Mr Bill pays a visit to Anglican Land (a small meditation on two churches.)

Somebody looking like Mr. Bill paid a visit to this little village in Anglican Land today. He called himself Mr. Bill. He began by saying, "I am not a bishop, nor do I play one on TV." An honest guy, Mr. Bill, still he looks pretty good in the rented hat, don't you think? We asked him to take it off, it made us nervous.

Mr. Bill explained that he is just another regular paid up Episcopal lay person, kind of expansive in a proper Episcopalian sort of way. You know, he spreads his arms wide in welcome and said there is room for us all. Sometimes when he does that it looks like he is telling a fish story, or worse. You know, "It was that big!"

But as he began to talk about his sense of things in Anglican Land it became clear that he was confused as to just what was going on and how it would effect him. Mr. Bill knows what an Anglican is - it's a Christian who thinks the way of being church that came from the English experience was pretty good, since it was broad enough to include all sorts of people. Anglicans believe mostly that God will sort us out in the end, but that right now we ought to go fishing, and try not to tell to many tall tales about the size of the fish we catch. Mr. Bill thinks of himself as an Anglican and an Episcopalian. This confuses his Methodist friends no end.

Mr Bill prayes from the Book of Common Prayer, although he has never used the BCP of 1662, since it has never been used in the Episcopal Church. He saw one in a museum once. It looked pretty good for a book 300 years old. The thing is, some are saying that the BCP he is using is inadequate and not really Anglican. He thinks this is too bad, since he has really gotten into saying the Daily Office and he'd hate to have to give it up for something else. He sometimes gets to read the Bible in church. He really likes that. It's an honor to do that, he says, because the Bible is the witness of God to everybody.

Mr. Bill also likes to Praise the Lord, and not only when they sing "And I will raise them up" in "I am the bread of life" but in lots of songs, and sometimes in prayers. Mr. Bill is a bit pentecostal. It's okay, 'cause it's a wide church and he feels welcome. Sometimes he thinks standing in the back of the church when he does this is better, otherwise people who don't know what is going on with him wonder what he is signaling. Mr. Bill is not practicing being arrested or trying to tell the ushers that he really has to go to the bathroom and can he be excused.

He often crosses himself in the Eucharist, usually when the Priest does, but Mr. Bill is dyslectic and sometimes just can't seem to remember which hand to use or which way to cross himself. He was surprised to find out that it made a difference to some people which way you did this and that if they didn't like the way you did it you could find yourself not invited to the table. Mr. Bill was sad to learn this because in Anglican Land, as far as he knew, it was alright either way, and the fact that he got confused was alright too. Mr. Bill could just muddle along.
Mr. Bill says back home his priest is a woman. Some people think that's a big deal, and he remembers when he was a kid that there weren't any women priests. But now he just wonders why there ever was any issue about women as priests.

Mr. Bill is not the world's greatest theologian, but he tries. Still, sometimes he has trouble with the words of the creed and kind of wishes that he didn't have to say them without really getting the point of it all. So sometimes when it comes to a phrase like "very God of very God" he sighs, and sometimes when he gets to "proceeds from the Father and the Son" he tries to cross his fingers behind his back. He has trouble doing that because Mr. Bill really wants to say it right. He understands that this part has been a difficult thing ecumenically and that the BCP will drop "the Son" the next time the BCP is up for a rewrite. If it makes others happy that we do that he thinks its probably OK, but he's not sure. He may continue to cross his fingers. Still, he figures the Episcopal Church is up for the change if it will help.

Mr. Bill was really sad to hear that things were difficult in the Episcopal Church these days. Remember, he says, he is not a bishop nor does he play one on TV. He is not a theologian either (although Dr. Thompsett says we are all theologians). But when he heard yesterday that Bishop Duncan was deposed, his first reaction was, "oooooooh nooooooo!" And then he turned kind of neon blue. He wished it had not had to happen.

Mr. Blue got to thinking about the fact that he likes the prayer book in the Episcopal Church and is glad he can cross himself badly, and raise his hands in prayer, and be part of a church that can change something like the Creed to an earlier version and the prayers to something like a new version. He wonders just why some bishops don't like the Episcopal Church the way it is and either leave or get told to leave.

He remembered that there were all sorts of things that he did that were a little different from some other Episcopalians and some other Anglicans, but he wondered if any of the problem was because people had different Christian practice and other people thought those practices weren't really proper for Christians at all. Maybe he needed to practice how to make the sign of the cross, or stop raising his hands (except when they sang that song). Maybe he needed to study the creed more so he didn't cross his fingers EVER. Maybe he'd better get a copy of the 1662 BCP. He had thought the church was broad enough to include him, but maybe not. Maybe he needed to change.

So he got to thinking: Maybe there are two churches here -

The one Church says, "Stick to the basics - the Bible, the 1662 BCP, with no women priests (although everyone in this church is not sure about that) - with a church that is not as wide as it has become and as broad as some have allowed it to become."

People in this church say they are the future of Anglicanism, the carriers of the faith once delivered. They say the Episcopal Church is so filled with error that, "You can hold anything you want as long as it is not the faith once delivered." Mr. Bill couldn't believe anyone part of the Episcopal Church would say that, but he heard Bishop Duncan say exactly that in an Anglican TV interview on Tuesday. It made him really sad. Maybe that's why Bishop Duncan felt he had to leave, and maybe that's why he was told to leave. Mr. Bill doesn't know.

The other Church says, "We pray together, read the bible together, sing together, some of us make the sign of the cross and others don't, some raise their hands in praise, others don't, some of our priests are women, some are men, we work at believing and say the creed, and we try to be as wide in our welcome as we possibly can, knowing that the Church might turn out different than we supposed.

