matthew Harris, Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship 2014

Matthew_harris_pict_150x150Matthew P. Harris (aka son of Mark and Kathryn Harris) has been granted a Guggenheim Fellowship for 2014.  See the statement about him HERE.


Parental units are fantastically pleased.

Bragging rights are included and sent to us by separate registered letter.


Congratulations Matthew!  

Now, explain just how your work on genetics and evolution influence the course of the debate on the filioque clause. Anglican and Episcopalian theological minds want to know. Or barring that, what does the study of zebra fish tell us about the proper date of Easter?




4/10/2014

The Moral Compass has location.

In a now infamous radio show the Archbishop of Canterbury said several things for which he has been taken to task (I have highlighted several sentences):

" I think as I said at the beginning of the programme, on a similar question, one of the things I recognise very much from the work I do, is what we say here is heard around the world. And, people really worry about what we say here, because for historic reasons we’re linked, not just the Anglican community but particularly that, but we’re linked to churches all round the world. And so, before we make a major change in how we understand what we should do, we have to listen to people, and go through a process of consultation and talking to people, and listening very carefully and praying, and without predetermined outcomes. Well, why can’t we just do it now? Because, the impact of that on Christians in countries far from here, like South Sudan, like Nigeria and other places, would be absolutely catastrophic, and we have to love them as much as we love the people who are here. And, at the same time, we have to listen incredibly carefully to the LGBT communities here, and listen to what they’re saying, and we have to look at the tradition of the church, and the teaching of the church, and the teaching of scripture, which is definitive in the end, before we come to a conclusion. But, we’re not in a position just to suddenly say, okay our position in this country has changed, we are one of the great international groups that there is in this world, we are massively, majority, not in England.
 

JO: I mean, okay, a gay Christian listening to you there, may have heard the message that he or she can’t marry their partner in their church because of the conniptions it would give to some African, dare we say, less enlightened people in Africa.

JW: Well, I don’t think we dare say less enlightened actually, I think that’s a neo colonial approach and it’s one I really object to. I think it’s not about them having conniptions and getting irate, that’s nothing to do with it. It’s about the fact that I’ve stood by a grave side in Africa of a group of Christians who’d been attacked because of something that had happened far far away in America, and they were attacked by other people because of that and a lot of them had been killed. And, I was in the South Sudan a few weeks ago, and the church leaders there were saying, please don’t change what you’re doing because then we couldn’t accept your help, and we need your help desperately. And, we have to listen carefully to that, and we also have to listen incredibly carefully to gay people here, who want to get married, and also to recognise that any homophobic behaviour here causes enormous suffering, particularly to gay teenagers, something I’m particularly conscious of at the moment, and we have to listen to that very carefully and work out what we do. All I’m saying is it’s really not a simple issue, there’s a huge danger in trotting out simple solutions to really complicated issues which have huge effects on people’s lives."

---------------
I've been thinking on all this and offer the following fairly untidy comments concerning the Moral Compass:
 

John Donne wrote, "No man is an island," and that is as true as it gets. Everything relates to everything, and everyone to everyone.
 

Still, every human being is located somewhere, and many of our locations are separated from others by great distances, both physical and metaphysical. More importantly, the physical locations in which we find ourselves also effect the force with which our influence is felt on others, and theirs on us, and distance - physical and metaphysical - matter.

There is some truth to the saying "all politics is local" and its corollary "all church is local." We interact with others with diminishing effect over space and time. Meeting, greeting and eating is all best done in location.

Apparently the Archbishop of Canterbury thinks otherwise. In an interview with The Anglican Journal in Canada he said,

"We need to learn to live as a global church in a local context and never to imagine that we're just a local church. There is no such thing."

The Archbishop believes (as far as I can tell) that the Anglican Communion is a global church with local branch offices. Well, that's his opinion of the matter. But it is not shared by all of us. Some of us believe the Anglican Communion is a fellowship of churches (all local and specific) living out our locations mindful of a global metaphysical reality, the church of Jesus Christ, aka the church catholic, and mindful also of a subset of that church, namely those local and specific churches historically and theologically linked to the Church of England.