This Church does not know if it is the future of Anglicanism, but it believes it has the spirit of Anglicanism in being as broad and inclusive as possible. This church thinks that maybe being an Episcopalian is not the be all and end all of Christian livinging anyway but is glad to be a church with bishops for the people of this land. It wonders why the other Anglican church seems to feel that it doesn't hold the faith. This Church knows that all have fallen short, but that Christ is present anyway.

Mr Bill knows that sometimes this kind of wide breadth of thinking leads to some confusion and that sometimes odd things get said, but he thinks there are ways to stay together in all this. He figures that it is kind of like his own problems with not knowing how to make the sign of the Cross or exactly what the creeds mean. In the whole body of the Church, he thinks, it will all come out in the wash. This Church is glad to say it is The Episcopal Church, and thinks maybe the faith once delivered is delivered still in the community that comes together for eucharist and life. But, Mr. Bill says, "What do I know? I'm just a regular church person."

I'm glad Mr. Bill came to visit. If there are two churches, I'm with the second. Mr. Bill thinks he is too. I can't help noticing that throwing his arms out wide he may not look much like a bishop, but he kind of looks like a candidate for a cross. Let us hope his yoke is easy and his burden light.

I hope yours is too.

(Apologies to Mr. Bill the cartoon guy.)


  1. This is one of the greatest posts I've read in a very long time. Thank you!!

    Signed: A friend of MR. Bill.

  2. Only one nit. Duncan was not told to leave.

    Being told you can't be a bishop is not the same thing as being told you should leave. Nixon couldn't be president anymore, but that didn't mean he had to renounce his citizenship.

    Indeed, what kind of a Christian is it who says, "If I can't be a leader, I don't want to play at all?"

    This applies in two situations that matter to me. One is Duncan and those like him.

    The other my advice to the liturgically deviant: "Follow your ordination vows, or renounce them honorably."

  3. "We pray together, read the bible together, sing together, some of us make the sign of the cross and others don't, some raise their hands in praise, others don't, some of our priests are women, some are men, we work at believing and say the creed, and we try to be as wide in our welcome as we possibly can, knowing that the Church might turn out different than we supposed."

    How about that! That's a good description of CANA!

  4. By the way - this is clever and very well done. I suspect it will be circulating on your "side" for quite a while - as it should.

  5. A good description of CANA, Phil?

    You forgot the part where CANA's archbishop says

    "I wish the church had some law-enforcement agency we could encourage to arrest the arrestable, to jail the jailable, to banish the banishable

    (In all of the cases above---the arrestable, the jailable, the banishable---the Archbishop of CANA is referring to me)

    Lord have mercy!

    [Mark, methinks maybe you should be making apologies to Padre Mickey's Dance Party, too? ;-/]

  6. How can a church be “broad and inclusive” when it has no room for evangelicals or Anglo-Catholics/Catholics only liberals?

    It appears that this church is hung up on politics and practice not the gospel. Has anybody mentioned Jesus to this attendee? Has anyone mentioned the words of Jesus “You must be born again”?

  7. It's a good job that Mr Bill appears to be very bendy.

  8. anonymous at 19/9/08 8:56 PM -

    I must say, you have put the spit in my fire. Honestly..."Has anybody mentioned Jesus to this attendee? Has anyone mentioned the words of Jesus 'You must be born again'?"

    Perhaps Mr. Bill was raised as a Trinitarian...and therefore knows that when he says "God" it means the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. He doesn't single out Jesus, because that would somehow seem incomplete. Perhaps he wonders if people who focus so exclusively on Jesus only worship the third they understand - the part that was once human flesh. Perhaps he recalls from Scripture that Jesus taught us to worship the Father.

    And maybe he doesn't quite understand about being "born again." Because he doesn't ever remember a time when he didn't believe in God, or love the three-in-one God. He only understands that God is with him every day, and often makes the world seem new again.

    And maybe - just maybe - he really does live the Gospel. Perhaps his credo is the two great commandments, as taught by our Lord, Jesus Christ: "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and all thy soul, and all thy mind. The second is like unto it: though shalt love thy neighbor as thyself."

    And maybe, just maybe - he wonders why you want to make God so very small. I sure do.

  9. It is a lie, purely and simply, to say TEC has no room for evangelicals or Anglo-Catholics/Catholics only liberals.

    Room was made - much greater accomodation than any other hierarchical church would've made - and the Reasserters (not evangelical, as they have no Good News for us, and Catholic only so far as those around them agree with them) betrayed that trust by attempting a coup in TEC.

    There is always room for conservatives in TEC, but no group will long tolerate those who seek only to destroy their community.

  10. ^lynn,

    Thank you


  11. the church has plenty of room for Anglo Catholics. I'm one.

    I think of St. John's in Boston, or the Church of the Advent in Boston, or Advent San Francisco, or St. Mary's in Times' Square. Or All Souls in Washington DC. Or St. Thomas in Hollywood. Or half the Episcopal churches in Chicago.

    Yes, there is certainly plenty of room for Anglo-Catholics in the Episcopal Church. Not sure what Mr. Anonymous is talking about on that score.

  12. Excuse me but where in my post do I say I believe that God is very small.

    Surely the foundation of the Christian church is Jesus and it is Jesus who is with us every day. He and the Father are one.

    Maybe Bill is not a Trinitarian but has Unitarian leanings like Pluralist. Perhaps he believes that Jesus was just a Rabbi and not the Son of God.

    If Bill does not understand about being born again why does his church not teach him?

    “Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.
    Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born?
    Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
    that which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
    Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.
    The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.
    Nicodemus answered and said unto him, How can these things be?
    Jesus answered and said unto him, “Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things?”

    In my version
    In reply Jesus declared, I tell you the truth, no-one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.

    Reader “Are you born again?"

  13. Even in the most strictly policed of denominations where members are regularly tested on their beliefs down to the smallest doctrinal tittle, I can guarantee you that no 2 people in the same pew believe exactly the same thing in exactly the same way. No matter how strict and how thorough the Holy Office, you can't change human nature.
    We are saved, not because we can pass a pop quiz, but because we're blundering sons of bitches and God loves us anyway.

  14. I agree with Lynn.

    The God of "Anonymous" is way too small, too small even to post a name.

  15. I just don't get that people assume that 'Anglo-Catholic' means only 'conservative' (that is what I am inferring from Anonymous' comment). I am an Anglo-Catholic in my liturgical tastes (as is the parish I serve) and I am also a woman priest and worse, in a partnered, legally sanctioned civil union (VT) with a woman. So, as far as I am concerned, there IS a place for Anglo-Catholics... but I guess for those Anglo-Catholics who don't want women priests and all the rest, it's a bit harder to find oneself.

  16. I just don't get that people assume that 'Anglo-Catholic' means only 'conservative' (that is what I am inferring from Anonymous' comment). I am an Anglo-Catholic in my liturgical tastes (as is the parish I serve) and I am also a woman priest and worse, in a partnered, legally sanctioned civil union (VT) with a woman.

    With all due respect, Anglo-Catholicism is more than a taste for bells and smells.

  17. Anonymous said, "“Jesus answered and said unto him,..."

    Let me quickly add that even Satan can quote the scripture. Better find reason and tradition in there someplace bud.

  18. "It is a lie, purely and simply, to say TEC has no room for evangelicals or Anglo-Catholics/Catholics only liberals".

    Wait 'til GC '09 when the insanity in the name of us all gets spewed into sweeping guilt-ridden resolutions. That famous activist body will prove that there is little to attract anyone BUT a liberal.

    So, does this mean that the thousands of members in the Diocese of Pittsburgh CAN decide if they want to remain in TEC?

    Now that Bishop Duncan is gone, gone will be the rationale that one man can decide for the whole.

  19. I don't get that some people think that Anglo-Catholic has more to do with smells and bells than a theological position as it relates to the church Catholic.


  20. Mark, you totally rock! Thanks for making my Saturday morning!

  21. Mark, I thought I had left a comment, but perhaps it did not go through. I love your story of Mr. Bill, the Episcopal lay person. I'm sure that Mr. Bill, the cartoon guy, is flattered by the words about his Doppelgänger.

  22. Mark -- this is wonderful! Thanks so much!

    Mr. Bill will always be welcome in our parish, which I believe and hope is also a part of the "second" church.

    Note to a couple of the other commenters: Being Anglo-Catholic is not about bells and smells. It is also not about misogyny and homophobia, and certainly not about biblical literalism.

  23. This could only have from the wonderful, wacky, wise mind of Mark Harris. This is, at once, delightful and intelligent. Well done

  24. Of course the labels Anglo-Catholic/Catholic have theological implications and are more than a 'smells & bells' liturgical choice. To claim that there's no place for Anglo-Catholicss or Catholics in a broad & inclusive church defies the reality of the parish in which i worship. To imply that 'liberal' is somehow exclusive of a catholic theology is simply either ignorance or willful mischaracterization.

  25. Let's not forget that TEC is also the home of innovators such as Bishop Barry Beisner. Good Bishop Beisner (wasn't he thrice married?) gave his consent to a "Pirate Eucharist" at his cathedral in Sacramento. As though the mysteries of Christ aren't interesting enough, the good bishop authorized a service which blasphemes beyond any reasoned imagination...for the sake of innovation and drawing others in. You know, to be relevant to a culture that has yet to figure out what it is or what it wants.

    And this man deposed Robert Duncan.

  26. This is great! Thanks!!

  27. Oh, can I just add here, as I can't on Susan Russell's blog, that while the Protestant position would be that Bishop Duncan is now Mr. Duncan, the Catholic position is that once ordained, always ordained. While I find it fascinatingly instructive that most reappraisers do not agree with my position, most Anglo-Catholics (the 2 or 3 that remain in TEC .. maybe Bishop Iker and his family?) do. I note this as a pointless point of order.


  28. Good Bishop Beisner (wasn't he thrice married?) gave his consent to a "Pirate Eucharist" at his cathedral in Sacramento.

    Source, please?

  29. Oh, can I just add here, as I can't on Susan Russell's blog, that while the Protestant position would be that Bishop Duncan is now Mr. Duncan, the Catholic position is that once ordained, always ordained.

    While ordination imparts an indelible stamp, as it were, to the one ordained, I believe that it is customary NOT to use ecclesiastical titles with clerics who have been deposed/laicized.

    In the words of the Canons, "Deposition shall mean a Sentence by which a Member of the Clergy is deprived of the right to exercise the gifts and spiritual authority of God's word and sacraments conferred at ordination." So while deposition can't revoke Duncan's ordination, it does revoke permission for him to use the gifts imparted in ordination. To put it in Catholic terms, Duncan's Masses and other sacramental acts are valid, but illicit. And along with the spiritual authority, go niceties like the titles "Bishop" and "Father."

  30. billyd,

    Because you asked:

    Trinity Cathedral Special Service for September 19th-

    What a Pirate Eucharist shreds the liturgy into and how it defames the Trinity, and our salvation through the Cross-

    (Note that Christ was only "keel-hauled" rather than crucified and died. One could survive keel-hauling as a punishment. Kinda lessens what the Cross was and is).