We need to learn to live as a global church in a local context and never to imagine that we're just a local church. There is no such thing.

The moral compass may indeed implicate all of us in each others lives, but I believe it places greater responsibility on the near at hand. The priest or the scribe that go by, not helping the one who fell among thieves, may be doing so because some one else "out there" would not condone their actions or see them as impure, but that has less standing morally than the "local" situation in which the one who fell among thieves was in need of help.

And, although it may be argued that violence inflicted on someone on others near at hand may be a product of fears, frustrations, angers or xenophobic response to something done "out there", that is no moral out, because the matter is local - violence is up front and personal. People kill other people in location, and that has moral consequences that far outweigh the possibilities of distant "causes." There may be emotional concerns that modify the level of condemnation of violent action, but the local facts-on-the-ground outweigh them.

We sometimes think we know that. But then of course we have our fall back position, which is that we excuse our violence precisely on those fears and hope it gets us off the hook.

Shooting a black youth because of fear of black youth doesn't erase the fact that the moral compass points to the immediate act in its local context, where it is not a killing, but murder. But people get away with murder all the time by claiming that the moral compass points to some larger issue than the murder itself. The justifications for murder are many, but they all point away from the local reality, which is that one person killed another with murder in mind.

So it is not surprising that those who are reported by the Archbishop of Canterbury to have killed the Christians in some village in South Sudan would blame it on Americans, somehow believing that Christianity is a western disease and that it is a carrier of cultural liberality, and that local Christians are going to infect their neighbors with immorality. Not surprising, but wrong.

Murder is a local event, and those who killed the Christians in that village are murders. Not Americans, not Christians, not some distant thunderers, but real individual people who ought to be called to account.

Of course, if Christians in South Sudan are an infection in the local context, if they are indeed free in Christ Jesus and that freedom is a challenge to local custom and moral life, then local reaction can take violent form.

But supposedly these Christians were killed not because they were immoral but because Christians in America are immoral and by implication all Christians are.

That is why, on one level, the Archbishop is rght. What we do has effect, whether or not we like it or even consider it rational, elsewhere in the world.

The Archbishop believes that many commentators took his radio remarks out of context. In the interview with the Anglican Journal he was asked,

" Q: Were you in fact blaming the death of Christians in parts of Africa on the acceptance of gay marriage in America?

A: I was careful not to be too specific because that would pin down where that happened and that would put the community back at risk. I wouldn't use the word “blame”— that's a misuse of words in the context. One of the things that's most depressing about the response to that interview is that almost nobody listened to what I said; they mostly imagined what they thought I said...It was not only imagination, it was a million miles away from what I said.

Q: So what exactly were you saying?

A: What I was saying is that when we take actions in one part of the church, particularly actions that are controversial, that they are heard and felt not only in that part of the church but around the world...And, this is not mere consequentialism; I'm not saying that because there will be consequences to taking action, that we shouldn't take action. What I'm saying is that love for our neighbour, love for one another, compels us to consider carefully how that love is expressed, both in our own context and globally. We never speak the essential point that, as a church, we never speak only in our local situation. Our voice carries around the world. Now that will be more true in some places than in others. It depends on your links. We need to learn to live as a global church in a local context and never to imagine that we're just a local church. There is no such thing."


And yet (as I am sure the ABC would agree) this does not excuse murder, local and specific, unless, of course, you believe Christians are a carrier of a disease that can only be stopped by killing the carrier. This is a short slippery slope to a special hell, where (evil) murder becomes (good) killing because safety requires the extermination of a whole class of people. This way to a brave new world of extermination schemes.

My first thought then is this: Why didn't the Archbishop say, "and I protested vigorously that these killings were murder and that the perpetrators ought to be brought to justice"? That is, why didn't the ABC move the conversation back to the murderers as the primary cause of the murder?