    The fact is that fake accents, costumes, and exaggerated texts in this "liturgy" all diminish the Christian message and call attention to themselves more than the mysteries of the Eucharist. If this mockery has to be explained any further as to its disgrace then I have my answer as to why this Church is as sick as it is.

    Bishops must give their consent to any change in the liturgy outside of the Book of Common Prayer. Bishop Beisner, therefore, approved this service (if they still follow the canons in that diocese).

  31. "Let's not forget that TEC is also the home of innovators..."

    Remind me once again who is proposing lay presidency at the Eucharist? Who is it that regularly uses terms like "sacramentalist twaddle" about The Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar?

    How "liberal" is the Most Calvinist Bishop of Sydney?

  32. Allen, I would agree about the Pirate Eucharist, if I for a minute thought that it truly existed outside the pages of Mark Schweitzer's fiction (keep poking around at sjmp.com and you'll see what that is).

    The inclusion of the item on the Trinity calendar looks like a joke to me. A joke in pretty poor taste, but a joke; it's not listed in the newsletter for that date (which was International Talk Like a Pirate Day). If it were true, don't you think that The Living Church, or even the Sacramento Bee, would be running with it?

    Here's a quote from the Episcopal Cafe: The Lead can reveal that today - just hours before he jets off for America in what could be a turning point in the future of the Anglican Communion - the Archbishop of Canterbury will meet with a rag-tag group of renegades, scoundrels and peglegs in the bosum of Lambeth Palace. The meeting will conclude with a "Pirate" Eucharist led by the Archbishop. The list of invitees was written in invisible ink.

    A spokesman for Dr. Williams said: “It should come as no surprise that t' Archbishop be meetin' pastorally with scurvy swabs. Such encounters extend starboard across t' range o' civil and uncivil society. Few o' these encounters ever reach t' public domain. That be as it should be.”

    Now, do you believe that that story's true, too? After all, it's on the interwebs...

    If your first reaction on reading that item in the Trinity Cathedral calendar is that it is true, then either (a) you are extremely gullible, or (b) you are eager to believe the absolute worst of your brothers and sisters.

  33. Oops!

    I humbly apologize, allen.

    I followed the link you provided after sending my comment, thinking that it was to the same page of the Trinity calendar I had seen before. It wasn't. On the face of it, it appears that Trinity Cathedral really was the site of a Pirate Eucharist, complete with costumes and "piratese" throughout.

    I am still clinging to the hope that this wasn't actually the Pirate Eucharist found on the St. James Music site. Maybe the children (there's a picture of a child on the page you linked to) came in pirate costumes, but it was a regular Mass. Or maybe it was the only the sermon that was delivered in a bad Dorset accent.

    Or maybe, just maybe, the Diocese of Northern California has truly gone off the deep end, and someone there thinks that a Pirate Eucharist is the perfect way to glorify God and provide our link with the sacrifice of Christ on the Cross.

    At any rate, you can't be blamed for taking their newsletter at its word, and I ask for your forgiveness. Until more details are forthcoming, I'm holding out for one of the more benign alternatives I've mentioned.

  34. "The fact is that fake accents, costumes, and exaggerated texts in this "liturgy" all diminish the Christian message and call attention to themselves more than the mysteries of the Eucharist."

    Remind me once again which break-away parishes like to use Powerpoint slides and sound-and-light shows during the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar? Since when did speaking in "tongues" become catholic and liturgical? And who was it who tore out all the altars from the churches of a particular archdiocese down under and replaced them with "communion tables"?

    Razzle dazzle 'em indeed!

  35. "What, Mr. Bill, you believe that the Bible and Christian tradition should be followed, and the only appropriate place for sexual relations is within marriage between a man and a woman? Why, Mr. Bill, you intolerant bigot! We'll say what Bishop Sluggo has to say about that."

    Oh, no, not Bishop Sluggo. He's going to be mean to me!"

    "Don't be silly, Mr. Bill, Bishop Sluggo believes in justice and inclusiveness. +Sluggo says you need more 'education' and 'dialogue'. Come here, and let me reshape your head."

    "Oh, no!"

    "What's that, Mr. Bill? You're tired of me trying to reshape your head, and are going to join another church? Well, okay, but Bishop Sluggo says that the house you live in is his house, not yours. I'm going to you to kick you out. Bon voyage! [pop]"

    "Ooooohhhh noooooo..... [splat]"

  36. Counterlight

    I have responded your posts a number of times but my posts unfortunate failed to appear, probably because of electronic glitches.

    The name of my God is Yahweh, the God of Moses, Isaac and Jacob - The God of Jesus and the God of love,truth and grace.

    What is the name of your bigger God?

  37. Fred

    I have responded your posts a number of times but my posts unfortunate failed to appear, probably because of electronic glitches.

    Jesus countered Satan’s use of scripture with the proper use of scripture.

    Some Anglicans do not believe Satan exists, I see you are not one of that opinion.

    I did not consider that quoting from John 3 would upset anyone except you know who.

  38. Fred

    Man’s reasoning is so often deeply flawed and sometimes just plain wrong. Counterlight is right in his excellent post, we are blunderers.

    Traditions change with time and hence cannot be foundational.

    Think about what Jesus said about tradition.

    “They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men. 'You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to the traditions of men." And he said to them: "You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions!””.

  39. counterlight:

    To your points-
    The Bishop of Sydney is not in my Province in America. He does not speak with or for me. That we may agree on some points does not mean that he should be considered the mouthpiece for all things orthodox any more than John Spong should be considered the mouthpiece for all things reappraiser.

    Back to our share of sweeping up.

    This Pirate Service was a disgrace.
    Sound teaching apparently was not enough attraction for an entertainment-oriented and egocentric audience who want their ears tickled.

    It was a disgrace. A bishop of this Province approved it. It is beyond words of disgust and beyond reasonable explanation. I shudder to believe that such people are in vogue and in charge of the direction of this Church. God will not be mocked and this "service" did it.

  40. Thanks billyd for your example of grace.

    I try to turn a blind eye to the kind of insanity done in Christ's name and in our names by our fellow Episcopalians (of all theological persuasions). Sometimes I just get sick.

    Any way you look at it, some of our brothers and sisters have been living too much in the world..and it shows.

  41. anonymous, there is a big difference between traditions and Tradition. And Tradition can most certainly be foundational. Ask the Eastern Orthodox, who consider Scripture to fall under the category of Holy Tradition.

  42. This Pirate Service was a disgrace.


    Sound teaching apparently was not enough attraction for an entertainment-oriented and egocentric audience who want their ears tickled.

    It appears that the congregation was made up largely of VBS students. The blame does not lay with them.

    It was a disgrace. A bishop of this Province approved it.

    To be fair, we don't know that. It occurs to me that a priest who thinks that this the Pirate Eucharist is a good think is not necessarily one who is overly zealous about following the canons.

  43. I am always happy to see Mr. Bill. He can drop in to Emmanuel anytime and be welcome. We are pretty broad church but we have our anglo/catholic wing. (moi)

    Somewhere in this thread the big lie appeared. That lie is that only conservatives can be Anglo-catholics. Just as Jerry Falwell did not have the prerogative of defining "Christian" wrong wingers do not have the perogative of defining the boundaries.


  44. billyd,

    I'm not going to belabor the point that Bishop Besiner approved the Pirate Service. He did. Canons require that bishops approve any alteration to the BCP services. How do I know? Because Bishop Beisner always follows the canons. That's how he had such high moral ground to depose Bob Duncan. For that he should be censured for the absolute HERESEY of soiling the Name of Jesus Christ, defaming the Trinity, altering the Nicene Creed, and creating doctrine not approved in this Church (that Christ was keel-hauled and not crucified). If he didn't approve this "service", then the dean of the cathedral should be replaced. If Bishop Beisner doesn't do that, then HE should be deposed for creating blasphemy and for refusing to exercise jurisdiction in his own diocese.

    Let's see the outrage of many-a-reappraiser for these insults and injuries to Christ. Or is it all about kicking bishops out of the club when they don't tow the line?

  45. Billyd

    I agree with the Orthodox view on Scripture. Thank you for pointing it out.

    God’s words will never pass away.

  46. While I concede that "these day" words often mean whatever we want them to, "Anglo-Catholic" DID mean something at one time. It has an historic and a theological underpinning. So, while in 2008 you may claim the title of "Anglo-Catholic" , you cannot justify yourself as having met the historical/theological/philosophical clear definition of that word unless you hold certain beliefs. I count you as a fellow Christian, perhaps even an Orthodox believer, but not an Anglo-Catholic. In fact, if you are still in TEC and claiming that title, then you may need to reflect on your beliefs, what they mean, and where they should be guiding you.... IMHO. Joel

  47. "The name of my God is Yahweh, the God of Moses, Isaac and Jacob - The God of Jesus and the God of love,truth and grace.

    What is the name of your bigger God?"


  48. Wow: billyd, allen, and I all agree that when it comes to liturgy, anything *doesn't* go.

    I think we as a church have gotten awfully slack about this, and that crosses the whole ideo/theological spectrum, from pirate eucharists to happyclappy types beating drums and convulsing on the floor.

    PowerPoint needs to go, as do inane, repetitious "praise songs." I would also not object too strongly to seeing the end of groovy mod vestments and liturgical "dance."

    We really do have a powerful, beautiful liturgy, and it's getting old seeing people treat it as something optional. If we are going to argue that common worship is what binds us--and we do argue that--then there needs to be something common about that worship.

  49. I wonder if we're overreacting to the "Pirate Eucharist" here.

    I worked for a year in a Judaica shop here in New York, and I noticed a certain light-heartedness in attitudes toward certain sacramental objects that would be unthinkable in Christian congregations. This was especially true in items for festivals and for children. We sold at Channukah time, not only the usual dreidels and Channukah geld, but Channukiahs (sorry, don't know the Hebrew plural for that one) featuring cartoon characters, trains, baseball, and football references, etc. Mezuzzim came in all kinds of shapes from very solemn and simple to some in the shape of Mah Jong tiles and animals. Kippot, especially for young boys, came with cartoon characters; and we carried a whole series of kippot with the patterns of various sports balls, baseball, basketball, football, soccer, even golf and billiards. I won't even go into the whole funhouse that is Purim. Even Passover Haggadah and Seder plates could have their witty touches sometimes.
    These are all sacramental objects. They are the centerpieces of rites that are just as much sacraments for the Jewish people as Eucharist is for us. I seriously doubt that if any sacrilege was intended in these objects, they would be sold in a shop certified by orthodox rabbis.

    Perhaps the "Pirate Eucharist" was stupid and in poor taste, but ultimately harmless.

    I'm quite sure that Our Lord takes far more offense in the sacrileges we inflict on our neighbors created in His image, than on whatever do or not with bread and wine, blessed or not, on the Altar.

  50. allen...I know this is going to come as a shock to you.... you say, "Canons require that bishops approve any alteration to the BCP services." People, and even clergy sometimes, alter the service without approval of anybody.

    In our parish we were using an approved experimental liturgy alternative reponse to the end of the readings, "Hear what the Spirit is saying to the Churches." About half our Lay Readers end up saying, "Here what the Spirit is saying to the People."