Well, perhaps in private, away from the crowd, he did. But what we have here is an unchallened report of an event (murder) whose justification was that American Christians (who must be just another version of these dead Christians here) are a blight on the moral universe.

And interestingly the ABC, in the Anglican Journal interview, never denied the question raised, namely "Were you in fact blaming the death of Christians in parts of Africa on the acceptance of gay marriage in America?" He noted that "blame" was not an appropriate word to use here.

Well, what he said in the radio interview was, "I’ve stood by a grave side in Africa of a group of Christians who’d been attacked because of something that had happened far far away in America, and they were attacked by other people because of that and a lot of them had been killed."

The ABC is right. He didn't use the word blame. Instead he said, "Christians...attacked because of something that had happened far far away in America...attacked by other people because of that and a lot of them had been killed."

He made the cause -effect connection, and left it to the hearer to interpret and place blame where the listener might wish to place blame.

Well, there it is.

The notion that what we do "here" (wherever our location is) is potentially catastrophic for people elsewhere (say Southern Sudan or Nigeria) is perfectly valid, and those who suffer as a result of our actions have every reason to be ticked off. That's why colonialism and neocolonialism is so insidious. We in the North and West seem perfectly capable of bringing catastrophe in all manner of ways, not the least of which is by way of claims of moral superiority. We will pay dearly for our arrogance, as well we should.

And yet Christians world wide are continually charged with liberality, and why not? After all we Christians do indeed challenge every local moral system in the world, including those systems of the Church as well. Beating up on Christians, killing them, driving them away, and so on happens in many different circumstances and locations and often for the same reason: locally and specifically Christians challenge every system that limits the scope of the law of love.

There it is.

We do indeed need to be morally accountable for the way in which we spread our particular sensibilities, particularly remembering that some of them are very new to us as well and not as well practiced as we assume. And yet we do give offense because Christ at his most welcoming will welcome the enemies of any society as well as the friends.

The question remains: Why didn't the Archbishop of Canterbury think it important to challenge the notion that because of something that had happened far far away in America ... they were attacked by other people ... and a lot of them had been killed". Why didn't he say, "murdered?" Why didn't he say, "The murders claim it is because in America Christians have allowed same sex marriage and the ordination of gay people, but that is no excuse for murder. Murder is murder, period."

Well, he didn't.

And then we get the following: "I was in the South Sudan a few weeks ago, and the church leaders there were saying, please don’t change what you’re doing because then we couldn’t accept your help, and we need your help desperately." Now the argument turns to a kind of inverted threat.

The argument is that if the Church of England were to acting in what they perceive as immoral ways those in need couldn't accept help, and that help is desperately needed, so don't bless same sex relationships or appoint gay bishops.

What a weird argument. I suppose we must begin by acknowledging that the Church of England does a great deal of good in the world. Help is desperately needed, and the CofE and the Anglican Communion as a whole is good at responding. So there is a desire to help and the hope that such help will be recieved.

Again, the moral compass is mostly directed to immediate engagement among real people, up close and personal. If there is no way to distinguish between the value of the aid and the moral stance of the giver then most aid has to be rejected.
 

There are good reasons to reject aid, but if receiving help is dependent on the moral uprightness of the giver we are all in trouble. But we are really in trouble if we try to cobble together our credentials as moral persons to the money or aid we give.

I can't even begin to go down that road. But I must say I wish the Archbishop of Canterbury would. I wish he would say more about what he thinks of a plea that his church not make a particular decision so that those needing help could receive that help from "moral friends". Maybe we should make it clear that there is no "clean" aid. Every bit of help in the world comes from fallen and sinful folk, indeed some help is a direct result of the desire to do compensatory good deeds. The moral economy of aid is a difficult area to discuss.

But I am convinced that help, like church, like politics, is mostly local. And those of us who would help from afar need to engage locally so that our help is help given to friends - people we know on the ground, locally, and for real.