    About half the people in our congregation respond"and blessed be God's kingdom, now and forever," rather than "and blessed be His Kingdom now and forever." No one told people to do this.

    Now it is sticking.

    Supposedly special liturgies or changes in regular liturgies need to have approval of the Bishop. So, either you get that special permission or not. If you do there is trouble. If not there may be trouble, but likely not unless someone picks up on the whole thing and runs off with it.

    BTW accusing Bishop Besiner of Heresy on the basis of there being a goofy liturgy in his diocese is a bit of a reach.

    Maybe asking him directly if he makes any effort to talk about liturgical expectations in the diocese might make more sense. My experience is that very few bishops make much of a point of giving direction about liturgical actions by their clergy.

    Allen... you are using up your snit here. Maybe get your own blog if you don't have one.

  51. I don't know anything about the supposed "Pirate Eucharist" (I don't live in Sacramento anymore), but I do want to say a word about Bishop Barry Beisner.

    Like +Gene Robinson, +Barry Beisner was well-known to the people of his diocese (Northern California), having served so long among them. They knew about his weaknesses (Yes, he is in his 3rd marriage: he's very humble about it, as I heard in the bishop-candidates' walk-about), and they chose him (over other very capable episcopal candidates) anyway.

    [Anonymous(es): choose a handle, any handle, or spare us your unaccountable blather?]

  52. Anonymous:
    Born again is not my way of talking about the process of salvation. I do not deny the literal words, but those words have been absconded with by groups that profess a different faith than I. While those faith believers have a right to their beliefs I just do not, as a usual thing, expect to see that phrase bantied about in the Episcopal Church. I was saved a little over 2000 years ago on a hill known as Calvary. I read a love poem to me that you call the Bible but in fact is God's love for me poured on on me. I cringe when certain groups steal that love poem and do not let everyone read it and discover for themselves the relationship we are to enter.
    Finally, reason, scripture and tradition, the three legged stool provides balance to all things. Without that stool we becomes Calvinists or Romans or who knows what! It would be nice (a novel approach) for you to at least name yourself.

  53. Mark Harris:

    To your points-

    Why are things a "snit" when they demand thought and response beyond comfort? Your thread here is about Anglican Land and churches in it. How about a real view rather than an imagined fanciful view? How about what actually happens in one part of the Land? It's disconcerting to be sure, but at least it's real rather than imagination.

    To the canons: Supposedly we are a Church of canons. Or are we 112 independent jurisdictions? To not follow the canons is to give credence to the argument that we are certainly not a hierarchical Church. What canons are worth following? Why do you get to decide? Or any single bishop? Or me? If we don't like canons, we should use them and adhere to them until we can get them changed. Until then, they are what keep order. Bishop Beisner obviously has little liturgical order in his cathedral if he doesn't even know what goes on. I live across country and I know what happens, so why shouldn't he?

    Pirate Eucharist as a "goofy" thing: "Goofy" is just a pass for what is indefensable. After you've read the "Nicene Creed" in that service, come back and tell me that the service wasn't heresy. The bishop is in charge, and if he's so lax as to NOT know what goes on in his cathedral, then his inattentiveness is what is leading to the disgrace and heresy in his own backyard. Therefore, he IS responsible. How hard is it to put out a clear letter that all innovations be cleared by him? Bishops certainly clear the forest over property matters, so how hard is one yearly note on liturgics? I don't buy the argument that it was beyond him.

  54. When people would ask my father if he had been saved, he would answer just as Fred Schwartz has answered: On the first Good Friday. I am my father's daughter. About ten years ago I applied for an assistant's position in an Episcopalian church somewhere in Florida. I knew from the rector's questionnaire I would likely not be considered. It asked that I write about when I had been born again and other questions along that line.

    I wrote that my father always answered as above, and that I was born again at my baptism as a child and that I was continually growing into that new birth.

    The answer I received from the rector was that my point of view regretably would not accord with that which his congregation were being taught. I remember thinking, that's too bad that he is not able to allow a different point of view from his, but I had not expected any different response.

    That was when it began to become clear to me that a different Episcopal Church was being born from that in which I had been raised from the age of six.

    I will continue as my father taught me - I choose Mr. Bill's church, in honor of my father, whose name was also Bill.

  55. Oh, and thanks, Mark for this post. It is wonderful and beautiful and inspiring.

  56. I was saved a little over 2000 years ago on a hill known as Calvary.

    I'm from Texas, where you're apt to be asked about the particulars of your salvation by complete strangers. When I was at the University of Texas about a hundred years ago the Episcopal chaplain, the Rev. Chris Hines, taught me this as a response and have cherished it ever since.

  57. I see that a number of folks have gotten their knickers in a twist about the "Pirate Eucharist" at Fresno Cathedral. It is not immediately obvious that any of the commenters actually attended this service. Unless someone who was a participant has some specifically descriptive light to shed, perhaps it is time to give it a rest.

    Next rant: PowerPoint. I am one whose initial reaction to the use of PowerPoint slides in the liturgy was "nnnnhh..." But (1) I did attend a service once in an evangelical megachurch. They used PowerPoint for the words of the hymns, and as I recall for scripture readings. Although the service was not exactly my cup of tea, the PP was well done, and the alternate would have been the logistics of funding and distributing a gazillion printed hymnbooks. (2) I have attended a couple of "U2charists." In their context I thought them appropriate and well done. (Those of you who think it necessary to share with us the fact that you have just soiled yourself, please spare us.) The U2charists used PowerPoint to display both the words of the songs (with which the congregation sang along with some gusto) and also the readings and the liturgical texts (straight BCP). The PP screen was clearly readable but did not interfere with the liturgical action, and the slides were well designed.