The Archbishop has a wildly difficult job. He is the primate of the Church of England and an instrument of unity for the churches in the Anglican Communion. He will be hounded by all sides for as long as he holds the job. What I think we need from him is for him to lead his own Church in a way that reflects pastoral care locally, in such a way that people elsewhere will say, "See how he loves the people and the church in England" and Christians elsewhere will think, "perhaps we too can love people and Church where we are with as much grace."

The Archbishop of Canterbury is first the lead bishop of the Church of England. It is all about location. The church as manifest is always local. I suppose the moral compass for the leader of the Anglican Communion is no longer local, but the Anglican Communion is not a church and the Archbishop has no mandate to be the moral compass for this wild and wooly group of churches, save the moral compass that comes by example.

I think the Archbishop could do well at that - leadership by example. There the moral compass has entirely local and specific location - the mind of Christ working in us, each individually, and from us to the whole body of the Church spiritual.

4/08/2014

Archbishop of Canterbury to speak at conference on Violence, and we can wonder what he might say.

The Archbishop of Canterbury's website posts the following, concerning the Archbishop's itinerary while in the US primarily to visit with the Presiding Bishop:

On Wednesday, the Archbishop and Mrs Welby fly to Oklahoma City where Archbishop Justin will meet with the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, the Most Revd Katharine Jefferts Schori.

While in Oklahoma City, Archbishop Justin will participate in a conference organised by the Diocese of Oklahoma, Reclaiming the Gospel of Peace: An Episcopal National Gathering to Challenge the Epidemic of Violence.

The Archbishop will address the conference on Thursday, after which he will have lunch with Bishops of the Episcopal Church attending the conference. Archbishop Justin will also pay a brief visit to the Oklahoma City National Memorial.

According to the conference schedule, the Archbishop will speak on Thursday to a plenary meeting at 9:00 AM and at 11:00 AM he and the Presiding Bishop will hold a "media" conference.

Given the Archbishop's confusing, rather odd and widely criticized comments on a talk show last week, his remarks will be of some considerable importance.  

His comments on the talk show related violence against Christians in parts of the developing world to a reaction against positions taken by Christians, concerning inclusion and same sex marriage, in England and the US. The ABC cautioned against taking positions that put Christians elsewhere in the world in danger.  He did not have much to say about the injustice of those whose violence lead immediately and directly to the death of innocent people.  

There has been massive criticism of his comments, and we can hope that he will further address the issue in his remarks or at the media conference. 
On Wednesday, the Archbishop and Mrs Welby fly to Oklahoma City where Archbishop Justin will meet with the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, the Most Revd Katharine Jefferts Schori.
While in Oklahoma City, Archbishop Justin will participate in a conference organised by the Diocese of Oklahoma, Reclaiming the Gospel of Peace: An Episcopal National Gathering to Challenge the Epidemic of Violence.
The Archbishop will address the conference on Thursday, after which he will have lunch with Bishops of the Episcopal Church attending the conference. Archbishop Justin will also pay a brief visit to the Oklahoma City National Memorial.
- See more at: http://www.archbishopofcanterbury.org/articles.php/5290/archbishop-of-canterbury-visits-anglicans-in-canada-and-the-usa#sthash.ax8dGs5P.dpuf

4/03/2014

The Archbishop of Canterbury to visit with the Presiding BIshop of the Episopal Church

According to reports from the Anglican Church of Canada, the Archbishop of Canterbury will visit with the Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church on April.

The report, from the Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Journal pages reads

"He (The ABC) will leave early the following morning (April 9th) to meet in the United States with Bishop Katherine Jefferts Schori of The Episcopal Church."

The Archbishop of Canterbury has decided to meet with all the primates prior to a joint meeting of the Primates, apparently in order to clear the air a bit and perhaps  build a commitment by all the primates to play nice and actually come to the meeting.

The Office of Public Affairs  made this announcement last September:


The Episcopal Church
Office of Public Affairs
Monday, September 23, 2013
Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori announced to the House of Bishops that the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby will be visiting The Episcopal Church in April 2014 for personal visit with her.
“The Archbishop of Canterbury has contacted me and we are planning a private discussion next April,” Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori told the House of Bishops currently conducting its fall meeting in Nashville, TN (Diocese of TN).
Archbishop Welby plans a personal visit to the Presiding Bishop in 2014 to provide an opportunity for informal conversation. This planned visit is part of his effort to visit all the Primates of the Anglican Communion during the first eighteen months of his ministry.

Current plans call for the Presiding Bishop and the Archbishop to meet in Oklahoma City, OK (Diocese of Oklahoma). The visit is expected to correspond with the churchwide conference, Reclaiming the Gospel of Peace: An Episcopal gathering to challenge the epidemic of violence April 9 – 11, at the Reed Center and Sheraton in Oklahoma City, OK (Diocese of Oklahoma). http://www.episcopaloklahoma.org/ . The Archbishop has been invited to offer greetings at the beginning of the conference.
Additional scheduling details will be announced later."

So, it is now seven days  before the scheduled meeting. What are the details?

Well, it turns out that David Virtue has some of them:

" In keeping with his promise to visit all his fellow Archbishops around the Anglican Communion over the coming year, the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby will make his first official visit to the Episcopal Church in April as plenary speaker at a special Episcopal Church gathering, Reclaiming the Gospel of Peace: An Episcopal Gathering to Challenge the Epidemic of Violence.

He will meet with Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori and a number of TEC bishops April 9-11 at the Reed Center and Sheraton in Oklahoma City, OK (Diocese of Oklahoma). The plenary speakers and plenary addresses, presentations, workshops and panel discussions will examine violence in all its forms in society, with a hard look at what can be done to alleviate the situation.

The conference will see a line-up of The Episcopal Church’s liberal glitterati. The media has been invited and while media credentials are required, no personal interview requests will be granted, presumably to avoid the asking of hard questions to the ABC or Jefferts Schori. This begs the question: Why bother spending money on plane fares and hotels if you can’t ask any one-on-one questions to the main players? Bullet dodging used to be an art form for the PB, but clearly neither she nor Welby wants any awkward questions from a bull-nosed reporter like yours truly."


Well, aside from the rants of David Virtue, the question still remains: what are the scheduling details of the Archbishop's visit to the US?

There is a media advisory concerning a press conference  by the PB and the ABC. I presume this is what set David off.

"Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby will address members of the media on Thursday, April 10 at 11 am Central.
The media conference will take place in Oklahoma City, OK during the churchwide conference, Reclaiming the Gospel of Peace: An Episcopal gathering to challenge the epidemic of violence at the Reed Center and Sheraton in Oklahoma City, OK (Diocese of Oklahoma). 
Media credentials are required. Contact Neva Rae Fox, publicaffairs@episcopalchurch.org .
No one-on-one or personal interview requests will be granted.
For more information, contact Fox at publicaffairs@episcopalchurch.org
The Episcopal Church: www.episcopalchurch.org
Facebook: www.facebook.com/episcopalian
Twitter: www.twitter.com/iamepiscopalian
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/EpiscopalChurchYT

But there is no itinerary, no agenda yet published (at least as far as I can find.)