    Perhaps someone would explain to me why PowerPoint slides are a stench in the nostrils of the Almighty, whereas God is more greatly honored by a congregation of people with their noses stuck in a succession of Prayer Books, Hymnals, and Lesson Inserts (together with a handful of first-time visitors whose initial reaction to worship in The Episcopal Church is that it's "too hard").

    I'm just sayin'....

  58. I've decided to go with an answer attributed to either a Scottish or Welsh bishop that I read about either here or over at Jake's old place. The bishop left the diocesan offices and wasn't in clericals for some reason. He'd had a tough day and a random person (similar to those from TX that billyd talks about or the plethora of them here in LA - Lower Alabama) person asked him if he was "saved."

    He promptly replied that he'd been saved in his baptism, was being saved continually, and would be saved at the eschaton.

    I was saved in my baptism (whether I was taught it or not, whether I realized it or not), I am being saved (as I move on to perfection) and I will be saved when Christ comes in final victory and we feast at that heavenly banquet forever.

  59. Speaking of bishops allowing bizarre things to go on in their cathedrals, does anyone else recall none other than John David Schofield allowing a so-called "prophet" to come to Fresno and hold forth in his cathedral there? (For the amazingly low sum of just $150, he will also make you a prophet! I don't know if he will also throw in a free set of Ginsu steak knives, but I wouldn't be surprised.)

    Details are here.

    It's truly staggering what passes for "orthodoxy" among the angry fringe, and given what Scripture says about false prophets, the alleged prophet's visit to Fresno is probably more serious than the pirate eucharist, as stupid and tasteless as that most assuredly was.

  60. Billyd said:

    "With all due respect, Anglo-Catholicism is more than a taste for bells and smells."

    Yes. And it is also much more than mimicking the arrogance, misogyny and homophobia of the Vatican.

  61. I'm agreeing with my new friend wsjm. It's time to move on.

    Pirate Eucharists, syncretism of all types, and heterodoxy are just givens in TEC. Nothing else to see here ... until next time.
    ARRRGGH. Praise Gaia, and take a swirl through the Buddhist labyrinth. All is well.

    Perhaps so much ground has slid away from under our feet that this stuff doesn't shock anymore.


  62. I've been in touch with the priest who presided at the Pirate Eucharist. He seems like a well-intentioned guy whose main purpose in holding the service was to reach the unchurched. That doesn't excuse the service, but I think it means that he wasn't intentionally dishonoring Christ or his Mysteries.

    And, as I told him in my last e-mail, for all its faults at least the Pirate Eucharist doesn't have the deep creepiness of the Clown Mass. Clowns (*shudder*).

    The Church survived the sacrilegious acts of Henry VII in dissolving the monasteries and destroying saints' shrines and relics, the iconoclasm of Edward's Protestant fervor, the banning of the BCP and the episcopate under the Commonwealth, the butchery of the Communion Service that the editors of the 1662 BCP perpetrated, and the torpor of the 18th century. Not all of these were the result of good intentions. We just might survive the liturgical aberrations of the early 21st century, too. We've been through worse.

  63. take a swirl through the Buddhist labyrinth

    The Buddhists have labyrinths? Who knew? And here I thought it was a medieval thing...


  64. Allen, it seems to me that there is a great deal of difference between an odd (in all senses of the word) Pirate mass, and the wholesale revamping of the liturgy. Bp. Beisner is not making Pirate masses the norm for either the Diocese or the Cathedral. Amidst all the other stupidities that we do in Christ's name, this one pales.

    Consider another example of "unauthorized" liturgical actions, pretty common in almost every Diocese: youth Sunday. Our parish had one last Sunday, an annual event--my daughter was a Lay Eucharistic Minister for the first time, various other teenagers read the lessons, preached the sermon, and led the prayers of the people. Now all these roles require licensure by the Bishop, and none of these fine folks was licensed. Does this mock the canons, the Bishop's authority, the very notion of decent order? I don't think so. Would it do so if it continued thus every Sunday? Now we might be onto something. So--get real about the Pirate mass. One swallow does not make a spring; one weirdly done-up liturgy--aimed at the unchurched and at children, no less--does not make us all into Gaia-worshippers.

  65. Wait 'til GC '09 when the insanity in the name of us all gets spewed into sweeping guilt-ridden resolutions. That famous activist body will prove that there is little to attract anyone BUT a liberal.

    So, does this mean that the thousands of members in the Diocese of Pittsburgh CAN decide if they want to remain in TEC?

    Now that Bishop Duncan is gone, gone will be the rationale that one man can decide for the whole.

    Yes. The members can leave anytime they want.

    The members.

    Our diocese, get used to it. You're so big on obedience, obey the church you willingly joine. That's humility, and you and your friends clearly lack it.

    The fact still remains, you have told a lie about no accomodation being made (I note, to your credit, you don't deny it) and have glossed over the inexcusable attempts to stage a coup by these "orthodox christians." I frankly find suspect the idea that any one man can decide for the whole.

  66. "he understands that 'and the Son' will be removed the next time the BCP is revised" to be ecumenical.
    But ordaining a woman bishop and a bishop living with another man-how do they help impress the Orthodox?
    Are you familiar with the phrase 'straining the gnats'?

  67. Pirate Eucharists, syncretism of all types, and heterodoxy are just givens in TEC.

    Syncretism, whether people nowadays like it or not, is a part of our rich cultural, historical, Christian past. The Advent wreath? A Teutonic fire-wheel for the sun god. The placement of the major feasts of the Church (Christmas and Easter) isn't just about historically when they happened in the first century; they were specifically placed in a way to co-opt pagan feast times get get "heathens" into churches. Before Christ we have oodles of syncretism through Judaism's absorbing bits and pieces of Zoroastrian myths, legends, and concepts.