So, who is the ABC visiting while in the US?  What is the itinerary in the US, re his visit with the Presiding Bishop?    
Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby will address members of the media on Thursday, April 10 at 11 am Central.
The media conference will take place in Oklahoma City, OK during the churchwide conference, Reclaiming the Gospel of Peace: An Episcopal gathering to challenge the epidemic of violence at the Reed Center and Sheraton in Oklahoma City, OK (Diocese of Oklahoma). 
Media credentials are required. Contact Neva Rae Fox, publicaffairs@episcopalchurch.org .
No one-on-one or personal interview requests will be granted.
For more information, contact Fox at publicaffairs@episcopalchurch.org
The Episcopal Church: www.episcopalchurch.org
Facebook: www.facebook.com/episcopalian
Twitter: www.twitter.com/iamepiscopalian
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/EpiscopalChurchYT
- See more at: http://www.noodls.com/view/99519D3C6C0E4C08CC240B82DC37E80829ADFAD8?618xxx1395417943#sthash.U6wKvdbx.dpuf
Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby will address members of the media on Thursday, April 10 at 11 am Central.
The media conference will take place in Oklahoma City, OK during the churchwide conference, Reclaiming the Gospel of Peace: An Episcopal gathering to challenge the epidemic of violence at the Reed Center and Sheraton in Oklahoma City, OK (Diocese of Oklahoma). 
Media credentials are required. Contact Neva Rae Fox, publicaffairs@episcopalchurch.org .
No one-on-one or personal interview requests will be granted.
For more information, contact Fox at publicaffairs@episcopalchurch.org
The Episcopal Church: www.episcopalchurch.org
Facebook: www.facebook.com/episcopalian
Twitter: www.twitter.com/iamepiscopalian
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/EpiscopalChurchYT
- See more at: http://www.noodls.com/view/99519D3C6C0E4C08CC240B82DC37E80829ADFAD8?618xxx1395417943#sthash.U6wKvdbx.dpuf


He will leave early the following morning, to meet in the United States with Bishop Katherine Jefferts Schori of The Episcopal Church. - See more at: http://www.anglicanjournal.com/articles/archbishop-of-canterbury-awaited-in-canada#sthash.66JDqJYm.dpuf
No major public events are planned, in keeping with Welby’s request that the visit be a private one. His itinerary for April 8, the one full day of his stay, will include a morning visit to the Sisters of St. John the Divine Convent, a private luncheon in support of Canterbury Cathedral and an afternoon meeting with General Synod leaders at the national office, followed by a reception with staff. Welby will then go to the Cathedral Church of St. James in downtown Toronto for an ecumenical vespers service at 4:30 p.m. and a meeting with ecumenical leaders from Canadian churches.
In the evening, he will attend and speak at a reception and dinner with Canadian Anglicans involved with the work of the Anglican Communion at Cathedral House.
He will leave early the following morning, to meet in the United States with Bishop Katherine Jefferts Schori of The Episcopal Church.
- See more at: http://www.anglicanjournal.com/articles/archbishop-of-canterbury-awaited-in-canada#sthash.tGGdF6Xt.dpuf
No major public events are planned, in keeping with Welby’s request that the visit be a private one. His itinerary for April 8, the one full day of his stay, will include a morning visit to the Sisters of St. John the Divine Convent, a private luncheon in support of Canterbury Cathedral and an afternoon meeting with General Synod leaders at the national office, followed by a reception with staff. Welby will then go to the Cathedral Church of St. James in downtown Toronto for an ecumenical vespers service at 4:30 p.m. and a meeting with ecumenical leaders from Canadian churches.
In the evening, he will attend and speak at a reception and dinner with Canadian Anglicans involved with the work of the Anglican Communion at Cathedral House.
He will leave early the following morning, to meet in the United States with Bishop Katherine Jefferts Schori of The Episcopal Church.
- See more at: http://www.anglicanjournal.com/articles/archbishop-of-canterbury-awaited-in-canada#sthash.tGGdF6Xt.dpuf

4/02/2014

I am an Anglican, and Episcopalian, and a companion of Jesus.

I am an Anglican, an Episcopalian and a companion of Jesus (AEcJ).  All three.  At the same time.

I continue as an AEcJ in spite of various rants, mostly from the puritan / fundamentalist side of the aisle, but also a bit from the progressive / modernist gang as well.

It is, as far as I am concerned, a miracle that I have any time at all for the rants, or for that matter with most of what passes for righteousness in the organized church.

It is a miracle too that God gives the gift of the joys and that I can receive them.  Blessed be the Source that frees me from preoccupation with the ranters and the panters after right belief, right thinking, right being.

I am AEcJ because of rather simple joys, some exemplified by small events of this past week. I am an AEcJ by means of Grace. That's the way it is supposed to be.

Some simple joys experienced:

(i) Being an Episcopalian, whose church
"is far from intending to depart from the Church of England in any essential point of doctrine, discipline, or worship; or further than local circumstances require,"
I was delighted to attend Sung Evensong this last Sunday at St. Peter's, Lewes, the little town on the bay by the big waters. It was both beautiful and simple, and spiritually very reviving.


It reminded me of walking down country lanes to Ripon Cathedral for Evensong in better days with friends who now are distant sometimes adversaries.  Perhaps in the future we will walk again on some village lane to Evensong.

But for the time being the continuation of what is true, and pure and lovely about prayer and song in an English Church is still available, still incarnate, on this shore, in small churches that live out what is fine about Anglican worship. And it is done by Episcopalian Anglicans, of which I am one.

Product Details(ii) I am just now in the middle of reading a rather impressive book by Lawrence Duggan, titled, Armsbearing and the Clergy in the History and Canon Law of Western Christianity. It is no one's idea of a mild book.  

It is robustly scholarly, filled with the assumption that the reader will spend the time looking up the odd word or two PER PAGE that is unusual and new. But it is fine, filled with a love of those people whose faith was mixed so completely with the foibles of being merely human as to make them interesting, even in the context of canon law and a seemingly arcane topic. 

The relevance of Duggan's research is for me its connection to the moral stance of the larger mass of Christian believers, the baptized, rather than that of the clergy. Armsbearing is a faith issue for the whole church. 

And it has made me think again about a project I took part in at the Church Center in the mid 1980's to revise the materials given to those considering conscientious objection to bearing arms. Our concerns were not about clergy bearing arms, but about Christians doing so. The issues raised in Duggan's book bear on this larger issue of faithfulness as Christians, and I wish we had had it then.  

The delight in this book, and the delight in receiving it as a gift from the author, again made me realize how much I am an Anglican and Episcopalian and a companion of Jesus, and how those facts are bound deeply to the long struggle of the "Western Church" to stay true to its rootedness in Jesus.  I am glad that as an AEcJ I belong to a community of believers that have a long history of trying to be true to the faith, not once delivered, but every day delivered, to the Saints.

(iii)  I've taken up another book, one which I only this week found, although it came out in 2006. It concerns the struggles to find a way to communicate beyond the limits of the various "positions" taken by Anglicans and Episcopalians on various issues. 

Common Prayer on Common Ground: A Vision of Anglican Orthodoxy written by Alan Jones, is a wonderful reminder that being an Anglican and an Episcopalian and a companion of Jesus can be an amalgam that serves the faith well.  

I have considerable problems with Dean Jones' decision to couch his argument in camps labeled "conservative" and "liberal."  There is a certain straw dog factor in his set up. But under the surface Dean Jones returns again and again to the notion that Anglican Orthodoxy is not about gnawing particular bones of orthodox doctrine, but about having doctrine in service to conversation, in service to a larger engagement that converts all who join to something greater that doctrine, to perhaps the Truth that is deeper than truths we hold. I think he is right on.

             (iv) In preparation for a Holy Walk with Lakota friends and young people from St. Peter's on Lakota land, I am reading "The Pipe and Christ," written by  William Stolzman.  It was recommended by Margaret and Joel Watson, and for good reason.

Anglicans, Episcopalians and Companions of Christ, all need to be clear that conversation, particularly with peoples informed by experience and the land in ways different from our own, must not  be a one way street. Perhaps the most persuasive conversations about Christian belief is dependent on first appreciating the world as others see it.  

Chapter eight of The Pipe and Christ, "Lakota Spirits and Christian Theology" is a fine example of speaking of Christian truths in a way that is open to Lakota spiritual experience.  

The book is by a Roman Catholic, but the spirit of the book is, I think, shared by the Anglican and Episcopalian tendency to a generous orthodoxy, one in which the way forward is always in community and conversation. 

(v) And from there I think on being Anglican and Episcopalian and a companion of Jesus and the experience of little things in the blog world:  

I am delighted to be listening (deeply I hope) to a bishop, Dan Martins, who sits far from me, as pertains to the surface of the current unplesantlnesses, and learning from his growth into that office how close we really are. 