    And as for youth's not being licensed, get it done! :-D I don't think that was mocking the Canons at all, but rather an excellent jumping off point for more involvement of youth in the Work of the People. Full rights at baptism. I work at a campus ministry and am involved in the only parish in our city; the parish has permission from the bishop to allow non-confirmed college students who attend regularly to be a part of the lector schedule.

  68. Wasn't it Henry 8th, not 7th who dissolved the monasteries?
    And why was that sacriligious? If you don't need them or want them anymore, get rid of them.

  69. You're right, Fred - it was Henry VIII. Pardon my typo.

    As far as omitting the filioque, the main reason isn't rapprochement with the Orthodox, I would think, but the fact that its addition to the Creed was unwarranted. Only an Ecumenical Council would have the authority to alter a creed pubished by an Ecumenical Council.

    I can't tell if your question about the monasteries is your customary gadfly behavior or an honest question. Giving you the benefit of the doubt, one reason it was a sacrilege because Henry acted out of a desire for enriching himself. That and the fact that it's not up to the monarch whether or not the Church has monasteries. If neither of those satisfy you, how about the secular sacrilege that was the dispersal and destruction of priceless Church art that the dissolution involved?

  70. Bishop Beisner was my first Rector after I moved to CA (and before he was a Bishop). +Barry impressed me immediately as quite canonically pure.

    I remember the "Pirate Service". It was all in good fun and designed to inject a little levity and currency into a church which is sometime seen as stuck somewhere around 1692 AD. While I withhold judgment on Bishop Duncan's deposition, (not being up to speed on that), I feel personal attacks on my former Rector and now Bishop based upon his marital status has no place here.

    Does being "thrice married" disqualify one from serving in God's Church? I sure hope not as I share that status.

    I came to the Episcopal Church because of it's broadness and acceptance of me as I am. I feel the "US Anglicans" in taking a step back from this acceptance are doing our Communion a disservice by sending it back in time to 1692.

    Finally remember Henry VIII. Our Communion was born of protest. Why should this be different?

  71. Being a state church leaves you with a very limited range of options.
    If the law/king/government/parliament say that "The monasteries are part of the church but since we're in charge of the church, we can do with them what we want" you have very few options. You can agree to be hanged at the doorways or hold them off with whatever weapons you have, you can excommunicate them, but if they ignore your excommunication, you have pretty much run out of things you can do.
    The loss of books was terrible; I have read that some of them were covered with tar and used to dress sick fruit tree.
    But once the government decided that monasticism was not the way to go, it's hard to see what the church could do. Another argument for disestablishing churches.

  72. We're all being asked to write a 700 billion dollar check to Wall Street with no conditions attached, economists are using words like "depression," people are already losing jobs and homes by the tens of thousands, and you folks are STILL arguing over people having a Eucharist with pirate accents????

    Jesus wept!!

    I think some perspective is in order here.

  73. Joseph Matthews,
    I would like to borrow your comments on Baptism -- Cool beans dude!

    Also, why do we worry so much about what others have done when we could be working on our own relationship with our God. It has always seemed to me that more I work on my relationship with my God the more merciful my God gets. (lucky thing for me).

  74. Returning to the actual subject of Mark's post: Mark, I have to tell you that I find the continual assertion of TEC's broadness and inclusiveness is quite tiresome. I'm sure what many conservative Episcopalians hear from this is: "We're so broad and inclusive that there is even space for bigots, homophobes, and fundies like you, as long as you know your place. Aren't we wonderful? We can't understand why you don't feel at home among us!"

    If broadness and inclusiveness is the ideal for the church (and frankly, I think it misses the point), then it's an ideal you haven't reached as well as you think.

  75. "Inclusive" is not the same as "we believe what you believe." It also means "we understand that you believe what you are saying, we will not punish you for that, though we may believe you wrong."

    You're right, rb, the church isn't inclusive if you make the error that inclusive means you will always be comfortable there. I am not comfortable with our bishops being - as I perceive - a doormat to the Reasserter agenda and have told them so. Their response, which I accept without liking, is "We understand that you believe what you are saying, and will not punish you for that, though we believe you wrong."

    Life's just difficult that way, and God is not going to make any place in which you feel comfortable with others if you give nothing to others.

  76. I agree that "inclusiveness" needs to go both ways -- i.e. to those on the OTHER SIDE of whichever faction of the Anglican semi-schism one is on.

    Our parish was decimated this Spring by a large number of charter members decamping to the neighboring Southern Cone Diocese of San Joaquin. Our Rector last Sunday preached that we need to include these folks in our mission, reach out to them when we see them at market or around town and generally love them. Once we do that, we pray that this love is returned.

    We must see out brothers and sisters not as "gay loving heretics" or as "homophones and bigots" - both terms I've recently heard directed at others in context of our church.

    We must not forget that we all sit around Christ's table, and that includes "the other guys".

  77. They called them homophones?!

    I'm outraged!

    Seriously though, there is a difference between name-calling and simply refusing to accept someone's point of view as the direction for the entire group.

    What the Reasserters are attempting to do is force the rest of us to bow down to the interpretation they have. Unfortunately, while one can make accomodation for difference within an inclusive framework, one cannot accomodate destruction of inclusivity and maintain that framework. We mustn't fall prey to utopianism or angelism.

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OK... Comments, gripes, etc welcomed, but with some cautions and one rule:
Cautions: Calling people fools, idiots, etc, will be reason to bounce your comment. Keeping in mind that in the struggles it is difficult enough to try to respect opponents, we should at least try.