It has been a delight to see the development of Peoples Prayers as a home grown theologically interesting source of reflective engagement. 

I find Margaret's  "Leave it lay where Jesus flang it" perhaps the most consistently deep source of reflection on the life of a country priest that I read these days. 

Each of these continues the ongoing effort to be Anglican, Episcopalian and a companion of Jesus, in remarkable ways. And of course there are so many more.

What is most encouraging about these writers (and the many others out there) is that they all believe it is possible to be the amalgamated union of these strands - a church grounded in the English faith experience, a church American in its actual experience, and a church whose members care more about being a companion of Jesus than they do any of the above.

So I leave Evensong refreshed, find connection with ancient struggles to be in the world but not of it, remembering that the doctrines may not have been as important as the Holy Spirit present in the words formed in song, and that my companions of every stripe are singing as they can in this strange land where we are not finally at home.

The Joy, I suppose, about being an Anglican and an Episcopalian and a companion of Jesus, is the joy of knowing that in the long run (perhaps the very long run) all our efforts will be some sort of reasonable faith offering.

A Practicum on being Anglican, Episcopalian and a companion of Christ in a time of controversy:

There is very little of the Archbishop of Kenya's recent letter on marriage to commend it as Anglican, Episcopal or Companionable to Jesus, at least it seems this way to me. Read it HERE

His opinions about marriage,  homosexual unions, the changes in English and Kenyan laws, polygamy and so forth are his opinions. Good conversation can result from such opinions being clearly stated. Fine. But I believe his underlying stance towards Holy Scripture and its meaning is astoundingly mistaken.

And, yet my sense that the Archbishop is wrongheaded is unsatisfying. Division doesn't seem to be enough.  I think  Margaret is right,

"Division is the worst statement church can make. Each of us running to our own corner. Because that is merely living in to the Lie.

The Great Lie that we can be happier, more fulfilled and live as the Body of Christ without each other.

What do we need to do for that sea-change --that culture shift in the church?

I am not entirely sure. Frankly, I don't have the time to think what the church might look like and how it might function in order to engage in the necessary reformations of our time (I just do too many funerals to do so... really.) But I am confident that all the energy to reform the way the church functions is merely a distraction until and unless we put the gospel --and Christ crucified and Christ resurrected right in the middle of it all."


And so, in a good Anglican, Episcopalian and Companion of Jesus sort of way, I have to ask, when and how can the Archbishop of Kenya and some of the rest of us connect by way of Christ crucified and resurrected "right in the middle of it all"?  Until that happens his rant, and mine, just sit there, smoldering.

And then there is the effort to reform the structures of the Church by way of a re-imagining process. TREC (the Taskforce on Re-imagining the Episcopal Church) is hard at work. 

The question is, is it a distraction? Is Margaret right? I think so. And not simply because the distraction draws us to the peculiarities of conflict in this particular time in Anglican Episcopal land, but because it distracts us from death and resurrection.

No resurrection, no re-imagining.  But no death of the old (the bones of dearly hoarded doctrines), no resurrection.

So we find ourselves back to doing the ground work in which we really have to engage others.  

In a simple church where people sing and pray and bleed out their lives and hearts, we hear just now some ancient ones. We engage for a moment the aspirations of so many whose positions on issues of the day are very unlike our own. And yet the ancient words are a comfort.

We engage a whole host of fellow travelers, the people of the history of the church.  Many of them were cranky sinners, but then again, so are we. In their struggles we see our own.  

Hopefully we engage people we grievously wronged and try to find a way to walk and talk together on their land. Perhaps there is conversation that will contribute to our healing and theirs.

We blog forward into unknown places with companions of Jesus whose wisdom makes us wiser.






Maybe the place to begin the practice of being Anglican, Episcopalian and a Companion of Jesus is to pray and sing and listen to stories of death and resurrection. There is always time to converse and be converted, but let those conversations grow from the deep soil of holy living.

And I am Anglican, Episcopalian and a Companion of Jesus.

Mostly.